Portugal packing list

Portugal packing list

By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be somewhere in Portugal, which is blowing my mind. I just finally made it out of the Americas last year, when Bob and I went to Paris. And now I’m off to Portugal with my globe-trotting friends, thinking maybe there’s still a chance for me to learn their ways! I’d tell you what we’ll be doing while we’re there, but I barely know; all of the most intense planning conversations happened while I was out for Bob’s surgery and then while I was away at Squam. But I have complete faith that the women I’m traveling with have made amazing plans for us, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it when I get back.

Not really knowing what we’re doing does make packing a little mysterious! Along with a forecast that has changed pretty drastically in the past few days — shifting from low 70s to low 90s — and still includes a 20-degree swing while we’re there. So this is what I’m taking (pictured above) in the hope it will suit whatever happens. 12 garments for 12 wildly variable days:

– Denim vest (J.Crew, ancient)
Sweatshirt
– Silk smock  (Elizabeth Suzann 2017, no longer available)
Chambray button-up
Striped sleeveless tee
Black sleeveless tee
– Grey linen sleeveless tee (Everlane 2017, available again at the moment)
Green camisole
– Black elbow tee (Everlane, new)
Recycled demin wide-legs
Canvas wide-legs
– Jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, 2016, made in LA, no longer available)

Shoes: Veja sneaks (new), Everlane orange sandals (new, sold out); black Salt Water sandals (old) and trail shoes (very old). Plus a swimsuit and a pair of old hiking shorts. And as I’m typing this, I’m thinking rather than throwing in a pair of pj pants for when we’re just hanging around, I might grab my black linen Eliz Suzann pants instead, which are glorified pj pants that could also step into service if needed.

I do have blog posts queued up for while I’m away — some new, some resurfaced — and I hope to be able to respond to comments during this time, but please forgive me if I wind up having to catch up when I’m home! And of course, I’m sure to be oversharing on Instagram @karentempler if you want to follow along in real time.

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Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

Squam Art Workshops takes place at an old summer camp in New Hampshire, on the shore of Squam Lake (where On Golden Pond was filmed). It’s actually two camps, built one right after the other in the late 1800s by a civil war widow and her protegé, and combined into one after the death of the older woman. It’s about as picturesque a place as you could ever imagine, so you spend a lot of time just ogling and photographing your surroundings, from the rustic cabins with their screened porches and iceboxes (literally) to the docks and the woods and the paths and the phone-booth cabin and the dining-hall window … and the list goes on. My first afternoon, before my cabin mates arrived, I wandered around shooting Fringe bags everywhere, from the woodshed to the wheelbarrows. It’s the sort of place that makes everyone look like a brilliant photographer.

On the second and third days, I taught my cables class. And on Friday afternoon, when my second class let out, I was overcome with that school’s-out-for-summer feeling. I’d be working like a madwoman before I left, then teaching (which I sincerely love and enjoy) and then suddenly I realized I had almost 48 hours to just enjoy the place and the people and my cabin mates, which this year were Kristine and Adrienne from Verb, my beloved pal and two-time cabin mate Mary Jane Mucklestone, and Jessica Forbes, the co-owner of Ravelry, who’d I’d met briefly on many, many occasions but had never gotten to spend any time with. She is a HOOT! So there was a lot of dock-sitting and knitting, porch-sitting and knitting, fireplace-sitting and knitting. On Saturday, MJ and Adrienne and I hiked up to the top of Rattlesnake (point? ridge? peak?) and took in the incredible view of the lake. This is MJ at the tippy-top, below right:

Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

But I’m getting ahead of myself. So Friday afternoon: Class is over, I’m done teaching, and I’ve come prepared. The really hard part about teaching is not getting to take classes, when you’re surrounded by all these people learning to block print and macrame and make beautiful journals and … so many temptations. But before I left for camp, it occurred to me there might be the slight possibility of dipping a little something into Kristine’s natural indigo vats when her students were done. She was very sweet to indulge me (even though it was really wrong of me to ask) so these little bundles are what I had packed in my bags, just case:

Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

And here’s how they turned out:

Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

The upper one is the white linen shell I had sewn just in time for Squam last year. And the smock is my once-white State Smock, which was getting a little “ring around the collar”-y. The both came out almost exactly as I had imagined them, and I can tell you that dyeing with a few friends and a can of beer, on the wraparound porch of a lodge building overlooking a scenic lake, is one lovely way to spend a Friday afternoon. My biggest thanks to Kristine for the dyeing and to Mary Jane for the beer!

So I came home with two new-again garments, but I know you’re wondering how my ultra-minimal packing list played out in the woods. Here are all the ways the contents of my suitcase got worn (with a bonus tee I bought at the gift shop while I was there) —

Squam outfits

The cardigan was frequently in my bag (or over my shoulders) just in case, but it was mostly too warm for it. I wore the clay pants 5 out of 6 days, and the jeans only once. Those pants are PERFECT in this setting, and barely even showed dirt. And it was fine that I only had my Chucks with me — even on the bouldering part of the hike. (Although I did also have flipflops for shower shoes, basically.)

For the full inventory/origins on the garments, see my packing post. And to see the real-time Story of my week in motion, watch the highlight reel in my Instagram profile. I’ll be watching it anytime I need a moment of peace.

Squam part 2: Knitting, dyeing, hiking, wearing

PREVIOUSLY: Squam part 1, Gauge (and other) lessons

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Squam part 1: Gauge lessons

Squam part 1: Gauge lessons

I have so much to tell you (or show you) about my six days at Squam Art Workshops (aka art camp for grown-ups) that I’m breaking it into two parts! First, let’s talk about my classes. This year and last, I’ve taught a class called In the Company of Cables, which is ostensibly a class about how to knit cables but is really a class about getting comfortable with reading charts, tracking your progress, fixing mistakes, seeing the pattern in a way that often frees you from needing to keep referring to the chart, and so on. Which is good, because this year all but six of the people who signed up already knew how to knit cables! I’m always saying you should take classes from people you find interesting, even if you already know the thing they’re teaching, because there’s always something to be learned in amongst all the dialogue that happens in a knitting class. I say that, and then I freak out a little bit when people who already know everything I’m teaching take my class! So hopefully even the pros in the room picked up a good tip or two. I certainly enjoyed spending the day with both groups, and feel very honored that people would want to listen to me yammer on about something they already know. So thank you to everyone who signed up, beginners and lifelongers alike!

(Gravest apologies to the half of the cutie-pie sister duo I accidentally cut off in the only still photo I took of Friday’s group! Everyone is in the frame in the video version found in my Instagram highlight reel.)

In Friday’s class, we had an amazing demonstration of why gauge matters. For myriad reasons, I don’t ask my students to swatch for the hat that I teach, but they do have homework. They’re asked to cast on 90 sts and work the first few rows of the pattern before coming to class. Everyone uses the identical yarn, Osprey, and size US8 needles. Obviously, because everyone’s tension varies, everyone’s finished hat size will vary, and my hope is that everyone winds up with a hat that will fit someone they know. But I do state that if you know yourself to be a loose knitter, cast on 80 stitches instead, so your hat won’t be gigantic. Check out this photo:

Squam part 1: Gauge lessons

Am (@oystersandpurls) is on the right, and she cast on the prescribed 90 stitches. Am is a tighter knitter than me, so her hat is smaller than my pattern/samples. Brienne (@brienne_moody), on the left, is a loose knitter so she cast on only 80 stitches, and her hat is still bigger than my samples! Think about this for a second: the hat on the left has 10 fewer stitches and is significantly larger than the hat on the right, even though they were knitted in the same yarn on the same size needles. Fortunately, they both still fit: One is a slouchy beanie and the other is a fitted skullcap. But it was an incredibly vivid example of the difference gauge makes in the finished dimensions of a project — even a little hat.

