Monthly Archives: January 2014

WWW: New Places to Shop for Yarn, Small Knits and Kate’s a Star (Shhh, there’s a giveaway)

It’s the middle of winter, what better time to shop for more yarn. Several companies are opening news shops or refreshing what they already have. Here are a few I noticed this week:

Albany has Lion Brand

Albany has Lion Brand



Lion Brand Yarn Company is opening a new shop in Albany, New York



Briar Rose has a new website

Briar Rose has a new website



Briar Rose Fiber has a brand new website, making it easier to shop for her yarn and fibers.




new sweater kits

new sweater kits


Vancouver based sweater design company, Granted, has begun selling kits for their Pacific Northwest inspired sweaters.




Knit all of the small things!

Knit all of the small things!


Do you love to knit accessories? There is a new knitting retreat for you! The Small Knits Symposium will take place in Bloomington, Indiana on April 24-27. Organized by Lana Holden of Skew Sock fame, the teachers this year are Lorilee Beltman and Sivia Harding.





Kate Atherley, who usually does our Wednesday post, is away teaching this week. So we thought we would offer you a chance to take one of her classes, online. Kate has a brand new Learn to Knit class with Annie’s Crafts. Here’s what it’s about: Join expert knitter Kate Atherley as she makes learning how to knit fun and easy for anyone. In this all-new Annie’s video class, you’ll learn all the basics of knitting from how to hold the yarn and needles, casting on your first stitches, the knit and purl stitches, how to bind off, stockinette stitch, ribbing, seed stitch, and basic increasing and decreasing. Class includes 8 beginner projects. 

We have one class to give away. Retail value $24.95

Regular contest rules: leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Sunday February 2nd. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the class. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance. –



Jillian’s Spinning: Handspun Stitching on Handspun Knitting

I’ve been making progress on spinning yarn that I can stitch with, take a look:

Front to back: tencel, alpaca/silk, merino/silk - all Lisa Souza fiber

Front to back: tencel, alpaca/silk, merino/silk – all Lisa Souza fiber. All yarns are 2-ply

The blue Merino/silk is about 18 wpi, the green alpaca/silk is 24 wpi and the tencel is 28 wpi. Regular 6 strand DMC embroidery floss is 22 wpi. I feel really good about these yarns. Of course there are different things I want to try and I want to spin finer, but that is why I keep spinning ,to keep learning!

I stitched with handspun on handspun. First I did a little feather stitch with a dk singles on a 2-ply chunky stockinette swatch.

Feather stitch

Feather stitch

This took about a second and was fun and satisfying. I immediately realized I couldn’t pull so hard with embroidery on knitting. The embroidery floats on the top.When I pulled tightly it sunk into the knitted fabric and disappeared.  I was a little disappointed that yarn that is variegated for knitting isn’t variegated for stitching. I need much shorter color runs for my yarn. More fun to ponder.

Then I used my freshly spun yarns. A little flower on a cabled swatch.

Blue Flower

Blue Flower

The yarns behaved beautifully (win!) and didn’t fuzz much with repeated pulling out and restitching. I like this as a first go at stitching on textured knitting. I am curious about different ways to stitch on already textured fabric. There is lots to sample and stitch in this realm.

I’m loving this so much I have to remind myself to go back to my regular work. It’s exciting to have something new – the embroidery and something old – spinning to pair up. It’s great to have a new technique to dig into with spinning – spinning fine. This is exactly why I never say never when it comes to craft. I didn’t want to spin fine in the past becasue I didn’t want to knit or weave with it, but now that I want to stitch with handspun, spinning fine is at the top of my spinning to-do list.

Vogue Knitting Live; Blocking On The Road


I felt very welcome indeed!

Earlier this month, Amy and I were lucky enough to teach at Vogue Knitting Live in New York City. What a fantastic event it was!

Now, it’s no secret that NYC is one of my favourite places in the entire world, and the idea that I got to go there and do my favourite thing – teaching knitting – was just too exciting.

The event was held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Right in the middle of the madness.

2014-01-19 20.43.13

There are knitters in these crowds.

Amy and I both had a full slate of classes

This was a fun one!

This was a fun one!

But we did get some time to wander around, eat bagels, and of course, drink coffee.

Coffee is very important.

Coffee is very important.

Now, being a designer, I’m always keen to show off my own designs at an event like this. I’ve been busy with some sooper-sekrit design work, but I did have one thing on the needles that I’d been meaning to finish – a chunky version of my Rickenbacker shawl. (More details on it here.)

I worked on it on the plane on the way there – binding off the last stitch as we trundled up to the gate.

Ready to wear!

Ready to wear!

