HerStory June 2019: Nnedi Okorafor

Our June HerStory recipient, Nnedi Okorafor, is a Nigerian-American sci-fi and fantasy writer who delves into what she refers to as Africanfuturism in her varied works. She is a second-generation Nigerian-American who spent her formative years in the midwest, kicking ass and taking names both athletically AND mathletically. She fell in love with science fiction and fantasy at a young age, and considers Nigeria, which she visits frequently, to be her muse. It was her bout with scoliosis at 13, and the resulting short-term paralyzation, that inspired her deep-dive into creative writing, and caused a “what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up” swerve from entomology to fiction writing. 

Her books, and the histories and backstories of her characters, are deeply inspired by African themes and culture, and thus are so very different than the histories and cultures that have long dominated the genres she writes in. Both sci-fi and fantasy have long been the realm of the white male, focusing on Euro-centric histories (see: JRR Tolkein, CS Lewis, etc), and it’s only recently that women and BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People/Person(s) of Color) have been gaining a foothold in the mainstream of these genres. Reading Nnedi Okorafor’s work, one gets a sense for the magic and mysticism that informs the lives of her characters. She deftly weaves deep-rooted tradition with far-reaching technology (as in the Binti series) or a magical world that’s co-existing quietly with non-magical society (as in the Akata Witch series). And then there’s the straight-up feminism inherent in her books. Her heroines are young women, working against a still-existent and oh, so pervasive mysogyny that threatens to stymy their abilities to reach their full potential. But, through hard work, inherent skill, and learned knowledge, they survive and thrive. Much like real-life heroines like Nnedi Okorafor.

Our June HerStory colorway is inspired by the book cover of Akata Witch, the first book in Nnedi Okorafor’s young adult series about a young woman coming into her own in a world she never knew existed (but explains so much). It’s been referred to as the “Nigerian Harry Potter,” but it’s so much more. The story is so rich and beautiful, and Sunny’s journey is so amazing and fraught with stress and tension. If you are a fan of sci-fi and fantasy (or just a fan of good storytelling), grab the book and cast on a pair of socks to honor it and Nnedi Okorafor today.  

May Sassy Holidays 2019: National Lemonade Day

The first Sunday in May (which happens to fall on May 5th this year) is National Lemonade Day. Not only is this a day to celebrate the delicious beveragey harbinger of summertime, it’s also a day to celebrate young entrepreneurs, by encouraging the humble lemonade stand (or any youth-driven entrepreneurial initiative). We are fully of the camp that adding a bit of pink to almost anything is a good thing, so we are sharing two very different recipes for Pink Lemonade; one more involved, one less involved. Both will be absolutely delicious. The first one we found here: https://www.thereciperebel.com/easy-homemade-pink-lemonade-recipe/. The second one we made up.

Pink Lemonade Recipe (more involved):

  • 1 cup granulated sugar.
  • 3/4 cup water.
  • 1/3 cup lemon peel strips (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 cup freshly squeeze lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberry puree.
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberry puree.
  • 2 cups water, either still or bubbly.

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add water and sugar. Bring to a simmer and whisk until sugar is dissolved.

2. Add lemon peel strips, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced by almost half. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Place a fine mesh sieve over a pitcher. Pour the lemon syrup through the sieve into the pitcher, followed by the lemon juice, strawberry puree, and raspberry puree. You may have to use a spatula to stir the liquids around and press through, but it will work.

4. Chill in the refrigerator until cold. 

5. Serve with desired amount of water, club soda, and ice cubes (roughly 2 cups). 

Pink Lemonade Recipe (less involved):

  • Lemonade mix of your choice, plus the appropriate water.
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberry puree.
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberry puree.

1. Mix up lemonade mix in pitcher, leaving room for puree.

2. Place a fine mesh sieve over a pitcher. Pour the strawberry and raspberry puree through. You may have to use a spatula to stir the liquids around and press through, but it will work.

