Knit the Look: the mini Guernsey Literary Society henley

Knit the Look: the mini Guernsey Literary Society henley

If you’ve seen the Netflix adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (which is not quite as twee as the title suggests), you know it’s chock full of sweaters. No ganseys, oddly, given that it’s set on Guernsey, and it’s a little confusing whose sweaters look possibly handknit and whose definitely don’t, but we’ll leave that aside. The point is: sweaters! The thrust of the story is that a pretty young London writer visits a group of book-loving strangers on the isle of Guernsey, which is still reeling from the Nazi occupation. She is a first-rate packer. Although she’s meant to be there a night or two, her mix-and-match travel wardrobe carries her through a longer stay: tweed trousers and skirt, three or four pretty silk blouses with big collars, two sweater vests, a pullover with a little Peter Pan collar, a pretty great blue-marl cardigan, a brown suede jacket and a brown garter-stitch beret are all she needs, with just a pair of borrowed workpants for when she’s helping her unanticipated love interest with his pigs. (Oh, surely you can see that coming!) For my money, though, the kids and the men get all the best sweaters. Best of all being the tattered henley pictured on the little girl, Kit, above.

There are weirdly few images from the movie on the internet, and they’re all of the woven garments, despite the fact that every single character except the military fiancé wears multiple sweaters in the film. I mean, too many cardigans to even begin to count. (There may be more Knit the Looks about these.) But that’s why all I have for you is an iPhone photo of my laptop screen, and you’ll have to trust my eye and memory on the rest.

So about this little pullover, which obviously I want in my size and minus the post-occupation tatters: It’s just a mushroom colored, boxy little henley but what makes it interesting, as always, are the details. The sleeves are ribbed but it appears to be garter rib, which would be less bunchy to wear and also features strongly on a few other of the movie’s sweaters. There are two little chest pockets also in rib. (It makes me think of Marshal, in some ways.) But what really seals it is that henley placket that runs right down to the waist ribbing. To emulate it, you could use the free ’80s-era pattern from Drops known poetically as 4-24. Knit the sleeves in garter rib and fashion a couple of chest patch pockets to match, and instead of working the placket opening a few inches shy of the neck, start it just above the waist ribbing. (And refrain from inserting shoulder pads as Drops appears to have done!) The pattern is written for bulky, so I’m recommending Harrisville’s lovely tweedy Turbine yarn in Driftwood, but it would also be easy to adapt that pattern to a lighter gauge.


PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: The Crown’s cardigans

New Favorites: Those collars

New Favorites: Those collars

There are two new cardigan patterns in the world that are making me reevaluate my (eternally conflicted) position on this kind of collar — does it have a name?

TOP: Ridgeline Wrap Cardigan by Purl Soho caused my jaw to hit the desk when I opened the newsletter. In this case, the big wide collar also comes with that cascading front action that I’m normally slightly allergic to, but somehow here the whole thing just works beautifully — and is such a perfect marriage of yarn and garment, too.

BOTTOM: Henning by Mary Anne Benedetto is a dramatic cardigan of swooping cables, with an even more dramatic collar, and looks like so much fun to knit. The thing is, it could be either super cozy or super irritating. I absolutely love it in this photo and want it to be just as it looks here, properly seated around her shoulders, but the other photos make it look like might be a slip-slider, so I’m hoping for a chance to try on the sample one day!


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Way back to school sweaters


Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Happy Friday! We’re halfway into the #fringemarlislekal (details here) and there’s still plenty of time to jump in.  Fancy Tiger — who, you may recall, are offering some of the prizes! — have a lovely interview with Anna up on their blog, and there’s still time to get a seat in some of her classes at Fancy if you’re in the Denver vicinity.

Other than that, here’s Elsewhere:

– Fascinated by this Yoke-u-lator that Kelsey Leftwich used for her amazing Summer of Basics sweater

This Ellsworth coat is perfect

So simple; so good. (Pattern here)

– I love that there’s a book of 40 of Norah Gaughan’s decades of Vogue Knitting patterns in the world (I’m into that texture-rich one pictured above)

– Ummmm …. somehow that’s all I’ve got! (lol) Man, I knew I had way too many plates spinning these past few weeks, but I have never not saved a boatload of links and references to comb through when it’s Elsewhere time. Wow, that speaks volumes.

So I’m putting it to you guys: What are the best things you’ve seen/read/heard lately? Please share!

And I hope you have an awesome weekend. I’ve got some really fun stuff lined up for you next week, so I’ll see you back here on Monday!




Packing a mixed bag for the Cities by the Bay

Packing a mixed bag for the Cities by the Bay

It looks like my brand fluffy new aran-gansey is going to get its first outing much sooner than I expected. Bob and I are headed to San Francisco and all the surrounding towns today. He’s doing the Alcatraz swim on Saturday! This has been in the works for a long time, and has been rescheduled more times than I can count, and I’ve honestly been feeling a little bothered that it finally landed in mid-September. The thing that made me craziest about living there (for almost 20 years; please note that I am very familiar with the place) was that it’s freezing all year and then September rolls around, and right when you’re actually in the mood for the sweaters you’ve been forced to wear all summer, it suddenly heats up! Sept and Oct are the only two months in which you’ll ever really get any warm weather when you’re by the Bay. So here I am in stinky hot Tennessee, about to take my first vacation to SF since we moved away, and fuming a little about the inevitability that it wouldn’t actually mean a break from the heat. But then by some miracle, the usual Indian Summer is nowhere in sight!

