caravan and kent—a love story

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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a few weeks ago when we released the first design for the bare naked knitspot 2014 knitting club, we focused on the newest addition to our bare naked wools yarn collection—a worsted weight version of our kent merino/romney blend. this utterly squishaliscious selection knits up into the most delectable cables, knit/purl textures, and plain stockinette—all of which we got a taste of in the projects for that first shipment.

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we gave our clubbies first crack at purchasing the stock we had—for one week it was theirs alone. we thought we had tons enough on hand to list in the shop for general release, but by that monday, our shelves were swept clean of every salable skein we had!

so we were forced to delay the release of the yarn in our online store and also the patterns we planned to roll out with it.

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like this timelessly classic blanket, the caravan throw, which so many of you have written me about. our dear friend anne marie knit up this gorgeous sample in the new kent worsted; isn’t it great?

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you may also notice that with this new addition comes a new shade of kent—we’re calling it driftwood; we’ve got that in our kent DK as well, in case you prefer a lighter weight yarn.

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we showed the DK version in one of the slouch potato hats you saw on the blog last friday.

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months ago, when we laid plans for the release of this yarn and patterns, i never dreamed that this late in march we’d still be lusting to knit blankety weight items like the caravan pieces. and when we ran out of the yarn in february, i had every reason to believe that we might even miss the cold weather entirely before we could get restocked.

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yet here it is, the beginning of spring and wa-LA! still windy and icy cold most days and today—SNOW flying all about and piling up very quickly.

i do love to sit down in the evening with my current blanket or large shawl to cover my legs while the wind whines and whistles through the eaves of the house.

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and now we have the yarn for it. still in limited quantities, but enough to put together some kits—this caravan blanket is one—and still have single skeins available too. just in time to celebrate the fact that kent worsted is trending pretty high right now on the ravelry yarn page.

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(anne C. is laughing because she now lives most of the time in north carolina, where spring really HAS begun). she’s in town this week, but something tells me she’ll be hightailing it back there sooner than later . . .

she’s not laughing about the yarn though—that she really likes. in fact as far as i know, everyone who has some is really liking it. this was kind of a test for us; we’re trying to decide if we should make the worsted weight permanent and have it spun in all sheds of kent. let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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remington (we call him remy) likes the blanket too—just saying’.

shown above, the lap size blanket in bare naked wools kent worsted, color driftwood. kit available too! click here to purchase or to view more information.

shown below, the baby square in snow leopard trust handspun mongolian camel, color desert.

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or maybe you’ve had a yen for something to wrap yourself up in for stepping out, day or night—we’ve got you covered for that too, with the caravan scarf or wrap.

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something a little more personal, this pattern offers three great quick-knitting options for giving or keeping: a scarf and two wraps to knit in worsted weight opt aran yarn.

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again, this was one of the original pieces from the february 2013 club pattern package and part of the 2013 BNK eBook, which contains fourteen terrific patterns for undyed yarns.

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and of course you can use the kent worsted to knit the gobi hat and mittens we featured on the blog last month

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it works beautifully for these warm accessories. in fact there are a number of designs that would work a treat

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susan knit up our popular creel cowl and is now working on the matching hat and mitts. this is one of sarah’s favorites; she’s been pushing for a while to have this design knit up in our yarns. now that we have it, she put together a creel kit in several sizes, so you are covered, whether you want to make one piece or all three. she even got her friend mike to model it for us (thanks mike!)

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and the two of them, along with david, braved the biting wind today to get some nice shots in our downtown neighborhood.

to purchase patterns or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the caravan blanket page or caravan scarf/wrap page in the knitspot pattern shop or visit the caravan blanket page or caravan scarf/wrap page in our ravelry pattern shop.

click here to view all kits.

the  patterns are also included in the BNK 2013 eBook collection—14 terrific garment and accessory patterns that celebrate the beauty of natural fiber, 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.

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the BNK eBook is a very special component of our club; packed chock full of valuable information, each chapter provides a depthful study of fiber types and the production behind making them into yarns, beautifully photographed and fully researched. taking the current eBook subscription is a great way to participate in our BNK 2014 club if you missed getting a yarn membership, are on a budget, or prefer to spin your own yarns.

for more information or to purchase your 2014 subscription, please click here.

