Month: February 2012

WWW: Knitting on boats, at SXSW and the Oscars

A great way to spend a summer's day

Looking forward to summer here in North America: knitting cruises off the north eastern coast of the US! A company based in Maine is offering special knitting cruises, complete with instruction from Bill Huntington, owner of Hope Spinnery, and author Margaret Radcliffe.

Ms. Okey, publisher and knitterly goddess

Friend of Knitty, publisher Shannon Okey is speaking next month at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Her presentation “Knitting a Long Tail in Niche Publishing” discusses the vision and the business model of her Cooperative Press publishing company. Shannon will be talking about ways to increase creators’ revenue and buck the established publishing system, in light of larger publishers’ reluctance to take a chance on “niche” content.


Hand knit hats go to the Oscars! Knitter Sheri Hall of Minnesota, of Oops I Knit it Again! has had 100 of her hand-knit “Oscar the Slouch” hats included in swag bags for celebrities and at the Academy Awards. Listen right to the end of the video at the link above: it tells you how much Sheri is out of pocket for the opportunity to put her work in the hands of the glitterati. Wow.

A new play in Montreal, Annette (Une fin du monde en une nanoseconde) is using knitting and yarn as both props and metaphors. Although nominally about hockey – yarn balls are used in the place of hockey pucks – key moments in the play revolve around the role of knitting in the main character’s life. It begins with Annette running out of yarn, and jumping on her bicycle to get more… More information about the play and the creator, in French.

Nike announced last week their newest athletic shoe design: the Flyknit. The shoe uses state of the art knitting machines to knit the upper of the shoe in a single piece, for a light and seamless fit. Fascinating info about the design and uses of industrial knitting!

Indie dyer, Space Cadet Creations, offers a free downloadable PDF booklet on the topic of knitting and crocheting with hand-dyed yarns. A very useful little guide to different types of dyes and variegation and how they look worked up.

Miss Manners answers a question about the etiquette of knitting in public and how to handle nosy questions from the muggles.

Spinning Tuesdays: My Madrona Haul and What I’m Going to Do with It

I didn’t damage my wallet too badly at the Madrona marketplace and I tried to be mindful about what I bought.

My delight was finding vendors that I’d never known about and seeing vendors in person that I’ve only shopped on line.


My first stop was The Artful Ewe. Before you look, know that they don’t sell their batts on line.

I bought three gorgeous batts

Artful Ewe luxury fiber batt


This batt has baby alpaca, silk, cashmere, merino and BFL. After I bought it, I carried this batt around telling people to touch it. I’m thinking a fine-ish worsted spun to make something that touches my skin, a cowl or scarf or something.






Artful Ewe mixed wool batt - light blue


The light and dark blue batts have a mixture of wools and mohair.







Artful Ewe mixed wool batt - dark blue


I want to use them together for a shawl.







Dark blue yak roving


I found yak roving at the Artful Ewe too. I bought some for Amy because it’s on her list of ‘can spins’.






Jenkins Turkish Delight


I had one thing on my shopping list – a Jenkins Turkish Delight spindle. I fell in love with this one – it’s Oregon Myrtle and weighs 17gms. I bought it from Carolina Homespun.





Next I shopped at a favorite fiber dyer that I’ve never seen in person, Woolgatherings.

Woolgatherings mixed BFL


I love Kate’s color sense and frankly I resisted buying one of everything in her booth. Instead I bought two braids of the same colorway, because I love the intense light blue and orange together.

I have no idea what I’ll do with these. Maybe I have something that will go with it in my stash and will turn it into a vest or cardigan.








I bought a little yarn too, some Goth Socks and some Brooklyn Tweed Loft. I thought I was done. Except Saturday I was taking a last pass through the market and some fiber caught me. I petted, yet managed to walk away.

But then I dreamed about it, so I had to go back. One last dash to the marketplace right before I got on my shuttle to the airport.

Huckleberry Knits


Two braids, one polwarth and one BFL from Huckleberry Knits. I love the colors and the fiber is crazy-well prepared. I want to draft them together, woolen and chubby.






That’s it. I actually spent less than my budget, go figure.

I can’t wait to dig in and start spinning.








Knitting Goals: Update

And Kate’s Must Have Cardigan is done!

Very happy with the fit
Cabley goodness

A fun knit, and wasn’t actually a lot of work when I was focused on it.

I’m in two minds about the length… It seemed very short, and I would have made it longer if I’d had more yarn. I bought the yarn so long ago that there was no hope of matching the dye lot. But now it’s done, I’m very pleased with the length.

There is only one button on it for now, since I haven’t found precisely the right buttons. I’ve got my heart set on those classic leather buttons

The perfect buttons. Now to find them.



Jillian is knitting along on her third of six Knitty projects for the the year, Groove by Stephen West:

Groove in Madelinetosh DK

The first section is done! I love how the colors are playing out. The yarn is Madelinetosh DK in colors Clematis and Bark.

And Amy’s almost ready for the decrease rows on her Lanesplitter.


Bonus: cutting the cord

We cut a lot of cords in knitting [I’m pushing the metaphor here a little…], but this post isn’t about knitting. It’s about what some of us do while we knit.


Watch TV.


I don’t know about where you live, but where I live [Toronto, Canada], cable TV is expensive. I’m embarrassed to say that I was paying the ghastly sum of $130/month for cable — for all the basic channels, tons of stuff I never watched, but was packaged in with the movies + the actual HBO and movies. And that’s about average up here. Until a week ago. We cancelled the whole shebang, and aren’t looking back.


I have been talking to a lot of people about this lately, and some have already made the switch, some are thinking about it, and some don’t even know where to begin. I’m not going to make this a long post with all the details, but instead will make this full of pithy links to get you on the right track, if you’d rather spend your money on yarn and needles instead of cable tv.



Some good articles and forums to get you started:


Wall Street Journal

Digital Home’s Over The Air forum [for Canadian residents]

TVFool’s forum [US & Canada]

check your own home’s address to see what channels you might receive over the air [US & Canada]

interesting thread for Canadians who want Netflix, Hulu, etc


Here’s what we’re watching:

– Netflix [available in the US and Canada] at $8/month

free HD [digital] programming, pulled from the air with an antenna [see the links above for more information about how this works]

– many things on the network and cable channel websites



Here’s the equipment we chose:

Apple TV [this provides access to Netflix, some sports networks, You Tube and any video, audio and pictures you have on your home computer]

– alternatives to Apple TV include Boxee, Roku, Blu-Ray disc players with advanced features incorporated, many of the gaming consoles like Xbox, and lots of other devices. More are being introduced all the time. The key is what services they offer access to, and if they have a web browser built in or not. [With a web browser in your device, you can watch the stuff the networks make available on the web, but without having to sit at your computer.] We initially wanted the Boxee, but the reviews everywhere said the hardware wasn’t stable and needed rebooting daily, at least. We hear there’s a new Boxee being released…worth watching for.

this rooftop antenna [we tried an indoor antenna and found it almost as functional, but unsightly and a pain in the butt to have underfoot].

– our trusty 7-year-old Tivo Series 2 [the last Tivo model to work with antenna input, luckily!]. When I called to cancel the service [since we were cancelling cable, I didn’t think we’d use it anymore], they offered us a $99/lifetime deal since our Tivo will work just fine with the antenna.  We do love our Tivo, so we were happy they had an option for us. Several commenters tell me that current-model Tivos do work with antenna input so that’s good news!

– a Zinwell digital converter box [necessary if Tivo is to control the incoming channels in order to record it. Without the Tivo in the loop, we wouldn’t have needed this.]


What we’re missing:

– stuff on Food Network, Showtime, HBO…

and nothing else! We get all major networks, some weird channels that are antenna only [!] and more than enough to knit by. Much of the stuff we’re missing will eventually be available on Netflix, or can be watched online. There are tons of series on Netflix that I am dying to watch, and it’s all there for me to absorb at my own rate. I could probably spend a year alone in the Anime section!


Was the switch easy?


Nope. But it wasn’t hard, either. It’s just time consuming, researching your options and narrowing down choices. We’ve experimented with different converter boxes and antennas [though the rooftop antenna is a non-returnable item, so that one is gonna stay] until we got the best possible results.


The thing we miss most? The digital clock in our cable box…we have no other clock in the living room. Yeah, we can fix that.


I have barely covered the highlights here. I’d recommend you read the first two links and see if this sounds like it’s for you, and then dive into the forums and do your research. Don’t forget to check your postal or zip code for channel availability…no point in doing all this if you’ll only get a channel or two. Good luck!

WWW: Elephants, Llamas and Paris Fashion

Because everything looks better in llama

Llama Font: I don’t honestly think this needs any explanation or introduction. Just go, and say it in llama.

Cee Cee, knitter extraordinaire

A great story from rural Kentucky: an 8-year-old girl is knitting elephants for the victims of the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri last year. She and her family were unable to donate money to the Red Cross due to their own circumstances, but Cee Cee was moved enough by the stories of families of losing their homes that she wanted to show love and support in some way. So she did what could – she knitted. She knitted toy elephants to be given to children who have lost their homes. Knitters and others are donating money to the Red Cross for each elephant that Cee Cee has made. More info on Facebook.

Making a new yarn-bomber!

An arts group in Norcross, Georgia, is holding yarn-bombing workshops in preparation for a city-wide yarnbombing event to be held in March.

50 years of knitting: a video profile of Suzanne Hedderich Adams–LaLonde, a knitter in Sherrill, NY. A selection of her work – sweaters, scarves, mittens, socks, blankets and prayer shawls – is on display at the local library. So wonderful to see a knitter’s work valued this way.

Bringing a smile.

Late last Sunday night, Yarnbombers decorated a group of trees in Hackney, London, with the objective of bringing a smile to faces on a dreary Monday morning. Mission accomplished, I would say!

Sweaters with Swagger’: A feature on the knitwear in the collections of Paris-based fashion designer Rick Owen and others. Fab stuff!

And although not strictly about knitting, a fascinating article about color, designers and color theory from Imprint magazine, featured on Salon. Even if you don’t read the article, the images are fun and inspiring!

Spinning Tuesdays: Quick Madrona Recap

I just got back from the  Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat. I went with Sasha of the SpinDoctor podcast. It was just what I needed.

When you are lucky enough to work in a field that you love there are still some times when it becomes more work than love. Madrona reminded me how much I love knitting and spinning.

Here’s a quick little tour through my classes. I’ll show my shopping haul next week.



My first class was Photographing Your Fiber with Franklin

I was so engrossed in this class that I forgot to take a picture of Franklin teaching. Franklin gives his all when he teaches, then entire class didn’t move while he taught, no shuffling for coffee or the bathroom, we just soaked it all in.

I can show you this:

A photo of yarn I might have taken before Franklin's class - dull
A yarn photo after Franklin's class - bright!



My next class was EPS -Elizabeth Zimmermann’s EPS System Updated with Amy Detjen

Amy Detjen purple goddess

True confession time. I have never read any of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books. I know, I should turn in my best set of needles to the knitting police. I have skimmed and snacked in the books and even knit her patterns. But I have not sat down and figured out the EPS system. Amy explained it all. She did it with humor and diagrams and lots and lots of knitted examples. She knows so much about knitting, even her jokes teach you something.




On Friday I took a mini class Making the Most of Your Drumcarder with Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson and her beautiful batts

Because it was a short class it was all demonstration, but boy did I get a lot of ideas. Sarah showed how to blend colors on the drumcarder, how to make layered and striped batts, how to make art batts and how to keep your drum carder happy. The magic moment in this class for me was when she showed how to make roving by diz-ing off of the drum carder.



Friday afternoon I played Madrona hooky and went to the Museum of Glass

Part of the Glass Bridge that leads to the Museum of Glass

I also bought cupcakes for Sasha.



Saturday was a big fiber day for me.

The morning saw Hand Carding with Less Stress and More Fun with Carol Rhoades

Carding, carding, carding

For someone who love woolen spinning with all of my being I completely suck at hand carding. Carol actually fixed that.

I was horribly fumble fingered for 90% of the class then all of a sudden it came together and I was making decent rolags. I even made a cotton puni. I am adding get fabulous at hand carding to my list of goals for 2012.




The afternoon was all about Judith MacKenzie,  Yarns Recycled : Reuse and Reduce.

Cashmere sweater scraps carded with merino fiber

We learned about cashmere :-). We learned about unraveling and replying cashmere sweaters from thrift stores to make luscious new yarn. We learned about carding scraps and threads of cashmere and silk garments together with fiber to make really gorgeous textured yarns. Mostly we learned. When I take a class with Judith MacKenzie what the class description tells is only the tiniest fraction of what I learn. Every sidetrack, and aside is full of information. I always leave her classes especially full, in the best possible way.



Those were my classes. There was also a whole lot of goofing and knitting and a podcasting meetup. No one is a stranger at Madrona, everyone is welcoming and everyone is constantly knitting and spinning. It was bliss.


Being around so many creative people even for a few days, shifts your thinking.

You find yourself saying things like, “Wow, that would make a great colorway”

Herbal tea as a colorway



History: Wool Works

Changed my life.

Although I learned to knit when I was a kid, in the UK, I didn’t seriously pick up my needles until I finished University, in the early 1990s. It was the worst possible time in recent memory to take up knitting…. my knitting grandmother had recently died, all the yarn shops were closing, books and magazines were hard to come by, and there seemed to be so few other knitters around.


For a few years, I muddled through on my own, learning what I could from the few books I could find, buying yarn and patterns where I could find it, feeling totally isolated.


And then, one quiet day at the office, around 1997, my life changed: I found (The site is not longer being maintained, but there is a version of it available online here. You can also browse the site as it was in the past through the WayBack machine, here.)


The founder of Wool Works, the lovely Emily, was a knitter in a very similar position to me: she’d taken up the craft, and found herself struggling to locate resources and products and indeed other knitters. She was a subscriber to the email discussion group, the KnitList. She had a simple realization: the answers to many of her questions were in the archives, but there was no easy way to search them. So, using skills developed in her day job, she built a website. Seems obvious now, but this was a revolutionary thought in the mid 1990s.


For about 6 or 7 years in the 1990s and into the early 2000s, Wool Works was the online knitting resource. It wasn’t the only site, but it was the largest, and it was the most active. It had a section of tips & techniques, it had free patterns (notably, the KnitList Christmas gift exchange patterns), it had a gallery of finished projects, it had links out to other online knitting resources (knitters were starting to maintain personal sites, the forerunners of blogs). It had a spinning section, which seemed seriously radical to me  at the time (eating my words, as I look at the huge box of roving beside my desk), and a list of stores. The store list was particularly wonderful, as I was travelling on business a lot at the time.


I would not be the knitter I am without Wool Works. Wool Works let me know I was not alone.  Through Wool Works, I was able to learn more and expand my skills. Wool Works kept me interested and engaged in knitting when the rest of the world was less interested in it.


Thanks to Wool Works, I am a sock knitter. My first socks were knitted from a pattern published there: the legendary Joan Hamer’s socks. And indeed, I not only used Wool Works to find my first sock pattern, I used the store list to help me locate the yarn, and I used the tips and techniques section to help me with the heel turn.


As a knitter, I owe Emily a huge debt of gratitude for providing so much support and so many resources, perhaps most important of all, making me feel connected. Thanks Emily!

Obsession: awesome app!

my new friend.

Ask Jillian. This is my new obsession: Voxer.
It’s an app for iPhone and Android, and it allows you to have walkie-talkie-like conversations using your voice with your friends.
I boop Jillian to tell her something funny, or boop my sister to ask a question about our upcoming vacation. I’ve had the hub snoring next to me and had a conversation with the sister, whispering back and forth, after midnight. If you happen not to be near your phone when a message comes in, just tap it and it plays back.
It also does text messages and lets you send photos, but my favorite thing is the Walkie Talkie bit. LOVE IT.
It feels like a toy, but it’s damned handy. Free app, free to use. Do keep up on the updates — it’s already improved in stability considerably since I first found it about 3 weeks ago.

WWW: Problem Grandmothers, Knitting Prime Ministers and Extra Yarn

Wonder who’s actually writing these posts? There are three of us: Kate, Jillian and Amy. You can tell who wrote any specific post by looking at the top of the post itself next to the date, on the right. And if you want to send the post author a Twitter comment, you’ll find our Twitter addresses over there <– on the left sidebar below the Facebook  panel.
We love hearing from you!

Helping women take care of themselves.

Jimmy Beans Wool is leading an initiative, “Stitch Red“, to bring attention to heart disease, the #1 killer of women in the United States. The program is part of a broad campaign to help women understand risk factors and to encourage them to adopt healthier lifestyles for their long-term benefit.
Stitch Red is supported by a majority of manufacturers and vendors in the Needlearts industry who are creating unique “Stitch Red” products for which 5% of gross profits will benefit the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) in support of The Heart Truth®, a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease, sponsored by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Additionally, Jimmy Beans Wool has written a book, Knit Red, which features 30 celebrity designers sharing patterns and personal stories and will be released in June of 2012.

Generous and productive knitters!

A heartwarming profile of a knitting group in Calgary that is making dolls for children in Malawi. Since 2005, they have made over 10,000 dolls. The initiative is part of the work being done by Lifeline Malawi, a medical charity started by a Calgary physician. The dolls fufill a dual purpose: they are used as packing materials to protect medical supplies in shipping, and they are given to the children attending the Lifeline-run clinics, to bring some joy and smiles.

Annabelle and her sweater

The New York Times reviews a number of children’s picture books, including the beautifully illustrated “Extra Yarn“, about a little girl living in a monochrome world who discovers a box of brightly colored yarn, and learns to knit.

This truly amazing and highly amusing article from the archives of the Guardian in the UK is a must-read. The article, published in 1961, proudly touts the miracles of nylon yarns, reports that 2/3s of teenagers are knitters, but notes a disturbing trend of “problem grandmothers” who don’t knit.

Cam Dup travaille la laine.

A friends brings our attention to the fab blog of French textile designer Camille Dupuis, who is doing amazing things with wool and knitting. I particularly like the lion, but all her stuff is wonderful. (The blog is in French, but there is much to look at.)

And in other world news, Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister of Australia, is a knitter.

Spinning Tuesdays: Packing for Madrona or a Sidekick in a Suitcase

Tomorrow I leave for Madrona, the high holy fiber arts retreat/playtime.

I’ve saved money for two years to be able to go and I am quite excited, like the days before your birthday when you are 6, excited.

I’ll be there late Wednesday and I leave mid-day Sunday. So far I have packed 5 knitting projects and 2 spinning projects. I thin I’m a little light.


Here are the classes I’m taking:

  • Photographing your Fiber with Franklin
  • EPS System with Amy Detjen
  • Handcarding with Carol Rhoades
  • Recycled Yarn with Judith McKenzie

I have left Friday completely open, no classes – nothing, just playing/knitting/spinning time and shopping. Any tips on eating/playing/shopping in Tacoma are appreciated!


Did you notice I have a spinning class? That means I’ll have to take a wheel. So far, I’ve been a fan of the Schacht Sidekick as a travel wheel – it slides into tiny spaces when my car is packed.

But I really love this:

Sidekick in suitcase

That’s a 27″ Samsonite wheelie suitcase – look at all of the room left over. I can even bring clothes.

I borrowed the suitcase from Beth – the Sidekick Suitcase Saga is here on her blog.

Tune in next week for the Madrona report.