Queue Check — September 2017

Queue Check — September 2017

Last month I declared that September would be finish-it month — an attempt to prevent myself from casting on anything new before doing my Fall wardrobe planning. Then I promptly cast on something new, the cardigan pictured up top (details here). I did make progress on the purple sweater (from the top-down tutorial) — just the last sleeve to knit, once the humidity goes away and I can stand to be near it. And I also finished the two tees that were awaiting their top-stitching, and ticked off a few other bits from the fix-it list. But I’ve still not lengthened the black cardigan, and I have abandoned the grey one altogether. It’s just too much apathy to bear.

So the vanilla cardigan (another Improv) is sailing right along. I’m about 7″ into the long slog of the body, another 9″ or so to go, and rather than setting it aside and finishing the sleeves first, like I often do, I’m eager to finish the whole body, the button band and possibly even the pockets before I knit the sleeves. I’ll tell you more about that down the road — still mulling the details. Happily, this spontaneous cast-on fits right into my fall/winter plans, so no regrets!

And then there’s that grey swatch up there, what? During the Summer of Basics I got a little obsessed with all the Cline sweaters everyone was making — especially this one (click to the second pic) and this one. I found out a couple of friends were casting on, and that Fancy Tiger and Drygoods Design are co-hosting a Junegrass knitalong, and I got sorely tempted. Cline is designed by my friend Julie Hoover, and it’s honestly not one that earned my affection when she first released it. It fits the model in the exact way clothes tend to hang, tent-like, on my scarecrow shoulders — the fit I spend my life in avoidance of. But then it was so cute on so many other people and I started wondering if there’s any way it might look ok on me. Through Julie’s kindness (and that of a stranger), I was able to try on a sample while I was in Denver to make jeans, and it’s surprisingly cute on me, although I’ll need to lengthen the sleeves and watch the neck width. So I came home and swatched for it with my Junegrass (batch 1; there’s now a batch 2), and I’m pretty sure that’ll be my next cast-on. (In which case I’ll be twinning with Jess!)

So much stockinette.

Happy weekend, everyone! If you require anything from Fringe Supply Co., we’re always here for you, and I’d love to hear what you’re working on!

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: Reader, I cast on

 

Fall ’17 wardrobe planning, part 2: Closet inventory

Fall closet inventory
Fall closet inventory

So I mentioned on my Fall Mood post yesterday that, having gotten my sartorial feet back under me, so to speak, I’ve been starting to have a little more fun getting dressed again. Yesterday I talked a bit about color seeping back into the mix, which you can see above, and the other aspect of that is what I referred to as “curve balls” — by which I just mean putting things together in odd or unexpected ways.

I am no Cary and Jenna — as much as I admire their reckless abandon when it comes to pattern and color. But I do like to mix things up, even in my own minimalist-leaning ways. For example, camo is my favorite print on earth because, in addition to being neutral and going with just about anything, it’s fun to mess with. When I bought the seemingly dressy, black silk Elizabeth Suzann Artist Smock in February, I wasn’t convinced I loved it enough to keep it … until I put it on with my camo pants and silver shoes, at which point there was no giving it back. I bought a pair of Ace&Jig pants this summer — black and white, being me — and my favorite thing is to wear them with my snake-print ballet flats. Even just throwing in a tan shoe where a black one would have been the obvious choice, and vice versa, can make an outfit feel more me, more idiosyncratic. More amusing. Sometimes it means I’m wearing something others might find confusing, but if it makes me feel good, out the door we go — that is all I care about.

I’m feeling really good about the clothes I’ve made over the past year — as if I’ve really hit my stride as both a chooser and a maker — and although they are very straight, I feel like they all lend themselves to the odd combos and to the days when I just feel like playing it straight. And meanwhile, I’ve bought a few pieces that raise the quirk quotient.

