groundhog day

anne wrote this mid-afternoon:

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hehe, you know that movie, right? where the guy keeps waking up to the same day over and over? when i looked over the photos i have for today’s post, i sorta felt like i’d be doing that to you. and then i realized that it actually is groundhog day. oops—sorry for the coincidence.

so yes, again today we woke up to snow. actually we woke up to snow yesterday and went to sleep with snow and woke up with it again today and now it’s—c’mon, take guess—snowing. and very cold.

except for the fact that it makes running a bit hazardous, i don’t mind all that much. i can switch to the stationary bike when it gets likes this. there’s something kind of very nice about snuggling in to enjoy winter’s indoor offerings. i had a VERY productive knitting weekend.

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i got the buttons sewn onto david’s new natty cap—doesn’t that kent DK make a beautiful finished fabric, now that it’s clean and dry and all smoothed out? i just love it—makes me want to knit a sweater in this pattern (next thing onto the needles i think!). that’s what blocking will give you—more ideas.

i just have to decide which yarn, but i’m pretty sure it’s going to be better breakfast DK, which is due in today or tomorrow i believe (i know that standing right near the door won’t make it arrive any faster, but it’s all i can do not to station myself there anyway.). i’m thinking muesli or porridge; not sure . . . daybreak could be a contender too.

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i am making so much quick progress on my cam cable pullover (also in kent DK, this time the kelp shade) that i’m going to have to decide very soon what my next sweater project will be. i’m almost to the underarm bind off on the front piece now. it’s going so fast, i can hardly believe it’s me knitting it—yeah, you can just nickname me barb for now. (ok, barb, stop that laughing).

actually, barb is going to be test knitting this sweater soon as well—as soon as i write up the pattern for it. she admitted to be a little surprised when she felt the fabric the other night; she had it in her head (even though she has a good supply of the stuff at home) that this yarn was scratchy and heavy. but it’s not; it’s actually very light and airy—and soft. no, not like cashmere soft; more like linen soft—the kind that takes you by surprise. soft in a sturdy way.

i’m also going to have to come up with a name for this sweater. i’m playing around with a title using the word “shreddy” in some way. or  or we do like keeping it plain and simple, as in cam cable pullover?

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early saturday morning, i got back to work on that UFO i told you about—a hat i’d started in october based on my mass transit cowl design. i was clipping right alone, wondering what the heck had kept me from finishing up this super fast and fun project. i wondered about the size, suspecting it might be too big,  but kept going; it wasn’t long enough at first to really tell if it would fit (or so i told myself).

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finally, in the cold light of yesterday morning while waiting for the coffee to perk,  i admitted that it really WAS too big and i should cut my losses, rip back now, and reknit while there was so little to lose. i’m trying to be THAT knitter more often and less the other, who pushes ahead anyway and then ends up having to knit a second garment that actually fits.

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and really, in no time i had breezed through the brim and begun the color work over again—i was astonished at how quickly and unconsciously the rounds went by.

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i finally had to stop so i could get out to a tea event at the yoga studio where i take classes. since it was snowing like crazy, i was reluctant to both leave my fun knitting project and go out in the storm, but i did. i’m trying not to be such a hermit.

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suspecting i might get there way too early (i did; the snow only slowed me down by about two minutes), i remembered to put my sock project in my bag to knit on while staying out of the way of the setup for the event.

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and it was such a relaxed event that i actually continued knitting during the whole thing, getting quite a good way along the length of the foot. it was worth going just for that, haha. seriously though—the tea part was great, too. i meant to ask if i could take photos but kept getting sidetracked by the samples and the talk; it was fascinating.

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last night after supper, i worked on blanket club preparations until late, then knit on the sweater front for a while while listening to a book, and finally, added a few more rounds to my hat in front of the TV before bed. but i was too tired to get much further than where i left off that morning.

however, once i was back in the kitchen making coffee this morning, the pace picked up considerably and proceeded with relish. this knit is so addictive i almost hate to tell you about it, except that it is also so good.

