Archive for the ‘food and garden’ Category

it’s a RAP

Monday, November 3rd, 2014


for my final installment about rhinebeck, i saved the best for last—the one about our second annual rhinebeck after party retreat. while we had a few less participants this year, the experience was no less inspirational. maryanne and dana are mother and daughter from california who share a love for our craft and have joined us both years so far—aren’t they lovely?


i mean, how very cool is it that knitters come from all directions to gather under one roof for a few days of focused study, relaxing work time, fun excursions, and the bonding that only knitting can provide? sheryl was SO excited to be here for the first time (though i know her also from sock summit 2009).

this year we took on color knitting and what a terrific choice it was. (BTW, karen did not knit her sweater before taking my classes—i checked, haha. i was really worried when i saw her wearing it; i’m always intimidated by students who’ve already mastered the subject matter i’m teaching!)


we started off on monday morning with a new yarn voyage class, this one geared toward color knitting. we explored the myriad characteristics of fiber and yarn construction that play a part in creating successful color knit fabrics. which, of course involved poring over many swatches from my library as well as knitting new swatches to understand the material through our own hands.

we all just loved this class.
before we start, we all think we know what is going to happen in this class and then every time we all get our minds blown; it’s fantastic.


then we break for lunch. one of the neat things we built into the RAP is a very long break between sessions, so that participants can go off and enjoy some of the terrific food and sightseeing opportunities the hudson valley has to offer while it’s still light out. this gives everyone a chance to spend time getting to know each other better as well or to have some alone time or even a nice nap.

it’s good—very continental, haha.

after the lunch break, we reconvened for an afternoon of exploring color knitting techniques, from slip stitch knitting to stranded knitting. you can’t cover everything about color knitting technique in just three hours, but we got quite a bit done, sampling something from each major color knitting area.


the project (left) and the swatch (right) were part of a discussion about color dominance (prominence of the foreground or background colors) and how to carry yarn strands to create one effect or the other.


monday was an intense (in a good way) day spent in the classroom with me lecturing for most of it, while participants swatched their way through the material. i was nervous because i am by no means an authority on color knitting—i just love it and i don’t get to do enough of it with all my other design work. that said, i have been looking forward all year to this retreat because of the subject we chose to cover and have been thinking about it a lot.


i wish i had taken more photos that day of all the lightbulbs going off to signal “ah-HA!” moments; it was a wonderful incubator for new experiences and connections. cynthia’s face says it all—she’s a doctor who does very serious work all the time and she approaches her knitting similarly, but at the same time, i see that it relaxes her and that she enjoys it immensely, much the same as i do—i love this woman, she adds so much fun to the mix; i’m so glad she makes the time to come to our retreat!!


on tuesday morning we directed all that we talked about the previous day into a project immersion class.  participants could choose between a slip stitch project or a stranded project; the class fee included a full-sized kit with all the yarn needed to knit either piece in undyed yarns. some students provided their own dyed yarns to add to the mix.


this day was more relaxed and casual—giving everyone a chance to digest what they had learned and put it into practice.


we spent the morning in the classroom getting organized, talking a little more about how to arrange colors into compositions, and reviewing technique, as well as familiarizing ourselves with the pattern.


i always encourage students to take on a new challenge in these sessions, so i was excited when almost everyone decided to go with the stranded color work project, the kingston cowl (patterns for both projects to be released very soon).


everyone worked hard, but in a different way from the day before; when i wasn’t talking, i made myself useful by floating around to help out wherever i was needed.

most of the morning was devoted to swatching out ideas for color arrangements that varied from the pattern as well as setting to work on the hem ribbing.


after lunch, most of us were ready to get into the meaty color work portion of the project. we moved the whole show into the lobby, where we could spread out comfortably and chat as we worked. josée passed around photos of her brother eric, who builds suits of armor for a living, to keep everyone’s adrenalin up. lisa was breathless.

i had encouraged everyone to use my pattern as a guide, making any changes to the color sequences they desired to put a personal stamp on their projects; i was really pleased to see that almost everyone was working up a unique variation.

before we knew it, wine o’clock was upon us and time to repair to our rooms to freshen up for the evening events.


