Tip of the week: Yarn substitution

4) yarn sub

If you want to easily replace a yarn in a pattern there are 4 easy steps to success.

1. Yarn weight: If a pattern is written for a DK or an aranweight, you will end up with a very different fabric is you try to knit it in 4-ply. Although you can adapt a pattern, you are best substituting DK for DK, chunky for chunky, etc.
2. Fibre content: For best results, try to use a yarn that is made up from similar fibres as the one in the pattern. Cotton yarn behaves very differently to wool so swapping one for another might give you a very different outcome than you were expecting.
3. Tension: We’re back to the tension square again. You do need to check that you can get the same tension as the pattern with your substitute yarn.
4. Yarn amounts: To work out how much of your new yarn you require, you need to know the meterage (metres per ball) for both the yarn in the pattern and your chosen yarn.
Time for a small sum: If the pattern requires six balls of yarn with 120m per 50g, you need 720m of yarn. The yarn you have chosen has 210m in a 100g ball. Three balls would give you 630m (probably not enough) and four balls 840m.

From granny's crochet to modern art

Catching up on BBC Radio 4's Front Row programme I heard an interview with the American artist Chuck Close who currently has a show at London's White Cube gallery.

As in this section of a self portrait, Close works in great detail building up is work section by section on a grid. A technique he says, in the interview, that may be at some level influenced by his crocheting grandmother.

He talks about her building up a tablecloth motif by motif and how his work breaks things down in the same way. It is lovely to hear a fine artist talk about "craft" in this way and worth a listen - his interview is at 7mins 12s.

Infinite crochet and performance art

This summer I am one of a team of women crocheting the Mandelbrot set for the sake of art.

It is not a bad gig. I sit in an armchair and for hours crochet a simple but meditative set of stitches.

The mathmatical formula, the Mandelbrot set, has been converted into a set of crochet instuctions which we "babushkas" reproduce.

image from
Not me but you get the idea.

As the artists, Where the Dogs Run, put it:

"Boundaries of the void are defined through the process of crochet. The void, in this case, is that which is outside the boundaries of the crocheted fabric. Thus, is the crochet herself "suspended" in the void? Or perhaps, as long as a thread connects her to the crocheted set, she is part of the non-void - and that's what makes the crochet so important?"

I've always felt that craft keeps me grounded so this is an interesting thought, although sitting in the chair in the gallery it feels like a few hours out of the world.

The installation is part of the Russian art show at the Calvert 22 gallery which is the  highlights from the Innovation Prize, the official state award for contemporary visual arts in Russia. Best described as the Turner prize of Russian art, this is the first time art from the Innovation Prize has been shown outside Russia. 

An Olympic volunteer and knitter feels insulted

  Knit 155I’m a volunteer for London 2012 and will be part of the team delivering the fencing events at both the Olympics and Paralympics. I’m embracing all the opportunities to experience an Olympic Games first hand so when an opportunity came up recently to volunteer in another capacity thanks to my crafting skills I was there with my nimble fingers.

As a result in the past week I’ve spent one day sewing top secret costumes for the opening ceremony and another learning about wheelchair fencing equipment with some of the British wheelchair fencing squad who we hope to see at the games.

At the same time I’ve been planning my “Games time” knitting. Small projects that will fit in my gamesmaker bag that I can work on while travelling to and from shifts and on my breaks. My plan is to take part in the giant worldwide knit/crochet/spin-a-long that is the Ravelympics. This event founded on the yarncraft online community Ravelry encourages knitters, etc, to take part in challenges while viewing the Olympic Games. It features events such as the “single skein sprint” and the “socks putt” and to set themselves goals to achieve in the Olympic period – ie when the flame is burning in the stadium.

The event which ran during Beijing and Vancouver games has the double effect of raising awareness of the Games and challenging crafters to new skill levels. It creates a positive worldwide viewing party for the Games where crafters share their progress and discuss what they’ve been watching.

It would not be unexpected to come across, for example, the comment: “The rowing was so exciting I dropped all my stitches during the coxless fours finals”.

It is all about creating virtual participation.

So as a supporter of the Games and of Ravelry – I’m even the founder of a discussion group for ravellers who are also gamesmakers – I found the tone of a letter from the US Olympic Committee to Ravelry suggesting the event breaches Olympic trademarks insulting.

While all Olympic committees need to ensure that commercial organisations are not unfairly trading on the back of the Games and that sponsors interests are maintained (the sports need the funding), going after a non-commercial effort that celebrates the Olympics seems counter-productive.

But if the USOC legal department thought it had to pursue the matter, there was, as my mother would have said, no need to be rude about it.

The offending part of the letter is as follows:

“We believe using the name ‘Ravelympics’ for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

Well quite frankly, the USOC is managing to be disrespectful to millions of of people who have great respect for sportspeople and others who have worked hard to perfect a skill

I have been privileged to witness the hard work of athletes close-up and the fact on one occasion that I knitted in the same room as they were preparing didn’t seem to bother them. The fact that I am highly skilled at an activity is likely to raise my appreciation of their skills not insult them.

As I write, the USOC Facebook page is swamped with comments from crafters and #Ravelympics is trending on Twitter. The 2m or so Ravelry members are clearly passionate individuals with a good grasp of social media.

Surely these are the people we want on the side of the Olympics, enthusiastically sharing news of the events their watching and sharing experiences and encouraging other people to watch the Games (and therefore see all the sponsor logos) – not angry and alienated.


A few hours after my post joined many others on this issue and contributed to the online storm, the USOC issued a statement intended to pour oil on troubled waters.

