Monthly Archives: May 2013

WWW: TTC Knitalong, Sock Knitting Machine Museum, The Chatelaine

Stitch & ride

Toronto’s annual TTC Knitalong is scheduled for Saturday July 20th.  Pack a portable project and jump on a bus, streetcar or subway car with a group of knitting friends, touring around the city. Yarn stores on the routes will have special discounts, prizes, giveaways and other goodies. At the end of the day, all teams will meet for snacks and a drink, and there will be lots of show and tell.

Visitors to Toronto note: even if you’re not participating in the event, the website has an excellent overview of the great yarn shops in our fair city.

Do other cities have such events? Let us know!

Vintage knit, modern adorableness.

More than 30 years later, a New Zealand knitter decides she’s finally ready to tackle a pattern published in the May 25, 1970 issue of New Zealand Woman’s Weekly… Cuteness ensues.

After posting about the recently found vintage sock knitting machine, a reader alerted me to the New Zealand Sock Knitting Machine Museum, in Hokitika, New Zealand. Love it!

A needlework chatelaine. Image courtesy The Collectors Weekly

Fascinating: an article about the Chatelaine, the Victorian woman’s toolkit. In the days before giant bags, women would carry key tools with them in this jewellery-like case. Chatelaines were specific to situation and activity – a needlework chatelaine was designed to hold needles, scissors, thimbles and the like.  Others would hold notebooks, perfume bottles, handkerchiefs.

These were both practical but also fashion accessories, and like purses, sometimes style trumped practicality… does it matter if it’s too small to hold everything you need if it’s really really cute? 

Being, ultimately, practical and domestic items, they aren’t well known, and good examples are hard to find. This Collectors Weekly article gives you amazing insight into the item and the women who wore them, along with some tremendous photographs.

How fab is this?

Another fantastic yarnbomb at the seaside, in Saltburn, UK. This is clearly the work of the team that created an epic Olympic-themed yarnbomb last year. Click through to see all the photos!

A knitting city councillor causes a fuss at a meeting of the Liskeard Town Council, in Cornwall. Some of us wish that the disputes on our own city councils were so pleasant…


World Wide Knit in Public Day has become a phenomenon since it was launched in 2005, by Danielle Landes. So much so, in fact, that the event now runs over a full week!

WWKIP began as a way to bring knitters together, out of the closet and into fresh air. Although knitters have been gathering together for many years – in each other’s homes and  in stores, on “stitch nights”, and at events and retreats – but it’s usually knitters among knitters. The purpose of the day is to bring knitters out into public, amongst the “muggles”. WWKIP events often include knit-ins at parks and sporting events and shopping malls.

Although there are many of us who are quite used to knitting in public – those of use who ride public transport, those of us who enjoy the relaxation of a few minutes knitting over our lunch breaks at work, those of us who like to keep our hands occupied while attending the kids’ sporting events, dance practices, playtime at the park – there are many knitters who tend to indulge only at home. We’d like to encourage those knitters to show off their knitterly pride to the world. Don’t be shy about taking your work out with you. After all, knitting is a more social activity than reading, as you can take in the world around you and engage in conversation while at the needles. (Well, unless you’re working on a particularly engaging or challenging project, of course.)

For a list of events, consult the Ravelry forum, and check with stores and guilds in your area.

A few ideas:

  • Sunday June 9th, there will be an event in High Park in Toronto.
  • The Purple Purl in Toronto will be taking over a local park, Saturday June 8th.
  • Shall We Knit in Waterloo is running a wedding shower for friend of Knitty, Kim of indigodragonfly yarns, Saturday June 15th.
  • The Prescott, Arizona Knitters will be at the Farmer’s market on Saturday the 8th.
  • Sunday June 9th, knitters in  Taunton, Somerset, will gather at IMAGINE, DESIGN, CREATE.
  • Knitters in Chicago will be gathering Saturday the 8th in Millennium Park, in the Boeing North Gallery.
  • The Flowertown Knitting Guild in Summerville, SC is hosting two events, one on the 8th, one on the 9th.
  • Black Hills Fiber Arts Guild will be hosting a WWNIP event on June 11, 2013, from 4-7 pm at the Main Street Square in Rapid City, South Dakota.
  • The Northern Lights Valley Knitters guild will be knitting in public at Newcomb Park in Wasilla, Alaska Saturday, June 15 from 1 to 3 pm.
  • Knitters in Washington state are invited to gather June 8th at Bookend Coffee Company inside the Everett Public Library. 2702 Hoyt Ave Everett Wa from 10am to 5pm.
  • Other Toronto events info can be found here.