(after i got home, i found this card in my bag from jane ann holmes-davis; it’s her original design, isn’t it adorable? thank you janie!)

tuesday knit night is the most fun evening of all, where everyone lets their hair down to really get the laughter underway. we provide the food, door prizes, and atmosphere while everyone pitches in a little make some fun.


for many participants, it is their last evening together, so we like to make the most of it.


this year, in addition to a whole bunch of door prizes, we also held a silent auction for a couple of grander prizes to kick off our red scarf fundraiser a little early. and we did alright—thank you everyone! i will be posting the red scarf fundraiser pattern a little earlier this year along with a special kit—keep your eyes peeled for that in a couple of weeks.

the next day we had a small but wonderful group for our final class, sweater fitness. lucky them; in such a small group we can really talk so that everyone benefits from each other’s work. it was a fantastic class.


that afternoon, we were lucky to indulge in a wonderful lunch at the cozy, award-winning matchbox café, a place i had passed back and forth by several times but had never stopped.

the proud owners do it up quite nicely in a tiny kitchen, from home corned beef to burgers to delectable desserts and cookies. SO going back there next year . . .

i picked up a slice of cake to bring to my mom that evening, because when the RAP came to a close, i headed up to albany to visit with her for a few days.


lucky me, i got to go to one of their monthly “cousins” lunches; i try to make as many of these as i can, especially before everyone goes off to florida for the winter.


aren’t they cute?

my mom and i had a really nice visit for a few days, even though the weather wasn’t so great. we did some shopping, went to the movies and had dinner with my sister’s family. i did some really nice runs as well; i always enjoy running in her area.

in fact, when we go back for thanksgiving, i’ve sign up to run the turkey trot along the river in troy, since i’ll miss the one here at home. anyone care to join me for the 10K at 8 am?

and then last sunday it was back home for me and i’m SO glad to be here.


yesterday, while the twins were elsewhere, i mined the shop, so i took a few hours to move furniture around and re-do some of the the displays.


now it’s even cozier; you really should come!

actually, one of the reasons we moved things around is to prepare for the new menu of classes we are beginning to offer. laura lazaritas will be teaching beginning and intermediate knitting as well as offering fine finishing services for anyone with a project that is long overdue for blocking and seaming. you send us your project pieces and she sends you back a completed garment; what’s not to love?


i finally sat down to knit for a bit at 2:30. i’m working on the cashmere lining for my kingston cowl and this time, i made sure to take photos all along the way so i can bring you a tutorial in the next few days about how to add your own cashmere lining to a cowl or hat.

i believe we’re going to have a pattern and/or yarn release tomorrow, but after that, i should be ready to present the lining tutorial.

and now it’s 2 am, so i’m going to close with a weird and wonderful thing i saw today while shopping with beckie


yes, you are seeing right—that’s an iris in full bloom. in november. after a frost last night.

and not only that, but there was a whole clump of them. and they are gigantic—really, like hothouse specimens.


neither of us had ever heard of this before; with all those fall leaves surrounding them, it was a bit of a science fiction moment, you know? hunh.

now if it’s as cold where you are as it has gotten here, you might enjoy the wovember blogs—a cozy tribute to all things wooly and woven.

it’s that (fine, fine) time again

Thursday, October 9th, 2014


yesterday i was running my usual circuit of nearby neighborhoods as a break from desktop madness, when two young dear nonchalantly crossed the street just in front of me, as they grazed from one yard to another. the stillness of that street and their quietude instantly made me drop my shoulders and take a deep breath. this is why i do this, i thought, as they allowed me to get quite close to snap photos. i just love running . . .

with my ankle all healed up now (thank goodness), i’m training for a november half marathon event with a course on the towpath running alongside the ohio  and erie canal. of all the races i did in the last year, this was my favorite, running almost the whole way in the woods along the water—i wish they were all like that.

meanwhile back at work, things are just a tad crazy around here right now, as we all get ready for our trek to rhinebeck next week.


