This delightful story about 104-year old Grace Brett landed in my inbox last week, describing her role in helping a group of “yarnstormers” decorate the burgh of Selkirk in Scotland and claiming she “just might be the oldest street artist in the world”.
The town of Listowel in Ontario, Canada – home to Canada’s largest mainstream yarn manufacturer Spinrite – is also building a yarnbombing tradition including a town-wide scavenger hunt and selfie contest.
Both of these stories had me recall a thoughtful essay by crochet activist Hinda Mandell. Mandell makes a case for dropping the term “yarn bombing” in favour of “yarn graffiti”, or even “yarn installation”. As a metaphor, “bombing” is too violent a word for the sort of transformation of public spaces and thoughtful commentary sought by these yarn artists. Can we collectively come up with a better term for these “Random Acts of Yarn”?
Under the heading of science is awesome, a team of Chinese researchers have developed a “rechargeable and flexible yarn-based battery that could be produced at scale on existing industrial knitting and weaving machines”. Holy doodle, but that’s cool!
Nothing can get yarn folk’s dander up faster than saying “wool allergy”! As a yarn-seller for nearly a decade, I had lots of experience with customers who said they’re allergic to wool or would never use wool for a baby item. Knowing that the actual prevalence of a wool or lanolin allergy affects only a very small percentage of the population (including Knitty founder Amy!), I attributed some reaction to a bias they may have developed from experiencing rustic wools in the past, which are nothing like the modern finewools or the de-cuticled super wash wools in today’s marketplace. Many of those folks happily went on to fondle and enjoy working with wool-based yarns, and some continued to use only plant and man-made fibres. I was interested then to read a post from Topsy Farms that stated that wool allergy reactions often come from the chemicals – like sulphuric acid and insecticides – that have been used in processing the fibre. Indeed, your doctor or a qualified allergist is the place to go if you have had reactions, but note that you may need to test not just wool, or lanolin, but perhaps other things that go into the making of the end product.
Anyone who’s been part of a crafting group that meets regularly knows the support that comes from sharing and making together. How heartening then, to read of a weekly craft and yarn-based program at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan that’s offered to women who are refugees and new arrivals. The workshops provide an opportunity to share their stories while learning life skills such as accessing health care and transit in a safe space. “We base what we do on Canadian Mental Health Association’s recommendations for immigrants. What they tell us is most important is first of all belonging and developing a connection and a group where everyone feels comfortable.”
Yes, please, to living in a world where “principal embroiderer” is an actual job title. (Hey, this might be a tad spoiler-y if you only just started watching Game of Thrones.)
New South Wales extreme knitter Jacqueline Fink is renowned for creating brilliant knit textiles at an impressive scale. She says “giant knitting requires whole body movement and a lot of weight bearing.” That sounds like an attractive way to skip the gym. Jacqueline works and teaches at her studio Little Dandelion – check out her gallery for some really gorgeous pieces.
We love any intersection of literature and knits – Welsh knitter Denise Salway has knitted the four famous Brontë siblings, based on a recent television production.
New Zealand newspaper Otago Daily Times runs a “100 years ago today” feature, which popped up a reference from August 15, 1917 to a knitter who’d worked out how to create two socks at a time, the better to speed up production of socks for servicemen fighting in WW1. I don’t know that Miss Cornish was the first to work this technique, but she was mighty clever, and generously offered to share her instructions with others.
We mentioned last week a drive to collect handmade poppies for a memorial organized by Wonderwool Wales. Australian knitters can knit their bit for a centenary commemoration for the Australian War Memorial as well.
“Croquis” are body outlines used by makers to sketch and design attire and accessories, and they’re often generic and based on “standard” proportions. My Body Model is running a Kickstarter campaign for their software that allows designers & stitchers to use their own body measurements to create custom croquis. How wonderful to see a full range of real body sizes and proportions, and to “try on” designs before making them!
It’s been a stressful few days in the news, which makes us look to those who seek to draw people together – particularly people from different races, cultures and languages.
Textile artist Movana Chen recently held an exhibition at Los Angeles’ 14th Factory called “Knitting Conversations”. Chen asks friends and audiences to bring books they have read and found meaningful. She reads them, shreds them, and turns the resulting “magazine clothes” into fabric. She often teaches these participants to knit a few stitches and contribute to the whole. The garments and projects made from this fabric are then an ongoing cross-cultural, poly-lingual conversation.
Welsh fibre and stitching show Wonderwool Wales is asking crafters to contribute poppies – knitted, crocheted, woven, sewn, or felted – to a large-scale commemorative WWI display to be built in 2018. The aim is to create a “Curtain of Poppies” made up of 887,858 flowers, one for each person from the UK who died serving in the conflict. The Wonderwool Wales site is keeping a running tally of the poppies contributed to date.
Prisoners in South Africa’s Zonderwater Correctional Centre are knitting blanket squares which when laid together will form a portrait of Nelson Mandela, in commemoration of what would be Madiba’s 100th birthday. Over 150 inmates will participate, with the blankets going to others in the community in need.
A knitting shop in Benfleet, UK, about an hour east of London, had it’s knitted beagle pinched recently. Hopefully it was just someone full of, er, *spirits* and will soon find it’s way back. The beagle, along with other customer-crafted yarn bombings, has been part of the shop’s fundraising efforts on behalf of Retinitis Pigmentosa Fighting Blindess.
Breast cancer survivor Beryl Tsang first published Tit Bits with Knitty.com back in 2005. Her pattern, to craft a breast prosthesis for women who have undergone a mastectomy, has helped hundreds if not thousands of women feel some post-surgery normalcy. Always clever knitters have now hacked instructions to work on different needle arrangements and construction methods so that many more knitters can contribute to the making of “knockers”. Knitting Knockers organizations now exist in the United States and Canada to connect makers with those who need them. You’ve come a long way, Beryl!
