Archive for the ‘designing’ Category

happy birthday mister knitspot!

Friday, October 2nd, 2015


it’s the first day of october and david’s birthday (ok, well my internet was down when i tried to post this yesterday, so let’s pretend it’s still the 1st). he did NOT get a basket of vegetables for his birthday; those i picked on wednesday.


and yes, we are still collecting THAT many green beans every two or three days (this was an eight-pound haul). i just can’t bear to throw them out so i give them away to just about anyone who walks by the house. in this case, it was barb—not that she’s just anyone but, knit night is wednesday so after pulling out a couple meals worth for us, the rest went home with her.

for david, i used all those vegetables (plus a huge basket of swiss chard) to make a fairly authentic indian meal. i would have taken photos but my phone camera has been working only on and off and today, it was decidedly off. hmm, i just realized that i’ve mentioned two things broken down and i’m only on the third paragraph; what next??

let’s talk instead about something that IS working.


thank you for all your enthusiastic comments regarding my new cabled coat design, vendange. the name, taken directly from the name jen gave to the yarn color, is inspired by the french word for “grape harvest”. here’s a sneak peek of what it looks like in action.


david and i took the coat to a church downtown the other day for a photo shoot and i got to test it for true wearability. the timing couldn’t have been better; the weather had turned suddenly cold, windy, and rainy—a reminder that we are going to need sweaters like this from now on.

and hey—they might as well be wonderful ones that we want to wear, yes?


the verdict?
this one definitely IS; i love it! i was worried that it would be heavy, but it’s not; it’s really nice to wear and SO cozy. the A-line shaping is just right—enough to swing freely around my body, but not so much that it’s bulky.

barb is knitting the shorter version and last night she was adding the collar, so she’s almost done. and she has started one in chebris worsted, for which i am foaming at the mouth (no pressure or anything barb . . .).


i think you get the picture from the photos—smiles all around. look for the pattern release just before rhinebeck weekend (october 17 and 18); buy it either online here or in the spirit trail booth at rhinebeck. more details as the time draws closer; i believe jen has a promotion brewing with her vesta yarn rollout and we plan to do the same on bare naked wools purchases for this garment.

we will be showing that weekend at the indie untangled trunk show event and also our own event


on sunday afternoon at the courtyard marriott in kingston, from 2 to 9 pm. come on over after the show to browse our popup shop and enjoy refreshments with us in a relaxed, social atmosphere. we are cooking up several promotions for the event; stay tuned for details.

ok, now, much as i want to just bask in the glow of my recent FO, i am already deep into the next one, which has been on my needles since i stitched the last button on that red coat. i’ve got a schedule i need to catch up with, for i am behind as usual.


fortunately, i am once again knitting with a lofty, big, squishy, delightful yarn so staying on task is not difficult.


this time it’s chebris worsted in the silvery dragée shade—to die for, truly. if only miss piggy could be here  . . . she’d be all over this one (stay with it through minute three). i am even more excited about this design than the red one i think—i even thought of the most excellent place to do a photo shoot, if they will allow us.

back to the present tho . . .


tomorrow erica and i are off to the athens area fiber faire; this is a gem of a show and we are so excited to have a booth there. if you are within driving distance, it promises to be a terrific early fall weekend—why don’t you come see us? i understand that athens is a fun college town with lots of personality; it will be my first visit and i’m really looking forward to it. i know a few peeps are talking about being there—please stop by to say hello!

(that reminds me; i still need to pack a bag.)

so i’ve gotta get going now and get back to my packing and my knitting; hope you are working on fun stuff too!

knitting in the zone

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015


the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind as our little shop participated in a regional yarn crawl. usually not the epicenter of activity, suddenly we had all sorts of new faces crossing our threshold—fiber enthusiasts who traveled to us as part of the tour. it was absolutely wonderful to meet and talk to so many knitters and crocheters and introduce them to our yarns and designs.

many had never heard of us before; quite a few do not use the internet or even a computer and yet we had plenty of common ground to share around yarn love, haha.

oooh, speaking of yarn love, the winner of the carol feller book giveaway is andrea m. she has been emailed and her prize is on the way. thank you all for participating in carol’s book release; authors work so hard in secret for so long, it’s a real treat to finally celebrate with us all.


