Aiding Sally Fox, swatching buttonholes and more Elsewhere

Do you know about Sally Fox of Vreseis? (I hope you do, as she comes up around here from time to time.) Sally is a legend in the fiber world, having spent decades developing naturally colored cotton plants, pursuing climate-beneficial farming, supplying the wool for one of my favorite yarns, Pioneer, among so many other things. Her farm is in the path of the wildfire that’s currently blazing near Sacramento, and she has had to evacuate and relocate her sheep to an irrigated pasture where they’re hopefully safe, but all at great expense and jeopardy. If you would like to help, you can do so by ordering any of the amazing goods she offers in her shop, or by making a direct donation. Don’t miss the heartmelting story of Sally’s generosity to one knitter in @beththais’ IG story. And you can keep abreast of developments by following @vreseis on Instagram. My heart goes out to everyone affected by the fires, and this is one way to be able to help someone who does so much good work in the world. (photo above, top)

Beyond that, Elsewhere:

– “So if I can feel joyful in mismatched wrinkled linen with dark lipstick and silver temples in June well, then, that’s what I want to wear. Not because someone told me I’d feel joy but because I discovered it.”

Have you ever done any buttonhole swatching? (I have, but rarely) (See also: What is your favorite buttonhole method?) (photo above, bottom)

Truck driver replaces smoking habit with knitting (via)

I’d like to take a turn on the scarf-knitting bike (thx, Barb)

– As a Danish-modern furniture aficionado, how did I never know about the knitting chair? (via)

– Belatedly, I love this mini tribute to Eugene Wyatt, who I first learned about during Clara Parkes’s Great White Bale project several years ago. RIP, Mr. Wyatt — wish I’d gotten to meet you. (Dear Clara, if by chance you see this: Any way you might make those Bale posts available to the public at this point? As a subscriber, I know I would not mind a bit — so much amazing info in that odyssey.)

– And another good overlap KAL for Summer of Basics: see Plucky’s #thedogwalkerkal

Happy weekend, everybody!


PREVIOUSLY: New tote + Elsewhere

Early summer outfits: Summer layers

Early summer outfits: Summer layers

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since moving to a place where summer happens and trying to locate myself in that, it’s that what makes me feel most like myself is layers. And that the onset of summer doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning that entirely. This is, after all, a land of air conditioning. I also have an insanely and thrillingly intense June ahead of me — two patterns due, two big trips to plan (and pack) for, lots of exciting stuff in the pipeline for Fringe Supply Co., an urgent need to compress a whole lot of work into the gaps of an unusual amount of travel, and thus even greater need than ever to not have to think about what to wear as I head into each action-packed workday while I’m home. So my early summer uniform is a necessarily simple formula: sleeveless layers.

Nearly all of the outfits below still work if you peel off the top layer when needed, so there you have my deep summer strategy! You may notice a discrepancy between the first “modeled” outfit up there and the garment lineup just below it. I had a moment with that floral top yesterday and an interesting discussion about it over on Instagram. But the bottom line is: that outfit needed a different top!

This round of Closet Rummy™ is far from exhaustive (and this is only using 24 of the 34 garments), but it’s demonstrative of how my [vest/smock + sleeveless/cami + pants] formula might play out in the coming weeks. For details on all of the garments pictured, see yesterday’s summer closet inventory.

Early summer outfits: Summer layers
Early summer outfits: Summer layers
Early summer outfits: Summer layers
Early summer outfits: Summer layers

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see how many outfits I can make with those orange Everlane shoes I can’t stop thinking about …


PREVIOUSLY in Summer ’18 Wardrobe: Closet inventory

Summer ’18 wardrobe: Closet inventory

Summer ’18 wardrobe: Closet inventory

Across the top row of this grid are what I’m calling the fixer-uppers: four pieces that need a bit of work before they can actually factor into my summer wardrobe. But I’m including them here in my summer closet edit anyway, as motivation to get it done:

– The tuxedo-pleated and ruffled cotton top is a garment I think of as a summer closet necessity. I always and forever love a sweet eyelet or ruffled white top (such as the one seen yesterday), paired with camo or faded jeans or beat-up khakis. I’ve been missing this element the past few years because I have this one, from J.Crew many years ago, which hasn’t been wearable for a while but I haven’t managed to replace. So I’ll be making that a priority and using this one as a stand-in when it comes to making outfit projections tomorrow. This one needs a dye job if it’s to continue on, so that’s two priorities in one photo: dye this one and make its white ruffled replacement.

