truly spooky

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events

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the weather turning colder and the the daylight hours growing shorter each day can only mean one thing—it’s about to be halloween. and as most of you know, this day of all days is very special on our street!

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each year our friend bret across the way puts on a spectacular halloween display, which he spends months designing and weeks putting in place. many of you have come to anticipate the shining results which i try to show off every october 31st in a special holiday post.

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and of course the neighbors—kids and adults alike—just adore coming to the halloween house as it is known around the ‘hood. bret never fails to amuse, entertain, and terrify us with new tricks and treats.

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last year due to the advance of hurricane sandy, i was stranded in NYC over halloween and couldn’t photograph bret’s house. while i found a very compelling subject to photograph just around the corner from my hotel (seriously, what are the odds?), it just wasn’t the same as bret’s handiwork. and then when our hotel lost power and internet service on the big day, i knew that fate was stepping in to prevent me from posting an imposter in the place of his display

i decided to wait til i could show off the real deal, even if i had to wait 364 more days . . .

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pretty soon, october 1st rolled around and i went off to texas. when i got home i noticed a few decorations on bret’s porch and smiled to myself—it was beginning. the next ten days or so were such a frantic rush to get the october club chapter out and a bunch of other commitments met, that i barely felt the time elapse.

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just before i left for rhinebeck, i pulled my head out of the sand and noticed something was amiss . . . bret’s house still looked as unadorned as it had a couple weeks earlier—definitely no big displays in progress. i asked david if he knew of anything not quite right across the street, because it was the middle of month and the house had not been taken over by the usual ghouls, goblins, and ghosts. which was impossible under normal circumstances.

sure enough, it turned out that bret has not been feeling himself and wasn’t up to the task of getting the display up and running this year. oh, if only i’d known earlier—we all would have gladly pitched in to help (and believe me, we WILL be at the ready for the christmas decorating). by the time i returned from rhinebeck, it was pretty much too late—trick or treat happens on the sunday before halloween in our neighborhood; i was just getting home at that time.

phooey—and truly disconcerting; october just isn’t the same without all the usual hoopla.

so i came up with a selection of highlights from halloweens past, hoping that you and bret will enjoy a little walk down memory lane—but be sure to bring protection; you never know what may jump out of the bushes!

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to view full-length posts featuring bret’s halloween displays from 2007 through 2011, simply visit the knitspot archives here, here, here, here, and here.

i went over to chat with bret on tuesday and yesterday, snapped a few photos of his rather sedate display. as i was turning to go back to my own house, i was greeted by these, hiding almost unnoticed near the ground at the side of the walkway

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haha, bret might on the mend physically, but his sense of humor is definitely as sick as ever!

rain on a hot tin roof

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in patterns

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a few weeks ago, i traveled to texas to teach and participate in the five-year anniversary celebration at the tinsmith’s wife. as part of that event, shop owner wendy solberg asked me to design something new that we could knit as a class project, a design that would be unveiled that weekend in our lace knitting class.

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for inspiration, she set up a collaboration between myself and the wool dispensary dye house; i’d be knitting with a special colorway cooked up by them for the anniversary event. all i knew ahead of time was that i wanted the design to be twofold—applicable to both a scarf and a cowl in several sizes.

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i waited and wondered what the color and yarn base would turn out to be, mentally earmarking several stitch patterns in my dictionaries as possible motifs for the design.

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when the yarn arrived, it was a beautiful denim blue on a lustrous fingering weight blend of blue-faced leicester and silk. i set right to work testing out the stitch patterns i thought might work, but soon abandoned all of those—the silky base didn’t translate well into the ideas i originally came up with (this happens sometimes!).

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then i tried a motif i had been skipping over in my dictionary; in the book, it was knit up in a yarn that did not show it all that well. when i examined it more closely, i found that the playful, bouncy movement of the stitches reminded me of raindrops pinging off a surface when it’s raining hard.

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and that made me think of tin roofs and that made me think of the shop’s name. and the yarn name. and since the shop was in texas where it is,
well, . . . hot, i began to think of the scarf as a sound—rain on a hot tin roof. i thought a pretty, sawtooth edge would be a nice addition to the scarf version—something to finish the long edges nicely and give it some weight.

