kitchen aid

Posted on 26 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, projects

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the fall weather is really upon us now—brilliant blue skies during lovely days that begin crisp and cool, turn warm for just the right amount of hours, then slip back into evenings early and chilly enough for lighting a fire. nice.

great sleeping weather, terrific knitting weather—sweaters are on my mind BIG time; i’ve got several on the drawing board and two on the needles as we speak. i just wish i had more time to knit, sigh.

i’ve been working almost exclusively on secret projects for the last few days, so not much i can show you at the moment, but how about an update on our renovation project?

we are in the fourth month now and on the one hand, it feels like we are nearly done, having accomplished so much. but on the other hand, when we look around, there is a lot of this and that to be finished up and progress has slowed down a lot—the work men have only been coming in a couple of days a week. i barely notice because i’m so busy, but david is getting really impatient to be finished.

and i’m sure one day i’ll wake up and realize it is WAY too cold to be using the porch as kitchen, haha.

anyway, there is progress to show and i still feel incredibly lucky to be making these improvements on our home.

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the floors are in and waiting to be refinished; i imagine that will be one of the last steps.

we have hardwood everywhere to match the rest of the house and ceramic tile in the kitchen (a new style which i’m in love with).

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it’s not exactly a woodgrain—more like the grain of some sort of stone. it’s gray and beige with a hint of blue; i just love how it looks with the cabinets.

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which are completely IN now, handles and all, yay!!
i can’t get over how many we have (we had three before). i’m thrilled we could get so many in without having uppers—those always make me feel claustrophobic when i’m working.

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this is my cooking wall; the stove will slip right into that spot between the windows. speaking of which, i LOVE my new window (left); it really makes the original window (right) more of a feature, now that they are a pair. david’s plaster finish brings so much soft light into the room, too—it is just how i pictured it for the last eleven years, only better.

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the sink area is nice and sunny with a view of the back yard—perfect for prepping vegetables and doing dishes. and we’ll have a dish washer now (one that is not david) to the right of the sink.

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and an island—wow, never had one of those; i’m sure we’ll like it. we need lighting, counter tops, and back splash installed, so we can get the sink in and start using it. i’ll surprise you with those materials in the next update. suffice it to say that the look with then be complete with quite a bit more definition.

i am REALLY glad now that we went through the inconvenience of doing the porch windows back in july—it was a tough week with nowhere to sit and eat, but that outdoor room is so well sealed now that we can still use it  as the mornings get chillier and chillier.  though not for too long i hope . . . it is almost october; one day soon it will get cold for real.

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on the other end of the big room is the dining/gathering area. i know—it look HUGE. it has always been a very large room, but with all our stuff in there and a wall between it and the kitchen, the visual was very different.

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the trim carpenters are beetling their way through the rooms, but there is plenty more finish work to do. what they have done is just beautiful; i can’t help but be drawn to it whenever i go over there.

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i just love me a perfect miter . . . it calls to the tailor i am at heart.

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in the sitting room, i still can’t get over that this used to be the corner where my desk sat and the same windows i looked out from for years—it’s all so much prettier now. it will be an adorable spot to visit and knit with friends, if i can keep from being distracted by my new view.

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in the center hall, we now have this splendid bike closet, which has doors now, too.

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big and deep enough to hang all four of our bikes plus racks for panniers, baskets, and helmets (which guests will tell you i currently stack in the washroom).

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we even have a new coat closet—the first this floor has known probably since the original build. the stair hall has been reconfigured badly a couple of times in its history, eliminating the great features of the first design, like the little fireplace and the closets underneath the stairs.

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and the stairs have real treads now; they just need to be varnished.

you can see why we are chomping at the bit to start using this space; it’s going to be SO livable and usable now. i had hoped it would be done in time to bake david a birthday cake and christen the space with our annual celebration dinner. but since the david-and-beckie birthday is this tuesday, that’s not in the cards.

now i’ve got my heart set on being done enough to welcome our dear friend kim when she comes to visit just before rhinebeck, in mid-october. we’ll see!

tonight we’re celebrating beckie and david’s birthdays with helena and kris’s family at their place—jeff is cooking chili and we’re bringing guacamole and salad.

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i’m just at the point of starting the decreases for my scotty hat, so i’ll bring that alone and finish it up. sarah is waiting for me to be done so she can add it to the trunk show i’m bringing with me to texas next weekend, when i’m teaching at the tinsmith’s wife anniversary retreat. i am so looking forward to visiting this shop; owner wendy has been a great supporter of knitspot patterns she she opened five years ago and this will be our first meeting in person.

