Knit the Look: Marthe Wiggers’ vintage-chic pullover

Knit the Look: Marthe Wiggers' vintage-chic pullover

I love how simultaneously retro and au courant Dutch model Marthe Wiggers looks in this slinky, ribbed, black mock-neck sweater and motorcycle jacket. Such simplicity with that sweater, and as usual what makes it noteworthy are the tiny little details — the proportion of the peaks and valleys of that ribbing, and the shift in scale from the sweater to the neck. Which is easy enough to emulate. Vintage patterns would be the best bet on this one, but there are some available options to work from. There’s a reasonably similar Rowan pattern from a few years ago, Fiori (just add ribbing) but it’s worsted weight, whereas Marthe’s sweater seems to be a fine-gauge machine knit. So I’m going to recommend Pierrot’s characteristically rudimentary, English-translated Japanese pattern called 22-23-20 Ribbed Turtleneck Sweater (free pattern), which is written for fingering weight. (As with pretty much all Japanese patterns, it’s one size, so add to the stitch count as/where necessary to adjust the width.) To make it look more like Marthe’s, try the rib in 2×1 or even 3×1, switching to 1×1 on smaller needles for the collar. And instead of knitting the neck to full turtleneck length, stop at about 3”. Yarn-wise, for that gorgeous heathered black I’m a big fan of Quince and Co’s Sabine colorway, which is available in fingering-weight Finch.

For more photos and Marthe’s full outfit, see Vanessa’s original blog post. And for guidance on how to read a Japanese knitting pattern, click here.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Camille Charriere’s stripes

Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Changing the Channel

Changing the Channel

Life is funny sometimes. Or closets? Maybe closets are funny sometimes. Not ten days ago, I was a person with a trusty charcoal shawl-collar cardigan nearly always by her side, and another (lighter, woolier) shawl-collar cardigan in progress. Then in the space of a few days, I went from two shawl collars to none — and somehow all of this is ultimately a happy tale.

My parents came to visit toward the end of the week before last. My mom wanted to see the sweaters I’d finished since she’d last been here, so we got into my little closet. As I was pulling things out, I was reminded that I’ve wanted to have her try on my Bellows. She’d had it on pretty much exactly two years ago, right after I finished it, and I’ve never gotten over how perfect it was on her — like I’d made it just for her. Some part of my brain is always wanting her to put it on again so I could confirm that, and then I would know that the Bellows dimensions were perfect should I ever knit her a sweater. I didn’t say any of this to her — only that I wanted to see it on her again — and sure enough, it slipped onto her just like Cinderella’s slipper. She started beaming, turning back and forth in front of the mirror, and joke asking “How much …?” and I had a hard time folding it up and putting it away.

That evening, we went our for dinner on the screened porch at our favorite restaurant and I loaned her the sweater, knowing it would be more comfortable to eat in than her jacket. Again that happiness on her face. As we were sitting there eating, I knew I couldn’t take it back from her — it was hers. As much as I minded that it was not brand-new or made specifically with her in mind, she apparently couldn’t have cared less. The next morning when she put it on to leave, my heart melted again — I was sad to see it go of course (my companion!), but so happy it was going with her and that she was so happy.

And then it hit me: What on earth am I going to wear now?!

But there was still my Channel in my near future, right? No worries. Once they were gone, I blocked the Channel pieces I had finished a few days earlier, and left them to dry over that weekend. For me, seaming is a daylight (and thus weekend) task, so I knew I’d have to let the pieces lay there on my table untouched through last week, and I dutifully set about swatching for the bands and collar (by which I mean starting one, measuring, starting over … with three different needles). By Tuesday evening, impatient to see how it would come together, I clipped the pieces to my shirt, and I knew almost instantaneously that it was a good thing I hadn’t gotten any farther with the bands. This would no longer be a shawl collar.

