Archive for the ‘lace/shawls’ Category

the holidays have landed

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

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preparations for christmas kicked into full gear around here in the middle of last week—once the club packages and chapter went out, david and i got to work on the house to make it seem a little homier for the season. we went hunting for furniture, rearranged some of the rooms back to their normal state, and got a little further along in settling into our new rooms.

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i got a holiday manicure along with my haircut; something a bit different with just a sliver of glitter.

by thursday night we were as ready as we were going to be and david drove to cleveland to pick up a very important package—there wasn’t room in the car for me and the cargo, so i stayed home to knit and wait.

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and ta-daa—i finished up my bay leaf and lime shawlette. it would sit for several days until i had time to block it but i finally got to do that last night.

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i love it—the contrast of the embossed leaves and stripey hem, the incredibly soft and luxurious yarn hollow superior yarn, highlighted by this gorgeous (and exclusive) lime rickey color—yummO. pattern is just about ready to send off for proofreading and once we get photos, the kits will go live. i’m thinking that since the color is named for a drink, a new year’s eve release would be perfect, don’t you think?

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these photos don’t really do it justice, taken as they were under artificial light (seriously, it is dark nearly all day right now, what with the rain, gray, and the solstice to boot). i can’t wait to get really good modeling shots.

anyway . . . back to our precious delivery on thursday night

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our las vegas family has arrived, yay! time for the holidays to begin in earnest. the first order of business on friday morning was to bundle the boys into parkas and unleash them into the snow-filled yard before the rain came to erase all the fun.

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they spent a good couple of hours out there, throwing snow at each other and making a snowman from aha remained on the ground. i’m glad they had that chance; after weeks of bitter cold and several healthy snowfalls, it has grown unseasonably warm just in time for their visit. mister snowman wasn’t around for long, but he brought lots of joy while he lasted for two boys that never get to play in snow. hopefully we’ll have another snowfall during their visit.

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meanwhile, they are having a blast exploring the house with all its nooks and crannies. just having stairs inside is unusual for them, haha. micah is wearing the original whitfield shorty, which is named for him, actually; though he has outgrown his own, he can wear this one which was knit for amad. it’s a little big this year, but it will fit just right next year, i bet (this photo was not at all posed; uncle david’s binoculars are his new obsession).

we’ve been keeping pretty busy since they got here; the boys are discovering the neighborhood a bit, enthralled by the squirrels, the house decorations, the playground, and the library. beckie and i brought nan to our yoga studio on saturday and we’ll go back several times while she’s here.

AND amad asked me to teach hime to knit, so that’s going to be a huge amount of fun.

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in addition to finishing the shawl, i’ve been working away on small projects, like the hat and mitts to coordinate with the baci fundraiser scarf. the other day, i finished the larger cap in studio june springy sport, color here comes trouble. i’m gonna name this set bocce, because the motif reminds me of the patterns on bocce balls (one of my favorite games).

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amad couldn’t resist trying it on—it would be a bit big on him but his hair fills it beautifully. i love how it folds so softly around his head; i wish i had hair like that to hold my hats in place!

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and i’ve started the fingerless mitts to match. i just adore this yarn base—so springy and dense, it has a really great hand. the red cap is a good size for most people, but too big for me (no surprise there), so i used the one skein of midnight teal i kept here to knit another, smaller one.

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i finished it last night; again, the photo does not do justice to the rich, gorgeous color, which appears more true to life in the photos of the cowl i showed last week. i am really sorry about the photos today; it’s just been terribly dark for one thing and for another, the only time i have to take photos and write is in the evening—not great for taking pictures.

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the second cap is soaking as we speak, in fact; i should actually take a break right now to get it out of the bath and let it start drying. in this weather, it’s going to take some time.

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there.

today’s big adventure was to go hunting for the perfect christmas tree. we used to always have a real tree when we lived in NYC, but since moving here we’ve had an artificial tree inherited from my mom. that one bit the dust two years ago and last year we went away so we didn’t have a tree here. since we have friends who live on an old christmas tree farm and a lovely new sitting room in which to enjoy one, we decided to go back to having a real tree.

as i said earlier, it rained almost constantly since the boys arrived, but then midway through this morning, it started clearing up. i went for  along run while everyone else had breakfast and took a walk or slept in.

