Archive for the ‘lace/shawls’ Category

oooh, pretty shiny

Friday, August 7th, 2015

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nothing makes me happier than seeing guests settle in and really relax in our home. we all work hard, you know? it’s so good to spend time  just enjoying each other’s company once in a while.

when we were planning katharine’s visit in the previous weeks, i offered up a number of “activities” we could do during her stay, to which she’d reply that she’d be up for anything, followed by the caveat that she’d be just as happy to simply hang out and knit. she said it so many times that i finally got the message—i should let her knit, haha!

she arrived with two shawl projects on the needles, one of them an artichaut shawl that was very close to completion. and you know what that means, right? BLOCK PARTAY!!

so throughout the the weekend whenever we were not on the move, she took up her place on the other end of our dining room sofa (one side is my campout spot) and worked away on the last six rows of her shawl, which she opted to knit in our chebris mohair/merino lace yarn in the silvery dragée shade (back in stock very soon).

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the pattern includes instructions for both lace and sport weight yarns—and coincidentally we do also carry chebris in sport weight—but our lace is a little heavier than the original lace yarn used in the design. katharine compensated by using a size 5US (3.75 mm) needle to keep the fabric as light and airy as the original.

yes we occasionally got out for the odd walk or neighborhood bike ride, and i definitely had to attend to multiple other duties in the adjacent kitchen, but katharine was diligent about staying her course while i steadily moved from one task to another. the place was a veritable beehive of project activity.

even though she stopped often to coo over the yarn and how pretty it worked up into the pattern, she made excellent headway and by monday morning it was time to bind off and see what she had made.

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just a little quirk of mine . . . i always like to get a good look at the “before fabric”, taking a mental snapshot (or in this case an actual one) of the texture and density. i do the same with the drape—i pick up the piece and lay it against a few different surfaces to assess the hand, so i can compare that with the “after” fabric.

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i ran a soapy hot bath while she was in the shower and plunged the shawl in for a good soak.

and while the soak was doing its magic, we had more company—heidi (author of embraceable ewe designs) and her friend donna had driven over from ligonier, PA that day to visit our shop.

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we spent the next hour or more chatting with them about yarn, knitting, and designs—heidi brought along the completed fair isle cardigan which she knit in our breakfast blend fingering yarn last year.

i feel badly because i really wanted to take a photo of her wearing this sweater but we were talking so much that i just managed to grab a quick shot of it folded up. darn! but isn’t it beautiful? she says she wore it a LOT last winter because while lightweight, it was incredibly warm. and she should know; she lives on a farm in the mountains and spends a good deal of time outdoors.

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heidi picked out yarn for a few new designs—confection sport in white chocolate for an aran sweater she will knit for a friend, chebris sport in dragée to knit herself another cardigan, and she cleaned out our supply of ginny sport in texas to knit a shetland style square for her new grand baby, due in a few months. once you get the yarn in your hands, it’s hard to stop—ask me how i know . . .

even katharine, who had a pile of yarn waiting in my office that she reserved by email before arriving, could not resist when we started passing the yarn around. she fell in love with the ginny cotton sport as well and decided that as soon as our new colors arrive this month, she will purchase some for a project (i can’t remember if it’s  sweater or a baby blanket). in the meantime, she consoled herself with a couple skeins of the ginny DK to knit a soft slouch potato hat for a friend who is receiving chemo treatments.

as with every guest that comes to see us, it was such a pleasure to spend time with heidi and donna that day. we are always happy to open the shop during off-hours with a little advance notice, so don’t hesitate to give us a ring if you are coming to canton and want to stop by. and if you come during wednesday knit night, you’ll get to meet barb as well—now that’s worth the trip, haha.

after our visit i had to scoot to a meeting—we are planning an exciting new way to show off our yarns beginning in january—so katharine went back to the house to pin out her shawl. when she was done it was time for monday afternoon class and she got to meet all of my local knitting friends.

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i had some cherry crumble bars saved aside in the freezer for the occasion, which i think everyone enjoyed.

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i worked on the back piece of my second top design in the millet shade of hempshaugh lace—though work has been a little slow on it, i am homing in on the finish of this piece.

