Monthly Archives: June 2013

WWW: Upcoming European Fiber Festivals; Knitting Prime Minister Fuss; Cable Knit Floor Tiles!

Lovely portrait

Lively debate alert: Julia Gillard, the (just-ousted) Australian Prime Minster, a keen knitter, was photographed with one of her WIPs for the Australian Women’s Weekly magazine. The photo has kicked off predictable – and frustrating – debate about whether it’s “appropriate” for a politician to knit, and what sort of message it’s sending, and so forth… When other politicians are indulging in less-than-savory – and sometimes less-than-legal – pastimes, the fuss seems absurd.

This fuss inspired mystery author (a personal favorite of mine) Val McDermid to tell a fantastic story about her experiences knitting – when learning as a young girl, to annoy a newspaper editor, and more recently as an aid to quitting smoking. As she says, we knitters shouldn’t be messed with. In her words

Respect the knitters, I say. We are tough, we are ruthless and we know how to bide our time.

How I wish I could be there!

Travel opportunity alerts:
This weekend it’s Woolfest in Cumbria, UK. There are exhibits, workshops and demonstrations, as well as a fleece sale, and a fantastic vendor fair selling all sorts of wooly and fleecy goodness.

What an excellent weekend this will be..

And the weekend of July 13 & 14th there’s a big fiber festival, Le lot et la laine in the south of France, at the Musée de Cuzals, Sauliac sur Célé. More info on the event blog and in the Ravelry group.

Covet alert: faux cable knit floor tiles.

World record alert: Following up on a story we reported on a couple of of weeks ago, we have been notified that the Guinness organization has confirmed that Jeanette Huisinga, has indeed broken the record for the world’s largest knitting needles.

Officially sanctioned yarnbomb alert: In another great update, the Pittsburgh group looking to yarnbomb the Andy Warhol bridge has been given official permission. We can’t wait to see pictures of this project!

Jillian”s Spinning: Spinning at TNNA

TNNA, or The National Needlework Association show happened this past weekend. It’s a wholesale show for yarn shops to see and buy yarn for the fall season. Also attending are designers, publishers and loads of other yarny and fuzzy types. Amy, Kate and I were all there representing Knitty and eating  legendary Jenni’s ice cream.

Spinning has been creeping slowly into this show. There are classes in adding spinning to your knitting shop and more and more exhibitors have fiber – Yay!

There was a lot of gorgeous fiber (and fiber folk) at the show; I took a few photos with my phone here’s a peek:

Most of these companies only sell wholesale, check with your local spinning or knitting shop to see if they currently or soon will carry them.


Rob Cetner of Wool, Warp and Wheel spinning on his Hitchhiker


A huge spinning fiber display with samples at the entrance


Rita Petteys the chair of Spinzilla a spinning contest to be held during Spinning and Weaving week in Oct. She’s also one of the instructors at the Happy Camper Fiber Retreat in Sept.


The only time these wheels were empty at the Schacht booth. Lots of wheels and looms were sold.


Louet! Fiber, yarn and wheels

Happy Fuzzy

Happy Fuzzy Yarn was a first time exhibitor

Blue Sky

Blue Sky Alpacas doesn’t sell fiber, but used it for display

Lorna's Laces has spinning fiber in all of their colorways.

Lorna’s Laces has spinning fiber in all of their colorways.


Malabrigo now has merino fiber


Treenway Silks has a rainbow of silk fiber

Frabjous BFL

Frabjous Fibers new BFL+sparkle

Frabjus muffins

Frabjous Fibers Muffin Tops. They had all kinds of great packaging that works in yarn stores

Frabjus what?

Frabjous Fibers what is this?

Frabjus 3 feet

Frabjous Fibers Three Feet of Sheep – a yard of gradient colors


Anzula has beautiful fibers and colors, I am deeply smitten.

Sweet Georgia

Sweet Georgia Yarns has some of my most favorite fiber to spin.

Sweet Georgia new

Sweet Georgia’s  new colorways – I can’t wait to spin these.


My favorite new fiber exhibitor was Lucky Cat Craft. She has lots of unique luxury blends.

My brain is full and excited by all of things I saw and all of the ideas Amy, Kate and I came up with for Knitty and Knittyspin. But before I get started on the new, I have to catch up on email.












