Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

I have so many thoughts and developments crashing into each other as I try to write this post! The big news, if you didn’t see it on Instagram, is it’s no longer just a fantasy — I am officially going to Paris. (Woohoo, gonna make it to Europe before I’m fifty!) We leave a week from Monday, so obviously I’m racing to finish my Channel cardigan (please pray that I have my pick-up rate right on that button band — there isn’t time to knit it twice) and narrowing down my packing list.

As I mentioned before, this mini travel wardrobe is something of a pre-Spring wardrobe planning exercise for me, and I’ve also made a few choice ready-to-wear purchases lately, a couple of which factor into my packing scheme. Those are just noted here for the moment and I’ll have more to say about them when I get to proper spring wardrobe planning.

I’ve also acquired three pairs of shoes lately (pictured up top), all of which are going with me. The amusing silver pair (handmade in LA by Solid State for Nashville brand Goodwin) were my birthday/Christmas/holiday-bonus gift to myself, perfect for dress up but they instantly brighten up any day; the cushy black Vayarta slip-ons (scored on sale by happenstance) are handmade in Mexico and will be my main walking-around shoes on the trip; and the faux-snake ballet flats (no longer available) are from J.Crew, alleged to be made in Italy, and I hope that’s strictly true.

Ok, so what am I taking to PARIS! The current plan is just that little stack of stuff up top, minus the linen garment second from top in the pile (cut for not being versatile enough), plus the camel cardigan not included in the stack because it’s still on the needles. Here’s the full suitcase inventory:

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

SWEATERS
camel Channel cardigan (pardon my drawing)
black wool-linen cropped cardigan
black-and-ivory striped pullover

TOPS
– Elizabeth Suzann Artist Smock (new, made in Nashville)
– plaid top (me-made but never blogged)
– black Imogene+Willie pocket tee (new, made in LA, no longer available)
– linen-cotton Madewell chambray popover (c.2013, fast fashion but I’m making it last!)
black silk gauze sleeveless top

JEANS
natural Willie jeans from Imogene+Willie (2016)
rigid Willie jeans from I+W (2017)

PLUS
– grey scarf from Churchmouse (2015)
– still debating between trench coat and hooded rain jacket (not pictured)
– underwear, knitting project, etc. (not pictured)

I should note that one of my weird neurotic tics is that whatever clothes I wear on a plane are generally dead to me upon arrival. I’ll be wearing my thick black ponte stretch pants (from J.Crew circa 2009/10) and probably my big chambray shirt (rescued from Bob’s Goodwill pile) in flight — along with the grey scarf and black slip-ons — but that’s why neither one of those garments factors into my outfit planning. So in my suitcase, as it currently stands, will be just the 10 garments above, from which I can make at least 20 outfits, with plenty of room to spare. (We’ll be on the ground in France for 8 days!) Here are 15 of them:

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

Wardrobe Planning: April in Paris (part deux)

These are all good for me — definitely enough outfits, enough variety, enough layering options (with the jacket especially), and options for an assortment of temperatures and weather conditions. So it’s pretty golden, as is. Comfort-wise, though, I’m wishing (perpetually!) that I had a nice tidy presentable grey sweatshirt and a comfy but attractive pair of drawstring pants, both of which I had hoped to make by now, but that’s not happening. So unless I break down and buy one or the other — or there’s some drastic change in the forecast between now and takeoff — what you see here is what I’ll be taking. To Paris.

Eep!

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Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Hi, happy Friday! Before we get into this installment of Elsewhere, I want to profess my love for all of the comments you left on Monday’s post about Folkwear. So many lovely stories and memories, then the cherry on top was THIS. The whole thing gave me heartmelt, and I want to again wish Folkwear’s new owner, Molly, so much luck in reviving this legendary brand. Ok—

Knitting Pretty — I’ll be watching this short vintage film ce weekend (photo top left)

– Are you playing along with MDK March Mayhem?

– If you haven’t been following Kristine Vejar’s textile adventures in Bali and Java, go look while it’s still at the top of her feed! (bottom right)

Felt as “fossilised fabric” (and can I go to that retreat, please?)

Is that a “hank,” a “skein,” a “ball” … ? (bottom left)

– I love this Seamwork profile of Asiatica, one of my hometown’s most distinctive businesses

– Where do you stand on Missoni’s pussyhats? Here’s Michele Wang’s take

Alabama Chanin has some upcycling to do (top right)

Heaven is layers of sweaters

– And this gorgeous woman and her crocheted scarf on The Sartorialist

I’m excited about this weekend — I blocked the pieces of my Channel last weekend and get to stitch them together. It’s been clear for a few days that this sweater is taking a little change in direction, though, and I’ll have more to say about that next week!

