WWW: ‘Secret History of Knitting’ documentary; Body Parts; Wool Wednesday?

Click here to watch a new TV documentary, ‘The Secret History of Knitting, featuring our own Kate, Amy, and Kate’s LYS Yarns Untangled. Lots of other famous faces appear, too! Made for the newly lauch Makeful TV channel, it does a good job of telling the story of knitting – and of knitters.

We also absolutely loved the accompanying ‘slow TV’ event, ‘Knit Purl Knit: Three Hours in a Yarn Shop‘, filmed over a Sunday afternoon at Yarns Untangled. Soothing and beautiful.

If you’re in the Toronto area, this Saturday is the Toronto Knitter’s Guild annual Frolic! With retail and classes, this event is a highlight of the knitting year.

And if you’re in the UK, this Saturday is Yarn Shop Day. Shops all over the UK are offering promotions, activities and perhaps even tea and cake. A great opportunity to visit a new-to-you shop, remember that it doesn’t count as stash if it’s a souvenir…

“Whatya making?” “A brain.”

Love this: knitted body parts for use in primary school health classes! Volunteer knitters in Lancashire have been contributing to this clever educational project.

If you’re not tired of listening to Kate babble on, she was on Marly Bird’s Yarn Thing podcast this week, talking about the new edition of her Pattern Writing book. And a couple of weeks ago, Amy was on the show, too, talking about all things Knitty.

Students at an art school is Lausanne, Switzerland, have created a chair that knits a hat while you read. The article is in French, but the pictures tell you everything you need to know!

Yes, we know! Knitting appears on a list of hobbies that are recommended as a ‘mindfulness techniques’.

I agree!

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Stiorra: additional resources

The designer of this issue’s fabulous Stiorra sweater writes about the design on her blog. We adore this sweater: it’s lacy, but not too delicate, and just so very wearable. I think my favourite detail is the shirt-tail hem.

Ewelina’s blog post also has links to a bunch of helpful resources, too.

The sweater uses a clever “horizontal rib” technique around the neck, to avoid it stretching. She’s created a very helpful tutorial.

And she’s also got both written instructions, and a full version of the Back Lace chart.

Speaking of charts, we’ve also got an alternative chart for the lace pattern, courtesy of JC Briar’s Stitch-Maps tool.


This view of the sleeve pattern, shows the symmetry of the “flower petals,” and the pairs of yarnovers separating them, as highlighted below. These types of “flow” charts don’t work for all designs, but this view is a terrific way to help you visualize the fabric you’re creating.



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WWW: Myths and Legends; Yarnbombing At Sea

Spoiler alert! (Image from the Yarn Sub blog.)

File under: “this is what we’ve been going on about all these years”. A really really really illuminating and important post about gauge differences between knitters. Read it before you do anything else. Go on, I’ll wait.

Fabulous: a discussion of the history of Aran sweaters, focussing in particular on the myths and legends that surround them and their origins. Spoiler alert: No, there are not specific family patterns; no, stitch patterns weren’t used to identify drowned sailors; and no, they are not nearly as traditional as people would have you believe. Also worth a visit even if you don’t have time to read the whole thing to see pictures of some fabulous mid-20th century samples of the form.

Knitter wins Jeopardy TV game show, internet is faintly amazed by her honestly about how she spend her spare time.

A legend in a totally different way: the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, sends a hand-written thank you note to a woman who knitted him a pair of socks.

Looking forward to reading about this: a PhD study of the role of the Facebook groups in connectedness and community amongst crafters. Social media is so important in the resurgence of craft, and I’m pleased to see this being discussed.

All sorts of great: an oceanography study ship has an artist in residence program. And scientist and fiber artist Michelle Schwengel-Regala yarn-bombs the heck out of R/V Falkor while at sea.

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WWW: ‘The Knitterati’ pilot episode; Mill-Girl Shawl-Wearing; ‘Craft in America’ episode

We have the two winners of copies of my Pattern Writing book – Mary Kay Smith, and Sarah of Safdar. Congrats! Thanks for entering!

Featuring Amy’s LYS, The Purple Purl, watch the pilot episode of knitting comedy ‘The Knitterati’.

