on the move

anne wrote this mid-morning:

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whew, another whirlwind week gone by and suddenly it’s the start of a new month already—jeesh, where did february go?? swirled away with all that snow we’ve had, it feels like.

last wednesday sarah and i had an exciting day up in cleveland where i went to film a couple of segments for knitting daily tv. one revolved around the use of undyed, natural yarn colors and the other about fitting sweaters. this required quite a lot of preparation before we left the house, with me knitting swatches and samples and sarah making lists and packing. in the studio, sarah clicked away and erica posted all sorts of pictures on our twitter and instagram feeds while i did not take one photo the whole time (eek, sorry; i must remind her to cc me when she texts photos, haha).

anyway, when we returned that evening, the only souvenir i had of the day was this beautiful collection of slouch potato caps—one in each of our DK weight yarns. from left to right: stone soup DK in slate, ghillie sport in cream, kent DK in beach glass, and kent DK in driftwood.

that last sample is still unblocked in the photo, since i finished it up during filming. notice how much the fabric in the other samples was improved by blocking—read on to see more.

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also last week, i finally had a chance to spend time with debby and susie celebrating my birthday—because first snowstorms, then illness caused a nearly month-long delay in allowing us to get together. we went out for a lovely dinner and talked and talked. they gave me a gift certificate to the running store that i shop at and susie knit me these plain jhayne mitts, knit in stone soup fingering yarn!!

holy cow, was i surprised and pleased; i have been wanting to knit myself these exact mitts for months, but just haven’t gotten around to it. and let me tell you, they are warm. i’ve been wearing them at my desk, which is in front of the west-facing windows in our house (brrrr) and they are toasty. they’d be great for driving too, since they are nice and long in the fingers. i love them, thank you susie!

david and i had plans to travel to see my mom for her birthday as well—all dependent on the weather, of course. we really didn’t know until the night before if we’d actually get to go, but finally decided it was safe to travel.

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usually when we decide to come visit my mom, we set out on thursday and return on sunday. but i had a ticket to see my friend helena perform in peter pan on friday night so this time, we traveled on saturday instead.

whoa—what a difference it makes to drive while everyone else is relaxing or doing local errands. few trucks, no one commuting to work; it’s a different world out there. i took my turn for the first few hours to give david some time to wake up (as you might by now have gathered, he is not a morning person). this trip, we are listening to the girl you left behind, by mojo moyes.

when david took over, i got out my polartorte project and got to work; i wasn’t going to knit another, but then decided i wanted to gift one to a friend. i was just past the brim when we set out and with about three good knitting hours in the car, i was up to the start of the decreases. after a quick nap, i got back to work and by the time we pulled up to my mom’s house, i was nearly done.

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i would have settled into a chair and just kept going, but we had a date with my sister’s family for dinner. it’s always nice to be able to grab some family time when we get to albany; between their busy school and work schedules, it’s hard for them to travel to see us. we had a great celebration dinner

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complete with presents, cake, and conversation—it was a lovely evening. and when we got home i finished up my hat while we watched movies.

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now i know it looks rather ragtag in this photo; the fiber is dull and the stitches quite misshapen. but you will see later how it changes completely before your very eyes with a bit of TLC.

yesterday we got up early and while my mom read the papers and david slept in, i went for a long run on the back roads near her house. after being cooped up all week at our house, where it was bitter cold and snowed every day, it was nice to run in the fresh air and sunshine.

we visited with my cousin in the afternoon and i got back to work on a secret project i’d started and laid aside a while back.

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i can’t say too much about it at the moment, but soon all will be revealed. i’m knitting with stone soup fingering yarn and yes, it starts off with some one by one rib. it’s another thing i’ve been coveting for some time and i think it’s going to be quite handsome when it’s done.

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it got pretty cold here after dinner, so instead of going out anywhere, we all settled in to knit and watch the oscars. the living room fairly hummed with activity. my mom is knitting a baby blanket to contribute to the christ child society at her church—a group that, among other activities, makes layettes for young single moms. her parish has a knitting group that meets weekly to work on them throughout the year; in 2013 they have gifted 480 sets. in the fall, they host a community baby shower for expectant moms, where invited guests are each presented with a sweater set and blanket.

david is getting ready to start on a hat project of his own; i think he wants to knit it a squish me hat. he’s been sitting in on wednesday night classes at home and has shown interest in doing a couple of new projects. i am beyond excited, but i daren’t make too big a deal of it; i’ll let barb and susan do that, hahaha.

while they worked on their projects and i worked on mine, my polartorte was soaking in a bathroom sink filled with very hot, soapy water. i find that this is the best way to treat the fabric for its first wash.

