TINK–The Puppy!


We finally decided to adopt a puppy. So many dogs to choose from, but this one was named Tink (you know, like the knitting technique; like knit spelled in reverse!) and it was clearly meant to be. Home and happy, sleeping on the carpet. I just hope she doesn’t mind living with some crazy, crafty people 🙂 ❤

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Episode 27: Creative Comeback . . .

. . . with a special guest!!! Spencer is here to talk HATS!

So happy to be feeling creative again and out of deep survival mode. Episode 27 is waiting for you! I discuss

  • FOs: the Manning Park Hat and Spencer’s Hat Projects 🙂
  • WIPS: the Denali Sweater and Drop Spindles
  • Acquisitions: a knitting machine! a Taproot appearance!
  • Long-Term Podcast Projects:
    • Knit Together Project and 4oz Challenge–including a GIVEAWAY!!
  • and, finally, a new How-To series for YouTube!–I want your suggestions here or in the Rav discussion board I’ve just set up!




Posted in baking, community, Dinali Sweater, drop spindle, episode, found, knitting, spinner, spinners and weavers guild, spinning, sweater, video, yarn, yarn room, yarn-lover | 4 Comments

A Manning Park Hat for Him


Laura Dear has a lovely pattern that I’ve spoken about before: The Manning Park Hat 

It’s warm (with a double, turned brim), classy and fun! The color work is easy and the crown decreases make a lot of sense to me. I like the slouchy style and the picot hem and the only modification I made is to work the inner brim out of SW merino in a 3rd color. I did this same thing for my own Manning Park Hat–in fact, I used another color from my Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK sample pack so I could also use my gauge! Clever, if I do say so myself 🙂 You can see the inner brim in the photo below. I think Spencer likes it!

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Specs: I used size 5 and size 7 needles; the outer yarn is some Woolhalla Tunis from Tempe Yarn and Fiber (natural white) and some delightful Mountain Meadow Wool that I won in a giveaway from Rachel Smith of Wool n Spinning 🙂

Posted in community, gift, hat, knitting, Manning Park Hat, Spencer, Tanis Fiber Arts, unicorns, yarn | 8 Comments



Hoping everyone in the US had a lovely Thanksgiving and/or break this past week. I spent a lot of my time out walking (when I wasn’t knitting) and my ramblings more often than not brought me to my favorite local flock. Thanks to Spencer for being the best walking partner . . . and a damn decent on-the-fly-photographer 🙂

Posted in found, outside, sheep, shenanigans, Shetland, walking, weekending, yarn on the hoof | 4 Comments

Episode 26: Survival Knitting!

Whoa it’s been about 3, crazy, fun-filled, work-filled weeks! But Episode 26 is now up and off running. And it’s all about survival knitting during times of creative exhaustion! I hope you find some inspiration here to keep on keeping on! ❤

FO: Shawl Linus in *handspun*!!
WIP: Jean’s socks
And a healthy dose of science fiction fun!

Come hang and wash your troubles away!



NY House Build

Shawl Linus

Combo Spin Ravelry Page

How I Make My Socks

Forget Me Not Farm

Manning Park Hat

Tempe Yarn and Fiber

Walhalla Tunis

Rachel Smith Wool n Spinning Podcast

Tanis Fiber Arts

Posted in combed top, combination spin, community, creativity, episode, handspun, inspiration, knitting, Linus Shawl, sock yarn, socks, spinning, unexpected, unicorns, video | 1 Comment

Designer Dialogue: Woolly Thoughts

Happy weekending my fine fiber folk! The podcast will resume next weekend . . . right now I am up to my eyeballs in work prep and travel–I think you all know how that goes! I am very pleased to offer an excellent Designer Dialogue for you in the meantime. This weekend’s feature is Steve Plummer and Pat Ashforth–the Woolly Thoughts team! If you have not yet seen their amazing geometric patterns, you are in for a treat. I was off searching Ravelry for interesting afghans and again and again their patterns came to the top of the list. So, what’s a knitter to do? Get in touch, of course! Steve was kind enough to send along some email correspondence that I will share with you below. But first, please enjoy these images courtesy of Woolly Thoughts. And let us know what inspires you in the comments below!


If you would like to see Steve and Pat’s illusion knits, you MUST check out their videos of the knitted objects available here.