4. Chill in the refrigerator until cold. Drink and enjoy!

HerStory May 2019: Emilie Flöge

Here’s the thing about our May HerStory recipient, Emilie Flöge: she was amazeballs on her own, and we are plotting out pretty much all of the sewing projects in her style as we type. But, she was one of those women lost to history, consigned to a supportive role in a man’s story. Most of us recognize the name Gustav Klimt, and even if we don’t, his iconic painting style is surely familiar. But less familiar to us is likely his companion, his partner in life AND artistic expression, Emilie Flöge. And this is a not-uncommon predicament we find ourselves in here at Knitted Wit as we explore HerStory: the artistic (or scientific, or insert-anything-here) talent of a woman is often hidden behind the man she was associated with during her lifetime. Not because she objectively has less talent, and not because her entire reason for being was to “support her man,” but because we live in a patriarchal society, shored up by white supremacy and misogyny. 

At any rate, we are in love. Emilie Flöge was a trailblazer. She eschewed the established rules of fashion design AND what a woman’s life was “supposed” to look like. She threw away restrictive corsets and close-cut silhouettes in favor of voluminous a-line dresses and empire waists. She used bright colors and bold prints. Along with her two sisters, she founded a retail store that catered to women who were also status-quo-breakers, and created absolutely amazing pieces of wearable art that broke the rules, fashion-wise. She never married, and had a lifelong partnership with Klimt that seems to have been based on mutual respect and admiration. They collaborated and inspired each other; she’s often referred to as his “muse,” but it seems more likely that each was the other’s muse, in a very egalitarian way. The reasons she’s not a household name whereas he is are multifold, but come down to what she was making (clothing for women) and what sex she was. Plain and simple. 

So, drink in the beauty of Klimt’s painting of her. Realize that the colorful and flowing pieces his subjects wore were directly inspired by the colorful and flowing pieces his life partner created. And let’s all try to learn more about these artists on the margins, and bring them to the center of the stories, where they belong. And let’s all make long, flowing dresses in honor of Emilie Flöge, ok? Our Boho Chic colorway is directly inspired by the painting Klimt made of her. She’s powerful, and beautiful, and colorful. Let’s use this colorway to make something that will reflect all that Emilie Flöge was.

Socks on Vacay 2019

We are getting ready for Socks on Vacay 2019, and this year, we’re turning it up a notch, by offering some yarn-shop-only incentives AND by starting it a bit earlier than last year! This year, the whole event will kick off on Wednesday, May 1st (instead of Memorial Day), and, if you take part through your participating yarn shop, you’ll have the opportunity to collect awesome prizes!

Starting about now, shops will be receiving their first four National Parks color ways in our Sock base. They also have the cutest little postcards that indicate the National Parks color ways for 2019. If you purchase a skein of yarn a month from your LYS (so, four skeins throughout the summer), you will get an LYS-exclusive Knitted Wit patch to sew on your jean jacket or backpack or any old thing. If you purchase all four skeins every month from your LYS (so, sixteen skeins total throughout the summer), you’ll get an LYS-exclusive Knitted Wit enamel pin! SO EXCITING!!

And that’s not all, because we’re also doing the Instagram-centered #socksonvacay Summertime Sock Knitting Extravaganza, where you knit socks using our yarn and Shannon Squire’s sock patterns to be eligible for prizes and bragging rights. The KAL portion of the event begins on May 1st and runs through Labor Day, so get your needles ready, folks. Shannon will be releasing her fourth Socks for Busy B’s collection starting Thursday, May 9th, and, like last year, the pattern releases will be staggered for three weeks, and, like last year, the pricing will go up with each release. Make sure you’re signed up for her newsletter to get all of the details!

Also just like last year, we aren’t entirely sure what kinds of things we’ll be looking for during the IG KAL, but to give you an idea, for the last couple of years, 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 Wednesday, May 1st and Monday, September 2nd, 2019 (aka May 1st 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 #socksonvacay2019 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 May 1st, we’ll try not to ding you.

We’re getting so excited about spending our summer surrounded by sock knitting once again, and sure hope you’ll join us! And please do check out the yarns at your LYS, because they are a treasure trove of amazingness (and they might even be hosting some sock KAL nights throughout the summer!)

