fluff

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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well, i have lots of photos from the fiber festival that i think you’ll enjoy, so i’m going to hold off one more day on delving into the scarf project in favor of adorable animals and the like.

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saturday dawned dreary and ugly but i was excited to get to the fairgrounds and open up for the day! i love the sheep and wools shows because there is so much to see and do and so many different kinds of knitters and spinners about.

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sally was the first visitor of the day to our booth, which was smart because she wanted a sweater quantity of kent DK in mussel shell. sally just finished knitting herself an illas ciés pullover in ginny sport, but it was too warm to wear it that day.

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our friend cherie arrived right at 9 am to help us out for the day and once we were settled and in a groove, i took the opportunity to run over to the mohair show to see if i could find some fleeces for making our chebris and cabécou yarns.

just a couple of days earlier, carrie from our mill let me know that she was using the last of our silver fleeces that she had on hand (thank you everyone for your poivresel griscarbon, and dragée love!). i told her i could look and see if anything was available while i was at the show.

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i was fortunate to arrive just as the mohair fleece judging was getting underway; what a great opportunity. there i was with all the goat farmers in their rugged jeans and boots, wearing my little cream salt & pepper top and matching amalfi coast skirt, hee-hee—the picture of summer and just begging to be splattered by an ornery, four-footed passerby. but i didn’t, for once, end up a mess.

instead i learned an incredible amount about what makes a great fleece; the judge is particularly interested in colored fleeces, so we all got a real education on that alone. i was not very confident about being the purchaser that day—i know something about nice wool, but i am not an expert like our mill owners are and i was buying for them in this case; yikes!

my strategy usually consists of sticking to ribbon winners if i can—i figure you can’t go wrong with a winner, right?

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but after hearing the judge speak for an hour about fleece characteristics in minute detail, i was armed with knowledge. also, the director of the goat show took me under her wing and introduced me to the fine producer who snagged that there blue ribbon as well as several others.

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turns out they are overloaded with fleeces that they can’t seem to move; not only that, they know our other producer john and have purchased goats from him in the past—which means that at least some of their genetics are the same as what we already spin with (by now i was pinching myself to make sure i wasn’t dreaming and texting furiously back and forth with carrie).

you have to understand—we have at times spent days and weeks on the phone and internet searching for a supplier of colored fiber to tide us over til the next shearing. and here were eric and gabe with a whole herd of brown and silver goats. and they live just over the state line from us in western PA. what a coup!

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i think i saw gabe do an actual double take when i asked how much per pound if i bought all the colored fleeces he had in his stall, haha.

as it turned out, i decided to leave some of the fleeces with him until carrie and robbie could assess the five or six that i purchased—i prefer to let them decide what they like and to deal with the farm directly. that said, it looks like we are about to expand the range of warm brown tones in our mohair lines. YAY!

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friends, meet your (mohair) makers. yes, these are the very goats; just look at those locks . . .

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on the way out, i saw a family who had fleeces in the judging i just attended—aren’t they adorable. i am especially smitten with the little, little boy and his little, little goat—he can’t be more than five years old and i bet he’s even younger—they should win a prize just because they’re SO darn cute!

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can’t help it; i love the sheep too!

back in the booth, cherie and david were rocking it, chatting up knitters and being helpful in every way. the early afternoon was incredibly busy and were just hitting our stride when the fire marshall announced that tornadoes were touching down within a radius too close for comfort. everyone was asked to leave the building and head for the basement under the grandstands—yikes!

we were allowed to stay in our building but we all had to go into the bathrooms for safety. yes, ALL of us in the bathrooms. first it was for 15 minutes and then that stretched into 45 somehow. after that we were allowed to wander out into the main space again, but the giant overhead door of the building was kept closed to keep out the lashing torrents of rain. hoo boy.

that pretty much killed our afternoon; we sat and knitted and waited for the storm to pass and after about three hours, it did. by then though, most of the fairgoers had gone home . . . and soon it was time for us to do the same.