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i am ready now to bind off the armholes and shape the yoke, which i plan to do tonight; i can’t wait to finish and see what it feels like.

katharine sat next to me oohing and ahhhing over her choice of ginny DK—it really is a softness bomb—which got me dreaming about what i would knit with it when this hemp top was off the needles.

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i’m thinking that a scrumptiously loose, long-sleeved thermal stitch henley shirt will be just the thing to take me through the fall and again to wear in spring. in fact, i might need one of those in every shade. doesn’t that sound yummy?

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that girl—we always laugh at the tangles she manages to create. here, she has somehow gotten her knitting yarn all tied up around the chair leg—how does this happen?

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after class, we were famished so we took ourselves off to try a new restaurant that opened in town last week. then it was home to put our feet up and enjoy a knitting evening while watching episodes of a chef’s life (i’m a huge fan and katharine says we can go there when i visit her some day).

while we knit we appreciated the shawl, which was pinned out near our feet. excuse the rather poor photos; i had to take all of them after dark under electric light.

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see what i mean about the fabric? it is drastically different after a good soak. first of all, the lace opens up to reveal its true beauty. but the washed fiber also just shimmers with light.

i also love the little shaded variations within the yarn; they add to the highlighting effect (however, the “ring” of darker fabric that you see around the hem is merely an extra spray of water that is applied to the almost-dry fabric after pinning out, to help the blocking hold its shape).

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katharine did an absolutely beautiful job of both knitting and blocking it, didn’t she? she cast on over memorial day weekend and cast off just at the start of august, so the shawl took about two months of work (and i’m pretty sure she knit on a couple of other things in that time). but totally worth the effort—she will wear this for years and years.

and she was so cute—that night while we watched TV, she kept checking the fabric to see if it was dry enough to unpin. it felt dry but we wanted to be sure so she let it sit another hour and finally we agreed she should take it up and see the results of her work.

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oh my—the fabric was like liquid silver as it draped over my lap—it fairly GLOWED (and this is in bad light; can you imagine what the sun would do for it?). wow, now i want one! but in all honesty, i should design something new; this yarn deserves its own shawl.

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the stitch definition is really something—while the fabric has definitely lost a lot of that depth it had in the “before” photo, it has gained immeasurably in other ways by blocking. the depth it has now is more ethereal and illusory—much preferred for a light and airy shawl than actual thickness. the pattern takes advantage of the sheen in this yarn by directing the highlights this way and that to create mesmerizing shadow play.

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it was still dark in the morning when i got up but i draped the shawl on the form to capture a few images anyway; maybe some day i can get some in sunlight.

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i can’t remember if katharine knit the petite or the tall size—maybe she will comment and let us know. but certainly on the bigger needles with the slightly heavier yarn, she ended up with a generously sized shawl.

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you can see what i mean about the depth and texture here—it is not at all lost by being rigorously stretched and blocked. there is plenty of depth and definition in the pattern while offering the sense of a most delicate fabric.

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and the beautiful scalloped edges stay put almost permanently because lace patterning on both sides of the fabric locks in the curvy shape.

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that’s why a very loose bind off is a great skill to develop—you might need it to finish a shawl like this, which shouldn’t be shortchanged at the very last by binding off too tightly.

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when katharine came down just before leaving for her next stop, i asked her for a modeling shot or two, just for fun.

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(i personally think the bright pink shorts are brilliant, haha)
she’s so happy with it and she should be—it’s a work of art and she created it!

soon after, off she went into the sunrise—on to her next adventure. it was wonderful weekend and i hope she comes back. i love it when friends visit (and relatives too, MOM!).

speaking of driving off into the sunrise, david and i will be packing a van full of yarn goodness and delicious extras to take with us to the michigan fiber festival next weekend.

