New Favorites: Groovy crochet tunic

New Favorites: Groovy crochet tunic

I’m still thinking about my new year’s resolution to crochet something, and about the Kelbourne girls’ #crochetsummer14 campaign. It occurred to me I could use this Purl Bee potholder pattern to crochet that Shelter 7 blanket (rug?) I want. Which would probably take me a few summers. But then I came across this Marie Wallin tunic called Gozo that I want even more — in heather grey, of course. I’d seam the sides together, leaving just a long slit at the bottoms, to make it a little less poncho-ish. I don’t think I have anywhere near the crochet skills required to work it, but that’s how we learn, right? I might be crazy enough to try it.

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Our Tools, Ourselves: the Purl Bee crew

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: the Purl Bee crew

Before I had any idea who she was, it was an encounter with Joelle Hoverson’s book More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts that led (within hours) to my learning to knit. You probably already know she’s the co-owner of Purl Soho, that lovely NY store (and webshop) that also supplies us greedy makers with the amazing resource known as The Purl Bee. Having gotten to know Joelle a little bit through Instagram and Pinterest, I asked if she’d be willing to answer my Our Tools, Ourselves questions, and it turned out the whole wildly talented Purl Bee crew wanted to weigh in. So here’s a collective glimpse into the crafting lives of Joelle and Page along with Whitney, Laura, Molly and Corinne, whose names you’re sure to recognize from their copious Purl Bee patterns. Thanks for playing along, ladies!

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

In our private lives, everyone who works on the Purl Bee does a lot of some things and a little of everything else, but publicly, Joelle knits, crochets and sews; Page sews; Whitney knits and crochets; Laura knits and needlepoints; Molly sews and embroiders (and makes friendship bracelets!); and Corinne sews and embroiders … Unless Molly’s crocheting and Laura’s sewing!

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

One thing you’re sure to see at a Purl Bee meeting is a table littered with Purl Soho Zip Bags from Baggu. We all store our projects in them because the zippered opening keeps everything safely inside, no matter how carelessly we treat the bag. And we love the colors!

Another popular tool around here is Sajou’s incredibly beautiful scissors. Half of us vote for the Ciseaux Lievre and half of us are Ciseaux Tour Eiffel fans, but bunnies or monuments, both pairs of scissors are very sharp, very precise and very lovely!

The knitters all agree on a few indispensable tools: Skacel’s new Addi Rocket circular needles have nice, pointy tips and super fast shafts. The combo makes a world of difference when you’re working with lace weight yarns or knitting up fancy stitch patterns. We’re all also newly in love with Fringe Supply’s Brass Stitch Markers, a small detail that adds so much pleasure to knitting!

The sewists on the Bee have some favorites too: We love Merchant & Mills classic tailoring tools: their Pin Magnet, Bodkins and whole collection of straight pins. And we all use Purl Soho’s Hand Sewing Needles which come in a sweet wooden case and are as easy as pie to thread.

And we can’t not mention a few other favorites: the Addi Turbo Needle Gauge (very handy), Clover’s Bias Tape Makers (a must-have), and Ka’s Aluminum Stitch Holders (can’t beat the colors!).

Our Tools, Ourselves: the Purl Bee crew

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

We all seem to “organize” our vast collections of supplies in a vast collection of containers! From vintage enamel pots to candy tins and from plastic bins to woven baskets, we all agree that the chaos is only tenuously under control.

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

The entire Purl Bee team agrees on this one: Baggu Zipper Pouches! Joelle, as a rule, keeps her most current project in the Purl Soho version, which we all think is a pretty smart idea.

Are there any particular prized possessions amongst your tools?

Laura still hangs onto the crochet hook her mother gave her when she learned how to pick up dropped stitches. It’s banged up and battered at this point, but definitely treasured. And we all consider our Sajou scissors pretty special. Since we use them to snip final threads and tails, they’re the tool that comes in to finish the job with style!

Do you lend your tools?

We’d be pretty pathetic craft emissaries if we hoarded all of our tools for ourselves! We all tend to “lend” our tools with no expectation of getting them back. “Just keep it!”

Our Tools, Ourselves: the Purl Bee crew

What is your favorite place to knit/crochet/whatever?

The sewists on our team use their kitchen tables, and since they’re all moms, late nights are their witching hours. The knitters and crocheters are, of course, more mobile: airplanes, couches, floors, subways, parks and movie theaters are some of their favorite spots for sneaking in a few rows.

What effect do the seasons have on you?

We craft year-round, but we definitely use seasonal materials: cotton, bamboo and linen in the summer and cashmere, alpaca and wool in the winter. And in preparation for the winter holidays, we always design a few extra-special things!

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

We all have an embarrassingly large amount of fabric and yarn stashed in the closets, drawers and dark corners of our homes. And like all crafters, we have piles of unfinished projects, dating back to the last century!

What are you working on right now?

Since everything we work on ends up on the Purl Bee, you’re about to find out!

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Naturally, all of the team’s favorite tools are available at Purl Soho. And I’m thrilled to announce that now includes the full line of Fringe Supply Co. original goods!

Our Tools, Ourselves: the Purl Bee crew

PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Anna Maltz

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Nesting fantasies

Nesting fantasies

People keep asking if I know where we’re going to live in Nashville and the answer is: Nope. No idea. I’m just hoping for white walls and hardwood floors — all I ever really hope for — and am happily fantasizing about a new set of rooms and what will go in them. Mostly I’m thinking about blankets. I have an idea I need to test, and I’ll tell you all about it if that pans out. But meanwhile, I ran across these beauties from Shelter 7 (at sfgirlbybay) and now all I can think is “mmmm, crochet.”

