Archive for the ‘book reviews/events’ Category

thirteen miles on the erie canal

Monday, November 9th, 2015


another cold but gloriously sunny morning for the third annual second sole made in america race. i’m a happy camper if we are lucky enough not to have a high wind for the event and today we got lucky indeed.


mister knitspot accompanied me to the start line to take a few photos; i use a phone app to track my pace along the route.


the race is run almost entirely on the wooded paths that hug the edge of the ohio & erie canal where it runs through the neighboring town of massillon. one of these years i will remember to take photos along the way; the tree-lined route is so pretty this time of year!

unfortunately, no photos of the finish; david was staying warm and dry in a nearby coffee shop when i crossed the line, a little earlier than i expected. i didn’t think i’d end up with a good time today; i’ve been running regularly, but have not been putting in many longer training runs (early fall is so busy with travel, etc., i tend to skimp on training as i should). but thanks to a good base of every day workouts, i managed to pull out a decent time anyway; i’m sure i’ll pay for that tomorrow, haha.

meanwhile back at the ranch, four large and heavy boxes arrived this week form our ohio mill, packed tight with favorite yarns that were sold out for a while.


shades of better breakfast DK and fingering yarn, plus the long awaited ginny DK (i have been coveting a caïssa sweater in this yarn myself, maybe the mississippi shade . . . or should i do georgia?)


AND, hemp, hemp, hemp, in all shades, both lace and fingering weight. if you’ve been waiting on these yarns for say and atlantique top or a freefall stole, now is the time to pounce; they are all restocked.

i spent the week immersed in a spate of secret knitting projects which meant i didn’t have much to blog about (sorry!). now that those are done, i can turn back to some works in progress that i’m excited about.


my wool skirt (which i’m knitting in our kent DK, color driftwood)is coming along nicely and actually, it was good to spend some time looking at it from afar, adding to it only a bit. today i ran a waste yarn through the sts and took it off the needles to get a better look at how it’s shaping up.


first of all i am very happy with the shaping; the idea here is to achieve an elegant A-line shape, not too full at the bottom, but definitely nothing close to a pencil skirt either—i’m pretty sure that a more form-fitting shape would bag out after sitting in it a bit, whereas one that loosens at the hip to fall into slight folds will not. the waist will be elastic, but i don’t want too much gathering there (i avoid the dirndl shape at all costs, haha).

the inspiration for this design comes from my attraction to the wonderful skirts i’ve seen offered by activewear companies like ibex and title nine. i have a couple and they are terrific for adding a layer over tights or leggings—like a sweater for your legs. plus they travel really well.


(right now my sample looks just a  little bulky where the casing folds over at the waist, but the fabric will be much sleeker and have a lovely, light drape after blocking—that waist will flatten out nicely.)

i’ve been happy to put it on hold for a few days because i’m waffling about whether to add another repeat of the diagonal texture pattern to the top portion. my original design plan was to use the texture around the top, where the flattering diagonals would carry the eye downward. below the hip, “stripes” of ribbing would lend a more streamlined appearance, with increases in the between panels to shape the flare. then at the hem, one repeat of the texture pattern, enlarged by the increased stitch count.


what i can’t decide is if i should add another repeat of diagonals around the hips. i’m worried that once a shirt or top is added to the outfit, most of the pattern will be hidden and the skirt will look too plain. i’m not that far past the point where a second repeat could be added; i wouldn’t lose much by ripping back now. whole thing will end just above the knee (about four inches below the body of the dress form), so there isn’t a huge canvas with which to work. what do you think? if i have more pattern at the top, will i lose the illusion of that sleek length? decisions, decisions . . . hmmm, i wonder if i can photoshop a mockup?


well it turns out i can! and i’m so glad i did—because i absolutely hate it.
WAY too much, right? yeah . . SO wrong; we totally lose that sleek vertical line.


it looks infinitely more tailored and sophisticated without, i think. plus, it gives more wiggle room for changing the length and keeping the design intact.

wow, thanks you guys for helping me work that out. now i can stay calm and knit on, haha.


in other knitting news, i am swatching once again—this time for the annual red scarf project and our related scholarship fundraiser pattern. yes, it’s that time of year again, when we ramp up for the holidays by rallying together to make a good thing happen. you can read about the details in blog posts from previous decembers or at the foster care to success website.

in a nutshell, the organization lends assistance to kids who have aged out of the foster care system and are navigating an upward path by putting themselves through college. these students do not have the support of a family, so we try to pitch in with help.

