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!




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?




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.



Photo by Dana, used with permission

Top posts and highlights of 2018

Top posts and highlights of 2018

The single most popular thing published on the blog this year was the Log Cabin Mitts pattern, which made me grin from ear to ear, while the Improv top-down sweater tutorial is still the most visited page overall. Other big winners were the Fringe and Friends Logalong kickoff and Summer of Basics kickoff, the Steekalong announcement and color palette suggestions, and Slow Fashion October. But beyond patterns and big events, the most popular single posts were a fun little mix:

Top 5 posts published in 2018:

1. Daniel-Day Lewis’s gansey (and the ensuing pattern suggestions and historical background
2. “World’s softest helmet” — the Pinterest hit of the year 
3. My tutorial on how I sew elastic waistbands 
4. Q for You: Do you keep a knitting journal? 
5. And a post I’d completely forgotten about the Olympic beanie knockoff patterns

Top 5 posts from the archive: (same as last year, in slightly different order!)

1. Improv: Basic pattern/tutorial for a top-down seamless sweater
2. Joining sweater parts at the underarms: Here comes the fun!
3. Pullovers for first-timers: Or, an introduction to sweater construction
4.Fringe Hatalong No. 1: Audrey by Jessie Roselyn
5. Mitts for Miss Casey aka Super Simple Mitts

My personal favorites/highlights:

I enjoyed every single thing about the Logalong, getting to see so many of your faces at Stitches West, my first 10×10 Challenge, seeing Jane Adams holding a Field Bag, teaching (and more) at Squam, committing to my mini Bullet Journal, talking breed-specific yarns with my friend Brooke Sinnes, and I am incredibly proud of this year’s Slow Fashion October. To mention but a few.

But clearly the highlight of 2018, for me personally, was my trip to Portugalmeeting Rosa and her hand-spinner, touring the wool mill, attending the sheep blessing, and every other precious minute of that remarkable, horizon-expanding trip.

And it’s also been an incredible year for Fringe Supply Co. Thanks to you and your support, there are — by my calculations — 146 families around the world receiving life-improving fiber animals through Heifer International, due to our (yours and my) donations and Heifer’s matching campaigns. That is truly incredible, and I’m so eternally grateful for the opportunity to be the conduit.

So that’s 2018 in a nutshell. I’d love to hear from you what your favorite posts or moments were! Thank you so much for the time you’ve spent here in 2018, and I’m looking forward to more great debates, challenging knitalongs and so much more in the new year!

(Speaking of Heifer, these are tough times for a non-profit, with so many disasters and crises diverting charitable giving this way and then that. I’m assuming that’s the reason why Heifer is facing a funding shortfall at the moment. If you believe in the work they’re doing to fight poverty and hunger around the globe, and can spare even a few dollars, please do take a moment to make a donation!)


PREVIOUSLY in Year-end: Favorite New Favorites, Sewing Year in Review, Knitting Year in Review

2018: My sewing year in review

2018: My sewing year in review

Last year (2017) was a year in which I really pushed myself into new territory as a sewer — sewing my first button-up shirt and even a pair of jeans. It was a thrilling, horizon-expanding sort of year. By contrast, 2018 was … well, the opposite.

My big adventure was supposed to be my navy-and-black linen Carolyn Pajamas for Summer of Basics — a challenging sew for the top, and the fun of piping on both top and bottoms. When the shorts were looking absolutely stunning (but way too small), I realized I really wanted to do full-length pants instead, and wound up off on a tangent that resulted in pants, modified shorts and a Wiksten Kimono (now known as the Wiksten Haori) in three different striped shirtings from my stash — a hodgepodge of coordinating pj parts. In the end, I’m happy enough with them, and wear them all, but still really eager to do the fancy navy-and-black duo.

For the rest, the results overall are mixed. On the one hand, I made the most-worn garment in my closet: the natural canvas pants I wear literally 3 or 4 times a week and have taken on all but one trip this year (that one being Squam Lake, where they didn’t go for obvious reasons). The recycled denim pair are worn pretty regularly, but I somehow don’t have the same level of adoration for them. On the other hand, I made the puffy short-sleeved Linden that’s already been given to a niece, followed by the long-sleeved Linden that I inexplicably cut on the cross-grain, so it stretches top to bottom instead of side to side. It doesn’t stop me from wearing it, but it does make me feel like an idiot every time! The jury is still out on the linen-cotton Carolyn pants — we’ll see if they make it into rotation this spring.

