WWW: A big crochet project, a big restoration project, and big recognition for a big name.

So much greatness in this.

This week is “Not Strictly Knitting But Entirely Awesome”: Man spends six years crocheting a Super Mario blanket. I think what I love most about this is that Norweigan crocheter Kjetil Nordin admits he wasn’t working on it consistently… there were other projects in between. So yes, even the ‘craziest’ crafters have problems with UFOs… in his own words

You get a bit sick of such long lasting projects.

Designer, yarn maker and all-around knitting-industry-good-person Debbie Bliss was recently awarded an MBE by The Queen, ‘for services to Hand Knitting and the Craft Industry’.

(New ambition: I want to establish a Knighthood for services to Technical Editing… I’m sure we can make that a thing, no? ;-))

Ooh! If you’re in the Glasgow area, or can get there, the last weekend of August, you should really consider attending this year’s In The Loop conference. The theme of this year’s event is ‘From Craft to Couture’, exploring the craft origins of Scottish knitwear and its current status as a key element of designer collections worldwide. The 3-day event will feature talks from leading knit and textile researchers and knitwear designers and entrepreneurs.

And it’s not all scholarly: there will be a fashion show and market place, too!

Painstaking restoration work.

Absolutely fascinating and jaw-dropping: an article about conservation of a Victorian-era theatre costume. The garment was partially knit and partially crocheted, all by hand, but the most remarkable feature is the decoration. Those aren’t plastic pailettes: there are over 1000 actual real beetle wings sewn onto the garment.

A team led by conservationist Zenzie Tinker spent over 1300 hours on this garment, worn by Ellen Terry, one of the most celebrated and glamorous actresses of the Victorian age, when she played Lady Macbeth at London’s Lyceum Theatre in 1888. She was painted in the dress by John Singer Sargent. The newly restored piece is on display at Smallhythe Place in Kent, U.K.

I actually think this a fantastic idea, and really wonderful, but the less mature part of me also just wants to have fun making up silly captions for this photo.

You might recall that Knitty published a pattern for charming if not entirely anatomically correct a Womb stuffie… here, we find documentation on what is likely the original knitted uterus pattern, conceived (see what I did there?) as a teaching tool.

Jillian’s Spinning: The Joy of Hitting My Numbers

Purple People Eater Yarn

Purple People Eater Yarn

I spun some gorgeous purple fiber into a worsted weight yarn to knit a snugly shawl. I sampled and kept notes. I paid more than my usual attention when spinning and regularly checked my yarn. Just like I teach in my classes. Guess what? I hit all of my numbers, my yarn matches my samples almost exactly. Win!

I wish I had paid such close attention when I was knitting. I’m writing the pattern and wrote several versions on the same sheet of paper. Can you guess what happened? Math. More exactly, math mistakes. The math mistakes that happen when my eye jumps from one version’s numbers to another.

Reknit with love

Reknit with love

The kind of mistakes that make a crescent shawl into an asymmetrical shawl. I had to rip out an entire 5-hour car ride’s knitting. It’s deadline knitting and couldn’t go into time out. I had to reknit right away. Two steps forward and one step back.

But I have another step forward! I plied my yarn based on this article I wrote for Knittyspin about knitting and ply twist. Since I pick when I knit, I plied my yarn less knowing it would get a little more twist in the knitting. The knitted fabric is exactly what I want.

Twist in the knitting

Twist in the knitting

Now I need to finish knitting, I have a deadline to hit!

What are you working on?

Geek Knits Charity Auction

You saw the cover, yeah? You saw our cover boy? 

Yup, that’s author Neil Gaiman, modelling a scarf designed by Joan of Dark. Joan has just released a book, Geek Knits, and it’s full of fun and geeky knits of all stripes and fandoms, modelled by all sorts of fun characters and people from the ‘geek-iverse’. Yes, that’s right, other nerd-heroes in knitwear. What’s not to love?

Because Joan is a good sort, she has decided to auction off the book samples for the benefit of Doctors Without Borders. The first item, the Blue Box scarf as modeled by actor Rene Auberjonois, is open for bidding until next Wednesday. The items will be auctioned off over the next few months – follow the Facebook group for details.



In memory: Lisa Grossman, The Tsock Tsarina

We were very saddened to hear of the death last week of Lisa Grossman, a.k.a The Tsock Tsarina. Lisa was a knit designer of wonderful and unrivaled imagination. Her particular metier was socks – socks of the craziest and most spectacular types – but she was also gifted in other types of designing, too.

I worked with Lisa twice, editing her beautiful Darrowby cardigan, and the Glomerata sock. Although we were so very very different in working styles, and I am quite certain that Lisa found being edited by me a chore (my insistence on stitch counts and precise instructions is entirely counter to her pattern writing method), she was cheerful throughout the process and we nevertheless bonded. It was Lisa who insist I buy a spindle, at Rhinebeck.

