Archive for the ‘designing’ Category

knit, knit, knit . . .

Monday, October 24th, 2016


hello, hello, hello! SO good to be back; thank you for your patience over the last couple of weeks while i was away and THANK YOU especially for your enthusiastic response to the release of my book, the lace lessons.

so much has been going on behind the scenes during and just after the book release; i have tons of stuff to share with you, including lots of knitting and travel.


at the beginning of the month, erica and i went to athens, OH to participate in the athens area fiber faire.


lots of friends visited our booth at this show; some of them even brought finished knitspot projects to show us.


we were especially pleased when little anne and her family came to visit.


with knitting in tow. anne has been making steady progress on a cowl project, helped along by the knitting group at her local library. Brava!


i brought along an easy to knit project from the lace lessons book—his silk kerchief in ecobutterfly organic cotton sport, color forest mist. i love this soft, delicious yarn which is spun from cotton that grows in colors. this was the perfect project to bring; easy enough to pick up and put down throughout the weekend as the traffic to our booth ebbed and flowed.


i cast on just before we left and by the time i got home on monday morning, it was nearly done. i did have to put it aside for a while tho, to work through the last push for the book. in my next post, i’ll show you some finished photos taken after our rhinebeck trip.


at the show i purchased a couple of thrifty finds—the first is this 100 percent wool afghan kit in gradient gold-to-brown colors. the kit includes a sheet (yes, just one!) with several different patterns printed on the back. i don’t think this pattern would pass muster in today’s market, but it’s a wonderful souvenir of what was available when i was growing up. not sure who will end up knitting this yarn up, but i couldn’t resist the bargain.


my other treasure is this book about wool as a textile fiber that is absolutely fascinating—it is a more or less scientific handbook that must have been used as a text for a class when it was published. the cool thing is that it confirms a lot of information i have heard over the years about the molecular properties of wool and its behavior, but have had a hard time confirming in my own research. so, i always hesitate in passing this information on as fact, but now i have something to point to and to use as a starting point for finding other sources. and for just $3, how about that?


just before leaving, i had finished up the last piece of my little eyelet cardigan, knit in chebris lace yarn (color frappé), and blocked everything.


i brought my pieces along to add button bands and neck finish, and maybe start some seaming on the trip. luckily, i was able to get most of that done in our room during the evenings and mornings, when it was quiet.


i can’t remember if i took this photo before or after it was washed, but didn’t it turn out cute? and it used just one and a half skeins of yarn; i love that!


i had been waiting for this one to be done so i could wash all three of my new sweaters at the same time, giving them a long soak in hot soapy water, then spinning out in the washer and air-drying. they look great.


once they were clean, i added buttons to dock and cabin so i could wear it to rhinebeck, just one of the small tasks i was supposed to accomplish during deadline week, but only managed to do as i was packing the night before we left, haha.


i held off on adding buttons to the lace cardigan; we had a set of moving mud glass buttons in our shop that look beautiful with it (above), but i wondered if i might see something at rhinebeck i wanted more. as it turned out, sarina wasn’t at the show this year due to a family emergency, so i will move ahead with the buttons i have.


not having buttons did not prevent us from taking some great photos of the sweater on our scarf model, bethany, who looked spectacular in it. for the longest time i did not know what to call this garment but i think i’ve decided on violet—the tiny florets and leafy edgings remind me of that plant.


right now, i’m knitting another one in stone soup fingering yarn—this time without sleeves to be worn as a pretty little vest; i think it’s going to be so cute! i made some changes in the second prototype—slightly shorter and a bit more nipped in at the waist to add to its femininity. i’ve completed both fronts and most of the back piece now—again, i can hardly believe how far i’ve gotten with just one skein of yarn. i just tied on the second skein, and i bet i won’t use more than half of it . . .


it seems as if everyone is busy working on sweaters right now—donna came to knit night wearing her new triticum knit in briar rose sea pearl.


this perennial favorite fits perfectly and looks so well on her; i’m always so thrilled to see excellent results when knitters wear their FOs to show and tell.


