Archive for January, 2012

just a few more to go

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

club paper bag

As we conclude the Fall in Full Color club, thanks to all of you that have shared in this new venture. There have been so many wonderful comments,

“This is the best club, so glad I joined – CK”
“Incredibly beautiful yarn. Thank you both for a wonderful six months. Looking forward to the next club – JW”.

club cards

We have received some very kind and thoughtful cards and letters, I assure you there are more buried amongst these papers—please excuse the disorder of my desk.

And in kind, the interaction in the Ravelry clubhouse has also been absolutely great, a special thank you to Kat, Kim and Karolyn as moderators, you can not get better than these three. The clubhouse has morphed into this extended family of sorts, all of the stories, jokes, trading of yarn and the sharing of ideas. If you have not joined either Knitspot club, why not join FiFC Clubhouse or BNK Clubhouse; it’s free, after all and a good way to watch our antics from the sidelines.

Some critical acclaim has also been bestowed upon the club by Clara Parkes in Knitter’s Review. Nice to be mentioned; thank you Clara.

club packaging

And so Bare Naked Knitspot begins; with the arrival of new yarn, the packing commences. Do you like the packaging? How perfect and suitable for natural fibers, a plain simple lunch bag—splendid. I wish I could show the entirety of the living room, a generously sized room, the largest in the house, filled right now with yarn. Do I mind?? Not at all, especially when considering some of the alternatives, like renting a separate space for work (or living with no yarn at all).

There are few remaining memberships available, how wonderful would it be to fill these before the official start of Bare Naked Knitspot club on the 7th of February (the mailing of first yarn to our International members). if you haven’t signed on yet, we hope you will consider joining us.

Those of you with pattern only memberships may want to consider upgrading to a full membership, as some pattern only members missed out on some really terrific yarn last time, prompting requests for club yarn which we couldn’t supply after the fact.

For those with a full membership, the extra yarn option is another consideration, as it affords a few more options—you can knit a larger piece or gift your creation and still keep one for yourself. I need not reiterate Anne’s impeccable taste in the selection of club yarn, of course the designs are incomparable. More good things to come, we continue our ongoing mission to work with collaborating artists who are as passionate about their work as Anne is about design. I see this same passion in all of you, when you knit a club design, the photos and comments shared are simply amazing.

click here to view complete information and details; and please, do not hesitate to email me with any further questions.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to be a part of the Bare Naked Knitspot club. Come join us for a unique club experience.

Mister Knitspot

the knitting is good

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

i got lots of knitting done while i was away—i completed several FOs, including the extra “family” knits i squeezed in and made great progress on the projects i brought from home as well. i’m trying to keep up the pace since i’ve returned home; maintaining a higher proportion of knitting time in my day is a big priority for the new year—i’ve gotta cut back on the time i spend at my desk.

on the road i finished a biggish secret project, then i started and nearly finished the second sleeve for david’s new sweater. the other night, i put that piece to bed as well—basta.

i love the woolen rabbit sporty kashmir and apparently, so does everyone who sees it. i can’t count the times i’ve pulled this sleeve out of the bag only to have a room of knitters go quiet, haha. then they begin to murmur: “what is that?” “that color is, is—wow—that color is just beautiful.” “where did you get that??”

the color, BTW, is enchanted forestso david.

now i’m on to the big body pieces; i’ll probably cast on tonight for the front. this sweater makes for great TV knitting because it’s so mindless, yet it has good rhythm; i can get lots of inches done in a short amount of time and i’m enjoying that immensely. the body pieces will have cable details at or near the side seams and armhole edge (much like the highlander sweater). i just have to pick a cable i like; something smallish and flexible will be best, i think, but a nice twist stitch panel would work, too . . . we’ll see.

i’ve also been trying to decide whether i should work the body in one piece or two. unlike many knitters, i dislike working in the round, especially for david’s garments. they just end up sooo heavy and unwieldy. i’m always sorry when i get to the armholes that i knit them that way. in fact last christmas, i pulled a chest muscle from hauling those rounds over the needles and turning the whole sweater repeatedly.

heh, yeah—i think i’ll stick to my guns and do it in pieces (but a garment like this is easily converted for those who are avid circular knitters)

now that the biggish secret project is off the needles, i’ve been making great headway on the shawlette i’m knitting with hazel knits divine (and believe me, it IS divine; a luscious merino/silk/cashmere blend that makes every stitch a delight.

i’m working with a colorway that i dyed myself when i was playing in wendee’s studio with cookie last march. but actually, it is VERY close to wendee’s arroyo colorway, so i would refer you to that choice if you like this brown/gold/gray blend a lot.

i realized the other day that i haven’t done this piece justice in terms of photographing it attractively. it’s kind of hard because it’s so bunchy on the needles and i’m often traveling with it where the circumstances do not favor styling a photo well.

so today i worked with it a bit to get some nicer shots and hopefully they will show it in a better light. i just love the textures in it—it’s worked from the neck down with the top part in a sort of zig-zag eyelet that includes a garter row here and there.