It feels really premature (in the unrelenting heat) to be putting together this inventory of my fall and winter selects, while many of the clothes from my summer list will continue to play a starring role for the next few weeks — more about that tomorrow. But anyway, here’s what I’ll have to work with over the coming months:

SWEATERS
camel cardigan
yoke sweater
striped raglan pullover
fisherman sweater
black cardigan
grey wool “sweatshirt” (sewn, wool knit)
purple cardigan
black lopi raglan
– boiled wool pullover (J.Crew 2014)
– shrunken cotton fisherman (L.L. Bean c.2010 but still available)
– cashmere turtleneck (J.Crew c. 2009)
cowichan-style vest
black Anna vest
grey vintage waistcoat
Sloper turtleneck

It’s astonishing to me how different this is from last year at this time, when those first four sweaters didn’t yet exist, nor did the grey pullover. Having them all in my closet, waiting for fall to arrive, feels like a major wardrobe windfall. And going through this process, I’m feeling extremely good about my decision to cast on the vanilla cardigan. The grey turtleneck is on its last legs, but I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more wears this year. The next thing I cast on, though, will be a simple grey pullover.

TEES/TOPS
black muscle tee (see also black gauze version)
striped muscle tee
– grey sleeveless tee (Everlane, no longer available)
white linen shell
– dotted chambray tunic (Endless Summer, made by a friend)
– plaid top (me-made, never blogged)
– silk smock (Elizabeth Suzann)
chambray button-up
– plaid cotton flannel shirt (Uniqlo c. 2011)
– plaid wool flannel shirt (Fischer, 2015)

I still need to make another version of my black sleeveless top that’s longer in the front, for layering. And I’m planning to make another flannel shirt for myself this year — another Archer — but looking over the lineup here, I don’t feel any urgency about any other tops at the moment. Although I’m still itching to bring the big-pleated top idea to life. Oh, and I already have the sleeveless tee cut out of the same grey wool knit as the “sweatshirt” pictured, so that will definitely get sewn together soon, perfect for winter layering.

STATE SMOCKS
I’ve been stalking the State Smock releases since we still lived in California, so at least four years, and can never spot one that’s right for me that isn’t already sold. That is, until last month (while I was piecing together the interview with Adrienne) when I scored both an olive drab one and a pale pink one; and then while I was in Denver, I managed to get a white one. I don’t know what it is, but it is the most magical garment ever. If I’ve had the olive one for 50 days, let’s say, I’ve worn it for all or some of at least 30 of them. The pink one gets worn mostly around the house, while sewing, etc. And I expect to wear the crap out of the white one forthwith. I would happily wear one every day of the year. These guys have really given me whole new ways to wear my existing clothes — more on that tomorrow.

JEANS
– threadbare jeans (Old Navy c. 2013)
– natural denim jeans (Imogene+Willie, made in US, 2016)
handmade jeans
– dark cropped jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, made in US, 2016)

I am well-stocked in the jeans department. There are the faded jeans pictured plus the visibly mended pair, both of which are perilously fragile and need more shoring up, but that’s the color of denim I want to be wearing right now: super faded. The natural jeans are great. The handmades are my all-time favorites — nicest and best-fitting pair I’ve ever owned — and the only way to get them to fade is to wear them. A lot. Hopefully the dark denim will seem more appealing once cold weather is upon us. And in addition to the J.Crew jeans pictured, I also have my dark denim Imogene+Willie jeans. (The ones that went to Paris with me.) Definitely no needs here.

PANTS
– b/w patterned pants (Ace&Jig Derby in Highland, no longer available)
olive pants
– camo pants, heavily mended (Gap c.2009)
– wide-leg khakis (J.Crew, 2016)

This makes it look like I have a well-rounded pants collection at the moment, but: the Ace&Jig pants will feel much too thin and flimsy in just a few weeks; the olive pants got ruined in the wash; the camo pants are also perilously fragile and my most beloved ever, so I’m wearing them sparingly; and I don’t wear the khakis very much. The olive “toddler pants,” as I call them, are really the only thing I want to wear right now, so my plan is basically to make four pairs that will replace what you see here: a natural canvas pair, denim, wool herringbone, and camo. Those will get me through the winter, and they’re clearly the most urgent items on my make list right now.

Tomorrow: outfits!