september is harvest month and tomatoes wait for no yarn crawlers—we spent many late nights this month taking advantage of our garden’s productivity to get food stored away for winter.


one night i put up so many tomatoes that i ran out of containers and we had to scramble to make do. i had enough yellow tomatoes this year to do a separate batch of yellow puree. i don’t know what i’ll use it for but it will make a surprisingly vivid sauce for a special occasion. i’m even freezing tomato juice—a personal favorite; i don’t know why i never did it before.


the onions i pulled while david was away have been brushed clean and trimmed; they are stored in the basement with the winter squashes.

the squash plants have mostly died back, but i’m still picking pounds of green beans each week as well as eggplant, peppers, and lots of greens. everything tastes wonderful; we barely buy anything at the store when we shop.

the next harvest will probably be potatoes, leeks, and celeriac, the last root vegetables that i have in the ground. the salad patch i planted does have some beets tho, so maybe a few of those as well.

i feel so lucky this year; we are rich.


and despite all that was going on, i brewed up a bit of a knitting storm last week, which escalated considerably between wednesday and sunday—that’s why you haven’t seen me around here at all (sorry!!). but i think you’ll be happy with my investment.


in fact, i actually took two days—thursday and sunday—completely off from the computer so i could focus on knitting alone. and the big cabled blob benefitted greatly from that concentrated effort. i alternated skeins through the hem and lower body of my project because one of my skeins was darker, having been dyed in a separate batch.


mmm, soft pretzel cables . . . deee-licious in spirit trail vesta, which will be a jen’s new offering at rhinebeck this year (get some at the spirit trail booth in building A).

the knitting just flies along when working with chunky weight yarn and as my piece grew, i became even more motivated to finish ASAP.


by saturday morning my big body piece was off the needles and ready for finishing. after attending to some other things during the day, i fired up the iron after dinner and blocked both this piece and the sleeves.


that night i began the process of finishing—stitching the shoulder seams, picking up the stitches for the collar, and getting a jump on knitting that before i finally passed out.


when i woke up, i put the shell on my dress form; it was so exciting to finally see what i had. the armhole depth was a little too long and needed to be adjusted, but aside from that, it was looking good. phew! there is a shorter, hip-length version as well, which barb is knitting.


i got so many positive comments about pockets on the the pedal pusher sweater that i’m thinking this coat could even have some cool cabled ones added at the sides; what do you think?


the yarn has a spongy, dense, and velvety feel, perfect for a cuddly warm coat. this is a great chill chaser; i’m looking forward to seeing how long i can wear it into the deep winter weather. i’m hoping all the way through, as the fit is super comfortable—roomy through the body and upper sleeves to accommodate layers inside, but snug at the edges to keep out the elements


somewhere in those few days, the buttons arrived from moving mud—at jen’s request, i sent a swatch to sarina and as usual, she created the perfect accent for the front of the coat. i thought the flat style would be best for my purposes, but by all means, round ones would work equally well.


yeah, man . . . they are like little slices of exotic fruit, aren’t they?


and they are just the right accent for the front of this coat—strong enough to stand up to the oversized cable with their stunning gray-green edges.


buttoned all the way up, the coat sports its own slouchy cowl to use as a wind barrier.


personally, i just love the wide, delicious collar unbuttoned enough to spread out over my shoulders in a pleasingly crumpled heap.


it will accommodate a little nothing scarf inside  to add an extra layer of texture and warmth. the pattern for this garment (which includes instructions for a jacket length version) will be released along with the vesta rollout over rhinebeck weekend (october 17th and 18th). it’s in production now and will be ready for purchase both here and in the spirit trail booth—keep your eye out for it.

we are knitting one in chebris worsted as we speak—the frappé shade. mmm, won’t that be a treat? i cannot wait to sink myself into that one, yum yum.


and speaking of chebris worsted, now that the cooler weather has arrive, i can fully indulge the itchy fingers i’ve had for this yarn all summer long. i have been dying to start something and now i have; care to guess what it might be?

notes from the gray area

Thursday, September 17th, 2015


in case you haven’t seen this yet, thea colman has produced another design with bare naked wools; we love her! for her stranded two-color (+accent) hat, gray rose, thea chose to work with kent DK, then sized up by knitting also in kent worsted on bigger needles.


