Archive for the ‘designing’ Category

new territory

Thursday, November 26th, 2015


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

we are away for holiday—we left canton on tuesday for albany and my mom’s house (lots of driving and more to come!).


just a quick overnight though; the three of us  traveled to vermont yesterday to spend the holiday with my cousin’s family, who have a house on grand isle in the middle of lake champlain.


we got to take a ferry to island at the end of a long (but very beautiful) drive up the northway. we got to the house just as it was getting dark; i can’t WAIT to get out for a run and explore; i’ve never been here before.

the last few days before we left home were crazy busy getting ready—between work and holiday prep, there was more than enough to fill a few 24-hour days, haha. you know me, i always overcommit and it sorta backs up on me whenever it’s time to leave town.


on saturday erica and i took our little boutique on the road to a local knitting retreat, where about thirty people were gathered to knit and visit for a whole weekend (sounds great, right??). i don’t even think this group has a name; they just like to knit together.


we were so happy to be included in the saturday events—everyone was just so nice to us and treated us so well (thank you again, knitters!). no classes or anything, just lots of fun food, fun people, and well, fun.


we set up the popup shop, i talked for a little bit, and then everyone shopped and we knitted with them for a few hours more. it was so fab!


i worked on my skirt (more on that in a minute) while i chatted with knitters on one side of the room. it’s nearly done but these last few rounds seem to be going slower than all the others.


erica sat on the other side of the room working on her mountain peaks wrap while chatting with the other knitters. this is her first lace project and she’s making great progress, don’t you think?

it was a lovely day; thank you again for inviting us to participate!


bright and early the next morning i had an early meetup scheduled with a pumpkin and a whole lot of gluten free flours. almost every morning these days,  i cannot believe my ears when the alarm goes off—is it me, or are hours for sleep actually growing shorter and shorter?

yeah, it might just be me, huh?


anyway, still bleary eyed from sleep, i started peeling my 3.5 pound pumpkin while the coffee perked. just standing up and smelling coffee made me feel better, hee-hee.

i like the flavor that i get from roasting pumpkin, but i don’t like the mess it sometimes makes and i definitely did not have time on sunday to clean the oven afterward. so i peeled and cut it up in chunks and roasted them, keeping an eye out that they didn’t brown too much. well, that worked a treat—i got some nice color and caramelization, but they remained fairly dry. i steamed them for a few minutes afterward for good measure and to prevent the outer surfaces from being leathery. the only thing was . . . it didn’t make quite enough, arggh. i need another half cup or so, dang it.


fortunately i had a nice row of butternut squashes from our garden on a basement shelf. i cut up the smallest of those and steamed the chunks for a few minutes to augment the pumpkin and also to use in the next recipe i made.


for this second one, i cooked up all of our smaller sweet potatoes to use in a recipe for gluten free sweet potato rolls; i was excited to try these as well as another bread recipe. this would be my first voyage into GF bread making. i’ll admit, i put this off til the last minute because was nervous. i used to bake all my own bread and i know it takes time to develop a hand for the process, as well as an arsenal of good recipes.


but i had committed to bringing bread, so here we go! GF bread starts out more like a very stretchy batter—i think there are some waffle and quick bread foods that are made like this.


so i set up two types of dough from two authors who use differing methods, in case one would work better than the other. the looser dough (top photo) did rise faster, but the drier dough was a little easier to work with.


while they rose i made my pie and a pan of GF pumpkin squares from the leftover filling (i always make too much filling)


but i love pumpkin squares as much as i love pumpkin pie so it’s all good. i just used my old recipe for these and subbed in GF flour; that has been working pretty well for simpler recipes.


while the pies were in the oven, i shaped my bread loaves and rolls from the dough that had now risen fully (yay). this was the trickiest part—the dough is extremely tacky and wet, requiring a scrape and fold method rather than the familiar hands on kneading i am used to.


but eventually i got the hang of it and soon the sweet potato rolls and a loaf were rising.

then i repeated the process with the whole grain dough from which i made two small boules.

the sweet potato loaf was rising fast so i got that into the oven as soon as my pie came out. suddenly i had a bit of a traffic jam of items that needed to get in the oven, ack! the breads worked out fine but unfortunately, the rolls ended up over proofing and did not fare as well (my bad; i should have moved them to a cool spot when i first noticed they were rising too quickly).


