Archive for 2011

a whirl of holiday activity

Monday, December 12th, 2011

now that my eyes have officially been opened to the fact that the twelve days of christmas are upon us, i think i’m finally getting into the spirit of the season (snort—took me long enough).

i am suddenly a powerhouse of efficiency and organization in the gifting department—or at least, what passes for one around here, haha.

hey, it’s state of mind, right??

the new mitts and beret samples are off the needles, washed, and blocked. the pattern is being test knit (so far hattie is very enthusiastic, especially about her mitts).

the working title has been twig and leaf but i’m changing it—i’ll explain about that in the release post.

i love the way the beret turned out; it’s not really huge in diameter (10.5 inches, tops), but it’s a nice and slouchy. the ZYG serenity 20 yarn provides a nice springy fabric without stiffness; the silk content gives the motif some dimension. this one is the bigger size, so it’s not a good fit for me, but it will be perfect on helena, who has promised to model it for us later this week. i may knit another one for myself, but i’m not sure yet when.

i made a couple of tweaks and sent the pattern to proofing on saturday; for those who have been waiting, we should be able to publish it near the end of this week, yay.

the other day, i came across the beginnings of a cabled keyhole scarf in a project bag.

when i say the beginnings, i mean that sometime last christmas season, i cast on for it, knit one row, and then put it in a travel bag, never to be touched again.

til now.

you know, some behaviors just defy good sense.
here i had a perfectly delicious 3-hour project in a gorgeous—no, make that luscious—red luxury yarn (spirit trail birte) that’s a dream to knit and for months it’s been hidden away where i can’t see it.

i could have knit this during an airport layover in august or september with time to spare, but did i do it then?? NO. then i noticed that this pattern has been selling very steadily this week and it jogged my memory, so i went looking for it—it will be a great color for almost anyone.
good thing it takes practically no time to make.

anyway, i took it out friday night and sat down with it while we watched TV. saturday i took it over to debby’s and finished it while we visited. i came home and blocked it that afternoon (friends, it doesn’t even require pins; just lay it out and pat into shape), so inside of 24 hours, i had this:

uh, that’s a serious no-brainer in my book.
as one member of our ravelry group put it . . . it takes more time to dry than it takes to knit (good to know!)
i know at least three or four people who would love this.

but the best part??

first, i made it from leftovers that i had on hand from one that i knit last year (so you can easily get two of these from one skein of birte)

and secondly, barb gave me some matching leftovers in the lighter weight sunna yarn to knit some coordinating fine cabled mitts. i haven’t knit a pair of these in several years and i’m enjoying every stitch with this yarn.

i did do one thing right; all of the supplies for both projects were in the one bag, where i kept them all year—i didn’t even have to organize it. i’ll have to remember that one for the future . . . when a brilliant idea hits, put the supplies together—it could save a future holiday.

okay, now i gotta change gears to tell you about my new favorite quick knit obsession—the earwarmer band. another piece that was inspired by my new-ish running habit, which has quickly morphed into what i see as the perfect gift for almost everyone on my list (mostly kids).

i cast on for this with my holda leftovers during the after-high of completing two fartleks in just a few days and proceeded to work one row while i was cooking something (that’s all i remember). i must have put it down when the pot boiled or whatever and it’d been sitting around in that state for over a week when i picked it back up on saturday night while we watched TV.

at which time i became completely engrossed in making this piece happen. i wanted my earband shaped so that it completely covers my ears, but is narrow over my forehead. i have several of these in technical fabrics for cycling and i love them. i wanted something cozier for winter running and walking.

i worked on it til about 4 am that night and got one finished, but when i put it on, i felt the depth and shaping needed some tweaking. so i ripped it back to the point you see above and proceeded to write out a working pattern yesterday afternoon, using more better math to get closer to the perfect shape. last night when it was time to relax and TV, i tried out my pattern.

