Friday, August 28, 2009

Knitting With Dog Hair… the book


We’ve already reported  on the use of dog hair for knitting, aka “chiengora.”

It has come to my attention that there’s a book that tells you all about it:

Knitting With Dog Hair: Better A Sweater From A Dog You Know and Love Than From A Sheep You'll Never Meet

by Kendall Crolius

The comments on are awesome:

  • “My only complaint is the cover is misleading, there is a picture of a basset hound on the cover but you can't spin basset fur. I own a basset and bought the book because of the cover.”
  • “I felt bad at first shaving my dog completely bald, but after I got the sweater made using this book, he now looks stylish in his own fur!”
  • “In these times of impending environmental catastrophe, it behoves all of us to recycle to reduce our carbon footprint. Happily, this onerous task has just been made easier by this publication.
    With Kendall Crolius as my guide, I was able to produce a handsome pair of lederhosen and a saucy g-string from the excess hair produced by my pooch. I now intend to press on to the advanced section where there are designs for a fireman's uniform and a peek-a-boo bra.”
  • “I must say that I was initially excited about this book. Knitting with dog hair seems like one of those ideas that every pet-owning, recycling, energy-conscious responsible human being should subscribe to. However, one little thing you should be aware of before you get this book. You have to REMOVE the hair from the dog BEFORE you knit. I really wish I had been told this before I started. Sure Scout makes a great hat, but it's really embarrassing if you are walking down the street, wearing your admittedly very stylish chapeau, and the hat pees down the back of your neck.”

Surprisingly, there are no projects posted on Ravelry from this book. Sad.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fall Sweater Forecast

It strikes me that designers have gotten a little wacky with their sweaters this year. Or wackier than normal. These garments might not be too practical for non-model types, but they might give us knitters some ideas. The natural colors and interesting textures of the first group of knits might be inspiring. And the colorful stripes from the 3’s company type designs could be cute and quirky.

First, there are the sweaters not only knit from animal fibers, but inspired by animals, such as…


prd_id=845524446228475&FOLDERfolder_id=282574492043419&ASSORTMENTast_id=1408474395222441&bmUID=1251160136956&ev19=2:73">Missoni (It’s even better from the back—check it out)


prd_id=845524446228166&FOLDERfolder_id=282574490619215&ASSORTMENTast_id=1408474395222441&bmUID=1251160136928&ev19=2:53">Marc by Marc Jacobs

See also this and this.


Stella McCartney

On the other hand, there’s definitely a 70s theme going on. These remind me of something from Three’s Company, for some reason:

For Janet:

prd_id=845524446228153&FOLDERfolder_id=282574492710571&ASSORTMENTast_id=1408474395222441&bmUID=1251160865313&ev19=1:7">Marc by Marc Jacobs, again

Okay, it looks cuter prd_id=845524446228153&FOLDERfolder_id=282574492710571&ASSORTMENTast_id=1408474395222441&bmUID=1251160925727&ev19=1:7">layered

For Mrs. Roper:

St. John Weekend Dolman Sleeve Cardigan

St. John Weekend

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Children Knitting

These photos are from the Billy Barnes Collection at the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina.

Elderly woman shows four children how to knit.

Children knitting.

Children knitting circa 1966.

It doesn’t say who this lady was, or why she was teaching kids to knit (on super long needles), but it was apparently part of the WAMY Community Action project to address poverty in Western North Carolina.

I liked that the photos had the following tags in the catalog:

Aged persons

Update: And here’s a modern-day parallel!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Random Coolness: Marcy Smith

Marcy Smith is the new editor of Interweave Crochet, according to this.

She used to be the literary editor at the Raleigh News and Observer. I worked with her a couple of years ago when she published a short story of mine.

I love neat coincidences like this.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another FO: Leaf Tee

I’ve had this project finished for a couple of weeks, but haven’t had a chance to blog about it. For this I used the Brier Run alpaca I got for Christmas, and I think it was a good choice. I’m really into wool/silk blend yarns right now—the silk just gives it extra softness and texture, I think.


