paws-ing for thanks

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in home and family

my family and i have so much to be thankful for today and after my thanksgiving bath (for which i stood very, very still, even tho it was really, really hard), i persuaded them into a blog takeover to share my thanks with you.

first, believe it or not, i am thankful for being trapped all those months ago. i didn’t know it then, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. thanks to our friend ramona, who helped my family bring me home, i fall asleep in a safe place each night that’s warm and dry and i have plenty to eat. i am also loved beyond reason.

did you know that ramona’s rescue, jjs ruff roads, is a recipient organization on amazon smile? you can help her bring home other lost dogs like me by designating jjs ruff roads when you make amazon purchases this holiday season.

i’m thankful for our extended family over at “work”. i’m especially thankful for their patience and constant kindnesses as i get more and more used to being near humans. being touched is the hardest thing i’ve ever done and progress is slow. i want to run right up and cuddle, but something always stops me; the best i can do is run in for a quick sniff. i want them all to know that i’m trying and i have big plans for 2018 in this department.

i’m grateful that my family works at home and that we get to go on long, long walks every day, summer and winter, rain or shine. i walked all day when i lived on the street too, but most of that time, i was looking for food or to stay out of trouble.

now i’m making friends all the time—there are SO many dogs in our neighborhood and people to go with them. i don’t have a photo of my best friend casey, but i’ll try to get one to share with you soon—he’s the BOMB, a malinois shepherd, my favorite breed.

on our walks, we also see beautiful things that are not dogs.

like moonrise . . .

i’m thankful for the dog park, where i can tear around with the other guys, rolling and wrestling and chasing til i’m all tired out. i’m thankful for the way it makes my mom laugh and laugh to watch me. i’m thankful that whenever we go there, she always takes me for a long walk on the bike path, too.

i’m grateful that my family—and extended family—are knitters; it creates such a quiet peaceful feeling when they work and also, they know the importance of soft cuddly stuff. if only i had opposable thumbs . . .

i’m thankful for the sofa; while i didn’t notice its beauty much over the summer, now that it’s cold, i am completely smitten with it. added bonus—mom spends most of her knitting time there and if i’m clever, i can kinda verrry slowly scooch in til my nose rests on her hip. you know, just to try out being close.

i’m grateful for fudge pecan pie because even tho i can’t eat it, it made my mom SO HAPPY to spend yesterday afternoon making it.

and my tiny turkey dinner, which is my treat today. my family is eating lasagne because they don’t eat meat.

i’m grateful for the garden because, while i don’t have opposable thumbs to share the work of it, i still get to eat every day from what we grow there—we have enough green beans and sweet potatoes put by to last all winter.

and best of all i’m thankful for all of you, even tho i never met you. you know why?? because THIS.

we are doing so great you guys!! we have passed last year’s red scarf scholarship effort already and with six weeks to go yet, we might even exceed the goal we set for this year. let’s keep up the momentum and drive this puppy home—you know, figuratively—because i’m already home.

click here for details and patterns; please share and give!

thank you all for a wonderfully warm year; we hope each and every one of you is celebrating the day surrounded by love and good cheer.

another round of holiday goodies

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, designing, patterns

it’s wovember and open season for all-out knitting, when work on winter wearables or special holiday gifts begins in earnest.

giving is always on my mind, but especially at this time of year when i ask you to join me in making a young person’s dreams come true. our 2017 red scarf scholarship fundraiser is underway now through january 1, building an opportunity for our student jelissa to complete her degree at FIT, new york city. you may click here to read all the details about the fundraiser and a little bit about jelissa, our recipient.

but on the way we like to make it fun and keep it knitterly and we know that right about now you are—like me—making a list of gifts for knitworthy loved ones as well as for yourself (what?? you don’t do that? c’mon, you can tell us). well hey—whatever your MO, we’ve got you covered from all angles with our next round of red scarf fundraising goodies!

this month we are featuring our festivus 4.0 sport weight in a delicious trio of colorwork accessories by designer mary o’shea of tullymongan designs. mary has created many delightful items using bare naked wools yarns—check out her designer page for alternatives that will also work well with festivus 4.0 sport or worsted.

first up, if you live in a very cold climate and need to be outside frequently, these gorgeous cranberry trellis mittens might be right up your alley. pretty and festive in red, gray, and white, they are also super warm; the stranded colorwork has a secret—it traps air between its layers of yarn to offer a cozy measure of insulation. they feature a turned picot hem, which can be lengthened so that the entire cuff is lined for extra warmth.

