little harvest

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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i couldn’t help myself—i picked a half dozen or so of these baby summer squash so we could cook them into our eggs. and the pepper had gotten so long it was touching the dirt, so i grabbed that too; we don’t want any slugs to get the first one, now do we?

our squash plants are already loaded with tiny fruit so i’m taking advantage of the plenitude to harvest some at a novelty size. i don’t like my squash to get much bigger than an inch in diameter anyway and i love them really small for an interesting presentation on our plates once in a while.

i spent the all my “knitting” time this weekend hunkered over the keyboard writing up a pattern for a secret project and putting in some rows on that as well (almost done, yay). so i don’t have progress to show on my current public projects.

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the end of last week was fun around here because so many good things happened. first, our shipment of color grown organic cotton yarns arrived on thursday from ecobutterfly. these yarns are so cool—the cotton used to spin them browns in a range of colors from brown to green. they are ethereally beautiful.

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sarah promptly forgot everything she was just telling me about sticking to her current knitting project (a roger that blanket) til it was finished

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she fell head over heels in love with all the cool summery colors of the cotton; well, do you blame her? they really are just lovely.

they all need to be photographed, but as soon as they are, they will be listed in the shop and our summer cotton festivities can begin.

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we chose two skeins of sport yarn for a new hat design—i think this pale gray-green will look smashing on david, don’t you? he doesn’t have a cotton cap yet but when i’m done he have both that and maybe a new kerchief to go with it (he wears his susanna triangle all the time).

i’m also going to cast on and reknit the empreinte shawlette for its general release when the KAL begins. i’ll knit that during my upcoming trip to denver.

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we got out all the colors and made a list of samples we’d like to get knit up, new designs i’m hoping to do, and samples we already have on hand. we are all set to kick things off over the fourth of july (yarn will roll out this coming weekend so you can prepare for the group cast on)

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in addition to the ecobutterfly cottons, i’ve been playing around with the cotton fingering yarn offered by pura bella, the company we got our luscious cashmere from (which we were thrilled with).

their cotton yarn is also a color grown organic product and comes in fingering weight (which ecobutterfly does not have).

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it has a ten-ply construction, making for a superfine and silky surface with a beautiful pearly sheen. it is not at all hard on the hands.

i worked up the above swatch in both stockinette and the wheaten cable and lace pattern.

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because of all its plies, the yarn has a lush denseness which offsets a lack of spring in the cotton. it makes beautiful stitches and is comfortable to handle. it also has superb stitch definition. the ecobutterfly, which is heavier but has fewer plies, has all of these traits as well, with a slightly softer, fuzzier surface; it’s  a little less refined, but closer to cashmere in its texture and hand.

the pura bella washes up beautifully; while there isn’t a significant change in the silkiness of the fabric, the surface becomes even more regular and even.

this before and after comparison says it better than i can—you can see how washing and blocking improve the fabric, though the changes are subtle when you assess them individually.

just look at that beautiful shadowing and drape—this cotton performs well in a textured fabric, alright; i would love a little summer sweater knit with it. so many possibilities, so little time.

anyway, i hope you’ll join in the fun—our big cotton KAL starts soon; please join us!

we also had a very exciting meeting on friday with a new mill that we want to work with; we need to find a permanent producer for our breakfast blend line, which is everyone’s favorite.

our whole staff stayed for supper and we all talked long ingot he evening about the possibilities—SO exciting. more on that next time; i’ve been swatching with the samples they brought and we are drooling over them.

between now and wednesday, i’ll finish up swatching and take some nice photos so you can share the love; if only i could somehow let you touch them too. well, we’ll figure some thing out!

 

 

wheaten cap and mitts

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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this pattern has actually been ready to roll for some time, but we held back to dither about all the publication choices; we love it so much, we wanted the presentation to be perfect. we considered waiting until we had a sample knit in each of our yarns, plus the new cottons arriving for summer.

