2010: A good year for knitting

One of my favorite reads at the end of every calendar year is Clara Parkes’ Year in Review at Knitters Review. I’ll never forget the thrill I got when she named Clapotis “Design of the Year” in her 2005 edition.

Well, one of the reasons we re-launched this blog was to bring you the voices of our editorial staff [Amy, Jillian, Kate, and occasionally Mandy], and we like stuff too. So without cribbing from our friend, Clara [we’ll peek at hers after we write ours], let’s see what the Knitty crew are taking away from 2010.

thump, thump, thump

Amy says… My favorite aspect of 2010 was technology and where it’s taking us.

Knitters, crafters, and just about everyone else latched on to Twitter like a lifeline, sharing information from the banal to the beneficial. As I’m the keeper of the Knitty Twitter feed, the voice you hear there is mine [hence all the ukulele references].

Knitters [and others] have also recently discovered Pinterest, and are pinning their inspirations, aspirations and delusions on their own virtual bulletin boards to share with anyone who wants to peek.

2010 was the year we re-launched this blog, learning all about WordPress and the good and bad that goes with it. Mostly good, and we’re really glad to be back. The KnittyBlog has given us a place for our frequent contests, and we’re having a blast giving away great prizes and look forward to doing more of this in the years to come.

We also moved our mailing list to our own server this year, something we’d been meaning to do for a while. We think it’s pretty awesome.

2010 was the year I hacked my first computer, so that the main Knitty laptop could stay safely at home when I traveled for work.

Remix by Berroco

With all the good that technology brought to 2010, I can’t ignore the fact that it was a crap of a year for technology for Knitty in particular. We had some serious server challenges and fought our way through them. No growth without a little grunt work, right? It was all worth it, though the number of mint Oreo cookies consumed in the Knitty office [by me, that is] in early spring, to get through the worst of it, was staggering.

I also have a thing for cool stuff, and 2010 was no slacker when it comes to shwag. My personal favorites: the new Lexie Barnes Glitterati line [glitter vinyl makes my heart beat faster], the new Field Journal Notebook from Tom Bihn [so new, we haven’t written about it yet, but watch the upcoming winter issue for my review], and Signature’s new circular needles.

My final favorite thing, as a non-wool knitter, were all the innovative non-wool yarns that were introduced in 2010. At the top of my list was Berroco’s Remix, a blend of nylon, cotton, acrylic, silk and linen fibers, all recycled. A lightweight tweedy yarn of this quality is something I’d never seen before, and one that had warmth and environmental sensitivity — that deserves kudos! Thank you, Berroco!


Jillian says... My favorite idea for 2010 was doing your own thing.

Two yarn lovers, in conjunction with wonderful partners, launched ‘just what I always wanted’ yarn lines: Pam Allen launched everyone’s new go-to basic yarns in Quince and Co; Jared Flood launched his textural and tweedy Shelter Yarn.

A whole bunch of really talented designers self published (or published with small independent publishers) lovely and true-to-themselves pattern books this year: Miriam Felton, Stephen West, Ann Weaver, Cookie A, and Gudrun Johnston are some of the stand outs. And though they weren’t released in 2010, Ysolda Teague’s two self-published books — Whimsical Little Knits and Whimsical Little Knits 2 — are the success stories of this year, allowing Ysolda to feature her work to retailers in a charming 4-booth space on the TNNA [The National Needlework Association] trade-show floor.

But my number one favorite thing for 2010, because of the quality of information, timeliness and the out and out balls it took to publish: Shannon Okey’s The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design.

Signature Circulars are very popular among the Knitty staff

Kate says… My favorite thing about 2010 was the books – both paper and digital.

Tons of really amazing books were published by big publishers, small publishers, and even designers working alone at their kitchen tables. 2010 saw the release of so many amazing knitting books, on topics both broad and fabulously narrow.

We saw wonderful pattern collections, we saw excellent new teaching books, we saw books about the usual topics like socks and sweaters and adorable things for babies. 2010 also added books about finishing and cables and Entrelac, and Nordic knitting, and lace (such wonderful books about lace) and collections of patterns for dogs and wild animals and fast food and monsters; and the republication of some key works by goddesses Starmore and Zimmermann.

Go (fill in your favorite country here), go!

And because I don’t just read about knitting, but sometimes I actually do some, too, I was made extraordinarily happy in 2010 by the release of Signature Needle Arts‘ circular needles [above left] and the relaunch of Regia World Ball Color sock yarn [right].

