here, there, and everywhere

anne wrote this in the early morning:

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what a month! i have literally been all over the the map and filling every moment with some important task or other—and i have so much to tell you as a result, haha!

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well, you all know by now that we recently exhibited at the maryland sheep and wool show and then followed up immediately with the release of our spring ensemble collection.

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but i would like to back up and show you some of the gorgeous knitted samples that have been the real show in my eyes. we couldn’t put our beautiful booth displays and collections together without a considerable contribution of fine knitting to show off our designs and yarns.

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i don’t think one person came to our booth at maryland that didn’t notice whatever barb was wearing that day—in the two weeks before the show she knit this cute striped amalfi coast skirt AND a janet guthrie top in our hempshaugh fingering yarn. she also packed along the costa figueira jumper that she knit just before that.

SO many visitors to our booth made a beeline for “barb’s outfit” each day. believe me, we won’t leave home without her now!

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another eye-catching sample on display was this stunning ponte di rialto square, knit by vanessa with two skeins of our cabécou brillant lace, the champagne shade. this beautiful design by romi hill was part of our january ensemble and can be knit in fine lace yarn  or a slightly heavier weight, such as better breakfast fingering yarn.

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many people wonder how to wear a square shawl—the answer is that there are a variety of ways. with a super lightweight fabric like this lace sample, the piece can be draped in layers for outerwear or used as a light blanket or umbrella in a shower.

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lightweight lace is surprisingly (and efficiently) warm when layered up in folds—it traps air to reflect back our own cozy body heat.

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when the shawl arrived at knitspot headquarters, it was yet to be blocked—vanessa always saves that part for me, haha. it looks very crumply and somewhat homely coming off the needles, but that is easily remedied with the magical process of blocking.

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i put it in a soaking bath right away, but wasn’t able to actually pin it out til a couple of days later. no matter—undyed natural fiber is safe to sit in water for an extended period.

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it was well worth the wait—when i finally had a little time to stretch and pin it, it was a spectacular 60-inch square of lace finesse. this piece is not only a work of art, but one of considerable generosity; thank you vanessa!

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another generous contribution of knitted prowess was this outfit of the amalfi coast skirt, knit by our dear friend cherie and the costa figueira vest, knit by our good friend kristi. both pieces are shown here in the millet shade of hempshaugh as we had intentions of photographing them—along with the square shawl—as a wedding outfit.

while that plan went astray when we couldn’t coordinate good weather with a wedding party of models on the same day, we were still able to photograph it as a wonderfully summery outfit that will be perfect for a hot weather party later in the season. come june and july, we’ll be looking for a combination like this to wear . . .

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and guess what? i finally finished up the physalis shawl that had been on my needles since february, in our stone soup fingering yarn. there is absolutely no reason it should have taken this long except that i kept getting distracted by new designs.

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still, a few rows or a half hour of morning knitting at a time and it is now done. i even got to block it right away; my favorite part. i just love how those spaces between the leaves open up along with the mesh body.

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it’s a total transformation.

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we displayed this shawl at the front of our booth with the cream outfit above and it got SO much attention—the organic forms within knit in the rustic tweed yarn, made for an incredibly realistic (and dramatic) portrayal of leaves, vines, pods, and bark.

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i love this shawl—it’s so me; it’s really fun to knit and much faster and easier than it looks.

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i’ve knit it three times now and each one is my favorite, haha. from front to back in chebris lace (truffe), stone soup fingering (granite), and cabécou brillant lace (champagne)

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just before maryland and the ensemble release, erica and i had a date to spend the weekend with the miami valley knitting guild in dayton. on the way, we stopped off to visit our ohio mill for the afternoon. i love this photo because you can really see where all the gorgeous shades of our better breakfast yarn come from—carrie and robbie can tell you in minute detail about the coat of fiber each animal produces, haha.

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carrie does a lot of weaving and showed up this awesome rug that she made using the fiber that comes off of our hemp blend in the dehairing stage.