and barb knit up a cricket (hers) pullover from the new BT wool people collection, as fast as can be, right before rhinebeck, in our stone soup fingering yarn (marble shade) paired with the yarn hollow umpqua in faded high tops that was part of her pairings shipment. doesn’t she look the part?


one other thing i made time for before going away was blocking this gorgeous edmonia shawl, knit by agnes and then gifted to me in our fresh lace silk/linen blend. can you believe she gave this to me? it’s SO lovely and i am not deserving!


and i love it; it’s soft and drapey and feels really nice against my neck, which is fairly sensitive (though i can wear most of our BNWs yarns without any discomfort). i just love this one to bits; thank you agnes!

the book was literally moments away from going live when i went to pick up kim from the airport, as she arrived for her usual overnight pre-rhinebeck visit. of course i had planned and then hoped we’d be done well before that time, but oh well . . . once we got home i was able to push all the buttons to finalize it and we were free. time to have fun!


this year we left a day early so we could have one whole, work-free day to relax, knit, and enjoy ourselves in the hudson valley—lord knows i needed that. we caravanned our way east, kim and me in the truck yakking the whole time and barb and erica in the car, doing the same, i’m sure.


on our first day off, we did all the fun things we love, at a leisurely pace. a visit to the CIA for lunch was delish; our meals were fantastic, though the desserts were not as yummy as usual. kim didn’t even finish hers . . .


afterward we strolled the halls for a bit so erica could get a feel for the place; it was her first time there.

it was a really good idea to go early and have this day of rest—the remainder of the weekend was a wild ride. i have lots to share about that and i’ll be back in a day or two to show you more.

the lace lessons

Thursday, October 13th, 2016


for quite a few months we’ve been steadily working on a new book of little nothings scarves and variations and finally now—it’s ready to purchase!

The Lace Lessons is meant to be a useful resource for lace knitters, particularly those who are taking on lace for the first time or struggling to enjoy its allure. While not a formal manual encompassing the whole vast subject of lace knitting by any means, the “lessons” are in the designs themselves—the kind we absorb by example and by doing, and not always related to actual knitting.


The design included are all new, fresh additions to a collection of designs I call “Little Nothings”—a series of simple scarf patterns which has been extremely popular with readers and users.


Each piece features only one overall stitch pattern, like a swatch that is large enough to wear—just enough of a scarf to drive off a chill or add a spot of color to an outfit. These small, lightweight accent pieces work up quickly, travel well, and make excellent learning projects.


for several of the designs, i’ve created new variations as well, that take the motif into a different direction, such as a triangular scarf/shawlette or cowl.


most are one-skein projects—usually one four ounce skein, but some can be knit with just two ounces of yarn, like the mini neckerchief shown above!


the book starts out with a few very simple designs that should be manageable for new lace knitters, in sport and DK weight yarn with simple openwork motifs and lots of solid background.


we fondly call these “husband scarves” because they have unisex appeal and can be knit in a variety of yarns. as is my custom, the patterns include both written and charted instructions—making it a great resource for teaching yourself to knit from charts if you desire.


but we all know they are not just for men—they can be worn by anyone and in a slinky shiny yarn like our new deco—completely feminine (you’ll be able to see this yarn in person at our rhinebeck events).


after the section of husband scarves, the book offers a group of fancier scarves with more openwork, that can be knit in more delicate yarns.

while visually complex, most of these are surprisingly easy to work and offer both a relaxing and engrossing lace experience. with just a little organization, it’s easy to be working steadily along on one of these in no time.


wherever possible, we’ve chosen to show the designs in alternate colorways, sizes, yarn types, and/or yarn weights. our knitspot ravelry group already has a KAL in place, an extension of the test knitting group. they are a completely entertaining and fun group, but also extremely knowledgeable; please join us there to knit a scarf or two!


the judith scarf for instance is knit once in this fine silk yarn to create a delicate, but really sexy lightweight scarf that feels fantastic against the neck.


then again, we knit it up in our own chebris mohair/merino lace yarn for this spectacular large, airy scarf/wrap. same number of stitches to cast on and still just one skein, it it completely transformed when knit on bigger needles in this yarn that blooms with a pretty halo of fiber to upholster each leaf shape.


