pedal pusher

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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as i sit up in my office on the second floor of our house, i can’t help but notice that in the cooled evening air, there is a scent of dried leaves that adds a definite note of the autumn weather to come.

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i’m also laughing my head off every time i think about the photo shoot we did last night out on the street below. . .

barb, in her own personal film, hamming it up for the camera while she shows off her newly completed pedal pusher cardigan, knit in light and lofty bare naked wools kent worsted.

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the neighbors nearly split a gut laughing at us—barb, cool as a cucumber in a turtleneck and wool sweater in the 90-degree heat and me running up and down the street with the camera to get shots from every angle.

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at least they thought we were “cute” instead of insane (which is probably more accurate, haha.

this time i didn’t allow her to do her “sultry” look again; it was smiles for miles only. oh, we did some shots where she was standing still as well

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the catalog shot as she looks into the sunset

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the quintessential autumn apple picking shot over at a neighbors house (who doesn’t seem to have apple stealing squirrels like we do).

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beautiful side shots to show off the cabled detailing along the raglan seams.

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some with the garment unbuttoned and then buttoned up tight so you’ll know it looks good both ways.

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and of course a sexy backside shot to show you how beautifully this casual-fitting sweater looks on her figure, even without shaping.

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but our favorites by far were the ones on the bike.

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thank goodness she’s a great sport.

barb chose kent DK for her test knit, which has stellar drape—just the right amount to knit a fabric that skims the body without losing its grip. it won’t sag or slide into an overgrown garment just from being worn a few times. yet, it has an elegant hand with a pearly sheen that screams “sophisticated”, even in a casual garment like pedal pusher.

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it was a little over one year ago that i completed my prototype of this sweater, which is modeled here by lauren in our confection worsted yarn.

my idea was to create a wool sweater that would be easy to wear for commuting by bicycle. light and airy enough to wick away moisture from under layers (i like to go fast on my bike, so i need that), but warm too, for battling a brisk fall breeze.

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my version has the optional side entry pockets with the same cabled detail as the front edges and seams—super handy for any bike commuter.

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and it looks great once you hop off and shed the helmet—no one at work or in the store would know you had your riding gear on.

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being a hard wearing 3-ply yarn (as opposed to the kent, which is two-ply and slightly more textured), confection is lush and spongy, with a smooth surface—that translates to a squishy fabric with super-consistent stitches and great definition for those cables.

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made from springy, light corriedale wool, it holds its shape well; the shades of this wool are clear and bright.

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shown above, size medium in confection worsted, color dark chocolate, with multi-tone bone buttons

shown below, size 1X in kent worsted, color driftwood, with mocha buffalo horn buttons

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i just love how the neutral shades of these yarns do so much to highlight lauren and barb’s pretty hair color and skin tones. and they look great with all the colors and fabrics in your wardrobe too.

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to purchase in our knitspot online shop and here to purchase in my ravelry pattern shop.
(if you wish the pattern to appear in your ravelry library, please use this ravelry store link, thanks!)

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get ready for fall by setting off on a sweater knitting adventure! meet up with us in the BNWs rav group threads to knit along and post updates on your progress. pedal pusher could be your rhinebeck sweater; its easy to knit design has no seaming, so once it’s off the needles, you are done—you have plenty of time to finish if you start one now. what’s not to love?

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looks great both up close and from a distance; this is a terrific piece to fill out your cold weather wardrobe which you will turn to again and again as the colors of fall surround you.

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mayan puzzle

anne wrote this around lunchtime:

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with hints of crisp weather in the evening air and a big yarn sale starting tomorrow on our legacy breakfast blend DK (fingering too!), we all agreed this would be the perfect time to open pattern sales for my mayan puzzle jacket.

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this design has been trying to get out of my head and onto paper ever since i published the aztec mazes pullover some years ago, but i had a secret longing to rework it in winter white—i just thought that would be stunning, you know?

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well it was some time before the right cream yarn came my way and not until we began spinning our own brand that i finally had it in my hands. almost hilariously, i now have several options that are perfect for this design, among them Ghillie sport/DK (shown above in cream), kent DK (shown below in beach glass), breakfast blend DK (25% off starting tomorrow!), and luscious confection sport.

