Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011: A Year in Knitty

In 2011, Knitty published over 120 really fab patterns. There were patterns for every season, for every skill level, every occasion.


Although we love them all, we had our favourites, and you did, too…


Jeny’s beautiful, unbelievable, amazing, fascinating and challenging Double Heelix is one of the most popular designs we published this year. We love that our knitters were up for the challenge!

Extra spicy, extra fab!

The very wearable and easy to knit Amiga cardi from Mags Kandis was immensely popular, and we love all the interpretations in different types of yarn.

Just perfect.

The very elegant, clever and also very practical Commuter mitts were a big hit.

The very definition of a must-knit.

The Escargot hat hit quickly and hard, not just with those knitting for themselves, but with knitters looking for gifts for their most chic friends and family members. One intrepid knitter had two knitted within a few days of the issue going live.

As chic as can be.

The Java socks created a ton of buzz! A great design that works just as well for men and women, cleverly constructed, and fun to knit. What more do you need?

Perhaps a soy yarn?

The prize for the fastest to the needles and the fastest FOs goes to Pretty Twisted. It’s a brilliant idea, brilliantly executed! Who hasn’t got leftover sock yarn? And we’re all looking for a fun and fast way to show it off.


The fantabulous and stunning Oranje cardigan caused a sensation when the Surprise went live…

Just wow. Seriously. Wow.

The Make Up Your Mind Tank is that rare and wonderful thing: a brilliant summer knit. Ideal to knit in the summer, and also ideal to wear in the summer. Our knitters agreed.

Cool and cooler.

The Fallberry Fingerless Mitts are classic Anne Hanson, bite-sized for quick and easy knitting.

You know you wanna...

Kate’s personal favourite pattern, hands-down, is Franklin’s interpretation of the Victorian doll’s outfit from Weldon’s Practical Knitter – part 1 here, part 2 here. There are many words you can use to describe it, but “practical” has to be just about the last.

This will never fail to make me smile. Laugh, even.

WWW: Yarnbombing big and small; “the Julia Child of needlework”; Tangerine Tango

Clara Parkes’ Review of 2011 provides a great overview of all the growth and excitement we’ve seen in the knitting world in the past year. Thanks Clara!

A commissioned worked created by Ms. Sayeg

For both good and bad, yarnbombing is not just a guerilla activity any more. The profile of Madga Sayeg in the Wall Street Journal highlights the other side of yarnbombing... as an organized, planned and paid activity. Ms. Sayeg started her yarnbombing career for fun, with a simple door-handle cosy, and is now a paid artist working with a team taking commissions from municipal groups and corporations, charging between $25,000 to $70,000 per project. Ms. Sayeg should be credited as one of the artists helping establishing yarnbombing as a legitimate form of installation art.

At the Everett Children's Museum, adorning a statue.

A little less ambitious but just as wonderful, Renee Walsted is a one-woman yarnbombing squad bringing a little festive cheer to the city of Everett, Washington.

Ms. Weaver, wearing one of her own designs.

A fab profile of Knitty designer Ann Weaver from the Grand Rapids Press, in Ann’s hometown. I love reading about the disparate influences and educational backgrounds of designers.

A fascinating New York Times obituary for Erica Wilson, store owner, teacher, designer and needleworker. Although not primarily a knitter, Ms. Wilson is responsible for the promotion of a variety of needlearts in the US through her chain of stores, her books and her TV shows. Considered to be “the Julia Child of needlework”, her influence was broad-reaching, with television appearances in the UK and Australia. Ms. Wilson is credited with being largely responsible for the midcentury American renaissance of hand embroidery, a traditional art that had waned in the 20th century amid the rise of machine sewing. She even had a syndicated newspaper column in the 1980s, “Needleplay”.

Looking forward to 2012, Pantone has announced its color of the year: Tangerine Tango.

Spinning Tuesdays: Beautiful Batt Spinning

I hope everyone got lovely fiber gifts for whatever Winter holiday you celebrate, and  spent a day or two relaxing in pajamas.

I gifted myself a Bricolage batt

Bricolage Batt

Emily does the most beautiful mixed batts, lots of interesting texture and great colors. She makes gorgeous jewelry too. I might have bought myself a Poppy necklace.

I core spun this batt, letting it be as textured as it wanted to be.

