All the News That’s Fit to Stitch: Part the Ninth

From far and wide, from across the Interwebs (a.k.a. the Electronic Cat Database) and beyond, I bring you all the news from the worlds of knitting and stitching that I could gather this week:

  • Professor Fonz has done it again! You may remember her designs, like the “Deduction Game Chullo,” from my obsessive posts on the knits featured in BBC Sherlock series (the first one in the series is here). To go with her cardigan based on the popular “The Wallpaper Had it Coming Again” fair isle pattern, the “#SherlockLives Cardi,” she has added a boatneck-style sweater entitled, “Let’s Play Murder.” According to the Ravelry pattern site, it’s “crime-solving at its most luxurious.” I’ve been working on ampersand design’s “The Wallpaper Had it Coming (Again)” mittens which, although based on the same fair isle pattern, is obviously a much smaller design, and I have to agree with Professor Fonz’s assessment that this fair isle patterned sweater is probably not a project to be entered into lightly by someone who is just beginning to work with the fair isle technique. The results speak for themselves, of course:
Let's Play Murder by Professor Fonz
“Let’s Play Murder” by Professor Fonz

All the News that’s Fit to Stitch: Special Fourth of July edition!

Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Americans! And happy “War of American Colonial Aggression” to my British readers! And happy “just plain July 4, 2014” to everyone else! Regardless of where you may be or whether or not you’re celebrating, I bring you the latest from the world of knitting…

  • Two days ago, it was “all knitting, all the time” on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered news program. First, they gave us this little gem, the story of how the tradition of knitting continues to flourish in the Shetland Isles, in spite of its recent unexpected oil boom. In light of this juxtaposition of the old, low-tech ways and the new, high-tech economy, this story also balances out its obligatory “granny” reference: “Here in Shetland, knitting is not a hobby reserved for grannies or for hipsters. It’s something people do because they’ve always done it. It’s one illustration of how this island cluster in the North Sea mixes old and new.” A special shout-out to my friend, Stitch Bitch, for drawing my attention to the “granny count.”
  • And as if that story weren’t enough, All Things Considered followed it up with a story on the specialized lingo of knitting, specifically “frogging” and the “boyfriend sweater curse,” featuring Los Angeles’s (and USC’s) own Laura Birek of Picture Perfect Knits fame.
  • And, because protest is — or at least, it should be — at the heart of what it means to be an American, let’s celebrate the “knit-in.”  My favorite part:

“Palmer was knitting what appeared to be a turquoise scarf, and had knitted about 8 inches of it before Vermont Gas closed at 5 p.m.,” VPR’s reports.

“It is unclear if she was allowed to continue her knitting at the police station,” he adds.

All the News That’s Fit to Stitch: Part the Seventh

Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Knitting America — from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea. Let’s go to press!

    • It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  The new fall Knitty is online and I’m like a kid in a candy store. My three faves are Jasseron, Indigo Cones, and Heart’s-Ease Bouttonière (I include the latter in no small part due to the fact that I worship the ground Franklin Habit walks on).
    • Three novels that feature the dark, figurative, “kick butt” complexity of quilting, as recommended by Tracy Chevalier. I’ve read two of them (Alias Grace and Beloved) and although I wouldn’t strictly call them “quilting novels,” they’re wonderful. I’ll have to read the Carol Shields novel now to complete my quilting trifecta. The comments section also has some suggestions. Alas… so many books, so little time.
    • For any knitter in the Los Angeles area: the Craft and Folk Art Museum (on Wilshire Boulevard across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits) is having an amazing sale on yarn and other knitting- and crochet-related items from their yarn bombing campaign(s). Every ball of yarn is $1. Support a great cause and replenish your stash!
    • The Great Tapestry of Scotland. In keeping with the theme(s) of this blog, some of my favorite panels include, of course: “David I Fosters the Wool Trade c.1130s” — an important moment in history for any knitter to celebrate (in fact, sheep are a recurrent image throughout the tapestry which even includes a tribute to “Dolly the Sheep”), and “Mary Queen of Scots” which depicts the queen (and famous needlework enthusiast) working on her embroidery, the panel celebrating “Shetland Knitters” and the panel devoted solely to “Fair Isle Knitting.” The Victorianist in me loves “Victoria at Balmoral 1850s/60s” and “Robert Louis Stevenson” And, of course, I can’t possibly not mention “Charles Rennie Mackintosh Designs Glasgow School of Art.”  This entire project is so amazing; words fail me.
    • Il faut souffrir pour être belle.
    • And, speaking of fashion, the knits aren’t the only beautiful items in this collection, but they do remind us (if we needed it) that knits have a lot of contribute to haute couture. (Thanks to my friend, Ashley Gormley, for pointing out this collection to me).
Alas, there's a lot of truth to this...
Alas, there’s a lot of truth to this oldie but goodie…

