Winter wardrobe results: Or, what to remember next year

Winter wardrobe results: Or, what to do next year

The time I spent on my Winter wardrobe planning in November was so well spent, it turns out, and I’m eager to do it again for Spring. But first I want to make some notes about how the Winter plans worked out — as guidance for next year. For one thing, I find there’s always a genuine difference between what I think I’ll want to wear during a certain season (say, when fantasizing about Fall during the heat of Summer) and what I actually want to wear when I’m in that season. But also because I don’t want to lose track of the little bits of things I learned by paying attention this time around.

Mostly, my outfit plans worked out great. I did literally print them out and tape them up next to my closet, like a huge dork, but it saved me time on a number of mornings — being able to just glance at that, pick out what spoke to me at that moment, and throw it on. And it definitely kept me from unfortunate impulse purchases or cast-ons. But there were still too many mornings where I stood in front of the closet staring, because there were some flaws in the plan and/or my implementation of it.

– My best trick this winter was wearing my big black-and-blue wool plaid shirt or my denim shirt-jacket like a cardigan, basically — as a top layer. This was in part because I simply really like the look, and also because I’m coming up a little short on actual cardigans. The outfit I repeated the most often and felt the most comfortable in was the big plaid shirt over the dotted chambray Endless Summer tunic with blue jeans and boots.
– Related: I love my black-and-white flannel shirt more than I can say, and would wear it every single day if I could. I would really like to feel that strongly about everything in my closet.
My Bellows cardigan continues to be my most-worn garment, and I’m in real jeopardy of growing sick of it at this point, so it’s great that I’ll soon have my Channel cardigan to alternate with.
– I wore the short-sleeved black lopi sweater at least 1-2 times per week, far more than expected. It was the perfect thing for this mild winter.
– Shrinking my Amanda cardigan a bit did result in my wearing it a few times, and I think with solving some of the other problems (below) I’ll get even more wear out of it next year.

– Nearly all of the outfits incorporating the sleeveless black silk gauze top, which looked great on paper and I was and still am eager to wear, didn’t work in reality because the length of the front of that top (and the blue striped version) is awkward for layering. Between that and my linen tunic having gotten too shabby looking to wear in most circumstances, I have a shortage of underlayer tops to rely on. That dotted chambray tunic is pulling all the weight.
– All of the outfits incorporating the grey vest, which again I loved in theory and really want to wear, were not possible because I never got around to fixing the buttons.
– Likewise, the outfits with the sleeveless black turtleneck over a long-sleeved shirt depended on my blocking that out a bit larger, which I still haven’t done.
My black cropped cardigan is too cropped. It works great with the limited things it works with, but would be far more useful if a couple inches longer.

– Make/acquire a few longer underlayer tops
– Fix the buttons on the grey vest
– Block the sleeveless black turtleneck out bigger
– Lengthen the black cardigan

– I really like for my neck to be warm. The reason the black-and-blue wool shirt (and the b/w flannel shirt) got so much wear is I would turn up the collar and button the top couple of buttons (with a contrasting underlayer top peeking out down below) and I felt super cute and cozy. I also wore the big old grey H&M turtleneck several times, but it’s feeling really ratty at this stage in its long life. My instinct to knit myself a big cozy turtleneck sweater is spot on.
– As much as I love the grey wool men’s shirt and layering with it, it’s the standout example of a thing that happens to me every Winter. Which is, what I want after New Year’s is completely different from what I want during the Fall and holidays. I always have an urge to lighten up — the things that felt cozy a week or three earlier suddenly feel dour and depressing — once we’re headed downhill toward Spring. So I was heavily dependent on that shirt in the outfit lineup and in the last few weeks of the year, but then I was basically without it as an option as of mid-Jan or so. I need to anticipate and plan for that shift.
– The natural denim jeans have been a real difference maker in my overly blue-jean-dependent closet, but I would like to be generally less dependent on jeans next year.

The upside of the “didn’t work” list is that there are a lot of outfits in the lineup that I still want to wear and am not tired of, having not gotten to wear them! Plus I finished two excellent pullovers late in the season (the striped raglan and the colorwork yoke, up top) so I have all of that to look forward to next year.

For details on the garments above, see my winter closet inventory.


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: St. Brendan outfits!

Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

When I first started doing these Queue Check posts a couple of years ago, it was at least partly to try to get myself to focus, but in the earlier posts I was still ping-ponging around between projects, with new ideas about what to cast on every month. Lately, I’ve been so disciplined and, well let’s face it, so slooow that the posts have been more WIP status than queue planning. Honestly, I’ve been scared to distract myself from the sweaters at hand because I want them so badly. But after this week of Winter ’16 Wardrobe Planning posts, I feel like I can safely start projecting into the future again.