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the cowl is finished with simple garter stitch hems that simulate the ridges in the motif. the stitch pattern is easy to learn and to work; it is very repetitive, but because of its cheerful cadence it never felt dull or boring to me. in fact, i found the familiarity very soothing when knitting it during my travels last month.

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so much so, that i cast one onto bigger needles and worked it in all the colors of our worsted weight confection to make a stripey version—ooooh, so soft, warm, and cuddly (i have another on the needles already, this time shaded from bottom to top). it’s been a great way to use all those little balls of confection that we used for our candy shop photo shoot. in fact, i plan to knit as many as i can make from those broken skeins (i estimate four or five); i think this will end up being a coveted christmas gift in our family . . .

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the wavy linear elements really stand out when featured as a color change; a very striking and simple way to accessorize a classic sweater, jacket or coat. i like it paired with a neutral sweater such as this v-neck sticks and stones pullover knit in stone soup DK—the addition of the big, bold cowl gives the whole outfit a new—and bossier—personality.

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shown above, the small size cowl in bare naked wools confection, colors (from the bottom) dark chocolate, cookies n cream, white chocolate, milk chocolate, and nougat. i knit this cowl on size 5.0 mm/8US needles using a total of about four ounces of this soft, worsted weight corriedale wool; i measures approximately 28 inches in circumference. and if you prefer a lighter weight or a size closer to the actual pattern specs, our breakfast blend fingering will work equally well in this design on needles size 5US/3.75 mm or 6US/4.0 mm.

shown below, the medium size cowl in the wool dispensary deadly stimulant, a BFL/silk blend with beautiful softness, drape, and sheen. the blue tin color was dyed exclusively for the tinsmith’s wife yarn shop, but the wool dispensary website shows a nice array of tempting colors to choose from as well.

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it’s just that easy to give a light, airy design a completely different twist—by changing up the yarn weight and needles you can knit one for winter and one for summer (or for someone who lives in a warm climate).

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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.

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thanks to our dear friend anne marie, we are able to show you a blue silky cowl version of this design that she knit in the wool dispensary deadly stimulant. we so appreciate the time and care that she contributed in making it!

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adorable nicole is fairly new to the knitspot team; she came on board in the summer as our accounting and office manager when ralph went out on sick leave. we are doubly fortunate that she enjoys participating in the photo shoots as much as sarah, erica, and emily do. we are so thrilled that they all enjoy working together to get any job done; it is a thing of beauty to see them at it.

and thanks to david, who has been working the camera a LOT more lately; he’s got a great eye and style behind the lens.

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happy monday; happy knitting—be back in a few days with more . . .

out there

Posted on 18 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, projects, yarn and dyeing

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whoa—way too long since i’ve had enough consecutive minutes free to sit down and write a post. it’s been quite a whirlwind adventure since i last checked in.

my dear friend kim arrived in canton way back on the 16th to kick off our rhinebeck 2013 tour. her plane was a bit late, but i phoned ahead to her favorite chocolate shop in town and they stayed open long enough for us to squeeze in a visit straight from the airport. after that, we headed to the house to scoop up david and head for dinner with beckie, barb, and our office staff at our favorite indian restaurant.

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the next day we packed the car before it got light and headed east to rhinebeck. our yearly trip over is always filled with fun—we make the most of each minute, whether it’s curious taxidermy at a PS rest stop or an unusually kitschy food stop or just one of our “creative diversions” (also known as getting lost).

we stayed again in our little rental cottage during the show weekend, which affords us some incredible walking and running opportunities

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through woods and farmland in the hudson valley of new york state. seriously, you should go.

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the weather, which is normally very rainy over this weekend, was spectacular. cool and crisp yes, but also brilliantly sunny and colorful. we couldn’t have designed a better selection of fall days.

on friday, we drove to CIA for our annual lunch with dear friends nathalie and mary. i got a couple of nice photos outside as well as a shot inside the apple pie bakery cafe where we ate this year. kim seems to have a weekend-long theme of bright pink going on, doesn’t she?  i love it!

after a yummy entrée, we did our usual damage over dessert—we always get two or three (it’s a treat). over lunch, we got to know mauro a bit; he owns the gelato shop in rhinebeck which we promised to pop in on over the weekend (more on that later). in return, he promised to make kim some coconut gelato, her favorite.