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ready to get your hands knuckle deep in some heavenly yarn goodness? click here for more information or to purchase the latest drool-worthy selections we have to offer. have a great, knitterly weekend; try to stay warm!

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OH! and if you plan to visit the fiber expo in ann arbor michigan this weekend, you will have a chance to see and squeeze this yarn in person at our booth—along with all of our other yarns in every color we currently have in stock. susan, erica, and barb are super excited about this weekend’s event, so please do stop in, say hello, and browse our overflowing selection of goodies. it promises to be a terrific weekend.

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Happy St. Pat’s

majordomo wrote this in the early evening:

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This is how St Pat’s week started for us – lucky mail from O’Nana and O’Papa. Special delivery for a wee lad. This year we weren’t going to spend the holiday with my family, since we all just saw each other AND my brother and sister-in-law’s first baby is due in about a week. But this little green envelope got me wishing for family and mom’s cooking.

So we hopped in the car Friday night and headed for Grand Rapids. And so did my parents, so we could all stay the weekend with my brother and his wife. We made it just in time to celebrate Pi Day with mom’s lemon meringue.

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It was the best one I’ve ever had. It was super tart and super delicious.

The next afternoon we headed to Founders and the sun was shining enough to sit on the patio!

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I can’t wait for these cuties to be parents! And I get to be an auntie and put tons of cute handknits on the baby! She’s due March 26, so any day now…

I can’t decide what is my favorite baby knit right now. It’s a toss up amongst Sky Cap, Slöfock, Barrel o’ Monkey, and oh, Baby socks. Truly, Slöfock is the best baby gift. Being a slouch, it can be worn folded for a long time at first and then turn to a slouch as baby grows.

Baby Knitspot and I sported our matching Slöfocks on Saturday

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in the Emerald Isle colorway of Breathless DK. Perfect for the day, don’t you think!?

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This kid has found selfies extremely fun. I think I have about 40 versions of this pose.

After our quick outing we headed home for a late lunch of the meal we wait all year for.

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Aaaah…corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and mom’s homemade rolls. I really think this meal trumps the Thanksgiving feast as my favorite meal. It’s so delicious!

We spent the rest of the evening watching Padraig get better at walking (yes, he’s walking!) and chase three dogs around his toys. Kids are an endless amount of entertainment. And it’s a chance for all of us to let our silly side show.

Before we left for home the next day, the previous dinner was turned into hash

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with Padraig cheering for his meal. He sure knows how to melt a Nana’s heart!

Today we went to our first music and movement class and he was excited to wear his special hat.

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He absolutely loves his Woodcutter’s Toque in Confection. It’s one of the few hats he keeps on. And he loves feeling the texture of the heavy cables.

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I spent the rest of the day at home working while Padraig took a long nap, so we could spend a little celebratory time tonight with daddy. I’m taking my boys,

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donning Confection hats (Padraig in his Woodcutter’s and Matt in his Pembroke), to hear some live Irish music!

Then I’m spending the rest of my holiday working on this divine knit.

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Willowherb in Confection, colorway Cookies and Cream. I have enough yarn for hat and mittens and I can’t wait to complete the set. Happy St Pat’s to those that celebrate and happy knitting this evening to those that will be joining me.

slouch potato

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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as promised, here’s a little hat to pair with the roger that blanket we released the other day. i had hoped to have a sample knit in the matching colorway, but the yarn never arrived and we didn’t want to delay it another moment.

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plus, we’ve got it knit up in so many great shades of natural, i think it’s a terrific opportunity to celebrate what we do have all around us.

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natural beauty always shines the brightest, right?

we’re lucky that so many people shared the love of the natural with us, like niya (above) and her mom, mandy (below, whose name i got wrong in the polartorte post—SO embarrassing!)

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this hat kind of goes back a ways—i designed and knit it last summer in soft organic ecobutterfly qoperfina sport to gift to a friend who was just about to begin chemo treatments.

