Monthly Archives: March 2014

Crochet in Knitty, Jillian’s Hooked

Did you know there is crochet in Knitty now?

Amy O’Neill Houck and Miriam Felton  are long time friends. Amy is a crocheter who knits and Mim is a knitter who crochets. They approached Amy and I at TNNA last June and said, “What do you think about crochet in Knitty?” Specifically they were excited about how knitting and crochet work together and about getting knitters to crochet. New to and excited about crochet, Amy jumped at the idea. The column Plays Well Together was born.

I have tried to crochet and it’s never clicked. Not clicked in the way where you push yourself to find out more. But, since the time the first Plays Well Together column was published in Deep Fall Knitty, where Amy and Mim showed just how nicely knit and crochet play together in a hat pattern, and this current issue, I have become a hooker.

I am a noob in the very sense of the word, I have more questions than skill. And most of the time I feel like I have 20 fingers all doing the wrong thing. I started with a lesson from Denny. I learned to chain, single crochet, double crochet and triple crochet. This issue’s Plays Well Together column is about those first steps in crochet. Here are my first little bits.

My first bits of crochet. Edges are hard.

My first bits of crochet. Edges are hard.

I’ve kept at it practicing those three stitches, asking people, looking at books, taking a Craftsy class with Cal Patch. I’m going about this casually, building one thing on another. I made the crocheter’s version of a garter stitch scarf, a double crochet scarf. It was as boring as a garter stitch scarf, but I really have the hang of double crochet now. Plus my teenage daughter instantly stole it for her winter wardrobe.

Double crochet scarf. Edges are still hard.

Double crochet scarf. Edges are still hard.

I’m looking forward to learning new crochet things. I’m dabbling in Granny Squares now. I still need to learn how to read a crochet pattern and what all of the symbols mean, before I branch out further.  I know that information and a lot more is coming up in future Plays Well Together columns. I can’t wait to actually make something to wear other than a double crochet scarf!

Spring & Summer WIPs

I think this is one of my favourite parts about working with Knitty: getting to see all the WIPs and FOs. So beautiful! So inspiring! I love seeing how knitters interpret a design with their own color choices, their own styling.

A few lovely things from our recently-released Spring & Summer issue….

Our knitters love an interesting new way to knit socks, and String Theory fits the bill very nicely.

I love the yarn that Evee chose for her version. The variegation works brilliantly with the patterning.

And these, Kalliongimma‘s project… The self-striping Regia works just brilliantly! Go look at the project on Rav – there are even more great pictures.

There’s a number of Sweet Tantalate projects underway. This white silk one from MaryBethLogue is particularly lovely.

The color of Speck‘s Sunday Sunrise is fantastic. So very springy and cheerful.

And in the same color range, Marsdenmoocher‘s Kali vest is just the best.
And I can’t wait to see sophyting’s Anthi finished… she reports starting it the very day the issue came out.

And this is a very promising start at Octopodes from luarn. Perfect color choice.

And I love the color choice for JorunKnits’ Rosarian. Can’t wait to see this develop!

WWW: Spring Festivals, 22,000 Yellow Jerseys, Knitted Wallpaper

The winner of our Lace Contest is Karen from Bangor, Pennsylvania. Thanks to Brooke Niko and Lark Crafts, Hiya Hiya, and Black Bunny Fibers for the generous prize.

Just wonderful.

Last week I mentioned the campaign in Cambridge to collect knitting to decorate the town for the UK stages of the Tour De France this summer. The Guardian has a lovely piece about the enormously successful campaign in Harrogate, Yorkshire, that kicked off the entire thing. Last summer, the Harrogate town council invited members of the public to send in hand-knitted mini replicas of cycling jerseys. The mini jerseys will be strung up as bunting around the town to celebrate the arrival of the Tour De France. They have received over 22,000, “rather more than anticipated”, with contributions from Switzerland, Canada and Bermuda.

How good is this?

On the Spoonflower blog, fantastic knitted wallpaper, in the studio of the Brooklyn Craft Company.

