Jillian’s Spinning: Spinzilla, How’d You Do?

2015 Spinzilla

2015 Spinzilla

My yardage this year was modest, under a pound and 1,521 yards. I wanted to do more but life just wasn’t having it! I had travel, a sick kid, a migraine, you know, life. But I was happy every single time I sat down at my wheel, and I squeezed in an afternoon spinning with friends. Those two things alone made Spinzilla a win for me.

How did you do and what did you learn?

Jill Draper’s Studio Shindig at Rhinebeck!

Rhinebeck is this week!!! Are you done with your sweater?

The years that I am lucky enough to go to Rhinebeck one of my first stops is always Jennie the Potter’s booth that she shares with Jill Draper.

I have many mugs by Jennie in my cabinet, they are even a unit of measure in my house, “How much chocolate milk do you want?” “Jennie the Potter size!”.

I have lots of smaller skeins of Jill Draper’s yarns, I love it. As a knitter, as a spinner, her yarns are so well done, from the initial fiber, to the spin and ply, to the gorgeous colors. I have been circling those huge skeins of Empire for a couple of years now, but have yet to buy one.

If you are looking for Jennie this year at Rhinebeck she’ll be in the same spot as usual and this year her booth guest star is Kim of Indigo Dragonfly for excellent shopping.

Where is Jill Draper you might ask? She now has her own studio across the river from Rhinebeck, and she’s having a party!

Jill Draper is having a party!

Jill Draper is having a party!

Everyone is invited, but she does ask that you RSVP, so she know what to expect.

She’ll have refreshments and lots of yarn, including the elusive huge skeins of Empire and Rifton, her new yarn for 2015.



Rifton was released originally in January. This Autumn Jill’s added Spring & Summer to the existing colors, Autumn & Winter.  She says it feels great to have each season represented & she’s thrilled to share the new colors which will be available online at www.jilldraper.com on 10/17 for anyone not able to make it to the open studio.  Rifton is 600yds of smooshy soft Merino wool, weighing in just over 6oz so plenty for a shawl! Jill dyes the fiber in the wool before having the yarn spun for her at Green Mountain Spinnery in VT.

So go visit Jill, buy some yarn, but don’t buy all of the Empire, I might need some.

Wooly love!

Wooly love!


Cirriform Sweater

The weather is getting chilly here in Toronto, and I’m starting to think about warmer clothes. I don’t know about you, but I go through this funny transitional stage in my wardrobe: I need warming layers, but I’m not yet ready to put my favourite t-shirts away; I’m not willing to move to full pullovers and winter clothes. A cuddly wrap-style cardigan is just the thing for this time of year: it doesn’t feel heavy, but provides a bit of warmth as the days get shorter. I can wear it over those favourite t-shirts, to help me gradually make the emotional and sartorial transition between seasons. It’s also great for this time of year when the days are still bright and warm, but the evenings are noticeably colder.

Emma Welford’s Cirriform cardi is an excellent example of the sort of thing I love: it’s cuddly and wrappy and light and lacy and lovely. It will look great over end-of-summer outfits, and make you warm without feeling heavy or wintery.

The designer writes about the cardigan on her blog. She provides some guidance on working the pattern, on choosing a size, and on choosing a yarn. The yarn was sadly discontinued after Emma completed her sample, but it was such a lovely design that we wanted to publish it anyway. She offers up some helpful information so that you get something that provides exactly the cuddly and warming effect you’re looking for.








WWW: Knitting for others; sweaty knitting; new yarn shop opening in Toronto


We all love the craft or we wouldn’t still be doing it. But what to do with those bits and baubles, the left over pieces after the project is done?

How about knitting for your pets? If you don’t have any animals of your how, try your local animal shelter. Make a sweater, make a blanket, bedding or toy, something that makes use of those bits and makes an abandoned or mistreated animal warm and loved.

The Big Knitathon, sponsored by the Big Issue Foundation, is now in its fourth year. The Big Issue Foundation is a UK organization dedicated to raising funds and support for the homeless.  They’re asking knitters worldwide to dig out their yarn and get sponsored for your marathon knitting session in November. Knit a scarf, a hat, a pair of mitts and help keep people warm this winter.

If you’re interested in contributing to another community knitting project, consider knitting for Bletchley. The organizers of the public exhibition at this important historical site are seeking 1940s-style winter accessories to ‘dress’ the exhibit for winter. The huts where the codebreakers worked were famously cold, and woolies were an important part of the gear.

Let’s talk about multitasking here: Meredith Parmalee intends to knit while running the New York Marathon.  Her training runs focused not only on the running aspect, but the knitting aspect: she started with finger knitting, and eventually built up to carrying actual needles while she ran. Interestingly, she reports that knitting along has helped her set a steady pace… “with the knitting I can gauge my speed and energy a bit better and settle into a comfortable rhythm“. Although she admits that anything she works on while she trains gets a bit sweaty…

It’s always great to hear about a new yarn shop opening: tonight is the inaugural Stitch Night at the new Yarns Untangled, in Kensington Market, in downtown Toronto. The address and some of the faces at the shop might be familiar…

Speaking of yarn shops we know and love, here’s an excellent profile of Shall We Knit, of Waterloo, Canada, and teacher Lynne Sosnowski.