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if you live anywhere nearby, this is your chance to see our yarns in person and feel for yourself the luxurious artisan craftwork spun into each skein. we’ll have all of our favorites as well as the new offerings (well, as long as we aren’t sold out!).

this is a great opportunity to forego shipping charges by having us bring your order to the show—you can email david or erica, using the email form in the right-hand column; they will fix you up with whatever you need

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last year we were outside near the parking lot, but this year we think we’ve secured a spot in the barn (it’s been inconclusive, but we think it’s settled now). if not our old place is still secured.

and lastly, in mid-september i will will be traveling to chicago to teach at windy knitty; it will be a weekend of trunk show, yarn tasting, lace knitting and finishing classes—i hope to see some of you there!

david is making faces at me that it’s time to get out on our bikes if we want to beat the sunset, so i’m going to boogie—please excuse any typos; i will proofread after our ride. have a splendid weekend; the weather is supposed to be fine.

visitors

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

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even though i joke among peers for being “hopeless hostess”—forever forgetting to offer drinks or get dinner on the table before midnight—we love having friends come to stay in our home. and as long as they can get comfortable with the pace that things move around here most days, i think they like it here, too.

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so when my friend katharine mentioned a few months back that she was going to be in our area for a week or so, i eagerly invited her to make room in her plans for visiting with us at our place.

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we decided to meet up at cleveland’s west side market shortly after her plane arrived on saturday. of course it was an absolute zoo—i don’t know what i was thinking when i suggested that, haha. but we each managed to find parking and walked around a bit, which is always a treat.

between the specialty foods, produce, and people watching, you can’t really go wrong in making a morning out of it.

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i stocked up on some exotic salts for cooking and bought a small bag of nuts for nibbling, but mostly we were there to stroll and see.

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after a while the crowds and noise drove us out in the street to look for a quiet place to eat lunch (which turned out to be vietnamese).

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next stop was the cleveland museum of art, which i had never been to visit, so i was excited. they have recently reopened after an extensive renovation and expansion. the photo above is angled toward the old beaux arts structure, now partially enveloped by the modern annex, shown below.

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but not entirely; the two coexist and converse with each other very well. the atrium space between the two buildings is nothing short of vast—its sparely furnished space  provides an ocean of stillness in which to transition from the old museum to the new and from traditional art to modern. the sheer volume of air in which to merely sit and be is a luxury i rarely experience.

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one of the museum’s missions is to offer “the finest of cultural assets, including an art museum that is accessible to the public free of charge”. and so it does—we just walked through the doors and were immediately allowed to engage in the art, the space, with no stops at a desk and no coat or bag check.

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we entered through the south garden of the old building, where no less than a dozen bridal parties were congregated for photography—that was quite something! we didn’t spend much time in the old galleries because we were anxious to take in the new architecture.

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the new spaces are stunning; this hallways of glass shows the outer side of the old building on one side while revealing gallery contents of the new building on the other. inside, the galleries are scaled for modern and contemporary art, with ceilings high enough to allow for exhibition of really large canvases and installation pieces.

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even though the exterior of the two museums is very different, the floorpan inside actually reminds me very much of the whitney museum of american art which i visited with nancy back in june. not surprising since both museums are striving to create better traffic flow and an environment in which to fully view and appreciate the works.

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at the end of the afternoon they had to kick us out—we stayed until the very last minute and then walked around the outside of the buildings for a bit, taking in the very different architecture and surface design of the adjoining structures.

back at home we got katharine settled in and then met up back in the kitchen where she pulled gifts out of her bag, one of them a basket of peaches from north carolina. uh, YUM! it was perfect, but a little less worse for wear from its travels that morning. so instead of resting and knitting as we’d planned, we got right to work peeling and slicing them for a pie.

in between getting supper ready and putting the remaining chopped peaches into freezer bags for the winter, i made a gluten free pie dough so we could bake off dessert right after dinner.

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katharine knitted and chatted with me while i worked—one of my favorite things about the new kitchen is that i can happily socialize with david or with guests while i work.

we ate an absolutely delicious meal of ratatouille i’d cooked a few days earlier, topped with codfish, mmm. afterward, i rolled out the crust which did not give me a struggle this time, thank goodness.

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for the filling, i just used raw sliced peaches, some sugar (maybe half a cup? three-quarters?), a few tablespoons of tapioca flour, a pinch of salt, and spices (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, allspice—but not too much of any one). since i was using a crumb topping (the same one from the GF cherry crumble bars i made last week), i didn’t add butter to the filling.