modeled here by her adorable daughter zoe, the DK version is shown in the tide pool and beach glass shades (but any two contrasting shades will work). a few yards of leftover DK yarn from your scrap pile to use as an accent color is all you need to round out the materials. i don’t see why you couldn’t do the centers in a variety of colors even.


we’ve created a kit with your choice of yarn weight and shades in kent—with it, you’ll be able to knit two hats if you switch the background and foreground use of color. Use code BNW for your purchase of Gray Rose via Ravelry. The offer is good until Sept. 30th with or without the purchase of yarn! Thank You, Thea!


a hat made from snuggly bare naked wools would be a most excellent holiday gift, stocking stuffer, or swap item. and two of them in one package? that’s the best of both worlds; one to keep and one to give away. the kit itself would be a terrific gift for a knitter, too.


in other news, my coat sleeves are complete. now that the september ENVY club chapter has gone out the door for this month (SO glad everyone loves this month’s green yarn and patterns so much, yay!!), i can get down to business on the sweater body, which is knit in one piece to the underarm and then split—thank goodness the yarn knits quickly at a lofty gauge on big needles.

i’m not a huge fan of sweaters worked in one piece, but in this case it makes the most sense because that gigantic twining cable will be running up the side seam area and no way would i add a seam to the middle of that drama.


the cast on last night was a struggle because i was so tired i couldn’t add the numbers right, even with my calculator in hand. but i finally got it and after that i of course knit the first row wrong—three times. well, i did go to the “i never learn” school of knitting after all . . .

i finally packed it in and will tackle it tonight. isn’t the colorway just jammin’ though?? it’s even more awesome when you can feel it. in fact, i keep stopping to admire the yarn and i’ve got to get myself to stop that if i am to knit the sweater body in a timely manner. and i don’t have a lot of time—in fact, i’m afraid if jen sees this post she will have an anxiety attack because this garment and the pattern need to be done for rhinebeck. but they will be.


well now you didn’t think my garden had just disappeared overnight did you? sigh. it is very much alive, thank you. and putting out almost more than we can handle . . . except for tomatoes.


we are getting just a medium number of tomatoes, but i have hopes that we will get as many as we need for the freezer by the time the frost hits. it’s supposed to be warm through september at least, and if it is, we should be fine.


the problem isn’t the number of actual tomatoes produced, it’s the number of edible ones we are getting. unfortunately we have many, many, gorgeous red plum tomatoes with end rot, ugh. the orange, black, and round red tomatoes seem fine, but the plums are bumming me out. the orange oxhearts and the black nguyens are just scrumptious.


we have a veritable eggplant forest with several different types—my refrigerator bin is almost full, just waiting for me to have a few spare hours to cook ratatouille and some curry.


our greens and swiss chard are just phenomenal—i don’t think we’ve ever had such a good year for greens and i hope now we have it down because this is my favorite vegetable. we’ve been eating them almost every day.


and i know you are just dying for a shot of the green beans because there can never be too many of those so here you go! this is another vegetable we’ve been eating nearly every day—and gladly—but i could use some fresh inspiration for cooking them; how about some recipe ideas? (nothing with gluten flours please!)


we have all sorts of peppers coming back now that the weather has cooled a bit (they took a break during that hot, dry period we had in august). these purple island peppers are so yummy—they have a cool, sweet citrusy flavor and are lime green inside; great for salads or eating raw.


i took a chance on this chocolate pepper but so far this is the only fruit it has produced. it’s chocolate alright, but i don’t know yet what it tastes like and i don’t know if i’ll find out—it’s already softening on the one side.


the little salad/power greens patch that i planted while david was away is doing well; i need to make time this weekend to get out and thin the seedlings. we will be clipping baby greens in a few days i think.


and some of the new beet and spinach greens are ready now. time to get out there and do some trimming. plus there are baby leaves to be culled all the time from the bases of the big chard plants. we will have a nice weekly supply for quite a while, if we get enough rain to keep them sweet.


the funny old celeriac is maturing nicely; we have about a half dozen of these fascinating roots this year. i love their flavor in so many dishes; it adds a great dimension to soups made from pureed root vegetables.

