Queue Check — July 2016

Queue Check — July 2016

I feel like I’ve had so little time for knitting lately and yet I’ve made progress on my black top-down cardigan (just the hem ribbing to finish before I turn to the sleeves), knitted the sample for a pattern publishing in October that I can’t show you yet, and have quickly taken a big bite out of the new sample sweater for the top-down tutorial in preparation for the upcoming Fringe and Friends Top-Down Knitalong.

What have I still not gotten to do? I can’t even say it out loud again. But the minute the new tutorial sweater is done, and before the knitalong begins, it will be cast on. I’m hellbent on having it to wear to the Knitting With Company retreat in October, so I better make inroads before the knitalong begins!

Both sweaters pictured are improvised top-down raglans; top yarn is Purl Soho Linen Quill in Kettle Black (a gift from Purl Soho); bottom yarn is Lettlopi in Color 1413


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: June 2016

Top-Down Ideas for me and you

Top-Down Ideas for me and you

I’m so thrilled about all of the enthusiasm for the coming Top-Down Knitalong, and the sketches and swatches already starting to turn up on the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed. I’ve had a couple of people ask what “improvised” means and whether you’re not allowed to have a plan for your sweater going in. Improvised just means knitting without a pattern, but you do that by having a plan — a plan of your very own! Which is based on two things: 1) the gauge you’ll be knitting at (which you derive from a knitted and washed swatch in your intended yarn) and 2) your desired sweater shape and dimensions. It’s not about flying blind, it’s just about making your own plan for a sweater in your own head versus having a pattern tell you what to do.

And on the subject of shape, I’ve also had people ask whether a top-down sweater or a sweater for this knitalong has to be a pullover. Absolutely not! As noted in the preview and the addenda — and the tutorial and the prologue to the tutorial ;) — it can be anything your heart desires. The sample in the tutorial is a plain old crewneck pullover just because that’s the most basic a sweater can get. If that’s what you want in your closet, or you’re nervous about this and want to keep it as simple as possible, that’s a great option. Or you can get all kinds of creative if you like! Make a v-neck or crewneck or shawl-collar; pullover or cardigan or coat; plain or embellished; fitted and fingering or superbulky and slouchy, or anything in between! The possibilities truly are endless.

I still don’t know what I’m going to knit for this (all those endless possibilities …), and thought we could all use a little extra inspiration, so I created a new board on Pinterest called Top-Down Ideas. The captions are full of suggestions about things to consider — from shape to interesting details to how to really think outside the box. The sweaters included are mostly neutral, so you can use your imagination to fill in color or texture or pattern according to your taste.

I hope it gets your wheels turning, and I’d love to hear what you’re thinking about!


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: FAQ and Addenda


Top-Down Knitalong: FAQ and addenda

Top-Down Knitalong: FAQ and addenda

There have been some questions and suggestions on the Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016 announcement — aka the Top-Down Knitalong — and I want to make sure everyone sees those, so I’m collecting them here (and will add to this over time as warranted). Forthwith:


Without a pattern, how do I know how much yarn to buy?

You can only guesstimate, and I usually do so based on the yardage of similar sweaters I’ve knitted in the past. Hannah Fettig created Stashbot for this, which is available both as an app and a printed booklet. You put in the general shape of the sweater you’re planning, your intended chest circumference, and your gauge, and it will estimate yardage for you. Or what I typically do is find a similar sweater on Ravelry — same gauge, volume and type of knitting (don’t compare a cable sweater to a stockinette one, for instance) — and check the yardage requirements on that. No matter which way you derive your estimate, buy more than you think you’ll need, just to be safe. Most yarn stores will let you return unused skeins, but I never mind having a leftover for future repairs/alterations or a hat or whatever.

Can we start planning and sharing now?

Absolutely! That’s why I announced it so far in advance. You’ll need to figure out what it is you’re making; knit, block and measure a swatch; and buy yarn. You can either start that on August 15th, or do the legwork now and be all set to cast on. If you do start dreaming and scheming, by all means go ahead and post it to the hashtag #fringeandfriendsKAL2016. I’m excited to see what you’re thinking about! You might base your sweater on a photo of something you love, or on your own sketch. And of course I highly recommend my beloved Fashionary panels (or the sketchbook) for working out your ideas. I find it HUGELY helpful to use that template when putting my ideas on paper — to tinker with where the hem falls (cropped? high hip? low hip?) and how long the sleeves are, and really zero in on what will look best. For me, it’s definitely a pencil-and-eraser exercise, and a big part of the fun.

Does it have to be a sweater?

It is a sweater knitalong, yes — the idea being to learn how to plan, plot and knit a garment, relying only on a swatch and some grade-school math. One of you asked if it could be a top-down onesie, and that sounds like a full-length sweater to me! (Hey, maybe that’s what I’ll make for myself!) I think as long as it is knitted top-down, without a pattern, and is a garment with a neckhole and sleeves, it qualifies. And again, it can be a pullover or a cardigan, plain or textured or colorwork (whatever you’re capable of planning!), long or short, narrow or wide, crewneck or v-neck or boatneck or turtleneck, cap-sleeved to long-sleeved, for yourself or a friend or family member.


As noted in the announcement, my tutorial covers top-down raglan construction and I don’t have plans to expand on that, but there are other top-down methods you’re welcome to employ — remember, the only rules are top-down and no pattern. If raglan isn’t your thing and/or you just want to try a newer method:

If you’ve never knitted a top-down sweater (or improvised a sweater) before and want to keep it simple, I’d say stick with the basic raglan method for your first time.



