Monthly Archives: April 2013

Stretch Your Knitting Mind – A Lynne Barr Giveaway!

Lynne Barr has an exceptional knitting mind. She stretches the boundaries of knitted fabric and encourages knitters to think about knitting with new eyes.

The wonderful folks at Melanie Falick Books have donated at set of Lynne Barr’s books for a giveaway.

I think spring is the perfect time to try something new and a little different, don’t you?

Lynne Barr's latest

Lynne Barr’s latest

lynne bar

More creative goodness


One reader will win all three book. Prize  value, $82.85

You know how it works: leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Thursday, May 2. 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.


Templeton Square Contest Winners

We are thrilled to announce the winners of our Templeton Square contest! In our Spring & Summer issue, in his Stitches in Time column, Franklin Habit unearthed and updated a lovely counterpane square pattern, original published in Weldon’s Practical Knitter series.

He proposed a contest: what could our knitters do with such a square?

We had 51 entries, and the range of work was wonderful and surprising and gratifying.You can peek at all of the entries over here.

We’re thrilled to announce the winners:

Best in Show: Wrap by Asimina Saranti


Very clever


Looks even better on.

Asimini wins an original Franklin Habit illustration and 10 skeins of Cascade Sierra yarn.

Most Creative: Fairy by Amanda Heyen

2. Seated

Makes me smile.

Amanda wins a set of Addi Turbo Lace Clicks and 10 skeins of Cascade Sierra yarn.

Most Ambitious: Tire Cozy by Karen Vradelis


If that’s not showing your colors as a knitter, nothing is.

Karen wins 10 skeins of Cascade Sierra yarn.

A big thank you to our judges: Ysolda Teague, Fiona Ellis and Shannon Dunbabin.

And thanks also to those who donated the prizes: Franklin Habit, Addi/Skacel and Cascade Yarns.

WWW: Knitted Boyfriend, Legwarmers For an Icon, Shetland Wool Week

Warm and snuggly…

The work of Dutch designer Noortje de Keijzer, “My Knitted Boyfriend” is “a cushion with a story”.


The designer has written a book about how My Knitted Boyfriend came to be. The illustrations are whimsical and fascinating, making us think about the comfort a partner brings. “This way you will never feel alone ever again. With this man you can be sure, he will never leave you.”

I love the detail that the designer’s mother and grandmother knitted the sample… I can just imagine the conversation… “you want me to knit what?”

Dropped a stitch, maybe? (I love this photo – we have all made that face… )

A primary school in Kent, UK, has added knitting back to their formal curriculum, after seeing the benefits of a lunchtime knitting club. Students are improving their mathematics skills, and teachers are seeing positive changes in behaviour, also: students are more likely to sit for longer, and knitting has increased social interaction between students. Rather than indulging in solitary pastimes like playing with a phone, children are sitting and talking to each other. (Note: Daily Mail link.)

Love it!

Love it!

Excellent yarnbomb of the 26′ tall Marilyn Monroe statue currently in display in Palm Springs, California. Ann Leiboh enlisted 40 friends and knitters from Knitting Guild of the Desert to make giant legwarmers for the statue…  The project took 8 months overall, and the installation was done in secret over a Friday night, April 12th.  20 knitters helped with the installation, and there were so many pieces contributed that they not only had legwarmers, but they were also able to yarnbomb the signage about the statue, and put scarves on the nearby Sonny Bono and Lucille Ball statues.

Unfortunately, the legwarmers were removed shortly after installation, but the other items remained in place for a few days.

More info and pictures on the Facebook post.

There has reportedly been so much interest in the Fair Isle sweater-wearing Shetland ponies that a German company has set up tours of the Shetland Islands. The tours are timed to coincided with this year’s Shetland Wool Week. This fourth instalment of the annual festival of wool celebrates Britain’s most northerly native sheep, Shetland’s textile industries and rural farming communities. There will be workshops, demonstrations and master classes and events with well-known local and international knitters and designers. Held October 7th to 13th 2013, it promises to be an incredible week of beautiful scenery, beautiful animals and beautiful knitting.

The Grid weekly paper in Toronto profiles some of Toronto’s male knitters, discussing the shift in cultural attitudes towards gender and craft. You might see a familiar name in the piece…

Jillian’s Spinning: Clara’s Great White Bale

The day it opened I joined Clara Parkes Great White Bale adventure.

I’ve been following along reading every single blog post as the bale makes it’s journey.

Just last week my package came:

Ooooh sheepy!

Ooooh sheepy!

I love the logo – that sheep is so cute and looks like a merino. But my spinning fingers wanted to get a hold of this:

Perfectly scoured

Perfectly scoured

Commercially scoured merino, with just a little VM and just enough lanolin left in.

clara cards

Must card!

I got out my trusty handcards and made three quick rolags. I will admit I rushed in my excitement and created a few neps. And yes, for you eagle-eyed knitters, that is a Knowknits knitting pouch, they work great for holding handcards.

