Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Happy Friday, lovelies. I’ve got some links for you, but first I want to say thank-you for all the comments on last Friday’s Q for You. If you haven’t seen the discussion, there are not only great tips for cleaning up your feed but so many creative uses of Pinterest! Ok—

– “How do I explain to a non-maker that these garments aren’t just fabric and thread?” (bottom right)

Let’s go to Bergen for the weekend (top right)

Ways to use partial (or small) quilts

Clara Parkes on her visit to the American Sheep Industry conference

– Praise hands for Grace Anna Farrow’s @giveawaywhatyoucovet project

Exactly the Banff hat I’ve been picturing in my head (and such a gorgeous picture!) (top left)

– Might Cleo be the skirt pattern I’ve been looking for?

How to mend a hole in your jeans (bottom left)

Knitaid: helping refugees through the craft of knitting

– and have you knitted a scarf for your cat?

IN SHOP NEWS: The highly coveted Lykke interchangeable needle sets are finally back in stock!

Have an amazing weekend, everyone! What are you working on?

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

Slow Fashion Citizens: Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran

Slow Fashion Citizens: Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran

BY KATRINA RODABAUGH | I’m thrilled to launch the Slow Fashion Citizen series with Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran, the founders of Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver. Many of you already know Fancy Tiger Crafts as a yarn shop, fabric store, workshop host, community space, or other craft-centered bricks-and-mortar but I’m most excited to talk about their role in sustainable fashion. I love the ethos of Fancy Tiger Crafts as an independent business dedicated to supporting other independent designers, farmers and businesses, but I especially love how Jaime and Amber embrace this ethos in their own wardrobes and their own homemade textiles.

When Jaime recently posted an image on Instagram of her most-worn homemade garments I was completely smitten. It was exactly the type of clothes I’d want for my own closet, and so I promptly emailed Jaime and Amber to ask them to launch this series with me. In the coming months I’ll share interviews with artists, makers, designers, writers and advocates for slow fashion. Some will be makers and some will not. Some will buy their clothing from ethical designers while others will shop secondhand and others yet will make their own garments — some will do none of the above or others all three. We each enter the slow fashion movement with our own life experiences, skill sets, aesthetics, budgets, schedules and lifestyles, and I aim to share a variety of these stories with you through my interviews.

There was something so joyful, so friendly, so accessible, so relatable and so refreshing about Jaime’s outfit in that post. It seemed to say, “Hey, I made these beautiful garments and I know you could too.” And that’s the spirit I wanted to offer as I begin these interviews. I absolutely love that Arthur Ashe quote, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can,” and I reference it often in my work with slow fashion. Typically, we just have to begin. So today we begin with Fancy Tiger Crafts to get a better sense of their history, sustainable fashion journey, and their incredible homemade garments.

. . .

Tell us about the founding of Fancy Tiger Crafts — was it an impulsive beginning or was it calculated? Did you two already work together in some capacity or was the business partnership new? 10 years! Congratulations.

Thank you! Amber and I met in Galveston, Texas, in 2001 and were fast friends. I moved to Denver in 2006 to open Fancy Tiger when Amber was still in Galveston. She relocated to the Western Slope of Colorado to open her own yarn shop in early 2008 and that was when I asked her to partner with me instead. She did! The shop started very small and we’ve slowly grown over the 10 years we’ve been open. We moved in 2012 to a larger location where we are still located today.

Did you make clothing and then start a business or start a business and then start making clothing? When you started, who were your maker or handmade wardrobe icons? Who are they now?

We both started making clothing a year or two after we opened Fancy Tiger. I hardly sewed at all and was only knitting scarves and hats when I opened Fancy Tiger. Even though I was a novice crafter, my passion for crafting was limitless and I was motivated to inspire our customers so I poured my heart into learning more and more. It helps being surrounded by our awesome staff and instructors. In 2006 there was not this same movement, nor was there the same online community (no Pinterest, or Instagram) so I didn’t have any handmade wardrobe icons. There were some local makers here in Denver that were inspirational such as Christina Patzman and Sunne Meyer. They both began teaching at the shop early on and are still sharing their knowledge here today.

