WWW: Numbers, Art and Travel

My two favorite things - knitting and mathematics!

A school in Bracknell U.K. has been working on a project to bring mathematics to life: a blanket with 100 squares, one square for each number between 1 and 100, each square showing how many factors the number has. A prime number (that is, a number that cannot be divided up evenly, e.g. 17) has a two-colored square, representing that it can be divided only by one and itself; a number that can be divided up more (e.g. 18, which can by divided by 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 18) has a square with 6 colors.

Some of the donated hats

B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, hosted an knit-in event this week aiming to help calm stressed parents and reduce the instances of shaken-baby syndrome.

The hats are purple, capturing the color of a crying infant’s face, and also highlighting the key facets of the “purple” message. “The Period of PURPLE Crying” provides educational information about the properties of normal infant crying that are uniformly frustrating to caregivers, and appropriate action steps that caregivers need to know. Inconsolable infant crying is the number one trigger that precedes a shaking event.

Knitters of all ages – including many children from local schools – worked on hats for babies to be donated to new parents.

We do indeed

Classic Elite Yarns is running a promotion (sadly, in the Continental US only) to encourage knitters to support their local indie yarn shops….

Between now and December 15th, spend $40 or more on yarn or books at any Classic Elite retailer in and send them your receipts. Classic Elite will send you a free recent pattern book and three mini-skeins of their yarn.

More details here.

A lovely little video talking about the 1860 painting “The Knitting Lesson”, by Jean-François Millet.

Bilbo Baa-ggins?

The Hobbiton village set constructed in Matamata, New Zealand for the Lord of the Rings movie productions has been taken over by sheep. The land is being used by a nearby farm for grazing their sheep.

Indeed, a company offering tours of the village includes “an authentic sheep farm experience” as part of the tour.


Speaking of knitting-friendly holidays, consider perhaps a trip to Iceland. The Icelandic Knitter website has information about tours, sells some gorgeous patterns and hosts some great articles  including a history of the Icelandic Knitting tradition.  It’s worth visiting the site for the photography alone.

The View from My Wheel: Deb Robson’s Wool Breed Study Class

Spinning zen

This past weekend I took a two day wool breed study class with Deb Robson, at The Spinning Loft.

We covered a variety of breeds within the categories of primitive wools, down type wools , long wools and fine wools. Covering a category included history, lock, crimp, luster characteristics,  prep methods, and spinning at least 4 breeds within each category.

Not being a breed junky, for me, it was the type of class that introduced me to a whole world of things that I don’t know. My first instinct was to panic (usually, my first instinct), it all seemed huge and overwhelming and there were combs, which I’ve never managed to get to work for me.

Knowing that I couldn’t just run screaming, because there are no take backs in spinning. I sat and listened. Deb is wonderful teacher. She has a calm melodious voice and a depth of knowledge that makes the history of sheep breeds seem like an enchanted fairy tale. I soaked it up like a sponge. I spun and learned.

It was hours of fascinating learning. And in that casual- sneaky way that only the best teachers have, Deb got me on combs. I finally understood and used combs, and even came home with a pair.

Like in the best types of classes there was learning from each other too. I came home having learned combing and better ways to hand card and taught Andean plying. It reminds me of the square dancing move, the allemande where you pass around your circle hand over hand.

It’s classes exactly like this one that keep me excited, keep me signing up for things I’m not sure about, and keep me spinning every day.

Jillian”s NaKniSweMo Update

I cropped my head because I had 'not enough tea yet' face

It’s November 22. I still have 2 inches of body knitting, have to decide length and knit sleeves (I’m thinking short like the pattern) and do finishing. I have a good feeling about finishing on time.

The pattern, Goodale, is fantastic. Easy to follow and fun to knit. I’ve learned attached i-cord edging and increasing in the row below from this pattern, and have since passed both techniques on to other knitters. It’s my favorite part about knitting, the constant learning and teaching.

I’m still having issues with gauge and had to monkey with frequency and numbers of increases for the body. I think it may prove to be a little big under the arms, but I can live with that. I’m really excited about sewing the front detail to make the incredibly groovy pockets.

How’s your sweater coming? Have you checked in with the Ravelry group? Some people are done.

1 Million Ravelers, Naked Knitters Storm Again, and a Royal Sweater

And they think we're just a small movement...

Big congratulations to our friends at Ravelry, which recently hit the milestone of 1 million registered users.

Bolton UK’s Knitting Noras – also known as the Naked Knitters, thanks to their fundraising cheeky postcards – are at it again.  They will be yarnbombing the International Centre in Harrogate, the site of the upcoming Knitting and Stitching show, November 25-28th.

Wooly, warm and rescued.

Have you heard about The North Circular? Although they sell finished goods, they are running a unique and wonderful company in the UK. They make and sell products from a flock of rescued Wensleydale Longwool sheep. It’s all locally produced, and there are bios of their knitters, their shepherd and their sheep on the website. The designs are gorgeous, and they have a truly great business model.

I think I might have to start saving up for the Hook Cardigan

For the cat lovers among us, your daily dose of adorable, courtesy of Purina New Zealand. Kitties and yarn!

To get you in the mood for the upcoming Harry Potter installment, here’s a pattern for a hat inspired by the one worn by Ron Weasley in the movie ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’.

Launched a craze

The news of Prince William’s engagement brings to mind that wonderful red and white sheep sweater worn by his mother, Princess Diana, in 1983. I know I wanted one at the time…

Plying Spindle Spun Yarn

I love to spin singles on my spindles, but I’ve never been a fan of plying on a spindle.

Before you ask, it's an Indigo Hound spindle.

Instead I use my Kate 45 and ply on my wheel.

Ply, girl, ply!

