gotta get back to nashville

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, home and family, lace/shawls, projects

i’m writing this post on tuesday because by the time you read it, i’ll be on my way to nashville with ellen, where we will exhibit at the super summer knit together market day. i am pretty excited about this trip; i lived in nashville during the early 1990s for a few years, when it was a fairly sleepy small city. now it’s grown and changed so much; i can’t WAIT to see it!

this will be a great opportunity to see our friends from the area; if you plan to come to the market day on saturday, be sure to stop by and say hello. we’ll have knit naked bags, all manner of patterns, and BNWs yarns in old favorites as well as the new colors we’ve been teasing on social media. plus, glamorous samples from ensemble collections and my own design portfolio will be on display.

such as this costa figueira pullover tunic in deco fingering yarn, in the chrome shade—one of a few fresh samples knit in a newer yarn. i just love it and will probably be wearing it on saturday.

it is SO cool. very many thanks to ellen’s friend coletta, who knit it for us. i’m sure she has an awesome ravelry page but i don’t know her rav name!

and then our long-time friend kathy knit this caïssa cardigan in ginny DK, our lusciously soft blend of cotton/alpaca/merino in the mississippi shade. doesn’t ellen look gorgeous wearing it? i had it on too (caïssa is an old favorite) but my photo doesn’t do the sweater justice and i think you’d rather see it on ellen anyway.

colletta and kathy really pushed the pedal to the metal on these and got them done in just a couple of weeks—there’s still time to knit one and wear it for late summer, just when you’ll be looking for a sweater to throw on at the end of the evening . . .

and of course you’ll be able to see and fondle the extravagantly soft oana cardigan designed by elena nodel for the BNWs winter 2017 ensemble collection. the sample is knit in BNWs chebris sport, one of our luxury mohair offerings.

this design would look (and feel!) fantastic in the über-soft soufflé shade, new to the chebris line.

if i could give you a squishing experience with these skeins, i would—i think it’s the softest shade yet, so yummy. it’s a beautiful oatmeal color, threaded with a mix of warm brown, white, and gray fibers. it maintains that silvery sheen that polishes all of the shades in our mohair lines (the secret to that is great quality mohair fiber).

also super-floaty in cabécou brillant sport, if you like that extra hit of luxury with your cardigan. we just got restocked in a shade we haven’t had for ages—check out the new batch of poivre.

by the way, doug tells me that in may and june, sales of the oana pattern raised $2,115 which we are forwarding the go fund me for elena’s cancer treatment. thank you to everyone who purchased a donation pattern or yarn kit during our fundraising period; they are almost at their goal!

behind the scenes here, the office has been abuzz with the activities of packing and prepping for SSK. ellen has been preparing and packing samples and kits for the booth, doug pulled many skeins of our most luscious yarns to fill our cubbies, and Cardigan supervised; nothing gets by her.

at the house, i washed and freshened up a selection of other favorite samples to display front and center, along with the new samples i showed you at the top of the post. we are ready to greet you, nashville knitters—come visit our booth!

in designing news, i’ve been diligently (and pretty monogamously) knitting my way up the back piece of my aspergillum tunic, which i’m enjoying immensely. with no shaping to keep track of, this stitch pattern becomes totally engrossing and addictive to work. mean, really—i can hardly tear myself away, and not just because i have a deadline.

addiction leads to great progress and i can often finish off a 24-row repeat in couple of hours of morning knitting. i will confess, i don’t keep track of my knitting time too carefully (and why? that would totally defeat the purpose).

even the wrong side texture of this fabric is amazing i think; i just love it to bits.

anyway, i’m almost done with the back now—that pink marker is the underarm point and i am a repeat or so past it today; two repeats for the armhole depth and less to start the back neck shaping. this top has shaping for both the front and back neck because the neck band is wide. also, beause i like summery tops to be a bit more open at the neck.

i do think, however, that i might have fashioned the front neck to be a little too deep for the width. i’ve ben changing my mind every day about whether to go back in and remove a bit from the shoulder height. for fitting me personally, i think i should do it, but i’m more “shallow” at the neck and armholes than most people. i know i can add it back into the pattern before tech editing if it seems too high later on—that would be a minor change.

