What’s What Wednesdays

WWW: The Knit Show is LIVE!; everyone can wear horizontal stripes; the conundrum of Innocent’s smoothie hats; sheep to help you sleep

We’re thrilled that our friend Vickie Howell’s The Knit Show project, funded by Kickstarter (go crowdfunding!) is finally live and we can watch it! After watching the first few episodes, I’m very happy to have been one of Vickie’s supporters, and can’t wait to see what other cool people and techniques she’ll be featuring in future shows. Yay Vickie! Yay crowdfunding!


Vertical stripes? No thank you.

Via one of my favorite Brits, Eleanor  of Knit Nottingham comes this link to a blog post from the past (via the retired blog Knitting at Large) that needs to be read: it makes my heart happy: Horizontal stripes do NOT make you look fatter. Thank heavens, because I am almost finished my After the Rain pullover, which has horizontal stripes and I love it.

I have always thought that vertical stripes look like a circus tent on people of any size.


I confess that I have been charmed by the tiny hats on smoothie bottles that knitters have donated when I’ve visited the UK in past years. But the Knitting Goddess blog post brings up some very good points about their effectiveness in making change for the elderly, and suggests better ways for knitters to support them without adding yarn to landfill. Cute can only go so far.


Want to see the dullest movie ever made? May we present Baa Baa Land. An 8-hour movie designed to help you fall asleep. Here’s a little snippet:

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WWW: Alan Cumming invents (cough cough) stitch + bitch; Canadian knitters knit socks for UK exhibition; Japanese inventor wants knitting technology to lighten your car

photo of Alan Cumming in front of the sign to his club

ctor Alan Cumming at his East Village venue in 2016. Photo © Sean Zanni

Okay, it’s quite amusing that the wonderful Mr Cumming thinks his friend invented the term “stitch + bitch”, but we’re not really complaining. Because he and his friend, Knitmaster Tom, are offering a Stitch + Bitch night at his new Club Cumming in the East Village of Manhattan. If I were close enough to get there, you bet I would.

If any of you do go, would you send us pictures?


A wonderful display of support shown by Canadian knitters for an exhibition commemorating World War I held in Fordingbridge in the UK. Approximately 30 pairs of handknit socks in the style of the period will be on display.

Take a look at the socks in the article. They’re interestingly tube-shaped, ribbed around the heel and ankle area, and then plain stockinette up the calf till they culminate in a ribbed cuff. Anyone ever knit socks like these?


I love a good tech-meets-knitting story. (Warning: autoplay video with audio) Mitsuhiro Shima has invented whole-garment knitting machines, and wants to adapt them to knitting — get this — car parts. Knitting car parts, then coating the finished items with resin, produces a lighter finished result than conventional methods.

You go, Shima-san.

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WWW: Superhero knitter; Join Knitty; Meet a Mensch

Odin sweater, designed by Josh Bennett. Image © Josh Bennett.

We all know Josh Bennett, right? He’s the designer of some gorgeous knitwear. So it’s no surprise, but surely a delight, to hear that he’s designing sweaters inspired by the upcoming movie Thor: Ragnarok. In fact, Josh has a contract with Marvel that lasts through 2018, and is also working on designs inspired by Black Panther, due out next February.

What I love? Is that he’s getting fairly paid for the amount of work that goes into knitting a sweater. (And these are particularly gorgeous sweaters. Prices start at just over $1000. And there are only 10 pieces of each design available. Preorders start October 10.

Could we see Chris Hemsworth wearing one? Please?


Did you know Knitty has a mailing list for its readers, and one for potential designer/contributors? We do! And until last week, it seems they was broken. For a long while. Sorry about that. I fixed ’em, tho!

So if you would like to be kept up to date as soon as a new issue is released, or a new call for submissions is sent out, you can sign up here.

Speaking of contributor lists, I’ll be sending out the Spring+Summer Call for Submissions later tonight. Sign up now and make sure you don’t miss your chance to get your work featured in Knitty!


Mensch (good person) alert: Meet Gilles Chiasson, former homeless person who now knits for other homeless people to show that someone cares about them.

He invites you to join him if you’re near Notre-Dame-de-Grâce in Montreal. Information on how to connect with the group is at the end of the article.

 

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WWW: The gritty life of a Basque sheepherder; doughnut projectiles; crafting veterans; live in a knitting mill

Time to knit the doughnuts. (Photo courtesy The Northern Echo)

I stumbled across The Kitchen Sisters podcast last week, and this story’s title grabbed me. It’s about Basque sheepherders in the American west and it’s not the charming story you imagine it might be.


