Fringe and Friends Steekalong highlights and random winners

Fringe and Friends Steekalong results and winners

While there are still people knitting — some of whom have started in on a next sweater — today marks the close of the official Fringe and Friends Steekalong coverage. But please do keep knitting! And I’ll keep tuning in to the #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed, where there is so much splendor to behold.

In addition to an assortment of other beautiful sweaters and even a shawl or two, we’ve literally seen a Sólbein Cardigan in every color of the rainbow, plus all the neutrals, and one rainbow-hued take on the yoke, above, by @mettosaurus. Not to mention pockets, zippers, handspun — and a couple of reversals, converting Sólbein to a pullover, such as the beauty seen on @carolinefrett above in the great group shot from @wollenberlin.

I just have the finishing to do on my mini and can’t wait to show it to you — it’s gotten cuter and cuter with every step completed.

The FIVE WINNERS drawn at random from the qualifying entries are: @fletch1800 @knitterbree @thehavelockzoo @madknitter51 and @kbzelazny. Congratulations, you’ve each won a Field Bag in the color of your choice! Please email <contact@fringesupplyco.com> to claim your prize.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated or cheered participants along. It’s always such a joy join in with knitters stretching skills and sharing insights and making beautiful garments, and that’s never been more true than with all the steekers in this crowd. And thanks especially to Mary Jane Mucklestone for the amazing pattern and for joining in with so much great advice and cheerleading along the way!

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: How to knit a mini Solbein

Vanilla + Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Links for fiber crafters

Happy Friday, friends — 

— First some bad news: Jagger Bothers yarn mill is closing — another loss for American manufacturing

— I’ve been limiting my IG time lately (in order to make more time for books), but there are three must-see’s for me: the #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed, of course, plus @meetmakersofcolor and @ebonyh’s Story, which has been my favorite part of each morning this month — so stunning and inspiring

How to overcome fear of failure (photo above, bottom)

Style muse: JoAni Johnson

With [mending] we affirm what we already know, that we can all be healers

A triumph of dedication and eyesight

— And most of all, Felicia: “I heard David Whyte speak a few months ago and he spoke of how we are practicing, in each moment, for who we want to be in the next. The fabric we create holds that intention – who were we practicing to be on that day? Were we practicing courage by trying something new? Were we practicing generosity by making for another? Were we practicing a new story about who we are by intentionally moving away from a story that no longer served us? Or were we simply trying to comfort ourselves so we could sit with our sadness or fear or insecurity? This comfort is a gift we give ourselves; a gift of time and space where we acknowledge that ignoring our pain, does not serve us. Allowing ourselves the comfort of craft – and then there being a visible reminder in our homes of us treating ourselves with grace – is so very important.” (photo above, top)

Yes, that. Please remember to treat yourselves with grace — this weekend and always.

SHOP NEWS: In addition to a fresh batch of Black, we’ve got a small batch of the Town Bag in Natural with a darker waxed natural outer panel, making the bag a little more contrasty than the usual subtle tone-on-tone effect. We’re calling it “Natural w/ waxed vanilla,” and we love it but it’s not reproducible, so it’s a self-limiting edition — only at Fringe Supply Co., and only while they last!

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

New Favorites: Junko’s abstract Bouquet

New Favorites: Junko's abstract Bouquet

I’m jumping the gun on this one because I literally cannot wait until the pattern publishes on Friday — it’s Junko Okamoto’s latest flash of brilliance, the Bouquet Sweater and scarf (not sure if the latter will be a separate pattern, but I assume). We’ve talked before about my love of The Twigs, and I’m equally smitten with her floral doodle on Papa, but this one is next level. Bouquet features a large-scale flower motif that reminds me of a sort of Weiner Werkstätte way of doing a floral — graphic and abstracted. But it’s also not a standard stranded motif and not embroidered after the fact. I’m eager to see when the pattern drops, but it’s either an incredibly clever use of right-side and wrong-side floats, or a wrapping technique similar to that in L’Arbre Hat? Like I said, I can’t wait to see the pattern and find out.

She’s knitted the sample sweater in a marl and a fairly low-contrast color, downplaying the effect — then flipped the two yarns for the scarf. For a higher-contrast version, just look at this gorgeousness.