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sunday morning was clear and sunny; one good thing about the storm was that it left the world shiny and clean and about twenty degrees cooler. speaking of fresh breezes, cherie arrived wearing her costa figueira vest that she knit in stone soup fingering yarn (marble)—isn’t it great? she’s trying to decide whether to add the armhole trim or leave it off—i think this might be a good chance to have some fun and tell her what to do take votes to help her out. tell us in comments which way you think she should go.

sunday was really relaxed—foot traffic was a bit slower (i think a lot of people still dont’ know that this building is filled with booths to shop in). that said, it gave us a chance to walk around the show, visit with friends, and do a little shopping of our own.

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and i actually made some purchases, like these handmade cherry buttons from our friend mark at indian lake artisans; he makes them from scraps cut from his yarn bowls. these are only available in their show booth, so it’s a treat to be able to buy some and there were just enough of these for a sweater.

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across the way at kimmet croft fibers, i succumbed to a couple of skeins of unbelievably soft angora/merino blend in a pretty natural shade. janice also dyes some of her yarns and offers beautiful kits for the patterns published in “poems of color”. she’s a really sweet person and we enjoyed being neighbors all weekend.

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in my travels through the barns that afternoon i again fell victim to yarn—yes again! my friend chris at briar rose fibers had some lovely silk yarn which i just had to buy; isn’t it a wonderful color? it’ll make a beautiful gift or a shawlette for me. and i wanted to lick up something for my mom to knit with, as she SO enjoyed a recent project that she knit with briar rose abundance (i’ll show you that in a sec).

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after looking around a bit i decided on the sundance—a gorgeous fingering blend of luxury fibers (sorry i don’t see it on her site, so i can’t link it). the purple skein is for my mom and the dark, overdyed oddball skein is for me. it’s just so me; i couldn’t leave it there.

several years ago when my mom had a knee replacement surgery, chris sent her a large bundle of abundance to knit an hourglass throw during her recovery. unfortunately, the surgery and anesthesia really knocked her for a loop in terms of concentration and it was quite a while before she felt like knitting again.

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she also had a couple of WIPs to work on for grandchildren, so she put off starting to complete those projects. it was just this past spring that she finally cast on, but once she did, she knit that blanket really quickly. isn’t it pretty? when we go to visit her in a couple of weeks i’ll help her block it. she was concerned because it seems small, but a nice bath will fix that.

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oh, i sidetracked myself there for a minute, sorry! all good things must come to an end and before we knew it we were breaking down the booth and packing up to head home. it’s a little like taking down the christmas tree after a wonderful holiday season, but it has to be done.

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my tonic is to save a treat for the very end—the purchase of kettle corn to take home; i’m a secret addict. which is why you don’t see a photo . . . and can i just say? the michigan fiber festival has the best kettle corn i’ve tasted so far. not that i can be considered an expert by any means; i haven’t tried that many. but of the ones i’ve tried, this one is the best.

the trip home was good—no rain, no traffic, and just my honey by my side. late as it was when we got in, we unpacked the truck so as not to have to do it in the morning. it’s better that way.

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because i drove the first half, i didn’t get to knit in the truck, so i was determined to knit for a while before head to bed. i finished up the armhole section of my sweater front to the shoulder

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stopping just short of the shaped neckband. i had hoped to finish that up last night but ended up tackling a much bigger chore and didn’t get to knit at all.

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yes, monday morning came like a runaway train and i bet you can imagine what awaited me in the garden after a few days away.

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we had a lot of everything, even a good bowlful of green beans. seriously, this wasn’t even from looking very deep—although i did make sure to clear out as many tomatoes as i could find because i don’t like the smell when they rot.

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it took me over an hour just to wash and prep them all for cooking; this is a (not very good) panoramic photo of my kitchen when the last one was rinsed—as you can see, not much countertop space to spare!

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i set aside the romas and cherry tomatoes to develop a little more ripeness; these i will roast in a day or two.

last night i focused on cooking the ones that were cracked or developing soft spot; i cooked some on top of the stove and roasted some in the oven.

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by the end of the night i had another dozen cartons of puree for the freezer, plus a batch of juice (i’ve been freezing tomato juice; it’s SO good!).

i’ve still got a large number of more solid tomatoes that need to be cooked as well as the romas and cherries, but everything is under control for the moment. i would have liked to get to some of them today but i am also behind with my desk work so i buckled down to that all day instead.