okay, i’m going to go off a tangent here for just a sec—who is watching homeland???
omg, i may have fallen into its grip just a little, heh. i don’t even try to guess what’s going to happen next any more—i just love it, as much as i loved the killing and for all the same reasons.

alright now, stay on track, hanson . . . i was able to reknit the shaped portion in one sitting and when i put it on, it felt really good.

i waited til this morning to take a thorough look at it in the mirror (never critique your work seriously at 4 am) and i’m still very happy with it, yay. i particularly like the depth over the ears—a little more generous than the store-bought ones i own, it hugs my head nicely around that lower edge; i don’t think any wind is going to slice in there. i’m wearing what i think would be considered the largest kid size—about 16.5 inches around, stretching to fit my 20-ish inch head.

the holda makes a nice, lightweight band, but i could see this knit in a heavier yarn too for even more density on colder days. i’m going to play around with different weights for myself and the kids on my list. lightweight ones will be great for the texas and las vegas families; heavier will work better for the new york families. and if i can get some fingerless mitts knit for some of them, that will be gravy.

now i can knit one in my fig colored holda, too. i’ve got my own matching mitts on the needles as well, which are the epitome of simplicity—just a little texture top and bottom with all stockinette in between. currently, i’m waffling about whether to keep the shaping at the wrist; what do you think? is it necessary? desirable? too much trouble to bother with? (of course, it could just be an option—use it or not).

i’ll work more on those in class today.

and then, because everyone seems to love those keyhole scarves so much, there is this other super-quick project i’m toying with in shibui baby alpaca DK

i always thought that the large leaf lace pattern i used in maplewing would make an excellent keyhole scarf all on its own—it has voluptuous edges and curves—but i’ve been slow in making time to design it. the other day i sat down after class, threw this yarn on the needle, and just started knitting—that’s the best way for me to get things done sometimes.

i love this fjord color for winter—a beautiful blue, so flattering and un-christmassy. not that christmas is bad; i just need a break from red and green after a while and blue is so soothing to the mind this time of year, isn’t it?

i also really love the curling edges; i’m going to have to figure out how to keep some of that and still block it. i can totally see it going two different ways with equally lovely results—stretched and blocked so that it’s translucent and drapey, like large grape leaves or dense and curled at the edges a bit so it’s more dimensional, like fig or acanthus leaves.

decisions, decisions—good thing it’s a fast enough knit to make two; i can experiment to my heart’s content.

alright now, i’ve gotta scurry; i’ve got class later today and before that, i need to edit some photos and release the next pattern; look for it in just a few hours—moth kisses lace cuffs.

and don’t even mention that i didn’t mention david’s sweater—yet.

there’s nothing like good friends

Friday, December 9th, 2011

look what arrived at our door, JUST when we needed it most—a big box of california sunshine! our good friend kim and her boys, kade and sam, picked these for us from their own fruit orchard, then boxed them up and sent them for the holidays.

i can’t even describe how heavenly the downstairs smelled this morning with the scent of fresh citrus filling the air—like nothing we can create ourselves, a real treat.

and as if that by itself wasn’t enough

i got to sink my teeth into this for breakfast—mmmm, juicy and sweet. i’ve been planning all morning in my head what i’ll do with the rest. there’s lemon pie, lemon curd, and lemon cake—maybe even lemonade, just because we can. those oranges are going to be sliced for our christmas eve salad, i think.

thank you SO, SO much for your uproariously enthusiastic support of the crazy quilt fundraiser we are doing to benefit the red scarf project—it’s a good day to click that link; norma has an awesome photo and update of scarf drive progress so far, yay! as for us, we’ve sold over 150 copies of the pattern so far, with weeks to go before the end of the promotion.
thank you one and all.

ooooh, and guess what? i have some knitting to show you.

my mitts and beret project are working up a treat in zen yarn garden serenity 20. this springy, merino/cashmere/silk blend in colorway frosted teal is just perfect for this project.

