Archive for the ‘lace/shawls’ Category

knit happens

Monday, May 18th, 2015


almost there with the big spring woolen wash—it got cold again for a few days, but thankfully i hadn’t washed all of my own sweaters yet (hehe, i know better; i often wear the lighter weight ones into the month of june).


i’m not going to run on and on about this, but i am SO GLAD i finally made my own wool soap—it is blowing my mind how fresh it smells and how nice it leaves the fabric. i’m serious; i’ve had my favorites, but nothing has ever made my knits this soft and fluffy and glossy looking to boot.

This pea trellis shawl came out so heavenly soft that it feels like cloud matter. i’m not kidding.


i want to make some for everybody i know—as soon as i find a nicer solvent, which, thanks to the comment from grey dove, i am on it.

(be assured, i will eventually calm down and find something else to be this excited about)


just two more loads to go and all the samples will be clean. i didn’t count them, but i bet we have a couple hundred items . . .just in BNWs alone. tomorrow we will start retagging the ones that are done to get them ready for our show booth and a special in-store display.

in addition to our booth at the great lakes fiber show next weekend, we will be hosting classes in our shop for our wooster retreat. we still have room for you, should you decide to join us! just email laura (servicesATknitspotDOTcom) if you’d like to come.

so, last time i was here i ran off to meet barb for knit night at the shop and when i arrived, what did she pull out of her bag but another triticum project.


she’s knitting this one in briar rose sea pearl, a great choice; it’s silky, yet has nice body and wonderful wearability. in fact i have a batch of this exact same colorway—we each bought one at rhineneck in october and i got one for kim3 as well.

barb was so cute with her second triticum project, but i had a surprise for her . . .


i was starting another one too! i’m knitting one in our stone soup fingering yarn because we are entering a sample in the fashion show at TNNA and i want it to be in a yarn that shops can purchase wholesale from us.


by the time we left that evening, hers was another half repeat along


and i had finished the hem ribbing on my left front; i was now ready to work through the body shaping toward the armhole.


by the time i went to bed, i had worked to the waist and completed all the body decreases. the next day i worked on it a little bit over morning coffee and started the increase pattern that leads to the armhole.


that night i worked some more and got myself nearly to the armhole; this sweater really goes fast once you get past the hem ribbing (it’s totally worth doing that hem in one diligent sitting so you can get to the fun part).

you can read more about barb’s sweater shenanigans in our triticum knitalong over at ravelry. there are actually TWO triticum KALs—one for bare naked wools too, in case you are knitting with better breakfast fingering or stone soup fingering (or whatever your poison!).


it’s been so cozy late at night to watch TV with david knitting feverishly next to me on his blanket statement blocks. he has been very dedicated to this project, now that the knitting goes smoothly. at this writing has completed almost half the blocks he needs.

with a special thread in our ravelry clubhouse dedicated to david’s knitting journey, he is taking his obligation to his fans seriously by posting progress, observations, and philosophical musings as frequently as he can manage.


his yarn and needles are always out and ready to pick up—he never puts them away. david is knitting with all the brown shades of the old breakfast blend DK, a wonderfully round and soft yarn. i really get the feeling that he’s begun to enjoy knitting immensely and look forward to it as a nice ending to each day.

soon he’ll have to pick up a hook as well to do his crochet edges and then sew them up. i am confident he will be fine with the stitching up; david has been sewing since he was a boy.


my reversible triangle shawl project is quickly moving toward completion; i have moved into the cable and lace hem section and though the rows are getting longer all the time, it feels like things are going much faster.


i hope to have this project done by monday or sooner; i would like to offer this new pattern at the fiber show next weekend (and of course for everyone online too!).

and once i get this off the needles, i’ll get back to my textured vintage cardigan; i miss it. i also have a couple of secret projects that i’m anxious to start; haven’t had any of those in a while. but with the green club starting in two month’s time, i need to get my samples done.

i’m trying not to think about how i’m ever going to squeeze my gardening in, but somehow it happens every year so i guess i just have to have faith that all will be fine.

i hope you’re having a wonderful weekend; see you soon.

Designer Spotlight: Janelle Martin

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

Hope you are all doing flawlessly.

Let me just say – I think you’re in for a treat!

Janelle Martin’s Interwoven Blanket made in Bare Naked Wools Stone Soup Fingering

Janelle first met Anne in 2009 when she invited her to guest judge for her local knitter’s guild show.  She had just started designing, so you can imagine that having the opportunity to spend time with a designer that she really admired was the chance of a lifetime.   It was during this visit that Anne mentioned a new endeavour; one featuring all natural yarns.  Hence, the creation of Fall in Full Color and Bare Naked Knitspot.



Janelle Martin’s Every Which Way in Bare Naked Wools Confection



The first designs Janelle ever created using Bare Naked Wools, were the Every Which Way Collection.

“The first time I touched Bare Naked Wools ‘Confection’ I knew two things: 1) I wanted to wrap myself in the yarn and 2) the amount of “spring” in the yarn would make it a dream to knit with.”


