Monthly Archives: July 2012

Hats in Hot Weather; Giveaway

Several of my favorite things to do….

This is how I’ve been spending time of late… Yes, that’s right. I’m knitting hats. In the summer.

Hats are ideal summer knitting, for a number of reasons: they are small and very portable, easy to throw into your beach bag or suitcase. And hats are mostly plain and simple knitting, which means they are well suited to knitting in the car on a roadtrip, or by the soft light of an evening campfire, or while distracted talking to friends or enjoying a frosty beverage.

Yes, that’s right. Hats. Woolly hats. Several of them.

Hats are also excellent summer knitting because you know you will be ready the moment the weather takes a turn for the worse.

If you’re so inclined, we have a giveaway for you, for a pack of yarn to make the beautiful Anja Beret, from our First Fall issue.

The prize comprises 2 skeins of Quince & Co. Chickadee, with a value of $14.40.

Ready for cold weather in style!

The usual rules apply for our giveaway: Leave a comment on this post before midnight, eastern time, on Wednesday, August 1, 2012. A comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If s/he answers correctly s/he will win our prize. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance.

Thanks much to Quince & Co. for the prize.

All About The Roundtables

You’ve probably seen this link, and you might have been wondering what this “Roundtable” thing is all about…

A Yarn Roundtable is, to quote Amy, like a wine tasting, but with yarn.

About once a month, a team of adventurous knitters gets together (most often in Toronto at Amy’s LYS, The Purple Purl, but we have been known to take the show on the road) to play with yarn.

An excellent way to spend a Friday evening!

The purpose of the Roundtable is for knitters of all tastes and interests and skill levels to actually test out the yarn – knitting with it, not just looking at it in the skein – for a more complete review.  The results are published in Knitty. After all, we all know that you can’t always tell what a yarn is going to be like just by looking at it. For many things, the yarn needs to be actually knit: the stitch definition, fabric texture, and how the coloring looks. And so our knitters knit these yarns, and tell you what they discover and experience.

Our knitters knit, and then fill in the all important-form: how does it feel in the skein? how does it feel to work with? what does it look like knit up? what does it feel like knit up?. The most important question is the last: “what’s the one thing you couldn’t know about this yarn until you knit with it?

The all-important form.

Knitters make a small swatch with each of the yarns being sampled… Regular attendees keep their swatches, and are growing a rather eccentric but intriguing scarf…

Maureen’s Roundtable Swatch of Fabulousness

A special guest.

In addition, there is lively conversation (although talking about the yarns being sampled is forbidden, and we have been known to pelt offenders with gummi bears!), there are snacks (gummi bears leftover from the aforementioned pelting), and prizes!

We welcome new participants – and we love visitors from out of town! In the spring, we were lucky enough to be graced with the presence of the inimitable Lucy Neatby. Visit this page to sign up.

WWW: Woolly Weddings, Knitting the News, Something to Knit While Watching Sports?

The winner of the Longitudinal yarn pack is Rachael from East Chatham, NY. Thanks to Skacel for the prize!


Yarn shop owner Lydia Pears in the UK made her own wedding dress. ‘The dress is the hardest, and most important, garment I have ever made but I’m so glad I did it.’ It’s stunningly beautiful, out of what looks like a fab laceweight mohair. It took 4 months of knitting, and was clearly worth the effort.

Love it!

While we’re on the topic of woolly wedding dresses, have you seen this one? In 2009, sheepbreeder Louise Fairburn was married in a dress made from the locks of her favorite Lincoln Longwool sheep in her herd.

The city of Guelph in southwestern Ontario, Canada, has announced that it is organizing a yarn bomb art installation in St. George’s Square for September. The city is seeking knitters to participate, and donations of yarn and needles for those knitters.

“Zero Impact Global Art”

I Knit the News Today: Artist Ivano Vitali recycles newspaper by working strips into long thick strands which he then rolls into massive balls of ‘yarn’. Created without glue or scissors, these are themselves fabulous scupltures. But then he takes the yarn and knits and crochets with it! The artist’s website, in Italian. Thanks to paper blog Scissors and Paper Rock for bringing this to our attention.

Knit your own Olympian.

Still looking for a project to knit while watching the upcoming sporting events on television? Radio Times magazine publishes a pattern for a doll version of runner Usain Bolt, an excerpt from the book ‘Knitlympics: Knit Your Favourite Sports Star‘.

A drama in two letters: a letter to the editor from a resident of North Vancouver who is not enjoying the yarnbombing. And a reply from a knitter.

Quick hits: I adore the sweater dress in the picture on this article about the Benetton 2012 fall line. An audio interview with an Australian knitter, who proclaims the benefits of knitting as a stress-reducer. If you’re in the UK, watch this BBC program from 1976 on knitted fashions.

