What’s What Wednesdays

WWW: On crossover art, sculpture and brainiacs

Devoted Knitty fan, Ilehlia of Ontario, shared the astonishing street art of Ann Arbor’s David Zinn.  His art is lively, humorous, engaging and appeals to all ages. Our particular favorite was his homage to knitting:

Knitting on the sidewalk with a flying pig as one does...

Knitting on the sidewalk with a flying pig as one does…


Oklahoma knitters are taking part in a massive knitted piece set to go on display in Tulsa in the Brady Arts District.  The project “The Unbearable Absence of Landscapes” requires 4,000 knitted squares and will cover the entire outdoor facade of the gallery.

I see trees of green.... ...I see skies of blue

Sing with me:  I see trees of green….
…I see skies of blue


As further evidence that fiber artists are brainiacs, look what happened when researchers and fiber artists combined science, technology and art!  These knitted masterpieces are designed directly via the brain activity of subjects listening to classical music!

Brain waves interpreted!

This is your brain, this is your brain knitted.  Any questions?


Geometric designs often inspire knit designs, and this piece is absolutely no exception.  Artist Atelier YokYok has created a courtyard string sculpture that is jaw dropping!  I see cables, but you may see increases/decreases or color work.  Magnificent!

Installation_in_Courtyard-600x398


We have great news for the world domination efforts of knitters and crocheters!  First there was this video game, and now there’s news that Yoshi’s Woolly World has just been released in Europe (and is expected in North America in just a few months)!  Yoshi’s promises to be popular with gamers and strengthens our worthy world domination cause!  (If only they can figure out a way to let us play and knit simultaneously…)

630x

Proof that knitters and crocheters will someday rule the world!

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WWW: A big crochet project, a big restoration project, and big recognition for a big name.

So much greatness in this.

This week is “Not Strictly Knitting But Entirely Awesome”: Man spends six years crocheting a Super Mario blanket. I think what I love most about this is that Norweigan crocheter Kjetil Nordin admits he wasn’t working on it consistently… there were other projects in between. So yes, even the ‘craziest’ crafters have problems with UFOs… in his own words

You get a bit sick of such long lasting projects.


Designer, yarn maker and all-around knitting-industry-good-person Debbie Bliss was recently awarded an MBE by The Queen, ‘for services to Hand Knitting and the Craft Industry’.

(New ambition: I want to establish a Knighthood for services to Technical Editing… I’m sure we can make that a thing, no? ;-))


Ooh! If you’re in the Glasgow area, or can get there, the last weekend of August, you should really consider attending this year’s In The Loop conference. The theme of this year’s event is ‘From Craft to Couture’, exploring the craft origins of Scottish knitwear and its current status as a key element of designer collections worldwide. The 3-day event will feature talks from leading knit and textile researchers and knitwear designers and entrepreneurs.

And it’s not all scholarly: there will be a fashion show and market place, too!


Painstaking restoration work.

Absolutely fascinating and jaw-dropping: an article about conservation of a Victorian-era theatre costume. The garment was partially knit and partially crocheted, all by hand, but the most remarkable feature is the decoration. Those aren’t plastic pailettes: there are over 1000 actual real beetle wings sewn onto the garment.

A team led by conservationist Zenzie Tinker spent over 1300 hours on this garment, worn by Ellen Terry, one of the most celebrated and glamorous actresses of the Victorian age, when she played Lady Macbeth at London’s Lyceum Theatre in 1888. She was painted in the dress by John Singer Sargent. The newly restored piece is on display at Smallhythe Place in Kent, U.K.


I actually think this a fantastic idea, and really wonderful, but the less mature part of me also just wants to have fun making up silly captions for this photo.

You might recall that Knitty published a pattern for charming if not entirely anatomically correct a Womb stuffie… here, we find documentation on what is likely the original knitted uterus pattern, conceived (see what I did there?) as a teaching tool.


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WWW: Yarn in video games, knitted short film, GoogleSheepView

She’s coming undone?