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this is the unwashed, unblocked fabric as it  appears just off the needles. you can see that the stitches look pretty uneven, while the fabric as a whole is saggy, rumpled, and dull looking. now check this out

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this is what it looks like after a nice, hot soapy bath, blocked and dried. if you thought that something like a hat doesn’t “need” blocking after it’s completed, i’m hoping this might persuade you that it will indeed, send your knitted fabric to that next level, bringing out its natural inner glow and giving it beautiful drape.

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now that’s a nice fabric. another thing—if you think that your knitting tension isn’t nice or that your fabric isn’t even because you are doing something “wrong”, a good blocking could very well prove that it isn’t you at all. think of it as a free upgrade from this

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to THIS.

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i know which one i’d want to give as my gift.

ok, enough talk about knitting; my mom is making one of my very favorite sweets—the annual st joseph’s day treat called cavazone. i definitely want to watch.

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polartorte

anne wrote this in the late evening:

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look at how cute our three models look in their polartorte caps! they are all set for the big winter storm that is heading our way this weekend (groan).

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this is very rare for me to say, but i have to this one time: polartorte is my new favorite hat and i think it is destined to be yours, too. i’ve knit three of them so far and have a fourth on the needles now—they are addictive (and quick!)

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and the result is SOoo delicious—a cozy swirl of soft, soft wool, lush with texture and drape so that it slouches in that just-so way. it attracts so many compliments it’s almost embarrassing.

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best of all, you can knit any one of the five pattern sizes from a single skein of our stone soup DK or kent DK (check out our new driftwood shade). it’s the perfect snow day project . . .

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in fact, after the photo shoot, our little friend niya was so taken with the knits and our knitting projects, that she asked us to teach her and by evening, she was knitting away on her own little piece of work.

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it wouldn’t surprise me if she had a hat of her own on the needles when i see her next, haha.

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and i don’t know what our friend mark went home and told his partner bil, but next thing i know there are several messages on my phone telling me that friends don’t let (bald) friends get frostbite.

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well, far be it from me to deprive my friends . . . and over david went with a few hats.

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i’m sure niya wouldn’t have fallen for such a line, but there you have it, i’m a softie.

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shown above, the small cap in stone soup DK, color marble

shown below, the medium (left) and large (right) size caps, also in stone soup DK, colors slate and granite.

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to purchase patterns or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the polartorte page in the knitspot pattern shop or visit the polartorte page in our ravelry pattern shop.

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sarah and david have also put together a polartorte kit in the stone soup DK that includes the pattern in all sizes and your choice of yarn color. you can even knit a couple of the smaller sizes from one skein—what a deal.

click here to purchase the kit in the knitspot pattern shop.

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this hat has the same appealing combination of textures as my waffle creams sock design with a lush a thermal stitch to trap warmth and keep your noggin cozy. a handsome cable along each side adds a touch of classic definition to keep it looking sharp. the name for the cap comes from a popular frozen dessert available (as i understand it) in kazakhstan. the things you find out on the internets . . . who knew?

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now, there is a graft at the top of that hat, but it’s just a few stitches and i will walk you through it myself in my FREE craftsy class on grafting; you’ll be a pro when you’re done.

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many thanks to our friends mark, malia, and niya for taking some time this week to help us out with photos. we so appreciate their involvement and enthusiasm.

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and lots of knit love to sarah’s mom, anne C. who knit our largest sample; that’s a lotta hat, thank you anne!

and now, time to go enjoy some knitting ourselves; gotta get our yarn in order before the snow starts flying again! happy weekend everyone; we are traveling to visit my mom for a few days, so we will see you when we get to albany.