Slow Fashion Citizens: Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran

On your website you say Fancy Tiger Crafts is a “revolutionary shop”. Can you say more about the revolutionary part? (Because I agree and I love this part.)

Fancy Tiger Crafts is a revolutionary shop because it was the first of its kind when we opened. Before Fancy Tiger Crafts, shops were usually committed to one craft — just yarn, or quilting or needlepoint. We wanted to do it all, so we sold supplies and taught classes for a variety of crafts, including quilting, garments, knitting, crochet, spinning, felting, embroidery and cross stitch. We were also unique in our age (we were in our twenties when we opened) which gave us a different aesthetic than the typical craft store of the early aughts and before.

You have such a great aesthetic and a great sense of community. How do you decide which products to carry or which artists to invite to teach?

Amber and I have very similar aesthetics so it is easy for us to decide what to carry — we carry what we love! We are both passionate about US-made yarns, natural fibers, sustainable products, and supporting small designers, farmers and businesses. All of this informs our decision of what to carry. We love carrying products when we have made a personal connection with the company or people behind the company. We have become friends with a lot of the makers we support.

Slow Fashion Citizens: Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran

Your handmade wardrobes are so inspiring. Did you consider sustainability or ethical fashion when you first started making clothing? It seems so central to your mission as a business.

We didn’t! We mostly started making clothes because we wanted to make a skirt out of that cute new Japanese cat fabric or something selfish like that. I think when you first get into making clothes it can be a bit of a novelty, and it’s cool to have fun with that. Of course, the more we make our own clothes the more the issue of sustainable fashion comes into play. Everything is a process and it’s been a journey to get to where we are today.

Jaime, you recently posted on Instagram about your favorite handmade garments, listing the patterns, fabrics and pieces that you were wearing in that image. I love your outfit! And I loved the blog post where you both share your most-worn handmade garments. How do you decide which pieces to make for your wardrobe — do you have a sense of your own fashion style, body type, material comfort or fiber preferences? Can you tell when you start making something if it will be a favorite, or is it a matter of serendipity that all the elements come together just so?

Thanks! I have very strong ideas about what I like and a good idea of what will fit my body. I’ve been making my own clothes for a while and they are not always a win, but it’s always a learning experience. Currently I’m into very simple and flowy, square-shaped tops. Sometimes I fall in love with the fabric or yarn first and then I have to find the right pattern to work with it. Sometimes I fall in love with the shape and fit of a pattern and have to find the right material. Since we buy for the store, I usually know what we have coming in and often have ideas of what I want to make with it before it even arrives.

I think so many beginning- to intermediate-level textile enthusiasts are scared off from making clothing. I think this is part perfectionism — fear we’ll get it wrong — and part that we’ve lost these basic skills and basic confidence because we can buy new clothing so inexpensively. Of course, cheap clothing comes at a high ethical cost but it’s often “cheaper” to purchase. So … how do you encourage students to take a risk on making garments? Was there a moment when you had to just dive in and start pushing outside of your own comfort zone? How do you calm the inner perfectionist as you sew or knit?

Absolutely, you have to take risks! It’s the only way to grow. We’ve made tons of mistakes. Sometimes we still wear things even when they aren’t perfect or didn’t end up how we imagined. If we’re not going to wear something, we will gift the item or put it on display here at the shop. The important thing is to learn from those mistakes instead of being defeated by them.

What’s your advice to other folks who want to make a garment or even an entire handmade wardrobe but haven’t yet taken the plunge?

Start small and then actually wear the thing you made! The confidence and excitement you get when you finally wear something you made will boost you to keep going — I promise. You are aware of every stitch in the garment and all the “mistakes” that might be there because you sewed every seam up close and personal; no one else will notice this. Your friends and family will all be impressed and inspired by your handmade garments, trust me.