i just love this photo that i took yesterday, of the unfinished back and the blocked front, side by side. i’m so excited to be in the home stretch on this design; i’ve been patient til now but i want to see how it all pulls together. keep your fingers crossed for me!

ok, gotta go now and finish up my packing. i’m bringing my tunic project to finish, along with some secret design swatching and a travel project i started in may—my see the sea shawl design in our smoothie gradient (i’ll show you that next time).

i’m pretty sure that Someone doesn’t know i’ll be gone for a few days; it’s hard to convey to her what’s happening without making her nervous. she’s learning to be secure, but not sure yet. i feel bad that for her, i will just disappear without any explanation. un fortunately, she doesn’t FaceTime yet.

at least i know she’ll be in good hands while i’m gone . . .

we’re growing

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden

those of you who’ve been following this blog for years and years are quite familiar with my ongoing investigations of our yard, as well as our evolution as gardeners.

i’m always touched by how many readers ask about our garden; while i try not to be repetitive in sharing it, gardening is a discipline where regularity—at least of the right things—is required for success. believe me, we’ve tried a more spontaneous method and ended up with, well, spontaneous results, to put it as nicely as possible . . .

this year has been funny in some ways, especially during the spring. our flowers have been mostly spectacular, from the tulips through these gorgeous hydrangeas, though our daffodils were almost nonexistent.

despite the erratic events in the rest of our life throughout the spring, david managed to get the earth turned and the planting mounds ready on time and all the plants went into the ground mostly on time.

seeds went in later than usual, but thankfully, everything germinated very well and continued to thrive week by week.

this was taken the day that i thinned all these greens, transplanting some of the thinnings to another area.

and just the other day, after trimming off bunches of leaves for lillian to take home.

greens are my very favorite fresh garden food, so we planted a big variety of asian greens, chard, and beet greens, among other things. even the parsnips (second row back) germinated very well; we’ve had trouble growing them in previous years, but lucked out for once. i’m looking forward to harvesting parsnips in the late fall; they are hard to find in the stores where we live.

meanwhile, we’ve been eating very well from current offerings, first from the thinned seedlings (super nutritious!) and now from the hardier mature greens. above left are the chard thinnings i took out of the ground about ten days ago and the asian greens on the right. we made a huge salad with these and ate every last bite.

these are rutabaga seedlings that i thinned out and discovered are absolutely delicious both raw and cooked. i mean, REALLY delicious. i had thought they might be a bit “cabbagey” and not digestible, but they are quite the opposite—a little peppery and sweet and more delicate in texture than they appear. we can clip a few leaves at a time from each plant if we want to continue eating them.

when i thinned the scallions, i just couldn’t bear to toss out the sprouts, so i washed them up and added them at the very end of a stir fry and boy oh boy, were they just the right touch! it’s wonderful to savor these once-in-a-season delights when we can.

once the garden takes off it seems like just a moment before the plants are huge and bearing more substantial fruit.

suddenly i need to get out there every single morning to check the squash plants; i pick most of them when they are quite small and most tender because A) i prefer eating them at that stage and B) i use up more of them that way. i only need the larger ones here and there and they are difficult to give away.

it’s the same situation with all the plants—from flower to fruit in just a few days, it seems. this year we are lucky that many of the veggies that go together well are ripening at the same time.

some years, the squash is ready way before the eggplant, but this year they came in at the same time, along with peppers and a few tomatoes.

it’s really due to the circumstances around our planting—we bought our plants and got them in the ground before memorial day, but then the dog ran off and we got our seeds in kind of late. that gave the plants more time to mature. now that i know this timing works well for good eating, maybe we’ll stick to it in the future!

i picked this tomato yesterday and today, david picked a few more that are really ripe—when i look back to previous years on the blog, it looks like we are right on schedule for the first tomatoes. yay. i just wish some of our cherry types were ready.

the plants are scary big but have few flowers or fruits yet. i think they suffered bit when we had some extreme temperature changes in june. maybe the delay bodes well for keeping them healthy a bit longer into the summer.

