if it’s monday, i’m where?

anne wrote this around lunchtime:

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hello gang! oh heavens i cannot believe how quickly the last couple of weeks have flown by—what a blur. but here i am in NYC (actually, brooklyn at the moment but more about that later), winding down from an exciting weekend at vogue knitting live!

the photo above was the view from my hotel room looking out to the hudson river last thursday, when i arrived; isn’t that fantastic? i got in very early—before 9 am, having taken the first flight from home. once in the for i immediately passed out and had a good long nap to get ready for the weekend—sleep has been sorely lacking in my life lately, hehe.

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once rejuvenated though, i immediately set out on walkabout to explore the city i love so well. being right in the heart of the theater district was new for me—i never live in this neighborhood or even stayed overnight there before.

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the last time i did a big walking tour for the blog, it was in the downtown direction along the river, so this time, i headed uptown, taking 9th avenue.

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you wouldn’t think that so much could change in the short time since i was here last, but wow, this city does NOT stand still. one thing i’ve noticed on every one of my recent trips is the increased use of bicycles to get around. you never used to see bikes piled up like this in the past; it’s fantastic. i imagine that more activity around the bike parking areas is also a deterrent to the theft that used to plague cycling commuters.

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and the trend toward biking has been helped along by the city-wide provisions to make cycling on city streets a safer affair for everyone. with dedicated bike lanes, cyclists have a bit more protection from traffic and there is reduced distraction for motorists as well. it would be so nice if we had these everywhere!

anyway, walking to the upper west side, i noticed several new constructions projects going up between familiar buildings as well as a new location of my favorite department store. i didn’t go in that day because i wanted to be outside as much as possible, but maybe i’ll duck in if i have a chance tomorrow.

next i wandered the streets near lincoln center and just above, looking at the the old brownstones and snapping photos of my friend kim’s favorite places, texting her teasers now and then. we SO enjoyed our last trip here together; i hope we can do that again soon.

i must have hit it just right for christmas tree discard day, haha; on one block i counted something like 25 trees. it’s not every day that you are treated to fresh balsam scent on the sidewalks of NYC. finally, i came out on columbus avenue, just at one of the entrances to central park.

i love this park—and i feel that it is so misunderstood by people who have never been there. first of all, central park is HUGE—so big that once you are inside, you can completely forget that a hectic, overcrowded city lays beyond its borders. the winding paths, the beautiful plantings, the open meadows take you away from all that. central park is often depicted on television and in books as a dark, sinister place where something bad is guaranteed to happen to anyone foolish enough to enter. but actually, it is just the opposite. it was developed and maintained as a place where city residents and visitors could enjoy passing time in a pastoral setting, far from urban stresses.

i know that for myself, i always appreciated the opportunities i had to traverse the park in my daily travels from one place to another; having those moments inside the quiet setting, walking tree-lined pathways was a valuable respite from the hustle bustle of midtown errands and meetings.

the park is made of many charming areas with separate identities—from the lake and boathouse to the bandshell and poet’s walk—even its own zoo—there is something for everyone. statuary, small architecture, and lovely seating abound. if you ever have a chance to visit, it’s really not to be missed; plan for at least a half day visit, maybe before or after one of the big museums which are situated on all sides of the park.

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i could have spent a couple more hours in the park, but decided to save the upper areas for sightseeing during my morning run the next day. i popped out on 5th avenue just across from the frick, where the line was around the block to see the dutch masters show, which included a few vergers, i believe.

by now it was growing dark and i realized i’d been walking for at least four hours—time really does fly when i’m having fun. i was also beginning to feel hungry and decided to head back toward the west side to find some good eats.

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heading across 57th street in midtown, i was hit with a blast form the past—one of the buildings that david and i worked in about a decade ago, when we were creating graphics presentations for a consulting firm.

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and right after that, our old subway station, where we caught the train back to brooklyn each afternoon. sigh. of course i texted him this photo right away.

back on 9th avenue, i took a tip from yelp and stopped in at pure thai cookhouse for a (very) late lunch. omg it was delicious; maybe even more so because i was ravenously hungry.  i highly recommend it for a quick meal.

