Monthly Archives: October 2013

WWW: What are you doing for November?

November is a busy month for fiber! You have some spare time don’t you?  Are you participating in either of these?

Just one of Sugaroni's Ravatars for NaKniSweMo

Just one of Sugaroni’s Ravatars for NaKniSweMo



Can you knit a 50,000 stitch sweater in a month? You bet you can with the NaKniSweMo group there for support. Founded in 2006 by Shannon Okey the participation grows every year. The Ravelry KAL group has some sweet Ravatars, designed by Sugaroni. Everything is easier with a cool Ravatar.
Wovember WALWOVEMBER is all about showing our love and appreciation for all things wool in the month of November.

For the first time this year there is a WAL, a Wool-Along, an idea concocted in the Wovember Ravelry group. The idea behind the WAL is to spend the month of November using only wool.

For the competitive fiber folk out there, there are prizes for the WAL. All of the details are here.



The one, the only NaNoWriMo

The one, the only, NaNoWriMo



There are some fearless fiber folk who are also participating in the November project that started it all   NaNoWriMo. They will write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November as well as knit a sweater. Someone pass the coffee.



Jillian’s Spinning: A Sweater Fail and Fiberstory Fiber Blending

I believe I alluded to a sweater fail a couple of posts ago. I still need to rip it. Another thing I love about handspun is how resilient it is to riiiiiping.

Here’s the fail, a wonky set of increases, perfectly matched on both sides.

Weird increase

Weird increase

I knew the fail was there and that it looked weird and I just kept knitting. I knit about 4 more inches past the weird increase. What did I do? I convinced myself to increase into every other stitch, instead of just at the beginning, for a cardigan front. What did I get? A ripple, a ruffle, a lump, and a bump. I can clearly remember saying to my knitting self, “That looks wrong, rip it now!” My knitting self answered the ultimate knitting lie, “It’s fine, an increase is an increase. It will block out”.  The arguing went on in my head until my knitting self threw out a lie so big, that I finally had to stop knitting and laugh, ” I can just embroider over it”.  I’m going away for the weekend for a knitting/spinning getaway with friends and this is coming along for some ripping among friends who will understand.

I went to Rhinebeck and I shopped more than I should have. Of course, that didn’t stop me from going to the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo this past weekend. I wasn’t going to go, really wasn’t. But as the clock ticked toward the opening time, I finished my tea, took a shower and hollered to my family that I’d be back in an hour. A fiber event 15 minutes from my house is just like having potato chips in the house, I know I’m going to go there.

I only shopped at one place, Fiberstory, a long time favorite. The Weird Increase sweater is Fiberstory fiber from last year (or is it two years?). I did buy enough for a sweater.

Fiberstory, Steptember (BFL/Tussah) and Cider Mill (Merino)

Fiberstory, Steptember (BFL/Tussah) and Cider Mill (Merino)

I plan on blending them, mostly. In a weird twist of my brain, I decide to only blend most of it, a pound, and leave the last 8 oz of Cider Mill by itself, and work them together in a garment. We’ll see how it goes.

Yes, I did sample and swatch.

Blended/plied and just plied. Both are 2-ply, woolen spun.

Blended/plied and just plied. Both are 2-ply, woolen spun.

On the left, I blended the colorways while drafting and plied. I think it kills all of the colors, especially the odd little gold/green. The right is each colorway spun separately and plied together. I like it much better. The pink/purple is more a cast or shadow than a blanket like it is in the blended version. Now I need to sample and swatch Cider Mill all by itself. I’ll add that to my weekend list.

This weekend I’ll have about a day and a half for crafting. First I started with one project – finish spinning my Spunky Eclectic Pomegranate Martini. I could do that easily. Then the what-ifs start. What if I finish and I have nothing to do? What if we get snowed in? What if there is some seismic activity that causes a rip in time and what is a day in half in the lower part of Michigan is really 5 days up north? A girl can dream.

I’m bringing 20 movies and a pile of projects.

A colorway and a contest!


Tina keeps chickens because she loves having them around. Eggs are a bonus.

In spring, I got a chance to visit the Blue Moon Fiber Arts world headquarters in Scappoose, Oregon. An unassuming barn/dye studio, full to the rafters (literally) with rich color, built by Tina as the perfect workspace for her and her team to produce the Blue Moon yarns we are so fond of. And occasionally, you’ll find her latest brood of baby chicks, until they’re big enough to join the rest of the flock outside.