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the choice of using kent DK was made by our friend katharine, who knit the gorgeous sample that brad is wearing in the photo above. i wasn’t sure the kent would have the right amount of body for this design, but wow—i had nothing to fear; it’s just beautiful. and so light and airy with lots of bounce—thank you katharine!

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i actually got serious about getting this pattern published when we started carrying the ghillie sport/DK—this was the yarn i dreamed of. close on its heels came the confection sport and it, too, is a perfect choice. both of these yarns are light and springy with a hard-wearing 3-ply construction that offers excellent stitch definition.

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when we received our sample in ghillie knit for us by kathy in size small, tears literally sprang to my eyes as i pulled it out of the box, so perfect a match it was to the picture i held in my head for this design (thank you kathy, from the bottom of my heart).

i’ve been having a lot of fun styling it, since it fits my dress form so well.

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last night i sewed on the buttons, which i chose from our selection in natural materials—i liked these two-tone buffalo horn ones with this yarn, but we have several that will work.

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the ones katharine’s beach glass sample are simple black horn, for instance.

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and then there is this knockout version knit by anne marie in briar rose wistful—isn’t that gorgeous? BTW you can see this one and our ghillie sample in person if you visit our booths at this weekend’s michigan fiber festival.

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this is size medium and in the draper alpaca/silk/merino blend, it has a looser, more relaxed fit; if you choose a yarn like this and you are between sizes, it’s probably best to stick with the smaller size to allow for that relaxation.

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the sweater is knit in one pice to the underarms, then divided to work the yoke and shoulders. it has a looser, less tailored construction known as a modified drop shoulder (or t-shape), but the cable detailing along the side seam area and armscye helps to stabilize the shape.

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the entire garment is characterized by its texture—strong and defined, it is fun to work and makes a great statement.

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i had thought that it wouldn’t be appealing as a “guy” jacket, but again i was wrong—it is smashing and some guys will totally rock that look.

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to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to purchase in our knitspot online shop and here to purchase in my ravelry pattern shop.
(if you wish the pattern to appear in your ravelry library, please use this ravelry store link, thanks!)

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looks like we’re going to have some terrific weather for the show this weekend—if you are going, please be SURe to stop by to say hi andsnap a photo with us!

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sunday is rest day

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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in some alternate universe, this is how my sunday morning should have looked. i planned well ahead that it would anyway, in the kitchen til well after midnight on saturday getting all the garden produce cooked and stored so that i had nothing to do on sunday morning but knit and go for a run.

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a quick note before you read on—craftsy is extending their weekend sale til tuesday. over 400 classes at $19.99 or less available through my affiliate link (clicking the link activates your savings code and earns a little extra for us, no matter which classes you choose). if you have a wealth of garden produce like mine, you might be looking for new ways to use those extra vegetables. this offer can be used on wonderful classes in cooking, canning, baking, knitting, sewing and so much more—learn something new at a great discount (usually about half the original price).

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saturday’s garden haul was quite substantial—more than i expected, having been out to collect stuff the previous day. i went out early to cut a bunch of greens and whatever beans were ready so we could cook those with salmon for a post bike ride saturday dinner. i figured if i cleaned them in the morning and out them away, it might make short work of what would be a late evening meal.

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and yes there were greens and beans as always, but also so much more that i hadn’t planned on—so many eggplant they were dragging the plants over, squash (what else is new??), peppers, and yes, you are seeing right—those are red ripe tomatoes, finally!

and out of nowhere in fact; one day they were stubbornly green and the next there were a dozen red ones. and today there were more—go figure.

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also another batch of tiny power greens—little leaves from around the bottoms of the collards and chard plants that are tender, tasty, and perfect for our salads. plus, they are free, as opposed to those salad mixes that come in the plastic boxes.

and just for good measure, the butternut squash report:

growing very fast now and the color is starting to change . . .

once back inside i got the fresh bunch of veggies cleaned and put away, but by then it was mid morning and time to get out for a run before the heat became a challenge.

still no knitting done, ACK! (that first photo was just a posed shot; it didn’t really happen, haha)
but i can show you my progress from the last few nights anyway.

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my back piece is nearing completion as i have now passed the armhole bind off and begun the armscye shaping.

