tweel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

herringweave cardigan

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

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

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

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

but back to me, haha.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the verdict?

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

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

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

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

barely civilized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

color, color everywhere

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, designing, food and garden

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did you have a good holiday weekend? ours was deliciously quiet and relaxing—just me and mister knitspot alone in our home for a couple of days while everyone else was off. perfect!

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my last post was kind of full, so i didn’t mention a craft project i did during the week before christmas—making a little something nice to add to gifts that we were sending out . . . lotion bars.

lotion bars are a solid form of hand and body cream that have a little more staying power, which i really need in winter; in fact, i use them nearly year-round now because in summer my hands work hard in the garden and kitchen. i rub the solid bar over my hands even after using other hand cream and i’m good for hours. they also work wonders for my nails.

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i made some last year too and was pleased, but have been thinking ever since about ways i wanted to improve the basic recipe i used then, so this was my chance. on monday last week i gathered up supplies and got started.

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first, i thought it would be prettier and smarter to add some inclusions in every bar to be able to identify the “flavor” of each, so i prepped my molds with rosemary leaves, lavender flowers, and orange zest. these will fall out as the bar is used, but they do look nice.

i also used a different mold so that i could package them easily and inexpensively (boxes to hold the other shapes i have are pretty pricey). these are tiny cupcake or candy molds that are about 1.5 inches in diameter. they come in a box of 36 that works well for a full batch of bars.

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while i was prepping the molds, the lotion ingredients were warming and melting in a water bath over a very low flame (double boiler also works well). you need to use containers that you won’t use for food purposes later, so a retired pan, some jars, or an old measuring cup are fine.

this year i changed the basic recipe i linked to above to make a softer,  more emollient bar. i reduced the wax to about one-fourth instead of one-third, then increased the oil and butter. i also added the vitamin E oil that is optional; i think that’s what makes it so good for nails.

you can use any butters or oils that are sold for this purpose. i used hemp and coconut oil along with mango, shea, and avocado butter for a rich bar. i did use some beeswax, but also candelilla wax, which gives them a nice slip and is vegan.

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once the ingredients were melted, i added essential oils for fragrance (i really love nice smelling hand stuff! but you don’t need to add anything; they will still smell good). here is another place where i changed what i did last year. i was more careful and built my scents up so that from one batch i made four different combinations.

i started with a simple combo of citrus and bergamot, poured a few of those, then added lavender, then rosemary, then the final addition was sandalwood, pine, vetiver, and clove for a woodsy mix that is my personal favorite (but doesn’t appeal to everyone, haha). by the way, any of these combinations are terrific for removing food odors from your hands if you work a lot in the kitchen.

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this size bar fits perfectly into a small solo “ketchup” cup—i love that! the container is sturdy enough to last the life of the bar; the lids snap on tightly so i think they will survive pretty well inside a purse, and afterward, it’s recyclable. plus—super cheap; love that even more, since i can put my resources into the best quality ingredients, instead of the containers.

i’m getting good feedback on these bars from the friends i’ve given them to; i want to make another batch for another round of gifts, but i’ll wait to get barb’s honest review tomorrow at knit night. she’ll tell me for sure if i need to change anything.

later this week, i’ll be making a batch of wool soap—also something i did last year with great results. i’m going to tweak that recipe a bit too and have already started working with some of the ingredients. more on that another day.

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red scarf fundraiser is moving along, thanks to all of you generous knitters who are responding with such kindness. we are sold out on festivus 3.0, but our supply of snow flies scarf/cowl patterns is infinite and we still have plenty of kit options in natural shades of kent DK. if you are curious about what they look like knitted up, please visit our red scarf KAL to see some finished samples in natural shades as well as red.

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i’m going to give you a peek at one beautiful example—this wrap that cherie knit in the white sand color of kent DK. it took about two and a half skeins; it makes a luxuriant scarf or a handy wrap that’s a good size to wear while working. i think it could be stunning with some long, knotted fringe on the ends, if you are so inclined (and a good way to use remainders).

i will get a total from doug on thursday and post that on friday. i think we’ve made some progress, but for sure we’re not to our goal yet—still a ways to go, but i have confidence we will do it!

if you still have a gift to give, consider making a donation in someone else’s name or gifting along the pattern to another knitter—we are also grateful for every mention of this effort on your other social media outlets, thank you SO, so much!