david and anastasia are packing yarn for our booth at indie untangled on friday, 10/17 as well as our popup shop which opens on sunday, 10/19 at the kingston courtyard marriott


we’ll be in that location for three days, participating in our fun after party retreat. the store there will be larger and chock full of luscious yarn, patterns, and design samples (we’ll also have needles and natural buttons available)


as well as kits for my newest designs. we are bringing as much as we can fit into the van but if you know you want a sweater or blanket quantity of something specific and would like to be sure, please let us know—we are happy to take pre-orders.


we’ll be doing a whole concentration on color knitting at the retreat, working out how color (or shade) and stitch patterns relate to one another. some spots still available for classes if you are making last minute plans to come—we welcome you to join us!


don’t worry that these classes might to be too difficult—the emphasis for this one is on simple constructions and techniques so that we can fully explore and appreciate color behavior. we will  have one whole day just for working on a project.


i’ve got a couple of new designs to use in that class or you could work with one of the recently released color projects. i’ve just finished this mass transit cowl using several shades of our new confection sport yarn along with a multi-colorway of briar rose fourth of july. i just love it!


i also love the back side of this one a LOT, where the orange yarn is more dominant—isn’t that pretty? this one is especially dear to me because it was an exclusive colorway that appeared in our first fall color club.


speaking of samples, i finally remembered to snap a few photos of barb’s wake and eddy test knit in spirit trail birte. it’s SO rich and lush, mmm.


the scarf or infinity scarf require two skeins; the short cowl cowl requires one skein.


sarah is editing the pictures from our photo shoot yesterday; i will be releasing this pattern next week just before we leave for new york. this scarf and the coordinating cowl will appear in jen’s booth as a show special—details to be announced.


we will also be showing a beautiful new set called sugardance, designed by our friend lara smoot and knit in our ghillie sport/DK


this cozy cowl and matching fingerless mitts are a wonderful weight for late fall weather and so attractive. i love the texture and those big holes; it always makes me want to look closer.

new samples in bare naked wools are arriving every day, in fact; it’s so exciting that other designers are publishing patterns for our yarns. we will be showing them off frequently in the months to come


look for this brand spanking new set, including a sweater plus accessories knit up in breakfast blend DK by jen hagan to be released tomorrow. the sweater is just gorgeous; i can’t wait to see her photos. and she sent  a stack of hats along with it so we can take pictures too. these samples will be featured in our booths as well, so you can see them in person when you visit.

and last but not least, my friend laura nelkin has published a book recently—you may have heard. she’s going to be at rhinebeck signing them in the author’s alley at the sheep and wool show.


knockout knits is a collection of technique-driven designs that are paired with how-to segments for a variety of knitting types. include are instructional sections for such techniques as lace, wrapped stitches, beading, etc.

laura explains the purpose of each type and illustrates/demonstrates how to perform each one. discussion might also include appropriate choices for materials.

and then there are patterns to support each section of the book—these run the gamut from very simple and quick beginner projects to those that are more involved. this makes it nice for experienced knitters who have never beaded, but can handle (and even appreciate) a more complex project. at the same time, newbies or those with less time are not left behind. i like that feature a lot.

this is a beautiful book; if you are considering a gift for a new or intermediate knitter who has more to learn, this would be an excellent choice.


alright now, somebody here said something about being REALLY busy and still working on materials and secret knitting for next week—sounds like she should get her heinie back to work right this minute!


oh and by the way, for those who are not coming to rhinebeck—our BNWs boutique will remain open while we are traveling; david, anastasia, emily, and erica will be manning the fort while we’re gone.


let the good times roll

Sunday, October 5th, 2014


yes, good times indeed—david had a birthday last week and we were all so frantically busy getting ready to leave town that i didn’t get a chance to blog about it.

he had requested a chocolate cream pie and in the process of planning it, i got an idea about how to help myself with getting that troublesome gluten free pie crust into the pie plate in one piece . . . use TWO pie plates!

