WIPs of the Week No.7 (and fun new stuff!)

WIP of the Week No.7: Kelsey

I’m going to say I’m at a loss for words and then proceed to write quite a lot of them, but I guess what I mean is that I’m not in possession of the right words to describe what the Top-Down Knitalong has been like. I’ve talked a lot about the amazing attitudes on display, but the variety and creativity is also well and truly remarkable. Participants have ranged from sweater novices to sweater aficionados who’d never done top-down to published sweater-pattern designers scratching a creative itch. The sweaters run the gamut from classic stockinette pullovers to elaborate colorwork and cables, and in every shape and proportion imaginable. (Check out the clever construction on this and this, for example.) And the stories! The sweater designed by her 10-y-o; the dude who said “I would totally wear this” and is getting one of his own; the top-down dog sweater; great-grandma’s yarn … If I were to try to post a highlight reel here, it would be hundreds of sweaters long — truly every single sweater deserves acclaim, and the whole thing is such a reward for time spent perusing it, both on Instagram and on Ravelry. Alas, I have two final bonus prizes to award, and picking them was both simple and impossible.

Above is the honey-colored cable sweater by Kelsey, who is @kelseyknits on Instagram and kelseyknits on Ravelry. She was so excited about her swatches she cast on a couple days early and has been one of the stars of the show ever since. There haven’t been many days when her latest pic wasn’t in the Top Posts section of the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed, so in love has everyone been with her progress. She’s said she wanted to get outside her comfort zone with both the color and the deployment of the cable patterns on her top-down raglan, and I’d say it paid off! Kelsey, you’ve won 7 skeins of Father from YOTH Yarns, gorgeous US-grown and -milled Rambouillet, in the in-stock color of your choosing. Drop me an email at contact@fringesupplyco.com and we’ll discuss how to get it to you!

WIP of the Week No.7: Orlane

And the remaining prize goes to Orlane, who is @tete_beche on Instagram and orlane on Ravelry (and the creator of the Textured Shawl Recipe I’ve knitted three times and explicated here). Orlane’s sweater is undeniably beautiful, but it gets better and better the more you know and the closer you look. She’s French and used some gorgeous farmy yarn from Brittany, one skein of which she avocado-dyed. She smartly didn’t start the colorwork until just below the neck join, then stuck with simple geometric repeats centered within the stitch counts between the raglans. My favorite detail, though, is not just the folded hem (which I’m totally into right now) but the fact that she gave it a striped facing. It’s amazing from start to finish. Orlane, you’ve won the 15 skeins of small-batch California-grown Range from A Verb for Keeping Warm in your choice of Lighthouse and/or Quartz colorways! Please email me at contact@fringesupplyco.com with your choice and mailing address!

Both have amazing IG feeds and tons more pics of their sweaters all along the way, so make sure you click through and check them out.

I want to say a huge thanks again to all of our prize donors: Shibui, Purl Soho, Brooklyn Tweed, O-Wool, Woolfolk, Kelbourne Woolens, A Verb for Keeping Warm and YOTH Yarns. You’ve been amazingly generous!

And I want to congratulate all of the WIP of the Week winners and, truly, every single person who took on this challenge. The knitalong doesn’t end here — all four panelists are still knitting and so are countless others — so keep using that #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 tag to share. If you’re following my tutorial, please link your Ravelry project to the Improv sweater pattern page so I can see. And I want to say again I’m truly so inspired and in awe of all of you. You’ve taught me so much about being a brave and determined knitter, and you’ve done the knitting community proud with all of the support and advice and camaraderie you’ve provided each other along the way. It’s been an honor! And I mean it: keep it coming! (I’ll do my best to keep up, but Slow Fashion October also starts tomorrow! So please understand I’ll be juggling.)


New at Fringe Supply Co: bling, cleaner and wax for your beloved Field Bag

We’ve got some really fun stuff in the webshop today: bling, canvas cleaner, canvas wax, and even a small number of Field Bags to apply them all to! (More next week, universe willing.) Click through for details on all of those items, since this post has gone on long enough!

