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?

Spinning Lessons

the precious abbybatt

I have a bunch of Abby Batts in my stash and I won’t spin them because then they’ll be gone. What if I want to use them for something better later? What if I totally suck spinning them? Abby herself would laugh her ass off knowing her batts had hit Most Precious Status in my stash. “Just [expletive] spin them” she’d say, and she’d hand me a beer.

So I did. And it was good.

Lesson: There are no precious batts.

advice taken.

Travel Knitting; WIPs on a Plane!

knitting at Newark airport

In the northern hemisphere, the summer travel season is upon us.  My friends and rellies in the southern hemisphere are planning their winter ski vacations.

And every traveling knitter, no matter where you are in the world, has one key question in mind: can I take my knitting on a plane?  The answer is an enthusiastic but qualified yes.

Within North America, the TSA clearly states that “Items needed to pursue a Needlepoint project are permitted in your carry-on baggage”.  Read their post for a bit more detail.  The Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority agrees.

Within most of western Europe and the UK, and between North America and Europe, they are also permitted.  These Heathrow Airport Security guidelines state that knitting needles are “widely prohibited”, and says that you should ask your airline, but doesn’t outright tell you not to bring them. I’ve flown in and out of Heathrow a number of times in the past few years, and not had a problem. The only exception seems to be France, which has an outright ban.

Although they have announced that the policy will change, right now Australia remains the most restrictive, qualifying knitting needles as “dangerous goods”. New Zealand permits them, however.

Ultimately, no matter what the airline and government regulations are within a given territory, you’re still at the mercy of whoever is manning the security checkpoint.

To reduce the chances of confiscation, take wood, bamboo or plastic needles rather than metal.  If you do want to take metal, I recommend short circulars – I’ve not had any problems with them.  And this sounds silly, but don’t ask the question or bring attention to them – just stuff your equipment in your carry on bag and send it through the x-ray machine.  “Needle” is a word that has many meanings, some of them scary, and you’re more likely to get attention if you’re overheard using it.  Have your knitting cast-on – I’ve heard of some people being questioned for having needles without knitting on them.

I also tend to pare down my kit when I’m traveling – to save space and hassle.  I leave my scissors, metal ruler and tins of safety pins at home or in my checked baggage.

You may be asked to surrender your needles, so don’t take your favorite ones on the plane. When traveling, I always transfer my knitting to inexpensive needles I wouldn’t be upset about losing.  If you don’t want to lose them, carry a self-addressed, stamped puffy envelope with you so you can mail them home.  Thread a lifeline before you leave for the airport so that if you do have the surrender the needles, your knitting can be salvaged.  And bring something to read, just in case.

And just because you arrived somewhere with your needles doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to leave with them – there may be different rules at your departing airport.

But most important of all, remember that yarn bought while traveling doesn’t count as stash, it’s a souvenir!

Introducing Obsession Thursdays!

Around the KnittyBlog, Thursdays are for obsessing. There are four of us here, and each of us have our own obsessions. And they change, so this could be the most interesting-weird day of the week.

Only time will tell.

big smoke by butter LONDON

Today, I’m obsessing about online beauty shopping. I saw a link on a post by one of my favorite bloggers and it sent me off to investigate.

Jane Brocket has excellent color sense.  So when she recommends a list of colors, I look. In this case, it’s nail polish made by a company [from California?] called butter LONDON. I know, silliness. But their colors are awesome and the names even moreso.

The shimmery blue is called big smoke.

HRH by butter LONDON

The purple is called HRH. All their products are free of the big bad three: toluene, formaldehyde and no DBP. This is a good thing.

There are lots of other products on the website, none of which caught my eye. I just like color.  It’s not cheap, but for $14 a bottle, you can make your toes happy.

What’s What Wednesdays returns!

Did you miss us?

wwkip logo Copyright © 2008 Danielle Landes

WWKIP day, which seems to frustratingly coincide with the big knitting convention [TNNA] every year*– well, this year is going to be a big one! Let’s look at what you can do on June 12th to share the knitting love!

