all good things under the sun

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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i can’t help posting another photo of our tall marigolds—i find them astounding. every time i look out the kitchen window and see that mass of orange pom-pom heads bobbing in the breeze, i am SO glad we planted them! one of these days i’ll remember early in the day to cut a few for each desk in the office.

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since we had a nice sunny day today, i took some photos throughout the garden as i made my morning rounds. right underneath the marigolds, the summer squash are hanging in there—we’ve lost the zucchini plants to something, but these yellow zephyrs are plugging away, giving us a couple of nice little squashes every day or two. we’ve been eating them in everything from vegetable stew to pasta to eggs.

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and tomatoes are ripening daily now—still just a few at a time but more each day. for now, i’m letting them ripen right on the vine.

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tonight i’ll cook some into a very light marinara sauce with green beans, one of my very favorite summer dishes. last weekend i had to make it with canned tomatoes, so that batch went into the freezer. THIS weekend it will all be home grown and i plan to chow down on them; i can’t wait.

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a plethora of peppers is maturing on the plants now; i wish they would hurry up and get big so i can pick them. the first wave always takes forever and peppers won’t put out new flowers until you pick the old fruit, stubborn things. sometimes i pick immature fruits just to get things going, a sacrificial crop if you will. i’ve picked a few but i’d rather they just got big already, since they taste better when fully filled out.

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now the okra on the other hand, knows just how to play its cards; it puts out breathtakingly pretty flowers in gorgeous shades of apricot, pink, and yellow before making its fruit. they only last  part of a morning so if i’m up early, i try to get outside to see them before they wither away. trust me, it’s worth getting up for . . .

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working our way to the back of the garden . . . well, we can’t exactly get all the way back there because the potato patch has completely taken over.

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it has spread itself right out to the fence, meshing with the carrots and any green beans that had the unfortunate destiny of being late bloomers (which happened with one section of climbing beans, though i don’t know why; they came up fine on one end of the row but on the other, much later and less).

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speaking of green beans—holy cow, aren’t their flowers so pretty?

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and i’m not the only one who thinks so . . .

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the bees are almost obscenely interested in what those tiny blossoms have to offer . . .

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and so gluttonous to get their noses into it, that they don’t even care how close i come with the camera

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what is that thing they say about the tango?

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my favorite shot of the day—capturing the excellent gymnastics involved when one forgets oneself and goes into a swoon over whatever is in that honey pot.

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i think it’s time to give them a little privacy.

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back inside the house, i fired up the iron to give a final steaming to my completed pedal pusher cardigan. i stitched on the second pocket during my wednesday night class and i think they look pretty good.

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they just need some steaming to lay flat, as do the button bands and the hem (i don’t like it when the hem ribbing pulls into a pumpkin shape; i prefer it to hang straight).

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i spread the sweater body flat on my pressing table, secured it with a few pins, and used a wet cloth to steam the hem and the pockets.

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they look a lot lees lumpy afterward.

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especially when hung on the form.

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it fits great; i’m very happy with the results. it’s roomy enough to wear long sleeves or even a heavy shirt underneath, but the raglan shaping means i still get a nice fit through the shoulders.

i can’t get over how light and airy the confection yarn feels; when i think “worsted weight” i think of something heavy, but this really isn’t. it’s a great weight for a fall sweater jacket; just what i’ll be wanting when i head off to rhinebeck. i’m pretty sure this will join my stone soup highlander as a go-to sweater.

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and how about this dark chocolate color? i couldn’t decide which one i like best so david picked this shade for me and  i love it now that i see myself in this photo (i’m fond of the cookies and cream, so i would have gone with that, but it’s really too close in shade to my hair color which is not good).

now that met my secret project deadline for the month, i can spend some time over the weekend writing up this pattern to send to the tech editor. yay.

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speaking of confection, i promised i would show you a little bit about the development of the sport weight version we’ve been working on.  the last time i talked about this project, we had just received a box of sample from the mill for the various possible spinning configuration.

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i think there were five or six version in all, each spun to slightly different specs for comparison. i eliminated several of those choices out of hand, without even test knitting them—these were the ones that looked very inconsistent, and too loosely spun to wear well. there were even a couple that just looked wrong—as if the singles had not been plied tight enough to even neutralize all of its twist (which gives it a rather funky texture and may cause it to misbehave when knit into a fabric).

of the ones that i decided to test knit, we have from right to left: the original 3-ply sport which is spun to the same specs as the worsted weight, washed; the original sport unwashed; a 3-ply sport spun a little looser, and a 2-ply spun a little tighter. i swatched each one in the same knit/purl pattern as well as in stockinette.

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the original 3-ply one feels a little stiff when it’s knit on smaller needles, but what i found is that after a good soak in hot soapy water, it softens and blooms beautifully. you can tell a lot of mill oil and dust got washed away too, which helps. notice the terrific depth of texture this fabric has, even after washing; corriedale fiber is very springy.

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the stockinette fabric is very regular and cohesive, even in its prewashed state.

