Archive for the ‘designing’ Category

we might need snow tires tomorrow

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014


i love how my snow tire scarf (knit in ghillie sport/DK) seems to be on its own private toboggan ride across the sofa top. what i would have given to sit around and finish up those last two repeats over my morning coffee, sigh. but because i went to bed so late, i also got up kind of late and it was already a little after nine when i poured my first cup. it would have to wait til this evening’s knit night . . .


nearby, my finished fat tire mittens posed for a portrait—these turned out so well, i can’t help but say so myself. everyone who tries them on agrees—these feel delicious. and they knit up so fast! i’m trying like crazy to get the pattern done but i had a chapter deadline today and i have meetings all day tomorrow so i don’t think it will be ready til monday earliest. but know that i’m trying; i take my snow tires stuff very seriously.


in fact, after i finished them off first thing yesterday morning, they went immediately into the bath; we had hoped to photograph them along with their matching scarf in the afternoon.


after an abbreviated soak, i pinned them to the edge of my pressing bench, allowing them to hang in the warm draft from the nearby heat vent—the perfect way to dry wool quickly (laying them across the top of a floor register is also an awesome strategy; there are many a christmas when i get up early to do just that).


sure enough, they were dry in about an hour—even those dense cables. and they fit perfectly; too bad i’m not fond of wearing mittens (though i do give in to them once in a while for very cold runs and bike rides). as it turned out, torrents of rain and skies of deep gray cause the photo shoot to be cancelled. been there, done that; this weather never results in good photography.

in a way it’s good—now the ghillie scarf can be photographed at the same time. which means that i’m just going to have to knit another pair of fat tires to match. plus that hat i told you about the other day. poor me . . .


speaking of runs, i got a big surprise in the mail yesterday—looks like i took second in my age class in the ohio challenge series (it’s kind of a running league). last year i took fifth and my group is extremely competitive, so this is a huge improvement. next year i move up to the next older class, so who knows? there are a few women who blow me away at EVERY race it seems; maybe i can shake them off for a year or two when i move up, haha.

we are thinking of designating a wall somewhere in the office to hang all my medals. i’ve seen some really cool displays; it might help keep me motivated to see evidence of accomplishment like that.

today i had to get my latest BNK chapter out the door, so i didn’t get much knitting done until evening, when we had a small, but fun knit night, just me and barb. why don’t i ever take pictures?? we get talking and i forget all about the blog, every time . . . sorry.


anyway, i did finish up the knitting on my ghillie scarf. i stopped one repeat short of what the pattern says, because it was starting to look rather long. i’m worried that it will grow more than i’d like it to. i put the live sts of the last row on a yarn holder and now it’s ready to block. i’ll put it on to soak when i wake up in the morning, then slide it onto blocking wires to dry.

a hot sudsy bath will totally transform this yarn—ghillie turns bright white, dense and flannely once all the spinning oil is washed away.

i can’t wait; now on to some socks i want to finish by christmas


today, it’s back to work rest

Monday, December 15th, 2014


haha, ever feel like getting back to your desk is the most you’ve stayed still since, well . . . last week?

i’m telling you, it felt good to get up this morning knowing that i didn’t have an agenda item to attend to right off the bat, other that the usual loosely outlined tasks of “blogging”, “write pattern for X”, or “chapter draft”.
so, here i am.

i’ve knit my couple of morning coffee repeats on my snow tire fundraiser scarf, which i’m making up in our ghillie sport/DK this go-round. i’m nearly to the end of my first skein and have completed 23 repeats of the pattern; it’s about 36 inches long, maybe? if i joined it into a cowl now, it would be a nice length to hang down simply or secure with a pretty pin, but probably too short to wind around, unless it was for a child.


yes, it’s that time of year when we devote sales receipts from a special scarf pattern to raise money for our knitspot scholarship, which goes to one student who participates in foster care 2 success programs. the entire sale price of each snow tire scarf pattern sold during the remainder of november and all of december is added the knitspot scholarship pot.

you can participate in several ways:

