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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?

Fantastic!

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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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Spring & Summer Issue WIPs & FOs

CanadianNeedlesMylui Lino top is coming along nicely. This just makes me crave warm summer sunshine.

Simple elegance. A great yarn substitution!

FiatKnitter‘s Mia tank is coming along well.

Fantastic colour choice.

KnitPearlKim‘s Nahant scarf.

A minor variation – narrower to make sure the knitter had enough yarn. But just as wonderful!

And I adore this version, in handspun.

Can’t wait to see it grow.

Love these rainbow-tastic Geek Socks by OnlyLouise.

So much fun!

And this close-up of the lace and beads gets me very excited about TNTknit‘s Hybrid Vigour project.

Beautiful yarn and bead combo. Subtle and sophisticated.

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WWW: Readings on the Ethics of Wool; Fun Facts About Sheep; On Yarn Substitutions

A very helpful and clear guide to yarn substitutions… an excerpt from Margaret Radcliffe’s book ‘The Knowledgeable Knitter‘.


Everything you need to know, in one image. (Borrowed from the Berroco yarns website.)

Another important topic: on measuring yourself for a garment, by Amy Christoffers on the Berroco yarns blog.


Top Ten Facts about Sheep. I think the first one is the best…

Sheep have excellent memories for the faces of both other sheep and humans which they can remember for several years.


If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve had a couple of conversations recently about the issues of animal welfare as it relates specifically to wool. In the last few weeks, I’ve been asked by a few people – some knitters, some not – about the ethics of wool. I honestly didn’t feel sufficiently well informed to speak to their concerns. I am, of course, sensitive to animal welfare issues. But I also know that there is a lot of misinformation floating around, and a lot of confusion about a very complex and layered issue. And it’s an emotional issue, too. I feel strongly that, just as with meat-eating and fur-wearing, everyone must make their own decision about it. I do believe the best approach is to learn as much as you can.

When chatting about this on Twitter, fiber expert Deb Robson weighed in with a pointer to a blog post she’d written on this topic a number of years ago, and then created a blog post from a recent email exchange.

Some other good reading: The Guardian’s ethics and green living experts, answering a reader’s question on the ethics of wool.

No matter your own feelings on wool/meat-eating/fur and other related topics, I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of those in the fiber industry agree that “large-scale, industrial production harms animals, humans, and the planet” (Deb’s words, she puts it so well.) Not all producers engage in the same practices, and in this, as with everything, information is your best ally.


Related: I did rather enjoy this picture, found on Twitter.

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On Hybrid Vigour & A Traditional Shawl Variation

Have you see the beautiful cover design in the latest issue? Mary-Anne Mace’s Hybrid Vigour. It’s a hybrid design, in that it’s a shawl that is partially closed, to be worn like the most elegant poncho ever.

A poncho, but not a Poncho, y’know?

I mean, I do like a poncho. They’re particularly great at this time of year – for transitional weather. But I wouldn’t use the word elegant to describe them. Mary-Anne has made a practical thing beautiful. And we love her for it.

Of course, you might want to just wear it as a shawl, too. Mary-Anne has kindly produced notes and instructions on how to work it flat, if you’re so inclined.

Just beautiful!

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WWW: Textile photography; crafting in space; Bolivian knitters saving lives

Fantastic post on the blog of the Surface Design Association about the importance of good photography, and sharing some tips for textile artists to make sure their photography is the best it can be.

It’s worth getting to know the Surface Design Association, a group out of New Mexico. The group aims promote awareness and appreciation of textile-inspired art and design through publications, exhibitions and conferences. There’s some really lovely and inspiring stuff on their blog.


Handmade wonders.

We’ve all heard that knitting is good for your health, and this proves it in a rather unexpected way: Bolivian knitters are helping babies born with heart defects by knitting up tiny occluders to block a hole a patient’s heart. Yes, really. The device is so small and intricate that the industrial equipment were struggling to make them – so cardiologist Franz Freudenthal turned to knitters to help.  The knitting is done in a special “clean room” to keep everything sanitary and safe. Amazing story!


Further to the Astro socks, I love this pic of Astronaut Karen Nyberg crafting in space. I know if I was planning for a stay on the ISS, I’d pack yarn and needles.


Ooh… that’s a nice one!

Love this story about the famed cardigans of beloved US children’s TV presenter Mr. Rogers. He always wore a cardigan to host his eponymous show, and we learn that his mother made them for him.


Knitting is indeed everywhere in Lithuania!

Knitty columninst Donna Druchunas shares details of her latest project: a book about Lithuanian Knitting traditions. She’s using Pubslush as a way to fund the project through preoders. Even if you’re not sure about preordering or contributing, Donna’s introduction video is interesting, and the traditional knits that Donna shows are really beautiful!


The key to expanding your knitting skills!

Have you heard about my new Craftsy class? “Perfect Knits Every Time: Understanding Knitting Patterns” is designed for knitters who are confident with their yarn and needles, but are just starting to work from patterns.

We’re offering a special 50% discount for our Knitty fans. More info here.
In this class I explain how to understand everything about a pattern: not just how to read the instructions and understand all those special terms and abbreviations, but also

  • where to find good patterns
  • how to identify the right pattern for your skill levels
  • how to make sure you’re using the right needles and yarn for the project
  • how to understand the sizing information given, and to make sure you always choose the right size to make
  • how to read and work from charts

The goal is to help you find a pattern that’s appropriate to your skill level and interests, and make sure that you’re able to work through it with ease. Along the way I share tips for working from a pattern, to ensure you not only produce a beautiful finished result, but also that you have a good time doing it!

