Elsewhere + Shop Talk

Elsewhere + Shop Talk

First, a little bit of shop talk:

1) There’s a small batch of the Porter Bin in the shop right now (more next week), and you can also find it today in person at a few of our stores: Purl Soho, Fibre Space, The Yarnery, Tolt Yarn and Wool and (arriving soon) Fancy Tiger Crafts.

2) The Limited Edition hair-on-hide version of our stitch marker pouch is also in the shop this morning — while they last!

3) In case you missed it yesterday, Wish List!

And now, Elsewhere:

Lovely piece on the Verb blog about boro, sashiko and our Stowe Kit (available here)

A video not to be missed (thx, Anna!)

Craft as solace

This sweater

A history of knitting in 46 minutes

Now THAT’s a yarn bomb

Negative-waste fashion? (thanks to multiple tippers!)

– “In one year, this wall clock will make a two metre-long scarf …” (bottom right)

– Have you heard about the Pussyhat Project? (top right)

– I love the concept of the FibershedKAL (top left)

– and I also love MDK’s new Knitstrips feature — patterns in graphic novel form (bottom left)

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone — thank you for everything this week!



Elsewhere: The great swatch experiment

Elsewhere: The great swatch experiment

This week shook me up, friends — I’m having a whole lot of trouble wrapping my brain around what’s happening in this country right now. Under other circumstances, today I’d have a nice juicy pile of links for you, but my focus has been, uh, elsewhere. That said, though, I do have one bit of brilliance for you to explore. My friends over at Kelbourne Woolens have been doing something fascinating: The Great Swatch Experiment. It all started with a tweet, which led to a crazy idea:

What if we did an experiment? We could write up a quick “pattern” for a 4″ square stockinette stitch swatch, with a nice little garter border. Tell people what needle size to use, of course, but not tell them the gauge. We could send a skein of each of our yarns out to volunteer knitters to knit the swatches and mail them back to us. (They would keep the rest of the skein, of course). If we had three or four different swatches from three or four different knitters, all using the needle size we recommended, how different would the swatches be?

Which led to a whole lot of swatches (75 of them!) and a whoooole lot of number-crunching. Each yarn’s swatch instructions were based on a specific pattern — so the swatch dimensions could then be compared to the garment dimensions — and the results are dramatic. Take the Canopy Worsted example — and remember each knitter just cast on the designated number of stitches using the suggested needle size. If the knitter of the loosest swatch had cast on with the suggested needle and knitted and blocked the sweater, it would be 3.5″ too large. If the knitter of the tightest swatch did that, hers would be 8.5″ too small! Eight. And a half. Inches. But in addition to a lot of jaw-dropping case studies, the whole thing has afforded a chance to talk about all sorts of knitting and swatching issues and concerns. You can (and should!) check out the whole series on their blog. (Scroll to the bottom for the start.)

I hope we can all find some peace and understanding in the coming days. Please be kind to yourself and your neighbors this weekend and always—



Photos by Linette Kilenski/Kelbourne Woolens, used with permission

Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 3

Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 3

So I have some terrific links for you guys this week, but what I also would really like to do is hear from YOU! There’s been so much shared all over the web throughout Slow Fashion October — in comments on the posts here and on the @slowfashionoctober highlights at IG, on blogs all over, and of course the entirety of the #slowfashionoctober feed. What have been your favorite posts and moments and ideas so far? Please link to your favorites in the comments below!

– I’ve read this post three times it’s so good: “This is what I’ll carry with me when I wear my sweater in the wide world. Secret, humming power.” (photo above, left)

– Felicia Semple on trying to define Slow Fashion from the consumers’ point of view: “All we can do is our best; to be informed and make choices that make the most sense on any given day. We need to accept that often we will make those choices in uncertainty, but strive to take responsibility for them regardless.”

– “I want to talk about what I sometimes feel is the elephant in the room when it comes to Slow Fashion. Not the longevity of the garments but the longevity of Slow Fashion as a movement.”

– “Apparently I paid a lot for marketing

– “Every day I do just one thing before bed — press a seam, sew a block, mend. I make tiny progress and I end my day with what I love.”

– “To others it’s just a white shirt but to me it represents what can be achieved in small steps and finding focus in a chaotic season.”

