summer bounty

anne wrote this in the early afternoon:

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i’ve shared a lot about the wealth of our garden in the past few weeks, but now that school is back is session, i realize i am missing one of summer’s additional riches—the happy noises of children playing outside on those long sunny days of summer.

we are lucky to live in a home that doesn’t have air conditioning; we have to throw our windows open wide to capture the breeze (if any) when it gets hot, but because of that we can enjoy the music of kids having fun.

just before they went back to school this past week, our neighborhood held its annual block party, which is where i snapped this great photo of two brothers showing off a colorful stack of prizes. i really admire their forethought in concentrating all of their winnings on one particular item for maximum effect—more IS more, after all. i believe we could be looking at a renowned design duo of the future!

what i love even more??

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that upon seeing some friends who arrived late, they immediately shared some of their own winnings to help them get started on the fun. adorable, no?

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in fact, the day was filled with smiles—i work the welcome booth where everyone checks in to receive tickets for games door prizes, so i get to see everyone.

good thing it was all so much fun, because later on, back at the ranch, it was all work and no play for yours truly—there was plenty of garden produce to get squared away.

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we are not getting loads of any one thing on a daily basis except green beans; they just keep coming, haha. that said, there is still plenty to take care of by the time saturday and sunday roll around because most days, i just throw it all in the fridge to deal with later.

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yep, that’s right—we are digging up a few new potatoes when we want those to eat; the fingerlings are ready and boy oh boy, are they deLISH.

and so good eaten with green beans (we are finding out that many foods go well with green beans, now that we are consuming them daily).

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i send them home with friends as well and when i gifted a pound to mark and bil, mark texted me a photo of a yummy ligurian pasta dish—trofie— made with green beans, potatoes, and pesto.

while that sounded like the ultimate comfort dish for a cold winter evening, for summer i thought it would be less heavy as a salad or side dish with just potatoes and green beans and no pasta (and i’m not the first; there are many recipes out there for such a salad).

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so i tried that and it was good.

and of course there was one chilly evening when a pan of roasted potatoes was in order, i so i did that too and threw in those baby carrots i blogged about a couple weeks back.

which we ate with green beans cooked in tomato sauce—O.M.G., so good

that second basket of tomatoes, eggplant, squash, peppers and onions? i made into david’s favorite stew—ratatouille

YUM! especially with fresh-picked vegetables; you just can’t go wrong. meanwhile, i’ve been putting up green beans in the freezer—about a half dozen bags each week. i probably have all i need in there right now, but what else am i going to do with them all? i figure i can always share the frozen ones in the depth of winter when we are all just starving for fresh garden flavor.

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and here’s a good one—we had a full day of rain last week that dumped torrents of rain on our parched garden. a few days later i was out picking beans and what did i see on the pea vines that i thought were “over”?? a fresh crop of peas!

i didn’t even know pea vines could continue producing after their one crop was in. we ate those last night with some salmon, yum, yum.

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now i know you are dying to see what i made with all those peaches i showed you last week. but first i must say that these peaches are some of the best i’ve EVER eaten. and such good keepers; after putting up fifteen bags in the freezer, i still had about two dozen left over, which we’ve been keeping on the counter and not one of them has gotten spotty or rotten.

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on monday, i cut up eight or ten of them, mixed with sugar and spices, and put them into a pie shell i was keeping in the freezer.

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i figured out a solution i like for a gluten free streusel topping that is not too crunchy, yay.

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the results were wonderful. i shared them with my monday knitting class and we groaned over how delicious those peaches are, mmm-mm. the pie crust was not my favorite gluten free option so far—the flavor is good, but pieces of the rim kept falling off as it baked. i think that dough is just too tender.

because i still had peaches and because my weekend baking is usually gone by the time the wednesday class meets, i thought i’d bake a second treat on wednesday

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from the america’s test kitchen gluten free cookbook, cobbler made with a cornmeal biscuit topping. it was a huge hit with everyone; erica and emily especially liked it. it was delicious . . .

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it’s really got more of a shortcake character because biscuits are dense. i still prefer a softer cobbler cake, more like the one from my traditional recipe. i’m going to keep working on it.

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i love making and tasting all those baked goods, but i think my favorite way of eating summer fruit is raw—so refreshing. this has been my breakfast nearly every day this week.