– The (formerly) white linen shell is the one that got in with the blue load of laundry and now needs to be dyed a more decisive blue.

– The unfinished Clyde Jacket was a sample-sale score late last year, and I need to carve out and finish off some nice deep armholes to make it a super-funtional smock-vest.

– The jeans. They’re too thin to patch and too dear to let go, so I’ve got them on the waitlist with Indigo Proof! I’m hoping Rain can shore them up sufficiently, and hoping to have them back before the summer is over.

As those are fixed, they’ll join these ranks:


Camisoles in green, indigo and black ikat
Meg-made sweater tee
Sweatshirt vest
– Linen muscle tee (Everlane 2017, available again at the moment)
Sleeveless tee in striped hemp jersey and black hemp jersey
Blue-striped shell (also: black silk gauze version)
– Dotted chambray tunic (Endless Summer, made by a friend)
Blue striped Fen top
Plaid top
Black chambray top
Chambray button-up
– Tobacco linen tunic (Nade 2016, no longer available)


– Denim vest (J.Crew, ancient)
Black Anna vest
– Smock x 3 (State Smocks, upcycled, available on repeat — mine are all from 2017)

Also my beloved old trench-style vest (J.Crew c. 2010) seen here.


Canvas wide-legs
Recycled denim wide-legs
– Clay wide-legs (Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Culotte, made in Nashville, sample sale 2017)
Camo wide-legs
Denim wide-legs
– B/w palazzos (Ace&Jig 2017, no longer available)
– Chinos (J.Crew 2015/16, no longer available)
– Linen palazzos (Elizabeth Suzann Florence, made in Nashville, sample/modified 2017)
– natural denim jeans (Imogene+Willie, 2016, made in LA, no longer available)
– dark cropped jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, 2016, made in LA, no longer available)

I’ve pulled out those old J.Crew chinos again, gonna give ’em another go, and I’ve got the b/w Ace&Jig pants in here but I think I may be selling them. They’re just a little too big, and combined with how gauzy/flowy they are, it’s a bit much for me.


Whoops, no, not factoring in any dresses right now. While I’m sure I’ll wear some of them — especially when we get into the thick of the summer soup — they’re not just key players for me, so I figure I might as well not fool myself about it.


– Sneakers (Veja Wata, brand new!)
– Faux-snake flats (J.Crew 2017, made in Italy, no longer available)
– Tan flats (Solid State Studios, 2017, handmade in LA, custom order)
– Black huaraches (Nisolo Ecuador, 2017, responsibly made in their own factory)
– Tan sandals (J.Crew, c. 2009)
– Black sandals (Jane Sews, 2016, no longer available)
– Black patent flat clogs (No.6 Alexis, made in US, brand new!)

Of the 34 garments pictured, I’ve made 17 over the past five years (that’s half! plus one linked but not pictured); 2 were made for me by friends; 4 were made locally; 2 were made in LA; 3 are upcycled/refashions; 1 is from eminently transparent Ace&Jig; 1 is from Everlane, who swear they only uses the good factories so, y’know, fingers crossed; and 3 of the remaining four are from more than 5 years ago (the other one being a couple-few years old). Like I keep saying: It’s a slow process, building up a slow closet, but this is proof that if you keep at it over the course of a few years, it can be done!

All that aside, check out this lineup alongside yesterday’s mood board. How in-the-zone am I?

Summer ’18 wardrobe: Closet inventory

PREVIOUSLY in Summer ’18 Wardrobe: Mood and color








Jenny Gordy’s shirt, mitts kits & Elsewhere

Round-up of links for knitters and sewers

The most-answered question of the week was my open-ended Q about moths; I’m planning to read through it all today/tomorrow, but thank you so much for all the in-depth responses! The most-asked question of the week would be regarding that cute striped shirt Jenny Gordy was wearing in her Our Tools, Ourselves photos — lots of people wondering if there’s a sewing pattern for it. According to Jenny, it’s a Madewell shirt from a few years ago (i.e., no longer available), and the closest pattern I know off the top of my head is the Kalle Shirt + Shirtdress pattern, pictured above, from Closet Case Patterns. (Which happens to also be on my shortlist of contenders for Summer of Basics!) It doesn’t have the neck gathers like the one on Jenny, but you could easily replace the center-back pleat with gathers back there. And maybe widen the cuffs at the sleeves.

