Let’s have a Slow Fashion October

Let's have a Slow Fashion October

Ever since my post the other day (well, since last Me Made May, actually) I’ve been thinking about the need for another sort of month. I believe this is perfectly clear but let me repeat myself just in case: I think Me Made May is awesome and important and completely wonderful — I support it fully and do not wish to detract from it in any way. It was created by and for sewers, though, and it just so happens that it’s not especially well-timed for knitters. (Unless you live in Denver, where it’s still snowing!) So I’ve long been pondering a month better suited for knitters, but the world doesn’t need another me-made month, per se. And besides which, I’d like the scope of this to be different and broader. I’d like us to be able to celebrate not only our own makes (although definitely that!) but clothes that have been made for us by others; worn over the course of years or decades; handed down or rescued from thrift shops or attics; mended; handcrafted in the small studios of slow fashion designers and/or from ethical fabrics; and so on. I want it to be about responsible and sustainable fashion in all its splendor, in other words. An opportunity to discuss and explore the wide range of topics that are at the core of slow fashion. Fall is undeniably peak fashion season, and by October there’s pretty sure to be a bit of a chill in the air in most of the US (a bit colder up north!), while hopefully still a bit of a chill lingering for our friends down under as well. So it seems perfect to me.

I’ll have a lot more to say between now and then about ways to participate and contribute (beyond IG selfies), but I wanted to publicly put the idea forth in the meantime. So who’s in?

Photos from my Amanda cardigan and my Make, Knit, Mend post, which I hope you’ll read if you haven’t before

May make No. 1: Gathered Skirt

May make No. 1: the Gathered Skirt

We’re already a third of the way through the month and I’m just now at the first of my four pledged makes for Me Made May. This is the Gathered Skirt for All Ages from the Purl Bee and, as expected, it’s way too voluminous. As I was pondering it and cutting it out, I kept hearing my friend Whitney, who looks killer in skirts like this, urging me to embrace the fullness. After scrutinizing the pattern to grasp the logic of the various proportions and how they come together, and deciding to make it once as written and then assess how to change it for the next time, I just couldn’t do it. I made the second size but cut the main panels (the front and back pieces) to 30″ wide instead of 34″, removing 8 inches of fabric from the total circumference, and still it’s too much fabric for me. But is it cute?

I like it from the front — I adore the side panels and the way the pockets stick out — but when I actually turn to the side, I appear to be at least three times my actual size. I think a puffy skirt like this looks cute on a little girl, but on a woman my age, maybe not so much. Somehow it’s not quite as horrible looking in the photos as it is in my mirror, and I do think I like the fullness in the back, so maybe I’ll leave this one alone and make another. But what I believe I’m going to do is tweak this one thusly: Remove the waistband and pull out the gathering in the front panel only. Once that’s a flat panel again, I’ll fold it in half and sew a seam down it, a few inches in, then cut away all of that excess. Regather the front and reattach the waistband. So it will have a new seam down the center, which I think is fine with the other vertical seams in the skirt, but with several inches less fabric in the front. Although I can’t help wondering if I couldn’t just carve a wedge out of the front instead of going through all of that. I promise to share the makeover if/when it happens.

The fabric is Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer in, uh, blackish that I bought at Fancy Tiger on our way through Denver last summer — a light and drapey linen/rayon blend. I’m ambivalent about the rayon content and really wish it weren’t made in China. (This is the hardest thing about trying to be a conscientious sewer — and I find it’s much harder with fabric than with yarn.) But I had heard raves about it, it was already in my tiny fabric stash, and I figured it might wind up being my muslin for this pattern. I will say, it is lovely to work with and to wear. It shrinks quite a bit in the wash — I think it’s listed as 54″ wide but it was 48″ after washing. Since the skirt is all rectangles, I folded the fabric in half, got out my t-square and rotary cutter, cut the end of the length so it was clean and perpendicular, and then just lined up my cuts. I made one cut at 30″, then trimmed the two ends so I had two pieces 30″ x 23″. The next cut was at 8″ for the side panels, which wound up being 24″ each (i.e., the full width of my fabric, halved) rather than the prescribed 25.5″ — so my finished pockets ended up being 8″ deep instead of 9.5″, which is plenty. (Note that I top-stitched across the pockets to keep the layers from drooping.) Next cut was at 8″ again, trimmed down to 16″ tall for the two pocket panels. Then a last cut at 3″, with the selvages trimmed off, for a waistband piece 3″ x 38.5″ So I got the whole skirt out of 49″ — not quite 1.5 yards — rather than the 2.5 yards the pattern calls for. I also hemmed it to 23″ with a 3/4″ hem, rather than the 2″ wide, 22.5″ hem given in the pattern. Oh, and my waistband wound up being not quite wide enough for the 3/4″ elastic. So I need to either cut a new waistband if I do the mod, or get narrower elastic if I don’t.

