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.

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

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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.]

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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!

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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!

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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

 

Winter ’18 closet inventory

Winter ’18 closet inventory

I had this notion that I could get away with not doing a closet inventory for this winter (for myself or to share) — just to say “hey, I have a few new things; recently did a whole sweater inventory; will work off last year’s mostly unworn Deep Winter Outfits (not enough deep winter last year); and here are a few new outfit ideas.” But when I got up to my elbows in trying to do that (by which I mean, up to about 2000 words), I realized too much has changed. Between my Slotober-inspired closet cleanout, some new things I’ve made this year, some of last year’s key pieces being dyed or deaccessioned, my recent Everlane staples order (itemized below), and my not being the exact same person I was a year ago (or last week), it’s really a different ballgame. I needed to do the inventory to get my head around what I’m working with. So here it is! And I’m feeling pretty good about the resonance between this and my mood board. (All-new outfits tomorrow.)

TOPPERS

Toffee cable dickey
Plum Anna vest
Black Sloper sleeveless turtleneck
Navy mod-Clyde vest (Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Jacket 2017, refashioned)
Army shirtjacket (J.Crew 2014, refashioned)
– Denim shirtjacket (J.Crew c.2003)

TEES & TOPS

– White graphic sleeveless tee (Everlane 2018, printed by me)
Grey wool muscle tee
Black silk gauze shell
– Grey and black long-sleeve tees (Everlane, new)
– Black silk tie-neck blouse (Everlane, new)
Plaid top
– Black silk smock (Elizabeth Suzann 2017, made in Nashville, no longer available)
– Chambray work shirt (secondhand)
Chambray button-up

The new little black Everlane top doesn’t look like much on the hanger, but it is so pretty and versatile. I’m as excited to wear it with a cardigan and jeans as to a fancy holiday dinner out.

PULLOVERS

Grey wool knit pullover
Grey sweatshirt
– Black sweatshirt (Everlane, new)
– Blue cashmere pullover (Everlane, new)
Ivory aran-gansey
Striped raglan
Fisherman sweater
Grey cline sweater
Charcoal sorta swoncho
Black yoke sweater

I could have sewn the two long-sleeve tees above and the black sweatshirt here (I already have the Lark Tee and Linden Sweatshirt patterns in my possession) but am happy not to have had to. The blue sweater I could also theoretically have made, but it’s about a billion stitches and I would never knit such a thing. This may be the first sweater I’ve bought since learning to knit — certainly the only one in five years or more — and it does feel soulless, but it also feels easy and warm and comfortable and greatly needed, and I expect it to be with me for a good long time. Also worth noting: The sweatshirt and sweater are both thin enough to wear like t-shirts — under cardigans and jackets — during the coldest part of the year.

CARDIGANS

Vanilla cardigan
Camel cardigan
Purple cardigan
Black cardigan
Mushroom shawl-collar

PANTS & JEANS

Natural canvas wide-legs
– Clay wide-legs (Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Culotte, made in Nashville, sample sale 2017)
– Recycled denim wide-legs
– Denim wide-legs
– Natural denim jeans (Imogene+Willie, 2016, made in LA, no longer available)
– Threadbare jeans (Old Navy c. 2013)
– Cropped jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, 2016, made in LA, no longer available)
– Other dark denim jeans

SHOES

Not pictured, but basically all I’ll be wearing the next couple of months are my boots. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed — of if I’ve ever noted — but I rely heavily on tan footwear. I typically don’t wear any colors from the warm side of the color wheel; I only wear neutrals, blues, greens and bluer purples. (The red-purple Anna Vest is the warmest thing in my closet.) So my mostly unconscious way of balancing all the cool tones is to incorporate shades of tan and camel and caramel and such, often in the way of shoes. I have sandals and flats in lovely shades of tan (and last summer went so far as to buy those amazing orange sandals!) but somehow since moving to Nashville I have only bought black boots. As much as I miss the tan effect in winter, I haven’t found the dream pair, but I finally broke down and bought the Everlane Modern Chelsea Boots in cognac, just based on how much I love my black pair. They’re not actually in my hands yet, but I can’t imagine there being anything wrong with them when they arrive.