Put info about your events in the comments below!

Knitty 10th Anniversary Giveaway: Jennie the Potter

Who remembers when Jennie the Potter made beautiful mugs and yarn bowls to celebrate our 10th anniversary?

We secretly asked her to stash one of each so we could have them as giveaways. Guess what today is? Jennie the Potter giveaway day!

Knitty 10th Anniversary mug:

Anniversary mug

Eat cake with the bunny!


Knitty 10th Anniversary yarn bowl

Anniversary yarn bowl

Knit with the bunny!

If you’d like to win one of these beautiful pieces you know what to do!

Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Monday, May 27, 2013. Two comments will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win one of the prizes. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance.


WWW: Wool for Insulation, Antique Sock Machine Puzzle, World Record Knitting Needles

Quickest scarf ever?

Jeanette Huisinga, yarn shop owner in Casey, IL, is trying to break the Guinness World records for Largest crochet hook and knitting needles. The needles – wood, so they’re safe for taking on a plane – measures over 13 feet long and 3.25 inches in diameter. That would be a size 200 or so, I think? The current Guinness record for the world’s largest knitting needles is 11 feet, 5.8 inches long and 3.15 inches in diameter. A very intrepid knitter from the UK, Ingrid Wagner used them to knit a 10-by-10-foot ‘tension square’ – yes, that’s right, even world record holders have to swatch! – in 2008. The video linked is fantastic, Ingrid demonstrating her giant needles on a UK morning show.

A good cause.

The LA design event, Dwell on Design, held June 21-23 at the Los Angeles Convention Center – showcases new design ideas, products, and services in conjunction with world-class home tours, exhibitions, and design speakers. This year, Dwell on Design has announced an Artist-In-Residence program, and the chosen artist is LA-based furniture designer/maker and community activist, Tanya Aguiñiga. Tanya’s work goes beyond beautiful craft as she puts it to good work helping those less fortunate. This year at Dwell on Design she will be bringing her artful and interactive process of providing handcrafted, upcycled furniture, blankets and artwork to those less fortunate. She’s partnered with the United Way and PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) to create “Move-in Kits” for the 300 homeless individuals who will be placed in permanent housing in Los Angeles this June. During the Dwell on Design show event, she will be engaging with attendees to help create the components of these kits. Tanya has also put out a call for knitters to help make blankets before the show.

Reminder: This Friday’s is the annual “More Than Just a Yardage Sale” at Toronto’s Textile Museum. Rain or shine! I’ll be there Friday early afternoon – try not to buy all the sock yarn before I arrive, please. Also this weekend, on the other side of the continent, it’s the 100-Mile Fleece and Fibre Festival at the Bradley Centre, in Coombs, B.C.

We know wool is great for insulating sheep and people – turns out it’s good for buildings, too!

Great piece about a farm in Scotland using their own sheeps’ wool for insulating the farmhouse. The wool is, of course, a renewable, environmentally friendly solution – and its insulating, moisture absorbing abilities make it ideal for building insulation. It’s also much safer than many insulation materials, as it has very low conductivity, is fire resistant,and will extinguish itself if it does catch fire. (I bet I’m not the only one who’d love to get a more detailed look at that farmhouse – a beautiful building in beautiful surroundings!)

It makes socks, but how do you work it?

