Monthly Archives: January 2013

WWW: Sally Fox; Insight into the Design Process, More on the Shetland Ponies Photoshoot

A hero, Ms. Fox.

A really wonderful blog post from Etsy profiling fiber pioneer Sally Fox. Sally single-handedly drove major changes in the US cotton industry in the 1980s, introducing naturally colored cotton, created by specially breeding cotton plants. In recent years, she has been in “hibernation”, due to changes in the US textile industry, but she’s re-emerging, working again with a spinner in the US and a mill in Japan, to bring her organic, environmentally sensitive and health conscious ideas and processes to the world.

Inspired and inspiring!

Knit designer and philosopher Annie Modesitt has written a fabulous post on her blog, the “Anatomy of the Hand Knit Design Process“. She does a terrific job of explaining the creative as well as the administrative aspects of the process, and gives wonderful insight into the origins of one of her characteristically beautiful works. Much of Annie’s work is inspired by historical costume, and you can see how she has taken an idea and brought it to life. I’ve had the honor of working with Annie as a tech editor, and I’ve learned so much from her.

Photo courtesy Thordale photography.

Some background and other views from the Shetland Ponies in Fair Isle sweaters photoshoot, first post, second post from the organization whose ponies appeared.

A group of CBS local news websites are listing “Best Places for Knitting” in their Arts & Culture section. We approve. Minnesota, Denver , Detroit and Sacramento.

The Penguin project mentioned last week continues….  Love it!

Photo Courtesy Time Out London.

An editor from Time Out London takes a “macro knitting” class. (Note: the piece is slightly saucy.)

A group of knitters in Winston-Salem N.C. is knitting mats from grocery bags to donate to the homeless of the area, to use as sleeping mats.

Spinning Tuesdays: Sarah Anderson’s Book Is Out Today! I Have One to Give Away!

It’s finally out! Spinners have been teased by several prospective publication dates for Sarah Anderson’s The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs, but now it’s finally available.

A most wonderful spinning book!

A most wonderful spinning book!

It’s a fantastic book, here’s my review from Deep Fall Knitty (I told you the publisher has been teasing us for a while):

This is the spinning book every spinner will rush out and buy this fall. This book doesn’t teach you to spin it — teaches you the potential of your spinning.

Sarah Anderson guides spinners through the making of 80 different yarns, each building on the techniques of the yarn before it. The writing style is concise and at the same time thorough and inspiring – I wanted to spin every single yarn I read about the second I finished reading.

Beyond the making of yarns, Sarah reminds spinners of the basics: twist and balance, woolen vs. worsted, washing fleece and an excellent section on fiber prep carding (hand and drum) and combing. Throughout the book, she talks about a sock knitting experiment she carried out while writing this book – what yarn structure is the best for socks? You’ll have to read it to find out. There are tips scattered through the book that focus on tricky bits of some of the yarn structures and invaluable tips for knitting with different types of yarns.

The book is filled with photographs, more than I think I’ve seen in any other spinning book – excellent process photos, beautiful project photos and lots of inspirational photos. It’s wonderful to see a book take the space to satiate visual learners.

This isn’t a book for the most beginning of spinners, but it could be a second spinning book. There is little discussion of how different breeds affect the yarn spun, but that’s a book in itself.

The joy in this book is the instruction of 80 yarns spinners now have at their fingertips. What the Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting pattern books are to knitters, The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs will be to spinners.

Here are some sexy spinning photos from the book. All Photography by John Polak:


Spiral Yarn

Spiral Yarn


Wool Bouclé

Doesn’t it make you want to hide away with your spinning wheel and a big pile of fiber until you’ve tried all 80 yarns?


I have a copy to give away! Regular contest rules: leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Thursday  January 31st. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win our prize.

Good luck and happy spinning!



WWW: Pucks and Purls; Dog-shaming, the Knitter’s Edition; Fine Scottish Beasts in Fine Scottish Knitwear

Because a hockey arena is a very natural habitat for wool.

Saturday February 9th in Toronto, it’s the annual Pucks and Purls hockey game! The inclement weather answer to Stitch and Pitch, Pucks and Purls takes knitting to its natural home: a hockey arena!  Toronto’s own Marlies are playing the Chicago Wolves at the Ricoh Coliseum in downtown Toronto. The standard of hockey played by these AHL teams is tremendous, and it’s an affordable and family- friendly event.