the mitts are done now and the beret is progressing; last night i got past the biggest section and started decreasing, so i’m betting that the rest will go really fast—i might have it done by tomorrow. i’m anxious to see what kind of final yardage it will require; i don’t yet have a good idea of that. i’ve been working from two skeins, but it’s possible it can be done with one.

and in the anne has absolutely no self control department

last night, with a secret project that needs to get done and several potential gift knits in progress that i should finish and handsies to knit for all the kids, i had a fall-down instead and cast on for some seriously plain tailored mitts with my last skein of crack spirit trail holda, in colorway fig.

don’t ask what i was thinking, because i just don’t know; the yarn isn’t even in stock til january, since we already broke the supply chain on that one.

i’m panicking a little—i’ve suddenly realized that december is a runaway train and that i have something like one WEEK now to get ready for christmas.

let me clarify—i’ve actually been preparing for the knitspot christmas month for some time now and most of our business-related christmas activity is well under control. but my own holiday shopping, baking, and knitting goals have been de-prioritized too many times and as a result, virtually nothing has been prepared for the kids or my friends or even david—it’s shameful.

i know what you’re saying too—”she does this EVERY year! hmmm, now let me guess . . . next she’s gonna say that she’s starting a sweater TODAY for david’s gift!”

sigh—and you’d be half right. i’m not even starting a sweater today exactly, because i haven’t finished swatching. like everything else on my list, it’s started, but that’s as far as it’s gotten.
i think the appropriate word here would be—oy.

well, there’s no sense in getting bogged down in what i haven’t accomplished yet—that’s sure to end in a pity party, possibly with scotch involved. and we don’t need that.

let’s talk about that gorgeous yarn i’m swatching with.
see? instant pick-me-up. it’s friday after all—we need this: a yarn parade.

as it happens, i got two especially nice boxes of yarn this week (dyers are so accommodating, aren’t they??).
did you know that kim at the woolen rabbit has a whole schlew of new sport weight yarns? she does!

first, let’s talk about that deliciously dark sporty kashmir that i’m swatching with in colorway enchanted forest. it’s not on her site yet, but i bet she’s going to have listed soon.

this is the same merino/cashmere/nylon blend as her other kashmir yarns, now offered in a 3-ply sport, perfect for a guy sweater. it’s next-to-the-skin soft, but washable and has great recovery. david’s got a sweater that kim and i would love to tear off his back and burn, but i think it’s only fair to provide a replacement before making off with it, hehe.

the original has an extremely subtle knit/purl pebble stitch pattern that’s easy and quick to knit, so i’m going to give it the old college try, using the pattern i wrote for the old one if i can get gauge.

if that goes well, we’ll go into production with the pattern, probably with variations that are similar to the rené sweater.

and i’ll make use of this batch of sporty 3-ply SW merino to knit myself a cardigan in the (very anne) colorway olive tweed. i’ve been dying for an olive green sweater or two, so her timing couldn’t be more perfect.

but wait—that’s not all . . .

kim’s also got this cushy, soft-but-tough 8-ply merino sport yarn that would work equally well. maybe this one will become the vest version, hmmm. this new color, brown berry, was the result of a mistake, but when she saw it, she thought of me. and sure enough, every person who has seen it says “oh now, that’s an anne color”.
who knew i was so predictable?

and those are just the sport yarns she sent.

she also threw in a couple skeins of her WW kashmir, which i’ve been hearing about through the grapevine and was dying to see. i’m so glad she sent it in boney maroney, a beautiful light straw neutral.

and one of my all-time favorite woolen rabbit colorways—birch beer. this time dyed up on the airy base, a merino singles fingering yarn, perfect for shawls or very light, drapey sweaters.

are you fanning yourself yet??

because just when i thought i cooled down a bit from the excitement of that box, another box from another kim arrived in its wake.

haha, now this kim is very different from the other kim, but i love both their work with abandon, so i bet they’d really like each other, too.

anyway, indogo dragonfly kim sent me a box which arrived on the same day, also filled with droolworthy yarns of heartbreaking beauty. and the names—well, if you don’t know about her naming protocol and/or you need something to laugh out loud about right now, go take a look (hover your cursor over each square to read the names).

ok, now this first batch—DK polwarth silk—i know is practically unfair

kim wrote me about this green that “i know you won’t love at all”, haha, which translates in annespeak to “uh, never not green”. haha, she even named it with my favorite of her button slogans—”curse you and your inevitable betrayal”. to top off the perfectness of the green (and its name), the yarn a DK blend of polwarth and silk. there’s just two words for that—to die for, right?