i thought i’d try it out here. i made the crust from my faithful, original recipe, subbing in gluten free flour and teaspoon of xanthan gum—even though it wasn’t devised to be gluten free i keep going back to this one because, out of all the ones i’ve tried, everyone seems to like it the best.


i rolled it out between two pieces of plastic wrap and laid over an upturned smaller pie plate.


i removed the top layer of plastic and lightly molded the dough to the plate so it wouldn’t tear during the next step.

i placed the bigger pie plate over the dough and rolled the edges of the crust all around to get them in place for crimping later. then i secured them in with the under layer of plastic wrap so nothing would tear (gluten free pie crust tears really easily).

i flipped the whole shebang over, removed the smaller pie plate and the plastic wrap, and finished making the edges neat.


that worked a treat—it took just a few minutes and nothing tore or broke; i’m sold. i finished it off by crimping, put it in the freezer for a few minutes to set up, and then baked the shell to get it ready for the filling.


i cooked a dark chocolate custard filling that i used to make regularly for david and have not made for a long time; i forgot to take photos of that, sorry.


he was pretty happy with the results though . . .


although possibly barb enjoyed it even more, haha. we cut and served the pie during last wednesday’s knit night (see? you should come!)

though we had miles to go that night before we’d be ready to head for michigan, it was a lovely way to celebrate together.

it was quite a frantic, nailbiter of a week, in fact.


it started out well enough—debbie brought her finished and blocked capricorn triangle to class, which we all drooled over—it looks so pretty and now we’re having the perfect weather for it.


on tuesday, debby sent all of us an update photo of her washed caravan blanket, which she’d repaired in class the week before. just look at that; you can’t even tell it was ever any different. and you certainly can’t see anything resembling a bite taken out of it, haha.


i had that morning, washed all of the finished cowl samples i had knit the week before to get ready for my upcoming color work classes. it’s so interesting—the bottom two are form the same pattern and the top two are also from the same pattern. but you can change the look completely by putting the colors in a different order or organizing them differently. most of these are knit with briar rose fourth of july, paired with our own, brand new confection sport.

yep, we’ve got kits—coming up in the next post, later tonight.


i also paired a couple of them with our stone soup DK, for a more soft and subtle tone. yeah, it’s easy to go crazy making these—as anne marie said, they my latest potato chip project; i can’t stop after just one.

hey there are worse things—and there is no shame in being ahead on holiday gift knitting for once.


or how about this one in an all-neutral palette—is that stunning or what? as soon as we get the sport weight white chocolate shade of confection in, we’ll hustle this kit up into the store, too.


i like this one so much that i even knit a cashmere lining for it, which i felt required a special drying setup. so i cantilevered my sleeve board over the edge of my pressing bench and hung it to dry, turning frequently.


can i just say? nothing says i love you like cashmere and who better to be on the receiving end than you?

cashmere linings take just a few yards (like, 100 or so) and almost no time to knit, but are the absolute essence of luxury. i used our pura bella mongolian cashmere; one skein will make three or four linings—enough for all your special knitwear appreciators, with guilt-free leftovers for you. just saying’.

anyway . . .


back to reality, it was an awfully long night last wednesday getting those last few tasks finished for our weekend at yarn in the barn at briar rose fibers in michigan. since i was up early on our travel day too, i took one last tour around the garden to gather whatever was out there; i saw the temperatures were going to plummet while we were gone.

then david and i piled ourselves and all of our booth stuff in the rental car and headed out.


and it was oh, so nice to arrive at chris and rogers lovely home in the late afternoon. to spend a warm, cozy evening knitting and catching up with friends.


i was so excited about the prospect of getting some knitting done that after dinner, i plunked myself into a chair and barely moved all evening. i worked on my wake and eddy cowl—a new design that i’m knitting in spirit trail birte, a merino/cashmere/silk DK blend. in fact, i finished it up that evening and this morning i grafted it while i had my coffee.


it’s not blocked yet, but you get the idea—a rich, dramatic  swirl of cables with a bit of openwork; i just love the way it slumps in the shorter version. there is a longer version too, which you can make either flat or as an infinity.

