WWW: Beautiful sheep, Socks in Space, Valentine’s Day “naughty knitting”

Absolutely stunning photography of rare breed sheep in the Lake District, in the UK, on the BBC website. A bonus sheep dog or two, too! Seriously. Stunningly beautiful images. Go look now.

Fiber crafters, sewists and textile enthusiasts in southern Ontario are very excited about an upcoming exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada, “Artist Textiles: From Picasso to Warhol“.

From the exhibition introduction:

a fascinating overview of 20th-century textile designs from some of the the world’s most renowned artists. More than 200 works on fabric trace the history of art in textiles, with examples from key European and American art movements including Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Modernism, Surrealism and Pop Art as well as the work of leading fashion designers and manufacturers. Featuring work by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Raoul Dufy, Salvador Dalí, Henri Matisse, Sonia Delaunay, Marc Chagall, Henry Moore, Fernand Léger, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Joan Miró, Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder, most of these rare pieces have not been on public display before.

Can’t wait! I think a field trip is in order.

From the UK Intellectual Property Office, guidance for designers (and users) about copyright as it applies to knitting and sewing patterns. Fascinating and informative reading. Note that this statement applies only to laws in the UK, and is not intended to be complete or substitute for legal advice, but it does provide some insight into the types of issues tied up in this complex problem.

Silly fun!

Not safe for work, but entirely appropriate for Valentine’s Day: Knit Your Own Kama Sutra. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, designer ‘Trixie Von Purl’ has created twelve projects for “naughty knitters”.

Lovely story: Australia’s oldest man, Alfred Date, is still knitting at the age of 109.

You may recall me writing about the AstroSocks – socks knitted by a team of Canadian knitters (using yarn dyed by a Canadian dyer) for an astronaut. Well, we had word this week at the the socks are in space, and being worn!

Jillian’s Spinning: Gradient, Progression, Ombré – What Do You Call It?

I have a question for all of you spinners, dyers, knitters and wordsmiths out there.

What is the difference between Gradient, Progression and Ombré fiber, dyeing, yarn?

Merriam-Webster defines them this way:

Gradient: Change in the value of a quantity (as temperature, pressure, or concentration) with change in a given variable and especially per unit distance in a specified direction.

Progression: A sequence of numbers in which each term is related to its predecessor by a uniform law, or a continuous and connected series.

Ombré: Having colors or tones that shade into each other —used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark

 Ombré to me is easy it looks like these beautiful rolags from Just A Daydream. A single color fading to white or black.

I tend to use gradient and progression interchangeably for fiber or yarn that looks like this gorgeous fiber from Spunky Eclectic. She calls it a progression. It’s several colors used only one time in a dyeing sequence.

How do you define these dyeing styles?

WWW: 5 Million Ravelers, Woolful, Tapestry Weaving and Cotton

Kate is off recording another beautiful and smart class for all of us, so this week’s WWW has been put together by Jillian (that’s me!)  with my particular view of what’s interesting on the fibery web.


Ravelry Rules!


5 million Ravelers! Sometime during the Super Bowl last Sunday the Ravelry family expanded to 5 million. Congratulations to Jess and Casey and everyone that makes Ravelry such an exciting place to be!



Woolful Podcast



Have you heard the Woolful podcast yet? It’s a gorgeous weekly conversation between Ashley Joy Yousling and a variety of fiber folk. Each well chosen guest  who has a particular eye to sustainable wool and design and a passion for making.  The 10th episode just released, so it’s still easy to catch up with a fiber binge. There is also a shop with spectacular small batch yarn and goodies.


Maryanne Moodie weaving

Maryanne Moodie weaving


Have you noticed that tapestry weaving is all of a sudden everywhere? I’ve always been a fan, but have never set aside the time to learn. One weaver who is having a well deserved moment is Maryanne Moodie. She does spectacular, textural wall hangings. She is interviewed in the latest Woolful podcast and is in the latest O Magazine. Another tapestry artist I admire is Erin M. Riley (Not always SFW), and my very first tapestry crush is Sarah Swett. Want to try tapestry or small textural weaving? Fringe Association sells a great little loom.


Cotton spinning bar

Cotton spinning ba



I know this has been around a bit, but I still love this cotton spinning bar in Japan, relaxing and productive.







Jillian’s Spinning: Gearing Up for Teaching

I’m teaching 5 classes in mid April at Yarn Fest, 6 if you count the guild where I’m teaching the weekend before. Would it surprise you to know that I’ve been prepping for those classes since the beginning of January?

Even classes that I’ve taught before I always review to see what I could change to make it all flow better:

  • are there topics I didn’t cover and want to?
  • is anything redundant?
  • do I need more samples (yes, the answer to this one is always yes)?

