This week I sampled yarn for Kirsten Kapur’s beautiful Saranac Shawl.

Saranac shawl

Saranac shawl

First I spun all three fibers and plied them on themselves, 2-ply. The fiber is all from my stash dyed by Woolgatherings.

 

All three colors plied on themselves.

All three colors plied on themselves. Colors (L to R) 1, 2 and 3.

Then I combined colors while drafting and made a 2-ply.

First colors 1 and 2:

color 1+2 yarn

Colors 1 and 2

Then colors 1 and 3:

Colors 1 and 3

Colors 1 and 3

Colors 2 and 3:

Colors 2 and 3

Colors 2 and 3

And, of course, all three colors draft together:

All 3 colors

All 3 colors

I don’t much like any of the colors by themselves for this project. Of all of the combined colorways, I think I like colors 2 and 3 together. Well, what do you think? Do any of these yarns speak to you? Next week I’ll be knitting swatches and picking the colors for the shawl.

 

Happy Camper Fiber Retreat - all color

Happy Camper Fiber Retreat – September 19-21

 

 

Does all of this color-talk and sample get your spinning motor running? This is exactly what we’re going to do at this year’s Happy Camper Fiber Retreat - all color, all weekend!

Dyeing, carding and spinning color. Combining colors and creating your own colors. Three days in the Michigan woods with Beth Smith, Rita Petteys and me. There will be shopping, silliness and prizes. And spinning, lots of spinning. Won’t you come play?

We loved it from the minute we first saw it.

Lots of knitters have been appreciating Mary-Anne Mace’s beautiful Regenerate Shawl in our Spring & Summer issue.

In the introduction to the pattern, Mary-Anne told a story about her experiences with the earthquake in her home town of Christchurch, New Zealand.

This beautiful design was inspired by the regeneration of nature in the fact of such terrible destruction. In a recent post on her blog, Mary-Anne shows us pictures of the city in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, and in later months as the regeneration began. The pictures are heartbreaking and beautiful.

Nature regenerates; hope amid the destruction.

In addition, because Mary-Anne is a helpful designer, she’s created some supplemental charts to help knitters with the project.  There are rows that have large numbers of knit stitches, and Mary-Anne has annotated the charts with stitch counts. The link is at the bottom of the post.

 

 

 

A prize-winning knitter.

Love this: the winner of the first and second prizes for ‘most outstanding knitted garments’ at the Hamilton Show in Southern Tasmania is 89-year-old Edna Jordan. The fact that she’s legally blind? A minor detail. Edna has been knitting for 80 years; losing her sight ten years ago hasn’t stopped her: she relies on touch and memory to keep her needles busy.


Fantastic.

Wow. Just wow. Stunning. A group of knitters that calls themselves ‘Friends of John Grooms Court’ from Norwich, UK, have unveiled their latest art project – a 10-feet tall, six-sided pergola which boasts a wooden framework covered with knitted squares and hundreds of colourful flowers, leaves and wildlife. The display is made up of more than 10,000 items, contributed by knitters both local and distant; the group received contributions from all over the UK, and knitters in Canada and Italy participated. Perhaps the most precious contribution came from a 104-year-old knitter. The slideshow is wonderful.


A knitted boyfriend – warm and comforting, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

We’ve written about artist Noortje de Keijzer’s “knitted boyfriend” project before, but I was very amused to see the hand-wringing from this NY Post writer, who seems to be taking them seriously. Journalist Andrea Peyser declares them “creepy”, totally missing  the artist’s point about the simple comforts we seek (and get) from our partners.


Traditional cuteness!

We know it’s machine-knit, but we’re thinking that this adorable picture of little Prince George in his cardi will kick off a trend amongst new mothers and those knitting for them. How could it not?


So great.

I enjoy all yarn-bombing, but I love it best of all when it’s contextual and witty. A group called The Ilfracombe Knitting Bombers has claimed responsibility for a pair of legwarmers that appeared on a Damien Hirst statue in North Devon, UK, for April Fool’s Day.


Yaaaaaaay!!!!!!

Did you know that  there was a “Muppets” knitting book published in the 1980s? If I ever see this in a second-hand book shop, I’m buying it!

 

Gorgeous handspun shawl, Saranac

Gorgeous handspun shawl, Saranac

Kirsten Kapur released a beautiful new shawl pattern last week,  Saranac  that she designed for handspun yarn. I love the edging, different stitches and swoopy angles. I want to spin and knit this, it suits my spinning and knitting brain exactly right now. It is lovely and perfectly transitional. Plus I have a very long car ride coming up – Michigan to Florida for a diving competition. All things that make this shawl point to WIN.

Saranac, not handspun, but still beautiful.

Saranac, not handspun, but beautiful.

