get a little lost

anne wrote this just before lunchtime:

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i know you come here for the knitting first and foremost, so i’ll start off today with some yarny chat. i haven’t meant to be  tease, keeping you in suspense about the new yarn we are testing out—just wanted to see if you could guess.

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a couple of you did well, in fact—sharon came the closest, guessing a blend of cotton, alpaca, and merino for this deliciously next-to-the-skin soft fabric.

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the actual content of our sample skein is 50 alpaca/25 cotton/20 merino/5 nylon.

i know you can’t feel it, but if you could, you would never have guessed such a high content of the wooly fiber (again, dehairing that alpaca provides the magic touch). i would sleep in this, it’s so soft . . . and i would hesitate an instant putting it next to the tenderest baby skin.

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despite such a high percentage of alpaca, you would not believe how cool and cottony it feels and how springy and stretchy a fabric it makes. i am itching to cast on a sweater in it, maybe even a little sprössling for myself. i keep saying i’m going to knit another for summer, but up til now, haven’t quite found the yarn i’m dreaming of. i think this might be it—it certainly has the stretchy yumminess i’ve been seeking.

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its ability for recovery is phenomenal; i find myself pulling on it it over and over, just to check it again.

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yup; it’s still there. it’s a sport weight but the gauge is very close and i’m between two sizes for this sweater, so if i knit the smaller size it should work out perfectly. soon after i get home we will receive some skeins for garment testing and i can cast on.

sigh. sorry for running on; yarn adventures just get my blood racing! we have ordered some batches for retail release with next month’s shipment from the mill; we believe we’ll have that in around the third week of july.

speaking of which, are you ready for another surprise?

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we have a second new yarn on our summer menu—this one is just what you’ll want to knit (and wear) when those intolerably sticky days arrive.

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the fiber blend produces a stable fabric with a bit of irregular quirkiness to the texture—one of my favorite things about it, because i can knit a very simple fabric that is fascinating.

it can be knit sheer as voile or a little more firmly and it’s soft as a breeze, right off the needles.

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we received two sample skeins in the laceweight (one washed and one unwashed) and i couldn’t resist casting on immediately for a simple shell top with the unwashed skein (swatches above have been washed).

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the fabric is just out of this world light and airy—with ethereal luminosity. it’s worth knitting just to be able to stare at the fabric, i mean it.

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i love how the blend produces these cloud-like areas of subtle, shifting shades (we can manipulate this to a certain degree be varying shades of one contributing fiber).

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it would be gorgeous in lace of course—frillibet, squallempreinte, twig and leaf (or twinings), campanula, hamsaalhambra—the list goes on and on.

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this piece, along with the hat, has been my mindless knitting while i’m away; they also serve as decoy knitting to distract prying eyes from my secret projects.

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and they are doing a good job! can you guess what the blend is? the person to guess the closest by friday—including percentages—gets a free pattern for hamsa, one of my favorites (i should knit another of those . . .).

i can’t wait to get this top done and it won’t be long; it’s knitting up fast. it’s very simple—sleeveless (or tipped a tiny bit over the shoulder to make mine look wider, haha) with a loose fit and some very slight shaping to guide the drape. possible short rows at the back hem for some extra length and shape.

i’m planning a v-neck but i have still to finalize the neck finish.

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i started with an idea of a scarfy sort of finish that gave it a vintage sailor look (ish). but now i’m thinking about keeping it simpler, along the lines of the mister’s pullover, though a little softer and more feminine.

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(sorry, i didn’t draw that very well, but the neck is scrunched slightly into a crossed button closure so that it riffles just a little at the edge, much neater than it appears here, haha).

this option will allow me to repeat the garter stitch pattern at the top. still deciding, but i have a little time . . .

often i mull over these questions—and a lot of my design work or business challenges—while i run. it’s a good use of my time for one thing, but the rhythm really helps me organize my thoughts and inspires many a light bulb to go off. just about anything will suddenly make me see how to solve a problem.

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we had some hot days over the weekend, so i decided to end my longish friday run with some walking and headed for a shadier path parallel to the park road.

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when it veered away into the woods, i went along, thinking it was just a little detour. soon enough i realized it led into a larger part of the park i had never explored and seemingly not as well travelled by others either. hmm.