Courtesy of BoingBoing, a history of yarn in video games, on the occasion of Electronic Arts’ announcement of its latest game, Unravel. In the words of BoingBoing’s writer, “you play as a tiny yarn character that slowly unravels as it moves through the level. Although that sounds a little like a metaphor for the slow but inexorable march that we are all taking towards death, in Unravel this thread is a versatile tool you can be use as a climbing rope, grappling hook, trampoline, fishing line, and whatever else the game can imagine.”


WOAH. Greg Climer, a fashion designer and faculty member at Parsons School of Design in NYC, is knitting a short film. Yes, every single frame of an animated short film is a knit fabric. He’s got 19 seconds already done, and is hard at work on the rest. He’s not actually hand-knitting it – that would take years and years, at 24 frames a second – but he’s designed it and he’s working with a knitting factory to produce the actual fabric.

Love the creative thinking that has gone into this – of course you can draw pictures with a knit fabric, so this is a natural (if slightly crazy) extension of that.


Well, this is what I’ll be wearing this winter: a Torus Knot cowl. Knitter and mathematician Sarah-Marie Belcastro has been at it again, and her latest design is this beautiful and witty and clever little piece of topology – and gorgeous winter accessory.  This post on the Scientific American blog explains the mathematics and the knitting very nicely.


Sheep on North Yorkshire Moors. Image courtesy Google and GoogleSheepView.

And if you need something a little less ‘thinky’, soothe yourself with GoogleSheepView… a tumblr of images of sheep found on Google Street View. Some fantastic ‘found’ art.


Perfect.

I don’t know that this will make it to GoogleSheepView, but it’s just as relevant:  Not far away from where that above picture was taken, a group of knitters in Baildon in the UK spent World Wide Knit in Public day yarnbombing a sheep statue.

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WWW: Wooly grocery bags, Self-publishing, on Icelandic knitting language

Love these! Yes, it seems like all grocery stores offer reusable bags for sale, but only Waitrose is offering a wooly one. There are two styles, and they are available at two of the central London locations of this upscale supermarket in the UK. They’re made with the wool of the rare-breed Whiteface Dartmoor sheep, one of the UK’s oldest indigenous breeds. Gorgeous and practical.


Really enjoying this blog series about designing and publishing, from gifted designer Kate Davies. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. She writes about the whys and wherefores, and the challenges and rewards of deciding to self-publish, as an independent designer, and highlights some who are self-publishing.


An absolutely fascinating article about the evolution of the Icelandic language, and how a knitting-language committee is helping the language adapt and evolve to meet new needs and technologies and usages. It’s as much about globalization and history as it is about finding the right word for the cable cast on.


Interesting thinking on the overuse of the word “craft” in today’s marketplace, from UK furniture maker Gareth Neal.


It’s World Wide Knit in Public Day on Saturday. Ready?


Knit photo frames! Clever and adorable! The page is in French, but the picture is fairly self-explanatory.

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WWW: Great London Yarn Crawl; Crocheted Playground; World Wide Knit in Public

This is amazing. Seriously. Lisa P‘s version of my Bigger on the Inside Shawl. She used a wonderful variegated yarn for the lace portion, and then added her own lower edging… the Fourth Doctor’s scarf.

I bow down to your cleverness and fandom.


Today in Not Strictly Knitting: A Canadian couple, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam and Charles MacAdam of Nova Scotia, has created a crocheted playground. The installation of hand-crocheted hanging nets is one of a series of playgrounds they’ve created. This version, called Harmonic Motion, is open for viewing and climbing upon at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.


It’s June! That means it’s time to start knitting outside! This year’s World Wide Knit in Public Day is Saturday June 13th, and look for events near you at the website.

Our own Amy will be joining the team at Shall We Knit in Waterloo for their annual World Wide Knit in Public celebration that weekend. She’s also teaching a couple of her popular and fun classes. More info here.


A little further along in the year, but still close enough to start planning, the Great London Yarn Crawl has announced a bigger and better event for their third year. In addition to the crawl, Saturday September 5th, there will be a pop-up marketplace at Chelsea Old Town Hall in central London, serving as the kick-off point for the Yarn Crawl and featuring over 30 indie makers, designers and artisans from London and around the UK. And stay tuned for news of special guests…


Friend of Knitty designer Kristen Jancuk talks sense on the topic of swatching.


