WWW: A Sweater of Historical Significance; Algorithms; Pussy(c)hat

A modern example of the sweater. Image courtesy the Kickshaw Productions blog.

A modern example of the sweater. Image courtesy the Kickshaw Productions blog.

The history of an iconic Canadian sweater – the Cowichan, cribbed by Mary Maxim for their curling (or tractor or hockey or other icons of the time) sweaters. In 2011, the Cowichan sweater was designated by the Government of Canada as being of “national and historical significance”.


Fascinating and clever: In Finland, young children are taught the basics of working with a computer – without a computer. Knitting needles are pressed into service, as part of an overall approach to teaching algorithmic thinking and processing. One could equally say that you’re teaching knitting when teaching programming, as the instructions are indeed expressed (or if the pattern is written in a logical manner) as an algorithm.


There has been much chat around the internet – including on this blog – and in yarn stores about the phenomenon that is the Pink Hat. Many many thousands of hats have been worn and made – including by Kate and Jillian of this very blog! Much of the discussion has been around what the hat represents politically. There have been discussions about what the hat represents physically, too; not a few have been confused by the shape. No matter what side of the debate(s) you’re on, an online discussion panel to be held this Saturday is sure to be of interest. Hosted by PomPom magazine this coming Saturday, the chat will be recorded live and then archived for later viewing. The participants come from a variety of craft and activism-related backgrounds.


Models at the Missoni runway show. Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images.

Models at the Missoni runway show. Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images.

And further underscoring the message of the hats – and its longevity – all attendees at the recent Missoni runway show at Milan Fashion Week were given their own pink hat, and more than 40 models on the runway were outfitted with them.  It’s a fantastic sight!


Equally fantastic: I’m in the UK at the moment, on a mini-teaching tour. I visited the V&A museum, as I always do, and was bowled over to see a hat and its story on display. They have a “Rapid Response” collection, which aims to gather and document items of current social significance. Whether you agree with the hats and their message or not, I think you can’t help but agree that they are an item of significance.

A pink hat. In the ‘Rapid Response’ collection here at the V&A. Verklempt. We did something important, guys.

A post shared by Kate Atherley (@kateatherleyknits) on

Spiral or Boucle?

Spiral yarns

Spiral yarns

When I teach my Further Adventures in Plying: Texture and Color class the class usually divides their love between two yarns. We cover four yarns in this class Crepe, Cable, Spiral and Boucle, but one of two yarns usually steal the hearts of my students – Spiral or Boucle. In this class we work on the structure of making the yarns first using a natural or a solid colored fiber, then in the afternoon we add in layers of color, variegated fibers and sparklies while practicing getting the structure just right.

 

Boucle yarns

Boucle yarns

 

I just taught this class at the  Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat in Tacoma and everyone had the love for boucle. I’m teaching it next at Yarn Fest in Colorado (there’s still room in the class if you’d like to join us), which yarn will be the winner this time?

Which is your favorite? What do want to know about spinning these yarns?

Save

Obsession Thursday: The knitting ecosystem

It’s like this:

Knitters consume yarn (hallelujah for yarn!).

Yarn is created by mills (both big and small), and dyed commercially or by independent artisans, for knitters to consume. At the same time, other fabulous things that knitters love, like stitch markers, needles, bags, inventive accessories and other things we don’t even know about yet are created by other entrepreneurs and established businesses.

Designers, whether professional or amateur, established or brand new, create patterns that allow knitters to use yarn and the goods that go with it, in order to create exciting handknitted items that would not otherwise exist.

Magazines (like Knitty) and books offer patterns and instruction to help knitters find the next thing they want to knit, and to knit it with less stress and frustration. When a project is bound off (and often before!), the cycle starts over and over again.

It’s the knitting ecosystem, and Knitty is very proud to be a part of it.

Thanks to our Patrons, Knitty continues to be a financially viable company who can pay its staff and contributors properly. And because we now are able to, we’re reaching out to help another branch of the knitting ecosystem by cutting ad prices for the first time in our history. This means more companies and creators have access to our readership for less money. Our ad prices now start at $60/issue.

Since sharing fiber-related products and services with our readership is a big part of why we exist, we’re thrilled to be able to do this. Would you help us spread the word? Just tell someone (or even someoneS) you know who might be interested in advertising with Knitty about our low rates. Send them to this page for all the details.

Thank you for being part of the knitting ecosystem. We send our gratitude and love.

WWW: Long Voyages, Celebrity Knitters, 13th Century Mitten

Image taken from the article, with full credit.

Image taken from the article, with full credit.

Amazing: a study of a 13th-century fabric fragment, believed to be part of a knit mitten – colourwork, no less!

It is rare for fabrics of this age to survive, and so this is particularly notable.


As seen in a 1938 issue of Photoplay magazine, Joan Crawford hosted regular knitting parties! (Staged knitting photoshoots remain the same, 80 years later…)


We knew that actor Krysten Ritter (of Jessica Jones fame) is a knitter, but we didn’t know she was a designer as well! She’s launched a kit for a gorgeous chunky cowl.