Super pop star Demi Lovato apparently has the knitting bug, seen recently knitting on a plane. We agree – nothing like a little garter stitch to take the edge off travel tension.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about yarn bases, ply construction, dye take-up and all manner of fiber info? Yarn friends Blue Moon Fiber Arts are kicking off their School of Yarn, a subscription club filled with yarny treats and knowledge. Check out the link for a first semester discount, good only until August 15th!
Big news from some yarn stars this week of a transition happening with indie dyers Lorna’s Laces and Mrs. Crosby yarns. Congrats to Amanda and our very best wishes to Beth – we can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeves next!
This is my favorite kind of retro video: a Pathe newsreelabout the production of silk from the time when England was a big mucky muck in the silk industry (1960ish). Flash required.
Don’t you love when fiber peoples craft something that is herculean and then blog about it? Or is that just me? Well, Patricia made this amazing dress and you can read about it here. Red Heart never looked so good.
Going to the chapel and we’re gonna get kni-i-itting, going to the chapel and we’re gonna get kni-i-I-ting. (Musical doggerel aside – those are incredible works! )
First published in Knitty in 2004, MK Carroll’s Womb was a cute & cuddly expression of MK’s interest in human anatomy. Interesting to see Womb appear in an article on the not at all cute & cuddly fight for reproductive rights in Canada – no matter what your stance on the issue, it’s good to see craft and activism meet.
Amy here, writing about a big freaking change to my life that I’m excited about and nervous and also yeah. It’s big. Biggy bigness.
I’m going back to work for someone else, in an office. An actual day job. I’ve accepted a contract position so that I can avoid living in a box around retirement age, which is not as far away as it was when I started Knitty 15 years ago. Taking this job will allow me to build a nest egg for my future by working for someone else (this place offers great benefits and treats contract workers very well). It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for almost 2 years, and after applying and interviewing, someone chose me and I start next month.
The most important question you all have is this: how does this affect Knitty?
Knitty goes on as before, mostly unchanged as far as Readers are concerned. I have someone in place to code the patterns and features, though I will touch and massage every page before we go live. I’ll also continue to do all the images. Knitty will look like Knitty. If I hadn’t told you, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have noticed anything was different. However, hiccups happen. I hope you will be gentle on our team if they do…we’re gonna try very hard to avoid the hiccups.
Jillian‘s role is changing, too. Because she has a super-exciting new position (she’ll tell you more about that later), she will be stepping away from her role as Advertising Manager, as soon as the Deep Fall issue is published (September). Jillian has done a stellar job for so many years, but as advertising has declined, she has been earning less and less for the same amount of work. (Knitty has been subsidizing her salary in order to compensate her for this drop off, because it’s beyond her control and she deserves to be paid.)
Thankfully for us all, Jillian will continue as Editor of Knittyspin, goddess of Reviews, and general inspiration and idea generator (Catalyst) for Knitty as a whole. She’s also the Managing Editor (she manages the Editor) and that aspect of her job will become more essential as I go back into an office where I’m not the boss. Those of you who deal with Knitty by email may get responses from either Jillian or me. I’ll still be here, but during weekday office hours, my brain belongs to my new employer. They’re paying for the privilege. It’s all good, man.
Advertising at Knitty has declined to a level that requires us to rethink its place on our pages. You’ll notice a change (the most minimally disruptive change, we hope) by the time the Winter issue comes out, and I’ll talk more about that in a future blog post. Once again, I want to thank our Patrons for supporting us and allowing Knitty to continue. We would not be here without them!
Kate continues in her role as Managing Technical Editor, and Ashley and Rachel are the rest of our Tech Editing team. They’re doing a great job, and we are thrilled to have them as part of our team.
Chris, our beloved Systems Administrator, is on Family Leave for the foreseeable future.
So this is all big stuff. But I need to do this. I’ve been working at home for 11 years. ELEVEN. It gets lonely here. I’m restless. Tully isn’t much help when it comes to water-cooler chat or bouncing ideas back and forth. I also think a new challenge, new environment, new people will inspire and energize me, and I could use some of that. The place I’m going to work (I’ll share here when I’m able) is a good one, the commute is minimal (easy streetcar ride) and the hours can be flexible. I’m not sure I could have found a better situation anywhere. I’m lucky. (No, it’s not Starbucks.)
I was worried about telling you all this because what would you think? Except Knitty Readers are the best, and I’m pretty sure they don’t want me living in a box either. I like to be transparent about Knitty stuff when I can, and so now you know. I’ll keep you updated as things shift about a bit behind the scenes, but mostly, you can count on Knitty continuing for many years to come, looking pretty much like the Knitty you know today (or better).
Seems to be the theme of the year in mainstream news’ craft reporting: A brief history of knitting and activism. Not just a story about Pussy Hats (but we do love a good Pussy Hat), this one dives deep, back to 1853.
This might be of interest to those of you who make more than you can use: FiberCrafty looks to be a hand-crafted-fibery Etsy type thingy. So far, I see lots of roving and fiber, some notions, project bags and finished items like hats. Neat!
Though this is done with plastic-canvas needlepoint, not knitting as the story suggests, it is an incredible achievement: 5-foot-long ocean liner created by a woman (it took her 2 years) after she receives a diagnosis of terminal cancer with just months to live. More photos at the link.
You’re pretty cool, Eva.
Some of us already have a Yarnit. Inventor Kate Sullivan is bringing her product to national TV to spread the word further; see her on Steve Harvey’s Funderdome show this Sunday. Video of Kate and her neat invention at the link.