On the morning of our first full day at Squam a few weeks back, my friend and cabin mate Mary Jane Mucklestone popped out of her room, declared that she was ready to go, and proceeded to make pretty much every single person at the retreat fall in love with her. In her effortlessly MJ way, she was wearing a sort of prim, navy, polka-dotted shirtdress with her Kanoko Socks and a pair of black Doc Martens boots, and nobody has ever looked cooler tromping around the woods of New Hampshire. (I couldn’t take a photo that did the outfit justice.) This adorable spotted socks pattern of hers had been among my favorites of the many stunning projects in the third issue of Making, the Dots issue, from the moment it arrived, but that was the day I went from admiring them to coveting them, and I may have to knit them, even if I’ll never be as cool as MJM.
PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Summer sweaters
I’m in Kansas right now — I came for a family reunion and have stayed for a funeral.* My eldest aunt, who had been ill for a very long time, succumbed just at the moment when eighty-something of us had already come from near and far to be together, which was characteristically polite and organized of her. May she rest in peace. So I’m about one-third of the way into the first sleeve of my Bernat fisherman sweater (in Arranmore) for the Summer of Basics and already there’s Squam dock time and this precious family visit knitted into it. And if that weren’t enough, this is the most joy I’ve ever gotten from two sticks and a ball of string. I crave it when it’s not in my hands and love working every stitch. (My top three Joy of Knitting projects — pure pleasure in the stitch patterns and the yarn in my hands — are this, Gentian and Channel.) Having charted out the vintage written-instructions pattern and seen what is happening, which is quite straightforward, I have no need to look at either the pattern or the chart and can just knit away at this happily, with just the right amount of brain detachment and engagement, watching the textures develop. It’s true love in every way.
I even made a tiny mistake in the very first cable cross, and left it, so that’s out of the way!
I did make some more progress on my so-called Summer Cardigan (in Balance) before casting on for the fisherman, but at this point it’s going to be impossible for it to get my attention. Hopefully the same won’t be true of my Archer shirt for #summerofbasics, which I plan to cut the muslin of this coming weekend.
*Hence the lack of response from me on Friday’s Q for You answers, but I have read them all and hope to respond when I have a chance — great conversation as usual.
PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: May 2017
My favorite thing about #summerofbasics so far (intro here) is getting a peek into so many people’s thought processes — picking out not only what feels “basic” but also what feels like a fun challenge to take on in good company. This is the time of year when I usually start to at least hint at what the big Fringe and Friends Knitalong* for the year will be, and I realized recently — and mentioned in the East London Knit conversation — that the past several knitalongs have been about getting us all out of our comfort zones. This goes along with my post-Squam opining, but my big life lesson in the last several years has been how thrilling it is to keep pushing myself out of my own comfort zone (social and otherwise) and proving I’m fine. What happens when you do that is the boundaries get redrawn, right? The zone keeps getting bigger. (I imagine most people learn this earlier in life!) I have a pretty damn roomy comfort zone when it comes to knitting, even though I’ve only been doing it for 5.5 years, whereas my sewing comfort zone is pretty tiny, despite having learned the basics as a kid. Which was the impetus for Summer of Basics — I wanted to sew a button-down shirt and decided to drag you all into it with me!
So the next FAFKAL, as they’ve come to be nicknamed, will be another case of getting us all to try something that takes a bit of bravery. I’m not ready to share any specifics just yet, other than that it will start in January this time, rather than September. (The last two have been a different kind of challenging, as they overlapped with Slow Fashion October, and this year sandwiching it between SoB and SFO would put me over the edge.) But in the meantime, with SoB underway and FAFKAL on the horizon, I thought I’d ask: What scares you? From trying a new trick to making a whole garment to learning a whole new discipline (sewing? knitting? spinning? weaving?) or whatever it might be. And what is it about it that seems so scary, exactly?
Mine is definitely steeking (the act of cutting an opening in a piece of knitted fabric), and it’s because the one thing I’m always telling people about knitting— “It’s just yarn! You can always unravel it and it will still be yarn!” — ceases to be true. So that’s the thing I want to take on. And yes, that is a bit of foreshadowing … although the scrap of my St. Brendan that I used for this photo has nothing to do with it! Although it is relevant in the sense that cutting off the bottom of that sweater was a pretty thrilling gulp! of a moment.
*Previous annual FAFKALs being: Amanda, Cowichan, Improv top-down
PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: How do you decide what to make?
This might be a bit whiplashy — we were just talking about ski sweaters two days ago — but happy summer! Have you thought about knitting a little summer sweater? Lots of good patterns lately, but these especially have caught my eye:
TOP: 217s-06 from Pierrot Yarns is garter simplicity incarnate. I can’t find the pattern where they told me to look, but it seems to be just four squares (or two squares and two tubes, if you prefer) UPDATE: It’s been added to Ravelry since last I checked!
MIDDLE LEFT: Auger by Pam Allen is more garter goodness, this time in tank form (See also: Pam Allen’s linen tanks)
MIDDLE RIGHT: Monterey Tee by Kate Gagnon Osborn is a dressier option, with lace as ventilation
BOTTOM: Fog Cutter by Thea Colman is more of a San Francisco or rocky-coast-of-Maine sort of summer sweater
See also previous summer sweater pattern roundups here and here.
