Jill Draper’s Studio Shindig at Rhinebeck!

Rhinebeck is this week!!! Are you done with your sweater?

The years that I am lucky enough to go to Rhinebeck one of my first stops is always Jennie the Potter’s booth that she shares with Jill Draper.

I have many mugs by Jennie in my cabinet, they are even a unit of measure in my house, “How much chocolate milk do you want?” “Jennie the Potter size!”.

I have lots of smaller skeins of Jill Draper’s yarns, I love it. As a knitter, as a spinner, her yarns are so well done, from the initial fiber, to the spin and ply, to the gorgeous colors. I have been circling those huge skeins of Empire for a couple of years now, but have yet to buy one.

If you are looking for Jennie this year at Rhinebeck she’ll be in the same spot as usual and this year her booth guest star is Kim of Indigo Dragonfly for excellent shopping.

Where is Jill Draper you might ask? She now has her own studio across the river from Rhinebeck, and she’s having a party!

Jill Draper is having a party!

Jill Draper is having a party!

Everyone is invited, but she does ask that you RSVP, so she know what to expect.

She’ll have refreshments and lots of yarn, including the elusive huge skeins of Empire and Rifton, her new yarn for 2015.



Rifton was released originally in January. This Autumn Jill’s added Spring & Summer to the existing colors, Autumn & Winter.  She says it feels great to have each season represented & she’s thrilled to share the new colors which will be available online at www.jilldraper.com on 10/17 for anyone not able to make it to the open studio.  Rifton is 600yds of smooshy soft Merino wool, weighing in just over 6oz so plenty for a shawl! Jill dyes the fiber in the wool before having the yarn spun for her at Green Mountain Spinnery in VT.

So go visit Jill, buy some yarn, but don’t buy all of the Empire, I might need some.

Wooly love!

Wooly love!


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WWW: Sometimes baa is baa….

Balls of yarn

Who taught you how to knit?  When I read stories such as those from this knitter or this crocheter, I imagine their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren reading and cherishing same.  I was lucky enough to catch a snippet in my family history about a great aunt using her spinning wheel to ignite a stove fire — the equivalent of a party trick for rural living in the 19th century!  I imagine someone sharing the story in a stitching group or writing about it for a book.   Stories such as these are as important to the history of fiber arts as the craft itself, and the stories are meant to be preserved and cherished.   Jot your story down, stash it in the bottom of a knitting bag, in a special knitting book, or in the comments below.  It’s what we’re supposed to do.


The world in miniature is trending, and check out what they’ve done in Castle Vale!  I wish I could jump in there and play.  Just think about this for a minute, and I offer no apologies for mentioning this either.


21 things you only know if you knit had me stitches (the crowd groans).   Go ahead, make your own list.  Mine has about 45 items on it.


Sometimes baa is baa….

They’re are adorable. They are compelling.  Knitters on the interwebs are nuts about sheep, and the shepherds are happy to oblige us. We’re fascinated by their adventures, and some of us live vicariously through their exploits.  From Kentucky, the lake district of EnglandYorkshireIreland and places you never imagined, shepherds are everywhere.  I like the salty, seasoned shepherds and fall head over heels for the romantic leaders of woolly flocks.  Find a blog, read an article and follow a shepherd on social media.  This fantasy farm girl has learned a lot reading about the lives of shepherds and the sheep we love.

Sheep are amazing, but sometimes baa is baa!

Singing and knitting,


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Obsession Thursday: the iconic NYC black+white cookie

Thanks to elkie465 for the picture of what looks to have been a delicious specimen.

Thanks to elkie456 for the picture of what looks to have been a delicious specimen.

My sister looked at me like I was nuts for being excited to find a black+white cookie at Max’s Deli in Highland Park, Il. “It’s just a sugar cookie,” she said. “Why are you so excited?”

I used to think the same thing. A big cookie, iced half in black and half in white. What is all the fuss about?

People, it is not what you think. The black+white cookie is not just a New York City specialty, it’s magical.

First of all, when authentically made, that cookie is not a sugar cookie. Ha! It’s a beautifully firm-yet-soft lemony sponge. It’s more like cake than cookie, but it’s firm enough to hold itself together. It’s light but satisfying, sweet but not overly so. Then there’s the icing. It’s crisp and snaps when you break the cookie. It’s, I’ve since learned, made with water, not milk or butter or cream. The texture of that thick layer of brittle icing on top of that soft, tart cookie is what makes this a magical experience.

Who invented this cookie is not certain. This article from the New York Times, circa Seinfeld in first run (when Jerry urged us all to “Look to the cookie” when dealing with the complex issue of race) suggests that it’s more than 100 years old. (That same article offers a recipe. You’re welcome.)

My first b+w was purchased at an unremarkable Manhattan bodega, wrapped in plastic wrap. I bought two, just because one never knows if this will be the best thing ever. Besides, how bad could any cookie be?

I opened it on a bus to upstate NY and took a bite and was instantly mad at myself for not buying a dozen. They were wonderful.

Our own Kate Atherley and her husband, Norman, love these things too, so when I found black+white cookies at the kosher Sobey’s (a big Ontario grocery chain) in Thornhill two nights ago, I almost drove a box directly to them. But, as we all learned the next day upon delivery, they’re…okay. There’s a bit of a snap, and a hint of the lemon, but they’re not quite right. Flip over the box, and the reason was revealed: Made in New Jersey. 

