Archive for the ‘book reviews/events’ Category

summer fine

Monday, July 28th, 2014

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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 . . .

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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!

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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 . . .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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sprouting purple flowers.

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

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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?

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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

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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.

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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

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and this

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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,

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

outside the box

Friday, July 11th, 2014

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hey, long time no see, right? i feel like i’ve been around the world and when i got back, i barely recognized the place—but more on that later; first things first.

the day before i left home for denver, i was signed up for a race and when i showed up at the start line early, it dawned on me that i was, er, on a farm. for some reason i’d missed the news that this was a cross country race, haha. i’d never run in the field before, but i was game—i got in there and did it; it was for a good cause.

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it was actually quite lovely, though also—due to the deeply rutted trails caused by our recent heavy rains—very uneven running. my legs were quite tired by the end; i’m not sure i’ll do one of those again. what can i say; i’m a wuss.

then it was home to pack and make the final preparations for my trip to denver. i (quite sensibly as it turned ou) packed a minimum of knitting this time—i remembered how little i accomplished outside the studio on my last trip to craftsy. i brought three small projects and some swatching and while i worked on each of the projects in progress, i did not even touch my swatching..

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during the flight to denver, which is not all that long from where i live, i got started on this slouchy cotton cap for david. i’ve been wanting  to knit him a very soft cotton hat since last summer and sarah’s summer cotton KAL gave me a good reason to make good on my intentions.

i knit and knit all through the flight (he has a gigantic noggin, so my progress is a bit deceptive) and a little after dinner that night while i chatted with my cousins.

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(ps: the hometown chocolates i brought along were a big hit at every stop. must remember that for next time!)

the next morning at the craftsy studio, i knit some more while the crew set up the studio for filming my class.

then i stopped and really looked at the hat in my hands. wow, it was huge—too big even for mister knitspot, i think. say bye bye . . .

i laid that project aside and worked on another until i had a breather to restart. the days at craftsy really flew by and before i knew it, the shoot was over and we all dispersed for the holiday weekend.

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nah, we didn’t have any fun making the show . . .
actually i hated to say goodbye but i was also looking forward to some R&R with good friends over the independence day break.

while the cotton cap project languished, i finished off a secret project i needed to complete for a photo shoot next week.

during my bus ride from denver to ft. collins, i had the opportunity to restart my hat while being stared at really hard by the guy across the aisle. well, he wasn’t staring at me exactly, but at my hands. it was a little unnerving but i didn’t mind—i had seen him earlier in the station, taking socks from his own duffel bag to give to a child that had neither socks nor shoes. he made me wish i was a more thoughtful person . . .

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in ft collins, i was reunited with long-time friends luci and scott—it had been a long time since we last saw each other. luci is a filmmaker and scott manages a large retail marijuana facility (which we discovered has many parallels with managing a yarn business, haha); they have the most interesting jobs! in fact, while i was visiting luci produced her weekly one-minute film, which she posts each thursday on her website, movingpostcard.com (don’t get lost over there!).

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i arrived on 4th of july eve and while luci finished up some last minute work, i went for a long walk on the nearby spring creek trail with my new best friend, whiskey. we two bonded quickly and had many wonderful adventures together over the next few days—i just love me a good walking dog.

as well as one who loves hiking, swimming, and just visiting. she’s the sweetest thing, but don’t tell buddy i said so; what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him and there’s no point in making him jealous.

that night we talked and talked out on the patio and scott cooked us a nice dinner, after which we all sacked out.

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the next morning i got up extra early to head out to my holiday race. to warm up, i ran the 3.5 miles to the race along the mason trail, which took me along the MAX line through the CSU campus.

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i was signed up for the yearly firecracker 5-miler at home, but then this job came up and i had to skip it. luckily, there is a race in nearly every town across the country on the 4th of july, and so i signed up for one at city park in ft. collins that morning.

