WWW: What Should I Knit?; On Variegateds; the Izzy Doll

Football player learns to knit, world marvels. I’ll say this: he has good taste in yarn.

Next up in SpaceCadet’s series on yarn colors: Understanding variegateds.

I’m enjoying this fun Twitter account: “WhatShouldIKnit“: it makes suggestions, random combos of projects and yarns and techniques. Silliness ensues.

Image courtesy The Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian Military is looking to recruit knitters. The Canadian military considers the hand-knit Izzy doll an important part of their kit when they are overseas on peace-keeping missions.

For the past two decades, Canadian soldiers and health care workers have given out more than 1.3 million of the tiny toys to children in worn-torn countries and regions affected by natural disaster.

Organizer and knitter Shirley O’Connell is appealing to the public to make dolls so that they can be given to the thousands of Syrian refugee children who are expected to arrive in Canada by the end of the year.

Want to work in yarn? Ontario-based indigodragonfly is hiring an assistant for their dye studio.

Image from Sweet Paul magazine.

Emergency-festive-decoration-from-bits-of-roving alert.

Jillian’s Spinning: When Seine Twine Is Not Seine Twine – Brake Band Report

This week I spun using what I thought was Seine twine as my brake band and it worked spectacularly! But with a little more digging and picking apart the twine, I discovered it’s 8/4 cotton rug warp not Seine twine. I’ve ordered some Seine twine for my experiments.

Seine Twine is second from the left.

Cotton warp is second from the left.

This 4-ply cotton warp is not mercerized and tightly twisted. It’s also thinner than the chalk line I was using before, the warp is 18 wpi and the chalk line is 14 wpi. The combination of the tighter twist and that it’s unmercerized made it grabby which I liked.

rug warp

rug warp

I was talking to Beth Smith about brake band materials and she said she doesn’t like a grabby material for her brake bands. Hmmmm, why could it work for me and not for her? It could just be a matter of preference, but I thought maybe it had to do with our wheels, more specifically our bobbins.

I’ve been spinning on a Lendrum and Beth has been spinning on a Schacht. I looked at the bobbins and sure enough they are different, their finish is different. The Schacht bobbins are treated with oil only, which soaks all the way into the wood leaving them matte and not slippery. The Lendrum bobbins are varnished all the way down into the groove, making them shiny and slipperier. So it makes complete sense that I would like a brake band that grabs since my bobbin is slipperier than a Schacht. I love figuring things out!

Shiny Lendrum on the left, matte Schacht on the right.

Of course this means I’ll have to try all of the different brake bands on my Schacht too.

What have you figured out in your spinning this week?

WWW: On Color; On Failure and Creativity; Legal Advice for Creatives

A profile of “Knitted Knockers of Canada”, a group making hand-knit cotton prosthetics for breast cancer patients and survivors.

Powerful: a BBC magazine piece about a new exhibition at Mount Ida design college in Massachusetts: “Permission to Fail”. By showing the work that happens before the “aha”, the many rough drafts and failures and incomplete attempts that are required to come to a final product or project, the college aims to examine the process of how creativity happens. Too often, when telling the story of inventions or discoveries or art, we focus only on the final version. Creativity is more about all the attempts that come before the final, and learning and growing through that process.

This connects very nicely with friend-of-Knitty Kim Werker’s “Make it Might Ugly” book. The message is all about getting over your perfectionism, getting over the fear of “not good enough” by deliberately challenging yourself to make something ugly – specifically, to make a failure. After all, if the first attempt is ugly, there’s nowhere to go but up.

!cid_22F0F0E9-8106-4CC2-9BF7-2B8A51600B6E@sohoAmy and Kate will be in NYC this coming January 15-17, teaching at Vogue Knitting Live. Kate’s teaching a slate of sock classes, and a new class: Getting Gauge – in which she aims to demystify the whys and wherefores of gauge: explaining why it matters, when to check it, what to do about it, how to handle it if you can’t match, and when you don’t need to worry about it.  Amy’s teaching her Tuscany lace shawl class, and a fantastically practical short-row bootcamp. Join us!

(And just to tempt you, there’s an earlybird pricing deal on right now!)