Spinning Tuesdays: What Do You Do with All of It?

A whole bunch of yarn

I’m starting to drown in handspun yarn. The photo above is just a portion of what I have squirreled away around my house.


I was never going to keep more than what the basket beneath that pile of yarn could hold, but, clever me, I positioned the basket in a corner so the yarn could climb the wall and still be technically in the basket.

I’m thinking I should just sort by weight and start knitting. All of my finished things will find their way to someone, right?

What do you do with all of your handspun?



TNNA Giveaway – Offhand Designs Bag!

You read that right.

Larissa from Offhand Designs has donated a beautiful Iris bag for a KnittyBlog Giveaway!

Iris from Offhand Designs

It was one of our favorite things from TNNA. You can read about it in our TNNA round up.

To win this beautiful Iris bag for yourself follow our usual rules.

Leave a comment on this post before midnight, eastern time, on Wednesday, July 25, 2012.
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, $110.
If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please give other knitters a chance

A huge thanks to Offhand Designs for making beautiful things and sharing one with a lucky Knitty reader!


Best KnittySpotting Ever?

Knitter and Doctor Who Fan Lisa Pinedo, made herself a really rather nice Bigger on the Inside shawl recently. And that shawl went on to very big things.


I’ll let Lisa tell the story herself…

“I originally made this for myself to wear to San Diego Comic-Con 2012. But while I was there, in line for the ticket drawing for the Doctor Who signing, and realized there was a chance I might actually MEET them, I made a spur of the moment decision to give the shawl to Karen Gillan as a going away present if I drew a winning ticket. I didn’t draw one 🙁 but my friend did!

I gave him the shawl to pass along while I waited in the front of the crowd watching the signing. When he got up to the table he gave her the shawl and pointed me out. I got a big smile and wave from both her and Arthur Darvill (I couldn’t see Matt Smith from my angle). One of the volunteers that was working the signing snapped a picture of Karen in the shawl with my friend’s camera.”


“I gotta say, it was a little tough parting with my shawl, but at least I can always make another one.”

Yes, that’s right. That’s Karen Gillan, the actor who plays Amy Pond, wearing the shawl. On behalf of all Doctor Who fans everywhere – and especially me – a massive thank you for making such a cool moment happen.

WWW: Fastest Knitter at a Lobster Festival, TTC Knitalong, Being Invisible?

The winner of our Stitch Red prize pack is Lori from Columbus, Ohio.

Thanks to Soho Publishing for providing the book, thanks to Berocco for providing the yarn pack for Norah Gaughan’s Cable Cardi… and most of all, thanks to Laura Zander for starting it all & reminding knitters to get up off of our bums!

Gold-medal caliber?

A knitter in the UK has created her own woolly version of the London Olympics, in her front garden. Suzanne Haggerty started knitting early in the year, and has created 30 figures with various sporting accessories. The slideshow is great, and I particularly love the swimming scenes.

The band The Savoy Ballroom puts the Knitters Curse to music… love the video, even if there’s an awful lot of crochet. Charming and catchy!

Image courtesy Torontoist/Glenna C.

Torontoist writes about last weekend’s TTC Knitalong. This festival of public transport knitting takes place every summer in Toronto. This year, 80 knitters participated, with proceeds going to the charity Sistering. Six teams of knitters travelled around Toronto, visiting many of the wonderful yarn shops, and enjoyed special sales, refreshments, prizes and general knitterly merriment.

The cow seems oddly nonplussed. Yes, yes, I know it’s a statue, but still…

Nice feature about a yarnbombing at the Orange County Fair. I loved the video!

Joy Kündig-Manning writes about her experiences knitting while travelling. Her perspective is interesting, as she is totally upfront about admitting that she knits infrequently, and poorly. Although I disagree with her statement that knitting isn’t sexy, I don’t disagree with her about sitting quietly with knitting in public can allow you to become an invisible observer to the world around you.

Implausible but wonderful crossover of the week: the UK animal rescue organization The Donkey Sanctuary in the UK is hosting knit nights. Inspired by this summer’s unseasonably rainy weather to provide indoor entertainments, the many knitters in the organization’s staff and supporters decided to put the event together.

Ravel-rouser? A knitter was the focus of police attention at the Occupy Wall Street protest at Zuccotti Park in New York. Marsha Spencer was told she couldn’t have a chair on the site, and was escorted off the site…

The 65th annual Maine Lobster Fest, being held August 2nd in Rockland, Maine, has added a new event: a fastest knitter contest! I would that think trying to eat lobster while knitting would slow you down…

Spinning Tuesdays: My Bobbin Winder & Fiber as a Fix

I’m a flighty spinner, a process spinner, a starter, a dabbler, a sampler – you get the picture. I fill up, or partially fill all of my bobbins pretty regularly. I’m also not a very even fiber divider or spinner, so I frequently have a fair amount of singles left on one bobbin after plying. I need my bobbins but I don’t just want to trash the leftover singles. My answer to this dilemma is storage bobbins.


