Yarn Tasting


A recent study found that 81% of subjects suffering from depression reported feeling happier after knitting, while more than half said they felt "very happy."

I've been knitting my life back together since I was a teenager. Things unravel, I pick up my needles. Stitches drop, I figure out how to get on track and reknit. It's my M.O. when life goes haywire. The perfect therapy -- a rhythmically, repetitive mediation that calms. And you end up with something beautiful and useful!

Can you get all that from a therapist? Well, I guess you can, but it may not be as relaxing.

Since knitting is my first emotional line of defense -- and calm and happy are always welcome -- as the seasons transition, I can almost taste the yarn.

Without further adieu...

Here are my latest knitting crushes:

What's on your knitting menu?

Crafting A Legacy

crochet_snowflakes Snuggled in our respective nests, my family drifts into maker-mode. Daughter is throwing pots on her pottery wheel. Son is woodworking. Husband's shooting up a storm with his camera. And of course, my needles are clicking.

Although we're merrily crafting a blizzard of goodies, curiously, we never seem to remember it all takes an enormous amount of time to complete these energetic handmade gifts. I predict there may be more than a few IOU's.

As an experienced knitter, I look for a challenge this time of year to add to my crafting legacy. I do not crochet. Not because I can't (mom taught me). It's because of a long-standing attitude that knitting is more beautiful than crochet.

Don't start throwing hooks at me yet.

When I started knitting, granny square afghans lit up the craft world. Granny...Afghan...SO not cool. Gorgeous Crochet Snowflakes...SO cool.

I've changed my tune and want to share with non-knitters -- who have no idea what I'm talking about -- the difference between knitting and crocheting:

Knit and crochet are distinctly different crafts with different tools that work up various stitches. Knitting is done on needles -- straight, double pointed or circular. Crochet uses hooks of varying sizes. Straight knitting looks like a bunch of interlocking "v"stitches. Crochet stitches are "chains" -- crochet hook gets inserted into a stitch and yarn is looped. Knitting tends to be tight. Crochet is looser, more open weave. I'm told crocheting is quick (not so much for me), while knitted garments take many, many hours to complete.

Wrapping, twisting, cabling, chaining, braiding...who cares? Inspired by these gorgeous snowflakes, momentarily, I put down my needles and pick up a hook.

In the maker spirit, here's a round-up of my 3 favorite crocheted snowflakes:

Frosty Filigree Snowflake from Martha Stewart

Rustic Twine Snowflake from Aesthetic Nest

Beaded Snowflake from AgaKnickKnack

What's your craft legacy?

Photo via flickr

A Needled Spirit

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.” ~ Elizabeth Zimmermann

The knitting alarm is ringing. Can you hear it? If you're a knitter you can. It's starts when the outdoor world gets tinged with variegated hues and winter whites, and shuts off when the temperatures rise so high your hands can't stand to touch wool...not even the softest cashmere. The flakes are falling and it's finally what my mother calls, "sweater weather."

For me, knitting inspiration climbs to new heights each time I step into Pinterest. It feeds my troubled or untroubled knitting spirit.

So, direct from Econesting's Knitting Pin Board, here's a few projects of the season--the knitting season:

The easy Redy Sweater by Ankestrick is sweet because there is almost no shaping...no fussing with collar decreases and no fumbling with stitch pick ups. Sweater perfection. Now, what color?



Have you seen those new gloves created for touchscreen texting? No need to wrap your hands in those polyester numbers when you can knit fingerless gloves. Here's a fun snow-tipped pair: Hege Mitt, by Michelle Wang.



When I look back at items I've knit, memories of time, tranquility and toddlers come gushing in (I knit furiously throughout my kids' childhoods). I adore an ongoing project for all those nostalgic reasons. This comfy, Slip Stitch Sampler perfectly zaps up left-over yarn and will keep the knitting fires burning all winter long.


The creative sideways construction of this knitted poncho/cape intrigues me. Is it knit like a baby blanket and sewn up one side? Don't know because the pattern is French to me...literally.



I am rarely surprised by ingenious knitted creations, but I nearly fell off my chair when I saw these Knitted Yoga Balls. I sit a lot and like to break up the long hours by unchaining myself from my ergonomically-designed Aeron Chair. Sometimes I bounce and stretch on an exercise ball. I'm toying with the idea of jeweling up a lowly specimen using this Knitted Yoga Ball pattern.


