Fresh from TNNA

crazy Columbus art car, parked near the convention center

TNNA [The National NeedleArts Association] is the organization of manufacturers of almost everything we all knit with, from yarn to needles to notions to bags and more. Going to the TNNA trade show in Columbus, Ohio, every June is a tradition for those of us in the industry. Knitty first attended TNNA in 2004, and every year, what we see gets more interesting.

Most importantly, we get to meet in person the folks that make the stuff we love, sometimes after having corresponded by e-mail for years. It’s pretty neat.

So this week’s What’s What Wednesday is devoted to what we saw and a few peeks at what you might see in issues to come.

All photos were taken with my iPhone, so they’re of modest quality. Next year, I bring the good camera.


Knitwear designer ##http://www.robinmelanson.com/##Robin Melanson## in super-fabulous sunglasses. We'll get her in Knitty one of these days.

Stephen West models ##http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall09/PATTcolonnade.php/##Colonnade##, this time in a new smaller version which you'll find ##http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/little-colonnade##here##.

Larissa from ##http://www.OffhandDesigns.com/##Offhand Designs## showing us her new bag hardware on a felted sweater turned into a bag...more on this in a future issue!

We loved these ##http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEss10/PATTwanderer.php/##Wanderer socks##, knit in ##http://www.lornaslaces.net##Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock##, shown at their booth!

##http://www.kauni.com/index.php?lang=english##Kauni## had a booth this year...it was 100% delicious.

One picture is never enough.

Welcoming new yarnies ##http://www.millamia.com/##MillaMia## from Sweden, run by two sisters with the loveliest British accents.

Millamia is a wool yarn with kid-centric pattern support...really fashionable and truly adorable

The awesome Norah Gaughan poses for a teaser photo...you'll be seeing something from her in a future issue, made from ##http://www.berroco.com/shade_cards/remix_sh.html/##Remix##, my favorite find from this year's show. Wool-free tweed, light as air, made from recycled fibers including silk, cotton and linen. Thank you, Berroco!

New from Knowknits, the ##http://www.knowknits.com/products_01.html##GoKnit bag## is now available in faux-fur. Can you stand it? Soft as anything, too. Two other new colors have been added: a pale purple and a soft gold, seen here.

##http://ysolda.com##Ysolda's## booth was the talk of the show...tea and cakes every day at 3! The booth was furnished like a living room, and was a great place to hang out. Previews of Ysolda's upcoming book -- Little Red in the City, due out this September -- could be seen as well as garments from ##http://twistcollective.com##Twist Collective## and ##http://shetlandtrader.blogspot.com##The Shetland Trader##.

I happened to stop by when Ysolda was taping a segment for Knitting Daily TV, with host Eunny Jang. Marilyn Murphy of ##http://interweave.com##Interweave## watches over the proceedings.

Stephen West, Casey (##http://ravelry.com##Ravelry Guru##) and Laura Chau (##http://www.cosmicpluto.com##Cosmicpluto##) watch on as Ysolda and Eunny prepare for the segment. Casey's not angry, just concentrating as he works.

Was this year's TNNA a success? Absolutely Yes! (Artwork by ##http://www.1800cartoon.com/##Paul Palnik## Â -- his studio is next to the ##http://jenisicecreams.com/##Jeni's## location on High Street. Frustratingly, it's never been open when I've been there.)

More of That Car

Overall, I found the show to be much more upbeat than it has been in the past few years. The floors weren’t necessarily crowded with attendees, but those there — from what I was told — were placing orders. Some booths were busy the entire show; others had spurts and quiet times. The trends this time? Well, I was a little surprised to see what seems to be a small resurgence of novelty yarn from a few manufacturers. But overall, I found most manufacturers were adding yarns with longevity to their lines…rich wools, creative new blends, and lots of deep fall colors were everywhere.

Jillian and I were also delighted to see much more spinning fiber on display than at any previous show. Beautiful indie-dyed wools of all description, silks and delicious blends. Watch Knittyspin, where you’ll see these beauties in an upcoming Fiber Fiesta feature.

