Elsewhere + Mitts No.6 (2018 FO-9)

Elsewhere + Mitts No.6 (2018 FO-9)

Before I get into today’s post, I want to say a huge heartfelt thank-you for all the nice messages and positive thoughts you’ve sent my way these past two weeks. Bob is thankfully on the mend and on the receiving end of nothing but good news and results from his doctors. He’s got a few weeks of rehab and healing ahead, and then will be back in his studio painting, and back in the pool training for the Alcatraz swim he’s had planned. So all is well, we are exiting the woods, and thank you so much. Phew!

Now, back to business: In recent days, I managed to finish up the pair of Log Cabin Mitts I was knitting in the Verb booth at Stitches West the weekend before last. (Gosh that seems like forever ago now.) This pair is made from one of the kits they had made for the booth (there are just a handful left on their site), and oh how I love this yarn. For this pair, given that I was literally knitting them on the fly and in public, I decided to totally wing it on the color placement, and just let it be freeform. Well, ok maybe not totally. The only thing I had in mind as I picked up each next color was that I had chosen the Mountains colorway — natural, super pale grey, light mushroom and a variegated grey-purple — and I did want to make a vague allusion to that in my “random” composition. I mentioned in my previous post that I’m headed into the asymmetrical part of my sketch pile, but this one isn’t even planned asymmetry, and I love how they came out. Here they are at Ravelry if you care to put a like on them!

And with that, a bit of Elsewhere:

It’s March Mayhem time at MDK! (And also the Tournament of Books, my longtime favorite March event.)

A concise but informative update to Jared’s long-ago long-form piece about the difference between woolen-spun and worsted-spun yarns

In the realm of knitalong prizes, a night at Squam is pretty up there

Love this QuiltCon People’s Choice winner

“In just 4 days, top fashion CEOs earn a garment worker’s lifetime pay”

Even prettier than an Easter egg

– and just everything about this

IN SHOP NEWS: We finally have both size sets of Lykke Driftwood DPNs back in stock! As well as the sheep scissors, which we can’t seem to replenish fast enough! We also now have all of the Mini Porters from the sewers, so when they’re gone, they’re gone.

I’ll be back next week with the first of the Logalong panel FO Q&A’s! Have a great weekend in the meantime—


PREVIOUSLY in FOs: A hat to rival Gentian





Mini Porter + Elsewhere

NEW! the Mini Porter, limited quantity

Happy Friday! First things first: There’s a fun little oddball in the webshop today, which we’re calling the Mini Porter — cutest thing ever. It’s a happy accident, basically — the lemonade we made from a batch of wrongly cut canvas that was intended for Porter Bins, so the quantity is inherently limited. Get one while they last! (Also new or back in stock of late: black Porter BinPlain & SimpleWoods and A.L.J.; Lykke Driftwood interchangeable short tips and crochet hooks both now available individually; Wool Soap!; and mini matte scissors in highly amusing sheep shape.)

And, a wee Elsewhere:

“I love your look! Who’s the farmer?”

How the Faroe Islands got their landscape onto Google Street View (hint: sheep!)*

What Brandi said

Love this interview with a bespoke jeans maker


Style muse of the week

I’ll have this crocheted blanket, and the pup to go with

– and I want to make a bullet journal so I can have a page like this

Have an amazing weekend, and remember: Just a few more weeks till I start doling out Logalong prizes! See you on the hashtag? #fringeandfriendslogalong

*gravest apologies — I’ve lost track of which of you sent me this link!








Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Happy Friday, friends and knitters. This week, Kay beat me to a Garments of the Logalong roundup (thanks, Kay!), although I believe there have been a few more shared in the meantime, including this ooh la lovely. That’s among all the other innovation and splendor you’ll find on the #fringeandfriendslogalong feed.

And beyond that, Elsewhere:

Jaw-dropping sweater-photography series (thx, Kathleen)

– I could listen to Dianna talking about Norwegian wool all day long

Small-batch Donegal tweeds, Irish linens and Scottish cashmeres making me drool

– I’m loving the slow-fashion series on the State blog: part 1, part 2

– And this beautiful sentence: “Having dressed in a way that gives fast fashion the cold shoulder, feelings of resilience, creativity, and kindness are amplified.”

