As all the excitement around the Summertide MKAL continues to grow, I’m stealing a moment to return to our ongoing Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge. I have another great interview for you, this time from one of my handmade wardrobe heroes, Karen Templer from the exceptional Fringe Supply Co (The shop’s tagline “Nice things for makers” is an understatement…her things are gorgeous.) She also writes an insanely inspirational blog, Fringe Association. Karen agreed to share her knowledge and journey towards a handmade wardrobe with us today, and I’m so happy that she did. Welcome Karen!

*****

Photo credit: Kathy Cadigan

Photo credit: Kathy Cadigan

Tell us a little about why you’re interested in having a handmade wardrobe.

First and foremost, I’m a control freak. :) I want what I want, when I want it. But there’s also enormous creativity and joy and peace of mind in making one’s own clothes.

Which came first: Knitting, crochet or sewing?

My mom taught me to sew when I was young enough that I don’t really remember it, so I feel like I’ve just always known. But I have sewn only very sporadically during my adult years. I definitely knew more about sewing when I was in junior high school than I know right now, but I’m relearning pretty quickly.

I also was shown how to knit when I was a kid but I didn’t take to it. I did love crochet as a kid. But a friend taught me to knit in October 2011 and I was instantly obsessed. Have been knitting like a maniac ever since.

How often do you wear something you’ve made?

In the winter, you’ll find me wearing a hand knit sweater most days. I have fewer warm-weather clothes that I’ve either sewn or knitted, so less often in the warm months.

Do you want to have more of your wardrobe be handmade?

Photo credit: Karen Templer

Photo credit: Karen Templer

I’m in awe of people who are able to wear handmade every day, and love the idea of an entirely handmade wardrobe, but it’s not realistic for me. I run a business (Fringe Supply Co.) and a daily blog (Fringe Association), have very little free time, and I’m very slow — especially when it comes to sewing. I always have a lot of big plans about all the clothes I’m going to make and then manage to produce only a fraction of them. But I’m pretty committed at this point to not buying clothes made in faraway factories under unknown conditions, if it can be avoided, which is a big shift after a lifetime of mall clothes. I’m wearing things longer, buying less, and spending more per item to get things that are produced by known humans in known conditions. That might be a piece by a local designer sewn in a studio I’m able to visit, or something by a brand that isn’t local to me but is transparent about how and where production is happening, and ideally also about where the fabric comes from. I love supporting makers and small businesses, and want to be able to feel good about every garment in my closet, whether I made it myself or not.

Photo Credit: Karen Templer

Photo Credit: Karen Templer

Do you relate to “fashion” or “style” /or “capsule wardrobe /Or uniform? Do you have a uniform?

I have fairly limited tastes, so that does lead me to some semblance of a wardrobe. I’m mostly denim and neutrals, classic shapes but maybe put together in slightly unconventional ways here and there?

My house was built in 1953 and has old-school closets — not walk-ins. My closet has a little door, behind which is a shelf above a hanging rod. It’s small, in other words, and I’m determined not to exceed (or even max out, actually) its capacity. When you have fewer clothes, you want them all to work together and to be of good, lasting quality. So I do lean toward the “capsule” concept.

How did you start on your journey to a HMW?  

In the 80s, my school years, I did a lot of alteration/customization of store-bought clothes. Fashion was a ton of fun then — pegging your mens 501s, tailoring hospital scrubs, embellishing everything. But I didn’t make a lot of my own clothes from scratch until I started knitting sweaters. (I cast on my first sweater in the third month that I knew how to knit and have been knitting mainly garments ever since.) Making sweaters made me long to make other clothes for myself as well, which led me back to sewing.

Who inspires you in this journey?  

Beautiful Japanese sashiko thread, available from Fringe Supply Company. Photo Credit: Karen Templer

Beautiful Japanese sashiko thread, available from Fringe Supply Company. Photo Credit: Karen Templer

The entire handmade community, truly. As soon as I learned to knit, I started scouring the web for good blogs, which led me to lots of inspiring knitters and sewers both. Instagram is so awash in talented people I wish I could spend whole days just combing through hashtags. It’s so inspiring, all of it, and there are a lot of clever, thoughtful individuals who either got me thinking or taught me skills or whatever the case may be. Way too many people to name. But at the moment, I’m spurred on a daily basis by some really good friends in the industry who are incredibly prolific makers: Jaime and Amber of Fancy Tiger Crafts; Kate Gagnon Osborn of Kelbourne Woolens, who also sews most of her non-knitted clothes; Jen Beeman of Grainline Studio, who is also a knitter; and Anna Maria Horner, who is also about to get me started on quilting! Because that’s what I have time for, right?