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and what a shindig it was—one of the most fun events i’ve ever been to.

the food at the end was the best i’ve had at a race—tons of fresh fruit, good coffee, bagels, and local homemade donuts. and the people watching—well that was unparalleled. and they are serious about it—who knew there were so many variations on men’s red, white, and blue running shorts?? i only wish i had realized in time to do a photo essay on that subject alone . . . next year.

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i hung out for a little while, but when i started feeling like i REALLY needed a shower, i made my way home, back along the mason trail again. this time i ran only partway and walked the last couple miles so i could take pictures of the beautiful wildflowers and trail highlights.

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there were so many things to see up close that i couldn’t have stayed on the trail alone. ft collins is a platinum level bicycle friendly community, criss-crossed by a large and well-planned network of trails and paths. there are so many options for getting around by bike that, by comparison, bikes are rather scarce on the street.

anyway, because it snaked through town along the tracks, the mason trail has an abundant mix of natural and industrial elements, which has in turn inspired some beautiful building projects along the way,

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most of them with excellent access to the trails as well as to public transportation.

back at the house, it was just a little after 10 am—wow; i felt i had gotten a complete day’s worth of adventure in already. but believe me the best was to come. i had missed the first half of the germany/colombia match, but i showered quickly so we could head over to a friend’s house to watch the second half.

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i knit out on the patio while chatting with new friends and watching the brisket get smoked; we were being treated to dinner that night by friends who love to cook.

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i knit throughout the world cup quarter finals, which i’d never watched before.

i kind of wish i’d had a spare needle that was one size smaller for the brim; that would give a bit more stability to this very soft yarn—i’ll make sure the pattern recommends it and i’ll use it in my next sample.

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by lunch time i had a good chunk done, but that afternoon we went swimming in a creek which was SO refreshing it was well worth putting my knitting aside for, haha.

that evening we chowed down on barbecue and salads—there aren’t words for how delicious it all tasted after a full day of fresh air and sunshine.

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once it got dark, we headed out to another friend’s farm who has plenty of land from which to view the many fireworks displays held citywide. there we were treated to our choice of razzleberry pie and ice cream, root beer floats, or cookies. i chose the pie and it was really good.

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as well as a few private celebrations. this year there has been plenty of rain in colorado, so the usual danger of fire was not an issue; otherwise this never would have been a good idea.

after that we all went home to bed; what a long, full day of fun.

the next morning i was up again early (one of the perks of staying on east coast time while visiting out west) and headed out for a quick run and then a walk with the dog before cruising off to meet my friend anne merrow for a bike ride.

anne and i have worked together a few time professionally, but mostly we just like spending time together—we like to talk about books, explore new tastes in food, and this time, we got to bike together.

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i didn’t take too many photos on the trail because my hands were busy, but we did stop to take photos of the is cool sculpture built near the colorado state environmental learning center. made from salvaged weathered wildwood, rough planks, packed earth, and river rock, it chronicles the rise and overflow of river during the spring floods.

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we rode on to the nature center itself and were pulled toward the bustling activity around the raptor shelters that are the rehabilitation center for the rocky mountain raptor program.

here volunteers care for and help rehabilitate raptors that have been injured or orphaned; some will be released back into the wild when they fully recover, while others who are too injured to survive a release will  make a permanent home here. the oldest in habitant of the shelter is this bald eagle, who suffered a gunshot wound that tore straight through both wings and his body. while recovering, he contracted west nile virus which left him blinded in his right eye.

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he has been a resident at the facility since 1993. we were fascinated enough to spend a good hour or so there. arriving back at our bikes to continue the ride, we discovered that one of my tires was flat. darn it; without tools or a spare tube, i wasn’t going to be able to fix it on location.

anne’s fiánce, jim saved the day by driving out to pick us up. we decided it was time to eat and headed into town for brunch at snooze. yum, yum; everything i had to eat there was delish.

this was the last full day of my visit and we decided that more swimming and a hike would be the prefect way to end my trip. scott was napping when i got back to the house but luci was ready to work on our little done-minute film and i was game. we banged out the production in no time (hey, it’s  minute for heaven’s sake), including some nice photos of items from my sample suitcase, which i happened to have with me because of my craftsy gig.