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she makes this really cool tubular yarn from it that she weaves into rugs. it’s so pretty made up, isn’t it?

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after a nice visit with them, we moved on to meet up with our friends at the guild. we set up a popup shop with yarn and samples so they could preview a few of the ensemble pieces.

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over the weekend we did some classes together in sweater fitness and finishing; it was a really great weekend. thank you miami knitting guild for a lovely opportunity to meet and work with you!

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back home everyone else was working to get ready for maryland—we even pressed doug into service, packing patterns and yarn to go into the truck.

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we pretty much stripped the shop bare and took every spare skein along with us.

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i love that our truck has a camel on the side that kind of also looks like an alpaca.

setup went like clockwork with everybody helping and before long, we had an adorable booth filled with yarn goodness and pretty samples—ready to show customers on saturday and sunday.

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on friday night we ate at a classy joint, haha. but a well deserved break for all of us; it felt as if we had not paused for weeks.

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and we had a terrific show—many many thanks to all who visited our booth and introduced yourselves to us. we just love meeting readers and customers and ravelers at our events. it makes the whole journey worth it; thank you all so much!

speaking of journeys, just wait til you see where i am now; i will catch you up in the next post, hopefully tomorrow.

Spring Ensemble 2016

mister knitspot wrote this in the wee hours:

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Firstly I want to thank the designers that have collaborated to create these lovely creations:

Bristol Ivy

Rich Ensor

Andrea Rangel

 Janelle Martin

General Hogbuffer

Anne Hanson (a special kiss for Anne)

Spring Ensemble, a mindful approach to styling and presentation, making our knitwear a functional part of your daily wardrobe. We have taken great care to ensure that the items in this collection are indeed wearable and not merely esthetically pleasing, although they are beautiful. The collection debuted at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this past weekend, the reception has been extraordinary, I can not sufficiently express how often I heard the words, beautiful, lovely, wonderful spoken as festival attendees admired the well dressed manikins in the booth. Barb and Anne were particularly fetching in their Ensemble attire. The reactions have been just great at the Maryland Festival, a successful debut as it were and we are admittedly very proud of this collection, and we are so happy to be able to share it with you. I hope that you like it.

Purchase downloadable Spring Ensemble patterns on Ravelry or in our Bare Naked Wools Boutique.

See the collection of Spring Ensemble kits in our luxurious yarns.

Spring Ensemble Lookbook.

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Our staff (Erica, Andrew, Doug and Lillian) have worked really hard on this project, thank you, your efforts are very much appreciated, especially Anne who has literally worked ceasingly these last 10-12 weeks, probably to the detriment of her well being. And alas a big thank you to all of our proof readers, tech editors, test knitters and models. A huge undertaking for such a small company, Knitspot/BNWs is boss.

Now the yarns, they are spectacular on their own (Bare Naked Wools Better Breakfast, Hempshaugh, Ginny, Stone Soup, Chebris, Cabécou and Ghillie), all natural, no dyes or chemicals, nor harsh processing. Bespoke yarns created by Anne Hanson, whose knowledge of wool is incomparable (says I) and allows us to produce really excellent yarns – there are no short cuts taken or use of inferior fiber, just really good quality wool. You have seen our mills at work, their passion, commitment and attention to detail when creating yarn. We have also shared video in recent years of some of the goat and sheep farmers we purchase fleeces from and again their love of their animals, translates into better fiber. Much of our fiber is local, as are the mills, and we are striving to make these percentages even greater. If a particular yarn should be out of stock just now, either pre-order (if option permits) or get on the back in stock list.