I recently used some store credit I had on a bobbin winder and I love it. I got a Schacht.

Schacht bobbin winder

I use cardboard storage bobbins that are less than $20 for a bag of 10.


Cardboard spools

I wind off  lonely or leftover singles to use for blending or textured yarns. The cardboard bobbins are great because they are cheap (!) and I can write notes on them – twist direction, fiber, etc.

One hiccup I had at the beginning is the bobbins are too big for the bobbin winder. My fix? Fiber to the rescue!  Using a little fiber on the inside of a bobbin makes it fit perfectly.

Using a little top to make the bobbin fit

Put a finger sized bit of fiber on the end of the bobbin winder shaft and push the too-big bobbin on over it. The fiber fills up the space between the bobbin winder shaft and the bobbin.

When I wind a bunch of bobbins at once I find I have to replace the bit of fiber because it compacts and doesn’t hold the bobbin anymore.


The fiber stuffing trick works great on my niddy noddy too. I have one that is particularly susceptible to weather changes, when the weather gets cooler, even too much air conditioning and the arm falls off while I am winding. I stuff a little fiber in the hole in the arm and the niddy noddy shaft fits tightly once again!

Niddy noddy fix

Foot Sizing Survey Results; Contest!

Last year, I ran an email survey: I asked knitters to measure the feet of their friends and family, asking for the following data:

The key data points

I got nearly 400 replies, providing meaningful data for foot lengths 8.5-11 inches, foot circumferences 8 to 11 inches.

Disclaimer: although I received replies from all over the world, most of the data I received was from North American knitters. I received more data for women’s feet than men’s. There is inherent risk in getting respondents to take their own measurements: I have to trust that they measured in the right place. I don’t claim that this represents every foot in the world, and I don’t believe it should be taken as the final answer on foot size. What this represents is simple: 400 of your best knitter friends offering up measurements of their own feet to help you better understand how to choose a sock size and how to better design sock patterns.


Note: when I mention foot circumference, I mean around the ball of the foot.

I found some interesting results – some confirming what we felt we knew, as sock knitters, others rather surprising.

-In the vast majority of cases, ankle circumference is the same as the foot circumference. The foot circumference is either the same or larger (never smaller), and if larger only by about 5%.

-And there is a remarkable correlation between foot length & foot circumference: foot circumference, on average is about 95% of foot length.

-Gusset circumference on average is larger than foot circumference by 10%. (It turns out that I have a high arch!)

-Heel diagonal about 35% larger than foot circumference, 25% larger than gusset circumference.

-The calf circumference question was an interesting one… lots of respondents questioned why I was asking this. In many cases, 6 inches up from the floor isn’t that far up the sock leg – certainly nowhere near full sock leg length. And this was the point of the question! A standard leg (if such a thing exists) does indeed get wider about 6 to 8 inches up from the top of the heel, where the calf muscles start to curve out – which is also the usual length of a sock leg. But the majority of calf-length sock patterns keep the sock circumference the same – that is, they are assuming that the sock leg doesn’t need any increases to fit comfortably below that calf curve. However, what I learned was that in nearly 50% of cases, there’s a significant increases in leg circumference just up from the ankle.
– Calf circumference 6 inches up from the ground 12% larger on average but there was a huge variance in this – for some, up to twice to size. For 15% of respondents, it’s the same or smaller; 40% it’s 1-10% larger than ankle; for 30% it’s 10-20% larger; for 18% it’s even larger.

This particular data point was known to me before I started the survey: in fact, it was why I started the survey. Looking at men’s and women’s shoe sizes individually, the difference between the largest and smallest common sizes (e.g. women’s size 5 to 11 and men’s size 6 to 12), there’s a 25% difference in both length and foot circumference. That is, a women’s size 11 shoe is over 20% larger in both width and length than a women’s size 5 shoe; and the same difference exists for men’s size 12 compared against men’s size 6.

Although knit fabric does stretch, you can’t expect one size sock to fit that range of sizes with equal comfort, and to look equally good.

Rather remarkably, you can guess the rest of the foot measurements based on one: as long as you have foot length, ankle circumference or foot circumference you’re good.

If you have foot length:

Foot circumference, ankle circumference = foot length * 1.05.

Gusset circumference = foot length * 1.16

If you have foot or ankle circumference:

Foot length = foot/ankle circumference * .95

Gusset circumference = foot/ankle circumference * 1.10

I do recommend you look for sock patterns that come in multiple sizes, and choose the size carefully. Remember that a sock is best worn with about 10% negative ease. Your feet will be happier for it.


