What’s What Wednesdays

WWW: Knitting for others; sweaty knitting; new yarn shop opening in Toronto


We all love the craft or we wouldn’t still be doing it. But what to do with those bits and baubles, the left over pieces after the project is done?

How about knitting for your pets? If you don’t have any animals of your how, try your local animal shelter. Make a sweater, make a blanket, bedding or toy, something that makes use of those bits and makes an abandoned or mistreated animal warm and loved.

The Big Knitathon, sponsored by the Big Issue Foundation, is now in its fourth year. The Big Issue Foundation is a UK organization dedicated to raising funds and support for the homeless.  They’re asking knitters worldwide to dig out their yarn and get sponsored for your marathon knitting session in November. Knit a scarf, a hat, a pair of mitts and help keep people warm this winter.

If you’re interested in contributing to another community knitting project, consider knitting for Bletchley. The organizers of the public exhibition at this important historical site are seeking 1940s-style winter accessories to ‘dress’ the exhibit for winter. The huts where the codebreakers worked were famously cold, and woolies were an important part of the gear.

Let’s talk about multitasking here: Meredith Parmalee intends to knit while running the New York Marathon.  Her training runs focused not only on the running aspect, but the knitting aspect: she started with finger knitting, and eventually built up to carrying actual needles while she ran. Interestingly, she reports that knitting along has helped her set a steady pace… “with the knitting I can gauge my speed and energy a bit better and settle into a comfortable rhythm“. Although she admits that anything she works on while she trains gets a bit sweaty…

It’s always great to hear about a new yarn shop opening: tonight is the inaugural Stitch Night at the new Yarns Untangled, in Kensington Market, in downtown Toronto. The address and some of the faces at the shop might be familiar…

Speaking of yarn shops we know and love, here’s an excellent profile of Shall We Knit, of Waterloo, Canada, and teacher Lynne Sosnowski.

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WWW: Helping Syrian refugees; your 2016 calendar?; 2015 events

Laura’s donations.

Sometimes calls for charity knitting present challenges: they well-meaning but misguided, initiated by those at a remove from the situation. In this case, a call has come directly from someone involved in a difficult situation, and it’s provides a very meaningful way for knitters to help out.

Friend of Knitty, designer Laura Nelkin, has a very active Ravelry group. One of her participants, Andrea, is a doctor working in a public health office near Munich, Germany. Her office has been inundated with work because of the arrival of so many Syrian refugees: her town alone is expecting over 1,000 men, women and children. Many of them will be living in tents.

To quote from Laura’s blog post:

One of Andrea’s concerns is that the winter months are coming and many of these refugees are not properly prepared for the cold. So, I am hoping some of you can take a little time out from your knitting projects and make them some warm items. They don’t need to be fancy, but they do need to be functional and bright!

Andrea has offered to be a “hub” for us to help get the woolens to those in need. Since she is on the front line of this situation and dealing with it daily, I feel sure that our items will be appreciated and used.

Read more about this initiative on Laura’s blog.

Charming and ever so slightly saucy, in a woolly sort of way: order your own copy of the Nudiknits 2016 calendar. Featuring lovely full-color pictures of designer’s trademark clever designs, gentle innuendo and visual puns, it’s guaranteed to raise a smile. Click here for an example of what to expect. There’s also a YouTube channel, of utterly wonderful and quite ridiculous knitted animations.

Another smart well to help out a good cause:  Yarn store Shabby Motley (what a great name!) in Sault Ste Marie, Canada, held their first annual Knit-A-Thon with proceeds heading directly to the local soup kitchen. The event, organized by Tiffany Baxter, began promptly at 11am and continued for 24 hours. Occasional breaks for Pilates and Tai Chi were sprinkled throughout the event alongside the raffle draws and games to keep everyone going.
“We had so many people interested that we had to close the sign up. We can only facilitate so many people for a 24-hour period; it’s been overwhelming.
People unable to attend the knit-a-thon helped instead with gifts of food and knitted hats, mitts and scarves and “We have received lots of donations from local businesses,” Baxter said.

What a fun way to help out a deserving causing!

The hall at Yarndale – gorgeous and welcoming! Image courtesy Yarndale/Elizabeth.

It’s knitting season, so there are all sorts of wonderful events and activities and gatherings for the yarny-types. Last weekend, Yarndale was held, in Skipton, Yorkshire.