This pattern was easy and fun to do. But I did add several mods:

  • I added ribbing on the neck, sleeves, and hem
  • I added sleeves
  • I added vertical bust darts

I think that’s it. I’d definitely knit this again, probably short sleeved, and use it as a layering piece.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Finally an F.O.: Periwinkle Fifi

I started this project back in April, and I can’t believe it has taken me so long to finish. The problem for me was that I never memorized the stitch pattern, so I had to have the pattern with me. Normally I prefer patterns that are easy to memorize so I can knit on the go.


Overall, I’m happy with this, but I don’t think my yarn choice made this as flattering as it could have been. I used Knitpicks Shine, which is a bit of a heavy worsted. If I were to make this again (which I probably won’t) I’d use a lighter worsted or even a DK yarn.

Mods: I added ribbing at the bottom hem and neckline to prevent rolling.

I continued the top stitch pattern over the bust area because I thought that would be more flattering, but I think it might actually have been better as written. But I think overall it looks better in person!


Monday, August 10, 2009

Burn After Reading

I’ve never bought Knit ‘N Style magazine before,but after reading the article “Are you missing out by hiding behind a weakness?” by Leslye Solomon, I had to buy the issue so I could blog a rebuttal.

In the article, Solomon takes up several deficits that might cause people to “miss out on enjoying all facets of knitting,” such as:

  • Are you a knitter who...wants to knit everything in the round?
  • Are you a knitter who...always “knits to gauge” and never makes a gauge swatch?
  • Are you a knitter who...always needs a needle that is smaller than what is suggested?
  • Are you a knitter who...always needs a larger needle than what is suggested?
  • Are you a knitter allergic to wool?

These (and a few others) are apparently detrimental to your knitting enjoyment. I think this is bullshit.

To take up the first question, yes, I want to knit everything in the round, and it is not, as Solomon suggests, because I need to educate myself”as to where to insert and exit that sewing needle.” Yes, seams are time-consuming, but I like knitting things in the round for other reasons as well. Who wants to spend time knitting several pieces only to end up with a garment that doesn’t fit? For me, this is the main reason for knitting things in the round, so you can try them on as you go and make adjustments accordingly. This gives you, the knitter, power over your project.

Solomon seems to want to give the power to the designer: “Your job, as one who is trying to follow directions from the designer, is to duplicate exactly the number of stitches-to-the-inch that the designer achieved. That means all knitters must test the gauge and use any needle that duplicates the designer’s gauge?” What is this, a knitting dictatorship?

The assumption here is that if you follow a designer’s directions exactly, you will end up with a perfectly fitting garment. This would be true if we were all sewing dummies, and could adjust our own measurements to exactly match those given in knitting patterns. But most of us aren’t. And patterns are idiosyncratic in their fit (even if they follow the CYC guidelines, they vary in the amount of ease). Perfect gauge does not equal perfect fit.

Instead of adjusting the knitter to the pattern, why not adjust the pattern to the knitter? Patterns should give the knitter choices.This is why gauge isn’t absolutely crucial for most of the Knitty Professor patterns—we tell you when it is important to try things on and how to make adjustments for your body. Rather than trying to exactly match your gauge to a pattern (especially if this is hard for you), it is good to learn a few simple strategies to help you fit things to your body type. For example, learning to knit bust darts has been very important to me, as someone who is not particularly petite in the bust area. I can add them to any pattern now, and it gives me much better results. But that has little to do with guage per se.

As for the tight knitter/loose knitter issue—if it bothers you, sure, try to adjust your technique. But knitting is supposed to be fun. It shouldn’t be like boot camp.

Finally, about the wool issue. Solomon suggests that most people aren’t actually allergic to wool, and that you can simply wear turtlenecks under sweaters to ‘separate rough texture from my skin.” Heads up: turtlenecks aren’t exactly the epitome of fashion, and they haven’t been since about 1986. In terms of yarn, if you like it, knit with it. Given all the available alternatives, I don’t think someone is going to die of yarn starvation if they skip scratchy wools. If you think it is going to be scratchy, it probably will be (although it might soften up upon washing). There are plenty of soft wool yarns or wool blends to choose from. Why suffer when you don’t have to?

In short, I think knitters should have the power to choose what they knit and how they knit it. Rather than writing (and trying to follow) patterns as though they were engraved on stone tablets and passed down from Mount Sinai, they should be flexible guidelines that YOU can follow, or not, in order to knit something that is right for you.