Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

whiteout

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

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david picked up some gorgeous orchids on sale during a trip to the home store over the holidays. they are blooming like gangbusters and we are managing to keep them alive—score one for the home team.

the white one is doing a spectacular job of putting out, but the purply pink one kind of stealing the show, despite having less blooms.

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this one is such a diva, though—it catches a chill easily and needs to be moved back and forth from window sill to island every day or two to keep it from wilting in the draft. i gladly accommodate its fussy nature, as this spot of color is a merry island in a sea of january white and gray.

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yeah, we got dumped on this week in a storm completely unrelated to the one hitting the east coast right now. here, i thought we were expecting snow from the outer reaches of that system and BAM—we got hit from behind instead.

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between snowstorms and holidays, i don’t think the kids have had school more than three days in a row since the first of january, haha.

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not all the white is a challenge though—look at what my friend susie brought to knitting class on monday. she knit this vine flower dress from the über-soft organic pakucho cotton worsted we have in our online shop in the baby’s breath shade. how adorable is that? this dress is an easy knit and such a nice gift for a little girl baby. it will grow with a child so that she can wear it as a dress for a couple of year and then use it as a top.

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inside, we stay warm by keeping the home fires burning under pots of stew and soup, interspersed with fiery skillets of stir fry. this italian vegetable stew has several ingredients from our garden, including tomatoes from the freezer, carrots and garlic from the cellar, and fresh dug potatoes which we are storing deep under mounds of dirt in the garden, where they grew. david digs those up in batches whenever we have a bit of a thaw.

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while i cook, i add a few rounds on my natty cap whenever i have to wait for  something to boil or for the mirepoix to sweat bit.

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this new batch of kent DK in the tide pool shade is SO squishy—it’s funny how different shades of the same yarns have their own special character, even in blends. this particular batch is very bouncy and is showing some great stitch definition; perfect for this fabric, with its knit/purl texture.

i also work on the hat while sipping my first cup of coffee in the morning—starting the day with a bit of knitting helps me to get my thoughts in order. when i get to my desk, i know what i need to get done and it’s easier to avoid the black hole of email.

right now, i’m getting several new sweater patterns organized and out to the tech editor, putting together materials for the first installment of our blanket statement club, and working on the script for my next craftsy class—this one’s about sweater construction, in case you have input—which will go into production at the end of february.

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by lunch time i’ve worked up quite a hunger, so i indulge in some local color—leftovers from a spicy stir fry dinner or a small bowl of thick soup. now that is good food for warming things up.

with secret club knitting on hiatus for a short while, i’m trying not to spread myself thin by working on too many projects at once, because i want to make headway on my cam cable pullover sweater and think about my next sweater to go on the needles.

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so far, this strategy is paying off—i’ve got two sleeves finished already. and in a raglan sweater, the sleeves represent a good chunk of knitting.

after binding off the second sleeve last night, i cast on for the front before heading to bed.

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i figured getting that out of the way would allow me to launch right into some good knitting time when i got back to work on it. and as soon as i finish up this post, that’s just what i’m going to do.

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remember laura’s woodcutters toque i showed you the other day? well she showed up at the office today with it all done. isn’t it cute? it still needed a bath but i’ve taken care of that now—we’ll get some nice photos of it later this week. the yarn (our chebris blend in worsted weight) is absolutely dreamy—so unbelievably soft and with an incredible fluffy halo that gives it an other-worldy haze. can’t wait til you all can feel it too.

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well, she’s going to need that that—temperatures are going down to zero and maybe below as we speak; we are pulling i the drawbridge and getting our blankets on tonight. see you next time.

get ready for weather

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

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with this week just hours underway, we are already bracing for heavy snow and blizzard conditions that will bring up to twenty four inches of snow to our eastern seaboard states. sounds like we’ll be needing a good knitting project to cuddle up with. laura cast on this woodcutter’s toque in a sample skein of chebris worsted (coming in february!!) that we are all drooling over.

she swears by this project as the ideal blizzard knitting, as it was immediately addictive and impossible to put down—so be sure to get changed into those jammies before you cast on.

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working this hat IS a lot of fun and i can attest that the result is a hit with david at least—two of the originals appear frequently in his rotation of favorite hats and when he wears one, he draws a lot of interested queries about it.

there is really but one choice to make as the first flakes begin to fly and the first DVD of your marathon movie series clicks into place—whether to complete a healthy chunk on a big WIP or to cast on new and useful accessory that you can actually wear, once you emerge into the world again.