  1. purchase a pattern—the entire $7 retail price will go into the pot.
  2. purchase a nifty scarf kit which includes the pattern PLUS enough yardage of stone soup DK, ghillie sport/DK, or confection sport (we are happy to substitute kent DK or cooper sport as well; just email david for information). if you go for that, we’ll put $10-$15 in the pot (that’s the entire pattern price plus approximately 10% of the yarn price).
  3. please, please, PLEASE tell everyone you know about the fundraiser—they don’t need to be a knitter to throw $7 at this wonderful cause. some ways you can help: put it on your Facebook page (and link it), tweet it (with a link!), pin it (yes, with link) and finally just drag your friends over to look at the blog, haha. we’ll even give them a “knitter for a day badge” if they help out.
  4. join us for a fun red scarf KAL in our ravelry mothership—we promise a rollicking good time, plenty of support, and of course, neat-o prizes.

many of you are aware of the red scarf drive, for which knitters put together care packages that are distributed to students on valentine’s day (the 2014 drive closed on december 15, but there is still time to help out with gift cards and postage).

foster care 2 success, the sponsorship organization, assists students who are aging out of the foster care system to navigate a continuing education and advancement into independent, productive adulthood. they provide guidance and counseling, classes in life skills, scholarships, and other types of support that a family would normally provide.  and to set your mind at ease, FC2S has received the highest possible scores from charity navigator, by ensuring that over 91 cents from every dollar goes into program funding (annual report available here).

our december drive began as a way to raise a little money to pump up the postage fund, but it grew each year and eventually i realized we had enough to establish a FC2S scholarship. so far, we have exceeded each previous year’s amount by quite a lot; last year the scholarship grew to $4000; i’m excited to see how we’ll top that this year—as i know we will.


the delicious cable detail in this year’s scarf is just part of the overall appeal of the fabric and has already inspired a couple of spinoff items. my friend cherie had the same idea i did and almost at the same time—that it would be so easy to substitute this cable and fabric into my polartorte hat design. and she’s so fast—she went ahead and tried it over the weekend and it worked a treat.


we love it! if you feel competent to make the substitutions yourself, go for it. but in case you don’t want to, we’ll write it up and make it available as soon as possible. and since it’s really a joint effort, i’d be happy to include the sales for this pattern in the donations to the scholarship fund—if cherie says it’s ok that is . . . hehe, i’m pretty sure she’s agree.


and then there are the matching mittens, which are coming along quite nicely as well; i’m in the homestretch now. if only i’d been able to stay up another hour or two last night this morning, they’d be done. but then i probably would have overslept . . .


anyway, i had put these aside for a day or so while i thought about how to finish off the top and in the end, i just stuck with the established pattern and did a “sock toe” sort of finish. i like it.

as soon as i get my december chapter layout wrapped up (just waiting on photos now), i’ll get to work on these two patterns.


oh, but i’m making it sound as if my weekend was completely taken up with knitting mittens, when in fact, that was hardly so—we had a special weekend around here with very special guests who came from near and far to celebrate our holiday open house and yarn tasting.


the yarn tastings were aMAZing—each group was different and incredibly interesting. we talked all about the yarns and how they are made, then sampled each one in patterns chosen to show off their best traits. i had never run a yarn tasting before so it was a fascinating and inspiring experience for me.

one thing that came out over and over is the desire to know more—overwhelmingly, participants said they would come back and/or even create their own learning experience at our shop in the future. and since it’s our place to do what we like, we encourage it—we are happy to put together a saturday class or a while weekend for a small group. we have a comfortable, well lit classroom area and space for up to eight people (maybe even ten). something to think about . . .


and the shop was full all day long, too, which was so much fun because most days it is a lot quieter (and yet, that atmosphere is so nice too, for browsing deeply into the pattern books or taking as much time as one likes over yarn choices). honestly, we welcome you any time to come visit us!

you would think that after two days of open house we’d give ourselves some rest but i unwittingly signed up for a local race that evening and so as soon as we cleaned up after saturday’s tasting sessions, i had to duck over the to the house and get changed (good thing i live close, huh?).


beckie, her daughter jasmine, and i all signed up to run the frosty frolic to raise money for hammer and nails, a local resource for aid in reclaiming city homes.


well,it was an absolute mob scene—i don’t know who does their promotion, but wow, they are good! there were so many people that it kind of fell into a chaotic mess actually, not even starting on time.