The spring fiber festivals are starting up… first up is this weekend’s Dallas Forth Worth Fiber Festival, being held at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.

The Carolina Fiber Fest is held April 4-6 in Sandford, North Carolina.

That same weekend, it’s YarnCon, describing itself as Chicago’s Indie Fiber Fair.

April 10-13 is the Shepherd’s Extravanganza at the Washington State Fairgrounds.

Toronto’s Downtown Knit Collective annual Knitter’s Frolic takes place the weekend of April 26 & 27th. (And I’m teaching!)

As always, check the calendar on the Knitter’s Review website for a more detailed listing of fibery events.

Speaking of shepherds and sheepy festivals, the shepherd of the wonderful twitter account @herdyshepherd1 has kicked off an indiegogo campaign to secure funding to support the historic Borrowdale Sheep Show.

In their own words

Borrowdale Show is one of the traditional sheep shows and shepherds meets that take place each autumn in the Lake District, in the North of England. It is a gathering of shepherds and their best sheep, half competitive, showing to prove the worth of their flocks, and half a social occasion and cultural event. It is a scene to behold with more than 250 Herdwick sheep judged in one day, coloured with the traditional Herdwick Show Red and shown with great pride by their shepherds.

The show is run entirely by volunteers from the local community. But they have experienced several years of awful luck with the weather and have now limited cash reserves to pay for insurance and other necessities, and because of this the future of this timeless show is in the balance.

The campaign, launched last week, has done much better than expected, and has more than met its goal. I’m writing about it because I think it’s a truly wonderful initiative, and I want to publicize the event and thank those who were kind enough to contribute.

Image from the @HerdyShepherd1 twitter account, with thanks.

And whether you contribute or not, whether you want to attend a sheep show or not, if you’re not aware of the Twitter account, go take a look. The photos of sheep, and the farm, and the sheep dogs (#teamfloss) are magnificent. I’ve also learned a lot from their tweets, about sheep, about sheepdogs, about the challenges of joys of running a farm.

A nice piece on CNN about the cognitive and emotional benefits of knitting to relieve stress, to bring joy, and to fight depression and the effects of aging. Not news to most of us, I’m sure, but it’s always good to see mention in the press. (Especially those without the usual “not your grandmother” tropes.)

The article reports that in one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling “very happy.”

Not that we needed any justification for our craft, but it’s great to know that it really is good for us.

Jillian’s Spinning: Bitten By Bouclé

So, I’m driving down the road to the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo and a need hit me from out of the blue – bouclé.  I want to spin bouclé. Up until that moment I haven’t had fond or warm thoughts about bouclé, didn’t like how it looks, didn’t like the fiddly spinning. But that’s how things happen, at least to me, one minute – meh, one minute – I MUST.

I have spun bouclé in classes before when I didn’t care about it, with amazing teachers, Lynne Vogel, Jacey Boggs and Sarah Anderson. I dug out notes, looked at books and watched a couple of videos.  I spun some bouclé.

Yarn fixins

Yarn fixins

BFL/silk from Happy Fuzzy Yarn, the most amazing kid mohair/silk from Hilltop Cloud and some sparkly blue thread for a binder.

First round

First round

Why was it so much easier when I didn’t care about it? I don’t remember it being hard to get the loops to loop. I do have a few loops, but more twists than loops.

Finished yarn

Finished yarn

When I put the binder on, more loops popped, but I’m going to keep practicing looping the loops, it’s fun and now I really like how it looks.

Maybe it’s Spring Fever.



SpinDoctor Lives!

SpinDoctor Lives!

Remember the SpinDoctor podcast that I was a part for awhile with Sasha Torres? Sasha has decided to make it into a newsletter! You can sign up for it’s spinny goodness here. The newsletter will be done by just Sasha, with feline assistance from Zora.

She is also starting a hand dyed yarn company that features breed specific North American wool, from fleeces handpicked (and dyed) by Sasha.

