Archive for the ‘book reviews/events’ Category

Craftsy: Finishing Handknits

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

finishingweb

Are you holding onto your hats!? Anne has a new Craftsy class! Awhile back she flew to Denver with lots of large bags filled with notes and step outs.

craftsyLessons07_10

for a secret project with these guys

craftsyCrew07_10

and we got just a little bit of behind the scene fun

craftsyStudio07_10

and now all the details can be revealed—it’s a class on FINISHING!

As you know, finishing is one of Anne’s favorite subjects. She wants everyone else to enjoy it too and she feels that more knitters would get jazzed about finishing tasks if only they felt better equipped. SO many knitters feel they can’t do it well, but Anne doesn’t think it’s a matter of talent—it’s really about arming yourself well and a willingness to adventure into new territory.

Cuz let’s face it—who doesn’t feel good about learning new things?

titleCard web

I love all of Anne’s previous classes—Grafting and Button Bands and Buttonholes—and this new class on Finishing is a MUST HAVE. I’m that knitter who pays/begs/barters for someone to sew a seam, insert a zipper, etc. Or, sadly, I leave a project 99% completed because I fear messing it up by finishing. Anne has always told me that I can handle it, I just need patience and a little trial and error. And I always say, “if only you were there when I was finishing.” Well, now she can be.

The Essential Guide to Finishing Handknits is a collection of beginning and intermediate finishing techniques which focuses on achieving that clean, polished look you crave for your completed knits. Lesson one and two cover the essentials you need for all finishing tasks, but after that, I can jump to any lesson I need.

One day, that might be to a few tips on blocking

blockingweb

Or another, I might want to see my options for seaming.

annehands4web

This is what Craftsy calls a reference class—basically a wide survey of finishing topics with as much helpfulness as they can cram into the time allotted!  This “kitchen sink” format works a bit like an encyclopedia, touching on a wide number of areas and offering the best and most popular technique or two for each, then refers the viewer to other resources for more in-depth coverage (such as other Craftsy classes on specific finishing topics, like Anne’s Button Bands and Buttonholes class or her Grafting tutorial).

annehandsweb5

It has just the right amount of information on each subject without overwhelming you with a jungle of material. No longer do you need to fear new techniques—you can look them up ahead of time to see what’s involved and quell your fears about trying them for the first time!

Want to suss out whether you’re up to sewing in a hem or inserting a zipper in that sweater project you’re considering? It’s in there. And later, when you need step by step instructions for executing that—or just a quick tip or two—this class has you covered.

Anne can be right in my living room and I can watch it over and over until it clicks. I’m beyond excited! I’ll be able to execute a seam

seamingweb

that looks like this when I’m finished.

graftingweb

Watch out world! I may be able to finish a Highlander in Stone Soup DK!

highlanderweb

The Essential Guide to Finishing Handknits is available now here! I’m excited to hone some new skills and build some confidence! The winner for the FREE class in our giveaway has been notified by email. Congrats!

Fall Show Season is Here!

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

pure michigan web

Bare Naked Wools was on the road again! This past weekend my friend Kim and I packed up the car and headed to Allegan, Michigan, to meet Susan and Emily to set up a popup store at Michigan Fiber Festival.

Susan packed up every yarn, including all the new stuff,

uhaul1 web

and filled every square inch of a Uhaul!

uhaul2 web

This was going to be a big show and we had to have lots of stock for natural yarn lovers!

While Susan drove, Emily worked on Squeeze Me (yes, she’s knitting now!)

emily cowl web

and her lovely driver even pulled over to fix a dropped stitch!

droppedstitch web

We all made it to Allegan and set up the booth in SUPER CRAZY WIND! Thanks to helpful booth neighbors, and a few cinder blocks and bricks, we got the tent erected and secured so Kim and Susan could start laying out the displays.

setup1 web

The next morning after a lovely sleep and meals at my parents’ house (HUGE thanks to them for hosting the booth staff!) it was time for customers.

customers4 web

customers1 web

customers2 web

customers3 web

customers6 web

customers7 web

We helped lots of knitters build new projects! Cabled Keyhole Scarf was a popular new kit in Travertine

cabledkeyhole web

and lots of knitters were running to the booth for the new Freefall and Floozy patterns for Chebris Lace. Kim helped a knitter build a Color Affection with Stone Soup Fingering

color affection web

plus we all built lots of Knitspot wraps, blankets, and sweater projects for shoppers.

