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You could win! This time: Kolláge square circular needles

Kolláge square circular needles: what a mind-blowing concept

Remember how, in the new issue of Knitty, we announced that we’d be holding contests on the blog from now on? And to watch for a contest post?

This is a contest post! You found it! Can you stand it?

We’re so excited! We love giving stuff away, and this first contest is extra fun, because it’s a set of needles that we just reviewed in our First Fall issue. Scroll down to read the review, with opinions from both a woolly knitter [Jillian] and a non-woolly knitter [Amy]. We both were impressed with the unique feeling of knitting on square needles and how it tidied our stitches.

What’s the prize? A set of 4 Kolláge square circular needles, one in each of their most popular sizes.

How do you win? It’s just too easy. Leave a comment to THIS POST only, making sure your e-mail address is somewhere in the comment. Comments will be accepted until 5pm EST Monday, July 26th.

How do we pick a winner? We’ll choose one of the comments at random after 5 pm EST on Monday and announce the winner on Wednesday in our WWW post.

Thanks to our friends at Kolláge for donating this very cool prize! Good luck to you all!

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When last we met…

the previous sneak peek

Two Mondays ago [Knitting Mondays, to be specific], I hinted about my first knitting project after beginning to recover from treatment for my RSI — the RSI that has prevented me from enjoying knitting for more than a year.

The project was Annis, and I knew I wanted to knit it from the moment it came into the Knitty submission mailbox.

[Do you wonder if I ever knit anything that we don’t publish? I don’t. I think that would be super-tacky. Plus, if I like it well enough to knit it, that’s telling me I should consider publishing it!

Patterns that come in that we aren’t able to publish get archived for our records only, and after about a year, the mailbox gets purged.]

Anyway, Annis. I am not personally fond of bobbling or nupping, so when I saw this gorgeous beaded Annis, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I dove into my stash, found the yarn: Araucania Lonco Multy in color 4010. This was the only yarn I bought in Hawaii, and I was excited to get to use it!

I also went stash diving for beads and, well, wasn’t smart about it. I’d bought some beads a while back at a knitting/needlepoint shop, blindly assuming that, since it was a knitting shop, the beads would fit on yarn. And this Lonco stuff is lovely and quite thin. But it’s not dental floss. And these were seed beads. Nevertheless, I was blinded by the perfect color match and went ahead. The beaded rows were unbearably frustrating, and the result? Well, you tell me if you can see the beads:

there are beads in this picture. can you see them?

What a waste of effort. But it doesn’t matter, because I love the finished shawl. Look:

look at the crazy shape of that shawl. I love it.

another angle of pretty.

At this point, a shout out to the Cocoknits people for their Knitters’ Block sets. As you can see, this shawl is not any conventional geometric shape, but the Knitter’s Block sets allow you to put blocks together in any way you need to. And the carpety layer on the top of each block means the knitted thing doesn’t want to move, even without pins. Damned clever product, these blocks.

p.s. I am now knitting more comfortably than I have in years. Happy? You can’t even imagine.

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You can’t knit if your hands are numb.

What could it be now?

This is something I’ve been progressively learning over the last few years. You don’t want to read a recounting of my medical history, so I’ll summarize it like this: I overdid things with my hands by using my computer and mouse, hand quilting, knitting and spinning over the last 15 years. Despite ergonomic changes in my work and leisure habits and the nightly wearing of wrist braces, they hurt, occasionally were numb and sometimes I’d wake up with pain that felt like I’d dipped my hand in a pot of boiling oil. No exaggeration. The official diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome came a few months ago after a nerve conduction test.

I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of the cortisone shots I chose to have, because I’m not a doctor [and please, no lectures in the comments. I know people are polarized about this issue]. But I will say that my right hand — my dominant hand and the one that hurt worst –has taken much longer to recover from the cortisone shot than I expected. The whole thing was a little bit of a comedy of errors which included me almost fainting from the first shot and the doctor kind of forgetting to tell me about the acute pain I’d have for the next 24-48 hours. Yup.