Happy weekend, everyone — see you tomorrow here and over at @slowfashionoctober!


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: Let’s talk about underarms

WIP of the Week No.6 (and more!)

WIP of the Week No.6 (and more!)

The penultimate WIP of the Week award is going to Paige Sato, who is @purlingpaige on IG and purlgurl on Ravelry (and runs the Christmas at Sea program) and has been one of the Top-Down Knitalong standouts from the very first moment. I honestly was a little worried about Paige’s sweater at first. She was doing a circular yoke and short rows and colorwork and all sorts of stuff I knew I would be no help with if it didn’t go exactly right on the first try. It didn’t, of course — because creating things from scratch almost always takes some trial and error — and Paige also decided to complicate her complications! After beginning the yoke, she decided she wanted to add a steek for a half-zip neck, which threw off her math. I got more and more nervous as she tweaked and tweaked but she was completely unfazed, and before long she had this amazing yoke going on and a huge smile on her face. This sweater is ambitious and is turning out SO AMAZING. Check her feed for the whole delightful creative process she’s been through with it. And did I mention she stopped in the middle to whip up a pink cowl-neck sweater for a friend’s birthday? Incredible, Paige. So you’ve won 8 skeins of Arranmore in the color of your choosing — please drop me an email with your selection(s) and mailing address! Thank you Kelbourne Woolens for this week’s amazing prize!

Next week is the last week I’ll be handing out bonus prizes, although we’re still knitting and there’s no deadline! No pressure. I actually have TWO prizes to hand out next week! The first is 7 skeins of Father from YOTH Yarns (the yarn Jess is using for her fafkal sweater, and which I’m a huge fan of) in the in-stock color of the winner’s choosing. And the second is 15 skeins of Range from A Verb For Keeping Warm in either Lighthouse or Quartz, which I’m insanely jealous of. Coincidentally, both are US-grown and milled yarns, and both Rambouillet! I’ll be picking the winners for next Friday, so keep those sweater pics and stories coming, using #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 and the comments here to share!


Veg-tan leather wrist ruler — only at Fringe Supply Co.!

I saw my friend Andrea Rangel at the trade show last summer and she was wearing an awesome leather ruler bracelet and I wanted it! For me and for you, but I wanted it to be natural veg-tan leather with a brass button stud, and thankfully the makers agreed to do that just for us! Mine hasn’t left my wrist since they arrived, and you can get yours today exclusively at Fringe Supply Co. And we’ve also restocked a bunch of bestsellers this week, so hop on over and take a peek.


And once again this week, I have just one link for you but a really good one — it’s Stacy London (of What Not to Wear fame) on the weirdness [I know first-hand] of being and dressing 47 in 2016, [Here’s the part where I edited out a bunch of stuff I said on a sticky subject with not enough time to word it carefully so] I look forward to your thoughts on Stacy’s article!

And if you’ve run across any other great links lately, please share them in the comments!

Happy weekend, everyone — thank you for reading!


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: I’m joining the start-over club!

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


WIPs of the Week No.4: Ding and Sari

WIPs of the Week No.4: Ding and Sari

This week in the Top-Down Knitalong has been more encouraging and rewarding and heartwarming than I could ever have imagined. I think of knitting your first improvised top-down sweater as a life-changing experience — and honestly not just as a knitter — but the extent to which that’s been reflected in the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed the past few days leaves me nearly speechless. As does all of the boldness, creativity, determination, heart (as they say in sports), support, advice, and general awesomeness on display. As just a paltry few examples, I offer these notes by @aguillettefashion, @meganann_lynch, @wendlandcd, @kelseyleftwich and @schmidcr. Most charming caption of the week goes to @tinystitchers. And also, these are two of the cutest baby pictures I’ve ever seen: @armenuhik and @abigailrosechapin. So you can imagine the difficulty in choosing one sweater to feature as WIP of the Week, and in fact when it came down to it, I couldn’t choose between the following two:

