WIP of the Week No.5 (+ mandatory Slotober reading!)

WIP of the Week No.5

I truly can’t say enough about how life-affirming it is to read through the discussions on all of the sweaters in the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed every day. (And “life-affirming” is not a term I use often — or maybe ever!) The knitting world is an amazing place, but the support and advice and encouragement here exceeds anything I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t be more wowed by you all. The sweater that impressed me the most this week and is thus earning the title of WIP of the Week is the cardigan (pictured above) by Brigit, who is @thewoolwitch on IG and themistwitch on Ravelry. Brigit set out to make a coat-like cardigan in lopi, and has been sharing generously every step and decision along the way. She patiently knitted and seamed a vertical button band to match the length of this garment, then she put it on and posted pics, asking openly whether or not she’d gotten the fit right. And when the majority opinion was that the sleeves were too large for her small frame and making the whole thing look too big for her (“tragically-too-large” rather than “cool-girl-oversized”, as she put it), without seeming to even bat an eyelash she ripped out the entire thing — save the button band! — and is starting from scratch, so she can really hone every single detail along the way. As she said:

“I am so excited to have this come out right, and so excited that we are heading into Slow Fashion October because, to me, taking the time to reknit a sweater so that it fits just right is part of what slow fashion is all about. What’s the point of making your own clothes if you aren’t going to love them?”


Brigit is far from the only one to be ripping and tweaking and improving, but I think she is the first to rip a finished KAL sweater — and all the way to stitch one. But what has impressed me most about the whole thing is her spirit and attitude. Plus that’s going to be a great sweater. So Brigit, you’ve won 10 skeins of Woolfolk’s luscious Far in the color of your choosing. Email me at contact@fringesupplyco.com to collect your prize!

I also have a little more Far to spread around this week — two bundles of three skeins each — and have picked two winners at random because there are just too many amazing entries to choose from! @kirsten_weis you’ve won three skeins in Color 16, and @borealindigo you’ve won three skeins in Color 17. Please email me so we can send your yarn!

Next week’s penultimate bonus prize is 8 skeins of Arranmore, the new Fibre Co. yarn you all know I’m dying to knit with, donated by Kelbourne Woolens (who are taunting me with those killer patterns). So keep those pics and tales and general amazingness coming!


MICRO-ELSEWHERE: Speaking of the Kelbournes (as I call them) and of Slow Fashion October, they recently included a link in their weekly newsletter that is the single best article I’ve ever read about the problems our gluttony and cast-off-itis creates, and I’m going to link it today and repeatedly as we head into Slotober, because I think it should be mandatory reading for all clothes-wearing humans on planet Earth: No one wants your old clothes. PLEASE READ!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Did you watch Rams yet? I loved it.


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: Panelist check-in


33 thoughts on “WIP of the Week No.5 (+ mandatory Slotober reading!)

  1. How impressive to everyone..especially this beginning knitter. Aaaaack! Love the blog and newsletter piece you suggested above. It’s finally feeling like a touch of fall out there here in Southeast CT….hmmmmmm? SWEATER WEATHER! Have a good weekend.

  2. Thank you so much! I’m so excited to try this wool out, it sounds amazing! And really looking forward to reading that article and enjoying Slow October.

  3. Brigit’s commitment to a well-fitting sweater is so admirable, and such a joyous contrast to the carelessness (about fit, quality, textile traditions, the environment, etc) portrayed in the article. Inspiring and affirming!
    And yes, I watched Rams last weekend.

  4. ooh dang, all the back to square one?! I’m probably too late but I think the coat is oversized and cool. on top of that, the extra room would mean that she can wear sweaters/layers under it too.

    I’m gonna watch rams this weekend :)

  5. The “too large sleeves” issue seems to be a problem with this top down knitting project. How do you avoid it? I would like to know one also but don’t want to knit and frog, knit and frog.

    • This is a great question, but I feel like a good answer is way longer than is polite to leave in a blog comment! One starting point, though, is knowing that a trade-off of basic raglan construction is that you have less ability to control sleeve size separately from body size. Since lots of top-down sweaters are basic raglans, that may be part of the phenomenon you’re noticing.