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thank goodness there is knitting to look forward to—and that’s where i’m heading now. i’m in need of a comfy seat and some relaxation with my favorite sport.

purls before swine

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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isn’t this flower just beautiful? i know that some of you know what plant this bloom belongs to, but those who don’t may be surprised to learn . . . that it’s okra.

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i would grow this plant just for the flowers, they are so pretty and fleeting. they last just a few hours, then they fold up, shrivel away, and reveal their “fruit”—green pods that will be ready to pick within a few days.

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who says the vegetable garden can’t be pretty too? these beautiful plants are growing tall down the center of the mound on which they are planted, like trees to shade the greens underneath.

and as long as we keep picking the okra pods—somewhere from six to twelve are ready each day—they will remain prolific. and we do have to keep an eye on them right now; they will go from two inches to five or six inches in the course of a day. i’ve actually been checking them twice a day to keep them from over-maturing and becoming fibrous.

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tomatoes are another garden product that we’re picking twice a day—they are so large and prolific this year that we can hardly keep up. in fact, we are away from home this weekend (more on that in a minute) and i’m kind of dreading what i’ll find when i get home! plenty of rotting fruits on the vine, i’m sure. that dry weather we had most of the summer, followed by a couple of weeks of rain has caused a lot of cracking in the skins which makes them vulnerable to bacteria. fortunately there are plenty to make up for the ones we throw away.

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before we left home on thursday i had been cooking a batch up almost daily—some on top of the stove and some roasted in the oven. and we have plenty of cherry tomatoes for drying this year which i’m thrilled about too; i haven’t been able to do that for a couple of years and i miss it. i use this method, which works really well for me.

while the tomatoes simmer or roast i get a little time to knit, since it’s important to keep an eye on them. wandering away to work on the computer would probably cause me to lose track of time and allow them to overcook.

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my first priority since i last showed you progress was to seam up the twill pullover—everything went together really smoothly and it looks great; just needs a good soak and wash now to make that fabric sparkle.

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don’t those side seam cables look great? i am really pleased with the choice of cable—it is so defined and crisp, a super-neat finish.

i will soak and wash that on monday, when we are back at home.

with that done, i could pour my efforts into my dock and cabin cardigan, as well as the scarf book project.

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the front that i showed you the last time i blogged has grown considerably—just before we left home i was about three-quarters of the way to the neck shaping, which begins before the underarm bind off in this case.

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and with a couple of hours of car knitting on thursday, i got to that point and a little beyond; i think i’m ready now to start the armhole shaping. which is a big ‘yay’ because after that the rest goes very quickly as the stitch count reduces continually to the shoulder.

sorry for the really crappy photo; we are in motel room and you know how the lighting is in these places—yuck.

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with the twill pullover complete, it was time to turn to the swatches i worked on last week and pick the next project.

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should it be the sweet little openwork cardigan first or the argyle pullover?

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i feel like i’ve put a lot more thought and planning into the argyle at this point, so i drafted a bare bones pattern and cast on a sleeve cuff the night before we left home. the sleeves are stockinette, so this can be my working swatch.

of course i got here, finished the cuff, and realized i left the sleeve needle home (sleeves and body are knit on different needle sizes). DUH.

i’m in a situation where i could by another needle, but i may just hold off and work on the dock and cabin—after all, there is plenty of knitting left and i’m enjoying that equally well. we’ll see; i may yet decide to spring for the needle in favor of mindless knitting . . .

hopefully, we will be much too busy where we are to need that option!

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david and i are at the michigan fiber festival. i’m so excited to be working an out of town show with him! we will be here for two more days (sat and sun), so stop by and see us. we are in the expo building, near the front on the right side—come and squeeze our skeins!

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yesterday we set out in the early morning and arrived at the show grounds mid-afternoon. at this point, the booth is a cement floor and corral railing—time for us to transform it into a (hopefully) adorable wool shop.

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it takes a little while and some effort; first all the hardscape—tables, cubbies, and signage—needs to be loaded in. then we start filling in all that space with yarn, which is the most time-consuming part.