Lace Giveaway!

Lovely Lace

Lovely Lace

In an effort to coax Spring out of her shell, we’re doing a lace giveaway today.  Our giveaway feature Brooke Nico’s new wonderful book Lovely Knitted Lace  from Lark Crafts, a set of Hiya Hiya interchangeable needles, size US 2-8   from Hiya Hiya

Hiya Hiya Interchangeable Needles

Hiya Hiya Interchangeable Needles

and a skein of Black Bunny Flutter Merino Lace from Black Bunny Fibers. It’s the same yarn and color Brooke used to make the Flutter Shawl in her book.

Flutter Shawl

Flutter Shawl


I think knitting lace can make the temperatures rise and the flowers bloom don’t you?


Our regular rules apply:

Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Monday,  March 24th. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the book,needle set and yarn. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $140.00







WWW: 10th Anniversary Woolfest; Shoal or Shawl?; Stitch & Quit; Stitch & Brew

A reader asked in a comment how to get in touch with us about an item you’d like to bring to our attention… you can always leave a comment, or email Get in touch! We love hearing about events and news that you’d like to share!

woolfestlogoUK fibre festival Woolfest is celebrating its 10th year this year. Held Friday June 27 and Saturday June 28 at the Lakeland Livestock Centre in Cockermouth, Cumbria, the event promises to be a showcase and celebration of the best of wool and wool crafts. There will be demonstrations, classes, shopping and all sorts of fibre-y fun.

Very smart: a yarn shop in the UK is promoting knitting as a tool to help smokers quit their addiction. KnitOwl in Richmond, North Yorkshire, has announced a special series of ‘KnitQuitin’ classes on Wednesday nights.

Image courtesy East Lothian News.

File under: not a typo. The headline reads ‘Musselburgh volunteers learn how to knit a shoal‘. Knitters are making fish to be displayed in an exhibition about women in the fishing industry. They will be used in a theatrical performance, “Get up and Tie Your Fingers“, which tells the story of the 1881 Eyemouth Fishing Disaster, in which twenty ships and nearly 200 men were lost, through the eyes of the wives and children of the men involved.

A terrific yarnbomb from a recent Cambridge cycling festival.

Inspired by the very successful campaign in Harrogate, a resident of Cambridge, UK, is looking to collect mini knitted replicas of cycling jerseys and other cycling-themed items to decorate the town for its part in this year’s Tour De France. Cycling trainer Rad Wagon says that knitting “is in Cambridge’s DNA”, and he wants to leverage the skills of the town’s knitters and yarnbombers “…to show that Cambridge can do things slightly differently, and perhaps slightly oddly.”

Love this: a keen knitter has started up a stitch & brew event at a local craft brewery in Henderson, North Carolina. Sandy Polson relocated to the town from Florida a couple of years ago, and established the get-together as a way to meet new people. It sounds like they have a great time, although I’m not sure about the quality of the work being done after a few pints…

Jillian’s Spinning: New Knitty and Spinning Sightings

The Spring+Summer issue of Knitty is out. There are two gorgeous handspun shawls in this issue, Regenerate by Mary-Anne Mace  and Sunday Sunrise by Zsuzsa Kiss .  Regenerate is even on the COVER of this issue. I love it more than I can say when handspun makes the cover. There is still snow on the ground here in Michigan and these two shawls give me hope for flowers and green grass.



Sunday Sunrise

Sunday Sunrise

My Knittyspin column is all about different ways to measure yarn. I never measured my yarn except for length and occasionally WPI. I was never really satisfied with it and could never spin consistently from one skein to another. Since I quit fighting the measure my yarn is much more even within and between skeins. Ahhhhh.



I’ve noticed spinning in a couple of places this week:

Julia-Farwell Clay found spinning in the wild. On the Fluevog (sigh, I want all of the shoes) blog. A pair of World Zurich’s spinning on a Merlin Tree Hitch Hiker.

Have you seen Shear Madness yet?