(i know that’s four words, but a blend like this doesn’t give a whit about our rules)

so anyway, there’s nothing for it but to knit a sweater . . . something tells me i’m gonna be busy after christmas.

while i was opening this box, i could sorta hear the wheels turning in kim’s head; there’s no use in sending a box all the way from canada with just two skeins in it (even if they ARE big), is there? so while she was at it, she filled the extra spaces with a few other goodies—i bet she knows who loves yarn around here, huh?

this heap of gorgeousness is her MCS sock in a black colorway called “the pursuit of meh”. and even if you didn’t want to use it for socks, it would be unbelievably beautiful as a shawlette.

and then i think she must have gone and gotten a bigger box, in order to have more spaces to fill in, because there was a lot more treasure in its depths. above is her merino silk 4-ply sock, which is another perfect choice for a shawlette or any beautiful gift knit. it is exactly this type of yarn i used for the first spiraluscious and one i go back to repeatedly when i want that extra-special, sexy drape.

this merino single lace yarn has a lots of yardage for a larger, delicate lace piece, but it’s still got enough body to offer control and some speed in making progress.

and last but not least, evidence that otis the dog has been keeping a close eye on my blog; he knows that i’ve not been keeping up my sock knitting and that poor david has had no new socks in quite a while. to add insult to the injury of being called on the carpet by a dog, he’s double daring me to knit some over christmas with this merino/nylon sock yarn—HA! as if christmas is a holiday for me.

otis, i will try my darndest.

and with that the snow has begun to fly outside and it’s already getting dark (ok the dark is not news here in ohio). i think i’ll leave my desk for the day and head up to my knitting chair to watch the show from the warmth of my study.

there, i can place some of my new yarn on a very special gift i received today from my dear friend kat—isn’t this lovely? it’s a yarn holder that turns like a lazy susan to unwind your cake form the outside in, if that’s your preferred method. i think it will prove an awesome tool for plying singles from a cake as well (that might require a second one).

anyway, these are hand made (impeccably so, i fact) by a friend of kat’s from gorgeous hardwoods. which means that they take time, so you may not be able to get any before the holidays, but i’m going to show you his information anyway

and hopefully, he won’t be scared into retreat by the rush of requests he’s about to get.
be gentle please, he’s probably not used to us.

this weekend i’ll be finalizing the yarn picks and starting work on the first of the designs for our spring/summer barenaked club. it’s shaping up to be another fun adventure for members at all levels.

memberships are selling well, but we still have spots open at every level; if you’ve been toying with the idea of joining or wondering what it’s like, i invite you to check out the barenaked clubhouse or our fall in full color clubhouse to get an introduction to our methods and madness, haha.

we love you, we want you, we’ll do almost anything to enable you.

ok, my work here is done, i think; have a wonderful, safe weekend; i’ll be back with more in a couple of days!

crazy quilt scarf

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

oh boy, do i love this scarf—it turned out yummy!
if i wasn’t so excited to be sending this off to the the red scarf project, i’d be very tempted to keep it in the house, though david might fight me for it if i did.

i’m hoping against hope that it looks soooo luscious to you that the pattern is a must-have, to knit one for yourself or for another.