This weekend alone there’s Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago  (Amy will be there!) and KnitCity in Vancouver (Kate will be there!). The following weekend is The Knitting and Stitching Show in London UK, and the weekend after that it’s the Creativ Festival in Toronto, the Woodstock Fleece Festival in Woodstock, Ontario, The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival (a.ka. Rhinebeck), and the only one I get my husband interested in, the Bakewell Wool Gathering in Derbyshire (he loves Bakewell tarts).  If you’re looking for an event, remember that Clara Parkes maintains a list on the Knitter’s Review website.


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WWW: Oldest Yarnbomber, Sheep on the Street in Toronto, E-course on History of Knitting & Spinning

104-year old Street Artist.

Regardless where you stand on the art of Yarn Bombing, I do believe that this one warrants an extra peek.

Grace Brett could very well be the oldest living Yarn Bomber at 104 years young. Her team, The “Stormers” took their time in planning this event that took over their town in Scotland, with knitted and crocheted artwork.

Her 74-year-old daughter, Daphnie, said that the yarn-bombing gives Grace a purpose and that her mother finds it humorous to be labeled a ‘street artist’.

This September’s Third Annual Great London Yarn Crawl, organized by Yarn in the City, raised over £1300 for the UK charity Refuge. In addition to the funds raised, they collected close to 150 hand knit items to donate through Knit for Peace.

Hey! I know her!

This year’s event was the largest yet with 120 crawlers, 15 volunteer guides and 11 shops participating.

Yarn in the City was begun by Allison Thistlewood and Rachel Brown in 2013 and is a variety of yarn-centric events that bring people together to share their love of the craft.

What a great way to gather with your fellow yarn crafters and have a great time all while raising money for a deserving charity!

Sheep on the street, in front of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Although the Campaign for Wool has been running internationally for some time, here in Canada it’s only in its second year.

It was launched September of 2014 in Canada by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and this year events are being are held in Montreal, Toronto and Calgary with the proceeds going to benefit the Prince’s Canadian Charitable work. The Campaign for Wool currently runs in 12 difference countries worldwide.

The goal of the campaign is to educate as many people as possible about the benefits, sustainability and versatility of wool: we’re listening!

If you are near Toronto, check out the pop-up shop on Bloor located at Holt Renfrew featuring products made with Canadian Wool as well as featuring the Prince’s own Highgrove line of carpets.

Related: Friday October 9th is “Woolly Hat Day” in the U.K. That’s a made-up holiday I can entirely support celebrating! The Campaign for Wool site is offering free hat pattern downloads. You know, just in case you can’t find something you fancy over at Knitty.

Very excited about this: Designer, author, anthropologist and teacher Heather Marano (also known as The Merry Spinster) is offering an online course on the archaeology, mythology and evolution of spinning, weaving and knitting across cultures. When did humans first start spinning, weaving, knitting or crocheting? Did you know that nearly every culture has a myth and even a goddess associated with the fiber arts? This e-course aims to answer all these questions and more.

Class takes place in a private password protected chat room on the website, and there is a private discussion group on Facebook for the class as well. Begins Saturday, October 3rd, and registration is $19.99.

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WWW: Cast off Chemo; Largest Knitted Doll? Keeping brains fit

The best of causes.

Coming up in October, Cast off Chemo is holding an online auction through EBay to raise funds for a clinical trial for a cancer treatment that doesn’t involve chemotherapy.  Big guns like Skacel, Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts, Berroco and more have donated items towards the auction.  This is your chance to enhance your stash, get some cool products like Denise Interchangeable or HiyaHiya needles, yarn totes, crochet sets and many others.

“We are grateful to have such generous sponsors and contributors from the craft industry,” said Susan Sullivan, Auction Coordinator.  “All the funds raised will go to the goal of raising $1 million for a clinical trial that could make a huge difference for those with breast cancer and other cancers.”

In addition to the online auction, there are currently patterns available on Ravelry. Over 50 knit and crochet patterns are already available for $5 each, with all proceeds going to the cause.  New patterns are uploaded weekly, often daily.

Keep your eyes open for the auction coming up October 2-11, 2015 on EBay.  For a great listing of additional ways you can help, check out the How-To-Help section on the Cast Off Chemo site.

Love it!

Over in New Zealand, a woman originally from Zimbabwe, has created a doll that stands just under 10 feet tall.  Faustinah Ndlovu created the doll to raise funds for the primary school in her home village.  The doll is knit in one piece, stuffed with over 180 pillows and weighing close to 200 pounds; the clearly strong and clever knitter  is waiting for confirmation from Guinness if she has the largest knitted doll.