 

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portlandia indeed

Posted on 23 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, projects

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hello everyone, i’m back from portland and have finally cleared my email box and a little space in my day to write. i missed you!

i landed in portland last tuesday afternoon, where i met up with cookie and janel. our plan was to spend a couple of days back in eugene at janel’s place, working and enjoying each other’s company—then heading back to the city for a weekend of FEAST festivities. by the time i landed on tuesday, i felt terrific, having already knit more hours in one day than i had been able to manage for a long time.

i worked on a secret project all the way there—which you will actually be able to see in just a couple of weeks. when i landed, i had just a few more rows to go and then a bind off. excellent progress; the trip was already working its magic in my estimation.

after a coffee pick-me-up, we all piled into the car and headed back to eugene and some much anticipated DINNER. we ate an array of spicy lebanese finger food that night with soups, then hit the grocery store before going home to jump into jammies and watch TV together. haha as you can see from the photos below, we may have purchased some snacks in addition to the ingredients for a curry dinner the next night.

janel has a lovely mid-century home nestled in a tree-filled neighborhood in eugene. it’s perfect for the three of us to spread out and work on projects, patterns, and writing; we can work apart or wander in and out of each other’s company when we need a break. evenings were definitely earmarked for knitting and movies.

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over grapes, apples, and cheese, i finished my secret project and then immediately turned my attention to casting on a little scotty hat in our stone soup fingering yarn (i picked the pumice color for this one). i’ve been obsessed with seeing this hat knit up in a natural gray ever since i designed it.

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it’s a fast and easy knit; the brim grew quickly and was soon complete. after that the rest is stockinette so it becomes a completely portable project, which i took full advantage of over the next few days, toting it everywhere i went to add a few stitches or rows at every opportunity.

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it’s ready now to begin the top decreases, which should only take a few hours. it was the perfect travel project. even though it’s not quite done, i pulled out my button box after i got home to peruse my collection, just to make sure i had what i needed for buttons.

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i think these bone buttons will be awesome; i love their tweedy texture, including that slight yellowing, which seems to bring out color in the yarn that isn’t really there—what a great effect. i may do another one of these hats; i can see adding touches of our new slate color by knitting the reverse ridge in the darker yarn and maybe adding topstitching along the decrease lines. or vice versa—knit the main hat in slate and add contrast detailing in a lighter shade.

anyway, back to eugene . . . what a great couple of days. it’s such a lovely town with friendly people, accessible resources, and while were there, beautiful weather too. i got up early each morning and went running while cookie and janel slept in. eugene is a terrific place for outdoor activity, especially running (the nike company was founded there), with good air and lots of local support in the way of wide berms, trails, and careful drivers. the air was magnificent; i felt like i could run forever (haha, though maybe that was due to the good, long sleeps i got there, as well!).

on our last evening in eugene, we had a date with my adorable cousin liz who drove down to visit, knit, and have dinner with us.

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i spent the late afternoon hours chopping veggies to prepare for cooking a curry—it’s the best time of year for making fresh veggie dishes. while at the store, i was so entranced with the produce that i didn’t even think to buy tofu or shrimp to go in it. no worries though; the ingredients we had were excellent.

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soon we got the fire going under the skillet and began the process of sautéing and spicing them up, mmm; the house filled with the scent of garlic, turmeric, garam masala, and more.

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this is a dinner after my own heart—the full range of color and texture represented in a single dish with a blend of intoxicating spices; what more could a girl want for supper?

ok, possibly a little wine to go with, hehe. and chocolate for dessert. maybe with ice cream.

after dinner, we rolled our piggy selves into the living room to knit some more. i worked on my sea pearl sweater, which i realize now you haven’t seen in a while. it was on a break only because i had so much secret knitting to do, but once the september chapter went live, it was the first project bag to go into my luggage. i knew i could make some great progress on it during this trip.

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the next day, after a run and then a scramble to pack up my things, we headed up to portland to begin our weekend adventures. we had a dinner reservation that evening at le pigeon, but planned to roam a little beforehand. dinner was awesome; every single thing they put in front of us was tasty. there were a couple items i might not order again, but not because they weren’t good; there were just other dishes i thought were BETTER and more to my taste.

we REALLY needed a walk after dinner so we strolled the neighborhood near the restaurant. later, we even got a chance to meet part of janel’s family, who live right in the city and have a famous pair of rabbits with their own facebook page (i know you have to check that out; i’ll wait . . .).

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when we got back to the apartment where we were to stay, we discovered we had a beautiful view of the night sky from the 22nd floor.

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the next morning, i could see more of the willamette river from my bedroom window. this is in an area that is under development still, so these wide open expanses probably won’t exist for long, but i thought it was really cool that they sequestered a good part of it for the community garden (lower left corner). there must be 50 or more planting beds in that space; it’s a wonderful way to beautify the waterfront in that spot.