Image courtesy the artists. Black walnut frame, black walnut carving, silk, linen, merino wool hand dyed.

Love this: a mini-film series of six interviews with makers from the Canadian maritimes who work in different media. In particular, I adored Fibre & Wood, a look into the work of couple Sanna Rahola and Douglas Drdul. Sanna is a fibre artist and Douglas is a woodcarver, and although they work independently, their pieces come together as beautiful collisions and contrasts of texture, light and structure.


Roadtrip?! Simply Socks Yarn Company is celebrating their tenth anniversary this month, with a whole load of festivities and sales and special events at their store location in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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WWW: Great Canadian Knitting Tour; Pattern Writing Online Class; Alice In Wonderland Yarnbomb

Knitted music video of the week: Much less sad than last week’s, I promise! In which a yarny-girl starts her day. Cleverly created by artists Janey Moffatt and Adam Clements for artist Benbo, and entirely cute.


Sylvia and her husband, hitting the road

Author, knitter, designer and master storyteller Sylvia Olsen is partway through her “Great Canadian Knitting Tour“. She started May 1st in Victoria, B.C., and will reach St. John’s Newfoundland June 15th. Along the way, she’s visiting yarn shops, teaching workshops and telling stories about her life and the lives and work of the Coast Salish knitters of British Columbia.

Sylvia’s objective is to meet as many people in the Canadian knitting community as possible. To exchange stories about knitting and knitters in Canada. She’s visiting book shops, yarn stores, libraries, museums and private homes across the nation. When it’s all over, Olsen will share her discoveries in Knitting Stories II, the sequel to her best-selling recent collection of essays, Knitting Stories: Personal Essays and Seven Coast Salish-inspired Knitting Patterns.


A little bit of tasteful self-promotion: as a follow up to her book about Pattern Writing, our own Kate (that’s me!) is running an interactive online course on Pattern Writing. Suitable for designers of all levels who wish to write instructions for their knitting project, this class guides you through the entire process of writing a pattern – from the actual instructions through to the test knitting, technical editing and publication process. The class is all about discussion, and there will be exercises and activities focused on helping you develop your own style and style sheet, and getting you well on your way to writing patterns. If you’ve got something you need help writing out, or you feel your existing patterns need a bit of improvement, this class can help. Bring your questions and be prepared to chat and share and discuss with me. It starts May 30th and runs to July 12th – work at your own pace!


Image from The Northern Echo website.

Yarnbombers have struck Saltburn Pier in the UK again. This pier has seen many wonderful installations in the past – including an amazing one for the London Olympics, but this year’s Alice In Wonderland-themed work may be my favorite. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the book.


Celebrity Knitter Alert: Actor Nicholas Hoult was taught to knit by Charlize Theron, on the set of Mad Max Fury Road. I would very much like to see some of those pictures…

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WWW: Preserving Traditional Newfoundland Knitting; Street Lace; On Cost of Making

Classic Newfoundland patterns and designs, including the famous “trigger mitts”. Image from CBC website.

Love this: CBC profiles two Newfoundland-based knitters who are working to preserve traditional Newfoundland knitting patterns. Shirley Scott – known as “Shirl the Purl” has been collecting samples of mittens, hats and scarves, and the patterns used to make them. She has passed her collection on to Christine LeGrow, the owner of Spindrift Handknits, who aims to keep these patterns in circulation, and keep this important part of Canada’s social history alive.


Wonderful, clever and moving: a music video for band James, created entirely with yarn.


I’m very excited about this upcoming exhibition ‘A Whole Other World: Sub-Culture Craft’ at the Racine Art Museum in Racine, WI.

The show, focused on artists inspired by Doctor Who, Star Wars, Steampunk, and Superheroes, explores the intersection of art with cultural subjects that inspire devoted “fan” followings. A Whole Other World features a variety of objects and images, from quilts to prints to sculpture – either works directly inspired by these themes, or by the winding of these kinds of topics in-and-out of popular culture,.

