Archive for the ‘yarn and dyeing’ Category

all good things under the sun

Friday, August 1st, 2014


i can’t help posting another photo of our tall marigolds—i find them astounding. every time i look out the kitchen window and see that mass of orange pom-pom heads bobbing in the breeze, i am SO glad we planted them! one of these days i’ll remember early in the day to cut a few for each desk in the office.


since we had a nice sunny day today, i took some photos throughout the garden as i made my morning rounds. right underneath the marigolds, the summer squash are hanging in there—we’ve lost the zucchini plants to something, but these yellow zephyrs are plugging away, giving us a couple of nice little squashes every day or two. we’ve been eating them in everything from vegetable stew to pasta to eggs.


and tomatoes are ripening daily now—still just a few at a time but more each day. for now, i’m letting them ripen right on the vine.


tonight i’ll cook some into a very light marinara sauce with green beans, one of my very favorite summer dishes. last weekend i had to make it with canned tomatoes, so that batch went into the freezer. THIS weekend it will all be home grown and i plan to chow down on them; i can’t wait.


a plethora of peppers is maturing on the plants now; i wish they would hurry up and get big so i can pick them. the first wave always takes forever and peppers won’t put out new flowers until you pick the old fruit, stubborn things. sometimes i pick immature fruits just to get things going, a sacrificial crop if you will. i’ve picked a few but i’d rather they just got big already, since they taste better when fully filled out.


now the okra on the other hand, knows just how to play its cards; it puts out breathtakingly pretty flowers in gorgeous shades of apricot, pink, and yellow before making its fruit. they only last  part of a morning so if i’m up early, i try to get outside to see them before they wither away. trust me, it’s worth getting up for . . .


working our way to the back of the garden . . . well, we can’t exactly get all the way back there because the potato patch has completely taken over.


it has spread itself right out to the fence, meshing with the carrots and any green beans that had the unfortunate destiny of being late bloomers (which happened with one section of climbing beans, though i don’t know why; they came up fine on one end of the row but on the other, much later and less).


speaking of green beans—holy cow, aren’t their flowers so pretty?


and i’m not the only one who thinks so . . .


the bees are almost obscenely interested in what those tiny blossoms have to offer . . .


and so gluttonous to get their noses into it, that they don’t even care how close i come with the camera


what is that thing they say about the tango?


my favorite shot of the day—capturing the excellent gymnastics involved when one forgets oneself and goes into a swoon over whatever is in that honey pot.


i think it’s time to give them a little privacy.


back inside the house, i fired up the iron to give a final steaming to my completed pedal pusher cardigan. i stitched on the second pocket during my wednesday night class and i think they look pretty good.


they just need some steaming to lay flat, as do the button bands and the hem (i don’t like it when the hem ribbing pulls into a pumpkin shape; i prefer it to hang straight).


i spread the sweater body flat on my pressing table, secured it with a few pins, and used a wet cloth to steam the hem and the pockets.


they look a lot lees lumpy afterward.


especially when hung on the form.


it fits great; i’m very happy with the results. it’s roomy enough to wear long sleeves or even a heavy shirt underneath, but the raglan shaping means i still get a nice fit through the shoulders.

i can’t get over how light and airy the confection yarn feels; when i think “worsted weight” i think of something heavy, but this really isn’t. it’s a great weight for a fall sweater jacket; just what i’ll be wanting when i head off to rhinebeck. i’m pretty sure this will join my stone soup highlander as a go-to sweater.


and how about this dark chocolate color? i couldn’t decide which one i like best so david picked this shade for me and  i love it now that i see myself in this photo (i’m fond of the cookies and cream, so i would have gone with that, but it’s really too close in shade to my hair color which is not good).

now that met my secret project deadline for the month, i can spend some time over the weekend writing up this pattern to send to the tech editor. yay.


speaking of confection, i promised i would show you a little bit about the development of the sport weight version we’ve been working on.  the last time i talked about this project, we had just received a box of sample from the mill for the various possible spinning configuration.


i think there were five or six version in all, each spun to slightly different specs for comparison. i eliminated several of those choices out of hand, without even test knitting them—these were the ones that looked very inconsistent, and too loosely spun to wear well. there were even a couple that just looked wrong—as if the singles had not been plied tight enough to even neutralize all of its twist (which gives it a rather funky texture and may cause it to misbehave when knit into a fabric).

of the ones that i decided to test knit, we have from right to left: the original 3-ply sport which is spun to the same specs as the worsted weight, washed; the original sport unwashed; a 3-ply sport spun a little looser, and a 2-ply spun a little tighter. i swatched each one in the same knit/purl pattern as well as in stockinette.



