Introducing the Town Bag (and more!)

Introducing the Town Bag project bag by Fringe Supply Co.

Today is the day you’ve been impatiently awaiting! The much requested “bigger Field Bag” is finally here, and its name is the Town Bag. But it’s much more than just a scaled up Field Bag. The Town Bag combines the capacity of the Porter Bin with the companionability of the Field Bag, made even better by the addition of external pockets (front and back) in coordinating waxed canvas, which wraps underneath for protection and gives a subtle tone-on-tone effect. (Most apparent in the cocoa/pecan colorway; least apparent in the black/black.) And it can handle a sweater quantity, pattern and tools, as well as accommodating your wallet, comb and keys for those times when your knitting bag needs to double as your handbag. I’ve been using it since summer, traveling with it and putting it through its daily paces, and I know you’re going to love it as much as I do! You can get it now in both cocoa and black at Fringe Supply Co.; black is also available through our stockists; and natural is coming later this month.

We also have the last batch of coveted waxed plum Field Bags (until next year) in the webshop this morning, so if you’ve been waiting for that one, don’t hesitate!

And today I’ve also got a whole new lookbook for you! For this year’s Winter Lookbook and for the launch of the Town, we actually went to the country and created the ideal yarn-filled winter staycation at the beautiful Bloomsbury Farm — shooting in both farmer Lauren’s house (that bathtub!) and the Airbnb above the stables. I hope you’ll enjoy a stroll through the photos — they’re some of my favorites yet.

And there’s another holiday surprise hiding in the pages of the lookbook, too, so go check it out! 

Fringe Supply Co. Winter 2018 Lookbook

Happy weekend, everyone! I’ve got some serious sleeping to do this weekend, along with a bit of seaming

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Q for You: What sells you on a pattern?

Q for You: What sells you on a pattern?

It’s one of those elusive things: You see a pattern and feel incontrovertibly drawn to it, and very often you can’t even really identify why. Does it look fun to knit? Look good on a friend? Is the sample in a color you find irresistible, maybe even to the point that the item itself is almost irrelevant? Is it a matter of shaping, or texture, or aesthetic? Is it the photos? (Were they shot in some dreamscape that tugs at your soul?) Does it remind you of a favorite garment you once had? Is it exactly the shape you’ve been looking for? Written for a yarn you’ve been wanting to use? Sister tells you to? Published by your favorite designer or pattern company? Was at the top of Hot Right Now?

There are a thousand reasons why we might be attracted to a pattern, and we all lament the common experience of choosing poorly — casting on for the wrong reason and winding up with an unworn handknit that gives us the guilty feels. And hopefully we get better over time, knitting things that will not only be worn but loved. But that’s my Q for You today: How do you choose? What is it about a pattern that makes you download it and cast on, and are you able to identify the good triggers versus the not-so-good ones?

I was thinking about this over the weekend when it occurred to me that many of my best decisions were the result of getting to try one on, from Trillium to Channel to Cline. After many months of obsessing about a Carbeth Cardigan, I got to try on Shannon Cook’s Carbeth on Friday night — we were housemates in Seattle. It was that thing where you put something on and instantly go I’m never taking it off. It just fits, in all the ways. I woke up Saturday morning wishing that’s what I was wearing that day. And the next and the next and the one after that, which is how I finally knew for sure that it’s the right thing for me to cast on. Just as soon as I stop arguing with myself about yarn …

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: How many clothes do you make/buy each year?

Top photo by Kate Davies; bottom photo by Shannon Cook, used with permission

Sólbein palette ideas and a GIVEAWAY

Sólbein palette ideas and a GIVEAWAY

I had the good fortune of being at Tolt this weekend, where I got to spend some time at the Istex Léttlopi wall along with Andrea Rangel, picking out possible color pairings for Sólbein and the Steekalong. (That sounds like a band name!) As I mentioned in the announcement, Mary Jane designed this cardigan to be knitted in tonal shades of a single color (light, medium and dark), and lopi comes in lots of great colors, but pairing them up is not so easy a thing to do if you’re ordering online. So I hope you’ll find these suggestions helpful. (Thanks so much for my friends at Tolt for letting me do this in the middle of their anniversary madhouse!) These are, of course, on top of the two colorways already pictured in the pattern, both of which are gorgeous.

Some of the combos above are perfectly tonal (such as the pumpkin pie and chocolate combos, 2 and 3); others rely on a pale grey for the lightest shade where no pale version of the color in question exists, and you could also use the (off) white the same way, as we did for the purple combo, 7. Combos 9 and 11 represent the idea of a light/dark neutral motif on a colored field, which would be a different look but possibly quite pleasing.

PLEASE NOTE that I have not actually swatched these so I can’t vouch for how they would hold up — I definitely recommend buying a ball of each and swatching to see — but I think these are all fairly safe bets.

