in the red

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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best photo shoot ever.
there we were on a bitter cold friday in december 2013, several inches of fresh snow on the ground, with three kids who just got freed from school for the week and whole pinewoods to let loose in.

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how much running do you think we had to do to keep up?

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uh—a lot.

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and how much fun do you think we had??

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even more!

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it was the first time nicole and sarah had worked with the kids and i think they were a little stunned—all their carefully planned winter outfits and activities pretty much stayed in that box, once we got the kids into sweaters, hats, scarves, and mittens. you really don’t need to do anything with kids to get great pictures except let them loose, haha.

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i would even go so far as to say that the red seemed to charge them up a notch or two.

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well, after all, that was the point, wasn’t it?

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and we weren’t without our moments at rest—these were captured masterfully by david and provide the most wonderful pauses in our raucous fun.

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i love these kids because they LOVE our hand knits, haha. they want all of it, even the ones they’re not very familiar with (like “cowls”; what’s that?).

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when he first put it on, lincoln thought this rené sweater would get him laughed right out of school, but by the end of the hour, he was figuring how to ask grandma debby to knit him one.

and speaking of grandma debby, lincoln, jude, and roxy kept this WHOLE thing a secret for a couple of weeks so that she could be surprised when the club chapter came out.

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but back to the red pieces—these were offered in the december 2013 FIFC club shipment, a trio of multi-sized hat, scarf, and mittens in easy, quick to knit motifs perfect for last minute gifting. and that’s still try—you can knit at least one of these pieces by december 25th if christmas is your target date.

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the cowl and hat for instance are just a snap—i promise. i knit one of these hats myself last christmas eve, all in one day. and then i knit another on christmas day as well. plus i cooked two big meals on those days; they are that easy.

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and if you are are now shaking your head because you are in desperate need to produce a gift in the next three hours, do not despair—make it a cheery headband; the instructions are included.

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the mittens are a fast knit as well—a small pair goes lightening fast in an evening; you might need two evenings for a large pair. but so worth it! choose a yarn that blooms generously to make a dense, impenetrable fabric (like our confection or kent worsted weights) and these will become the household favorite.

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the reversible scarf takes a bit more time but is a soothing and very portable treat—the knitting you can cling to in these last few frenzied days of the season. and on size 10US (6.0 mm) needles, it just flies along, you’ll see.

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shown above are the chimney sweep scarf and the matching cowl in size small with all boxed up hats in sizes (left to right) medium, extra small, and small. with so many sizes and a cool, bold motif, these will please just about anyone on your list.

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springerle mittens in size large youth/adult small (with six other sizes to choose from!). all pieces were knit up in our festivus worsted, which was spun exclusively for the FIFC 2013 club. we unfortunately have too few remaining skeins to list in the shop (i think just two eight ounce ones and handful of two ounce ones; email david if you’re feeling lucky and want to score one!).

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if it’s the single pattern you’re after, click to view more information about all boxed up, springerle or chimney sweep. you may also view or purchase them in my ravelry pattern shop.

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any of these accessories would be cushy and delicious in our breakfast blend DK, confection worsted, kent worsted,  or classic ghillie sock.

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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.

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and now it’s time for me to get myself to my knitting chair—i have several christmas gifts to complete myself.

be back in a couple of days; i hope to have that new mitten pattern delivered by christmas (well, i’m shooting for that, anyway). stay warm and keep knitting!

 

 

 

we might need snow tires tomorrow

anne wrote this late at night:

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i love how my snow tire scarf (knit in ghillie sport/DK) seems to be on its own private toboggan ride across the sofa top. what i would have given to sit around and finish up those last two repeats over my morning coffee, sigh. but because i went to bed so late, i also got up kind of late and it was already a little after nine when i poured my first cup. it would have to wait til this evening’s knit night . . .

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nearby, my finished fat tire mittens posed for a portrait—these turned out so well, i can’t help but say so myself. everyone who tries them on agrees—these feel delicious. and they knit up so fast! i’m trying like crazy to get the pattern done but i had a chapter deadline today and i have meetings all day tomorrow so i don’t think it will be ready til monday earliest. but know that i’m trying; i take my snow tires stuff very seriously.

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in fact, after i finished them off first thing yesterday morning, they went immediately into the bath; we had hoped to photograph them along with their matching scarf in the afternoon.

