Archive for the ‘lace/shawls’ Category

kind of obsessed

Monday, March 23rd, 2015


i’ve been watching every day and finally, i saw my first robin on saturday morning. just one. but then i saw one or two more yesterday, too. though  it’s back to being very cold at night again (like in the teens), they seem to be staying around . . . now that the snow has melted off the garden mounds and the top layer has thawed a bit, i bet they smell worms coming to life out there. mmm.

for the first time in many weeks, i had kind of a normal weekend—longer stretches of quiet working time (harder to come by during the week), saturday yoga class, some cooking, and some running. i’m always grateful for the small stuff—like having time to chop loads of veggies and not having to avoid snowy or otherwise suspicious patches on the pavement.


several times recently, people have commented that i didn’t seem to be designing anything new lately. then my mom said something to that effect when i spoke with her yesterday (i didn’t know she read my blog, haha). even david keeps asking when i’m going to publish something new.

oh man—i didn’t at all meant to give that impression! i think my current work is all just either tied up in the clubs or projects that take a lot longer to incubate and hatch (to make use of a seasonal metaphor, haha).


i’ve been knitting up and working out patterns for a whole series of sweater projects—i’ve got six in the works at the moment actually, and probably a seventh to start very soon. it’s actually been kind of a grand central station of sweater projects around here, haha, with patterns revolving constantly between me, tana, renee, and anne marie. which is why it strikes me as hilarious that it appears i’m not working—although now i see that from a different perspective, it makes sense.


i guess i just though that my sweater progress must be kind of repetitive or boring—oh look, three more inches of sweater back—yay. and here, look how much pattern writing i’ve got done—whoopee! and oooohhhh—blocking—again.

not to mention all the ripping and restarting that a prototype can entail. sigh.


which is what i have done a few times with this current sweater project. it’s all good now and i can finally talk about it without causing panic, but with some projects, i just goof up over and over.


it started off well enough last thursday when i blocked my sleeve and had a good portion of the first front piece done. this is one piece that i did not prepare all that well before getting it on the needles—i was too excited to start working with the yarn, so i gave myself a bare skeleton of a pattern. the sleeve went fine, but once i got into the work of knitting the front, i began to think in more detail about the pattern and i realized that i may have goofed something up. but instead of fixing it right then, i stupidly decided to keep going for a little while more (i know; we ALL do that, don’t we?).

so i went back to the computer and my calculations and once i had it laid out in numbers, i could see where some adjustments would need to be made—including that it could be considerable narrowed in the body portion.


ok, i was actually this far into the armhole shaping by that time, but i definitely wanted it to be right. well, i thought, why don’t i just set this piece aside and start the second front to be sure i won’t want to go back to this one. there were actually several other things i wanted to change by this time so the decision wasn’t hard, but i wasn’t ready to rip out that much work just yet.


i started the second front and i could see right form the start that now i was on the right track. it would still need some minor adjustments but this was at least 100 percent better.


all went very well in fact—these lightweight sweaters seem at first to go slowly but surmise—when you sit and knit on them for a decent amount of time, they actually zip along at a pretty good clip. by yesterday at noon i had most of that new front done and was well on my way to the shoulder shaping.

i started my draft pattern and emailed the instructions for the back piece to the test knitter, karolyn, so she could  get started on a second prototype.


at that point, i went ahead and ripped back the first front—nothing makes me quite as grumpy as noncompliant sweater pieces, sitting around looking ashamed of themselves and pouting over their stupidity. off they go!

by this time i was very confident that i could finish up the draft pattern, so i spent most of saturday night and sunday doing that (i cooked and ran in between because after all, it was the weekend).


last night in front of the TV i got this piece all the way through the shoulder bind off and started the collar extension, but i had been one stitch off on the shoulder and that was bugging me. i put it down and went to bed and while trying to get to sleep, i thought it out.

i saw right away what the problem was and i wanted to jump up RIGHT then to fix it and email the tech editor. but i didn’t want anyone to think i was crazy . . . oh no—not that! hehe.


so even though i now couldn’t sleep, i just made myself stay in that bed and then first thing this morning, i fixed it.

and that’s when i did my next stupid thing. by the numbers front shoulder area was now off by three sts, which is a lot. in fact it is an amount for which i would totally rip back many inches to fix, because i am a stickler for a perfectly fitted shoulder and these will be too big if i let that go. however, i failed to remember that my stitch actual count was also smaller due to another adjustment i’d made earlier and was really only one stitch off.

for which i would totally just fudge it.


but i didn’t realize my confusion until AFTER i’d ripped back eight inches.

well, that’s my punishment for thinking about numbers before i’ve had my coffee; i know better . . .