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and though it was nearly midnight when we finally had a taste, the pie turned out just beautifully; i will definitely be using this method again as it works equally well with cherries and i suspect, blueberries.

this pie also makes an excellent pre bike ride breakfast—just sayin’.
with vanilla ice cream of course for calcium, magnesium, and protein . . . .

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sunday morning i was up first, so i put on a pot of coffee, knit a few rows while it perked, and headed out to the garden to catch any overgrown things that needed attending. just outside the back door i found this butterfly in my peppers, so lazy that it couldn’t even be bothered to fly away when i got within a foot or so.

when i explored deeper into the vegetable patch, i found that though i had picked the previous day, everything needed a going over.

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i didn’t actually pick these winter squash but boy are they growing like mad—i’ll show you more tomorrow.

the weekend heat had thrown the beans and squash into production overdrive (it has since cooled bit, thank goodness).

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so that’s where katharine found me when she ventured outside, burrowing under umbrella-sized squash leaves in search of those that might be hiding (no matter how i try, i ALWAYS miss one and we end up with a squash torpedo for the compost pile).

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naturally i did not get a rest from the green beans either—there was a full basket when i was done. also peas and greens—once all that was assembled, i knew just what i wanted to cook for dinner that evening.

but first, a little recreation. since barb was coming over that afternoon to knit, we decided to squeeze in a little bike ride around town. unfortunately my back tire was mysteriously flat so we ditched the bikes and set out on foot instead.

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seeing our town through someone else’s eyes is always fun. we live in a fairly quirky small city, a lot like the one i grew up near. lots of character, so to speak.

the sun grew hot very quickly so we soon headed back—we’ve had absolutely stunning weather this last week or two—not too hot at all, but the sun is bright and clear so it’s smart not to stay out in it too long.

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we all chatted and those two knitted, barb on her blanket statement strips and katharine finishing up her gorgeous artichaut shawl (more on that in the next post). i had my work cut out for me, clearing the fridge of green beans before the week began—i had about six pounds left after giving away some in the office on friday and more on sunday to barb (note the large blue bag sitting next to her).

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i topped and sorted what i had into sizes—really big fat ones to cut into soup-sized niblets, medium large ones to grill and glaze chinese style, and very slim, tender ones to flash cook thai basil style. the last two going into the freezer for winter as ready-made side dishes (IMO this method preserves the original bean flavor and texture even better than freezing plain—plus it’s so handy on the user end).

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as you can see i have not been exaggerating one bit about the volume of beans—i really am drowning in them. thank goodness for the vegetable lovers we have close to us!

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once they were all prepped i got busy stir frying them in batches (blanching for the cut ones that i was freezing plain).

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it’s very simple—into hot sesame oil toss some minced hot pepper, garlic, salt, black pepper, and ginger, throw in the green beans whole and allow to sit until blackened a bit on the one side, then toss and repeat til they begin to wilt. just before shutting off the heat i add some chile sauce, a little oyster or hoisin sauce, and a spoon of black pepper sauce, then give it a toss to glaze the beans. since i am going to reheat them when they thaw, i am careful at this stage not to overcook.

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i laid each batch out on a big platter to cool and tossed them together, then divided into freezer bags and stored away for future winter meals. these make a great side dish with salmon, veggie burgers, or butternut squash soup.

next it was time to start supper—david was out for a ride and would be hungry when he got back and i had a surprise i’d been saving for him. i had cut up some yukon gold potatoes and put them on to soak; now i drained them, tossed with olive oil, fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic, then slid them into the oven to roast.

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while i finished the beans up and washed greens for dinner, katharine shelled our little crop of peas which i’d been collecting for a few days to use as a feature ingredient in a special supper—one of david’s favorite dishes.

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aren’t the purple ones pretty?

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and katharine says they are easier to shell than the green ones . . .

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since i had the large skillet out and warmed up, i sautéed some sliced summer squash for a bare minute or so in olive oil and garlic from this year’s crop that david was drying on the porch. O.M.G.—there aren’t words to describe the aroma; it’s a drug.

