Idea Log: Indigo kimono jacket

Idea Log: Indigo kimono jacket

Two years ago, at the late-lamented Stitches South, I bought a piece of African indigo cloth from Veronika of YOTH. I posted a pic of it on Instagram, and got an incredible range of suggestions for what to do with it (including making a window shade, which would be amazing), but I’ve always pictured it as a kimono. A few weeks earlier, I had seen this photo of Ariele Alasko in an indigo kimono, followed shortly by a reference to this older tutorial for a quickie kimono, and the universe seemed to be trying to tell me something. I studied the dimensions in the tutorial and my fabric, did some diagramming and adjusting, and came within inches of cutting it … but my scissors literally hung in the air above the fabric, my brain unable to convince my hand to clamp the blades down on it. That “pattern” is the sort of thing where you just sew two pieces of fabric together halfway up the back, and the slit becomes the back of neck. It would be a fun and defensible thing to do with a less precious piece of fabric, but I knew I’d regret doing it with this. I wanted a proper garment. And was pondering pockets, of course. Always with the pockets. So I decided to wait, and think on it, and see if the desire would fade.

Meanwhile, it’s mostly been draped over the daybed in my living room, where Darla has enjoyed shedding on it liberally. Thankfully, it washes up beautifully!

The whole plan sprung back into my head in the past few days due to encountering two images on the web, again in close proximity: One being Liesl Gibson’s new Butterick B6464 kimono pattern; the second being this quilted linen kimono jacket by 7115 that is really just too good for words. (I mean: Quilted. Linen. With those pockets? Must have.) So now I’m fantasizing about tinkering with Liesl’s pattern a tiny bit, drafting some big pockets, and finally turning this bit of cloth into the kimono I’ve been dreaming of. Just need to figure out if there’s enough of it … and if I remember how to sew.

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PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: Cowichan-style cardigan, take two

New Favorites: Vodka on the Rocks

New Favorites: Vodka on the Rocks

No matter how badly I need simple, plain pullovers, I can’t stop adding elaborately textured cardigans to my knitting wish list. Just when I thought I was getting a handle on my addiction, along comes Thea Colman with this Vodka on the Rocks pattern (part of The Vodka Collection of cardigans, all of them good) and suddenly I’m mentally rearranging my list again. It’s one of those designs that manages to strike a balance between intriguing and wearable: Most of the fabric (in particular the sleeves) is a vertical textured stripe that avoids adding bulk, with a single cable column running up each front and a large, intricate cable panel contained to the back. But it all hangs together as a design, looking both gorgeous and fun to knit. Dammit.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Baedecker

St. Brendan: Outfits!

St. Brendan: The outfits!

Yesterday’s post about my finished yoke sweater got a wee bit long! I am determined to compile outfit ideas for every FO this year, so in this case I decided to save them for today.

One of the reasons I shy away from (buying or knitting) really distinctive clothing is it’s really distinctive — if I run into you somewhere in a standout garment, you’re gonna remember if I had the same thing on the last time you saw me. Also, really distinctive garments tend not to be combinable in a lot of different ways for a lot of different looks. The point being only that I don’t want to feel like I’m wearing the same outfit all the time — to me, the fun is in mixing things up — thus all the solids and neutrals in my closet. But this particular sweater is an example of how none of that is automatically true. The key is that this beauty goes with literally every “bottom” in my closet. It’s possible to get mildly creative with it, as seen in the two sketches up top—

Dressed down = layered over my favorite b/w flannel shirt with jeans and ankle boots
Dressed up = paired with my black-on-black embroidered skirt and tall boots

But the joyous part is even if all I do is reach for the next pair of pants on the pile and a pair of black shoes, they add up to decidedly different looks, sparing me from monotony …

St. Brendan: The outfits!

(Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part 1)

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

I had a realization about yarn and seamless sweaters while knitting this gorgeous thing: The more a knitting project feels like playing with Play-Doh, the more fun I find it. The joy in being able to mold and remold a thing until it’s exactly what I want …

Let’s recap: When I first set out to knit this sweater — which began from Courtney Kelley’s St. Brendan pattern — it was going to be my least improvisational act of knitting. I loved the black-and-tan sample sweater so much that my plan was simply to copy it, straight from the pattern. Same yarn, same colors, same bottom-up construction. I was knitting on US9s instead of suggested 8s, to match gauge; I planned to make the size 45 lower body and decrease to the size 38 counts by the time I joined the sleeves; I used my favorite tubular cast-on; and I knew I was going to shrink and shape the neckhole when I got there. Minor stuff.

