Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

If you enjoy Katrina’s interviews for her Slow Fashion Citizen column and want to hear her interviewed, she’s the latest subject on the Crafty Planner podcast., which is what I’ll be listening to this weekend! And beyond that, an eye-candy heavy Elsewhere—

How to darn a sock mini-tutorial (photo, left)

OMG this embroidery and all the rest

– Same goes for Kristine’s travel jacket (more here) (photo, right)

– And Narangkar’s color wheel

Vogue on women who shear sheep

– I was never one to dream about wedding dresses buuuuttt …

These colorwork hats are kind of killing me

– And favorite IG photo this time is a tie between this and this

IN SHOP NEWS: I’m happy to tell you we’ve got the sweet new book by Andrea Mowry, A Sense of Place, in the shop today!






Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Phew, this week has been a humdinger and I am so glad it’s Friday. We were on the road last weekend (and Path of Totality in our own backyard day; way to go, Karen!) and I have some travels ahead of me, so I’m super excited to be home this weekend, no obligations beautiful weather for seaming my sweater on the porch, and hoping to sew my pants for Summer of Basics!

This batch of Elsewhere is a whole lot of eye candy and a couple of interesting reads:

– Most interesting piece I’ve ever read about wartime knitting brigades — and the photos are beyond amazing (thanks, dg)

Lori is absolutely killing me with all the Sven and Solveig photos (above right)

Stunning map of Pakistan made up of regional embroidery styles

Good lord those swatches (above left)

– These little crochet/leaf scultpures are jaw-droppingly beautiful

And this crocheted play structure is IN.CREDIBLE.

– I’m obsessed with these slightly insane sewing patterns: Sharewear from Atatac — see the Garments section for sewn examples (thx, Deborah) (I downloaded five of them.)

5 simple ways to spend less money on clothes (as true for making as for shopping)

God bless Helen Mirren (see also)

A brief history of silhouettes — I love this stuff

IN SHOP NEWS: We finally got a fresh batch of the narrow-rim horn and bone buttons, and the fourth installment of the Mason-Dixon Field Guides, Log Cabin is here!

Happy weekending, everyone—



Books lately

Books lately

In addition to the two gems that went into the shop recently (ALJ and The Artisan), there have been a lot of beautiful, inspiring, thought-provoking books piling up on my table over the last … uhhh .. nine months or so that I’ve been wanting to tell you about. Here they are all at once!

The New Garconne: How to Be a Modern Gentlewoman by Navaz Batliwalla has no DIY angle and isn’t even specific to slow fashion, per se, but the women featured are the sort who take their wardrobes seriously — in the sense that they add pieces with thought and intention and expect to wear them for years, whether they’re bought new or vintage. I.e., the normal attitude from the days when we didn’t need a special term for it! It’s a collection of interviews with a variety of women — artist, fashion editor, perfumer, etc. — about their clothes and their lives (peppered with informal shots of their homes and workspaces), followed by a one-page tribute to each of the key wardrobe elements and a bunch of great street-style shots of additional women of great style. It’s beautifully designed, fun to flip through, definitely on the aspirational side, and I’m rationing the 14 interviews for myself to make it last a while. (Hardcover)

The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees grew out of the wardrobe-planning blog Into Mind, which you may remember me raving about here. It’s an encyclopedic guide to re/building a wardrobe, with guidance on everything from choosing a color palette to understanding what works for you to being a more conscious consumer. It’s quite dense and I haven’t gotten to read any of it yet but have seen lots of raves, and would love to hear below from anyone who’s spent real time with it. (Paperback with French flaps)

In Search of the World’s Finest Wools by Dominic Dormeuil and Jean-Baptiste Rabouan is a big, gorgeous glossy coffee-table book — a tribute to the farmers and herdsmen around the globe (from Australia to Central Asia to South America and beyond) who are literally preserving ancient traditions on which we all depend but who are under increasing global pressures. From the intro: “We must never forget that a splendid cashmere garment worn by a model in a Paris fashion show only exists thanks to a Mongolian nomad … . [Rabouan’s] photographs capture the beauty of traditional methods of animal husbandry, amplified by the magnificence of diverse natural environments. However, this beauty must not blind us to the difficulties facing wool growers everywhere. … [C]an we do enough to ensure the survival of the last guardians of these beautiful and rare fibers? Their disappearance would take with them part of the history of human civilization.” It’s stunning from cover to cover. (Hardcover, sent to me by the publisher)

Color Confident Stitching: How to Create Beautiful Color Palettes by Karen Barbé (I love her) is the perfect intro to color for those who didn’t go to art school and study color theory (as I tend to forget not everyone did). It’s not a textbook — it’s slender and beautiful and accessible — but it’s a fantastic overview of how color works and how you can make it work for you, from how to use and think about the color wheel, to how color affects us and our moods, to how to create a palette for your next project, whatever it may be — colorwork yoke, cross-stitch sampler or living-room decor. In the back of the book are a handful of lovely stitching projects, incorporating embroidery, cross stitch and duplicate stitch on knits. (Paperback with French flaps, sent to me by the publisher)

Cocoknits Sweater Workshop by Julie Weisenberger is one I’ve mentioned before but wanted to include here anyway. This is Julie’s master explanation of her modified top-down methodology which leads to sweaters with English-tailored shoulders and set-in sleeves rather than the common top-down raglan method. She describes the process in the front of the book, explains how to calculate and track the numbers you’ll need, and all of that is followed by eight (highly adaptable) sweater patterns and a detailed run-through of the abbreviations and techniques they employ. Another gorgeous book, and I’m dying to try out her method!


