On knits that last, Kate Davies patchwork, a Canadian train trip and a very cool wedding

One of the nice things about having a holiday is that I have some time to catch up on my reading.  In this edition of Surfing the Knit, an occasional series in which I bring you cool things I’ve read on the net, I give you four great posts from knitting bloggers (not all of them about knitting).

1 – October is the month is which many bloggers write about slow fashion, inspired by Karen Templer and her blog, Fringe Association.  Of the many great October posts in this vein, one I really enjoyed is Leah’s post What makes a good knitting investment?  #Slowfashionoctober on her blog, Fashion: Yarn Style.  I like Leah’s posts because she is (1) a terrific knitter, (2) an enthusiastic fan of couture, both from an aesthetic and a technical perspective, and (3) a very thoughtful writer and blogger.  Here she talks about the costs of hand knitting a wardrobe, and what constitutes a good investment.

2 – Last week Georgie (georgievinsun on Ravelry) put up some photos of an amazing patchwork blanket she made.  It is composed of large squares, each one knit with a stitch pattern from a Kate Davies pattern.  It is SUCH a clever idea, and looks amazing.  Luckily, Georgie has just put up a post about it on her blog, which you can see here.  I am in awe. Here is a photo (used with permission) but I urge you to go check out her post for more photos and the story behind her inspiration.


© georgievinsun

3 – I love the blog Julia Hedge’s Laces, written by Ravelry’s BlitheSpirit.  This blog is sometimes about knitting, and sometimes about travel and other general musings.  Last week she wrote a lovely post, Taking ‘The Canadian’ across the country (well half of it anyways…).  In her words:  “I recently went back to Toronto to celebrate my mum’s 80th birthday.  As a treat, she really wanted to repeat a journey across Canada that she did almost twenty years ago, taking the train from Toronto to Vancouver; I was more than happy to accompany her.”  It is a photo-heavy post which makes me want to fly to Toronto right now and hop on a train!

4 – I have mentioned Marzi’s blog before, as an example of a really great non-English language knitting blog.  Marzi has recently gotten married, and she published an absolutely gorgeous post, The best day ever, with photos from the wedding.  You do not have to read a word of Polish to appreciate this gorgeous wedding photo post; it is so stylish, sweet and joyous, it will put a smile on your face!  Congratulations, Marzi!

Cold shoulders

Hadley Freeman writes a wonderfully snarky fashion column for the Guardian. Today’s column is called “How to navigate the new era of coat-wearing” and is accompanied by this photo:

how to wear a coat 1

Photograph: Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

It must be said that the photo certainly captured my attention.  After I recovered from my giggling, I went on to read about the trend, which Hadley calls “shoulder disrobing”. Hysterical!  (We won’t even get into the giant safety pin earrings.)  The above photo is from the Autumn/Winter 2016 Balenciaga show in Paris; the designer is Demna Gvasalia. A little quick googling (and associated goggling) led to even more examples from the show. Here is one more for good measure:

how to wear a coat 2

(According to Hadley “this month Vogue has decreed it the only acceptable way to wear one’s parka”!)

I must admit this cracks me up, which just goes to show that I have absolutely no sense of style or fashion whatsoever.  Even funnier is Hadley’s commentary, from which:

“So what can we make of this? On the one hand, this trend is free, so yay. On the other, you will probably lose your coat within a day, so boo. Thus, you don’t need to spend any money to look a darn fool in fashion. Which is some form of democracy, I guess.”

from The Guardian, Ask Hadley, 5th Sept, 2016

Time to catch up on some reading

Last week I finally had time to catch up on my blog reading. Thus, it is time for another edition of Surfing the Knit, in which I point out some posts that have caught my fancy. Let’s start with the pretty: first a pretty sweater, and then a pretty blog.

1. Konrad, knitter extraordinaire and author of the blog Knitting Konrad, recently knit the wonderful Ordie sweater designed by Martin Storey. It is a great sweater which I have featured on these pages before in a Pattern Radar segment. As usual, Konrad looks smashing. You can see it here.

