Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

Pairings Club Signups Now Open

Sunday, May 1st, 2016


Signups are now open for Pairings Club. In this club we will combine yarns, patterns, recipes and drink for a multi-sensorial experience. A skein of Bare Naked Wools (undyed) and a skein of hand dyed yarn to create beautiful accessory patterns that use color techniques from stranded to color blocking. On the food end, chef Katharine Wainwright will provide some wonderful recipes to accompany the knitting projects. More details about the Pairings Club here. Wish I could join, presently continuing work on Blanket Club and my skill level is not adequate to allow me to participate. However, the recipes I might attempt.


Been considering another knitting project, perhaps a skirt. Have always been intrigued by the idea of men in skirts. After all, men were wearing skirts before pants. I recall in the nineties, that Gaultier created an entire collection of men skirts, it was absolutely brilliant. In the past considered a kilt, but this seems somewhat typical, a safe choice if you will. The last few years have seen a resurgence of men in skirts, perhaps even a trend. Anne’s Interlaken skirt is presently at the top of my list, may have go at this.


Landscape fabric now in place for new tomato bed.


Same tomato bed, different perspective.


Again, new tomato bed, moving dirt to create mounds.

Have begun re-creating the mounds for the vegetable garden, the new tomato bed is coming along rather nicely. Hoping to have mounds sorted by weeks end, but probably next week is more likely. This year will share the garden offerings with Bil and his partner, glad we were able to expand garden. I do love that adage, “if you have enough, you have enough to share” – hopefully the garden will be bountiful this year. Nearly ready to sow peas and potatoes, surely by the end of the week, hopefully sooner. We picked up seed potatoes last week and we have pea seeds. Just had quick glance at weather forecast, potentially a rainy week, may hamper efforts a bit, but will be great for newly planted seeds.


Potato bed nearly ready for potato seeds.


Same potato bed, note dirt in background awaiting mound formation.

Rejoice, Spring is Here, Finally

Friday, April 22nd, 2016


Lovely spring bouquet created from flowers picked by Anne from around the garden on Thursday.

Good grief, the doldrums of winter seems to have finally abated, of course I speak of the endless winter, of which seemingly was going on and on. Huge globules of spring snow were falling on April 2, quite beautiful, but out of place. Yes I know this can be considered de rigueur for the region, but it’s spring after all and the plants and flowers are now blooming. Alas I can shed some of my winter cycling kit, so looking forward to going riding without all of those wintry layers. Used to be rather fond of winter’s slumber, the notion that the earth could have a break of sorts, to rest, to sleep and then to awake in spring with renewed bounty, kind of a celebration of life, if you will.


This last week or so, I have been working on creating promotional graphics for the new Pairings Club. During one of our meetings, Anne mentioned the use of fancy script in promotional materials, those two words unleashed thoughts of a French bistro menu, beckoning a conceptional idea for the Pairings club. We have all seen those sorts of menus, often cramped with words making it difficult to read, but then you have the use of different fonts, which makes deciphering the menu a little easier. In this club we will explore a multi-sensory experience, pairing Bare Naked Wools yarn with a hand dyed yarn, seasonal recipes and beverages, now the concept of a menu should resonate. Anne will team up with Chef Katharine Wainwright to present four courses of fantastic knitting projects, recipes and wine pairings. No doubt it will be a decidedly different kind of knitting club. Initial signups will be open to current Immersion club members on April 17 and to the general public on May 1.


Compost pile


Compost to serve as mulch for garden beds around house, note Chinese fringe tree is slowly dying.

I was able to begin to sorting out the compost pile, working in freezing temperatures no less a few weeks ago. Moving some the compost to various beds around the house, Bil helped out, fortunately it had warmed a bit by then. It’s amazing how another set of hands can increase productivity. Now onwards to the most awesome task of combining the remaining compost with the existing garden mounds created to simulate a rise garden bed, will undo all these mounds. Now that everything has been combined, I have begun expansion of the vegetable garden. This includes removing weeds, leveling, making a walking pathway.  Have placed a layer of cardboard, atop this a very thin layer of soil to assure that cardboard remains in place. Will also add a layer of landscape fabric to further inhibit weed growth, you can see that I rather dislike weeding. Next I can finally begin the forming of the new mounds, tomatoes will be planted here.