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then we realized what a tease that would be for everyone watching us and that what we should do is to release the pattern, start a KAL in our rav group, and give everyone a chance to knit in all the yarns together.

MUCH more in the spirit of our community, right?

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i just love the way this photo shoot turned out, don’t you? we put my ancient gap denim jacket to use; you can tell how old it is because the sleeves are roomy enough to accommodate those big 70s and 80s batwing sleeves, haha.

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but i love that it still looks great today with sarah’s very modern outfit.

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this set is super-fun to knit—the cable and lace motif just keeps you motoring along. for many knitters this will be a one-skeins project, but if you have to invest in a second skein to finish up a set, you’ll want to cast right on with those leftovers for a spare cap or mitts to put away in the gift basket.

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the pattern includes instructions for BOTH pieces and has three sizes from extra small (for kids and preteens) to large (we know who we are).

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the sizing on these pieces is surprisingly versatile—i knit the medium size in both pieces and it fits a wide range of people, making it a totally safe bet for gifting.

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and like i said earlier, we are very much looking forward to the range of fabrics that will be produced in this pattern. in addition to the breakfast blend fingering shown above on sarah we already know it looks great in our stone soup fingering yarn (above, wheaten wrap, the inspiration for the set)

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and i’m looking forward to knitting a cotton version for myself; the pattern looks great in this soft, color grown organic  cotton.

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shown here, the cap and mitts in size medium, knit in bare naked wools breakfast blend fingering yarn, color morning smoke.

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to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the wheaten cap and mitts page in the knitspot pattern shop.

if you like the look and what one exactly the same, click here to view the kit which david, emily, and erica have put together—it includes the yarn in your choice of breakfast blend fingering, stone soup, or ghillie in all of our currently available shades, plus a copy of the pattern at a reduced price. you can also knit this in chebris lace, which because of its fuzzy texture, knits to the correct gauge for this design.

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many, many thanks to my friends hattie and anne marie who speedily test knit these pieces so we could make sure to give you instructions as close to perfect as possible. and of course to david and sarah, who do such wonderful photography together; thanks so much you guys!

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felt like recycling

anne wrote this in the late evening:

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it’s been quite rainy here for the last few days; some parts of our region are experiencing heavy flooding, in fact. thankfully for us, it translates only to more mowing and weeding time as the garden sucks up all that water and turns it into something green.

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i can’t get over how fast everything is growing out there.

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you can see all my rows of seeds germinating and the tomatoes getting very bushy. but it’s been too muddy to get out and prune—that’s going on the list for this weekend.

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i am really grateful for those planting mounds that david created—all this water would be laying close to the plants if it couldn’t drain off.

speaking of floods, i think we are about to experience one of a different kind

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our squash plants seem incredibly happy at last (knock wood). and in the “what the heck was i thinking” department, i planted enough to offset any losses from the kinds of problems we’ve gotten used to seeing in our squash section.

so we will soon have an ocean tide of summer squash, heh.

from left to right above, we have yellow zucchini, yellow zephyr (which is a yellow squash that is half green, really pretty!), and tiny butternut squash already, too. the vines are beginning to spread outward across the lawn the way i was hoping; they add a cheerful note to our side yard and a nice garden border. if i didn’t have to rotate each year, i’d always plant some there.

and i noticed while looking up those links that wow, we are getting squash—as wells tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant—a LOT earlier this year than the usual first week of july. after such a late start, looks like we will be harvesting table eats this weekend. yay!

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with the solstice just around the corner, it gets light here a lot earlier too, which i’ve been looking forward to since december, haha. i’ve been getting up early every day, which gives me a little time to knit in the morning over coffee. not a lot, but enough to see some steady progress on my oculus scarf, which i’m designing in sweet georgia cash silk lace. the woodland colorway is straight out of the garden. i just love working with feather light brushed mohair—it’s very fine, but so pretty knit up.