Instead, I knitted the body and yoke as intended except with phantom sleeves, had (my own) fit issues with the yoke depth, and severed the yoke from the body, at which point I also realized it might suit me better without the colowork on the lower body and sleeves. I put the yoke back on the needles and reknitted the body and sleeves downward to my own fit specifications, omitting the colorwork. Then for the upper few rows of the yoke and neck, I did the following:

– Modified the last three rows of Chart E — the one that takes us from the colorwork to the neckband — since I no longer had a CC1 (tan) to transition to, and instead was transitioning back to my MC (black). I basically created a grey diamond but with a decrease in Row 4, so it’s more of a diamond-blob than a true diamond. Or a sawtooth — let’s go with that. This additional decrease round brought the stitch count from 108 to 81 sts, and I made it 80 on the following round.

– On Row 6, I worked a set of short rows (with 6 turns) to raise the back neck a bit, which created the wedge of black you see between the colorwork and the neckband in the back. I also worked my last pass around that short-row round as my bind-off round, closing the short-row gaps as I encountered them. So Row 6 was the last row, the short rows and the bind-off all in the same round. (For the short rows, I placed the first 4 turns at the equivalent of each “raglan” position, then the last 2 in the back, slightly closer together than the raglans. I have no idea if that’s how anyone who actually knew what they were doing would do it!) It’s a pretty slight drop between the back and front neck, but just enough to make a difference. If I were to do it again, I’d put a set of short rows just below the colorwork yoke.

– And I then picked up 72 stitches (at a rate of 7 out of 8) and worked a folded neckband. This sweater, with this yarn and my changes, feels very vintage ski-sweater to me, and I wanted to play that up by giving it a sort of retro neckline — high and round and with the folded ribbing. It’s already stretched out a bit (as neckbands will do, which is why I insist on working them from picked-up stitches, and even then try to make them smaller than I ultimately want them, knowing they’ll grow) and I’m tempted to pull it out and pick up 68 sts instead.

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

I’m head over heels in love with this sweater. Visually, the most obvious changes I made are that it’s 3 colors instead of 4, and there’s no colorwork on the lower half of it, which definitely makes it a very different sweater from the original. But for me the more meaningful change is in the fit. If you look at the left sleeve cap in the two photos below, you can see the difference in the yoke depth. The pattern has only 4 or 5 rounds of MC knitting between the underarm (sleeve join) round and the start of the colorwork. I wound up putting more like 18 or 20 rounds in there — bringing the total yoke depth to 9″, which is much more comfortable for me. No longer being beholden to the stitch counts for the lower colorwork charts, I was also able to simply knit to all of my own desired measurements (most notably a 42″ bust measurement for 8-ish inches of ease).

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

Oh, and of course I also knitted the sleeves flat (with 5″ fold-up cuffs and tubular bind-off) and added a basting stitch for side seams.

Now can we talk about the yarn for a minute? This is the new Arranmore and I would like six or seven sweaters in it, please! It reminds me a lot of the first yarn I ever fell in love with — the discontinued Kathmandu Bulky — but in aran weight. I adore it. Between the yarn and how good a circular-yoke sweater feels sitting on my shoulders, I would love nothing more than to wear this sweater every single day.

I’m calling it my Tennessee Lopapeysa, since I can get away with wearing it as outerwear here, the way Icelanders wear their lopi sweaters — although this winter, it’s not even that. Our upper-60s January has given way to mid-70s February, so I’m afraid I may not get to wear it until next year. Maybe it will be my Rhinebeck sweater! Finished well in advance.

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

Pattern: St. Brendan by Courtney Kelley
Yarn: Arranmore by The Fibre Co., in Malin Head (black), Glenveagh Castle (grey) and St. Claire (ivory)
Cost: $7 pattern + $168 yarn = $175*

You can scroll through all of my posts on this sweater hereInstagram posts here, and put a heart on it at Ravelry if you like!

*Given the frogging and extra skeins purchased and there being no way to know what percentage of the sweater’s finished weight is the MC yarn, I’m guessing at how many skeins of black actually got used, but then I also used less than a skein each of the ivory and grey. So this is a rough estimate that probably slightly overstates the true cost.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Striped pullover

How to use Lykke (and other) interchangeable needles

How to use Lykke (and other) interchangeable needles

The first time I ever used an interchangeable circular needle, it was in a class situation. For reasons I no longer recall, the kind woman next to me loaned me one of hers, quickly showing me how to use the little turnkey to attach the tips to the cord as she slid it all towards me. “Stick this little key through the holes in the end of the cord, and that way you can hang onto it better as you’re screwing on the tip.” And ta da, instant tutorial! That’s how you use interchangeable needles with threaded cords and tips.