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that evening, we met up with katj and her traveling partner karen at the eveready diner—kat and kim together are the masterful moderators of our very popular ravelry clubhouses. this was their first meeting in person; this photo bring tears to my eyes each time i see it; they look so lovely next to each other.

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i had my strömming mitts along in my bag, to which i’d added a few rows over lunch and a few more before and after dinner arrived at the table. this project is growing despite all evidence to the contrary—not fast, but fairly steady.

back at the house we jumped into jammies and chatted over our knitting about all manner of topics because you know, after 48 hours straight together kim and i have not had enough talking time yet (it takes about a week for us to slow down and draw a breath, haha). the only thing missing was beckie, who couldn’t make it on our trip this year.

i started the cast-on for a hydrangea neckwarmer, a pattern which i designed several years ago for the book brave new knits, but then never released in my shop. back then the pattern included instructions for a close-fitting neckwarmer, but now i plan to add numbers for a longer infinity scarf. for some reason, the cast-on was particularly challenging for me last week and it became something of a joke that i kept running out of yarn tail to complete it (i had also grabbed a 16-inch needle to knit the dang thing; what was i thinking?). read on to see an actual progress shot . . .

the next day we put on our comfy shoes and headed to the fairgrounds, where checked in at the briar rose booth to begin a very full day of helping out. the booth looked pretty much like this all day

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with lots of knitters hoping to seize a sweater’s worth of sea pearl or some other delectable for knitting up one of the many scrumptious garments and accessories that designers have created with chris’s yarn.

at noon, i took a break from the booth to head over to our annual knitspot picnic meetup, where readers, clubbies, customers, and ravelers gather for a potluck lunch. everyone brings something and if it turns out to be a meal of all desserts, so be it. what we REALLY care about is seeing each other and our hand knits.

cherie brought the banana cake made famous by kim in our rav groups; martha unpacked a bag of delectable cheeses from murray’s in NYC (always my favorite; and with apples in season? i make a fool of myself over them). there was awesome canadian cheese too, from rachel and joe our websmiths, who were welcomed with open arms by our readers. crunchy apples, veggies and hummus, sandwiches, and dozens of cookies baked by crafteamama and her two boys.

back at the booth, supplies were noticeably depleted but the crowds kept coming. it was a happy, productive day working with friends—hopeful next year, we’ll have out own barenaked wools booth. as we packed to get ready for our after party retreat and pop-up shop, all i could think was that we should go for it . . . rhinebeck is SO our show!

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at the end of the day, chris gifted me with this beautiful mug from jennie the potter (she’s our next door neighbor at the show) and a bag of michigan apples (see? chris really knows me). i feel so lucky to have one of the commemorative rhinebeck mugs to add to my slowly growing collection of JTPware. david has adopted my 2012 yarn in the barn mug as his own, so i’m hoping this one will remain mine for tea (my coffee mug purchased in 1978 is sacred).

after the show, kim and i took a quick cruise into town for coffee and gelato at mauro’s place

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where the gelato was indeed scrumptious. okay, i’ll admit it—this was not our first time in. we visited the shop every day for three days straight, including the evening after our CIA lunch (yes, right before our eveready dinner; we know—it’s shameful. but we don’t care)

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as promised, there was coconut gelato as well as sorbet. but the salted caramel stole our hearts and the chocolate was my other favorite. i wanted espresso so badly, but it was still too soft when we got there on sunday. maybe next year . . .

on to the hampton inn lobby, which was overrun with knitters and spinners, high on wool fumes. we gathered with the briar rose family, hungry, but happy around a table full of pizza boxes. with warm food i our stomachs and an hour or so of quiet knitting chi chat, we all began to feel sleepy—it had been a big day and there was another to go.

on sunday, i got to se the fair for a few hours, visiting the authors gallery first to see friends who had published books this year

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clara looked radiant, despite a grueling schedule of book signings and big bale adventures. i scored a signed copy of her new book, the yarn whisperer, which i am very much looking forward to reading (especially if she publishes and audiobook version!)

