World’s softest helmet (2018 FO-5)

World's softest helmet (2018 FO-5)

This hat for my nephew — No.2 in the so-called February Hats Project — was a total delight to knit. It’s the 1898 Hat, which was the last of the six patterns for the Fringe Hatalong Series a couple of years ago and which I never got to knit! I’d done the first four of them along with everyone, and then got derailed on the final two by all the usual year-end obligations in my world. (There’s a summary and links to all 6 fantastic patterns here.) So I was excited to finally get to do it, and it was even more fun than I expected. The pattern was designed for seamen — you can read all about it here — with double-thick earflaps, and the way it’s constructed is just so clever and polished. It’s amazing to watch it come together.

The yarn is Woolfolk Far, my first time knitting with it, and it’s almost alarmingly soft. It’s ultra fine merino in a chainette construction, and after all the sheepy rustic woolly yarns I’ve been knitting with it, I almost couldn’t hold onto it. Do you know what I mean? It’s like trying to knit a puff of air after all that. I knit with worsted-weight yarns pretty much always, and have a really good feel for my gauge, but had to go up a needle size with this after my initial pass at the brim was coming out TINY. But once I got that sorted out and my fingers grew used to it, it was a joy to knit, and made the softest squishiest hat you’ve ever seen, which is kind of funny since it looks like helmet.

My only mod here was to make it shallower to fit the lad’s head. Halfway through the crown decrease rounds, I went down one needle size as well as omitting the work-even rounds from there on up, for a more rapid decrease overall. It’s 19″ around and 7″ tall, and hopefully I’ve nailed it.

I’ll definitely be knitting this again (and again).

World's softest helmet (2018 FO-5)

PREVIOUSLY in Projects: Ebony and ivory mitts

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The battle for Olympic (beanie) gold

The battle for Olympic (beanie) gold - free patterns

Stiff competition around the Winter Olympics this week. I don’t mean the skiing or skating or snowboarding — I mean the tight race among knitting pattern designers, battling it out for top position on the Ravelry podium (aka Hot Right Now) with their Chloe Kim-lookalike hat patterns, all of them free downloads:

TOP: Olympic Inspiration by Barrettangie

BOTTOM LEFT: Gold Medal Hat by Jen Geigley

BOTTOM RIGHT: Chloe Kim Chunky Hat by Marly Bird

Plus who knows how many more! There’s even an option for crocheters: the Knit-Look Super Bulky Slouch by Jennifer Pionk.

And did you hear about the Finnish ski coach who knits on the slopes? My obvious recommendation for times like those — where you literally want to have a little tiny bit of knitting in your pocket — is Log Cabin Mitts! I need a press contact …

Have an eventful weekend, everyone — even if knitting is your main event. What are you working on?

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Ebony and ivory (2018 FO-4)

Ebony and ivory (2018 FO-4)

I know it seems like I’m just knitting Log Cabin Mitts here, but that’s not how it feels to me. There’s something primordial about it. I’m having a reaction. Succumbing to an addiction. Scratching some itch that I don’t quite understand and am enjoying more than I can describe. I mean, the knitting is really fun, and the finished mitts are super cool and useful and feel good on my hands, so on that level they’re an obvious delight. There’s also something almost subversive about it, since I add onto them in life’s interstices — knitting a patch in a stolen moment here and there. But more deeply, they’ve stirred the old graphic designer and art director in me. Plotting out a succession of compositions and color combinations (and photos thereof) is feeding my creative self in a way I haven’t felt in awhile. And when I’m not knitting them, I have intense withdrawal. I literally dream about them, and my hands yearn for them when I’m doing other things. I can’t think of a parallel experience.

With the multiples — which show no sign of letting up anytime soon — I suspect I may have embarked on an epic art project of some sort, the shape of which hasn’t fully revealed itself yet … if there is one. (I’m imagining my obituary: Elderly woman found dead in her sparsely furnished home, next to boxes containing hundreds of pairs of fingerless gloves …) For now, I’m content to just keep making them, as often as possible! Exploring the possibilities presented by my Porter Bin of odds and ends, which I’ll keep dipping into for as long as doing so feels this satisfying.