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it really helps move things along if your partner is the chatty type (erica and i have this down pat, haha), but david is not so much into that (mostly i chatter all by myself). soon enough though, we had a lovely array of wools on display in all shades.

once the yarn is in place we can add in all the mannequins and devise outfits from the samples we’ve packed. you’d be surprised at how long that takes; i tend to fuss over them a bit too much, but making them seductive to knitters is important to me (and really gratifying when customers exclaim over them).

finally everything was as pretty as it could be the day before and we covered it all with plastic to go get some food and sleep before opening day

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this morning we found a great coffee shop right around the corner—mug shots—and caffeinated ourselves well on the way to the fairgrounds.

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we didn’t realize it but we were actually a full hour early, but we put the time to good use, tagging yarns and making adjustments to the displays. finally it was all done and i was happy—we were open for business.

we had a wonderful day today with a steady stream of visitors. i am really excited about tomorrow too—our friend cherie will be joining us with and extra set of hands and an extra lifetime of expertise; i can’t wait to see and work with her!

come and visit us, even if it’s just to chat. we’d love to see you!

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when i come back i think i’m going to do a post that is just about the lace scarf project—i’ve got pictures, swatches and progress to share; it’s getting very exciting.

see you next time—or at the fair.

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taming the beast

anne wrote this in the late evening:

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i love a nice black, white, and green combination, don’t you?

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we’ve been so fortunate this year to have a garden that just keeps giving; no need to shop at the store when we can take a look out the back door and decide what’s for dinner.

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lots of greens and squash and peppers? let’s do stir fry!

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five pounds of cavalo nero (black italian kale) just from trimming the plants a bit?

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sounds like big pot of ribollita is in order.

i like the rogers gray recipe which appears in the river cafe cookbook, and the one i linked to is very similar, but uses canned beans (i am an epic fail at cooking my own beans). i recommend reading the first comment under the “most helpful” tab and going with the advice of that reader. black kale is the essential ingredient in this soup; it has a velvety texture and sweet flavor (unlike other kales) that tolerates long cooking without getting sulphur-y or metallic.

i also agree that a dish like this is best cooked ahead and allowed to “mature” for a day before serving. my grandma liked to get her cooking done first thing in the morning and let it sit to develop a rich, full flavor by supper time. she also liked that having dinner cooked early meant that she could knit the rest of the day if she wanted . . .

oops, i digress. yes it’s been quite a foodie summer.

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a little before i left for alaska, david pulled all the garlic and again we had a really nice harvest—i think we’ve finally got the garlic thing down. last year we had nearly the same number of bulbs but each head had only four or five large cloves—which meant that we used it up very quickly.

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between the ginormous bulbs we unearthed and the large number of cloves in each one, it feels like we harvested twice as much this year. now dried and trimmed, they are tucked away in loosely woven sacks in the basement. we use those zippered burlap bags that basmati rice comes in—they allow for hanging up off the floor.

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i’ve already used some of our garlic when i roasted the first of our tomatoes for a pasta dinner last week—yum, yum. with sautéed fresh squash and peppers, it was quick, light, and delicious way to welcome myself home; lavish as the food on the cruise could be, i’d missed our way of eating.

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i honestly think that the end of the cruise was purposely timed to align with the advancing tsunami of tomatoes that was about to hit us. when i returned home, we were picking at most, a few each day. but i could see the writing on the wall—the plants were loaded with green fruit that was turning yellowish. like giant bunches of grapes they hung, waiting to ripen. and i’m not talking about just this dish of innocent looking cherry tomatoes—those we can handle.

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i’m talking about this—a couple dozen 1.5 pounders each day . . . and more. good thing i have a large arsenal of italian recipes to draw on!

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and you can’t help but love them when they offer you this .  .

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this tomato reminds me of my brothers when they were kids, haha. they would never pass up the opportunity to exploit it for all it’s worth. me, i texted pictures to kat and kim (who are forever young, haha), then passed the fruit on to a friend who i knew would appreciate it.

we had a minor setback last weekend when i had planned to buy a crate of peaches and a few dozen corn to freeze—on a trip to the basement friday evening, david discovered that the freezer was not working.

fortunately he was able to locate one in stock at lowe’s of the size we need AND he was able to negotiate a match for a sale price at another store that didn’t even have it in stock (THANK you lowe’s!). he did have to bring it home himself and get it into the basement, but he managed and we had a working freezer within 24 hours. crisis averted, phew!