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the rest of the weekend was a bit f a blur—from sunrise the next day until last evening, i was almost entirely consumed with teaching at the event. i got up early to catch a run or some gym time each day, in order to keep my wits about me, but there was very little time to get online or socialize. i did get a chance to visit and have dinner with kirsten kapur, gale zucker, and bev from trillium yarns; we had several hours to talk shop and enjoy each other’s company.

last night after the show was over, i traveled out to brooklyn to stay with my dear friend nancy; over knoshes and homemade soup, we talked the night away with cathy and it was the perfect end to the weekend.

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after a fantastic night’s sleep, i woke up to an orange-and-blue striped horizon, just beyond the expanse of brooklyn rooftops outside my window—how great is this?? i’m telling you, i felt like the luckiest knitter on earth.

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i grabbed my knitting and joined nancy for a cup of coffee and a little chat before we both settled in to work for a bit. and now, it’s time for me to head out and enjoy the day—the sun is out, the air is as warm as it’s going to be for some days ahead; i think a nice long run is in order!

i will be back in a few days when i’ve returned home with some updated knitting and all that. in the meantime, we have our special edition, limited run, bay leaf and lime kit to be released tonight at midnight—a pretty triangle shawl pattern plus an exclusive colorway of yarn hollow superior.

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in the grip

anne wrote this around lunchtime:

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are you keeping warm? we are having some incredibly cold weather here, although i hear that it’s going to break and “warm up” by later today. meaning that temperatures are going to climb all the way back into the 20s!!
(and i hear that by the weekend, they could reach 50 degrees; how crazy is that?). david pointed out the other day that it hasn’t ever been this cold since we moved to ohio eleven years ago. when i thought about it, i can’t even remember the last time we experienced this kind of cold anywhere we’ve lived.

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the old windows of our home are entirely criss-crossed with thick fingers of frost most of the day and an impenetrable layer of it at night—we can’t even see out. haha, our heat has been running nearly nonstop for several days and we don’t even keep the thermostat set very high—we prefer to burrow under piles of woolens whenever we can. lap blankets are a popular item in our house this week.

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in addition to that, i’ve been jonesing for a new cap to pull on for the outdoors; somehow i don’t seem to have just the right thing (i haven’t needed much more than an earband most years lately). i’ve started a cozy new hat in stone soup DK—the perfect weight and combination of fiber for extra warmth without too much heat. i found a nearly full ball of the slate shade in our grab bag of leftovers and cast on a stocking cap inspired by my waffle creams socks, one of my favorite designs (and i’ve yet to knit myself a pair, so the hat will be very welcome).

so—what’s been shaken’ since my last post? well for one thing, i can’t believe it is already eight days into the new year; 2014 is already flying by. we had a wonderful new year’s eve party, which turned out a little bigger than we planned, but that was good because nan and i cooked for all of mankind, haha.

we really enjoyed using the new kitchen throughout the holidays—we cooked every day and spent most of that time exclaiming over the new space. it’s not just that it’s all spiffy and clean with lots of counter space—it really feels good to cook in there. the lighting, the atmosphere, and the openness make it a great workspace with a good feel.

i made some appetizers but the nan cooked all kinds of thai food including my favorite dessert, sticky rice and mangoes

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it was AWESOME. we used this black rice, which cooks up with a gorgeous purple color and a lovely sweet taste, mmm. i need to make some more of that this weekend. the only thing i’m sad about is that we were both so busy working that i didn’t get to watch closely enough to see how my other favorite dishes are made—penang, coconut soup, ginger salad, a delicious, clear soup with stuffed cucumber, and several others that i can’t even name. i want her to come and live here, haha.

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we provided the food, while the boys and our friends provided the good company. several people came to settle in for the evening and then our neighbors all stopped by for brief visits as well (they’ve been anxiously awaiting a peek at our big house project). our living space is still a bit spare because we haven’t gotten all the furniture we need yet, but they filled it with good conversation, laughter, and music.