When you choose a pattern, do you think about how wearable it is? Do you think about how well it will go with your other clothes?  

Absolutely. Obsessively. Like I said, my closet is really small and I only want stuff in there that can pull its weight. And again, I’m slow, so everything I choose to spend precious time on really needs to be worth it. I’ve always had a shopping rule that I’m not allowed to buy anything unless I can instantly make at least three great outfits out of it with other pieces I already own. With handmade, I’m trying to follow the same general rule, but at the same time I can actually plan out a whole wardrobe — calculating how an array of pieces will work together once they all exist. Of course, the challenge is to get them all to exist! But I do spend a lot of time sketching and planning and choosing the right fabric or yarn. Planning might be my favorite part.

What’s the most wearable item you’ve made?

Probably my charcoal grey Bellows cardigan. I can literally put it on over just about anything I own! And would wear it every single day from October through March if that were socially acceptable.

bellows

What pattern(s) would you nominate as “highly wearable”?

I’m not often one to make patterns as written/drafted – I tend to find things that are in the neighborhood of what i’m wanting and then bend them to my will. I think the key is knowing what’s wearable for you and then finding ways to get there.

Do you have any suggestions of great resources for new sewists?

Jen’s blog, Grainline Studio, and the Colette site are both chock full of great info. I’m not as well-versed in sewing resources as I’d like, but those are two I feel like i’m always learning from. But I also say find people on Instagram whose taste you vibe with (check hashtags like #handmadewardrobe and #memade and #knittersofinstagram and such) and pay attention not only to what they have to say about the patterns they’re posting about, but also the comments from everyone else. There really is a lot of wisdom in that crowd.

So many thanks to Karen for joining us on the blog today! I really love hearing people’s stories: it spurs me on in my own quest for a more creative life. For even more inspiration and wisdom from Karen, you can find her online here:

Fringe Supply Co.

Fringe Association

Instagram

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So, are you onboard with the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge yet? There’s still lots of time, so take a peek at our very active thread on Ravelry. #CHWChallenge

Today we welcome the very talented Anj from Meadow Yarn. She spends her days surrounded by some of the most amazing yarns on the planet, and all that beauty has given her a wonderful eye for colour. As you know, Tosh Merino Light is one of the recommended yarns for the Summertide Shawl MKAL. Meadow Yarns stocks this wonderful stuff, and Anj agreed to give us her favourite ideas of colour combinations for your lovely mystery shawl. Thank you so much Anj!
* * * * *
I love seeing new colour combinations and choosing for the pure love of the colours rather than choosing to knit something for myself and having to consider boring issues like whether they actually suit me (or match my coat) is incredibly liberating! I’ve tried to find a range of combinations from subtle neutrals through sophisticated tonal variations to downright zingy contrasts…
Vermillion & Courbet’s Green Vermillion is an outrageously saturated cherry/raspberry red that just sings alongside the subtly tonal Courbet’s Green… I think this might be my favourite and it might even match my coat!
curious_vermillion_courbet
Aura & Thyme – Gentle, perfectly complimentary pastel shades of blue & green… what could be more lovely…
curious_thyme_aura
Robin Red Breast & Astrid Grey – Astrid Grey is a soft warm grey that works beautifully with Autumnal shades and Robin Redbreast is a great tonal russet red.
curious_redbreast_astrid
Oceana & Chamomile – This is a fabulous combination and one day I might be brave enough to wear it! Oceana is a vivid azure, an idyllic Meditteranean sky and Chamomile is the sunflowers growing beneath it…
curious_oceana_chamomile
Manor & Button Jar Blue – Both tonally complimentary, yet with fabulous contrast. Manor is a complex melange of forest greens and teal tones and Button Jar is the ever-popular bright turquoise that is much loved by Madtosh fans, it’s a winning combination…
curious_manor_buttonjar
Kitten and Paper are a perfectly subtle pairing. Kitten is a complex neutral ranging from steel through greige to the pale parchment highlights that are picked out perfectly by the flat off-white alabaster of Paper.
curious_kitten_paper
There, something for every knitter… now I just have to decide which colour combination to use for my own Summertide!
* * * * *
Another big thanks to Meadow Yarn! Has one of these stolen your heart? We’ll be discussing colour choices and more on the Ravelry thread, so come join us. I’m going to be giving away 10 free copies of the Summertide Shawl Pattern, and everyone who posts in the thread will be automatically entered in the draw!
Play

Curious Handmade Podcast 89

As we near the end of August – there is a definite end of summer feeling with more than a hint of autumn around the corner here in the UK. I always feel a bit stirred up around this time as I love hot weather and lazy summers BUT on the other hand…..knitting season right?!!