baking done for the day, it was time to turn back to my knitting. my skirt was nearly done before the weekend started but when i put it on the form for its second fitting, i realized it was getting much too long and there would not be room to complete the hem and keep it the length i wanted.


the shape is pretty though—i like it. so again i ripped back a good deal to start the hem at an earlier point.


and here’s what it looked like yesterday morning—almost done!


i knit in the car all the way to vermont and a little bit last evening, so it’s a little further along the you see here. i literally have just two or three rows to go now, but i may run short of yarn (ARRgghh!!). i hope not, but if i do it will be a quick finish once i get home.


i have plenty of other knitting to work on this weekend—my red scarf prototype and a new shawl in our cabécou lace yarn. i brought plenty of yarn and needles to get started on those—in fact a totally unrealistic amount, haha.


have a wonderful holiday wherever you are—i hope you get to knit as much as you want at least for one day. happy thanksgiving!

red all over

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015


yesterday an important envelope of goodies arrived just in time to examine its contents at our weekly company meeting—red dye dips from our friend rita at yarn hollow, for our red scarf project.


SO many beautiful reds! for each red, rita gave us a series of variations. it’s hard to see in the photos because the variations are quite subtle; probably in a swatch they would show up more.

we asked for a red that leaned a little toward blue this time, as festivus 1.0 was more orange in tone. some of the choices are more blue than others—similar to the crime scene colorway i used a few years ago from skeinny dipping.

the jester red (second from the left in the previous photo) is the one we’re most smitten with; it kind of falls in between those two and stands out from the other options with a bright glow, neither orangey nor purply, but a deep berry red.


JR2 and JR5 are our favorites among all the jesters.

the color experiments were not dyed on our actual base, just something generic that rita had on hand.


next, she picked the three colors she liked best and dyed up some sets on our confection sport base (100% corriedale), using the natural fiber shades to tone the single color into five gradients.


omigosh the yarn came out so soft! i was really worried about this as sometimes, a single breed yarn will not survive the dye process without getting roughed up a bit. but it performed like a champ—well, a soft-hearted champ . . .


we were surprised at how the color changed on the corriedale fiber; it is slightly more blue and much richer with a gorgeous sheen; this fiber clearly absorbs dye well and very evenly. the yarn fairly glows with red light.


even the dark chocolate shade came out a beautiful, deep burnished red. two of the middle shades—nougat and cookies and cream—did not show much differential after dying, so we will eliminate one and go with sets of four (the red scarf design can also be knit in an array of neutral shades from any of our yarn lines).

erica has created a listing to preorder these red yarn kits, offered in a range of sizes that include from one to four ounces of each shade (pattern will be sold separately). the set of one-ounce skeins will make a nice cowl or hat, while the bigger sets will be enough for a scarf and hat or a wrap. skeins of confection sport range from 93.5 yards (one ounce) to 375 yards (four ounce).

we will donate 10 percent of the kit price to the scholarship fund. your preorders will help us decide how much yarn to have dyed; we don’t want to run short!


and while we will be knitting ours into variations of this year’s red scarf fundraiser pattern, you can use them for any project you’d like or give them to a friend—they make a wonderful swap gift!


alright now, in other news, i had a bit of a setback on my skirt when i tried it on myself and my dress form over the weekend.


it looked nice and it fit, too, but drat—much too slim for the skirt i had in mind. with this fit, it was likely to end up bagging out if sat in for any length of time . . .


it wasn’t tight, mind you, but also didn’t have that nice A-line shape i was after; oh poo.

there just weren’t enough increases (i had been doing one per panel) and they were too far apart (cue in the sound of ripping out stitches). i took it all the way back to the end of the hip pattern.


i worked hard to catch up and by last night i was back to the same point. i think you can even see on the needles that the panels flare a little more now.


onto the form again on monday morning and i am much happier with it. in fact, i may just put a couple more rows between each increase when i write up the pattern, as it is just a little fuller than i intended. on the other hand, i do like the way it naturally pleats up with the motif, so i will make that decision after blocking. the hem looks a little stiff with the string through it, but that will drape better once the fabric is soaked and washed.