Either way, the big trick for me is just learning how to wear a skirt! Especially a full one like this. Being not very girly, I’m aiming for a sort of Margaret Howell-inspired style. Or Amish, as my husband put it. I’m ok with that!

May make No. 1: the Gathered Skirt

 

Exciting times

Exciting times for Fringe Supply Co

Friday was moving day for Fringe Supply Co. and I thought I’d share some “before” shots of the new space. I tried not to grouse too much about this publicly, but while it had its merits (the brick wall, high ceilings and the fact that it was available when I needed it!) the space we’ve been in since the move to Nashville has been, well, a bit of a trial for me. It was the right size at the time I signed the lease, which I knew would mean we’d grow out of it quickly — and so we did — but the worst part was it had no windows. I’m a fresh-air-and-daylight kind of girl. One of the hardest things for me about the move from CA to TN is that I no longer get to have my windows open 360 days of the year. But during business hours here, I had no windows at all. After eight hours in that room on any given day, I would feel dizzy from the fluorescent lighting and the sensory deprivation. It was a situation I hoped would last only a few months but it wound up lasting ten. But the amazingly good news is that the new space — just down the hall from the old one — is too big for us (lots of room to grow) and has both windows and a skylight! So life has been immeasurably improved. No more tripping over boxes on my way to my table, and let me tell you: I will never take windows for granted again.

So these shots are from the move-in. This space used to be the stockroom of Nisolo Shoes, and if you look through their Instagram feed you’ll see lots of photos of the room stacked all the way to the 15′ ceiling with shoeboxes. They were kind enough to leave behind the shelves, which Bob and I began to augment on Saturday to suit Fringe’s needs, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do unpacking and furnishing the place for what we want to do here. I’ll be sharing progress on the @fringesupplyco feed on IG. And once we’re settled in, watch for further news of more ways we plan to use this space!

Our Tools, Ourselves: Whitney Ott

In Our Tools, Ourselves, we get to know fiber artisans of all walks, ages, styles and skill levels, by way of their tools. For more on the series, read the introduction.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Whitney Ott

A couple of years ago, I became Instagram friends with a photographer named Whitney Ott — whose feed features exquisite photos of food and flora and her awesome dog, Scout, among other things — not knowing at first that she was a knitter. Eventually that became apparent, and I also found out that her mother even owns a yarn store (which soon thereafter became a FSCo stockist). We got into a big email exchange about all sorts of things, and I asked her at one point if she’d be interested in doing Our Tools, Ourselves, but it got lost in all the other chatter. Two years hence I renewed the invitation, and today — at long last — my wish for a peek into her knitting life has come true! (My motto for the week seems to be good things are worth waiting for.) Thanks, Whitney!

You can find Whitney at her website and on IG as @ohhellowlo.

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Do you knit, crochet, weave, spin, dye, sew … ?

When I was around the age of 12 or 13, my mother taught me how to knit. She’s been a knitter for as long as I can remember and I am glad that she decided to pass on her knowledge to me. Knitting is such a therapeutic activity for me that I can’t imagine doing anything else. The rhythmic click of two needles, luscious yarn and a comfortable chair are so very rewarding.

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

I have been a fan of the Addi Turbo circular needles for a long time, and I think I own duplicates and triplicates of most sizes. I tend to mainly use circular needles regardless of the project. When I use DPNs, I like to use wood because it tends to bend a little with my knitting movements.

Our Tools, Ourselves interview: Whitney Ott

How do you store or organize your tools? Or do you?

Every part of me wants to tell you that I have everything very neatly organized inside some kind of beautiful wooden chest. However, this is sadly not the case. To be fair, most of my yarn is in a designated area and either stored up in canvas bags or in a bin. My knitting patterns are the most neatly organized of the lot. I keep all of my knitting books together on a bookshelf and all of my loose leaf patterns are kept in a giant binder.

It’s the needles that seemed to be scattered everywhere. True story: After a day of running errands, I came home and saw something weird coming out of one of my rolled up sleeves. It was 24″ Addi Turbo connector. I have also walked out of the house wearing a set of needles around my neck by accident. Such is my life.

My husband and I are in the middle of moving from a loft to a house, and I am embarrassed by all of the stitch markers, loose DPNs and other accoutrements that I have found scattered everywhere. I am going to try to be better about my storage system in the new place.

How do you store or organize your works-in-progress?

I have many canvas bags that have permanent homes by the sofa. Some of those bags have smaller bags inside them that have the smaller projects in them. Do knitting chests exist? If so, I want one.

I used to be that person who had five to ten projects going on at the same time. I started to notice that projects weren’t getting finished, and some were being forgotten. So, the last couple of years, I have been making a concerted effort to have no more than three projects going at the same time. It’s really difficult to do because I am like every other fiber enthusiast and want to knit everything.