My guest on the show today is wonderful knitwear designer Elizabeth Doherty of Blue Bee Studio. We chatted back at Squam in June and I’m excited to be sharing it with you today.

Show Sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their wonderfully soft and gorgeous Acadia yarn. If you want to see how wonderfully this knits up, take a look at the two tone sample of my pattern Whispering Island!

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can get your hands on some Acadia of your own at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

What’s in the WIP?

Summertide MKAL

Hold on to summer with 8 weeks of knitting, camaraderie and mystery!

Summertide MKAL

CHWChallenge-button

Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge 

Interview with Elizabeth Doherty from Blue Bee Studio

Blue Bee Studio

Top Down: Reimagining Set-In Sleeve Design

Quince & Co

Squam Art Workshops

Elizabeth’s designs on Ravelry

Lina – the pattern that Elizabeth referred to that came out while we were at Squam

Elizabeth’s latest design Helvetica

Announcements

There’s just A FEW DAYS left to vote for Curious Handmade in the finals of the UK Podcasting Awards! It only takes a few seconds to vote, and every vote counts! and I’d be really grateful if you’d take a moment to vote for us here: all you need to do is scroll down to my photo and click!
ukpodawards-winners

September 5th is the Great London Yarn Crawl! There will be a special pop up marketplace, and there’s going to be an Indie Designer Spotlight stand. Several up and coming designers will be rotating through, and I’m lucky enough to be among them.

I’ll be there from 4pm to 5pm at the Chelsea Town Hall.

Stop by! It’s going to be a really fun event.

Thanks again for listening! Happy knitting ….until next week.

 * * * * * 

I am a Craftsy affiliate so if you would like to support Curious Handmade when you are buying supplies or a class, click through the Craftsy banner below: it means I’ll get a small commission. Thank you so much.

Craftsy

I’m so happy to be able to share this post with you. Kristen (the yarn genius behind Skein’s hand-dyed loveliness) is visiting the blog today to give us some inspiration in the days leading up to the start of the Summertide MKAL. This lady knows a lot about colour! Her beautiful yarn will be available for pre-order on Friday at Skein, perfectly timed for the beginning of the MKAL! Thanks so much, Kristen

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Hello everyone!  It’s Kristen from Skein here to help give you a few tips on selecting colour combinations for the Summertide Shawl MKAL.  As you know, the mystery shawl is going to be knit from two colours.  Here are a couple of points to help you choose a winning colour combination

1. Choose What You Love

Go to your stash, your LYS or online and find ONE skein of yarn in a colour that makes your heart sing.  Don’t think about anything else; just let your eyes wander over the colours until you find ‘the one’.

2. Time to Decide

colourwheels

Now it’s time to choose a second colour, and here’s where you need to stop and ask yourself a few questions:

1. Do you want there to be a lot of contrast, which will turn the shawl into a bold statement?   or

2. Do you want a more subtle effect?

If you want to knit a shawl with high contrast, then you might want to look for a complementary colour (the colour that sits opposite on the colour wheel).  For example, if you have chosen purple, you might want to look for a complementary yellow.  However, if you’re after something more subtle, then choose colours that have a similar hue, known as analogous colours (colours that sit next to each other on the colour wheel).

Another way of brightening or toning down a colour combination is by playing around with tone.  Basically, tone is the lightness or darkness of a colour.  For example, a very pale lilac will have less contrast than a vivid violet.  If you have chosen a pale colour and you want to give your combination a lift, choose a bright second colour. Or, if you want to keep your colour combination subtle, select a colour that has a similar tone.  If in doubt, choose a grey or neutral.  Greys and neutrals paired with any colour is a fail safe choice.

3. Test Your Colour Combo

So, now you have chosen your yarns, let’s see if you will like them together.  There’s a very simple way to do this: take both of your yarns and twist them together – are you happy with how they look?  Twisting the yarns together will give you a good indication as to how these two colours will knit up.