Also, Verb has restocked the beautiful Log Cabin Mitts kits (pattern here) in their incredible Range rambouillet, which is a truly exceptional small-batch yarn that sadly won’t be repeated, so if you desire a kit (or skeins) hop on it!

Other than that, Elsewhere:

– Such an important subject I’ve been trying to figure out how to bring up, PLEASE READ: The cost of a knitting pattern

– For those of us who are likely never going to make our own: Responsibly made underwear

– All the praise hands for Lynn Zwerling of Knitting Behind Bars

– Fashion over-consumption is “a monster of our own creation. But there seems to be a growing (and welcome) consensus that it’s time to cut off its head.

– “You get it from your mother.” Well, yes and no.

– And congratulations to Katrina Rodabaugh! Can’t wait to get my hands on her book. (To which I contributed a little quote, full disclosure.)

Have the most amazing weekend, everybody! I’ve got some secret knitting to finish up. ;) How about you?


PREVIOUSLY: Jane Adams and Elsewhere

Jane Adams and Elsewhere

Jane Adams and Elsewhere

Before we get to today’s links, can we talk about this photo above?! It’s a screengrab sent to me by eagle-eyed reader Katie G, who spotted actress Jane Adams (who will always be Niles Crane’s second wife, Mel, to me — love her!) holding a Fringe Supply Field Bag on the set of Sneaky Pete. (Before I forget to tell you, there’s another batch of Toffee in the shop!) This was in the behind-the-scenes extras from the last episode, and I haven’t watched the second season — didn’t even know she was on the show — so I’m dying to know: Is she in costume here? Is that scarf something Jane Adams knitted and this is her own Field Bag? Or is the character a knitter, meaning is there a chance that bag is part of her costume and might appear in the show? I have got to know! Either way, Katie, thank you SO MUCH for sending this to me. Crazy.

Ok, Elsewhere—

– Do you guys know about The School of Life? (One of my favorite fascinations from the past that I’d somehow forgotten about.) I just ordered this and can’t wait to read it: “This essay explores the way we can grow disenchanted with our immediate circumstances and pine for what is exotic, costly and out of reach, and gently returns us to ourselves, full of new found wonder and gratitude. Combining literature, economics and sheer good sense, Why We Hate Cheap Things reawakens us to the world around us and to the latent beauty and interest of what we have.”

Knitting machine meets 3D printing

How to clean out your closet responsibly

– A sewing machine cover is a thing I keep saying I need to make or buy; this tutorial makes me actually want to make it!

Super cute Willow dress hack

Mind. Blown.

– and this might suck me into the whole Alabama Chanin thing

Happy weekend, everyone!





“Karen, where are your me-made jeans?”

"Karen, where are your me-made jeans?"

Today is the start of Fashion Revolution Week (yesterday having also been Earth Day) and I thought it seemed like a good time to answer a question I’ve been hearing a lot, not at all surprisingly, which is always some variation on “Karen, do you wear the jeans you made?” Of all the old fast-fashion habits that have posed assorted challenges as I’ve rewired my brain these past few years, jeans have been one of the biggest hurdles — and victories.

In January of 2016, I bought my first pair of jeans since the decision to try to create a more responsible wardrobe. They came from J.Crew’s made-in-LA line called Point Sur, and at something like $125 (I think I got them on sale), they were a big leap for me, as I’d always bought a lot of jeans, cheaply. When I gave in to stretch denim for a few years, I bought the $45 kind at the J.Crew outlet store, and for real denim I would buy $20 men’s jeans from Old Navy. Neither of which would last very long — so how much was I really spending to feed my jeans habit, right? I just checked that great closet clean-out post that set me on this path, and at that time I had 13 pair of jeans, which was probably fairly average, and I would guess most were less than 2-3 years old. They were donated or taken to the consigment shop at that time, and only two pair made the move from CA to TN — the two ultra-faded pairs you’ve seen me post about mending over the past few years. One of them (made of good denim) is now 15+ years old, and the other (the cheaper Old Navy variety) more like 5 or 6, but neither of them is reinforced enough to be wearable at the moment. So back to Jan 2015: I needed jeans, could not imagine making them or investing in even more expensive jeans with even more transparent origins, so I went with the Point Sur pair. And I made the commitment to wear them for weeks or months between washes and really make them fade in a very personal way, and more important, really make them last.