From yarn dyer Space Cadet comes this wonderful blog post on color. Specifically, she addresses the frequently-used terms ‘solid’, ‘semi-solid’ and ‘tonal’, explaining what they actually mean, how they are created, and how they work in your knitting.

Not strictly knitting, but very very useful and interesting: an examination of copyright and usage restrictions on sewing patterns. The author, Kiffanie Stahle, is a lawyer, knitter, photographer and creative business owner, and her website and newsletter are full of wonderful resources on legal and business issues for creative types. To quote from her site, Kiffanie is “on a mission to teach creative entrepreneurs that the law doesn’t have to equal scary.” Important stuff.

Jillian’s Spinning: Brake Band Experiment

I’m not a spinner that’s been big into the intricacies of wheel mechanics, but that may be changing. My brake band is driving me crazy.

Right now I’m using my Lendrum and I’m not happy with my brake band. It stretches out quickly and I think it’s just too soft of a cotton to grip well.

So I’ve decided to experiment over the next few weeks. I’ve rounded up several cotton strings and yarns to try out as brake band material. I have cotton chalk line, seine twine, #3 crochet cotton, cotton string and #10 crochet cotton.

cotton chalk

L to R: cotton chalk line, seine twine, #3 crochet cotton, cotton string and #10 crochet cotton

Right now, I’m using cotton chalk line, I like it for a drive band, but not for a brake band, it’s not very twisted in the ply and kind of big for the groove in the bobbin. Seine twine is what rug weavers and tapestry weavers use for warp, it’s tightly twisted cotton and a little finer than the chalk line. I’m trying string that I found at the hardware store because why not? It’s a little finer than the chalk line and seine twine. I know lots of spinners that use crochet cotton; I’m trying two different sizes. It’s mercerized cotton so I expect it to slip some, but it’s really twisted and bonus(!) it comes in colors.

L to R: cotton chalk line, seine twine, #3 crochet cotton, cotton string and #10 crochet cotton

L to R: cotton chalk line, seine twine, #3 crochet cotton, cotton string and #10 crochet cotton

Why am I using only cotton? I like cotton, it holds a tight twist and I don’t think it stretches as quickly as polyester strings. But if I’m not happy with any of the cottons, I’ll move on to trying polyester.

I’ll spin some thin and fat yarns, singles and plied, maybe four ounces with each different string. I can’t wait to see what happens.

What do you use for a brake band?


Did you see that Esther Rogers a.k.a Jazzturtle has a new Craftsy class? It’s all about fiber prep. I’m watching it this week, so far it’s fab!

Jazzturtle preps fiber to spin wild

Jazzturtle preps fiber to spin wild

Don’t forget that the Craftsy links over on the sidebar will get you 50% off of my, Amy’s and Kate’s Craftsy classes.

Knitty Friday: Learning from your Tech Editor; podcasty goodness

We’ve heard this so many times since launching Knitty in 2002: “Please pass on my thanks to (insert Tech Editor’s name here) for her work on my pattern. It’s so much better than when I submitted it, and I’ve learned a lot from the process.”

Backing up, let’s talk a bit about who our designers are. We do have a few established designers, and some that design for a living. But we also have a variety of people of all levels of experience who have designed something great and send it to us to see if we’ll publish it. Our Tech Editors are women (so far — we haven’t had a male Tech Editor yet) with superior skills in math who also understand handknitting and garment creation in a way that the average knitter might never achieve. They’ve gone out of their way to learn how to convey the creation of some 3D object in words alone so clearly that anyone with an appropriate skill level can reproduce it. It’s really a form of technical writing. And it’s a hard craft to master.

Some, usually most, of our Designers embrace the feedback that they get from their Tech Editors. They answer the Editor’s questions promptly and very often learn from those questions themselves. (“What didn’t I convey clearly enough, so that the Editor had to ask about it? How could I have written this better?”) Some, thankfully not many, don’t make the Tech Editor’s job easier. They fight. They’re sure their way was the right way. They feel that the questions being asked by the Editor are challenges to their skill level. Which is kind of silly. Because just as designing is not my primary skill, I would expect lots of Designers to be not much of a Magazine Editor. It’s okay to be really good at designing, and to allow the Tech Editor to be really good at their job. When Designers and Tech Editors work in harmony, all that results is a much better pattern.

