Reorganizing my to-knit list

Reorganizing my to-knit list

Sooooo, wardrobe planning. Where was I? Let’s see: handmade wardrobe, quicker sweaters, choosing wisely … right. My very favorite thing about making my own clothes — control freak that I am — is having near-total control. You know what it’s like to decide you want some specific thing and then try to find it: Impossible. But if you’re making things yourself, you have a little more flexibility to actually imagine your ideal wardrobe and then bring it to fruition, as opposed to being at the mercy of what’s in stores. I’m saying “near-total” and “a little more flexibility” because unless you’re weaving your own fabric or spinning and dyeing your own yarn, you’re still a little at the mercy of what’s in stores — they’re just different kinds of stores.

Still and all, I am dreaming up the basics I want in my closet and working out those little issues of what yarns and fabrics are available — and that includes shopping my stash. I have three more basic/timeless cardigans at the head of the list (and tops to go under them, but that’s for another post): Bellows, being a chunky, slouchy shawl-collar; Uniform, being a classic v-neck, without the shaped neckband; and Channel, being a more refined shawl-collar. And I want them in just the right combination of timeless neutrals. (To add to my ivory Amanda cable sweater, brown Acer cable-and-lace jobbie, and purple Trillium, the one spot of color.)

I’m nearing the end of Amanda and have found myself plagued by it and by my mental wranglings over what yarn to use for Bellows. Tormented! In my sleep. I knew I wanted (needed — both from a quick-finish and freezing-weather perspective) Bellows to be next, but could not figure out the right yarn. Or even the right color. I was thinking light heather grey, since Channel is meant to be charcoal and camel-colored yarn is so distressingly hard to come by. But after debating every possible worsted-weight (held double) and bulky on the market, I finally realized the answer was right in front of me. When I first ordered the Graphite O-Wool Balance for Channel, I ordered 21 skeins and had no idea why so much. I just had to have it. Then came the realization that I was going to have to alternate skeins for the entire sweater, which is unfortunate. After swatching for Bellows with O-Wool Balance Bulky (in the color I just happened to have in my stash, a light purple), and not loving the stitch pattern, I started wondering if I even really wanted this sweater. I decided to knit another swatch holding two strands of the graphite Balance together, and I fell in love with that swatch and got more excited than ever. As fabulous as Channel was looking in this color, it was meant for Bellows, and the universe told me to buy enough way back when. Right? Plus using the yarn held double means the skeins will automatically be blended, especially if I stagger the ends. It’s perfect on every level.

Then there’s Uniform. Since tossing off the idea of reassigning my Slade yarn to Uniform, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of this ultra-classic sweater in army green. I’m trying to work out if I can eke it out of the mismatched skeins I have (and feel like dealing with possible gauge differences) or if I’ll need to choose something else. If it does have to be something else, leading candidates are Knightsbridge in Bishop’s Green and Balance again in Malachite. But I love the idea of two sweaters from stash.

So where does that leave Channel? I’m not 100% sure. I want it to either be a silvery heather grey, light camel, or a tweedy oatmeal. And I want the yarn less rustic than some of the others, more snuggly around my neck. So I’m exploring my nicely-plied merino options, for softness with stitch definition. I’m particularly curious about Shepherd’s Wool, and have ordered a ball for swatching. If you’ve knitted with it, I’d love to hear your thoughts about how it wears. And if you have any other recommendations for worsted-weight, soft but not gooey, heather/tweed neutrals and affordable, I’d love to hear it!


Slade update + Fringe holiday open house!

Slade cardigan in progress

So I wanted to show you my (very little) Slade progress — lest you think I’ve left off knitting altogether — and as I was laying it out for this photo, I had the urge to put the second sleeve on top of the first just to illustrate a point. The point being: the power of blocking. Much of the difference between the blocked sleeve and the not-yet-blocked one is obvious, although what you can’t tell from the photo is the difference in the feel and drape of the fabric. But a funny thing happened on the way to this photo. See how the camera is picking up on brown undertones in the yarn, and even thinks the upper part of the second sleeve was knitted with a distinctly browner skein than the rest? I can’t see any of that, whatsoever, with my naked eye. But now I’m worried my sleeve is two different colors and I’m just too blind to see it! #thingsoldpeopleworryabout

Fringe Supply Co.'s Sit & Knit & Shop & Sip eventRegardless, onward I shall knit. And I’ll be working on this come Saturday and the aforementioned Open House, which I’ve since dubbed the Fringe Supply Co. Sit & Knit & Shop & Sip event here at the Fringe mini-warehouse. That’s this Saturday, tomorrow, December 7th, from 2-5pm, 1450 4th St in Berkeley CA. I’ll have hyper-local pilsner,* some bubbly, cheese and chocolate.