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i have a pile of finished knits that need blocking as well as several projects on the needles.

i’ve got two finished bocce caps knit with sport weight yarn—one in brown organic cotton and one in the special mauve fifo. the bocce cap pattern will be released in about a week or so; we have a new blanket pattern to be released first (check back monday for that!)

i have a third bocce on the needles now in our kent DK yarn, which knits to the correct gauge. sarah picked out the driftwood shade for me to work with this time.

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i just barely started it, and had to set it aside while i got other items caught up but it will be great for knitting on here and there, since it’s so portable. lately, i get a lot done by keeping such a project in the kitchen where i can pick it up to knit a round or two while a pot boils or when i need to take a load off.

that’s what i did with my empreinte shawlette—i’ve been working away at it pretty diligently, here and there, making a big difference in my progress.

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and now it’s sitting in the finished pile, waiting to be stretched and blocked (hopefully tomorrow)

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speaking of finished items, sarah showed up for work last week wearing her billow cloud cowl, knit in the worsted weight organic cotton, in the cool, refreshing sage color. she’s got it paired with her deep green wheaten cap, knit in the sport weight of the same cotton. she’s so proud of it and rightly so—it’s beautifully knit. you can see more of this project and other cotton favorites in our cotton KAL on ravelry—come join us!

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speaking of the wheaten cap, sarah’s mom, anne C. whipped up a sample for us (thank you anne!) in one of our new shades of stone soup fingering yarnriver rock. is it not stunning? wow, i thought i loved all the shades equally, but this one is something else . . . you’ll be seeing lots more of it as we get better photos (we know they they don’t do it justice and we’re working on that).

and finally, what girl doesn’t need one of these??

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i came downstairs last sunday morning to be greeted by our new sign, which david framed out to match the fencing on our property. i had to giggle that it was placed to point into the open washroom door.

he put it in the ground that day and now we have signage that is very visible on 15th street. yay.

i’m working on a bunch of secret projects as well as swatches and designs for classroom projects we’ll be tackling at our rhinebeck after party retreat and at yarn in the barn in michigan.

oh wow, look at the time; i haven’t even been to the office today and i need to see emily and erica before they go—time for me to boogie. i’m hoping to get some blocking done tonight or tomorrow so you can see how pretty that lace blocks out in the cotton. and i know i’ll be doing some bike riding with david this evening, too.

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hope you’ve got some fun things planned as well—summer won’t last forever; have a wonderful sunday!

The Secret to Sweater Success

majordomo wrote this mid-afternoon:

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I absolutely love sweaters. I’ve made several over the years and every single one was not quite right. A little too big here, a bit small there, or the fabric was too stiff or too drapey. They looked very similar to the pattern, but they weren’t perfect even though I was on gauge and followed the directions. I didn’t quite understand the reasons why all of these were wrong until…I took Anne’s Sweater Fitness class.

It was a few years ago, when we both happened to be in Dallas for business. Being a fan girl, I flew in early knowing Anne was teaching at a yarn shop in the area. I heard from other ravelers that this class would change your knitting life.

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Well, they were right. Anne’s class isn’t about creating the perfect sweater pattern for yourself. It’s not about reinventing the wheel. It’s taking all the popular patterns in your queue, understanding how the pattern is written, understanding your own body type and measurements and making the patterns work for you. You work with Knitspot sweater patterns in class (of course, because Anne knows them backwards and forwards)

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but with the knowledge you learn, you can take all those tidbits and apply them to any pattern. Brilliant, huh?

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And why is this class unlike any sweater class you’ve ever taken? It’s both lecture and workshop. There is individual time with Anne discussing your measurements, the pattern you love, sleeve caps, how you will never again have too short or too long sleeves, etc. You leave the class with TONS of notes on the schematics, ready to cast on in your hotel room. Trust me, I know.

Anne has a lot of life experiences that she brings into this class and her design work. She used to work in the fashion industry and custom design garments – for men and women – and she’s a lifelong knitter.

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When both of those collide, you have an amazing perspective and skill set on how knit garments should fit. And the entire time she’s teaching, she interjects little stories about how her designs came to be. And she also explains why the majority of her sweaters are knit in pieces and then seamed.

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She absolutely loves finishing, and just like a seamstress, you work with individual pieces that you can customize to get the perfect fit.

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Makes sense, doesn’t it?

