New Favorites: Swans Island’s S/M/L cable scarves

New Favorites: Swans Island's S/M/L cable scarves

I know I don’t have to tell you how happy I am that the annual July seepage of Fall patterns has begun. In a rare deluge, Swans Island published an incredible number of patterns this month, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to see them all collected together. Don’t worry, though — I’ve mined their complete archive in search of the latest additions and will be doling them out for some time! But what better way to ease into the season than to start working on a cable scarf? They’ve presented us with three options:

TOP: At the small end of the scale is the Woodlands Scarf by Talitha Kuomi, narrow and unisex, with symmetrical stacks of thin wishbone cables running up the center

MIDDLE: Clocking in at mid-scale wrap proportions is the Algonquin Wrap by Michele Rose Orne, with a mix of open diamonds and dense braids

BOTTOM: And then there’s the large-scale Fireside Wrap by Leah Coccari-Swift, with its big doughy cables

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Thanks so much for reading this week, everyone, and for all the enthusiasm about the upcoming Fringe and Friends Knitalong! I know I’ll be spending a chunk of time this weekend starting to sort out what I want to knit, and I hope you will too! Whatever you’re up to this weekend, I hope it’s a good one …

And if you need anything from Fringe Supply Co., we’re here for you!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Retro cable bliss

Top-Down Knitalong: FAQ and addenda

Top-Down Knitalong: FAQ and addenda

There have been some questions and suggestions on the Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016 announcement — aka the Top-Down Knitalong — and I want to make sure everyone sees those, so I’m collecting them here (and will add to this over time as warranted). Forthwith:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Without a pattern, how do I know how much yarn to buy?

You can only guesstimate, and I usually do so based on the yardage of similar sweaters I’ve knitted in the past. Hannah Fettig created Stashbot for this, which is available both as an app and a printed booklet. You put in the general shape of the sweater you’re planning, your intended chest circumference, and your gauge, and it will estimate yardage for you. Or what I typically do is find a similar sweater on Ravelry — same gauge, volume and type of knitting (don’t compare a cable sweater to a stockinette one, for instance) — and check the yardage requirements on that. No matter which way you derive your estimate, buy more than you think you’ll need, just to be safe. Most yarn stores will let you return unused skeins, but I never mind having a leftover for future repairs/alterations or a hat or whatever.

Can we start planning and sharing now?

Absolutely! That’s why I announced it so far in advance. You’ll need to figure out what it is you’re making; knit, block and measure a swatch; and buy yarn. You can either start that on August 15th, or do the legwork now and be all set to cast on. If you do start dreaming and scheming, by all means go ahead and post it to the hashtag #fringeandfriendsKAL2016. I’m excited to see what you’re thinking about! You might base your sweater on a photo of something you love, or on your own sketch. And of course I highly recommend my beloved Fashionary panels (or the sketchbook) for working out your ideas. I find it HUGELY helpful to use that template when putting my ideas on paper — to tinker with where the hem falls (cropped? high hip? low hip?) and how long the sleeves are, and really zero in on what will look best. For me, it’s definitely a pencil-and-eraser exercise, and a big part of the fun.

Does it have to be a sweater?

It is a sweater knitalong, yes — the idea being to learn how to plan, plot and knit a garment, relying only on a swatch and some grade-school math. One of you asked if it could be a top-down onesie, and that sounds like a full-length sweater to me! (Hey, maybe that’s what I’ll make for myself!) I think as long as it is knitted top-down, without a pattern, and is a garment with a neckhole and sleeves, it qualifies. And again, it can be a pullover or a cardigan, plain or textured or colorwork (whatever you’re capable of planning!), long or short, narrow or wide, crewneck or v-neck or boatneck or turtleneck, cap-sleeved to long-sleeved, for yourself or a friend or family member.

ALTERNATE METHOD SUGGESTIONS

As noted in the announcement, my tutorial covers top-down raglan construction and I don’t have plans to expand on that, but there are other top-down methods you’re welcome to employ — remember, the only rules are top-down and no pattern. If raglan isn’t your thing and/or you just want to try a newer method:

If you’ve never knitted a top-down sweater (or improvised a sweater) before and want to keep it simple, I’d say stick with the basic raglan method for your first time.