speaking of timing, our garlic matured REALLY early this year. i wasn’t expecting it to, since we didn’t have scapes until mid june (ours often come in mid to late may). and then it seemed as if i’d just cut the last of the scapes when david said the first bulbs were ready to be pulled. but none of that matters when the results are so grand—we ended up with about ninety heads, most of which measure between three and four inches in diameter.

this is just about double what we harvested for the last two years and i’m thrilled; we always run out before winter ends. we planted a bunch of different types, but they get so jumbled that it’s the luck of the draw which ones we use at any given time. we’ll save out the biggest heads to use for seed garlic in october, as we’ve done for the past few years. i’m glad we’ve got lots this year because i like to gift some when i can.

i can’t resist a still life when i have the chance. a beautiful garden haul deserves a nice photo though, i always think. green squash is decidedly absent so far—those seeds went in last and they’re not ready yet, but they seem to be growing well and i hope we’ll have some nice dark zucchini too. it’s just as well; we have an abundance of yellow ones already.

with the garlic ready and all the other beautiful goodies available at the same time, i was hungry to make a celebration dinner this past weekend. i roasted some farm tomatoes with the garlic and sautéed them with

and we feasted on puttanesca, fresh from the garden. O.M.G., was it good. just thinking about it makes me drool all over again and dream of the leftovers we’ll eat tonight.

now don’t you for a minute think that i forgot to plant, or decided to pass on, green beans this year—i didn’t.  and anyway, barb wouldn’t let me get away with that. they went in slightly late but are catching up quickly; each day they cover the fence further, sending beautiful tendrils up into the air.

the type that i grow—mathilde or matilda—are climbers, but produce a long slender green bean with great flavor and even better, a heady scent—both the flowers and the fruit. when i open a bag of beans from the fridge, it is filled with the most wonderful (but elusive) fragrance.

last week, their deep purple flowers began to appear—green beans in the making! this visual perk is another reason i love this variety—a pretty back border for our garden and a bit of interest for passersby along our back street.

no actual beans just yet, but by the time i get back from my weekend trip to nashville, we might have some beans to pick. this variety is a fabulous producer; if kept well-picked, they will produce heavily and as long into the season as you can stand it—only a killing frost will stop them. from my single row of about twelve feet, we will pick up to twenty pounds per week at the height of production.

and finally i will show you our potato patches, which have spread to an almost unwieldy size, hopefully signaling a good potato harvest. last year we also had super healthy plants, but hardly any potatoes and some of them were not good, lacking the texture and flavor i enjoy. but we had experimented with a different planting strategy and this year we went back to good old dirt. they’ve started flowering as well; we’ll know what we’ve got in a few weeks when we burrow in to gather a few first baby potatoes.

back in april, i started working on sweet potato starts using one of the last roots form last year’s harvest—i saved the biggest one for this purpose. i’d meant to start in march, but got waylaid when cardigan joined our household. despite being late, we certainly gleaned many healthy starts from this one potato.

i’m not sure how many in all—it’s very hard to stop, once they begin springing from their mother root. i think we have at least a couple dozen plants, if not more. in fact, the last few starts are still in a jar on the counter and i need to get them in the ground. the frost usually comes pretty late in our season so we might still have time for them to mature . . .

speaking of wonder dog, i don’t mind having extras this year because we now have a third mouth to feed who happens to love sweet potatoes (which are very good for dogs)!

cardigan is already enjoying a variety of garden goodies, in fact. while initially she was very suspicious of vegetable chunks in her food, she just DEVOURS her veggies now. i cook a few small batches every week and spoon a different combination from the containers into her kibble for each meal; when i run low and they don’t appear in the quantity expected, she definitely notices and does not eat with her usual zest. i’ve created a veggie monster. funny, she does not take to fruits with the same zeal—sometimes i can get a few mashed blueberries past her lips, but that’s about it. blueberries are a start tho . . .

we don’t have our own blueberry bushes, but i’m hoping some day we can put some in. for now, we buy them from a local farm and july is the month! i’ve purchased a couple of large boxes, but because i still have some from last year in the freezer, i’m mostly baking with them

this pie looks a bit homely, but man, was it good eating. i wish you could have tasted it!