WWW: Bridges, Knitting Reality Show mark II, G8 Yarnbombers

Color us intrigued…

The very clever JC Briar has just launched her latest project: Stitch Maps. A totally different way of presenting knitting charts, they are gridless, so that you can not only represent the stitches, but also the shape and flow of the fabric…

Not strictly knitting, but tremendous: a very elegant yarnbomb under a bridge in Bristol. Although they get the details wrong, there’s a nice close up photo of the work in this article.

Mr. Warhol would be proud to see his namesake bridge decked out so beautifully

Speaking of bridges, a group in Pittsburgh wants to yarnbomb the Andy Warhol Bridge. The “Knit the Bridge” team has applied for city council permission for the project – after all, a full bridge is not something that can be blanketed in secret. If successful, the project is due to be completed in August, and will be on display for about four weeks.

“Purl 6”, a yarnbomber from Newcastle

The Guardian has a slideshow of the yarmbombing crew planning to yarnbomb the G8 meetings that took place in Ireland. I love the “thug life” quality of the portraits: the juxtaposition of their stances and the details of children, dogs, chickens and knitting.

Cooperative Press, publisher of Kate’s two books, is hosting a multi-book Knit Along this summer, with the authors. Knitting! Fun! Prizes!

Apparently, the Norwegians love boring… err… meditative TV. Although this piece on the Wall Street Journal feels like an April Fool’s joke, I checked the calendar, and it’s definitely not. The genre, known as “slow” television, is embraced as a break from “the crazy media world”. The first hit show of the genre ran in 2009 – a full live stream of a 7-hour train ride from Oslo to Bergen, as viewed from a camera on the top of a train. In the planning for the upcoming season includes a show watching ‘experts’ knit.

I love the outtakes as much as the “good” photos.

Helen Stewart, the designer of this issue’s lovely “Glitz at the Ritz shawltalks on her blog about the setting for her beautiful photographs, and the photo session.

Jillian’s Spinning: New First Fall Knittyspin is Live!

First Fall Knitty is live, which means there’s a new Knittyspin too!

Have you looked yet?

There’s a beautiful sweater, Canoe, by Amy King, spun from wool/flax.

Can you Canoe?

Can you Canoe?

A wear- all- the-time vest, Vertical Ridge, by Lyn Hale.

Knit side to side stripes.

Knit side to side stripes.

My Knittyspin column this time is about ply and knitting.

How many plies do you like?

How many plies do you like?

I spun and knit a pile of samples.

A pile of plying.

A pile of plying.

In Fiber Fiesta our intrepid spinners spun Porpoise Fur  texel, Three Waters Farm alpaca, merino, tussah and Fibre Forager corriedale.

Yummy, yummy fibers

Yummy, yummy fibers

I also review the Hansen eSpinner, the TravelKate and Yarnometer cards.

Shopping anyone?

Shopping anyone?

Let me know what you think of this issue, and anything you’d like to see in the future ones.





WWW: Open hardware knitting machine; Lightsaber knitting needles; KIP-ing at sporting events

Love this!

A great ‘introduction’ to yarnbombing, courtesy the Canadian media and culture magazine ‘Spacing’.

And an interview with Brenna Macdonald, knitter, teacher and member of the Lettuce Knit team in Toronto.

Revealing your mind with your scarf.

An absolutely fascinating collaboration: Neuro Knitting. Artists Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet worked with Sebstian Mealla, a scientist from ‘the Music Technology Group’ in Barcelona, on the project. They use a knitting machine to make a scarf with colorwork patterns based on brainwave readings from EEG scans.

An EEG scan records brainwave activity over 10 minutes of listening to Bach’s Goldberg variations, and the results that would normally print out on paper are rendered into a one-of-a-kind scarf.

A related story explains ‘Knitic‘, an open source knitting machine control module that is used to knit the scarves. The Knitic module controls a Brother knitting machine, allowing any pattern to be fed to the machine by computer, and the pattern to be changed on the fly.

Revealing nothing at all.

The developers of Knitic, also the developers of the Neuro Knitting project, aim to explore the intersection of science, technology and art. Their first project with a knitting machine was “SPAMpoetry“, creating poetry from spam email messages, and giving them knitted form.

