Month: March 2012

WWW: Cowichan Sweaters, Super Sweaters, Giveaway!

Because we love our readers, we have a bonus for you today! We’re giving away three sets of Sajou Eiffel Tower scissors and a wooden tape measure.


The scissors are a replica of a model that dates from the end of the 19th century, and is a celebration of the construction of the Eiffel Tower at the Universal Exhibition of 1889. They are hand-made in a small French shop.

A fabulous addition to any knitter's toolkit.

The tape measure is reproduction of a traditional small wooden tape measure.

Thanks to BagSmith/Sajou for this fabulous prize. Value is $104/set.

Post a comment by the end of the day Friday March 30th to be entered to win.

Image courtesy Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

The traditional Cowichan sweaters, originated by the Coast Salish peoples of Western Canada, have been recognized by the Canadian government as an object of national historic significance. This article from the Globe and Mail profiles a knitter, May Sam, who has been making these sweaters for decades. This piece from a local newspaper gives more detail and history on the garments.

A fabulous place to knit!

Check your calendars! The Icelandic knitting magazine Lopi og band has announced the details for the Nordic knitting conference Gavstrik 2012. The conference, with the theme of “Icelandic knitting – past and present”, runs August 6-11 this year. This conference is held every year in different a small town or village in the Nordic countries, and this year’s event in Iceland promises to be fascinating and engaging. The schedule of events, classes and lectures looks amazing. More information about the event here. Gavstrik is a grassroots organization of knitting professionals and enthusiasts founded over 20 years ago.

I want this sweater!

Super Sweaters! Artist Hanie Mohd decided that the superladies featured in DC Comics universe of Superheroes looked a little cold in some of their outfits, so she designed sweaters for them.

Workers from Toronto Public Library System, an organization in the throes of labor issues, is hosting a knit-in at Toronto’s City hall today.

A nice little piece about knitter Loani Prior, who reinvented herself as an internationally recognized expert on tea cozies.

The knitter with some of her work.

Tina Selby of Wales is leading a campaign to knit warm hats for UK military personnel stationed in Afghanistan. She’s sent over 5,000 hats (each packaged with a chocolate bar), and expects to ship off another 2,000 for the start of next winter.

Spinning Tuesdays: I Have an Art Batt Problem and April’s Spinning Plan

I love art batts, both the sexy smooth and the everything but the kitchen sink kinds. As I was going through stash to make my spinning plans I discovered a bunch of Bricolage Fiber Studio batts.

A bunch of batts












Instead of just petting them, I looked at them with the intention of spinning and knitting ideas. I know I want to corespin them.

These I want to make into a shawl:

These for a corespun shawl















This one and another with the same blue I want to incorporate into a mill spun yarn sweater:

An accent for Cascade 220












I am happy with both of those plans and excited to see how it all comes together.



I am also happy with the bigger plan I made for my spinning. I planned just for the month of April, because two months worth seemed over whelming and I found myself writing down impossible plans for May because it seems so far away.

For April deadline spinning I will spin:

  • Fiber Fiesta for the next issue of Knittyspin
  • Samples for the Spin Art SAL on SpinDoctor, the rest of the singles yarns
  • The yarn for the Spunky Eclectic blue shawl I have in my head, worsted spun
Blue shawl swatch












For April non deadline spinning I will:

  • Practice worsted spinning (for the blue shawl above, also a 2012 spinning goal)
  • Practice hand carding (from Carol Rhoades Madrona class)
  • Try dizzing from my drum carder (from Sarah Anderson’s Madrona class)
  • Spin and write a pattern for easy mittens and hats using handspun for holiday gifts
  • Ponder all the bits for teaching a knitting with handspun class
  • Spin three things for just spinning

All completely doable. Just figuring it out and writing it down released so much spinning stress for me that I sat down and turned these:

Huckleberry Knits fibers













into this:

Huckleberry Knits yarn


Insight into a Knitty Design: The Tootsie Socks

Designer Lara Neel has written a blog post giving some fascinating insight into her design process for the lovely Tootsie socks from our recent Spring & Summer issue.


Specifically, she talks about the inspiration for the clever afterthought heel

We love this!

Lara provides a fab and very helpful photo tutorial on the construction of the heel.

Very helpful.

If you’re interested in knitting this design, I definitely encourage you to check it out.

OnlyLouisehas already completed hers, and they are brilliant!


WWW: “All About Sweaters” radio show, Updating the Cowichan sweaters, Olympic Yarnbomb update

Sweater stories, large and small.

Canada’s CBC radio featured an episode of the show “Definitely Not the Opera” all about sweaters. An hour and a half of wonderful radio about the significance of sweaters in the lives of various people around the world…. she interviews a Holocaust survivor whose sweater became a security blanket, she speaks to knitter making sweaters for penguins, and learns about the origins of the iconic Cowichan sweater. Bonus Canadiana points for a discussion about Roch Carrier’s famous children’s book, The Hockey Sweater and playing Stompin’ Tom’s song “The Hockey Sweater”. Listen to the show on the CBC radio page, or as a Podcast downloadable from iTunes.