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i have SO missed the parties we used to have frequently when we lived in NYC. there, we had a good-sized group of oddly-assorted friends that gravitated to our place on holidays and random weekends and i was always happy to cook and provide a place to have a party. since we moved here, it has taken more time than i expected to establish a group connection for socializing (most of our friends have big families that they celebrate with), but now it feels like we are on our way.

our neighbor norma brought us an absolutely enchanting handmade gift, constructed from a discarded furnace filter and natural materials found in and around our little corner of the neighborhood.

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i just love it and have totally hogged it for myself, hanging it in one of my three office windows where i can look at it all the time. i have half a notion to make one of these as a full-sized window screen for the back workroom, if i can find an old furnace filter. a seriously cool gift, thank you, norma!

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when all the food was out and everyone had made themselves comfortable, nan and i joined the guests to enjoy the later part of the evening. once seated with a nice glass of wine, i pulled out my knitting and worked on the last of the bocce fingerless mitts that i knit in studio june springy sport yarn, colorways here comes trouble (left) and midnight teal (right). the pattern for these should be ready soon; i got a little behind at the the end of holiday week, but i’m catching up now.

after our guests left, david, nan, and i cleaned up and toasted in the new year when the fireworks went off at midnight. big hugs all around; we are so grateful to be a family together and to have everyone under one roof for a little while.

the next morning, everyone else slept in but it was race day for me—the first run of 2014. there are actually several in our city but i like the one that is held up the street at our college.

it was cold and snowy that morning, but actually, the almost identical weather we had on 1 january, 2013. i ran a lot faster than last year, though and came home with a prize, yay. when i got in, amad was up to greet me and take my picture. the boys love accumulating my race shirts, so he was eager to see what this one would look like.

another of their favorite things—fighting with uncle david, who for days at a time, had to fend off multiple nefarious villains

my very favorite moment was overhearing this conversation near the end of a particularly rough match:

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david (laughing): micah are you falling asleep??
micah: no, i’m shutting down.

(as if we’d be so lucky, haha). i thought you’d appreciate seeing the broad smile that response brought to david’s face; micah is endlessly entertaining.

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nan and the boys went home at the end of last week (just missing a blizzard) and the house was thrown rather abruptly into extreme quiet—way too quiet for me those first couple of days. i miss them SO much; how i wish they lived closer (like right across the street).

now it’s time to reorganizes and get back to a regular schedule. in about a week’s time i’ll be heading for NYC to teach at vogue knitting live!, so i need to buckle down and get a lot done before then. i have several patterns to write or finalize, some WIPs to finish up, and some new projects to get started. i like to get my paperwork squared away before travel so i can use any free time while away on knitting.

we also have more patterns in the queue for release, one of them the anxiously-awaited kit for bay leaf and lime.

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when sarah was away over christmas our photography got behind, but now that she’s back, we are moving forward with a photo shoot this weekend.

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and we plan to release it near the end of next week, once i’m off. there will be options for single or double dip with this kit.

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i’m swatching and starting a few new things—with this little scrap i am testing out a fingering weight version of our december club special edition yarn, festivus. the mill spun up our initial test batch at the wrong weight and rather than let it wallow in a storeroom somewhere, we thought it would be a terrific, limited edition valentine’s day kit—maybe something with which to kick off some red scarf knitting for next year. details to come . . .

when the weather is like this, it’s far too tempting (and safer, for the most part) to stay inside and knit, but i get stir-crazy, you know? i’ll be glad when it warms up enough to go for a run outdoors (and it looks like this afternoon might be a winner). on sunday, i took advantage of the warmer (i.e., anything over 15 degrees) afternoon weather to go for a long run and boy, did that feel good. i’m anxious to keep up my fitness over the winter. it was hard work, learning to run longer distances and i don’t want to lose it now—i’ve already signed up for a couple of long races in april that i want to be ready for.

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that said, in the middle of winter, i still feel the pull of my beloved wools and needles and feel no shame in enjoying the comfort of my knitting chair at night. what could be better than ousting on a book, settling in amongst a cheery pile of yarns with a blanket pulled over my lap and knitting into the wee hours?

isn’t that what selfish knitting month is all about?