– “A thing I know is that making for my favorite people is a way to take care of them.”

– “Sewing has given me a lot: a mental capacity for new skills … an appreciation of quality work … and a moral sense of responsibility for all people the world over who make clothes — because some of us do it in our homes for ourselves and some of us do it in unsafe factories for other people. Sewing taught me to care about that as more than just an idle worry.” (photo above, right)

– “Hoard your clothes, kids!!!

– “Even if you only make one garment in one year, that’s something. And even if you knit one scarf, that’s something too. No shame if you cannot make your entire wardrobe; you still have a place in slow fashion.”


Hey, if you’re in Middle Tennessee, I hope we’ll see you at Fiber in the ‘Boro tomorrow. And I hope you have a marvelous weekend no matter where you are!


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Walking a mile in self-made shoes


Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 2

Elsewhere: Slotober edition 2

We’ve still got the weekend to talk about the Long-Worn theme for Slow Fashion October this week, which is a good thing because I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface! Hopefully everyone saw the two related posts here this week — 21st-century thrifting and My week in the Craftlands — and both have loads of great comments on them at this point, so click back and take a look at those, as well as the contributions I’ve featured on @slowfashionoctober so far this week, and my post about how to wear worn clothes without looking shabby.

More highlights from the great discussion—

– So many amazing heirlooms and hand-me-downs have been shared on the #slowfashionoctober feed throughout the week. I want to mention that the aran sweater Jess’s grandmother knitted is from a 1967 Bernat pattern book called The Bernat Book of Irish Knits and has made two separate appearances on this blog – here (top right in the bottom photo grouping) and here (no. 5). It’s always amazing how many people say “I had that book” or “I had that sweater.” I have the sense it was the Boxy of its time! And it’s fun to imagine a single pattern being such a huge hit in a pre-Ravelry world.

– I’ve been falling down on the job with the My First Sweater series, so I especially loved Dianna’s blog post about hers, in the Long-Worn context.

– “It’s amazing to put on a piece of clothing that was made decades ago, worn by a woman I love and respect so much, and passed on to me.”

– “My involvement with slow fashion is organic to the way I’m trying to live my life – in a way that reflects my values and ethics and is mindful.  It is also a way to assert individuality in an increasingly homogenized world.” (Don’t miss @proper_tension on IG — I love her style!)

– “I’m not sure how precisely I define ‘slow fashion,’ but for me a big part of it is about being thoughtful — thinking through what I need, being willing to wait for it (either because of the time it takes to make it or the time it takes to save for it), and then committing to keep it for a long time.

– “Last night I started Kate Fletcher’s new book Craft of Use, and I’m excited, amazed, emboldened, and more. …” — omg I’ve lost track of who posted this! Please raise your hand if it was you!

– “However, don’t wash your clothes unless they need it.”


– “I often hang on to quality pieces that still fit me well once I get tired of them. More often than not, I’ve found the item gets resurrected after a break in the back of the closet and becomes an oft-worn favourite all over again. … I’ve been thankful so many times that I didn’t pitch great clothes in a fit of closet purging.”

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about and would love to discuss is the question of whether SMALL matters. This was actually one of my themes last year, and I’ve said already I feel a bit repentant for having suggested — as is so often done — that a closet clean-out is an important starting point. I’ve long felt that, especially with anything that was potentially sweatshop goods, the best way to honor that sewers work is to not banish it but to put it to use. The more I think about it, and the more I know about what happens to donated clothes, the more I see the capsule concept conflated with slow fashion (there are lots of people making fast-fashion capsule wardrobes — they may overlap, but they’re not the same thing), the more I wonder about this. There’s no question that simply buying less — participating less in the fast-fashion marketplace — is a good thing. But what about our obligation to those clothes we already own? What if — IDEALISTIC RHETORICAL SCENARIO ALERT — all you buy is small-batch, locally woven, organically-grown fiber clothes made by lovely people whose small business you’re supporting with your purchase? What if — EXTREME EXAMPLE TO PROVE A POINT —  you’re stylist-designer Rachel Zoe out buying up and preserving decades of significant vintage garments and preserving them in your immense closets, thereby honoring them and keeping them from the landfill. What I’m saying is buying less is critical, absolutely, and what we buy is critical, but a smaller wardrobe isn’t automatically a more virtuous one, is it? Who was it that made the great point on IG about having more clothes to choose from meant each garment got worn less often and lasted longer. Fair point? Discuss!


