WWW: Venus de Milo’s arms; Interweave book sale; knitting to help orphaned baby birds


Love this: using 3D printing to test a theory that the Venus de Milo’s missing arms were busy hand-spinning.

This coming weekend, an epic book sale is being held at the old Interweave office, in Loveland, Colorado. Interweave outgrew the space – a beautiful old renovated bank, and were sad to move out. They’d been at that location for many years, and a huge collection of books amassed by the founders had been stored there. Now the building is up for sale, and the library is being sold off. The backstory on the extensive collection is here. In addition, there will be bargains available on old Interweave titles. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Warmth and comfort for injured birds.

We wrote about this in the winter, and now’s the time to act: The WildCare wildlife rehabilitation center in San Rafael, California, is seeking donations of hand-knit birds nest to help them save injured and orphaned baby birds.

The Huffington Post discovers that knitting is fun and cool and satisfying and all those things we know. I poke a little fun, but it’s nice to see knitting being written about in “mainstream” media in a positive way.

Next Tuesday, May 12th, guest lecturer Julia Collins of University of Edinburgh is speaking about the parallels between mathematics and knitting, at the Linnanmaa Campus of the Univeristy of Ouluo, in Finland. I’m very sorry I can’t attend this!

Jillian’s Spinning: Living Vicariously

My book manuscript is due next Monday, so I’ve been wandering the internet looking at pretty things.

My favorite: go to Instagram and search the hashtag #MDSW, be prepared for a huge attack of the gimmies. I want all of the fiber, yarn and sheep. All of the people are pretty cute too.

If you follow Kate Larson on Facebook or Instagram you’ll see that her Leicesters are lambing. I am in love with Marcel.

I went to Yarn Fest to teach spinning and came back wanting to weave again. I think one of these is in my future, a bigger rigid heddle loom.

A Schacht 20" Flip Loom

A Schacht 20″ Flip Loom

I know, I know,  get back to work……….

Surprise Pattern: Lady Lismore – KAL and prizes!

Our first Surprise pattern is the magnificently colorful, and colorfully magnificent Lady Lismore shawl. I love how utterly striking it is in this color combo. It’s a clever use of dropped and textural stitch patterns: entirely different from the usual lace shawl – both casual and more delicate at the same time.

The designer, Elanor King, showed us photos of her original version of it, ina totally different but equally fantastic color combo: blue and shocking pink.

She provides details on the colour choices and yarns for both versions on her blog.

In addition, Elanor is running a KAL, with prizes! It starts today, so hopefully you’ll have something in your stash to get started. Or go shopping tonight, after work.


Obsession Thursday: Peeping into someone else’s world, legally

Periscope. Voyeurism made legit.

Periscope. Voyeurism made legit.

Anyone who knows me knows I like shiny new toys, even if they’re virtual ones.

I heard about Periscope a few weeks ago and jumped on the bandwagon soon after. Unlike Vine, an app that lets you record 6-second videos that play on a loop (and are strangely mesmerizing), Periscope lets you see whatever the microcaster (rather than broadcaster) wants you to see. Their face or what they’re looking at. Someone tying their shoes? Baking bread. Or, like the guy I watched last week, shaving. Which was really fun, believe it or not. This is much better than an Instagram of my french toast, I promise. And if you’re lucky, you might catch the hypnotic stream from a guy in Japan who makes Edo Sudare — bamboo blinds (and other related things) as he works. I’m sure we’ll see more crafters using this platform soon.

As you microcast, everyone watching can hear you, but you can only read the messages viewers leave. Which can be scarce, or a crazy non-stop stream of chatter. The one-way audio makes sense…it would be aural cacophony otherwise! If you like what you’re watching, you tap the screen and leave a heart. Or a few hundred. And of course, like LIKEs, hearts are what the microcasters are after.

Yup, I’ve microcasted as well. (What a silly word, but it amuses me.) A few times, walking around craft environments like The Purple Purl or the City of Craft show. And a few times from my bed. Totally g-rated, I promise. While bedcasting™, I chatted with someone a few miles away from me, and a nice fellow in Buenos Aires.  These microcasts aren’t always saved for viewing later by anyone who wants to see…but they can be. So you have to catch the show while it’s happening.

It’s kind of addictive. Follow me under the username “knittydotcom”, should you be so inclined. And if you ever catch one of my microcasts, please do say hi! I’ve already met quite a few knitters through this silly thing!

WWW: Cats in Hats, Yarn Shop Day, Math for Knitters

The news coming from Nepal this week is terrible. The damage from the earthquake is catastrophic, and there has been much loss of life and property. Living conditions are very difficult.