If you want a sense of what it’s all about this, this video explains.

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Evangelina: Stitch-Maps Charts

Today’s post comes from guest writer, JC Briar, developer of the Stitch-Maps charting tool. She’s written for us before, and her clever tool permits interesting and illuminating analysis of complex stitch patterns and their behaviour.


Checking out the charts in the latest Knitty, I was struck by the charts for Evangelina.

Victorian
Evangelina’s Victorian Stitch Pattern is so clean and pretty. Did its charts have to be so disjointed? In particular, was it really necessary to slip stitches across the beginning-of-rounds marker at the end of round 6 and at the beginning of round 8?

To better understand the stitch pattern, I drew a stitch map for its instep version – that is, the version that features edge stitches, in the form of purls worked at the edges of Evangelina’s instep.

instep-v1

With the stitch pattern’s original red repeat boxes overlaid on top, we can see where the repeat shifts at the beginning of round 7. At that point, markers placed between repeats have to shift one stitch to the left, out of the way of the p2tog on round 7.

But is this the only way to define the pattern’s repeat? Viewing the stitch map again with column guides tracing the stitch columns, it’s possible to visualize a more convenient repeat for the pattern.

instep-v2

Markers placed between these repeats would run between stitch columns, and would never need to shift.

Going a step further and discarding the edge stitches, we come up with an alternate way to work the pattern on Evangelina’s leg.

leg

Voilà! The beginning-of-rounds marker can stay put.

Truthfully? The more I play with stitch maps, the more certain I become that almost all stitch patterns can be worked in the round without ever having to shift the beginning-of-rounds marker. It’s all a matter of paying attention to the stitch columns, and defining the pattern’s repeat in accord with those stitch columns.

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WWW: The Gay Sweater Project; The Skein Minder; If You Were a Yarn…

A clear message, communicated in a fascinating way.

Like all good art, The Gay Sweater Project is unexpected, challenging, and thought-provoking. In a bid to make people think about the the use of the term ‘gay’ as a derogatory descriptor,  advertising agency Saatchi Canada collaborated with the Canadian Center for Gender & Sexual Diversity on a recent project.

In their own words…

The Gay Sweater project teaches us that words like ‘gay’ shouldn’t be used to describe anything negative. Please help the Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity in continuing initiatives like these that work to eliminate bullying, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination in schools and youth communities.

The Gay Sweater is indeed the only gay object in the world, in that it was created from the hair of over 100 people who identify as homosexual. The hair was spun and then knit into a sweater by two Toronto knitters, Amelia Lyon and Brenna MacDonald, at Lettuce Knit.


Oh, I like this: a Kickstarter for a tool called The SkeinMinder to automate yarn winding. It’s targeted at indie dyers, and those who need to wind multiple skeins of yarn in a small production environment. Although this technology exists for large-scale operation, engineer and knitter Carrie Sundra aims to bring the idea to small organizations, in an affordable way.


Also useful: Sally Holt, the developer of KnitCompanion, has just launched Pattern Genius, a charting tool for iPads.


It’s true. You can see everything on the NYC subway.

I have to be honest: I checked the publication date for this one, thinking it might have been April 1st.

An orphaned lamb has been taken in by a foster family in NYC, and has been enjoying life in the big city. Even if it’s not real, the photos are great!


Not news: knitting is good for you. But I do like that formal research studies are being done on the topic of “textile therapy”.


And for your amusement, designer Bristol Ivy poses a fun question on Twitter:

If you click on the time and date in the tweet above, you can see all the fun replies.

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The Stars and Stares Pillow

Have you seen the Stars and Stares eye pillow in our latest issue? One of the reasons I like this pattern for some many reasons: it’s a different way to use knitting, it’s uself, and it provides a great project on which to practice your colourwork skills.

Clever and fun! Just the sort of thing we adore.

The first-time Knitty designer, Ruth Roland, has written a series of blog posts about the design and the process of being published in Knitty.

She writes about the filling options for the eye pillow…  the pros and cons of different materials to create the stuffing, and various options for scent.

She writes about variations of the design….

And the process of being published. I blushed and chuckled about being referred to as “heroic”…

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WWW: Principles of Knitting website; Shetland Knitting Traditions; Lace in Fashion

Author and all-around knitting genius June Hemmons Hiatt has launched her new website, The Principles of Knitting. It’s named after her seminal book. The website contains the story of this masterpiece – about writing the two editions, and the long awful period when it was out of print. (You think I’m exaggerating, don’t you? I’m not. Read my review of the second edition . The website even answers my quibble about the renaming of various techniques – in a very calm and sensible manner.

In addition, Ms Hemmons Hiatt provides a wealth of information about a favourite knitting method of hers: the “supported” method, and the knitting belt. Fascinating stuff.


A must-read.

The Shetland Tourist Board has put the winter 2014 issue of their magazine online, which features extensive coverage of Shetland knitting traditions, and the role of knitting in modern Shetland life. Great stuff! And such beautiful photography.


Knitting as therapy, but in a different way entirely. An interesting story about knitters making things they call “twiddlemuffs” for dementia patients. These are based on the old-fashioned “muff” handwarmers, but designed to provide tactile stimulation and comfort for patients suffering from severe dementia. They have buttons and other items attached, for patients to touch and play with.


File under ‘not strictly knitting but relevant and wonderful anyway‘: a slideshow on the Guardian website, on the history of lace in fashion


Neat: designer Joanne Seiff has just released the second in a series of short-story & knitting pattern combos. A short story and a related pattern – nice idea!

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