Q for You: How do you use Pinterest?

Q for You: How do you use Pinterest?

When Pinterest was young, I was deeply in love. Back around 2011-’12, when I also happened to be a brand-new knitter, it was an essential part of my daily routine. I’d log on late at night with a glass of wine, and/or first thing in the morning with my yogurt, scroll back to where I’d last left off, and wander my way upwards — looking for random inspiration and also (maybe moreso) for interesting people. In those days, your feed was made up very straightforwardly of the chronological pins of the people you had elected to follow, and it also displayed who they had repinned an image from, as well as any comments on the pin. So not only could you control what you were seeing by choosing who to follow, and could keep your place because it was chronological, but you could find and meet new people! I loved seeing who my chosen pinners were getting their best pins from, clicking through to find out more about those people, and interacting. Along with being lit up by all the beauty in my curated page, I discovered all sorts of interesting people with excellent taste, and met some of my favorite knitters and even one of my very best friends that way.

Then, as seems to be inevitable, things went south. From my perspective, anyway. A redesign a few years ago buried the community layer — no longer did the bottom of each pin in the scroll say who it was repinned from, comments were collapsed (and thus suppressed, activity-wise). If you want a pin to lead you to other good pinners, it now requires time and effort. The feed stopped being chronological and gradually became jammed full of sponsored or suggested pins, so it was no longer specific to the pinners you’d chosen to follow. Which meant it looked more like the old front page (the everyone page) and less like one’s own little curated world. And now they’re even collapsing the captions — it’s like they have a vendetta against words! Having worked in tech, I have no doubt they’re making data-driven decisions — they must have evidence that other people didn’t care about all that stuff that made me love it in the first place. I guess. But is that true? Or is Pinterest no longer the phenom it once was because so many other people valued it the same way I did, data notwithstanding?

The thing is, I still love Pinterest — or at least, I want to. I long for those days when I could call it up in my browser and know I was going to tumble down a gaping rabbit hole of gorgeousness, but I’ve been trying to find new ways to make use of what it is, since it’s no longer useful to me in the way it was. I think now I use it more the way it was originally conceived — simply as a place to store things I want to save and find again, or occasionally to search for something specific. I’m enjoying making my guest board for BT. I have some secret/shared boards for project planning. I’ve been repinning the whole site archive onto series-themed boards, and love being able to see whole series at a glance like that. (And hope you do, too!) And I still see a lot of blog traffic coming from Pinterest, so I know people are still using it.

But I am curious, and so that’s my Q for You today: How do you use Pinterest? What do you use it for and hope to get out of it. Do you look at it every night/morning or only when you have a specific need? What works for you, Pinterest-wise. Or do you use it at all?

I look forward to your responses, and also wish you a happy weekend!

(NOTE: The image above is a screengrab from my Yarny Goodness board. I have two Pinterest accounts — karentempler and fringeassoc)


PREVIOUSLY in Q for You:

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

In Our Tools, Ourselves, we get to know fiber artisans of all walks, ages, styles and skill levels, by way of their tools. For more on the series, read the introduction.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

In recent months, Beth Thais — I mean, @beththais — has become one of my very favorite Instagrammers. You may recall she was also one of the WIP of the Week winners last summer. I don’t really know anything about her other than that she’s an incredible sewer and knitter, takes beautiful photos and lives in the Bay Area. Since encountering her online, I’ve wished I had made friends with her while I still lived there, and having asked her to answer my Our Tools, Ourselves questions — reading her answers and seeing these photos — has made me wish I had moved in with her. Forgive me if that sounds creepy, but I think you’re likely to feel the same way. ;)

In addition to her Instagram feed, you can find her on Ravelry as beththais. Thanks so much for doing this, Beth!

. . .

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

I knit (14 years running), sew (five years) or quilt (two years) almost every day. I enjoy spinning and crochet on occasion. I dyed my first-ever skeins of yarn last month and I liked it.

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

I get attached to the potential tools bring, and their sentimentality. Like fabric on the bolt, it’s easy to pick up a tool and picture all things you could make with it — that sense of possibility is so heady and hard for me to resist.

I do most of my sewing on a modern Bernina and a Brother serger that I researched and bought deliberately. And my rotary cutter and mats and my first good pair of sewing scissors were the same. Most other things I use, including the 1950s Gimble sewing machine I learned on, are things I’ve stumbled across online or at garage sales, or I am lucky to get them as gifts from family or friends.

