The Countdown is on …

Well, it’s only a few weeks to go now for the first episode of It Takes Balls To Knit – The Show to be released. As a matter of fact, I was just on the Sunshine Coast in beautiful Pender Harbour filming a segment for Dyeing To Knit You with Jenna Valley of Everlea Yarn! We had a great time filming and I learned a lot!! So much so, that I’ll be doing a return trip soon to film a second and possibly third segment. Turns out Indigo dyeing is an entirely different process to acid or natural dyeing! Can’t wait!

Jenna Valley of Everlea Yarn and I, in beautiful Pender Harbour!

Not only is Jenna the force behind Everlea Yarn, she started (and still maintains) Vancouver Yarn, a phenomenal resource for who’s who and what’s happening in the Vancouver knitting scene! She’s been keeping everyone connected here for over 10 years!! Make sure you tune in to see her telling you all about natural dyeing on the show and help support her in her foray into this area of the knitting world!

In regards to the show, I had a giveaway of a Stitchip® from my friends at XRX Publishing – the same great people that bring you the Stitches events every year. I’d like to announce the winner – Risa!! An e-mail has been sent out to her and I’ll update everyone on which of the 6 Stitchips she chose. Risa was eligible for the draw because she subscribed to this website to help support the production of the show. There will be many more subscriber giveaways in the future. I have 5 more Stitchips, and Jimmy Beans Wool has confirmed they’ve already sent some SmartStix that will be passed on to someone in the future (after a review on the show)! If you’d like to get in on the action AND show your support, please subscribe and help me get the show to you. Even if it’s just $1/month, every little bit helps and is greatly appreciated.

There’s one more little thing I’d like to ask you for with regards to the show. I’d like to make this show as interactive as possible, and several of the segments will rely on your feedback and participation. I’d like to start prepping some of those right now, with a little help from you of course! I need your input/feedback for the following segments in the show …

Show Us Your Knits … Do you have any fabulous knitwear that you made that you’re particularly proud and/or fond of? If you’d like it to be featured in the show, please send some pictures (being modelled by a person would be great) or even a short video. Include all information that may be relevant (yarn, special techniques, pattern name, designer, etc) in whichever format is easiest for you.
Knitflix … One of our show segments will focus on television shows and/or movies that feature/mention knitting. Are there any that you’ve seen that fit the bill? Just to name a few so you get the idea
Demolition Man : remember when Sly knits the sweater for Sandra while catching up on what he missed while in the freezer?,
Pushing Up Daisies : Chi’s character is a closet knitter of socks!,
Outlander : I’m sure you’ve noticed all the knitted pieces, and now we know Jamie’s character knows how to knit,
Gotham : young Bruce and Alfred sport some great knitted sweaters throughout the series,
Once Upon A Time : filmed here in Vancouver it’s loaded with knitting,
Elementary : I actually have two patterns on this site reverse engineered from the great stuff Joan wears in Season 1,
and others. Keep your eyes peeled and if you see/hear of one, drop us a quick note telling us the specifics (show, episode, how knitting is featured, etc).
Knitter Spotlight … Would YOU like to be on the show? Do you know someone who should be? Send us the details telling us who and why? We’ll contact you/them and have a short vetting process to see if we can make it happen! We really want to make this show about the entire scope of knitting, so we want to be entirely inclusive of all aspects of the craft, and all the people that participate in it.
Event Spotlight … Somewhere around the globe, I’m fairly certain there is an event going on every weekend in the knitting world. If you’re someone that puts on one of these events, or if you know of one, big or small, please let us know about it. We’re working on putting together a list of the events going on globally and need your help to do it. again, any information you can provide – event name, location, contact person, dates, # years running, website, etc – would be great! We’ll add it to our growing list and put it on out events page. We’ll have an Events Segment in the show so you never know. Your event may be in it one day!!

If you have any of the above information for us, you can send it to

itbtkshow@gmail.com

We appreciate all submission and look forward to including you in this!

Hugzzz 😎

It’s Back!!

… with a little help from you, that is! Yes, you!

This was 5 years ago …

And now, I’d like to bring this back. As a matter of fact, I’ve already started creating content for the show, and it’s return is slated for early April! If you haven’t seen this before, please feel free to watch the Pilot episode from 5 years ago to get caught up and see what I’m talking about.

Back then, I ran out of funding 10 episodes in. What made this unfortunate was the fact that the show was just starting to get traction and we had lots of great content to bring you. Well, no good dream ever dies, and I’m glad to say this one didn’t! As a matter of fact, I think the timing is even more essential this time around and I hope to bring you great content from around the world every week to keep you informed and entertained!