2. I love the blog Millefeuilles. Stephanie, who writes the blog, lives in the Loire Valley in France and is writing a PhD dissertation on Baroque Garden Design. Every one of her posts is beautifully designed – like an unfolding work of art. I recently knit a sweater for Leah which used the lovely Madelinetosh Merino DK in Candlewick – a very gorgeous burnished gold. Stephanie has been knitting with the same yarn, and here is a post inspired by Candlewick and Stravinsky’s The Firebird.

3. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will have noticed that I have a thing for stitch holders, particularly the kind which open (they look like modified safety pins). I use them in many ways and find them completely indispensable. Glenna, who writes the blog Knitting to Stay Sane (a great name!), wrote a post last month called “9 Ways Stitch Markers Will Make Your Life Easier”. I couldn’t agree more with this post – read it and make your knitting stress-free. Number 7 is new to me – I regularly use all of the other tips – why have I not been using this one as well?

4. The knitting universe has been buzzing lately about changes to the tax laws in the EU and their unintended consequences for knitting designers who sell their patterns online. Ysolda has written a very informative post about these changes which makes quite interesting reading. (Yes, it is a lengthy post about tax law and it is utterly fascinating!) Ysolda made three points I found very thought-provoking: first, that tax authorities had no idea of the type and number of small business who would be affected, second, that the new rules could be seen to be in conflict with the EU’s strict data protection laws, and third, that these changes could have a disproportionate impact on women.

5. And last, a post that has nothing to do with knitting. Sara, who writes the knitting blog Knot my Day Job, recently wrote a post about the Hampton Court Palace, which is a short train ride outside of London and was part of the court of Henry VIII. I love Hampton Court Palace! It is a short drive from my home and I have been there many times. It is a great place to spend the day. This is a very nice post, with lots of photos, about one of my favourite places.

In defense of boring

I once overheard a knitter responding to the question: “What’s the most difficult type of knitting?”  “The boring kind,” was her response.  She went on to say that she liked to knit lace and stranded patterns – the more complicated the pattern, the more colours used, and the smaller the needle size, the better.  Sometimes, however, boring is good.

2-IMG_9854There is nothing quite so boring, and yet so uniquely compelling as knitting in stockinette in the round.  Stitch after stitch, well over three hundred on the needles at this point, with no end of the row, no need to turn the needles, no purling, no counting, no thinking.  It may be boring knitting, but boring knitting can be mesmerizing.  It is sometimes just what the doctor ordered – a little bit of Zen, an escape from stress, time to let your mind wander.  And when the colour is as rich and lovely as this, it’s a bit of eye candy too.

In a break from my Zen-knitting today, I spent some time “Surfing the Knit” – another mesmeric activity but definitely not as productive.  I’ll bring you a few tidbits here:

  1.  Ginger Twist Studio has an announcement on her blog for a Historic Music Knitting Event in Edinburgh on October 6th.  Here is a brief description: “Knit one, pearl 1942! A Stitch in Time: Lost Knitting Songs from the World Wars is a musical lecture about knitting (yes, knitting!) songs that were written during WWI and WWII in both North America and Britain.”  How cool is that?
  2. I found the most amazing site today.  It is in Beta now, and they are looking for comments, so please check them out.  It is called Yarnsub.com.  I was looking online for substitutes for Brooklyn Tweed Loft (I love Loft, but can’t always dish out for the expensive stuff) and came onto this page.  It lists the characteristics of the yarn you are trying to match, and then rates each of several substitutes according to weight, texture, fibre content, gauge, etc.  I love this!
  3. And here’s an interesting one: “As part of the Great British Bioscience Festival, BBSRC is running Knit-a-Bug: The Great British Bioscience Knitting Competition. BBSRC invites knitters from across the country to get creative with bioscience by knitting bacteria and viruses that can impact human and animal health. ”  I think I’ll stick with my Zen-knitting, thank you very much.