I’m excited because it sounds absolutely amazing. Oh and also, the original Bigger on the Inside scarf is part of the show.


Image from Huffington Post website.

Not Strictly Knitting, but utterly beautiful: Street artist NeSpoon uses traditional lace patterns, textures and structures in very non-traditional ways.


This week’s thought-provoking discussion: “What Is Your Cost of Making?” Looking at both the cost to the knitter in the retail store, and the larger issue of cost all along the production cycle of the materials, this blog post addresses head-on the question of how much we’re willing to spend to make a sweater.

Anecdotally, I see an interesting divergence in the way knitters think of the cost of the materials: is this an item of clothing, and should the yarn cost be considered in the context of a ‘clothing budget’, or is this a hobby, and is the yarn cost considered more in the context of ‘entertainment value’? Some of this is driven, of course, by the knitter’s available budget, but it seems to me to be an interesting demonstration of the shift in how we “use” knitting – we’re not (just) doing it because we need clothes. Many knitters do it because they want ‘entertainment’, or the satisfaction of making, or to express a creative impulse – and the money considerations become very different. Although paying $30 for a pair of socks is unquestionably outrageous, that figure can feel a little different if you consider the value of a couple of week’s worth of crafting pleasure and the satisfaction and comfort of making a custom-fit item that you are proud to show off.

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WWW: Spies and Artists and Cultural Shifts

Image courtesy Future Museum/Sanquhar Tollbooth Museum, Copyright Dumfries & Galloway Council.

Virtual museum visit: The Future Museum of South West Scotland makes many of their exhibits available for viewing and exploration online. Love this collection of items showing the history and evolution of Sanquhar Knitting. Sanquhar knitting, at its peak in the 18th century, features very distinct patterning, always worked in black and white, and was typically used for gloves. There are many objects for viewing, beautifully photographed, with lots of background information. I also loved the collection of vintage knitting patterns.


Fabulous story about Phyllis Doyle, a British spy who used knitting to conceal codes while working behind enemy lines during World War Two. Her story is incredible enough, even without the knitting connection.


Interesting discussion about where craft is going, and cultural shifts in the industry: designer Karie Westermann writes a thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis of trends she’s seeing in the craft culture and industry (and yes, it is an industry). And Ellen Gill has written an equally interesting and important post in response. You may not agree with everything they say, but their thinking is important.


I wonder who did the tech edit for this?

Fun, on the LoveKnitting blog! 10 Things You Don’t Know About Knitting! Did you know that the first knitting book was written in the 17th century? I didn’t!


1955 Clare McCardell dress, featuring a Picasso-designed fabric. Image courtesy Textile Museum of Canada.

And today in ‘Not Strictly Knitting But Still Very Cool’. If you’re anywhere near Toronto this summer, get yourself to the Textile Museum of Canada. Two things there merit your attention: the annual More Than Just A Yardage Sale, May 29 & 30th, is a fundraiser for the museum. It’s a sale of textiles and related items: fabrics, yarn, books, notions and supplies. There’s always a selection of vintage clothes, and I adore digging around in the UFOs piles. The inventory comes from donations, and many crafters donate unloved projects. I’ve bought half-complete projects to salvage tools and yarn and patterns.

And the other item is an exhibition: Artist Textiles: From Picasso to Warhol. Curated by British collectors Geoffrey Rayner and Richard Chamberlain, the exhibition features a rarely-seen selection of more than 200 printed textiles designed by some of the 20th century’s preeminent artists. It runs until October 4th.

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WWW: Cats in Hats, Yarn Shop Day, Math for Knitters

The news coming from Nepal this week is terrible. The damage from the earthquake is catastrophic, and there has been much loss of life and property. Living conditions are very difficult.

It seemed like a good time to remind you that the lovely ladies of Mason Dixon Knitting raise funds all year round for The Mercy Corps, an international relief and development organization. Buy any of their three blanekt patterns: Mitered Crosses, Cornerstone and A Light in the Window, and all proceeds will be donated. Organizations have been struggling to get on the ground in Nepal to assist; The Mercy Corps were already there when the earthquake struck. There were 90 workers in the country, and cash donations are what they need to be most productive and helpful.


