Marled sweater inspiration

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I’m in total agreement that the best prize of a knitalong is the resulting knitwear, however, I was totally floored to win a sweater’s worth of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarn as WIP of the Week.

And it’s funny, because when Brooklyn Tweed released the Shelter marled colorways, I was sketching out my Fringe & Friends KAL plans and part of me (ok, most of me) wanted to ditch the Shelter sweater that needed un-doing and re-using to get my hands on those beautiful neutrals.

So I’m still in disbelief that I get to both reuse the existing sweater’s worth of Shelter (a treasured gift to Jenn), and then I’ll get my own sweater’s worth of Shelter gifted to me. Crazy.

But what to knit?

My first thought for a Shelter sweater went to Bronwyn, which totally stole my heart when it was released, but I wonder if the texture would get lost or feel too overwhelming in a marl. I actually already have a marled, cabled sweater — my Ondawa (shown below) is in a very similar colorway to “Caribou” and I love it, so I think another camel marled sweater would be too similar. That leaves me deciding between “Newsprint” in black & white, and “Narwhal” in grey & white.

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I love the contrast of Newsprint and I remembered Jen Beeman’s gorgeous self-designed Stone Lake marled sweater. Less cabled than Bronwyn, but it makes me think Bronwyn could look nice in the Narwhal colorway since it’s lower contrast.

But, while I love knitting within the natural “grey rainbow,” I feel like Newsprint would be a nice treat as a change of pace — something less common in the small farm yarns I usually gravitate toward. In fact, the other sweater quantity of yarn in my stash is a medium-dark grey from a local small farm & mill, purchased with Exeter in mind. Maybe the marl wants to be something simpler, a break from cabling…

BT newsprintvia

So then I thought about shape and style elements — what shape would best complement my existing sweaters? I have a simple, v-neck pullover that’s a hand-me-down from my dad, a men’s cashmere sweater that shrunk one too many times to fit him. It’s inky black and luxuriously soft, albeit moth-eaten with elbows that look like swiss cheese. I adore it.

Maybe a pullover with a nod to the soft, slouchy shape of this sweater I love? Immediately I thought of Lucinda, whose clever purl-side-out would certainly showcase the marl beautifully. My only hesitation is that Lucinda’s lovely drape and texture seems to come from yarns with a mixed composition, usually with a bit of silk.

Browsing some of the other Madder designs by Carrie Bostick Hoge, I remembered the newly-released Junegrass pullover, showcasing the gorgeous Colorado farm yarn Junegrass by Fancy Tiger Crafts, which includes one of my most favorite garment details: a split side seam.

Which leads me to my current daydream: a black & white marl Junegrass, with a neckline more like Lucinda (perhaps using my top-down customization skills learned in the knitalong), and a sleeve length slightly in between 3/4 and full sleeves (to match the feel of my well-worn and loved black pullover).



A year in stitches: One Year One Outfit Recap


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To write one summary post for all these projects hardly does justice to how much I love these pieces, how much I learned making them, and how knitting with local materials has deepened my connection to my local landscape and community. Alas, we’re nearing the end of January and it’s high time to round up what I made for my One Year One Outfit challenge. Spoiler alert: there is no true “outfit” but there are 3 sweaters, 1 shawl, and one hat, which truly reignited my love for knitting and led me to explore local fiber and local dyes, resulting in hard-working wardrobe staples.

A note: I wish I had the time or foresight to photograph these pieces outdoors, in the actual fibershed environment, but at the time I was able to shoot them, the day’s high was 1 measly degree (F), so here I am in my sunroom. I modeled each of my local fiber garments over my favorite and very special dress, which is not hyper-local, but it is made of organic cotton fabric grown by Sally Fox, milled and woven in Japan nearly two decades ago. The fabric was imported last year by Kristine of A Verb for Keeping Warm in collaboration with Sally Fox, and the pattern is the Prism dress also by A Verb for Keeping Warm, with the in-line pocket addition I wrote about here. I told a bit more of this dress’s story on Instagram during Slow Fashion October, and it seemed fitting to wear it as the foundation for my local knitwear.