Something we all already knew, according Cardiff University in the UK, knitting and other yarn crafts can “activate areas of the brain that are good for generating a sense of calm, (and contribute to) improved emotional processing and better decision making.

Keeping the hands and the brain cells active.

Following up on this research, Neural Knitworks began holding knit-ins for broad selection of communities, including students, university staff and scientists.  Expert guests hold seminars while participants create neurons out of yarn.

“Yarn craft, with its mental challenges, social connection and mindfulness, helps keep brains fit by solving creative and mental challenges, developing eye-hand coordination and fine motor dexterity and increasing attention span”.

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WWW: Silk from a Clam, Taylor Swift’s Sweater and the Stocking Forecast

Sea silk photo by Andrea Pasquali

Sea silk photo by Andrea Pasquali



A lovely article about Chiara Vigo the last woman thought to be able to harvest and spin sea silk or byssus.




A super fan, knit Taylor Swift a sweater of a Polaroid of Taylor Swift. Her response makes her definitely knitworthy.

Taylor Swift on Instagram

Taylor Swift on Instagram


As colder weather approaches it’s good to know that a statistician, and former Robin Hood, has developed a formula to help calculate what thickness of tights is appropriate for the weather. The Stocking Forecast will be broadcast on BBC Radio Nottingham’s breakfast show each day.


Need to learn to knit socks before the cold winds really blow? Kate Atherley’s How to Knit Sock for Beginners class on Craft U starts on Monday.

sock knitting for beginners


Have you started your Rhinebeck sweater yet? The New York Sheep and Wool Festival is 38 days from today.

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WWW on knitting drama, history and a hashtag you want to check out!

There can be all kinds of drama in knitting — dropped stitches, dye lots, twisted cables (let’s not even talk about gauge drama).  I’m saddened to report drama at an art installation in Greerton, New Zealand, when someone stole the knitting needles from this lovely display.  Do you really think they got away unnoticed with those needles?  I hope the vandals sit on a 0000 DPN!


Giant knitting needles stolen in New Zealand.



And while we are on the subject of drama, Paul Spinrad offered the Surprising Tumultuous History of Socks which presents a lovely time line of socks and stockings and their roles in history.


Henry, Prince of Wales, wore dashing red stockings. © Robert Peake the Elder, 1610

“I have too much love for my poor people who obtain their bread by the employment of knitting, to give my money to forward an invention that will…make them beggars. ”  The response of Queen Elizabeth I to the invention of the “stocking-frame” which promised machine-knit socks of quality superior to those of any hand-knitter.





Imagine yourself sitting on the lawn in June 1915 knitting in this sweltering ensemble as portrayed in this back issue of  Vogue Magazine. While I knit 24/7/365 here in Oklahoma, some of us can’t bear to look at the needles during the steamy summer months.  What about you?  Do you put down the needles in the heat, swap wool for cotton, or continue all projects regardless of the temperature?



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Kiss yarn like it is a person.

If you’re on Twitter, drop everything and follow the hashtag #thingsknittersdo.  You’ll laugh, blush, and relate to the things we all do regularly and often.  You’re welcome.



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WWW: About cross crafts, stereotypes, teachers, creators, activists, and books.

New things!  New things!  Our Miriam Felton has started a CrossCraftual newsletter, and it’s going to be cool!  Follow her on Twitter, sign up for her newsletter, and take her short survey.  I love exploring embroidery in my knitting, have a lot to learn about crochet, and am always hungry for something pretty.  The goodness possibilities with Mim at the helm blow my mind.


I get very frustrated by broad sweeping generalizations and assumptions.  Seriously. I don’t have any room for this in my life, and I suspect you don’t either.   I know how to knit, write a proper letter, start a fire, change a tire, darn a sock….  DO NOT put me or knitters in a box!  We are taking over the world, remember?


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Look at that smile and that mischievous sparkle in her eyes!  We are pleased to share our beloved Kate Atherley with knitters at Webs at the end of September.  She’s teaching not one, not two, not three, but FOUR classes.  To say the gal has a few tricks up her sleeve is an understatement, and you don’t want to miss her!


When this article popped up a few days ago, I was thrilled to see knitters at their best.   The Yarn Mission is peaceful and proactive, and it speaks to the power of community activism.  Our thoughts are with you, Ferguson.


