Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

spring in the air

Monday, February 1st, 2016

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february first and among the things i never thought i’d think or say out loud in the dead of winter: spring is in the air.

with the east coast still buried under several feet of snow (poor anne marie tells me they are still digging out in eastern PA), and just coming home from the snowy mountains of utah, i found myself this weekend changing down by several degrees in sweater weight. hunh.

it all feels very confusing because it’s hard to know what to feature in knitting news, what with new IMMERSION club projects on the needles and all.

but no time to waffle, that’s for sure—i’ve got plenty of deadlines to get to, no matter what the weather would tell me to knit. there are several secret projects on the go that are set in stone at this point, but i’ve been sneaking in spring swatches wherever i can, sinking my fingers into skeins of hempshaugh, ginny, and stone soup fingering yarns, as well as a variety of laceweight options.

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i knit up this delicious pile of springy possibility over the last few days and yesterday morning i washed the swathcesup in sudsy hot water to determine what the final fabrics would be like and whether i would need to reswatch anything (say, on a different needle size).

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as my nana used to say, ain’t that grand? it really is amazing (yup, every time!) to see the change that comes over the fabric after a nice bath.

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my ginny DK swatches were perfectly fine before washing, soft and cuddly, if a bit curly with slightly uneven stitches. a person might be tempted to say i’m not going to block this fabric because i don’t want to lose the depth

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afterward, though, they are simply sublime; you shouldn’t skip the washing. yes they have slightly less three-dimensional depth but the stitch definition is now amazing. it offers the same or better “depth” without the distortion or funny drape. washed fabric will do lots more for your silhouette, trust me.

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and that soft, delicious halo? shut the front door! i would wrap a bare naked baby in this fabric.

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these are swatches for a cardigan and pullover. i actually think i’m going to do these in separate patterns, because the plant fiber swatches (upper two) are a different gauge and drape; i think they’d work best in a loose summer pullover. the bottom swatch in stone soup fingering yarn is perfect for a three-season cardigan, smock, and/or jumper, something like ivar, but slightly more femme.

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then i took all three shades of hempshaugh fingering and swatched for a skirt i’ve been meaning to publish for years.

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every time i wear this one i get lots of compliments and requests for the pattern. i just never felt like i could nail down the right yarn for it—til now. hempshaugh is perfect. and i would love another one of these to wear . . .

as you can see, i’ve got my work cut out for me over the next couple of months; plenty to dream on while i finish up my winter knitting deadlines. plus, i’ve got some color projects on the boards as well—i’m about to start a shawl in spirit trail nona, which i’ll tell you about as soon as i get it on the needles.

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my stone soup physalis is progressing, though i’m having to alternate work on it with this deadline projects i mentioned earlier. still, a few rows here and a few there keep it growing.

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i’ve started the short row pattern, which is so gratifying; this part grows quickly and is a nice change of pace from those longer hem rows. it won’t be long til this one is blocking . . .

well, time now to head for my knitting chair or i won’t be getting ahead for today. as i knit, glancing out the window now and then, i can almost see one of these in my near future.

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repeating

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

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there are definitely some things in life that i have no desire to repeat—seventh grade and all of high school, for instance. but as a knitter, i get a lot of pleasure and relaxation from the repetition—from stitch to stitch and row to row, i like the rhythm of patterns that are easily executed with one basic group of sts, in slightly different arrangements.

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often, it’s so comforting that knitting one isn’t enough and i end up working through two or three of the same design before i’m satisfied (and even then i may come back to this project later to repeat again for gifting).

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the last six weeks have been such an exciting and nerve-wracking time, first with the process of pulling our ensemble collection into presentable shape—we were all on pins and needles waiting and wondering how you’d like it—then with aftermath of catch-up tasks and travel this week (when it rains it pours, haha).

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that said, even during the most busy and stressful times—why, even when working late, late nights and not sleeping—this knitter must have a project waiting with open arms when she does take a break; something to sink into and bask in the repetition of simple stitches. aaaahhhh.

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and it’s especially great if it’s a gratifyingly quick knit—maybe not simple, but interesting; something to make all the other stuff go away.

for me lately, it’s been the physalis shawl. i really REALLY enjoyed knitting that first one in fine cabécou lace. well, that first one was not nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity and interest in making those spectacular leaf shapes—i couldn’t stop wondering what they’d be like in chebris lace and maybe a few other yarns i love. so, with ten days to go before the collection was scheduled to go live, i cast on this second sample in truffe.