Textured Bricolage Yarn

After spinning fat and core spun yarns for most of this year, I’m thinking about what to focus on for 2012.

Have you decided on any spinning resolutions for 2012?



WWW: Wildbreien!

The very happy winner of the Clara Parkes book collection is Rhonda from Salem, Massachusetts. Thanks to Potter Craft for the wonderful prize!

Geeky, in exactly the right way.

We were excited to hear that the the Microprocessor Socks that were published in the Deep Fall issue of Knitty have been selected for the exhibition Sticks, Hooks, and the Mobius: Knit and Crochet Go Cerebral. The Exhibition runs January 8-Feburary 5 2012 at the Williams Center Gallery, Lafayette College, Easton, PA.

In the words of the curator, Susan Huxley, The exhibit will highlight “science-based works, called “geek” knit or crochet. Breathtaking three-dimensional descriptions of the hyperbolic plane, Lorenz manifold, and mobius are at the forefront, but biology, chemistry, and physics are not far behind.”

Congratulations to Heatherly!

Giving warmth.

A nice story about a family continuing a tradition started by their late mother, knitting mittens for children. Judge Donna Muza of Wisconsin started the project in in 1979, when she took up the judicial bench, and continued it to her retirement over 30 years later. After her death, her daughters picked up the needles to ensure that, as before, no child would have cold hands. The family donates 300-400 pairs of mittens every year, knitting year-round to ensure they have sufficient supply.

City mouse, country mouse, woolly mouse.

Knitting group The Materialistics have completed their latest exhibition, “Once Upon a Time“, on display now at The Customs House, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, UK. It features knitted recreations of iconic children’s stories such as Alice in Wonderland, The Gruffalo, The Wild Things, The Jungle Book, and Hansel and Gretel. Exhibit info here.

The Dutch word “Wildbreien” – “wild knitting” in English, a term for yarn bombing or graffiti knitting, has been nominated by the Dutch Institute of Lexicology as the most beautiful new word in the Dutch language for 2011.

Looking for last minute gift ideas for a knitter in your life? Have you been reading the Yarnharlot’s blog this month? Every day she has had a list of gift suggestions for knitters. Some are big, some are small, some are high tech, some are simply – all are brilliant and would be entirely welcome in the home of any knitter!

Giveaway! No knitting library should be without Clara Parkes

Here at Knitty, we have big love for Clara Parkes and her incredible books full of scholarship and great patterns.

If you don’t have all of Clara Parkes’, books we think you should! And thanks to the folks at Potter Craft, we’re giving away 1 set of all of Clara’s books. Will you be the lucky winner?

See me, win me, knit me!

The usual rules apply for our giveaway: Leave a comment on this post before midnight, eastern time, on Sunday, December 18, 2011. A comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If s/he answers correctly s/he will win our prize. Prize value $90.

Good luck, everyone!

So where were we?

Oh, that’s right. Dublin. When I last left you, me and my gimpy knee were trying to sleep one last night in Dublin.

I woke up 50 years old. How the hell did that happen?


I got Andy, the cabdriver, to take me to the airport and he gave me a right good talking to on the way. I’ve been told that next time, I need to go to Cork, rent a car and drive up the coast. And that’s how I’ll see more of Ireland. So that’s on my bucket list now. Thanks, Andy.

This is what 50 looks like. In my tiny, perfect room at the UJC.

Travelling with a hurt knee was not fun, but I managed. I forgot to call to pre-arrange a wheelchair for this part of the trip, but lucked into the beep-beep cart at Gatwick, and was whisked away through security right to the luggage pick up. A combination of rolling carts and my wheely luggage and I managed to get, in one piece, down to the Gatwick Express. Getting the bags on the train was another matter, so I just threw pride aside and whomped each bag up the stairs and arranged myself after they were all on board. On the other end, much easier to get a taxi and a ride right to my accommodations, the Union Jack Club.


I’ll probably never get to stay there again, as I’m not and never have been in military service, and that’s what this club is all about. But since the iKnit London event was held there, all the teachers got to stay in the tiny, perfect rooms [like a well-appointed dorm room…the coziest sleep imaginable]. For £60/night, right across from Waterloo station. Unheard of! Like I said, it’s a gem meant for those in military service, now or in the past. Thanks for letting me in, UJC…I loved it!

this is the lovely Sajona, and the scones she made our class. she saved the remainder of my trip with her donation of a well-loved walking stick. thank you so much!

