New Field Bag! + Elsewhere

New Field Bag! + Elsewhere

BIG FUN over at Fringe Supply Co. today: the new CHARCOAL Field Bag — so swoony, so hardworking, made right here in Nashville — and the new issue of Making, Dots! Both are more beautiful than my photos can describe, but there are lots of pics over in the webshop, so go take a look. You can also find the Charcoal Field Bag today at our Limited Goods stockists listed right here. (And in case anyone missed my heads-up about it, please note that Toffee is going on haitus when our current stock runs out!)

I also have some fun and thought-provoking links for your Friday/weekend perusal:

Girls knit their way to a math career (via)

– “I knit where I want” — persist, lady, persist!

– Love this brief history of Bohus Stickning

Crochet bowls make a pretty awesome wall display

– If you’re in London, please go see this for me

How evolutionary instincts drive modern-day shopping behaviors (via) (and have you heard about J.Crew?)

– And reissue alert: Frank Lloyd Wright’s fabrics (gah!)

Thanks for choosing to spend some of your time here this week. I hope you have a yarn-filled weekend and I’ll see you back here Monday!

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

New Favorites: Banded ribs

New Favorites: Banded ribs

I don’t know if this interrupted-ribbing stitch pattern has a commonly accepted name (if it does, fill me in! and is it ribbing or brioche?) but I fell in love with it upon first seeing Helga Isager’s Pine/Marie Cardigan (top photo) from a few years ago, and now again upon encountering Anker’s Sweater (“My Size”) (bottom photo) by PetiteKnitDK. Both are seamless, circular-yoke sweaters — a perfect marriage of construction and stitch pattern. PKDK’s pullover has it contained to the yoke, and I’m a sucker for a yoke sweater that’s done with texture rather than colorwork. But there’s also something I find entrancing about its allover puckered glory on Isager’s cardigan. I could look at that photo all day long.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Bits to borrow

Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 2: Closet inventory

Summer ’17 wardrobe planning, part 2: Closet inventory

The best part of doing my whole winter wardrobe plan was isolating the couple dozen garments from my closet that would be the main players for the season. It not only simplified the process of getting dressed, but it changed even how I hang things in my closet. I’ve always been a little obsessive about grouping things by category — pants, sleeveless tops, sleeves, etc. (I might as well confess that I hang them from light to dark within those categories! I am such a librarian. And yes, all my hangers match.) That way, I reasoned, I could see what I have and be able to think. But with that little winter-heroes grid taped to the closet door, I didn’t need to look at the hangers and shelves at all, I only needed to look at the grid (or the outfit grids). What happened as a result is that the active stuff naturally shuffled to the center, right in front of the door, and the stuff that wasn’t in play for that season got pushed progressively to the side. Which was perfect because they weren’t relevant at the moment, and rather than simplifying or clarifying things, having them hung together with the relevant stuff was actually cluttering the process of getting dressed. (I don’t own enough clothes to put things away for the season or whatever — everything fits in my little 1950s closet.) The fact that my closet became what I previously considered a disorganized mess didn’t matter at all — it was actually one less thing to worry about.

So here are the key players for this summer:

DRESSES
– black linen Earthen Slip (made in KC, 2016, no longer available)
linen Gallery dress
blue stripe dress
– black linen Flax dress (new)
– striped linen Flax dress (new)

I love the black slip dress I got last summer but I find the calf length hard to wear and the lack of pockets problematic, so I’m planning to shorten it and add big patch pockets. Not sure why I don’t have photos of the next two — pardon the terrible drawings, [UPDATED 05.15] but you can see them at the links — and I’ll tell you about the two newly acquired (as in, this week) dresses tomorrow.

SLEEVELESS
Lakeside camisoles
black Adventure tee
striped cotton shell
black silk gauze shell

KNIT VESTS/TOPS
Anna vest
Meg-made tee
– WIP: ash linen Sloper

TEES, TOPS, TUNICS
– black Imogene+Willie tee (made in LA, no longer available)
Part Wolf tee (2013)
linen Fen top
blue stripe Fen top
– linen Elizabeth Suzann Harper Tunic (recent acquisition)
– black plaid top (me-made 2015, never blogged)
– black chambray top (me-made 2014, never blogged)
– ivory Madewell tunic (2014)
– tobacco linen Nade Studio tunic (2016)
– secondhand chambray shirt