the original 3-ply one feels a little stiff when it’s knit on smaller needles, but what i found is that after a good soak in hot soapy water, it softens and blooms beautifully. you can tell a lot of mill oil and dust got washed away too, which helps. notice the terrific depth of texture this fabric has, even after washing; corriedale fiber is very springy.


the stockinette fabric is very regular and cohesive, even in its prewashed state.


the 2-ply yarn is super squishy and delicious feeling but it makes a slightly less consistent fabric. this might right itself after washing; i didn’t do that yet. we all agreed that while we love the way the 2-ply yarn feels, it’s kind of weird that the texture doesn’t match that of the 3-ply yarn.


above and below, the 2-ply is on the left and the 3-ply on the right. a noticeable texture difference between the worsted version (3-ply) and the sport version in 2 ply would not be appealing; 2-ply yarn also tends to drape differently and pill more easily.


the sum of those factors, plus the fact that they don’t translate stitch patterns with equal clarity, starts to make them feel like they’re not part of the same family.

plus, we have a 2-ply yarn in the kent DK, which performs very well in a 2-ply construction.


next it was time to compare the two 3-ply versions, which were spun just slightly different. really, there isn’t much of a difference in the fabric at all, but the looser construction may result in a slightly less consistent fabric surface.

so we all decided that sticking to the original version was the best plan and now the mill is working away so we can have it in stock for fall. i can’t wait; this will be the perfect yarn with which to design the longer cardigan version of my aztec mazes pattern—a project i’ve been wanting to do for a while. the sport version will be offered in all the same shades as the worsted confection, so maybe this time i’ll go for the cookies and cream . . .


thee are still a good number of weeks left to enjoy summer knitting and summer weaner, so i cast on a new cotton cap last week and have been working throughout the brim a few rounds at a time. this design is a reknit of the bocce cap i designed at christmas time (in blue, above) and then never published. i need to write the pattern but i totally forgot how i made it, so i thought it’d be wise to knit one in soft, sport weight cotton. yum.

elsewhere in the tangle on my knitting couch, my empreinte crescent shawl in ecobutterfly cotton lace is stalled because i got distracted with secret knitting. but i’ll be getting back to that in a few days.

our cotton KAL on ravelry has been lots of fun and very popular; all of us here have been inspired by seeing various patterns knit up in a cotton fabric rather than wool.


barb knit this absolutely adorable cotton skirt using the organic cotton sport yarn with the kiltie pattern and making it a little longer. she took home some of our custom designed glass buttons the other night to finish it up so her granddaughter could wear it to school in a couple of weeks.


let’s end on a really nice note (literally!)

our scholarship recipient, brandy wrote a very nice thank you note to our community to mark the end of her freshman year at college.


whenever i hear from brandy, i am so impressed with how well she is doing and how she keeps us updated on her life at school. thank you brandy. and thank YOU everyone for making her success at school a stress-free possibility.

and now it’s time to go—very late here in ohio and david is waiting for me to join him in some TV watching and knitting. bye bye, gotta fly . . .


good folks, good music, good eats

Sunday, July 20th, 2014


look at this nice little haul from our garden. it’s so great to be in that season where i can go out with my colander and fill it with a variety of things for dinner. we’ve got squash, eggplant, a few okra, a couple tomatoes, a handful of peas, and some green beans—plus thai basil and a sheath of swiss chard.

i added a large onion, some shitake mushrooms, and a block of tofu and we had the perfect combination of things for a thai curry. which we cooked and ate last night, mmm-mm. how can you not have energy when you eat this way? i’m super excited to be cooking from our garden once again.


the other day, we had a visitor—our friend hunter hammersen, author of the knitter’s curiosity cabinet books, among others and a dear sweet colleague. she was down from cleveland to do some research for her new book project and we got to have lunch while she was here. which gave us time to talk for a few hours, which was wonderful.


her timing was perfect—we had just received a box of samples from the mill for our confection sport yarn, so i was anxious to show them to her. we had planned to have the sport version of our 3-ply corriedale confection worsted spun to about the same specifications—basically, the same yarn in a thinner diameter.

but then the mill thought the sport version might need some adjusting—maybe even a big adjustment to a 2-ply construction. i wasn’t so sure about that; i felt the two yarn weights should match in appearance and performance (and it turns out that every knitter i present the dilemma to agrees—don’t play around with the number of plies).

but i was willing to entertain the idea, so we got some samples spun.