and luce stellare, knit above in a dark shade of fine merino/silk lace yarn is wonderfully transparent, nonetheless.


if you’re hesitant to work with such a fine yarn, these designs are flexible enough to work in an alternate—try a heavier yarn on larger needles for your first time out and once you get the hang of things, graduate to smaller needles and yarn for the next piece.


the book includes instructional sections about how to substitute yarns and needles, what to look for when creating an alternate fabric weight, and a general guide to working with our bare naked wools yarns.


there is also a section about washing, blocking and caring for your finished project, so you can show it off to its best advantage.


the designs in the last section are inspired by the landscape, culture, and art i found so impressive in my recent alaskan travels. i was so excited that i even set right to work on swatches in my cabin at night.


this set of mendenhall scarf, taku cowl, and tongass creek crescent shawl, for example, represent reflections on the terrain of the glacial formation we saw during the trip.


another cowl and scarf were inspired by the fantastic woven and painted hats created by women artists of the haida culture.


the collected patterns may be purchased in eBook from in both our knitspot pattern shop (click here to purchase or view more information) and in our ravelry pattern shop (click her to purchase if you want the book in your ravelry library).


the patterns are also available for individual purchase if desired;  you can find all of them in our ravelry pattern shop or in our knitspot pattern shop.


erica has also concocted kits for each one, including several with exclusive hand dyed yarns—click here to browse the selection of kits in our online shop.

and if you are coming to rhinebeck, please visit our booth at the indie untangled event on friday evening, where we will have all the scarf samples on display, with kits and individual patterns available for purchase (including our new deco yarn).


and if you can’t make it to that event, please join us on sunday at the marriott hotel in kingston for the bare naked wools popup shop, from 11 am to 9 pm; we will have ALL of our luscious yarns on display, tons of samples, patterns, and well, fun! please stop by to say hello and browse our beautiful wares.


i hope you will enjoy this new collection; it is a wonderful resource for gift knitting and inspiration. many thanks to all of the dyers, knitters, and models who contributed to the production of my book; it wouldn’t have happened without you!


fall treats

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016


still needs a few final touches, but it’s done! i have to press the last couple of seams and then a long, soapy bath, plus buttons, but it’s almost there. more about that in a few minutes . . .


now that fall is truly here—it turned much cooler on sunday and has stayed that way; it really feels like we won’t have hot weather again—the garden has slowed down accordingly. i’m still picking stuff every day, but now it is a manageable basket of mixed things, enough for supper or a pot of something i can freeze.


on sunday i used that bunch of produce to make the vegetable terrine we featured in the most recent chapter of our pairings club (Sold Out). with every single vegetable ingredient available in our garden (six or eight i think!) except mushrooms, i couldn’t wait to make delicious dish, which we haven’t eaten in a while.


it’s sort of a cross between a terrine and a frittata. layers of grilled eggplant, tomato, onion, pepper, zucchini, potato, and mushroom, and mozzarella, with egg mixture poured in and all around, then baked.

it’s so yummy right out of the oven, but even better the next day. and sliced into slabs, it makes wonderful sandwiches, like the kind i used to buy at my favorite italian deli in brooklyn.


i skipped picking yesterday because i was busy and it was rainy most of the day, but today i got out there first thing and picked another basketful, this time a slightly different combination.


looks like a fresh batch of ratatouille, eh? and david’s favorite dish, hmm.

when i’m done with this post, i’ll get right on that . . .


maybe i’ll even get on top of this batch of ripening tomatoes i’ve been ignoring. the nice thing about the romas is that they can sit for quite a while, just getting better; they don’t spoil as easily as the big juicy heirlooms do. the heirlooms are nice for ratatouille tho—big flavor, lots of juice; they don’t thicken as quickly.

we still have lots of great veggies to choose from for stir fries, soups, pasta, and many other dishes, but i think this is my last chance to make ratatouille, being that we have only one zucchini and one yellow squash left.

what i need is to come up with a plan for all that kale we have out there . . .


ok, NOW we can talk about the sweater—i love it! it still needs a bath but so far it fits great, maybe even a little better than the old one. although seriously, the new one is as exact a replica as you could ask for.


as it turned out, i even knit the same number of repeats of everything to get the same measurements, nearly to the row (i wasn’t trying for that level of exactness; it just happened).


this is an oversized, dropped shoulder design, so the fit is quite loose through the body and armholes, etc. But i was careful about the fit at the neck and shoulders; one of the downsides of the old one was that the neck was a bit too wide which made it slip around on my shoulders. this one feels much more stable, like i could move around in it and not have to constantly adjust.


so happy this is done, just in time to wear it a lot.


meanwhile i’ve been moving right along on my lace cardigan; the back piece is done (it’s SO so nice to work on a project that flies off the needles!) and i’ve added it to the pile of pieces waiting to be blocked.


just one more skinny sleeve piece to go, yay! which i’ve cast on and knit about the first six or seven inches of. once it’s done, i’ll fire up the iron and steam block the pieces, then seam and give it a bath. the finishing work on it is fairly minimal; just the seams and some simple garter stitch bands all around.


i’m thinking glass buttons will be lovely down the front; normally i would have sent a swatch away to my friend sarina asking her to make a set but as it happens, we have some pink and brown ones from her in the shop already—perfect! and if they don’t work, i think i also have some clear glass ones with bubbles inside that would also be pretty.

i’ll be done with this before we leave for our weekend in athens, OH; i just realized i need to get another project on the needles quick.

i’ve been working along on finalizing our lace scarf book while knitting in between wherever i find time and have sorta had my head in the sand; i had no idea i was almost out of projects. not to worry, there is a long list of things i can start, as long as i can cobble together a working pattern.


i’m thinking that the skirt to match the twill pullover/cardigan should be next—mindless enough knitting for the road, and quick, too.


the skirt will be especially cute worn with the cardigan, which i think barb is going to knit? or someone . . .


speaking of the book, it will be ready very soon! our whole team is focused on it right now—i’m finalizing text and layout, david is shooting photos, hannah is working on cover illustration and social media, erica is working on creating kits, store listings, and social media, test knitters are finishing up samples, ronni is doing the last round of reviews on the patterns, anne marie is editing and correcting my text, and doug is ready with a smile whenever someone needs one.

still not sure when the exact release date will be but it’s soon—well before rhinebeck anyway . . .


this weekend, erica and i will travel back to athens, OH for the athens area fiber faire—this is a wonderful little event and we’d love to see you there! we will be well stocked with all of our yarns, a good time to come and shop in a relaxed atmosphere before the rhinebeck crowds deplete our inventory!

not only will we have a booth, but i’ll be teaching yarn voyage class on saturday afternoon 10/1—if you’ve been wanting to take this class, it’s a great opportunity; only $30 for a three-hour class, supplemented by the athen community arts, parks, & recreation.


we are both VERY much hoping that our friend, little anne, will stop by to visit us and hopefully bring her knitting. word has it that after learning to knit in our booth last year, she has bee working away at it and improving steadily.

i think we may also be packing a little preview trunk show of the scarf samples and possibly a few single-copy patterns of repurchase?? ok, i made that up, but i bet erica will go for it when i talk to her tomorrow.

i think that’s all i have for today—hopefully i’ll have time for one more post before we leave, but if not, i’ll see you when i get back.


i dont’ plan these things, they just happen . . .

total mass

Friday, September 23rd, 2016


oh, there is nothing like new england in the fall and this past weekend, i was lucky enough to be an instructor at the first WEBS fall retreat, which took place in the heart of the berkshire mountains.


not at the store (though we did get to spend some quality time there!), but on the beautiful UMASS amherst campus, in their teaching hotel and conference center, surrounded on all sides by views of new england.

and very fun people.


even though this was my third weekend away this month and i barely got out of ohio with my pants on straight, i was thrilled to be there with one hundred enthusiastic knitters, the ever-attentive WEBS staff, and my fellow instructors (who know how to make any event fun).


with just three days at home between waterloo and amherst and long to-do list to accomplish in that time, it was with a huge sigh of relief that i sank into my seat on the plane and pulled out my current knitting project.

