Archive for the ‘book reviews/events’ Category

lauren’s first fiber show

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

lauren wrote this in the afternoon:

My name is Lauren and I’m the new design assistant here at KnitSpot working on social media graphics, advertising and some photos. I have really enjoyed the last few weeks of working here, everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. I’m currently a junior at Kent State University studying Visual Communication Design.




My first fiber show was a great success! I had a ton of fun meeting everyone that stopped by our booth and learning more about yarn, fiber, knitting and patterns. As someone who has no knitting background, I was very interested to see how everything worked and how the fiber was actually put together. The first day we were at the show, it started out as pretty overwhelming considering there were so many people around, but as the day went on I warmed up to the atmosphere and really enjoyed getting to socialize with the customers. As a graphic designer, I spend a lot of time in front of a computer and sometimes miss out on connecting with our customers face to face – so this was a great chance to get to talk to everyone, listen to what projects that have going on and what they’re interested in. Another thing I loved about the show was walking around and seeing how everyone’s booths and what they sell compared to what we sell at BNW. I learned so much about the different types of yarn, the different weights and how it matters what type you use for each pattern.




Thanks to Laura and Erica for making the weekend a blast and teaching me more about knitting and fiber, I asked them a lot of questions through out the weekend and they were sure to answer everything!

This show definitely made me want to learn how to knit; I think it would be great to sit in on one of Anne’s open knit nights here at the shop to try to pick up on some things. I’m excited to go to shows in the future, especially once I get the hang of knitting, I’ll get to shop more!

holiday weekend

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015


i’m always amazed that no matter what date memorial day lands on, our poppies burst into bloom to celebrate the holiday. how do they know??


i was convinced that between the cold and wet last week (we had a frost one night), they would be a little late this year. but when i backed the car out on my way to the grocery store friday, there they were, the first pink, papery petals just uncurling—and i jumped out to take a picture for you.


yesterday, after the weekend events and festivities were complete, i snapped some more on my way home from the office, when i saw that the red ones had since bloomed as well.


the bees were so greedily feeding on them that their backs had turned bluish purple from rubbing against pollen loaded stigma.

more about the garden later on—let’s talk about the weekend; did you have a good one?


all of our hard work and preparation to get ready for the great lakes fiber show came to a close on friday, when the whole kit and caboodle was loaded into several vehicles for the trip out to wooster. many MANY thanks to darpan, barb, erica, anastasia, lillian, and david for packing it all and setting it up.

i stayed on at the ranch to greet our weekend guests, cherie and anne marie, while getting ready for my friday afternoon yarn voyage class.

we had a terrific class that evening—so much so that as usual, i forgot to take photos (maybe laura got some?). afterward, dinner with the crew and knitting back at the house, at least for as long as i could keep my eyes open, haha.


the next morning it was up and out early for all of us to get ready for a busy show day.


for lauren, our new graphic designer, this fiber event was her first; i think she had a lot of fun.

i’m always so tickled to see new and old friends, knitters who read my blog and hang out in our ravelry groups, people from near and far.


chris and laramie were visiting from england!


it’s also nice to see what everyone is wearing at the show. since it’s usually warm for this event, scarves and shawls are the norm, but in the early hours, it’s sometimes possible to see a knitspot sweater in the wild.


bonnie, who raises sheep and alpacas, used some of her 3-ply 50/50 alpaca/merino handspan to knit this highlander sweater last summer. the stitchwork is just beautiful, isn’t it?


on a road trip through new england, she purchased these beautiful celtic knot buttons for it.


on the way back to canton that day, we made our traditional stop at the dalton dariette for ice cream; cherie is now a devotee.


duly fortified, we went right on to a knit along with our retreat group that night. i had been working on my third triticum sample in stone soup fingering yarn for about ten days by this time and i was just winding up the right front piece, which i had started a couple of days days earlier.


i finished that off at the KAL and cast on for the first sleeve. i need to have this sample completed by the friday morning, but i really want to have it all seamed up by wednesday so i can wash it will before we leave.


even though i’d done a lot of knitting up to that point, this meant that i still had to knit two sleeves and the back. i got busy right away; by the time we left the hotel KAL, i had started the ribbed cuff.

sunday was another full day—class for six hours and afterward, i think i took a nap—can’t remember!


i definitely worked on my first sleeve for at least a bit, but i must have been too tired to get far, because on monday morning just before the yarn tasting, it looked like this.

