Winter Wardrobe problem solving

Winter Wardrobe problem solving

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking out loud here the past few weeks — have you noticed? — and think I’m very close to having a fully formed thought (lol) about how to solve the fundamental problem of my winter clothes being too warm, on the whole. Last week it felt like less of a problem: It was in the 30s and gloomy and rained like it might never stop. But this week we’re back in the 50s and 60s, the trouble zone for me. I’ve come to realize, though — in the midst of my closet cleanout — that it’s a classic case of missing connective tissue that’s fairly easily resolved. In addition to the sort of layering that the dickey has inspired, I’ve been thinking about what it means to have sweaters that are less hot, even if they are wool, which means finer gauge things, shapes that don’t hold in heat (such as the breezy Big Rubble I got from Meg), more abbreviated proportions (shorter, smaller, cropped, whatever), and — ta da — sleeveless! And we know I have plenty of sleeveless sweaters.

I wear those sleeveless things mostly when I can get away with being sleeveless, and what I’ve been missing to make them work in cooler weather is basically just long-sleeve tees, which I haven’t wanted to make — or had the time to. The other day it dawned on me there are these things called stores where you can buy clothes that are already made and ready to wear (seriously, it’s like I forgot!), so I went to Everlane and ordered a couple of skinny long-sleeve tees that will instantly change the equation considerably. But I’ve drawn up the sketches above to illustrate a few of the thoughts I’ve been having:

TOP LEFT: I made that wool knit muscle tee last year to wear under things and found it a tiny bit itchy for that purpose. I’ve since realized it’s fine with my linen sleeveless tee under it (which has become otherwise problematically thin), so it will work with cardigans and such as intended. But I also discovered it’s great over things — like the black jersey turtleneck in my closet that I never wear. It should be perfect with the long-sleeve tees en route, and an excellent opportunity to add a dickey!

TOP MIDDLE: Same goes for my two Anna Vests (black and plum), which somehow don’t feel quite like me over a button-down (although I love that on everyone else) but will be great over a long-sleeve tee. And then it’s easy to add a cardigan or shirt-jacket on top of that, weather permitting.

TOP RIGHT: Same goes for my Sloper — all it needs for extended life is the right tee! Although I do love Sloper over a button-down, and will wear it that way this year as well.

BOTTOM LEFT: This is the neck blankie situation I was postulating last week, along with a shrunken raglan sweatshirt or sweater. I have my grey sweatshirt and ordered two things from Everlane that also meet this definition, if I like them when they arrive. Otherwise (or maybe anyway) there’s another Linden sweatshirt in my future. I’m still debating the cowl but between this and yesterday’s mood board, I was inspired to pull out my eggplant State Street Cowl and take it for a spin.

BOTTOM MIDDLE: For a warmer version of the dickey situation, I was thinking about making something like a Top No. 2 in wool melton or somesuch, and realized I already have the wool knit sweatshirt thingy I made last year. I’d had that in my “maybe” pile from the cleanout and have just put it back in my closet! But still considering the other idea as well. I really like the idea of a couple of easy non-sweater pullover tops for layering with.

BOTTOM RIGHT: This is actually an outfit I wore in the cold snap last week that I want to remember: jeans, black muscle tee, dickey and cardigan. The dickey is so fantastic (obviously) under a cardigan or kimono jacket or shirt-jacket — a way to feel like I’m wearing much woolier, cozier clothes than I can actually get away with. More of that, for sure.

So those are some not-terribly-original thoughts that nevertheless lead me to a make list and some further outfit ideas, coming next week!

(Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Winter 2018 Wardrobe: Early Winter ’18 mood board

Early Winter ’18 mood board

Early Winter ’18 mood board

It might be the result of having the Fringe Supply Co. Winter Lookbook palette spread out in my studio since July (all that plum and toffee and butterscotch and black), but my Winter ’18 Mood board is speaking to me the most clearly of any of them so far. It’s the mood and colors of a bright but cold early winter day — all the burnt caramel-camel-brown tones against blues and dusty lilac purples and the softest fading green. With plenty of black, white, navy and grey, of course. But it’s also more specifically a set of reminders to myself: that I need to think about some blouses with sleeves, about tees and turtlenecks to layer under things, about knitted neckwear layered on top of things that might not be sweaters, but pullovers or tops of other sorts. (Hence my including myself on my own mood board. In my dickey.) That a little touch of femininity with all the androgyny is important to me. And as usual, it’s about very easy shapes and a classic casualness that steers clear of being dull.

I think I’ve OD’d on my silhouette lately but my pants are my pants and we’re back into jeans-and-boots season, so I’m thinking hard about new ways to put things together, and which old friends to pull forward and let star this season. More on all of that to come, along with the very focused little make list it has inspired.

Oh, and that sweater in the top right is a thought I’m having about my steekalong Sólbein. Maybe.