Williams Gansey Project leaders Astrid Adams and Janice Snowball pictured with Clive Grey, skipper of the Blyth Tall Ships project.

Williams Gansey Project leaders Astrid Adams and Janice Snowball pictured with Clive Grey, skipper of the Blyth Tall Ships project.

Historians are planning a rather remarkable sea voyage for 2019, and are seeking knitters to help. The voyage, from Blyth in north-eastern England to Antarctica (!), is to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the voyage of local resident William Smith who discovered the continent, but was never credited. The team undertaking the trip seek to do it in conditions as close as possible to the original: they’re travelling in a tall ship, and are planning to wear traditional gansey sweaters, which is why they need knitters. Funds have been secured, and the team is looking to have between 70 and 90 sweaters made.


Speaking of long voyages (not really!) our own Kate is spending three weeks in the UK as of today, teaching classes in a number of spots. I’ll be at The Sheep Shop in Cambridge, Purlescence in Berkshire, at Knit With Attitude in Stoke Newington, and at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Perhaps I’ll see you at one of those events?

Madrona: The Haul

I am just back from Madrona, filling up on tea and willing my brain to make the shift back to eastern time from western time. I had an amazing time teaching and my students were fantastic, fun, smart, and I almost got them to dance with me. We did have a disco sing-along in one class.

I will not pretend that today, a fake Monday for many (yesterday was a holiday celebrating presidents Washington and Lincoln) that you are remotely interested in anything, but seeing what I bought and clicking on the links.

Fiber,fiber, fiber, yarn!

Fiber,fiber, fiber, yarn!

All but two braids of fiber are from people and companies that are new to me.

My repeater in the lower left is Woolgatherings. Two braids of 50% alpaca/50% silk. King of All Weavers, John Mullarkey,  showed me his and I had to have some.

The two bundles of roving above the alpaca and the two natural yarns in the lower right are from Abundant Earth. Just go look, don’t send me the bill. They have free shipping until the end of April.

The green yarn (Rambouillet naturally dyed with indigo) and the bump of roving (Finn and Angora) above it are from Local Color Fiber Studio on magical Bainbridge Island.

The mug with stockinette stitch on it is from Creative with Clay. I almost didn’t buy one because it was so hard to pick.

I’m tip-toeing around the elephant in the haul – the red yarn next to the alpaca and the 7 (!) bags (there’s a braid in each) are all from Homestead Hobbyist. I have not be this excited about a new fiber company is long time. I went back four times to their booth and compelled many people to buy from them. The blends, the colors, all of it was irresistible.  I will release the fiber from the bags and do an in depth viewing after Ken gets back from Stitches West and has his shop refilled.

Does that help soothe this almost Monday?

I will be writing more about Madrona and my classes tomorrow over on my personal blog. Now, I need to get spinning!

Save

WWW: On the Value of Making, Designing and Persisting

Although the focus on this article is getting children to be creative, the message about the value of making applies to all ages!

It feels so fundamentally good and right to use our hands to manipulate materials – to use tools to extend our ability; to put stuff out into the world.


The Craft Industry Alliance reports that both the size and scope of the craft industry have grown significantly since 2011. We can conclude, I think, that many are coming to understand the value and pleasure of craft.


Loving the cover of last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.


I really enjoyed reading this report from Clara Parkes’ Knitters Review about the most recent American Sheep Industry professional meetings.


I’m very keen to watch a new documentary series, premiering on Netflix. Abstract: The Art of Design tells the stories of eight different ‘professional creatives’ – an architect, an illustrator, an interior designer, a stage designer, a graphic designer, a car designer and a shoe designer. The episodes document the work and workspaces of these artists.


A chart, suitable for embroidery or cross-stitch, courtesy Kim Salazar. Click on the link to download a larger verison.

I also very much like this version of the quote as a cross-stitch chart: it’s a bit more modern in approach, with bonus pink hats! H/t Kim Werker who told me about it, and it was designed by Haley Pierson-Cox of The Zen of Making.

WWW: Sizing Chart Update, Pats Hats for Newborns, Instagram Challenge

Very pleased to see that designer and student-of-garment-fit Ysolda has updated and republished her sizing chart. A boon for designers and knitters!


Two nurses at Newton Wellesley Hospital in the Boston area recently spent a Sunday afternoon knitting timely hat for new arrivals… on Superbowl Sunday, they made hats in the colors of the New England Patriots, the team that won the sporting event.


There is so much to love in this: news of competitive sheep-shearing and wool-handling, and a group of bare-chested New Zealand shearers performing the traditional Haka dance.


If you’re not a member of Instagram, you might not be familiar with the concept of a ‘photo challenge’. Instagram, a social media network, is centered on photography, and many like to take advantage of the medium by joining in group projects, dubbed ‘challenges’. The idea is simple: that you post a photograph every day, connected to a theme. For the month of February, many in the yarn community are participating in the Yarn Love Challenge, an idea originated by Mary Heather and Christina. If you’re not on Instagram, you can explore pictures here and here. And if you are, consider joining in! I’m doing it, and it’s lots of fun. The theme for today is “Where I craft”. I’m loving everyone’s photos, and seeing such creativity in interpretation of the themes, and in the images themselves.


