A sea of fresh indigo


Is it obvious around here that I’m enamored with indigo blue?

You’ll find it in my yarn stash, on my cutting table, in my closet of course, in a bucket in my “studio” and this year, in my garden.

Japanese indigo, polygonum tinctorium to be exact.

Tended from wee seedlings in my sunroom (slash home office) to a patch in my landlord’s flower garden, I’ve been caring for my own little plot of blue, biding my time until the shiny green leaves begin to bruise and hint at the pigment within.

But what to do with the leaves? I sowed, composted, weeded, watered, and looked on adoringly while not entirely sure what I would do when it came time to harvest. Mostly because I wasn’t sure how much would crop up, and what method would be feasible.

See, I’m trying to avoid synthetic chemical intervention. Indigo is a peculiar natural dye, requiring the removal of oxygen before the color can bind to any material. This makes it magical, in a way, because when you pull something from an indigo vat you witness the pigment’s reaction with oxygen, changing from green to blue in midair.

A lot of recipes take natural indigo and add a reducing agent, called Thiox or Spectralite or, in a pinch, Rit Color Run Remover. To avoid this additive, there are a host of more-involved processes that involve fermenting the fresh leaves and feeding the vat things that will give it sugar and things that will raise the pH.

But these things are at once precise and imperfect, never a guarantee that you’ll get color at the end of your days brewing and calibrating — best done with an experienced eye.

At least that’s my take. So while I’m figuring out if and how to go the fermentation route with my backyard harvest, I decided to try dyeing with just one simple ingredient: ice water.


I’d heard a rumor about this method a few years ago, and mentally bookmarked The Dogwood Dyer’s tutorial when I later came across it. Indigo expert (in my opinion) Rowland Ricketts has a few notes on it, and plant palette artist Sash Duerr raves about the resulting colors.

I trust these incredible people, so I gave it a try. And it’s really very simple, but you need a stretch of uninterrupted time and, if you’re like me, you need to put out extra rags and buckets because it’s always going to get a little messier than anticipated.

Simply put: harvest your mature indigo, cutting off the stalks (leaving room for regrowth if your season allows), then remove the leaves, blend them with ice water, strain that and use it as your dye bath.


Specifics from a Saturday afternoon:

  • Prepare material by submerging in room temperature water for at least an hour. I chose skeins of yarn including local wool, secondhand wool blend (I think), and secondhand silk, all of which had been scoured previously, and the secondhand materials had been mordanted with alum.
  • Weight of goods: 625 g all together
  • Weight of harvested leaves: 206 g
  • Ice water prepared by emptying all available ice cube trays into a bowl, allowing to melt at room temperature for half an hour, then filling the bowl with cold tap water.
  • Leaves were blended in batches with enough ice water to move freely.
  • Strained blended mix using a mesh sieve, but the mix was too finely blended, so switched to using cotton gauze and squeezing it through.
  • Mixture was neon green and very frothy, tiny leaf particles impossible to strain out.
  • First dip: local wool skein submerged approx. 5 min.
  • Second dip: silk skeins submerged approx. 10 min.
  • Third dip: mystery wool skeins submerged approx. 10 min.
  • Fourth dip: local wool skein again for approx. 10 min.


Each skein of yarn came out of the bath a vibrant shade of neon green, like pure chlorophyll. When I’ve used powdered indigo vats (like so), I’ve noticed the oxidation process beginning almost immediately, transitioning to teal and then toward blue. With this process, I waited 10 minutes after the first skein and it was still a solid green, so I put it in the tub of water where the undyed skeins for soaking. By the time I finished a first dip of each yarn, the early skeins were starting to edge on turquoise, but still, it was the slowest oxidation I’ve ever seen.

Once I had cleaned up, I rinsed out excess dye and then hung the skeins on my portable drying rack, an ombre of jade and bright emerald. By mid-morning the next day, the outside of each skein was dry and aqua in color, but the interior strands were still damp and holding onto green. I found a two-part article that suggests the green continues to disappear as time goes on, but that the blue tones are fairly lightfast. You can see that even in this small series of photos, the color shifts easily with the quality of light.

