Getting yarn in the mail is great, isn’t it? The rush of having a special package delivered to your door, opening it and discovering squishy, fantastic yarn inside — it’s why we love ordering that little treat for ourselves. A yarn club adds a whole new dimension to the process, with a surprise element included that makes that daily mail arrival extra special! Our Pairings Club, which is winging its way to members all over the globe right now, is just the ticket to experiencing that joy for yourself.
The only downside to ordering something extra-special, exclusive and limited edition is that it might not be available again. We have a solution for this in all of our clubs — we fondly call it “double dipping.” You can double-dip any existing club to get double the yarn. This means you can keep it, knit up two of the same pattern, and give one garment as a gift to a friend or family member. Or, you can use all of the yarn to make something bigger, should the mood strike. Love the neutral from Bare Naked Wools but not the colorway from our indie dyer? Keep the neutral and save the color for someone it suits for a gift knit later — you’ll still have enough for a project. Double dipping is great for those of us who like to knit something a bit larger and have a few more options.
it’s been a busy couple of weeks around here with the launch of our pairings club; behind the scenes we’ve been scurrying to enroll last-minute member signing up (thank you all!), organize the first mailing of club packages, and get the first chapter laid out.
everyone is excited! our clubhouse is hopping with gleeful posts as recipients rip open their packages to see what’s inside and download the chapter to take in the beautiful project photos and cooking splendor. if you’d still like to get in on the action, it’s not too late—we still have a few spots left.
but believe me, that’s not the only thing keeping us busy in these heydays of summer—our garden is exploding with goodies, just in time to test club recipes and supply our table with generous, healthy meals. this is the time of year when we’re most active; we need all the good nutrition we can get, with—hopefully—the least amount of time commitment.
squashes abound right now, but we are also picking loads of cucumbers for cool salads—those long spiny ones are new to us; we find them crunchy and delicious. peppers are ready for picking, too
along with several types of peas and a long list of greens.
squash plus beet greens, some chopped garlic and ginger, black pepper sauce, a little oil, and a hot skillet
equals two delectable side dishes in about ten minutes, when i’ve sorted and washed the greens ahead of time. add a piece of salmon and it’s supper, yum! when i have more time, i make roasted potatoes to go with. i always cook enough to have leftovers for lunching or snacking.
we both enjoy beet greens, so i grow beets, but since david doesn’t care for the roots, i mostly give those away. last week i took a half dozen small ones, added them to a brine of apple cider vinegar and sugar, studded the beets with cloves and threw some allspice, cinnamon, and herbs into the dish and WAH-la!—pickled beets, jewels of the salad plate. i like these a lot; the recipe is from the farmhouse cookbook (an old favorite of mine), but i found it online here to share with anne marie.
another easy fix for too much garden produce—sharing with friends. and we’ve been keeping everyone around us well supplied. lillian, doug, connie and bret, bruce and norma, mark and bil—yes, ALL of those friends have been eating from our garden too and we love it.
easy solutions for dealing with all the garden gifts is important because i’ve got plenty of design work to do as well. my knitting hasn’t suffered as yet, though i will have to make time soon for putting more of the garden stuff away in the freezer.
work on my twill stitch pullover has been progressing nicely; i had two sleeves done by the middle of last week and i swatched some cables in between there so i could start right away on the body pieces.
these two cables made the final cut for swatching. the one on the right is a looser, more flexible cable; i liked that it mimics the twill design at a larger scale. however, while the stitch definition is crisp on some needle sizes, it’s kind of lacking on larger ones; it ends up looking a bit unkempt and sloppy (in a stiffer, rounder yarn, it would probably be great). the other cable also mimics the herringbone twill, but in a different way and because its ribs cross over more stitches at a time, it is always crisp and stands proud of the fabric, even when stretched. but i decided to let david make the final choice about which one should go into the sweater.
and fortunately he chose correctly, haha.
with that settled, i started on the front piece right away. some of you might notice that i changed the hem ribbing from what i used on the sleeves. you know, i swatched a LOT before deciding on the ribbing for this sweater and in the swatches, the more subtle pattern really worked better for me. but once i had all of both sleeves knit, i realized that in a larger context, it all but disappears and at the very least, does nothing to elevate the design.
i should have started the sleeves with the chunkier rib after all, so i’m going to remove the existing cuffs and reknit them to match the body. that won’t be so bad—maybe and evening’s work? these things happen and if that’s the biggest problem i have with designing this sweater, i will not complain.
otherwise it’s really pulling together quickly. this is a much bigger sweater than i’m used to knitting for a prototype, so i was kind of dreading these body pieces (what if something went wrong??). but they are rolling off the needles at a nice pace, which makes me very happy. in fact, i will be far enough along by the time leave for alaska (on thursday) that i might leave this project to finish when i get back. i’d rather devote cargo space to a project that needs more knitting time, something i can really settle into during our travels (more on my planned travel knitting in the next post).
while i may not have chosen well for my sleeve cuffs, i do think that this cable was exactly the right thing for the side seams; isn’t it handsome? and so easy to work—just eight rows. and look . . .
when you put the side seams together as they will be after seaming, it’s doubly handsome. now, i don’t know about you, but doubly handsome edges out “just sorta handsome” in my book.
next thing on the agenda for this sweater is to think of a name.
i am starting to gather my knitting, teaching materials, a small popup shop, and a trunk show to head for a teaching trip to alaska at the end of the week—and barb is coming along! i’ll be back on wednesday for a last post before we head off. come see what i’m packing for the trip.
