WWW: What Should I Knit?; On Variegateds; the Izzy Doll

Football player learns to knit, world marvels. I’ll say this: he has good taste in yarn.

Next up in SpaceCadet’s series on yarn colors: Understanding variegateds.

I’m enjoying this fun Twitter account: “WhatShouldIKnit“: it makes suggestions, random combos of projects and yarns and techniques. Silliness ensues.

Image courtesy The Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian Military is looking to recruit knitters. The Canadian military considers the hand-knit Izzy doll an important part of their kit when they are overseas on peace-keeping missions.

For the past two decades, Canadian soldiers and health care workers have given out more than 1.3 million of the tiny toys to children in worn-torn countries and regions affected by natural disaster.

Organizer and knitter Shirley O’Connell is appealing to the public to make dolls so that they can be given to the thousands of Syrian refugee children who are expected to arrive in Canada by the end of the year.

Want to work in yarn? Ontario-based indigodragonfly is hiring an assistant for their dye studio.

Image from Sweet Paul magazine.

Emergency-festive-decoration-from-bits-of-roving alert.

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WWW: On Color; On Failure and Creativity; Legal Advice for Creatives

A profile of “Knitted Knockers of Canada”, a group making hand-knit cotton prosthetics for breast cancer patients and survivors.

Powerful: a BBC magazine piece about a new exhibition at Mount Ida design college in Massachusetts: “Permission to Fail”. By showing the work that happens before the “aha”, the many rough drafts and failures and incomplete attempts that are required to come to a final product or project, the college aims to examine the process of how creativity happens. Too often, when telling the story of inventions or discoveries or art, we focus only on the final version. Creativity is more about all the attempts that come before the final, and learning and growing through that process.

This connects very nicely with friend-of-Knitty Kim Werker’s “Make it Might Ugly” book. The message is all about getting over your perfectionism, getting over the fear of “not good enough” by deliberately challenging yourself to make something ugly – specifically, to make a failure. After all, if the first attempt is ugly, there’s nowhere to go but up.

!cid_22F0F0E9-8106-4CC2-9BF7-2B8A51600B6E@sohoAmy and Kate will be in NYC this coming January 15-17, teaching at Vogue Knitting Live. Kate’s teaching a slate of sock classes, and a new class: Getting Gauge – in which she aims to demystify the whys and wherefores of gauge: explaining why it matters, when to check it, what to do about it, how to handle it if you can’t match, and when you don’t need to worry about it.  Amy’s teaching her Tuscany lace shawl class, and a fantastically practical short-row bootcamp. Join us!

(And just to tempt you, there’s an earlybird pricing deal on right now!)

From yarn dyer Space Cadet comes this wonderful blog post on color. Specifically, she addresses the frequently-used terms ‘solid’, ‘semi-solid’ and ‘tonal’, explaining what they actually mean, how they are created, and how they work in your knitting.

Not strictly knitting, but very very useful and interesting: an examination of copyright and usage restrictions on sewing patterns. The author, Kiffanie Stahle, is a lawyer, knitter, photographer and creative business owner, and her website and newsletter are full of wonderful resources on legal and business issues for creative types. To quote from her site, Kiffanie is “on a mission to teach creative entrepreneurs that the law doesn’t have to equal scary.” Important stuff.

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WWW: Remembrance; Wovember; Squam Arts Retreat

Remembrance: Ann Reed, a dedicated crafter and life-long resident of UK town Droitwich has just completed a truly special war memorial. The wall of names is cross-stitched, and the poppies handknit. Beautiful.

A fab BBC radio program about this past October’s Shetland Wool Week. Many friends of Knitty make appearances!

We’re very happy to announce that our own Kate (that’s me!) is teaching again at the Squam Spring Arts Retreat in June 2016. I’m teaching two classes: a sock master class, and a everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-cable-knitting class. The setting is spectacular, and the event like no other. It’s not just knitting and fiber: there are drawing classes and woodworking and sewing and all sorts of fabulous things. It’s a weekend to take yourself out of your usual life, and create new hobbies and habits and friends.

With apologies to Amy and others among us who are allergic to wool…

It’s Wovember! A month-long celebration of wool, just in time for wintery weather in the Northern Hemisphere. The website is full of gorgeous photos and wonderful information about wool – its usage, its origins, the processes to bring it from sheep to our needles. I particularly loved this post by Sue Blacker on the different characteristics of the wool of different breeds of sheep. Get yourself a nice cup of tea and take the time to read it all. Wonderful stuff.