Maybe if the force was with me, I’d cast on the right number of stitches on the first go…

A tutorial over at Instructables for making lightsaber knitting needles.

That light up.

Yes, you heard that right.

Knitting needles that look like lightsabers.

During WWKIP, there’s been a rash of sightings of knitters at sporting events… scaring the muggles a bit, maybe? A Norwegian football/soccer fan was recently spotting knitting in public, at a international juniors match in the UK. And a baseball fan was photographed knitting (although that could be crocheting, too) at a recent Washington Nationals game.

Pub-goers in Bath, UK, are knitting a 2-mile long scarf as part of a charity initiative to support a local hospice. The scarf will line the route between the pub and the hospice. When the event is complete, the scarf will be divided into pieces to make blankets for residents of a local home for the elderly, and for animals as a local shelter. Worth a click to see the photograph of the pub landlord wrapped up in the scarf!

A fitting honor.

Designer Kaffe Fassett is to have a rose named after him. The beatiful floribunda rose is a fitting choice, given the designer’s love of extravagant color and texture in his work.

First weekend of WWKIP: Where did you knit?

Kate knitted in the audience at a comedy show.

A sock, of course.

A sock, of course.

Amy’s LYS, The Purple Purl, yarnbombed a 400ft fence in a nearby park on Queen Street.


tools of the trade

tools of the trade


Zoe carefully examines an apple core


Lots of abandonded WIPs turned into fodder for yarnbombing


Michelle, Debbers and Miko help make the park more Purple


Every post needs a pompom hat


Jennifer sews up tube after tube



Rosa gets to work.

More photos on their Facebook page.

Lettuce Knit knitted and spun in public on their patio – yes, a yarn shop with a patio!

Brenna, spinning in the sunshine

Brenna demonstrating her vintage sock knitting machine

There may also have been snack breaks.

There may also have been snack breaks.

A brave knitter - some of us were too busy chatting to pay attention to lacework!

A brave knitter – some of us were too busy chatting to pay attention to lacework!

The weather was perfect.

The weather was perfect.

On Sunday, WWKIPTO hosted a huge event in Toronto’s high park.  Excellent picture here, courtesy KniterlyErin.

Knitters were spotted at the Relay for Life 24-hour road race fundraising event.

More events are scheduled for this coming weekend – check your local shops and guilds! Kate will be in Waterloo at the Shall We Knit Studiopalooza.

Last Saturday was also the third International Yarnbombing Day. Some fantastic photographs on the Instagram blog.

WWW: Putting the ‘Woolly’ in “Woolly Mammoth”; ‘Knitting Wars’; Virtual Wake

Can’t wait to see the pictures of the second installation – this time approved!

The Knitting Guild of the Desert, in Palm Springs California, is reinstalling their fantastic “legwarmers for Marilyn” yarnbomb – this time with permission from the city of Palm Springs! – to celebrate WWKIP on June 13th.  More details here. All day, knitters will be gathered around the statue, knitting, spinning and weaving.


Bobbly Beaver!


Putting the “woolly” in “woolly mammoth”

Amanda of KnitSocial sent us these terrific photos from a recent visit to the Yukon in Canada. The work of Yarn Bomb Yukon, who yarnbombed a DC-3 airplane last year, these prehistoric animal cozies may well be the most Canadian yarnbombs ever…

A nice article about handmade fashion, profiling instructors and sessions from last weekend’s Handmade New Zealand festival. In addition to knitting classes, there were sessions on re-purposing older clothes, and creating your own one-of-a-kind style.

Outstanding quote from knitting instructor Tash Barneveld, owner of a Petone yarn shop: “Once you can purl and plain, you’re away.” (“Plain” is the older term for “knit”, common in the UK and Australia and New Zealand. It’s what my grannie used to say, and it makes me smile.)

We knew it was fake immediately – “sew”?!

Interesting discussion alert: are we offended or not? A NYC-based PBS station has kicked off a small fuss with a new advertising campaign… they made posters for fake reality TV shows, making the point that if you believe such shows as “Married to a Mime” and “Bayou Eskimos” actually exist, then that says a lot about the current state of TV. One of the fake shows they created was “Knitting Wars’. I love knitting, but I’d be the first to admit you’d have a hard time making an interesting reality competition TV show out of it… 

A lovely virtual wake for Kathreen Ricketson of over at

How could you say no to that face?

