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WWW: Advice, sensible and otherwise; Pink Hats; This is Your Brain on Knitting

Some people are making pink hats to wear later this month. 


Sensible: an advice columnist – a knitter herself – provides advice to the non-knitters who might wish to ask a friend to make a sweater for them: “Don’t risk friendship over a sweater.


I’m in two minds about pieces like this: “How to Wear Chunky Knits“, courtesy of an online style magazine. I mean, the first thought that leaps to mind when I see a headline like that is “heck, it’s January – just slip it on over a tshirt and be warm.” But then after the snark, I will always click through: I enjoy a good fashion spread, and so look with interest on how stylists propose wearing these key items of winter gear. And then, in this sort of case, I get the additional value of a chuckle at the idea of an open-shouldered chunky sweater. (Yes, really! Go look!) Given that I live in Canada, I categorize these items along with with open-toed boots: fashion developed by people who have apparently never actually been outside….


Love this: a fabulous episode of VeryPink Knitting podcast, in which Casey talks with psychologist Dr. Art Markman about about your brain on knitting – process vs. project knitters, multi-task knitting, and other topics.

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Looking forward to 2017: Kate and Jillian on the road

soxpertiseKate’s Teaching Schedule for the first part of 2017

January 25-27 – InTown Quilters, Decatur, Georgia
Introduction to Design, Continental Knitting, Best Methods/Expert Tips, Yarn Shopping Bootcamp, Soxpertise, Altering Patterns

Feb 26 & 27th – Sheep Shop, Cambridge UK
Introduction to Gloves, Two Socks at Once: The War & Peace Method, Introduction to Design

March 1 – Knit With Attitude, Stoke Newington, UK
Class TBA

March 4 & 5 – Purlescence, Leckhampstead, UK
Intro to Brioche, Advanced Brioche; -You do the maths” – a study in numbers and knitting patterns

March 9 – 12 – Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland
Classes sold, out, sorry, but I will be doing a book signing or two at the Purlescence booth.

March 17-19 – Madison Knitter’s Guild Knit-In, Madison, WI

March 30 – April 3 – Interweave Yarn Fest, Loveland, CO
Pi Shawl, Two Socks at Once: Side by Side, Fiber Care & Blocking, Math for Knitters, 2 Socks at Once: War & Peace, Pattern Writing, Custom Fit Socks

April 7-9 – Make Wear Love Spring Retreat, Pacific Grove, CA
Fearless Finishing, Pattern Reading, Working with Handpainted Yarns

 

Spinning with Jillian means color!

Spinning with Jillian means color!

Jillian’s Teaching Schedule for Most of 2017

January 20-22 – Loop! Philadelphia, PA
Book Signing, Yarnitecture, Twist and Ply and 12 Ways to Spin Variegated Yarns

February 16-February 19 – Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat- Tacoma , WA
Yarnitecture #2: The Journey Continues: Sampling and Spinning for a Specific Project – Exclusive to Madrona for 2017
Twist and Ply #2: Texture and Color- new for 2017
All the Singles Ladies: Spin and Knit Sensational Singles – new for 2017

March 30 – April 3 – Interweave Yarn Fest, Loveland, CO
Yarnitecture, Twist and Ply 2: Texture and Color – new for 2017, Fractal Frolic, Cheaper by the Dozen: 12 Ways to Spin Variegated Top

April 26-29 – PLY Away 2 – Kansas City, MO
Yarnitecture – 2 days!
Kaleidoscope Yarns: Color and Singles – new for 2017
Sheep Sampler: Spin & Nosh – new for 2017

July 19-23 – Super Summer Knitogether – Nashville, TN
Classes to be announced

September 29-October 1 – WEBS Spinning Summit
Classes to be announced

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WWW: Bristol’s Colours, Village-sized Yarn-bomb, Use Your Noodle

The winner of our Obliqua kit giveaway is Candi from Pennsylvania. We wish you happy knitting!


