Karen Templer of Fringe Supply Co has started up Slow Fashion October, which is a bit of an adjunct to Me Made May. The focus is on making, thrift and techniques that are the antithesis of the fast fashion and throwaway culture promoted by some high street brands. The first week focuses on introductions, i.e. ME. I thought it would be nice for followers old and new, especially as I talk about myself in quite a sporadic way on the blog.
I have lived and worked in London (UK) for the past seven years, since I moved here after finishing University. I work full time as a psychologist, which is a pretty emotionally taxing job. This means that I especially enjoy the meditative aspect of craft. Sometimes craft can capture the full attention of the conscious mind, giving the unconscious a little more wiggle room.
What first got you into slow fashion?
My mother was a dressmaker when I was growing up, so I suppose I have been exposed to slow fashion my whole life. I think my rebirth into slow fashion came when I was 21 and got into knitting. I had always wanted to learn to knit. My grandmother was a knitter and once tried to teach me when I was about six or seven. I always assumed I couldn’t pick it up because I wasn’t a natural knitter, but asking grandma for tips as an adult made me realise that, like many people who are experts (unconsciously competent), she was a terrible teacher! An example- I once asked her how you tell the difference between a knit and a purl and she said, “You just know.” Anyway, thanks to my friend Anna and her mum, and a copy of Stitch and Bitch, I never looked back.
I am also concerned about environmental issues (though I am a bit of a hypocrite as I still fly places for holiday) and slow fashion is one way I try to reduce my negative effect on the planet.
What are your skills?
My main craft is knitting. I have become pretty proficient over the past few years, which means that generally when I cast a project off, I’m happy with it. I’ve learned from many, many, MANY mistakes I’ve made during my life as a knitter. I also do a little crochet, though my skills are in their infancy. I’ve also got back into sewing in the past year or so, which is a new challenge.
What do you hope to get out of Slow Fashion October?
I think this is a lovely opportunity to interact with the craft/making blogging community. I would like to learn more about others who are involved in slow fashion.
What are your goals for the month?
I’d like to write a post on the theme for each week, and read and comment on others’ posts.
Is there a special project you plan to tackle this month?
I think I will aim to complete a sewing project this month. I have the fabric and patterns for four garments ready to go, so I’d like to get one finished. I am also working on a Fair Isle jumper that I’d like to have ready before Xmas, so I will aim to get a good amount of work done on that.
This week I won some tickets to one of Wool and the Gang’s knit parties at a pub in Islington. Anna and I got to spend two pleasant hours twisting rib and displaying our knowledge of advanced knitting techniques.
After two hours, we both had about three quarters of a cowl and I finished mine off the in the odds and ends of knitting time I had on Wednesday. I decided to feature a visible seam as I love the braided look of a cast off edge. Since this is a moebius cowl, it’s not possible to seam the twisted rib invisibly. I may even add a little colour contrast at some point.
Apologies for the overly filtered Instagram pic, but the lighting was terrible.
I’ll post some modelled pics at some point. This is a cowl to be worn with a coat, as it takes on the appearance of a collar and will prevent any wind sneaking down your neck on blustery autumn days.
Yarn: Crazy Sexy Wool
Ravelry project page.
I’ve been buying some more exciting hand-dyed yarns of late, which has propelled me into the mathematical world of self-patterning yarn. I recently wrote about a hat I made using some absolutely stunning yarn.
Variegated yarns come in many flavours, most commonly self-striping. When the pattern creates large sections of similar colours, this is known as pooling as in my Princess of Power hat above.
I had an issue when I first started when I wasn’t happy with the patterning and ripped the hat out. All the while, I was thinking that there must be a geeky way to model how the stripes will knit up using technological wizardry. Once I finished making the hat, I was left with a problem and a question.
The problem: The hat is slightly smaller than I would like.
The question: Can I increase the size of the hat while maintaining this awesome pattern?
After knitting a couple of swatches on needles of different sizes, it finally occurred to me to go to the source of all modern knowledge. Google revealed that, of course, someone before me has had a similar query about working with self-patterning yarn and someone else has set up a website where you can model how your self-patterning yarn is likely to look at different stitch counts. Amazing!
This is how the app predicted that my hat would look.
I think this yarn is dyed to give a zigzag effect that could only be fully modelled if I put in loads more data, which I was too lazy to do. I was more interested in finding the ‘magic number’ stitch count that would give the effect I am after.
Anyway, unfortunately this experiment has revealed that I can’t make a hat with the same pooling pattern and a slightly larger size. Since the pattern I currently have is the one I’m crazy about, I think I’ll do the finishing on the hat, decide whether duplicate stitching over the purple stripe increases my hat love, and add a gigantic pompom. I will also give the hat a solid blocking to see if that helps.
It’s a little bit heartbreaking that the hat of my dreams cannot be completely realised, but I’m pleased to have learned so much about variegated yarns. This will be something I will definitely bear in mind if I want to work with a pooling yarn again.
Talya made a helpful suggestion in the comments that I think is worth addressing in the post. She proposed knitting the hat flat and adding a rectangle of knitting to increase the size.
The point this highlights is that self-patterning yarns knit up differently when worked in the round vs flat. This is because you are always working in one direction in the round, whereas flat you work left to right, then right to left. This means that yarns will pool differently depending on how you work them. To demonstrate this, I generated a prediction of how my hat would look worked flat. You can see that everything else is same, the only variable is method of working. The app very cleverly allows you to look at both methods.
