We’re rather fond of Laura Nelkin’s Gusto cowl pattern from our latest issue.

One of the things we love about it is that it’s a fantastic way to use up sock yarn leftovers. (We know you’ve got some lying around. It’s ok, no need to be ashamed. All sock knitters have leftovers.)

Laura’s design uses a homemade Magic Ball composed of sock yarn leftovers to create a fantastic one-of-a-kind stash-reducing knit. If you’re not familiar with these wonderful things, she’s kindly provided a tutorial for us.

Title Card for BlogOnce you’ve discovered the Magic Ball technique, we figure you’ll get totally hooked, and so we’ve arranged a giveaway: a signup for Laura’s Design Your Own Cowl Craftsy class. Take the yarn you’ve just made and indulge your own creative impulses! And because we love you and her, we’re also giving you a copy of her new book, too. One lucky reader will win both prizes.

The usual rules apply. Leave a comment on this post by midnight EST Wednesday October 22nd. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the yarn and the book. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance.

Thanks to Craftsy for the class, to Potter Craft for the book, and as always, to Laura.

I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with designing for magic ball knitting lately and decided it was time to make a tutorial to show the magic knot I use for joining skeins.

Step 1: Choose Your Yarn!  I decided to play with my LYS’s excellent “stash” of Knitted Witt Gumballs for this tutorial. I choose enough to knit another Gusto as I can’t really get enough of that pattern! You can join together yarns in stash (see note below), or have a base yarn and join bits of color throughout it (like I did for Magmatic Boom).  This is where you get to be CREATIVE! Then begin to wind your yarn.

1skeins 2winding

Step 2: Lay down the two ends you want to join with the tails going in opposite directions.

Step 3: Take one end and go underneath the other end to the opposite side.


Step 4: Then bring that end back over and lay it across itself.

Step 5: Then take that end and go inside the loop you have created to make a overhand knot.

Step 6: Pull tight.


Step 7: Repeat with other tail.


Step 8:  Holding onto the working yarn, start to pull in opposite directions.


Step 9:  Keep pulling, the two knots will slide together.


Step 10: Pull all the way tight!


Step 11: Trim the ends VERY close to the knot, sharp scissors help!

Step 12: Test your knot by yanking on it HARD! If you do not follow these steps exactly the knot will pop apart and it’s better to find that out now than while you are knitting!


Jane Richmond has an excellent video that shows this knot, which is how I learned about it.  Thanks Jane!

I want to make a note that this knot is not perfect for every yarn and you should definitely test it with your yarn before you commit to it. I’ve heard that it doesn’t work well with single ply yarn, yarns with high silk content, and cellulose based fibers (like cotton, rayon and tencel).  You can put a bit of Fray Check on the knot, which will make it hold… but just do a test first to be sure, sometimes it can change the color and hand of your fiber.  Your other choice for joining the ends is to use a Russian Join, which will work on wool fibers but not the other fibers listed above.

A wonderful story on NPR highlighting the efforts of US fashion houses Alabama Chanin and Billy Reid to bring back the cotton and clothing manufacturing industry in the southern US. Alabama Chanin, a fashion and lifestyle company founded by a local entrepreneur, is well known for its beautiful made-to-order hand-made garments, inspired by the surroundings and history of Alabama. If you’re not familiar with their work, I highly recommend spending a few minutes on their website, oogling their beautiful clothing.

knitbritishheaderThe KnitBritish blog always has terrific stuff, and I particularly enjoyed this photo blog of a recent tour of Jamieson’s Spinning Mill.

Come on! Knit me a mouse! You know you can’t resist my cuteness!

London’s famed Battersea Animal Shelter has launched a new knitting club – touted as “the world’s first interspecies knitting club“, crafters are encouraged to knit toys and blankets for animals in the home, or for their own pets.

WOW. Just wow. An all-cashmere cabled wedding dress. Irish fashion designer Don O’Neill showed the dress at a recent show for New York Fashion week. Part of a bridal collection for 2015, it was the talk of the show. The designer says of his piece, “it is so soft and luxurious, it feels other-worldly.” I can imagine! Just go look.

Also wow: UK artist Jessica Dance creates knitted sculptures. Her Full English breakfast is absolutely incredible. Although I have to say I’m rather fond of the calculator…

A high school student in Washington State is selling hand-knits to raise money for her University tuition. Megan Yerton says that her favorite subject is math… I see a bright future for her!

The spinning fates smiled on me this past week (plus I left my house extra messy) because I hit my Spinzilla goal – one pound spun!

