notes from the gray area

anne wrote this late at night:


in case you haven’t seen this yet, thea colman has produced another design with bare naked wools; we love her! for her stranded two-color (+accent) hat, gray rose, thea chose to work with kent DK, then sized up by knitting also in kent worsted on bigger needles.


modeled here by her adorable daughter zoe, the DK version is shown in the tide pool and beach glass shades (but any two contrasting shades will work). a few yards of leftover DK yarn from your scrap pile to use as an accent color is all you need to round out the materials. i don’t see why you couldn’t do the centers in a variety of colors even.


we’ve created a kit with your choice of yarn weight and shades in kent—with it, you’ll be able to knit two hats if you switch the background and foreground use of color. Use code BNW for your purchase of Gray Rose via Ravelry. The offer is good until Sept. 30th with or without the purchase of yarn! Thank You, Thea!


a hat made from snuggly bare naked wools would be a most excellent holiday gift, stocking stuffer, or swap item. and two of them in one package? that’s the best of both worlds; one to keep and one to give away. the kit itself would be a terrific gift for a knitter, too.


in other news, my coat sleeves are complete. now that the september ENVY club chapter has gone out the door for this month (SO glad everyone loves this month’s green yarn and patterns so much, yay!!), i can get down to business on the sweater body, which is knit in one piece to the underarm and then split—thank goodness the yarn knits quickly at a lofty gauge on big needles.

i’m not a huge fan of sweaters worked in one piece, but in this case it makes the most sense because that gigantic twining cable will be running up the side seam area and no way would i add a seam to the middle of that drama.


the cast on last night was a struggle because i was so tired i couldn’t add the numbers right, even with my calculator in hand. but i finally got it and after that i of course knit the first row wrong—three times. well, i did go to the “i never learn” school of knitting after all . . .

i finally packed it in and will tackle it tonight. isn’t the colorway just jammin’ though?? it’s even more awesome when you can feel it. in fact, i keep stopping to admire the yarn and i’ve got to get myself to stop that if i am to knit the sweater body in a timely manner. and i don’t have a lot of time—in fact, i’m afraid if jen sees this post she will have an anxiety attack because this garment and the pattern need to be done for rhinebeck. but they will be.


well now you didn’t think my garden had just disappeared overnight did you? sigh. it is very much alive, thank you. and putting out almost more than we can handle . . . except for tomatoes.


we are getting just a medium number of tomatoes, but i have hopes that we will get as many as we need for the freezer by the time the frost hits. it’s supposed to be warm through september at least, and if it is, we should be fine.


the problem isn’t the number of actual tomatoes produced, it’s the number of edible ones we are getting. unfortunately we have many, many, gorgeous red plum tomatoes with end rot, ugh. the orange, black, and round red tomatoes seem fine, but the plums are bumming me out. the orange oxhearts and the black nguyens are just scrumptious.


we have a veritable eggplant forest with several different types—my refrigerator bin is almost full, just waiting for me to have a few spare hours to cook ratatouille and some curry.


our greens and swiss chard are just phenomenal—i don’t think we’ve ever had such a good year for greens and i hope now we have it down because this is my favorite vegetable. we’ve been eating them almost every day.


and i know you are just dying for a shot of the green beans because there can never be too many of those so here you go! this is another vegetable we’ve been eating nearly every day—and gladly—but i could use some fresh inspiration for cooking them; how about some recipe ideas? (nothing with gluten flours please!)


we have all sorts of peppers coming back now that the weather has cooled a bit (they took a break during that hot, dry period we had in august). these purple island peppers are so yummy—they have a cool, sweet citrusy flavor and are lime green inside; great for salads or eating raw.


i took a chance on this chocolate pepper but so far this is the only fruit it has produced. it’s chocolate alright, but i don’t know yet what it tastes like and i don’t know if i’ll find out—it’s already softening on the one side.


the little salad/power greens patch that i planted while david was away is doing well; i need to make time this weekend to get out and thin the seedlings. we will be clipping baby greens in a few days i think.


and some of the new beet and spinach greens are ready now. time to get out there and do some trimming. plus there are baby leaves to be culled all the time from the bases of the big chard plants. we will have a nice weekly supply for quite a while, if we get enough rain to keep them sweet.


the funny old celeriac is maturing nicely; we have about a half dozen of these fascinating roots this year. i love their flavor in so many dishes; it adds a great dimension to soups made from pureed root vegetables.

i don’t have a photo of my gigantic butternut squashes, but i’m so bummed—they were so gorgeous and blemish free until today, when i see they each have little bites taken out by some nasty critter (probably a skunk). don’t be skeeved out, but i’m thinking i might just take them in and cut off the parts that are nipped (with a very big margin, i promise). i hate to see such big beautiful winter squash go to waste. does anyone else do this and is it ok??