WHY?

because all the crazy quilt proceeds from now through december 31st 2011 will be contributed to the foster care to success red scarf fund.

the fund was created to helps kids who have aged out of the foster care system to achieve the goal of finishing a college degree. the fund provides and administers scholarships, life guidance, and help with handling the challenges of higher education.

so—plain and simple—please buy a pattern to benefit this cause.

and hey, if you want to knit a red scarf to send to the project as well, i will personally administer big hugs in your direction next time we run into each other. and—because i’m absolutely shameless—i bet david would too.

you won’t be sorry—this is another super-fast knit with a lot of bang for your buck. it’s handsome for a guy or pretty for a girl and cozy for everyone. and the perfect fit—if you need a gift in a hurry, or want a spare “just in case”, this pattern is your new best friend.

shown here in the spectacular briar rose kindness, a soft merino singles wrapped with a brilliant silk thread, in the magnificent red scarf colorway.

chris at briar rose fibers has dyed up a bunch of her this luscious red—truly to die for and will give you 10% off until december 31st if you use the code knitspot when you check out.

(hee-hee, doesn’t david look handsome today??)

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

yeah, he’s rockin’ that re-e-ed scarf alright . . .

many thanks to each of you . . . and merry, merry to all.

true red

Monday, December 5th, 2011

it is an unbeLIEVably dreary day outside here in canton, but inside, we have lots of warm and inspiring color to cheer things up—my red scarf is done.

i KNOW! it knit up so fast, didn’t it? i started it just last monday during my afternoon class and i finished it yesterday. and i admit, i did not pick it up every day in between—i think i sat down with it on two evenings, and then spent the afternoon yesterday finishing it. (these next couple photos are before blocking)

i did keep it down here on the dining room table, where i could pick it up to knit the odd row here and there, but not much of that actually happened (i have very little free time of that sort right now).

anyway, i’m also super happy about the way it turned out—it’s a very respectable size and weight, with lots of cush factor for the chilliest days. it’s playfully unisex, too, an important prerequisite for a red scarf project gift (and also, for our own gift boxes, right?). it doesn’t read as “lace” per se; if anything the openwork involved does more to highlight the unusual kinetics within the motif.

the pattern is all set to go as soon as the scarf is dry enough to take some photos. david will help me out with the modeling, i feel sure; we should have it all pulled together by late tomorrow or wednesday (we have a downtown appointment that should provide a nice environment for taking pictures).

meanwhile, chris at briar rose fibers has dyed up a bunch of her kindness yarn in this luscious red colorway—truly to die for; you’ll love it (she may need a little time to get that loaded onto her website, but it’s coming). chris will give you 10% off until december 31st if you use the code knitspot when you check out.

look what i came across in the living when i was getting ready to stretch and block that scarf

apparently, i misplaced these ripening tomatoes in my own living room.
i know what happened . . . david picked them just before our hard frost in early november and we spread them out to ripen under some newspaper on top of the pool table in the living room (which, i might add, is not a living room at all any more, but has now become the warehouse and hub for knitspot club central).

anyway, since i never go into the living room for living purposes any more, and since i spent a couple of weeks away from home, i promptly forgot about the tomatoes and only rediscovered them when i went into the back depths of the room to look for a blocking towel on our drying rack.

i swear, our home is actually MUCH more organized than it sounds—we just need to lose the confining and limiting labels—such as “living room” and “dining room”. those just don’t apply to us.

i think i’m digging a deeper hole for my case than i intended—maybe we should talk about something else.

i am so almost done knitting these mitts—i’m literally on the last row or so of the thumb, but i just could NOT keep my eyes open to finish them last night. our friend hattie was kind enough to knit a test pair as well and reports filial love for them as well as confirming that the pattern is in good shape. it’s going to the proofer next, as soon as i add the beret instructions into it.

meanwhile, i’ve got the ribbed brim for the hat finished
and i need to start the openwork part; i’ve been sorta doing this on autopilot and i figure i should catch my breath and begin to focus now that i’m at this point. so it’ might be another day or two before i get my act together on that (what with the scarf photos and pattern release in between).

and now i need to get ready for my afternoon class, so i’m going to stop here. but i do have a couple new patterns to release this week and another exciting yarn parade, so don’t stray too far over the next few days . . .