The best Designers are ones who learn from the collaboration. And we’re lucky to have had many of those grace our pages.

I was lucky enough to be interviewed for the official Patreon Podcast, and the result is below! The Knitty part starts about 21 minutes in. There’s stuff about how we started, how we work, how Patreon is affecting our future (hint: for the better). Enjoy!

WWW: Remembrance; Wovember; Squam Arts Retreat

Remembrance: Ann Reed, a dedicated crafter and life-long resident of UK town Droitwich has just completed a truly special war memorial. The wall of names is cross-stitched, and the poppies handknit. Beautiful.

A fab BBC radio program about this past October’s Shetland Wool Week. Many friends of Knitty make appearances!

We’re very happy to announce that our own Kate (that’s me!) is teaching again at the Squam Spring Arts Retreat in June 2016. I’m teaching two classes: a sock master class, and a everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-cable-knitting class. The setting is spectacular, and the event like no other. It’s not just knitting and fiber: there are drawing classes and woodworking and sewing and all sorts of fabulous things. It’s a weekend to take yourself out of your usual life, and create new hobbies and habits and friends.

With apologies to Amy and others among us who are allergic to wool…

It’s Wovember! A month-long celebration of wool, just in time for wintery weather in the Northern Hemisphere. The website is full of gorgeous photos and wonderful information about wool – its usage, its origins, the processes to bring it from sheep to our needles. I particularly loved this post by Sue Blacker on the different characteristics of the wool of different breeds of sheep. Get yourself a nice cup of tea and take the time to read it all. Wonderful stuff.

Friend of Knitty, knitter and author Rachael Herron, has launched a Patreon campaign. Rachael is a novelist and essayist, who lives a very common reality: that her creative work isn’t enough to support herself and her family. She also has a day job, working 56 hours a week as a 911 dispatcher at a fire station, in California. In addition to her fabulous novels, Rachael writes clear-headed essays about living the creative life, and that all-too necessary “balance” of bill-paying day job and creative pursuits. She writes about finding time to be creative, about what it’s like to be a Professional Maker (or not), about how to find inspiration, about how to believe in yourself.

The challenge is that writing these essays doesn’t bring in any money, and Rachael is entirely honest about that. She’s seeking a dollar or two from contributors for each essay she writes, to replace lost income from the time she takes to write them. Contributors will get the essays directly from Rachael. This discussion can be a difficult one, and applies to makers and creatives in all sorts of disciplines. I made a contribution: I value her her honesty as much as her writing.

Jillian’s Spinning: Sample Questions

A tableful of swatches

A table full of swatches

When you take a spinning class what kind of swatches do you like to see?

I feel like samples are the backbone of my classes when I teach. I tend to cram a lot of things into my classes  yet want people to spin at their own pace, so I have samples that show what will or might happen when using the techniques we learn in class, in case a spinner doesn’t get there during the class time. I take my samples all the way through the knitting of a swatch because lots of ah-ha moments happen there.

I  like to have some samples that push beyond what we are doing in class, for example if we are doing a color technique with only 2-plys in class, I’ll bring samples that show what happens when you use the same technique with a 3-ply. Is that helpful or confusing?

Sometimes I’ll bring samples from articles I’ve recently had published on similar topics, so my students can see them in person.

I learn so much from looking and touching samples, but I’m wondering when does it get overwhelming?

I’m in the midst of making some new samples for new classes and new samples for old classes and I would love your input. What kinds of samples make a class better? What samples should I just leave at home?

WWW: Mainstream press (not a single mention of Grannies); Gansey-knitter Statue; Garter Stitch as Art

Two contest winners to announce: Jess from Ottawa won the copy of Kate’s Custom Socks book and Carol from Ontario won the FiberWild Shaded Love shawl kit. Thanks to Interweave for the book, and FiberWild for the shawl kit. Enjoy!

A fantastic profile of designer and entrepreneur Amy Herzog, and her Custom Fit software and business.

A piece about the increasing attention being paid in the UK towards local wool, featuring interviews with UK knitters, designers and yarn suppliers. Important.

A New York Times travel writer attends a knitting retreat. She seems a hair befuddled by it, but in the end has a good time.

In another “knitting is good for you” piece, the website LifeHack tells us that knitting makes us warmer and happier. Can’t disagree with that. Particularly the ‘warmer’ bit.