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this one is a change of pace for clara—a book of essays. i’m excited; i know clara to be exceptionally funny and witty; i imagine she’s a great storyteller. i promise to tell you all about the book in depth when i read it.

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this was the year of books from friends, i think; lovely celeste young has a recently released book too. celeste is the designer who also works at trumpet hill yarn shop in albany, NY, where i have taught a couple of times. being the LYS nearest my mom’s house, i feel like everyone there is family to me and i’m so excited for celeste. we’ll take an in-depth look at the book some time soon, probably on a day when i have secret projects i can’t share.

unfortunately, i did not get all that far around the show on sunday or see everyone i would have liked to see—we had time for only a few buildings before we had to be off to lunch. we were gathering with most of our ravelry moderators for a special lunch date

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the day was gorgeous and we all sported our favorite handknits. we even got a beautiful series of photos, how about that? from left to right are katj, cathy (wearing frillibet), me (in my stone soup highlander), kim3, and agnes (both in sprosslings). we ate a deliciously fresh and spicy mexican meal at gaby’s restaurant, perfect for a chilly fall day.

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nancy tried to stay out of the photos but she looked too cute not to be in at least one of them!

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after lunch it was time to head over the river to complete the setup for our after party retreat, which was to begin sunday evening with social knitting in the lobby and the opening of our bare naked wools popup shop. omigosh i was nervous, but it turned out to be a resounding success; the place was mobbed all evening.

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everyone really enjoyed the opportunity to fondle and squeeze the yarns in person, and have a close look at our many beautiful samples, knit up by generous knitspot angels—we couldn’t be more grateful for their willingness to barter for knitting; the results are nothing less than spectacular.

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i call these the ladies in waiting; they eventually were placed in featured spots throughout the yarn display.

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while erica, sue, and i were busy inside the shop, our after party crowd gathered in the lobby for social knitting, snacks, and what sounded like a lot of fun.

i have to confess, i have precious few photos of the following three days but i know josée, and joe (and probably a few others) got loads of photos throughout (josee shares hers on a unique ravelry project page).

it was a busy few days of meeting friends, teaching class, and working with customers in our “shop”, helping them pick just the right yarn and pattern combinations for cozy winter knitting projects.

in my few minutes of spare time each day, i worked on a copy of that little scarf , which i had cast on in our new bakery rye shade of breakfast blend DK. i love this quirky morning glory stitch pattern; it’s got such rustic, meandering lines and shapes that do wonderful things in a soft yarn. i cast on with 5 mm needles to take the most advantage of this yarn’s softness and drape.

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i’m really pleased with the way this old favorite design works up in our new breakfast blend DK. while i didn’t get nearly as much done on it as i’d thought when i left home, the knitting does go fast and this will surely be a great companion project for public knitting in the weeks ahead. bakery rye is going fast though; i should snag a second skein now, just in case i need it . . .

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as you can see in the class photos above, i am making slow, but steady progress on my sea pearl sweater, having nearly finished the first sleeve—just one more to go.

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i put it on the form today to check the proportion of the sleeve and it’s looking great; i like the pattern alignment across the body.

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i’ve tried on the sleeve a few times because i want a fairly specific fit for the circumference—it doesn’t have a ribbed cuff so i don’t want it to look sloppy by being too wide. that said, i don’t like tight sleeves either, so it’s important to get the right balance. i am very anxious to finish this sweater and now that i’ll be home for three months straight, i should be able to do it soon.

our retreat was aMAZing; we will almost certainly do it again next year, probably with slightly different subject matter. it’s so luxurious to have several days with which to immerse myself in working with a group—we covered a lot of related ground and participants were able to extend the class time into social knitting time during the afternoons and evenings.

our after party ended on wednesday evening and with the shop all packed up the previous evening, i was able to leave right after my last class. i headed to albany, just an hour up the highway, to visit with my mom for a few days; my older brother was coming through the area as well so i’d be able to see him too.

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i went on a long run each morning and caught up on correspondence (i hadn’t even opened my laptop once during the after party, so there was a lot). i went with my mom to “cousins lunch” a monthly event for she and her family.