Lisa’s patterns were special. They were sculptural. They were art.

Her work first came to my attention when Stephanie, the Yarnharlot, was making one of her designs.  I laughed at Stephanie’s description of the madness, and laughed when I saw the pictures, but stopped laughing when I realized the work that had gone into the design. Yes, she made with the crazy; yes, she made with the insanely ornate and sculptural; yes, she made with flights of fancy like I had never seen before. But she also made them fit. We had many discussions about sock fit, and I loved the she paid attention to that detail, too.

But she wasn’t just a knitter. She was a spinner, she was a literary historian, she was a cookbook author.

Cancer is cruel. Cancer is heartbreaking. Cancer has robbed the world of a good person and a great imagination. And the knitting world is decided duller without Lisa and her flights of fancy.

WWW: Yarn in video games, knitted short film, GoogleSheepView

She’s coming undone?

Courtesy of BoingBoing, a history of yarn in video games, on the occasion of Electronic Arts’ announcement of its latest game, Unravel. In the words of BoingBoing’s writer, “you play as a tiny yarn character that slowly unravels as it moves through the level. Although that sounds a little like a metaphor for the slow but inexorable march that we are all taking towards death, in Unravel this thread is a versatile tool you can be use as a climbing rope, grappling hook, trampoline, fishing line, and whatever else the game can imagine.”

WOAH. Greg Climer, a fashion designer and faculty member at Parsons School of Design in NYC, is knitting a short film. Yes, every single frame of an animated short film is a knit fabric. He’s got 19 seconds already done, and is hard at work on the rest. He’s not actually hand-knitting it – that would take years and years, at 24 frames a second – but he’s designed it and he’s working with a knitting factory to produce the actual fabric.

Love the creative thinking that has gone into this – of course you can draw pictures with a knit fabric, so this is a natural (if slightly crazy) extension of that.

Well, this is what I’ll be wearing this winter: a Torus Knot cowl. Knitter and mathematician Sarah-Marie Belcastro has been at it again, and her latest design is this beautiful and witty and clever little piece of topology – and gorgeous winter accessory.  This post on the Scientific American blog explains the mathematics and the knitting very nicely.

Sheep on North Yorkshire Moors. Image courtesy Google and GoogleSheepView.

And if you need something a little less ‘thinky’, soothe yourself with GoogleSheepView… a tumblr of images of sheep found on Google Street View. Some fantastic ‘found’ art.


I don’t know that this will make it to GoogleSheepView, but it’s just as relevant:  Not far away from where that above picture was taken, a group of knitters in Baildon in the UK spent World Wide Knit in Public day yarnbombing a sheep statue.

Jillian’s Spinning: My New Batt Spinning Video!

Right before I taught at Yarn Fest this year, I taped two spinning videos for Interweave.

The first one is all about spinning batts. Personally, I love to spin batts. I love all the variations I can get in the texture of the yarn and how many tricks I can get the colors to do with striped batts.

I showed up at Interweave with a suitcase full of samples, maybe 40 different yarns, plus batts in various stages of prep and spin. I think I freaked them out a little. I didn’t end up using them all, but I couldn’t stop making them.

This video is about different ways to spin four different kinds of batts: solid, layered, striped and wild. What happens when they’re spun woolen or worsted, how to make them smooth or fluffy. For the layered and striped batts, how to get them to look tweedy or striped and how to control the length of the stripes. Wild batts confuse some spinners, I spin them a couple of ways. I either spin them so they are as wild as they can be, emphasizing all of the goodness or I spin them a little more demurely, hinting at the wildness. And of course there are lots more spinning ideas. I could have stayed in the studio with my samples and my wheel for days, but they only wanted an hour-ish long video, so I had to leave.

Here are some photos form the set:

My hands are always moving!

My hands are always moving!

The video shoot was a lot of fun, Interweave made it as stress free as possible. I even bought a new top to wear for the shoot, so I felt extra happy.

The video is called 12 (Plus!) Ways to Spin Batts

My new video!

My new video!

The download is available now and the DVD is available tomorrow. If you get it, let me know what you think! Also let me know if you like my new top.


WWW: Wooly grocery bags, Self-publishing, on Icelandic knitting language

Love these! Yes, it seems like all grocery stores offer reusable bags for sale, but only Waitrose is offering a wooly one. There are two styles, and they are available at two of the central London locations of this upscale supermarket in the UK. They’re made with the wool of the rare-breed Whiteface Dartmoor sheep, one of the UK’s oldest indigenous breeds. Gorgeous and practical.

