Prada’s hippie-Cowichan funhouse sweaters

Prada's hippie-Cowichan funhouse sweaters

There was this thing on the Prada Fall 2016 runway last spring that I quickly clicked right past, aghast at the … well, at the whole thing, let’s be honest. I didn’t linger nearly long enough to notice or wonder about the knitted fabric that made up the body of that cardigan. Then last week a reader sent me an email containing the image at the top of this post — from Prada’s current ad campaign — asking if I could shed any light on it. A few days later, a friend texted the Eddie Redmayne becardiganned version below it. Both images had the opposite effect on me: I could not take my eyes off them. The fabric is fascinating, but the vest! It’s like some kind of hippie patchwork version of my fitted Cowichan-ish vest, one of my all-time favorite garments. The colors in the Prada vest are too Bob Newhart Show for me (although I like it against the pink!), but the palette of Eddie’s cardigan is mesmerizing — like The Plucky Knitter was involved.

But what IS IT, you’re wondering? So was I! For a diagnosis, I turned to my friend Kate, who sees it as a variation on the short-row scallops you see in something like Olga’s Aranami shawl, with intarsia for the color changes, and a single-row stripe worked as a purl stitch running along the upper row of each scalloped ridgeline. No big deal!

I’ve never knitted anything in the scallops category and never done intarsia, but I’m sufficiently fascinated with that vest that I might have to give something like it a try someday. (Thank you, Ece!)

Prada's hippie-Cowichan funhouse sweaters

PREVIOUSLY in Fall 2016: Best of the Best: Dries’ epic sweater

New Favorites: Griffin by Bristol Ivy

New Favorites: Griffin by Bristol Ivy

It’s the little things, truly. This new Griffin Sweater by Bristol Ivy is easy for me to like. It’s gansey-inspired, shawl-collared, and — being a Bristol pattern — a little construction puzzle to be solved. I like a good puzzle. The main motif here is the paired diagonals forming chevrons up the center front and back (and each sleeve) that then swirl up into the collar, and the detail that really gets me is how those diagonals meet at the back of the neck. I love it as a design element, but go read the construction notes and think about it: You’ve got these assorted parts that start at the side/hem/cuffs and make their way upward … getting joined together, taking shape, decreasing into the yoke as you approach the neck, and then at the very end, BOOM! Bullseye.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: This stitch pattern

Someday vs. Right Away: A spot of colorwork

Someday vs. Right Away: A spot of colorwork

We’ve talked about how eager I am to knit this sweater, St. Brendan by Courtney Kelley. It’ll be a while before I get to, and I’m also aware I’m in jeopardy of having done no colorwork at all in 2016 at the rate I’m going, which makes me sad! So my eyes lit up the other day when I saw Courtney had posted a free pattern for a hat version (“a swatch”) of it. If I had a minute to do that, would I rather knit the hat and have the fun of finishing something, or put those stitches toward my first sleeve? And if it’s some quick and striking colorwork I’m after, I’ve still never gotten over Kathy’s hat-sized rendition of Jón.

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PREVIOUSLY in Someday vs. Right Away: Cables, please!

Top 10 ways to improve your knitting life this holiday season ;)

Top 10 ways to improve your knitting life this holiday season ;)

I’m not sure how it got to be November 18th already, but I’m pretty thrilled because I get to tell you about the gems I’ve pulled together for Fringe Supply Co. this holiday season, with more than a little help from my talented friends. As usual, I’ve added only a few new items to the mix, and they’re things I love with all my heart — from the big and exciting to the tiny and endearing …