The sweater I’ve had in my sketches and my head all this time has been based on the photos and the sample I tried on three years ago, when I first decided to knit it. It hit me mid-hip, the sleeves were a tiny bit short, and the V of the neckline hit just below my bust. I made a mental note that the only thing I’d tinker with was the sleeve length and that I would move the top button placement up a bit — I like a shawl collar to be high and snug. As I started knitting, I made the decision to stick to the pattern dimensions so as not to require any tweaks to the length or shaping of the collar itself, since it’s a bit of a job. So rather than scrutinizing the schematic, as I usually do, I just followed the pattern as written. When it said to knit the body to 17″, I thought that seemed longer than the one I’d tried on, but longer wouldn’t be bad, so ok. What I failed to notice in my non-scrutiny is the depth of the V. So what I have on my worktable is gorgeous and useful … just a different sweater than the one I thought I was making. This sweater has a very deep V that hits right at my belly button, and the hemline falls below my crotch. In other words, it looks exactly like my modified-Vidje sketch, only with a different surface texture:

Changing the Channel

For me, these proportions call for a plain button band, not an elongated shawl collar, which feels like a disservice to Jared’s stunning pattern, but also the right thing to do for my garment. So all of a sudden, instead of filling the (now larger than anticipated) shawl-collar gap in my closet, this one is filling the gap Vidje was going to be meant for! And now that there are no shawl collars in my closet, the landscape of my queue is taking a completely different shape. Suddenly I have all kinds of options and considerations I had ruled out, some exciting rethinking to do, and a gorgeous-albeit-unintended sweater almost finished.

• Channel Cardigan pattern by Jared Flood in Clever Camel

.

PREVIOUSLY: All Channel posts

Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Hi, happy Friday! Before we get into this installment of Elsewhere, I want to profess my love for all of the comments you left on Monday’s post about Folkwear. So many lovely stories and memories, then the cherry on top was THIS. The whole thing gave me heartmelt, and I want to again wish Folkwear’s new owner, Molly, so much luck in reviving this legendary brand. Ok—

Knitting Pretty — I’ll be watching this short vintage film ce weekend (photo top left)

– Are you playing along with MDK March Mayhem?

– If you haven’t been following Kristine Vejar’s textile adventures in Bali and Java, go look while it’s still at the top of her feed! (bottom right)

Felt as “fossilised fabric” (and can I go to that retreat, please?)

Is that a “hank,” a “skein,” a “ball” … ? (bottom left)

– I love this Seamwork profile of Asiatica, one of my hometown’s most distinctive businesses

– Where do you stand on Missoni’s pussyhats? Here’s Michele Wang’s take

Alabama Chanin has some upcycling to do (top right)

Heaven is layers of sweaters

– And this gorgeous woman and her crocheted scarf on The Sartorialist

I’m excited about this weekend — I blocked the pieces of my Channel last weekend and get to stitch them together. It’s been clear for a few days that this sweater is taking a little change in direction, though, and I’ll have more to say about that next week!

I hope you have an awesome weekend. As always, I’d love to hear what you’re working on …

SHOP NEWS: We’ve got a new batch of the Lykke straight needles sets (along with the individual sizes) and Knitters Graph Paper Journals, and all of the mini scissors (except the owls) are back in stock. Along with so many other gems at Fringe Supply Co.!

.

PREVIOUSLY : Elsewhere

 

 

Slow Fashion Citizen: India Flint

Slow Fashion Citizen: India Flint

BY KATRINA RODABAUGH | It is such an honor to bring you today’s interview with India Flint, aka @prophet_of_bloom. India is an Australian-based natural dyer, fiber artist, visual artist, costumer, teacher and author, best known for creating the “ecoprint” dye technique. Her natural-dye methods lead to eco-friendly, plant-based, biodegradable and locally foraged color for cloth and yarn, allowing the maker or designer to reduce the toxic impact of synthetic dyes while also gaining traditional skills and connecting with the land through foraging, gardening, or even using food scraps like onion skins or carrot tops before they head to the compost.

I first came across India’s work when I started my fashion fast in 2013 — her books Second Skin and Eco Colour were instrumental in my natural dye experiments. Second Skin is also a great book for considering how to thoughtfully care for our clothes, including some thoughts on mending, repairing, enlivening and ultimately honoring our wardrobe. When I started focusing on using quality secondhand fibers like denim, linen, silk and wool in my wardrobe, natural dyeing and mending became instrumental ways of repairing, rejuvenating and otherwise adding meaning or connection to clothing I purchased secondhand.

