I’m obsessed with plastic glassware.

my introduction to Tervis Tumbler madness: the peace sign mug

This is the dumbest post I’ve ever written, but I guarantee someone reading it will have used these things and agree…Tervis Tumblers are awesome.

A year ago, my sister and my mom took a vacation in Venice, FL, and kept driving past the Tervis Tumbler factory. “What’s a Tervis Tumbler?” we wondered. So we made mom stop [yes, we can still do that when we’re in our 40s…oh, the power of children over the mama] and went into a crystal-clear plastic wonderland.

Tervis Tumblers are kind of a stupid idea, and yet I love them. Understatement. I love them. They’re a hollow-space insulated mug or tumbler [lots of different sizes and shapes available], and each is decorated with an embroidered patch stuck between the two layers of plastic. The patches vary from sports teams and colleges to “let’s get drunk” emblems and cutesy girl icons. Lots of ticky tacky to be found.

hub's favorite Big T Tervis

This is a really stupid idea. Who thought of this? How lame is it to use patches like this? But go look in my cupboards. Clearly I’ve gotten over the stupidness, because I have 6 of these in different designs and shapes in my house.

They keep drinks cold or hot forever, come with really awesome lids that will let a straw in if you want, and I just love the things. Also, if they break, there’s a lifetime warranty. Hub loves the ridiculously huge 24-ounce Big T. I’m fond of the 17 oz mug. Yes, there’s a Tervis Tumbler for everyone.

Sometimes you just have to embrace your lameness.

[p.s. looks like they’re branching out…now they’ve got Fiestaware inspired designs that are actually printed on the glass. Way to go, Tervis!]

WWW: Good causes

Keeping precious heads warm

Save the Children has just launched the Caps for Good initiative. They are collecting small handmade hats to help keep low-birthweight babies warm during their first few weeks of life. These caps will be delivered through Save the Children’s newborn health programs in Indonesia, Mali and Guatemala.


September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in the US.  Ronda’s Closet, a clothing store in San Diego, California is hosting an event on September 22nd to raise funds for Tête-à-Tête Hats.  Tête-à-Tête Hats was founded by students of a local school with the goal of providing handmade hats to patients, hospitalized infants and children, and others in need of head coverings.


Seasalt, a clothing company based in Cornwall, UK, has kicked off their annual Go Knit! campaign. Go Knit! asks knitters to knit decorations which are sold in Seasalt stores and online, with all proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Society. Knitters of all levels are encouraged to participate, and all decorations are welcomes – in all manner of sizes, colors and yarns. Each year, a different charity is chosen, and in previous years thousands of pounds have been raised and donated.


Kim Werker is hosting a fundraising contest to support the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Donate and be entered for a chance to win yarn, fibre and other knitterly goodies generous donated by friends of Kim.


And the Big Knit program in the UK is seeking volunteers to knit little hats for a fundraising program at Sainsbury’s supermarkets. The hats will be put on top of smoothie bottles, and for each one sold, money will be donated to programs to support the elderly. More details here and pattern here.


If you’re interested in knitting for charity, the Interweave Knits website has a good list of international organizations that accept knitted goods. And if you’re cleaning out your stash, many schools, retirement homes and care facilities take donations.  Do call any organization before you donate to get details on what they want.

Many cities have programs like Toronto’s StreetKnit, that accepts donations of knitted good to distribute to the homeless to keep them warm through the winter. New York has Hats for the Homeless. Your local yarn shop may well know of an organization in your area.

How do you sort your stash?

my new stash spot. blink and you'll miss it

I’ve culled and reorganized my main floor  stash space.

As I was deciding on what to keep upstairs and what to banish to the basement stash, I realized I have very particular ideas about the sorting of my fiber stash.

