Monthly Archives: October 2012

WWW: Demonstrating proFISHcency; Knitted Village; Gratuitous adorable baby in adorable knitted Halloween costume photo alert!

We hope that all our friends and members of the Knitty family in the path of the storm are safe and dry. There are an awful lot of people without power still, but as of this morning the worst seems to be over, and we wish everyone a speedy return to normal.

High School senior Neilson Wong picks out his own fish hat.

The East Bay Knitters’ Group in California is making fish hats to gift to local high school students who achieve high marks on their state math exams. The program was started by Richmond High School math teacher Lisa Holmes. She had knitted herself a Fish Hat, and students loved it so much that some asked her to make them one. She made a deal: if you score a high mark on the math exam, you get a hat, commemorating your prof-FISH-ency. The program has grown beyond the school, and Lisa enlisted volunteer knitters through a local yarn shop, and over 100 fish hats were made and donated to be awarded to students. The students love the recognition, and the program has been an enormous success!

Some of the knitters and their creations.

Knitters in the village of Pirton, Hertfordshire UK are making a wooly model of their village. The work is amazingly detailed, and knitters report having to study the buildings to ensure they are getting the details right. So far, more than 24 buildings are complete, including 2 pubs, the village shop and the parish church.

Fab yarn-bombing in Tel Aviv – ‘tree cardigans’! 2012 is the year of art in Tel Aviv, and I love that this yarn-bombing is part of that. The project was initiated by local resident and member of the Tel Aviv city council Alona Arobas, as a way of presenting knitting as an art. The reactions of the passersby captured in the video are great.

In which a faintly reluctant travel journalist goes on a knitting retreat in Scotland and learns to love the needles…

Following up on our post from last week about Remembrance Poppies, some yarn shops are reporting a high demand for red yarn to make poppies. I also learned that although they are less common, Poppies are sold in the US.

Fifth- and sixth-grade knitters.

Students at an elementary school in Gaithersburg, Maryland have been knitting hats to donate to local charities. These sorts of in-school programs are wonderful, bringing craft to kids who might not otherwise be exposed to it. Many of these school knitters will keep up the craft, and go on to be the knitters and designers of the future.

Knitted Halloween costume, R2-tutu, spotted on Reddit. Trust me, if you like knitting, Star Wars, or adorable babies, you should click.

Spinning Tuesdays: The Problem with Spinning a Sweater’s Worth of Yarn

There’s a problem with knitting a sweater’s worth of yarn. No, it’s not knitting the sweater.

Now I only want to buy sweater quantities of fiber. For me, that’s around 2 pounds.

I went to the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo this past weekend with my fiber gang.

And I bought a sweater’s worth of fiber (I wasn’t the only one!) at Fiberstory.

I bought a pound each of these two colors, thinking to combine them.

Fiberstory fiber. Earthy tones = Terrain (100% Merino) Blue and earthy tones = Milo (75% BFL, 25% Tussah silk)

How do I chose colorways to combine. For me it’s a little instinct and I try to have one color similar between the colorways. Sometimes I twist the fibers together to get an idea.

Fibers stripped and twisted.

Yes, I stripped the fibers. This is another time that I monkey with my fibers. To see what colors look like together.

I will also strip or divide my fibers into at least quarters, or more ,to do combination/tandem/marl drafting. I get close to pencil roving/pointer finger in size.

Fiber stripped and ready to spin.

Let the spinning commence!

Fiber and yarn plied like with like.

Fiber and yarns, plied and combined.

In the yarns above, the top yarn is a single of each color plied together, the bottom yarn is both colors drafted together and plied together.

They look pretty similar, so I knit swatches.

Just plain they are lovely, but not quite what I want.

Yarns plied like with like and swatched. Milo left, Terrain right.

Combined in two different ways, I like the color play better.

Left: singles of each color plied together. Right: colors drafted together and plied together.

They look similar,but I think I like the speckles better in the combo drafting version better than the subtle striping in the plied sample.

Plied and combined.

I like the hand of the swatch when the fibers are more deeply combined, too. But because the the fibers behave differently when drafting, the marl drafted yarn is more uneven than I’d like it.

Uneven yarn, but I can fix it.

To fix it I would stack the two fibers (the yarn here I spun with the fibers side by side) and fluff the fibers just slightly horizontally, to help them grab each other.

Now to start spinning!


How much fiber do you buy when you’re shopping for dyed fiber? Socks (4oz), Shawl (8oz) or Sweater (poundage)?