In January 2017, having not bought another pair of jeans in the year since, I made the bigger leap and bought a pair of men’s jeans from local brand Imogene+Willie, whose jeans are now sewn under their supervision in LA rather than still here in Nashville, using Cone Denim from North Carolina. (Cone NC has recently closed, sadly — so I’m not sure what happens next.) These were a whopping $235, but with them came a discount code for another pair at 40% off, so I reasoned that if I averaged the costs of two pairs, another year apart, I could do it. Same thing: Wear without washing as much as possible, making the fading and degrading process a slow one. (A year later when the discount code arrived, I decided it was counterproductive to buy another pair just to get the discount, when I didn’t need them. Such a grownup!)

Then in September of last year, I sewed my own jeans, again out of rigid dark denim. At that point, I realized — because I was taking such good care of the other two, they were both still quite dark and new looking — that I now had three pair of dark blue jeans, and no faded old friends to wear. I want each of these three to last me for years — remember I have a 15-y-o pair awaiting another round of mending, so that sets the bar — and I don’t want to be in the position again where my jeans are all at the end stage at the same time.

So I decided to phase them in. This winter, I basically only wore the first pair, the Point Sur, wearing them any time I was in the mood for jeans, and washing them next to never so they could start to take on my personal wear pattern. Which they are! They’re starting to get good, and are no longer that stark, dressy blue.

The I+W’s have been worn enough in the past 15 months that they’ve softened a bit and are starting to feel more like mine, but are so far showing no real break in the dye at all — they’re still a perfectly even dark blue, just not quite as dark as they started out. So as the Point Sur pair continues to lighten up, I’ll start to wear the I+W’s more. (I did choose them for my 10×10, you may recall.) And not until they start to show some wear and some fade, probably another year from now, will I really start to phase in my handmades. So that’s why you haven’t been seeing them in my wardrobe planning or outfit posts.

They’re in waiting.

The other day, Bob came into my little workroom holding a pair of rigid denim jeans he had bought from J.Crew a year or two ago. (As I recall, they were actually made in the US, of Japanese denim.) “Do you want these? They’re too small for me.” I exclaimed that I most certainly did not! My three pairs are feeling like an embarrassment of riches to me — more than plenty. But he knows me. “They seem like they’ll fit you, and they need a new owner … .” So I tried them on, and omigod, they fit EXACTLY like my beloved old 15-y-o mended pair do, my all-time favorites. Like replicas. So of course I agreed to give them a home in my closet. But they’ve been added to this slow-rotation plan of mine, so it may be a couple of years before they start to see the light of day …


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion: 10×10 Challenge: Lessons learned


10×10 Challenge: Lessons learned

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

The just-completed Spring 10×10 Challenge, my first time doing one of Lee Vosburgh’s 10x10s, was a little more challenging than I expected — in large part due to the fact that these are almost all the same garments from my personal 20×30 thingy last October, so my extra challenge was to try to find new ways to wear the same old pieces … and not feel bored. I.e., the perennial challenge of a smaller, longer-lasting wardrobe. I did manage to put these pieces together in ways I hadn’t before, and I did also get bored. But here are some things I learned and views I had vividly reinforced along the way—

1. A good pair of shoes is everything. These handmade flats were an investment I made late last year — my birthday gift/holiday bonus to myself — and they made everything here look more current and interesting than would otherwise have been the case. It’s a long-held view of mine that a change of footwear is the easiest way to breathe new life into old clothes, and I think that’s infinitely more important when you’re trying to take a Slow Fashion approach to your wardrobe, and intend to wear things for years, not one season. I also realized how blasé I’ve been at times about how hard I can be on shoes, as I used to buy new ones so very often anyway. Wearing these so many days in a row, I realized just how precious they are to me — I mean, I got to watch Julio make them for me through his Instagram Story — and I want to be thoughtful about wearing them.