More info here, tickets here.

Tickets are $21 each, and include giveaways and gifts, and a free skate after the game for ticket holders.

And speaking of wacky things knitters get up to: BuzzFeed offers this list of 18 things they found rather remarkable at last weekend’s Vogue Knitting Live in NYC. We aren’t as puzzled by them as the BuzzFeed team seem to be, but we wholeheartedly agree that they are pretty wonderful. Bonus Batman sighting!

Dogshaming, the Knitter’s Edition. My dog Dexter lets me knit, but he does have to roll on whatever I’m working on to ensure it has a suitable covering of his hair. (Another great reason to block: get the dog hair off!)

Being stuck in the depths of winter, I’m loving the bright springyness of Pantone’s Color of the Year: Emerald. Inspiration for your next project, perhaps?

Jillian and I have been obsessing for some time about going to Iceland – it seems like a knitter’s paradise – and now it seems that the rest of the world agrees with us that it would be a great trip. The tour ‘Knitting and Hiking between Fire and Ice’ has been voted ‘one of the world’s best tours’ at the 2013 CMT travel fair, and was also recently awarded an international travel award by the German newspaper Sonntag Aktuell.

Knittyspotting: just a cast -on edge so far, but I love seeing a knitter documenting her progress with a Knitty pattern: Knitting a Penguin.

This just makes me smile.

Exactly what it says on the tin: Shetland Ponies in Fair Isle sweaters. Really. The pictures are real – I wasn’t sure they were at first. They were created as part of a promotional campaign for Scottish tourism.

Speaking of attractive Scottish beasts in knitwear, a slideshow on the Guardian of hunky men in hunky knits surrounded by hunky scenery.

And Science proves you should wear ‘Glittens. We all know that mittens are warmer than gloves. Science proves it, and then tells us that if you need your fingers accessible, the best solution is ‘cropped’ gloves (Dickensian waif gloves?) under mittens. I agree with the findings, but I really don’t love the word… Come on, knitters, we need a better name for these things. ‘Convertible mittens’ just isn’t catchy enough. Suggestions?

WWW: Ryan Gosling; Sweet Georgia; the How-To of a Cozy Commercial

Kate, who usually helms What’s What Wednesdays has been felled by the flu. Jillian is stepping in to do a quick update about what caught her eye in the knitting world this week.






Ryan Gosling knows how to knit! Or at least he learned how on the set of one of his movies. Maybe this will make Kate feel better.





Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

Have you seen the behind the scenes video from Sweet Georgia Yarns?  In four minutes you get to see the Sweet Georgia Yarn operation and listen to owner Felicia Lo talk about her passion for color and fiber.




Clara Parkes’ Great White Bale adventure has started. I always forget to check the blog and there are already two posts. If you are in the same (forgetful) boat as I am, don’t fret. Clara is working on an email notification system for blog updates. If you’ve signed on to be a Traveler, go read about the start of this unique adventure.


The coziest commercial

The coziest commercial

Do you remember the gas company ad where the interior of a house was covered in knitting ? Now there’s a peek into how the commercial was made. It’s amazing how many people worked on it.




The coolest flag


Knitty has always had a special love for Wales given that one of our Besties lives there, and it’s the home of Amy and Brenda’s P3 retreats. Now Wales is coming to Toronto. The North American Festival of Wales will be in Toronto August 29-September 1. We’re hoping for some fiber vendors!

If you are interested in attending one of Amy & Brenda’s P3 Retreats there are still a couple slots available for their upcoming Spring retreat in March. Take a look, you know you want to!


Spinning Tuesdays: Learning from the Past

Here’s a news flash, I hate being told what to do. As soon as someone says to me, ” you must, it will only work this way, you have to” or some such ,”my way or the highway” thing, I feel my inner toddler stomp her feet, cover her ears and yell, “no,no,no,no”.

This includes spinning. When I first started spinning, “you must” is mostly the way people taught and wrote about spinning. And if you picked up a book from the previous spinning boom in the 70’s the authors were even more stringent. Unfortunately, I dismissed them.