(And how cute are they with their matching toffee Field Bags? I just noticed that.)

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Early summer outfits: Summer layers

Early summer outfits: Summer layers

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since moving to a place where summer happens and trying to locate myself in that, it’s that what makes me feel most like myself is layers. And that the onset of summer doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning that entirely. This is, after all, a land of air conditioning. I also have an insanely and thrillingly intense June ahead of me — two patterns due, two big trips to plan (and pack) for, lots of exciting stuff in the pipeline for Fringe Supply Co., an urgent need to compress a whole lot of work into the gaps of an unusual amount of travel, and thus even greater need than ever to not have to think about what to wear as I head into each action-packed workday while I’m home. So my early summer uniform is a necessarily simple formula: sleeveless layers.

Nearly all of the outfits below still work if you peel off the top layer when needed, so there you have my deep summer strategy! You may notice a discrepancy between the first “modeled” outfit up there and the garment lineup just below it. I had a moment with that floral top yesterday and an interesting discussion about it over on Instagram. But the bottom line is: that outfit needed a different top!

This round of Closet Rummy™ is far from exhaustive (and this is only using 24 of the 34 garments), but it’s demonstrative of how my [vest/smock + sleeveless/cami + pants] formula might play out in the coming weeks. For details on all of the garments pictured, see yesterday’s summer closet inventory.

Early summer outfits: Summer layers
Early summer outfits: Summer layers
Early summer outfits: Summer layers
Early summer outfits: Summer layers

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see how many outfits I can make with those orange Everlane shoes I can’t stop thinking about …

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PREVIOUSLY in Summer ’18 Wardrobe: Closet inventory

Summer ’18 wardrobe: Closet inventory

Summer ’18 wardrobe: Closet inventory

Across the top row of this grid are what I’m calling the fixer-uppers: four pieces that need a bit of work before they can actually factor into my summer wardrobe. But I’m including them here in my summer closet edit anyway, as motivation to get it done:

– The tuxedo-pleated and ruffled cotton top is a garment I think of as a summer closet necessity. I always and forever love a sweet eyelet or ruffled white top (such as the one seen yesterday), paired with camo or faded jeans or beat-up khakis. I’ve been missing this element the past few years because I have this one, from J.Crew many years ago, which hasn’t been wearable for a while but I haven’t managed to replace. So I’ll be making that a priority and using this one as a stand-in when it comes to making outfit projections tomorrow. This one needs a dye job if it’s to continue on, so that’s two priorities in one photo: dye this one and make its white ruffled replacement.

– The (formerly) white linen shell is the one that got in with the blue load of laundry and now needs to be dyed a more decisive blue.

– The unfinished Clyde Jacket was a sample-sale score late last year, and I need to carve out and finish off some nice deep armholes to make it a super-funtional smock-vest.

– The jeans. They’re too thin to patch and too dear to let go, so I’ve got them on the waitlist with Indigo Proof! I’m hoping Rain can shore them up sufficiently, and hoping to have them back before the summer is over.

As those are fixed, they’ll join these ranks:

CAMISOLES, TANKS AND TOPS

Camisoles in green, indigo and black ikat
Meg-made sweater tee
Sweatshirt vest
– Linen muscle tee (Everlane 2017, available again at the moment)
Sleeveless tee in striped hemp jersey and black hemp jersey
Blue-striped shell (also: black silk gauze version)
– Dotted chambray tunic (Endless Summer, made by a friend)
Blue striped Fen top
Plaid top
Black chambray top
Chambray button-up
– Tobacco linen tunic (Nade 2016, no longer available)

VESTS AND SMOCKS

– Denim vest (J.Crew, ancient)
Black Anna vest
– Smock x 3 (State Smocks, upcycled, available on repeat — mine are all from 2017)

Also my beloved old trench-style vest (J.Crew c. 2010) seen here.

