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!)

Conversely

– 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!

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

Winter ’18 closet inventory

Winter ’18 closet inventory

I had this notion that I could get away with not doing a closet inventory for this winter (for myself or to share) — just to say “hey, I have a few new things; recently did a whole sweater inventory; will work off last year’s mostly unworn Deep Winter Outfits (not enough deep winter last year); and here are a few new outfit ideas.” But when I got up to my elbows in trying to do that (by which I mean, up to about 2000 words), I realized too much has changed. Between my Slotober-inspired closet cleanout, some new things I’ve made this year, some of last year’s key pieces being dyed or deaccessioned, my recent Everlane staples order (itemized below), and my not being the exact same person I was a year ago (or last week), it’s really a different ballgame. I needed to do the inventory to get my head around what I’m working with. So here it is! And I’m feeling pretty good about the resonance between this and my mood board. (All-new outfits tomorrow.)

TOPPERS

Toffee cable dickey
Plum Anna vest
Black Sloper sleeveless turtleneck
Navy mod-Clyde vest (Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Jacket 2017, refashioned)
Army shirtjacket (J.Crew 2014, refashioned)
– Denim shirtjacket (J.Crew c.2003)

TEES & TOPS

– White graphic sleeveless tee (Everlane 2018, printed by me)
Grey wool muscle tee
Black silk gauze shell
– Grey and black long-sleeve tees (Everlane, new)
– Black silk tie-neck blouse (Everlane, new)
Plaid top
– Black silk smock (Elizabeth Suzann 2017, made in Nashville, no longer available)
– Chambray work shirt (secondhand)
Chambray button-up

The new little black Everlane top doesn’t look like much on the hanger, but it is so pretty and versatile. I’m as excited to wear it with a cardigan and jeans as to a fancy holiday dinner out.

PULLOVERS

Grey wool knit pullover
Grey sweatshirt
– Black sweatshirt (Everlane, new)
– Blue cashmere pullover (Everlane, new)
Ivory aran-gansey
Striped raglan
Fisherman sweater
Grey cline sweater
Charcoal sorta swoncho
Black yoke sweater

I could have sewn the two long-sleeve tees above and the black sweatshirt here (I already have the Lark Tee and Linden Sweatshirt patterns in my possession) but am happy not to have had to. The blue sweater I could also theoretically have made, but it’s about a billion stitches and I would never knit such a thing. This may be the first sweater I’ve bought since learning to knit — certainly the only one in five years or more — and it does feel soulless, but it also feels easy and warm and comfortable and greatly needed, and I expect it to be with me for a good long time. Also worth noting: The sweatshirt and sweater are both thin enough to wear like t-shirts — under cardigans and jackets — during the coldest part of the year.

CARDIGANS

Vanilla cardigan
Camel cardigan
Purple cardigan
Black cardigan
Mushroom shawl-collar

PANTS & JEANS

Natural canvas wide-legs
– Clay wide-legs (Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Culotte, made in Nashville, sample sale 2017)
– Recycled denim wide-legs
– Denim wide-legs
– Natural denim jeans (Imogene+Willie, 2016, made in LA, no longer available)
– Threadbare jeans (Old Navy c. 2013)
– Cropped jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, 2016, made in LA, no longer available)
– Other dark denim jeans

SHOES

Not pictured, but basically all I’ll be wearing the next couple of months are my boots. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed — of if I’ve ever noted — but I rely heavily on tan footwear. I typically don’t wear any colors from the warm side of the color wheel; I only wear neutrals, blues, greens and bluer purples. (The red-purple Anna Vest is the warmest thing in my closet.) So my mostly unconscious way of balancing all the cool tones is to incorporate shades of tan and camel and caramel and such, often in the way of shoes. I have sandals and flats in lovely shades of tan (and last summer went so far as to buy those amazing orange sandals!) but somehow since moving to Nashville I have only bought black boots. As much as I miss the tan effect in winter, I haven’t found the dream pair, but I finally broke down and bought the Everlane Modern Chelsea Boots in cognac, just based on how much I love my black pair. They’re not actually in my hands yet, but I can’t imagine there being anything wrong with them when they arrive.

. . .

