everyone at knitspot central has been working so hard the last few months; now that the great lakes fiber show is behind us we have a bit of a breather, so the first order of business was to have a little fun and throw ourselves a pizza night.
david and i prepared setups on monday for GF pizza shells, regular shells, and all manner of toppings. and since it was also doug’s birthday over the weekend, there had to be cake, too.
everyone put together the pizza of their choice—erica is vegan so she opted for veggies-only, but made a matching one to take home to emily, who couldn’t make it to the party.
i think doug was a little amazed at his pizza making success, haha; he might even try this at home.
after supper was cleared away, out came the cake—chocolate with chocolate frosting, yum!
doug showed us how it’s done by blowing out all the candles at once. of course we didn’t challenge him much by lighting one for each year . . .
our weekend at the fiber show was fun—it’s always great to visit with the friends we see at these events. thanks to all who made the trip to our spot under the grandstands; we SO appreciate you finding us.
while not our regular spot at the show, our space was a nice size and we were able to display quite a lot from our collection of samples—everything from the spring and winter ensemble collections was on parade, plus much more. our spring and summer yarns, lace weights, and stone soup fingering were the biggest hits at this show.
our next show is the michigan fiber festival in allegan, MI; our booth will be in the big new barn from 8/19 through 8/21—mark your calendars!
still working away on my illas cíes pullover in my spare time; i’m knitting my newest version in our hempshaugh fingering yarn, color buckwheat. we are restocked on most of the yarns that were sold out for little while after maryland, though a couple of those are already sold out again (thank you!).
i haven’t been able to work on this project as much as i’d like because i’m also knitting a secret project at the moment that’s a little time consuming (but SO worth it). that said, i’ve just about finished with this sleeve (#2) and after i bind off, i’ll just have the front to knit. and to be fair, this is supposed to be my relaxing vacation knit. but i’m chomping at the bit to get it done, too—i’m anxious to play around with those shorts i was talking about, especially now that the weather has turned so hot.
i also have several other projects started for the fall/winter ensemble that i need to prioritize before i get behind. i’ve been moving a little slow over the past week or two, but now that i’m feeling better, i think i’m about to launch into power knitting mode, haha.
plus, there is always something hanging around the edges of my well-organized (HA!) work life to derail me. these luscious little lovelies are test skeins for a yarn that’s been percolating in my head for a while—literally something new and shiny. they came in one of the boxes with the most recent shipment from our mill.
once i laid eyes on them, well, i just had to roll off a bit of each and do some swatching. i owe it to the mill to give prompt feedback after all . . .
when we get test skeins, i like to swatch them more or less equally in both stockinette and garter stitch.
plus some kind of pattern stitch—in this case, i chose a lace pattern.
they are a similar combination of fibers with one difference between them and the one on the right is spun a little finer as well. more about these as our testing progresses . . .
it’s almost strawberry season where we live—still a couple of weeks to go, but our plants are filling up with fruits. still small and green, they are almost like fairy fruits from another planet.
peas are up and reaching for the sun and the fence to climb on. everything we planted is thriving so far except for the green beans—they’ve been in the ground a little less long and i’m still waiting to see if they will appear. i confess i’m a little worried that they haven’t sprouted yet and have ordered another packet just in case. not that i usually have to worry about having enough green beans, hehe.
i tried a new (for me) experiment this year—propagating my own sweet potato plants. we usually get ours from our friend jeff, but he wasn’t sure he’d have enough to share this year (and has since come through with a batch for us; thanks jeff!), so i started on some of my own, since i still had a few nice ones from last year’s garden in the basement. even though i was a little behind in starting,i thought it was worth a trial run and i’m catching up fast since the weather warmed up.
basically you stick some toothpicks in a sweet potato and set it in a jar of water, stem end up (kind of like sprouting an avocado). after a couple of weeks, little sprouts will grow from the top. when they get a few inches high, you cut them out and put them in their own jar to grow roots. the old potato will continue to offer several generations of sprouts; jeff usually gets enough for his own garden and more to share with friends.
we have a neighbor family whose kids seem intent on making friends with david; i thought it would be fun to offer them some space in our garden to grow these over the summer.
okay, well someone was making some noise around here about needing to knit more, so i think it’s the hour to make that happen; see you next time!
Earlier today we began setting up our space/booth at the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster Ohio. Booth is located under the bleachers, not as bleak or dreary as it may sound, but a well lighted space. Unfortunately we are not on the official vendor list as there were some issues with registration.