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PREVIOUSLY in Fall 2017 Wardrobe: Mood

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Elsewhere

Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

I got back to Nashville late Tuesday, homemade jeans in hand and beaming with pride. We did take pics while I was in Colorado, so I’ll tell you all about them on Monday. But meanwhile, a bit of Elsewhere:

– Many of you know about the hilarious and talented DG Strong (@amazingdg), one of my oldest/dearest friends and the guy responsible for getting all of your Fringe Supply Co. orders out the door so quickly, among other things. But did you know he’s a State Fair Best in Show ribbon winner? He’d love to tell you all about it. (photo, above left)

– State the Label (ref.) and a whole bunch of other indie brands are having a hurricane relief fundraiser today — details here

– Felicia has written another super thoughtful piece, this time about Our fear of going back, of undoing or redoing, and it ties in to our recent discussion here about how we feel about mistakes. (above right)

– The North Face + Fibershed = Climate-beneficial beanie

– Cute new pants pattern from True Bias, the Lander Pant

The Refashioners challenge is always a highlight of the year. (Related: Never not wowed by Sasha.)

– “Designer jeans are a relatively new phenomenon; people who ordinarily wouldn’t have worn the Western jeans thought it was okay to wear them if they had a designer name on them, as opposed to Levi’s, Lee or Wrangler—the traditional jeans manufacturers,” Calvin Klein told Playboy in 1984. “My name is on the outside of the jeans and on the inside of almost everything else I make …”

– and I love absolutely everything about this photo and caption

IN TINY SHOP NEWS: We have a darling new option for you tiny scissors lovers, Lykke short-tip interchangeable sets are back in stock, and the bone narrow-rim buttons are now available in itty bitty 10mm. Plus I’ve done a few more mark-downs in the sale section!

I get to have an actual sleep-in-do-whatever weekend this weekend, and I’m so excited about it after the last jam-packed month. Happy knitting, and see you next week!

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

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New Favorites: Huck

New Favorites: Huck

As you likely know, the Brooklyn Tweed Fall ’17 collection hit the airwaves yesterday, and there are several nice garments in there that could make their way into my queue someday. But the standout — the design that made me leap out of my chair a little — is Norah Gaughan’s hat pattern, Huck. I’ve been missing that raspberry/blackberry/trinity stitch from my fisherman sweater and planning to knit a funny little hat pattern from the same 1967 booklet (which partially inspired my teaching pattern, Debutant) that uses the same stitch. But Norah has hit this one well out of the park. The way the cables nestle into the raspberries is flat-out stunning, and looks like it would be so fun to knit … that I already printed the pattern!* I look at so many hat patterns every week of my life, and this one was such a jolt of originality. I was about to say now I can’t decide between this one and the vintage one, but they’re hats! No need to choose.

*I feel compelled to note here, by way of a little PSA, that if you’re printing this (or any) pattern, please only print the pages you need! This one is hilariously 11 pages long, but you actually only need a few of them.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Massaman set

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The Details: Folded neckband

DETAILS: How to knit a folded neckband

Any time I make anything, I make a lot of decisions along the way — some of them quite minute. The more I knit, the more comfortable I am with the basic functions of knitting, the more attention I find myself paying to little tiny tweaks or details or finishing tricks. I revel in making things as polished as possible, including on the inside. (Even though I often unapologetically leave ends hanging around inside!) I try to share as much of my thinking as I can because you never know which little detail might be exactly the thing someone was wanting to know or didn’t even know to wonder about — I always appreciate that in reading about people’s projects. But it means I wind up trying to pack too many thoughts into every FO post, and a lot gets left out. So I’m starting a new series called The Details, and my aim is to pull out (at least) one little detail per project to focus on in its own space.

I’m starting with the neckband on my fisherman sweater — or more specifically, the spot where the fold meets the pick-up ridge. This folded neckband was a little controversial in the comments the other day, but I am a big fan of a folded neckband. To me, it gives even (or especially) a simple pullover a really nice polish. It’s quite common and popular right now, but if you combine a slightly higher neckline with a folded band, it does have a bit of a retro look. This sweater comes by its retro neckband naturally — it’s a 1967 pattern — but I’ve done folded bands on my last 4 pullovers: fisherman, yoke sweater, b/w striped sweater and the purple Improv sample. It’s one of those choices you’re always free to make — if a pattern has a folded band and you hate it, don’t do it; if it has a plain band and you prefer it folded, go for it.