In order to do this however, I’m going to need your help. While the cost of production has been reduced thanks to available technology, it’s still a massive burden to bring a show like this to you every week. As a result, I’m soliciting your help via subscriptions to this website. You may notice the extra menu items in the header of this website. Those are tabs for you to subscribe to this website and help me bring you the interesting and informative content that’s out there. If you haven’t already registered, and want to do so, simply click on the Register tab, and select the level you’re willing to subscribe at. When you click on the level you want, you’ll see the benefits of that level and a PayPal checkout button to process your payment. It is not necessary to have a PayPal account to pay, as you can use your credit card.

I know you have a lot of questions, so I’ve prepared a short little Q&A to answer some of the more obvious ones you may have. Please feel free to contact me if you have any others.

Q: When will I see the benefits of subscribing?
A:  Immediately! Membership at all levels includes a % discount on anything on this site. You will get the discount for the level you’re at applied to any on site purchases. Within the week I will be releasing 3 new patterns that you will get a discount on with your registration! This discount is on top of any other promotion or sale price. More benefits will be available on a regular basis and once the show is launched.

Q: I’m already a member of the Close Knit Community on this website. Is this the same thing?
A: No. The Close Knit Community is a way that I can contact people who have joined via e-mail. It is a free group. This a way that you can be a Patron to my cause of connecting the world through knitting and sharing our stories. Much the same way that Shakespeare had Patrons to allow him to create his works, I am asking you to assist me in bringing the world of knitting to everyone. (No, I’m not saying I’m Skakespeare–we’re just in a similar situation).

Q: If I don’t subscribe, will I still be able to view your website?
A: Yes! The website will remain and there will still be regular posts available to all–subscribers and non-subscribers. There will periodically be posts for subscribers only, with information on new benefits, or contests/giveaways that only they are eligible for.

Q: What will you be giving away?
A: All sorts of things! Since the segments of the show will cover all aspects of knitting, I will be working with all sorts of people connected with the knitting world. Most of them have already agreed to donate swag for me to give away! It’s a win/win as they get the promotion, and you get the swag! Anything from yarn (who doesn’t love yarn?) to books, needles, event passes, and more!!

Q: Will I be able to get any giveaways if I don’t subscribe!
A: Yes! There will always be giveaways available to everyone, but there will often be giveaways that are available to subscribers only.

Q: Isn’t this crowdfunding? Why don’t you use Patreon or Kickstarter?
A: Yes, it is. I am relying entirely on your generosity in order to see this project to fruition. In return, I will not only bring you information and entertainment I think you want (you’ll also have the opportunity to tell me what you want to see), I will work with the very people I inform you about to give you samples of their products.
I have chosen this platform because more of your money actually goes to the cause you’re supporting. Most crowdfunding platforms retain up to 10% or more of all monies collected. This way, only 3% is retained, meaning 97% of it goes towards helping create the content you desire.

Q: What if I don’t like the show? Can I cancel my subscription?
A: Yes! I’ll be sorry to see you go, and will try to do everything in my power to ensure you don’t leave (create great content and make this extremely interactive), but if you choose to leave, you may do so at any time. If you chose the Wool membership, any remaining FULL months in your annual term will be refunded. All other subscriptions are billed monthly, and partial months are non-refundable.

Okay, I think that answers the pertinent questions for now. Feel free to ask any others either in the comments below, or by sending me an e-mail directly to mrhugzzz@gmail.com.

Lastly, I’d like to leave you with this if you’re thinking about Subscribing to this website to help me get this show going. If you’re not sure which level to subscribe to, look at them this way …

If I’m the kind of person you could see yourself …

Buying a lunch once a year, Subscribe at Wool
Buying a coffee once a month, Subscribe at Alpaca
Buying a latte once a month, Subscribe at Silk
Buying a lunch once a month, Subscribe at Cashmere
Buying a dinner once a month, Subscribe at Qiviut


By donating here, you’ll help me keep my waistline in check! 😉

Regardless of what level you subscribe at, your support is invaluable and greatly appreciated!

Huge hugzzz 😎

Subscribe t our site and help revive It Takes balls To Knit–The Show! Great new content, contests, and giveaways!

Racism in our Close Knit Community?

If you’re a knitter and you have even 1 outlet to Social Media, I’m sure you’ve heard of the current discussion relating to racism in the fibre arts community. I know racism is a strong word, and there’s also diversity and other more subtle words being used, but from experience, it has been seen that unless something is shockingly graphic, it tends to be ignored. So how did we come to this? I mean, aren’t knitters and the fibre arts community as a whole, the most inclusive group of people out there?

