We loved them the minute we saw them…

Yvonne Feng, the designer of this issue’s Nachtfalter fingerless mitten pattern, is a first time Knitty contributor. Indeed, this is her first design published anywhere!

She tells us about her experience…

A Budding Designer’s First Submission

Submitting my first pattern to Knitty (and first knitting submission anywhere) was nerve wracking. Is the design too simple? Too complex? Are there many mistakes? Will others find the design worth knitting? Having these questions was a situation I had never expected just a couple of years after randomly buying needles, yarn, and a beginner’s knitting book while stuck for a few hours in Hamburg, Germany.

Yvonne’s designing desk…

I could never knit a pattern without adding alterations and flairs of my own – a section of cable, a stitch pattern, a concept for construction can inspire a project at any point of the day. When a good friend of mine, an experienced designer, suggested that I write some of my ideas up as proper patterns, I jumped at the challenge.

Although I have followed many patterns, I was unclear on basic terminology, formatting and charting. How do I write instructions so that another knitter can reproduce what I have done? How do I take decent photographs of a knitted work? What is tech-editing or testing? Over the past year, with the support of my knitting circle and the internet, I learned how to transform a concept from my needles into a pattern on paper. I loved sketching the designs and doing the arithmetic but was terrible at keeping track of abbreviations and explaining tricky parts of the construction.

Then it came time to send that pattern into the world. Hitting that final point-of-no-return submit button was the toughest part for me​.

Then Knitty emailed me – my pattern was accepted!

 The editor did the heavy lifting to get the pattern ready — they streamlined the text, fixed all of the mistakes and rendered the chart in professional software. It was so cool to watch the Word and Excel documents transform into the sleek online publication that I have seen for years.

In the last weeks, I have begun to see projects of my Knitty design pop up on Ravelry. Knitters are putting their own spins on the pattern and observing this has been thrilling. I am hooked!

The lucky winner of the Laura Nelkin book giveaway is Meg from East Lansing, Michigan. Congrats Meg, we know you’ll love the book!

“Knitting needn’t be expensive” – a nice piece on the Guardian Fashion blog highlighting British wools.

This is a follow-up to a piece on the same blog last week that discussed the Fashion and Textile Museum’s vintage knitwear exhibition. The article made an important point: “knitting wool is no longer the cheaper option”. It is entirely true that at one time, handmade garments were associated with saving money. And it’s also true that you can always find and buy a machine-made garment cheaper than hand-made. But it’s also true wool doesn’t have to be expensive. (Or scratchy or horrible… )

A great discussion to have!

2014-09-29 11.11.12Earlier this week, I was very pleased to see a nice display of woollies in the window of a Canadian clothing chain, Joe Fresh, with a Campaign for Wool sign.

Speaking of the Campaign for Wool, Wool Week is marked this year in the UK October 5th to 12th. Events and festivities are being held all over the UK.

Registration is open for January’s Vogue Knitting Live event in NYC. Kate is teaching – come and take a sock class!

  • DPNs, Magic Loop and 2 Circs: Working in the Round bootcamp
  • Going My Way: Work Socks the Way You want
  • Heels and Toes
  • Introduction to Sock Pattern Design
  • Toe Up Socks 101
  • Socks for Absolute Beginners

If you’re in Southern Ontario, plan a visit to Toronto’s Textile Museum, Tuesday October 14th. Our own Amy will be moderating a panel and book launch event, featuring three books by leading voices in the crafting world: Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles by Leanne Prain, Craftivism by Betsy Greer, and Make it Mighty Ugly by Kim Werker.
The event – “Make Your Voice Heard: The Intersection of Craft, Creativity and Activism” – aims to explore the modern uses and meaning of craft. It promises to be fascinating.

Spinning designer Jennifer Leigh wrote a great week long blog series on her pattern Viburnum.

Viburnum modeled by Cat Bordhi.

Viburnum modeled by Cat Bordhi.

She traces the pattern from the kernel of an idea all the way through publication. I especially enjoyed the posts on the making of  her lace version, the support spindle spinning, the plying and and excellent tutorial and video on using her beading tool.

