Obsession Thursday: How to ask for help

The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer

The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer

Hopefully by now, you’ve heard about our Patreon campaign that’s changed Knitty from a struggling ad-only supported magazine to one supported by both advertisers and our readers. We are now able to count on a stable future full of opportunity, as we will be able to pay our staff and contributors fairly! And we’re working on our next goal, which is redesigning and recoding to bring this 2002 magazine visually and functionally up to date with the 2016 (and beyond) internet.

One thing I haven’t talked much about through this process is what got me to a place where I felt brave enough to let people know our current financial state and to ask for their help. This book is what did it. I bought it when it was released last fall and absorbed every word, because I was a fan. And because I liked the message the author was spreading.

Amanda Palmer is an independent musician who’s been in the business longer than Knitty has been around. She spent her early days atop a milk crate as a Living Statue, and transitioned into music as a singer-songwriter on piano and (yes) ukulele, where she’s slowly, steadily built her fan base by being intimately connected to her fans, in person and on the internet. Whether you like her music or not (I happen to love it), the way she conducts herself and her business is inspirational. And when I saw that Amanda had launched a Patreon earlier this year, I realized that perhaps this could work for Knitty, too.

It’s easy to read the title and assume it’s all about asking for help. Just ask, and everyone will give and poof, worries over. Except it’s not like that at all. The book shows, in great detail, that building a community first is a key element to establishing a relationship in which the creator can ask for help and the community will want to provide it. Ravelry proved that point when they asked for our help in categorizing their huge library of patterns and supporting them financially. They had already provided so much to knitters that we were glad to help and as a result, we have a robust, super-useful Ravelry available to us today.

But Knitty was my business, and we all know about the demons that sit on our shoulders and tell us we’re not good enough. (Amanda calls them the Fraud Police.) Sure, asking for help worked for Ravelry, but would it work for Knitty?

As we have seen in just 48 hours, it has worked. 

There’s so much more I can say, but I’ve got Patreon work to do. Read the book. I think you’ll find a lot to think about in there.

Bonus: Knitty’s Patreon Campaign

2015patronbadgeSince March, I’ve been working on a new funding model for Knitty. The backstory is here, but the short version is that advertising-supported businesses have been taking a hit over the last 7 years, and Knitty was no exception. We put out the official call for our readers to help, and HOLY COW, did they ever!

Our Patreon Campaign has only been live for less than 24 hours, but already it has reached its first and most important goal: we can pay the staff and contributors to the just-released brand-new Deep Fall issue at market rates. We are beyond thrilled. There really aren’t words to express the feeling of love we have gotten from the community since we let down our walls and asked for help. Jillian and I have been teary multiple times over the last 24 hours. It’s okay. I’d just stocked up on tissues.

Our next big goal is a redesign and recode of the entire Knitty site, including the back issues, and that takes money too. I’m working out exactly how much we’ll need, and will post it on the Patreon page as soon as I have it. In the meantime, please do help us spread the word to keep the pledges coming. The more people we have contributing, the lighter the load for each, and the more good we can do for the worldwide online knitting community.

Much love,

Jillian’s Spinning: It’s Spinzilla Sign Up Day!

Go, go Spinzilla!

Go, go Spinzilla!

Spinzilla is October 5-11, 2015. It’s a fun, friendly spinning competition that benefits The National Needlework Association’s NeedleArts Mentoring Program that teaches kids needle arts. The cost to join a team is $10 and 100% goes to the mentoring program.

This year there are 67 teams to choose from. Sign ups are today through October 2 on the registration page.

Knitty does not have a team this year, but I am co-captaining the Storey Publishing team with Beth Smith.

Beth and me, always causing trouble.

Beth and me, always causing trouble.

There will be prizes and silliness and mostly spinning! How much do you think you can spin in a week? Join a Spinzilla team and find out!

Jillian’s Spinning: All of the Samples!

Those of you who read me here or on my own blog or have taken a class with me, know I am fond of samples.

I love to sample. The samples can be big or small, quick or time consuming; they expand or contract to answer my questions about spinning and knitting.

The spinning book I’m writing is winding down, I can see the end, really what I can see is the photo shoot. The photo shoot is exciting because it makes the book come alive, but it’s also terrifying because I need samples, a lot of samples.