The inspiration imageHere’s Tina’s recounting of our time together:

Almost everyone who comes to visit me wants to immerse themselves in the dye barn for at least a few hours. Some come just to play and some come with a clear vision. Amy had a very clear vision and even a photo. I love a woman with a clear plan.

She had this beautiful picture of lobelia in a grey metal bucket against a white wall. Great contrast between the white wall and the jeweled richness of Lobelia’s cobalt blue.

The blues and greens are what we decided we wanted to focus on since you can always knit it with white yarn as the contrast. I had a great time playing with colors and helping Amy translate her color ideas onto yarn. I think Amy did too.

I did! I took this photo outside a Farm Shop in Wales. The color is unretouched…Lobelia really is that deep blue color and I imagined it might be a challenge to replicate. Silly me! It was fascinating watching Tina pull a few jars of color from her well-stocked shelves, knowing exactly which tones would produce the result we wanted the first time. I was mesmerized with the way her eyes, brain and hands effortlessly translated the photo into this colorway!

Tina starts working out the colorway, taking careful notes so she can replicate it.

The final result! So lovely! What would you call it?

The colorway is the star of one of our Surprise patterns…Regatta, designed by Kate Atherley! But the colorway needs a name, so we’re turning to you! What would you name this colorway? Prize is two skeins of Socks That Rock: one in the new colorway and one in the colorway of the winner’s choice.

Contest rules: leave a comment on this post with your name for the colorway between now and midnight eastern time, Monday, October 28th. The winning name will be chosen by a Knitty committee and Tina. Our winner will be notified by email.

Good Luck!

WWW: Rhinebeck video, World Record, Mary Maxim Sweaters

Love love love: Rhinebeck Style” by Gale Zucker. In 2010 and 2012 Gale put up a backdrop at Rhinebeck and asked knitters if they wished to pose in front of it for pictures. Knitters, as they do, obliged, and this fantastic slide show, set to very appropriate music, was born. So much wonderful eye candy. I kept pausing it to see the individual pieces.

This is the best thing I’ve seen all week.

There are so many things I love about this story: David Babcock, a graphic design professor from the University of Missouri, has set a new world record for the longest scarf knitted while running a marathon. I am highly amused that someone tried knitting while running. I think it’s rather amazing that someone kept knitting through an entire marathon. I adore that the article reports on the technical details of the scarf. But best of all: I love that there’s actually a Guinness World Record for this activity.

A classic example.

A tremendous piece in the Toronto Star from last weekend about the history of the “Mary Maxim” sweater – also known as a curling sweater. This garments were the height of fashion in the 1950s and 60s, and their story is part of the fabric (pun intended) of Canadian life. So many Canadians tell stories about these sweaters – the remember their mothers and grandmothers making them, they remember wearing them, they’ve made one themselves. The comments on the article online are all reminiscences about these sweaters. They remain popular, vintage clothing stores continue to sell them, and interesting examples are highly sought after. The patterns are still available in Canada and the US through Mary Maxim, and you can buy kits or a booklet.

I’m lucky enough to have a few of these original patterns – and a 1960s vintage catalog – in my library, acquired from my husband’s elderly relatives. I’ve blogged about this, and I get a request at least once a month from a knitter seeking out the patterns.

Yeah, this is pretty great: a giant squid yarnbomb!

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, consider a trip to KnitCity in Vancouver this weekend. I’ll be there! Say hello!

And if you’re on the eastern seabord of the US, consider the Blended Threads workshop in Maryland, lead by author Deborah Robson. The focus of the retreat is fiber, and the weekend will be spent preparing, spinning, playing with and working with all sorts of fibers. Sounds most wonderful.

Jillian’s Spinning: A Little Bit of Rhinebeck

Just back from teaching at Rhinebeck – my heart is full and my brain is disastrously empty. I couldn’t find toothpaste at the grocery store this morning.

I have only a few pictures and they are all from my phone, so forgive the quality.


Beth Smith and I traveled together. We had so much stuff for our classes that we had to borrow her husband’s SUV because it all wouldn’t fit in my car.

Heading out!

Heading out!

My classroom sign. Happy sigh. I taught 6 classes over 4 days.

It never gets old....

It never gets old….

Into the Whirled’s booth right before the show opened. I may have shopped, and didn’t get everything I wanted. I left the Multipass colorway behind and at the end of the show there was none left.

Did some shopping at Into the Whirled.

Did some shopping at Into the Whirled.

A gathering of the cool kids at Jennie the Potter’s booth.

The cool kids at Jennie's booth.

The cool kids at Jennie’s booth.

Beth bought a hat. I called her Princess Anastasia for the rest of the show.