– Knitting for victory (thx, Kelbournes)

– If you loved Jane Richmond’s sweater from the Cowichan Knitalong last year, it’s now a pattern!

Thanks for all the incredible input this week, everyone — have a fantastic weekend!


The images up top coincide with links above or posts I’ve regrammed this week; click through for the originals — top lefttop rightmiddle leftmiddle rightbottom leftbottom right.


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: My week in the Craftlands

Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 1

Elsewhere: Slow Fashion October edition 1

Before we dive into this week’s links, I want to note that it was five years ago today, while we were visiting Nashville from Berkeley, that my friend Meg Strong cast on a hat, handed me the needles, and began to walk me through it, step by step. (A few mornings later, she and her mother, my friend Jo, taught me to purl — and then Jo did a little drill sergeant routine while we ate lunch that I credit for my never having had a problem with yarnovers in my work.) I could never have imagined the ways in which that small act could change my entire life, but here I am five years hence, spending my days — and nights! — engaged with this incredible community in so many ways. I recently wrote an essay for the BigCartel blog (that happened to post this week) about how your support of Fringe Supply Co. makes it possible for me to put food on my table, but that it’s the community that enriches my life. Corny maybe, but 100% true. I’ve never liked my life more than I do right now, and I owe it all to Meg and to Jo and to you. I can never say thank-you enough.

And also, before I forget once I dive in here, we’ve got two new pattern books in the shop this week: Within by Jane Richmond and Shannon Cook, and the first of the new Mason-Dixon Field Guides, Stripes, from Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner. And yes, we have Field Bags today!

. . . . .

SO! Slow Fashion October is off to an exceptional start. It pains me that there’s more conversation on the #slowfashionoctober feed than I can possibly keep up with, and also thrills me that you don’t really need me! You guys are knocking it out of the park, bringing up so many important points of discussion all over the spectrum. If you want  to get a sense of the remarks but can’t take it all in, I recommend these three tactics:

1) Read the comments on the Master Plan blog post, the kickoff post, and/or my blog post from Monday.

2) Check out my posts and the corresponding comments on the @slowfashionoctober account, where I’m highlighting a couple of things per day.

3) Read whatever is under Top Posts on the #slowfashionoctober feed at any given moment in time, along with the comments on those posts.


That’s already a lot to take in, so I’m keeping this to two SFO-ish links today, both relating to natural indigo, synthetic indigo and our jeans:

River Blue — a film about the destruction of rivers around the globe (and the people who depend on them) by the fashion industry, and specifically the blue-jeans industry. It’s not clear where/when we might be able to watch the full film, but the trailer is quite compelling (via @catherineruddell)

Tobacco farmers see green in indigo — a creative a effort to boost natural indigo farming, for the benefit of the farmers and our jeans  (thx, Bristol)

Plus an article that is simply one of the best pieces of writing I’ve come across in a long time, by novelist Michael Chabon:

My son, the prince of fashion

Thanks for being such amazing company this week, everyone — see you on the hashtag!

NOTE: The images above coincide with posts I’ve regrammed this week; click through for the originals — top left, top right, middle left, middle right, bottom left, bottom right.


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: My Slotober project for 2016

WIP of the Week No.2 // and Elsewhere

WIP of the Week // and Elsewhere

Before I announce this week’s WIP of the Week, I want to say something about prizes, because I think people have a tendency to put too much stock in them. Prizes are lovely, but PRIZES ARE NOT THE POINT. As I’ve said before, I feel like when you participate in a knitalong, the prize is your sweater! And never more so than this Top-Down Knitalong, where it’s a sweater you cooked up completely on your own — and for many of you participating, it’s also the first time you’ve done so. What you get out of the knitalong is a sweater, plus a lot of learning and experience and maybe even some new friendships. Priceless rewards. If you happen to be one of a few people who wins a prize along the way, that’s just icing on the cake, right? It’s the cake that really matters.

