WWW: Knitting and activism goes way back; FiberCrafty; creating an ocean liner by hand; Yarnit on Funderdome this Sunday

Seems to be the theme of the year in mainstream news’ craft reporting: A brief history of knitting and activism. Not just a story about Pussy Hats (but we do love a good Pussy Hat), this one dives deep, back to 1853.


This might be of interest to those of you who make more than you can use: FiberCrafty looks to be a hand-crafted-fibery Etsy type thingy. So far, I see lots of roving and fiber, some notions, project bags and finished items like hats. Neat!


Eva Jay and her beautifully detailed ocean liner. Photo by Yahoo News UK.

Though this is done with plastic-canvas needlepoint, not knitting as the story suggests, it is an incredible achievement: 5-foot-long ocean liner created by a woman (it took her 2 years) after she receives a diagnosis of terminal cancer with just months to live. More photos at the link.

You’re pretty cool, Eva.


Some of us already have a Yarnit. Inventor Kate Sullivan is bringing her product to national TV to spread the word further; see her on Steve Harvey’s Funderdome show this Sunday. Video of Kate and her neat invention at the link.

Excited By Bracelets

Purl & Loop’s bracelet loom

This picture may not look like much, but it is a snapshot of a new obsession, weaving bracelets. The super smart folks over at Purl and Loop (the Swatch Maker and Stash Blaster loom people) have designed a little loom intended to make bracelets and I am hooked.

I made a quick bracelet out of corespun and have been experimenting with other weaving techniques in this finite, small space of a loom – it’s so fun! How I know it’s becoming a thing for me? I’m packing to teach at the SSK retreat in Nashville and the only craft I packed is the loom and a handful of Madeline Tosh Unicorn Tails.

I’ve used commercial yarn and handspun. I’ve made them soft and pliable and made them stiffer with more structure. I haven’t started experimenting with closures yet, though I have several ideas.

Are you making bracelets? What yarns do you like to use?

WWW: A salute to Bob; writing instructions for using charts; KnitPetite wants your feedback; celebrating the fiber arts in NFLD

Bob, helping Casey code stuff. Photo stolen (thank you) from The Loopy Ewe

Bob, the most famous Boston Terrier in our knitting world, has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. May your doggy afterlife be full of balls and kisses and treats, sweet Bob. Rest well.


Our own Kate Atherley has written a very helpful post on writing instructions for using charts over at the Stitchmastery blog.


The KnitPetite Project launched 6 months ago, and now they’d like your input in their survey. We love that this underserved area of the handknitting world is getting some attention!


After the Great Fire of 1892 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the School of Industry was established to help teach women weaving, knitting and spinning skills so they could help rebuild their lives and earn a living. Last Saturday, the city celebrated by demonstrating spinning and weaving at St. John’s City Hall.

 

Will I See You This Fall? Jillian’s Teaching Schedule

Half of my Kaleidoscope Color class at Ply Away 2.

I am teaching a bunch this fall. I’ve not taught at any of these events before, I’m excited (and a little nervous)! Here’s my schedule, tell me if I’ll be seeing you.

SSK!  July 20th & 21st – next week! I’m teaching: Fractal Frolic, Twist and Ply 1, Kaleidoscope Spinning & Batts in the Belfry.

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool, September 7th-10th. I’m teaching:Yarnitecture, Twist and Ply: The Difference Ply and Twist Direction Make to Your Knitting, Cheaper by the Dozen: Twelve Ways to Spin Variegated Top, Fractal Frolic

WEBS Spinning Summit, September 29th – October 5th. I’m, teaching: Batts in the Belfry, Kaleidoscope Color For Singles, Twist and Ply 2: Color and Texture.

SAFF October 26th – October 29th. I’m teaching: All the Singles Ladies: Spin and Knit Sensational Singles, Batts in the Belfry: Spinning Batts, Cheaper by the Dozen: Twelve Ways to Spin Variegated Top, Don’t Let Your Yarn Weight You Down: Gist of Grist, Fractal Frolic: Exploring Fractal Spinning, Twist and Ply: The Difference Ply and Twist Direction Make to Your Knitting, Yarnitecture : Building Exactly the Yarn You Want.

Butler PA Spinning and Weaving Guild November 4th – 5th. I’m teaching: Colorplay: Stress Free Ways to Spin with Color, Draft-O-Rama: Woolen and Worsted Prep and Draft, Batts in the Belfry: Spinning Batts.

I already have a couple of gigs scheduled for 2018 too. I’ll be at the DFW Fiber Fest in April, in Boulder, Colorado at Shuttles Spindles and Skeins in August and in Moscow, Idaho at Yarn Underground with Janine Bajus in October.

I can’t wait to hit the road!

 

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Nirvana Needles Arts Ebony Sock Needle Set Giveaway!

Look at this gorgeous set of ebony sock needles from Nirvana Needle Arts! We reviewed this set in the current issue of Knitty and thought they knit as wonderfully as they look.

Here’s what Carla had to say about them:

Knitting with wooden needles makes my heart sing. They are warm in my hands from the moment I pick them up. I may have squealed when I saw this set (which includes 5 double pointed needles in US sizes 1, 2, and 3). The case is made from happy, flowery fabric and lined in bright red (there are several different fabrics to choose from). There’s a flap to keep the needles in place and an elastic band to ensure nothing falls out and plenty of space to add to the collection.

So, they’re gorgeous…but how do they work? Beautifully. Aside from the warmth, they have just enough give to keep my hands from getting tired. I can imagine after years of use, they will fit in my hands with a slight curve to them. No splitty needle tips here either. I raced along on a sock with no split stitches or half-caught yarn. The soft finish slowed me down a bit, but again, after years of use, they will be shiny, a little slicker, and among my favorite needles.

Our friends at Hiya Hiya who distribute Nirvana have offered us set to giveaway. Need a set of ebony sock needles in your life? Leave a comment below for your chance to win.

Each Nirvana Needle Arts Sock Gift Set contains 6″ double point needle sets in sizes 1US/2.25; 2US/2.75; and 3US/3.25 packaged with a 7″ Needle and Hook Case.

Our usual giveaway rules apply. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday July 9th, 2017. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the Nirvana Needle Arts Gift Set with 6″ needles.  Giveaway value $66.

 

 

 

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BONUS long-weekend post: TNNA 2017 @ Columbus

What’s it like to attend a fiber-industry trade show? When you’ve worked in the industry for (gulp) 15 years (!), you know so many people and, hopefully, you like them. If they like you, too, then it’s like a big working party. Tons of hugging and smiling and catching up on the news. And the work part? We get to see all the new products from yarn manufacturers and indie dyers, designers and makers of all types. It’s a pretty great industry to work in.

Jillian comes with me whenever she can, but as her and her daughter’s joint birthday weekend coincides with TNNA almost every year, sometimes I have to do it on my own. This year was one of those years. She’s trained me well…here’s just a little of what I saw! (Regarding my excitement at non-wool yarns, some of you may know I’m allergic to wool, so I can’t help but get excited when I see great stuff that’s not woolly.) 

Cool robot buttons from Skacel

 

PEOPLE. This is ZAUBERBALL COTTON. I almost yelled out loud when I saw it! From Skacel. Please buy tons of it so they keep it in the lineup!

 

El Linio, also from Skacel. MORE LINEN! Yay!

 

The Manos del Uruguay booth is never a disappointment.

 

Trailhead Yarns. Prettttty. And vegan, even!

 

A new loom from Schacht

 

Ahh, Binkwaffle, how we love you.

 

New Binkwaffle zippy pouches with wrist strap!

 

Minute Weaver™ tiny loom from purl&loop

 

More Minute Weavers™ in different gauges

 

Trendsetter’s Transitions Yarn with its handy dispenser bag

 

Meet Kate, the guru behind Dragonfly Fibers, and wearer of an awesome linen apron!

 

Anywhere balm from Love+Leche

 

Hey, It’s Liz Gipson, wearing her Hands-Free Cowl pattern from the Deep Fall 2016 issue of Knitty!

 

I imagined Jillian would go nuts for this gorgeous new extra-speckled tweed – Croft – from West Yorkshire Spinners

 

Our friends at Space Cadet now offer size-flexible ombre bundles – a very cool idea! Details here.

 

Meet Stephanie, the genius behind Space Cadet!

 

I found out about Pawley Studios mugs through Stephanie at Space Cadet. I met Amanda Pawley this year, and got to see her fabulous offerings. Keep an eye out for a Pawley/Knitty collaboration later this year!

 

I loved Jen Giuntoli’s very cool cowl and had to stop her to tell her so. You can find the pattern here. (If she hadn’t published it already, I would have begged to publish it in Knitty! ) Click to embiggen and see the beautiful bead details!

 

Meet Katy Westcott, the woman behind Katrinkles — cool laser-cut bamboo and wooden accessories.

Beautiful yarns from Ancient Arts

 

The women behind Spincycle Yarns work with a monther/daughter-run mill in Washington state, and produce yarns that look like their original handspun offerings, but are repeatable. That’s so cool.

 

The Sweet Georgia booth is always a visual delight. Look at ALL THAT COLO(U)R!

 

Shibui has some of the most beautiful branding and packaging in the industry, and their yarns? Delicious.

 

Yummy fiber-themed pottery from JamPDX

 

The Freia Fibers booth was extra-stunning this year…look at this beautiful creation!

 

Oh, and their yarn is freaking gorgeous, too.

 

We love the wares offered by Hiya Hiya/Nirvana. This sheep shawl pin is the size of your palm! Awesome!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little tour. There is more at TNNA than I could possibly share with you, but this gives you a taste of why fiber-industry people are so eager to attend this show every year. Great people, fabulous products, and lots of interesting conversation, and collaborations planned for the future. As for that last bit, you’ll just have to wait and see what comes of my conversations in June as we move into our 15th Anniversary Year this September!

WWW: interview with Maggie Menzel; how flax becomes linen, with bonus Irish accent; knitting, animated; cool sheepy design prototypes

We recently published a beautiful-bright cabled sock called Vinculum. On the Apocalypse Knitting blog, read an interview with Vinculum’s designer, Maggie Menzel.


Those who know me know I am allergic to wool, and as a result, exceptionally fond of anything not-wool that’s worth knitting. Linen is at the top of my list. Thanks to the Mason-Dixon’s weekend newsletter, Snippets, I learned about the wonderfulness that is Colm Clarke of County Donegal (note his correct pronunciation: don-E-gal), who takes us, start to finish, through the process of growing flax and turning it into linen. Now you know why it’s so danged expensive.

(To sign up for your own copy of Snippets, scroll down to the bottom of any page on their site.)


I have no idea how this –> is done. Maybe you do, and animator Gustavo Gonzalez certainly does, but we can all just look at it and go “ooooooooh” together.

Here’s another one.

So soothing.


From graphic designer, Gwyn M. Lewis, this self-promotional design portfolio features woolly yarn and sheep in a very novel way. Although the yarn-ball packaging would only work for display, the bobbins and needle covers look very functional.

Anyone wanna license Gwyn’s work?

Trip Crafting and the Sheepspot Fiber Club

Vacation crafts, just a little bit.

How many of you guessed I would do almost no crafting on my big trip? Ding, ding, ding! You win! That over there on the left is the sum total of my crafty endeavors for the 12 days I was away.

20% of a sock and a woven bracelet. We were busy! There was much sightseeing, chatting and freely flowing German and Czech beer from noon on. None of that is really conducive to crafting.

What’s displayed in the photo is really only a portion of what went into the crafting. For the first time I read and followed all of the directions when using something new (the Purl & Loop Bracelet Loom). I wove with corespun yarn and it’s spectacular. You’ll be seeing many bracelets in the next few weeks. And I have ideas for other things too, maybe even a class with handspun odds and ends.

With the socks I did two things. I relearned casting on two socks on two circs. It took me 5 tries (please see the flowing beer statement above). Eventually I had to run and hide and do it in solitude, but I got it and love it. I used to knit socks, usually only one, so the two circs method is perfect for me. I have a crazy loose gauge and use 000 and 0000 for socks, even though the gauge is the same, somehow it’s distressing to use such tiny needles. I also have large calves and sock never fit. Soooo I read Kate Atherley’s most excellent book Custom Socks:Knit to Fit Your Feet and did all of the measuring. I built myself a custom sized pattern and am happily knitting. My gauge has changed (of course) so I’ll have adjust my numbers slightly.

While I didn’t do many crafts I sure dug deeper into the ones I did.  I’m calling that a win.

