• 17 September, 2014
  • 15 September, 2014
  • COMMON ERA #knits

    Hey!  Did you know you can click the cute little shopping cart at the top of the blog to go to my knitwear shop?

    Or you can just go here - check it out!

    TODAY everything except sweaters is 50% off - so that means handmade softer-than-cashmere hats, hand warmers, scarves, spa day face towels, and bracelets!

    Use code HAPPYMONDAY50 for the 50% off discount.  Happy Monday!

    PS - I ship anywhere in the world!

  • 13 September, 2014
  • BOWERY ROLL-KNIT HAT / SOME THOUGHTS

    Not all hats are created equal.  Because this one is handmade and softer than cashmere.  They’ve available on the Common Era #knits shop here.

    On a few other notes, fashion week has come and gone here in New York City.  It’s funny how démodé it all seems: designers competing to show new and exciting styles that, likely, everyone will forget after a few hours.  I’d love to see more permanent collections and slight alterations to tried & true styles.

    Because those are the styles that people love: the cinematic, the classic - things like safari trousers and equestrian blazers, white shirts, a comfy, soft sweater, a pair of loafers or flats or pumps.

    How amazing would it be, for instance, if a designer’s collection was actually about perfecting 1 or 2 styles over the course of 5 or 10 years?  Making the smallest alterations and paying the most attention to detail.

    That’s what I aim to do with Common Era.  I can do this because I make everything by hand, and the made-to-order method allows me to pace designs with new orders to fulfill.

    Still, it’s difficult getting people to trust “the handmade” over the factory supervised, machine-made items they get in most retail shops, whether low or high end.

    How do you convince a client (or consumer) that your skills are artisanal - that you check every stitch personally, that you sew every seam by hand, and that process should be trusted more than the process of outsourcing designs and labor.

    I have 10 years of experience knitting and creating clothes.  When you do something practically every day for 10 years, it becomes more than just a hobby.  It becomes a trade, part of life’s work, regardless of whether you’re commercial and sell what you make.  I want to help bring beautiful clothes made with care to people’s wardrobes.

    - j.a.

  • 12 September, 2014
  • 11 September, 2014
  • 9 September, 2014
  • WHAT I’M WORKING ON | 2

    Today, I finished these hand warmers and they’re now for sale (made-to-order!) on commoneraknits.tictail.com.  They come in this beautiful marled chicory (pictured above), light grey, or camel.  The yarn, alpaca + merino, is softer than cashmere and warmer than pure wool.  Really!  These are dreamy.  So go to my shop and pick up a pair!

    Otherwise, things have been moving quickly.  It seems I was waiting forever for August to end, and now we’re almost half-way through September.  Of course, the weather here in NYC is still ridiculously hot.  Today is the first misty grey day where the temperature dropped below 75 F…  I know, 75 F is cold to me now!  

    All of the changes are exciting and tiring at the same time.  Like my mind is prepared for the next season (the next thing!) but my body isn’t.  My body still says, stay in bed awhile longer, and rest a little more.

    Well, I’m off to work on one more super exciting project before tomorrow… Til tomorrow, then!

    -j.a.

  • 8 September, 2014
  • GREENE ST. SWEATER

    I’ve been working on designing a perfect sweater. Something that is cozy but isn’t too heavy, is oversized but not too slouchy so that your body loses shape. I came up with the Greene St. Sweater.

    What goes in to sweater design apart from the actual shape & style? First, choosing the right yarn out of literally thousands of possibilities is the most important thing. The yarn I used with the Greene St. Sweater is a 100% Peruvian highland wool, fair trade pitch black yarn. It’s soft and yet it holds its shape. It’s also super flattering in the sleeves.

    Do you see the back of the sweater in the last photo? The back is knit with bigger needles than the front, so it has that loose lace look.

    I’m planning on making this sweater in black, light grey, and an un-dyed natural color. It’s available at http://commoneraknits.tictail.com now in black!

    PS - that’s me by the way! Say hi, leave a comment! I’d love to get to know you if you’re stopping by.

  • 2 September, 2014
  • MINIMAL FALL SHOPPING

    Over the past year I’ve really latched on to Cuyana’s “fewer better” idea - that you should pair down your wardrobe to the essentials, and your essentials should be of the highest quality.  

    So, this fall, I find that I have everything I need already. Two pairs of black trousers in different styles, two cashmere v-necks (one navy, one grey), a few silk shirts from Everlane, a black wool dress, and caramel loafers from Massimo Dutti.

