Someday vs Right Away: Bobbles

Someday vs Right Away: Bobble

It might seem like I blog about Trillium every week, but c’mon — it’s really only every other week. I do, however, think about this sweater pretty much every day. Unlike some of the others, this one isn’t a pie-eyed sort of maybe someday Someday; it’s a someday soon. You know, as soon as I finish the other half-knit sweaters I’ve got going. But one of the things I’m looking forward to is the bobbles! (I’ll really be looking forward to them once I’m working my way up through all that stockinette.) I find them strangely appealing, as decorative doodads go, and have never knitted one. But there are snack-sized opportunities to rectify that in the near term: Jenny Gordy’s Snöflinga hat takes a similar judicious-geometric approach to the bobbles, and I love Grace Anna Farrow’s subtle Bump Scarf kerchief. (And that yarn: swoon.) Unfortunately, Grace’s pattern is not available for individual download, but Mary Lawson’s Covert Operation could be easily modified to kerchief proportions.

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p.s. The great answers to my last Q for You keep on coming. If you haven’t read all the comments, don’t miss What’s your peak knitting experience. I love these stories!

p.p.s. Knitters Graph Paper Journal is back in stock!

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PREVIOUSLY in Someday vs Right Away: Nordic delights

The book that made me want to write about books again

Lena Corwin's Made by Hand

You may not know this about me, but in the aughts I ran a site called Readerville, where for nine years I covered books from every possible angle — from reviews to cover critiques to author discussions in the once-booming forum. I knew from having worked several years at Salon how many review copies of books are sent indiscriminately to the addresses of people who publish book reviews, but didn’t grasp what a … shall we say … mixed blessing it is to be on publicists’ mailing lists until the mountains of books began landing on my own doorstep. It took me years to get off some of those lists — not even an unannounced change of address could stop them! So as much as I’ve wanted books to be a part of the mix here at Fringe, I’ve been reluctant to risk finding myself back on those lists. But lately there have been a few books that are just too good not to write about, and first among them is Lena Corwin’s Made by Hand.

The story goes that Corwin, an illustrator and textile designer, used to host classes in her New York studio, with her various creative friends teaching their various creative skills. (Including Cal Patch — hi, Cal!) Reading about it makes one envious of everyone who got to teach and/or attend those classes. They ceased a few years ago, but luckily someone had the bright idea to recreate them in book form. So what lives between these covers is twenty-six projects, “taught” by the original slate of instructors, plus a few new ones. I say projects, but really each one is a lesson in a technique — from braiding a rug to tie-dyeing a pillowcase to coiling a bowl — that can be extrapolated and applied in as many ways as you can dream up. Some of them are what you would think of as large-scale undertakings shrunken down to kitchen-table scale, most notably a technique for using a rolling pin to simulate the action of giant rotary fabric-printing machines. And while there’s soap-making and beading and candle-making, nearly all of the projects are fiber-centric: printing and resist-dyeing fabrics; knitting and crocheting everything from socks to garlands to cat toys; weaving on improvised “looms”; sewing; embroidery; braiding; fabric origami; the list goes on. And the book manages to be extremely beautiful without failing to be useful: Every project is accompanied by copious step-by-step photos, diagrams and patterns, along with the materials lists and instructions.

Ever since I first stumbled across Jenny Gordy’s blog posts about her socks, I’ve been wishing she’d publish her pattern, and here it is! But there are so many wonderful, fundamental skills to be learned here, it’s hard to decide where to start.

Lena Corwin's Made by Hand

Shirt/dress and a scarf, my summer wardrobe fantasy

shirt, dress and scarf by carrie hoge and primoeza

The thing these days is, I need some new clothes. Badly. And for various reasons, I both want and need to sew them. I’m fantasizing about smock dresses and shirt dresses and smockish shirtdresses, particularly this one. Things that are as easy to wear as they are to make. To keep from freezing in a light dress and bare legs, though, I’d need a nice little bit of wool around my shoulders and some funky ankle boots on my feet. (Ideally with wool socks in there.) So I’ve had a sort of vague image rolling around in the back of my mind, until I ran across these two photos in close proximity on Sunday afternoon. Together, they’re exactly the vibe I’m after — a softer version of my all-denim wardrobe.

On the left is Carrie Bostick Hoge’s newly sewn tank dress, from Jenny Gordy’s Wiksten Tank pattern, paired with her Imogen cowl, which has been on my to-knit list since, well, a few minutes after I learned to knit. I’m still in love with my denim Wiksten Tank and have wanted to make others, and Carrie’s deep-blue dress version gets my synapses firing.

On the right is the shop image for Elizabeth Yong of Primoeza’s Colour Edge Scarf, which has the most wonderful subtle stitch pattern, along with the contrast edge, and which looks amazing with that perfectly rumpled, blue-striped linen shirt. Ugh, want! (If you haven’t seen the latest batch of Primoeza scarves, you have to go look. Really brilliant work.)

So Carrie and Elizabeth have jointly snapped me into focus. Now all I need is a new pattern or two, some fabric, some yarn and … oh yeah, time. Sweet, precious, impossible time.

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Of course, there’s also the notion of throwing a sweater around your neck, as demonstrated by A.L.C. in this week’s ICYMI: Next of the best of Resort 2013.

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Blog Crush: Wiksten

Jenny Gordy's socks
(Photo: Jenny Gordy, Wiksten)

Last year when Flipboard added in Google Reader functionality I suddenly had blogs as the main course in my daily media diet again. That combo is hands down, for me, the very best way to browse the web. I fell back in love with some old favorites (101 Cookbooks, Emma’s Designblogg …) and began adding new feeds at a pretty steady pace. But it spiked when I took up knitting a few months ago. One of the first things I did was to go looking for inspiring knitters around the web, and now I’m ever on the lookout for more. The other day at Design Sponge, the designer of Odette (gorgeous), whose home was being featured, made a point of mentioning that the scarf in one of the photos was knitted by her friend Jenny Gordy, of Wiksten. So you know I clicked that link.

There are lots of beautiful blogs from beautiful makers of beautiful things, and this is no exception. But I don’t remember the last one that drew me so far into the archives. Gordy’s a designer through and through — a dressmaker who is also an exquisite knitter and now ceramicist. (Three of my favorite things.) And she’s actually got me thinking about knitting socks, which I never thought would interest me — the photo above and this post were enough to convince me. (Almost enough? I do love double-points.) As I bounced around in the archives, I discovered that she recently moved from Brooklyn to the midwest, and I think she may actually have grown up in the middle as well. Having grown up in Kansas City, and having been in California for quite some time, I’m increasingly aware of the instant — albeit subconscious — vibe I get from midwesterners. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t tell you how often I’ve hit it off instantly with someone only to discover later that we’re both from flyover land. And that might be at play here. Anyway, reading her blog felt like encountering an old friend I simply hadn’t met yet, which I think is what all the best blogs feel like. And it’s just thoroughly inspiring to me.

I really loved highlighting great blogs at Readerville and think I’ll try to do the same here from time to time. So there’s one for you: Wiksten.

(I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments.)