Designer Spotlight: Meet Rich Ensor

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing

knitspot patterns and bare naked wools yarns are making connections all over the  place and laura, our social media wizard, is going to be turning the spotlight here and there on items she discovers in her travels through cyber media. the first in her series came to us a few weeks back—look for more every week or two.

Allow me to introduce Rich Ensor to you.

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Rich attended Anne’s a sock design class a couple of years ago at Fibre Space.  He designed these beautiful socks and wrote a beautiful email to Anne over the holidays:

Hi Anne!!!
I don’t know if you remember me. I took a sock design class a couple of years ago at fibre space. You were kind enough to post some pictures of my sock on your blog. Fibre space published the pattern for those socks on their site this week. It’s a bit of a story for why that took a while, but we can save that for another day.
Anyway, one of your blog readers left a comment on the ravelry entry, which reminded me that several of your readers had said they were looking forward to the pattern. I thought I’d send you the link if you wanted to share it with your readers. I didn’t want to leave a comment on your site since that feels spammy. And, no pressure here. If you don’t want to post the link, I’m not offended. I just wanted to give you the choice.
BTW, that class has had a huge impact on me. I’ve self published a handful of patterns & been featured on Knitty. I’ve found this really fun, creative outlet. I’ve met and become friends with some really great people, and it wouldn’t have happened without that class, so you have my sincere thanks. The only downside is trying to find the time to knit up the sweater quantity of bare naked wools that I recently purchased.
I hope you have a great holiday,
Rich

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Aren’t they dynamite?!  These are his Alluvial Deposits socks.  They made quite a stir; many of you asked how you could get a hold of his pattern. It just so happens that Fibre Space recently published it and you can find it here—what a thrill!

Since then, Rich has self-published a handful of patterns and has been featured in Knitty, where you can find his Neldoreth sock pattern. We’re excited to share his pattern with our readers and we encourage you all to keep an eye on him. I’ve no doubt that we can expect more great things from Rich in the future, maybe even in some bare naked wools sock weight yarns.

Rich’s personal blog is over here; he has over a dozen different sock patterns to choose from, any of which would be gorgeous in—ghillie sock and breakfast blend fingering both feel great on your feet and are very hardwearing.

You can also find Rich’s patterns on Ravelry, where he also hosts low-pressure KAL’s in his Ravelry group – “That Bald Guy Knits”!

Here are just a couple more of his beautiful creations!

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Cordon
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Crosshaven

 

 

 

cup o’ coffee with a cap, please

Posted on 13 CommentsPosted in designing, projects

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well, for a project that i thought of as strictly catch as catch can, this sure got finished quickly. i mean, it’s not like i loll around over my coffee for hours every morning (or even one hour)—i’ve really only been putting a few rows on here and there when i get a chance.

but there you have it—those are the projects that get finished.

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i even managed to get it blocked today. i put it on to soak while we went across the alley to the office for a meeting and when i came back, it was ready to be squeezed, shaped, and laid out to dry (it’s about halfway there, now).

what i’ve done here is to use the pattern for that natty cap we released the other day and knit it up for david in our new tide pool shade of kent DK. i noticed that a couple of his hats are looking a little worn. the pattern doesn’t really include a size that will fit him, so i knit the largest size using needles one size bigger, which worked well with this lofty, squishy yarn. it’s funny about the kent—each shade has its own unique character; this one is draper, that one is loftier, a third has a bit more sheen. not enough to affect the outcome of the project at hand, but enough to enjoy each one as i work with it. i love that about them.

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and you know what that means.
(well, it actually means two things—time to pick out a couple of buttons and time to figure out what the next sideline project will be.)

let’s address the first issue first; i almost have too many choices that will work great with this fabric.

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the first are these bone buttons that are mostly blackish, but with cream streaks along the grain—we have these to list in our store and i’m told that we’ll get them posted some time on friday. i like how, where the black and cream meet, the material goes to brown. i used these on my scotty cap and i love them with the stone soup yarn, but i find them a little bit boring on this hat for some reason.

then there were a couple of options in resin material that i like well enough, but again, a little boring, though i DO like the color of the brown ones against the gray fabric. that helped me narrow things down a bit.

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every time i need buttons for an accessory, i try these blocky cedar ones; i love them so much, but their day just hasn’t come yet. i think in my heart, i’m holding to use them along the front of a knitted coat, using my own handspun yarn. they’re going to need some BIG buttonholes and a narrow hat band just isn’t the right place for that. but again, i’m loving the color contrast with this fabric, yum.

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ditto for these quirky antler ones; i have just two of these, rescued back in the 80s from a designer military-style jacket that was being thrown out by a friend.  i thought for sure they might work here, but the effect wasn’t what i’d hoped for. i think we really need some color.

