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Go World

A day like today only comes around once every two years. It’s a day we set aside the political unrest, the heartache a dose of the nightly news brings, the difficult things going on in our lives. We make the popcorn, grab the knitting, camp out in front of the TV and cheer as the world’s greatest athletes take center stage.

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Merri Fromm’s Olympic Hat Pattern.

The Olympics bring with them a wonderful sense of hope. Watching athletes from all walks of life, from every corner of the earth and every possible background reminds us that borders exist only on maps. We cheer for countries that our relatives came from, because after all, in America we are all immigrants. We rally behind the tiny nations where the number of athletes can be counted on one hand. We holler playfully at our competition and we chant and wave our flags as Team USA parades out.

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All of the knitting! Team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

I love the Olympics. The games are great and it’s always wonderful to see the American flag hoisted up and our anthem blasted over the speakers, but what gets me is the dedication, the training these incredible people put their bodies through, the families of the athletes in the stands who have been there each step of the way, the sense of pride and the feeling that for a couple of weeks, we are all one. It doesn’t matter who comes from where, who places first, second, or third. We are all citizens of this planet and we cheer each other on.

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I love this hat worn by skier Lindsey Vonn in the Winter Olympics.

Started in 2006 by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka The Yarn Harlot (for the “rules” click here), we knitters embrace our own version of the Olympics. Formally called the “Knitting Olympics” before the brass at the Olympic committee freaked out and made us change it to the “Ravellenic Games,” we commit to earning medals for ourselves. The rules are simple and I challenge you here and now to participate. Cast on a project once the Olympic cauldron is lit and finish it when the flame is extinguished by the end of the games a little over 2 weeks later. You should be knitting something you can finish in that time period, but it should also be something that you think is a bit above your skill level. No garter scarves here – get your lace shawl, your Fair Isle mitts, your cabled sweater or whatever you’ve been dreaming of casted on!

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Kristen McDonnell’s Olympic Gold Medal Ribbon Pattern.

There are so many Olympic Games-inspired projects on Ravelry, but take a gander at your queue and make a quick trip out to your LYS before the Opening Ceremonies tonight. I’ll be casting on for my mom’s Christmas present (can’t reveal any more than that since my mom reads my blog – Hi Mom!) and if there’s time, a Fair Isle cowl I’ve been drooling over.

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Print that pattern out, wind that yarn, pop that popcorn and settle in. Go world!

 

Busy Summer

Ahoy! I’ve been buried in work for my upcoming Craftsy class! I am thrilled to be flying out next week to film a knitting class that will be available online soon. The prep work is intense and I hope you’ll love it and learn a lot. I continue to cross things off my Teaching Bucket List and I’m honored to get to work with such a fantastic company that provides an exceptional educational platform for crafters worldwide.

In the meantime, I keep stumbling across interesting articles that I want to share with you, so sit back and enjoy! We saw a lot of old yarn and ropes from Viking ships during our recent trip to Scandinavia so I found this discovery fascinating. Original article found here.

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Found: A 3,000-Year-Old Ball of Yarn

By Sarah Laskow

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This is 3,000 years old. (Photo: Must Farm Archaeology)

The ball of yarn above is 3,000 years old. For much of its existence, it has been buried underground, in boggy land, along with the rest of the remains of three small houses built millennia ago, near what’s now Cambridge, England.

Ever since archaeologists discovered Must Farm, which has been called Britain’s Pompeii, they have been uncovering small clues as to what life was like for the families that lived here. This ball of yarn is one of the most delicate finds–extraordinary in its survival over all these years.

In the week since the yarn was first found, the team has carefully cleaned it up. “Excavating and cleaning artifact this fragile is not easy but seeing them up close like this really shows how remarkable these finds are,” the team wrote on their Facebook page.

It’s easy to imagine how one wrong touch could cause the small ball, just over 1 cm in size, to break apart into nothing.