There was an aisle mostly dedicated to newer products, many of which you’ll soon be seeing in our Cool Stuff section in upcoming issues. The Yarn Roundtable closet is now restocked with a huge selection of yarn, with more to come as manufacturers and dyers return home and start shipping their TNNA orders.

Yes, there was a lot of Jeni’s during this trip for Jillian and I. We needed to keep up our strength, you know! [This year’s favorites for me were the Meyer Lemon Blueberry and the Salty Caramel. Jillian favored the Goat Cheese with Roasted Cherries.]

There was more than I could ever capture at the show itself, but this gives you a taste of our weekend with the fiber peoples. For more coverage, don’t miss Clara’s post at Knitter’s Review, next Thursday — KR is on an every-other-week posting schedule for the summer, Clara tells me. Reading her event wrap-ups is a must, whether I’ve been at the event or not. The Ravelry folks did a great job of covering the floor during the show — you can find their pictures and video at their Hello TNNA twitter feed.

The Tortoise and the Hare

I just returned from a color and art yarn workshop with the great Lynne Vogel.  I’ve become obsessed with coil plied yarns and I was determined to learn to spin a yummy, yummy, soft coil plied yarn. I was also determined to do it all, practice all night and just generally rock my own spinning socks off.

Plus I wanted to unhook and relax, as well as deepen, renew and make new friendships. Baby, I was gonna bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan!

Determined to me means to dig in with gritted teeth like a Jack Russell on a rodent, like the Hare in the fable. This is not the frame of mind to teach your hands and mind to spin new yarns, or to relax.

More dreds than yarn. George Clinton are you out there?

Here is some of my first coiled yarn <–

This is after setting it under tension. Anyone need their pots scrubbed?

I was crushed when it didn’t work out. I’ll admit that I gave up a little and just went along. I slept, I walked in the woods, I listened to stories, made friends and drank beer. I may have laughed a time or two, so hard, that I both cried and drooled.

You know where this is going, right? Sunday, while everyone else is practicing and picking Lynne’s brain before we leave her safety nest, I sat. I changed my whorl. I set my tension. I spun. I spun with purpose, but not gritted determination, like the tortoise. I spun hands to head, not head to hands, because in spinning your hands always know and your head trips them up.

Cushy coils.

I spun soft and beautiful coils –>

When your spinning or learning isn’t going quite right stop to think: are you being the tortoise or the hare?

Tortoise yarn on top, Hare yarn on bottom

Fiber is Spunky Eclectic hand painted Shetland, Three Sheeps colorway.

Post from on the road

Lynne does an awesome job of jigsawing 5 grown women's baggage post trade show

Amy  here. I stole Jillian’s password. Don’t tell her.

My bags are in this Ford Flex somewhere, and right now, I’m in a Panera near Toledo, Ohio, using their lovely free wifi to let you know that TNNA was great and we have so much new stuff to share with you for the upcoming First Fall issue.  There were more new products than I remember seeing in a long while, and a yarn I fell in love with that will be making a featured appearance here in a future issue of Knitty.

But even before the issue comes out, we’ll share some  of what we saw. This week.

Stay tuned.

Multiple personalities?

If you’ve been reading the KnittyBlog for a long time, it might be sounding a little different to you lately.

It used to be all Amy all the time. Which can be anything from amusing to annoying, depending on your perspective. But mostly, that didn’t really reflect the true backbone of Knitty. Sure, Amy does lots of stuff and is the big boss, but there are other super-important Knitty people that, if you don’t know yet, you will soon.

Obsession of the Moment: Doctor Who

The Eleventh Doctor & Amy Pond.  Image copyright BBC.

The Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond. Image (c) BBC.

Ok, I lie.  This has been an obsession of mine, oh, since I was about 7.

Doctor Who (Wikipedia link for full and wondrous history) is a science fiction TV series produced by the BBC.  Its initial incarnation ran from 1963 to 1989. I am a Brit, and I grew up with it.

