Monthly Archives: August 2013

WWW: Close Knit Gansey Exhibition, Fibre Flurry with Amy, Real Body Croquis

A typical croquis template.

Love this: Real Body Croquis. Fashion designers and illustrators often use ‘croquis‘ – outline sketches of models – as the basis of their sketches and drawings, and in the design process.  The industry-standard croquis templates have a very “Barbie-doll” like form – tall, skinny and almost entirely unlike real people.  A group of volunteers, led by two young women, has launched an initiative to create and distribute more realistic, more representative croquis templates.  There are all shapes and sizes of women – curvy and not, petite and plus-sized, tall and short. They templates are available for free on their website.  The group is also encouraging everyone to submit photos of themselves to be turned into these templates for others to use.

Realistic, real, and beautiful.

Gorgeous pieces.

Blogger The Knitting Genealogist writes about her visit to the “Close Knit” exhibition at the Hull Maritime Museum, in Hull, U.K. The exhibition features many beautiful ganseys – the traditional British fisherman’s sweater, quite different from the arans we often think of when we the phrase “fisherma’sn sweater” is mentioned. The gansey is a practical garment, designed for everyday wear, with details like easily removable cuffs to be replaced when they wear out. Close-fitting, and worked in fine wool yarns at a tight gauge – usually in greys or blues – these sweaters were worn day-in, day-out by fisherman all around the UK; the lighter-colored ones were saved for Sunday best.

There are many historical examples in the exhibition, as well as contemporary textile and knitwear designs inspired by them. There’s also a collection of 19th century knitting tools. Sounds like a must-see!

A design created by a student on a PUCHKA tour.

A little further afield, Textile/Folk Art Tour company PUCHKA Peru is advertising some upcoming tours. Mixing history, beautiful landscapes and classes and workshops in indigenous Peruvian fiber arts, the tours look absolutely wonderful. A past traveller on one of the tours writes about her experience here. The tapestries created by the students are fantastic, and the in-progress shorts give you a sense of the process and the artistry involved.

Looks like a flurrying-good time!

Looks like a flurrying-good time!

If you’re in UK or Europe, considering joining Amy Singer, Rock-and-Purl Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, Rachel Coopey, Anniken Allis, Ann Kingstone, Woolly Wormhead and a host of other top-tier teachers in Birmingham this October 26-27th, for the Fibre Flurry. Classes, workshops and a retail fair.

I’m ready!

If you’re in North America that weekend, consider joining Kate Atherley, Fiona Ellis, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Kim McBrien of indigodragonfly, Kim Werker and many others  in Vancouver for the second annual Knit City weekend. Classes, workshops, demonstrations and a retail fair.

The work of our fore-knitters.

Fascinating insights into the knits and knitters of a previous generation: a blogger writes about a set of patterns published in Australia in 1943, with patterns for servicewomen, and works through a very clever pattern for gloves worked on two needles.

Jillian’s Spinning: Yarn Vision and What’s Your Spinzilla Team?

Spunky Eclectic, Polwarth singles

Spunky Eclectic, Polwarth singles

What is a Yarn Vision?

When you sit at your wheel to create yarn do you know what you want to spin?

If you are spinning for something other than just the spin of it, do you know how to get there? Can you see the finished yarn in your mind’s eye, feel it running through your hands as you knit? Can you see the finished project beautifully created from your yarn?

Do you ever take more than a second to think about the yarn you want to make, to use? Even before you sample, before you buy or shop your stash for fiber?

Taking time to really describe the yarn you want to use can be the difference in loving your final yarn and project.

When I express all of the details of a future yarn I call it a Yarn Vision. I do it when I am spinning for a specific project, I do it when I want to learn something new and I do it to stretch my creativity in spinning.

I started doing it because I would spend most of my time just spinning aimlessly and even when I had a project or yarn in mind I would sit at my wheel and hope for the best. Needless to say I was disappointed most of the time!

So now I dream part of the time and plan a bit of the time to make a Yarn Vison and I spin with clearer ideas and intent. I find spin more because my time is better balanced between dreaming and spinning. I also find I spin with more creativity because my best creative moments come from veering from a path (what if I do it the way everyone says you can’t?) or combining paths that I’ve never put together before.

My planning usually consists of asking myself questions.  I love questions, I love lists and I’m a visual person, so my Yarn Vision frequently looks like an explosion of fiber, paper, tags, markers and photos.