WWW: Remembrance & Tradition

The winner of the Madbird project bag is Heather from Massachusetts. Thanks to Alecia at Madbird for providing the prize!

Knitters and textile artists in Scotland gathered last week to discuss and celebrate knitting’s recent resurgence in popularity and the positive effect it is having on Scotland’s tourism, fashion and other creative industries. We hope that this event, “Reinventing Scotland’s Woollen Tradition” held at the University of Glasgow’s School of Humanities, will be the first of many.

Members of the Ormskirk Rotary Club.

I am very sorry to have missed this! Three of my favorite things, all in one evening: a knitting-themed murder mystery night was held recently in Ormskirk, West Lancashire, to raise funds for the local “Hearing Dogs for the Deaf” charity. There were prized for the best woolly outfit, dog-shaped tea cozies, and cupcakes decorated to look like yarn and needles.

A great story on the JCrew website about choosing colors.

A powerful symbol.

In the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa (and other countries) Remembrance Poppies are worn to commemorate the lives of soldiers lost in war, in the days leading up to November 11th, Remembrance/Armistice Day. It is traditional to make a donation in exchange for one of these lapel badges, and the funds raised go towards supporting veterans’ causes. Two knitters in the UK are taking a slightly different approach: knitting and selling poppies, and donating the funds raised.

Friend of Knitty Laura Chau has published a pattern for a knitted poppy. No matter your feelings on armed conflict, there are members of the armed forces who are injured in service to their country, and need financial and emotional support as they recover.

Celebrity knitter alert: UK comedian Jo Brand is a knitter! (Warning: slightly salty language in the linked article.)

Spinning Tuesdays: Do you strip, predraft or fluff? I do.

I love to learn. I take lots of spinning classes and read as much as I can about spinning. Filling my brain with knowledge and my hands with skills is one of my favorite things, I’m an information packrat.

I’ve noticed a big item of contention among spinners and spinning teachers – predraftng. Predrafting includes striping, fluffing or attenuating commercially prepared fiber, to spin just a regular yarn, not a textured, fancy or art yarn.

Most of the time the sides are: always or never. My thoughts lie somewhere in between with, “it depends”.

I spin mostly commercially prepared fibers that are dyed by fiber artists in small batches.

There is nothing I love more than spinning a fluffy just shake and spin roving or top.  Shake and spin fibers are ones where I can do just that, pull them out of their braid or bag, give them a shake and spin away without a hitch or a clump.

I would say 30%-40% of the fibers I spin are shake and spin worthy. There are many factor that go into the fluffiness of a roving or top, including the quality of the roving or top before it’s dyed, how the fiber is handled when it’s dyed and dried, how the dyer stores it & how long it sits around as stash.

Sometimes fiber gets compacted, sometimes the fiber seems just too big, sometimes I want to alter the color, sometimes I just want to touch it before I spin. Depending on the fiber, the yarn I want and my mood – I almost always fluff, usually strip and occasionally predraft.

Why and when you ask?


I love to fluff my fiber. Fluffing is just pulling the top or roving horizontally, a little, just teasing it open.  I fluff fiber when it seems closed, maybe it sat squashed in my stash. I also fluff to get to know my fiber. As I fluff down the top or roving I notice any lumps,bumps or vm in the fiber (and remove them), study the color changes and decide if I want to strip the fiber.


Stripping is dividing fiber vertically. First let me say that I never strip my fiber to the size I want my yarn. Yes, I said never. If I strip to size there is no time or space to draft my fiber. Stripping to size only allows for adding twist. Drafting is what makes my yarn what I want it to be. I have to draft it forward to get the smooth of worsted and draaaaft it back to trap the air for woolen. It just doesn’t work for me when I strip fiber to the size I want my yarn.

I do usually strip my fiber to control bulk or color. By bulk, I mean, I just don’t want to hold the whole roving or top in my hand. Sometimes it just feels unwieldy, sometimes it makes my hands sweat. So I divide the fiber in half lengthwise and carry on.

With variegated tops or rovings I control color by stripping or not stripping in a couple of ways. If I want long color runs, I don’t strip and do my best to draft the fiber back and forth across the tip of the fiber like a typewriter. If I want shorter runs of color I will strip the fiber in half or more.

I like to combine colored tops and rovings by drafting 2 or 3 together at one time. To do this without losing my grip (or mind) I strip to a one or two-fingered width depending on how many I’m holding together.