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so, on my first day free of meetings or classes, i got out early and came home with the peaches and corn. boy are they good this year. i put up 23 bags of fruit with a few left over for eating and i’m already wanting more for pies and snacking.

and now we also have plenty of corn put away for winter use.

you may have noticed that something is conspicuously missing in this picture . . .

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weirdly, our green beans are just not themselves this year. the plants (which it took two sowings to germinate) are gorgeous and healthy, but very slow in flowering and maturing. which probably suits my schedule better anyway. it’s possible that we won’t even have any for freezing, but i still have tons down there from last year that we didn’t even eat). also possible that they just need some rain or fertilizer (on david’s list for this week). i wasn’t able to get seeds for the variety i usually grow; i’m hoping it was a fluke this year and they will be available again in the future.

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still enjoying beautiful greens as often as we wish, too—the other day i sautéed this chard with many mushrooms, oil, and garlic and served with pasta. oh my.

now, i’m making it sound as if i’m too busy cooking to get any knitting done, but actually i’ve been working a lot and have plenty to show for it, too.

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um, not actual knitting but UN knitting—after i returned home and finished up the back piece of the twill pullover, i remembered that i needed to fix the sleeves so that the cuff ribbing matched what i had on the body pieces.

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during our saturday morning class last weekend, i snipped one strand of yarn and picked out a row of stitches to detach the old cuff, then picked up the loops from underneath the pattern sts and reknit the cuff downward in the preferred rib.

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that job was actually really quick and i had both sleeves fixed by that evening, but the pieces sat around til yesterday when i finally had time to block them.

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we’ve been doing a nice class on saturday mornings where participants knit their first sweater, using the whitfield shorty kid’s jacket pattern so they could work through it quickly. this segued naturally into a finishing class which we are progressing through now, so i’ve been finishing along with them. above, paula steam blocks her jacket pieces in preparation for seaming (i’m using her work as an example because she’s keeping up so well).

hilary still has some knitting to do before finishing can get started, but she’s working on it.

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last week paula stitched her first seams—the shoulders—and got started on joining the sleeve caps to the body.

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a difficult seam for sure, but she’s handling it well and has learned how important that stockinette seam stitch really is (she forgot to do  it in a few places and is finding it much harder to seam without).

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i worked right along on the twill pullover that i’ve been knitting in kent DK (in the rich, dark gray mussel shell shade), which hilary and paula have been drooling over when they come in for saturday classes. having worked short row shoulders, i joined them with a three-needle bind off this morning and then picked up for the neck finish. paula continued with her sleeve caps seams and also did the pickup for the collar of her jacket today.

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after class i stayed on to watch the shop because erica has an out-of-town babysitting gig/vacation for the next week. in between customers i finished up the neckband of the sweater and started on my own sleeve cap seams.

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the first half seam is always the slowest as i figure out exactly what proportion of fabric goes where along the curvilinear seam; some parts of the cap need to be eased slightly into the armscye and some parts of the armscye need to be eased into the sleeve cap, depending on where i am on the road to the underarm. i love this particular job—it’s so satisfying once i get it right, when i end up with a that seam lays smooth and fits the shoulder perfectly. now it just needs some steaming to look its best. one down and three to go . . .and then the side and underarm seams and i’m done. hopefully tonight.

which reminds me, i still need to decide on a name for this pullover . . .

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meanwhile, i’m making pretty good progress on the dock and cabin cardigan, which, in stone soup fingering yarn goes a little more slowly than the DK sweater fabric. when i got home from my trip i was nearly done with the first front piece and finished that up quickly one night this past week.

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this design has something different in its construction—the cable panel which runs up the center front alongside the button band extends over the shoulder and around to the center back, where it is grafted to the one from the opposite side to form a little yoke. it must be shaped with short rows that are concealed in the cable, but it’s a fun component to work and creates a really nice detail for the back shoulder area. once it is seamed in, a twisted rib is worked along the top edge, around to the front neck and down the center to form the button band. as with all interesting details, finding the right words to write the instructions will be the challenge in putting together this pattern, haha.