I have another I+W tee in natural, which unfortunately just looks like a white tee gone dingy, so I’m hoping to dye it somehow. Good ol’ Part Wolf is in here partially as a stand-in for the fact that I want a nice fresh grey tee, more on that tomorrow. The plaid top and black chambray top are both modifications from an out-of-print Cynthia Rowley pattern that I’ve tampered with endlessly the past several years and will be doing so again. Nade Studio is a new acquaintance of mine, Maggie Pate, who I met last summer at a little makers’ market in Chattanooga and who sews every piece herself. I bought this linen tunic from her at Porter Flea in December and have been awaiting the time for wearing it. The chambray shirt will really be an outer layer for summer …

OUTER LAYERS
– denim J.Crew shirt jacket (c.2003)
– WIP: grey summer cardigan

My treasured old shirt jacket has become tissue thin all over, so I’m wearing it sparingly — it’s sort of a stand-in here for my actual jean jacket, which I don’t have a pic of.

SKIRTS
– black cotton embroidered Katayone Adeli skirt (c.1998)
– thrifted grey cotton-linen skirt

I would have sworn I recently took a photo of [UPDATED 05.15] the Adeli skirt, which I bought 20 years ago and basically wore for the first time last summer … and haven’t worn since. But I’m determined to get it into rotation this year. The thrifted skirt is another piece I just got this week ($12!) and will talk more about tomorrow.

PANTS
– black linen Elizabeth Suzann Florence pants (new/sample, pockets added by me)
– wide-leg J.Crew khakis (2016)
– natural Imogene+Willie Willies (2016, made in LA)
– camo pants Gap/mended (c.2009)
– visibly mended J.Crew jeans (c.2003)

… if I can finally get in another round of patching/mending on those poor beloved old jeans AND on the camo pants that have recently had a major blow-out around the cargo pockets. There’s also something not quite right about the fit on those khakis, which I bought around this time last year — I’m going to take them to a tailor and see if they can solve it so I’ll actually wear them more often.

SHOES
– black Jane Sews sandals (2016, no longer available)
– tan J.Crew sandals (2009)
– faux snake J.Crew flats (2017, no longer available)
– silver flats (2016, handmade in LA by Solid State for Goodwin, no longer available)
– black ankle boots (Gap 2014)

I’m putting major emphasis on ankle boots for summer, as discussed yesterday, the challenge being that my 3-year-old boots are looking problematically shabby. They were cheap to begin with, poor quality leather, which means there’s not much that can be done to make them presentable again. So I’m in the market for a replacement, but finding exactly the right combination of heel height and shaft height is SO HARD. Maybe if I finally found the exact right pair of clogs, hmm.

. . .

One notable absence here is my chambray Endless Summer tunic, one of the most hardworking garments I own. However, I like it best as an underlayer, hanging out from underneath a pullover or button-up, and it doesn’t quite light me up when paired with any of the bottoms here on its own, so ironically it’s not in the summer lineup but will be back for Fall. Also not here is my Togue Stripes tank, which is being adopted by my sister.

It may not look like there’s not a ton of commonality between these things and what I’ve described as my ideal summer mode of dress, partly because I don’t have photos of the dresses, [UPDATED 05.15] but I’m also lacking some of the most basic of basics that will help pull it all together. There’s also the fact that these items don’t go together in as many different ways as I would like, so what I need to do is make sure the garments I’m thinking of adding will extend the uses of everything here. For example, the plaid top is here but just barely. Despite the tissue-thin cotton fabric, it feels a little too Fall to me when paired with the black pants or the khaki trousers (and boots or closed shoes, if we’re talking about work). It’s cute and summery enough (by my standards) with the natural jeans and sandals, but I can’t wear sandals to my frigid workplace, so its utility is quite limited in this mix. But I’m into the idea of pairing it with a black linen skirt, and that skirt would also add one more outfit option to almost every top seen here. So more about what I’m making or otherwise adding tomorrow

(Fashionary sketch templates via Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Summer ’17 Wardrobe: Mood and strategy

New Favorites: Bits to borrow

New Favorites: Bits to borrow

You know that feeling when you see a stitch pattern and your fingers start twitching with the urge to knit it? But sometimes it’s on a garment or accessory that doesn’t quite suit you. So what’s a knitter to do?

TOP: Salt by Sylvia McFadden
I’m obsessed with stitch patterns like this one — especially this one — but not much of a shawl wearer (or knitter), so here I am pondering borrowing it for a little hat or somesuch.

BOTTOM: Split Stone by Clare Mountain
I really love what’s happening on the lower part of this sweater — I’m just not personally a fan of drop-shoulder sweaters. So I can’t help daydreaming about knitting this one from hem to underarm and then just changing what happens from there up.

