Our Tools, Ourselves: Izznit

Our Tools, Ourselves: Izznit

One of the first knitting friends I made through this blog and Twitter, back when knitters were mostly still found on Twitter, was the dynamo known as @izznit or Iz. You may know her on Instagram for her knitting, her wit, her ink, her plants or her adorable dogs; or you may recognize her from the Porter Bin photos. (Her blog is now dormant but not forgotten, and she’s still got best blog header ever.) And yet like always with this Our Tools, Ourselves q&a, I learned some new things about her! And hope you will too.

Thanks so much for doing this, Iz!

. . .

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

I’m mostly known as a knitter but I was a sewer first — my love for it is what led to my career in the garment industry (patternmaker turned designer). Once sewing became part of my job, it stopped being a hobby and knitting took over. I crochet on occasion but it’s limited to small projects like baby toys or dishcloths. I do know how to spin, even went so far as shearing my own fleece, but I don’t do it as often as I should. Weaving is on the to-learn list!

Our Tools, Ourselves: Izznit

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

I’m all about metal interchangeable needles for speed and convenience. I hated knitting at first because of the plastic Aero needles my mom taught me with — the yarn squeaked all the way across and required so much effort to move! I settled on bamboo because it was sold at all the big box stores but during the slouchy hat era, I struggled to find fixed circulars in the length I needed. That’s when I learned about magic loop and the versatility of an interchangeable needle set. I bought a nickel-plated set from Knit Picks and still use it eleven years later — no squeaks! The yarn glides! Now when I teach people to knit I let them know other materials are an option and to not get discouraged if their work isn’t moving easily.

I don’t crochet regularly so my hooks aren’t as curated, they’re just what my Mom passed down years ago. It’s a mix of materials and very incomplete.

I also have a stash of handmade bowls to hold my flat-bottomed, center-pull yarn cakes. I don’t have to worry about setting my yarn on an unclean surface and the added weight prevents the cake from flying when I need to pull.

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

I made my own pouch for my interchangeable needle set because I couldn’t find one that fit my needs (compact, not flappy, and no extra pockets or slots). Loose hooks and needles are in a variety of handmade cups and vases. I think it’s important to be able to see everything at a glance — if things are hidden they won’t be used.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Izznit

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

I have a WIP tray that I lug around the house with projects I work on the most. The ones I work on less go in their own Field Bag and on a shelf. That way if I ever have to bring my knitting somewhere I can grab and go.

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

A hand-turned nostepinne given to me by my university TA. She read I was using toilet paper rolls and spoons to wind, and sent me hers as she had no use for it. Eleven years later, it’s still my favorite thing to wind with. I’ve tried other nostepinnes but they aren’t as comfortable to hold. This was also my first knitting-related act of kindness that’s made me more comfortable with the idea of giving neglected tools away where I know they’ll be loved.

Do you lend your tools?

I don’t because my tool collection is so pared down and only comprised of things I use. I’ve given books and older tools when a friend shows interest, though!

Our Tools, Ourselves: Izznit

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

Most of my making is done at home in the evenings after work, but my favorite place to knit is anywhere on vacation. I love that the FO carries memories of the places it’s been, and it’s a pleasant reminder when worn.

What effect do the seasons have on you?

I don’t think there is any, really. I knit less frequently overall since my last tendonitis flare up. I don’t recall being a seasonal knitter before then either.

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

I’ll let the readers decide which category this falls under but I will never cut a knot. I will always undo it, even if it takes hours, because I’m scared of being short on a project. That includes joins where the yarn was split and I’d only be saving 2 inches. I also have a fear of my ends coming loose on an FO so I will weave far more than I have to. I used to weave tails up to 10 inches long until I frogged a project and realized the absurdity — now it’s down to 4 inches.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Izznit

What are you working on right now?

The Midsummer Rose Shawl has been my main focus, but I do have WIPs of varying difficulty around, for when my mood or location requires something less intense. My mom taught me to always finish a project before starting another but I couldn’t follow that for very long.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Jenny Gordy (Wiksten)

Making time for more

Fringe Association: Frequency and focus

The number one thing you guys tell me, especially when I get to meet you in person, is that your favorite thing about this blog is that it’s daily. (Every weekday, anyway.) You tell me you look for the email first thing in the morning, or you just call up the ol’ URL, and you read the day’s post with your coffee. And it melts my heart every time. So this is a decision I’ve taken a really long time to make because you’ve told me it matters, but: I am slowing down the pace.