while we waited on line as the start time came and went, i even began panicking a little about being trampled by large elves or tripping over a dog in the dark (that last one was actually quite valid). but once we finally got going, it was fine—more than fine, it was a nice evening and venue to run, through the light displays in our local park at mckinley monument.


and i ran one of my best races of the year—5k in just about 25 minutes even (the finish line actually fell down just after i crossed, so i’m not sure of the seconds, haha). i’m positive you or someone you know can beat that time easy, but for me that’s super duper, forgive my bragging.

warm as it was for december (in the mid-30s), by the time i got home i was chilled from standing around sweaty at the finish line. i sank into a steaming hot bath while david heated the macaroni and cheese i’d remembered to take out of the freezer that afternoon (my post-race favorite!).


after dinner i put the finishing touches on my chapter text and then retreated to my knitting chair, where i chatted with my mom and finished up the lining on david’s boilermaker hat. i had just enough cashmere left in the ball to line this brim—i mean exactly enough; i had maybe an eight-inch tail left at the the end. who’s a good planner??

i did a “quilting” row about halfway up to tack the lining to the shell, as described in my cashmere lining tutorial (read through that post for instructions and answers to many questions you might have).


when my lining was the right length, i knit it together with the shell in one row (also described in the tutorial). then i changed to larger needles to knit the top part of the hat, with i want to be a much softer, drapier fabric.


i ended up going with the pumice shade. it’s possible i should have chosen granite, but i just can’t tell yet. it could be like paint on a wall, you know? perfect in the two-foot sample swatch that you slap on, but then WAY overwhelming when you get it on the whole wall. i decided i should go with the shade i like best next to david’s skin.


today we have several activities taking place in different arts of the house, while i’ve been holed up here in my study, working on the blog and my chapter. elsewhere in a long awaited and much anticipated effort, our friend bil is making sense our of our art collection, deciding where the various paintings, drawings, and objects should go, and hanging it.


because these days i am an absolute puddle of indecision about these things, having no continuous amount of time to think it out, this task has been put off and put off for ages. but we have wonderful artwork that would bring our home to life and i have missed viewing it every day as i am used to.


it’s  a shame to let the many, many pieces acquired over years of friendships with artists—and quite a bit of my own work as well (i haven’t painted since we moved to ohio, but i hope that’s not over for me forever)—lie in piles against the walls or sit into closets where we can’t see them.

finally bil took charge and is patiently arranging and hanging everything. he knows us really well and has seen several different of our homes, so between that and his own great taste, i trust him completely. just seeing the art in these photos against the beautiful new plaster and wood floors makes me feel how warmly it will enrich our home—what a christmas gift this will be!

ok, now, it’s actually a very warm day for december—in the 50s!— so i want to get outside before it’s time to teach my class. i think today is a biking day . . .

party dressing

Friday, December 12th, 2014


sooo much news to tell today!
(isn’t this a cute idea laura found for dressing our mannequins?)


we are all scurrying in several direction at once, between getting ready for the last installment of the 2014 BNK, our holiday open house, and rolling out the annual flurry of patterns appropriate for last-minute gifting.


we’ve also kicked off a twelve-days celebration of some past patterns—you can get a different one free each day with a purchase of $15 or more. the first one is the spectator sock, which i published in 2008


despite the hustle bustle of the pre-holiday race season, each day i spend some time knitting a repeat or two on my current snow tire scarf project which i’m knitting in ghillie sport/DK. its soothing pattern, long ago committed to memory has become a steadying force in my morning routine. some days, it’s the only knitting i get done, but at least i go to bed knowing that i did that much.

if i didn’t feel so committed to making steady progress on it, i think i’d be at my computer almost immediately after opening my eyes (i can’t tell you how many mornings it has gotten to be 11 am and i still haven’t had a cup of coffee—that is NOT me, haha!)


at yesterday’s company meeting, emily updated all of us on the numbers for our red scarf fundraiser . . . . drum roll . . . . at the end of our third week, we are at approximately $2000!! (she followed that by saying, “maybe even a little more”).


that’s halfway and if i’m not mistaken, we are three weeks along with three weeks to go—right on track. way to go team! if we can keep up this momentum, we will meet last year’s goal of $4000.