by mid morning our weekend events were complete and i made a beeline back to my study to put my feet up and enjoy a day of knitting and listening to audiobooks. i probably should have been gardening but i really need to finish this sample too!


the sleeves go quick, thank goodness; a little before noon i was at the underarm bind off (they are three-quarter sleeves) and ready to start the cap shaping. that took no time at all as the stitch count diminishes with every couple of rows. by 2 pm i was done.

i was so pumped at how quickly i’d knit that sleeve that i figured i could knock out at least the second one before  i had to go to bed last night.


sure enough, it is possible; in fact, by 7:30 pm last night the second sleeve was ready for cap shaping as well. i had plenty of time after binding off to begin the final piece—the sweater back.


i got cast on and started the hem ribbing; by the time david was ready to stretch out and watch TV together, i had begun the pattern for the central panel. at this point, i was indeed tired—and even—just a little bit—tired of knitting, though that wouldn’t have stopped me if i wasn’t sleepy, haha.

i was on a mission.


i worked for a few hours this morning while i had my coffee and made some phone calls; by eleven, i had finished the body shaping and was heading to the underarm bind off.

i knit some more this afternoon during another meeting and now i’m ready to shape the armholes—a finish tonight will be mine!


i have to run to an appointment now, but when i get home, i will complete the back and steam block all my pieces. i can start seaming while we watch TV later.

more seaming tomorrow and then a nice hot, sudsy bath to make this fabric soft and cuddly and bright—stay tuned!

(also, once it’s done i need to get back to the gardening .)


danger—spring cleaning site

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015


when i was growing up, the mention of spring and fall cleaning made me grain inwardly—it wasn’t so much the work (spring cleaning always coincided with easter break from school), but the complete upset to the house that got to me.

my mom left no stone unturned as she made her way through every room in the house, turning out drawers and closets, polishing glass and windows, scrubbing wood floors, doors, and furniture to prepare for rewaxing, washing walls and ceilings, stripping off seasonal bedding, drapery, and slipcovers to replace with its opposite, and finally, tossing out anything damaged, worn out, too small for anyone to wear, or otherwise unfit to keep (some day i’ll tell you about her weekly cleaning routine, haha).

i don’t remember why, but all that disturbance made me feel insecure and at odds with the world.

which is why i never EVER did any of that in an organized way. sure i did big cleanings every six months or so, especially when i moved house (which was frequently for many years). i just never called it spring cleaning and i never did it at the same time each year.

but now that we live in a house—and one that we’ve inhabited for almost thirteen years (gosh, where did that time go??)—i see the point and i wish we could work out some sort of time warp once a year that allowed us a two-week bubble to tackle this place with the fervor it—and we—deserve.

the best i can do is to make sure that certain things are attended to seasonally—the care of our precious woolens, sorting out closets and drawers, a whole-house changeover of textiles (which has the added bonus of providing a change of scenery), cleaning and storing away out-of-season items, and a little extra tidying up.

this week, since i was washing all of my personal wool sweaters to put away for summer,  i took on the added task of washing and refreshing every single one of our (numerous) shop samples. it hasn’t ever been done and they really needed it.


(washing a ton of wool garments may seem daunting but the resulting fluffy freshness of the clean fabric is totally worth it) 


since i work at the house and not in the office, i figured i could put in loads to wash while i worked at my desk. i created three different staging areas (one on each floor of the house) for drying them.

what i hadn’t counted on was running low on wool soap—by yesterday i was dipping into the last bottle of my personal stash of meadows patchouli wool wash. hmmm . . . i though about ordering a large quantity of the unicorn soap we sell in the shop, but realized that i didn’t want to wait til it arrived (ok, i was afraid if the washing came to a halt, i might lose steam or get distracted and not finish it).

i had been exploring the idea of making some solid lotions recently and in the process was introduced to the soap making culture (pretty big). i wondered if i could find a family simple recipe for making wool soap and sure enough, there are several options. and we already had everything i needed in the house. so last night when david went out for a few hours, i decided to try my hand at it.


these are the ingredients i used. the only one i wasn’t sure about was the denatured alcohol (harmful if swallowed). but almost every recipe i found listed it as an ingredient; from what i can tell, it keeps the soap and any essential oil solvent (in a liquid or semi-liquid state). so i figured that as long as no one drank my wool soap, it would be ok for one batch and that i can search for a better alternative if i plan to make more.