Shear Madness

Shear Madness

It’s a reality show based on  Natalie Redding ‘s life running Namaste Farms. I’ve only seen one episode so far, but it’s great. I always knew that raising the fiber that we spin is hard work but, holy cats, seeing it is a whole other story. It’s on Nat Geo Wild on Saturday nights in the US.

WWW: Poetry, Master’s Program in Knitwear Design, #sockjournal

Our Spring & Summer issue launched just yesterday, and knitter Vicki Downing-Withers was so moved by the Regnerate Shawl design, and the story the designer tells, that she wrote a poem about it.

Oh swoon did my heart
that beats so fast
when my eyes gazed
upon your edges of thistle
dripping with meaning
sorrow and delight
maroon-purple mixed with
emotions that mere words
can not express

My knitting needles fainted
when first they did see
the loveliness in the pattern
oh yes, it is of weeds

To my stash I went with haste
only to find worsted not lace
My knitting needles began to mock
imagine for them it must have been a shock
for when I opened up another cabinet door
a ball of lace fell upon the floor

It was of eight hundred yards
not the nine eighty-four required
but then I thought perhaps
I’d knit as far as I could
and if at journeys end a lapse
of inches were to be found
I’d match it with another
close and yet not the same
but just as lovely with a different name.


Knitter Denise Salway, famous for her knitted replica of all the characters in the movie The Hobbit, has unveiled her next Tolkien-inspired project: the Hobbit coat. Her work is fantastic, and her Flickr stream is definitely worth a visit, whether you’re a fan of Middle Earth or not.

Although not the main thrust of the article, I’m excited about the news that Kingston University in London, UK, is launching a master’s degree program in Knitwear Design.

Live in the Pacific Northwest? Attending Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle? Amy’s got some space left in a couple of her classes this coming weekend…

Lucretia Green, as she approaches her 100th birthday, credits her longevity to good food, music and knitting.

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Bee Stripe.

Last Sunday’s Socks: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Bee Stripe.

I’ve been having fun on Twitter of late, with my #sockjournal. Pretty much every day, I tweet a picture of the socks I’m wearing, marked with the hashtag #sockjournal. Join in!

Perhaps a crazy idea, but if there really are 15,000 penguin sweaters going unused, perhaps we should channel our energy to knit penguin toys to wear the sweaters, and get these nattily-dressed little creatures donated to children in need?

Jillian’s Spinning: No Spinning, Granny Squares

I have been slowly (very slowly) teaching myself how to crochet. With the help of friends and a couple of online classes I have managed to learn the basic stitches. I made my teenage daughter a scarf out of double crochet. It felt good to be learning something new, but there was no real spark. That thing that kicks a new craft from “it’s nice” to “I have to get up early to do one more row/stitch/whatever”.

Then I learned how to make a granny square, an innocent little square, and my friends I am a little obsessed.



Right now I’m trying them in all different sizes of yarn. There are some yarns from my stash that I never really liked as knitted, but as crochet they are a different happier beast altogether. I have no idea of the technical reasons, but I just like them better crocheted.

Mountain Colors Merino Tape yarn. Never liked it knit, love it crocheted.

Mountain Colors Merino Tape yarn. Never liked it knit, love it crocheted.

Small silk granny from slubby laceweight silk. I like the small grannies.

Small silk granny from slubby laceweight silk. I like the small grannies.


Tell me about your love for granny squares. Do you spin for crochet? Because that is now knocking on my brain asking to be let in.

On Charity Knitting; Too Many Penguin Sweaters?

Boing Boing puts it best: The Internet may be producing an excess of penguin sweaters.

If you do want to do some charity knitting, consult local organizations in your area to see what they need… women’s shelters often take children’s items; animal shelters often take blankets and comfort items; hospitals, particularly those with neonatal ICUs, often accept items for tiny newborns; homeless shelters often take winter accessories like hats and scarves.

We all have the impulse to use our power for good – let’s just make sure we direct it in a way that it’s of most benefit.