Stella Tennant and the age-defying sweaters

Stella Tennant and the age-defying sweaters

Feeling the need for a good ol’ fashion bask last night, I went combing through the Spring 2018 runway collections, and wow did they leave me wanting. (At least we had this.) The only thing that really lit me up was this photo of Stella Tennant (one of my all-time favorites) looking amazing on the Balenciaga runway. Which reminded me: Over the past few years, I’ve run into multiple references to an editorial that apparently ran in the November 1996 issue of Vogue — more specifically Vogue Paris, it turns out [who knows where, see Update below] — in which Stella swanned around in some of the most perfect knits imaginable, which is exactly what I was craving. So I googled. It’s hard to be 100% certain of anything under these circumstances, but I believe all of the images here are from that editorial. And since I could gaze at them forever, would like to be certain about which others of all the images that come up in a Google image search are from the same story, and want to see the whole thing in its original glory, I actually went to eBay and found a copy for sale.

1996 is the year I moved from Austin to Columbus to San Francisco — changing jobs and cities twice — and I remember the state of fashion pretty vividly as a result. Especially the state of street style in SF that winter. There are a lot of similarities between that moment and this moment, but even so, if I told you these images were from the November 2017 issue, nobody would doubt it for an instant. In fact, plug in any year between then and now and it works.

The cardigan in the top photo brings to mind the Lauren Manoogian version that’s been all the rage for several years now, but in a somewhat more gossamer form. Or something like an oversized Cabernet? The turtleneck worn with it is essentially a shorter Forester, with wider waist ribbing. (Or try Carrowkeel with two strands of fingering held together for the marl.) And the coat below makes me think of Brandi Harper’s new Carmen Coat.

[UPDATE 11.22.17: I am now in possession of both the US and Paris Vogue issues from that month, and neither of them includes any of these images, although the US one does have a Stella Tennant-in-the-woods feature in which she wears another lovely, simple turtleneck sweater like this. So I’ve inadvertently contributed to misinformation about these photos! If anyone knows when or where they actually did run — if they are even all from the same editorial — please let me know!]

Stella Tennant and the age-defying sweaters

By the way, did I mention that Paulina Porizkova was at Rhinebeck? Sadly, I did not bump into her.


PREVIOUSLY in Fashion: First of the Best of Spring 2018










Queue Check — October 2017

Queue Check — October 2017

October is by far the busiest and most stressful month of the year for me, with everything that goes into having Fringe Supply Co. stocked and ready for the holidays, trying to keep up with #slowfashionoctober, travel and guests, photo shoots, and all the normal day-to-day of running the shop and the blog. I did finish the purple pullover since last month, though, and have somehow managed to make late-night progress on this big, delicious cardigan (Improv in Arranmore). I even took it on the Rhinebeck trip* with me, hoping to get deep into the second sleeve, but all I got done was the buttonband. Instead of casting on a sleeve of my grey Cline sweater by now, as I had proposed last month, my tiny alternative project has been this tweaked Stadium Hat for Bob (in the squishy smudge-colored yarn Purl Soho sent me last year), which has only a few stitches left to go.

At this point, I’m still eager about the Cline, wardrobe-wise, but I’m also desperate to be knitting something more engaging, so I’m back to pondering what will take up the shawl-collar role in my closet (after I went from two to none). I’m about 90% decided on Norah Gaughan’s Sourcebook Chunky Cardigan, and think that might be what the blue Harrisville yarn I got at Rhinebeck is destined for. So getting to knit that swatch is now the carrot at the end of my stick!

*If you fly with a Porter Bin tucked into a Woollelujah! tote, like I do, there’s no reason not to take an entire gargantuan sweater with you!


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: September 2017

2017 FO-13 : The purple lopi pullover

Finished: Purple lopi pullover

After a year and a half, I finally knitted the second sleeve of the top-down tutorial sweater and seamed them both up, and the sweater is — more or less — finished! And I do adore it. As it’s fully documented in the tutorial, all I really need to tell you about it is the finished counts and measurements, below. But what I mean by “more or less” is A) I need to take a second pass at the neckband and seam up the basting stitches in the raglans, but B) I think it might become a cardigan! (Which would obviate redoing the neckband.) I knitted this in Lettlopi for the sake of the tutorial because it knits up so quickly at this gauge, and I absolutely love the color, but I don’t have a lot of cause to wear an Icelandic-wool pullover in Tennessee! (I only get away with the black one because it’s short-sleeved and cropped.) Plus ever since taking the elastic out of the waistband of that older J.Crew boiled-wool pullover, I don’t really need another purple pullover, either. So I think it would get more wear if it were vented — i.e., if I turn it into a deep V-neck cardigan, which would then be some semblance of that purple cardigan I saw a few years ago and have still never gotten out of my head.