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it didn’t feel creepy or anything—just a little less used. but i kept going and soon found some old buildings that intrigued me.

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then i saw signs for the “children’s corner” and i really had to check that out, because to me it was feeling less sesame street and much more grimm’s fairytales—which would be a refreshing take on a children’s environment of today.

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around a bend things opened up not the lefferts historic compound, comprised of the old lefferts home, garden, and house yard (another thing i love about wandering new york is discovering the roots for some of the avenue and neighborhood names, in this case lefferts blvd, the end of the subway line).

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you can wander around, play with the various tools, and visit exhibits describing life at the dutch-style farm in the 1800s, in flatbush village.

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among other things in the yard, i discovered a bed of flax (linen) just beginning to bloom—a little bit of joyful green in the middle of the woods planted by the kids in the spring as i understand it. i’m going to miss it, but this weekend they are holding a flax event, where you and your family can learn about this fiber plant and try some processing tools for turning the fiber into yarn and fabric. (there was also a flax harvest scheduled for the last weekend in june, but the plants won’t be ready so it has been cancelled).

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a thatched structure in the yard captured my curiosity and i’m trying to find out more about it, but i can’t seem to put my finger on it just yet. it looks like it could have been a sheepfold or a place to keep wood dry.

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further on the path took me to the zoo entrance; i can’t believe i never knew any of this was here and such beautiful old buildings, too.

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of course i didn’t live near prospect park during my years in brooklyn; david and i would ride to park to cycle laps on week night when the weather permitted, but go offroad much. if i had lived nearby, i might have explored more inside.

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near the zoo another building was just opening up—the carousel! well i had to get a closer look . .

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and so glad i did; it’s magnificent, with all manner of individually crafted creatures you can ride.

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the ceiling is a fantastic swirl of lights as well

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with a frieze of painted depictions of brooklyn past, many of them telling of its history, seafaring and pastoral scenes alike.

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the shadowy depths of its center column are brightened figures of mermaids and seascapes; i love it.

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and just as i was turning to go, a class of children arrived, probably as and end of school treat.

i thought i’d be back to the park entrance after walking through this area but it turned out i had not progressed far at all along the roadway. that put me in an area i had often noticed from the road while running—at the bottom of a meadow, a series of primitive, sculptural forms had been erected that i wondered about.

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well, there’s no time like the present so off i went to investigate. i had noticed there were often children and parents over here, climbing on the structures and playing in the dirt.

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another example of recycling precipitated by hurricane sandy. children can play all over the blocky pieces to their hearts content, tiring themselves toward a good afternoon sleep.

it’s a real contrast to the older building thought the park and yet speaks back to some of the items in the lefferts compound that made use of felled trees and grasses as well.

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a great environment for the imagination, whether you are a toddler or a gray haired runner, haha.

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time to head home—i took the nearest path up and up, hoping to finally be led to the place where i came in.

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while the paths are not as well kept here yet, they do allow for some undisturbed growth on the old wood alongside. and there are no stars so getting a stroller down to the natural exploration isn’t difficult.

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to a lot of people, these parts of a city park might look dangerous to be exploring alone, but honestly, it’s just not. the new york parks are much safer than ever depicted on TV and i can’t think of once that i felt even a little threatened while walking in one (though i don’t treat this privilege recklessly by going there alone late at night or anything).

i always feel bad that this reputation lingers around city environments; cities are so rich with simple offerings such as walks in the park or through unfamiliar neighborhoods . . .

ok, i know this post has gotten long, but i just wanted to share that even though i’m by myself for a week, i have been cooking and not relying on eating out.

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last thursday after my botanic garden excursion, i made a delicious soup—moraccan spiced chick pea and tomato. i’d had some from a neighborhood take out that was yummy and wanted to replicate it if possible. i figure if i made a pot, i could eat from it several times this week.

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i used this recipe mainly, but incorporated components from this one as well PLUS i added a few waxy yukon gold potatoes to more closely imitate the one i had eaten.

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herbs from nancy’s terrace garden to finish it off and then i let it sit overnight to allow the flavors to meld. it’s a completely vegan dish, in case you were wondering—just veggies and herbs.

