Contest Winner

WWW: Winner of movie tickets; The Great Swatch Experiment

The two winners of our giveaway for tickets to see YARN THE MOVIE when it screens in Toronto are Marina and Claudia! We hope you enjoy it!

And I’m posting one article here this week because of how important I think it is. This week, instead of reading me, you should go read this blog post:

Kelbourne Woolens is running The Great Swatch Experiment, and they’ve posted the data from the first swatch.

If you’ve never really understood (or believed) that different knitters can get different results with the same yarn and the same needles – well, prepare to be blown away.

Image from The Kelbourne Woolens blog.

This post provides background on the series and the experiment. This is such an important thing to do!

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.”

WWW: Antique sock knitting machine for sale; donating a year’s worth of knitting; tuques for refugees

The winners of the free passes to the Vogue Knitting Live NYC marketplace are Delia Lamb and Amanda Underwood. We’ll see you there!

A warm Canadian welcome:
“Because in Quebec, the only real enemy is the cold.”

Residents of Quebec are gathering together to make tuques (warm woolly hats) to give to refugees arriving this month in Canada, from Syria. 10,000 refugees are expected in Canada before the end of the month, and winter gear has been one of the key items to be donated. Although eastern Canada is having a mild winter so far, we know that’s not going to last.

And in Whitehorse, where winter has already arrived, another group of knitters is hard at work on hats, too. A local group is sponsoring a refugee family, and they are keen to ensure that they will be well-prepared for the weather that is to greet the new arrivals.

Emma Christiansen of Omaha, Nebraska, once again plans to donate her years’ worth of knitting to those in need. This is her fortieth year of such generosity. For 2015, she’s made 233 hats, 19 pairs of mittens and 13 lap blankets.

A school in New Zealand has yarn-bombed its playground. It’s all part of a term-long program to learn about wool, and students created the woolly decorations themselves. And it wasn’t just the knitting – they washed, spun and dyed the wool themselves!

Found on Craigslist in the San Francisco area: an antique hand-crank sock knitting machine. Even if you’re not in the market for one, it’s absolutely worth a look to see all the elements of this genius device. The photos are great!

File under: what? Man arrested carrying bolt cutters and a knitting pick. “He admitted he did not knit.” Neither does the author of the article, clearly!

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.

WWW: On Being Expensive and Not; UK Wool Week; Craft, Creativity and Activism

The lucky winner of the Laura Nelkin book giveaway is Meg from East Lansing, Michigan. Congrats Meg, we know you’ll love the book!

“Knitting needn’t be expensive” – a nice piece on the Guardian Fashion blog highlighting British wools.

This is a follow-up to a piece on the same blog last week that discussed the Fashion and Textile Museum’s vintage knitwear exhibition. The article made an important point: “knitting wool is no longer the cheaper option”. It is entirely true that at one time, handmade garments were associated with saving money. And it’s also true that you can always find and buy a machine-made garment cheaper than hand-made. But it’s also true wool doesn’t have to be expensive. (Or scratchy or horrible… )

A great discussion to have!

2014-09-29 11.11.12Earlier this week, I was very pleased to see a nice display of woollies in the window of a Canadian clothing chain, Joe Fresh, with a Campaign for Wool sign.

Speaking of the Campaign for Wool, Wool Week is marked this year in the UK October 5th to 12th. Events and festivities are being held all over the UK.

Registration is open for January’s Vogue Knitting Live event in NYC. Kate is teaching – come and take a sock class!

  • DPNs, Magic Loop and 2 Circs: Working in the Round bootcamp
  • Going My Way: Work Socks the Way You want
  • Heels and Toes
  • Introduction to Sock Pattern Design
  • Toe Up Socks 101
  • Socks for Absolute Beginners

If you’re in Southern Ontario, plan a visit to Toronto’s Textile Museum, Tuesday October 14th. Our own Amy will be moderating a panel and book launch event, featuring three books by leading voices in the crafting world: Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles by Leanne Prain, Craftivism by Betsy Greer, and Make it Mighty Ugly by Kim Werker.
The event – “Make Your Voice Heard: The Intersection of Craft, Creativity and Activism” – aims to explore the modern uses and meaning of craft. It promises to be fascinating.

WWW: Sheep Trekking, Lamb Races and Fall Fiber Fairs

Marisa from Minneapolis is our winner of the Mrs Crosby/Grantangle giveaway. Congrats to Marisa!

UK Magazine is sponsoring the 2014 British Knitting Awards: a nice opportunity to promote the craft of knitting, and some of the key players in the industry, small and large. Categories include yarns brands, shops, blogs, and books.

Image courtesy The Guardian.

A Walk on the Wool Side. A farm in Wales has announced a new option for those who like a nice walk: sheep trekking. Visitors roam a nearby national park with “specially trained” Jacob sheep.