This week’s bonus prize of 12 skeins of O-Wool Balance goes to Ding Ren, aka @halfcrystalline on Instagram and also halfcrystalline on Ravelry, whose photos are above. Ding is one whose planning and experimenting and enthusiasm and determination and openness has been, I think, encouraging to everyone watching. You’ll find loads of great WIP shots in her IG feed. The particularly nice moment this week, in keeping with the whole of her approach, was when she knitted her split hem, sought feedback, ripped and redid it for a more successful effect — and I’m eager to see it blocked. I’ve loved several of her remarks along the way, including “Live sts used to scare me but now they are exciting when it means the sweater can be exactly the way I want it to be” on this photo, and the number of new techniques she’s tried in the course of this WIP. Not to mention this great post about her yarn selection. Basically, her whole act of documenting this sweater has been epic. Congrats on your fabulous project, Ding, and on winning the generous prize from O-Wool. Please email me at contact@fringesupplyco.com with your color selection and mailing address! And thank you, O-Wool!

WIPs of the Week No.4: Ding and Sari

The second WIP I’m featuring this week is by Sari N, aka @sari_n_ on Instagram and sarijaotto on Ravelry — and it happens to be another of the many gorgeous ivory sweaters going on. It’s been fun to watch this amazing cable sweater develop since she first cast on — she’s posted copious great photos at every step along the way. But I especially loved her comment on this photo, ending with: “You can learn anything you want if you commit to it.” So Sari, please email me and I have a $75 Fringe Supply Co. gift certificate for you.

Definitely go look through all of the photos and discussion on both of those sweaters if you haven’t seen it all. Such good stuff. And next week’s bonus prize will be 10 skeins of Woolfolk Far, truly stunning merino (and a brand-new stunning pattern collection, by the way). So keep up all of the good work — keep those pics and stories coming with the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 hashtag, and link your Ravelry project to the Improv pattern page if you’re using my tutorial.

One side note I want to make about top-down, in response to this post of Sari’s about where to begin the waist ribbing. (Take a second and go read that caption.) Most published patterns are written bottom-up — it is way easier to write a graded pattern that way. What it means is the designer (hopefully) has thought about the right hem treatment for the yarn and design, and how that feeds into the stitch pattern, which progresses upwards from there. However, when it comes to separating fronts and backs, beginning armhole shaping or neck shaping, it just happens wherever you happen to be in the stitch pattern at the moment you reach whatever the prescribed length is. So there’s a chance your cable and your neckline might not intersect in the absolute perfect way, or whatever. With top-down, it can take a little more planning to get optimal placement of your stitch pattern around your neckline, but you get to do that by starting there, whereas the less obvious intersection of stitch pattern and hem is the one that’s left partly to the chance of where you are when you reach your desired length. So I find this to be one of the big benefits of creating your own pattern from the top.

SEPARATELY, first let me say thank you for the response to the new Woollelujah! tote. I’m loving the pics of this bag that are starting to appear under #fringesupplyco and #woollelujah and would love to see yours. Please tag them!

Second, this should be an Elsewhere week, but I have spent every would-be web-scouring moment glued to the knitalong instead, so I have no idea what’s going on anywhere else! Except that several very kind people have alerted me to the fact that the Icelandic movie Rams (previously noted here) is now available on Netflix and Amazon. And I will definitely be watching this weekend. Will you?

Have a lovely one, everybody — thanks for being amazing!


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: How to knit inset pockets (top-down)

Woollelujah! + WIP of the Week No.3

Woollelujah! the new Fringe Supply Co. tote is here

We’ve got a lot to talk about today, so I’ll keep this part brief! Before I reveal the third WIP of the Week, I have to tell you about this new tote because, well, I can’t wait another second. It’s my favorite tote so far, and since the day the word first popped into my head (and proved to be, shockingly, 100% unknown to Google) it’s been killing me to keep it a secret. So here it is: the Woollelujah! tote, in all its glory.* This one’s big and exuberant in every way — and it’s also available in a choice of two ink colors! For more about it, and lots of pics in its black and blue guises, pop over to Fringe Supply Co. It’s also in yarn stores around the globe today, so check with your local!

