What’s What Wednesdays

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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WWW: What Color Is It? Puppy Recovering; Knitting as a Luxury?

A happy ending to a very scary story: a 17-week old puppy is recovering after a knitting needle pierced her heart. She fell onto the needle at her home in Durham, N.C., this past New Year’s Eve. Vets were able to remove it, and she is expected to make a full recovery, poor little mite.

Just watch it. Mesmerizing.

Love this. Absolutely LOVE IT. A website that displays the color of the time. It translates the current time – a 24 hour clock, with seconds – to a hexadecimal code, which represents a color.

Interesting: a writer in Detroit laments the lack of yarn shops in Detroit, and kicks off an interesting discussion about the role of LYSs, the cost of yarn and whether knitting has become a hobby only for those with a certain amount of disposable income. There’s no right or wrong answer here, and I believe it’s an interesting and important point. Although you can save money by making your clothes, that’s become less of a factor. Part of that is to do with the costs of yarn and the interests and attitudes of knitters, but it’s also partially driven, I think, by the proliferation of very inexpensive clothes. Most new knitters, I believe, approach knitting as more of a ‘decorative’ rather than ‘practical’ art. I don’t ‘need” to knit in the way that my grandmother did. She was clothing her family; I’m using knitting as a creative outlet. And as such, I’m willing (and able) to spend more money on my yarn. But there are knitters out there who, for a variety of very valid reasons, can’t spend a lot of money on yarn, and there are fewer shops that are serving them.

Freddie Patmore of UK Magazine Women’s Weekly brings knitter Lisa Woodroof’s (of the Facebook group Addicted to Sock Knitting) New Year Resolution to our attention:

Mr. Meech’s computer-generated, machine-knitted portraits.

Video artist Sam Meech has incorporated a knitting machine into his work, exploring the combination of digital and analog technologies. He displayed his worked recently as part of a workshop at Milton Keynes Library in the U.K., and you can reach more about his research and work at knitting.smeech.co.uk. The artist, who had previously worked only with video and film, says that when he first encountered a knitting machine, he was “struck by the parallels between punchcards and film reels, stitches and pixels, and began to relate to it in terms of digital imaging as much as textiles.”

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WWW: Warmth & Generosity

Love this! Designer Anniken Allis brings to our attention that the McDonald’s tray liners in Norway have a knitting pattern on them.

Magee-Women’s Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center sends babies born at Christmas home in hand-knit Christmas stockings.

87-year-old Bob Rutherford using a knitting machine to make socks for the homeless. The former teacher, who lives in Saskatoon, Canada, has made more than 6400 pairs of socks since he started in 2010.

Volunteers at the Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, California, knit and crochet caps so that all babies born at the hospital can go home with one. In 2014, 675 babies were sent home cozy and comfortable in hand-knits.

98-year-old Lois Hanneman of New Mexico, makes hats to donate to children who are undergoing cancer treatment. She’s made 50 this year, breaking her previous record.

Third-grade students at Grey Cloud Elementary School in Minneapolis are using knitting “looms” to make hats for local charities. Their first batch went to their local Ronald McDonald House, the current batch will go to the homeless.

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WWW: Bringing Warmth, Yarn Subs and 10 Facts About Sweaters

I like the way they think.

We’ve just discovered yarnsub.com, a rather clever website dedicated to helping you find substitutions for yarns for your projects. There’s good info on different types of specific yarns, but also more generally the whys and wherefores of yarn substitution. And there’s a helpful discussion of my favourite topic: swatching!

Note that it’s a work in progress, so there are limitations on the substitutions that can be suggested, but they’re working on expanding the database further.

A charming video profile of knitter Connie Smigarowski of Calgary, who knits mittens for children in need.

Mary Code of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, has been knitting for charity for 70 years, since her father taught her to knit during the Second World War. Every year she makes hundreds of items to donate: last year, it was 200 sets of mitts and hats, and 50 additional pairs of mittens. She still has the needles she learned to knit with, but she has “retired” them.

A moving memoir from Ann Hood: “Knitting Through Grief”.

I do rather enjoy this time of year, and newspaper editors’ attempts to find light-hearted and seasonal filler items… Courtesy of the Chicago Tribute, “10 things you might not know about sweaters”. Amongst ‘gems’ like “A cardigan worn by a man is sometimes called a mandigan”, there are actually some fun and interesting facts!

The Prince in his vest.

Susan’s design

Courtesy of the Daily Mail, Susan Crawford’s pattern for a vintage-inspired Solider vest like the one that Prince George was wearing… Susan’s pattern was published in her 2012 book, Coronation Knits.

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