But more than her natural dye recipes or techniques was the visceral impact of India’ work and her ethos — this hard to describe, palpable modification of the cloth and wool as if to receive not only the imprint of the dye object but also the imprint of her passion for the environment. There’s a confidence and complexity to her work that I find to be the mark of a lifelong process — the journey to the core of one’s individual aesthetic that can only really be defined as self-recognition and confidence. It’s as if the journey of experimentation and surrender to the process is as much about gaining intimacy with her materials and with the immediate environment as the resulting finished object.

Technically her work might best fall into categories of fiber art and natural dye, but her dye method results in printmaking and surface design while her work with choreographers, galleries, and publishers pushes it further into an interdisciplinary practice that defies genre. I categorize India as a leader in the Slow Fashion movement as much for her dedication to natural fibers and natural dyes—more specifically local Australian wool and native eucalyptus — as for her ongoing experimentation with eco-friendly processes, slow fashion community-building through teaching and writing, and her attempts at harmoniously living with her environment. I love the term “regenerative design” in sustainable fashion and I see India’s work as regenerative and rejuvenating—to the actual cloth but also to the approach of adding color to our fiber.

India regularly travels to teach workshops around the world. If she’s coming to a workshop near you please attend one for me.

. . .

Your book Second Skin is something of a revelation for me. I think it really embodies the ethos of the contemporary Slow Fashion movement — the way you gracefully move between origins of fiber, caring for our clothing, and sharing your own intimate connection with your wardrobe through natural dyes. Do you consider this work part of the Slow Fashion movement? It seems so intuitive to you, but how would you encourage readers to make this connection in their own wardrobes?

It’s the way I was raised, really, and just makes sense to me. I develop warm relationships with my clothes (no pun intended) and like to have them last as long as possible. So I wash gently, air and mend as required. Sometimes I re-dye. I don’t follow fashion trends and couldn’t give a hoot what people might think of the way I dress. My family practiced slow gardening and slow cooking well before such terms were used. As a child I stitched tablecloths while my mother knitted our sweaters. I’ve always chosen to wear natural fibres (synthetic ones itch, I find) and I’d rather wear things that are naturally dyed than have my skin come in contact with synthetic dyes.

Tell us about your journey to natural dyes. I know you’ve done extensive research on eucalyptus — the variations between species and the resulting variations in natural dyes — and that you’ve collaborated with choreographers and shown work in various visual arts contexts, but I’d love to know how natural dyes became the center of your work.

Not only did I grow up in a family of dedicated gardeners, I also spent many hours with my maternal grandmother, a thrifty woman who from time to time refreshed faded garments in naturally prepared dyebaths. As I was finding my path in my work I was for a time seduced by synthetic colour, but I returned to natural dyes when it became clear to me just how dangerous these products were. Research into various means of ‘natural dyeing’ led me to the conclusion that the traditional metal salt mordants used in natural dye work should also be avoided, and so I began to investigate less toxic means of coaxing colour into cloth.

Slow Fashion Citizen: India Flint

You’re the founder of the ecoprint dye method — using steam dyeing and bundle dyeing to wrap the leaf or plant material inside the fabric and gain the actual print of the leaf on the finished dyed cloth. I’ve tried my hand at this method a number of times and I’ve yet to yield results anywhere near as distinct as yours. Can you talk about your work with this particular method? How you were interested in conserving water? And how you developed this method as something of a form of printmaking or surface design on the fabric?

For most of my life I have lived in places where water was a precious commodity that we actively harvested from the environment. Traditional dyemaking with eucalypts (as explored by Jean Carman in her book of the same title) uses large quantities of water and leaves. When I first discovered the ecoprint I thought it a useful technique that would allow dyers to easily assess individual eucalypt species for their colour potential, as the print showed what the dye outcome would be if pure water were used to make the substrate. It did not take me long to realise that quite beautiful patterns could be made by combining different species of eucalypt. And then venturing into other genera, I found that the eucalyptus frequently had a contribution to make as a co-mordant.

The simple trick to making distinct prints on both cloth and paper is to remember that the key word is “contact.” Tight bundling to ensure contact is the answer.

