short and shapely

anne wrote this just before lunchtime:

today i am handing the blog over to my friend and fellow designer, carol feller, so she can tell you about her just-released book, short row knits. her book is filled with great suggestions for creating shaped parts, including sock toes and heels, bust darts (should you need them), shoulders without stair steps, and more. the book is once again beautifully photographed by joseph feller, whose photos appear throughout this post.

if you are one of the many enthusiasts of my newest design release, atlantique (see post below this one), you might want to brush up on short row technique—it is used in several parts of this garment, including its signature collar. i would even go so far as to say that short rows “make” the piece!

carol is an expert on this subject—she has agreed to talk about how to get over fear of short-rowing, how to eliminate inconsistencies with better technique, and how to enjoy playing around with this great way of shaping your knits.

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I’m very grateful to Anne for inviting me to do a guest post on her blog to talk about my new book, Short Row Knits. Since early in my design career I’ve had a love affair with short rows; they are so versatile and can help you create useful, beautiful shapes so easily. What I was less in love with was the methods out there for creating short rows. Everyone claimed to have the ‘best’ way to create them and it was very confusing! As I started digging in to the different methods it quickly becomes clear that they all work the same way, you knit to the point you want to turn, turn your work and then work in the other direction. What changes with each method is the way you join your work when you turn. Some create a ‘loop’ that is held around the next stitch, a marker or strip of yarn and others pull up the stitch from the row below. I think the specific technique is less important than understanding what you are trying to do; find an invisible way to hide the join where you turned mid-row. If you understand it you can correct any problems you’re having and apply short rows in many different ways.

If knitters work through a sample swatch learning the different ways of creating short rows it will give them to tools they need when they need to switch between methods. I use different short row methods for different situations; if I’ve got a loosely knit fabric I’ll use Japanese short rows as they create the smallest loop, for ribbing viewed on both sides German is best as it looks the same on both sides. Also remember you can even use different methods on each end of your work! You might prefer wrap & turn when you turn to a knit row but Japanese when you turn to a purl row. Working through a swatch will help you make these decisions. Frequently when you work short rows the end (left end) where you turn to the purl side of your work you can get a loose stitch. This is because when you work a purl stitch you are wrapping the yarn further around the needle compared to the knit stitch, this allows extra yarn to create a loose stitch. A short row method that has a smaller loop of yarn, such as a Japanese short row may help with this.

So experiment and see what works best for your knitting!

To practice some of the short row methods that you learn I’ve added 20 patterns to the book that use different techniques. I was lucky enough to use some Bare Naked Wools to create 2 of the patterns in the book; Arenal and Celeste.

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Arenal is a pair of toe up socks that uses Breakfast Blend Fingering (now, Better Breakfast Fingering). The yarn really helps these socks, the softness and halo from the alpaca works really well with the ribbed cable pattern and short rows. These socks are worked from the toe up; they begin with a provisional cast-on, work yarnover short row wedges to shape the toe and then joining with the cast-on you work the foot up to the heel gusset. Frequently with short row heels there is no gusset worked, this is a pet hate of mine, I’ve got a high arch and without a gusset I can’t put a sock on my foot!

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Once the gusset increases are complete you work a short row wedge for the heel as for the toe, then do your gusset decreases and knit the leg of your sock. Yarnover short rows are ideal for socks, you’re working 2 sets of short rows one straight on top of the other and with yarnovers all of the yarn ‘loops’ are effectively sitting on the needle making them easy to knit together.

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The second pattern, Celesete, uses Stone Soup DK yarn, a soft yarn that is happy to be knit at a loose gauge which allows it to bloom. This is a top down shawl that is entirely shaped using short rows. The shawl begins with a Picot cast-on for all the stitches then immediately you begin working short rows (using Japanese method) to create the curve of the shawl.

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Stitches are never increased or decreased; all of the shaping is short rows. In the book I’ve got a section talking about shawl shaping, with suggestions and guidelines for changing the shape of the curve. Finally when the short rows are complete the work is finished with a wide lace edging. I love working heavier yarns in lace, even simple stitch patterns become bold and dramatic when they’re oversized!

For visual learners you can see a lot of these techniques demonstrated in my Craftsy class Essential Short Row Techniques class that forms a great companion to this book.

The Bare Naked Wools were such a pleasure to work with, fantastic high quality, natural yarn. Thank you for being part of this book! Join us for the next stop on the tour 25th of September with Laura Nelkin.

and thank YOU carol; we really appreciate the time you’ve put into teaching us new ways to think about and expand our knitting repertoire. please do check out carol’s book—the entire pattern collection can be viewed on its ravelry pages and print versions may be purchased on amazon as well as other booksellers.

carol’s publisher, potter craft, has offered a special treat for the blog today—a free copy of short row knits to be mailed to one lucky reader. to be included in the drawing, please leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EDT on wednesday september 23 telling us your favorite shade of better breakfast fingering yarn. we will announce the winner in the blog post following. thank you all so much for supporting independent designers!

atlantique

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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can i just say—i love atlantique! it is so soft and light and airy; perfect for warm weather and yet so practical for every season.

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in spring, summer, and fall it stands alone, with sleeves or without as that piece you will wear again and again with shorts, skirts, jeans, and nice trousers. but it totally works with layering pieces for fall and winter, too.

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barb already has plans to pair it with jackets and other sweaters as the weather cools (and of course she is already knitting another with sleeves in a different color, haha).

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the secret is the fabric—these samples were knit in our new hempshaugh lace yarn, an airy blend of silk, hemp, and merino. it has all the best characteristics of these three fibers—softness, drape, and bounce in one lovely package.

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just look at how beautifully the stitches line up to make a smooth, consistent fabric—the key to garments that drape just perfectly.

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that’s important; with such a lightweight fabric, we want it to skim our figures and not cling in an unattractive way.

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this design has a bit of short row shaping along the back hem to add a little length; great for activewear.

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the armhole is high enough to give you the right coverage, even when you go sleeveless, but still super comfy so you can move around without binding.

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a pretty, pleated neck finish (more short row shaping at work) secured with a few glass buttons finishes this simple silhouette with interest.

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the body is easily lengthened for tall women, like barb (also easy to shorten if you need a more petite length).

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karen carries it off stunningly; something about the fabric just sets off her gorgeous eyes.

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the pattern is written in ten sizes and takes a surprisingly small amount of yarn—just two or three skeins of hempshaugh lace (well, ok, the skeins are very generous in yardage, but still . . .). the smallest size sleeveless version can be knit with just one skein!

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this top would also translate very nicely in our fresh lace silk/linen blend and our chebris lace merino/mohair blend, opening up the options.

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we’ve put together a kit in the hempshaugh lace option that include pattern and yarn in your choice of colors—buckwheat (on myself and karen), millet (on barb), and kasha (so new we haven’t knit it up yet). quantities are limited; this yarn moves fast whenever we have it in stock.

if you’d like a kit in another yarn option, please contact erica (operationsATknitspotDOTcom) and she will get you situated.

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you can go with several options for buttons; barb chose to use the signature BNW glass buttons created for us by moving mud. we have several other glass options as well as small shell and bone buttons—click here to see button options.

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speaking of glass accessories by moving mud, we have a selection of sarina’s custom glass hoop earrings in stock as well, in a variety of shades that coordinate with our yarns. click here to view these special pieces. add a note in your order to tell us your preferred size and shade.

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karen and i are wearing size small (36 inch chest) in the buckwheat shade of hempshaugh lace.

barb is wearing size 1X (45 inch chest) in the millet shade. some feedback on that—barb usually knits the next smaller size but thought with the lightweight fabric, she’d prefer the larger one. however she wishes she had stuck with her original size; the lighter fabric is more relaxed and forgiving than she expected.

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i have to agree with that; this fabric is so stretchy without pulling or feeling tight; it’s best to stick to a slimmer fit than to go with one that might end up feeling baggy. we don’t find that the fabric actually grows or sags, just that it rides the curves of one’s body to an incredibly forgiving degree.

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i like to say that it feels like a soft old t-shirt, no matter how many hours i’ve been wearing it.

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to purchase pattern 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!)

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if you are finishing up your triticum project and thinking about your next knit, this could be it! meet up with us in our ravelry group KAL to knit along, chat with other atlantique knitters, and post updates on your progress; we’d love to see you there!

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a little scared of the mention of the short row shaping involved in this project? our friend carol feller will be with us on monday, contributing a guest blog on the very subject—don’t miss it. she also offers a terrific (and FREE) craftsy mini class on short row technique; it’s a lifesaver.

now you go have a great weekend—knit, run, garden, LOVE in these last days of summer weather.

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notes from the gray area

anne wrote this late at night:

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in case you haven’t seen this yet, thea colman has produced another design with bare naked wools; we love her! for her stranded two-color (+accent) hat, gray rose, thea chose to work with kent DK, then sized up by knitting also in kent worsted on bigger needles.

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modeled here by her adorable daughter zoe, the DK version is shown in the tide pool and beach glass shades (but any two contrasting shades will work). a few yards of leftover DK yarn from your scrap pile to use as an accent color is all you need to round out the materials. i don’t see why you couldn’t do the centers in a variety of colors even.

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we’ve created a kit with your choice of yarn weight and shades in kent—with it, you’ll be able to knit two hats if you switch the background and foreground use of color. Use code BNW for your purchase of Gray Rose via Ravelry. The offer is good until Sept. 30th with or without the purchase of yarn! Thank You, Thea!

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a hat made from snuggly bare naked wools would be a most excellent holiday gift, stocking stuffer, or swap item. and two of them in one package? that’s the best of both worlds; one to keep and one to give away. the kit itself would be a terrific gift for a knitter, too.

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in other news, my coat sleeves are complete. now that the september ENVY club chapter has gone out the door for this month (SO glad everyone loves this month’s green yarn and patterns so much, yay!!), i can get down to business on the sweater body, which is knit in one piece to the underarm and then split—thank goodness the yarn knits quickly at a lofty gauge on big needles.

i’m not a huge fan of sweaters worked in one piece, but in this case it makes the most sense because that gigantic twining cable will be running up the side seam area and no way would i add a seam to the middle of that drama.

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the cast on last night was a struggle because i was so tired i couldn’t add the numbers right, even with my calculator in hand. but i finally got it and after that i of course knit the first row wrong—three times. well, i did go to the “i never learn” school of knitting after all . . .

i finally packed it in and will tackle it tonight. isn’t the colorway just jammin’ though?? it’s even more awesome when you can feel it. in fact, i keep stopping to admire the yarn and i’ve got to get myself to stop that if i am to knit the sweater body in a timely manner. and i don’t have a lot of time—in fact, i’m afraid if jen sees this post she will have an anxiety attack because this garment and the pattern need to be done for rhinebeck. but they will be.

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well now you didn’t think my garden had just disappeared overnight did you? sigh. it is very much alive, thank you. and putting out almost more than we can handle . . . except for tomatoes.

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we are getting just a medium number of tomatoes, but i have hopes that we will get as many as we need for the freezer by the time the frost hits. it’s supposed to be warm through september at least, and if it is, we should be fine.

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the problem isn’t the number of actual tomatoes produced, it’s the number of edible ones we are getting. unfortunately we have many, many, gorgeous red plum tomatoes with end rot, ugh. the orange, black, and round red tomatoes seem fine, but the plums are bumming me out. the orange oxhearts and the black nguyens are just scrumptious.

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we have a veritable eggplant forest with several different types—my refrigerator bin is almost full, just waiting for me to have a few spare hours to cook ratatouille and some curry.

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our greens and swiss chard are just phenomenal—i don’t think we’ve ever had such a good year for greens and i hope now we have it down because this is my favorite vegetable. we’ve been eating them almost every day.

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and i know you are just dying for a shot of the green beans because there can never be too many of those so here you go! this is another vegetable we’ve been eating nearly every day—and gladly—but i could use some fresh inspiration for cooking them; how about some recipe ideas? (nothing with gluten flours please!)

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we have all sorts of peppers coming back now that the weather has cooled a bit (they took a break during that hot, dry period we had in august). these purple island peppers are so yummy—they have a cool, sweet citrusy flavor and are lime green inside; great for salads or eating raw.

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i took a chance on this chocolate pepper but so far this is the only fruit it has produced. it’s chocolate alright, but i don’t know yet what it tastes like and i don’t know if i’ll find out—it’s already softening on the one side.

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the little salad/power greens patch that i planted while david was away is doing well; i need to make time this weekend to get out and thin the seedlings. we will be clipping baby greens in a few days i think.

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and some of the new beet and spinach greens are ready now. time to get out there and do some trimming. plus there are baby leaves to be culled all the time from the bases of the big chard plants. we will have a nice weekly supply for quite a while, if we get enough rain to keep them sweet.

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the funny old celeriac is maturing nicely; we have about a half dozen of these fascinating roots this year. i love their flavor in so many dishes; it adds a great dimension to soups made from pureed root vegetables.

i don’t have a photo of my gigantic butternut squashes, but i’m so bummed—they were so gorgeous and blemish free until today, when i see they each have little bites taken out by some nasty critter (probably a skunk). don’t be skeeved out, but i’m thinking i might just take them in and cut off the parts that are nipped (with a very big margin, i promise). i hate to see such big beautiful winter squash go to waste. does anyone else do this and is it ok??

the squirrels have been stealing tomatoes i know, but i don’t think the are the culprits behind this; i think it’s something bigger—a “squash buckling” skunk or possum, possibly a raccoon. ugh, disgusting.

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thank heavens for flowers. this is my alkanet plant that i bought at wooster in may as a little sprite of a thing. david had to move it to a pot because it was taking over his poppy bed.

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it doesn’t seem to have cramped its style any, hehe.

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ok, now we have a couple of exciting things coming up for you in the next couple of days. on friday we will release my new atlantique pattern—a cool top with a pretty buttoned neck finish to knit in hempshaugh lace. wear alone or with layers; with sleeves or without.

and with the way the weather is heading, we’re going to want one of these for a while yet.

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erica has put together a kit with yarn and pattern; quantities are limited, so don’t dilly dally if you’ve got your heart set on this one (i don’t mean to sound pushy; we really don’t have all that much of this yarn—it’s popular!). i believe we are restocking as fast as we can, but the laceweight is spun in very small batches; we can only get a certain amount each month.

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and THEN on monday, our friend carol feller will be contributing a guest blog to tell you about her new book—short row knits. she’s going to discuss some strategies for dealing with fear of short rows and techniques for making your short rows look their best.

and you never know, there just might be a book giveaway . . . actually i have it on good authority that there definitely will be one—spread the word!

alright now, off to get that atlantique pattern up and write a post about it. see you soon.

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it’s good to be home

anne wrote this in the late afternoon:

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did you have a nice labor day weekend? we did a little traveling to visit our moms and actually ended up taking a couple of extra days, so that we were gone for a full week—i KNOW! that never happens, haha!

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just before we left i ran the canton city charity chase. i haven’t been racing much this year, so i was looking forward to this one as the course is plotted to go through our neighborhood. i had to laugh when i opened my eyes that morning—after weeks without a drop of rain, it was showering outside. of course.

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no worries though, it was barely misting by the time i left the house to walk downtown to the start line. this is a smallish race which was sadly reduced in length this year to a 10k; last year i ran it as a half marathon. so we didn’t cover all the territory i’m used to running, but i did have to bust a move and run a bit faster than i’m used to. one side effect of not racing much is that i’m not diligent about speed training; i run very consistently day to day but i don’t put in time doing drills (haha, i’m not much of a coach; i like to just have fun).

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still, i didn’t do badly at all; a cool morning, nice people, and a course i love all made it a good run and i took second in my age group. plus, at the end there were fruity snacks, what’s not to love?

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back home i spent the rest of the day in the garden and later, the kitchen. i picked green beans, squash, eggplant, greens, and tomatoes. i processed some tomatoes into puree, both roasted and  stewed, then chopped some of the vegetables into parts for a curry, which i was craving for dinner. everything in it came from our garden, except for the tofu and carrots, which i didn’t grow this year.

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mmmm. after dinner i made a batch of pie dough so i could bake a fresh peach pie on tuesday to bring on our trip.

by wednesday morning we were ready to roll. i drove the first leg and david took over after a few hours so i could knit. i was more reasonable about the knitting i packed on this trip—just two bigger projects with extra yarn for each. one was secret and i worked on that almost exclusively at first so as to finish it up and get it off my plate.

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the other was (is) the project i am knitting with that gorgeous deep red vesta i showed you last week or so? mmm—full of cabled goodness. more on that later . . .

even though my mom said not to bring a lot, i did; there was too much produce to leave it sitting for five days. payback for all the times we tell her not to do something and she does it anyway, haha.

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and good thing i did—the box of vegetables i brought along was completely gobbled up by the time we left. we ate fresh greens for dinner a couple of times, we used the beans in several dishes, including this yummy potato and green bean salad, which was an absolute snap to make (just five ingredients) and can be served warm or cold.

here’s how: take equal parts green beans and small waxy potatoes (i had 1.5 pounds of each; my mom bought some fancy tricolor fingerling potatoes). scrub potatoes and cut with skin on into chunks; top beans and rinse.

place potatoes in a pan of heavily salted (about 1/3 cup) cold water as you cut them. bring the pan to a boil and reduce heat to simmer; cook til tender (about 15 mins). throw beans into the pot for the last couple of minutes and cook until they are bright green all over but still crunchy.

while the vegetables cook, whisk together 2 tablespoons of stone ground mustard, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar in a large salad bowl.

drain and rinse potatoes and beans in cold water to stop cooking and transfer to the bowl with dressing while still warm. toss to coat, season with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of fresh oil if desired.

that’s it! it’s nice to make this dish before starting supper so the dressing can penetrate the warm vegetables. it tastes great cold as well and keeps for several days in the fridge. of course you can make it fancier, but it’s just great the way it is and takes less than a half hour to make. for me, this could be dinner on a hot summer night (with peach pie thrown in, natch)

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it was very important to fortify ourselves because one of our main tasks on this trip was to tackle my mom’s garage, which had become a catchall for the overflow from her house. so much so that she has to park the car in a very particular way just so she can get out of it. i find that too limiting for comfort; she needs to be able to move freely going in and out. besides, everything was getting very disorganized too with lots hidden out of view—not good.

friday was slated as the big day. i had a feeling it was going to be an all-day, all-out, drag down fight to throw out as much as we should.

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well it did take all day, but we made some progress. mom thought we threw out too much and i think we could have done more, but at least now the boxes are labelled, food is stored all in one spot, there is some space to navigate, and she can reach most of the important items without being attacked from all sides by falling debris.

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i did lose the battle over this enormous box of department store shopping bags (there must be over a hundred, i swear. and a story for each one).

it makes me think more clearly though about my own stuff—i know i have some of these same fondnesses for things i don’t really need or use. our house has plenty that can—and should—be delivered to its next life. i keep saying that we should take a couple of weeks completely off from work and the computers to tackle a purging of our house, but i don’t make sure it happens (partially because i find it overwhelming). food for thought.

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aside from that job, we did do quite a few really fun things over the weekend—you know moss doesn’t grow on my mom, haha. we went to an interesting photography show at the albany institute of art with my cousin, david went to long island to spend an afternoon with his mom (who is back in the ICU), and we got together with my sister’s family one night. i got some nice long runs in on roads surrounding the albany pine bush and we also watched old movies at night, when david and i got some knitting done (for me, that’s the best part of ANY day).

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on labor day we took a ride to visit my aunt and detoured through Saratoga Springs on the way home. david had never visited and it’s really at its best in summer. monday was the last day of the racing season, so the town was buzzing.

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we didn’t actually go into the track (maybe another time), but we did stop in the center of town to walk around the park and fill a couple of bottles with spring water.

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it was a scorcher so we took our time strolling—just an easy-going break from the drive home.

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oh, i almost forgot—i took along my dark blue triticum sweater to see if it would fit my mom. i had steam blocked the pieces before sewing them together, but never gave the whole garment a complete soak and wash. so once i determined that she liked it and where it might need some blocking to customize the fit, i gave it a wash and laid it out to dry. it really looks nice on her i think.

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progress continued on this project as the week went on; i’ve been using the construction of the sleeves to finalize gauges and proportions (the cable is quite large and i love it). the vesta yarn by spirit trail fiberworks is absolutely divine—sooo soft and cushy! it interchanges really nicely with our own worsted weight selections as well, so i know already that i’ll be making another one of these in BNWs—probably chebris worsted (i’m thinking frappé). i’m pretty excited about it, but since it’s  a larger project, i think i’ll just report on it in bits and pieces.

the yarn is not available to purchase yet, but will debut at rhineneck next month—see it in the spirit trail booth.

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now that my secret projects are done (at least for a while) and the vesta project is clipping along well, i’ve been thinking about future projects since we left albany. even though it’s still very warm (it’s supposed to remain so during september), fall and winter are definitely coming at some point and i want to be ready. labor day just makes it feel more real. so i’ve been swatching away on ideas for outfits and layering pieces that will work together and as parts of other combinations.

in other words, the fun has begun.