Lace Viburnum in progress.

Lace Viburnum in progress.


Are you one of the people who has a plan for Spinzilla or are you like me and still casting about for ideas? It starts on Monday and I better do some sampling this weekend so I can bust out the yardage next week for Team PLY! What are you spinning for Spinzilla?

Ply to Knit: Spin the Yarn You Really Want

Have you enrolled in my Craftsy class? Have you watched any of it? I’d love to hear what you think! If you haven’t and want to here’s a link for $5 off the price of the class. Come on, ply with me!

Need more spinning inspiration? Amy King has a great Foundations of Spinning class and Felicia Lo has a class on Spinning Dyed Fibers.

Aretha Covers Adele’s Rolling in the Deep.  Listen and just try not to sing along.


Knitter, designer and author JC Briar developed the Stitch Maps charting tool, and in this blog post she shows the difference between a conventional lace chart and one of her “grid-less” stitch maps charts.

We thought you might enjoy seeing this alternate view of the stitch pattern, and JC’s illuminating analysis.

Being a chart geek, one of the things I enjoy most about perusing each new issue of Knitty is scoping out the charts: What stitch patterns do they depict? Are the charts straightforward, or do they have intriguing quirks? And, of course: are there charts that I’d rather see in the form of stitch maps?

In the Deep Fall issue, Hugga caught my eye.


Its double-leaf stitch pattern seemed symmetrical. But its chart?

The chart as published.

The chart as published.

Not so much. The chart appeared jumbled to me: Where were the leaves? What was with the random sprinkling of purl symbols? And why did “no stitch” symbols sit along the chart’s left edge only, on rows 3 and 4? Looking at the symmetry in the Hugga photos, I would’ve expected matching “no stitch” symbols at the chart’s right edge, perhaps on rows 7 and 8.

A stitch map was definitely in order.


With two vertical repeats on display, and “column guides” highlighting the stitch columns, the leaves pop into view.


And the purl symbols resolve into focus: some line up along the center of each leaf; others form a vine running between the leaves.

Looking closely at the stitch map, I was able to figure out why “no stitch” symbols appear only on the left edge of the original chart. It’s because the stitch pattern isn’t actually symmetrical.

huggaSM-3The decreases that join the leaves to the vine aren’t evenly spaced. Sometimes they’re four rows apart; sometimes they’re six rows apart. As it turns out, this uneven spacing means row 3 has an extra decrease, and row 5 has an extra yarn over. So in the original chart, only rows 3 and 4 need “no stitch” symbols.

Gleaning these bits of understanding from the stitch map was fun for me. I’m sure other chart geeks would find it fun too. But using a stitch map to understand a stitch pattern is decidedly useful too. Yeah, I could knit from the original chart – but I’m sure the knitting would flow a lot more easily now that I know how the leaves are formed, how the purls line up into veins and a vine, and where the leaves connect with the vine.

To learn more about JC’s tool, visit the website.

That’s a lot of socks-to-be.

Not new, but worth revisiting. This is Shrek the sheep, who, in 2004, was found living in a cave in New Zealand. He hadn’t been shorn in six years.

Sleeveless, side buttoned, heather grey knitted ensemble, US Vogue, February 1947 by Horst P. Horst © CORBIS / Condé Nast

Excited about this: London’s Fashion and Textile Museum has just launched a new exhibition: Knitwear from Chanel to Westwood. The display brings together vintage and modern pieces, from the high-fashion to the practical.  There are knit petticoats and Fair Isle “granddad” vests and swimsuits, as well as runway pieces from a broad variety of fashion designers. The objective of the show is to provide “a history lesson in the aesthetic and technical aspects of the practice”. Running until January 18, 2015, it’s well worth a visit if you’re in the London area.

On the topic of knitting and fashion, a nice profile of UK company Wool and the Gang, who are doing a great job of bringing hand-knitting back to the attention of the fashion industry.

Special Olympian Tyson Jessie is a knitter, and has contributed a number of scarves already.