Your books and your Instagram feed have this connection to the land — this interweaving of land, art, plant and fiber that feels holistic and profound. How do you communicate your connection to the natural world in your work? Or is it just so inherent for you at this point that you just continue that dialogue in your images?

It’s simply such a deep part of my makeup as a human being that I cannot imagine working in any other way. My love of the land feeds my work, and the work itself (in whatever form) becomes in turn an ode to the whirled/world.

Your books are gorgeous. I use them often in my studio and in my workshops. I love Eco Colour for the way you explore mordants and dye techniques from so many angles. You don’t just offer one-step solutions but various techniques. Do you still experiment with multiple techniques in your own dye work? Or have you found what works for you and you stick with it?

I am always playing and experimenting. In recent years this play has led to new book folds, new patterns for garments and to the discovery of more techniques for dyeing (many of which have not yet been published yet). I’m particularly pleased with one of my mordant ideas for cellulose fibres, shared with a couple of workshops so far but yet to go into a book. And I’m working on making naturally derived paints (for paper). Of course when I am dyeing cloth that needs to be resilient I stick with eucalyptus, but it doesn’t mean I cannot play with other things.

Slow Fashion Citizen: India Flint

As I mentioned above, you work across arts platforms in collaboration with performing artists and choreographers, visual arts institutions, and you also work as an author and teacher. How do these various aspects of your work inform each other? I find that leading workshops actually strengthens my creative practice because students ask difficult questions or share their challenges and I have to respond to their needs. Do you find this to also be true? Is there a synergy between your work for stage, exhibition, books and the classroom?

Absolutely. I love creating exhibitions because installing them allows me to manipulate space as much as simply showing my work. I teach and write primarily because I need to earn a living. I’ve been a sole parent for over a quarter of a century and though my children are all independent now, I still need to earn my living. There is no safety net. Travelling and teaching allows me to work with a broader spectrum of flora and to experience the influences of different water qualities as well as new environments. Making things that dancers are able to leap about in requires a different kind of thinking to making things that will hang on walls. I delight in taking up residencies from time to time, as they allow me to gain a deeper experience of place. And frankly, maintaining a diverse work practice offers the safety of not having all of one’s eggs in the same basket.

Who are three of the biggest influences or mentors on your creative work?

It’s hard to limit the answer to three. My late great-aunt, master bookbinder Ilse Schwerdtfeger continues to be a huge influence on my work. I think she would be quite proud of some of the folded books I have invented in recent years. American architect Roger Buckhout has been both friend and mentor to me since I was ten years old, and continues to be a light in the darkness. And lastly I must pay tribute to my late father, climate scientist, writer, musician, adventurer and consummate polymath Prof Emeritus Peter Schwerdtfeger who passed on to me an indefatigable curiosity about the whirled and a deep appreciation for nature.

Favorite dye tools or materials you can’t live without?

I have a couple of large cauldrons that have done sterling service over the years, and my favourite materials would have to be wool and eucalyptus. That’s a match made in Heaven.

Your work, your wardrobe, your surroundings and your photographs have this continuity and strength. When you post on Instagram your images are instantly recognizable. When do you feel like you hit your stride, so to speak, with this consistency in your work? Was there a surrender or “Ah-ha” moment when you felt aligned and had an added or increased momentum?

I cannot really put a finger on it. I decided to reject synthetic dyes completely in 1998 (the year I turned forty), was grateful for the development of digital photography because it allowed so much freedom compared to film (though I do miss those long nights in the darkroom) and will confess I love the magic of the iPhone as recording device. I think I am still learning, though, and I have a lot yet to learn — the vocabulary is growing and at the same time consolidating into a language that’s beginning to make sense to me.

Slow Fashion Citizen: India Flint

Advice for the novice natural dyer just starting out? In my experience you just have to begin and be willing to experiment but it can seem so intimidating at first. Any suggestions to quell the fears?

‘Do not be afraid.’ Play, it’s how I learned most of the things I know — at the same time, read. Inform yourself about the properties of the plants you choose to work with. When interesting results happen, consider all the elements that have played a role and try and repeat the process while they are fresh in your mind. Keep notes. And have fun.

. . .