The most fun I had sewing this year was (once again) a refashion: the unfinished Clyde Jacket I had scored at last December’s Elizabeth Suzann sample sale (abandoned before its sleeves were attached) and converted into a vest. I LOVE this thing, and really enjoyed solving the puzzle of how to work with the existing style lines and seams to get the garment I wanted:

2018: My sewing year in review

But the bottom line is that I want to have a lot more fun sewing in 2019 — both in terms of using/pushing my skills and in what I use them to create. More on that to come—


PREVIOUSLY: 2017 Sewing year in review

That cable, those bags, and Elsewhere

That cable, those bags, and Elsewhere

New intel! The other morning, after my post about the Love, Actually cardigan went live, I got an email from Brooke alerting me that Churchmouse had coincidentally featured a scarf in their newsletter that morning with the same sort of “stockinette cable,” as I called it — although this one is a braid. I love it when stuff like that happens. So if you want to know more about that type of cable, or try it out in scarf form, check out their Reversible Cable Scarf. (photo above, top) And then I also got an email from hawkeyed reader Cindy who happened to know that the cardigan was originally designed by Nicole Farhi for her F/W 2002 collection. The closure is different and no pockets, so I’m guessing they made those changes for the RTW version, but that is definitely The Sweater! (And there were some outstanding cowls in that show as well.)

There was also a lot of meat in the comments on Wednesday’s Hot Tip: Resist the twist post, so go check that out if you haven’t seen it!

Other than that, here’s Elsewhere:

Knitting bags by Fringe Supply Co.

IN SHOP NEWS: We’ve got Bury Me and Knitting Necessities totes back in stock. The Holiday “Hank” Field Bag miiiight last the weekend, but I wouldn’t wait if that’s on your wish list. And this morning at 9am CT is the next Town Bag update. Each week we still have more people vying for them than there are bags available, but this is our biggest batch yet and we’re getting closer to equilibrium as all the people who’ve bought in previous updates are no longer competing. So my fingers are crossed for everyone, but they will go in a heartbeat. We’re managing to squeeze in one more update before it’s officially too late for Christmas, which will be next Weds, so make sure you note the update details on the product listing! And we’ll also have more solid canvas Field Bags ready next week — y’all keep wiping us out!

If you missed the gift guide, now would also be a good time to peek at that.

Happy Friday everybody — I hope you have a wonderful weekend.



New kit + Towns in town + Elsewhere

New kit + Towns in town + Elsewhere

Hello, Friday! It’s an exciting day over at Fringe Supply Co. — we’ve got a new Stowe Bag Kit from our friends at Verb, a kit for bags so pretty that photos can’t even convey the hand-loomed khadi, naturally dyed, sashiko-stitched gorgeousness. The kit is available now in three different color/fabric combos, and we do have limited quantities of them — it would make a beautiful gift either in either kit or bag form. And it just so happens Jen at Grainline is hosting a Stowe sewalong on her blog in December!

BUT WAIT, there’s more! We’ll also have this week’s Town Bag update at 9am CT. That one’s a little tricky due to overwhelming demand, so take a second to read the notes on how it will work. And if you don’t get lucky this morning, we will have more next week! We’re doing all we can to catch up with demand, and are grateful for your patience and determination in the meantime.

We also passed the six-year mark this week, and I marked the occasion by updating our About page, if you’re new-ish here or would like to know more about the history and mission of Fringe. We’ve come a long way these past few years! And I’m so eternally grateful for your support.

Now how ’bout a little Elsewhere:

This story of a quest to make an American flannel literally brought tears to my eyes (thank you, Sarah!)


– And back to awesome

A holiday garland I can get behind

– I’m officially not alone in my love of the dickey as all-day wear

– This week in Podcasts I’d Like Time To Listen To: Thread & Ladle

– Same goes for Gretchen Rubin on Love to Sew!

– The “Wiksten Kimono Jacket” is now the “Wiksten Haori” — cheers to Jenny for undertaking that (see also: Jamie & The Jones) and to @little_kotos_closet who was instrumental in both name changes

– Do you have a charitable knitting/crochet project? You might be able to win yarn for it

– Currently loving hats with a bit of mohair mixed in: exhibit A and exhibit B

Have a cozy weekend, everyone!


PREVIOUSLY in Elsewhere: More comfort, more gauge range, and a spot of macramé