One, two, shuffle my queue (plus a public service plea!)

One, two, shuffle my queue

The shawl is off the needles and on the blocking board! Which means I get to cast on a you-know-what (or three). My mail has been particularly yarny this week, in conjunction with the shuffling of my knitting queue:

The army-green O-Wool Balance up top is not for any of the things I’ve proposed army green for before. Rather, it’s for something I can’t quite talk about. I have a really fun and intriguing pattern in mind for this September’s big Fringe and Friends Knitalong, but there’s one major modification I think a lot of people will want to make. So I’m testing that mod before settling on the knitalong pattern, and will therefore keep this preliminary version under wraps until I’m ready to say more about all of that!

The beautifully farmy silver-grey yarn in the middle is for a pattern I’ve agreed to write, with the knitted garment and graded pattern (eek!) due in six weeks, so that’s an urgent one. And that is the sum total of what I’m able to say about that little project. Also to be revealed this fall.

And then there’s the Hole & Sons. Don’t hate me, but I got lucky and scored some from the second batch — in the new figgy-charcoal color called Shale. Haven’t decided what it will be yet, but I fear whatever it is may jump in front of my long-planned Channel cardigan to become my Rhinebeck sweater. So I’ll need to figure it out in time to cast on this summer.

But meanwhile, I have a pressing need for a good lightweight, neutral cardigan for the aggressively air-conditioned indoors of summer. My friends at Shibui sent me a pile of yarns I’ve had my eye on, so I’ll be squeezing in a swatch for that wherever I can, and hoping to get time to knit it before too long!

NOW — SOMETHING EXTREMELY IMPORTANT I want to talk to you about, completely unrelated: As knitters and sewers of the attentive sort, you’re no doubt aware of the perilous demise of the textile and garment industries in this country in recent years. Mills have largely disappeared. Factories have closed or crawl along with aging staff and no younger generation to pass the knowledge on to. The gravity of the situation has been driven home to me over the past year as I’ve searched for a domestic factory to produce the Fringe Supply Project Bag — it’s a distressingly difficult proposition, and one that shouldn’t be difficult at all. Everyone wonders why I don’t just have it made in China. (All of which also contributed to my proposal for Slow Fashion October.)

You may also be aware that we moved to Nashville last year because of the thriving maker community here. In addition to other disciplines, there is a concentration of small-batch fashion designers, as well as weavers and fiber artists and, now, Fringe Supply Co. Recently, the Nashville Fashion Alliance was formed, with the goal of creating the infrastructure these small companies need to thrive right here. Networking, shared resources, and most important, job training to create a sizable work force of skilled sewers. And there’s a ready employer — a factory with plenty of work for those people. It’s due to a connection between a couple of key NFA players that the project bag will finally be going into production this summer, and not only will it not be made in China, it will be made right here in the city limits of Nashville. Can you hear my heart singing?! I’ll have more to say about that soon, but I want you to know right now that the NFA has a Kickstarter campaign going to fund their efforts, primarily the job training program. It ends today and they need your help, and I want you to understand it’s not just about Nashville. It’s about a movement toward bringing garment industry jobs back to the US. Regardless of where you live, if you care about these issues, I’m asking if you’ll help fund the NFA. Even a few dollars helps! Thank you for listening!

SPEAKING OF Fringe Supply Co, the summer issue of Pom Pom is here!

Have a great weekend, everyone!


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: Swatch debates

33 thoughts on “One, two, shuffle my queue (plus a public service plea!)

  1. important work, Karen – happy to pledge and support! thank you for your work on this!

  2. I applaud your commitment to this cause and I will help support NFA!! Wonderful!!! You are such a tease with your new projects! I am looking forward to your seeing your swatches and new sweater

  3. I was just checking the label on my Smooshy yarn and was so pleased to see that use American mills whenever possible. I’ll be supporting this too!

  4. Yes, Francis, and pledged, Karen – love Imogene and Willie, Camellia Fibre Co etc so Nashville looks like a great place to invest:)

  5. I pledged. I wholeheartedly believe in this cause. Hope they get what they need

  6. Happy to pledge to such an important cause. Thanks for letting us know about it!

  7. Love the cause, Karen Elson, Kickstarter, etc. etc., very happy to support it!

  8. I believe in the ideal, but I’m a little unclear on what the NFA’s kick starter money will go towards. Can you clarify at all? ‘The job training program’ — will it fund the rent on a building to train people? Advertising and networking events to spread the word that they offer services? Food and plumbing for the trainees themselves? And what is the factory that is ready to hire them? The kick starter page just said ‘we’re going to make jobs and train people for an underpopulated workforce’ but they never really say what that means. I know it’s not your campaign, Karen, but if you have any insights I’d love to know more so I can understand in what I’m investing!

