Archive for the ‘lace/shawls’ Category

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!

summer peas make me feel fine

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

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hello summer! with all of its plenty, the season of warm sun and fresh abundance is here. let’s parade it in with another pattern released from the 2014 BNK club—this time, two light-as-air shawl or scarf designs from the chapter celebrating luxurious cashmere.

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pea trellis is a pretty crescent in three sizes that is knit from the hem up, beginning with a fetching cable and lace pattern that forms natural scallops along its bottom edge.

soft as a cloud in a luxury fingering yarn, it is shown here in cashmere (mini size), but is equally gorgeous in blends containing mink, musk ox (quiviut), yak, bison, mohair, silk, and well, the list goes on.

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petit pois is the rectangular version of the same design, also presented in three sizes from scarf to large stole; the version shown here is a hybrid of the tall stole width and the petite stole length.

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as you can see, this duo makes the perfect mother/daughter or BFF set—not too matchy-matchy, but close enough that they identify you as connected forever. what a beautiful gift for a bride and her mom.

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both pieces are as versatile as they are beautiful—while shown as summer accessories here, do not let their airy weight deceive you into thinking they won’t work hard for you all winter as well—lace can be warmer than solid fabrics in fact—and luxury fibers even more so. part of their luxury is the fact that they are so very functional.

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i think these were quite a favorite with club members last summer and no wonder; the motif is easy to learn and knit, making either project a good traveler for summer vacation, days at the cottage, or quiet afternoon knitting time at home when the kids are away at camp.

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to freshen things up, erica has created a kit for the pea trellis design, subbing in yarn from another BNK chapter—soft, silky chambery mink. the shade is nearly identical and the fabric is slightly different but equally luxurious, with a heavenly halo. a nice change of pace if you’ve already knit up one in the cashmere option and if you haven’t tried a mink yarn yet, you will experience it at its best working with the natural fiber.

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if you’d like the standalone pattern for the pea trellis crescent, please click here to purchase or to view information in our online shop and click here to find the pea trellis pattern in my ravelry pattern shop.

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you can also find the pattern for the petit pois lace stole in our online shop as well as my ravelry pattern shop.

these patterns along with seventeen additional designs for luxury yarns in natural  shades are included in the BNK 2014 eBook—a great value. shop our entire selection of eBooks and club yarns in our online store

you can see various yarn ideas and size options by spending some time browsing our club project pages here for petit pois and here for pea trellis as well!

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it’s the perfect summer project, both to knit and to wear—why not start one now?

the friendly skies

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

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it took several days after TNNA to sort out and process all the many conversations and developments of the weekend. i had just barely begun organizing all that information when i realized it was time to repack my suitcase and get out the door to my next destination.

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i had hoped to be a bit relaxed to start this trip but with a lot of knitting projects to organize, i was as usual, packing my actual clothing at the last minute and late into the night. and for the first time ever, i overslept a little in the morning and was almost late getting to the airport. it was actually a relief to get on the plane and up above the heavy clouds where the sun shone.

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during the flight, i worked some on the little hat project i started last week. this luscious yarn is a sample of a new fiber blend for summer that we are crazy about.

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this little fartlek cap for baby eli will be the perfect test knit. the yarn is soft, soft, soft and since he’s still quite bald, that will be a plus. do you want to guess what the yarn is made of? first person to be 90 percent correct gets a free fartlek pattern (hint: it’s a blend).

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by total accident, during the descent i happened to get a shot at almost the exact same angle as i had during takeoff. can you guess where i am?

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obviously someplace more populated that canton, OH.

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can you guess now? i bet some of you will . . . that’s right, i’m back in brooklyn. two months ago when i was here, i got SO MUCH accomplished that our staff encouraged me to do it again (or maybe they just like it better when i’m not underfoot, haha).

whatever the reason, i had the opportunity, thanks to my sweet, dear friend nancy, to come back on another self-imposed work retreat. i arrived friday to spend some time with nancy before she took off on her travels.

we both worked on friday and on then on saturday, i got up early and knit a bit on my sweater sleeve, while having coffee.

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it’s coming along nicely at a relaxed pace; i’ve been juggling several knitting projects and lots of design work, so i’m not pushing myself too hard on this one yet. i’m sure i’ll pick up speed when i can devote myself to it fully, but in the meantime, i’m adding to it here and there.