It seemed like a good time to remind you that the lovely ladies of Mason Dixon Knitting raise funds all year round for The Mercy Corps, an international relief and development organization. Buy any of their three blanekt patterns: Mitered Crosses, Cornerstone and A Light in the Window, and all proceeds will be donated. Organizations have been struggling to get on the ground in Nepal to assist; The Mercy Corps were already there when the earthquake struck. There were 90 workers in the country, and cash donations are what they need to be most productive and helpful.

No words.

Festoon your Feline with Fiber – or, Cats in Hats. Designer Sara Thomas has just published a book of knit and crochet patterns for headwear for the feline members of the family. She admits that only one of her two cats enjoys playing model: her second cat, Sinclair, prefers to ‘attack’ the creations, rather than wear them. Having known a lot of cats in my life, I’m actually impressed that she’s found any cat willing to model…

This Saturday is Yarn Shop Day in the UK. See this map to find participating shops… there will be special activities and sales and giveaways and all sorts of fibery fun.

Yes, it’s that time of year: the baseball season! And nothing goes better with baseball than knitting.  And you know what that means: Stitch & Pitch. There’s a listing of events at the link.

Looking forward to other summery yarny things to do: the planning for the 2015 edition of Toronto’s TTC Knitalong is kicking off. This year’s date is Saturday August 22nd. Follow the blog or the Twitter account for updates.

Combining some of my favourite things: coffee, yarn and science! Knitter and felter Lynn has run a series of tests to prove the effectiveness of a felted wool coffee-pot cozy.

Our own Kate (hey! that’s me!) has got a few new online classes in the works: this Wednesday and Wednesday the 13th of May, she’s running a two-part web seminar on the topic of Math for Knitters. Designed to help you conquer the tricky numbers problems in knitting, the first part focuses on yarn shop and pattern math: how to use a bit of simple arithmetic to help you confidently make yarn substitutions, to track your progress in a pattern, and to handle challenging instructions like “at the same time” and “increase evenly across”. Part two focuses on gauge and garment math – what to do if you can’t match gauge, and strategies for garment alterations.

Even if you can’t attend live, you can listen ‘after the fact’ – and indeed, registration gives you full on-demand access for a year. Info on part one here, and part two here. Attend live if you can, I think the best part of these web seminars is the live q&a.

With tongue planted very firmly in cheek, humor site McSweeney’s writes about knitting circles… “THERE ARE NO EGOS IN OUR KNITTING GROUP“. Spoiler alert: there are, and they are kinda hysterical.

Jillian’s Spinning: Planning for a Fiber Show – the Shopping

Maryland is coming! Maryland is coming! Who’s going? I am not this year, but I am going to the Michigan Fiber Festival in August and no matter which fiber shows I go to, big or small, I plan for the shopping the same way.

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Map

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival Map

Step 1: Obsess over the Vendors List. I study that thing harder than I ever studied at school. I usually print it out and highlight it within an inch of it’s life – must buy, must see, just look quickly, go look if there is time. That’s four levels of vendors, but wait there’s one more…

Step 2: Plan project buying. My first run at the Vendors List is like a five-year-old me at my birthday party, hopped up on sugar and shredding the paper off of my gifts. Think of a curly haired Tasmanian Devil. I have to get it out of my system. After I am satisfied that there is an extreme amount of amazing fiber possibilities I settle down a little.  I look at idea lists and patterns and pick a few to shop for, usually three. One just won’t do and more than three is overwhelming to me. Then I match projects to highlighted vendors.

Step 3: Print out a Festival Map and mark my vendors on it – in many colors. I usually enlarge the map at home or at a copy shop, so I can fit vendor’s names on it.

Step 4: Come up with some sort of a budget that I never, ever, stick to.

Step 5: Consult with my traveling companions and adjust shopping needs because they always have great ideas I hadn’t thought of. We also plan some divide and conquer shopping like standing in line for Jenny the Potter, Miss Babs, Lisa Souza and lunch.

Step 6: Make a color coded spread sheet that matches the map. Don’t judge, it gives me joy.

Then I go to the show, lose my mind with happiness and wool fumes, do about half of my list and spend twice the money I budgeted.  It never stops being fun.

How do you plan for shopping at a fiber show?

WWW: Political Pincushions; On the Wrong Side; Knitting Dinner Theatre

The waistband of a 1960s-era Chanel wool suit. (Swoon.)

Definitely not knitting, but definitely great: The blog “INSIDE OUT” is connected to an exhibition at Kent State Museum, and it focuses on the insides of garments. In the words of the curator…

Fashion history usually focuses on changing silhouettes with the rise and fall of hemlines or the tightening and loosening of waistlines. Underlying these external shifts are structural changes that appear only when the garments are laid out and examined closely. Creating three-dimensional garments from bolts of cloth demands solving certain basic problems: how to finish the edges, how to fasten the garments, how to shape the material around the body’s curves. Dressmakers and tailors have addressed these problems with a number of ingenious methods. Some of these techniques reappear in every era while others are specific to a period. Technological innovations have had a direct effect on construction techniques. The invention of snaps and zippers obviously affected designs, as did wider looms and sewing machines. This exhibition tracks these changes with a careful selection of representative pieces, which are mounted in ways to allow visitors to take a close look at the interiors.