They’ve thought of everything: the sheep guides will be fitted with a “harness that can carry a light lunch”.

The video is a winner: bonus adorable puppy!

And on this side of the Atlantic, the Mississipi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte, Ontario has announced the details of this year’s Fibrefest. High on the list of must-see events is a Lamb Race, rather sensibly not feature real lambs, but toy ones.

The event, held September 13 & 14th, features all kinds of fibery goodness, including demonstrations spinning, knitting, weaving, rug hooking, lacemaking, smocking and quilting; a vendor fair, and a vintage clothing show and sale. Their “Button Mania” event sounds amazing, with displays of WWI-era military and fashion buttons, and button vendors.

Also that same weekend, September 13th, it’s the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Guild Fair. It’s the second year of the even being held in its new home, the Kitchener Aud, and it promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Needle manufacturer DyakCraft posted on their Facebook group about a devastating fire at one of their suppliers, Rutland Plywood. Their post highlights the importance of small suppliers on artisan craftspeople and their businesses. We often think of an artisan and their work, but not their suppliers.


Clever: yarn company Quince has just launched an app that allows users to search for Quince yarns by gauge.

WWW: Stories Winner, The Sweater Curse, Colors Before Pantone and An Abandoned Mill

It’s Jillian filling in for Kate while she teaches at the Interweave Knitting Lab.

Our winner of all three volumes of Donna Druchunas’ Stories in Stitches is Kristen from Elkins Arkansas. Congratulations!

Stories in Stitches No 3 , hot off of the press!
Stories in Stitches No 3 , hot off of the press!


Will you be in Dallas in May or Edinburgh in August? Grab your knitting and go see The Sweater Curse: A Play by Elaine Liner.

The Sweater Curse
The Sweater Curse

The one-hour monologue explains the old wives’ tale about “the sweater curse,” which says never to knit for lovers, as he or she will leave before the project is finished. Elaine weaves in tales of her own unraveled romances and unfinished sweaters, with detours into great literary knitters like Penelope and Madame DeFarge. She knits onstage and invites the audience to bring their own projects and keep stitching during the play (“a plus for knitters who usually avoid theater because it means two hours without needles in their hands,” says Elaine).

The show runs May 15-25 at the Dallas Solo Festival and August 1-24 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.


 Before there was Pantone, artists created their own color books.

The art of color
The art of color

This 898-page watercolor mixing manual from 1692 has been all of the internet this week. If you haven’t been inspired by this meticulous and beautiful work, go take a peek. Book historian Erik Kwakkel has been posting pages on his Tumblr and the whole book and be seen here.


Photographer Dan Circa found inspiration in an abandoned Welsh tweed mill.

Photo by Dan Circa
Photo by Dan Circa

The mill has stood unused since 1980, with all of the machinery and yarn left in place.


WWW: Yellow Submarines & British Socks

The very lucky winner of the Offhand bag giveway is Irene M of Staten Island, NY. Enjoy the bag!

On designer/historian Kate Davies’ lovely blog, “A Brief History of British Socks“. If you knit – or heck, wear! – socks, this is a fascinating read.

Well-equipped for an Antarctic voyage. This would also be useful for dog walking in a Polar Vortext.

Speaking of history, love this: Artlab Australia, the South Australian Museum and the Adelaide City Council have just launched the ‘Sir Douglas Mawson Balaclava Knitting Pattern.

Scientist and adventurer Douglas Mawson’s is well-known in Australia for this epic adventures in the Antarctic in the early 20th Century. His ongoing contribution to science in South Australia have ensured his place in the history books. There is an iconic image of Mawson wearing a knitted balaclava, and it was used on the first Australian $100 note. The original balaclava is now part of the collection of the South Australian Museum. It’s hand-knit….

and is clearly a one-off, hand knitted from a variety of different colours of grey and blue flecked wools, the crown even featuring a small amount of pink mixed. The stripes are random and without pattern – such as you might expect if you were using up scraps from your wool bag – and although it follows the general shape of many of the balaclava patterns available before WWII the ribbing is an unusual 7 stitches wide.

The Holbrook submarine, HMS Otway. Can’t wait to see it all dressed up.

And to celebrate two historical milestones – the 100th year of submarines in Australia and the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles’ visit down under – the Murray Arts Centre in Holbrook, New South Wales, Australia is yarnbombing a submarine. In yellow. Of course.

And then just went you thought it couldn’t get any better, the article explains that when the yarnbombing is taken down, the pieces are going to be donated to a local dog shelter to be used for dog blankets.

Terrific eye-candy: online vintage shopping site has listed some 1930s vintage knitting pattern booklets for sale. Whether you’re shopping or not, the photos are excellent.

Lovely little illustrated story about an intrepid girl and the sweater her aunt knits for her.