I wore it that first day, ends a-dangling, unblocked.

Living on the edge, knitter-style.

Living on the edge, knitter-style.

But as an instructor, I knew I couldn’t get away with that for long. So that evening I soaked the shawl in the hotel bathroom sink, rolled it in a towel to wring it dry… and then lacking pins or wires, indulged in my favorite cheat for a triangle shawl – hanging!

Improvised blocking. Worked brilliantly!

Improvised drying rack. Worked brilliantly!

I had a fantastic time – so many great students, so much fabulous yarn, so much to see and do. I look forward to going back.

WWW: Mathematical Knitting; On Recreating a WWI-era Sweater, Vogue Knitting Live Class Report

Makes my nerdy heart beat faster: the 2014 Joint Mathematics Meetings, put on by the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America last week featured a full day special session on Mathematics and Mathematics Education in Fiber Arts.

One of the highlights was Carolyn Yackel‘s session on creating modified Truchet tiles, which she called p4m tiles. The best part? They were inspired by the Templeton Square competition in Knitty.

And another session, led by Elizabeth L. Wilmer, was all about a mathematical formula for truly random cables, something she started pondering after seeing the Knitty random-cable design “Chaos”.

One of my students, starting her first sock!

Self-promotion alert: Amy Kasper of the Knitting Examiner sat in on one of my Vogue Knitting classes last weekend, and she writes a report.

A full run-down of the event is here.

The assignment.

Designer Elizabeth Lovick writes about recreating and knitting a WW1-era sweater for a film production. It’s a lovely sweater, and the blog post is a nice insight into how you analyze a garment for recreation. Can’t wait to see more pictures of the sweater as it grows!

Astounding! Fantastic! Clever! Adorable! Tiny! Potter-riffic!

Gratuitous puppy-in-handknit-sweater-photo alert! A group in Lincolnshire in the UK is making and collecting hand-knit sweaters for a local dog shelter.

It’s great to see Susan Crawford and her Knitted Swimsuit project getting a shout-out on this blog post about the history of swimwear.

Might be good for those friends and family members who have been asking you to teach them to knit. Let them learn from Nell, and you can get on with your own project… 😉

UK Newspaper the Guardian is offering a knitting lesson. The teacher, Nell Frizzell, reports that she was taught to knit by her father.

Jillian’s Spinning: Spiral Ply

I like textured yarns. Some textured yarns take a lot of thinking and are fiddly, or more fiddly than I sometimes have the brain power on a particular day to spin.

That’s why I love spiral plying. At it’s most basic, a spiral ply is plying a 2-ply yarn with one ply held straight from the orifice under a bit of tension with the second ply held at a 30-45 degree angle with almost no tension. Magically, the angled ply wraps around the vertical ply in a lovely spiral.

Like this:

Spiral ply

Spiral ply

I usually hold my vertical ply taunt , but not pulling against the uptake and the angled ply so loose it almost just runs through my hands. The combination of the difference in angle and the difference in tension makes the angled ply spiral around the vertical ply.

Spiraling works best if the two plys are of a different size, with the spiraling ply being bigger. I like to spin my thinner ply worsted and my spiraling ply woolen for extra contrast. I also like to use different fibers and different colors for even more visual contrast. I spun and knit a few samples this weekend.

I used silk brick from Briar Rose Fibers for the thin ply and Shetland top from Into the Whirled for the puffy ply.

Briar Rose and Into the Whirled

Briar Rose and Into the Whirled

I spun all of my silk at once, I didn’t want to vary that yarn. I spun it worsted at about 26 WPI. I spun the Shetland three different ways: a fingering weight, a thick and thin  and a bulky super puffy. The photos below show (L to R) the front of a stockinette swatch, a bit of the yarn and the reverse of the stockinette swatch.

Fingering weight Shetland and silk.

Fingering weight Shetland and thin silk.

With these samples I think the  yarns were too close in size and I wasn’t getting enough angle on the spiral. It looks like an interesting-ish marled yarn.

Thick and thin Shetland and thin silk.

Thick and thin Shetland and thin silk.

I love this, especially the reverse side of the knitted fabric, all randomly bumpy with shots of the silk. For choosing knitting needles, I split the difference between the thick and the thin, but more toward the thick end. The knitted fabric is really lightweight.

Thick Shetland and thin silk.

Thick Shetland and thin silk.

I like this one too, but not as much as the thick and thin. With this one I like the reverse side of the knitted swatch too. The silk on the front side looks random in a way that’s not pleasant to me – kind of clumpy, but on the reverse side it looks organically random, which I like.

I also did a thick and thin sample with both yarns from the same fiber.