leapfrogging

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, lace/shawls

even though i haven’t blogged in forever, i have continued to compile photos and think of subjects to post about, so a LOT has piled up over the last couple of months! to be honest, i don’t really know where the time has gone—it’s just been flying by, what with introducing a new family member to our home life and a new co-worker to our knitspot team. so i’m going to leapfrog over most of what’s passed and focus on what’s happening now and going forward.

except . . . so many people have asked how cardigan is doing that i’m planning a whole post devoted to her for later this week. get your rescue doggie sweatshirts on; it’s going to be fun!

plus, i need to catch you up on our garden, because some of you have told me you missed that too—yet another separate post later this week (after cardigan, haha).

so let’s start with knitting and what’s been on and off my needles for the last couple of months; there has been a LOT of secret knitting that i can share now.

i never got to show off my club designs for the april shipment, but i really like them—between the yarn choice, the fun knitting, getting to write about shetland fiber, and the pretty results, it was one of those completely satisfying deliveries. in fact, i loved working on them so much that i knit all three samples myself (often, i ask for help with the club knitting but not this time).

working on the chapter was sort of like taking my dream research trip to the islands of northern scotland and now, after longingly following the real life shetland travels of friends and fellow designers these last few weeks (some day i will get to go myself!), i figure this is a good time to share photos to let you know that i’ve been working away, even if you couldn’t see it!  (just to clarify though, these patterns won’t in general circulation for a few months yet; you need to be in our BNK club to have access now.)

for this installment, we worked with 100% american shetland fingering yarn from elemental affects in california. we chose four undyed shades from an array of about eight to ten that are available from this producer.

jack tar has a more solid body pattern with a snappy, modern chevron hem. the scale of the chevrons and the arrangement of colors give it a more impact here, but that could be toned down by using a more subtle gradient palette.

eshaness (scarf/stole, above) and muirburn (triangle shawl, below) are knit with matching  openwork stitch patterns throughout, but i used a different arrangement of my colors in each. the rounder, undulating motifs really lend themselves to softly shifting colors, but again, that can be changed up for a different look.

the body pattern from jack tar can also be knit with the hem pattern from muirburn—the nice thing about subscribing to the club is that the eBook includes all the instructions, which makes adaptations more accessible. in each installment i try to point out ways to adapt patterns and encourage clubbies to try their hand at it; it makes for some fun shares in our ravelry clubhouse discussion threads.

i’ve also been working on finalizing the pattern for my birches cardigan, shown in some of the shawl photos above, knit up in stone soup DK color marblei know some enthusiasts out there would like to knit that jacket for rhinebeck.

i’m still working on my second sample in cabécou brillant sport, chugging away on it whenever i get a chance; i just love it in this light, frothy yarn!

and we just got a mill shipment last week with more of the popular amandine shade. PLUS, we are finally restocked in the poivre shade (not pictured, darn it), which we didn’t have for ages! the silvery medium gray is sure to be a hit, knowing how much you share my love for grays.

this is a pretty easy knit so there isn’t really a good reason why i’m not working faster, except that there is so much other knitting to do and i don’t have a firm deadline to keep me on course.

a series of unfortunate events put me a bit behind on my ensemble summer lace KAL projects; good thing my switchgrass skirt design knit up quickly in a very short time and according to plan in my favorite hemshaugh fingering yarn. it starts out with a very easy variation on a knit/purl rib.

and with plenty of time to get established in a rhythm, we throw in a few yarnovers to break up the solid fabric, then a few more, and so on, in a swirl of textured eyelets reminiscent of tall summer grasses.

the hem opens up in a mesh pattern with some increases that cause it to riffle just a bit as it moves—not enough to become an actual ruffle, but enough to suggest it. i really like the effect, personally.

as with many just-knit hemp fabrics, this one looks a bit sorry when it’s off the needles, but a good soak in a hot bath helps the stitches lengthen and smooth into shapes that conform beautifully, making the whole thing drape like a dream.

mine is knit in the kasha shade and barb knit hers in the buckwheat shade; i will add a photo later this evening—she’s wearing it to knit night and david will take some photos.

we sure do love a drawstring skirt like this for summer—easy to pull on and wear, whether to the beach or out to dinner. mine is paired on our model raina with the sleeveless violet top in hempshaugh lace, color millet.