“Hipster darlings of the knitting community, Mary Crochet & Gerry DiLana struggle to keep their store afloat amidst a string of bad luck. It’s the least they can do to keep themselves and their loyal customers happy. But their lives are unraveling too quickly to keep it all together.”

Pun-tastic and pretty silly, it’s a fun couple of minutes.


One of the kits available, the Ellen scarf.

Reader discount offer!
Jane’s Knitting Kits is offering 10% off of their kits to the first 50 KnittyBlog readers that use the code: KNITTYBLOG at checkout.

Attending the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival next month? Or looking for an excuse to? I’m teaching a full slate of classes: Intro to Design, Pattern Writing, Socks, all sorts of things. Come and see me!

Although not knitting, I really enjoyed this video about another craft…. A rock-and-roll guitarist quits his band to become a watchmaker.

Set aside an hour: A fantastic episode of the PBS series Craft in America, ‘Threads’ featuring interviews with fiber artists of all kinds.

Tee hee hee. “Fond of a good time.”

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“Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns”

NewEd_coverI’m very happy to announce the (re-)launch of my guide to writing knitting patterns.

Driven by my work as a technical editor, I self-published this book in 2014, under the title “Pattern Writing for Knit Designers” expecting to sell a handful of copies to professional knit designers. I was very pleasantly surprised by the demand from designers of all levels, and the feedback on the book was wonderful. I have chosen to work with Interweave Press to distribute the book further beyond the limits of what my local post office can help with…

The book gathers my ten years’ of experience as a technical editor into a guide for designers to help them write instructions that any knitter can follow.

Official shipping date is April 11th, and it’s available in both physical and digital forms from all the usual online sources. We encourage you to support your local yarn shop!

This book is the culmination of my work as a a technical editor and my previous career as a product communications specialist in the technology industry.

The book is a guide to writing knitting patterns: how to translate your great knitting project into a set of instructions that any other knitter can follow.
I provide concrete guidelines, with lots of examples, on topics including:

  • what information needs to be included in a knitting pattern
  • how to properly and clearly communicate sizing and measurement information
  • what schematics are, why you need them, and how to create them
  • how to use charts and written instructions to express special pattern stitches like cables and lace
  • stitch nomenclature (especially related to cables), abbreviations, and glossaries -how to handle multiple sizes and versions
  • use of brackets and * to indicate repeats
  • how to establish a personal style sheet And much, much more. So much more!

I discuss technical editing and test knitting – explain what they are how, why they’re important, and when they need to be done. I give tips for designers who wish to self-publish, and for those preparing submissions to a publication. And although it’s not a guide to layout or photography or grading or design, I give lots of guidance and references to help you.

And I’ve heard from knitters that it’s helped them understand how patterns are written and created, even if they’re not planning to write a pattern themselves. If you’re interested in being a designer, a test knitter, or a technical editor, this book is for you.

And people have said some very nice things about it…

Kay Gardiner of Mason Dixon Knitting reviewed the new version and declared it a “godsend”.

This book is AWESOME. Even if you’re an experienced pattern writer with a successful career, this book will help you catch up with the current trends in writing patterns for today’s younger knitters. – Donna Druchunas

Kate Atherley’s marvelous book is essential reading for any designer looking to create patterns that work well and sell well; and intriguing reading for any curious knitter who has ever wondered what goes into the creation of pattern. – Franklin Habit

If you are considering pattern writing, or want to become a knitter who understands how to read patterns more deeply, this book is for you. I certainly wish I had it when I was starting out! – Laura Nelkin

We have two copies to give away. The usual rules apply: leave a comment below, by midnight EDT Sunday April 10th. If you’ve won something from us in the last year, we ask that you give someone else a chance. Winners will be chosen randomly, and a skill-testing question will apply.

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WWW: History Podcasts, Lost Glove, On Not Rinsing

Image from the Sweet Home blog.

An excellent, informative article about handwashing clothes, and an explanation of how those no-rinse wool-washes actually work. The author has a PhD in chemistry, and knows what she’s talking about.

The ‘Missed in History’ podcast archives are a treasure trove of listening delights… I’ve particularly enjoyed the episodes ‘Knitting’s Early History‘ and a two-part episode on the Irish Potato famine (one, two), which discusses knitting’s role in social and economic life.

