leapfrogging

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, lace/shawls

even though i haven’t blogged in forever, i have continued to compile photos and think of subjects to post about, so a LOT has piled up over the last couple of months! to be honest, i don’t really know where the time has gone—it’s just been flying by, what with introducing a new family member to our home life and a new co-worker to our knitspot team. so i’m going to leapfrog over most of what’s passed and focus on what’s happening now and going forward.

except . . . so many people have asked how cardigan is doing that i’m planning a whole post devoted to her for later this week. get your rescue doggie sweatshirts on; it’s going to be fun!

plus, i need to catch you up on our garden, because some of you have told me you missed that too—yet another separate post later this week (after cardigan, haha).

so let’s start with knitting and what’s been on and off my needles for the last couple of months; there has been a LOT of secret knitting that i can share now.

i never got to show off my club designs for the april shipment, but i really like them—between the yarn choice, the fun knitting, getting to write about shetland fiber, and the pretty results, it was one of those completely satisfying deliveries. in fact, i loved working on them so much that i knit all three samples myself (often, i ask for help with the club knitting but not this time).

working on the chapter was sort of like taking my dream research trip to the islands of northern scotland and now, after longingly following the real life shetland travels of friends and fellow designers these last few weeks (some day i will get to go myself!), i figure this is a good time to share photos to let you know that i’ve been working away, even if you couldn’t see it!  (just to clarify though, these patterns won’t in general circulation for a few months yet; you need to be in our BNK club to have access now.)

for this installment, we worked with 100% american shetland fingering yarn from elemental affects in california. we chose four undyed shades from an array of about eight to ten that are available from this producer.

jack tar has a more solid body pattern with a snappy, modern chevron hem. the scale of the chevrons and the arrangement of colors give it a more impact here, but that could be toned down by using a more subtle gradient palette.

eshaness (scarf/stole, above) and muirburn (triangle shawl, below) are knit with matching  openwork stitch patterns throughout, but i used a different arrangement of my colors in each. the rounder, undulating motifs really lend themselves to softly shifting colors, but again, that can be changed up for a different look.

the body pattern from jack tar can also be knit with the hem pattern from muirburn—the nice thing about subscribing to the club is that the eBook includes all the instructions, which makes adaptations more accessible. in each installment i try to point out ways to adapt patterns and encourage clubbies to try their hand at it; it makes for some fun shares in our ravelry clubhouse discussion threads.

i’ve also been working on finalizing the pattern for my birches cardigan, shown in some of the shawl photos above, knit up in stone soup DK color marblei know some enthusiasts out there would like to knit that jacket for rhinebeck.

i’m still working on my second sample in cabécou brillant sport, chugging away on it whenever i get a chance; i just love it in this light, frothy yarn!

and we just got a mill shipment last week with more of the popular amandine shade. PLUS, we are finally restocked in the poivre shade (not pictured, darn it), which we didn’t have for ages! the silvery medium gray is sure to be a hit, knowing how much you share my love for grays.

this is a pretty easy knit so there isn’t really a good reason why i’m not working faster, except that there is so much other knitting to do and i don’t have a firm deadline to keep me on course.

a series of unfortunate events put me a bit behind on my ensemble summer lace KAL projects; good thing my switchgrass skirt design knit up quickly in a very short time and according to plan in my favorite hemshaugh fingering yarn. it starts out with a very easy variation on a knit/purl rib.

and with plenty of time to get established in a rhythm, we throw in a few yarnovers to break up the solid fabric, then a few more, and so on, in a swirl of textured eyelets reminiscent of tall summer grasses.

the hem opens up in a mesh pattern with some increases that cause it to riffle just a bit as it moves—not enough to become an actual ruffle, but enough to suggest it. i really like the effect, personally.

as with many just-knit hemp fabrics, this one looks a bit sorry when it’s off the needles, but a good soak in a hot bath helps the stitches lengthen and smooth into shapes that conform beautifully, making the whole thing drape like a dream.

mine is knit in the kasha shade and barb knit hers in the buckwheat shade; i will add a photo later this evening—she’s wearing it to knit night and david will take some photos.

we sure do love a drawstring skirt like this for summer—easy to pull on and wear, whether to the beach or out to dinner. mine is paired on our model raina with the sleeveless violet top in hempshaugh lace, color millet.