Time: 10 to 5 on Sat (10/28) and 10 to 4 on Sun (10/29)
Great opportunity to meet Anne and Erica, I will be minding our Boutique (showroom) in Canton. Also, see the Ensemble Collection (Spring) in person, feel the quality of Bare Naked Wools yarn and lots of patterns to peruse. Will have more of BNW Ginny Sport, plus loads more of other yarn.
ahhh, warm weather at last—we have finally shifted into those lovely sunny days of early summer when the air is still cool in the morning and humidity is low. things seem particularly lush this year, despite the lack of winter snow; i guess we’ve had plenty of rain during the spring to make up for that. our surroundings are extravagantly green—except for the sky which is brilliant blue most of the day.
i think it’s going to be a perfect weekend for the great lakes fiber show (AKA “wooster”) where we will have a booth on saturday and sunday, may 28 and 29. but hey—it looks like we will not be in our usual spot, so please look for us if you visit the show!! we’re not exactly sure yet where we will be placed, but we may end up in the area under the grandstands.
this is usually a really fun show for us, when we get to see lots of local friends and visit with customers. we will have all of our yarns on show and boxes of patterns, including all of the spring and winter ensemble designs.
we’ll also be featuring those samples in our displays—if you enjoyed the photos in our spring ensemble look book, come feel the fabrics and see them in person. and of course there will be all manner of other samples available to see up close.
saw this patch of iris on my run today—BIG bold blooms of bright purple, almost the exact color of my new running shoes (i wasn’t seeking out purple shoes, but when i saw my favorite ones on sale i grabbed them in my size).
though it rained all day on saturday, we did manage to get ninety percent of the garden in the ground on sunday afternoon when it was cool and perfect. david made the planting mounds again this year, which worked out so well last year. he also opted to lay down this gardening fabric to cut back on weeding, the bane of his summer free time. we need all the help we can get.
we expanded our planting space a bit this year by creating a new tomato bed over by the garage, where our warmest, sunniest spot was pretty much going to waste. this gave us more space inside the garden fence near the house where we managed to get in quite a list of plants—everything from okra to cauliflower to lacinto kale. and there will be green beans—the seeds are soaking on the countertop now; i will likely plant them tomorrow.
with a little R&R under my belt and some breathing room (and regular running/thinking time again), my thoughts are turning to what’s next for my needles. aside from secret projects (there is always something afoot in that department) i am, believe it or not, already putting together my contributions to our fall/winter 2017 ensemble. now that the second one is complete, i want to get ahead on the next one, in the hope that we might bring it out a little earlier this time.
and we are terribly excited about the response by fellow designers to our call for submissions this time—we chose a wide array of contributions and i’m super pumped about the variety of fall/winter projects that will be included.
oh, these swatches are not for that project however, haha. i’m also working on a new group of little nothings scarves—you remember those fun, simple, “potato chip” projects? everyone enjoys them so much (they are still some of our best selling designs); i feel it’s time to freshen up that collection with some new choices. more on that project in the weeks ahead.
while i have to work on mostly wooly projects over the summer, i will have some time to indulge myself in experimenting. you know by now how very much i love our hempshaugh yarn—the blend of hemp, silk, and a bit of merino is SO comfortable, cool, and dry to wear on the hottest days; i’m completely smitten with it, both in the knitting and especially the wearing.
well—and don’t laugh—i’ve had a bee in my bonnet to make myself a new pair of long shorts with it. i have a couple pair made from linen that i wear almost exclusively once it gets hot, but i could use another couple. and i’d like ones that are a little more dressy—as much as shorts can be. i am a pants person at heart, after all. so i’m going to go for it with our hemshaugh fingering in the kasha color. hopefully i’ll have them finished when the real heats descends on us.
meanwhile i am rolling along on my illas cíes pullover in that same yarn, this time in the buckwheat shade. i’ve got the back and one sleeve complete.
and the second sleeve is on the needles. this is a great project for me to knit on the go or when i want to veg out a bit—by now i have it so memorized that it really flies along (and you will too; you’ll see!). i can’t wait to have it finished—i keep dreaming that it might be in time for wooster, but i don’t know if i can pull that off, haha.
right now is the perfect time to have a sweater like this—while the days are warm and sunny enough for t-shirts, i’ve been wanting to pull on a light sweater after dark and this one, with its built in ventilation is just right.
once we had a few days to settle in after being away at the sheep and wool show, we got down to the intense work of discussing recipes and cooking up dishes for our pairings club menu. there was a lot to cover over the week i’d be there and we wanted to make sure we included a variety of interesting, seasonal ingredients as well as unusual picks from more far flung places. get any two cooks into a kitchen together and food ideas will soon start flying, books will be pulled form the shelves, and favorite chefs will be mentioned. there was so much to squeeze into four courses!
