Fringe Association, Cowichan-inspired Vests, and the Shackleton-along

by Sarah Lake Upton in


During my brief window of free and relatively fast internet I discovered the Fridge Association Blog (I suspect that I am late in my discovery, but I effectively live under an internet free rock for half of the year) and now I have a bit of a blog crush.   I am generally a bit more interested in the “tradition” side of the knitting world than the “fashion” side, but I have definitely been won over by some of her sense of style.  And by her photos.  For a myriad of reasons I have been wanting to learn how to sew for a long time, and scrolling back through her posts about Slow Fashion October (link) I have been inspired to finally take the leap when I get home, starting with the Stowe Bag and then the Gallery Dress (her blog post here, pattern here).  We’ll see if I manage to maintain this new resolve in the face of actually sewing.  I tend to feel about sewing machines and cutting fabric the same way I feel about a blank page, both engender a similar overwhelming sense of potential and fear which generally results in a sudden need to do absolutely anything else (and which can ultimately be quite productive, but not in terms of sewing or writing).

On a slightly different topic, I think I have mentioned FiberTrek’s fantastic Shackleton-along (Ravelry group here).  The basic idea is to work outside of your comfort zone and tackle that huge intimidating project that you have always wanted to do but maybe haven’t quite yet had the courage to start, be it knitting your first sweater or hand-spinning enough yarn for a shawl or learning a new technique.    I have been pondering my project for about six months now, meaning that I am about six months behind.  I am hampered a bit by my work and travel schedule (there is no room on the boat or in my luggage for my spinning wheel or a sweater-in-progress) and by my lack of reasonable internet on the boat (I thought about researching the knitwear worn by the Endurance crew, and replicating some of it) but I think I finally have a workable idea. 

It’s a long story, but one of the chief mates (we have two, they rotate the same way that I do) spent part of his break on the National Geographic Explorer,  which is the Lindblad boat that does the Antartica trips.  He brought me back 200 grams of bulky weight hand spun Falkland. 

 The gift yarn in question, looking quite lovely against the backdrop of Manuel Antonio beach, Costa Rica.  I didn't really how tropical the color way was until I started photographing it with palm trees in the background. 

The gift yarn in question, looking quite lovely against the backdrop of Manuel Antonio beach, Costa Rica.  I didn't really how tropical the color way was until I started photographing it with palm trees in the background. 

Inspired by the Fringe Association KAL Cowichan style vest I’m thinking of something Cowichan inspired, which given the bulky yarn and large needles is not something I would normally knit, but given how much time we spend in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska it’s oddly appropriate.  It also ties neatly into a number of traditions and topics that I’ve been wanting to explore for a while, starting with the ways that traditional societies adapted and created craft "traditions" for the tourist trade.  The development and popularity of Cowichan sweaters is also probably roughly contemporaneous with Shackleton’s voyage (I think….). To match the yarn the chief mate brought me I plan to hand spin enough yarn for the rest of the vest, though I haven’t yet decided what fleece to use.  Like most spinners I have one style of yarn that I tend to create on autopilot (worsted, very fine) and I would like to branch out.  Creating woolen spun bulky weight is about as far as one can get from my normal spinning style, and I can (in theory) work it on a drop spindle, meaning that as projects go it should travel well. 

I just flew home the day before yesterday and am still very much in my readjustment period (my plans for the afternoon include knitting and catching up on Top Chef).  I shall think more on this next week.