Yarnitecture Giveaway!

Win me!

Win me!

 

What? You did’t get my book for a holiday gift?

Let’s fix that!

I am giving away a copy of my book Yarnitecture and 4 ounces of Into the Whirled Falkland in the colorway Vegetable Medley. So you can spin along with the book.

Our usual rules apply: Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday, December 30th. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the book and fiber. If you have already won a prize from us this year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $49.00

Obsession Thursday: Getting back to cooking

This is an Instant Pot.

This is an Instant Pot.

You’ve probably seen these things everywhere on social media. I sure had. It’s an Instant Pot, aka an electronic pressure cooker. Everyone I know has one (or one like it) or wants one. There was (unsurprisingly) a sale on Black Friday where it was about half the regular price. So I jumped.

Why do you want one of these? Here’s why I did:

  1. Unlike a slow cooker, it keeps smells in the pot, not all over your house/apartment
  2. You can cook delicious dishes from frozen ingredients in just a short time…some as fast as 3 minutes, once the machine reaches pressure (remember, it’s a pressure cooker)
  3. It also does the functions of a rice cooker, slow cooker and even a saute pan

It was number 2 that did it for me. I keep forgetting to cook actual FOOD until it’s too close to dinner to do anything but defrost something I’ve precooked (I do batches of stuff from time to time, but not always) or order pizza. That is not healthy. And doesn’t feel very adult.

It arrived yesterday. Like others before me, I’m a bit intimidated by this large pot with a fancy lid and lots of buttons. I read the manual. I joined this Facebook group (it’s VERY helpful and encouraging). I started saving appealing recipes to my Pocket (I prefer Pocket to Pinterest, but that’s just me. There are TONS of recipes on Pinterest). And tonight, after I do my first water test, I’m going to cook some frozen chicken thighs into something delicious. I’ve been told that, once I get the hang of it, I’ll want to use it for almost every meal. You can even make cheesecake in this thing.

Do you have one of these? Share your tips and favorite recipes with me in the comments, will you?

*The link above takes you to Amazon, where Knitty will get a small fee if you purchase one of these things. Keep an eye out for sales…they pop up all the time.

WWW: Bristol’s Colours, Village-sized Yarn-bomb, Use Your Noodle

The winner of our Obliqua kit giveaway is Candi from Pennsylvania. We wish you happy knitting!


Ooh! Very exciting! The Yarn Collective has just announced a new line of yarns: Pembroke Worsted, in colourways designed by Knitty designer Bristol Ivy.  There are ten colors, described in Bristol’s own words:

“My whole collection is based on the rich, pure tones of gems and minerals. I’ve always loved these colors and their depth, complexity, and saturation. I think since they’re all based on naturally occurring colors, they all speak well to each other and come together into a coherent palette. I’m so excited to explore them further: the icy grey-greens, the deep copper oranges, the vivid coral-y carnelians, the soft neutral greys and sepias — all of them.”


Photo credit: Mayo Martin, from the Channel News Asia website.

Photo credit: Mayo Martin, from the Channel News Asia website.

I am willing to excuse the terrible pun – “noodlework” – in this story. Indonesian artist Cynthia Delaney Suwito has had a rather wonderful piece included in a show organized by the Visual Arts Development Association of Singapore… a fabric knitted from cooked instant noodles. It’s a statement about speed of life and gratification: knitting with cooked noodles is even slower than knitting with yarn, and highlights the contrast between the instant-readiness of the noodles with the slow and careful nature of handwork. She works on the fabric as part of the exhibition, treating with care and thoughtfulness a product that normally is prepared and consumed thoughtlessly, in moments.


Epic yarn-bombing: an entire village, Llwyngwril, in beautiful Wales. Click through for some fantastic images.

Weaving with Handspun Singles – Energy Edition

Liz's cool scarf. I want one!

Liz’s cool scarf. I want one!

Usually when I spin singles to weave or knit I reduce the amount of twist so I can finish the yarn to bias very little. There are weavers and knitters who do the opposite, they use regular and even high twist in their singles and make that electric energy part of their knitting or weaving. I have done some knitting with energized singles after taking classes with Kathryn Alexander, but have never played with energy and weaving.

Liz Gipson’s latest Get Warped column is all about weaving with handspun singles and using that twist energy to make something very cool. I’ve read about controlling twist with sizing before, but it never much tickled my fancy. Liz  makes everything seem easy and fun, so I’m all in.

Liz’s process involves spinning a singles yarn with regular or higher twist. When I say ‘regular twist’ I mean the twist I would need to make a balanced 2-ply yarn. She then coats the twisty yarn with sizing and dries it under tension. She weaves with it after it’s dry and controlled, then washes out the sizing and beautiful sproingy magic happens when the twist comes back. You can see the texture and collapse in the scarf.