This vending machine stocks embroidery and felting kits. (Still wondering why there aren’t more yarn stores in airports …)

– Beautiful Pygora goats (photo above, by Kathy Cadigan)

Everything about this photo

DG’s latest blanket has me wanting to do Purl Soho’s Color Study Blanket log cabin style

– Just ordered a copy of Loved Clothes Last (thx, Katrina)

and …

Do YOU prewash your skeins?

IN SHOP NEWS: We’ve been gradually restocking from the holidays and have gotten in too many assorted things this week for me to detail! If you’ve been looking for something in particular, take another peek. (How’s that for least helpful shopkeeper ever? But if you have a question about something specific, please ask!)

Happy weekending, everyone—




Deep Winter wardrobe: Outfits!

Deep Winter wardrobe: Outfits!

In my ongoing effort to better document how my carefully chosen and lovingly made garments are adding up to a wardrobe, I’ve been trying to take more outfit-of-the-day selfies, so I’m including a half-dozen recent ones here … even though a couple were taken before we really reached Deep Winter status. (I know — my ankles are showing!) In that last photo, I’m wearing all ready-to-wear clothes — a rarity for me these days. The boiled wool sweatshirt is from J.Crew several years ago, when I still bought the occasional unknown-origins item; the vest is the sleeveless Clyde Jacket I mentioned Tuesday having gotten at Elizabeth Suzann’s most recent sample sale; and the jeans are my two-year-old J.Crew made-in-LA ones. The denim vest in the fourth photo is also J.Crew, from years ago. In the first photo, the tunic is handmade but not by me. The rest of these clothes are all knitted or sewn by me. In three out of the six photos, I made everything I’m wearing. That is still astonishing to me every time it happens, even though it’s taken me several years of progressive wardrobe building to be able to say that.

As far as how I’m putting things together this winter, I’m in uniform mode: pick a pullover or cardigan, a top to go under it, and a pair of wide-legs or jeans. Always with the same pair of black boots. (There are some of the November pre-winter outfits that still apply, if you just swap out the flats for boots.) So, for my first hand of Closet Rummy this round, I assembled some combos for these two pullovers:

Deep Winter wardrobe: Outfits!

Then, just to see what happened, I kept the exact same set of tops/pants and just dropped two different pullovers down the line on top of them. Totally works:

Deep Winter wardrobe: Outfits!

Here are the two remaining storebought pullovers in the lineup. The big grey turtleneck is a no-brainer: Just add pants.

Deep Winter wardrobe: Outfits!

With these cardigan outfits, you can allllmost take any combo and just swap out the cardigan for any of the other cardigans and it still works. So these 10 outfits are really closer to 40:

Deep Winter wardrobe: Outfits!

And now I know what I’m wearing for the next 60+ days! Thanks for always indulging me in this little parlor game.

For details on all of the garments pictured here, see my Winter closet inventory.


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Deep Winter closet inventory






Slow Fashion Citizen: Natalie Chanin

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final installment of Katrina’s Slow Fashion Citizen column here on Fringe, and I want to express my warmest thanks to her for doing such an amazing job with it all year. Make sure you’re following her on Instagram @katrinarodabaugh to keep up with all the good she’s got going! <praise hands>

Slow Fashion Citizen: Natalie Chanin

BY KATRINA RODABAUGH // For this final installment of Slow Fashion Citizen here on Fringe, I wanted to bring you someone very special, and I’m honored for it to be one of my all-time slow fashion heroes, Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin. Someone who encapsulates the slow fashion movement — from ethics to craftsmanship, to labor practices, to materials, to innovative design, to entrepreneurship, to her overall business approach. To many of you, Natalie Chanin needs no introduction. She’s been forging the way in sustainable fashion for over a decade with her hand-stitched, Alabama-made, design-winning and absolutely stunning garments.