i will admit that i’ve never been much of a mitten wearer, preferring to have my fingers free to work, but walking the dog in these early days of frosty weather has got me thinking that i need some. first, they are many times warmer than gloves and secondly, they are far easier to pull off quickly for the finer tasks of dog walking (ahem.).

but i love my fingerless mitts for almost all other purposes—i wear them indoors and out for nine months of the year and i’ve got them in several weights for different seasons. so i was especially pleased to see these cranberry lattice mitts in the box of design samples that mary sent for the fundraiser . . .

aren’t they adorable?? and they are included as a bonus in the mitten pattern—that’s two for one, folks; her present to you (PLUS it’s a donation to the scholarship). also worked in stranded colors with sport weight yarn, this pair is more unisex with a vintage athletic wear look—these are the perfect quick knit to tuck into the “TBD” section of your gift knits stash, ready to pull out when a last minute present is needed.

and oh, but that’s not all . . . if you’re knitting mittens, or mitts, you’ll surely want a coordinating hat, right??

and mary’s got your back here too, with such an awesome little cap. the minute ellen opened mary’s box of samples, she seized on this hat and the fingerless mitts as perfect for her.

the cranberry lattice cap is a match for the cranberry lattice mitts, but also coordinates perfectly with the cranberry trellis mittens—note the pattern in the thumb which matches the hat.

SO, so cute, am i right?

and my favorite thing about this entire set is the pairing of the specTACular cranberry red (by dyer julie asselin) with the soft grey confection sport yarn that mary chose to work with. the medium gray cookies and cream shade along with the white chocolate shade are the perfect foil for that rich, glowing cranberry crush color.

the pieces are shown here in size medium, but adjusting the sizing couldn’t be easier—simply move up or down one needle size to make a larger or smaller set. the lively spring and bounce of the all-natural yarns means they will expand or contract according to need with only a slight difference in fabric density; the color stranding will fill in to support the fabric as well.

festivus 4.0 on patchwork gradient

one skein of each yarn will provide plenty to complete an entire set of all pieces, with spares left over to squeeze in another small something.

david has created a convenient kit containing all the yarns PLUS both patterns; click here to view details and purchase. 100 percent of the pattern price ($7.00 each) will be added to the fund along with 5% of the yarn prices. you may use the pulldown menu on the product page to add an additional donation amount to your purchase.

to view more information or purchase a cranberry trellis/lattice mitts pattern, please click here for the knitspot store listing, where you can also choose to add a donation using the pulldown menu; we will be happy to add it to your ravelry library afterward if you request it with a note at checkout.
OR click here to purchase on ravelry (no extra donation option).

to view more information or purchase a cranberry lattice cap pattern, please click here for the knitspot store listing, where you can also choose to add a donation using the pulldown menu; we will be happy to add it to your ravelry library afterward if you request it with a note at checkout.
OR click here to purchase on ravelry (no extra donation option).

i would also like to thank our friend kerri blumer SO very much for continuing to make her andiron cowl and andiron scarf patterns available for the ENTIRE fundraising period (we only asked for a month of sales, but she’s extending it!); she’s just awesome and she has lots of beautiful designs to share—be sure to check out her ravelry shop.

now, let’s talk about goals . . . after the first month, doug tells me that we have just about reached the $1000.00 mark—woo-hoo!

last year we tried to reach $5000 but unfortunately did not meet it, falling rather short. i would love, love, LOVE to make it up this year and top the charts with the best fundraiser ever. we are trying to exceed last year’s goal and get to $6000 this year.

looks like we still have a ways to go—can you help us get there?? here’s what you can do to help:.

  1. purchase any of our 2017 red scarf fundraiser patterns here, here, here, and here, and/or add an extra donation on our website—use the pulldown menu to increase your gift and we will donate the entire pattern price PLUS that extra amount. we are happy to add the pattern to your rav library if you let us know!! (but we have to do it manually, so please tell us)
  2. purchase a pattern on ravelry here, here, here, and here—the entire retail pattern price will go into the scholarship fund.
  3. purchase a 2017 festivus kit which includes the pattern PLUS enough special edition festivus 4.0, to knit a scarf or cowl. we will add 5% of your yarn purchase price to the fund.
  4. buy one or more skeins of festivus 4.0 for any project and we will add 5% of your purchase price to the fund.
  5. please, please, PLEASE tell everyone you know about the fundraiser—they don’t need to be a knitter to throw $7 (or more!!) at this wonderful cause. please mention it with a link in your favorite ravelry groups, a link and hashtag on your Instagram, Facebook page (and link it), tweet it (with a link!), pin it (yes, with link) and finally just drag your friends over to look at the blog, haha. we’ll even give them a “knit naked sticker badge” if it helps them to help out.
  6. join us for a fun red scarf KAL in our ravelry mothership—we promise a rollicking good time, plenty of support, and of course, neat-o prizes.