Cool argyle, right?
Anyway, anyone considering using this app for a project should have a look at how their yarn will pool in the round vs flat during the planning stages.
Thanks Talya for joining the conversation and highlighting this interesting feature of self-patterning yarns. It’s so nice to get everyone’s lovely and thought-provoking comments.
Bradway was a super quick and enjoyable knit, and gives a warm and striking finished object. Here she is blocking.
This was another knit that I wanted to take with me to Wilderness festival, and it was very useful there but I didn’t manage to get any pictures due to phone battery being limited.
I wore it again to a wedding last weekend and managed a few snaps.
Yarn: Flashdance sock, held double (bright purple) and Sleepover worsted (pale purple) by the Lemonade Shop, leftover Malabrigo Rios (dark purple)
I’ve been wanting to make a hat for a while. I love knitting hats, but I try not to do it too often otherwise I would have hundreds of hats. As much as I would love that, I live in London and thus have limited hat storage capacity. First world problems.
Anyway, I decided to treat myself to a new hat. I am obsessed with the yarns dyed by The Lemonade Shop, so new American yarn was part of the treat.
Yummy. I couldn’t resist winding this yarn straight away.
I always look grumpy on the bus.
I also wasn’t happy with how the colours were pooling. I had imagined large sections of white and turquoise, and this had an air of clown vomit to it. Disappointing given how excited I had been. I decided to press on and experiment with striping the yarn from each end of the ball to see if this improved the pooling.
As you may be able to see, the pooling improved a bit on the ribbing section, but looks a bit funny again once I switched to stocking stitch. I tried on the hat at this stage and was happy with the size, so I decided to rip the hat out and start again. I did go up a needle size for the ribbing.
I won’t keep you in suspense.
This is exactly what I had in mind when I bought this yarn. It puts me in mind of a super cool comic book about a badass magical girl.
Here’s what I looks like with the brim flipped up, which is how I will wear it.
Update before publication: I’ve finished the knitting on the hat and now I’m a little uncertain. It’s slightly too small and I don’t know if I like the contrast stripe.
I’m a bit annoyed as my gauge is exactly correct, but then I do have a big head. Maybe I need to do the finishing before I decide as a massive pompom hides a multitude of sins.
Pattern: Classic Cuffed Hat (free)
Yarn: Sparkle DK in Princess of Power by The Lemonade Shop
Ravelry project page
Embroidery proper (rather than cross stitch) isn’t really something I’ve done much over the years. I bought Make by Cath Kidston a while ago when I was super into her designs and made an appliqué felt needle case, and that was about it. In fact, I still have the case even though it only has one glass-headed pin in it.
I felt that the guest book blanket needed a large central design to help it come together visually. I also felt that embroidery would give a look that was polished while at the same time handmade, just like the wedding itself. I decided to keep the theme of bunting, especially as the quilt uses the bunting fabric, and throw in some appliqué as well.
Here is my design.
The only real change I decided on was to move Poppy (the bunny) to the right hand corner so that she would be facing the design.
For embroidery onto cotton, a hoop is a must. It prevents the embroidery from causing the fabric to pucker. I used chain stitch for all of the lettering. I tried to do French knots for the full stops and tittles. Even though I spent an hour in a French knot workshop at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year, those little buggers continue to elude me.
Can you see the blue line on my ‘l’? My lines are drawn with an ordinary erasable pen (I think the brand is Frixion). Because friction is used to remove the ink, an iron can also be used to take it off. The poly-cotton I used was light enough that I simply put the fabric on top of my design and traced it.
And a little satin stitch heart. Couldn’t resist a touch of sparkle from metallic thread.
For appliqué, iron on interfacing is extremely helpful. I traced my design onto the paper backing, then reversed it and ironed onto the wrong side of the fabric. I then cut them out.
I then removed the paper, placed them on the cotton and ironed on.
I then used blanket stitch to hold them down, along with some chain stitch representing the bunting binding.
I haven’t added Poppy yet as I think she will overwhelm the design. I’m planning on adding her elsewhere on the blanket.
When, ten days ago, our mutual friend announced that his wedding would have a cat theme, Cayleigh and I knew we had a sacred duty to dress her baby as a cat. My part in this was, of course, the hat. I think we did pretty well!
That is one foxy baby. Arthur was preoccupied with chewing on my water bottle for much of the wedding. Way to use those new chompers, kid!
As you can see, the hat turned out a bit big. I used knitting maths to calculate the correct number of stitches to cast on, which was 90. However, since I like my hats to be knit in multiples of 12, I decided to round up. I would say this hat would be a good fit for someone with a head circumference of 20 inches. This is a downside of my motto ‘go big or go home’.
Changes I would make if I made this again:
- Knit the brim in rib, so it is fully reversible
- Knit a slightly longer brim
I didn’t use a pattern, but this is what I did.
Using 4.5mm needles, CO 96sts, join to work in the round
Knit in garter rib (or any rib) for about an inch
Switch to 5mm needles and knit… for a bit. I think I knit until the hat was 5.5″, which was probably a bit too long. The decrease portion adds around 1.75″ to the hat.
Decrease as I did in the baby bear hat
Add ears following Official Kittyville Hat, which is in Stitch ‘n’ Bitch. The only change I made was to knit the ears in the round
Yarn: 1 skein Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino