Arguably one of the most famous sweaters in American history — if not the most famous — is Mister Rogers’ red cardigan, which he wore on countless episodes of his legendary TV show and at least once to meet an American president, and which is now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian. As a knitter, you probably know that his mother knitted all of his cardigans for as long as she was able, and you may be wondering if the sweaters Tom Hanks wears in the movie are also handknits. They were, and here’s the knitter who knitted them. And if you’d like to knit one for yourself or some kindly person in your life, there’s a free pattern.
The sample is knitted in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Cinnabar, but it’s possible you could knit it in another color and not have people make Mister Rogers references everywhere you go. There are also those great vintage Mary Maxim patterns if you want something in the same vein but a little less on the nose.
I feel like I should acknowledge that as a small child I lived for Sesame Street and found Mister Rogers unbearable. But I do love the knitting angle.
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.
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).
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.)
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!
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
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 …)
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—