Felted shop

Here is a quick drive-by edition of Surfing the Knit: the Guardian today has a short photo essay on Lucy Sparrow’s art installation, The Cornershop.  The shop is a typical newsagent’s shop with one small exception – each and every item has been made out of felt:

b8a488d5-3d8a-45cb-8865-5894fce47606-620x399That’s Lucy in the above photo holding a felt edition of the Guardian.  The shop will be open for business in Bethnall Green, London, for all of August.  Everything is for sale.  I am definitely tempted by the Bounty bars.

710a589b-d5bd-4a3b-a7e3-79dfd92e5e19-620x413And, of course, no felted shop would be complete without a donation can for the “Felt Knitted Cats Trust”.

5321b41e-6d21-402b-ac9c-ba0c77420202-620x412Photographs: Rosie Hallam/Barcroft Media

Catching up on my reading

Since starting the MBA, I have less time for many things.  One of them is reading knitting blogs.  Since I had my Stage 1 exams two weeks ago, I have had a small breather which means that I was able to catch up on what others are blogging about.  In this episode of Surfing the Knit, I will show you some of the cool things I’ve been reading.

1. The 100 Day Challenge

Leah, of Fashion: Yarn Style, has just finished a series of posts documenting a challenge set by her husband: to wear something hand-knit every day for 100 days.  You can find the first post in this series here; links to further posts can be found at the bottom of that entry.  Leah includes a photo of every day’s outfit.  I have long been an admirer of Leah, both as a knitter and as a blogger.  She has a very confident sense of style and I love to see the way she wears her pieces.  This is a really fun and beautifully crafted series of posts.

Don’t read it just for the photos and the sweaters, however.  The writing is lovely, both witty and thought-provoking.  I was taken with her description of a television show in which very wealthy women showed off closets filled with expensive handbags, hundreds of pairs of Louboutin heels and Chanel suits with the tags still on.  Leah compares the jaded attitude of these women towards their clothes with the time and care that Leah invested in knitting a Chanel-inspired jacket.  Her insights into the knitting process, and into style and fashion, are always intriguing and make for good reading.  If you don’t know her work already, you should definitely check it out.

Special kudos go to Leah for finishing the 100 Day Challenge despite sustaining a neck injury in the middle (and then re-injuring it).  I think that her husband should reward her with piles of new yarn; don’t you?

2.The Great Tapestry of Scotland

I adored Kate Davies’ recent posts about the Great Tapestry of Scotland.  Kate’s blog is one of the most beautiful ones out there, with fabulous photos, great knitting, knowledgeable accounts of the history of the craft, and a very honest and personal account of recovery from stroke.  I am sure that Kate needs no introduction from me; however, if you haven’t read her posts on the Great Tapestry, you should absolutely do so.  Here is the first one; I dare you to read just one!

3. It’s all about the pretty!

Of course we readers of knitting blogs are interested in fashion, and history, and amusing anecdotes, and techniques, and travels.  But, sometimes, its all about the pretty!  If you want to see some absolutely fabulous knits, check these two out.  Carly, of Carly in Stitches, knit a fourth (!) Grettir sweater, which she calls Grettir Il Magno.  This is one of the best men’s sweaters I’ve seen.  Carly knits astonishingly beautiful sweaters at great pace; furthermore, since she lives in the tropics of Australia, she gives most of them away.  Oh, to be one of her relatives!

Another greater knitter/blogger is Ilana of bespokeknits.  Her Monomania sweater, which she posted about here, is positively drool-worthy.  Definitely worth a look (or two, or three). Two things that I really enjoy about Ilana’s blog: first, the photography is always top-notch, and second, we have very similar tastes in sweaters.  If I open up her blog and see she has something new on her needles, it is nearly always something I’ve thought about casting on myself.