 

Two Beginnings, Three Finishes, Two WIPs (featuring my entries for the May 2014 Smalls SAL)

I’ve had a productive week or two here at Casa “The Lyf So Short” with projects finished and projects started. As the song says, “Every new beginning is some other beginning’s end.” Or, if you want to be slightly more literary, my former undergraduate mentor used to quote this line from Great Expectations all the time: “Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together…” Perhaps the equivalent for a knitting blog would be something like: “life is made of so many bind-offs knitted together….” So, in the spirit of beginnings and endings and middles…

Beginnings: I’ve cast on for the Sherlock-themed challenge sponsored by my local Stitch n Bitch group, the West Hollywood chapter. I’m making a pair of “The Wallpaper Had it Coming (Again)” mittens by ampersand designs, a pattern based on the wallpaper in the living room of 221B Baker Street in the BBC Sherlock series (I first mentioned these mittens here). I’ve also cast on for Spring Kerchief by Sachiko Uemura in a beautiful silvery gray Colinton Lace yarn from my LYS, Unwind, courtesy of a gift certificate from my generous godfather. Do I “need” either of these projects? No. Will they help me reach my knitting goals for 2014? No. What was my point again?

Endings: I’ve finally cast off on the Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts that I started in January, and now I have a photo to share, at last:

Suzie Rogers' Reading Mitts, Relaxing in a Bowl
Suzie Rogers’ Reading Mitts, Relaxing in a Bowl (love that picot edging!)

Don’t let the length of time between casting on and casting off fool you, this is actually quite a quick project, especially considering that it’s knitted in a relatively small gauge. I used Blue Sky Alpacas’ Sport Weight in a lovely periwinkle blue, and it knit up like a dream. I wish I had taken “before and after” photos of the blocking process, though, since it made a huge difference in how evenly and consistently the stitches lie. I tend to be a fairly consistent knitter with not a lot of variety in my stitch sizes as I knit, but even my knitting looked a little “lumpy” in places before blocking. I think this had to do with the nature of the yarn itself which has a bit of twist to it.

So I’m doubly pleased with the result, and I highly recommend this pattern to anyone, especially if it’s your first time working a simple thumbhole. The sizing runs the gamut from willowy maiden to beefy-armed serving wench (my size). These mitts are my favorite kind of knitting — a simple but elegant design that packs a lot of punch. Go ahead and check out the pattern’s Ravelry page and all the beautiful photos of the completed projects. You won’t be disappointed.

2014 Smalls Stitchalong Logo
2014 Smalls Stitchalong (SAL) Logo

And continuing with the finishes… I’ve finally finished my Smalls SAL entries for May. I’ve stitched two “free-bees” (their spelling, not mine) from La-D-Da, one called “A Rose is a Rose” and one called “Fallen Leaf” (both designs are available for download here, along with some other lovelies. I’m currently drooling over their new “Spring Hare” design). I’ve had my eye on the “A Rose is a Rose” design for quite a while now, ever since I decided I wanted to design my own “A Rose is a Rose is a Rose” design and went searching the Interwebs (which John Oliver has hilariously taken to calling “the Electronic Cat Database”) for other cross stitch designs featuring that famous saying.