making wool soap is incredibly easy. first, you grate some soap; i used an old bar of homemade olive oil soap that was gifted to me by a very old woman we met years ago in spain, who makes all her own soap from her family’s olives (i saved it too long and it got hard). this was plenty for my first batch, but in the future i will probably use a commercial olive oil (castile) soap. if you shave the soap very finely, it will dissolve instantly and completely. you can also used commercial soap flakes.


put it in a bowl and add the same quantity of boiling water; i also added a dab (maybe a couple teaspoons?) of lanolin here, to help protect my woolens. whisk the soap and water together—it will get thick and stretchy, kind of like a caramel mixture. when all the soap is dissolved add the denatured alcohol (1/4 of the water quantity) and optional essential oil (.5  ounce).

i like scent in my wool soap, especially natural ones like cedar, patchouli, eucalyptus, or lavender—they also do double duty to add a layer of moth repellent (not enough to kill moths on its own, but every little bit helps).


the alcohol thinned and cleared the mixture, making it pourable. the one i used did not have the nicest smell, but the odor dissipated as the mixture stood and cooled. by morning, the soap had a clean fresh scent plus the smell added by the essential oil.


but i was anxious to test drive it immediately so i rinsed out the mixing bowl and utensils into a washtub and got my most-worn scarf out of the closet to clean. this soap made suds, though less than i am used to, which is fine; it dissolved well in cold water. i used about a teaspoon of soap for this three gallon tub.


my scarf came out of the wash sparkling clean and fresh smelling—the recipe recommended a vinegar rinse afterward, which i would do in the washer, but did not do in this hand wash test. this soap can be left in without rinsing if desired, but i always rinse my washed fabrics to remove any residues (why not?).


my gray garden shawlette was looking very pretty by morning, the wool was glossy and full of life. i really love the way the dry fabric feels. while i may make a few tweaks (i would love to find an alternative to the denatured alcohol), i think my soap is a keeper. yay.


today i did two large loads of woolens with it and i’m even happier now that i tried this approach—when i see the fabrics glowing like this, with that soft halo of fluffy fiber reaching out to me, i’m hooked.


oops, time for knit night to begin—i have to run. barb will be here in a few minutes!


for mother’s day or any day

Sunday, May 10th, 2015


something new has been brewing across the street and i’ve been anxiously waiting for its opening day unveiling to share with you. finally last monday a sign went up that said, “pleasantry garden opens friday”.


and though bret was still adding final touches at 7 am, he was ready for customers at 9 o’clock sharp andi ran right over to make my contribution. by this morning the garden was filling up so when i went out for my run i snapped a few pictures


abby is just beside herself with all the visitors who stop by. what is a pleasantry garden, you ask?


it’s so sweet and something we should all remember to do each day—think kind thoughts and share them; so simple.


leave it to bret to make an event of it and and give it a place where passersby can stop and soak in some goodness.


can you tell which one is mine?

i hope if you live nearby or are passing through town later this month going to or from the wooster show, you’ll stop and plant a pleasantry flower. and while you’re there, it would be SO COOL if you came to visit the BNWs shop, right around the corner.

i don’t have much new news today; working on all the same projects as last time and swatching for new ones.


my explorations in argyle textures continued for a few days and i think i have all i need to make a decision now.


this one is probably the most faithful to the lines of an argyle pattern but sort of points out that in a single tone, there isn’t enough contrast to make the statement i’m going for—the lines form a much too regular pattern for my taste and they overshadow the negative space.


this one has a little more contrast, using the same shapes as the original with just a few lines added. still, it relies on the angle of the light being just right to see the argyle in the pattern.


still, i think i do like the original one the best—it’s stronger and has more contrast. with that decided, now i can move on to making a draft pattern for my prototype

i probably won’t begin the knitting right away, since i’ve just started the other sweater and i want to stay on track with that—i’ll hold off for a rainy day, when i need something new to jump start my motivation.


anyway, i’ve got this shawl project and another one to work on for times when i need variety. this is my triangle version of love me two times—which is worked top down for a change of pace. i think i’m going to name this one double happiness.

i’ve been ok’d to join our ravelry KAL for the LMTT design so i can play along and show progress—you should join us! we also have one going for the triticum cardigan; if you feel you’d like the support of a group around you while you knit either of these projects, please come over and participate.

alright, that’s all i have for now; it’s much too nice outside to be chained to the computer, even for the blog!