We have pre-orders available for this KAL, so I thought it would be fun to share with you a few selected colour combinations.

1. Boho – This combo will add a little zing to your shawl, a bright pop of variegated colour mixed with a subtle semi-solid.

TDS6

 

2. Bright and Bold – These are all very strong colours that will contrast nicely together

TDS8

3. Chic – The fail safe grey paired with a pop of colour, which is great for those wanting a little contrast but not too much!

TDS10

4. Chilled Out – Pale shades together are always very soothing; they are perfect for those who are after something subtle.

 

misty sea

 

5.  Minimal – Again we see grey mixed with light colours, or you can opt for a monochromatic colour combination using a dark and pale grey.

graphite

6. Natural – A nice mix of neutrals, or add a hint of green for a natural look.

fallow

7. Romantic – Use shades of pink to create an ultra-feminine combination.

cherish

8. Touch of Whimsy – Use a strong semi-solid and pair it with a variegated to get a whimsical feel, OR, pair light and dark colours together for contrast.  And, if you’re undecided, don’t forget neutrals!  They will work well with all colours.

tiptoes

Have a wonderful time selecting your colours. If you need help with a colour combination, I’m always happy to give advice!  Finally, I just want to say a big thank you to Helen for asking me to be a part of the Summertide Shawl MKAL.

Happy knitting!

Thanks again to Kristen and Skein for being such a big part of the Summertide MKAL. If you haven’t joined us on the Ravelry thread yet, come on over! I’ll be giving away 10 free copies of the pattern before it officially goes on sale, so set up your project page and jump in with a post if you’d like to be entered in the draw. It’s a great way to get to know the other knitters and really share the excitement and surprise. 

Summertide MKAL

I’ve been hinting about this for a few weeks now, and I’m so excited to finally give you all the first taste of this Mystery Knit Along!

Hold on to summer with 8 weeks of knitting, camaraderie and mystery!

We will kick off on Tuesday 1 September when the pattern will be available to pre-purchase on Ravelry. The first clue will be released on Thursday 10 September, with weekly clues released until 1 October.

The Pattern

There’s always a certain wistfulness as the summer drifts towards its end. Our thoughts turn to things like school and schedule, and the freedom and joy of long summer days begins to fade. But there’s another side to the end of summertime: as we return from summer vacations and kids head back to school, pockets of time may begin to open up, where you can indulge yourself with projects of your own. It’s a time to set off on some adventures just for you.

That’s where the Summertide Shawl Mystery Knit-Along will work its magic.

The design is inspired by those precious holiday feelings: festive freedom from workaday responsibilities, the wanderlust of global nomads exploring a brand new city, and the glittery joy of dancing the year’s shortest night away at a solstice festival. Summertide reinterprets familiar favourites with a carefree bohemian vibe: you can look forward to beautiful lace and a modern, feminine and romantic sensibility with a twist. It will keep you guessing with every clue, filling your free moments with a delicious sense of discovery at every turn.

I’ve written Summertide in my beloved percentage checklist format so you can keep track of stitch counts, yardage requirements and pace yourself throughout the KAL. I’ve charted the lace sections, too. With all that reassurance it will be easier to surrender yourself to the mystery of making.

The Yarn

As always, the fibre is a huge part of the experience. The pattern requires two 100g skeins of sock yarn, approximately 400m/440yds each.  It’s designed for two different colours, although the shawl will look great in one colour too. Two of my very favourite yarn people are coming on board to help us choose the colours (and to contribute some beautiful skeins for giveaways!). If you’re anything like me, you might already have some sock yarn in your stash patiently waiting for it’s turn, but if you’re even more like me, you may want to indulge in some brand new skeins just for this very special project. Happily, at Curious Handmade we’re always ready to enable your yarn love!

The recommended yarns for Summertide are:

Skein Top Draw Sock

Skein is about to have a shop update on Friday (always a hotly awaited event!) and we  have a guest post from Kristen coming up recommending some absolutely wonderful colour combinations (I’ve had a sneak preview and they are breathtaking!)

Tosh Merino Light

This perennial favourite can be found at one of our long-time sponsors, Meadow Yarn, and we’ll also have a guest post from Anj about her favourite colour combos! I think you’ll be very inspired.

The Camaraderie!

I’ve started a thread on Ravelry for the MKAL, so it’s never too early to join me there! It’s a great way to meet each other and share the surprise with the community!