As in previous years, organizers have launched a scarf drive for the upcoming 2016 Special Olympics, being held in Newfoundland and Labrador. The plan is to gift all participating athletes and coaches with a scarf, and they’ll need over 1,000. Local knitters are already getting involved, and organizers welcome contributions from all over Canada and further afield.

Fascinating: a story about a pair of socks knitted by then-Queen Mary, during the First World War – and how they ended up in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. The socks were sold at auction, to raise money for the Red Cross, and were purchased by Sir Hugh and Lady MacDonald of Winnipeg. Sir Hugh was the son of Sir John A. MacDonald, and the eighth premier of Manitoba. They gave the socks to a young solider, who was ultimately killed in the conflict. The socks then made their way back to Canada, and have been treasured ever since.

Registration opens today (at 11am MT) for Interweave’s Yarn Fest, being held April 16-19 2015 in Loveland, Colorado. Both Jillian and Kate are teaching – come and play with us!

Lots of excitement today in my spinning world!

Today is the launch day of my Craftsy class Ply to Knit: Spin the Yarn You Really Want!

Ply to Knit!

Ply to Knit!

This class is a beginning plying class, but I bet more experienced spinners will find some helpful tips too. I talk about singles, 2-ply, 3-ply and chain ply, how to spin them and what to knit with them. I do a little show and tell with tools and demo ways to finish your yarn.

I do it all with gorgeous Into the Whirled fibers, even their new semi solids make an appearance. Thank you Cris for providing such gorgeous fiber to work with!

If you use this code to buy my class you’ll get $5 of the price.  I can’t wait to hear what you think!



This past weekend was the Happy Camper Fiber Retreat, 18 spinners gathered and spun, carded and dyed. We had so much fun! Here’s a peek:

Happy Campers!

Happy Campers!

I think I’m going to celebrate the day by spinning!

A terrific first project.

Knitter and designer Sarah writes about teaching children to knit, and discusses how knitting can be a part of a mathematics educationPart 1. Part 2 (which includes the pattern for the finger puppet, as shown in the photo.) I particularly enjoyed the comments on the first blog post, from knitters discussing their experiences teaching children to knit.

A collection of BBC radio programs about knitting. All available worldwide. Excellent listening while you’re at your needles!

Nicole Reinders at the Fair; picture courtesy the Waterloo Region Record.

Points off for the “not for grannies” trope, but a nice piece about last weekend’s Kitchener Waterloo Knitter’s Fair in the local paper.

And again, more Grannie nonsense, but still. A great profile of knit designer Josh Bennett, and his work bringing knits to high fashion, and vice versa.

(Don’t get me wrong. I loved my Grannie, and she was a major influence on my life. And she was a knitter. But I think the “not just for grannies” thing is getting a little tired…)

Maximum Canadian-ness achieved?

Last week, two iconic Canadian companies announced a rather wonderful collaboration: a collection of Mary Maxim sweater design, exclusively for the clothing company Roots. Ready-made sweaters will be available for sale at the shop (with matching hats and mitts, too!); and patterns to make your own will be sold through Mary Maxim. You’ll also be able to buy a knitting kit for a scarf at Roots stores.


Game of Thrones fan? This might be enough to get you to learn how to crochet… Pattern for crocheted Dragon’s Eggs. 

Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I am getting a little sick of spinning samples. Well,  I think I’m getting sick of spinning samples. Here are my latest for my Happy Camper Retreat which is this weekend! I’m teaching spinning variegated tops, it’s one of my favorites!

I always think I’m sick of spinning samples and then another idea or ‘what if’ pops in my head and I’m off sampling again. I am exactly the same way with millspun yarn, I could swatch forever and just occasionally make things. I think that means I’m really a process person – a processing processor. I am getting the itch to finish a little something, a hat, mittens, a scarf. I’ll see if I can fit it in between sampling and thinking about sampling.

Happy Camper samples.

Happy Camper samples.



My Craftsy class, Ply to Knit: Spin the Yarn You Really Want, doesn’t launch for a week, but the fabu folks at Craftsy want one reader to have it for free on the day it launches. The class is a beginning plying class – tools, tricks, how to, when to and of course how it effects your knitting.

Ply to Knit!

Ply to Knit!