When I first started following Natalie’s work I was so intrigued by the stitched construction — the entire garment made by hand instead of just reserving handwork for embellishment. But as I watched her business expand to include classes, community spaces, yardage of organic cotton, machine stitched garments and so much more, I realized the profoundness of her work is not just her aesthetic, but her willingness to let ethics lead. Watching a designer push beyond the boundaries of conventional design and into the roles of community-builder, collaborator, producer and thought-leader is truly inspiring. Not to mention, it feels like the future. Not just a fashion brand for now, but one that considers people, processes and the planet for generations to come.

For those of you who’ve followed along since our first announcement of Slow Fashion Citizen in January, thank you again and again. I’ve had the tremendous pleasure of interviewing fourteen sustainable fashion leaders and I’m so grateful for your readership, thoughts, questions and community. For my final feature, the warmest welcome to the ever-inspiring and illuminating Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin. Thank you, Natalie for making the time for this exclusive interview on Fringe.

. . .

Can you tell the story of how Alabama Chanin first began — when you shifted gears as a costume designer traveling the world and moved back to your hometown in Alabama?

I never intended to create a company of my own. I cut apart a t-shirt, sewed it back together, and wore it to a party — and the next morning I woke up with a feeling of complete satisfaction. I had forgotten how good it felt to make something with my own two hands. And I wanted to create more, but I found that the techniques that I was using couldn’t be recreated in New York. The quilting stitches I had used I had learned from my grandmother and great-grandmother in Alabama, so that’s where I went to connect to an entire community of sewers and seamstresses. From there I made 200 one-of-a-kind t-shirts, and those t-shirts evolved into the business that has become Alabama Chanin.

I’ve been inspired watching the company’s journey from redesigning secondhand t-shirts to supplying yardage of organic cotton. Was it challenging to take the plunge into supporting organic cotton production and a US-based supply chain, or was it just a natural progression?

Yes and no. The entire evolution of Alabama Chanin has been a very natural progression with quality, sustainability and local production at the core. Many of those secondhand t-shirts that I found in New York were made right here in my community. Creating a supply chain that is 100% seed-to-shelf Made in the USA is challenging every day (but even more rewarding). We constantly deal with fabric shortages, events out of our control, and balancing supply and demand …

Your work has truly been revolutionary in paying artisans fair wages and keeping labor local. You contract with local artists and buy the work back from them when it’s complete. It’s true innovation. Did this model feel risky when you started the company? It still feels very bold more than a decade later.

Thank you. Every big business decision you make comes with it doubts. We come up against that each day. The artisan business model laid the foundation of the work in our community and has impacted so many, providing a way for our artisans to be their own small-business owners. The process is set up such that we don’t have as much risk — the artisans purchase the raw materials from us, and their finished garment must meet our quality standards (and deadline) in order for us to purchase the finished piece at a prearranged bid price. It the beginning, everything felt risky, but it has worked remarkably well and inspired many to follow this model in their own community. Our business could not survive without our dedicated and extremely skilled artisans.

Slow Fashion Citizen: Natalie Chanin

I love the story about why you open-sourced your first pattern designs — in reaction to a journalist suggesting your work was too expensive, if I’m not mistaken. By publishing your patterns you also tiered your offerings so folks could either buy the finished garment at a higher price, or buy your books and make the garment at home. Either requires an investment — time or money — but the wearer chooses. Was this insistence on value intentional?

The value of our products goes deeper than simply a price. We take great care in sourcing our materials to get the best quality, and all our labor is local. So much time, skill and love goes into the making of a sewn garment. Once someone tries the work themselves, they begin to understand the value of the garments. Value means so much more than just a price.

Years ago I read one of your blog posts about slow design. It really impacted my thinking about fashion, and it has stayed with me. It felt so courageous and yet somehow so practical too. Does it still feel courageous to advocate for slow fashion from within the fashion industry?

While the number of companies incorporating sustainability and ethical practices into their mission is increasing, there is A LOT that needs to happen for it to be the industry standard. We’re happy to have created conversations that have changed some minds and practices; at the same time, we’re sad that some of those conversations were started because of the cost of lives. We are proud to celebrate the beauty that comes with making slowly and mindfully.

