reel me in

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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sorry to be gone an extra day or two—we’ve had SUN here throughout the holiday weekend and into this week and well . . . david and i really needed to spend some time outdoors enjoying it. we did some awesome longer bike rides over the weekend; cycling is one of our favorite things to do together. and the weather was perfect for some nice runs and for gardening too. which didn’t leave too much time for blogging and desk work, eek (but taking time off was so worth it).

thank you for your wonderfully enthusiastic response to my 4th of july post; i’m not much for flag waiving or talking about patriotism often because my hope is that living and working my beliefs will tell you everything you need to know. but once in a while, i like to celebrate the relationships that make our products a reality, so thanks for letting me know you enjoyed that!

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now that july is underway and the heat has established itself, erica is dusting off the cotton KAL thread in our ravelry mothership group—please come over and join us in summer knitting! we’re starting out by knitting with our favorite organic color grown cotton by ecobutterfly while we await the arrival of our own cotton and hemp blend summer yarns. we are well stocked with most shades for small accessories or larger sweater and blanket projects.

this is the place to be when we start rolling out our new summer yarns a little later this month. in fact, erica would love your input on creating some fun kits for summer cotton projects—won’t you visit and let her know your desires?

hey, did you see that my alhambra design got mentioned in the american designers list on the love knitting blog? this was one of the very first “little nothings” and remains our best selling pattern to this day (along with several other little nothings).

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the little nothings were conceived as a series of accent scarves that were almost like swatches—big enough to fill a neckline or toss around the shoulders, but small and light enough to tuck away easily into a pocket, purse, or glove box. for the knitter, they are a gateway into the lace world, a way of exploring a variety of stitch patterns and architectures in bite-sized helpings that truly become “potato chip” knitting. their timelessness and continued popularity are proof of the need for them to exist.

i still add to the little nothings collection from time to time; i feel this is one of the most fun categories of my design work as well as a way to try new motifs and yarns within the simplest construction—the rectangle. so i am especially cheered by seeing alhambra on that list!

totally by coincidence, we JUST had a new sample of this scarf knit up in our cabécou brillant lace (in champagne, ooh-la-la), thanks to our dear friend hattie. and it arrived here just the other day.

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it is SO, so gorgeous in this yarn—light and airy as tissue, but blocks out to crisp points and lines, with big holes winking through. this little neck scarf version took less than half a skein, but the design is easily altered to be a wide stole or a long, long scarf—knitter’s choice.

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so . . . speaking of summer yarns, i have finished all the pieces for my hemp top and yesterday i blocked them so i could start putting it together.

as with most fabrics, this one has a lovely fluid feeling after steaming—i can’t WAIT to see how it looks and feels once it soaks in a hot, soapy bath and the fiber really blooms, mmm.

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it is much easier to handle the edges now that it’s steamed—i can never get over the difference that makes.

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it fits the form just perfectly with the side seams pinned together for now. this size has a 36-inch circumference and is intended for a smaller figure (mine). my form measures 36 at the bust and hips and has larger shoulders than would fit me properly—so the top has no ease on the form except that the fabric is inherently easy and relaxed.

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on me it will be looser—i’m not quite as well endowed as my dress form, haha. as you can see, i have picked up sts for the neck but have not completed it. i started working on it last night, but ripped back what i accomplished because i changed my mind about the way it should be constructed.

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i feel cool and comfortable just looking at the fabric; i just love the natural color of this yarn. the back has a slight downward curve at the bottom—just a nice detail, you wouldn’t HAVE to knit that in if you didn’t want to (and it is easily altered to be straight).

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i only had one and a half skeins of the yarn in this shade and we won’t be getting more til later this month. so my plan for this top is to finish the neck trim and add a narrow garter finish to the armholes, photograph that version, then rip the armhole edging out and add the sleeve i created for it. then we’ll rephotograph it as a second look. we will also do a full sleeveless version in another shade, now that our sample skeins have arrived.

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our garden is absolutely exploding with growth and life, now that we have some sun to go with all the nourishing rain. i don’t want to jinx anything but we haven’t had such big, strong squash plants in a number of years—they make me so happy i could cry.

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i’ve been picking baby squashes for a week now and it’s starting to look like we’ll have a bumper crop.

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look at all those tiny zephyr squashes! actually, several of those have grown big enough to pick since this picture was taken on saturday.

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for immediate use at the table, i like them tiny, when they are almost seedless and so tender. a quick sauté with mushrooms and they are ready to toss with buttered pasta or roll into eggs for an omelet.

i let them grow just a little larger to cook with eggplant, peppers, and onions for ratatouille or ciambotta (coming soon, i hope).

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acorn and butternut squashes are also coming along nicely, though it will be much longer before we’ll taste those. fingers crossed that these plants stay healthy and bring all their fruit to maturity.

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green beans are really climbing vigorously now—the fence is filling up with foliage and it won’t be long til it’s completely covered.

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the eggplants are getting big too, which makes me thing they have plans to be putting out some large and plentiful fruits—bring it on. we didn’t get very many the last couple of years and i’m really looking forward to having enough for freezing ratatouille and ciambotta in quantity.

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as if to encourage my faith, this plant has begun to fulfill its promise. let’s just hope the rest follow . . .

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and then there are the tomatoes and basil—whoa. our plants are really beautiful, with huge, thick stems and luxuriant foliage (which i’ve had to prune twice). but i’m always wary because that’s not at all unusual during june. it’s what happens in july that plunges me into despair almost every year. the sudden onset of high temperatures and low rainfall often does my tomato patch in. this year we have taken a LOT of extra care to get the soil and nutrient balance right so they have the best chance of surviving. again, fingers crossed that they make it.

the basil is really plentiful for a change; i’m hoping that is a harbinger of what is to come for the rest of the garden produce.

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if the success of the greens is any indication, we are in for a nice year of harvesting. i can’t get over how vigorous  and healthy the swiss chard is after several years of lackluster growth. this photo of one of the larger plants was taken on friday or saturday and by monday i came back in the house with this

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a full basket of big erbette leaves—aren’t they gorgeous?

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i got them right into a sink of cold water to remove the dirt, then rolled them into a towel and put them in the fridge to chill. we are eating these tomorrow, maybe in pasta or a curry, not sure; i just know they’ll be delicious.

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and the red chard is not far behind; almost every one of the transplants i did has taken and grown—by the weekend i should be picking again, this time for the freezer (we can only eat so much of it at once, haha). i love having greens in the freezer to eat during the winter, either by themselves or in dishes like pasta, chile, curries, and soups.

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so far the peppers are a little slow compared to everything else—just this one lone purple one on the vine. but they are coming; i saw some little marconi’s forming on another plant; i must have missed the flowers.

it was getting kind of dry out in the garden and while we were promised rain all day today, it never materialized. but then the skies opened up this evening and dumped buckets of rain, for which we are very thankful—any day we don’t have to water is a good one (i’m a freak about wasting water; i hear my dad’s chiding voice every time i hear a faucet run for more than a few seconds).

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that’s what’s so brilliant about bret’s pleasantry garden—it requires not a drop! isn’t it pretty now that it’s filling up with flowers of nice notes? next time, i’ll take some photos of the back sides . . .

well, speaking of finishing that hemp top, i better close my thoughts and get back to that if i’m going to show off a completed piece in my next post. in fact, i have lots to do; i got a little behind this weekend, having too much fun away from my desk.

hope you are enjoying summer as much as we are! and the best isn’t even here yet—ENVY club starts in just ten days and i’ve got a super special yarn and design that i can barely keep to myself (but i’m determined)—are you ready?

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eat your greens; you’re going to need them.

true blue

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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this land is your land, this land is my land

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from california to the new york island

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from the redwood forests the the gulf stream waters,

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this land was made for you and me.

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as i was walkin’ that ribbon of highway

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i saw above me that endless skyway.

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i saw below me that golden valley

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this land was made for you and me

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I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps

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To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;

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And all around me a voice was sounding:

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This land was made for you and me.

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When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,

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And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,

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As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:

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This land was made for you and me.

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Nobody living can ever stop me,

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As I go walking that freedom highway;

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Nobody living can ever make me turn back

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This land was made for you and me.

—woodie guthrie, 1956

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all of us here—myself, david, erica, anastasia, laura, lillian, and lauren—extend our sincerest gratitude for your continued support of our american made products. each skein of BNWs is touched by the loving hands (and hooves!) of farmers, shearers, mill technicians, and our attentive staff—people (and animals) you know by name.

your purchases make the yarn world go ’round and we thank you. happy independence day!

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gearhead

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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chilly and overcast as it has been during the weeks of june, i’ve had no lapse in my desire to knit every day—and with nice wooly yarns at that. i am actually hard at work on sweaters for fall already, so i’m content that the temperatures stay right where they are.

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you might be in the same situation—some extra knitting time on your hands due to vacation or summer work hours and looking for a project to get you ahead of the game on fall knitting? but you still want it to be simple and fun, right?