Fast forward, spinning has undergone a revolution in craft, thought and teaching, I’ve learned to put my inner toddler in time out and read between the lines of ‘my way or the highway’ writing. I’ve gotten curious about those books from the 70’s that I’d dismissed so offhandedly.

I talked to some people, did a little research and went shopping on used book sites.

Here’s what I’ve found:

Pile o' spinning books

Pile o’ spinning books

This pile of books is going to teach me a lot. I’m especially excited about that white one on the top, 101 Questions for Spinners. I’d never heard of it before, but check out who answers those questions.

Spinning superstars answering spinning questions

Spinning superstars answering spinning questions

What other older spinning books would you recommend to me?






Knitting Mondays: A Wearwithall Contest!

This past weekend it was 57F this week it’s barely supposed to touch 30F. I think that calls for a cozy giveaway!

May Lou Eagan and the gang of incredibly talented folks that created the book Wearwithall:Knits for Your Life have put together a warm and fuzzy giveaway for us.

How’d you like to knit this to keep you warm?

Cable Scarf and Cowl!

Cable Scarf and Cowl!

The whole prize for this giveaway is , a copy of the Wearwithall book and 4 skeins of Berroco Souffle in Cortina, enough to make 2 cowls or 1 scarf. Prize value $45.95.

Regular contest rules: leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Wednesday January 16th. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win our prize.

Good luck and keep warm!


Knitty Friday: Are You Feeling Creative? Franklin is Hosting a Contest!

In this issue’s Stitches in Time column Franklin Habit tackles a knitted counterpane square with his usual panache.

Templeton Squares

Templeton Square

Franklin was so inspired by the work he did with his Templeton Square, and got us so excited by it that we’ve decide to have a contest! We have fabulous judges and fabulous prizes, all we need now are your creative ideas knit up, photographed and sent in by March 15, 2013, midnight, EST. For all of the details, keep reading. We can’t wait to see see what you come up with!


Contest Time: Square Off with Knitty


Here’s what you’re gonna do:

Use the Templeton Square pattern  as the basis for a finished project. It can be anything at all: a coverlet, a piece of home decor, a garment, a party tent — the type of project is up to you. The only requirement is that the Templeton Square must be a prominent and essential piece of it.

Send us glorious photos of your creation, as many as you want, but three must be:

  • a full shot of your design
  • a flat shot of your design
  • a detail shot of your design

The judges will be judging from your photos so make sure they are lovely and in perfect focus, no smaller than 750 pixels wide.

Include a short paragraph describing your piece, including your inspiration.

Tell us your name, email address and what yarn was used for the project.

Deadline for entry: March 15, 2013, midnight, EST

And here is what will happen:

Our World Famous Panel of Judges:

  • Ysolda Teague
  • Brooke Nico
  • Fiona Ellis
  • Shannon Dunbabin (of Cascade Yarns)

…will choose one winner in each of three categories:

  • Best in Show
  • Most Creative
  • Most Ambitious

Winners will be contacted by email by April 10, 2013
Winners will be announced in the Surprise for the Spring+Summer Issue of Knitty in mid-April, 2013.

Here’s what you could win:

  • Best in Show: Original Franklin Habit illustration, prize value $500, plus 10 skeins of Cascade Sierra yarn (your choice of in stock color), prize value $110, total prize value $610
  • Most Creative: 1 set of Addi Turbo Lace Clicks, prize value $169.95 plus 10 skeins of Cascade Sierra yarn (your choice of in stock color), prize value $110, total prize value $279.95
  • Most Ambitious: 10 skeins of Cascade Sierra yarn (your choice of in stock color), prize value $110
Are you feeling inspired?

Are you feeling inspired?

WWW: Celebrity Non-Knitters; Knitting for the Troops; Learning to Tink

A student tackles her first row.

 Annmarie Aquino, a grade school teacher in NYC, is using knitting and weaving in her  classes to teach math and problem solving skills, and to give her students quiet time for thinking and creating.

Two stories about knitting groups knitting for soldiers being deployed to Afghanistan – a group in the UK is making balaclavas, a group in the US has made blankets for the 21 members of a local battalion of Marines.

A new and enthusiastic knitter!

A filmmaker in Bermuda is told by his doctor to try knitting to help him recover from a hand injury. Although uncertain at first, he’s now hooked, and is thinking of ways of building a business with his needles.