And class materials, that’s an important one for me. I always have handouts, sometimes I have giveaways, there is always chocolate.  I teach a lot of classes about working with color, some spinners take my classes to feel more comfortable with spinning color, some take it just to play with color. I want to have a great variety of fiber.

I also like my spinners to have a lot of choice, color is such a personal thing, I never want someone in any of my classes to work with colors they don’t like. I have taken too many classes where I’ve had to spin white fiber for 6 hours. Even in my non color classes I like to give my students a choice. Some spinners love white, I always have white as a choice, but white does not excite me when I’m learning something new, my brain needs a little poke of color.

Just a little fiber.

Just a little fiber.

I know some teachers dye their own fiber, but I like to use dyers I know and admire. My favorite thing is turning a spinner on to a dyer they didn’t know about. Juggling dyers, fiber amounts, colors, timing, sometimes shipping, all keeping with the materials fee budget sometimes sends me running for the chocolate.

But it’s all worth it when I see my students go all grabby hands over the fiber choices, and to see them play in the a fiber equivalent of a Crayola box of 64.

What do you like a teacher to provide in class?

The new love of my life

Eureka, I love you.

Eureka, I love you.

It’s almost embarrassing, but I am in love with my vacuum.

It’s not a Dyson. (I can hear the gasps.) No really. It’s a Eureka. It cost me $59 at my local vacuum store (who I love supporting because he only has good stuff and gives me solid recommendations every time I need something) and it’s possibly the most wonderful thing ever to enter the apartment of a woman who was stupid enough to buy a black fabric couch.

Why do I love it so?

It’s corded, so there is none of that “the battery life sucks”, like I read in every online comment of every cordless vac I researched.

It’s bagless.

It sucks like you would not believe and has a rotating brush for fabric/carpet/upholstery.

Mostly, it WORKS. I live with two mini-rex rabbits (well, actually one mini-rex and one rex, but that’s another blog post). Their fur is finer than baby hair and clings tougher than any pet hair you will ever encounter. I had a cushion that I hadn’t cleaned since before the move. COVERED in an embarrassing amount of clumpy super-fine fur. This thing cleaned it like new in less than a minute. LIKE NEW. And then I popped the plastic dust cover off (that clear thing in the pic above), and the super-fine fur was neatly gathered in the filter. Which is washable, btw.

I wish I had a before and after pic to show you, but I was so excited to test this thing, I completely forgot.  I did the couch, too.

Yeah, it’s heavy. I can deal with that. The thing WORKS.

Appliance love, ftw.

WWW: Sweater Day; Year of the Sheep; Ten Poems About Knitting

February 5th marks WWF’s National Sweater Day in Canada. It’s an energy conservation promotion, reminding residents of this cold county to put a sweater on and turn the heating down a little… We don’t need to be told twice!

A student teaches herself to knit, and ruminates on whether knitting is a better use of her spare time than “simply bingeing on Netflix”. Of course, as she gets better at it, she’ll discover that those two pastimes can be very well combined…

I’m excited about the release of this poetry anthology: Ten Poems About Knitting. Part of a series of poetry books, Ten Poems About…, this volume gathers verse both modern and classic. The publisher proposes these pamphlets instead of a traditional greeting card. I know I’d be thrilled to get one of these in the mail.

Although I hope that a mouse isn’t a mandatory piece of kitchen equipment…

I adore this: a Knit-chen. (Points off for the terrible pun, though!) Created by more than 50 artists, and bringing together knitting, crochet, felting and weaving, this yarn-kitchen was part of the last year’s Jumpers And Jazz Festival, in Queensland, Australia.

Simply beautiful.

Friend of Knitty Julia Farwell-Clay has just launched a collection of patterns with Classic Elite Yarns, From Folly Cove. Infused with her trademark classic design sensibility, the pieces are entirely accessible and wearable, but each with a touch of something special. This blog post talks a little about the design inspiration and the process of creating the collection.

On the Lunar Calendar, 2015 is Year of the Sheep. A wonderful excuse to celebrate our love for our woolly pals! A festival celebrating the Lunar New Year in Canada is inviting artists to decorate (plastic) sheep.

Jillian’s Spinning: Five Things That Help My Fiber Work and Might Help You

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions, intentions or ideas to start or grow a fibery business? Write, sell yarn or knitting patterns?

Here are four things I use to keep my writing, spinning and knitting work moving forward, and a new magazine that looks good.

1) Kate Atherley’s new book: Pattern Writing for Knit Designers

Kate Atherley is a designer and an amazing tech editor (she’s Managing Technical Editor for Knitty). If you are thinking about selling or submitting knitting patterns for publication this book will tell you exactly what you need to know to write the pattern.