And I just realized there’s been an unintended theme to New Favorites so far this year — bouclé cables, mohair colorwork, stranded purls and now this. So much lovely surface texture happening.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Stranded purl hats

Fringe Interview: Erica Schmitz of MyBodyModel

Fringe Interview: Erica Schmitz of MyBodyModel talks about custom croquis app

In a July 2017 installment of Elsewhere, I wrote “I hope this comes true: Sketch templates in your own measurements.” The link went to a Kickstarter for MyBodyModel, an initiative by Erica Schmitz to create a web-based app for a croquis template generator — meaning knitters and sewers would be able to create sketch templates based on their own measurements.

Croquis (“crow-KEE”) is French for sketch, but in the garment world it means fashion illustrations, which are traditionally based on an unrealistic “model” who is nine heads tall and very thin.

The idea of a faint croquis template for drawing on top of — for those of us who are not skilled illustrators — is best known in the form of the Fashionary products we sell some of at Fringe, which are popular with design students everywhere. I’ve been a proponent of Fashionary for DIY-ers because having a template to draw on has allowed me to make semi-realistic sketches of garments I’m proposing to make, enabling me to see what sleeve shape I like best, where I’d like a sweater to hit (natural waist? mid hip? crotch?), what shapes work together, and so on. It’s been an incredibly useful tool for me in project selection and wardrobe planning. But think how much more powerful it would be if we could have templates based on our actual human dimensions.

So that’s what I hoped would come true, and it has! And I’m thrilled to talk to Erica about it all—

. . . . .

How did you first get the idea to make a customizable croquis app?

When I first started making my own clothes a few years ago, it was like a floodgate of creativity had opened. I was bursting with so many ideas that it was hard to fall asleep at night. I was also a bit overwhelmed by the infinite design decisions that can go into making each garment. I needed a way to get my ideas out of my head and onto paper, and I needed it to be visual — not just a written list. At the same time, I was recovering from several years of illness and chronic pain issues. Making clothes felt like a thank-you gift to my body for all it had been through. Traditional fashion croquis, at a standard nine or ten head-lengths tall, just didn’t make sense. I found a few realistically-proportioned fashion croquis options, but none that looked like me. I searched for custom croquis apps, but found nothing. I finally ended up making my own sketch templates by tracing over a photo of myself. Every once in a while, I would do another online search to see if anyone had created a custom croquis generator yet. Every time, I was surprised to find nothing. Finally, in January 2017, I decided to do it myself.

Fringe Interview: Erica Schmitz of MyBodyModel custom croquis app

And how did you have the know-how to bring that idea to fruition?

I had zero know-how! But I could see and feel so clearly that MyBodyModel was something that needed to exist. My professional background is in nonprofit management and consulting, including a lot of grant writing and collaboration. I’ve always loved the process of starting with the seed of an idea and bringing people together to help it grow into reality. My first steps were finding a local software development company to estimate what it would take, and then connecting with as many makers and designers as possible to see if this was a product that anyone other than me actually wanted. I also took advantage of available free business counseling and trainings, did a lot of research, and got some grant funding to pay for part of the initial development.

Sierra Burrell's MyBodyModel sketches
MyBodyModel digital sketches by Sierra Burrell @sierraburrell;
patterns are Appleton Dress and Blackwood Cardigan

It seems like one of the hardest questions must have been “how much do I charge for this?” given that, to my knowledge, there’s never been anything like it. Can you talk a little bit about the pricing model you’ve settled on and how you arrived at it?

There were no “comps” to help figure out the pricing, so that was a bit tricky! I did know from the beginning that I wanted a free-to-preview, pay-to-download pricing model. In my initial focus groups, I gave the option for participants to pre-order and write down the price they would pay for their body model download packages. I used this information when I put together the different backer tiers for the Kickstarter campaign in August 2017. The success of that campaign not only validated that MyBodyModel was a product that people were excited about, but also that our pricing model was on the right track.

Feedback from our Kickstarter backers also helped shape the current credit-based download model. During the campaign, the main questions people had were, “What if my body changes?” and “What if I make garments for clients or loved ones?” We designed the credit-based system so that folks could purchase packages of two or five credits at a discounted cost per credit. We’ve also started offering discounted education pricing for classroom use.

You’ve taken it slowly — and I mean that as a compliment — crowdsourcing funds, hosting a nice long beta period to develop the tools, and now making it publicly available. Has your idea of what you’re doing, or why you’re doing it, changed during that time?