cardigan is wondering where her mitts are—but in the meantime, she’s pleading in the cutest way she knows how for you to join us in our holiday giving event.

and from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for all that you do to make this happen each year!

three haps

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, lace/shawls, patterns, spinning and fiber

in april, just as the first bright greens of spring were emerging, we released three hap designs in our bare naked knitspot club to be knit in elemental affects shetland wool.

and it is with great pleasure that i’m now able to offer these pattern for general release—they were very popular with our clubbies and many people outside the club have been asking when they could start knitting them too.

from top to bottom above, we have the bold and sassy jack tar triangle, followed by the muirburn triangle, and then by the eshaness scarf/stole. each pattern includes instructions for two sizes and four colors, but both are easily adjusted to suit your taste for more or less color changes and bigger or smaller final size.

our friend kathy recently knit this pretty sample in four shades of our tweedy stone soup fingering yarn; it’s so light and airy, but also rustic and cozy to wear; i love it.

the yarn is light and soft, the fabric will flutter prettily in the breeze. it also handles the light just beautifully, filling up with a glow at the merest hint of sun.

muirburn and eshaness are designed using the same stitch patterns and colors, but make use of the shetland shades in different ways. the effect in each design is soft and subtle, with the yarn reflecting the landscape of the scottish heather moors.

jack tar is designed to show off the intensity of the natural shetland colors, which range from deepest black to white—twenty-one natural shades in all to accent the bold sailor’s stripes along the hem.

which one of these designs reflects your personality?

i think the intense discussion over the answers to this question made this installment the most fun for our clubbies.

shown here are the petite size shawls and the scarf version of the rectangular piece. this small size can be made with about five ounces of wool, using something light and airy.

the stiffness and luminosity of this natural shetland or our stone soup fingering yarn is just perfect; the yarn helps the light openwork keep its blocked shape and luminous appearance where something more springy would weigh the fabric down. i imagine they would be stunning in our chebris lace mohair blend as well for the same reasons.

the simple stitches just fly off the needles in these easy to work yarns—the perfect fast knit to consider for a special holiday gift. take a look at our clubbies’ project pages for expanded color ideas and notes.

to view and purchase pattern only, please click here, here, or here for ravelry purchase and click here, here, or here for knitspot pattern shop purchase.

homeward bound

Posted on 15 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden, home and family

with the fun and excitement of rhinebeck put to bed til next year, i’ve taken a few days to stop off and spend some time with my mom in upstate new york. the foliage here is turning rapidly now, reminding me of how quickly we are moving toward winter—how can that be already?

it seems like just last week that i was frantically trying to figure out what to do with the five pounds of green beans i was picking each time i went into the garden, hehe.

our summer was almost mind-numbingly busy, with out of town sheep and wool events, teaching events, an incredibly productive garden, and our new family member to teach and share experiences with.

but in between the watering and harvesting, the truck packing and car travel, we squeezed in a wonderful evening walk each day, shared dinners around the table together, made new friends in our community, and at the end of each long day, a bit of cozy knitting time.

you really can’t ask more than that from one short summer, can you?

as for knitting, you would think i’d gotten nothing done, considering how few times i blogged about it, but a lot of stealth knitting was accomplished.

in addition to these shawl/scarf designs for the the bare naked knitspot club, i started and finished a second sample of my new birches cardigan design in lightweight cabécou brillant sport.

omg, it is SO light and fluffy; the depth in this yarn is spectacular in person, too—i used the sel gris shade, which is a warm gray with gold tones added by the unbleached tussah silk; so rich and pretty. ellen wore it this past weekend at a couple of our rhinebeck events and it looked stunning on her—much better than on me!