I hope you have an awesome weekend. As always, I’d love to hear what you’re working on …

SHOP NEWS: We’ve got a new batch of the Lykke straight needles sets (along with the individual sizes) and Knitters Graph Paper Journals, and all of the mini scissors (except the owls) are back in stock. Along with so many other gems at Fringe Supply Co.!

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Rabbit Hole: Folkwear patterns

Rabbit Hole: Folkwear patterns

When I posted my Idea Log for an indigo kimono last month, reader Marta Sullivan recommended a pattern at Folkwear.com — #112 Japanese Field Clothing — which I promptly ordered for the pants! And then I spent the next several hours happily (painstakingly) clicking through the pages of their outdated website, before resorting to the PDF catalog for easier browsing. Founded in the mid-1970s, Folkwear is a purveyor of “patterns with timeless style” — vintage or cultural classics (ranging from a cheongsam to a Navajo blouse to Marilyn Monroe-wear) that have equal appeal to costumers, reenactors and those of us who think a good French Cheesemaker’s Smock never goes out of style. The range of patterns is amazing, and the closer I looked the more in love I fell, as I discovered that many of them include companion knit or crochet patterns. #240 Rosie the Riveter (above) contains instructions for a coordinating knitted cardigan and “a crocheted snood that keeps hair in place.” #137 Australian Drover’s Coat (one of my favorites!) has a textured turtleneck pattern to go with. #238 Le Smoking Jacket includes the perfect little knitted tank to wear under it. And check out the cardigan with poodle appliqué that accompanies the circle skirt in #256 At the Hop! And that’s just scraping the surface. The pattern I ordered didn’t happen to have a knit component, so I’m curious to see how bare-bones vintage-pattern-style they might be.

Oh, and each pattern comes with a little history lesson about the garment(s)!

A few days ago, a friend mentioned she’d found Folkwear on Instagram. The account was just created on January 3; a new owner was announced on Jan 12; and she launched a new website last week. The new site is much easier to navigate, and I’m happy to see the delightfully dated photos survived although the PDF catalog seems not to have. [UPDATE: Here it is!] Just make sure you have some time before you click through! It is a definite rabbit hole.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has any experience with these patterns — and thanks again to Marta for bringing it to my attention!

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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Winter wardrobe results: Or, what to remember next year

Winter wardrobe results: Or, what to do next year

The time I spent on my Winter wardrobe planning in November was so well spent, it turns out, and I’m eager to do it again for Spring. But first I want to make some notes about how the Winter plans worked out — as guidance for next year. For one thing, I find there’s always a genuine difference between what I think I’ll want to wear during a certain season (say, when fantasizing about Fall during the heat of Summer) and what I actually want to wear when I’m in that season. But also because I don’t want to lose track of the little bits of things I learned by paying attention this time around.

Mostly, my outfit plans worked out great. I did literally print them out and tape them up next to my closet, like a huge dork, but it saved me time on a number of mornings — being able to just glance at that, pick out what spoke to me at that moment, and throw it on. And it definitely kept me from unfortunate impulse purchases or cast-ons. But there were still too many mornings where I stood in front of the closet staring, because there were some flaws in the plan and/or my implementation of it.

WHAT WORKED
– My best trick this winter was wearing my big black-and-blue wool plaid shirt or my denim shirt-jacket like a cardigan, basically — as a top layer. This was in part because I simply really like the look, and also because I’m coming up a little short on actual cardigans. The outfit I repeated the most often and felt the most comfortable in was the big plaid shirt over the dotted chambray Endless Summer tunic with blue jeans and boots.
– Related: I love my black-and-white flannel shirt more than I can say, and would wear it every single day if I could. I would really like to feel that strongly about everything in my closet.
My Bellows cardigan continues to be my most-worn garment, and I’m in real jeopardy of growing sick of it at this point, so it’s great that I’ll soon have my Channel cardigan to alternate with.
– I wore the short-sleeved black lopi sweater at least 1-2 times per week, far more than expected. It was the perfect thing for this mild winter.
– Shrinking my Amanda cardigan a bit did result in my wearing it a few times, and I think with solving some of the other problems (below) I’ll get even more wear out of it next year.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK
– Nearly all of the outfits incorporating the sleeveless black silk gauze top, which looked great on paper and I was and still am eager to wear, didn’t work in reality because the length of the front of that top (and the blue striped version) is awkward for layering. Between that and my linen tunic having gotten too shabby looking to wear in most circumstances, I have a shortage of underlayer tops to rely on. That dotted chambray tunic is pulling all the weight.
– All of the outfits incorporating the grey vest, which again I loved in theory and really want to wear, were not possible because I never got around to fixing the buttons.
– Likewise, the outfits with the sleeveless black turtleneck over a long-sleeved shirt depended on my blocking that out a bit larger, which I still haven’t done.
My black cropped cardigan is too cropped. It works great with the limited things it works with, but would be far more useful if a couple inches longer.

