Obsession Thursday: current obsessions roundup

Oh, SO MANY THINGS are happening in my world. Here are two:

Something you didn’t know about me: I learned to code HTML in the late ’90s. In the early ’00s, I switched to Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver can make you a lazy coder. It made me a lazy coder. It is easy to look at the pretty WYSIWYG page result and think you’re done. At the same time, my ex taught himself to be a heavy-duty coder in Javascript, PHP and other such stuff. He bumped up Knitty’s back end, creating a database of all the Knitty content, an advertising system, printer-friendly pages. Lots more.

my new friends.

Meanwhile, I started noticing that I had a significant deficit in understanding how HTML had changed over the years. The word “deprecated” slapped me hard a few times. I looked at online tutorials, tried to absorb what I found at  and none of it sunk in. I resigned myself to being a words and pictures girl. But I wasn’t happy with myself. I felt lesser. So I signed up for an HTML/CSS class at the board of ed. The only good thing that came of that lame class was my meeting online, after a few frustrated tweets about its lameness.  The glorious is the person who made our site bottleneck-free (among other magical things). So I’ll never regret that class. Later, I was surfing HTML5/CSS training, bemoaning the $2500(ish) price tags. But I read the reviews and found one that seemed right for me (that link is just for your info — no compensation is provided to me for the link). And all of a sudden $2500 seemed cheap. Because at the end of the course, I would be qualified to be one of those people I had envied. So I signed up. I’m finding that I knew much more than I thought (yay me!). But there is still so much to learn. And I am LOVING IT. Now when I need to debug code, I paste it into a text/development editor. Because Dreamweaver now seems like a hindrance to making good code.

I am probably the oldest person in the course. I don’t give a crap. It’s working, and I’m so happy I did it. So what is the message? The Hollywood message is that you’re never too old to learn, as long as you WANT to learn. But the bigger message is this. Being focused on the dollars allowed me to avoid making the decision to do what I’d wanted to for years. In fact, the course tuition is ridiculously cheap when you consider that, at the end of 12 weeks, one would be qualified for a WHOLE NEW CAREER (entry level, but still).

No, I’m not quitting Knitty. This knowledge will make me a better editor, and already has made me a better coder. And it’s made me proud of myself. Excited about a new challenge, which infuses everything ELSE I do with new energy. So that’s all. I wanted to share this with y’all. It reminds me of the first time I turned a toe in a sock. I feel unstoppable.

Ok, one more thing. I had bought a very well-reviewed HTML5/CSS book back in the lame-class era. I got nowhere with it. I went back to it last weekend, and realized why. The course I’m taking teaches much more logically, laying down basic skills then adding a new layer on top. The book grouped like with like, with no consideration to giving the reader a base understanding first. If I were to write a new knitting book now, I’d make sure I followed this type of educational path. Not all cables are the same, you know? (ps: I just had to go into the code and debug this post. SUPASTAHHHH!)


I broke a molar a month ago. I needed a new dentist. Saw an ad for Opencare, waving a $50 gift card to businesses I frequent in front of my nose, offering to help me find one that worked for me. Put in my requirements in their search engine: near me, good with chickeny patients, accessible online, good reviews. Found one, booked and went yesterday. She seems just as great as the reviews said, and as a bonus, is respectful of my lack of dental insurance so she doesn’t order any procedures that are not necessary! And now I’ll get a $50 gc to Starbucks, which doesn’t hurt. If you want to try out their service to find a new dentist, use this link and we both will get a $50 gc once you go. www.opencare.com/invite/as217067 Because free is nice. And a service that works? That’s even nicer.

 

WWW: Yarn Movie available for streaming, 1 Year of Stitches, KnitPetiteProject

Changes in attitude to clothing good for wool? Although not strictly knitting, I found this a very interesting and informative piece about where your clothing is made… And although this piece is thick with industry-speak and business terms, the key takeaway is that Woolmark, the industry organization for the promotion of wool  is sensing a global movement towards awareness of the costs of ‘fast fashion’, and as a result consumers are moving towards a different shopping approach, that could be very good for wool.


