Q for You: Are you a repeater?

Q for You: Are you a repeater?

A few days ago, I posted the above photo on Instagram with this caption: “I stopped an inch short of finishing the body last night because I’m not ready for my time with this stitch pattern to come to an end.” One of the comments was “Time to cast on another one!!’ and the immediate response in my head was Too many other fish in the sea! As if I would never knit the same sweater twice. And yet I say to myself all the time that I’m going to knit another Bellows one of these days, and maybe even another Amanda, which got me wondering why and when I’m willing to repeat. In both of those speculative cases, it’s because I want another of the same sweater but in a snugglier, woolier yarn. (A Spring/Fall version and a Winter version, basically.) But even so, I’ve made no moves to actually cast on again.

I have repeated smaller things in the past — I knitted Fetching mitts for two different friends (no different other than the yarn/color), and have knitted three versions of Orlane’s Textured Shawl (here, here and here; all pretty distinctly different in scale, gauge and fabric). Of course I’ve knitted multiple Stadium Hats and Super Simple Mitts. And oh yeah, Improv sweaters, obviously! And clearly I have no problem repeating sewing patterns — in fact, I prefer it, given all the prep work involved. Apparently the only things I’m willing to knit repeatedly are fairly simple, useful, adaptable basics, whereas the more unique or challenging things get knitted once and then it’s on the next one. But is that really it? I don’t know! I’m still pondering.

So that’s my Q for You today: Are you a repeat knitter of things, and if so what and when? Is it different for sewing than knitting?

I look forward to your responses, and also wish you a wonderful weekend. I, for one, am super excited about the arrival of Daylight Savings!

UNRELATED SHOP NEWS: I’m also super excited about the arrival this week of more Lykke fixed circular needles, the new issue of Taproot, Bookhou double-zip pouches (the beloved Pepita print is available again) and a massive restock of Bento Bags!

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: How do you use Pinterest?

Q for You: How do you use Pinterest?

Q for You: How do you use Pinterest?

When Pinterest was young, I was deeply in love. Back around 2011-’12, when I also happened to be a brand-new knitter, it was an essential part of my daily routine. I’d log on late at night with a glass of wine, and/or first thing in the morning with my yogurt, scroll back to where I’d last left off, and wander my way upwards — looking for random inspiration and also (maybe moreso) for interesting people. In those days, your feed was made up very straightforwardly of the chronological pins of the people you had elected to follow, and it also displayed who they had repinned an image from, as well as any comments on the pin. So not only could you control what you were seeing by choosing who to follow, and could keep your place because it was chronological, but you could find and meet new people! I loved seeing who my chosen pinners were getting their best pins from, clicking through to find out more about those people, and interacting. Along with being lit up by all the beauty in my curated page, I discovered all sorts of interesting people with excellent taste, and met some of my favorite knitters and even one of my very best friends that way.

Then, as seems to be inevitable, things went south. From my perspective, anyway. A redesign a few years ago buried the community layer — no longer did the bottom of each pin in the scroll say who it was repinned from, comments were collapsed (and thus suppressed, activity-wise). If you want a pin to lead you to other good pinners, it now requires time and effort. The feed stopped being chronological and gradually became jammed full of sponsored or suggested pins, so it was no longer specific to the pinners you’d chosen to follow. Which meant it looked more like the old front page (the everyone page) and less like one’s own little curated world. And now they’re even collapsing the captions — it’s like they have a vendetta against words! Having worked in tech, I have no doubt they’re making data-driven decisions — they must have evidence that other people didn’t care about all that stuff that made me love it in the first place. I guess. But is that true? Or is Pinterest no longer the phenom it once was because so many other people valued it the same way I did, data notwithstanding?

The thing is, I still love Pinterest — or at least, I want to. I long for those days when I could call it up in my browser and know I was going to tumble down a gaping rabbit hole of gorgeousness, but I’ve been trying to find new ways to make use of what it is, since it’s no longer useful to me in the way it was. I think now I use it more the way it was originally conceived — simply as a place to store things I want to save and find again, or occasionally to search for something specific. I’m enjoying making my guest board for BT. I have some secret/shared boards for project planning. I’ve been repinning the whole site archive onto series-themed boards, and love being able to see whole series at a glance like that. (And hope you do, too!) And I still see a lot of blog traffic coming from Pinterest, so I know people are still using it.

But I am curious, and so that’s my Q for You today: How do you use Pinterest? What do you use it for and hope to get out of it. Do you look at it every night/morning or only when you have a specific need? What works for you, Pinterest-wise. Or do you use it at all?

I look forward to your responses, and also wish you a happy weekend!

(NOTE: The image above is a screengrab from my Yarny Goodness board. I have two Pinterest accounts — karentempler and fringeassoc)

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You:

Q for You: Are you a sweater knitter?

Q for You: Are you a sweater knitter?

I know I’ve asked you all before what you knit the most of, but I have a very specific subset of that Q for You at the moment, which is: Are you a sweater knitter? [ETA: Pullovers and cardigans are both sweaters.]