And now, a lightning tour of 2015!


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Garment: my first sweater!
Fibershed: Northern California
Pattern: Hayward by Julie Hoover for Brooklyn Tweed. Mods noted on Ravelry.
Fiber: Twirling Petals yarn in Earl Grey, Drunken Ollie in Eucalyptus, Indigo on Muffy
Farmer: Mary Pettis-Sarley (photo below via Tolt Yarn & Wool)

Twirl by ToltNotes: This sweater reignited my love for knitting. I learned to knit about 10 years ago, made a few small accessories, and drifted away from knitting during college. In 2014 I lost my favorite hand knit cowl and sought a creative outlet from my job, which was nearly equal parts very stressful and very rewarding. So in the fall of 2014, after meeting Rebecca Burgess and getting to know the Fibershed community, inspiration overcame intimidation and I decided to knit my first full sweater. I decided to look for a Brooklyn Tweed pattern with a low difficulty rating, because I liked the contemporary designs and heard that the instructions were detailed. I settled on this simple pullover, and searched for a local yarn alternative to Loft. I heard great things about Twirl, and loved the whimsy of the logo and the yarn names, so I took a day trip to Knitterly in Petaluma and spent a long time looking at color combinations. There wasn’t quite enough of any one color that I liked, so I decided to color block the pieces. Around this time, I had been living on a very small budget and had mostly bought secondhand clothing for the past few years, so saving up for and purchasing a sweater’s worth of yarn felt like a big investment – it was probably the most I had spent on any one item in at least five years. It was so rewarding to spend those savings in support of local businesses run by inspiring women. Yarn in hand, I started my sweater. I knit in the mornings before work, I knit on BART, I knit some days on my lunch break on a patio full of business people, and I knit a lot in the evenings after Jenn went to bed (at the time she was a baker and worked very early mornings) — I was hooked! Finishing this sweater in early 2015 felt triumphant – and exuberant! I love it to pieces and am keeping it out of rotation this winter to preserve its longevity (it’s the perfect spring/summer/fall layer).


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Garment: marled Ondawa
Fibershed: Northern California
Pattern: Ondawa by Michele Wang for Brooklyn Tweed. Mods noted on Ravelry.
Fiber: Radius by Knitterly Petaluma in Alpaca/wool marl
Farmer: Mimi Luebbermann, Windrush Farm (photo below via Fibershed)


Notes: After finishing my first sweater I was hooked on knitting once again, and really drawn to knitting this pattern, which I had tried on at the Brookyn Tweed trunk show at A Verb for Keeping Warm. In my mind I pictured it in the perfect shade of camel, but I had a hard time finding the right color, until I came across the new Radius offerings by Knitterly. I got really excited about this marled alpaca/wool blend (I think it’s basically an alpaca single plied with a wool single) and from there the knitting went much faster than I expected. This sweater is so warm and soft, and practically a security blanket for me. I love the cream color and the way the busy cables and subtle marl interact, and I just wish it wouldn’t pill quite so much (the downside of very soft fibers and a lightly spun yarn), but I can’t see myself stopping wearing it any time soon.



Garment: Pure transition shawl
Fibershed: Northern California & Twin Cities
Pattern: Pure by cabinfour. Mods noted on Ravelry.
Fiber: Radius by Knitterly Petaluma in Alpaca/wool blend; local merino by Rach-Al-Paca Fiber Mill
Farmer: Various; Photo below of Rach-Al-Paca Mill in Hastings, Minnesota