Briar Rose lofty merino 2-ply
Briar Rose lofty merino 2-ply

For a project I ask myself:

  •  What is the project?
  •  How do I want it to look and feel?
  • How does it have to hold up, how much friction will it get?
  • Does it have to be machine washable?
  • Type of fiber?
  • Amount of drape?
  • Smooth, shiny or wooly fuzzy?
  • Gauge?
  • Is it for someone?
  • Do they have favorite colors, fiber allergies?
  • Do I have all of the measurements I need?
  • Practicals
  • What yardage do I need?
  • How much fiber will I need?
  • How much for sampling?
  • Is there a deadline?
 learning to love yellow

Bricolage Studios batt, learning to love yellow

For stretching my creativity spinning I base my yarn on something non-fibery.

  • A word
  • A phrase
  • An idea
  • An inspiration – book, movie, person
  • A photo


Cjkoho BFL, singles as cables
Cjkoho BFL, singles as cables

For learning spinning I pick a skill or challenge, like:

  • Spin longwool woolen
  • Spin and knit something to wear with less than 2oz of fiber
  • Spin 8 oz of fiber worsted
  • Read a chapter in a spinning book and spin as lessons
  • Make a color I don’t like work with a color I love


How do you envision yarn you’ll spin?



Spinzilla is coming!

Spinzilla is coming!

Spinzilla is Coming! Who are you spinning for?

 Spinzilla is a spinning competition that will raise awareness of handspinning and raise money for the Needle Arts Mentoring Program.

Join one of the more than 30 Spinzilla teams and see how much yardage you can spin during Spinning and Weaving Week – October 7-13.

The team that spins the most yarn will win fabulous prizes and have bragging rights until next year.

The Spinzilla teams created by a variety of spinning-related companies – retailers, wholesalers, publishers, etc. can  have a maximum of 25 members each and sign ups end on September 23rd.

How much can you spin in a week?


More folks are going to be talking about spinning and Spinzilla on their blogs over the next few weeks. Be sure to check them out!

2013 Spinzilla Blog Tour

8/27 – Jillian Moreno  – That’s Me!– Creating a Yarn Vision: Knowing What Yarn to Spin

9/4 –   Deb Robson – Fast and Easy Wools to Spin

9/11 – Felicia Lo – Spinning Hand Dyed Yarns

9/18 – Beth Smith – Fiber Prep for Production Spinning

9/25 – Sarah Anderson – Twists and Singles

10/2 – Liz Good – Resources for Measuring Yarn





WWW: Banned from the Library?; Ricefield Collective Project launch; Knitting and Music Festival

Supporting her family and her chosen lifestyle through craft.

Following up on a story from a few months ago: The Ricefield Collective website is up and running, and hand-knit hat and cowls are available for preorder now. These items are created by members of the Ifugao people, for the Phillipines.  The Ifugao people have traditionally farmed rice terraces, and their income is dropping. The families are being forced to move, away from their homeland.  The objective of the business is to sell their handwork worldwide, to enable the Ifugao people to continue to support themselves and live in the manner they chose.

A knitting group in Northumberland UK has been asked to move their meetings to another location, after others have complained about the noise they make when they meet in their local library, and because their needles could be ‘dangerous’. Although I can’t imagine that the knitters are causing any serious trouble, I do know that any stitch night event I attend does tend to be noisy… and it’s true that I might be tempted to stab someone who interfered with my knitting… 🙂 🙂 :-).

Singing along while you knit…

Love it: British yarn company Toft Alpaca is hosting what is possibly the first ever Knitting and Music festival, at their farm in Dunchurch, Warwickshire. The event includes a a tour of the alpaca farm, a farm to yarn talk, barbecue and refreshments, and a musical performance by singer-songwriter Lisbee Stainton. Ms. Stainton encourages attendees to knit through her performance! More info and tickets here. Sounds like a great day out!

Not knitting, but adorable: a crocheter makes a new nest for baby birds. Crochet designer Janet Taylor turned a hat into a nest for baby goldcrest birds whose own nest fell out of a tree.

Woolly Wormhead, master hat designer , has published a collection of some of her favorite hat patterns. The book, Hatopia, is being sold to raise funds for the legal support of Mutonia, the artists’ community in which she lives, in Italy. The residents are under serious threat of eviction from the community, and funds are being raised to help fight for their right to remain on the land. You can read the background on the story here.

Great hats, and a good cause.



WWW: The Computational Model of Knitting; Ontario’s First Mobile Yarn Shop; Knit the Bridge Complete!

Absolutely fascinating: the Computational Model of Knitting. The wiki K2G2, – “krafty knerds and geek girls” – has a marvellous series of posts about “Computational Craft”. The posts examine knitting (and other crafts) from the perspective of computer science. Knitting instructions can be seen as programs, and the motions can be seen as computations – straight needles acting as a LIFO (last in, first out) queue, circular knitting is a FIFO (first in, first out) queue.

As a mathematician, for a long time I’ve drawn parallels between patterns and programming languages, but I’ve never made the leap to seeing the movements that way. Love it.

Part one, part two.

