Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Designers Write: On Darrowby and The Sallah Cowl

The designers of two of the designs from the latest issue have written helpful blog posts about their patterns.

Bristol Ivy, the designer of the lovely – and brilliantly clever – Sallah Cowl provides some hints and tips on the project, including details on how to properly measure.

I adore the fabric of this cowl – and so clever in the way it’s worked.

The Tsock Tsarina shamelessly panders to me with a serious of out-takes from the Darrowby photo sessions – tons of adorable dog photos!

Beautiful! (Nice sweater, too!)

The Tsarina also provides some excellent additional detail on the design, including a very helpful “superstructure roadmap” diagram.

(And she also says something rather nice about me, which is totally unnecessary but very much appreciated.)

WWW: Giving

Knitters all over the world are participating in initiatives to bring some love and support to the residents of Newtown, Connecticut, and the survivors of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school.

The “600 Monsters” group is aiming to provide a homemade stuffed animal to each of the students at the school, and all the children and siblings of the victims. The Ravelry group can be found here, Facebook page here..

Helping the way we know best.

Sharon of the Three Irish Girls yarn company has started a double campaign. She has developed a pair of limited edition colourways – Love Wins and The Giving Tree – that they are selling to raise funds to be donated to the families of the victims. In addition, she’s kicking off an initiative to knit blankets to comfort the grieving. Ravelry group here, Facebook page here. 



For over 30 years, staff at the Ela Public Library in Lake Zurich, Illinois, have decorated a “mitten tree”. The tree holds hats, mittens and scarves that are knitted by staff and friends of the library, and at the end of the holiday season, the decorations are donated to local shelters  and charitable causes.

Giving warmth.

85-year old Alice Minthorn of Jenison, Michigan, knits mittens for donation to charity. Her family estimates she has made “thousands” over the years, since she taught herself to knit at the age of 16, and is still going strong nearly 70 years later. She’s still using a pattern book she bought for 10 cents, the year that she started knitting.

From Alice’s hands to the hands of the needy.

A group of knitters at a retirement home in Coon Rapids, Minnesota have created over 250 hats – and a few scarves – to donate to local residents in need.

Created with love.

A group of knitters in Tulsa Oklahoma makes hats and scarves every year to donate to needy students. Over 1400 hat and scarf sets were made this year, and those not needed by students will be donated to the homeless in the area.

Sharing and caring.

WWW: Wrapping; Sherlock Fans love Sami’s hat; memoirs of an early 20th century knitter

I mean, seriously. Adorable. Photo Sharlyne Slassi/The Guardian

I adore these: tiny little sweaters, designed as cozies for hard-boiled eggs, but I think they’d make lovely decorations. A miniature aran sweater! Free patterns published on the Guardian website.

Just perfect.

Printable gift wrap – ostensibly cross stitch designs, but they look remarkably like Fair Isle charts to me.

Last Friday in the UK was “Christmas Jumper Day” – people were encouraged to wear their most festive (or silly… or both) sweaters and make donations to the Save the Children charity. The Guardian has a slide show of some really good ones. What’s great about them is that a pleasing number are hand-made: many hand-knit, but several are also clever customizations of store-bought sweaters. Excellent use of pom-poms, too!

Glad that others love it, too!

I love that the discussion boards for fans of the BBC TV series Sherlock have noticed the 221B hat pattern in the most recent issue of Knitty. Did you know that this fab hat is the first pattern ever created by 15-year-old Sami?

A fabulous way to raise funds.

Malaysian-Chinese singer-songwriter Gary Chaw and Chinese actress Karena Lam Ka-yan are promoting a program run by the South Chinese Save the Children Fund. The group is selling a kit that includes yarn, needles and instructions to knit a hat to be donated to Nepali children, and proceeds from the sales of the kit will go to support underprivileged children.

Insights into a life long ago: Kenny Brown, resident of Cornwall, UK, has published his mother’s memoirs: The Ways And Life Of The Old Newlyn: Fishermen, Wives And Their Families by Blanche Harvey Brown. Blanche was born in 1906, and tells of her life in a small Cornwall fishing village. Knitting played a huge role in life when she was young, and it’s fascinating to hear a first person account of a way of life so different from our own.

We have winners! Krystina, Sheena and Mary are our winners of our Knitty Anniversary Yarn Giveaway.

Knitty anniversary yarns

Knitty anniversary yarns

A huge thanks to Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Indigodragonfly and Lisa Souza for creating and donating these beautiful yarns!

Spinning Tuesdays: Holiday Preperations Have Been Hijacked

I am so taken with the Wanderlust armwarmers in the new Knitty that all other things have stopped dead. Including all holiday spinning, knitting and baking.

Did you see them?


I haven’t finished them but I got enough done to pause and get some other things done. Wanna see?

I chose BFL in the colorway Grace from CJKoho

I used 8 oz, spun woolen, mostly 11 wpi


Grace yarn, mostly wpi

Grace yarn, mostly 11 wpi

I spun all of the fiber and knit one armwarmer, before I could stop. I started this on Saturday afternoon. It was burning desire that kept the holiday guilt from stopping me.