Over these four sweaters, I’ve been playing around with different techniques for accomplishing the same task. A folded band is just a band that’s twice the width of the plain band, folded in half and stitched down to the inside of the garment. (Although some patterns will have you knit the dead-center row on a larger needle, but I find it unnecessary.) It’s best knitted from picked-up stitches, so you have that pick-up ridge to sew it to, but beyond that there are options. Technically, you can do whatever you want, as long as you’re careful to retain some elasticity where you’re sewing the two together. (Just like binding off too tightly on a plain band can make it difficult to get over your head, you have to be careful not to stitch a folded band down so tightly that the neck hole has no give.)

Some patterns call for you to bind off all of your stitches “in pattern” and then sew the bind-off edge to the inside. Other patterns will have you knit to the intended depth and then sew through the live stitches. That saves the step of binding off, but it means if you do make it a little too tight and the seam strand breaks when you pull it over head at any point, you’ve got live stitches on the loose. So I prefer to bind off all of the stitches, but you do need to do it verrrrry loosely so there’s plenty of stretch. I work the bind-off round (and sometimes even the round before that) on a needle 2 or 3 sizes up from my ribbing needle, and then use a separate strand of yarn for the seaming. The nice thing about sewing it down is the ribbing acts as a perfect guide — make sure you’re folding each rib down onto its own back side, and everything will be perfectly aligned all the way around.

But there’s the question of how you’re binding off and how exactly you’re joining the two edges. With this fisherman sweater, I found my absolute favorite mix of all the methods I’ve experimented with. I worked the bind-off row (on a size US8 needle after working the ribbing on US6) all as knit stitches, rather than in pattern, which leaves a visible chain along the edge of your ribbing. I love the way that bind-off edge looks when laid down next to the pick-up ridge — it’s like having a lovely bit of braid overlaying a join. To keep the neatness, I joined them together by running my tapestry needle down through the bottom leg of the stitch on top and the top leg of the stitch on bottom (the adjacent legs from each edge, in other words), pulling the yarn snug but not tight, then up through the next stitch and the bottom leg of the one above it, then back down through the next pair, and so on. It’s a lot like grafting — the seam yarn is basically invisible. I stumbled onto this out of a mix of haste and curiosity and it’s the neatest inside of a handmade neckband I’ve ever done. Will be my method of choice from now on.

p.s. If you’re wondering when I’m going to shop posting pics of this sweater, the answer might be never!

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Queue Check Addendum: Reader, I cast on

Queue Check Addendum: Reader, I cast on

I’m in Denver for the weekend, at Fancy Tiger, learning to sew jeans with Heather Lou from Closet Case. I feel a million times more confident about this after my Summer of Basics makes (button-down! pants!), but still, please send positive thoughts toward Colorado! I didn’t get to pull together an Elsewhere before I left (although there are a million links that are potentially new-to-you in the scroll) but I did manage to cast about and cast on for a new project, despite my solemn vow not to start anything until I finished my WIPs. If there was an office pool on this, I hope you were smart enough to bet against me.

HERE’S THE THING! A) None of those were suitable for travel. B) I can’t knit the grey thing. I just can’t. It has to go. C) I did work on the purple sweater, finished the body, but it is still too warm (even in air conditioning) to be anywhere near lopi. So the second sleeve will have to wait a minute.