It’s about a mysterious time- and space- traveling Time Lord who goes by the name of the Doctor, and is a great mix of science fiction, mystery, fairy-tale and old-fashioned adventure romp.  It’s funny and thrilling and cheesy in just the right balance. The clever trick is that Time Lords can regenerate their bodies, so that when an actor quits the series, he can be replaced by another. My doctor was Tom Baker, complete with awesome scarf (which, naturally, has its own website with patterns for the different versions from different seasons).  The series sorta petered out in the 1980s.

But in 2005 it was brilliantly revised by Russell T. Davies and his team.  And this new incarnation is, IMHO, even better than the original.  It’s funnier and thrillinger and cheesier, but all still in perfect balance. We’re on our third Doctor of the new incarnation, Matt Smith, and he’s turned out to be terrific.  No-one was sure he could fill the very large shoes of David Tennant, who left last year;  just as no-one was sure Tennant could fill the very large shoes of Christopher Eccleston, who was the initial relaunch Doctor. But each has made his own impression – and in the case of David Tennant, what a delicious impression that was.

The latest series is running right now in the UK on BBC One, and in the US on BBC America. (Choose your link carefully – the US is two episodes behind the UK, and the UK site has spoilers for upcoming episodes.)

If you’ve not given it a go, start with the Christopher Eccleston series.  Knitting television of the finest order – and not just because there is a knitter in the recent episode, Amy’s Choice.

What’s new?

Quite a lot!


The Knitgrrl Guide To Professional Knitwear Design

Many of us have been eagerly awaiting the publication of this book, written by Shannon Okey [the Knitgrrl herself].

Well, the book went from manuscript to finished, printed copy in significantly less than a year…which is one of the benefits of being a

1) motivated author
2) experienced self-publisher

…and Shannon is both!

This book has promised to be as honest a volume as has ever been written about what it’s like to design for a living [or part of a living]. “Written by an industry insider, the Guide takes a comprehensive, unflinching look behind the scenes that no knit or crochet designer can afford to be without. Includes interviews with top designers, editors and professionals who tell it like it is so you can hit the ground running, a guide to responsible social media use, information on distribution, printing, online publishing and much, much more.”

Can’t wait to read it!


Lots of knitters have been turning their hands to quilting lately. So this new Patchwork Pattern Maker from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London comes along at a great time. It’s free, and turns an image into a series of geometric shapes, which the quilter can then use as a template for a quilt top.

As a lapsed quilter [my current carpal tunnel condition is a result of that previous obsession], this makes me want to reach for my rotary cutter!


StitchinKnitâ„¢ font by Adriprints

For knitters who want to publish their designs, or just share their work with friends, having a good charting font can be a real help. There’s a brand-new font from Adriprints that looks fabulous: it’s called StitchinKnitâ„¢.

Three versions — regular, chunky and handdrawn  — cost a mere $6. Mac and PC versions both available. Awesome.

P.S. My friend Dawn reminds me to be excited also about the crochet font they have…right here!

Box of Love

box of love contents

I have a fiber shopping problem: my desires frequently exceed my monetary means, especially at fiber events like Maryland, Rhinebeck and SOAR. Adding insult to bank account injury, I often buy the same or very similar fiber/colorway when I’m on a fiber jaunt as I already have in my stash.

Discovering that we all have the same problem, my fiber sisters and I came up with a plan.

We call it Box of Love. When faced with a fiber show we bring along a box or bag of our “right now fiber obsessions”, what we love the most currently in our spinning lives. The Box of Love helps keep shopping within our budgets in several ways:

there is a LOT of love in that box

It reminds us we have a lot of stuff, so there’s no extra shopping due to impending fiber scarcity.

It fulfills the current fiber obsession because our Boxes of Love contain our most loved fibers, so we buy fewer duplicate fibers and colorways.

It lets us feel rich with fiber. At the end of the day at the hotel, when everyone spills out their purchases in a huge fiber wallow, we have our Boxes of Love to add to our modest, within-our-budget purchases, to create our own mountain of fiber love.

I’ve been bringing a Box of Love along on fiber excursions for more than two years. It lets me shop wantonly, but wisely.

love.

A peek into a current Box of Love shows my current fascination with: merino blended with anything shiny, shades of dirt, Briar Rose, Spunky Eclectic, Lynne Vogel and Tanis Fiber Arts spinning fibers.

