Obsession Thursday — trying to prevent brain goopification

We’re all getting older. (Sorry to break it to you.) Some of us feel it more than others, and when you get near that menopause thing, it gets even worse. We know knitting helps keep us sharp, but there’s no reason to stop there. There are lots of apps that claim to help keep your brain sharp too. Both Jillian and I tried Lumosity for a while, and it was interesting, but it was really never fun. It was a chore. I believe we both cursed out the penguins more than once.

downloadA while ago, I did my usual surf around the app store and found Elevate. Another of those free-to-download apps that charge you if you want to do more than cursorily interact with them. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. Seems Apple likes it — it was 2014’s app of the year. I guess I’m late to the party.

You get 3 games a day for free, and it’s actually FUN to watch your performance improve (or try to make that happen). I found myself wanting to play more than my 3 a day, more than once. So when I saw they had a bit of a sale on a while ago, I sprung for a whole year of pro access (get on their mailing list and you’ll catch a sale at some point). My biggest challenge are the games that involve listening/memory and some of the math-based ones. I am at their Expert level in all the spelling and reading games. Not surprising (you’d hope that an editor’d be good at the word stuff, right?). But even the stuff I’m good at is still a challenge. This is a very well crafted app.

Damn, I love this thing. Instead of turning my brain into a giant gummy bear with Candy Crush Soda INSANITY, now I can use a little down time to exercise my synapses and pump up my neurons. Available for iOS and Android. #noaffiliation

this is fun stuff.

this is fun stuff.

WWW: Knitters + Crocheters = Infinite Possibilities

Together we are mighty and generous.

We’ve clothed bodies in knitwear. We’ve raised thousands for charities (did you see what we did for the Yarn Harlot?) We’ve supported independent artists.  We make things GO!  The Peyton Heart Project is raising awareness about teen suicide, bullying, and mental illness by placing knitted or crocheted hearts throughout communities.  Our reach knows no boundaries, and that’s pretty groovy!

The Peyton Heart Project

The Peyton Heart Project

This picture is sexy!  There, I’ve said it.  Look at that crimp!  Look at that staple!  Look at the delightfully weathered and hearty hands showing off the fleece!  This is reason #642,000 why I love wool.



And this article is reason #642,001 why I use wool.  While I’m not inclined to bury a hand-knit sweater in the backyard anytime soon, this is certainly a valid reason to knit everything I can with wool!

Not all knitters have an affinity for wool (our own Amy Singer is allergic).  So check out this new yarn created by a team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.  It is made from the same ingredients found in Jell-O.


Interesting that they are working the yarn’s “wet strength”.

I replaced packaging ribbons with yarn 15 years ago.  It doesn’t matter whether the gift is handmade, I use yarn to seal the deal because — YARN!

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When I saw this Shetland lace wrapping paper however, I knew I would be kicking up my game.  Dudes, that’s Shetland lace printed on wrapping paper!


Sterilizing hand-knit socks for soldiers in World War I was a thing, and this article gives a fascinating glimpse of the Australian effort to keep soldiers healthy by using the following recipe:

“(1) Wash the socks in warm soapy water, and dry them in the sun. (2) Immerse them for a little while in 3 per cent, solution of formalin. (3) Bake them in the oven.”

This takes blocking an entirely new level!

Because these days a WWW post isn’t complete without a yarn bomb mention, here are this week’s offerings:

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Happy knitting!



Jillian’s Spinning: Ashland Bay’s Year of the Sheep


Ashland Bay is a fiber wholesaler that has been is business for many years. Chances are good that the base fiber your favorite dyer uses and the undyed fiber you buy at your local spinning shop are from Ashland Bay.

They have just started a cool series on their blog for the Year of the Sheep. Every other week they are focusing on a different breed with a blog post highlighting history, and characteristics of the breed and wool. There is also a a breed study card to download with history, characteristics, fleece facts and specifications to use to spin your own breed study.

The have already covered Merino, Cheviot and Wensleydale.

A very nice resource especially since it’s fleece shopping time!

Have you bought any fleeces this season yet?

Monday Morning Giveaway: Baker Street Scarf Yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts

Good Morning Mr Gaimen!

Good Morning Mr Gaiman!

Here’s a grand way to start the week. 1) Look at the photo above. 2) Enter to win the yarn to make the scarf. Sorry, the man and his marvelous brain do not come with it.

Tina, the color goddess of Blue Moon Fiber Arts, was inspired by the man and the Baker Street Scarf to create a a unique colorway called “Say Nevermore”, a sexy melange of midnight plus breaths of color to enhance the darkness.  Knitty and Blue Moon are giving away 2 skeins of “Say Nevermore” on Gaea, an organic merino yarn.