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i’m using four shades of our stone soup DK yarn for the background, changing every four rnds. if you invest in new yarn, you’ll have enough for three or four accessory projects. if you’ve got leftover amounts of gradient yarns about, that will likely be plenty for one (i haven’t tallied the yards for each shade, but i’m guessing about fifty each for the whole hat). added to the background shades, i’ve got about two or three ounces of briar rose fourth of july in a bright variegated hand paint with several hues (don’t be shy about the colors; the more and louder, the better).

the final effect is like waves of colored blinking lights—but in a good way; i love it. you can also create a similar effect by doing the opposite; use a more subtle yarn in tonal shade in the background with either neutral dots or dots in complementary colors.

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like we did here, using the mass transit kit, putting the color yarn in the background and working couple shades of confection sport for the dots.

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anyway, SO glad i ripped back to change that size! it’s actually still got a fairly soft fit, but much closer to my head, so it will stay put better. and if it turns out still to be too loose, i could add a cashmere lining and that will definitely make it fit correctly.

this project is well over the halfway hump—i just might have it finished by the next blog. good thing too, because we’ve got a lot of winter left here and i need a good hat. hmm, maybe i should consider adding that cashmere anyway, whether i need it or not?

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as i like to do whenever the end of a project is in sight, i wound up my skein of better breakfast fingering in muesli to be ready for casting on the reversible shawl when the time comes. so far, every person who voted asked for a crescent shawl, so that kind of tells me it should be a triangle after all.

just kidding—crescent it is

Designer Spotlight: Meet Rich Ensor

anne wrote this in the early morning:

knitspot patterns and bare naked wools yarns are making connections all over the  place and laura, our social media wizard, is going to be turning the spotlight here and there on items she discovers in her travels through cyber media. the first in her series came to us a few weeks back—look for more every week or two.

Allow me to introduce Rich Ensor to you.

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Rich attended Anne’s a sock design class a couple of years ago at Fibre Space.  He designed these beautiful socks and wrote a beautiful email to Anne over the holidays:

Hi Anne!!!
I don’t know if you remember me. I took a sock design class a couple of years ago at fibre space. You were kind enough to post some pictures of my sock on your blog. Fibre space published the pattern for those socks on their site this week. It’s a bit of a story for why that took a while, but we can save that for another day.
Anyway, one of your blog readers left a comment on the ravelry entry, which reminded me that several of your readers had said they were looking forward to the pattern. I thought I’d send you the link if you wanted to share it with your readers. I didn’t want to leave a comment on your site since that feels spammy. And, no pressure here. If you don’t want to post the link, I’m not offended. I just wanted to give you the choice.
BTW, that class has had a huge impact on me. I’ve self published a handful of patterns & been featured on Knitty. I’ve found this really fun, creative outlet. I’ve met and become friends with some really great people, and it wouldn’t have happened without that class, so you have my sincere thanks. The only downside is trying to find the time to knit up the sweater quantity of bare naked wools that I recently purchased.
I hope you have a great holiday,
Rich

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Aren’t they dynamite?!  These are his Alluvial Deposits socks.  They made quite a stir; many of you asked how you could get a hold of his pattern. It just so happens that Fibre Space recently published it and you can find it here—what a thrill!

Since then, Rich has self-published a handful of patterns and has been featured in Knitty, where you can find his Neldoreth sock pattern. We’re excited to share his pattern with our readers and we encourage you all to keep an eye on him. I’ve no doubt that we can expect more great things from Rich in the future, maybe even in some bare naked wools sock weight yarns.

Rich’s personal blog is over here; he has over a dozen different sock patterns to choose from, any of which would be gorgeous in—ghillie sock and breakfast blend fingering both feel great on your feet and are very hardwearing.

You can also find Rich’s patterns on Ravelry, where he also hosts low-pressure KAL’s in his Ravelry group – “That Bald Guy Knits”!

Here are just a couple more of his beautiful creations!

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Cordon

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Crosshaven

 

 

 

cup o’ coffee with a cap, please

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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well, for a project that i thought of as strictly catch as catch can, this sure got finished quickly. i mean, it’s not like i loll around over my coffee for hours every morning (or even one hour)—i’ve really only been putting a few rows on here and there when i get a chance.

but there you have it—those are the projects that get finished.