So this is 39 garments (26 of them handmade or modified!), but in reality there are maybe 20 that will be crucial and worn on repeat, and a few that will be worn only a couple of times, whether due to weather or favoritism. For instance, there are 8 pairs of pants here, but on any given day the real question is: Am I wearing my natural wide-legs or my Point Sur jeans. Maybe I’ll do a wear count this season.

(ICYMI: How to make a closet inventory)

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PREVIOUSLY in Winter 2018 Wardrobe: Queue Check November 2018

Queue Check — November 2018

Queue Check — November 2018

I did that thing where I convinced myself I was going to come home from my Thanksgiving road trip with nearly finished front and back pieces for Bob’s sweater vest. (Details on the pattern and yarn here.) Instead, of course, I knitted about two inches on the drive to Atlanta, an inch on the drive back, and not a stitch while we were with my family. Too many meals to prepare, kids to fling around, dominoes games to lose. But I have, at least, done my alt-gauge math and made it into the armhole shaping on both pieces, so it’s downhill from here!

Which means it’s about time to decide what I’m casting on for myself when this is done. As you know, I’ve been deliberating. And deliberating some more. Based on the notes in my mood board post last week and an assessment of my stash — as I continue to make slow but steady progress on my cleanout — I’ve got three yarns vying for my attention.

LEFT SKEIN: While I was at Tolt a few weeks ago, I bought a skein of black Luft to swatch with for another Grete, and when I got home a box arrived from my sweet friends at Woolfolk with enough to finish the job. This one is pretty much a sure thing, so very likely the next project on my needles. All there is to think about is the mods I want to make this time, beyond what I did with my first one.

MIDDLE SKEIN: The Our Yarn I’ve been saying I want to use for a Carbeth Cardigan, amplified by my trying on Shannon’s on that same trip. Shannon’s was knitted in the soft black Quarry and it really felt like a sweater that belonged in my closet, so as confident I am that I would absolutely love it in the toffee, I’m questioning whether I’ll regret not making a replica of the sweater that felt so entirely perfect to me. Especially since I also have other ideas for the toffee.

RIGHT SKEIN: The other sweater quantity in my stash that’s crying out the loudest is the YOTH Neighbor I bought at Stitches West back in February. I really love this nubbly, heathery wool and am dying to knit it up, but I’m also being mindful about my quest for less warm sweaters, which led me back to Kram, which has been on my shortlist for three years. I’m leery of these kinds of sweaters (basically triangular garments meant to sit on a square frame), so I still regret not trying on Tank’s when I had a chance at Knitting With Company two years ago, but it looked great on her and the fact that I’ve had it in mind for so long is a good sign. I’d probably need to hold this yarn triple, and believe I have just enough to pull that off, but I’m also considering holding an ivory or lighter blue with it to brighten up the color, since this is a pretty grey blue.

And then there’s the sewing queue. Writing about my wool muscle tee the other day made me think I might want to make another with the toffee-colored wool I have in stash, which was actually woven from the same yarn above. And fueled by the winter mood board, I pulled this purple fabric off my shelf. It’s a gorgeous deep eggplant with patterning in a lighter shade of lilac, woven in Thailand. I bought it a few years ago at Craft South when they had a pop-up with a woman who buys indigenous textiles on her global travels. (I can’t remember her name or brand!) I’ve been waiting for it to tell me what it wants to be, and I’m now thinking a pretty little sleeveless top of some sort. This fabric will go with every cardigan I own (including the to-be-steeked purple lopi) as well as my army and denim shirtjackets, and a little sleeveless top is of course useful year-round. I don’t know what exactly, but I’m picturing something feminine, with maybe a little gathering or pleating at the waist? If I can find the right pattern, I might have the time next weekend, and it would be my idea of a perfect little #sewfrosting project, just in time for the holidays.