Friend of Knitty, knitter and author Rachael Herron, has launched a Patreon campaign. Rachael is a novelist and essayist, who lives a very common reality: that her creative work isn’t enough to support herself and her family. She also has a day job, working 56 hours a week as a 911 dispatcher at a fire station, in California. In addition to her fabulous novels, Rachael writes clear-headed essays about living the creative life, and that all-too necessary “balance” of bill-paying day job and creative pursuits. She writes about finding time to be creative, about what it’s like to be a Professional Maker (or not), about how to find inspiration, about how to believe in yourself.

The challenge is that writing these essays doesn’t bring in any money, and Rachael is entirely honest about that. She’s seeking a dollar or two from contributors for each essay she writes, to replace lost income from the time she takes to write them. Contributors will get the essays directly from Rachael. This discussion can be a difficult one, and applies to makers and creatives in all sorts of disciplines. I made a contribution: I value her her honesty as much as her writing.

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WWW: Mainstream press (not a single mention of Grannies); Gansey-knitter Statue; Garter Stitch as Art

Two contest winners to announce: Jess from Ottawa won the copy of Kate’s Custom Socks book and Carol from Ontario won the FiberWild Shaded Love shawl kit. Thanks to Interweave for the book, and FiberWild for the shawl kit. Enjoy!

A fantastic profile of designer and entrepreneur Amy Herzog, and her Custom Fit software and business.

A piece about the increasing attention being paid in the UK towards local wool, featuring interviews with UK knitters, designers and yarn suppliers. Important.

A New York Times travel writer attends a knitting retreat. She seems a hair befuddled by it, but in the end has a good time.

In another “knitting is good for you” piece, the website LifeHack tells us that knitting makes us warmer and happier. Can’t disagree with that. Particularly the ‘warmer’ bit.

Not strictly knitting, but still wonderful: a feature on the revitalization of small Irish weaving company. Traditional techniques and materials are being used to create blankets, pillows and other home textiles, and they have taken the interior decorating world by storm.

The artist, Steve Carvill, with his work.

Wonderful: A statue of a woman knitting has been installed on the Maritime Trail in UK coastal town Bridlington. The knitter is working on a gansey, the traditional fisherman’s sweater, and honours the town’s long-established and important fishing industry.

The artist and one of her pieces. Image from The Huffington Post Australia.

An interview with Australian artist Jacqueline Fink, who creates large-scale installations from knit fabrics. She talks about the physical challenges of working the pieces, describing her work as a “whole-body workout”. (Oooh… maybe I could cancel that gym membership…) Seriously, though, her work is unexpected and beautiful, allowing you to examine a knit fabric in a completely different way.

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WWW: Danish Knitting TV, Swimming Sheep, ‘Knitters Against Swatches’

Apparently sheep can swim!  It’s an old story, but I hadn’t seen it before.

True: 21 Struggles Every Knitter Faces. #22: reading cute lists on the Internet when I was supposed to be knitting?

The knitters.

Love this! On the Glo: a Kickstarter for a line of handknit accessories. Two things make this project great: the accessories are all worked with reflective yarn – they’re designed as a safety accessory for kids, runners, cyclists, anyone who might be out in the dark. And they’re made by a group of knitters in rural Philippines. These women belong to a traditional community of farmers, whose economy is endangered by foreign commercial competition. You might remember the Ricefield Collective, another knitting-related Kickstarter a few years ago. This project picks up where that left off.

Cards Against Humanity fans rejoice! A group of clever and cheeky knitting enthusiasts have developed a knitting-themed expansion pack: Knitters Against Swatches.

KnitNerdLab Lindsay alerts us to the existence of a knitting-themed reality TV show from Denmark: The Great Knit Off. It may or may not be great TV, as our Danish TV expert reports

but I’m just happy it exists! Apparently, some parts are a bit sweary and possibly NSFW. The full series can be found here.

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WWW: Preserving Shetland Traditions, The Knitting Runner, Call for “Weird and Wonderful” Project Photos

Love this: a crowdfunded project in the UK to pay instructors to teach the youngsters in Shetland to knit. Knitting used to be part of the school curriculum in Shetland, but it was stopped in 2010. Although teachers and parents have been trying to keep it going, there just isn’t enough support, and as a result precious skills are being lost. This initiative aims to preserve and nurture traditions, and kick off a longterm project to offer courses in a variety of Shetland’s heritage skills, including textiles.  More coverage in the Shetland Press here.

Tee hee: What’s your Knitting Face?