The first order of business is to stash dive. I came up with this mass of Woolgatherings fiber.

And narrowed it down to these three:

My three finalists

My three finalists

I’m going to spin them singly and combine them in various ways while drafting. I’ll be back next week with the results.

What are you sampling for this week?

 

The calendar says it’s Spring, but where I am Winter is fighting the change. Our friends at Bagsmith have a great solution for this still chilly weather – a chunky capelet

This wooly capelet is made from chunky merino and silk yarn and merino and silk felt. Knit on size US17 needles, it works up magically fast. Bagsmith is including the yarn, felt, pattern and even the needles in this giveaway. Want to win a cozy capelet kit? You know what to do!

Regular contest rules: leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Sunday,  April 6th. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the kit from Bagsmith and Knitty. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance. The value of this kit is $130US

 

Not strictly knitting, but absolutely fascinating: a history of pockets in clothing on the V&A website. Who doesn’t love a pocket?


If it gets muggles excited about knitting, I’m all for it!

A whole book on arm knitting, eh? Yes, really!


Happy-making: a pub in Edinburgh prides itself on community-minded events like knitting nights and dog-owners nights. If they combine them, Dexter and I will be there like a shot!


An important part of the story of the war.

On the Craftivism blog, a great round-up of links and stories about knitting and its role in WWII. I particularly like the little poem that goes with the appeal for 150,000 pairs of socks…


A nice profile of a knitter who uses the craft as a creative outlet, and as “a balm for the soul”. I like the quote: “I see it is a negative space activity where, if my brain is fried from doing something strenuous, I can sit down and do this.” Perhaps not elegantly put, but I agree with the sentiment – knitting can help you rest your brain. The knitter in question is male, so the usual threads about gender expectations are explored… I wonder if the journalist would have felt this story was worth telling if the knitter had been female?

I like to see all positive coverage of knitting, but the gender stereotyping wears after a while… This article in the Seattle Times speaks to the frustration many male knitters feel about these stereotypes. I love this quote from knitter Chuck Wilmesher, of Skacel Collection: “Get over it and try it and who cares what anybody thinks. I wish there was some way to make men know that it is not a woman’s sport.”

I’m still spinning bouclé. This time I used  sunset colored tussah silk as my looping ply. I consciously tried different ways to make the loops and got a variety of results. Even though I haven’t yet grasped the mechanics of those perfect loopy loops I like this yarn, maybe even more than a perfectly looped yarn. Next stop for the  bouclé train – more yardage. I think I’m going to hunt some more mohair for the loops, since that is the classic fiber of bouclé.

Boulclé with tussah loops

Bouclé with tussah loops

My other project this week was to get my handspun sweater out of Time Out. I put it in the naughty corner when I tried something new for increases and it made a big mess. A big mess that I ignored despite the clanging bells of warning in my head. I didn’t rip until I was almost halfway done with the sweater.

My two takeaways from this lesson are:

  1. Rip with abandon, if you can’t rip, a knitting friend will help you. Thank you Beth and Carla.
  2. Knit back with pleasure. I took my daughter to see Divergent and happily knit and increased during the movie. I wrote an increase cheat sheet on my hand to keep track in the almost dark.
Sweater rebirth, tidier increases and increase cheat sheet.

Sweater rebirth, tidier increases and increase cheat sheet.

What’s on your spinning mind this week?

Did you know there is crochet in Knitty now?

Amy O’Neill Houck and Miriam Felton  are long time friends. Amy is a crocheter who knits and Mim is a knitter who crochets. They approached Amy and I at TNNA last June and said, “What do you think about crochet in Knitty?” Specifically they were excited about how knitting and crochet work together and about getting knitters to crochet. New to and excited about crochet, Amy jumped at the idea. The column Plays Well Together was born.

I have tried to crochet and it’s never clicked. Not clicked in the way where you push yourself to find out more. But, since the time the first Plays Well Together column was published in Deep Fall Knitty, where Amy and Mim showed just how nicely knit and crochet play together in a hat pattern, and this current issue, I have become a hooker.

I am a noob in the very sense of the word, I have more questions than skill. And most of the time I feel like I have 20 fingers all doing the wrong thing. I started with a lesson from Denny. I learned to chain, single crochet, double crochet and triple crochet. This issue’s Plays Well Together column is about those first steps in crochet. Here are my first little bits.

My first bits of crochet. Edges are hard.

My first bits of crochet. Edges are hard.

I’ve kept at it practicing those three stitches, asking people, looking at books, taking a Craftsy class with Cal Patch. I’m going about this casually, building one thing on another. I made the crocheter’s version of a garter stitch scarf, a double crochet scarf. It was as boring as a garter stitch scarf, but I really have the hang of double crochet now. Plus my teenage daughter instantly stole it for her winter wardrobe.

