an event-full month

anne wrote this in the early afternoon:

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hello, did you wonder where i had disappeared to? it’s been a month filled with travel and just a few days at home so far—i hardly recognize dear david after being away so much!

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almost as soon as we got back from visiting my family over labor day, i took off again for waterloo, ON to speak at knitter’s fair and teach at shall we knit? on the way i knit on the last piece of my dock and cabin sweater—the remaining sleeve—which i had started on my last day in albany, but hadn’t worked on much in the days i was at home that week.

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by the time i got off the plane i was just a few rows away from binding off and would finish it up that night, once i was settled in my room after dinner. woo-HOO; this sweater is big and somewhat slow going (for me), having been interrupted numerous times in all sorts of ways. i am thrilled to have the pieces done and ready to begin seaming (more on that later).

i was last at knitter’s fair about five years ago and the event, now in a new venue and with more participants, has grown even better than it was back then. this is an indoor retail show—no animals—with shops and indie producers making up the vendor list.

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the shall we knit? booth was packed with yarny goodness and even had a feature corner for our bare naked wools yarns, some of which which karen carries in her shop.

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for the fair, she brought in a trunk show of additional yarns that she doesn’t normally have on hand and showed them alongside some beautiful sample knits (i especially love that caïssa sweater in stone soup DK, clasped with a jūl closure (upper right of photo); i might need one of those myself.

i think the doors opened at 9 am or so and by the time i got there at 11, the aisles and booths were thronged with fiber enthusiasts. i was to give a talk at 1 pm, but needed to do some yarn research for the lace scarf book, so i took a walk around the floor to see who was there and i found plenty of familiar faces.

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like our friend kim of indigodragonfly with her gorgeous skeins of hand-dyed yarn, yum . . . i may have found a skein there that i couldn’t leave behind . . .

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it’s chameleon sock; i couldn’t resist this iridescent, muddy gray/green/black with the color name we are all just living in idris elba‘s world (wow, you got that color name so right) everyone on hand agreed that i should not, could not leave it behind—it is SO me. kim knows me too, too well, right down to the fact that i’m a luther fan. that skein was lying in wait for me . . .

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and then quite, quite unintentionally, probably because my wallet was already open and it was so close by, i also grabbed up a gobstopper just because. just because i love it to bits, that is, with its wheat and corn colored center, rimmed with perfect blue greens—a quintessential autumn palette of non-autumnal colors; exactly what i wanted without knowing it.

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what i was really supposed to be doing was looking for a red yarn for the lace scarf book. oh and i found a few. the two on the left are from georgian bay fibre co; they have the softest ever BFL yarn. i am dying to make something with one of these skeins soon, just so i can wash it and feel it’s flannelly bloom afterward. and the skein on the far right is a quiviut/angora blend; i can’t remember the vendor’s name just this second but it’s delish and on its way to a sample knitter to become a scarf.

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before leaving home, i had washed and blocked the scarf samples that had not been previously stretched. i was only home for three days that week, so i did two batches on two different evenings and got them all squared away. all i needed was to decide on the last skein of yarn and i thought a red would fit the bill.

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with those shopping errands complete and several red options under my arm, i headed for the speakers area to set up my trunk show and get ready for my talk.

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i was a little nervous, but as the seats filled up and i saw the high percentage of smiley, welcoming faces, i relaxed and enjoyed the event. as with every other visit i’ve made to the kitchener-waterloo area and talks with their guild members, this one was a delight. thank you to everyone who took time away from an exciting shopping day to sit and listen to me!

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after the talk i took one more spin around the show to let the adrenaline drain away and this time, i found a tiny booth with some seriously gorgeous romney wool yarn that i could not keep my hands off of. look at the gleam on this skein! i don’t even know what i’ll make with it, but i can’t wait to find out, haha.

the next day was filled with classes at shall we knit?. first, yarn voyage in the morning, which is always such a treat to teach. i think most times, the students love it too; there is so much to know about everyone’s favorite subject—yarn!

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then in the afternoon, we had a shawl project class for edmonia. a more relaxing and low key class, we worked our way through the pattern for a tiny doll-sized version of the piece, practicing all the stitch patterns and construction techniques. another good day—but i was so engrossed in my work all day that i never took a photo, not even of karen’s adorable destination shop. sorry . . .

the next day i was heading home; i had a lot to do in the few days i would be there before my next trip the following friday. i love my stack of finished pieces; so satisfying!

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at home, my main priority was finalizing the september pairings club chapter (spoiler alert in that link!), but one evening i took a little break to block the two front pieces so i could graft the little yoke that runs around to the back.

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once joined, i was now able to pick up all around the front edges for the button bands and neck finish. before i started though, i checked to make sure that the yoke would fit into the back piece, once it was blocked.