And I know it’s bizarre, but I just don’t care that much what kind of needles I knit with. Metal, wood, circulars, DPNs — I care about the yarn and the pattern, everything else is background.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

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

I have a big cabinet for yarn and another for fabric. The fabric cabinet was pulled out of the dining room of a 1920s home in Burlingame, California, before demolition and came to me by way of Craigslist years later. My husband restored it and installed it in the spare bedroom I use as a workshop. He did such a beautiful job — it looks like it’s been a part of our house for a hundred years.

My yarn cabinet is a 1930s kitchen cabinet with stove burner etched glass that I bought from a woman downsizing her home in Oakland. She had used it for many years to hold painting and ceramic art supplies, so it’s on a second tour of duty storing tools for making. My rolled sewing patterns are in a ceramic umbrella stand I found at a garage sale. Boxed patterns are in two baskets in an order I can pretty much recite but has no real organization behind it.

I have a yellow standing sewing box that I treasure. It’s a bizarre little piece of midcentury furniture built entirely with making in mind: pin cushions on the inside of the lid, dozens of little pockets lining the inside for your tools and notions, a deep curved bottom for your sweater or hand sewing project in progress, and little wheels so you can drag it all around the house with you. It is incredibly useful, but also so specifically built to my purpose that I can’t help having an affinity. We share interests, it and I.

When my projects leave the house, I have little tool kits to go with them. Tasa Gleason came to a monthly Seam Allowance meeting at A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland with a Sew Together bag she had made. We all loved it and kept after her until she agreed to teach a class so we could each sew our own. I have a full-sized one for hand sewing and the mini size for knitting. They have built-in pin cushions and needle stops and a million pockets and I know by heart what goes in each one.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

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

With exceptions for gifts made on a deadline, I give myself freedom to work on what inspires me. I use a big bulletin board to plan projects obsessively when it suits, but also wait for that idea that bewitches me out of nowhere. Some of my most euphoric makes are completely unplanned and heady with that sense of giving into a wonderful whim.

My Snoqualmie cardigan sent me on a bus to buy yarn on my lunch break, and I cast on during my commute home despite not having the right size needles to do a tubular cast-on properly. So one sleeve starts with a long-tail cast-on and it looks a little different than all the other hems, and while I completely get that most people think that’s totally nuts, I don’t know … it’s never bothered me. I look at that cast-on that doesn’t match and remember how much I loved that sweater when I first saw it, and how thrilling it was to turn around and suddenly be making something so beautiful and complex with my own hands.

This approach begets many active projects. I have a drawer for sleeping or misbehaving WIPs, and an accordion wall rack that has the ones I’m rotating between more frequently. I’m a huge fan of the Stowe Bag for active projects — if I end up with more WIPs than bags, I can always make more. There is literally a Stowe on the project rack that has pieces of other Stowes-in-progress inside.

I’ll pick the project that speaks to me and head to my little rolling sewing box if I’m working around the house, or grab the right travel bag if I’m headed out the door. It’s a system that works surprisingly well, and I’m grateful for the freedom to have most days start with thought and a decision about what I’ll spend time with.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

I inherited a beautiful blue spinning wheel that has been in my husband’s family for generations. I spin on a modern wheel, but think about restoration.

I have a small gold thimble from my husband’s grandmother. There’s a scissor case that looks like a pizza slice that I made on a whim that I’m bizarrely attached to and take everywhere. My husband is a geologist and my pattern weights are all rocks he’s brought home over the years.

I have a standing mirror that was the mirror my mother-in-law shared with her sisters in their room growing up. The table that holds my sewing machine and serger is an old oak desk built for two people to use facing each other. The drawers open in either direction, which I adore, and it’s full of weird little corners and drawers that I fill with patterns and notes and books and tools.

Do you lend your tools?

About two years ago, a woman at an improvisational quilting class who was much better at improvisational quilting than I was gave me a 12 x 12 ruler because she had a spare and I didn’t have one yet. It felt like a validation of the skill I was trying to learn, and support of the work I had left to do. I will lend anything and give most things if you need them; I believe in our community and the support we can give each other.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

What is your favorite place to knit/sew/spin/dye/whatever?