On your website you write, “Our experiences showed us that face-to-face and hand-to-hand contact helped our customers better understand the what, why, and how of our making processes and the importance of an organic supply chain.” We’re programmed to consider “industry secrets” as something to protect, lest we bankrupt our own business by giving too much information away. Yet, you continue to publish patterns and sewing techniques, and teach classes that offer intimate insight into your design process. It seems sharing your expertise has actually strengthened your business, not threatened it, and become a priority that supports the larger community. Would you agree?

Absolutely. The School of Making is our educational initiative that preserves this way of making. The initial decision to open source our techniques and materials (and ultimately to create The School of Making) grew from our commitment to sustainability. Doing so allows us to make living arts accessible to all consumers. The global community of makers is engaged and dedicated and inspires us to keep making and doing good work.

Slow Fashion Citizen: Natalie Chanin

Your work straddles urban and rural design influences — the sophisticated silhouettes meet soulful and often nature-based embellishments in embroidery and surface design. Do you see your work as intentionally bridging the divide between urban and rural cultures — drawing from the Alabama landscape while maintaining conversation with an urban design sensibility?

Our community is in a rural setting. I grew up here, but I’ve also lived in New York, Europe, South America for a short time, and had the great fortune to have traveled the world. There is a distinct relationship between rural and urban aesthetic. Through contemporary design, we seek to lend modernity to age-old techniques. We also see this form of handwork as a way to bridge socio-economic divides. Get a group of people around a sewing table and they will find commonalities — even if it is simply a love of making.

In Alabama Chanin’s Hierarchy of Systems that supports the mission of your company you write, “7. Community (to be a benefit for the larger community in our region and around the globe).” Between 2013-2014 you opened The Factory Café and flagship store, launched the School of Making, started your machine-sewn clothing line, and opened Bldg. 14 Design + Manufacturing Series. That’s incredible. Was all of this in the name of better supporting the community in one sense or another?

Yes. We wanted to create a space for our community to shop, eat, hold meetings and gatherings. A place to interact with one another — under circumstances that they might not normally. With an emphasis on sustainable culture, education and quality goods, we create a community of sharing and idea exchange and a love of things that last. Each of these parts of our business is deeply connected to local community — guests from near (and far) can visit the store and café and see the garments and goods firsthand, and enjoy a locally sourced lunch. They can then take a tour of our facility and see our design and production studios in operation. The Factory is in service to our community, not only providing a space and programs to gather, learn and enrich lives, but all facets of our company look to provide jobs and economic development in our community.

I admire how your company aims to “complete sustainability at every stage of the manufacturing process – from materials and processes, to cultural sustainability in the form of preserving hand-sewing skills.” Was the preservation of sewing skills part of your vision of slow fashion from the beginning?

It was the moment I realized that the hand-embroidered shirts I’d been making were really little more than a quilting stitch. In that moment, I realized that this was something I learned in my childhood and, in the same moment, I understood that I wanted to go back to the community of my childhood in North Alabama. It was clear to me that I wanted to talk to my grandmother and the other ladies like her who had quilted their whole lives; I wanted to make a film about why people made quilts, and I wanted to make a small collection of hand-quilted t-shirts.

. . .

The rest, as they say, is history! Thanks so much, Natalie and Katrina. Everyone, make sure you’re following @alabamachanin and @theschoolofmaking on Instagram. And I also want to mention Natalie’s latest book, The Geometry of Hand-Sewing, which I’m eager to get my hands on! —kt

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


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion Citizen:  Jerome Sevilla (Gridjunky)

All photos provided by Alabama Chanin; photo of Natalie by Rinne Allen

THANK YOU and Elsewhere

THANK YOU and Elsewhere

I’m just back from a week in Florida with innumerable loved ones gathered together for a big family event, where I had even less time and connectivity (and knitting opportunity) than I expected — hence my spotty attendance here. Among the many things I’m thankful for at the moment, one of them is finally being able to leave the house with my waxed camo Field Bag after months and months in hiding! But what I’m seriously most thankful for today (after my lovely family) is all of you and all of the support you’ve given to me, and to this blog and to Fringe Supply Co. When I think about how my life has changed since the day I learned to knit and started to blog about it … the mind reels. And I couldn’t do it without you — so thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your ongoing support.

Since most of you are in the US and celebrating Thanksgiving today/this weekend, I’m including Elsewhere links here today and will resume normal posting on Monday!