it’s still nicely fitted in the waist and high hip with a minimum of bulk, but below that point, it flares away from the body so that when we sit in it, it will not stretch the fabric.


this morning i worked on it some more over coffee and got it to the point where the hem pattern begins. isn’t it sharp? i love how the kent DK works up—soft and squishy, at the same time it has such excellent stitch definition and a lovely sheen.


even though i really should have been at my desk working on some patterns, i couldn’t resist getting a few rows into the hem design. i’ll work on it some more at open knit night this evening and hopefully by tomorrow, i’ll be into the final stretch.


i desperately want to test drive it by wearing it for thanksgiving (especially since it’s supposed to get much colder by this time next week).

once the skirt is off the needles, i need to move right on to a couple of other projects. one of which is my red scarf sample, so i can get the pattern ready for a november 25th release (my sample knit probably won’t be done by then, but if figure we can all knit along together as we did last year).


and second, a tantalizing new shawl design to be included in our january BNWs collection. more on that in the next post . . .


speaking of thanksgiving, i’ve promised to make a gluten free pumpkin pie and some bread, so i will be taking a little time to do that over the weekend. i’m getting excited about the holiday; david and i will be traveling to albany to visit my mom and the three of us will spend the holiday with family at their summer house on lake champlain in vermont.

ok, that’s all for now—i’ve got to skedaddle.

that is one big truck

Thursday, November 12th, 2015


spent the week so far writing and correcting patterns, working on my skirt, and madly swatching for the red scarf project (so glad everyone is excited to get on board!).we are working on a followup version of our celebrated festivus yarn, this time working with our confection sport and possibly confection worsted, too.


to get started, i’ve been swatching my designated red scarf motif in shades of confection sport. i started on size 7US (4.5 mm) needles, using four shades and changing every four rows. i love the effect, but with all those yarn ends, i think this pattern is better suited to a circular construction, so i’m earmarking it for the hat and cowl set. Also, while well suited for a hat, the fabric is stiffer than i would like for a scarf so i need to move up to a bigger needle.


test driving it on size 8US (5.0 mm) produced a light, soft, drapey fabric that still holds its shape (rebounds nicely when stretched) and has excellent stitch definition. it’s got depth all day and feels super cushy to squeeze in my hands. in this larger swatch, i changed shades every half repeat and used all five shades.

still, for a scarf or wrap, it could be lighter and drapier—in my opinion. i got to wondering just how far i could push the needle size; at what point would the fabric ever be too loose?


i got out my size 9US (5.5 mm), which is really stretching it to create a fairly solid fabric from most sport weight yarns, but we find that our BNWs have an almost unending level of loft; give them enough room and they will grow into it, while maintaining a cohesive fabric with integrity. the swatch (above) looked good; lighter and airier than on the smaller needles, perhaps with a bit less recovery. but enough to keep its shape in a scarf or wrap.


into a hot, soapy bath it went to remove spinning oil, dust, and to bring the yarn back to its original twist.


by this morning it was dry and looked great—still showing good stitch definition, even stitches, and nice body. the overall fabric is a little more translucent, allowing light to filter through and fill up the fabric til it glowed.

so here’s what i’m thinking—because i have so many ideas already for what could be done with this stitch pattern and combining shades. what do you think of knitting the scarf and wrap sideways, with the long edge as the cast on and bind off? then the shades could be worked across; i think that would be fun and different; also very easy to turn into a cowl, yes?


THEN, we would have two spinoff patterns—one for a hat and cowl in this pattern on smaller needles. it will be much easier to deal with the color changes when working in the round. and what a cute ski cap and gaiter that would be!

the other spinoff would be a blanket/wrap/scarf pattern (ala wheaten or sky ladder) for the confection worsted yarn, to knit in horizontal stripes from bottom to top.

want a little peek at a VERY rough draft of what this might look like in color?


it’s very crude; just something i whipped up in photoshop. we’re not even sure if we are going with five shades or four. we will definitely make the solid red options available as well, along with choices for natural shades and solids.

the yarn will be named festivus 2.0 and i think i’ll name the color gradients for santa’s reindeer, with rudolph being the brightest, naturally.

i also have to think of a names for the three projects; i’d like to stick to ski themes (as opposed to holiday-specific ones or color references); i think the stitch pattern looks like ski slopes and carving in the snow. if you have suggestions, please add in comments (short, punch names are best; non-english words are welcome!).