the early fall was filled with activity around knitspot central; i had a couple of weekend teaching dates that were exciting and invigorating—i love spending time with students who are expanding their skills and exploring new horizons in knitting. we were also part of our regional yarn shop crawl, a three-week event during which we hosted hundreds of knitters at our brick and mortar shop in canton, ohio.

in between knitting events and designing, it was a mad scurry to harvest and put up the abundance of the good things that our garden produced this year.

we had a crazy big tomato season that yielded thousands of cherry tomatoes and hundreds upon hundreds of full-sized heirlooms as well. every surface of our kitchen and dining area featured a red, green, and yellow landscape.

we did a lot of creative shifting around as they ripened for roasting, drying, and freezing. all of our neighbors and acquaintances benefitted from the harvest in our small garden space.

believe me, more than once my eye went to cardigan’s little paws, wondering if i could teach her to peel and chop. somehow, i don’t think she’d appreciate being pressed into kitchen service . . .

she’s more interested in outdoor “work”—good company in garden during those early morning hours, following me from one area to another to snooze nearby while i picked beans or tomatoes.

we had a spectacular garlic harvest in july, netting just under a hundred large heads. we culled out the biggest ones for planting next year’s crop and david put those cloves into the ground earlier this month—our 2018 garden is already underway!

our greens were plentiful and delicious as well, but we didn’t have time to harvest as much for summer eating as i would have liked. we shared a lot as they grew, but the good thing about greens is that they just keep chugging along til i had a window to cut a big batch for freezing. i’m relieved that i did because these are my favorite.

in the middle of the fall flurry, david’s birthday kicked off the month of october and we celebrated by having a make-your-own pizza night for just the three of us. the sauce naturally was made from fresh roasted tomatoes and garlic; toppings included fresh zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, and more.

the pizzas were followed by big slices of chocolate fudge cake, yum-mo. it’s my go-to recipe, adjusted to be gluten free; still the best one yet!

in addition to tomatoes and green beans, we had beautiful eggplant and peppers, which i cooked into big pots of stews and such to freeze for winter. now we are harvesting the root vegetables and were pleasantly surprised at how many beets, potatoes, and rutabagas we have. this is the first year we’ve had really good sweet potatoes and the timing couldn’t be better—they are one of cardigan’s favorite foods, along with green beans.

i picked  a few baby parsnips to thin the row for now; the rest will stay in the ground til after the frost, along with the rutabagas and beets for further flavor development.

there’s nothing like that first pan of freshly dug roast potatoes—yum, YUM!

i have to say though, much as i enjoy it all, i’m glad the garden is winding down and there will be more time for knitting.

although who knows—mother nature may have another plan for my “free time”. a couple of weeks ago when i was picking some of the last tomatoes, through the dying vines i spied this small grove of new plants, growing in our compost pile. apparently, the bad tomatoes i’d been throwing on top had sprouted, self fertilized, and grown there. i have no idea which ones are which, but it’s likely we may see fruit from them if this temperate weather holds out; the compost is warm and will make a friendly environment for an extended growing area . . .

between club designs and sample knits, i squeezed in a small personal project—a new pair of lacunae fingerless mitts for me, to replace my beloved original pair knit in briar rose fibers fourth of july yarn. i lost one at the end of the spring while i was walking cardigan.

i’d been meaning to knit a new pair anyway so it was probably for the best. i love this design because the stretchy cross-stitch has a nice firm grip that doesn’t lose its shape. the yarn is really hardwearing as well; the original pair never pilled at all and still looked great after years of constant use.

i finished them up during our rhinebeck weekend, weaving in the last ends on our last night in the rental house, yay! they are a bit wrinkled from being squished in my project bag, but they’ll look much better once i have a chance to wash and block them.

and i have so much yarn left over that i think i’ll knit the matching cap—i gave the original one away on a whim and have always missed it, since it fit me very well (it’s not easy finding the perfect hat for my little pea-head).

speaking of rhinebeck, what a whirlwind weekend it was, fun, fabulous, and all too fast. our dear friend kimkimkim was in town to attend the show and spend the weekend with ellen and i. as usual we had a lot of fun catching up, though we also worked hard.

with a booth at the indie untangled event on friday evening and our own popup shop on sunday afternoon, we needed to cram most of our fair-going time into saturday. this was ellen’s first rhinebeck and if you’ve ever been, you know how that is—completely mind boggling, haha. but fun and wonderful, too.