and so many dogs to help with that.
because i got to bed earlier there than i normally do at home, i was awake at dawn and spent several quiet hours knitting to start each day—it was heavenly.
katharine’s yard was busting out new and more beautiful blooms each day
and all manner of birds visited her feeders as well.
the hydrangeas were absolutely stunning—in the most perfect of stages, some still had that fresh, new green color i love. the tornado just missed getting them, all escaped unharmed by staying in their buds throughout.
at home we are at least a month out from hydrangea blooms—which i adore—so this was a real treat for me.
day by day my sweater back grew while i enjoyed these peaceful hours. it was just what the doctor ordered after two solid months of nonstop activity here at knitspot central.
on saturday we took a ride downtown to walk around old wilmington and see the beautiful homes, churches, and waterfront attractions.
this church is a marvel of roofing finesse—i can’t even fathom how those slates are installed (the angle is almost vertical), but they were recently replaced after a bad storm tore most of them down, so it can’t be impossible. i SO want to climb up to look out those windows, don’t you?
we hit the small farmer’s market at midmorning to search for a few ingredients we were missing for our last menu recipe.
it was filled with flower stalls, plant stalls, and those filled with early vegetables and fruits.
katharine made a beeline for the peonies (her favorite) and snagged a beautiful bunch of nearly unopened blooms. i scored a small container of the most awesome freshly ground roasted peanut butter i think i’ve ever tasted—just miraculous (yes, peanut butter can be!). we ate that with apples later on that day.
i also spotted a dog collar that just had to be peppa’s. she may not be a knitspot fan yet, but she will be. as soon as she learns to knit.
next we made our way to the cotton exchange, a pre-civil war complex of brick buildings that now houses shops along its cool interior passages, while maintaining some of the historical elements from its earlier days.
the rabbit warren effect of the conjoined buildings work in its favor—one can duck in and out of the heat to visit retail establishments or linger in the less populated stairwells to admire the architecture.
i really enjoyed this painting which is a study by ronald williams of the 1873 painting by edgar degas named the cotton office in new orleans. i didn’t really realize degas had been to the american south and painted there, but now i know he was; while the original was composed in degas’ studio, he combined elements he picked up from his travels in new orleans with models from his own family.
nearby, an old cotton bale sits on a wagon that was rolled to a spot just under the scale attached to a ceiling beam.
on the way back to the car we took the “walk of fame” over tiles memorializing well-known performers, athletes, and other distinguished natives of wilmington.
we had plans to go to another local attraction later in the afternoon, but stopped home to grab some lunch and get the flowers into a vase of water—it was a hot, muggy day. peppa seemed quite proud of her new collar; maybe it will inspire her to knit or at least to join ravelry?
once refreshed, we headed to the airlie gardens to enjoy some of the seasonal blooming plants and a 467-year-old oak tree.
the oaks were indeed magnificently bearded with moss that waved in a brisk breeze and made light shows with the sun pouring through.
all over wilmington the magnolias were opening that day; most were just barely popping out of their husks but a few were fully opened to plate-sized flowers.
several weddings were taking place at once in various garden areas from a spot under the old oak to one at the gazebo end of this path to the old church housed on its grounds.
the jasmine arches were breathtaking and we felt lucky to have seen them at their peak moment.
our main mission was to visit the bottle chapel, designed by Virginia Wright-Frierson and completed by a group of wilmington artists in 2004 as a memorial to minnie evans, a self-taught folk artist who was the gatekeeper at the gardens in her later years, from 1948 to 1974.
minnie sold her artwork at airlie through exhibitions she held on the grounds, sometimes with her paintings spread out right across the lawn.
the bottle chapel design, built from over 4000 bottles, metalwork armature, and concrete, incorporates figures and fauna of the type that appeared in many of minnie’s paintings, which were inspired by life in the gardens.
up close the surfaces created by every type of bottle imaginable ripple and unfold in waves of abstraction
stepping back you can see the larger compositions pull together from those elements.
the chapel has a definite relationship to a southwest or mexican style of architecture, though i’m not sure yet why. it was a real treat to be able to take it in on a sunny day when the bottles sparkled with light.
the lively kaleidoscope of color was repeated all around as we walked the paths to the exit; even in the tiniest of hidden places.
one last treat was the cemetery behind the old church housed on the grounds, with graves from the last century—so poignant.
there is even a mystery grave for an unknown person. it was interesting to see that each grave had both a headstone and smaller foot stone; i can’t remember seeing that before.