A group of knitters at a retirement home in Scotland is making blankets for service dog puppies. I would knit blankets in exchange for regular visits from adorable service dog puppies – seems like a win for everyone!

Intriguing discussion on Yahoo! Answers… school project, perhaps?

Jillian’s Spinning: Consistency

I’ve been working on getting my singles more consistent. I’ve been using a sample that I regularly check my spinning against to make sure I’m on the right track.

A lot of spinners use a ply-back sample that they check regularly, but I find that doesn’t work for me.

Lately I’ve been using a wrapped card sample and I like it much better.

For me a ply-back sample works much better when I spin worsted, which is more than before, but not my standard spin.

wrapped card and ply back worsted spin

wrapped card and ply-back worsted spin

For me the wrapped card and ply-back with a worsted spin are similar, but I still use both, like on the card above.

Here’s why I don’t like a ply-back for woolen – the puff.

wrapped card and ply back woolen

wrapped card and ply-back woolen

The twist in the woolen ply-back sample is trying it’s best to crawl right off of the card, making the sample inconsistent. The wrapped singles stay put and consistent.

I use card stock, nothing heavier. I want to know if I’m pulling my single as I’m wrapping instead of just wrapping and card stock will buckle right away if there is extra tension. I cut the card stock into a rectangle-ish shape and cut slits at each end to anchor my yarn.  I anchor one end, wrap 10 or so times and anchor at the other end.

Some times I add a ply-back sample, just as an extra check.

When I check my singles, I hold the wrapped card next to the bobbin and check that the singles are a close enough match. It just works better for me. As a bonus, it saves the little bit of time it takes to pull singles off the bobbin and do a ply-back test and wind the singles back on the bobbin, it’s not much, but I’ll take any time saving measures.

Checking singles. The fiber is Blue Moon BFL Rocktober colorway.

Checking singles. The fiber is Blue Moon BFL Rocktober colorway.

Sometimes I punch a hole in the card to hang it from my wheel. When I’m very organized I write all of the info I’d like to remember about the fiber, wheel settings and spin on the back of the card.

How do you keep consistent?

A big (good!) change for LYS owners who use Knitty

Until this past Saturday, our official line on printing copies of Knitty patterns was pretty strict for LYSs. Only the customer could print their copy, and only on their own computer. Well, times have changed. I know of many, many LYSs that have a dedicated internet workstation for their customers, and some have that workstation attached to a printer. So I decided it was time to update our rules. We hope this will please many of you…we think it will!

As of June 1, 2013, we are officially encouraging yarn shops to let customers print their own patterns on shop premises! We have heard that some customers are not familiar enough with the internet, or are too eager to get started, to have to wait till they get home to print out a Knitty pattern, and a yarn sale might be lost. Since one of our goals at Knitty is to support the Local Yarn Shop, a lost sale for an LYS is something we want to help avoid. So whether you allow a customer access to your own computer/printer or provide a workstation for customer use, both methods are officially approved by Knitty, effective immediately. Charging in any way for this service, however, is not permitted. We feel this is a fair compromise that works to benefit everyone in the knitting community.

This still means the knitter is printing their own copy. They just don’t have to wait till they get home (or get someone who understands the internet to do it for them). We hope it means more happy knitters, happy LYS owners and that makes us happy, too.

Why can’t LYS owners charge for this privilege? Because that’s exchanging money for a Knitty pattern, even if it’s just to cover the paper and ink. That’s still not okay and never will be. LYSs can set their own rules — like a free printout if you buy the yarn to go with the project. That’s totally up to them. We don’t want people taking advantage and printing out pages and pages, and then just saying “toodeloo!” (But knitters are better people than that, aren’t they?) If a knitter wants to keep track of a Knitty pattern to browse at home, suggest they add it to their favorites on Ravelry, perhaps?

Feel free to spread the word about this change. If anyone gives you a tough time, you can point them to the official LYS FAQ page on Knitty, which also includes much of the information in this blog post.

Long live the LYS!