With that said, this week’s WIP of the Week is by Beth, who is @bethtais on Instagram and also beththais on Ravelry. I wrote an essay recently for an upcoming book about how we, as knitters and sewers, have the power to make treasures, and not just clothes. This sweater of Beth’s is such a beautiful example of that, so it really stood out to me in that regard. She’s knitting a little striped cardigan for her daughter, and really thinking of it as a part of an outfit and larger wardrobe of treasures.  The yarn is the last in her stash of a much-loved small-batch yarn, Flock, left over from knitting she’s done for herself. And likewise, the dress is sewn from fabric she dyed and made herself a dress out of, before using the rest for her daughter. It’s the sweetest little outfit (reminds me of Kathryn Davey) and I hope it gets worn and loved and saved and passed on to the next generation. And I just adore that touch of blue in the stripe sequence. So beautifully done in every regard.

So congratulations, Beth, you’ve won 7 skeins of Purl Soho’s Flax Down, in the color of your choosing! Please email me at contact@fringesupplyco.com to collect your prize! And big thanks again to my friends at Purl Soho for providing this week’s luscious prize. Next week’s prize is 10 skeins of the new Brooklyn Tweed Shelter Marls, so keep those photos and stories coming! Link your Ravelry project to the Improv pattern page if you’re using my tutorial (131 projects and counting!), and use the hashtag #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 wherever you post. I especially love it when you leave links in the comments to your blog posts, so everyone can see those.

Whether you’re participating or not, I really recommend clicking through the posts on Instagram — such an amazing range of knitters and sweaters and trials and errors and victories. It’s incredible. When you’re done reading through that, there’s Elsewhere:

Have you seen Brandi’s YouTube channel? Gorgeous

Have you heard about Ann’s Washalong idea? Genius

Tom’s sweater is a work of art

And Dianna’s queue is jaw-droppingly beautiful

Great tutorial on seaming perpendicular knits

LOVING this year’s Refashioners challenge


I might need to make this tank

And this hat

Happy weekend, lovely people! See you back here next week—


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: How to knit a compound raglan // PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere


Elsewhere : Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Hey, so there’s been a death in my family and I’m on my way to Houston today. Rather than spending the weekend scrambling to put together blog posts for the next few days, I spent it making sure everything is in order for the knitalong kickoff next Monday.  So blogging may be a bit spotty this week — but never fear, I’m leaving you with lots to peruse:

(Oh, and DG is at his post, so Fringe Supply Co. orders will be handled just as quickly as always!)


You may have noticed last week a little Top-Down Knitalong link list appeared over there in the right rail (if you’re on a full-size browser) and there’s a knitalong directory page with all of the pertinent info and links (browse it! bookmark it! pin it!), which I’ll add to as we go. I’ve also created a board for knitalong-related posts at Pinterest. and I am in the process of getting the full top-down tutorial updated, as promised. I’ve got a great summary overview of the top-down process in the works, which I think you’ll find very useful. For everyone in the planning stages, just a reminder that you need to take your stitch and row gauge measurements from a blocked swatch. (If you’re knitting your sweater in the round, knit your swatch in the round!) I’ve got 7 incredible prizes lined up for WIP of the Week, the first of which will be awarded a week from Friday, and the first week’s will actually draw on everything posted to the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 tag up to that point, so get your ideas out there! (More details on submitting and winning on the directory page.) See the Top-Down Ideas pinboard and the Instagram feed to get your juices flowing if they aren’t already!


Speaking of Pinterest, I’m still working (slowly but surely) on the project of re-pinning the entire blog archive by category, and wow is that a wow-er of a project. Without seeming to be flattering myself (since I can only take credit for a fraction of what makes it so good) there’s just an incredible amount of great stuff in these here archives, and seeing them all spread out before your very eyes on Pinterest is incredible. I’m up through the end of 2014 at the moment, and just look at all of this! Please do take some time to scroll through, click through on things you missed, re-pin the ones that make your heart sing, and so on.


Sweden is officially on my bucket list

– Which are you glued to: the Olympics or Norway’s National Knitting Evening?

3000-year-old ball of yarn (thx, Jess)

So happy guys like this exist; so sad they’re so rare

– What do the biggest swimwear companies have in common? Their origins in knitting wool