For my new upstairs stash I have:

  • a cubby of my own handspun yarn, waiting to be patterns
  • all of my Briar Rose fiber, because I wanted all of something for that feeling of abundance and it’s gorgeous
  • a cubby of new to me fiber, right now it’s Southern Cross fiber
  • a cubby of inspirational fiber, right now it’s Lynne Vogel fiber
  • most of my spinning tools – bobbins, niddys, etc
  • a cone of yarn for core spinning
  • my last round of dyed by me fiber because I like to stare at it

Downstairs I also have:

  • fleeces
  • fiber to dye
  • fiber to card into batts
  • 8oz+ of the same colorway
  • luxury fiber
  • more specific dyers: Spunky Eclectic, Hello Yarn, Lorna’s Laces, Abby Batts, more Lynne Vogel
  • natural colored fiber that will stay natural

I also have a stash for Knittyspin.

So I’m happy that while it may not look, or sometimes feel, like my stash is organized, there is certainly a method to my madness.

How do you organize your fiber?

Just like a pill

I bought a recumbent exercise bike in a fit of panic a few years ago when I was prepping to go on Knitty Gritty. Cable television. In reruns for ever. Me and my generous body on tv for all to see. [Ironically, the episode has aired a total of 2 times, as far as I know. But I digress.]

I rode it for a while, and it soon became exactly what most of these devices become: a nagging reminder of  failure to stick with it. A clothing horse. An embarrassment.

Flash forward to me now, and I’m in a bit of a state. My body isn’t working well, and things are breaking down all over. I need to do something, but my choices are suddenly limited. I’d love to walk for exercise, but my plantar fasciitis has gotten so bad, nothing relieves the pain except Birkenstocks. [Yes, I’ve tried everything you’ll suggest. Trust me — Birks are my only solution until this heals.] Exercise walking in Birkenstocks is not ideal. My recently injured knee makes walking at all pretty uncomfortable at the moment. Must rest, doctor says. Oy.

So I’ll ride my outdoor bike, right? That won’t hurt my knee! Except my hands are a delicate issue [carpal tunnel and now I’ve got some fun tennis elbow as a result of favoring the hand that took so long to recover from a cortisone shot], so leaning forward on handlebars of a bike is not a good idea.

i ride something sort of like this almost every day. this surprises me.

Suddenly I remember the albatross in the basement. Chiropractor and Osteopath both give it the green light and I force myself. 22 minutes I decide is an appropriate amount. I put it on resistance level 2 (level 1 is nothing at all) and go. It’s hard. I stop multiple times. I do it.

Next day, I do it again. And again. And all of a sudden, I realize my Restless Leg Syndrome [I told you I was a mess] stops bothering me so much. I go for several days like this and then miss a day. That night, legs are jumping all over the place.

The penny drops. The recumbent bike is not an exercise bike. It’s not a weight-loss solution. It’s a pill. Taking this pill makes me feel better.

Suddenly, instead of finding reasons to avoid going near the albatross, I find myself planning my day around my 22 minute ride, followed by a well-earned shower. Two days ago, I barely made it through the 22 minutes. Yesterday, I pedalled like a madwoman with almost no breaks. Not sure what today’s ride will be like, but I’ll do it, which is all that counts.

My knee is healing and I’m walking more comfortably. My body is working better. I can’t believe it took me this long to stop resenting something that would make me feel better. I like feeling better.

My companion as I pedal is not knitting [my hands need resting when possible; see above]. Instead, I listen to really good audiobooks as another incentive to ride and excellent distraction. I can’t listen to them unless I’m pedalling. But that’s another post.

WWW: Publication, Relocation, Cooperation and Audio Exploration

Live today, the new Knitty Surprise patterns include the Crosswaves sock, perfect for hand-dyed yarns, the Brunello cardigan, named after a full-bodied Tuscan artisanal wine, short-sleeved, lace trimmed, and just the thing to ease you into cooler days and nights.

By the way: when we launch a new issue or surprise, the server gets bogged down (despite our best efforts to keep it zippy). If you can’t get through, maybe go get a coffee or knit a few rows and try it again later!