Jillian’s Spinning: On Your Mark, Get Set, Spinzilla!

Here I am spinning in Chicago with Amy, transfixed by the documentary  Iris. I didn’t get much done the first day of Spinzilla, because of  driving to Chicago and an emergency.  Amy took this photo minutes before she got the phone call about sad things. I’ll be doing more spinning and talking to Amy over the next few days.

Spinzilla, day 1

Spinzilla, day 1


Here is my delicious pile of Spinzilla fiber, just waiting for me to spin faster.

Tempting me from my work!

Tempting me from my work!


How are you doing with your Spinzilla spinning?

Fiber Wild! Shaded Love Shawl Give Away!

The clever folks at Fiber Wild! put together designer Lorna Miser with the beautiful Serenity Silk Single yarn from Zen Yarn Garden and magic happened. She created two lovely shawls called Shaded Love, one knit and one crochet and Fiber Wild is having a Make- Along.

Shaded Love, crochet and knit.

Shaded Love, crochet and knit.

The Shaded Love Make-Along starts October 8th. You can find all of the information about these exclusive patterns and the exclusive Zen Yarn Garden colorways, on the Fiber Wild! website.

Shaded Love

Shaded Love

Fiber Wild! has given us a kit for a prize for a lucky reader!  The winner even gets to choose their favorite color.

Our usual rules apply: Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Tuesday, October 6, 2015. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win a Shaded Love Shawl kit. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters and crocheters a chance. Giveaway value $78.00

WWW: Helping Syrian refugees; your 2016 calendar?; 2015 events

Laura’s donations.

Sometimes calls for charity knitting present challenges: they well-meaning but misguided, initiated by those at a remove from the situation. In this case, a call has come directly from someone involved in a difficult situation, and it’s provides a very meaningful way for knitters to help out.

Friend of Knitty, designer Laura Nelkin, has a very active Ravelry group. One of her participants, Andrea, is a doctor working in a public health office near Munich, Germany. Her office has been inundated with work because of the arrival of so many Syrian refugees: her town alone is expecting over 1,000 men, women and children. Many of them will be living in tents.

To quote from Laura’s blog post:

One of Andrea’s concerns is that the winter months are coming and many of these refugees are not properly prepared for the cold. So, I am hoping some of you can take a little time out from your knitting projects and make them some warm items. They don’t need to be fancy, but they do need to be functional and bright!

Andrea has offered to be a “hub” for us to help get the woolens to those in need. Since she is on the front line of this situation and dealing with it daily, I feel sure that our items will be appreciated and used.

Read more about this initiative on Laura’s blog.

Charming and ever so slightly saucy, in a woolly sort of way: order your own copy of the Nudiknits 2016 calendar. Featuring lovely full-color pictures of designer’s trademark clever designs, gentle innuendo and visual puns, it’s guaranteed to raise a smile. Click here for an example of what to expect. There’s also a YouTube channel, of utterly wonderful and quite ridiculous knitted animations.

Another smart well to help out a good cause:  Yarn store Shabby Motley (what a great name!) in Sault Ste Marie, Canada, held their first annual Knit-A-Thon with proceeds heading directly to the local soup kitchen. The event, organized by Tiffany Baxter, began promptly at 11am and continued for 24 hours. Occasional breaks for Pilates and Tai Chi were sprinkled throughout the event alongside the raffle draws and games to keep everyone going.
“We had so many people interested that we had to close the sign up. We can only facilitate so many people for a 24-hour period; it’s been overwhelming.
People unable to attend the knit-a-thon helped instead with gifts of food and knitted hats, mitts and scarves and “We have received lots of donations from local businesses,” Baxter said.

What a fun way to help out a deserving causing!

The hall at Yarndale – gorgeous and welcoming! Image courtesy Yarndale/Elizabeth.

It’s knitting season, so there are all sorts of wonderful events and activities and gatherings for the yarny-types. Last weekend, Yarndale was held, in Skipton, Yorkshire.

This weekend alone there’s Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago  (Amy will be there!) and KnitCity in Vancouver (Kate will be there!). The following weekend is The Knitting and Stitching Show in London UK, and the weekend after that it’s the Creativ Festival in Toronto, the Woodstock Fleece Festival in Woodstock, Ontario, The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival (a.ka. Rhinebeck), and the only one I get my husband interested in, the Bakewell Wool Gathering in Derbyshire (he loves Bakewell tarts).  If you’re looking for an event, remember that Clara Parkes maintains a list on the Knitter’s Review website.


Jillian’s Spinning: Is the Earliest-Born Person Caught on Film a Spinner?

It’s very possible that the earliest-born person caught on film is a spinner. In 1905, Yanaki and Milton Manaki filmed their 114 year old grandmother spinning (though the article says weaving!). Despina Manaki’s 1791 birth year can’t be verified but, the previous woman thought to be the earliest born person caught on film was born in 1804, so there is a good chance that Despina is our woman.

