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?

Q for You: How do you clean your handknits?

Q for You: How do you clean your handknits?

I ran into a discussion on Instagram recently where people were expressing surprise at the notion of blocking a finished sweater (as opposed to just blocking individual parts before seaming), and I was so surprised at the surprise! I thought blocking a finished garment was standard practice, and I almost always do it. Even if I’ve blocked the parts before assembly, I still want the seams and bands and whatever else to have the benefit of a good soak and flat-dry. (If you’re not familiar with the blocking process, click here.)

I also hear from people here on the blog occasionally who say they’ve never blocked anything in their lives. And I’m not sure if it’s a semantic thing or a misunderstanding of some kind, but it leaves me wondering if they’re saying they never clean anything, or just that they do it some other way (dry clean?), or what exactly. So I’m sort of dying of curiosity!

While not every yarn on the planet should be submerged, most (if not all) natural fibers benefit hugely from a good soak, especially if it’s wool yarn and a lanolin-based wool soap. I’ve noted before that I don’t immediately block everything — hats and mitts in stitch patterns that don’t really need it might not get soaked until the first time they’re in need of a wash. And for me and my knits, routine cleaning doesn’t necessarily involve a soak. My O-Wool Balance garments go into the washer and the dryer! I think that yarn actually benefits from it. The 100% wool stuff very rarely needs anything in the way of cleaning, and when something does I often use a trick I learned from my friend Anie, which is to just toss it into the dryer (dry) for a few minutes while a load of wet laundry is tumbling, to give it a good steam. Works like a charm!

So that’s my Q for You today: How do you clean your handknit goods?

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

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

Q for You collected: Yarn management!

Q for You collected: Yarn management!

Yesterday’s yarn-winding post on Mason-Dixon Knitting (and the ensuing hypnotic discussion), followed by two different emails about related subjects, had me digging back into former Q for You posts on yarn handling that seem to be begging to resurface! (Plus on Friday I had a little meltdown about how much yarn is in my house, completely untamed at present, and how I need help keeping it under control.) These are perpetually pertinent subjects, the answers to which I never tire of seeing, and there’s so much assorted wisdom of this crowd stored in these posts. So today I’m encouraging you to take a look at the collected responses and add your two cents to each—

Do you wind your own yarn? (winder or by hand, balled or caked)
How do you sort your stash? (by color, by weight, by what)
Does having a stash work?
How do you close out a project? (what do you do with your leftovers)
How do you store your yarn? (for aesthetics and safekeeping)

And if that’s not enough Q for You for one sitting, browse through them all here at your leisure.

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: Are you a process knitter or a product knitter?