good thing this beautiful spirit trail tayet is such a pleasure to knit with; i am enjoying every minute of work and rework on this sweater and i truly think that is one of the reasons i’m so willing to do it. wonderful yarn deserves to be the best thing it can become.

anne marie helped me find a name for this cardigan the other day too—we decided it should be called triticum

ok, i’ll be back with more in the next day or two and hopefully, something spicier.

black, white, and re(a)d all over

Saturday, February 14th, 2015


happy valentine’s day!


it is snowing to beat the band here; i hope our kids valentine’s day event isn’t snowed out. we will be here no matter what since it’s just next door, but i hope we have some visitors show up, too—we have cupcakes, if that makes a difference . . . and beckie will be here with her spinning wheel.


bret’s house is festooned with valentines that announce to the world how much we and our neighbors love each other. at night it’s lit up with sparkling lights all over and trails of twinkling lights across the yard—i’ll have to add a photo later on, since i forgot to get one last night (and i was staring right at it for hours, too, from my perch at my desk).


i was hoping bret might stop in to our event today—he’s really a big kid at heart after all—but it looks like the storm may have got the better of him . . .


if you end up stuck at home due to the snow and cold (i hear it’s going to get REALLY cold tonight!), david has put together a sweet deal for today only on our 2015 BNK blanket statement club—a little discount from us to you.


haha, in fact, batches of these boxes are stacked all over the house, since we had to clear out the shop for today’s social event. i understand david is even storing as many as can fit in the car overnight (locked safely in the garage). he’s carting those to the post office throughout this morning. no worries if you’re just signing up today; packages will begin going out again on monday.


i’ve got my first blanket eBook chapter all written up and am putting all the pieces together into the layout over this weekend. in fact, most of the eBook is set to go; anne marie and i have been working hard for several months on spiffing up the pattern to be as flexible and fun to knit as possible. sheyanne, david, and our whole staff have been photographing and editing materials to make each chapter a beautiful work of art. our whole staff and friends have needles needles poised to start—let the blankets begin.


now, how about some knitting for this snowy valentine’s afternoon? what are you working on this weekend?


i’ve got a sweater underway and i started my reversible crescent shawl, plus i’m swatching again—i just can’t seem to stop, hehe. what can i say, there’s no rest for the wicked . . .


starting from scratch

Monday, January 19th, 2015


with our purple club now complete and a midwinter holiday weekend in progress, my mind turned to a plethora of new projects that have been percolating for awhile, patiently outwaiting the holidays for their turn at my attention.

i had several beautiful yarns lined up to explore—some for actual projects i have slated and some for testing, in order to send feedback to the mill.

and you know what that means . . . (begins with an ‘s’) . . . i had some swatching to do. in fact somehow while my back was turned, a lot of swatching that had piled up. now you know me—i love swatching. but there are times when being patient makes me just as crazy as it makes you.

i’m so itchy to start a new sweater that i can’t stand it. feeling like this can make me a bit reckless . . . but i figured i was safe in starting something with the kent DK (far right, above) in kelp, because that was the yarn best known to me and a project i had been thinking about for some time.


now i’m not saying i didn’t swatch (i didn’t completely lose my mind!). oh no, i swatched both flat (left) and in the round (right), because my original idea was to knit myself the placketed pullover version of my pedal pusher design which would need to be knit partly in the round and partly back and forth.


i even went ahead and started a sleeve, completely confident that this was what i wanted to knit (my friend anne C is knitting the official sample for her husband). but then i got thinking . . . boy, i really love this yarn and the way it knits up; i honestly didn’t think it was going to feel this soft and this spongy-squishy or this light.

i’m really thinking it might be terrific in a more textured fabric.


and the next thing i knew, i had that sleeve on a holder and i was swatching for a completely other sweater, something i’d knit years and years ago for a friend that i always wanted to recreate. so i have yarn, i have swatches, and i have a pattern, but none of them are for the same project.

i’m hoping that by tuesday i’ll be settled with a definite goal for this, because if i’m not knitting myself a sweater by then i just might have to knit a dumb, topdown stockinette pullover to satisfy my craving for one.

and that would be a big waste of my precious design time, ya know?

by the way, did i tell you the latest thing david said that gave me the shock of my life? it was actually over this very batch of kelp kent DK. i was planning all along to knit the placket pedal pusher for him, but when i started asking him a few questions about it, he told me not to bother. i was floored. i said, “but you need sweaters—yours are all in a bad state”.

