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Obsession Thursday: Pawley Studios’ yummy MUGS

I am a fan of handmade things. That should not be a surprise, considering. You know?

I love glass. And I love pottery. I’ve seen Pawley Studios’ mugs around at shows, and I wanted some for Knitty.

And now we have them. To celebrate our 15th anniversary, Amanda Pawley has created this gorgeousness for us:

Just 3 of the gorgeous colors Pawley Studios offers

So who is this Amanda Pawley person? In her own words:

“I’ve been making pots for 14 years.  I took my first class in 2003, and I’ve been working in clay ever since.  After college I worked with another full time potter in Florida for two years, which is where I learned more of the business side of being an artist.  My husband and I have had our own studio in Kentucky for 10 years, and we both work at the studio full time.
My favorite part of the process is throwing pieces on the wheel.  It is very relaxing!   It is extremely easy to get caught up in the process and lose track of time, very similar to knitting and crocheting.  I love making functional ware, making beautiful pieces that also have a purpose.  I believe handmade crafts stimulate an emotional connection with the user. I am happiest when people enjoy using one of my pots.

All of my clay and glazes are food, dishwasher, microwave and oven safe.  I stream every day live from my studio.  I can teach others about the ceramic process, and streaming allows customers to watch their order being made in real time.”

Pawley Studios is a cat-friendly zone

 

Attaching a handle to a mug

 

Glazing a mug destined for the hands of our Facemelter Patrons (a special surprise for them!)

You can get your own Knitty 15th Anniversary mug (in your choice of any of the colors they offer) right on their site. They’ll ship anywhere. If you order, pop up a picture when you get it on Twitter or Instagram, would you? Use the hashtag #knittymag so we can see yours in action!

 

 

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WWW: Yarn bombing, Yarn batteries, Yarn allergies, Yarn bridges and Embellishing a Yarn

This delightful story about 104-year old Grace Brett landed in my inbox last week, describing her role in helping a group of “yarnstormers” decorate the burgh of Selkirk in Scotland and claiming she “just might be the oldest street artist in the world”.

The town of Listowel in Ontario, Canada – home to Canada’s largest mainstream yarn manufacturer Spinrite – is also building a yarnbombing tradition including a town-wide scavenger hunt and selfie contest.

Both of these stories had me recall a thoughtful essay by crochet activist Hinda Mandell. Mandell makes a case for dropping the term “yarn bombing” in favour of “yarn graffiti”, or even “yarn installation”. As a metaphor, “bombing” is too violent a word for the sort of transformation of public spaces and thoughtful commentary sought by these yarn artists. Can we collectively come up with a better term for these “Random Acts of Yarn”?


Under the heading of science is awesome, a team of Chinese researchers have developed a “rechargeable and flexible yarn-based battery that could be produced at scale on existing industrial knitting and weaving machines”. Holy doodle, but that’s cool!


Nothing can get yarn folk’s dander up faster than saying “wool allergy”! As a yarn-seller for nearly a decade, I had lots of experience with customers who said they’re allergic to wool or would never use wool for a baby item. Knowing that the actual prevalence of a wool or lanolin allergy affects only a very small percentage of the population (including Knitty founder Amy!), I attributed  some reaction to a bias they may have developed from experiencing rustic wools in the past, which are nothing like the modern finewools or the de-cuticled super wash wools in today’s marketplace. Many of those folks happily went on to fondle and enjoy working with wool-based yarns, and some continued to use only plant and man-made fibres. I was interested then to read a post from Topsy Farms that stated that wool allergy reactions often come from the chemicals – like sulphuric acid and insecticides – that have been used in processing the fibre. Indeed, your doctor or a qualified allergist is the place to go if you have had reactions, but note that you may need to test not just wool, or lanolin, but perhaps other things that go into the making of the end product.


Anyone who’s been part of a crafting group that meets regularly knows the support that comes from sharing and making together. How heartening then, to read of a weekly craft and yarn-based program at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan that’s offered to women who are refugees and new arrivals. The workshops provide an opportunity to share their stories while learning life skills such as accessing health care and transit in a safe space. “We base what we do on Canadian Mental Health Association’s recommendations for immigrants. What they tell us is most important is first of all belonging and developing a connection and a group where everyone feels comfortable.”


