Archive for November, 2011

my cookie jar is happy

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

yesterday was monday. and dreary. and well, . . . monday.
maybe it’s because i worked all weekend, or maybe it’s the fact that it feels like it’s getting dark by 10 am these days, but i woke up in serious need of a change of pace. so instead of heading for my desk to answer email first thing, i got out the ingredients to bake cookies.

much better idea.

david’s favorite are oatmeal chocolate chips, so i decided on those. my recipe is a variation of the one that appears on the back of the name brand oatmeal box—really, it’s a great recipe.

usually, i separate out some of the dough because i prefer mine with fruit and no chocolate, but this time, i just made them all with chocolate and then added some dried cherries to one panful.

i served the chocolate cherry ones in knitting class yesterday afternoon (i hope they don’t get used to it!).

the rest went into the cookie jar for mister knitspot.

can i just say that i sorta think the cookie jar looks like mister knitspot? where do i get this from?

i’m completely untempted to eat them because of the chocolate, isn’t that strange? i like chocolate—let’s face it, i love chocolate—but i like it separate from my oatmeal cookie.

and now my cookie jar is happy with a belly full of fresh cookies.

i’ve been super productive about getting caught up on pattern writing and other office stuff since i got home and i’ve been knitting up a storm, too, but a lot of that has been on a secret project, sorry to say.

such as the case may be, i still have progress photos on a couple of accessory projects that will make great christmas gifts, in case you’re still looking.

these almondine spinoff mitts (i’m thinking of naming them “twig and leaf” or “twig and bud”) are nearly done and i’m hoping tonight to cast on for the matching beret. isn’t the yarn gorgeous?? it’s zen yarn garden serenity 20. i just love this color—frosted teal—it makes my heart sing every time i look at it.

and it goes so well with my owl bag, hehe.
they are super-fun to knit; they knit up a lot more quickly than they would appear to, despite their length (and you can make them shorter if you’re pressed for time).

tomorrow, i’m going to write the pattern up for these and send it off to proofing. we are this close to having a final pattern for the fartlek hat i showed you the other day.

ok yeah, i sorta picked that name to make you laugh—cuz, why not?—but it’s totally relevant, too (look it up here). and there’s a pattern coming for the wristlets that match the motheye scarf as well. it’s that time of year i love best—coming up with really quick, fun gift knits.

i started my red scarf yesterday, too. i struggled just a little coming up with the right design for it—it has to be something unisex, but i wanted it to be a quick knit, too, because it has to be kinda long. and the yarn has some texture to it, so the stitch pattern had to agree with that, too.

as you can see, i think i got it all to work together—the yarn is briar rose kindness, the base for which comes from my favorite merino mill, mountain meadow wools. it’s a merino singles that is wrapped with a fine, 2-ply silk strand to add a little bling. i love it. chris has dyed it the most gorgeous red, just perfect for this project. she is dyeing up red kindness as we speak, to add to the store, so don’t fret if you don’t see it today; it is on its way.

i called upon the david sock for inspiration, using a ribbed hem and an openwork pattern with lots of garter to keep it lightweight without being “lacy”. it is knitting up so fast, it’s making my head spin—i’ve already got about twelve inches completed, yay; it’s great TV knitting.

i will be sending this off to the red scarf project, but even more importantly, i’ll write up a pattern to sell, with the intention that all the december proceeds from it will go to the foster care to success red scarf fund.

it’s a great fund that helps kids who don’t have families to get through college by providing not just scholarship money, but guidance and help with the essentials of life. if you think about how much your own kids need you to help them navigate the system and then imagine what it would be like if they didn’t have you there, you’ll have an idea of what a big gap it is to fill.

we’ll be giving more information about all that in the days to come, but for now, i’m off to a pretty good start.

ETA: oooh, and another thing—put a reminder on your calendar for tomorrow, because steven over at bitches get stitches is hosting a giveaway event for world aids day, to raise cash for the pittsburgh aids task force. because i met stephen at rhinebeck and because pittsburgh is kind of in our back yard, david and i joined with other yarnies to put up a couple of prizes for his event. the prize list is awesome, but you have just one day—tomorrow, dec 1—to participate, so don’t be left out of the fun!

now, i think i hear my knitting calling me, so i’m going to go find it.

stashing

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

i dunno about where you live, but in our back yard, the squirrels are really loading it on this year—the other day i was startled by what i thought was a groundhog leaping out of the brush along the side of the yard. it took me a minute to realize that is was actually just a squirrel which had grown to a grossly disproportionate size.

it’s been a couple of years since i’ve seen them put on this much weight; in fact last year, i got a little concerned about how skinny they still looked in november (totally misplaced, i know—they survived just fine). and the garden is completely riddled with little nut-sized hidey holes—i keep finding stashes of nuts while digging for carrots.

not that i should talk—every time i leave home i come back with a couple of bags of yarn and this recent trip was no exception. there were, after all, many treasures to plunder along the way . . .

i have to say though, that my very favorite acquisition of all are these gorgeous sweet onions gifted to me from pat h. (i wish i knew her rav name!). they are SO going into a pot of chili this weekend, haha. our onions turned out ok for our first time growing them, but nothing like these, which are large and firm and beautiful—i have total onion envy pat, thank you for sharing.

and this tiny treasure is another favorite—a beaded butin earring kit from laura nelkin designs. it seems that circumstances are conspiring to get me to knit with beads; i love these earrings and i think they’ll make a nice gift for my niece. looks like i’ll be sitting down soon to try my hand at it . . .

another gorgeous gift was this bundle of crack spinning fiber gifted to me by kristen—a cloud-soft blend of alpaca and merino from her family farm. she has a friend with a mini mill in her garage who blended it for her—wow, it feels like it was carded by hand.

also in the bag from her was this luscious batt of spinning bunny fiber—just look at that blend of yumminess. it’s so soft you can’t feel where it begins and ends.

here, fondle that for a bit, you’ll see . . .

(i know, so delightfully naughty, hee-hee!)
the color is amazing, too; a purple person’s dream of a colorway.

at the knitters review retreat each year,there is a small, but well thought and well-stocked marketplace. for the dozen or so vendors that participate, it’s often the last show of the exhibiting year, but far be it from any of these top-shelf fiberistas to offer us the year-end leftovers—oh no.

this is an event that holds a dear place in their hearts as well as ours—they don’t just come to sell, they also participate in the retreat itself, so they are part of the KR community.

when the doors open on saturday afternoon, each booth is a jewel box of color and texture, many of them holding at least one new and special offering, out just in time for the retreat weekend. it’s sort of a kickoff for the holidays as well, minus the noise and confusion of mall shopping.

when i walked in the door this year, i realized that not only were some of my favorite yarnies represented, but that three of them were dyers that participated in our fall in full color club—wow.

on friday during setup time, i visited the spirit trail fiberworks booth after class to grab the best stuff for myself before showtime on saturday give my friend jen a hug and look at what-all she has that’s new. and if you didn’t see it the other day, this is one of those new items

holda, a lambswool/cashmere/angora blend, so new that jen hasn’t had a chance to list colorways yet. this one is colorway fig and i also had colorways winter solstice (blue) and seaweed (green)

but they have since been knit into these luscious hats. the fabric is incredibly lovely—light, but dense and warm, soft enough to slouch into a perfectly irresistible pout.

one is in stockinette and the other is in reverse, with the decrease lines forming a detail at the top.

yep, pattern will be available soon; sometime this coming week. and i think by then, jen will have the holda stocked up in her online shop. it will include both version of the hat fabric. that was fast, eh??

that’s how it is with this yarn—you just don’t want to take your hands off it (i know you know what i mean). it’s all i can do not to cast on for a third hat, but i want some mitts too. i don’t have enough leftovers to knit a matching pair, but i’ll reserve the third skein for those; i don’t care if they match, haha.

with the leftovers i have, i’m knitting earbands—something to wear on less windy days (it’s turned warm here today; 60 degrees). i’m pretty sure i have enough left for one of each (i may have to cannibalize my green swatch, but that’s ok).

now this skein of elysium cashmere was not in jen’s booth—this was a really nice gift she presented to me when i arrived at the hotel on thursday night. she sure knows how to make me smile—cashmere AND gray?? wow; i’m so honored to have such a talented friend.

but that’s not the end of the spirit trail (or cashmere) love—oh no.

jen has added another yarn weight to her bespoke line of merino/cashmere/silk bases with this 4-ply worsted version she’s named verdande.

it’s a nice chubby, quick-knitting yarn with a smooth hand for those heavier winter sweaters and accessories, perfect for christmas gift knitting.

and even though nona isn’t new, it’s still one of my favorite lace knitting yarns—sleek and smooth, with a generous measure of luxury fiber content and lovely sheen, it’s just about perfect—a weight that allows me to make good, steady progress (even with my aging eyes), yet achieve beautifully fluid and lacy results. i couldn’t resist this “special copper tones” colorway—a one-off batch of rich, deep rust with a splash of almost-cranberry—special, indeed.

still reeling from jen’s booth, cookie and i stumbled over to the string theory display, where karen and her mom ruth were unpacking their gorgeous skeins of yarn.

see what i mean? this is their merino/cashmere/nylon caper sock in colorway fusion. it’s hard to explain how their colors affect me, but let’s just say i fall in love over and over in the face of them. they have this really interesting glow that comes from deep within the yarn, which is washed over with glazes of subtly shifting colors; it’s such a beautiful effect.

string theory created our november club yarn, which is a delicious chocolate brown, burnished with gold. simply amazing.

last weekend i came home with two skeins from their BFL line, bluestocking sock (left) in colorway skerry and blue faced sport (right) in lichen.

i just love me a sock yarn with a little tooth to it and i know david does too; this blend will could make him some great socks. however, i have a feeling this is one of those socks yarns that also has nice drape (due to a less bouncy fiber and twist) and would make a pretty shawlette.

(not that david is beyond wearing a shawlette—he’s getting plenty of use from the blue bandana scarf i made last month.)

and the sport is an excellent choice for a sweater; i knit my highlander from a similar yarn and it’s one of my warmest, most well-worn sweaters.

on the last day, when they were taking the booth down, karen prompted me to take a look at their seri silk lace yarn—something i hadn’t seen during the unpacking. this is very interesting—it’s a fine silk laceweight that’s smooth, but not slippery; it’s quite lovely and i bet it grips the needles very nicely. i haven’t tested it out yet, but i’m looking forward to maybe making a christmas gift with it—that charcoal color is perfect for at least a few people on my list.

in between spirit trail and string theory was the foxfire fiber and design booth; owner, barb parry has been in a couple of classes with me before and she also exhibits at rhinebeck, where i have many times fallen down in her booth on beautifully prepared and dyed fibers for handspinning . . . she no longer offers dyed spinning fiber, but we love undyed too, don’t we?

(mmmm, cormo/camel/silk—who needs colors??)

barb is exhibiting less these days because she has switched to a CSA business model—one way of cultivating a deeper interest and involvement from fiber customers (reservations for the 2012 shares are now available).

she sent me home with a sampling of yarns that could be included in a CSA package—the cormo/camel/silk mentioned earlier, the cormo/mohair singles pictured above and the cormo/alpaca/silk below in the rosy raisin colorway

the pride of the farm are the über-healthy cormo and border leicester sheep that barb has bred and raised since 1997 for the purpose of fiber production. anyone who has knit with or spun with her fiber can tell you that she knows what she’s doing.

yarns not distributed to CSA members are sold in the foxfire fiber online shop; the yummy cormo/alpaca/silk is joined there by several other choices in lace, fingering, and DK weight yarns.

now last but certainly not least was the briar rose fibers booth, where i got to spend all of saturday afternoon hawking yarn and playing enabler helping out. chris’s newest offering is kindness, a silk-wrapped merino base yarn from mountain meadow wools (and you know how we love them!).

i had a couple of people knitting with this in class on friday and boy, does it make a beautiful bittersweet vines set. i had to sit on my hands to keep from stealing mary rose’s knitting while she was in the ladies room . . . just sayin’.