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omg, it is SO good. it is so good, that it’s delicious cold as well, which i discovered when the temperatures soared into he 90s over the weekend. you know how that is—salad is fine for a couple of nights (my own go-to hot weather food), but eventually you want something more substantial, though you can’t even bear to think about heating up the stove.

a dish like this is one answer; you can make it early in the morning and have it any time you want. super yummy and it makes plenty; i’m leaving a couple of containers in nancy’s freezer to share the love, haha (i hope i haven’t oversold it).

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i also made a nice stir fry one night; i didn’t even cook rice for it, just ate the veggies and tofu. mmm, too bad david isn’t here . . . he would love this.

(i did ask him to come, but he wanted to stay home  . . . oh well).

ok, i’ve had your ear long enough (sorry!); time for me to get out for a run and then back to work. i’ll fill you in the last of my trip next time (hopefully one more before i go home).

in out of the rain

anne wrote this just before lunchtime:

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and out again. for tuesday there were predictions of thunderstorms and rain all day, so i took a rest from running and worked instead. when no bad weather had materialized and it looked like the sun was out for good, i headed out for a late afternoon exploratory walk.

naturally it poured.
maybe i was ten or fifteen minutes away—just far enough not to see a familiar haven—and the skies opened up. luckily i was up on eastern parkway, where there are walking lanes with deep tree cover; i was able to stay mostly dry as i scampered back toward home.

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i was almost there when the storm passed and the sky began to brighten. i found myself at the gate of the brooklyn botanic garden and noticed that the ticket windows were closed—it was the free day. so i turned in, determined to make something of my walk after all.

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the botanic garden runs alongside and then far behind the brooklyn museum, kind of wrapping it with a luxurious swathes of woods, gardens, and quiet space, much the way central park surrounds the metropolitan museum in manhattan.

in fact, without saying that “brooklyn has everything that manhattan has”, well, it kinda does—and MORE. i mean that in the very best way; brooklyn has standout cultural centers, parks, museums, and libraries, as well as neighborhoods of incomparable variety—but in its own vitally unique and separate way. to make use of another possibly tired phrase about brooklyn—it’s for the people.

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all the while manhattan is doing its thing, brooklyn is across the river doing its thing; only brighter, more inclusive, and very creatively. for instance, as soon as i pass through the osborne garden—the most formal space on the property—i get much more a feeling that the whole garden environment is mine to explore as close and deep as i want.

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i walked through a gate into the woods and suddenly, i was in the thick of it—paths so narrow in some places that two people can’t pass. the density of the woods is like something you’d experience near a lake upstate and the quiet . . . totally refreshing.

back out on the main walkway again, the sun was out in full, the day was suddenly bright and sparkling with a  rain wash. i stroll by flower beds and a water garden and notice that a lot of people are heading to the rose garden. then i remember that it’s june and you know what blooms in june . . .

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oh boy, it was like fireworks in the daytime; i don’t think i’ve ever seen so many roses (and no wonder my allergies have been kicking up all week, haha).

the pictures don’t at all do it justice, but let’s just say that more IS more in this case. it’s almost too much of a good thing . . . i wonder how many jillion roses there are in there?

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this was my favorite spot in the rose garden—just crazy wild color and form.

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by contrast, the cherry esplanade around the corner is the essence of order and calm; just the perfect counterpoint and a sight for sore eyes. long allays to walk between the trees with benches each side. i was surprised to see how many visitors had stretched out to doze on a bench, succumbing to the heady mix of sun, steamy air, and pollen overload. i thought it was really cool that they felt so comfortable sleeping in a public garden.

next i walked for a while without taking any detours from the path, although there were plentiful opportunities to get into the rock garden, the japanese garden, and multiple wooded areas (see gardens within the garden).

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suddenly my eye was captured by this handsome piece and the first thought that flashed into my mind was, wow—they have a louise nevelson that they can keep outside? well of course it wasn’t; who the heck would keep one of those outside??

but can you guess what it is?

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i just love it! maybe one day when david finishes the house, he’ll make one for our yard. this would actually be a great thing to have in our community garden . . .

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and just a little further on, my favorite part of the garden began—the herb garden and food-bearing plant display. this is a small demonstration space that has just about everything from scallions to sweet corn. it’s bigger than our garden at home, but similar—a little bit of space devoted to almost everything we like to eat.

