This week I was going to be organized and finish things, celebrate with family and friends, but still clean out closets, find new recipes to cook in 2015 and move forward on lots of things that aren’t paycheck work. But instead I did something that I forgot I love, I meandered.

We had lovely celebrations some at a big table over food, some sprawled over coaches and chairs with movies. In between I baked, I spent time with the kids cleaning their rooms, I read four books in a week, I made pom poms for a door decoration

Pom Poms!

Pom Poms!

And I knit some handspun into lace for no other reason than I thought it would be beautiful. I picked a pattern so easy I knit it at a movie theater and at the Nutcracker. It will block to almost twice the size and it will be a ginormous loopy scarf when it’s done.

Lacy handspun

Lacy handspun

There is still work going on, but lots of people are off or just working at a mellower pace. No big deadlines, just slowed down and meandering.

I hope you all had a restful week and I wish you a Happy New Year!

I like the way they think.

We’ve just discovered, a rather clever website dedicated to helping you find substitutions for yarns for your projects. There’s good info on different types of specific yarns, but also more generally the whys and wherefores of yarn substitution. And there’s a helpful discussion of my favourite topic: swatching!

Note that it’s a work in progress, so there are limitations on the substitutions that can be suggested, but they’re working on expanding the database further.

A charming video profile of knitter Connie Smigarowski of Calgary, who knits mittens for children in need.

Mary Code of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, has been knitting for charity for 70 years, since her father taught her to knit during the Second World War. Every year she makes hundreds of items to donate: last year, it was 200 sets of mitts and hats, and 50 additional pairs of mittens. She still has the needles she learned to knit with, but she has “retired” them.

A moving memoir from Ann Hood: “Knitting Through Grief”.

I do rather enjoy this time of year, and newspaper editors’ attempts to find light-hearted and seasonal filler items… Courtesy of the Chicago Tribute, “10 things you might not know about sweaters”. Amongst ‘gems’ like “A cardigan worn by a man is sometimes called a mandigan”, there are actually some fun and interesting facts!

The Prince in his vest.

Susan’s design

Courtesy of the Daily Mail, Susan Crawford’s pattern for a vintage-inspired Solider vest like the one that Prince George was wearing… Susan’s pattern was published in her 2012 book, Coronation Knits.

My mittens aren’t done,but there has been progress. The solution was simple and suggested by Sarah and byneedleandthread in last week’s comments – stem stitch.

Stitchin mitten

Stitchin’ mitten

It’s an easy stitch and it sits beautifully on top of  knitted fabric. I need to work on making stitches even and not pulling too hard when I stitch.

I didn’t draw my lines on the mittens, but placed stitch markers where I thought the lines should end. I’m all about easy.

Here’s a closer peek:

Stem stitch

Stem stitch


Did you get your sale classes from Craftsy yet? The $19.99 or less sale goes until December 25. I have three I’m going to try to watch over the next couple of weeks while I spin and knit: a rigid heddle weaving class about adding textureMexican cooking and a beginner-ish sewing class.


It’s busy holiday time over at my house. We are a Christmas house and my kids are practically levitating with the excitement of family, friends and presents. I hope that no matter what holiday you celebrate everyone gets a chance to hug your people and maybe get a jammie day or two on the couch!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the wonderful yarn-bombing of the Tim Horton’s coffee truck.

We often hear about these types of projects – although less often of this size – but we don’t hear about what happens afterwards.

The Lettuce Knit team told me their story.

The project was commissioned by an ad agency, and their initial proposal had been to use the least expensive yarn they could find – entirely understandably. Sylvie, the owner of the shop, convinced them to use wool. Specifically, Cascade Eco wool.Sylvie was concerned about what would happen to the panels when they were taken off the truck, and she had a plan to stop them from just being thrown in the garbage…

Once the panels had been taken off the truck, Sylvie and her partner Angela enlisted the help of regular customer and laundromat owner Ruth-Anne. They carefully unpicked the seams,


Sylvie, undoing the panels


Ruth-Anne and her helper dog, Lucy.

and they used one of the giant washing machines to felt the panels.




Angela, with a felted blanket

The end result is a whole load of blankets that Tim Horton’s is able to donate to Convenant House, a local refuge for homeless youth.


Photo 2014-12-11, 6 54 42 PMBrilliant: Yarn shop Shall We Knit is hosting a fantastic fundraiser this December: the “UAFO” sale. We’ve all got them: under-appreciated finished objects. Those things you just had to knit, but aren’t actually wearing. The knitter sets a minimum price – taking the cost of the yarn into considering. The purchaser pays that – or more – and all proceeds are being donated to Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. More info in their newsletter.

Friend of Knitty Sue Frost came up with the idea, and she approached Karen Crouch, the owner of Shall We Knit team with a request to host the sale. Karen loved the idea, and Knitty designer Janelle Martin volunteered to help coordinate. They  report that it’s been a roaring success. (And possibly providing some solutions to holiday gifting dilemmas.) Janelle tells a funny story: “A woman asked how we got all the people to donate items. I mentioned that many of us knit things because we want to knit them, not necessarily because we want to wear them and over the years, things pile up. She looked absolutely stunned and asked why on earth someone would spend all that time making something – but then said that it’s good that people were so generous and left shaking her head, probably wondering about the “crazy knitters.” The sale runs until December 24th.