Yes, please, to living in a world where “principal embroiderer” is an actual job title. (Hey, this might be a tad spoiler-y if you only just started watching Game of Thrones.)


 

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WWW: Knitting as exercise, Brontës, socks in history, more poppies, real body templates

New South Wales extreme knitter Jacqueline Fink is renowned for creating brilliant knit textiles at an impressive scale. She says “giant knitting requires whole body movement and a lot of weight bearing.” That sounds like an attractive way to skip the gym. Jacqueline works and teaches at her studio Little Dandelion – check out her gallery for some really gorgeous pieces.


We love any intersection of literature and knits – Welsh knitter Denise Salway has knitted the four famous Brontë siblings, based on a recent television production.


New Zealand newspaper Otago Daily Times runs a “100 years ago today” feature, which popped up a reference from August 15, 1917 to a knitter who’d worked out how to create two socks at a time, the better to speed up production of socks for servicemen fighting in WW1. I don’t know that Miss Cornish was the first to work this technique, but she was mighty clever, and generously offered to share her instructions with others.


We mentioned last week a drive to collect handmade poppies for a memorial organized by Wonderwool Wales. Australian knitters can knit their bit for a centenary commemoration for the Australian War Memorial as well.


“Croquis” are body outlines used by makers to sketch and design attire and accessories, and they’re often generic and based on “standard” proportions. My Body Model is running a Kickstarter campaign for their software that allows designers & stitchers to use their own body measurements to create custom croquis. How wonderful to see a full range of real body sizes and proportions, and to “try on” designs before making them!


 

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WWW: Knitting Conversations, poppies for peace, community visible from space

It’s been a stressful few days in the news, which makes us look to those who seek to draw people together – particularly people from different races, cultures and languages.

Textile artist Movana Chen recently held an exhibition at Los Angeles’ 14th Factory called “Knitting Conversations”. Chen asks friends and audiences to bring books they have read and found meaningful. She reads them, shreds them, and turns the resulting “magazine clothes” into fabric. She often teaches these participants to knit a few stitches and contribute to the whole. The garments and projects made from this fabric are then an ongoing cross-cultural, poly-lingual conversation.


Welsh fibre and stitching show Wonderwool Wales is asking crafters to contribute poppies – knitted, crocheted, woven, sewn, or felted – to a large-scale commemorative WWI display to be built in 2018. The aim is to create a “Curtain of Poppies” made up of 887,858 flowers, one for each person from the UK who died serving in the conflict. The Wonderwool Wales site is keeping a running tally of the poppies contributed to date.


Prisoners in South Africa’s Zonderwater Correctional Centre are knitting blanket squares which when laid together will form a portrait of Nelson Mandela, in commemoration of what would be Madiba’s 100th birthday. Over 150 inmates will participate, with the blankets going to others in the community in need.


 

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WWW: interview with Maggie Menzel; how flax becomes linen, with bonus Irish accent; knitting, animated; cool sheepy design prototypes

We recently published a beautiful-bright cabled sock called Vinculum. On the Apocalypse Knitting blog, read an interview with Vinculum’s designer, Maggie Menzel.


Those who know me know I am allergic to wool, and as a result, exceptionally fond of anything not-wool that’s worth knitting. Linen is at the top of my list. Thanks to the Mason-Dixon’s weekend newsletter, Snippets, I learned about the wonderfulness that is Colm Clarke of County Donegal (note his correct pronunciation: don-E-gal), who takes us, start to finish, through the process of growing flax and turning it into linen. Now you know why it’s so danged expensive.

(To sign up for your own copy of Snippets, scroll down to the bottom of any page on their site.)


I have no idea how this –> is done. Maybe you do, and animator Gustavo Gonzalez certainly does, but we can all just look at it and go “ooooooooh” together.

Here’s another one.

So soothing.


From graphic designer, Gwyn M. Lewis, this self-promotional design portfolio features woolly yarn and sheep in a very novel way. Although the yarn-ball packaging would only work for display, the bobbins and needle covers look very functional.

Anyone wanna license Gwyn’s work?

