the week in gardening

Posted on 10 CommentsPosted in food and garden, projects, spinning and fiber

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what a week for the garden; finally i think we are completely out of the chill and into the early summer weather. though we started out a week ago after a frosty night and spent several drizzly, cold days away—even some tornadoes and hailstorms over the weekend—bit by bit the temps crept up so that by monday we were driving home from kentucky in sunny weather (more on our lexington trip in tomorrow’s post)

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we saw the last of the tulips fade, but we’re still welcoming a new, frilly thing on a daily basis it seems. i managed to get outside between showers on the day before we left to take some photos—oh how things have matured in just that short time.

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my beloved fiddleheads finally cracked their shells and started the slow expansion of their webbed fingers and curled spines into mountain pose.

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it never gets old for me; each year i want to sink into the earth of the back planting bed to watch them rise.

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heaven help me.

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just next door the painted ferns are also unfurling, though in a slightly different way. their fiddleheads are a bit more delicate and curiously twisted.

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it’s hard to believe that leaves so large were compacted into such fine tendrils.

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and the hostas! so fresh and lush, especially in all the rain.

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speaking of rain, i seem to have caught the plants at one of the best moments possible—just close enough after a shower to have perfect beads of rain clinging to their leaves and petals, yet just past enough that the sun has lit each one like a fairy light.

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this isn’t the greatest photo but i had to take it form inside, behind the kitchen window glass. it’s our robin, caught in the act of pretending NOT to be building a nest in the hydrangea arbor. i noticed the male and female robins as soon as i woke up; while brushing my teeth i witched them gathering grasses and stuff from around the edge of the garden.

while i ground beans and filled the pot to make coffee, i saw that they were flying yup to this tee with their nesting materials, hanging out very conspicuously on that branch, then ducking quickly and covertly into the thicket of the arbor where they were actually building a hidden nest. meanwhile, the squirrels all over the yard pretended not to see this maneuver. hilarious.

i’m keeping an eye out for the robin chicks to appear; should be about two or three more weeks before they emerge, i guess.

meanwhile, for the last several weeks, david has been turning our enormous compost pit and taking out the rich, dark earth from underneath to spread over the vegetable patch. he still has to till it under before i can plant, but we’re hoping to be all ready by the middle of next week. normally i plant everything a bit earlier, but it has stayed pretty cold this year and now we have shows during these two weeks that will prevent me from planting until at least next week.

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while i was away in lexington, our local ecology center held their annual organic plant sale and david took a ride up with list in hand to procure plants for our vegetable patch. we’ve got peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, squash, herbs and all sorts of things. i’ve also got a wide variety of seeds for greens, beans, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes. i can’t wait to get out in the dirt.

this weekend we’ll be at wooster for the great lakes fiber show; stop by and see us! we’ll have lots of great stuff, including some skeins from our latest shipment of fresh breakfast blend fingering yarn. we are restocked on bakery rye, morning smoke (and just in time, too; we ran out in kentucky),  cream ‘n’ sugar, and we have an old favorite back in stock as well.

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and none too soon—the breakfast blend cubbies are mighty bare right now . . . so as soon as it’s labeled it will be listed.

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it’s late now and i’m ready for knitting, but tomorrow i’ll get back to work, updating the blog with all the knitting i’ve gotten done in the last week . . . which is quite a lot.

Kent DK – New Colors!

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, projects

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It’s time to expand the yarn cards! We have two new colors of Kent DK!

Introducing Coconut Husk, a rich chocolatey brown

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and Kelp, a rich gray-brown.

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Kent DK  is a 2-ply yarn spun from soft, squishy romney wool blended with combed merino top. The resulting yarn is airy and light; knits up into fabric with a gorgeous hand for long-wearing sweaters, accessories, or blankets and other home items.

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We now offer Kent DK in 5 colors, giving a nice range from white to dark brown. See the palette here.

Barb was so excited about the new Coconut Husk colorway,

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she had Sarah wind a skein for her

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so she could start a Squeeze Me

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on the trip to Lexington. Later today I get to see all the luscious new skeins in person while I’m setting up the booth for Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival. I can’t wait!

It’s pretty exciting to see the Knitspot gang again. We all converged at The Village Idiot last night after our long road trip. We desperately needed to catch up and fuel up.

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And three of us at the table ordered The Idiot –

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a house ground Marksbury Farm beef burger, topped with Tillamook Cheddar and an oversized onion ring filled with braised beef short rib meat. To.Die.For.