PERTINENT PAST POSTS

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PREVIOUSLY in the Top-Down Knitalong: Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016: Preview and plan

Make Your Own Basics: The marinière

Make Your Own Basics: The marinière

Close your eyes and picture every layout you’ve ever seen in a fashion magazine under the heading “10 Pieces Every Wardrobe Needs” or variations thereon. It’s always the perfect jeans, black ballet flats, a white shirt, a trench … and a marinière. Also known as a “Breton,” it’s a version of the original French Navy tee from way back: boatnecked, three-quarter sleeved, blue-and-white striped. While the official marinière hewed to exacting specifications with regard to the number and spacing of the stripes, modern interpretations vary. But perfectly authentic or otherwise, it’s true that no closet ever suffered from the inclusion of a striped tee!

TOP: For sewing your own, Liesl Gibson’s Maritime Top should do nicely — all you need is the right fabric

BOTTOM: If you prefer your marinière knitted, Jared Flood’s Breton pattern is just the thing

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PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: The tank top (knitted and sewn)

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016 : Preview and plans

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016 : Preview and plans

The pattern: Improvised top-down — no patterns allowed!
The schedule: August 15 through September 30, 2016
The hashtag: #fringeandfriendsKAL2016

This is by far the most advance notice I’ve ever given about a knitalong — and with good reason! I’m talking about the Fringe and Friends Knitalong for Fall 2016 here, and this one is a little different. Whereas in 2014 we knitted the Amanda fisherman-style cardigan (or other fisherman pattern of your choosing) and in 2015 we knitted the Cowichan-style Geometric Vest (or other Cowichan-style pattern of your choosing), this year there is no pattern. I don’t mean it’s a free-for-all — I mean we’re improvising top-down sweaters, no patterns allowed! So I thought it might be good to give you a little extra time to dream up your sweater, read my tutorial on how to improvise a top-down sweater if you haven’t done it before, and generally prepare for what’s bound to be one helluva fun challenge. Plus we’re starting a little earlier this year, so consider this fair warning!

While I’m insanely proud of the tutorial and the untold number and variety of sweaters that have been knitted from it over the past few years, the photos are horrendous! It’s long been a goal of mine to update the images and some of the text, and I’m currently working on that. It will all be spiffed up before the knitalong begins.

THE PLAN

I’ll officially kick off the knitalong on Monday Aug 15 with a simple outline of how top-down works (a new companion to the full tutorial), followed by this year’s Meet the Panel post! (I’ve got a really fun group lined up.) After that, I’ll have a post each week exploring some variations or techniques not included in the original tutorial. We’ll wrap that up at by the end of September (in time for Slow Fashion October to kick off!) and I’ll show you the finished panelist sweaters as they’re completed.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

There is no sign-up form or deadline (or Ravelry group to join) or anything like that. To knit along, simply knit along! It can be any sweater you have in your head that works as a top-down sweater — pullover or cardigan, plain or embellished, whatever yarn/gauge your heart desires. My tutorial covers raglan-style sweaters, but if you are familiar with other top-down approaches (such as contiguous set-in sleeves) and want to use those methods, that’s totally cool — as long as A) it’s top-down and B) there’s no pattern. If you’ve never done this before, here’s your chance to learn how to knit without a pattern, completely to your own shape and preferences, and to gain an invaluable understanding of how sweater shaping works in the process — which will make you a more confident knitter and enable you to tailor patterns to your liking in the future!

Ask questions and share your progress in the comments here, and/or use the hashtag #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 wherever you post. You’ll have a whole raft of people willing to help!

PRIZES

Yes, there will be prizes. For this one, I’m going back to the “WIP of the Week” idea from the first year. Post your progress photos between Aug 15 and Sept 30, using hashtag #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 (on Instagram, Ravelry or Twitter) and I’ll pick a winner each week, which I’ll also feature on the blog.