 

"A Rose is a Rose" Freebee by La-D-Da
“A Rose is a Rose” Freebee by La-D-Da

I changed the floss colors; the most obvious effects were to make the rose more purple than the red/mauve that was called for and to make the stem darker. Here are the substitutions I made:

  • For Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Chamomile” (the center of the rose), I substituted  GAST “Woodrose”
  • For GAST “Old Red Paint” (the main color for the rose itself), I substituted GAST “Briar Rose” (for some reason, I really liked how the two colors for the rose had the word “rose” in their names — it’s like Shakespearean word-play for the cross stitch set!)
  • For GAST “Dried Thyme” (the leaves), I substituted GAST “Evergreen”
  • For GAST “Old Hickory” (the stem and thorns), I substituted Weeks Dye Works “Bark”
  • For GAST “Dark Chocolate” (the lettering and border, I substituted WDW “Chestnut (honestly, I can’t imagine this last change made much of a difference)

And here’s the second La-D-Da free-bee I completed, “Fallen Leaf”:

"Fallen Leaf Free-bee" by La-D-Da
“Fallen Leaf Free-bee” by La-D-Da

For this design, I substituted Weeks Dye Works “Bark” (lettering) and Gentle Arts Sampler Threads “Autumn Leaves” (leaves and border) for GAST “Pine Woods” and “Cinnamon” respectively. I also added another little design element in the middle of the “W” in the word “wave,” fleshed out the leaves a little bit, and changed the “a’s” to a font I liked better. To each her own…

Middles: I’m also continuing to chug away at the presents for my nieces. For Ella, I am working on Annie Modesitt’s Fiesta Tea Set. For Lauren (as I’ve mentioned before), I’ve completed the Baby Bobbi Bear by Blue Sky Alpacas, and this week I’m going to finish some sweaters for him to wear about town. ‘Cause he’s fancy… Photos to follow soon. Fingers crossed!

 

All the News That’s Fit to Stitch: Good News/Bad News Edition

The Good News: Debbie Bliss has just announced a beautiful knitting-themed home collection, including some British-themed knitting accessories and baby gifts. Want, want, want! The colors are bright and joyful, the styling is modern, and the photography is, as usual, top-notch. In many ways, I think of Debbie Bliss as the Martha Stewart of knitting. Her designs are simple but timeless and she’s marketing a lifestyle almost as much as a craft. And, I admit somewhat guiltily, I aspire to that lifestyle, one much removed from my ordinary, beige-carpeted, California apartment life. I’d buy the entire collection if I had that kind of disposable income. For now, I will have to be content with drooling over the images on my computer. I’ve collected a few images here just to give you a little appetizer. Please to enjoy.

 

 

The Bad News: as many of you know from my “About” page (or might easily have guessed from the cross stitch design in the right-hand column), I am a big admirer of the Arts & Crafts design movement, and one of my favorite schools of design is the Glasgow School of Art. I am especially enamored of the architect/designer/founder of the school, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. You can learn more about the Charles Rennie Mackintosh society here. Yesterday, there was a big fire at the school which started in the basement and rose all the way to the fifth floor. The extent of the damage to the school’s interior, which is filled with design pieces by Mackintosh, his equally talented wife Margaret MacDonald, other contemporary Scottish Art Nouveau pioneers, and students and teachers from the past century, has yet to be fully determined, but if the news footage is anything to go by, it doesn’t look promising. In particular, it looks like the school’s library, which was meticulously designed by Mackintosh, has been destroyed (the previous link has “before” and “after” photos).

I am overwhelmed with sadness and the immensity of this loss. If you are able to contribute to the rebuilding fund, please do so. I will be contributing half the proceeds of my “Mackintosh Welcome” design to the fund for the foreseeable future.

If you want to work out your loss with knitting, try this Mackintosh Rose Jacket by Martin Storey, the Beloved Rose Beret by Shuttermonkey Designs, or this Glasgow Rose Stole by Lucy Hague. For cross-stitch designs inspired by Mackintosh and the Glasgow School of Art, Heartland House and Art-Stitch are the best American designers out there.