ONCE MORE, IN TO-DO FORM
– Make/acquire a few longer underlayer tops
– Fix the buttons on the grey vest
– Block the sleeveless black turtleneck out bigger
– Lengthen the black cardigan

RANDOM GLEANINGS
– I really like for my neck to be warm. The reason the black-and-blue wool shirt (and the b/w flannel shirt) got so much wear is I would turn up the collar and button the top couple of buttons (with a contrasting underlayer top peeking out down below) and I felt super cute and cozy. I also wore the big old grey H&M turtleneck several times, but it’s feeling really ratty at this stage in its long life. My instinct to knit myself a big cozy turtleneck sweater is spot on.
– As much as I love the grey wool men’s shirt and layering with it, it’s the standout example of a thing that happens to me every Winter. Which is, what I want after New Year’s is completely different from what I want during the Fall and holidays. I always have an urge to lighten up — the things that felt cozy a week or three earlier suddenly feel dour and depressing — once we’re headed downhill toward Spring. So I was heavily dependent on that shirt in the outfit lineup and in the last few weeks of the year, but then I was basically without it as an option as of mid-Jan or so. I need to anticipate and plan for that shift.
– The natural denim jeans have been a real difference maker in my overly blue-jean-dependent closet, but I would like to be generally less dependent on jeans next year.

The upside of the “didn’t work” list is that there are a lot of outfits in the lineup that I still want to wear and am not tired of, having not gotten to wear them! Plus I finished two excellent pullovers late in the season (the striped raglan and the colorwork yoke, up top) so I have all of that to look forward to next year.

For details on the garments above, see my winter closet inventory.

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Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Happy Friday, friends — here’s a nice juicy Elsewhere for you!

– It’s #tolticelandicwoolmonth — I’m really hoping to finish my cardigan in time to join in! (having made that pesky rule …)

– Best online panel discussion title ever: Pussy(c)hat, March 4 at 12pm EST — I’m sorry to miss it! It promises to be a rich and nuanced discussion

– I’m honored to be included in an upcoming book called “Woods – Making Stories,” which is now in crowdfunding

– “Even as a maker, I’m a consumer. I consume yarn and fabric … which means that the guidelines slow fashion provides us with … apply to makers as well”

Lovely scarf pattern with a heartbreaking and worthy mission (top left)

Jenny Gordy’s sashiko-patch mending technique (bottom right)

Anna Maltz’s back-of-the-envelope explanation for which way short rows should go (bottom left)

– “… starting the making process as adolescents, it often takes around a year of a person’s life to make one of these dresses, and some women continue to decorate and dye their garment for their entire lives …” — you MUST watch the video at the end

– NPR’s interview with the Monopoly thimble made me LOL (thx, Angela)

–  I covet Jen’s quilt

– And this one (free pattern right there on IG!) (top right)

– I’m eager to listen to Marlee Grace and Mira Blackman

– I dream of traveling to Denver and taking Sara Cougill’s seam finishing class at Fancy Tiger, but meanwhile I’m studying Liesl Gibson’s Six tutorials for seam finishes

Have a marvelous weekend, everyone!

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Our Tools, Ourselves: Alexia Abegg

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: Alexia Abegg

One of my favorite people I’ve met since moving to Nashville is Alexia Abegg. Best known as a fabric designer and cofounder of the immensely popular Cotton+Steel line, she’s also half of Green Bee Patterns (with her mother), worked with Lotta Jansdotter on the patterns for her book Everyday Style, and is a fantastic knitter. As you can imagine, what with her being a surface-pattern designer and all-round colorful person, there is a lot of colorwork and striping and freewheelingness in her knitting. (I love this note about the cardigan she’s wearing in the photo above.) So naturally I thought it would be fun to get a peek into her process, her tools and her studio.

You can find Alexia on Instagram as @alexiamarcelleabegg and on Ravelry as alexiastitches.

Speaking of tools — one quick bit of business I need to get out of the way before we get started, which is I’m excited to tell you we now have individual Lykke needles available at Fringe Supply Co., both straights and fixed circulars!

And with that, here is Alexia! —

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

If it is a fiber-related craft, I have at least attempted it, but my passions in that realm are for quilting, sewing and knitting. I also paint and draw almost every day. My mother taught me how to knit when I was eight years old. We were traveling all summer with my dad’s band, and my mom taught all of the kids on the tour how to knit and embroider. I think we hit around twenty states on that tour, we celebrated my youngest sister’s first birthday, and by the time we were back home I had almost finished what I think many knitter’s have in common as their first project: a garter-stitch, worsted-weight scarf!