Then I spun it, woolen, of course:

Spun and plied, before and after setting

Spun and plied, before and after finishing

Yummy, fluffy and springy. I wish I could get some more.

Are you following Clara on her Great White Bale adventure?


WWW: Contest Winner, Mother’s Day Gift Idea, The Stockinette Market

The winner of the Amy Herzog ‘Fit to Flatter‘ giveaway is Jennifer from Van Nuys, CA. Thanks to Melanie Falick Books for the book, and Berocco for the yarn.

Bloomin' wonderful!

Bloomin’ wonderful!

The wonderful people at Jimmy Beans Wool have come up with a terrific idea for Mother’s Day – a bouquet of yarn! The bouquets include limited-edition hand-dyed yarns, accompanied by patterns, needles and beads. There are two different size bouquets, and there are a limited number available.

I plan to drop big hints to the dog – I’ll let you know if he delivers…

LOVE. So much to learn.

A brilliant, brilliant piece of work from Knitty Designer Bristol Ivy – the Stockinette Market. She has done a detailed analysis of the patterns that appear on Hot Right Now in Ravelry, with a view to understanding and tracking the trends in popular knitting patterns and projects. Every day – twice a day where possible – she looks at the 48 patterns that appear in the Hot Right Now list. She produces these amazing detailec charts showing various types of information about the patterns – garment type (e.g. hat, cardigan, shawl), the fabric type (lace, cable, stockinette), the yarn type (e.g. solid, tweed, self-striping), the color, and how the pattern is shown in the photos – on a model or not.

Read the introductory post here, and then visit the blog to see her regular updates.

A fabulous insight for designers into what knitters are excited about. A fun way for knitters to see what their friends are up to. And overall, an amazing way to quantify what we’re all doing. Even if you don’t spend time with the graphs, it’s worth reading Bristol’s analysis of the data she’s seeing – tracking project popularity to promotions and industry activity.

“A man walks down the street in that hat, people are going to know he’s not afraid of anything.”

The movie studio FOX kicked up a fuss last week by trying to claim ownership of the copyright of the “Jayne” hat, worn by the character Jayne Cobb in the short-lived, much-beloved and long-ago-cancelled TV show Firefly. The distinctive hat is often worn by fans of the show to show their love, and there have been various patterns, both knit and crochet, available for it almost since the hat first appeared on screen. FOX contacted Etsy sellers who were making and selling the hats. The story continues, and it will be interesting to see where this goes…

The third annual Garden State Yarn Crawl takes place this weekend, around the yarny spots of New Jersey. There will be discounts, promotions, contests – and of course, yarn!

This just makes me happy: the Aiken, South Carolina newspaper proudly announces that a local knitter, Mary Anne Todd, has received her “Master Knitter” certification from the Knitting Guild of America.

News of a spy who knitted himself a ladder to escape from prison (Daily Mail link).

Jillian’s Spinning: Sometimes You Just Have to Knit a Shawl

A while ago I finished spinning enough yarn for a sweater:

Southern Cross Fibres Falkland, color: Dirt.

Southern Cross Fibres Falkland, color: Dirt.

I even had a sweater earmarked for the yarn, but I just couldn’t start. You know when you have a feeling that it’s just not right? So I’ve been waiting for the right thing to strike. I even let go of the sweater idea. Even though it’s a big bunch yarn.

How much?

Bigger than my 9 year old's head

Bigger than my 9 year old’s head

Sometimes it’s just something simple. I remembered something I’ve wanted to knit for a long time, a shawl so simple it shows of the yarn perfectly.

Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West. There are a bunch of handspun ones on Ravelry, all gorgeous.

Here’s the start of mine. I love it, and I have enough yarn to make it huge.

Baby Boneyard

Baby Boneyard

What’s on your wheel?

Rhinebeck workshop sign ups aren’t up just yet, but there are sneak peeks of the classes (including mine) in the Rhinebeck group in Ravelry!


Knitting Mondays: A SweaterBabe Giveaway Redux

A SweaterBabe Pattern Giveaway

A few months ago we tried to have a SweaterBabe giveaway and something went very wrong with my computer and it ate all of the comments. So let’s try it again!

Spring is trying hard where I live in Michigan, green flower shoots are nestled in snow and hail. The sunshine is a little less watery and the sky is trying for blue.

Katherine Lee a.k.a SweaterBabe has given us some of her lovely patterns as a giveaway, I’m thinking they will help Spring bloom.

SweaterBabe Patterns!

Three winners will get to choose three PDFs each from the SweaterBabe pattern library!

Prize value: $12.00-$24.00

More SweaterBabe Patterns!

You know how it works: leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Wednesday April 17th. Three comments 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.

Someone Else’s Obsession: Color

Run, don’t walk!