Not strictly knitting, but still wonderful: a feature on the revitalization of small Irish weaving company. Traditional techniques and materials are being used to create blankets, pillows and other home textiles, and they have taken the interior decorating world by storm.

The artist, Steve Carvill, with his work.

Wonderful: A statue of a woman knitting has been installed on the Maritime Trail in UK coastal town Bridlington. The knitter is working on a gansey, the traditional fisherman’s sweater, and honours the town’s long-established and important fishing industry.

The artist and one of her pieces. Image from The Huffington Post Australia.

An interview with Australian artist Jacqueline Fink, who creates large-scale installations from knit fabrics. She talks about the physical challenges of working the pieces, describing her work as a “whole-body workout”. (Oooh… maybe I could cancel that gym membership…) Seriously, though, her work is unexpected and beautiful, allowing you to examine a knit fabric in a completely different way.

Jillian’s Spinning: A New Sheepspot Yarn & An ITW Sale

It’s now deep fall time, I have coziness and holidays on my mind. I also have that fiber nesting need. I already have a stash that rivals Smaug’s hoard, but I can’t quit looking and maybe shopping.

Two things popped up on my need-to-have radar this week. I have yet to commit, neither are quite available yet, but I feel like the plunge is imminent.

Sheepspot Cormo

Sheepspot Cormo

Do you follow Sasha at Sheepspot? She has a new yarn coming and without touching it, I’m am beyond intrigued, like when Clara has a new yarn, intrigued. I am a spinner, but I still buy yarn. Usually I buy small batch yarns or an interesting blend of fibers or a colorway that I can’t walk away from; I still love buying yarn.

This yarn is 3-ply Cormo, woolen prepped and worsted spun. Sasha says it’s happy knitted at 4 stitches to the inch. I can see the lovely squishiness in the photo, perfect for medicinal knitting when the slide into the winter is just too much. Sasha is going to be dyeing 100 skeins, that’s it.

I think it will be available in the next couple of weeks, keeping checking Sheepspot on social media or peek into the shop or sign up for the Sheepspot newsletter for an exact date.


Into the Whirled sale teaser

Into the Whirled sale teaser


Into the Whirled is having a sale, Saturday November 7th starting at 10 am EST.

It’s a big sale. It’s a thank-you-to-our-customers and a we’re-headed-to-the-next-level sale. The demand for Into the Whirled fiber and yarn has been so big that James and Cris have been dyeing in their regular studio (a.k.a their house) and a makeshift studio in a tent in their driveway. They’re moving to a new studio soon and want to share the love and maybe cover a few costs, so they are throwing a sale, the biggest and longest they’ve ever had. You can read all the particulars here and see their tent-dyeing set up.

20% off between November 7th and December 31st, only with the discount code: delilah.

Do not raise your eyebrow at me in judgement for wanting to shop this sale. Do not notice the two Ikea comforter bags I already have of ITW fiber. Winter is coming, it’s time to spin.


What caught your eye this week?

WWW: Danish Knitting TV, Swimming Sheep, ‘Knitters Against Swatches’

Apparently sheep can swim!  It’s an old story, but I hadn’t seen it before.

True: 21 Struggles Every Knitter Faces. #22: reading cute lists on the Internet when I was supposed to be knitting?

The knitters.

Love this! On the Glo: a Kickstarter for a line of handknit accessories. Two things make this project great: the accessories are all worked with reflective yarn – they’re designed as a safety accessory for kids, runners, cyclists, anyone who might be out in the dark. And they’re made by a group of knitters in rural Philippines. These women belong to a traditional community of farmers, whose economy is endangered by foreign commercial competition. You might remember the Ricefield Collective, another knitting-related Kickstarter a few years ago. This project picks up where that left off.

Cards Against Humanity fans rejoice! A group of clever and cheeky knitting enthusiasts have developed a knitting-themed expansion pack: Knitters Against Swatches.

KnitNerdLab Lindsay alerts us to the existence of a knitting-themed reality TV show from Denmark: The Great Knit Off. It may or may not be great TV, as our Danish TV expert reports

but I’m just happy it exists! Apparently, some parts are a bit sweary and possibly NSFW. The full series can be found here.