I think it goes to show that spinning is one of the keys to a longer, happier life!


Did you see that Jacey Boggs just released a new spinning class through Craftsy? Spinning Art Yarns just came out yesterday, get it while it’s hot!

New Jacey Boggs class!

New Jacey Boggs class!


On Serendipia

Tanya Seaman, designer of the beautiful and very clever Serendipia shawl pattern, tells us about her inspiration and design process….

I’m honored to have Knitty select Serendipia, one of my latest designs, for its Deep Fall 2015 edition! It’s my first magazine-published pattern! I am pretty excited about this design, and especially pleased to have my hard work recognized in this way. The elements of this design have been in the works for a couple of years.

Up until a few years ago, I had been knitting up some pretty basic sample pieces with Done Roving Yarns’ vibrant space-dyed yarns when the owner, Paula Farrar, asked me if I’d ever knit lace. I hadn’t, but I was curious – and I was up for a challenge. I fell in love with lace almost immediately, and it’s mostly what I knit nowadays. Because of my association with Done Roving, though, I was seeing all of these beautiful color combinations and wondering how I – now a lace enthusiast and not a sock-maker – was going to use them to great effect. And I don’t mean, just use them as if they were solid-colored, but make the most of what they are, to highlight their beauty. I looked around at what others were doing but didn’t see anything to grab on to. So I did my usual and made up something.

I love stripes, and I especially love bending them in some way. So, I was also interested in exploring a bent-stripe pattern, and used stitch-maps.com to see what it might look like. I had entered about half of the pattern and by accident hit the “Go for it” button, which generated a visual representation of my stitch pattern. It duplicated the pattern vertically, and – wow, this was an incredible look.

¡Serendipia, por cierto! [Serendipity, for sure!]

At some point my desire to bend stripes and use self-striping yarn merged into this new design. It took some patience and time to turn this into a knittable piece that would lie flat, as in reality, the peaks and valleys are much steeper than in this image. The first swatches show the colors pooling and striping, and for Serendipia I decided to focus on the striping version. (If you like pooling, please check out my Infinite Pools pattern, just published on Ravelry.)

To keep the stripes and color patterning flowing uninterrupted, I worked out how to put the decreases on the back side of the fabric. I created a video (another fun first!) to help knitters replicate this stitch.

To showcase to best effect the many specialty hand-dyed (and even machine-dyed) yarns, this pattern is intended to be customized. To make this easy, I created an interactive Excel file that spits out the customized pattern and charts.

WWW: Oldest Yarnbomber, Sheep on the Street in Toronto, E-course on History of Knitting & Spinning

104-year old Street Artist.

Regardless where you stand on the art of Yarn Bombing, I do believe that this one warrants an extra peek.

Grace Brett could very well be the oldest living Yarn Bomber at 104 years young. Her team, The “Stormers” took their time in planning this event that took over their town in Scotland, with knitted and crocheted artwork.

Her 74-year-old daughter, Daphnie, said that the yarn-bombing gives Grace a purpose and that her mother finds it humorous to be labeled a ‘street artist’.

This September’s Third Annual Great London Yarn Crawl, organized by Yarn in the City, raised over £1300 for the UK charity Refuge. In addition to the funds raised, they collected close to 150 hand knit items to donate through Knit for Peace.

Hey! I know her!

This year’s event was the largest yet with 120 crawlers, 15 volunteer guides and 11 shops participating.

Yarn in the City was begun by Allison Thistlewood and Rachel Brown in 2013 and is a variety of yarn-centric events that bring people together to share their love of the craft.

What a great way to gather with your fellow yarn crafters and have a great time all while raising money for a deserving charity!

Sheep on the street, in front of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Although the Campaign for Wool has been running internationally for some time, here in Canada it’s only in its second year.

It was launched September of 2014 in Canada by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and this year events are being are held in Montreal, Toronto and Calgary with the proceeds going to benefit the Prince’s Canadian Charitable work. The Campaign for Wool currently runs in 12 difference countries worldwide.

The goal of the campaign is to educate as many people as possible about the benefits, sustainability and versatility of wool: we’re listening!

If you are near Toronto, check out the pop-up shop on Bloor located at Holt Renfrew featuring products made with Canadian Wool as well as featuring the Prince’s own Highgrove line of carpets.

Related: Friday October 9th is “Woolly Hat Day” in the U.K. That’s a made-up holiday I can entirely support celebrating! The Campaign for Wool site is offering free hat pattern downloads. You know, just in case you can’t find something you fancy over at Knitty.

Very excited about this: Designer, author, anthropologist and teacher Heather Marano (also known as The Merry Spinster) is offering an online course on the archaeology, mythology and evolution of spinning, weaving and knitting across cultures. When did humans first start spinning, weaving, knitting or crocheting? Did you know that nearly every culture has a myth and even a goddess associated with the fiber arts? This e-course aims to answer all these questions and more.

Class takes place in a private password protected chat room on the website, and there is a private discussion group on Facebook for the class as well. Begins Saturday, October 3rd, and registration is $19.99.