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 😉

Bubble Bath Day!

Y’all know how I like to keep it sassy, so this year we started the Sassy Holidays Club!! Once a month we’ll send a new color, to the yarn shops listed below, that is inspired by a holiday in that month.

These super special skeins of Victory Fingering will be available at the following local yarn stores:

  • Cozy
  • Elgin Knit Works
  • Ewe-nique Knits
  • For Yarn’s Sake
  • Knot Another Hat Shop
  • Loop
  • Needles Rochelle
  • Tangled Purls
  • The Knitters Nest
  • The Tinsmith’s Wife
  • Threads & Ewe
  • Yarn Shop Santa Cruz
  • Yarnz4Ewe

January has Bubble Bath Day at the beginning of the month and I really couldn’t think of a more fitting color for the month! Baths are the best in the winter, trying to get warm and relaxed after a busy day. The colors hint at the iridescent colors of bubbles, and it’s just the happiest!

 

A dear friend of mine introduced me to Korean skin care, and it’s fair to say I’m a bit obsessed. Not crazy about taking a bath, take a moment to do something nice for yourself and your skin! A little bit of love goes a long way.

Mmmmmm and lavender might just be my favorite scent ever. My big summer goal is to make it to a lavender festival. And maybe roll around in the field 😉 There’s a chance I’m counting down the days to summer tonight!

What do you do for self care? What’s feels like a quick easy thing to do and what’s a more luxurious take? Some times for me, cleaning the bathroom feels luxurious to get to that bath! And at the end I still have a clean bathroom!!

HerStory January: Marie Curie

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are feeling downright electrified by our 2018 HerStory line-up. We’ve been scouring the web and our feminist books for the best and the brightest international women of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and we’re starting out with one of the true greats, Marie Curie. We do want to share that, although we have great respect for the women of STEM, we are not necessarily STEM folk ourselves, so we’ll be discussing things we only nebulously understand in these monthly love letters. Do bear with us if we get some of the facts confused…

Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867 to a family with a strong belief in the importance and power of education and a defiantly pro-Polish-independence-from-Russia-bent, Marie Curie moved to Paris as a young woman to further her educational career. Her pre-Paris life involved family, schooling, and a bit of resistance; at that time, Poland was a country divided. Her native Warsaw was under control of the Russians, and after making some noise there, she felt the need to leave Warsaw for Austrian-controlled (and friendlier-to-the-Polish-independence-cause) Cracow.

After moving to Paris, where she ended up spending much of the rest of her adult life, she enrolled in the University of Paris and met Pierre Curie (her future husband and co-conspirator in all things radioactivity). This is where the power couple began the research that led to the winning of her first Nobel Peace Prize, in Physics, which she shared with her husband and Henri Becquerel, who discovered radiation. In the work that led to the couple’s joint 1903 Nobel prize, Marie and Pierre isolated polonium (named after Marie’s beloved Poland) and radium, furthering the scientific community’s understanding of radiation. Her second Nobel Prize was bestowed for Chemistry in 1911, for more work in radioactivity. Marie was one smart and driven cookie.

A scientific pioneer for her entire adult life and career, Marie Curie was the first woman to ever win a Nobel prize, and the first person of any gender to win two. She was also the first female professor at the University of Paris, and the first woman to be entombed at the Pantheon on her own merits. And this was all during the late 1800s and early 1900s, when women all over the world were fighting for the rights to make their marks (not that that’s much different than what’s happening now, but this was the time of the worldwide Women’s Suffrage Movement, so it’s not like Marie entered these situations on equal footing with her male colleagues).

During WW2, Marie focused her energies on ensuring that battlefield doctors had access to safe places to operate on injured soldiers as quickly as possible. She researched the intersection between radiology, anatomy, and auto mechanics (of all things!) to develop mobile radiology units that could easily be deployed to the front lines. These were quickly known as Petites Curies, after her. The saving of the lives of countless French soldiers can be traced back to Marie’s tireless work on this front.

Although the study and practical applications of radiation were the driving force in her life, unfortunately the dangers were neither understood nor really known. She died at the age of 66 from a blood disorder that was later believed to be a direct result of her long-term exposure to radioactive elements.

We chose the most radioactive colors we could think of for our Radioactive Rainbow colorway. It’s eye-searingly bright, in the most delightful way, and if you look closely, you can see glimmers of polonium, and radium, and that spark of whatever it is that Marie had that made her push forward and keep working and strive for the best when the deck seemed to be stacked against her.

WIP Wednesday!

Hey y’all!! I’ve been needle deep in Little Weekender by Adventure Du Jour Designs! I’m using Knitted Wit Bulky in Unicorn Giggles. This is our super wash merino Bulky, not our Big Sky Bulky– a Targhee non super wash. This is also a very muddy Unicorn Giggles, but I’m obsessed. I’m doing size 6 for Frances, but secretly I’m hoping it doesn’t fit her and I can keep it as a sample. I’ve knit the front in one skein and had a teeny bit left over. The back is taller so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to knit the whole way in one skein. I am not alternating skeins, call me a dare devil!