So what did I cast on? The most vanilla sweater imaginable: an ivory V-neck, stockinette, top-down cardigan. This is the sweater my closet has been missing for several years, after I said goodbye to a beloved old Chanel-ish sort of boxy ivory crewneck one I wore with everything. Plus I can’t let go of this Arranmore and have been dreaming of a cardigan ever since I knitted a stockinette swatch while working out the details on my fisherman sweater. (Ok, truthfully, I’ve been dreaming of the same thing in black Arranmore ever since finishing my St. Brendan, and actually have conversations with myself about not lenghtening my existing black cardigan and knitting the black Arranmore one longer, so I can have both!) (I have “seek help” on my to-do list for after Denver.) This will be a very plain sweater, but richly and deliciously so, and I’m also scheming about some interesting pockets, so we’ll see. The first inkling of a top-down sweater is my favorite travel project, and I’m happy to have this one with me.

ASSORTED UPDATES:

– If you haven’t already done so, make sure to visit the blogs of Kelbourne Woolens, Grainline Studio and Fancy Tiger Crafts to see who won all the #summerofbasics prizes (in addition to the prizes I announced on Tuesday) and what the Kelbourne/Grainline/Fancy ladies made!

– I did hear back from Dress for Success of Houston and they are currently seeking not just women’s workplace-appropriate clothing, always, but also casual wear for Harvey recovery. (They’re doing a clothing drive tomorrow including kids’ and men’s clothes as well, but I’m not clear on whether they’re accepting those things after today.) Please make sure they’re clean, presentable, no holes or buttons missing or anything like that, and send to Dress for Success, 3310 Eastside Street, Houston TX 77098.

– And we’ve restocked a bunch of bestsellers that sold out during the recent SPLC fundraiser: bonsai scissors, wooden gauge rulers, bone repair hooks, many of the Bento Bags, Knitters Graph Paper Journal, Stowe Bag patterns, nearly all sizes/lengths/parts of the Lykke Driftwood needles …. the list goes on, and you can find all of that and more over at Fringe Supply Co!

I hope you, too, are doing something fun and challenging this weekend! I’m sure I’ll be sharing liberally about my jeans workshop on Instagram @karentempler for the next three days. Keep an eye on my Story, especially.

(Lykke Driftwood needles from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: August 2017

Our Tools, Ourselves: Andrea Mowry (Drea Renee Knits)

Our Tools, Ourselves: Andrea Mowry (Drea Renee Knits)

Andrea Mowry, aka Drea Renee Knits aka @dreareneeknits, burst onto the knitting scene with great force in the past few years. I remember her sweet “Man on the Street” segment on the Woolful podcast when it was new (2014) confessing that she wanted knitting to be her life and she was taking the leap, and now she’s arguably one of the most popular pattern designers around. She is a major, major Fringe Field Bag devotee (here she is knitting out of one in Labor and Delivery), and there’s a certain charm in the fact that her wildly popular Find Your Fade shawl and the Field Bag seem to be a remarkably popular combination. If I had a dollar for every photo on the #fringefieldbag feed of a Field Bag and a Fade …

Anyway, she’s also an absolutely lovely person, who I had the pleasure of meeting and teaching with at Squam this June. And I found myself wanting a peek into her knitting life. Thanks for answering my questions, Andrea!

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Do you knit, crochet, weave, spin, dye, sew … ?

I definitely identify mostly as a knitter. I was taught as a child by my grandma, and there is very rarely a day that passes without yarn in my hands. But I also bake and embroider, and I have big dreams of becoming as familiar with my sewing machine as I am with my knitting needles. I had a very brief affair with spinning, but now I have found that my knitting is a jealous mistress and doesn’t appreciate sharing any of my time. I have big dreams that once my littles are in school I will be able to really jump more into my fringe crafts. Which may explain my ever-growing collection of sewing patterns to outfit my whole family in a handmade wardrobe. One can dream, right?

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

In all my years of knitting, I have become pretty opinionated on my favorite tools. I wish when I had first started that someone had pointed me in the direction of a high quality interchangeable needle set. I think I have pretty much tried them all by now, and my favorites are Chiaogoo and Lykke. My Chiaogoo are my workhorse needles: pointy tip, sleek metal, and a fabulously flexible cord. My Lykkes are my “Andrea it is time to slow down and just revel in your knitting” needles, the smooth driftwood relaxes me and is gorgeous to look at. I think the best things to look for are sharp tips so you can maneuver your stitches, a flexible cord that won’t kink, and a smooth join. I only knit with circular needles, so having a set of interchangeables means I always have what I need! I also prefer the shorter tips, as I find they are more practical for every application. My other “must have with me at all times” tools include my little sheep measuring tape, tapestry needles, small metal round stitch markers, sharp embroidery scissors and a row counter. And of course notebooks and pens, but that is a whole other post!