Here’s why I ask. I haven’t made a scientific study of it or anything, but I would swear that in the course of the 5 years I’ve been paying attention, pattern collections and indie magazines and such have gone from being half or mostly accessories, with a few sweaters thrown in, to often being sweater collections with a couple of accessories thrown in, if even that. (And socks are definitely more scarce than they once were.) It has me wondering whether that’s the bias of the people putting them together, or whether there’s evidence that people are really that much more interested in sweater patterns than anything else these days. I know there are new sweater knitters joining the ranks every single day, but I would still assume there are far more accessory knitters than sweater knitters roaming the earth. So how to explain the shift in the collections? If I’m right about that. And I really believe I am! Or maybe it’s a pendulum swinging back where I wasn’t around for its previous swing the other direction?

So this is not just a Q but a PLEA to the thousands of you reading this post, will you take two seconds to leave a comment either saying Yes (I am a sweater knitter) or No (I’m not a sweater knitter)? If you have the time and the will, I’d love to hear more — if no, do you want to be; if yes, is it all you knit. Sometimes, always, never. Whatever you want to tell me! But please, I’m dying to know—

Hi, my name is Karen, and I am a sweater knitter.

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Oh, and for aspiring sweater knitters, see: Pullovers for first-timers (an introduction to sweater construction) and Cardigans for first-timers

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What’s in your Field Bag?

Q for You: What’s in your Field Bag?

Q for You: What's in your Field Bag?

I got into a funny conversation the other day with some friends, talking about how deceptive the Fringe Field Bag is. It doesn’t look like a very big bag, but then it holds so much more than you think it will. I’m constantly amazed at the things I see people pull out of them in real life, and am always ogling everyone’s on the #fringefieldbag feed, of course. But these replies from my friends cracked me up:

“I actually have a Field Bag in my car with a fully knit Arranmore sleeve, full skein of Arranmore, 6 feet of tinsel garland, full size fabric scissors and a banana in it.”

“I have an entire boxy sweater in mine right now. That sweater circumference is 60″!!”

“Mine has a sleeve, 3 skeins of yarn, magazine clippings, old sock yarn, half a hat plus the yarn for said hat, a highlighter, a bunch of pouches and my hat I was wearing before I got hot.”

An update out of the blue a few days later:

“9 [knitted] Christmas ornaments, 8 partial skeins of Canopy Fingering, 1 banana, 1 clementine, 1 size US1 DPN.”

I don’t like a really stuffed bag (of any kind), so I tend to keep less in mine than most people, I think — but I have for sure had a banana in my Field Bag at one point or another. Right now I have two hat WIPs and their yarn in one, and a cowl WIP plus two wound DK skeins in another. So that’s my slightly self-serving (market research!) but hopefully entertaining Q for You this week: What’s in your Field Bag? (With apologies to those who don’t have one. Yet!)

SHOP NEWS: Speaking of the Field Bag, we have all five colors back in stock this morning, Porter Bins for everyone, and the Bento Bags have been restocked as well (or will be any minute). The leather wrist ruler is back! We’ve got the Double Basketweave Cowl kit in indigo again (as well as undyed) and the Wabi Mitts kit in all eight colors at the same time! If you’ve been on the (now closed) wait list for the Lykke needles and didn’t hear from me yesterday, you’ll be hearing from me today. For everyone not on the list: if there are any left once the wait listers have their shot at them, I will announce it on Instagram @fringesupplyco tomorrow morning. But we’ve also got more coming next week, and will continue to carry them!

I hope you’ve all had a very merry week, and have an ever merrier weekend—

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: Are you a wardrobe planner?

Photos from the #fringefieldbag feed, clockwise from top left: @caitstop, @naturally_nora_crochet, @andrearknits, @bohochicfiberco (the November prize winner), @soveryshannon, @xtinawithwolves

Q for You: Are you a wardrobe planner?

Q for You: Are you a wardrobe planner?

Back in April of 2013, I asked whether you guys plan your knitting and sewing projects, noting in the post that I found it impossible to stick to a plan. That was the phase (a year-and-a-half into my knitting life) when I was bouncing all around with a major case of cast-on-itis, making a lot of things that didn’t get worn. After this week’s Winter Wardrobe Planning posts, I find myself now at the extreme opposite end of that continuum — planning my projects by being mindful and purposeful about my entire wardrobe, how things fit together and what would be useful to make. Watching how the right projects are adding up to a functional wardrobe has been the best possible motivator for both making and sticking to a plan.

