Archive for the ‘yarn and dyeing’ Category

It’s Back

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Hi, again! I had to drop by and show you some more tempting new things…..

For those of you that missed out on the spinning fiber last month, we have some more!

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This time around we have one of our very special plant fibers as a roving option. This super shiny and silky soft fiber is Hempshaugh Buckwheat. Hemp is usually a rough plant fiber, so many spinners haven’t used it, but this is a soft and unique blend that will make for an excellent project!

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The other fibers are Better Breakfast (65/35 Merino/Alpaca). This dark, stormy grey is a rich color that will complement many outfits and skin tones.

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This creamy white is a soft and luscious color. It has some slight variations in shade that lend a lot of character and charm to the roving.

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You all seemed smitten with the Chebris Multi last month, so we had our brilliant millers create a similar fiber blend in Better Breakfast. This unique mix is similar to our muesli with a stunning blend of grey and brown. It is the perfect shade for a sweater or accessory as it pairs beautifully with most neutrals.

Now, for the yarn! I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to use the fluffy and cozy new Better Breakfast Worsted to make a blanket wrap for my sister. I could not decide which of those shades to use, so I grabbed a couple skeins of each and decided on some stripes.



I am knitting Hypoteneuse. I highly recommend this pattern if you’re like me and haul your knitting everywhere! I knit in the car, in class, at the laundromat, restaurants, waiting rooms, and everywhere else. I had this pattern memorized three rows into the motif and it goes so quickly. I am knitting a half to a full stripe a day, depending on my homework demands.



My kitty, CC, loves to cuddle under it while I knit. She is an adult, but will never get bigger than a kitten due to a genetic disorder. She is a great knitting buddy and loves anything Alpaca!

More to tempt you…



Biscotti on the top and Muesli on the bottom. The biscotti is a little different from the fingering and DK shade as it was blended with brown alpaca and light merino as opposed to brown merino and light alpaca.

When I saw the two new shades in Worsted, I was planning my next project. I love the way this yarn is working up as a blanket or wrap, but I want to do a cabled hat like Woodcutters Toque or Gobi  with the new shades.

What would you knit with the new Worsted, and which fiber was your favorite this month?

Good Things Take Time, So Just Be Patient

Friday, March 11th, 2016

The above title reflects my fairly recent impression of pattern reading. Unfortunately I don’t read music, but imagine it’s akin to reading a knitting pattern, especially the terminology. A musician’s notes, chords, bars, rhythm all culminate to create a song. Our knitting language is not dissimilar, we have knit/purl, cast on, decrease, wrong side, and more, lots more actually, resulting in fashionable wearables.


Admittedly my initial reception of pattern reading was less than stellar, preferring to be coddled and no so interested in knowing the intricacies of a reading a pattern. Having an expert knitter/designer and pattern writer seated next to me is the absolute best, indulging every call for help. Anne would offer an impromptu lessons with each interruption, however as I said I was not so receptive at that time, being satiated with my immediate problem being resolved. I feel awful about this, taking advantage of Anne’s generosity, could have been a much better student. To my credit I did realize my failures and yes lack of gratitude (by way of not absorbing imparted knowledge Anne offered) and took steps to rectify.

My first foray into deciphering knitting patterns was the Blanket Statement Club, a rather audacious introduction I should think. An assortment of various patterns to be conjoined, now throw in a bit of stitching and crocheting and you have what constitutes a brilliant foundation to understanding and reading of patterns. Perfect for beginners like myself, affording an opportunity to hon my newly acquired skill set and be rewarded with a lovely blanket, of which I have yet to complete, hopefully soon, after finishing Anne’s hat (although if it does not fit, will gift to someone else instead of ripping out). Using the original Breakfast Blend for my blanket project, if anyone is interested the Blanket Statement Club, we can arrange a selection of yarn for you, just forward a note to me.



44 squares so far.

Early on I was unable to grasp the concept of casting on, despite Anne showing me several times. In an attempt to sort this out I took to watching Anne’s Grandmas cast-on video, not only upon casting on, but a few times when not knitting. Resulting in a technique that has become embedded in my mind, instant recall as it were now. The stitches of a cast-on must be consistent, not too tight to allow for some elasticity, no doubt true for most other cast-ons as well. Important to get just right as it serves as the foundation for the project.


