(Self Portrait, Sahara Briscoe)

Sahara Briscoe is an internationally renowned textile developer and fabricator. For close to three decades, Sahara has engaged in a wide spectrum of textile-related activities from curating fiber art shows to costume design for theater, product development for fashion houses, plus writing about art fabrics for magazines and her own blog. Commissioned textiles, developed and produced by Sahara, have been shown at the 2010 Shanghai World's Fair, the Stedelijk Museum, The Netherlands and in galleries in New York, Dublin, London, Amsterdam and Sweden. This February, we requested that some of our respected local artists contribute to the Knitty City blog and tell us about how their combined interests and talents have influenced their current work. This is Sahara's answer to our question.  

What IF?

A lot of folks believe that "true creativity" is a form of magic: A supernatural power that a divine ancestor has bestowed upon you. A force that can be called up at whim and SHAZAM––a beautiful object appears. It is not. While I have certainly felt the power, it wasn't brought forth by magic, but by asking a magical question––what if?


As the descendent of generations of custom dressmakers and tailors, spanning from New Orleans to Harlem, drawing and sewing was the skill set I inherited. Back then, it was favorably looked upon as respectable employment, or, even better, a business that provided the more fashionable members of the local community  with personal style, not obtained by shopping "downtown". I was fine with my family's trajectory for me until middle school. I had a vision, exposing me to my first what if moment.

(Photo: Shishi Yiming Dyeing & Weaving Co., Ltd.)

Walking home from school in the Bronx on a warm afternoon, I turned along a block of textile manufacturers and small factories. Many had their windows or garage type doors open for air. It was a dye house that caught my attention. There were rows of giant pressure cookers (kettles). Above each, was a circular rack containing many fat cones of natural-colored yarn. A timer sounded and the cones descended, then the lids closed. I was transfixed; punishment for being late wasn't gonna stop me from seeing this show! Some minutes later, another timer sounded. The lids of the pressure cookers opened and the cones ascended in a bevy of spectacular colors! After that moment, the question became, what if––I could do that?


Embracing the myriad answers and influences to this question has since led me down a sometimes studious, sometimes serendipitous road that has included the following: formal training (from high school to college) in sewing, design, couture techniques and art,  frustrating garment jobs, and success at selling my accessories to Upper West Side boutiques, like Lynn Dell's Off Broadway.

(Photos from left: Off Broadway Boutique; Lynn Dell)

Asking another "what if" question landed me a job at School Products, where I learned machine knitting, hand-knitting, weaving, and spinning under the Kleins, the shop's influential owners at the time. I discovered that hand knitting is a supernatural power—it only requires needles, yarn and math, a process far less expensive than clothing design. Machine knitting can create fabrics both shaped or flat that can be cut and sewn. Weaving is an act that can produce fabric with or without using a loom: totally supernatural! And hand-spinning? Well, without fiber, there IS NO fashion!

From left: Sahara Briscoe (fire escape spinning in the Bronx); machine knitting; multi-textured hand-woven scarf

What started out as home skills––sewing and crochet––became joined by numerous strands of fiber-related crafts: machine knitting, embroidery, hand-knitting, weaving, spinning, printing, dyeing, fulling, writing words, photography and technology. These crafts and their mediums, their visual influences and influencers (of which there have been many) are flexible strands of knowledge that allow me to arrange and form large scale textiles that have been commissioned from my studio, now eight years old.

How Now

Knitty City was central to my greatest "what-if" moment of all. When internationally renowned artist Jennifer Tee needed a textile collaborator, the store referred her to me. Her series of commissions were pivotal to the growth of my creative identity. These helped to formalize my studio and allowed me to branch out, using the full gamut of my powers to produce a diverse array of projects united by the use of textiles.

"Gridding Sentences," Sculpture/performance piece; The Stedelijk Museum, The Netherlands.

From left. "And On The Seventh Day, They Rested" quilted pillow; "Modern Shunga" a Japanese inspired pillow book for a wedding gift, private commission. 

"Now" Now

A recent project, The Mondo Bouclé Cowl Kit,  distills a number of techniques into a simple project. Together, in a recycled bedding container, are a hand-spun, complex bouclé paired with a smooth, sport weight Shetland yarn. Both are richly dyed, and inspired by photos of New York City landscapes. A clearly written pattern and ring stitch markers complete the package.

I create my projects to be easy, creative pick-me-ups that show off big results. This kit was the answer to what if  I combine a beautiful, hand dyed and spun yarn, with an easy technique? Can I produce an elegant, luxurious cowl  that can be  knitted over a weekend? It worked,  and it answered my question.  I hope you enjoy the answer, as well. 

Please note:  To find out more about the current  availability of these kits, please contact Sahara directly at: We also have it on good authority that more kits will be available at Knitty City very soon.  Not surprisingly, the original collection sold out quickly!












Mari Tobita

Mari Tobita with one of her designs at TNNA

Mari Tobita with one of her designs at TNNA

I first heard about Mari Tobita from Pearl Chin - a source of many good things, as we who know and love Knitty City are aware. She suggested that the readers of our blog might like to learn about knitters who have talents that complement their love of fiber arts, and went on to tell me about Mari Tobita. Mari is a gifted knitwear designer whose work is featured in a variety of knitting magazines and on Ravelry. Here are a few examples of her designs.  Many more can be seen on her page. Mari particularly cited Shirley Paden as one of her treasured mentors in the art of knitting and design.

Photo credits: Left to right (upper): Soho Publishing; Left to right (lower):Knit Simple Spring/Summer 2012, photo by Paul Amato for; Sixth&Spring Books

While I loved her knit patterns, I wanted to know  more about Mari and her work on the entertainment front. On   her Facebook page she shares her fascination and involvement with film and animation. She often works as a behind-the-scenes artist on projects in production. One of her recent jobs found her working on the animation feature:"Kubo and the Two Strings".  To date, the film has garnered  19 awards, and it has been nominated for 2 Academy Awards, one for special effects and one for best animation feature.

Winner of over 19 awards & nominated for two Oscars  

Winner of over 19 awards & nominated for two Oscars  

I contacted Mari recently, and had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about how she came to be involved. She had some interesting  things to tell us about her work and her creative passion - one and the same thing.

Mari is part of a talented group that works in a specialized atmosphere, and while all are integral to the finished product, many work behind the scenes to make it come alive.  An animated  film such as "Kubo"  takes thousands of hours of production and attention to detail that can only be accomplished by those who have the patience and dedication to fine tune the smallest aspect of a project. Usually, they work under strict security so the artists are not allowed to take pictures of their work or even have cameras on hand.  When I asked her about her contribution to the effort, she was quick to explain that while her work was needed, it is not obvious on screen. It's her support to minute details that adds to the fine finished product  that one sees in the background in the film. She also developed some of the mock-ups that enable individual departments to create the special effects and features that have made this animation so worthy of notice and award.

We were curious to learn about her education and training since her work is so specialized. Mari attended Hokkaido University of Education where she was an  Art major,  as well as The Art Students League of New York. On the job experience has also contributed to her ongoing growth as an artist. Considering the rapid pace of technology, it's obvious that she's an adept learner. While she modestly stressed the fact that her work is not specifically seen within the film, we thought it would be neat to show you a trailer from the work, where you will see the results of her collaborative efforts.

Mari was kind enough to send me some additional pictures of origami birds and a spider that were influences for the wings and characters that made it into the film. She often employs origami while working on projects, and I also discovered that she was a puppet maker with the Jim Henson Company, once upon  time. Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

Photo Credit for above images:  Two Strings LLC

It's obvious that her love of multiple crafts have led her to find expression in many forms.  As knitters, we are grateful she's part of our crowd. As film goers and enthusiasts, we also benefit from her abilities. I was fortunate enough to see "Kubo and the Two Strings".  I did so because I knew of Mari's involvement. It's a magical delight!  






To say that Jessie Ksanznak is multi-talented is an understatement. Jessie is the designer and dyer behind Yarn Over New York. When not creating in her Harlem-based home-studio, Jessie travels the world as a stage manager for dance, circus, events and television. Her designs have been published in various knitting books, magazines and collections including Garter Stitch Revival by Interweave Knits, Rockin’ Sock Club 2015 and 2016 by Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Sweet Georgia Yarn, Knit Now magazine and Knittin’ Little. 

We were not surprised to learn that she is a good writer and conceptual thinker, as well, so we asked her to be this week's Guest Blogger.  We were thrilled  when she accepted.

Inspiration in Knitting Design


Did you go to Vogue Knitting Live in early January? I did and it was fantastic. I’ve been to fiber trade shows before, but this one was special. The knitted and crochet artwork that adorned the halls, stage and booths was amazing. Brilliant artists and designers found inspiration from literature, nature and geometry and, through their skills, transformed these visions into spectacular works of art and fashion.

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Not everyone needs to make a life-size Queen Bee like Gina Rose Gallina or a Miniature Wonderland like Anna Hrachovec of MochiMochiLand. However, you can follow the exact same process and take your creative abilities to the next level in your own crafting. 

Knitters, crocheters, spinners and weavers can discover their own spark of inspiration and connect with the fiber and tools available to create a unique finished object. Let me tell you the story of my Fioritura Shawl and its journey from spark of idea to stunning wearable art.  

Last summer, Pom Pom Quarterly put out a call for submissions for their Spring 2017 issue.  I was blown away by the colors and textures of the floral and anthropoid images in their mood board, and I simply fell in love.


                                                                                                                  Pom Pom’s mood board

                                                                                                                  Pom Pom’s mood board


The idea for my Fioritura Shawl was born!


To transition from idea and images to a concrete knitted shawl, I needed to find the appropriate selection of stitch work, shaping, color and texture. I knew that I wanted to combine a selection of stitches to create a light and airy shawlette that would wrap the wearer in that feeling of spring’s potential for new growth.

I originally selected a skein of RainCityKnits sock yarn in the color Electric Coral.  The glowing peach shade of this yarn screams spring to me.  The fingering weight, plied wool yarn has lovely stitch definition and is light enough to create a lacey shawl.  The color and texture of this yarn can show off the rich textures and lace stitches I wanted to include in the design.

I used a stitch dictionary and the internet to find a mix of textured solid and lacey open stitch patterns to capture the feeling of the mood board.


After sample knitting, test knitting and tech editing, I had a design ready to send to the magazine. 

I was so proud of the  design and was sure the magazine would love it too! Unfortunately, they decided not to select my proposal. Knowing that I could turn disappointment into success, I needed to revisit the chain of inspiration: 


The feedback loop of getting rejected by the magazine presented me with an opportunity to push my creativity to the next level. I was given the chance to make the shawl better and create a bigger pay-off for my hard work. I was very happy with the shaping and patterning, so I reconsidered the yarn. 

Speckles and sparkles are both very trendy right now and are a great way to accentuate a variety of stitches in knitted fabric. I decided to re-knit the shawl in my own Yarn Over New York "Broadway". It is fingering weight, and plied yarn Stellina, with an irresistible glimmer. I dyed up a batch of my rainbow-speckled tonal blue colorway “Care Bear Stare” and got to work.

Create the perfect pairing of yarn and design by following the process of SPARK-CONNECT-CREATE.

Create the perfect pairing of yarn and design by following the process of SPARK-CONNECT-CREATE.


You can use this simple loop of SPARK-CONNECT-CREATE in your crafting and art. Remember that you can find inspiration anywhere. Look to nature and nature, arts and literature and entertainment. Listen to your yarn.  Embrace the community and share your ideas with your fellow crafters. It is amazing how inspiration can spread from person to person and create a whole new level in creativity. Don’t be afraid. And ... remember that there is no failure. There are simply opportunities to follow this inspiration cycle and find a new clearer direction.

I hope to see many of you at my Young Designer workshop at Knitty City on March 2, from 6;00-8:00PM.  I will be exploring Inspiration in Knitting Design. I would LOVE to hear your ideas and questions. Let’s work together to discover our sparks and move forward to connect and create successful designs and amazing finished objects. Please bring photos, sketches, swatches, and questions and be ready to be inspired.













A Sea of Pink Hats

Knitty City has been supporting the Pussyhat Project ever since its inception early December 2016. When we heard that these pink cat-eared hats were being made for the Women's March, we wanted to be a part of this amazing movement.

We were in awe by the response of our incredible community. Many of you were immediately inspired by the Pussyhat Project and you came out to buy yarn in all shades of pink.

We provided a safe place for our community to come together and work diligently on the Pussyhats. We got newbie knitters on their way and we offered help on how to make the hats.

Before long, knitters and crocheters started to drop off finished hats and marchers started to come to the store looking for pink Pussyhats. Hundreds of hats were donated and hundreds of hats were picked up.

It didn't take long before the media knocked on our door. Magee Hickey from Pix11 News did a segment on Knitty City's Pussyhat Knitters, we were featured the New York Daily News and we were mentioned in the New York Times. Also, we were captured by the French, German and Italian media. Thank you for your willingness to be interviewed!

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It was truly beautiful to see our community come together as one. We gathered, worked on our pink hats, voiced our concerns and overcame our fears and anxieties. It was far more than "just making hats". It was a much needed process of healing and empowerment.

We would like to thank each and every single one of you for your dedication, passion, determination and generosity. You made it happen. Because of you, we saw a sea of pink hats during the Women's Marches!

A Knitter's Story

At Knitty City, we love stories, and one of the things we particularly enjoy is learning about how a knitter came to the craft. So, when we met Wallace Boyd, we couldn't wait to ask him about his own journey. He did more than tell us, he agreed to be a guest blogger...... 

My Knitting Story


Wallace Bass Boyd


Raised in the Heart of Dixie, I am first and foremost a southern storyteller. It began early: On cool summer evenings and warm winter nights, my father and I often found ourselves on the porch of our small green house in West Point, Georgia, talking about everything from politics to the Bible. Sometimes those discussions would have a gentleness to them that allowed us to watch each car pass out of view; at other times, they would be so intense that neither one of us saw anything but our own anger, and one of us ended up walking away from the conversation in a huff. Let’s just procrastinate it,” my father often said when he was through talking.

My mother was not a porch sitter. With her gardening, cooking, sewing, and working her two blue-collar jobs as a maid and a factory worker, she was too busy to tell stories on the porch. She saved her stories for the Ladies Savings Club meetings that she hosted at least once a month. It was there that my mother told her tales of family struggle, work troubles, and clever financial management to her lady friends who would either erupt into laughter or nod in quiet, respectful agreement.

Although I was forbidden from contributing to these “grow folks” conversations of my mother’s, I listened as much as I could, especially when my mother would summon me to play the piano to entertain her friends.

My mother and great grandmother sewed. I learned color theory by accompanying my mother to the fabric store.  While she shopped the fine paisley, cotton, and seer-sucker offerings, I tunneled my way through cathedrals of fabric bolts leaning against one another. This is how I learned about colorways. 

I started knitting seriously in 1997 after I finished Florida State University's Masters of Mass Communications program in Tallahassee, Florida. Suddenly in possession of a degree that was personally unfulfilling for me, it was a time of personal upheaval and starting over. Seeing my angst, a long-time friend turned me on to Julia Cameron’s seminal self-help creative recovery book, "The Artist’s Way", in which she counsels blocked creatives to get a hobby as part of her 12 week program. I chose knitting.  

So, in time, when I was looking for an inexpensive way to quickly improve my knitting skills, after moving to Washington, DC in January 2001, a knitting-crochet support group seemed a perfect fit for me because of its potential for social circle storytelling. Shortly after arriving in Washington, I posted a call for help on a Washington area knitter's listserv, with the intention of starting a face-to-face knitting group. I connected with a Takoma Park, Md. woman who wanted to form such a group, Together we decided to call it "Knitting-n-The-City",  after the popular television show “Sex and the City.”

Starting with a monthly meeting on the 4th Tuesday of each month, the now-defunct free support group began meeting in Takoma Park in February 2001. It eventually spread  to each of the DC quadrants, with groups meeting monthly, on different days of the month. By 2005, the email list had almost 250 subscribers who supported each other on-line and in-person, sometimes several times a month.

 While I came to Washington with basic knitting skills and excellent manual dexterity, thanks to piano studies and manual typing skills, it was Knitting-n-The-City that allowed me to flourish. 

Today, I am making a name for myself in the fiber arts world under my brand “That Brother Can Knit!”.  In my early days of knitting, people were so fascinated by seeing me knitting in public that I decided to capitalize on it. 

Now, I sell my self-published book and stranded knitting designs under that moniker. The name brand grabs people’s attention, and it reflects my awareness of the novelty of my fiber arts practice. In addition, I tell inspirational and transformational stories about knitting. “Knitting My Father Breath” is my favorite.

Author of That Brother Can Knit: A Creative Memoir of A Black Gay Man From Alabama (, Wallace Bass Boyd is a creative writer, multicultural storyteller, and folk fiber artist. He has taught knitting classes at the prestigious John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina and in craft stores in Washington, DC.  He also enjoys empowering others to tell their story. He has taught memoir writing workshops to New York City elders at the Riverdale YHA and the JASA Coop City senior centers. Look for his knitwear designs at quality yarn shops and on Following is a brief slide show of some of his designs. Wallace will be appearing on First Thursday, Feb. 2, at Knitty City, from 6:00-8:00PM.  Please join us.









Look TwiCE!!

The World of Illusion KNITTING

Last week we wrote about a neat couple (Pat Ashcroft and Steve Plummer) who are mathematicians who teach and employ mathematics via knitting. This great educational adventure has led them on another, equally fertile, path: The wonderful world of Illusion knitting, wherein one can create a picture only visible from specific angles. When viewed head on, stripes are visible, but the picture lies in the angle of viewing. Thus, as in life, it's not what you see at first glance. Pat and Steve have devised a method of accomplishing this in a more approachable manner, they feel. Check out their site here to see why these designs are so special. It's where the craft of knitting takes flight as art.  On the site, you will find basic information regarding "how to" plus a link to their designs that can be purchased. In the meantime,  here are a few pictures

Squares that look round

In this example, you see squares, when you look from a distance, and variations, in the form of circles, when you look from an angle. Only 5 different yarns are employed, yet the impression is of  25 different shades. It feels like magic in some way. Note: This is not recommended for beginners of this technique so best to try with something like one of these:

Lettering or Quotes

Believe it or not, this is a technique that is do-able by all knitters - even those who consider themselves relatively new to the craft. It requires only the ability to knit and purl. It is a simple technique, composed of stripes in two colors, using knit and purl stitches to create special effects. It does rely on using a chart so a knitter needs to be willing to learn, and to be willing to count - but that applies to one side only.  It's recommended to use good contrast in colors. The right side of every strip is knit in a specific color of your choice. All the action takes place on the second (wrong side) row of the stripe. That's when you need the chart. White stitches are purled, colored stitches are knit, using the color for the stripe used on front. This technique works nicely for letters or cross stitch projects. Because we all like eye candy (pictures), here are a few more examples of projects Steve and Pat have put on their site:


Called "Double Vision, Squared", this stunning blanket can also be used as a wall hanging. it's true textile art. When you look straight at the blanket, you can see 81 different shades, though just 9 different colors were used. When viewed from an angle, smaller squares are visible within larger ones. Any yarn weight can be used; this one used a dk weight. Due to the number of yarns used, it is recommended for a more experienced knitter. 

Home Decorating Ideas

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 Illusion knitting projects make interesting home accessories. When looked down on from above, all the shells in this cushion look the same. However, when you look from an angle, you can see the variation in colors that distinguish them as different. 


It's hard to find anyone who doesn't respond to the image of a butterly.  Evocative of change and birth, they often adorn pictures and clothing, and are a natural motif when it comes to shawls. Imagine this in a spectacular color choice such as pink and dark violet.  

This is a great way to use up stash yarn! Many knitters have a variety of complementary colors in their yarn collections. When used with black, the stained glass effect on this shawl is dramatic. From either direction, head on or at an angle, you walk away with a wonderful piece of wearable art which utilizes your favorite colors.  

Find out more by visiting the Illusion Knitting site here or find Pat and Steve on Ravelry. You will find their Woolly Thoughts website here. In the meantime, here's a fitting "gift" from them. It's a free pattern so you can give it a try. This pattern is created with  both chart and written instructions.  Go on, you know it will be fun!









Woolly Math

One of the many things we love about knitting and crochet - and all the fiber arts - is how it satisfies on many levels: It's fun, it's great to look at, it keeps us warm, no creature needs to suffer in order for us to obtain the materials and it's soothing to the spirit. As many of us know, it's also an excellent way to practice our math skills. Some schools use it to teach the basics and beyond. So, when we discovered this website, we were smitten:

Click here to be transported in the best way.

Click here to be transported in the best way.

Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer are self-descirbed "mathekniticians". It's the perfect description for two educators who use textile art as one of the vehicles for making mathematics easier to comprehend. Now retired from formal teaching, their knitting and crochet work has expanded well beyond their beginnings and brought them a new kind of notice and a career in design. It's a great story and here's a brief rendition. You can read a more complete version by visiting their website which is filled with fascinating facts and great pictures.

A married British couple, both math teachers were active on an online knitting forum when they were asked to produce an afghan pattern based upon a mathematical  formula. They wound up producing 4 designs and it began a journey that  led them on a new and exciting path. Recognizing that the afghan was the perfect template for expressing math formulas, they employed it as as a canvas and, simultaneously  created some visually exciting works of art.  At last count, that was 90 afghans ago. Take a look at some stunning examples:

Square Deal: the smallest possible example of a square divided into smaller squares, where the sides of each of the squares are all whole numbers, and where no two squares are the same size. Photograph: Pat Ashforth

Square Deal: the smallest possible example of a square divided into smaller squares, where the sides of each of the squares are all whole numbers, and where no two squares are the same size. Photograph: Pat Ashforth

Counting Pane: a grid of the numbers from 1 to 100. Each number cell contains the colors of the numbers from 1 to 10 that divide it, with 1 being blue, 2 being yellow, 3 red, and so on. So 12, which is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 has the colours of blue, yellow, red, green and black. A copy of this was sold to the Science Museum. Photograph: Pat Ashforth

Counting Pane: a grid of the numbers from 1 to 100. Each number cell contains the colors of the numbers from 1 to 10 that divide it, with 1 being blue, 2 being yellow, 3 red, and so on. So 12, which is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 has the colours of blue, yellow, red, green and black. A copy of this was sold to the Science Museum. Photograph: Pat Ashforth

This one is one of my favorites. It also makes me want to crochet.

 Psesudoku: A crochet version of three superimposed Sudoku patterns. Photograph: Pat Ashforth

 Psesudoku: A crochet version of three superimposed Sudoku patterns. Photograph: Pat Ashforth

Like the math they taught (how I wish one of them had taught me), the patterns are easy to understand and require basic skills. If one wishes to understand theory, it's explained on their website, but a person can undertake it for the sheer enjoyment of sailing along on a work of art, secure in the knowledge that science is in accord. 

Ashforth and Plummer have become celebrities in the world of mathematical crafts. Some of their afghans have been bought by the Science Museum in London. That said, they don't sell their finished products, but they do sell the patterns via their website, which is also filled with information about the mathematical truths behind the  "proof" afghans.  There are also other product patterns offered for sale, including "toys" which demonstrate theory in a playful way. 

This is a knit version of a  popular toy. It is made up from eight cubes, joined in a special way. you can fold and unfold the large cube continuously to reveal several different faces. There is also a crochet version available. 

This is a knit version of a  popular toy. It is made up from eight cubes, joined in a special way. you can fold and unfold the large cube continuously to reveal several different faces. There is also a crochet version available. 

When traversing their website, it quickly becomes apparent that each of the couple have strong right and left brain capabilities. On one hand, they have the ability to visualize a creative way to showcase a mathematical fact, while, on the other, each possesses the ability  to explain how to produce it. Here's a quote from Pat, which says it well:

“We enjoy the challenge of seeing an idea then working out how it can be made into an afghan in a way that would be easy enough for anyone else to recreate. It is like trying to solve a puzzle and refining it to give the best possible solution.”  

Both Ashforth and Plummer  are accomplished knitters and, when conducting workshops, they are equal partners in knitting and/or crochet skills.  A recent article in "The Guardian", a British publication, quotes Pat: “We always try to make sure that knitting is not seen as a female activity and Steve always knits at any event to emphasize the point,” says Ashforth. “We find more reluctance from women who say they can’t do math than from men who say they can’t knit.”

Here are a few more "afghan-a-matics" (my word).   

Pythagoras tree: an image based on Pythagoras’s theorem. For each black triangle you see the square on the hypotenuse and the squares on the other two sides. The Science Museum have the original. Photograph: Pat Ashforth.;My comment: Given the colors used, this  one is evocative of african tribal art.  

Pythagoras tree: an image based on Pythagoras’s theorem. For each black triangle you see the square on the hypotenuse and the squares on the other two sides. The Science Museum have the original. Photograph: Pat Ashforth.;My comment: Given the colors used, this  one is evocative of african tribal art.  

 Pseudoku Photograph: Pat Ashforth

 Pseudoku Photograph: Pat Ashforth

Amazement: a knitted maze. Photograph: Pat Ashforth; PERSONAL THOUGHT: THAT CENTER FORMATION MAKES ME THINK OF A KEITH Haring figure.

Amazement: a knitted maze. Photograph: Pat Ashforth; PERSONAL THOUGHT: THAT CENTER FORMATION MAKES ME THINK OF A KEITH Haring figure.

Ashforth says that another part of the enjoyment of making the afghans is seeing “... the effect we have had on children, either directly by them seeing our big colorful blankets and suddenly understanding something they had previously struggled with, or because other teachers have used our ideas (not always in knitted form) to help teach math in an unconventional way. And influencing the lives of so many (most often women) maths-phobics who would not dream of becoming involved with anything mathematical in other circumstances.”

Finite field: crochet representation of a finite field Photograph: Pat Ashforth

Finite field: crochet representation of a finite field Photograph: Pat Ashforth

in the next post, we will follow up with a look at their newest fascination: Illusion Knitting. In the meantime, should you wish to visit their site, which contains lots more pictures and information, just click on the header on top. Pat can  be found on Ravelry here. Steve can be found here, and their  group on Ravelry is here. In addition, you will find them on twitter: Pat Ashforth is@matheknitician and Steve Plummer @IllusiveSteve

Steve Plummer & Pat Ashforth: The mathekniticcians themselves

Steve Plummer & Pat Ashforth: The mathekniticcians themselves

The Community that Knits Together.....

A lot has been written about the many changes in the world of knitting and fiber arts.  As retailers, we hear concerns about the closing of local shops, the growth of internet sales and the glut of free patterns that don't make it easy for designer and magazine sales. While we agree that rapid change is on-going, we would like to share another  perspective on the evolution of the market.

It is true  that the market has been altered by institutions like Ravelry and the proliferation of independent designers, brands and online sales. Online groups are terrific. They link people all over the world,  create international camaraderie and, in some cases, create lifelong friendships. Since there are now more ways in which yarns and equipment can be purchased, buyers have more options and sometimes those choices leave an individual store out of the equation.

Equally important, however, is the personal interaction that can happen only in the real world. That is where the store or organization comes in - as a facilitator of community.  As a local retailer of yarn and related products, we have witnessed, first-hand, the way in which the fiber arts facilitate an intimacy that happens when people personally share their interests. We have seen how kindred passions break down barriers, encourage learning and facilitate growth.

A few days ago, we sent out a newsletter, asking for "stories" about the difference that knitting and related crafts have made in people's lives. Almost immediately, we began to receive examples of kindness, healing and friendships. The following is from one of our customers.  We are honored that she makes the trip to see us since it involves more than one subway change. The power of our community draws her to us as we are drawn to her.

     I was asked to knit for my relative Adam, who had been diagnosed with cancer, a cozy woolen hat to keep him  warm. One he could wear once he had lost his hair during chemo treatment. It takes me four subways to get to the Knitty city store, but I went almost immediately.  I asked your son, Zach, to help me find the right material, in the right color, which he did.  'Do you need a pattern?', he asked, and I answered 'no'. I thought I was experienced enough to make my own pattern. However, it did take a couple of tries of knitting and undoing before I had the correct measurements.  My completed hat was  shipped to my  36 year old relative. He said in his thank you note that it fit perfectly and that the color and material were just right. The good news is, that Adam is responding to treatment.   - Story submitted 12/7/16                                 PS: This picture shows the author who was a contributor to the Blanket Square Project - a worthy  and "warm" cause supported by  NYC knitting guilds, groups  and organizations  for The Blanket of Love Program.

We often hear the term "random acts of kindness", but it can be seen in action in the spontaneous and generous things that people who make things together often do for one another. Here's another case in point, sent to us by one of our KC team members, Melissa:

   This gift was a great example of what I value about Knitty City;. I was recently covering the register for just a few minutes on a day that I wasn’t working. I checked out a customer who was visiting from Montreal. I  started to ramble on about how I loved her city, and how I missed my regular supply of yogurt seasoning from Akhavan, a great Middle Eastern food store. She offered to pick me up a bottle and send it along to NYC. Initially I declined, as it would be asking too much of someone I barely knew…..she insisted and I offered to give her money for it, which she declined. Weeks later, a bottle of yogurt seasoning was handed to me. This delicious act of kindness is a reminder to me of two things:  First, knitters are awesome. Second, to continue this act of kindness by doing the same - no strings attached.  

We have seen sharing like this played out for the past 5 summers when Knitty City partners with the Bryant Park organizers for our weekly free summer knitting classes in the park. People teach one another, swap stories, histories, losses and gains all within a 90 minute session in the center of the city. Sometimes people learn to knit, sometimes they share their knowledge and, sometimes, they even entertain.

With Thanks to Melanie gall & Lisa Daehlin who entertained the knitting group in Bryant Park 

With Thanks to Melanie gall & Lisa Daehlin who entertained the knitting group in Bryant Park 

Always benefit abound. - and it happens with the type of relationship that is facilitated best in person. Local stores have a unique opportunity to offer something no isolated computer or discounted price can compete with.: personal touch and relationship.

We would love to hear your stories about how the craft or a shared experience has helped you. If you have a personal anecdote, tale, or experience regarding knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, or any fiber work, we would be interested in hearing it. We are compiling them to create a regular feature for our website: The Knitty City Diary.  If it involves Knitty City, so much the better, but that is not a requirement.  

With your permission we will share them, as the opportunity presents. Unless directed otherwise, we will keep them anonymous. Please send directly to with the subject: KC Diary







Lars Rains, Guest Blogger!

Lars Rains is a multi-talented friend, designer, knitter and teacher -- and that's naming just a few of his talents. He is also a friend to Knitty City, and when we heard about his new book, "Presto", we were excited by its subject matter, as well as its timing. The sub-title, "10 Accessory Projects You can Knit in a Weekend", made it perfect for this busy season.  

We always enjoy being in his company, so  we asked him to come on in for a book signing. He took us up on it, and he will be here on Saturday, December 3, from 2:00-4:00PM for a meet, greet and signing. We also know him to be a good poster person for knitting and its rewards, and we asked him to consider a little guest blogging with us. He complied, and the result follows:

Lars Rains


People often tell me that they could never learn how to knit because they just don’t have the patience. I respond by saying that I learned how to be patient because I learned how to knit. I look forward to having to wait at the doctor’s office because it means that I can fit in a few more rows of knitting into my busy day. I also prefer to knit sweaters, which means that I may have to wait a couple of months before I end up with a finished object.

That’s not to say that we also can’t appreciate instant gratification. Indeed, there is nothing better than buying a skein of yarn (or ten) on the spur of the moment, simply because we have to have it now. Quick projects are a joy to work on, as well, because we can almost immediately enjoy the fruits of our labor. The fastest projects for me to knit are small accessories made out of bulky yarn.


I recently published a book of ten accessory patterns that feature Madelinetosh’s A.S.A.P. yarn. With these simple designs, I wanted to take advantage of the vivid colors that are available while also exploring new construction techniques. Just as the great masters would produce smaller studies in advance of their masterpieces, these patterns are a great opportunity to learn new skills that can be applied to larger projects in the future. Here's a look at a few of them, all featured in my new book, and all beautifully photographed by my colleague, Gail Zucker.

Crimson Horror is named after an episode of Dr. Who. It is also a cowl that is the perfect introduction to cables and lace.

Longbottom Leaf takes a simple rectangular scarf construction and elevates it with a symmetrical lace pattern.

 Pinstripes is a scarf that alternates between seed stitch rows and garter stitch rows with offset color changes.


 Super Gay celebrates life by combining any two colors in a geometric cowl that makes use of stranded colorwork.

 Southern Gothic is a crescent shawl with stacked eyelets and an unusual approach to shaping at the end.

Polar Coordinates hides its crown decreases in its pebble stitches to create a hat without any observable decrease lines on top.

Corduroy is a cowl that is knit vertically but which features horizontal lines through the use of tuck stitches.

Titania expands on the idea of tuck stitches to produce a stunning cowl that looks more like an Elizabethan collar.

Threesome is a hat that uses helix knitting to demonstrate how easy it is to produce stripes in three colors.

Dark Mithral features a cable pattern that requires the use of two cable needles and results in a pair of fingerless mitts.

With the holiday season upon us, the patterns in my new book, "Presto", will make your gift knitting go by quickly (and painlessly). Not only is it fulfilling to get projects off the needles in no time at all, you may also learn some new techniques along the way. Don’t forget to knit something for yourself this month! You deserve it!

With Gratitude

A Thanksgiving  Letter from Pearl Chin


As we approach the holidays, we would like to express our appreciation to our friends and customers for their support of Knitty City. We take great pleasure in doing this as we look forward to our eleventh year in business on the Upper West Side.

In doing a little research, I  discovered that the traditional symbol for an eleventh anniversary is "Steel". I couldn't help but think it fitting that a material synonymous with strength marks this year's anniversary. Our community of makers is a strong one because of our shared interests and diversity.

In addition to our local friends, we are fortunate to meet people from all over the world at Knitty City. They visit us to find new treasures and share their love of making things. Each person is a strong link to a culture and, often, another language. We have gained much in meeting them and count them as part of our extended community. Like the city in which we live, we take pride in making them welcome and in sharing our knowledge, as we benefit from theirs.

Please accept our heartfelt wishes for a healthy and safe Thanksgiving and a peaceful holiday season.

Pearl Chin & Family

The Knitty City Team




From Ireland....A Creator's Style


Kieran Foley is an Irish born knitwear designer who is influenced by many forces, among which are: his native land, travel, environment, art, animal and plant life. We became aware of his work when we discovered his magical website at At first glance, it was hard to believe that he could get the effects he did from hand-knitting. His designs have a dimensional quality that make them appear more woven than hand-knit. His use of color was (and is) confident and bold. Through his blog at, we accompanied him and his beloved cocker spaniel on trips that influenced his design work. Inspired, we pursued him and asked him if he would consider being a guest blogger.  In response, Kieran put together a series of collages, comprised of images that sparked his work. and then created the words that explained his choices.  Join us as we "orient" our way along some of his creative byways.


Meet Kieran Foley

Thanks for your interest in my work! I have always been interested in colour and patterns, and spent a lot of time as a child doodling, drawing and painting. I learned to do stranded knitting at home at an early age and went on to study textile design at the National College of Art in Dublin, Ireland in the 1980’s. At the time, students were encouraged to have a notebook on hand at all times to sketch down ideas, and to collect postcards, cuttings and ephemera for inspiration - this was in the days before digital photography.

After college, I worked in the printed textile industry in London, before moving on to Milan. Much of my spare time in London was spent travelling on the Piccadilly Line (the subway/underground) to explore the various museums and galleries - the British Museum, where the Egyptian and Mediterranean collections, in particular, are fascinating; the Victoria and Albert Museum with its vast collections of textiles and decorative arts and its emphasis on the history of design; and the National Gallery with its highly decorative gilded altarpieces, and historical portraits, with great details of costumes from different centuries.

In Milan, the fashion industry, the architecture, the general interest in design and the opportunity of convenient train travel in all directions, armed with my sketchbook – Venice, Florence, Rome, Paris, Munich, Bucharest.

More recently, holidays in Greece, Morocco and Iceland have been stand-outs. Greece has scintillating light, whitewashed houses decorated with geraniums and handmade textiles passed down from previous generations, museums with fabulous regional costumes featuring embroidery, lace and weaving, churches with gloomy interiors stuffed with icons and chandeliers, the ancient traditions of hand-painted pottery and terracotta, and colourfully painted fishing boats bobbing on the horizon.

Morocco also has fabulous light, as well as intriguing architecture, carpets, textiles and ceramics, and beautiful mountain scenery with an abundance of wild flowers.

Iceland has breathtaking volcanic landscapes, intriguing little towns, and many small museums with natural history displays, vintage knitting collections and arrays of old photos, a wonderful source of costume history and details.

All sorts of textiles fascinate me - I love travelling to places with strong knitting traditions - Estonia and Latvia was a great trip, I hope to visit Lithuania some day - in general I seek out ethnographic museums in search of unusual clothing and bodily adornments.

The west of Ireland, where my roots are, has beautifully textured and subtly coloured landscapes, the shimmer of the Atlantic, wide cloudscapes, small harbours with rusty ships, and beaches with an infinite variety of delicate sand patterns created by the flowing tides - as well as the old cottages with their rambling roses and fuchsias gone slightly wild.

Plant life in general is a great source of design ideas - spring brightness and autumnal richness, the textures, patterns and hues of leaves and petals - I like to visit botanical and historical gardens wherever I go – Farmleigh and the National Botanical Gardens in Dublin, Kilmacurragh and Avondale in Wicklow, Kew and Great Dixter in England, to name a few.

Lots of experiments are conducted at knit/lab. Not all of them are successful, which leads to much frustration at the knit/lab kitchen table! When I am happy with a design, I knit a sample, create a chart, and put them together in a pdf. You can use the designs to create unique and individual items of your own - scarves, shawls, garments, patchworks, throws, afghans, blankets, cushions, bags, socks, etc. Information on the techniques used can be found on the knit/lab help page. 

If you have any comments or suggestions, photos of your projects or comments on the website, you can contact Kieran here. You can find the patterns shown below on Kieran's website or on Ravelry,  You can also  follow him on Instagram and Pinterest.  However, you get there, we can promise you won't want to leave.  
















A Brilliant Light!

A Brilliant Light!

When one passionate person gets to know another with the same interest, the result can light up their world. So it must have been when Kathleen Dames and Anne Podlesak first began communicating. They "met" on-line when each was working on a project for Jane Austen Knits, a specially themed publication from Interweave Knits, and the compatibility was further strengthened by a collaboration on Their complementary skills convinced them of their suitability as partners in craft, and they soon decided to merge their talents to create "Filament", a quarterly online magazine. Kathleen and Anne live far apart, but distance was no barrier for them. In fact, it may have aided their design work since each lives in a uniquely stylish area of the country: New York (Kathleen) and New Mexico (Anne). That's part of the creative spice which is evident in their first collection. Here are 4 examples from Issue #1, whose theme is Classic Nostalgia, a combination of vintage form and practical function.

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These "Hankies" are not for sniffles!

These "Hankies" are not for sniffles!

I had one of those mothers who always carried a hanky in her purse. It was a charming, if old`fashioned, habit and I loved it. So, when Mary Hayne, our resident spinning guru, showed me Knitty City's collection of beautiful "silk hankies," I was smitten. When she explained that this beautiful 'hanky" could be turned into knitting yarn without being spun, I instantly wanted to try it. Mary, being Mary, pointed me in the right direction. I love a good "how to" so, as soon as I got home, I checked it out online.

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Revisiting Woolfolk Yarn... And Kristin Ford

Revisiting Woolfolk Yarn... And Kristin Ford

Woolfolk Yarn appeared on the knitting world's horizon in 2014 when Kristin Ford, owner and CEO, debuted the yarn at the Fall TNNA Show, the industry trade show for independent retailers. It was there that she introduced a uniquely luxurious yarn: Ultimate Merino. The inaugural presentation was for two superb weights: Far (worsted) and Tynd (fingering). The yarn was introduced in an assortment of colorways that reflected Kristin's appreciation of the colors of the Pacific Northwest, her family's home territory. In no time at all, the show floor was abuzz with talk of the special new merino yarn.  

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The Creative Life of Computer Scientist Ed Rodriguez

The Creative Life of Computer Scientist Ed Rodriguez

For the past 8 years, Ed Rodriguez has been attending Men's Night at Knitty City. Quietly he sits at the table, always working on a spectacular project. Cabled vests, cabled hats, doilies, and magnificent woven pieces have gone through his hands and wowed customers and staff alike. Seeing such beautiful pieces coming from this quiet man, one cannot help but wonder how and when crochet, knitting, and weaving came into his life. This is the story of Ed Rodriguez, a valued member of our craft community.

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