 

Faroe Islands Fit Cameras to Sheep to Create Google Street View

My husband sent me an email yesterday with the following article attached. It is the best thing I read all day and it had to be shared! If you subscribe to my blog via email, the Youtube video links may not show up. Click anywhere on the post to see them. Original article here.
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Faroe Islands fit cameras to sheep to create Google Street View

Tired of waiting for Google to map the archipelago, Faroe Islanders have launched Sheep View 360, enlisting their ovine population to do the leg work

Follow me … mounted with a 360-degree camera. Photograph: Visit Faroe Islands

Living across 18 tiny sub-polar islands in the north Atlantic, Faroe islanders are used to working in difficult conditions. So tired of waiting for Google Street View to come and map the roads, causeways and bridges of the archipelago, a team has set up its own mapping project – Sheep View 360.

With the help of a local shepherd and a specially built harness built by a fellow islander, Durita Dahl Andreassen of Visit Faroe Islands has fitted five of the island’s sheep with a 360-degree camera.

As the sheep walk and graze around the island, the pictures are sent back to Andreassen with GPS co-ordinates, which she then uploads to Google Street View.

“Here in the Faroe Islands we have to do things our way,” says Andreassen. “Knowing that we are so small and Google is so big, we felt this was the thing to do.”

So far the Sheep View team have taken panoramic images of five locations on the island. They have also produced 360 video so you can explore the island as if you are, quite literally, a sheep.

The islands have a population of 80,000 sheep and 49,188 humans.

As well as obviously helping promote the island to visitors, the project is part of a campaign to convince Google to come to the island to complete the mapping project. Visit Faroe Islands have launched a petition and the hashtag #wewantgooglestreetview to promote its case.

But would Google Street View ruin the beauty that comes from being such an isolated place? “I think that we’re ready for this,” says Andreassen. “It’s a place that has always been so hidden and far away from everything, but I think that we are ready to invite people to the place.”

Guardian Travel contacted Google to ask if they had any plans to map the Faroe Islands. They would not comment, but pointed out that anyone is welcome to create their own Street View experiences and apply to borrow Google’s camera equipment.

It’s not the first time a project has brought together Google Street View and sheep. Last year the Google Sheep View blog was launched, which collected images of sheep found on Street View to celebrate the year of the sheep.

Scandinavia

Hey, crafty folks! We just got back from a few weeks in Scandinavia. Denmark, Sweden and Norway were always places I wanted to visit and having my family there with me, surrounded by a deep sense of history but also modernism, LOTS of knitting, art, good food and absolute beauty made it the trip of a lifetime. I  could live in Sweden in a heartbeat and my head came back crammed with inspiration and my suitcase came back full of yarn. I loved every minute.

I came across this brief article recently and it reminded me of our incredible trip. Definitely worth sharing and if you’re interested, be sure to check out her Instagram account. Original article found here.

Guerrilla Crocheting Adds a Splash of Color to the Streets of Stockholm 

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Stockholm-based street artist Julia Riordan became obsessed with knitting and crochet at the age of 10 and eventually launched her own line of knitware in 2012. Soon after she started forays into yarn bombing around London and now continues in Sweden, where she recently installed this fun piece titled Splash. More on Instagram. (via StreetArtNews)

Mahalo Shawl

We love maps in our house. As a child, one of my favorite books was my oversized atlas I’d haul from one reading spot to another. The binding was frayed, the cover badly torn, some of the pages were smudged and borders were constantly changing. I loved that each country had a beautiful spread across two pages, that there were facts running up and down the sides, flags, traditional dress shown, topography, food, climate and agriculture. Anyone can tell you that growing up is difficult, and I could disappear into the pages of that book and become anyone, anywhere. I still have that atlas, despite it being long out-of-date.

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My son is starting to show signs of a love for maps. At his request, I recently hung a huge map of the United States in his bedroom. His playroom has a wonderful map of the world on the wall and he’ll point to a country and ask me to tell him about it. I got him an oversized atlas that we often pull down from the book shelf, open to a random page and dream together about places far away. Looking and talking about maps and ideas of distant lands, mysterious cultures and places we may never visit is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.

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Inspired by my old atlas, warmer climates and unique landscapes, I’d like to introduce you to the latest and penultimate installment of my series of KALs (knit-a-longs) for String Yarns in New York City. With visions of aquamarine Hawaiian and Caribbean waters, mountains and coral reefs, please welcome the Mahalo Shawl!

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An asymmetrical shawl knitting up in a scalene triangle (if you’ve forgotten your high school geometry, that means all sides are different lengths), this shape shows off contrasting colors, interesting stitch patterns and a scalloped short edge. 9 ridges of garter stitch sandwich an intriguing 6 row cluster pattern with wrapping, triple yarn overs and slipped stitches. Working the coral-colored sections was my favorite part of this shawl!