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just as we were putting the finishing touches on that project, scott came back to the land of the living and we all piled into the car for the drive to horsetooth reservoir. whiskey was ecstatic, of course; WHAT a weekend.

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we decided to hike the trail to arthur’s rock in lory state park, though we didn’t have time to get all the way to the top if we were also going to fit in a swim (that’s ok; there’s always next time!).

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instead we hiked to this outcropping of rock just below the peak. between the start of the trail and there was a lot of really cool scenery along a beautiful, moderately easy hiking trail.

we got pretty warm along the way; thank goodness we had our swimsuits on underneath our shirts, cuz off they came halfway up.

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what i found really cool was how much the trees and trails look the same as ones i’ve seen in antique photos; there is a really old feeling about the scenery here.

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at the top, a much deserved rest to appreciate our surroundings and the view, plus an opportunity for an adorable “family photo”. what a terrific last event to end my trip with. we did get back to the reservoir to swim, but it turned out that the water near the shore at that time had a lot of floating bark and wood debris—too much to be very pleasant swimming. drat. well, it was cooling off anyway and we were getting hungry.

we headed off for showers and dinner, then talked long into the night afterward.

the next day i packed up my bags and headed to the airport, where i was once again reminded how grateful i am to be a knitter—the plane was delayed for a couple of hours, but i was not at a loss to fill the time.

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i worked on the hat as long as i had to sit in a crowd, but then switched to my little secret project once i found myself in a fairly isolated spot. all through the trip i knit on it and shaZAM—i cast off just before landing in canton. woo hoo.

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it was late when i arrived, but the next morning i asked david to try the hat on; i wanted to make sure this time i was on the right track. it’s perfect, phew. and the color looks beautiful against david’s skin.

between monday and wednesday class and some late night TV knitting, i’ve gotten almost far enough to begin the decreases; david wants this hat long enough to coil his hair inside, which is a little more knitting than usual, but i’m happy to do it for him.

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i’d have the whole thing done, but i’ve got a couple or three other projects going on at the same time, like this lace shawlette, also a cotton KAL project.

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this empreinte shawlette, for instance—growing slowly, but surely in the organic color grown pakucho lace cotton. it finally has enough of  fabric on the needles to make the knitting go a little faster.

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between the substance and the fact that i can now see the pattern more easily, it’s beginning to fly. last night in the space of two phone calls with friends, i got a dozen or so very long rows knit.

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isn’t that shaping up prettily in the forest mist color? the hem of this shawl has lavishly deep and complex scallops; it’s such a treat to create.

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and as always, not a week goes by that there isn’t a new yarn project on the boards. this week i am swatching from sample skeins for two new variations of yarn the we produce. this is such an interesting and crucial part of the work of making yarn; i have to test drive it to see how it performs.

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first up, a new variation on our beloved confection worsted—we’re launching a sport weight version of this yummy, springy corriedale yarn. that is, we will be launching it as soon as we finalize the yarn specs.  what i have here are two swatches (knit on 4.0 mm and 4.5 mm needles) of a three-ply version that is spun very similarly to the worsted weight. it has great stitch definition and is super springy, but maybe a little stiff.

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i do like it pretty well as is, but the miller has worked out a few variations which we should have in hand by next week to compare; she like to get it a little softer and squishier. and who am i to argue? if it can be softer, i’m all for that!

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we’ve also been working with yet another new mill in search of the perfect producers for our breakfast blend yarn. though what we’ve had has been good, we’ve frankly been struggling to get exactly the yarn of our dreams.

however, we are very hopeful that we now have a partnership that’s going to work and that we’ll finally be producing the super-luxe yarn worthy of the luxury alpaca label.

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the sample skeins are absolutely to die for—so lush and soft AND hairless in fact, that we will probably rebrand this yarn once we go in to full production, something along the lines of “mo BETTER breakfast blend”.

yes, it’s that good.