(Fringe Town Bag and Lykke needles from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: October 2018

Winter Wardrobe problem solving

Winter Wardrobe problem solving

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking out loud here the past few weeks — have you noticed? — and think I’m very close to having a fully formed thought (lol) about how to solve the fundamental problem of my winter clothes being too warm, on the whole. Last week it felt like less of a problem: It was in the 30s and gloomy and rained like it might never stop. But this week we’re back in the 50s and 60s, the trouble zone for me. I’ve come to realize, though — in the midst of my closet cleanout — that it’s a classic case of missing connective tissue that’s fairly easily resolved. In addition to the sort of layering that the dickey has inspired, I’ve been thinking about what it means to have sweaters that are less hot, even if they are wool, which means finer gauge things, shapes that don’t hold in heat (such as the breezy Big Rubble I got from Meg), more abbreviated proportions (shorter, smaller, cropped, whatever), and — ta da — sleeveless! And we know I have plenty of sleeveless sweaters.

I wear those sleeveless things mostly when I can get away with being sleeveless, and what I’ve been missing to make them work in cooler weather is basically just long-sleeve tees, which I haven’t wanted to make — or had the time to. The other day it dawned on me there are these things called stores where you can buy clothes that are already made and ready to wear (seriously, it’s like I forgot!), so I went to Everlane and ordered a couple of skinny long-sleeve tees that will instantly change the equation considerably. But I’ve drawn up the sketches above to illustrate a few of the thoughts I’ve been having:

TOP LEFT: I made that wool knit muscle tee last year to wear under things and found it a tiny bit itchy for that purpose. I’ve since realized it’s fine with my linen sleeveless tee under it (which has become otherwise problematically thin), so it will work with cardigans and such as intended. But I also discovered it’s great over things — like the black jersey turtleneck in my closet that I never wear. It should be perfect with the long-sleeve tees en route, and an excellent opportunity to add a dickey!

TOP MIDDLE: Same goes for my two Anna Vests (black and plum), which somehow don’t feel quite like me over a button-down (although I love that on everyone else) but will be great over a long-sleeve tee. And then it’s easy to add a cardigan or shirt-jacket on top of that, weather permitting.

TOP RIGHT: Same goes for my Sloper — all it needs for extended life is the right tee! Although I do love Sloper over a button-down, and will wear it that way this year as well.

BOTTOM LEFT: This is the neck blankie situation I was postulating last week, along with a shrunken raglan sweatshirt or sweater. I have my grey sweatshirt and ordered two things from Everlane that also meet this definition, if I like them when they arrive. Otherwise (or maybe anyway) there’s another Linden sweatshirt in my future. I’m still debating the cowl but between this and yesterday’s mood board, I was inspired to pull out my eggplant State Street Cowl and take it for a spin.

BOTTOM MIDDLE: For a warmer version of the dickey situation, I was thinking about making something like a Top No. 2 in wool melton or somesuch, and realized I already have the wool knit sweatshirt thingy I made last year. I’d had that in my “maybe” pile from the cleanout and have just put it back in my closet! But still considering the other idea as well. I really like the idea of a couple of easy non-sweater pullover tops for layering with.

BOTTOM RIGHT: This is actually an outfit I wore in the cold snap last week that I want to remember: jeans, black muscle tee, dickey and cardigan. The dickey is so fantastic (obviously) under a cardigan or kimono jacket or shirt-jacket — a way to feel like I’m wearing much woolier, cozier clothes than I can actually get away with. More of that, for sure.

So those are some not-terribly-original thoughts that nevertheless lead me to a make list and some further outfit ideas, coming next week!

(Fashionary sketch templates from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Winter 2018 Wardrobe: Early Winter ’18 mood board

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

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

Friday! I’m so excited to have a real weekend, you guys, I can’t even tell you. (Cue the guitar: “Ooh, got the yarn / I’m gonna do some knitting”)

First things first: There is a hotly anticipated batch of the new Town Bag hitting the webshop this morning at 9am CT, and we also have the new MDK Field Guide: Revolution, featuring four interchangeable cable designs by none other than Norah Gaughan. AND! we now have the Lykke DPNs in standalone packs! So if you just need a set of 1s or 6s or whatever your heart desires, you can finally have that! If the bags are gone before you get there, please note that we will have more! We’re working as fast as we can to get stores restocked and keeping a small stack for ourselves each week, and I’ll keep restock dates and times listed on the page until we reach a point where we’ve gotten out in front of demand. Thank you so much for all the love for this latest brainchild.