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Knit in String Yarns’ Windsong, a summery, breathable, light-weight blend of 50% silk and 50% linen yarn, this shawl needs only 2 balls of the main color and 1 of the contrasting color. With size US 10.5 needles, the open, airy stitches create a fabric that won’t be heavy on your shoulders, can fold up nicely in your suitcase for your summer travel and can be worn many ways. It’s the perfect size for travel knitting!

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As always, this KAL for String Yarns will take place in their Ravelry Group. The shawl will be broken down into 4 installments every Tuesday starting on July 12th, but I will be checking in, encouraging and offering advice to all as we knit our way through it together! The benefits to KALs are enormous – comraderie, the sharing of tips and tricks, working on the same project together all over the world and seeing the progress of new friends is an uncommon experience. After 1 month of installments, the group will remain active for an additional month to allow everyone to finish and continue to receive my help. I’ll be checking in on you daily!

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Head over to String Yarns here to order your kit and receive 15% off the Mahalo Shawl kit with the code JulyKAL16 at checkout. Pick your favorite color combination from 12 options or go with the ones I chose! Be sure to join the Ravelry group here and order your kit to be ready for July 12th. This is my favorite project so far in my series of KALs for String and I hope you’ll join us in July. See you there!

Mahalo!

 

Be Still My Crocheted Heart

Anatomy is endlessly fascinating. I did a large serious of plexiglass multimedia pieces at RISD that centered around anatomy and journaling during my time there. I’d like to get back into making those some day, but whenever I see any kind of art with a node to anatomy, I stop and look twice. Check out the work of crochet artist Anne Mondro below. Original article found here.

Artist Anne Mondro is putting the art in heart with these amazing anatomically correct hearts. She makes them by crocheting tinned copper wire and we’re sure you’ll agree that the results are nothing short of spectacular.

Mondro is an Associate Professor at the School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. She spent about a year researching the anatomy of a heart in order to ensure that her art was as anatomically correct as possible. She figured out how to make her hearts using 3D modeling software and she complemented the process by spending time in the university anatomy laboratory.

“This piece is very personal,” explains the artist. “I’ve been working with older adults with memory loss and their caregivers. It’s so intense to be a caregiver. When you care for a loved one, the two of you become intertwined. You take on their vulnerabilities but also their strengths. As I thought about that relationship, it was important that these forms be tied together somehow.”

More info: Anne Mondro

 

Introducing Modern Baby Knits

I am frequently asked “how is it to write a knitting book?”

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This is a difficult question to answer, as each book is an entirely different experience. I find writing books to be a similar experience to hanging out with friends – each one is unique, each has its own set of issues, some need to be treated more carefully because they are more emotional, while some like to banter back and forth. Occasionally it’s an effortless experience, like being with a friend who has known you your entire life and you immediately fall into an easy rhythm. Sometimes it’s an exasperating experience and you want to kick it in the teeth and ask it why it’s being so difficult. The short answer? It’s not easy, but it sure is fun.

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Diamond Pullover by Suvi Simola

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Elizabeth Tunic by Taiga Hilliard

My latest book (my seventh) is coming out on Friday, and it’s a special one. 3 Skeins or Less – Modern Baby Knits is a collection of 23 knitted baby garments, blankets and toys. It’s an ode to knitting mamas everywhere and my mantra for this book was “fuss-free knitting.” Moms are the busiest people I know. Often times we are the head of the household, we’re the maintenance staff, the medic, the teacher, the chef, the psychologist, the friend, the disciplinarian, the chauffeur, the maker, the kisser of boo boos and the giver of hugs. We wear a lot of hats, so when we sit down to knit something for the little loves in our lives, whether it’s for your own children or someone else’s, we don’t want to spend 168,729,359 hours making and finishing it on size 0 needles. I often hear “I started a sweater for my baby. My baby is now 38 years old and that sweater still isn’t done.” These knits are designed to be quick, satisfying, modern and most importantly, wearable.

