Q for You: What’s your time-worthy detail?

Q for You: What's your knitting time-worthy detail?

In this instant-gratification world of ours, being a knitter at all is an act of rebellion, in a sense — knitting something, stitch by stitch, that others would buy, discard and replace in the same amount of time. And yet even though we’re committed to spending that time, we often still want things to be as quick as possible, right? There are the steps and details we’ll happily avoid or skip altogether, where possible — from choosing seamless designs to leaving ends dangling inside a finished object. But there are also the little details we each feel are worth that extra bit of time they take to elevate our FOs. Things that might be technically unnecessary (like adding seams to a seamless garment) or could be done in some briefer fashion (e.g., a plain neckband versus a folded one), and things that simply look too good not to do.

For me, a no-brainer is the little bit of extra time it takes to do a tubular bind-off on top-down cuffs. (This is my Grace pullover in progress.) The difference in how much better it looks than a standard BO is worth it all by itself, but the additional stretchiness of that edge is just so much more pleasant to wear, and I’m aware of it with every push and pull of the cuff for the life of the sweater. (I like Purl Soho’s tutorial, if you’ve never done it.)

So that’s my Q for You today: What’s the little knitting detail you consider more than worthy of the time it takes?

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

IN SHOP NEWS: We’ve got the butterscotch Porter Bin back in stock at the moment! While they last …

(Stitch marker, yarn, Lykke interchangeable needles and DPNs, and tapestry needle all from Fringe Supply Co. lol)

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What’s your progress blocker

Standing with Ravelry

As someone who ran a large forum website for 9 years, I have an uncommon understanding of just how different that is from any other kind of job or business. A site like that is an organism, and I know what it is to try to set boundaries around it. So not only do I applaud Jess and Casey at Ravelry for taking a stand on what they are and aren’t willing to host, or be the conduit for, with their privately owned site and business, I hope it will embolden the owners of other social platforms to take a stronger stand on what they are willing to let people distribute through their sites.

White supremacy is on the rise in this country and elsewhere, indisputably, and it’s been emboldened and encouraged by the current occupant of the White House. It didn’t start with him and it won’t end when he leaves, but it’s out in the open now and there’s been nothing more important in my lifetime than to stand against it. So yeah, damn right I stand with Ravelry on this. 

(NOTE: This text originally appeared in my Instagram Story on June 24, 2019.)

Mini New England knitting adventure

Mini New England knitting adventure

I’m just back from a little unplanned adventure! As you may recall, I made the decision a couple of months ago to decline the Maker in Residence position at Squam Art Workshops and ask that it be offered to a maker of color instead — and was happy when Jewell of Our Maker Life accepted it. With Bob’s surgical near-future still in flux, I also had to back us out of vending at the Squam Art Fair. Which left me with no official role at Squam but still with a plane ticket to Boston and a significant need for the time off, not having taken any in six months. And while giving up the residency had been an easy decision to make, I regretted not getting to see Rosa Pomar while she was here (there) to teach — among other loved ones — and wanted to meet Jewell in person. So I decided to keep my flights.

Each time I’ve been to Squam — near Holderness NH — I’ve wished I had the time to wander into Maine, having never been there. It’s right there, but I never get to do it. So when my friend Mary Jane Mucklestone suggested I drive to Portland and crash on her couch, it sounded like the perfect chance. We looked at lighthouses, walked all over the place, ate lobster rolls, and of course, knitted. And then we drove over to Squam for the weekend. There are rooms in a big creaky old lodge building that are set aside for Taste of Squam (weekend-only attendees), and we shared one of them; spent time knitting on the dock and the porch and in front of the fire, and shopped the Art Fair before parting ways and heading home on Sunday.

It was great to see so many people, however briefly, and to say a quick hello-goodbye to those beloved woods — the sad part being that Jewell was unable to make it after all! Unforeseen circumstances forced her to cancel at the last minute. So I hope we’ll have another chance to meet sometime.

. . .