I work away from home and I have young children who don’t nap anymore, so nights are my creative time. And I’ll get up much earlier on weekends that I ever do during the week, and have the sun come up while I’m cutting out pattern pieces if I’m feeling ambitious, or sit on the couch with sleepy pets and knit and think about the day. It’s a meditation, a beginning and end of the day I always recognize.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

What effect do the seasons have on you?

I’m consistent in my inconsistency; seasons tend not to change my approach.

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

I knit everywhere, I sew everywhere, but I only feel like spinning if it’s 75 degrees and breezy and I can sit outside, listen to music and have a glass of wine. It happens maybe four times a year and it is transcendent.

I take a project with me everywhere; it’s like a comfort object. The one day I leave the house convinced that bringing a WIP is silly will be the day I get a seat on the train and that train will break down and spend 45 minutes stuck in a tunnel. If you happen to meet me in the supermarket, know there’s at minimum a sock-in-progress somewhere on my person.

What are you working on right now?

I have a crocheted afghan that lives in a basket on top of a cabinet. Knitting feels the best to me, but I’ll crochet a square every few weeks just for the feel of something different in my hands. There’s a Furrow Cowl by Jared Flood that’s been my project of choice for a few weeks and is nearing the finish line, knit off a treasured cone of Sally Fox’s naturally colored cotton.

My most ambitious undertaking is an English paper pieced quilt called Patchwork of the Crosses, designed by Lucy Boston. It’s my first hand-sewn quilt, my first English paper pieced project. Weaving, crochet and spinning are enjoyable, but I’ve never found them captivating the way I do knitting and sewing — and I think I assumed I had found the two types of making I’d love most. But I folded the two first little fabric scraps around paper templates and stitched the edges together and I knew immediately that I’d do this forever. It’s such a surprise and a gift, to find another thing to fall in love with.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Karen Templer

Photos © Beth Thais

Q for You: Are you a sweater knitter?

Q for You: Are you a sweater knitter?

I know I’ve asked you all before what you knit the most of, but I have a very specific subset of that Q for You at the moment, which is: Are you a sweater knitter? [ETA: Pullovers and cardigans are both sweaters.]

Here’s why I ask. I haven’t made a scientific study of it or anything, but I would swear that in the course of the 5 years I’ve been paying attention, pattern collections and indie magazines and such have gone from being half or mostly accessories, with a few sweaters thrown in, to often being sweater collections with a couple of accessories thrown in, if even that. (And socks are definitely more scarce than they once were.) It has me wondering whether that’s the bias of the people putting them together, or whether there’s evidence that people are really that much more interested in sweater patterns than anything else these days. I know there are new sweater knitters joining the ranks every single day, but I would still assume there are far more accessory knitters than sweater knitters roaming the earth. So how to explain the shift in the collections? If I’m right about that. And I really believe I am! Or maybe it’s a pendulum swinging back where I wasn’t around for its previous swing the other direction?

So this is not just a Q but a PLEA to the thousands of you reading this post, will you take two seconds to leave a comment either saying Yes (I am a sweater knitter) or No (I’m not a sweater knitter)? If you have the time and the will, I’d love to hear more — if no, do you want to be; if yes, is it all you knit. Sometimes, always, never. Whatever you want to tell me! But please, I’m dying to know—

Hi, my name is Karen, and I am a sweater knitter.


Oh, and for aspiring sweater knitters, see: Pullovers for first-timers (an introduction to sweater construction) and Cardigans for first-timers


PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What’s in your Field Bag?

Q for You: What’s in your Field Bag?

Q for You: What's in your Field Bag?

I got into a funny conversation the other day with some friends, talking about how deceptive the Fringe Field Bag is. It doesn’t look like a very big bag, but then it holds so much more than you think it will. I’m constantly amazed at the things I see people pull out of them in real life, and am always ogling everyone’s on the #fringefieldbag feed, of course. But these replies from my friends cracked me up:

“I actually have a Field Bag in my car with a fully knit Arranmore sleeve, full skein of Arranmore, 6 feet of tinsel garland, full size fabric scissors and a banana in it.”

“I have an entire boxy sweater in mine right now. That sweater circumference is 60″!!”

