Fun!

Now that the weather has taken a turn for the wintery up here in the northern parts of the US and across Canada, enclosing yourself in a yarny cocoon doesn’t seem like such a silly idea.  Fiber artst Bea Camacho shows us how, in an installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. 


Speaking of keeping yourself warm… (a little bit saucy!) (male) Bosnian farmers apparently like to knit themselves cozies for a certain part of their anatomy. Slightly NSFW.


Knitter Suzanne Haggerty and some of her creations.

Love this: a knitter knits her mum’s front garden.


Fun: online t-shirt shop TeeFury has designed a line of sweatshirts with prints inspired by the idea of the “ugly Christmas sweater”. I’m always tickled by printed Fair Isle designs.


Cute!

Speaking of printed Fair Isle designs… Although I’m not the biggest fan of their coffee, I do love the new knitting-themed cup design that Canadian coffee institution Tim Horton’s has rolled out for this winter. (There’s an associated campaign to donate hats to children in need, FYI.) 


The next big thing in mobile gaming?

Well, there’s the rest of the week gone. A new knitting-themed game for iPhone and iPad launches soon: Knituma. Help a bear knit a long scarf. Something about getting the balls of yarn in the basket, and keeping the cats away. Yup, sounds entirely familiar!


Gorgeous!

Speaking of keeping the cats away from your yarn, these wonderful yarn-inspired yarn bowls might help… The result of a collaboration between May Linn Bang, the owner of UK yarn shop Knit With Attitude, and ceramic artist (and knitter) Annette Bugansky, they are both beautiful and clever.

This past weekend I went to a yarn store with a group of knitting friends. It’s what you do when there’s a break in the Cute British Guys and Costumes movie marathon you’re knitting and spinning along with, right?

Just like every winter I fell in love with Malabrigo Rasta, a super bulky (4-5 WPI) merino single. I know you’ve seen it and pet it.

Malabrigo Rasta

Malabrigo Rasta

Usually I convince myself to buy some, even though the spinner in me is gnashing her teeth and stomping her foot, becasue lazy and because it’s right in my hand with it’s squishy goodness. But this year the spinner in me won.

I went home and dug out some gorgeous Merino.

Merino from Fiber Story, colorway Singed.

Merino from Fiber Story, colorway Singed.

I set up my Lendrum with the slow, huge plying head. I poked at piece of Rasta before I spun. It’s 4-5 WPI and a fulled singles. I thought about how I might change it. I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t quite so fat; I’d like to add some more thick and thinness to it – not in a specific pattern, but random. Rasta is pretty dense 90 yards in 5 ounces, I might like it a little loftier, but still fulled.

I spun for an evening, just sampling not stressing. I fluffed and attenuated the fiber just barely to be able to draft quickly.  I spun with the yarn sample in my lap checking it against my singles and I got a variety of yarns.

A few samples

A few samples

The top yarn is a snip of Rasta. The bottom is my first free-style big and airy yarn – too big and too airy. I use ply back samples even when I spin singles. I do lose some twist in the ply back, but I have most of the twist contained and it’s easy. The dark sample in the middle is the right WPI with a little more density and the light sample is the right WPI with even more density, the closest to Rasta.

To get more density (weight, heft) to my yarn I add more fiber per drafting pinch. To get the same WPI in the denser sample as the loftier sample I added more twist.

I spun a small amount of the two samples and looked them over and thought about the fulling process. The loftier sample would shrink in size when fulled maybe even to a worsted weight yarn. I was betting on the denser singles to full to chunky/bulky size.

Homemade Rasta, left and commercial Rasta, right.

Homemade Rasta, left and commercial Rasta, right.

My yarn is not quite as chubby as Rasta , it’s 5-6 WPI, but it’s every bit as squishy and soft. Now I need to spin the rest and knit! What should I make?

Tineola bisselliella. Clothing moths: the scourge of the fiber crafter.