now the 2-ply is squishier and airier; we particularly like the one on the right, which is spun a bit tighter. but wow, the difference in texture is a problem for me. plus, a 2-ply has several other traits that will make it perform differently from the 3-ply.

then there were three samples of 3-ply yarn, each spun  little more loosely to offset some of the stiffness that the miller felt was problematic.


the original yarn (top) with the three variations. truthfully, we all like the original yarn most and maybe the one spun just a tad looser. thanks to its lincoln lineage, corriedale fiber is a bit stiffer than say, pure merino, but that crispness provides incredible stitch definition and sheen, plus a sturdiness that merino on its own cannot offer. it still has lots of bounce; when knit on larger needles, it makes a lovely, soft fabric.

below, a swatch knit with the original 3-ply sample.


it’s been a really busy week, so i haven’t had time to swatch the best three or four of the samples, but that’s on my agenda for tomorrow. i’m pretty sure thought that we will either stick to the original 3 ply construction or go with the next looser version.


we showed hunter our new office and retails space, which is shaping up nicely—we are planning to be open for sales by friday, when activities are launched city-wide for hall of fame week and the enshrinement festival. we are located just blocks away from the football hall of fame, so if you are in town with a fan, please come by to say hello.

we’ll post lots more information about our opening as the week progresses . . . including contact information, hours, and any other pertinent news.


speaking of confection, now that my monthly club patterns are published and the purple club launched, i have finished my pedal pusher cardigan prototype and i love it.


it still needs to be blocked but i’m waiting til all my ends are tucked in (working on that now)


and my underarm seams are sewn up (i have one done and one to go). i’ve been squaring away the finishing work during the late night hours while we watch each daily installment of the tour de france.


my pockets are knit up but i won’t sew them on til after the sweater is blocked. since i knit the sweater all in one piece, it will be kind of hard to steam block the individual parts, so i’ll probably just steam the seams and then wet block the whole garment. once the pockets are sewn on, i’ll steam them as a finishing step. so exciting; i always love completing a new sweater, no matter what the weather (though it happens we are having a string of very cool nights).

now i just have to figure out what buttons i want to use; sarah has a whole bunch of my buttons somewhere in her sample stuff, so i have to wait til monday before finalizing that step.

i’m working on the pattern and should be able to send that to the tech editor before too long, yay.


i’ve also been working on my cotton empreinte a little at a time, during classes and while chatting on the phone. in fact, after i finish this post, i’m calling my mom, so i’ll work on it while we talk. it’s really turning out lovely; i know i’m going to love it.

now that david’s cap is done, i need to begin a new one; i was thinking that i’d knit up the bocce cap from last winter in one of the cotton yarns next, giving me a good excuse to finally release that pattern.


the other night we went to a wonderful party at our neighbor’s home to celebrate their retirements and the completion of some projects around their home. bruce is part of a bluegrass group so anytime they have a get-together, entertainment is on hand. i just love this photo of the group, haha; they are so much fun.


and even more so when the women join in.


david and i enjoyed chatting with our neighbors, and listening to music (this is him smiling)


i worked on my oculus scarf until it got too dark. i got two more repeats done so that wasn’t bad.


it’s such wonderfully lush piece, but incredibly light. the sweet georgia silk mohair that i’m knitting with is just gorgeous.


norma had the yard strung with colorful lights and had set up a memory tree that we could add to by making an ornament with a favorite memory written on it.


today i got up early to do a few things in the kitchen and then set out for my long sunday run. i’m training for a couple of half marathons that are coming up in august and september. i always do a  long run on sunday, but between may and july, i didn’t do any runs longer than ten miles. so i’ve been working on increasing and today i finally hit the thirteen mile mark again. i went a little faster than i probably should have, but it felt good.

i’m pretty sure i’m going to be feeling that tomorrow, hehe.

well, time to talk to my mom now; have a good monday. i’ll be back with more in a few days.


Tuesday, July 15th, 2014


after all that chatting and running on i did the other day, i totally forgot to update you on the garden. i know how everyone loves to see what’s growing in our yard.

well obviously from the photos, it’s time for hydrangeas to populate their globes with little blooms; how i love them in every stage.


first i think the entirely green ones are my very favorite and then they explode into blue-lavender worlds and i think, WOW. just wow.

and then, just when i thought i was sick and tired of pink forever, they transition again and voilà!


i am shown to be glaringly wrong.

this year our hydrangea shrubs are the greenest green, healthy and lush and abundant, but mostly lacking in flowers. each shrub has just one bloom—but what a bloom it is.


in each case almost vulgar in size and perfectness.