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speaking of which, we still have spots available for our 2014 bare naked knitspot club, which begins shipping in february, with a whole new palette of earthy wools and luxury exotics from near and far. i hope you’ll join us and tell a friend; our wonderful membership provides the perfect camaraderie for  adventurous, fun, loving knitters like you!

cyclone and typhoon

anne wrote this at around evening time:

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wow, what a week it has been; thank you everyone for your enthusiastic response to the release of our winterwood shawl kit—it caused quite a little stir in our store, selling out in just a few short hours (seriously—thank you). many of you noticed and commented on the cute hat that sarah styled the outfit with. so many in fact, that is was clear what the next pattern release should be—nothing other than cyclone.

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didn’t recognize it exactly? that could be because we knit the gray sample in our stone soup fingering yarn; the design first appeared in FIFC 2012 as the november project, knit in fleur de fiber aries oceanus in the very popular abalone colorway. that version was modeled above by our dear friends at AVFKW, adrienne and kristine.

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cyclone is a soft, slouchy tam with an asymmetrical brim that can be worn in any position. a fiber blend containing both springy wool and something silky will make it drape nicely without losing its body or warmth.

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the garter stitch brim provides a cozy layer and stability around the ears, while the sides and top are worked in a swirl of openwork patterning that encourages drape and shape. it’s just what you need to solve the problem of those annoying bad hair days; just tuck it all inside and go.

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it’s funny, sometimes at wool shows i see one floating above the crowd; it’s a very eye-catching piece.

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now, no hat exists as an island—a beautiful hat just begs for some matching or coordinating accessories. with the leftover yarn from any size of this tam, you can knit these cut (and surprisingly warm) typhoon cuffs (pattern sold separately).

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our gray version captured so much attention the other day that nicole put together a kit that includes your choice of stone soup fingering yarn in any shade OR our ghillie sock in cream, plus the two patterns, cyclone and typhoon.

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while many of us are tucked in at home watching the blizzard rage outside, it’s not too early to be thinking of spring accessories and these will fit the bill perfectly, with a nice weight to keep the chill off, but a little openwork for ventilation on sunny days. plus, it’s an entertaining knit for the long winter nights that are left to go.

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for those lucky enough to live in more temperate conditions year round, accessories like these are just plain fun—convertible and comfortable, they go with everything.

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shown above, the large tam (left) and the medium tam (right) in fleur de fiber aries oceanus, colorway abalone

shown below, the medium tam knit in bare naked wools stone soup fingering yarn, color slate.

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the pattern includes instructions for three sizes to fit older children and adults alike. OH! and nan is wearing it here with the rain on a hot tin roof cowl (largest size), which our friend phoebe knit up for us in all four shades of stone soup fingering yarn

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to purchase patterns or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the cyclone page or here to visit the typhoon page in the knitspot pattern shop. or purchase the pattern in our ravelry pattern shop.

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cyclone and typhoon are also included in the FIFC 2012 eBook collection—14 terrific accessory patterns, each one multi-sized and suitable for gifting or keeping; many will have universal appeal for women, men, and children alike. purchase the eBook collection from the knitspot club website or in our ravelry pattern shop (it takes a few seconds to view).

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another fun thing to do—click here and here to view the project pages for cyclone and typhoon. see more examples of knit by club members and photographed on a variety of people and in alternate yarns. or better yet, join us in our swingin’ FIFC clubhouse or knitspot mothership for a KAL!

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speaking of club knits, we put heart and soul into creating wonderful packages with which to surprise our members each month. at the moment, signups are underway for our 2014 bare naked knitspot club—a celebration of the under-discovered side of the fiber world in all its natural, undyed glory.

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we scour the globe to find interesting yarns and the fiber story behind them, beautifully photographed and fully researched. each yarn selection is paired with a design that shows its character off to best advantage and sometimes we throw in a cool goodie for fun.

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our partners are all small business owners who care deeply about their role in putting farm fresh fiber products into knitters hands.

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all of this delivered right to your door, six times per year—what could be better? if that sounds fun to you, come join the flock!

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GOAL!!

a scholarship is born

anne wrote this mid-afternoon:

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we’ll be back soon with a number—it’s a big one!
ETA:—drum roll—with a final contribution from david and me, we’ve hit a grand total of $4,000

HAPPY NEW YEAR, a JOYOUS 2014 from your knitspot family