In fact, I’ll be having a little draw to give away 10 copies of the pattern, and all you have to do to enter is create a project page on Ravelry and post in the thread to let me know you’re joining us!

So hang onto some of that summer time feeling for yourself as we head into autumn, and join us in the Summertide Shawl Mystery Knitalong!

If you haven’t signed up for the Curious Handmade Newsletter yet, this would be a great time to join us: there will be special early bird discounts for all subscribers.

Happy knitting!

As we explore both the happiness and constraints of a handmade wardrobe various ideas have come up. Today Susan (Kizmet on Ravelry) is sharing a guest post on her thoughts around “a uniform”. My current uniform is definitely the jeans and t-shirt kind. And a pair of ballet flats as they are the fastest to get on and off as I am in and out of the house all day. It could definitely do with some work!

Thanks for a thought provoking post Susan.

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To be honest, until 3 months ago, I didn’t have a wardrobe. I just had a closet with clothes. Now I’m exploring the concept of a Handmade Wardrobe along with Helen, other podcasters like Libby from Truly Myrtle and designers like Cal Patch, as well as dozens of challengers in the Ravelry Curious Handmade forum. While exploring this concept-two words keep reappearing: Uniform and Capsule. I think they offer two related but quite different approaches to a curated wardrobe.

In today’s blog post, I want to explore “The Uniform” with you.

The definition of Uniform includes:

1)   The same, as in character or degree; unvarying;

2)   An identifying outfit or style of dress worn by the members of a given profession, organization, or rank.

When you think of uniform, what does it conjure up for you?

For me, it’s-

- Nurse’s uniform (I started my nursing career in a hospital wearing uniforms. Now morphed into “scrubs”- which don’t only stay in the hospital anymore)
- Police uniform
- Doctor’s white coat
- Military uniform
- Bowling shirts, athletic team-wear in general
- School uniform

In other words-I think of work clothing that distinguishes the wearer with a particular profession, team-sport or school. One day’s outfit is pretty much the same, even identical, from day to day.

When I think a little broader, I remember my grandmother wearing her “uniform”-a cotton housedress with full-length apron over it. I have no idea how many of them she had-it could have been 2 or 10; they were memorably indistinguishable one from another, but they were definitely my grandma.

ways to look best

I’ve had friends who were both relieved and tortured when they first encountered a uniform requirement for their children’s camp or school. They claim to be cheaper and foster less competition in their wearers. And I know knitter-mothers who lament the coming school year’s need for yet another red sweater they feel compelled to knit for their growing child.

I worked with a woman who wore a uniform in the corporate world, and I of course noticed this. Every day, she wore a navy skirt, a light blue collared, button-down shirt and a navy cardigan style (collarless) blazer. Every day. I started to watch and confirm and then I watched how I first found this curious and intriguing. It was definitely a professional, polished “signature” look. I also noticed that I wasn’t noticing the men in the office who always wear their uniforms.

 

And yet among us, many are dreaming of their own uniform. In her Six Items or Fewer experiment, Heidi Hackemer found four reasons that drew volunteers to participate in this project and one of them was the desire for a uniform.

 

“Oh gosh, sometimes I just want a uniform.” What do we think a uniform would do for us? Would solve or improve for us? I’ll share my theories but really would also love to hear yours.

1)   Relief from decision-making: wouldn’t it be nice to open your closet door and pull out the next thing on a hangar, or one top and on bottom from the shelf and just put it on without a lot of thought and angst? It would fit, it would be “you” and your day wouldn’t start with an elaborate mix-and-match game.

2)   A distinguishable look or style-once selected, the uniform would be “you.”

3)   Ease of making (or focus in shopping)-my colleague surely selected her 3 piece uniform from ready to wear. Depending on what you selected for your uniform would shape whether you can go buy it if you choose, or make it. If you choose to make it, by making the same uniform pieces over and over, I think you’d better be able to get the fit down, buy the right amount of materials and make them efficiently (if that’s one of your goals).

4)   Creativity within constraints: once you have your basics down, you could play with the additional frills, aka accessories. This could be a real bonus for makers, as shawls, scarves, jewellery, even socks all could be the accompaniment to the basic uniform

What could be some of the possible uniforms?

Obviously, they could be anything. But some common ones that occur to me are:

  • T-shirt + jeans/shorts
  • Tunic + leggings
  • Dress + cardigan
  • Shell + waterflowy cardigan + skirt/pants

How about you? Do you have a uniform? What is it?