PANTS

Canvas wide-legs
Recycled denim wide-legs
– Clay wide-legs (Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Culotte, made in Nashville, sample sale 2017)
Camo wide-legs
Denim wide-legs
– B/w palazzos (Ace&Jig 2017, no longer available)
– Chinos (J.Crew 2015/16, no longer available)
– Linen palazzos (Elizabeth Suzann Florence, made in Nashville, sample/modified 2017)
– natural denim jeans (Imogene+Willie, 2016, made in LA, no longer available)
– dark cropped jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, 2016, made in LA, no longer available)

I’ve pulled out those old J.Crew chinos again, gonna give ’em another go, and I’ve got the b/w Ace&Jig pants in here but I think I may be selling them. They’re just a little too big, and combined with how gauzy/flowy they are, it’s a bit much for me.

DRESSES

Whoops, no, not factoring in any dresses right now. While I’m sure I’ll wear some of them — especially when we get into the thick of the summer soup — they’re not just key players for me, so I figure I might as well not fool myself about it.

SHOES

– Sneakers (Veja Wata, brand new!)
– Faux-snake flats (J.Crew 2017, made in Italy, no longer available)
– Tan flats (Solid State Studios, 2017, handmade in LA, custom order)
– Black huaraches (Nisolo Ecuador, 2017, responsibly made in their own factory)
– Tan sandals (J.Crew, c. 2009)
– Black sandals (Jane Sews, 2016, no longer available)
– Black patent flat clogs (No.6 Alexis, made in US, brand new!)

Of the 34 garments pictured, I’ve made 17 over the past five years (that’s half! plus one linked but not pictured); 2 were made for me by friends; 4 were made locally; 2 were made in LA; 3 are upcycled/refashions; 1 is from eminently transparent Ace&Jig; 1 is from Everlane, who swear they only uses the good factories so, y’know, fingers crossed; and 3 of the remaining four are from more than 5 years ago (the other one being a couple-few years old). Like I keep saying: It’s a slow process, building up a slow closet, but this is proof that if you keep at it over the course of a few years, it can be done!

All that aside, check out this lineup alongside yesterday’s mood board. How in-the-zone am I?

Summer ’18 wardrobe: Closet inventory

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Summer ’18 wardrobe: Mood and color

Summer '18 wardrobe: Mood and inventory

I started to make a Summer ’18 mood board at Pinterest the other day and realized that my ruling mood board right now (and always) is my All things lovely board, formed over the past nearly-ten years and really the inner me in Pinterest-board form. I want to listen to that more, and it’s telling me a LOT about myself right now, so for today I made the mini mashup mood board above, pulling from the two. Here’s what it says to me about how I want to dress this summer: breezy, light and loose, as usual; and in my normal palette range of watery blue/greens mixed with b/w, indigo, navy, russet-y pale browntones, and a little bit of stripe or pattern here and there. But it also tells me I’m craving some hits of stronger color. I’m particular feeling the red-orange and pinkish-red bits and want to work in a pop of that somehow, along with a spot of yellow. (This yellow top of Jaime’s is killing me.) An unexpected red shoe was my favorite styling trick of the late ’90s and early aughts, so with all of the above, I’m a little obsessed with these Everlane slides right now and might be acquiring them soon. I might also need to think about a pair of statement shades. ;)

All of this will influence my plans for Summer of Basics, coming up on June 1. But meanwhile, it’s making me feel pretty dang good about the state of my summer closet!

I’m genuinely excited about this summer, you guys. My first summer in Nashville, Fringe Supply HQ was in a windowless, airless, ventless, death trap of a room, and I dressed accordingly: tank tops, shorts, sandals and sweat. Then for the past three summers (as you’ve heard me drone on about), our little warehouse was meat-locker cold, to the point that I often had to leave by mid-afternoon to work somewhere I could recover the feeling in my fingers and the normal flow of blood in my brain. THIS SUMMER! This summer we have control of our own climate, and I can actually dress for summer — can enjoy the sleeveless clothes I love so much without worrying about bringing my wool coat to work with me, as I did last year. It’s so liberating, I don’t even have words to describe it! So tomorrow I’ll show you the roundup of my summer clothes that tie into the vibe above so nicely.