“Mine has a sleeve, 3 skeins of yarn, magazine clippings, old sock yarn, half a hat plus the yarn for said hat, a highlighter, a bunch of pouches and my hat I was wearing before I got hot.”

An update out of the blue a few days later:

“9 [knitted] Christmas ornaments, 8 partial skeins of Canopy Fingering, 1 banana, 1 clementine, 1 size US1 DPN.”

I don’t like a really stuffed bag (of any kind), so I tend to keep less in mine than most people, I think — but I have for sure had a banana in my Field Bag at one point or another. Right now I have two hat WIPs and their yarn in one, and a cowl WIP plus two wound DK skeins in another. So that’s my slightly self-serving (market research!) but hopefully entertaining Q for You this week: What’s in your Field Bag? (With apologies to those who don’t have one. Yet!)

SHOP NEWS: Speaking of the Field Bag, we have all five colors back in stock this morning, Porter Bins for everyone, and the Bento Bags have been restocked as well (or will be any minute). The leather wrist ruler is back! We’ve got the Double Basketweave Cowl kit in indigo again (as well as undyed) and the Wabi Mitts kit in all eight colors at the same time! If you’ve been on the (now closed) wait list for the Lykke needles and didn’t hear from me yesterday, you’ll be hearing from me today. For everyone not on the list: if there are any left once the wait listers have their shot at them, I will announce it on Instagram @fringesupplyco tomorrow morning. But we’ve also got more coming next week, and will continue to carry them!

I hope you’ve all had a very merry week, and have an ever merrier weekend—


PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: Are you a wardrobe planner?

Photos from the #fringefieldbag feed, clockwise from top left: @caitstop, @naturally_nora_crochet, @andrearknits, @bohochicfiberco (the November prize winner), @soveryshannon, @xtinawithwolves

Our Tools, Ourselves: Karen Templer (that’s me!)

Our Tools, Ourselves: Karen Templer

Today is the 5th anniversary of my first post on this little ol’ blog of mine, originally known as Yarnover.me. I’m not sure I’ve ever really introduced myself properly (although there was the “welcome” post when I changed the name to Fringe Association a year later), but since I get regular requests to feature myself in Our Tools, Ourselves, I thought today might be a good day to do it. In many ways, I’m a completely different person than I was when I set up the blog and made that first post. At that moment I was working as a web producer in San Francisco — I had a good job I was miserable in, had recently lost my garden and had no real creative outlet, and then I learned to knit. Five years later, this blog and Fringe Supply Co. are my full-time jobs. My husband and I now live in Nashville TN, where we are blessed to be able to own our home, and one of my oldest and best friends, DG, works with me at Fringe, which occupies a big studio space in a crumbling old building in the rapidly “gentrifying” Germantown neighborhood. It’s impossible for me to interview myself about my tools and organizational systems without it looking like one giant Fringe Supply Co. promo, but really it’s the opposite. Fringe is a reflection of my life. The things I sell in the shop are there because I either love and rely on them and want to make them available to you, or I designed them to fill a want or need of mine, and get to share that with you, too. So here’s how it all plays out in my world—

In case there’s anyone not already following along, I’m @karentempler and @fringesupplyco (and @slowfashionoctober) on Instagram, and karentempler and fringeassoc on Pinterest.

Before I get started, whether you’re brand-new here or have been reading the whole time, thank you for being here!

Oh, and! if you’ve asked someone to get you a Porter Bin as a gift, make sure they know they have two chances today: 9am and 12pm CST. (Along with another surprise ;)


. . .

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

I’ve at least dabbled in all of the above except for spinning, but knitting and sewing are where it’s at for me. While I’m fascinated by spinning and weaving, I’m happy to support the amazing yarn-makers and weavers in the world and spend my own time turning the fruits of their labor into clothes.

I crocheted and sewed as a kid — hadn’t crocheted since, and sewed only very sporadically over the years — but didn’t learn to knit until the Fall of 2011. Obviously that had a huge impact on me, since it’s now the thing my universe revolves around. When I began knitting garments for myself, it brought me back to sewing and into the Slow Fashion movement, and really changed everything about how I approach my wardrobe. (See Why I make my clothes for more on that.)

Our Tools, Ourselves: Karen Templer

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

I’m a purist and a minimalist, in all aspects of life — I like natural materials, things that are the color nature made them, and not very much of anything. I try to keep it clean and spare and utilitarian, so that’s also what I look for in my knitting tools and accessories — and how Fringe Supply Co. came to be.