Waiting to be spun and set.

Waiting to be spun and set.

 

I’ve chosen these fibers to spin. Cjkoho Designs (there’s an update coming Friday) Polwarth in the Tanya (variegated) colorway for the warp and Corriedale in the Jodi (golden) colorway.

I’ll be documenting it all here over the next few weeks.

I’d appreciate any and all tips from spinning weavers who have done this before!

 

Save

Save

Introducing our newest columnist!

It’s kind of funny to be introducing Kate Atherley, because if you read this blog, you know her quite well already. Kate is our Lead Tech Editor, as well as being a very experienced teacher with a massive portfolio of classes. She may not know it all, but she knows a whole lot, has written four books (and counting), and she’s been a valued part of the Knitty team for so long, it’s hard to imagine Knitty without her.

We had a vacancy in our Techniques column, and I asked Kate if she’d be willing to take this on. Because we live in the same town, I’m able to be her Producer* (ooh! My Radio + TV degree finally becomes useful!), which frees her up to concentrate on content. And as Kate’s already created 12 online classes, she knows how to do this stuff really well.

Kate’s first video column went live in the most recent issue, Winter 2016. She decided she wanted to see what was in the issue, find a common thread (in this case, it’s a bulky one), and provide solid knitting knowledge and handy tips that could be used right away. Take a look and let us know what you think!

Going forward, Kate will continue to scan each issue and choose a theme (how Ira Glass of her!), then share her knowledge with you in detailed, helpful video tutorials. Her column is called Wiseknit™, a tip of the hat to her original online persona, Wisehilda. And, we think, an apt description of what she’ll be sharing with our readers!

*Our first video was a bit of a learning experience for me. Expect improved production values (better audio, for example) in future columns.

Early Winter Issue WIPs: The Frantic Gift Knitting Edition

It’s always fun to check in on an issue’s patterns, particularly so soon after launch. It tells me which patterns are catching on – and indeed, at this time of year, which ones are gifting-appropriate.

Love this Werewolf of Westport Hat, by EmmaE.

This photo shows off the construction brilliantly!

This photo shows off the construction brilliantly!

And ChaoticK’s is equally amazing, in a totally different way! This would be ideal for the dreariest days of winter!

Fantastically and ridiculously vibrant, in the best possible way.

Fantastically and ridiculously vibrant, in the best possible way.

PelicanGoddess’s Snowberry scarf is a winner. A statement in coziness!

Perfect.

Perfect.

HilaryO’s Obliqua cowl is coming along very nicely.

Beautiful colour choice: reminds me of roses.

And Zsazsazsu is making excellent progress on her Duvet mittens.

Are you doing any gift knitting this year?

WWW: Knitted chairs, baby rhinos in blankets and the TCM Knitting Club

IKEA launches a knitted chair. It’s hard to tell precisely what the fabric looks like from the photos, but I’m rather amused by the thought that I could have a knitted chair for knitting in.


And this week’s adorable-baby-animal-wrapped-in-handknits is a Rhino!

Although this horse is pretty fetching in his new blanket, too.


As the skies darken and the weather turns grim in the northern hemisphere, I find I’m rather excited about the announcement of Pantone’s colour of the year for 2017: Greenery!


Loved hearing some knitters on this BBC Radio program. It’s a series called The Chain, on the long-running Woman’s Hour program. Women are interviewed, talking about themselves, their work and their inspirations, and nominate the next woman to be interview, specifically a woman who has inspired their success.  Both Kate Davies and Felicity Ford appear, and talk about their yarny careers and work.


Love this: the TCM Knitting Club. I’ve enjoyed following The Nitrate Diva on Twitter for some time. She’s a lover of vintage movies, with an eye for an excellent photo, and a sharp wit. I was excited this week to learn of her new newsletter, highlighting classic movie-themed knits, knitting related anecdotes, and generally yarny fun. What’s not to love?

I rather enjoyed this, part of a meme that’s making its way around social media at the moment.

Who Should I Spin In 2017?

Three Waters Farm Finn, I can't wait until it gets here!

Three Waters Farm Finn, I can’t wait until it gets here!

I want some fresh color in my life, so I am on the hunt for new or new to me dyers to spin in 2017.  I certainly won’t be abandoning my go-to dyers, Into the Whirled, Cjkoho Designs, Sheepspot, Spunky Eclectic or Hello Yarn, they are always coming up with new tempting colors and fibers.