April Sassy Holidays 2019: April Fool’s Day

For our April Sassy Holiday, we’re celebrating the changing season, relishing the hint of cool in the air, looking forward to shorter days and cozy fires… Ahhh, who doesn’t love Fall? Especially after a long, hot summer, when all a fiber crafter wants to do is curl up on the couch under a hand-made blanket and make, make, make. Our Sassy colorway, Pumpkin Spice Latte, is just the colorway your fall-craving self needs… what? What’s that you say? We are heading toward Spring, not Fall? Well…

April Fools!!!

We hope you enjoy this decidedly UN-Autumnal color, Pumpkin Spice Latte, and giggle to yourself while crafting with it. Good luck trying to get your hands on an actual Pumpkin Spice Latte, however, since we are MONTHS away from enjoying those once more.

To make your own Pumpkin Spice Latte at home, gather and mix together the following:

  • 1 cup milk, either cow’s, coconut, almond, macadamia, or other
  • 1 TBSP canned or fresh pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or ½ tsp cinnamon and a sprinkle each of cloves and nutmeg)
  • ¼ cup strong coffee or espresso
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup or to taste

Blend until smooth, then heat in a saucepan, stirring often. Pour into your favorite mug and add whipped cream or coconut cream to the top. Enjoy and pretend it’s fall, y’all.

HerStory April 2019: Maud Wagner

There are so many acts that, once upon a time (and not that long ago), were considered revolutionary for women. Wearing pants. Having short hair. Wanting to vote. Working outside the home. Choosing not to marry. And tattooing. Which brings us to our April HerStory recipient. (Hell, tattooing is STILL considered a revolutionary act for women, and it’s 2019!!) Maud Wagner was an American circus performer (cool!) and, more importantly for HerStory, the first known female tattoo artist in the United States.

Born in Kansas in 1877, Maud Stevens began traveling on the carnival circuit, perfecting her techniques as an aerialist, acrobat, and contortionist. She traveled the country, also a revolutionary act for a woman in those days. In 1904, she performed at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (kind of a World’s Fair type of situation), and there she met Gus Wagner, aka The Tattooed Globetrotter. According to legend, Maud agreed to go on a date with Gus in exchange for a tattoo lesson, and the rest, as they say, is history. Before long, Maud was covered in tattoos, and the Wagners were a power couple on the carnival circuit. Maud began tattooing, along with her circus work, focusing on hand-poked tattoos as opposed to using the now-available electric tattoo guns, precursors to what we have now. She and her husband have also been widely lauded as influential in bringing tattooing inland in the United States; until they began their tattoo-and-tour situation, most tattoos were done in coastal towns. 

As anyone who has fallen headfirst into tattoo obsession (Shannon and Lorajean have both had this experience), once Maud started, she didn’t want to stop. She was covered up to her neck in tattoos, from all accounts done exclusively by either her mister or herself. She had a daughter, Lovette, who also became a tattooist (she started at age 9!), but was unique in that she was a tattoo artist with no tattoos on her own body. Maud wouldn’t allow Lovette to be tattooed by Gus, and Lovette stated that if she couldn’t get tattooed by her father, she didn’t want to be tattooed at all. 

Old Lines is our Maud Wagner-inspired color; it’s inspired by flash you would see at a tattoo shop. A kind of a tea-stained paper with traditional tattoo colors: mostly red and blue/black, with a little bit of teal and yellow poking through. We’re pretty pleased with how it came out, and are looking way forward to seeing it knit up into your lovely creations. 

HerStory March 2019: Ava DuVernay

Each month this year, we are exploring a different artistic avenue, and for March, we’re heading into the movie theater to spend a bit of time with A va DuVernay. She’s an American director, producer, and screenwriter, best known for 2018’s A Wrinkle in Time. Like many HerStory recipients, Ava DuVernay has a big stack of “firsts” to her name: the first black woman to win the directing award at the Sundance Film Festival (for Middle of Nowhere); the first black female director to have a film nominated for a Golden Globe (for Selma); the first black female director to have a film nominated for an Oscar (again, for Selma); the first black female director to be nominated for an Academy Award for a feature (13th); and the first black female director to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million (for A Wrinkle in Time).