Beth channels the lost Princess Anastasia

Beth channels the lost Princess Anastasia

One day we went to the Me Oh My Pie Shop in Red Hook and had a pie appetizer before dinner. This is pear, ginger and sour cream pie. It was a s good as you think.

Pie appetizer

Pie appetizer

My students were smart, curious and game to try everything I threw at them. Tina from Nimblestix demonstrates how they felt at the end of class, exhausted, but smiling.



Did you know that both Jennie and Beth love Justin Timberlake?

Jennie and Beth bonding over their love for Justin Timberlake

Jennie and Beth bonding over their love for Justin Timberlake

My companions for the ride home: Jill Draper’s Empire, my Denise2Go needle set,  Starbucks and Pride and Prejudice on audio. The drive to Rhinebeck and back from Ann Arbor is almost exactly as long as an unabridged audiobook of P&P.

Homeward bound

Homeward bound

The haul. Even though we only had about an hour to shop in between teaching, I managed to shop. I even scored a Jennie the Potter Rhinebeck mug!

Rhinebeck goodies!

Rhinebeck goodies!

I’ll talk about the haul in detail another day, right now I have to do laundry!



WWW: Lost Shawl, Rhinebeck Envy, Cocktail-appropriate Knitting Bags

What a wonderful piece of work.

Absolutely heartbreaking: A Toronto area knitter worked on a beautiful shawl project while she sat at the bedside of her critically ill husband. Susan Cottrell knitted as they waited for his double lung transplant, she knitted as he made his slow and difficult recovery. And at the end, she had an absolutely spectacular shawl. She blocked it, and wrapped it up to take the hospital to weave the ends in, ready to start wearing it.

And then it disappeared. It was in a plastic bag, and the fear is that it was thrown away by mistake.

You’ve probably read this post from Stephanie, the Yarn Harlot, but if you haven’t, do. Warms the heart in so many many ways. I wonder if a similar little miracle could happen for Susan?

A great way to spend a day. (Or two.)

This weekend is the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival, also known as Rhinebeck, after the town where the event is held. Our own Jillian is teaching there – look for dispatches from her on the blog and on Twitter. If you’re within driving distance of the event, it’s a most excellent way to spend a fall day – yes, there’s all sorts of yarny goodness and shopping and demonstrations and classes, but there are also all the great fall fair activities: animal exhibits and livestock shows, cooking demonstrations, and of course, fantastic food. It’s a beautiful time of year, and a visit to Rhinebeck is a great way to take it all in.

So, so very good.

Having recently attended a wedding at which knitting was “encouraged“, (I am quoting the invitation here, people), I am all over these Erte bags for carrying your knitting. It is not easy to find a knitting bag that goes with a cocktail dress. Many thanks to the always appropriately attired Franklin for bringing these to my attention.

It’s Wool Week in the UK, and there are all sorts of events and activities going on to mark the occasion. I really liked some of the wooly fashions in this slideshow.

In which home decor specialists discover what we’ve known all along: knit fabrics are cozy. I do like the suggestions for making pillows from old sweaters.

Do we have any Norwegian readers who will be watching the epic 9 hours of knitting related television being broadcast November 1st? We’re jealous, and would love to know how it is! Let us know in the comments! Does anyone know if it will be streamed online? Maybe we could all watch it!

Jillian’s Spinning: Gratitude!

As you read this I am on my way to teach at Rhinebeck.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to teach at one of my fiber happy places.

Here’s about half of the my teaching materials, plus I’m riding with Beth Smith who has a ton of teaching supplies. It all didn’t ft in my car. We ended up borrowing her husband’s SUV.

About 25 pounds of fiber. Everybody sample!

About 25 pounds of fiber.
Everybody sample!


I hope to see some of you at the show. I’ll be the one grinning from ear to ear!

Things that Make Kate Happy

Sunshine. Sock knitting. And a very strong americano.


The yarn is Paton’s Kroy, a criminally underappreciated sock yarn. It’s unbelievably hardwearing (my fave 75% wool/25% nylon blend), machine washes and dries beautifully, and great to knit with. And it’s easily found at mainstream craft and yarn stores, and the price point is terrific.  There are also excellent colors. I’m making a pair of manly socks, so the colorway is manly, but there are some great brights available, too. My only grumble about the yarn is that the ball band recommends a larger needle than sensible – I use my usual US 1.5/2.5mm. Anything in the US 0-2 (2mm-2.75mm) would be great.

