WWW: Preserving Traditional Newfoundland Knitting; Street Lace; On Cost of Making

Classic Newfoundland patterns and designs, including the famous “trigger mitts”. Image from CBC website.

Love this: CBC profiles two Newfoundland-based knitters who are working to preserve traditional Newfoundland knitting patterns. Shirley Scott – known as “Shirl the Purl” has been collecting samples of mittens, hats and scarves, and the patterns used to make them. She has passed her collection on to Christine LeGrow, the owner of Spindrift Handknits, who aims to keep these patterns in circulation, and keep this important part of Canada’s social history alive.

Wonderful, clever and moving: a music video for band James, created entirely with yarn.

I’m very excited about this upcoming exhibition ‘A Whole Other World: Sub-Culture Craft’ at the Racine Art Museum in Racine, WI.

The show, focused on artists inspired by Doctor Who, Star Wars, Steampunk, and Superheroes, explores the intersection of art with cultural subjects that inspire devoted “fan” followings. A Whole Other World features a variety of objects and images, from quilts to prints to sculpture – either works directly inspired by these themes, or by the winding of these kinds of topics in-and-out of popular culture,.

I’m excited because it sounds absolutely amazing. Oh and also, the original Bigger on the Inside scarf is part of the show.

Image from Huffington Post website.

Not Strictly Knitting, but utterly beautiful: Street artist NeSpoon uses traditional lace patterns, textures and structures in very non-traditional ways.

This week’s thought-provoking discussion: “What Is Your Cost of Making?” Looking at both the cost to the knitter in the retail store, and the larger issue of cost all along the production cycle of the materials, this blog post addresses head-on the question of how much we’re willing to spend to make a sweater.

Anecdotally, I see an interesting divergence in the way knitters think of the cost of the materials: is this an item of clothing, and should the yarn cost be considered in the context of a ‘clothing budget’, or is this a hobby, and is the yarn cost considered more in the context of ‘entertainment value’? Some of this is driven, of course, by the knitter’s available budget, but it seems to me to be an interesting demonstration of the shift in how we “use” knitting – we’re not (just) doing it because we need clothes. Many knitters do it because they want ‘entertainment’, or the satisfaction of making, or to express a creative impulse – and the money considerations become very different. Although paying $30 for a pair of socks is unquestionably outrageous, that figure can feel a little different if you consider the value of a couple of week’s worth of crafting pleasure and the satisfaction and comfort of making a custom-fit item that you are proud to show off.

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Back in 2011, I ran a survey to gather foot measurements. Although I design and knit many things, socks have been my main focus for a long time. Being a small-footed type, proper sock sizing was important to me, and this survey was designed to help me and other designers better size sock patterns. Many Knitty readers contributed their measurements – thank you! And I published my findings on this blog.

Almost exactly four years later, this survey has become part of a book, too: Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet* launches this summer.


I know! It’s a terrible image! But it should convey what I need, I hope?

Now it’s time for the other extremity: hands. I’m doing the same thing, gathering information on hand size, to help me better size mittens for adults and children. If you’ve got a minute or two spare, and a tape measure handy, will you please measure your hands for me? Both of them, ideally? And maybe the hands of the other members of your household?

It’s quick, I promise! There are two questions about demographics (age group, and whether you work in metric or imperial) and then six measurements as shown in the graphic. Survey here. I’ve also added a place for you to tell me about any special mitten and glove fit needs you might have and customizations you might make: do you always make a string? do you always work extra-long cuffs? do you have trouble with the thumb lengths?

Thank you! I will, as before, publish the results here. (And yes, I am hoping to publish another book, too.)

*If you’re interested, there’s  more info about the sock book here and here:

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WWW: Spies and Artists and Cultural Shifts

Image courtesy Future Museum/Sanquhar Tollbooth Museum, Copyright Dumfries & Galloway Council.

Virtual museum visit: The Future Museum of South West Scotland makes many of their exhibits available for viewing and exploration online. Love this collection of items showing the history and evolution of Sanquhar Knitting. Sanquhar knitting, at its peak in the 18th century, features very distinct patterning, always worked in black and white, and was typically used for gloves. There are many objects for viewing, beautifully photographed, with lots of background information. I also loved the collection of vintage knitting patterns.

Fabulous story about Phyllis Doyle, a British spy who used knitting to conceal codes while working behind enemy lines during World War Two. Her story is incredible enough, even without the knitting connection.

Interesting discussion about where craft is going, and cultural shifts in the industry: designer Karie Westermann writes a thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis of trends she’s seeing in the craft culture and industry (and yes, it is an industry). And Ellen Gill has written an equally interesting and important post in response. You may not agree with everything they say, but their thinking is important.