Knitting for displaced Syrians: a group of women in Villaverde del Rio, Spain, is hard at work crafting blankets. They usually donate their efforts to the local homeless population, but this autumn they have answered a call to donate their work to the Syrian People Support Association, a small NGO in Madrid. The group will then ship the blankets on to camps for displaced people inside Syria. The donations are part of a larger project, “Blanket of Life”, which has received donations from the United States, Latin America and other European nations. The vast majority of the relief efforts underway are focused on Syrians who have fled the country, this program is all about helping the displaced who are still within Syrian borders.

A New Zealand knitter marks the 2015 Rugby World Cup with knitted replicas of the teams, in fully detailed uniforms. Bonus points for amusing video of clever newspresenter making a total fool of himself in his attempts to knit.

This could be fun…. Following up on their recent piece about yarn crafting as art, the Guardian newspaper is asking for readers to send in photos of their “weird and wonderful” knitting, for possible inclusion in an upcoming supplement.

Speaking of weird and entirely wonderful, the Knitting Runner, David Babcock, is participating in two marathons this fall, knitting and crocheting all the way. He raising funds to be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association, to fund research into this terrible disease. He’s being sponsored by Lion Brand and this fall has added crochet to his workout regimen – cross-training!

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WWW: Amazon Handmade, Clever Sweater Hanging Trick, Spinrite Sale; Learn to Knit Socks with Kate

Beth Casey, the owner of Lorna’s Laces.

Love this piece from the KnittingDaily blog and Lorna’s Laces. It’s a great history of Lorna’s Laces yarn company, and gives some insight into the fun and challenges of running a yarn company, and making the shift from knitting-as-hobby to knitting-as-work.

Louise Walker’s “Snappy”

How wool got cool: Nice round-up on the Guardian of knitting-(and-crochet)-as-art.

We’ll be watching this with interest: Amazon has launched a new marketplace called “Handmade, for artisans to sell their work. It’s clearly designed to compete directly with Etsy.

This. Is. Brilliant. A way to safely hang your sweaters. The headline of the article feels awfully clickbaity – The Sweater Hanger Trick That Just Might Blow Your Mind – but it turns out they are entirely correct.

You might not know the name, but chances are they’re an important part of your life: the Spinrite company, based in Listowel, Ontario, has been sold. From the press release:

“Established in 1952, Spinrite is well known to the hobby market for its Patons, Bernat, Lily, Peaches & Creme, Caron and Phentex brands, which are sold through mass merchants, craft stores, and independent specialty stores. Spinrite markets approximately 4,000 SKUs across more than 100 product families, possesses the most diversified craft yarn manufacturing operation in North America, and is recognized as a market leader in new product development.”

Spinrite is important to me, as they are the makers of my beloved Kroy sock yarn. The press release makes clear that the intention is to keep the company functioning as it is, where it is, and to expand its content offerings. Phew!

Speaking of socks… want to learn how to knit socks, with our very own Kate? A month-long online class starts today. Work at your own pace, with lots of help and support through class materials, demos, discussion groups, etc. You can start over the weekend or even next week and still get the full class experience.

And still speaking of socks, fiber artist and spinner @purestrobin points me to this video she made for a school’s ‘Pioneer Days’, “From Flock to Sock” – it’s a cute summary of the how-sheep-become-yarn-becomes-sock story, very kid-friendly. Adorable sheep, shearing, cute socks – what’s not to love?

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Cirriform Sweater

The weather is getting chilly here in Toronto, and I’m starting to think about warmer clothes. I don’t know about you, but I go through this funny transitional stage in my wardrobe: I need warming layers, but I’m not yet ready to put my favourite t-shirts away; I’m not willing to move to full pullovers and winter clothes. A cuddly wrap-style cardigan is just the thing for this time of year: it doesn’t feel heavy, but provides a bit of warmth as the days get shorter. I can wear it over those favourite t-shirts, to help me gradually make the emotional and sartorial transition between seasons. It’s also great for this time of year when the days are still bright and warm, but the evenings are noticeably colder.

Emma Welford’s Cirriform cardi is an excellent example of the sort of thing I love: it’s cuddly and wrappy and light and lacy and lovely. It will look great over end-of-summer outfits, and make you warm without feeling heavy or wintery.

The designer writes about the cardigan on her blog. She provides some guidance on working the pattern, on choosing a size, and on choosing a yarn. The yarn was sadly discontinued after Emma completed her sample, but it was such a lovely design that we wanted to publish it anyway. She offers up some helpful information so that you get something that provides exactly the cuddly and warming effect you’re looking for.








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WWW: Knitting for others; sweaty knitting; new yarn shop opening in Toronto


We all love the craft or we wouldn’t still be doing it. But what to do with those bits and baubles, the left over pieces after the project is done?

