quick as a wink

Posted on 24 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, lace/shawls


i swear, this has been the snowiest week we’ve had all winter. which was kind of good, because i needed to hole up and get some serious knit on.


those pretty sleeves i showed you in my last post needed to become a sweater, so i spent most of monday working out the written pattern. that involved a lot of calculating to maintain the sizing between the lacy and stockinette sections, as well as through the shaping.

but a day well spent—by late evening i was ready to cast on and get going.

since my sleeves worked out so well in terms of hitting the right gauge and size consistently, i decided to tackle the back piece next. i usually make this piece last because i use the smaller pieces to confirm my shaping, etc., but i wanted to make sure that the transitions between the lace and stockinette areas worked out correctly, so this time i knit the big piece first as it has the most variables.


not only are there two larger areas of lace patterning, but there is body shaping AND short row shaping just above the back hem. any of those factors could result in some rewriting of the pattern if it wasn’t right; i felt it best to suss out any problems as early as possible.

i also needed to determine if i could realistically finish this sweater by the weekend—i thought if i could get the back done by sometime on wednesday and know that it was in good shape, i could finish the whole thing in time for a weekend photo shoot.


writing up the pattern reminded me that i needed to determine a button count and for that i would need to pick out buttons. luckily i had two options right in the house. one was my favorite flat shell buttons, which i use often. i wasn’t sure they would work, but actually, they are quite pretty. however, while digging further into my button box, i came across a set of jet black glass buttons i’d forgotten i had.


i really like these and i felt this sweater could use something a bit dressier (though it isn’t required).

i knit the hem lace section before turning in on monday night. tuesday was a busy day at the office, so i didn’t get to knit again til late in the day, but once i sat down to work, the pace picked up quite a bit.


i stayed up very late knitting on tuesday into wednesday morning—mostly because it was so much fun to watch the piece come off the needles—this design is much quieter in the front view, with all the impact in the back. when i got up on wednesday morning, i was nearly done.


by lunch time, i was ready to block it and see how my planning all worked out in reality. i’m knitting with our bare naked wools better breakfast fingering yarn in the poppy seed shade—the the photo just above is the most accurate representation of the color; it sometimes photographs as a much lighter gray, depending on the light.


the back pinned out very easily to the planned dimensions; i steamed blocked it to set the size and the fabric responded beautifully. i’ve noticed that the more recent batches of this yarn are really nice—our ohio mill is getting better and better as we work with them more. this particular batch has a near-perfect level of twist—enough to create a fabric that has some nice spongy bounce and body, but not so much that it neutralizes all the softness and drape of the fiber blend. it is slightly less fuzzy, but because of that it should resist pilling even better.


i left the back pinned out to dry and immediately got started on one of the front pieces (seriously, i barely looked up form my knitting all week!). i don’t know why—maybe because they are just “half”?—but the fronts always knit up so fast for me. by the next evening, i had both fronts finished and was blocking those too.

i like to pin one of them out and steam it, then pin the second one right on top of the first. i do the same with the sleeves—it saves so much time and ensures that the book-matched pieces are exactly the same size and shape.


with all the pieces steam blocked, i gathered my tools and headed upstairs to watch TV while i started seaming. first, i completed the shoulder seams and steamed them to get ready to apply the button/neck bands.


the button/neck bands are narrow, but loo-o-o-oong; i think it took me almost as long to complete that part as it did to knit the fronts (or at least it felt that way). but finish them i did and after that it was a downhill coast through the seaming to the finish. by saturday morning i was done, just in time to go teach my class.




unfortunately, our overnight snow/slush/ice and a severe drop in temperatures caused our “spring” photo shoot to be postponed. arrrghhh.

that’s why i didn’t sew on the buttons yet—i decided that i may as well wash it first. but i took a few photos to share with you—i know the suspense was killing me, so i figured you might be anxious to see the results too.


i just love it—it’s light and airy and elegant; everything a spring sweater should be.  i have a very short list of notes for minor pattern tweaks and that’s it—off to the tech editor on monday.