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Even though the burgers were huge, we managed to be members of the clean plate club. We all took a nice walk after dinner  through the gorgeous historic neighborhoods of Lexington before settling in to knit and check in with family. Barb’s made lots of progress on the cowl and Anne is clipping along on a new design she dreamt up in the backseat of the car.

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I’m sure she’ll show you progress pics in a few days. Good night for now and if you want to keep up with us over the weekend, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Ravelry, Instagram and Facebook. Or better yet, stop by the booth to see our new yummy yarn!

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Lexington Bound

Posted on 12 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, projects

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Over the last several days, Susan has been carefully selecting yarns for the next pop up store and packing it in different stations around HQ.

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The yarn is destined for Lexington for the Bare Naked Wools booth at Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival this weekend. We are super excited to be first-time vendors at this show! I’m fascinated by the process of how a booth comes to fruition and I always ask the girls for pictures as they pack. I figured you guys might be too, so here is how a booth gets ready for a road trip…

Susan decides on quantities (can you imagine? how would you choose!?) and pulls yarn from shelves

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and tubs and organizes them into soft, packable bags

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and then labels them neatly, so booth set up goes off without a hitch,

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and all of these yummy, squishy bags get placed by the door so everyone can pack the van.

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Susan decides on quantities of knitting patterns and David begins printing and sorting them

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then Sarah sleeves them and organizes them into envelopes.

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Sarah also packs samples from the trunk show, makes packages of buttons

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for Ivar

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and Scotty

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and gets all the swag labeled.

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While she was assembling packs of Vintage Knitspot Notecards, the girls had a brainstorm. Why not have a promo for this show?!

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If you spend $100 in the booth, you’ll get a pack of notecards FREE! The notecards are images from Anne’s family photo archives featuring handknits knit by relatives in the 1930s.

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There’s another promo as well! If you come by the booth and say PURPLE IS MY PASSION, you’ll get a free treat from us while supplies last, just for stopping by!

Anne will be at the show too! She has a meet and greet in the BNWs booth on Saturday from 2:30-3:30 p.m.

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see some of the trunk show samples and even get your Knitspot pattern autographed.

Anne also has a few openings left in her classes – Sweater Fitness and Beginning Lace Knitting – and even though online registration is over, walk-ins are welcome to register. Info here.

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And, if Sweater Fitness students want to purchase sweater kits (such as Ivar, Bloch Ness, or build your own kit with a pattern here and yarn here) for class, we’ll deliver them to the classroom. Just purchase kit by midnight EST May 14 and make a note on your order for it to be hand delivered. We’ll throw in a set of notecards too if your order is $100 or over.

All the excitement about this show got me thinking the last two weeks, “I should go. It’s really not far from Detroit.”

mapIn fact, it’s only 5 hours from Cleveland, about 6 hours from Pittsburgh and Chicago, and 3 hours from Indianapolis. It’s really a doable road trip for the weekend. Grab some friends and join us! We love to meet Knitspotters in person! If you still need a reason to push you to pack an overnight bag, how about the fact that NEW colors of Kent DK will be in the booth?

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I hear you scurrying now. See you in Lexington!

**If you want to see lots more photos of the Journey to Lexington, check out the Facebook album here. Also, follow us on twitter here and Instagram here for updates about the show over the weekend and the road trip there and back.

from the cheviot hills

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in patterns

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just after mother’s day last year, we released the may projects for our bare naked knitspot club that featured a new yarn we were offering, spun from pure cheviot wool raised in upstate new york.

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we named the yarn ghillie sock because the cheviot fiber from which it is spun has a curious set of characteristics that together, make it wear like iron. in fact it has, over the course of its history, become the fiber of choice for knitting traditional kilt hose.

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my mind seized on the opportunity to work this yarn into a wonderfully warm and lively pair of long hose—not quite kilt hose with their heavy cuffs, but styled more along the lines of a hard wearing gansey sweater.

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just as i would in a gansey sweater, i used gussets to shape the leg and a series of of fun-to-work knit/purl motifs for texture, taking advantage of the wonderful springiness, stitch definition, and sheen that cheviot wool offers.

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the pattern for hornpipe gansey offers both a tall stocking as shown here and a shorter boot sock length, which includes all of the same textures without the gusset shaping for a mid-calf height sock.

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and we decided to carry two put-ups of ghillie sock—a traditional four ounce skein of 450 yards for regular sized socks or accessories and a convenient “big skein” that weighs one-third of a pound with 600 yards to knit long hose, as well as small shawls and big cowls.