How about knitting for your pets? If you don’t have any animals of your how, try your local animal shelter. Make a sweater, make a blanket, bedding or toy, something that makes use of those bits and makes an abandoned or mistreated animal warm and loved.

The Big Knitathon, sponsored by the Big Issue Foundation, is now in its fourth year. The Big Issue Foundation is a UK organization dedicated to raising funds and support for the homeless.  They’re asking knitters worldwide to dig out their yarn and get sponsored for your marathon knitting session in November. Knit a scarf, a hat, a pair of mitts and help keep people warm this winter.

If you’re interested in contributing to another community knitting project, consider knitting for Bletchley. The organizers of the public exhibition at this important historical site are seeking 1940s-style winter accessories to ‘dress’ the exhibit for winter. The huts where the codebreakers worked were famously cold, and woolies were an important part of the gear.

Let’s talk about multitasking here: Meredith Parmalee intends to knit while running the New York Marathon.  Her training runs focused not only on the running aspect, but the knitting aspect: she started with finger knitting, and eventually built up to carrying actual needles while she ran. Interestingly, she reports that knitting along has helped her set a steady pace… “with the knitting I can gauge my speed and energy a bit better and settle into a comfortable rhythm“. Although she admits that anything she works on while she trains gets a bit sweaty…

It’s always great to hear about a new yarn shop opening: tonight is the inaugural Stitch Night at the new Yarns Untangled, in Kensington Market, in downtown Toronto. The address and some of the faces at the shop might be familiar…

Speaking of yarn shops we know and love, here’s an excellent profile of Shall We Knit, of Waterloo, Canada, and teacher Lynne Sosnowski.

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WWW: Helping Syrian refugees; your 2016 calendar?; 2015 events

Laura’s donations.

Sometimes calls for charity knitting present challenges: they well-meaning but misguided, initiated by those at a remove from the situation. In this case, a call has come directly from someone involved in a difficult situation, and it’s provides a very meaningful way for knitters to help out.

Friend of Knitty, designer Laura Nelkin, has a very active Ravelry group. One of her participants, Andrea, is a doctor working in a public health office near Munich, Germany. Her office has been inundated with work because of the arrival of so many Syrian refugees: her town alone is expecting over 1,000 men, women and children. Many of them will be living in tents.

To quote from Laura’s blog post:

One of Andrea’s concerns is that the winter months are coming and many of these refugees are not properly prepared for the cold. So, I am hoping some of you can take a little time out from your knitting projects and make them some warm items. They don’t need to be fancy, but they do need to be functional and bright!

Andrea has offered to be a “hub” for us to help get the woolens to those in need. Since she is on the front line of this situation and dealing with it daily, I feel sure that our items will be appreciated and used.

Read more about this initiative on Laura’s blog.

Charming and ever so slightly saucy, in a woolly sort of way: order your own copy of the Nudiknits 2016 calendar. Featuring lovely full-color pictures of designer’s trademark clever designs, gentle innuendo and visual puns, it’s guaranteed to raise a smile. Click here for an example of what to expect. There’s also a YouTube channel, of utterly wonderful and quite ridiculous knitted animations.

Another smart well to help out a good cause:  Yarn store Shabby Motley (what a great name!) in Sault Ste Marie, Canada, held their first annual Knit-A-Thon with proceeds heading directly to the local soup kitchen. The event, organized by Tiffany Baxter, began promptly at 11am and continued for 24 hours. Occasional breaks for Pilates and Tai Chi were sprinkled throughout the event alongside the raffle draws and games to keep everyone going.
“We had so many people interested that we had to close the sign up. We can only facilitate so many people for a 24-hour period; it’s been overwhelming.
People unable to attend the knit-a-thon helped instead with gifts of food and knitted hats, mitts and scarves and “We have received lots of donations from local businesses,” Baxter said.

What a fun way to help out a deserving causing!

The hall at Yarndale – gorgeous and welcoming! Image courtesy Yarndale/Elizabeth.

It’s knitting season, so there are all sorts of wonderful events and activities and gatherings for the yarny-types. Last weekend, Yarndale was held, in Skipton, Yorkshire.

This weekend alone there’s Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago  (Amy will be there!) and KnitCity in Vancouver (Kate will be there!). The following weekend is The Knitting and Stitching Show in London UK, and the weekend after that it’s the Creativ Festival in Toronto, the Woodstock Fleece Festival in Woodstock, Ontario, The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival (a.ka. Rhinebeck), and the only one I get my husband interested in, the Bakewell Wool Gathering in Derbyshire (he loves Bakewell tarts).  If you’re looking for an event, remember that Clara Parkes maintains a list on the Knitter’s Review website.


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