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emily is all set, now that her knitting has hit its stride; she has a high peaks hat on the needles in kent worsted (it’s possible that she’s actually knitting a hot waffles cap; i’m doubting my memory now).

hat or mitten projects have several advantages—the patterns are are easily purchased and downloaded without leaving the house, almost every knitter has a suitable yarn on hand to make one, they are interesting but still allow you to watch TV, and they are quickly finished up so that you can wear them to shovel the snow or play in the park afterward.

barb was kind of making fun of me the other night when i brought a pile of swatches to our knit night (wednesdays, 6:30 to 8:30). she remarked that i could have just knit from an existing sweater pattern in the time it took to knit all those swatches and come up with a new project.

tell me about it, sherlock. do you really think i do this to break speed records?

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but now, with a nice number of projects planned and swatched out in advanced (there WAS a method to my madness, heh), i have my pick of what i could nestle in with for winter storm knitting (especially since i have a yarn shop in my back yard—which granted, is unusual).

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in fact i have swatches everywhere right now. but the strongest contender for my attention is a new pullover with a cable pattern that i love knitting. i chose kent DK, a soft springy merino/romney blend which i haven’t knit with nearly enough—and i’ve had my eye on the kelp shade for a sweater for ME since it came in last year.

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last week, i swatched my fabric every which way to prepare—both the cable panel detail and in stockinette, washed, unwashed, AND in the round.  i used information from all these pieces to work out the pattern draft (though i’m not working any part of my prototype in the round, i may see if we can produce a pattern for both versions).

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the cable (from barbara walker’s second treasury) is so cool and so fun to work. it’s actually not a real cable at all, but a large twist stitch pattern that shreds into ribs and comes back together again, over and over. the fabric it makes is not bulky or heavy because there is never a place where all the stitch cross over each other. so it has the appearance of a complex, heavily cabled fabric, but is actually quite light and breathable across its whole surface.

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i cast on my first sleeve last monday evening. our kent shades come in several families, but the kelp stands out a bit as unique in that it is a warm, caramel with gold—almost green—highlights. as each batch of our yarn will vary with whatever the wool crop brings that season, when i see something that stands out to me, i make sure we save out a sweater’s worth for a sample.

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well, this is one project i love in every way—the colors in the wool are entrancing, the cable is addicting, and in DK weight on (what i consider to be) bigger needles, it’s flying along. by thursday morning i already had a good bit knit.

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that piece was off the needles and folded up by friday, when i launched right into the second sleeve.

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i really needed project like this—one that i don’t have to worry about getting done for a deadline or meeting anyone else’s expectations. i mean, i DO plan to publish the pattern, but what drives the design and the choices i’m making is purely personal—which feels great right now; very freeing.

by the way, it’s not unusual for sweater pieces to look like writhing sea creatures as they come off the needles, or for them to be the wrong size and shape entirely. if you are new to sweater knitting or still contemplating whether you want to try, know that these homely pieces will eventually be transformed by blocking and that you will be witness to absolute magic when it happens.

so, i have my sweater to work on. oh and look—the snow is growing heavier as i write this (can you hear me grinning?).

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now don’t forget to cook up a big pot or casserole of something warm, easy to heat up, and filling—that way family members can help themselves and leave you alone to knit. last night after dinner i put on a pot of my grandma’s lentil soup—which is vegan by the way, using just the few ingredients you see here, plus some tomatoes and later, spinach. it took just a little while to prep and then i sat to knit while it bubbled.

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of  course, i always have my little sock to work on should i need a break from the sweater, or something portable to work on in the kitchen while fixing a meal. i really love the way this is turning out—with such warm, tweedy goodness, i’m really hoping for great wearability as well.

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though i did have a moment the other night when i had to kick myself for a stupid mistake i’d made. i had knit the heel flap and put it aside for later. that evening i pack it in my purse to take to a meeting. i merrily knit away around and around while people talked and presented. several rounds into the gusset shaping, i realized something was amiss—my heel looked awfully wide. groan—i’d forgotten to do the short row shaping to turn the darn heel. r-i-i-i-p-p-pp

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better now and easily fixed. this stone soup fingering yarn takes a ripping and reknitting really well; hopefully that says something positive about its durability. BTW, if anyone out there has already been knitting and wearing socks from this yarn, we’d love to hear some feedback.

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now that should be plenty to get me through one (oh heck, even TWO) snow storms. but i will always be that knitter who needs to be overly armed and prepared for any eventuality. i’d rather carry a couple of extra projects that i’ve no hope of getting to, than find myself stuck someplace (even at home!) with nothing to keep my hands busy. that’s just me; i’m sure none of you have any experience at all with such an issue.

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anyway when this new, medium gray (AKA tide pool) shade of kent DK arrived last week, i leapt on it. i got a bee in my bonnet that david would look adorable in a natty cap knit from one of our yarns.