Slow Fashion Citizens: Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran

You carry such amazing materials and you are at the center of this amazing crafter’s community but if you had to recommend just three crafters for current inspiration who would you each suggest? And three favorite products or tools you personally cannot live without?

Jaime’s three current craft heroes: Tara-Lynn of Good Night, Day; Devon of MissMake; and Julia of Woodfolk. Jaime’s three tools: Swedish tracing paper for sewing, rotary cutter (how I cut out all my garment pieces), and 40″ Addi Turbo needles so I can knit anything I want using magic loop.

Amber’s current craft inspiration: Jen Beeman of Grainline Studio; Carrie Hoge of Madder; and Kristine Vejar of A Verb for Keeping Warm. Amber’s three tools: Oh, man, I agree with Jaime’s three picks. Those are essential. If I had to choose three other favorites I’d say a nice sharp seam ripper, a steamy iron — I love the Panasonic cordless irons we have in our classrooms — and a dependable sewing machine. I’m in love with my Janome Skyline and its automatic thread-cutting magic.

Thank you SO much for joining me. I’m so inspired by your business, your products, your classes and your amazing handmade wardrobes!

Thank you!!

Katrina Rodabaugh is an author, artist and slow-fashion advocate. Visit her website www.katrinarodabaugh.com or follow her on Instagram at @katrinarodabaugh

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PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion Citizens: Introduction

Photos © Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

In Our Tools, Ourselves, we get to know fiber artisans of all walks, ages, styles and skill levels, by way of their tools. For more on the series, read the introduction.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

In recent months, Beth Thais — I mean, @beththais — has become one of my very favorite Instagrammers. You may recall she was also one of the WIP of the Week winners last summer. I don’t really know anything about her other than that she’s an incredible sewer and knitter, takes beautiful photos and lives in the Bay Area. Since encountering her online, I’ve wished I had made friends with her while I still lived there, and having asked her to answer my Our Tools, Ourselves questions — reading her answers and seeing these photos — has made me wish I had moved in with her. Forgive me if that sounds creepy, but I think you’re likely to feel the same way. ;)

In addition to her Instagram feed, you can find her on Ravelry as beththais. Thanks so much for doing this, Beth!

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Do you knit, crochet, weave, spin, dye, sew … ?

I knit (14 years running), sew (five years) or quilt (two years) almost every day. I enjoy spinning and crochet on occasion. I dyed my first-ever skeins of yarn last month and I liked it.

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

I get attached to the potential tools bring, and their sentimentality. Like fabric on the bolt, it’s easy to pick up a tool and picture all things you could make with it — that sense of possibility is so heady and hard for me to resist.

I do most of my sewing on a modern Bernina and a Brother serger that I researched and bought deliberately. And my rotary cutter and mats and my first good pair of sewing scissors were the same. Most other things I use, including the 1950s Gimble sewing machine I learned on, are things I’ve stumbled across online or at garage sales, or I am lucky to get them as gifts from family or friends.

And I know it’s bizarre, but I just don’t care that much what kind of needles I knit with. Metal, wood, circulars, DPNs — I care about the yarn and the pattern, everything else is background.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

How do you store or organize your tools? Or do you?

I have a big cabinet for yarn and another for fabric. The fabric cabinet was pulled out of the dining room of a 1920s home in Burlingame, California, before demolition and came to me by way of Craigslist years later. My husband restored it and installed it in the spare bedroom I use as a workshop. He did such a beautiful job — it looks like it’s been a part of our house for a hundred years.

My yarn cabinet is a 1930s kitchen cabinet with stove burner etched glass that I bought from a woman downsizing her home in Oakland. She had used it for many years to hold painting and ceramic art supplies, so it’s on a second tour of duty storing tools for making. My rolled sewing patterns are in a ceramic umbrella stand I found at a garage sale. Boxed patterns are in two baskets in an order I can pretty much recite but has no real organization behind it.