      • Hey Karen,
        Thank you! I hope you didn’t think I was calling you out — I now you’re just spreading the word. I wasn’t sure if you had any specific insight into the mission just be being in the Nashville scene or if you’d communicated with the members of the funding campaign in your work or social time. Anyway, thanks for sharing the info and the link :)

    • I have the same concerns as Maria — it’s important to me to make informed choices about how I spend money to support causes I care about, and the Kickstarter page for this campaign is frustratingly vague. I did some googling around and found that Nashville Scene article (corrected link:

      I also found a few related articles from the Tennessean:
      (At least one of those reads like a rewrite of a press release from NFA, but whatcha gonna do)

      My takeaways from reading the above and reading between the marketing-speak on the Kickstarter page:
      – the Kickstarter campaign money seems like it will mostly be used to “build a team” at NFA, which currently has a board and a CEO, but no staff. All the other projects discussed are things that NFA wants to be involved with after it “has a team in place”, or projects that are already underway with preliminary funding from other sources. I still don’t know what “build a team” means. Initial salary support (100K won’t go far)? Administrative costs of hiring? Salary for the CEO while she hires more people? Something else? I am also unclear on how much of the money might be needed just to fulfill the donor rewards (this can be a big problem for Kickstarters).
      – the Sewing Training Academy is already underway as a pilot program using facilities provided by Catholic Charities of Tennessee, in collaboration with a local affordable housing group and a manufacturing business (Omega). NFA’s role in this is not totally clear to me, but it seems like maybe they’ve helped to make connections between the people/groups who are running this effort? I can’t tell for sure, but it does not sound like the Kickstarter money would be used *directly* to fund this program.

      I like the ideas swirling alrund here, but it would be a lot easier to decide to support this crowdfunding campaign with more transparency and less marketing-speak! I’m going to have to mull this one a bit more. I admit that part of me is left wondering whether my money might be better spent donating to Catholic Charities of Tennessee?

      • Rereading my own post, I’m not only seeing a typo (around, not “alrund”!), I’m also feeling like what I wrote came out too harsh. To clarify: I’m not trying to talk anybody out of supporting this campaign, and I haven’t ruled out supporting it myself. I wanted to share what I’d learned in the hopes it might be helpful to other readers.

        Like many of us, I’ve seen a lot of Kickstarter pitches go by (and been disappointed by a few), and have learned to really value clarity and upfront-ness over high flying rhetoric. It’s frustrating to see a pitch I *want* to be enthusiastic about fall into my “hmmmm” category — for all I know, it could be an impeccably sensible campaign behind the scenes that just fell down a bit on making that clear to outsiders. I’m sorry for letting my frustration make me sound more negative than I intended.

        • My feeling is that you’ve got to start somewhere. If other people see the money has been raised they may think about this project and see that there is support for the cause. Get them thinking about the project. This could be a seed that starts the ball rolling.

        • Hey Julia,
          Thanks so much – you helped clarify my own questions as well. I don’t think you came off as harsh or too skeptical, just the right amount of questioning. Just wanted to say that :)

        • Not too harsh, Julia. Thanks for looking into it more and sharing what you found. There’s so much out there, especially now with all these crowd funding possibilities, that it is really important to look at pitches with a critical eye. That doesn’t mean that unclear pitches aren’t for good things, but it’s good to ask the questions you’re asking, I think!

  9. You truly never cease to amaze and inspire me, Karen! I love what you’re doing and how you managed to fit yourself into a community that is about to make a real difference in the clothing and design fields.

  10. I agree with what’s already been said, warms my heart and gives me hope! Thanks for broadcasting.

  11. I admire & appreciate the thoughtful and necessary issues you bring forth in your blog. Thanks for educating and enlightening along with entertaining! Btw….what color is the O wool skein? Love it & can’t quite match it up to a name on their website. Excited to see your forthcoming projects!

  12. I just pledged and passed the word around. I hope they can make their goal by tomorrow!

  13. FYI, for anyone with questions about the project, there is a link at the bottom of the page that goes directly to the project director. Just go to FAQ and then click on “Ask a question” and then ask away. Looks like they are getting close to their goal. I wish them the best!

  14. The NFA is such a good thing. Many other cities, recently Austin and Albuquerque, have similar organizations in order to rebuild traditional and artisanal sewn product manufacturing in the good ole USA. One of my heroes is Kathleen Fasanella of Albuquerque Fashion Incubator. Kathleen created in 2005 and it is a cherished source of information and resource for sewn product design entrepreneurs (warning: huge rabbit hole). Another great go-to is Maker’s Row, a national online forum that hooks up designers with the skilled craftsmen who can make their dreams come true . . . all made in America. Good luck to NFA – the south with rise again!

  15. Pingback: Queue Check — June 2015 | Fringe Association

  16. Hi Karen,Just a quick follow-up.    I can’t tell what shade of Jocelyn’s Balance you have.    Your’s seems to have more “blue” in it than awful Army green, no insult intended.    But while she has some, I thought I’d order. Thanks in advance and look forward to hearing from you.   Lynn

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