Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pattern Writing, Designing, Teaching

A while back, I was asked to do an email interview on a Toronto designer's blog. Although it was a fun thing to do, I've been puzzling over one question ever since: "How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?"

Until the interview, I wasn't really aware of a controversy ...or of the "dumbing down" of patterns. It has taken me a few months, but I think I finally have an answer.

If you are a designer, you want to create something lovely. Writing the pattern is a secondary goal. You probably assume that the knitters you are writing for understand the process and can follow your directions ...or improvise. For the experienced knitter, patterns may serve as a jumping off point with inspiration to take you in new directions. There may be new techniques which challenge and excite you but do not defeat you, even if you end up improvising your way through!

If you are a teacher, you also want to create something lovely, but writing the pattern becomes your main goal. You want the knitter to follow your instructions without confusion, end up with a successful project and learn a few tricks along the way. Since inexperienced knitters may not have a mentor or know how to access information, their pattern needs to be thorough and complete. In my books, this is not "dumbing-down." It is step-by-step skill development.

So back to the interview question - maybe 'dumbing down' is something else entirely? If you have an opinion, I'd love to hear it.

And in the meantime ...there are patterns out there for everyone. I hope you'll check them out and be inspired!

* * * * * * * * *

Okay, you've heard of Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants and Knitting-in-Public, but have you ever seen someone Knit-in-the-Pulpit?

Here's Mandy at the Old St. Thomas Church posing for her scavenger hunt photo:

Thanks for the great photo, Nadine :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It's true. Knit-in-Public Day involved actual knitting in public this month! While many of us relaxed and enjoyed some comfortable, air-conditioned moments (or front patio moments) with yarn, needles and friends, there were several energetic types who got out and about and had a blast.

The wonderful weather, combined with many interesting St. Thomas locations on our scavenger hunt list, had our intrepid knitters laughing and enthusiastically sharing their photos to qualify for prizes. They certainly had people about town wondering what was going on!!!

And maybe that is what it's all about. Sharing our passion. Admitting to the world that we are knitters. Coming out of the closet. Inspiring others. Creating. Relaxing. Challenging ourselves. Being proud of what we do. Whoever thought of promoting knitting-in-public got it right. This is something that is needed.For the next little while, I'd like to add some k-i-p photos at the end of each blog. If you would like to send in a photo of yourself (or just your knitting) knitting-in-public, email me at . By sharing your passion, here and in the real world, maybe we can make the world a calmer, friendlier place. Well, it's worth a try, right?!?!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yarn, a Podcast and a Souvenir

"Some people bring home the darnedest things from their vacations," to quote a good friend :)

It seems that I brought home laryngitis. I know you'll have lots of sympathy when I tell you that I likely caught it from someone else with laryngitis a yarn shop Sweden. Oh yes. I can just tell how sympathetic you are feeling! Poor Joan. Someone made her go yarn shopping in Sweden. Yup! My life is tough.

But it hasn't been all that bad. I did manage to start and finish this little "Talbot Street" shawl (in one of Zen Yarn Garden's Serenity yarns) between Friday and Tuesday evening. That's gotta be a record for me!

While it is hard to believe that I kept focussed on one project from start to finish, I had a couple of secret weapons.

Secret weapon #1: The yarn felt delicious and scrumptious and I just couldn't wait to see the finished project.

Secret weapon #2: I discovered a great "new to me" spinning podcast ...and I bet I listened to it for 8 hours over two days of forced silence. Apparently, I can get a lot done this way.

So if you have an interest in spinning, check out the "Spindoctor" podcasts:

Sasha Torres, a very nice UWO prof (therefore, the doctor part) does reviews for handspinners that are informative, well-prepared and entertaining. Enjoy - and see how much more knitting you can accomplish!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Few More Fibre-Vacation Photos

Can't say much because I have a fine case of laryngitis ...but I can still blog :) And I'd love to share a few more fibre-related vacation pics.

When our ship landed in Helsingborg, Sweden, we were greeted by a musical troupe dressed in traditional costume. I wished I could get closer to this guy. Fabulous knitwear!

Inside an ancient church, we found traditional ripsmatta or rep weave table toppers.

At the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway, we saw what had been unearthed from a burial site. It is believed to have been the ship of a Viking princess from 800-900 AD. The princess would have needed these textile production tools
for the afterlife.

Looks like a nostepinne /nostepinde and the clay whorl for a spindle. It boggles the mind to realize that all fabric for the masts of Viking sailing ships was first spun on a drop spindle such as this.

...and a niddy noddy for winding skeins.

The squares in the centre of this photo are cards with a hole in each corner. These cards act as heddles when used for tablet /card weaving. The warp goes through the holes and when the cards are turned the weft yarn creates the design.

Here's a close-up of the carving on a Viking sailing ship. Cabling inspiration, anyone?

Some travellers found a Norwegian Heritage Museum with lots of clothing samples, but we weren't so lucky. Guess I'll have to go back someday! :)

And the sun sets on my vacation blog ...sometime around 10:30 south of Oslo. (This photo was taken around 11:15 pm.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fun Times

When work life and leisure time are devoted to knitting, what do you do for fun? Go on a knitting cruise, of course!

Matt and I had a great time visiting ports in Scandinavia. Before the cruise, we explored Amsterdam for a few days, then left the port of Rotterdam for Helsingborg, Sweden, sailed off to Copenhagen and Skagen, Denmark, and made our final stop in Oslo, Norway.

The knitting portion of our trip involved 13 hours of classes with Lily Chin (always fun, inspiring and informative), meeting interesting knitters and crocheters, sit 'n' knit times in the uber comfortable ship's library, and group trips to yarn shops. I didn't purchase much yarn since many are available at LRM, but I did manage to buy lots of pretty and unusual buttons. This Knopenwinkel shop in Amsterdam was full of charm:

These adorable "corkers" caught my eye while strolling the streets of Amsterdam. What a fun way to decorate windows that are constantly being passed by tourists. Because of picture quality, I can only share half of what was on display :(

Cute, eh?

Don't feel too bad for Matt. He had a special tour, too!
And a few delicious beer samplings en route:)