barb knit the flat one; it’s over in the office and i haven’t got a photo but we all just love it. we’ll take some nice photos before we leave for rhinebeck next week. this pattern will go live over rhinebeck weekend. the short version requires one skein of birte and the long version takes two.


somehow, fall well, fell this weekend didn’t it?

when we left home on thursday to go to michigan, it was 80 degrees and by the time we came home two days later, it was 39 or something. i think summer is really over . . . we’re gonna need these kinds accessories on a daily basis now . . .


before i left home i had cast on yet another cowl, using some leftover octoberfest fourth of july from our first fall in full color club and several shades of stone soup DK. when i was done with wake and eddy, i took out my barely begun color work cowl and got busy on it.


i knit on it throughout the next day and only stopped when i realized i was out of the darkest shade of SSDK—now that i’m home, i will finish it up, probably in class tomorrow. this one is a little longer—the better to scrunch up with pockets of warmth. everyone, including me, enjoyed watching its progress as we worked through our classes this weekend. and because of that, maybe this one is my favorite after all . . .


speaking of classes, we had an absolute blast this weekend in our color workshops. judy asked her husband jerry to drive her to michigan for the event—all the way from washington state. and he said yes, which was just our luck because judy is completely lovely.


we had the best time, especially on the final day when all of our weekend’s work culminated in our project immersion.


we learned and swatched and experimented. we did some technique work, yes, but the main point of it all was to experience the interaction of color—and by midday on saturday the lightbulbs were going off and everyone was grinning and chattering over the possibilities.


that was very exciting.

many of the participants chose to work with the red kit and yet each of them created a very different expression with it and marveling at their outcomes. so fun.


interested in exploring color a little more, maybe in the company of good friends? come join us at our rhinebeck after party event in kingston, new york right after rhinebeck weekend. we will be talking about and playing with yarn and color for three days—learn, have fun, and enhance your stash in our popup shop. click here for more details


meanwhile, out in the barn, erica and david were hard at work, setting up and running our booth, which looked beautiful. the hottest seller of the weekend was our delicious cabécou brillant. every last skein we brought was sold by saturday morning. people just make a beeline for that one . . .


of course we brought all of our yarns, but also all sorts of other goodies. with so many people in our ravelry group finishing up ivar sweaters lately, there was a lot of interest in our ivar kits.


rene and highlander were also popular choices for those looking to knit sweaters and almost everyone wanted a good hat or cowl pattern to knit up for holiday gifts.


and now we’re home again and wow, today just flew by. i came back with an armload of blocking to do and plenty of secret knitting as well. and of course, i have to finish up this cowl—maybe tonight while i watch TV; i need to ferret out some leftovers of SSDK in slate, which will require a trip to the office. haha, good thing it’s not far!


this morning i was looking out the kitchen window and noticed a bunch of red tomatoes on the vines—i don’t even know where those are coming from in such chilly weather, when we hardly got this many in july.

and seriously, the green beans? still pumping away; i picked another pound of those this morning too, along with some swiss chard and a few carrots that i pulled to snack on.

well, someone said something about releasing a couple of patterns this evening so i’d better go see about that—i’ll be back in a couple of days with an update of blocked and finished knits.

busy city

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014


last week i mentioned that we were heading out to participate in a large wine and food event downtown and what an adventure it turned out to be! first of all we made new friends all over the place.


i mean, who can resist doughnuts, especially those made by peace, love, and little donuts? and doughnuts with wine?? well, i’ve learned—that’s how we do things in canton OH, haha.

just after setting up our pretty booth, a big storm rolled in that spattered everyone with rain throughout the evening. in fact, at one point the tornado sirens went off and they cleared everyone off the street to get inside under cover.


no matter; it didn’t last long and afterward, everyone came out ready to party. the event was absolutely PACKED and the rain just made everyone duck under the tents to congregate around the booths—perfect. and we got to have fun too—i tasted a few wines that i really liked, my favorite being fagus, a grenache that comes from a 90-year-old vine. it was very dry with a wonderful clove scent. mmm-mm.