As a woman of less-than-average height (I was recently asked by an even-less-than-average-height woman to help her get something off a shelf in the supermarket, and we both had a good giggle about the idea that at 5 foot 2 I was the tall one) I’m following the #KnitPetiteProject with great interest. Designer Teresa Gregorio is gathering data to help develop a more accurate sizing model for the “less-than-average” sizes in knitting patterns.


Registration is now open for the TNNA Summer show, this coming June. TNNA is a professional organization for yarn companies, yarn shops and other players in the industry. The June show is the traditional showcase for new products, and a place where everyone gathers to meet and discuss business and strategy and all things yarny. Amy and Jillian always go (ed note: this year, it’s just Amy…Jillian will be traveling with her family before her eldest goes off to college!), and this year I’ll be there, too, teaching my Pattern Writing class.


Yarn the Movie is now available for streaming on Amazon, if you’re in the U.S. Featuring lots of wonderful visuals and interesting stories, it’s about the work of a number of different artists, who use a common medium: yarn.


Again, not knitting, but I absolutely adore this: a year’s worth of embroidery, created and documented by Hannah Claire Somerville in Instagram posts and a one-minute video over 2016. There’s lots to treasure here, include the artist’s approach to learning and dedication to her craft. No matter what, every single day, she stitched something. And she’s doing it again for 2017.

January 1, 2017. First stitches of the new year! I’m thrilled to be starting a new swatch and to have so many people joining in this year! One outcome from last year’s project is that I was able to feel present in my daily life again. This has been extremely important the past 10 days because I have been traveling and spending time with family and friends who live across country from me. I actually can’t remember the last time I have spent so much time with my loved ones, it’s been amazing. With that being said, I am so floored by all the positive feedback I have received and that so many people have started their own projects, it’s beyond what I could have ever imagined. I want to apologize that I have not been engaging as much on IG. I have many high hopes for 2017 and this project, which I will be sharing in the coming days. I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Eve and has a happy and healthy new year! Thank you all for being a part of this project and I’m excited to be stitching with you all in 2017! #1yearofstitches #wip #embroidery #embroideryart #handembroidery #contemporaryembroidery #bordado #broderie #embroideryinstaguild #stitches #backstitch #white #2017 #firststitch #newyearsday #sunday #sundaynight #thread #fiberart #sewing #textiles #textileart #art #needleandthread

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WWW: The Knit Show; Knitter’s Yoga Warm-up; March Madness

Love this! Knit designer and teacher Vickie Howell has just launched a kickstarter campaign for “The Knit Show,” the first community funded and internationally accessible episodic how-to knitting web series.

Vickie’s “Knitty Gritty” TV series was enormously popular, and many were disappointed when it ended in 2009. Inspired by the messages she receives every day from viewers saying how they miss having a television show that speaks directly to the knitting & crochet community, Vickie has decided to launch a series online.

“The Knit Show with Vickie Howell,” will be a web-based series, and Vickie tells us that she aims to combining all the popular segments from her previous shows: industry experts and superstar guests; knitting & crochet tips and techniques, and modern, accessible high-quality projects in a range of levels.

For more info, visit the Kickstarter  page.


A yoga warm-up, ‘tailor-made’ (very very loose pun intended) for knitters.


Some wisdom on Garment Fit, on the Interweave blog.


In which we own up to knowing absolutely nothing about sports… Love that Mason Dixon has launched their own version of a March Madness Bracket. But this one is something I understand: knitting patterns. Brilliant!


Donna Druchunas and her friend, designer Annie Wenstrup, have partnered up to raise funds for International Rescue Committee, an organization that supports refugees from Syria. If you donate to the organization, you can enter to win a beautiful Qiviut cowl.


In which a crafter muses on the change in craft and craft-based relationships brought about by our current challenging political climate. Even this article is the subject of debate, as not all agree with the closing point… Worth a read, either way!

WEBS First Ever Spinning Summit – September 29- October 1

Can you hear the angels singing? it’s WEBS! Photo by WEBS

 

Unless you participate in no social media, you’ve heard of the amazing knitting retreats that WEBS puts on. They are newer to the retreat game, but hit it right out of the park starting with their very first retreat.

 

A tiny peek at WEBS spinning section – a wall of fiber. photo by WEBS

 

 

Now Amy Greeman and the gang at WEBS is doing the same for spinning. September 29 – October 1 is the first WEBS Spinning Summit and it’s going to be a doozy!

Abby Franquemont, Amy King, Beth Smith and I are all teaching. There are 12 classes to choose from (you get to pick three) all selected based on each teacher’s expertise and passion, including Abby teaching spindles, Beth teaching breeds, Amy teaching color and yarn structure and I’m teaching spinning for color, batts and knitting.

 

 

Downtown!

 

 

The classes are being held in the store. Yes that’s right, steps from all of that yarn and fiber. I know WEBS is legend for their yarn selection, but have you seen their spinning section? Mmmm, mmmm good!

There will be a special after hours marketplace with retreat-only discounts, spinners yoga, a spin-in, books signings, plenty of time to explore beautiful North Hampton and silliness we want to be a surprise.

The retreat is filling up fast, come and spin with us!

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WWW: Knitting Leads to STEM, Spider Silk, Crochet for Preemies and Knit Ithaca

An article making the rounds this week talks about how knitting can foster the love of math and science in girls (and boys) and get them excited about STEM careers.


This editorial talks about looking and knitting ahead, and finding unexpected common ground at at yarn shop.


I love this story of how a crocheted octopus can help a premature babies thrive in the NICU. The Danish Octo Project has being crocheting octopi for babies since 2013. Here’s a pattern they recommend.


Image from Bolt Threads

Image from Bolt Threads

In science is amazing news, Bolt Threads has figured out how to create spider silk in a laboratory. Cool, no? The bad news, right now, a tie woven from spider’s silk costs $314.


Laura Nelkin always has the best ideas! She and our own Kate Atherley are having a knitting retreat November 10th-13th in Laura’s hometown of Ithaca, New York. You can find more info on Laura’s website.

 


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New To Me Fiber: The Homestead Hobbyist

logoI was introduced to Ken of The Homestead Hobbyist and his delectable fiber at the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat this year. To say that I fell hard is an understatement. I went back to his booth at least four times to buy fiber and sent many, many people to shop at his booth. It is only becasue I was on a strict budget that I didn’t just empty his booth into my suitcase.

 

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L to R: Dyckia, Nevertheless She Persisted, Eye Witness

 

Ken does amazing things with color, rich and earthy without becoming muddy. He also has the most unusual blends of fibers that I’ve ever run across. He takes very particular care of his fiber when he dyes it. Even the finest of the fibers are ‘shake and spin’ ready, not one of the fibers I bought is compacted.

Here’s what I bought, I am so excited to spin them that I am almost hesitant, but I know it is foolish to save them becasue Ken is always dyeing more.

In the photo to the right, left to right: 50% Rambouillet/50% Yak color: Dyckia; 50% 14.5 micron Merino/50% Cashmere color: Nevertheless She Persisted; 37.5% 18.5 micron Merino/37.5% Shetland/25% Mulberry Silk color: Eye Witness.

 

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L to R: Wounded Ranger, Truffle Hunting, Sinningla

 

In the photo on the left from left to right: 50% Rambouillet.25% Yak/25% Mulberry Silk color: Wounded Ranger; 37.5% Rambouillet/37.5% Mulberry Silk/12.5% Max Loaghtan/12.5% Black Welsh color: Truffle Hunting; 50% Rambouillet/25% Black Welsh/25% Llama. The blends, the blends!