We met many new knitters who fell in love with Bare Naked Wools for the first time, and also lots of familiar ravelers stopped by.

customers8 web

kakayers realized she needed to purchase a new yarn card because we’ve added lots of colors and yarns since she bought her first one.

These ravelry friends (jukaheff, libelulaknitter, CrafTeaMama, my3greys) were very happy to pose for a group photo with their new goodies!

customers5web

And CrafTeaMama dropped off pecan brown sugar shortbread from her kitchen. The cookies did not last long! Yum!

cookies web

When I floated around on my break, I noticed lots of Knitspot samples in the Knitting Notions booth, and Briar Rose Fibers was promoting Yarn in the Barn.

Anne is teaching workshops (details here) at the event and BNWs will have a pop up store! To advertise the collaboration, Chris is showcasing Knitspot knits in BNWs and BRF.

highlander

sheltie traingle web

mitts

Highlander, Sheltie Triangle, and Hot Waffles get a totally new look with handdyed accents! When I saw all of these pieces I immediately thought a similar pairing would work for the Oatmeal Stout KAL in the BNWs ravelry group.

confectionFOJ web

You only need one Bare Naked Wools yarn in your project to participate in the KAL fun! Join us here.

The next October popup for Bare Naked Wools is Rhinebeck After Party. The event starts with shopping Sunday night and then three days exploring color in workshops with Anne. Last year, attendees had so much fun extending their whirlwind NYS Sheep and Wool Festival weekend at our after party. They loved meeting up with ravelry friends, sharing their fiber haul, shopping for new projects, learning new techniques and of course lots and lots of free knitting time. We pretty much take over the hotel lobby and it’s a fun knitting hangout all day and into the evening. Attendees love the free time built into the schedule to work on class projects or tour the local area with friends. There are openings left in all workshops and we have scored a great hotel rate (details here). We can’t wait to see you!

emilyEricaO

summer fine

Monday, July 28th, 2014

butterfly07_28

though it’s been mostly chilly and rainy over the last few days, i did manage to get this sunny photo during a rare break in the clouds.

butterflyB07_28

as i stepped out the back door on my way to the store the other day, this little butterfly was so intent on exploring the marigolds that it allowed me to get really close up to take some pictures.

butterflyC07_28

i hovered above, snapping every few seconds until i got the money shot for you (it didn’t take long).

the garden is just buzzing with butterfly and bee activity these days. our neighbors got a hive in the spring and we are visited by their honey bees as well as a host of bumblebees, wasps, and other types.

cookingTomatoes07_28

the result being plenty of good eating for us. i just collect produce daily until i have enough to make something and then spend some time in the kitchen on rainy days cooking it up (more on that later).

buttonsStore07_28

i was kind of tied up with other matters on friday, when we opened our little retail space to customers for the first time. i ran over in the morning to “check in” and sarah put me right to work figuring out a solution for displaying our buttons more prettily, haha.

storeA07_28

and of course after that, it was one thing after another, tidying up this corner and that, trying our different ways to display samples and merchandise. sarah concentrated on getting all the structural pieces in place first and now we’re working on warming things up with loads of luscious samples. it’s a work in progress, so to speak.

during our first weekend, we enjoyed visits from friends who drove in from an hour or more away, as well as some who live more locally. it was a lot of fun to chat with everyone who stopped by. we’re really excited to begin having classes and yarn tastings soon.