Also this week, we got in Jared Flood’s exceptionally gorgeous and useful new book, Woolens — full of timeless accessories you’ll be knitting for years — and the new issue of Taproot, the theme of which is Wander. So take a second to check all of that out, and then come right back for WIP of the Week—

WIP of the Week No.3: Jess Daniels

Ok, so about WIP of the Week: You guys are making this a truly impossible task. Truly. Everyone is being completely amazing and I wish I could give every single Top-Down Knitalong participant a bonus prize. (Or at least a big kiss!) But that said, this week I’ve chosen to spotlight the WIP of Jess Daniels, who is @jess_b_daniels on IG and jessbdaniels on Ravelry. Jess had knitted a sweater last year for her beloved Jenn, which “just didn’t work out.” We all know the perils of knitting for our loved one, the fear of disappointing them and of a handknit sweater going unworn. Jess decided the improv knitalong was a perfect chance for a do-over. She’s frogging the failed sweater and reusing the yarn, and this time she’s not just knitting Jenn a sweater, she crafting one from her own imagination and calculations — a simple stockinette pullover with a henley placket. And I can’t wait to see how the placket part goes! So congratulations, Jess, you’ve won 10 skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter Marls in the color of your choosing. Please get in touch with me to collect your prize! (I just realized after I wrote all of this that Jess’s WIP happens to also be Shelter. Hope that’s a good thing!)

Next week’s WIP of the Week prize will be 12 skeins of O-Wool Balance! Another of my personal favorite yarns. So keep those photos and stories coming on the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed, link your projects to the Improv pattern page if you’re using my tutorial, and leave links to your blog posts in the comments here so I and everyone can see what you’re up to! And remember: THERE’S NO SCHEDULE. I’m handing out bonus prizes through the end of September, but please knit at your own pace — there is no deadline. Whether you’re still sketching or already binding off, it’s all cool.

But before I close, I just want to give props to a few other (of the many) standouts from this past week:

@snohomishcarol for finishing this amazing cardigan — maybe she’ll give us speed-knitting lessons!

@stephrbernhard for all the various lessons she’s both learning from and bringing to her beautifully shaped pullover

@ajamakesthings for tapping into her heritage along the way

If the three of you will email me at contact@fringesupplyco.com — Carol, Steph and Aja — I have a Woollelujah! tote for each of you.

To everyone else, keep up the amazing work, thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next week!


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: How to improve your knitting and FO photos

*If there are any Best Made fans out there, you may recognize this as a design nod to one of my all-time favorite totes, which had sadly gone out of print but which they re-released last week! 

WIP of the Week No.2 // and Elsewhere

WIP of the Week // and Elsewhere

Before I announce this week’s WIP of the Week, I want to say something about prizes, because I think people have a tendency to put too much stock in them. Prizes are lovely, but PRIZES ARE NOT THE POINT. As I’ve said before, I feel like when you participate in a knitalong, the prize is your sweater! And never more so than this Top-Down Knitalong, where it’s a sweater you cooked up completely on your own — and for many of you participating, it’s also the first time you’ve done so. What you get out of the knitalong is a sweater, plus a lot of learning and experience and maybe even some new friendships. Priceless rewards. If you happen to be one of a few people who wins a prize along the way, that’s just icing on the cake, right? It’s the cake that really matters.

With that said, this week’s WIP of the Week is by Beth, who is @bethtais on Instagram and also beththais on Ravelry. I wrote an essay recently for an upcoming book about how we, as knitters and sewers, have the power to make treasures, and not just clothes. This sweater of Beth’s is such a beautiful example of that, so it really stood out to me in that regard. She’s knitting a little striped cardigan for her daughter, and really thinking of it as a part of an outfit and larger wardrobe of treasures.  The yarn is the last in her stash of a much-loved small-batch yarn, Flock, left over from knitting she’s done for herself. And likewise, the dress is sewn from fabric she dyed and made herself a dress out of, before using the rest for her daughter. It’s the sweetest little outfit (reminds me of Kathryn Davey) and I hope it gets worn and loved and saved and passed on to the next generation. And I just adore that touch of blue in the stripe sequence. So beautifully done in every regard.