DECEMBER PLANS: I swore to myself I would have my striped sweater finished before it came around to Queue Check again. I was convinced I’d be finishing it last weekend, but I wound up (happily) with houseguests, so that didn’t happen. But after the Oct-Nov slow spell while I had so much else going on, I’ve been making headway on the sleeves lately. It’s amazing how quickly things can go when you actually work on them! So I’m hoping ol’ stripey will be done by the end of this weekend, and the next time you see it will be a FO post. (That’s Shibui Pebble, and an improvised top-down raglan.)

After that, all attention and energy will be in seeing how quickly I can move my Channel Cardigan along (yarn is Clever Camel, undyed). Even though the first sleeve went very quickly, I know this sweater is a lot of knitting — the collar alone with take some serious time. But I want to see how far I can get with it before Christmas, because …

Then I have a road trip, and I’m thinking of seeing if I can knit a Carrowkeel within the space of that trip. I’m pondering using Arranmore in Cronan but haven’t seen the color in person yet, so can’t be sure.

And then it’s a question of next priorities heading into January. These three of the six sweaters I proposed on Monday are what’s elbowing their way to the front of my brain:

Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

ABOVE LEFT: I am really stuck on this idea of a big cardigan-coat. I’m haunted by Jenny Gordy’s, and also obsessing over this Lauren Manoogian number. I’m considering the possibility of using my Sawkill Farm trove for it, held double, and will swatch soon and see what I think about that. It could actually be a really quick project at bulky gauge, and extremely useful.

ABOVE MIDDLE: I’ve never been anything but serious about St. Brendan, but last night I went so far as to order the yarn.

ABOVE RIGHT: is the simple pullover I’m needing and dreaming of, and there’s nothing I want more than to have Junegrass on my needles. But as I said Monday (and so many of you have said in the meantime!) I can solve the pullover problem more quickly by sewing a Linden or two. So that’s high priority and this Junegrass pullover will likely be in line right behind St. Brendan. And then I also eventually want the same sweater in a nice rich camel.

This week has been amazing for me in terms of really getting my head around what’s in my closet, how to wear it, and what I need and want to do next. In fact, it’s opened my eyes to the fact that I have what I’ve always wanted: a small collection of highly combinable pieces. (I.e., Garanimals for grown-ups.) So my challenge now is to keep adding very thoughtfully, keeping it reined in while still indulging in and enjoying the process of making clothes and augmenting a wardrobe.

In addition to the above adjustments/additions to my knitting queue, here are the other to-do’s that came out of it all—

– nice “sweatshirt” or two
– denim shirt?? or light-blue shirting (or buy?)
– black/ivory striped sleeveless tee
– white underlayer top of some kind

– re-sew buttons on grey vest
– block black sleeveless turtleneck out a bit larger
– mend the mended jeans
– mend light-blue sleeveless chambray top

– new jeans
– black silk band-collar top?
– tan/cognac shoes, clogs or ankle boots

Also: Do another clean-out of the things that aren’t getting worn and find them happy new homes.


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: October 2016

Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3

Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3

So this is the funnest game ever. I’m calling it Closet Rummy, and I could play all day! Pushing the images of these 25 garments around on my screen yesterday, I quickly put together 29 outfits — and could easily have kept going. And that’s without the two sweaters in progress, which will have exponential impact. So it turns out I was right the first time — I’m in pretty good shape, and apparently my struggle to get dressed in the morning has been simply a lack of attention or imagination, not any grave deficiencies. Also: this whole conscious and deliberate planning thing works!

There is one small problem here (apart from the very real but non-earth-shattering pullover dearth) which is the jeans shortage. Even if I could, in theory, get by on just these three pairs of pants, it’s not realistic to think I can wear the natural jeans to the studio as often as that would require. But if I mend the less dire pair of faded friends and pick up a new pair, I’m golden. And in the nice-to-have category, I’d like a dressier top that can be worn with either of the menswear-ish vests without the combo looking too mannish.

But meanwhile, after all of this, I feel good about my ability to get dressed! I’m seriously just going to print all of this out, tape it to the inside of my closet door, and check ’em off for the next two months! No further thinking required.

For the specific details and links for all of the individual garments pictured here, see yesterday’s Closet Inventory.

Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3
Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3
Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3
Outfits! : Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 3

Fashionary panels are the best thing ever.
– Please pardon the WIP shot of the black cardigan — it is finished.
– I’m feeling the lack of camel in all this, missing my beloved old camel cable cardigan, more eager than ever to add my camel Channel to this mix.