Happy knitting!

Crosswaves by Sarah Wilson

Brunello by Amy Swenson


There, on the third floor

Artfiibers in San Francisco proudly announces their reopening in their new location, less than a block away from their old location. The new store has 75% more space, and the both staff and customers are excited about the possibilities the new space provides for an expanded collection of yarn, fiber art and other exhibits and sales.
The official reopening celebration takes place over the weekend of October 1-3, but they hope to be open a little sooner than that for sneak previews. More info at their website.
Online shopping is still available at the website, of course.

Bigger and brighter!

Another beloved yarn shop, Toronto’s Lettuce Knit, has also just reopened in their new location. In what may be the fastest yarn store move ever, the shop was open on Sunday in its old spot, and open Tuesday in its new spot, 8 doors further west.

The space is significantly expanded, includes new comfy seating, and the team is looking forward to stocking lots more yarn and fiber.  Attendees of their very popular Wednesday knit night are extremely happy about the additional space.


The Fiber Cooperative is a very exciting new online store – a gathering of all your favorite indie dyers fiber companies. It’s an easy-to-use and friendly online shop, dedicated solely to yarny sorts of products – yarn, fiber, patterns and goodies like bags and yarn-themed jewelry.

It’s a cooperative venture that allows small independent companies without big marketing budgets to get the word out about their products.


Don’t miss this wonderful BBC radio program wherein a journalist visits Fair Isle to discuss the role of knitting in the tiny island’s history and economy, in light of recent news that knitting has been removed from the formal school curriculum.

It’s worth it just for the very atmospheric background sounds of wind, rain and sheep.


Kollage Yarns has kicked off a new program to support yarn stores: “Feed Your Creativity”. The program provides 10 kits over 10 months: each kit containing patterns, yarn, instructions and notes to allow shops to teach classes on the pattern. It’s a great way for yarn shops and knitter to sample yarns they may not be familiar with. Kit #2, the Cassandra Cowl, is available now. Visit the website for more info, whether you’re a store or a knitter.

KnittySpotting: My (Creating Lots of) Leftovers Vest

Stripey!

I’m a vest girl, and when the Winter 2004 issue was published – long before I was an official member of the Knitty team -  I knew I would need to make the Leftovers vest.

Now, something you may not know about me is that I have a remarkable streak of discipline in one area of stashing: I tend not to buy sweater quantities of yarn if I don’t have a specific project in mind, and I tend to either repurpose or give away my leftovers, so I don’t have lots of bits and pieces lying around.  (Don’t worry, though, I make up for this in sock yarn.  I have nearly 50 pairs’ worth of socks-to-be in my stash, and another 10 or 20 pairs’ worth in partial balls.)

This vest is indeed, as the designer says, a great way to use up leftovers.

But I didn’t have sufficient quantity of any leftovers to use.  So I decided to make some.

I’m a Noro lover, that’s well known.  I chose five different colourways of Silk Garden, all in the green family, and went wild.

I alternated the five balls, working one- or two- or at  most three-round stripes, as color dictated.  The objective was to capitalize on Noro’s long lengths of color, and have each stripe be a single, distinct color. This meant that I skipped sections of each ball, where the colors were blended.

It was actually a real great exercise in working with Noro: there are always surprises in every colorway. Given that I worked pretty hard to find balls that were all in the green family, you can see there are surprising pops of red and pink. At first, it was stressing me out a bit – I wanted a green vest, after all – but now I love it. The pops make it, I think.

Of course, working two- or three-round stripes of five different balls meant that there were some pretty big gaps between uses of a particular ball, and because I was skipping some sections of each ball, it meant that I was breaking the yarn pretty much every time I started a new stripe.

Tidy!

Which, as you can imagine, led to rather a lot of ends. I gamely wove them all in around the armholes and neck so that they didn’t pop out, but I must confess I gave up when I came to the body of the vest. I did make sure they were all secure – I tied overhand knots and basically just turned them into tassels. I figure it just makes it a bit warmer…

Less tidy!

