Archive for the ‘spinning and fiber’ 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.

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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.

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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…

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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?

who’s ready for refreshments?

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

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the dog days of summer are officially upon us. linked to the rising of the dog star, sirius, ancient romans observed the dog days from july 24 through august 24. well, we are right on schedule with rising temperatures and humidity that threaten to to throw us into sultry, late summer torpor.

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dog days were popularly believed to be an evil time when, according to according to Brady’s Clavis Calendaria 1813:
“the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.”

hmm, no wonder our knitting mojo can go astray in this weather—makes you wonder how the world might have turned out if A/C hadn’t been invented . . .

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oh wait—you can just stop by our place, haha.
like those old egyptians and romans—and most people on earth today, in fact—we live without mechanical cooling and find other means by which to keep comfortable during these hottest days of the year.

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naturally we seek yarn solutions—as we do with all of life’s challenges. believe it or not, there are fabrics that not only make this time of year tolerable, but actually enjoyable.

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so naturally we wanted to represent our love of these fabrics in our yarn lines. we started a couple of years ago, sampling hemp and cotton blends with one of our mills, but those plans kept getting sidelined because the mill was too busy to handle the experimentation process.

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i happened to mention the situation to our ohio mill in the spring, never dreaming that they’d be positioned to produce the kind of yarns we desired and SNAP! next thing i knew we were holding samples. and not just attempts, but seriously fine test skeins.

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well we got right on that, swatching and knitting and making and drooling the whole time—we looooved these yarns!

and now we can share them with you so you can experience them for yourselves. i’m telling you, these will cure any knitting malaise you’ve fallen into.

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first, we’ve got hempshaugh, a merino/hemp/silk blend that has a wonderful airy crunch while feeling like a soft old t-shirt next to the skin. this one is a super wicking fabric; it never feels soggy, whether you’re knitting with it or wearing it. hempshaugh is available as a fingering weight in millet (left) and buckwheat (right).

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i knit my swatch on size 7US (4.5 mm) needles for an airy fabric that has plenty of structure for garments. i’m planning to knit a skirt with it as soon as i finish my current project, which is knit in hempshaugh lace.

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this amazing yarn has such wonderful body that the laceweight version can be knit into featherweight tops, scarves, and shawls on needles we can all deal with—size 5US (3.75 mm) and even bigger for lace.

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it makes just the most beautiful fabric; you won’t want to miss knitting something with this yarn. like the fingering version, hempshaugh lace is available in both millet (above) and buckwheat (below).

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but you know we never stop at one.

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what fun would that be? and how would we layer things up to create wonderfully varied looks if we had just one cool yarn?

plus, we just couldn’t resist—when our mill showed us this luscious alpaca/cotton/merino/nylon blend, we were lost. we’re calling this blend ginny and it is also available in two weights—ginny sport and ginny DK. right now it is in stock in the first shade, texas, a creamy off-white, perfect for hot summer days.

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haha, yesterday erica picked up this swatch and smiled, then said, “it feels like a stuffed animal!” i knit this one in the round to see if the yarn would work for the gearhead pullover and it will, though it will be very light and airy (but comfy!).

ginny is cool and smooth and amazingly stretchy with great recovery.

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the sport weight is perfect for lightweight sweaters and socks and shawls and just about anything you’d use a heavier fingering yarn for. i can’t wait to try it in some socks.

next time i will be back with another post about these yarns, discussing more of the nitty gritty facts and figures, as well as lists of pattern ideas for knitting some up now.

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til then, why not browse our selections of ginny sport, ginny DK, hempshaugh lace, and hempshaugh fingering. tell us what you think; tell us what you’ll knit!

 

true blue

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

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this land is your land, this land is my land

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from california to the new york island

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from the redwood forests the the gulf stream waters,

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this land was made for you and me.

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as i was walkin’ that ribbon of highway

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i saw above me that endless skyway.

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i saw below me that golden valley

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this land was made for you and me

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I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps

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To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;

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And all around me a voice was sounding:

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This land was made for you and me.

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When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,

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And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,

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As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:

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This land was made for you and me.

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Nobody living can ever stop me,

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As I go walking that freedom highway;

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Nobody living can ever make me turn back

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This land was made for you and me.

—woodie guthrie, 1956

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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!

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mixed greens

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

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our area was literally engulfed in rain during the time i was in new york and for several days after my return. it was so dark and dreary in fact, that i caught myself dozing off at my desk at the most unlikely times (like 9:15 am after waking up at 7!).

it wasn’t all bad though—our garden certainly got off to a healthy start with all of that delicious rain to feed it. but the weeds also benefitted and by the weekend, things were looking more than a little bedraggled out there.

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so when the skies cleared on monday and actually stayed that way into the evening, david and i made it our business to get out to the garden for some much needed cleanup.