Ooh! Very exciting! The Yarn Collective has just announced a new line of yarns: Pembroke Worsted, in colourways designed by Knitty designer Bristol Ivy.  There are ten colors, described in Bristol’s own words:

“My whole collection is based on the rich, pure tones of gems and minerals. I’ve always loved these colors and their depth, complexity, and saturation. I think since they’re all based on naturally occurring colors, they all speak well to each other and come together into a coherent palette. I’m so excited to explore them further: the icy grey-greens, the deep copper oranges, the vivid coral-y carnelians, the soft neutral greys and sepias — all of them.”


Photo credit: Mayo Martin, from the Channel News Asia website.

Photo credit: Mayo Martin, from the Channel News Asia website.

I am willing to excuse the terrible pun – “noodlework” – in this story. Indonesian artist Cynthia Delaney Suwito has had a rather wonderful piece included in a show organized by the Visual Arts Development Association of Singapore… a fabric knitted from cooked instant noodles. It’s a statement about speed of life and gratification: knitting with cooked noodles is even slower than knitting with yarn, and highlights the contrast between the instant-readiness of the noodles with the slow and careful nature of handwork. She works on the fabric as part of the exhibition, treating with care and thoughtfulness a product that normally is prepared and consumed thoughtlessly, in moments.


Epic yarn-bombing: an entire village, Llwyngwril, in beautiful Wales. Click through for some fantastic images.

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Early Winter Issue WIPs: The Frantic Gift Knitting Edition

It’s always fun to check in on an issue’s patterns, particularly so soon after launch. It tells me which patterns are catching on – and indeed, at this time of year, which ones are gifting-appropriate.

Love this Werewolf of Westport Hat, by EmmaE.

This photo shows off the construction brilliantly!

This photo shows off the construction brilliantly!

And ChaoticK’s is equally amazing, in a totally different way! This would be ideal for the dreariest days of winter!

Fantastically and ridiculously vibrant, in the best possible way.

Fantastically and ridiculously vibrant, in the best possible way.

PelicanGoddess’s Snowberry scarf is a winner. A statement in coziness!

Perfect.

Perfect.

HilaryO’s Obliqua cowl is coming along very nicely.

Beautiful colour choice: reminds me of roses.

And Zsazsazsu is making excellent progress on her Duvet mittens.

Are you doing any gift knitting this year?

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WWW: Knitted chairs, baby rhinos in blankets and the TCM Knitting Club

IKEA launches a knitted chair. It’s hard to tell precisely what the fabric looks like from the photos, but I’m rather amused by the thought that I could have a knitted chair for knitting in.


And this week’s adorable-baby-animal-wrapped-in-handknits is a Rhino!

Although this horse is pretty fetching in his new blanket, too.


As the skies darken and the weather turns grim in the northern hemisphere, I find I’m rather excited about the announcement of Pantone’s colour of the year for 2017: Greenery!


Loved hearing some knitters on this BBC Radio program. It’s a series called The Chain, on the long-running Woman’s Hour program. Women are interviewed, talking about themselves, their work and their inspirations, and nominate the next woman to be interview, specifically a woman who has inspired their success.  Both Kate Davies and Felicity Ford appear, and talk about their yarny careers and work.


Love this: the TCM Knitting Club. I’ve enjoyed following The Nitrate Diva on Twitter for some time. She’s a lover of vintage movies, with an eye for an excellent photo, and a sharp wit. I was excited this week to learn of her new newsletter, highlighting classic movie-themed knits, knitting related anecdotes, and generally yarny fun. What’s not to love?

I rather enjoyed this, part of a meme that’s making its way around social media at the moment.

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The Wool Cycle

I moved house in the summer, and got myself a brand-new fancy-modern super-duper Samsung washing machine. It’s got all sorts of wonderful features and functions, including this rather interesting cycle, labelled simply “Wool”.

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Intriguing…

Now, I’m a huge proponent of washing woolies – yes, even those that aren’t superwash! – and having had front-loaders for years, I’ve never been afraid of using the washer’s spin cycle, but I must confess I was a bit nervous about a full machine wash for my more important handknits. And having consulted the manual, I got a bit worried: the manual states that the cycle is only for woolies that are labelled as machine washable.

