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.

Jillian’s Spinning: Getting Through a Big Spinning Project

It’s Fall and the spinning is easy. I want to spin all of the time and knit simultaneously these days. I’m finishing my samples for my book’s photo shoot which is this week. I have more to do than I thought because while I have a lot of teaching samples, some of them are a little worse for wear after traveling around the country and being petted while I teach, so I have a few respins to do. I am resisting the urge to spin a new sample for every single photo in the book, it’s hard but I am doing my best to be strong.

I am spinning up to four hours a day along with my regular computer work and have come up with some strategies to keep my body happy. I thought I’d share them and maybe you’ll find them useful, especially with Spinzilla coming up.

  1. Get up and move – this one is hard for me because part of my brain screams, ‘you are away from your wheel, get back and keep spinning’, but if I go for a walk in the morning and get up regularly, every 45 minutes or so when I spin, I can actually spin longer and more consistently.
  2. Stretch – I stretch my hands, arms, back and shoulders before and after a big spin. When I feel especially stiff, I have a back and shoulders yoga dvd I use. Stretching keeps all of my spinning muscles unkinked.
  3. Switch it up – I change the types of yarn I spin and the wheel I use regularly. My positioning and movements are all a little different for each yarn and wheel and that cuts down on repetitive motion soreness. My most favorite change to my spinning routine is to spin standing up at a wheel. Lately, I spend half of my spinning time spinning with my Hansen miniSpinner on a bar stool. That alone keeps me spinning for more time than just sitting to spin.
Bar stool spinning! The pretty blue fiber is cjkohoDesigns merino in the Castiel colorway.

Bar stool spinning! The pretty blue fiber is cjkohoDesigns merino in the Castiel colorway.

What tips do you have for spinning for hours at a time?



One hesitates to choose favourites in an issue, but I must confess I do think I have one for our latest issue…

These are great.

I love a good fingerless mitten, and I love a good cable, and Resonator wins in both categories! I adore  the seamless transitions between the ribbing and the cable pattern – a lovely detail which makes all the difference. 18

The designer, Cynthia, writes on her blog about the process of being published by Knitty. She’s very polite about being put through the wringer by a demanding tech editor (me!)… Actually, her pattern was in great shape, but every pattern usually needs a few tweaks to conform to our stylesheet, and to have the charts put into our format.

As she hints in the post, one of the changes I demanded, demandingly, is more than one size. Sizing is one of the things that’s important to us at Knitty – even amongst the editorial team, there are many shapes and sizes, and we like to be as inclusive with sizing as possible. Even for something like mittens, we like to be able to appeal to as many knitters (and wearers) as possible.

Cynthia has kindly provided some additional charts, for the thumb gusset. You can download them from her blog.

WWW: Cast off Chemo; Largest Knitted Doll? Keeping brains fit

The best of causes.

Coming up in October, Cast off Chemo is holding an online auction through EBay to raise funds for a clinical trial for a cancer treatment that doesn’t involve chemotherapy.  Big guns like Skacel, Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts, Berroco and more have donated items towards the auction.  This is your chance to enhance your stash, get some cool products like Denise Interchangeable or HiyaHiya needles, yarn totes, crochet sets and many others.

“We are grateful to have such generous sponsors and contributors from the craft industry,” said Susan Sullivan, Auction Coordinator.  “All the funds raised will go to the goal of raising $1 million for a clinical trial that could make a huge difference for those with breast cancer and other cancers.”

In addition to the online auction, there are currently patterns available on Ravelry. Over 50 knit and crochet patterns are already available for $5 each, with all proceeds going to the cause.  New patterns are uploaded weekly, often daily.

Keep your eyes open for the auction coming up October 2-11, 2015 on EBay.  For a great listing of additional ways you can help, check out the How-To-Help section on the Cast Off Chemo site.

Love it!

Over in New Zealand, a woman originally from Zimbabwe, has created a doll that stands just under 10 feet tall.  Faustinah Ndlovu created the doll to raise funds for the primary school in her home village.  The doll is knit in one piece, stuffed with over 180 pillows and weighing close to 200 pounds; the clearly strong and clever knitter  is waiting for confirmation from Guinness if she has the largest knitted doll.

Something we all already knew, according Cardiff University in the UK, knitting and other yarn crafts can “activate areas of the brain that are good for generating a sense of calm, (and contribute to) improved emotional processing and better decision making.

Keeping the hands and the brain cells active.

Following up on this research, Neural Knitworks began holding knit-ins for broad selection of communities, including students, university staff and scientists.  Expert guests hold seminars while participants create neurons out of yarn.

“Yarn craft, with its mental challenges, social connection and mindfulness, helps keep brains fit by solving creative and mental challenges, developing eye-hand coordination and fine motor dexterity and increasing attention span”.

Jillian’s Spinning: My New DVD – 12 Ways to Spin Handpainted Top!


My new DVD!

My new DVD!



My DVD 12 Ways to Spin Handpainted Top is available now! I filmed this last April when I was in Colorado for Yarn Fest. That week was a crazy blur of fun, I filmed two DVDs and taught a whole host of classes.

If you feel stuck spinning your handpainted fiber the same way every time, this DVD might nudge you to try something a little different. I show ways  to keep colors the same, ways to mix up a single braid and ways to combine braids. I show how to prepare the top, how to spin it and what it looks like as yarn and as a knitted swatch. This DVD is based on a favorite class of mine to teach and it almost always sells out when I offer it.



Interweave is also offering my DVD as part of a spinning kit. The kit includes the DVD and 4 ounces of handpainted top, dyed by the wonderful Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia Yarns. We collaborated to make a colorway exclusive to this kit based on the work of Sonia Delaunay. Felicia sent me a braid of the fiber to play with and it is exactly what I imagined, vibrant and exciting.

Delaunay spun flipped

Delaunay spun flipped

I spun the fiber as a flipped 2-ply. I divided it in two vertically and spun one ply from the top end and one ply from the bottom end. I like how it mixes the colors.

If you do decide to check out my DVD, let me know what you think and what you make!