There is a world of color out there and some days I feel like I’m just scratching the surface. There are also dyers that I haven’t spun for years, that somehow have fallen off my radar, Like A Verb for Keeping Warm and Three Waters Farm (I might have just bought a braid of fiber from Three Waters Farm this morning, that one, to the left).

So far on my list Port Fiber, Hill Top Cloud, Fat Cat Knits  and Porpoise Fur.

So tell me you wonderful spinners, who are your favorite dyers to spin? Who should I check out in 2017? Who are you planning to spin?

Save

Save

Snow Day Giveaway! Freia Fine Handpaints Obliqua

Obliqua cowl

Obliqua cowl

I am snowed in with my children today, and I suspect many other knitters are similarly impaired by the snow. It seems like a perfect time for a giveaway!

Tina of Freia Fine Handpaints wants to give a Knitty reader a kit for her Obliqua cowl pattern in the new Knitty.

You will get two  Freia Fine Handpaints Merino Fingering Shawl Balls , one in Charcoal and one in Dirty Hippie, the same color combination in her pattern.

I think everyone deserves a gift this time of the year, but only one lucky reader will win.

Our usual rules apply: Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday, December 16th. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the Freia kit. If you have already won a prize from us this year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $66.00

Happy Knitting & Good Luck!

Save

Save

The Wool Cycle

I moved house in the summer, and got myself a brand-new fancy-modern super-duper Samsung washing machine. It’s got all sorts of wonderful features and functions, including this rather interesting cycle, labelled simply “Wool”.

20161206_122614-copy

Intriguing…

Now, I’m a huge proponent of washing woolies – yes, even those that aren’t superwash! – and having had front-loaders for years, I’ve never been afraid of using the washer’s spin cycle, but I must confess I was a bit nervous about a full machine wash for my more important handknits. And having consulted the manual, I got a bit worried: the manual states that the cycle is only for woolies that are labelled as machine washable.

(The spin cycle on a front loading washing machine and on many of the newer top-loaders, the ones that don’t have a central agitator, is actually very gentle on your garments. The spin cycle relies on centrifugal forces to fling your items against the side of the drum and leave it there, while the water spins away. After a soak, my handwash loads get thrown in the machine for a spin. Yes, even the most delicate of my knits and other handwash pieces – lingerie, and the like. When I was shopping for a new machine, the presence of a spin-only cycle was critical to me, I won’t buy a washing machine that doesn’t let me do that.)

I’ve been promising to try it the wool cycle for months, but had been avoiding it. I’m working on a big writing task right now, and in my keenness to find a distraction, I decided that today was the day. Rather than start with a precious hand-knit sweater, I decided to do a trial load: I threw in some wooly tights (store bought, low wool-content, marked machine washable), a store-bought wool and alpaca blend sweater, clearly labelled hand wash only, a pair of alpaca-blend handknit socks in a yarn that is marked superwash, but I know doesn’t do well in the machine, and a handknit swatch in a yarn I know that felts.

20161206_122645

My ‘volunteers’.

My resolve only wavered once, when I looked at the settings of the cycle: a warm wash, spin set to ‘low’, for a full hour.

20161206_152831-copy-2

Okaaaaaay….

I threw everything in, with a cold-wash detergent. (Honestly, if these were my best hand-knits, I would use a wool wash. I’m a big fan of Soak.)

I loaded up the machine, turned the dial, crossed my fingers, and pressed go. I got no work done over that hour, as I kept wandering to my laundry room to have a look. The door is opaque, so I wasn’t able to actually see what was going on, but I looked at how the machine was moving, and I listened. According to the Samsung website, what distinguishes the wool cycle is that the drum only moves “horizontally”. Remember, it’s not actually the presence of water that causes felting – it is agitation or friction. (Although a temperature shock can also cause a bit of felting, it’s really not the key factor.) It seemed clear from the noises the machine was – or more to the point, wasn’t – making that there is essentially no rotation, and therefore no opportunity for the garment to experience any  friction.

An hour later, the washer sang its little end-of-cycle notification song – a musician friend tells me that it’s Schubert – and I rushed downstairs. I must confess I hesitated a little before I opened the door.

But I really needn’t have been worried: everything came out clean and wonderful, unfelted and undisturbed. Everything was fluffy and soft and nice.

20161206_152752

Fab!

I will definitely be doing that again! I will note that when I talked a bit about this on Twitter, a couple of people reported less happy experiences. It seems like there’s a load size limit – the larger the load, the larger the pieces, the higher the risk of felting. That does make sense, since a tub full of wool will have more opportunity to experience friction. And some machines are probably more gentle than others. If you’ve not used it before, I’d recommend experimenting with swatches and perhaps a store-bought sweater or two before you put your favourite handknits in.

Does your machine have a wool or hand-wash cycle? Have you tried it?