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to the pan i added the trimmed swiss chard (any soft greens will do) and turned off the heat so the leaves would just wilt.

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i set that aside and in a big pot, started a sauté of more garlic and two cans of chick peas, which i  allowed to cook til the outsides bubbled a bit. then i added chopped chard stems, sliced shiitake mushrooms, pepper, salt, fresh chopped parsley, and sliced scallions that got left in the ground from last year’s garden and are now so big they are exploding out of the dirt, the size of jaw breakers. but gorgeous alongside the bright green chard stems!

i meant to add some shredded carrot to the mix—the bright orange would have been fab—and forgot. once they have begun to soften just a little, i added a couple of quarts of vegetable stock while the vegetables were still crunchy—we don’t want anything overcooked in this dish. i get every ingredient pre-prepped before cooking so i can preserve the bright colors and fresh, almost raw texture of the vegetables; the cooking time is very short and the timing is critical.

somewhere in there i put a pan of water on the fire to boil some small soup pasta—orzo or tiny rings are perfect.

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into each bowl  put a portion of raw peas (if yours are very large you could cook them in some of the soup broth for one minute), a portion of the small pasta, and a portion of the greens and squash, then topped with a portion of the soup. it’s kind of like a salad in a soup, haha.

it is delicious with grated curls of parmigiano-reggiano or slices of aged provolone with, if you are lucky to be able to eat it, great hunks of chewy italian bread. instead of that i served the roasted potatoes, which is also rounds out this meal well. we all three relished each bite of our late sunday supper, happy to be filling our stomachs with such wonderfulness. it was so satisfying, we didn’t even eat pie afterward (but we did eat it for breakfast the next morning).

i don’t know if this soup has a name because i made up this version years ago based on our taste for the ingredients. i cook it every spring and summer when i can get all the ingredients fresh. in our experience, it is really only good in season, using fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market or garden. i have poor luck cooking beans at home from dried, but if you are talented at it, then skip the canned ones and use your own.

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not twenty four hours after clearing the garden and my fridge of produce, it is full again—and without spending a penny. true we did that back in the spring, but it still feels like riches falling into our laps from nowhere. how lucky are we?

we stayed up for a while longer, knitting and watching episodes of chef & the farmer—about a locavore restaurant enterprise that is located only about an hour from katharine’s home, in kinston, NC. she had never seen it and i wanted to share; it’s one of my favorite series. what a foodie day!

next time, i’ll tell you more about my visit with katharine and her beautiful shawl project—tomorrow!

who’s ready for refreshments?

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

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the dog days of summer are officially upon us. linked to the rising of the dog star, sirius, ancient romans observed the dog days from july 24 through august 24. well, we are right on schedule with rising temperatures and humidity that threaten to to throw us into sultry, late summer torpor.

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dog days were popularly believed to be an evil time when, according to according to Brady’s Clavis Calendaria 1813:
“the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.”

hmm, no wonder our knitting mojo can go astray in this weather—makes you wonder how the world might have turned out if A/C hadn’t been invented . . .

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oh wait—you can just stop by our place, haha.
like those old egyptians and romans—and most people on earth today, in fact—we live without mechanical cooling and find other means by which to keep comfortable during these hottest days of the year.

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naturally we seek yarn solutions—as we do with all of life’s challenges. believe it or not, there are fabrics that not only make this time of year tolerable, but actually enjoyable.

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so naturally we wanted to represent our love of these fabrics in our yarn lines. we started a couple of years ago, sampling hemp and cotton blends with one of our mills, but those plans kept getting sidelined because the mill was too busy to handle the experimentation process.

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i happened to mention the situation to our ohio mill in the spring, never dreaming that they’d be positioned to produce the kind of yarns we desired and SNAP! next thing i knew we were holding samples. and not just attempts, but seriously fine test skeins.

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well we got right on that, swatching and knitting and making and drooling the whole time—we looooved these yarns!

and now we can share them with you so you can experience them for yourselves. i’m telling you, these will cure any knitting malaise you’ve fallen into.