he explained that this was just the point; he just ruins them, wearing out the elbow, getting tears at the neck edge from clipping his earphones on. i was stunned; i never cared about that. in fact, i find it endearing that david literally loves his sweaters to death. to me, it’s really touching that when the sleeves and neck disintegrate to the point of falling off, he simply layers them over another badly worn item and wears them for doing yard work (thus showing them off even more publicly; so cute).

so yeah, i was going to cast on a sweater for him next, but then he refused it. which kind of threw me off, so at first i assumed i’d just knit that same sweater for me. but now i’m thinking i’d rather have something different. so for the moment (and hopeful very temporarily) that project is back to the percolating stage while i swatch a little more.


somewhere in the midst of all this, barb actually DID start a new sweater, just like she said she was going to do (i should take lessons from her in efficiency). last week she bought four skeins of better breakfast fingering yarn in the new daybreak shade to knit herself a bel air pullover, because her old one is her favorite sweater. and this week she came to class with one sleeve done and about one-third of the front complete. isn’t it gorgeous?

barb says she really loves the way the better breakfast is knitting up in the stitch pattern—she never appreciated the motif as much in the other yarn, which didn’t have as much dimension as the BBF. not to mention how soft it is; she’s finding it hard to stop petting it.


we’ve also been swatching up a storm with the new cabécou lace yarn i’ve showed you a few times (center in that lineup of yarns, above). the sample skeins are really beautiful, but the washed skein showed some inconsistency that we want to get to the bottom of. since it’s a new weight and lace can be very tricky to spin, we’re doing a bunch of swatching to pinpoint the exact issue. laura did several swatches and i’ve got several myself.


they sat in a bath all afternoon while i went to a birthday party for a special friend (more about that later this week). i also have a really big post brewing about the results of all the swatching; stay tuned for that later in the week as well.


with everything in testing stages and nothing really on the needles to knit, i thought, what the heck, i may as well get it all out of the way while i’m in that mode and next thing you know, i was swatching my special, special yarn that we brought home from the mill last week (sound dizzying? don’t get me started).


i tried it out on two different needle sizes in both stockinette and the wheaten pattern, figuring that this would give me plenty to think about. the yarn is buttah soft; it will be a luxurious garment. i was thinking that a long, softly shaped cardigan would be lovely in this yarn. i’m not definite about that; we’ll see.


meanwhile, i’m collecting data.

so you see, lots and lots of knitting and nothing really to show for myself.

later today though, i’ll be releasing a couple of patterns from the september installment of the purple club—two very pretty lacy designs. have a wonderful MLK day and come back for more a little later on!



fresh tracks

Sunday, December 7th, 2014


i couldn’t help myself—i missed my snow tire scarf project once it was done; i just had to start another. originally i planned to knit my next one in our better breakfast DK (that link is just for reference; we can’t list the DK in the shop right now), but when i went over to the boutique to get some, i found that our supply was pretty much wiped out. i knew this of course, having forked over my one and only skein of the incredible rose gray muesli shade so that anastasia could complete the better breakfast orders for our upcoming blanket club.

but the reality of the situation hadn’t really penetrated my limbic system and good thing, because for any experienced knitter, this is when our bodies throw the clutch, hurtling us into full panic mode. this is the situation we dread, the very reason we stash—the moment when we realize we are stranded in the whirlpool of life’s stormy sea with no. more. yarn.

yes, even with the security of a store full of yarn right in the back yard, it’s possible to become completely unhinged over the one thing that’s out of stock.


ok, well, we did have one single, solitary DK skein put aside for test knitting—in espresso—but for photography purposes at this time of year, i really need something medium gray or lighter. and there will be none of that til the middle of the month (and almost all of it is spoken for in club orders, but i am getting one if i have to step on anastasia’s neck to do it).

so what now??

well, i spent about an hour pacing our office space and shop, bothering every single employee present while waffling over other possibilities (anastasia finally got up and went home, haha; i’m still wondering if that was my fault). i mean, it’s not like i don’t have anything else to knit.


finally, erica B suggested ghillie sport/DK. (we always call this sport, even though it is quite a fat DK—really a light worsted—in size.)

“we don’t have anything knit in that”, she said, “and we have plenty in stock; we could use a sample.”