The coffee is an americano – two shots of espresso with a bit of hot water on top to make it a longer drink — from Cafe Unwind. I take my coffee black, and an americano is a full-bodied and flavourful drink, dark and a little bit bitter. Cafe Unwind is a little coffee shop across the park from where we live, and it’s a regular stop on our dog walks. The coffee is excellent, and the baked goods (a different muffin everyday!) outstanding.

Yarndale in pictures

Yarndale is a brand-new fiber festival, held in Skipton, Yorkshire, in the UK. A tiny market town, charming as one could hope for, Skipton was overwhelmed by the arrival of The Knitters as we clogged their roadways and filled their pubs after the show was over. This first show, launched by a team of seven clever women, was an unqualified success, with vendors reporting stellar sales, especially on the first day. New-event hiccups like running out of parking spaces and half-hour lineups for the loo were solved by the 2nd day, as the organizers rejigged the parking plan, and brought in lots of portable toilets.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the event, the variety of the vendors and public response. It was a joyful place to be. Here, a selection of pictures from the weekend.

Signs in the charity shops in town announce the event

Signs in the charity shops in town announce the event

6,212 crocheted bunting triangles welcome and overwhelm us!

Read more about this incredible bunting project here.

Tea cosy competition entries

Tea cosy competition entries

And now, the wares for sale...

And now, the wares for sale…

Kits from Purl & Jane

Kits from Purl & Jane

Gorgeous crochet from The Natural Dye Studio

Gorgeous crochet from The Natural Dye Studio



Natural Dye Studio yarn

Natural Dye Studio yarn



Ann Kingstone in her fab bunny fair isle design

Ann Kingstone in her fab bunny fair isle design

baa ram ewe's Knitty Narnia booth!

baa ram ewe’s Knitty Narnia booth! Enter through the wardrobe….

One of the baa ram ewe Knitty tribute patterns knit in their Titus yarn!

One of the baa ram ewe Knitty tribute patterns knit in their Titus yarn!

Lots of yummy Titus

Lots of yummy Titus

Need. Break?

Need a break?

The lineup to meet the legendary Lucy of the Attic24 blog never ended all weekend

The lineup to meet the legendary Lucy of the Attic24 blog never ended all weekend

Lucy's legendary crocheted handiwork

Lucy’s legendary crocheted handiwork



Yes, that's a brass band (a great one) in a sheep pen.

Yes, that’s a brass band (a great one) in a sheep pen.

So much more, but hopefully you get the idea. An event on a scale with Rhinebeck’s legendary Sheep & Wool Festival, in terms of quality and variety (and one can only hope it will grow to Rhinebeck’s size as years go on). Worth a visit? An unqualified yes from me.

More info: baa ram ewe | Attic 24 | The Natural Dye Studio

WWW: Knitting TV, Change in Amy’s Teaching Schedule, Caribou Knits update

Dianne in Aurora, Colorado is the lucky winner of our Offhand Designs bag giveway. Many thanks to Offhand Designs for the prize.

Change in Amy’s tour dates: If you’re in the UK and hoping to catch up with Amy for a class, note that there’s been a change in her schedule.  Due to the cancellation of Fibre Flurry, she’s now going to be teaching  the weekend of October 26 & 27 at Purlescence in Wantage, Oxfordshire.

What’s not to love?

The Norwegian national broadcaster, NRK, has announced that on November 1st they will broadcast 9 hours of knitting-related television. The centerpiece is a five-hour show dedicated to broadcasting a sheep-to-sweater world-record-breaking attempt.  (The previous record of four hours and 51 minutes is held by a group of Australians.)

To lead into that, they will also broadcast a four-hour documentary about the process of taking wool from fleece to sweater.

I sadly don’t speak a word of Norwegian, so I haven’t the faintest idea what they are saying in this preview video on the NRK website, but the video of the speedy knitters working away, shots of a yarn shop, and, images of beautiful hand knits is worth watching even without the soundtrack.

These programs are part of the “slow TV” movement. Imagine how far you could get with your holiday knitting with nine whole hours of this to watch!

Doubly useful.

If there can be sheep-to-sweater, why not mower-to-mittens? Delhi Township in Michigan is using a flock of 30 sheep to mow the grass of the public spaces in the community, and the sheep are being sheared, and the wool is being used to make hats, mittens and yarn sold in local arts and crafts stores.

Fibre Space, a yarn shop in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C. is offering free knitting classes to US government workers affected by the shutdown.

Update on the Caribou Knits program: as of October 4th, over 40 scarves have been knitted in response to the use of the #CaribouKnits hashtag on Twitter.