At first I found the persistent green frustrating – I wanted blue! But the slow transition into turquoise is a magic all its own. And the most magnificent thing, for a Saturday afternoon in my makeshift setup, is the ease: no synthetic compounds meant I could splash with abandon (or at least, give in to accidental overflow), and compost the finished bath.




Small Closet Chronicles: Resources & Inspiration



Ok, so I’m finally back with more on why I’m interested in maintaining a small closet of intentional clothes. It seems like the term capsule wardrobe is everywhere these days, and while the principles of a capsule are straightforward, I love to see how people approach the concept in practice and make it their own. In my own personal capsule trajectory, I started with attempting to define my style through the Wardrobe Architect and Into Mind resources, and then have continued to seek tips and inspiration as I’ve come across a variety of blogs. Here are the resources I’ve found helpful and continue to enjoy:

Wardrobe Architect by Colette Patterns – a really comprehensive series of exercises to define your style and approach what you sew by understanding what you actually wear. Admittedly, I didn’t make it all the way through the many parts, but I’ve recently been enjoying Christine Hayne’s version.

Into Mind – a blog with a minimalist approach to fashion and a trove of tutorials for weeding out what you wear and don’t want, and building a thoughtful closet. Her book, Curated Closet, is due in the fall and should be a good read too.

Un-Fancy – a capsule wardrobe blog that seems to have taken the internet by storm! Caroline has so much helpful, and un-fussy information that really breaks down the steps of making and wearing a capsule, and I think her story of finding her personal style is really sweet.

Project 333 – possibly the start of the capsule wardrobe revival, with a beautiful blend of substance behind the style, and how living with less can be freeing. There are so many derivations of Project 333 out there, but you can still take the original 333 mini-courses for a foundational understanding. I loved hearing Courtney Carver, Project 333/Be More with Less founder on this episode of the Conscious Chatter podcast, and I hope to make it to her Tiny Wardrobe Tour next week!

My Green Closet – a YouTube channel with videos about making, wearing, and reflecting on a Project 333-style capsule wardrobe. Erin’s approach really resonates with my own (limited shopping, prioritizing secondhand and DIY) and I just think her video style is lovely.

Growing a Minimalist Wardrobe by Reading My Tea Leaves – a helpful and down-to-earth series by one of my favorite bloggers, which is not quite a capsule approach but a holistic way of slowing building a meaningful, wearable, less wasteful wardrobe.

Lean Closet by Style Bee – this is a more recent addition to my blog feed, but I’ve been interested to see how Lee, a fashion blogger, is scaling back on consuming fashion and working on cultivating a “lean closet” which is still super stylish

Lifestyle Justice – a blog on ethical style and other lifestyle topics, with an interesting “un capsule” approach to a tightly edited wardrobe with very slow, considered additions

Slow Fashion October – a month of meditations on materials and making, hosted by another favorite blog of mine, Fringe Association. I didn’t end up posting much in this space for the Slow Fashion October prompts, but I participated in and loved the conversations happening in social media, and am looking forward to it this year!

Stash Less by the Craft Sessions – a challenge for those of us who adore and perhaps hold onto materials a little too tightly, this framework and the series of posts by Felicia Semple is one of my favorites — a constant source of encouragement

One Year Wardrobe by Rebecca Burgess/Fibershed – a local capsule, in a way! Fibershed is now an educational non-profit (and I work on some of the projects, ergo am completely biased) but began when Rebecca challenged herself to dress entirely locally for one year, connecting with farmers and artisans to build a closet that would work for her needs and climate. You can still read the blog archives from the project (linked above) and read more about the trajectory in this Seamwork Magazine article, which just goes to show how small closets can have a big impact!

Even though I find a lot of parallels and crossover between these approaches and frameworks, I still love reading about them and how different people tell their story of minimizing or capsuling their wardrobe. Do you have any recommendations or inspiration for a small closet?

Making a fashion revolution

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Last week’s Fashion Revolution campaign has provided so much to read, think about, share, and act on. Fashion Revolution Week continues to grow awareness and expand upon previous year’s one-day campaigns for transparency in the fashion industry (asking #whomademyclothes) in response to the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza Complex in Bangladesh. The tragedy killed over 1100 garment workers and injured 2500, many of whom were trapped in the building.