That night, Brenda came in for the weekend, so I wouldn’t be without a good friend for my big day. It meant a lot to me to have her there. She knows. We had dinner at the White Hart pub with a few choice friends [thank you, ladies…you made my day!] and then there was passing out in my room. Just me. Brenda stayed with a friend, since my single room couldn’t have been more single if it tried :).



As for birthday celebrations, well, this whole trip was for my birthday, really, so the quiet day was just fine with me. I expect I will be throwing a party around these parts shortly, just so I can have cake again. Because. Come on. Cake!



The next two days were all about teaching lovely iKnit students things they didn’t already know [or didn’t know how to do my way] and they couldn’t have been nicer. One student and I bonded over bagels and Jewishness. Another was kind enough to bring me not only home-baked scones [with all proper accoutrements…jam and cream, omg] but a cast-off walking stick, which made the rest of my trip so  much better. I was able to get around the city reasonably well with that extra bit of support. Thank you so much, Sajona!


I got fed home cooking at Katie’s house [where Brenda was staying] and we had a little guitar/ukulele concert for each other. It was really, really nice.


 I got to meet the man who was scheduled to engrave my leg in a few days time. And Brenda and I went to something we’d wanted to see for months:


me and Brenda at the entrance to the Doctor Who Experience!

We had no idea what to expect. But it was a flipping blast. Sure, it’s probably meant for 5-10 year old boys, but so what? We loved it. We giggled at the Doctor. We pointed at the Tardis and the scary Daleks. We both squealed like little girls when the Weeping Angels flew at us in 3D and got all fangy in our faces. It was awesome.


Here. Some pictures of the parts I was allowed to take pictures of:


Brenda's favorite.

I have two Doctors. I don't have to choose if I don't wanna.

but I don't want to be exterminated!

are you my mummy?

my doctors' TARDIS.

The face of Boe!

So that was that. Very fun.


Sunday, I was finished with all the teaching I’d come over to do, and had planned a free day just to explore. With the knee as it was, I kept plans light, and decided to go to Labour & Wait, a store I’d wanted to visit forever.  Tiny, perfect store. I bought an enamelled pan and a few other things.


socks in the window. must be a good place.

And then followed the foot traffic to what turned out to be Brick Lane. Which was an excellent place to slowly wander with my trusty stick at my side.  


Some things I saw:


they may spell bagel funny, but they make them reeeeeel good. yum.

I never found out what a chola was, but the smoked salmon bagel was a steal at £1.60, and delicious

a very old neighborhood

After nibbling my beigel and wandering Brick Lane proper for a while, I was getting tired, so I decided to see where the majority of the foot traffic went and follow them.


And found myself at Old Spitalfields Market. Which, it turns out, is kind of like Etsy, but live. My kind of heaven. I’d never been there before.


See, I hadn’t prepared for the wandering-London part of the trip because I knew my ability to just GO anywhere was pretty compromised and I didn’t want to be sad about the things I couldn’t do and see. So to have fallen into these amazing areas of town just because I picked a good starting point and followed the people after that? It felt like a little gift from the travel fairy. I was pretty blissed out. I bought gifts for the hub and the sister and tea for me. And then decided that I really needed a pair of Doc Marten boots. My first.


do I like these boots? yes. I will buy these boots, Doctor Marten.

How could I resist Union-Jack-lined tall boots of pre-worn-in leather with black satin ribbon laces? You tell me. I couldn’t. I love these boots almost unnaturally. They’re comfortable and make me very happy.


The next day was my last full day in London, and it had been set aside ages ago for this:


Me getting engraved.

 My celebratory birthday tattoo. I’d chosen the shop and artist months before, met him a few days earlier to talk over the piece and here I was, getting drilled into with needles. A hint from someone before I went in had me prepped with 2 Aleve tablets, which I took just as he started work, and I swear, the pain afterwards […it still hurt like hell during the tattoo] was almost completely eliminated because of them. Brilliant.


my little ukulele, topped with a rabbit. this is just after it was finished, hence all the redness.

You might recognize the “k” in the middle there. As for the tattoo, the artist did some things [especially the rabbit] beyond my expectations. I just love it. Some things, not so much. It’s all good — I’ll get the wonky bits evened out by someone local. 