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I have applied so much of what I’ve learned from Anne into my knitting. After each class I take from Anne, I feel like I have a little more in my toolbox. I’ve now taken Sweater Fitness twice (and even sat in on a few here and there while I’m working events for her) and I still learn new things. Anne has so much to offer the knitting community. I know that many knitters reading this post will feel the same way. Over and over, I read messages on ravlery or in my email about how customers have never knit a successful sweater until they took Anne’s class.

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In the words of Kat, regarding her Sprössling above, “thank you Anne for bringing me back to sweaters!!!!!” 

For all these reasons, you should make the trek to Kingston, New York in October for Rhinebeck After Party. Shop the Bare Naked Wools popup store, hang out with people that have a passion for knitting, and have your eyes opened by Anne Hanson’s Sweater Fitness class. There are currently openings in all of Anne’s Rhinebeck After Party workshops. Come explore color techniques with us, and jump head first into the Yarn Voyage II workshop.  Your mind will be blown. I’ve taken Yarn Voyage I a couple times, and that paired with Sweater Fitness will absolutely change your mind on how you plan projects and execute them. It makes the knitting process more enjoyable and the finished product…well, it’s phenomenal. And you knit it. It’s something you can admire and be proud of.

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Thanks to the guidance of Anne Hanson, my knitting is beautiful. She made me realize that I can take on projects without fear because I had the skills in my back pocket. I didn’t have this total realization until I tried, and lo and behold made lots of beautiful things. I’ve knit items that had amazing fabric, fit perfectly (yes, even the gifts!), and wore beautifully.

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I started a Whitfield Shorty when I was pregnant, planned to make it large so Padraig could grow into it, and never finished it. With how much his body changed, I realize it won’t fit. He’s no longer a thick, chubby baby. He’s a lean toddler (who will be TWO tomorrow!). Upon this realization, the old me would have abandoned that project forever. But Anne also taught me the necessity of ripping out a project that isn’t quite right.

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Heck, we all know even she does it sometimes. And when you pick that project back up with a fresh start, it’s no longer the dreaded sweater that might not fit. You put the trial and error into it and now it’s a happy experience. And it always goes faster the second time around because your brain and fingers remember the pattern.

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I’m off to unravel a wee sweater and I’m seriously looking forward to sitting in on Sweater Fitness in October. Every time, Anne gives a little more insight on her vast knowledge of knitwear and design. I’m hopeful I can get this wee sweater done so Padraig can wear it to the picnic at Rhinebeck.

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Last year was my first time attending the annual picnic and it was so fun meeting knitters from Anne’s ravelry groups. They felt like family all these years. I just never met them. Please join us this year, details here. We also have a SUPER FUN event the night before New York State Sheep and Wool starts.

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Indie Untangled is hosting a trunk show event with lots of fun vendors and Bare Naked Wools will be there! Stop on by. It’s just minutes from the Knitspot host hotel. Details here. Let the countdown begin!

Craftsy: Finishing Handknits

majordomo wrote this in the early morning:

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Are you holding onto your hats!? Anne has a new Craftsy class! Awhile back she flew to Denver with lots of large bags filled with notes and step outs.

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for a secret project with these guys

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and we got just a little bit of behind the scene fun

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and now all the details can be revealed—it’s a class on FINISHING!

As you know, finishing is one of Anne’s favorite subjects. She wants everyone else to enjoy it too and she feels that more knitters would get jazzed about finishing tasks if only they felt better equipped. SO many knitters feel they can’t do it well, but Anne doesn’t think it’s a matter of talent—it’s really about arming yourself well and a willingness to adventure into new territory.

Cuz let’s face it—who doesn’t feel good about learning new things?

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I love all of Anne’s previous classes—Grafting and Button Bands and Buttonholes—and this new class on Finishing is a MUST HAVE. I’m that knitter who pays/begs/barters for someone to sew a seam, insert a zipper, etc. Or, sadly, I leave a project 99% completed because I fear messing it up by finishing. Anne has always told me that I can handle it, I just need patience and a little trial and error. And I always say, “if only you were there when I was finishing.” Well, now she can be.

The Essential Guide to Finishing Handknits is a collection of beginning and intermediate finishing techniques which focuses on achieving that clean, polished look you crave for your completed knits. Lesson one and two cover the essentials you need for all finishing tasks, but after that, I can jump to any lesson I need.

