WWW: Warming thoughts

one section of the scarf is your signature on the petition

MacMillan Cancer Support in the UK is running a campaign to raise awareness of and force the government to address the issue of “fuel poverty” among cancer patients. Fuel poverty is when someone has to spend more than 10% of their income on energy to heat and power their home. In the UK, 1 in 4 people having cancer treatment struggle to pay their energy bills, and 6 out of 10 people with cancer have had higher energy bills since diagnosis. Visit the site to participate. Enter an answer to the question “what makes you warm?”, and your name and answer will be added to the petition and a section of the giant scarf knitted. The scarf is going to be presented to the UK government.

Watch a live webcam of your section of the scarf being knitted!

A great article from earlier this month in the New York Times about Fair Isle and other colorwork design sweaters in men’s fashion. The slide show is fun.

A Finnish woman and her alpaca, Tess, cheered up residents of a hospital for the chronically ill.  Original story, rough translation. The pictures are magnificent.

Comforting in so many ways.

Eye candy of the highest order.

An online subscription is now available for the magnificent Selvedge magazine. Selvedge offers the superlative textile photography, unparalleled design and peerless writing. Directed towards an international, discerning audience, Selvedge covers fine textiles in every context: fine art, interiors, fashion, travel and shopping.

A New Spinning Magazine, a Spinning Winner and Presents for Myself

Have you seen the new spinning magazine out of England?

YarnMaker Issue 1

It’s called YarnMaker and is a wonderful spinning resource.

I just received the first two issues and haven’t spent much time with them, but what I like so far is: lots of sheep and fleece talk, a two part round up of British spindle makers, natural dyeing, spinning and sheep people out and about, art yarns, history and quick projects.

Mostly, it’s lovely to have a different spinning point of view than our North American one. I’m ready to subscribe.

Our Spinning Winner

The winner of our Miss Babs giveaway is Terri C.

Congratulations and happy spinning!

Remember Miss Babs’ special runs for the month of December. Buy 5 tops and get one free with the code SPINDEC (not to be combined with any other offer, sale, or coupon).

Presents for Me

In the midst of gift making and giving season. I always like to get a little something for myself. Look what arrived on my doorstep this week:

Boatload of Boogie

Amy at Spunky Eclectic had a sale and I fell down the rabbit hole. A little Targhee, a little Shetland (colorway: Morning Breath), Merino blended with cashmere and yak. I am ecstatic and will be happily spinning this gorgeousness very soon.

[Not] knitting on the road

a button on the visor of my friend Nathania's car

For some reason, I seem to have lost most of the last two months.

October was dedicated to a long-awaited work/vacation, followed by two weeks of intensive work so I could get back on the road.

November included visits all over the place, teaching, meeting knitters [my favorite part] and seeing new parts of the country.

During that time, you could often find me in airports, pulling carry-on luggage from gate to gate, which aggravated my carpal tunnel and — as a result — reduced the knitting time I could take advantage of.

my little tubular friend

Thankfully, someone clever at the Knot Hysteria Silk Retreat* reminded me of the goodness that is Traumeel and gave me a little cupful to apply, which lasted almost a week. I’d stopped using it ages ago, and I don’t know why.

Initially recommended to me by someone who uses her hands more intensely than I ever will — Jennie the Potter — Traumeel is a combination of Arnica [a natural herb] with other natural stuff. Arnica is magic. It helps reduce inflammation. Carpal tunnel syndrome is all about inflamed and swollen tissues. I have found I prefer the cream which takes longer to sink in but seems to sink in more thoroughly [the other formulation is a gel]. Within an hour of the first application, my throbbing wrist stopped throbbing. After a week of regular use, I felt human again with hands instead of claws.

Every night, Traumeel on the wrists and sore spots on the forearm, then on with the wrist splints [which is the reason hub has lovingly named me Borg at night] and I’m doing much better.

All of this is my personal experience, and I’m no doctor. You all know this: speak to your own doctor before making any changes that may affect your health, including using homeopathic medicines.

*the retreat deserves its own post.

Some help with your gift knitting

It’s gift knitting season, and time is running short.  Consider these quick-hit projects to get a few names crossed off your list…

Something to keep the head warm…


Sweet and chic




Warm and fun

The Blue Hills snowboarder hat

For the boys.