All with the help of the humble drinking straw. My cop goes on the straw and the straw goes on my lazy kate rod.

Size does matter

I have a pack of regular bendy straws that fit perfectly over the rods on my Kate 45 just loose enough to spin, but not so loose that the fly off when plying. The straw has to be taller than your cop but, not taller than your lazy kate rod.

Spindle to straw

I slide my straw as far as it will go up the spindle shaft and slide the cop slowly onto the straw.

Ready for a 2-ply

I found that if I tried to make the cop transfer off of the spindle or even at the bottom of the spindle shaft, it was much harder to get the cop on the straw smoothly.

Ply like the wind

I use my wheel to ply, but it’s just as easy to ply to a spindle from your kate.

WWW: 25th Anniversary of Knitter’s Magazine, Interesting & Important Knitters and a Very Long Scarf

100th Issue

This year marks the 100th issue of Knitter’s Magazine, and the 26th anniversary of XRX the company that publishes the magazine and many terrific books.  As of this issue, the magazine is being distributed both in physical copies and in digital format through the Zinio service.

To celebrate the anniversary, Knitter’s has a special double issue with 50 patterns, and a digital version being distributed for free. More info here.

Even cartoon characters need scarves.

Arthur learns to knit! In a new episode of the popular and long-running kids’ TV series, “Arthur Unravels“, Arthur’s grandma Thora teaches him to knit. In the episode, he worries that he’ll get teased by his classmates if they find out. The episode shows (spoiler alert!) that regardless of gender or age, anyone can learn and enjoy knitting.

Definitely cuter than Tim Burton.

A nice little profile of artist Donna Wilson, in the New York Times style magazine “T”.  They describe her as the “Tim Burton” of knitting.

Not entirely surprising news that musician Sufjan Stevens is a knitter. Mostly scarves, apparently, and he has worked for Martha Stewart!

A group of knitters in northwest Wales is aiming to knit a scarf a mile long to wrap around the Cob – the sea wall – in Porthmadog. The Cob was built in 1811 to reclaim low-lying land from the harbor area for agricultural use, and the scarf is part of the bicentennial celebrations.

"Knitting Diva"

Saturday November 20th, a memorial, tribute and benefit event is being held in Madison, Wisconsin in honor of Melissa Mathay, noted knitting designer and author.  More info on Facebook.  Melissa was the original owner of Yarn, Co. in New York, and was a key figure in the revival of knitting as a design art in New York in the 1990s.

A contest!

Loop Shop and the Loop Knits site is hosting a contest on their site – The I Love Fall Knitting $100 Sweepstakes. Visit the website to learn more and enter to win a $100 gift certificate to use at the shop in Philadelphia or on the online store.

A Spinning Giveaway!

Beautiful Indigenous

One lucky spinner will win 4 oz of BFL/ Tussah (a $22.95 value) from Three Waters Farm to make Lynne Vogel’s Indigenous shawl from the current issue of Knittyspin.

You want it don’t you? Leave a comment below by noon, eastern time, tomorrow (Wednesday, November 10). If you are chosen, you must answer a super secret question to be declared the winner.

Our winner will be announced on Friday, November 12.

Qiviut Sock Yarn & A NaKniSweMo Update

I’m a sock knitter who has poor circulation and lives in a cold climate, and therefore I’m always on the lookout for the most interesting and warmest sock yarn.

And just the other day, at Toronto’s Creativ Festival, I found it: Cottage Craft’s Qiviut blend sock yarn.  It’s a yummy blend of qiviut, merino, bamboo and nylon, so it will be wonderful to work with, fabulously warm – and hardwearing. (Be warned, there’s none of this currently listed on the site, it looks like they are sold out.  Sorry!)

Nom nom nom.

I bought it at the Rose Haven Farm both.  Linda, the lovely proprietor, only had one skein left.  She was very apologetic about the lack of color selection.  It happens to be a gorgeous rusty red, but honestly, it could have been the worst color in the world and I would have still bought it.

What’s the big deal?  It’s the Qiviut.  Qiviut is the undercoat of the muskox.  Muskox live in the arctic reaches of North America, and have the wooly coats to deal with the climate up there.  Qiviut is 8 times warmer (and significantly stronger) than sheep’s wool, softer than cashmere – and it doesn’t felt.

Muskox are aggressive creatures, so Qiviut is hard to collect, and therefore expensive. It’s gathered by hand during the molt, or from bushes that the muskox rub up against; or combed from pelts after the hunt.

The muskox is an important animal in the ecosystem, and to the Arctic peoples. They are still hunted and used for meat, their pelts, and their fiber. To learn more about this, I highly recommend Donna Druchunas’ book, Arctic Lace.

The most important thing to me right now is that I’m going to have very warm toes this winter.

Can you blame me?

A Quick NaKniSweMo Update from Jillian

I’m about 5,000 stitches in, my gauge is defying all logic, I’ve had to ‘fit in’ a few increases, I’m behind where I want to be and there’s not enough time to knit. In other words, I’m loving every minute of it. How are your NaKni sweaters going? Don’t forget there’s a group for us on Ravelry. Here’s a peek at my Goodale so far:

Goodale goodness

Cookie A. Giveaway Winner!

Our winner is… Mandy F.

If you’re not the lucky one, don’t forget that you can order a PDF of the book or preorder the physical copy, and shop for Lorna’s Laces yarn at your favorite yarn shop.

In the meantime, console yourself by revisiting Cookie’s amazing contributions to Knitty.

Pomatomus: the sock that started it all.

It's Po-ma-to-mus.

Monkey: a classic for our times.

Who hasn't knitted these?

Hedera, Beaudelaire and Clandestine: lacy and gorgeous.




And Red Herring: easy and unexpected colorwork.

Simple yet clever.