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after an abbreviated soak, i pinned them to the edge of my pressing bench, allowing them to hang in the warm draft from the nearby heat vent—the perfect way to dry wool quickly (laying them across the top of a floor register is also an awesome strategy; there are many a christmas when i get up early to do just that).

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sure enough, they were dry in about an hour—even those dense cables. and they fit perfectly; too bad i’m not fond of wearing mittens (though i do give in to them once in a while for very cold runs and bike rides). as it turned out, torrents of rain and skies of deep gray cause the photo shoot to be cancelled. been there, done that; this weather never results in good photography.

in a way it’s good—now the ghillie scarf can be photographed at the same time. which means that i’m just going to have to knit another pair of fat tires to match. plus that hat i told you about the other day. poor me . . .

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speaking of runs, i got a big surprise in the mail yesterday—looks like i took second in my age class in the ohio challenge series (it’s kind of a running league). last year i took fifth and my group is extremely competitive, so this is a huge improvement. next year i move up to the next older class, so who knows? there are a few women who blow me away at EVERY race it seems; maybe i can shake them off for a year or two when i move up, haha.

we are thinking of designating a wall somewhere in the office to hang all my medals. i’ve seen some really cool displays; it might help keep me motivated to see evidence of accomplishment like that.

today i had to get my latest BNK chapter out the door, so i didn’t get much knitting done until evening, when we had a small, but fun knit night, just me and barb. why don’t i ever take pictures?? we get talking and i forget all about the blog, every time . . . sorry.

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anyway, i did finish up the knitting on my ghillie scarf. i stopped one repeat short of what the pattern says, because it was starting to look rather long. i’m worried that it will grow more than i’d like it to. i put the live sts of the last row on a yarn holder and now it’s ready to block. i’ll put it on to soak when i wake up in the morning, then slide it onto blocking wires to dry.

a hot sudsy bath will totally transform this yarn—ghillie turns bright white, dense and flannely once all the spinning oil is washed away.

i can’t wait; now on to some socks i want to finish by christmas

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today, it’s back to work rest

anne wrote this around lunchtime:

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haha, ever feel like getting back to your desk is the most you’ve stayed still since, well . . . last week?

i’m telling you, it felt good to get up this morning knowing that i didn’t have an agenda item to attend to right off the bat, other that the usual loosely outlined tasks of “blogging”, “write pattern for X”, or “chapter draft”.
so, here i am.

i’ve knit my couple of morning coffee repeats on my snow tire fundraiser scarf, which i’m making up in our ghillie sport/DK this go-round. i’m nearly to the end of my first skein and have completed 23 repeats of the pattern; it’s about 36 inches long, maybe? if i joined it into a cowl now, it would be a nice length to hang down simply or secure with a pretty pin, but probably too short to wind around, unless it was for a child.

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yes, it’s that time of year when we devote sales receipts from a special scarf pattern to raise money for our knitspot scholarship, which goes to one student who participates in foster care 2 success programs. the entire sale price of each snow tire scarf pattern sold during the remainder of november and all of december is added the knitspot scholarship pot.

you can participate in several ways:

  1. purchase a pattern—the entire $7 retail price will go into the pot.
  2. purchase a nifty scarf kit which includes the pattern PLUS enough yardage of stone soup DK, ghillie sport/DK, or confection sport (we are happy to substitute kent DK or cooper sport as well; just email david for information). if you go for that, we’ll put $10-$15 in the pot (that’s the entire pattern price plus approximately 10% of the yarn price).
  3. please, please, PLEASE tell everyone you know about the fundraiser—they don’t need to be a knitter to throw $7 at this wonderful cause. some ways you can help: put it on your Facebook page (and link it), tweet it (with a link!), pin it (yes, with link) and finally just drag your friends over to look at the blog, haha. we’ll even give them a “knitter for a day badge” if they help out.
  4. join us for a fun red scarf KAL in our ravelry mothership—we promise a rollicking good time, plenty of support, and of course, neat-o prizes.

many of you are aware of the red scarf drive, for which knitters put together care packages that are distributed to students on valentine’s day (the 2014 drive closed on december 15, but there is still time to help out with gift cards and postage).

foster care 2 success, the sponsorship organization, assists students who are aging out of the foster care system to navigate a continuing education and advancement into independent, productive adulthood. they provide guidance and counseling, classes in life skills, scholarships, and other types of support that a family would normally provide.  and to set your mind at ease, FC2S has received the highest possible scores from charity navigator, by ensuring that over 91 cents from every dollar goes into program funding (annual report available here).

our december drive began as a way to raise a little money to pump up the postage fund, but it grew each year and eventually i realized we had enough to establish a FC2S scholarship. so far, we have exceeded each previous year’s amount by quite a lot; last year the scholarship grew to $4000; i’m excited to see how we’ll top that this year—as i know we will.