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from here it will go very quickly; i cannot wait to get it done, sew up the shoulder seams and start the cowl neck. i am so looking forward to creating that feature! i have something special in mind and i just hope it works. it’s either that or something very traditional but very appealing.

you know, that’s something that always sort of haunts me—i often have two or even three design solutions to a particular part of a garment and it’s very difficult to narrow my choice to a decision. i marinate and marinate, wondering what knitters would like best—something jazzy and different, but maybe a little risky? something super appealing but seemingly not unusual? which to go with?

sometimes i can do both but sometimes it’s just too awkward to offer both. i wonder too if it’s really a good idea to water down the impact of one strong design by offering alternatives.

by the way, i know it seems like i am working through this garment at an unusually slow pace, but i also have another secret project on the needles that i’m motoring through at the moment. i cannot wait to unveil that but it will be some time before i can.

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and there are other very worthy things that take me away from my knitting time—opportunities that i wouldn’t pass up for anything. like yesterday’s neighborhood block party—i love this event, held once each year in august at the park around the corner. this year i worked at the food table which is a great place to see and speak with nearly everyone who comes to the event.

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the food table was positioned right across from the balloon sculpture station, easily the most popular draw of the day. i got to see and talk to so many excited kids—and feed them sugar to fuel their happiness. hey—they weren’t coming home with me!

after the block party i went for a long bike ride with david; on the way back the sky was a symphony of the most beautiful blues—all sorts of soft aquas, ceruleans, and marine blues. what a sight—no photo since we were traveling at about 20 mph at the time, but wow; wish i could have captured that.

we didn’t finish supper til almost 11 pm but i really wanted to get the vegetables cooked if i could. i felt energetic so i got up form the table and started in while david cleaned up.

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then he offered to help me and i took him up on it—wow, that really made the task go faster and before i knew it, we had a HUGE pot of ciambotta going. ciambotta is a lot like ratatouille, but also has celery, carrots, and potatoes in it and no wine. but the real truth is that these dishes are always made with whatever is on hand or fresh that day or how grandma made hers, so the recipe varies.

while i was at it i also put on a pot of vegetable stock from the last few days of gleanings (back burner, above). ends, stalks, peels and such all go into that; later i use it for soup, to cook rice and grains, or as cooking liquid in curries and sauces.

finally around 1 am, i shut off the gas and left everything to cool overnight while i got in a few rows and a TV show or two before bed.

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when i got up this morning, i ladled all of it into cartons for the freezer and then headed out to garden to pick some basil before the sun got hot.

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each carton got a topping of fresh picked basil leaves and a lid, then into the freezer so we can enjoy them after the garden is gone for the year.

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i’ve got one more chore to take care of but not today—sooner or later though, i have to face the what lies under those newspapers.

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some tomatoes, yes, but even more importantly, a schlew of perfectly ripe peaches that won’t last forever.

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we’ve been enjoying them one or two at a time since barb brought them over last weekend; she was kind enough to pick me up a box on her way home from north carolina.

while i don’t really need to store any more frozen ones for winter (i have plenty), i could do that if i don’t find another use for them. however, the memory of last weekend’s peach pie is still strong on my mind and neither of us would object to a cobbler either. i find the luxury of having fresh peach baked good almost too appealing—why settle for frozen ones later if i can enjoy fresh ones now?

so i will have to find time for that in the coming days because they won’t hold forever . . .

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those ripe red tomatoes were burning a hole in my culinary imagination all day—i’ve waited a year to fast those first ones and i didn’t want to put it off any longer. so after this evenings bike ride, i fired up the oven and roasted them with a head of our fresh garlic and some minced hot pepper.

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while the oven worked its magic on them, i chopped some squash, peppers, eggplant and onions, heated a skillet, and started browning everything with some anchovies.

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it was puttanesca time, baby.
the vegetables are not really a necessity in this dish but we like them and since the whole design of the recipe is to use whatever is in the cupboard, i’m going for it.

well, it was really REALLY good, but i was so hungry and excited by the time i plated it that i forgot to take a photo—maybe with the leftovers later this week, haha.

and now it is very late indeed on sunday night; time to quit this and go put my feet up to knit and watch TV. maybe an apple for a snack.

i will be back later this week with more; hopefully more as in more knitting.