i don’t know what happened to the rest of the blooms but i gotta tell you, the ones we have are so spectacular, i don’t even care about the ones we didn’t get.


in fact, the whole garden is in vivid bloom right now, from lilies to green beans, so let me take you on a tour.

first i’ve got photos of the vegetable patch from each of the last three sundays, to compare with previous photos taken on june 19th, less than a month ago


first, when everything was still pretty new, before i left for denver.


then what it looked like upon my return last sunday—we had a lot of rain and cool weather when i was gone but the squash, peppers, and eggplant all had vegetables big enough to pick.



and finally, yesterday; it got hot near the end of last week and the soil was quite a bit more dry. but look at how those marigolds to the left have bloomed out


they are tall and covered with flowers to stand guard over the squash and greens nearby.  we’ve eaten several meals so far that include squash—we pick them at a very small size to eat when they are tender and delicate tasting. today i even had enough to share with friends.


speaking of which, the last squash in the row has climbed up into the barrel where i put one of the tomato plants and is using the tomato as a trellis to climb further (the neighbor’s bees love our garden patch).


everything over there is starting to grow into an inseparable tangle; i love it.


these nasturtiums have the prettiest blue-green leaves and bright red flowers, wow.


lavender in a pot at the corner to rub between my fingers whenever i pass by.


while most of the garden looks just beautiful, thanks to david’s careful tending, my chard patch is in dire need of thinning and weeding. i keep thinking i’ll have time to do it “tomorrow” but that extra time just never materializes.

vegetables have the w=sweetest flowers—so delicate they last only hours; a day if we’re lucky.


at the back, the green beans are climbing vigorously up the wire fence and putting out white and purple flowers. at their feet, the bush beans are doing the same and when i peek underneath their broad leaves to take a photo


what do i see but the tenderest of little string beans. in a day or two these will probably be on our plates at dinner, mmm.

the potatoes and carrots populating the remaining back area are starting to take over in a lush jungle of vines and feathery tops. i love when everything fills in like this because it really cuts down on the number of weeds that can grow.


moving toward the front, we see my favorite row of the garden—i love the mix of green (radishes, eggplant), purple (asian eggplant) and gold/brown (marigolds) all in one row. the only thing that could make this better is if the parsnips i planted alongside had germinated, haha.


back up front i see a welcome sight—a pair of nearly ripe early tomatoes. another thing that will be on our dinner plates in a couple of days (i will let them ripen completely on the vine for maximum flavor).


circling around to the front of the house, we are in the middle of lily season. besides a proliferation of day lilies, we have a wide assortment of asiatic lilies with their extravagant flowers and scents.


showy stargazers seem pinker than ever (i feel like they were a lot more white in other years)


and the fuchsia gifted to us by our friend anne marie is thriving under the eves of the front porch.

for now, just keeping the status quo is reward enough, with all that we’ve got on our plates at the moment.


the new work/retail space is coming along nicely; david has finished painting and has begun moving yarn and equipment from the existing office.

on saturday afternoon, he and i took a trip to pittsburgh to procure shop furnishings. we were going to order them online and have them delivered but when we discovered how long that would take, david said we should go pick it up in person. i was a bit dubious about fitting it all in our little car, but he thought we should try. erica betz just laughed and laughed as we drove away . . .


i panicked all the way through the store and mentioned several times that we could still back out, but david kept saying we should try.


i was heartened a bit when we got back out to the parking lot to see a possible plan B in the distance. i texted erica betz with a photo of our haul and she was still laughing.


david started loading the car; i swear he must have emailed someone to ask the exact dimensions of the boxes because the length fit exactly.


and before i knew it, so did everything else. there wasn’t a sliver of space left for sunlight to penetrate and we had to leave the hatchback partly open with bungie cords to hold it, but it was all inside the car anyway.


on the way to and fro, i knit on david’s hat and by the time we got home, it was done except for weaving in the ends, which i did this morning.

the pattern is proofed and ready to go as soon as we can get some nice photos (hopefully tomorrow!)

yesterday was sunday, which means a long morning run for me. i wish i had gotten out earlier, but i go to bed too late to be up at dawn. i need to train for some upcoming long races, but still nursing an overly tight hip muscle, so i have to be careful. it’s slowly getting back to normal and this weekend i did my longest run in a while with good results.


we were having friends over for dinner (i love using our new kitchen and living space for this purpose!) so when i got home and showered, i got to work on baking a pie. while i’ve been pretty happy with the gluten free crusts based on my own pastry recipe, i’ve been so happy with the results from the america’s test kitchen gluten free cookbook that i tried their recipe this time.


