krokos blooms

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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well, that spring weather didn’t last . . . winter has finally hit our area, with temperatures plummeting down to the teens, wind howling, and snow flying—albeit, for the first time this winter.

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but we are managing to stay cozy here, warmed by folds of our delicious better breakfast DK worked up in my new shawl design—Krokos, which was published in the spring issue of interweave knits—just in time for my birthday last week!

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this snuggly shawl is just the thing for a sudden bout of bitter cold weather—big enough to wrap around on top of your coat lapels and light enough to fall into luxurious folds that capture warmth and hold it close. and who doesn’t love having an extra layer handy at the office?

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one day soon, when spring comes on us suddenly, you can ditch that coat and just wear the shawl for a stylin’ solution to changeable weather—it’s attractive both coming and going in the warm coals shade (my favorite kind of clothing).

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and even though it’s high on function, it’s also got some really fine features that are all aesthetic, from its openwork hem (just look how beautifully that BBDK yarn blocks out)

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to the diagonal body pattern that falls into natural pleats so prettily around the shoulders.

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i knit this lighter sample in our ginny sport yarn (in the georgia shade) on needles two sizes smaller than the pattern calls for, but my sample still blocked out to the same measurements as the DK version.

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it’s a little airier and frothier, but still warm when gathered all about the head and neck. it would be lovely as a wedding shawl over bare shoulders; this is a nice fiber choice for sensitive skin.  ginny DK would also work well, lending a luscious density closer to the hand of the BBDK.

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emily modeled this for the camera back in october, when we still had green leaves on the trees.

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not only was the design included in the interweave issue, but they wrote up a lovely story about our bare naked wools yarn label as well; if you have a copy of the magazine, check it out on page 4.

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and do you know, i haven’t even mentioned the best part yet: it is super easy to knit—that’s a promise. first, it has no special or challenging sts; just the basic k, p, yo, and simple decreases.

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and then, the wrong side rows are worked entirely in purl except for a few at the very end, which are in knit. great for traveling or spectator knitting, terrific for beginners.

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it’s a good choice for a first shawl project because the dramatic results belie its simplicity. who knows, this could be mister knitspot’s next knitting adventure . . .

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after all, i’ve got another birthday coming up in less than a year.

spring in the air

anne wrote this in the late evening:

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february first and among the things i never thought i’d think or say out loud in the dead of winter: spring is in the air.

with the east coast still buried under several feet of snow (poor anne marie tells me they are still digging out in eastern PA), and just coming home from the snowy mountains of utah, i found myself this weekend changing down by several degrees in sweater weight. hunh.

it all feels very confusing because it’s hard to know what to feature in knitting news, what with new IMMERSION club projects on the needles and all.

but no time to waffle, that’s for sure—i’ve got plenty of deadlines to get to, no matter what the weather would tell me to knit. there are several secret projects on the go that are set in stone at this point, but i’ve been sneaking in spring swatches wherever i can, sinking my fingers into skeins of hempshaugh, ginny, and stone soup fingering yarns, as well as a variety of laceweight options.

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i knit up this delicious pile of springy possibility over the last few days and yesterday morning i washed the swathcesup in sudsy hot water to determine what the final fabrics would be like and whether i would need to reswatch anything (say, on a different needle size).

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as my nana used to say, ain’t that grand? it really is amazing (yup, every time!) to see the change that comes over the fabric after a nice bath.

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my ginny DK swatches were perfectly fine before washing, soft and cuddly, if a bit curly with slightly uneven stitches. a person might be tempted to say i’m not going to block this fabric because i don’t want to lose the depth

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afterward, though, they are simply sublime; you shouldn’t skip the washing. yes they have slightly less three-dimensional depth but the stitch definition is now amazing. it offers the same or better “depth” without the distortion or funny drape. washed fabric will do lots more for your silhouette, trust me.

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and that soft, delicious halo? shut the front door! i would wrap a bare naked baby in this fabric.

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these are swatches for a cardigan and pullover. i actually think i’m going to do these in separate patterns, because the plant fiber swatches (upper two) are a different gauge and drape; i think they’d work best in a loose summer pullover. the bottom swatch in stone soup fingering yarn is perfect for a three-season cardigan, smock, and/or jumper, something like ivar, but slightly more femme.