Double crochet scarf. Edges are still hard.

Double crochet scarf. Edges are still hard.

I’m looking forward to learning new crochet things. I’m dabbling in Granny Squares now. I still need to learn how to read a crochet pattern and what all of the symbols mean, before I branch out further.  I know that information and a lot more is coming up in future Plays Well Together columns. I can’t wait to actually make something to wear other than a double crochet scarf!

I think this is one of my favourite parts about working with Knitty: getting to see all the WIPs and FOs. So beautiful! So inspiring! I love seeing how knitters interpret a design with their own color choices, their own styling.

A few lovely things from our recently-released Spring & Summer issue….


Our knitters love an interesting new way to knit socks, and String Theory fits the bill very nicely.

I love the yarn that Evee chose for her version. The variegation works brilliantly with the patterning.

And these, Kalliongimma‘s project… The self-striping Regia works just brilliantly! Go look at the project on Rav – there are even more great pictures.

There’s a number of Sweet Tantalate projects underway. This white silk one from MaryBethLogue is particularly lovely.

The color of Speck‘s Sunday Sunrise is fantastic. So very springy and cheerful.

And in the same color range, Marsdenmoocher‘s Kali vest is just the best.
And I can’t wait to see sophyting’s Anthi finished… she reports starting it the very day the issue came out.

And this is a very promising start at Octopodes from luarn. Perfect color choice.

And I love the color choice for JorunKnits’ Rosarian. Can’t wait to see this develop!

The winner of our Lace Contest is Karen from Bangor, Pennsylvania. Thanks to Brooke Niko and Lark Crafts, Hiya Hiya, and Black Bunny Fibers for the generous prize.


Just wonderful.

Last week I mentioned the campaign in Cambridge to collect knitting to decorate the town for the UK stages of the Tour De France this summer. The Guardian has a lovely piece about the enormously successful campaign in Harrogate, Yorkshire, that kicked off the entire thing. Last summer, the Harrogate town council invited members of the public to send in hand-knitted mini replicas of cycling jerseys. The mini jerseys will be strung up as bunting around the town to celebrate the arrival of the Tour De France. They have received over 22,000, “rather more than anticipated”, with contributions from Switzerland, Canada and Bermuda.


How good is this?

On the Spoonflower blog, fantastic knitted wallpaper, in the studio of the Brooklyn Craft Company.


The spring fiber festivals are starting up… first up is this weekend’s Dallas Forth Worth Fiber Festival, being held at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.

The Carolina Fiber Fest is held April 4-6 in Sandford, North Carolina.

That same weekend, it’s YarnCon, describing itself as Chicago’s Indie Fiber Fair.

April 10-13 is the Shepherd’s Extravanganza at the Washington State Fairgrounds.

Toronto’s Downtown Knit Collective annual Knitter’s Frolic takes place the weekend of April 26 & 27th. (And I’m teaching!)

As always, check the calendar on the Knitter’s Review website for a more detailed listing of fibery events.


Speaking of shepherds and sheepy festivals, the shepherd of the wonderful twitter account @herdyshepherd1 has kicked off an indiegogo campaign to secure funding to support the historic Borrowdale Sheep Show.

In their own words

Borrowdale Show is one of the traditional sheep shows and shepherds meets that take place each autumn in the Lake District, in the North of England. It is a gathering of shepherds and their best sheep, half competitive, showing to prove the worth of their flocks, and half a social occasion and cultural event. It is a scene to behold with more than 250 Herdwick sheep judged in one day, coloured with the traditional Herdwick Show Red and shown with great pride by their shepherds.

The show is run entirely by volunteers from the local community. But they have experienced several years of awful luck with the weather and have now limited cash reserves to pay for insurance and other necessities, and because of this the future of this timeless show is in the balance.

The campaign, launched last week, has done much better than expected, and has more than met its goal. I’m writing about it because I think it’s a truly wonderful initiative, and I want to publicize the event and thank those who were kind enough to contribute.

Image from the @HerdyShepherd1 twitter account, with thanks.

And whether you contribute or not, whether you want to attend a sheep show or not, if you’re not aware of the Twitter account, go take a look. The photos of sheep, and the farm, and the sheep dogs (#teamfloss) are magnificent. I’ve also learned a lot from their tweets, about sheep, about sheepdogs, about the challenges of joys of running a farm.


A nice piece on CNN about the cognitive and emotional benefits of knitting to relieve stress, to bring joy, and to fight depression and the effects of aging. Not news to most of us, I’m sure, but it’s always good to see mention in the press. (Especially those without the usual “not your grandmother” tropes.)

The article reports that in one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling “very happy.”

Not that we needed any justification for our craft, but it’s great to know that it really is good for us.



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