In the beginning I found myself often ripping back a square to begin anew (Blanket Statement project is composed of many square patterns, averaging about 31 rows), when a mistake would occur. As I was not able to make corrections on my own, this can only be done so many times before frustration ensues and desire falters. At this time I began to pay keen attention to Anne’s lessons, showing me how to undo several stitches and ripping out just a few rows and picking up stitches. This lead to a transition from angst and frustration to a relative pleasure. A better understanding of the mechanics of knitting, a sense of unravelling (pun intended) of what has heretofore been somewhat nebulas. Good place to end, will continue another time, want to talk about charts versus written instructions next time.


Renovation update, about 2/3 of the ceiling has been removed, my desk resides under the remainder of the ceiling on the other side of plastic sheathing. Will probably temporarily relocate upstairs now that the temperature is rising as spring is near. It is astonishing the lack of interesting relics from the past, you would think that a hundred year house would be a treasure trove of such things. Not so much this house. A fire place in the center hallway was uncovered during the kitchen renovation. Much to my surprise I found a written note and drawing on the wall from the 1940’s where I was scraping off wallpaper, part of the note is obscured by plastic sheathing just now. I thought it curious by the seemingly lack of layers of wallpaper, this explains it. Sadly the plaster can not be restored as I had desired, sustaining a lot of damage when crown moulding was installed. Old plaster will serve nicely as a base for a new finish coat of plaster.




Previous installation of crown moulding damaged plaster. Bil suggested using fabric softener to remove residual glues from scraping of wallpaper, works really well, as you may discern from the two photos above. Still requires quite a bit of elbow grease to get the job done, but worthwhile as it is necessary for preparation for finish coat of plaster.


I try to respond to everyone that leaves a comment, so if you any question and/or comments would love to hear from you.

that is one big truck

Thursday, November 12th, 2015


spent the week so far writing and correcting patterns, working on my skirt, and madly swatching for the red scarf project (so glad everyone is excited to get on board!).we are working on a followup version of our celebrated festivus yarn, this time working with our confection sport and possibly confection worsted, too.


to get started, i’ve been swatching my designated red scarf motif in shades of confection sport. i started on size 7US (4.5 mm) needles, using four shades and changing every four rows. i love the effect, but with all those yarn ends, i think this pattern is better suited to a circular construction, so i’m earmarking it for the hat and cowl set. Also, while well suited for a hat, the fabric is stiffer than i would like for a scarf so i need to move up to a bigger needle.


test driving it on size 8US (5.0 mm) produced a light, soft, drapey fabric that still holds its shape (rebounds nicely when stretched) and has excellent stitch definition. it’s got depth all day and feels super cushy to squeeze in my hands. in this larger swatch, i changed shades every half repeat and used all five shades.

still, for a scarf or wrap, it could be lighter and drapier—in my opinion. i got to wondering just how far i could push the needle size; at what point would the fabric ever be too loose?


i got out my size 9US (5.5 mm), which is really stretching it to create a fairly solid fabric from most sport weight yarns, but we find that our BNWs have an almost unending level of loft; give them enough room and they will grow into it, while maintaining a cohesive fabric with integrity. the swatch (above) looked good; lighter and airier than on the smaller needles, perhaps with a bit less recovery. but enough to keep its shape in a scarf or wrap.


into a hot, soapy bath it went to remove spinning oil, dust, and to bring the yarn back to its original twist.


by this morning it was dry and looked great—still showing good stitch definition, even stitches, and nice body. the overall fabric is a little more translucent, allowing light to filter through and fill up the fabric til it glowed.

so here’s what i’m thinking—because i have so many ideas already for what could be done with this stitch pattern and combining shades. what do you think of knitting the scarf and wrap sideways, with the long edge as the cast on and bind off? then the shades could be worked across; i think that would be fun and different; also very easy to turn into a cowl, yes?