What is your background, both mathematical and knit-related?
My wife and I wrote our first book together long before we were married and consequently retain our different surnames, she is Pat Ashforth and I am Steve Plummer. Together we make up the Woolly Thoughts design team. Pat is trained in maths and English and I am trained in maths and art. We have both been mathematics teachers of 11 to 16 year olds and met, almost twenty five years ago, in a school in Luton, England. We are both geometers rather than algebraists and have a keen interest in shapes and how they fit together and in answering mathematical questions through geometric means. Pat was also a prolific knitter but did not follow traditional knitting patterns and together we developed ideas about fitting together mathematically correct garter stitch shapes to form garments. When I left the school, to become a Head of Mathematics, we decided we had enough ideas to put them together in our first book Woolly Thoughts and I taught myself to knit, from Pat’s written instructions, so that I had enough understanding of the craft to illustrate those written instructions. The ideas in this book were noted by the Brown Sheep yarn company in America who asked us to create an afghan for them. In creating this afghan we found that the larger scale we were working to allowed us to put far more mathematical ideas into a wall hanging than we had previously been able to put into a garment. We have rarely, since that time, again looked at producing knitted garments and have become best known for our design and production of large scale knitted or crocheted mathematical wall hangings initially created for use within our mathematics classrooms to engender discussion, particularly with children who had poor English skills. We even have a number of our pieces of work in The Science Museum in London as part of their mathematical collection.

Since we retired from teaching we spend much of our time seeking mathematical ideas to develop as designs for wall hangings or artefacts and continuing to question our design process. Part of this questioning led Pat to look at shadow knitting, or illusion knitting, and we, very quickly, formed the opinion that explanations and charting processes for this technique forced the position where only very basic, almost primitive, images could be created. Our inquisitive nature, love of designing and mathematical grasp of charting and visualisation in three dimensions along with our abhorrence of badly written or planned patterns led us to experiment with and develop the charting process. We used our experience of writing knitting patterns for none knitters to provide charts and instructions for illusion knitting that could be used effectively by all no matter what their experience of knitting had previously been.

So, what exactly is illusion knitting, and how does it work?
Illusion knitting relies on the fact that ridges of garter stitch and ridges of stocking stitch in knitting have different properties. Garter stitch ridges stand forward further than stocking stitch and this allows you to create a design that changes its appearance dependent on the angle of viewing. In illusion knitting two colours of yarn are used to create alternate ridges of knitting, a dark coloured ridge followed by a light coloured ridge. Areas of dark or light can be brought into the foreground, when the piece is viewed at an angle, by using garter stitch for that particular part of a ridge and stocking stitch for that portion of the preceding ridge. When the piece is viewed from directly in front only stripes of colour should be seen. Our maths and my maths/art background allowed us to develop the charting process for this technique to the point where I can create far more complex images than have previously been possible, incorporating not just areas of dark and light but also areas of various levels of intermediate shading.

How have you developed your illusion knits since you started?
Our developing of the charting process has provided a major breakthrough in the production of illusion knits in that it is now possible to create pieces that are not simply silhouettes.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process of turning an image into a chart?
To create a complex illusion knit I, first of all, decide on an image to use. The smallest detail that I want to show within this image must be, at least, one stitch across and this smallest detail therefore determines the scale of the completed piece. After determining the scale I put a square grid over the image, each square on the grid representing one stitch and each row of squares representing one row of knitting. I now “look through” the grid and decide on areas of dark or light that I need to see and colour in squares on the grid in the appropriate dark or light colour. When I have completed this process all coloured in squares are knit stitches and all squares that are not coloured are purled stitches when I come to knitting the piece. I do use a computer to draw these charts on, but it is very important to note that it is not the computer that draws the charts. It would be possible to draw the charts by hand using tracing paper but a computer drawing package that allows different layers to be created and then turned off or on is far more convenient for this process.

Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
Many of the people who I teach to create their own illusion knits choose images that are special to them. The image might be of a child, a parent or a favoured pet. All of these images will have a strong personal relevance but may not have particular relevance to others. For display purposes I tend to look for images that are very recognisable to a wide audience so famous paintings or people provide me with my inspiration. The Mona Lisa, the works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti or images of Albert Einstein or The Beatles are good examples of the type of image I look for.

What is the most challenging part of creating an illusion knit?
The charting of a piece is by far the most challenging part of the process. It takes perseverance, time and an amount of “three dimensional awareness.” Each chart takes me, on average, about 100 hours to produce and I will test knit the piece as I go, refining the chart as necessary to ensure that the completed piece does exactly what I want it to do. The hand knitting itself will again take me, on average, about another 100 hours but this is partly because I knit rather slowly. The knitting itself uses only the most basic stitches to create garter stitch or stocking stitch ridges so even though the knitting itself, purely because of the size of most of the pieces, takes an extended amount of time it is by far the easiest part of the process and can be accomplished with success by even the most novice of knitters.

How can illusion knitting be integrated into other types of knitting, such as garments or accessories?
It is likely that illusion knitting has developed from the use of the varying heights of garter stitch and stocking stitch ridges to provide a change of texture on the surface of a garment and this change of texture itself providing a change of colour or shading as the garment moves in front of you. We tend to call this shadow knitting, there is no evidence of an actual image. For an illusion knit image to be used on a garment, then, the ridges of knitting need to be vertical if the image is to be viewed from the side. The ridges of knitting for an illusion panel would therefore not be in the traditional direction of such ridges which would tend to be horizontal. Using an illusion knit within a garment therefore simply requires a little more planning. Scale is also a problem with illusion knits. The smallest detail you wish to show needs to be, at least, one stitch across. This smallest detail therefore determines the size in stitches of the completed piece. If this size happens to be bigger than you wish for incorporation into a garment then that illusion becomes impossible.

