Archive for the ‘book reviews/events’ Category


Sunday, June 26th, 2016


finished up the seaming on my illas cíes pullover on thursday night and snapped a couple of photos the next morning once i’d pressed those last seams (sorry about the hair; in my excitement, i didn’t do anything with it). you might be able to tell that it was still a little short at this point; i had purposely kept it that way because i know how much the hempshaugh yarn will gain in length, once it’s washed. it already feels really nice against my skin—nearly weightless, soft, and dry—just what i hope for in a summer sweater.


after clowning around a bit with the camera, i immersed it in a nice bath. as usual with our natural colored yarns, a hot sudsy soak is best to remove any remnants of spinning oil and allow the fibers to soften and bloom. hempshaugh is especially respondent to this treatment, as the hemp fiber tends to be slightly stiff until well soaked. while quite soft right out of the skein, it will become even more cuddly with every washing for a while—one of its most endearing qualities.


right out of the bath a couple of hours later, its shape has softened so much as to be a bit alarming. don’t be, no matter how bad it looks—with some brisk reshaping (see my craftsy class or my blocking DVD for technique), this fabric takes on a super smooth look in no time and will benefit from further reshaping as it dries. barb and i have also discussed the strategy of using VERY judicious amount of gentle machine drying (like ten minutes or so) to get the drying process started and we both agree that it can work, but you have to keep a strict eye on it and promise to employ at your own risk. you know what i’m going to say—try it with your swatch first!! (you did make swatches and keep them, didn’t you?)


i didn’t do that here—just laid mine flat this time to dry. i used a ruler and my schematic to push and pull all the parts of the sweater into the recommended measurements. the fabric tends to grow lengthwise and narrow a bit widthwise after soaking, but by tugging the side seams in opposite directions until the chest, waist, and hem were the right width, the length shortened accordingly. i reshaped those gangly sleeves the same way, by pulling horizontally along their lengths and they shortened to the right length. the hemp fabric dries really fast in my experience, so i checked back every hour or so to pick up the garment, fluff it, and reshape—especially toward the end when moisture evaporates more quickly.


i couldn’t be happier with the results; the fabric is soft and dry but still has plenty of body and i don’t feel it will stretch out over time. i wore it with a t-shirt and linen shorts, but i gotta tell you, wearing it makes me want some hemp shorts more than ever. gotta get those on the needles next.


emily and i took it along with another item for a photo shoot at a nearby lake yesterday; it was hot and humid, but both of us were wearing garments knit in hempshaugh fingering and neither of us even broke  a sweat.


you might think that with all that softening in the fabric, i’d lose the stitch definition, but you couldn’t be more wrong—the heavy embossing in this stitch pattern is crisp and clear—maybe even better for being cleaned.


the length is perfect now—just to the top of my pockets, about an inch longer than when it was just OTN. i am 100 percent satisfied with this sweater; i feel lucky to be able to say it. you know what i mean—even when VERY satisfied, there is often a thing or two you want to change “next time”. but this time, not; i am completely happy and i know i will wear this piece a lot. and didn’t emily do a great job photographing it?

i’ve taken my time getting started on my shorts as i needed to work through my strategy for construction. while i knitted my other projects these last couple of weeks, i’ve been going back and forth about whether to knit them in the round, or in pieces. pieces appeal to me more because i can add stability with seams, but working in the round will make it easier to do the waist casing and the leg hems that i desire, as well as work the bifurcated architecture. decisions, decisions . . . i’ve got to make them soon.

with the pullover and the club surprise off the needles (oh yeah, i finished that too on thursday night!), i am turning my focus to a couple of sweaters i have underway for the winter ensemble as well as the next secret project.


i’ve got one sleeve done on this twill stitch pullover that i’m knitting in kent DK; i’m knitting several sizes larger than usual, so i’m feeling those extra stitches and inches. i’ve got to step up my pace if i’m going to get through all the designs i have planned. i need to decide on a cable for the side seams and have been dawdling a bit over that.


the plan is for a classic pullover/cardigan with overall subtle texture and cable detailing. currently it’s slated to have cables around the armholes and down the front of the cardigan as well. so it can’t be a huge cable—in fact, it will need to be rather petite so as to fit into the smaller sizes reasonably.


years ago i knit a sweater for myself with the same overall stitch pattern and used this cable on all the seams. it’s perfect for this style, but i think it might be too wide for the new design . . . and possibly too subtle for the kent DK. i’ll be doing that research today, as soon as i wrap up this post.

my ensemble submissions includes a skirt that can be worn with this cardigan to make a modern day suit—won’t that be adorable? if i had to wear a suit to work, that’s the kind i’d want.


a couple of weeks ago, while erica and i were at TNNA in DC, we met with author hannah thiessen, who is writing a book about wool and knitting that includes our yarns. over the next couple of days we got to talking with her in depth about her work in the knitting world (hannah has been managing projects and promotion for a variety of companies in our industry) and before long we all hatched a plan to bring her into our company to help out in that area as we go through some necessary updating of our site, our look, and our marketing efforts.