This pair — number three to reach completion — is the most graphic one yet, and I adore them. The undyed wool is Tolt’s Snoqualmie Valley Yarn and the off-black is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Cast Iron. (Here’s this pair on Ravelry if you’re inclined to put a like on it!) And I’ll tell you about that toffee-colored one in progress, soon …

Of course, it’s also really fun seeing so many of these showing up in the #fringeandfriendslogalong and #logcabinmitts feeds, as well as on Ravelry. Have you cast on yet?

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Mitts: Glorious grey, the originals, and the free Log Cabin Mitts pattern

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Make Your Own Basics: The coat

Make Your Own Basics: The coat

I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to top off (har har) the Make Your Own Basics series with an entry about coats, but for anyone with a goal of eventually having an all or mostly handmade wardrobe, eventually you do arrive at the coat question.  And when my friend Jen at Grainline put out the coat pattern she’s been teasing the world with for so long, it pushed me over the edge — and might even be the one to get me to tackle a coat one day—

TOP: Yates Coat by Grainline Studio is a modern classic with notched lapel collar, hidden welt pockets and boxy shape

NEXT: Cascade Duffle Coat by Grainline Studio is a spot-on version of one of the most enduring and iconic of coat types

THIRD ROW LEFT: Oslo Coat by Tessuti is a lovely shawl-collared wrap coat

THIRD ROW RIGHT: Lisette/Butterick B6385 is a longer coat with waist shaping, vertical welt pockets and three collar variations that each give it a very different look

BOTTOM: Ellsworth Coat by Christine Haynes is an always-chic little double-breasted shape designed for jacket-weight fabrics such as canvas or denim, plus a lining

For a knitted option, I’m partial to the Polar Coat by Regina Moessmer, but be cautious about your yarn choice to keep it light enough to be wearable!

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PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: Mittens and mitts

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The case of the unfinished cardigan

The case of the unfinished cardigan

I keep thinking I’m right on the brink of being able to do an FO post about my blue Bellows sweater, but instead today I’m giving you the UFO version. Reader, I shelved it.

This is a classic case of “so near, and yet so far.” The sleeves and body were finished two weeks ago. I got more yarn for the collar, calculated my mods, then labored over that for a few nights last week, wrestling this blue wool octopus in my lap. This weekend was one of those rare cases where I actually had a couple of hours each on Saturday and Sunday that I could choose to spend knitting or sewing. Saturday, I dutifully finished up the collar. Sunday, I started setting in the sleeves. And as I was doing it, I went from thinking about how many other things I should be doing with that time (namely, the hats), to how many other things I wanted to be doing right then (uh, making myself a new pair of pants), to how absolutely devoid I am of any notion of what to wear this with. I’ve been saying all along that I imagined it would mostly get worn with leggings and slippers on the couch on bitter cold nights, and that’s all well and good. But I’m having to face the actual, stark reality that, other than couchwear, nothing. Blank. Nada single outfit in mind.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s a killer sweater. It’s both bigger and bulkier than my first Bellows. I love my mods, and it seems like it will fit exactly as I intended. It’s just a surprisingly odd shade of blue. Beautiful, but odd. In my head, it’s the same light blue of the sample sweater. But in reality, it has green and purple undertones that make it weirdly hard to pair with anything else in my closet. It would be ok with ultra-faded denim … if I had any. With the dark denim I actually own, it seems kind of dour. (At least right now; that combo might seem fine next fall. Fingers crossed.) And it’s somehow just slightly off with everything else.

Given that the window is just about closed on it for this year anyway — I mean, there might be another day or two before spring officially arrives — I started genuinely resenting the precious time I was spending on it. So I stopped and assessed. The sleeves are set in and look fantastic. Still to do are seaming the sleeves and the sides, sewing down the pocket linings, giving it another full-sweater blocking to settle the collar and seams, weaving in the ends, and sewing on buttons. And at that point, I said to myself, “Self, put it away.” You can finish it and figure it out next year.