The next day, me and my saran-wrapped leg [fresh saran wrap…to protect against germies on the plane, you know] headed to Heathrow and off I went. After trying to convince my taxi driver, who greeted me by hacking up a lung, to try those electronic cigarettes so he could quit the real ones. I clearly was bonding with taxi drivers on this trip.


Anyway, this time I’d arranged for wheely assistance to get around. Very helpful at Schiphol, and pretty useless in Toronto, where they were so backed up that people were sitting for more than 40 minutes, waiting for someone to wheel them through customs. I could get up, so I did, and hobbled through on my own. And then I was hugging my husband and soon in my own bed.


On this trip, special mention needs to go out to two things: SOAK and linen. I left Toronto well stocked with Scentless SOAK minis, and I used them to wash my work clothes — linen tunics, tops and pants — at every stop, allowing me to pack much lighter than I would have otherwise. And the linen was always dry by the next morning, and any dinner accidents were erased. Really. This stuff is magic, this SOAK stuff, and now that I know how well the SOAK/linen system works, I can pack even lighter next time. 


What a trip. Overwhelming at times, exhausting a lot, and fabulous more times than I can count.  I met so many wonderful people, and hope to see quite a few of them again. I got a taste of two countries [Scotland and Ireland] that I want to revisit, and soon. I got a refill of Wales and my good friends. And a little taste of London, that city that I love so much more each time I visit.


And within a week of being home, Brenda and I planned to repeat our retreat in 2012. We’re doing it again, next October, in Pembrokeshire, Wales. I’m not sure if I’ll be travelling beyond Wales this time*, but am thrilled to be returning to one of my favorite places on the planet, to spend time with really great people.  


*I am talking to shops all over the UK and Ireland about extending my trip next October. Plans are still being worked out, so if you are interested in having me visit your shop, take a peek at my class information page and then drop me a note. 

WWW: In Sheep’s Clothing

Vintage spinners at work.

We insist you set aside 10 minutes in your day to watch a short movie. The film “In Sheep’s Clothing” was made in Shetland in 1932, by a woman called Jenny Brown. She made a number of films, and this one focuses on the creation of a sweater. This absolutely amazing 10-minute video shows the entire sweater creation process, from the sheep to the garment. Everything is done by hand, and it’s a wonderful view into the process, and the everyday lives of the Shetlanders in the first half of the 20th century. If you don’t have 10 minutes to spare today, skip ahead to the 9 minute mark to watch these women knit. They’re blindingly fast, using the “anchored needle” (a.k.a. needle tucked under arm) method.

Whether you’re a knitter, a spinner, a lover of fabulous wild scenery, a dog-lover or a cat-lover, there is something in this video for everyone. I particularly love the interfering kitten.

The film has been made available to watch online by the Scottish Screen Archive, and we thank them for it.

The filmmaker.

The filmmaker, Jenny Gilbertson (nee Brown), has an amazing story. She was born in 1902, and although trained as a secretary, she decided that she wanted to be a filmmaker. She travelled to the northern reaches of Scotland, Canada and the Arctic to document the lives of the residents. At the age of 79, she spent a year living in an Inuit community 900 miles north of the Arctic circle, documenting their lives. She was a one-woman show – doing all the script-writing, filming, sound, lighting and direction herself. There are several of her films in the archive. I don’t know that she was a knitter, but she certainly knows what we are interested in.

Shorter and more modern, our own Kate is featured in a video on the Toronto Star website. The paper is doing a video series about the 501 streetcar route, the longest route in the greater Toronto area. As a regular rider of this route, Kate is featured, doing what she always does: knitting a sock.

A reader has brought to our attention (thanks!) a fascinating study on the use of wool to relieve pain in Fibromyalgia suffers. Wearing wool long underwear has been proven to reduce pain and other symptoms. The theory is that keeping warm ensures maximal bloodflow to the joints.

One of the Knitty team was recently contacted by another knitter, seeking permission to distribute one of our patterns to members of the US military, as part of a charitable program. The knitter works for a small defense contractor in the greater Boston area. In her words…

We build protective equipment used by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a strong connection with service members worldwide, and embrace our commitment to support them however we can. People at work participate in both company sponsored and independent efforts.