I only knit on circulars and DPNs — don’t own straight needles. When I was first knitting, I didn’t want to buy an interchangeable set because I was sure my preferences would evolve beyond bamboo and I didn’t want to commit to any one set, so instead I spent a small fortune buying new circs in every size and length every time I started a new project. Then I fell in love with Dreamz, asked for interchangeables for Christmas one year and wound up with two sets, and have been building up my parts and DPNs collection. But given what I said above about natural and undyed and all, you can imagine how I feel about the color-coding. :/ Now that I’ve found Lykke, I’m switching over! They’re the needles I’ve always longed for and I’m thrilled.

Other than needles, my tool kit is pretty basic: stitch markers, scissors, tapestry needles, a ruler and tape measure (wish I could find one I truly love that isn’t a cheap plastic giveaway sort of thing), pencil, eraser and Knitters Graph Paper Journal. Basically one of everything from my Tools collection! Lol. I use a DPN for a cable needle (if anything) and annotate my work (if needed) rather using a counter.

But I have to say, my very favorite “tool” is Fashionary templates. I’m literally addicted to the perforated sheets. Any time I pull them out and start sketching, I fall into a sort of trance of happiness, and they are all over my workroom — stuck to the wall, stacked on tables. In addition to enjoying the act of sketching and thinking through ideas, and paging through my drawings, they are the thing that has had the single greatest impact on my ability to envision and make things that are really smart and useful additions to my wardrobe. You can see how much I rely on them (and how I use them) if you look at my Wardrobe Planning series. I love them more than I can say.

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

All those individual circs and my DPNs are kept in a vintage 4-drawer metal file cabinet thing — like a card catalog, I guess — that I got at the flea market. Rarely touched these days. My interchangeables are in the case they came in, along with extra cords and stuff. I usually stick a pair of scissors in every project bag, and the other tools are next to my knitting seat, on little metal trays so it looks a little less random or messy. All of the needles plus my blocking supplies, a bin of not-in-use project bags and totes are all kept on the shelves under my worktable.

I don’t own very many sewing patterns, so they’re just stacked into an old soda crate on the shelf. Traced-and-cut pattern pieces are hung on S-hooks on a rod on the wall. And a Turkish tire-rubber bin holds rolled large-format patterns and tracing paper, oversized rulers, and so on.

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

I’m a fanatic about this, as you might guess. I mean, I’m an organizational freak to begin with, and I take project bags so seriously I built a business designing what I wanted, right? I’m very fortunate in our current home to have an extra bedroom I’ve made into my little workroom. There’s a desk that’s shared between my computer and sewing machine, a little Ikea worktable in the middle of the room, and a wall of Ikea Ivar shelving for storage, and that’s where my WIPs live. In the past, they were sort of floating around our loft with no good place to go, in a random array of bags. Which made me want to minimize the number of WIPs at any one time, but that’s also when I was the most profligate about casting on. So it all felt very out of control to me.

The shelves in my room now hold everything — books, patterns, WIPs, yarn and fabric — and they’re my portion control system. I’m not allowed to exceed the capacity of this wall — truly, if it doesn’t fit in there, I’ve gotten carried away. There’s one row of shelf that’s designated for WIPs; it fits four Porter Bins and two Field Bags, so I can have four sweaters (or sewing projects) and a couple/few smaller projects in progress, which is more than I actually care to have going at any one time. (There’s a Porter prototype at one end of the row, full of fabric scraps, that prevents me expanding the WIP container count any further!) But I LOVE this system. When it’s time to knit, I love going in and pulling a project off the shelf, and then I love replacing it on the shelf when I’m done. It’s so tidy! (This is how big a nerd I am.) And it really does keep my cast-on-itis in check. In reality, or ideally, I have one or two sweaters in progress in the Porters and the other two are just holding yarn for whatever’s next.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Karen Templer

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

The things that are my own creation are obviously special — the Field Bags, the Porters, the leather stitch marker pouch. My pouch feels like an old friend at this point. It’s darkened with age and use, but I’ve also spilled wine on it, etc., so it has a lot of character. I also have a couple of little bowls that were made by friends: two ceramic ones from my studio neighbor Morgan at Handmade Studio TN, one of which holds back-up stitch markers (I get itchy if I don’t have a lot of stitch markers around the house) and the other of which holds my sewing pins; and a little wooden one by my friend James of Handy Dandy Productions that also holds stitch markers and sits in the metal trays next to my knitting seat. He made us some of those for the shop this holiday, which made me really happy. Hopefully he’ll do it again sometime!