(The spin cycle on a front loading washing machine and on many of the newer top-loaders, the ones that don’t have a central agitator, is actually very gentle on your garments. The spin cycle relies on centrifugal forces to fling your items against the side of the drum and leave it there, while the water spins away. After a soak, my handwash loads get thrown in the machine for a spin. Yes, even the most delicate of my knits and other handwash pieces – lingerie, and the like. When I was shopping for a new machine, the presence of a spin-only cycle was critical to me, I won’t buy a washing machine that doesn’t let me do that.)

I’ve been promising to try it the wool cycle for months, but had been avoiding it. I’m working on a big writing task right now, and in my keenness to find a distraction, I decided that today was the day. Rather than start with a precious hand-knit sweater, I decided to do a trial load: I threw in some wooly tights (store bought, low wool-content, marked machine washable), a store-bought wool and alpaca blend sweater, clearly labelled hand wash only, a pair of alpaca-blend handknit socks in a yarn that is marked superwash, but I know doesn’t do well in the machine, and a handknit swatch in a yarn I know that felts.

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My ‘volunteers’.

My resolve only wavered once, when I looked at the settings of the cycle: a warm wash, spin set to ‘low’, for a full hour.

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Okaaaaaay….

I threw everything in, with a cold-wash detergent. (Honestly, if these were my best hand-knits, I would use a wool wash. I’m a big fan of Soak.)

I loaded up the machine, turned the dial, crossed my fingers, and pressed go. I got no work done over that hour, as I kept wandering to my laundry room to have a look. The door is opaque, so I wasn’t able to actually see what was going on, but I looked at how the machine was moving, and I listened. According to the Samsung website, what distinguishes the wool cycle is that the drum only moves “horizontally”. Remember, it’s not actually the presence of water that causes felting – it is agitation or friction. (Although a temperature shock can also cause a bit of felting, it’s really not the key factor.) It seemed clear from the noises the machine was – or more to the point, wasn’t – making that there is essentially no rotation, and therefore no opportunity for the garment to experience any  friction.

An hour later, the washer sang its little end-of-cycle notification song – a musician friend tells me that it’s Schubert – and I rushed downstairs. I must confess I hesitated a little before I opened the door.

But I really needn’t have been worried: everything came out clean and wonderful, unfelted and undisturbed. Everything was fluffy and soft and nice.

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Fab!

I will definitely be doing that again! I will note that when I talked a bit about this on Twitter, a couple of people reported less happy experiences. It seems like there’s a load size limit – the larger the load, the larger the pieces, the higher the risk of felting. That does make sense, since a tub full of wool will have more opportunity to experience friction. And some machines are probably more gentle than others. If you’ve not used it before, I’d recommend experimenting with swatches and perhaps a store-bought sweater or two before you put your favourite handknits in.

Does your machine have a wool or hand-wash cycle? Have you tried it?

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WWW: City of Craft, STEELwool commemoration, “Abominaball Snowman”

Steelworkers at the University of Toronto, experienced knitters and beginners together, have contributed to an installation, STEELwool, in recognition of Bill 132, a program against workplace violence and sexual harrassment. 132 scarves were displayed yesterday at all three of the University’s campuses. The date of the installation, December 6th, was chosen specifically: it marks the anniversary of the event known as ‘The Montreal Massacre‘, a shooting at the University of Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, in which 14 women were died, targeted specifically because of their gender.


If you’re in the Toronto area, this weekend’s City of Craft show is definitely worth a visit. A celebration of all things handmade, the event runs all weekend, and features 60 vendors, representing some of the best makers from our region. There are also workshops and installations.

City of Craft is a collective of craft-engaged arts organizers who aim to build community in the Toronto craftscape, support independent craft businesses, and encourage the larger community to get involved with crafty happenings in the city. We organize Toronto’s largest independently-run, juried craft show each December featuring craft-based installations, free workshops, and craft-related programming in local businesses and galleries, attracting approximately 4,000 attendees.


Love this! It’s pretty saucy, full of terrible puns and cheeky language… definitely NSFW for innuendo and woolly nudity… Make sure your sense of humor is fully operational, and maybe put headphones on?  The “Nudiknits” winter film: The Abonimaball Snowman. 


Some women are going for a walk in Washington this coming January. They might need hats.