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having run hard for the previous four days, i needed to rest my legs a bit but was itchy to be outside, so i went instead for a long, brisk walk toward downtown along the riverfront. it was a beautiful morning and light was amazing.

i looped a little past the portland saturday market, where there is a sculpture park on the riverfront. back near the apartment, i picked up strong coffee drinks and by the time i got upstairs, cookie and janel had joined the waking world.

we really felt like lounging, but had to get moving, because we had tickets to a chocolate tasting panel that was part of the FEAST portland festivities. the chocolate tasting panel wasn’t exactly what we expected; we all wished it was a little more about chocolate, haha. we comforted ourselves with a visit afterward to cacao, a shop that totally made up for what was lacking at the event.

if you live anywhere near there and enjoy hot chocolate, you must try some at cacao. trust me.

after buying too much chocolate (which we all justified by claiming it was for “gifting”), we decided we needed something savory for lunch before our sugar high dumped us by the side of the road. for that we headed to sen yai, the noodle shop associated with pok pok. it was YUMmy and just what we needed. we may have followed up with some pie at the shop next door . . . and then it was back to the house for naps, haha.

sadly, we did not act fast enough to get tickets to one of the daytime grand tastings, but did manage to score some for the evening tasting on saturday.

the place was a madhouse and it was a little too dark to take a lot of good photos, but i think you get the picture—a mass of people all gathered to taste food and wine offerings from some of the best-known chefs and producers on the scene.

we stayed until we couldn’t eat or drink another thing; it was fun. we headed out into the night and home to get comfortable and cozy with our knitting. the evening had turned very chilly and windy; we were due for more typical weather heading in.

on sunday morning we lounged; i got a late start on my run,m which was probably good—the wind was fierce and chilly. good thing i packed that one long-sleeved running shirt. while i was out, janel and cookie went downtown to pick up coffee and a few donuts for breakfast from blue star.

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we got back to the building just about the same time and i nearly split a gut when janel rounded the corner with a very large box. she was laughing and explained that if you buy a dozen, you get a discount. and we have two mornings to provide for. i guess the tasting bug was hard ot shake; they couldn’t decide on flavors so they picked all of them.

i think cookie was at least partly to blame for this. that said, i really liked the one with the sesame seeds and salted caramel glaze on top.

the rest of sunday was spent on work, with a late afternoon outing for dinner and a little shoe shopping for janel. awww, our time together was almost over; it went so fast! i just love spending time with janel and cookie; it had been too long.

on monday morning they dropped me off early at the airport and then went on for breakfast. as i stood in lines in the terminal, i was taunted by texts of breakfast noodle dishes and more donuts (seriously, where does cookie put it all?)

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i worked on my sweater project all the way home, binding off the body part in the denver airport and getting set up to start the sleeve during my layover. i was holding my breath that it would turn out the right size and everything would be placed as i intended. when a one-piece sweater is on the needles it’s just a big blob for so long; there’s no way to get a real idea of what it looks like—not until you bind off.

when i got home, i finally had a chance to see it on a body—wow, i love it!!

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i’m working my way down the first sleeve now and am already much further along than these photos show (yay).

the fit on the bust is lovely, i think; it has yet to be blocked of course, which will almost certainly relax the fabric quite a lot, especially in the bottom half. i think you could probably keep some of that cling if you like it OR stretch the fabric out more for a looser fit if you prefer. ribbing can be manipulated a bit that way . . .

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this sweater will have a short sleeve option with a cuff that matches the bottom of the body. for the long sleeve version, the whole area below the elbow will be in the leaf pattern. i’m waiting to hear from chris at briar rose which version she will want for her booth; i will knit the alternate.

i’m knitting with briar rose sea pearl, a merino/tencel fingering weight blend that is one of my favorite yarns. we are far from having a finished pattern, so i don’t know the estimated yardages yet, but for my own sample (38-inch chest), i will probably end up using about 1500 yards.

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when i got home form my trip, my buttons had arrived from moving mud. i sent a swatch to sarina a few weeks ago and she made the most amazing confections for this sweater. let’s look a little closer . . .

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wow. just—wow. it’s like a little ball of disco swirl inside a clear glass body; i just adore them. sigh.

such a happy homecoming—it was wonderful to see david and be back; today we did a great photo shoot with our new confection yarn at a local favorite ice cream shop. i think we got some really cute pictures to use for its debut next week.

and speaking of work, it’s time i did some; the march of handknits waits for no woman.

 

Squish Me Into Fall

Posted on 10 CommentsPosted in designing, projects, yarn and dyeing

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Happy first day of Fall! Are you enjoying the day with a cup of festive hot tea and a crisp apple? Are you baking, canning or  roasting veggies? Or maybe taking a nice stroll through the neighborhood enjoying the sights of a new season? Or are you looking for a way  to celebrate? What better way to celebrate the start of a new season than to cast on a hat! And we have stocked the shop with brand new Squish Me Kits.