I’m using the Istex color designations here, which are numbers. Sometimes you also see them with name names, but the official color numbers seem like the safest way to label them here since that’s what’s on the ball band:

1. 1700 + 9419 + 0005

2. 1419 + 1704 + 9427

3. 0085 + 0053* + 0052

4. 0086 + 0085 + 0058

5. 0054 + 1700 + 1701

6. 0054 + 1417 + 1416

7. 0051 + 1702 + 1414

8. 0054 + 1406 + 1407

9. 0086 + 0085 + 9418

10. 0054 + 1419 + 9431

11. 0054 + 0057 + 1703

Andrea reminded me I’ve been talking about wanting and black and navy sweater forever, so I think I’m probably doing that top combo myself! (Especially since I have a sweater’s worth of the heathered black leftover from my little quick black raglan.)

*I didn’t get that one into my list, but I’m 95% sure that’s the right color number.

. . .

GIVEAWAY

I also just got an email from Berroco, the yarn company that distributes Istex Lopi yarns in the US and Canada, and they offered up a prize of a sweater quantity of Léttlopi to one of you, dear readers. (Open to knitters with a shipping address in the US or Canada.) To enter, leave a comment below saying which three colors you’re thinking of using for your Sólbein, and I’ll pick a winner at random from all comments received by 5pm CST tomorrow, Nov 8. I’ll update this post with the winner’s name at that time, so check back Thursday evening to see if you won!

UPDATE: Chosen at random, the winner is Jo who posted “Although your color combos are amazing, my choice would be 0052 for the body with 0056 and 1701 as the accents. Thanks for the opportunity!” Congratulations, Jo! Please email me <contact@fringesupplyco.com> for instructions on how to collect your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered, and I’m so excited to see all y’all’s sweaters come January!

. . .

MORE TO COME

There have been questions since Monday about yarn substitutions and alternative steeking methods (as opposed to the sewing machine approach) and we will cover all of that along the way, I promise! But the short answer to the latter is no, you do not have to use the sewing machine approach.

Lots more as we go—

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Knitalongs: Get ready to steekalong!

New Favorites: All square

New Favorites: All square (knitting patterns)

I’m endlessly amazed at how musicians can be given the same limited set of musical notes and yet come up with an infinite number of new tunes and melodies. I feel a bit the same about these two shawls — oversized rectangular wraps — both of which are based on the simple concept of squares knitted in alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette:

TOP: Ippen Shawl by Claudia Eisenkolb puts two twists on the classic big-basketweave effect: the squares give way to wedges at the center, turning the rectangle into a U shape; and there’s a stripe of color running the length of it that shifts depending on whether you’re in a stockinette or reverse-stockinette block, from a solid line to a ticking stripe

BOTTOM: Sjal by Antonia Shankland is a subtle collection of nested squares that change scale along the way

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Brandi’s neck sculptures

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2019: Get ready to steekalong!

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2019: Get ready to steekalong!

Last year when I was teasing you all about the next Fringe and Friends Knitalong (“fafkal” as they’ve come to be known), I no doubt planted the seed in some of your minds that it would be about steeking. Which was true at the time! But it got pushed back a year, for various reasons (making way for the Logalong), so I’m just that much more excited to let you in on the secret today, which is that yes, next up will be the Fringe and Friends Steekalong! My partner in crime this time will be my pal Mary Jane Mucklestone, a colorwork legend in our own time, and the featured pattern will be her exquisite Sólbein Cardigan, which I’ve been dying to knit since first laying eyes on it on the dock at Squam last year. It’s among the most beautiful uses of colorwork I’ve ever seen, with that fluttery featheriness that comes from the tonal stranding, plus I’m so excited to knit my first steeked garment along with all of you and Mary Jane.

Sólbein originally appeared in the Lines issue of Making and is now available for individual download, if you don’t have the magazine.

WHAT IS STEEKING?

For anyone new to the term, steeking is cutting your knitting. Most people prefer to do colorwork only in the round, but that would rule out anything that’s not a tube. So for instance, to get a cardigan you knit a seamless pullover with a couple of extra stitches up the front where the opening should be. And when the pullover is done, you cut straight up through those stitches to create the opening, then add your button band or other edging. I KNOW! I’ve only ever done it on a swatch, but it’s going to be thrilling.

NOTES ON THE SWEATER AND YARN

Sólbein is one of Mary Jane’s brilliant instances of knitting Léttlopi at a looser than traditional gauge — lopi being a yarn with an unparalleled character and halo that magically fluffs to fill — which means it knits up quickly and creates a fabric that is light as air and also not quite as warm as a typical Icelandic lopapeysa. You can read more about lopi yarn here, but it comes in an incredible array of colors (find it online at Tolt, Fancy Tiger and others, if your local doesn’t stock it) and is quite affordable.

What makes the Sólbein colorwork so effective is the use of tonal colors, so to preserve that you want to choose light, medium and dark shades all in the same family. If you decide to go with three totally different colors, you’ll get a completely different effect, which could be differently stunning. Have some fun with the swatching for this!

[UPDATE: I put together 11 possible color combos for you to consider!]