But this is pretty new territory for me — at least on the level it reached this week. I’ve always had that three-outfits rule when shopping (don’t buy anything you can’t make three good outfits out of with things you already own) and it took me a while to start applying it to my project choices. But other than that, the most “planning” I’ve ever really done was maybe one season every three years or so, I’d sit down, try to think up outfits, and make a list of them — which I would then forget to consult. Or I’d find that when I went to put those items on together, they didn’t actually add up to an outfit I liked — either the lengths and proportions didn’t work together or it just didn’t feel like me. So as weird as it might feel to spend a few hours for a few days thinking about my closet out here in the open for everyone to see, I also can’t believe I’ve never done it before. It really really works. Using Fashionary templates to make sketches, I get the lengths and proportions right — whether it’s deciding what length to knit a sweater or how an existing cardigan and shirt layer over each other. And taking those flat shots of all my clothes on hangers turns out to be a mind-bogglingly great use of a few minutes. Instead of the tedium of trying on everything I own, I can just push the pictures around on my screen and voilà! And with all of the resulting outfits printed out, I’ll have saved myself who knows how many cumulative hours of standing in the closet door staring blankly at the contents, unable to get dressed. So a few hours of extremely fun planning time will save me hours of wasted time and agony. No wonder people dedicate whole websites to this stuff — it’s genius.

Several of you have semi-answered this in comments throughout the week, but it’s my Q for You today: Do you plan your wardrobe? To what extent, and what’s your process? And how does project planning factor into that? If you’ve got tips, please share them! And what are your favorite resources and websites on the subject?

Fringe Supply Co — Nice things for knitters

IN SHOP NEWS we’ve got two highly coveted items going up in the webshop at 9am CENTRAL time today: another small weekly batch of the Porter Bin and the second and final batch of my friend Handy Dandy’s beautiful little handmade poplar stitch marker bowls.

Also back in stock (available right now!)—
– The larger of the silver and brass safety pins, plus a new style in two sizes
– The undyed Double Basketweave Cowl Kit (an excellent gift, either in kit or cowl form!)
– All the beautiful Japanese needles in their little vials — tapestry, sewing, sashiko and hand-quilting varieties
– AND the latest issue of Taproot magazine has arrived!

Have an amazing weekend, everyone — thank you for all the great conversation this week!

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What’s your favorite edge treatments

Q for You: What’s your favorite edging?

Q for You: What's your favorite edging?

Edge treatments — cuffs, hems, neckbands, selvages — are one of the easiest things to tamper with as a knitter and also one of the most important details there is. And geez, so many options. You’ve got your ribbing. (1×1, 2×2 … twisted rib, garter rib, cartridge rib, corrugated ribbing …) You’ve got garter stitch and seed stitch. Folded hems. Stockinette roll. Slip-stitch selvage. And there are a million ways to get fancy with it. Any really good pattern designer will have put a lot of thought into what happens at each edge of knitted piece and how it relates to the rest of the fabric — getting the ribbing properly centered or lined up with other elements (e.g. raglans), or how a cable pattern transitions neatly into the edging — as well as what the yarn does or doesn’t want to do. But not all designers are that thoughtful, and edge treatments are ultimately up to you anyway!

I remember once hearing a knitting designer say he always uses 1×1 ribbing because it looks the most professional to him, most like ready-to-wear knits, but I find a lot of yarns don’t like it. My black cardigan, for example: The Linen Quill (held double) looked terrible in 1×1. That yarn wants to be stockinette, and when I switched from 1×1 to 3×2 — more knit surface than purls — it breathed a visible sigh of relief. But I don’t always love a picked-up button band worked in ribbing, and didn’t think the 3×2 here would be firm enough for that purpose, so that sweater got a garter stitch band for a little more firmness and contrast.

Generally speaking, I like 2×2 ribbing. I’m a simpleton — the less decorative the better — so when it’s up to me (or there’s no good reason not to depart from a pattern), that’s my default. And that’s my Q for You today: What’s your favorite edge treatment? 

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: Flat or in-the-round?

Pictured is my Top-Down Knitalong sweater in progress, in Shibui Pebble held double

Q for You: Flat or in-the-round?

Q for You: Flat or in-the-round?

What with all the activity and discussion stemming from the Top-Down Knitalong and Slow Fashion October, it’s been awhile since we had a proper Q for You! The other night, I cast on a slipper sock for the sake of a photo shoot next week, found myself dreading the in-the-round parts, didn’t want to get up to find my DPNs … and just thought, whatever, I’ll knit it flat and seam it. After which I marveled at this complete reversal in my preferences over the past couple of years. When I was first knitting, not only was small-circumference-in-the-round my favorite kind of knitting (specifically fingerless mitts, on DPNs), I only wanted to knit circularly. I’d see patterns for things knitted flat and seamed — like a hat or a raglan sweater — and wonder why on earth anyone would ever do that! And now, somehow, I’m that person.

Clearly there are teams in the knitting world: team flat and team circular. So that’s my Q for You today: Would you rather knit flat or in the round? And do you go so far as to convert patterns one direction or the other?

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SHOP NEWS: There are lots of treats to be found in the webshop today — the new Pom Pom and Selvedge magazine, wrist rulers, fully stocked Field Bags and Bento Bags

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: How do you clean your handknits?