While the digital age has provided us with an outlet for connecting with other crafters in a social way, we also love the tactile, emotional happiness we get from attending a local knit night or knitting with a close friend. This is very similar to the feeling we get when cooking for family or an intimate group of neighbors. Pairings Club, our latest offering, really gets to the root of what makes group dinners and knitting so wonderful: the community of making and sharing.
Each Pairings Club subscription features two yarns. One from Bare Naked Wools — a familiar friend. The other, from a surprise dyer — an unexpected, but welcome guest. Pairings also takes this a step further and adds recommended patterns and recipes that partner well with the yarns. While it’s certainly possible to work your way through the club on your own or with interaction in our Ravelry group, we’d love to think that it might connect knitters close at home, too. Here are a few ideas:
Join with your local knitting group. Sign up together for your own subscriptions and meet up each time a new one is delivered to try the recipe together. Who knows — this could result in a future soup swap, supper club, or cookie exchange!
Join with a local friend. Even if they don’t knit, many of the yarns we’re including are great for learning on, and this is a great reason to get together. Have your packages delivered each to the other’s house to increase the chances that you’ll open them together.
Join with a family member. If you’re lucky enough to have another knitter in your family, join together and race to finish the project. Open the packages together and think about how you can incorporate the recipe into that week’s family meals. Cook together, knit together, and celebrate the time you’re spending connecting.
Join across the globe. Many Ravelry users form friendships that span countries and continents away. You may not get to see each other often, but joining a club is a great way to feel connected even when you’re not. Open your packages together online using Facetime or Skype, and form your own far away knit-nights.
Of course, our Ravelry group is always open to any and all members, and the community aspect there is extraordinary, too. We’re looking forward to celebrating your successes, hearing your recipe reviews, and chatting about when the next shipment has arrived! Find the group here and say hello.
back in january we wrapped up our ENVY 2015 club with this final design—see the sea—an asymmetrical crescent shawl that makes the most of a gradient yarn or one with random striping, the kind of colorations you get when hand spinning with dyed roving.
the pattern includes two sizes; one is a larger shawl (shown above) worked with two skeins of yarn, while the other works well as a shawlette or scarf (see below) for those single rare gems in your possession.
on this raw day in january, when we headed for the water to photograph the shawl, emily braved the climate with only this shawl between herself and the icy wind.
she’s such a great sport; thank you emily . . .
this piece is terrifically fun to knit in a variety of yarns; if you don’t have something self striping in the stash to work with, it is easily worked in stripes of separate yarns or a handpaint with longer color repeats. a colorway with lots of contrast will show off the exaggerated waves in the pattern to great effect.
designing for our clubs is one of the many joys of my work—thinking up surprise twists and turns that no one expects, making the most of a particular and specific yarn, highlighting its best qualities with just the right motifs and details, collaborating with a special dye artist to realize a vision, and then creating a photographic world in which to display the results—these are the ways that my work brings me close to our whole community.
this particular design took our ravelry clubhouse by storm, with many members quickly knitting a first one in the club pick of that month, then moving on to knit another in something else. the yarn choice was a custom blend of entropy sport made with sea cell fiber (instead of nylon) in a colorway dyed especially for us by lisa westra of feederbrook farms.
lisa’s colorways supply the perfect palette for creating a gorgeous final masterpiece of undulating patterns that ebb and flow across the fabric surface. if you are spinning a tour de fleece project right now, this design could work really well with your resulting skein(s).
the patterns are extremely easy to work, but if you are hesitant, there is also plenty of support in our knitspot ravelry group—start a thread with any question and you’ll soon have a group formed to chat your way through it! i’m sure there will be many clubbies anxious to share their FOs and advice on the subject, haha.
speaking of ravelry, the pattern is available in our ravelry pattern shop as well as the online shop here on our website. to purchase pattern or view complete details, please click the link to check out the listing in the knitspot pattern shop or here to view it on ravelry.
this entertaining and quick knitting shawl or scarf will make a gorgeous going away gift to a college bound teen or holiday gift for a special friend or relative—cast on for one today to knit through the rest of the tour de france or the upcoming olympics; it makes for great TV knitting if you’ve got a little experience under your belt.
and i know a few of you could even finish one before our pairings club gets going . . . a great way to pass these last few days of anticipation.