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it did not disappoint. busy as i was most of those days, i relished the prospect of sneaking in an hour in the morning with my coffee and another before bed. there they were, those leaves that seem to appear out of nowhere on the needles—yes the cast on is long, but once you set up the pattern, they seem to knit themselves (i’m serious; i have no idea how they get done so fast). it helps that the stitch count is constantly decreasing—by the time the hem is done, i think we are down to half the stitches (motivating in and of itself, yes?)

and then the short row shaping—always addictive, am i right? at least for me . . . then there is the big finish at the top, where you just can’t wait to see what happens next. anyway. it all conspires to kind to keep me glued to the project in any free moment and before i knew it, it was done. this time, in less than four days—kind of disappointing, haha.

just kidding; i was actually really glad that there’d be plenty of time to include photos in the look book.

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 we’ve discussed before how homely this particular piece of knitting is when it’s on the needles—just a regular dog’s dinner. but the first glimmer of what it can become is already showing through after a good soak—once it relaxes a little, you can see some interesting openwork start to show up.

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the concentration of decreases vs increases is so imbalanced that the solid areas seem to float, once the shawl is subjected to some rigorous stretching (pull harder than you think—really).

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personally, what i love about this lace is its ragged, papery appearance, as if it’s disintegrating before my eyes. so in this case, i’m even in favor of stretching the edges SO much that the pins create uneven points along their borders. to me, it contributes to the look i was going for.

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remember the pods that are my inspiration for this lace?

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by using needles much larger than you’d think for lace knitting (5.0 mm in this case!) those lacy inserts become nearly skeletal, appearing to provide only the most fragile supporting structure to the solid parts. love that . . .

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and oh my, crisp as it looks all pinned out flat, how soft and fluid it is when the pins come out.

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you know what i’m talking about . . . these things are irresistibly gossamer when they are finished; we can’t keep our hands off of them.

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sigh; i  love this photo.

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and another one already on the needles . . .

i’m in utah with our friend kim3 for a few days; i’ve finally caught up a bit and have lots of edited photos to show you, so i’ll be back with another installment tomorrow. right now, we are getting ready to go snowshoeing!

are you ready?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

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i just love this slow dog noodle wrap—light and airy, it’s great as a huge scarf over a heavy sweater or atop a wide open jacket. but it’s also a wonderfully cozy wrap to throw on while knitting or watching TV—long enough to cover my legs, but light enough to allow my arms to work. love!

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and with the mild weather we’ve been having, i can even wear it instead of a winter coat, a la mister knitspot. with such versatility—now it’s a scarf; now it’s a blanket!—this kind of wrap is wonderful to wear traveling.

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the fabric drapes beautifully and at the same time, has the deeply textured appearance of a much heavier bulky knit—without all that weight, yay.

this is a great piece to add to our wardrobe (yes, this is one i think we can share, haha).

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i could not resist casting on the scarf version with a few odd-ball skeins of the festivus 2.0 red gradients—i am adding rows here and there whenever i need a mindless project (like during a meeting or when i’m too tired to do something challenging).

we are doing very well in our scholarship fundraising—thanks to you all! last tuesday, our scholarship number was over $1800 and tomorrow i will get an update from doug. we are hoping to meet and perhaps pass last year’s final number of $4000.00; let’s make it happen!

now that the pattern numbers are final and it’s available to everyone, including LYS sales, please let friends and family know that they can help a lot by purchasing a copy (if you purchased early, please re-download an updated copy with final photos, sizes, and yardage requirements before casting on).

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i finished up the coordinating cowl last tuesday, a little late to include in last week’s post. that night i soaked it, reshaped it and set it up for drying with anne marie’s handy-dandy roller method.

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two oatmeal boxes, a couple of paper towel rolls, or the tube from a roll of wrapping paper will set you up for a lifetime of ease in cowl blocking (a couple of pieces of PVC tubing will also work a treat and won’t succumb to dampness). just insert a length of tubing at each side of the cowl and roll every hour or so until dry—it speeds up drying like nobody’s business and creasing will be a thing of the past.

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don’t the gradients look nice knitted up? in real life, the color shift are so subtle that you can hardly locate them in the three lighter shades. but then obviously when the darkest shade bumps up against the brightest one, it’s there.

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you could arrange the shades differently of course—make an ombré by working from light to dark and back or go random and mix them up continually (that’s a great strategy if you have an uneven amount of leftover yardage from a scarf or wrap project)

this is the medium size (there is one smaller size and then a long size that you can double wrap); it weighs just 2.1 ounces—a little under 200 yards total. it took almost no time to knit.

i’m hoping we’ll have the pattern ready on tuesday evening in case you need a very last minute gift! and of course, the proceeds from this one through december 31 will also be added to the scholarship fund.

the gradient sets were shipped out last thursday evening—they are landing everywhere as we speak. erica does have a very small quantity of extra skeins to offer as sets or individually; if interested, please contact her (jeevesATknitspotDOTcom).