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WWW: Hexagonal Needles, Scarves in the Park, How Much is Lifetime’s Worth of Sock Yarn?

The makers behind the needles.

You might not be familiar with the hexagonal needles made by Indian Lake Artisans. They’re a beautiful product, made in the US – and it was all inspired by an experimental attempt a knitting with pencils.


I’ve seen a number of initiatives like this pop up in recent years, and I think it’s an excellent idea: leaving scarves and other winter accessories in public parks, where those in need might find them. This CNN piece highlights one such project, in Manchester, New Hampshire.


The Centre for Art Tapes, in Halifax, NS, is a not for profit artist-run, charitable, organization that facilitates and supports artists at all levels working with electronic media including video, audio, and new media. Their latest artist in residence is Merle Harley, who explores the parallels between codes, algorithms, and systems within electronics, and knitting and weaving patterns.


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How long would it take to work through this?

Notification of this contest arrived in our mailbox with the subject line: ‘Important Cause: Win Socks for Life’. I wasn’t sure, at first, if the organization in question was giving away actual socks, but upon further investigation, I discovered that YarnCanada is giving away “a lifetime’s worth of sock yarn” . This, of course, begs a discussion about the average sock knitter’s production. The prize includes 123 skeins of sock yarn, a variety of fibers and weights. How long would it take you to use that up?


Opinions on arm-knitting are divided, but I do love the speed with which you can create an apparently highly fashionable giant blanket. I find the gif of the designer working on her project really quite soothing.

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WWW: Knitting as a Political Act, The Sock Machine, Fashion Inspiration

I really enjoyed this profile of Karida Collins, the owner of Neighborhood Fiber Co. Karida is clear-headed and honest about the challenges of running a “creative” business.


Just in time for your holiday gift list… a lovely new coffee table book, “People Knitting: A Century of Photographs”. Lots of wonderful pictures at the link.


Photo courtesy CBC. Undated image from late 19th/early 20th century documenting a sock machine in action.

“How a Sock Machine Helped Win the First World War”. These sock machines were a marvel of modern technology at the start of the 20th century, and they played a remarkable role in supporting armed forces in both of the World Wars.


Knitty columnist and knitting historian Donna Druchunas blogs about the role of knitting in protest, knitting as a Political act. Important.


Eye candy? Design inspiration? Ideas for your next project? Whatever, it’s just nice to see a handsome man in a handsome sweater. GQ Magazine offers up a list of 10 chunky sweaters they have deemed fashionable for this winter. Sadly more sweaters than men, but still very nice to look at.

And Vogue Magazine offers up some suggestions for styling knits for winters. I’m not ever going to be able to afford to buy anything they suggest (although holy cow if I win the lottery I’m absolutely getting myself some of those cashmere leggings), but I love these fashion spreads for ideas and inspiration!


I think this is wonderful. If you’re out and about in cold weather, keep an a couple of pairs of warm socks with you, and hand them out to those in need.

They don’t have to be handknits, of course. Any socks are better than no socks.

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WWW: On Solace and Symbols

Craft as Solace.  “Beauty is not trivial. Connection is not trivial. It inspires us and lights us up. And when we are alive we can’t help but find hope.” Yes.

On a similar note: On the handknit scarf as symbol.


There was a fuss last week in the UK when news broke that department store John Lewis was planning to reduce their haberdashery (I do so love that word!) offerings. They’ve since reversed that decision, and this piece explains very nicely the value of this corner of the shop, “A trip to John Lewis’s haberdashery department is a journey into the centre of a Venn diagram of properly nerdy interests and interests which are culturally associated with women.”


Amazing: a knitter from Baltimore, who has been knitting for 17 years, has made 92 sweaters. More extraordinarily than that fact alone is that each is a unique creation, designed by the knitter, depicting a place in the world. “As an avid traveler with a satiable wanderlust, he knits sweaters that represent both his excursions and the places he dreams of traveling to.”


The Inclusive LYS program. Fly the flag.


Not specifically knitting, but still wonderful. An acquaintance of mine, Dai of Toronto, who has an excellent eye, has recently been to Iceland. Her Instagram feed is a wealth of delights, beautiful images of this most beautiful country.

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