good stuff

anne wrote this in the early morning:

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one last red and white photo, from a few mornings ago when i blocked david’s finished christmas socks. they turned out so cute and look so fluffy and soft after a nice hot bath. if they look a bit different to you, you’re not mistaken—the second sock has a bigger proportion of the upper calf pattern; i like that design better.

well, i hope you all had a festive end/start to the year—we celebrated with food, of course; it’s been such a pleasure to have full use of our kitchen for holiday events this year.

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i haven’t made lasagne in such a long time and i decided a couple weeks ago that this is what i wanted to do for new year’s eve. we prefer the vegetarian version which suits our tastes as well as our friends.

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before i even put the coffee on yesterday morning, i got a pot of tomato sauce going on the stove. a vegetarian version is very simple and quick to get started—just some garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, salt and pepper. this pot was mostly made with the frozen crushed tomatoes i put up on labor day, with one can of my mom’s favorite puree to help thicken the sauce.

next i fired up that big sauté pan to cook the spinach and mushrooms for the filling.

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i’m a little picky about lasagne—i only like it made with homemade pasta. when i lived in NYC i used to purchase it, but we can’t get that here so now i always make it.

i haven’t made pasta since switching to a gluten free diet, but i wanted to try; not only would i be eating it, but a couple other of our guests are also on GF diets. but i was nervous—there are as many gluten free pasta recipes as there are pie dough recipes and similarly, there are VAST differences between them. and the last thing i wanted was an unpleasant pasta experience of my own making; life is too short.

after reading several complicated ones, i landed on a very simple recipe from a food blogger/podcaster with a nice italian (i think) name and figured this one was probably my best bet. funny enough, when i compared it to the recipe in the gluten free cookbook from america’s test kitchen, it was nearly identical to theirs, with the same ingredients in mostly the same amounts. since i’ve had really good luck using the ATK GF recipes for the most part, i found this reassuring.

i was making a regular pasta lasagne too, just in case. david tried to talk me out of making two, insisting he would be just as happy with a gluten free one, but i wanted to test them side by side (and since he does NOT eat foods he doesn’t care for, i didn’t want to have to have to eat all the leftovers by myself).

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the dough went together easily and without and funny stuff happening. it held together very well; while  not as elastic as the wheat dough, neither was it crumbly or sticky or at all difficult, in fact.

after the first pass through the pasta rollers especially, it pulled together and became silkier with each pass; only the edges remained  a little ruffled (which is fine)

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to prevent it from drying out, i laid the strips between a couple of slightly damp towels while i rolled the wheat dough and blended the cheese filling. the sheets did not stick together at all while resting, something i always have to deal with in a wheat dough.

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the difference in handling the wheat dough immediately after was startling, actually—it is noticeably more elastic and silky. they were both nice to work with, though markedly different.

by the time i got the pasta rolled, the fillings mixed, and the lasagne out together, beckie was on hand helping out and it was nearly time for people to arrive. wow, the day was flying by. after filling the pans, i had a couple strips of each dough left over so i cut those into noodles that we can fix another night with a simple sauce for a real taste comparison.

i put the two pans of lasagne in the oven and made the antipasto—here’s where bad blogger took over and i forgot to take pictures for a while.

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the next time i remembered, we were all seated at the table grazing the antipasto, shrimp cocktail, and tapenade. for this celebration the antipasto was made up of cheeses, roasted peppers, tomatoes, olives, and artichoke hearts. growing up in my non-vegetarian family, it would have also included salami and prosciutto.

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when the lasagnes was done i got it out of the oven and let it rest for a bit while we lingered over preliminaries—that’s the secret to keeping it from falling apart. just as a roast or a turkey slices better and prettier when it sits for a bit, so it is with lasagne.

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here they are side by side, with the GF version in front and the regular one behind. they were both a big hit—everyone who tried the GF version declared it the best and honestly, i could not detect any way i would say it was different or less tasty than my last regular lasagne experience.

haha, if it looks like more was eaten from the regular pan, that’s only because we GF people had not made our way to second helpings yet, while the guys had all cleaned their plates twice in no time.

silly me, i did not get a photo of the gorgeous dessert the helena brought—one of her decadent GF chocolate cakes.