here at knitspot, what began as a participation in the annual scarf drive has evolved—through your abundant generosity—to include a separate knitspot scholarship fundraiser. i create a special, original scarf pattern each year (which can be knit for the scarf drive or not) and all december sales of it generate our funding.


for the last three years, our scholarship has been awarded to brandy, who is enrolled as a junior in the curatorial studies program at washington university. we have watched her grow as a student and hope to help her finish out with a successful senior year in 2016/17; our funding helps to reduce some of the financial stress of putting herself through college.

we really enjoyed your excitement and participation that resulted from getting the pattern out early last year, so we plan to do it again! we should have the pattern ready right around thanksgiving (last year it was released on 11/25, our marriage anniversary, so i’m thinking that repeating that might be a nice touch).

by popular demand from readers, we will offer options to purchase the pattern at various price levels for those that want to give a little more (thank you so SO much for suggesting we enable your generosity!).


we are also putting together a kit in the seasonal “festivus” yarn—i KNOW! it will be a different base this year and we are working with a favorite dyer to get the perfect 2015 red. AND, we are thinking gradients, since they are so popular—i KNOW!! i think this will be a terrific update for our community project, providing oodles of possibility for participants to put their own stamp on the design, plus generate even more dollars for the fund.

while we await the dye samples (which should be arriving any day now), i am swatching a motif i’ve had my eye on with shades of our confection sport. we are so excited about this project—there are so many possibilities for options. i’m pretty sure the pattern will have not only the traditional scarf and cowl versions, but a wrap as well—one of those warm squishy manLace type rectangles.

so stay tuned and start planning—there will be several ways that you can help get the word out to make this our most successful year yet. i’ll be back soon with a swatching samples, dye dips, and more information!

little wonders

Sunday, November 1st, 2015


lately there has been a little flurry of books arriving in my mailbox, signaling a revival of new knitting publications. one that turned up recently caught my eye—one-skein wonders for babies, edited by judith durant and published by storey press.

when our grand nephew, baby eli, was born in january, i said i would wait to knit him a sweater until he was big enough not to grow out of it too quickly.


now he’s a big strapping superbaby of nine months and i’ve been casually entertaining thoughts of what that sweater might be (oh, and i am never going to let my nephew live down this photo, hahaha; he even dressed the dogs up in superhero costumes!).


so the arrival of this little book of treasures was quite welcome; i was looking for some inspiration and wondering what hand knits kids are wearing these days. filled with adorable photos and loads of patterns (101 in all!) for all manner of children’s wear and related items—everything from pullovers to pillows and all knit from one skein of the suggested yarn.


sweaters and other wearables top the list; there are a wealth of really cute articles of clothing included. in fact, i am quite surprised at what a knitter can make with just one skein—baby knitting is a real stash buster and a great way to use up all those singles in your collection.


and many are sized for toddlers as well, so we are not talking only about little tiny things for infants. another thing i like about this collection is that there seems to be a really equal representation for boys clothes—not usually the case. and yet, in my experience little boys love hand knits even more than little girls do.


although girls are certainly well represented too, with cute dresses, skirts, and sweaters.


a number of projects also offer interesting construction strategies to keep the knitting fun; sideways sweaters, blankets with “handles” that double as toys


and items that are super-functional for family use, such as coverups that are compatible with car seats


or—my personal favorite—cotton bibs without ties that double as mouth wipers! these are such a wonderful, quick, giftable item; any parent would kiss the ground you walk on if granted a few of these.

speaking of quick, cute, and giftable—there is no shortage of clever hats and booties for those times when the family of a co-worker or neighbor is expanding and you want to extend a little token of hand knit love, even though you don’t know the expecting parents personally. a tiny item to knit in one sitting is just the thing.


knitted toys can be a bit fiddly, but so worth the trouble for a dear little one and this book has plenty of those as well. most are knit in cleverly easy steps too, so that you can enjoy the process as much as the recipient will enjoy playing with them.


such a lot of knitting enjoyment on one little book—one-skein wonders for babies is a great resource if you find yourself needing to knit for little ones a lot these days (it comes in waves within families, right?).

now most of the time, this is where i would tell you that the publisher provided a giveaway copy of the book for a randomly drawn winner. but this time i’m going out on a limb to do something different, since i do have just the one copy.

there is a very special grandma in my circle of friends that you all know too—my friend beckie became a grandma all over again about eight weeks ago to baby alice.


here she is on her arrival at home, few days old, swaddled in the blanket beckie knit while she was getting ready to be born. soft organic worsted weight cotton, the color grown by nature. just perfect!

and beckie is crazy about her—i think she’ll get a lot of use out of this book, don’t you?


