Inspirational Women

tomofholland

Today is International Women’s Day, which got me thinking about all the inspirational women in my life. Although the field of knitting is dominated by women (attending the In the Loop conferences is a good example of where I’m in the minority as a man) there are a lot of issues around how people view women artists and makers, and how the things they produce are valued. Here is a list of some of the women that inspire me and inform my knitting directly or indirectly. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order as they all inspire me in different ways. I could easily write a long blog post about each of them, so instead I hope you will follow the links and see for yourself.

international women's day

Amy Twigger Holroyd: Amy managed to take away my prejudices against machine knitting, but mostly I feel inspired by seeing her practice, in which she…

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My tiny giant cloud

Swatch,swatch,swatch…says she who plays gauge chicken!

Fringe Association

blanket_gauge_lessonsHere’s a little anecdote for anyone who’s ever wondered why or whether gauge matters.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending Rebekka Seale’s blanket workshop in her beautiful studio, with a bunch of lovely women who had traveled from all over. I had provided Knit and Let Knit totes for everyone, and Rebekka had filled them with giant spirals of undyed merino roving and size US50 circular needles. We all introduced ourselves and then set to work knitting fluffy 3×2 ribbed blankets, while chatting and eating and oohing and aahhing over how beautiful the materials were. (And how the rose meringues for dessert looked just like our clouds of roving.) Of course, nobody ever thought to wonder about gauge or knit a swatch or anything — it’s a blanket; who cares, right? By mid-afternoon, we each had a substantial amount of fabric on our enormous needles and I…

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quick and dirty

A few weeks ago I spent the weekend with my nieces…it just happened to work out that my sister and I swapped kids-my daughter enjoyed a trip to Ottawa, embracing all that Winterfest has to offer. I on the other hand was able to hang out with my two older nieces,relaxing and catching up.

Naturally I took a modest selection of knitting with me…several socks-vanilla, and a few patterned ones. I worked a little on a mosaic cowl, but it didn’t hold my attention for too long. I made a few feeble attempts on the socks but to no avail, my heart just wasn’t feeling it…you know what I’m talking about, my itch wasn’t being scratched. I needed to have something on the needles that was quick and dirty, something that in the end would make me feel like I’d actually accomplished something!

Fortunately, as any knitter worth her wool does; I had thrown in some random balls, just in case.

I had a ball of pretty fluffy Fleece Artist Peter Rabbit, a beautiful angora blend that I loved working with, along with a rather serious ball of Classic Elites, Princess – that despite all of its seriousness managed to house a brilliant combo of wool,rayon,nylon, cashmere and angora!!

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Combine this with the fact that I had a niece that made happy sounds when she saw the fluffy goodness, I now felt a strong obligation to turn said random balls into something marvelous! Suffice it to say I cast on and by the time the weekend came to a close I was just shy of being done…

This weekend they will be handed over, transformed into a truly awesome pair of mittens…just like that my itch was scratched and all was well with the world.

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and my heart sang

My daughter is in grade 12 this year…we’re busy filling out college applications, planning grad celebrations and the whole shebang and this does make me happy.  What makes me even happier is this… I taught Sara to knit waaaaaay back in grade 7… she took to it naturally and whipped off a good 6 inches or so on her first attempt,made lots of happy noises while doing so… and that was the end of it, her beautiful ball of yarn was placed on her dresser beside the Mimsilater, a now long lost rat of yesteryear.  The Mimsilater enjoyed admiring the beautiful yarn so much that she put in a little effort and moved it into her cage, turning it into the bed of her dreams. That was it, that was all, that was Sara’s stint with knitting…until…this!

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We were binge watching Greys Anatomy, me happily knitting something, how could I not be knitting? Her doing something on her phone, when completely at random she asks, “can I knit something”?  IT MADE MY HEART SING! Many shades of crazy ran through my head(being the knitter that I am I have been telling myself continually that “she has the knowledge, she’ll come back to it…) I recall muttering something about muscle memory, and rhyming off a bunch of great yarn qualifiers, but then I saw her face…realizing that I was on borrowed time I quickly ran to the room that houses all of the yarn(with the exception of the stuff that’s escaped to other regions of the house),I selected some of the biggest boring beige(her choice,not mine) yarn, along with appropriate needles…I cast on for her, showed her how to do the knit stitch and within the span of all of 35 seconds she was off to the races!! Muscle memory is a beautiful thing. I didn’t get my hopes up at this point, I’d been down this road before and wasn’t going to be pulled in quite so easily this time. I played it nonchalantly and watched her quietly from my end of the couch. She knit through the rest of the day, continued for a second and a third day and then she was done! She was done her scarf! I magically turned it into a cowl for her and she has worn it several times since, receiving compliments and proudly announcing her great part in creating it with her own hands!! It really did make my heart sing.  Oh! and just to make me even more joyful, she’s talking about her next project!!!

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Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ February 23, 2015

Studio Mothers: Life & Art

Matisse quote

A regular creative practice — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning. Key to living, not postponing. (Let’s all agree to give up on “someday.”)

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

Share your intentions or goals as a comment to this post, and…

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Searching for Spring

Two Strands

The thermometer outside my kitchen window reported a bone-chilling two, count ’em,  two sorry degrees this morning.  So, I checked the weekend forecast, hoping for a sunny reprieve.  Snow and ice starting on Saturday afternoon, lasting into Sunday.  Not exactly what I was hoping for, but par for the course around here this year.

Yet, even with this bleak forecast, as in life, there’s always a ray of sunshine somewhere; sometimes, we just have to look for it a bit further down the road than we’d guessed.  “Wintry Mix” – innocent enough words on their own; one monumentally nasty affront, as a team.  If we can just get through Sunday’s “wintry mix”, there’s a chance – mind you, it’s just a chance – but there’s a real, bonafide, 100% maybe-almost-reasonable chance that my poor, downtrodden thermometer might actually get revved up all the way into the 30’s for a…

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DMK Podcast, Episode 26: The Design Process

Dark Matter Knits

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WATCH NOW: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/ep-26-the-design-process_39960

As I’ve been spending more time on my own knitting designs lately, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the process that goes into creating a pattern. For me, that process is slightly different each time, so I’ll talk about both how wildly things can vary and about the steps that I always visit when I’m designing. The process is both invigorating (really gets the creative juices flowing!) and challenging (grading for different sizes is HARD).

The technique segment in this episode gives you some tips for joining into the round without twisting your stitches.

Mentioned in this episode:

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