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

I’m going to count my ability to knit as my prized possession. Like I mentioned already, my mom taught me how to knit, and I am just so glad she did. Her mother and her mother’s mother were also knitters. You could say that knitting is part of my lineage. I never had the chance to know my grandmother, so for me knitting is like having a connection to her.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Whitney Ott

Do you lend your tools?

I’ve never had to lend my tools to anyone, but if I did, I would probably only lend things to my mom or someone that I really trust.

What is your favorite place to knit?

My preference is to either enjoy knitting by myself or with my mom and/or aunt. Like I mentioned earlier, knitting is more of a therapeutic activity, so being part of a knitting group wouldn’t be too relaxing for me. I like to focus more on the knitting and tending to light conversation. I also tend to zone out when I’m knitting, so I probably wouldn’t make for good conversation.

What effect do the seasons have on you?

I would say that I’m an all-seasons knitter. Even though I live in the south, I will still knit with wool in the summer.

Our Tools, Ourselves interview: Whitney Ott

Do you have a dark secret, guilty pleasure or odd quirk, where your fiber pursuits are concerned?

The first fair isle sweater I knit, I didn’t do a proper job of checking my gauge. What I really mean to say is I didn’t check my gauge at all. I was too stoked to be starting such a fun project! The finished size is perfect for a small child instead of an adult. Surprisingly, I wasn’t too upset by the outcome. The joy of knitting it far outweighed the final piece.

I’ve obviously learned from my mistake and force myself to do the gauge swatch, but if something doesn’t work out, I don’t go crazy. I don’t feel like all of my knitting has to be perfect, so I am very forgiving of minor mistakes or errors I make. It’s probably a cliché to say it, but I kind of like having a small “mistake” in my knitting. It makes it unique!

What are you working on right now?

Currently, I am working on Slope, from Shibui’s newest pattern line, and also my husband’s first hand-knitted sweater, which is the Rift pattern from Brooklyn Tweed’s BT Men Volume 2. We’ve been married for almost two years, so I figured it was time he got a sweater. However, I have a lot of projects I want to start! I’m trying to pick yarn for some pillows that I want to knit for our first house together. I’ve got some friends who are having babies, so I am having fun picking out sweet little hat, blanket and animal patterns. I also want to knit an afghan. The list never ends!

Our Tools, Ourselves interview: Whitney Ott

PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Courtney Spainhower (Pink Brutus Knits)

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Photos © Whitney Ott

 

New Favorites: Tanks!

New Favorites: Tank sweater knitting patterns

It always amazes me how many ways people dream up to knit a little tank sweater, but these super simple versions are the ones I want right now:

TOP: Aster by Dawn Catanzaro is designed for Quince’s awesome aran-weight linen Kestrel (which I made my striped tank from last year), while …

BOTTOM: Farrah by Wool and the Gang is designed for their Shiny Happy Cotton

Perfect summer staples, knitted up in no time!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from Plucky’s Spring Forward collection

Elsewhere

Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

No chatter from me today, just a pile of great links for you!

How to style your L’Arbre Hat (you did make a L’Arbre Hat, right?)

Jaime’s new quilt is jaw-dropping

– Congrats to Hannah Fettig on her new book, Home & Away (which includes assorted Fringe Supply Co. goods for props!)

This warms my cockles

A seamworker’s Guide to Nashville (to augment my little Nashville guide)

Too good for words, Gridjunky, too good for words

– Has anyone tried the Knitter’s Toolbox app yet?

– I’m eager to see the True Cost Movie, releasing at the end of this month

– Related: the Grow Your Jeans project

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

My first, sort-of Me Made May pledge

My first, sort-of Me Made May pledge

Me Made May kicked off last Friday and, while I’m excited to be seeing so many handmade outfits appearing in my IG feed, I’ve been feeling a little sad that my fledgling handmade wardrobe isn’t to a point where I can participate in any real way — especially since the vast majority of my me-mades are wool sweaters. When I wrote about my handmade wardrobe role models recently, I linked to Zoe’s overview from last year, and I just went and read this year’s version. I can’t pledge to wear a certain number or percentage of handmades this month, but I’ve decided to make a different kind of pledge. While I’m cheering everyone else on in their wears, I’m going to focus on making. So I hereby pledge to make one garment per week for the month of May, or four finished garments by the end of the month. But my bigger pledge to myself is to have assembled a meaningful handmade wardrobe (knitted and sewn) by next May!

If you’re not already doing so, keep an eye on the #memademay and #mmmay15 hashtags on Instagram this month.

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Pictured are my Vintage Waistcoat, modified Wiksten Tanks No. 1 and No. 1a, and Togue Stripes tank