We are, in fact, going to visit some sweater weather today, and I could not be more delighted.

We’ll be all over the place — SF, Berkeley, Marin, Vallejo, Napa, possibly even Point Reyes — doing a hilarious variety of things (from the messiest to the most professional) in about a dozen different micro-climates, but all of the forecasts call for highs from the mid-60s to mid-70s. Those temps feel different there, with no humidity and that wind, than they do here. But I think I still have my Layering badge, and am taking the above (see the Summer closet inventory for details on the rest of the garments), which should cover all variables, along with a wool scarf, mitts, hat — and my trusty gore-tex jacket for over the sweater when I’m out on the water Saturday morning, watching Bob swim with the … nope, not making that joke.

Never fear: There will be no break in the blog action! There’s a full week of fun stuff queued up, and I’ll be checking comments as much as possible.

And of course Fringe Supply Co. is always open. Which, by the way, we have the new Mason-Dixon Field Guide No. 8 in the webshop today, featuring fun gifty accessory patterns by the always-delightful Thea Colman.


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Sweater inventory

Weaving Within Reach: Or, what to do with your yarn leftovers

Weaving Within Reach: Or, what to do with your yarn leftovers

I recently did a blog post pointing to the tiniest possible use for yarn leftovers, designed by my friend Anne Weil. Since then, Anne’s new book Weaving Within Reach has published, and I now have it in my hot little hands. (Thanks, Anne!) And I think it’s fair for me to describe it as a whole book of projects for using up yarn leftovers, from a little to a lot.

As weaving projects go, these are perfect for people like me who love the idea of weaving, but only for like an afternoon. I like a little weaving project, which is exactly what these are. But they also make use of more yarn than the earrings! I’m especially into the throw pillow and the storage bin, pictured here, both of which are designed for superchunky yarn but which would be magnificent (if possibly more fiddly) done with a bunch of strands of lighter yarns held together. Think of the possibilities of that.

The book is organized into three types of projects: those that require no loom (including the throw pillow); those using an improvised loom (the storage bin uses a cardboard box for a loom); and those that use a frame loom. So this is all beginner-level weaving — every project with full step-by-step instructions — but with lots of interesting and polished results. It’s beautifully photographed and quite inspiring. So you may see me dabbling soon!


PREVIOUSLY in Books: Must-have books lately


Linen-cotton Carolyn pants (2018 FO-20)

Non-pj Carolyn pants (2018 FO-20)

When I sewed my striped Carolyn pajama pants last month, I noted — and many of you chimed in — that they are surprisingly polished and 100% street-worthy, so I vowed at the time to try them in an equally street-worthy fabric. I still fully intend to make the navy-and-black piped linen pair, but these jumped ahead in the queue, and here’s why. Ever since relying so heavily on my black linen pants while traveling this past year+, and after seeing Martha’s natural linen pair on her recent trip, I got it in my head that I wanted to make myself a pair of Carolyns in natural linen — but I also didn’t want to buy fabric. Then when I was compiling and sorting my stash for the (ongoing) sewing room cleanup, I discovered just the thing.

Last summer, when ordering the fabric for my button-up, I had also bought two lengths of a linen-cotton blend that I assumed would be sort of a light shirting weight. I’d never unwrapped it or washed it; just added the tidy, ribbon-tied bundle to the stash. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was heavier than I thought. And after a wash, I was convinced it would work for these pants. Once I realized they’d be just the thing for a certain photo shoot last week, I somehow whipped them out one night in a fugue state. And then Hannah snapped this photo of me actually grinning at a camera. (I know.)

So what do I think of the pants? Here’s the thing: They have a lot of structure in terms of the pockets and the faux fly, and no part of that wants to gather really, once you install the elastic. (True of the pj-weight ones; even more so with a heavier fabric like this.) So what happens is the gathers collect in the little space between the pockets and the fly, almost like pleats. And in this light-colored fabric, that can wind up looking a little awkward in the crotch. In this photo, I’m conveniently striking a pose that counteracts the issue. It’s not terrible or a deal-breaker, but it does make them a Like rather than a Love. Still, it won’t deter me from making the navy pair!

Pattern: Carolyn Pajamas, view A (size 12, no mods, 2″ hem)
Fabric: Half Linen Solids from Miss Matatabi


PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The ivory aran-gansey (FO 19)





New Favorites: Vintage cardigan jackets

New Favorites: Vintage cardigan jacket knitting patterns

When Dianna pointed out to me that the motif used on that mysterious and enticing Delta promo sweater was common in Cowichan sweaters, while that sweater is clearly not Cowichan, it got me wondering if Mary Maxim might have had something to do with it. You know, Mary Maxim — the Canadian company famous for the sporty, brightly colored, pseudo-Cowichan sweater jacket patterns of the mid-20th century and beyond. (Such as this and this and this.) Which of course sent me down the rabbit hole of their vintage men’s knitting patterns. Variously questionable Cowichan derivatives aside, there’s some really great stuff — from cardigans fit for Darrin Stevens and Mr. Rogers (honestly, that could be the pattern his mom used) to all kinds of great cable sweaters and so on. And these men’s sweater jackets I want for myself:

TOP: No. 1434BV reminds me that I’m always saying I want to knit a little bomber-jacket style cardigan; and I love the slant pockets on this

BOTTOM LEFT: No. 1449V has the Cowichan-style collar and zip front, but what I most love is the scale of the diamonds on this, or …

BOTTOM RIGHT: No. 1448V is even more graphic, and with just the little bomber collar


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Way back to school sweaters