in june, we explored suri alpaca using the suri decadence blend from still river mills. this luscious lace yarn could not have been more different in the hand and the contrast has been a great learning experience for all of us. i designed the crescent shawl above and the cowl below to take advantage of its soft, liquid drape and incredible halo.

these coffee-and-cream shades have golden highlights served up by a measure of muga silk that is enfolded into the suri.

now i bet you’re wondering when i’m going to mention those swatches at the top of the post, huh? well, i think the time has come . . . aren’t they intriguing? let me just say, i am SO in love with them.

i carry a few of them around in my project bag because they are so much fun to fondle, haha. they really are as tactile as they look . . . it’s stitch patterns like this that made me want to learn to knit as a toddler—i just love digging my fingers right in to explore every bit of their squidly shapes. that sounds somewhat naughty, yes, but there you go; i’m baring all, haha.

anyway . . .

what i’ve been knitting with this motif is what i hope will be an irresistible drop-shoulder summer tunic, loose and light with a riffle of shifty rib along the hem and a wide band of tighter rib securing the neck and sleeve. can you envision it?

if not, i’ll show you how it’s progressing. i finally got it on the needles a couple of weeks ago and once it was underway it has been knitting up seriously fast.

those cables have a lot of stitches so i was rather dreading the actual knitting, but was pleasantly surprised at how mesmerizing and rhythmic the pattern actually is.

while it looks complex, the stitches are pretty simple and those cables only cross every twenty-four rows; i made some good progress on a daily basis. if you enjoy knitting lace, you’ll probably like this one.

but best of all, there is almost no shaping involved; it’s two big rectangles of straight pattern with a wee bit of neck shaping near the top. normally, i don’t go for this type of sweater at all because it can overwhelm my frame, but in such a light fabric with lovely drape, i’m an enthusiast.

somewhere in there i took some time to knit yet another swatch in our deco lace yarn (right, above) just to see if it would work as i’d hoped. and yeesss, it does. in fact, i like it so much that i think i might knit a shortie version of this tunic in it—just long enough to graze the top of the hip in front and maybe a little longer in back? i think that would be so pretty with a maxi skirt or shorts (i still have plans to knit shorts with hempshaugh fingering at some point).

and all that air-conditiong built right in? it’s a no brainer for me and will be a key drama piece in my ever-expanding hempshaugh summer wardrobe (i told you, i am aiming for 100% at some point!).

now, i know this texture might look bulky in my progress shots, but trust me, it all smooths out beautifully after a wash. here, just take a look at this

i finished up the front yesterday and had to wash it to see what i’ve got (i get nervous about outcomes, too!). it’s perfect—smooth, consistent stitches and no bumps, but offering tons of depth, nevertheless. LOVE.

the neck is w-i-d-e, with a ribbed trim almost equal to the bottom hem. the shoulders drop and will have a deep ribbed hem as well, to create a “sleeve” that falls toward the elbow (not sure how long that will be, yet. i’m so in love; i can’t wait to get the back knit now.

cast on earlier today, so i’d be ready to roll for knit night tonight. two hours of knitting with friends—here i come!

switchgrass

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in projects

the second installment of our grand ensemble summer lace KAL is here—switchgrass skirt in deliciously cool hempshaugh fingering yarn. i chose the kasha colorway for my sample knit—it coordinates well with any color top from black to pale lavender. this project is the perfect next piece for your summer knitting because the stitches are easy to work, it has no seams (i.e., very little finishing), and makes for terrific travel knitting; you can take it on vacation and wear it home!

and when you’re done, you’ve got a go-anywhere staple for weekend travel or a full day of summer fun away from home. pull it on in the morning over a swimsuit when heading to the beach and tuck a cute top into your bag to pair later for lunch on the pier or dinner in a swank seaside nightspot. we’ve put it together with the sleeveless version of our violet cardigan, knit in hempshaugh lace, color millet, but it can be dressed up further with a slinky, strappy top and wrap. you may decide you’ll need two of them!