forgive me if i mentioned this already, but erica B added a ghillie sport option to our snow tire scarf kit, in case this project is calling to you or you’d like to gift it to a knitter on your list.

we have to think of some ways to get the word out beyond our cozy circle; got any good ideas? we are all ears—tell us your thoughts!


update on holiday preparations across the steer; looks like things are hotting up over there alright.

in other knitting news, i have finished a really large amount of secret knitting and moved right on to some other secret projects i have to get going (that’s the clubbing and gifting life for you; never no knitting to do). but  just after one club goes out, i usually take a little time to sneak in a few goodies for just us.


like these . . i couldn’t resist; what’s a great scarf without a pair of delicious matching mittens? they are yummy now, but after a nice long bath?? they will be fantastic.

they knit up super fast—i made most of this one inane evening, but then set it aside while i thought about how to finish off the top (which required a consultation with barb; she’s great for bouncing ideas with).


the color is exactly the same as my snow tire scarf, but i’m knitting them with the worsted wight version of the yarn. we have a small number of 8 ounce worsted weight skeins left and then some two ouncers that were mill ends. i son’t know yet how many yards these are going to require, but we’ll tell you all of that as soon as i know.

these are just so fun, haha.


in fact, i’ve got all kinds of presents going on in various stages of completion and secrecy. this hat, for an unnamed recipient whose head measures 26.5 inches around (hmm, who could that be?), is finally picking up steam after being somewhat ignored for a week.


i love it in the various shades of stone soup DK, which because it is a speckled tweed, are softer and more muted than the clear, strong shades of the confection sport yarn  i used for the original boilermaker cowl



the patterned brim is done and i’ve begun the cashmere lining by picking up the stitches form the topmost row of ribbing all around and knitting separately in pura bella fingering weight cashmere.

while i knit that (and it won’t take long) i have to decide what shade of stone soup DK i want to use for the top of the hat—the longer slouchy part. i originally thought i’d just stick tot eh main color of the brim, which is the marble shade


but then i got thinking that it might end up being too blah that way; that the hat brim wouldn’t pop enough.


so my next thought was that pumice—the original stone soup color and still my favorite, i think—was really the perfect one, providing some contrast but in a soft, sophisticated way (and it looks so nice next to david’s skin).

but then i wondered if it was too soft and just to be sure, i looked at the granite too.


hmm, crap; i thought i had this thing solved, but i like this one as well.

i think though, that i’m still leaning toward the pumice; it’s a tough one, right?? i’m enjoying this project; i love making something a little more complex with some engineering involved for david.


working with the ghillie sport gave me an idea for another secret gifting project, which i’ll probably start tonight. i’ll show you bits of progress as i go but i won’t tell what it is until christmas (and if you guess, don’t go shouting it out in comments either; we don’t want to spoil the surprise).


speaking of little surprises, everyone who passes through the shop these days is oohing and aahing over barb’s latest obsession, which she dropped off last week—baby uggs knit in bare naked wools. i honestly don’t know which of these patterns she’s using, except that it’s a felted design. barb, please enlighten us . . . and she did; she says tried a couple of different ones before she settled on the bubbyuggz by tracey waller.


on wednesday afternoon, sheyanne and laura transformed out classroom space into an impromptu film studio in order to shot a few short videos. among these was a little instructional video for my grandma’s cast on, which i know a lot of people are eagerly awaiting. i demonstrated my grandma’s cast on in an episode of knitting daily TV that aired this past summer, without realizing that no one would be able to access the clip later on for reference—otherwise, we would have done this in time to release it concurrently.

well, with one thing and another throughout a busy autumn, we just couldn’t coordinate things to make our own version until now. sheyanne should have the film ready to upload to our youTube channel in a few days; we’ll let you know when it airs.

laura filmed some very short clips to post on instagram and other social media—look for her presto-change-o takes on wrapping cowls and mixing knits to create ever-new effects.


last night was the first session of our holiday open house and yarn tasting, which we’ve been preparing for all month.


we decorated, made snacks, and created a yarn bar for our tasting sessions. barb even made her famous whoopee pies, but you have to come in to taste one . . .

i was so happy that our neighbor norma decided to join us—she is going to learn to knit; i couldn’t be more excited! we’ve been neighbors for many years now; she and her husband bruce always read the blog—i think they know more about me than some of my family members do, haha.