Do you want a uniform? Why?

We look forward to continuing the conversation over in the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge group, share your Pinterest pictures and join the Instagram Game with #CHWChallenge.

Play

Curioous Handmade Podcast With Libby From Truly Myrtle

We’ve got a second helping of Libby from Truly Myrtle this week. After her excellent guest post for the blog, she also sat down to chat with me in more detail about her own handmade wardrobe and the journey she’s been on for several years. She’s an absolute font of information. At one point in the interview Libby says that she feels as though she was “born to make things” and if you’ve visited her website, it’s very obvious that she was. I took so much away from this conversation, but the main inspiration for me has been moving towards thinking in terms of whole outfits. Libby really captures the glee of creativity and making, and I hope you have a lot of fun listening too.

Show Sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their wonderfully soft and gorgeous Acadia yarn. If you want to see how wonderfully this knits up, take a look at the two tone sample of my pattern Whispering Island!

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can get your hands on some Acadia of your own at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

What’s in the WIP

I’m still working on the really fun and relaxing Cavepoint Shawl by Paula from the Knitting Pipeline. The Cavepoint KAL is going until the end of the month so I might just make it under the wire.

I’m also working on a new shawl design for a Mystery Knit Along which will be coming out soon…there will be more details over the next couple of weeks.

The whole Curious Handmade Wardrobe challenge is a giant WIP for me. There’s so much great conversation happening in the group thread, and everyone’s getting super inspired, especially me! August is the planning month, and I’m still deep in the planning phase myself, though I have some thoughts coming together. Also, we have a hashtag now: #CHWChallenge so be sure that you use it on all your social media posts to that we can all follow along!

Show Links

We mentioned a few patterns:

Merchant and Mills Dress Shirt

Washi Dress

Simplicity Pattern 1080

Libby’s recommendation for keeping inspiration organized:

Pocket

Threadle

The pattern tutorial that Libby mentioned:

Box bag tutorial

Announcements

There’s just over a week left to vote for Curious Handmade in the finals of the UK Podcasting Awards! It only takes a few seconds to vote, and every vote counts! and I’d be really grateful if you’d take a moment to vote for us here: all you need to do is scroll down to my photo and click!
ukpodawards-winners

September 5th is the Great London Yarn Crawl! There will be a special pop up marketplace, and there’s going to be an Indie Designer Spotlight stand. Several up and coming designers will be rotating through, and I’m lucky enough to be among them. Stop by! It’s a really fun event.

Thursday 29th of October through Sunday the 1st of November there’s an amazing retreat on: the Geeky Puffin Knitpalooza in Edinburgh. It’s being run by the girls from the Geeky Girls Knit video podcast and knitrundig. There will be lots of interesting sessions being run by a wide variety of teachers, including Kate from A Playful Day.

There’s also a Craftsy sale happing this weekend — up to 70% off their best selling supplies. It’s a great opportunity to stock up and treat yourself to some new creative supplies. If you’d like to support Curious Handmade at the same time, click through the Craftsy banner: it means I’ll get a small commission. Thank you so much.

Craftsy

Thanks again for listening! I’m sure you’ll be as impressed and inspired as I was, hearing about how Libby has focused so much talent and creativity on her own handmade wardrobe (while raising four gorgeous kids, too!) Happy knitting (and sewing!) to you all until next week.

 

As some of you might know already, Curious Handmade was nominated for the UK Podcast Awards, and we made it to the finals. I am so incredibly honoured and thrilled. It’s a bit of fun, but it’s also such lovely validation for a project that I’ve poured my heart and soul into.

My amazing listeners have gotten me this far, and it would be incredible if we could make it to the very end and win.

Voting is super easy: just click on the image below to be taken to the voting website, then scroll down and click on my picture!

ukpodawards-winners

That’s it! The competition is tough, and every vote counts, so it it would mean the world to me if you’d take the time to vote for Curious Handmade. Thank you so, so much. Fingers crossed!

 

 Continuing in our series of conversations with talented creators who are exploring the world of a handmade wardrobe, I’m really happy to share this interview with the marvellous Sarah Knight, a designer and blogger who shares her adventures with making on her site Crafts from the Cwtch. Sarah has her own strong sense of style and buckets of experience and wisdom when it comes to creating wearables that really work in real life: she’s been running her own personal handmade wardrobe project for a while now, with some amazing results! She very kindly agreed to answer my questions about her inspirations, her journey, why a handmade wardrobe matters, and all her best tips for everyone embarking on this adventure. Welcome Sarah!