How do you store or organize your tools? Or do you?

Since I use interchangeable needles, they come organized for me! I have dreams of having this gorgeously organized and decorated studio, but if I am being honest, I really use everything I have invested in, and as I work I tend to spread out and jump around from project to project. I find that I am always searching for balance, and this always comes out in my work by doing a lot of tasks all at once. Computer work here, pieces being blocked there, different types of projects on my needles with different amounts of complexity. A little finishing work, a little swatching and sketching. I think to an outsider it would look like total chaos, but to me it actually just feels really organic, my own little hive of activity.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Andrea Mowry (Drea Renee Knits)

How do you store or organize your works-in-progress?

Well its no secret that I have a nice little collection of Fringe Field Bags! They contain all of my WIPs. My yarn collection is organized on one wall of my studio on big shelves that my husband put up for me. My project bags are the end cap for each shelf. I really like having my yarn, projects and tools out and in view. I find that when things are hidden away, they are just too easy to forget about. Having everything displayed out in front of me is really inspiring, and I think it helps promote finishing projects as they are staring me in the face until I get them done!

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

I have found that finding tools I really love using, and that really do their job well, makes my work so much more enjoyable. I have taken the time to try out different styles, so I could find what is best for me. I try to only hold onto what I use and truly enjoy using. So all of my tools are pretty special to me. I think my biggest splurges are probably my cameras, Fringe Field Bags and Twig & Horn wool needle cases. Each has played an important role in my work, even if just by bringing a smile to my face or helping me to stay a little bit more organized.

Do you lend your tools?

Yes, or even better: I give them away! For those of us lucky enough to have been bitten by the knitting bug, once you become obsessed, I think it is a very natural transition to begin using higher quality tools and yarn. In the beginning I tried out different things as I figured out what really worked for me. Now I love to pass on knitting needles and yarn to other knitters. I also always seem to have an abundance of tapestry needles and stitch markers, so if you are ever caught short, just come find me and I will help you out!

What is your favorite place to knit?

Cafés. Preferably with a friend. Even better if it is outdoor seating in the autumn. And if it is near water, life is really good. But you can find me just as happily stitching away alone in my room, or on a family walk, or on the bus, or a plane, or out to dinner, or at a bar.

What effect do the seasons have on you?

I am a year-round, all-season knitter, but I do find I crave different yarn at different times of year. As it warms up, I want all the bright and speckled yarns, but as it cools, the woolier the better!

Our Tools, Ourselves: Andrea Mowry (Drea Renee Knits)

Do you have a dark secret, guilty pleasure or odd quirk, where your fiber pursuits are concerned?

I unabashedly love yarn. I think sometimes we tend to feel more comfortable if we can put ourselves neatly under a label, but I have found that when I do that, I just rebel against it. Ha! I think sometimes people are surprised by my equal love of speckled brights and earthy, woolly natural yarns. But I just love it all! My two favorite yarns are Brooklyn Tweed and Hedgehog Fibres. They inspire me in different ways, and I’ve realized thats a good thing. I jump around and I don’t judge what’s inspiring me. I try to just listen and go with it. While today I am totally gaga over a one-of-a-kind skein from an indie dyer, tomorrow I might go all in on some unknown farm yarn that just feels so right in my hands! Either way, I am one happy little knitter.

What are you working on right now?

Everything. :)

I just finished up a cardigan and am working on some woolly slippers for fall. I’ve always got a shawl on my needles, and that is usually my knitting happy place. But I think I’m headed towards a new season in my work. All I can think about these days are sweaters, and I have ideas just pouring out of my head. So yeah, lots more sweaters are in the works!

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Photos © Andrea Mowry, used with permission