I have a yellow standing sewing box that I treasure. It’s a bizarre little piece of midcentury furniture built entirely with making in mind: pin cushions on the inside of the lid, dozens of little pockets lining the inside for your tools and notions, a deep curved bottom for your sweater or hand sewing project in progress, and little wheels so you can drag it all around the house with you. It is incredibly useful, but also so specifically built to my purpose that I can’t help having an affinity. We share interests, it and I.

When my projects leave the house, I have little tool kits to go with them. Tasa Gleason came to a monthly Seam Allowance meeting at A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland with a Sew Together bag she had made. We all loved it and kept after her until she agreed to teach a class so we could each sew our own. I have a full-sized one for hand sewing and the mini size for knitting. They have built-in pin cushions and needle stops and a million pockets and I know by heart what goes in each one.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

How do you store or organize your works-in-progress?

With exceptions for gifts made on a deadline, I give myself freedom to work on what inspires me. I use a big bulletin board to plan projects obsessively when it suits, but also wait for that idea that bewitches me out of nowhere. Some of my most euphoric makes are completely unplanned and heady with that sense of giving into a wonderful whim.

My Snoqualmie cardigan sent me on a bus to buy yarn on my lunch break, and I cast on during my commute home despite not having the right size needles to do a tubular cast-on properly. So one sleeve starts with a long-tail cast-on and it looks a little different than all the other hems, and while I completely get that most people think that’s totally nuts, I don’t know … it’s never bothered me. I look at that cast-on that doesn’t match and remember how much I loved that sweater when I first saw it, and how thrilling it was to turn around and suddenly be making something so beautiful and complex with my own hands.

This approach begets many active projects. I have a drawer for sleeping or misbehaving WIPs, and an accordion wall rack that has the ones I’m rotating between more frequently. I’m a huge fan of the Stowe Bag for active projects — if I end up with more WIPs than bags, I can always make more. There is literally a Stowe on the project rack that has pieces of other Stowes-in-progress inside.

I’ll pick the project that speaks to me and head to my little rolling sewing box if I’m working around the house, or grab the right travel bag if I’m headed out the door. It’s a system that works surprisingly well, and I’m grateful for the freedom to have most days start with thought and a decision about what I’ll spend time with.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

I inherited a beautiful blue spinning wheel that has been in my husband’s family for generations. I spin on a modern wheel, but think about restoration.

I have a small gold thimble from my husband’s grandmother. There’s a scissor case that looks like a pizza slice that I made on a whim that I’m bizarrely attached to and take everywhere. My husband is a geologist and my pattern weights are all rocks he’s brought home over the years.

I have a standing mirror that was the mirror my mother-in-law shared with her sisters in their room growing up. The table that holds my sewing machine and serger is an old oak desk built for two people to use facing each other. The drawers open in either direction, which I adore, and it’s full of weird little corners and drawers that I fill with patterns and notes and books and tools.

Do you lend your tools?

About two years ago, a woman at an improvisational quilting class who was much better at improvisational quilting than I was gave me a 12 x 12 ruler because she had a spare and I didn’t have one yet. It felt like a validation of the skill I was trying to learn, and support of the work I had left to do. I will lend anything and give most things if you need them; I believe in our community and the support we can give each other.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

What is your favorite place to knit/sew/spin/dye/whatever?

I work away from home and I have young children who don’t nap anymore, so nights are my creative time. And I’ll get up much earlier on weekends that I ever do during the week, and have the sun come up while I’m cutting out pattern pieces if I’m feeling ambitious, or sit on the couch with sleepy pets and knit and think about the day. It’s a meditation, a beginning and end of the day I always recognize.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

What effect do the seasons have on you?

I’m consistent in my inconsistency; seasons tend not to change my approach.

Do you have a dark secret, guilty pleasure or odd quirk, where your fiber pursuits are concerned?