2) Shoot It with Caro Sheridan, a Craftsy class.

Caro knows how to shoot fibery things, she was the eye and camera behind this Knitty cover image. This is a great starter class for fiber photography. She talks about composition, color, working with a model, editing and even has tips for a great self portrait.

3) Tara Swiger’s podcast

Great business advice without the business stuffy.

Great business advice without the business stuffy.

Tara Swiger wrote a great book on marketing and runs courses on running a business for makers, but it’s her podcast that speaks to me. I read a lot about marketing and productivity, but I still like to listen to Tara. She’s clear and concise and I think we read all of the same books. I like being reminded of what is important to my business and to stop planning and Do The Work. Her podcast, Explore Your Enthusiasm, is available on her blog, iTunes and Stitcher.


4) Pinterest

I like to look

I like to look

Pinterest is my favorite social media site and not becasue of the social aspect. Though I do like seeing what my friends are excited about. I love Pinterest becasue it lets me save ideas and follow things and new excitements straight down the rabbit hole. Also for me, looking at beautiful things is energizing, so cruising through Pinterest is my favorite 15 minute break in between work stretches to help get me to the end of the day.  If you want to see what I’m obsessing over these days (there’s a lot of embroidery and tapestry weaving right now) this is me on Pinterest.

5) Artists and Makers Magazine

This is a brand new special issue magazine from Interweave. It combines business information for makers with profiles of successful creatives. The first issue is impressive and inspiring though I would love to see more fiber artists in the future.

WWW: Food, furniture and other sculptures; Knitting for Programmers

Love this: MIT’s Comparative Media Studies group is offering a workshop in Knitting for Programmers this week.  In their words:

A knitting pattern is actually a more or less complex algorithm with the difference being that the output is directly wearable like 3D printing.

Image from Melissa Leapman/Chronicle Books.

UK’s Daily Mirror publishes an excerpt from Melissa Leapman’s latest book Knit It! Learn The Basics and Knit 22 Beautiful Projectsa pattern for a giant floor pillow.

I saw this display myself at Vogue Knitting Live in New York last weekend, but wasn’t able to get any pictures. Pam MacKenzie writes about the amazing hand-knit food sculptures of Dominique Kaehler Schweizer (a.k.a. Mme. Tricot.

Speaking of unexpected yarn sculptures… Another new book, this one definitely not aimed at beginners or youngsters: Knit Your Own Kama Sutra. Graphic sexual content. But in yarn. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Image courtesy Inside Korea/ Jeon Han.

An article in online publication “Inside Korea” tells of a current fashion in Korea for giant chunky hand-knit hats. I love the insight into other knitting cultures and fashions. Although I’m somewhat familiar with the Japanese knitting culture, I was less aware of knitting in Korea. I love the idea of this monster-yarn hat, and love even more that it can be knitted in an hour!

Jillian’s Spinning: Yarn Fest

I'm teaching, are you coming?

I’m teaching, are you coming?

I’m teaching at the very first Yarn Fest for Interweave in April. I’m really excited to be going back to Colorado to teach. I learned to spin, really spin – a continuous thread,  from Maggie Casey at the Estes Park Wool Festival many years ago, so my teaching down the mountain in Fort Collins makes one of those great fibery circles. I used to work at Interweave too and I’m hoping to catch up with some people.

The Loopy Ewe is in Fort Collins, did you know that? Along with the Yarn Fest Marketplace there will be shopping and possible beer drinking.

A couple of my classes are full, but I have spots in:

  • Thursday Afternoon – Cheaper By the Dozen: 12 Ways to Spin Variegated Top. This class is a fun playing-with-color-class, learn to make hand dyed top do your bidding without putting a dent in your stash.
  • Saturday All Day – Yarnitecture: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want. This is one of my favorite classes, we will experiment with all the major components that make up a yarn – fiber, prep, drafting, ply, color and finishing. How does each effect your finished yarn? How do you adjust each to make the yarn you want to use. This is a mad scientist type of class, we’ll sample until we drop.
  • Sunday Morning – Batts in the Belfry: Spinning Batts. If you have a bunch of batts in your stash and aren’t sure how to spin them, not sure how they’ll turn out, this is the class for you! It’s another playtime with fiber class, you’ll get to sample a variety of batts and try spinning them different ways.
Come make yarn with me!

Come make yarn with me!

I always have stories and jokes and I usually have candy to get though any hard parts in my classes. Som times I have give-aways and trivia contests. I really,really want to have dance breaks, maybe a Soul Train dance line, who’s with me?