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lucky for us she left the last two pieces behind for david and me—we’ll probably indulge later tonight.

i am knitting up a storm, but having finished up all the gift knitting, i am working only on secret projects for a couple of days—so nothing  i can share just yet.

however, i have a few new projects i want to start, at least one a sweater. i even have the yarn here waiting to be wound up. i’ll be back in a couple of days with some new knitting; in the meantime, stay warm and enjoy yourself.

today, i got up early to run my first race of the year and immediately afterward, emily, erica and i headed southwest on a cross-state drive to visit the mill which produces our better breakfast yarn and now, all of our mohair blends—chebris and cabécou lace and sport, plus the new chèvre—all those luscious gray samples i showed you the other day. we are super excited and will bring back a full report with photos next week.

speaking of emily, she has a quick update to end the post:

We have a few new things on the store site, so i thought I would send the links for the ones we haven’t talked about yet

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New Kent DK White Caps

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Better Breakfast Fingering Daybreak

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now this is gray i can handle. have a great weekend everyone; see you when we get back.

ring it in

anne wrote this at around evening time:

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an excellent close to 2014 everyone—THANK YOU! while our office staff is off for a very much deserved holiday, i went through the numbers to gather a very rough idea of our fundraising results to report today.

and it looks like we did very wellif i’m not mistaken, we should end up with the share from sales totaling somewhere near $3500—about $100 more than last year. and if that’s the case,

ETA: update from emily today . .  . the final total intake is $3656!
over 200.00 more than last year. YOU GUYS ROCK!

david and i will kick in on the behalf of Knitspot, LLC to bring that goal up to $4000, for a great finish. final numbers should be in our hands tomorrow and i will report on that over the weekend; who knows, maybe it’s even a little higher.

thank you each so very much for helping us realize a great completing to this project once again—you rock.

meanwhile, our scholarship recipient brandy, wrote me again this week after she’s had a little time away form classes and exams to put together a series of photos and notes about her fall semester at school. so i’m just going to let her take over form here.

Dear Anne and Knitspot,
Sorry this has taken me so long to send, I tried earlier this week to send it and it wouldn’t, and I hadn’t saved a copy so it got lost. I wanted to include some holiday photos as well.

I finished the quarter well with an A, A- and a B. I am looking forward to next quarter as well, I am taking two art history classes and a studio art class and still interning at the gallery.

Visiting family has been great, but stressful. I am staying with my grandma and visiting a lot with my sister and her kids. There is always so much going on when everyone is around. It has been a nice rest from all the school stressors though. Attached are photos of what I have been up to since last year, I hope I have the right descriptions with the correct photos.

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1. This is from last February when it snowed in Bellingham.

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2. These are the seagulls that were attacking us when I went to the beach with my sister and her kids over the summer.

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3. I watched the sun set over the water on that trip it was so beautiful.

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4. These are my sisters children whom I love so very much.

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5. This is me when I finished hiking to the top of the oyster dome, it was the kicking off point of my weight loss routine. It took five hours for my roommate and I to do. We plan to do it again to see if we can do it faster.

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6. The view from the top of the oyster dome.

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7. This little guy was very friendly he came right up to the hikers at the top of the oyster dome.

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8. This is Casa Batllo by Antonio Gaudi, I spent all this last quarter reading books, articles, and watching documentaries so that I could write a 24 page paper about this building. I’m glad to say that I received an A on the paper!

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9. This is a fall specialty of the cafes on campus, its called a Cup of Love, and its an eggnog chai latte, it is so warm and creamy.

10-11. These are some of my expirements with different veggies, the mix of roasted ones are zucchini, crrok neck squash, asparagus, potato, onion, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes roasted in olive oil. The other is bacon, garlic, kale, with eggs and toast.

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12. This is from the day it snowed when I was visiting my family over thanksgiving.

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13. I made this cake for my neice on her third birthday, it didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped but she loved it.

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14. This is a recent photo of me.

15-17. These are my Christmas decorations I hung in my apartment, I made the little tree from stuff I found at the dollar store since we couldn’t have a real one.

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18. This is the tree at my grandparents place, they let me decorate it.

 

I hope you all had a nice holiday and have a great 2015!

Brandy

 

fat tire mittens

anne wrote this mid-afternoon:

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looking back over the posts for the month of december, it’s been a month of joyful red—why stop now with one last pattern to squeeze into 2014?

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here we have a little something to match the snow tire scarf, our 2014 red scarf scholarship fundraiser pattern.

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which is also now finished and complete with final photos—if purchased previously, you can redownload the final version any time now from wherever you purchased it.

sheyanne and laura have created a little video demonstrating the many ways you can wear the snow tire infinity scarf.

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and if you haven’t bought one yet, please consider doing so now—here or here—every dollar of the retail price will go into the scholarship fund, but only through midnight on december 31st!

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emily has been tallying the numbers for the scholarship fund and says, “it looks like we have collected $2,665 total so far.” we have not quite met our goal yet, so sales from the mitten pattern and kits would help out a lot.

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the fat tire mittens are textured in the same patterns as the scarf and knit up in a jif in worsted weight yarn (or any yarn that knits to the right gauge). we all just love them—so cozy and warm, perfect for the freezing weather that’s about to descend on us.

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and for the next two days, we will add the proceeds from this pattern to the scholarship as well—we’ll wait while you scurry over to our online shop or our ravelry shop to get a copy.

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here we show the mittens in size medium, on the right in our cream ghillie sport DK and at left in our red festivus worsted (now sold out for the year), sorry.

HOWEVER . . .

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remember that gorgeous kent DK in mussel shell that i showed you yesterday? well, just after i posted, fourteen boxes of yarn arrived at knitspot headquarters, some of it in this very deep gray.

david and anastasia got it listed in our online shop right away so it would be available for this pattern release.

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erica B has created a fat tire kit option with yarn and pattern—click here to purchase.

many of the snow tire scarf kit options include enough yarn for an additional pair of mittens as well.

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i think these would make an excellent valentine for someone special, don’t you? maybe the mitts for someone you like and the whole set for someone you REALLY like, haha.

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i’ll let you decide.

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i hope you have a VERY happy, happy new year’s celebration. we’ll be cooking and ringing in the new year with friends; i am very much looking forward to it.

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tomorrow i have a special post to bring you from our scholarship recipient brandy, who sent me a beautiful note and some additional photos from her life at school.

and i’ll be hoping that the morning of january 1st brings the good news that our scholarship goal will be met—please let’s move it forward with one last great push.

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thank you all so much for another incredible year!

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a million and one things

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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i’ve been posting plenty but haven’t said much about what’s going on around the house over the last week, what with all the holiday preparations.

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just a week ago in fact, i spent a good deal of time in the kitchen making a big pot of soup from the little army of butternut squashes that stood on my kitchen countertop throughout the fall.

i thought this would be a good main dish to serve at our monday afternoon knitting class christmas party, held in our home this year. the squash went into the oven and were well cooked within an hour or so.

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then i scooped out the flesh and puréed it well, although there were some bits of skin that stuck to the soft parts; scooping didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope.

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so i dug out my faithful foley mill and sieved the purée through that to get those last remnants separated.

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just as i was finishing up the purée, our neighbor connie came up the walk with a couple more pudgy butternut squashes to share, haha. her dad had quite an excess of them in his garden, which is how i came by the ones i used for the soup i had underway.

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and as a treat for the birds, i roasted all the d=seeds from inside the squashes to put in our new feeder. when they were roasted and cooked, i mixed them into our bag of bird seed. the little critters really go for them.

i set the finished purée aside while i sweated a mirepoix of celeriac, carrots, parsley, celery seed, fresh ginger, garlic, and onion in oil with a  bit of butter; to this i added some vegetable broth and potatoes cut up, seasoned with salt and pepper, and cooked all of that together until the vegetables were very soft. then i pureed that mixture too and blended in the squash.

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the potato mixture made the soup creamy without adding a lot of fat or dairy. at this point, i seasoned it further with a bit of nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, cumin, ginger, more salt, and pepper. it tasted yummy. at this point you can store it away in the fridge for later or even freeze it.

when it’s time to serve, you can add unflavored soy creamer, a dollop of real cream, or sour cream if you like, or just eat it as is (it’s plenty creamy without any of those).

our party was just lovely; we so enjoy this annual celebration. i was so relaxed and in the moment that i forgot to take even one single photo!

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while i was cooking, david passed through the kitchen sporting his newly completed squish me cap, knit in breakfast blend DK in the morning smoke shade. it fits him perfectly and looks great—isn’t he a good knitter?

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speaking of david, the other night he let us all know that he plans to participate in our blanket statement club by knitting a large sampler blanket in kent DK

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while he worked on the original sampler blanket, knit last winter for our friend kim, he commented several times that this would be an excellent way to learn more about different stitch patterns and to get some good knitting experience. i say, go for it david.

you won’t catch me saying no to another blanket . . . although who knows, maybe he’ll decide to gift it to his mom.

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after monday’s party, i spent most of tuesday evening and wednesday preparing for christmas eve; beckie and i invited several friends to share the evening over a traditional feast of fishes. i cooked a large pot of calamari in red sauce along with pan-fried smelts.

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we also had everyone’s favorites salad of sliced oranges with anchovy, garlic, and olive oil dressing, black olives, and pepper. it’s an unusual combination that doesn’t sound good until you taste it and then WOW, it’s amazing.

that evening is quite a production actually, with four courses and guests to share them. it’s no wonder that once again, i did not take photos. too bad too; the table looked so pretty with candles and large pine cones at the center.

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somewhere between last saturday and christmas day, i managed to get davids’ gift hat finished and blocked, but i can’t remember exactly when. i just love the way it turned out. the color on top is just what i had in mind, though any one of the shades in the brim would be equally successful, i think.

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i dried it inside out and right side out, turning it frequently to prevent creasing.

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once dry, the fabric was just lovely—so even and soft to the touch, with beautiful stitch definition.

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the lining fabric bloomed really well in the wash and all those loose, uneven stitches were now fluffy and  straight, supported by escaped fibers.

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and herein is the success of the hat—a cozy padding of pure cashmere against the skin; what could be more decadent?

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it seems to be the hat of choice for the time being . . .

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he wears it almost every day.

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you probably are wondering whatever happened to the christmas socks i was knitting david as well.

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well, ever since i finished the hat, i’ve been dragging those around everywhere i go to finish them up and i did manage to get one done in time.

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i want to get the other one done for new year’s day and so far, i’m on track to accomplish that

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as of the is morning i had turned the heel, picked up my gusset stitches and started the decreases for the foot. i also redesigned it a bit

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i wasn’t happy with the proportion of the basketweave top to the windowpane patterned leg on sock one (back), so i changed it on sock two (front).

these will also look WAY better once they’ve had a trip through a soapy, hot water bath. for now, though, they are scrumptious even as is, with a dense cushy hand, perfect for the coldest weather.

somewhere in there, i did manage to block and graft my snow tire scarf knit in ghillie sport/DK.

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for this one, i put a half twist on the scarf before stitching the graft to make a mobius

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it hangs so beautifully and drapes so well when doubled up.

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in between all of that, i started and finished another work-related project—remember when i said that i should knit a pair of fat tire mittens to match my cream colored snow tire scarf? (or maybe i said that only in the rav threads, i can’t remember now).

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anyway, i did it. mittens go so fast and take a surprisingly small amount of yarn—if you bought a snow tire kit in the ghillie option, you would have plenty for both mittens and a scarf (plus, we would put some of that money in the scholarship fund—that’s a win, win, WIN).

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(isn’t it cool how much the fabric changes after it’s washed—i love this).

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we even got the photo shoot done yesterday—which means that we should be ready to release the mitten pattern by monday night or tuesday.

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i want to add sales from this pattern for the last couple days of the year to our scholarship fund. i’m hoping we can sell enough to get us to our goal; sales have been flagging this week while everyone celebrates christmas and we are still quite a bit short of where i’d hoped to be.

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wouldn’t this be an adorable valentine’s gift? what would make mid-february more fun than a sweetheart set of mix and match mittens and scarves?

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in fact, yesterday we did several back to back photo shoots to take advantage of the warm weather and good light. afterward, we all gathered for a little dinner and knit night.

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the enthusiasm actually began that morning when we held the first beginning knitting class in our shop, attended by several local students and taught by laura lazarites.

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emily’s friend robert is a carpenter who has been wanting to learn to knit, so she signed him up. he had a great day and as you can see, cannot seem to put his knitting down.

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such an intent group all around—david had to prod everyone to put down their work in order to eat the yummy indian food that emily and erica brought.

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in addition to being an artist and modeling for us, sheyanne is a talented baker and brought along some gluten free cupcakes.

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i had something to share as well, which i’d been keeping for a special treat.

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a pyramid of chocolate that i picked up at a food festival in portland OR last fall (chocolate will keep very well if you take care of it).

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ever since i brought this home i had been waiting for an opportunity to have a chocolate tasting, so when dinner was done i set up 10 little plates along the island, each with chocolate from a different country of origin.

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david made a nice pot of espresso coffee to go with it.

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laura assured me that i should not worry about my drug habit—wine, alcohol, and coffee are all easy enough to explain away . . .

i don’t feel defensive about it at all, in fact—do you see how little i had done on sock #2 at this point and how much i got  done by the morning? (see above).

speaking of sharing and imbibing . . .

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sample skeins of the new the mussel shell shade of kent DK arrived this past week—a beautiful true gray, how pretty is that? we didn’t really have a good idea of what this shade would be like, but we’re happy that it’s a blue gray; a new tone for the kent lines.

and, as i mentioned the other day in the ravelry threads, we also have several other new yarns in the works. all of our mohair yarns are now going to be spun at our ohio mill; this will be a great change, because they have more flexibility and a great interest in spinning one yarns for us.

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with this wonderful opportunity, we are going to make our cabécou in lace weight at 1000 yards per four ounces. for future production, we changed the wool content from romney to coopworth, to take advantage of a source for soft, bright white coopworth fiber in our region.

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we are also trying this blend with tussah (wild) silk, which has a golden sheen rather than white, giving it a burnished quality that i rathe like. sample skeins arrived the other day and we couldn’t be happier. the yarn is fine but with a nice firm twist to give it body and great stitch definition. and still with that knockout sheen, maybe even more so.

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most of the samples were unwashed (right), but one skein was washed (left). the washed skein made the mill owner nervous because in the course of fluffing up, the escaping fibers make it appear a bit uneven; it’s hard to tell if this is a spinning issue or not. the unwashed yarn looks silkier and more even because it’s oiled; personally, i prefer it that way because it behaves better during the knitting process. so we are testing the washed against the unwashed to make sure they’ll each have identical qualities after drying. if pre washing doesn’t change the final result, we can sell the unwashed yarn with good conscience.

if we do see some undesirable result—such as biasing or crimping in the fabric, we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and fix something in the spinning. my preliminary guess would be that we’d have to relax the twist a little. but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

the good news is that we should be able to resolve this quickly and have the yarn available by late winter or early spring, just in time for lace knitting season.

now, you might want to get a drool rag under your chin for the next item.

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this is our chebris blend in a two-ply worsted weight, using gray mohair and gray merino top. omg, it’s as light as air and SOOOooo squishy soft. we are falling allover ourselves to touch it as often as possible.

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doncha just want to reach into the computer and pinch its chubby lil cheeks?? and yes, that is the lace weight i was just talking about to its right; a change of background makes it look completely different in color, doesn’t it?

it’s the most uncanny thing, how color is so relative—look at the chebris worsted on the other background.

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in this photo all the gold is highlighted and on the wood table, all the blue-gray is featured. same exact ball of yarn, i swear!

alright now, another day is done and it’s time for me to go knit. take care and see you back here with  mittens on tomorrow!

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