One day, that might be to a few tips on blocking

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Or another, I might want to see my options for seaming.

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This is what Craftsy calls a reference class—basically a wide survey of finishing topics with as much helpfulness as they can cram into the time allotted!  This “kitchen sink” format works a bit like an encyclopedia, touching on a wide number of areas and offering the best and most popular technique or two for each, then refers the viewer to other resources for more in-depth coverage (such as other Craftsy classes on specific finishing topics, like Anne’s Button Bands and Buttonholes class or her Grafting tutorial).

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It has just the right amount of information on each subject without overwhelming you with a jungle of material. No longer do you need to fear new techniques—you can look them up ahead of time to see what’s involved and quell your fears about trying them for the first time!

Want to suss out whether you’re up to sewing in a hem or inserting a zipper in that sweater project you’re considering? It’s in there. And later, when you need step by step instructions for executing that—or just a quick tip or two—this class has you covered.

Anne can be right in my living room and I can watch it over and over until it clicks. I’m beyond excited! I’ll be able to execute a seam

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that looks like this when I’m finished.

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Watch out world! I may be able to finish a Highlander in Stone Soup DK!

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The Essential Guide to Finishing Handknits is available now here! I’m excited to hone some new skills and build some confidence! The winner for the FREE class in our giveaway has been notified by email. Congrats!

Fall Show Season is Here!

majordomo wrote this in the early morning:

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Bare Naked Wools was on the road again! This past weekend my friend Kim and I packed up the car and headed to Allegan, Michigan, to meet Susan and Emily to set up a popup store at Michigan Fiber Festival.

Susan packed up every yarn, including all the new stuff,

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and filled every square inch of a Uhaul!

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This was going to be a big show and we had to have lots of stock for natural yarn lovers!

While Susan drove, Emily worked on Squeeze Me (yes, she’s knitting now!)

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and her lovely driver even pulled over to fix a dropped stitch!

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We all made it to Allegan and set up the booth in SUPER CRAZY WIND! Thanks to helpful booth neighbors, and a few cinder blocks and bricks, we got the tent erected and secured so Kim and Susan could start laying out the displays.

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The next morning after a lovely sleep and meals at my parents’ house (HUGE thanks to them for hosting the booth staff!) it was time for customers.

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We helped lots of knitters build new projects! Cabled Keyhole Scarf was a popular new kit in Travertine

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and lots of knitters were running to the booth for the new Freefall and Floozy patterns for Chebris Lace. Kim helped a knitter build a Color Affection with Stone Soup Fingering

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plus we all built lots of Knitspot wraps, blankets, and sweater projects for shoppers.

We met many new knitters who fell in love with Bare Naked Wools for the first time, and also lots of familiar ravelers stopped by.

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kakayers realized she needed to purchase a new yarn card because we’ve added lots of colors and yarns since she bought her first one.

These ravelry friends (jukaheff, libelulaknitter, CrafTeaMama, my3greys) were very happy to pose for a group photo with their new goodies!

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And CrafTeaMama dropped off pecan brown sugar shortbread from her kitchen. The cookies did not last long! Yum!

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When I floated around on my break, I noticed lots of Knitspot samples in the Knitting Notions booth, and Briar Rose Fibers was promoting Yarn in the Barn.

Anne is teaching workshops (details here) at the event and BNWs will have a pop up store! To advertise the collaboration, Chris is showcasing Knitspot knits in BNWs and BRF.

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Highlander, Sheltie Triangle, and Hot Waffles get a totally new look with handdyed accents! When I saw all of these pieces I immediately thought a similar pairing would work for the Oatmeal Stout KAL in the BNWs ravelry group.

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You only need one Bare Naked Wools yarn in your project to participate in the KAL fun! Join us here.

The next October popup for Bare Naked Wools is Rhinebeck After Party. The event starts with shopping Sunday night and then three days exploring color in workshops with Anne. Last year, attendees had so much fun extending their whirlwind NYS Sheep and Wool Festival weekend at our after party. They loved meeting up with ravelry friends, sharing their fiber haul, shopping for new projects, learning new techniques and of course lots and lots of free knitting time. We pretty much take over the hotel lobby and it’s a fun knitting hangout all day and into the evening. Attendees love the free time built into the schedule to work on class projects or tour the local area with friends. There are openings left in all workshops and we have scored a great hotel rate (details here). We can’t wait to see you!

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