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Test is on NOW! (ETA: 7:40pm — test is over)

TEST TIME! Everyone + their budgie, please click the link below. The follow links around for a while within the site:


Pretend it’s new-issue day!

Update at 7:07 pm: Please follow me here: http://twitter.com/knittydotcom — I’m posting updates as we have them. This is all good…the fact that it choked is just information. Our SysAdmin is going to tweak things so it won’t do that, but it may be a bit of a process to get there. Your help is appreciated!

Update at 7:40 pm: TEST IS NOW OVER! THANK YOU!

We learned a lot from the problems you all experienced, and so SysAdmin Chris will be doing some adjusting and tweaking and we’ll run another test shortly — probably this weekend.

Thank you for taking time out of your evening to help us make the new server everything we all want it to be! You’re all awesome!


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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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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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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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Jillian’s Spinning: Handspun Needed for Art Installation


Some of my extra handspun.

Some of my extra handspun.

Do you have a little handspun yarn to contribute to a community art project?

You may have read or heard about Jo Israelson community weaving project Welcoming the Stranger in Portland Maine.  She’s hoping to collect 30,000  42″ long handspun yarns from around the world by the end of April. Her official press release is below.

Welcoming the Stranger: Building Understanding Through Community Based Art is a site-specific artwork. As part of the installation, volunteer weavers and community participants will create a 50’ x 10’ weaving. City-wide weaving events will take place at locations throughout Portland, Maine from May 1 to June 15, 2015. This community weaving – “Abraham’s Tent” – will then be exhibited at the Maine Jewish Museum.

I am seeking donations of 42” lengths of hand spun yarn – any gauge, any color, something meaningful to you. Non-traditional fiber materials will be accepted. Your yarn and a tag with your family’s country of origin will be “woven” into the panels in “Abraham’s Tent.”

When: February 14 – April 30, 2015
What:  Yarn –  42” lengths of hand spun yarn –  any gauge, any color, non traditional materials accepted. Other yarn also accepted but prefer wool.

Please include your name, email address and your family’s country of origin.

$1.00 bill or check made to Welcoming the Stranger Fund a 501 (c)(3). Funds will used to defray costs of processing yarn and name tags.

Mail to:
Welcoming the Stranger Art
PO Box 10419
Portland Maine 04104

For more information see Jo’s website or email her at welcomingthestrangerart@gmail.com

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Jillian’s Spinning: My Best Spinning Habit

Last week I talked about my worst spinning habit, the thing that drives me crazy about my spinning self. This week let’s talk about the good.

Cart of samples.

Cart of samples.

My best spinning habit is experimenting, sampling, playing. I could spend all of my spinning time following the ‘what ifs’ that pop up in my head. I have piles and boxes and baskets of samples, some of them becomes articles for Knittyspin, PLY or Spin Off, some become classes, some just stay little piles of fun. That picture above? Each box, bag and basket is crammed with samples. The picture below? That’s one box full of plying experiments with variegated yarn. These experiments are a big reason why I need to break my worst habit of not labeling things, ” exactly what are these four tiny skeins and swatches?”. I love figuring out the things fiber and yarn can do, that even the smallest variation can make a big change. I hope I never get sick of experimenting!

What’s your best spinning habit?

Plying samples.

Variegated plying samples.



My friend Carla of cjkoho Designs started a Kickstarter to build a bigger studio, to dye and to teach. I have used her fiber and yarn for years and she does beautiful work. Take a look and contribute if you are interested, and if not, help spread the word. We need more beautiful fiber and yarn!

cjkoho Designs fiber

cjkoho Designs fiber

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A big anniversary!

Isn’t it funny how time passes online? We launched in 2002, and just 3 years later, the immensely clever Tina Newton (one of my favorite people) launched her Rockin’ Sock Club with her company, Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Tina is the woman that invented Socks that Rock. The yarn that has caused more hours-long lineups at Maryland and Rhinebeck than (possibly) any other. It’s pretty gorgeous stuff.

Holy cow, look at all the cool stuff you get!

Holy cow, look at all the cool stuff you get! And that doesn’t even include the yarn!

So yeah, back to the anniversary thing. 10 years. TEN YEARS, people! This is huge. To celebrate, the 10th Anniversary Rockin’ Sock Club is going all out this year! Members get a kit every other month, and you can read all about what’s in that magical package here. One of the things that caught my eye was the special bag Tina has commissioned from Queen Bee Creations — it’s an optional add-on to the Club, and as someone who is a proud bag ho™, there’s no way I’d miss out on that.

Here’s something I really liked reading on the site about the club — this note on the FAQ page. “Note: Before purchasing, please take a minute to consider very carefully about whether or not a Sock Club that chooses the yarn, pattern, and color is right for you. We promise to challenge your color boundaries and expand your sock knitting horizons.

I love how beautifully honest this is. Be prepared to relinquish control and wonderful things will find their way to your mailbox every two months. It sounds pretty good to me.

To find out more about the Rockin’ Sock Club and sign up for the special 10th Anniversary edition, visit the Blue Moon Fiber Arts website.

Editor’s note: We’re not being paid to write this blog post, and we’re not getting free kits, either. We just love Tina and what she’s created at Blue Moon, and want to share the news about her Club with our readers. That’s one of the cool things about running your own magazine. We get to do stuff like this for good people who make good products.

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