hempshaugh has quickly become my go-to summer yarn for a multitude of reasons—shall i fill you in?
first (and most importantly for the knitter) unlike many hemp yarns, this one is super soft and pleasant to knit with. you might see hemp and think “oof, ropy and rough“, but not so with this blend; it has a measure of smoothing, soothing silk and a dose of merino to add some bounce and lightness. secondly, it is soft, cool, and dry to wear, no matter how muggy the day becomes; it always has a wrinkle free, freshly-washed look. it packs and unpacks endlessly without crumpling, even if your “suitcase” is a large sling bag tossed over your shoulder. and third, it responds well to gentle machine washing, reshapes easily, and air dries in no time. it behaves like an up-to-the-minute tech fabric AND a soft vintage linen at the same time.

let’s talk design details: this breezy skirt in nine sizes from XS to 5X has a drawstring waistband and is knit from the top down in the round. the fabric is solid through the hip and semi-fitted, opening up in eyelet ribs as the shape flares to a swishy mesh-patterned hem. it hugs the high hips just enough to stay put all day, but the overall feeling is loose and light.

the sample shown here in knit in size small to fit someone approximately size 4 to 6, depending on body type (it’s always best to choose a size by measurements rather than your “store bought” size). when a relaxed cast on is used, the waist will stretch well beyond the stated finished size to pull over the hips.

while i’ve knit mine in my favorite hemp blend yarn, the gauge will work well for our dreamy deco fingering yarn or chebris lace yarn as well, for a couple of dressier alternatives. or if you have a wooly, fall/winter version in mind, it would be fantastic in stone soup fingering yarn.

david has put together a kit for those of you who like to grab and go—with choice of BNWs deco or hempshaugh; click here to see details and purchase.  this might be your chance to try our deco blend in the new color, bronze.

click here to view pattern details and other yarn options in the knitspot yarn and pattern shop OR purchase pattern alone on ravelry by clicking here (please purchase on ravelry if you’d like the pattern in your rav library).

pattern details are included on each product page.

enjoy your summer; i’ll be back VERY soon with a blog update (i know i owe you big time).

let’s catch up a bit

Posted on 4 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

hey gang! it might seem like i disappeared completely the last couple of months but i didn’t. we’ve had some big and little changes around here and i’ve been working behind the scenes a little more than usual. knitting is also happening; surprisingly more than you’d think but less than i’d like, haha. today i’m going to do a quick survey to update you on all the goings on of the last month or so and then tomorrow, i’ll do a more sedately-paced post about my knitting progress and home life (i.e., dog and garden update, hee-hee!).

our manager erica betz left her position with us in april to take a job at another company and we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors! this was a pretty big and sudden shift for us and it all happened so fast that i needed to move over to the office to do her job, hire her replacement, and help our new manager, ellen, get situated.

and we are very excited to welcome ellen into our work family; she brings many years of knitting and textile industry experience to our company and it couldn’t be a better fit. i know you’ll enjoy getting acquainted; if you have a need to communicate with her, please use any of the same email addresses as before to make contact. you will also see ellen participating in our ravelry groups and working in the booth at our show events, so stop and say hello!

in fact you’ll have a chance this coming weekend, when we’ll be exhibiting at the great lakes fiber show in wooster, OH; our booth is in the 4-H building, which is the large one right near the parking lot. we’ll have all of our yarns, tons of samples, and boxes of patterns for you to browse and buy. we’ll also have a variety of kits for sale, which were so popular at maryland earlier this month.

the wooster show is a wonderful fiber event—big enough to draw many reputable vendors from all over the midwest region, but small enough to feel homey and allow you to visit each booth in relative relaxation. if you live within a comfortable radius, consider coming out for the show; it’s just a short drive from several surrounding states. plus there are excellent fair fries for lunch—i know that’s going to be MY lunch on at least one day. i’m very excited that our friend and knitter extraordinaire cherie will be joining us for the weekend; i’m SO looking forward to her visit in our home!

i’ll be teaching my yarn voyage class on sunday morning from 9am to 12pm, although i believe online signups have closed. i don’t know if they are taking any late signups, but if you missed it and really want to get in, you could try contacting the organizers to inquire.

once again this year our experience showing at the maryland sheep and wool was everything we’d hoped it would be and more! our booth was jammed all day on saturday and most of sunday as well, although at least that day most people were able to get in for a visit. in fact, we’ve spent much time this month figuring out what we need to reorder for the rest of our summer shows and events.

here we are before the show opened on saturday, putting the last touches on our booth setup. hannah was on hand as well, though she’s behind the camera for this photo. we had no idea at this point that the next time we’d step out of the booth would be at 6pm, haha! all good problems to have, i think.

what we love about doing these shows is getting to see old friends and getting to know new ones. our booth is the place where we can meet face to face and help shoppers personally. it’s a truly pleasant experience for one thing, but for another, i always feel better sending someone off with a project knowing that they were able to get questions answered and find just the right fit for yarn and pattern.

i was really touched by how many booth visitors asked about our doggie, cardigan—so many had read her story and showed concern for her continued health and wellness. i will do a big update about her in the next post—there is a lot to show and tell—even if i hadn’t fallen madly head over heels in love with her (which i have, haha). i mean, just look at her; she’s adorable, right? both david and i have been working with her a lot in the process of bringing her into our family, but talk about time well spent—it is a continually gratifying experience.

the whole office has been involved in preparing a special treat for our next knitspot club adventure, a delightful tumble down the rabbit hole of color, color, and more color! you know we like to change it up with our clubs to keep everyone intrigued and involved and hannah especially has put a lot of thought into making this one a unique experience.

for the first time in our club history, participants will have a choice of yarn packages. the idea here is to explore how color reflects our inner personality and how design can change and morph with a shift in color perspective. when you sign up, you will have a choice of purchasing the “mood” package or the “lifter” package—and double dippers can choose one of each if they like or lots of the same. MOOD will be represented in color as subtlety, depth, and/or shade, while LIFTER will be represented by brightness, playfulness, and light. if you love using a pop of color to accent a wardrobe of neutral basics, the LIFTER option might appealing; if you prefer to present yourself in an ombre of subtle tones, then MOOD may be your ticket. projects will be accessory pieces designed to use one or two skeins of any combination.

this photo provides the sort of inspiration i am working from to come up with design ideas for this concept club; to me, it embodies all the aspects of working with one color “camp” or the other and the combination as well. look at the beautiful depth in the decaying tree stump and then the pop of color from the frilly fungi growing within its cavern.

we are super excited to bring this club to you; it’s been in the planning for quite some time. there will be three bi-monthly  installments of yarn, patterns, and goodies to begin in september—what a way to kick off the fall season! we’ve chosen some standout dye partners to participate—hedgehog fibres, zen yarn garden, and asylum fibers. we are opening signups to our current clubbies now (those enrolled in our BNK 2017)—check your mailbox for the eBlast. general signups will open to everyone on june 4th. if this sounds like a fun ride, we’d love for you to join us!

ok, that’s it for the moment, but i’ll be back soon with another post and i hope to see you this weekend. if you can’t make it, please join us on 6/4 for our next color adventure.

A new pattern and a good cause

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in projects

It’s not often that we take to this blog with particularly sad news, but today is a bit of an exception. While the office is bustling with our Maryland Sheep and Wool preparations (and we are very excited about all that we are ready to show you at the event), it’s with a heavy heart that we have to share that our dear friend and fellow designer, Elena Nodel, has recently found out that her cancer has returned. While you can read the details in Elena’s family’s own words on her Go Fund Me campaign, we wanted to do what we could to support her in our own way.

Back in November, before we released Ensemble, we decided to hold back a pattern of Elena’s for a later, Spring release. Oana, a stunning cardigan with elegant, draping fronts, seemed like the perfect early Spring cardigan. Effortlessly beautiful and knit in our glowing Chebris Sport, this cardigan was fully deserving of an individual pattern release outside of the full Ensemble showcase. Now, with Elena in need, we can tell that this is the opportune moment to share some of her most recent work with the world, at a moment where it can do the most good.

While all of Elena’s patterns kick back a percentage of proceeds to her as a designer (and we have certainly seen an uptick in these pattern sales thanks to her generous friends and supporters), we wanted to do something a little more for her with the release of Oana. Bare Naked Wools will donate 100% of the purchase price of this pattern. Additionally, if you purchase an Oana kit in our shop or from our booth at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Show (to knit in our Chebris or Cabécou sport yarns), we will donate $10 plus the amount of the pattern donation ($8.00, or the amount of your choice in the dropdown menu).

As with our Red Scarf initiative, we are also offering single pattern sales for Oana that can be augmented with a donation level of your choice. Click here to explore the options.

We really wish Elena the best on her road to recovery and want her family to be able to be with her without the worry of financial burden in every crucial moment of her treatment.