WWW: Rare Beasts & Art

Rare and beautiful.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the UK is a charitable organization dedicated to conserving Britain’s native farm livestock. Founded in 1973, not a single breed has gone extinct since then, and they are doing important work to protect both the animals and small farms and holdings who keep them.

They have recently launched a Wool Exchange, allowing members to advertise wool and fleeces from rare breed sheep for sale or exchange. The listings are fabulously breed-specific. (Note that the advertisers are small, independent suppliers – they likely would only ship within the UK.)

Bonus adorable sheep pictures on the site, too!

Hand-knitting would be ok, though, yes?

Toronto’s Drake Hotel is currently hosting an exhibition called “Wrap Your Head Around This“. The exhibition is interested in how the physical features and the iconography of cloth combined with traditional textile practices contributes to overall meaning. Collectively, the artists included use traditional methods in textiles for political, social, historical and cultural commentary.

Los Angeles-based artist Lisa Anne Auerbach knits political messages into sweater sets, simultaneously rendering them comfortable and uncomfortable. Her work “Take This Knitting Machine And Shove It” has pride of place at the entrance to the hotel.

The exhibition also features some of Jenny Hart’s embroidered portraits of rock stars.

Ok, it's not knitting, but it's still pretty cool.

The Wall Street Bull in New York City was (briefly) yarnbombed this past week, just before the big storm hit.

Martha Stewart apparently will be needing us in the new year….

And even sheep get the winter blues… photo of the front page of The Guardian newspaper last Thursday. Sheep in County Antrim, Ireland, have been dyed blue so that they can easily be spotted in the snowdrifts.

Dreaming about 2011

Lustrous locks

I am a list maker. I love making lists. This time of the year I carry a little notebook and dream of all of things I might do in the next 365 days or so.

Occasionally, I look back at the last year and take stock of what I learned.

In my spinning life in 2010 the biggies for me were:

  • Learning to spin fat yarn
  • Learning to spin art yarn
  • And it really, finally, hit home for me about how important and varied sheep breeds are, and how lucky we are to have so many to spin with.

For 2011 my big three (so far) are:

  • Knitting with handspun. I find handspun yarn so different than millspun yarn — it has a liveliness and feistiness that I adore. How do you knit it to its best advantage? What about the stitches used? What about the different breeds?
  • Travel for spinning. Gotta go this year and I want it to be a big one. Maybe SOAR, or Rhinebeck or Taos.
  • Color. I want color to click in my brain this year, and my brain likes to fight this one. Good thing The Spinning Loft is bringing Deb Menz to town.

What are on your lists? What did you accomplish in 2010? What are you dreaming about for 2011?

It’s official: we’ve gone nutty.

And now it’s Monday, and the last contest isn’t even over yet, but we’re doing it ONE MORE TIME! Because we take holiday madness quite seriously over here at Knitty.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Wednesday, December 29, at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a terrifically difficult [cough] skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

What’s the prize this time, you ask? It’s a kit for the gorgeous Cuckoo Mittens from the current issue!

we are cuckoo for these mittens. no, really.

Cuckoo mitts kit

contains this gorgeous yarn:
The Loopy Ewe Solid Series Fingering [100% Superwash Merino; 220 yds per 55g skein]
MC Robin’s Egg Blue; 1 skein
CC Blackberry; 1 skein

Retail price for kit: $20.50

We’ll choose the winner at random, which means anyone has the same chance  to win as anyone else! So enter, and good luck to you all!

Ninja strikes again! Another contest!

What is this…Thursday contests every week? Not even close. We just feel like giving away stuff and it happens to be on a Thursday again this time! I know, we’re out of control. It’s fun.

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Monday, December 27 at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a terrifically difficult [cough] skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

What’s the prize this time, you ask?

this loveliness is the Emerald City colorway

1 skein of Lisa Souza Superwash BFL sock yarn
Fiber: 100%Blue Faced Leicester Superwash wool hand dyed
4 ounce skeins/ 465 yards
Needle size for socks 0-1 US /2.0-2.25mm  suggested
Care: Machine wash and dry
Value: $18 US

Can’t wait to see if you’re the lucky winner? Lisa Souza herself has given us a special discount to share with you: Free Shipping through January 6th, if you mention KnittyBlog when you place your order.

Good luck everyone!