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Faux Fall outfits

Indigo mitts (2018 FO-25)

Indigo mitts (2018 FO-25)

There are 410 finished pairs of Log Cabin Mitts logged in Ravelry at this moment, and only 7 of them are mine! There were the originals, the heather grey, the ebony and ivory, the toffee, the black-and-bluish, the mountain mist and now these, at long last. These are knitted in Pioneer from Verb (natural and indigo), one of my all-time favorite yarns, and have been awaiting their thumbs since March or April only because of the indigo dye. As much as I love it, indigo does get on your fingers when you work with it. It washes right off, of course, and sets when you block it. But it means it’s not a project you can toss in your tote to finish on a flight or whatever. Anyway, they were totally worth the wait, in their lovely indigo asymmetry.

The way we all feel about sweater season is how I also feel about fingerless mitts season. My hands are just happier when clad in wool, and these are really my favorite of allllll the mitts. I’ve been wearing the toffee pair nonstop since it cooled off, and there’s just something magical about the way the garter ridges of the log cabin patterning makes them mold just so to your hands.

Of the 7 pair I’ve finished, I’ve given away 2 and have an eighth in progress, with no doubt more to follow. I mentioned before that this collection of mitts feels like some kind of deeply personal art project I can’t explain. But I’m so happy to be back to it!

If you haven’t tried it yet, the free pattern is right here.

Indigo mitts (2018 FO-25)

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Blue Bellows cardigan

Elsewhere: More comfort, more gauge range, and a spot of macramé

Elsewhere: More comfort, more gauge range, and a spot of macramé

Friday! I’m so excited to have a real weekend, you guys, I can’t even tell you. (Cue the guitar: “Ooh, got the yarn / I’m gonna do some knitting”)

First things first: There is a hotly anticipated batch of the new Town Bag hitting the webshop this morning at 9am CT, and we also have the new MDK Field Guide: Revolution, featuring four interchangeable cable designs by none other than Norah Gaughan. AND! we now have the Lykke DPNs in standalone packs! So if you just need a set of 1s or 6s or whatever your heart desires, you can finally have that! If the bags are gone before you get there, please note that we will have more! We’re working as fast as we can to get stores restocked and keeping a small stack for ourselves each week, and I’ll keep restock dates and times listed on the page until we reach a point where we’ve gotten out in front of demand. Thank you so much for all the love for this latest brainchild.

And with that, Elsewhere:

Speaking of a bold stripe … (ref)

– The last bit of this really gets me: “I always have some small portable project that I can take with me to use as my ‘waiting’ time. This avoids me heading to my phone for my dose of dopamine (which does me no good) and instead offers me a way of including more comfort in my day.” (photo top)

These anonymous antique Chinese textile collages are so beautiful and are giving me an overwhelming urge to get back to my Log Cabin Mitts exploration … (via Jen)

This Jillian Moreno piece for MDK on why some yarns can stand to be knitted at a range of gauges is one of the best things I’ve ever read about knitting. (Did I tell you guys how many different gauges I successfully knitted Germantown in when swatching it for the Anna Vest? So fascinating when you meet a yarn like that)

– Were I in London, I’d be going straight to the Anni Albers show at the Tate

– Annual charity hat-drive time: Tiny Hats for Tiny Babies and Christmas at Sea. (Any excuse to make that 1898 Hat, so much fun.) What are others you’re a fan of? Share a link below

– My longstanding desire to make pojagi curtains for my bedroom just went into overdrive (See also)

Amazing (photo bottom left)

– And ummm, I might need to add “make macramé feathers” to my weekend list (via) (photo bottom right)

Actually, I’m not allowed to knit (or macramé, for that matter) until I make a further dent in my sewing room/closet cleanup, which is solidly in the “worse before it gets better” phase. But then: Ooh yeah, knitting. I hope you have a peaceful weekend!

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PREVIOUSLY: New pattern, new muse, and Elsewhere

Nice trick: The statement stripe

Nice trick: The statement stripe

Here’s the thing about knitting (or sewing) your own clothes: You have the opportunity throw in any sort of details and accents you like, when you like, whether it’s a subtle finishing detail like a folded neckband or a pronounced design feature like elbow patches. In the past 24 hours, I’ve run across two different sweaters (top and bottom left) that reminded me of a third (bottom right), all of which employ an incredibly simple but wildly effective trick: a bold stripe of randomness that makes an otherwise simple sweater memorable. At the top is the new kit from Wool and the Gang, the Little Honey Pot Jumper, which poses a wide stripe of rust stockinette against a field of persimmon seed stitch. The origins of the bottom left image are unknown to me (it’s floating around the Internet without context; I happened to see it most recently here), and bottom right is the Chloé Resort 2013 sweater I fawned over back in 2012., both of which use a wide red stripe to make an impact. I particularly love that they all employ a change in texture as well as color, and how bold the size of the stripe is. This goes hand in hand with what I love so much about basic patterns — they’re excellent canvases for pulling fun tricks like this out of the bag and making any garment your own.