A Canadian knitter learns to tink, has her life changed. We’ve all been there, struggling to fix mistakes. The writer is rescued by her mother, who shares the secret of “unknitting”. I agree completely with the writer’s sentiments – there’s something really wonderful about sharing knowledge one-on-one.

The headline probably isn’t accurate, but I adore this picture of Lenny Kravitz in a fabulously oversized scarf. This is giving me ideas…

And in other celebrities who don’t knit news: Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey clears up a rumor. It turns out that he used to do tapestry, not knit.

Spinning Tuesdays: Happy New Year! What’s on Your List?

The view from my wheel, don't judge.

The view from my wheel, don’t judge.

Happy New Year to all of the spinners!

I hope everyone had a joyous and restful holiday season. My family and I were world-class relaxers, it was fantastic.

What’s on your list for the new year spinning-wise?

I have three things. I like three, it always seems doable. Plus, with only three I have to really give it thought.

Jillian’s 2013 Spinning Goals:

  1. That nagging handspun sweater. I have one sweater’s worth of yarn spun and almost a second sweater’s worth. Now I need to knit! I’m going to get some help from Ann Budd’s Handy Top-Down Sweater Book.
  2. Organize stash. Holy cats my stash is out of control! It’s become a huge jumble of fiber, most of it piled on top of empty containers. Even if I tame it back to something very basic like: to dye, to card into batts, to blend and to spin as is – I’ll be happy. I might throw, organize spinning equipment, in there too.
  3. Teach/write more. I want to write and teach more about how I spin with knitting in mind. So far, I’ve sent class proposals to Rhinebeck and I’m starting a new column in Knittyspin in the next issue.

Simple, yet challenging, all in one three point package!

What will you be spinning this year?





Closing the door on the Yarn Roundtable

Many years ago, we held the very first Knitty Yarn Roundtable at a yarn shop in Toronto (Alterknit). Soon after, it experienced some horrible luck with their building virtually collapsing around them and eventually closed.

The Purple Purl

The Purple Purl, Amy’s 2nd home.

At that event, I met Jennifer Campbell. And a few years later, Jenn and her new business partner, Miko Schechter, opened what has become my second home, The Purple Purl on Queen Street East in Toronto. When we decided to resurrect the Yarn Roundtables, the Purl was the natural choice, and both Jenn and Miko have been the most amazing, supportive partners to work with.

That was 5 years ago, a point I was reminded of when the Purl had huge 5th Anniversary Celebrations this fall. It made me think about the Yarn Roundtable, and why we started it and what we’ve accomplished. We’ve introduced hundreds of knitters to many, many, many yarns in person, and countless more knitters have gotten to experience these yarns through their reviews. We threw a little monthly party for knitting at the Purl, invited anyone who wanted to join in (up to 30 knitters each month), and had a great time learning about each yarn we tested.

And now we think it’s time to bring an end to the Yarn Roundtable. It feels a little sad, ending it after such a long time, but we are excited to put our energies into new projects.

One of our missions at Knitty has always been to help promote yarn to our readers, and we hope the Yarn Roundtable has helped to accomplish that. One loose end had to be wrapped up, and we did what we think was the best possible thing under the circumstances.

You see, yarn companies of all sizes (from individual indie dyers to large corporations) have been sending us yarn to review for as long as we’ve been running the Roundtables, and we rarely had a huge amount left over for future events. But over time, some did pile up. When we decided to end the Roundtables, we knew we had to find just the right place to pass these yarns to.

Our choice was Sistering. Their mission: “Sistering is a women’s agency serving homeless, marginalized and low-income women in Toronto. Our programs and services help women gain greater control over their life circumstances. Our advocacy focuses on changing the social conditions that put women at risk. And our service philosophy is to ensure that women’s dignity is not eroded by poverty and homelessness.”

They have several employment programs that focus on fiber and craft, and we knew the bags of yarn we brought to them this past Sunday would be put to good use. We’ve put up a note stating that we are no longer accepting yarn for review, but should some continue to trickle in, we will continue to donate it to Sistering. We hope those companies whose support over the years we have so sincerely appreciated will understand.

Are we done sharing information about yarn with Knitty readers? Absolutely not. Stay tuned.