Archive for the ‘lace/shawls’ Category

that is one big truck

Thursday, November 12th, 2015


spent the week so far writing and correcting patterns, working on my skirt, and madly swatching for the red scarf project (so glad everyone is excited to get on board!).we are working on a followup version of our celebrated festivus yarn, this time working with our confection sport and possibly confection worsted, too.


to get started, i’ve been swatching my designated red scarf motif in shades of confection sport. i started on size 7US (4.5 mm) needles, using four shades and changing every four rows. i love the effect, but with all those yarn ends, i think this pattern is better suited to a circular construction, so i’m earmarking it for the hat and cowl set. Also, while well suited for a hat, the fabric is stiffer than i would like for a scarf so i need to move up to a bigger needle.


test driving it on size 8US (5.0 mm) produced a light, soft, drapey fabric that still holds its shape (rebounds nicely when stretched) and has excellent stitch definition. it’s got depth all day and feels super cushy to squeeze in my hands. in this larger swatch, i changed shades every half repeat and used all five shades.

still, for a scarf or wrap, it could be lighter and drapier—in my opinion. i got to wondering just how far i could push the needle size; at what point would the fabric ever be too loose?


i got out my size 9US (5.5 mm), which is really stretching it to create a fairly solid fabric from most sport weight yarns, but we find that our BNWs have an almost unending level of loft; give them enough room and they will grow into it, while maintaining a cohesive fabric with integrity. the swatch (above) looked good; lighter and airier than on the smaller needles, perhaps with a bit less recovery. but enough to keep its shape in a scarf or wrap.


into a hot, soapy bath it went to remove spinning oil, dust, and to bring the yarn back to its original twist.


by this morning it was dry and looked great—still showing good stitch definition, even stitches, and nice body. the overall fabric is a little more translucent, allowing light to filter through and fill up the fabric til it glowed.

so here’s what i’m thinking—because i have so many ideas already for what could be done with this stitch pattern and combining shades. what do you think of knitting the scarf and wrap sideways, with the long edge as the cast on and bind off? then the shades could be worked across; i think that would be fun and different; also very easy to turn into a cowl, yes?


THEN, we would have two spinoff patterns—one for a hat and cowl in this pattern on smaller needles. it will be much easier to deal with the color changes when working in the round. and what a cute ski cap and gaiter that would be!

the other spinoff would be a blanket/wrap/scarf pattern (ala wheaten or sky ladder) for the confection worsted yarn, to knit in horizontal stripes from bottom to top.

want a little peek at a VERY rough draft of what this might look like in color?


it’s very crude; just something i whipped up in photoshop. we’re not even sure if we are going with five shades or four. we will definitely make the solid red options available as well, along with choices for natural shades and solids.

the yarn will be named festivus 2.0 and i think i’ll name the color gradients for santa’s reindeer, with rudolph being the brightest, naturally.

i also have to think of a names for the three projects; i’d like to stick to ski themes (as opposed to holiday-specific ones or color references); i think the stitch pattern looks like ski slopes and carving in the snow. if you have suggestions, please add in comments (short, punch names are best; non-english words are welcome!).


all sorts of excitement back at the ranch this morning when a HUGE truck made its way up 15th street and stopped at the end of my block, clearly unable to make the turn. seriously, it was the biggest truck i ever saw.


it was the yarn truck.
i knew we were expecting a long-awaited delivery but i didn’t know it would arrive with such fanfare, haha. i had to run out and show the driver where the shop was located in the back alley.


our LONG awaited shipment of stone soup yarns has arrived!


we are beside ourselves with happiness; all summer long people were asking us about this yarn and why we didn’t have it at the shows (not our choice, believe me!).

along with a few boxes that also came last week, we are now restocked in all shades and skein sizes, at least for a little while (this yarn is popular!). it will take a few days to get it all unpacked, counted, weighed, labelled, and logged into the store, but if you’ve been waiting, it won’t be long now.