Almost done!

Almost done!

Now back to my baking!

Knitting Mondays: Kate and Jillian Give Each Other Gifts. Plus, an Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf Giveaway.

What do knitters give each other? Kate and Jillian give you more knitterly gifting insight by showing what they would like to buy each other.

Here’s what Jillian would give to Kate.

Because she loves Doctor Who:

A Tardis Needle Gauge from Tangerine8:

A Wibbly Wobbly Needle Gauge

A Wibbly Wobbly Needle Gauge

A little something for her mind. I know she’ll read this and invent 211 more.

Cast on, Bind Off – 211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting by Cap Sease. It’s available as print and an ebook.


211 ways to start and end your knitting

211 ways to start and end your knitting

She is a sock knitting goddess and should be gifted appropriately. Here are two ‘rich uncle just left you a mint’ sock knitting gifts.

A set of 6 Signature Needles double points:

sig dpn

Sexy sock knitting ahead!

and a 2013 membership to the Rockin’ Sock Club from Blue Moon Fiber Arts:

Socks all year long!

Socks and yarn all year long!


And here’s what Kate would give to Jillian:

A subscription to Clara Parkes’ Bale Yarn Club. Because of everyone I know, Jillian is the hungriest to know more about where her yarn and fiber come from, and she wants to know everything. And Clara will be sharing that!

A bag each of the brown and cream Bijou Basic Yak Down Clouds spinning fiber. Because Jillian deserves to spin with the nicest fibers in the world.

I can only imagine what wonderfulness Jillian would make with this!

Or perhaps a year’s subscription to the Paradise Fibers knitting club?

A year’s worth!

A subscription to the Audible downloadable audio book service, so she has entertainment while she spins and knits.

And if somehow I win the lottery between now and next week, I’d buy her a trip to Iceland. (And a new suitcase big enough for me to stow away in.) Iceland is a mecca for knitters and spinners, and I know that she’d have a most excellent time.

And together Kate and Jillian are saving up and one of these days – as soon as they’ve been invented – they’d like to be able to give Amy a Transporter. A Transporter would allow Amy to be able to get home to her family in Chicago without any airport hassles. A Transporter would allow her to be able to get over to see her BFF Brenda whenever she wants. And a Transporter would allow her to take her beloved Phil and the bunnies with her wherever she goes!

 Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf Giveaway!

Designer Alana Dakos has published a wonderful book about a spirited little girl learning to knit, Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf. It’s a great story and will also teach your little knitter how to knit.


Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scatf

Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf


Annie's Deluxe kit

Annie’s Deluxe kit


Alana has donated one deluxe edition gift set. It includes a copy of the book, a paper doll set, matching 20 piece puzzle, and sticker sheet all packaged together in a matching gift set box. Prize value, $26.95.  Thank you Alana for donating this prize!

Regular contest rules: leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Wednesday December 19th. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win our prize. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance.

Gift Knitting: Distressingly Few Days Left

I’m not starting to panic just yet, but the deadline for my holiday knitting is coming up faster than I’d like. Lots of knitters make many of their gifts; many knitters start early (I met a very clever knitter once who told me that she makes one gift project EVERY MONTH THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. She was faintly smug about it, but deservedly so); I know many knitters who have long and very organized plans for gift knitting (Ms. Harlot I’m looking at you with your spreadsheet).

I tend to take the other approach: through November and December I insist that I won’t knit any gifts at all. My grumpy and not-totally-defensible rationales include such gems as: I’ve got work-related deadline knitting so I don’t have time, I don’t have many people on my list who would appreciate knitted gifts, and those that do already have all the hats the need, and it would be too predictable for me to give hand-made gifts.

And come about the 15th of December, I invariably start to relent. After all, a hand-knit gift is an expression of love, particularly when I am so busy with “work knitting”. It says something that I’m willing to take the time. I usually manage to whip up one or two hats for key names on my list.

Whether you started early or late, whether there’s only one name or many on your “to knit for” list, here’s a few quick knit projects that will help you finish up your list without too much effort….

A headband: Calorimetery!

Absurdly quick, but very sensible.

A bulky weight hat: Shroom!

This wouldn’t take long at all.

The Kink neckwarmer: designed specifically to use up small quantities of handspun, therefore quick to knit!

Suitable for the most elegant on your list…

The clever and chic Embrace scarf– only 3 72yds skeins – that won’t take long.

A cozy double wrap!

The Perdita lacy beaded bracelet

Simply beautiful – and not too big.

Borough Mitts: Manly but not at all boring

These will go quickly…

The Prepschool Tie!

Love it.

A steering wheel cover!

In a darker color, this would be great for the guys in your life, too!

WWW: Sweaters of the Season; The Bale Yarn Club; Squid

Festive woollies, for a good cause. What’s not to like?

The charity “Save the Children” in the UK has decreed Friday December 14th as “Christmas Jumper Day” – The organization is encouraging everyone to wear their “most embarrassing” festive sweater to raise money for the charity. Now, we could argue with the “embarrassing” bit, but we love the excuse to get decked out in festive finery. The Guardian has a nice little piece, with links to a free Debbie Bliss pattern for children’s reindeer sweater pattern (ok, maybe for next year) and a rather charming slideshow of cheerful people in sometimes silly sweaters.