QUICK SHOP NOTE: We’re still waiting for more of the full-size Lykke interchangeable sets, but the good news is the short-tip sets are here! (A set of 9 pairs of 3.5″ tips for making 16-24″ needles.)
PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Colorwork plus
This a funny installment to fall at the start of summer, but there’s still one more sort of archetypal sweater I think every closet could benefit from and thus want to include in Make Your Own Basics. For the sake of being able to give this entry a label — and taking a mainstream-consumer-historical point of view (as opposed to a knitting purist’s POV) — I’m going to classify it simply as “a ski sweater.” That’s a term that has for a long time been very loosely applied to a woolly, generally brightly colored sweater with some form of colorwork patterning either on the yoke or all over, which was common outerwear for the slopes before the high-tech outdoorwear craze — look at this vintage chic-ness with the matching hat — but which, more importantly, is a useful part of any wardrobe. Colorwork sweaters have roots in many different knitting cultures of the world, but are most closely associated with Fair Isle and the assorted Nordic traditions. As far as knitters go, I definitely think everyone should knit one of one sort or another! And hey, if you want it in your fall/winter closet, summer is the time to cast on.
There are thousands of great patterns to choose from, but here are a few good options:
TOP: Dalis by Dianna Walla features Fair Isle-style bands of stranded motifs
MIDDLE LEFT: Dalur by Hulda Hákonardóttir is a fairly ornate Icelandic lopapeysa
MIDDLE RIGHT: Star Jumper by Oddvør Jacobsen is in the Faroese tradition
BOTTOM: Sigla by Mary Jane Mucklestone is sort of a pared-down lopapeysa with geometric punch
PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: Loungewear
Despite my careful planning and copious outfit projections, I’ve actually been struggling a little bit to get dressed so far this summer. For a few reasons: A) I haven’t replaced my ankle boots yet, which dampens my enthusiasm for all the dress-based outfits I want to be wearing. My poor old boots are just way too shabby. B) Many of the outfits in the rundown hinge on garments that are either still WIPs or that need to be mended, refashioned, lengthened or shortened, and thus aren’t actually available to be worn. And C) I really just want to wear my black linen pull-on pants every day, and I do! Yesterday, blessed with a few hours to spend in my sewing room, I decided the best thing I could do with the time was tackle the fix-it pile and get a couple of existing garments back to usefulness. So instead of cutting out the muslin of my Archer for Summer of Basics, as I had planned:
- I shortened my black linen slip dress to knee length and added patch pockets (which you can’t actually see in the photo, but I swear they’re there!), and
- I mended the 3″ tear in the side of my precious old camo pants.
Which means all of the above and below are now actual wearable outfits:
Please excuse the lack of a better (or modeled) dress photo — it was a seriously dark and stormy day. I’ll be sure to include it in a future FO post!
For details on the garments pictured, see my Summer closet inventory. And the more recently added black linen Sloper sweater and white linen shell.
Also, while at Squam I had the pleasure of chatting with Renee of the new-ish East London Knit podcast. Man am I fidgety when you point a camera at me! But if you’re interested, you can watch it here. Thanks again to Renee for inviting me on!
PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The white linen shell
So the big news of the day is that the much anticipated army-green Porter Bin is finally in the shop this morning! To everyone who snatched them up at Squam last week, thank you for your enthusiasm! To everyone who’s been emailing and asking and pleading to preorder, thank you for your patience! This is a limited batch but we do expect to have more in the not-too-distant future. I don’t have any more specifics than that at the moment, but for now what we do have is there for the ordering — further news when I have it!
UPDATE: It was a quick feeding frenzy on the army green stash but they’re NOT GONE! Remember our shopping cart expires after 10 minutes, so as long as there’s still an Army Green option in the dropdown, it’s not sold out and there’s a chance it will exprire out of some of those carts. So if you get the message that they’re all in somebody else’s cart, just check back after 10 minutes. They’re not gone as long as it’s still an option in the dropdown.
And with that, a bit of long-overdue Elsewhere—
– I failed to note that last Saturday was Knit in Public Day — you were doing it anyway, right?
– Knitting as wartime esionage tool (thx Leigh and Jess!)
– I love Felicia’s check-in on how Stash Less has changed her
– Colorwork meets street art
– And tilework begging to be colorwork
– The Sewbots are coming! (so many mixed feelings about this)
– “Reknitting” gives me a lot to think about
– For anyone considering sewing their own bras
– Has anyone tried the Good On You app?
– Or pondered the deeper meaning of Mr. Rogers’ cardigan colors?
– Love this history of Rowan (and hence of the knitting world of today)
– Kate Davies’ open letter to the Shetland Islands Council makes me sad (Signed, future Heritage Tourist)
– A spot of craft-room organization inspiration
– Yes to crochet appliqué logowear
– Yes to one-of-a-kind dresses from scraps (and also to bespoke leftover quilts)
– AND … #growyourownmarl is my new favorite hashtag
Have an amazing weekend! Hope to see you on the #summerofbasics feed.
PREVIOUSLY: New Field Bag + Elsewhere