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Our Tools, Ourselves: Jenny Gordy (Wiksten)

Our Tools, Ourselves: Jenny Gordy (Wiksten) studio tour and interview

The ten of you who’ve been reading this blog since the beginning might remember that my very first Blog Crush post (Jan 2012) was an ode to Jenny Gordy’s now-dormant-but-still-readable blog. Jenny and her webshop, Wiksten, were a huge inspiration to me in starting Fringe Supply Co. — I still have the original printed Wiksten Tank pattern I ordered from her, which contributed to so many of my opinions about what receiving an online order should feel like. And of course she and her patterns and her personal style have been referenced here many times over the years. So it’s a real treat for me to get to run this interview with her today. And I know a lot of you are equally huge fans, so I hope you’ll enjoy this peek into her studio and her knitting and sewing life.

For more of Jenny, follow @shopwiksten on Instagram; check out her current blog here (here’s her daughter, Iris, wearing my dream outfit); and see all of her patterns and fabric bundles in her shop. And for those wondering about the Kimono Jacket pattern pictured above and mentioned below (with modifications and variations since it first appeared in Making), Jenny says it’s coming in June! So the wait is almost over.

Thanks for doing this, Jenny! Here we go—

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Do you knit, crochet, weave, spin, dye, sew … ?

I have the most experience with sewing, which I’ve done since I was a child. I’ve always found it incredibly empowering to be able to dream something up and then literally stitch it into existence that very day (like the time my best friend and I decided we just HAD to make a wedding dress for her hamster so that it could get married). Growing up, I spent afternoons and evenings with anyone who would teach me — from my grandmother and mother to my friends’ mothers.

I loved sewing clothing so much that I ended up going to fashion school in New York to study patternmaking. In school, I had to figure out how to construct garments by myself, and I got to take couture sewing classes. Going to class every day made me feel so giddy that I was bouncing off the walls. I felt very lucky.

When I was in my late twenties I learned how to knit, and it opened up a whole new world to me. I still can’t believe I wasted over twenty years of my life NOT KNITTING! I’m happiest when creating, and this was a relaxing way I could do that just for fun with no pressure or deadlines. I still love sewing, but for me it’s work. Knitting isn’t. It’s comforting and cozy, portable and easy.

Although I’m able to read and write patterns well enough, I don’t consider myself an experienced knitter. I only want to wear things in very simple styles, so I’ve never learned how to do more complicated pieces. In my knitting work I tend to focus on perfecting simple things by doing them over and over again, so I’d say I’m very experienced with a few things and not much else.

I haven’t done much dyeing in recent years, but when I had my clothing line I used to do a bit of fabric dyeing. I did just indigo-dye a Kimono Jacket sample for the pattern cover, which turned out really lovely and made me hungry for more. My friends and I are constantly talking about wanting to dye things with avocado pits, but I still haven’t done it.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Jenny Gordy (Wiksten) studio tour and interview

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

There are 3 sewing tools I’m obsessed with: (1) a sleeve board for pressing narrow things like sleeve cuffs and underarm seams, (2) a seam gauge for hemming, and (3) an edgestitching foot (for a sewing machine). If you know my patterns well or have taken classes from me, that last one might make you laugh since I can never shut up about it. I have no interest in sewing without these tools. I think everyone probably knows about a seam gauge, but I’m shocked that so many people endure sewing without those other two.

I also have to have two Zirkel magnetic pin holders — one at my cutting table and one next to my sewing machine. Fiskars Razor Edge spring-assist shears are the only scissors I’ve found that don’t fatigue my thumb after constant cutting. Fiskars doesn’t make the style I like anymore, but you can get the old ones on Etsy. People think I’m crazy for using them on both paper and fabric, but they’re so sharp it doesn’t even matter.