If you are thinking of substituting yarn, take that into account about the gauge — most aran-weight yarns will not knit up so nicely (especially with colorwork) on larger needles, so you would want to substitute a bulky yarn, and make sure you’re using one suitable for steeking. It needs to be yarn with grip, definitely not anything slippery smooth or superwash.

Technically, you may knit any steeked garment you like for the kal, and we’ll also talk about how to add a steek to a pullover to make it a cardigan. But I hope you’ll knit the gorgeous Sólbein with us! Just look at the excitement on Mary Jane’s face!

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2019: Get ready to steekalong!

OK, she always look like that. ;)

THE SCHEDULE

Like the last one, I’ve decided to save this to enjoy during selfish-knitting season, after the holidays, which means you have from now until the end of the year to dream, swatch, and think about any modifications you might make. And we’ll cast on January 1st.

That’s also when I’ll announce the rest of the panel, but obviously MJM is on it!

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

To knit along simply use the hashtag on Instagram or wherever you post: #fringeandfriendssteekalong. By all means, please share your swatching and planning between now and then, but try to refrain from casting on until the official start date. And meanwhile, make sure you’re following @mjmucklestone on Instagram!

Are you excited?

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PREVIOUSLY in Knitalongs: Fringe Marlisle Knitalong

Top photos by Carrie Bostick Hoge, used with permission

New pattern, new muse, and Elsewhere

New pattern, new muse, and Elsewhere

So I’m off to Tolt today for their 5th-anniversary weekend — the celebration at the shop tomorrow and then teaching my new Cascara Mitts pattern on Sunday (photo above, top). Remember the pattern will be downloadable on Ravelry tomorrow morning! Along with the rest of the whole gorgeous mini-collection.

Meanwhile, DG and Allison will be manning the Fringe Supply Co. booth at Fiber in the ‘Boro tomorrow, our beloved local fiber festival in Murfreesboro. If you’re in the vicinity, I highly recommend this sweet fest.

And next week at some point I get to tell you about the next Fringe and Friends Knitalong! Which will start on Jan 1 again, like the last. I’m soooooper excited about it, so look for that news midweek, hopefully.

But for now, a tiny spot of Elsewhere:

– This profile sent me to by reader Hanna is of my new hero, knitter, veterinarian and slow fashion muse Kat Bazeley, written by Mina Holland (photo above, bottom, by Elena Heatherwick for Toast) — the perfect read for the end of Slow Fashion October

– Speaking of which, I’ve saved a whole recap of the closet challenge steps, highlights and main discussions from this year’s Slow Fashion October — tap the “recap!” highlight at the top of the @slowfashionoctober profile page

Magnificent interview about Faroe Islands history and the origins of Navia yarns

– I always love the people at shows and festivals who come with an annotated map of which booths they want to hit up and what they’re looking for. Kay’s Rhinebeck bullet journal spread goes one step further, and applies well beyond Rhinebeck

Behold, a massive knitted map of the cosmos (thx, Barb et al.)

– and some major crochet temptation

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone — see you next week!

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PREVIOUSLY: Weekend Reads

Photos courtesy of Tolt Yarn and Wool and Toast, used with permission

Marlisle, you’re fun (2018 FO-23)

Marlisle, you're fun (2018 FO-23)

Oh look, I finished up my Hozkwoz Hat (from Anna Maltz’s amazing book Marlisle) quicker than I thought I would! So cross that one off the list. Although I have to say, overall it took me a whole lot longer than I imagined. This was sort of slow going for me (cast on during the Fringe Marlisle Knitalong). The marlisle sections are far enough apart that I never needed to figure out how to hold yarns for this, so I just dropped one strand when I got to the solid sections, then picked it back up again. I tried to be super cautious about the length of my float, but there are spots where it’s a hair short and slightly pinching the ivory tower of stitches, but I do not care in the least — its lovely and warm and clever as could be.

This hat is knitted top-down, which means the crown can serve as your gauge swatch. My measurements were confusing, though — the X measurement is bigger than stated in the pattern, while measuring my garter suggested I was more or less on track. No matter, though, since it’s top-down: I figured I could just forge ahead and if it was proving to be on the large side, I could always decrease some stitches before working the ribbing. But there was no need to. All is well!

This is Sincere Sheep’s Covet (CA Rambouillet/alpaca/silk) in natural, and my mini skeins of Kelbourne Woolens’ Scout (100% wool) weren’t quite enough to do the job, so I subbed in some blackish tweed from my leftovers bin for the last inch or two. Were this solid-colored stockinette, you’d no doubt be able to tell I switched yarns, but in this context it’s perfectly invisible. And I knitted the whole thing on a US9 needle, including the ribbing.

I’ve seen a lot of amazing variations with this hat, but the gorgeous tonal one at the top in this photo has me thinking along those lines for another …

Hozwkoz Hat in Sincere Sheep Covet and Kelbourne Woolens Scout
Drawstring bag, blocking board and Lykke needles at Fringe Supply Co.

(The sweater is L.L. Bean.)

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The dickey I didn’t know I needed