Archive for the ‘lace/shawls’ Category

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!

eight days a week

Saturday, October 25th, 2014


oh my, what a week! and one full of smiles, i might add. it was so, SO good to reunite with wonderful friends during our week abroad at the big wool show.

i had totally planned to blog before this, but one disadvantage of being constantly on the go is that anything i might plan has potential to be sabotaged. for instance, while i did have wi-fi at the hotel, i couldn’t connect to the internet from sunday through wednesday. we finally figured that issue out just in time for me to move on to my next destination, haha.

ETA: and see? just when i was getting into the meat of THIS post, we lost internet at my mom’s, thus delaying it once again. sorry!

shall we back up a bit and start from the beginning? i promise there is some fun knitting to be seen all the way back there . . . in fact you might remember me mentioning a couple of secret projects i had going, yes?

well one or two of course were the october projects for our bare naked wools club and you can click here to peek at those (spoiler alert). in the two weeks before i left for rhinebeck i put the finishing touches on those and also worked on my secret rhinebeck swap project


which would be revealed at our annual knitspot meetup picnic on saturday at the fair. this was my very first swap—talk about pressure! i didn’t know much about my giftee until a few weeks before the date, so i procrastinated a bit in getting started, waffling about what to make.



when i finally realized who exactly she was, my plan took shape. originally, i wanted to make this shawl with shades of stone soup fingering yarn, but when i realized i knew more about my person’s taste, i decided to do some of the stripes in purple.

ETA: what a dope! i forgot to say that the pattern i chose is bayleaf and lime in size petite.


i pulled a skein of woolen rabbit pearl sock yarn from my work stash (i think it’s colorway lady slipper, but the tag is back home, so i’m not positive). since it’s a tight twist sock yarn, it has a nice round profile with lots of polish; a nice complement to the flannel soft, tweedy surface that stone soup fabric has. i used about three ounces of stone soup fingering yarn in granite, and about two ounces in slate in slate, plus about two ounces of the purple sock yarn and i knit on size 6US (4.0 mm) and 5US (3.75 mm) needles.


after our grand opening even was concluded, i got down to business and completed a serious amount of knitting during the drive to and from yarn in the barn. this shawl knits up very quickly and because of that, it’s quite a fun project. even though i was concurrently designing and knitting half a dozen color work cowls and two of the october club projects (plus creating the book chapter to go with them), i managed to get my shawl completed and blocked over the weekend before we left for new york. i remembered to snap a photo of the finished UNblocked shawl (above)


so you could see what a difference it makes. i know you already know this, but the transformation still makes me go “wow” every time i stretch and block lace.

because i used bigger needles and a bit more yarn than the original pattern calls for, the finished size was also bigger—about 21 by 58 inches


i’m pretty good at predicting what will work, but i really wasn’t sure i was going to love—or even like—this piece until i saw it all stretched out. maybe it’s because i’ve been working more with neutral combinations (though certainly not exclusively) but i kept wondering if the purple was too much of a contrast.


once it was stretched however, the color impact was considerably balanced when the gray tonal variations and rich brocade textures were brought out in the fabric (i always loved the combined textures in this shawl!).


isn’t she lovely?

i wrapped it up with some additional goodies and crossed my fingers that the recipient would love it  as much as i did. then i proceeded to plan my next project around this idea—i was really taken with the look and how much fun it was to create.


the next one will be knit in that raspberry/chocolate combination of yarns i showed you in my last post. i packed everything i needed to get started, but well, so far i haven’t begun. i had to process my idea a little more; i was overwhelmed at first with possible motifs to go with. i’m just about there and have decided at least what the hem will be so i will most likely start that when i arrive home.


so last thursday, with everything that could fit packed into the truck (thank you david!), sarah, barb, and i bundled ourselves into our vehicles to head eastward.


in twenty minutes we were at starbucks, a necessary pitstop.  after that though, it was all business—we wanted to get there as quickly as possible.

i am very lucky and grateful that sarah drove the whole way, while i knit on a color work cowl sample for my classes the next week. i know that sound incredibly irresponsible to have left it to the last minute, but i have a good excuse!


this is knit in our new confection sport yarn and we actually hadn’t received all the shades i needed until just before we left (in fact, one shade that i wanted to use never came til after we left, so i altered my design to suit). sigh—never a dull moment, i tell ya.

anyway, thanks to sarah taking the wheel for the day, i was able to get really far along on this project, having been all the way down in the bottom ribbing at the start of our trip.


after dropping the truck off with erica in kingston, we piled into barb’s car and headed for our little cottage on the other side of the river.

after settling in and grabbing a quick bite at a cute cafe in red hook, the three of us settled in for an evening of knitting and chatting. sarah was working through a strömming cap knit in bulky yarn (she just knit the smallest size, using fat yarn and 6 mm needles). it took all of a few hours and turned out so cute, but i never got a photo. maybe she’ll post it to her ravelry project page?

the next day was a big one, so we turned in early to get our beauty rest. we started with a visit to the fairgrounds to drop off various items with vendors, from samples to printed patterns.

we had a nice visit with jen and her team at spirit trail as well as the briar rose family (hugs all around!). i’m not saying if by chance we happened to get a preview of the wares that would be available to everyone on saturday—we might have . . .

then it was on to the CIA for our annual lunch date with friends nathalie and mary, to catch up on all the news with them and talk knitting (they are bot incredible knitters). anne marie was joining us for the reminder of the weekend as well, starting with this meet up at CIA.


our dear kimkimkim couldn’t make it rhinebeck this year (WA-AH!), but i channeled her in by ordering multiple desserts. unfortunately i could’ eat either of these (clearly, i’m no match for her skills at dessert or shopping, but i try). i did eat them later in the weekend over several sittings.

we had a lovely and delicious lunch (butternut squash soup = A++++).  the weather was absolutely sparkling for once—it usually rains buckets the day before the wool show. and this was our last bit of relaxation for a while—the rest of the afternoon and evening was jam-packed with activities.

first thing after lunch, barb and sarah had to get back to kingston to join erica O. in setting up our display for the indie untangled event. anne marie and i headed back to the house to drop her things and then snuck in a quiet coffee and a bit of chocolate (see? i can eat dessert! i just have to make it it’s own meal)

back to kingstone to drop anne marie off; i actually had attend the romney growers association meeting for the evening. which was very interesting—i got to met several of the producers who provide romney wool for our kent yarn line.


it was terribly dark so i couldn’t get a great photo, but you might remember devlin here, because i mentioned him in the post i wrote about the creation of our kent yarn. well, he won the romney growers scholarship this year—yay devlin.

by the time this event ended at 9:30 or so, the event across the river was also finished. i checked in with my pals and we decided to meet up back at the cottage for wine, snacks, and knitting. and of course swapping stories and relaxing if possible.


this turned into a late night session of hilarity as we roasted kimkimkim in the ravelry threads for a couple of hours (serves her right for abandoning us). seriously, i’ve never seen anne marie laugh so much or so hard.

ok, this has got to be continued later—i need to go out with my mom; we’re seeing a movie today

back in a few hours with more