one small headstone caught my attention and i pointed it out to katharine—martha b, are you reading the blog today? i’m not trying to creep you out, but we thought this was kind of cool.
on the way home we ran an errand at the asian grocery where we got sucked in to walking the aisles to poke around in row upon row of unusual packages and ingredients. i desperately wanted to buy this breakfast cereal for the promises made on the package alone—who wouldn’t want to?—but i saw that the third ingredient is wheat so i left in on the shelf.
at home, the dogs had the right idea—time to lounge around and rest; we were tired! we didn’t cook that day so we ate an early dinner of yummy leftovers from our week’s work and planned our last recipe test for sunday. and evening of knitting and watching TV followed.
katharine swatched for her own illas cíes pullover project while i continued work on my sweater back until my head began to droop.
sunday was a work day—in fact dessert day! and if you think this is a dish of blueberries well, i’m just going to let you think that, because what we made is a secret. the day flew by in a flash and our evening was sort of the same.
pretty soon it was monday morning and the end of my visit—boohoo! over coffee we evaluated katharine’s sweater swatches (she’s knitting her illas cíes in ginny sport, color georgia—she was smart and bought some before our spring ensemble went live).
i put the finishing touches on my back piece and then cast on for a sleeve to knit during the plane trip home.
the dogs were alert that something was about to go down so they hung close all morning. they’re so sensitive, it’s really cute. we had a few things to do before heading to the airport, but eventually it was time to say goodbye and get on the plane.
well, thought i’d get more knitting done but i started dozing during my second flight and that was that.
back home i hit the ground running the very next day—there is always much to do after i’ve been away for a while and this time i was gone over a week. david has made good progress on preparing the garden and now we had everything in place for planting, yay. that was our weekend goal.
next to the garage, the poppies are popping—i saw the first one on wednesday when i got back from getting my hair cut (much needed, haha). now this lone pink one has been joined by a red one.
that afternoon i took out the finished pieces for the salt & pepper top i’d completed in NC and prepared them for seaming by pinning and steam blocking.
i wove in all my ends and started seaming at knit night that evening and finished before going to bed.
on thursday i woke up with a raging sore throat and a small fever, probably contracted during my flight—too much burning the candle at both ends lately as well. so i made an executive decision to stay off the computer and away from the office. instead i doctored myself and listened to a book while working on my neck and armhole finishes.
except for a short bit of harvesting in the garden . . .
the spinach and asian greens i planted in march really took off during the week i was away and now there are plenty of stir-fry greens to be had. not to mention a carpet of volunteer cilantro from seeds that blew across the path from where it lived last summer.
the small clump of hardy spinach that lived through the winter and began filling out again in april had quadrupled in size and was even beginning to bolt a bit, so they needed attention before we lost them. i cut off all the large leaves, which filled a good sized basket, yay. david is downstairs cooking them now into a pasta dish that he makes very well. and still i left behind plenty of small leaves to grow in; we’ll probably get another picking out of that clump. meanwhile, the new spinach plants are growing rapidly, though they didn’t germinate as plentifully as i’d hoped.
by late afternoon my sweater finishes were all done and i put it into a hot soapy bath to soak while i took a nap. of course, i didn’t wake up in an hour or so as planned, but slept til the middle of the night! no matter, it was fine to rinse and wet block at that hour.
the neck of the salt & pepper top is devised to be loose enough to slump a little at the front, forming a very short cowl (or you could go crazy and make it long! in the last sample i knit,i didn’t support it as it dried and i think that allowed it to shrink back a bit. so this time i supported the neckband with a rolled up washcloth to prevent it shrinking back.
much better. don’t be afraid to change or tweak these details to your liking—your finished sweater should be just what you want it to be. if you prefer the neckband sucked in and flattened all the way around, then pick up fewer sts around that lower curve and/or use a needle one size smaller.
sometimes i knit a neckband or sew in a sleeve two or three times until i’m satisfied; it’s not that the pattern isn’t “right” but that for my personal knitting style and/or fit preferences i may need to tweak it. better to spend a few extra hours getting it right than to have invested lots of hours in something i won’t wear because a small detail is off.
it’s true that sometimes i just want to finish and not fiddle, but if it turns out to need changes, a day’s rest from the project will usually reignite my interest in making it perfect, especially if i really like it overall. i’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, but that’s a whole other blog post.
and right now i kind of feel like this dead monkey toy (peppa’s, i believe)—still not 100 percent. so i’m going to stop now and take up my knitting for some quiet time. see you in a few days!