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the delicious cable detail in this year’s scarf is just part of the overall appeal of the fabric and has already inspired a couple of spinoff items. my friend cherie had the same idea i did and almost at the same time—that it would be so easy to substitute this cable and fabric into my polartorte hat design. and she’s so fast—she went ahead and tried it over the weekend and it worked a treat.

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we love it! if you feel competent to make the substitutions yourself, go for it. but in case you don’t want to, we’ll write it up and make it available as soon as possible. and since it’s really a joint effort, i’d be happy to include the sales for this pattern in the donations to the scholarship fund—if cherie says it’s ok that is . . . hehe, i’m pretty sure she’s agree.

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and then there are the matching mittens, which are coming along quite nicely as well; i’m in the homestretch now. if only i’d been able to stay up another hour or two last night this morning, they’d be done. but then i probably would have overslept . . .

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anyway, i had put these aside for a day or so while i thought about how to finish off the top and in the end, i just stuck with the established pattern and did a “sock toe” sort of finish. i like it.

as soon as i get my december chapter layout wrapped up (just waiting on photos now), i’ll get to work on these two patterns.

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oh, but i’m making it sound as if my weekend was completely taken up with knitting mittens, when in fact, that was hardly so—we had a special weekend around here with very special guests who came from near and far to celebrate our holiday open house and yarn tasting.

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the yarn tastings were aMAZing—each group was different and incredibly interesting. we talked all about the yarns and how they are made, then sampled each one in patterns chosen to show off their best traits. i had never run a yarn tasting before so it was a fascinating and inspiring experience for me.

one thing that came out over and over is the desire to know more—overwhelmingly, participants said they would come back and/or even create their own learning experience at our shop in the future. and since it’s our place to do what we like, we encourage it—we are happy to put together a saturday class or a while weekend for a small group. we have a comfortable, well lit classroom area and space for up to eight people (maybe even ten). something to think about . . .

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and the shop was full all day long, too, which was so much fun because most days it is a lot quieter (and yet, that atmosphere is so nice too, for browsing deeply into the pattern books or taking as much time as one likes over yarn choices). honestly, we welcome you any time to come visit us!

you would think that after two days of open house we’d give ourselves some rest but i unwittingly signed up for a local race that evening and so as soon as we cleaned up after saturday’s tasting sessions, i had to duck over the to the house and get changed (good thing i live close, huh?).

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beckie, her daughter jasmine, and i all signed up to run the frosty frolic to raise money for hammer and nails, a local resource for aid in reclaiming city homes.

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well,it was an absolute mob scene—i don’t know who does their promotion, but wow, they are good! there were so many people that it kind of fell into a chaotic mess actually, not even starting on time.

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while we waited on line as the start time came and went, i even began panicking a little about being trampled by large elves or tripping over a dog in the dark (that last one was actually quite valid). but once we finally got going, it was fine—more than fine, it was a nice evening and venue to run, through the light displays in our local park at mckinley monument.

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and i ran one of my best races of the year—5k in just about 25 minutes even (the finish line actually fell down just after i crossed, so i’m not sure of the seconds, haha). i’m positive you or someone you know can beat that time easy, but for me that’s super duper, forgive my bragging.

warm as it was for december (in the mid-30s), by the time i got home i was chilled from standing around sweaty at the finish line. i sank into a steaming hot bath while david heated the macaroni and cheese i’d remembered to take out of the freezer that afternoon (my post-race favorite!).

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after dinner i put the finishing touches on my chapter text and then retreated to my knitting chair, where i chatted with my mom and finished up the lining on david’s boilermaker hat. i had just enough cashmere left in the ball to line this brim—i mean exactly enough; i had maybe an eight-inch tail left at the the end. who’s a good planner??

i did a “quilting” row about halfway up to tack the lining to the shell, as described in my cashmere lining tutorial (read through that post for instructions and answers to many questions you might have).

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when my lining was the right length, i knit it together with the shell in one row (also described in the tutorial). then i changed to larger needles to knit the top part of the hat, with i want to be a much softer, drapier fabric.

