When I knit or spin for long periods of time, I get knotted muscles in my back in a particular spot – between spine and shoulder blade, just below my shoulder. You know the spot?
Many years ago a co-worker introduced me to this funny looking S, officially called the Backnobber II.Â Â You hook one endÂ over your shoulder, centering one of the knobs on your knotted muscle then pull down. It puts deep, concentrated pressure on your muscle and releases the knot.
It breaks down into two pieces, so I take it along to spinning and knitting classes, where I tend to be tense from the learning, sitting and working of little muscles.
It can’t compare to a full body professional massage, but for me it’s magic.
This week is the kickoff of HRH The Prince of Wales’ Campaign for Wool, which aims to educate the world about the versatility and sustainability of wool in fashion and household uses. Many events are scheduled – lots of opportunities to ‘meet the sheep’ all around the UK. Even if you’re not in the UK, or a sheepy knitter, the website is worth a visit for its beautiful photography.
The Guardian hosts a slide show and free Jack Russell pattern preview for the book “Best in Show: Knit Your Own Dog”, by Sally Muir and Jo Osborne. The designs are all great, but the Old English Sheepdog is particularly good.
The 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee has organized the “Super Scarves” program. They are encouraging local knitters to create scarves to be given to the over 8,000 volunteers who help staff the Superbowl activities. Pattern and info on materials at the link above. Many stores in the Indianapolis area are selling the materials at cost.
Our very own Judy Becker, the creator of the world-changing Judy’s Magic Cast On has the coolest iPhone case in the world. Picture from Judy’s Twitter stream.
Something for every head
For those of us in the northern hemisphere – especially those of us with dogs or sheep to walk – we’re starting to think about hats.Â Annie Modesitt’s recently published “1,000 Knit Hats” should provide some inspiration.Â The book contains many phenomenal hats, and a well-chosen collection of patterns.
It’s no secret that I have a background in numbers: I have a degree in mathematics, and I spent 15 years working in product management in the software industry.Â I’ve spent many, many hours working with numbers in spreadsheets, sometimes in Microsoft Excel and sometimes in the Open Office spreadsheet program. No matter which program I use, spreadsheets are my best friend, and I love how they can help me even though I’m no longer in the software industry!
I use them for a surprising number of things.
Yes, spreadsheets are good for working with numbers, and I take advantage of this by using them to help me with pattern design and technical editing.Â (I may be good with math, but I’m terrible at arithmetic.)Â I use them to check the calculations. For example, when creating or checking a garment pattern I create a row with the number of cast-on stitches, I create rows with the number of stitches decreased for armhole shaping, and then I let the spreadsheet do the arithmetic to let me know how many stitches remain after the shaping.
Checking the arithmetic
But they’re also good for non-number related tasks.
I use them to create charts – these, for example. (I often use the Knitting Symbols font for my own designs, but for Knitty we have our own standard set of symbols.)Â Â I set the column widths and heights so that they reflect the appropriate ratio for a knit stitch (a stitch is about 3/4s of its width in height, so that meansÂ if you set the columns to be 1 cm wide, then the rows should be .75 cm tall.) and then I fill in either the appropriate symbols, or use the color fills.
Colorwork and pattern stitches
When charting, the mathematical functions are amazingly helpful – I don’t need to fill in cell and row numbers – I just set the first one, and use a formula to create the others.Â And you’ve got color fills for colorwork charts.
I also use spreadsheets for my to do lists. Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes of Knitty – a sample spreadsheet I use to keep track of my technical editing tasks.
Keeping me on track.
And I even use them to keep an inventory of my stash.
Out of sight, not necessarily out of mind.
Spreadsheets – a knit designer’s and technical editor’s best friend!
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month in the US, and Lorna’s Laces reminds us that 20% of the proceeds of the sale of their Flamingo Stripe colorway of Shepherd Sock are donated – year round – to Breast Cancer research.
If you’re a survivor, or you are knitting for one, you may find yourself in need of Beryl’s Tit Bits. The Tit Bits website provides links to other resources and information.
Knitty’s Fall 2004 was a Special Edition for Breast Cancer Awareness with patterns to comfort and support sufferers and survivors, and to provide discussion fodder.
Classic Elite Yarns has provided a pattern for a Breast Cancer Awareness scarf.
Denise offers a set of pink interchangeable needles, with $5 of each sale going to Breast Cancer charities. If you’ve already got a set of their needles, buy yourself some pink cords – $1 of that sale is donated, too.
Everyone was alseep when I took the picture, shhhh.
I just got back from a blissful weekend away with fiber friends. There were seven of us holed up in a cabin for 2 1/2 days, doing nothing but fiber, watching movies and overloading on carbs.