I’m not sure I actually quite believe this story, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief because the pictures are so great… Knitted scarves for cats have apparently become trendy in Japan.


Would You Fix it or Leave It?

As I was spinning this weekend, I noticed that there are spinning irregularities that I almost never fix and ones that I always fix. There is no right or wrong answer to this situation, it is 100% personal preference. Some spinners fix everything and some fix nothing. This weekend I found that I have a particular threshold.

fix it or leave it collage knittyblog jan 6I almost never fix thick and thin spots unless it is extreme to one end or the other, and sometimes I still leave those spots. The thick and thin is exactly what I like about handspun yarn. A machine can’t do it with true randomness and I think it’s what gives handspun yarn life.

It’s the blips that I have particular feelings about. The blip in the top photo I wouldn’t fix, I don’t mind how it looks and the twist goes through the bump of fiber, so it’s stable.

The yarn on the bottom I would fix, by drafting out the blip. This one is looser and it looks like a flag to me. The twist goes through part of the fiber bump, but not all of it. It was quick to fix, a little untwist and draft and it smoothed out.

Both of these yarn aren’t particularly consistent and I wouldn’t fix that. What would you do? The thing I didn’t say about this yarn is that it’s a singles. I’m not going to ply it, so it won’t have the buddy correction of a plied yarn. Does that change your answer?

Is there something that you always fix in your yarn?

Knitting as a Political Act; Clones in a Pink Hat; A Lace Dress

Craft as resistance: Have you downloaded Donna Druchunas’s free ‘Knitting as a Political Act’ e-book yet?


Related: this talk about the role of knitting in the era of World War One sounds fascinating. February 9th, at the Rockport Public Library in Rockport, Maine. If I lived closer, I’d definitely attend.


Just a little reminder: Jillian and I are both reaching at the upcoming Interweave Yarn Fest, in Loveland, Colorado. The weekend of March 30-April 2, the event features a broad variety of classes on all topics yarny: knitting, crochet, spinning and weaving. If you’re in the area, there’s also a great retail fair.


Not knitting, but absolutely fascinating: a lace dress, made for Queen Charlotte, the wife of England’s King George III. The dress is rare for two reasons: very few pieces of the era have survived, and this one in particular is constructed entirely of lace – a process that would have been incredibly time-consuming and costly, and resulted in a very very delicate garment. The story is worth reading, if you’ve been following the new TV series “Victoria”, as Charlotte’s sad family history ultimately led to Victoria being crowned.


YES: Craft on the cover of the New Yorker. And here’s the story behind the artist, Abigail Gray Swartz, who is also a knitter. She submitted it to the publication on a whim!


Totally blowing my own horn here, but I can’t resist.

Due to a connection through my husband’s work, I had to make two pink hats, as a day or two before the march I ended up giving my first one away. My first hat went to none other than Tatiana Maslany, Emmy-winning actress and lead in the very popular TV series Orphan Black, where she plays a series of characters. Ms. Maslany was unable to walk in the Women’s March January 21st due to work commitments, but she did post pictures of herself, in character(s), wearing the hat I made.

Click on the link in the tweet to see the hat!

It was even mentioned in Entertainment Weekly. Squee!

Planning Projects As You Go For A Spinner

Cjkoho Designs, BFL and my cowl in progress.

Cjkoho Designs, BFL and my cowl in progress.

I’m sure you all know by now that knitting my handspun is one of my favorite things. I like to design my projects and I like to design my projects as I knit, especially smaller projects. How does that work if I’m spinning the yarn I’m knitting? What if I run out of yarn or what if I change my mind in the middle of knitting, my design becomes something different and I know I don’t have enough yarn?

All of those things happen to me, a lot. You know what? I don’t sweat it. For me it’s the trade off for not having to be exact. I don’t know exactly what I’m knitting, I have a good idea, but it always evolves. Also I like to spin ish yarn, not exacting down to the micron.

Right now I’m working on a projects and patterns for a class I’m premiering at the  Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat, Yarnitecture 2: Spinning for a Specific Project. I will present my students (waving!) with three patterns and they can choose which one(s) to work through the sampling process and as much of the spinning process we can do in a day. One pattern has color manipulation, one is lace and one is cabled.

I’m finishing up the cabled project right now and it keeps evolving. It’s a cowl and I have about 4.5 inches knit from 3 ounces of fiber. I spun 4 ounces of fiber and I want the cowl to be at least 8″ tall, maybe 9″. I won’t know until I get there. You see what’s going to happen? I’m going to run out of yarn. Did I stress? Nope. I contacted the dyer (CJkohoDesigns – she’s in town) and she had more. Will it match exactly? Nope, but it will be close enough. If she didn’t have more fiber or if I had bought the fiber at a festival 10 years ago with no hope of more, I still wouldn’t have stressed. I would have ripped it out and rethought the cowl.

Some things aren’t worth stressing over. Plus for me it’s like a puzzle, a challenge, what happens next? I love that. It’s at the heart of fiber arts for me, the puzzling and unpuzzling.

Do you plan on the fly for spinning projects or do you plan everything exactly?