dock and cabin

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, patterns

i’m excited—today is the day that we’re releasing my very favorite design of this winter’s ensemble collection: dock and cabin cardigan, knit in stone soup fingering yarn.

this replica of one of my oldest and dearest sweaters, which i designed and knit back in the 1990s, has been several years in the making.

originally knit in morehouse merino 2 ply sport yarn, i had planned to reknit it many times, and even bought the yarn once, but always put it off in favor of more urgent projects.

i think i sort of doubted my ability to recreate it exactly, or that reknitting it might not reproduce the magic of a sweater i loved so much.

it’s not that i didn’t have a pattern—i did—meticulously handwritten notes for every step of the process (being that it was designed and knit before computers were a fact of life). i just knew there were some challenging parts that i wasn’t sure would translate to a range of sizes or that i could even reknit successfully again in one size.

then my dear friend stone soup fingering came into my life and after knitting one favorite sweater with it, i knew i had to reknit my old favorite in it too (and of course, it would be luscious in better breakfast fingering or ginny sport as well!). i pulled five skeins in color pumice and set to work.

once i got started, my confidence in my dog-eared, handwritten pattern solidified and i was off to the races. the details i worried over actually came together very well—i remembered a lot more than i thought i would.

i won’t lie, an oversized cardigan like this entails a lot of knitting, but with little fit or shaping involved, it’s easy to settle into a rhythm with a fun stitch pattern to watch unfurl, some cabling to keep it goal oriented, and the knowledge that a wearable beauty would be mine at the end.

and the fabric was just what i had hoped—very much like the original, but now in our own yarn. this size weighs just 17 ounces—not bad at all for a good sized slouchy sweater. i love it so much i am already contemplating another; just have to decide which yarn to use . . . or maybe the same yarn in a different shade—i love it that much.

let’s talk a bit about the sizing and fit, because you might be surprised to see that there are just three sizes, with a wide spread of measurements for each. this garment is intended to be oversized—i wear mine with approximately twelve inches of ease. that said, each size will accommodate more than one size person, so my small/medium sample looks equally great on turner, alex, barb, cherie, and cynthia, though we all wear different sizes in a sweater with a more traditional fit.

the fabric of this sweater is very light and airy, so it drapes against the body beautifully—i.e., all that extra ease does not add poundage the way a stiffer fabric with more body would do. also, while this is a drop-shoulder style, i still added some armhole shaping and a sloping sleeve cap, so as not to end up with a lot of extra fabric under the arms, the way a straight, boxy drop-shoulder sweater would have.

it’s still plenty roomy so that you can wear a heavy shirt or use it as a jacket over layers, but the shaping makes the fabric fall around our curves and not bunch up in bulky folds.

and it looks great on guys as well—a totally sharable knit, should you be so inclined. for everyone who told me they were awaiting this pattern, i hope you’ll start one soon and share with us in our ravelry group! this is wonderful knit for long winter evenings and snow days . . .

tweel

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, patterns

this weekend’s ensemble release is a new wool skirt—tweel—which is the scots gaelic word for twill. knit in airy kent dK, with its gorgeous sheen and drape, this skirt is a classic. from its eye-catching herringbone twill fabric that’s a dead-ringer for a woven version, to its beautifully wrought cables along the princess lines, this is one skirt you’ll pull on over and over again.

the skirt is designed to be a companion piece and extension of my herringweave sweater design. the two could be worn as separates, coordinates, or a suit—except this suit would be cozy and comfy to wear all day on the go, at work, or in meetings.

the way we knitters like our clothes to be . . . plus, nothing is as snuggly in cold weather as a hand knit skirt; like wearing your favorite little throw out of the house—only stylish.

i’m a big fan of separates and coordinates over dresses; for one thing, i can usually find a better fit with separates . . .

this skirt has an elastic waist with the flexibility to accommodate a waist-to-hip differential of up to twelve inches. even if you pull the elastic to fit a small waist like our mannequin has, it won’t look make lot of deep gathers or look “dirndl-y”. you can pull in up to about one-third of the waist circumference without experiencing bulk.

and i like the option of swapping bottoms and tops around so that, with a fewer pieces i can produce a wardrobe of outfits.

here we pair the skirt with a lightweight textured pullover in a dark shade that has a smooth fit, giving the whole outfit a neat, tucked-in appearance.

and here, we switched out the trim pullover for an oversized casual cardigan in a lighter color—more of a saturday look and super-comfy at that. the tone on tone oatmeal shades look fab and modern, like shades of sand—you can get away with it in neutrals, but maybe not with a  bunch of colors.

working with a group of separates also gives me the chance to mix textures in different ways—one of the outfits above plays around with allover field textures and the other juxtaposes cables of different types and scale. (and yes, this roomy cardigan is coming up for release soon, too!)

i like having these options and not being married to just one way of wearing a garment.

a lot of knitters are suspicious of the hand knit skirt from a behavior standpoint—probably the most frequent question i’m asked about them is, don’t they stretch and bag out after a little while?

it is for exactly this purpose that i wear my skirt designs myself. i find that careful design and choice of yarn are the keys to skirt success. i mentioned the elastic waist earlier for an easy solution to a customized fit at the waist. these skirts are sized to fit smoothly over the upper hips to accentuate the right stuff and then just at the hip apex, a little flare allows ease for movement, sitting, and bending without producing a saggy seat.