The London Fashion and Textile Museum is currently hosting a retrospective of the work of designer Kaffe Fassett. Over 100 of his own pieces are on display: knits, quilts, paintings, tapestries and even some mosaics. I was lucky enough to be able to visit it last month, and was transfixed by the explosion of color and texture. This video news report from BBC gives you a taste.

Born in the US, Kaffe began his career as a painter, studying at Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston, but he left before completing his studies to become a painter in London.

We know him as a knitwear designer for Rowanand designer of yarns – but he’s also a passionate quilter, fabric designer and needlepointer. He works in many different media and crafts – treating yarn, fabric, paint and thread equally. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that the media he uses for a given design is a secondary consideration: his primary medium is color. ‘I’m a missionary for color,’ he says.

Kaffe’s work is characterized by his incredible color sense: each project is a riot, using ten, twenty or even more colors within a single project. Close up, the effect can be disorganized or overwhelming, but considered as a complete work, the elements blend together in unexpected, surprising, beautiful and even understated ways. He really is a master of color. He breaks rules to create new ones.

What surprised and pleased me the most about seeing his work in person was texture.  You just can’t get a sense of it in photographs. He not only breaks what we feel to be the rules of color, but he breaks all the other rules as well. He works colorwork in cotton and textured yarns: the behaviour of the fabrics bring further color, by reflecting light in different ways. He mixes yarns within a project, and indeed mixes yarns within a color – what may seem like a solid block of a single color in a photograph might actually be combination of different yarns.

And his work isn’t tidy – I loved seeing his swatches and test pieces, finished as haphazardly as anyone’s might be! It’s true, he doesn’t weave in his ends very neatly, and his quilt block corners don’t always meet, but that’s beyond the point. His work is all about how the colors weave and meet and match – or not.

Just a few of the over 100 works on display.

The exhibition runs until June 29th, and if you’re in the London area, it’s absolutely worth a visit.

You can see more of Kaffe’s work at his own website.

(And it’s pronounced “kaif fass-it”, BTW!)

Thanks to Rock and Purl Ruth for arranging the tickets, and spending the day with me.

WWW: Lambing Season; Knitting Marathoner; Mum-to-be learning to knit?

It’s lambing season in the Northern Hemisphere! We’re thoroughly enjoying all the wonderful pictures: here, here, and here.

TOFT Alpaca shop in Warwickshire in the UK is hosting a number events for shearing week, May 13th-14th. Visit the farm to see the alpacas being shorn, and enjoy workshops on fiber and felting.

Yes. You are seeing that.

Spotted earlier this week: Stephen Fry walking a sheep across London Bridge. The author and broadcaster was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 2011, and one of the long-held historical rights of that position is to “drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge”. He’s currently filming a documentary for UK television on the City of London, and so he took advantage of his position to take a fluffy friend for a walk.

More here, including some fabulously bemused responses on Twitter.

Sheep may chicly graze…

And the city of Paris has hired four black sheep to mow (and fertilize…)  a grassy park outside the city’s municipal archive building.

Just a taste of the work on display.

The Milestones Trust, a charity in the UK that supports vulnerable adults with learning disabilities, mental health needs and dementia is holding an art exhibition of the work of their community.

Expressions: Secret Garden brings the great outdoors inside, with a wide variety of garden and nature themed textile and fiber projects.

Running April 13 to the 21st at the Paintworks in Bristol, there will be workshops and demonstrations of various fiber crafts, as well as a breathtaking display of art. This exhibition brings the outdoors imaginatively indoors, and explores the way in which we interpret and play with our green spaces, slicing them into parks or gardens, and building them into our lives. The centerpiece is a collection of knitted plants, fruits and vegetables.

The first weekend of the festival will be packed full of workshops and exhibition talks. You can try needle-felting, knitting, photography, drawing, electronic music-making and much more.

A runner from the UK is attempting to break her own record for knitting the longest scarf while running a marathon. You go, girl!

A certain mother-to-be Kate is learning to knit…

Jillian’s Spinning: Stash Spelunking

Ever wonder what the oldest fiber in your stash is? That idea bit me this past weekend and I went hunting. I found all kinds of things and remembered all kinds of adventures and stories. But as far as old, here’s what I found:

stash spelunking all

Oldest stash contenders

Barely old, 6-7  years, and I wish you were still dyeing:


Pippi Kneesocks : Willy Wonka Johnny (bottom), Gene (top)

Old, 9-10 years, and has passed the biz to the next generation:

Woolgatherings dyed by Sandy Sitzman

Woolgatherings dyed by Sandy Sitzman

Her daughter-in-law Kate now dyes and runs Woolgatherings.

My oldest that I can find – my best guess is 15-17 years old, from Lambspun in Ft Collins, Colorado. These have moved to at least 3 different states with me.

Merino. cashmere and silk (top), merino and silk (bottom)

Merino. cashmere and silk (top), merino and silk (bottom)

The cashmere blend on top is a little worse for wear, but still spinnable.


Now it’s your turn, what’s the oldest fiber in your stash?