 

The Sheepspot fiber club sign up is closing today! Sheepspot is one of the few spinning fiber clubs that teaches you in depth about breeds and gives a choice of colors (or natural). Choices are my favorite thing!

 

Sheepspot!

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WWW: TNNA, Knitting National Parks, a knit-loving Costume Designer; TCM Knitting Club is aces

A restful moment on the show floor with (L-R) designers Hunter Hammersen and Krista Ann, and Sabrina Famellos of Anzula. (Every booth should have a couch.)

Last week’s WWW update was lost in the pre-TNNA/Amy on vacation shuffle. Sorry about that. Kate did a much better job at making sure we never missed a week. I will endeavour to live up to her legacy in future.

But on the positive side, TNNA (our industry’s trade show) was a fountain overflowing with great new products, inspiration, and quite a few connections made for new designs in future issues. Watch out for brand-new reviews when we launch the Surprise next month…we’re doing two sets of reviews every issue now, so you can see all the new stuff as soon as possible! And I’ll be writing a show wrap-up post soon. With so many pictures!


The new Knitting Our National Parks project kicked off this past Friday. Several indie dyers over the next year will be creating colorways inspired by photos of the national parks from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Instagram feed, with 10% of sales donated to the National Park Foundation. Indie dyers include Backyard Fiberworks, Pigeonroof Studios, Jill Draper, Duck Duck Wool and Canon Hand Dyes.


You might have noticed the super-cool Blurred Lines cropped pullover pattern in our Spring+Summer issue, designed for and worn by Mindy Kaling on The Mindy Show. The Costume Designer for the show loves knitwear, obvs. Take a peek at this feature to see more about what he does for the show. PS I met Krista Ann (the designer of Blurred Lines, pictured above) at TNNA and we talked about future collaborations. Squee!


We’re really growing fond of the TCM Knitting Club. This month’s newsletter highlights lots of Audrey Hepburn-based knitting projects (our Margot pullover could have been on the list), a whole bunch of Pride-month-friendly rainbow patterns, and much more.

Electric Spinner vs. Treadle Wheel

Electric or treadle? Yes!

Spinners ask me about electric wheels all of the time. The good, should I get one? And the bad, why would you have one?

For me it’s not an either/or. I find my treadle wheels and my electric wheel (I have a Hansen, version 1 ) happily coexist in my spinning and my spinning heart.

I use my treadle wheels when I feel like treadling (duh) and when I’m sampling with a lot stops and starts, or when I need to pay closer attention to drafting or plying. I’m not saying that starting and stopping and detailed viewing of your yarn can’t be done on an electric spinner, I just don’t do it that way. I also like to use my treadle wheels for art yarns.

I use my treadle wheels the most, partially because I have more than one and keep different projects on each one. A treadle wheel was my first wheel and what helped me really fall for spinning. I don’t think I’ll ever be without one. But I wouldn’t give up my Hansen either.

I use my electric spinner when I am spinning a lot of yarn, especially the type of yarn I can just get into a groove and go, spinning through a whole season of something. If I’m spinning for a sweater, a couple of pounds of fiber, I put the WooLee Winder on my Hansen, twiddle my knobs until I have my the correct settings for my yarn, find something British with murder on Netflix and I’m off. I usually mark my settings right on the wheel in pencil, or sometimes on a sticker. I also use my Hansen to ply, I love plying on that machine, effortless and steady.

I like to travel with my miniSpinner; I fly with her and I even take her camping. Sometimes I get tired of sitting, my hips, knees and back start to complain. Then I put my spinner on a stool or a counter and spin standing up. That was a revelation for me. When I got achey from sitting and spinning before my spinner, spindle spinning was my only option, and I’m not a very productive spindle spinner.

If you are deciding if you want an electric spinner, try one. Try more than one, there are many on the market now. I know that the SpinOlution Firefly is another very popular electric spinner, but I haven’t tried one yet. You’ll know, just like a treadle wheel, if it’s a wheel for you or not.

The answer to why I have an electric spinner is, of course, variety! Just like I like to spin a whole lot of different yarns, I like to spin on a range of wheels. And i like spinning on it, it feels right.

Please don’t make me pick between the two types of wheels!

Do you spin on an electric spinner and a treadle wheel, or just one?