Traditional moth solutions are either horribly toxic or not all that effective.  (Moth balls – bad bad bad.) (Cedar, eucalyptus, weird scented soaps – they might discourage moths taking up residence, but if they’ve already moved in, they’re not going to help all that much.)

These, on the other hand, actually help.

Image borrowed from the Lee Valley Hardware site – these are their version. Others look similar.

Sticky moth traps. They use pheromones to attract the moths. They are totally without scent, and child and pet-safe. (Although they are very very sticky. I managed to get one stuck to the carpet once.)

In Canada, you can get them from Lee Valley Hardware. In the US, the ‘Safer’ brand is readily available.  They need replacing every three months or so, but they’re inexpensive, very easy to use, very safe and very effective.


Haley wrote a truly outstanding post on the Zen of Making blog about dealing with a moth infestation, and prevention.  Go read it.

“Knitting a recursive sweater”. This makes my nerdy heart beat a bit faster: the outline of a computer science paper, brought to our attention by the Improbable Research Blog.


Iranian postage stamp; image courtesy Donna Druchunas.

Knitty columnnist and historian Donna Druchunas has announced volume four of her Stories in Stitches book series. This upcoming volume, “Sacred Stitches”, will look at spiritual and sacred knitting traditions from around the world. As with the previous three volumes, the book contains factual articles, personal essays, and seven beautiful and historically inspired projects.

Preorders are available now, and the book will be ready for download/shipping November 14th.


Helpful.

Helpful.

Speaking of announcements, Knitty lead Tech Editor Kate (that’s me! ;-) ) has announced her upcoming book, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers. More info here. It will be available as an e-book in early December – sign up for the mailing list to receive notification of availability.


Love it! I’ve been very good this year… hint, hint.

Have you watched UK department store John Lewis’s 2014 Christmas ‘advert’ yet? It’s a lovely story of a boy and his penguin friend. And, to make it even better, knit designer Jem Weston was commissioned by the store to design a knit-your-own penguin kit to go along with it. Buy the kit here.


An update on marathon knitter David Babcock: he ran a new personal best time in the recent New York City Marathon, even though the knitting conditions weren’t ideal….


Very touching: a story about notes of comfort and support, delivered with hand-knit socks. Many of those left at home supported the ‘war effort’ during the First World War by knitting socks for the troops; and many of the socks were sent to the troops with hand-written notes of support tucked inside. The State Library of New South Wales in Australia is hosting an exhibition of some of these notes.


I am in love with Pinterest, I spend time there every day. It’s my favorite way to take a break from work, looking at all of the beautiful inspiring things and gathering all of the helpful tutorials and how-tos.

I just searched Spinning, fiber, yarn and there are pages of  how-tos on making and dyeing yarn. There is a drum carder powered by a bicycle:

 

Bicycle powered drum carder from Ecologicalartist

Bicycle powered drum carder from Ecologicalartist

Which led me to the gorgeous textile blog Ecologicalartist.

Another thing I love about Pinterest is all of the connections, finding new things, remembering old things,  following what my friends are obsessing about (go look and see how many pins I have on embroidery), what friends are knitting or dreaming about knitting,  looking at inspiring things or to just rest my mind from a busy day.

I collect ideas for spinning, knitting and stitching projects. There are recipes I’m sure I’m going to make. I have a folder for all of the houses I pretend to live in and one for things that I think are cozy.

 

I’m jillianmoreno on Pinterest and I’ve pinned 8,829 things.

Are you on Pinterest? How do you use it?

It’s no secret: I’m rather a fan of Noro Kureyon.  I’m especially a fan of color #242. I’ve made a hat, a crochet shawl and the Lanesplitter skirt out of this colourway.

It’s my favourite, because it’s all the colours I love and wear: black, grey, green, red, orange. And in classic Noro style, it’s done in a rather unexpected manner, with funky colour changes and blends.

My “crazy Noro lady” outfit.

