What’s What Wednesdays

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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WWW: A Reality Show?; Not for Wearing; 1861 Mitten Pattern

The man himself, demonstrating his trademark style.

We are always amazed and entertained by designer, yarn shop owner and yarny entrepreneur StevenBe… and his latest idea may be his most amazing and entertaining yet: a reality show. He’s launched a KickStarter for it. Even if you’re not up for contributing, the video is a fun watch, exploring how you might build a reality show around a yarn shop and the personalities you find there! Plus zebra prints! :-)

Not strictly knitting, but I love this casual series on the Nerdist blog, ‘Behind the Costumes’, all about costume design for TV series. So far, they’ve covered Outlander and Agent Carter, both series I’ve enjoyed, and who have done really excellent work with period costumes.

Jade Harwood & Aurelie Popper, founders of ‘Wool and the Gang’

Yarn shop/knitwear designers Wool and the Gang, based in London, brings knitting to high fashion, and high fashion to knitting. They recently collaborated on an exclusive range of accessories for one of Britain’s big names in fashion at London’s esteemed Fashion Week.

If you’re on Twitter, you might have seen this making the rounds last week. Amazing directions indeed. Fascinating to see how the standard for knitting patterns has changed… you had to have a lot of skill to be able to read and execute these.

Indeed – not for wearing, but beautiful sculpture.

Great profile of knitwear designer John Brinegar, a.k.a. knitboy, focused on his show at New York’s Daniel Cooney gallery in New York. The objective of the show, titled “I Would Never Wear That“, is to separate the understanding of knitting from its “make to wear” origins, and explore it as a sculptural medium. Although many pieces begin as garments, they head off in different directions – some surprising, some comical, some fantastic. The show is available for viewing until March 14th.

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WWW: Dedicated Knitters; “Knit Me, I’m Irish” weekend; knitting for science engagement

Warm and welcoming.

USA Today’s “10 Best” site profiles Toronto’s Lettuce Knit - one of my LYSs!

Residents of a care home for the elderly in St. Alban’s, UK, pooled their efforts to knit a blanket for a furry friend – Jane the Golden Retriever, a retired guide dog.

Knitter and history buff Judith Brodnicki

Dedicated knitter Judith Brodnicki responded to a tweet asking for help with a knitting project, and found herself involved in the project of a lifetime: knitting WW1-era costumes for a film.

And Judy Graham is a dedicated knitting teacher. Her YouTube channel, Knitting Tips by Judy, is one of the great successes of the video website. She’s had more than 12.4 million views, and nearly 35,000 subscribers. Meet the face behind voice and the hands!

Looking for a getaway? Consider the “Knit Me, I’m Irish” package for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend at the Caldwell Inn in the Hudson Valley, NY. A local shop, The Cornwall Yarn Shop, is offering a lesson in knitting an “Irish scarf” as part of a B&B weekend.

The Inn has an interesting history: The house was once a refuge to an Irish family fleeing the British during the 1798 Irish Rebellion. The Caldwells, including a dozen children, crossed the Atlantic to arrive in New York City in the early 1800s, and the house was part of a massive estate they built in the then-“wilds” of New York state.

Dr. Tina Chowdhury, , professor of Bioengineering at Queen Mary University of London, has received many accolades and awards for her engaging and innovation teaching style. She’s currently working on a program to engage school-age children in science, and she’s seeking knitters to help her, to knit samples of cells and a bioreactor. More info here.

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WWW: Knitwear model hits the big-time; charity knitter hits milestone.

Pic courtesy Rowan Yarns.

Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne started his career as a model; and not just any model… he was the featured model for Rowan Yarn’s Denim People booklet, published in 2004.

To celebrate his win, Rowan has made the Brooklyn sweater pattern available for free download.

Sibling’s Fair Isle dress. LOVE this.

I love this time of year in the fashion world… all the fashion shows for Fall and Winter provide some excitement and inspiration for cold-weather dressing, just as I’m starting to get tired of my own winter clothes.

UK designer Sibling showed some rather clever uses of Fair Isle knits. Full slideshow here.

A true labor of love.

Knitter Anna Taylor of Virginia is celebrating a rather wonderful milestone: in the past 9 years, she has knitted and donated 1000 children’s sweaters to a local charity.

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WWW: Hugs and Boobs; Spring Fibery Getaways

Image from The Guardian website.

Knitting as an aid to breastfeeding. Really. Knitters from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland have come together to knit 250 yarny ‘models’ for use in a government-funded breastfeeding campaign. The slightly silly nature of the models eases nervousness and aids the discussion…

“Popular with midwives and health visitors, they are used to show the best way to get a baby to latch on properly and how to mould or hold your breast to get the nipple in the right position for the baby’s mouth. They’re also used to teach how to express milk and how to deal with problems like blocked ducts.


