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News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Yarniverse' Category

Talk to the Paw by Franklin Habit

November 3rd, 2015

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franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

“Leelee just loves my knitting,” she said brightly, plucking the ball of yarn from the corner into which it had rolled. “Don’t you, Leelee?”

Leelee was silent.

“She just loves it,” she said again, winding on the twisted clew that had circumnavigated the legs of the armchair, the coffee table, and a medium-sized plaster reproduction of the Venus de Milo. “You love it, don’t you?”

Leelee watched sullenly for a moment, then turned her back and began licking her foot.

Leelee, as you may have guessed, is a cat. Unable to speak for herself, she is frequently given voice by the knitter with whom she resides. Leelee is often said by the knitter to be quite the yarn fanatic. Leelee pores over the knitting magazines that litter the floor and offers mewling critiques of the patterns inside. Leelee does not care for intarsia, drop shoulders, or very bright colors. Leelee is presently infatuated with chenille.

“Did she tell you that?” I asked.

“She doesn’t have to, silly!” said the knitter. “Cats and yarn! Cats and yarn!”

I felt, on Leelee’s behalf, a certain resentment. I understand what it’s like to have everyone assume they know you just by looking at you. As a man, I am generally reckoned to have a deep love of football (no) and a violent aversion to needlework (also no). It’s not quite fair.


Yarncrafting Costumes: Designing an Interactive (and Creepy!) Headpiece

October 22nd, 2015

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In this guest post by Gali Beeri, she reveals a knitted costume that’s a true feast for the eyes…

With Halloween just around the corner, today I’d like to share the creepiest costume I’ve knitted yet. The theme for this particular costume party was “freak show”, along with “third eyes”, wherever they may peer from…

In exploring design ideas for my headpiece, at first I considered knitting a crown made of tiny eyes. Pondering the other side of the spectrum, perhaps one big eye would make more of a statement. And then inspiration struck – what if people could interact with my costume in some way? What if one big eye revealed many tiny eyes?

I set about knitting one tiny eyeball after another. The yarn was an easy decision; of course my tiny eyeballs need to sparkle! Working on a set of US 1 double-pointed needles, I knit a small sphere starting out with Vanna’s Glamour® in Diamond and switching to blue (using scrap yarn I had left over from other projects) for the iris. Afterward I embroidered the pupil using a length of black yarn.

Once I had 14 tiny eyeballs, I set about stitching them together around a central knitted sphere. I added a few silver sequins with needle and thread for good sparkly measure.

Next I designed and knitted the giant eye. Using Vanna’s Glamour® and Vanna’s Choice® in White held together on a US 8 needle, I made a sphere about six inches in diameter. I switched colors for the iris, working with Vanna’s Choice® in Aqua. I worked the last couple of rounds with more Vanna’s Choice® in Black held together with Vanna’s Glamour® in Onyx.

Note that I didn’t knit the sphere closed. I left an opening large enough for the cluster of tiny eyeballs to fit through, so that people would be able to reach inside the giant eye and pull out the tiny cluster of eyes. I knitted a small flap in black and attached it halfway around the opening, and sewed on some Velcro so the flap could close neatly and give the appearance of a pupil. I embroidered details on the iris with Glitterspun® in Aquamarine for added depth and sparkle.

I worried the large eye wouldn’t hold its shape well without the tiny cluster inside, as I also wanted the large eye to “stand alone” as its own piece. So I knitted a smaller partial sphere – a pocket, if you will. Nesting the pocket inside the eye, I inserted stuffing between the two layers and seamed them together at the eye’s opening. For increased sturdiness, I wove a length of jewelry wire around the circumference of the eye.

To attach the piece to my head, I found my new favorite resource – a plastic lace headband! The holes throughout the headband were perfect as anchor points where I could stitch the knitted eye.

If I may say so myself, I consider this piece a resounding success! Many party attendees loved reaching into my giant eye and discovering what was inside. A couple of folks were too scared to reach inside because the eye was so creepy, which I found endlessly entertaining – an effective “freak show” costume indeed!

A few weeks after this party, I found yet another excuse to wear my creation. This time the theme was rainbow colors, so I knitted a few tiny spheres out of Bonbons® in Brights, stitched some eyes on them in black, and connected them in a silly little cluster around a small hand-wound ball of white Vanna’s Choice®. Reusable costume knitting for the win!

What are you making for Halloween?

Crafting, Color Blindness, and Changes in Color Perception

October 21st, 2015

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Crafting, Color Blindness, and Changes in Color Perception
In this guest post by Phyllis Alberici, she explores crafting with color blindness, and how to choose a color palette with color perception in mind.

You’re out shopping for yarn and having a difficult time choosing colors, so you decide to ask another shopper or the sales person for an opinion on a color you chose. You thought you were holding a pretty blue-green but you’re told it’s just green or just blue or maybe even turquoise.

Have you had this experience?

We each “see” color and hue a little differently but color blindness, medications and certain illnesses can also change how we perceive color.

There’s a long list of medical conditions that can affect our color perception: diabetes, glaucoma, cataracts, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and liver disease are just a few. Some medications, including antibiotics and medicines used to treat psychological illnesses and high blood pressure can also affect our eyes.