And with that, Elsewhere:

Speaking of a bold stripe … (ref)

– The last bit of this really gets me: “I always have some small portable project that I can take with me to use as my ‘waiting’ time. This avoids me heading to my phone for my dose of dopamine (which does me no good) and instead offers me a way of including more comfort in my day.” (photo top)

These anonymous antique Chinese textile collages are so beautiful and are giving me an overwhelming urge to get back to my Log Cabin Mitts exploration … (via Jen)

This Jillian Moreno piece for MDK on why some yarns can stand to be knitted at a range of gauges is one of the best things I’ve ever read about knitting. (Did I tell you guys how many different gauges I successfully knitted Germantown in when swatching it for the Anna Vest? So fascinating when you meet a yarn like that)

– Were I in London, I’d be going straight to the Anni Albers show at the Tate

– Annual charity hat-drive time: Tiny Hats for Tiny Babies and Christmas at Sea. (Any excuse to make that 1898 Hat, so much fun.) What are others you’re a fan of? Share a link below

– My longstanding desire to make pojagi curtains for my bedroom just went into overdrive (See also)

Amazing (photo bottom left)

– And ummm, I might need to add “make macramé feathers” to my weekend list (via) (photo bottom right)

Actually, I’m not allowed to knit (or macramé, for that matter) until I make a further dent in my sewing room/closet cleanup, which is solidly in the “worse before it gets better” phase. But then: Ooh yeah, knitting. I hope you have a peaceful weekend!

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PREVIOUSLY: New pattern, new muse, and Elsewhere

Q for You: How many clothes do you make/buy each year?

Q for You: How many clothes do you make/buy each year?

Last weekend, I tackled the closet cleanout challenge for Slow Fashion October (you can see how far I got in my saved Story), and also posted on Instagram about having gone about 6 months without buying a single solitary garment or shoe — 100% unintentionally and unknowingly — and how since then (in the past 11 months total) all I’ve bought is four t-shirts and four pair of shoes, plus a piece of outerwear. (I guess I can use the word “vest” for it, but it seems so inadequate!) In thinking about that, I asked myself whether I was so content and oblivious because I was adding clothes to my closet through making instead of buying. We’ve talked about the fact that if you’re making your own clothes, it’s essentially impossible to acquire them at a typical shopping rate — it’s inherently slower. But looking back through the same period, I’ve knitted two sweater vests (sweatshirt vest and plum Anna) and a pullover, and sewn two sweatshirts (short-sleeved and long-sleeved, both not quite right!) and two pair of pants (recycled denim and natural canvas). If you count the outerwear vest and the yet-to-be-seamed blue Bellows, I’ve added a grand total of 12 articles of clothing to my closet in 2018. Add in the pajamas I made during Summer of Basics and it’s a whopping 15! I wish I had some way of knowing what my lifetime average was up until last year, but I can tell you it’s a long way from 1-ish garments per month. And yet, somehow, even this list of items seems almost excessive to the me I’ve gradually morphed into over the past few years. I find the whole thing mind-boggling.

And for the first time since beginning to knit, I’m taking as long to pick my next sweater project as it would have taken me to knit one!

Who am I?!

Last night I was reading this bizarre piece on newyorker.com that was sent to me by a #slowfashionoctober friend, about how Rent the Runway has pivoted from special-occasion wear to become a source of everyday clothes for tens (hundreds?) of thousands of women. The article opens with a sort of suggestion that it has something to do with the slow fashion movement, but I have a hard time seeing how a company that’s buying up thousands upon thousands of garments of questionable origin and shipping them endlessly around to one person after another after another after another (with dry cleaning in between each) is any kind of antidote to the ills of fast fashion. NEVERTHELESS, it opens with some mind-boggling stats: “Each year, as Hyman is fond of pointing out, the average American buys sixty-eight items of clothing, eighty per cent of which are seldom worn; twenty per cent of what the $2.4-trillion global fashion industry generates is thrown away.”

Sixty-eight items of clothing per year? As an average?! At my most gluttonous, I’m certain I never bought 68 items of clothing in one year. And obviously making anywhere near that number is hilarious to even consider. All of which brings me to my Q for You: How many articles of clothing do you add to your closet in a year? And what percentage of them do you make versus acquiring them through other means? I know not everyone is in the habit of assessing their closet in the sort of gory detail I do for this blog, so I don’t assume you know exactly, but what’s your best guess? Or a range. As always, there’s no right or wrong answer! I’m just. So. Curious.