And of course, all of this breaking of yarn and skipping of lengths also meant that I ended up with a ton of leftovers, much of it in short lengths. Perhaps I should make a Leftovers vest from my Leftovers vest leftovers?

WWW: Memorials, Mochi and Mobsters

Congratulations to the winner of our Ninja-bonus giveaway contest [August 30]: Peggy H. wins a copy of the brand-new Sockupied mag!


The Scarf of Hope is a massive cooperative project in Peru to create a memorial to the over 15,000 men and boys lost in Peru’s bitter internal conflict between rebels and state forces in the 1980s and 1990s. Women who lost members of their family are being encouraged to contribute to the scarf – every square features names of the missing – which organizers expect will reach over a kilometer in length. Many of the victims remain officially missing, as they were never found.

The choice of a scarf is significant, not just because of the strong handwork traditions in Peru, but also  because in a part of the world where formal ID documents are rare, clothing was often used as means of identifying the victims. A sad story, but an uplifting project.


Delicious!

Crystal Palace Yarns has launched a newsletter, and their first issue talks all about their  long-variegation Mochi yarn line.  The newest addition to the Mochi family, Chunky, is just stunning.

Mini Mochi, the first yarn in the family, was used for the Coquille shawl, in the First Fall issue.


An interesting piece on the BBC News Magazine about how Girl Guides played an important role during WW2 supporting the troops and citizens of the UK. Knitting socks was a key contribution!


Beep-beep, yeah!

As a VW driver, I couldn’t not bring your attention to this… a truly wonderful vintage VW bug done up yarn-bomb style.

Upping the game somewhat, 20 Swiss grandmothers have knitted a cosy for a Smart Car, and have contacted Guinness about a possible record for the largest hand-knitted car cosy.  I love the idea that there is a record for this, but a Smart Car is pretty small…


And Sony is up to something yarny … Sony Japan has posted some sort of teaser page on their Playstation website, and it seems to depict a crocheting mobster. We are officially intrigued.  Visit soon, as the countdown is pretty close to finishing.

Stash Control and a New Shelf

I don’t know about you, but I love to have all of my spinning stash around me. Well, a lot of it anyway. I’m lucky enough to have a family that understands the need for piles of stash.

We have an inactive fireplace in our family room that I have claimed , using the hearth as my stash home. Not in any organized fashion, mind you. Though I organize it periodically, it never stays that way. It’s subject to whims, shopping trips and current deadline projects.

Um, where's the fireplace?

Because I know you’ll understand, here is an un-doctored, un-neatened photo of my fireplace stash.

You spinners who are in long term relationships know what’s coming, right? My husband wants the fireplace back, all of it.

I really don’t need all of that space and now we have a mischievous puppy, so my stash and tools should be more contained.

Are you kidding me?!

We surveyed the rooms and spaces on our main floor and came up with this for me.

Yep, that’s my stash space. It’s 6 feet tall and those shelves are only 12″ wide. Of course, I may take out all of the shelves and just stuff fiber from top to bottom, we’ll see.

I do have secondary stash storage (don’t pretend that you don’t) in the basement, so I have a place for the overflow to go. But some days, many days actually, it’s about surrounding yourself with your fuzzy love.

This also means I need to organize my basement stash (again) to be able to find anything.

What tips do the more organized, yet still big stashers, have for me?

And my basement stash, 20+ years of yarn, fiber and books?

I’m not showing — a girl needs her fiber secrets, after all.

Ninja-bonus giveaway post!

sockupied launches today

Out of the blue, we’ve got a surprise ninja giveaway! [We love giving you stuff.]

Today brings the launch of a new digital magazine, Sockupied, from the folks at Interweave.

It’s not an online mag, though you get it from the internet. It’s quite a different thing. And it’s full of socks! This first issue also features a profile of our very own Cookie A! Go Cookie!

