Author: Amy Singer

Valentine’s Day Ninja Bonus Contest!

Ooh, we’ve got a doozy for you today, knitters.

Are you sitting down?

this is the large set, sizes US9-15

At right, you see the lovely HiyaHiya Interchangeable Needle set in sizes US 9-15. There’s another set available in sizes US 2-8. So what’s the prize? What could you win?

BOTH sets! No, really! I know!

Here’s what HiyaHiya say about their needles:
“HiyaHiya Steel Interchangeable Needles feature keyless screw-on connections and swivel cables.

Our 5″ small set includes 7 sets of tips in sizes from 2-8US (2.75-5mm). Our large set includes 6 sets of tips in sizes from 9-15US (5.5-10mm).

Each set includes a practical and portable brocade case, needle tips and 4 cables (to make 18, 26, 34 and 42 inch needles). Assorted fabrics.  Tip length is approximately 5 inches.”

How do you win? Simple as pie. Leave a comment to this post by Tuesday, Feb 15th at midnight eastern time, and you’re eligible to win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

Prize value: $160.00

Good luck and good knitting!

What’s on our needles: Amy’s Goodale FO!

My Goodale, done and done! Very happy with it.

Yes, I finished a sweater. In just over a month. Cast on December 28th, buttons sewn on Feb 2. Oh, I am a pleased knitter. I love the process, but I do knit to wear the stuff I make, so this project has been a winner!

What, you want to see a picture? If you must [self-timer photo in our bedroom…not ideal, but it’ll have to do] —>

So here’s what you’re looking at. Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s Goodale pattern, knit in the size closest to my chest measurement. If you look at the 2nd picture, you might say I should have knit a size smaller, and you’re probably right. The body is too wide, but I do like that it closes more on me than it does on the rather wee model.

What’s the yarn? This was an interesting mix. I bought Misti Alpaca’s Serena from The Purple Purl, after recently learning that I can tolerate knitting alpaca. Serena is an alpaca/cotton mix and I love the yarn. In this case, a thicker yarn was required.

yup, the sweater is a bit wide for me. about 2" per side. waist shaping would have helped. live and learn.

So I went to the stash and found a skein of Tess Designer Yarns’ Raw Silk in a solid dark grey that matched the grellow colorway of Serena perfectly. At $28/900 yards, the Raw Silk is a STEAL and a really nice yarn, to boot. And you could easily knit this sweater with two strands of the Raw Silk held together, if you’d like.

In any case, the combination was really nice here. But about 4″ from the hem, I was close to running out of Raw Silk. So I switched to 2 strands of Serena, and made sure to alternate the silk/Serena with the Serena/Serena for several rows to soften the transition point. The bottom is more yellow than grellow, but it’s a gentle transition and I’m very happy with the result.

The final result is a little oversized, but comfy and pretty to wear. The blend of yarns turned out to be a great asset to the sweater — warm but not heavy — and I am very happy to have discovered that alpaca is not my enemy. I won’t wear it against my neck, but over a long-sleeved tee, it’s perfect.

the space between those two fingers is how much narrower one front is than the other.

P.S. for newer knitters who are hard on themselves, thinking no one makes mistakes like they do, you need to see this [it’s also a much better representation of the color of the yarns]

What is it? It’s the first time I knit this sweater, almost to the part where you separate for the arms, when I finally noticed that the two fronts were totally different widths. Because I hadn’t bothered to count when I cast on the stitches and placed my stitch markers. In row 1.

I ripped the whole thing back and started fresh. And still finished it within a month [because I counted this time].

Feel better now?

Obsession: affordable online eyeglasses

Are you a lucky single-vision eyeglass wearer with a reasonably simple prescription? The online eyeglass world is your oyster. You can get complete pairs of glasses for $10 and up at all of the websites I link to in this article. 

One of the cutest websites I’ve seen is Warby Parker. Everything is $95, all included, AND they give a pair to charity when you buy a pair. They don’t do progressives, though.

Most everyone over a certain age [cough40cough] knows that your eyesight is one of the first things to be affected. I was always farsighted — I needed glasses to work on computers from age 23. Nowadays, because I need help with both distance and close-up vision, I’m stuck in progressives.

these buggers take some getting used to.

Progressives are no-line bifocals. Eyeglasses with three different areas of focus, gently blended so you can’t see the changes as a line on the lens. And they’re expensive.

I have found that, since I’m wearing my glasses all the time now, having sunglasses built in is essential, so I add photochromic Transitions that darken when I’m outside. That’s at least another $100-150. My last prescription glasses cost $600. We’re not talking about Prada frames here, either. No-name vaguely attractive frames. Most of the cost was the lenses.