Notes: I knit this shawl as the temperatures shifted from mild to cold, and the dry fall air lent an urgency to the changing seasons. My grandmother passed away, not unexpectedly, and I spent two days wrapped in my favorite afghan that she knit, watching this shawl take shape, melding the places I’ve recently called home. The lighter, silvery-brown is a blended yarn from the Radius yarn that was actually sent to me by mistake when I needed an extra skein for my Ondawa sweater. I used the stitch pattern sections as my guide for alternating the yarn with a naturally-colored, chocolate brown Merino raised by a small farmer who lives right down the road from Rach-Al-Paca Fiber Mill, where I purchased the yarn. The color is rich and the yarn is squishy but hearty. This shawl is might just be my signature winter accessory, and I wear it almost every day, usually wrapped around my neck as a giant kerchief. It makes an excellent barricade against sub-zero wind chill.


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Garment: flockalong cardigan
Fibershed: Northern California
Pattern: Liv Light by Carrie Bostick Hoge. Mods noted on Ravelry.
Fiber: Flock, 1st Edition by A Verb for Keeping Warm, in granite
Farmer: Various; learn all about how Flock was made here (photo below via AVFKW)

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Notes: I actually knit this sweater after moving to Minnesota, when I probably should have focused on a Minnesota fiber project. Instead, I became totally smitten with the gorgeous yarn created by Kristine and the team at A Verb for Keeping Warm. I have no regrets. It took me a very long time to knit this fingering-weight cardigan, but I love the simplicity of the top-down pattern and the way the yarn changed from white to cream to shades of gray. The color variations are natural and due to the way distinct fiber (Cormo, Corriedale, and Targhee) from three different flocks was blended while spinning. I actually had the opportunity to tour Green Mountain Spinnery, where Flock was spun, while visiting friends on the east coast this summer, and it was magical. Peeking behind the scenes at the spinning process added another element of depth to this knitting project, and I think this yarn is a great example of how to incorporate different fiber properties and embrace the diversity of local sheep breeds.




Garment: coreopsis Jul
Fibershed: Twin Cities
Pattern: Jul hat by Wiksten. Notes coming to Ravelry soon.
Fiber: Alpaca/merino blend by Rach-Al-Paca Farm and Fiber Mill, dyed in foraged coreopsis
Farmer: Rachel Boucher


Notes: I started working from home this summer, and have found it both freeing and overwhelming. I find it important to take breaks and get outside every day, and one day on the cusp of early fall, I rode my bike up a local trail, searching for dyestuffs. I found neither black walnuts nor pokeberry (as I had hoped), but a patch of wildflowers in the parking lot of an office complex caught my eye. I pulled over, and immediately recognized the yellow flowers with blood red centers as dyers’ coreopsis. I harvested quickly and tried to explain to a confused receptionist exactly why I was loitering in the parking lot (note to foragers: go after work hours). I created a solar dye bath and took a chance on dyeing a whole skein of yarn (about twice the weight of the dyestuff). The resulting golden color made a cheerful hat that is slouchy, warm, and super soft thanks to the alpaca. The fiber was raised in Minnesota and milled in Hastings, Minnesota by Rachel Boucher, a passionate and prolific farmer and small business owner.


& in case you’re wondering what the full “outfit” looks like…1-2016-01-18 17.12.06


End note: Here is where I should tell you that I contribute to Fibershed’s non-profit educational/advocacy work with research, communications, program support, and general operations. It has been a joyful and exciting journey to get involved with the organization, and I’m thrilled to support its mission and vision. These knits, and this blog in general, are my personal projects and all opinions stated here are my own. I love taking part in the One Year One Outfit challenge — which I am personally extending into a 2 Years 1 Outfit challenge (wink) — and I think Nicki  is doing a tremendous job energizing people around the world with the One Year One Outfit challenge to explore what it means to dress locally. I just want to be completely honest about my bias in support of this project and Fibershed in general, since I am sort of wearing two hats as a staff member and affiliate member — two hats that are locally grown, naturally dyed, and locally made, whenever possible!



anatomy of a travel capsule


Last week’s theme for Slow Fashion October was small: 

handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability

I thought I’d document my own small travel wardrobe. I think I first heard the term “capsule wardrobe” about a year ago, and I was fascinated by projects like the 333 Wardrobe and the blog Unfancy, but at the time my wardrobe was mostly a hodgepodge of thrifted items which tended to have a little too much personality to be compatible in a pared-down capsule.

