New Favorites: Building blocks

New Favorites: Building blocks

In my first couple of years as a knitter, I had an idea for a book I wanted to do (I think I’ve told this story before) — a collection of patterns that would gradually build up your skills if you worked through them in order. Then Tin Can Knits put out The Simple Collection, which is wonderful and similar but also super different, and I abandoned the idea. I’d forgotten all about it until I saw the bit of simple brilliance my pals over at Kelbourne Woolens came up with for their new yarn, Germantown, which you’ve already heard me raving about. Dubbed “Building Blocks,” it’s three patterns that each encompass three variations on an accessory, of escalating difficulty. The Hats are just plain stockinette, then add a ribbed brim, then rib all over. But the Scarves take you from garter stitch to striped ribbing to cables, and the Mittens encompass stockinette, textured stitch and colorwork. Of course, the hats and mittens also introduce you to shaping, and the beauty of mittens is you can leave the tops off to make fingerless mitts, for even more variations. If you’re like me and like knitting simple things — especially at worsted gauge — they’re great little patterns to have in your arsenal, no matter how long you’ve been knitting.

(If anyone’s wondering, I have no stake in this yarn or anything — I just really like it!)

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Woolfolk does colorwork

Waxed plum Field Bag + Anna Vest update

Waxed plum Field Bag + butterscotch Porter Bin + Anna Vest

This was me last month, wearing the original Anna Vest and knitting the new Anna Vest while “modeling” for today’s debut of the waxed plum Field Bag! Can you even take your eyes off how gorgeous this all is — and especially that plum Field and butterscotch Porter situation? This is officially my new favorite color combo.

I can finally tell you this story: I’d been having a hard time deciding on a color for the new vest, and then I discovered that my friends at Kelbourne Woolens’ newest yarn, Germantown, came in a color that’s a perfect match for the Field Bag that was in production at the time. That felt like fate to me, and I couldn’t wait to see them together. (I do love a matching Field Bag and WIP situation!) The waxed plum Field Bag is available today at Fringe Supply Co. and at our stockists around the globe. The pattern, however, needs a few more days. I did finish the vest and we shot it on Monday, but the pattern itself is not quite finished, so look for that next week!

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to pull together a Weekend Reads list for Slow Fashion October this week — too many plates spinning, for real — but I’ll hope to share stuff on @slowfashionoctober over the weekend, so keep an eye on that. And I’ll aim for a mega list for next weekend. I also shared a peek into my actual, physical closet on IG this week and am hoping to start the clean-out challenge this weekend (if I get the vest pattern done, lol) — I’d love to see yours, too! Or hear how it’s going if you’ve already started.

Happy weekend! Thank you for spending part of your week here—

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Photos by Hannah Messinger for Fringe Supply Co.

Q for You: When do you give up on a WIP?

Q for You: When do you give up on a WIP?

This is that time of year where I’m off behind the scenes shooting beautiful photos of upcoming goods — starting with a new waxed canvas Field Bag color tomorrow! — and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in every set of lookbook photos there’s inevitably at least one with a luscious pile of grey wool and a certain sleeve in progress. It makes me laugh how many shoots this WIP has gone on, and I almost don’t ever want to finish it because it’s so great for this purpose! But in reality, it’s the Sawkill Farm sleeves and skeins from a sweater I started three years ago. There are older projects in the aforementioned pile of WIPs and yarn that needs to be sorted, but I consider them abandoned and awaiting frogging, whereas this one stays in its designated Porter Bin on my WIP shelf. One of these days, I’m going to figure out exactly what shape of sweater body these two sleeves want to be attached to, at which point I’ll resume knitting; meanwhile I’m perfectly content for it to hang out.

So that’s my Q for You today: How do you know the difference between and old WIP and an abandoned project? (Knitting and/or sewing.) Is there a time limit or some other criteria? And what’s the oldest WIP in your house?

(With special thanks for Kate Gagnon Osborn and Jen Beeman for sparking this Q.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: Do you wind yarn as needed, or all at once?