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I look forward to your responses, and wish you a happy weekend. I’ll be back to sorting through my piles if anyone wants to join me! I’ve got a really great closing interview lined up for Monday, and plenty more yarny posts to come next week!

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PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: When do you give up on a WIP?

Slow Fashion October, week 4: What needs fixing? [with Katrina Rodabaugh]

Slow Fashion October, week 4: What needs fixing? [with Katrina Rodabaugh]

For this last full week of Slow Fashion October, I want to focus on that “maybe” pile you pulled from your closet during the cleanout, or the stack you likely already have sitting around somewhere — the near-misses, worn out favorites or should’ve-beens that you’re having trouble letting go of, either out of regret or sentimentality or maybe, just maybe, because there’s a way to turn them a pile of “yes.” (And by the way, we’re having the critically important conversation about how to responsibly re-home the “no” pile right here.) So this week’s interview is with our ol’ friend Katrina Rodabaugh (of the Slow Fashion Citizen interview series), whose new book Mending Matters has also just published! Katrina is such a great advocate for starting with secondhand and handmade, and then dyeing and mending as well as altering and refashioning, all ways to take something that’s not at its best for you, for whatever reason, and transform it into something you’ll genuinely love.

This week’s Action Item and Discussion Prompts revolve around this same topic, of course. And if you’re not already following @katrinarodabaugh on Instagram, mend that asap!

. . .

During the initial Slow Fashion October, one of the first things I asked people to share was the oldest/dearest thing in their closet. It was really striking how many posted a pair of shoes, and could say exactly where they got them, how long they’d had them, how many times they’d had them repaired to try to keep them going. I say striking because given the state of most shoe-repair shops these days, it seems to be a dying industry, and because I don’t think we generally take the same approach to our clothes. It seems like when something develops a hole or a stain or didn’t work out for whatever reason, our thought is simply to let it go. Why do you think that is?

I think there are two parts — I think the first part is emotional attachment and I think the second is value. Sometimes we keep garments in our closets simply because we have a sentimental or emotional connection and don’t want to let them go. The wedding dress is the classic example. But, also maybe a grandmother’s coat, a favorite sweater from college, or an outfit that a child wore repeatedly. Handmade garments fall easily into this area too because we feel invested in making them so we’re less likely to discard them.

But I think the second area is value. We keep things we value. Sometimes this means financial worth — we pay more money than usual for a garment, say a great pair of leather boots, and we’re willing to keep investing in them because of the initial financial cost of the boots. But, also value can mean how hard they were to acquire — we value them because they were hard to find or we value them because they fit perfectly. And, of course, value can mean craftsmanship or aesthetic beauty too.

There are all kind of ways to modify or update garments to breathe new life into them or make them work better for us. You’ve been posting recently about making even minor alterations to things that turned duds into wardrobe heroes. Can you give a few examples for those who maybe don’t follow your Instagram account (yet)?

I think natural dyes are a great way to reinvigorate garments. Color is amazing at transformation. So, if I purchase clothes that are biodegradable and made from cellulose (plant) or animal fibers then I can toss them into a natural dye pot when they get stained, discolored from laundering, or I just want to shift the color. Indigo dye is a great solution for cotton, linen and hemp clothing that needs a boost. Of course, mending, patching and altering clothing is a great way to reinvigorate too.

Slow Fashion October, week 4: What needs fixing? [with Katrina Rodabaugh]

Things like shortening a top or taking in a skirt or pair of pants are really easy to have done at a tailor or dry cleaner, for those who don’t have the time or skills to do it themselves. Dyeing is another possibility for transforming a tired or unloved garment, but that one’s not quite so simple or so easy to outsource. (Teenage me who had no qualms about dumping Rit dye into the bathtub is laughing at homeowner me right now.) I often wish dyers — especially natural dyers — did offer this as a service! I have at least three things right now that could use a dye job, but gathering the tools and supplies and setting it all up is something I find daunting. What are your thoughts and advice on that?