I don’t attenuate often. I do this only when a fiber is compacted and just fluffing alone won’t turn it into a lovely, lofty fiber. For me attenuating tops or rovings is a lot like stripping to size – it removes the space for drafting. But when a  fiber is compacted, it can make the difference between fighting the fiber and happily spinning.


This week I had I fiber in my hand that I wanted to spin that had been squashed and compacted. Take a look at what I did.

Compacted and after fluffing and predrafting

This is a before and after. The fiber on the left is the before. If I had tried to spin this as is, I would have said a lot of words, none of them nice. The fiber isn’t felted, but it’s compacted and there would have been pushing and pulling and overtwisting while I tried to spin it. The fiber on the right has been fluffed and attenuated, slightly. A dream to spin. It looks like it’s taken a big breath of air.

fluff horizontally

First I fluffed it horizontally, all the way down. Sometimes this is enough. But this fiber is compacted enough that I can see each spot where I fluffed the fiber. It needs more work.

Slightly attenuated

Then I attenuated slightly. With my hands a staple length apart I pulled gently, just until the fluffing wibble-wobbles smooth out.

I know which one I want to spin

Here’s a different view of before and after. The predrafted top is fluffy and smooth, easy to spin and rescued from the wrath of a frustrated spinner.


When doo you fluff, strip or predraft your fiber?



Wovember! Are you ready?

(With apologies to Amy and all our wool-sensitive friends.)

I’m ready!

Wovember is the brilliant idea of knit designer Kate Davies and artist and crafter Felicity Ford. Established in 2011, it’s an annual, month-long-celebration of all things wooly.

Quoting from the website, “The idea is to show our collective appreciation of WOOL by wearing as much of this fabulous fibre as possible, and celebrating WOOL and its unique qualities in stories and pictures throughout the month of November. We hope that through our enthusiasm and creativity we can raise awareness of WHAT MAKES WOOL DIFFERENT, and jointly create a force for WOOL APPRECIATION strong enough to effect changes in how garments and textiles are described and marketed.”

And this isn’t just a knitter’s initiative. It’s about education on the environmental impacts, and supporting local farmers and small industry. It’s about driving changes to textile trading standards.

Get involved by wearing as much wool as possible throughout the month of Wovember, and telling everyone about the unique qualities of wool. Visit the project’s website for pictures and stories, and more information.

Do you have enough wool in your life to wear it every day in November? I know I do! For me, it’s a pair of wool socks (sometimes two if it’s very cold), a scarf when I go out, and I a usually wearing a wool long sleeve tshirt, too. (This sort of thing.) I also have a wool dress, jackets – and of course, mittens, hats and my hand-made garments.

Obsessing on Project Bags & a Madbird Giveaway!

I’ve been a knitter, off and on, for 20-some years and have only recently started using project bags. Of course, now I have bunches and I love them all.

Before I used project bags I used plastic zip bags, which would tear, needles would poke through and I always stuffed them too full to zip closed.

A small selection of my current project bags.

Project bags are fun. They come in bunches of patterns and sizes. They stay closed. Best of all they somehow make a pile of UFOs, like the one above, seem downright happy. I always felt such accusation from plastic zip bags.

I can also tag them.

Project tag on a project bag

Name of the project, needles size, anything I need to know to grab the right bag.  Another use for tags that I love, too.


For your own project bag obsession, we have a giveaway from Madbird.

Project Tote from Madbird

A Project Tote, gorgeous, no? I reviewed it in this current issue.

Alecia at Madbird has donated a Project Tote for a giveaway, winner’s choice of in-stock fabrics.

Prize value $34.

You know how it works: leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time,October 22nd. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the prize. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance.



WWW: Mulberry promotes the value of craft; the next generation; Nordic knitting eye-candy

You might recall us telling you about the Nordic Knitting Conference held earlier this month in Ballard, WA. A fab slideshow and report on the event. If this doesn’t put you in the mood to knit mittens, nothing will…

It’s great to see the work valued so highly.

As part of the Wool Week festivities in the UK last week, fashion label Mulberry launched a new item for the new season: a handknitted chunky scarf. What makes it special is that they have recruited knitters in the UK to make the scarves. I adore the video of interviews with some of the knitters who are doing the work: “they’re fairly easy to knit.. until you get to the pattern.” I want to hug these women.