Spinzilla yarn

Spinzilla yarn

It feels good to hit a spinning goal and it reminds me once again how much I can spin if I just sit down and do it. I can’t wait to knit that big skein of 2-ply into something huge and scarf-ish for the cold to come. How did you do on your Spinzilla goals?

Are you going to Rhinebeck? I’m not this year, but I want to hear about what you are going to do and what you’re going to buy. Let me live vicariously through you.

I’ve loved Opus The Octopus from the first moment I saw the pattern, and Spiral420′s project is exactly how mine would look if I’d had a chance to cast on… a Noro-underbelly!

The Brindled hat is a Woolly Wormhead classic – wearable and classic but with a nice stylistic twist. I love indigonightowl’s color choice for her project.


The Krydda sweater is a winner – elegant and beautiful and quick to knit. Nephele has chosen a wonderful color, and it’s coming along well. Can’t wait to see it grow!


Twist Again is a terrific shawl – super for handspun, but just as good in commercial yarn, too. A not-too-challenging but entirely beautiful project. Ando has chosen a perfect color of handspun alpaca for hers…


The Nachfalter fingerless mitts are exactly what you need as the seasons change – fast and fun and warming without feeling too wintery.

Katdriver‘s third pair are green, and she’s already working on a fourth… oh, to be on her holiday gift list!

And Gusto is another must-knit early fall accessory – not just because the result is beautiful… Look at Sonnydays‘ project

 but also because of the fun in making your own “magic ball” from sock yarn leftovers.

I adore how Sherinik’s Apiculturist crochet/knit combo scarf is coming along… the photo shows the difference in the motifs before and after blocking. (Yes, blocking *is* important!)

This coming Friday, October 10th is I Love Yarn Day. (Who’s kidding who, really? Every day is I Love Yarn Day in my house, but it’s nice to be able to take that message to the broader world…)

Check out the Facebook group for events happening near you… Activities are planned for the entire weekend, in fact. Lorna’s Laces is planning a flashmob in Chicago. Saturday October 11, 2014 at noon in Millennium Park, join the Lorna’s team for yarn and prizes and maybe even yarn prizes…

Courtesy of the National Film Board, a late-period short Buster Keaton film… he crosses Canada by train, knitting along the way. It’s also entirely charming for the footage of Canada in the mid 1960s.

Love this: an overview of knitting fashions and trends from the 1940s.

Those would be very useful come December, I think…

Tammy DeSanto has created a line of “Giants” – super-large knitting needles for super-large yarn, and super-quick knitting. She’s a finalist in this year’s Martha Stewart American Made Awards. Learn more about the needles and giant crochet hooks here.

(I actually think they’d look rather nice mounted on my living room wall, in the style of crossed swords… )

North American craft chain Michaels has just launched a new line of exclusive yarns, in a collaboration with designer Isaac Mizrahi. Bringing a bit of glamor to the Michaels’ yarn aisle…

In which a knitter learns an important lesson about valuing her work.

Not sure I really understand it, but the heading of this article made me laugh… “3D-Knitted Onesie Doubles as Air Purifier“.

This year I’m participating in Spinzilla on Team PLY.  If you don’t know what Spinzilla is you can check out all the information on the website. It’s basically a friendly contest where teams of spinners compete to see who can spin the most yardage in a week of spinning. It’s put on by The National Needlearts Association’s Spinning and Weaving group to raise awareness of spinning and to help fund a fiberarts mentoring program.

There are people who spin 8 or more hours a day and have goals they relate in miles and multiple pounds! I am not one of those spinners. I had lots of lofty goals at first then I quickly came to my senses as I looked at my work deadlines and the family calendar. My goals are modest and I vow not to beat myself up if I don’t meet them, because this is supposed to be fun. I’m trying to spin a pound of fiber.

Have a look at the fiber I pulled from my stash to choose from. Every time I look at my pile of gorgeous fluff, I want to spin it all instantly!

Spinzilla Fiber

Spinzilla Fiber

From the bottom left corner, going clockwise I have: Spunky Eclectic Targhee in Vulpes Vulpes, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Merino/Yak in Jasper, Sweet Georgia BFL in Ultra Violet, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL in Rocktober and Spunky Eclectic Polwarth in Forest of Pies. That pile is 3 pounds 6 ounces of fiber, lots of variety to choose from. I have many things on the DVR and queued on Netflix, I am excited to spin.

Ready? Go!


Are you spinning for Spinzilla?

We loved them the minute we saw them…

Yvonne Feng, the designer of this issue’s Nachtfalter fingerless mitten pattern, is a first time Knitty contributor. Indeed, this is her first design published anywhere!