The Incognito Cowl

Warm in disguise.

The Tudora neckwarmer

Classic and comforting.

A little something for the little ones…

Puppers Finger Puppets

Such fun

Twinkle Toes ballet-style slippers

Dancing the nights away.

The Duck Feet


The Miss Dashwood hat

Possibly the sweetest thing ever.

Gifts for the Home

The Kureyon Tea Kozy

Hot drinks are essential at this time of year.

And if you prefer your warming beverages to be a bit stronger…

Keeping the Claret Cozy

Venezia beaded napkin rings


For hands and feet

If you’re in the mood for some socks, try the Fuzzyfeet felted slippers.

Warm. So very warm.

The Voodoo Wristwarmers

Practical and chic.

The Eda Wristwarmers


Sweet nothings…

The Chevette lace choker


The Nosewarmer

Of course!

And there might not be time to knit a sweater, but a chunky vest hardly takes any time at all…

The Abrazo vest

Quick and warm.

The Boogie Vest

Speedy and snuggly.

The Humphrey vest


If you’ve got a bit more time, perhaps a little bit of lace?

The Loopy & Luscious scribble lace scarf.

Simple and yet so effective.

The Branching Out scarf


The Abby cowl

Remarkably easy, remarkably chic.

If what you want isn’t here, have a look through our archives – there’s something for everyone!

WWW: 2011 Calendars

The new year is approaching fast, and that means it’s time for a new calendar. Here’s a few we’d be proud to hang on our walls…

Our very own Franklin Habit’s Stash of Knitting Cartoons.

It's funny because it's true.

Interweave, as always, has a lovely selection of fiber-arts related calendars – knitting and spinning, and others.

Vogue Knitting offers a stitch-a-day desk calendar.


Accord Publishing offers a pattern-a-day desk calendar.

A year's worth.

If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, there’s the Dishcloth calendar, including patterns from a number of great designers like Kay Gardiner.

Practical and fun.

There’s also some goodies on Etsy…

Sworleybird’s hand-drawn desk calendar

A year of calm.

TheArtofJoy’s really rather adorable printable calendar.

So cute.

And last but not least, here’s the Whip Up calendar, which although isn’t strictly knitting, contains some truly beautiful work from crafters and artisans.


How About A Spinning Giveaway?

Mixed BFL and tussah, what would you make?

Miss Babs Hand Dyed Yarns and Fibers has donated 8 ounces of  80% mixed BFL/20% tussah blend top in her Bog colorway for a giveaway.

If you’d like a chance to win this yummy goodness, leave a comment before Wednesday December 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm EST.

If your comment is chosen by our random number generator, you’ll be asked to answer a skill testing question before being declared the winner.

If you don’t win our giveaway, don’t fret. Miss Babs is offering a fiber special that runs through December 31, 2010.

Buy 5 tops and get one free with the code SPINDEC (not to be combined with any other offer, sale, or coupon). Perfect if you’re planning a handspun sweater for next year.

Beatnik Contest Winner

The lucky winner of our Beatnik contest is comment # 2300, picked by random.org’s random number generator: Crysta! Congrats! And many thanks to Berroco, who generously provided the prize, and Norah Gaughan for designing such a terrific sweater.

Have a look at some of the amazing Beatnik FOs and WIPs…. we look forward to seeing our contest winner’s version.

Stockinette‘s in grey


Susan Pak’s in red.


Blackcloud‘s in green.


And zoechen‘s blue version.


WWW: Zombies, scarves & a Contest!

The always wonderful folks over at Berroco have provided a kit to make the amazing Beatnik sweater by Norah Gaughan, a prize valued at $60-$110.

If you like a chance to win, leave a comment to this post by 11:59 pm, eastern time, tomorrow (Thursday, December 2). If you are chosen, you must answer a super secret question to be declared the winner.

Our winner will be announced on Monday, December 6.

You know you wanna...

Zombie gotcha knit!

An outrageously excellent and nerdy art installation at Mediamatic in Amsterdam… participants play a video game – Multithreaded Banjo Dinosaur Knitting Adventure 2D Extreme! – and winners have their achievement knitted into a scarf.  The knitting is done by a Brother knitting machine, driven by code generated by the game itself.