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Tell us a little about why you’re interested in having a handmade wardrobe.

Sarah KnightHaving a handmade wardrobe appeals to me for a whole number of reasons. Firstly I hate shopping for clothes — nothing ever fits properly and I get stressed, disheartened and start having negative thoughts about myself and my body. My body is actually not unusual for a mother of two in her forties, it’s the clothes in the shops that are all wrong. I have curves plus I’m short — these things are not routinely accommodated in the High Street, which means that, like a large proportion of people, I have to wear clothes that don’t fit (and don’t look great).

Secondly, I am not a follower of “fashion”, so finding clothes that suit me and that I want to buy is difficult. Then there’s the practical consideration that I don’t spend very much on my own clothing – the kids keep growing and majority of the budget is quickly used up on them.

I turned 41 during ‘Me Made May’ and realised I had reached a point in my life where I have a wardrobe stuffed (and I mean stuffed) with things I don’t really like or care about, just because I need to wear something and they were the least awful options (or the right price) when I was in the shop. Getting dressed is quite an effort under these circumstances, which isn’t a very inspiring start to the day.

Which came first: Knitting, or sewing?IMG_4659

My childhood was spent surrounded by yarn and fabric. I loved draping myself in my own “designs” but despite being shown how to knit and sew from a very young age, it didn’t interest me at all. When I wanted something made, I could sketch my ideas and it would be sewn or knit for me by my Mum (who you may know as Lynda from the GBSB series 2) or my Nan (who trained as a tailor before having children) – between them they were able to make anything.  It would be true to say that I had a wardrobe which was almost entirely handmade for much of my childhood, and far from appreciating it, I was desperate to wear ‘shop-bought’ fashion, like all my friends. (Doubly hideous as this was during the 70s/80s!)

A few years ago, I was at home with two pre-schoolers and I started knitting and blogging about my projects. I have mountains of scarves and shawls but very few garments, as commercial patterns often have the same sizing issues as shop-bought clothing. On the other hand, I’ve been sewing for just a few weeks. My machine was a gift from my mum, and it was still in the box until I started my first Handmade Wardrobe Project. Giving it a permanent space on my desk has totally changed my perception of sewing.

How often do you wear something you’ve made?

Since starting my Handmade Wardrobe Project I find that I prefer to wear the clothes I’ve made because they fit and I like them. At the time of writing, that’s only seven items, so I wear them as much as I can get away with, but I really need a lot more to choose from.

Do you relate to “fashion” or “style”? Do you think more about a “capsule wardrobe” or a ”uniform”? Do you have a uniform?

IMG_4677My ideal would be to have a kind of ‘capsule uniform’ – I live in the countryside and have a dog so I walk a lot and jeans have been the most practical option for most of the year, including summer. With jeans, I like comfy tops which can be layered to suit the weather and they can be dressed up or down or worn with knit/crochet accessories.

The longer term plan for my handmade wardrobe is to to make neutral items that will work separately or together (for layering) and won’t compete with bold splashes of colour from my knitwear. I would like tunic-style dresses which can be worn as dresses in the summer, or layered over long-sleeved t-shirts and leggings for cooler weather and this option is now opening up as I can make them exactly how I want them to be — it’s very exciting!

Who inspires you in this journey?

I would like to be more like my mother, who is able to ‘whip’ something up whenever she wants, but my inspiration for getting started with my  Handmade Wardrobe Project was actually watching the journey of other crafters I follow. So many ‘knitters’ are now making and wearing handmade garments which cross over between knitting, crochet and sewing. I’ve been following Truly Myrtle and Not so Granny for a long time, and both Libby and Joanne really champion wearing handmade and show how they put their outfits together which I love to see.

Then A Playful Day podcast included interviews with Sonya Philip and Ysolda, and I could really relate to the things they were talking about – I quickly ordered some fabric. Now that I’m learning more about sewing, I’m really inspired by people like Cal Patch who teaches that anyone can draft patterns and sew things they love to wear. This is the way to go for me, for sure.  

What’s the most wearable item you’ve made?

IMG_4783

I’m currently obsessed with Fancy Tiger Craft’s Sailor Top. I had a great time experiementing with that one recently: you can see the process on my blog!