THEN, we would have two spinoff patterns—one for a hat and cowl in this pattern on smaller needles. it will be much easier to deal with the color changes when working in the round. and what a cute ski cap and gaiter that would be!

the other spinoff would be a blanket/wrap/scarf pattern (ala wheaten or sky ladder) for the confection worsted yarn, to knit in horizontal stripes from bottom to top.

want a little peek at a VERY rough draft of what this might look like in color?


it’s very crude; just something i whipped up in photoshop. we’re not even sure if we are going with five shades or four. we will definitely make the solid red options available as well, along with choices for natural shades and solids.

the yarn will be named festivus 2.0 and i think i’ll name the color gradients for santa’s reindeer, with rudolph being the brightest, naturally.

i also have to think of a names for the three projects; i’d like to stick to ski themes (as opposed to holiday-specific ones or color references); i think the stitch pattern looks like ski slopes and carving in the snow. if you have suggestions, please add in comments (short, punch names are best; non-english words are welcome!).


all sorts of excitement back at the ranch this morning when a HUGE truck made its way up 15th street and stopped at the end of my block, clearly unable to make the turn. seriously, it was the biggest truck i ever saw.


it was the yarn truck.
i knew we were expecting a long-awaited delivery but i didn’t know it would arrive with such fanfare, haha. i had to run out and show the driver where the shop was located in the back alley.


our LONG awaited shipment of stone soup yarns has arrived!


we are beside ourselves with happiness; all summer long people were asking us about this yarn and why we didn’t have it at the shows (not our choice, believe me!).

along with a few boxes that also came last week, we are now restocked in all shades and skein sizes, at least for a little while (this yarn is popular!). it will take a few days to get it all unpacked, counted, weighed, labelled, and logged into the store, but if you’ve been waiting, it won’t be long now.

and i have it on good authority that next week we should be getting a big shipment of chebris worsted so that vendange sweater knitting may commence.


last night was knit night in our shop. susan worked on her oatmeal stout cowl in a variety of yarn, amanda worked on her monkey bread hat in a super soft mink/cashmere blend, donna knit on a roger that blanket in briar rose abundance that she is knitting for her husband,  and barb worked on her cam cable pullover in better breakfast DK, color poppy seed.


you might remember that i knit one of these in kent DK (color kelp) back in the winter (wow, feels like yesterday to me).


the pattern and photography have been completed for some time, but once it got warm in the summer, we decided to hold off on the release til it got cold again. we will include this garment in the january ensemble collection i was telling you about last week.


i worked on my skirt, both at the shop and then after dinner once i was back in the house. i added a few inches just in one evening.


i put a few more rnds on this morning with my coffee. i think it’s looking really nice; before the next blog i’ll take it off the needles once more to check the shaping; i’ll be sure to take photos when i do, hopefully with it on myself.


this yarn—kent DK, color driftwood—is so rich and has such incredible depth; it’s kind of hard to photo graph sometimes because, being a lustre fiber, it reflects light from it’s polished exterior. look at that upper left corner; it’s almost metallic.


so rich, sigh . . . whenever i’m away from it all i can think about is the next time we’ll be together . . .

oops, time for me to wrap things up here; i have an appointment in an hour and i’ve done nothing with my hair today. tata!

true blue

Saturday, July 4th, 2015


this land is your land, this land is my land


from california to the new york island


from the redwood forests the the gulf stream waters,


this land was made for you and me.


as i was walkin’ that ribbon of highway


i saw above me that endless skyway.


i saw below me that golden valley


this land was made for you and me


I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps


To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;


And all around me a voice was sounding:


This land was made for you and me.


When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,


And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,

As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:

This land was made for you and me.


Nobody living can ever stop me,


As I go walking that freedom highway;


Nobody living can ever make me turn back

This land was made for you and me.

—woodie guthrie, 1956


all of us here—myself, david, erica, anastasia, laura, lillian, and lauren—extend our sincerest gratitude for your continued support of our american made products. each skein of BNWs is touched by the loving hands (and hooves!) of farmers, shearers, mill technicians, and our attentive staff—people (and animals) you know by name.

your purchases make the yarn world go ’round and we thank you. happy independence day!