As far as knitting tools go, I’m pretty into using Addi Turbo Lace circular needles for most projects, and I like using wood double-pointed needles for socks or tiny baby things.

How do you store or organize your tools? Or do you?

I bought a label maker last year and put lots of things into labeled clear plastic bins with lids, which makes it very easy to find things. My cutting table has shelves on the backside with massive space for storage, so I tuck the bins away since the plastic isn’t so attractive. I have an assortment of wood caddies, baskets, and handmade ceramic cups and dishes around my studio that hold various tools and supplies. One of my favorite things I’ve recently installed is a Shaker peg rail with shelf above the cutting table for hanging patterns, scissors, rulers and other patternmaking supplies. It’s freed up a lot of table space.

How do you store or organize your works-in-progress?

I have a nice collection of beautiful woven pouches with zippers or drawstrings for holding my knitting projects. I keep these, along with some needles and yarn, in a drawer of the credenza below our living room TV for easy access.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Jenny Gordy (Wiksten) studio tour and interview

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

I was very close to my grandmother, who taught me how to sew. When she died, I inherited her vast collection of vintage fabric scraps and crafting tools. I will basically never need to buy hand-sewing needles ever again. She loved to travel and would collect thimbles from all over the world, and my mom recently let me have a sweet handmade ceramic one from her collection in our favorite colors, blue and white. The whole look of it just really reminds me of her.

Do you lend your tools?

Always! I want everyone to share the joy that I get from knitting and sewing, so I actively try to convert people into crafters if they show the tiniest bit of interest. I always offer to give my friends free lessons and lend tools if they’re into it. If I get the tools back, great. If not, no worries!

What is your favorite place to knit?

I love to travel, so I would say my most pleasurable knitting is done on a plane, in the car on a road trip, in a hotel room, or in a beautiful setting outdoors. However, most of my knitting is done on the couch while watching my daughter play or while watching a movie, preferably covered in cats. Sometimes I knit in bed with headphones and an audiobook while my husband reads next to me. I love knitting at friends’ houses when we have knitting night. There are too many favorite places! I love them all.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Jenny Gordy (Wiksten) studio tour and interview

What effect do the seasons have on you?

I knit and sew year round. I’m definitely one of those people who knit at the beach.

Do you have a dark secret, guilty pleasure or odd quirk, where your fiber pursuits are concerned?

Nothing too interesting. I’m pretty monogamous when it comes to knitting projects. I usually stick to one at a time. Also I no longer buy yarn unless I’m going to start on a specific pattern immediately.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve been working on the same knitting project for 5 months! It’s the West End Cardigan by Hannah Fettig in Quince & Co Owl in Cinnamon. I’ve been really distracted by some things going on in my life, and I keep messing up and having to rip back and do sections over. Although not a particularly difficult pattern, it’s just been a real struggle to finish. I typically do not give up though.

Over the winter, I worked on sketching and swatching women’s cardigan and pullover knitting pattern designs that I’m really anxious to start writing. So many other projects have been getting in the way, but I’m going to have some time this summer to devote to it. I’m sure I’ll end up trying to do a kid’s version too if I can find the time.

In sewing projects, I’ve just finished up the Kimono Jacket pattern. I’m always sewing Wiksten samples to both test things out and create content for Instagram. I love sewing my own designs, because I’ve done them so many times that it’s a breeze. It’s just really satisfying to do the same thing over and over again, getting better each time. I’m going to take a week or two to have fun sewing samples and give myself a break before diving head first into the next pattern. I have a list of pattern ideas that I want to develop in the next year, and I’m just so excited about them.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Jenny Gordy (Wiksten) studio tour and interview

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Photos by Jenny Gordy and Anna Caitlin Harris, used with permission