A quick count of my shot list tells me I have about 200 samples to get ready for the shoot. Many of those are already done thanks to the classes I teach and articles I’ve written, though in that secret ‘what, are you crazy?’ part of my brain I’m thinking about redoing the samples I already have.

Here’s a peek at my sample box so far

Book samples so far....

Book samples so far….


That might be half. I’m still digging through my writing and teaching boxes of samples to find things, still asking talented dyers for fiber to use. As I sit at my wheel every day spinning more samples,  it makes that book seem more real with each yard of yarn.


What big spinning project are you working on?



WWW on knitting drama, history and a hashtag you want to check out!

There can be all kinds of drama in knitting — dropped stitches, dye lots, twisted cables (let’s not even talk about gauge drama).  I’m saddened to report drama at an art installation in Greerton, New Zealand, when someone stole the knitting needles from this lovely display.  Do you really think they got away unnoticed with those needles?  I hope the vandals sit on a 0000 DPN!


Giant knitting needles stolen in New Zealand.



And while we are on the subject of drama, Paul Spinrad offered the Surprising Tumultuous History of Socks which presents a lovely time line of socks and stockings and their roles in history.


Henry, Prince of Wales, wore dashing red stockings. © Robert Peake the Elder, 1610

“I have too much love for my poor people who obtain their bread by the employment of knitting, to give my money to forward an invention that will…make them beggars. ”  The response of Queen Elizabeth I to the invention of the “stocking-frame” which promised machine-knit socks of quality superior to those of any hand-knitter.





Imagine yourself sitting on the lawn in June 1915 knitting in this sweltering ensemble as portrayed in this back issue of  Vogue Magazine. While I knit 24/7/365 here in Oklahoma, some of us can’t bear to look at the needles during the steamy summer months.  What about you?  Do you put down the needles in the heat, swap wool for cotton, or continue all projects regardless of the temperature?



Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 10.28.03 AM

Kiss yarn like it is a person.

If you’re on Twitter, drop everything and follow the hashtag #thingsknittersdo.  You’ll laugh, blush, and relate to the things we all do regularly and often.  You’re welcome.



Jillian’s Spinning: I Took a Class

I love to take spinning classes and I don’t get to do it very often. It seems to be the first thing to go when I’m squeezed for time.

I like listening and watching other teachers explain things and listening to other students’ spinning stories. And like all spinners taking a class I like using someone else’s fiber to practice spinning skills instead of my precious stash!

This past weekend I took an art yarn class with Esther Rogers, a.k.a Jazzturtle and it was fantastic! Esther is a generous teacher with her time, her materials and her brain.

Esther teaching add-ins

Esther teaching add-ins. Yes, she made her top

We had a big class, at least 10 yarns to learn and she made it look and feel easy. She even took the time to show us methods of art yarn fiber prep.

Where is my blending board?

Where is my blending board?

Our classroom was in a barn without a single fan. It’s summertime in Michigan and I think it was at least 86F + humidity where we were spinning. Everyone smiled and laughed and just put their heads down and spun. Every single student tried nearly every yarn, it was a riot of color and texture.

All of the class yarns

All of the class yarns

Here are mine still on the bobbin

My Esther yarns

My Esther yarns

Esther is teaching all over the world (literally) this and next year. If you get a chance to take a class from her, do it, you won’t be disappointed!

Beth and I didn’t teach at the Michigan Fiber Festival, but we still had to all get together and discuss all of the teaching and spinning things. This is how we ended our day.

Happy teachers

Happy teachers

Swinking along!

We’re really enjoying the fresh perspective and inspiration that our “Plays Well Together” column brings, adding crochet into the Knitty mix.

This latest issue’s project, the Swink! is an excellent transitional garment, to help ease us into the approaching change of weather. And a great way to expand your crochet skills.

The designer, Amy O’Neill Houck, writes on her blog about the project, and Kelbourne Woolens is hosting an informal crochet-along. If you’re not a crochet expert, no worries. Amy’s design partner Mim always provides an excellent tutorial to accompany the pattern, and this time it’s all about the key foundation single crochet stitch.