the squirrels have been stealing tomatoes i know, but i don’t think the are the culprits behind this; i think it’s something bigger—a “squash buckling” skunk or possum, possibly a raccoon. ugh, disgusting.


thank heavens for flowers. this is my alkanet plant that i bought at wooster in may as a little sprite of a thing. david had to move it to a pot because it was taking over his poppy bed.


it doesn’t seem to have cramped its style any, hehe.


ok, now we have a couple of exciting things coming up for you in the next couple of days. on friday we will release my new atlantique pattern—a cool top with a pretty buttoned neck finish to knit in hempshaugh lace. wear alone or with layers; with sleeves or without.

and with the way the weather is heading, we’re going to want one of these for a while yet.


erica has put together a kit with yarn and pattern; quantities are limited, so don’t dilly dally if you’ve got your heart set on this one (i don’t mean to sound pushy; we really don’t have all that much of this yarn—it’s popular!). i believe we are restocking as fast as we can, but the laceweight is spun in very small batches; we can only get a certain amount each month.


and THEN on monday, our friend carol feller will be contributing a guest blog to tell you about her new book—short row knits. she’s going to discuss some strategies for dealing with fear of short rows and techniques for making your short rows look their best.

and you never know, there just might be a book giveaway . . . actually i have it on good authority that there definitely will be one—spread the word!

alright now, off to get that atlantique pattern up and write a post about it. see you soon.


it’s good to be home

anne wrote this in the late afternoon:


did you have a nice labor day weekend? we did a little traveling to visit our moms and actually ended up taking a couple of extra days, so that we were gone for a full week—i KNOW! that never happens, haha!


just before we left i ran the canton city charity chase. i haven’t been racing much this year, so i was looking forward to this one as the course is plotted to go through our neighborhood. i had to laugh when i opened my eyes that morning—after weeks without a drop of rain, it was showering outside. of course.


no worries though, it was barely misting by the time i left the house to walk downtown to the start line. this is a smallish race which was sadly reduced in length this year to a 10k; last year i ran it as a half marathon. so we didn’t cover all the territory i’m used to running, but i did have to bust a move and run a bit faster than i’m used to. one side effect of not racing much is that i’m not diligent about speed training; i run very consistently day to day but i don’t put in time doing drills (haha, i’m not much of a coach; i like to just have fun).


still, i didn’t do badly at all; a cool morning, nice people, and a course i love all made it a good run and i took second in my age group. plus, at the end there were fruity snacks, what’s not to love?


back home i spent the rest of the day in the garden and later, the kitchen. i picked green beans, squash, eggplant, greens, and tomatoes. i processed some tomatoes into puree, both roasted and  stewed, then chopped some of the vegetables into parts for a curry, which i was craving for dinner. everything in it came from our garden, except for the tofu and carrots, which i didn’t grow this year.


mmmm. after dinner i made a batch of pie dough so i could bake a fresh peach pie on tuesday to bring on our trip.

by wednesday morning we were ready to roll. i drove the first leg and david took over after a few hours so i could knit. i was more reasonable about the knitting i packed on this trip—just two bigger projects with extra yarn for each. one was secret and i worked on that almost exclusively at first so as to finish it up and get it off my plate.


the other was (is) the project i am knitting with that gorgeous deep red vesta i showed you last week or so? mmm—full of cabled goodness. more on that later . . .

even though my mom said not to bring a lot, i did; there was too much produce to leave it sitting for five days. payback for all the times we tell her not to do something and she does it anyway, haha.


and good thing i did—the box of vegetables i brought along was completely gobbled up by the time we left. we ate fresh greens for dinner a couple of times, we used the beans in several dishes, including this yummy potato and green bean salad, which was an absolute snap to make (just five ingredients) and can be served warm or cold.

here’s how: take equal parts green beans and small waxy potatoes (i had 1.5 pounds of each; my mom bought some fancy tricolor fingerling potatoes). scrub potatoes and cut with skin on into chunks; top beans and rinse.

place potatoes in a pan of heavily salted (about 1/3 cup) cold water as you cut them. bring the pan to a boil and reduce heat to simmer; cook til tender (about 15 mins). throw beans into the pot for the last couple of minutes and cook until they are bright green all over but still crunchy.

while the vegetables cook, whisk together 2 tablespoons of stone ground mustard, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar in a large salad bowl.

drain and rinse potatoes and beans in cold water to stop cooking and transfer to the bowl with dressing while still warm. toss to coat, season with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of fresh oil if desired.

