Knitting Mondays: What’s On Our Needles

Cheerful and warming.

I may have mentioned this before, but it’s cold where I am.

To combat the cold, I am knitting mittens; but not any old mittens – Fair Isle mittens. Stranded colorwork makes the warmest mittens, as all those strands in the back form an extra layer, providing terrific insulation.

I didn’t really have a design in mind when I started, I just knew I needed the strands for warmth. (This may be the first time I’ve designed something considering the wrong side first.) I grabbed three colors of wool, cracked open my favorite Fair Isle books, picked a few stitch patterns and did a bit of quick charting. Presto: a warm and wonderful Fair Isle sampler, with that much-needed layer of insulation.


If you’re in need of warmth, we’ve got a couple of Fair Isle designs in the new! Winter issue – these should get you started:

Chrysanthemums and Shetlander.


... and beautiful!

Ninja-bonus giveaway!

Silk Road Socks by Hunter Hammersen

It’s been a few weeks since our last knitting contest. Let’s remedy that right now!

This time, the prize is a copy of the brand-new book, Silk Road Socks, by Hunter Hammersen. [Winner’s choice of print or digital version.] You can peek inside at all the sock patterns on the book’s Ravelry page. The Knitalong has already started, and you’ll find it here.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Monday, January 24, at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a  skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

Prize value: 26.95 print, 16.95 digital.

Can’t wait? Don’t blame you. You can buy your copy here.

WWW: Yarnbombers Needed in Scotland, Grand Theft Needle & Hot Knits!

Wow. Just wow.

The Knitted Bliss blog brings to our attention an absolutely stunning modification of a Knitty pattern: a shrug inspired by the Pomatomus socks. Bravo Jen!

The first Vogue Knitting Live event takes place this weekend in New York City. It promises to be a fun weekend of shopping, classes and socializing.

Organizers of the annual Leith Festival in Scotland are seeking contributions from knitters with the aim of “dressing” the woodland area where the festival is held.

A enterprising 14-year old 8th grader in Wisconsin is knitting her way to Europe: she’s selling hats and scarves at a local arts marketplace to raise the funds for an educational trip this summer. You go, girl!

Awesome: a knitting chart generator developed as a demonstration application of the Mathematica mathematical programming language.

Ms. Zappa

For your calendar: Diva Zappa, daughter of late musician Frank, has an exhibition of knitted works at the Maison Bertaux Gallery in Soho, London, running February 4 to June 1st.

And in other news, a Cincinnati man was recently arrested for stealing knitting needles from a car.

Spinning: The Woolen and the Worsted

This past Saturday my spinning group took a field trip to The Spinning Loft.

One of our group of our group is in the market for a new wheel, so we piled 6 spinning women into an SUV big enough to hold 4 Schacht Matchlesses in the way back. We may have sung the Partridge Family theme.

Surprisingly, our wheel shopper isn't buying a Matchless.

While our wheel shopping spin sister tried wheels the rest of us shopped and spun.

I feel deeply in love with this Yarn Hollow roving, 50% Cormo/50% Alpaca.

You cannot deny my love.

My question to the room was – how would you spin it, woolen or worsted?

The room answered, annoyingly, with another question, “What will you make with it?”. I have no idea. I’ve just hit first base with this fiber, I’m not ready to commit.

So I sampled. Yes, you heard me right, I did what the books and teachers all recommend, sampled. They are very wee samples, but samples all the same.

Boy are they different:

Woolen on the left; worsted on the right.

The samples were spun from a short length of fiber that I split vertically, so I was working with the same colors on both. They are both soft, but the woolen spun on the left is lofty and puffy, and softer than the worsted spun. It brings out the best qualities of the Cormo. The worsted spun is smoother, shiny and has a heavier, drapey hand. The colors are darker. It looks and feels more like the alpaca part of the fiber equation.

I like them both, and of course, the wee samples raised more questions, among them: What type of stitches would I use, both lace and texture would look crispy and shiny-fabulous in the worsted. But the woolen would give them a soft almost blurry look.

I decided to spin the fiber woolen. I like the soft look right now and I can spin woolen much faster than worsted. I also decided that I will sample more often.

Our wheel shopping spin sister decided on Majacraft Suzie.

WWW: Wool for winter; end of an era; giant birthday cardi.

Crafting a recovery: a wonderful piece in the New York Times. Ready a hanky.

A giant cardigan to celebrate the 900th anniversary of Cardigan, in Wales.

Also in the UK, a great story about a new-generation company helping to bring the British wool industry back!

Want to bring us home?

If you’d like to create your own little wool industry, consider the contest from Juniper Farms. Enter to win a flock of sheep. Really!

The Globe and Mail suggests that sweaters might be just thing to keep us Canadians warm through this cold winter… Seriously, some excellent sweater fashion eye-candy, a sensible video on how to care for wool fabrics, and a fun bonus demonstration from a stylist on how to wear scarves like a red-carpet queen.

So sorry to see you go!

We spotted an announcement from Mags Kandis on her blog about the end of Mission Falls yarns and patterns. We’ll miss the Mission Falls yarn and Mags’ charming designs for it very much. Mags has colorful new things in the works, the blog hints. We’ll be looking forward to seeing them!

A nice piece about graffiti knitters in New Zealand.

Image courtesy Sandra Dea/Toronto Star.

A knitting club started by an art teacher at a high school in Toronto has attracted participation from both boys and girls, and is bringing together students from all backgrounds in a very multicultural neighborhood.