Hurrah! A Big Finish!

Asia and Trey's Afghan 001
An afghan blanket for Asia and Trey’s wedding

This past weekend (nearly a week ago now),  I finally cast off on the “Winter Lace Afghan” I was knitting for my roommate’s niece, Asia, and her new husband, Trey. Well, he’s relatively new; they were married last September over Labor Day weekend in a beautiful wedding at a historical lodge in Oklahoma. I started the afghan in early August, thinking it would be a quick knit, since I had some time on my hands that month. I was sorely disillusioned when the knitting gods knocked me down for my hubris. However, I think, according to Emily Post or Martha Stewart or somebody, you have one year to give newlyweds their wedding gifts and still be considered “on time.” [Update: I have since learned that the “one year’s grace period” is a wish-fulfillment myth invented by procrastinators like me. Uh-oh.]

In spite of the unexpectedly long production time, the results are beautiful and I would certainly do this pattern again. However, I would time my knitting so I was only working on the afghan during the winter months. Los Angeles in summer (and this is one of the hottest Mays on record) is no place to be knitting a chunky, wool-blend afghan that weighs half-a-ton. Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick ‘n’ Quick is great, versatile bulky yarn, but it doesn’t exactly “breathe.” Phew!

But, as I said, the results were worth it, and I hope Asia and Trey enjoy their wedding gift for years to come. To the bride and groom!

The same afghan, folded, still beautiful
Another view of the afghan — again, pardon the lighting…

All the News That’s Fit to Stitch, Part IV: A New Hope

Here’s the latest and greatest from the knitting world, my friends.

Simple ribbed scarf made from Noro Taiyo (color 1)
Simple ribbed scarf I knitted a while back with some Noro Taiyo (color 1) — some knitting-related eye candy to go with the post.
  • Another newspaper article (this time from the Washington Post) on the health benefits of knitting. I guess we can all give up our work-outs and all that healthy eating, and just pick up some Addi-Turbos instead (yeah, right). Seriously, though, the evidence is fairly conclusive about the benefits of cognitive and creative activities like crafting to help avoid the onset on dementia. Knitting doesn’t just help you stay sane, it also helps you stay sharp.
  • Don’t let the knitting needles and the embroidery hoops fool you. While I agree we should see “knitting not as necessity, but art,” I disagree with the writer’s conclusion that it’s for “women who have just too much time on their hands.” That’s a fairly sexist assumption on many levels, and it’s right on par with the granny reference (shout out to my good friend, Stitch Bitch), but the odd thing is that it’s right in the middle of an article that claims that, historically, the needlearts have “been a potent symbol of power.” Why not now?
  • Yarnbombing has been given the cultural theory treatment. At last my two loves — knitting and meticulously argued analyses of cultural phenomena — have found each other. I was really rooting for those two crazy kids to make it. Yesterday, Dr. Leesa Rittelmann gave a lecture at Hartwick College on yarnbombing as an example of Felix Guattari’s “micro-revolts” and Julia Kristeva’s “tiny revolutions.” I feel smarter just typing that out.

    Open+Sesame!
    Photo courtesy of my friend Jeff, knitter extraordinaire, who just had to have it!
  • Speaking of knitting activism, here’s a piece about the historical connection between crafting and war. The picture on the left is of the American Red Cross’s Commemorative Knit Kit celebrating the “Knit Your Bit” campaign. The “Knit Your Bit” campaign dates back to World War I and it encouraged knitters to make socks for the troops. The kit (which is, sadly, now unavailable) even came with its own “Knit Your Bit” poster. Such a great idea — I hope they bring it back one day so I can get my own.

Union Jack and Bobbi Bear

I’m happy to report one completed project, “Baby Bobbi Bear” by Blue Sky Alpacas, and one nearly completed project, my “Union Jack” cross stitch design. Baby Bobbi Bear started out as a gift for my niece Ella’s first birthday — she is now four (or, as she would insist, four-and-a-half). Ahem. Then BBB (as I will refer to him from now on) was intended to be a gift for her sister Lauren’s second birthday, which was in late February. Double ahem! There’s nothing like sticking to your goals!

