i’m being followed

anne wrote this at around evening time:

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all winter long, my friends out west have been crowing about the fine weather they are having; temperatures in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s, clear skies, and a complete lack of snow.

until, of course, it was time for me to head to denver—then it snowed.

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i booked a flight for a day early, just in case winter weather encroached on my travel—a production schedule waits for  no storms or planes. since the weather was clear by then, i ended up with a whole day to get some work done and explore the city.

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i headed out first thing for a morning run; i have been much too cooped up inside at home. it was wonderful to run alongside the river as the sun got warmer and warmer.

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before i knew it, i was actually out near TAXI, the studios where craftsy shoots our classes; traveling by car on previous trips, i had no idea it was within running distance.

is that blue sky amazing or what?

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even with the altitude change, i felt really good, though my pace was a little slow. all fine with me, hehe. afterward i did a little work for a few hours, so i could take off in the late afternoon.

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my friends luci and scott drove down from ft. collins to visit and took me out to the arsenal nature preserve, a wildlife area just outside the city.

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we spent a couple of hours wandering paths and roadways through the preserve, watching for wildlife and appreciating the stunning spaces just a stone’s throw from the heart of denver.

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the first thing we saw when we drove in actually was this herd of bison, just off the side of the road; they were actually a lot closer than they look. my first thought was, “i wonder if anyone collects their fiber??” once yarn ho yarnie, always a yarn ho yarnie.

deer, prairie dogs, and bunnies abounded; we also saw a few cool looking hawks.

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mostly it was just wonderful to hold my face to the sun and feel the balmy air (50 degrees!!); feels like it’s been years since i did that! eventually though, the air did begin to chill as the sun sank toward the mountain tops and we reluctantly headed back to the car. we spent the rest of the evening over a really nice dinner at work & class; the perfect end to a fine and refreshing one-day vacation.

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this morning it was back to reality, as i had my first day of production for my next craftsy class. up at the crack of dawn and to the gym (too dark at that hour to run outdoors, though the weather was still warm enough).

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knowing it might be a long day though, i did manage after breakfast to take photos of my current knitting projects in the morning sunshine. on the plane i started the back of my natty sweater, which i am knitting in our better breakfast DK in the muesli shade (oops, looks like we are out at the moment, but we should be getting more soon).

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i left my two finished sleeves at home; they need to be blocked, but you can see how strongly the texture stands out, even in such a soft fabric. i think the overall effect is going to be cute.

i will admit that by the time i got on the plane, i was so wound up that i suffered a bit from both project ADD and eventually, sleepiness from lack of rest over the previous few days. even though i had a nice chunk of knitting time ahead, i didn’t get a whole lot done on any one thing.

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i did manage to begin a sleeve with that gorgeous tayet fingering yarn from spirit trail that i gave you a peek of last week. this midnight blue is so up my alley and a color i don’t have in my sweater wardrobe yet. i think you’ll be happy when you see the design i’m  knitting with it.

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i’m kind of crawling along on my reversible little shawl, but i’m allowing myself t take my time—right now i’m much more focused on producing some sweaters patterns while the weather is cold enough to really enjoy knitting them. there will be plenty of time for lacy bits in a couple of months. that said, i do plan to add a row or two whenever the urge hits; the yarn is so soft and delicious, sometimes i just want to feel it run though my fingers for a little while.

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soon after organizing all my photos for this post, it was time to head into the studio for the afternoon. this will be my home for the next couple of days as we put together a class about sweater making essentials. this one will be full of advice, tips and tricks, and useful techniques for making a successful sweater.

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the day started out well, we were on a roll and getting everything up and running for a full afternoon of shooting. but right after lunch, what should appear?

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i am NOT kidding. it’s following me everywhere i go. i mean, talk about luck, right??

and it didn’t get any better as the day progressed either—by 4 pm we were all sent home; hopefully this won’t put us behind much tomorrow.

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it took almost an hour to get back to my hotel (remember, it’s within running distance) and i was really glad to get into warm, dry comfy pants to settle in for the evening.

i plan to knit on my sweater some more while watching the premier of kosher soul, starring the children of our dear friend nancy. it looks like a lot of fun—you should watch!