and i have it on good authority that next week we should be getting a big shipment of chebris worsted so that vendange sweater knitting may commence.


last night was knit night in our shop. susan worked on her oatmeal stout cowl in a variety of yarn, amanda worked on her monkey bread hat in a super soft mink/cashmere blend, donna knit on a roger that blanket in briar rose abundance that she is knitting for her husband,  and barb worked on her cam cable pullover in better breakfast DK, color poppy seed.


you might remember that i knit one of these in kent DK (color kelp) back in the winter (wow, feels like yesterday to me).


the pattern and photography have been completed for some time, but once it got warm in the summer, we decided to hold off on the release til it got cold again. we will include this garment in the january ensemble collection i was telling you about last week.


i worked on my skirt, both at the shop and then after dinner once i was back in the house. i added a few inches just in one evening.


i put a few more rnds on this morning with my coffee. i think it’s looking really nice; before the next blog i’ll take it off the needles once more to check the shaping; i’ll be sure to take photos when i do, hopefully with it on myself.


this yarn—kent DK, color driftwood—is so rich and has such incredible depth; it’s kind of hard to photo graph sometimes because, being a lustre fiber, it reflects light from it’s polished exterior. look at that upper left corner; it’s almost metallic.


so rich, sigh . . . whenever i’m away from it all i can think about is the next time we’ll be together . . .

oops, time for me to wrap things up here; i have an appointment in an hour and i’ve done nothing with my hair today. tata!

there was knitting too

Thursday, October 29th, 2015


i’m trusting each and every one of you not to tell david you saw this photo (what is said or done in the rhinebeck van stays in the rhinebeck van).

anyway, it didn’t last long; i was just posing briefly with kim’s knitting for a goofy vacation shot—i had my eyes glued to the road the whole time.


that said, i left home with the intention of doing lots of knitting on that trip—i had to try to catch up. since it was unlikely i’d open my computer to do paperwork, i could at least use in-between moments to knit. i brought along only three projects—all bigger ones. two from the active rotation plus a backup project (you never know) that’s been on hold for a bit.


my go-to project for the trip is another long sweater i’ve been knitting in chebris worsted (this time in the dragée shade). it was just the right mix of mindless stockinette with some shaping and a BIG killer cable. perfect for chugging away on while talking, laughing, and waiting.


this one has raglan shaping and is knit all in one piece. with knitting complete and with no finishing work to speak of (even the button bands are incorporated), i’ve actually been feeling sort of dumped by my knitting in the aftermath; it’s through with me. just a few yarn ends to weave in and a couple of sleeve seams—that’s it. no cake? no farewell party?

i can’t whine for long about it tho—not when it’s so yummy.


mmm, huge cable action with a modern feel.


delicious garter stitch accents everywhere, including that big cuddly collar. i love how the cabled raglan lines become a big feature at the top of the coat.


when i was texting photos to anne marie, she asked to see how the cables came together at the top. as they converged, i just continued to decrease at the center, chipping away at the inside edges of each while maintaining the twist on the outside half. in the previous photo, you can see that it’s not an aspect that’s very visible when it’s on the body; most of the time, the collar will overlap it.


this sweater coat/jacket is part of a collection that we’ll be publishing in january; myself and a few other designers together, all in BNWs. i’ve got to wash it yet and after getting final measurements, write up the pattern and get it out to the tech editor, posthaste. i’m running behind on my own project, haha.


since helena joined us for knit night tonight, i asked her to throw it on for a few spontaneous shots—she looks adorable in it, no?

oh, totally random but before i forget, the winner of romi’s book, new lace knitting, is sue C! she has been emailed and we will get her book in the post on friday.


speaking of knit night, barb was also in the house, wearing the red pedal pusher jacket she finished knitting at rhinebeck. she used briar rose charity; looks like color 161.


she looks amazing in it; that red kept catching my eye all evening.