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

2. Comfort is key. I was right in October when I said prints/patterns matter (having included a stripe, a camo and a snake-print flat in that batch of items). I missed that with these 10 pieces. But even more important, comfort matters so so much to me — meaning easy-to-wear, non-restrictive clothes but also “comfort clothes” in the same sense as “comfort food.” In these 9 garments, I included only one knit, and my two pairs of pants were both jeans. I’m a big believer in knits (and not just sweaters), and even had a rule for ages that if a thing required ironing, it didn’t belong in my closet. This was a disproptionately woven mini-wardrobe for me, and that definitely got on my nerves. Especially since we had some seriously cold, damp and depressing weather along the way, which had me longing to feel comforted by my clothes. The stiff jeans almost felt punitive at one point along the way, so I was happy to have a break from them over the weekend.

3. Layers are always the right idea. During this period, we had a high of 37, a high of 82, and everything in between. Which is part of why the silk smock got 4 times as many wears as the sleeveless top — turns out the smock works nicely under a shirtjacket (awesome to have discovered!), and is warmer (and more comforting) than the sleeveless one. Going into this, I thought I might be overdoing it on top layers, but not at all.

4. Selfies are hard! I took a simple mirror selfie all ten days for my IG Story (they’re saved in my Highlights @karentempler if you’re on IG and want to see them all) and had intended to only do the occasional self-timer outfit-of-the-day situation. But I realized I wanted to try to have all 10 ootd’s in the end, plus I’ve had a general aim for myself to get more comfortable having a camera pointed at me, so I added that to the overall challenge. I managed to take one for all but Day 2 (seen above only as garments), and omg I was so over it by the end! But I’m glad I did it — it was good practice, and I even like a few of them. My husband took the best pic, though, when I cheated on Day 8, below.

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

(On the 8th Day, above, I cheated. It was 35 degrees and I also couldn’t face my jeans for going out to dinner, so I wore my denim toddlers and boots with my Eliz Suzann silk smock and coat, and toffee Log Cabin Mitts. I’ll tell you about the cowl in this next pic tomorrow— )

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

5. Flexibility, as in life, is a necessity. I had said at the outset that I was only including one pair of shoes in the official count, but expected to have to sub in my rain boots on occasion. That did prove true, along with the emotionally and weatherly mandated Day 8 cheat.

10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

6. I love not having to think about getting dressed! And yet still looking put together day after day. The more Closet Rummy™ I play, the more lost I am without my little outfit grids to consult in the morning. As a small business owner, I am pretty much always on decision overload, and not having to decide what to wear in the morning is a genuine help. (I eat the exact same breakfast every weekday for the same reason.) For the 10×10, I made myself a little set of suggestions and taped them into my mini bullet journal, which kind of cracked me up (so I enshrined it at the end). And even though I did change up a few things along the way, I felt a little bereft the following day when there was no handbook of what to put on!

7. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This was the biggest surprise. Rather than fixating on (or even thinking about) what new stuff I might like to make or buy, this whole thing left me excited about so many of the beloved clothes in my closet, and the chance to wear them again! Of course, there is still that whole no-sleeves problem, but I’m starting to solve it!

All in all, worth doing. Did you participate, or have you before? What did you get out of it?

. . .


10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned
10x10 Challenge: Lessons learned

The garments represented, by number of wears—

7 WEARS: blue jeans (Imogene+Willie)
4 WEARS: black silk smock (Elizabeth Suzann 2017, no longer available)
3 WEARS: black linen-wool cardigan
3 WEARS: army shirtjacket 
3 WEARS: white smock (State the Label)
3 WEARS: natural jeans (Imogene+Willie 2016, no longer available)
2 WEARS: ancient denim shirtjacket (J.Crew, c.2003)
2 WEARS: blue button-up
1 WEAR: black silk gauze shell

And 7 WEARS for the tan flats (Solid State Studios, no longer available), since I wore my rain boots twice and my nice boots out to dinner on freezing day 8.

*Not included in the original 10 pieces


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Me and the Spring 10×10 Challenge