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back home, david is working hard on the start for his blanket statement club knit—he’s knitting the love squared version. someone has created a thread in our BNK ravelry group devoted to his progress and all of us are following and cheering him on. me most of all—david doesn’t share much with me about his knitting; i have to read about it online!

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barb—a stripper with a plan—is sailing along on hers as well; she makes sure david keeps working away on his.

well, speaking of knitting, i think i’m ready for some myself—time to get comfortable and get my needles out. i’ll be back as soon as i can with more; it will be a busy few days, but i’ll be back as soon as i get a chance.

cold brings out the worst(ed) in us

anne wrote this around lunchtime:

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at just about this same time last year, our lucky BNK clubbies were discovering a delicious new yarn offering, exclusive to the club; kent worsted, which is everything we love about kent—soft, airy, beautiful sheen—and pouffier, squishier, chunkier.

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with the cold hitting all-time lows for the season, this makes all kinds of sense now—we need cover. so it is with great pleasure that i’m finally able to release the exclusive designs that went with that wonderfully wooly stuff.

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because we need style too, i designed a deliciously cozy trio of pieces to make the most of this incredible yarn. first, carlsbad—a BIG cowl with BIG cabled texture to knit in two sizes, short and long.

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but it doesn’t end there; carslbad has a little secret that adds up to more than meets the eye. see that dishy slouchy shape?

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short-row sections are worked into the circumference to add luscious folds, the better to keep warmth where it belongs, near you.

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the shaping also works with the length to make the cowl a little more versatile; in a windy dash to the parking lot a block away, pull it up to keep your ears warm and save your hair.

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OR if you’re a hat person, knit yourself a topper for that purpose—hills in jamul. this tam has all the same features in a littler package.

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the same great texture, highlighted by the sheen of the kent worsted, and a nice slump at the back, encouraged by its soft hand.

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BTW, if the mention of short row shaping scares you off and you prefer a less slouchy look, simply eliminate those sections from the pattern—they are worked only as inserts (like a stripe) and are easily skipped. many of our club members took liberties with their own accessory projects and you can check those out on ravelry here, here, and here.

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well now, a cowl and a hat are  a great start to battling the kind of ferocious cold we’ve been having this month, but what we really need, is to keep hands warm when running, snowblowing, or shoveling. and we all know that gloves are a bust when it comes to keeping fingers warm.

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what we need are good mittens, like these torrey pines. the fabric here is knit more densely (the better to to repel water), but using the same light, airy kent worsted—the better to trap air near the skin for insulation. that same fabulous texture along the back of the hand is handsome, yes, but also tightens the fabric up to create a windproof panel just where it’s needed most.

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you might be tempted to keep these on the front seat of the car so you can pull them in a hurry to brush away snow, but leave them lying about at your own risk—just saying’.

sarah is wearing the hills in jamul hat in size medium, the carlsbad cowl in size tall (above) and size small (below), and the torrey pines mittens in adult size large, all knit in bare naked wools kent worsted, color driftwood.

we are excited to announce that due to the popularity of kent worsted with our club crowd, we have brought it in as a permanent part of our lineup AND we are making it available in three additional shades:

left to right: whitecaps, tide pool, and mussel shell

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erica has put together a kit for this new trio of kent worsted favorites, which includes the compilation of all three patterns with your choice of two or more yarn skeins in any available shade.

patterns are also available in my ravelry pattern shop; where you will also find the BNK 2014 eBook, a compilation of nineteen total patterns for undyed, natural fiber yarns.

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i think it’s fair to say that this trio of warm, fun-to-knit pieces was one of the most popular projects we did in the 2014 bare naked knitspot club and in no small part due to the delicious yarn with which it was paired. i was actually a bit surprised by how much everyone enjoyed the new worsted weight kent and how swiftly they got these projects on the needles.

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kent worsted has all of the same terrific properties of kent DK, which many of our blanket club members are discovering for the first time as they open their boxes of blanket yarn and begin to knit.

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the pearly shades have a luminous glow as if viewed through water or glass; i just love that about them. it makes for fabrics that are cool and sophisticated.

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to make both of our kent yarns, top-quality romney wool is hand selected for softness, luster, color, and springiness.