Janelle is graciously offering not only an Every Which Way Set ebook but ALSO an Interwoven Blanket pattern to all of our blog readers!  Winning is easy; go to Janelle’s designer page and check out all of the beautiful pieces she’s designed since 2009!  Won’t you tell us what pattern you love!?  Winners will be selected Tuesday May 19th at midnight, (so getchur comments in!)  We’ll announce the winner on Wednesday! Happy commenting!




This past summer, Janelle traveled to New Foundland, specifically, the arctic coastal tundra region where the Vikings had the first European Settlement in North America.  This stunning landscape inspired her upcoming collection.  “I find the remote and stark landscapes inspiring – nature has such beautiful lines and movement.”

Janelle’s collection will offer 30-40 pieces (shawls/stoles, scarves, hats, cowls, blankets, and possibly socks.)  If she can squeeze them in!  I mean, that’s A LOT of knitted goodness!

“I knew right away that the beautiful, natural colours and textures of Bare Naked Wools paired perfectly with this landscape. The collection also features indie dyers, focusing on colours drawn from New Foundland and it’s geographical cousins in Iceland and coastal Ireland.”



The collection is being offered in three parts.  Part One will be released this August.  Part Two comes out at the end of this year and Part Three will be available in Spring of 2016.  Each part of the collection will be offered as an ebook or individual patterns.

Secret Society by Janelle Martin, coming in July 2015

Secret Society is a “teaser” pattern from the upcoming book.  The pattern calls for either Stone Soup Fingering or Mrs. Lincoln’s Lace.  It’s a bottom up, triangular shawl inspired by rocks found in The Burren, Ireland.



Janelle described her design process to me.  I find this aspect of knitted garments extremely interesting.  All too often, I’m wondering how a designer envisions a concept and thus, turns it into art:

My favourite items to design are shawls and stoles.  The large amount of space allows me to incorporate multiple stitch patterns. I call my design aesthetic “organic”. I like there to be continuous lines in my work, for the stitch patterns to grow out of each other. Often this means I have to create transition charts to move from one stitch pattern into the other. My complex lace designs, such as Cartouche Shawloften have five or six charts to handle these transitions, but the result is worth it.


Cartouche Shawl by Janelle Martin Knitted by Mari AKA rapelleykset on Ravelry


Janelle offered Cartouch as a Knitty pattern in Knitty’s Winter 2011 edition.

I’m drawn to the complexity of Japanese stitch patterns. Their stitch dictionaries show stitches that are combinations of smaller elements joined together and there is such beauty and complexity in their presentations. These stitch dictionaries approach knitting with a different eye and that is what I’m drawn to. I tend to combine patterns that share elements and can build cohesive designs out of these stitch patterns. An example of this is my Flower Bell Stole.


The cohesive element in this design is the raised flower bud. It appears in the attached edging, the bottom border, two different sizes in the left/right borders and in large form in the centre panel. The use of this element in various sizes creates cohesiveness of design. Of course, these stitch patterns “eat” yarn just like cables do and so I had to work through several iterations of this design before I found a final version I liked that didn’t require excessive amounts of yarn.


Here at Knitspot HQ, we are so excited to see what Janelle has in store over the next few months!  Her 3 part series is sure to be a treat for the eyes and a joy to knit.  We’re thrilled to be in collaboration with her and we wish her incredible success!


She wishes to mention one last thing:

I owe a lot to the incredible support, encouragement and mentorship provided by fellow designers like Anne Hanson and Kate Atherley, indie dyers/designers such as Kim McBrien Evans (Indigodragonfly) and Tabi Ferguson (Sericin Silkworks), industry professionals such as Amy Singer (Knitty) and Sanguine Gryphon who included my early designs in their publications, and Karen Crouch, the amazing owner of my LYS Shall We Knit?  I would not be where I am today without the invaluable resource these incredible women have been and their excellent advice.


My designs are available through Ravelry, Patternfish and LoveKnitting, as well as on my website (

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!



Thursday, May 7th, 2015


hard to believe that just a few days ago the garden looked like this—flowers with buds shuttered tight against the chill and warnings of frost at night.


then, a magical weekend with temperatures rising by the hour and voilá!


suddenly every tulip in the front bed popped open and we have a veritable forest of blooms among the shrubs.


they are especially tall and healthy this year and david really went to town selecting a variety of bulbs.


from those with unusually shaped petals to ones with striking color contrast (or both!)


these two are my favorites, i think—i love the pointy petals and green striping.


or how about this mostly white, traditional one with the little tourist inside?


david knows that tulips are my favorite flowers every year in the fall he places his order of bulbs and plots out where they should go.


then in spring wonderful surprises greet me week by week as the various bulbs pop up, put out leaves, and bloom in places i don’t expect. i’m never sure where they will turn up next.


we still have loads of daffodils and jonquils as well


the chilly weather last week made them last and last.


and now, the apple tree is blooming, so pretty.


thank you so much for all of your kind comments and delicious excitement over the triticum and the mister’s sweater designs that we released over the weekend! it’s really a nice feeling to see such a positive response to them; your enthusiasm makes me so happy! i hope you enjoy knitting them as much as i did.