June 24 & 25th are the dates for this year’s Woolfest British Wool Festival, held in Cumbria. This event, in its 11th year, is a major highlight of the fibre calendar in the U.K. There are animals and vendors and classes and demonstrations — all sorts of fabulous fibrey goodness.

Squeeze away your stress?

Apparently April is ‘Stress Awareness Month’ – not coincidentally because it’s the month in which US and Canadian income tax paperwork is due. Lion Brand and the Craft Yarn Council of America have released knit and crochet patterns for little lemons you can make as stress-balls. They are collecting these items to hand out to stressed New Yorkers on April 18th, the day that taxes are due. Whether you’re stressed about taxes or not, this looks like a fun little project to make a toy or a decorative item!

Friend-of-the-show Kate O’Sullivan has recently relaunched her lovely podcast, ‘A Playful Day. Kate’s a maker of all kinds: a knitter, a baker, and an excellent photographer. In her first episode, she talks about her recently completed project, ‘A Maker’s Year’, and how it’s inspired her work and her personal approach to life. The podcast presents interviews, project ideas, recipes and challenges: in her words, “Think of it as a weekly call to be creative.”

Are you near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada? Help a knitter find a lost cashmere glove!

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WWW: Continuing Traditions – Lambs and Buttons and Jabots

Knitting a Soul: A lovely essay, excerpted from the book ‘Zen and the Art of Knitting’, about creativity and learning and the satisfaction that comes from making.

Imaege and pattern (c) Donna Druchunas and Ava Coleman

Love this: Feminist Knitting patterns. In particular, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Jabot is fantastic, an homage to a very strong woman. The jabot is a traditional style of collar, fashionable in the early part of the twentieth century. They were worn to soften the look of a severe jacket or collarless blouse, and that’s exactly how Justice Ginsburg wears hers, with her US Supreme Court robes.

If you want to better know the history of women, get to know their buttons: on a new book, ‘The Button Box’, by writer and teacher Lynn Knight. From the article… the book is ‘part memoir, part conceit for a consideration of politics and culture, though both notions are grounded, metaphorically and actually, in her own personal collection of family buttons. “You couldn’t get something more mundane than a button but they can tell larger stories,” Knight says.’

On the topic of buttons, a profile of “Tender Buttons”, a legendary store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In operation since 1964, the owners have curated a remarkable retail experience, and a one-of-a-kind collection of these tiny and practical works of art. The photo slide show is absolutely wonderful.

It’s lambing season, and the Herdy Shepherd is sharing pictures of the activity on his farm. Perhaps not entirely safe for work or lunchtime viewing: some of the pictures are quite messy, depicting the details of animal births.

West Coasters: what are you doing the weekend of May 13-15? Come join Kate at Vogue Knitting Live in Pasadena, maybe? I’m teaching classes on all sorts of things, including my always popular Socks for Absolute Beginners. (Yes, really. As long as you know how to knit and purl, and have even half an hour’s experience working in the round, I can teach you how to make socks.)

For those versed in the minutiae of computer languages and linguistics, this little video is rather a hoot.

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On Liquid Honey and Craving Color

It’s spring! Apparently. Where I am, it’s still grey and brown, and it’s going to be a few more weeks before we see much in the way of greenery or flowers.

Although the cold and snowy winter days get tiresome, I think this ‘season’ – after the snow but before things start growing – can feel the longest here in the Northeast of North America. It’s just so very drab. You’re still mostly wearing your dark winter clothes, mornings are darker with the shift to Daylight Savings Times, and there’s no colour outdoors, and with all that pre-summer rain, there seems to be less sunshine.

Good friend Denny always says that you shouldn’t knit with grey or brown in March. She’s absolutely right!

Certainly when considering designs for our spring issue, we’re attracted to color! And we loved Amy van de Laar’s Liquid Honey shawl design for its bright sunshiney hue, and also for the fabulous photographs.

Just so beautiful.

(Hint: Want to be a Knitty cover designer? Send us pictures of summer in the depths of winter! :-) )

Amy writes about the design — and the trees and plums she was posing with — on her blog.