all sorts of excitement back at the ranch this morning when a HUGE truck made its way up 15th street and stopped at the end of my block, clearly unable to make the turn. seriously, it was the biggest truck i ever saw.


it was the yarn truck.
i knew we were expecting a long-awaited delivery but i didn’t know it would arrive with such fanfare, haha. i had to run out and show the driver where the shop was located in the back alley.


our LONG awaited shipment of stone soup yarns has arrived!


we are beside ourselves with happiness; all summer long people were asking us about this yarn and why we didn’t have it at the shows (not our choice, believe me!).

along with a few boxes that also came last week, we are now restocked in all shades and skein sizes, at least for a little while (this yarn is popular!). it will take a few days to get it all unpacked, counted, weighed, labelled, and logged into the store, but if you’ve been waiting, it won’t be long now.

and i have it on good authority that next week we should be getting a big shipment of chebris worsted so that vendange sweater knitting may commence.


last night was knit night in our shop. susan worked on her oatmeal stout cowl in a variety of yarn, amanda worked on her monkey bread hat in a super soft mink/cashmere blend, donna knit on a roger that blanket in briar rose abundance that she is knitting for her husband,  and barb worked on her cam cable pullover in better breakfast DK, color poppy seed.


you might remember that i knit one of these in kent DK (color kelp) back in the winter (wow, feels like yesterday to me).


the pattern and photography have been completed for some time, but once it got warm in the summer, we decided to hold off on the release til it got cold again. we will include this garment in the january ensemble collection i was telling you about last week.


i worked on my skirt, both at the shop and then after dinner once i was back in the house. i added a few inches just in one evening.


i put a few more rnds on this morning with my coffee. i think it’s looking really nice; before the next blog i’ll take it off the needles once more to check the shaping; i’ll be sure to take photos when i do, hopefully with it on myself.


this yarn—kent DK, color driftwood—is so rich and has such incredible depth; it’s kind of hard to photo graph sometimes because, being a lustre fiber, it reflects light from it’s polished exterior. look at that upper left corner; it’s almost metallic.


so rich, sigh . . . whenever i’m away from it all i can think about is the next time we’ll be together . . .

oops, time for me to wrap things up here; i have an appointment in an hour and i’ve done nothing with my hair today. tata!

thirteen miles on the erie canal

Monday, November 9th, 2015


another cold but gloriously sunny morning for the third annual second sole made in america race. i’m a happy camper if we are lucky enough not to have a high wind for the event and today we got lucky indeed.


mister knitspot accompanied me to the start line to take a few photos; i use a phone app to track my pace along the route.


the race is run almost entirely on the wooded paths that hug the edge of the ohio & erie canal where it runs through the neighboring town of massillon. one of these years i will remember to take photos along the way; the tree-lined route is so pretty this time of year!

unfortunately, no photos of the finish; david was staying warm and dry in a nearby coffee shop when i crossed the line, a little earlier than i expected. i didn’t think i’d end up with a good time today; i’ve been running regularly, but have not been putting in many longer training runs (early fall is so busy with travel, etc., i tend to skimp on training as i should). but thanks to a good base of every day workouts, i managed to pull out a decent time anyway; i’m sure i’ll pay for that tomorrow, haha.

meanwhile back at the ranch, four large and heavy boxes arrived this week form our ohio mill, packed tight with favorite yarns that were sold out for a while.


shades of better breakfast DK and fingering yarn, plus the long awaited ginny DK (i have been coveting a caïssa sweater in this yarn myself, maybe the mississippi shade . . . or should i do georgia?)


