get ready for weather

anne wrote this in the early evening:


with this week just hours underway, we are already bracing for heavy snow and blizzard conditions that will bring up to twenty four inches of snow to our eastern seaboard states. sounds like we’ll be needing a good knitting project to cuddle up with. laura cast on this woodcutter’s toque in a sample skein of chebris worsted (coming in february!!) that we are all drooling over.

she swears by this project as the ideal blizzard knitting, as it was immediately addictive and impossible to put down—so be sure to get changed into those jammies before you cast on.


working this hat IS a lot of fun and i can attest that the result is a hit with david at least—two of the originals appear frequently in his rotation of favorite hats and when he wears one, he draws a lot of interested queries about it.

there is really but one choice to make as the first flakes begin to fly and the first DVD of your marathon movie series clicks into place—whether to complete a healthy chunk on a big WIP or to cast on new and useful accessory that you can actually wear, once you emerge into the world again.


emily is all set, now that her knitting has hit its stride; she has a high peaks hat on the needles in kent worsted (it’s possible that she’s actually knitting a hot waffles cap; i’m doubting my memory now).

hat or mitten projects have several advantages—the patterns are are easily purchased and downloaded without leaving the house, almost every knitter has a suitable yarn on hand to make one, they are interesting but still allow you to watch TV, and they are quickly finished up so that you can wear them to shovel the snow or play in the park afterward.

barb was kind of making fun of me the other night when i brought a pile of swatches to our knit night (wednesdays, 6:30 to 8:30). she remarked that i could have just knit from an existing sweater pattern in the time it took to knit all those swatches and come up with a new project.

tell me about it, sherlock. do you really think i do this to break speed records?


but now, with a nice number of projects planned and swatched out in advanced (there WAS a method to my madness, heh), i have my pick of what i could nestle in with for winter storm knitting (especially since i have a yarn shop in my back yard—which granted, is unusual).


in fact i have swatches everywhere right now. but the strongest contender for my attention is a new pullover with a cable pattern that i love knitting. i chose kent DK, a soft springy merino/romney blend which i haven’t knit with nearly enough—and i’ve had my eye on the kelp shade for a sweater for ME since it came in last year.


last week, i swatched my fabric every which way to prepare—both the cable panel detail and in stockinette, washed, unwashed, AND in the round.  i used information from all these pieces to work out the pattern draft (though i’m not working any part of my prototype in the round, i may see if we can produce a pattern for both versions).


the cable (from barbara walker’s second treasury) is so cool and so fun to work. it’s actually not a real cable at all, but a large twist stitch pattern that shreds into ribs and comes back together again, over and over. the fabric it makes is not bulky or heavy because there is never a place where all the stitch cross over each other. so it has the appearance of a complex, heavily cabled fabric, but is actually quite light and breathable across its whole surface.


i cast on my first sleeve last monday evening. our kent shades come in several families, but the kelp stands out a bit as unique in that it is a warm, caramel with gold—almost green—highlights. as each batch of our yarn will vary with whatever the wool crop brings that season, when i see something that stands out to me, i make sure we save out a sweater’s worth for a sample.


well, this is one project i love in every way—the colors in the wool are entrancing, the cable is addicting, and in DK weight on (what i consider to be) bigger needles, it’s flying along. by thursday morning i already had a good bit knit.


that piece was off the needles and folded up by friday, when i launched right into the second sleeve.


i really needed project like this—one that i don’t have to worry about getting done for a deadline or meeting anyone else’s expectations. i mean, i DO plan to publish the pattern, but what drives the design and the choices i’m making is purely personal—which feels great right now; very freeing.

by the way, it’s not unusual for sweater pieces to look like writhing sea creatures as they come off the needles, or for them to be the wrong size and shape entirely. if you are new to sweater knitting or still contemplating whether you want to try, know that these homely pieces will eventually be transformed by blocking and that you will be witness to absolute magic when it happens.

so, i have my sweater to work on. oh and look—the snow is growing heavier as i write this (can you hear me grinning?).


now don’t forget to cook up a big pot or casserole of something warm, easy to heat up, and filling—that way family members can help themselves and leave you alone to knit. last night after dinner i put on a pot of my grandma’s lentil soup—which is vegan by the way, using just the few ingredients you see here, plus some tomatoes and later, spinach. it took just a little while to prep and then i sat to knit while it bubbled.


of  course, i always have my little sock to work on should i need a break from the sweater, or something portable to work on in the kitchen while fixing a meal. i really love the way this is turning out—with such warm, tweedy goodness, i’m really hoping for great wearability as well.