New vegetable garden bed location filled with weeds


Weeds removed, ground leveled.


Cardboard layer.

R2: p1, [k1, p4] repeat to last s1, p1

Friday, March 25th, 2016



Charts or Written Instructions, have yet to make a definitive decision. Upon beginning the Blanket Statement Club I was rather hesitate to make use of charts, a seemingly unfathomable, if not daunting proposition. This opposed to written instructions, of which began simple enough, i.e.: R2: p1, [k1, p4] repeat to last s1, p1. Yes simple indeed, not a lot of space for ambiguity, concise and rather straight forward, just the way I like it, offering an easily remembered refrain. Of course written instructions can imbue a certain clumsiness with more intricate patterns, negating any semblance or hope of remembering a complicated series of stitches. This is where charts truly shine, particularly with a more complex pattern. The chart  can be partitioned/dividend/marked up in any manner of ways that will allow for easier reading at a glance. In the photo above, rows are divided in groupings of 4 stitches, a quick look allows me to know what to knit (Anne’s idea actually). But then there is this business of working on the wrong side, even numbered row from left to right and doing the opposite for the right side. It has taken some time to get my mind right and follow this logic and to keep it in the foreground as not to forget to do what when. Presently gravitating toward charts for the moment, can really appreciate their use, especially for larger and more complicated patterns. Have not done anything to challenge my current beginners aptitude, perhaps a sign to try something a bit more complex.


Just brought a new pair of cycling shoes. Finally an opportunity to replace a pair that I have been wearing for the last 15 years or so, the buckles are/have began to fail. Cost of replacements buckles are a bit obscene, although would have liked to replace the buckles and continue wearing. Wonder if such longevity is do to not riding enough miles, probably not, but more likely because you are not actually walking in them. In general bicycle clothing and shoes are quite an extraordinary value, all things considered, still wearing bib shorts and jerseys that are 15 years plus. Liking the black and white combination, appealing to my fashion sensibilities opposed to tech specs (albeit very good, carbon soles, make for a rather rigid shoe). Paul Smith (menswear designer) offered a similar dress shoe combination some years back, same color but slightly different styles, I like this concept. Reminds me of Anne’s Double Happiness pattern, two wonderful motifs on each side of the shawl.


Nearly time to turn my attention to the garden, last fall we had 20 or 30 yards of compost delivered. Unfortunately there was no way of having the compost dumbed directly into the garden area, necessitating me to move it myself, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow. Now I get to move it again, yay (not so much), half will go in beds around the house and rest will remain in vegetable garden. Planning on digging up all previous mounds in vegetable garden, mixing in compost and creating new mounds. Affording an opportunity to either sow plants in same positions as last year or rotate, a tremendous amount of effort, but nice to have options.




Photos really do not capture the grandeur of compost mass, they were higher, but have settled. Landscape fabric did do a fair bit to control weeds, will likely use again, also would love to install some drip irrigation this year.


Renovation has slowed as the cold weather continues to prevent me from moving desk upstairs, reluctant to run furnace during the day. May be a while before I can get back to demolition of remaining third of room. Cleaning of old plaster continues, note the contrast between cleaned plaster.  Also have started to remove old baseboard, considerable termite damage, will not be able to salvage wood after all . Fortunately damage does not extend to floor and appears to have happened some time ago, as there are no present signs of termite activity.