Although the price of the scarf might seem absurd on one hand (£995), on the other hand, it’s good to see craft valued so highly, and I love that Mulberry is making their market aware of the work and love that goes into creating the items.

From the sheep to your needles

Terrible pun of the week: “Kath raises the baa with her wool”… a nice profile of knitter Kath Foster who, when forced to give up her career as a dental nurse, turned to raising sheep. Her business, Little Houndales Knits, is thriving, selling her own wool and other knitterly goodies.

The next generation

An 11-year-old boy in Vancouver, Canada, has received a grant to teach yarnbombing workshops in his neighborhood.Nathan Coburn has been crafting since he learned origami at the age of 6, although he picked up knitting 2 years ago when he read about yarnbombing: “I like how I can do something illegal and still get away with it.”

In addition to running workshops, he has a knitting blog, and he sells his work at his school, through his blog and at a lemonade stand in front of his home.

Quick Hits: It’s a DailyMail link, be warned, but I LOVE the sweater that UK TV personality Fearne Cotton is wearing in these pictures. Great yarn-bombing in Birmingham, Michigan. A yarn-bombed bike goes on display at Cambridge University.

Spinning Tuesdays: Enough Yarn for a Sweater

Finally I’ve spun and plied enough yarn for a sweater!

Southern Cross Fibres Falkland, color: Dirt.

This is about 1,000 yards of 13 w.p.i (DK-ish) Falkland 2-ply. There is 200 or so more yards on the ends of bobbins, still to be plied.

This is the first sweater’s worth I’ve ever spun, and it certainly won’t be the last.

I love the bits of blue.

I have pulled together enough fiber for three more sweaters from the stash – two will be mixy matchy, one is  natural colored Bond fiber. This one is going to be Tappen Zee, one of the others will be a version of Party Mix.

I’m hooked and can’t wait to set these skeins and start knitting. It’s a good thing I’m not going to Rhinebeck this weekend or I would come home with many, many sweaters to spin and knit.

To all of my fiber friends heading to Rhinebeck travel safely, take lots of pictures, buy lots of fiber and hug each other for me!



10th Anniversary Issue: WIPs & FOs

I must confess: I love stalking the patterns from the latest issue on Ravelry.

paulinespinksBFF cowl

Pauline and her BFF

liznight‘s fabulous Mr. Bluejeans

Love it!

kaete‘s Emmisha-Jay‘s hats – knitted for twins!

What a great baby gift!

teresat2t‘s beautiful – and beautifully photographed – Geschenk shawl.


Ruatha‘s Call Me Al socks.

Genius yarn choice.

onlylouise‘s perfect rainbow Stitch Surfer socks.

Can’t argue with those!

And shejoh‘s Uhlan Cap.


WWW: Wool Weeks, 1800 ft Scarf, I Love Yarn Day

The winner of our Springtree Road Navarre sock yarn giveaway is Diana from Massachusetts. Thanks to Maya of Springtree Road for the prize.

There is so much to love in this story: Mrs. Thomas, a knitter in Shropshire, UK, has completed a project to knit a 1,749ft scarf to stretch across a local beauty spot. The slideshow is tremendous – I particularly love the shot of the rolled up lengths of scarf. Insane!

The scarf was designed to bridge the chasm in Titterstone’s Clee Hill, a hill that was divided in two in the 1850s when it was mined and quarried for coal. The scarf is the first time that the chasm has been bridged since then.

The project took 18 months, and knitting groups from across the UK contributed.

I wish I could be there!

Our own Amy is in the UK at the moment, and she’s speaking Sunday October 21st at Armley Mills, Leeds Industrial Museum, as part of the Yorkshire Wool Week festivities. Tickets are still available, but they are going fast.

Yes, yes I do.

This Friday, October 12, the Craft Yarn Council of America’s official “I Love Yarn Day“. (I have to be honest, I celebrate this particular holiday every day of the year.)

A fun video of the team at Toronto LYS Lettuce Knit yarnbombing their fence. I enjoyed the befuddled looks on the faces of the passersby.

We are very pro-wool.

This week is Shetland Wool Week, part of the ongoing Campaign for Wool. Wool Week in the UK is marked next week. There are Wool Weeks in many countries around the world, but sadly not in Canada. I’m thinking we should start our own…

Celebrity knitter alert! Lauren Conrad is making a scarf for her boyfriend.


If you’re heading to Rhinebeck, and you’re not sure your sweater will be done in time, consider this t-shirt