Going for Gold

majordomo wrote this at around evening time:

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Wow! Did the Olympics fly by, or what!? It seems like just yesterday people started chatting about Ravellenics and Cathy started a thread in the mothership group, asking if people wanted to take a virtual trek to Sochi with their needles clicking away. KnitaStitch quickly chimed in that she would love to handle captain duties and before we knew it we had a team. Sarah made this cute ravatar for everyone to use and we quickly felt team unity as we customized and posted them.

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Just before Opening Ceremonies, I was lying out all my project possibilities and convincing my mom she should join TeamKnitspot2014. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to compete since she is knitting like crazy to get a SUPER SPECIAL baby gift done for my brother and his wife. I explained to her that you’re supposed to challenge yourself, in any way you see fit. So she replied, “there is no way I would cast on anything new in this timeframe when I have so much knitting on my plate.” I replied, “there’s your challenge.” She laughed and then went diving in my stash.

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She decided to knit Matterhorn Hat in Fourth of July, to match Baby Knitspot’s Whitfield Shorty. This jacket has been a long abandoned WIP of mine and I entered it in the Ravellenic Games. Seemed like the perfect idea, right? We got our project pages loaded and officially tagged and were ready to knit. I chose to cast on oh, Baby in Koigu. Thanks to Canadian TV, we were able to cast on during LIVE Opening Ceremonies.

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Ever since this point the TeamKnitspot2014 thread was buzzing with excitement, progress pics, cheerleading, Winter Games updates, and stories about daily life during the Olympics. It was a fantastic team to be a part of! Lots and lots of people met some great challenges and while not everyone finished all their projects (including me), we got really good starts on lots of things. And quite a few knitters crossed the finish line for the team…

unionpearl Sweet Tea

unionpearl’s Sweet Tea

Cathy Hazeline

Cathy’s Hazeline

BombadilsLady Gobi Hat

BombadilsLady’s Gobi Cap

sandygale ILikeItRough

sandygale’s I Like It Rough

judetha Natty Cowl

judetha’s Natty Cowl

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Mom bound off Matterhorn in plenty of time to cross the finish line, getting her first-ever medal in her first-ever Ravellenics. Yay for CandyO!

Well…if only I finished that Whitfield Shorty WIP! I did work on it, but more and more I kept thinking it wouldn’t fit Padraig very long at the current size. So I have three of the pieces to unravel and then I can cast on the next size. Out of the four events I entered, I crossed the finished line in Cable Cross Country with a newborn Sky Cap in Yarn Hollow

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and Single Skein Speedskate with size 2 oh, Baby socks in Koigu.

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Though I only highlighted a few of TeamKnitspot’s projects, you can see the rest here. A couple people finished sweaters!

I’m pretty excited about my accomplishments. I haven’t knit that much in a really long time and it felt great. There’s something about a KAL with friends that keeps me motivated. My next thing on the needles is Winter Birch in Confection. I’m doing this as part of the Bare Naked Wools KAL with designer Debbi Stone. It’s a great one skein project and perfect for this time of year in chilly Michigan.

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The mass cast-on was Sunday, but we would love to have more joiners. Debbi has already awarded a prize and I’m running a contest for KALers in the thread now. Grab a skein of Confection and Winter Birch and join us here. Let’s keep this team knitting going!

i’m finished

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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ah, our weather finally broke this week; for two whole days now, the temperatures have been above 30 degrees. ok so what that it was gray and rainy all day today with thundersnow showers?

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yesterday was actually nice; even what you’d call warmish, with sun and everything. i took full advantage and got a longer run in while i had the chance.

don’t think that makes us complacent . . .

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despite the spike in temperature, our front walk still looks mostly like this; heaven only knows how long it will take those snow banks to melt.

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our front yard looks like a gnome’s winter village.

before i get into knitting news, erica and susan have entered our business in the fedex small business/big grant competition. our next step is to collect votes from readers and customers who love our work; businesses with the most votes will move on to the next level of consideration for a grant. and that’s where you can help us! readers are allowed to vote once per day through february 23rd, so please help us out and cast your vote today and each day until tuesday next week. thank you!

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so it’s windy and gray outside; what’s new? inside however, things are just as they should be—lots of knitting and yarn and good people. now that this months’ club chapter has been released, i can turn my attention to finishing up some other projects that are on the needles. my cowl in spirit trail verdande (color wild blueberries) came off the needles yesterday morning.