If  anyone is interested in traditional plaster finish/top coat, let me know and I will be happy to share my techniques here.



swatcha doin’?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016


even though i left home with a good-sized bag of swatches, i didn’t have nearly enough to guide the precise work of pattern writing, so i had more research to conduct during my work retreat. i am nothing if not a process person—i revel in this aspect of my work.


after completing janet guthrie, my next goal was to write up three patterns that i had test knitters waiting on. barb especially was waiting for one and i don’t like to keep her unoccupied for long, haha.


this next design was actually inspired by barb and cynthia, who mentioned a couple of times that a dress-length, sleeveless ivar would make an excellent jumper. i loved that idea, but had to let it stew for a while; i thought maybe it would be a good idea to change out the stitch pattern and reshape the body a bit for that application.


then in the fall when barb and i were examining samples in our shop and discussing how knitters are so universally drawn to certain motifs, i had a brainstorm—wouldn’t the motif from the curling cowl and mitts be a good choice for the dressy ivar? it’s such a favorite and one of our best sellers. she quickly agreed and i set to work on swatches.

this design is really going to work well for fall and winter, so choosing the stone soup fingering yarn (as i did for ivar) was a no brainer—it’s light, warm, and tweedy, perfect for this look. but for spring and summer, i wanted to see if one of our hemp or cotton blends would also work.


i first swatched with hempshaugh fingering (front) and ginny sport (back)—gorgeous, but not even in the same gauge ballpark as the stone soup fingering.

by the way, one of the topics covered in my new craftsy class, improve your knitting, is how to measure the gauge of patterns with moving sts or special textures. getting a beat on where the motif begins and ends or how much a fabric should be stretched to get gauge can be tricky . . .


so next i tried the hempshaugh lace, which i had knit in garments using needles similar to the size i used for the stone soup fingering. compared to the fingering weight (top), the lace (bottom) knits almost to the same gauge, but the fabric is much more delicate and fluid.


on 4.0 mm needles (bottom), i almost got a gauge that compares well with the stone soup, but the fabric was very liquid; i wanted a little more body. the next size down was better, but i still worried that in a longer garment, it might be a little unstable. two sizes smaller, i hit gauge very nicely and had a fabric i liked (top). again with this yarn as with the cotton blend, the difference between prewashed and postwashed gauge was considerable and the change in drape even more drastic.

it really pays for me to swatch a lot; not only do i get the precise numbers i need but i feel much more confident that my choices will work. since i wasn’t going to be knitting the prototype of this design myself, i was even more obsessive about it; i don’t want the test knitters to be worrying over whether the fabric is right—they need to focus on whether the instructions are right!

with those decisions made then, i got to work on redesigning the ivar into a jumper/vest as a pullover or cardigan (and yes, it will have a sleeve option, too)—something for everybody. even though we have a fully sized pattern in the correct gauge, the process of adding body shaping and a skirt to it was grueling and took the better part o f two days. but by friday night i had something to send to barb and kristi, who are knitting the sample garments. i also sent it to our tech editor tana so every number i wrote would be double checked by an expert.


with that all done, i got to work on a simple, “little nothing” scarf/stole in our lace weight mohair yarns, chebris and cabécou. we haven’t done one of these in a while and i thought a nice wide scarf for spring would be a great addition to the collection.


i had my eye on a simple but elegant stitch pattern—fun to knit in that way that makes you want to work just a few more rows to finish up the repeat before bed/work/dinner/cleaning. you know the kind . . .


a bath and a few pins turned caterpillars to butterflies and points out the obvious necessity for swatching—growth. how, as the designer, could i possibly predict an accurate stitch count without seeing the final fabric?

the other thing is that i just want to know that the yarn is right for the motif. i assumed that the cabécou was a hands-down winner, but after swatching, i really loved the pattern in the chebris lace—maybe even more; it surprised me by being lighter than air and soft as a feather. and erica agreed from the photos i sent. but as the swatches get handled, i’m growing more and more fond of the cabécou after all—i love them both and so we shall knit the piece in both. jeanna is working on the stole right now in chebris and we’ll find someone to knit the smaller scarf in the finer lace.


the motif is also luscious in the heavier ginny DK—just so cuddly! i’m sure we’ll knit a sample in this as well to bring forward into the january collection.