i’m going to cast on for a scarf with this yarn as soon as i can get away from this computer for the day (and time is running out on the day, so i’ll have to do that soon).

chris also had a ton of beautiful new sea pearl to sell—for about five minutes—along with the blümchen sweater pattern.

dawn and i worked the crowd that flooded her booth as soon as the doors opened, helping customers pick out the right yarn and colorways for successful projects. we had so much fun—it’s becoming a tradition that i look forward to at retreat time. i think we sent more than a few knitters away happy . . .

and with that, i think i’m at the end of my show and tell for the day. i’ll be back soon with more knitting—it’s that time of year when projects need to get done fast and furiously, so we have an adventurous month ahead of us.

and it’s officially christmas season—bret started decorating his house today)

BARE NAKED KNITSPOT CLUB

Friday, November 25th, 2011

bare naked

Announcement:

Today we launch the official opening of Bare Naked Knitspot Club. In this club we will knit with a variety of fibers in their natural, undyed state to learn about and appreciate the unique characteristics of each. Join us on this most wonderful exploration.

We are so excited about this new offering and look forward to sharing, seeing completed projects and our collective interaction. For more information regarding the Club, click here.

We would love for you to join us, those of you that are new to Knitspot’s Club click here to join.

Current Fall in Full Color members, click here to login to your FiFC account to add new BNC membership.

Please note, memberships are limited.

I welcome all inquiries, please contact me at clubbing@knitspot.com

Thank you and enjoy.

Mister Knitspot

now, where were we??

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

how true . . .

i didn’t fall off the face of the earth, though i did visit some beautiful places where i wanted to . . . SO much to share about last week’s travels! i knew it would be a super-busy week, with no time to keep the blog updated on my many stops, so we had some nice book reviews and giveaways instead.

which means i have winners to announce before we do anything else:
the winner of the rizzoli edition of vogue knitting is romi!
i couldn’t help laughing when i pulled up her name; we’ve been friends since the first year of the blog, i think and she finally won a book, yay!

and the winner of coastal knits is connie; congratulations connie!

ooof, this was the scene in my entryway this morning—and that’s AFTER a bunch of stuff was put away. everywhere i look today, there is something urgent to take care of. it’s always like that when i get home; i don’t know where to turn first. but i know i want to blog, so let’s get started.

that is the only picture i have of my stay in rochester, can you believe it? i was so busy having fun with guild members that my camera went sadly unused the whole weekend. even my knitting was minimal, though i did get my hazel knits shawlette off to a good start

this color is one that i created when cookie and i visited with wendee last march, but it’s really close to a colorway that she has in her shop called entice. for some reason, i was happily able to add rows after classes for several days and it grew quickly—enough to get it to the point where i may want to start the hem

which means it requires some thinking time, which is why progress halted for the remainder of my travels. now that i’m home, we can commence with whatever is next for this piece.

another item i got started there were some wristlets to match the motheye scarf—a little project to use up my leftover yarn

this was a great take-along piece, as it tucked easily into my purse and was little enough to work on at the table, while chatting before dinner.

we had classes for three full days and then i gave a talk on monday night to the membership at large—which totals about 350, a very big guild. they made sure to welcome me warmly and took great care of me while i was there. rochester rocks!

and to prove that i listened attentively to the recommendations of local knitters . . .

this is the first stop we made after cookie landed on tuesday morning. now if you live anywhere but rochester, you might think it odd that we celebrated our reunion at the grocery store, but then, you probably don’t have wegman’s in your neighborhood.

virtually every person i talked to in rochester asked me if i had been there yet. the truth is, i had been to wegman’s many years ago when it was new to the area, but not recently. each person in turn gave me a knowing nod and then sagely recommended i make a visit. i knew just the person to go with, hee-hee!

and i wasn’t wrong. she had also been told to visit by some people (i’m guessing on twitter). so off we went.