Really enjoying this blog series about designing and publishing, from gifted designer Kate Davies. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. She writes about the whys and wherefores, and the challenges and rewards of deciding to self-publish, as an independent designer, and highlights some who are self-publishing.

An absolutely fascinating article about the evolution of the Icelandic language, and how a knitting-language committee is helping the language adapt and evolve to meet new needs and technologies and usages. It’s as much about globalization and history as it is about finding the right word for the cable cast on.

Interesting thinking on the overuse of the word “craft” in today’s marketplace, from UK furniture maker Gareth Neal.

It’s World Wide Knit in Public Day on Saturday. Ready?

Knit photo frames! Clever and adorable! The page is in French, but the picture is fairly self-explanatory.

Jillian’s Spinning: A Field Trip with Historical Spinning

I went with my son and his class on their last elementary school field trip (they grow up so fast, sniff) to Greenfield Village, here in Michigan.  Greenfield Village is part of The Henry Food museum and is an open air museum, with a working farm, historic buildings like Henry Ford’s Model T workshop, Thomas Edison’s lab and  craft workshops.

It’s been years since I’ve visited Greenfield Village and I saw fiber everywhere. I held my tongue mostly and did not speechify to the 5th graders on every piece of fiber equipment I saw. But I did explain how this carder worked.

Carding Mill, this would fit nicely in my garage.

Carding Mill, this would fit nicely in my garage.

I snuck off from the kids to look at the silk reeler

Silk Reeler

Silk Reeler

In one of the farm houses we visited there was a beautiful walking wheel, I only got a shot of part of it.

Great wheel, notice the ingenious use of a corncob.

Great wheel, notice the ingenious use of a corncob.

In the same farmhouse there were baskets of naturally dyed yarns.

Thank you, I'll take that yarn.

Thank you, I’ll take that yarn.

My son tried really hard not to roll his eyes every time I ooohed and ahhhed over every single piece of fiber equipment  we came accross, but I could see it and , of course, it just made me comment more. Aren’t we supposed to embarrass our children? Especially in the name of fiber?

WWW: Great London Yarn Crawl; Crocheted Playground; World Wide Knit in Public

This is amazing. Seriously. Lisa P‘s version of my Bigger on the Inside Shawl. She used a wonderful variegated yarn for the lace portion, and then added her own lower edging… the Fourth Doctor’s scarf.

I bow down to your cleverness and fandom.

Today in Not Strictly Knitting: A Canadian couple, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam and Charles MacAdam of Nova Scotia, has created a crocheted playground. The installation of hand-crocheted hanging nets is one of a series of playgrounds they’ve created. This version, called Harmonic Motion, is open for viewing and climbing upon at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.

It’s June! That means it’s time to start knitting outside! This year’s World Wide Knit in Public Day is Saturday June 13th, and look for events near you at the website.

Our own Amy will be joining the team at Shall We Knit in Waterloo for their annual World Wide Knit in Public celebration that weekend. She’s also teaching a couple of her popular and fun classes. More info here.

A little further along in the year, but still close enough to start planning, the Great London Yarn Crawl has announced a bigger and better event for their third year. In addition to the crawl, Saturday September 5th, there will be a pop-up marketplace at Chelsea Old Town Hall in central London, serving as the kick-off point for the Yarn Crawl and featuring over 30 indie makers, designers and artisans from London and around the UK. And stay tuned for news of special guests…

Friend of Knitty designer Kristen Jancuk talks sense on the topic of swatching.

Image courtesy the artists. Black walnut frame, black walnut carving, silk, linen, merino wool hand dyed.

Love this: a mini-film series of six interviews with makers from the Canadian maritimes who work in different media. In particular, I adored Fibre & Wood, a look into the work of couple Sanna Rahola and Douglas Drdul. Sanna is a fibre artist and Douglas is a woodcarver, and although they work independently, their pieces come together as beautiful collisions and contrasts of texture, light and structure.

Roadtrip?! Simply Socks Yarn Company is celebrating their tenth anniversary this month, with a whole load of festivities and sales and special events at their store location in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Jillian’s Spinning: Keeping Track with Tags

I am newly in love with these big honking tags:

Shipping tags are my friend

Shipping tags are my new friend

They are about 4″x 2″ and manilla folder thick. I’ve seen other people use them, but never have myself until recently.  I realized I can fit a whole lot of yarn info and yarn on a single tag.


So much information

So much information

Here’s what I have listed on it so far: Fiber info, WPI single / finished yarn, YPP, TPI for plied yarn finished/unfinished, my wheel and her settings. The yarns on the tag are singles (I plan on making this spot an inch next time), a ply back sample and two plied samples unfinished and finished.

This is just a first pass as I’m working on a project. There is so much space for so many statistics!

How do you keep track of spinning and yarn information for a project and where do you keep it?