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then i took all three shades of hempshaugh fingering and swatched for a skirt i’ve been meaning to publish for years.

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every time i wear this one i get lots of compliments and requests for the pattern. i just never felt like i could nail down the right yarn for it—til now. hempshaugh is perfect. and i would love another one of these to wear . . .

as you can see, i’ve got my work cut out for me over the next couple of months; plenty to dream on while i finish up my winter knitting deadlines. plus, i’ve got some color projects on the boards as well—i’m about to start a shawl in spirit trail nona, which i’ll tell you about as soon as i get it on the needles.

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my stone soup physalis is progressing, though i’m having to alternate work on it with this deadline projects i mentioned earlier. still, a few rows here and a few there keep it growing.

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i’ve started the short row pattern, which is so gratifying; this part grows quickly and is a nice change of pace from those longer hem rows. it won’t be long til this one is blocking . . .

well, time now to head for my knitting chair or i won’t be getting ahead for today. as i knit, glancing out the window now and then, i can almost see one of these in my near future.

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the shoe fit

anne wrote this in the early morning:

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ok, i never did snowshoeing before but i always wanted to try it. and yesterday i got the chance. kim knows a mountain trail that begins less than a mile from her home and so, after the kids left for school and we’d had a nice hour of morning knitting, we got into some outdoor gear and headed for the trail.

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mandatory selfie to kick things off

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there is a lot more snow here in utah thats there was last year when i visited. and tons more than we have at home (it’s been a dry snow-less winter in our area).

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we trekked uphill for a little over an hour and the first half of the journey was more open; we could have easily gone off trail to explore a bit if we wanted. one thing i didn’t realize before coming to utah for the first time is how stunningly beautiful it is—the mountains look fake here, haha.

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climbing higher, we got into some denser forest. kim was trying to get us all the way to the horsetail falls, but wasn’t sure how far it was. as it turned out, it was farther than we could manage that day, maybe a goal for hiking after the snow melts.

the woods were as beautiful as the open stretches; we were following a trail made by some kind of sled or snow mobile, maybe both. in the trees, the path narrowed a lot, taking us over little hills and what might have been rocks or fallen trees underneath.

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aren’t the trees amazing? i have a love affair with pine trees anyway, but the ones here are impressively tall and well shaped; i could tour the woods for a good long time. it was so quiet here; you could hear a pin drop. we saw a few other pole marks from skiers or snowshoers, but not many. the snow was so completely undisturbed in most places that it has a thick furring of sparkling crystals on top, like a coating if crushed sugar candy.

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this is the view from the top of our climb, which i was really enjoying, by the way. snowshoeing was much less strenuous or difficult than i’d imagined; it’s pretty easy to get up to speed as long as you dress warmly and have boots that fit well. i would definitely take this up as a regular activity if i lived someplace with snow and mountains like these. and who knows—it might be fun to explore some of our county trail system at home on snowshoes; i might try it once we get some snow.

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the trip down was considerably faster; i had to concentrate more, so i didn’t take as many photos. but as we neared the bottom, the sun was hitting the mountains just so and i got this shot. nice, huh?

i have to hand it to kim; she moved here from southern california just over a year ago and has become quite the snow bunny. i’m glad because she got me to try something i might never have done!

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it’s been a crazy week since ensemble came out—almost as soon as it was published i had to be out the door to the craftsy instructor summit last weekend.

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which a was super intense and interesting learning experience (still processing a lot of it, haha).

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since i was going to be that far west, i decided to tack on this little after trip to visit with kim’s family. they’re not all here, but you get the idea—everyone is growing up fast but so far, happy and healthy.

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cole will be getting married to and in april—hard to believe this is the same boy that held my sock for the camera during my first visit with their family!

it looks like i’m going to get to meet up with rex again over the summer during the alaska cruise i’m teaching on in july—he’s going to be working up there again this year.

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kim an i also drove to sundance one day, which i’d never been to. i’m not a skier so we didn’t do any of that but we did eat lunch there and take in the giNORmous icicles hanging all around the windows. wow. the ride up and back was breathtaking, too.