This is not like me — I live to cross things off of lists. Having an open item like this is enough to keep me awake at night for the next eight months. But I feel good about this decision. I’m putting this guy and the purple lopi sweater (still awaiting its refashion) into the closet, folded neatly and out of the way. And I’ve made a note on my calendar in October to pull them out and get them ready for the return of the cold weather. I can imagine how excited I’ll be to have two near-sweaters waiting for me then, like a gift.

Bellows pattern by Michele Wang in limited-edition yarn from Harrisville Designsall Bellows posts

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PREVIOUSLY in Projects: The February hats project

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Beyond New Favorites: Marlisle

Beyond New Favorites: Marlisle

The most astonishing thing about knitting — this thing people have been doing for centuries! — is that not only is there always more to learn, but there are still clever people coming up with new ways do things all the time! New shaping and construction methods, smoother increases/decreases, original stitch combinations and motifs. You can argue that there’s actually nothing new under the sun — that every idea has been had before; maybe we just don’t know about it. But it doesn’t matter! It’s the constant flow of creativity that thrills me. And Anna Maltz’s new book, Marlisle: A new direction is knitting, is a superlative example. The book released on Saturday (our copies are going quickly!) and I can’t remember being so excited about a brilliantly simple idea or a collection of patterns.

It occurred to Anna (aka @sweaterspotter) awhile back that if you were knitting with two yarns held together — creating a marl — and you dropped one of them from time to time, carrying it as a float in the back for a few stitches, you could suddenly do all sorts of intriguing things, with none of the fuss of intarsia. She calls the idea “marlisle” — marl crossed with Fair Isle — and it first appeared on her Humboldt sweater, which has been in my queue ever since. With this new book, though — and the 11 patterns it contains — she’s really pushing the envelope, and applying the idea in a variety of ways. There are simple but very effective applications like the hat above, Hozkwoz, or the cover sweater, Midstream, with vertical stripes up the front and back. There are slightly more complex ones, such as the drop-dead stunning yoke sweater, Trembling, with its 3D facet motif. And there’s the incredibly meticulous pair of mittens, Delftig, with an intricate tile-like design achieved by alternating between holding one color, the other, or the two together. So she’s covered a range of surface designs — from bold and graphic to allover flame patterning to gingham and plaid and trompe l’oeil effects, and used them on everything from hats and cowls to shawls and sweaters. The whole thing is truly stunning, and I’m sooooo excited and inspired by it all. I cannot wait to cast on.

You can see all of the patterns at Ravelry and order a copy at Fringe Supply Co. (Our stack is dwindling but we’ll have more any minute!) There’s a fresh interview with Anna on the East London Knit podcast, and you can also read more about the Ricefield Collective here and her appearance in Our Tools, Ourselves here.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Colorwork mitts

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Mini Porter + Elsewhere

NEW! the Mini Porter, limited quantity

Happy Friday! First things first: There’s a fun little oddball in the webshop today, which we’re calling the Mini Porter — cutest thing ever. It’s a happy accident, basically — the lemonade we made from a batch of wrongly cut canvas that was intended for Porter Bins, so the quantity is inherently limited. Get one while they last! (Also new or back in stock of late: black Porter BinPlain & SimpleWoods and A.L.J.; Lykke Driftwood interchangeable short tips and crochet hooks both now available individually; Wool Soap!; and mini matte scissors in highly amusing sheep shape.)

And, a wee Elsewhere:

“I love your look! Who’s the farmer?”

How the Faroe Islands got their landscape onto Google Street View (hint: sheep!)*

What Brandi said

Love this interview with a bespoke jeans maker

Gimme

Style muse of the week

I’ll have this crocheted blanket, and the pup to go with

– and I want to make a bullet journal so I can have a page like this

Have an amazing weekend, and remember: Just a few more weeks till I start doling out Logalong prizes! See you on the hashtag? #fringeandfriendslogalong

*gravest apologies — I’ve lost track of which of you sent me this link!

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

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