Classic yet modern.

Once you’ve learned about the classic Cowichan sweaters, read this article about a small knitwear design company, West Saanich Woolworks, updating the Cowichan designs through fusing them with Fair Isle techniques. There’s some really lovely sweaters available for purchase – I can’t wait to see the pattern book that’s mentioned!

Cuddly, warm and GIANT!

Intrepid knitter Laura knits a “Gigantico” blanket with unspun wool roving and 1 12/ inch PVC pipe for knitting needles.

Her blog has details on the project and a fun time-elapse video of the knitting process, and she’s made the pattern/tutorial available for sale on Ravelry.

An update on the Olympic yarnbomb I mentioned last week. Sadly, over the weekend, vandals attacked the installation. The good news is that work has already begun to repair it.

Love this: a university student in the UK has been awarded a bursary to teach primary school children about knitting.

A fun little video interview from the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day: a knitting teacher talks to the muggles about Irish knitting on local TV.

A favorite cause of mine: supporting organizations who take care of and rehome dogs and cats… Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has published a pattern for a comfort blanket you can knit for a dog living in a shelter. If you’re not in the UK, knit a blanket and donate it to a shelter near you.

Spinning Tuesdays: How Do You Plan for Spinning?

I make a lot of plans. I like to plan. I even have a job where I help other people make plans. When I plan and do it right I find I have a whole lot more time to do other things, and I find I work more creatively all around. For me a plan is nothing more than a map of where I want to go, what I want to get done.


What to spin?


I haven’t been planning for spinning, so I’m not getting as much done as I’d like to. Part of my problem is that I want my spinning to live in the land of spontaneity, to only spin when I’m moved to spin, 100% inspiration. Nice thought, but that’s not how to get lots of things accomplished.








When will have time?


The other part of my problem is what happens when something you love becomes your job. Yes, it is wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for any other job, but it is still work. With work, for me, comes a certain bratty stubbornness on some days that says, “I don’t wanna” and a certain amount of procrastination. I know it’s silly, but there it is.


I am determined to get get a hold of my spinning and get more done.

So I’m going to plan for my spinning.



Enough fiber to make a yurt

My spinning has two categories right now:

Deadline spinning – spinning for Knittyspin, spinning for this blog, spinning for SpinDoctor, spinning to knit for patterns.

Non-ish Deadline Spinning – spinning for 2012 Goals, practicing things I’ve learned in classes, holiday gift spinning, spinning for classes I want to teach and general experimenting.

This week I’m going to decide what I’m going to spin for April and May, leaving wiggle room for emergency deadlines and just play spinning.


What will I make?


The what and the date due for Deadline Spinning are pretty much set, but the when is what I need to focus on, giving myself more time than I usually do to spin with intention. All is up for grabs for Non Deadline Spinning, but I need to limit myself here on the what or I’ll feel overwhelmed by what is supposed to be relaxing and fun.

It may sound really restricting to plan like this, but for me it’s very freeing. I don’t constantly have to remember deadlines and I know what my next choices are. Because there are always choices.




Where do I start?

Remember I think about all of this like using a map* on a road trip. I know where I want to get and by when, Deadline Spinning is strictly interstate driving and Non Deadline Spinning is blue highway driving, maybe even some dirt roads. Everything that happens between start and finish is the fun part.






How to you plan to get spinning done?


* I still use maps for everything. I have a GPS, but I argue with it – not enough options and not a big enough picture.

WWW: Olympic Yarnbombing, Scholarships for Crafters, and Bees!

How good is this?!

A slideshow of an exceptionally good Olympic-themed Yarnbomb in the UK.

More info about the Mystery Knitter responsible for this masterpiece in an article from the Ottawa Citizen.

Love it!

Less mysterious, but just as wonderful: an elementary school in Fairbanks, Alaska yarnbombed the railings outside their school for an art project. Teacher Paula Brink-Hart has been incorporating knitting into her classes for years, and inspired by a student’s presentation about a local yarnbombing, she decided to create an outdoor installation for the school. A group of fourth, fifth and sixth graders created a cozy for the 128ft railing outside the school.

"You are my sunshine"

Beautiful yarn for a very good cause. Three Irish Girls have released a limited edition colorway “You Are My Sunshine” in honor of a customer and friend who lost her baby. In their words, the colorway “symbolizes the storm of emotions felt by families who are impacted by the loss of a baby, with deep grays, violets, greens, and browns that are chased with glimpses of sunshine and the return of bluer skies.”

It will be available only until March 15th, so shop soon! 20% of the sales price will be donated to Share, a not-for-profit organization that provides support and resources to families who have lost a baby.

Oh no! Not the bees!

On the nerd’s favorite blog, BoingBoing, an entry about a knitter who had to make 50 life-sized bees as part of a commission for an art gallery. Click through to her blog for more amazing photos.
(Please forgive the terrible Nicholas Cage quote; I couldn’t resist.)