that’s it! it’s nice to make this dish before starting supper so the dressing can penetrate the warm vegetables. it tastes great cold as well and keeps for several days in the fridge. of course you can make it fancier, but it’s just great the way it is and takes less than a half hour to make. for me, this could be dinner on a hot summer night (with peach pie thrown in, natch)


it was very important to fortify ourselves because one of our main tasks on this trip was to tackle my mom’s garage, which had become a catchall for the overflow from her house. so much so that she has to park the car in a very particular way just so she can get out of it. i find that too limiting for comfort; she needs to be able to move freely going in and out. besides, everything was getting very disorganized too with lots hidden out of view—not good.

friday was slated as the big day. i had a feeling it was going to be an all-day, all-out, drag down fight to throw out as much as we should.


well it did take all day, but we made some progress. mom thought we threw out too much and i think we could have done more, but at least now the boxes are labelled, food is stored all in one spot, there is some space to navigate, and she can reach most of the important items without being attacked from all sides by falling debris.


i did lose the battle over this enormous box of department store shopping bags (there must be over a hundred, i swear. and a story for each one).

it makes me think more clearly though about my own stuff—i know i have some of these same fondnesses for things i don’t really need or use. our house has plenty that can—and should—be delivered to its next life. i keep saying that we should take a couple of weeks completely off from work and the computers to tackle a purging of our house, but i don’t make sure it happens (partially because i find it overwhelming). food for thought.


aside from that job, we did do quite a few really fun things over the weekend—you know moss doesn’t grow on my mom, haha. we went to an interesting photography show at the albany institute of art with my cousin, david went to long island to spend an afternoon with his mom (who is back in the ICU), and we got together with my sister’s family one night. i got some nice long runs in on roads surrounding the albany pine bush and we also watched old movies at night, when david and i got some knitting done (for me, that’s the best part of ANY day).


on labor day we took a ride to visit my aunt and detoured through Saratoga Springs on the way home. david had never visited and it’s really at its best in summer. monday was the last day of the racing season, so the town was buzzing.


we didn’t actually go into the track (maybe another time), but we did stop in the center of town to walk around the park and fill a couple of bottles with spring water.


it was a scorcher so we took our time strolling—just an easy-going break from the drive home.


oh, i almost forgot—i took along my dark blue triticum sweater to see if it would fit my mom. i had steam blocked the pieces before sewing them together, but never gave the whole garment a complete soak and wash. so once i determined that she liked it and where it might need some blocking to customize the fit, i gave it a wash and laid it out to dry. it really looks nice on her i think.


progress continued on this project as the week went on; i’ve been using the construction of the sleeves to finalize gauges and proportions (the cable is quite large and i love it). the vesta yarn by spirit trail fiberworks is absolutely divine—sooo soft and cushy! it interchanges really nicely with our own worsted weight selections as well, so i know already that i’ll be making another one of these in BNWs—probably chebris worsted (i’m thinking frappé). i’m pretty excited about it, but since it’s  a larger project, i think i’ll just report on it in bits and pieces.

the yarn is not available to purchase yet, but will debut at rhineneck next month—see it in the spirit trail booth.


now that my secret projects are done (at least for a while) and the vesta project is clipping along well, i’ve been thinking about future projects since we left albany. even though it’s still very warm (it’s supposed to remain so during september), fall and winter are definitely coming at some point and i want to be ready. labor day just makes it feel more real. so i’ve been swatching away on ideas for outfits and layering pieces that will work together and as parts of other combinations.

in other words, the fun has begun.


a fresh take

anne wrote this in the early morning:


while at TNNA back in june, my friend kirsten kapur slipped me a slim little book that she had just published—her new shawl book one. we asked her to tell you a little something about her new collection

Kirsten Kapur Shawl Book One is a collection of my most popular designs, as well as a few of my personal favorites. The shawls are all beautifully photographed by Gale Zucker, on location in costal Connecticut. I am very excited to see the patterns knit up in Bare Naked Wools wonderful palette of neutrals. I wish I had the time to knit one or two for myself using these delightful yarns.

 (photos are included here with the permission of the author).


i love kirsten’s take on designing modern lace pieces—there’s a lot of old-fashioned lacy parts to get lost in, but she adds a fresh twist by combining them with stripey body work and bold color pairings (great for stash busting and trying out new yarns or yarn pairings).


she is absolutely queen of a big, bossy border—i bow to her choices in over-the-top victorian trimmings for otherwise simple shawl bodies.


i also admire her daring choices when she decides to go with a solid color.

but these designs do not depend on colorful yarn choices to carry the day. they are equally intriguing in subtle tones and single shades—dare i say that no-color colors even unlock some beautiful traits in them that are otherwise hidden?


our friend hattie recently knit this thalia sample in our new hempshaugh lace yarn, color millet. it’s absolutely delicious to wear with a summer or fall outfit, just what you want when the A/C is too much—nothing sticky or prickly about it, but much appreciated by chilly shoulders.


in the sun, the yarn amplifies the light as it passes through the lace work to a different extent than it would if it was dyed; the whole piece becomes infused with a pretty glow and shows off the subtle aspects of its lacework in more depth.