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i even managed to get it blocked today. i put it on to soak while we went across the alley to the office for a meeting and when i came back, it was ready to be squeezed, shaped, and laid out to dry (it’s about halfway there, now).

what i’ve done here is to use the pattern for that natty cap we released the other day and knit it up for david in our new tide pool shade of kent DK. i noticed that a couple of his hats are looking a little worn. the pattern doesn’t really include a size that will fit him, so i knit the largest size using needles one size bigger, which worked well with this lofty, squishy yarn. it’s funny about the kent—each shade has its own unique character; this one is draper, that one is loftier, a third has a bit more sheen. not enough to affect the outcome of the project at hand, but enough to enjoy each one as i work with it. i love that about them.

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and you know what that means.
(well, it actually means two things—time to pick out a couple of buttons and time to figure out what the next sideline project will be.)

let’s address the first issue first; i almost have too many choices that will work great with this fabric.

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the first are these bone buttons that are mostly blackish, but with cream streaks along the grain—we have these to list in our store and i’m told that we’ll get them posted some time on friday. i like how, where the black and cream meet, the material goes to brown. i used these on my scotty cap and i love them with the stone soup yarn, but i find them a little bit boring on this hat for some reason.

then there were a couple of options in resin material that i like well enough, but again, a little boring, though i DO like the color of the brown ones against the gray fabric. that helped me narrow things down a bit.

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every time i need buttons for an accessory, i try these blocky cedar ones; i love them so much, but their day just hasn’t come yet. i think in my heart, i’m holding to use them along the front of a knitted coat, using my own handspun yarn. they’re going to need some BIG buttonholes and a narrow hat band just isn’t the right place for that. but again, i’m loving the color contrast with this fabric, yum.

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ditto for these quirky antler ones; i have just two of these, rescued back in the 80s from a designer military-style jacket that was being thrown out by a friend.  i thought for sure they might work here, but the effect wasn’t what i’d hoped for. i think we really need some color.

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another selection in natural bone from our shop—those work really well and were in the front-running for a while. they don’t have a LOT of color, but what they have is distinct and makes an interesting statement. i like these!

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but then, i tried these other persian green bone buttons. now these are more like it—they are kind of vintage but with a modern pop. i love the color against the gray fabric, especially when i step back a bit.

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right??

i’ve always wanted glasses frames in this sort of color, but have not put much work into finding them for myself.

anyway, that’s settled; it’s going to be the persian green ones (we have these too—we’ll get them listed ASAP). all that’s left on this project then is for the hat to dry completely and even that is almost done.

which brings me to that second point—what is the next sideline project going to be?

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actually, this has been languishing in a project bag since october and i really want to get it done. it’s another hat—this time for me, me, me—based on my mass transit cowl design that i released back in the fall.

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remember this version that i knit with shades of stone soup DK and some leftover briar rose fourth of july? i’ve been wanting a hat knit in this fabric ever since and i’m going to make one now, darn it, before winter is over.

again, i’ll just keep it in the kitchen and out a few repeats on here and there in the mornings and while i’m cooking. i’m hoping i can do as well with this project as i did with david’s hat . . .

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meanwhile, my new sweater project is clocking right along—i cast on for the front monday night but didn’t get to work on it much tuesday. last night during our knit night and then afterward while watching TV, i managed a good bit. and as soon as i’m done writing this i’m heading upstairs to knit on it some more. can you tell i’m anxious for a new sweater?

and speaking of kent DK, look what we got in from anne marie yesterday

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a gorgeous sample of one version of our blanket statement club project, knit in four shades of kent DKwhitecaps, white sand, beach glass, and driftwood. this version is so elegant; kent has a lovely soft sheen from its romney wool content that really highlights the textured patterning.

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omg, it’s so light and airy and SOFT! i just want to curl up in it. isn’t she a spectacular knitter? we’re so lucky to have samples of her work in our collection; thank you dear anne marie!

i also heard that jen hagan has just finished another glentrekker cardigan in our kent DK yarn. this glentrekker in gray is just beautiful; she knit it as part of the glentrekker KAL in her figheadh yarnworks ravelry group.

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speaking of sweaters, i’ve been swatching with our better breakfast yarn, that luscious dehaired alpaca and merino blend, which we are rolling out for real at the end of next week. every shade (and a couple of new ones!) in both weights will be restocked, yay!

i’ve been wanting to knit myself another ivar sweater for months, ever since my original one became store property. i mean, i am really anxious to have a gray ivar pullover. the new dark gray BBF (warm coals) is coming in over the weekend and when it does, i’ll be ready.

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i’ve swatched on two needle sizes because the first one (right) hit the stitch gauge ok but was a little loose on the row gauge. the tighter swatch (left) hit the row gauge but is a hair tight on the stitch gauge—like a half stitch over four inches. i actually think that will be fine; it’s easy enough to block out the width and inch or so.

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in this case, i really prefer the fabric of the tighter swatch; it’s springier and more stable. for a yarn with alpaca content, that’s a plus.

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and while i was at it, i knit some lacy swatches for another idea i had to knit a reversible shawlette, this time with the muesli shade. this will be  sideline project after my hat is done; i’m still deciding whether it should be a crescent or a triangle. what’s your vote?

whiteout

anne wrote this late at night:

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david picked up some gorgeous orchids on sale during a trip to the home store over the holidays. they are blooming like gangbusters and we are managing to keep them alive—score one for the home team.

the white one is doing a spectacular job of putting out, but the purply pink one kind of stealing the show, despite having less blooms.

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this one is such a diva, though—it catches a chill easily and needs to be moved back and forth from window sill to island every day or two to keep it from wilting in the draft. i gladly accommodate its fussy nature, as this spot of color is a merry island in a sea of january white and gray.

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yeah, we got dumped on this week in a storm completely unrelated to the one hitting the east coast right now. here, i thought we were expecting snow from the outer reaches of that system and BAM—we got hit from behind instead.

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between snowstorms and holidays, i don’t think the kids have had school more than three days in a row since the first of january, haha.

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not all the white is a challenge though—look at what my friend susie brought to knitting class on monday. she knit this vine flower dress from the über-soft organic pakucho cotton worsted we have in our online shop in the baby’s breath shade. how adorable is that? this dress is an easy knit and such a nice gift for a little girl baby. it will grow with a child so that she can wear it as a dress for a couple of year and then use it as a top.

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inside, we stay warm by keeping the home fires burning under pots of stew and soup, interspersed with fiery skillets of stir fry. this italian vegetable stew has several ingredients from our garden, including tomatoes from the freezer, carrots and garlic from the cellar, and fresh dug potatoes which we are storing deep under mounds of dirt in the garden, where they grew. david digs those up in batches whenever we have a bit of a thaw.

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while i cook, i add a few rounds on my natty cap whenever i have to wait for  something to boil or for the mirepoix to sweat bit.

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this new batch of kent DK in the tide pool shade is SO squishy—it’s funny how different shades of the same yarns have their own special character, even in blends. this particular batch is very bouncy and is showing some great stitch definition; perfect for this fabric, with its knit/purl texture.

i also work on the hat while sipping my first cup of coffee in the morning—starting the day with a bit of knitting helps me to get my thoughts in order. when i get to my desk, i know what i need to get done and it’s easier to avoid the black hole of email.

right now, i’m getting several new sweater patterns organized and out to the tech editor, putting together materials for the first installment of our blanket statement club, and working on the script for my next craftsy class—this one’s about sweater construction, in case you have input—which will go into production at the end of february.

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by lunch time i’ve worked up quite a hunger, so i indulge in some local color—leftovers from a spicy stir fry dinner or a small bowl of thick soup. now that is good food for warming things up.

with secret club knitting on hiatus for a short while, i’m trying not to spread myself thin by working on too many projects at once, because i want to make headway on my cam cable pullover sweater and think about my next sweater to go on the needles.

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so far, this strategy is paying off—i’ve got two sleeves finished already. and in a raglan sweater, the sleeves represent a good chunk of knitting.

after binding off the second sleeve last night, i cast on for the front before heading to bed.

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i figured getting that out of the way would allow me to launch right into some good knitting time when i got back to work on it. and as soon as i finish up this post, that’s just what i’m going to do.

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remember laura’s woodcutters toque i showed you the other day? well she showed up at the office today with it all done. isn’t it cute? it still needed a bath but i’ve taken care of that now—we’ll get some nice photos of it later this week. the yarn (our chebris blend in worsted weight) is absolutely dreamy—so unbelievably soft and with an incredible fluffy halo that gives it an other-worldy haze. can’t wait til you all can feel it too.

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well, she’s going to need that that—temperatures are going down to zero and maybe below as we speak; we are pulling i the drawbridge and getting our blankets on tonight. see you next time.