helena came by to knit with us tonight which was lots of fun—she’s working on her first project involving short rows—the intertidal mittens in feederbrook farms entropy that we shipped as part of our purple club last year. the mitten has a shell-shaped cuff worked in short rows. she’s picking up the new technique very well; i think she’ll be back next week with a beautifully executed cuff.


i have several secret projects on the needles which obviously i can’t show to you or at knit night so i brought along my other biggish project to work on—which is a wool A-line skirt. i showed this one briefly on the blog the other day, but since them, i ripped the whole thing out and started again when i realized that it was way too big for me; apparently i don’t have a back end the size of a volkswagon, despite what my inner MIL tells me!

anyway . . . all fixed now; i believe i am on the right track to achieve the gracefully shaped skirt i had in mind. i’m working with kent DK—SOooo light and squishy; i think this is going to drape in the most lovely way.


i knit an encased elastic waist by starting with a provisional cast on, then folding it back to knit that edge in later.


i left a little opening through which to thread the elastic, which i will sew up later using the yarn tail at the start of the work. i love to look close at the yarn color—driftwood—it has threads of both gray and brown fiber, giving it lots of great depth. the polish on that gorgeous romney serves to highlight the textured pattern so well. more on this one as it progresses.

speaking of texture, i came across this funny drawing the other day, something my mom had kept for me and wanted me to take home. i drew it for my dad when i was probably eight years old or so.


clearly there was just one thing about hunting that fascinated me—the plaid clothes, natch.

wild open spaces

Monday, October 26th, 2015


my friend rosemary hill—you have met her several times before on the blog—has written a new and very beautiful book about lace—new lace knitting; designs for wide open spaces. in the process of reading the publisher’s materials, i came across a comment by a reader stating that the book included “designs for  wild, open spaces”.

while this isn’t exactly the message in the subtitle, i had to kind of smile to myself, thinking of the many talks rosemary and i have had about lace. lace knitting technique, and design ideas; shop talk if you will. i’m sure we have covered the wild open spaces of lace at least once or twice.


in fact, much as it would fool you into focusing on the solid shapes, lace is nothing if not all about the open spaces. i love the idea that lace has the potential to be wild, and that someone else besides me appreciates the part of lace that isn’t there. in other words, there’s no there there, but in fact, it’s ALL there. i will leave off now so we can chew on that a bit, because i’m sure her publisher would rather i talked about the book.


(in my mind, i keep seeing this lovely top knit in our chebris lace yarn in deep silver charbon; soft with a slight fuzzy halo, it would be a knockout as a holiday evening blouse, to contrast with that bit of skin showing through).


rosemary—AKA romi—is well known for her shawl designs and the series of “7 shawls” compilations she has published as eBooks. she has also published several collections of accessories, gift knits, and jewelry. but we don’t get to see her garment designs as often and this book brings them to light.


full of beautifully conceived garments with unusual and very flattering shapes, the book gives rosemary an opportunity to translate her aesthetic into the third dimension. we are treated to a host of feminine, wearable designs for work, relaxation, and after hours.


the ravelry photos of this garment were styled differently and it is stunning as a standalone piece—romantic, summery, and cool. we are working on a sample of the tunic length version (to be released at a future date, i think) in hempshaugh lace, mmm.


even this very casual sweater is rich with openwork texture, though it has the feel of  a warmer fall knit—i love that! a sweater like this is terrific for travel (maybe in ginny DK?) because it crosses over into several climates with ease and its neutral color goes with everything.


of course, the book is not without shawls and accessories, some of which echo the motifs from the sweater designs, like this virginia city cloche and cowl. i am always impressed with the variety of shapes that rosemary comes up with for hats.


this crescent shawl, a take on the old shetland feather and fan favorite, appears to have a hem worked in layers, giving it a bit more weight and substance as an alternative to a scarf.

another thing i love about this book are the short written pieces that rosemary included to talk about her design aesthetic, what attracts her to pattern and lacework (eerily similar to my own), and the evolution of this collection.