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The kit includes one skein of Kent DK, our romney/merino blend in colorway Beach Glass,

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and the pattern for Squish Me,

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a slouchy hat with a welted pattern that expands and contracts to give the piece luscious, cozy volume. The deep knit/purl texture gives body and definition to soft, luxury yarn blends, encouraging the hat to collapse into soft folds. Easy to work stitches and a simple, one-piece circular construction make this a great option for last minute gift knitting—one that travels well and is suitable for any age or gender.

The pattern includes four sizes (XS/S/M/L) and the kit includes 1 skein of Kent DK , enough to knit any size you choose! Sarah was happy to model her hat for David.

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Since her mother Anne knit Squish Me for Sarah, she has rarely left the house without it. She told us everywhere she wears it guys and girls both ask her where she bought it. She tells them her mom made it and their response always is, “can your mom make me one?”

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I know Sarah is itching to learn to knit and a lot of her friends are too. Who knows!? We may see lots of Knitspot hats out and about in Ohio. And as the style watchers tell us…hats of ANY kind are super trendy this Fall.

So start digging through your needle stash and put those hat needles on the top of the pile! It’s time to get your hat knitting on! We have a lot more surprises in store; keep an eye on the shop for new limited edition kits!

If you need a tasty way to celebrate today, head to your local orchard or farmers market! We bundled up early this morning and drove to Franklin Cider Mill

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and drank hot apple cider with steaming hot donuts.

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Great way to kickoff this crisp, sunny Fall Michigan day! What are your Fall traditions as the weather starts to change?

sparrow song

Posted on 8 CommentsPosted in patterns

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in a couple of days, fall will officially be upon us and in many parts of the world, temperatures are dipping into the 40s and 50s at night. that early-morning dash to the office can be a chilly affair indeed, especially if you rely on public transportation.

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which makes it the perfect time to introduce the sparrow song design, newly released from last year’s fall in full color club, where it was one of our september selections. a cowl or scarf is just what’s needed now to provide a layer of warmth at the neck during the morning and evening commute, yet very little to carry in between, when the daytime temps warm up.

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the cowl can be knit to fit up close as a trim accessory to wear inside a jacket, or long and loose to wind twice if you prefer (i added an extra size to this pattern release for a longer infinity scarf version).

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the scarf can be knit in two sizes—one trim and narrow that can be worn indoors with a jacket and one wider and longer for outerwear. both pieces are easily modified to fit your yarn supply and taste in sizing.

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the stitch pattern is an easy-to-work arabesque (allover repetitive pattern) that reminds me of that rush of wings as a flock of birds takes off form the ground. it’s seemingly intricate linear elements are shaped by yarnovers and decreases; its depth is created with a little cable every 8 rows or so to plump the motif a bit.

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worked in a squishy sock weight yarn with a bit of exotic fiber blended in, the fabric is deeply textured yet retains a lovely drape and sheen to enhance the patterning.

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the cowl is worked in the round from top to hem, then a knit-on edging is added—detailed instructions for working the edge are included; if you haven’t attempted this technique before, this is a great way to try it. and our ravelry group will hold your hand all the way through; visit the sparrow song discussion thread if you get stuck and someone will jump in to help.

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the scarf isn’t written to have edging, so it’s a bit easier in some ways, but it could certainly be added if you like. both patterns were very popular with clubbies last year—they are so easy to do once you get going that you can easily tote them around for travel knitting.

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shown above, the medium size cowl in hazel knits entice MCN, a luscious merino/cashmere/nylon blend with wonderful body, softness, and sheen. the color was our club-exclusinve, a gray-brown with plummy tones.

the scarf shown on this page is the tall size and knit in the same yarn—either piece would be gorgeous also in our breakfast blend fingering (new colors on the way; available soon!), ghillie sock, or stone soup fingering yarns!

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

sparrow song is also included in the FIFC 2012 eBook collection—14 terrific accessory patterns, each one multi-sized and suitable for gifting or keeping; many will have universal appeal for women, men, and children alike. purchase the eBook collection from the knitspot club website or in our ravelry pattern shop (it takes a few seconds to view).

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another fun thing to do—click here to view the sparrow song project pages to see more examples of this design knit by club members and photographed on a variety of people and in alternate yarns. or better yet, join the us in our swingin’ FIFC clubhouse or knitspot mother ship for a KAL!

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my friend susan looks gorgeous in these photos doesn’t she? i really appreciate the life she brought to these pieces; we had a lot of fun photographing them!

oh, and another thing—and this is so typical of our club package—there is a matching sock pattern too! which deserves its own special blog post, so look for that release on monday; i’ll be traveling home that day and will put it up before i go (maybe—well probably—even sunday night).

special thanks to our entire knitspot team—david, erica, kim and kat, karolyn, vanessa, sarah, nicole, emily, and erica—who keep the clubs humming along with terrific yarn choices, great customer service, and tons of fun. thank you all; you are nothing short of awesome!

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