A maritime museum in Montrose, Scotland is looking for help with an antique sock knitting machine. It was found during some renovations, and they’re hoping to refurbish it and restore it to use. At first they weren’t even sure what it was, but a local couple was able to identify it, and provide part of the story. A local man, Andrew Freeman, who died in 1973, was an expert using this machine to produce stockings for the fishermen of the area.

Are you hosting a WWKIP event? Leave us a comment with the details and we’ll post them in our WWKIP roundup next week.

Jillian’s Spinning: Sarah Swett Exploded My Brain

This past weekend I took a 2.5 day workshop with Sarah Swett that was all about learning to see values, called The Value of Wool.

We worked with four colors of CVM from The Spinning Loft’s massive fleece stash, and knit, embroidered and needled pointed our way to being value savvy.

Let me first say that the idea of this class – really, really detailed work, slowly building color values from white to dark brown, sounds like the worst possible type of class for me, close to agony for where I am in my spinning and thinking about spinning right now . In fact if Sarah Swett hadn’t taught it I probably wouldn’t have taken it.

As soon as I sat down and Sarah started talking, I knew I would learn an incredible amount about working with wool in various fibery media, not just value.

We had 4 colors of CVM and a tiny bit of indigo dyed blue to work with.

Our fiber

Our fiber

We made rolags in a value scale

Sarah's rolags

Sarah’s rolags

And spun them

Value range and tiny yarn balls for knitting

Value range and tiny yarn balls for knitting

We knit a bit of Fair Isle  and did embroidery with our yarns. Sarah would let us know what goal was for each section and then let us get there how we wished. It was a wonderful and freeing way to have a workshop. Sarah walked around answering questions about any of her work or the work we were doing. She is a wealth of creativity and works very hard at her art with great joy.

Sarah surveys

Sarah surveys

I was astonished to see how many people in my class had embroidered and done needlepoint before – their work was beautiful. I guess I’m the odd ball not having been raised doing fiber, not even touching it until my late 20’s. I’ve bought an embroidery class at Creativebug, my summer project.

I did like the work I did on my needlepoint. We did tiny 2″x3″ self portraits. We started self portraits, I don’t know if anyone finished.

beginnings of a self portrait

beginnings of a self portrait

My favorite part? Overspun singles for curls



It was an enlightening workshop. The type where the thinking and the learning digs in deeply. I know I’ll continue using handspun for needlework. We’ll see how the value thinking manifests itself.

Not familiar with Sarah Swett’s work? She has a fantastic website that showcases her tapestries, knitting and needlework.

There was fleeces shopping over the weekend too. My fellow classmates managed to buy 50 pounds of raw fleece!

Fleece alley at The Spinning Loft

Fleece alley at The Spinning Loft

What did you learn this week?

WWW: Celebrity Knitters, Knitted Anatomy, A “Gateway Drug”?

Celebrity knitter run-down: Uma Thurman, Amanda Seyfried and Christina Hendricks.

Realistic and yet not.

Installation and video artist Candace Coursd uses yarn and other textiles in her work. Her exhibit Sick, uses a knitted representation of the human body and its workings.

I’m faintly squeamish and found the images fascinating. As you can see in the video, although clearly knitted replicas, the images created are oddly lifelike and just on the edge of being gory.

This headline made me smile: Cucinelli Becomes Billionaire Knitting $1,920 Cardigans. Yes, I’m sure we could all get rich if we sold our handknits for that amount of money…

A Knitzvah? ‘Mitzvah’ is Yiddish for good deed… and therefore a knitzvah would be a good deed committed with yarn. A community group in New Jersey has launched a program to make scarves, hats and blankets for local hospitals.

A cute little piece on the Oxford University Student online magazine about the resurgence of knitting. I adore the photo chosen, and am amused by the slightly dubious but not entirely incorrect analogy:

“knitting is analogous to soft drugs – you try a little and enjoy it, you want to try a little more – and you soon find yourself addicted to all kinds of hardcore craft. Knitting is a gateway drug.”