Spinning: A Winner Plus a Little Something That Makes Me Smile

Our winner of a $30 Gift Certificate to any store at The Fiber Cooperative is comment number 29 – Betsy M.

Hooray! Happy spinning Betsy!

Some days all I need is just a little something to make me smile. I love color and I try to infuse as much as I can into every nook and cranny of my day.

Take spinning leaders, for example.

What else will you do with your leftovers?

I use leftover sock yarn as my spinning leaders. It works wonderfully and it’s all kinds of colorful. The bobbins above are strung with Koigu, aren’t they fun? Just what I need on a gray winter day.

Knitting Mondays: What’s on our needles

A few of you blog readers have shown curiosity about what the Knitty staff is knitting, so we’re adding a feature to our Knitting Mondays called What’s on our needles. Literally what we’re knitting, or have finished knitting, dream about knitting or are struggling with knitting.

First up is Jillian, with a cautionary tale about gauge.

Thanks to a friend who is about to have her first granddaughter, I got to knit Joelle Hoverson’s Baby Bonnet from her newish book More Last Minute Knitted Gifts. It’s an adorable vintage-y knit , and a quick  3.5 stitches to the inch. I chose super soft Saphira, a superwash merino yarn from Southwest Trading Company. I swatched, got gauge, and knit the hat in just a few hours.

About halfway through I started to get that nagging feeling that I love to ignore. Something wasn’t right, the hat seemed really big for a newborn baby.

It was true. I had relaxed while knitting and my gauge loosened to 3 stitches to the inch. The hat was big. Before I show you just how big. I will say I knit another bonnet, with the right gauge, with needles two sizes smaller, in under two hours.

Let this photo be a warning, my knitting friends and neighbors, always check your gauge.

I call this photo Bad Baby:

No bad babies were forced to smoke cigars for this photo.

Obsession: Hot Drinks

For me, as for many others, knitting and the kettle are inextricably linked.

I love me a hot drink. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate – even hot water in moments of desperation. If it’s warm, and served in a mug, I’ll drink it.

Although it’s very cold where I am right now – and has been for several long weeks – my love for hot drinks is absolutely not weather-dependent. It has to be pretty darn hot for me to drink iced coffee.

And if I’m going to sit down for any length of time to knit, I put the kettle (or the coffee machine) on.

A couple of things have made my life better, as a hot-drink-obsessed knitter….

1. Good decaf coffee. I dearly love coffee; brutally strong, black coffee. It’s my favourite foodstuff in the entire world, but I really do try to keep the caffeine consumption to a reasonable level. So when I found a good, dark roast decaf that tasted the way I liked it, I was thrilled.

Yes, I would probably rescue this from a house fire.

2. A teapot that keeps itself warm. The Guy Degrenne Salam teapot is brilliant: it has a felt-lined stainless steel cover that allows you make a pot of tea and keep knitting without stressing about your tea going cold.  They’re not inexpensive, but amortized out over the number of times I’ve used it, I’ve got more value from this than anything else I’ve ever bought.

WWW: Contest Winners; How to Crochet A Bull Cozy; Woolen Octopus Attacks!

The winner of the Lisa Souza BFL sock yarn is comment number 742, Bridgette.

The winner of the Cuckoo Mitten kit using The Loopy Ewe Solid Series yarn is comment number 3005, Eileen.

Congratulations to the winners and a big thank you to the wonderful fiber folk for donating prizes!

You thought I was kidding about the octopus, didn't you?

Some truly excellent guerilla knitting (woolen octopus streetcar attack!) in Japan [see right].

A video of the Wall Street Bull yarnbombing in progress – outstanding finishing skills on display.

The Toledo Main Library is hosting a collection of rare and wonderful knitting images.

Rare Purls: Knitting Images from the Victorian Age through World War II, features 85 images and items from the private collection of Ellen Foley, a local resident.  The collection includes lithographs, engravings, photogravures, magazines, children’s books, and ceramic plates, all showing knitters in action.  A portion of the exhibition focuses on war-related items: patterns for knitting for troops from World Wars I and II, and even a replica of a World War II-era Red Cross sock knitting kit.

The exhibition runs until February 1st.

An article from the Times in London about how knitting is part of a program to help schoolchildren from non-English speaking families in the UK improve their English language skills.

Sadly only available on the UK, a BBC program from the series Great British Railway Journeys. The host takes a trip along the eastern coast of England from Filey to Scarborough, and learns about traditional gansey knitting patterns.

Starting the year off with yarn & a giveaway!

Remember I was going to spin some Southern Cross Fibre BFL and Merino?

Well I did:

BFL left - it's a little hairy, and Merino right

Then I did some plying:

This marl I like!

I couldn’t wait to see what these two would look like as a piled yarn. I spun and plied most of this over 3 days – I actually woke up with sore calves in the morning! I love these colors together, and yes, they even marl in some places. I’m not usually a fan of marled yarn.

It’s about 500 yards, 15 wpi. I spun the singles woolen and piled it to balance, because I wanted a softer yarn to be knit into something where abrasion/piling won’t be an issue and that needs drape, this shawl – Annis.

I really enjoyed the thinking about the structure of handspun yarn and how it presents itself in knitting. More please.

How about a contest to kick off our spinning year?!

A $30 Gift Certificate to any store at The Fiber Cooperative!

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Wednesday, January 5, at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a  skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

Good luck and happy spinning!