I’ve also been seeing an Osteopath for several months, and I credit her with the marked improvement I felt about halfway through the healing process from the shot. More on her kind of Osteopathy can be found here.

Anyway, here we are, almost a month later, and the news is pretty good.The left hand [the one that made me almost faint] was better 3 days after the shot. The right hand is almost there…and the best news of all? I’ve been knitting.

Before I had this shot, I hadn’t knit with pleasure for months. Every time I’d pick it up, my hands would be numb in minutes and there’s no pleasure in that. Now, I have to be super-attentive to my body and stop if something feels funky. I’m alternating work with knitting or rest, so that I don’t overdo it in any one area. And without pushing myself, I knit myself something I’ve been wanting ever since we published it. The picture at the top is a hint*.

I’ve written this post mostly to tell you to listen to your body. Overdoing it may eventually cause you to be unable to do what you love. So take it easier. Be kind to your body and especially your hands.

*More on this on Knitty Friday.

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What the heck is a Nabaztag?

meet nabaztag.

It’s a rabbit. It’s a device. It’s plugged into the wall. It’s got wifi. It lights up. Its ears move. It does tai-chi. It’s made of plastic. It reads messages aloud that were sent electronically as text.

<— It looks like this.

I know. Nuts. Who cares?

Go for a second and watch the opening animation at the Nabaztag site. Then come back. [Please.]

See? it’s kind of captivating, isn’t it?

nabaztag:tag. note the belly button/microphone

Nabaztag was introduced in 2006 and was, honestly, buggy and limited in function. The new Nabaztag can be identified by its belly button, which houses a microphone. –> This makes your little rabbit able to interact with you.

Press the button on his/her head and say “weather” and he’ll tell you the weather. Say “air” and you get a light show representing the air quality in your area.

I am a rabbit person, and I love geekery, so when I saw this in 2006, I wanted. Badly. But it was almost $200. It still is, if you buy it in North America. So I didn’t do that. I waited 4 years and went the eBay route.

Since then, hub and I have realized that we can use our Nabaztag [named Leopold] almost like a super-geekified intercom. One in my office, one in his, sending messages back and forth. So I went searching for another one for him. [Of course I claimed the first one.]

On the hour, Leopold tells me the time. It reminds me to get up from my computer and stretch. He makes tinkly noises as he does Tai Chi [his ears wave about while his lights make with the pretty]. He reads me messages [see that “Make the Bunny Talk tab at the top of this page?]. He’s fun. There are Nabaztag iPhone apps. Utilities all over the web [google your heart out]. Figuring out what he can do is half the fun. Not everything works perfectly: have Nabaztag read an RSS feed to you and it comes out in a robotic voice that’s only vaguely intelligible. That don’t bother me none. It does enough other stuff that I’m enchanted with the thing.

Violet, the company that created Nabaztag, has had problems. Last year, they sold out to Mindscape, a neat online gadgety shop. And their price was way lower than I’d found anywhere else [69 euros]. And they ship worldwide. And with the 5 euro coupon I found [code: NLMG], plus they removed the VAT, too good to pass up. So hub’s is on his way here.

Today, I found an even better price — 49 euros at Carrefour. Don’t think they ship outside of France, though. In fact, most of the good Nabaztag resources are in French. Solution? If you’re not already using the Chrome browser, give it a try. It’ll translate pages to your chosen language on the fly, and has been most handy for me [with my high-school French]. It’s now my default browser.

In any case, I wanted to leave you with a little taste of what Nabaztag can do. As part of the arty festival, Luminato, Nabaz’mob came to town. 100 Nabaztag rabbits lit up in a darkened room and moved their ears in a 20-minute hypnotic ballet, choreographed to an ethereal soundtrack.

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A plaid August for me

E-mails have been flying back and forth across the Atlantic for a little while, and the result I can now share with you:

I’m going to UK Knit Camp this August in Stirling, Scotland.