in fact, we thought that the publication of kirsten’s collection would be a great way to promote the use of our two newest yarn lines, hempshaugh and ginny, now that we have them in all shades.


i can totally picture this laight street wrap knit in ginny DK and it would be a simple task to turn it into a lap throw as well—how super cuddly would that be??


with fall just around the corner now, we’re going to need some lightweight scarves and wraps. or maybe you are already trying to knock out some holiday knitting, but it still feels a little warm to be knitting with stickier fibers. the hemp and cotton blends are the perfect solution

consider a soft, cottony version of moulin rouge (above, in bright pink); just big enough to offer great coverage as a scarf or shawlette, but small enough not to be hot or wintery looking. knit in one of these subtle shades of ginny sport (left to right: texas, mississippi, and georgia) it will transition you nicely from hot summer temperatures into fall—there is an ample period of time to wear such a wonderfully versatile piece. and the yardage in these skeins is just right for this project.

 or consider the beautiful cover design, cladonia—it’s gorgeous!


if the stripes are exactly what you’re after, but you prefer to knit a shawl that will work with a variety of outfits, try a combination of two or three hempshaugh shades (left to right) kasha, buckwheat, and/or millet.


with two or three skeins, you can knit several shawls from the book in fact; using the leftovers from cladonia to make this ulmus shawl, for instance. either of these would be a great choice for a swap project (such as our rhinebeck swap), since these yarns are unlikely to conflict with a fiber sensitivity.


with that in mind, we came up with the idea to offer a book/yarn kit that includes your choice of ginny DK or sport and hempshaugh fingering or lace yarns; the printed book is included at a discount of $3 to knit as many shawls as you like. you can purchase the kit with one or two skeins of a single shade and then expand the possibilities by adding skeins in different shades—or even different fiber types—to your order (check out this nefertem shawl in better breakfast fingering, for example).


and to celebrate labor day, we are giving away one single size kit in ginny sport (any shade) to one lucky recipient. leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EDT tonight; david will pick a winner and we’ll  announce it right away.

ETA: and the winner is . . . cynthia!


happy end of summer and HAPPY fall!

midwest is best

anne wrote this around lunchtime:


there’s a new book in town—midwestern knits, a 13 pattern collection, curated and edited by knitwear designers Carina Spencer and Allyson Dykhuizen.


the book—available in both digital-only and print + digital format (use the first link if you want it in your ravelry library), features original designs from Adrienne Larsen, Ann Weaver, Emily Ringelman, Hope Vickman, Jennifer Waterbury Beaumont, Laura Hulslander, Laura Ricketts, Melynda Bernardi, Sara Gresbach, as well as Allyson and Carina.


and was i ever pleased and honored to see that the first design featured—midtown, by carina spencer—is the one knit in three shades of BNWs kent DK  (white sand, driftwood, and coconut husk)—woo-hoo!


worked in both stockinette and a beautiful slip-stitch texture, this easy to wear cardigan, dressed up or dressed down, is emblematic of all the pieces included in the collection.


i can see this sweater knit in several of our yarn selections, including our new ginny DK—we’ve got two more shades—mississippi (top left) and georgia (bottom left) due to arrive in about three weeks.


how comfy does that sound??


in addition to this beautiful cardigan, the book includes six more sweaters and a variety of accessories—hats, mittens, cowls, and such, all with squishy textural interest.


each design is inspired by the designers’ personal connections to the heartland of america, the places where they were born and raised and the places where they live now. essays written by each designer accompany their contributions as a tribute to their inspiration.


besides the designs themselves, these writings are what i love most about this book; they tell a story of how a designer’s life and knitting are intertwined, influenced by a sense of place and a keen eye for interpreting their surroundings—a goal i can relate to as a designer and writer (my blog is a peek into all of my life, whether exceptional or ho-hum on any given day).


i was very touched by seeing the work each designers attached to her story, by seeing the weather and architecture and cultural traditions that sparked a certain idea for them.


for some, texture and pattern were lifted from the natural world—from grand forests and lakes to back yard microclimates.


for others a certain cultural vibe or architectural structure, unique to their town or state was the jumping off place for a design.


even the overly large and violent weather events famous to the midwest were commemorated—and more than once.


in addition to the midwest design inspiration, the yarns featured throughout the book are midwest-sourced and include contributions from Bare Naked Wools, Brown Sheep, Knits in Class, Lorna’s Laces, Mrs. Crosby Plays, Nerd Girl Yarns, The Plucky Knitter, Stonehedge Fiber Mill, and Three Irish Girls.


interested to learn more about the project, purchase a copy, or join in a KAL for one of the projects (hopefully one with our yarns!)? click here to purchase a digital-only copy and click here to purchase a print/digital combination.