Illustration: Edel Rodriguez Photos: Ravelry, Brooklyn Tweed, Knitting Warehouse, Thread and Needle, Better Living By Design

Yarn Bombing: Knitting Over The Edge

Has knitting become a subversive movement? In the last few years, knitting has put miles of distance between the images of grandmas in rocking chairs knitting up tea cozies. I just love how hip, and alternative-minded folks are picking up needles and casting a rebellious flair on an otherwise complacent hobby.

I encountered my first brush with yarn bombing after a satisfying lunch with my kids at the popular Boston eatery, Flour. I was totally taken aback when I bumped into an innocent lamppost and came face to face with urban knitting graffiti.

Like many of you, I'm a big fan of individualizing environs - both interior and exterior, and knitting is my number one hobby of choice. As a mostly non-political knitter, my knitting adventures of late have been relegated to gifting my family with hats, scarves and socks. It may sound silly, but this lamppost encounter with its anonymous yarn artistry, absolutely delighted me. It was as if the inanimate object sprung alive and sported a mischievous grin that said, "Tag, you're it."

Magda Sayeg, the founder of Knitta says, "It not only turns alive, there is something comforting and loving about it. You don't look at the pieces we wrap and get angry or mad. You are happy." Two outlaw knitters, Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain have elevated yarn grafitti to a new level in their book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. Along with the accompanying blog that chronicles Moore and Prain's research into knit (and crochet) graffiti groups from around the globe, they've been "tagging" the world with "yarn bombs."

Pique your interest? If you are a knitter or crocheter with a flair for fiber artistry and you're interested in dabbling in the underworld of yarn bombing, join the movement. It's certainly a great reuse opportunity for your leftover stash. Plus, groups are popping up all over the world. But first, you must be willing to abide by a manifesto of sorts.

England's, Incognito group (no website link, as they want to stay below the radar) shares a few rules:

1. We anonymously promote knitting as adventure. 2. We aim to soften the edges of an otherwise cruel, harsh environment. 3. We juxtapose vandalism with the non-threatening nature of knitting. 4. We aim to readdress the nature of graffiti with a non-permanent, non-destructive, cozy medium. 5. We are a non-discriminating collective. 6. We aim to recruit members to tag on an international scale. 7. Knitstable today, the world tomorrow!

Ready to join the yarn graffiti force? Even if yarn bombing is too fringe (no pun intended), check out the book...it's a voyeuristic pleasure not to be missed.

For me, yarn bombing gives new meaning to, "Go hug a tree." Thoughts? Does knit graffiti desecrate, or do you agree with Yarn Bombing's slogan, "Improving the urban landscape one stitch at a time?"

3 Ways To Knit Green And A Big Cable Coverlet (free knitting pattern)

In my conciliatory effort to catch up, it’s time for another knitting project. Before you grab your needles, let’s take a look at the saving the planet side of knitting.

Since I must examine the eco-friendliness of everything, and I must knit, I must help you find a way to knit without doing any further harm to our precious environment.

Let’s be real. Knitting is not the greenest of crafts. It’s expensive, and there's a myriad of toxic additives and dyes used in the manufacturing of yarn. The process is not energy-efficient, and not great for workers health. And a large chunk of yarn comes from faraway places. All of this can negatively affect people and our planet.

While the yarn industry may have a long way to go, there are a few things conscious knitters can do.

3 Ways to Green Your Knitting

1. Knit Your Stash – Here's a fact: Knitters horde yarn. Why? Because you’ll never know when you will need a variegated purple fingering-weight merino angora-blend skein. What was I thinking?

2. Unravel An Old Sweater – It’s spring…go weeding in your sweater drawer. I wrote about how to rip out a sweater and reuse the yarn HERE. Try it. For some, ripping out is more fun than knitting.

3. Consider Your Ecological Impact – Purchase organic yarn from a local yarn shop. Organic yarn goes through the same rigorous requirements as organic meat. Sheep are fed organic feed, free of injected growth hormones, and their cushy fleeces cannot be washed in chemicals. Natural dyes seal the eco-deal.

Big Cable Knitted Coverlet

My daughter sent me a photo of a coverlet she wants for her bed (main image). I pinned it onto my Pinterest Knitting Board. Love the big cables. I found the perfect (free) KNITTING PATTERN (right), and beautiful creamy organic yarn at my local yarn shop.

Cabled and caught up!

Photos: the style files, Lion Brand Yarn