Tell us about some of the exhibitions you’ve been involved with.
We do have work in the Science Museum in London as part of their mathematical collect, a piece at Puzzling World in Wanaka, New Zealand and many pieces in exhibits at Ripleys Entertainment “Believe It Or Not” venues around the world. For us though this remains a hobby and we tend not to self-promote on a serious scale. Exhibitions of our work therefore tend to be small in scale and restricted to local libraries and galleries.

Do you have a favorite illusion knit that you’ve created?
The work of the Pre-Raphaelites has always inspired me. The faces, expressions and poses tend to lend themselves well to this illusion knit process. My favourite illusion knit design has always been one that I based on the piece “Proserpine” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Where do you think your passion for illusion knitting will take you in the future?
As well as continuing to create my own complex illusion knit wall hangings I spend much of my time helping others to create their own illusion knit designs from images that are special to them. This broadcasting of the process via the internet is what I would like to develop further in the future, creating videos and tutorials to help people succeed with their own designs.

How can people find out more about illusion knitting and Woolly Thoughts?
Further insights into and photographs of our mathematical work can be found by following this link to our Woolly Thoughts web-site…


…and on our illusion knitting here.


The patterns for all of our pieces can be found by accessing the order form from the Woolly Thoughts web-site.

* * *

Thanks so much Steve!

I love meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are an indie dyer, a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)

Posted in afghan, blanket, community, illusion knitting, interview, knitting, knitting math, patterns, shadow knitting, unexpected, Wooly Thoughts | 4 Comments

Maker Feature: MiddleMist Makes

Hello Dear Fiber Folk! I am happy to have a few blogspots to share with you through November! In the midst of the cold and the dark, we’ll have some true beauty to enjoy! First up is a maker I found and admired on Instagram for a long time. Emma Amy Jane Wall is the creative mind behind MiddleMist Makes–a wonderfully whimsical felt artist from the UK. I fell in love with her wee hedgehogs–which are a lovely charity project, as it turns out! And her felt artwork comes to life on her wooly canvases. So much beauty! I’ll let Emma take it from here: she was generous enough to answer some questions and send some cute-as-pie photos of her artwork. Check out her site and her craftiness and you will see the love that goes into each piece 🙂 ❤



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Where did the inspiration for MiddleMist Makes come from?
The first time I picked up a felting needle was back in 2014 as a means of a creative outlet during those first few months of becoming a mum. I was instantly hooked, and fascinated by the endless possibilities that come from a needle and a handful of wool. My style of felting is greatly influenced by a love for nature and its wildlife.

What has been your favorite creation to date?
My favourite is definitely the hedgehog brooches, they are such a pleasure to create, and a portion of the profits go towards rehabilitating hedgehogs who are doing poorly. I also enjoy making Unicorn brooches and styling their manes with beautifully coloured wools.

Who are your biggest crafting influences/inspirations?
I hugely admire all artists and creatives, it’s a difficult thing putting your work out there as we persistently pour our hearts into our craft. I am particularly drawn to wildlife photographers and whimsical water colour artists, their eye for tiny details is truly inspirational.

Can you tell us a little more about the Help a Hedgehog Project?
I come from a family of Hedgehog lovers, and I can remember clearly rescuing many from our local area as a child. I definitely have a soft spot for them.

After hearing that the hedgehogs are dramatically disappearing from our countryside with numbers thought to be less than one million left in the UK, I really wanted to help.

I’ve designed special little Hedgehog Brooches, with five pounds from each sale going towards the care and equipment needed to rehabilitate the growing number of poorly Hedgehogs coming into the care of the Help a Hedgehog Hospital in Gloucestershire.

I am extremely pleased to say that so far, I have raised £250 for them, with the hope to raise much more.

Any advice for new needle felters?
Stick with it, it takes a lot of patience and practice, and don’t be afraid to experiment and explore your own style and methods of needle felting.

Where can folks find your shop? or find out more about you?
You can find my little brooches and wool paintings on my website www.middlemistmakes.co.uk and I am also on Etsy.

What’s new on the horizon for your shop?
Middlemist Makes is still very much a work in progress, I am continually developing new design ideas, and exploring new ways of expressing my love for nature, animals and colour.

There will of course be new jewellery collections released next year. I will also be focusing a lot more on my wool paintings, and possibly pet portraits.

I also have something exciting to announce in February 2018!

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* * *

Thanks so much Emma!

I love meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are an indie dyer, a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)


Posted in community, felting, fiber art, fiber artist, hedgehogs, inspiration, interview, maker, needle felting, unicorns | Leave a comment