The lucky winner of the Briar Rose contest from last Thursday: Nancy H, comment #6176. Congratulations, Nancy! Happy knitting!

You didn’t win? Well, at Briar Rose has given us a special discount to share with all our readers: 10% off through the end of December. Just use code KnitBR.

WWW: Yarn-bombers, chickens and other wild animals

"Darn cute"

The Edmonton Journal has a charming little piece about the final rush of gift-crafting. Perhaps the journalist herself is a crafter and was perhaps looking for a quick article to write so she could get back to her projects?

The staff at Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum were thrilled to see the museum yarn-bombed in November, proudly posting the pictures [one shown at left] to their Facebook page.

Planning for 2011? Take a peek at the comprehensive round-up of knitting and fiber-related events at Knitters Review.

We love that Sarah Keen’s book Knitted Wild Animals has made it onto a New York Times’ Style section list of notable books.

Insert chicken-related pun here.

Knitters in the UK are making “chickinis” for rescued battery hens. Many of the hens are featherless when they arrive at the Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare, and are outfitted with the little jackets to keep them warm until they regrow their own feathers.

Pattern and more information here.

An absolutely stunning pair of hand-knitted gloves featuring Sanquhar patterning, on the website for the BBC’s series “A History of the World in 100 Objects”, contributed by the Dumfries Museum.

How Do You Choose?

Southern Cross Fibre Club December 2010 Superwash BFL

When you find yourself with an empty wheel how do you choose what to spin next?

I was recently faced with this dilemma, and instead of just grabbing something I went through the choosing more methodically.

I didn’t have any have to spinning, my work and gift spinning are all done.

I didn’t want to do any should do spinning, practicing techniques or sampling breeds.

I have no projects that I specifically want to spin for.

Leaving me wide open to choose. I roamed my stash; friends offered suggestions that I loved: your oldest stashed fiber, a color or fiber you hate or love, a forbidden too special to spin fiber, a fiber with a great memory or story associated with it, something you dyed yourself. You can see why I love my spinning friends.

Then the mail came.

I was lucky enough to get a spot in the Southern Cross Fibre Club this year, and my first shipment came. Superwash BFL in the color Mercury Rising, you can see it above. I felt like the knitting fates (and my mail carrier – I had to sign for it, making it extra special) handed me my answer.

Then my brain started tick, ticking. I have some other Southern Cross fiber that was in the forbidden, too special to spin category because David’s beautiful fiber is so popular, it’s hard to get. But now, since I’ll be getting fiber every month the too special grip has loosened.

Here’s what I decided. A fine-ish 2-ply, for me, that’s probably DK. One ply Superwash BFL in the color Mercury Rising (my first club fiber) and one ply Superwash Merino in the color Katoomba (from my stash).

The mingling of Southern Cross Fibre beauty

How do you choose what to spin next?

Furry GoKnits Bag

It would be an understatement to say I’m an avid knitter. I carry my knitting with me everywhere I go, and I’m always on the lookout for a good bag to hold my portable projects.

Perfect for winter knitting.

I’ve been a fan of the KnowKnits GoKnits bags for years. The small one in particular is the perfect size for a sock project, and it slips tidily into the corner of my bag. I never go anywhere without a little bag with a sock project.

GoKnit bags are made of a durable rip-stop nylon, and they’ve got a drawstring and and a little strap with a snap that attaches to your belt, or your purse, or fits handily around your wrist. I have one on my belt when I’m teaching, when I’m walking, when I’m at a pub, when I’m on public transport, when I’m waiting to meet my friend at the ballet, and often even in the house.

I’ve got the lime green one, a couple of the camo ones, a silver one, and now, my absolute favorite of the lot, a FURRY ONE! As an inveterate knitter-in-public with a well-developed passion for kitsch, this may well be the best knitting bag ever. Bonus: the fur may be faux, but it’s super soft. Very pettable.

Kamikaze ninja surprise contest!

Virtually out of nowhere comes another contest! We know…we think it’s pretty cool, too!

Leave a comment to this post by Friday, December 17 at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random and post the results on Monday’s blog.

What’s the prize?

Briar Rose Sonoma...will you be the lucky one?

1 skein of Briar Rose Sonoma: Content: 100% wool
Yardage/Wt.: 460 yds/437 m, 8 oz.
Retail price: $32

Can’t wait to see if you’re the lucky winner? Chris at Briar Rose has given us a special discount to share: 10% off through the end of December. Just use code KnitBR.

Good luck to you all!