Top 10 ways to improve your knitting life this holiday season

PORTER BIN — If you’re on the shop mailing list or follow @fringesupplyco on Instagram, you’ve had advance notice about this indispensable new project bag I’ve been working on all year, the Porter Bin. After several rounds of prototypes (that have traveled all over with me — from Nashville to both coasts and even the Bahamas; in cars, planes and boats) my co-conspirator Alyssa Minadeo and I arrived at what I believe is the perfect large vessel for knitting — equally useful lined up on craft-room shelves or sitting next to your favorite knitting spot or road-tripping around the country. I’ve had each of my sweater WIPs in one for months, and love it so much I dedicated an entire lookbook to it! There is a batch of Porters in the shop this morning (while they last!), and I hope to replenish them weekly from now through the holiday season. You are going to love this bag. (Share yours with hashtag #fringeporterbin)

Top 10 ways to improve your knitting life this holiday season: Lykke "Driftwood" needles

LYKKE DRIFTWOOD NEEDLES — For four years, I’ve been looking for needles I loved enough to put them in the shop, and it finally happened! These Lykke “Driftwood” needles are everything I love about the needles I’ve been using, but so much more! Made of birch with a greyish finish, they’re hard, smooth, perfectly pointed and insanely beautiful, and the sizes are etched into the black metal end caps. Right now they’re available only in sets — interchangeables and straights (so beautiful they make me want to knit on straights) — which are contained in grey waxed denim cases. The interchangeables have flexible black cords and smooth joins. And they’re very well priced, too, given that a set includes 12 pairs of needles, ranging from US4 to US17! Are you drooling as much as I am? Oh how I love these.

Top 10 ways to improve your knitting life this holiday season: Bookhou double-zip pouch

BOOKHOU DOUBLE-ZIP POUCH — You all know how much I admire and love working with Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou, and for this season we came up with one perfect tool pouch — rectangular in shape, with a large main compartment and a second outer compartment for smaller items. And of course we made it in her Knit print you all love so much, with brass zippers set into natural twill tape. You’ll find it as covetable and useful as a clutch as it is for tools! All entirely handmade by Arounna.

Top 10 ways to improve your knitting life this holiday season: enamel pins and tiny wooden bowls

TINY TREASURES — Some of you may have guessed that I’ve been working on an emoji set for knitters for quite some time, waiting for the day it’s technologically possible. In the meantime one of those characters made its appearance on a tote bag, but now these three darlings are available as enamel pins! And then there are the tiny wooden bowls made by my friend James Worsham of Handy Dandy Productions. I’ve been using one of James’ little handmade bowls for stitch markers for a couple of years (sitting on a little tool tray by my chair), so I asked if he would make some for the shop this season, and I’m having a hard time not keeping them all for myself! We have plenty of enamel pins to go around (they’ll make great gifts for your knitting friends, too) but the bowls are limited edition!

Top 10 ways to improve your knitting life this holiday season ;)

BESTSELLERS — Of course, there are plenty of well-established favorites to choose from as well: the Field Bag, the leather wrist ruler, the Woollelujah! tote, the Bento Bags … and all the rest.

Top 10 ways to improve your knitting life this holiday season: Stowe Bag kit

SASHIKO STOWE KIT — And in case you missed the announcement last weekend, in honor of their sixth anniversary our friends at A Verb for Keeping Warm approached me about doing a special limited-edition patchwork Stowe Bag kit, incorporating Sally Fox’s organic cotton, some of the pieces shibori-dyed in Verb’s natural indigo vat, along with touches of sashiko — to be pieced together as your heart desires. We still have kits available, and either the kit or the finished bag would make an amazing gift! If you can stand to give it away …

As always, I hope you’ll love these goods as much as I do, and that they’ll make your life a little bit brighter, smoother, better organized, more beautiful.  Thank you so very much for supporting small businesses this holiday season — mine, those I work with, and others like us. It means more than I could ever say.

Happy heading-into-the-holidays, and have a wonderful weekend!

>> VIEW THE PORTER BIN LOOKBOOK and/or SHOP FRINGE SUPPLY CO.

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Photos (mostly) by Kathy Cadigan / Wreath and tree by Vintage Florals

Q for You: What’s your favorite edging?

Q for You: What's your favorite edging?