I have loved making things since I can remember existing, and watching my parents paint (Dad), and sew (Mom) taught me to value creating something with my hands at a young age. I started sewing much later, and didn’t love it from the start — pre-teen impatience and sewing do not combine well. A few years later, when I was in high school, my mom let me borrow her machine and I created quite a few haphazard projects, including some little patchwork bags, and my love for sewing and quilting was sparked. My approach was often messy, and free from any of what I viewed at the time as perfectionist rules I thought my mom was unnecessarily imposing on her sewing projects. Over the years I have, of course, realized how much joy my mom takes in practicing patience and careful precision in each and every project she sews. I’m still a bit haphazard and love to work quickly, but I have learned how to corral my energy and patience.

I love quilting because it is easy to just begin. Pieces of fabric, destined to stay two-dimensional even when pieced, are free from the level of commitment I feel when sewing garments. I feel a looseness and relaxation when quilting that allows me to stay more in the process and less focused on the end result. Garment sewing is a passion, but it is more about finishing the garment I desire than about relaxing into the process.

My daily fiber fix is knitting, because it is portable and meditative, and I can still read or hang out with my husband and our two dogs in the evening while knitting. Knitting is the process I feel the most connection with in process alone. I almost don’t even need the desire for a finished object when knitting. I just love the feeling of moving my hands, touching the needles and yarn, and enjoying the colors and texture of wool yarn.

The passion for painting and drawing, and all of the fiber things, have developed into my career. Everything I do for work is directly related to the combination of these creative pursuits.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Alexia Abegg

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

Oh boy, I love tools. I really, really love having just the right tool for every job, and I love discovering what those tools are. My most used and valued tools: my collection of circular knitting needles (I like wood for some projects, Addi turbo metal for others, and I hate straight needles — I just can’t seem to hold them as comfortably) and my 10″ sewing shears. My mother grew up moving all around the world — my grandfather was Air Force — and her family lived in Japan during her high school years. She was given a pair of these very same shears when she lived there, and years later she gifted me a pair and they are the best and only shears I will ever need. They are lightweight and super sharp, don’t pinch on my hand, and are perfectly balanced.

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

My sewing tools are scattered in many drawers, bins and baskets in my studio. It is somewhat chaotic and I certainly find myself searching for things in different places. I am not an organized person in my workspace, and as many times as I try to create places for things, and put things back after use (it sounds so simple when I write it out!), I am just not a tidy maker.

My knitting tools are fairly organized, probably because I mostly keep those at home, and there is less space to be messy in our small, one-bedroom home. My knitting needles are logged in my Ravelry and stored in folding needle cases, and my tools are in a zippered pouch in my WIP basket on the bookshelf in our den.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Alexia Abegg

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

My knitting WIPs are in an enamel wire basket on an Ikea bookshelf in our den, and I keep track of everything knitting related in a notebook and on Ravelry.

I don’t tend to have very many sewing WIPs because I usually set out needing to finish a sewing project very close to when I begin it, and that means more complete projects than WIPs. I do however have tons of fabric stash in limbo and stored waiting to become a garment, and that requires a ton of space in my studio.

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

My sewing shears I mentioned earlier are my most prized and used tool. Second to those are probably my sable paint brushes, which I actually probably take care of more carefully than any other tool I own, even my shears.

Do you lend your tools?

It depends on the tool in question, but generally speaking yes, I love connecting with my friends and family that are makers, and there is a real economy to lending each other the things we need when we need them.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Alexia Abegg

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

I love to knit absolutely anywhere, but my favorite spot is probably on our front porch in Spring when the weather is nice, before the terrible humidity hits in the summer.

I love sewing in my studio, which has plenty of room to spread out and make a mess!

What effect do the seasons have on you?

I’m a pretty year-round maker, but all of my making energy probably peaks two times a year: once at the beginning of spring, and again just after Thanksgiving. Those two times of year give me a lot of energy and creativity.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Alexia Abegg

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

When I was growing up my mom had a bumper sticker on our Toyota station wagon that read “the one who dies with the most fabric wins.” I am a shoo-in.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on my next fabric collection for Cotton+Steel at the moment. It is due at the end of March and I really love to immerse myself in each work project I take on. Whether it is a book, a new sewing pattern or a fabric line, I like to schedule time to focus deeply on that one goal for at least a couple of weeks in a row. I find I am able to break through to new ideas and creativity in ways I just can’t when I’m juggling multiple projects on a daily basis.

For fun I am knitting some socks, swatching an Ondawa in Junegrass, and making a baby sweater for my friend Sarah’s baby.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Alexia Abegg

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