Yarn-wise, I have a number of treasures. Small-batch yarns made by good friends or that I’ve found on my travels — like the Sawkill I bought from an awesome farm couple on my first trip to Rhinebeck. Having special yarns like that makes me think really hard about what to do with them that will both honor their characteristics and take up long-term residence in my closet. Likewise, the fabric my friend Allison made for me, which I have yet to come up with the exact right project for! I take a long time to decide what to do with my treasures, and that feels entirely appropriate to me.

Other than that, my cousin recently sent me my eldest aunt’s dress form from when she was much younger. We are not a family with a lot of heirlooms — I have two things in my house that come from my family, and this is the third. It’s teensy (maybe size 4?) and in a little bit of disrepair. So I plan to treat it more as a decorative object than one for use, but I am really touched and happy to have it. (By the way, I get asked a lot about my dress form — the one pictured here. It’s just something I got by searching “collapsible dress form” at Amazon.)

Do you lend your tools?

I never really have occasion to! I do have that little cabinet full of all those old bamboo circs that I would be more than happy to lend out or give away! If you’re local and in need, hit me up.

What is your favorite place to knit/sew/spin/dye?

I knit either curled up in the corner of my couch or in one of the hanging chairs on my screened porch, weather permitting. And there’s nowhere on earth I’d rather be than knitting in the hanging chair on my porch. But I also love knitting on my brother-in-law’s boat. When we visit them in Florida, we go out deep-sea fishing and I don’t really fish. But I love being out on the ocean, no civilization anywhere in sight, camped out on top of the cooler box under the bridge (in the shade) with my knitting, watching and cheering.

And I sew in my little sewing room, although that’s what I dislike a little about sewing — it makes me feel a bit trapped. Although obviously there are worse places to be trapped!

Our Tools, Ourselves: Karen Templer

What effect do the seasons have on you?

When we lived in Berkeley … well, there really are no seasons there (it’s just always chilly), and I could never understand why people with seasons didn’t knit year-round anyway. Don’t people in hot places have air conditioning? Don’t you still want something to do with your hands while watching a movie with your spouse or whatever? But now that we live in the South, I kind of get it. I still knit in the summer but there’s no urgency about it so I get a lot less done. And there are times, even with a/c, where the idea of touching wool is just unthinkable. Fortunately, it’s brief!

By contrast, I feel much more motivated to sew in the summer — both because it’s what I can do to make the clothes I need and want for the warm seasons and because the kinds of things I can sew (at my skill level, I mean) are more likely to be warm-weather clothes. Little tops and skirts and stuff. In the cool seasons, I’d way rather be curled up working on a sweater.

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

I guess my dark secret is sort of like Monica’s hall closet nobody wondered about until near the end of Friends. I’ve just told you all about my nice tidy wall of shelving and how everything is required to fit into that. But there is a big basket in my bedroom (like the size of a cooler) full of abandoned WIPs and ball ends and who knows what — stuff that predates my current system. I swear here publicly today, for all to see, that I will have it cleaned out before Spring. And I’ll have reclaimed about a dozen Bento Bags in the process!

My quirk is that I knit cross-legged or with my feet tucked under me, so I find it awkward to knit in public or a classroom or anywhere I have to sit in a chair with my feet on the floor.

What are you working on right now?

Right now all of my attention is on my Channel Cardigan. I’ve been on about that pattern for years now, and it has finally made it to the number one position in my queue. I just finished a small-gauge (for me) stockinette pullover and had major project fatigue by the end of it, despite absolutely LOVING that sweater. (OK, I still have the seaming and ends to do.) But Channel is reminding me just how much I love to knit.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Karen Templer

PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Ashley Yousling (Woolful)

Photos of me, tool tray and hanging chair by Kathy Cadigan

Q for You: Are you a wardrobe planner?

Q for You: Are you a wardrobe planner?