While I haven’t been purposefully working toward a capsule wardrobe, I’ve found that since I started making the majority of my clothes it’s been much easier to live with a smaller wardrobe, because I can make exactly what I want (within the realm of my sewing/knitting skills), my clothes are a more flattering and comfortable fit, and I know much more intimately how each piece functions and how it can play a role in my wardrobe.

Travel is such a good way to test this. What better “capsule” than a suitcase? In the past 6 weeks I’ve had the good fortune to take 3 trips of just over a week each — each with a unique climate and different dress code.

Here is what I packed, what worked, and what I could have done without:

Trip 3: Oakland, Berkeley, and Marin County, California (9 days) (pictured above)

  1. my favorite pair of cut-off jean shorts. They are high-waisted, light wash, and from a thrift store.
  2. 2 pairs of Hudson pants. One is of hemp/organic cotton knit, fabric was made in China by Pickering International, purchased online through Spool PGH. The other is of woven tencel fabric made by Feral Childe (fabric was probably made in China, but I know they screenprint most of their collections in the US) and purchased while visiting Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver. I wear the knit pair as my pajamas and the woven pair has become an indispensable casual trouser — coming to the blog soon!
  3. a pair of black Virginia leggings in a heavyweight organic cotton/spandex knit from Organic Cotton Plus, US grown cotton, fabric made in the States (in the Carolinas or Tennessee if I had to guess), dyed using low-impact synthetic dyes. I sewed these the night before I left for England and they were a perfect fit for my body and my travel needs! I made them extra long and it feels like a luxury to have a little bit of fabric scrunching at my ankles.
  4. 5 shirts: one khadi Scout Tee (blogged here), one woven sleeveless Hemlock Tee (blogged here), one black Everlane v-neck, one white linen tee from Zady, one organic cotton graphic tee (free from a volunteer gig) that I wear as a sleep shirt. I absolutely love what Zady is doing with transparency and timeless pieces – check them out if you’re looking for ready to wear clothes! I’m pretty over Everlane’s faux “radical transparency” so I won’t be purchasing from them again, but a classic black v-neck does come in handy. I would recommend CA Cloth Foundry (US grown & made with Sustainable Cotton Project fiber) and Be Good Clothing (organic, Indian grown & made) for basic knit tees.
  5. a cocoon-shaped tunic from Hackwith Design House, purchased at their sample sale this summer. I really admire this Minneapolis-based brand who produces all their clothing in their St. Paul studio and releases pieces in limited collections, bucking the typical fashion season system. They don’t use organic materials (that I’ve seen) but have an eye toward sustainability and source a lot from a deadstock fabric warehouse in the Twin Cities. This tunic feels like a tencel blend, and even on sale it was a big purchase for me but I am so in love with it.
  6. 2 prism dresses. One long-sleeved in khadi from A Verb for Keeping Warm (blogged here), the other short-sleeved in organic cotton fabric that was grown by Sally Fox, made in Japan, and purchased at A Verb for Keeping Warm. What can I say, I love this simple dress pattern. The short-sleeved dress is my new “special occasion” dress that I made in part for this trip; check back for its origin story.
  7. 3 Northern California Fibershed sweaters. One pullover, color-blocked Hayward sweater in Twirl Yarn Twirling Petals, purchased at Knitterly Petaluma, the first sweater I ever knit! One pullover, cropped Ondawa in Radius Yarn (sourced from Windrush Farm), purchased at Knitterly Petaluma. One cocoon wrap/shrug Escher in Twirl Yarn, purchased at Knitterly Petaluma and one skein at the Fibershed stand at the farmer’s market.
  8. my jean jacket. boxy, 3/4-sleeves, from the thrift store.
  9. a cashmere beanie, also from Everlane, very warm and soft but would not purchase again (would knit my own or purchase locally).
  10. Sven clogs & Birkenstock sandals.
  11. underwear & socks, nearly all old & unremarkable, but hopefully to be replaced by handmade versions soon! While in Oakland, I purchased a Pansy bra after at least 6 months of deliberating — I’m in love with it!