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Blue Bellows at long last

Blue Bellows at long last

Meanwhile, I’ve finished my warmest sweater to-date, lol, my second edition of Michele Wang’s Bellows cardigan. I was SO RIGHT back in February when I shelved this: My November self could not have been happier to get to finish a sweater exactly as the corresponding weather for it arrived. I mean, how often does that happen? When I put it away, I had seamed the shoulders, knitted the button band, and left myself some notes for record-keeping purposes. So all I had to do on Sunday evening, with the first overnight freeze upon us, was seam the sides and sleeves and sew down the pockets. And well, in theory, sew on the buttons, but I haven’t identified the right ones yet. This will definitely qualify as a coat here in Nashville for most of the season, and I still expect to wear it mostly on my couch on cold, drafty nights since the color is so weirdly difficult to pair with anything.* But I wore it to work on Monday with my natural wide-legs and black tee — the only outfit I’ve come up with so far — and it was cozy both indoors and out.

(Please pardon the grainy-splotchy photos, they were taken in the gloomiest light imaginable and brightened to within an inch of their lives. The yarn does not really look like that top photo — it’s the best I can do!)

My original charcoal Bellows (now my mom’s) was knitted at slightly finer than pattern gauge and scaled for a little more fitted fit. This one is slightly chunkier than pattern gauge, and while I made it the same length as before, it is both bigger and thicker. There’s just more of it, so I’m extra glad I kept it to this length, 16″ from cast-on to underarm bind-off. (Slightly shorter than the pattern; the model must be 7′ tall.) For this one, I mostly followed the third size but I think they’re basically size 2 sleeves with a size 3 sleeve cap to fit the armhole. I made the same mods as before: no cables in the ribbing, only three repeats of the cable chart. But I made two other significant changes for this one:

Blue Bellows at long last

1) I added pockets. There’s not really an ideal way to do it with this stitch pattern, so it’s slightly awkward but worth the trade-off. I have pockets! All I did when knitting the fronts was to knit the first chart repeat once, then 4 rows of ribbing between the two slip-stitch borders for the pocket edging. The pocket lining is 16 rows of reverse stockinette then the first 4 rows of the second chart repeat, so the ribbing on the pocket overlays the bottom 4 rows of the second cable, which makes it look a bit truncated. But pockets tend to hang open a little bit, giving you a glimpse of the cable inside the pocket, which I think optically balances it out a little bit. I’m not sure anyone would ever be aware of it if I didn’t point it out — they look more natural than I thought they would.

2) I wanted the button band to be a bit narrower on this one, but conversely wanted the shawl collar to be a little more voluminous than the original. With the difference in gauge I was really winging it on that adjustment. I removed 4 four full rows of ribbing, making the band a total of 8 rows rather than 12, and worked some extra short rows for the shawl shaping — 13 on the first short-row sequence, 11 on the second, according to my notes. (I no longer know how that compares to what’s in the pattern.) With the narrower band, I worked 3-st buttonholes, for slightly smaller buttons, so now I need to find the right buttons.

Ultimately, this thing is a beautiful beast, being extremely warm and also taking up an entire cubby in my little closet, so we’ll see whether it winds up getting worn enough to earn its keep. But for now, with the temperature having not escaped the 30s yesterday, I really am happy to have it! I love this classically woolly yarn and think it made for a powerhouse sweater, but there’s no question my original yarn choice (Balance held double) made for a more regionally appropriate version.

Bellows pattern by Michele Wang in limited-edition yarn from Harrisville Designsall Bellows posts
Town Bag from Fringe Supply Co. (I don’t have to hide it anymore!)

*For everyone who keeps telling me it’s not a hard color to wear, please try to understand that you really can’t know — unless you’ve seen this yarn in real life — and take my word for it? I can’t even get a photo to reflect the actual purpley-dusty-tourquoiseness of it, much less demonstrate how it really does not go with denim like you’d assume it would.

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PREVIOUSLY in 2018 FOs: Hozkwoz Hat

New Favorites: the Two-Point Cowl

New Favorites: the Two-Point Cowl

I have two chief concerns right now, winter wardrobe-wise, being opposite sides of the same coin: First, how to knit myself a couple of sweaters that aren’t too warm for my climate and work well with my collection of pants. (What shape? What yarn? The internal debate is interminable.) Second, what to do with the assorted beautiful wool in my stash such that it is wearable in my climate. Of the two, the one I’m trying most to focus on is the latter, since it makes use of stash — and specifically of yarn I have because I’m dying to knit with it! So I keep going back to my dickey and what I said about Brandi’s neck pieces — the notion of sewing myself a couple of simple things that would fill in for lighter-weight sweaters (e.g., a sweatshirt instead of a pullover; a kimono jacket instead of a cardigan), and layering them with wool neck accessories that are easier and more flexible to wear than were I to commit the same yarn to a full sweater. Which brings me to Churchmouse’s Two-Point Cowl, pictured above in two different gauges. The simple but effective pattern — which wears more like a wrap than a cowl, and also looks great more bunched up — is easy to adapt to any gauge, making it a good candidate for the variety of yarns I have in waiting. And it’s a great pattern for just letting a good yarn shine.

(p.s. Sorry for my unintended absence yesterday. I was sick all weekend and didn’t get a post written. All better now!)

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: All square