 

oooh, pretty shiny

anne wrote this in the early evening:

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nothing makes me happier than seeing guests settle in and really relax in our home. we all work hard, you know? it’s so good to spend time  just enjoying each other’s company once in a while.

when we were planning katharine’s visit in the previous weeks, i offered up a number of “activities” we could do during her stay, to which she’d reply that she’d be up for anything, followed by the caveat that she’d be just as happy to simply hang out and knit. she said it so many times that i finally got the message—i should let her knit, haha!

she arrived with two shawl projects on the needles, one of them an artichaut shawl that was very close to completion. and you know what that means, right? BLOCK PARTAY!!

so throughout the the weekend whenever we were not on the move, she took up her place on the other end of our dining room sofa (one side is my campout spot) and worked away on the last six rows of her shawl, which she opted to knit in our chebris mohair/merino lace yarn in the silvery dragée shade (back in stock very soon).

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the pattern includes instructions for both lace and sport weight yarns—and coincidentally we do also carry chebris in sport weight—but our lace is a little heavier than the original lace yarn used in the design. katharine compensated by using a size 5US (3.75 mm) needle to keep the fabric as light and airy as the original.

yes we occasionally got out for the odd walk or neighborhood bike ride, and i definitely had to attend to multiple other duties in the adjacent kitchen, but katharine was diligent about staying her course while i steadily moved from one task to another. the place was a veritable beehive of project activity.

even though she stopped often to coo over the yarn and how pretty it worked up into the pattern, she made excellent headway and by monday morning it was time to bind off and see what she had made.

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just a little quirk of mine . . . i always like to get a good look at the “before fabric”, taking a mental snapshot (or in this case an actual one) of the texture and density. i do the same with the drape—i pick up the piece and lay it against a few different surfaces to assess the hand, so i can compare that with the “after” fabric.

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i ran a soapy hot bath while she was in the shower and plunged the shawl in for a good soak.

and while the soak was doing its magic, we had more company—heidi (author of embraceable ewe designs) and her friend donna had driven over from ligonier, PA that day to visit our shop.

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we spent the next hour or more chatting with them about yarn, knitting, and designs—heidi brought along the completed fair isle cardigan which she knit in our breakfast blend fingering yarn last year.

i feel badly because i really wanted to take a photo of her wearing this sweater but we were talking so much that i just managed to grab a quick shot of it folded up. darn! but isn’t it beautiful? she says she wore it a LOT last winter because while lightweight, it was incredibly warm. and she should know; she lives on a farm in the mountains and spends a good deal of time outdoors.

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heidi picked out yarn for a few new designs—confection sport in white chocolate for an aran sweater she will knit for a friend, chebris sport in dragée to knit herself another cardigan, and she cleaned out our supply of ginny sport in texas to knit a shetland style square for her new grand baby, due in a few months. once you get the yarn in your hands, it’s hard to stop—ask me how i know . . .

even katharine, who had a pile of yarn waiting in my office that she reserved by email before arriving, could not resist when we started passing the yarn around. she fell in love with the ginny cotton sport as well and decided that as soon as our new colors arrive this month, she will purchase some for a project (i can’t remember if it’s  sweater or a baby blanket). in the meantime, she consoled herself with a couple skeins of the ginny DK to knit a soft slouch potato hat for a friend who is receiving chemo treatments.

as with every guest that comes to see us, it was such a pleasure to spend time with heidi and donna that day. we are always happy to open the shop during off-hours with a little advance notice, so don’t hesitate to give us a ring if you are coming to canton and want to stop by. and if you come during wednesday knit night, you’ll get to meet barb as well—now that’s worth the trip, haha.

after our visit i had to scoot to a meeting—we are planning an exciting new way to show off our yarns beginning in january—so katharine went back to the house to pin out her shawl. when she was done it was time for monday afternoon class and she got to meet all of my local knitting friends.

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i had some cherry crumble bars saved aside in the freezer for the occasion, which i think everyone enjoyed.

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i worked on the back piece of my second top design in the millet shade of hempshaugh lace—though work has been a little slow on it, i am homing in on the finish of this piece.

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i am ready now to bind off the armholes and shape the yoke, which i plan to do tonight; i can’t wait to finish and see what it feels like.

katharine sat next to me oohing and ahhhing over her choice of ginny DK—it really is a softness bomb—which got me dreaming about what i would knit with it when this hemp top was off the needles.