Anyway, next it was intended to be a gift for Lauren for Easter, but I also wanted to make a couple sweaters for BBB (just in case he gets cold) so I’ll be putting off giving him to Lauren for Easter. But I’ll get it to her soon. I promise. Blue Sky Alpacas has a free pattern that looks quick and easy. I’ll also probably knit up a hat or scarf. I’ll post a picture of the finished BBB soon.

Union Jack Freebie in Progress
Union Jack Freebie in Progress

The “Union Jack” freebie sample stitching is coming along nicely, especially considering I spent what felt like an eternity fiddling with what is, after all, a very simple charted design. I added a row on the sides, took off a row on the top and bottom, added those top and bottom rows back on, added the side rows back on plus another row on either side, removed the top and bottom rows again… and so on. You get the idea. I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible with the proportions, which is not easy considering that the slanting red stripes don’t line up “properly” in the original (that’s just my humble American opinion). What were those Brits thinking?

I love Union Jack designs and I chose here the same kind of weathered, variegated (“tweedy”) colors that I chose for the Debbie Bliss Union Jack pillow cushion I knitted in Fall 2012 as my Ravellenics project. In this case, I am stitching over one on 25-count oatmeal Jobelan with one strand of Gentle Arts Sampler Threads in Midnight (blue), Weathered Barn (red) and Oatmeal (off-white). When I print out the chart for Wordsmith Designs, I will offer some alternative color suggestions for people who want to use DMC/Anchor, Crescent Colors or Weeks Dye Works, or for people who want be more accurate to the colors in the actual flag. I should be finished soon. Rule Brittania!

If anyone would like a copy of the charted design, send me a message. Thanks!

Update: The Union Jack pattern is now available on my “Free Patterns” page. Just follow the menu link at the top of the screen. I’d love to see some photos of finished stitched pieces! Hint, hint.

Well, it’s the beginning of April so it’s time to set some New Year’s goals for 2014!

[WARNING: This is quite a long post, and it’s generally all about my personal knitting/stitching goals. Alas, no Benedict Cumberbatch, nerdy knits, or penguin sweaters today.]

Boy, time sure flies when you become temporarily obsessed with the knitting on a certain TV show and then you catch the plague! I’ve been meaning for the past two-and-a-half months to write a post where I set out my knitting, stitching and crafting goals for the year, but it seems like something always got in the way. Sadly, goal-setting has never been one of my strengths, but I’m setting some goals to try to work on that in the future….

Knitting WIPs and Goals for 2014

Let’s start with what I have on the needles or in the hoop right now. The progress bars in the right-hand sidebar will let you know how far along I am with my current projects. Here’s the list of current knitting projects (in the sidebar, they are listed in order of the oldest to the newest project, but here I’m listing them in order of priority):

  • Baby Bobbi Bear and assorted outfits (a belated gift for my niece’s second birthday) update: Baby Bobbi Bear was completed on 4/5/14 and the sweaters were completed on 6/29/14
  • Winter Lace Afghan (a belated wedding gift — are you sensing a theme here?)  update: completed 5/16/14!
  • Breast Cancer Ribbin’ Scarf (seriously, all this needs is some kitchenering. Is that a verb?)
  • Felted Sashiko Cover (this is a little something I’m working on as a freebie pattern to accompany the sashiko-style cross stitch I’m designing for Wordsmith Designs — see below)
  • Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts (you know, because it’s so cold here in Los Angeles in springtime) update: completed 5/22/14!
  • Swedish Thora (a belated gift for my beautiful and patient Aunt Janet — there’s a point where gifts become so belated, there’s no point in rushing anymore. Sigh.)