Can’t wait to follow along!

We’re enormously excited about Clara Parkes’ new venture, the Bale yarn club. After years of writing and talking about yarn, Clara has started down the path to making her own yarn. Last spring, she purchased a 676lb bale of fiber from renowed sheep farmer Eugene Wyatt. Over the first 6 months of 2013, Clara is going to journey across America to make yarn from her bale. She’ll provide biweekly updates on the process, and subscribers will be able to watch every step of the way.  She’ll be meeting everyone involved in the end-to-end yarn production process, there will be videos and interviews and Clara’s always insightful commentary on what she sees and does, and what’s up with her bale. With that much fiber, there’s a lot of yarn to be made, and she’s going to be experimenting with different preps, blends, twists, and ply combinations – until the bale is gone.

Full subscribers will receive shipments of the yarn produced – nearly 2 lbs each! Sadly, these are sold out, but I’m personally going to sign up for the Armchair traveler package – to have full access to all the content, and watch Clara’s travels and explorations.

Fascinating: we’ve all heard of knitters who spin and work with dog hair. Discussion of this always prompts a wide variety of reactions – from amused to disturbed. Logically, there’s no big difference between dogs and sheep – they both enjoy rolling in mud just as much! – but it’s the emotional connection that changes the equation. This article discusses the historical use of dog fur – in the 18th and early 19th century, native Pacific Northwest communities kept packs of “woolly dogs” for their fur, and the resulting yarn was used for weaving and knitting.

Quite possibly my favorite yarn-bomb ever. A giant squid. On a London phonebox. Just click. You know you want to.

A slide show of this season’s most fashionable sweaters, courtesy of New York Magazine. I always love looking at these, not just for design inspiration, but also to feel very pleased about seeing something any knitter could easily make being sold for hundreds of dollars. Seriously, there’s an APC sweater for $290USD that looks exactly like one of my earliest sweaters, right down to the color.

Spinning Tuesdays: Spinning gifts or What I’d Buy You If I Won the Lottery

I love to give gifts. I love picking out just the right thing that will delight the recipient. If I had won that billion dollar Powerball lottery last week, here’s what I would buy all of you.


PLY Magazine subscription

Jacey Boggs’ brainchild

Jacey Boggs is one of the most creative minds in spinning today. She got it in her brilliant head to start a new quarterly print magazine for 2013. I am beyond excited to see the first issue.


Anything But Lazy Kate by Nancy’s Knit Knacks

Ply master

This new kate was recently released . It’s self contained and ready for traveling. The thing I love the most about it? Three (3!) different ways to tension. Take that feisty bobbins!

Sidekick Spinning Wheel

Spinning on the road

I’ve used my Sidekick now for more than a year and love it more than when I first got it. I rate it one of the two or three most versatile travel wheels around, plus I just love looking at it.


Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs: Techniques for Creating 80 Yarns by Sarah Anderson

Spinner’s book of wow

The pub date for this book keeps getting pushed, now it’s due mid to late January. Why this book? You know the Barabara Walker stitch dictionaries? It’s like that, but for making 80 different  yarns.


How’d I do? Happy with your gifts?  What’s on your list this spinny holiday season?


Knitting Monday: More Gifts: Books Jillian Reccomends & A Knitty Yarn Giveaway

Since I do most of the book reviews for Knitty, I read as many as 100 knitting books a year. Here are three from this year that I think would make great gifts!


Principles of Knitting

A classic!

This is a classic, finally rereleased with over 700 pages of knitting techniques. If you know a knitter that loves to study the intricacies of how knitting works, they would love this book. It also comes as an ebook, which is a little easier to take with you.


Needles & Artifice: A Refined Adventure Story with Ingenious Knitting Patterns

Stop in for a cuppa!

Steampunk + knittting, what’s not to love? For the knitter with a sense of adventure and a sense of humor. This is one of my favorite books of the year.


Knit Accessories: Essentials & Variations

Not just for newbies

Have a knitting newbie on your knitting gift list? Or a knitter always on a quest for the perfect basic accessory patterns?  This book by Knitty tech editor Kate Atherley would be perfect.



Knitty’s Anniversary Yarns Giveaway!

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Three readers will win one skein of our special Knitty Anniversary yarns. I have one skein of each colorway and I will choose randomly who get which yarn. One skein of yarn is enough to make the corresponding pattern in the latest issue of Knitty.

The projects:

The yarn prizes, left to right:

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Knitty’s Rainbow in Marine Silk Sportweight, prize value:  $26.75

Indigodragonfly 50 Shades of Bazinga; or, When Your Stitch Count is Off, Your Skein is 2 Yards Shorter Than the Pattern, and the Yarn Gods Have Decided Now is the Time for a Needle Malfunction in Merino Nylon Sock, prize value $24

Lisa Souza Knitty Deep Fall in Polwarth Silk, prize value, $22

Regular contest rules: leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Wednesday December 12th. Three comments will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win one of the three prizes. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance.