raise a frothy glass

anne wrote this around lunchtime:


thea colman has outdone herself with her new release, ommegang—just look at this gorgeous asymmetrical tunic design. and she chose to knit it in our very own stone soup DK yarn.


in her pattern description, thea mentions that the marble shade really spoke to her and it’s true—that shade has a really interesting sparkle to it.


but then barb and i got on ravelry last night to check out the test knitter’s projects and wow, there are some stunning examples in other shades too! glennae and sariMor chose the slate shade, while blueberryhill went with marble and made some mods to the pattern. carie knit hers from kent DK in white sand and it’s spectacular, too.

what beautiful design and stitch work everyone has done with this project; thank you everyone!

we borrowed thea’s prototype when she brought it to rhinebeck and david took some photos of it on sarah back in the fall


i love it with that little slouch potato cap, also knit in stone soup DK in the slate shade.


thank you thea, for designing an incredible sweater in our yarn! read more about thea at her blog, baby cocktails, or peruse her designs on ravelry. over the weekend, laura will be turning her designer spotlight on thea so we can learn more about her and her design work.

i have more to add but i have to run to a meeting, so i’m going to have to come back later to add that, haha. busy busy . . .


and cold (that’s the inside temperature on my kitchen windowsill). we all NEED a nice warm cozy sweater.

well, at least we got the furnace fixed with not too much trouble; it was a chilly few days earlier this week.

ok really, i gotta run, sorry; be back later!





sweetheart of a weekend

anne wrote this in the wee hours:


in the midst of a polar blast which blew in a ton of snow and the coldest days of the winter so far, a little warm glow sparked and grew at knitspot HQ on valentine’s day.


to start the day,  leslie, olga, and angie drove up soon after we opened, determined to make the most of their weekend get-together despite the storm. we spent a delightful hour or more chatting and drooling over yarn—i might have sold them some yet-to-be-counted-and-labeled stuff from out of the back room (sorry anastasia). and someone might have got back in the car with the brand new cabécou laceweight (it’ll be listed soon, we promise!) for a pine and ivy, or couple of stone soup fingering skeins in river rock for  a wheaten wrap, or better breakfast fingering in three shades for a sheltie triangle. and maybe just a little more BBF for a couple of wheaten cap and mitt projects were purchased too, but i’m not telling . . .

with all that knitting in their plans, i wanted to jump in that car and tag along—i hope they are having an absolute blast with the rest of their weekend.


just as they were getting ready to go, beckie arrived with her spinning wheel to show the kids how it’s done.


of course they just loved that.


the weather kept a lot of families at home yesterday after all, but the ones who braved the snow and cold to come over had us all to themselves and a good afternoon was enjoyed by all


some of them even did some knitting!


this little guy wasn’t really ready for sitting still with sticks and string, but sheyanne entranced him nevertheless with her camera—now that was fascinating.

we also got some parents to give it a try and i think that was a lot of fun for them. or something a little different anyway.

we really appreciated everyone who came in and hope that they’ll join us again some time.

when the afternoon was over, i scurried back home to get into warm clothes and put a pot of soup on the stove—potato—and i’m glad i did; it was cold last night.


after supper, i finished up work on the first blanket club chapter that will go out on tuesday.


i am so looking forward to seeing how everyone will put together their shades and pieces; i just know there will be a huge variety and some wonderful surprises, both form those with yarn memberships and those who joined up for the pattern only (eBook) option.


the BS ravelry threads are heating up and i hear there is a contest afoot—and you know that contests mean prizes.

alright then, now that my chapter is put to bed (or it will be after one last look-see from anne marie), i can get back to my knitting in earnest.


i started my natty sweater in the better breakfast DK option (in muesli, which gets its taupey color from rose gray alpaca). even though i had knit a ton of swatches, i was still really, really not sure what needle size i should go with. i wanted this sweater to drape nicely most of all, but i also wanted good stitch definition and that can result in the two being at odds when it comes to needle size.


so i began, as i recommend in my classes, with a sleeve swatch (top) on size 3.75 mm needles. i was sure this was going to be right, but after getting a few inches in, i felt like it was too dense. this fabric will become more liquid after a soak and wash, it’s true, but it still didn’t feel right to me.


so i put that one on a holder (top) and started afresh on size 4.0 mm needles (bottom).

amazing—it feels exactly right now. i just know it. even if it does become more fluid after a wash, i’m comfortable with whatever will happen. i’m keeping the first swatch because although i won’t use it for this sweater, i happen to need one for the craftsy class i’m preparing to teach—nothing lost at all. in fact, it illustrates points i need to cover in several lessons so it’s a great investment.

when something is right, it’s just right—and it’s amazing how the whole project takes off once you figure that out. my sleeve is almost to the underarm now and i believe i’ll finish that tonight.


meanwhile, i swatched the pattern in a new polwarth DK yarn from briar rose fibers called joyful—when chris asked what color i wanted to work with, i suddenly felt a need for some orange in my wardrobe (hmm, i wonder why??) and in just a couple of days, here it was on my doorstep. a juicy valentine indeed, hehe.

one of them will be a cardigan and one a pullover—but i can’t decide which. i’m leaning toward the orange for the cardigan and the natural for the pullover, but i don’t have to decide just yet. i can knit the sleeves and backs and then decide when i get to the fronts. barb will help me . . .


i finally got my little reversible crescent shawl cast on too—poor thing got set aside in the excitement of finishing up my cam cable pullover. i know it’s not very far along at the moment, but i feel as if, with the cast on accomplished, i could pick it up at any time to knit a bit. for this week, it will be my kitchen project to work on over morning coffee—an actual better breakfast at daybreak, haha (snort, i’m such a doofus). i’ll also pack it in my bag for my trip west next week.


i knew you all would seize on this little group of swatches, haha. honestly though, while the yarn is right, i’m not actually going to work with this color.


this is the real color, which i personally like a whole lot more (i like red, but not so much for my clothes). i think this skein has enough for the little sweater i’m planning with it, but to be safe—and because i have the spare skein of that red—i’m not using any of the blue for swatching.

i won’t say much more about this just now—since the yarn is a new offering and not yet available for purchase, we’ll save the evolution of this project for a little later. i will say that the tayet yarn is simply divine and i can’t way to delve deeper into that delicious blue bundle.

after all, i’ve actually got plenty going on right now—preparations for a class, a few new sweater patterns in various stages of production, and a couple of garments on the needles (plus a little shawl for good measure). i mean, that’s enough for the moment right?

i knew you’d agree—time to go knit now. have a wonderful presidents day.


black, white, and re(a)d all over

anne wrote this just before lunchtime:


happy valentine’s day!


it is snowing to beat the band here; i hope our kids valentine’s day event isn’t snowed out. we will be here no matter what since it’s just next door, but i hope we have some visitors show up, too—we have cupcakes, if that makes a difference . . . and beckie will be here with her spinning wheel.


bret’s house is festooned with valentines that announce to the world how much we and our neighbors love each other. at night it’s lit up with sparkling lights all over and trails of twinkling lights across the yard—i’ll have to add a photo later on, since i forgot to get one last night (and i was staring right at it for hours, too, from my perch at my desk).


i was hoping bret might stop in to our event today—he’s really a big kid at heart after all—but it looks like the storm may have got the better of him . . .


if you end up stuck at home due to the snow and cold (i hear it’s going to get REALLY cold tonight!), david has put together a sweet deal for today only on our 2015 BNK blanket statement club—a little discount from us to you.


haha, in fact, batches of these boxes are stacked all over the house, since we had to clear out the shop for today’s social event. i understand david is even storing as many as can fit in the car overnight (locked safely in the garage). he’s carting those to the post office throughout this morning. no worries if you’re just signing up today; packages will begin going out again on monday.


i’ve got my first blanket eBook chapter all written up and am putting all the pieces together into the layout over this weekend. in fact, most of the eBook is set to go; anne marie and i have been working hard for several months on spiffing up the pattern to be as flexible and fun to knit as possible. sheyanne, david, and our whole staff have been photographing and editing materials to make each chapter a beautiful work of art. our whole staff and friends have needles needles poised to start—let the blankets begin.


now, how about some knitting for this snowy valentine’s afternoon? what are you working on this weekend?


i’ve got a sweater underway and i started my reversible crescent shawl, plus i’m swatching again—i just can’t seem to stop, hehe. what can i say, there’s no rest for the wicked . . .


dueling sweaters

anne wrote this around lunchtime:


we may have moved the main workings of our office out of the house, but on random mornings i still wake up to find evidence of david’s late-night photo shoots.


leaving unprotected yarn about—especially soft, delicious better breakfast, tsk, tsk—is SOOooo dangerous; a rookie mistake. why, anyone could come along and just nab one for any reason! i had started the cast on for my reversible crescent shawl in the muesli shade (which i think of as a mix of whole grain colors), but was feeling just a little ambivalent, since i am now knitting a sweater in that shade (more about that later). the daybreak shade (a true silver gray) has been singing me a siren song for a few days now and what can i say?

it was laying about unattended . . . and now it’s MINE.

when we last left off i had finished blocking my sweater pieces and was about to put everything together.


i began with the raglan seams because A) they all need to be joined before the neck finish can go on and B) once they are joined, it’s very easy to steam those seams and give that part of the sweater its final finish.


once they were stitched together i threw it up on the mannequin to see how things were looking; this is actually my first chance to asses the garment in three-dimensional form, so i’m pretty excited.

doesn’t that kent DK yarn look beautiful in the daylight? so much better than in my studio under electric lights.


everything looks good—the neck opening is the size i intended, both in actual measurements and in the way it fits—high enough to make the funnel neck stand up , but not so much that it will choke me.


the top of the sleeve sits exactly where it should on the center of the shoulder to balance the way the sweater hangs. i love how the cable ended up in that spot. though i did nothing to influence that outcome, if you wanted it to hit on  a certain row, you could figure it out for your size using the row gauge, the sleeve measurement, and some simple math. then of course, you would have to knit exactly to gauge throughout both sleeves and you know what that means? yes, the S word. do you see now why i like to embrace a certain level of randomness about these things? but i digress.


after the raglan seams were done i picked up stitches all around the neck opening, including the ones from the yarn holders. i continued the cable detail back and front, while along the sides i filled in with alternating six by four ribs. i got most of this done in class on monday afternoon.

after binding off, i did pull it on over my head to be sure it would work. adding a band or collar will always tighten up the neck a bit because it adds stability. in this case, it fits me fine and i like it, but i have a really small head and neck. i’m thinking that for most knitters, a larger neck opening—both lower and wider—is going to be desirable so this is one thing i will be tweaking in the pattern (which is why we need a prototype AND some test knits).


next—and the last thing to be finished—are those long underarm and side seams. i worked on those late on monday night and early tuesday morning. this picture is kind of crappy because i was working on it so early that it wasn’t light out yet.


once those last seams were done i gave them a nice steam pressing. ok, when i say that, i don’t mean that i am putting weight on them with the iron. what i do is to get them good and steamy by touching the wet towel with the hot iron. then i remove the towel and “encourage” them to lie flat by pressing down down and holding with the palm of my hand. if i had a wooden clapper, i would use it for this job, but i keep forgetting to look for one—i like to purchase these kinds of tools second hand, where someone has already used it for years. but i’m so busy and have so many projects crowding my mind, that i lose track of things i mean to do . . .

the use of steam is an old—maybe even ancient—tailor’s tool that can be employed whenever wool needs to be molded into an irregular, dimensional shape—like a collar stand, a rolled lapel, a slightly bowed seam. it can also be used more aggressively to shape heavier objects like felted hats. it’s one of those skills that you learn to do with a certain measure of intuition—knowing exactly what’s needed, how much, and what level of pressure, is kind of indescribable; it’s just something i know. i love steam for this reason and at the same time, i wonder how many people make use of these methods any more; is it going by the wayside? i don’t know . . .

enough of my blathering—let’s try the dang sweater on already, shall we??


YAY, it fits!! it’s still a little scrunchier than it should be at its final size so the next thing i did was to sink it into a hot, soapy bath to allow the garment to relax to its final shape and size.


after a good soak for an hour or more, i squeezed the water out and laid it to dry. one nice thing about the kent DK is how airy and light it is when knit up. after a bath that removes those final vestiges of spinning oil and dirt, the fiber blooms readily and becomes a wicking machine. which means that it dries in practically no time.


the blooming fibers draws all of those stitches into straighter rows and columns, making the fabric surface a dream of sleek, vertical lines. the sheen of the lustrous romney fiber enhances the textured patterns in the fabric. the gold tones in the kelp shade that i chose to work with are especially sparkly in the sunshine.


a final try on wednesday after it was dry—it turned out exactly the way i wanted it to look and i love it.


meanwhile, barb has been speedily working through her bel air pullover in the daybreak shade of better breakfast fingering with custom moving mud buttons—and we both wore new sweaters to knit night last night.

well, i have lots more news about my next sweater project and a few other things, but i have to run to a meeting right now—catch you tomorrow, ok?