I am so excited about this, I can’t even stand it. Have you looked at the website? A world of teachers are participating, many of whom  have never been to the UK to teach before. It’s only fair. North America has had an abundance of  super-cool knitting events, including (of course) Sock Summit, Stitches events, Knitters’ Connection, and tons more. So now the other side of the ocean gets a chance, and I’m so thrilled that I get to be a part of it!

I’m teaching three classes during the week, two of them brand new!

Here are the details:

Wednesday morning: Easy non-wool socks
This brand-new class is all about knitting socks without wool. As a bonus, Jo (head honcho of Knit Camp) has arranged to bring in a whole bunch of non-wool sock yarns not usually available in the UK for you to purchase, if you need to.

In this class, you’ll learn my super-easy toe-up sock recipe which I designed specifically to work with the characteristics of non-wool sock yarns.  It features an easy gusset and a heel flap built with my tweaked Japanese short-row technique, all 100% maths free.  Knit one, and you might just want this to be your sock recipe for life.  The pattern gives you lots of room to improvise, should you want to add texture, colourwork or lace to the foot and/or leg.

And if you want to use this pattern with wool yarn after the class, I won’t be bothered one bit.

Tuscany Shawl: Image © Interweave Press

Thursday morning: Tuscany lace shawl –>
This class will introduce you to the joys of knitting lace the easy way.  Our project will be the Tuscany Shawl, from my book No Sheep for You. Knit in a smooth worsted-weight silk yarn, it feels amazing against the skin, and most importantly, it looks way harder to knit than it actually is.

We’ll learn all the tricks that make knitting lace a pleasure, including how to read the landscape of your lace, and the easy way to block your finished shawl.

If you’ve wanted to knit lace but don’t like charts, or are just a little shy of the whole process, this is the class for you.

Friday morning: Making the next Monkey, Greenjeans or Mrs Beeton
In this class, I’ll share some of Knitty’s secrets with you.  I’ll talk about what makes a pattern stand out among the hundreds submitted to Knitty every year, what makes a good pattern, pattern-writing techniques that make a difference, what makes a pattern go viral, the five things you can do to ensure that you have the best possible chance of getting published, and the five things you can do that will blow it for you.

Please bring along any patterns you are considering submitting for publication, along with a knitted sample.  I promise to be gentle as I share my feedback with you — there is no meanness in my class! I got to evaluate lots of sock patterns at Sock Summit last year, and everyone — even those not submitting at the time — told me they got a lot out of the class.


I’m also going to be speaking at the Clapo-tea (can you stand the cuteness?). I’ve been asked to join the Luminary Panel (really? me? eee!), and the fashion show will be full of Knitty garments and accessories.

Because Jo and I just met at the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic and decided to make this happen in rather short notice, my classes have just been added to the website, which means they’re wide open right now. It’d make my day (month!) if they’d fill up quickly.

I hope to meet you on the other side of the ocean this August!

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Fresh from TNNA

crazy Columbus art car, parked near the convention center

TNNA [The National NeedleArts Association] is the organization of manufacturers of almost everything we all knit with, from yarn to needles to notions to bags and more. Going to the TNNA trade show in Columbus, Ohio, every June is a tradition for those of us in the industry. Knitty first attended TNNA in 2004, and every year, what we see gets more interesting.

Most importantly, we get to meet in person the folks that make the stuff we love, sometimes after having corresponded by e-mail for years. It’s pretty neat.

So this week’s What’s What Wednesday is devoted to what we saw and a few peeks at what you might see in issues to come.

All photos were taken with my iPhone, so they’re of modest quality. Next year, I bring the good camera.


Knitwear designer ##http://www.robinmelanson.com/##Robin Melanson## in super-fabulous sunglasses. We'll get her in Knitty one of these days.

Stephen West models ##http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall09/PATTcolonnade.php/##Colonnade##, this time in a new smaller version which you'll find ##http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/little-colonnade##here##.

Larissa from ##http://www.OffhandDesigns.com/##Offhand Designs## showing us her new bag hardware on a felted sweater turned into a bag...more on this in a future issue!