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WWW: The TCM Knitting club does Gable; missing Roger and his sweaters; an ode to our Kate

O the things I learn, writing the WWW blog post! Seems there’s an unofficial TCM knitting club which celebrates knitting + classic movies, and this month, their chosen patterns are inspired by “Gable’s casual yet snappy style.” They’ve picked out”a few patterns to suit a sharp-dressed man with outdoorsy tendencies.”

Oh, ROGER! <3

Sounds yummy. Read lots more here — I’m signing up for this newsletter. It’s full of good juicy stuff!


We lost Sir Roger Moore this week (he was my first Bond). Did you know he was also a sweater model back in the day?  —>


I got to speak at the Toronto Knitters Guild’s April meeting. Such a nice bunch of people, plus it’s very special to me, that guild, because I first announced the birth of Knitty at a meeting there in 2002.

There’s a bit of a wrapup of the April meeting in their latest Newsletter, but most importantly, an ode to our own Kate Atherley at the end.

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Obsession Thursday: current obsessions roundup

Oh, SO MANY THINGS are happening in my world. Here are two:

Something you didn’t know about me: I learned to code HTML in the late ’90s. In the early ’00s, I switched to Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver can make you a lazy coder. It made me a lazy coder. It is easy to look at the pretty WYSIWYG page result and think you’re done. At the same time, my ex taught himself to be a heavy-duty coder in Javascript, PHP and other such stuff. He bumped up Knitty’s back end, creating a database of all the Knitty content, an advertising system, printer-friendly pages. Lots more.

my new friends.

Meanwhile, I started noticing that I had a significant deficit in understanding how HTML had changed over the years. The word “deprecated” slapped me hard a few times. I looked at online tutorials, tried to absorb what I found at  and none of it sunk in. I resigned myself to being a words and pictures girl. But I wasn’t happy with myself. I felt lesser. So I signed up for an HTML/CSS class at the board of ed. The only good thing that came of that lame class was my meeting online, after a few frustrated tweets about its lameness.  The glorious is the person who made our site bottleneck-free (among other magical things). So I’ll never regret that class. Later, I was surfing HTML5/CSS training, bemoaning the $2500(ish) price tags. But I read the reviews and found one that seemed right for me (that link is just for your info — no compensation is provided to me for the link). And all of a sudden $2500 seemed cheap. Because at the end of the course, I would be qualified to be one of those people I had envied. So I signed up. I’m finding that I knew much more than I thought (yay me!). But there is still so much to learn. And I am LOVING IT. Now when I need to debug code, I paste it into a text/development editor. Because Dreamweaver now seems like a hindrance to making good code.

I am probably the oldest person in the course. I don’t give a crap. It’s working, and I’m so happy I did it. So what is the message? The Hollywood message is that you’re never too old to learn, as long as you WANT to learn. But the bigger message is this. Being focused on the dollars allowed me to avoid making the decision to do what I’d wanted to for years. In fact, the course tuition is ridiculously cheap when you consider that, at the end of 12 weeks, one would be qualified for a WHOLE NEW CAREER (entry level, but still).

No, I’m not quitting Knitty. This knowledge will make me a better editor, and already has made me a better coder. And it’s made me proud of myself. Excited about a new challenge, which infuses everything ELSE I do with new energy. So that’s all. I wanted to share this with y’all. It reminds me of the first time I turned a toe in a sock. I feel unstoppable.

Ok, one more thing. I had bought a very well-reviewed HTML5/CSS book back in the lame-class era. I got nowhere with it. I went back to it last weekend, and realized why. The course I’m taking teaches much more logically, laying down basic skills then adding a new layer on top. The book grouped like with like, with no consideration to giving the reader a base understanding first. If I were to write a new knitting book now, I’d make sure I followed this type of educational path. Not all cables are the same, you know? (ps: I just had to go into the code and debug this post. SUPASTAHHHH!)