Do you have any suggestions of great resources for new sewists?

IMG_4981

I love the Creativebug sewing classes

Finding a local class or at the very least someone who knows their way around a sewing machine is also invaluable. Half way through my second sewing project I thought my machine was broken – my mum quickly worked out that I’d threaded the bobbin the wrong way around which wasn’t something I’d thought to check. If she hadn’t solved the problem it may have been enough to put me off finishing the top.
Social media is a great resource.Using hashtags, it’s possible can see what others have made from specific patterns, and it’s also a way of getting inspiration for new projects, seeing the fabrics that people have used etc. There are lots of people blogging about sewing and some really great tips and notes on how they have altered popular commercial patterns. As a beginner, this is very helpful.
My top tip is to get some inexpensive fabric and not to overthink it – just start making something. If you can accept that the first few garments don’t have to be perfect, it’s quite liberating. Don’t be afraid to try it!

What’s going to be your Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge with us this fall? 

I really like your idea of making an outfit. I’m not sure what yet but I am thinking about sewing a dress and making a jumper or cardigan that I can wear with it.
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Thanks again to Sarah for visiting us here at Curious Handmade. You can follow along with all of her creative adventures here:

CH 87: With Cal Patch

August 14, 2015 — 1 Comment
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Curious Handmade Podcast Ch 87

So this week has been the big official launch of the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge! If you haven’t gotten involved yet, don’t worry, there’s still lots of time. We’re all still in the dreaming stage! You can get all the details on the official post here on the blog, and make sure that you pop into the Curious Handmade Ravelry Group to get in on all the community conversations and support.

Onto today’s podcast: it’s the first one that ties into the Challenge, and although it was recorded months ago, it’s so perfect to usher us into this project. I’m talking with maker, designer and teacher Cal Patch of Hodge Podge Farm. We were cabin mates at Squam this year, and I was so thrilled to sit down and record this interview with her right there in that magical environment. I’ve been squirreling the recording away until now and I’m bursting to share it with all of you: it’s a really special one.

Show Sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their magnificent Acadia yarn.

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can get your hands on some Acadia of your own at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

Show Links

Cal Patch Squam Smock

Cal mentions her Borealis Shawl design in Jill Draper Makes Stuff yarn

We mention Cal’s amazing online class on CreativeBug. You can find them all right here if you’d like to browse. Some that are especially good for learning foundational sewing and pattern drafting skills are

Market Tote Bag (this is Cal’s recommended very first sewing project!)

Patternmaking Simplified: A-Line Skirt

Learn Pattern Drafting

Pattern Drafting Course with Cal Patch

Hanging dress

Cal’s always busy teaching and sharing her knowledge with other crafters. She generally has a bunch of workshops coming up all around the world. All the details and dates can be found on her teaching page. The next few in line are:

in August:

Make Your Own Dress Immersion Weekend at Drop Forge & Tool in Hudson, NY

Print & Sew Folk Dress (with Maya Donenfeld) at Craftstitute in Ithaca, NY

in September:

Sew Your Own Leggings at Fiber College of Maine

in November:

Sewing and Crochet Classes at Lucky Star Art Camp in Texas

 Cal Patch Skirts

As if all that online and offline teaching wasn’t enough work, Cal has somehow found time to bring out an absolutely wonderful book which really demystifies pattern making, a subject which intimidates a lot of sewists. It shouldn’t! Especially if you have Cal’s book by your side.

Design it Yourself Clothes: Pattern Making Simplified

You can find out more about everything she’s up to by visiting her at:

hodge podge farm

Cal’s Etsy shop

Ravelry

Announcements

Just a reminder! I’m still pinching myself that Curious Handmade has made it to the finals of the UK Podcasting Awards!  Every vote counts and I’d be so grateful if you’d take a moment to vote for us here! Thank you so much!

Please come along on September 5th for the Great London Yarn Crawl! I’m sharing a stand on a rotating basis with a bunch of wonderful designers as part of their pop up marketplace Indie Designer Spotlight.

I’m working with Emily Quinton from Makelight Studios and my friend Vicki Hillman, fashion stylist to plan the first Curious Handmade live workshop on Friday the 9th of October. Save the date!

I really hope you enjoyed listening to that episode as much as I loved recording it: you can hear how much fun we had. Don’t forget to get in on the Creative Handmade Wardrobe Challenge! Until next time, happy making!