I found out about ordering eyeglasses online from this blog, several years ago. Since then, I’ve ordered 4 pair for myself and the hub. Because they are C.H.E.A.P. And I mean that in every sense of the word.

my new dedicated computer glasses, with spring hinge and nose pads for comfies (these were perfect!)

Two pair from Zenni Optical were the best of all my purchases. The frames are made in China and I believe that’s where the lenses and assembly happen as well. Progressives without Transitions cost $50. The frames are the ones I’m wearing in my Twitter pic up on the left there. Heavy, but cute enough. Eye Buy Direct was okay, but mostly what was available for months were ugly frames large enough to accommodate a progressive prescription [you need 27-29mm-tall lenses at minimum, from these online shops]. I hate them, but they work. Hub’s glasses have scratched much more easily than usual [he is admittedly tough on his eyewear], but they haven’t broken. I guess that’s something.

my new everyday glasses, with spring hinges (see note below...these ended up being too large and were returned at no cost to me)

None of these cheap glasses had the area of vision that the in-person optical stores can provide. But to save $500, I sucked it up.

I went back to my Optometrist last week and found my Rx had changed again, and this time, I was determined to do it affordably but smartly. I went to some optical shops in town, and found nothing I liked. Or if I liked it, it was exhorbitantly priced…$500 for frames? Really? So I returned to my online searching.

Hoping for the possibility of a brand-name frame, I ended up at Clearly Contacts, which does sell eyeglasses. All their frames were $38, on sale, and their  progressive lenses were much more affordable than anywhere else. I scored two pair — one progressive/transitions, and one single vision for computer use — for $198, all in. They also have a return guarantee, which I’ll gladly take. Not all online companies do.

Here are my tips for finding the best fitting, best looking eyeglasses possible:
– find out what shapes fit your face best. don’t just pick them because they’re cute on the screen. places like EyeBuy and ClearlyContacts have a try-on tool. use it. I did, and found that the frames I’d thought I was going to choose were way too small for my face, BEFORE I ordered them. [follow-up note: the tool isn’t error free. use the next tip as your ultimate guideline…]
measure your favorite current glasses and match the new frames to those measurements. it’s easy to buy something too wide for your face, or too narrow, without having hard numbers to refer to
– look for extras like spring hinges and adjustable nose pads for comfort
– some sites include the weight of the frame. when you can’t try it on in person, it’s good to know how heavy it is before you buy it. use your current frame as reference and weigh it to know what feels okay on your face
– some sites make their money with what they call extras: UV protection, anti-glare and anti-scratch. try to find a site that doesn’t gouge for these necessities.

I wish I could afford to go to my local optician to buy my glasses, but I just can’t. It’s nice that I now have some reasonably affordable online alternatives.

Follow up [March 12/11]: Of the two pairs ordered from Clearly Contacts, my dedicated computer glasses were absolutely perfect right out of the box. The other pair was much too large for my face and went back — Clearly Contacts paid for the return shipping, btw. An order mixup [their error] meant the subsequent replacements came with the wrong pd. Again, they paid for shipping BOTH WAYS and are fixing the error at no cost to me.

After having dealt with Eye Buy Direct, Zenni Optical and now Clearly Contacts, the only one I’d recommend is Clearly Contacts [a Canadian Company; the US equivalent is Coastal Contacts], and they’re the only company I’ll use from now on. The quality of their lenses is much higher than either of the other two companies I’ve tried, especially the progressives. They also offer brand-name frames that feel more solid and durable, and are more comfortable to wear. And their customer service is polite and efficient. Yup, you can consider this an unsolicited endorsement.

Ninja-bonus giveaway!

Silk Road Socks by Hunter Hammersen

It’s been a few weeks since our last knitting contest. Let’s remedy that right now!

This time, the prize is a copy of the brand-new book, Silk Road Socks, by Hunter Hammersen. [Winner’s choice of print or digital version.] You can peek inside at all the sock patterns on the book’s Ravelry page. The Knitalong has already started, and you’ll find it here.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Monday, January 24, at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a  skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

Prize value: 26.95 print, 16.95 digital.

Can’t wait? Don’t blame you. You can buy your copy here.

2010: A good year for knitting

One of my favorite reads at the end of every calendar year is Clara Parkes’ Year in Review at Knitters Review. I’ll never forget the thrill I got when she named Clapotis “Design of the Year” in her 2005 edition.

Well, one of the reasons we re-launched this blog was to bring you the voices of our editorial staff [Amy, Jillian, Kate, and occasionally Mandy], and we like stuff too. So without cribbing from our friend, Clara [we’ll peek at hers after we write ours], let’s see what the Knitty crew are taking away from 2010.

thump, thump, thump

Amy says… My favorite aspect of 2010 was technology and where it’s taking us.