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i ended up going with the pumice shade. it’s possible i should have chosen granite, but i just can’t tell yet. it could be like paint on a wall, you know? perfect in the two-foot sample swatch that you slap on, but then WAY overwhelming when you get it on the whole wall. i decided i should go with the shade i like best next to david’s skin.

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today we have several activities taking place in different arts of the house, while i’ve been holed up here in my study, working on the blog and my chapter. elsewhere in a long awaited and much anticipated effort, our friend bil is making sense our of our art collection, deciding where the various paintings, drawings, and objects should go, and hanging it.

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because these days i am an absolute puddle of indecision about these things, having no continuous amount of time to think it out, this task has been put off and put off for ages. but we have wonderful artwork that would bring our home to life and i have missed viewing it every day as i am used to.

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it’s  a shame to let the many, many pieces acquired over years of friendships with artists—and quite a bit of my own work as well (i haven’t painted since we moved to ohio, but i hope that’s not over for me forever)—lie in piles against the walls or sit into closets where we can’t see them.

finally bil took charge and is patiently arranging and hanging everything. he knows us really well and has seen several different of our homes, so between that and his own great taste, i trust him completely. just seeing the art in these photos against the beautiful new plaster and wood floors makes me feel how warmly it will enrich our home—what a christmas gift this will be!

ok, now, it’s actually a very warm day for december—in the 50s!— so i want to get outside before it’s time to teach my class. i think today is a biking day . . .

party dressing

anne wrote this mid-afternoon:

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sooo much news to tell today!
(isn’t this a cute idea laura found for dressing our mannequins?)

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we are all scurrying in several direction at once, between getting ready for the last installment of the 2014 BNK, our holiday open house, and rolling out the annual flurry of patterns appropriate for last-minute gifting.

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we’ve also kicked off a twelve-days celebration of some past patterns—you can get a different one free each day with a purchase of $15 or more. the first one is the spectator sock, which i published in 2008

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despite the hustle bustle of the pre-holiday race season, each day i spend some time knitting a repeat or two on my current snow tire scarf project which i’m knitting in ghillie sport/DK. its soothing pattern, long ago committed to memory has become a steadying force in my morning routine. some days, it’s the only knitting i get done, but at least i go to bed knowing that i did that much.

if i didn’t feel so committed to making steady progress on it, i think i’d be at my computer almost immediately after opening my eyes (i can’t tell you how many mornings it has gotten to be 11 am and i still haven’t had a cup of coffee—that is NOT me, haha!)

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at yesterday’s company meeting, emily updated all of us on the numbers for our red scarf fundraiser . . . . drum roll . . . . at the end of our third week, we are at approximately $2000!! (she followed that by saying, “maybe even a little more”).

 

that’s halfway and if i’m not mistaken, we are three weeks along with three weeks to go—right on track. way to go team! if we can keep up this momentum, we will meet last year’s goal of $4000.

forgive me if i mentioned this already, but erica B added a ghillie sport option to our snow tire scarf kit, in case this project is calling to you or you’d like to gift it to a knitter on your list.

we have to think of some ways to get the word out beyond our cozy circle; got any good ideas? we are all ears—tell us your thoughts!

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update on holiday preparations across the steer; looks like things are hotting up over there alright.

in other knitting news, i have finished a really large amount of secret knitting and moved right on to some other secret projects i have to get going (that’s the clubbing and gifting life for you; never no knitting to do). but  just after one club goes out, i usually take a little time to sneak in a few goodies for just us.

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like these . . i couldn’t resist; what’s a great scarf without a pair of delicious matching mittens? they are yummy now, but after a nice long bath?? they will be fantastic.

they knit up super fast—i made most of this one inane evening, but then set it aside while i thought about how to finish off the top (which required a consultation with barb; she’s great for bouncing ideas with).

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the color is exactly the same as my snow tire scarf, but i’m knitting them with the worsted wight version of the yarn. we have a small number of 8 ounce worsted weight skeins left and then some two ouncers that were mill ends. i son’t know yet how many yards these are going to require, but we’ll tell you all of that as soon as i know.

these are just so fun, haha.

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in fact, i’ve got all kinds of presents going on in various stages of completion and secrecy. this hat, for an unnamed recipient whose head measures 26.5 inches around (hmm, who could that be?), is finally picking up steam after being somewhat ignored for a week.