in june, we explored suri alpaca using the suri decadence blend from still river mills. this luscious lace yarn could not have been more different in the hand and the contrast has been a great learning experience for all of us. i designed the crescent shawl above and the cowl below to take advantage of its soft, liquid drape and incredible halo.

these coffee-and-cream shades have golden highlights served up by a measure of muga silk that is enfolded into the suri.

now i bet you’re wondering when i’m going to mention those swatches at the top of the post, huh? well, i think the time has come . . . aren’t they intriguing? let me just say, i am SO in love with them.

i carry a few of them around in my project bag because they are so much fun to fondle, haha. they really are as tactile as they look . . . it’s stitch patterns like this that made me want to learn to knit as a toddler—i just love digging my fingers right in to explore every bit of their squidly shapes. that sounds somewhat naughty, yes, but there you go; i’m baring all, haha.

anyway . . .

what i’ve been knitting with this motif is what i hope will be an irresistible drop-shoulder summer tunic, loose and light with a riffle of shifty rib along the hem and a wide band of tighter rib securing the neck and sleeve. can you envision it?

if not, i’ll show you how it’s progressing. i finally got it on the needles a couple of weeks ago and once it was underway it has been knitting up seriously fast.

those cables have a lot of stitches so i was rather dreading the actual knitting, but was pleasantly surprised at how mesmerizing and rhythmic the pattern actually is.

while it looks complex, the stitches are pretty simple and those cables only cross every twenty-four rows; i made some good progress on a daily basis. if you enjoy knitting lace, you’ll probably like this one.

but best of all, there is almost no shaping involved; it’s two big rectangles of straight pattern with a wee bit of neck shaping near the top. normally, i don’t go for this type of sweater at all because it can overwhelm my frame, but in such a light fabric with lovely drape, i’m an enthusiast.

somewhere in there i took some time to knit yet another swatch in our deco lace yarn (right, above) just to see if it would work as i’d hoped. and yeesss, it does. in fact, i like it so much that i think i might knit a shortie version of this tunic in it—just long enough to graze the top of the hip in front and maybe a little longer in back? i think that would be so pretty with a maxi skirt or shorts (i still have plans to knit shorts with hempshaugh fingering at some point).

and all that air-conditiong built right in? it’s a no brainer for me and will be a key drama piece in my ever-expanding hempshaugh summer wardrobe (i told you, i am aiming for 100% at some point!).

now, i know this texture might look bulky in my progress shots, but trust me, it all smooths out beautifully after a wash. here, just take a look at this

i finished up the front yesterday and had to wash it to see what i’ve got (i get nervous about outcomes, too!). it’s perfect—smooth, consistent stitches and no bumps, but offering tons of depth, nevertheless. LOVE.

the neck is w-i-d-e, with a ribbed trim almost equal to the bottom hem. the shoulders drop and will have a deep ribbed hem as well, to create a “sleeve” that falls toward the elbow (not sure how long that will be, yet. i’m so in love; i can’t wait to get the back knit now.

cast on earlier today, so i’d be ready to roll for knit night tonight. two hours of knitting with friends—here i come!

let’s catch up a bit

Posted on 4 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

hey gang! it might seem like i disappeared completely the last couple of months but i didn’t. we’ve had some big and little changes around here and i’ve been working behind the scenes a little more than usual. knitting is also happening; surprisingly more than you’d think but less than i’d like, haha. today i’m going to do a quick survey to update you on all the goings on of the last month or so and then tomorrow, i’ll do a more sedately-paced post about my knitting progress and home life (i.e., dog and garden update, hee-hee!).

our manager erica betz left her position with us in april to take a job at another company and we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors! this was a pretty big and sudden shift for us and it all happened so fast that i needed to move over to the office to do her job, hire her replacement, and help our new manager, ellen, get situated.

and we are very excited to welcome ellen into our work family; she brings many years of knitting and textile industry experience to our company and it couldn’t be a better fit. i know you’ll enjoy getting acquainted; if you have a need to communicate with her, please use any of the same email addresses as before to make contact. you will also see ellen participating in our ravelry groups and working in the booth at our show events, so stop and say hello!