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i’ve also been swatching with various cotton yarns to prepare for our summer cotton KAL that sarah is heading up in our ravelry mothership group. we’ve ordered in scads of organic, color grown cotton—every shade available and every weight. it arrived today and we are now trying to organize all the photography and store listings so we can open sales on it next week. what i’m swatching with above is a new-to-me brand—pura bella fingering weight, a silky ten-ply organic color grown cotton. it’s lovely and we’re thinking of bringing this in as well; i’ll expand on working with it in sunday’s post.

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another thing that i’ve been attending to are preparations for my trip to denver next week, where i will film another class for craftsy. i KNOW, thrilling, right? this one is wonderful, too; i couldn’t be more excited. i think it’s going to be one of those ones that everyone will find most useful—a survey of finishing techniques; everything you need to know to get almost any project to the winner’s circle. all those techniques you’ve been wishing would be compiled into one class—now they will be; how about that?

it’s a lot of work though—we’ve had several production meetings that ran all afternoon, there are tons of stepouts to be constructed, samples to be pulled and organized, and (as you can see) lots of graphics to be sketched so the craftsy staff can draw them professionally. fortunately, i can re-use some of the stepouts and swatches from other classes, but the biggest lifesaver is that our friend cherie agreed to help me by knitting the new ones we need from scratch (haha, i just love her latest ravater, don’t you?).

but it’s all good; we are very excited about this new opportunity and i’m looking forward to my trip. i’ll get to visit with my cousin once again, as well as my friend anne merrow, and also with our dear friends luci and scott—luci was here a few years ago to visit; you might remember that she is my friend who makes the super-cool one-minute films that she posts weekly on her moving postcard site (seriously, i could spend hours there watching films from berlin, my old brooklyn neighborhood, and now, colorado). and if you enjoy her work as much as i do, please consider using the paypal button in the right hand column to make a small donation that will help out with production costs.

which reminds me—i received my travel itinerary yesterday and i need to let all of those people know, so we can make plans. one thing i noticed is that there is a race in luck’s town on fourth of july—i should enter it, right? it will be fun.

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as for the here and now, guess what? we are finally ready to release the wheaten cap and mitts pattern. it will go on sale tomorrow (friday the 20th); david, emily, and erica are organizing a kit listing with our fingering yarns. sarah and i are scheming about which cotton yarn we’ll knit our next wheaten hats with (well sarah may actually ask her mom to knit hers).

i don’t know if i mentioned it but the hot weather has arrived here—and since it’s also very rainy, it’s pretty humid, too. iced drinks are a must whenever possible and for me that means iced coffee, mmm. i’ve taken a shine to these cold cups that beckie introduced me to last year—you put them in the freezer and the gel inside the walls turns to ice. i love them.

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anyway, i bought a few new ones this spring, but they don’t have the usual collar to help with the grip. once the weather got humid, this became annoying, so i solved the problem by cutting the leg off of a clean, slightly felted, but worn out sock. it’s one that i used handspun coopworth yarn to knit; these socks wore like iron, but eventually one gave up the ghost. david was saving this one and we came across it when he was sorting out his closet the other day, so i grabbed it for this use. much better than having all that handspun loveliness sit unused in the closet, i think.

and it has the added bonus of working a treat as a cold cup collar; it absorbs all that excess moisture, evaporates it into the air, yet it never feels soggy or even damp. and as you know, the wool adds an extra layer of insulation; you can’t ask for more!

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anyway that got me thinking about other handspun handknits that were hiding around the place and what what helpful items i could make out of those. i went through a pret-ty big felted bag and hat period before you and i ever met—and many of the castoffs from that time have been aging in the attic closet (lots of not-so-successful experimenting). i discovered this yesterday when sarah and i went up there to look for something else.

not that i needed to take a crafty break in my day right now, but we have been desperate in our house for some really decent coasters that handle moisture well and i’ve been thinking that old felted fabric could work. when i saw that bin of old felted things, the spirit hit me and i went with it—and limited myself to just a half hour’s worth.