last night we had a smaller number of guests, making for a more freeform, but cozy experience. most of the guests knit from presets we made for the yarn bar, sampling a few favorite patterns at the same time. even david joined in to try out some lace knitting, which he hasn’t done before (and of course he did really well!).


i was able to sit with norma while she made her first knit stitches instead of the patterned samples the other tasters were working on. it’s always an exciting honor for me to be present when a new knitter emerges from a regular person.

norma has many great reasons for learning to knit now, but probably the one that really tipped her hand was the birth of her and bruce’s first grandson just two weeks ago. such a happy reason, right? she went home with a set of needles and her sample packet of yarn to play with. i cast on 20 sts for her before she left; if we’d had more time, i would have helped her get a washcloth going in our organic cotton (norma is a retired science teacher who really appreciates the color grown cotton story).

sigh, what a lovely evening—i sure hope saturday goes as well. i’m a little nervous because we all allowed ourselves to dally over the one seating we had last night; we’re going to have to be more concise to move things along more quickly on saturday.

we still have spots open if you live nearby and are looking for a relaxing diversion from scurrying around in the holiday rush—please join us for a warm, knitterly break from all that.


afterward we cleaned up quickly and went home to our dinners. later while we watched TV, david finished up the squish me hat he knit last winter with breakfast blend DK in the morning smoke shade. and now it’s ready to be blocked—after i finish up here i’ll go downstairs to help him get it onto the bath.


mmmm. i wonder what he’s going to knit next? i think he might be interested in socks, actually; maybe some nice thick boot socks would be just the thing.


fresh tracks

Sunday, December 7th, 2014


i couldn’t help myself—i missed my snow tire scarf project once it was done; i just had to start another. originally i planned to knit my next one in our better breakfast DK (that link is just for reference; we can’t list the DK in the shop right now), but when i went over to the boutique to get some, i found that our supply was pretty much wiped out. i knew this of course, having forked over my one and only skein of the incredible rose gray muesli shade so that anastasia could complete the better breakfast orders for our upcoming blanket club.

but the reality of the situation hadn’t really penetrated my limbic system and good thing, because for any experienced knitter, this is when our bodies throw the clutch, hurtling us into full panic mode. this is the situation we dread, the very reason we stash—the moment when we realize we are stranded in the whirlpool of life’s stormy sea with no. more. yarn.

yes, even with the security of a store full of yarn right in the back yard, it’s possible to become completely unhinged over the one thing that’s out of stock.


ok, well, we did have one single, solitary DK skein put aside for test knitting—in espresso—but for photography purposes at this time of year, i really need something medium gray or lighter. and there will be none of that til the middle of the month (and almost all of it is spoken for in club orders, but i am getting one if i have to step on anastasia’s neck to do it).

so what now??

well, i spent about an hour pacing our office space and shop, bothering every single employee present while waffling over other possibilities (anastasia finally got up and went home, haha; i’m still wondering if that was my fault). i mean, it’s not like i don’t have anything else to knit.


finally, erica B suggested ghillie sport/DK. (we always call this sport, even though it is quite a fat DK—really a light worsted—in size.)

“we don’t have anything knit in that”, she said, “and we have plenty in stock; we could use a sample.”

“oh, okay i whined; i’ll look at it . . . but it’s white” (still whining)
(honestly now—wouldn’t you slap me if you were within ten yards? i really don’t deal well with indecision.)

off i trundled to feel up the ghillie sport. and, O.M.G.
i instantly felt an awful sensation run through me . . . of guilt.
i am at serious fault for having shortchanged this yarn in terms of well—everything. oh, what a fool i’ve been, groan.

the thing that really irks me about it is that i know better—i designed this yarn. i’ve also researched its fiber makeup thoroughly and discovered its many impressive qualities throughout the process of swatching to work out its size, structure, and twist. i have closely examined the test knits we had made and recorded feedback from test knitters, but i had not yet knit a whole garment with it myself. for shame!


when i picked up the skein yesterday in the shop, i could feel right away that this yarn has a stiffer hand, due to the sturdiness and spring of the cheviot fiber. but stiffness does not translate to scratchiness; when i dug my fingers into the swirled yarn within, i was rewarded by a surface creamy to the touch, with a rich, spongy depth underneath.