Fun fact about me, I’m a terrible reader. I mean, I read a ton. Of romance novels. But I don’t do well with reading instructions. Over drinks with a teacher friend we tipsily diagnosed me as an auditory learner. I used to be anyways. I think part of it is I haven’t been in a learning situation in a while, so I’m out of the habit. Anyways, trying new patterns is a tough chore for me. You might have noticed I tend to knit the same thing over and over again. Once I have it figured out I don’t have to study the instructions as closely. I can intuit what needs to happen. The same with sewing. I can’t tell you how many mistakes I’ve made because I don’t read the instructions, or don’t slow down to read them thoroughly. For 2018 I really want to work on this skill. Teacher people: if you have an adult idea on reading comprehension let me know! Okay, but back to Little Weekender. It’s knit in Bulky so a quick project. The pattern isn’t super long so it wasn’t super intimidating to read through. And it’s knit in 4 pieces, front/back/sleeves. There’s also an adult version of this sweater, My Weekender, and I figure this is a good practice for the real deal when I make mine!Oh look! I did the side column wrong and had to drop stitches! No worries, I picked them all up and knit it right. Almost. I had to work it out two more times and finally got it right! Are there any projects that you haven’t tackled because it was intimidating? Or are you a fearless crafter? I’m excited about these successes to build confidence to tackle more projects! Okay, I have three more inches to go on the back! I’m going back in!

We’re Hiring!

Hello fantastic people!! We have an opening for a full time position. The job is a little this, a little that, a lot of work and fun! You’ll be winding off yarn, rewinding yarn, labeling, and shipping orders. It’s a lot of work on your feet, lifting, and moving product around. This job requires flexibility (mostly emotionally when working with rewinding yarn) and a sense of humor.

We work 9-5, M-F, but can be flexible with the schedule. We’ll train you, we recognize this is a pretty specific skill set. That being said, this is a manufacturing job. You’ll be doing the same thing over and over and over. And over again. Recognizing economy of motion, and how to speed up your process once you have the skill down is very important.

Please send your resume to info@knittedwit.com, sending it anywhere else will get it deleted. Resumes need to be received by 1/18/18. We look forward to hearing from you!

#TIMESup

Did y’all catch the Golden Globe awards? It was epic. Go watch Oprah’s speech. It felt like the salve my soul needed after processing #metoo. Catch Natalie Portman calling out the all male nominations in the directors category. So many inspired speeches; this award show was revitalizing to me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. I go on walk/attempted runs at night in my neighborhood and I feel like I leave the house prepared. I give myself a good pep talk about shouting no and fighting back if I was attacked. Which got me down the thought rabbit hole of saying no. I feel like saying no wasn’t something instilled in me. Is that my upbringing? A generational thing? A female thing? I took a self defense class in my early 20’s and I couldn’t finish the course. The act of saying no was startling and overwhelming. One time, Eric’s Oma was in a wee car accident and in the hospital over night for monitoring. She told the doctors no to asprin because she didn’t want a blood thinner. I had NO idea you could say no to a doctor. As a mother I’ve been told by countless memes to embrace the chaos and say yes to more. Y’all. I don’t want to say yes. I want to say no. Or at least only say yes when I’m emotionally/spiritually/physically prepared for the adventure. Anyways, this was the rabbit hole my brain took tonight to process #metoo and #TIMESup. I don’t have any answers or plans, but I’m going to keep practicing finding my voice and calling bull shit on sexist behavior around me.

Another way we process current events around Knitted Wit is with Colors for a Cause. Our newest one is #TIMESup and we’ll be donating 10% to National Women’s Law Center. They will be the organization administrating the funds raised by the #TIMESup go fund me.

#2018MakeNine

Have y’all seen that hashtag floating around? #2018MakeNine is dreamed up by Home Row Fiber Co, she calls it a gentle challenge for makers. For me, it’s the ticket to set some intentions for 2018 and make a plan. I find with out a plan, nothing gets done! And boy howdy, do I have a lot planned for 2018.

I like to pick a phrase or word that helps me focus on what I want to accomplish for the year. For 2018 I’m focusing on Makers Gonna Make. And I have a lot I want to make. I want to make quilts, yarn, accessories and garments, time for my family and my home, and time to be outside. I snagged four quilt photos, but I have a few more that are in the to make pile. I honestly don’t know what’s a reasonable amount to accomplish, but I’m setting myself up for success with Sewing Sundays once a month with some sewing friends. We’re doing it on the first Sunday of the month so I have the week to figure out a game plan and make the most of our time together. I think I’m going to see if I can get some cutting in so I’m actually sewing on Sunday.

I want to get back in to spinning yarn. I think. Spinning is something I enjoy but tends to fall to the bottom of the crafting list. I’m trying out a friend’s electric spinner to see if that’s a better fit for my current life. What I’m realizing is I need to read less and watch more TV so I can get through more spins and knits! For knitting I want to learn how to do brioche knitting. I’m on the hunt for a class, I do much better learning a new technique in person. The other mega knitting goal is to learn to do toe up heels from the sock master Shannon Squire. I am not exaggerating when I say I have about a dozen socks knit up to the heel. I can cast on with the best of them and knit and knit and knit. Time to turn the heel!

With all the kiddos getting older and a little more in control of their bodily functions, its getting easier to travel again. I’m planning for a summer full of lake time, hiking, and camping. Sundays will be fundays around here!

A big goal more related to Knitted Wit is blogging and being here. I’m calling it slow social media 😉 I want to tell you the stories behind our colors, because there almost always is one. I want to see what you’re making and share it with all our friends, too! Here is to a successful, colorful, joyful 2018!

Welcome!

After years of blogging sporadically, I’m hoping to be back at it on a semi-regular basis so I can share some of what goes on behind the scenes at Knitted Wit. Color inspiration, favorite patterns that pair well with our yarn bases, and sneak peeks of what’s cooking in the dyepots are just some of the things I plan to share with you.

I’ll be back soon with some of the fun and inspiring things we’re working on for 2018, and in the meantime, Happy Crafting!