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during the week i had another rare opportunity—touring the inside of the provo mormon temple, which is open to the public for just a brief time before its dedication in march.

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the temple burned to the ground in 2010 and has now been rebuilt; the tour provides a fascinating glimpse into its history and an introduction to mormon ceremonial tradition.

we also knitted a LOT this week. i am mostly working on secret projects that i can’t reveal just yet, but also swatching for the spring collection . . . more on that when i get home.

i’m flying out today; it will be sad to leave but i’m also looking forward to seeing david tonight.

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i’m hoping he’ll have some of this ready when i get in, mmm!

repeating

anne wrote this mid-morning:

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there are definitely some things in life that i have no desire to repeat—seventh grade and all of high school, for instance. but as a knitter, i get a lot of pleasure and relaxation from the repetition—from stitch to stitch and row to row, i like the rhythm of patterns that are easily executed with one basic group of sts, in slightly different arrangements.

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often, it’s so comforting that knitting one isn’t enough and i end up working through two or three of the same design before i’m satisfied (and even then i may come back to this project later to repeat again for gifting).

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the last six weeks have been such an exciting and nerve-wracking time, first with the process of pulling our ensemble collection into presentable shape—we were all on pins and needles waiting and wondering how you’d like it—then with aftermath of catch-up tasks and travel this week (when it rains it pours, haha).

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that said, even during the most busy and stressful times—why, even when working late, late nights and not sleeping—this knitter must have a project waiting with open arms when she does take a break; something to sink into and bask in the repetition of simple stitches. aaaahhhh.

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and it’s especially great if it’s a gratifyingly quick knit—maybe not simple, but interesting; something to make all the other stuff go away.

for me lately, it’s been the physalis shawl. i really REALLY enjoyed knitting that first one in fine cabécou lace. well, that first one was not nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity and interest in making those spectacular leaf shapes—i couldn’t stop wondering what they’d be like in chebris lace and maybe a few other yarns i love. so, with ten days to go before the collection was scheduled to go live, i cast on this second sample in truffe.

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it did not disappoint. busy as i was most of those days, i relished the prospect of sneaking in an hour in the morning with my coffee and another before bed. there they were, those leaves that seem to appear out of nowhere on the needles—yes the cast on is long, but once you set up the pattern, they seem to knit themselves (i’m serious; i have no idea how they get done so fast). it helps that the stitch count is constantly decreasing—by the time the hem is done, i think we are down to half the stitches (motivating in and of itself, yes?)

and then the short row shaping—always addictive, am i right? at least for me . . . then there is the big finish at the top, where you just can’t wait to see what happens next. anyway. it all conspires to kind to keep me glued to the project in any free moment and before i knew it, it was done. this time, in less than four days—kind of disappointing, haha.

just kidding; i was actually really glad that there’d be plenty of time to include photos in the look book.

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 we’ve discussed before how homely this particular piece of knitting is when it’s on the needles—just a regular dog’s dinner. but the first glimmer of what it can become is already showing through after a good soak—once it relaxes a little, you can see some interesting openwork start to show up.

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the concentration of decreases vs increases is so imbalanced that the solid areas seem to float, once the shawl is subjected to some rigorous stretching (pull harder than you think—really).

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personally, what i love about this lace is its ragged, papery appearance, as if it’s disintegrating before my eyes. so in this case, i’m even in favor of stretching the edges SO much that the pins create uneven points along their borders. to me, it contributes to the look i was going for.

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remember the pods that are my inspiration for this lace?

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by using needles much larger than you’d think for lace knitting (5.0 mm in this case!) those lacy inserts become nearly skeletal, appearing to provide only the most fragile supporting structure to the solid parts. love that . . .

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and oh my, crisp as it looks all pinned out flat, how soft and fluid it is when the pins come out.

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you know what i’m talking about . . . these things are irresistibly gossamer when they are finished; we can’t keep our hands off of them.

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sigh; i  love this photo.

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and another one already on the needles . . .

i’m in utah with our friend kim3 for a few days; i’ve finally caught up a bit and have lots of edited photos to show you, so i’ll be back with another installment tomorrow. right now, we are getting ready to go snowshoeing!