Toronto, Canada: Another attempt at breaking the Guinness World Record for most knitters in one place [currently held by the knitters at Sock Summit 2009] will take place at Junction Square (2945 Dundas at Pacific) between 1 and 4 pm. Enjoy entertainment, refreshments and prizes. The count for the world record will take place at 3 pm, so please come early to register.

Dublin, Ireland: Don’t just knit — wear your knitwear! Dublin Knit Collective is promoting their 2nd annual Wear 2Be Seen on WWKiP Day 2010.

Lancaster, PA: Knit as you ride in a horse-drawn carriage through the countryside. Want a ride? The Lancaster Yarn Shop is offering rides in the LYS KNiTTING BUGGY, and it requires reservations, so book soon! What a great idea!

London, UK: The I Knit London ‘World Wide Knit In Public Day’ Treasure Hunt is legendary. The annual treasure hunt will take place on 12 June. Meet at 11.30am for send off at midday. People are invited to take part in teams of up to five people. This year’s event will have a bingo element to make it more fun. Participants will be knitting their way around central London hunting for hidden treasure and little bits of knitting.

None of these nearby you? Go check the list…there are events being held all over the world!

*Turns out, the WWKIP organizers know about the conflict and have tried to accommodate the largest possible number of people — the official WWKIP date is actually a time period! This year, it’s June 12 to the 20th. In Europe, organizer Danielle tells me that there are local holidays that would conflict with the later date, so they choose the earlier one.

What Happens In My Backyard When It’s Warm

katherine, amy, carla

As the weather gets warmer spinners head to my back yard like wild birds. Check out this photo from this Spring. This was the inaugural spinning in the backyard day. Carla (she of the orange pants) came over to spin. Then neighbor Katherine (she of the green, dyed by her own hand fluff) looked out her window, ceased whatever she was doing in her house and came to spin. Then Amy (she being the Knitty Goddess) after driving five hours from her house to mine came to spin (she stayed longer than the afternoon). The warmer it gets the longer the spinners stay and the more spinners come. There is always fiber trading, opinions and laughing. There may be dinner, or dyeing, or a nap in the hammock. It’s different every time. It doesn’t happen every week, but often enough for it to feel like a bit of summer camp for the grown ups.

The bags, boxes and pillows are all from Ikea (I know you want to know).

when last there was knitting content on this blog…

the buttons are temporary. really.

which wasn’t that long ago, I was working on my Shalom cardigan. Well, I finished it and I like it! I spent a day or two knitting and ripping the same 4 rows until I got the armholes to open at the right spots for my body. As written, the armholes go way into the back, which I didn’t find flattering. I’d love to show you how this looks on me, but there’s no one around to take a nice FO pic, so that’ll have to wait. I have to find permanent buttons, too. The ones there now are an amalgamation of a few things that function, but don’t suit the sweater.

By the way, I am grateful to Ysolda Teague for her Liesl, the sweater which made me like wearing sweaters again. This silhouette is a really great one for me, so I knew Shalom would work as well. Not everything I’m going to knit from now on will be top-buttoned with shortish sleeves, but don’t be surprised if you see this shape on me again.

Join us at a Yarn Roundtable!

We’ve just announced 4 [yes, four!] new Yarn Roundtable dates, for May, June, July and August! If you’re going to be coming to Toronto this summer, check out the dates and maybe you can join us…we’d love to have you!

What’s a Yarn Roundtable? Think wine tasting, but with yarn. And prizes. And nibbles. And good company. All free. You can see the results of previous evenings in Knitty here, here and here.

You want to come, don’t you? Well, sign up now, then!

You canna escape the math.

So yesterday’s glib I don’t need no stinkin math post wasn’t entirely sincere. I knew I’d gotten pretty far without any significant math. But I also knew there was no way I could accurately place the sleeve openings without pulling out the calculator.

Backstory: I hit my math wall in the middle of grade 10. I just stopped understanding the concepts in any way that would allow me to get even a passing grade. Word problems tie up my brain so that it cannot function at all. And math wasn’t important enough for me to get a tutor. I just wanted it to go away, so my parents [uncharacteristcally] let me drop the class.