I might really have to join Courtney Kelley for her #crochetsummer2014.

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Witnessing the birth of a new yarn

Witnessing the birth of a new yarn

I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite Instagrammers is Benjamin Hole, a phenomenal photographer who works and records daily life on his family’s farm on the Isle of Purbeck. The farm itself is beyond scenic; the bulls are handsome, the sheep adorable. Hole himself seems to be a lovely human being, and does such a beautiful job of telling the daily story of  the farm that I confess I cried when one of his dogs, Hamish, died last year. Some days I wonder if I’ve seen it all enough times to move on, but I can never quite bring myself to stop following, and I’m glad — because last week brought the announcement of big news from the farm. After selling their wool to mills for years, to be used in bedding or blended with other wools, etc., they’ve decided to begin spinning their Poll Dorset wool into their own small-batch yarn, working with a local old mill. The brand is Hole & Sons, and you can follow them on their new website and blog as well as on Instagram.

Of course, there are new yarns born all the time, but this is one perfect example (among many) of a trend I hope continues to grow and grow into normalcy: knowing where your yarn comes from. Appreciating that it once was the fleece of a living, breathing sheep, and understanding the value of maintaining that awareness and connection as yarn addicts, but also valuing traditional, minimally processed yarn that retains its own sense of those sheep.

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All photos Benjamin Hole / Hole & Sons

FO Sightings: Junko’s patchwork shawl

FO Sightings: Junko's patchwork shawl

Ran across this lovely Japanese knitter the other day, Junko, and can’t stop thinking about this shawl from her feed. (Here’s another shot of it.) It’s a totally delightful patchwork quilt of granny squares and garter stitch squares — such a perfect combo. As so many of you recently noted, making little squares and such is the perfect warm-weather way to knit, and a wrap is more achievable (at least for me!) than a whole blanket. Not to mention a great stash-buster …

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Jen Hewett bags: too pretty to last

Jen Hewett drawstring bags: too pretty to last!

You guys, I have something really sweet and special for you in the webshop today: a very limited number of muslin drawstring bags from artist Jen Hewett. They’re lovely and useful and hand-printed and there are only 32 of them in the world and you should rush right over there and get one, but when you get back, I’ll tell you why this is especially special to me. Go ahead …

<whistling>

… so Jen was one of several creative women I was following a couple of years ago when I was pondering throwing caution (aka my job) to the wind and starting Fringe. I found her by way of a very popular pin about her post-it note to-do system and wound up an avid reader of her blog, where she wrote a lot about dividing her time between her corporate HR consulting gig and her creative business. It was all very inspiring and helpful to me, so I owe her a debt of gratitude for unknowingly providing that.

Meanwhile, I’ve been following her on Instagram for a long time, where she’s currently doing a little project called #52weeksofprintmaking. Each week she carves a block just for the sake of flexing her creative muscle (and Instagramming it) and prints it onto something and then Instagrams the finished piece. It might be a pillow or a wall-hanging or just about anything, but it’s just for her. Last week she posted these yarn ball-like blocks and it didn’t really register with me until she showed them printed onto a muslin bag. Even though I know it wasn’t intended to be a product, I immediately asked if I could please have some for Fringe Supply Co. and she obliged, lovingly printing 32 bags, front and back — all by hand — and stamping the inside with her logo. You can see them in the making on her Instagram feed. It makes me really happy to have them in the shop, but I don’t expect them to last long, given how few of them there are.

And if they happen to be gone before you read this, hold out hope that Jen and I will collaborate on more Fringe goods — I know I am.

OH, AND! the gorgeous Rosewood DPNs have been restocked, so all sizes are available again.

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Happy Friday, everyone! Thanks for reading —

Q for You: Does having a yarn stash work?

Q for You: Does having a yarn stash work for you?

Anie and I were talking about this while toiling away at Fringe HQ the other day and she rightly pointed out that it’s an excellent Q for You: Does having a yarn stash ever actually work for anyone?

When I first began knitting, I was earnestly puzzled at how anyone could have a stash. I’d be in a yarn store, still completely overwhelmed trying to figure out what everything meant and how things were organized and so on, and I’d think “How could I possibly buy yarn without knowing what it was going to become? I wouldn’t know how much to buy!” But it wasn’t long before I was acting like a novice gardener at a plant nursery (i.e., a former me) — buying one of everything beautiful just because I had to have it, with no sense of what it might all add up to. By now, between gifts and trades and my own profligacy, I’m in possession of dozens and dozens (and dozens) of single skeins in want of a role to fill.

Sure, sometimes I buy in multiple. But it seems like every time I go to my stash to see if I have something in a certain weight or fiber for a somethingorother that caught my eye, I have one skein where I need two, or three skeins where I need five. I can’t think of the last time I had a project in mind, went to my stash, and found yarn to fulfill that destiny. Every new project requires new yarn, and the stash just grows and grows — all those poor skeins shut away in a closet.

So actually I have two Q’s for You: 1) Does stash work for you — meaning, are you able to shop from your stash instead of running out for new yarn every time you cast on? And 2) What is your favorite one-skein pattern? I’ve just realized I need to put together a collection of perfect single-skein projects (in every weight!) and I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: How do you cast on?