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by early afternoon, the sun was shyly making its presence felt, as sting winds pushed masses of big gray clouds aside. once it seemed safe to head out on an expedition, we piled into the car and made our way to debby and robin’s place.

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this is the same farm where we did the photo shoot for our december club chapter, only last week, it was really cold and covered in a blanket of fresh snow.

the farm has beautiful alleyways that run between tall pines, as well as several stands planted with row after row of pines.

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of course the boys wanted one of these really big ones, but maybe another year—we had something more modest in mind, about my height to fit in a particular spot. i told them it could be a little taller than me, but not more than that.

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amad found perfect candidate and held aside the lower branches while david cut the trunk.

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nan and i made ourselves useful by taking photos, haha; micah “helped” by running in circles around the tree, getting his feet extra muddy to decorate the car.

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and carrying his own tree.

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robin took the tree back toward the house on his four-wheeler and the kids ran after; we walked back more slowly, enjoying the woods and picking up pine cones for the table.

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once we got the car loaded, we took a few minutes to visit the chickens. robin told the kids to take a couple of eggs and while amad didn’t want to stick his arm in the roost, micah thought nothing of it, haha

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his reward being a pretty blue egg in the fridge which he’ll eat for breakfast.

between a short nights’ sleep and my long morning run, i was kind of beat when we got home, so i went up to snatch forty winks while the guys spent some “man time” getting the tree set up.

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they did a splendid job and when i woke up, they were lined up on the couch admiring their work. we ate dinner in the glow of the lights; i love the smell filing the house!

we’ve been cooking up a storm every day in the new kitchen; hopefully david will be ready soon with a nice post about our new space so you can see it, too.

we’ll be back soon with an update—we’re making our traditional christmas eve feast of seven fishes and i know we’ll want to share it with you.

old spice

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

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how’s the weather where you are? i have to say, it’s been kind of awful here—when it’s not wet or snowing, it’s so bitter cold that no one even wants to step out and retrieve the mail.

i haven’t gone running in a week and i’m starting to feel stir crazy. the stationary bike is a great alternative, but i get bored; i miss tooling about the neighborhood. however, the streets here are narrowed by all the snow and last time i was out, i nearly got hit several times by drivers not watching where they were going. or more laughably, those looking straight at me, completely flummoxed about what they are supposed to do to avoid hitting me. sigh; i guess it’s a good thing right now; we have a lot of organizing to do before the holidays arrive.

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last weekend we headed out eastward on a fiber scouting trip for our 2014 bare naked club. we had to battle weather in both directions, but it was worth it—we visited our mill and a delightful farm which i can’t wait to share with clubbies next year.

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during our trip, we got to stay with and hang out with our dear friend anne marie who we miss so much in wednesday night class. she had just finished her herrington cowl, a new pattern designed by knitterella, using bare naked wools breakfast blend fingering and stone soup fingering yarn. anne marie knit hers so quickly that she even won a prize in the herrington KAL we are having in our BNWs ravelry group.

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when we arrived on friday, the cowl was still damp and i saw that anne marie had devised a brilliant method for blocking it. she suspended it between two oatmeal boxes, which she could roll easily to reposition the cowl periodically. she said she saw a similar idea using paper towel role, but the oatmeal boxes give you a little more suspension and airflow. i love it; i am totally borrowing this idea to use in my blocking classes. (note to self: procure oatmeal boxes).

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the results speak for themselves—perfectly smooth, uncreased fabric that drapes beautifully. anne marie used a mix of stone soup fingering in pumice and brooks farm acero in a blue/brown mix. lovely!

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we had SUCH a nice visit—in addition to visiting the farm and mill together, we had two evenings of knitting. i worked on secret club projects and my bay leaf and lime shawl (above). anne marie worked on her baci cowl with the studio june springy sport i brought along to her for test knitting.

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this is the cowl that is included in the baci scarf fundraiser pattern. if you’ve been waffling about whether to purchase it or not, i hope this most recent addition to our collection of photos will tip the scales for you!

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just look at how stunning it is, falling straight from the neck—wow. the drape on this fabric is excellent and it has nice body and weight built in from the cable and garter texture. do you want a closeup to drool by?