I knit everywhere, I sew everywhere, but I only feel like spinning if it’s 75 degrees and breezy and I can sit outside, listen to music and have a glass of wine. It happens maybe four times a year and it is transcendent.

I take a project with me everywhere; it’s like a comfort object. The one day I leave the house convinced that bringing a WIP is silly will be the day I get a seat on the train and that train will break down and spend 45 minutes stuck in a tunnel. If you happen to meet me in the supermarket, know there’s at minimum a sock-in-progress somewhere on my person.

What are you working on right now?

I have a crocheted afghan that lives in a basket on top of a cabinet. Knitting feels the best to me, but I’ll crochet a square every few weeks just for the feel of something different in my hands. There’s a Furrow Cowl by Jared Flood that’s been my project of choice for a few weeks and is nearing the finish line, knit off a treasured cone of Sally Fox’s naturally colored cotton.

My most ambitious undertaking is an English paper pieced quilt called Patchwork of the Crosses, designed by Lucy Boston. It’s my first hand-sewn quilt, my first English paper pieced project. Weaving, crochet and spinning are enjoyable, but I’ve never found them captivating the way I do knitting and sewing — and I think I assumed I had found the two types of making I’d love most. But I folded the two first little fabric scraps around paper templates and stitched the edges together and I knew immediately that I’d do this forever. It’s such a surprise and a gift, to find another thing to fall in love with.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Beth Thais

PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Karen Templer

Photos © Beth Thais

Make Your Own Basics: The skirt(s)

Make Your Own Basics: The skirt(s)

In the pantheon of clothing basics, there are a few anointed skirt shapes. Sure, hem lengths inch up and down with eras and ages, and there are always tricksier/trendier variations on any of these shapes — a million ways to tweak them, and a million patterns that have done it for you — but these four iconic silhouettes are the basis of pretty much everything:

MINI: Moss Skirt by Grainline Studio is neatly tailored with a fly front, slant pockets and back yoke detail. My mini-skirt years are behind me, but I would have sewn a ton of these at other times in my life. Check View B for a longer option.

A-LINE: Everyday Skirt by Liesl Gibson has a flat front waistband and an elasticized back, plus slant pockets. This is not a shape I personally can wear, but I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has recommended this pattern to me. Clearly a crowd favorite!

PENCIL: Selene by Colette Patterns has a lapped back zipper, darts and vent, with two pocket options. You can never go wrong with a good pencil skirt.

CIRCLE: Full Circle Skirt by Anna Maria Horner has a side lapped zipper and is otherwise as simple as can be. Unless you want to get fancy, in which case AMH, the queen of patchwork, has provided paneled and pieced variations.

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PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: The fisherman sweater

Elsewhere

Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Ok, y’all — I’ve got quite a load of lighthearted links for you today!

Best illustrated anecdote of the month

Love this cardigan-dress look

This “herringweave” stitch

– And Dianna’s Nordic delights roundup

– as well as this travelogue about Selbu, which is definitely on my bucket list now (bottom left)

– “… hand-spun 25m long hanks of pure wool from many countries and breeds of sheep are used to create a moving and contemplative piece of work …”

– New knitters might want to bookmark this glossary

Darling free baby sweater pattern (top left)

How to let out a hem

This sweater (top right)

This Farrow Dress + Stowe Bag combo

Yarn tales like this

Favorite photo from all the VKLive revelry in NYC last weekend (bottom right)

Or maybe this is my favorite

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PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

2016: My sewing year in review

2016: My sewing year in review

So this is a different sort of surprise for me: I sewed 12 garments this year, which is definitely more garments than I sewed in the previous 20 years combined! Granted, they are extremely simple little clothes, averaging maybe a yard and a quarter apiece. But I also haven’t sewn since sometime around mid-August — so really I sewed 12 garments in 7-ish months. And combined with the knitting, I made 21 things this year. No wonder my closet is feeling so much better.