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farm producers like karin and her son devlin set aside the best of their yearly clip for our yarn. now that wool is right off the sheep—can you believe how beautiful it looks already?

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at the mill, the romney blended with combed merino to make an array of gorgeous shades, then spun in a 2-ply construction to make the most out of its natural its bounce and loft.

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the final yarn is light, springy, and offers incredibly crisp stitch definition, not just in heavily cabled fabrics, but in airy knit/purl combinations as well.

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above, quentin is wearing the creel cowl, knit in kent worsted, color driftwood.

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i can also picture the tide pool shade as a new woodcutter’s toque for david—his go-to snow shoveling hat, with it’s bulletproof barrier of heavily cabled fabric.

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the gobi hat is simplicity itself—it knits up in an evening and is such a perfect gift for the kid who hates everything.

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with matching gobi mittens, you might even get one of those rare smiles you deserve. after all, even cranky kids get cold.

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or these sweet, fat-tire mittens

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did the mention of a cozy blanket start your wheels turning? something to cover your lap on these frigid winter evenings? this wheaten blanket is for you, you, you—maybe in that mussel shell shade, eh?

maybe something bite sized right now? left to right: comfort me, dutch tiles, and caravan (shown here in kent worsted, color driftwood), are just the thing

lots of participants in our ravelry blanket KAL found these lap-sized wonders not only the perfect size for lounging, but so useful around the family room that everyone fought over them. fortunately they are incredibly quick to knit in a few skeins of our worsted weight yarn.

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the new, bigger kent has proved to be easily interchangeable with our confection worsted, so any pattern listing confection as an option will work beautifully in kent as well.

the product page for each shade includes a list of pattern options; erica has also added the kent worsted option to some existing kits, such as comfort medutch tiles, wheaten, or caravan blankets; fat tire mittens, caravan scarf/wrap, and creel cap, cowl, and mitts set.

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enjoy and stay warm—more cold weather is on the way. brrr.

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Designer Spotlight: Thea Colman

laura wrote this around lunchtime:

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Let’s warm things up a bit, shall we?  Come in.  Sit down.  I’ve got Jazz standards playing in the background.  My knitting is within arms reach.

(I hope you brought yours too.)

And of course, my cup o’ coffee is even closer and it’s getting down to the last drop…

Can I offer you something to drink?

Perhaps a spicy Bloody Mary?  I have Champagne, it’s dry and light.  Perfect for a Mimosa if you care for one of those instead.

Maybe I should ask Thea Colman what she suggests… After all, she’s BabyCocktails.

If you follow Thea on instagram (@theacolman) you’ll know that about a week ago she treated herself to this heavenly concoction.  A hot toddy of sorts made with cardamom clove syrup, bourbon and cider.  Mmmm… it sounds comforting and smooth.  (The way I like my Jazz, by the way.)

I first discovered Thea back in 2012 when she exploded onto the scene with none other than Vodka Lemonade.  (Seriously, I’m not talking about a beverage this time…) I’m talking about this:

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At the time, I was working as a sales associate at a yarn shop and all of our Wednesday ladies were oohing and ahhing over the versatility of this Spring cardigan.  Thea knows her market well.  She offers this sweater in sizes that range from 32-52.  Just the other day Anne and I were discussing sweater fit and size.  Not many knitwear designers know how, or rather, don’t really care to offer a sweater design that provides reasonable sizing for the female figure.  Just offering S, M, and L doesn’t cut it.  I’ll even go so far as to quote Ellen Lewis and say “It’s lame.”

Another old adage I like to live by comes to mind… “Do your work with mastery.”  Even mere muggles know that knitters spend hours upon hours creating.  Designers do too, even more so.  But the great knitters and the great designers all have that one thing in common; they do their work with mastery.  They don’t stop until the dream turns real.  They tweak, they muddle, they step away, they come back with new eyes, and somehow they have a finished product that provides us with a certain story.

That story is inspiration that was given life!  It’s been released and now it’s tangible.  I can see it.  You can feel it.  It’s not an idea in someone’s mind – now it’s music you can hear, it’s art you can see, it’s a knitted garment that you can wear!