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i thought it would be soft, yet cool enough to wear until fall. the color grown cotton—unmercerized and free of dyes—seemed to be the perfect choice. it created a softly slouching hat that was both fashionable and comfortable for the season.

i kept meaning to release it, but also pushing it back in the queue as other, more wintery items pushed their way to the front. i also had the idea that we should knit a sample in one of our own yarns to show off the flexibility of the design.

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and then fate showed me why all that happened just the way it ought to; one day at the end of january, my friend anne merrow from interweave emailed to ask if i could prepare a segment about natural yarn to present on knitting daily TV—to include some sort of project and pattern.

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she suggested the fallberry mitts, but i thought this hat was just the thing—something fresh and new, yet super quick and easy to knit. and SO very attractive in all of our natural shades; the design, with its contrast of fabric types, really shows off the versatility and quality of our artisan yarns.

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well, once i started knitting the pattern, i just couldn’t stop—i thought up all manner of reasons to keep knitting one after the other (and still i want to make more!). when i brought them out in the TV studio, everyone wanted to pet them (BTW, this episode will air sometime during the season that begins in late july; we’ll update you when it’s time to look for it on your local PBS station).

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here are my samples in several of our yarns; from left to right stone soup DK (slate), kent DK (l. to r.: driftwood, beach glass, and white sand), and ghillie sport (cream). and just as with the matching roger that blanket and roger sock, there is a size for every member of the family, from wee babes to the big guys.

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emily and erica really liked wearing this hat—its deep, textured brim provides a snug fit around the ears to keep it inlace while the volume up top allows it to slouch, rather than squash our hair. so far, i think it looks cute on everyone

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shown above, size small (left) and size medium (right) in kent DK, colors white sand and beach glass

and below, sarah and niya (foreground) model it in size small in stone soup DK (left, slate) and ghillie sport (right, cream), while mandy (background) models it in size medium in kent DK  beach glass.

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

sarah and david have also put together a slouch potato kit  as shown here in kent DK, stone soup DK, or ghillie sport, that includes the pattern in all sizes and your choice of yarn color. you can even knit a couple of the smaller sizes from one skein, making this a great deal for future gift giving. (david will be adding options to purchase the kit with stone soup DK and ghillie sport on friday afternoon)

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and with the versatility to knit in cotton, this design can take you all the way into summer if you so choose. hmm, maybe we need a kit for the cotton version, huh?

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sarah say YES!  i’ll have to get right on that . . .

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thank you to anne merrow for inspiring me to finally bring this design to the front of my queue and for all of our lovely models—mandy, niya, sarah, erica, and emily; they bring it to life, don’t they?

now, you go off and have a really fun weekend. you’ve got a new project and hopefully some nice weather to enjoy, what more can we ask for?

fair weather friend

anne wrote this mid-afternoon:

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look what i saw the other day!!
(i’m not quite sure what it is; i only know it’s a fresh sprout)

it’s an understatement to say that the anticipation of spring is running very high around here. the weather is just about all anyone talks about lately. i’ve kept a watchful eye on the yard for birds to arrive and crocuses to sprout, but up until a couple of days ago i was met with dead silence.

then suddenly i woke to a chorus of chirping and fluttering activity, all at once. no crocuses yet, but i’m sure they are on their way now. two days ago i ran in a tank top and shorts in 65 degrees under a warm, sunny sky.

and today . . .

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pink and fresh and pretty, yes, but still—ten degrees at 9 am? really???

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but i’ve started washing and putting away my sweaters for the season.

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no wonder we’re not seeing crocuses yet . . . mother nature keeps smothering them.

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everyone is walking around the house and the office with hats still on. david and sarah haven’t taken off their polartorte hats for days; i think they must sleep in them.

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even the heat register wears one, haha. one last slouch potato hat getting a blow dry before tomorrow’s big release.

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we got a last few photos of them with emily and erica the other day—who fell in love. i think they’ve put their official endorsement on the design, in case you needed any encouragement, haha.