the day started out cool and breezy, turning unseasonably warm and sunny in the afternoon. the crowds were epic, swallowing up our friends within moments. every time i look at this photo i think of “where’s waldo??”—ellen was right in front of me but can you spot kim in the crowd?

we definitely made the most of our show-time hours, beginning with a trip to the animal barns to visit the sheep and goats. this handsome creature was getting a final clip and trim before entering the show ring and being so patient about it, too.

this adorable fella should look familiar—it’s one of the goats from the farm that produces the mohair for our chebris and cabécou brillant yarn lines!

after visiting the animals, it was time for shopping and people watching; everyone’s favorite part of the show. i am on a strict budget this year so i concentrated on the latter mostly, but still stocked up on my favorite shepherd’s friend hand cream from maggie’s farm and treated myself to a mug from stacey stanhope pottery.

i wasn’t going to buy a mug at all and i certainly don’t need another, but i saw the composition on this one and caved—i just love her work too much to walk away. i look at it as a piece of art and i know i’ll spend more time than i’d ever admit just turning it round and round, enchanted by the motifs. (and i hear tell that some day soon, the cake plate i’m patiently awaiting will be a reality, too. no worries—good things take time and i can be VERY patient.) we even talked about working a silhouette of cardigan into a small piece in the near future—sign me up!

after that it really was time for people watching ONLY and of course there is more than enough of that at the show to satisfy a knitter’s appetite for fun, fresh ideas.

i couldn’t believe it when i was walking back from a trip to the car and ran into becky, who had written me several times in the previous week about a special yarn order. she mentioned casually that she had knit a dress from our hempshaugh fingering yarn that had fair isle hem and yoke and i was intrigued. so i was doubly glad that she was wearing it when i saw her! while i couldn’t really envision it as described in writing, it was very pretty in person and the hemshaugh yarn worked well with the wool she used for the stranded sections. i love the millet shade, which is slightly butter colored, with the grays. so creative and the lighter fabric makes the dress much more wearable year-round.

i confess that i don’t always remember to bring out the camera when i run into friends, but i did remember to get a selfie with eric lutz who is lots of fun and has a great podcast on youTube that you should check out.

our own retail events were hectic and fun—so much so that i did not get photos at either (i know, bad ME!). in my defense, my phone serves as our internet connection during these events so it’s not really handy to unhook it to take pictures.

so after a truly busy weekend filled with people and yarn fumes, we all headed out on monday morning in different directions. ellen drove to ohio with the yarn truck and i drove kim to albany to catch her plane, then landed myself at my mom’s for a few days.

i’ve been helping her with some fall cleaning chores and reorganizing; we’ve made real progress in her kitchen where she spends a lot of time. there were too many items out of her reach and too many unnecessary items in her way, so we weeded out her cabinets and placed everything in reach with more space around them; it’s much more workable now. we also got her holiday lights up and now she just has to plug them in to turn them on when the time is right.

meanwhile, i had an assignment from friends at home to complete—securing my mom’s christmas cookie recipes in order to share them. luckily, while i was cleaning out cabinets, i came across a whole folder in which she keeps them separated and a treasure trove it was.

i spent several hours the other night, scanning the ones she’s made the most often over the years—which is still over ninety recipes with a  few cakes and breads thrown in. of course she didn’t ever make that many all in one year, but tried new ones and got rid of old ones after a while—sometimes bringing those ones back when enough time passed—adding to her portfolio for over sixty years.  it’ll be fun to organize them into one place and give a copy to each of my siblings and friends. i have to decide on the best way to go about it, so i’m not sure that will happen for THIS christmas, but if not, maybe next.

there hasn’t been a ton of knitting time, but i’ve snuck in a few hours over the last few days on secret projects, as well as this tiny start to a new gift project. you won’t see much of this one, but fingers crossed it’ll be done for christmas. i have just a few other gifts on my knitting list—all small stuff that i think i can get done for the most special people in my life—stay tuned.

tomorrow i head home to my little family and i can’t WAIT to see david and cardigan. i snapped this impromptu photo just a day or two before i left home while she napped near the foot of my desk; isn’t she pretty here? i know david has been taking good care of our girl and bonding nicely in my absence. he’s been posting great photos of their walks on our photo stream so i can stay in touch.

i’ll be thinking of them all the way home and that will make the time fly by i hope! i’m sure i’ll have a bunch of new little stories to share before long; the cuteness never ends when you live with a furry little friend. see you in a few days . . .