Here are some of the Spring Ensemble patterns:

estlin

Estlin Pullover by Bristol Ivy

saltPepper

Salt & Pepper by Anne Hanson

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Costa Figueira by Anne Hanson

 

arques

Arques Sock by Rich Ensor

Arundhati

Arundhati Shawl by Andrea Rangel

zwickel

Zwickel Sock by General Hogbuffer

dustDevils

 

Dust Devils by Anne Hanson

gibo

Gibo Auja by Janelle Martin

Cardita

 

Cardita Cowl by Andrea Rangel

 

janetGuthrie

Janet Guthrie by Anne Hanson

chevi

Chevi by Anne Hanson

 

 

Pairings Club Signups Now Open

mister knitspot wrote this just before lunchtime:

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Signups are now open for Pairings Club. In this club we will combine yarns, patterns, recipes and drink for a multi-sensorial experience. A skein of Bare Naked Wools (undyed) and a skein of hand dyed yarn to create beautiful accessory patterns that use color techniques from stranded to color blocking. On the food end, chef Katharine Wainwright will provide some wonderful recipes to accompany the knitting projects. More details about the Pairings Club here. Wish I could join, presently continuing work on Blanket Club and my skill level is not adequate to allow me to participate. However, the recipes I might attempt.

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Been considering another knitting project, perhaps a skirt. Have always been intrigued by the idea of men in skirts. After all, men were wearing skirts before pants. I recall in the nineties, that Gaultier created an entire collection of men skirts, it was absolutely brilliant. In the past considered a kilt, but this seems somewhat typical, a safe choice if you will. The last few years have seen a resurgence of men in skirts, perhaps even a trend. Anne’s Interlaken skirt is presently at the top of my list, may have go at this.

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Landscape fabric now in place for new tomato bed.

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Same tomato bed, different perspective.

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Again, new tomato bed, moving dirt to create mounds.

Have begun re-creating the mounds for the vegetable garden, the new tomato bed is coming along rather nicely. Hoping to have mounds sorted by weeks end, but probably next week is more likely. This year will share the garden offerings with Bil and his partner, glad we were able to expand garden. I do love that adage, “if you have enough, you have enough to share” – hopefully the garden will be bountiful this year. Nearly ready to sow peas and potatoes, surely by the end of the week, hopefully sooner. We picked up seed potatoes last week and we have pea seeds. Just had quick glance at weather forecast, potentially a rainy week, may hamper efforts a bit, but will be great for newly planted seeds.

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Potato bed nearly ready for potato seeds.

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Same potato bed, note dirt in background awaiting mound formation.

done and done

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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isn’t that a sight? this was the beautiful view from my window as we took off from newark last tuesday evening on my way home from ottawa. just look at that streak of sky with the last of the sunset—gorgeous.

before i get into the nitty gritty of my week, i just want to give a shoutout on a few upcoming events for the next two weeks:

i will be teaching this weekend (april 30 and may 1) at the miami valley knitting guild in dayton, OH. this is a great opportunity to take sweater fitness or a finishing class (or both!). they are hosting a meet and greet on friday evening that is open to all (a small fee is required at the door); erica betz and i will be taking along a popup shop of yarn and patterns that will be available throughout the weekend.

our spring ensemble collection will be coming next week!

and then NEXT weekend (may 7 and 8) we are heading for the maryland sheep and wool show, where we will have a booth in the center aisle of the main building. if you plan to be there, please stop by to fondle our yarns and say hello; we would love to show you around! all of our spring ensemble pieces will be available for viewing, along with patterns and yarns to knit them.

signups for the pairings club open to all on sunday may 1—just six days left for currently enrolled clubbies to take advantage of their discount on full membership or extra yarn upgrade (you can use your discount twice as long as you do it before may 1).

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back home, the weather has been steadily warming by the day and even the nights are temperate for the most part (except of course on the day of our cleveland photo shoot; more on that later).

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adorable little plants (may apple and fritillaria) are popping out for their once-a-year show; it’s important to notice them now because they won’t be back til next year.

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i just love taking little breaks to look around the yard—plants like the may apple and hosta show visible growth in just a few hours. if you don’t take notice today, they will be all grown up by tomorrow.

of course it’s not at all the case that i have hours upon hours to play in the yard, haha—when i got back from my trip i hit the ground running toward the next goal, which is getting our spring ensemble published and my blue shawl blocked and out in the mail.