First: Remember my post about Stella Tennant and Nov ’96 Vogue? Well, I now have both the US and UK (sorry, meant to say) Paris editions from that month in my possession, and none of those photos are in either one. There is a feature in the US one in which Stella tromps and rows around the Adirondacks, at one point wearing an ivory Ralph Lauren turtleneck very much like the one in that post, but now I’m dying to know where/when those vaunted photos were from. Some other Vogue edition of that month and year, or something else entirely? We might never know — but if you have any leads, please share them!

3 designers creating clothes for life — not the runway (thx, Claudia) — Maureen Doherty, especially, is my new idol

How to wear a yoke sweater (on the beach!)

– If you’re in a group that knits for a good cause, YarnCanada might be able to help you with some yarn

– I love these Love More mittens and what Leigh had to say about them

These Japanese dioramas blow my mind

– I’m crazy about Jen’s winter sewing plan

– I want a hat that looks exactly like this

– Congrats to Felicia on the launch of Soul Craft Festival

– and Tif has me obsessing over that Markham Collar again

What are your favorite links lately? Feel free to share!

Happy feasting, all — and if you’re in Nashville, I hope we’ll see you at the pop-up on Saturday!



Slow Fashion Citizen: Jerome Sevilla

Slow Fashion Citizen: Jerome Sevilla

BY KATRINA RODABAUGH // Today I’m thrilled to share the work of Slow Fashion Citizen Jerome Sevilla of Gridjunky. I’ve been following Jerome on Instagram for several years, and while his craftsmanship, choice of colors and fibers, and his designer’s approach to textiles make him one of my favorite creatives to watch, it’s his use of recycled fibers that actually blows my mind. He makes beautiful hats, scarves, sweaters and bags but oftentimes by unraveling a quality secondhand sweater or tenderly dissecting a family heirloom to be made into new creations. The boldness and thoughtfulness in his approach to materials is something that comes with his passion and commitment to simply make the most beautiful things.

What if the highest quality fibers are out of our price range but we don’t want to settle for their affordable counterparts? How can we shift our thinking of “new materials” and be resourceful in accessing the very best fibers anyway? In Jerome’s case, by unraveling a beautiful Banana Republic sweater or cutting into his mother’s stash of beloved table linens. Combine this discernment for materials with the trained eye of a graphic designer and a minimalist bent on what makes beautiful garments and, well, it’s a powerful result. Jerome’s drive for the most gorgeous fibers combined with his willingness to take apart the materials around him manifests in a particular magic that’s all his own. It’s a refreshing and inspiring approach to truly making Slow Fashion work regardless of budget.

. . .

I love imagining how your work as a graphic designer informs your work with textiles. Can you talk about any overlaps or shared aesthetics between the two?

I think the creative process in general is an important overlap. Visual designers aren’t trained to come up with one idea per project. We come up with ten, or twenty, depending on the concept. Then we start killing the weaker ideas, and nurturing the stronger ones. This idea of “killing your babies” was first introduced to me in high school when I took photography. This was way back when, so we’re talking about chemical photography, with the darkroom, and stinky solutions, and staring at timers, and shaking canisters. And we eliminated bad shots the same way we weed out good ideas. Each roll of negatives was cut and printed en masse onto one print, and you circled the ones you wanted to enlarge into actual prints. Successful designs rely heavily on one’s ability to self-edit. My textile work is cultivated in the same way, where everything starts as a bunch of ugly sketches.

How did you learn to knit? To sew?

I’ve been hand sewing all my life. My mother and grandmother were a constant resource. I grew up making this and modifying that, and it wasn’t really about practicing heritage skillsets, it was just a necessary skill to have. I’ve always been different from everyone in terms of personal style. Being able to modify clothes was a major part of my identity and individuality.

Knitting was one of many things that piqued my interest on the internet. Back then Jared Flood had this blog that I liked a lot. I’m pretty sure it was called Brooklyn Tweed back then, but I could be wrong. There were a lot of people on Flickr back then, too. So I just decided to do it one day, simple as that. Took me about a month to really get the hang of it. That was … gosh, 2009. Wow.

