What’s What Wednesdays

WWW: Squam lives!; tube textile designers tell tales; KneuroKnits for teens with ASD

Like many of you, we were very sad to hear that Squam would not be continuing. But just this week, we heard that a new leader had taken up the reins, and Squam will go on! Hallelujah! Finally something good is happening in 2017.


If you’re lucky enough to be in London this Thursday, you can hear Harriet Wallace-Jones and Emma Sewell of the Wallace Sewell Studio (that’s them above) talk about their approach to textile design through woven fabric.

Who are these women? Well, among other things, they’ve designed fabric for the Tube and Trains that run around London. Click the photo to hear a short clip of them talking about it.


And if you’re in Toronto (or nearby) and know someone 14-18 (or are one yourself) with ASD who’s interested in learning a new skill and interacting with other teens with ASD, you could participate in Holland Bloorview’s KneuroKnits research knitting project. What a cool way to contribute to science!

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WWW: poppies for remembering; poppy patterns; NICU babies in costume; a play inspired by knitting

red knitted poppies cover white pillars of a grand portico

photo courtesy ITV news

In countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, poppies signify remembrance of those who fought in wars and died. In tribute, we wear a poppy on our lapel.

In Godalming, Surrey, they went a step further this year. Volunteers covered the town center with 6000 poppies…–>

It’s beautiful.


Want to make some poppies of your own? Here’s a crochet version with 5 options and a knitted one by our friend, Laura Chau.


I can’t stand it. Tara Fankhauser is the coolest NICU nurse ever. Look at the costumes she created for the little patients she’s caring for.

In related news, when will people learn the difference between knitting and crochet?  It’s not that hard to spot, is it?


I think this may be a first: a stage play inspired by a children’s book about knitting. The Knitting Pattern will be on stage in London (the cool one in England) at the end of November.

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WWW: Cotton and flax back on UK looms; WWI sock club turns to books; all cashmere is not equal (you don’t say)…

Marion Glaser-Baur at the loom at Flax Mill Textiles © Sean and Yvette

A company that has been around for 156 years, and has been making bedsheets for the Queen for at least some of that time, is bringing cotton weaving back to the UK. It’s been done in Italy until recently. I’m so glad to see the historical fiber arts working their way back to the UK, one by one.

And lo and behold, flax is making a comeback too! Meet Flax Mill Textiles.


In heritage coolness, it seems this centenarian book club started out in WWI as a group who knit socks for soldiers. Started because they thought they should be multitasking beyond chatting when knitting, the group buys books for their library with the club dues, and discusses them at their meetings.


Knitters do this all the time, often in our heads, and usually with our hands, but the Daily Mail just figured out that not all cashmere (sweaters) are created equally. You mean not all yarn is the same? GASP.

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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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