We loved these ##http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEss10/PATTwanderer.php/##Wanderer socks##, knit in ##http://www.lornaslaces.net##Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock##, shown at their booth!

##http://www.kauni.com/index.php?lang=english##Kauni## had a booth this year...it was 100% delicious.

One picture is never enough.

Welcoming new yarnies ##http://www.millamia.com/##MillaMia## from Sweden, run by two sisters with the loveliest British accents.

Millamia is a wool yarn with kid-centric pattern support...really fashionable and truly adorable

The awesome Norah Gaughan poses for a teaser photo...you'll be seeing something from her in a future issue, made from ##http://www.berroco.com/shade_cards/remix_sh.html/##Remix##, my favorite find from this year's show. Wool-free tweed, light as air, made from recycled fibers including silk, cotton and linen. Thank you, Berroco!

New from Knowknits, the ##http://www.knowknits.com/products_01.html##GoKnit bag## is now available in faux-fur. Can you stand it? Soft as anything, too. Two other new colors have been added: a pale purple and a soft gold, seen here.

##http://ysolda.com##Ysolda's## booth was the talk of the show...tea and cakes every day at 3! The booth was furnished like a living room, and was a great place to hang out. Previews of Ysolda's upcoming book -- Little Red in the City, due out this September -- could be seen as well as garments from ##http://twistcollective.com##Twist Collective## and ##http://shetlandtrader.blogspot.com##The Shetland Trader##.

I happened to stop by when Ysolda was taping a segment for Knitting Daily TV, with host Eunny Jang. Marilyn Murphy of ##http://interweave.com##Interweave## watches over the proceedings.

Stephen West, Casey (##http://ravelry.com##Ravelry Guru##) and Laura Chau (##http://www.cosmicpluto.com##Cosmicpluto##) watch on as Ysolda and Eunny prepare for the segment. Casey's not angry, just concentrating as he works.

Was this year's TNNA a success? Absolutely Yes! (Artwork by ##http://www.1800cartoon.com/##Paul Palnik## Â -- his studio is next to the ##http://jenisicecreams.com/##Jeni's## location on High Street. Frustratingly, it's never been open when I've been there.)

More of That Car

Overall, I found the show to be much more upbeat than it has been in the past few years. The floors weren’t necessarily crowded with attendees, but those there — from what I was told — were placing orders. Some booths were busy the entire show; others had spurts and quiet times. The trends this time? Well, I was a little surprised to see what seems to be a small resurgence of novelty yarn from a few manufacturers. But overall, I found most manufacturers were adding yarns with longevity to their lines…rich wools, creative new blends, and lots of deep fall colors were everywhere.

Jillian and I were also delighted to see much more spinning fiber on display than at any previous show. Beautiful indie-dyed wools of all description, silks and delicious blends. Watch Knittyspin, where you’ll see these beauties in an upcoming Fiber Fiesta feature.

There was an aisle mostly dedicated to newer products, many of which you’ll soon be seeing in our Cool Stuff section in upcoming issues. The Yarn Roundtable closet is now restocked with a huge selection of yarn, with more to come as manufacturers and dyers return home and start shipping their TNNA orders.

Yes, there was a lot of Jeni’s during this trip for Jillian and I. We needed to keep up our strength, you know! [This year’s favorites for me were the Meyer Lemon Blueberry and the Salty Caramel. Jillian favored the Goat Cheese with Roasted Cherries.]

There was more than I could ever capture at the show itself, but this gives you a taste of our weekend with the fiber peoples. For more coverage, don’t miss Clara’s post at Knitter’s Review, next Thursday — KR is on an every-other-week posting schedule for the summer, Clara tells me. Reading her event wrap-ups is a must, whether I’ve been at the event or not. The Ravelry folks did a great job of covering the floor during the show — you can find their pictures and video at their Hello TNNA twitter feed.

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Multiple personalities?