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first, we’ve got hempshaugh, a merino/hemp/silk blend that has a wonderful airy crunch while feeling like a soft old t-shirt next to the skin. this one is a super wicking fabric; it never feels soggy, whether you’re knitting with it or wearing it. hempshaugh is available as a fingering weight in millet (left) and buckwheat (right).

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i knit my swatch on size 7US (4.5 mm) needles for an airy fabric that has plenty of structure for garments. i’m planning to knit a skirt with it as soon as i finish my current project, which is knit in hempshaugh lace.

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this amazing yarn has such wonderful body that the laceweight version can be knit into featherweight tops, scarves, and shawls on needles we can all deal with—size 5US (3.75 mm) and even bigger for lace.

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it makes just the most beautiful fabric; you won’t want to miss knitting something with this yarn. like the fingering version, hempshaugh lace is available in both millet (above) and buckwheat (below).

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but you know we never stop at one.

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what fun would that be? and how would we layer things up to create wonderfully varied looks if we had just one cool yarn?

plus, we just couldn’t resist—when our mill showed us this luscious alpaca/cotton/merino/nylon blend, we were lost. we’re calling this blend ginny and it is also available in two weights—ginny sport and ginny DK. right now it is in stock in the first shade, texas, a creamy off-white, perfect for hot summer days.

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haha, yesterday erica picked up this swatch and smiled, then said, “it feels like a stuffed animal!” i knit this one in the round to see if the yarn would work for the gearhead pullover and it will, though it will be very light and airy (but comfy!).

ginny is cool and smooth and amazingly stretchy with great recovery.

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the sport weight is perfect for lightweight sweaters and socks and shawls and just about anything you’d use a heavier fingering yarn for. i can’t wait to try it in some socks.

next time i will be back with another post about these yarns, discussing more of the nitty gritty facts and figures, as well as lists of pattern ideas for knitting some up now.

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til then, why not browse our selections of ginny sport, ginny DK, hempshaugh lace, and hempshaugh fingering. tell us what you think; tell us what you’ll knit!

 

it’s here!

Friday, July 24th, 2015

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yesterday our mail carrier, rick, rolled up to the curb in the big mail truck to deliver five big boxes—our monthly batch from our ohio mill, ANF. and you know what that means . . . our first batch of hemp and cottons yarns have arrived!

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well, you can imagine how quickly i had the box cutter out, haha. the first thing my hands landed on was the hemp blend in fingering weight (above)—don’t you just want to reach out and skuh-weeze it? these skeins are spun to the same yardage per pound as our other fingering weights and are equally springy, able to be knit on needles up to size 4.5 mm or even 5.0 mm for openwork fabric. after knitting with this yarn in laceweight (which we also received in two shades), i want a whole wardrobe in it and maybe some throws and other home items too.

after a bit i composed myself and kept digging, because that was just the tip of the iceberg. are you ready? cuz here come the cottons!

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this is the re-do on the lighter weight version. when we attempted the same gauge yarn as our other fingerings, it wouldn’t hold together all that well unless it was overspun, which made it feel coarse—not what we wanted. so to keep the same soft hand, we went instead to a sport weight gauge and that worked beautifully—it’s soft and springy, perfect for light sweaters, shirts, clothes and blankets for kids and babies, and my personal favorite—great socks.

yes, i really do think this yarn would make excellent socks. it has all the right fiber types to make strong, soft, and durable legwear.

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there is a DK weight in this yarn too (above, left); we are knitting a leaving sweater with short sleeves in that. we should be listing these new yarns in the store by tomorrow—we chose names for everything the other day at our company meeting and  now we just need some photos from david for those store pages. once it’s up, we’ll be back with a blog full of wonderful yarn prøn, pattern ideas, and swatches—stay tuned.

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also in this delivery, a delicious batch of chebris sport and lace in the divine crème shade. this is the first time it’s been spun at the new mill and the note tucked in along with it made me smile . . . our miller, carrie, is as enthusiastic about our yarns as we are (especially these mohair blends); she always sends little notes and texts when she’s excited.

