WWW: 3 Socks a Week; Embroidering Stranded Colourwork; David Bowie tribute patterns

Ziggy. Excellent mitts for playing guitar?

Not just crochet: in homage to the Thin White Duke, a round-up of David Bowie-inspired patterns on the Top Crochet Patterns blog.

Speaking of David Bowie, designer Anna Elliot is using her Ziggy hat and mitts pattern to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support in the UK.

WHOA: Rachel knitted 60 pairs of socks last year. Oh yeah, and for 11 weeks of the year she wasn’t able to knit. That’s 60 pairs of socks in 41 weeks. That’s 1.5 pairs of socks a week. Yes, that’s right, 3 socks a week. We bow down to you!

#111, Positively Fasset-esque.

Fab! A ranking of all 118 sweaters worn on the TV series Twin Peak.

Designer Karie Westermann tweeted a photo of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, showing a section of the design hand-stitched to look like knitting. At first glance, it’s lovely, but then you look closer and realize that they’ve also shown the WS of the work, and hand-stitch the floats…

Enjoying this very much: the UK Hand Knitting Association asked on Twitter for stories about how people learned to knit. They are retweeting the responses. Lovely.

Not knitting, but really realy great. A simple animated GIF answers a question I’ve had for years: how a lock-stitch sewing machine works. H/t to friend-of-the-show MmeZabet.

Also found on Twitter, a rather fab knitting tattoo. Seems fairly appropriate for a tech editor, don’t you think?

Jillian’s Spinning: New Year’s Wheel Love

My little flock of wheels

My little flock of wheels

Sometime during the month of January every year, I gather up all of my wheels and show then a little love. I dust and oil them, at the very least and spend some time spinning on every one of them. If I am feeling particularly enthusiastic I treat them all to a wheel spa like Lee Juvan suggest in this Spinner’s Glossary column, adding the tightening of nuts and bolts, treating the wood, taking my WooLee winder apart and cleaning it. These wheels do a lot of work for me and I like to show some appreciation every once in awhile.

My favorite part of tending to my little herd, is spinning on all of them, one right after the other. I get into a real rut with wheels, lately I’ve just been spinning on my Lendrum. When I spun on my other wheels, I remembered how fine and light a woolen yarn I can spin on my Matchless, how much yarn I can spin, fast, on my Hansen, what range my Sidekick has and how I can wedge it between my people while sitting on the couch. My Suzie Pro, she solved a yarn issue I’d been having. I’ve been unhappy trying to spin a super fat yarn on my Lendrum, it just wasn’t happening for me, but five minutes on my Suzie and it was done.

I forget how differently wheels spin, different from each other and different for each spinner. Which is why when the question comes up about buying a new wheel, there is a chorus of spinners saying, “Try before you buy!”

I’m so grateful that I have a range of wheels to use for work and it only seems right to keep them spinning happily so I can happily spin.

How do you show your wheel love?

Bimtral: On designing for specific properties of a yarn and clever grafting

The Winter issue features a new design from one our favourite hat designers,  Woolly Wormhead.

Bimtral is classic Woolly: flattering and easy to wear, and all sorts of fun to knit.

It’s worked sideways – not just for fun, but to address the properties of the yarn that Woolly chose. The yarn is a wonderful blend of camel and silk, which is soft but not wildly stretchy. So Woolly turned the hat 90 degrees, substituting sideways garter for the usual lower-edge ribbing. But because it’s worked sideways, it requires a graft to finish. But this graft is not your usual – it’s grafted in a very particular manner to create a purl ridge.

Since grafting can be a bit tricky at the best of times, Woolly has written a tutorial on her blog, here.  It turns out that the specific technique required for this hat is actually the easiest of all of the “speciality” grafts – even easier than the standard version, in fact!

WWW: Unravellers, Untanglers, Knitting for Munich follow-up

Beautiful, unexpected and moving: a personal essay from the Paris Review: The Unravellers. On knitting as “a metaphor for everything I’ve ever failed at. Note: the language and subject matter are both adult in nature.

Image from The Wall Street Journal.

And then there are Untanglers: those who enjoy dealing with horrible tangled messes of yarn. (You can tell how I feel about them just by the way I wrote that last sentence!)

Even if you know about the group, the piece is worth a read, just to feel your visceral reaction to some of the tangled messes that knitters have got themselves into. You might recoil, as I did, or you might enjoy contemplating the puzzle!

(I adore that this piece in the mainstream media is about a group on Ravelry.)

Image courtesy the artist.

A fascinating interview with artist Nicola Gibson, who knits sculptures. She crafts often life-size realistic sculptures of things both living and manufactured – chickens and shoes are two highlights – from mixed textile media and techniques. She uses machine knitting, machine embroidery, felting and sewing. She began her career after art school as a sculpter, using more conventional sculpting tools and media, but has transitioned to using textile materials and techniques for her work. You can learn more about her work on her website.