More important, though, I like all of these clothes:

– The wool gauze pullover was worn a lot before it met an unfortunate fate in a dryer. It now lives with an 8-year-old friend, but a pal just sent me a length of the exact same fabric in case I want to make it again!

– The blue striped dress was in regular rotation for awhile and no doubt will be again this spring/summer

– The muumuu doesn’t get a lot of wear, of course, but it makes me smile every time I open my closet door

– The two sleeveless tops — black and blue striped — both factor heavily into my winter wardrobe, and I can’t wait to make another version

– The striped skirt was a test, but it’s gotten a little bit of wear and I’m eager to iterate on it

– The black muscle tee is a total favorite, my first time sewing a knit, and will be repeated soon!

– One reason to look forward to warm weather again is the chance to wear the two little box tops

– And the three camisoles are multi-functional and well-loved

If I have a resolution for 2017, it’s to advance my sewing skills and also figure out how to be more efficient about it. For one thing, I bought a serger back in October, which has yet to emerge from the box, but learning how to use it is my number one priority going into January. As I mentioned yesterday, I feel like I’ve reached a place where I know what I want in my closet. Now to bring my skills up to speed!

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PREVIOUSLY: My 2016 knitting year in review

 

Top posts of 2016

Top posts of 2016

Unlike 2015, I didn’t add much to the free knitting patterns on the blog this year (just one, actually — the Plait Hat), which makes for a pretty different Top Posts list from last year’s.  (I did publish multiple FO posts for top-down sweaters that include all the details you need to make your own.) Tutorials, however, there were a lot of! The mother of all tutorials was the update of my always-popular top-down tutorial, now dubbed Improv (and listed on Ravelry), which was also the basis for the Top-Down Knitalong — not only a highlight of the year for me, but of the whole five years I’ve been doing this.

But there were other tutorials I hope you didn’t miss. In the bottom-up realm: How to knit inset pockets and How to seam on a button band. And in the top-down realm: How to incorporate a stitch pattern, How to knit top-down inset pockets, How and why to knit top-down sleeves flat and How to knit a compound raglan. Plus How to knit the right size sweater, How to account for gauge differences and the importance of underarm ease. Phew!

But as far as what got clicked on most this year—

Top 5 posts from 2016:

1. Improv: Basic pattern for a top-down seamless sweater
2. Plait Hat
3. How (and why) to knit top-down sleeves flat
4. Slow Fashion October 2016 (master plan)
5. Hot Tip: Relax your cast-on

Top 5 posts from previous years (other than the top-down tutorial):

1. Pullovers for first-timers: Or, an introduction to sweater construction
2. Fringe Hatalong No. 1: Audrey by Jessie Roselyn
3. The lovely Audrey (the most popular image on Pinterest this year!)
4. Q for You: What’s your peak knitting experience? (the most popular image on Pinterest last year!)
5. Joining sweater parts at the underarm: Here comes the fun!

And some personal favorite posts that didn’t make either list:

– I have a soft spot for these photos from when I was working on Bob’s sweater in Florida in January.

– The art on Idea Log: Penguono x Joseph was probably my favorite of the year, and I still love the idea of that weirdo-minimalist take on Stephen’s cardigan, even though I abandoned the project. Might have to rethink that.

– I loved the Anna Vest knitalong, obviously — thank you to everyone who’s knitted my pattern so far!

– I only managed to publish a few Our Tools, Ourselves this year, but they were really good! See Julie Hoover and Ashley Yousling (and er, my own workroom)

Make Your Own Basics quickly became my favorite series to put together, so it’s good that you guys seem to love it, too

– And I couldn’t be happier about the introduction of Jess’s Swatch of the Month column into the mix!

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I have two requests for you as we head into the new year:

  1. I’d love it if you’d leave a comment below telling me what your favorite post, series or event from this year was.
  2. I’d love it you’d tell others, by sharing your favorite on Pinterest or Facebook or wherever you share.

Thank you so much for reading along this year! And for all the great comments along the way.

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PREVIOUSLY: Top posts of 2015