Thankfully, I seem to have retained enough of the basics to get me through the knitting stuff I need to work out. Like these blasted sleeves. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. I took the original stitch count from the one-size pattern. Then I started randomly multiplying it by 1.something until I got a number that was very close to my actual stitch count. It turned out to be 1.27, I believe. I’ve already blocked it out — math is traumatic for me.

Then I multiplied each unit [front, sleeve, back, sleeve, front] by this number until I had what looked like workable numbers. Then I added up all the numbers and they DID match my stitch count. I was feeling rather clever by this point.

I went ahead with these numbers, and then, as I have been doing all along, pulled the work off the needles and onto spare yarn to see how it would fit and — like the original, found the sleeve opening went much too far into the back for my taste. With Lise’s help at The Purple Purl last night, we pinned where we thought the sleeves should start opening and closing, and then I counted how many stitches to move about. After that, I had to recalculate the number of stitches to cast on at the underarms [using my stitch gauge and the desired width of the sweater at the chest, minus the actual stitches left on the needle after all that binding off for sleeves]. Rip and reknit 4 rows…no biggie. I have one more try-on to do to make sure it’s a good fit, and then I’m going to motor on until I hit the hem.

All of this is to say that if you’re lucky enough to be able to visualize what changes need to be made and do the math before you cast on, good for you. But if not, and you want to wing it [ish], you can make it work. But there is never any escape from the math.

100% knitting content. Don’t faint.

my Shalom in progress

my Shalom in progress. yarn: Classic Elite Sprout

So hopefully you’ve all seen the latest issue of Knitty. On the cover is a gorgeous sweater in a really neat yarn. But it’s probably not the best choice for the deeply boob-endowed such as myself.

But I still love the yarn. It’s a bulky lightweight cotton [not a common thing to find]. Since before the Knitting Olympics [which I miss so much and cannot wait another 4 years for it to happen again!], I’d wanted to knit Shalom. Thanks to the goodness which is Ravelry for bringing it to my attention. I’d missed it in 2008 when the designer put it up for free on her blog.

It’s an awesome one-size pattern, and if it weren’t a top-down raglan, I don’t think I’d have taken it on. But it is, so I did.

My gauge is a smidge finer than what the pattern calls for, and lord knows I am not knitting the one size [the chest measurement starts with a 3. stop laughing.] in the pattern. So my scientific modifications so far are these:

– knitting on US#6 needles [the pattern calls for US#7, but the fabric would be ghastly loose], which gives me 3.42 sts to the inch

– cast on 77 sts. how did I pick that number? I guessed.

– set up the neck as prescribed, including buttonhole. set up the rib so that it looks the same as the picture.

– first set of increases done as per pattern

– second set of increases done more frequently — m1, k3

– third set of increases, ditto

At this point in the knitting, I’ve had it off the needles on waste yarn to see how it fits, and the flow from one band of ribs to the next looks good, and it appears like I’ll have enough fabric to go around my arms properly.

There’s a lot of guessing in this, and why am I telling you about my unscientific, non-mathematical approach? Because I know lots of you knit like this, and I figure you’d like to know you’re not alone. And because I may muck this up, but because of the top-down-raglanness of the pattern, it will never be beyond saving, as long as I check it on my body frequently.

So about the yarn: it’s really nice. Light as a feather, despite its bulky yarn categorization. And it’s ORGANIC, even! It’s textured, which doesn’t match the original pattern, but it’s the only yarn I could find from any company that would work to gauge. So I am embracing the bumpiness. The twisted rib is helping the yoke have the stitch definition the pattern calls for, and I am rather fond of it so far. The color is a bit sweet…something in me wants to muddy up the pastelly-ness of it. I might tea-dye a swatch when I’m done and see if that would do what I have in my head.

Once I get the sleeves [so to speak] to the right length/width and bound off, it’ll be smooth sailing to the hem. So there will be more trying on in the future.