So congratulations, Beth, you’ve won 7 skeins of Purl Soho’s Flax Down, in the color of your choosing! Please email me at contact@fringesupplyco.com to collect your prize! And big thanks again to my friends at Purl Soho for providing this week’s luscious prize. Next week’s prize is 10 skeins of the new Brooklyn Tweed Shelter Marls, so keep those photos and stories coming! Link your Ravelry project to the Improv pattern page if you’re using my tutorial (131 projects and counting!), and use the hashtag #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 wherever you post. I especially love it when you leave links in the comments to your blog posts, so everyone can see those.

Whether you’re participating or not, I really recommend clicking through the posts on Instagram — such an amazing range of knitters and sweaters and trials and errors and victories. It’s incredible. When you’re done reading through that, there’s Elsewhere:

Have you seen Brandi’s YouTube channel? Gorgeous

Have you heard about Ann’s Washalong idea? Genius

Tom’s sweater is a work of art

And Dianna’s queue is jaw-droppingly beautiful

Great tutorial on seaming perpendicular knits

LOVING this year’s Refashioners challenge


I might need to make this tank

And this hat

Happy weekend, lovely people! See you back here next week—


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: How to knit a compound raglan // PREVIOUSLY: Elsewhere

WIP of the Week No.1: Ashley (aka @callistoknits)

WIP of the Week No.1: Ashley General

You all know what a nerd I am about the planning parts of sweater knitting, so you can imagine my joy at this phase of the Top-Down Knitalong — seeing everyone sketching and swatching and calculating. Oh, my heart! There are already over 400 posts on the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed at Instagram, and so far 82 projects linked to the Improv pattern page at Ravelry, most of them “In progress August 2016.”* Some people are still swatching, while others have already separated their body and sleeves, and I keep seeing people saying they’re “behind schedule” — but there is no schedule! Dive in whenever you want; finish whenever you finish. The only part that’s on a schedule is the weekly prizes, which run through the end of September — and today I get to hand out the first one!

Among the many amazing plans, I’ve been super impressed with Ashley, who is @callistoknits on Instagram and ashleygeneral on Ravelry, and whose sweater I’ve chosen as our first WIP of the Week. Ashley is making a boatneck pullover with a pretty little lace pattern around the yoke, in charcoal grey Lettlopi. She posted her first swatch and sketch a couple of weeks ago and has been savoring the process — trying different needle sizes for her lace motif, doing the math to fit her measurements and her stitch pattern, casting on and trying on. It’s been extremely fun to watch, and I’m eager to see how it all turns out! Definitely go check out her feed and her Ravelry projects, and don’t miss her adorable Pineapple Socks pattern while you’re there!

So congratulations, Ashley — you’ve won 12 skeins of Shibui Pebble in the color of your choosing! Please email me at contact@fringesupplyco.com to collect your prize! And thank you SO MUCH to my friends at Shibui Knits for providing this week’s incredible prize.

Next week’s WIP will win 7 luscious skeins of Purl Soho Flax Down, so keep those projects coming! Photo quality counts, of course (in focus and natural light, preferably!) but so does a good sweater plan and a good story, so tell us about your sweater on Instagram or Ravelry, or if you’ve blogged or posted elsewhere, leave a comment on the blog during the week so I can see! And tag it #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 wherever you share.

Have an amazing weekend, everyone — more on the knitalong (and NOT) next week!

*If you’ve knitted a sweater from my tutorial in the past, please take a second to link it to the Improv page so I can see them all!


PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: How to incorporate a stitch pattern in a top-down sweater