i don’t have a photo of my gigantic butternut squashes, but i’m so bummed—they were so gorgeous and blemish free until today, when i see they each have little bites taken out by some nasty critter (probably a skunk). don’t be skeeved out, but i’m thinking i might just take them in and cut off the parts that are nipped (with a very big margin, i promise). i hate to see such big beautiful winter squash go to waste. does anyone else do this and is it ok??

the squirrels have been stealing tomatoes i know, but i don’t think the are the culprits behind this; i think it’s something bigger—a “squash buckling” skunk or possum, possibly a raccoon. ugh, disgusting.


thank heavens for flowers. this is my alkanet plant that i bought at wooster in may as a little sprite of a thing. david had to move it to a pot because it was taking over his poppy bed.


it doesn’t seem to have cramped its style any, hehe.


ok, now we have a couple of exciting things coming up for you in the next couple of days. on friday we will release my new atlantique pattern—a cool top with a pretty buttoned neck finish to knit in hempshaugh lace. wear alone or with layers; with sleeves or without.

and with the way the weather is heading, we’re going to want one of these for a while yet.


erica has put together a kit with yarn and pattern; quantities are limited, so don’t dilly dally if you’ve got your heart set on this one (i don’t mean to sound pushy; we really don’t have all that much of this yarn—it’s popular!). i believe we are restocking as fast as we can, but the laceweight is spun in very small batches; we can only get a certain amount each month.


and THEN on monday, our friend carol feller will be contributing a guest blog to tell you about her new book—short row knits. she’s going to discuss some strategies for dealing with fear of short rows and techniques for making your short rows look their best.

and you never know, there just might be a book giveaway . . . actually i have it on good authority that there definitely will be one—spread the word!

alright now, off to get that atlantique pattern up and write a post about it. see you soon.


it’s good to be home

Thursday, September 10th, 2015


did you have a nice labor day weekend? we did a little traveling to visit our moms and actually ended up taking a couple of extra days, so that we were gone for a full week—i KNOW! that never happens, haha!


just before we left i ran the canton city charity chase. i haven’t been racing much this year, so i was looking forward to this one as the course is plotted to go through our neighborhood. i had to laugh when i opened my eyes that morning—after weeks without a drop of rain, it was showering outside. of course.


no worries though, it was barely misting by the time i left the house to walk downtown to the start line. this is a smallish race which was sadly reduced in length this year to a 10k; last year i ran it as a half marathon. so we didn’t cover all the territory i’m used to running, but i did have to bust a move and run a bit faster than i’m used to. one side effect of not racing much is that i’m not diligent about speed training; i run very consistently day to day but i don’t put in time doing drills (haha, i’m not much of a coach; i like to just have fun).


still, i didn’t do badly at all; a cool morning, nice people, and a course i love all made it a good run and i took second in my age group. plus, at the end there were fruity snacks, what’s not to love?


back home i spent the rest of the day in the garden and later, the kitchen. i picked green beans, squash, eggplant, greens, and tomatoes. i processed some tomatoes into puree, both roasted and  stewed, then chopped some of the vegetables into parts for a curry, which i was craving for dinner. everything in it came from our garden, except for the tofu and carrots, which i didn’t grow this year.


mmmm. after dinner i made a batch of pie dough so i could bake a fresh peach pie on tuesday to bring on our trip.

by wednesday morning we were ready to roll. i drove the first leg and david took over after a few hours so i could knit. i was more reasonable about the knitting i packed on this trip—just two bigger projects with extra yarn for each. one was secret and i worked on that almost exclusively at first so as to finish it up and get it off my plate.


the other was (is) the project i am knitting with that gorgeous deep red vesta i showed you last week or so? mmm—full of cabled goodness. more on that later . . .

even though my mom said not to bring a lot, i did; there was too much produce to leave it sitting for five days. payback for all the times we tell her not to do something and she does it anyway, haha.


and good thing i did—the box of vegetables i brought along was completely gobbled up by the time we left. we ate fresh greens for dinner a couple of times, we used the beans in several dishes, including this yummy potato and green bean salad, which was an absolute snap to make (just five ingredients) and can be served warm or cold.

