New Favorites: Market bags

New Favorites: Market bags

Every year around this time, I have the thought that perhaps it would be fun to knit a little market bag, and I go have a look at all the ones I’ve bookmarked over the past few years. Every year, I decide these two by Pam Allen are the cream of the crop: the Dejeuner Bag up top — my very favorite — and the Rue Mouffetard. This year I actually have a skein of linen in want of a purpose (left over from grandma’s shawl) but the bags are so pretty in that natural Sparrow I can’t imagine doing anything else.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Paloma

FO Sightings: Woollenflower’s Faroese dream

FO Sightings: Woollenflower's Faroese dream shawl

I know it’s only been two days since I publicly swore off shawl knitting, but there is one looming temptation. Remember a few months ago when I kicked off that #vitalknits hashtag? The lovely Julia Billings, aka @woollenflower (who you should totally follow if you don’t already), posted the shot above of her incredible Faroese-style shawl and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. (Here it is on Ravelry.) This is my idea of The Perfect Shawl: massive and enveloping, yet light; garter stitch interrupted by a spare, geometric lace design; and the perfect amount and length of fringe. Turns out it’s from a pattern quite straightforwardly called Faroese Lace Pattern Shawl, found in an out-of-print book. Jules tells me it was one of the first books she read when she was a new knitter and that the traditionally written pattern was beyond her skills at the time. She set it aside until she was ready, a few years ago now, and she wears this shawl more than anything else she’s made. Understandably. It may be out of print, but the good news is Jules is writing her own Faroese-style pattern inspired by this beauty — so watch for more news of that soon.

By the way, this reminds me quite a bit of Handepande’s incredible shawl that I blogged about forever ago and have longed for every day since. Apparently when it comes to shawls, I have a type.


PREVIOUSLY in FO Sightings: Sumiko’s steeked Sundottir


To grandmother’s house we go

To grandmother's house we go

I’m pants at taking modeled shawl photos, y’all. What is so hard about it? So here it is recumbent: grandma’s shawl for her 90th birthday, nearly six weeks late by the time it gets to Texas. It had been awhile since I knitted a shawl and I forgot how long it takes. Plus they trick you by being really quick at the beginning — filling you with false confidence — and then getting slower and sloowwer and slooowwwer. I started this a week before her birthday (obviously cutting it too close) and thought it might be a week or two late. Lesson learned: Never knit shawls!

Anyway, I feel pretty sure she’ll love it, and I hope that she does. For all my grousing, and despite the tardiness, I am very happy to have this to give to her, and hope it will warm her shoulders for many years to come. And that I can take a pic of her in it one of these days.

As previously noted, it’s Orlane’s Textured Shawl Recipe (my how-to notes here) in Shibui Staccato (70% merino, 30% silk) and Linen (100% linen) held together for all but the bind-off, which I worked in the Staccato alone. I was devoted to EZ’s sewn bind-off when I was a shawl knitter (right up through this, my last one) and the bind-off on this was the most pleasant part. You know how stressful it can be, wondering if your yards-long strand of yarn will hold up to being dragged back and forth through every one of those hundreds of stitches — how it can strain and stick and twist and try to knot up on you? The Staccato was a dream for this. And the finished, blocked fabric — the merino/silk and linen blend — is divine. Drapey and light and wonderful. Well worth the fussiness of working those two together.

Row counts and other factoids on Ravelry.

One, two, shuffle my queue (plus a public service plea!)

One, two, shuffle my queue

The shawl is off the needles and on the blocking board! Which means I get to cast on a you-know-what (or three). My mail has been particularly yarny this week, in conjunction with the shuffling of my knitting queue:

The army-green O-Wool Balance up top is not for any of the things I’ve proposed army green for before. Rather, it’s for something I can’t quite talk about. I have a really fun and intriguing pattern in mind for this September’s big Fringe and Friends Knitalong, but there’s one major modification I think a lot of people will want to make. So I’m testing that mod before settling on the knitalong pattern, and will therefore keep this preliminary version under wraps until I’m ready to say more about all of that!

The beautifully farmy silver-grey yarn in the middle is for a pattern I’ve agreed to write, with the knitted garment and graded pattern (eek!) due in six weeks, so that’s an urgent one. And that is the sum total of what I’m able to say about that little project. Also to be revealed this fall.

And then there’s the Hole & Sons. Don’t hate me, but I got lucky and scored some from the second batch — in the new figgy-charcoal color called Shale. Haven’t decided what it will be yet, but I fear whatever it is may jump in front of my long-planned Channel cardigan to become my Rhinebeck sweater. So I’ll need to figure it out in time to cast on this summer.

But meanwhile, I have a pressing need for a good lightweight, neutral cardigan for the aggressively air-conditioned indoors of summer. My friends at Shibui sent me a pile of yarns I’ve had my eye on, so I’ll be squeezing in a swatch for that wherever I can, and hoping to get time to knit it before too long!

NOW — SOMETHING EXTREMELY IMPORTANT I want to talk to you about, completely unrelated: As knitters and sewers of the attentive sort, you’re no doubt aware of the perilous demise of the textile and garment industries in this country in recent years. Mills have largely disappeared. Factories have closed or crawl along with aging staff and no younger generation to pass the knowledge on to. The gravity of the situation has been driven home to me over the past year as I’ve searched for a domestic factory to produce the Fringe Supply Project Bag — it’s a distressingly difficult proposition, and one that shouldn’t be difficult at all. Everyone wonders why I don’t just have it made in China. (All of which also contributed to my proposal for Slow Fashion October.)

You may also be aware that we moved to Nashville last year because of the thriving maker community here. In addition to other disciplines, there is a concentration of small-batch fashion designers, as well as weavers and fiber artists and, now, Fringe Supply Co. Recently, the Nashville Fashion Alliance was formed, with the goal of creating the infrastructure these small companies need to thrive right here. Networking, shared resources, and most important, job training to create a sizable work force of skilled sewers. And there’s a ready employer — a factory with plenty of work for those people. It’s due to a connection between a couple of key NFA players that the project bag will finally be going into production this summer, and not only will it not be made in China, it will be made right here in the city limits of Nashville. Can you hear my heart singing?! I’ll have more to say about that soon, but I want you to know right now that the NFA has a Kickstarter campaign going to fund their efforts, primarily the job training program. It ends today and they need your help, and I want you to understand it’s not just about Nashville. It’s about a movement toward bringing garment industry jobs back to the US. Regardless of where you live, if you care about these issues, I’m asking if you’ll help fund the NFA. Even a few dollars helps! Thank you for listening!

SPEAKING OF Fringe Supply Co, the summer issue of Pom Pom is here!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

New Favorites: Paloma

New Favorites: Paloma

Whether it’s the fact that it’s been so long (almost two months!) since I had a sweater on my needles, or even just talking about October, or the fact that it is FREEZING in our new space, I find myself longing to cast on a really big, really cozy sweater. This is an old favorite — on my to-knit list since the day it released last spring — but it’s top of mind at the moment: Thea Colman’s Paloma cardigan, pictured above. Chunky, beautifully textured, long and snuggly, I’m craving it intensely right now. I even love it in that pale pink!


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Tanks!

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

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.

. . .

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)


Photos © Whitney Ott