A lovely profile of knit designer and artist Rachel Matthews, in a larger discussion about the mental and physical benefits of knitting. Can you knit a hug? The answer is a resounding yes!

A video piece on the BBC about knitting in Sanquhar, Scotland. Sanquhar is known for distinctive and beautiful geometric colourwork patterns, notably used in gloves.

Spring is coming (I hope!), and with it news of a bunch of knitting events.  Fancy a fibery getaway?

Kate and Jillian are both teaching at Interweave’s Yarn Fest, April 16-19 in Loveland, Colorado.
Kate is also teaching at the Strung Along retreat April 9-12, in Port Ludlow, WA, at the Toronto Knitter’s Guild Frolic, the weekend of April 25 & 26, and at the Squam Arts Retreat in New Hampshire is the first weekend of June.

Remember, there’s always a list of events on the Knitter’s Review website.

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WWW: Beautiful sheep, Socks in Space, Valentine’s Day “naughty knitting”

Absolutely stunning photography of rare breed sheep in the Lake District, in the UK, on the BBC website. A bonus sheep dog or two, too! Seriously. Stunningly beautiful images. Go look now.

Fiber crafters, sewists and textile enthusiasts in southern Ontario are very excited about an upcoming exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada, “Artist Textiles: From Picasso to Warhol“.

From the exhibition introduction:

a fascinating overview of 20th-century textile designs from some of the the world’s most renowned artists. More than 200 works on fabric trace the history of art in textiles, with examples from key European and American art movements including Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Modernism, Surrealism and Pop Art as well as the work of leading fashion designers and manufacturers. Featuring work by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Raoul Dufy, Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse, Sonia Delaunay, Marc Chagall, Henry Moore, Fernand Léger, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Joan Miró, Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder, most of these rare pieces have not been on public display before.

Can’t wait! I think a field trip is in order.

From the UK Intellectual Property Office, guidance for designers (and users) about copyright as it applies to knitting and sewing patterns. Fascinating and informative reading. Note that this statement applies only to laws in the UK, and is not intended to be complete or substitute for legal advice, but it does provide some insight into the types of issues tied up in this complex problem.

Silly fun!

Not safe for work, but entirely appropriate for Valentine’s Day: Knit Your Own Kama Sutra. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, designer ‘Trixie Von Purl’ has created twelve projects for “naughty knitters”.

Lovely story: Australia’s oldest man, Alfred Date, is still knitting at the age of 109.

You may recall me writing about the AstroSocks – socks knitted by a team of Canadian knitters (using yarn dyed by a Canadian dyer) for an astronaut. Well, we had word this week at the the socks are in space, and being worn!

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WWW: 5 Million Ravelers, Woolful, Tapestry Weaving and Cotton

Kate is off recording another beautiful and smart class for all of us, so this week’s WWW has been put together by Jillian (that’s me!)  with my particular view of what’s interesting on the fibery web.


Ravelry Rules!


5 million Ravelers! Sometime during the Super Bowl last Sunday the Ravelry family expanded to 5 million. Congratulations to Jess and Casey and everyone that makes Ravelry such an exciting place to be!



Woolful Podcast



Have you heard the Woolful podcast yet? It’s a gorgeous weekly conversation between Ashley Joy Yousling and a variety of fiber folk. Each well chosen guest  who has a particular eye to sustainable wool and design and a passion for making.  The 10th episode just released, so it’s still easy to catch up with a fiber binge. There is also a shop with spectacular small batch yarn and goodies.


Maryanne Moodie weaving

Maryanne Moodie weaving


Have you noticed that tapestry weaving is all of a sudden everywhere? I’ve always been a fan, but have never set aside the time to learn. One weaver who is having a well deserved moment is Maryanne Moodie. She does spectacular, textural wall hangings. She is interviewed in the latest Woolful podcast and is in the latest O Magazine. Another tapestry artist I admire is Erin M. Riley (Not always SFW), and my very first tapestry crush is Sarah Swett. Want to try tapestry or small textural weaving? Fringe Association sells a great little loom.


Cotton spinning bar

Cotton spinning ba



I know this has been around a bit, but I still love this cotton spinning bar in Japan, relaxing and productive.







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WWW: Sweater Day; Year of the Sheep; Ten Poems About Knitting

February 5th marks WWF’s National Sweater Day in Canada. It’s an energy conservation promotion, reminding residents of this cold county to put a sweater on and turn the heating down a little… We don’t need to be told twice!