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the geometry (? not sure if that’s the right word) was a bit of guesswork, but it looks like once the back is blocked it will fit correctly.

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for reference, this is what the original looks like in back.

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i have the old inspiration garment spread out on my workroom floor because i find myself continuously checking details as i near completion.

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buttons for instance—once it’s ready for button bands, they need to be finalized and having the old sweater out will help me pick the right ones. since the stone soup fingering yarn in color pumice is a slightly different, cooler gray than the original, i’m going with black horn buttons for my new version. the thing is, what size?

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the old sweater has one-inch buttons like these (from our shop) but when i lay them out on the fabric, they seem more dominant than i would like in the dark color.

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these buffalo horn ones are nice; little smaller, streaked with shading, and textured, they are certainly in keeping with the yarn.

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but then i also have these, which i purchased at churchmouse yarns some years ago during a teaching trip. they have a buffed surface with some vintage style cutwork and a shank at the back. i’ve been trying to find the right project for them for some time because i just love the look.

after consulting with mister style (that would be david) he agreed that these are the ones. the nice thing about using these buttons is that i can work a simple eyelet buttonhole to fit them, which is my preference; the larger ones would require a one-row button “slot”. not difficult to work but sometimes hard to get the right fit and i was running out of patience for this part of the project, haha.

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so, i am now happily working through the neck and button bands; after a false start where i hadn’t picked up enough stitches (the bands were puckering), i think i’ve got the right proportion now. the rows are very long and worked in twisted rib, so it’s a little slow going, but i’m making progress and have completed the buttonhole row.

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today i will block the back and sleeves to be ready for the final seaming steps, hopefully later tonight. soon you will see a finished cardigan.

in the meantime, i’ll be working along on the project i started while still in waterloo—had to keep moving through my queue. this one is going a LOT faster than the previous two sweaters; so fast that i can hardly believe it. more on that next time, along with photos and news of further travels.

now, i must attend to that blocking i mentioned.

long on love

anne wrote this at around evening time:

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here we are in albany, enjoying a weekend away from home. even though these times away are far to short, ti’s still nice to get a few hours extra sleep each night and slow down the pace a bit.

always before we leave there is a mad dash to tie up a bevy of loose ends in an attempt to get a little ahead of the game for our return.

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by wednesday night, i had almost everything done—i had picked all but the last minute vegetables and cooked whatever was sitting around in the fridge and on the counters . . .

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first, all the tomatoes got cooked down and puréed

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to make a base for my favorite italian stew, ciambotta. almost everything in this pot is form our garden, yum! the only ingredients we didn’t grow are the carrots and celery. i made it with all my preferred ingredients—onion, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, celery, carrot, potato—and also threw in some slices of larger okra, since it is plentiful and i’m looking for any excuse to use it.

omg, this came out ssooo good! it’s the first time i’ve used our potatoes this year and they taste aMAZing. i uaully put in extra since i love the potatoes in this dish.

i boxed up a big carton to bring along to my mom’s and left one at home so we can enjoy it when we return.

by wednesday night i was 95 percent ready; i just needed to bake some fruit bars after knit night and pick the last of the vegetables on thursday morning.

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but i even got a little ahead of schedule when no one showed up for knit night. i knew barb was away but none of the others came, probably due to the torrential rain that came down just about the time we opened.

back across the alley i scurried, turned on the oven, and started mixing ingredients. even an extra hour feels like a bonus when preparing to leave for the weekend.

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the next morning was bright and cool and i was up early to strip the garden of as many beans, okra, tomatoes, chard, and other ripe items as i could. these tomatoes could sit and ripen fully indoors while we were gone. and my mom just loves fresh produce, so we packed a big box of tender green beans, chard, and all the rest.

off we went!

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i drove the first half and then david took over. the first thing i did after taking over the passenger seat was to pull out my sweater back and get going on adding some inches. hehe, then i fell asleep—it happens on every trip; become hypnotized by the road and fall asleep for a stretch. but not for long, just enough to rest my eyes and soon i was back at work.

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between then and the next morning i added two more rows of blocks and had just one more to go before starting the armhole shaping (and a considerable reduction in the stitch count, always a bonus).

yesterday was mostly filled with errands and cooking, but after supper, i picked up again. having brought just one project to work on has been a good thing in this case and i’m making excellent progress toward a finished sweater.

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i’ve completed the armhole shaping and am working my way up to the neck shaping; it won’t be long til this back piece is complete. i brought an extra set of needles so i could cast on for the final sleeve piece and have something extra-portable to take along for knitting at the picnic on sunday. i am determined to finish this sweater very soon and if i can get the pieces all finished over this weekend, i’ll give myself extra points, haha.

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today was the big day—our first family picnic in a number of years, but what a great day we had for a good turnout of at least 150 people. four generations of my mom’s family (on her mother’s side) got together to eat and have fun, as we had nearly every labor day weekend of my childhood and young adulthood. above is the oldest living generation—my mom and her surviving cousins (there used to be a lot more!), children of the the original nine sisters and brothers of my grandma’s generation.

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it was really nice to see so many of my cousins removed again (second generation) and to introduce them to david and other new members of our family. there are actually a LOT more of us than are represented here; a lot of my generation couldn’t make it this year.

everyone contributed information to add to the family tree, so we should know soon to what number we’ve grown since we started having the annual picnic in the 1960s.

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this is the third generation—children of my cousins and second cousins. the fourth generation are all babes in arms at this point, and for some reason they did not have that group line up for photos.

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my mom’s family has always been very camera happy—we have an excellent collection of family photos that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. they never minded spending a little money on capturing the good times and life’s milestones. this display is made up of photos form past picnics—i noticed that it almost never rained, haha.

i did bring my knitting and work don that sleeve that i cast on, but truthfully, there was so much to do and so many people to hug and talk to that i didn’t get much done. still, it was nice to have a little quiet time to sit with david under the trees and knit while we watched others play volleyball.

we’ll be heading home in the morning; i will catch up with you later this week once we are there. hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend and are heading back to work refreshed.

neck and neck

anne wrote this late at night:

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in between preparing for the pairings club and the fall/winter ensemble, we’ve had an exciting summer project going here at knitspot HQ—we’re producing a book of all-new lace scarf designs.

this project is actually several years in the making—i started working on a slightly different version in 2010, which was going to be part compendium of existing patterns with some new designs added and a lot of text.

but i had to put that project aside for sheer lack of manpower; david and i were still doing everything ourselves at the time. earlier this year i noticed a big trend toward the old lace scarf patterns in our sales and i thought it would be a good time to dust off that project and get moving on making it a reality.

i decided to forego the idea of compiling older pattern into the book and make it all new designs, keeping it to a number that was manageable for a fairly short production timeline.

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we are able to use some of the samples from the previous conception of this project; the designs that were new have still not been published. those are mostly knit in hand-dyed selections from artist collaborators i’ve worked with over the last decade.

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but in the years between, we have started producing our own yarns, so each design will now be represented in both hand-dyed version as well as one of our bare naked wools selections.

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a couple of designs will be interpreted in several shapes—such as this pair, which share a stitch pattern but are produced by different constructions.

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there were just a couple of designs that i wanted to see in varying formats; it’s not necessarily right for all the designs and i didn’t want to bring that level of pressure to the project.

the set of swatches above was knit for a series of three separate designs, all using the same stitch pattern, but in different types of yarn.

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this book is really about the spirit of the little nothings first and foremost—fun, simple constructions that are more or less an extended swatch, but also happen to be incredibly pretty. the design process is subject to my whims and interest at the moment; it’s very much off the cuff. some pieces beg me for more interpretation and some don’t.

we know from watching hundreds of knitters work with the existing patterns that they offer a lot of freedom to put one’s own stamp on the design or to expand it into an interesting variation.

and we also know that there are lots and LOTS of knitters who, at the end of the day, just want someone else to do the math so they can enjoy the knitting.

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the book will include general information about substituting yarns into the patterns, scarves into cowls or stoles, working with different fiber types, and blocking. to get you started, we’ll provide examples of how we changed the size of a sample or substituted yarn to create an alternate look.

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please excuse the fact that some of these samples still need to be blocked—i plan to have a couple of big blocking days in a week or two, shortly before we photograph everything so they all look freshly primped.

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as i mentioned earlier, the original project was put on the back burner due to lack of manpower for production. but back then as well as now, we had SO much support and help in one area and that was the test and sample knitting. thanks to our super-supportive ravelry mothership group, we’ve gathered a crack team of knitters who have produced the beautiful pieces you see here.

i want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for making this all-new set of samples possible. more about them individually in the book!

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for now, take a minute to go over and browse the little nothings knitting thread; you will be treated not only to additional photos of samples in progress, but to discussion about the yarns we’ve used.

and of course, they can’t do anything without a healthy injection of funny chit-chat, so i highly recommend it at the start of your day.

i myself got totally sucked in when my swatch for one of the designs took on a life of its own to become and actual sample.

one minute i was knitting a small triangular test piece and seemingly in the next moment i was casting off a scarf—how did that happen?

with all of the patterns done now and the sample knitting nearly complete, i am putting together the “general guidelines” pages. with three weekends of travel in a row and the next installment of the club to go out in two weeks, i’m a little nervous about finishing everything but hoping that the rest of the knitspot team can handle the photography and other details without me.

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and still trying to figure out how to shoehorn the new tencel blend into the script—hopefully we can!

are you excited? i think it’s going to be lots of fun going into the holidays to have a whole new collection, where you can share your projects and yarn choices and enjoy the company. because not everyone is a sweater knitter, right? and we are very very glad there are all kinds.

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so keep your eyes on the blog, our rav group, and our newsletter these next few weeks—we will share progress as things pull together. it won’t be long!

shimmery

anne wrote this in the early evening:

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i might have made a midnight run to the shop last night to dig around in the boxes that arrived yesterday from the mill—the ones that contained the test production batch of a new yarn we’ve been working on.

it’s not spun from silver, but it just might make people ask . . .

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and i might have rolled off an ounce or so right then and there to swatch with while we watched TV. you know, just to see how it knits up. it’s still damp in this photo; i soaked it this morning and laid it out to dry, but couldn’t wait to take some pictures.

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it was even better after drying—so slinky and shimmery, but it also has body. and do you see that stitch definition? sigh—yarn is completely fascinating isn’t it? you change one thing and it make an entirely new experience.

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i probably knit it more loosely than i should have for this particular fabric; i was trying to see if i could get the same gauge on the same needle as i do with the chebris lace or stone soup fingering yarns. i’ll need a smaller needle for that. but . . . wow, huh?

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it’s a merino/tencel/cotton blend and i think it’s going to be a new favorite once i get to know it better. the sheen comes from the tencel and cotton—they provide the glassy quality that magnifies the color of the merino. SO pretty; can’t wait to see it in pale brown.

we are aiming for a blend that has some of the same qualities as our ginny cotton blend, but without alpaca. and with a more slinky drape for really nice lace pieces. so actually, it’s pretty different, haha.

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i had hoped to make more progress this week on my dock and cabin cardigan; i’m working up the big back piece and when i actually spend time knitting on it, it grows steadily. i can knit at least one row of blocks while watching TV for an hour or two and  i can complete two rows over the course of a day, given the right circumstances (but when does that ever happen?).

loving the texture; it has the power keep me engrossed for hours (when i’m not managing garden produce or testing new yarn, haha).

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my dear old friend, stone soup fingering is such a winner for this fabric (and many others, IMHO). i’m knitting in the original in color pumice, which is nearly an exact match for the original yarn and color this sweater was designed with. i am really going to enjoy wearing this sweater when it’s done.

we have a date tonight, after i finish up in the kitchen.

another thing that waylaid my knitting progress this week was preparing for some upcoming classes that i’ll be teaching in september, at shall we knit? in waterloo and at the WEBS fall retreat in massachusetts.

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i knit up this trio of adorable mini shawls to test the patterns we’ll be using in class.

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the weekend after next i’ll be teaching an edmonia shawl class at shall we knit?, where we will work up this funny, swatch sized version. funny because the edgings are so disproportionate to the body when i shrank it down to a bite-sized piece. it’s so cute though, in a kind of goth way.

still spots left in the shawl class if you want to join us. i’m also teaching my yarn voyage class, which is nearly sold out.

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then at the WEBS retreat, i’ll be teaching the double happiness shawl and a blocking class. the retreat sold out long ago, so unfortunately that ship has sailed, but how cute it this mini in the ginny sport yarn (color georgia)?

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i’ve also knit one in chebris lace (color charbon), which has yet to receive its final dressing (because we will block it in class), but you can already tell how sparkly and light it will be when it’s stretched; just look at that gleam in its eyes—mohair is like that . . .

between now and then though, david and i are taking a trip to albany to visit with my mom and the rest of my family for a few days. we plan to relax a bit, see some movies hopefully, and on sunday we’ll be attending a big picnic with her extended family and enjoying lots of terrific italian food in the bargain.

naturally i am planning on foisting a great deal of garden produce off on her for the event (no worries, i’ll help her cook it all).

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our green beans have finally decided to start producing and i’m picking a pound or two every other day or so—a good amount; not so much that i’ll grow to hate them and not so little that searching the vines is a disappointment.

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(two different days’ take). i was worried that i wouldn’t be happy having grown a different variety this year, but i have to admit, these are delicious. and the perfume that wafts out when i open a bag of them from the fridge is simply amazing, like jasmine.

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tomatoes actually slowed down for a few days during some very hot weather over the weekend but have rallied back with a strong output yesterday and today.

so i am heading straight to my kitchen after i finish writing this to get to work. i need to get everything i have on the countertops (oh yes, there are many more in other places beyond the frame of this photo, haha) cooked and put in the freezer before we leave, except for a reasonable number that i’ll bring to my mom (i’ve got other vegetables to shower on her as well).

i didn’t forget that i promised a post about the upcoming lace scarf book and i’m working on that; i want to include some especially delicious teasers so you won’t be able to get it out of your mind, MWAH-ha-ha-ha! but you could always take a side trip to the test knitting thread in our ravelry mothership group and peek in on what’s developing.

now, time for me to tackle the mountain in my kitchen—see you next time.

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