and lastly, fabric. choosing a yarn that blooms and produces a self-supporting fabric that is light and stable will keep the skirt from dragging down; fibers that lock themselves together after washing will recover better when stressed (as in sitting). overly soft yarns that lack body could let you down in a garment like this.

i design skirts because i like them; it’s as simple as that. i write up the patterns for my favorites because i think you might like them too. besides, a skirt is a pretty quick and easy knit; definitely worth taking a chance on.

herringweave cardigan

Posted on 14 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, designing

it’s finally time for our 2017 ensemble look book rollout; do you love it??

from the response we’ve gotten so far, it seems that you do and that makes me glad. rolling out a new collection (plus club packages and more) means that i don’t get to spend as much time here on the blog as i’d like; i’ve been looking forward to a chance to chat.

yesterday we got to present the beautiful volta shawl design, knit in our cabécou sport by the incredibly talented and popular susanna IC, who i have just loved working with (and there are more BNWs designs from her to come; SO exciting!). and we have so many other designers to present whose work i admire.

but back to me, haha.

today, i get to tell you that one of my own designs is now available for purchase—the herrigweave cardigan, knit in our kent DK yarn in the driftwood shade (kits available here).

while i’m not privy to the processes that our other designers use, one thing i enjoy about my own process is having all of you to talk to when i get hung up on decisions. you are the best sounding board i know. even when i think i know the answer, i can ask what you think and you’ll tell me your honest opinion right away. most often it confirms the direction i already thought i’d be taking, but sometimes it surprises me. sometimes a surprise changes my viewpoint and other times, it doesn’t. but the interchange is so interesting and i love you for engaging with me while i bring designs to fruition.

i remember getting to the end of the first front shoulder and wondering if all that cable detail was just too much. but you loved it, so that helped me step back and realize i was just spending too much time close up to it. also, the proportion will change across the size range so it’s important that it still has impact as it does.

and i always like to bring you in on the button decisions because that’s what we do! choosing buttons is important and we have so many beautiful options in natural bone, horn, and shell available in our online store. we can even help you find a good match for your yarn if you drop us a note.

this view makes me appreciate the drama of the whole neckline and shoulder; it was a very popular shot on instagram when i ran it there, letting me know i had done the right thing to keep all those cables.

they are rich and eyecatching AND they serve to stabilize the sweater in all the right places so it keeps its shape beautifully—important if you wear your sweaters a LOT, like i do. i always marvel too at how much mileage i get from my skeins of bare naked wools—they go on and on; a sweater like this with generous length takes only about four skeins. click here to check out our kits.

after our big photo shoot weekend in early december, styled by our awesome new media and program director, hannah, i was finally free to wear this cardigan. just in time for the cold weather, too!

while i have knit many times with our kent DK yarn, most of those knits are shop samples and i still did not have a sweater of my own in it to wear—so this was it.

the verdict?

O.M.G. i had no idea. this yarn, spun from long, lustrous romney wool and soft, springy merino, is one that i characterize in my mind as “sturdy”, but i can’t say enough how it is also soft and airy—so much so, that what appears here to be a thick sweater is actually light and flexible. all that air of course translates to a cozy feel when i’m inside it; i love getting that warmth without the weight.

i’ve been wearing this cardigan several times a week since december; it’s become a workhorse garment in just a short time. in fact, i would love another one, maybe a size bigger and longer to wrap up in and layer over other things. ask anyone who works here and they might even say they get a little tired of seeing it. hmm, better get that second one on the needles soon . . .

if i do another i might go with the confection sport yarn for my second version; that’s another yarn that’s not represented in my sweater drawer. now to decide which shade; what do you think?

in a few days we’ll be looking at this design again, this time in the pullover version that i knit for david, which is included in the cardigan pattern (and a vest!). i’m hoping that just maybe, i can sweet-talk him into pulling it on and modeling it for us. we’ll see how that goes, haha.

barely civilized

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, designing

BNWsLandscape12_27

as we prepare the last installment of the über-fun pairings club—and we are totally going to do another round of this one in the future—we are hard at work planning our next fiber journey, venturing into the fiber wilds with the bare naked knitspot 2017 club as your guide.

after skipping a year, the BNK is back by popular demand—it’s the club most-requested  by previous participants. i am SO excited about the menu we’ve got lined up for our fourth iteration of BNK, which is obviously a favorite; we are going around the world to places we’ve not traveled before and “tasting” new fibers in each one.

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HA! none of them are shown here, but the range of colors in this photo tells a story of sophistication—there is SO much color and texture and luxury to be experienced along the way; are you ready?

we’ll be working with suppliers new to us as well as offering some selections from our own bare naked wools—but i am thrilled to tell you that as of this writing, every single one of our club picks will be custom spun in unique blends just for us—you’ll need to join the club to get them first. between now and the time we begin shipping in mid-february, you can let your mind run wild with possibilities.

for this series, we are focusing on lace shawls and scarves, also a favorite of clubbies (as well as many knitters who are not yet clubbies, but hopefully planning to be). we’ll do easy lace and some that is more challenging (that’s why being part of the club is so great—a support system), a variety of constructions, and we’ll work with all yarn weights, but none so fine that you can’t manage. i’m very excited about this design challenge and about knitting the projects myself!

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this is going to be fun. but don’t take my word for it—visit our swinging ravelry clubhouse, where our warm and friendly group will surround you with assurance—as well and fun and games. also check out the club web page where david explains everything you need to know about joining up. if you still have questions, email us ANY time and someone will help you out.