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another selection in natural bone from our shop—those work really well and were in the front-running for a while. they don’t have a LOT of color, but what they have is distinct and makes an interesting statement. i like these!

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but then, i tried these other persian green bone buttons. now these are more like it—they are kind of vintage but with a modern pop. i love the color against the gray fabric, especially when i step back a bit.

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right??

i’ve always wanted glasses frames in this sort of color, but have not put much work into finding them for myself.

anyway, that’s settled; it’s going to be the persian green ones (we have these too—we’ll get them listed ASAP). all that’s left on this project then is for the hat to dry completely and even that is almost done.

which brings me to that second point—what is the next sideline project going to be?

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actually, this has been languishing in a project bag since october and i really want to get it done. it’s another hat—this time for me, me, me—based on my mass transit cowl design that i released back in the fall.

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remember this version that i knit with shades of stone soup DK and some leftover briar rose fourth of july? i’ve been wanting a hat knit in this fabric ever since and i’m going to make one now, darn it, before winter is over.

again, i’ll just keep it in the kitchen and out a few repeats on here and there in the mornings and while i’m cooking. i’m hoping i can do as well with this project as i did with david’s hat . . .

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meanwhile, my new sweater project is clocking right along—i cast on for the front monday night but didn’t get to work on it much tuesday. last night during our knit night and then afterward while watching TV, i managed a good bit. and as soon as i’m done writing this i’m heading upstairs to knit on it some more. can you tell i’m anxious for a new sweater?

and speaking of kent DK, look what we got in from anne marie yesterday

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a gorgeous sample of one version of our blanket statement club project, knit in four shades of kent DKwhitecaps, white sand, beach glass, and driftwood. this version is so elegant; kent has a lovely soft sheen from its romney wool content that really highlights the textured patterning.

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omg, it’s so light and airy and SOFT! i just want to curl up in it. isn’t she a spectacular knitter? we’re so lucky to have samples of her work in our collection; thank you dear anne marie!

i also heard that jen hagan has just finished another glentrekker cardigan in our kent DK yarn. this glentrekker in gray is just beautiful; she knit it as part of the glentrekker KAL in her figheadh yarnworks ravelry group.

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speaking of sweaters, i’ve been swatching with our better breakfast yarn, that luscious dehaired alpaca and merino blend, which we are rolling out for real at the end of next week. every shade (and a couple of new ones!) in both weights will be restocked, yay!

i’ve been wanting to knit myself another ivar sweater for months, ever since my original one became store property. i mean, i am really anxious to have a gray ivar pullover. the new dark gray BBF (warm coals) is coming in over the weekend and when it does, i’ll be ready.

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i’ve swatched on two needle sizes because the first one (right) hit the stitch gauge ok but was a little loose on the row gauge. the tighter swatch (left) hit the row gauge but is a hair tight on the stitch gauge—like a half stitch over four inches. i actually think that will be fine; it’s easy enough to block out the width and inch or so.

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in this case, i really prefer the fabric of the tighter swatch; it’s springier and more stable. for a yarn with alpaca content, that’s a plus.

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and while i was at it, i knit some lacy swatches for another idea i had to knit a reversible shawlette, this time with the muesli shade. this will be  sideline project after my hat is done; i’m still deciding whether it should be a crescent or a triangle. what’s your vote?

whiteout

Posted on 10 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, projects

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david picked up some gorgeous orchids on sale during a trip to the home store over the holidays. they are blooming like gangbusters and we are managing to keep them alive—score one for the home team.

the white one is doing a spectacular job of putting out, but the purply pink one kind of stealing the show, despite having less blooms.

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this one is such a diva, though—it catches a chill easily and needs to be moved back and forth from window sill to island every day or two to keep it from wilting in the draft. i gladly accommodate its fussy nature, as this spot of color is a merry island in a sea of january white and gray.

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yeah, we got dumped on this week in a storm completely unrelated to the one hitting the east coast right now. here, i thought we were expecting snow from the outer reaches of that system and BAM—we got hit from behind instead.

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between snowstorms and holidays, i don’t think the kids have had school more than three days in a row since the first of january, haha.

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not all the white is a challenge though—look at what my friend susie brought to knitting class on monday. she knit this vine flower dress from the über-soft organic pakucho cotton worsted we have in our online shop in the baby’s breath shade. how adorable is that? this dress is an easy knit and such a nice gift for a little girl baby. it will grow with a child so that she can wear it as a dress for a couple of year and then use it as a top.