in fact you’ll have a chance this coming weekend, when we’ll be exhibiting at the great lakes fiber show in wooster, OH; our booth is in the 4-H building, which is the large one right near the parking lot. we’ll have all of our yarns, tons of samples, and boxes of patterns for you to browse and buy. we’ll also have a variety of kits for sale, which were so popular at maryland earlier this month.

the wooster show is a wonderful fiber event—big enough to draw many reputable vendors from all over the midwest region, but small enough to feel homey and allow you to visit each booth in relative relaxation. if you live within a comfortable radius, consider coming out for the show; it’s just a short drive from several surrounding states. plus there are excellent fair fries for lunch—i know that’s going to be MY lunch on at least one day. i’m very excited that our friend and knitter extraordinaire cherie will be joining us for the weekend; i’m SO looking forward to her visit in our home!

i’ll be teaching my yarn voyage class on sunday morning from 9am to 12pm, although i believe online signups have closed. i don’t know if they are taking any late signups, but if you missed it and really want to get in, you could try contacting the organizers to inquire.

once again this year our experience showing at the maryland sheep and wool was everything we’d hoped it would be and more! our booth was jammed all day on saturday and most of sunday as well, although at least that day most people were able to get in for a visit. in fact, we’ve spent much time this month figuring out what we need to reorder for the rest of our summer shows and events.

here we are before the show opened on saturday, putting the last touches on our booth setup. hannah was on hand as well, though she’s behind the camera for this photo. we had no idea at this point that the next time we’d step out of the booth would be at 6pm, haha! all good problems to have, i think.

what we love about doing these shows is getting to see old friends and getting to know new ones. our booth is the place where we can meet face to face and help shoppers personally. it’s a truly pleasant experience for one thing, but for another, i always feel better sending someone off with a project knowing that they were able to get questions answered and find just the right fit for yarn and pattern.

i was really touched by how many booth visitors asked about our doggie, cardigan—so many had read her story and showed concern for her continued health and wellness. i will do a big update about her in the next post—there is a lot to show and tell—even if i hadn’t fallen madly head over heels in love with her (which i have, haha). i mean, just look at her; she’s adorable, right? both david and i have been working with her a lot in the process of bringing her into our family, but talk about time well spent—it is a continually gratifying experience.

the whole office has been involved in preparing a special treat for our next knitspot club adventure, a delightful tumble down the rabbit hole of color, color, and more color! you know we like to change it up with our clubs to keep everyone intrigued and involved and hannah especially has put a lot of thought into making this one a unique experience.

for the first time in our club history, participants will have a choice of yarn packages. the idea here is to explore how color reflects our inner personality and how design can change and morph with a shift in color perspective. when you sign up, you will have a choice of purchasing the “mood” package or the “lifter” package—and double dippers can choose one of each if they like or lots of the same. MOOD will be represented in color as subtlety, depth, and/or shade, while LIFTER will be represented by brightness, playfulness, and light. if you love using a pop of color to accent a wardrobe of neutral basics, the LIFTER option might appealing; if you prefer to present yourself in an ombre of subtle tones, then MOOD may be your ticket. projects will be accessory pieces designed to use one or two skeins of any combination.

this photo provides the sort of inspiration i am working from to come up with design ideas for this concept club; to me, it embodies all the aspects of working with one color “camp” or the other and the combination as well. look at the beautiful depth in the decaying tree stump and then the pop of color from the frilly fungi growing within its cavern.

we are super excited to bring this club to you; it’s been in the planning for quite some time. there will be three bi-monthly  installments of yarn, patterns, and goodies to begin in september—what a way to kick off the fall season! we’ve chosen some standout dye partners to participate—hedgehog fibres, zen yarn garden, and asylum fibers. we are opening signups to our current clubbies now (those enrolled in our BNK 2017)—check your mailbox for the eBlast. general signups will open to everyone on june 4th. if this sounds like a fun ride, we’d love for you to join us!

ok, that’s it for the moment, but i’ll be back soon with another post and i hope to see you this weekend. if you can’t make it, please join us on 6/4 for our next color adventure.