ensemble mania

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

costaTunic04_15

it’s crunch time around here as we pull within two weeks of our spring ensemble release and the last few samples are arriving at knitspot HQ. today’s featured design is a variation on the illas cíes pullover i showed you a couple of weeks ago—actually, it’s a marriage of that design and my beloved ivar cardigan, with benefits.

this gorgeous sample in our hempshaugh lace (in millet), was graciously knit for us by the incredible kristi. i am amazed at how substantial it feels, mmm.

costaTunicA04_15

this design—costa figueira—features the same openwork panel as illas cíes with the same placement as ivar. it also has the same dimensions, gauge, and shoulder line of ivar, but i’ve added body shaping next to the panels to feminize it a bit and add some structure to the summery fabric. you could wear this as a vest or by itself as a top; it’s lovely.

the pattern still includes a pullover version and an option to add sleeves, but there is another addition to this one, to fill a request from barb and cynthia (that’s me, the people pleaser).

now we can make it dress length to wear as a fall jumper. the added skirt is flared a bit at the princess lines and side seams. barb knit her sample in stone soup fingering yarn; i took some quick photos in our yard the other night but i promised her i wouldn’t show them on the blog (it was dark and windy, not the most flattering light). but she keeps saying “did i mention that I LOVE THIS??”

i guess she loves it. i promise i’ll post photos as soon as we have some nice ones—probably after the weekend. and then we’ll find out what cynthia thinks . . . gotta have approval from the board, you know . . .

curling291_72dpi

OH! i almost forgot to tell you about a cool and related thing that happened this week—staci perry of verypink.com published a new free video tutorial for my curling neckwarmer and mitts design and it’s a great production. if you know a newbie knitter who would like to make this design, i recommend telling them about this piece. and if you love the costa figueira vest i just showed you or  the illas cíes pullover design, but are afraid the stitch pattern is beyond you, it’s probably not, but this tutorial will give you a chance to practice and put your mind to rest.

zwickelA04_15

these delicious socks, knit in our ghillie sock yarn by general hogbuffer are the bavarian cream of the crop. they’ve got embossing to beat the band. the bossiest embossing!

zwickelB04_15

those ankle medallions are the bomb, haha. we’ve actually had them in house for a while, but today i gave them a hot sudsy bath and now they look positively sculptural.

lamaBag04_15

i just adore my new llama project bag, a gift from my dear friend kimkimkim. she knows what i like, haha. the funny thing is, i almost got her this exact same thing for her birthday last month, but then paused because i had a feeling she might have one already. and not three days later she sent me one (she bought us each one).

anyway, i’ve got something special inside. do you want to see??

STshawl04_15

i think my blue blob may actually be done, hooray. i had planned to add another tier to the hem with more mesh and then a border, but i i took it off the needles the other night to check something and wow, i really think enough is enough with this one—more would just be gaudy, no?

STshawlBorder04_15

the profusion of activity and foliage at the bottom is just what i had in mind; the movement in the stitch patterns is really enhanced by the sheen of the spirit trail nona that i’m knitting with (colorway aquarius—see it at maryland sheep and wool in a few weeks!).

and you know, it’s good to hold back a little at this point i think. i can save the rest of what i had planned for another shawl . . .

STshawlA04_15

actually after checking the thing i wasn’t sure about (whether the fabric was TOO ruffly to be able to block flat), i did put it back on the needles to begin the mesh of the next section. and i knit about eight or ten rows.

but i am totally fine with ripping back and then casting off, especially since i left my lifeline in place just at the right spot. so that’s what i’m going to do.

STshawlB04_15

after i get back from canada. which is where i’m going this weekend in a few hours, to do some workshops with the ottawa knitting guild. or maybe tonight; we’ll see how long i last after writing this (i have to leave for the airport in a couple of hours and i am nowhere near tired at the moment, haha).

my biggest problem with it right now is not ripping back, but what to name it—i’m at a loss. any ideas? it’s kind of tropical, but also very garden-y, so i don’t know.