Thanks Erika B.! A little birthday wish for us in our 10th anniversary year!

Coming together over yarn and needles.

Love this story: ninety year olds and nine year olds come together for knitting classes… It’s a win all around: children learn new skills, the elderly get to participate in their larger community and see their skills valued, and teachers embrace the real-life stories and history lessons the elders share.

Don’t pretend you wouldn’t say the same sort of thing… well, ok, I probably would… A real-estate shopper in NY falls in love with an apartment because it matches the blanket project she’s working on.

We love seeing mentions of knitting in the mainstream press, and we look forward to the days when we don’t see muggles making such basic mistakes at this… it’s a quilt, guys! Not knitting! (Although it is a lovely quilt… )

Jillian’s Spinning: Ode to the Hansen Bobbin Winder, I Mean, Quill

When I ordered my HansenCrafts miniSpinner I ordered the Quill attachment. Not to do point of contact spinning, though someday I might, but to use as an electric bobbin winder. Kevin Hansen said lots of Hansen spinners use it that way. Well, if everyone is doing it……

It works great, easy to attach. It slotted right into the orifice.

Quill attached

Quill attached

I slid on my bobbin, slid on the rubber o-ring that comes with it to hold my bobbin in place, attached my yarn from my kate on the floor and off I went!

With bobbin

With bobbin

I used Schacht cardboard bobbins, which were a little loose on the quill. I made the fit snug by stuffing a little fiber into the bobbin before inserting it on the quill.

I had a nearly full (10 oz) Hansen bobbin that I wanted to divide evenly. I set my trusty baking/fiber scale to the weight of an empty cardboard bobbin. Periodically while winding I would stop, slide off my bobbin and check the weight. It took no time to wind off my full bobbin on to storage bobbins, a little more than an episode of Elementary.

I don’t think it replaces an electric bobbin winder if you already have one. I didn’t and I am so happy I got this attachment!


My next stop in the Hansen journey is how in the heck do I organize the inside of the Züca bag? Who has tips for me?




WWW: Rhinebeck Workshops, Yardage Sale, Chickens in Sweaters, Making a Living?



Registration for workshops at Rhinebeck is officially open! Our own Jillian is teaching six classes. Go and spin with her!


The Textile Museum of Canada announces it annual “More than Just a Yardage Sale” event, running Friday May 24 & Saturday May 25 outside its Toronto location. It’s a fundraiser for the museum, selling all sorts of textile and crafty delights – fabric, yarn, patterns, books and notions. They take donations from all over Ontario, and there are goodies for every crafter. In addition to supplies, there are also WIPs and partially finished projects – always fun to root through. I’ve bought various abandoned projects over the years – sometimes so I could finish it, sometimes to salvage the tools (my embroidery hoop cost 50 cents, and came with an incomplete cross stitch project of an antique car!), sometimes for the materials. And there are often really great books to be found.

It’s a guilt-free way of enhancing your stash – or if you need to reduce your stash a little, consider making a donation.

If you’re in the Toronto area, it’s definitely worth a visit.

If you’re in the UK, a piece from the BBC on a school knitting club’s trip to learn more about Victorian Lace knitting, and visit to a wool broker. (Video link doesn’t work outside of the UK, sadly.)

Members of the DKC

Toronto’s Downtown Knit Collective doesn’t just host the Frolic, they also run a program to make and donate hats and scarves to people affected by cancer.

They set up a tent and the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and knit throughout the overnight event – and throughout the year.

Inspired by the experiences of friends and members with cancer, the group published a book of cap and hat patterns, “Annabelle’s Caps”, named after DKC past president Annabelle Dawson, who lost her life to brain cancer. Funds raised go to cancer charities, and the hats, scarves and shawls are donated to sick family members and friends, to organizations who support cancer patients during treatment, and to strangers undergoing treatment who need a “hug.”

Can you Make A Living From Your Hobby? A piece on the BBC about crafters who have been able to establish businesses based on their craft.

Happy, well-dressed chickens. Love.