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning:

Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 2: Closet inventory

Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 2: Closet inventory

Here’s a thing I’ve never done before: Literally laid the contents of my closet out flat in front of me so I could see it all at once, albeit on my laptop screen in the form of tiny photos. Wow, helpful! This is not every single garment in my closet — it is only the items that are relevant to my getting dressed right now, in my current circumstances, season and frame of mind. Well, these things plus a handful of well-loved graphic tees that I do use for layering sometimes, plus a couple of dresses that may make an appearance once or twice this winter. But as I said yesterday, all I’m in the mood for right now is “jeans and a sweater” — the very rut I’ve been trying to break out of! But I’m trying to be realistic here. Not all of these things are being worn (or even up to being worn) at the moment, which I’ll address below, but this little exercise was immediately useful in the opposite way as well: I’m giving the hairy eyeball to anything that’s seasonally appropriate but didn’t make this cut. Those things need to find new homes!

So what do I have? Going across the rows from left to right, with an * indicating things that are either at end-of-life or not currently being worn for some reason. Store-bought garments are identified by origin. For the me-made garments, click through on any of the links for bigger pics/full details —

– Denim shirt-jacket (J.Crew c.2003)
– Black-and-white plaid flannel shirt (Uniqlo c.2011)
– Denim workshirt* (Madewell c.2012)
– Grey wool button-down (Fischer)
– Navy-and-black plaid heavy flannel button-down (Fischer)

The two wool Fischer shirts are US-made, bought last year when I was desperate for shirts with sleeves. They’re men’s shirts, as is the b/w plaid flannel, so they have to be worn sort of carefully if I don’t want to look like a dude. (I’m all about androgyny but it’s a fine line, especially if you’re mannish like me.) The denim shirt is probably my most-worn garment, has reached a state of overall transparency, and desperately needs to be replaced. I love the idea of sewing a replacement, but realistically I should look for a good known-origins option to buy. The navy-and-black one is more of an overshirt or shirt-jacket. No real needs in this category, although I am wanting a white shirt/top of some sort.

– Plaid cotton top (apparently never blogged)
Black hemp jersey muscle tee
Blue striped sleeveless top
Black silk gauze sleeveless top
– Chambray dot Endless Summer tunic (made by a friend)

These are all in heavy rotation, which makes me really happy since they’re all handmade — all good use of time and fabric. I also have the three Lakeside camisole tops I made over the summer, which are great layered under pullovers, but I’m short on pullovers to pull over them (see below). As I solve that, those will come into play. (Why not under cardigans? I prefer a higher neckline for that.) So I feel good about this category — there are things I’d like to add, especially the long-planned black/ivory stripe version of the sleeveless tee — but nothing I have to concern myself with between now and Spring.

Cowichan-style vest
Black Anna vest
Grey vintage waistcoat
Black sleeveless turtleneck*

I love all of these, but love vests best over sleeveless things, so I’m making more effort to wear these in other ways — like my natural jeans (below) with the Cowichan over either the grey wool shirt or the b/w flannel instead of, say, the sleeveless black tee; or the grey vest over the plaid top and under the black cardigan, which is a favorite combo. The Cowichan is probably my very favorite thing I own — in the sense that I’m super proud of the knitting, it’s a really fantastic and unique piece of clothing, and I feel really cute in it. The black and grey vests are both immensely useful; the sleeveless turtleneck is one I need to get more creative about since I almost never wear it and am not ok with that. So no needs in this category other than just making more use of what I have.

– Cotton fisherman sweater (L.L. Bean c.2010 but still available)
Black lopi raglan*
Blue Loopy Mango sweater*
– Grey cashmere fitted turtleneck (J.Crew c.2009)
– Grey men’s cable turtleneck (H&M 2003)

OK, so here’s the big problem spot, just like I thought. I love the cotton fisherman sweater and wear it constantly but it is not at all warm. I love the lopi sweater but it is very warm; the short sleeves offset that in the transitional seasons but make it not as useful as it could be in its more natural season. If I make the sleeves long, which I probably should, it’s a deep-winter-only sweater. The blue blob still amuses me but in addition to being superbulky (i.e. winter warm) it’s not the easiest garment to build outfits around, as predicted. And I love and wear both turtlenecks heavily, but only during the middle of winter, obviously. Of the things I’m itching to make, St. Brendan will be extremely useful but not wildly season-spanning, if I’m being honest. (I’m making it anyway!) And I mentioned yesterday also wanting another really big cozy turtleneck, but that is also of limited use. What I’m most sorely lacking are the few simple light- to mid-weight, three-season sweaters that make the most sense for my life. I’ll have ONE as soon as I finish my striped sweater, but this is a situation I need to take seriously and not get too distracted by heavier, cozier sweaters just because winter is literally breathing down my neck right now. A couple of good sweatshirts would at least help, and be far quicker to make, but thin/warm basic pullovers should be my top priority. OR, sew a couple of sweatshirts and knit a couple of very quick winter things, like St. Brendan or the big turtleneck! That might be the best plan for the near term. Then prioritize lighter pullovers for 2017 knitting.