Thank you SO much, India. It’s really a pleasure to share this space with you. Your work has been so instrumental in my own slow fashion journey and I applaud you for all your efforts to lead the rest of us towards a more meaningful relationship to our wardrobes and to our textile arts practice.

Katrina Rodabaugh is an author, artist and slow-fashion advocate. Visit her website www.katrinarodabaugh.com or follow her on Instagram at @katrinarodabaugh

.

PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion Citizens: Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran

Photos © India Flint, used with permission

Now available: Camellia Tank pattern!

Now available: Camellia Tank pattern!

I’m happy to report that the pattern I designed for Making Issue 2, the Camellia Tank, is now available as a standalone pattern! This sweater was inspired by Camellia Fiber Company‘s incredible superbulky black-and-white handspun (entirely undyed), and makes a great showcase for this yarn or other dramatic superbulky. It’s a simple sleeveless shell but with some very specific details to keep all of the edges as clean and tidy as possible, given the nature of the yarn. It looks great on its own, but if you choose a size with more ease it would also look fantastic layered over a button-down, turtleneck or shirtdress.

It’s a very quick knit as this gauge, and a great way to spend some time with a knockout yarn. And you can now download the pattern at Ravelry. (The yarn is available from Camellia, spun to order.)

My thanks again to Carrie Bostick Hoge for inviting me to contribute to her beautiful magazine!

Now available: Camellia Tank pattern!

Modeled photos © Carrie Bostick Hoge

New Favorites: Texture by the yard

New Favorites: Texture by the yard

Working on my Channel cardigan over the last several weeks has deepened my appreciation for textured fabric created through knits and purls rather than cables or lace stitches. There’s something so meditative and melodious about knitting those stitches and watching the fabric build, which has me craving more of that. And has sent me back to my favorites in search of scarf patterns that not only allow you to just sit there and create texture, stitch by stitch, but are the ultimate showcase for the finished yardage, as it were:

TOP: Binary by Michele Wang features large, alternating blocks of texture

BOTTOM LEFT: Facade by Shellie Anderson is almost certainly not just knits and purls — wrapped stitches, maybe? — but look at that beautiful texture-blocking and how a simple rectangle shows off the fabric

BOTTOM RIGHT: Broken Garter Scarf from Purl Soho employs one of the simplest of sequence knitting combinations to great effect (free pattern)

.

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Spring shawls

Rabbit Hole: Folkwear patterns

Rabbit Hole: Folkwear patterns

When I posted my Idea Log for an indigo kimono last month, reader Marta Sullivan recommended a pattern at Folkwear.com — #112 Japanese Field Clothing — which I promptly ordered for the pants! And then I spent the next several hours happily (painstakingly) clicking through the pages of their outdated website, before resorting to the PDF catalog for easier browsing. Founded in the mid-1970s, Folkwear is a purveyor of “patterns with timeless style” — vintage or cultural classics (ranging from a cheongsam to a Navajo blouse to Marilyn Monroe-wear) that have equal appeal to costumers, reenactors and those of us who think a good French Cheesemaker’s Smock never goes out of style. The range of patterns is amazing, and the closer I looked the more in love I fell, as I discovered that many of them include companion knit or crochet patterns. #240 Rosie the Riveter (above) contains instructions for a coordinating knitted cardigan and “a crocheted snood that keeps hair in place.” #137 Australian Drover’s Coat (one of my favorites!) has a textured turtleneck pattern to go with. #238 Le Smoking Jacket includes the perfect little knitted tank to wear under it. And check out the cardigan with poodle appliqué that accompanies the circle skirt in #256 At the Hop! And that’s just scraping the surface. The pattern I ordered didn’t happen to have a knit component, so I’m curious to see how bare-bones vintage-pattern-style they might be.

Oh, and each pattern comes with a little history lesson about the garment(s)!

A few days ago, a friend mentioned she’d found Folkwear on Instagram. The account was just created on January 3; a new owner was announced on Jan 12; and she launched a new website last week. The new site is much easier to navigate, and I’m happy to see the delightfully dated photos survived although the PDF catalog seems not to have. [UPDATE: Here it is!] Just make sure you have some time before you click through! It is a definite rabbit hole.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has any experience with these patterns — and thanks again to Marta for bringing it to my attention!