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further on, i came to the much bigger children’s garden, where kids from ages 2 to 17 can plant their own crops and care for them through harvest under the guidance of garden instructors.

BBG also offers a gardening apprenticeship for teens that requires an application, interview, and acceptance process, where young adults can learn urban gardening.

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at the very back of the property is a discovery garden, with exploratory stations and plants sized for tiny tots, with easy access for strollers.

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in order to turn myself back toward where is entered the grounds, i took a loop through the woods and came upon this fascinating structure. clearly the two are related, but how?

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like many areas hit hard by hurricane sandy a few years ago, brooklyn was left with detritus to clean up.

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moving the remains of huge trees is both dangerous and expensive in a city environment, so throughout NYC and its boroughs, creative solutions were employed to deal with the fallout. and with so many artists at hand, some really good results came out of that effort.

i took a little tour while i was there to admire the inside as well as the outside—so cool.

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the walk back to the entrance took me past the big glass house and conservatory that runs along the washington avenue side of the property. not as big as the one at the NY botanic garden, but more intimate and easier to digest as a whole structure with the eyes.

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the courtyard in front is also gorgeous, distinguished by its central fountain and long lily ponds; another quiet haven in which to grab a bench for reading, eating lunch, or having a quiet conversation.

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the courtyard leads to the administration and library building. i didn’t go in but one day, i’d like to.

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out front of that is the magnolia plaza, graced at the center with a sun dial/mandala/compass of inlaid stone. it is stunningly beautiful.

ok, i was on overload at this point and just relaying it all is making my head spin again. i’m realizing that botanic gardens are for me, like museums—doing a whole one in a day is a lot to digest. better to take them bit by bit.

i suppose this is my own fault—during all the years i had access to these world-class resources, i trained myself to make short, frequent visits of more intense looking. one of the things i loved about living in the city was the ability to do just that.

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back out on the street i saw my first full hydrangea blooms of the year in a tiny brownstone garden—gorgeous.

on a quest to secure some ice cream (the day had grown awfully warm), i also saw an old favorite of mine and david’s

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we used to stop after long bike rides to take home big slices of their amazing chocolate mousse cake—divine. boy those were the days, when i could downing of those without a second thought, heh.

speaking of the street, i need to get out and grab a few apples form the farmer’s market so i’m going to stop now; will be back in a couple of days with some knitting and more . . .

ps: will tell about the new yarn blend on tuesday. so far, only one person has come close.

Show Me The Green!

laura wrote this in the early afternoon:

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Happy Summer, guys!  It’s just beautiful out there!  The sun is shining, the sky is clear, the grass is green.  I think the only thing that would make this day better would be if I was sitting pool-side as I write this post.  Oh, and if the pool boy/cabana boy was super cute with six-pack abs, perfect tan, great smile, nice package… … …  nice package…  …

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Oh, right – and a Caipirinha within arms reach.

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Yes, please.  Could someone make that happen?!  Thx!

See, Green means different things to everyone.  And maybe depending on your mood, your view of green changes.  I suppose right now, I’m in this tropical, beachy, free-spirited, zest-for-life type of mood.

Earlier this week I asked a few of the girls at the office, including Anne – what IS IT about Green?  What brings about the feelings and memories associated with this particular color?

Erica:

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Lauren:

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Me:  I thought of Pesto initially.  Then I started thinking of World of Warcraft Scenery.  You think I’m kidding.  I’m serious.  Serious as a goose.  <That’s serious.  Ask me if I was Horde or Alliance.  (No, better yet, ask me which side I preferred.)

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And as silly as it is, (to reference a horribly addicting computer game) it doesn’t seem far from where Anne’s mind is in terms of the color itself.  I don’t want to steal any of her thunder.  This club is one that she’s been looking forward to forever it seems.  So, without further ado – let me show you what she was able to show me:

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This week Anne had the opportunity to get-a-way!  She’s at her friend’s house in NYC.  She’s hiding away.  She’s in creative-mode.  And it all sounds most exciting and intriguing doesn’t it?  As I type, she’s creating the designs that will be offered to you guys within just a few short weeks, once the Envy Club begins to ship out!