(In both cases, obviously, I would buy the pattern!)

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Marmor

Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Thanks for all the great feedback on the Sloper posts this week — I’m glad some of you found it worthwhile! I’m enjoying seeing the swatches and cast-ons starting to appear on the #sloperKAL feed. And holy wow, there’s already a finished sweater! (I told you it’s fast!) I cast on in the car on Wednesday and am hoping to get in a bunch of rows this weekend.

Meanwhile, here’s Elsewhere for you—

A movie I’ll be seeing for the sweaters (thx, DG)

So happy to see TN’s Stony Creek Colors in Fast Company’s fantastic feature, The United States of Innovation

What do knitting and heart surgery have to do with each other? (Thx, Jess)

I love Jess Daniels’ Me Made May concept and her little hand-drawn infographic (image above, bottom)

A brief history of denim

– “The transitioning of half a million farmers across southern India to sustainable, organic methods has enabled [Project Pico] to bring their product back to the UK with a supply chain that is entirely traceable to the very seeds that grow the cotton.”

28 home sewers on why they do it

Crochet tank inspiration

– … and as if I weren’t already obsessed with knitting Dalur (top)

SHOP NEWS: The fabulous Helga Isager book The Artisan is back in stock. And a heads-up for you: We’ve got a new neutral coming to the Field Bag lineup in a couple of weeks, and in conjunction with that we’re putting Toffee on hiatus. We’ve got enough in stock to last a little bit, but I wanted to give you fair warning in case you’ve had your heart set on it.

Have an amazing weekend!

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

Make Your Own Basics: The camisole

Make Your Own Basics: The camisole

You may remember last Summer I cranked out a bunch of adorable little camisole tops by modifying the back panel of Grainline’s Lakeside Pajamas pattern (above, bottom), and had a ton of fun doing playing around with it. Around the same time, True Bias released their Odgen Cami pattern (top), and I absolutely love this one. The neckline is so elegant, and suitable for dressed-up or dressed-down fabrics. And look how pretty it looks on everyone. So those are both great options for filling your camisole top needs. For slip/dress ideas, see the Little Black Dress installment.

And have you heard about the Summer of Basics make-along? I hope you’re planning to join in! There are already some plans emerging on the #summerofbasics hashtag.

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PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: The trench coat

Origin Stories: Upcycled Wool and the Gang

Origin Stories: Wool and the Gang

BY HANNAH THIESSEN // I truly believe that most people have a passion for the environment. Regardless of how you feel about climate change or the politics of going green, I would wager that most humans around the world have had at least one outdoor experience they found enjoyable. Whether this means long hikes and biking on deserted trails, a car trip through the mountains, a summer camp memory in your childhood or a long day at the beach, people find intrinsic value in beautiful landscapes. We find solace in the reality of ever-present nature around us: We look for homes nestled in greenery, are delighted at the appearance of a rare, bright bird each Spring, and dream of vacations that often feature unknown-to-us plants and locations. If you have ever experienced the loss of a place you’ve loved (perhaps through a tourism boom, construction or natural disaster), you know all too well the importance of preservation: In your own way, your heart has urged you towards making small changes in your own life in order to affect larger changes in the lives of others.

One of the ways that Karen discusses preservation here on the Fringe Association blog is through sustainable garment choices. There are endless ways to apply preservation principles: mending, thrifting, upcycling, hand-making and sharing are just a few. As a knitter, one of my favorite ways to support sustainable garment making is through buying traceable fibers. While I have fallen in love (madly, madly in love) with many beautiful yarns in my decades of knitting, I have recently committed to the idea that if the maker of these yarns will not (or cannot) tell me where they come from, I should not keep buying them. My dollars instead will go to companies willing to be transparent about their supply chain and how their products are impacting the environment — knowledge is power in the hands of knitters.

This doesn’t mean that I knit exclusively with “farm yarns.” While I adore a wonderfully rustic, sheepy wool, I also often find myself craving the sleek and fashionable, comfortable and soft. When a company can combine fashion with transparency, I feel that they’ve hit the “sweet spot.” Such is the case with Wool and the Gang, a fashion knitting company that supports uncomplicated, accessible making, and has made a splash, bringing new knitters into the fold with fun, fast projects and a variety of squishy yarns. Packed in trendy, branded kits and wrapped with recycled paper labels, their goods are the gateway drug of knitting. I cannot count how many kits walk out the door of our local shop in hands that eagerly return, ready to try a new project a few weeks later. While bulky yarns and quick projects have overtones of fast fashion, the reality of Wool and the Gang’s yarn line is based on the idea that by understanding how things are made, we can see more intrinsic value in those made by others.