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i’m not making a lot of christmas gifts this year, but i did try a new crafty project that is working out well so far—lotion bars. i use a lot of these; my hands really suffer from dryness both winter (from the indoor heat) and summer (working hands syndrome from gardening and sink work).

buying them has been a bit hit or miss—sometimes they are so hard as to be unusable, sometimes the scent ends up being too perfumey for me. and the ones i especially love are expensive (natch) and too big to be portable.

my experiments with making my own wool soap made me curious about other DIY products and over the summer i poked around on the internet to see if lotion bars would be equally easy to make at home. and they are—for the price of a few bars of my favorites brands, i was able to buy supplies—including a few splurges for luxurious butters—to make several batches and in the smaller size i prefer. the recipe is ridiculously easy and the results are luscious; definitely a keeper.

so i’m making several batches to add to christmas gift packages—and learning to use scent judiciously, haha (i love scented hand lotion; it’s easy to go crazy, but i want these to be appealing). my only hangup is that i can’t find an inexpensive solution for containers; my favorite options require me to buy a case of like a thousand—a few more than i really need. i’m working on it, trying to think outside the box about boxes . . .

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i spent saturday in my kitchen to prepare some nice dishes to serve on sunday, when we hosted carrie and robbie from our ohio mill, spinners of our better breakfast, chebris and cabecou, ginny, and hempshaugh yarns.

it was nice to spend the afternoon chopping and cooking some of the last garden produce into a huge pot of black bean chile, mmm. it made enough to put several buckets in the freezer for meals later on, too.

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but i didn’t stop there—i felt like having a special dessert for once; we don’t really “do” desserts unless we’re having company, so this was my chance, haha.

chocolate pecan pie is one of david’s favorites and we hadn’t had it in a long, long time. i use a recipe from one of those old 1970s product-related cookbooks. thanks to the wonder of the internet, i found it easily to share with you—click here to view.

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and while my pie crust came out a little overly done this time (drat!), the overall result was really good. this recipe can be made into dessert bars as well; the filling is gooey, but not runny.

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remember my rather pathetic looking lace shawl project? i don’t blame you one iota if you’ve been thinking it is very much less than inspiring—it’s hard to love something so homely isn’t it?

well. . .

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how do you like it now? yep, it’s all done; can you believe that this came out of that??

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i couldn’t be happier or more surprised—it’s bigger, lacier, and prettier than i expected.

oh, the magic of blocking—how can anyone disagree?

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i can’t remember now what day i finished it up, but i blocked it pretty much right away because i was dying to see what i had inside that crumpled pile of stringy yarn.

speaking of the yarn—if i may say so, our cabécou brillant lace in the champagne shade, is nothing short of spectacular for lace; i love it so much.

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it can fool you at first, seemingly dull and lifeless, but hidden inside are sparkling threads of light, just waiting for our hands to work their sorcery.

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i really enjoyed knitting this too—it may have seemed to take a lot of time, but that’s because it was a prototype and i had to rip back and re-do a couple of times. i am all set to knit another, perhaps in the chebris lace this time (i’ve been dying to get that truffe shade on my needles since it first came in). i’ll most likely use a bigger needle with the heavier lace yarn . . .

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what i love about this shawl is how papery the textures make the yarn look, though it is soft as wisps of cloud. this piece weighs in at just 49 grams—less than half of a full-sized skein.

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it could be a gorgeous wedding shawl and then be worn every day to the office and worked into a rag-and-bone club outfit, too; all that fine stitching will never just sit in a drawer.

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this piece is another that we will be including in our january ENSEMBLE collection—to be released mid-january. we are stocking up on lace yarns especially for projects like this—are you excited?

and with that, i think i will leave you till later this week; we’ll have the cowl pattern to offer  in the next day or two, plus i have a few wonderful book releases to let you know about and probably some VERY last minute knitting; happy holiday prep!

don’t forget to share about the fundraiser patterns!!

slow dog noodle

Friday, December 11th, 2015

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i don’t know what’s going on with my pre-christmas mindset this year, but i have yet to begin even one knitted gift. my list of hand knit gifts is not long—just three items and only one of them big—but for some reason i just keep thinking christmas is in some far-off land across an ocean of time.

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every conceivable manner of knitting is scattered all over the house, but finished objects? not a one. i am in various stages of completing several large deadline projects for our january collection and my sample knit of the red scarf fundraiser pattern is in its final stages. i had hoped to have it completed by now, but it’s not!