Supporting heroes in many ways.

One of the independent efforts that folk at work have been pursuing is the Local Heroes program. It’s an all-volunteer organization, with 100% of the donations going to support service members from the New England region.

Our coordinator put out a call for the items listed on the website, plus a selection of other things that he knows about via direct request. In addition to personal comforts and snacks, many of the items are “idle hours” type things – magazines, crossword puzzles, cards, games, music, hobby supplies, and the like.

We also noted that women in the military are often forgotten, and the things that are donated and collected are often “guy-centric.” Which is not to say that men wouldn’t want to knit or that women are not interested in football magazines.

So in the hope of bringing some idle hours comfort to some knitter (probably female) in a hard place, far from loved ones, I thought about what would make me smile in that circumstance. I decided to put together some small knit-kits – socks, hats, scarves, drawing on yarn from my stash, augmented by some needle purchases and web-available patterns. I have to have my kits bundled and ready this week to make our collection deadline.

Our knitter friend urges people to seek out small, local organizations of this type that might benefit people from their regions. Local veterans’ groups are a good place to connect with them.

More cuddly than a calculator.

And for the numerically inclined in our readership, a pattern for knitted Napier’s Bones. Napier’s Bones are a type of abacus, a tool to aid multiplication, invented in the 17th century by mathematician John Napier. This gives me an idea for a scarf…

Spinning Tuesdays: Another Reason to Have a Stash

Here’s another reason to have a fiber stash, for your friends who get into spinning trouble.


The other day I was knitting along happily on my father in law’s Christmas scarf, a cabled pattern knit out of a handspun, three-ply Gotland.  I’ll admit I was feeling smug because all of my gift knitting was right on schedule.

Then I looked down at my ball of yarn, it looked small. I looked again. Then I squeezed it, maybe it was wound really tightly. Nope. I was going to run out of yarn. Not just run out of yarn, much worse, I used all of the Gotland I had to spin the yarn.


How bad was it?

Half of Ray's Scarf

The knitting part was bad. When I finished the yarn I had, I was just under halfway done.

The fiber part was worse. The fiber I spun came from a fleece I had bought from New Zealand six years ago.

I was feeling really sorry for myself, the scarf, or half scarf, was exactly what I wanted – size, design, drape.


Then I remembered Carla. Carla is my friend who is always an enthusiastic participant in any fiber shenanigans I come up with, including splitting fleeces ordered from New Zealand. Yes, there was more than one, don’t judge.


I texted her. She was in an all day meeting with important people at work, but this was a fiber emergency. “Do you still have any of that Gotland fiber we got from NZ 6 years ago? I ran out of yarn for Ray’s scarf.” She instantly texted back, she understands a fiber emergency. “Yes!”

Not only did she still have it; she hadn’t used one bit of it, and she put her hands on the bag in less than 10 minutes.

More than a pound of Gotland roving

So keep stashing that fiber, your friends may need it too!

Gift Knitting Ideas for Everyone on Your List

Last year, I finished up my gift knitting in the car on the way to see my family Christmas morning.  I presented my mother with a hat, and after she’d tried it on, I grabbed it back so I could weave the ends in and block it.

I’m hoping to do a little better this year… I’m aiming to be done the night before so I can at least get the ends woven in.

If you’re looking for some ideas for your gift list, Knitty has lots to offer!

The current issue has lots of excellent projects… mitts, socks, hats…  And our back issues have all sorts of great ideas.

For the men on your list

Dashing Mitts

Quick & easy!

The Cigar Mitts


The Swell hat

Swell indeed!

For the ladies

The Diversify Cowl

Warming and oh so very quick to knit.

“Just One More Row” legwarmers/wristwarmers



Branching Out

Quick and easy lace - really!

For the little ones

Baby Norgi


Seasonal and adorable.

 The Toddle Scarf


Baby Tart Hat


For the home

Mr. Popper the hot water bottle cover 

Just perfect.

A felted Mancala game set

Fun for the whole family!

A felted tea cozy

Hot drinks are an important part of my life!

For anyone and everyone

Marley’s Ghost scarf

To begin with...

The Stocking Cap


Matrix Mittens – in kids’ and adult sizes

Cheerful and warm!

The Paw Cozy – a mitten for dog walking

Brilliant solution to a common problem!