anne wrote this in the early evening:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
i had some cherry crumble bars saved aside in the freezer for the occasion, which i think everyone enjoyed.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
and the beautiful scalloped edges stay put almost permanently because lace patterning on both sides of the fabric locks in the curvy shape.
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.
when katharine came down just before leaving for her next stop, i asked her for a modeling shot or two, just for fun.
(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.
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
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.