PREVIOUSLY in the Top-Down Knitalong: Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016: Preview and plan

Make Your Own Basics: The marinière

Make Your Own Basics: The marinière

Close your eyes and picture every layout you’ve ever seen in a fashion magazine under the heading “10 Pieces Every Wardrobe Needs” or variations thereon. It’s always the perfect jeans, black ballet flats, a white shirt, a trench … and a marinière. Also known as a “Breton,” it’s a version of the original French Navy tee from way back: boatnecked, three-quarter sleeved, blue-and-white striped. While the official marinière hewed to exacting specifications with regard to the number and spacing of the stripes, modern interpretations vary. But perfectly authentic or otherwise, it’s true that no closet ever suffered from the inclusion of a striped tee!

TOP: For sewing your own, Liesl Gibson’s Maritime Top should do nicely — all you need is the right fabric

BOTTOM: If you prefer your marinière knitted, Jared Flood’s Breton pattern is just the thing


PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: The tank top (knitted and sewn)

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016 : Preview and plans

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016 : Preview and plans

The pattern: Improvised top-down — no patterns allowed!
The schedule: August 15 through September 30, 2016
The hashtag: #fringeandfriendsKAL2016

This is by far the most advance notice I’ve ever given about a knitalong — and with good reason! I’m talking about the Fringe and Friends Knitalong for Fall 2016 here, and this one is a little different. Whereas in 2014 we knitted the Amanda fisherman-style cardigan (or other fisherman pattern of your choosing) and in 2015 we knitted the Cowichan-style Geometric Vest (or other Cowichan-style pattern of your choosing), this year there is no pattern. I don’t mean it’s a free-for-all — I mean we’re improvising top-down sweaters, no patterns allowed! So I thought it might be good to give you a little extra time to dream up your sweater, read my tutorial on how to improvise a top-down sweater if you haven’t done it before, and generally prepare for what’s bound to be one helluva fun challenge. Plus we’re starting a little earlier this year, so consider this fair warning!

While I’m insanely proud of the tutorial and the untold number and variety of sweaters that have been knitted from it over the past few years, the photos are horrendous! It’s long been a goal of mine to update the images and some of the text, and I’m currently working on that. It will all be spiffed up before the knitalong begins.


I’ll officially kick off the knitalong on Monday Aug 15 with a simple outline of how top-down works (a new companion to the full tutorial), followed by this year’s Meet the Panel post! (I’ve got a really fun group lined up.) After that, I’ll have a post each week exploring some variations or techniques not included in the original tutorial. We’ll wrap that up at by the end of September (in time for Slow Fashion October to kick off!) and I’ll show you the finished panelist sweaters as they’re completed.


There is no sign-up form or deadline (or Ravelry group to join) or anything like that. To knit along, simply knit along! It can be any sweater you have in your head that works as a top-down sweater — pullover or cardigan, plain or embellished, whatever yarn/gauge your heart desires. My tutorial covers raglan-style sweaters, but if you are familiar with other top-down approaches (such as contiguous set-in sleeves) and want to use those methods, that’s totally cool — as long as A) it’s top-down and B) there’s no pattern. If you’ve never done this before, here’s your chance to learn how to knit without a pattern, completely to your own shape and preferences, and to gain an invaluable understanding of how sweater shaping works in the process — which will make you a more confident knitter and enable you to tailor patterns to your liking in the future!

Ask questions and share your progress in the comments here, and/or use the hashtag #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 wherever you post. You’ll have a whole raft of people willing to help!


Yes, there will be prizes. For this one, I’m going back to the “WIP of the Week” idea from the first year. Post your progress photos between Aug 15 and Sept 30, using hashtag #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 (on Instagram, Ravelry or Twitter) and I’ll pick a winner each week, which I’ll also feature on the blog.

That’s it! I’m soooo excited to see the variety of sweaters that will materialize as part of this, as well as the friendships that always form among participants along the way. Are you excited? Do you already have ideas about what to make? Let’s hear it!

Yarn pictured is Lettlopi in color 1413; brass stitch markers from Fringe Supply Co.

New Favorites: Retro cable Bliss

New Favorites: Retro cable Bliss

Now that the 4th of July is behind us, it’s safe to start dreaming about Fall — which will be here in a heartbeat, people. I know I’m not the only one mired in reveries, because my Instagram feed is suddenly full of fall feelings. And you know more than anything, I’m dreaming of cable sweaters. I ran across this new pattern by Debbie Bliss last night, with the melodic and inventive name of Cropped Cable Sweater, and fell instantly in want. I love how evocative it is of all those vintage cable pullovers trapped in my stack of old pattern booklets, but I imagine this one would be merciful enough to include a proper chart! I’m already mentally scanning my stash for yarn candidates and imagining amusing outfits …


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Kveta

Queue Check — June 2016

Queue Check — June 2016

I can’t believe it’s the last day of June already. I don’t have much to show for myself — the black cardigan has just barely advanced beyond where it was when we debated the shaping. (I’m going classic, by the way — thank you for all of your input.) But the slow progress is partly to do with my needing to spend time on another project I can’t tell you about yet! Which I can at least say is coming along beautifully and I’m very excited about it. The only other thing I have to say about the cardigan at this point is how awesome it is to have cast on with two strands of fingering and made it nearly to the ribbing before needing to wind any more yarn.

The poor neglected Channel Cardigan plans, though. Is there still any chance I’ll be wearing it by Fall?

It depends a little on what I decide about this year’s big Fringe and Friends Knitalong. I’m cooking up something I think is going to be tremendously fun, but it will also throw a wrench in my well-planned queue. As will a few recent acquisitions of incredible small-batch yarns. So I have a lot to think about and plot around, and I’ll have more to say about all of that soon! But just as a heads-up for now: I’m thinking of starting the big knitalong in mid-August this year. Make a note!

(Field Bag and brass removable stitch markers from Fringe Supply Co., of course)


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: May 2016