i started this little eyelet cardigan in our chebris lace yarn (now available in this delicious frappé shade) while still in canada and knit most of the first sleeve during my plane rides home. but i had not touched it since and was eager to get back to work on it.


by the time i got to amherst, i was nearly all the way through the sleeve cap. what i love, love, love about this project is how quickly it is knitting up, compared to my previous two garment knits—much smaller in size and without cabling to complicate things, a very relaxing and mindless knit (just what i needed).

heh, or so i thought; apparently i was so exhausted that i forgot how to count to seven and had to rip back to the start of the sleeve cap. then i did it again while we knitted at the dinner table that evening. oy, vey!

third time was the charm, however and i finally got that piece off the needles.


of course, there were all sorts of distractions playing havoc with my focus, haha, like the trip to WEBS on saturday night instead of knitting. and these two honey badgers with their tricks . . .


or these guys . . . it was such a fun group that no one even minded the line stretching to the back of the store all evening. of course there was serious stuff going on too, like classes . . . an i was such a focused teacher that i forgot to take enough photos of them.

on saturday morning, we knit mini double happiness shawls and everyone did really well.


then in the afternoon, we blocked them, along with blocking several other types of projects, like socks, cowls, and sweater pieces.


my little DH was knit ahead of time in chebris lace as a test knit for my pattern; once off the blocking wires it is as light and airy as can be (which is why i’m knitting a lace cardi in the same yarn).


many of the students in the blocking class left early, exhausted by a whole day of intense classes and late night knitting on friday. but i stayed behind with tina to stretch and block her triangle shawl, which was knit from handspun alpaca yarn that her daughter brought back to her from ecuador. i’m not sure what pattern she used, but the shawl is exquisite—some of the fluffiest alpaca i’ve ever seen, with the charming texture of spindle spun yarn. she couldn’t be happier; the shawl blocked out much bigger than she expected.


on sunday morning i had a last breakfast together with the other instructors and then spent some quiet hours knitting in the lobby with kate atherly while we waited  for our shuttle to the airport. we were each designing something and quite happy to knit side by side without too much chat. just lovely!


i used the time to cast on (three different times, oh well) for one of the cardigan fronts and once i was settled with the right stitch count, it was off to the races. i had that front piece done by the time i landed in ohio that evening. have i mentioned that i love this cardigan?? so quick, so light, so pretty . . . or it will be, once it’s blocked.


admittedly right now, the pieces look like so much crumpled paper, but trust me, they will come to life with silky-soft goodness and glow, once they’ve had a hot bath, a spanking, and some serious pinning and steaming.


i know you can’t feel this, but the fabric is a lit-tle too pettable; i have to be careful not to wear it out.

as you can see in the photos above, i’ve now got a third piece to join the first two completed ones—on monday i was so brain dead from the previous couple of weeks that i gave myself permission to knit for most of the day, only breaking for one short meeting at the office and then for a nap later on. and still i got another full piece completed before dinner; now there are TWO fronts.


and a respectable stack of little sweater pieces.


this morning i cast on for the back piece and got through the hem lace sections before forcing myself to put it away (i did have knit night tonight, so i was able to bring it back out and add a couple of inches during that time). just look at the gleam on that yarn, wow. mohair is so pretty anyway, but such soft and well cared for mohair?? priceless!


and because it’s knit in laceweight yarn, it all smooches down to a little package that fits into a slim project bag which i can take anywhere. what’s not to love?


one of the things that has made my time at home so busy in between trips is our local yarn discovery tour. we’re open for extended hours during the yarn crawl and the shop has been very busy. it all ends this saturday though—if you live anywhere in the vicinity, please stop by and visit. there is a free pattern to participants and door prizes too.


we’ve picked up a few new faces at our open knit knit night on wednesdays through this event, which we are happy about; always great to have a full house on knit night, right?


after i wrote my blog on wednesday, i did indeed steam block the rest of my dock and cabin sweater pieces. i ws a little anxious about how that yoke would fit together, so i decided should just block it and see.


now it’s looking much more like the right shape, phew. i’m sure it will be fine.


second sleeve also got steamed to match the first and everything is ready to be joined up with the fronts as soon as those neck and button bands are complete.