WWW: Spring Festivals, 22,000 Yellow Jerseys, Knitted Wallpaper

The winner of our Lace Contest is Karen from Bangor, Pennsylvania. Thanks to Brooke Niko and Lark Crafts, Hiya Hiya, and Black Bunny Fibers for the generous prize.

Just wonderful.

Last week I mentioned the campaign in Cambridge to collect knitting to decorate the town for the UK stages of the Tour De France this summer. The Guardian has a lovely piece about the enormously successful campaign in Harrogate, Yorkshire, that kicked off the entire thing. Last summer, the Harrogate town council invited members of the public to send in hand-knitted mini replicas of cycling jerseys. The mini jerseys will be strung up as bunting around the town to celebrate the arrival of the Tour De France. They have received over 22,000, “rather more than anticipated”, with contributions from Switzerland, Canada and Bermuda.

How good is this?

On the Spoonflower blog, fantastic knitted wallpaper, in the studio of the Brooklyn Craft Company.

The spring fiber festivals are starting up… first up is this weekend’s Dallas Forth Worth Fiber Festival, being held at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.

The Carolina Fiber Fest is held April 4-6 in Sandford, North Carolina.

That same weekend, it’s YarnCon, describing itself as Chicago’s Indie Fiber Fair.

April 10-13 is the Shepherd’s Extravanganza at the Washington State Fairgrounds.

Toronto’s Downtown Knit Collective annual Knitter’s Frolic takes place the weekend of April 26 & 27th. (And I’m teaching!)

As always, check the calendar on the Knitter’s Review website for a more detailed listing of fibery events.

Speaking of shepherds and sheepy festivals, the shepherd of the wonderful twitter account @herdyshepherd1 has kicked off an indiegogo campaign to secure funding to support the historic Borrowdale Sheep Show.

In their own words

Borrowdale Show is one of the traditional sheep shows and shepherds meets that take place each autumn in the Lake District, in the North of England. It is a gathering of shepherds and their best sheep, half competitive, showing to prove the worth of their flocks, and half a social occasion and cultural event. It is a scene to behold with more than 250 Herdwick sheep judged in one day, coloured with the traditional Herdwick Show Red and shown with great pride by their shepherds.

The show is run entirely by volunteers from the local community. But they have experienced several years of awful luck with the weather and have now limited cash reserves to pay for insurance and other necessities, and because of this the future of this timeless show is in the balance.

The campaign, launched last week, has done much better than expected, and has more than met its goal. I’m writing about it because I think it’s a truly wonderful initiative, and I want to publicize the event and thank those who were kind enough to contribute.

Image from the @HerdyShepherd1 twitter account, with thanks.

And whether you contribute or not, whether you want to attend a sheep show or not, if you’re not aware of the Twitter account, go take a look. The photos of sheep, and the farm, and the sheep dogs (#teamfloss) are magnificent. I’ve also learned a lot from their tweets, about sheep, about sheepdogs, about the challenges of joys of running a farm.

A nice piece on CNN about the cognitive and emotional benefits of knitting to relieve stress, to bring joy, and to fight depression and the effects of aging. Not news to most of us, I’m sure, but it’s always good to see mention in the press. (Especially those without the usual “not your grandmother” tropes.)

The article reports that in one study of more than 3,500 knitters, published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81% of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting. More than half reported feeling “very happy.”

Not that we needed any justification for our craft, but it’s great to know that it really is good for us.

WWW: Knitted Lamps, Peak Knitting Experience, Disagreement about New Year’s Resolution

The winner of our Wraptor yarn pack giveaway is Chelsea, from St. Paul, MN. Thanks to Twisted Fiber Arts for the prize.

Love this. Imagine the beautiful shadows.

More knitting in home decor: a knitted fabric is used as the basis for a lamp construction…

Did anyone catch the QI Christmas episode last week? Kingston University student Imogen Hedges made an appearance with her bicycle-powered ‘unknitting machine‘. Stephen Fry clearly doesn’t knit, or know any knitters, as he seemed more amazed by the unravelling than we might expect…

An excellent question posed on the Fringe Association blog: what’s your peak knitting experience? To quote from the blog post: Maybe it’s pulling off something you didn’t think you were capable of. Maybe it’s the anticipation of a gift recipient’s response. Or maybe it’s making a thing that proves to be endlessly comforting or useful to you or a loved one. Loving the replies in the comments.

Harumph: The USA TODAY thinks that knitting more tree sweaters is a “weird” New Year’s Resolution. I think it’s a lovely idea.

A great British knitter.

A nice profile of four knitters from the UKL Hazel Tindall, the world’s fastest knitter, designer Louise Walker, creative cafe owner Peter Allison, and teacher Louise Wilke, who is using knitting to help her cope with a serious illness…. It’s great to see the broad variety of knitters being represented, without resorting to old stereotypes.

I hope that when I’m 100 I’m still doing such beautiful and detailed work.

Haven’t the faintest idea what a Dumbo Rat is, but the picture is a win.