True color blindness doesn’t mean you can’t see color but it creates difficulty seeing the differences between certain colors. It can also make it difficult to distinguish between certain shades, or hues, of some colors.

How does a color blind crafter, or crafter with medical issues that affect color, work with color? Here are a few simple ideas to make your knitting and crocheting easier:

  1. Use contrast in choosing colors but try to avoid either very dark colors together or very bright colors together. In general, dark shades of red will look like dark brown for those who are red/green color blind and dark greens will look more grey or taupe.
  1. Before you head out to choose yarn, the Colblindor Color Blindness Simulator might help you make the right color choices. Just upload a photo and then click through the different types of color blindness to see what the yarn will look like.
  1. If you’re making a gift for someone who has difficulty with color perception, take a look at the colors they wear most often or just ask what they prefer. Choose something with enough contrast so that colors don’t look muddy.
  1. In general, the more pure the hue the better. That orangey red or blue grey might not work but a true red or blue might.
  1. Take a photo with your phone or a camera set on the black and white setting when you choose yarn for a color blind friend. This helps to “see” the contrasts as the color blind person does.


If you’ve knitted or crocheted for someone who is color blind, or has difficulty with color perception, how do you choose color combinations?

How-To Tuesday: A How-To-Knit Guide for Project Knitwell

October 20th, 2015

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How-To Tuesday: Project Knitwell
With our latest publication, Project Knitwell Presents: The Comfort of Knitting, we aimed to bring our craft to those who could benefit most from stress relief. We were inspired by Project Knitwell’s commitment to bring knitting to caregivers in hospitals, and developed the book as a how-to guide for first-time knitters. Whether you yourself are a caregiver, know a caregiver, or want to take up knitting, this book acts as both an introduction to the craft and a wellness guide. You’ll learn firsthand how therapeutic knitting can be!

In this How-To Tuesday, we’ve compiled tutorials tailored to beginner knitters. With these skills, anyone can start on one (or more!) of the seven new patterns found in The Comfort of Knitting. All projects included in the book are portable, so they can be worked on both at home, in a waiting room, or during breaks in your day.

Click on the links below to learn…

How to Make a Slip Knot

How to Start with a Knitted Cast-On

How to Knit the Knit Stitch

How to Knit the Purl Stitch

How to Bind Off

How to Seam Two Garter Stitch Pieces Together

How to Seam Two Stockinette Stitch Pieces Together

Head over to to buy Project Knitwell Presents: The Comfort of Knitting; all proceeds from Lion Brand’s sale of this book go directly to Project Knitwell and the Alzheimer’s Association.


Finding Color Inspiration in Unexpected Places

October 12th, 2015

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Knitting to Heal: Carol's Project Knitwell StoryIn this guest post by Phyllis Alberici, she finds yarn-spiration from an unlikely source.

Two weeks ago I received a text message with an unusual image: an abandoned railroad car.

I was sitting on the porch on a hot humid afternoon enjoying a vanilla ice cream cone and hoping writing inspiration would strike when a message with a photo popped up on my cell phone. It was from my son who has the kind of job that takes him to unusual places.

“Check out this picture I took.” Wait! Could that be an old freight car painted with graffiti? The colors were a palette of subtle teals, greens, rusts, pinks, silvers, reds and more. What I saw wasn’t a rusting rail car shoved aside to rot but a painting with colors that blended and swirled.

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” he added. It certainly was.

My usual reaction to graffiti scrawled on railroad cars is “Look at the mess they made.” My Dad used to say, “See before you speak,” and these words came to me as I processed the image on my phone. Time and age had mellowed the graffiti to something worthy of a skein or two or more of yarn. My son had sent me an image that fascinated him and I found color in an unexpected, and unlikely, place.

As crafters, we expect to be a little overwhelmed, happily so, when we look at racks and bins of yarn. Ideas start to percolate at the potential in each skein. We cruise the internet or admire someone else’s projects looking for new ideas.

But think about this: what if we went looking for color palettes in unusual and unexpected places?

Last winter I became ill, seriously and unexpectedly sick in a way that changed my life. Color and yarn pulled me through and out of the dark place the illness had taken me. Skeins of yarn wove themselves into a lifeline. I started to look for colors where I hadn’t before.

Yesterday I decided to go on an expedition with the railroad car picture in hand. I wanted to see how any colors I could find to incorporate into a stranded sweater or scarf, a cowl or maybe some mittens for the winter ahead. Or a blanket. Winter is always a great time to make a blanket.

But before I could think about a road trip, I was side-tracked by a colander full of colorful tomatoes and peppers fresh from the garden. Unlike the colors of the railroad car, these colors weren’t mellow and soothing. These screamed at me to take a picture. Now I had two reasons to head out on a yarn expedition with two completely different palettes: one soft and mellow, the other bold and sunny.

I’m always looking for new ideas for colors to put together for my never-ending list of projects. I think I’ll start carrying a camera with me just in case. How about joining me? It would be great fun to see your photos of the unexpected colors you find out there.

Where do you find inspiration for your projects? Check out a few of our favorite color palettes, based on artwork:

yarn_colorpalette_heartland yarn_colorpalette_amazing2 yarn_colorpalette_heartlandtweed
Color palette created with Heartland® Color palette created with Amazing® Color palette created with Heartland®