Edge treatments — cuffs, hems, neckbands, selvages — are one of the easiest things to tamper with as a knitter and also one of the most important details there is. And geez, so many options. You’ve got your ribbing. (1×1, 2×2 … twisted rib, garter rib, cartridge rib, corrugated ribbing …) You’ve got garter stitch and seed stitch. Folded hems. Stockinette roll. Slip-stitch selvage. And there are a million ways to get fancy with it. Any really good pattern designer will have put a lot of thought into what happens at each edge of knitted piece and how it relates to the rest of the fabric — getting the ribbing properly centered or lined up with other elements (e.g. raglans), or how a cable pattern transitions neatly into the edging — as well as what the yarn does or doesn’t want to do. But not all designers are that thoughtful, and edge treatments are ultimately up to you anyway!

I remember once hearing a knitting designer say he always uses 1×1 ribbing because it looks the most professional to him, most like ready-to-wear knits, but I find a lot of yarns don’t like it. My black cardigan, for example: The Linen Quill (held double) looked terrible in 1×1. That yarn wants to be stockinette, and when I switched from 1×1 to 3×2 — more knit surface than purls — it breathed a visible sigh of relief. But I don’t always love a picked-up button band worked in ribbing, and didn’t think the 3×2 here would be firm enough for that purpose, so that sweater got a garter stitch band for a little more firmness and contrast.

Generally speaking, I like 2×2 ribbing. I’m a simpleton — the less decorative the better — so when it’s up to me (or there’s no good reason not to depart from a pattern), that’s my default. And that’s my Q for You today: What’s your favorite edge treatment? 

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: Flat or in-the-round?

Pictured is my Top-Down Knitalong sweater in progress, in Shibui Pebble held double

Knit the Look: Jenny Gordy’s comfiest cardigan

Knit the Look: Jenny Gordy's comfiest cardigan

Switching sources for a minute — from our usual Knit the Look street-style scenes — let’s talk about this cardigan seen on Jenny Gordy (of Wiksten) in her Instagram feed on Saturday. The whole outfit is my idea of heaven right now (more on that subject soon) but the cardigan looks like you could just crawl into it and not come out till spring, which is exactly what I’m craving now that the weather has finally turned. Jenny tells me it’s a Toast cardigan from a few years ago, no longer available, but easy enough to simulate. I think it’s literally three rectangles — one back and two fronts — sewn together at the shoulders and side seams. Tubes for sleeves, plus several inches of ribbing around the neckline for a foldover shawl-collar sort of thing. So you could easily come up with your own dimensions and gauge and so on, but if you prefer a pattern, my friend Kathy just recently knitted Pam Allen’s Edith and that seems like a great starting point. The details and proportions are different, of course, so if you want to make it more like Jenny’s, go wider and a little shorter; work standard ribbing; knit the sleeves entirely in ribbing; knit the neckband twice as wide for the foldover; make the pockets larger and ribbed; and omit the decorative panel at the top of the back. Edith is written for Quince and Co wool-alpaca Owl (pictured in Buru); Kathy used Hinterland rambouillet-alpaca Range. I’m sure both are exquisite, but I think for me I’d go with 100% wool and keep it as light and lofty as possible.

TANGENTIAL AND COINCIDENTAL: The second issue of Making magazine has arrived at Fringe Supply Co. and contains patterns by both Jenny and me, and actually just an astonishing number of patterns and projects. You can take a peek and get your copy right here.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Deepest, blackest turtleneck

Photo © Jenny Gordy, used with permission

New Favorites: This stitch pattern

New Favorites: This stitch pattern

This is a really cute little shrug — Tillie by Pam Allen. (I think Pam Allen is the queen of shrugs.) But what I’m particularly in love with is the stitch pattern! I know I’ve also seen it just recently on a more bite-sized project — a hat or mittens? — but cannot find whatever it was. Does anyone know what I’m thinking of, or anything specific about this stitch pattern? My fingers are itching to knit it.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Exceptional shawl collars