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mmmm-mmm.the color is midnight teal; i’m not sure it’s listed in jill’s shop yet, but you can check for it here or ask jill about it. pattern for purchase in the knitspot pattern shop OR buy it in our ravelry shop.

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and it is so handsome twisted to cozy up around the neck—simply luscious. i feel like my works in progress can’t possibly follow that up; thank you anne marie.

in case you missed it, all proceeds from the december sales of this pattern will be applied to our scholarship fund, benefiting one student who participates in foster care 2 success programs. read more about the fundraiser in this blog post.

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i am currently working on a design for a coordinating hat and fingerless mitts, using a second red shade of studio june springy sport—a color named here comes trouble (i don’t see that in the etsy store at the moment, but i’m sure jill will be happy to take orders).

i love this red—it’s brighter than the red scarf colorway i showed you last week, but is a wonderfully clear and strong color.

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it’s a bit hard to photograph, especially on such a gray day, but this second photo is a good representation. there are subtle variations that i’m hoping to capture more accurately when i can photograph it in better light. this will be a slouchy stocking hat with a rounded shape. the brim has the same dense cable-and-garter motif as the hem of the scarf, but the top is a looser variation of the scarf body pattern to make it slump properly, with a rounded ‘plop’. so far, i’m in love.

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we drove home sunday in more snow and bad weather, but managed to get here in one piece to begin a busy week. there was a lot of organizing and pre-holiday preparation awaiting us there.

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in fact, we got home just in time for me to make it to the christmas celebration of my monday knitting class (held on sunday for that week). i promise it was WAY more fun than these knitters make it look, haha. for one thing, we had great food as you can see.

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and then there were the presents—wow.

i worked on my bay leaf and lime shawl—you can see from the photo that i started out the afternoon with barely a couple of inches on the needles, but by the time i left it was looking much more substantial, thanks to a quick-knitting stitch pattern and delicious yarn that i can’t put down.

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i’m knitting with yarn hollow superior, a BFL wool, cashmere, and silk blend in an exclusive color called lime rickey, which will be featured in our holiday surprise kit, to be available very soon.

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i’ve been working on this shawl throughout the week and am really close to the finish, having segued into the openwork lace pattern for the shawl body, now.

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since the rows just get shorter and shorter from now on, i should be finishing up tonight or tomorrow, depending on how soon i get away from this computer, today. i need to put the final touches on the pattern so i can submit it for proofreading; i hope to have everything ready to release by mid week, but we’ll see . . .

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wow, this yarn has beautiful luster and bloom—it seems as if, in this colorway, it’s even more lush and gorgeous. the yarn/color interaction here is magic. i’m really smitten with lime green for christmas this year.

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so much so that i unintentionally painted my nails in a perfect match this week—no kidding, i just thought it would be a great holiday color when i applied it on friday, but when i sat down to knit that night, i had to chuckle. hey, at least i mean it when i say i love it. BTW, this is color dosh, from butter london (love this brand).

in addition to all the holiday knitting and design work, we’ve been preparing an awesome december chapter segment for our 2013 fall in full color club eBook, to go with the custom yarn we had spun for this month’s shipment. i couldn’t be more excited for the release, which will be monday at midnight. we have a fun monthly installment planned—be there or be square.

this fall, the collection already contains eleven patterns and we still have two months to go. if you missed out on buying a yarn membership, you can still join any time as an eBook member. it’s a great buy and a wonderful gift for that accessory hound in your life, one holds discovery the whole year through with projects ranging from easy-peasy to complex and thoughtful.

with our las vegas family arriving in just five days time, david and i are scurrying about, trying to get the house ready, in between work tasks. he is putting the final touches on trims, hanging closet doors, and figuring out solutions for trouble spots (we still haven’t figured out where the kitchen trash will go exactly . . .

we are finally at the point where we can go out and get furniture for our new living area and we’re anxious to create our sanctuary in which to share meals and relax. david and i spent most of yesterday hunting for furniture—which meant driving around in a slippery snowstorm because it it was the only time we could get away, haha. we did  target several great pieces that will work; we just have to figure out where each one can fit before we finalize the purchases. we’re shopping vintage, which makes it tricky—we love 60s and 70s style furniture. i’ve fallen in love with broyhill brasilia . . .