Although our March colorway, Tesseract, celebrates DuVernay’s work on A Wrinkle in Time, it is her life’s work calling out racism and centering the black and female experience in America that secured her place in HerStory. Her work has even inspired what’s known as the “DuVernay test,” which is the race equivalent of the Bechdel test. (The Bechdel test is a way to look at women’s roles in films: are there solely to support the main male characters, or are they are fully-formed characters in their own right?). In 2016, New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis coined the phrase the DuVernay Test, asking whether “African-Americans and other minorities have fully realized lives rather than serve as scenery in white stories.” It is in service to the DuVernay test that we celebrate A Wrinkle in Time for what it has done for characters of color in big film productions. Meg, the main character of the film, is a mixed-race child, and the fact that she is black is just that, a fact. Her blackness is not the central focus of the story; she’s the main character who happens to be black. 

Representation matters, and DuVernay is working every day to help ensure that representation happens. In 2010 DuVernay founded an organization called African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), whose focus was to distribute films made by or focusing on black people. The driving force of her work in this organization is activism. In 2015, the company rebranded itself, and is now ARRAY, bringing into its work the elevation of women filmmakers as well. She has a podcast, The Call-In, centering and showcasing black and female filmmakers.  Last year, she launched the Evolve Entertainment Fund, whose mission is to promote inclusion and provide an opportunity for under-served communities to pursue a dream in the entertainment industry. 

She also continues to create her own projects exploring race. Her 2016 Netflix documentary, 13th, explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the US. The film’s title refers to the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which freed the slaves and prohibited slavery, with the exception of slavery as punishment for a crime. The film has won both critical and popular acclaim, and won an Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special in 2017. 

Ava DuVernay is a force to be reckoned with, and a still-rising star to keep your eyes on. The aesthetic beauty of A Wrinkle in Time was breathtaking, and her commitment to helping other black women rise in the entertainment field is inspiring. We hope you watch one of her films as you knit away on your Tesseract project, although, if you see the air shimmering slightly ahead of you, think twice before bounding into an alternate universe, ok? Unless, of course, the Mrs’ Who, Whatsit, and Which are there with you.

March Sassy Holidays 2019: International Women’s Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day, and on this day and in this month, our major question, answered in a skein of yarn, is (still and always) Only One Day?! That’s what we get? We deserve more, don’t you think?

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day, first observed in 1911, celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all around the world. The day is not country, group, or organization-specific, but rather marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. The theme this year is #balanceforbetter, an effort to deepen gender balance and equality in all aspects of life, all around the world. In order to show support for IWD, the organizers ask that folks share photos of themselves on social media, hands out, palms up, as if balancing two equal weights. The #balanceforbetter effort is a year-long one. 

In light of the conversations surrounding race and white supremacy that have been occurring in our fiber arts community, as well as in the greater world, we are asking all of our Sassy Holidays participants to bring a strong intersectional focus to their celebrations of IWD this year (and every year). Let’s all work toward a reality in which ALL women are experiencing the same balance. All of this starts with us, with a commitment to intersectional feminism. Let’s work together, and ensure that it’s not for Only One Day that we focus on balance, but a renewed life-long commitment to true equity and parity. And, while we work on our intersectional feminism, we can enjoy knitting our skeins of Only One Day?!

February Sassy Holidays 2019: Gumdrop Day

This club is exclusive to our Local Yarn Shop partners, so if you see a color way you need, contact your LYS! There is a list of Sassy Holidays-celebrating LYSs on our home page.

Friday, February 15th is National Gumdrop Day! There isn’t much information available on the origins of Gumdrop Day, so we’re going to share some gumdrop facts as we chew on some gumdrops of our very own and journey through Gumdrop Pass on our way up Gumdrop Mountain, playing Candyland with our kiddos…

Gumdrops are chewy, often sugar-coated candies that are well-known around the winter holidays as a treat AND a decoration for gingerbread houses. They come in fruit and spiced versions, and were believed to have been invented in 1801. The largest gumdrop ever created was a bit more than ten pounds (!) The NASA Apollo Command modules were nicknamed “Gumdrops” because of their conical shape (but don’t try to eat those; you’ll get a broken tooth or two!)

Our Gumdrop colorway, perfectly and aptly named Gumdrop, contains the primary Gumdrop colorways, red, yellow, green, and blue. But the real question is, are they the fruit-flavored gumdrops, or the spiced gumdrops?

So, grab your skein, grab a bag of gumdrops, and celebrate this sweetest day!