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you might remember that just before i left, i decided it was done, but that i hadn’t cast off. i left it home while i was away and got right to work on the bind off the night i returned.

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then blocking. it is a larger shawl—25 to 29 inches along the center back before blocking—and about 34 inches once it’s relaxed and stretched. but super light and airy; it won’t weigh you down at that size.

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the fabric is just lovely—plenty of gloss to highlight those shifting stitches in the large leaves. that’s what a nice measure of silk will do for you! this sample is knit in spirit trail nona, a 2-ply merino/silk/cashmere blend in a heavier laceweight. i’ve used the aquarius colorway for mine.

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i love how it looks against the dark charcoal of our counter top. it would be beautiful with a dark dress as well. because well, my counter top is unlikely to go out dancing any time soon.

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this shawl would be really pretty in silver or white as well as a wedding shawl, maybe in cabécou lace or chebris lace.

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the top of it would look stunning over a bare shouldered dress and the bottom frames the bodice beautifully around the waist and lower back.

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and totally scarfable too for everyday looks!

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while the blue shawl dried, i knit late, late into the night to complete my second sample in better breakfast fingering yarn.

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the knitting goes pretty quickly because while it looks elaborate, it is actually very straightforward and does not involve a lot of fancy stitchwork. AND the WS rows are all in purl (except the edging which is garter). i know you like that.

since i was just starting the hem at the point that i blocked the blue sample, i had time to make a couple of very minor adjustments to the pattern.

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i started this shawl last friday (4/15) on my way to ottawa and i finished it this past friday morning (4/22). there were even a couple of days that i didn’t work on it. the hardest thing about it was picking a name—i went through about a dozen options that were already in use multiple times on ravelry. finally, erica betz suggested pothos and miracle of miracles, there was only one other (sock) pattern using that word. so i jumped on that one.

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this baby went right into a hot bath as soon as it was off the needles and i blocked it that afternoon. we wanted to use it for our photo shoot on saturday. good thing our BNW yarns dry quickly!

this time i blocked the hem scallops a little differently, but you could do it either way; for pointy leaves, use pins only on the hem (no wires) and stretch out the flower ‘petals’ into points (see blue sample above).

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i am always surprised at how light and drapey the fabric of this fingering yarn is—i knit this shawl on needles two sizes bigger because of the change in yarn weight, but it blocked out to about the same size. that’s because the BBF has more body and bounce, while the silky lace yarn does not, so the blue shawl relaxed a lot more.

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the BBF version is a bit warmer but still airy—it doesn’t feel heavy although it looks much more substantial.

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i think this one would be pretty over a dark coat or dress—but it also looks great with some of our hemp skirts and tops—that warm waffle shade is perfect for spring and summer.

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and a great bathrobe shawl for those summer mornings when you want to hit the deck first thing with your coffee.

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done just in the nick of time, this baby got packed into the car early saturday morning for ride to cleveland and some urban exploring. we had a list of sites to visit, starting with lakewood park, which is on lake erie.

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considering the warmth of the previous week, it was laughably windy and cold—literally too gusty to photograph some of our lighter pieces. we did get some excellent shots of our slightly heavier garments and lots of shawl pics, haha, since all we wanted the whole time was to bundle up in warm layers. this feather light stole in chebris lace felt scrumptious when i could get it to stay put.

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the next stop on our photo safari was the abandoned observatory of the case school of science—a wonderful old building in the center of town that is completely open and accessible.

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adorned with many original features, it is far less creepy than you’d think.

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we all admired this zodiac floor piece, which while completely available has remained in place. i think it’s awesome that no one has selfishly stolen it, despite obvious attempts. it’s nice that it’s still there for all to share and appreciate.

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the observatory tower is somewhat intact as well, though much of it is open to the light

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which makes an interesting photography space.

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i couldn’t resist a selfie.

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just wait til you see how we featured this honey doorway in some of our photos.

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we couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of this urban landscape with the natural one outdoors, just coming into leaf with bright spring greens.

and what’s that i see on the balcony railing?

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clearly, someone else thinks like we do.