That’s it! I’m soooo excited to see the variety of sweaters that will materialize as part of this, as well as the friendships that always form among participants along the way. Are you excited? Do you already have ideas about what to make? Let’s hear it!

Yarn pictured is Lettlopi in color 1413; brass stitch markers from Fringe Supply Co.

Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Fibertastic links for your clicking pleasure

Happy Friday, friends!

Yes to pompoms on doorknobs, can we just agree on that right up front?

– I’m so excited about Summer Stitch Fest!

Great story and reminder of what an amazing time it is to be a maker

– How much do you know about where cotton comes from?

– “Sustainable agriculture is about more than food. It is a system approach and our clothing is part of that system. Please give us an opportunity to provide locally grown clothes!

– On ethical manufacturing … in China

– Good life lessons: What I’m really learning from my sewing project

– This notebook

This tiny story

This tiny fashion muse (and yes I want to scale that top pattern up to my size)

– And who but @loritimesfive would go traveling around Iceland with their own handmade fairy lights? (details on them here, and don’t miss the full range of Iceland pics in Lori’s feed right now)

QUICK SHOP NOTES: If you were looking for a grey Field Bag and found them sold out, they’re baaaack! AND the magical Etta+Billie balm is now available in Lemongrass Mint! It’s a dream.

Have a marvelous weekend, everyone —

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

Images: top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right

Q for You: What’s the yarn you can’t resist?

Q for You: What's your yarn-buying weakness?

I have a weakness. A very clearly defined one. No matter how much I get bothered about the quantity of yarn in my house, no matter how many oaths I make about not buying yarn without a clear purpose and intent to cast on, no matter how close I am to throwing my entire stash in a few garbage bags and dropping them off at the center for creative reuse, when I’m faced with a certain type of yarn, I cannot stop myself from buying a sweater’s worth. What type is that, you ask? Small-batch, minimally processed, undyed medium grey yarn. Pictured above are the Sawkill Farm yarn I bought at Rhinebeck in October, Fancy Tiger’s all-Colorado Junegrass from their 10th anniversary celebration (which I didn’t get to go to — but I did get to buy the yarn online!), and Ysolda Teague’s Blend No.1, which I bought after petting it and her utterly perfect Polwarth* sweater in D.C.** They are not the same. The Sawkill is the most unusual blend of breeds; it’s sheepy and airy and farmy. The Junegrass is also farmy and delicious but also squishy and soft. (Sheep soft, not marshmallow soft.) And the Blend No.1 is sport weight, for pete’s sake! They’re as different as night and day.

If you factor in the salt-and-pepper Linen Quill that Purl Soho sent me and the darker grey Hole & Sons I bought from their second (and apparently last) batch, I have five grey sweaters in waiting. And I also genuinely believe I can come up with five sweaters as different from each other as these yarns are, and that there’s no such thing as too many grey sweaters. But clearly if I meet any more small-batch grey yarn in the near future (“but I’ll never have another shot at it!”) I need to remind myself there will always be another one and I have many at home.

So that’s my confession, and also my Q for You: What’s your yarn-buying weakness?

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*Seriously, y’all, that is the perfect sweater. The details are incredible.
**There are no shopping links for the four small-batch yarns discussed here because none of them are available for purchase. See what I mean?!?! I had to!

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: Yarn management, collected

New Favorites: Retro cable Bliss

New Favorites: Retro cable Bliss

Now that the 4th of July is behind us, it’s safe to start dreaming about Fall — which will be here in a heartbeat, people. I know I’m not the only one mired in reveries, because my Instagram feed is suddenly full of fall feelings. And you know more than anything, I’m dreaming of cable sweaters. I ran across this new pattern by Debbie Bliss last night, with the melodic and inventive name of Cropped Cable Sweater, and fell instantly in want. I love how evocative it is of all those vintage cable pullovers trapped in my stack of old pattern booklets, but I imagine this one would be merciful enough to include a proper chart! I’m already mentally scanning my stash for yarn candidates and imagining amusing outfits …

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Kveta