BBfwaffle04_15

at any rate, i won’t be done yet with this project—i need to get started right away on a sample in our own yarn, so i’ve wound up a couple of skeins of better breakfast fingering yarn in the waffle shade (so warm and soft, so yummy!). this will give me a chance to test the pattern again fully, which will put my mind to rest. it should o pretty quickly, now that i made all the big mistakes with the first one—no reknitting of big sections this time. and much more compact for travel knitting .  . .

ok, i think that’s it for now. i will try to stop back over the weekend with some touristy pictures of ottawa. i’ve never been there, so it will be an adventure.

quick as a wink

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

snowSMorning04_03

i swear, this has been the snowiest week we’ve had all winter. which was kind of good, because i needed to hole up and get some serious knit on.

cheviSleeveBlocked04_03

those pretty sleeves i showed you in my last post needed to become a sweater, so i spent most of monday working out the written pattern. that involved a lot of calculating to maintain the sizing between the lacy and stockinette sections, as well as through the shaping.

but a day well spent—by late evening i was ready to cast on and get going.

since my sleeves worked out so well in terms of hitting the right gauge and size consistently, i decided to tackle the back piece next. i usually make this piece last because i use the smaller pieces to confirm my shaping, etc., but i wanted to make sure that the transitions between the lace and stockinette areas worked out correctly, so this time i knit the big piece first as it has the most variables.

cheviBackHem04_09

not only are there two larger areas of lace patterning, but there is body shaping AND short row shaping just above the back hem. any of those factors could result in some rewriting of the pattern if it wasn’t right; i felt it best to suss out any problems as early as possible.

i also needed to determine if i could realistically finish this sweater by the weekend—i thought if i could get the back done by sometime on wednesday and know that it was in good shape, i could finish the whole thing in time for a weekend photo shoot.

cheviButtons04_09

writing up the pattern reminded me that i needed to determine a button count and for that i would need to pick out buttons. luckily i had two options right in the house. one was my favorite flat shell buttons, which i use often. i wasn’t sure they would work, but actually, they are quite pretty. however, while digging further into my button box, i came across a set of jet black glass buttons i’d forgotten i had.

cheviButtonsA04_09

i really like these and i felt this sweater could use something a bit dressier (though it isn’t required).

i knit the hem lace section before turning in on monday night. tuesday was a busy day at the office, so i didn’t get to knit again til late in the day, but once i sat down to work, the pace picked up quite a bit.

cheviBackBodice04_09

i stayed up very late knitting on tuesday into wednesday morning—mostly because it was so much fun to watch the piece come off the needles—this design is much quieter in the front view, with all the impact in the back. when i got up on wednesday morning, i was nearly done.

cheviBackUnblocked04_09

by lunch time, i was ready to block it and see how my planning all worked out in reality. i’m knitting with our bare naked wools better breakfast fingering yarn in the poppy seed shade—the the photo just above is the most accurate representation of the color; it sometimes photographs as a much lighter gray, depending on the light.

cheviBlockingA04_09

the back pinned out very easily to the planned dimensions; i steamed blocked it to set the size and the fabric responded beautifully. i’ve noticed that the more recent batches of this yarn are really nice—our ohio mill is getting better and better as we work with them more. this particular batch has a near-perfect level of twist—enough to create a fabric that has some nice spongy bounce and body, but not so much that it neutralizes all the softness and drape of the fiber blend. it is slightly less fuzzy, but because of that it should resist pilling even better.

cheviBlocking04_09

i left the back pinned out to dry and immediately got started on one of the front pieces (seriously, i barely looked up form my knitting all week!). i don’t know why—maybe because they are just “half”?—but the fronts always knit up so fast for me. by the next evening, i had both fronts finished and was blocking those too.

i like to pin one of them out and steam it, then pin the second one right on top of the first. i do the same with the sleeves—it saves so much time and ensures that the book-matched pieces are exactly the same size and shape.

cheviPieces04_09

with all the pieces steam blocked, i gathered my tools and headed upstairs to watch TV while i started seaming. first, i completed the shoulder seams and steamed them to get ready to apply the button/neck bands.

cheviButtonBand04_09

the button/neck bands are narrow, but loo-o-o-oong; i think it took me almost as long to complete that part as it did to knit the fronts (or at least it felt that way). but finish them i did and after that it was a downhill coast through the seaming to the finish. by saturday morning i was done, just in time to go teach my class.

chevi869_72dpi

chevi864_72dpi

chevi872_72dpi

unfortunately, our overnight snow/slush/ice and a severe drop in temperatures caused our “spring” photo shoot to be postponed. arrrghhh.

that’s why i didn’t sew on the buttons yet—i decided that i may as well wash it first. but i took a few photos to share with you—i know the suspense was killing me, so i figured you might be anxious to see the results too.

cheviModeling04_09

i just love it—it’s light and airy and elegant; everything a spring sweater should be.  i have a very short list of notes for minor pattern tweaks and that’s it—off to the tech editor on monday.

cheviBWashed04_09

it’s drying now; the fabric “grew a lot” when it was wet but it was easy to reshape it to the right measurements. i’ve been turning and reshaping it every couple of hours to encourage  a bit more loft and density in the final fabric. i think i am going to love wearing this one (and barb is already hatching plans to knit one, too).

for this week coming i will concentrate on finishing up my shawl, hopefully to be off the needles before i leave for my teaching trip in ottawa at the end of the week (all classes are full, yay!).

i am often asked when i will be teaching in the midwest and ta-DA—i will be teaching again at the end of this month at the miami knitters guild near dayton, ohio—there are plenty of spots left for anyone in the region who would like to attend (you don’t have to be guild member to sign up). i will be teaching sweater fitness and finishing—a great combination for any knitter. check out the class offerings and sign up information here—hope to see you then!

ok then, i’ll be back in a couple of days with an update on my shawl; this time i promise i won’t fall down the rabbit hole, haha; i’m staying right here til it stops snowing and warms up.

the difference a day makes

anne wrote this at around evening time:

snowHyacinth04_03

hehe, well, it happens every year during the first week of april but still it surprises me.

snowPine04_03

it’s the same each year—just after the daffodils bloom we wake up one day to see everything draped in a layer of snow, sometimes lightly and sometimes—like today—quite heavily.

snowHydrangea04_03

in fact we had quite the winter storm last night—whorls of heavy snow buffeted about by strong winds that went on for hours. fortunately this morning the sky was mostly clear and the sun was shining, though it has stayed cold.

snowChard04_03

my little spinach and chard sprouts might just make it—they seemed ok when i checked. yesterday some of them had a second set of leaves already, so i’m hoping they are the hardy type. just in case though, i sprinkled a few more seeds on top of the snow as insurance.

with the snow and cold outside, it’s been a good weekend to stay inside and knit. i got quite caught up on my new shawl.

blueShawlFlatA04_03

by friday night i had reknit all the yarn i ripped out the morning before and had successfully navigated about half of my new charts with little or no corrections (air punch!). it’s a good sign that i had to change to a longer needle yesterday morning in order to move on—the shawl is getting bigger.

blueShawlLatestA04_03

last night i got through the rest of those charts and am now ready for fresh material.

blueShawlLatest04_03

now that i have a nice chorus line of leaves dancing across the shawl, it’s time to add some blossoms. i worked on the next part late this afternoon so i am all set to get back to knitting when we settle in for some TV watching later on (first though, we are going on a movie date, yay).

cheviSleeve04_01

for sweater progress, i had finished the lace portion of my sleeve on friday night as well and had just started the stockinette part. on saturday morning, i knit away on that while overseeing our wheaten wrap class at the shop and by the time it was over, i had a few new inches to show for myself.

after class, i came back to the house and set myself up in a comfy chair on the top floor to knit the afternoon and evening away.

cheviSleeveBlocked04_03

by mid afternoon i had the sleeve done and pinned it out for steam blocking; i thought it was important to set the shape and size of that lace with steam before wet blocking anything.

cheviLaceBlocked04_03

now you can get a much better idea of what that lace will look like—i love it. it will be repeated around the sweater hem and on the back above the waist. what do you think barb?

from finishing and blocking this piece, i have a much better idea of how to handle the gauge differential between the lace portion and the stockinette portion, which is considerable—a difference of about twenty-five percent.

cheviLaceUnblocked04_03

i made some very slight adjustments to my pattern and after i had knit my shawl as far as i could last night, i cast on the second sleeve and knit the hem ribbing. this morning i got up and set to work on that, hoping i might get halfway by noon. but it didn’t turn out that way . . .

cheviSleeveUnblocked04_03

instead i was to the underarm bind off by then and well, i couldn’t stop there; i had to keep going. it was OTN by about 2 pm and i couldn’t be happier with that speed. i didn’t block the second sleeve yet because i really needed to get back to my lace charts so i have something to work on tonight, haha.

chevi2Sleeves04_03

aren’t they a funny pair? you’d hardly know they were related.

BBFstockinetteUnblocked04_03

i know, i know—i’m always running on and on about blocking and how awesome it is, but well, it IS!! just look at these two stockinette photos.