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the first thing i did was make a straight cut from brim to crown and then cut out the flat top with its little rim—these i will use as coasters for pitchers of ice water or wine; they can double as hot pads too.

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seriously, this project takes just a few simple tools and about a half hour—if you’re trying to keep kids busy, you might be able to stretch that out by making fancier shapes or something, haha.

you’ll need scissors, something to trace for a shape (anything circular or large cookie cutters will work; four to five inches is a good size). and then something to draw with—this marking pencil was not a good choice; i tried a few other things and finally settled on a good old sharpie marker. that worked best.

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trace your shapes and then cut them out. what did i tell you—stupid simple, right?

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each of my hats made six coasters, which are totally washable, i might add.

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they were a little puffy and wobbly so i fired up the steam iron and gave everything a good pressing to finish them off.

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lovely; now they are evenly thick and flat, so drinks will have a steady base to sit on.

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i love them. i am SO making more of these—they’ll be great stocking stuffers for christmas and i’ll get rid of another box of unused stuff.  total crafting time: about 30 minutes from start to finish (including time spent digging out the felted things from the attic).

ok, i think that’s all i have for tonight and it’s time for me to put together the wheaten release for tomorrow morning. have a great weekend; see you on sunday.

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everything’s comin’ up veggies

anne wrote this mid-afternoon:

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well, maybe there’s room for a flower or two as well; why not?

what a week for gardening, eh? at the beginning of last week i was stressing just a little because i hadn’t gotten my seeds in over the weekend. so monday morning i got up bright and early, put on my garden clothes and headed outside to dig in the dirt instead of running.

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there was rain in the forecast for late in the day and i wanted to get some seeds in to take advantage of the free water. it actually ended up taking two separate mornings to get everything squared away, but i finally did it. the first day i got my greens planted in the small bed—five or six types of chard, pak choy, zen greens, and beets.

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and the second day i put on all the final touches—seeding in radishes everywhere to help with insect control and planting marigolds to help with the same. we also plan out the garden so that we can take advantage of good companion planting between the foods we harvest. this seems to work a treat where we live and our garden, which used to be a gravel parking lot, can use all the help we can give it.

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temperate, alternating days of brilliant sun and showers combined in a perfect recipe of success—within a couple of days everything ha sprouted and what was already in the ground was going gangbusters by this past weekend.

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i can’t get over how big everything gets in just a week at this time of year!

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the squash plants are already putting our tiny zucchini and yellow squash.

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and the tomatoes won’t be shown up so out came some tiny fruits on those

i had seen some tiny fruits not the pepper plants but was amazed at the size they’d achieved the next time i looked (about two days later)

these beans have been in the ground just seven days—funny thing though, the same type seeds are germinating at one end of the row but not the other, haha. my fingers are crossed that the back end beans will catch up.

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and then this beauty popped aug the other day—fiore di melanzana; how pretty is that.

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i did not get out there to prune the tomatoes over the weekend as i’d planned, darn it. i’ve got it on the calendar for tomorrow because i don’t want the vines to run away with themselves; it will be extremely difficult to prune them later.

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i’m so pleased that everything—even the parsnips and carrots—germinated on the first try. we’ve had issues in the past with certain things. i do think the consistently alternating rain/sun pattern of the last couple weeks has worked like magic; i don’t think we’d have been able to provide that same consistency with watering.

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the other day i was out there snapping some photos, when our bunny friend bounded straight toward me from the backyard and over the strawberry patch.

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he settled in the middle of the grassy area to eat clover and allowed me to come quite near, snapping photos.

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i think i was only about eight feet away when i got this one. i don’t think he minded at all; he seemed mostly uninterested in me. then someone slammed a car door on the street and he hopped away.

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speaking of the strawberry patch, we have had a bumper crop this year. our berry plants are finally producing well; i think i’ve picked three or four quarts in the last week.

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though very pretty, they are not so sweet and not really full-flavored, but the taste is delicate and interesting, with hint of lavender in it. i pick them every other day and wash them up for us to use however we please; david has been eating his with ice cream at night, i think.