But what about the knitting! The night before I left, I knitted and blocked a swatch for the Grace sweater I’ve included in my Summer of Basics trio, which I’m not knitting at pattern gauge. While the plane filled in on Wednesday, I measured the swatch (3.75 sts/inch as compared to 2.75 in the pattern), did my math, and cast on in-flight. By the time I got home Sunday night, I was already about 3″ past the divide for the body and sleeves! I know it’s not about speed, but there’s no denying how satisfying it is to knit a sweater that moves that quickly. Imagine if I were actually knitting at the original superbulky gauge — I’d likely have only a sleeve to go. And that’s not even the only thing I knitted. I also finished the shawl collar on my smock vest and wove in the ends. Can’t wait to show it to you!

All in all, five days well spent.

(Yarn and Town Bag from Fringe Supply Co.)

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Me Made May: What the data shows

Me Made May bullet journal habit tracker spread

In case anyone ever wondered whether I’m more into selfies or data, it’s absolutely no contest. I only took one proper #ootd photo for the month, and despite my dread of selfies I had probably about a 60% success rate of snapping a quick mirror pic in the morning, as backup. But I was 100% successful at keeping up the tracker I set up in my mini bullet journal for the month, and it was really interesting to me to see how it developed. In case it’s interesting to you, here are the results:

— I wore something me-made on 21 of the 31 days.

— The percentages of me-made for each day’s outfit averaged out to 46%. Data-fan Julia rightly commented on my earlier post that there’s a logical flaw in this column, as 1 me-made in a 2-part outfit would be valued at 50% while 1 me-made in a 3-part outfit would only be valued at 33%. I was curious to calculate it anyway. And I also gave myself small percentages of credit for garments that were modified by me in some way, such as 5% for the pockets added to a pair of RTW pants. So the me-modifieds factor into this particular calculation.

Me Made May bullet journal habit tracker - #ootd outfits list

— There were a total of 69 garment instances in the daily outfit listing, not counting shoes, and they broke down as 31 Me-Made, 13 Hybrid, 25 Ready-to-Wear. This is a more accurate tally of what percentage is me-made, and that’s 45% MM / 20% H / 35% RTW. Pretty sure it’s a statistical coincidence that these two ways of calculating the MM percentage came in at 46% and 45%. But regardless, it’s mighty close to my original estimate of 50%.

Me Made May bullet journal habit tracker wear counts

— I wore a total of 27 unique garments during the month, 9 of which were me-made (mostly pants) and 4 of which I had some hand in: the army shirtjacket refashion, the State Smock I dyed, a tee I screenprinted and the black linen pants I added pockets to. That’s 13. The other 14 were purchased — so again, just under 50%. (Note that on weekend days where I only wore exercise clothes or all-day pajamas, I did list the pajamas in the outfit rundown, in parentheses, and indicated which were me-made, but I did not include any purely pj garments in the wear count.)

— Most worn garments were my jeans (which gave way by mid-month), my ivory canvas wide-leg pants (2018) and my black muscle tee (2016) — the latter two being my hardest working me-mades, so … no surprises there.

But what was really interesting was being conscious as I was getting dressed of what parts of my spring-into-summer clothes are homemade and … not. If I were to do this in winter, I’d have on a handknit sweater pretty much every day, so it’d be a question of whether the bottom half was also me-made or RTW. I still have a pronounced dearth of tops for this time of year, and what I do have is largely RTW, so if I wasn’t wearing me-made pants, I was likely not wearing any me-made at all. That tops issue is one I’m really working to address, and this strengthened my resolve to focus my sewing energy on that particular gap in my closet.

Me Made May bullet journal habit tracker

As always, I loved designing and maintaining this tracker, and I learned enough doing this little exercise that I think I will do it again in different seasons to see how the results compare!

(Notebook from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Me Made Bay: The bujo way

Q for You: What’s your progress blocker?

Q for You: What's your knitting progress blocker?

I’m pretty sure “stuck on sleeve island” is the most frequent lament among knitters (which you know I don’t understand!) but I suspect we have a wide array of idiosyncratic responses as far as what part of the knitting process stalls our progress or even robs us of mojo, in some cases. No doubt for a lot of knitters it’s seaming, and thus the need to seam is avoided altogether. That’s another one I don’t get — seaming is like performing a little magic trick, although it does tend to put a halt to progress in that I only do it during daylight hours. So unless I happen to finish something on a Thursday night, have it blocked and dried by Saturday morning, and have a corresponding chunk of free time that very weekend, there will almost always be a lull while something awaits seaming. But the real mojo thief for me is picking up stitches.