it’s drying now; the fabric “grew a lot” when it was wet but it was easy to reshape it to the right measurements. i’ve been turning and reshaping it every couple of hours to encourage  a bit more loft and density in the final fabric. i think i am going to love wearing this one (and barb is already hatching plans to knit one, too).

for this week coming i will concentrate on finishing up my shawl, hopefully to be off the needles before i leave for my teaching trip in ottawa at the end of the week (all classes are full, yay!).

i am often asked when i will be teaching in the midwest and ta-DA—i will be teaching again at the end of this month at the miami knitters guild near dayton, ohio—there are plenty of spots left for anyone in the region who would like to attend (you don’t have to be guild member to sign up). i will be teaching sweater fitness and finishing—a great combination for any knitter. check out the class offerings and sign up information here—hope to see you then!

ok then, i’ll be back in a couple of days with an update on my shawl; this time i promise i won’t fall down the rabbit hole, haha; i’m staying right here til it stops snowing and warms up.

the difference a day makes

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden, lace/shawls


hehe, well, it happens every year during the first week of april but still it surprises me.


it’s the same each year—just after the daffodils bloom we wake up one day to see everything draped in a layer of snow, sometimes lightly and sometimes—like today—quite heavily.


in fact we had quite the winter storm last night—whorls of heavy snow buffeted about by strong winds that went on for hours. fortunately this morning the sky was mostly clear and the sun was shining, though it has stayed cold.


my little spinach and chard sprouts might just make it—they seemed ok when i checked. yesterday some of them had a second set of leaves already, so i’m hoping they are the hardy type. just in case though, i sprinkled a few more seeds on top of the snow as insurance.

with the snow and cold outside, it’s been a good weekend to stay inside and knit. i got quite caught up on my new shawl.


by friday night i had reknit all the yarn i ripped out the morning before and had successfully navigated about half of my new charts with little or no corrections (air punch!). it’s a good sign that i had to change to a longer needle yesterday morning in order to move on—the shawl is getting bigger.


last night i got through the rest of those charts and am now ready for fresh material.


now that i have a nice chorus line of leaves dancing across the shawl, it’s time to add some blossoms. i worked on the next part late this afternoon so i am all set to get back to knitting when we settle in for some TV watching later on (first though, we are going on a movie date, yay).


for sweater progress, i had finished the lace portion of my sleeve on friday night as well and had just started the stockinette part. on saturday morning, i knit away on that while overseeing our wheaten wrap class at the shop and by the time it was over, i had a few new inches to show for myself.

after class, i came back to the house and set myself up in a comfy chair on the top floor to knit the afternoon and evening away.


by mid afternoon i had the sleeve done and pinned it out for steam blocking; i thought it was important to set the shape and size of that lace with steam before wet blocking anything.


now you can get a much better idea of what that lace will look like—i love it. it will be repeated around the sweater hem and on the back above the waist. what do you think barb?

from finishing and blocking this piece, i have a much better idea of how to handle the gauge differential between the lace portion and the stockinette portion, which is considerable—a difference of about twenty-five percent.


i made some very slight adjustments to my pattern and after i had knit my shawl as far as i could last night, i cast on the second sleeve and knit the hem ribbing. this morning i got up and set to work on that, hoping i might get halfway by noon. but it didn’t turn out that way . . .


instead i was to the underarm bind off by then and well, i couldn’t stop there; i had to keep going. it was OTN by about 2 pm and i couldn’t be happier with that speed. i didn’t block the second sleeve yet because i really needed to get back to my lace charts so i have something to work on tonight, haha.


aren’t they a funny pair? you’d hardly know they were related.


i know, i know—i’m always running on and on about blocking and how awesome it is, but well, it IS!! just look at these two stockinette photos.


sure that top one looks “fine”, but seriously, which one would you rather wear? which one would make your bod look sleeker?

with my work lined up for later tonight, i think i’ll hit the shower and get gussied up for our date—so excited. i’ll be back in a couple of days with hopefully more progress; see you then!

out of the old rises the new

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden, lace/shawls


our current weather theme is holding—days that are sunny and warm alternating with days that dip down to near freezing. the plants have been reluctantly opening their buds one by one, only to have their flowers torn to rags by the wind, which is mostly ferocious on any day.