If you’ve been reading the KnittyBlog for a long time, it might be sounding a little different to you lately.

It used to be all Amy all the time. Which can be anything from amusing to annoying, depending on your perspective. But mostly, that didn’t really reflect the true backbone of Knitty. Sure, Amy does lots of stuff and is the big boss, but there are other super-important Knitty people that, if you don’t know yet, you will soon.

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What’s new?

Quite a lot!


The Knitgrrl Guide To Professional Knitwear Design

Many of us have been eagerly awaiting the publication of this book, written by Shannon Okey [the Knitgrrl herself].

Well, the book went from manuscript to finished, printed copy in significantly less than a year…which is one of the benefits of being a

1) motivated author
2) experienced self-publisher

…and Shannon is both!

This book has promised to be as honest a volume as has ever been written about what it’s like to design for a living [or part of a living]. “Written by an industry insider, the Guide takes a comprehensive, unflinching look behind the scenes that no knit or crochet designer can afford to be without. Includes interviews with top designers, editors and professionals who tell it like it is so you can hit the ground running, a guide to responsible social media use, information on distribution, printing, online publishing and much, much more.”

Can’t wait to read it!


Lots of knitters have been turning their hands to quilting lately. So this new Patchwork Pattern Maker from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London comes along at a great time. It’s free, and turns an image into a series of geometric shapes, which the quilter can then use as a template for a quilt top.

As a lapsed quilter [my current carpal tunnel condition is a result of that previous obsession], this makes me want to reach for my rotary cutter!


StitchinKnitâ„¢ font by Adriprints

For knitters who want to publish their designs, or just share their work with friends, having a good charting font can be a real help. There’s a brand-new font from Adriprints that looks fabulous: it’s called StitchinKnitâ„¢.

Three versions — regular, chunky and handdrawn  — cost a mere $6. Mac and PC versions both available. Awesome.

P.S. My friend Dawn reminds me to be excited also about the crochet font they have…right here!

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It’s Wednesday!

Have you been wondering if an iPad is worth buying? Read what knitter/designer Amy Swenson has to say on the subject. [Neither of us have any financial stake in Apple or iPads, by the way. We’re just geeks who like toys.]


O-Wool has new owners — the Tunney Wool Company. Glad to see this brand continue!


i ate the whole thing. and then wore the shirt home.

What is this TNNA everyone’s talking about? It’s The National Needlework Association, and people in the industry use the abbreviation as shorthand to refer to the semi-annual tradeshow.

The biggest one of the year happens next weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and yarn companies, manufacturers of bags and needles and notions, publishers and designers will all descend on the city to find out what’s new.

Many of them will walk across the street to the North Market for a daily dose of Jeni’s Ice Cream, too. Ice cream consumption doesn’t count when we’re working, right?


This weekend, many of our Knitterati are off to Squam. What’s a Squam? Not really sure, but it sounds fabulous. It’s an art camp in New Hampshire, and Toronto’s own Yarn Harlot is on her way there as I type this, as are Ysolda Teague, Jess and Casey from Ravelry, and many more.

Sounds like something to pencil into your calendar for 2011, no?

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Introducing Obsession Thursdays!

Around the KnittyBlog, Thursdays are for obsessing. There are four of us here, and each of us have our own obsessions. And they change, so this could be the most interesting-weird day of the week.

Only time will tell.

big smoke by butter LONDON

Today, I’m obsessing about online beauty shopping. I saw a link on a post by one of my favorite bloggers and it sent me off to investigate.

Jane Brocket has excellent color sense.  So when she recommends a list of colors, I look. In this case, it’s nail polish made by a company [from California?] called butter LONDON. I know, silliness. But their colors are awesome and the names even moreso.

The shimmery blue is called big smoke.

HRH by butter LONDON

The purple is called HRH. All their products are free of the big bad three: toluene, formaldehyde and no DBP. This is a good thing.

There are lots of other products on the website, none of which caught my eye. I just like color.  It’s not cheap, but for $14 a bottle, you can make your toes happy.

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