Happy 5th birthday, Field Bag [a sale!]

THIS NEVER HAPPENS: All Field Bags on sale 20% off*

Happy 5th birthday, Field Bag!

Five years ago today, I published these beautiful photos — the first public view of this little project bag I had designed, now known as the Fringe Field Bag — shot by my friend Kathy Cadigan. At the time it was just called the Fringe Supply Project Bag and only came in natural, and it was the star of the first lookbook I ever put together. (Then, as now, I’m the “model.”) I’d been working on it all year, with my friend Alyssa Minadeo’s invaluable help — obsessing over every dimension and detail, and trying to find a way to produce it. For the sake of that holiday season, and to find out if anyone even liked it, I hired Alyssa to make a small initial batch, put these photos out into the world, and held my breath.

I never could have imagined what would happen next.

I was still a new knitter at the time, and I designed it because I desperately wanted it and couldn’t find anything like it — a simple, utility-grade bag that stood upright and open-mouthed, had pockets specific to a knitter’s needs, was made from natural materials, responsibly and in the US, and had a wrist strap for toting it around when not stuffed into a larger bag. I hoped enough other people would want one that we’d be able to sell that first batch, and if that happened I’d keep trying to find a domestic factory that could sew it. I also had no idea how hard that would be, but during the course of that year, Bob and I had moved to Nashville (out from under Bay Area cost of living) to see if I could turn my little fledgling website into a small business. And the response to this bag — combined with the luck of eventually finding a factory right here in Nashville — is what gave Fringe Supply Co. a fighting chance.

Happy 5th birthday, Field Bag!

The landscape has changed so much in these five years. These days, you have a lot of choices when it comes to project bags, and the fact that so many of you have chosen the Field Bag (in all its ensuing variations over the years) is deeply humbling and definitely one of the most unexpected experiences of my life. Your support of it has contributed to jobs for my tiny crew and the sewers at the small, woman-owned, local factory where it’s now made; revenue for the stores that carry it; charitable donations; business for the professional contractors we work with (my bookkeeper, photographers …); and far from either last or least, my collaboration with Jen Hewett on the various printed versions we’ve done together, past and present.

We don’t normally offer discounts (we don’t pad our prices), but in order to say THANK YOU and honor this milestone, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Today and tomorrow only, all Field Bags (canvas, waxed and printed) are 20% off!*

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And happy birthday, little bag.

*No code required. In-stock items only; not retroactive. Offer expires at Midnight CT on Nov 22, 2019, and is good at Fringe Supply Co. and participating stockists (check with the one nearest you to see if they’re participating).

Idea Log: Cropped wool shirtjacket

Idea Log: Cropped wool shirtjacket

I’ve had one of those moments where two thoughts collide in my head into one bright idea. Thought One was how much I love my army shirtjacket that I refashioned a couple of years ago (seen on me here) and hate that I don’t have a cold-weather counterpart for it. Thought Two was how much I love my pal Jen Beeman’s chainstitched rendition of her new Thayer Jacket pattern. As much as I want a chainstitched one now, it got me thinking about how useful a little cropped, unlined Thayer would be for indoor-outdoor wear in cooler weather — a good cardigan stand-in. I happen to have some nubby black wool remnant fabric in my stash that could be great for this, although I’m not sure it adds up to enough fabric to pull it off. But I feel like I need to clean off my table and spread it all out to see if I can make it work.

While I ponder what my chainstitched version might be …

(As I uploaded this image, I realized the buttons in my drawing look like nipples! Forgive me for that.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: Summer sweater-jacket

Meet the Rambler! And more holiday cheer …

Fringe Supply Co. Rambler satchel and Porter Bin

Today is that rare and thrilling day when I finally get to show you something we’ve been working on for months on end: Meet the new Rambler cross-body satchel! This is my answer to your requests for a cross-body bag, which actually works as a cross-body or a shoulder bag, as well as in the hand. I’ve been carrying it daily, traveling with and loving it for half the year — and I hope you’ll love it, too. Today is also Winter 2019 Lookbook day, and you can read lots more about the Rambler in the lookbook intro or on the product page in the shop.

We gave subscribers to the shop newsletter first dibs on the Rambler last month, as supplies will be limited, and I want to emphasize this with you all, too — supplies will be limited! There are only so many we can produce for the holiday season, so if you want one, act on it. And if you run into a Sold Out moment, please use the Notify Me button to be alerted whenever a new batch arrives. We’ll do our very best to make sure everyone who wants one can get one, but can make no guarantees!

The Rambler design was obviously inspired by the Porter Bin, my personal favorite of our bags, and having the canvas and webbing in the right weight and color for the Rambler has meant that the Porter is now finally available in toffee, too! Which I know you’ll be as happy about as I am.