and it was a lot of fun. first of all, they really do have almost everything there, especially at the flagship store we visited in pittsford.
(full disclosure, however—we didn’t find truffle honey there, but i bet they’ll carry from now on, haha; several staff members are now alerted to its existence.)

but they did have sheep’s milk yogurt and nice breads

and many, many fine cheeses, including manchego and a soft italian one with truffles that turned out to be sublime (it totally made up for the lack of truffle honey to go with the manchego).

once we were equipped with a picnic of delicacies and essentials, we headed off to trumansburg to visit our friend laura nelkin, a fellow designer who we had plans to stay with for a couple of days (you saw her in the motheye photo shoot).

she loved the truffle cheese, too, heh. we had a wonderful visit at her home; it was really generous of laura and her family to have us there and to let us get to know them.

once we had some lunch that first day, we headed out for taughannock falls state park and some light hiking on the trails around the gorge.

it was just wonderful to be outside in one of my favorite places on earth once again

accompanied by nocce the dog, we made the circuit on the upper rim trail and then went below to the lower one, then up again back to the car.

and in between there was this

and this

and so much more—the running waters made a fantastic background.

back at the house, laura made a yummy butternut squash soup while we kept her company. i worked some more on my shawlette that first night, but soon switched to my zen yarn garden mitts as the daylight waned.

this design is a variation on the socks i designed for ann budd’s sock knitting master class, but also on the butternut scarf i designed a few years ago. obviously, i love this motif, heh. and the yarn is zen yarn garden serenity silk + in colorway frosted teal.

these photos were taken later in the trip, but give you a good idea of what the result will be. there will be a matching beret as well, with graduated motifs; i’ve yet to begin that piece, which requires me to sit and think for a bit about how it will be constructed and shaped. i always think i’ll do lots of that in my hotel room during the evenings and it never happens; travel teaching is just tiring and some day i will admit that before i leave home with a bag full of knitting to do.

now that i’m home, i should have it on the needles soon . . . meanwhile, i have one mitt left to finish, and i’m pretty far along on that—it was a good project to tote around and work on here and there.

the next day was wednesday last week and while we planned to maybe take another hike, the weather wasn’t looking so cooperative. so instead, we decided to head for the wine trail and get a photo shoot in somewhere along the way.

the views along seneca lake were stunning that day—rain clouds hovered, but held off just long enough to get some beautiful photos of my friends, who graciously modeled the most recent design for us.

the willows were absolutely brilliant; that single bright yellow one anchored almost every photo. these that were further from the lake were just beginning to turn

a phenomena we noticed everywhere last week—where most trees had completely shed their leaves, here and there were single ones that were still green or in full color and randomly so, as if a tiny microclimate exists just around their immediate perimeter.

the weather only held off for so long and eventually it began to rain in earnest, so we packed up the cameras and headed for warmer environments.

we tasted some wine at damiani cellars, where they really know their tastes. we loved that the descriptions of the wine flavors and scents were so accurate.

across the parking lot was finger lakes distilling, which immediately caught our attention—personally, i find nice liquor even more interesting than wine. since laura had never been, we decided it was a must stop.

and i’m so glad we went in. i had never been to a micro distillery before—i didn’t even know they existed, legally—and i found the whole idea both exciting and fascinating. we did a tasting of bourbon, gin, rye whiskey, pear brandy, and a few liquers.

the gin and bourbon were especially interesting; i brought home several bottles for future entertaining and for gifts.

i also worked on my lace wristlets at laura’s house—once i saw how quickly they were knitting up, i decided i should finish so we could block them in class at the upcoming retreat over the weekend

mission accomplished—they were almost done when we left on thursday. we lingered a bit through the morning and early afternoon, nibbling on cheese and fruit for lunch while we lazily chatted with laura. finally though, it was time to pack the car and get going—we had knitters to see.

some of whom you might even be familiar with!
next stop was canandaigua on the lake, where the knitters review retreat was moved this year. what a great location for this lovely event—it’s one of my favorite to attend, so low key and restful; there is plenty of time to enjoy the good company around one.