(leggings + clogs on a rare rainy day in Oakland. Also wearing: Hackwith tunic, Escher)

Trip 2: London & Plymouth, UK (9 days)
Nearly the same, but I swapped:

  1. raincoat instead of jean jacket. Purchased from American Apparel several years ago, pockets are unfortunately wearing out.
  2. 2 light dresses instead of jean shorts. One is an organic cotton Alder shirt dress made of remnant fabric from a Feral Childe sample sale (available online here!). The other is a Charlotte Kan tie-dress in a striped linen-cotton blend, purchased from with a certain amount of guilt (no idea where/how it was made, but I could not get those stripes off my mind!).
  3. ankle boots instead of birkenstocks. They are sort of oxblood color, purchased on clearance at Free People, made in Spain I believe. I’ve had them resoled and fixed up twice and they have lasted longer than previous pairs, but they start to pinch my toes after a whole day of walking.
  4. loafers (thrifted, resoled) as a back up pair of shoes, but I didn’t end up wearing them.
  5. a kanga/cotton shawl/large scarf, purchased when I was in Tanzania. Helpful to have a big rectangle like this as a multipurpose item – I wore is as a scarf, a blanket on the plane, and wrapped up food and small items in it.

Trip 1: Eastern seaboard (CT & RI), USA (7 days)
Nearly the same as trip 3, I think (I didn’t document it at the time), but I hadn’t made the leggings or short-sleeved Prism dress, so I packed the striped linen-cotton tie dress. I also added:

  1. a bathing suit from J.Crew, one piece V-neck.
  2. a sun hat gifted/handed down to me from my mom 🙂
  3. my Sallie jumpsuit in black organic cotton knit purchased at Verb a really long time ago (probably made in China by Pickering?). I love this jumpsuit but it collects all the dust and cat hair really quickly, so it’s not that helpful for traveling (without a lint roller, at least).
  4. Nisolo Ecuador Huarache sandals in the color almond, I think ? I saved up to buy these this summer as lightweight but close-toed shoe, and I love the style but unfortunately they’ve stretched out a little too much. Not sure what to do about that… Alas, we’re heading into cool weather here pretty fast.


(jean shorts + linen Zady tee + Escher sweater in Oakland, also basically my summer uniform. Worn with clogs)

the takeaway

  • I could have gone with 1, maybe even 2 fewer shirts for my California trip, but I was afraid that one or two would get smelly from a few days of physical labor, so I packed extra.
  • To pack even lighter, I could have left my Hayward sweater at home for my California trip, because I wore the Escher wrap/shrug most days and Ondawa when it was cold (the heavy alpaca-wool blend was a lifesaver when I camped one night).
  • I only wore the beanie once in California (while camping, and it did keep me warm!), so if I weren’t camping I could have left it at home.
  • I wish I hadn’t waited so long to buy a Pansy bra, it’s my new favorite thing! I also wish I had budgeted to get some of their undies too, but I do hope to make some cloth habit ladyshorts with scrap knit fabric.

The big takeaway is that I think I’ve been basically wearing this “capsule” all summer, hah! It’s been very liberating to not have to dress for an office (and a bike commute) every day, so I’m lucky in that respect. The leggings are a huge help toward transitioning this capsule into cooler weather, but I’m starting to get nervous that 3 years in California has left me without much of a winter wardrobe. I’m planning out what to knit and sew pretty furiously, but of course, trying to keep it slow!