And speaking of chocolate: Because I love chocolate and I love my customers, all Fringe Supply Co. orders from today through Christmas Eve (assuming my supply holds out) will have a little square of Poco Dolce tucked inside. There are a lot of illustrious chocolates to have originated in SF, but for my money nothing beats Poco Dolce. If you’ve never had it, I’ll just say that it’s as if I were sticking a gold coin in each order. I wish there was a way I could send one to every blog reader everywhere, because I love you as much as I love chocolate. If only my pockets were lined with gold …


*The Trumer brewery (gold-medal pilsner!) is less than a block away.

Test driving my sleeve-swatch

Slade cardigan in progress

This is a picture of me being more diligent than I have perhaps ever been about anything. Also: putting the slow in slow fashion. Toward the end of last month, I accepted the fact that all I have headroom for right now is stockinette. But you know how I like to always be learning something new, so I decided it’s time to make an old-school seamed sweater.

Last summer, my friends at Shibui sent me a big box of yarn, including a sweater’s worth of their Merino Alpaca in this artichoke color I love. I’d been looking for just the right thing to do with it, when along came Slade. It seemed to me the two might be made for each other. Knitted in this yarn, in this color, I suspected it would look like it could actually be Army-issue — if the Army had a taste for fine yarns. An officer’s sweater maybe, from the days when things were still made of wool. Right? On the one hand this a nice, relatively mindless project, being a whole bunch of stockinette. But on the other hand, since I’m changing the yarn (and with it the row gauge) and some of the shaping, and have never dealt with mods or discrepancies around a set-in sleeve before, it’s also a whole new experience. I told myself going in that I would not rush it. If I get it right, this is a sweater I will wear for years, so I might as well take my time knitting it and make sure I do, in fact, get it right.

I admit it might be taking a little longer than I intended.

I’m a big believer in the sleeve-as-swatch theory of sweater knitting. (The best swatch is a big swatch, so why not a sleeve?) So that first week I made this sleeve. And a couple weeks later, I blocked it. It blocked beautifully — I’m in love with the fabric. The widths are all exactly as intended. I intentionally made the sleeve longer and a little narrower at the wrist than the pattern calls for, but the armhole is deeper than the pattern dimensions, because my row gauge is bigger. So I did some number-crunching and pondering, and asked Michele Wang some noob questions. And it sat in its bag, waiting.

The other night, I was having a mild case of that out-of-sorts feeling that comes from not knitting for days — you know the one — so I took five minutes and pinned the sleeve along the eventual seam, so I could pull it on. (It’s kind of weird how much good that five minutes of interacting with yarn did me.) And then yesterday I pinned it to this shirt — a shirt of my husband’s I cut the neck and sleeves off of long ago — and wore it around a little bit to see how it felt. After a month, and all that due diligence, this sweater is officially a go.


The reason for no knitting this week? The overwhelming response to the Yarn Pyramid. I have been shipping nonstop, all over the globe (and to a couple of new stores I’ll announce next week), and am so thrilled that you all love it so much. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who has not only ordered it or visited one of the stockists to buy it, but who has blogged about it or shared it on social media or even just said to me how much you like it. It means so, so much to me. And if you’re someone who got a crazy international shipping quote from me in the first couple of days, I have better news for you and will be in touch.

By the way, if you’re not on the Fringe Supply Co. mailing list, you might want to pop over there and plug your email address into the sign-up box. Just sayin’.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Love to hear what you’re working on …


New Favorites: Men’s cardigans a girl could love

Men's cardigans a girl could love

I’ve still got cardigans on the brain, but the lower the temperature drops, the more I find myself looking at the various men’s sweaters in my favorites lists. Why is it that guy sweaters just seem warmer? Given how few men there are in the world who are willing to wear a cardigan, it’s also sort of unfair how many great patterns there are. I know there are girl equivalents of these, but I’m picturing myself in:

TOP LEFT: Man’s Cable Cardigan pattern by Josh Bennett — I’ve met Bennett’s own Felted Tweed version of this and longed for it ever since

TOP RIGHT: East Hale Cardigan pattern by Alexis Winslow — sporty, simple and cozy, with zip front

BOTTOM LEFT: Slade cardigan pattern by Michele Wang — don’t tell anyone, but I may have cast on a sleeve late Sunday night

BOTTOM RIGHT: Tristan cardigan pattern by Todd Gocken — totally retro and I totally want it

There’s also (the aforementioned) Timberline, EZ’s Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan, and the list goes on …