The minute we published the Undercurrent cardigan pattern, in mid-2011, I knew I had to have one. In colour 242, of course.

The downside to being a knit designer is that you rarely get to knit for yourself. I’m usually working on deadline projects, design projects, projects for books and magazines and other stuff. When I do get to knit for myself, I tend to go for plain socks – the sort of thing I can work on when I’m tired, or waiting for design inspiration, or when I’m in the line-up at the bank. My “me” knitting is usually projects that don’t require any thought or attention, and more to the point, projects that can be easily worked on in stolen moments and can carried around in my purse. Sadly, a sweater doesn’t fit these criteria.

I’d had a bag of Kureyon 242 sitting at the top for my stash for nearly three years, waiting for knitting time I was never going to have. So earlier this year, I arranged a barter deal with a skilled sample knitter I know: she would knit Undercurrent for me, as part of an exchange.

She worked on it over the summer, and returned the (beautifully knit) pieces to me a few weeks ago. I wanted to do the finishing. I’m VERY picky about the finishing.

2014-11-05 10.44.56

Setting in a sleeve requires clippy pins, sock yarn and coffee.

Plus I knew I wanted to make some adjustments to the buttonband.

I washed the pieces, finished up the hood, and then started on the front edging. For this design, it’s done in one piece, along the right front, up and over the edge of the hood, and down the left front.

Now, the thing about knitting this sort of buttonband is that you have to place buttonholes as you’re working. And before I started it, I didn’t really have any idea if I wanted buttonholes – and if I did, I wasn’t sure how many I would want.

I pinned the thing together at the sides so I could try it on, and made some measurements: I also knew I wanted the buttonband to be a bit deeper than called for in the pattern, but I wasn’t sure how deep.

So I knit the buttonband – nice and deep  – without buttonholes. And then when it was the length I wanted, I bound most of it off (on the WS), all the way along to the top of the right front. The side where I would want the buttonholes.

And then! Then! I figured out how many buttonholes I wanted and where.

IMG_3288

Buttonhole positions marked.

And then I made them!

How did I make them, you ask? Crochet hook!

IMG_3290

Magical buttonhole-making tool.

I’d left the stitches of that section live, and so I was able to strategically drop stitches where I wanted buttonholes to be. I dropped them down to the middle of the band, and converted what was a k2 to a (k2tog, yo) to make a hole. And I “ravelled” those two stitches back up.

There is one small drawback to this method – other than it being sort of insane – they’re not the same buttonholes that the designer specified, but they look good to me, and they’ll get the job done.

I’m absolutely thrilled with it. Many, many thanks to Kim without whom this would just be a bag of yarn…

2014-11-06 11.09.45

Just needs buttons now.

20141106_111343

And it’s perfect.

A glorp of Nabaztags (that's the correct term because I just made it up)

A glorp of Nabaztags (that’s the correct term because I just made it up)

This happens a lot nowadays. Something gets invented, people get excited and buy it and for whatever reason, the company that made the thing gives up on it, or goes bankrupt and it’s pretty much a paperweight after that. That happened with Nabaztag, the robotic rabbit that I fell in love with back in 2006ish. Since Nabaztag rabbits relied on a central server to make them do anything at all, white plastic rabbits all over the world just stopped working around 2009. Creepy.

I recently moved into a new apartment and couldn’t bear NOT to bring my dead plastic friend with me. Instead of unpacking boxes one day, I googled. And found that a whole bunch of Nabaztag lovers had started their own server! My robotic bunny has returned from the dead! (Props to Violet, the company that went under, but was kind enough to release the code into the open so that obsessive geeks could make this happen.)

So now, at the top of the page, you see a link to “Send Amy a message”. When you fill out the two fields and click “Send it”, this is what happens:

Want a Nabaztag? Good luck. You might find one on eBay. Or you might want to take the risk on Karotz, the successor (and soon to be unsupported as well) to the Nabaztag. Nothing techy-cool can work forever.