Chickens in sweaters. Students at a school in Kent, UK, are knitting sweaters for ex-battery hens who have lost their feathers. It’s the photos and the quotes from the students that make this story for me…. “when I tell people I am knitting a jumper for a chicken they think I am either lying or completely bonkers.”

In conjunction with Wool Week Australia, Vogue Australia interviews yarnbomber Magda Sayeg in a piece about yarnbombing.

Brittany Holliss of the Bissell Bombers

The Bissell Bombers, a group of University of Toronto graduates, are profiled in one of Toronto’s arts weeklies, The Grid.

Ed: If it seems like there’s a lot of yarny things going on in Toronto – well, it’s true, there are. There are lots of yarny types in the Toronto area, and we’re lucky enough to be supported by many wonderful business and organizations. Southern Ontario is a haven for knitters… Considering a vacation? Come and see us! We’re very nice!

Obsession: The Knitter’s Frolic

In Toronto we’ve lucky enough to have not only a huge knitting community, but also a large and very active guild, the Downtown Knit Collective. The DKC is “dedicated to advancing the art of knitting through the sharing of ideas and techniques, education and community involvement”.

They have many projects focused outside the knitting community – drives and donations to good causes.

Kate, in action

But our favorite activity is focused at the knitting community – their annual Knitter’s Frolic. Held every spring, it’s a weekend-long festival all things yarny. There are two days of classes, with top tier instructors. Last year’s keynote instructor was our own Franklin Habit, and this year, it was the fantastic Ann Budd.

And there are local teachers, there, too – myself included.

But the best part by far? Saturday is a retail fair. The group takes over a lovely building in an otherwise uninteresting part of Toronto, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center, and stuffs it full of yarny goodness.

So many fabulous yarns…

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indigodragonfly deliciousness

and fibers…

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Yummies from Gateway Fibreworks

And it’s not just yarn…

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Jewelry by Cynthia Blanton

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Beautiful yarn bowls by Laura Sheppard

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SOAK, the knitter’s friend

So many friends to see…

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Ms. Ann Budd and Ms. Denny MacMillan

So many great FOs on display…

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A Lanesplitter in the wild!

It does get a little crazy at times, but we love it!

The Shall We Knit booth

The Shall We Knit booth

This event is a major highlight of the knitter’s calendar in this part of Canada, and we’re grateful every spring to the DKC for putting it on.

WWW: Knitting Robots, Ode to My Socks, More Icelandic Knitterly Fun

How can you resist that face? And that fleece?

This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. A major highlight of the east coast fiber lover’s calendar, the festival includes animal displays and competitions, and a multitude of fibery vendors, displays and demonstrations. Held at the Howard Fairgrounds in West Friendship, Maryland, it’s always worth a visit, but this year even more so.

Gratuitous wonderful picture of Australian sheep and rancher.

It’s Australian Wool Week! A listing of events and activities can be found on the Campaign for Wool website here.

Perhaps a little creepy, but fascinating to watch…

Love this knitting robot created by Andy Noyes of the UK, exhibited at the recent Maker Faire UK in Newcastle… AGNES knits a scarf on a loom. Soothing to watch!

Wooly protest: The Revolutionary Knitting Circle group of Calgary is making a blanket at the Calgary Central library to protest the province’s government’s decision to reduce services for people with developmental disabilities.

my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.

Designer Kate Davies reminds us of Pablo Neruda’s lovely poem, “Ode to my Socks.

Thinking about your summer vacation? A trip to Iceland might just be the ticket! Two big knitterly events are planned. The Textile Museum of Iceland is hosting a major exhibition of Icelandic handknits, June 1 to August 31st. And Hélène Magnússon, the Icelandic Knitter, is planning a knitting tour of Iceland July 31st to August 6th, to coincide with the exhibition. The tour is focuses on 19th century Icelandic Knitting traditions, a subject covered in depth in Hélène’s latest book, Icelandic Handknits: 25 Heirloom Techniques and Projects