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and went straight into the blocking bath. one skein was the perfect amount for a shorter cowl

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plus a generous gauge swatch.

the fabric relaxes quite a lot when it’s washed and because the yarn has a pretty tight twist, it takes a while to dry. but once it’s completely given up any moisture, it regains its springiness very nicely.

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yet it has beautiful drape for a piece like this, which has some built in shape to accent the stitch patterns. it’s a long story (which i’ll tell you another time), but as a child i experienced a pivotal mind shift while viewing a piece of op art painting—my first exposure to the genre. recently, i realized the importance of this moment, which has shaped the way i looked at the world ever since.

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in a similarly sudden way, i stumbled across a set of stitch patterns that brought the whole event rushing back to me and i thought it might be time to transform this experience into a present day work. so this little series of design is based on my op art moment.

the cowl is the first piece in the series and i plan a couple of others, all in different weights of the same yarn blend (merino/cashmere/silk), using stitch patterns that are similar, but contrast in scale. so far the marriage of this yarn with the pattern is perfect; rich and full bodied but with great drape. i can’t wait to do more

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i also finished my polartorte hat and i love it. several readers wrote to ask about the yarn which i neglected to link to in my previous post about the hat. i’m knitting with our stone soup DK, in the marble shade and it IS the loveliest silvery gray, with a  bit of sparkle from the sheen of the fibers included.

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this is another great piece to learn on; between learning to cable and doing the graft at the top, it’s got at least two good lessons.

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i got this one blocked right away too; it’s so easy with smaller pieces. i can put them on to soak while i’m starting the coffee in the morning and when i go to get a second cup, i can take it out of the bath to begin the drying process. by keeping it near my desk or in a spot that i pass by throughout the day, i am reminded to turn and reshape it frequently, so the yarn regains its light, lofty  personality and the stitches plump up and fall into nice even lines.

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seriously, you could even bring a small project to the office and baby it throughout the day, it’s that easy (on the other hand, maybe that’s one reason i never did fit into office culture very well?).

clean and even more sparkly, it joins its siblings . . .

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look how handsome they are! now to get some nice photos; sarah and david need to organize that and nicole will put a kit together (just one skein makes any size, yay!). soon it will be ready for release, yay.

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we are very excited to be participating in the shalimarch event this year, with a new design to offer in shalimar enzo aran, a twelve-ply superwash merino yarn. i thought this would make an excellent blanket, soft an warm and drapey, yum!

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i thought a design based on our very popular roger sock pattern would be fun—such a cushy texture; what’s not to love?

we asked vanessa if she’d like to knit the test sample. or we thought we did anyway—poor vanessa, received the sample yarn in the mail and thought it was something she’d forgotten she ordered; both myself and erica thought the other was getting hold of vanessa to ask, haha.

no worries thought; she was happy to say yes, since she’s been laid up with a bad knee again. i think she got the yarn a week ago and i sent her the pattern on sunday. and in true vanessa style . . . wah-LA

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she’s done.
and i’m stoked; it’s really nice, isn’t it? it will be beautiful to photograph. and another great practice piece for sarah, who is learning to block.

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no time to waste admiring our work though; we’ve got a jam-packed calendar and lots to do before next wednesday, when i go up to cleveland to tape a couple of segments for knitting daily TV. in one episode, we’re going to talk about fitting sweaters and in the other we’ll chat about using undyed yarns. i will demonstrate my grandma’s cast on, as well as how to close the top of a hat nicely and weave in the ends.

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since hats are so popular (and essential) this winter, i’ll be demonstrating these techniques on samples of the slouch potato hat that we haven’t yet released (it will be out there by the time the episode goes live). it’s a great example because we happen to have it knit in several different yarns/fiber types.

i’m knitting it right now in our kent DK. this pattern is really similar to the scotty cap but the brim does not have the button detail and it’s designed for a heavier yarn (so the stitch counts are quite different). anyway, i just love the way it’s working up in our beach glass shade of kent—so glossy and elegant. the top will have lovely drape; just the right amount.

and with that, i am reminded that i have lots of swatches to knit before next week too—i better shove along and get to it. see you in a couple of days!

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