    My fall shopping list has just a few things on it, but it’s more of a wish list. Here are some of the items I’m looking at this fall:

    • A white shirt. I wear mine to death and we all know what happens to well-worn whites. I’m looking at Everlane’s selection but the jury is still out.  Where do you get nice white button downs? Mine is from Uniqlo and I’m ready to upgrade.
    • I love Cole Haan’s fall campaign, and I can’t really resist these shoes. I’ve been looking for a chic pair of oxfords with just the right feminine touch and these might be the ones.
    • And maybe, this pair of jeans from Madewell. Although I’m a sucker for black/dark navy denim I really like the light hues and relaxed fit of these slim boyjeans.

    … Yep.  That’s it.  Of course, I’ll be spending my time and money on things that I enjoy doing, and it just so happens that I enjoy making hats, scarves, and sweaters. I’m still working on Common Era’s permanent collection and it’s going to be great (can I say that? yes, it’s going to be great). The permanent collection launches September 10th. Aaah! I’m so excited. On that note…

    In the photo, you see sunglasses by Saint Laurent, a leather coin purse by Everlane, and a roll-knit hat from Common Era (coming soon to the store!).

    The hat is softer than cashmere and warmer than pure wool.  That’s because it’s a baby alpaca/merino blend, it’s a dream to knit, and the yarn is fair trade and eco-friendly.

    So in the spirit of Cuyana’s “fewer better,” I hope you’ll keep your fall shopping list to a few items. Better yet if one of those items is a hat from Common Era. ;)

  • 29 August, 2014
  • 26 August, 2014
  • This is an old photo, but I thought I’d share it because I found it looking through my external hard drive today.
I took it in Florence during Pitti Uomo.  I love the fall outfits of the mannequins, all neutrals and layered coats, a bit equestrian countryside meets city, which reminds me of The Philadelphia Story. The backdrop is a big modern bridge, while you can see in the glass’ reflection the opposite side of the street I’m standing on: a sign that says “Savoy” and if you look hard enough, you can even see the mannequin display.
A lot of modernity and elegance in this photo, with a hint of the old world, and of a gritty industrialism. 
How often do you look at old photos?  Do they inspire you?
    • Camera: Panasonic DMC-LX7
    • Aperture: f/1.4
    • Exposure: 1/60th
    • Focal Length: 4mm

    This is an old photo, but I thought I’d share it because I found it looking through my external hard drive today.

    I took it in Florence during Pitti Uomo.  I love the fall outfits of the mannequins, all neutrals and layered coats, a bit equestrian countryside meets city, which reminds me of The Philadelphia Story. The backdrop is a big modern bridge, while you can see in the glass’ reflection the opposite side of the street I’m standing on: a sign that says “Savoy” and if you look hard enough, you can even see the mannequin display.

    A lot of modernity and elegance in this photo, with a hint of the old world, and of a gritty industrialism. 

    How often do you look at old photos?  Do they inspire you?

  • 25 August, 2014
  • MOODY SKIES

    By the time September comes, I usually welcome the change of light and the cool, dry air that makes mornings in New England unspeakably beautiful.

    When I was at university in Providence, I took a Chinese lyric poetry class and I remember the professor saying that the only 2 places in the world where you can see as many color hues in the leaves during autumn are New England and the Chinese Wudang Mountains.  So basically a photographer’s dream. I’m not complaining.

    But New York City is a little moody lately.  Grey skies and dark light, with hot temperatures and smoky air. In Central Park the trees are still so green that it’s like walking through a jungle. Humidity drips from the leaves and if that iconic view of the San Remo apartments wasn’t there, the murky waters of the rowing pond could be in Belize, or the Amazon.

    It’s nice to have a little respite from the hot sun though. It makes going wool shopping a little easier and I’m really excited to finish up a few chunky knit sweaters. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to be enjoying a glass of rosé at Grand Banks before the summer ends. Rosé on a 142 ft wooden sailboat docked in Hudson River Park? I’m there.

    Photos taken in Soho, Central Park, Tribeca, and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

  • 17 August, 2014
  • WHAT I’M WORKING ON

    Right now I’m designing a permanent collection that will launch in September. Knitwear design is a fast process - a lot of the time you just sketch, measure, and be willing to improvise as you go.  

    Tops, scarves, and hats are central to the collection, which has minimalism at its core and New York City at heart, with all of its contradictions. Blacks and neutrals, loose fitting sweater tops and big scarves…

    This last week I:

    - Designed and made a few spa day face towels in a nice waffle stitch (main photo).

    - Designed and made a loose fitting wool halter that’s super cozy and will be ready for fall.

    - Celebrated the engagement of 2 friends in Brooklyn.

    - Went to an art opening at wix lounge.

    - Was prescribed Anthrax medication for mosquito bites (what?)

    - Made this story about designing knitwear on the new app Steller. I’m really loving it!

    Have a great rest of Sunday!

  • 15 August, 2014
  • 13 August, 2014
  • 12 August, 2014