After Madrona Ken had a big booth at Stitches West, he is slowly refilling his shop. Keep checking to see what’s new; I did see some Yak/Silk and Merino/Cashmere there today.

 

I have very specific plans for some of these fibers, the others are still waiting. I do know I’ll be buying more of this fantastic fiber. Are you already a Homestead Hobbyist fan or is Ken a fiber artist that’s new to you?

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WWW: Mathematics, Pink Hats, Edinburgh Yarn Festival, WEBS Spinning Retreat

LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS: A BBC Radio 4 segment on how knitting and mathematical principals relate. Featuring bonus sock chat.


webs logoWell, this is exciting! Our own Jillian is very happy to announce she’ll be teaching at WEBS’ first Spinning Retreat. The event, scheduled for September 29- October 1 also features beloved teachers Beth Smith, Amy King and Abby Franquemont. More info here.


Fab interview with Pussyhat project co-founder Krista Suh, in Paste Magazine. What’s wonderful about this is to see coverage beyond the usual craft-focused outlets.


A knitter in Brighton, UK, is seeking assistance from local knitters to help her create a double-decker-sized picture of one of Brighton’s famous piers. Designer Nina Dodd (a.k.a The Duke of Woolington) has joined forces with local bus operator Brighton & Hove Buses for this venture. It requires 5,000 10cm squares, in nine different colours, and they will be assembled and displayed on the side of a bus, driven around town for all to enjoy! Nina is hoping to recruit local knitting bus-riders, but will be happily for all contributions, I am sure.

This isn’t Nina’s first bus-related knitting project. It’s worth clicking through to the article to see her bus-seat-cozy-sweater project, that she created for a fashion shoot.


It’s the Edinburgh Yarn Festival this weekend. Are you coming? I’m going, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll be doing a book signing at lunchtime on the Saturday in the Purlescence booth. Come and say hello!


Book Giveaway: Dyeing to Spin and Knit by Felicia Lo

Felicia Lo, the founder and queen of color at Sweet Georgia Yarn has written a fantastic book about color for dyeing, spinning and knitting. It is really good, one of those ‘don’t think, just buy’ types of books. Thanks to the folks at Interweave, we have a copy of the book to giveaway!

Below is my review of the book from the latest issue of Knitty and below that are the rules for our giveaway. Good luck and happy playing with color!

 

Dyeing to Spin and Knit

Dyeing to Spin and Knit

Dyeing to Spin and Knit:Techniques and Tips to Make Custom Hand-Dyed Yarns
by Felicia Lo
Interweave
$26.99

All.The.Color. Want to dye color? Check. Want to spin color? Check. Want to knit color? Check. If you are a fan of dyeing, spinning or knitting and have even the slightest interest or hesitation about color, you need this book. Felicia Lo has been dyeing expertly and vibrantly for her company Sweet Georgia Yarns since 2005, so she knows a thing or two about how to make, combine and manipulate color.

She starts this color journey with defining color, the color wheel, terminology, and how color affects us. There is a lot of information in this section but it’s broken down to small, easy to mentally digest bites.

There is no one I’d rather have explain dyeing to me than Felicia Lo. She uses 50 pages to teach about dyeing, the types of dyes, how to dye, setting up a studio, safety, prepping your fiber and yarn and techniques. Dyeing techniques are not usually something a working dyer likes to share, but Felicia lays it all out, with photos and formulas – low-water immersion dyeing, spinkle dyeing, how to make formulas for variegated colorways, hand painting, how to dye self-striping yarns, gradient dyeing, using resists, dyeing in a ball and the all-important troubleshooting what didn’t go quite right. She even talks about keeping track of dyeing with both notes and physical samples.

Chapter three is about spinning color when working with variegated colorways, what affects color as it’s spun, how to control the length of color repeats, controlling color transitions, mixing and blending, fractal spinning, making and spinning batts, and spinning textured yarns. If you are thinking that this is just her Craftsy class, nopethere is so much more here.