During the Kickstarter campaign, it was clear that people were excited about the idea of MyBodyModel as a practical and creative tool. What I didn’t realize was what a powerful emotional reaction people would have to actually seeing and using their body model templates. I’ve heard from so many customers who say it’s the first time that they’ve ever looked at their body without judgment. When they look at their body outlines, they don’t see flaws — they see possibilities. I think there’s something about seeing the lines and curves of your body as a 2D outline that turns on the artistic and creative parts of your brain, and turns off the judgey mean parts.

MyBodyModel rubber stamp croquis
Sketches and photos by Micheline Courtemanche @stitchmerchant,
who created rubber stamps to use in her bullet journal

What’s one thing that has surprised you the most from the usage and feedback you’ve seen during the testing phase?

Of all the feedback during the testing phases, both alpha and beta, what most surprised me was how often people blamed their own bodies rather than the app itself for any glitches in the croquis rendering! It really helped me understand just how pervasive and far reaching the social construct is of our bodies having something wrong with them. I realized that almost everyone struggles with body image and body acceptance — regardless of size or shape, and regardless of how “normal” or even “perfect” they may look to an outside eye. At the same time, I’ve been delighted to discover that some of the most positive body images are held by people whose bodies don’t match up with commercially defined ideals around what we should or shouldn’t look like.  These realizations have made me even more passionate and determined to continue developing MyBodyModel as body-positive design tool — and to make it as accessible as possible.

Do people’s notions of what it is, and is for, line up with what you imagined? Or have people used it in ways you never saw coming?

Initially, MyBodyModel was a product that I wanted for myself. I knew exactly how I would use it, but I needed to learn how others might use it, and how it might fit into their creative processes and planning styles. From our initial focus groups and alpha testing, I learned that we needed to offer formats for drawing on paper as well as digitally. I was surprised to learn how many makers love using analog tools such as notebooks, binders, and bulletin boards. I also learned that we needed different page formats that would be useful during the various stages of the creative process — for example, several croquis on one page for initial exploration of silhouettes, versus one larger croquis with space for project-planning notes.

But of course, since the product release, people have come up with all sorts of creative ways to use their body models! A few of my favorites:

MyBodyModel custom croquis examples
TOP: Sketch and photo by Amy Keelan @amy.kate.87; pattern is Effie Fair Isle
Pullover and yarn is Shetland Spindrift | BOTTOM: Colored-pencil sketches by
Whitney Franklin @whitneyknits of her travel wardrobe

I know you must have sunk an incredible amount of time and heart and soul into this. What’s the most rewarding thing so far in seeing it in the world, being used?

It’s hard to put into words how good it feels to have MyBodyModel out in the world. Even more than 6 months after our initial beta release, I still shout out and do a happy dance every time I see someone post a sketch they’ve done using their body model croquis. And I still get teary over many of the DMs and emails that I receive from customers. I think the most rewarding thing is knowing that it’s more than just a fun and useful product — it’s actually transforming the way our customers think about themselves and their bodies. I’ve also loved seeing how many people have been drawing on their templates with children watching and joining in the fun (such as here and here). It makes me so happy to think about the body-positive messages this sends on so many different levels.

And are you focused on the existing product right now and letting the world know about it, or are you already dreaming up what’s next for MyBodyModel?

I’m already working on raising funds and recruiting testers for the next development phase! I have a long wish list and lots of big ideas for the future, but we’re still just getting started. Currently the app is able to render female croquis only; I hope to offer male croquis by this fall, as well as some optional adjustment options. Our R&D budget depends on current sales, and we always prioritize based on customer feedback, so I’m also still very focused on letting the world know about MyBodyModel and our existing product offerings! Thankfully our customers, our testers and our original Kickstarter backers are our biggest champions, so that makes my job a whole lot easier.

#makenine watercolors by Kari Culberson @karimadethis; pattern details here.

. . .

Thanks so much, Erica!

I should note that Erica invited me to try out the app during the testing stage, and I have yet to find time, but I’ll be rectifying that asap!

For more information, see the MyBodyModel website, and follow @mybodymodel on Instagram.