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the fabric is such a close replica to my original that it’s almost scary; the only difference really is the shade. i can’t wait to wash the fabric; the surface will be wonderfully softened after a hot bath.

anyway, once i was fully awake and the day had warmed slightly, i went for a run which ended with a trip through the farmers market in grand army plaza. the day was overcast and drizzly, but not rainy enough to stay in. i picked out stuff for salads and a big bag of apples (which are fantastic, wow).

oh, i just realized that i need to back up a bit—i’m forgetting all about why you haven’t seen much knitting from me for a week or so. i had a secret project on the needles that i didn’t want to show you til i got to NYC

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a few weeks ago nancy posted a photo of her recently completed wing o’ the moth shawl, knit in a teal lace yarn for her granddaughter.

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she was working on this project during my last visit and mentioned how much she loved the color and then when it was done, she jokingly said that she didn’t want to give it up.

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well, it is such a pretty shawl and dear to me because it was the first pattern i published on my blog, back in 2006.

so, i decided what the heck? i’ll knit her one as a thank you for having me stay at her place this week. but can you believe that the ONE color of lace yarn i didn’t have is teal??  . . . seriously.

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i wrote my friend jen at spirit trail fiberworks, because i thought her amazing nona lace yarn would be perfectly elegant for this gift knit. and i was right—just look at that soft, rich sheen; it totally makes the piece!

and even though she had JUST gotten back from maryland sheep and wool and had not unpacked her trailer, she found the perfect pair of skeins for me to knit the shawl in the mallard colorway.

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because nona is silky and on the heavier side of lace weight, rather than fingering weight as the pattern calls for, i used needles one size smaller than recommended. that worked out perfectly—the texture is richly embossed though the fabric is light and drapey—the soft lustre of the yarn highlights every line and curve; it’s an exquisite choice for this project!

doesn’t that motif work out so pretty at the point? i love that bit . . .

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but i love nancy’s smile even better.

the shawl still blocked out to its intended generous size. most likely that is because the lighter, silkier fiber stretches more.

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nancy wore it all weekend and took it along to spain as well—what an honor!

those first few days of my stay were a bit overcast and chilly, so it felt fine to stay in most of the time and get some work done. i have some specific projects i’d like to complete—most of them secret ENVY club designs, but also a few new items that i can fill you in on as the week progresses. i have a few people to meet with while i’m here as well.

and because it isn’t good to work the entire weekend, that afternoon we took a walk to the brooklyn museum to see the basquiat show together. the weather slowly, slowly improved and when we came out into the late afternoon, the sun had warmed a little and the sky was blue.

sunday was comparatively balmy, in fact and after my run i immersed myself in some design work for a few hours. after a bit i took a break out on the balcony to investigate an issue with nancy’s pine and ivy shawl, which she is knitting in our cabécou lace yarn (sel gris shade); a gift i brought her on my last trip.

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unfortunately, the problem was systemic, so i had to rip back a bunch. we laughed at how closely the pile of ripped yarn resembles a goat. but it’s spectacular in the light, isn’t it?

the trick to ripping back lace is to not do it right away—wait a period of time (like overnight or longer) and the stitches will take a set; they won’t run away from you in a slithery mess when you rip. better yet, mist them lightly with water and let the fabric dry well; they will hold their shape really well.

the whole operation took about an hour—a few minutes to rip and then a bit of time getting the 400-plus tiny stitches back on the needles, then counting to make sure they were all there, and then making sure each was wasn’t twisted. now she is all set to start the section over.

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later that afternoon we were off to the city—nancy wanted to show me the new whitney museum in the meat packing district, which just opened a few weeks ago.

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situated at the end of the high line, the museum offers staggering city views from outdoor spaces on every one of its six levels. swank hotels and shops are popping up throughout the immediate neighborhood for better or for worse (hopefully mostly for better and it won’t become another shopping mall).

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the views from every floor put up pretty strong competition with the museum’s contents, especially on a stellar day such as this one—so welcome after the dark, chilly days preceding.

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some of the site lines and angles parallel works in the collection so strongly, it makes me think the building was constructed for that purpose alone. and why not? would it really be so farfetched?

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i know a couple of fans who would love such an inspiration for a building.

i adore going to museums and galleries with fellow appreciators; i SO enjoyed this weekend with nancy.

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we couldn’t have asked for a better day—between the balmy weather and incredible paintings, photography, and sculpture you wouldn’t think we could ask for more.

but wait, there IS more!

there’s cathy—and donna (we didn’t manage to get a photo of her, darn it)

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but the feeling is the same—good friends make for great happiness.

alright now, that’s enough of me running on—time to knit. i’ll be back in a few days with an update on what’s percolating here.