Relevant to my interests: actual instructions provided by the BBC for knitting The Doctor’s scarf. The document is apparently genuine, and was sent sometime in the 1980s to a viewer’s mother who enquired about instructions for making a replica scarf for her child. There’s a nice bit of background on the actual scarf prop, too.

You might recall us writing about the ‘Knitting for Munich’ initiative in Laura Nelkin’s Ravelry group. One the knitters involved was on CBS over the Christmas period, talking about the program.

One of the organizers posted a photograph in the Ravelry of a little boy picking a hat, and knitter Anna recognized it as her work. Anna proudly sent her Mom an e-mail with the photo, her mom shared it on Facebook (like Moms do) and her aunt (who works for CBS) saw it and things snowballed from there!

So many times when you contribute to a charity drive like this, you don’t see where the items end up. I love that Anna was able to see her donation going to a grateful recipient.

Jillian’s Spinning: Sheep, Dyeing and My One Fiber Goal for 2016

I read a lot about spinning and fiber on the internet while traveling over the holidays, smartphones and free wifi sure make waiting for planes a great time to catch up!

To kick off a year where I’d like to be more in touch with the bigger fiber community, here a re a few articles that caught my eye.


Becka Rahn’s food color dyed samples, beautiful, no?

Fiber Artist Becka Rahn has a fantastic blog post and chart about dyeing with food color.

From Outside magazine an article, The Resurrection of the American Wool Industry, speaks to the US outdoor apparel industry moving to American grown and processed wool for their clothes.

Have you added your name and location the the WhoSpins website? Right now it’s a map of North American spinners only, but they are working on adding the rest of the world.

I’m sure you’ve seen it, but don’t miss this beautiful obituary of spinning giant Alden Amos

Need some pretty pictures this first full week of 2016? Christopher Payne has a gorgeous portfolio of textile mills.


Do you have any fiber goals for the new year? I have one, make bigger things with my handspun. I’ve been locked in to making swatches for teaching, videos and my book and becasue I love it that I don’t have many things to wear that are handspun. This year there will be handspun things. What do you have on your list?







2015: The year it all changed for Knitty

It’s hard to even know where to begin to write about Knitty’s 2015. We could focus on some standout patterns that we published, like these:

252 projects on Ravelry

Geek socks: 252 projects on Ravelry


Swink: the definition of knitting and crochet playing well together!

Swink: the definition of knitting and crochet playing well together!


Pierrot: a sweater unlike any other...so joyous!

Pierrot: a sweater unlike any other…so joyous!

and the crazy innovation in the Winter issue:

Cache Cache: not mindless, but worth it

Cache Cache: tame your crazy variegateds in such a beautiful way


Knitting 2015

Ribbon Candy: vertically stacked increases = pop art


Hexadot: did you know that linen stitch can create DOTS?

Hexadot: did you know that linen stitch can create DOTS?


One of the biggest changes was made possible by our new Sysadmin, Christopher Gernon, who did this:

way to uncork the decade-old bottleneck, Christopher!

way to uncork the decade-old launch-day bottleneck, Christopher!

Though he did it with brain cells, a lot of hard work and targeted knowhow (not champagne and a thumb). We love him very  much.


We welcomed two new columnists: Liz Gipson who talks about Weaving for knitters on the rigid-heddle loom, and Lorilee Beltman, who is taking our techniques column to a new level of cleverness.

Then there was this:


But without doubt, the biggest story for Knitty in 2015 was our change in how we’re funded. We’ve gone from being 100% advertising supported to a combination of support from advertisers and our readers. OUR READERS. YOU GUYS. We used the cool Patreon platform.

I talk about the process of asking for help, and the joy in finding out help was available thanks to you guys, in the latest editorial. But it cannot be overstated. Finding out our readership likes what we do enough to support us in such a huge way is the most affirming thing that could ever happen to us. Support continues to build, even after our big launch in September, which means ongoing financial security for Knitty and its staff. In case you missed it, I was able to double what we pay our designers, thanks to your support. I’ve been able to give the Tech Editors long-overdue raises, thanks to your support. We are able to hold advertising prices steady, allowing our advertisers to share their wares and services with you at affordable prices, thanks to your support. And more good things are still to come.


We’ve had a wonderful 2015, and we cannot wait to see where 2016 takes us. Thank you for accompanying us on this exciting journey, and please accept our best wishes for the happiest possible 2016.

Amy, Jillian and the Knitty team

WWW: NY Times recognizes spinner; Netflix and pill?; Important Lesson from Ms. Gladys Phillips

A really lovely obituary for Alden Amos, spinner, teacher and wheel-maker extraordinaire. Fabulous to see recognition of his talents and contribution to the craft in a mainstream publication.

I don’t know about you, but one of mygreat pleasures of the holiday break is some time to knit and catch up on excellent TV watching. I’ve particularly enjoyed Jessica Jones on Netflix, and was very pleased to hear that the star of the show, Krysten Ritter, is also a knitter.

Speaking of Netflix, the company has helpfully (?) suggested that we knit ourselves a pair of Netflix socks, complete with electronics that sense if you’ve fallen asleep, and pause playback. Hmm…

A reminder of why it’s always a good idea to take your knitting with you when you go to ‘powder your nose82-year old Gladys Phillips gets accidentally locked in public toilet stall for four days. Does she get upset? No, she just knits up the yarn she had in her handbag.

Not strictly knitting, but absolutely fun: a video for They Might Be Giants’ kids song “Long White Beard”, with an excellent stop-motion animation… yarn has a key role. I know that someone close to the band is a knitter, and I suspect her stash might have been very involved in the creation of this video.

Jillian’s Spinning: Inspired by Travel

My family was lucky enough to travel big this holiday to Portland, Oregon. These days I travel more for teaching and not as often as I’d like with our whole family. We had big extended family time on this trip, welcoming a new perfect baby boy. We had lots of smaller group time and wandering time. It was lovely.

A knitter beside me. Socks, I think.

A knitter beside me. Socks, I think.

Portland is a place where there is knitting and fiber everywhere. Almost everyone I saw was wearing something handknit. There were lots and lots of hats, socks, sweaters and scarves. And people knit everywhere, just as part of their day. I never see this more than in the Pacific Northwest. Last night we were having our last vacation dinner in a bustling brew pub and I counted several knitters working on small projects. Including three knitters at the table next to me.

It’s something that I am taking to heart for 2016, taking projects along and working on them as a part of my every day, not waiting for a mythical perfect time. I’m planning on using a lot of yarn this year.

Do you have a new approach to fiber for 2016?

The Sidekick Boot Socks, on ‘Sequence Knitting’; now that all your gift knitting is done…

I’m grateful for all the love for my Sidekick boot socks.

(Funny story: You can’t tell in these pictures, but the boots I was wearing had just developed a hole, and needed replacing. Shortly after we took these pictures, I got myself a new pair, and the first thing I did was make sure they still worked with socks. Because priorities.)

I’m not going to bang on about how you’ve probably got a lot of variegated sock yarn in your stash that needs using up, and how this is a great way to use up and tame a busy variegated yarn. And I’m not going to talk about how longer sock legs can take a long time to knit and that this design solves that problem, too. But there is one element of the design I do want to talk about… the pattern stitch I used on the leg.

For months, other designers were raving the wonderfulness of the book Sequence Knitting. After Laura Nelkin basically told me that she wouldn’t be friends with me any more unless I got a copy, I went ahead and ordered it. When it arrived, I flipped through it, expecting my socks to be knocked off immediately.

And I have to make a confession: based on that first cursory pass through the book, I didn’t get it. I thought I was missing something. I could see that it’s beautifully photographed, the layout is gorgeous and very usable, and it’s clearly well-written, but I didn’t get why everyone was raving about it. They’re just knit and purl stitch patterns, I was thinking… what’s the big deal?

But one night I sat up in bed, and I read it. I started right at the introduction, and actually read through the book. This is a book that needs to be read. There is a fantastically clever and wonderful and amazing concept behind the book and the pattern stitches, and it needs a little reading and thinking. But I read. And then I thought. And now I’m obsessed.

Sidekick is my first design to be inspired by Sequence Knitting, and I’m quite sure it’s not the last. This particular stitch is a three or four-stitch repeat (depending on how you’re looking at it), and it creates a wonderful, squishy, stretchy – and most importantly – reversible fabric. Ideal for a long, fold-over boot sock leg, in fact.

Your gift knitting is done, isn’t it? Nearly? (One year I finished knitting the hat I was giving my mother in the car on the way to her place Christmas morning…. I let her try it on and then took it back to weave in the ends and block it.) If so, it’s time to be selfish! And just in time for the cold weather, perhaps a pair of quick-knit boot socks?

SpaceCadet, the dyers of the lovely yarn I used for this design, is hosting a KAL, starting December 26th. There are prizes! I will be popping in to answer questions, provide guidance and generally admire the colour combos that you’ll choose! More info on the KAL in the Ravelry group. They’re also offering kits of the yarn, too….


WWW: Renate Hiller on Handwork

Connecting us to the cosmos… while at the same time creating something useful and beautiful“.

I’m grateful to Kim Werker for bringing to my attention this video of spinner, knitter, fiber artist Renate Hiller, speaking of the value of handwork. It seems so very fitting at this time of year.