It would be good fun to do, since at this point the only way to go about it would be to machine-stitch along the contours of where I want to cut it, and then add the button band. I can’t imagine trying something like that (for the first time!) with any other garment than this, as there’s less than forty bucks’ worth of yarn in this sweater. On the other hand, I do already have a purple cardigan, albeit quite different. So I’m pondering.

Pattern: Improv
Yarn: Lettlopi by Istex in Color 1413 (purchased at Tolt)
Cost: free pattern + 7 balls of lopi at $5.50 each = $38.50 (I know!)

Finished: Purple lopi pullover


3.75 sts and 5.5 rows = 1 inch (measured over 4″ = 15/22) knitted on US10; ribbing on US9


39″ chest = 148 sts
12.5″ upper arm circumference = 50 sts (10 at underarm)
9″ yoke/armhole depth (50 rounds)
13.5″ body length (2.5″ hem ribbing)
22.5″ total length
16″ sleeve length (3.5″ cuff ribbing)
7.5″ cuff circumference = 40 sts


— CO 51 sts, divided with markers as follows ( 1 | 2 | 9 | 2 | 23 | 2 | 9 | 2 | 1 )

— Increased for a basting stitch in the center of each 2-st raglan

– Planned on 10 sts cast on at each underarm, and divided the raglan stitches evenly between sections when separating sleeves from body

— Worked raglan increases as kfb on either side of the raglan stitches

— Increased at the front neck and all raglans on 1st RS row then every other row until 14 sts each front, 37 back sts. Cast on 9 sts and joined in the round (front sts at 14 each + the 9 cast on = 37 front). Neck depth approx 3.5″

— Increased the front and back until 64 sts each (counting 2 from the raglans at separation, plus 10 per underarm cast-on = 74; front + back + underarms = 148)

— Increased the sleeve-side raglans until 39 sts (counting 2 from the raglans at separation, plus 10 underarm cast-on = 49); work-even till separation at 9″ depth (adjusted to 50 sts when starting sleeves)

— Sleeves were knitted flat, decreased 5x (40 sts), every 8th row after the first couple of inches, then switched to US9 needles and worked 1×1 ribbing for 3.5″

— Worked body even for 10.5″ (with a basting stitch at each side seam, to be mattress stitched later), then switched to US9 needles and worked 1×1 ribbing for 2.5″

— Worked the neckband as 1×1 ribbing for 2.5″ and did folded neckband

— Seamed chest circumference is approx 39″, for about 4.5″ positive ease


PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Refashioned army jacket



Hot Tip: Bridge the gap

Hot Tip: Bridge the gap

There’s one tiny side-effect of knitting things seamlessly that have appendages — as in, a mitten with a thumb or a top-down sweater with two sleeves. There’s a moment where you set aside those thumb/sleeve stitches on waste yarn, carry on with the hand/body, and then come back to do the appendage. You put those live stitches back onto needles, pick up a few stitches around the top of the thumb or the underarm of the sleeve (pictured above) to complete the circle, and then knit the rest of the appendage. The side effect being that you will inevitably have a little hole at either end of the picked-up stitches. This isn’t a flaw of your knitting or of the pattern — it’s just a fact of life. Patterns will often tell you to simply take the yarn tail from where you reattached yarn at that point, and weave them closed. But there is also a simple way to minimize them, which is to pick up an extra stitch in that spot — in the gap between the live stitches and the picked-up ones — and then knit it together with the adjacent stitch on the next round, so you haven’t thrown off your stitch count.

There’s still a chance you might need to do a little refining with your yarn tail at the end, but the holes will be noticeably minimized.