Jade Harwood, one of the co-founders of Wool in the Gang, is the perfect example of this idea. She learned to knit as many other knitters do, from a relative at a young age. In making miniature outfits for her toys, she embraced her love of making, specifically garment-making, and set herself on the path towards becoming a fashion designer. At 14, inspired by fellow British designers Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, she focused her attention on the dream of someday attending Central St. Martins, a London-based college with a world-renowned fashion program. While in attendance years later, she met Aurelie Popper working for a summer at Balmain. (Yes, the Balmain!) After finishing school, they combined efforts with Lisa Sabrier. The three shared a mutual love for building a fashion brand with a soul, a message that could make knitting accessible for a new generation.

The kit concept developed out of breaking down what was hard about learning: super simple introductions, chunky wool and large stitches, paired with online video tutorials. By slowing down and making your basics, they worked to counteract fast fashion by helping people learn new skills. They created a community, the ‘Gang’ part of their name, to support, encourage and connect knitters of all skill levels and ages. They believed that the first step to sustainable fashion was helping people identify with the person behind their garments: in this case, themselves. By pulling back the glossy, magazine layers of fashion, they revealed the truth below — people make things, and it’s possible for all people to make things.

Of course, sustainable goes so far beyond just the act of making. It is about materials. Since day one, the team of Wool and the Gang worked to be conscientious of the environmental issues being caused by mass-produced fashion. While wool is intrinsically considered a sustainable fiber, they wanted to break the mold and introduced yarns that could make even more of an impact on consumer waste.

Heal the Wool expands upon the sustainability of wool by utilizing the leftovers from their existing yarn mill in Peru. 100% recycled wool, it began with the process of gathering six tons of waste fiber that would otherwise have gone into a landfill. Through careful blending and sorting to create colors, they avoided the use of dyes, saving 48,000 liters of water and giving these leftovers a second life. Billie Jean, a denim yarn, is made using upcycled, pre-consumer denim waste — leftovers from denim production in the fashion industry. The waste is ground into fiber and woven into yarn without chemicals or dyes, saving 20,000 liters of water per kilogram of upcycled material. Wool and the Gang will also introduce a new sustainable yarn this summer, using eucalyptus tree fibers.

Origin Stories: Wool and the Gang

One of the toughest questions I ask of any yarn company is about outsourcing. A delicate subject in this industry, outsourcing is often about cost, and comes with a variety of concerning environmental impacts all its own: shipping, exports and questionable mill standards for workers. Often, our views of international fiber production are colored by the horror stories of sweatshop factories and child labor in developing countries. I was worried that this British based company was making a sustainable product, but at the cost of their own domestic wool production (in case you aren’t aware, the UK is having a seriously exciting moment right now with native wools — more on that in a future column!) I was pleasantly surprised by Jade’s answer to my questions about why they’ve chosen to take their production overseas: It is more environmentally sound to have a yarn milled where it is grown.

Peru is the source of the highland wool and alpaca used in Wool and the Gang’s yarns. With ample farming land and a mill partner who is actively involved in the sourcing and invested in the success of Peruvian farmers, it was not a stretch to work within the country to create yarns that embraced the history and tradition of South American wools. Beyond this, the mill they work with can handle the scale of their production, but is also passionate about offering innovative choices, as evidenced by the unique yarns Wool and the Gang is able to commission. That said, Jade and her partners are exploring the possibilities of adding a ‘Brit Wool’ to the pack, and are already dreaming up pun-based names!

In the spirit of this fresh-faced, exciting company, I asked how Wool and the Gang encourages knitters to make a start on the path of sustainable making. Jade suggests recycling yarns that you have, and points towards a recent blog post for the Gang’s top tips on how to help the environment – I am particularly interested in The Uniform Project

As for my own thoughts on the subject? I’m going to continue on my mission to share sustainable, accessible, interesting and affordable yarns with you here. In the same way that preserved nature is available to all, I believe that it’s possible to find knit-worthy yarns at all price points and preferences, from the hands of farmers or behind the sleek label of a fashion brand.

Hannah Thiessen is a freelance creative & social media strategist who specializes in yarn and fiber. She knits and dabbles in other crafty pursuits on her blog, www.handmadebyhannahbelle.com, and you can follow her on Instagram as @hannahbelleknits

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PREVIOUSLY in Origin Stories: Starcroft Fiber Mill

Photos © Wool and the Gang; used with permission