Continental, throwing, Portuguese, supported, and lever knitting are just a few of the many methods that create the same knit stitch and purl stitch.  I find the traditions of different countries and regions compelling, and  Cowichan knitting from Vancouver Island is no exception.  It is passed down from generation to generation and is beautiful.


Some hard news reached Knitty about the beauty that is Margarit of Morehouse Merino.  A knitting friend eloquently said that Morehouse Merino is her desert island yarn.  Knitty wishes Margarit comfort and peace as she continues her journey.  Thank you Margarit for your generous talents and gifts — well done!

If you love Morehouse Merino, Margarit is offering a summer sale through midnight September 7.


Heads up Star Wars fans — a felted Luke Skywalker!  I was browsing recently, and spied this series of books categorized as Epic Yarns.  An entire series with felted Star Wars characters!  Get your inner geek on and add them to your holiday list!

Happy knitting!


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WWW: Knitters + Crocheters = Infinite Possibilities

Together we are mighty and generous.

We’ve clothed bodies in knitwear. We’ve raised thousands for charities (did you see what we did for the Yarn Harlot?) We’ve supported independent artists.  We make things GO!  The Peyton Heart Project is raising awareness about teen suicide, bullying, and mental illness by placing knitted or crocheted hearts throughout communities.  Our reach knows no boundaries, and that’s pretty groovy!

The Peyton Heart Project

The Peyton Heart Project

This picture is sexy!  There, I’ve said it.  Look at that crimp!  Look at that staple!  Look at the delightfully weathered and hearty hands showing off the fleece!  This is reason #642,000 why I love wool.



And this article is reason #642,001 why I use wool.  While I’m not inclined to bury a hand-knit sweater in the backyard anytime soon, this is certainly a valid reason to knit everything I can with wool!

Not all knitters have an affinity for wool (our own Amy Singer is allergic).  So check out this new yarn created by a team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.  It is made from the same ingredients found in Jell-O.


Interesting that they are working the yarn’s “wet strength”.

I replaced packaging ribbons with yarn 15 years ago.  It doesn’t matter whether the gift is handmade, I use yarn to seal the deal because — YARN!

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When I saw this Shetland lace wrapping paper however, I knew I would be kicking up my game.  Dudes, that’s Shetland lace printed on wrapping paper!


Sterilizing hand-knit socks for soldiers in World War I was a thing, and this article gives a fascinating glimpse of the Australian effort to keep soldiers healthy by using the following recipe:

“(1) Wash the socks in warm soapy water, and dry them in the sun. (2) Immerse them for a little while in 3 per cent, solution of formalin. (3) Bake them in the oven.”

This takes blocking an entirely new level!

Because these days a WWW post isn’t complete without a yarn bomb mention, here are this week’s offerings:

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Happy knitting!



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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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WWW – here’s what is happening in your corner of the world.

There is a lot to share, celebrate, and learn today, and I’ll start with this little treasure:


Knitty’s beloved, funny, smart, and charming Kate Atherley gave birth to a brand new book about socks, AND she has an amazing lineup of classes on the horizon.  She’s coming to a yarn shop near you, and I have it on good authority she would be delighted to sign a copies of her book!  Way to go Kate!


If you’re in the midwest, check out Annie’s Craft Festival in Ft. Wayne, Indiana on October 30 – November 1.  They’re offering classes taught by top instructors in crochet and knitting (and others craft fields).

And while we’re on the subject of classes and events, take a moment and check out upcoming state and county fairs in your area.  If you’re like me, the hustle of back-to-school and changing seasons finds me sometimes overlooking local events.  There’s always something happening in the fiber arts world.



Louet North America shared the news that their founder and creative director, Trudy Van Stralen, passed away after a long battle with a rheumatological condition.  Her talents and gifts were abundant, and we applaud her legacy and contributions to the fiber arts industry.



This blog mentions yarn bombing with regularity, but this piece is special as it celebrates both the Pan Am games and the tradition of cycling in Milton, Ontario.  To date over 50 bicycles have been yarn bombed.  Best news of all, the projects are slated for donation and up-cycling for blankets in the community.


I leave you with this treasure that recently crept across Knitty’s radar screens.  A savvy UK knitter and author of the blog Chop’kins wrote a nifty post about seamless buttoning worked as you knit.  Catherine likens this technique to Elizabeth Zimmerman’s unventing, and we wanted to share this intriguing technique.  It’s pretty smart and right up the alley of those of us who loathe seaming and sewing.

Now scamper along and play with some yarn!




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