obviously we know now that i got my better breakfast version of triticum done in time for the pattern release on sunday, but on friday afternoon it was still a nail biter, with more than half a sleeve to knit, plus blocking and seaming  to go (i lost that morning to finalizing the release of the mister’s pattern for those who wanted to shop at maryland over the weekend).

when i was binding off my sleeve late friday night, i got a text saying, “you win; my grafting is keeping me from crossing the finish line” it was barb, my partner in the big sweater race. (well ok, she didn’t say it quite that way; she used more explicit knitting terms to describe her graft). i told her to come over saturday morning and we’d have a seaming party.


myself, i could not sleep past six am for excitement—i was about to block and seam a fine gauge sweater i’d knit in nine days. (yes i know i’m a nerdy geek; that has been well established, thank you.)

you’ve seen this all before and very recently, too; i won’t go into any lengthy descriptions of what i did. but i do think the fabric is super pretty in this yarn and shade (porridge), don’t you?

by seven i was done and had a pot of coffee going on the stove (yeah, i even did my blocking before coffee—before stepping foot downstairs in fact).


i used the quiet time before barb arrived to sew my own graft and stitch the collar to the back neck. next i began seaming in the sleeve capss, the trickiest part of finishing most fitted sweaters.


when barb arrived she was feeling much better than the night before and we got right down to work on her graft.


well she’s a pretty quick study and before i knew it, she was halfway across that collar, happily chanting the song of the knitting graft (hey, don’t knock it—it works).


at eleven, we moved over to the shop because i had to watch the store for the day. we set ourselves up a little tailoring shop in the classroom area complete with mini pressing bench, sleeve board, tailor’s ham, and press cloths.


barb blocked her fronts after joining them.

by the way, craftsy is having a big sale starting today, so if you need help with these finishing tasks, this would be a great time to pick up my newest class about sweater knitting techniques or one of my finishing classes.


i have to say, that’s a beauty of a graft barb. i’m always happy to help my local friends through this tricky finishing maneuver, but even if you live far away, you can learn to do it too, with my FREE craftsy grafting class, a seriously great deal.


when my sleeve caps were completely sewn in, i lightly steamed pressed the seams so they would drape nicely. normally, i would give this garment a complete wash/wet blocking before doing photos, to help that fiber bloom, close up the gaps between stitches, and even out the fabric surface a bit. but we just didn’t have time for that on saturday; i needed to get photos before sunset, haha.


meanwhile barb worked on setting in her sleeves; i had showed her a couple of tricks for getting nice seams along the top of the sleeve and she was pretty impressed with her improved seams. we were neck and neck at this point, but soon after lunch, barb got called away for a small emergency. we weren’t going to finish exactly at the same time, drat.


i went home and finished joining the side and underarm seams of my sweater—by five or so i was done and rushed to put on a bit of makeup while david got the camera ready.


as the sun got ready to set, we squeezed in a nice photo shoot; the right was perfect and it was a lot of fun for the two of us to be working alone as a team again—we don’t get to do that often any more!

i love the way this sweater feels—so light i keep forgetting it’s there. it’s not at all fussy to wear, either; it stays right in place and looks nice no matter how i move around.

in fact i love both versions—i’m looking forward to wearing my blue tayet version when i get it back from its visit in the spirit trail booth at the fiber show.


barb was back tonight, with completed sweater in tow and made up for her photo shoot—isn’t her’s gorgeous? this design has many details that make it flattering to a lot of body types—a central feature that pulls the eye away form the sides of the body, lovely fitted shoulders and armholes, another feature at the center back for a beautiful exit, and a shorter sleeve option to lighten up the overall look, should you want to wear it in summer (learn more about choosing a sweater style that will flatter your body in my sweater knitting techniques class).


barb also chose to knit with better breakfast fingering, but in the sugarfrost shade. barb is tall, so she chose to lengthen the body of her sweater by about an inch and a half . she lengthened the sleeves about an inch (as did i; we both have extra long arms).


sigh; another person who doesn’t like to smile for the camera—and barb has SUCH a great smile too. what are we going to do with her?


well, we love her anyway, don’t we?

what a rush, huh? later on, all i had every for was fiddling around a bit with some lace yarn and an idea i have for a new shawl; i’m ready for a bit of lace.


i’ve had this briar rose stella for a while, intending it for a specific idea i’ve been working out in my head. i think i’m almost ready to start, but need a little swatching to work out the details.


speaking of stella, while i was in the shop on saturday, i saw that anastasia had unearthed a few remaining skeins of the cranberry stella lace that i designed the winterwood crescent shawl with. we sold out this kit VERY quickly at the time of its release and i know a few people were disappointed not to get one.

these are skeins we held in reserve for the last eighteen months in case of a yarn emergency or lost package. there are just five left and we are ready to let them go now. david has opened up the winterwood kit listing so they may be purchased.


now that the rush is over to get those sweaters finished and published for maryland, i’m reorganizing my task list to start some new ones. but before i even do that, i need to give both my new BNWs sweaters a nice hot bath so we can really appreciate their soft beauty.

i’ll be back with more about all that in a couple of days—for now, happy knitting.