Black wool-linen cropped cardigan
Charcoal shawl-collar Bellows cardigan
Ivory wool-cotton Amanda cable cardigan*
Purple Trillium cardigan*

The black cardigan is an obvious workhorse, and I’ve noted I wear Bellows in the studio year-round. If it’s not waiting for me over the back of my desk chair, it’s in the front seat of my car — always within reach. I expect my Channel in progress to be every bit as useful, and it will be good to have a cozier, woolier shawl-collar, since my Bellows is half cotton. So that will make it three good cardigans, at least two of which can be worn indoors year-round. We’ve talked about my struggles with Amanda; what I haven’t told you is I deliberately shrunk it a little to see what impact that would have on my actually ever leaving the house in it. As dirty as I get at work these days, I haven’t dared attempt to wear it, so it’s still taking up closet space without getting worn. As I’m typing this, I’m wearing my beloved but otherwise-neglected Trillium — that is, I’m wearing it at home with leggings and slippers. It is so light and warm, not stuffy, and I absolutely love the way it fits — plus there’s all the sentimental value — but I can’t seem to make outfits with it that feel like me right now. So that’s my challenge to myself: getting this back into regular rotation. I definitely feel like the cardigans I outlined in yesterday’s post will be very worthwhile additions, at whatever point I fit them into my queue.

– Natural denim jeans (Imogene+Willie, made in US)
– Dark cropped jeans (J.Crew Point Sur, made in US)
– Camo pants (Gap c.2009)
– Faded jeans 1, visibly mended* (J.Crew c.2003)
– Faded jeans 2* (Old Navy c.2013)

The first two pair of jeans were both bought this year and I love both. The natural ones are hard to wear to work but my favorite thing to make outfits with! The camo pants are my oldest and all-time favorite pants — the fit of them is amazing — but they are worn to the point of having been mended once with more tears forming as we speak. The beauty of camo is the mending isn’t even necessarily visible! I’ll keep these alive as long as possible. The older of the faded jeans have been repeatedly visibly mended over the past couple of years but have a new very large rift across the left thigh, so they can’t be worn until I address that. The last pair are the ones I’ve mentioned are tissue thin and shred so so easily at this point. They’re in need of major shoring up, which I just don’t know when I’ll get to. So I’m out my two dearest pair of jeans. As was noted in the comments yesterday, these are both at the point that even if I mend them, I can no longer wear them in hardwearing circumstances, so I really need to break down and buy another pair of jeans. One day I’ll attempt to make some, but not likely in the very near future. I should note that I also have a pair of wide-cropped khaki pants that didn’t make it into the photo queue!

So that’s my inventory. Tomorrow: outfits. And then I’ll form a plan of attack.

(Can you believe 15 of these 28 garments are handmade? I never would have thought that possible a couple of years ago!)


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Winter ’16 wants and needs

Winter ’16 wardrobe planning, Part 1: Wants and needs

Winter '16 wardrobe planning, Part 1: Wants and needs

Remember that thing I said about how I’ve reached the point of having a mostly functional wardrobe again? Wellll, then the weather finally turned and I was quickly reminded that I still have a very serious sweater shortage — especially in the pullover department. I am cold, and having a serious conversation with myself about why I knit so many sleeveless things. The only “silhouette” I’m interested in right now is “jeans and a sweater.” And on top of the sweater shortage, two of my three pairs of jeans are ripped beyond wearability, awaiting repair. In short: I am having a terrible time getting dressed in the morning.

Between those frustrations and my being too busy to think about it, wardrobe planning of any kind has not happened this Fall. But since I actually am required to get dressed before leaving the house each day, it’s a problem that must be solved. So I finally managed to clear out some headspace, get out my trusty Fashionary panels and pencil, and set about sorting it out. The result is what I’m calling Wardrobe Planning Week! Starting today with wants and needs, then taking inventory of what I actually have, and seeing where that leaves me in terms of what to do about it. Ready?