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Stripy Romper by Kate Oates

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Wallie and Carter by Rebecca Danger

Another thing that was very important to me while working on this book was to have knits that children can live their lives in. Gone are the days of “children should be seen and not heard” (and good riddance) and that children should dress like small adults. Kids are in constant motion and when I pick my son up from morning preschool and he’s covered in mud, I empty out tons of sand from his sneakers, he has marker all over his face, and there’s play dough in his hair, I consider it a good day. I want my kid getting dirty, I want him exploring the world around him and getting into it. I want him to dig his hands deep into the earth and plant something, to hold worms and watch them wriggle around, to watch the birds at the bird feeder and to chase the butterflies. This is what kids do and one of my favorite hats to wear as a mom with my son is the “explorer” hat. Oh, and I want him doing all of these things in hand knits that I’ve made for him.

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Striped Jersey by Julie Partie

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Nuage Pullover by Nadia Cretin-Lechenne

I often marvel at how spoiled we are as knitters. We have glorious superwash yarn that has all the wonderful elements of wool without the worrisome issue of accidental felting. We have fantastic plant fiber blends for warmer weather or for children with sensory issues. Our LYSs are stuffed to the gills with beautiful fibers, stunning colorways and options we may never have dreamed of. Keeping this in mind, I chose the fibers quite carefully when curating this collection. We run the gamut of yarns in this book and there is absolutely something for everyone. Everything in this book can be made with 3 skeins of yarn or less! How great is that?!

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Eyelet Dress by Megan Grewal

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Polka Dot Pocket Pullover by Suvi Simola

Many of the designs in this book are unisex – another thing I like to think about when knitting for little ones. Many folks have more than one child, or are gifting a hand knit into a family with multiple kids. One of the very best things about hand knits is they can last forever, especially when cared for and stored properly. I love the idea of knitting a sweater and giving it to someone who has all their children wear it, then perhaps they pass it on to a cousin that puts all their children in it, then maybe it goes to a friend and they put all their children in it. Hand knits are like library books, being passed to a new person and living a new adventure with them. Knits tell stories and I always whisper to whatever I’ve made for a new baby as I wrap it up and prepare to gift it, “I hope you are loved and bring love to whomever you travel with. I hope you outlive me and bring warmth and happiness for generations.” I am by no means a superstitious person, but I always do this, sealing in my good intentions for the lucky wearer and those to come.

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Bunny by Melissa Schaschwary

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Rainbow Bonnet and Mitten Set by Lisa Chemery

With a roster of international designers including folks like myself, Suvi Simola, Justine Turner, Shannon Cook, Melissa LaBarre, Svetlana Volkova, Nadia Crétin-Léchenne, Kate Oates, Rebecca Danger, Ekaterina Blanchard, Julie Partie, Kelly Herdrich, Taiga Hilliard, Melissa Schaschwary, Karen Borrel, Megan Grewal, Elizabeth Murphy, Helen Rose, Terri Kruse and Lisa Chemery, many are mothers themselves and understood the modern, fuss-free aesthetic I was going for. Everyone did an amazing job with their design and I am so proud of them as well as how the book turned out. My toughest critic – my 5-year-old, loves everything in this book. Mission accomplished!

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Baby Tunic by Terri Kruse

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Geometric Baby Blanket by Shannon Cook

Finally, this book was dedicated to one of the three women who were instrumental in teaching me how to knit, encouraging me and throwing me into the deep in of knitting. Debbie Marchetti was the mom of one of my brother’s friends growing up. Our family became close with their family (and remains so today). Debbie lost her battle with cancer early last year as this book was wrapping up and heading off to the tech editor. Debbie was a wonderful knitter, a gentle soul, mother of three and gave me one of my favorite knitting books that still sits on my shelf today. She lived long enough to see her fourth grandchild be born and I’d like to think she’d have a copy of this book on her shelf, knitting for all the little ones in her life.

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Camero Pullover by Svetlana Volkova

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Modern Filagree Blanket by Tanis Gray

I hope you enjoy Modern Baby Knits. I hope it becomes your go-to book anytime someone announces they’re expecting or if you have a baby of your own on the way.  Maybe you know a child who needs a new sweater, blanket, toy or accessory and this is the book you grab off your shelf. I hope your copy becomes tattered and worn over the years as you keep coming back it to, knitting for the new life that constantly surrounds us.

Modern Baby Knits is available here and the complete collection can be seen here.

xoxo

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