PREVIOUSLY in Books: A Year Between Friends



Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Our forecast for a foot of snow yesterday proved to be way off base. But what we did get was a heavy coating of ice topped with snow. So it was a quiet, work-at-home sort of day — which may be repeated today, depending on what we wake up to. (I’m hoping the roads are safe enough for us to get to the studio and ship the weekend/holiday orders, but please bear with us if that’s not the case.) Whether you’re similarly cooped up at home or just in want of some good yarny links, these are for you—

• What a true knit lover looks like

• I fell into some kind of trance watching this rug being woven

• I’ve been loving the #knittertools tag on Instagram that cropped up in response to my lost tool pouch, but Anna Maltz took it to a whole ‘nother level

• Do you have an emotional support alpaca?  (thx, DG)

Tif Fussell is killing me with the  “woolly tattoos” that have followed her craft-life-changing embroidered mittens, but none more so than this sweater

• Adored the backstory on Dianna Walla’s Swedish Pancakes mitts pattern (which is in Pom Pom issue 12)

If I ever take up quilting …

• And this made me laugh


PREVIOUSLY in Elsewhere

Make, Knit, Mend

Make, Knit, Mend

Something happened to me on Sunday — an almost imperceptible shift in attitude, and yet significant at the same time.

I’m not sure how best to describe it, but let’s say I feel like I crossed some invisible line I’ve been moving toward for decades — first at a saunter and lately at a faster and faster clip. May has been a big, meaning-filled month for me. My closet clean-out has turned into a whole house clean-out. I’ve been packing my already choked calendar with all kinds of opportunities to learn new skills or improve on existing ones. There’s the steady stream of Me Made May pics from all over the hemisphere in my Instagram feed. The other day, I finally made it to The Possible, a sort of exhibit-in-progress (now closed) at the Berkeley Art Museum, which was so moving. Rather than filling the space (the most amazing space) with objects, they filled it with makers — weavers, dyers, printmakers, potters. At the front of the space was a rag rug that had expanded slowly outward for four months as a crew of approved tie-ers pulled from the artful piles of rags at one side (a pile of blues, a pile of reds, etc) and tied and tied and tied. A giant — I mean giant — woven piece had just been hung on a wall above and behind the rug, pieced together from large panels of weaving done on a nearby loom over the course of the exhibition. When my friends and I arrived, there was an Indian man perched on a plywood box in the middle of the rug playing a sort of accordion that sat next to his right ankle and singing in that strange and beautiful Indian style, the space filled with the sound of him and the sunlight. Kristine and Adrienne, from A Verb for Keeping Warm, were part of the dye studio and were at one of the tables tying indigo-dipped strips of fabric around little clay stones for all of the participating artists. (250 of them.) But what interested me most wasn’t the actual stuff that had been made, it was all the evidence and detritus of the making: the looms, the indigo vat, the ironing board, the drawings and photos and swatches tacked up everywhere. I want to live there, in that frame of mind.*

Then on Sunday I went to a workshop at Ogaard called “Boro and Embroidermending.” I love that term! Boro and Sashiko both fascinate me but, while I know them when I see them, I don’t really know anything about them, historically speaking. I’m intrigued by all of the really amazing embroidery floating around these days, but am especially taken with the Visible Mending movement, which of course goes hand in hand with the Slow Fashion movement and the “make do and mend” mentality that came alive again during the economic collapse a few years ago. So I was interested to learn about this Japanese patchwork technique. The workshop teacher, Cory Gunter Brown, had covered the long table in a lovely sackcloth, placed clay bowls of crackers and apricots in the center, along with sprigs of rosemary for our water glasses, and put an indigo furoshiki bundle of supplies at each place at the table. For the next four hours, she talked about the history of boro, read to us, showed us some of her own “embroidermending,” and taught us the basics of sashiko stitching plus one really killer knot. Katrina Rodabaugh was also there as a participant and talked a tiny bit about about the birth of her Make Thrift Mend project. It was a really perfect blend of skills and context being taught and discussed together. And while the actual skills taught were fairly minimal, by the end of class we were all happily stitching away on something of our own that we had brought along.

Somehow all of these things — Me Made May, The Possible, my closet, the boro — gelled in my brain. And by Monday morning, I realized, like I said, something in me had shifted.