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inside, we stay warm by keeping the home fires burning under pots of stew and soup, interspersed with fiery skillets of stir fry. this italian vegetable stew has several ingredients from our garden, including tomatoes from the freezer, carrots and garlic from the cellar, and fresh dug potatoes which we are storing deep under mounds of dirt in the garden, where they grew. david digs those up in batches whenever we have a bit of a thaw.

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while i cook, i add a few rounds on my natty cap whenever i have to wait for  something to boil or for the mirepoix to sweat bit.

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this new batch of kent DK in the tide pool shade is SO squishy—it’s funny how different shades of the same yarns have their own special character, even in blends. this particular batch is very bouncy and is showing some great stitch definition; perfect for this fabric, with its knit/purl texture.

i also work on the hat while sipping my first cup of coffee in the morning—starting the day with a bit of knitting helps me to get my thoughts in order. when i get to my desk, i know what i need to get done and it’s easier to avoid the black hole of email.

right now, i’m getting several new sweater patterns organized and out to the tech editor, putting together materials for the first installment of our blanket statement club, and working on the script for my next craftsy class—this one’s about sweater construction, in case you have input—which will go into production at the end of february.

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by lunch time i’ve worked up quite a hunger, so i indulge in some local color—leftovers from a spicy stir fry dinner or a small bowl of thick soup. now that is good food for warming things up.

with secret club knitting on hiatus for a short while, i’m trying not to spread myself thin by working on too many projects at once, because i want to make headway on my cam cable pullover sweater and think about my next sweater to go on the needles.

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so far, this strategy is paying off—i’ve got two sleeves finished already. and in a raglan sweater, the sleeves represent a good chunk of knitting.

after binding off the second sleeve last night, i cast on for the front before heading to bed.

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i figured getting that out of the way would allow me to launch right into some good knitting time when i got back to work on it. and as soon as i finish up this post, that’s just what i’m going to do.

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remember laura’s woodcutters toque i showed you the other day? well she showed up at the office today with it all done. isn’t it cute? it still needed a bath but i’ve taken care of that now—we’ll get some nice photos of it later this week. the yarn (our chebris blend in worsted weight) is absolutely dreamy—so unbelievably soft and with an incredible fluffy halo that gives it an other-worldy haze. can’t wait til you all can feel it too.

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well, she’s going to need that that—temperatures are going down to zero and maybe below as we speak; we are pulling i the drawbridge and getting our blankets on tonight. see you next time.

get ready for weather

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, projects

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with this week just hours underway, we are already bracing for heavy snow and blizzard conditions that will bring up to twenty four inches of snow to our eastern seaboard states. sounds like we’ll be needing a good knitting project to cuddle up with. laura cast on this woodcutter’s toque in a sample skein of chebris worsted (coming in february!!) that we are all drooling over.

she swears by this project as the ideal blizzard knitting, as it was immediately addictive and impossible to put down—so be sure to get changed into those jammies before you cast on.

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working this hat IS a lot of fun and i can attest that the result is a hit with david at least—two of the originals appear frequently in his rotation of favorite hats and when he wears one, he draws a lot of interested queries about it.

there is really but one choice to make as the first flakes begin to fly and the first DVD of your marathon movie series clicks into place—whether to complete a healthy chunk on a big WIP or to cast on new and useful accessory that you can actually wear, once you emerge into the world again.

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emily is all set, now that her knitting has hit its stride; she has a high peaks hat on the needles in kent worsted (it’s possible that she’s actually knitting a hot waffles cap; i’m doubting my memory now).

hat or mitten projects have several advantages—the patterns are are easily purchased and downloaded without leaving the house, almost every knitter has a suitable yarn on hand to make one, they are interesting but still allow you to watch TV, and they are quickly finished up so that you can wear them to shovel the snow or play in the park afterward.

barb was kind of making fun of me the other night when i brought a pile of swatches to our knit night (wednesdays, 6:30 to 8:30). she remarked that i could have just knit from an existing sweater pattern in the time it took to knit all those swatches and come up with a new project.

tell me about it, sherlock. do you really think i do this to break speed records?

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but now, with a nice number of projects planned and swatched out in advanced (there WAS a method to my madness, heh), i have my pick of what i could nestle in with for winter storm knitting (especially since i have a yarn shop in my back yard—which granted, is unusual).

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in fact i have swatches everywhere right now. but the strongest contender for my attention is a new pullover with a cable pattern that i love knitting. i chose kent DK, a soft springy merino/romney blend which i haven’t knit with nearly enough—and i’ve had my eye on the kelp shade for a sweater for ME since it came in last year.

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last week, i swatched my fabric every which way to prepare—both the cable panel detail and in stockinette, washed, unwashed, AND in the round.  i used information from all these pieces to work out the pattern draft (though i’m not working any part of my prototype in the round, i may see if we can produce a pattern for both versions).