I’ve seen this happen to so many people who have blogs and start businesses, and the businesses get busy, and they stop blogging. I don’t want to do that. Blogging feeds me — it’s the part of the day where I feel most like myself, and most like I’m so lucky to get to do what I’m doing. But the reality remains that I am spread way too thin. I’ve been working 60-70 hour weeks for as long as I can remember, and being stretched so thin has affected my ability to feel good about what I’m doing with the blog. (Not to mention my time to knit and sew.)

I used to have a rule of thumb for how many posts were about what I’m doing versus how many about other people — whether a Maker Crush or an interview or who’s putting out great patterns or developing a new yarn or hosting an interesting event or whatever. And the more stretched I am, the less time I have to look up and look around and dig in, which has resulted in there being less content here about other people, and that’s my favorite kind. 

I’ve tried to decide and declare this before and then I slide back into my 5-day habit, because that’s how habits work. But I’m holding myself to it this time. And I’m also thinking a lot about ways to make all of the amazing people and information buried in the archives more accessible, starting with the people. Starting with literally putting the word People in the top menu up there. Populating that means going back through the entire history of the blog and retagging the posts that are about someone other than me, and so far I’ve only done 2018, but right now you can click that and scroll and find everyone from Teresa who handspins Brusca in her home in Portugal to Daniel Day Lewis and his gansey, and the interview with gansey expert Dib Gillanders that followed. And so much else! 

I’ve also included all the Elsewheres in the People scroll, because those are inherently lists I’ve made about other people doing and making interesting things. (Note that I’ve only included New Favorites in cases where they are hooked on a single designer’s work.) So I’ll keep adding to it, and I hope you’ll explore it. And then there will be more!

It means a lot to me that you take time out of your day to come read what I’ve written, and I want to do right by you. So I’m going to try a 3-days-a-week approach and see how that goes, and I hope you understand this decision! I’m so grateful to you for reading. 

. . .

Pictured above are the most recent 12 people to have been individually highlighted on the blog in some way, so here are the shortcuts to those posts:

New Favorites: Yuko Shimizu sweaters
Meet Steekalong insta-panelist No. 1: Kristine Vejar
New Favorites: Sari’s cable hats
Steekalong q&a: Mary Jane on choosing yarn
New Favorites: Wearable superbulky (Tara-Lynn Morrison)
1-Q interview: Megan Elizabeth of Making Things
Slow Fashion October q&a: Gina Stovall
Maker Crush: Llane Alexis
New Favorites: Brandi’s neck sculptures
Slow Fashion October q&a: Katrina Rodabaugh
Slow Fashion October q&a: Martha McQuade
Maker Crush: Natalie of The Tiny Closet

Words matter

I have hurt, angered and disappointed a lot of people this week with my insensitive post about my upcoming trip to India and my handling of the response, and I am deeply sorry about it. I’ve spent the week listening hard, learning (in part about how much more I have to learn), and thinking about all of the things I can do — particularly here on the blog — to be more inclusive and supportive of people of color. I can’t take any of this week back, but I will work hard to do better going forward.

For those who didn’t see anything offensive in my post, I feel it’s important to spell it out for everyone to see and think about, and hopefully learn from:

First, it reads like I’m a tourist looking for an exotic location for my next selfie, which is inherently horrible — India is not a set or a backdrop for white people. It reads that way because I didn’t take the time to talk about why I’m going, which is to meet textile artisans and learn more about their craft. I’m coming to India from a place of respect for the relevance of textiles in the country’s liberation from British rule.

Second, and more egregiously, when I said that to my anxiety-ridden teenage self the offer of travel to India felt like an offer of travel to Mars, I gave the impression that I equate the people of India with aliens — literally alienizing people who aren’t like me. It doesn’t matter that that’s not how I intended it. By being careless with my words, I perpetuated the harmful notion that Indians (and POC in general) are “other,” or even to be feared. People who are the target of racism every day were rightly offended by it, as were others. And I am so sorry.

Third, I compounded the Mars problem by bringing it up again (to say that my grown-up self might even consider space travel if I got the chance) by referencing an interview I had heard about the impending “colonization” of Mars. I brought up colonization in a piece about a country marred by colonialism and didn’t see it. Everyone who was shocked at that was right to be, and I’m shocked at myself.