Great to see the news of the “Beans for Brains” scholarship spreading through the “regular” media. Every year, yarn retailer Jimmy Beans offers a scholarship to young crafters for post-secondary study. Five awards of $2,250 are available for students across the US, provided by Jimmy Beans and other generous sponsors. More information on the program and how to apply here.

Spinning Tuesdays: The Original Fractal Spinning, Spinning Tornadoes.

A few Knittyspin readers have pointed out  that I forgot to include an attribution to the original source on fractal spinning in Alex Tinsley’s article, Fractal Spinning in our Winter 2011B issue.

The original article and first use of the term fractal spinning occurred in the Summer 2007 issue of Spin Off , The Fractal Stripe by Janel Laidman. Not only is Janel the mother of Fractal Spinning, but she can make any painted roving or top bend to her will. You can buy a digital download of all of the 2007 and 2008 issues of Spin Off here.

It was an oversight, I apologize to Janel for not catching it and give great thanks to the readers who noticed and let me know.


What’s on my wheel:

I’ve been spinning around Jacey Boggs’  most excellent book, Spin Art, for the SpinDoctor Spin Art SAL.

I played with spinning Tornadoes this week. Here’s one I really like.

I took this:

Tornado fixin's















Some Spunky Eclectic merino, a 2-ply silk, Kid Silk Haze and two sparkly threads.

What I love about spinning textured or art yarns is that it makes me really pay attention, since I’m spinning with motions I’d never use otherwise. With Tornado spinning you loosely apply the 3 or 4 extra yarns/threads at a 90 degree angle to a stripping down roving or top while adding twist.

Finding the balance between twist and pull in was maddening in the best possible way. I kind of like the frustration of learning some thing new. Anything the breaks me out of my usual spinning style, makes me a better spinner.

Here’s the finished yarn:




















Tornado, a little closer














What are you spinning this week?

Godzilla Ridge?

Best project ever?

Godzilla is a giant lizard, yes?
I am rather a fan of the Lizard Ridge blanket. It’s the FO I’d save from a house fire. As a rabid lover of Noro, I believe it’s a masterwork, using 24 different colorways of my beloved Kureyon.
And remember I said that I hadn’t figured out what to do with that bag of Noro Hitsuji, the new-ish bulky weight Noro yarn?


Well, thanks to Jennifer at The Purple Purl, I think I found the answer: a Godzilla Ridge!
If you work the Lizard Ridge square pattern almost exactly as written (skipping the very first and very last rows of the square, as the yardage is a bit tight) on 8mm needles with the Hitsuji, you get a square that is about 18 inches across. (If worked in the yarn as written, the squares are 10 inches across.)
6 squares will make a blanket that is 36 inches wide and 54 inches long, not that much smaller than the original 42 x 64 inch 24-square version.


WWW: 2 Million Strong; Woolly Festivals; Celebrity Knitter Alert; Tanis Winner

More of us every day!

Millions of congratulations to our friends at Ravelry, who have just hit 2,000,000 users.

A thought-provoking piece on the Guardian. The author ponders knitting as a way to ‘escape from the crushing relationship’ she had with retail clothes shopping.

Sheepy fun for all

Planning ahead: the details of British Wool Weekend 2012 have just been announced. Held September 1st & 2nd in Harrogate, Yorkshire, it promises to be an excellent weekend celebrating all things woolly.

Of course, if you’re on this side of the Atlantic, the Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Festival  (a.k.a Rhinebeck) is held October 20 & 21st.

Have you seen the Knitter’s Reader’s Choice poll on Vote for your favorite knitting website, needles, designer, yarn company, and your favorite book published in 2011.

Worth a visit, in person or virtually.

One of my favorite knitting websites is the Victoria & Albert Museum Knitting collection. The site is remarkably extensive, featuring wonderful photographs of fabulous items in their knitting collection, interviews and articles. Some of the items date back to the 16th century (and a couple even earlier than that).

Celebrity knitter alert: Catherine Zeta Jones is one of us!

Congratulations to Julie V. in Missouri, she won the Tanis Fiber Arts Velvet Morning Giveaway! A huge thank you to Tanis for providing this generous prize.

Spinning Tuesdays: Color Blending Fail?


I’ve been spinning, but not a lot. I finished a 2-ply, color blending experiment with some Yarn Hollow roving.

2 colors of Yarn Hollow roving blended on one bobbin













After I spun the second bobbin I was sure the resulting yarn would look really crappy, too contrasty, just like I don’t like. I almost pulled the yarn off of the bobbins and gave up on it.

These don't look blended at all













I will admit I had problems spinning these rovings they were more compacted than usual and really didn’t want to draft together. I’m sure my spinning clouded my judgement because look at the resulting yarn

Blended just fine











It looks blended, not too contrasty at all.  I’m glad I didn’t give up.



I plied some Bricolage Studios handpulled roving with sparkly thread. I love the sparkly it cuts through the meatiness of the single. I got the super sparkly thread from Threadart.

I can’t get a good photo of it from a distance, but here’s a close up














The new SpinDoctor Podcast is up. Sasha and I report from Madrona, we are excited and silly.


What are you spinning this week?