“oh, okay i whined; i’ll look at it . . . but it’s white” (still whining)
(honestly now—wouldn’t you slap me if you were within ten yards? i really don’t deal well with indecision.)

off i trundled to feel up the ghillie sport. and, O.M.G.
i instantly felt an awful sensation run through me . . . of guilt.
i am at serious fault for having shortchanged this yarn in terms of well—everything. oh, what a fool i’ve been, groan.

the thing that really irks me about it is that i know better—i designed this yarn. i’ve also researched its fiber makeup thoroughly and discovered its many impressive qualities throughout the process of swatching to work out its size, structure, and twist. i have closely examined the test knits we had made and recorded feedback from test knitters, but i had not yet knit a whole garment with it myself. for shame!


when i picked up the skein yesterday in the shop, i could feel right away that this yarn has a stiffer hand, due to the sturdiness and spring of the cheviot fiber. but stiffness does not translate to scratchiness; when i dug my fingers into the swirled yarn within, i was rewarded by a surface creamy to the touch, with a rich, spongy depth underneath.


so i took it back to the house to cast on, thinking i’d just get the stitches on the needles so it’d be easy to pick up any time i was ready.


uh, yeah, i did skip my workout after all. i ask: would you rather go running in the cold rain or stay home with sweet, squishy yarn love in your hands??
i think i know which way you’d lean . . .


and you’d be right; this yarn is like buttah. so smooth, with such beautiful stitch definition, such delicious texture and color. it is quite literally dizzying.


i’m thinking right about now that i need another aztec mazes. or that maybe it’s time to finally get a pattern written up for this sweater


i’m not promising it will be soon, but at least now i have a yarn to focus on.


the cool thing about this yarn is that you can knit it on needles ranging from 3.5 mm (4US) to 5.0 mm (8US) (above). knit it looser for scarves, cowls, and blankets (i’m using 8s to knit my scarf) and allow it to bloom into a super-light and dense fabric.


(take a gander at this before wash/after wash comparison; isn’t it marvelous?)


knit it on the smallest needles for heavy boot socks and mittens with ironclad toughness. this swatch is knit on 6s (4.0 mm). the middle of the range will produce sweater fabric that is both light and comfortable to wear, but unlikely to pill much, if at all.


suffice it to say that i am quite pleased by this yarn choice and it will keep me quite happy until that next batch of better breakfast arrives; something to dream on, unexpectedly.

ETA: david has added an option to choose ghillie sport as the knitting yarn for the fundraiser red scarf kit;  until january 1, 2014 each kit sold will earn $10 for our red scarf scholarship fund. the entire purchase price of every snow tire scarf pattern sold during this period will also be contributed.


speaking of the red scarf project, we have a blocked and grafted snow tire cowl sample now—isn’t it delish?


since i ended up with the longer length in my sample, i have a chance to play with it a bit more and wow, you can really wear this in a variety of ways


every one of which shows off the reversible fabric delightfully.


i even noticed that it can be worn as a vest-like baffle that protects you stylishly from wind around all the edges of your short jackets


so you can go ahead and wear that dressy but flimsy party blouse out into the cold night air.


for me, this would work even better in the shorter size, since it’s a little long in back. i do love how the weight of the cable creates a fold that is just right as it wraps around the neck.

with this project finished, i turned to my santa suit yarn in worsted weight, left over from last year’s club projects.


using a scaled-down version of the viable against the same background, i started a pair of mittens. they are knitting up in  flash; i should be able to get that pattern out in plenty of time for you to knit a couple pair for holiday gifting. i’m really excited about these—they look like the quintessential winter accessory to me.


some of you may have noticed that the november club release came and went without me saying anything about releasing last november’s patterns. oops.

sorry about that—time will get away from me when i’m preoccupied with other things. i’m getting my act together to release those tomorrow. now those patterns were a pretty set of scarf, tam, and shawlette, knit in yarn hollow superior; the exclusive club colorway was white pine.


the yarn is a blend of BFL, silk, and cashmere—can you spell LUSTROUS? the photo doesn’t pick up all the beautiful variations of forest greens and blue-greens that are in it, but trust me, it is so much richer in person. we have very few remaining skeins of this yarn in the club colorway (if any), but we do have some in the popular lime rickie color we had custom-dyed for the bay leaf and lime kits.


i have always thought that this would be a wonderfully quirky holiday color, just when we need it most—kind of a grinch green—one that speaks to those of us who like to shake things up.


and oh my does it glow; it’s magnificent.

someone—david, emily, or erica—is making sure that the yarn is listed in the shop before the patterns go live; i think there may even be a kit. we should be all set with that by morning.

it’s been terribly gray and rainy at the end of the week—chilly, icy, and otherwise unfit for most outdoor activity. we and all our neighbors were shuttered up tight against the weather for the past few days and i couldn’t help but notice how bare bret’s house has been looking. i was getting worried that he wasn’t feeling well again.

until today—today was gloriously sunny and while not warm, at least it’s been enticing me to get out for a run. i couldn’t help but notice as i sate here writing that things are happening across the street.


and later, some progress


for me, the holiday season has officially begun.

and now, it’s time for that run; see you tomorrow!