Knitters, crafters, and just about everyone else latched on to Twitter like a lifeline, sharing information from the banal to the beneficial. As I’m the keeper of the Knitty Twitter feed, the voice you hear there is mine [hence all the ukulele references].

Knitters [and others] have also recently discovered Pinterest, and are pinning their inspirations, aspirations and delusions on their own virtual bulletin boards to share with anyone who wants to peek.

2010 was the year we re-launched this blog, learning all about WordPress and the good and bad that goes with it. Mostly good, and we’re really glad to be back. The KnittyBlog has given us a place for our frequent contests, and we’re having a blast giving away great prizes and look forward to doing more of this in the years to come.

We also moved our mailing list to our own server this year, something we’d been meaning to do for a while. We think it’s pretty awesome.

2010 was the year I hacked my first computer, so that the main Knitty laptop could stay safely at home when I traveled for work.

Remix by Berroco

With all the good that technology brought to 2010, I can’t ignore the fact that it was a crap of a year for technology for Knitty in particular. We had some serious server challenges and fought our way through them. No growth without a little grunt work, right? It was all worth it, though the number of mint Oreo cookies consumed in the Knitty office [by me, that is] in early spring, to get through the worst of it, was staggering.

I also have a thing for cool stuff, and 2010 was no slacker when it comes to shwag. My personal favorites: the new Lexie Barnes Glitterati line [glitter vinyl makes my heart beat faster], the new Field Journal Notebook from Tom Bihn [so new, we haven’t written about it yet, but watch the upcoming winter issue for my review], and Signature’s new circular needles.

My final favorite thing, as a non-wool knitter, were all the innovative non-wool yarns that were introduced in 2010. At the top of my list was Berroco’s Remix, a blend of nylon, cotton, acrylic, silk and linen fibers, all recycled. A lightweight tweedy yarn of this quality is something I’d never seen before, and one that had warmth and environmental sensitivity — that deserves kudos! Thank you, Berroco!


Jillian says... My favorite idea for 2010 was doing your own thing.

Two yarn lovers, in conjunction with wonderful partners, launched ‘just what I always wanted’ yarn lines: Pam Allen launched everyone’s new go-to basic yarns in Quince and Co; Jared Flood launched his textural and tweedy Shelter Yarn.

A whole bunch of really talented designers self published (or published with small independent publishers) lovely and true-to-themselves pattern books this year: Miriam Felton, Stephen West, Ann Weaver, Cookie A, and Gudrun Johnston are some of the stand outs. And though they weren’t released in 2010, Ysolda Teague’s two self-published books — Whimsical Little Knits and Whimsical Little Knits 2 — are the success stories of this year, allowing Ysolda to feature her work to retailers in a charming 4-booth space on the TNNA [The National Needlework Association] trade-show floor.

But my number one favorite thing for 2010, because of the quality of information, timeliness and the out and out balls it took to publish: Shannon Okey’s The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design.

Signature Circulars are very popular among the Knitty staff

Kate says… My favorite thing about 2010 was the books – both paper and digital.

Tons of really amazing books were published by big publishers, small publishers, and even designers working alone at their kitchen tables. 2010 saw the release of so many amazing knitting books, on topics both broad and fabulously narrow.

We saw wonderful pattern collections, we saw excellent new teaching books, we saw books about the usual topics like socks and sweaters and adorable things for babies. 2010 also added books about finishing and cables and Entrelac, and Nordic knitting, and lace (such wonderful books about lace) and collections of patterns for dogs and wild animals and fast food and monsters; and the republication of some key works by goddesses Starmore and Zimmermann.

Go (fill in your favorite country here), go!

And because I don’t just read about knitting, but sometimes I actually do some, too, I was made extraordinarily happy in 2010 by the release of Signature Needle Arts‘ circular needles [above left] and the relaunch of Regia World Ball Color sock yarn [right].

It’s official: we’ve gone nutty.

And now it’s Monday, and the last contest isn’t even over yet, but we’re doing it ONE MORE TIME! Because we take holiday madness quite seriously over here at Knitty.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Wednesday, December 29, at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a terrifically difficult [cough] skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

What’s the prize this time, you ask? It’s a kit for the gorgeous Cuckoo Mittens from the current issue!

we are cuckoo for these mittens. no, really.

Cuckoo mitts kit

contains this gorgeous yarn:
The Loopy Ewe Solid Series Fingering [100% Superwash Merino; 220 yds per 55g skein]
MC Robin’s Egg Blue; 1 skein
CC Blackberry; 1 skein

Retail price for kit: $20.50

We’ll choose the winner at random, which means anyone has the same chance  to win as anyone else! So enter, and good luck to you all!

Ninja strikes again! Another contest!