Outdoor Knitting Kit

Kate Knitting in Public

If you’re planning to participate in WWKIP day this coming weekend – and especially if you’re going to be part of the Toronto-based attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for most knitters in one place – you need to be prepared. You want to have your tools with you, but you also want to pack light so you’re mobile.

Here are the tools I recommend you carry if you’re going to leave the house with your knitting:

  • a handful of safety pins or removable stitch markers – these are great for catching dropped stitches or using as extra markers, or to keep track of your progress – I tend to just stick them in my knitting before I leave the house
  • a crochet hook – for picking up any pesky dropped stitches
  • a photocopy of your pattern or chart, in a plastic bag or sheet protector & a waterproof knitting bag – waterbottles do spill

As to other tools – consider your project and where it’s at:

  • will you need scissors? Only if you will need to change yarn, or be seaming or weaving in ends.  Many knitters find nail clippers good for out-of-home knitting, or you may be able to break the yarn – test an end!
  • will you need a tape measure? Will you need to measure anything? Did you know a US dollar bill is exactly 6 inches wide?  Know the length of your needle and use that to measure!
  • using DPNs? Take a spare, or change to magic loop for the day.

The objective is to take only the absolute essentials, so be ruthless about paring down your kit for the day.

Ideal outdoor knitting projects:

  • something small – do you really want to be dragging that blanket around town? lace! socks! kids’ garments!
  • something for which you don’t need to consult the pattern very often, but bring the pattern anyway (ok, make that easy lace)
  • something in cotton, silk or smooth wool – if it’s summer where you are, you’ll want it to be cool to handle (no mohair or alpaca)
  • something you want to show off

My all-time favorite knit-in-public project is a plain old stocking stitch sock – I get the cast-on and ribbing done at home, and then I’m off to the races just plain knittin’ for a while.

Non knit-specific but still very useful things to have on hand:

  • sunscreen & hat
  • water bottle
  • wet wipes to clean your hands before you start knitting – because ice cream stains are hard to get out of wool
  • a big smile – you may well be photographed

And just as for travel knitting, it’s not a bad idea to thread a lifeline before you do leave the house.

The happiest day of the week?

Perfume oil from Bathing in Luxury

It’s Obsession Thursday again! Here’s what I’ve been coveting lately:

Bathing in Luxury

No alcohol, no plasticy smells. These perfume oils are luxurious smelling and last all day. Plus they come in glass roller-ball bottles – no spilling.

My favorites, so far, are Daydream – a bright smell with citrus and vanilla, and Stroke Me (hey, it’s really the name) – deep and warm sandalwood, musk and vanilla.


Roxanne earrings

Roxanne earrings

Huge (2″ x 2 1/2″) and light. I want to wear these every day.

The swirliness of them is so over the top girly that it makes me laugh. Amy’s surprised I didn’t buy the green ones! [editor’s note: yes, I am!]

It’s Wednesday!

Have you been wondering if an iPad is worth buying? Read what knitter/designer Amy Swenson has to say on the subject. [Neither of us have any financial stake in Apple or iPads, by the way. We’re just geeks who like toys.]


O-Wool has new owners — the Tunney Wool Company. Glad to see this brand continue!


i ate the whole thing. and then wore the shirt home.

What is this TNNA everyone’s talking about? It’s The National Needlework Association, and people in the industry use the abbreviation as shorthand to refer to the semi-annual tradeshow.

The biggest one of the year happens next weekend in Columbus, Ohio, and yarn companies, manufacturers of bags and needles and notions, publishers and designers will all descend on the city to find out what’s new.

Many of them will walk across the street to the North Market for a daily dose of Jeni’s Ice Cream, too. Ice cream consumption doesn’t count when we’re working, right?


This weekend, many of our Knitterati are off to Squam. What’s a Squam? Not really sure, but it sounds fabulous. It’s an art camp in New Hampshire, and Toronto’s own Yarn Harlot is on her way there as I type this, as are Ysolda Teague, Jess and Casey from Ravelry, and many more.

Sounds like something to pencil into your calendar for 2011, no?