And I hope you’ll also take a moment to look through this winter’s lookbook. Creating the lookbook is possibly my favorite of my many jobs with Fringe, and I’m really pleased with what we’ve put together for your perusal this holiday season. It was shot by my friend Hannah Messinger down at the pretty little Airbnb at Bloomsbury Farm, which has become my favorite place to shoot. It’s equal parts beautiful and rugged, which is just what I aim for with all things Fringe!

Happy start of holiday season, and happy weekend!

Fringe Supply Co. — gifts for knitters
Fringe Town Bag in Fig w/waxed plum

New Favorites: Amirisu 19 (all of it!)

New Favorites: Amirisu 19 (all of it!)

The Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Amirisu landed on my desk last week and I had a bit of a swoon. It is stunningly beautiful from front to back, and there’s not a single thing in there I wouldn’t want to have. (Including the house where it was shot!) I’m not sure the last time I said that about a magazine or book, but while I’m thumbs-up on the entire dozen patterns that comprise the issue, of course there are those that stand out as my very favorites of the bunch:

TOP: Streaks by Keiko Kikuno would make me want to learn how to knit if I didn’t already know how

LOWER LEFT: Fleur by Megumi Sawada is a pretty little lace-and-bobbles hat (which apparently is a thing that appeals to me! who knew)

LOWER RIGHT: Lierne Cowl by Bristol Ivy is a fascinating little loop of pleated coziness

BELOW, UPPER: Escala by Alice Caetano features a mesmerizing fade in texture from smocking to diamonds — I’m obsessed with this

BELOW, LOWER: Wetherell by Kiyomi Burgin is a super charming yoke sweater with additional colorwork accents at the cuffs

New Favorites: Amirisu 19 (all of it!)

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Holiday hat knitting cheat sheet

Elsewhere: Big-screen sweaters, Japanese denim and knitted pie

Elsewhere — links for knitters, sewers, slow fashion advocates

Happy Friday! I know it’s been awhile since my last links list, but this one’s got something for just about everyone—

How to knit a pie crust

— “‘The Lighthouse’ Is a Film About Men Arguing In Moldy, Beautiful Sweaters” (thx, Deepa!) (lower photo)

Tender Buttons, RIP

— A must watch: This gorgeous 6-minute documentary on denim in Japan (upper photo)

Vogue Knitting has announced Launch Pad: A Small Business Development Program with an emphasis on providing resources for entrepreneurs from marginalized groups to help increase diversity in our industry

The “Invisible Jumpers” photo project is now a book! (thx, Alyssa)

“There are no regulations” (via Clara)

Great interview with Quince’s Leila Raven about her career path and design process

What if all fashion schools took field trips to landfills?

— and this mini-Stonecrop cardigan is too darling

IN SHOP NEWS: We’ve got the new MDK Field Guide, No. 13: Master Class with patterns by Kaffe Fassett, as well as a limited-edition set of drawstring bags we’re calling Stash Bags sewn from collected miscuts, in a variety of sizes and colors. They’re sturdy canvas, endlessly useful and priced to sell! (At least one size is actually already sold out …)

Have a happy weekend, everyone—

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

Holiday hat knitting cheat sheet: 10 skill-stretching patterns

Holiday hat knitting cheat sheet: 10 skill-stretching patterns

Hats are the best. A great way to learn to knit (or crochet!), pick up new skills, add variety to your queue, get that “I made it!” feeling fast. And of course, they don’t require a lot of yarn and they’re the perfect handmade gifts: The receiver is wowed with something you made yourself — without your spending a month or more making it! For this round of the holiday hat knitting cheat sheet, as I did with our Fringe Hatalong Series a few years ago (6 free patterns), I’ve organized it by the skills involved, from what I think of as the simplest to most challenging. You may dispute the order, and of course there’s no requirement that you knit them all or in this sequence, but if you’re looking for some fun patterns for charity or holiday gift knitting, and the chance to maybe pick up some new skills in the process, check out these gems that have caught my eye this year—

1: Crochet!
The Dawn Hat
by Brandi Harper

2: A little bit of slip-stitch (plus folded brim)
Understory
by Alyssa Coffey

3: Slip-stitch faux cables
September Hat
by Caroline Dick (free pattern, and there’s more where that came from)

4: Mosaic x 3 (aka 2-color slip-stitch)
Incise
by Hunter Hammersen

5: A spot of cabling
Northern Peak
by Jill Zielinski

6: 2-color stranded knitting
Eye Catcher Hat
by Jennifer Berg

7: Brioche rib
Hester’s Hat
by Lori Versaci

8: Brioche basketry
Baskets of Brioche Hat
by Lavanya Patricella

9: Lace
Penny Hat
by Tin Can Knits

10: Lace + bobbles!
York
by Courtney Kelley (see also)

And for lots more gift knitting ideas and pattern roundups, give this page a scroll!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Serious sock temptations

Learning about block printing in Jaipur, India

Block printing workshop, Jaipur, India

I’ve been back from India for two weeks — and granted it’s been a week of brain fog and a week of work mayhem — but I still have yet to figure out how to describe the trip to anyone. It was such a rich and immersive experience, it felt like we were there much longer than we were, and I really struggle to summarize it. I loved it so much. Even just trying to write about the workshop aspect for the sake of the blog, I feel like I can either write a postcard or a book; anything in between is impossible. So I’ve decided to write you a postcard (is how it feels, anyway) and say the same thing I’ve been saying to my husband and friends who want to hear about it: Ask me a question! And I will elaborate accordingly.

Wood block printing at the studio of Brigitte Singh

The core of the trip was an Ace Camps workshop on block printing in Jaipur, Rajasthan, led by my collaborator and friend Jen Hewett, and it was a better experience than I had even hoped. We actually had three teachers. First, Jen taught a version of the handprinting process that can be done at home using readily available art supplies, since carving a wood block is obviously a very specialized/localized skill. (The at-home method can also be learned from her book Print, Pattern, Sew.) She demonstrated how to create repeats and other techniques, and we practiced printing either on yardage or whatever finished goods we’d brought. My best result was a set of scarves I printed with a super-simple motif inspired by the giant paving stones at the Taj Mahal, which I had the honor of visiting beforehand. During the first phase of the workshop, we also took a field trip to the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing to learn about the history of block printing in the region, and got to see master printers at work there and in a visit to Brigitte Singh’s beautiful compound (above), where we also got to see the carving process. All of which was groundwork to be followed by two brilliant days printing with wood blocks in Bagru studios, learning from local experts.

Mud resist workshop, Ojjas, Bagru
Mud resist indigo dyeing, Bagru, India

Our second teacher, first day in Bagru, was Raj (above) whose company, Ojjas, is part of a collective of manufacturers committed to sustainable practices such as using natural dyes and recycling the water involved. With Raj and her team, we learned about mud resist (dabu), using their wood blocks to print with their specially-made mud on fabric, which we then sprinkled with sawdust and laid out in the sun to dry. We did two pieces — a practice print and a finished scarf — which were variously dipped into vats of kashish or indigo, then another round of mud resist and a dip in the same or opposite dye, depending, for a variety of final results. (Naturally, Jen’s was amazing.) It was a day with a lot of downtime, waiting as each step dried in the sun, and my favorite part was listening to Raj talk about the relationship between climate and textile traditions in different parts of India, as well as the current state of the business of block printing.

Wood block printing workshop, Jai Texart, Bagru, India
Wood block printing workshop, Jai Texart, Bagru, India

And then our second day in Bagru, the last official day and culmination of the workshop, our third teacher was Hemant of Jai Texart (in the blue apron, above) — an unforgettable experience that I wish I could repeat. We’d had the opportunity to submit artwork ahead of time for the carvers to convert to a wood block, which we received upon arrival in Jaipur. After giving a short talk about natural and synthetic dyes and then showing us the grounds and their various capabilities (during which we helped mordant fabric for the next group), Hemant taught us some best practices for block printing, set us up with a series of tasks to perform and get the hang of, and then we got to print a giant stole using our custom blocks and any of theirs they had laid out for us, and our choice of four natural dyes. Not having made anything I especially loved on dabu day (when I let perfectionism get the better of me), I was feeling extra pressure to leave with a treasure, and I’m exceptionally happy with how mine turned out.

One-of-a-kind block printed scarf by Karen Templer

But far more than what I made, what I truly treasure is what I got to see and learn and, most of all, the people we got to meet, who were so generous in showing us their craft. As exquisite as block-print textiles are, I feel like they are one of those things that are easy to overlook or take for granted in our age of mechanized and digitized everything. I mean, how many people even realize it’s a handcraft, or marvel at the fact that it persists to this day? It is incredible that there are still artisans who painstakingly carve designs into chunks of wood, dyers who extract inks to be used with them, printers (human beings, not machines) who stand at long tables — padded by layer upon layer of burlap — dipping those mostly 6″ or 8″ wood blocks into a little wooden tray of ink and stamping the design onto fine cotton muslin, repeating each stamp across the fabric (without any markings or guidelines), then going back over the same ground with the next color, one block at a time, until they’ve created yardage. And these are skills that have been passed down through generations across centuries. Experiencing it all first-hand has given me a whole different level of appreciation for it.

Wood block printed fabric, Jaipur, India

See? I barely told you anything at all and yet this is six paragraphs long, so please ask me anything you want to know more about, and I will happily oblige. It’s an experience I’m profoundly grateful for and eager to discuss.

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