      In a basic raglan, the number of arm stitches (and the depth of the armhole) is intrinsically linked to body circumference and how many increase rows are required to get enough stitches to fit the shoulders and chest. So by the time you divide for the sleeves, they may have become rather voluminous, due to other fitting constraints. Moving to a compound raglan can mitigate this tendency (Karen’s got info on how to do this!), but I think it’s good to understand that it’s in the nature of a raglan that you can never have *completely* independent control of sleeve fit.

      Drop-shoulder sweaters can have skinny sleeves with a large body, but can’t usually have both trim sleeves and body without being unwearable (no shoulder room). Set-in sleeve sweaters give you the most control over fitting (everything is independent), but they are more complicated to plan. Top-down set-in sleeve methods have never been as popular as other top-down constructions, but we live in an era of enormous knitting knowledge and there are a ton of good top-down set-in sleeve methods out there. So if you care about top-down sleeve fit, I say keep learning new ways of making sweaters… No single sweater construction method is equally good at everything!

      • Mm, I definitely disagree. You’re in complete control of how big your sleeves are and how big your body is. I have broad shoulders but am thin, and I like things slouchy and boxy in the body but I can’t stand it when my upper sleeves are too big. So being able to control that is one of the things I love about this process. It’s really no different than a set-in sleeve cap needing to fit the armscye, but other than that, what you do with the sleeve and body circumferences is up to you.

    • Hm, I haven’t noticed any particularly high rate of “too large sleeves,” but there’s nothing about it that’s specific to top-down or the knitalong — making your own clothes is a learning process, and the beauty of top-down is the ability to try on and tweak as you go. My best advice is to measure the sleeve dimensions (and the rest) from a garment you know you like the fit of, then do the math to make your sweater match those dimensions.

  6. Also, on that article of upcycling clothing from the thrift stores, I had an idea that I could use the fabric from mens shirts, piece it together, and then make a tunic from it. After looking at the shirts, I realized that I would need to spend more money than just purchasing the shirting from one of the on-line fabric stores. I do like to purchase sweaters, particularly cashmere, and frog them for the yarn. A have a few in a large bag waiting for me to do this. The yarn requires a spinning wheel to ply it as it is so very thin.

  7. Whenever I have to frog a significant amount–or start over–I remind myself that I enjoy knitting in itself as a process, and when I’m finished with one project I’ll just start another (or work on one of the 5 WIPs I have going on) so it’s no problem. And making my own should result in a garment that is better in every way than one I can buy, so it’s worth the trouble. I will be frogging a Purl Soho “Cardigan, Coat, Vest” that I finished a while ago…I made it out of a gorgeous alpaca yarn, not knowing enough to realize it would drape and grow, and make me look like Dopey. So I’m going to frog the whole thing. My idea is to join another thin, thin strand of something stable (like silk?) to give it stability and knit it up again. The beauty of it all is that the wonderful yarn I bought isn’t wasted or ruined.

    • Use a tightly plied wool instead of silk! Silk thread doesn’t have the same kind of memory as wool, which is why we love it best. :)

  8. Thank you for the link to the article about clothing. I knew some of this, but it’s still a good reminder to think carefully when buying and making clothes. Karen, have you seen Meghna Gupta’s short film Unravel, which is about women in India who process the clothes of Westerners for recycling? It’s a beautiful film that raises questions about so many things–the fashion industry, global trade, the status of women worldwide.


    I’m very excited to reflect on all this for Slow Fashion October!

  9. Just an observation, but I love how many kniiters photograph their work next to a steamy mug o’ something. I think the mugs they choose also say something about the creative knitter!

  10. Knitters….amazing how I can re-read a post and not see the spelling errors! I guess that is why my mug says “I LIKE KOFFY”.:)

  11. Karen, please reshare the link to the Unraveled video. I have shared that numerous times. It really is something to hear people say “Maybe water is more expensive than clothes, so people buy new rather than wash them.”