I like to think so. Unfortunately, that may be navieté speaking. If you think about it though, it’s not surprising. Regardless of the group, it is still comprised by human beings. And human beings are flawed. So yes, there will be problems associated with being human beings (racism for one), in any group, including (if not especially), the fibre arts community. We are arguably the most diverse and inclusive group out there – with people from every demographic imaginable, from both sexes and almost any age range. In my opinion the question is not whether or not racism exists, but rather, how do we address it and minimize it to have the least possible effect in our beloved community. I’ll return to this in a minute.

You’d think that being a black male in the knitting world, that I’d have lots of stories and this would be an easy topic for me to write about. In actuality however, it’s the exact opposite. Yes, I’m a black male in a predominantly white female industry, but believe it or not, I have yet to experience racism as a result. Has it been there? Perhaps, and I am not trying to make light of the struggles of anyone who has experienced it or had to deal with it directly. I, myself, however, am not one of those people.

Have I experienced discrimination in the knitting community because of being a black male? Absolutely, even today, it still happens. Have I experienced racism in other areas of my life? Absolutely! And from the unlikeliest of sources as well. I am actually embarrassed to say however, that until a very good friend of mine (a black female) pointed me to an article by Julia Farewell-Clay, https://bit.ly/2SSwagZ, I was blissfully unaware of the plight of so many in our beloved Close Knit Community. Julia herself, is a “privileged white woman” (her words) in the industry. It was her enlightening article regarding the existence of racism (there’s that word again) in the knitting community that opened my eyes. I strongly suggest you read this article if you have not yet done so!

I have been blessed and very fortunate for being so accepted into this community that I love. Almost everyone I meet becomes a friend, with knitting providing the instant connection. Quite often, after a little interaction, we find that we have so much more in common than our love of knitting. I have even been lucky enough to be welcomed by two of the most influential people in the industry today, and truly, I am humbled because to this day I don’t know why. I accept it with what modesty I can muster and appreciate their support. Yes, I’m talking about you two, Trisha and Ben – thank you.

So you can imagine my embarrassment when I realize that it hasn’t been that way for everyone – and because of racism, no less! I have honestly been thinking about this since I discovered the article in November, and feel it is time to step up and do what little I can. If that sounds narcissistic, my apologies. I don’t think I can simply wave a magic wand and solve this problem, but I do know that there are some that listen to some of the things I say, and if I can inspire a few to raise their voices, maybe we can help this wave along and influence the decisions we all make every day.

So what little can I do? While I have no direct experience of racism in the knitting community, I have far too much experience of it elsewhere in my life. It’s not a comfortable feeling. It’s actually in my top 3 of worst possible feelings to experience. If I every experienced it in a community I loved as much as this one, I simply don’t know how I would react. I would hope I would have the ability to deal with it with dignity, professionalism, and caution. And I suppose that is my answer to the question I posed above regarding how to address it and minimize it.

It is important to call out the person or persons that are violating your right to be who you are, regardless of race. It is important however, to do so in a just manner. If it is at all possible, one on one discussions (not confrontations), should be sought out. If not, perhaps bringing light to the practices of that person or persons through the media. In this day and age of Social Media, we have to be extremely careful however, as things can go viral all too quickly, and sometimes unjustly and unnecessarily.

Part of the discussion that I have heard, is that there is misrepresentation in the industry against certain people based on race. Again, while this has not been my experience in this industry, it has been in others. What can we do? I don’t have the answers, sorry. I do know awareness helps, and continuing perseverance, transparency, and accountability will aid in reducing the occurrences of these incidents. Is that enough? I don’t know. All we can do is try and see.

In this particular instance however, I would like to do 2 things. The first is call to those that feel they are victims of racism in this particular area – exclusion based on race – to submit your bodies of work through all means necessary. If you feel a particular magazine or website is not showcasing your designs or article submissions based on race, submit them elsewhere and get others to do the same. If 1 person submits a design, article, or even retail booth for inclusion in a magazine, show, or other and gets denied, it is difficult to say this is based on race. If 50 do so however, and the representation is still predominantly privileged white women, then there is a basis for argument and subsequent discussion.

The second thing I would like to do is caution against over reacting. Often, when something like this occurs, and there is enough of an uprising, the pendulum swings all the way the other way. We need to monitor the reactions on both sides. Many of you are familiar with Ravelry, and they have started a discussion thread on this board … https://bit.ly/2SXDQie . This will help serve as a place for moderated open discussion on this issue.

I personally will try and educate myself on this issue and help through further education where I can. I will also use whatever influence I have to help garner fairness in this industry. I don’t want to downplay this issue by saying it is only the work of a minority of individuals, but I am sure that on a whole this is the most inclusive community I have ever belonged to. I truly hope that we can establish a protocol for dealing with occurrences of this so that they are the exception, and not the rule.

In the end it is up to all of us to police this (and other) issues that threaten our community. I hope that we can all consider the consequences of our actions going forward.

Hugzzz 😎

WOOLLINN!!

#youshouldhavebeenthere If you didn’t make it to Woollinn this year, the above hashtag sums it up in one (okay, technically 5) word! I’m interrupting my regular postings to bring you this quick review of an absolutely stupendous event, especially for a first year! I would have to say the theme of the event this year was #colour!! It was everywhere, vibrant, and saturated. Here is a link to a walk through I did on Facebook. Unfortunately, because of the size of it, it didn’t upload in HD. 🙁

Woollinn Walkthrough

There was an great list of instructors teaching a variety of classes from the Friday – Sunday and you had the marketplace open Friday and Saturday! There was also a little shinding on the Saturday with dinner, dancing, and of course, karaoke. I couldn’t believe that @JulieknitsinParis was actually dancing while knitting! Check this out!

JulieKnitsinParis

Needless to say, there will be reviews upcoming, but I had a horrible time posting anything at all in Ireland, as the wi-fi just didn’t seem to want to work with my computer. So I’ll leave you with some pictures as a teaser for now, and after I get caught up with Scotland, I’ll come back to this! This is just a snipit of the fun that was had this weekend! I have loads more photos (on my DSLR) that I’ll get to when I get home and lots of stories to tell you! I’ve barely mentioned the instructors and the great job done by This is Knit in getting this put together! I definitely plan on coming back next year!! Huge hugzzz 😎

Countess Ablaze!

As you may know, I am currently spending 2 months traveling through the UK and Europe. There are a few reasons for the trip, but among the primary ones are to visit family members and friends that I have not met or seen in ages, and to explore the knitting culture firsthand on the “other side of the pond”! I recently got a chance to do the latter by visiting a yarn store in Manchester, England – Countess Ablaze!

I’ve been visiting my aunt Jem for the last week since arriving in the UK, and we went into the city to see this yarn store. I found it through Google which is a good thing as my aunt was unaware of its presence. Ironically, we had visited a haberdashery a few days prior that was less than 2 minutes away! Anyway, given the lack of yarn shops in Manchester (so unlike Vancouver, BC), I was thrilled to find this gem of a shop right in the downtown core! I quickly found out however, that it’s a yarn dyeing studio, not a typical yarn shop.

If you look closely you’ll see Countess and I standing in the window. Just a heads up, when you arrive you’ll have to ring the bell to get someone to let you in. That’s because there are 3 floors to this studio! The first is the main retail space. The second is a combined show room and partial workspace where shipments are sorted and other packages put together. The third floor is exclusively staff and where the dyeing takes place. Countess is often up there working her magic! I say magic because from when you first step into the studio you feel like you’ve walked into a rainbow! Or you’re walking over the Bifrost into the magical realm of Asgard! I have been in many a yarn shop and seen many displays but the sheer magnitude of colour in this one is astounding!

sock yarn wall

As a custom dyer, Countess has her own brand of sock yarn and fingering weight yarn. There is also a sign warning you that the names of the colourways may offend your sensibilities – how polite considering that is also says, “Oh well”! This character directly reflects that of Countess and she is brashly unapologetic. She has set out to do things differently, and she has succeeded beyond expectations!

I wasn’t surprised to see books and accessories in the studio, but again, not all the usual suspects. She has a great collection of books and needles that aren’t everywhere else. It just adds to the charm and character of the studio. I continued my journey to the second floor and was pleasantly surprised at the great combination of functionality and practicality of the space. Bright and colourful, it just envelops you in warmth. There is a fabulous courtyard which unfortunately is restricted to the store owners along the street, but the windows along the wall allow a tremendous amount of sunlight to flood the displays. Perfect for lighting the brilliant colour and the table where many a knitter has sat and worked happily, whether in the studio to get some help/instruction on a project, or as a participant in the knitting group meetings held on Saturdays! I plan to attend the one on June 23rd so I hope to see you there. Here’s a little peek into more of the colours and yarns in the store.

If this has whetted your appetite to visit the studio, I am glad and urge you to do so! If you’re unable to visit I recommend you check out COUNTESS ABLAZE and join her group the Antisocials! They’re quite friendly (despite the name, lol) and you’ll get some great insight into the Countess as well as firsthand news about upcoming specials!

Hugzzz 😎