I think my role in slow fashion is really that of a teacher, writer and activist. While my tools are that of a fiber artist my passion is in helping folks to reconsider their wardrobes from a sustainable standpoint. I have a background in art and writing but I’m not a trained fashion designer. So, I’m thrilled to show someone how to dye, mend, stitch or rethink their clothing but it’s not currently my interest to take custom orders or start a clothing production line. Maybe someday, but not right now. I think it’s just about different strengths and focuses.

Some dyers might be willing to take custom work but there’s consumer education that has to happen too. Natural dyes express differently than synthetic dyes and predicting the exact outcome is often imprecise. It’s more like cooking — the ingredients vary depending on season, location, weather, water, fiber and the experience of the dyer. If the customer was willing to accept their clothing back in a range of color — not a specific shade of yellow but a yellow within a range — then I think more dyers might be interested in custom work. But we have to allow for some uncertainty and imperfection as dyers and makers — that’s the beauty and practice of the work is that it evolves and shifts.

Slow Fashion October, week 4: What needs fixing? [with Katrina Rodabaugh]

Some of my favorite projects — my own or things I’ve seen others do — are refashioning projects. Taking a garment that’s wrong in whatever way and making something else out of it. That could be a garment already in your closet (like the way-too-big Clyde dress I bought for a song at last year’s Elizabeth Suzann sample sale and haven’t yet figured out what else it might become) or a lot of clever people will hit the thrift store not just looking for great garments but for garments that have the potential to become something else. Do you think that takes a special eye, or just practice and a new way of thinking?

I love redesign. I think it’s really untapped in the fashion world — there are so many beautiful clothes to be found secondhand or even in our closets that could benefit tremendously from great redesign. I think it’s about practice and a willingness to experiment as a maker. But I really hope to see more fashion designers moving in this direction too. Especially with secondhand clothes because there is such a need to keep them from the landfills.

And then of course there’s the matter of mending, the subject of your new book. Mending is another of the lost arts, and part of why I think we dispose of even our most-loved clothes without considering if they could be saved. Most people have no idea how to “properly” darn a sock or fix a tear in a shirt. But the rise of “visible mending” has said, in effect, “you don’t have to be good at this or able to make it invisible.” It’s become cool to let your inexpert mend show and treat it as art and personalization and expression. But of course, even then, you do have to get a few basic things right for it to do the job. All of which you address in your book. Do you think visible mending is a trend or a movement?

I hope it’s a movement. When I turned my fiber arts studio towards sustainable fashion five years ago there were only a handful of menders online. And now there are hundreds of menders and so many folks integrating mending into their craft work. I hope that mending is finding its place in the craft and maker movement. It’s a great way to use hand-stitching, basic design, and a visual approach to repair. Yes, the repair needs to be sturdy — and I share all my techniques in my new book, Mending Matters — but once you have the basics you can progress quickly, like any craft.

Do you think visible mending leads people to also want to learn more about the “proper” ways (for lack of a better way of saying that!) and hone their skills? Is it a gateway hobby?

I think it’s like any other craft. I’m a beginner knitter so I’m only looking at basic knitting patterns right now but I hope to advance to more intermediate patterns and someday advanced patterns too. But first I have to learn the basics, exercise patience and just keep practicing. When I first started mending I wasn’t using the same techniques I use now. Through so much trial and error, student feedback, teaching, researching and writing I’ve developed techniques I feel really good about. But it took five years to get to this point in my mending work. If folks keep mending, they’ll make beautiful repairs with enough time.

Slow Fashion October, week 4: What needs fixing? [with Katrina Rodabaugh]

What do you think is the best, most rewarding aspect of altering/refashioning/dyeing/mending or otherwise exerting influence over your clothes?

Creative expression. Making the garments truly my own. Using the basic elements of design to repair jeans and knowing that I leave my imprint as a fiber artist on the garment. But, also being able to infuse my wardrobe with an aesthetic that feels like my art. And it’s a political statement too — better for the planet and the people.

And what’s your best advice for someone who is interested in some or all of this but has no idea how to start?

I always refer to that beautiful Arthur Ashe quote, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”. I came across that quote years ago and I’ve been using it ever since — it’s the best metaphor for sustainable fashion. Just one garment at a time.

. . .

Thank you, Katrina — I hope everyone is feeling inspired to get into fix-it mode!

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PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October: Weekend Reads