Tonal spiral ply

Tonal spiral ply

Again I am in love with the texture of the reverse side of the knitted swatch, and really like the tone on tone.

I wonder what a sweater out of spiral plied yarn would be like?



WWW: Knitwear in Fashion; Amy & Kate hit the Big Apple; Knitted Microbes

A profile of two small British fashion labels specializing in knitwear, & Daughter and Needle. Points off for mentioning the inevitable “granny” stereotype, but it’s nice to hear about interest in high quality knitwear picking up.  Both are using high quality yarns and valuing the work. I particularly appreciate the price point of the socks. Even if you’re not in the market for a new cashmere merino blend sweater, the styling of the garments is very nice – clean, modern, easy to wear. Simple and chic – just the way I like it!

See you there?

Both Amy and Kate are teaching at Vogue Knitting Live this weekend in NYC – say hello if you see us!

Improving lives – through knitting!

The City of Science program in Glasgow, Scotland, has put out a call for knitters to make woolly microbes to contribute to an educational program to run in primary schools this spring. The goal of the program is to teach youngsters about the importance of handwashing to combat the spread of disease, and patterns have been published for various microbes, including the common cold, swine flu, cholera and TB. (They’re not all bad – you can also knit penicillin if you’d prefer.)

Just that idea that there’s a pattern to knit the common cold makes me smile.

Even if you don’t have favorite numbers, they are still great socks…

Interweave has just launched its Spring 2014 issue of Sockupied, with a focus on math & science and how it influences knitters and knitting. The featured designer is our own Kate, and her design Constant Cables codes some of her favorite numbers into a sock.

Editor’s note, February 7: It’s come to our attention that this author might not be as much of an expert as he seems. Much of his writing and research has been questioned by other, well-respected and well-educated knitting historians and fiber experts. Read with caution.

Fascinating for knitters, spinners and historians: I’ve just found this blog, A Fisherman Knits. The author and knitter, an environmental scientist from California is interested specifically in the gansey form of sweater. In a recent blog post, he writes about choosing yarn for a garment project, looking at the details of the fiber but also the spin and the construction of the yarn itself. And I love this fantastic historic detail he drops:

Working with rather fine needles on rather fine yarns in a cool house, I have gotten out the leather knitting apron. Look at the old pix of knitters – they are all wearing aprons – they knew what they were doing. Fine DPN are pointy, and aprons protect the legs.

Singing duo My Bubba sing a beautiful little ditty about knitting... “got the yarn and I’m gonna do some knitting…. I need to do some knitting”. Recorded live for KEXP, a radio station out of the University of Washington, in Seattle.

Designer and blogger Andi Satturlund with some rather excellent hacks to use office supplies for knitting…

Jillian’s Spinning: Happy Camper Fiber Retreat 2014!

September 19-21, 2014

September 19-21, 2014


Come spin and dye in the Michigan woods! The Happy Camper Fiber Retreat is on for 2014!

Walden Woods

Walden Woods

The 2014 retreat will take place September 19, 20 and 21.

When was the last time you went to camp with s’mores, bonfires, a bunkhouse, a mess hall, new friends, maybe even a camp song? We have all of that plus fiber!

I am so excited to be part of the Happy Camper Fiber Retreat. This year’s retreat will focus on color with classes from Rita Petteys, Jillian Moreno (that’s me!) and Beth Smith.

You will have the opportunity to take a class with each of the instructors and increase your knowledge of color and how to play with it in different ways. You will dye braids of fiber with Rita, card your own color wheel with Beth and create unique yarns by combining colors in spinning with me.

Rita, Beth and I will be around all day and night, not just in class. We’ll be available to answer questions or fine tune techniques. We love this stuff.

For two and half days you will get to immerse yourself in fiber and color by dyeing, carding and spinning. There will be time to just kick back too, to walk in the woods, chat

Fiber in the woods

Fiber in the woods

with friend or just nap. This is a creative retreat with some time to learn and some time to play.

On Saturday night we will have a fiber marketplace featuring some of the best fiber goodies in the state of Michigan. You’ll want to shop until you drop.

The retreat will be held at Waldenwoods Retreat and Conference Center in Hartland, Michigan. This beautiful historic retreat center is located less than 4 hours from Chicago, IL and 30 minutes from Ann Arbor, MI. The Detroit Metro Airport is just 50 miles away.

Ready to sign up or just want to know more? Visit Happy Camper Fiber Retreat.

I am so excited to be part of a retreat in my own back yard here in Michigan, it’s going to be fun!


WWW: Staying Warm, Hobbit Knitting, Cycling-Themed Knitting

It seems like many parts of the world are experiencing extreme weather right now. Most of us are too cold and possibly wet right now, but our friends in Australia are experiencing extreme heat. Wherever you are, we hope you’re comfortable and safe in this awful, awful weather.