New Favorites: Woolfolk does colorwork

New Favorites: Woolfolk does colorwork

Woolfolk released a new pattern collection that is 100% colorwork and 600% gorgeous. Dubbed Earth Elements, you can scroll through the whole gorgeous lookbook here, it’s six patterns with his/hers and other variations that make it seem like more. I love all three of the sweaters — Mane, Krater and especially the cropped pullover Klippe, with its textured yoke. And then there’s that lovely hat, Dele. Major swooning over here.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Those collars

Winners + Weekend Reads + More

Marlisle winners + Weekend Reads + More

OK! LOTS to get to today, starting with the winners of the Marlisle Knitalong. It was not easy choosing from all the beautiful knitting, and Anna and I went back and forth a few times trying to decide, but in the end the category winners are as follows:

best marlisle:
@samandramones for her Humboldt sweater — we loved the simple-but-effective choice she made to change up the color of some of the spots. (top left)
(Honorable mention to @katharineemma for her color choice on her Kraai mitts — they’re so beautiful — and a nod to @belleofthewoods for the inspired yarn choice that makes her Ess shawl look like Aspens.)

best marlisle mod:
@ivyknitsfast for her Shantay cardigan — in addition to modifying the proportions and details, she was inspired by the colors of lichen and rocks and totally nailed it. (top right)(Honorable mentions to @sheryllwolffbaker for the most eye-popping mod and @luckypennyknits for converting Humboldt to a doggie sweater.)

best original marlisle:
@redefinedpieces for combining the broderie anglaise stitch and marlisle, and deploying it beautifully on her hat. (bottom)
(Honorable mention to @mossstitches for using marlisle withe a leopard motif — such a fantastic idea!)

To the three winners: Please send an email to <contact@fringesupplyco.com> to collect your prize, a $75* gift certificate to Fringe Supply Co.

And in the random drawing, the five winners of the $25* gift certificates to Fancy Tiger Crafts are @nakamili @yopurlygirl @hey_mama_wolf_yarns @mosstitches and @knitshed. Please send an email to <orders@fancytigercrafts.com> to collect your prize!

Thanks so much to Anna Maltz for her wonderful Marlisle book and method, to Fancy Tiger for the prizes, and to everyone who knitted along!

. . .

It’s been a whirlwind week on the #slowfashionoctober feed (I’m already behind!) and at Fringe HQ, so here’s a mixed-up list of great links for you, slow fashion and otherwise:

– I had the pleasure of talking to the Love to Sew Podcast ladies about wardrobe planning and Slow Fashion October back in August, and that’s now live as episode 61

– Don’t miss Kate Atherley’s guide to joining a new ball of yarn

– I loved Dianna’s thorough answer to “what’s your look?” on her blog, and @thewitchofhedgerowcottage (among others) managed to be almost as thorough in an Instagram post!

A whole other level of exploitation in the high-fashion world

How much plastic is your washing machine sending out to sea?

– This doll-sized Summer of Basics trio is killing me

– There’s nothing I love in quite the same way as a marked-up muslin

Kay Gardiner’s bujo tip for knitters

– I mentioned Anuschka Rees’ book The Curated Closet on the blog last year and finally cracked it open this week. It’s really good and highly recommended for anyone wanting a whole book beyond What’s Your Look? week for Slotober

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In shop news we’ve got three new lengths of Lykke Driftwood fixed circular needles in stock today! You can now get 12″ circulars (along with 16″ and 24″) as well as 47″ and 60″ (along with all the other lengths) at Fringe Supply Co.

Happy weekend, everyone — I’m looking forward to catching up on the #slowfashionoctober feed, and will back next week with a great interview, Week 2 action item and prompts, some excellent New Favorites, and more!

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*Winners are responsible for shipping fees and duties

PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

The stories clothes can tell …

Stories my clothes can tell ...

Two years ago, I wrote a short essay about the moment I realized I’d lost all interest in storebought clothes, which was published last year in Hannah Thiessen’s book Slow Knitting. It’s still one of my favorite bits I’ve written about how transformative slow fashion has been for me, so I reached out to the publisher and got permission to republish it here in honor of Slow Fashion October

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Slow Knitting by Hannah ThiessenI’VE BEEN a clothes horse and fashion junkie my entire life, and have always understood fashion as an art form, style as an act of creative expression. I was the typical kid who never properly appreciated all the beautiful clothes my mom made me, and the atypical kid who lived for the Saturday morning runway news on CNN. (Google “Elsa Klensch,” seriously.) I’ve also always understood that clothes could become special to you, souvenirs of a place or time in your life — the outfit you picked out to boost your confidence upon arrival at sleepaway camp for the first time, or the dress you were wearing the night your husband proposed. But I had no idea how many levels of meaning a garment can hold until I began to make my own in earnest.

As every knitter knows, we stitch our lives into our projects. A sweater can take weeks or months to complete, and when you put it on, you’ll always be aware of the trips, waiting rooms, or cross-country moves the sweater accompanied you through. Learning to knit a few years ago led me back to sewing (after years of gradually forgetting most of what my mother had taught me), but before I really dusted off my machine, I enlisted a talented friend to make me two garments that were beyond my skills — a dress for my brother’s wedding and a tunic with a faced yoke and hand-stitched finish, both of them beautiful. And both complete with memories of working with Alyssa on them — going to her house to try on muslins and all of it. Not fancy clothes, but genuinely one-of-a kind. At the same time, I was filling my closet with sweaters made with my own two hands and their respective sets of memories, and slowly falling out of love with storebought.