Holy crap, I miss the UK, especially when I read stories like this one, about a theatre needing knitted doughnuts for the audience to throw at the performers on stage. Not sure what doughnuts have to do with The Wizard of Oz, but I don’t care, either. Long live Panto! –>


A touching story about a Vietnam veteran and his Vietnam veteran husband’s passion for needlework (crochet, though the article mentions knitting).


Can’t own a knitting mill? Well, you could live in one if you’re partial to Syracuse. Rents range from $1,250 to $2,250 a month, and the apartments look pretty fabulous. Expect the standard exposed brick, 100+ year old beams, and 9-foot-tall windows.

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WWW: the *real* sea silk; when a yarn shop closes…; American superwash wool

Chiara Vigo, spinner of sea silk (byssus). Photo by Eliot Stein

Thanks to the BBC, meet the last surviving sea silk seamstress. Yes, yarn from a sea creature. What she does is painstaking to a degree few could imagine. And so beautiful.


It’s a great loss when we lose another yarn shop. Amelia Hodson has put it in words here. (No, it’s not about grabbing yarn for cheap.)


Did you know that “the American wool industry has been revitalized because of the superwash process”? Krista McCurdy sings the praises of American superwash wool. Read on.

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WWW: moths ain’t so bad; the gritty glory of British Wool; knittit on Reddit

Moths, by Emmet Gowins.

This week, WWW is all about visuals. And words. Visuals and words. Yeah, that’s it.


First off, moths. Knitters hate ’em, but dang, they’re beautiful. Take a look


Some really striking images and short videos from the British Wool industry by Jonas Bendiksen. Doesn’t work well on mobile devices.


Did you know there’s knitting discourse on Reddit? You’ll find it in knittit. Of course that’s what they call it.

There’s a nice vibe going on there…looks like a friendly spot.

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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: Burgled beagle, knitted knockers, stitches on a plane, school of yarn

A knitting shop in Benfleet, UK, about an hour east of London, had it’s knitted beagle pinched recently. Hopefully it was just someone full of, er, *spirits* and will soon find it’s way back. The beagle, along with other customer-crafted yarn bombings, has been part of the shop’s fundraising efforts on behalf of Retinitis Pigmentosa Fighting Blindess.


Breast cancer survivor Beryl Tsang first published  Tit Bits with Knitty.com back in 2005. Her pattern, to craft a breast prosthesis for women who have undergone a mastectomy, has helped hundreds if not thousands of women feel some post-surgery normalcy. Always clever knitters have now hacked instructions to work on different needle arrangements and construction methods so that many more knitters can contribute to the making of “knockers”. Knitting Knockers organizations now exist in the United States and Canada to connect makers with those who need them. You’ve come a long way, Beryl!


Super pop star Demi Lovato apparently has the knitting bug, seen recently knitting on a plane. We agree – nothing like a little garter stitch to take the edge off travel tension.


Have you ever wanted to learn more about yarn bases, ply construction, dye take-up and all manner of fiber info? Yarn friends Blue Moon Fiber Arts are kicking off their School of Yarn, a subscription club filled with yarny treats and knowledge. Check out the link for a first semester discount, good only until August 15th!


 

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WWW: Transitions, silk production, great FOs, woolly spires, sock dreams, Womb in the news

Big news from some yarn stars this week of a transition happening with indie dyers Lorna’s Laces and Mrs. Crosby yarns. Congrats to Amanda and our very best wishes to Beth – we can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeves next!


This is my favorite kind of retro video: a Pathe newsreel about the production of silk from the time when England was a big mucky muck in the silk industry (1960ish). Flash required. 


Don’t you love when fiber peoples craft something that is herculean and then blog about it? Or is that just me? Well, Patricia made this amazing dress and you can read about it here. Red Heart never looked so good.


Going to the chapel and we’re gonna get kni-i-itting, going to the chapel and we’re gonna get kni-i-I-ting. (Musical doggerel aside – those are incredible works! )


Dream job alert! Got $10,000 and a thing for socks? ::swoon::


First published in Knitty in 2004, MK Carroll’s Womb was a cute & cuddly expression of MK’s interest in human anatomy. Interesting to see Womb appear in an article on the not at all cute & cuddly fight for reproductive rights in Canada – no matter what your stance on the issue, it’s good to see craft and activism meet.

 

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