A student teaches herself to knit, and ruminates on whether knitting is a better use of her spare time than “simply bingeing on Netflix”. Of course, as she gets better at it, she’ll discover that those two pastimes can be very well combined…

I’m excited about the release of this poetry anthology: Ten Poems About Knitting. Part of a series of poetry books, Ten Poems About…, this volume gathers verse both modern and classic. The publisher proposes these pamphlets instead of a traditional greeting card. I know I’d be thrilled to get one of these in the mail.

Although I hope that a mouse isn’t a mandatory piece of kitchen equipment…

I adore this: a Knit-chen. (Points off for the terrible pun, though!) Created by more than 50 artists, and bringing together knitting, crochet, felting and weaving, this yarn-kitchen was part of the last year’s Jumpers And Jazz Festival, in Queensland, Australia.

Simply beautiful.

Friend of Knitty Julia Farwell-Clay has just launched a collection of patterns with Classic Elite Yarns, From Folly Cove. Infused with her trademark classic design sensibility, the pieces are entirely accessible and wearable, but each with a touch of something special. This blog post talks a little about the design inspiration and the process of creating the collection.

On the Lunar Calendar, 2015 is Year of the Sheep. A wonderful excuse to celebrate our love for our woolly pals! A festival celebrating the Lunar New Year in Canada is inviting artists to decorate (plastic) sheep.

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WWW: Food, furniture and other sculptures; Knitting for Programmers

Love this: MIT’s Comparative Media Studies group is offering a workshop in Knitting for Programmers this week.  In their words:

A knitting pattern is actually a more or less complex algorithm with the difference being that the output is directly wearable like 3D printing.

Image from Melissa Leapman/Chronicle Books.

UK’s Daily Mirror publishes an excerpt from Melissa Leapman’s latest book Knit It! Learn The Basics and Knit 22 Beautiful Projectsa pattern for a giant floor pillow.

I saw this display myself at Vogue Knitting Live in New York last weekend, but wasn’t able to get any pictures. Pam MacKenzie writes about the amazing hand-knit food sculptures of Dominique Kaehler Schweizer (a.k.a. Mme. Tricot.

Speaking of unexpected yarn sculptures… Another new book, this one definitely not aimed at beginners or youngsters: Knit Your Own Kama Sutra. Graphic sexual content. But in yarn. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Image courtesy Inside Korea/ Jeon Han.

An article in online publication “Inside Korea” tells of a current fashion in Korea for giant chunky hand-knit hats. I love the insight into other knitting cultures and fashions. Although I’m somewhat familiar with the Japanese knitting culture, I was less aware of knitting in Korea. I love the idea of this monster-yarn hat, and love even more that it can be knitted in an hour!

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WWW: Knitting as engineering; One Hundred Years Ago; Helping Animals (and not)

I loved this blog post… knitter Christine, who also happens to be a scientist and engineer, explains how knitting is like an engineering exercise. But perhaps not in the way you might think! As she says:

An integrated part of Engineering and Knitting is making mistakes in a safe space and learning from them.  Below are some of the lessons I’ve learned through my knitting experiments….

Courtesy the “One Hundred Years Ago” blog. Get your eyes tested so you can keep knitting and sewing.

Another wonderful blog: One Hundred Years Ago, is all about women’s lives in Britain during the First World War. It features articles and content from that time, and it often features contemporary knitting and sewing patterns, representing both everyday wear, and items specifically made for sending to the troops. I adored reading the various appeals and entreaties for knitters to ‘do their bit’ and knit for their brave soldiers. Fascinating.

We will miss it!

Eek… we have heard rumors that the manufacturers of the blue and white Royal Ball Winder are no longer in business… commence hoarding! There are other products available, but this one has long been a favorite. If anyone knows anything more, please let us know!

Last week, a call went out for knitters to make mittens for koalas whose paws had been hurt in wildfires in Australia. As many have said before, when these appeals go global, there are often too many items made… If you’re moved by the plights of animals far from your home, it’s always better to contribute money that can go to immediate needs.

Nope. Not a parrot. Although at a distance you could see how it might be mistaken for one…

I did rather enjoy this story that involves knitting, but no suffering animals at allAnimal welfare officers in Scotland were called out to rescue what looked like an injured parrot, lying in the middle of a road. Turned it, it was a hat.

This weekend, it’s Vogue Knitting Live in New York City. I’ll be there, teaching some sock-related classes. There are spaces still available in my Introduction to Sock Design, and “Go Your Own Way: Work Socks the Way You Want” classes. Come and say hello! (P.S. Signed print copies of my Pattern Writing book will be available at the indigodragonfly booth, #316.)

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