Saturday, October 31st, 2015


it’s that time again; the trees have rained leaves all week so that their branches have turned to black, twisted fingers.


the wind whistles through them, periodically pausing to moan or shriek.


tree limbs creak and groan, sometimes dropping chunks of rotting extremities . . . sometimes with rather exacting aim—all i’m saying is, watch where you run at dusk.


we have the kind of neighbors that laugh themselves silly to see you scared or startled, even a little bit.


but don’t you get too comfortable and laugh back—they don’t like that much.


for them, reciprocal neighborhood fun is for the birds.


yeah, not so smiley when the shoe is on the other foot.


ask us how we know . . .


HAPPY HALLOWEEN from our neighborhood to yours!

there was knitting too

Thursday, October 29th, 2015


i’m trusting each and every one of you not to tell david you saw this photo (what is said or done in the rhinebeck van stays in the rhinebeck van).

anyway, it didn’t last long; i was just posing briefly with kim’s knitting for a goofy vacation shot—i had my eyes glued to the road the whole time.


that said, i left home with the intention of doing lots of knitting on that trip—i had to try to catch up. since it was unlikely i’d open my computer to do paperwork, i could at least use in-between moments to knit. i brought along only three projects—all bigger ones. two from the active rotation plus a backup project (you never know) that’s been on hold for a bit.


my go-to project for the trip is another long sweater i’ve been knitting in chebris worsted (this time in the dragée shade). it was just the right mix of mindless stockinette with some shaping and a BIG killer cable. perfect for chugging away on while talking, laughing, and waiting.


this one has raglan shaping and is knit all in one piece. with knitting complete and with no finishing work to speak of (even the button bands are incorporated), i’ve actually been feeling sort of dumped by my knitting in the aftermath; it’s through with me. just a few yarn ends to weave in and a couple of sleeve seams—that’s it. no cake? no farewell party?

i can’t whine for long about it tho—not when it’s so yummy.


mmm, huge cable action with a modern feel.


delicious garter stitch accents everywhere, including that big cuddly collar. i love how the cabled raglan lines become a big feature at the top of the coat.


when i was texting photos to anne marie, she asked to see how the cables came together at the top. as they converged, i just continued to decrease at the center, chipping away at the inside edges of each while maintaining the twist on the outside half. in the previous photo, you can see that it’s not an aspect that’s very visible when it’s on the body; most of the time, the collar will overlap it.


this sweater coat/jacket is part of a collection that we’ll be publishing in january; myself and a few other designers together, all in BNWs. i’ve got to wash it yet and after getting final measurements, write up the pattern and get it out to the tech editor, posthaste. i’m running behind on my own project, haha.


since helena joined us for knit night tonight, i asked her to throw it on for a few spontaneous shots—she looks adorable in it, no?

oh, totally random but before i forget, the winner of romi’s book, new lace knitting, is sue C! she has been emailed and we will get her book in the post on friday.


speaking of knit night, barb was also in the house, wearing the red pedal pusher jacket she finished knitting at rhinebeck. she used briar rose charity; looks like color 161.


she looks amazing in it; that red kept catching my eye all evening.


helena came by to knit with us tonight which was lots of fun—she’s working on her first project involving short rows—the intertidal mittens in feederbrook farms entropy that we shipped as part of our purple club last year. the mitten has a shell-shaped cuff worked in short rows. she’s picking up the new technique very well; i think she’ll be back next week with a beautifully executed cuff.


i have several secret projects on the needles which obviously i can’t show to you or at knit night so i brought along my other biggish project to work on—which is a wool A-line skirt. i showed this one briefly on the blog the other day, but since them, i ripped the whole thing out and started again when i realized that it was way too big for me; apparently i don’t have a back end the size of a volkswagon, despite what my inner MIL tells me!

anyway . . . all fixed now; i believe i am on the right track to achieve the gracefully shaped skirt i had in mind. i’m working with kent DK—SOooo light and squishy; i think this is going to drape in the most lovely way.


i knit an encased elastic waist by starting with a provisional cast on, then folding it back to knit that edge in later.


i left a little opening through which to thread the elastic, which i will sew up later using the yarn tail at the start of the work. i love to look close at the yarn color—driftwood—it has threads of both gray and brown fiber, giving it lots of great depth. the polish on that gorgeous romney serves to highlight the textured pattern so well. more on this one as it progresses.

speaking of texture, i came across this funny drawing the other day, something my mom had kept for me and wanted me to take home. i drew it for my dad when i was probably eight years old or so.


clearly there was just one thing about hunting that fascinated me—the plaid clothes, natch.