I wonder who did the tech edit for this?

Fun, on the LoveKnitting blog! 10 Things You Don’t Know About Knitting! Did you know that the first knitting book was written in the 17th century? I didn’t!

1955 Clare McCardell dress, featuring a Picasso-designed fabric. Image courtesy Textile Museum of Canada.

And today in ‘Not Strictly Knitting But Still Very Cool’. If you’re anywhere near Toronto this summer, get yourself to the Textile Museum of Canada. Two things there merit your attention: the annual More Than Just A Yardage Sale, May 29 & 30th, is a fundraiser for the museum. It’s a sale of textiles and related items: fabrics, yarn, books, notions and supplies. There’s always a selection of vintage clothes, and I adore digging around in the UFOs piles. The inventory comes from donations, and many crafters donate unloved projects. I’ve bought half-complete projects to salvage tools and yarn and patterns.

And the other item is an exhibition: Artist Textiles: From Picasso to Warhol. Curated by British collectors Geoffrey Rayner and Richard Chamberlain, the exhibition features a rarely-seen selection of more than 200 printed textiles designed by some of the 20th century’s preeminent artists. It runs until October 4th.

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Surprise Pattern: Angular Velocity Socks

The clever and gentlemanly Rich Ensor has designed another winning sock: the Angular Velocity.

He writes about the inspiration and the design process on his blog.

Now, I’m not just bringing your attention to this blog post because Rich says nice things about me… (it’s a mutual admiration) but because Rich illuminates the design process.

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WWW: Venus de Milo’s arms; Interweave book sale; knitting to help orphaned baby birds


Love this: using 3D printing to test a theory that the Venus de Milo’s missing arms were busy hand-spinning.

This coming weekend, an epic book sale is being held at the old Interweave office, in Loveland, Colorado. Interweave outgrew the space – a beautiful old renovated bank, and were sad to move out. They’d been at that location for many years, and a huge collection of books amassed by the founders had been stored there. Now the building is up for sale, and the library is being sold off. The backstory on the extensive collection is here. In addition, there will be bargains available on old Interweave titles. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Warmth and comfort for injured birds.

We wrote about this in the winter, and now’s the time to act: The WildCare wildlife rehabilitation center in San Rafael, California, is seeking donations of hand-knit birds nest to help them save injured and orphaned baby birds.

The Huffington Post discovers that knitting is fun and cool and satisfying and all those things we know. I poke a little fun, but it’s nice to see knitting being written about in “mainstream” media in a positive way.

Next Tuesday, May 12th, guest lecturer Julia Collins of University of Edinburgh is speaking about the parallels between mathematics and knitting, at the Linnanmaa Campus of the Univeristy of Ouluo, in Finland. I’m very sorry I can’t attend this!

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Surprise Pattern: Lady Lismore – KAL and prizes!

Our first Surprise pattern is the magnificently colorful, and colorfully magnificent Lady Lismore shawl. I love how utterly striking it is in this color combo. It’s a clever use of dropped and textural stitch patterns: entirely different from the usual lace shawl – both casual and more delicate at the same time.

The designer, Elanor King, showed us photos of her original version of it, ina totally different but equally fantastic color combo: blue and shocking pink.

She provides details on the colour choices and yarns for both versions on her blog.

In addition, Elanor is running a KAL, with prizes! It starts today, so hopefully you’ll have something in your stash to get started. Or go shopping tonight, after work.


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WWW: Cats in Hats, Yarn Shop Day, Math for Knitters

The news coming from Nepal this week is terrible. The damage from the earthquake is catastrophic, and there has been much loss of life and property. Living conditions are very difficult.

It seemed like a good time to remind you that the lovely ladies of Mason Dixon Knitting raise funds all year round for The Mercy Corps, an international relief and development organization. Buy any of their three blanekt patterns: Mitered Crosses, Cornerstone and A Light in the Window, and all proceeds will be donated. Organizations have been struggling to get on the ground in Nepal to assist; The Mercy Corps were already there when the earthquake struck. There were 90 workers in the country, and cash donations are what they need to be most productive and helpful.

No words.

Festoon your Feline with Fiber – or, Cats in Hats. Designer Sara Thomas has just published a book of knit and crochet patterns for headwear for the feline members of the family. She admits that only one of her two cats enjoys playing model: her second cat, Sinclair, prefers to ‘attack’ the creations, rather than wear them. Having known a lot of cats in my life, I’m actually impressed that she’s found any cat willing to model…

This Saturday is Yarn Shop Day in the UK. See this map to find participating shops… there will be special activities and sales and giveaways and all sorts of fibery fun.

Yes, it’s that time of year: the baseball season! And nothing goes better with baseball than knitting.  And you know what that means: Stitch & Pitch. There’s a listing of events at the link.