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i am, thankfully, just about ready to start the last stripe, yay! but i’m so behind where i thought i would be in getting the pattern posted and the fundraiser sales going, i’m feeling like a failure today.

for inspiration, i went over to stephanie’s blog while i was eating lunch, because she always puts on a great pre-christmas show and is a barrel of laughs, too, which i find completely inspiring and energizing. but lo and behold, she is talking the same tune as me and dealing with almost identical challenges. now that’s frightful.

i keep telling myself that not having all the christmas knitting done in time is really ok, considering how challenging my schedule continues to be, and that every christmas doesn’t HAVE to be the same, rung in with delicious piles of satisfying knits, lovingly crafted for each special recipient (because making time to create and give handknits is just that—very special).

but you know what? some things should not change.

like our annual red scarf scholarship fundraiser. the fundraiser is many things—it’s a fun new quick knit design to knit and share, it’s a time to give a little and know it will add up to a lot (even non-knitters can buy one to get in on the action). but most of all, there is at least one person who is really, REALLY dependent on what we gather and place in the scholarship bucket—our foster care to success sponsored student, brandy. this student is very young, but has very adult responsibilities; our contributions make a huge difference to her peace of mind and well-being as she navigates a college education on her own. she’ll be a senior in college next year and this fundraiser will help get her that degree she’s been working so hard to obtain.

so, even though my sample isn’t quite done (same as last year) and the pattern ain’t pretty yet, here it is—slow dog noodle. the name was kindly suggested by noralee, who added this definition to her comment:

Skier rode up a steep side of a mogul to dissipate speed while assuming an exaggerated sitting back position. At the crest of the mogul and while still crouching, with skis now balanced directly on the crest, the skier swiveled the skis. The slower the motion, the more perfect the execution. (definition from “Story of Modern Skiing,” by John Fry) Cool, elegant move to watch.
Can’t help it, this just made me laugh.

it made me laugh too, when i imagined what katJ and kimkimkim will do with that one; it also described the stitch pattern so perfectly that i had to have it. slow dog noodle it is!

now you’ll notice that this particular pattern listing is a little different—thanks to david’s hard work today, there’s a dropdown menu so you can choose your purchase price, from $7 and up (we’ve added options for those who would like to give more).

100 percent of every single slow dog pattern sale through december 31st will be added to the scholarship fund

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purchasing is as easy as any other pattern on our site; it just requires that tiny extra step of using the pulldown menu. the pattern is also available on ravelry, however, we cannot set up the extra donation option there. if you’d like to make an extra donation, we ask that you purchase here and request for us to send it to you in ravelry (your download will be immediately available here; it may take a little while for us to process the rav thing. we appreciate your patience!).

i know you’ll be generous one way or the other—if you just can’t afford it this time, it’s ok; please shop it around to friends and family, put it on your Facebook page, pin it, or share it with your ravelry groups and knit night buddies (go ahead, guilt them into it if you have to, haha). those are equally excellent ways to help us reach our goal.

the fundraiser is a truly worthy effort, dear to our hearts and beloved by readers; i wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t.

by the way, we’ve gotten a nice jump on our fundraising by selling out the gradient sets we posted—our accountant doug tells me we’ve collected over $990 already. way to go readership; we love you!! and doug loves getting mentioned on the blog, so let’s keep him busy giving us good news.

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now you can use your red gradient set to knit this scarf or wrap or you can stash dive for something else to knit it with; that’s up to you. the design falls completely within the parameters of the type they like to collect for the red scarf drive—unisex, a good length, and a nice width. it has some openwork, but nothing a guy wouldn’t wear.

i got behind this week and wasn’t able to cast on with my red skeins yet, but i’m treating myself to a nice sit-down with them this weekend. i want to design a cowl and hat with the same stitch pattern; something that will roll off the needles in a jiff. we had some skeins that were short a little yardage after rewinding so i took those to play with.

when all of the yarn arrives and all of the preorders are filled, we may have a few sets skeins left to list on the site for sale as well as some single full-sized skeins; we will let you know right here on the blog if that’s the case. we know they went fast; you guys are so generous! if you missed out and want to get on the waitlist with a request, please use the contact form in the sidebar here to let erica know. she will fill them in the order they are received and do her best to match you up with the configuration you are looking for.

ok, you know what?? i’m feeling a lot more christmassy already—let’s give that holiday spirit some legs! giving always makes me feel useful; i think it’s  good time to go finish up that wrap so i can cast on something RED. in fact i think i’ll cake up those skeins first . . .