And for any person who gets excited by the idea of creating and being creative – Designers can create an energy that we easily get drunk on. (Well, I’ll speak for myself.)  At any rate,  as a knitwear designer, you’re inspiring others to create your vision.  It’s a talent that few execute efficiently.  But when they do – I find myself saying “I gotta have a piece of that.”    And that’s EXACTLY what happened when Thea finished this beauty:

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I mean for crying out loud… Every time I look at this, I imagine it’s the same way a scotch drinking man looks at a slinky lounge singer.  (Blame it on the 1920′s Boardwalk Empire Jazz that’s still on da repeat over here.)  I’m coveting it so badly.  I can’t stop.  I’m practically drooling in my coffee.  I want.  I need.  I must have.  It’s my one desire.  A knitwear designer hasn’t made me feel this alive in quite a while.

I got so excited that I didn’t even introduce the two of you properly…  Knitters of the Knitting Universe … Get ready for World Domination.  (Are your sticks at the ready?)  This is Ommegang by Thea Colman and it’s the bee’s knees.

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To me what sets this garment apart from all of the knitting patterns out there right now is this:  It’s classic.  It’s not going anywhere.  It’s a garment that will stay in your closet forever.  It’s modern, inviting, and oh-so-cozy.  (I think a lot of the coziness specifically has to do with the yarn choice.)  Allow me to wax poetically about Bare Naked Wools, because the stitch definition achieved by Thea’s use of BNW Stone Soup DK (shown in Marble) is also what I think makes this a show-stoppah.

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The garment is detailed.  The cables need you attention.  And there’s nothing I like better than sitting by myself, cup o’coffee, Saturday morning, slow jazz, and a fantastic cable knitting project.  Mmmmm… pretty satisfying if you ask me.

On top of that…  This can easily be dressed down or dressed up.  I LOVE my tights.  Ask the girls at Knitspot – all you ever see me in are my tights.  Make this into a tunic length, and sport some tights with some sexy high heels.  You have yourself a killah outfit.  If you want to wear the boyfriend jeans, it’s gonna go great with those.  And um… if you just want to wear it without pants…  I’m not gonna disapprove.  You’re going to look mahvelous dahling.  Just stay inside for that.  I don’t want you to catch a cold because I conjured up a crazy idea…  Just sayin’.

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Sarah – Sarimor on Ravelry created this beautiful Ommegang using Thea’s larger cowl neck option and I LOVE the results!

Thea – Lady friend… you outdid yourself.  I wish you so much success with this pattern and I look forward to everything you’re going to create in the future!  I speak on behalf of the entire Knitspot team when I say it has been an absolute pleasure collaborating with you on this design.  You created something truly special.  Dare I say, it’s The Cat’s Meow.

Happy Knitting, guys!

L

raise a frothy glass

anne wrote this around lunchtime:

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thea colman has outdone herself with her new release, ommegang—just look at this gorgeous asymmetrical tunic design. and she chose to knit it in our very own stone soup DK yarn.

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in her pattern description, thea mentions that the marble shade really spoke to her and it’s true—that shade has a really interesting sparkle to it.

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but then barb and i got on ravelry last night to check out the test knitter’s projects and wow, there are some stunning examples in other shades too! glennae and sariMor chose the slate shade, while blueberryhill went with marble and made some mods to the pattern. carie knit hers from kent DK in white sand and it’s spectacular, too.

what beautiful design and stitch work everyone has done with this project; thank you everyone!

we borrowed thea’s prototype when she brought it to rhinebeck and david took some photos of it on sarah back in the fall

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i love it with that little slouch potato cap, also knit in stone soup DK in the slate shade.

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thank you thea, for designing an incredible sweater in our yarn! read more about thea at her blog, baby cocktails, or peruse her designs on ravelry. over the weekend, laura will be turning her designer spotlight on thea so we can learn more about her and her design work.

i have more to add but i have to run to a meeting, so i’m going to have to come back later to add that, haha. busy busy . . .

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and cold (that’s the inside temperature on my kitchen windowsill). we all NEED a nice warm cozy sweater.

well, at least we got the furnace fixed with not too much trouble; it was a chilly few days earlier this week.

ok really, i gotta run, sorry; be back later!