of the non-wine offerings, this was my personal favorite—chocolates by erin. this is what i brought home for a treat at the end of the night.

what a fun event; we didn’t sell a lot but we gave out tons of cards and invitations to our grand opening party next weekend (which i jokingly refer to as the GOP).photoShoot09_17

once vintage canton was over, we all had to scurry to get everything finalized for our september purple club release. we had a very specific look we wanted for the photo shoot, which required just the right kind of streetscape. i love the way everything turned out, thanks to david and sarah and our models quentin and sheyanne.

and of course there is no rest for the wicked—as soon as this month’s samples were off the needles, it was time to get serious about other projects that have been queued up, including cooking for the week ahead and catching up with things around the house.


i’m not joking when i say i’m still picking tons of beans every few days; they just won’t stop. i picked three or four pounds of them on sunday and since they were a bit big, just roasted the whole lot (thank you cathy). some i coated in sesame oil with chile garlic sauce and some coated in truffle oil, salt, and pepper. these were ziplocked away into the freezer for future meals.


meanwhile, i had some smaller ones i’d saved aside from the previous batch to make a big pan of those stir-fried beans i showed you last week. i could eat those every night; we had them on sunday with salmon, fresh dug, crisp-roasted potatoes (jealous??), and fresh sweet corn.


yeah, the potatoes are gonna be the next tidal wave—we have so many out there and they did SO well this year that i’m actually a little frightened. every time i go out to dig some, i get all i need from one or two hills—these took longer to hose off than they took to dig, haha. we might have to store them right where they are and dig as we need them; i don’t think we have room anywhere to keep them in the house.


I’ve spent a good deal of my “free” time in the last week on swatching—in addition to several secret projects in various stages of planning and knitting, i’ve got some gorgeous birte DK from spirit trail fiberworks with which to design a new scarf/cowl in time for jen to release it in her booth at rhinebeck.


i love this sludgy dark blue-gray, the color of an oil slick. it’s called bog shadows; isn’t that appropriate? i found a pattern i liked right away—one big motif with a cable running right up the center. it’ll be so striking but SO simple—just the thing to make a few of for holiday gifting.


along with that dark color, jen also sent this rich, ocean blue that fades in some areas to teal and olive; another winner. and look—jen has a BUNCH of birte on her sale page right now, many colors still have two left (which is what you’ll need for a nice sized scarf with some leftovers)


i’m also gunning right along on my colorwork projects for fall classes—this is one version of my new mass transit cowl which is being released the first weekend of october. i’m knitting it in one colorway of briar rose fourth of july along with two shades of stone soup DKmarble and granite. next i’m going to knit the exact same pattern with the same colors, but in a different arrangement and i think you’ll be amazed at what a big visual difference that will make.

(these are awfully fun projects . . . they make me want to abandon all my responsibilities, run away to a remote cabin in the woods, and knit every variation i can think of for the next month or so from just these two patterns. does that make me a bad person??)


i have my boilermaker cowl (also a future release) knit to the point where i really need to add a third shade, but put it aside because that shade has not yet arrived from the mill. i  might just go ahead and work with another one; trying to decide . . .

our plan is to make everything available during the yarn in the barn event weekend. if you can’t make it to michigan, we’ll bring it to you at home—we’ll offer kits right here combining our undyed bare naked wools with chris’s beautiful fourth of july in four different colorways so you can knit along with us from home.

i’m excited—are you excited?


and finally, needles are in the shop—both our retail space and our online store. and if you want some, you better get them before i cannibalize the rack—i’ve already taken one pair (to knit my second cowl!)

emily and erica are going through the website a little at a time to add links to the pattern pages for the right needles along with yarn suggestions.

we are all working hard this week making final preparations for our grand opening days next weekend—i hope you’ll try to stop in if you live nearby. i promise it will be worth it; we have some awesome door prizes for one thing. we’ll be drawing names every hour, but you have to be present to win.

alright now, somebody said something about working g hard and that would apply to me too—i better go over to the office and see where i’m needed.