I broke a molar a month ago. I needed a new dentist. Saw an ad for Opencare, waving a $50 gift card to businesses I frequent in front of my nose, offering to help me find one that worked for me. Put in my requirements in their search engine: near me, good with chickeny patients, accessible online, good reviews. Found one, booked and went yesterday. She seems just as great as the reviews said, and as a bonus, is respectful of my lack of dental insurance so she doesn’t order any procedures that are not necessary! And now I’ll get a $50 gc to Starbucks, which doesn’t hurt. If you want to try out their service to find a new dentist, use this link and we both will get a $50 gc once you go. www.opencare.com/invite/as217067 Because free is nice. And a service that works? That’s even nicer.

 

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Obsession Thursday: Continuing to breathe normally

This post is for my fellow hoseheads (CPAP users, or beloved of those who use CPAPs). It’ll bore the crap out of the rest of you.

this behemoth sits in my nightstand and has to be lugged wherever I want to sleep away from home. Feh.

This behemoth sits in my nightstand and has to be lugged wherever I want to sleep away from home. Feh.

I was diagnosed with Hypopnea (a form of sleep apnea) in April 2014, and have used a CPAP machine ever since. Still on my first machine, a ResMed S9 Elite ->. It’s what the sleep consultant recommended so I bought it. It cost something like $1600, of which my provincial health insurance covered a big chunk ($600, I believe) and my private health insurance covered most of the rest. Still, that’s a hell of a lot of money for this thing.

Especially when you do a google for CPAP machines, and find out that those in the US can get the same machine for $1000CDN or less.

My main complaint, though, is that it’s huge and heavy and I have to take it with me whenever I go anywhere that requires an overnight stay. I started looking into travel machines, and found a few, but none have humidifiers. But a recent search came up with this little bundle of joy: the Apex XT line.

thanks to esnoreandsleep.com for this image

thanks to esnoreandsleep.com for this image

Based on my needs, the base model (XT Fit) would have done just fine, but the place I ordered from (1800cpap.com) was out of stock, and looking at that Amazon link, it seems they’re out, too. Anyway, they upgraded me to the XT Auto at no charge, and preset the machine to my Rx. The whole thing, unit, heated humidifier, base, case and hose, came to me for $300USD plus $40USD shipping and $44CAD tax (charged on this end). Delivered in a day by FedEx.

The case is about half the size of the ResMed’s case, and weighs just under 6lbs. The power is contained within the main unit, which helps reduce the total weight. (My ResMed uses a huge, heavy power brick.)

I slept with it last night and found that, unlike the ResMed heated hose (it heats the moisture on its way to my nose), the Apex’s heated reservoir seems to do a better job…in that I didn’t notice it at all and slept very comfortably. I’m going to try it without the humidifier next. If I can travel with just the main unit, it’ll reduce the storage space needed (and weight!) by half, which is pretty cool. But I did choose it because it had a humidifier, so even if I need to bring it, I’ve lightened my load by at least a third, and space requirements by a half.

Because I didn’t go through a sleep clinic, I’m unsure about who will be able to check my numbers. I called my sleep doc and hopefully he’ll be able to compare the ResMed with the Apex and make sure I’m getting the therapy I need.

Note that these are anecdotal observations from a non-medical person, and you should always contact your doctor before you do anything that involves your health.

*The first link is an Amazon link, which gives us a little financial reward if you buy from there; the 2nd reward is just a plain ole’ link to the place I bought from.

 

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Who Should I Spin In 2017?

Three Waters Farm Finn, I can't wait until it gets here!

Three Waters Farm Finn, I can’t wait until it gets here!

I want some fresh color in my life, so I am on the hunt for new or new to me dyers to spin in 2017.  I certainly won’t be abandoning my go-to dyers, Into the Whirled, Cjkoho Designs, Sheepspot, Spunky Eclectic or Hello Yarn, they are always coming up with new tempting colors and fibers.

There is a world of color out there and some days I feel like I’m just scratching the surface. There are also dyers that I haven’t spun for years, that somehow have fallen off my radar, Like A Verb for Keeping Warm and Three Waters Farm (I might have just bought a braid of fiber from Three Waters Farm this morning, that one, to the left).

So far on my list Port Fiber, Hill Top Cloud, Fat Cat Knits  and Porpoise Fur.

So tell me you wonderful spinners, who are your favorite dyers to spin? Who should I check out in 2017? Who are you planning to spin?

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