She tells us about her experience…

A Budding Designer’s First Submission

Submitting my first pattern to Knitty (and first knitting submission anywhere) was nerve wracking. Is the design too simple? Too complex? Are there many mistakes? Will others find the design worth knitting? Having these questions was a situation I had never expected just a couple of years after randomly buying needles, yarn, and a beginner’s knitting book while stuck for a few hours in Hamburg, Germany.

Yvonne’s designing desk…

I could never knit a pattern without adding alterations and flairs of my own – a section of cable, a stitch pattern, a concept for construction can inspire a project at any point of the day. When a good friend of mine, an experienced designer, suggested that I write some of my ideas up as proper patterns, I jumped at the challenge.

Although I have followed many patterns, I was unclear on basic terminology, formatting and charting. How do I write instructions so that another knitter can reproduce what I have done? How do I take decent photographs of a knitted work? What is tech-editing or testing? Over the past year, with the support of my knitting circle and the internet, I learned how to transform a concept from my needles into a pattern on paper. I loved sketching the designs and doing the arithmetic but was terrible at keeping track of abbreviations and explaining tricky parts of the construction.

Then it came time to send that pattern into the world. Hitting that final point-of-no-return submit button was the toughest part for me​.

Then Knitty emailed me – my pattern was accepted!

 The editor did the heavy lifting to get the pattern ready — they streamlined the text, fixed all of the mistakes and rendered the chart in professional software. It was so cool to watch the Word and Excel documents transform into the sleek online publication that I have seen for years.

In the last weeks, I have begun to see projects of my Knitty design pop up on Ravelry. Knitters are putting their own spins on the pattern and observing this has been thrilling. I am hooked!

The lucky winner of the Laura Nelkin book giveaway is Meg from East Lansing, Michigan. Congrats Meg, we know you’ll love the book!

“Knitting needn’t be expensive” – a nice piece on the Guardian Fashion blog highlighting British wools.

This is a follow-up to a piece on the same blog last week that discussed the Fashion and Textile Museum’s vintage knitwear exhibition. The article made an important point: “knitting wool is no longer the cheaper option”. It is entirely true that at one time, handmade garments were associated with saving money. And it’s also true that you can always find and buy a machine-made garment cheaper than hand-made. But it’s also true wool doesn’t have to be expensive. (Or scratchy or horrible… )

A great discussion to have!

2014-09-29 11.11.12Earlier this week, I was very pleased to see a nice display of woollies in the window of a Canadian clothing chain, Joe Fresh, with a Campaign for Wool sign.

Speaking of the Campaign for Wool, Wool Week is marked this year in the UK October 5th to 12th. Events and festivities are being held all over the UK.

Registration is open for January’s Vogue Knitting Live event in NYC. Kate is teaching – come and take a sock class!

  • DPNs, Magic Loop and 2 Circs: Working in the Round bootcamp
  • Going My Way: Work Socks the Way You want
  • Heels and Toes
  • Introduction to Sock Pattern Design
  • Toe Up Socks 101
  • Socks for Absolute Beginners

If you’re in Southern Ontario, plan a visit to Toronto’s Textile Museum, Tuesday October 14th. Our own Amy will be moderating a panel and book launch event, featuring three books by leading voices in the crafting world: Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles by Leanne Prain, Craftivism by Betsy Greer, and Make it Mighty Ugly by Kim Werker.
The event – “Make Your Voice Heard: The Intersection of Craft, Creativity and Activism” – aims to explore the modern uses and meaning of craft. It promises to be fascinating.

Spinning designer Jennifer Leigh wrote a great week long blog series on her pattern Viburnum.

Viburnum modeled by Cat Bordhi.

Viburnum modeled by Cat Bordhi.

She traces the pattern from the kernel of an idea all the way through publication. I especially enjoyed the posts on the making of  her lace version, the support spindle spinning, the plying and and excellent tutorial and video on using her beading tool.

Lace Viburnum in progress.

Lace Viburnum in progress.


Are you one of the people who has a plan for Spinzilla or are you like me and still casting about for ideas? It starts on Monday and I better do some sampling this weekend so I can bust out the yardage next week for Team PLY! What are you spinning for Spinzilla?

Ply to Knit: Spin the Yarn You Really Want

Have you enrolled in my Craftsy class? Have you watched any of it? I’d love to hear what you think! If you haven’t and want to here’s a link for $5 off the price of the class. Come on, ply with me!

Need more spinning inspiration? Amy King has a great Foundations of Spinning class and Felicia Lo has a class on Spinning Dyed Fibers.

Aretha Covers Adele’s Rolling in the Deep.  Listen and just try not to sing along.


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