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the sock design came first and as i swatched and experimented with the cheviot wool—a fiber new to me—i learned a lot more about its behavior and unique character. being a product of heritage longwool breeds, i expected a sturdy personality, but was charmed by its ability to be playfully light and springy as well.

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and after several washings in hot soapy water it changed yet again, blooming into a surprising soft, dense, and cohesive fabric. above, the unwashed swatch on the right and the washed swatch on the left; amazing transformation, isn’t it?

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i began to wonder about making other types of projects with it, to put it through its full paces—would it drape beautifully in a shawl or cowl?

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it did.

and not only did it drape in beautiful folds with a soft sheen, but had just the right amount of body to make the cutest ruffles. and so we had ourselves a shawl project that month as well—cheviot hills.

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the squeals of delight over that hem ruffle could be heard all over the internet on the afternoon of may 17th, haha; very much worth the wait. and even more delicious was the fact that the generous petite size could be knit from a single big skein of ghillie.

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what’s not to love?

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the yarn was totally inspiring; i could have gone on and on if i didn’t have to move along to the next club offering! that said, our clubbies thought up numerous other applications from shawls to socks to fingerless mitts.

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our good friend judi knit one of my favorites when she used ghillie for her wheaten scarf; i just love how translucent and light it looks here.

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and  jessica knit this gorgeous sample of cluaranach from ghillie sock for us to use as a booth sample in our popup shops (two coming up in the next couple of weeks; click here for details).

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just look at the way light glows throughout that fiber and the sheen accents each fold and textured stitch—spectacular! i just wish you could feel how soft and light it is as well. this fabric has a bit of cling to it too, which helps a light scarf or stole stay put on one’s shoulders—a sweet little extra.

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after i finished knitting my triangle shawl i wasn’t feeling quite done and, never one to leave an idea hanging, at the last minute i decided that a big cowl would be awesome, to pile up around one’s neck and shoulders.

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and so scottish reel was born, and went on to become one of our most popular patterns, paired with the big skein of ghillie sock.

perpetual KALs for all of these projects and other club favorites are running live at all times in our swinging BNK clubhouse on ravelry—don’t be shy; you needn’t be club a member to join in the fun (but we hope you’ll consider it at some point!).

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did you know that we even produced a DK/light worsted ghillie? this version with the same smooth, three-ply construction is terrific for fisherman knits and other types of garments, hats, mittens, and thick boot socks. resistant to pilling and other wear, it is a good choice for an heirloom blanket or a lifelong sweater.

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with this fiber’s versatility, there’s no worry about how to put an extra skein to use.

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the story of the yarn and the designs i paired with it made up one of the biggest and best chapters of our BNK eBook series that we ever published—along with tons of historical and technical information about the fiber, we had terrific photos from both the mill and from our collaborating farmer, ben woods.

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i think this is my favorite ever farm photo—just look at the love in that dog’s eyes.

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we visited the mill with my mom (center, in blue) during the production to shoot an extensive photo essay (also included in the BNK eBook) to tell the story of what it takes to get a fiber from raw fleece to yarn.  david made a little film that day, too that you can view on our knitspot youTube channel,

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along with a second film featuring our delightful friend helena performing a hornpipe jig in the knee socks so you can see them in action.

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wow, looking back on all of these wonderful experiences today makes me want to sit down and make another one of those cheviot hills triangles or a big scottish reel—because, as if all this cool information and photos weren’t enough—both projects are super fun to knit! too bad we don’t have audiobook versions of the eBook; i’d settle in and have a listen, too.

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not to mention the fact that the changeable weather this month makes it all the more desirable to have one of these on hand for chilly morning commutes. or to avoid the chill of an over-air-conditioned office as spring turns to summer. the color and look of each is summery, but feels so cozy when you need it.

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actually, we really could use sample cowl for our booth, since we also sell a very popular kit for scottish reel—a good way to save a few dollars on buying yarn and pattern together.

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sigh! it’s so much fun to revisit some of the wonderful past projects from our knitting club and view the speeded up version of what amounts to months of background footwork and research on each installment. of course it’s work that we love and feel honored to do—i hope that is conveyed in each chapter we produce.

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to close, a happy mother’s day to each and every one who has cause to celebrate it and to the rest of us, a wonderful day to remember our own mothers and mother figures. happy knitting!

ps: still time to take advantage of our mother’s day promotion—$5 off a passion club membership by using the code shown in the masthead at the top of the blog; click the MOM graphic for more details or to sign up!

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