This weekend got me thinking about how I spin with friends. Spinning with friends is all about relaxing. It’s impossible for me to learn or teach something new, because I might miss out on my share of the conversation.
I did find I can practice skills that I already have a seed planted for in my head and hands, thick and thin or trimming my yarn diameter. But something new or something not in my realm of my usual woolen yarn was a no go. I brought some beautiful merino/silk I wanted to spin as a fine worsted yarn, and as many times as I touched it, I couldn’t even take it out of my spinning bag.
For me the key is the calm and easy feeling I get when I spin with my friends. It’s my grown up version of a playground. When kids play on a playground they are 100% there with their friends, playing their favorite games, nothing else matters. When I spin with my fiber tribe it’s the same, I am 100% there, my hands doing what they love best, and my heart happy and light. Why spin something new?
The second annual NYC Yarn Crawl is scheduled for October 9, 10, 11th. More info here.
Each of the 14+ stores participating will have prize draws, special offers and other goodies. Each store visit entitles a participant to a raffle ticket for one of the many great prizes donated by the stores and participating yarn companies.
And to add to the fun, there’s a scavenger hunt… themed for the Big Apple, of course. Find the knitted apples hidden on the crawl route to win more prizes.
If you’re interested in the environment impact and origins of the yarn you’re working with, check out Green Knitter. The site has a great discussion of the various terms that are used to designate different facets of green-ness and environmental friendliness – “organic”, “local”, “vegan”, “natural”, “sustainable” and so forth. It provides detailed information on the processes used to turn various fibers into yarn and their environmental impact, and provides a list of products and producers that are “greener” options, with less of a negative environment impact. The links page is great -providing a list of books and other online information resources, and links to stores with a particular eco-friendly focus.
On that note, a really great article about the benefits of wool in home construction – notably, for use as insulation.Â (Excellent justification for ongoing stash acquisition?)
Another great Fiber Festival to add to your list: the Woodstock Fleece Festival, October 23rd, in Woodstock, Ontario.
Great pic of Lion Brand’s knitted replica of Coney Island’s famous Wonder Wheel, from this past weekend’s NYC Maker Faire. Photo from Craft Magazine’s Twitter stream.
Not too long ago my friend Erica & I both spun worsted weight-ish types of yarn. We’re both part of a group of fiber friends who meet weekly at a coffee shop to spin, knit and generally laugh off our weekly stresses. Our worsted weight yarns, hers worsted spun, mine woolen, were our groove yarns, our sitting on the couch go-to yarns. What our hands and wheels just spun when left to their own devices.
Erica decided she wanted to spin thinner, she used smaller whorls and weekly I could see her yarn getting finer and finer. I decided to spin fat lofty yarns, I took some classes and practiced a lot and my yarn got thicker and thicker. I didn’t think our groove yarns had traveled that far apart on the the wpi road, until I shot this issue’s Fiber Fiesta. Take a look at our versions of Three Waters Farm, Lynne Vogel LTD, BFL/Tussah:
These mamas have a brand new groove
Erica’s has a wpi of 20, mine a wpi of 5. I say were were successful in finding our new groove yarns.
This weekend coming up, our little fiber group is going away for a long spinning weekend, four days of spinning with friends. I think I’ll take a smaller whorl or two and see if I can’t get started on another new groove.
Congratulations to the winner of Monday’s Ninja-bonus contest: Monica E! The yarn for Mythos will soon be on its way to her! Make sure to share a picture of the finished sweater when you’re done, Monica!
Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.
The fabulous Habu Textiles has just announced a trunk show for three very lucky west-coast stores… In addition to a showing of their designs and yarns, Takako will be running a workshop on how to read Japanese patterns.
September 23 they will be at Little Knits, Seattle, WA; September 27 at Knotty by Nature, Victoria, Canada, and September 28 & 29 Urban Yarns, in Vancouver, Canada.Â Contact the stores to register for the workshops, or just drop in to say hello.
If you’re not in New York, this is a terrific opportunity to see firsthand why Habu’s products are so beloved.
But if you are in the New York area, this weekend is the New York Maker Faire at the Hall of Science in Queens.Â The Maker Faire is an offshoot of Make Magazine, and is designed to entertain, educate and inspire people to – quite simply – make things. The magazine and its websites – including the internet home of its sister publication, Craft magazine – are full of amazing projects for everything from pumpkin cinnamon rolls to LED hula hoops to a knit Ferris Bueller vest.
Lion Brand has a booth, and is sponsoring a number of events, including the yarn-bombing of one of the museum’s rocket ships.Â The Lion Brand booth will include a display of a yarn-crafted cityscape with the Coney Island Cyclone and Wonder Wheel, as well as landmark buildings such as the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building.
Wool, direct from the source
Several major woolly festivals are coming up soon: