National Parks enamel pins!

We are soooo excited to share these enamel pins with y’all! They are just what we always dreamed of having, and are the first in what we hope will be many awesome pin designs to share with you.

Hop over to our website and snag one for your knitting bag! Grab a couple skeins of our National Parks colorways while you’re there, and join us on our Socks on Vacay adventures this summer!!

2018 National Parks. Week 3: Black Canyon

This week, we’re showcasing in our National Parks 2018 colorway line Black Canyon, in Colorado. This is a link to the photo we used as inspiration. That view, with the Gunnison River roaming through the canyon, is just the dreamiest.

Black Canyon is gorgeous, but not what you’d call hospitable: much of the canyon has never been settled, not even by the hearty Ute Indians.

Remember, get this colorway on our website starting today! Make socks with us this Summer as a part of our 2nd Annual Summertime Sock Knitting Extravaganza, otherwise known as Socks on Vacay. Use #socksonvacay2018 on IG while sharing photos of your Knitted Wit/Shannon Squire socks (must use our yarn and Shannon’s patterns to be eligible), and you might just win a prize!

2018 National Parks. Week 2: Arches

Let’s go to the desert, shall we, for our second National Parks colorway of 2018. Arches National Park, in Utah, is just plain stunning. Here’s the link to the photo that inspired our colorway.

Did you know that there are over 2,000 natural arches in Arches? The park was established as a National Monument through a presidential proclamation in 1929 by Herbert Hoover and as a National park by Richard Nixon in 1971. It’s been enlarged quite a few times over the years.

Get this colorway on our website starting today! Make socks with us this Summer as a part of our 2nd Annual Summertime Sock Knitting Extravaganza, otherwise known as Socks on Vacay. Use #socksonvacay2018 on IG while sharing photos of your Knitted Wit/Shannon Squire socks (must use our yarn and Shannon’s patterns to be eligible), and you might just win a prize!

HerStory May: Françoise Barré-Sinoussi

We are sharing our love letters for the HerStory Sock Club here, just in case you misplaced yours, didn’t get one, or want to check out what we send prior to signing up. Remember that there are many LYS’s that carry HerStory (listed on our front page), but if your local shop doesn’t, or if you love getting unicorn-encrusted mail from us, you can purchase a 3-month or year-long subscription from us here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month, our HerStory recipient is the scientist who discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi was born in Paris, France, in July of 1947. As a young girl, she was fascinated by the workings of the natural world. She’d spend hours observing insect behavior on family vacations, and quickly realized that she was destined for a life in the natural sciences. Once grown and schooled, she joined the Pasteur Institute in Paris in the 1970s, and worked on retrovirus research. In 1996, she became the head of the Retrovirus Biology Unit (later called Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit). For all of her work and dedication, Barré-Sinoussi won the Nobel Prize in 2008, along with the colleagues she discovered HIV with.
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi thought she’d have the typical life of a research scientist, specializing in retroviruses, doing the work, putting in the time. And that all would have created a wonderful life, full of good work on important diseases without a huge effect on her entire life. That is, until an infectious-disease specialist called the Pasteur Institute and asked her to look for a retrovirus in a new disease that had been wreaking havoc all over the world. This disease was AIDS, and her work on it would change her life forever.

Once she and her colleagues began working on the research into whether or not AIDS was caused by a retrovirus, that was it. She was forever inextricably linked to the disease. Discovering that AIDS was, indeed, caused by a retrovirus took a relatively short period of time, and since that discovery, Barré-Sinoussi has worked tirelessly with patients and doctors and other researchers to try to discover a treatment and pave the way for a potential cure for the disease. She spent time in San Francisco at the height of the US AIDS epidemic, holding the hands of AIDS patients as the disease took them further and further into illness. Over the years, she has befriended many AIDS patients and watched as they sickened and died. She threw her entire self into the study of the disease, and at points in her life, has told her loved ones that “I feel that I’m not my own personality any more. I look like a virus. My face is like HIV.”

In 1996, a therapy was introduced that completely changed the course of the AIDS epidemic. Not necessarily a cure, antiretroviral (or combination) therapy proved to be very effective in saving lives and curbing the effects of the disease. Although a huge relief, Barré-Sinoussi fell into a depression once this happened (as did many of her colleagues), as the relentless push against the virus finally lessened, and they were all left with a feeling of almost let-down. We are strange creatures, human beings; sometimes that which should give us the most joy opens our eyes to all we have lost, and we think that must have been what happened to Barré-Sinoussi: the weight of all of the lives lost to the disease pressed down relentlessly on her. She stepped away from the public eye for a while, and was able to find her way back to the good fight, once again working on a deeper understanding of the disease, and being a relentless advocate for those whose lives have been affected by the infection.

In reading about Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who is, to this day, intimately involved in fighting AIDS and advocating for those afflicted with HIV, we are once again touched to our very cores by these strong women in HerStory who have given so much of themselves to making the world a better place. For where would we be without them?

The colorway this month, inspired by the 1980s era, is called Prendre le Coeur (take heart). The colors are decidedly 1980’s Laura Ashley fabric and dresses, the message decidedly Françoise Barré-Sinoussi. Take heart, everyone, for there are people like Françoise Barré-Sinoussi working tirelessly to make this world a better place.

Remember to share your HerStory projects with us. Tag me @knittedwit, and use hashtags #knittedwit and #herstory2018kal. On Facebook, make sure to join our new Knitted Wit Knitalongs Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/572482266432576), where folks have been sharing their HerStory projects so far. We have so many fabulous women to talk about with you, and hope you’ve loved the lessons so far!

2018 National Parks. Week 1: American Samoa

We’re starting our 2018 National Parks releases a week early, because Socks on Vacay 2018 starts on 5/28, and we want you to have this skein in your hot little hands if you’d like to cast on with us on 5/28. Starting on 6/4, we’ll be releasing a new National Parks colorway every single Monday, and they are all so different and inspiring and beautiful and we could not be more proud.

Now, for those who just simply cannot wait, we do have the whole 2018 mega amazing bundle of yarn available, with free shipping. So much amazingness in one shipment.

Our first colorway for the 2018 National Parks line is American Samoa. We’re kicking it off with a park we’d really, REALLY like to visit. (Honestly, we’d love to visit any or all of the National Parks we’re showcasing, as well as the ones we showcased last year, but this one is particularly gorgeous). Here’s a link to the photo that inspired the colorway. It’s an image of Ofu Island’s coral reef, part of the American Samoa National Park. The park was the first US National Park in the Southern Hemisphere.

Get this colorway on our website starting today! Make socks with us this Summer as a part of our 2nd Annual Summertime Sock Knitting Extravaganza, otherwise known as Socks on Vacay. Use #socksonvacay2018 on IG while sharing photos of your Knitted Wit/Shannon Squire socks (must use our yarn and Shannon’s patterns to be eligible), and you might just win a prize!

Socks on Vacay 2018

It’s almost Memorial Day, which means it’s almost time for the 2nd annual Summertime Sock Knitting Extravaganza, hosted by Shannon Squire and me. We had such a great time last year, making all of the socks and drooling over yours, that we can’t NOT do it again this year. And for 2018, we’ve got some fun new things, including amazeballs stitch markers from the amazeballs maker Maria from A Needle Runs Through It (coming soon), the 2018 National Parks colorways from me (the first colorway will be on sale on 5/21), AND a new three-pattern sock collection from Shannon (publishing 5/28). And the Summer of Socks, aka #socksonvacay2018 officially kicks off  on Monday, May 28th.

Just like last year, we are going to be giving prizes, and, just like last year, we aren’t entirely sure what kinds of things we’ll be looking for, but to give you an idea, last year, we gave prizes for:

  • Most Exotic Photo
  • Most Finished Socks
  • Coolest Place to Knit

Among other things. Just knit socks, and have fun doing it, and you’ll be entered to win!

The rules are simple:

  1. You must make socks between Monday, May 28th and Monday, September 3rd, 2018 (aka Memorial Day and Labor Day here in the US);
  2. socks must be made with Knitted Wit yarn;
  3. socks must be made using one of Shannon Squire’s sock patterns; and
  4. you must share photos on IG and use #socksonvacay #socksonvacay2018 AND tag @knittedwit and @shannonsq.

And that’s it! Try to cast on and bind off between those two dates, but if you have a wee bit started before Memorial Day, we’ll try not to ding you.

We are releasing a brand-spanking-new National Parks colorway every single Monday for the entire span of Socks on Vacay (if you know you’re going to need them all, you can even order every.single.one with free shipping in one massively gorgeous bundle here. You can also get all of the 2017 colors here.)

We’re getting so excited about spending our summer surrounded by sock knitting once again, and sure hope you’ll join us!

HerStory April: Maryam Mirzakhani

We are sharing our love letters for the HerStory Sock Club here, just in case you misplaced yours, didn’t get one, or want to check out what we send prior to signing up. Remember that there are many LYS’s that carry HerStory (listed on our front page), but if your local shop doesn’t, or if you love getting unicorn-encrusted mail from us, you can purchase a 3-month or year-long subscription from us here

Every month, we are more in love with our HerStory subject AND the colorway we create to honor them, and this month is only different in that we literally cannot stop looking at and dreaming of the yarn. It’s so good that Shannon has already knitted an entire sock. We’ll share photos on IG after the 25th of the month, when she will surely be done with the second sock.

April’s honoree was a little heart-hard for us. We first heard about Maryam Mirzakhani when she passed away last year at the age of 40 from breast cancer. The fact that many Iranian newspapers, (and even the President) decided to share her photo, head uncovered, even though she didn’t live by religious law, was really striking. This was a woman who had blazed so many trails in her 40 short years on earth that it was deemed more important to honor her than respect long-standing cultural taboos surrounding the rules her birth society imposed on women.

Maryam Mirzakhani was born in 1977 in Tehran, Iran. She quickly began to amass what would be a long list of mathematical “firsts”: she was the first female student to receive the gold medal level in the International Mathematics Olympiad in 1994, and the next year, became the first Iranian student, either male OR female, to achieve a perfect score and win two gold medals. Her entire school and work career, she was blazing trails and breaking glass ceilings, y’all. After earning her BSc in Mathematics from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, she journeyed to the US, to Harvard, for her graduate work. She was a relentless and inquisitive learner, and didn’t let the language barrier get her down. Her class notes were in Farsi; she communicated with her peers and professors in English. In 2004, she earned her PhD, and had fellowships at the Clay Mathematics Institute and a professorship at Princeton before finding her home at Stanford. It was there that she earned the singular honor of being both the first woman AND the first Iranian to win the prestigious Fields Medal mathematics prize (it’s like the Nobel prize, but only awarded every four years, and primarily to mathematicians under the age of 40).

Mirzakhani’s approach to math can be described as beautiful and (dare we say it?) crafty. When asked how she does her math thing, she referred to herself as a “slow” mathematician (others strongly begged to differ, changing the description “slow” to “deep”), and said that “you have to spend some energy and effort to see the beauty of math.” Mirzakhani literally doodled her way through mathematical figuring, filling huge pieces of papers with squiggly doodles and jotting equations along the edges, something her daughter described as “painting.” Sounds pretty craft-adjacent, doesn’t it? She was known for her creative thinking and her ability to see the big picture, pairing seemingly disparate mathematical theories and approaches to solve long-standing mathematical problems.

The concepts behind what Mirzakhani studied make our brains literally hurt, but they also sound almost like magic. She studied the curves that sit on top of surfaces to understand the surfaces, things that are not bound by constraints of the REAL WORLD. What? In researching these theories and approaches, we were struck by the fact that the prevailing thoughts on mathematicians are that they are super boring and nerdy. In reality, after trying to get our heads around these concepts, it seems that they actually might be some of the most magical among us. It feels like it’s all a big leap of faith to even approach a mathematical problem like the ones Mirzakhani was able to solve.
Mirzakhani was known for her studies of moduli spaces (which is where we got the name for the colorway from). From what we can gather and understand (which is not a lot!), a moduli space is a theoretical space consisting of solutions for geometric classification problems. The goal is to have a fine moduli space, where there is a unifying factor among the problems. And… that’s about as far as we can go on that, because it’s all pretty high-level mathematic theorizing, and, as we’ve said before, “Dammit, Jim! We’re dyers and knitters, not mathematicians!” However, in the most basic understanding of moduli spaces, having a place where problems can more easily be solved by having at least one parameter in common sounds kind of dreamy, doesn’t it? Finding common ground and all that jazz. Even if we are off the mark on our understanding of these concepts, we’re feeling pretty good about it.

The colorway itself was inspired by the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, otherwise known as the Pink Mosque in Iran. Seriously, check out this photo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mayhlen/8094768919/), and try not to be immensely inspired by the overwhelming beauty of this space. We are tickled pink, blue, and yellow that our yarn came out to so perfectly match this amazing place. The mosque was built in the late 1800s, and features stained-glass windows that let in beautifully-colored light that in turn plays with the brightly-colored glass tiles that adorn the walls and ceiling. It is one of the most stunning buildings we have ever seen, and made the absolute perfect colorway to honor the trailblazing, amazing, and mind-bendingly brilliant Maryam Mirzakhani. We hope you are as inspired and touched by this HerStory as we were.

Remember to share your HerStory projects with us. Tag me @knittedwit, and use hashtags #knittedwit and #herstory2018kal. On Facebook, make sure to join our new Knitted Wit Knitalongs Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/572482266432576), where folks have been sharing their HerStory projects so far. We have so many fabulous women to talk about with you, and hope you’ve loved the lessons so far!

HerStory March: Tu Youyou

We are sharing our love letters for the HerStory Sock Club here, just in case you misplaced yours, didn’t get one, or want to check out what we send prior to signing up. Remember that there are many LYS’s that carry HerStory (listed on our front page), but if your local shop doesn’t, or if you love getting unicorn-encrusted mail from us, you can purchase a 3-month or year-long subscription from us here

This month, our colorway is a delightfully springy homage to the sweet wormwood plant, and our honoree is a real trailblazer who never forgot the importance of looking back while working for the future. 

Tu Youyou’s path to her place in HerStory almost reads like a novel of intrigue. A young medical researcher gets recruited into a secret cabal of scientists hell-bent on discovering a cure for malaria, to give the communist North Vietnamese army a better chance at winning the war they are embroiled in. Relying on traditional Chinese medicine and texts from hundreds of years ago, Tu and her team, known only as Mission 523, discover mentions of “sweet wormword,”or qinghao, which, once tested, proved to be an effective treatment of the disease that was wreaking havoc both on rainforest populations and on the NVA army. Decades pass, many lives are saved, the researcher lives in quiet obscurity, until, in the 2000s, the scientific community “rediscovers” her, and begins to recognize her remarkable achievement and contribution to medicine.

Tu Youyou was born, raised, worked, and did all of her research in China. Most of her work was done during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1960s and 1970s), a time when science was not held in high regard. In fact, scientists (and all intellectuals) were considered to be of a societal caste only one step above beggars, which were abhorred. They were known as the Stinking old Ninth, as in the ninth caste. But the Chinese Premier, Zhou Enlai, understood the significance and importance of science, and when asked by the North Vietnamese government to help figure out a way to treat the malaria that was decimating their soldiers, he put together a secret task force, known as Mission 523 (it was formed on May 23rd, 1967, hence the name 523). 

Tu was quickly recruited. She was a research scientist, a pharmaceutical chemist who focused on traditional and herbal medicines. She spearheaded the effort to comb through the texts and visit herbalists all over China, testing herbs that ancient herbalists used to combat traditional symptoms of malaria. Hundreds of potential malarial treatments later, the benefits of qinghao were discovered. Through lots of trial and error (a deeper read of the ancient texts revealed that the herb needed to be steeped in cool, not boiling water, for instance), Artemisia annua was shown to be completely effective in animal studies. Once those primary trials were underway, she volunteered to test the compound on herself before moving on to human trials. The discovery of artemisinin has been instrumental in saving many lives that would once have been lost to malaria. 

In 2011, Tu was awarded the prestigious Lasker DeBakey clinical medical research award, and in 2015, she won the Nobel Prize in Medicine with two other researchers. As an interesting aside, in China, Tu is known as the “three noes” Nobel winner: no medical degree, no doctorate, and she’s never worked overseas.

A serious and modest woman (when she won the Lasker award, her response was “I am too old to bear this”), her work was initially published anonymously. It finally reached international audiences in the early 1980s, and in the early 2000s, the World Health Organization recommended the use of artemisinin-based combination drug therapies as first-line treatment for malaria. 

Her personal life took a backseat to her professional one. Her husband was “sent to the countryside” (read: to a labor camp) to work during the Cultural Revolution, and she had to leave her 4-year-old daughter at a local nursery for 6 months while she immersed herself in research. When she and her daughter were finally reunited, the little girl didn’t recognize her mother. “The work was the top priority, so I was certainly willing to sacrifice my personal life,” she said later. A woman of few words, she’s known for her passion for work and her drive, and there are millions of people alive today who wholeheartedly appreciate her sacrifice. Thanks, Tu Youyou, for being you.

Remember to share your HerStory projects with us. Tag me @knittedwit, and use hashtags #knittedwit and #herstory2018kal. On Facebook, make sure to join our new Knitted Wit Knitalongs Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/572482266432576), where folks have been sharing their HerStory projects so far. Thanks so much for taking this STEM-y journey with us – we have been thoroughly enjoying learning so much about these amazing and unsung women, and are just as excited about what’s coming up for the rest of the year! 

HerStory February: Sau Lan Wu

We are sharing our love letters for the HerStory Sock Club here, just in case you misplaced yours, didn’t get one, or want to check out what we send prior to signing up. Remember that there are many LYS’s that carry HerStory (listed on our front page), but if your local shop doesn’t, or if you love getting unicorn-encrusted mail from us, you can purchase a 3-month or year-long subscription from us here

For February’s HerStory lesson, we are shrinking ourselves down to explore the things that make up protons and neutrons. (Honey! I shrunk the sock club!)

Meet Sau Lan Wu, a scientist who’s been making a mark in her field since her graduate student days. The discoveries in particle physics that she has made make our knitterly brains feel a bit…scrambled. They all have the sweetest names (Charm Quark, Gluon, Higgs Boson) with super important, understanding-the-world-we-live-in significance. We’re making our best effort to distill the information we’ve been researching into a snappy little letter, but a big grain of salt to all of you actual scientists out there: PLEASE forgive us our lack of actual scientific knowledge surrounding this stuff. To misquote Dr. McCoy from Star Trek: “Dammit, people! We’re fiber artists, not scientists!”

Sau Lan Wu was born in Hong Kong, the daughter of a businessman who she rarely saw and his sixth concubine (what?!?!). Her youth was informed by her absentee father, her mother’s poverty, and the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong… She recalls her mother shielding her and her brother from the bombing raids and living in a corridor of a rice shop in a Hong Kong slum. Her greatest dream was of being financially independent of men, and fortunately she had a mother that believed in the importance of education for her daughter. This was the 1940s and 50s, when, for the most part, the education of women was neither considered necessary nor important. Wu once dreamed of becoming a painter, but after reading a biography of our January HerStory subject, Marie Curie, she decided to devote herself to the study of physics. After high school, she received a full scholarship to Vassar College, and traveled alone (by boat!) from Hong Kong to get to New York. While there, along with the shock of living on a prestigious college campus in America (she likened it to feeling like a princess), she also experienced both the best (a visit to the White House and an audience with Jackie Kennedy!!) and the worst (a visit to the Supreme Court where she was faced with the choice of entering a “whites” or a “colored” restroom) of America. In 1963, she went on to study for both an MA and a PhD at Harvard, where she faced some hardcore sexism (including getting kicked out of a congratulatory luncheon for graduates at Harvard Yard, among many other overt and covert instances of harassment), and is currently an Enrico Fermi Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin. Her decision not to have children was a direct result of the sexism inherent in that time. She and her husband had long talks about starting a family, and ultimately realized that her career would be over the moment she announced a pregnancy. Sad but true.

There are seventeen elementary, building-block-y particles predicted by the Standard Model, which is the ruling theory of physics. Wu was instrumental in discovering three of them, including the Higgs Boson in 2012, commonly known as the “God particle.” Physicists believe that the Higgs is the particle that gives mass to matter. Without it, nothing that we know would exist, including ourselves. Mind-bending, isn’t it? 

In 1974, she was on the Nobel-prize-winning team that led to the discovery of the Charm Quark. We googled “charm quarks for dummies” and got a kid’s science website that proved to be super helpful in our understanding of these elementary particles. Quarks are the basic building blocks for protons and neutrons. They are teensy things, and the six types (up, down, charm, strange, top, and bottom) are called “flavors.” Yum.

In 1979, Wu was the leading figure in the discovery of the Gluon. Gluons are a type of Boson, and are known as the force-carrier between Quarks. One of the best things we read in our research is that a bunch of gluons bound together is called a glueball.

After all of this research into Sau Lan Wu and particle physics, we were extra-inspired to create a colorway that reflected our favorite of her discoveries: the Charm Quark. Like the three primary colors of light, Quarks can be red, green, and blue, and when mixed, they create white light. All of this, plus a bunch of other micro-microscopic movement and quarkiness (get it? quirkiness???) is happening inside every proton and neutron out there. Which is what we think we achieved on this skein. We do want to remind everyone that true red is a son-of-a-gun, dye-wise, and sometimes, even with the extra rinsing we perform on a colorway like Charm Quark, some skeins may have a bit of extra red. If your red does spread a bit, let’s get physics-cal with it and think about those quark pairs and how sometimes, they stretch themselves to the very limits, without breaking. But sometimes, they break. If yours break a bit, it’s just physics, baby.

If you’d like to take more of a fun foray into particle physics, we totally recommend spending a bit of time with Physics Girl (http://physicsgirl.org/). She has loads of videos and blog posts, explaining concepts that will blow your minds in a fun and easy-to-digest way. Along with a few geared-toward-children science websites, Dianna Cowern’s fun videos helped us to sort-of-kind-of understand what we’re talking about here. 

WIP Wednesday—a day late and a sleeve short

Well, my lack of reading skills struck again. I was supposed to knit x rows between increase rounds and knit -x so the increase was way too fast. Last night I ripped it out and started again this morning. My new game plan is to have a pencil and make hash marks for how many rows I’ve knit. I have the attention span of a gnat, or more likely I’m constantly interrupted and can’t remember what I was just doing! (project details really fast: Little Weekender by Adventure Du Jour, yarn is Bulky in Unicorn Giggles. This batch is a very muddy version.)Ripppppp out the sleeve!

Two different skeins, but looking pretty good for a match. And really, I love this yarn soooo much I  don’t mind all the reknitting I’ve been doing. I’m choosing to look at it as an opportunity to learn new tricks to take to the next pattern. I’m 90% sure I’ll be knitting one of these in my size, so I’ll be knitting another one soon enough!I couldn’t keep my knits and my purls where they needed to be!!! There were plenty of reasons to rip back 😉

Time for a change of scenery! Don’t worry, I cast on new socks that didn’t require any brain power! I’m using Shannon’s Winter Weekend Socks. The yarn I’m using is Victory DK in our first HerStory color, Radio Active Rainbow!! They are growing so fast!!! I have about an inch and a half until I get to the heel. For the moment they’re going to sit in my stack of socks that are to the heel. But that’s a story for another day 😉