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of course you do! and this one might be right up your alley—mostly stockinette on larger needles with fun cable details to keep you ticking those rounds off. that’s right—i said rounds; this one is also seamless, so when the knitting is done, it’s done. ya gotta love that.

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and here’s the best part—it’s not only easy to knit and seamless, it’s also shareable—tell me you’re not sold now. it looks adorable on lauren, doesn’t it?

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i pretty much designed this sweater specifically for our friend bill and the prototype was knit by the very talented anne C in BNWs stone soup DK (color pumice). prototype approved by bill, we got to work creating a production pattern and when it was done

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our friend carie was just getting ready to knit her husband a sweater and when he said he liked the design, she volunteered to test it out in our kent DK yarn (color mussel shell).
despite going through a big family move to another state, she whipped right through the pattern and wow, it worked up a treat, didn’t it??

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dave is very happy. really.
it’s hard to tell from the photos but the fabric is extremely light and airy—surprisingly so. guys like that.

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and stop. it.—barb also got in on the act and knit up this delicious cotton version with ecobutterfly organic pakucho worsted in the rustic avocado shade. unfortunately the weather this week did not permit us to get photos for today, but we will bring you some great ones next week.

the terrific thing about the cotton version is its versatility—soft, warm, and very easy to care for, it works well for beach and cabin. i blocked barb’s sweater by tossing it in the washer and then the dryer; it came out wonderfully fluffy and springy.

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the cable detailing along the seamlines and front placket is classy and simple to work; it provides a great textural element and some fun for the knitter, but it’s also functional—it helps stabilize the seamlines and edges in the absence of actual seams to do the job.

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it has just enough detail to keep everyone happy. the result is a project that is no fuss, no muss to construct, but keeps its shape and great fit, too, for those hardwearing customers.

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erica has created a kit which includes pattern and knitter’s choice of three delicious BNWs yarns—please click here to check that out.  some of our yarn quantities are low, so we’ve listed the most popular sizes only, but ALL sizes are available on request—if you don’t see the kit for your color choice and size, please email operations@knitspot.com and erica will be happy to set you up!

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but of course, if you live close by and want to see our samples in person or put your own kit together, come visit us at the bare naked wools boutique. summer is the time for a fun yarn adventure with friends—take advantage of the fine weather to make the trip! we always have something in the shop that isn’t listed in the online store—you might even get a glimpse of something we’re keeping under wraps for the moment . . .

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ok, i’ll stop—enough teasing already.

to purchase pattern only 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!)

and just for good measure, click here to view the yarn kit option.

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looks like it’s going to be a terrific holiday weekend after all—mostly sunny where we live (at least, that’s the story at the moment, haha). we are heading over to a big annual picnic party at a friend’s place and then sunday we are celebrating the graduation of our dear friend helena (hmm, maybe SHE can model the cotton sweater!)

hope you have a wonderful weekend planned; eat lots of grilled treats and fresh berries.

shell game

anne wrote this just before lunchtime:

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ahhh, i’m back to the soothing tones of knitting on my hemp blend shell project.

i laid it aside for a few days last week in order to finish up a large secret project i was eager to complete. i’m like that—while i love to have several projects going at once for variety, once i find myself in the home stretch on something big, i just want to get it off the needles and see how it turned out.

i wonder; am i like that because i’m a designer and every project is somewhat of a mystery until its completion? i don’t really hear anyone else talking about a bad case of finishitis, but i get it all the time. in fact, i often shilly shally about starting a project when i’m not absolutely convinced i have my strategy in order.

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of course, a great yarn can serve to mask many, MANY misgivings and even lead me to knit myself into a corner from poor planning. not the case here, thank goodness—i am more in love with our new hemp yarn each day AND the shell is progressing beautifully, though i really did throw caution to the wind and cast on without much of a plan (it’s a simple shell, for heaven’s sake!). so far all the parts are falling into place without a fight; sorta sets the exact tone i wanted with this piece—fresh and uncomplicated.

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i finished up the front piece some time ago—i know it was early last week, but honestly, it may as well have been last year for all i remember (my days tend to blur into each other). isn’t it kind of cool how the fabric creases like paper? no worries—it doesn’t feel anything like paper, but it does speak about how crisp and cool the fabric is. and so light, like a breath of air.

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i started with a four ounce skein and after knitting that whole front piece, i still have about two-thirds left over. wow—i might be able to get a sleeve out of it after all. right now, my plan is to complete it as a semi-sleeveless style, with an armhole finish long enough to cover the top of the shoulder.

but now i’m thinking that i’ll have enough yarn to knit a pair of sleeves that hit just above the elbow and make a second, sleeveless top in another shade when the sample skeins arrive.

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once the front was off the needles, i cast on right away for the back piece and started the garter stitch hem. for some reason, that first three inches took a while, but i think that’s because i was working so hard on both the knitting and the pattern for the other thing i had going.

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i did work on it here and there when i needed a small, brainless project to knit during meetings and car rides. but i didn’t get much further than the hem until monday.

you might have noticed that the fabric seems a bit uneven or insubstantial. part of that is definitely the character of the cloth—the blend IS a bit uneven and quirky, but not so much that it lacks integrity as a fabric. i personally like the texture; it lends a nice character to otherwise plain knitting, but not so much as to be disturbing in lace patterns.

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and part of the inconsistency we are seeing in the fabric for this project is because i am knitting with the unwashed sample skein. this yarn is just as it is when it comes off the spinning equipment—it hasn’t been soaked and washed yet, so the fiber isn’t quite as soft and definitely not as airy.

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you can see that the washed skein on the left, from which i i knit my swatches, is brighter, poofier, a little fuzzier, and has much more body that the unwashed skein on the right.

i think that in this case, the washed yarn is a bit nicer to knit with and all of our production skeins will be washed at the mill. they will still transform a bit when you wash your garment at home, but not as drastically and you won’t have to plan around that.

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my shell is designed to be the fabric that i swatched, so once i wash it, it will change considerably—in this case the finished piece will be wider and a little shorter than it looks here, while the fabric will be more fluid and at the same time, more cohesive, like my swatches (plus, cleaner and brighter).

that reminds me—we need to come up with names for out two new summer yarns. must put that on my to-do list. suggestions are welcome, no guarantees.

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i’ve made considerable progress on the back since i completed my other project. on monday afternoon i finished up the hem section, changed needles and began the faster work in stockinette. because it’s such a simple garment, i’m trying something a bit different with the shape—i added a little short row shaping to the center back to create a downward curve over the hips. it adds maybe an inch and  half to the center back length.

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as of now i am past the waist and the body decreases and have begun increasing back to the underarm. in about three inches i will begin the armhole shaping and after that, the rest will fly. i’m excited—i could maybe have a new top to wear to helena’s graduation party on sunday!

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immersing myself in knitting to finish up a big project usually translates into putting other necessary tasks on the back burner—like garden work. well, we did also have a lot of very rainy days, so in my defense, we haven’t had good weather for working outdoors. yet the garden waits for no man—i think everything has doubled—and in some cases tripled—in size since last week’s photo.

i will take some close up photos for the next blog post so you can see what’s happening on the ground, but for one thing, i’m thrilled that nearly every chard seedling i transplanted has taken off and is flourishing. of course, the weather has been exactly what the greens love—cool, overcast, and wet. the original plantings will actually need to be thinned again very soon, which means i have to find space for more transplants.

don’t tell david, but i am eyeing the flower beds and imagining chard edgings . . .

heaven only knows what i’m going to do with all the chard, but i’m not complaining. haha, if we don’t start selling some more yarn, we may be living on it later in the year!

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while ours is about a week away from being big enough to provide a meal, i was gifted a beautiful bunch of homegrown chard by my friend kris the other day and on saturday morning, i divided it up into a couple of meals. first i separated the leafy green parts form the stalks and wrapped those in damp toweling to keep in the fridge for week night omelettes.

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i chopped the multicolored stems into chunks to throw into a mirepoix for soup (yes, it’s still actually soup weather here, haha). i pulled purple and yellow onions from our garden, along with parsley, basil, and oregano.

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i took out one of the remaining cartons of last summer’s tomatoes from the freezer and opened a couple cans of chick peas (i have no luck cooking those from scratch; they always turn out awful). i also cut up some waxy yellow potatoes and drained  big jar of roasted peppers.

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i wanted to make that spicy chick pea and tomato soup i had cooked while i was in NYC; i thought david would enjoy it.

he did and it was yummy—i forgot to take pictures of the result, but it looked very similar to the original pot. yum yum.

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yesterday i picked two tiny zucchini plus some male flowers and david cooked eggs for dinner using these plus the chard leaves i cleaned the other day. it was the best omelet i’ve eaten all year.

i’m going to stop now because our test knitter is waiting for a pattern and i need to get back to work on that. tomorrow we are releasing another new sweater pattern, so don’t go far—we’ll want you on hand to celebrate with us!