Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

It’s trade show time again, so I’m off to hobknob with the knitterati, but I wanted to load you up with some worthwhile links for the weekend—

– Love the sweater sleuthing from Dianna

– And the gauge investigation from Simone

– And the Cordova Gansey Project (use the links in the right rail to proceed)

Sonya is my idol

– Want (to make) these dresses

Why we dress how we dress

Last Season (thanks, KB)

– On a more somber note, this is not easy to watch but so important to understand (thanks, Renee)

– How many people are choosing to make their own clothes? “The global market for sewing machines is estimated to reach 30.8 million units by 2020, up from about 23.7 million last year.

– Here’s to more clothes like Huelo’s dress becoming less rare and more attainable

East Side Fiber Festival is mere weeks away! Are you coming?

ALSO: The new Taproot is here, and it’s my favorite theme they’ve done yet — Wild! Everything from foraging to fermenting; raising “wild” children; recipes for wild salmon, wild blueberries, wild rice; etc. The are two great tutorials: Margaret Oomen of crocheted rock fame writes about how that all began and shares a how-to for a baby puffin crocheted rock. And our friend Jen Hewett has a tutorial for a beautiful block-printed tea towel. You can grab that at Fringe Supply Co., of course. Embarrassment of riches in the Magazine department right now!

Have a great weekend! See you Monday—

Our Tools, Ourselves: Marlee Grace (Have Company)

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 interview with Marlee Grace (Have Company)

I had the pleasure of making Marlee Grace’s acquaintance last summer at a shopkeeper’s retreat she co-organized, and she’s since become one of my very favorite people — daring and real and hilarious and imaginative. Her newest bold move is to turn part of her beloved shop, Have Company, into Grand Rapids’ only yarn store. She’s been gradually adding small-batch yarns and basic tools to her lineup, and now has the opportunity to become a Quince and Co stockist (for which she’s currently raising money through a Kiva Zip campaign — go have a look). It’s been great fun watching her expand her knitting and sewing skills over the past year, and I’m pleased to share a peek behind the scenes today at her life as a maker.

You can find Marlee on Instagram and her blog, and don’t miss her podcast!

. . .

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

My personal passion is for knitting, although at Have Company I hold space for and am happy to participate in all of the above. Except crocheting. I tried twice, and it feels so unnatural to my body it might be my least favorite thing I’ve ever tried. Other than drawing. I am very bad at drawing.

It wasn’t until this last year that I broke through to knitting things that aren’t rectangles and squares made out of acrylic yarn. I first started knitting at age 12 for a brief time and immediately loved it and how it soothed my ADD. My life shifted toward a dance career and going to college to get my BFA, and I didn’t pick up needles again until 2011, around the time I decided to give up a nasty drug and drinking habit. I’ve stayed sober ever since, and my knitting practice has been a huge part of that journey. Not just the miracle of having something to do with my hands, but lessons in messing up, making mistakes and pushing through to the end, and holding a beautiful garment made from scratch.

I love sewing patchwork and hand quilting and especially passing on this tradition in the form of my blanket making crash course: Improvisational Quilting, or How There is No Messing Up.

My latest discovery is making CLOTHES! I jumped in with Dress No. 1 by Sonya Philip and hosted a sewalong on Instagram. I have found that jumping in to other people’s knitalongs and sewalongs, and hosting my own has been an exceptional way for me to stay accountable to projects that I would otherwise not finish, or more importantly never start.

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

Bamboo circular needles from Clover are my jam, and I just started using (and carrying) birch needles from Brittany Needles. I recently finished the first part of the Moto Vest using those and was really pleased with the smooth, buttery feel of knitting with them.

Since I still consider myself very much a novice knitter I’ve been thinking of trying some metal needles of some sort. I saw a friend knitting with some steel ones recently and was wildly impressed with her speed. To be honest, the first time I ever picked out needles wood ones just looked prettier, and I never looked back or thought much about it.

In terms of sewing tools I have ONE very sacred tool which is the THE IRON. That’s the next tool I’d really like to upgrade and invest in. The iron I have is just a good ole $13 one, but it’s incredible what a little steam and heat can do to a garment or quilt top, changes everything and is so satisfying.

Our Tools, Ourselves interview with Marlee Grace (Have Company)

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

I store my circular needles on a nail in the wall. Not glamorous by any means but incredibly inexpensive and efficient. Easy to find and grab. My straight needles I have in a mason jar and in a vase made by my friend Kate Lewis.