BBFstockinetteBlocked04_03

sure that top one looks “fine”, but seriously, which one would you rather wear? which one would make your bod look sleeker?

with my work lined up for later tonight, i think i’ll hit the shower and get gussied up for our date—so excited. i’ll be back in a couple of days with hopefully more progress; see you then!

out of the old rises the new

anne wrote this in the late afternoon:

hyacinth04_01

our current weather theme is holding—days that are sunny and warm alternating with days that dip down to near freezing. the plants have been reluctantly opening their buds one by one, only to have their flowers torn to rags by the wind, which is mostly ferocious on any day.

daffodils04_01

the poor daffodils are few in number this year and i can’t help but wonder if they are getting destroyed before they’re even fully open. or maybe they are just wise enough to wait til things calm down, who knows?

greens04_01

the spinach and chard seeds i tossed out into the garden on monday are sprouting already—i’m excited! now if i can get david to make a spot for peas, i’ll plant those next. i should get the onions and potatoes in too—and maybe parsnips . . .

thank you for your enthusiastic response to my new hempshaugh skirt. you wanted to see it “on”, so here you go.

amalfiStripes04_01

i even got a chance to play with making outfits

amalfiStripesA04_01

i love it with the salt & pepper top which is also knit in hempshaugh laceweight. i think i’ll be wearing this combination a LOT—it’s simple, fun, and oh-so-comfy. i haven’t had a chance to get them together yet, but i bet the skirt will look great paired with janet guthrie, too.

amalfiSolid04_01

no sooner had i posted that i was finished, than cherie text me photos of HER finished sample, also in our hemp fingering yarn, this time in the solid millet shade.

amalfiSolidA04_01

haha, she was playing dress up too—with a merle tank that she knit last year in our hemp fingering yarn. does it make anyone else think of brigitte bardot? i recently read that bardot is the new black. of course, i read it on a t-shirt so it might not be true (but i wish i had that t-shirt).

saltPepperDrying04_01

i washed up that salt & pepper top yesterday after reknitting the neck finish, which did not turn out as loose as i wanted it—it should be loose enough to tip forward just a bit from the neck at the bottom of its U shape.

the hemp fabric is a little unruly when it is very wet. so i always start out by squeezing as much moisture as i can from the fabric and then treating it to some vigorous reshaping—quick tugs to the fabric in all directions and a few good shakes. then i lay it down and shape as best i can to the desired measurements.

as it dries, i pick it up several times to fluff and reshape and voilà—eventually it shrinks back to a uniform fabric that hangs beautifully.

shawlOnTrack04_01

even though at the last writing i thought i was over the hump, my biggest challenge this week has been my shawl project.

doomedCharts04_01

by mid-week i had charted myself into a corner but was still doggedly carrying on, convinced that i was on the right track. finally yesterday i came to my senses when i assessed what i had completed and did not love it. at all. sigh.

so i proceeded to scrap a substantial amount of the work i had—most of my working hours over the last two weeks, in fact. (i was actually more than halfway through that chart, grr). and even though i was enjoying the work, it wasn’t pretty—oh NO!

the good news is that i was able to salvage the first two sections i wrote and after ripping back yesterday morning, i rewrote a new section fairly quickly. sometimes, a project is just like that—kicking and squirming and hateful to me nearly all the way through and then finally, submissive at the end.

cheviSwatchesC04_01

i gave myself little consolation treats every few hours over the last two days by working on a wild card design for the spring collection—one that i wasn’t sure i’d be able to squeeze in, but now looks like a reality. i showed you some swatches the other day in chebris lace, which is one yarn that it could be knit in

cheviSwatchesA04_01

but then i swatched with better breakfast fingering yarn and i loved that so much that i decided to knit my sample with it instead—i just like the weight of this fabric a little better for my uses. if i went out a little more often or had a job that required dressier clothing, i would totally use the chebris; it is supremely light and elegant knit in this fabric.

cheviSwatches04_01

side by side, both yarn work up to the same gauge (though on needles one size apart), so i’m comfortable recommending either one.

cheviSketch04_01

the sweater will be mostly plain stockinette with the back in the lace fabric above the waist and lace at the hem and lower sleeve. the back hem will curve downward via short row shaping though not as long as the sketch implies; probably just below the low hip in back.

cheviSleeve04_01

after all of my shawl charts were done last night, i treated myself to starting a sleeve for the sweater while we watched TV. it is of course quite misshapen, but i think it’s going to look spectacular in the poppy seed shade of the BBF yarn.

this morning i got up and got to work on reknitting the shawl; the new charts are working out great so far. i’ve already reknit most of it and am much happier with what i have now. it won’t be long before it’ll be done i think. yay.

hydrangeaClimberA04_01

the weather is turning nasty out there and the temperature is dropping once again (after starting out as a really nice day!). i plan to spend a lot of time knitting this weekend so i can get these last two patterns off to tech editing. if we do get a break in the rain, i’d like to get some seeds in the ground . . ..we’ll see.

maybe before any of that, a nap. hey it’s friday after all . . .

what about you?

hosta04_01