Of course, and most unfortunately, Rana Plaza was the largest but not the first garment manufacturing accident. Garment and textile industry working conditions have throughout history been abusive, with protests and backlash leading to the abolishment of child labor and the creation of the 8-hour workday.

When the Fashion Revolution campaign asks “who made my clothes?” it is very easy for us makers to answer “I made my clothes” — Fashion Revolution Day is but one week before Me Made May, after all. But last year the maker community went further, with many of us posting “I made my clothes” and then asking “who made my fabric?”

This year, Emily from In the Folds initiated a great set of prompts called Makers for Fashion Revolution, with a topic to post about each day: I made my clothes; By Hand; Mending; Upcycled; Second hand first; Skill up; Goals.

I really enjoyed these phrases as jumping-off points for thinking about why and how I make clothing. I posted almost every day with the series of pictures at the top (you can find me on Instagram to see the full posts :)). I love that there is this virtual community of people nodding in agreement about these issues, inspiring one another, swapping ideas, and crowd-sourcing trouble-shooting and transparency.

And yet, between the #makersforfashrev social media conversations and reading lots of Fashion Revolution articles in different news outlets, I kept coming back to how personal choice is situated within systemic change. When we ask brands for transparency, are we really pressuring them into complying with human rights and ethical practices? When we make (or mend) our own clothing, are we truly creating change in the fashion system, or are we small potatoes?

Just a few days into the week, I found myself scanning through #fashrev posts and feeling dismayed by both the vastness of the industry (80 billion garments leave factories each year) and the (self-critical) virtuosity of my own campaign posts (I make/mend my clothes, and therefore abstain from unethical conditions). My mind went back to an essay I once read for an environmental policy class: To Hell with Shorter Showers.

Turns out, the piece, penned by Derick Jensen, is actually called Forget Shorter Showers, but I think the way I’ve mentally catalogued it sums up the position that individual actions will never even approach the impact of industrial resource use and waste:

“I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.”

Last year there was an article focused on the “the myth of the ethical shopper” which made some parallel arguments. Frankly, I hated that article. Not because I think we can solve all the problems of the fashion industry by shopping ethically, but because it lacked nuance, rejecting the idea that people can be engaged citizens who also shop.

I think in addition to asking, we need to demand change and enforcement of standards — from brands, from politicians, from independent certifiers. We need to divest from fast fashion. And we need to shop secondhand, especially if/when we regularly donate to secondhand shops. Which, of course, does come back around to personal choice.

While it’s possible to extend the “ethical shopper” narrative into a “myth of the ethical maker,” I think that would be entirely overlooking the added engagement provided by a tactile understanding of clothing (and perhaps fiber) production. In our digital age, craft and tactile art practices become a hands-on refuge for learning by doing, which, as Nicki Taylor highlighted in a piece on the Fibershed blog, engenders an appreciation for the systems of production and material sources that make clothing ourselves possible. Though not every maker may have that kind of revelation, I think it would be hard to find someone whose choice to make clothing has not affected their assessment of the quality and quantity of clothing produced by the greater fashion system.

My own experience of sewing and knitting has deepened my understanding of the time and effort involved in developing well-fitting, well-made, long-lasting garments. And precisely because I make some of my clothes, I am constantly reminded by threading the needle of my sewing machine or seaming up a sweater that there people around the world making pretty much every other piece of clothing I come across — as their livelihood, not a hobby.

So I think we also need to use that personal choice to invest in alternative systems – in fair trade, in regional manufacturing, in a fibershed. (If I do say so myself). But not just in terms of economic power — the mythical ethical shopper trap looms again — but in non-consumer efforts like building community, sharing skills, and lobbying politicians.

On Fashion Revolution Day, I opted to ask brands #whomademyclothes rather than focusing on my goals (per the #makersforfashrev prompts), but as I’ve been forming this post, it’s become clear to me that my goal is to figure out how to engage more actively in the political side of this movement for transparency. How to “show up” not just in my personal acts of making clothing, but in my civic engagement.

The personal is political, in so much as it is a hands-on way for us to understand systems of power that benefit from unjust politics — but the personal is not a substitution for the political.

p.s. Some resources I’m starting with: Clean Clothes Campaign; Labour Behind the Label; Detox Fashion; American Fashion podcast on TPP; learning more about Fair Trade standards


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 Fabric.com 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!