For those of us coming to grips with the concept of a Polar Vortex, blog “GussetPress” provides a list of the Top Five Warmest Fibers.

We love this.

Warming, in two ways: designer and editor Kate Heppell has published a pattern for a lovely rainbow headband. In advance of the Sochi Olympics, she has made the pattern free to help start discussion and spread awareness about Russia’s policies towards the LGBT community.

The warmth of love: a beautiful essay about loss and love and knitting from knitter Alanna Okun.


There are so many incredible things about this story. Knitter Denise Salway has knitted the cast of the Hobbit, including Smaug. Sure, you’re thinking to yourself, I could do that, given enough time. Lots of time. Ok, that in itself is pretty fantastic.

But the article tells us that she only picked up the needles last year, and that she wasn’t working from patterns… I nearly fell off my chair. I know it’s the wrong reference, but I think it would still be appropriate to say that the force is strong in this one.

Looking forward to the summer, Yorkshire yarn shop Baa Ram Ewe has published Bespoke, a book of cycling-theme patterns to celebrate this year’s Tour De France, which kicks off July 5 & 6th. The Grand Départ is the official starting point of the Tour, and it is held in a different location every year. This year’s edition takes place within a few hundred yards of a yarn shop! All of a sudden I’m developing an interest in cycling…

Jillian’s Spinning: What Are You Doing in 2014?


welcome 2014

Here’s to lots of spinning in 2014!

I love goals, sometimes they give me a general direction in my mental meandering, sometimes they get me places I never thought possible.

I have spinning goals for this year, do you?

1. Write more / Teach more. This past year I realized how much I love to write and teach about spinning. For me there is a lot of spinning that happens before I show up in the classroom or on the page, so this goal includes lots of sample spinning as well as the teaching and writing.

2. Figure out a way to organize my spinning projects from vision, through sampling, through finished product that works for me. I seem to do this in a different way for each project/idea. The photo above is Spunky Eclectic Pomegranate Martini on mixed BFL to be a cardigan. It’s my first test project.

3. Study, research, spin, stitch, completely belly flop into and abandon myself to my lust for embroidery thread. Why fight it?

4. Start my own blog, I love writing here on the KnittyBlog and will keep doing Spinning Tuesdays and more, but I want a place where I can talk and show and ponder more things, including spinning. I want a place where I can slip down a rabbit hole and stay there for awhile. I’ll let you know when it’s live.

5. This touches on spinning, but isn’t totally spinning: participate in Year of Making. Year of Making is a 365 day photography project. I was inspired to do this by Miriam Felton, she had a gorgeous Year of Making last year. I’ll be taking a picture every day for a year about something I’m making or have made. It can be anything that is creative to me. So far I’ve posted the usual knitting, spinning, embroidery, but I’ve also posted making soup and learning how to make stop action videos on iMovie. I’m doing it on my Instagram feed.

Five things, I think I can do it all.

What are you up to in 2014?



WWW: Knitted Lamps, Peak Knitting Experience, Disagreement about New Year’s Resolution

The winner of our Wraptor yarn pack giveaway is Chelsea, from St. Paul, MN. Thanks to Twisted Fiber Arts for the prize.

Love this. Imagine the beautiful shadows.

More knitting in home decor: a knitted fabric is used as the basis for a lamp construction…

Did anyone catch the QI Christmas episode last week? Kingston University student Imogen Hedges made an appearance with her bicycle-powered ‘unknitting machine‘. Stephen Fry clearly doesn’t knit, or know any knitters, as he seemed more amazed by the unravelling than we might expect…

An excellent question posed on the Fringe Association blog: what’s your peak knitting experience? To quote from the blog post: Maybe it’s pulling off something you didn’t think you were capable of. Maybe it’s the anticipation of a gift recipient’s response. Or maybe it’s making a thing that proves to be endlessly comforting or useful to you or a loved one. Loving the replies in the comments.

Harumph: The USA TODAY thinks that knitting more tree sweaters is a “weird” New Year’s Resolution. I think it’s a lovely idea.

A great British knitter.

A nice profile of four knitters from the UKL Hazel Tindall, the world’s fastest knitter, designer Louise Walker, creative cafe owner Peter Allison, and teacher Louise Wilke, who is using knitting to help her cope with a serious illness…. It’s great to see the broad variety of knitters being represented, without resorting to old stereotypes.

I hope that when I’m 100 I’m still doing such beautiful and detailed work.

Haven’t the faintest idea what a Dumbo Rat is, but the picture is a win.