Back in April of 2013, I asked whether you guys plan your knitting and sewing projects, noting in the post that I found it impossible to stick to a plan. That was the phase (a year-and-a-half into my knitting life) when I was bouncing all around with a major case of cast-on-itis, making a lot of things that didn’t get worn. After this week’s Winter Wardrobe Planning posts, I find myself now at the extreme opposite end of that continuum — planning my projects by being mindful and purposeful about my entire wardrobe, how things fit together and what would be useful to make. Watching how the right projects are adding up to a functional wardrobe has been the best possible motivator for both making and sticking to a plan.

But this is pretty new territory for me — at least on the level it reached this week. I’ve always had that three-outfits rule when shopping (don’t buy anything you can’t make three good outfits out of with things you already own) and it took me a while to start applying it to my project choices. But other than that, the most “planning” I’ve ever really done was maybe one season every three years or so, I’d sit down, try to think up outfits, and make a list of them — which I would then forget to consult. Or I’d find that when I went to put those items on together, they didn’t actually add up to an outfit I liked — either the lengths and proportions didn’t work together or it just didn’t feel like me. So as weird as it might feel to spend a few hours for a few days thinking about my closet out here in the open for everyone to see, I also can’t believe I’ve never done it before. It really really works. Using Fashionary templates to make sketches, I get the lengths and proportions right — whether it’s deciding what length to knit a sweater or how an existing cardigan and shirt layer over each other. And taking those flat shots of all my clothes on hangers turns out to be a mind-bogglingly great use of a few minutes. Instead of the tedium of trying on everything I own, I can just push the pictures around on my screen and voilà! And with all of the resulting outfits printed out, I’ll have saved myself who knows how many cumulative hours of standing in the closet door staring blankly at the contents, unable to get dressed. So a few hours of extremely fun planning time will save me hours of wasted time and agony. No wonder people dedicate whole websites to this stuff — it’s genius.

Several of you have semi-answered this in comments throughout the week, but it’s my Q for You today: Do you plan your wardrobe? To what extent, and what’s your process? And how does project planning factor into that? If you’ve got tips, please share them! And what are your favorite resources and websites on the subject?

Fringe Supply Co — Nice things for knitters

IN SHOP NEWS we’ve got two highly coveted items going up in the webshop at 9am CENTRAL time today: another small weekly batch of the Porter Bin and the second and final batch of my friend Handy Dandy’s beautiful little handmade poplar stitch marker bowls.

Also back in stock (available right now!)—
– The larger of the silver and brass safety pins, plus a new style in two sizes
– The undyed Double Basketweave Cowl Kit (an excellent gift, either in kit or cowl form!)
– All the beautiful Japanese needles in their little vials — tapestry, sewing, sashiko and hand-quilting varieties
– AND the latest issue of Taproot magazine has arrived!

Have an amazing weekend, everyone — thank you for all the great conversation this week!


PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What’s your favorite edge treatments

Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3

Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3

So this is the funnest game ever. I’m calling it Closet Rummy, and I could play all day! Pushing the images of these 25 garments around on my screen yesterday, I quickly put together 29 outfits — and could easily have kept going. And that’s without the two sweaters in progress, which will have exponential impact. So it turns out I was right the first time — I’m in pretty good shape, and apparently my struggle to get dressed in the morning has been simply a lack of attention or imagination, not any grave deficiencies. Also: this whole conscious and deliberate planning thing works!

There is one small problem here (apart from the very real but non-earth-shattering pullover dearth) which is the jeans shortage. Even if I could, in theory, get by on just these three pairs of pants, it’s not realistic to think I can wear the natural jeans to the studio as often as that would require. But if I mend the less dire pair of faded friends and pick up a new pair, I’m golden. And in the nice-to-have category, I’d like a dressier top that can be worn with either of the menswear-ish vests without the combo looking too mannish.

But meanwhile, after all of this, I feel good about my ability to get dressed! I’m seriously just going to print all of this out, tape it to the inside of my closet door, and check ’em off for the next two months! No further thinking required.

For the specific details and links for all of the individual garments pictured here, see yesterday’s Closet Inventory.

Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3
Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3
Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3
Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3

Fashionary panels are the best thing ever.
– Please pardon the WIP shot of the black cardigan — it is finished.
– I’m feeling the lack of camel in all this, missing my beloved old camel cable cardigan, more eager than ever to add my camel Channel to this mix.


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