I store all of my notions in a variety of vintage containers — an old blue tool box, and this coral set of lil drawers is my absolute favorite that I got at a vintage flea market in town. I find that having designated places for things is a huge help in putting them away when I am finished using them. I also use a vintage bar cart and old wooden crates to store my fabric.

I also carry around everyday tools in a small Bookhou pouch I got from Fringe Supply ;) The waxed canvas is perfect for my tapestry needles, measuring tape, pens, tiny scissors, stitch markers. The things I use every single day do not leave my tote bag.

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

Baskets, bowls and sacks. I carry whatever I’m working on in a little hand-sewn project bag I made out of hand-dyed napkins, and when I am working on something at home I put it in a basket next to the couch. I have other baskets and picnic baskets in my studio that hold yarn yet to be used.

I use the top bin of a lil Ikea cart I have to hold bigger WIPs that have been set aside. I usually don’t do that, but lately I have been starting projects and not finishing them, partly because I don’t know how to do the next thing (short rows help me plz someone help). So now they have a pretty place to go that I can see them. I am afraid if I tucked them away they might be lost forever.

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

Lately my biggest splurge or investment is on nice yarn. I visited Oakland this month and went to A Verb For Keeping Warm and picked up 5 skeins of Pioneer yarn from Sally Fox’s farm. I have to say it almost feels a bit intimidating to have such a beautiful straight-from-the-flock yarn like that.

I also really value my “non-making” tools, like my flower essences, tinctures and stones I carry around for protection. Not to get too woo woo for y’all but I find that taking pause throughout the day to recalibrate is an integral part of my practice.

Our Tools, Ourselves interview with Marlee Grace (Have Company)

Do you lend your tools?

I feel like I lend my iron and ironing board out the most. It’s incredible how few of my friends own these things. I also LOVE gifting Frixion erasable pens to people. I always carry a few around just because they change people’s lives. You can draw all over fabric and then all you have to do is iron over it and it disappears!

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

My couch. Alone. Watching TV. That is my happy place to knit. If I’m sewing I like to be in my studio (which I feel so lucky to have a whole room to myself in my home!!) and listen to podcasts and sew, or sometimes knit. Part of why I like the couch in the living room is that John (my partner) works from home, so if he is cooking or walking around the house it feels like I am sort of alone but not really. I like to call that “alone time with others.”

What effect do the seasons have on you?

Oh, you mean like seasonal dark sadness? No but really, the seasons are a huge reason why I stay in Michigan. I love them. The winters here are no joke — cold and dark and so much snow. And the summers and fall are some sort of paradise that you wouldn’t believe. I’ve really enjoyed building stamina over the last 27 years to get through the winters and emerge into summer. I can see it reflected in my creative practice. I definitely knit and sew and do all of the things in all of the months. I think there is a different … care or something that happens. In the winter I am reflective, tending to hone in on reading and research, and then in spring and fall I tend to really crank out a lot of work, and in the summer I share it. Or jump in Lake Michigan.

Our Tools, Ourselves interview with Marlee Grace (Have Company)

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

My guilty pleasure is continuously adding to my vintage craft book collection. I have so many quilting, sewing, embroidery, etc books in the basement of Have Company. We had a show last fall called Quilt Mountain and we set up the Quilt Library. It was incredible how many old crochet magazines and funny knitting books we found. I love to cut them up and make flyers for events at the shop or just look at the old photos.

Another quirk is that I do this weird tick with my hands when I finish a row. I click my rings together and sort of flick my wrist. I’ve never told anyone that, so you’re welcome blog world.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I am knitting Farmhouse by cabinfour with Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed. I also just ordered a kit from Wool and The Gang to knit the Lola Cardigan, I have had such intense sweater fear and feel like this will be a good place to start.

Our Tools, Ourselves interview with Marlee Grace (Have Company)

PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Whitney Ott


Photos © John Hanson

Best of the Best of Fall 2015: Rosetta Getty’s hothouse flowers

Best of the Best of Fall 2015: Rosetta Getty's hothouse flowers

Somehow I trailed off in talking about the most inspiring knits from the Fall 2015 shows without ever posting the Best of the Best! You have to be in full Fall fantasy mode to appreciate it right now, but Rosetta Getty was killin’ me with this collection. The cactus hothouse setting might have had some influence on me, I admit, but the sweaters are just incredible — from the shrunken to the enormous to the layers of enormous. There’s a definite rich hippie vibe to the whole thing — there aren’t many designers who could make me want to wear a  knee-grazing granny-square coat — and the recurring long cardigan with scarf-tie front is a thing I should hate. But over that incredible shirtdress? Gimme.

Best of the Best of Fall 2015: Rosetta Getty's hothouse flowers

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!