4. And the winner is…

The writer of the blog, The twisted yarn, lives just a few miles from me as the crow flies, though I have yet to meet her.  She recently entered a blog post into the Deramore’s Blog Awards, and won!  The winning post, which you can find here, is a very well-written and informative post about how to design stranded motifs for knitting.  If you are interested in the design process, you should definitely have a look.  (Also, if you have any interest in yarn-bombing, she is systematically yarn-bombing her house: check out her balcony, complete with knitted pigeons (!) in this post.)

5. Everything you ever wanted to know about fiber

Karen, of The Sweaty Knitter, writes a fascinating blog, which combines excellent writing and research skills with a finely-tuned intellectual curiosity about everything (oh, yes, it has knitting too).  Karen has just started a new series about Fiber, and if the first post, about the morphology of fiber is anything to go by, the series will be great.  It is likely to tell us everything we ever wanted to know (and then some) about fiber.  Also, as someone who wrote a dissertation on morphology (of language), I am happy to read anything that has both morphology and fiber in the title.

That concludes this episode of Surfing the Knit.  Happy reading!

Mathematics, Science and Craft

Today’s episode of Surfing the Knit brings you two knitting-related posts from the fields of mathematics and science!

1. The Guardian hosts a blog by Alex Bello, Alex’s Adventures in Numberland.  In today’s post, he showcases some of his favorite images from a new book.  Alex writes:

The book 50 Visions of Mathematics is a collection of 50 short essays by 50 maths writers and a foreword by Dara O Briain. Launched on Wednesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, it also contains 50 images supplied in response to an open call from the worldwide maths community.

He then shows us 16 beautiful images from the book. One of the images he shows involves crochet, which is enough of a connection for me to post it here.  This is a crocheted model of a hyperbolic plane.

Photo: Daina Taimina

Photo: Daina Taimina

The artist, Daina Taimina, is a Professor of Mathematics at Cornell, who experiments with crocheting mathematical objects.  She has published a book on the subject called Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes.

Here is a gorgeous image which bears the tag:  “A much-magnified detail of the Mandelbrot set, revealing what appears to be a procession of elephants. Image by Philip Dawd, using the program winCIG Chaos Image Generator developed by Thomas Hvel.”

copyright: Darwin College, University of Cambridge

copyright: Darwin College, University of Cambridge


I love this!  Astonishing, isn’t it? (I can’t help thinking of the Pink Elephants on Parade sequence from Dumbo; these fractal elephants are considerably more cool and mesmerizing.)

I will tease you with one more image, but then you should really click on the link and see the others.  Or maybe even buy the book.  At first glance, I thought this was a photo of ripples in sand caused by the wind:

00fa14db-9875-409c-af01-adb6e80e4e74-620x413The caption states: “The complex folding patterns that arise when a layered material (paper) is put into a test machine and squashed. Created by Timothy Dodwell and Andrew Rhead, University of Bath.”

I love mathematics and love the art of visualizing mathematics.  I think this is part of what draws me to knitting; certainly my conceptualizations of knitting and knitting design are very mathematical.

2. If you are interested in both knitting and science, you should have a look at this post on Dayana Crawchuk’s blog.  Dayana writes a beautiful knitting blog; you can tell that an enormous amount of effort goes into each post.  Dayana is a scientist in her day job.  Her husband, also a scientist, specializes in hearing and deafness and studies hair cells, a type of cell found in the inner ear which is central to the hearing process.  I have long been a fan of the Hearing Cell Sweater which Dayana knit for her husband some time ago which incorporates stylized images of the hair cells (follow the link to find photos).  She recently knit him a model of the hair cell as a good luck charm (thus the post title, Amigurumi for Nerds).  To make a cool story even cooler, Science magazine featured it on their webpages!  Even if you are not into hair cell science (and how could you not be!), check out Dayana’s blog – you won’t be sorry.

Tour de bunting

I saw this article in the Guardian this morning and it made me smile.  Thus, I bring you a short and fast edition of Surfing the Knit.