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we had steam-blocked the first sleeve during our blocking class on the cruise and you can see what a difference a little steam can make in the fabric—just wait til it’s washed and really has a chance to bloom. i just love the incredible stitch definition that i get in SSF, a soft yarn with a firm twist—the best of both worlds. the sleeve cap in this sweater is very shallow because it fits into a dropped shoulder. many dropped shoulder sweaters have no sleeve cap, but i didn’t like the way this one hung without some shaping, so i added just a couple of inches of slope at the top.

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i started the second front during this last week, in between a pile of swatching duties. while there isn’t a lot of fussy shaping in this design—it has a casual, oversized fit—it is longer and wider and has cabling, so there is a lot of knitting involved. but SO worth it; my original sweater is nearly twenty five years old and just starting to give out.

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oh, i have so much more knitting from this week to share, but dinner and produce are calling me to the kitchen—gotta stay on top of it or i may get lost in the tide. i’ll be back in a day or two to show you the newest swatches and projects.

continuing

anne wrote this late at night:

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there were two more stops on our alaska journey—the first was skagway, our northernmost port. it was a really dreary day when we pulled in but i was excited because we had plans to meet up with kim3’s son rex, who is working there for the summer. we had set a time and place to meet during his lunch break and to kill some time beforehand, barb and i strolled around the main drag which was filled with tourist traffic.

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but we found a tiny gallery to duck into out of the fray and discovered a cache of buttons and other objects made from caribou antlers. i was excited to see a couple of sets of small ones, which i tend to use a lot; it’s unusual to find antler buttons in this size. a few sets of buttons later and a few more gifts taken care of, we headed over to the corner to meet rex.

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when we got there we laughed out loud and complimented him on his wily assessment of our main interest in the region. we amused ourselves at aurora yarns until he was free to leave work and had a nice chat with jean, who works there and gave us a tour of their hand-dyed quiviuk options.

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jean lives in minnesota during the winter and remembered taking a class from me a couple of years ago during yarn over; what a coincidence, haha. the shop is teeny tiny, but has a lovely selection of hand-dyed yarns, including quiviuk and quiviuk blends.

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they also have plenty of other knitting supplies that traveling knitters end up needing (someone whose initials are BARB would consider this a must, haha). she found a beautiful set of large antler buttons with a green-tinged circle in the middle that will be perfect on the oculus coat she is knitting in chebris worsted.

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while sitting on a bench to wait for rex, we flagged down our ship mates rene and alajah, who were looking around onshore as well—a good opportunity for a photo. rene organized our tour and traveled with her family; alajah is a new knitter but working on it and we enjoyed the times she joined us in the classroom.

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then suddenly rex was there; i like this quick selfie i took for kim.

and sitting here sweltering at home, i can hardly look at myself bundled up in a jacket and scarf! but it was definitely chilly enough that day . . .

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rex drives jeep and hummer tours up through the mountains, woods, and into the yukon north of skagway. while he didn’t have a lot of time between gigs that day, his boss graciously lent him a vehicle to drive us up to an overlook above town where we could get a better feel for the woods that ring the harbor and the scenery below, sans humans.

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once i saw what was up there (and all the cyclists going up and down the mountains), i wished i had more time to spend onshore. i would have LOVED to go biking during our trip.

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isn’t the color palette just incredible? who cares if it was rainy—in such unspoiled environments, all weather reveals a beautiful side.

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seeing layers and layers of all different greens and green-blues makes me wonder how anyone can not want to keep it just the way it is. but that’s me; i know everyone doesn’t have the same feelings.

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after rex went on to his afternoon schedule of tours, we headed back to the boat; we were both ready for some knitting. on the way we met this beautiful alaskan dog with those eerie pale eyes, who couldn’t care less about us, haha.

with a day and a half at sea ahead of us before hitting our last port, our knitting group had some nice long stretches of time with which to establish themselves further in their bee shawl projects and to do a few more skill-based exercises. over the next two days, we practiced a knitted-on edging, talk about various kinds of lace fabric and yarn, and how different types of laceweight yarn will produce different results in the final fabric.

we had a blocking session scheduled for the last day and with that in mind, barb was intent on finishing her club project, the frisée triangle so she could block it in class.