Looking forward to other summery yarny things to do: the planning for the 2015 edition of Toronto’s TTC Knitalong is kicking off. This year’s date is Saturday August 22nd. Follow the blog or the Twitter account for updates.

Combining some of my favourite things: coffee, yarn and science! Knitter and felter Lynn has run a series of tests to prove the effectiveness of a felted wool coffee-pot cozy.

Our own Kate (hey! that’s me!) has got a few new online classes in the works: this Wednesday and Wednesday the 13th of May, she’s running a two-part web seminar on the topic of Math for Knitters. Designed to help you conquer the tricky numbers problems in knitting, the first part focuses on yarn shop and pattern math: how to use a bit of simple arithmetic to help you confidently make yarn substitutions, to track your progress in a pattern, and to handle challenging instructions like “at the same time” and “increase evenly across”. Part two focuses on gauge and garment math – what to do if you can’t match gauge, and strategies for garment alterations.

Even if you can’t attend live, you can listen ‘after the fact’ – and indeed, registration gives you full on-demand access for a year. Info on part one here, and part two here. Attend live if you can, I think the best part of these web seminars is the live q&a.

With tongue planted very firmly in cheek, humor site McSweeney’s writes about knitting circles… “THERE ARE NO EGOS IN OUR KNITTING GROUP“. Spoiler alert: there are, and they are kinda hysterical.

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WWW: Political Pincushions; On the Wrong Side; Knitting Dinner Theatre

The waistband of a 1960s-era Chanel wool suit. (Swoon.)

Definitely not knitting, but definitely great: The blog “INSIDE OUT” is connected to an exhibition at Kent State Museum, and it focuses on the insides of garments. In the words of the curator…

Fashion history usually focuses on changing silhouettes with the rise and fall of hemlines or the tightening and loosening of waistlines. Underlying these external shifts are structural changes that appear only when the garments are laid out and examined closely. Creating three-dimensional garments from bolts of cloth demands solving certain basic problems: how to finish the edges, how to fasten the garments, how to shape the material around the body’s curves. Dressmakers and tailors have addressed these problems with a number of ingenious methods. Some of these techniques reappear in every era while others are specific to a period. Technological innovations have had a direct effect on construction techniques. The invention of snaps and zippers obviously affected designs, as did wider looms and sewing machines. This exhibition tracks these changes with a careful selection of representative pieces, which are mounted in ways to allow visitors to take a close look at the interiors.

There are lots of fantastic photos on the blog.

Love this! As the UK election approaches, the group Knit for Peace has been hosting workshops to teach you how to make your own pin-cushion/voodoo doll of the crafters’ least favourite political candidates. They’re non-partisan, providing instruction for all of the major parties…

Members of cast of “Stitch, Bitch n’ Die”.

Fun: a theatre group in Wisconsin is stretching the skills of some of the cast of their latest play by demanding they learn to knit. The Portage Area Community Theatre group is putting on a murder mystery play, “Stitch, Bitch n’ Die”, written by Minnesota native Joseph Scrimshaw. Attendees are encouraged to bring knitting to the show – and prizes will be awarded to knitters who stitch their way through the show. The play’s action focuses on a group of knitters who call themselves ‘K.U.I’ (Knitting Under the Influence), and takes places around their favorite yarn store.

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Geek Socks

I’m a sock knitter. You might know that.  And I have a particular weakness for self-striping sock yarns. It’s fun to move to the next color, sure… but after a while, you’ve got a drawer full of pretty similar socks… stripe, stripe, stripe, stripe.

How to make it a bit different? How to vary up the patterning without up the difficulty level (or indeed creating a million loose ends to be woven in)?

First-time Knitty designer Wei S. Leong has come up with a simple yet clever solution (my favorite kind) in this slipped stitch color pattern, The Geek Socks. A well-place pattern of slipped stitches makes wavy-wiggly stripes. So easy to knit, and yet so utterly wonderfully different.

She writes about them here. How good is this rainbow version?


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WWW: Fundraiser Dishcloth, Building Cozy; Crocheting with Paint?

Lorilee Beltman is doing a good thing. She’s selling a knit dishcloth pattern for $2, with all proceeds going to support the Special Olympics. Her late brother Mark was a participant, and she does this in his memory.

Lorilee says that Mark’s enthusiasm would sometimes get the better of him: he would disqualify himself swimming by standing in the middle of the pool to wave to everyone.

Buy it here.

Ok, we’ve all seen mug cozies and tea cozies and tree cozies… how about a building cozy? Well, ok, it’s only a scarf. But it’s still 700ft long.

Fantastically cool: Artist Angela Teng crochets with acrylic paint.

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