For my personal knitting goals, I will probably continue to emphasize making gifts, especially for my nieces. They are the only nieces (or nephews, for that matter) that I will ever have and they are only going to be small once. Soon, they will want to assert their own tastes (I can already see it happening) and they won’t be willing to wear whatever I make for them. As the old saying goes, you’ve got to get in while the gettin’s good. I have plans to make some Easter knits for the girls, including the Fiesta Tea Set by Annie Modesitt (all the Tahki Cotton Classic has been purchased, in yummy Fiestaware colors like lemongrass, peacock, plum, scarlet, shamrock, sunflower and tangerine). update: finished the Fiesta Tea Set in late June/early July 2014!

Needlework WIPs and Goals for 2014

My cross stitch WIPs are as follows (oldest to newest):

  • “Ewe and Eye Needlecase” by Maureen Appleton/Heart’s Content
  • “Celtic Band Samplar” by Homespun Samplar
  • “Union Jack,” an original design of the Union Jack flag which I will be “releasing” as a Wordsmith Designs freebie soon update: completed 04/06/14!

My cross stitch plans for the year have three parts. First, I plan on stitching a set of four Shepherd’s Bush Christmas Stockings for my brother, sister-in-law and The Two Most Adorable Nieces in the World.™ My favorites are Peter, Christian, Harry and Robert. My sister-in-law has approved of the choices, and she especially likes Peter and Harry. Fortunately, I already had the patterns for all of them except Harry, and I also have the charms for Peter. During Silver Needle’s recent Super Bowl mega-sale, I ordered the chart and charms for Harry, and they just arrived a couple weeks ago along with some other goodies. Maybe if I start now I can get them done by Christmas (I didn’t say Christmas of this year).

Second, over the next year (a year from today, not by New Year’s 2015), I’d like to complete the Mirabilia “In a Garden” series. You can read about the first time I blogged about this here. I want to stitch each piece during the season it depicts; I’ve decided to follow the dates of the solstices and equinoxes for my due dates, so each piece will be due on the last day before the next solstice/equinox. The dates for 2014 are: March 20 (spring equinox), June 21 (summer solstice), September 23 (fall equinox), and December 21 (winter solstice). I’m going to start stitching “Summer” on June 21. I can hardly wait — I’ve picked out the hand-dyed fabric and everything! More details to come.

Third, each month I will be participating in the 2014 Smalls Stitch-Along (the handy-dandy icon is in the right-hand sidebar). I’m already behind in my stitching for this challenge, but I plan on catching up this month. The “Union Jack” project is part of this “catching up” — all told, it measures 2.5 inches by 1.5 inches. That certainly qualifies as small!

In my copious free time (the discerning reader will note a hint of sarcasm here), if I have any stitching time leftover, I would like to finish the other two projects I have going already. I’d also like to make Bent Creek’s Holly Quaker Stocking pattern for me and Drawn Thread’s “Give Thanks.” I’ve been concentrating so much on knitting lately that my needleworking has fallen to the wayside. I’m really looking forward to getting back into the habit. The little bit of work I’ve done on the “Union Jack” small is reminding me how much I enjoy the feel of a needle and thread in my hands.

Goals for Wordsmith Designs

For Wordsmith Designs, my first three design priorities for release are (in this order):

  1.  A sashiko-based design that I don’t want to go into too much detail about right now
  2.  A Celtic alphabet design that’s already designed and stitched but still needs some “polishing”
  3.  A design called “Memento Mori” and that’s all the detail you’ll get for now
  4.  A design called “A Rose is a Rose” and that’s all the detail you’ll get for now

I want to have the first ready to go to the model stitcher and the second ready to release by the end of next month (April 30). Getting the sashiko-based design finished also means designing and knitting the sashiko cover (mentioned above in my knitting goals). The deadline for “Memento Mori” will be two months after that (June 30), and for “A Rose is a Rose,” it will be two months after that (August 31). If I get my behind into gear, these should be very reasonable goals. I’d better not dawdle. “Mackintosh Rose” is getting lonely.