one of the goals of ensemble is to encourage the knitting of pieces that endure—ones that will work with your wardrobe not just in one season, but for many. so you will see as we progress and build it, that we’ll show pieces from previous seasons alongside and layered with new ones. i’m really excited about this concept and we’ve already got looks planned for both spring and next fall/winter that take advantage of the idea.


i still needed to write the skirt pattern, but i also needed to get started on my own next knit so i could write up THAT pattern afterward. going back to the swatches for the ivaresque jumper/vest, i was so taken with the translation of the motif in the fingering weight yarn that i decided we could use a second design that took advantage of its slightly bolder size and was configured a bit differently.


i would work again with the ginny sport, this time in the georgia shade—it’s sooooo . . . . sexy. i thought this would be wonderful as an easy, boyfriend pullover with a v-neck and a boxy fit to throw on at the beach or over a t-shirt on a cool night. knit on size 6 needles, the cotton blend is airy and floaty, but has body to support itself nicely.


my crash course in knitting this yarn had barely begun when i put the first sleeve on the needles and when i blocked it out alongside janet guthrie, i found i had overcompensated on estimating the growth of the sts (believe me, i learned a LOT about knitting with our plant based yarns in the last month!). anyway, pretty as it was, it turned out a bit too narrow. i could stretch it to the size i wanted, but then density of the fabric suffered in a way i didn’t like. also, i wasn’t as happy with the hem as i’d hoped, so i was game to reknit this. one sleeve as a sacrificial lamb for the sake of a whole sweater? i’m ok with that as the designer—as long as it means the pattern gauge will be right when YOU knit it.


i quickly made up for lost time by knitting the whole front the following day. it just flew off the needles, believe me—i had no expectation of finishing it so fast but there you have it. it also felt good to be making something after spending a lot of time on test squares; it’s good to be diligent in research, but nice to feel productive too.


i even blocked it to be sure i was on the right track. it was perfect and i love it; i have a feeling i’m going to be living in this sweater once it’s seamed together (and then again in the fall). it’s a simple design, with the pattern running straight up the middle. to keep things in scale across the whole size range, i also used the pattern on the sleeve—it will add interest at the outer edges as well as a sexy, summery detail to an otherwise androgynous style.


well i couldn’t resist getting the back started right away—can you blame me? i decided on the fly (since i hadn’t committed to a written pattern yet) to add some optional short row shaping to the back; i thought a little extra length would be cute and just the touch that sets this basic sweater apart (aside from that addictive stitch pattern, of course).


as i mentioned, i still had a skirt pattern to write and another, more complex shawl in the works, so i stretched out the knitting of the back over the next few days, alternating it with some lace shawl knitting. i was binding off the back neck sts while waiting for my car to the airport the other day, so i did complete it before heading home.


i thought ahead though and also cast on for a sleeve, because this design is a great travel knitting project. the sleeve would be my plane knitting and was as enjoyable and quick as could be; in addition to finishing off janet guthrie on friday morning, i also knit the sleeve cap and bound off.


i’m skipping ahead a bit on the timeline just to say that i had three pieces finished by friday and had cast on for the second sleeve. i’m really gunning to get this done as fast as possible because right now we are having the perfect weather to wear it; i don’t want to have to wait for fall. it will be simple to stitch together and just needs a bit of neck ribbing to finish.


and for the summer, i am totally knitting one of these in the hemp fingering—i know i’m going to want a light pullover that doesn’t stick to the skin at ALL and for me, hempshaugh is just the ticket.


by sunday morning, all of my pieces were complete and i treated the unblocked ones to a nice hot soak in soapy water, then pinned them out to dry.


amazing isn’t it, what a difference blocking will make? i never get tired of it—so worth taking this step; the pieces are much much easier to work with after a bath or steam blocking.


yesterday morning i added the neck trim before starting my day—all that’s left now is to seam in the sleeve caps and sew up the underarms and sides. i’l be sure to share the results in my next post—i’d have it done already but have been trying to give equal time to my shawl pattern and skirt knitting.

next time i’ll tell you all about those—this time i’m mixing it up a bit!