For the sleeves of the sweater pictured, I have 40 stitches on waste yarn and need to pick up another 10 along the edge of the underarm, starting at the center of the underarm stitches. So I’m picking up 5, then knitting the 40, then picking up another 5. However, to help bridge the gap, I’ll actually pick up 6.
Top photo: You can see the live sleeve stitches that have been hanging out on waste yarn, placed back onto a needle, and to the right is the cast-on edge of the underarm.
Middle photo: I’ve picked up my designated 5 stitches along the underarm edge, but you can see there’s a good 3/4″ between the underarm stitches and the sleeve stitches — that’s your future hole.
Bottom photo: I’ve plunged my needle behind both legs of the stitch right at the corner, halfway between the underarm and sleeve stitches, and picked up one extra stitch, which I’ll knit together with the adjacent sleeve stitch on the next round.

p.s. Like I love to say: A top-down sweater is a giant fingerless mitt with two thumbs instead of one — same process, just more of it. If you can knit a mitt, you can knit a sweater.


PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tips: Knit all the parts at once

New Favorites: Ol’ softies

New Favorites: Softies

I’m not sure what’s gotten into me — maybe it’s part of my fall fantasizing, or maybe it’s because I think the whole world needs a warm hug — but I’m having a moment of lust over fuzzy-soft, allover-texture sweaters:

TOP: Kogle by Julie Hoover is a worsted-weight sweater covered in small-scale mock cables

BOTTOM: Marylin by Martin Storey is from a 2013 Rowan publication and would take some work to track down (nevermind knit!) but I’m so smitten with those fine-gauge hazy cables


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: House socks



New Favorites: from the Grannies collection

New Favorites: from the Grannies collection

I had a little chat with myself the other day — after seeing a photo of my friend Kathy wearing a gorgeous crocheted scarf (in Iceland) — about just how long it’s been since I’ve picked up a crochet hook, despite how often my right hand sends me a “let’s do this (loopity loop gesture)” hand signal. Then I got a look at Rove Handmade’s new Grannies collection: four not very dissimilar cardigan/shrugs. Invoking “granny” always gets eyes rolling, but here it’s clearly a reference to the good ol’ Granny Square, which here has taken on these simple but beautifully executed garment shapes. My favorites are the super simple kimono shape, Hexa (top), and the Duo Two-Way Shrug (bottom), which somehow seems to lay nicely both directions — unlike all the knitted versions of the same concept which generally seem to me like they don’t quite fit right either direction. And the silhouettes are so clean it’s easy to see that they’d be just as wonderful in traditional granny multi-colors as they are in the beautiful neutrals of the samples, or anything in between. Maybe this is the excuse I’ve been looking for to take home some hooks.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Huck

Queue Check — September 2017

Queue Check — September 2017

Last month I declared that September would be finish-it month — an attempt to prevent myself from casting on anything new before doing my Fall wardrobe planning. Then I promptly cast on something new, the cardigan pictured up top (details here). I did make progress on the purple sweater (from the top-down tutorial) — just the last sleeve to knit, once the humidity goes away and I can stand to be near it. And I also finished the two tees that were awaiting their top-stitching, and ticked off a few other bits from the fix-it list. But I’ve still not lengthened the black cardigan, and I have abandoned the grey one altogether. It’s just too much apathy to bear.

So the vanilla cardigan (another Improv) is sailing right along. I’m about 7″ into the long slog of the body, another 9″ or so to go, and rather than setting it aside and finishing the sleeves first, like I often do, I’m eager to finish the whole body, the button band and possibly even the pockets before I knit the sleeves. I’ll tell you more about that down the road — still mulling the details. Happily, this spontaneous cast-on fits right into my fall/winter plans, so no regrets!

And then there’s that grey swatch up there, what? During the Summer of Basics I got a little obsessed with all the Cline sweaters everyone was making — especially this one (click to the second pic) and this one. I found out a couple of friends were casting on, and that Fancy Tiger and Drygoods Design are co-hosting a Junegrass knitalong, and I got sorely tempted. Cline is designed by my friend Julie Hoover, and it’s honestly not one that earned my affection when she first released it. It fits the model in the exact way clothes tend to hang, tent-like, on my scarecrow shoulders — the fit I spend my life in avoidance of. But then it was so cute on so many other people and I started wondering if there’s any way it might look ok on me. Through Julie’s kindness (and that of a stranger), I was able to try on a sample while I was in Denver to make jeans, and it’s surprisingly cute on me, although I’ll need to lengthen the sleeves and watch the neck width. So I came home and swatched for it with my Junegrass (batch 1; there’s now a batch 2), and I’m pretty sure that’ll be my next cast-on. (In which case I’ll be twinning with Jess!)

So much stockinette.

Happy weekend, everyone! If you require anything from Fringe Supply Co., we’re always here for you, and I’d love to hear what you’re working on!


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: Reader, I cast on