I mentioned before that I had created a Fall ’16 Mood board at Pinterest, and that my striped sweater in progress grew directly out of that. I love mood boards but have never really made them for myself, and this one has proved incredibly useful. Really it’s my any-season-all-the-time mood board, as it’s the things I always love: neutrals married with stripes, plaids and texture; clean/classic shapes but with a bit of exaggeration or detail that makes them special; and a core palette of black, white, cream, camel, grey, cognac and denim/faded denim/baby blue. Things I will always find irresistible: faded denim with black-and-white; camel and khaki, camel and light blue; a perfect trench or camel coat; a simple grey or camel sweater with jeans. Looking at this mood board and at the projects in progress — namely the b/w striped sweater and camel shawl-collar (Channel) pictured up top — and the yarn and fabric on my shelves makes me feel really good about how well, lately, I’ve been sticking to how I actually love to dress. The challenge is still in identifying the remaining gaps in my closet and filling them smartly.


It might be more accurate to label this “things I think I need.” Once again, as I’m standing in front of my closet struggling to get dressed, I ask myself what it is I’m wanting that isn’t in there. My great challenge continues to be how cold it is in my studio, compounded by the fact that I also get quite dirty several days of the week, hauling assorted shipments of whatnot in and out of my car and to and from our factories, which is probably why the only thing I ever want to put on is jeans and a sweater. From asking myself what I’m looking for and not finding (in that department) I’ve come up with the following six things, which correspond to the set of six drawings above:

UPPER ROW LEFT: The most basic of pullovers — the sort of thing I wish I had two or three of, yet I have none. And I think it’s what I want to use my beloved grey Junegrass for. Role models include Julie Hoover’s new Addison (except drop-shoulder sleeves and I don’t get along) and this Everlane sweater, but mine won’t be quite that wide.

UPPER ROW CENTER: Nothing would make me happier than if every single day I could just put on an oversized, crotch-length turtleneck and know I would be comfy and warm all day. I have one such sweater in my closet — a 13-year-old grey cable turtleneck that I rely on — but I feel like a second one would be a very worthy addition. And since I’d like it to be aran or bulky weight, it would be relatively quick to accomplish. I love Carrowkeel. I also have this idea for a simple top-down, compound-raglan job with a big ol’ neck and ribbing just in the sleeve tops, but I also tried on Norah Gaughan’s Riptide last month and loved it. That would be more fun to knit, but the sketch is probably more me.

UPPER ROW RIGHT: St. Brendan, of course — in a duplicate of the black/neutral colorway of the sample — which I’m becoming a broken record about. This will add some needed pattern to my wardrobe; it’ll be fairly quick to knit at aran gauge; and it goes with every pair of jeans and pants I own. So it’s a no-brainer.

BOTTOM ROW LEFT: Vidje, which I’m thinking of as my major undertaking of 2017, and there’s no way it will exist until at least next winter. But no discussion of what I’m thinking of adding to my queue can exclude this one. It will be grey.

BOTTOM ROW CENTER: I just finished the black cropped one, but I still want another super basic cardigan like this in the mix. It might be a b/w marl (to replace a Madewell sweater I miss having) or might be pale blue, not sure. This one is high desirability but lower priority.

BOTTOM ROW RIGHT: I can’t get that Jenny Gordy outfit out of my head — it’s super close to how I dress (in fact, my Bellows plus plaid top and jeans is one of my go-to outfits), just with the cardigan greatly exaggerated. The version of it that has set up camp in my brain is reined in just a tiny bit, also top-down raglan (again, no drop-shoulders for me), bulky gauge, with a generous foldover ribbed shawl collar. Big enough to go over everything — including my turtleneck sweater(s)! — and as useful lounging around the house as in the studio.

I’m saying “things I think I need” because my next step is to look very systematically at what I do in fact own, and thus which of these “needs” are the most and least pressing. But there are non-sweater items I need as well:

• A white top of some kind for layering, despite what I said a minute ago about getting dirty.

• A presentable sweatshirt or three. That wool gauze pullover I made last January to help fill the pullover gap shrunk to the point I gave it to an 8-year-old, so I’d like to repeat the pattern with some charcoal melton I have. I want to make a basic grey Linden sweatshirt, too, plus I have some grey wool-knit remnant pieces that I’m hoping are enough to make a sort of dressed-up version. That would take some of the pressure off the knitting list.

• A replacement for my now-threadbare denim workshirt. You can literally see through it. Might be time for me to take a deep breath and try to tackle an Archer.

• A woolly headband or drawstring-top hat or something that can be worn on the trail with my hair in a wad on the top/back of my head.

• Some wool footie socks.

OK, so that’s it for the fantasizing and scheming — tomorrow I’m taking inventory of what I actually have!


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