here’s how: take equal parts green beans and small waxy potatoes (i had 1.5 pounds of each; my mom bought some fancy tricolor fingerling potatoes). scrub potatoes and cut with skin on into chunks; top beans and rinse.

place potatoes in a pan of heavily salted (about 1/3 cup) cold water as you cut them. bring the pan to a boil and reduce heat to simmer; cook til tender (about 15 mins). throw beans into the pot for the last couple of minutes and cook until they are bright green all over but still crunchy.

while the vegetables cook, whisk together 2 tablespoons of stone ground mustard, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar in a large salad bowl.

drain and rinse potatoes and beans in cold water to stop cooking and transfer to the bowl with dressing while still warm. toss to coat, season with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of fresh oil if desired.

that’s it! it’s nice to make this dish before starting supper so the dressing can penetrate the warm vegetables. it tastes great cold as well and keeps for several days in the fridge. of course you can make it fancier, but it’s just great the way it is and takes less than a half hour to make. for me, this could be dinner on a hot summer night (with peach pie thrown in, natch)


it was very important to fortify ourselves because one of our main tasks on this trip was to tackle my mom’s garage, which had become a catchall for the overflow from her house. so much so that she has to park the car in a very particular way just so she can get out of it. i find that too limiting for comfort; she needs to be able to move freely going in and out. besides, everything was getting very disorganized too with lots hidden out of view—not good.

friday was slated as the big day. i had a feeling it was going to be an all-day, all-out, drag down fight to throw out as much as we should.


well it did take all day, but we made some progress. mom thought we threw out too much and i think we could have done more, but at least now the boxes are labelled, food is stored all in one spot, there is some space to navigate, and she can reach most of the important items without being attacked from all sides by falling debris.


i did lose the battle over this enormous box of department store shopping bags (there must be over a hundred, i swear. and a story for each one).

it makes me think more clearly though about my own stuff—i know i have some of these same fondnesses for things i don’t really need or use. our house has plenty that can—and should—be delivered to its next life. i keep saying that we should take a couple of weeks completely off from work and the computers to tackle a purging of our house, but i don’t make sure it happens (partially because i find it overwhelming). food for thought.


aside from that job, we did do quite a few really fun things over the weekend—you know moss doesn’t grow on my mom, haha. we went to an interesting photography show at the albany institute of art with my cousin, david went to long island to spend an afternoon with his mom (who is back in the ICU), and we got together with my sister’s family one night. i got some nice long runs in on roads surrounding the albany pine bush and we also watched old movies at night, when david and i got some knitting done (for me, that’s the best part of ANY day).


on labor day we took a ride to visit my aunt and detoured through Saratoga Springs on the way home. david had never visited and it’s really at its best in summer. monday was the last day of the racing season, so the town was buzzing.


we didn’t actually go into the track (maybe another time), but we did stop in the center of town to walk around the park and fill a couple of bottles with spring water.


it was a scorcher so we took our time strolling—just an easy-going break from the drive home.


oh, i almost forgot—i took along my dark blue triticum sweater to see if it would fit my mom. i had steam blocked the pieces before sewing them together, but never gave the whole garment a complete soak and wash. so once i determined that she liked it and where it might need some blocking to customize the fit, i gave it a wash and laid it out to dry. it really looks nice on her i think.


progress continued on this project as the week went on; i’ve been using the construction of the sleeves to finalize gauges and proportions (the cable is quite large and i love it). the vesta yarn by spirit trail fiberworks is absolutely divine—sooo soft and cushy! it interchanges really nicely with our own worsted weight selections as well, so i know already that i’ll be making another one of these in BNWs—probably chebris worsted (i’m thinking frappé). i’m pretty excited about it, but since it’s  a larger project, i think i’ll just report on it in bits and pieces.

the yarn is not available to purchase yet, but will debut at rhineneck next month—see it in the spirit trail booth.


now that my secret projects are done (at least for a while) and the vesta project is clipping along well, i’ve been thinking about future projects since we left albany. even though it’s still very warm (it’s supposed to remain so during september), fall and winter are definitely coming at some point and i want to be ready. labor day just makes it feel more real. so i’ve been swatching away on ideas for outfits and layering pieces that will work together and as parts of other combinations.

in other words, the fun has begun.