To win follow our usual rules. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday, August 7th, 2015. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $47.00

Have a great week and pass the coffee!

Dunfallandy – WIPs and Horizontal Cable Tutorial

The minute we saw the pictures of the Dunfallandy blanket, we knew we had to publish it. It is utterly and totally fantastic.

And that was even before we saw the cleverness of it: designer Terry’s innovative and fascinating horizontal cables technique.

She’s written about the technique on her blog, with details on how you can use these cables in other ways.

So very cool!

If you want to learn more about how they work, and how to work them, definitely visit Terry’s blog.

We’re glad that our readers are as excited about this design as we are: there are some terrific projects underway.

MarinaOfTheSea‘s is looking great – an excellent colour.

And knittingmumma has chosen a perfect baby colour.

Kathleen wipinsanity has gone with classic white…

Can’t wait to see them finished!

WWW: Sometimes baa is baa….

Balls of yarn

Who taught you how to knit?  When I read stories such as those from this knitter or this crocheter, I imagine their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren reading and cherishing same.  I was lucky enough to catch a snippet in my family history about a great aunt using her spinning wheel to ignite a stove fire — the equivalent of a party trick for rural living in the 19th century!  I imagine someone sharing the story in a stitching group or writing about it for a book.   Stories such as these are as important to the history of fiber arts as the craft itself, and the stories are meant to be preserved and cherished.   Jot your story down, stash it in the bottom of a knitting bag, in a special knitting book, or in the comments below.  It’s what we’re supposed to do.


The world in miniature is trending, and check out what they’ve done in Castle Vale!  I wish I could jump in there and play.  Just think about this for a minute, and I offer no apologies for mentioning this either.


21 things you only know if you knit had me stitches (the crowd groans).   Go ahead, make your own list.  Mine has about 45 items on it.


Sometimes baa is baa….

They’re are adorable. They are compelling.  Knitters on the interwebs are nuts about sheep, and the shepherds are happy to oblige us. We’re fascinated by their adventures, and some of us live vicariously through their exploits.  From Kentucky, the lake district of EnglandYorkshireIreland and places you never imagined, shepherds are everywhere.  I like the salty, seasoned shepherds and fall head over heels for the romantic leaders of woolly flocks.  Find a blog, read an article and follow a shepherd on social media.  This fantasy farm girl has learned a lot reading about the lives of shepherds and the sheep we love.

Sheep are amazing, but sometimes baa is baa!

Singing and knitting,


Yarn Crush Giveaway!

Yarn Crush - a new knitting subscription box.

Yarn Crush – a new knitting subscription box.

Yarn Crush is a new surprise-yarn-to-your-door subscription service. Joanna at Yarn Crush has given us 3 of her August subscription boxes to give away on the KnittyBlog. The box will contain at least one skein of specially selected yarn and a pattern designed to show off that yarn to it’s fullest. Here’s a sneak peek of the pattern in the August box:

Just a peek at a lovely lacy shawl.

Just a peek at a lovely lacy shawl.

Curious about Yarn Crush? Here are a few facts about the monthly subscription:

  • You’ll get one or two skeins of yarn
  • You’ll get a pattern designed especially for the monthly yarn
  • You’ll frequently get surprise extras
  • The total retail value of the your monthly box will always exceed your subscription price

If you want to try Yarn Crush, Joanna has given KnittyBlog readers a link for a 15% discount off of one month.


Here’s your chance for a free Yarn Crush box:

Our usual rules apply.

Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday, July 31st. Three comments will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win a Yarn Crush box. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $50.00

Obsession Thursday: the iconic NYC black+white cookie

Thanks to elkie465 for the picture of what looks to have been a delicious specimen.

Thanks to elkie456 for the picture of what looks to have been a delicious specimen.

My sister looked at me like I was nuts for being excited to find a black+white cookie at Max’s Deli in Highland Park, Il. “It’s just a sugar cookie,” she said. “Why are you so excited?”

I used to think the same thing. A big cookie, iced half in black and half in white. What is all the fuss about?

People, it is not what you think. The black+white cookie is not just a New York City specialty, it’s magical.

First of all, when authentically made, that cookie is not a sugar cookie. Ha! It’s a beautifully firm-yet-soft lemony sponge. It’s more like cake than cookie, but it’s firm enough to hold itself together. It’s light but satisfying, sweet but not overly so. Then there’s the icing. It’s crisp and snaps when you break the cookie. It’s, I’ve since learned, made with water, not milk or butter or cream. The texture of that thick layer of brittle icing on top of that soft, tart cookie is what makes this a magical experience.