i said it earlier this year and i’ll say it again; rosemary’s work lately is just spectacular—it literally makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck sometimes. between her experiments with scale in the surface design and her work in alternative overall shapes, she is just blowing my mind with one thing after another.


but don’t let a design like this intimidate you; the book is chock full of tips and notes from romi to guide through each design concept. each chapter focuses on a different type of lace motif and graduates from its application in a smaller, more manageable project to one that is larger and more complex. there is definitely plenty of learning support in its pages. which is why you should consider getting a copy!


to purchase your copy today, please click here.

OR you can enter to win the extra copy generously provided by interweave knits, publisher of this book. to enter, leave a comment telling us which of the designs in the book you would knit and which bare naked wools yarn you would use. it doesn’t have to be a design on this page; you can pick any of the 19 designs from the book. leave your project plan as a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EDT on wednesday, 10/28—we will draw a winner and announce it soon after.


fun always starts with chocolate

Friday, October 23rd, 2015


it’s as good a place to start as any, isn’t it?

last time i posted, it was to release my vendange coat design (wow—you all sure like that one!) and so much has come to pass since then. let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

as you know, i planned to wear my new chebris coat as my rhinebeck sweater but i wanted to show off the yarn at its very best and for that, it needed a good bath.


so once i’d confirmed that we had a good number of usable photos, i filled the sink and settled it in to soak. normally , was all sweaters in mesh bags in the hand wash cycle of our machine, but being very last minute with this one, i didn’t want to chance anything. hand washing it was. well, it really needed that bath; i actually washed it twice and rinsed it several times until the water ran clear and the fiber sparkled in the light. totally worth the effort (and i will be experimenting with machine washing in the future for several reasons).


because i did not spin out the piece in the machine, the fabric was a little soggier than i’m used to and took extra time to dry in our damp, rainy weather last week. to keep it looking its best i turned it several times, shaking and fluffing the fabric to aerate it; this improved the loft, encouraged the yarn to bloom, and help speed the drying. still, it was slightly damp when i packed it for my trip.

meanwhile, i had to get ready for the arrival of kimkimkim on wednesday; she would be flying in and laying over before continuing to rhinebeck with our knitspot caravan. david had decided to save his birthday celebration for her visit so i had a lot to do on tuesday and wednesday, with requests for a thai dinner and a chocolate fudge cake.


i woke up early on wednesday to get started on the million things i had to do to be ready for the trip. by 11 am my cakes were in the oven and rising nicely—i live in fear of cake not rising, let me tell you. i was especially nervous about this gluten free recipe because it was the first time i’d used it (in fact, i had not attempted any cake yet with gluten free flour), but everything went swimmingly (ok maybe it rose a little too fast for some reason, but that was a minor blip).


when they came out they remained a nice, even height and were springy; beautiful.


next it was time for frosting and i made our favorite from nigella lawson (her fudge cake is our wheat flour favorite). it turned out perfectly glossy and smooth, just the right consistency for making luscious fudge frosting swirls.


when i baked as a kid, my favorite part was frosting the cake; i used to pretend i was filming a betty crocker commercial when i did it, haha. i must have done ok because my mom eventually put me in charge of swirling the frosting on every cake.


while the cakes were cooling, i made a trip to the garden to pick the vegetables for supper—the garden was on its last legs for most items, but i still managed a nice haul (and there were a few pounds of green beans too!).

david took over when it was time for me to go pick up kim from the airport. after a stop at waggoner’s for chocolates (a must), we turned up back at the house to celebrate birthdays with david and beckie.


dinner and cake were a hit and it was just so great to have us all around the table together once again; i LOVE this way of kicking off our annual rhinebeck adventure.

i had hoped to get to bed early because there was a full day of driving ahead of us, but after dinner i still had to knit a little headband sample—yes, really. we have put together sampler kits to introduce knitters to our DK yarns, which include a free pattern for a slip stitch headband to knit in several DK colors of better breakfastkent, and stone soup.