Related: a web designer contemplates parallels between her knitting projects and her professional web design projects. Agree completely: prototyping is critical in both! For web designers, a prototype might be a limited version of the website or application… for knitters… you know what this means, right? A swatch! Or at least a mini version..

Ready for installation…

An update on a story we reported on a while ago: the Knit The Bridge project in Pittsburgh, to cover the Andy Warhol Bridge with knitting… an excellent video report. Some fantastic photos of the complete project on the blog.

What a great event!

Oh to be on the west coast of the US: the weekend of September 13-15, the annual Vashon Island Sheepdog trials are to be held, and this year the event is adding a yarny component: Skacel knitting is sponsoring a fiber arts tent, hosting local yarny vendors, classes and demonstrations. Dogs a knitting: sounds like a perfect day out!

Roving around Ontario…

Following the success of the Yarnover Truck, Kingston, Ontario-based knitter Joan Sharpe has launched the first mobile yarn shop in Eastern Canada, Purlin’ J’s Roving Yarn Company. (Ha!) The truck, ‘Lil’ Dorothy’, named after Joan’s mother, is a former fire service vehicle that has been specially kitted out to carry yarn and related goodies. Joan is a life-long knitter, and she is looking forward to taking the yarn to the knitters, at festivals and events all over Eastern Ontario.

WWW: Extraordinary yarnbombings, Clever Girls on Switch-Boards, Yarny Magazine Covers

Yes, that is life-size. An actual train.

Ok, I know it’s not knitting, but it’s a big enough project that it’s worthy of mention: Yarn-bomber extraordinaire Olek has crocheted an entire four-car locomotive. Yes, that’s right. A train.

Love it!

Also not knitting, but also very cool yarnbombing: Marcy Kraft created “Rubik’s Cubes” for the Children’s Park across from San Diego Convention Center. She installed slipcovers on 30 of the grey concrete seating cubes for Comic-Con this year, and hopes to cover all 60 of them for Comic-Con 2014, next year being the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube puzzle toy.

More about the project and Marcy’s other yarmnbombing efforts – including an excellent giant Etch-a-Sketch board – here.

And matching bikini, naturally.

And then there’s this: a knit Vespa with sidecar.

Over 100 prisoners have been trained to knit and crochet since the program started in 2009.

Both knitting and crocheting, both interesting, and controversial: Brazilian fashion designer Raquel Guimaraesis is employing inmates from a maximum security prison Arisvaldo de Campos Pires to knit her designs for her. In addition to being paid for their work, for every three days of knitting or crochet, an inmate gets one day off their sentence. Those who wish to participate in the program receive training, and their work is check for quality, to ensure it meets the requirements set by the designer. The designer herself has provided training, and works with the participants. The finished items are sold in over 70 stores in Brazil, and around the world.

That should be “Clever girls on Skype…”, maybe?

A blogger in the UK shows off an excellent find of vintage 1950s era Vogue Knitting Magazines. Drool-worthy indeed! I love this ad that was on the back of one of the magazines… Yup, I knit when I’m on the phone, talking on a headset, it’s true.

So cool.

Wow. Danish artist Inge Jacobsen has created yarn replicas of covers of some of the world’s best-known magazines. Combining yarn, cross stitch and embroidery, the pieces are fantastic, and are an invitation to look not just at the subject of the photography, but the photograph itself. More info on the artist’s work on her site, here.

Jillian’s Spinning: Who’s Going to Rhinebeck?

Maybe it’s because the weather where I live is unusually cool for August – it was 73 yesterday. But I feel fall coming.

To a lot of spinners the event that makes our hearts beat faster in the fall is – Rhinebeck, the New York Sheep and Wool Festival.

This year it’s October 19th and 20th, with extra class time on October 17th and 18th.

Who’s going? Where are you staying? What will you buy? The vendor list is up!


My sweater yarn, swatched.

What are you knitting for your Rhinebeck sweater? I’m knitting a cardigan using Ann Budd’s  most excellent  Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters with handspun of course.


Are you taking classes? Have you looked at the list? There are lots of spinning classes taught by teachers from all over the county.

Annis knit out of handspun

Annis knit out of handspun

This year I’m teaching for four days which means I can’t take classes or shop much. Usually, I take a least one half day class, even if it’s something I’ve taken a class in before. There are always new ideas, and new perspectives, plus the classes usually give my shopping new direction.

The half day classes I’m teaching this year are all about knitting with handspun, because that’s what I love.

Straw into Gold: Knitting with Handspun

The Difference a Ply Makes: Choosing the Right Ply for Your Knitting Project

I Like Big Yarn and I Cannot Lie : Spinning Big Lofty Yarn

Square Peg in a Round Hole: Using Your Handspun for Knitting Patterns Written for Commercial Yarn

What are your Rhinebeck plans?