And it’s clear you agree with us that this project is a winner! People are already working on it: PassionFruit‘s project is coming along very well indeed….

Looks great! Nearly there!

A good swatch from Swiftmiss – so much promise with this fantastic colourway. (I do like a good swatch.)

It’s going to be great.

And Cal Patch is a keen participant in the crochet along…

Les Belles Bouclettes Mohair Yarn Giveway

It seems we’re a little giveaway happy these day here on the KnittyBlog. Our advertisers keep offering us lovely things to give to our readers and we can’t say no, it would be rude, really.

Happy mohair goats

Happy mohair goats


Our latest giveaway is from a family owned and operated farm that raises mohair (angora) goats and turns the goat goodies into yarn, roving and soap.

Les Belles Bouclettes is located in eastern Ontario and in a few short seasons has grown from a modest beginning of fibers and soap into a thriving boutique stocking a selection of bath and body care products, ready made garments, accessories and  crafting kits.

You can peek in on the goats and the farm on their blog.



We have a skein of gorgeous white mohair yarn from Les Belles Bouclettes to give away, 400 yards of 3-ply fingering weight yarn, 60% mohair, 20% wool, 20% nylon.

Beautiful 3-ply yarn

Beautiful 3-ply yarn

To win this yarn follow our usual rules. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Tuesday, August 18th, 2015. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the Les Belles Bouclettes yarn. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $24.00

WWW: About cross crafts, stereotypes, teachers, creators, activists, and books.

New things!  New things!  Our Miriam Felton has started a CrossCraftual newsletter, and it’s going to be cool!  Follow her on Twitter, sign up for her newsletter, and take her short survey.  I love exploring embroidery in my knitting, have a lot to learn about crochet, and am always hungry for something pretty.  The goodness possibilities with Mim at the helm blow my mind.


I get very frustrated by broad sweeping generalizations and assumptions.  Seriously. I don’t have any room for this in my life, and I suspect you don’t either.   I know how to knit, write a proper letter, start a fire, change a tire, darn a sock….  DO NOT put me or knitters in a box!  We are taking over the world, remember?


2014-11-06 11.09.45

Look at that smile and that mischievous sparkle in her eyes!  We are pleased to share our beloved Kate Atherley with knitters at Webs at the end of September.  She’s teaching not one, not two, not three, but FOUR classes.  To say the gal has a few tricks up her sleeve is an understatement, and you don’t want to miss her!


When this article popped up a few days ago, I was thrilled to see knitters at their best.   The Yarn Mission is peaceful and proactive, and it speaks to the power of community activism.  Our thoughts are with you, Ferguson.


Continental, throwing, Portuguese, supported, and lever knitting are just a few of the many methods that create the same knit stitch and purl stitch.  I find the traditions of different countries and regions compelling, and  Cowichan knitting from Vancouver Island is no exception.  It is passed down from generation to generation and is beautiful.


Some hard news reached Knitty about the beauty that is Margarit of Morehouse Merino.  A knitting friend eloquently said that Morehouse Merino is her desert island yarn.  Knitty wishes Margarit comfort and peace as she continues her journey.  Thank you Margarit for your generous talents and gifts — well done!

If you love Morehouse Merino, Margarit is offering a summer sale through midnight September 7.


Heads up Star Wars fans — a felted Luke Skywalker!  I was browsing recently, and spied this series of books categorized as Epic Yarns.  An entire series with felted Star Wars characters!  Get your inner geek on and add them to your holiday list!

Happy knitting!


Jillian’s Spinning: PLY Away Classes Are Up!

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.06.08 AM

Pick your classes!

Not since the last SOAR in 2013 has there been such a big all-spinning retreat and spinners are excited. Now the PLY Away classes are up and you can start planning your classes. Registration doesn’t open until November 11, but that gives you time to arrange and rearrange the perfect class schedule.

I’m teaching an all new fractal spinning class, a whole day version of my variegated fibers class  and my batt spinning class. I’m almost sad I’m teaching because there are a whole bunch of classes I want to take, like Beth Smith class: Who’ s the fairest of them all: the official princess breed study, or all of the silk spinning classes.

Fractal fun

Fractal fun!

Are you coming? What classes are you going to take?