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back home, i’ve been trying to spend an hour or two each day organizing something. one of david’s requests for the new kitchen was to put all the spices in matching, labelled bottles. what, there’s something wrong with my old system of just knowing which spice is which from the bottle it resides in—most of which have been around since the year one??

okay, i had to concede it was not a very friendly cooking environment for the uninitiated. david put a lot of effort into locating the right jars—ones with square bases that could be packed into the new spice cupboard as efficiently as possible.

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however, moving everything over to new system had to be the single most tedious task i’ve tackled in recent memory—it took hours. which wasn’t all bad because in cases where i questioned whether i should keep some odd, old-ish thing i rarely used—you guessed it; as the hours passed those went with ever-quicker speed into the circular file.

for the most part, this all worked pretty well, but we have some jars that hold larger quantities and for those we have to get bigger square bottles (which won’t match after all, right??)

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the other issue will be that i won’t be able to recognize anything at a glance now, since they don’t reside in their identifying containers any more, haha. but i’m a quick study; i’ll figure out a system (i’ve already got them grouped according to baking spices or cooking ones)

ok, that’s enough lolly-gagging around the blog; i’ve got a pattern to write and more chores waiting as well (i finally have a coat closet, YAY. but it needs to be organized, boo). and i kinda sorta hoped i could maybe get into that kitchen to actually cook today; boy oh boy, some hot homemade soup would be nice!

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coming next week, a guest post from our 2013 scholarship recipient, brandy, featuring her photo essay and semester notes. also, we have several more designs to release in our holiday pattern parade; look for one or two more this week.

good thing we have knitting

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

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ugh, it’s one of those all-too-frequent dreary december days, when it feels like evening from first light through dusk (i can’t even say sundown because there is no sun, period).

if it wasn’t a beehive of activity around here, it would be rather glum indeed; i’d be wishing it was LAST thursday once again, when we had a fresh snowfall turning our world into a winter wonderland.

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with spectacular atmosphere as a backdrop for a warm and wonderful holiday.

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i was texting photos all day to our family in las vegas, who will be visiting for christmas and for whom “lots of snow” is written in the top spot on their wish list. sadly, it’s all gone now, but hopefully we’ll get more before they arrive.

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thanksgiving was wonderful here; besides the pretty snow, we also had a day off; rare for us! david slept in while i went to join in the—very, VERY chilly—perry township turkey trot.

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just 18 degrees at the starting line and snowy, but i have to say, it didn’t feel that cold. excitement and spirits were high and it was a fun race. last year’s race was my very first running competition and i was pleasantly surprised at how noticeably improved i was. yay. races are a lot more scarce this time of year around here, but i’m definitely signed up to run on new year’s day again; that was really fun last year.

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after the race, i had nothing much planned except to get a really hot shower, work on knitting projects, and do some organizing around the house. i wanted to spend some time going through my drawers to weed out clothes i don’t wear; they were too full of unused items (i have to do my closet too, but it’ll have to wait til another day).

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that accomplished, i wound up some yarn to settle in with an audiobook to start a few christmas knitting projects. some of them are secret, but there are a few i can share that i’m excited to show you.

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first—and most importantly—the patterns for the red scarf red scarf projects are written and test knits are on the needles, yay! barb, never one to turn down a chance to knit with red, offered to knit up the scarf and after just a few days, she’s done already! she was over last night for class and was working on the final hem pattern. jeesh.

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barb’s been working with the other red that jill sent us, called red scarf a new color which is more of a rich, brick red (soon to be available; just stalk jill’s etsy shop for an update or choose one of her other delectable reds). the pattern is all set to go; we just need to get some photos. we plan to do those early next week, as soon as we have them edited, we can release it and kick off our red scarf december fundraiser!

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meanwhile, i am writing up patterns like mad and working on the smaller components with this bright red springy sport from studio june yarn, aptly named here comes trouble. i’ve cast on for a cowl to coordinate with the scarf and will most likely knit a headband or slouchy hat to coordinate.