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the cable (from barbara walker’s second treasury) is so cool and so fun to work. it’s actually not a real cable at all, but a large twist stitch pattern that shreds into ribs and comes back together again, over and over. the fabric it makes is not bulky or heavy because there is never a place where all the stitch cross over each other. so it has the appearance of a complex, heavily cabled fabric, but is actually quite light and breathable across its whole surface.

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i cast on my first sleeve last monday evening. our kent shades come in several families, but the kelp stands out a bit as unique in that it is a warm, caramel with gold—almost green—highlights. as each batch of our yarn will vary with whatever the wool crop brings that season, when i see something that stands out to me, i make sure we save out a sweater’s worth for a sample.

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well, this is one project i love in every way—the colors in the wool are entrancing, the cable is addicting, and in DK weight on (what i consider to be) bigger needles, it’s flying along. by thursday morning i already had a good bit knit.

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that piece was off the needles and folded up by friday, when i launched right into the second sleeve.

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i really needed project like this—one that i don’t have to worry about getting done for a deadline or meeting anyone else’s expectations. i mean, i DO plan to publish the pattern, but what drives the design and the choices i’m making is purely personal—which feels great right now; very freeing.

by the way, it’s not unusual for sweater pieces to look like writhing sea creatures as they come off the needles, or for them to be the wrong size and shape entirely. if you are new to sweater knitting or still contemplating whether you want to try, know that these homely pieces will eventually be transformed by blocking and that you will be witness to absolute magic when it happens.

so, i have my sweater to work on. oh and look—the snow is growing heavier as i write this (can you hear me grinning?).

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now don’t forget to cook up a big pot or casserole of something warm, easy to heat up, and filling—that way family members can help themselves and leave you alone to knit. last night after dinner i put on a pot of my grandma’s lentil soup—which is vegan by the way, using just the few ingredients you see here, plus some tomatoes and later, spinach. it took just a little while to prep and then i sat to knit while it bubbled.

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of  course, i always have my little sock to work on should i need a break from the sweater, or something portable to work on in the kitchen while fixing a meal. i really love the way this is turning out—with such warm, tweedy goodness, i’m really hoping for great wearability as well.

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though i did have a moment the other night when i had to kick myself for a stupid mistake i’d made. i had knit the heel flap and put it aside for later. that evening i pack it in my purse to take to a meeting. i merrily knit away around and around while people talked and presented. several rounds into the gusset shaping, i realized something was amiss—my heel looked awfully wide. groan—i’d forgotten to do the short row shaping to turn the darn heel. r-i-i-i-p-p-pp

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better now and easily fixed. this stone soup fingering yarn takes a ripping and reknitting really well; hopefully that says something positive about its durability. BTW, if anyone out there has already been knitting and wearing socks from this yarn, we’d love to hear some feedback.

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now that should be plenty to get me through one (oh heck, even TWO) snow storms. but i will always be that knitter who needs to be overly armed and prepared for any eventuality. i’d rather carry a couple of extra projects that i’ve no hope of getting to, than find myself stuck someplace (even at home!) with nothing to keep my hands busy. that’s just me; i’m sure none of you have any experience at all with such an issue.

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anyway when this new, medium gray (AKA tide pool) shade of kent DK arrived last week, i leapt on it. i got a bee in my bonnet that david would look adorable in a natty cap knit from one of our yarns.

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david’s got a couple of older hats that have really seen better days—like slöfock, one of his favorites. but the colors are fading and the fabric is pilling after several years of constant use; time for something fresh. the natty cap has a similar brim texture and body shape; i think he’ll like it.

i really waffled between this new kent shade and some shade of stone soup DK. but then i realized it would knit up quickly and i could make a second one—maybe for me—in stone soup.

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so last evening while i was cooking that pot of soup, i cast on.

holy cow—is this ever squishy; i love it. the pattern doesn’t include a size to fit his head (i guess i always thought of it as a girly design before), but it was easy to size up from what is included. plus, since this yarn has more body than the original yarn, i was able to used needles one size bigger all around and that helped get me to the size i needed—big.

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the texture of this design is a bit subtle, so it relies on a yarn that offers good stitch definition, which kent delivers. it also relies on fiber that softens nicely so that the hat body slumps in just the right way and kent does that too. with a couple of our natural material buttons added at the closure, it’s going to be quite good looking i think.

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and the soup turned out yummy; we’ll probably have some for dinner tonight.

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of course i cooked enough for an army, but this soup freezes very well and there’s a rumor going around that we might have company from pittsburgh coming to take a class sometime next week or the week after.

and as i said before, i like to be prepared.