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it even looks pretty good on me and i have a notoriously difficult head to fit. in fact, all of this recent hat activity is part of my continuing quest to find the perfect hat for me—if in the process, i happen to knit one for everybody i know (and some people i don’t know), well, that probably isn’t the worst harm i could do in a life of blundering about, trying to “find” myself.

that said, i do think that polartorte is the perfect hat for me, with slouch potato a close second. so i will knit myself one of each; i just haven’t decided which shade of stone soup or kent DK i want to knit them in . . .

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mostly, i just like playing with them all. and knitting them of course—they have joined the family of memorized, go-to, giftable, projects that i turn to when i just want something quick and satisfying to knit over an evening or two (a few others include cabled keyhole scarf, les abeilles, barrel o’ monkey, plain jhaynes)

so tomorrow we’ll release the slouch potato pattern and you can see for yourself; i hear that david and sarah are putting together a kit for it as well, for those who like a nice tidy project package.

with such drastic and crazy change ups in the weather lately, i’ve begun thinking about spring sweaters, mostly the ones i don’t have and wish i did.

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or better said, the ones i should have finished by now. i have literally two on the needles that should have been finished ages ago. but when it was under ten degrees for weeks at a time, i really couldn’t couldn’t see the point.

fair weather friend that i am though, i am realizing the folly of my ways—if i’d been diligent and knit on them just twenty or thirty minutes each day during the winter, they’d probably both be done and ready to wear. sigh

well, the only think i can do now is try my best. this top-down cardigan—artus & anne in briar rose sea pearl—is the closest to being done and i think i could finish it in just a few nights if i was diligent and didn’t get distracted.

hehe.

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i might need one of you to threaten me with some dire consequences.

the other garment is a surprise; i can’t talk about it quite yet. it’s been in the works since last summer and i’ve known there was kind of a deadline to finish it since then but again, kept moving it back on the priority list when more urgent winter projects bullied their way forward in the queue.

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but then on my trip to albany, i got a great jumpstart on it and have been working away very diligently since. it’s growing fast now and taking shape quite nicely. i have every expectation that i’ll get it done by my self imposed deadline.

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that said, i took a break the other day to work on a completely different project for my monday afternoon knitting class; a made a lemon meringue pie for my friend debby’s birthday

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because my cook books are still packed away (i don’t know why!) and i was relying on a recipe from the internet i hadn’t yet tried, i started on sunday evening just to be sure the filling would set up properly (i’ve had some, ahem, issues with that in the past).

but this recipe worked a treat and i highly recommend it; the filling thickened right up with no problems whatsoever and the flavor is excellent. in fact if anything, i would say i could get away with a bit less thickener.

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on monday i made my regular pie crust recipe, this time with gluten free flour, which worked out great. it was a little hard to transfer it into the dish without breaking but i figured out a way.

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again i had to go to the internet to grab information about oven temperature for the pre-baked crust and while i was there i read a good hint: after rolling and forming into a pan, freeze the dough for thirty minutes before baking. this will prevent a tender crust from slipping down into the pan as it bakes (something that happens to me even when i use pie weights).

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bake the crust WITH weights for fifteen minutes, then cool slightly and remove the weights. pierce the crust all over with a fork and put it back in the oven fro 10 minutes to finish baking and browning.

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perfecto—the crust is baked evenly all over and maintains its original shape. i will use that technique again for sure.

next i put the filling back on the stove over low heat to bring it back to bubbling hot. this is essential so that the meringue will properly cook through, which prevents it from collapsing, leaking, or releasing from the top of the pie.

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while the filling warmed up, i started the swiss meringue—it is cooked a bit first to dissolve the sugar, then whipped. i like this meringue because it is more elastic and easier to handle; you can work it slightly longer than a non-cooked meringue and it mounds up into lovely soft pillows.

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i probably could have taken it out just a bit sooner (i like it a little less tan), but i was afraid it wouldn’t be cooked enough. i let it cool on the counter top for about an hour or so, then put it in the fridge to chill.

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mmm—mmmm; heaven on a plate

and dessert before dinner—who doesn’t love that?

be back tomorrow with that new hat pattern—everyone is preparing it now.