all of this evolved so quickly that we’ve barely had a moment to really plan how it would look; one minute there was a beehive buzzing in the first floor of our house and then next thing we knew, we had an offsite space for it. and then the possibility of making a shop presented itself—well, it’s been a whirlwind month, alright. we’re pulling our look together as quickly as we can . . .

store07_28

next weekend we’ll be open during the same hours—please stop in if you are in the neighborhood for any of the hall of fame events. we are just a block or two off the grand parade route on saturday morning and only a few blocks from the hall of fame itself—come on over and say hello!

raceShirt07_28

this weekend we were also excited to be sponsoring a running event here in town! the hands for hope run was a benefit to support TIQVAH, an after school program here in canton that provides students with new learning experiences, a place to do homework, and support for making positive choices as well as healthy snacks and meals before heading home at the end of the day.

i was SO excited to run in this event and wear the shirt with the knitspot logo, but as luck would have it, i developed a bit of tendonitis in my ankle on thursday that took me down. i had to be content with cheering everyone on at the start line, pout.

i also had to sit out the pigskin run on sunday morning, a hall of fame race. thankfully though, my ankle seems to be benefitting from the rest; it feels LOT better already and i’m thinking that tomorrow morning i should be able to go walking on it, weather permitting. if that goes well, then i’ll try some easy running on wednesday, or a run/walk pattern. i don’t want to take any chances; i have a couple of big races coming up later in august and september that i definitely don’t want to miss.

pedalPusherBlock07_28

late last week i finally got my new pedal pusher cardigan into the wash for a good wet blocking.

pedalPusherBlockA07_28

wow did that go nicely! the sweater blocked out perfectly to the exact size it was meant to be, both in width and length.

pedalPusherBlockB07_28

and the fabric looks awesome—knit in our 100 percent corriedale confection worsted—i can’t get over how consistent and smooth it is.

and with hardly any encouragement either; i washed it in the machine on the hand wash cycle in a mesh bag, then just shook it out and laid it flat, smoothing here and there.

pedalPusherBlockC07_28

this is what a beautifully balanced yarn will do for you.

pedalPusherBlockD07_28

i was a little behind on getting the pockets knit up, so once i had them done, i soaked them separately in a bowl of soapy water and pinned them flat to dry on my pressing bench.

pedalPusherBlockE07_28

once i figured out where i wanted them placed, i stitched one on during my class this afternoon (i still need to steam it) and will do the other on wednesday night, i think.

pedalPusherPocket07_28

i love how it looks with the pockets applied and they’ll be so useful. they totally turn this cardigan into a jacket i can run around in for a good part of the late fall and winter. with a great scarf or shawlette at the neck and a slouchy cap?? so much more comfortable than a big coat, especially in the car . . .

pedalPusherFormB07_28

doesn’t it look great form the back? the fabric has such nice drape; the consistency really shines in this view.

and i used just a little more that four skeins of yarn. while technically it’s a worsted weight, which sounds heavy, the springiness of the fiber makes an airy yarn that goes a long way and produces a garment that is light and very breathable to wear.

pedalPusherButtons07_28

now i just have to decide on the buttons. i’m down to two options—these cedar ones that i love, but which might be too big and a bit rough for the buttonholes. or some bone ones that are kind of a marbly greenish gray.

pedalPusherButtonsB07_28

i’m kind of leaning towards these because they’re so smooth and then also, you know how i love the hand-me-down-from-grampa look.

i decided to give it some thought while i worked in the kitchen this weekend.

cookingVeggies07_28

there was a lot to do—on the one hand, i had a sink full of vegetables which i wanted to turn into a pot of ratatouille.

cookingGreenBeans07_28

and on the other hand, a tidal wave of green beans to square away (these are all from a four or five foot run of climbing beans that matured in just the last few days).