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but she’s never wrong—they really do make delicious yarn. batches and shades vary, of course from one to the other; fiber in lighter shades is generally finer than dark ones and this batch is particularly soft and delightful.

also in this shipment was more better breakfast DK and fingering in poppy, warm coals, and waffle. it’s like christmas every month when our boxes arrive, haha.

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it’s been a really full week around here, starting with the kickoff for our ENVY club last friday, when the first pattern rolled out. yarn had been landing left and right for several days beforehand to shouts of approval, so clubbies were ready and waiting with fingers poised to download as soon as the chapter went live. in fact, we sold out our remaining few spots that week—thank you everyone; we SO appreciate that! since then, the threads have been abuzz with activity as everyone casts on to knit green.

with that underway, i spent the weekend catching up on things around the house, as well as trying to reduce the pile of work on my desk (and yet, still looking at one despite my diligence, haha)

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on friday afternoon i allowed myself to put my feet up and knit on my hemp blend tunic top and got surprisingly far in just a few hours. even though i’ve already recorded how quickly pieces go in this yarn, it’s still amazes me when i do it, haha. we also went out for a nice long bike ride that evening—wonderful. the weather here has been stunningly beautiful; it’s silly not to be out enjoying it when the work days ends.

after an early run on saturday, i drove to our local blueberry farm and bought a ten-pound box each for barb and myself. i hurried home home to get mine into freezer bags before she came over to knit all afternoon (she’s been away and we both missed knitting together).

 

as she was leaving, we took a look into the garden where, lo and behold, we saw green beans by the dozen just a day or so away from picking. afterward it was out for more cycling with david and a late supper.

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we’ve been eating very well from the garden around here, with fresh picked greens and summer squash on the menu nearly every night.

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that evening we had the quickest of dinners with salmon, wilted red chard, and a quick stir fry of summer squash, mushrooms, chard stems, and scallions.

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the garden is loaded with more that is about to come—peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and loads of green beans.

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i picked the first ones last sunday morning; aren’t they lovely?

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that day i had just a small take, enough for a dinner and the next day the same. but by yesterday, i picked a full basket—3.5 pounds

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i will cook those up tonight after our ride and get some of them into the freezer. this year i am going to do most of them as finished dishes—such as stir fry or stewed lightly in tomatoes—i think they taste even better that way and it saves time on the eating end.

another thing barb and i discovered is that the peas i have been waiting for and watching are not what i thought they’d be

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they are even prettier! i was completely surprised to see these dark purple pods coming out of the flowers. i didn’t even know we had these seeds, but there you go. they are filling out now and should be ready to pick very soon.

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another crop that is more lush than usual are the herbs—especially the basil. i don’t EVER remember having such big plants with so much foliage. since i planned to get a lot of other picking and processing done on sunday, i went ahead and brought in a basket of basil too.

most of this i just took off the stems, put through the salad spinner, and stuffed into ziplock bags for freezing. but some i kept in a damp towel to make pesto later in the week, mmm—hadn’t had that in a year; it was time.

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the big item i really need to get on top of was the greens—i had let them go a few days too long and they were halfway to my waist, like tropical plants.

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did you think i was exaggerating? this is what my kitchen island looked like after i came in with my haul of swiss chard and collards (that island is something like eight or nine feet long).

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what i had thought would be a couple of hours work stretched all the way to evening as i extracted the tough stem and rib from each leaf. but so worth the work—this is my very favorite crop and i like to have plenty in the freezer to eat all winter long.

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i ended up with eleven bags of chard, five bags of collards, and three bags of chopped stems to use in soup, stews, stir fries, and curries.

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i also had a large colander of baby leaves that i put in the fridge to use as “power greens” in salad during the week (we pay a lot for that mix in the store when we don’t have our own!).

then it was time to tackle the pile of squash and eggplant i had from the previous week—i was anxious to turn this into a pot of ratatouille, our first this year.

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i added a few store-bought peppers, and onion, and some tomatoes left in the freezer from last year, along with some fresh basil and garlic. so yummy.

i left the kitchen very, very tired on sunday evening, but with a good start on filling the freezer and a week of meals all cooked.