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i eventually did make progress on my hydrangea infinity scarf during a quiet evening of watching TV with my mom—there’s a lot to be said for getting away from the crowd sometimes, hehe. i even got through one complete repeat of the openwork pattern; the other four or five should go very quickly now that i’ve memorized it again.

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before i knew it, it was time to head home though—lots of loose ends and work piling up on my desk there. the colors of the trees were turning dark and burnished; the peak foliage season was blowing away with each gust of wind (and it had gotten pretty cold, too)

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an hour north of home i saw that we’d been hit with some snow recently—some areas of the highway had a light blanket still covering the grass and i could see the remains of snowbanks along the highway.

oh boy—looks like the predictions of a long, cold, and snowy winter are for real; better get as much running in now as i can.

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back at the house i was pleasantly surprised with a very clean yarn room—compliments of sarah, who worked on getting it organized while i was away. the space had been a mess, so much so that you could hardly get in the door. we’ve been telling each other for months that we need to straighten it out, but i’ve barely been home to do it or even guide her.

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well i guess she figured it out because it looks dynamite right now. i’m sure we have to go over the organization some, but i am completely thrilled just to be seeing the rug.

my plan was to destash some of the fiber i overstocked on and yarns that have been discontinued or that i know i won’t be using, to raise cash for our knitspot scholarship fund. i’m not sure when we’ll get that together, but hopefully before this year’s fund drive gets off the ground.

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wow. just wo-o-ow

i think i have finally come to the end of my photos and stories for today. now that i’ll be home for a bit, i’ll try to be more regular about posting. i know some people get anxious when i don’t but i promise, i’m doing my best. i even have nine or ten patterns backlogged that have not been released, oy! tomorrow though, the first of those will go live and we’ll sprinkle each upcoming week with one or two—our christmas gift parade begins.

Breakfast Blend is Restocked!

Posted on 4 CommentsPosted in designing, projects, yarn and dyeing

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Breakfast Blend shelves are stocked and full of color options, just like farmers market stands at morning’s open! And…if that wasn’t enough…we have NEW colors too!

We released this yarn in January, as our 1st Bare Naked Wools (see original post here), and some of the colors sold out super fast. It took us awhile to restock because we had to source a new mill that could keep up with the demand all of you have for natural fibers. Alas, we found a marriage! We have collaborated with Sweitzers Fiber Mill and they have created a beautiful yarn for us.

Without further ado, I introduce the colors of our alpaca/merino blend available in DK.

Bakery Rye

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Cream n Sugar

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Morning Smoke

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Oatmeal

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Espresso

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and we have Fingering in Bakery Rye, Burnt Toast, Cocoa, Cream n Sugar, Espresso, Morning Smoke and Oatmeal here.

With all of these options, I think a colorwork accessory is in my future. How about you? I’m thinking a striped version of Sculling in Fingering,

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since the stitch pattern has visible breaks for color. Or to have a more dramatic cozy look I could knit it in DK.

Or a two-color version of Tabata?

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You could do the cuffs and earwarmer in one color of DK and the body of the mitts in another. This could be done to lots of Anne’s hat patterns too.

Sparrow Song

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and Feather and Fan Stole

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would also be cuddly and versatile accessories for the Fall!

This time of year, especially with the morning today being rainy and dreary, it really makes me dream of a sweater.

Bloch Ness in DK

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or Sprössling in Fingering.

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Isn’t the closeup fabric and stitch definition gorgeous? Anne has lots more sweater patterns here, and we have sweater quantities of all the colors in both weights ready to ship.

I have been in love with Breakfast Blend from the moment Anne handed me the first skein at the mill. My first knit with it was Squeeze Me infinity cowl and people that see me frequently know this is my go-to handknit. It goes with everything!

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And thanks to my cousin Mary I finally have a picture of it. After modeling, she didn’t want to give it back. Haha

If you’re looking for more inspiration for this yarn, check out what patterns people are using on ravelry with Fingering here and DK here. And you’ll get lots more ideas from people by following our other social sites! Please join the BNWs ravelry group here, like our Facebook page here, and follow us on twitter here. I’ll be posting lots of pictures the next week as Anne and I travel to Rhinebeck. You’ll also want to see what happens at the after party