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david’s got a couple of older hats that have really seen better days—like slöfock, one of his favorites. but the colors are fading and the fabric is pilling after several years of constant use; time for something fresh. the natty cap has a similar brim texture and body shape; i think he’ll like it.

i really waffled between this new kent shade and some shade of stone soup DK. but then i realized it would knit up quickly and i could make a second one—maybe for me—in stone soup.

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so last evening while i was cooking that pot of soup, i cast on.

holy cow—is this ever squishy; i love it. the pattern doesn’t include a size to fit his head (i guess i always thought of it as a girly design before), but it was easy to size up from what is included. plus, since this yarn has more body than the original yarn, i was able to used needles one size bigger all around and that helped get me to the size i needed—big.

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the texture of this design is a bit subtle, so it relies on a yarn that offers good stitch definition, which kent delivers. it also relies on fiber that softens nicely so that the hat body slumps in just the right way and kent does that too. with a couple of our natural material buttons added at the closure, it’s going to be quite good looking i think.

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and the soup turned out yummy; we’ll probably have some for dinner tonight.

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of course i cooked enough for an army, but this soup freezes very well and there’s a rumor going around that we might have company from pittsburgh coming to take a class sometime next week or the week after.

and as i said before, i like to be prepared.

oh, where does the time go?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

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boy oh boy, one minute i’m running around after my little friend helena, who stands barely up to my shoulders but is basking in the glow of her first modeling assignment.

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and the next thing i know she’s playing sexy secretary in my office, with an arsenal of looks and characters she’s portrayed in dozens of our photo shoots since.

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today she turns eighteen—how time flies (hehe, i’m sure kris and jeff are thinking the same thing!).

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from her very first session modeling pine and ivy, she’s always styled her own outfits, with just the right sense of what was needed.

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though one or two may not have been her dad’s favorite (sorry jeff!).

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at age thirteen, she did create a stunning look for our crossing mitts release, in a swirl of vintage silk and chiffon ruffles—like a christmas fairy.

still one of my all-time favorite photo shoots.

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there was crooked walking shawl the next spring and

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sheltie triangle with the apples in clover tam

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and hazeline with her beautiful mom and my dear friend, kris.

she’s got a real way with hats, too—a designer’s dream come true.

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but mostly, she’s been a great kid, one of my favorites and i know she’s going to be a great woman, too.

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on sunday, several special guests were invited to helena’s birthday fête—an afternoon tea party at her home.

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we were enthusiastically greeted by our hostess katherine delores (k.d.), who let it be known that there is but one fairy princess in this house—thank you very much—and that is herself.

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platters of scrumptious hor d’ourves were laid out on the table—not only did they look beautiful, but we soon discovered they were divinely delicious as well.

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the table was literally a work of art—a bit of spring blooming inside the house on a winter’s day.

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(i think k.d.’s personal designer must have done the napkin folding, however; those little paws are probably better suited to other tasks, such as dancing)

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beckie and i had been there just a few minutes when the rest of the guests arrived—three little red-headed girls who were as charming as could be—of course they were friends of helena’s.

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after we all had a close look at the new dollhouse that helena and her dad recently finished building (i think they’ve been working on it for two years), we all sat down to the table.

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while the daylight turned to twilight, we nibbled on delectable foods and watched helena open her gifts.

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k.d. stayed behind the scenes and made sure that every detail was attended to with graceful precision.

it was much too dark to take photos of the cake cutting, but be assured that it was irresistibly good.

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happy, HAPPY birthday, dear helena; thank you for sharing the loveliness of your youth with us and the goodness that you carry out into the world; we love you!

 

notes from a snowstorm

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

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mid morning snow begins falling like we’re holding a christmas card audition.

cozy new sweater on the needles—finally.

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i tear myself away for a few minutes to snap some photos for a short blog—wow, the white stuff is falling fast—look at our street just a few minutes later.

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i finished swatching for this sweater last night and after a long, hot, soapy soak, they are blooming and drying in my workroom.

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i just love the transformation that takes place between the knitted fabric and the washed fabric—stunning, right? i’m working with squooshy kent DK in the kelp shade, which is a rich brown with gold highlights.

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the design is one i knitted off-the-cuff years ago for a friend, but then liked it so much that i wrote down careful notes afterward so i could replicate it some day for myself. ok, well it took sixteen years, but i’m finally doing it.

hey, i had a long queue and a lot of life changes in between, haha. besides, i was waiting for just the right yarn to come along . . .

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anyway, now it’s here; time to settle in and knit near the window to watch the snow fly, while  appreciating indoor heat and the fact that we don’t have to go anywhere today.

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sounds like heaven to me.