the hem is comprised of an ornate medallion motif set in a field of garter stitch—very dense where it’s solid, so that the medallions show up like stained glass windows in a stone wall

now that i’ve got a lot more of the hem completed, i’m wondering if i’ve set the vertical columns of openwork too far apart, but i’ll only really know after i block it. i may knit another version with them set closer together to see which i like better. these projects go so fast once i get going that i usually knit a couple of them anyway.

i came home to a couple of really nice yarn packages that i want to share before i end today.

the first was from karen berglund of ilLOOMinated yarns. karen dyes yarn with both natural dyes and jacquard dyes; these examples are from her colors from nature series, in which she uses natural dyes on a variety of yarn bases.

i love this minnesota walnut on the moonstone base—love the shimmer of that BFL and silk in the neutral color.

and this is brazilwood, dyed on the feldspar base, which has glimmering threads of gold stellina spun in (sorry, my photo doesn’t show the glitter that well). it also has a bit of nylon, making it a great choice for socks.

i also got a much-anticipated box from rita at yarn hollow, whose wares i first saw last spring while teaching at the spinning loft spring retreat. beth stocks rita’s vivid spinning fibers (when she can keep them on the shelf!) and had a selection available at the retreat which disappeared before i could see most of it. what i glimpsed poking out of bags carried by other retreat members made me drool, though . . .

rita’s not shy about going right for the silk and luxury blends, the better to display her dyeing talents. above is a seacell and silk blend lace yarn—a nice weight, not too, too fine. it’s got a relaxed twist that reminds me of the nona or kashmir blends i’ve worked with recently.

then there is this lovely skein of 80/20 merino/silk fingering yarn in rich paprika, mmm, with a generous yardage; great for a slouchy hat and/or mitts, or even a nice sweater. lots of merino bounce helps much-worn items to keep their shape nicely.

and lastly another relaxed 2-ply, this time in fingering weight with a more generous proportion of silk to merino—better suited to drapey accessories such as shawlettes, cowls, and scarves. this champagne colorway will look like liquid gold in the right stitch patterns (les abeilles would be brilliant in a color and blend like this).

yarn hollow is now sold in many local yarn shops or stop by the studio if you are in the area (please call first for information and hours)

(sorry, i can’t seem to find links for these yarns anywhere, but here’s the etsy shop and a ravelry link, as well as the website)

ok, that’s it for today. i’m going to go find my knitting and proceed. see you next time.

back to work now

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

oof, the first day back is always so frantic; my first order of business for today was to get a blog post up and here it is, after 2 pm and i’m just getting started.

i suppose the first thing i should take care of is announcing the winner of the sweet shawlettes book giveaway—and that would be our good friend malin, yay!

thank you to everyone who participated.

now, let’s get caught up on where we’ve been and what i’ve been knitting for the last several days, shall we?

last tuesday afternoon we flew from san diego to las vegas, where we spent time with our family through the weekend. the kids got a big dose of uncle david and auntie anne—as much as we could fit into five days.

the boys put together a bike for micah while nan and i knitted on saturday.

micah was just a little wee babe the last time we saw them in person; now he’s talking, toilet trained, and learning—being two, his favorite new word of course, is NO. here’s a really cute video i shot—involving ice cream—when we went to eat on friday night

and amad was new to big brotherhood, but he’s become a pro in the two years since then.

during our visit, the weather was really fine, so we got to play at the park

the kiddie swings were broken but micah and david figured out a way to use the older kids ones instead.

after school, we went to amad’s martial arts classes—he goes every day and alternates between disciplines

david made a nice video of amad in power mode here

nan wanted to brush up on her knitting skills again, so we spent a lot of time together on that (thank you david, for watching the kids while we had craft time!). she knit a sock for micah and is working on the second one, then she cast on for a slöfock cap because she liked david’s so much. it’s a great beginner project; she got a lot done on it while watching amad’s classes; in fact, she’s discovered a brilliant way to fill that time (micah otherwise occupied during class; the gym has a playroom where he likes to hang out).

i worked on my own sock project too—i’ll have you know that i completed one sock during the plane trip to las vegas and the other in my first day there; knitting for a sweet nephew is a great motivator, apparently.

this is a new pattern which i’ll be knitting again in a bigger size for david. here i used kollage sock-a-licious in the boy’s favorite color, blue heaven.

i know they’re a little big, but he grew out of the last ones so fast that i decided it was a good idea to build some insurance into this pair.

besides, warm summer weather is heading to LV fast; soon it will be much too hot to wear them. by the time he can put them to use again in the fall, he’ll almost certainly be another shoe size bigger. amad has pointy feet like i do, so he gets a tapered toe on his socks, too.

while nan worked on her hat, i knit one as well in newhue handspuns bamhuey sport, which she had on hand from the last time we visited (i knit amad a pair of socks with it back then and left the remainder for her to try). this colorway is fruit of the vine (she’s restocking the shop with more soon!). there was plenty left from the original two skeins to make a hat for nan.

i didn’t get to finish it before i left there, because i didn’t have the right DPNs for the top decrease section. but when i got home last night, it was the first thing i worked on, once we’d settled in.

and now it’s drying in front of the heat vent. when it’s done, i’ll send it off to her so she can get some use out of it before spring arrives there (it’s still pretty chilly there most days, despite the sun. you need a good hat and scarf to play outside).

i love the way cheryl spins the dyed fiber; the color shifts are so subtle and pretty in the final fabric. mmm, just mesmerizing.

i actually have some other projects that i got lots done on as well, but i’ve gotta run to class now, so we’ll talk about those next time.
enjoy!

budding apple

Friday, January 20th, 2012

last april, when budding apple appeared in the spring/summer issue of twist collective i was a week or so into a month-long teaching trip in texas; spring was heavy in the air, even at home in ohio and it was lovely to see my idea for a spring piece come to fruition just at the right season.

today as we reintroduce the design—now offered in our own online shop—ohio is blanketed with snow and we have escaped again to the southwest for a much-needed bit of sunshine to tide us over.

and on a walk down through the tyler’s orchard the other night, i saw this

an actual budding apple tree. i know it won’t be long til we have apple buds of our own in ohio to perfume the air in our yard, but it’s still exciting to see this harbinger of spring a little ahead of time.

we were so lucky to work with several of my favorite dyers for this project, including spirit trail fiberworks providing neith (directly above, in blue)

kollage yarns providing creamy (pale green)

and the natural dye studio providing precious (above, in purple ) and angel 4-ply (our pretty pink version, below).

why so many?

knitters often write to tell me they appreciate our extensive project photography and how much they enjoy exploring blog links to the wealth of gorgeous yarns available to us. i thought it would be fun to present a pretty, quick-knit project that would translate beautifully in a variety of fibers and colors, with an investment in just a skein or two of yarn (the better to try more of them, my dear!).

and what better time than spring to refresh our senses with a palette of soft colors in luscious non-wool fibers? so i set out in my usual way to create a project that would fit all of those parameters.

first step—you guessed it—swatches.

i worked up several swatches in various sample yarns i had on hand, til i came up with a set i liked in a range of non-wool fiber types, including alpaca, cashmere, silk, cotton, and milk.

i don’t remember when, exactly, i decided on these particular stitch patterns, but the moment i saw them together, i knew that they brought together a bunch of loosely-related ideas i had into one firm idea, which was now about apple trees.

in other words, up until that point, i had a general sense of the feeling i wanted to portray, but seeing the stitches together made apple buds come to mind. and since i was designing for a spring issue, that seemed just right.

the larger pattern for the hem portion is one of many “grapevine” variations; this one is particularly sensual, i think, with its sinuous movement and shading. the tiny eyelet trefoil provides a delicately punctuated field to rest the eyes on, while still keeping the feeling light and lively.

once i had my stitch patterns planned out, i did some preliminary charting and got started on the prototype in kollage creamy, in the cool, fresh canopy green color.

it was a quick knit all right and i was done in no time at all. i did see afterward that a few tweaks were in order—the insertion at the center back didn’t seem right, so i decided to change that

and while i was at it, i refined the placement of the small eyelet pattern as well. luckily, i was able to get more yarn to produce another sample that is knit exactly as the pattern is written—that’s the one you’ll see in the magazine pages, knit by our very dear friend karolyn. the changes are subtle, but they make a difference to me.

the insertion in particular is a lot more in keeping with the design. i hesitated about using it, since i would then be repeating a detail i’d used before, but my gut told me it was better for the design.

once i had the prototype knit and finalized the design, i wrote the pattern up and we got to work on samples to send to the magazine.

these were my secret projects in september and october—above you see it in pure silk precious 4-ply from the natural dye studio, colorway heather and below, the cashmere/silk version in spirit trail neith even traveled to rhinebeck with me, a delicious travel companion.

this soft blue is named chalcedony; the yarn is to DIE for, with a lovely density that gives the finished shawl a nice weight. i didn’t have photos of it to show in april, but now that the samples are back home with me, i was able to get some nice photos in my studio at sunset, the day before we left for vacation.

same goes for the one we knit up in a soft pink color called sugar, from the natural dye studio

it’s a gorgeous pink, the color of spun sugar, indeed and a fresh change of pace from cool winter whites and blues.

the design of a magazine piece takes place awfully far in advance of publication, so all this musing and planning happened way back in the fall of 2010, when the days were growing short and buds of anything were pretty scarce. i didn’t revisit this project for quite a few months, but when the pattern proofs arrived from twist, i took everything out again to take one last look before publication.

as it happened, the fruit trees were just beginning to show their buds as we put those final touches on the pattern and i was wowed by how accurately the stitch patterns mimic the look of their branches, droopy with buds and ready to burst into flower. i couldn’t help but be reminded of the shawl during my seattle stay last march.

and now with spring just around the corner (really, it is!) we are pleased to offer this design as a little glimmer of the sunnier days to come. the perfect accessory for those days when you’ll want to shed that coat and let your skirts blow in the breeze, but still have a little something to wrap around your neck and shoulders.

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

now, i could never have done all that knitting by myself in such a short time, though i wanted to very much. i was able to knit the prototype and two samples, but i am really lucky that our good friend karolyn was enthusiastic to pitch in and knit a couple as well. thank you ever so much karolyn!