Then Felicia dives into teaching about knitting with variegated yarns: about yarn weight, gauge, managing color with stitch patterns, mixing and blending colors in knitting, and an excellent section on pooling.

Felicia is an expert and a technically detailed fiber artist, but this book isn’t overwhelming or stuffy. She explains things with just enough detail to understand and replicate and has that friendly tone that encourages you to step out of your comfort zone color-wise.

She caps it all off with 11 accessory patterns to try out everything she’s laid out in the book. On first flip through, you might say, “oh that’s pretty. I want to knit it in exactly those colors.” Here’s what happens when you get to this point after reading the book: “well, I think I might like to change the whole colorway or at least manipulate the colors so they work like this”. You get the idea.

This book will change how you think about and use color.

 

Our usual giveaway rules apply. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Sunday March 12, 2017. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win Felicia’s new book.  Giveaway value $26.99.

WWW: A Sweater of Historical Significance; Algorithms; Pussy(c)hat

A modern example of the sweater. Image courtesy the Kickshaw Productions blog.

A modern example of the sweater. Image courtesy the Kickshaw Productions blog.

The history of an iconic Canadian sweater – the Cowichan, cribbed by Mary Maxim for their curling (or tractor or hockey or other icons of the time) sweaters. In 2011, the Cowichan sweater was designated by the Government of Canada as being of “national and historical significance”.


Fascinating and clever: In Finland, young children are taught the basics of working with a computer – without a computer. Knitting needles are pressed into service, as part of an overall approach to teaching algorithmic thinking and processing. One could equally say that you’re teaching knitting when teaching programming, as the instructions are indeed expressed (or if the pattern is written in a logical manner) as an algorithm.


There has been much chat around the internet – including on this blog – and in yarn stores about the phenomenon that is the Pink Hat. Many many thousands of hats have been worn and made – including by Kate and Jillian of this very blog! Much of the discussion has been around what the hat represents politically. There have been discussions about what the hat represents physically, too; not a few have been confused by the shape. No matter what side of the debate(s) you’re on, an online discussion panel to be held this Saturday is sure to be of interest. Hosted by PomPom magazine this coming Saturday, the chat will be recorded live and then archived for later viewing. The participants come from a variety of craft and activism-related backgrounds.


Models at the Missoni runway show. Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images.

Models at the Missoni runway show. Photo: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images.

And further underscoring the message of the hats – and its longevity – all attendees at the recent Missoni runway show at Milan Fashion Week were given their own pink hat, and more than 40 models on the runway were outfitted with them.  It’s a fantastic sight!


Equally fantastic: I’m in the UK at the moment, on a mini-teaching tour. I visited the V&A museum, as I always do, and was bowled over to see a hat and its story on display. They have a “Rapid Response” collection, which aims to gather and document items of current social significance. Whether you agree with the hats and their message or not, I think you can’t help but agree that they are an item of significance.

A pink hat. In the ‘Rapid Response’ collection here at the V&A. Verklempt. We did something important, guys.

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Spiral or Boucle?

Spiral yarns

Spiral yarns

When I teach my Further Adventures in Plying: Texture and Color class the class usually divides their love between two yarns. We cover four yarns in this class Crepe, Cable, Spiral and Boucle, but one of two yarns usually steal the hearts of my students – Spiral or Boucle. In this class we work on the structure of making the yarns first using a natural or a solid colored fiber, then in the afternoon we add in layers of color, variegated fibers and sparklies while practicing getting the structure just right.

 

Boucle yarns

Boucle yarns

 

I just taught this class at the  Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat in Tacoma and everyone had the love for boucle. I’m teaching it next at Yarn Fest in Colorado (there’s still room in the class if you’d like to join us), which yarn will be the winner this time?

Which is your favorite? What do want to know about spinning these yarns?

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