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she pulled it out, completing the graft just before dinner on thursday evening.

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she was pretty proud of it and rightly so—it looked great! barb made a pattern change (because you can!) and knit the entire upper shoulder area in the mesh pattern, which i liked a lot.

you might have noticed from that photo that as we sailed south, the weather grew considerably brighter—we were even able to go out on deck without jackets on. by the time we woke up the next day, the sun was shining brilliantly into our room—something we hadn’t seen in a week and i almost didn’t recognize it.

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the next day we all pitched in to pin out the shawl; it’s always amazing how much a wet piece of lace can be stretched and how it transforms the fabric, opening up the motifs so they are completely new to the eye. the hem pattern alone grows to at least twice its unblocked size.

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barb stood over it, not working, but making sure everyone else was doing it right, haha!

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this was a half day of class because that afternoon we were due to dock in victoria, BC for a visit. we took the wet shawl back to our room, still pinned to the blocking squares; kind of like a flat stanley, haha. it survived the trip beautifully and we set it out on the deck to dry for a while, then laid it on while we went ashore. barb wanted to be sure the shawl was ready to wear to dinner that evening.

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victoria was sunny, warm, a city of cool neighborhoods that were perfect for walking—which we needed after being at sea for two days.

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we walked several miles along the bay road to the beacon hill park, where we enjoyed strolling through the gardens for an hour or so before heading downtown.

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victoria is called the city of flowers and when you are there, it’s easy to see why. the temperate climate and humidity make it a good environment for happy plants.

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as well as trees—these sequoias were fascinating to us because they don’t grow anywhere near where we live. it wasn’t the buchart gardens, but we still saw plenty of plant and tree specimens that were novel to us and at the same time, surrounded by lots of people having fun in the sun; it was a good choice for an self-guided excursion.

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after the park we headed toward the busier part of town and found ourselves suddenly on the grounds of the royal british columbia museum.

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unfortunately it had just closed when we arrived, but we were delighted by the forest of totems interspersed with the trees throughout the grounds, part of the first peoples collections held by the museum.

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it was worth every step of our seven-mile walk that afternoon!

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we wandered about for a while, taking them in from every perspective, a little sorry to have missed whatever treasures were inside. they were really awesome as a group , the kind of siting that made us feel like it couldn’t be topped. after that, the rest of downtown sort of paled by comparison, having become busy with rush hour traffic. so we made our way back to the boat for a shower and an early dinner.

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back in our room, the shawl was dry and barb consented to a few modeling shots—lovely, isn’t it? just the thing to wear to the dining room, where the A/C can be a little too direct.

with our bags all packed and waiting to be picked up for our morning departure, we spent our last evening lounging in our cabin, knitting and watching a movie. it’s always really nice to travel with a friend you feel so comfortable with;  after a week in close quarters, we were still laughing and having fun.

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one final sunrise to see in the harbor and then it was time to leave the ship for good.

our trip home the  next day was thankfully free of any mishaps and we managed to get aisle seats in the exit rows on BOTH flights—almost as good as business class, haha.

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since i got home there has been a lot of everything going on at once around here. most immediately was the overabundance of produce that needed managing. it looks so pretty here but believe me, on some days the quantities reach ugly proportions and i worry that there won’t be enough takers. so far though, we’ve managed to distribute it pretty well.

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second, tons of activity in our “little nothings book” thread in the knitspot mothership group. i owed the test knitters a few new patterns and having swatched for some on the trip, i needed to buckle down and get the rest done.

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plus all the knitting i need to get done for fall/winter ensemble. i finished up the back of the twill pullover as soon as i got home, using it as my re-entry project that weekend. i mistakenly thought i had a class to teach that first morning and when i realized i didn’t after all, i spent the day knitting instead.

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it’s a big sweater and a lot of knitting; i’m really glad the pieces are done now. i have to admit that it’s taken over a week to get them blocked because it’s been so darn hot and sticky here that i hated to turn the iron on, ugh—we are definitely not in alsaka any more.

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i’ll be back in a day or two to fill you in on all the details and show you piles of knitting, class work, good eats, and some surgery . . . see you then!