the poor daffodils are few in number this year and i can’t help but wonder if they are getting destroyed before they’re even fully open. or maybe they are just wise enough to wait til things calm down, who knows?


the spinach and chard seeds i tossed out into the garden on monday are sprouting already—i’m excited! now if i can get david to make a spot for peas, i’ll plant those next. i should get the onions and potatoes in too—and maybe parsnips . . .

thank you for your enthusiastic response to my new hempshaugh skirt. you wanted to see it “on”, so here you go.


i even got a chance to play with making outfits


i love it with the salt & pepper top which is also knit in hempshaugh laceweight. i think i’ll be wearing this combination a LOT—it’s simple, fun, and oh-so-comfy. i haven’t had a chance to get them together yet, but i bet the skirt will look great paired with janet guthrie, too.


no sooner had i posted that i was finished, than cherie text me photos of HER finished sample, also in our hemp fingering yarn, this time in the solid millet shade.


haha, she was playing dress up too—with a merle tank that she knit last year in our hemp fingering yarn. does it make anyone else think of brigitte bardot? i recently read that bardot is the new black. of course, i read it on a t-shirt so it might not be true (but i wish i had that t-shirt).


i washed up that salt & pepper top yesterday after reknitting the neck finish, which did not turn out as loose as i wanted it—it should be loose enough to tip forward just a bit from the neck at the bottom of its U shape.

the hemp fabric is a little unruly when it is very wet. so i always start out by squeezing as much moisture as i can from the fabric and then treating it to some vigorous reshaping—quick tugs to the fabric in all directions and a few good shakes. then i lay it down and shape as best i can to the desired measurements.

as it dries, i pick it up several times to fluff and reshape and voilà—eventually it shrinks back to a uniform fabric that hangs beautifully.


even though at the last writing i thought i was over the hump, my biggest challenge this week has been my shawl project.


by mid-week i had charted myself into a corner but was still doggedly carrying on, convinced that i was on the right track. finally yesterday i came to my senses when i assessed what i had completed and did not love it. at all. sigh.

so i proceeded to scrap a substantial amount of the work i had—most of my working hours over the last two weeks, in fact. (i was actually more than halfway through that chart, grr). and even though i was enjoying the work, it wasn’t pretty—oh NO!

the good news is that i was able to salvage the first two sections i wrote and after ripping back yesterday morning, i rewrote a new section fairly quickly. sometimes, a project is just like that—kicking and squirming and hateful to me nearly all the way through and then finally, submissive at the end.


i gave myself little consolation treats every few hours over the last two days by working on a wild card design for the spring collection—one that i wasn’t sure i’d be able to squeeze in, but now looks like a reality. i showed you some swatches the other day in chebris lace, which is one yarn that it could be knit in


but then i swatched with better breakfast fingering yarn and i loved that so much that i decided to knit my sample with it instead—i just like the weight of this fabric a little better for my uses. if i went out a little more often or had a job that required dressier clothing, i would totally use the chebris; it is supremely light and elegant knit in this fabric.


side by side, both yarn work up to the same gauge (though on needles one size apart), so i’m comfortable recommending either one.


the sweater will be mostly plain stockinette with the back in the lace fabric above the waist and lace at the hem and lower sleeve. the back hem will curve downward via short row shaping though not as long as the sketch implies; probably just below the low hip in back.


after all of my shawl charts were done last night, i treated myself to starting a sleeve for the sweater while we watched TV. it is of course quite misshapen, but i think it’s going to look spectacular in the poppy seed shade of the BBF yarn.

this morning i got up and got to work on reknitting the shawl; the new charts are working out great so far. i’ve already reknit most of it and am much happier with what i have now. it won’t be long before it’ll be done i think. yay.


the weather is turning nasty out there and the temperature is dropping once again (after starting out as a really nice day!). i plan to spend a lot of time knitting this weekend so i can get these last two patterns off to tech editing. if we do get a break in the rain, i’d like to get some seeds in the ground . . ..we’ll see.

maybe before any of that, a nap. hey it’s friday after all . . .

what about you?