The more you think about this stuff, the more you tune in to — and it turns out there’s a whole other level beyond the making itself, such as where the yarn and fabric come from, and how they came into your possession. I have a vest, for example, knitted of Hole & Sons wool, from British sheep I followed on Instagram for years before the farmer decided to make yarn from their fleece and I got to have some! Direct from that beautiful farm. I have multiple yarns produced by friends who worked directly with the farmers and mills to make something meaningful and unique for their shops, despite making no profit on it, and those stories and friendships will be part of whatever the yarns become. I have a top sewn from fabric a friend back in California sent me after I’d moved away to Tennessee, that she dyed in the natural indigo vat she worked so long and hard to bring to life. It’s some of the best sewing I’ve ever done, and so represents both of our triumphs. The list goes on. And on.

I remember the moment I realized that my lifelong relationship with clothes had changed irrevocably. My husband and I were in a J.Crew store (long one of my most reliable sources) and I was standing in the sale area, sliding hanger after hanger along the racks, unmoved. Even the lilac cardigan I’d coveted in photos — now more than half off! — stirred not an ounce of want, and not just out of concerns about what sort of faraway factory it might have been made in, and whether the workers were paid a living wage. (Although of course there’s always that.) I just remember feeling so intensely, these are just clothes. I have the power to make treasures.

. . .

On a similar note, I posted on Instagram the other day about how the simple outfit pictured above is actually a walking scrapbook, a post that began with the words “My clothes tell stories, even if only I can hear them… .” I plan to tell these stories more often and would love to hear yours, too — both during and beyond Slotober. Let’s use hashtag #myclothestellstories, shall we?

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PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Style Crush x 3

© Karen Templer for Abrams Books/Hannah Thiessen; reprinted with the publisher’s permission

Style Crush x 3

Style Crush x 3

I’m taking this opportunity to revive the long-neglected Blog Crush / Maker Crush series by posting a few of them throughout Slow Fashion October. Highlighting people who inspire me is one of my favorite things to do, and during Slotober there are always way more people I’d love to call attention to than I actually can, so this is yet another way to point you at some people worth knowing about! Since our theme this week is What’s your look? (zeroing in on your personal style), I thought I’d kick it off with a trio of people who are living a slow-fashion life and whose very different personal styles I admire tremendously. I believe I’ve made smaller references to all three on the blog at various points in the past, but all deserve a bigger spotlight!

TOP: Sienna Parfitt / @notaprimarycolor
Sienna has possibly the most dialed-in personal style I’ve ever seen and an astonishing internal well of creativity. She lives in the earth tones that surround her namesake color in the spectrum, and she is the walking epitome of that “funky art teacher” vibe so many makers aspire to. She is both an art teacher and a design student, makes her own wardrobe and accessories — all perfectly in step with her aesthetic — and every time I see her sketchbook or chalkboard make list, it just makes me want to make things! She is nonstop inspiration both on Instagram and her blog.

BOTTOM LEFT: Ebony / @ebonyh
Ebony is a city girl (San Francisco) whose style I would describe as urban-casual. Polished but comfy. Chic but unassuming. She has a closet after my own heart, in other words, which looks to be a pretty steady mix of RTW and handmade — but good luck telling which is which, as she’s an awesome maker. You may have spotted her on my Fall mood board, in fact.

BOTTOM RIGHT: Libby Callaway / @libbycallaway1970
Libby is a Nashville acquaintance so she is someone I admire from a’near, through her Instagram and the very occasional bump-into around town. She is a lust-for-life maximalist and a masterful one — color and pattern and pizzazz are her signature, and the more the better. I have no idea how massive her vintage collection actually is, but she is one of the stalwarts keeping the good stuff from ever becoming landfill, while also supporting small, emerging brands. She’s a publicist who used to work in fashion in NY and now makes sure the world knows about all the creative good happening in Nashville (including most recently curating the Greetings From Nashville pop-up at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn, which I’m mentioning because if you’re in Brooklyn please go see it and send me pics of the Porter Bin in the mix)! She’s the kind of wizard who makes me wish I were a better vintage shopper and had a stronger color sense, but I’m happy to admire it all on her!

Of course, it’s impossible to convey anyone’s style in a single image, so please make sure you click through and check out all three! This was one of the discussion prompts this week — who inspires you? I’d love to hear about your favorites below (or on #slowfashionoctober), whoever they may be.

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PREVIOUSLY in Blog Crush: Meeting Rosa Pomar