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jill sent along an alternate color so we could show these accessories in something less seasonally specific. this is midnight teal and it’s the most beautiful evening blue. our friend anne marie will knit a cowl and fingerless mitts or hat.

and barb was looking around last night for something else to knit, so she took home a skein of our kent DK to make a second scarf sample for our trunk show; we thought the cabled fabric would look great in a natural shade.

i only did a little computer work on thanksgiving. my main goal was to spend time on the house because—YES!—we had full use of our kitchen and cooked our first meal in it to celebrate the holiday. it was very simple—salmon and vegetables—but delicious. i didn’t take pictures, but we enjoyed every morsel, cozy in our warm kitchen and dining room, haha.

after dinner we started unpacking boxes and spent several hours organizing cabinets. it’s going to take a few more sessions to be finished but mister knitspot has agreed to write up a post about the renovation and reveal.

i may have mentioned in the last few weeks that we have a couple or three christmas surprise kits that we’ll be making available. i’ve been swatching and planning for a while to get these designs written up and underway.

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this is NOT THE COLOR of the christmas surprise; just some leftover briar rose stella from our october club package that i’ve swatched with. the actual color is a real jewel, soon to be revealed. karolyn is actually doing the test knit of this design so you’ll have to bug her for details—if you can get her to talk, that is . . .

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at the same time, i’m working on the other surprise we’re cooking up—in this luscious, luxury blend of BFL, cashmere, and silk from yarn hollow, called superior. we had a batch dyed in an exclusive colorway called lime rickey  which is nothing short of astonishing. seriously, everyone who sees it just stops for a beat before saying “i WANT that; put me on the wait list”. i’ve cast on for a little shawl-y accessory piece that i just love. it’s bold and modern and victorian in the very best way.

do you want to see the swatch?? nah . . .

oh, ok, here you go:

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see what i mean; the luster is drop-dead gorgeous, right? i love these stitch pattens together; they really show off the yarn’s best assets.

we’ll offer kits (in very limited numbers) and KALs for both these items in the coming weeks; keep your eyes peeled . . .

okay, one last item and then i must stop for today—this will make you chuckle. i got a letter from the bank the other day about a change in services and the banker who signed it?

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uh, yeah, doesn’t exactly boost my confidence, you know? haha, nicole and i wondered if he ever tried making it as an accountant . . .

and with that, i’m all done now.
david and i are heading out on a secret fiber mission tomorrow morning and we won’t be back at our desks til monday (everyone else is here to man the fort though). i’m going to post the next offering in our pre holiday pattern parade late tonight and i believe erica has a post for sunday.

you have a great weekend; see you next week!

 

as the snow flies

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

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we’re at the start of our first snow storm of the year—it’s supposed to be a big one. that said, we’ve been fooled many times in the last few years by dire predictions of blizzard-sized snowfalls and then . . . nothing.

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THAT said, the snow did start falling several hours earlier than expected and has so far, not let up.

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it’s accumulating, alright.
(can you believe how dim the light is here at this time of year?  these photos were taken at 10 am. yep, it’s like this from november 15th to about january 15th—perpetually dusk. it makes me want to knit and listen to ibsen.)

it snowed most of the day on sunday as well, though due to the high winds, not much accumulated. temperatures stayed in the teens all day, with a wind chill in the single digits.

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it was a good day to stay inside and do fibery stuff, which is exactly what i did.
(this weather really puts a dent in my running routine; maybe it’s time to reconsider that gym membership i keep putting off?)

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last week, we received an absolutely gorgeous sample of a new design, test knit by dear friend jessica in the new bakery rye shade of our breakfast blend fingering yarn. she unexpectedly ran out of yarn a little before i had hoped she would and the wrap turned out a bit wider and shorter that estimated.

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i just love how these yarns have both a soft, luxurious drape AND great stitch definition with body. plus there is a bit of lustre that highlights any texture to beautiful effect. sigh, it’s a great balance.

anyway before adjusting the pattern, i wanted to see if reblocking it would produce the desired results.