Who invented this cookie is not certain. This article from the New York Times, circa Seinfeld in first run (when Jerry urged us all to “Look to the cookie” when dealing with the complex issue of race) suggests that it’s more than 100 years old. (That same article offers a recipe. You’re welcome.)

My first b+w was purchased at an unremarkable Manhattan bodega, wrapped in plastic wrap. I bought two, just because one never knows if this will be the best thing ever. Besides, how bad could any cookie be?

I opened it on a bus to upstate NY and took a bite and was instantly mad at myself for not buying a dozen. They were wonderful.

Our own Kate Atherley and her husband, Norman, love these things too, so when I found black+white cookies at the kosher Sobey’s (a big Ontario grocery chain) in Thornhill two nights ago, I almost drove a box directly to them. But, as we all learned the next day upon delivery, they’re…okay. There’s a bit of a snap, and a hint of the lemon, but they’re not quite right. Flip over the box, and the reason was revealed: Made in New Jersey. 

WWW – here’s what is happening in your corner of the world.

There is a lot to share, celebrate, and learn today, and I’ll start with this little treasure:


Knitty’s beloved, funny, smart, and charming Kate Atherley gave birth to a brand new book about socks, AND she has an amazing lineup of classes on the horizon.  She’s coming to a yarn shop near you, and I have it on good authority she would be delighted to sign a copies of her book!  Way to go Kate!


If you’re in the midwest, check out Annie’s Craft Festival in Ft. Wayne, Indiana on October 30 – November 1.  They’re offering classes taught by top instructors in crochet and knitting (and others craft fields).

And while we’re on the subject of classes and events, take a moment and check out upcoming state and county fairs in your area.  If you’re like me, the hustle of back-to-school and changing seasons finds me sometimes overlooking local events.  There’s always something happening in the fiber arts world.



Louet North America shared the news that their founder and creative director, Trudy Van Stralen, passed away after a long battle with a rheumatological condition.  Her talents and gifts were abundant, and we applaud her legacy and contributions to the fiber arts industry.



This blog mentions yarn bombing with regularity, but this piece is special as it celebrates both the Pan Am games and the tradition of cycling in Milton, Ontario.  To date over 50 bicycles have been yarn bombed.  Best news of all, the projects are slated for donation and up-cycling for blankets in the community.


I leave you with this treasure that recently crept across Knitty’s radar screens.  A savvy UK knitter and author of the blog Chop’kins wrote a nifty post about seamless buttoning worked as you knit.  Catherine likens this technique to Elizabeth Zimmerman’s unventing, and we wanted to share this intriguing technique.  It’s pretty smart and right up the alley of those of us who loathe seaming and sewing.

Now scamper along and play with some yarn!




Jillian’s Spinning: Direction

Have you noticed that commercial top has a direction? I poo-pooed the directionality of top for a long time, “It’s processed by a machine, it shouldn’t make that much difference.” But I have found several times when wrestling with a particularly feisty piece of top , if I spin from the other end, the smoother end, it is much more amenable to being spun.

It’s one of those things that I forget about until I really need it. It would be easy to brush my hand along a piece of top before I spin to check which way feels smoother, but I usually forget.

Natural BFL top, smoth direction left, roughed up right.

Natural BFL top, smooth direction left, roughed up right.

I took a few quick pictures of different tops that I’m spinning now. One after I brushed my hand along the top in the direction that smooths the fiber and one directions that discombobulates the fibers. In the natural BFL above I can see the most difference. With the natural fiber I can see the surface is more disturbed in the right photo.

When dye is added to the mix, it makes direction finding more complex. The act of dyeing, no matter how gentle a dyer is, moves the fibers around in the preparation. Look at the next two dyed fibers, it’s much harder to tell visually and by touch the smooth and rough direction of the top.

BFL/silk smooth left, rough right.

BFL/silk smooth left, rough right.

dyed bfl smoth rough

Dyed BFL, smooth left, rough right

With dyed fiber it’s harder to see the disordered fiber. The act of dyeing moves around the edge fibers a lot.  I have to look more in the middle part of the piece of top than the outside edges to see that the fiber is disturbed in the right side of both photos. When I’m checking dyed fiber, sometimes I have to close my eyes to really focus on the feel of the top to find the direction.

Dyed Merino/silk smooth left, rough right

Dyed Merino/silk smooth left, rough right

Sometimes spinning with the direction of a piece of top makes no difference and sometimes for me it can make the difference between blissful spinning and frustrated spinning.

Do you check the direction of your top before spinning?