That’s not comprehensive, but it’s the main thrust of it. It took women of color pointing this out for me to see it — starting with the annotation that @thecolormustard posted in her Story — which is not their responsibility, and I am thankful to them for taking the time. If you’re struggling to understand the response, please just sit with it and give it some serious thought, from their point of view.

I apologize profusely to everyone I hurt, and to everyone who has taken any kind of heat for calling me out on it. I was wrong, and the women who took the risk to speak out were right. I’ll be doing the work, sharing the resources*, and doing my part to raise the visibility and celebrate the actual beautiful diversity of this community.

.

*Currently reading: The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison (recommended by @nappyknitter). If you haven’t read Morrison’s novels, get on that too.

.

2018 Yarn count

2018 Yarn count

While doing my usual year-end review posts, it occurred to me one thing I’ve never done is tallied up my yarn usage. I have a tendency to find a yarn I really like and knit with it several times, while yarns I’m longing to try — my yarns-in-waiting, plus — sit and wait. So knitting around more has been on my mind, and knitting so many accessories last year gave me a chance to change things up more than I maybe have in the past. I wanted to take stock to see what, if anything, I could glean from it. Here’s how it breaks down:

Log Cabin Mitts 
Original: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, stash+purchased, used before
Grey: Hole & Sons, stash, used before (no longer available)
B/W: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, stash, used before
Toffee: OUR Yarn DK, via Fringe Supply Co. stock, new to me (no longer available)
Black/blue: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, stash, used before + Harrisville Color Lab, stash, used before
Verb kit: AVFKW Range, purchased, new to me (no longer available)
Indigo: AVFKW Pioneer, purchased, used before

Lancet Hat: Brooklyn Tweed Quarry, purchased, new to me
1898 Hat: Woolfolk Får, purchased, new to me
Første Hat: Woolfolk Får, purchased, used twice in a row
ScandinAndean Hat: Sincere Sheep Cormo Worsted, purchased, new to me (with leftover Far)
Cascara Mitts: (half samples) Tolt Snoqualmie Valley, pattern yarn support from Tolt, new to me
Unblogged Hat: Retrosaria Rosa Pomar Beiroa, purchased, new to me
Hozkwoz Hat: Since Sheep Covet + Kelbourne Woolens Scout, both purchased, new to me
Grete Dickey: OUR Yarn Chunky, via Fringe Supply Co. stock, new to me
Bellows Cardigan: Harrisville Color Lab, purchased, new to me
Sweatshirt Vest: O-Wool Balance, stash, used before + Shibui Pebble, stash/leftover gift from Shibui, used before
Aran-gansey: O-Wool Balance, purchased, used before
Plum Anna Vest: Kelbourne Woolens Germantown, pattern yarn support from Kelbourne, new to me
Bob’s Vest: Plucky Knitter Yakpaca, purchased, new to me

WIPs
Black cowl-dickey: Woolfolk Luft, purchased+gift from Woolfolk
Carbeth Cardigan: OUR Yarn Chunky, via Fringe Supply Co. stock, used before + Shibui Pebble, stash/leftover gift from Shibui, used before

. . . . .

19 FOs + 1 Partial/sample +  2 WIPs
Total number of unique yarns used: 18 (all small/independent businesses)
Yarns used more than once: 4 (Shelter, Far, OUR Chunky, Pebble)
New to me13!
Purchased for projects16
From stash8
Gift/yarn support3

I had no idea I knitted with a whopping 13 new-to-me yarns last year.

My ongoing objectives are to find ways to use some of the wool in my stash such that it will work for my climate, and to branch out into non-wools, which means almost certainly new to me. For those not from stash, I want to be more deliberate about seeking out yarns with recycled content and from companies with non-white owners.

[Edited to add: I believe all of the yarn companies listed here have white owners, except for the Snoqualmie Valley. Anna, who owns Tolt, is of mixed heritage.]

.

PREVIOUSLY in Year End: Top posts and highlights of 2018

Wardrobe Planning: Palm Springs packing list

Wardrobe Planning: Palm Springs packing list

I’m actually in sunny Palm Springs today celebrating my birthday with my nearest and dearest. Rather than double-blogging all last week in the midst of holiday retail mayhem (thank you!), I gave myself the gift of … not doing that! Meaning the blog will be silent for a few days. I hope you’ll miss me and will meet me back here when I return — which will be Friday, with another q&a with Mary Jane, answering your prelimary steeking question(s) with regard to the Steekalong.