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when i first got home last thursday, the swiss chard were mere sprouts, an inch high with a couple of cotyledons. by sunday afternoon they were six inches tall with several sets of true leaves and in dire need of thinning. i knew if i didn’t get it done on monday, it would be several days before i would be able to get back to it and by then the roots would have set, making the job more difficult.

so first i got to work on that, gently removing seedlings that were growing one on top of the next. the largest and most intact ones i replanted all around the garden, wherever i could find space; i figure they should “take” somewhere or other. there almost can’t be too many greens  . . . says she.
(i love greens; they are my favorite garden thing and i could eat them every day. that said, i have almost no time to deal with a boatload of garden produce each day, so we shall see!)

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there were many, many seedlings that were much too small or broken to transplant; these i placed in a small basket and plunged into an ice bath inside the house to soak and wash. after our garden work was done for the night (essentially, when it got too dark to see), we made big salads for dinner and used these as an ingredient. tiny green sprouts like these are one of the most nutritionally dense foods you can eat—go us.

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the next thing on my agenda was pruning the tomato plants. tomatoes produce best when they have few leggy limbs to divert energy from the fruits. lateral growth should be nipped in the bud because it encourages overgrowth of leggy, nonproductive limbs. this takes some time but is SO worth the trouble, especially if you are gardening in a smaller space. i will refer you to the experts for actual advice, demonstration, and illustration of tomato pruning:
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT PRUNING TOMATOES and CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

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our basil is doing wonderfully this year as well—david interspersed it with the tomatoes and it seems very happy (unlike our previous couple of years, when most of our basil failed). you might have noticed that he also put down some black cloth to discourage weeds—something new for us. it will keep some moisture in the soil on hotter days as well and help the mounds keep their shape, too.

BTW, the mounds really showed their advantage during the rainy weeks—the soil drained very well and there was next to no puddles laying around the garden (and by extension, very few insects or nasty fungus).

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this morning i was up at the crack of dawn and went to visit the garden for some photos before the sunlight got too harsh. still damp out there, but with everything weeded, thinned, and trimmed up, the garden looked much, MUCH better.

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tomatoes looking strong and straight, with plenty of space around their stems for air circulation (the better to keep fungus away).

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potatoes growing taller by the hour—they are looking super this year as well. we plant everything in rotation except for the tomatoes (because of their growing frames, we will move them less often). this year the potatoes are in the area where i had greens last year.

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the greens kind of failed in that spot because the earth was so heavy that they couldn’t put down a good tap root. this year we planted potatoes there instead, so they could go to work breaking up some of that clay soil. david made mounds on top of them planted with onions, leeks, and some peppers; garlic is also nearby. with all the root vegetables in one place, we can rotate greens over there next year (leaf follows roots).

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on the other side of the tomatoes, closer to the back street, we have rows of squash, eggplant, beans, and greens. the squash is looking very well so far; fingers crossed that it stays that way.

we have a great variety of squashes in all shapes and colors. another vegetable i love to cook with when it’s fresh form the garden—hopefully, it won’t be long before these first ones are ready.

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look at my eggplant!! i am so pleased over this one—i would have picked it by now but i really want to take it just before i’m ready to cook it and that will be friday night, for either a thai or indian curry. my mouth is already watering. round and oblong eggplants are also on their way to go with the squash into large pots of ratatouille.

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and last but not least at the very back of the garden, my green beans have started climbing the fence—they are on their way and looking good. we just have to make sure now to keep those weekends free in late july and august for putting stuff by when it all comes to fruition.

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remember what i said the other day about those lilies? there you have it, they are blooming.

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around the corner, the dye bed is exploding with meadowsweet blooms—how beautiful are these?

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they are complemented by tansy, also in bloom—no wonder i’m almost choking on pollen, haha.

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out near the front of our yard, the yucca is heavy with flowers as well—i remember when we moved here and this plant was a single short stem; these are well over six feet in height, maybe seven.

i know that these are the best days of gardening, when all the plants are still growing and the weather hasn’t gotten to them. june is so beautiful, but july can be very, very hard on them. let’s hope we don’t have too many big temperature swings or overly dry weeks; i would love to have a successful garden year for once, haha; the last few have been discouraging.

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it’s positively inspiring, to be able to look, touch, smell, and dream on all this luscious green. and you know where i’m funneling all of that inspiration, don’t you? if you guessed ENVY club, that would be correct. excitement is ginning up over in our ravelry clubhouse—if you need a little taste of what’s to come, i highly recommend a visit there, haha. kat is bubbling over to know what we’re going to knit first—let’s keep her company while she exhausts herself guessing, haha.

signups for ENVY club will close in one week; we have some single spots and some double dip upgrades available now, but when they’re gone, there won’t be more. our yarn orders for the entire club are now finalized—get these last ones before someone else does!