  • Socks should be sized!
  • It is safe to assume that foot circumference = ankle circumference. You can also use foot circumference as rough guide for foot length, as in the formulas above.
  • Design with a gusset or expanded heel for better fit: If you’re adding a gusset, make it at least 10% larger; if you’re working without a gusset, ensure the heel provides 25%-35% extra circumference.
  • Allow for larger calves; consider providing suggestions on how to size for larger legs.

I have sliced it two ways: by foot length, reflecting how shoes are sized and how non-knitters tend to think of their feet, and by foot circumference, reflecting how knitters usually think of feet. The numbers are the average of the reported results.

Note: I’m not making any statement here about shoe size, as it’s not an absolute or reliable measurement: I found that for any given shoe size, the reported foot length varied by on average 13%. There several reasons for this: shoe size varies depending on manufacturer (I wear a size 6 in some brands, a 6.5 in others, and a 7 in some others); those with wider feet will more often choose a larger shoe size due to its added width (since relatively few shoe brands provide wide sizes), and shoe size will vary wildly from style to style, and whether a shoe is worn with socks (and handknit vs. storebought socks at that). Just because you buy a size 8 shoe doesn’t mean that you have a size 8 foot!

By foot length.

By foot circumference.

I hope this is useful to you! If you have thoughts, comments or additional questions, least let us know.

Bet you wanna knit these….

As a reward for reading this far, we have a contest! We’re giving away a pack of 2 skeins of Zauberball to make the excellent and innovative Longitudinal Socks. (That’s enough yarn to make 1 pair of the largest size, or a couple of pairs of the smaller sizes!) Value of the prize is $42. Our usual contest rules apply: leave a comment on this post by midnight EST Wednesday July 18th to be eligible to win. If you’ve won a giveaway in the last year, please give other knitters a chance. Thanks to the Skacel Collection for the prize.

Obsession: Good Health. The Stitch Red Project

With patterns from many of your favorite designers

Stitch Red is a nationwide campaign in the US that raises awareness about heart disease, the #1 killer of women in the United States. Manufacturers and designers in the Needlearts industry are creating and selling Stitch Red products to benefit the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in support of The Heart Truth. Yarn shops are carrying these products and hosting Stitch Red events to raise funds for heart disease awareness.

Yarn retailer Jimmy Beans Wool is leading the charge, and they recently released the book Knit Red, which features 30 red, heart health-inspired patterns and personal stories from industry greats.

The team at Jimmy Beans Wool was inspired by the experiences of some friends and family members, including  sales rep Marta McGinnis who had  survived a major heart attack. Marta was a key member of the team developing the campaign, but she sadly passed away in 2008, and never saw the results of her work.

The main goal of the campaign is to spread hearth health awareness nationwide –  and maybe even internationally. Heart disease has been traditionally considered a men’s issue, and it’s critical than women are aware of it and how it affects them. Heart disease is most common in women ages 55 and older, but it can affect younger women. It’s never too early to know the risks of heart disease so young knitters can start preventing and controlling the risks.

Launched this year, the campaign will be ongoing, and spread beyond knitting: the bok Sew Read is being published in February 2013, just in time for American Heart Month, and the goal is to get the sewing community as involved as the needlearts community has been!

Although the campaign is primarily about information and awareness, all of the manufacturers/designers have partnered with The Heart Truth and pledged to donate at least 5% of gross profits of their Stitch Red products.  Knitters can get involved by purchasing Stitch Red products, and by helping ensure that knitters get involved in the conversation.

I talked to Laura Zander of Jimmy Beans Wool and author of the Stitch Red book, about the campaign. I asked her if she has changed anything in her own life since she’s got involved in the project:

“I’m already pretty active- I have a three year old son who keeps me running around! I have made a commitment to myself to eat one piece of fruit per day. If I’m honest with myself (sigh), I have to admit that I’m always finding excuses to eat chips and fatty stuff instead of fruits and vegetables. I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I’m just challenging myself to make 1 small change at a time. Once I’ve made eating 1 piece of fruit a part of my lifestyle, then I’ll take the next step (2 pieces?! Oh my!). On a more general level, I’ve just started being more aware of the signs and symptoms and am committed to not ignoring things about my body that seem out of whack.”

Laura’s parting words are wise – that we should all take care of ourselves:

“Make a conscious effort to eat healthy, exercise (even going for a walk counts), and pay attention to your body.”


We are giving away a prize – a copy of the book, courtesy of Soho Publishing, and a yarn pack to knit Norah Gaughan’s fab Cable Cardi, courtesy Berroco Yarns. The value of the prize pack is $75.95.

There will be one winner. Our usual contest rules apply, leave a comment on this post by midnight EST Monday July 16th to be eligible to win. If you’ve won a giveaway in the last year, please give other knitters a chance.