. . .

So this is 39 garments (26 of them handmade or modified!), but in reality there are maybe 20 that will be crucial and worn on repeat, and a few that will be worn only a couple of times, whether due to weather or favoritism. For instance, there are 8 pairs of pants here, but on any given day the real question is: Am I wearing my natural wide-legs or my Point Sur jeans. Maybe I’ll do a wear count this season.

(ICYMI: How to make a closet inventory)

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PREVIOUSLY in Winter 2018 Wardrobe: Queue Check November 2018

Winter Wardrobe problem solving

Winter Wardrobe problem solving

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking out loud here the past few weeks — have you noticed? — and think I’m very close to having a fully formed thought (lol) about how to solve the fundamental problem of my winter clothes being too warm, on the whole. Last week it felt like less of a problem: It was in the 30s and gloomy and rained like it might never stop. But this week we’re back in the 50s and 60s, the trouble zone for me. I’ve come to realize, though — in the midst of my closet cleanout — that it’s a classic case of missing connective tissue that’s fairly easily resolved. In addition to the sort of layering that the dickey has inspired, I’ve been thinking about what it means to have sweaters that are less hot, even if they are wool, which means finer gauge things, shapes that don’t hold in heat (such as the breezy Big Rubble I got from Meg), more abbreviated proportions (shorter, smaller, cropped, whatever), and — ta da — sleeveless! And we know I have plenty of sleeveless sweaters.

I wear those sleeveless things mostly when I can get away with being sleeveless, and what I’ve been missing to make them work in cooler weather is basically just long-sleeve tees, which I haven’t wanted to make — or had the time to. The other day it dawned on me there are these things called stores where you can buy clothes that are already made and ready to wear (seriously, it’s like I forgot!), so I went to Everlane and ordered a couple of skinny long-sleeve tees that will instantly change the equation considerably. But I’ve drawn up the sketches above to illustrate a few of the thoughts I’ve been having:

TOP LEFT: I made that wool knit muscle tee last year to wear under things and found it a tiny bit itchy for that purpose. I’ve since realized it’s fine with my linen sleeveless tee under it (which has become otherwise problematically thin), so it will work with cardigans and such as intended. But I also discovered it’s great over things — like the black jersey turtleneck in my closet that I never wear. It should be perfect with the long-sleeve tees en route, and an excellent opportunity to add a dickey!

TOP MIDDLE: Same goes for my two Anna Vests (black and plum), which somehow don’t feel quite like me over a button-down (although I love that on everyone else) but will be great over a long-sleeve tee. And then it’s easy to add a cardigan or shirt-jacket on top of that, weather permitting.

TOP RIGHT: Same goes for my Sloper — all it needs for extended life is the right tee! Although I do love Sloper over a button-down, and will wear it that way this year as well.

BOTTOM LEFT: This is the neck blankie situation I was postulating last week, along with a shrunken raglan sweatshirt or sweater. I have my grey sweatshirt and ordered two things from Everlane that also meet this definition, if I like them when they arrive. Otherwise (or maybe anyway) there’s another Linden sweatshirt in my future. I’m still debating the cowl but between this and yesterday’s mood board, I was inspired to pull out my eggplant State Street Cowl and take it for a spin.

BOTTOM MIDDLE: For a warmer version of the dickey situation, I was thinking about making something like a Top No. 2 in wool melton or somesuch, and realized I already have the wool knit sweatshirt thingy I made last year. I’d had that in my “maybe” pile from the cleanout and have just put it back in my closet! But still considering the other idea as well. I really like the idea of a couple of easy non-sweater pullover tops for layering with.

BOTTOM RIGHT: This is actually an outfit I wore in the cold snap last week that I want to remember: jeans, black muscle tee, dickey and cardigan. The dickey is so fantastic (obviously) under a cardigan or kimono jacket or shirt-jacket — a way to feel like I’m wearing much woolier, cozier clothes than I can actually get away with. More of that, for sure.

So those are some not-terribly-original thoughts that nevertheless lead me to a make list and some further outfit ideas, coming next week!

(Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.)

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