You can enter the giveaway here. You do have to be a Craftsy member to enter, though if you’re not, you can sign up on the spot. You can only enter this giveaway through Craftsy, not by leaving a comment on this post.

The contest runs until Monday September 22, Midnight EST. Only one spinner will win!

Laura Nelkin is a longtime friend and Knitty designer. Her first pattern Abrazo appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Knitty. Her most most popular Knitty pattern is the ethereal Mythos from First Fall 2010. She’s even in the our current issue with Gusto. But I’m not here to talk about Laura’s work for Knitty. I want to make sure that everyone knows about her newly published book Knockout Knits: New Tricks for Scarves, Hats, Jewelry and Other Accessories.

Get yourself a copy!

Get yourself a copy!

It’s a fun and gorgeous book. Here’s Amy’s review from the current issue of Knitty:

Knockout Knits: New Tricks for Scarves, Hats, Jewelry, and Other Accessories

I love that this book is dedicated to the author’s Ravelry group. It shows her dedication to learning from her students and fans, the hallmark (in my opinion) of a great teacher.This book is more than a book of accessories, not surprisingly, then. It’s a teaching tool in itself. Full of projects, each designed to teach a skill or set of skills, it’s a portable classroom in 144 pages.

She focuses on three techniques: wrapped and elongated stitches, advancing lace skills, and — of course — Nelkin’s signature of late: knitting with beads. Starting with accessory projects as simple as a buttoned cuff, she’ll take you through each technique in a gentle and logical manner until you’re ready for the beaded lace gauntlets on the book’s cover (so beautiful!) or the lacy, Gyrus Tam near the back of the book. The Quadro Convertible Shrug is another stunner.

The section on knitting with beads is enough to make the book a knitter’s library must. Information about what yarn content works best with beads, how to choose beads suitable for knitting, and much more are essential reading for anyone wanting to add sparkle to their fiber. Hard to pick a favorite pattern in this section, but the gradient Halli Shawl is a jaw dropper. Want.

I love the Cha-Ching Mitts on the cover and here are some other patterns that I’m excited to knit.

Halli Shawl (upper Left), Gateway Cuff (upper right), Loco Shawl (lower left) and Folly Cloche (bottom right).

Halli Shawl (upper Left), Gateway Cuff (upper right), Loco Shawl (lower left) and Folly Cloche (bottom right).

Laura, Potter Craft and Craftsy have put together an sensational giveaway for KnittyBlog readers!

A copy of Knockout Knits!

The Book!

The Book!

A kit for the Cha-Ching Mitts!

The Kit!

The Kit!

Laura’s Knitting with Beads Craftsy class!

nelkin knitbeads

The Class!

One lucky KnittyBlog readers will win all three prizes.

Our regular rules apply: Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday,  September 18th. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the book, kit and class. If you have already won a prize from us in the past year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $96.98

Very well done.

Well, knitters do often spend a lot of time sitting in front of one… I rather adore these knitted televisions, created by Dutch artist Esmé Valk.

Andrew Salomone, the blogger who wrote about this project on the Makezine site, asks the question we all want to ask… “I just wonder if this was knitted while watching TV!”

Giving us a bad reputation? A knitter sparked an argument on a plane after reclining her seat to “make space to do her knitting”. The pilot elected to make an emergency landing at a nearby airport.

Sounds to me like the incident wasn’t entirely the fault of the knitter… I’m pretty sure that for me knitting on a flight prevents air-rage.

In response to a UK politician who suggested that charities shouldn’t engage in politics, but rather “stick to their knitting”, the Guardian published a brief but rather lovely editorial about the value of knitting.

With the news just breaking of a new royal baby on the way, feverish speculation begins about another possible shawl…

Simple yet very effective!

Very cool: a round-up of home-made spool knitters. I used to call this thing a French Knitter, the website calls the tool a ‘Knitting Nancy’. What other names are there for this tool?


I find endless amusement in the use of crochet for ‘sculptural’ projects. Now that Amy and I both are getting better at crochet, we probably have the skills to make this ramen bowl project. Complete with my fave bit: the eggs.

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