How to use Lykke (and other) interchangeable needles

I never quite realized this isn’t knowledge we’re born with — that it had been handed down to me — until we started selling the breathtaking Lykke interchangeable needle sets and getting emails from customers having trouble attaching tips to cords. Since sets don’t include instructions for whatever reason, I thought I’d take a minute to go over the contents of the Lykke set:

  1. Needle tips, of course
  2. An assortment of cords in varying lengths, which you can combine with whichever size tips you’re using to make exactly the size and length of needle you need in any given situation
  3. Keys, turnkeys, doohickeys, whatever they’re technically called — as noted above, you insert one through the holes in the end of the cord anytime you’re screwing or unscrewing components, giving you leverage and torque (There are four in case you lose any. I always keep at least one in my stitch marker pouch)
  4. Connectors, those tiny little silver tubes, which allow you to daisy-chain cords together to make even longer cords
  5. And stoppers, for when you need to leave live stitches on a cord (i.e. as a stitch holder) while using the needle tips elsewhere — just unscrew the needle tip (again, using the key for stability) and screw on the stopper

It’s natural and desirable for the threading to be tight — you want a nice solid join — and with every set I’ve had, I’ve found it’s sometimes necessary to back off and start again (like screwing a lid on a jar and having it very slightly crooked) or flip a cord around and try a needle on the other end. The key should facilitate getting everything screwed together nice and tight and smooth. That said, if you find you have a needle or cord that simply won’t cooperate, even when following these instructions, get in touch with Lykke and they’ll be happy to help!

We have Lykke sets in the shop right now, but I also want to let you know we have individual circs coming very soon! If you’re not quite ready to invest.

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Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Happy Friday, lovelies. I’ve got some links for you, but first I want to say thank-you for all the comments on last Friday’s Q for You. If you haven’t seen the discussion, there are not only great tips for cleaning up your feed but so many creative uses of Pinterest! Ok—

– “How do I explain to a non-maker that these garments aren’t just fabric and thread?” (bottom right)

Let’s go to Bergen for the weekend (top right)

Ways to use partial (or small) quilts

Clara Parkes on her visit to the American Sheep Industry conference

– Praise hands for Grace Anna Farrow’s @giveawaywhatyoucovet project

Exactly the Banff hat I’ve been picturing in my head (and such a gorgeous picture!) (top left)

– Might Cleo be the skirt pattern I’ve been looking for?

How to mend a hole in your jeans (bottom left)

Knitaid: helping refugees through the craft of knitting

– and have you knitted a scarf for your cat?

IN SHOP NEWS: The highly coveted Lykke interchangeable needle sets are finally back in stock!

Have an amazing weekend, everyone! What are you working on?

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

Introducing “Slow Fashion Citizen”

Introducing "Slow Fashion Citizen"

At the turn of the year, I asked what you guys had enjoyed most last year or want to see more of this year, and what I heard loudest from you was more content relating to slow fashion. There were several requests for me to spread the subject out more, with comments that Slow Fashion October can be overwhelming and that obviously it’s a subject that’s of interest and relevance year-round. I couldn’t agree more! I’m definitely not saying Slotober is going away or anything, and obviously there’s a slow fashion aspect to every post I do about what I’m making (or even that I’m making my clothes in the first place), but I do want to address the subject in various and direct ways throughout the year. I was particularly happy to hear that feedback because I already had an idea for a series of interviews — discussions with slow fashion proponents and role models of all kinds, from sewers and knitters to thrifters, designers, manufacturers — and had that on my editorial calendar beginning in January.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the series launch: while falling immediately behind schedule, I also found out author/slow fashion advocate/mending teacher Katrina Rodabaugh had the exact same plan! I’m a fan of Katrina — we met in an “embroidermending” workshop in Oakland in 2014 (a workshop that had a major impact on me) and we’ve been social media friends ever since. (We also bonded at Rhinebeck ’15 over the difficulty of adjusting to life outside the Bay Area, both of us having moved away.) So when I heard what she had in mind, I got in touch. And I’m happy to report that instead of the two of us hoeing the same row, Katrina will be conducting the interviews and they’ll be published here on Fringe Association! We’re calling it “Slow Fashion Citizen” and it starts tomorrow. So welcome aboard, Katrina! I’m really looking forward to this.

I’ll have more to say about other slow fashion content coming up soon. Meanwhile, if you’re not familiar with Katrina — or even if you are — I hope you’ll go read her recent post where she talks about her background and what she hopes to accomplish with this interview series. Definitely check out her Instagram feed. And if you have kids, take a look at her book The Paper Playhouse.

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