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well, almost—the length is still a bit shy of what i intended and the width a bit too much in proportion (no worries, there is a tall size too!). if i took one repeat off the width, that would leave plenty of yarn to knit three more repeats on the length and then no one would be struggling to stretch it. it could even be left a little more relaxed to accentuate the depth in the texture.

i think we are all set now to release this design; we just need a few more photos to show it off really well. the pattern includes instructions for two wraps and three blanket sizes, all in TWO yarn weights, fingering or DK/light worsted. and it knits up really fast—another fun cover up project for the long wintery evenings we seem to be in for this year.

when i went to texas in october, i knit up a quick cowl of the same fabric design, using our confection worsted. i’ve created a scarf/cowl pattern for that design too, which also knits up in two yarn weights and several sizes, including a scarf option.

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sarah’s mom, our friend anne c, knit a two-tone sample in the largest size from two shades (marble/slate) of our stone soup fingering yarn

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which sarah has been wearing pretty much constantly (even when we’re not doing photo shoots, haha).

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anne also knit her a bloch ness sweater—totally not fair, right? (so—what do you think; could i pass as sarah, move into her room, and become part of that family??)

probably not, huh? her dad might notice something is off there . . .

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i washed my swatches for the red scarf project that i was showing you the other day. i thought it was interesting that so many people made comments about preferring one stitch pattern over the others—i actually plan to use all of them in the coordinating projects i have planned, so everyone gets their wish.

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it’s always a good idea to wash your swatches so you can get a good idea of what the fabric will be like in its final state. this fabric, for instance is very cushy, lofty, and springy before washing—so much so that it’s curling up tightly and doesn’t want to lie flat. the fabric feels pretty dense.

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it’s a lot different after soaking—still lofty and soft with good stitch definition, but the fabric feels thinner because it has relaxed out; i am definitely sticking to the smaller needles i swatched with rather than the larger ones for my actual projects.

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what i was thinking is that the stitch pattern on the bottom right would be great for hems and brims and such, since it is most densely patterned and lies flat really well. the medium-density pattern (upper right) would be used for the scarf body—it has just enough garter stitch to also lay flat, but the texture is lightened up a bit which reduces any stiffness and lends a nice hand to the fabric.

the most open fabric (left; my personal favorite) will be used for the body of the slouchy hat because it has such terrific drape; the garter ridges and cables will give it enough body and weight to plop over in just the right slump. also, it reminds me of the patterning on bocce balls, which i always found charming. the brim will be worked in the firmer, more textured fabric so it holds its shape the way a good brim should.

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and wouldn’t you know, while the swatches were drying yesterday, the yarn arrived from studio june—SO exciting! how about THEM reds, huh?? i just love the names . . . want a closer look?

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YUM.
(alright now, mind that drooling on the keyboard)

jill really outdid herself with these. she also sent a lovely blue option for the test knitter which, in my immense excitement, i totally forgot to photograph. but you’re going to love it, trust me. i’ll show you that next time.

i am SO psyched that the yarn got here before thanksgiving and that i’ll be able to kick this project off this weekend.

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we’re going to have a quiet thanksgiving at home this year because, TA-DA! we are finally able to get into our very own kitchen (just in time; it was getting really cold out on that porch, haha). there are still a few odds and ends tasks to be finished up, but at least now we can do some simple cooking.

we may wind up spending the day organizing cabinets and unpacking dishes that we haven’t seen in eleven years, but that actually sounds like fun to me (i WAS originally planning to organize my bedroom closet and drawers for the holiday, haha, but i might have to put that on the back burner now; no pun intended). and somebody has to do it before the december holidays and ensuing company are upon us.

the big reveal deserves its own post though, which i’d love to cajole mister knitspot into writing. i think it’s only appropriate, don’t you?

other than that, we are preparing for our black friday and cyber monday promotions—details are in the newsletter that erica sent out today (along with all kinds of other good news). if you haven’t received it or you’re not on the list yet, you can read it here—it’s chock full of goodies and worth a click.

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if i do get some knitting time in the next few days (which is likely, considering how the snow is falling now), i’ll probably be working on this—something new and tasty! for now, we’re calling it “christmas surprise”; the flavor is lime rickey. i’ll leave the rest to your imagination . . .

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i don’t know if we can exactly call these progress shots, but it certainly looks like there is no turning this storm back.  i may have to stay home from yoga class tonight . . .

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