AND, hemp, hemp, hemp, in all shades, both lace and fingering weight. if you’ve been waiting on these yarns for say and atlantique top or a freefall stole, now is the time to pounce; they are all restocked.

i spent the week immersed in a spate of secret knitting projects which meant i didn’t have much to blog about (sorry!). now that those are done, i can turn back to some works in progress that i’m excited about.


my wool skirt (which i’m knitting in our kent DK, color driftwood)is coming along nicely and actually, it was good to spend some time looking at it from afar, adding to it only a bit. today i ran a waste yarn through the sts and took it off the needles to get a better look at how it’s shaping up.


first of all i am very happy with the shaping; the idea here is to achieve an elegant A-line shape, not too full at the bottom, but definitely nothing close to a pencil skirt either—i’m pretty sure that a more form-fitting shape would bag out after sitting in it a bit, whereas one that loosens at the hip to fall into slight folds will not. the waist will be elastic, but i don’t want too much gathering there (i avoid the dirndl shape at all costs, haha).

the inspiration for this design comes from my attraction to the wonderful skirts i’ve seen offered by activewear companies like ibex and title nine. i have a couple and they are terrific for adding a layer over tights or leggings—like a sweater for your legs. plus they travel really well.


(right now my sample looks just a  little bulky where the casing folds over at the waist, but the fabric will be much sleeker and have a lovely, light drape after blocking—that waist will flatten out nicely.)

i’ve been happy to put it on hold for a few days because i’m waffling about whether to add another repeat of the diagonal texture pattern to the top portion. my original design plan was to use the texture around the top, where the flattering diagonals would carry the eye downward. below the hip, “stripes” of ribbing would lend a more streamlined appearance, with increases in the between panels to shape the flare. then at the hem, one repeat of the texture pattern, enlarged by the increased stitch count.


what i can’t decide is if i should add another repeat of diagonals around the hips. i’m worried that once a shirt or top is added to the outfit, most of the pattern will be hidden and the skirt will look too plain. i’m not that far past the point where a second repeat could be added; i wouldn’t lose much by ripping back now. whole thing will end just above the knee (about four inches below the body of the dress form), so there isn’t a huge canvas with which to work. what do you think? if i have more pattern at the top, will i lose the illusion of that sleek length? decisions, decisions . . . hmmm, i wonder if i can photoshop a mockup?


well it turns out i can! and i’m so glad i did—because i absolutely hate it.
WAY too much, right? yeah . . SO wrong; we totally lose that sleek vertical line.


it looks infinitely more tailored and sophisticated without, i think. plus, it gives more wiggle room for changing the length and keeping the design intact.

wow, thanks you guys for helping me work that out. now i can stay calm and knit on, haha.


in other knitting news, i am swatching once again—this time for the annual red scarf project and our related scholarship fundraiser pattern. yes, it’s that time of year again, when we ramp up for the holidays by rallying together to make a good thing happen. you can read about the details in blog posts from previous decembers or at the foster care to success website.

in a nutshell, the organization lends assistance to kids who have aged out of the foster care system and are navigating an upward path by putting themselves through college. these students do not have the support of a family, so we try to pitch in with help.

here at knitspot, what began as a participation in the annual scarf drive has evolved—through your abundant generosity—to include a separate knitspot scholarship fundraiser. i create a special, original scarf pattern each year (which can be knit for the scarf drive or not) and all december sales of it generate our funding.


for the last three years, our scholarship has been awarded to brandy, who is enrolled as a junior in the curatorial studies program at washington university. we have watched her grow as a student and hope to help her finish out with a successful senior year in 2016/17; our funding helps to reduce some of the financial stress of putting herself through college.

we really enjoyed your excitement and participation that resulted from getting the pattern out early last year, so we plan to do it again! we should have the pattern ready right around thanksgiving (last year it was released on 11/25, our marriage anniversary, so i’m thinking that repeating that might be a nice touch).

by popular demand from readers, we will offer options to purchase the pattern at various price levels for those that want to give a little more (thank you so SO much for suggesting we enable your generosity!).


we are also putting together a kit in the seasonal “festivus” yarn—i KNOW! it will be a different base this year and we are working with a favorite dyer to get the perfect 2015 red. AND, we are thinking gradients, since they are so popular—i KNOW!! i think this will be a terrific update for our community project, providing oodles of possibility for participants to put their own stamp on the design, plus generate even more dollars for the fund.

while we await the dye samples (which should be arriving any day now), i am swatching a motif i’ve had my eye on with shades of our confection sport. we are so excited about this project—there are so many possibilities for options. i’m pretty sure the pattern will have not only the traditional scarf and cowl versions, but a wrap as well—one of those warm squishy manLace type rectangles.

so stay tuned and start planning—there will be several ways that you can help get the word out to make this our most successful year yet. i’ll be back soon with a swatching samples, dye dips, and more information!