The picture above was taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  Anne mentioned that she got caught in a rainstorm, which happens to be the whole theme of the trip.  But, in my opinion – it makes the trip all that more enchanting,  especially just knowing this when viewing the photo that she sent.

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“i don’t really know why i like green so much; i just always have. i can’t remember a time when it wasn’t my favorite color.”

Anne jokes that it used to look really good on her before her hair went gray and then turned to white.”   The girls at the office unanimously agreed that Anne can still and will always be able to pull off any shade of green.

“it’s david’s favorite color too, so we never argue about what we like in furnishings, haha!”

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Anne says that green is “the color of light, earth, and origins.”  It symbolizes life, freshness, and growth.  I won’t deny that.  My mind plays with that.  Rebirth.  New beginnings.  Awakening.  Creating.  Challenging.  Depth.  Strength.  Hunger.  Ambition.

Enchantment. Mysticism. Sorcery?  Magic, definitely.  It’s inviting.  Captivating.  It lures you in.  You can’t help but stare.  It’s sexy.  It’s haunting.  It’s undeniably alluring.  “Come in…”

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It’s the Garden of Eden.  It’s the Kiss of Death.

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I’m excited because there are a few things I can share with you guys that we haven’t been able to disclose before…

You ready?  Lean in close, I’ll whisper it in your ear …

Oh, you know I can’t do that.  Haha!  I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone.  Anne’s got some great stories lined up.  Some surprising takes on shapes and sizes.  We’re working with fabulous dyers to bring you some of the coolest greens you’ve ever laid your eyes on.  This club is friendly for every knitter out there.  There’s nothing too advanced and there isn’t anything that’s so beginner you’re going to feel bored.  We’ve got you covered on all fronts.  And did I mention, the colors are exquisite!!!???  

The club sign-ups will OFFICIALLY close on JULY 1st.  There’s only one thing left to do…

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Happy Knitting!

L

the friendly skies

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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it took several days after TNNA to sort out and process all the many conversations and developments of the weekend. i had just barely begun organizing all that information when i realized it was time to repack my suitcase and get out the door to my next destination.

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i had hoped to be a bit relaxed to start this trip but with a lot of knitting projects to organize, i was as usual, packing my actual clothing at the last minute and late into the night. and for the first time ever, i overslept a little in the morning and was almost late getting to the airport. it was actually a relief to get on the plane and up above the heavy clouds where the sun shone.

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during the flight, i worked some on the little hat project i started last week. this luscious yarn is a sample of a new fiber blend for summer that we are crazy about.

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this little fartlek cap for baby eli will be the perfect test knit. the yarn is soft, soft, soft and since he’s still quite bald, that will be a plus. do you want to guess what the yarn is made of? first person to be 90 percent correct gets a free fartlek pattern (hint: it’s a blend).

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by total accident, during the descent i happened to get a shot at almost the exact same angle as i had during takeoff. can you guess where i am?

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obviously someplace more populated that canton, OH.

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can you guess now? i bet some of you will . . . that’s right, i’m back in brooklyn. two months ago when i was here, i got SO MUCH accomplished that our staff encouraged me to do it again (or maybe they just like it better when i’m not underfoot, haha).

whatever the reason, i had the opportunity, thanks to my sweet, dear friend nancy, to come back on another self-imposed work retreat. i arrived friday to spend some time with nancy before she took off on her travels.

we both worked on friday and on then on saturday, i got up early and knit a bit on my sweater sleeve, while having coffee.

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it’s coming along nicely at a relaxed pace; i’ve been juggling several knitting projects and lots of design work, so i’m not pushing myself too hard on this one yet. i’m sure i’ll pick up speed when i can devote myself to it fully, but in the meantime, i’m adding to it here and there.

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the fabric is such a close replica to my original that it’s almost scary; the only difference really is the shade. i can’t wait to wash the fabric; the surface will be wonderfully softened after a hot bath.

anyway, once i was fully awake and the day had warmed slightly, i went for a run which ended with a trip through the farmers market in grand army plaza. the day was overcast and drizzly, but not rainy enough to stay in. i picked out stuff for salads and a big bag of apples (which are fantastic, wow).

oh, i just realized that i need to back up a bit—i’m forgetting all about why you haven’t seen much knitting from me for a week or so. i had a secret project on the needles that i didn’t want to show you til i got to NYC

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a few weeks ago nancy posted a photo of her recently completed wing o’ the moth shawl, knit in a teal lace yarn for her granddaughter.