The post contains details on the game and how it was built, as well as some truly wonderful photos of the design and construction process.

Inspirational spinning

Interweave is launching their first spinning emag today. Modeled after Sockupied, their new sock knitting emag, SpinKnit is a multimedia party.

Spinners can travel the world, learning about spinning and knitting in Peru, the Pacific Northwest and upstate New York. Through video, slide show and articles spinners will learn techniques from experts Kathryn Alexander, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and Judith MacKenzie.

A 10-day initiative at a shopping mall in Riga, Latvia has resulted in a scarf over 107 feet long. Shoppers were invited to stop and knit a row or two (or more) with the goal of producing a long scarf in the national colors of Latvia. The scarf will be divided up and sold off to raise funds for local soup kitchens.

The video is great, with some lovely shots of colorwork and continental knitting!

Scarves for unity.

Special Olympics Minnesota is an organization devoted to providing sports instruction and participation opportunities for adults and children with intellectual and physical disabilities. The organization has teamed up with Red Heart Yarn to kick off the 2011 Special Olympics USA Scarf Project.  The committee is looking to collect 1,000 handmade scarves (knitted or crocheted) for athletes, coaches and volunteers participating in Winter Special Olympics events across the US this winter

More info here.

Batt Love

When I went to Fiber Expo I was deeply smitten with these batts.

Puffy, puffy batts

They are Whimsy batts from Frankie Loves Fiber, wonderful blends of merino, corriedale, shetland, silk and sparkle. I couldn’t choose between them. To me, colorwise, they belong together, so I brought home all three. I know, twist my arm.

Weeks later when it came time to spin them, I felt even more strongly that the three should be one mixed colorway. It had become an idea I couldn’t shake, a bee in my spinning bonnet. So I went with it.

Here’s what I did to combine them.

Open, the batts had even more colors:

Pink, red, purple and shades of dirt

I divided each of the batts lengthwise into 4 strips, then set aside 2 strips of each batt to be spun in longer color runs.

Batts stripped

The remaining strips I divided in half widthwise into a pile of 12 teeny batts.

shredded batts

Both the strips and shreds I spun in a random color order. I placed the strips in one grocery bag and the shreds another and grabbed without looking.

Strips bobbin on the left, shreds bobbin on the right

I spun the strips onto one bobbin, attenuating each strip lengthwise and spinning from the end. I controlled this yarn a little more, thick and thin, but drafting out  some of the bigger bits. I spun woolen, long draw, at a wpi between 14-16.

I spun the shreds by fluffing them more than attenuating them, but still spinning from the end. I controlled this yarn less, lumps, bumps and chunks of goodness all in the yarn. I spun woolen, long draw, at a wpi between 10-12.

I plied the two bobbins and the result is the colorway that stuck itself in my head when I first fell for these batts.

Blended batts FTW

The wpi is 4-6, the yarn is soft and sparkly, the colors randomly spread throughout. Now what should I make?

Soft and smooshy

Mattress Stitch

I love me a good seam.

A lot of knitters tell me that they tend to avoid projects that require seaming because they lack confidence in their finishing techniques.

Now, there is a lot of good stuff you can knit that requires only minimal finishing work – scarves, mittens, socks, lace, for example – but by mastering proper seaming you can open up a whole new world of amazing projects.

Garments, of course, but also pieced blankets like the amazing Lizard Ridge, and outfits for your dolls, and toys.

It’s not at all difficult, but the technique doesn’t seem to be well known.

Theresa has an excellent series of articles in Knitty on various finishing techniques.

Finishing is one of the most popular classes I teach. I taught a weekend’s worth recently at Shall We Knit, a lovely little shop in New Hamburg, Ontario.

I demo all the seaming techniques, and always begin with the same one: mattress stitch. Mattress stitch is used to seam together the sides of pieces – side and sleeve seams in a garment, for example.

And the response to my demo is always the same: a gasp.

Mattress stitch creates an amazing invisible seam and it never fails to impress.

How cool is that?

More amazing, even, is how easy it is to do. Try it! You’ll knock your own socks off, I promise!