we feel hannah is a terrific fit for us and we want you to love her too! she’s smart, funny, organized, and super excited to work with all of us. you’ll be seeing her in our ravelry groups (she’s hannahbelle) and as a contributor to the blog; i know you will make her feel welcome and included. remember she is here to help make your knitspot experience as wonderful as possible; she, like us, values your feedback and participation, so don’t be shy.

and that’s pretty much all i have for today—it’s much too lovely outside to linger; i need to eat some lunch, look at some cables, and after that, we are going for a nice, long, bike ride in the country.


fortunately, a fresh, healthy meal is growing right outside the back door—earlier, i spent five minutes picking a bowl of baby greens to have at the ready for just this time of day. we tried some new ones this year that are delicious—mibuna greens (for a bit of spice), yukina (tat soi) greens (hearty and delicious), and crunchy vitamin greens, with baby chard also in the mix. i can’t help but look forward to lunch. i’m trying to keep healthy and eat right because i’ve been noticing that my legs are pretty tired after running and biking lately.


ok, now i’m really going . . see you later!

fruits of summer

Saturday, June 18th, 2016


SO nice to be home again—and to be in one place for five weeks straight. with summer in full swing, it’s time to enjoy what the season brings us. dogwoods were in full bloom when erica, emily, and i went to one of our city parks this week for the final immersion club photo shoot.

if you are part of the club and haven’t downloaded the chapter yet, you must go see—emily is gorgeous modeling our last blue project. and if you missed out on the blue club, please consider joining us for pairings—it promises to be lots of delicious fun.


speaking of delicious, it’s that time of year again when there are so many yummy foods right at our fingertips that we can hardly manage them all. first up, strawberries and you have to get those right away if like me, you want to freeze enough for winter. so the day after i got home from DC, barb and i got ourselves to a grower and i bought two flats. at home i set up a production line to get them washed, topped, and into bags to freeze. i remembered to keep some aside for a pie; i like mine with rhubarb and i plan to bake one or two tonight.


we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw they also had peaches in from south carolina—last year they were available much later. i bought some to eat, but i know now that i should plan to be freezing a batch before long, if they are coming in early everywhere.


with so many distractions pulling me this way and that, i am trying hard to stay on schedule with my knitting and design work (but summer fever lurks at every turn!). when i left for DC, i was up to the armhole bind off on this pullover project in our hempshaugh fingering yarn, so i left it behind to save space in my bag. once home tho, i was determined to finish it up so i could wear it. last night i blocked the pieces and today i started the neck finish during our morning sweater knitting class.

wait til you see it done—the fabric is surprisingly shimmery. it’s going to look great with my shorts (that i haven’t started yet, HA!).


our garden is exploding with goodies as well and growing faster than we can keep up with. the greens grew about a foot while i was away last weekend! believe me though, i am thrilled—it wasn’t that long ago that we had trouble growing plants this thick and lush. they are badly in need of more thinning—a task for early tomorrow. the good thing about getting that job done is that we will get to eat some baby greens this week.


not that we’ve been starving; we’ve been eating from the garden as often as i have time to cook. here we have asian greens, thai basil, and cilantro . . .


with snap peas, garlic scapes, spring onions, and mushrooms (those, we bought). with some ginger and tofu, we’ve got a fantastic stir fry meal; you can’t eat fresher than that, mmm.


and here’s another fresh item—a new little scarf pattern, in stone soup fingering yarn (mmm, SO soft and squishy). aren’t those little leafies adorable in the marble shade? i had two other projects packed to take to DC but i cast this one on just before we left—you know, in case i needed it. well, lucky me because guess what?? i DID need it (thus reinforcing my compulsive overpacking of knitting projects for travel). see, i would have preferred to work on those other projects but everywhere we settled down to knit, it was very dark. and those projects were dark too, so they just didn’t work for me. thankfully i had this one along and made excellent progress on it. and now i know the pattern by heart so i can take it even more places; it will be finished in no time.


this is one of the darker projects that got sidelined during my trip. it’s a sweater for david and for the next ensemble collection too. it’s a remake of a favorite sweater inking him years ago, this time in the mussel shell shade of our kent DK. it’s the perfect guy sweater in the most subtle of patterns that looks like woven fabric. just enough texture for him, just enough entertainment for me not to slit my throat from boredom—it’s a win-win.

funny, i had hoped to knit, oh, at least two sleeves over the few days i was at the trade show (dream big, i always say). as you can see, i did not (i know, what was i thinking??). in fact, we barely sat down the whole weekend, logging over eight miles each day; when did i think i was going to knit? most of my scarf knitting i did in the car on the way home, knowing i had to have something to show for myself this week, haha.


well, i’m home now and happy to be here for a while. i met with my sweater knitting class this morning and they are rocking right along on the whitfield shorty—the perfect first sweater project; it has all the parts and shaping of an adult sweater, but in a manageable size. paula is having so much fun with hers (and is so far ahead) that she even bought yarn today to make a second one. go team!


it wouldn’t be right to complain about all the knitting i have to accomplish and then run on and ON about nothing so i’m going to stop now, but i wanted to share this one last photo with you—isn’t it cool? it looks like a group of druids gathering on some misty scottish moor, but actually, it’s just a garden area in our park on a very humid morning. so pretty.