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she was working on this project during my last visit and mentioned how much she loved the color and then when it was done, she jokingly said that she didn’t want to give it up.

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well, it is such a pretty shawl and dear to me because it was the first pattern i published on my blog, back in 2006.

so, i decided what the heck? i’ll knit her one as a thank you for having me stay at her place this week. but can you believe that the ONE color of lace yarn i didn’t have is teal??  . . . seriously.

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i wrote my friend jen at spirit trail fiberworks, because i thought her amazing nona lace yarn would be perfectly elegant for this gift knit. and i was right—just look at that soft, rich sheen; it totally makes the piece!

and even though she had JUST gotten back from maryland sheep and wool and had not unpacked her trailer, she found the perfect pair of skeins for me to knit the shawl in the mallard colorway.

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because nona is silky and on the heavier side of lace weight, rather than fingering weight as the pattern calls for, i used needles one size smaller than recommended. that worked out perfectly—the texture is richly embossed though the fabric is light and drapey—the soft lustre of the yarn highlights every line and curve; it’s an exquisite choice for this project!

doesn’t that motif work out so pretty at the point? i love that bit . . .

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but i love nancy’s smile even better.

the shawl still blocked out to its intended generous size. most likely that is because the lighter, silkier fiber stretches more.

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nancy wore it all weekend and took it along to spain as well—what an honor!

those first few days of my stay were a bit overcast and chilly, so it felt fine to stay in most of the time and get some work done. i have some specific projects i’d like to complete—most of them secret ENVY club designs, but also a few new items that i can fill you in on as the week progresses. i have a few people to meet with while i’m here as well.

and because it isn’t good to work the entire weekend, that afternoon we took a walk to the brooklyn museum to see the basquiat show together. the weather slowly, slowly improved and when we came out into the late afternoon, the sun had warmed a little and the sky was blue.

sunday was comparatively balmy, in fact and after my run i immersed myself in some design work for a few hours. after a bit i took a break out on the balcony to investigate an issue with nancy’s pine and ivy shawl, which she is knitting in our cabécou lace yarn (sel gris shade); a gift i brought her on my last trip.

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unfortunately, the problem was systemic, so i had to rip back a bunch. we laughed at how closely the pile of ripped yarn resembles a goat. but it’s spectacular in the light, isn’t it?

the trick to ripping back lace is to not do it right away—wait a period of time (like overnight or longer) and the stitches will take a set; they won’t run away from you in a slithery mess when you rip. better yet, mist them lightly with water and let the fabric dry well; they will hold their shape really well.

the whole operation took about an hour—a few minutes to rip and then a bit of time getting the 400-plus tiny stitches back on the needles, then counting to make sure they were all there, and then making sure each was wasn’t twisted. now she is all set to start the section over.

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later that afternoon we were off to the city—nancy wanted to show me the new whitney museum in the meat packing district, which just opened a few weeks ago.

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situated at the end of the high line, the museum offers staggering city views from outdoor spaces on every one of its six levels. swank hotels and shops are popping up throughout the immediate neighborhood for better or for worse (hopefully mostly for better and it won’t become another shopping mall).

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the views from every floor put up pretty strong competition with the museum’s contents, especially on a stellar day such as this one—so welcome after the dark, chilly days preceding.

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some of the site lines and angles parallel works in the collection so strongly, it makes me think the building was constructed for that purpose alone. and why not? would it really be so farfetched?

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i know a couple of fans who would love such an inspiration for a building.

i adore going to museums and galleries with fellow appreciators; i SO enjoyed this weekend with nancy.

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we couldn’t have asked for a better day—between the balmy weather and incredible paintings, photography, and sculpture you wouldn’t think we could ask for more.

but wait, there IS more!

there’s cathy—and donna (we didn’t manage to get a photo of her, darn it)

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but the feeling is the same—good friends make for great happiness.

alright now, that’s enough of me running on—time to knit. i’ll be back in a few days with an update on what’s percolating here.