cookingPrep07_28

when i woke up yesterday morning to the sound of rain steadily drumming on the roof, i knew it was the perfect day to spend in the kitchen, starting with the vegetable stew. i cut up each selection into nice chunks and sautéed each one separately before adding to a pot of simmering tomatoes

cookingRatatouille07_28

from eggplant to peppers to onions and squash, the dish progressed until it was a full pot of deliciousness that just needed some seasoning and fresh basil added. mmm.

while that simmered, i put a big pot of water on for blanching the beans and got to work taking the tops off. thank goodness for audiobooks when a tedious task is at hand, right?

cookingGreenBeansA07_28

before long they were all cleaned and ready to go and once you get to that point, the rest is but a few minutes work getting them blanched and into and ice bath afterward. i ended up with three bags of plain beans and two cartons of green beans in sauce for the freezer, plus one carton of green beans in a vinaigrette for our dinner that night.

which we also ate with our little harvest of green peas. i had planted just a few feet of pea vines to see if they would grow undisturbed by rabbits. squirrels, or birds. lo and behold, they did. we only harvested one meal’s worth, but next time i’ll do more.

butterflyA07_28

tonight we’ll eat that ratatouille with some cod fish and another night, we’ll eat some with pasta. about half the pot was divided into two containers for the freezer; in january we’ll eat that and pretend it’s july again, hehe.

confectionSportTestA07_28

i have more blog fodder, including the results of testing the sport weight confection yarn, but i think i’ll save that  for the next post. i don’t want to get boring on you . . .

Purple is in Full Bloom

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

purple hose web

Lately, it seems like purple is everywhere. This weekend I passed field after field of potato plants

photo 1 web

sprouting purple flowers.

photo 2 web

My dad arrived from the farmers market with this lovely bouquet in tow

photo 1-1 web

and I couldn’t get over the range of purples. Lavendar is in full bloom everywhere and I can’t pass a plant without rubbing a sprig between my fingers. It is my favorite smell and one of my favorite colors.

Did any of you see this on 4th of July?

purple firework web

We had purple bursts in the fireworks display in Birmingham!

I have always said green is my favorite color, but purple runs a close second. I think because it comes in so many varying shades between red and blue. This proves true in the plants in full bloom  at the Detroit Zoo

253 web

248 web

267 web

251 web

255 web

240 web

241 web

photo 1 web

photo 3 web

285 web

Since I have purple on the brain, I can’t help but take photos of the purple coming at me. In the cafe at Meijer Gardens, there is an amazing glass installation by Dale Chihuly.

IMG_1858 web

The ceiling is covered in glass pieces that range in all the colors of the rainbow, but of course we happened to sit below the purple section.

The other day when Matt and I were running errands in Detroit we passed this

IMG_1866 web

and this

IMG_1861 web

and he exclaimed, “look at all that purple!” Now I have him noticing things he never did before and the colors used. It’s like we’ve been on an I Spy game for weeks.

I’m sure that some of you remember the purple potatoes I posted a few weeks ago,

purplepotatoes web

but I forgot to mention that all my groceries were bagged like this!

purple bags web

Purple is everywhere and I couldn’t be more excited that today is the release of the FIRST pattern for the FIRST knitting club shipment of Passion. Anne’s club all about purple couldn’t have better timing. Purple is the Pantone color of the year and I can’t wait to see the journey Anne is going to take us on throughout the months of the club.

The first pattern was released today and while I was writing this post, Robert the mailman brought my first squishy package.

1stShipment web

I won’t leak any spoilers, but OMG am I excited about the pattern and photo shoot Anne did for this project. Amazing! You can see spoiler pics of the pattern on Anne’s ravelry designer page here (look for Passion Spoiler 2014 as the cover photos).

The yarns for this club were meticulously chosen from small business owners with a passion for quality yarn and beautiful color. They are amazing! There are a few memberships left and you can read more about it here or join right now here.

IMG_3722 web

We’ll get your package right out so you can cast on with the rest of us. The Knitspot in Full Color ravelry group is BUZZING right now. Catch the fever and get your purple on here!