Summer of Basics 2018: 3 Definite Plans and a Dream Project



It's been a hot minute there, hasn't it... I'm back from an amazing week at the Squam Art Workshops in New Hampshire, brimming with new ideas and inspiration to push further on projects already in progress. The jet-lag has finally faded, and I’m trying to carry the sense of focus and openness of Squam back into the real world, so to speak.

I’m not quite sure when it happened, but somehow or another, it's June, which means its time for my favorite Make-Along of the year: Fringe Association's Summer of Basics! The basic idea is simple: spend three months making three wardrobe-staple garments, whether knitted or sewn, and the sky is the limit on type of garment, as long as it's a basic in your wardrobe. In theory, by the end of the summer you've added three beautifully handmade pieces to the core of your closet, and you've stretched your skills and had fun along the way. 

I had some ideas for what I was going to make, but after spending last week with so many incredible multi-craftual creatives wearing all kinds of things on my "I swore I could never make something like that" list (Brienne's Lander Pants! Em's Ginger Jeans (okay, those I've seen a lot but STILL)!), I decided to lean a little harder on the sewing end of the spectrum and make an earnest push to expand my non-knitting skills (there will still be knitting, don't worry). So, here's the plan:

  1. A shawl-collared, cabled cardigan (yet to be named): Not a secret that I think a cabled cardigan is a wardrobe basic for everyone, but, I think it has a particularly important role to play in the knitter's closet. I design a lot of cabled sweaters every year, but one centerpiece of my "getting-ready-for-fall" knitting agenda is a densely, texturally cabled cardigan with a generously-sized collar of some stripe (see, e.g.). This one is probably going to be my Rhinebeck sweater this year, and you can see some previews of the cable motif if you follow along on instagram. (I know it seems a little crazy to start knitting a warm, wooly thing in mid-June, but trust me: no one was ever sad they started this kind of project early when it is suddenly cold in late September!)
  2. A Scout Tee from Grainline Studio: For whatever reason, I am desperately short on tops—particularly the "wear under a cardigan but wearable if you take the cardigan off" kind, so I'm looking forward to closing that gap with this classic of the indie sewing world. I'm hoping to make several of these, including one in a beautiful solid double-gauze I picked up at Fancy Tiger the last time I was in Denver, one in one of the Carolyn Friedlander prints, and another in some Liberty lawn I've had tucked away "for when I'm better at sewing." The Scout has no darts or "complicated" shaping, but, despite having sewn in a ton of sweater sleeves, I've never set a sleeve into a woven garment, so that will be a new adventure. 
  3. A Lodo Dress from True Bias: Ponte or other stable-knit dresses were long a staple of my office wardrobe (because ready-to-wear pants and I are not friends, and because I used to travel a lot), so when I saw this one, and particularly the lovely version Shannon made, this one went promptly into the queue. I'm using a mallard-teal knit that is pretty close to my favorite version of my favorite color. Depending on how it fits, I may grade the shoulder shaping down a smidge to make sure I can still throw a cardigan on over it on our chilly summer evenings. I'm very much hoping this is going to become a day-to-night staple, and is definitely one I could see eventually making in multiple colors.

Because I've never met anything I didn't want to overdo (we’re working on this one, honest), I also gave myself something of an Everest sewing project that I'm hoping to finish before summer's over: the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case. Heather has inspired so many women to make their own jeans (and walked them through it!), and I'm hoping that her online class (and some hand-holding from friends who've made them) will get me on the path to pant-wearing happiness. Incidentally, reading Heather's just make the thing! attitude towards garment sewing and seeing how much it mirrors what I tell people about knitting literally every day (often several times a day!) was a very welcome reminder to let go of perfection, embrace the process, and get over the hump of feeling like your tools are glaring at you to get on with it, already. Undoubtedly, this will be something of a bumpy ride, but that’s part of the point, and it’s probably worth reminding myself that I am—or should be!—totally here for it.

I’ll be posting some updates on my summer of basics makes on both the main #summerofbasics hashtag and under #skrsummerofbasics on instagram, and popping in here with some more details on the FOs, the process, and what I’ve (hopefully!) learned along the way. If you’re making along as well, I’d love to hear about your projects and what you’re most excited about.

What “basics” are missing from your closet this summer? If you’re a sweater knitter, what counts as a basic in your book?