Technically I’m writing this before I leave and packing based on the forecast, so I should say I hope it’s sunny. It was originally looking like exactly the kind of slightly cool weather I’m ill-equipped for, but the forecast has steadily warmed over the past few days, meaning sleevelessness during the warmest part of the days and light layers for morning and evening — plus sandals! Heaven. I’m taking 12 garments for just a few days because I have no idea what we might get into, so I’ve covered everything from a walk in the desert to a semi-fancy dinner and everything in between. Plus these clothes will take up less than half my carry-on. My favorite thing about warm weather travel!

In addition to two of my recent Everlane purchases — the black sweatshirt (which I’ve been wearing nonstop) and sleeveless silk top — there’s a new garment here. Two Saturdays ago, I popped into Elizabeth Suzann’s sample sale and came away with the tee I’d been coveting from their Alabama Chanin collaboration: the Louise Funnel Neck in AC’s organic plum cotton. It’s a beauty! Probably a size too big (there was no Medium for me to try on), but sample-sale beggars can’t be choosers and I love it even if it is a bit on the roomy side. (For the rest of the garment details, check my closet inventory.)

And after traveling to San Francisco and Seattle with my Town Bag under wraps in recent months, this time I don’t have to hide it. Although, the two of us may never actually never leave the pretty little patio …

Have a nice midweek — and I’ll see you Friday!

.

PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Winter ’18 outfits

Q for You: ARE you a holiday gift knitter?

Q for You: ARE you a holiday gift knitter?

I always feel like a bit of an oddball this time of year when everyone’s talking about their holiday gift knitting — and I’m blogging about what patterns you might choose — while I’m just not really a gift knitter. In my defense, we’re not a gifty family. Even in years when we’re together for Hannukah or Christmas (we have contingencies that are variously observant of both) we either don’t do gifts or we draw names and only have one person to find something for. And Bob and I established a tradition long ago of either buying something we both want/need for our home or taking a little trip or … nothing.

But even if we were a fervent gift-giving clan, I don’t think I’d be gift knitting. The pressure! I do sometimes knit for other people — like the hats I knitted my sister’s whole family for spring break, or the vest currently on my needles for my husband, above — but we’ve talked before about the fact that I’m what’s known as a “selfish knitter,” and I don’t apologize for it. For one thing, I’m attempting to make most of my own clothes, so my rate of production has mattered. For another, what motivates me to knit is wanting to possess the finished thing. Knitting something for someone without knowing if they even want it is hugely demotivating for me. And the minute I tell someone I’ll knit whatever for them, I no longer want to do it; once it becomes an obligation, the thrill is gone. I’ve happily and successfully knitted things for others, or given things away after the fact; and I’ve knitted things for other people that are languishing in a drawer somewhere. So I know both the joys and the disappointments. But it’s mostly just not what knitting is about, for me. I’m reluctant to use the buzzword “self-care,” but knitting is a thing I do for myself, on all the levels. I’ve had this idea for years that I could start a tradition of knitting one thing each year, one recipient, and cycle through my loved ones. Maybe I’ll try to think of Bob’s vest as the first of those! (To be clear, I have no regrets or complaints about this vest: I can’t wait to see it on him.)

As always, I ask these questions because I love nothing more than how different we all are, and love hearing all the differing perspectives and experiences. So that’s my Q for You today: Are you a gift knitter? And if so, what are you knitting?

Cheers and happy Friday, everyone!

.

PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What sells you on a pattern?

Winter ’18 wardrobe: Outfits!

Winter ’18 wardrobe: Outfits!

For this winter round of Closet Rummy™, I wanted to see if I could come up with 30 combinations I’ve never precisely put together before — always exploring just how endlessly recombinable things can be — and for my own ease of use, this time I organized them by weather. So they sort of go from outfits for really cold weather (with a light sweatshirt/sweater or other long-sleeve top layered under a cardigan, for instance) to moderately cold to not terribly cold, like those times it will be 78 degrees on a random December day. There are definitely some new ideas here — as well as several new or new-to-me garments — but seeing this has me feeling good about my shortlist of things I want to make, and what those will do to change things up a bit! For details on any of the garments pictured, see the closet inventory (not all of which got used here).

Winter ’18 wardrobe: Outfits!

Winter ’18 wardrobe: Outfits!

PREVIOUSLY in Winter 2018 Wardrobe: Winter closet inventory