Nothing about Lean Closet thinking or conscious consumerism is new to me — far from it. I’ve been a conflicted consumer for decades, and it was really driven home for me a about fifteen years ago when I read “Your Money or Your Life” for the first time. But while I’ve always found store-bought furniture to be frigid, preferring pieces that already haves stories to tell, and believe in adopting pets from the pound and driving the same car for as long as it will run, it’s always been difficult for me to apply the same philosophy to my closet. I always say I don’t want to eat any hamburger a restaurant can afford to sell me for a dollar, and I do feel the same way about $5 t-shirts and $19 merino sweaters, so I broke the disposable-fashion habit (for the most part) several years ago. But as anyone who’s given this stuff much thought at all realizes, it’s a difficult equation of questionably produced cheap fashion, better-crafted clothes with traceable origins that aren’t in most of our budgets, or sewing everything yourself. And even then, where does the fabric come from and was it responsibly made? It’s tricky business.

The garment I was mending in that class on Sunday was my favorite pair of jeans. I got them off the clearance rack at the J.Crew outlet in Napa when we were living there, so they’re at least ten or eleven years old — from the bygone days when “boyfriend jeans” were just called “jeans.” They’re made of good quality denim (so hard to find anymore — at least for under $200) and fit me better than any pair of jeans I’ve ever owned. And they’re full of holes — some of which they came with, but which have expanded over the years. I believe in continuing to own them and wear them, and it makes me feel really good to apply a little boro to them — following an ancient Japanese tradition of making do and mending. I understand my relationship to those jeans, and I realize it’s become much like my relationship to any sweater I’ve knitted for myself: I’m woven into the fabric. As I was sitting there communing with the jeans, I finally understood something about how to better apply those principles to my wardrobe. I am going to re-learn everything I’ve forgotten about sewing, and am committed to making more of my own clothes — along with knitting a fair chunk of them, obviously. But it’s not realistic for me to think I can make all of them. What is realistic, though, is deciding to only invest in clothes I intend to form a long-term relationship with. Clothes I care enough about to commission, modify, personalize, or simply sit down and mend when they need me.


*If you’re on Instagram, definitely take a stroll through #thepossible and also #mmmay14.

The book that made me want to write about books again

Lena Corwin's Made by Hand

You may not know this about me, but in the aughts I ran a site called Readerville, where for nine years I covered books from every possible angle — from reviews to cover critiques to author discussions in the once-booming forum. I knew from having worked several years at Salon how many review copies of books are sent indiscriminately to the addresses of people who publish book reviews, but didn’t grasp what a … shall we say … mixed blessing it is to be on publicists’ mailing lists until the mountains of books began landing on my own doorstep. It took me years to get off some of those lists — not even an unannounced change of address could stop them! So as much as I’ve wanted books to be a part of the mix here at Fringe, I’ve been reluctant to risk finding myself back on those lists. But lately there have been a few books that are just too good not to write about, and first among them is Lena Corwin’s “Made by Hand.”

The story goes that Corwin, an illustrator and textile designer, used to host classes in her New York studio, with her various creative friends teaching their various creative skills. (Including Cal Patch — hi, Cal!) Reading about it makes one envious of everyone who got to teach and/or attend those classes. They ceased a few years ago, but luckily someone had the bright idea to recreate them in book form. So what lives between these covers is twenty-six projects, “taught” by the original slate of instructors, plus a few new ones. I say projects, but really each one is a lesson in a technique — from braiding a rug to tie-dyeing a pillowcase to coiling a bowl — that can be extrapolated and applied in as many ways as you can dream up. Some of them are what you would think of as large-scale undertakings shrunken down to kitchen-table scale, most notably a technique for using a rolling pin to simulate the action of giant rotary fabric-printing machines. And while there’s soap-making and beading and candle-making, nearly all of the projects are fiber-centric: printing and resist-dyeing fabrics; knitting and crocheting everything from socks to garlands to cat toys; weaving on improvised “looms”; sewing; embroidery; braiding; fabric origami; the list goes on. And the book manages to be extremely beautiful without failing to be useful: Every project is accompanied by copious step-by-step photos, diagrams and patterns, along with the materials lists and instructions.

Ever since I first stumbled across Jenny Gordy’s blog posts about her socks, I’ve been wishing she’d publish her pattern, and here it is! But there are so many wonderful, fundamental skills to be learned here, it’s hard to decide where to start.

Lena Corwin's Made by Hand

Next of the best of Spring 2014: Stitches and fringe at TSE

TSE fringed sweater

TSE embroidered top

TSE fringe sweater set

A little fringe-hemmed sleeveless sweater hanging out of a structured chambray top? Yes. A black trapeze tee (in silk? voile?) embroidered all over in midnight blue? Yes. That fringed shell again in black, paired with a slouchy black cardigan? YES.

I’m loving these pieces from TSE Spring 2014.