What is this…Thursday contests every week? Not even close. We just feel like giving away stuff and it happens to be on a Thursday again this time! I know, we’re out of control. It’s fun.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Monday, December 27 at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a terrifically difficult [cough] skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

What’s the prize this time, you ask?

this loveliness is the Emerald City colorway

1 skein of Lisa Souza Superwash BFL sock yarn
Fiber: 100%Blue Faced Leicester Superwash wool hand dyed
4 ounce skeins/ 465 yards
Needle size for socks 0-1 US /2.0-2.25mm  suggested
Care: Machine wash and dry
Value: $18 US

Can’t wait to see if you’re the lucky winner? Lisa Souza herself has given us a special discount to share with you: Free Shipping through January 6th, if you mention KnittyBlog when you place your order.

Good luck everyone!

The lucky winner of the Briar Rose contest from last Thursday: Nancy H, comment #6176. Congratulations, Nancy! Happy knitting!

You didn’t win? Well, at Briar Rose has given us a special discount to share with all our readers: 10% off through the end of December. Just use code KnitBR.

Kamikaze ninja surprise contest!

Virtually out of nowhere comes another contest! We know…we think it’s pretty cool, too!

Leave a comment to this post by Friday, December 17 at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random and post the results on Monday’s blog.

What’s the prize?

Briar Rose Sonoma...will you be the lucky one?

1 skein of Briar Rose Sonoma: Content: 100% wool
Yardage/Wt.: 460 yds/437 m, 8 oz.
Retail price: $32

Can’t wait to see if you’re the lucky winner? Chris at Briar Rose has given us a special discount to share: 10% off through the end of December. Just use code KnitBR.

Good luck to you all!

[Not] knitting on the road

a button on the visor of my friend Nathania's car

For some reason, I seem to have lost most of the last two months.

October was dedicated to a long-awaited work/vacation, followed by two weeks of intensive work so I could get back on the road.

November included visits all over the place, teaching, meeting knitters [my favorite part] and seeing new parts of the country.

During that time, you could often find me in airports, pulling carry-on luggage from gate to gate, which aggravated my carpal tunnel and — as a result — reduced the knitting time I could take advantage of.

my little tubular friend

Thankfully, someone clever at the Knot Hysteria Silk Retreat* reminded me of the goodness that is Traumeel and gave me a little cupful to apply, which lasted almost a week. I’d stopped using it ages ago, and I don’t know why.

Initially recommended to me by someone who uses her hands more intensely than I ever will — Jennie the Potter — Traumeel is a combination of Arnica [a natural herb] with other natural stuff. Arnica is magic. It helps reduce inflammation. Carpal tunnel syndrome is all about inflamed and swollen tissues. I have found I prefer the cream which takes longer to sink in but seems to sink in more thoroughly [the other formulation is a gel]. Within an hour of the first application, my throbbing wrist stopped throbbing. After a week of regular use, I felt human again with hands instead of claws.

Every night, Traumeel on the wrists and sore spots on the forearm, then on with the wrist splints [which is the reason hub has lovingly named me Borg at night] and I’m doing much better.

All of this is my personal experience, and I’m no doctor. You all know this: speak to your own doctor before making any changes that may affect your health, including using homeopathic medicines.

*the retreat deserves its own post.

Have you ever clicked the needles in the Knitty header?

You might want to today.

I’ve lived in Canada since I was 6 [aka a long, long time]. Canadian Thanksgiving is in October when it’s usually barely cool outside, with leaves on the trees and jackets optional. I’ve never gotten used to it.

My first 6 years imprinted Thanksgiving time into my brain as what it is now in November in the northeast: a real bite in the air and leaves on the ground. Winter is definitely coming. So I’m feeling very Thanksgivingy today, even though it’s business as usual over here in Toronto. Everything’s open, airports only crowded on the way out of town.

Thanksgiving also means family, and to me, one particular family member. My Grandma, Lillian. When I went to college, I moved 2 hours away from the family to Toronto, home of cheap airfare [at the time, anyway]. I started my own ritual: fly to LaGuardia on Thanksgiving morning, right before the Macy’s parade started. Cab it down to the Port Authority [cabs were cheap then] and take the bus to exit 8A on the NJ Turnpike. Where Grandma lived.

We’d spend the next 4 days just being together. Of course she cooked for me. That’s something that she’d had hardwired into her…she cooked for all of her kids, grandkids and associated partners, no matter how she was feeling or how many of us showed up. She made great turkey, which we continued to enjoy for the rest of the visit in different forms — turkey salad sandwiches, turkey chow mein. She made cholent and rugelach. I never left without a care package to keep me alive until I made it home.

Grandma’s been gone since 1999, and every year, this day makes me miss her more than any other.