what’s up, pup?

Posted on 10 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden


hello friends; i know it’s been far too long and i hardly deserve your attention, but i hope you’ll enjoy catching up for a bit? and holy cow, get a load of our daffodils; are they crazy-big, or what?

what a month! the last time we had a real post was when david unveiled the updated blog by telling you about our new friend. i want to update you on him first thing because i know many of you are animal lovers and were concerned about him.

during christmas week, this feral dog took up residence on our compost pile where it’s actually pretty cozy if he burrows down into the loose leaves. don’t get us wrong—we did  not WANT him sleeping out in the cold, but he seemed to prefer that over being near people and we didn’t want to scare him off to parts unknown by not letting him sleep there.

over the past eight weeks, we’ve been slowly, slowly gaining his trust by feeding and making a calm, safe place for him to hang out. he’s pretty relaxed in all ways except when humans come near. we love watching him; we’ve set up a dog cam inside the window to get a sense of his habits and eating times; you can watch a video of him on our youTube channel if you like! (it’s about five minutes long)

it took several weeks to get him to eat what i put out at all; he was so mistrustful. i even tried roasting off some plain turkey legs with carrots and sweet potatoes for him, but he wasn’t having any of that, thank you—into the freezer it went for a future time; i’m sure the day will come when he’ll be happy to have it.

as you can imagine, i’ve been secretly thinking of names for him because i love finding just the right one, haha; i decided to call him cardigan and david agreed it was a good name. i know it’s silly, but the dog is just so grampa-looking don’t you think, with that funny face of his? like a shawl-collared sweater. and if you take a look at the 7th earl of cardigan, well, he bears and uncanny resemblance.

our cardigan now feeds from a bowl much closer to the house and on good days, he allows me to get a bit closer, talk to him, and even began approaching me tentatively a few times. believe me, it’s not because i’m irresistible—he knows i bring hotdogs; what’s not to love? (thank you kade, for recommending that strategy!).

our neighbors are helping out by not feeding him randomly; we hope this will persuade him to come “home” to eat most meals. we set up a shelter crate for him but so far he’s not interested. he does roam the neighborhood throughout the day but sleeps here every night. he is generally well liked—no one has reported aggressive or annoying behavior from him, not even barking. we hope that we’ll be able to contain him within a the next week or two; after all these years, we are going to have a doggy, how about that?

i also had a birthday which went by quick, as we were still rolling out our winter 2017 ensemble collection at the time, but was lots of fun. david baked a gluten free chocolate cake that was deLISH and we went to pittsburgh for the afternoon and evening to visit the andy warhol museum.

in other new news, we are once again welcoming a new member into our human family—james and diana had another baby boy last week, jonah gray, arriving three weeks early with the spring weather.

isn’t he a sweet pea? and at eight pounds, i bet his mom is glad he WAS early, haha.

the rollout of ensemble and the start of our new bare naked knitspot 2017 club made my life crazy for a while, with plenty to do every minute between christmas and mid-february. we even produced a whole new yarn for that first shipment. saying that really makes me wonder A) about our sanity at times and B) where did we fit it all in??

but i’m SO glad we did because i just love the results—smoothie—a slow gradient fade of natural shades in a 2-ply sport weight alpaca/merino blend.

while the color range is the same for the entire batch, each skein is different and random—you never know how the colors in a particular skein will collide and play out.

some have a little contrast and are more subtle while others have more contrast and color changes. some are slightly more gray in tone and some are more chocolatey.

the club designs are an asymmetrical crescent shawl and a coordinating scarf. single dip members (full membership) can make their choice of one piece and double dip members (full membership + extra yarn) can knit one of each in the small size or a larger shawl or a stole size of the scarf. these designs are only available through the club for the next six months; you have to join to have access to them.

once the secret was out about this shipment, there were a flurry of new club signups and this yarn is flying out the door. but we still have a few spots left and will make room if you decide to join now!