Photo: Baa Ram Ewe

Photo: Baa Ram Ewe

Last November, Harrogate Borough Council asked members of the public to donate little knitted jumpers to make a bunting for the town’s hosting of the Tour de France.  According to the article, the idea was put forward by students at York University and the pattern for the bunting jumpers was designed by Baa Ram Ewe, a local yarn shop.  The Council were hoping for 3,000 mini-jumpers but have so far received 22,000.

I particularly liked this comment:  “and of course, there has been a significant amount of testing to see just how much rainwater they can take before they become too heavy for their supports.”

Craft and Science, Science and Craft

This episode of my series, Surfing the Knit, is a bit of a fudge.  This occasional series is one in which I point out interesting, or fun, or bizarre items of knitting interest that I pick up while surfing the internet.  In truth, I found this while browsing through my latest hard copy of Science, the weekly journal of the AAAS which describes itself as The World’s Leading Journal of Original Scientific Research, Global News and Commentary.  But it’s online too (link below) so I could have found it while surfing the knit.

One of my favorite issues of the year is the one in which they announce the winners of the Visualization Challenge.  Winners and honorable mentions are made in a number of categories, such as photography, games and apps, etc.  The winner of the 2013 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge in the Posters and Graphics category (also winning the People’s choice award) is a poster detailing research into smart fabrics being conducted at Drexel University.

The poster is called Wearable Power, and is by Kristy Jost, Babak Anasori, Majid Beidaghi, Genevieve Dion, and Yury Gogotsi, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  This research group, in effect, is making knitted batteries (in their words a “wearable capacitor”). Scientific posters are a mainstay of the science community; having seen hundreds of them I can tell you that it is very hard to produce one that both conveys the science and is visually arresting and interesting.

copyright Science Magazine

copyright Science Magazine

If you are interested in this poster, and indeed the rest of the winners, I urge you to either pull out your copy of Science magazine (doesn’t everyone have one?) or check it out online here.  The science behind smart fabrics is really fascinating and, well, smart.

The part I like best?  This bit of the blurb accompanying the article:

“Jost spends much of her time in Drexel’s knitting research laboratory—yes, you read that right—which boasts state-of the-art equipment donated by Shima Seiki, a Japanese company that makes computerized 3D knitting systems. The machines can knit an entire seamless garment in 20 minutes, and Jost has become adept at using the design software that drives them—although she admits sheepishly that she has not yet learned to knit by hand.”

from Science Magazine, 7 Feb 2014, vol. 343, no 6171

Go check it out and see some of the amazing work being done in the field of visualizing science.  Don’t miss another very cool entry by Lorrie Faith Cranor of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Called Security Blanket, it is a quilt displaying the 1000 most common security passwords from a games website as a word cloud.  (You will be astonished by the total lack of creativity and, hence, lack of security of the passwords.)  This is another fabulous example of the creativity that crafters can bring to science and science can bring to craft.

The well-dressed tortoise

Today’s episode of Surfing the Knit brings you the tortoise suit:

Solent News & Photo AgencyYes, this is a photo of a tortoise in a chicken suit.  Today, the Guardian had an “in pictures” segment called “Wooly suits for tortoises“, tag-lined “Keen knitter, Katie Bradley from Vancouver, Canada makes woolly suits for pet tortoises”.  (We shall politely ignore the fact that these suits are crocheted, not knitted.)  There is no text, only fourteen photos each showing the above fearless tortoise posing in a different outfit.  The outfits range from the odd (a reindeer costume):

Solent News & Photo Agencyto the disturbing (a cheeseburger costume):

Solent News & Photo AgencyThe photos are credited to the Solent News & Photo Agency.

A quick internet search shows that Ms. Bradley not only crochets costumes for tortoises (which she sells on Etsy) but rescues them as well.  You never know what you will come up with when Surfing the Knit.