"The letter sent to the organizers of the Ravelympics was a standard-form cease and desist letter that explained why we need to protect our trademarks in legal terms. Rest assured, as an organization that has many passionate knitters, we never intended to make this a personal attack on the knitting community or to suggest that knitters are not supportive of Team USA.

We apologize for any insult and appreciate your support. We embrace hand-crafted American goods as we currently have the Annin Flagmakers of New Jersey stitching a custom-made American flag to accompany our team to the Olympic Games in London. To show our support of the Ravelry community, we would welcome any handmade items that you would like to create to travel with, and motivate, our team at the 2012 Games."

Well, it is an attempt at an apology. But it rather misses the point the sentences that caused the offence are not part of a standard-form letter, they are specific to Ravelry and imply that knitters are disrespectful of Olympic athletes.

On the other hand it is a public statement intended as an apology and that is quite an achievement for the fibre community.

What we don't know is where this leaves the Ravelympics themselves.

DIY souvenirs

It seems that my memories of my first trip to Sicily will be in the form of things that do not yet exist in their final form. 

There will obviously be the online photo album and the new silver charm for my "travellers tale" bracelet just requires a jump ring but this is merely the tip of the iceberg. 

In Cefalu, where we were staying, two things caught my eye; the number of shops featuring beaded and wire jewellery and a little outlet for a traditional weaving and textile business featuring shawls, crocheted items and what from a distance appeared to be skeins of yarn.

So one evening I arranged to meet my very craft tolerant other half in an establishment that purveyed beer and set off for a browse/shop/inspiration-seeking wander. Several jewellery shops later, having being intrigued in particular by what you can create with half a zip (watch this space), I stumbled across one featuring exactly the types of wires and bead/semi-precious stone jewellery I've been learning about. Even better it had a large basket of these:

  Pic 001

Elasticated bracelets length loops strung with beads and stones which you could just wear as a bangle - or like me have mentally reworked into necklaces and earings by the time you reach the till.

And then I popped into the interesting textile outlet and made a fascinating discovery - in Sicilian terms all we knitters and crocheters have been wasting our time. If you want a scarf, all you do is takes a skein of yarn like so...

  Pic 002

... tie a couple of strategic knots or add a piece of ribbon and lo, you have a scarf.

Pic 003
Me being me, I'm already unravelling the knots and winding the yarn so I can turn it into a different type of scarf.

Happy memories.

 Meanwhile check out more of this week's Making Monday posts


A real Making Monday

There's a line from one of my favourite Van Morrison songs, Coney Island:

"Wouldn't it be great if it was like this all the time?"

And some days you just have that sort of feeling. That not realistic, if only money was no object, simple pleasures sort of day. Today counts as one of those because it was a proper Making Monday. I have reached late August without using a great deal of my annual leave so am  having the odd day off. 

Today was the first and I decided to make it about making. 

So from experimenting with Fimo buttons first thing:

  Craft 005

To finally dusting off my sewing machine to work on a panelled skirt.

  Craft 007

And the post blog task of sewing in the ends and crocheting a neck edging on a knitted t-shirt. It's been all about making today.

  Proj 047

Even lunch with my sister involved me delivering glass pendant I'd made her.

  Glass 015

Plus I tidied up yesterday's projects:

Proj 046
Cranford mittens

  Craft 002 Some stitch markers

And a recycling project. I have a multi-stranded turquoise on wire  necklace from which one strand broke off. Not wanting to waste it, I had a bit of a play with what's in my findings jar and I now have accompanying bracelet.

  Jewel 002

Wouldn't it be lovely if evey day was about messing about with wire, beads, wool, and whatever else takes your fancy?

4 of 11: miles of kidsilk lace

Shawl 020
Well actually a little over 2m of shawl. Because it's in kidsilk spray it feels masses of lace but weighs less than 75g.

I tend to be a bit nervous of working in kidsilk because it can be very difficult to rip back because the mohair tangles up but I only actually had a problem on the crochet finish on the ends.

Shawl 018 Shawl 022







I now need to find it a home - doing 11 shawls I don't want to keep them all. This is very pretty - the pattern is Scarf with the No. 20 Edging from "The Knitted Lace Pattern Book," 1850 from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby - but I'm not sure that it will suit me the best of the 11 so this will go to a family member or friend.

Shawl 023 I have also realised that all 4 so far are rectangular stoles (of which I'm keeping 2)  so I've put the planned number 5 on hold (another rectangle) in favour of a pure silk triangle followed by a half hexagon, and then perhaps a circle.


Looking back at knitting and crochet week

image from bromiskelly.typepad.comIt has been a fascinating week reading about how other crafters interpret a theme.

I've learnt a number of things:

1. My knitting is very tied to ideas of family and place - I hadn't really thought about that before, but looking back through the last week's posts there's a lot about relatives and childhood.

2. One person's achievement or aspiration mountain - lace, 4 needles, cable - is another one's day-to-day crafting.

3. The humble freezer bag can really engage knitters.

4. Everyone loves merino yarn but kidsilk can really divide opinion.

5. There don't seem to be a lot of blogging public transport knitters.

It has also confirmed my belief that knitting and crochet are crafts were a few basic techniques can take people in a wide range of directions but give them something to connect over as well.

So thanks to Eskimimi for coming up with the idea and the themes (and get well soon).


Coming soon: Knit & Crochet Blog Week

Blog week pinkKnitting bloggers of the world unite.

Organised by EskimimiKnits, the 2nd annual Knitting & Crotchet Blog Week kicks off in a couple of weeks. Join in to talk about your knitting challenges and triumphs, the yarns you love and hate and even your battles to organise your stash.

I've started thinking now so that I'm sure to have something to say and am looking forward to discovering new bloggers.