though i did have a moment the other night when i had to kick myself for a stupid mistake i’d made. i had knit the heel flap and put it aside for later. that evening i pack it in my purse to take to a meeting. i merrily knit away around and around while people talked and presented. several rounds into the gusset shaping, i realized something was amiss—my heel looked awfully wide. groan—i’d forgotten to do the short row shaping to turn the darn heel. r-i-i-i-p-p-pp


better now and easily fixed. this stone soup fingering yarn takes a ripping and reknitting really well; hopefully that says something positive about its durability. BTW, if anyone out there has already been knitting and wearing socks from this yarn, we’d love to hear some feedback.


now that should be plenty to get me through one (oh heck, even TWO) snow storms. but i will always be that knitter who needs to be overly armed and prepared for any eventuality. i’d rather carry a couple of extra projects that i’ve no hope of getting to, than find myself stuck someplace (even at home!) with nothing to keep my hands busy. that’s just me; i’m sure none of you have any experience at all with such an issue.


anyway when this new, medium gray (AKA tide pool) shade of kent DK arrived last week, i leapt on it. i got a bee in my bonnet that david would look adorable in a natty cap knit from one of our yarns.


david’s got a couple of older hats that have really seen better days—like slöfock, one of his favorites. but the colors are fading and the fabric is pilling after several years of constant use; time for something fresh. the natty cap has a similar brim texture and body shape; i think he’ll like it.

i really waffled between this new kent shade and some shade of stone soup DK. but then i realized it would knit up quickly and i could make a second one—maybe for me—in stone soup.


so last evening while i was cooking that pot of soup, i cast on.

holy cow—is this ever squishy; i love it. the pattern doesn’t include a size to fit his head (i guess i always thought of it as a girly design before), but it was easy to size up from what is included. plus, since this yarn has more body than the original yarn, i was able to used needles one size bigger all around and that helped get me to the size i needed—big.


the texture of this design is a bit subtle, so it relies on a yarn that offers good stitch definition, which kent delivers. it also relies on fiber that softens nicely so that the hat body slumps in just the right way and kent does that too. with a couple of our natural material buttons added at the closure, it’s going to be quite good looking i think.


and the soup turned out yummy; we’ll probably have some for dinner tonight.


of course i cooked enough for an army, but this soup freezes very well and there’s a rumor going around that we might have company from pittsburgh coming to take a class sometime next week or the week after.

and as i said before, i like to be prepared.

tweed revisited

anne wrote this mid-afternoon:


january presents a tough challenge—with holiday glitter a mere memory and not nearly time to tell ourselves that “spring is just around the corner”, we need something fresh to brighten the days and our moods.


playful—but warm—accessories in fun colors are just the thing to fill the lapels of a classic coat, show off at the end of bracelet length sleeves, or wear at your desk if it happens to be placed in a chilly spot.


our fall clubs usually end in january and each year i aim to design a package with a surprising colorway to knit a project with a hint of spring.


i had turquoise on the brain for last january, when our 2013 fall in full color club came to a close. we invited brooke sinnes, the dyer behind the sincere sheep label, to devise a custom turquoise colorway for us using her natural dye process.


the resulting colorway—heather’s gem—was absolutely perfect. being hand dyed with natural materials, each skein was slightly different, with the whole lot representing the entire range of turquoise shades. and on the polwarth/silk base we chose, it fairly glows.

i loved it and was completely inspired to make the best use of the large skeins we got.


because the january package is also a sort of goodbye at the end of the club, we wanted to include a special goodie to incorporate into the project. we approached my friend sarina at moving mud to come up with a custom button design.


she and brooke got to meet and commiserate at TNNA that spring, with the result that we ended up with a spectacular package.

now to create.


the plan was to design a pair of fingerless mitts and a slouchy hat with buttoned detailing on the cuffs and brim. i decided to go with a longer style glove, something to wear with short sleeves when it’s chilly.


there is a largish knit/purl houndstooth pattern in a few of the stitch dictionaries i have that i’ve always wanted to use on something. the yarn is so soft that i wondered if i’d achieve good stitch definition for this, but that turned out not to be the case—it worked up a treat.


i’m always happy to design something with a classic tweedy feel in a surprising color or shape and this concept drove the pairing of this yarn and pattern.


i knit the hat first and thought it looked adorable on several different people. and the mitts followed, which i realized could be worked long or short as desired (and as yarn supply demands).


but for all that, i used up just one skein of yarn and i knew we had plenty of double dippers among our club membership (clubbies who buy in for a double serving of yarn).


so, at the last m inure, i devised a rectangular cowl piece that can be buttoned several different ways to reconfigure it for a new effect (without moving buttons around). fun, right?