Picking up stitches is the other thing I only do in daylight, so there’s that, but I don’t actually dislike it. In fact, the neat-freak part of me takes pleasure in that nice tidy column of stitches running up along the needle, in marking off matching sections and making sure I’m picking up identical numbers of stitches for perfect symmetry. I honestly have no idea why I dread doing it, and yet it is almost always the source of a disruption in forward progress. This poor vest spent three weeks waiting for me to have the right spot of daylight to seam it, after which I forged right into picking up armhole stitches in hopes of avoiding a cessation, but I picked up too few in my haste, and now I wonder how long it will be before I pick it up again. And I really want this vest!

So that’s my primary progress blocker and my Q for You: What is yours?

(Needles, removable stitch markers and notebook from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What’s your favorite pattern source?

Me-Made May the Bujo way

Me-Made May bullet journal habit tracker

Hi, my name is Karen and I’m a data nerd. I love information design, bullet journaling and long walks on the beach at sunset.

But seriously, here’s how I’ve set up the aforementioned Me-Made May tracker in my mini bullet journal. In designing the layout, I wanted to track how often I wear me-mades, the average percentage I wear as a proportion of any outfit, plus literally what garments I wore and which category they fall into. I couldn’t bring myself to make it just me-made vs ready-to-wear, since some things literally fall in between — like second-hand jeans, an upcycled State Smock (especially if I dyed it), a refashion, a RTW tee I screenprinted, etc. So there’s MM (me-made), H (hybrid) and RTW along the right side of the tracker for breaking each outfit into its parts. And then along the right of the spread there’s the Wear Count. I can fit about 30 garments into the page, which should be more than enough. When I set that 20×30 challenge for myself a couple of Octobers ago, I wound up wearing not quite 20, I think. But instead of pre-picking them, or necessarily enforcing a limit, I want to allow for that to take shape somewhat naturally. Of course, there’s some serious Observer Effect at play here, since this will make me more self-conscious as I’m getting dressed about whether I’m wearing me-made and what and how often. But it’s more game than science experiment, so that’s cool.

Me-Made May bullet journal wear count tracker

If I keep it up, I’ll do the following and share the results —

TO BE TALLIED:
– the number of days I wore something me-made
– the average percentage of MM worn
– the total instances of MM | H | RTW items
– what garments I wore
– how many of those garments are me-made (denoted by a bullet in the list)

(Dot-grid memo book from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Me-Made May: My 2019 pledge (and more)

Me-Made May plans, NEW Town Bag! and more

NEW! Olive Town Bag + Helga Isager "Stitches" book

Somehow I decided to participate in Me-Made May for real this year — although, by that I do not mean taking 31 days of selfies! What I am going to do is track my wears for the month on a little chart I’m designing in my mini bullet journal. (I’ll show you that asap, and elaborate on it — I’ve had a lot of questions about how I’m doing it.) I will be posting the occasional outfit selfie on Instagram, and will do a wrap-up here at month’s end. I’ve been in a real dressing slump lately and am hoping this will get me re-engaged with my closet — loves and loathes, needs and wants, as we head into the hot zone. Will I run into you on #memademay2019? I’d love to hear your plans.

Speaking of things I’ve announced on Instagram lately, if you haven’t already, please read my Squam update!

IN SHOP NEWS: We’ve got the new Helga Isager book, Stitches, and wow is it gorgeous! So many stunning patterns in a beautiful hard-bound volume. BUT WAIT — we’ve also got a new Town Bag color launching at 9am CT! It’s quite possibly my favorite bag we’ve done so far, and I hope you’ll love it too! I’ll update the photos on this post once it’s been revealed [UPDATED: IT’S OLIVE!], but if you’re following @fringesupplyco, turn on post notifications or just pop onto Fringe Supply Co. at 9am! (Where you’ll also find the needles and notebooks pictured.)

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I hope you have a lovely, restful, restorative weekend. I’ll be seaming my vest so I can finally dig into the fun bits! How about you?

Photos by Kathy Cadigan for Fringe Supply Co