No words.

Festoon your Feline with Fiber – or, Cats in Hats. Designer Sara Thomas has just published a book of knit and crochet patterns for headwear for the feline members of the family. She admits that only one of her two cats enjoys playing model: her second cat, Sinclair, prefers to ‘attack’ the creations, rather than wear them. Having known a lot of cats in my life, I’m actually impressed that she’s found any cat willing to model…


This Saturday is Yarn Shop Day in the UK. See this map to find participating shops… there will be special activities and sales and giveaways and all sorts of fibery fun.


Yes, it’s that time of year: the baseball season! And nothing goes better with baseball than knitting.  And you know what that means: Stitch & Pitch. There’s a listing of events at the link.


Looking forward to other summery yarny things to do: the planning for the 2015 edition of Toronto’s TTC Knitalong is kicking off. This year’s date is Saturday August 22nd. Follow the blog or the Twitter account for updates.


Combining some of my favourite things: coffee, yarn and science! Knitter and felter Lynn has run a series of tests to prove the effectiveness of a felted wool coffee-pot cozy.


Our own Kate (hey! that’s me!) has got a few new online classes in the works: this Wednesday and Wednesday the 13th of May, she’s running a two-part web seminar on the topic of Math for Knitters. Designed to help you conquer the tricky numbers problems in knitting, the first part focuses on yarn shop and pattern math: how to use a bit of simple arithmetic to help you confidently make yarn substitutions, to track your progress in a pattern, and to handle challenging instructions like “at the same time” and “increase evenly across”. Part two focuses on gauge and garment math – what to do if you can’t match gauge, and strategies for garment alterations.

Even if you can’t attend live, you can listen ‘after the fact’ – and indeed, registration gives you full on-demand access for a year. Info on part one here, and part two here. Attend live if you can, I think the best part of these web seminars is the live q&a.


With tongue planted very firmly in cheek, humor site McSweeney’s writes about knitting circles… “THERE ARE NO EGOS IN OUR KNITTING GROUP“. Spoiler alert: there are, and they are kinda hysterical.

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WWW: Political Pincushions; On the Wrong Side; Knitting Dinner Theatre

The waistband of a 1960s-era Chanel wool suit. (Swoon.)

Definitely not knitting, but definitely great: The blog “INSIDE OUT” is connected to an exhibition at Kent State Museum, and it focuses on the insides of garments. In the words of the curator…

Fashion history usually focuses on changing silhouettes with the rise and fall of hemlines or the tightening and loosening of waistlines. Underlying these external shifts are structural changes that appear only when the garments are laid out and examined closely. Creating three-dimensional garments from bolts of cloth demands solving certain basic problems: how to finish the edges, how to fasten the garments, how to shape the material around the body’s curves. Dressmakers and tailors have addressed these problems with a number of ingenious methods. Some of these techniques reappear in every era while others are specific to a period. Technological innovations have had a direct effect on construction techniques. The invention of snaps and zippers obviously affected designs, as did wider looms and sewing machines. This exhibition tracks these changes with a careful selection of representative pieces, which are mounted in ways to allow visitors to take a close look at the interiors.

There are lots of fantastic photos on the blog.


Love this! As the UK election approaches, the group Knit for Peace has been hosting workshops to teach you how to make your own pin-cushion/voodoo doll of the crafters’ least favourite political candidates. They’re non-partisan, providing instruction for all of the major parties…


Members of cast of “Stitch, Bitch n’ Die”.

Fun: a theatre group in Wisconsin is stretching the skills of some of the cast of their latest play by demanding they learn to knit. The Portage Area Community Theatre group is putting on a murder mystery play, “Stitch, Bitch n’ Die”, written by Minnesota native Joseph Scrimshaw. Attendees are encouraged to bring knitting to the show – and prizes will be awarded to knitters who stitch their way through the show. The play’s action focuses on a group of knitters who call themselves ‘K.U.I’ (Knitting Under the Influence), and takes places around their favorite yarn store.


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