shown here are the natty cap in size small, the natty cowl in size large, and the tweed set mitts in size medium. all knit in sincere sheep luminous, a polwarth/silk blend DK in colorway hathor’s gem, the custom dyed colorway for our club.

we have some extras skeins listed in the store for those that might might need a hit of turquoise about now. One skein will make the cowl or the hat/mitts combo; two skeins will make everything.

oh, and we have those moving mud buttons as well; one card required for the hat/mitts and one for the cowl.


these patterns are also included in the 2013 fall in full color eBook, which compiles seventeen total accessory patterns from the 2013 fall color collection—that’s a lotta patterns! anyone looking for a knitalong around these designs need not look further than the ravelry clubhouse where our color clubs meet—all are welcome and appreciated.


if it’s the single patterns or more information you’re after, click to view our online store pages for tweed set, natty cap, or natty cowl. you may also view or purchase them in my ravelry pattern shop by clicking here for tweed setnatty cap, or natty cowl.


in the process of writ in up this post, i got to thinking that this cap would be SO handsome on david knit up in one of our soft yarns— our cooper sportstone soup DK, or better breakfast DK—due out in about a week (and we could use a sample to show it off).

i think my weekend knitting is settled then, how about you?


speaking of clubs, there are still spots left in our blanket statement club which will begin shipping on february 7. (i would say be there or be square, but it’s all aBOUT squares!)


oh, where does the time go?

anne wrote this in the late afternoon:


boy oh boy, one minute i’m running around after my little friend helena, who stands barely up to my shoulders but is basking in the glow of her first modeling assignment.


and the next thing i know she’s playing sexy secretary in my office, with an arsenal of looks and characters she’s portrayed in dozens of our photo shoots since.


today she turns eighteen—how time flies (hehe, i’m sure kris and jeff are thinking the same thing!).


from her very first session modeling pine and ivy, she’s always styled her own outfits, with just the right sense of what was needed.


though one or two may not have been her dad’s favorite (sorry jeff!).


at age thirteen, she did create a stunning look for our crossing mitts release, in a swirl of vintage silk and chiffon ruffles—like a christmas fairy.

still one of my all-time favorite photo shoots.


there was crooked walking shawl the next spring and


sheltie triangle with the apples in clover tam


and hazeline with her beautiful mom and my dear friend, kris.

she’s got a real way with hats, too—a designer’s dream come true.


but mostly, she’s been a great kid, one of my favorites and i know she’s going to be a great woman, too.


on sunday, several special guests were invited to helena’s birthday fête—an afternoon tea party at her home.


we were enthusiastically greeted by our hostess katherine delores (k.d.), who let it be known that there is but one fairy princess in this house—thank you very much—and that is herself.


platters of scrumptious hor d’ourves were laid out on the table—not only did they look beautiful, but we soon discovered they were divinely delicious as well.


the table was literally a work of art—a bit of spring blooming inside the house on a winter’s day.


(i think k.d.’s personal designer must have done the napkin folding, however; those little paws are probably better suited to other tasks, such as dancing)


beckie and i had been there just a few minutes when the rest of the guests arrived—three little red-headed girls who were as charming as could be—of course they were friends of helena’s.


after we all had a close look at the new dollhouse that helena and her dad recently finished building (i think they’ve been working on it for two years), we all sat down to the table.


while the daylight turned to twilight, we nibbled on delectable foods and watched helena open her gifts.


k.d. stayed behind the scenes and made sure that every detail was attended to with graceful precision.

it was much too dark to take photos of the cake cutting, but be assured that it was irresistibly good.


happy, HAPPY birthday, dear helena; thank you for sharing the loveliness of your youth with us and the goodness that you carry out into the world; we love you!


notes from a snowstorm

anne wrote this just before lunchtime:


mid morning snow begins falling like we’re holding a christmas card audition.

cozy new sweater on the needles—finally.


i tear myself away for a few minutes to snap some photos for a short blog—wow, the white stuff is falling fast—look at our street just a few minutes later.


i finished swatching for this sweater last night and after a long, hot, soapy soak, they are blooming and drying in my workroom.


i just love the transformation that takes place between the knitted fabric and the washed fabric—stunning, right? i’m working with squooshy kent DK in the kelp shade, which is a rich brown with gold highlights.


the design is one i knitted off-the-cuff years ago for a friend, but then liked it so much that i wrote down careful notes afterward so i could replicate it some day for myself. ok, well it took sixteen years, but i’m finally doing it.

hey, i had a long queue and a lot of life changes in between, haha. besides, i was waiting for just the right yarn to come along . . .


anyway, now it’s here; time to settle in and knit near the window to watch the snow fly, while  appreciating indoor heat and the fact that we don’t have to go anywhere today.


sounds like heaven to me.