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ok, compose yourself now; after all, it’s just yarn . . .

yeah right.

we are starting work with them very soon, producing micro batches for a few months in a row that will begin arriving in august. we’re thinking of making these available at our rhinebeck after party popup shop to get things started, then in january, we’ll go full swing into production of larger orders.

meanwhile, across the back alley . . .

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work on the new space is complete and david started moving stuff over there today. oh my, are we ever excited. boxes and boxes and boxes of yarn are now, blessedly NOT in my house. there is actual room to walk in some places, haha.

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sarah and i went over there today to work out the placement and size of the signage—no small feat as the space is tucked away a bit and the entry has multiple depths that do not make a good background for artwork.

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david very kindly made cutouts of the store logo and taped them to the door so we could see how readable they are from a distance.

sarah and i perched inside the house to judge.

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afterward our original suspicions were confirmed—we have to go to plan B. at some point, we’ll also get a cute awning, but that could take a few months. first, we need a good sign out near the street so you can find us . . .

the good news is that we’ll be ready to open as soon as the furniture arrives; david and i might even go pick it up this weekend. we are all excited; i hope you’ll come visit!

alright then, i’m done; time to go knit. have a good weekend; see you next time.

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

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aah…summer has arrived. Everything I so dearly missed is back – sunshine, blue skies, puffy clouds and summer fun. And the start of this summer has been especially fun through the eyes of a little one.

Last summer was an absolute hoot watching Padraig play in a kiddie pool for the first time or swung through a sprinkler. With all that we experienced last summer, we thought it couldn’t get any better than that. And then this summer arrived.

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He’s now walking (really, running everywhere) and it seems like every day, to his surprise, a new word pops out of his mouth.

Last week, he jumped at the chance to kayak with Daddy out to the area of the lake where I was paddle boarding. I couldn’t believe this because not too long ago he feared deep waters. Matt said the whole route he had his arm up on the side, so comfortable, like he’d been doing it forever.

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This weekend he’ll attend his first 4th of July BBQ full of good food and lots more firsts. I can’t wait to see what he embraces.

Speaking of firsts, everyone at HQ is busy doing inventory so we can make the big move into our first retail space! We are so excited we can’t stand it. The girls are busy counting and recounting skeins and organizing them into bins,

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while carpet is being laid at the new space

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and David is painting.

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If all goes as scheduled, the big move will start in a week! Soon after, we’ll announce hours of operation and you can start planning a road trip with friends to Canton, Ohio.

Sarah’s really enjoying the experience of her first KAL. She’s taking photos along the way

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and posting them in the group, and new people are joining her every day. I just got my sport weight in the mail (wow, Knitspot ships unbelievable fast)

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and I’m ready to cast on Zig Zag Mitts over the holiday weekend. I’ll be sure to post progress pics! We have organic cotton lace, sport, and worsted IN STOCK and next week fingering will be added to the store. Join the KAL here to get some ideas of what everyone is making!

In the Bare Naked Wools group, the Hunter Hammersen KAL is producing some lovely socks in Bare Naked Wools!

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Even though lots of people are wrapping up their sock projects, some are just beginning.

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Please join us this summer knitting socks here. We have a very loose end date (thank goodness, i’m barely past the cuff of my Stone Soup Fingering ones). It’s a fun group and Hunter has LOTS of sock designs to choose from.

Maybe you can plan a road trip with some friends and work on your KAL projects on the way to some fiber fests! Bare Naked Wools will be a first-time vendor at:

Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair  Newark, Ohio   August 2,3

Michigan Fiber Festival  Allegan, Michigan   August 15,16,17

Susan is planning some extra special things for these events! Hope you can make it!

Speaking of Susan, she wanted to remind you that purple is the color of the year and the first-ever purple yarn club starts shipping to members next week!

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There’s a handful of PASSION memberships left. Snag one here and get your purple on!

Anne is filming another Craftsy class this week

Craftsy boys web

and she’ll pop in over the weekend to tell you all about it. I can’t wait! I LOVE her classes! Happy weekend all!