first i made the filling—black and blue berry—using a standard filling recipe with a bit of thickener, sugar, lemon juice and orange peel.


i made sure ahead of time that i had all the ingredients listed for the dough, though i did substitute their second favorite flour for the blend they recommend (i will make that at a future date). it was a very hot and muggy afternoon which made for some gooey dough, but i managed to get it in the pan with a fluted crust without losing my enthusiasm for the project, haha.


they don’t actually list a crumb topping for pie in the book so i tried their apple crisp topping


which is made from a blend of toasted oats and nuts ground to a flour along with gluten free flour, butter and sugar. it was really tasty, perfect for apple crisp alright, though more crunchy than i prefer for pie. i’ll have to find another crumb top to use; maybe there’s a crumb cake topping i can use . . .


anyway the pie turned out lovely, didn’t it?


mark just lit up with delight when he saw it, haha (sorry, i couldn’t resist that photo).


the filling ran a bit because it was still warm, but it set up wonderfully once it was cool. next time i’ll remember to start earlier . . . these leftovers were much appreciated at knitting class this afternoon.


and speaking of this afternoon, today it was back to work for all of us. the first USA shipment of our purple club went to the post office this afternoon—that’s a lotta packages, right? tomorrow we are doing the photo shoot with the projects and on thursday, the patterns will be ready to download. i don’t know who’s more excited, us or our clubbies.

we are just about sold out for this club but we do have a few spots left; you can still get in on the fun if you act now.

being monday, sarah was moving a bit slow today—that is until larry, our beloved UPS guy pulled up with a double shipment of yarn.


first, boxes of cotton to restock our online store; if there’s a color you’ve been waiting on, emily and erica will have it restocked by tomorrow afternoon.


there are also a few new goodies in this batch—a chunky, super soft textured cotton yarn that will be delicious for simple cowls, scarves, and hats.


i’ll let sarah tell you all about that in her ravelry cotton KAL when she opens some of the packages.


and as if that weren’t enough goodness for one day, there were several MORE boxes of new yarn from another direction entirely—this time the fingering weight of our newest addition to the stone soup family, in travertine. this is the first brown we are adding to the stone soup line; we’re hoping to do a couple of shades in this more golden brown. isn’t it lovely? the caramel and white speckles just knock my socks off.

today our friend bil came over to put all the shop furniture together (bil likes to put ikea furniture together). i think we’ll be ready very soon to do an unveiling. so sit tight and we’ll be back with you in a few days; happy week ahead!




Cotton and Cashmere Restock!

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

purabellacotton4lr web

Big news! Organic cotton fingering is now stocked in the store! This is pure heaven to knit with and Budding Apple would be a perfect fit!


budding apple

Wouldn’t this shawl be perfect in a natural colorway? It would be a versatile neutral piece to add just a bit of softness and warmth to a vivid outfit or a summer dress on a cool evening.

LOVe is another shawl possibility


and knit in the petite size would make a great accessory for a lightweight denim jacket.

I could also see Scotty in the organic cotton fingering,


giving the hat that extra bit of drape and slouch. Wouldn’t it be cute with some little delicate floral buttons? The yarn comes in shades of natural – khaki, painted hills, sandy twist, and straw harvest – and the colors are limited.

purabellacotton3lr web

We won’t be restocking the fingering weight, so be sure to snag the color you want soon. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Speaking of limited edition, the coveted cashmere from Bare Naked Knitspot club is back in stock too!

purabella1 web

Anne designed Petit Pois and Pea Trellis

petitpois_peatrellis web

for this gorgeous yarn and we have a very limited restock of cashmere in the shop. The patterns are part of the ongoing BNK 2014 ebook. We’re only in the third installment of this club and Anne has already designed eight patterns! There’s lots more in store for the remaining three months. Even though the yarn portion of the club is sold out, the pattern ebook can be purchased via Knitspot here or ravelry here.

Since we’re on the topic of Knitspot clubs, the 1st installment of PASSION is being packaged as we speak

IMG_4302 web

and shipped out to international customers!

IMG_3722 web

Then we’ll start shipping out the domestic packages by mid-month, for the anticipated exclusive club design that’s released July 17. We are so excited about this club all about purple! If you want to be part of the fun, or if you want to double dip on your yarn portion, it’s not too late. There’s a few memberships left here.

While everyone is busy getting the new retail space ready, new yarn is arriving by the truck load! Stone Soup is arriving daily and we will soon be restocked in all colors and both weights. Also, the sold out organic cotton colors from Ecobutterfly will be restocked any day. Keep checking our social sites for updates. There’s lots happening around here!