A lovely collection of photos from the Wyoming Stock Dog Association annual sheep dog trials event, held last weekend. Sheep! Sheep dogs! What’s not to love?


A fascinating article on Slate about the challenges of defining colors. How do you describe taupe, anyway?


A step on the journey…

From the Woolmark company, A lovely short film, depicting the journey of merino – from fleece to fashion


Runner David Babcock

What makes me giggle about this story is the idea that running a marathon isn’t enough of a challenge, so a runner felt the need to add a bit more interest… Runner David Babcock of Missouri ran the New York City Marathon this past weekend, while knitting a scarf. He’s not permitted to carry needles while he runs, so he developed a method of finger knitting. The video on the webpage is great… a training run, with knitting. (You know, I think I’d exercise more if I could get some knitting done at the same time… )


The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto has announced a “Warm the Sole” drive to collect socks. The socks will be donated to the local Scott Mission shelter for the homeless. Although their focus in on store-bought socks, perhaps a few pairs of hand-knit socks might make their way into the collection, too?


A beautiful, honest piece about anxiety and how knitting combats it. Yup. Many of us know this well.

I’m just back from teaching in Baltimore at the Intrepid Spinner retreat. What a great bunch of spinners! In my classes we spun fat yarn, spun color, plied and stitched. baltimore collage

The spinners at the retreat were curious and nimble minded. They were happy to take an idea and explore it. We ate brownies and told stories. All of the spinners I taught were new to me, even the three that traveled from Michigan  – we could have traveled together!

I enjoy teaching all of my classes, seeing the light go on in a spinner eyes when something clicks or something I say answers a question they’ve been chewing on for a while. But when I teach color classes I always see something shift in my spinners, they come in hesitant about working or combining colors and leave ready to mix and spin through their whole stash with confidence. At this retreat I debuted my Spinning for Stitching class and it was beyond fun to share my latest spinning obsession with other stitchers.

Last, but not least I got to spend time with two of my favorite people, Jacey and her husband Levi. We strolled and ate our way through Baltimore in between the teaching, talking so much I’m not sure how we remembered to breathe.

This was my last teaching gig for the year and today I’m packing up my samples and putting them away to wait for the spring!

 

 

 

I listened to this book as I drove back and forth and I can’t recommend it enough, an interesting twist on a doomsday story, with engaging characters and great reader.

I’ve been bowled away recently by two knit projects, and I wanted to share them with you. Well, each is actually multiple projects – and they are fantastic, wonderful and so very very creative.


There’s animator Jonathan Royce’s Totums.  The inspiration began long before Jonathan could knit, with some paintings his made of character ideas for animation. The animation project didn’t come to fruition, and the paintings gathered dust. Until Jonathan was taught to knit, and gained access to his partner’s sock yarn leftovers stash…

the latest batch, “in the works”

Jonathan claims that his knitting skills are “pretty basic”. I would beg to differ!

To give you a sense of scale, this little guy is sitting on a hand-held video game controller.

Jonathan makes these little creatures as gifts, and sometimes sells them. He’s thinking of putting up a shop on Etsy, but if you’re in southern Ontario you can often find a few for sale at Epic Books, a bookstore on Locke St. South in Hamilton. You can see them all, and get in touch with Jonathan, on the Totums Facebook page.


And there’s the Kitchener Waterloo’s Uptown Knitmob and their Mobbed with Love project. This particular knit-group has been meeting for years, and they’re very tight.  As you do, when you’re knitters with a mom-to-be in your midst, you knit a blanket.

The One That Started It All.

And there’s another baby….

The second one: and this time it’s strips rather than squares.

And some more – including twins!

And it just keeps going. The group has made an amazing number of collaborative projects -and not just blankets.

They’ve built a website to gather together all the projects, and are updating it regularly with photos of the projects. They’re also providing funny, honest and helpful tips and tricks — “accept that no one measures the same” – for managing these types of collaborative knits. The sense of love and generosity is palpable.

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