104-year-old Dody Patterson credits her longevity to knitting. Well, that and a healthy diet and lifestyle, but I’d like to think it’s the knitting that’s the most important factor.

How sewn is now? Knitter Kate Park has a range of hand-knit Morrissey dolls. A self-described super-fan of the singer, Kate was inspired by a “knit your own rockstar” pattern. She has been making the dolls for a number of years, mostly for herself, but since an image went viral recently, she’s been inundated with requests from others who wish to buy them…

Speaking of celebrity dolls: Socialite/celebrity Kim Khardashian attempted to “break the internet” by publishing naked pictures of herself in an online magazine. Knit Designers Arne and Carlos responded by creating a knitted version of the well-known cover image of the photoshoot that was published.

Be aware: linked page has a little bit of nudity, both real and knit.

The US Transportation Safety Association – the TSA – reminds us that knitting needles are permitted on planes, but helpfully, fake or toy chainsaws aren’t. Holiday travel is such fun!

Polwarth mittens

Polwarth mittens

Soon after I finished the Polwarth mittens for my Winter Knittyspin column I decided they were a little plain. Embroidery to the rescue, right? It should be easy, becasue lots of people do it and embroidery on knits is all over Pinterest.

I just wanted something simple, a little snowflake like I have on my latest notebook.

Mittens and snowflakes

Mittens and snowflakes

I spun some Romney in a shrieky green with a couple of different ply twists, a balanced twist and a tighter twist. My thinking on the ply twist was, the balanced twist matches the knitting yarn better, the tighter twist makes a crisper line.

My next step was to sample on a swatch, back stitch or duplicate stitch? I found out I don’t like either very much on the first pass.

Swatching and stitching

Swatching and stitching

For both stitches I used both yarns. The backstitch on the bottom has the tighter plied yarn on the left. I like that I can make clearer lines with backstich, but they are a little wobbly and sink into the fabric. The duplicate stitch has the tighter plied yarn on the bottom. The lines for the duplicate stitch are just too fat for what I want to do, I think.

I’m going back to the drawing board on this embroidery. I’m going to try a soluble stabilizer with the backstitch and see if that helps solidify my lines and will certainly try some other stitches. I may even try singles for the embroidery.

Tune in next week for more the of the snowflake saga!

P.S. These mittens are for me, not a gift. There is no time pressure besides, you know, winter.

The classes for the Spring Squam Arts Retreat for 2015 have been announced, and we’re happy to see some familiar names on the teacher’s list… Knitty designers Amy Herzog and Bristol Ivy, and Knitty TE Kate (that’s me!) are teaching. The wonderful thing about the Squam Retreats is the breadth of the workshops… it’s not just knitting. There’s storytelling, embroidery, woodworking, and rug hooking. The classes are all-day intensives, allowing the instructor to dive deep into a topic. There are also casual workshops and idea exchanges and demostrations. The event is a retreat, in the fullest sense of the word – a beautiful natural setting, bringing together people of all skills and stripes. Friend of Knitty Austen Gilliland has been going for years, and describes it as a magical and inspiring experience.

A nice little piece on NPR about knitting on Shetland. And speaking of Shetland, a group of teachers are bringing back knitting into Shetland classrooms, as part of a initiative to make Wool Week 2015 the biggest yet.

Love it!

Artists Jessica DeVries and Claudia Martinez in Portland, OR, have yarnbombed a number of statues around the city. The project, commissioned by the Portland Business Alliance, is motivated by adding some fun to a dark time of year, but also to bring awareness to a charity clothing drive.

Image courtesy the BBC.

Another most excellent yarn-bomb: winter themed toppers for traditional English post-boxes.

Kindness never goes out of style.

A great-grandmother knits hampers full of gifts for newborns at her local hospital.

Handspun yarn

Handspun yarn

I had a little gift exchange with a spinning friend today and was reminded that the perfect gift to give a spinner is handspun yarn. Who else knows the work and joy that went into making the yarn? Who else knows what it means to deplete your stash of a particular fiber treasure? Who else will treat it with the adoration and respect it deserves? Another spinner.

I was gifted 500 yards of chunky, sparkly, Coopworth, spun from Enchanted Knoll batts the color of Dijon and I can’t wait to knit with it.

Just look at it, it’s gorgeous

Coopworth sparkles

Coopworth sparkles

Don’t forget to give the gift of your yarn this crazy season!

It’s that time of year again… If you’re looking for ideas for gift knitting, perhaps our archive can help?

Hats? Socks? Mitts and gloves?

Need something for a man? Something for kids?

If you check in early next week there will be a few new patterns for you to choose from, but in the meantime, for your consideration I present a few of my personal faves from the back catalog…

The Morgan Hat – sized for men and women. 

The Urbanista Hat  – not your average beanie.

 The Quest Hat. Chic and interesting but still quick to knit.

The Spatterdash Wristwarmers -a fantastic way to use up lots of really lovely buttons.

Manly Mitts. Perfect.

 Toasty: an excellent warmer for the little ones.

A teacozy is always appreciated.

Or a tie.

And to begin with.

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