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i’m thinking that a scrumptiously loose, long-sleeved thermal stitch henley shirt will be just the thing to take me through the fall and again to wear in spring. in fact, i might need one of those in every shade. doesn’t that sound yummy?

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that girl—we always laugh at the tangles she manages to create. here, she has somehow gotten her knitting yarn all tied up around the chair leg—how does this happen?

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after class, we were famished so we took ourselves off to try a new restaurant that opened in town last week. then it was home to put our feet up and enjoy a knitting evening while watching episodes of a chef’s life (i’m a huge fan and katharine says we can go there when i visit her some day).

while we knit we appreciated the shawl, which was pinned out near our feet. excuse the rather poor photos; i had to take all of them after dark under electric light.

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see what i mean about the fabric? it is drastically different after a good soak. first of all, the lace opens up to reveal its true beauty. but the washed fiber also just shimmers with light.

i also love the little shaded variations within the yarn; they add to the highlighting effect (however, the “ring” of darker fabric that you see around the hem is merely an extra spray of water that is applied to the almost-dry fabric after pinning out, to help the blocking hold its shape).

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katharine did an absolutely beautiful job of both knitting and blocking it, didn’t she? she cast on over memorial day weekend and cast off just at the start of august, so the shawl took about two months of work (and i’m pretty sure she knit on a couple of other things in that time). but totally worth the effort—she will wear this for years and years.

and she was so cute—that night while we watched TV, she kept checking the fabric to see if it was dry enough to unpin. it felt dry but we wanted to be sure so she let it sit another hour and finally we agreed she should take it up and see the results of her work.

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oh my—the fabric was like liquid silver as it draped over my lap—it fairly GLOWED (and this is in bad light; can you imagine what the sun would do for it?). wow, now i want one! but in all honesty, i should design something new; this yarn deserves its own shawl.

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the stitch definition is really something—while the fabric has definitely lost a lot of that depth it had in the “before” photo, it has gained immeasurably in other ways by blocking. the depth it has now is more ethereal and illusory—much preferred for a light and airy shawl than actual thickness. the pattern takes advantage of the sheen in this yarn by directing the highlights this way and that to create mesmerizing shadow play.

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it was still dark in the morning when i got up but i draped the shawl on the form to capture a few images anyway; maybe some day i can get some in sunlight.

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i can’t remember if katharine knit the petite or the tall size—maybe she will comment and let us know. but certainly on the bigger needles with the slightly heavier yarn, she ended up with a generously sized shawl.

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you can see what i mean about the depth and texture here—it is not at all lost by being rigorously stretched and blocked. there is plenty of depth and definition in the pattern while offering the sense of a most delicate fabric.

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and the beautiful scalloped edges stay put almost permanently because lace patterning on both sides of the fabric locks in the curvy shape.

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that’s why a very loose bind off is a great skill to develop—you might need it to finish a shawl like this, which shouldn’t be shortchanged at the very last by binding off too tightly.

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when katharine came down just before leaving for her next stop, i asked her for a modeling shot or two, just for fun.

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(i personally think the bright pink shorts are brilliant, haha)
she’s so happy with it and she should be—it’s a work of art and she created it!

soon after, off she went into the sunrise—on to her next adventure. it was wonderful weekend and i hope she comes back. i love it when friends visit (and relatives too, MOM!).

speaking of driving off into the sunrise, david and i will be packing a van full of yarn goodness and delicious extras to take with us to the michigan fiber festival next weekend.

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if you live anywhere nearby, this is your chance to see our yarns in person and feel for yourself the luxurious artisan craftwork spun into each skein. we’ll have all of our favorites as well as the new offerings (well, as long as we aren’t sold out!).

this is a great opportunity to forego shipping charges by having us bring your order to the show—you can email david or erica, using the email form in the right-hand column; they will fix you up with whatever you need

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last year we were outside near the parking lot, but this year we think we’ve secured a spot in the barn (it’s been inconclusive, but we think it’s settled now). if not our old place is still secured.

and lastly, in mid-september i will will be traveling to chicago to teach at windy knitty; it will be a weekend of trunk show, yarn tasting, lace knitting and finishing classes—i hope to see some of you there!

david is making faces at me that it’s time to get out on our bikes if we want to beat the sunset, so i’m going to boogie—please excuse any typos; i will proofread after our ride. have a splendid weekend; the weather is supposed to be fine.