Slow Fashion Citizen: Jerome Sevilla

Your work with recycled or redesigned yarn is stunning. What inspired you to deconstruct that very first sweater so that you could work with that yarn? Weren’t you intimidated to start unraveling?

Thank you. No, it wasn’t intimidating at all. I was really into it! Maybe it’s a creativity thing, but I like destruction. And if I can take something and kill it, and turn it into something else, that’s power. The object represents creative power. I’m inspired by that. That process of destruction and creation is addictive. When I started recycling yarn, it wasn’t nearly as profound. I killed that first sweater because I was poor and had no money for yarn. Technically, this is still the case.

You’ve mentioned cost is prohibitive in buying quality new yarns, yet you’ve chosen to deconstruct vintage garments to gain access to their valuable fibers. This makes me cheer! It’s something I think about so much in my work: Choosing quality secondhand fibers over cheap new ones. But in this equation we choose the value of time — our own time — to locate, acquire, wash, deconstruct, redesign and work with quality fibers over the money of buying new materials. Can you talk about this tension and thoughts about value, about making something new from something old and investing time — sometimes so much time — to access quality materials?

I see it as an act of defiance. Think about the value that this person placed on that sweater. That value becomes zero when they decide to donate it or throw it in the garbage. I defy that assessment of value. The fast-fashion industry trains us to want more, and we apparently do. That’s so stupid. The best silk thread I’ve ever worked with was recycled multi-strand from a Banana Republic sweater. I have tons of it. I’d estimate the value of this black silk at about $100 or so a skein. I’ve sewn with it, knitted it, and wefted it into cotton. That sweater wasn’t worthless.

There’s a minimalism in your work that has such power. Do you consciously try to work with minimalism — paring color, line or composition back as far as possible as you design — or does this just materialize organically as you work?

I just don’t like a lot of fuss. I believe the subject of a work should be concise and clear, and there is nothing easier from a production standpoint than minimalism. I wonder if that’s a terrible thing to say? Either way it’s true. I’m no artist; I’m a designer through and through. Things should be neat and beautiful at the same time. I suppose this goes back to the self-editing thing. Composition requires a conscious awareness of the layout, and how the work is seen. There has to be negative space. In magazines it’s white space. In knitting it’s stockinette (for me, anyway). Patchwork looks amazing when there are long swaths of consistent color.

Slow Fashion Citizen: Jerome Sevilla

Mending, you know it’s my passion. So when I see your work with denim, hand-stitching and mending it makes my heart race. Do you find working with denim and working with yarn to have any similarities?

Well, working with sharps is a nice change from the knitting needles, but it is more physically intensive. I have so many compositions in progress, it’s pathetic. With my knitting, I have a max of two projects, but in sewing I believe I have five or so. In that respect, the two are very different. Sewing is a very quick process most of the time, so I tend to favor whichever project I’d most likely wear. On the other hand, I’ve been knitting this alpaca shawl for two years because I basically hoard the process of knitting. I like picking it up every once in a while. I like that it’s there. Sewing isn’t like that. Either I finish it, or I kill the idea.

In one of your blog posts you wrote, “I guess what I’m trying to say is that the meaningfulness of these fragile things is paramount in my thoughts, and that working with them gives me a very private sense of accomplishment and emotion.” I love this. I’ve been thinking about the connection between healing, mindfulness, and cultivating connection or meaning through slow fashion. Can you talk about the meaningfulness or sense of accomplishment that results from handwork and redesigning fragile textiles?

The majority of my yarn and fabrics is recycled. The yarn was bought second hand as sweaters, typically from flea markets and thrift stores. However, the fabrics are all recycled directly from my home, mostly from my own wardrobe, but some also came from my family. The things I make out of these fabrics carry the memory of our lives, and the places we’ve lived in. They’re not worthless. They’re immensely valuable to me.

Lastly, can you point us to three artists, designers, or makers currently inspiring your work?

Dan Bell’s videos of dead malls, Techland’s FPS survival horror game Dying Light, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Slow Fashion Citizen: Jerome Sevilla

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


PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion Citizen: Rebecca Burgess and Fibershed

Photos © Jerome Sevilla, used with permission