  12. Karen, Big, HUGE Thanks to you for sharing that article. It’s super informative and crucial. Since Pete’s been working in Re-use for over a decade, we have become very familiarized with this whole narrative. And it’s painful to imagine bales and bales of our undesired clothing on giant shipping container vessels, spewing pollution into our oceans… just to traffic our waste around the globe.

    And yet, the sad part is that even the retailers (last year he worked for the charity thrift store that benefits the Humane Society), don’t want full transparency on what happens to the unsold clothing… i.e., baled up and sold to for-profit globalized industry. Now he works for SCRAP PDX and they have a (nearly) zero waste policy… but what that really means is they don’t accept everything… which probably means those goods are discarded by the consumer, not the store.

    Anyhow… if we can all be more conscious consumers… right? And, as both of us are sellers of goods, I’d love to brainstorm on what that truly means.

    • Owning my like to thank you for having the courage to bring up a super sticky question — how to reconcile a belief in the virtues of less consumption with being somebody who sells things to others and therefore often needs to encourage consumption. I feel plenty of cognitive dissonance going between the (great!) fiber community conversations about sustainability/less-is-more and the latest pitch from (great!) fiber community sellers-of-(great!)things. I love all this stuff, but there are some deep contradictions there, sometimes.

      The recent New Yorker profile of Patagonia’s founder dipped into this a bit (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/09/19/patagonias-philosopher-king), as did an older article about the tension between the company’s “anti-growth” strategy coinciding with — resulting in? — enormous growth (http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/patagonias-anti-growth-strategy).

      I don’t have any easy answers. I hope maybe even uncomfortable stuff like this can be part of the conversation during this Slotober, or some future one.

    • Yeah, I mean I’m obviously not of the opinion that nobody should ever buy anything — we get a lot of pleasure and use from things. What I believe and advocate for is buying consciously and wisely. So I strive to sell things you’re going to have and use and love for quite some time. And I also don’t follow the standard retail operating procedure of changing up inventory all the time. I sell a small number of tried-and-true things, and augment that selection rarely and always with products I truly believe in the beauty and utility of, as well as their origins. I think being a person who sells things makes me that much more cognizant of all of the issues.

  13. I know some of you will wonder about me once I’ve shared my Truth. I can thank my Victorian grandmother for her ways and teaching me to knit and sew. Too bad the knitting didn’t stick at the time. I had to go back, decades later, and teach myself again.

    My Truth is that I have ‘classic’ basics that go back to the 70s and 80s. I very, very rarely select faddish things unless I absolutely love them to pieces. Literally, for decades and decades, I’ve sewn the greatest majority of my clothing. I even worked in the industry. Grandmother would be pleased at my choices.

    When the time comes for a garment to go… if it has enough fiber left to it, it becomes a rag. However, it is like losing a dear friend who will be sorely missed.

    That’s my Truth, and I’m sticking to it.

    Have a great day… KNITTING!

  14. Ho-lee Crap, what a thing to do. My heart goes out to her! It’s going to be such a stylish garment when she’s done with it! I think I’d cry a bit if I had to do that (and might still have to do that — you never know with sleeves…).

    I’m so *crazy excited* about Slow Fashion October, you don’t even know. I have all kinds of projects lined up to keep me busy! I’m enjoying the transition from this KAL to SFO. It’s going to be a good second half of the year! :)

  15. I am definitely in the frogging camp. In fact I have knit many projects twice over. I find it frustrating, but there is no alternative for me. Why go to the trouble to make it myself if it isn’t just right?

  16. Wow. I think her sweater looks great for a nice comfy cardigan! I would live in that all winter. Kudos to her for re-doing something she’s dissatisfied with! That article was depressing and important. We just waste too much of everything in this country. A few years ago, I started a trade session with a group of friends. Once or twice a year we get together with clothes, shoes, accessories, books, etc. that we no longer fit in, want, use, or need, and we swap. Whatever doesn’t get picked up by someone gets donated.

  17. Pingback: The WIPs of the Week that became FOs | Fringe Association

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