sights and sounds

Monday, June 13th, 2016


we’ve been traveling again!


over the past few days we’ve had the wonderful fortune to see, taste, and experience one of the most diverse cities in the world.


we’ve got so much to share, from stunning architecture and decor


to otherworldly art


and design (and designers).


a fun aspect of our trip was that we had some free time to explore the city we were in and we made the most of it.


today we head home full of ideas and inspiration.


and while maybe just a wee bit tuckered out,


excited and looking forward to what’s next!

see you when we get there!

new green

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016


ahhh, warm weather at last—we have finally shifted into those lovely sunny days of early summer when the air is still cool in the morning and humidity is low. things seem particularly lush this year, despite the lack of winter snow; i guess we’ve had plenty of rain during the spring to make up for that. our surroundings are extravagantly green—except for the sky which is brilliant blue most of the day.


i think it’s going to be a perfect weekend for the great lakes fiber show (AKA “wooster”) where we will have a booth on saturday and sunday, may 28 and 29. but hey—it looks like we will not be in our usual spot, so please look for us if you visit the show!! we’re not exactly sure yet where we will be placed, but we may end up in the area under the grandstands.


this is usually a really fun show for us, when we get to see lots of local friends and visit with customers. we will have all of our yarns on show and boxes of patterns, including all of the spring and winter ensemble designs.


we’ll also be featuring those samples in our displays—if you enjoyed the photos in our spring ensemble look book, come feel the fabrics and see them in person. and of course there will be all manner of other samples available to see up close.


saw this patch of iris on my run today—BIG bold blooms of bright purple, almost the exact color of my new running shoes (i wasn’t seeking out purple shoes, but when i saw my favorite ones on sale i grabbed them in my size).


though it rained all day on saturday, we did manage to get ninety percent of the garden in the ground on sunday afternoon when it was cool and perfect. david made the planting mounds again this year, which worked out so well last year. he also opted to lay down this gardening fabric to cut back on weeding, the bane of his summer free time. we need all the help we can get.

we expanded our planting space a bit this year by creating a new tomato bed over by the garage, where our warmest, sunniest spot was pretty much going to waste. this gave us more space inside the garden fence near the house where we managed to get in quite a list of plants—everything from okra to cauliflower to lacinto kale. and there will be green beans—the seeds are soaking on the countertop now; i will likely plant them tomorrow.


we have already been eating from the garden regularly—remember that random sowing of spinach and chard seeds i threw in at the end of march? those greens are already maturing and the clump of spinach that lived through the winter has offered up several meals so far. it’s beginning to bolt now, but i will keep trimming it until it’s exhausted.


with a little R&R under my belt and some breathing room (and regular running/thinking time again), my thoughts are turning to what’s next for my needles. aside from secret projects (there is always something afoot in that department) i am, believe it or not, already putting together my contributions to our fall/winter 2017 ensemble. now that the second one is complete, i want to get ahead on the next one, in the hope that we might bring it out a little earlier this time.

and we are terribly excited about the response by fellow designers to our call for submissions this time—we chose a wide array of contributions and i’m super pumped about the variety of fall/winter projects that will be included.


oh, these swatches are not for that project however, haha. i’m also working on a new group of little nothings scarves—you remember those fun, simple, “potato chip” projects? everyone enjoys them so much (they are still some of our best selling designs); i feel it’s time to freshen up that collection with some new choices. more on that project in the weeks ahead.


while i have to work on mostly wooly projects over the summer, i will have some time to indulge myself in experimenting. you know by now how very much i love our hempshaugh yarn—the blend of hemp, silk, and a bit of merino is SO comfortable, cool, and dry to wear on the hottest days; i’m completely smitten with it, both in the knitting and especially the wearing.

well—and don’t laugh—i’ve had a bee in my bonnet to make myself a new pair of long shorts with it. i have a couple pair made from linen that i wear almost exclusively once it gets hot, but i could use another couple. and i’d like ones that are a little more dressy—as much as shorts can be. i am a pants person at heart, after all. so i’m going to go for it with our hemshaugh fingering in the kasha color. hopefully i’ll have them finished when the real heats descends on us.


meanwhile i am rolling along on my illas cíes pullover in that same yarn, this time in the buckwheat shade. i’ve got the back and one sleeve complete.


and the second sleeve is on the needles. this is a great project for me to knit on the go or when i want to veg out a bit—by now i have it so memorized that it really flies along (and you will too; you’ll see!). i can’t wait to have it finished—i keep dreaming that it might be in time for wooster, but i don’t know if i can pull that off, haha.

right now is the perfect time to have a sweater like this—while the days are warm and sunny enough for t-shirts, i’ve been wanting to pull on a light sweater after dark and this one, with its built in ventilation is just right.

ok, that’s all i have for now—oh wait, one more thing: eric lutz of the sticks + twine podcast is running a fun KAL featuring my the movie night sock design; you might enjoy the fun. it’s a quick knit and there are prizes. click to review the details in episode 18 of sticks + twine.