and so it was (with absolute horror, mind you) that i ended up modeling for a photo at 2 am. never again, haha. and we WILL get a better photo ASAP.

the next day at 7:30 sharp, we headed out—kim joined me in the van, loaded with our popup shop and barb drove behind with kiran. we yakked and yakked all the way there; how i’ve missed spending time with kim!


for the short time i sat in the passenger seat, i managed to find something of interest to photograph.


we arrived at our rental home just before dark and were thrilled to find anne marie already there and the house warmed up, with supplies laid in—she’s the best.


not only was in beautiful, clean, and spacious inside but the view all around was of woodsy, natural, quiet—just what the doctor ordered (uh, not that we intended to keep quiet during our stay, haha)


it was quintessential catskills living; we were immediately comfortable and looking forward to the rest of the weekend. we ran out for a quick bite and then back to the house to settle in and knit for the evening.


i had two projects to focus on during my trip (and an emergency third in case i got stuck on both of those; it would be tragic to be out of knitting at any time this weekend). i’ll tell you more about this one in a little bit . . . but i will say now that i’m knitting with kent DK and once again rediscovering how much i love this yarn—so springy, so squishy, so light!


the next day was a big one, so we headed to bed on the early side. first up in the morning was a trip to the fairgrounds to drop off patterns with chris at briar rose fibers, where chris was showing samples of mayan puzzle, the mister’s, and pedal pusher (among others) in her booth over the weekend.


as we walked through the fairgrounds, there was much oohing and aahhing over the foliage, which we had all to ourselves temporarily.


and then bring barb’s vendange jacket sample to jen at spirit trail. this one is knit in her vesta worsted yarn in the signature vendange colorway, soon to be available on her website. isn’t jen stunning in it? i love how happy she looks. this is the same sample modeled by emily in our release photos.


afterward it was time for lunch and we drove down to the CIA to meet up with more friends for a good meal.


it was quite chilly and windy that day, but the sun shone (rare for a rhinebeck friday), so our spirits were high.


because of friday afternoon and evening events, we didn’t have time to dine in one of the restaurants but we enjoyed the apple pie bakery instead. after all, the food is just to take the edge off and prepare our bellies for dessert . . .

of which we each ordered at least two (i won’t say how many kim and barb had, haha). i couldn’t eat mine but i bagged it up and took it home for alter, when it was equally delicious.


in the garden out front, we were photographed by a passer by before heading off to kingston to set up our first shop event of the weekend.


i’m so glad my phone camera was fixed in the nick of time before our trip; i’d been living without for about a month and jouncing to take pictures of everything i saw.


i love this one; i don’t know why.


at the best western, we unloaded the truck and set to work right quick, not sure how long it would take. with so many hands on deck (thank you kiran, kim, anne marie, and barb!), we had ourselves a beautiful booth in no time.


vendange in chebris worsted stood front and center; it was a crowd pleaser all night long. our blanket rack also drew lots of attention—it’s that time of year when everyone’s thoughts turn to warm cuddly items that are quick to knit—and we have plenty of those.


i just love seeing all the shades of our yarns smooshed into our show booths; it’s a good chance for me to see them in combinations that are different than we arrange in our shop at home.


by 4:30, the vendors started circulating to visit each other’s booths and do a little private shopping—after that, our booth was banging all night, packed with people (many of whom came back twice!). it was a heady, vibrant experience to be in the middle of it, i gotta tell you.


i just love meeting and chatting with our customers, helping them pick colors and fibers, discussing whether this design or that will be right. this is the only photo i managed to get after we opened but in my mind, i have many more equally affectionate snapshots.

back at the house afterward, we all gathered around the table to eat and rehash the evening over homemade soup, cheeses, and bread. it was a great event for us and we were thrilled to take part once again—thank you indie untangled!


