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?

 

New Knitty Means New Spinning

Have you seen the new Knitty? More specifically have you seen the spinning in the new Knitty?

There is the fantastic Bosco cardigan by Mari Chiba, knit from Manos del Uruguay Clara, with a handspun yoke from Manos del Uruguay Merino roving, spun by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter. The yoke only takes 140 yards of handspun singles! A great way to incorporate your handspun without having to spin for a whole sweater.

Bosco! Commercial yarn + handspun.

In my Knittyspin column, I talk about my adoration of overplied 2-ply yarn. It’s been my default yarn for years, but I just discovered something new about it.

Balanced 2-ply and overplied 2-ply. Fiber is Threewaters Farm Springing for Green on Merino/silk

I hope you enjoy this issue, happy spinning!

WWW on the fly:

The Welcome Blanket project

The woman behind the Pussyhat and a team of awesome people have begun another wonderful initiative: the Welcome Blanket project. –>


In Toronto, the arrival of warm weather means it’s almost time for the TTC Knitalong!


I hope you’ll forgive the shortness of this post. Besides putting out the new First Fall issue (Patrons have access right now; the rest of the world gets access tomorrow morning at 10am), I’m prepping for TNNA which happens this weekend in Columbus, OH. OH the Jeni’s that will be consumed!

Also this weekend, Squam. Oh, those lucky ducks who get to go! Maybe one year, it will be me!

See ya next week!

Spring+Summer Knittyspin – A Couple More Options

 

Drafting together on top, blocking on the bottom.

In the latest Knittyspin column, Spring+Summer 2017, I talked about lightening a colorway at your wheel. I used a variegated colorway Godwood on Falkland by Into the Whirled, and lighten the colors a little by using white Corriedale from Louet.

One of the ways I used was drafting together Godwood and the white corrie to make a marled singles that I then plied together for a double marl The other way I used was by blocking, spinning first the colorway and interspersing white every so often in the singles that I then plied together.

The samples looked lighter over all, with varying amounts of flecks of white Corriedale. I used a combination with high contrast so I could really see what was going on in the yarn.

 

 

 

Top: One ply drafted together with white, one ply colorway plain.
Bottom: One ply colorway blocked with white, one ply colorway plain.

 

I keep thinking about these samples and wondering what would it look like if I used one ply of the manipulated yarn (drafting together or blocking) and one ply of the colorway by itself. It’s been bugging me for months, and I finally did it.

I like it. I think I like it better with this high contrast combination. It’s not as jarring, visually, but I’m not one for high contrast marls in general.

Drafted on top, blocked on bottom.

 

Here’s a closer peek. What do you think? Is it something you’d add to your dyed braid spinning tools?

 

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WWW: Foot binding connected to textile production; Little Knittery forced to move; new New York craft festival; Danish elite buried in woollies

No, really. This fascinating article discusses research into the practise of foot binding in China as a means to keep girls in one place so they could contribute to the family’s income, making textiles. Wow.


Kat Coyle, owner of the Little Knittery (photo by Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The Little Knittery, the shop that friend-of-Knitty Kat Coyle owns – which also happens to be the home of the legendary Pussyhat (which Kat designed!) – is being forced to move locations. But they’re not closing, so that’s good news, at least! –>


Big craft festival coming up in NYC, June 3-4, 2017! The Craft in Focus Festival originated in Amsterdam, and this is its first year in New York. All sorts of crafts, including textiles. A really interesting offering! Personally, I’d like to make my own spoon!


The Danish elite of 3500 years ago were buried in fancy woolly hats and shawls. Cool.

What Knitting for Big Trip?

My Jenkins Spindle and Greenwood Fiberworks Yak/Silk.

I’m very lucky to be going on a 12-day Viking River Cruise in a week (!). I have almost everything sorted, suitcase, clothes, shoes, the kids clothes and shoes, but what knitting do I bring? I have a little spinning to bring, my Jenkins Delight and a pack of Greenwood Fiberworks yak/silk will keep me busy in the spinning department.

My socks will rock!

I am confounded when it comes to what knitting to bring. I want to knit something that doesn’t have a deadline and isn’t a swatch. I want something that I can chat while I knit.My mother-in-law, who is taking us says there is a lot of chatting on the ship.

I know I am bringing a skein of yarn I’ve been hanging onto to make into socks in my new Happy Birthday present from Amy  Splityarn octopus box bag. The yarn Socks That Rock medium weight in Farmhouse. It’s been marinating in my stash for many years, maybe 8. Now I’m ready to knit it and to knit socks, which I haven’t done in about the same number of years.

But what else? Another special braid I’ve been saving? I’m considering that with an easy to memorize lace pattern to make a scarf or wrap, depending on the yarn. Or something completely different. What do you suggest?

Imagine my handspun beacelet.

 

Also tagging along will be a Stash Blaster Bracelet Loom from Purl and Loop. I’ve been waiting not very patiently for these to be available. I can’t wait to see what my handspun looks like as a bracelet.

I wonder what the people on the ship will be most interested in, the knitting, the spinning or the weaving?

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WWW: The TCM Knitting club does Gable; missing Roger and his sweaters; an ode to our Kate

O the things I learn, writing the WWW blog post! Seems there’s an unofficial TCM knitting club which celebrates knitting + classic movies, and this month, their chosen patterns are inspired by “Gable’s casual yet snappy style.” They’ve picked out”a few patterns to suit a sharp-dressed man with outdoorsy tendencies.”

Oh, ROGER! <3

Sounds yummy. Read lots more here — I’m signing up for this newsletter. It’s full of good juicy stuff!


We lost Sir Roger Moore this week (he was my first Bond). Did you know he was also a sweater model back in the day?  —>


I got to speak at the Toronto Knitters Guild’s April meeting. Such a nice bunch of people, plus it’s very special to me, that guild, because I first announced the birth of Knitty at a meeting there in 2002.

There’s a bit of a wrapup of the April meeting in their latest Newsletter, but most importantly, an ode to our own Kate Atherley at the end.