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on tuesday i used that bundle of cleaned basil to make pesto with fresh green beans, our first tomatoes, wilted red chard and stems, and some frozen broccoli flowers. i even used garlic from the garden, as david had dug up a bulb to see if it was ready. it was, and omg is it good.

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by wednesday, all signs were go for our garlic harvest and what a beautiful take it was—forty three bulbs total, most between 2.5 and 3 inches in diameter.

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haha, yesterday morning when i threw open the doors to the sun porch for air, my nose was met with the delicious aroma of fresh garlic, which david has laid out to dry there.

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we didn’t have a good harvest the last time we grew it and we didn’t have a garlic patch last year at all, so at the end of last summer i made a special effort when visiting farmers markets to buy a variety of big bulbs for seed.

i know i bought different kinds, but they weren’t labeled in the garden. some is supposed to be hotter or spicier or more mellow than other, but i know not which. heh, i might be able to tell which heads go together, but i doubt it; i think we will just play luck of the draw and use it randomly.

 

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and while we did enjoy the fruits of my sunday labor all week long, during that time, more has been growing—in fact it seems to double itself each week.

i let the squash go an extra day and they got a little bigger than i like for the table so i will cut these up and bag them for the freezer; they are excellent additions to chile and bean dishes.

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since we have eggplant and squash aplenty, more ratatouille and ciambotta are in the cards as well; we adore those dishes. with peppers just about ready to pick, i will have all the right ingredients at my fingertips.

and when they are joined by tomatoes (hopefully soon), i can cook up some vegetable based pasta sauces as well. we’ve picked a few tomatoes, but the real red tide is at least a couple of weeks away, thank goodness; i am staying just ahead of being overwhelmed at this point.

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even the winter squashes are big already and i’m not sure i really know when to pick them (yes, the stems really are that color, too). we’ve never had acorn squash succeed to the picking stage, haha. the butternut squash vine is loaded too—if it survives the hot weather, there will be lots of them.

as you can imagine, it’s been a bit of a challenge to keep up my knitting and most of what i did last week was secret stuff as well. i saved the work on my hemp top for when i needed a soothing, easy to knit thing in my hands and a little at a time, i finished that front piece by yesterday.

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i love the shape of this one—a bit different from the first design; looser around the waist and hip, it fits most closely just under the bust. the scoop neck will be home to a nice cowl with subtle stripes that will be echoed around the armhole. while i don’t think a short sleeve will look well on this design, i do think it would be very pretty with a three-quarter sleeve (like those on triticum).

meanwhile, i’ve been working a bit at a time on the pattern for the top i showed you earlier in the week and soon it will be off to the tech editor (like hopefully later tonight!)

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hey, here’s another great way to take advantage of the stunningly sunny days we’ve been having . . . use those rays to admire a beautiful yarn, haha.

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take a gander at this spectacular use of our cabécou brillant sport yarn in color poivre  that cherie used to knit her loden shawl from the recent wool people 9 collection. she knit this baby in just a few days—it’s fun and goes quickly on larger needles in the sport weight yarn.

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so many of our yarns work really well in BT patterns, which are created for artisan yarns. the designs take great advantage of the qualities unique to these yarns, such as greater loft and buoyancy, greater character, and a sturdier hand.

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cherie used two skeins of cabécou brillant sport for her loden project; details on her yarn substitution are described on her project page. thank you cherie, for generously sending the finished piece to us right away for photography; david took some gorgeous photos the other day with our model, karen.

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i will try to be back in a day or two with more—i really miss writing and hearing from you all when i’m not able to get here. believe me, my intention is to blog every other day, but then i go out in that garden and my day—and sometimes my week—has been planned without me!

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haha, last sunday when i was knee-deep in picking, my mom texted me and i sent her this photo. back came her response—”omg, are those squash plants??”. this, from a woman who lived on a farm for her entire marriage (and believe me, we had squash).

yeah, they are big alright; sturdy, wonderfully healthy things—at last. and all to soon they will be  memory; the days are getting shorter and our bike rides have to be a little earlier—fall is really just around the corner.

a great reason to take full advantage of NOW. and there is david, gathering his bike clothes—i better get going.

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have a lovely weekend; play hard!