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i love it in the various shades of stone soup DK, which because it is a speckled tweed, are softer and more muted than the clear, strong shades of the confection sport yarn  i used for the original boilermaker cowl

 

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the patterned brim is done and i’ve begun the cashmere lining by picking up the stitches form the topmost row of ribbing all around and knitting separately in pura bella fingering weight cashmere.

while i knit that (and it won’t take long) i have to decide what shade of stone soup DK i want to use for the top of the hat—the longer slouchy part. i originally thought i’d just stick tot eh main color of the brim, which is the marble shade

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but then i got thinking that it might end up being too blah that way; that the hat brim wouldn’t pop enough.

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so my next thought was that pumice—the original stone soup color and still my favorite, i think—was really the perfect one, providing some contrast but in a soft, sophisticated way (and it looks so nice next to david’s skin).

but then i wondered if it was too soft and just to be sure, i looked at the granite too.

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hmm, crap; i thought i had this thing solved, but i like this one as well.

i think though, that i’m still leaning toward the pumice; it’s a tough one, right?? i’m enjoying this project; i love making something a little more complex with some engineering involved for david.

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working with the ghillie sport gave me an idea for another secret gifting project, which i’ll probably start tonight. i’ll show you bits of progress as i go but i won’t tell what it is until christmas (and if you guess, don’t go shouting it out in comments either; we don’t want to spoil the surprise).

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speaking of little surprises, everyone who passes through the shop these days is oohing and aahing over barb’s latest obsession, which she dropped off last week—baby uggs knit in bare naked wools. i honestly don’t know which of these patterns she’s using, except that it’s a felted design. barb, please enlighten us . . . and she did; she says tried a couple of different ones before she settled on the bubbyuggz by tracey waller.

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on wednesday afternoon, sheyanne and laura transformed out classroom space into an impromptu film studio in order to shot a few short videos. among these was a little instructional video for my grandma’s cast on, which i know a lot of people are eagerly awaiting. i demonstrated my grandma’s cast on in an episode of knitting daily TV that aired this past summer, without realizing that no one would be able to access the clip later on for reference—otherwise, we would have done this in time to release it concurrently.

well, with one thing and another throughout a busy autumn, we just couldn’t coordinate things to make our own version until now. sheyanne should have the film ready to upload to our youTube channel in a few days; we’ll let you know when it airs.

laura filmed some very short clips to post on instagram and other social media—look for her presto-change-o takes on wrapping cowls and mixing knits to create ever-new effects.

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last night was the first session of our holiday open house and yarn tasting, which we’ve been preparing for all month.

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we decorated, made snacks, and created a yarn bar for our tasting sessions. barb even made her famous whoopee pies, but you have to come in to taste one . . .

i was so happy that our neighbor norma decided to join us—she is going to learn to knit; i couldn’t be more excited! we’ve been neighbors for many years now; she and her husband bruce always read the blog—i think they know more about me than some of my family members do, haha.

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last night we had a smaller number of guests, making for a more freeform, but cozy experience. most of the guests knit from presets we made for the yarn bar, sampling a few favorite patterns at the same time. even david joined in to try out some lace knitting, which he hasn’t done before (and of course he did really well!).

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i was able to sit with norma while she made her first knit stitches instead of the patterned samples the other tasters were working on. it’s always an exciting honor for me to be present when a new knitter emerges from a regular person.

norma has many great reasons for learning to knit now, but probably the one that really tipped her hand was the birth of her and bruce’s first grandson just two weeks ago. such a happy reason, right? she went home with a set of needles and her sample packet of yarn to play with. i cast on 20 sts for her before she left; if we’d had more time, i would have helped her get a washcloth going in our organic cotton (norma is a retired science teacher who really appreciates the color grown cotton story).

sigh, what a lovely evening—i sure hope saturday goes as well. i’m a little nervous because we all allowed ourselves to dally over the one seating we had last night; we’re going to have to be more concise to move things along more quickly on saturday.

we still have spots open if you live nearby and are looking for a relaxing diversion from scurrying around in the holiday rush—please join us for a warm, knitterly break from all that.

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afterward we cleaned up quickly and went home to our dinners. later while we watched TV, david finished up the squish me hat he knit last winter with breakfast blend DK in the morning smoke shade. and now it’s ready to be blocked—after i finish up here i’ll go downstairs to help him get it onto the bath.

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mmmm. i wonder what he’s going to knit next? i think he might be interested in socks, actually; maybe some nice thick boot socks would be just the thing.