i relaxed back after eating and cast on for my new project in kent DK. i want to tell you all about it, but this post is going to be really long anyway, so i’ll just tease you for now and tell you more next week, ok?


saturday was fair day and since it wasn’t a work day for me, i was able to cruise the show all day—which i hadn’t done for a few years.


first on my list was to hit up the fleece sale in search of dark mohair for our chebris and cabécou yarn lines. dark goat fiber is hard to get and we are in need (in case any of you knows a good resource). i had hoped to get there when the gate opened but we got waylaid when we ran into friends. after, kiran and i made a beeline for the fleece corral.

thankfully there were several choices left in our price range (many fleeces were completely outside of our budget; mohair has gone up so much in price!). i was doubly thankful to see that the ones i could afford were also bearing show ribbons—a great sign. no first place fleeces left, but i did get reds, yellows, and whites. i’m not an expert at choosing fleece so this is helpful to me.


by the time we got through the line and paid, it was nearly 11 am and with a little time to spare before our knitspot meetup, kiran and i headed over to see the animals.

in typical rhinebeck fashion, there was much affection exhibited, haha.


we were especially interested to visit the pens of pinxterbloom farm, where john frett raises the goats who grow fleece for our mohair yarn blends. these are a couple of new kids; just look at their lustrous locks.


i think goats are the most adorable and vivacious of all the fiber animals—i love to watch them run around and play in their bouncy way. just my opinion . . .


as luck would have it, john was showing a little red just when we arrived at the arena—just look at that bright red hair!


the fleece of the red and brown goats fades quickly as they mature, so it’s a special product. when we can get it, we use the brown and red hair for our champagne shade of cabécou brillant.

now it was time to head over for our knitspot picnic meetup, the annual event at which participants drive decked out in knitspot designs that they’ve knit throughout the year, ready to catch up with one another as we indulge in a pot luck lunch—everyone has to eat at some point, right?


there was cherie of the famous banana cake, wearing her gorgeous eve in eden shawl, the first project of our ENVY club this fall.


and judi in her lake effect sweater (design by amy miller), knit in BNWs better breakfast fingering yarn (warm coals shade). judi showed up at RB this year sporting several extremely flattering sweaters; i think we all agree that she gets the 2015 prize for beautifully fitted garments!


josée found a mister’s cardigan twin; both knit in briar rose joyful. i WISH i could remember the name of the lady on the left, who was incredibly excited about her sweater—how well it fit, how comfortable and stylish she feels when she wears it; it was so nice to bask for a few minutes in her infectious enthusiasm.

she ran up the hill and right toward me to show it off, so excited! if you are reading this, i’m sorry about forgetting your name!!


donna was explaining to me how she would knit the jacket length vendange because the long version would never look good on her. i made her try mine on and took a photo. is it me, or was donna out of her mind to think she can’t wear this?

i think we cleared up that little misunderstanding for her . . . never make assumptions.


we did another swap this year and some really beautiful knits were passed around as gifts. i think everyone really outdid themselves this year, which is so heartwarming.


i received a gorgeous frillibet, one of my favorite shawls. i always meant to knit another in a color that goes with more of my wardrobe, but now my swap partner—hattie—has done it for me in a woolen rabbit lace yarn! the color is amazing; it’s perfect for me. and i didn’t have anything this color in a small shawl.


after the meetup i realized i hadn’t eaten anything yet that day so i split an order of french fries with barb. it is my policy to eat french fries almost every day when i travel; i like to try them out wherever i go. barb agrees this is a good policy (and these i might add, were very well made using tasty fresh potatoes).

i think i’m going to stop here for today—the end of saturday is a great place to break. i have to get ready because we have our friend janelle martin visiting our shop this weekend to present a trunk show and talk about her work. we’ll also be having a yarn tasting tonight and tomorrow in conjunction with that event, as well as casting on for a new KAL of her mountain peaks stole design. if you live in the area, please join us!