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PREVIOUSLY in Interviews: Make way for Making Things

All photos via MyBodyModel, used with permission

Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Links for makers

Hello, February! In knitalong news, today is the start of Black History Month and a BHM make-along — knitting and sewing, and open to everyone “no matter your race, gender, or where you live in the world,” but the challenge is to make something from an African American designer’s pattern. Use hashtag #bhmpatterndesigners and see @naturaldane for more details and suggestions. And we’ve got two weeks left of the #fringeandfriendssteekalong — review those details here.

— Also this month, QuiltCon! I’ve long wanted to attend, and with it coming to Nashville this month, I get to. Anyone else coming?

— On the Slow Fashion front, if you haven’t seen Roe of @brownkids’ In|vested series from the past month, click that link or go click the circle with that label beneath it in her saved stories, and then continue back through the subsequent weeks (marked Convo 1, Convo 2, etc) (photo above right)

Thinking of them as small quilting projects might get me to love placemats and to attempt quilting

— If you can reupholster a chair seat, you can make a custom ironing board/surface — and vice versa (photo above left)

— I wasn’t there, but this was easily and rightfully the most photographed sweater at VKLive in NY last weekend

— Will someone make a catalog of my stash fabrics (and yarns) like this?

Whoa (via)

Amazing (via)

And a giggle, especially for the nervous steekers out there

Have a great weekend, everyone. I’ve blocked my Sólbein yoke and will be putting it back on the needles and separating the body and sleeves! How about you?

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

Inspiring mods of the Steekalong

Inspiring mods of the Steekalong

While there aren’t people taking really major liberties with the Sólbein Cardigan (which 99% of the #fringeandfriendssteekalong participants are knitting), there are numerous smaller modifications happening that illustrate all of the freedoms and flexibilities that excite me so much about knitting, so I wanted to point you to some of them. These are the sorts of design detail tweaks you can consider for just about any sweater you might knit:

BOTTOM: Pullover. @heyjoanne9999 left out the steek stitches in front to convert Sólbein to a pullover, but is planning to steek some side slits at the hips.

MIDDLE LEFT: Short rows. Several knitters have added short rows between the neckband and start of the colorwork, so the back neck will sit higher. @caitmariejohnson shared her notes on how she did it (swipe to the third image in the linked post) as did @knitterbree.

TOP: Vertical button band. For her second Sólbein already completed, @ivyknitsfast (no joke) knitted vertical 1×1 rib button bands and seamed them on. If you’ve ever wondered what a difference that makes, just look.

MIDDLE RIGHT: I-cord edging. @ceciliainstafford opted for I-cord edging all the way around, which has given it a vintage sweater-jacket look.

It’s hard to believe we’re only halfway through the official timeframe, given how many finished sweaters there are. But again, the fact that so many people have completed sweaters in under three weeks tells you there’s still plenty of time to join in! And remember, you don’t have to be finished to be eligible for prizes. The details on all that are in the kick-off post.

I’m casting on this weekend! Happy Friday, everyone—

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Hot tips and tricks

Elsewhere

Before I get to this round of Elsewhere links, I want to take a moment to reiterate something I said on Instagram last night regarding the Steekalong and indeed all of the make-alongs I host: Everyone is welcome. The kals and other events are designed to be safe, supportive groups where you can try new things and refine your skills and meet new people. Regardless of your skill level, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age or anything else, I would love for you to participate in any event I organize.

Lots of great links for you this round—

Designer Jeanette Sloan has put together a massive list of POC Designers & Crafters, linked to their Instagram accounts (and you can find Jeanette @jeanettesloan)

Marlee + Brandi is a must listen

If you haven’t heard Caleisha read her beautifully written piece about her experience as a knitter of color, please make time to listen — it’s an outstanding summation of what so many are saying

— “Hand stitching had woken something up within me, which was perhaps dormant, waiting patiently and serenely all these years. I was meant to find it …

As a huge fan of Abolaji, I loved learning more about her and her sewing setup in this profile 

and also loved learning more about the legendary Claire McCardell than I’d known before (via Jen)

I’m looking forward to these stories

How to lower the neck of a (vintage) sweater

How to knit a custom dog sweater
(If you’re not already familiar with top-down methodology, reading through my Improv tutorial should help)

This. Sweater.

And I’m determined to practice until I can sketch like Ho-mei

Happy weekend, everyone — thank you for reading.

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

Photo by Dana, used with permission