This design in very accessible, even to less experienced lace knitters, and is the sort of beautiful but not-too-fussy shawl you’ll reach for every day. As you can see, it looks great with denim, worn very casually, it would cheer up that dark winter coat, and I can also see it worn with a fancy dress at a summer wedding. Follow Amy’s lead and make it in a bright color, one that brings you joy.

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WWW: Real Body Models; a Visit to the Wool Scourer’s; Helpful Knitting Cats

From the University of Southampton Knitting Reference Library.

University of Southampton Knitting Reference Library: I’ve written about this amazing collection of vintage knitting books before, but it never fails to bring joy, education, and amusement. It’s worth a scroll, just to admire the beautiful cover artwork of the older knitting books. (Some of the more recent books covers are great, too, but in a totally different way – 1970s and 1980s hairstyles never fail to amuse.)

We’ve seen some of these before, but I enjoyed Mental Floss magazine’s roundup of 10 impressive yarnbombing projects.

image copyright Rachel Atkinson

I was excited to read about the launch of Rachel Atkinson’s Daughter of a Shepherd, a new yarn company out of the UK using fleeces from her father’s flock of Hebridean sheep. I particularly enjoyed the gorgeous photos on this blog post  about one of the key steps in turning fleeces into handknitting yarn: ‘At the Scourer’s‘. More on the project here.

A real person, with real proportions and measurements. Image from the Tracing Real Body Models website.

Fantastic: The ‘Tracing Real Body Models‘ project. Clothing designers often use pre-made illustrations of bodies, known as ‘croquis‘, as the basis for the design sketches. The problem is that these croquis are typically built to fashion model body standards: unrealistically tall and thin. This project aims to produce croquis based on actual people, with actual measurements, taken from photographs.

Also happy-making: #helpfulknittingcats on Instagram.

Kicked off by Ann Shayne, this is all about showing the world how much our cats enjoy participating in our craft. My old cat Nathan used to enjoy batting at the ends of my needles – it’s because of him I gave up working on straights and switched to circulars.

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WWW: Yarn documentary; on Craftivism; Kate classes in Austin, Texas

From the Knits for Life blog.

Monday of this week, March 14th, was celebrated by the numerically inclined as Pi Day. We were reminded of these fantastic ‘knit’ pies that were created for last year’s Pi Day, by the very clever Lorna and Jill of the Knits for Life blog. Even if you don’t remember what Pi is, or have the slightest interest in celebrating mathematics, you can’t help but love these!

Very handsome! The guy isn’t bad, either.

Love this: a History of the Aran Sweater, in nifty interactive timeline format, with bonus picture of actor Steve McQueen sporting a really fabulous example of the form. Joking aside, this is fascinating, and features a lot of images of really great garments. It also quietly debunks a few myths.

A tiny bit of spicy language on this page, but worth a visit: information about upcoming documentary Yarn, which premiered at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas last weekend. In the words of the filmmakers…

The traditional crafts of crochet and knitting have become one of the hottest movements in modern art. We follow a few International artists and knitters as they bring yarn to the streets and into our lives in new ways. Starting in Iceland, this quirky and thought-provoking film takes us on a colourful and global journey as we discover how yarn connects us all.

More info at the film’s website, and you can watch the trailer here.

Speaking of Austin, I’m going there at the beginning of April to teach a weekend’s worth of classes for the Austin Knit and Crochet Guild. Saturday April 9 is all about socks – a full day class on custom fitting, and heels and toes and different ways to make socks and problem solving – Sunday the 10th there are two classes: Fixing Mistakes in Lace, and Fearless Finishing. There are a few spots in the classes open to non-members. More info here… come join me?

Language and politics alert: NSFW or children or those who don’t like swearing. You may or may not agree with everything the author has to say, but I really enjoyed (and had my eyes opened) by this piece by noted Craftivist Cath Janes, about her art and her message.

Exciting news: our fearless and lovely editor is healing well after her Carpal Tunnel surgery last week. She’ll be back at the keyboard and needles in no time.

I’m getting my hand back! #carpaltunnelsurgery #bigbandaid #stitchesunderthere #healingnicely

A photo posted by Amy Singer (@amysinger) on

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