(ok, well, maybe these two troublemakers are not the best example of good company, but trust me, there was plenty)

ah, here we go, this is more like it, heh. louise and mary (left and right) are returnees for many years at the KR retreat, but this was mary rose’s first time. she was in my class on friday, which was a complete delight (we did bittersweet vines as a project; everyone learned a lot and we had a great time, right nancy?).

susan, another long-time returnee makes treats every year and this year was no exception—we had sheep cookies for dessert! (cookie ate three of them, hahaha, but to be fair, they were delectable).

the next morning we had a blocking class, for which i had saved a few recent FOs in case we needed extras. WHAT a great class!

sigh . . . you know, this is my fourth or fifth les abeille shawlette and i don’t think i’ll ever get tired of knitting it.

i already feel like casting on another, but i really need to do some christmas knitting on other projects. we’ll see—if i’m good, i’ll let myself make one over the december holidays . . .

meanwhile, this one will go onto the gift pile.

it’s knit up here in the sea pearl that was left over from my blümchen sweater. i love how dressy and pretty it turned out—perfect for its recipient.

the wristlets got a nice blocking and now they are ready for modeling. i just need to get david and myself up and running before dark one of these days.

i received a copy of clara’s newest book this weekend as well—the much anticipated knitter’s book of socks. if there is a sock question that isn’t answered in it, maybe it’s better not to ask!

now all of that was fine and dandy, an incredibly fun and relaxing weekend and rewarding as well. but i think my most favorite-est thing of all, the one thing that really epitomizes and sums up the tone of this weekend is this:

my dear friend chris holding her very first lace knitting—just look at it; isn’t it great?? she is so proud about it, too and rightly so. she and dawn worked together to make a les abeilles from her new kindness yarn. they used a larger needle with this worsted weight yarn and knit the smallest size to create a cozy, generous shoulder shawl.

but most of all, they pushed themselves to do something new. we blocked the piece in class and amazed them with the transformation. even though they see blocking on the blog all the time, it’s still amazing when you see it in person.

one of the things that happens at every KR retreat is the new beginnings on sunday morning during knitting church. this is where participants begin a new project and share the first stitches with other participants, a little like getting your yearbook signed by as many people as you can.

i started mine with a new offering from spirit trail fiberworks, which jen gifted to me on my visit to her booth friday afternoon. this is holda, a 12-ply lambswool/cashmere/angora blend that makes a lovely dense-but-drapey fabric with a soft halo.

i cast on for a hat—i’m in need of a particular hat to wear for running; what i want is something thin and lightweight, but dense enough to keep out some wind. i’ve been thinking that a very soft, smurfy-style hat which i can roll and scrunch at will would be perfect, but wondered what yarn i could use. i didn’t want anything too stiff like sock yarn—it needed to be very drapey.

and then jen plopped this right into my hands. wow. it is so perfect, it’s a little scary. i could hardly hold off from casting on, but i made myself wait til sunday to do it.

i finished it monday night when i got home (i told you i need it).
this morning i washed it and laid it out to dry. as you can see it’s a long-ish hat that will slouch at the back when i wear it—unless i pull it down tight and double up the brim for extra warmth. the extra length gives it some versatility.

it’s still damp in these photos, but you get the idea. i think you can tell, too how very soft and light it is. perfect.

as you know, i took up running in the spring and i’ve been pretty successful at keeping it going—i continue to improve week by week and even had a big breakthrough while i was away on this trip. it’s been a great source of inspiration for me this year. i’m still learning what clothes i’ll need to wear as the seasons pass; knitting the hat is preparation for winter, when i know i’ll need an extra head layer, but i won’t want anything heavy.

anyway, i think i hit it with this one—so perfect, i cast on another right away last night before bed, this time in winter solstice, a deep soldier blue. the new one won’t have stitches at the edge that were knit by all of the retreat participants, but it will still conjure up all the wonderful moments this retreat contained and honor my budding friendship with jen, who is completely lovely.

now i think it’s time to stop for today, but there is still all the yarn to show you, so it’s certainly not the end. i’ll be back . . .
and don’t forget, signups for our bare naked spring project club will open on friday—click here or here to read all about what’s in store.