Goals for Moon & Sixpence Knits

For Moon & Sixpence, I am working on three free patterns:

  • an update of my (very basic) Michael Nesmith hat pattern, one that is more historically accurate and includes the four-button variation Nesmith wore sometimes
  • a scarf and cowl with a breast cancer ribbon-style cable pattern (I’m debating whether to charge a nominal fee so the proceeds could go to breast cancer research)
  • a small cabled heart design based on a Christmas ornament that IKEA was selling a couple years ago

Of course, the problem with free patterns (besides the obvious lack of remuneration) is that there is no real compelling reason to complete them promptly so they tend to end up in the land of “someday I’ll get around to that.” I would love to have the breast cancer ribbon-style scarf completed by October, which the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I am also working on some patterns that will be for sale: a tweedy baby jacket, some Aran-style hats, and a double-knit illusion scarf. The first two will give me a chance to dip my toes into the complicated world of sizing knits; I have some experience with this when working for and with others, but this will be the first time I go out on my own and I feel like I need to take baby steps first. Literally. Maybe I’ll find that I’m underestimating my design capabilities. That would be a very pleasant surprise.

 

Phew! Well, this should certainly keep me busy in the year to come. Let’s see how many of these goals I actually meet. I need to attach some specific due dates to these projects — you know the old saying: the difference between a dream and a goal is a timeline. Check back on December 31st! And wish me good luck and good motivation!

All the News that’s Fit to Stitch, Plague Edition

I’m so sorry, my few faithful readers, that I have been silent for the past couple weeks, but I’ve been fighting off the Cold From Hell, a.k.a. The Cough that Would Not Die, for what seems like forever and I’ve had absolutely no energy to knit or stitch, much less post. If I were Daniel Defoe, I’d write my own “Journal of a Plague Fortnight,” but since I can’t claim such literary genius, you will have to be content with some updates from the “knittingverse” to tide you over until….

  • Knitting sweaters for penguins is such an adorable idea that it’s no wonder it makes the rounds every so often. Here’s the latest version of the story from the Phillip Island Nature Parks in Victoria, Australia, and it includes jumper patterns in US, British and Australian knitting lingo. And this story clarifies all the confusion about why this story was considered a hoax by some. It turns out there is a need for these sweaters but it’s perhaps not as urgent as knitters were led to believe by some websites with good intentions but bad information. Frankly, though, if you ask me, there’s no wrong time to knit a sweater for a penguin.
  • Here in the Los Angeles area, we are saddened by the closing of Wildfiber, a knitting store in Santa Monica. Ellen Bloom of L.A. is my Beat has a nice story with all the whys and wherefores (is that the same thing?). I agree with Ellen — Wildfiber was never my first choice of knitting store, mostly because of the prices, but it had everything and its selection of books was quite good. It had a reputation as being one of the “knitting stores to the stars” and the owner,
    Mel Clark, even co-wrote a book of knitting patterns with comedian Tracey Ullman, Knit 2 Together. Last year, I took a very informative photography class there from Gale Zucker, the photographer for the Mason-Dixon knitting books. It’s sad to see another knitting store go, for whatever reason.
  • From BuzzFeed, here’s a list of “19 Nerdy Knits You Need to Knit Right Now,” including patterns based on the BBC Sherlock series, Doctor Who (both classic and the reboot), Firefly, Star Wars and many others. My absolute favorite is #4, the “Baby Dalek Dress” by Allison Bitter. If only my nieces weren’t too old for it now…. Sigh.
  • And for some seriously nerdy knits, there’s this piece from Scientific American, “Knotted Needles Make Knitted Knots,” on the “torus knot,” a kind of infinite loop/knot thingie I won’t even try to describe here. Knitted versions of this torus knot were the centerpiece of January’s mathematical fiber arts session of the Joint Mathematics Meetings of the American Mathematical Society (phew! that’s quite a mouthful!). Just the fact that they have a “mathematical fiber arts session” tickles me to death. (Thanks, martinimade!)

    A wearable, knitted (5,3) torus knot. Image: sarah-marie belcastro.