so i took it back to the house to cast on, thinking i’d just get the stitches on the needles so it’d be easy to pick up any time i was ready.


uh, yeah, i did skip my workout after all. i ask: would you rather go running in the cold rain or stay home with sweet, squishy yarn love in your hands??
i think i know which way you’d lean . . .


and you’d be right; this yarn is like buttah. so smooth, with such beautiful stitch definition, such delicious texture and color. it is quite literally dizzying.


i’m thinking right about now that i need another aztec mazes. or that maybe it’s time to finally get a pattern written up for this sweater


i’m not promising it will be soon, but at least now i have a yarn to focus on.


the cool thing about this yarn is that you can knit it on needles ranging from 3.5 mm (4US) to 5.0 mm (8US) (above). knit it looser for scarves, cowls, and blankets (i’m using 8s to knit my scarf) and allow it to bloom into a super-light and dense fabric.


(take a gander at this before wash/after wash comparison; isn’t it marvelous?)


knit it on the smallest needles for heavy boot socks and mittens with ironclad toughness. this swatch is knit on 6s (4.0 mm). the middle of the range will produce sweater fabric that is both light and comfortable to wear, but unlikely to pill much, if at all.


suffice it to say that i am quite pleased by this yarn choice and it will keep me quite happy until that next batch of better breakfast arrives; something to dream on, unexpectedly.

ETA: david has added an option to choose ghillie sport as the knitting yarn for the fundraiser red scarf kit;  until january 1, 2014 each kit sold will earn $10 for our red scarf scholarship fund. the entire purchase price of every snow tire scarf pattern sold during this period will also be contributed.


speaking of the red scarf project, we have a blocked and grafted snow tire cowl sample now—isn’t it delish?


since i ended up with the longer length in my sample, i have a chance to play with it a bit more and wow, you can really wear this in a variety of ways


every one of which shows off the reversible fabric delightfully.


i even noticed that it can be worn as a vest-like baffle that protects you stylishly from wind around all the edges of your short jackets


so you can go ahead and wear that dressy but flimsy party blouse out into the cold night air.


for me, this would work even better in the shorter size, since it’s a little long in back. i do love how the weight of the cable creates a fold that is just right as it wraps around the neck.

with this project finished, i turned to my santa suit yarn in worsted weight, left over from last year’s club projects.


using a scaled-down version of the viable against the same background, i started a pair of mittens. they are knitting up in  flash; i should be able to get that pattern out in plenty of time for you to knit a couple pair for holiday gifting. i’m really excited about these—they look like the quintessential winter accessory to me.


some of you may have noticed that the november club release came and went without me saying anything about releasing last november’s patterns. oops.

sorry about that—time will get away from me when i’m preoccupied with other things. i’m getting my act together to release those tomorrow. now those patterns were a pretty set of scarf, tam, and shawlette, knit in yarn hollow superior; the exclusive club colorway was white pine.


the yarn is a blend of BFL, silk, and cashmere—can you spell LUSTROUS? the photo doesn’t pick up all the beautiful variations of forest greens and blue-greens that are in it, but trust me, it is so much richer in person. we have very few remaining skeins of this yarn in the club colorway (if any), but we do have some in the popular lime rickie color we had custom-dyed for the bay leaf and lime kits.


i have always thought that this would be a wonderfully quirky holiday color, just when we need it most—kind of a grinch green—one that speaks to those of us who like to shake things up.


and oh my does it glow; it’s magnificent.

someone—david, emily, or erica—is making sure that the yarn is listed in the shop before the patterns go live; i think there may even be a kit. we should be all set with that by morning.

it’s been terribly gray and rainy at the end of the week—chilly, icy, and otherwise unfit for most outdoor activity. we and all our neighbors were shuttered up tight against the weather for the past few days and i couldn’t help but notice how bare bret’s house has been looking. i was getting worried that he wasn’t feeling well again.

until today—today was gloriously sunny and while not warm, at least it’s been enticing me to get out for a run. i couldn’t help but notice as i sate here writing that things are happening across the street.


and later, some progress


for me, the holiday season has officially begun.

and now, it’s time for that run; see you tomorrow!