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the very first batch i cut up and ate with yogurt (here, paired with key lime, mmm).

but by yesterday we really had quite a lot on hand and they don’t last but a day, so i decided we should have strawberry shortcake at least once. and since i did my long run yesterday morning, i felt i’d earned it, haha.

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david and i heard about this gluten free cookbook on NPR about a month ago and we ordered a copy. america’s test kitchen is one of our favorite shows; we love knowing the science behind the cookery. i figured if anyone had a chance of making a great gluten free cookbook, it would be them.

i’ve only had it a couple of weeks but i am really pleased with this book so far. while there are a few ingredients i needed to buy that i did not have in my pantry, once these were purchased i have been able to use the recipes without finding myself lacking of another exotic ingredient. the book offers a recipe for their flour blend which is recommended for each recipe (and requires a bunch of ingredients you might have to send away for), but they also make recommendations for purchasing gluten free flour, which is what i did. i may invest in making the flour blend at some point, but we don’t bake enough right now to warrant that.

the book focuses on recipes that would normally be made with wheat—lots of baked goods, both sweet and savory, but also any food that requires a starchy component. the main thing is the educational material that allows me to take the same concepts and apply them to familiar recipes that might not be in the book.

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anyway, for strawberry shortcake dessert, we usually like a sweet biscuit to soak up the strawberry juice. i have a couple of good recipes, but not gluten free. so i took a stab at their biscuit recipe.

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as with my regular recipe, it was very simple to make with a short list of ingredients. there were some clever hints included to contribute to the success of the outcome. now, i like to play with recipes, usually giving myself free rein to change things. but even i know that baking is a delicate balance of chemistry and gluten free baking even more so. that being the case, i stuck exactly to what the recipe said. i loved the way the finished dough felt, handled, and tasted; i had a good feeling about the final result.

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and i wasn’t wrong—these biscuits were absolutely scrumptious, maybe even as good as my regular recipe. they were soft and light with crispy outsides and a light, sweet flavor. david is pretty critical of our new baked goods and these passed his palate with flying colors. i am so trying more of these recipes . . .

ETA: ooops!! speaking of baking, i forgot to announce the winner of the pies and tarts book giveaway yesterday, darn it. the winner is . . . cherie w. congratulations cherie!

and thank you again to our friend nathalie for both the review copy and the giveaway copy; i love this book.

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in other news, our new shades of stone soup are beginning to arrive from the mill—we love the boxes that they arrived in; you couldn’t say it better, haha.

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our darkest shade, which we are naming river rock. and holy cow is this batch sooooffft! we’re also expecting a new brown, which hopefully will be the start of a second line of shades. as soon as david has these loaded in the shop, we’ll let you know.

i’ve mostly been knitting on a secret project i have going but guess what?

in my little bit of spare knitting time just before bed, i have apparently been getting lots done because suddenly, my comfy pedal pusher cardigan is almost done!

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i’m working on the collar and after that i have to add button bands and sew up the underarm seams. then i have to knit a couple of pockets. hopefully not more than a week of work left (i only work on this piece late at night while watching TV).

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this knit up in no time using our confection worsted in the dark chocolate shade (david picked it out for me). i knit the 40-ish inch chest and it will most likely be done with just under five skeins of yarn. of course it isn’t blocked yet or anything but i just love the way it’s turned out. it’s comfy, but not baggy; that’s really important to me. the fabric feels smooth and velvety; it’s going to be a winter favorite for me; i can tell. i’m going to knit it again in a dyed yarn, in fact.

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speaking of confection, look what anne C and sarah knit for a friend’s recent wedding—is that not gorgeous?? just two skeins of each shade for all that yumminess. wow.

this is a pattern we will publish near the end of the summer or early fall. we got some knockout photos of it the other day with our favorite kids modeling.

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yeah, kids and handknits just go together like strawberries and shortcake.