Here’s how their press release describes it: “Sockupied is available as a digital download exclusively from Interweave’s online store for $14.97, beginning today. The eMag is actually a 365-megabyte application that users download and install to a Macintosh or PC computer; once installed, the application runs on the Adobe AIR platform.

Want to win a copy? Leave a comment to this post by midnight eastern time today [August 30, 2010]. We’ll pick one winner and announce the lucky person on our WWW post [that’d be this coming Wednesday].

Good luck, everyone!

Just who is writing this thing?

You may have noticed that the KnittyBlog has diversified. It used to be a one-woman blog with Amy mouthing off on whatever she felt like writing about that day. A while ago, Jillian wisely suggested that there are 4 of us who work on Knitty. Each of us has a different background, different likes and dislikes, and different life-based and geographical perspectives. Which is way more interesting than just one person being mouthy.

So we made it so. The KnittyBlog has been brought to you by the Knitty Team since early 2010, and we figure it’s time we officially introduced ourselves. We take turns writing this thing, and you can always tell who the author is by looking up there next to the date of the post.

Amy

Amy is the editor of Knitty. She’s also the publisher and founder of the magazine. In 2002, it came to her in a dream while sitting on the living room couch that she should start an online knitting magazine to feature the knitting talent she’d been seeing on blogs all over the world in one tidy, professional-looking website. The rest is happy history.

She loves ukuleles, rabbits [her babies are 2 mini-rex sisters named Squeeze and Boeing], scooters and shiny things. She’s allergic to wool and sensitive to all animal fibers, so she’s the non-wool knitter in the Knitty crew. She lives in Toronto and can often be found hanging out, having a latte and knitting, at The Purple Purl. She is frequently obsessed with technology and gadgets, and quite likes shoes that don’t hurt.


Jillian

Jillian is the editor of Knittyspin, Knitty’s Ad Manager and Catalyst of the whole shebang. This means she is often the brains behind the exciting new ideas we implement at Knitty, like this blog-writing thing and the recent issue shift to our two-fall publishing schedule. She’s also the reason there is a Knitty — her passion, brain and heart have helped Amy build the magazine and keep it on the grass-roots path we all feel is so important. If you ever meet her, thank her.

Jillian has been a knitter forever, and a spinner almost as long. Spinning is her current passion, and she spends part of almost every day at her wheel. Her hangout is The Spinning Loft in Howell, MI. She likes vintage dresses, Tim Burton, British murder mysteries and listening to her kids sing in the bathtub. She recently welcomed a rescue puppy — Atticus — into her home, and in addition to all the usual puppy training, she is watching him carefully to make sure he doesn’t start teething on her spinning wheels.


Mandy

Mandy is the senior technical editor of Knitty magazine. Mandy has a terrifyingly skilled knitting-focused brain, and prides herself on making Knitty patterns, especially the complex ones, as knittable as possible. She’s also a talented designer, having been published in several magazines [including Knitty, of course].

Mandy paints, makes unique jewelry and is a star at wardrobe remixing — turning humble thrift-shop clothing into super-desirable fashion. She’s also the co-author of the super-cool book Yarn Bombing. Her Vancouver-based hangout is Three Bags Full, and she shares her home with Roxy, the rescue kitty.


Kate

Kate edits Knitty’s sock patterns and all of the patterns in Knittyspin, and has recently taken on the job of keeping us organized as our Editorial Assistant.  She is a mathematician, which comes in handy in all aspects of her knitting work. Kate is a highly regarded knitting teacher in Toronto, and offers her professional services through several Toronto-based shops and beyond.

She is an expert on all things deli, and is a regular at Caplansky’s. She likes double-pointed needles, kitten heels and strong coffee. A puppy recently showed up on Kate’s doorstep, literally: a little abandoned boy with [perhaps] beagle and shepherd in him, Dexter is now officially part of her family.