and i’ll just add this—i’m almost MORE excited about the next shipment, which will go out in april. it’s a fiber i have wanted to feature in the club forever and just today while i was talking with erica about it, a new design idea popped into my head for the yarn that i can’t wait to start. i’m wiggling in my seat just thinking about it. ok, i better stop now before i give something away . . .

anyway, with all that high energy action in the late fall and winter, i had to take a little time afterward to regain my wits, knit, work on some designs, and fritter away my time (AKA swatching) a little more than usual.

i’ve been playing around with cables, some lace, and knitting on some designs for next fall and winter, but also for this summer. i know, i have my seasons all mixed up, but i’m chalking that up to the insanely changeable winter we’re having; one day it’s freezing and i want to knit cozy cardigans and the next it’s in the 70s and summer tops are my desire.

it has made me feel very erratic and scattered lately, but i’m going to organize all that progress now and write up a separate post for you to read on friday. til then!

dock and cabin

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

i’m excited—today is the day that we’re releasing my very favorite design of this winter’s ensemble collection: dock and cabin cardigan, knit in stone soup fingering yarn.

this replica of one of my oldest and dearest sweaters, which i designed and knit back in the 1990s, has been several years in the making.

originally knit in morehouse merino 2 ply sport yarn, i had planned to reknit it many times, and even bought the yarn once, but always put it off in favor of more urgent projects.

i think i sort of doubted my ability to recreate it exactly, or that reknitting it might not reproduce the magic of a sweater i loved so much.

it’s not that i didn’t have a pattern—i did—meticulously handwritten notes for every step of the process (being that it was designed and knit before computers were a fact of life). i just knew there were some challenging parts that i wasn’t sure would translate to a range of sizes or that i could even reknit successfully again in one size.

then my dear friend stone soup fingering came into my life and after knitting one favorite sweater with it, i knew i had to reknit my old favorite in it too (and of course, it would be luscious in better breakfast fingering or ginny sport as well!). i pulled five skeins in color pumice and set to work.

once i got started, my confidence in my dog-eared, handwritten pattern solidified and i was off to the races. the details i worried over actually came together very well—i remembered a lot more than i thought i would.

i won’t lie, an oversized cardigan like this entails a lot of knitting, but with little fit or shaping involved, it’s easy to settle into a rhythm with a fun stitch pattern to watch unfurl, some cabling to keep it goal oriented, and the knowledge that a wearable beauty would be mine at the end.

and the fabric was just what i had hoped—very much like the original, but now in our own yarn. this size weighs just 17 ounces—not bad at all for a good sized slouchy sweater. i love it so much i am already contemplating another; just have to decide which yarn to use . . . or maybe the same yarn in a different shade—i love it that much.

let’s talk a bit about the sizing and fit, because you might be surprised to see that there are just three sizes, with a wide spread of measurements for each. this garment is intended to be oversized—i wear mine with approximately twelve inches of ease. that said, each size will accommodate more than one size person, so my small/medium sample looks equally great on turner, alex, barb, cherie, and cynthia, though we all wear different sizes in a sweater with a more traditional fit.

the fabric of this sweater is very light and airy, so it drapes against the body beautifully—i.e., all that extra ease does not add poundage the way a stiffer fabric with more body would do. also, while this is a drop-shoulder style, i still added some armhole shaping and a sloping sleeve cap, so as not to end up with a lot of extra fabric under the arms, the way a straight, boxy drop-shoulder sweater would have.

it’s still plenty roomy so that you can wear a heavy shirt or use it as a jacket over layers, but the shaping makes the fabric fall around our curves and not bunch up in bulky folds.

and it looks great on guys as well—a totally sharable knit, should you be so inclined. for everyone who told me they were awaiting this pattern, i hope you’ll start one soon and share with us in our ravelry group! this is wonderful knit for long winter evenings and snow days . . .

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.