There are lots of fantastic photos on the blog.

Love this! As the UK election approaches, the group Knit for Peace has been hosting workshops to teach you how to make your own pin-cushion/voodoo doll of the crafters’ least favourite political candidates. They’re non-partisan, providing instruction for all of the major parties…

Members of cast of “Stitch, Bitch n’ Die”.

Fun: a theatre group in Wisconsin is stretching the skills of some of the cast of their latest play by demanding they learn to knit. The Portage Area Community Theatre group is putting on a murder mystery play, “Stitch, Bitch n’ Die”, written by Minnesota native Joseph Scrimshaw. Attendees are encouraged to bring knitting to the show – and prizes will be awarded to knitters who stitch their way through the show. The play’s action focuses on a group of knitters who call themselves ‘K.U.I’ (Knitting Under the Influence), and takes places around their favorite yarn store.

Jillian’s Spinning: Yarn Fest and More Spinning Videos

Wow. That about sums up my trip to Yarn Fest. I taught 122 students over 4 days. The students are Yarn Fest were excellent spinners to start, I am honored that they chose to take my classes to add to their skills. We had a lot of fun in class, lots of stories, learning and spinning. Here’s a peek.

Spinners spinning!

Spinners spinning!

Yarn Fest was a big hit, I saw a ton of smiling faces knitting, spinning, weaving and crocheting. There are already dates for next year. I hope I get to teach again!

While I was in Colorado I taped two spinning videos at Interweave one on spinning batts and one on spinning variegated braids.  They’ll be released this summer.

Filming at Interweave!

Filming at Interweave!

Did you go to Yarn Fest? What did you think?

Geek Socks

I’m a sock knitter. You might know that.  And I have a particular weakness for self-striping sock yarns. It’s fun to move to the next color, sure… but after a while, you’ve got a drawer full of pretty similar socks… stripe, stripe, stripe, stripe.

How to make it a bit different? How to vary up the patterning without up the difficulty level (or indeed creating a million loose ends to be woven in)?

First-time Knitty designer Wei S. Leong has come up with a simple yet clever solution (my favorite kind) in this slipped stitch color pattern, The Geek Socks. A well-place pattern of slipped stitches makes wavy-wiggly stripes. So easy to knit, and yet so utterly wonderfully different.

She writes about them here. How good is this rainbow version?


Obsession Thursday: Freaking out over 3D printing

I am, without question, an early adopter. But I’m also a skeptic. So I’m not the earliest adopter. I need to see how something makes sense to me before I want it. Twitter, Instagram, even the Internet. I knew about them for at least a year before I joined in.

3D printing is another of these amazing things that is just starting to make sense to me, and of course the gateway drug was bling.

I’d been following NervousSystem for years, but didn’t realize they’d come up with software that allowed you to design your own ring or bracelet.  If you’re like me, you’re lost in this brilliant toy already and have stopped reading. Just clicking on that last link allows for some mesmerizing time wasting.

Voro Ring No. 1

Voro Ring No. 1

But what if you want to wear something you’ve created? Do you trust your skills to make something wearable? I imagined making something so bulky I wouldn’t be able to close my fingers. So I went looking, and found Shapeways.

This is the Voro Ring No. 1 by 90grad@gmx.ch. Who clearly knows what she or he is doing. It’s a rendering of what it might look like in stainless steel, and it’s priced at a ridiculous $19. How could I not order it? It was an affordable gamble. Since I know what 3D printing looks like in plastic, I wanted to see how a metal object would come out.

They’re printing designs in stainless and even silver and gold. How is that EVEN POSSIBLE?

My in-the-flesh 3D-printed Voro Ring No 1.

My in-the-flesh 3D-printed Voro Ring No 1.

A few weeks later, my ring arrived at my doorstep. I am fascinated!

Yes, it’s a little yellower than I expected. But it’s solid and strong (I tried to crush it…it won’t crush). It’s rough and it’s super light. And it’s really comfortable to wear.

And it was spewed out of a printer. Does that not make your head explode?

Well, not exactly spewed. The printer emits a thin layer of metal powder in the shape of the design, and then a laser fuses it. Another layer of powder, and then the laser again. Eventually, the design is complete.

Here’s a video of the process, sort of. They’re not showing much. Is that on purpose? Dunno.

I wonder if it’s the bronze they infuse (like they show in the video) that’s made my ring slightly yellow. Dunno.

I do know that I love this thing and may have it plated in something shiny — otherwise, it looks like heavily tarnished sterling silver. Mostly, I’m just really impressed that this exists.