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the 2-ply yarn is super squishy and delicious feeling but it makes a slightly less consistent fabric. this might right itself after washing; i didn’t do that yet. we all agreed that while we love the way the 2-ply yarn feels, it’s kind of weird that the texture doesn’t match that of the 3-ply yarn.

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above and below, the 2-ply is on the left and the 3-ply on the right. a noticeable texture difference between the worsted version (3-ply) and the sport version in 2 ply would not be appealing; 2-ply yarn also tends to drape differently and pill more easily.

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the sum of those factors, plus the fact that they don’t translate stitch patterns with equal clarity, starts to make them feel like they’re not part of the same family.

plus, we have a 2-ply yarn in the kent DK, which performs very well in a 2-ply construction.

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next it was time to compare the two 3-ply versions, which were spun just slightly different. really, there isn’t much of a difference in the fabric at all, but the looser construction may result in a slightly less consistent fabric surface.

so we all decided that sticking to the original version was the best plan and now the mill is working away so we can have it in stock for fall. i can’t wait; this will be the perfect yarn with which to design the longer cardigan version of my aztec mazes pattern—a project i’ve been wanting to do for a while. the sport version will be offered in all the same shades as the worsted confection, so maybe this time i’ll go for the cookies and cream . . .

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thee are still a good number of weeks left to enjoy summer knitting and summer weaner, so i cast on a new cotton cap last week and have been working throughout the brim a few rounds at a time. this design is a reknit of the bocce cap i designed at christmas time (in blue, above) and then never published. i need to write the pattern but i totally forgot how i made it, so i thought it’d be wise to knit one in soft, sport weight cotton. yum.

elsewhere in the tangle on my knitting couch, my empreinte crescent shawl in ecobutterfly cotton lace is stalled because i got distracted with secret knitting. but i’ll be getting back to that in a few days.

our cotton KAL on ravelry has been lots of fun and very popular; all of us here have been inspired by seeing various patterns knit up in a cotton fabric rather than wool.

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barb knit this absolutely adorable cotton skirt using the organic cotton sport yarn with the kiltie pattern and making it a little longer. she took home some of our custom designed glass buttons the other night to finish it up so her granddaughter could wear it to school in a couple of weeks.

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let’s end on a really nice note (literally!)

our scholarship recipient, brandy wrote a very nice thank you note to our community to mark the end of her freshman year at college.

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whenever i hear from brandy, i am so impressed with how well she is doing and how she keeps us updated on her life at school. thank you brandy. and thank YOU everyone for making her success at school a stress-free possibility.

and now it’s time to go—very late here in ohio and david is waiting for me to join him in some TV watching and knitting. bye bye, gotta fly . . .

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summer fine

anne wrote this in the early evening:

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though it’s been mostly chilly and rainy over the last few days, i did manage to get this sunny photo during a rare break in the clouds.

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as i stepped out the back door on my way to the store the other day, this little butterfly was so intent on exploring the marigolds that it allowed me to get really close up to take some pictures.

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i hovered above, snapping every few seconds until i got the money shot for you (it didn’t take long).

the garden is just buzzing with butterfly and bee activity these days. our neighbors got a hive in the spring and we are visited by their honey bees as well as a host of bumblebees, wasps, and other types.

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the result being plenty of good eating for us. i just collect produce daily until i have enough to make something and then spend some time in the kitchen on rainy days cooking it up (more on that later).

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i was kind of tied up with other matters on friday, when we opened our little retail space to customers for the first time. i ran over in the morning to “check in” and sarah put me right to work figuring out a solution for displaying our buttons more prettily, haha.

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and of course after that, it was one thing after another, tidying up this corner and that, trying our different ways to display samples and merchandise. sarah concentrated on getting all the structural pieces in place first and now we’re working on warming things up with loads of luscious samples. it’s a work in progress, so to speak.

during our first weekend, we enjoyed visits from friends who drove in from an hour or more away, as well as some who live more locally. it was a lot of fun to chat with everyone who stopped by. we’re really excited to begin having classes and yarn tastings soon.

all of this evolved so quickly that we’ve barely had a moment to really plan how it would look; one minute there was a beehive buzzing in the first floor of our house and then next thing we knew, we had an offsite space for it. and then the possibility of making a shop presented itself—well, it’s been a whirlwind month, alright. we’re pulling our look together as quickly as we can . . .

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next weekend we’ll be open during the same hours—please stop in if you are in the neighborhood for any of the hall of fame events. we are just a block or two off the grand parade route on saturday morning and only a few blocks from the hall of fame itself—come on over and say hello!

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this weekend we were also excited to be sponsoring a running event here in town! the hands for hope run was a benefit to support TIQVAH, an after school program here in canton that provides students with new learning experiences, a place to do homework, and support for making positive choices as well as healthy snacks and meals before heading home at the end of the day.

i was SO excited to run in this event and wear the shirt with the knitspot logo, but as luck would have it, i developed a bit of tendonitis in my ankle on thursday that took me down. i had to be content with cheering everyone on at the start line, pout.

i also had to sit out the pigskin run on sunday morning, a hall of fame race. thankfully though, my ankle seems to be benefitting from the rest; it feels LOT better already and i’m thinking that tomorrow morning i should be able to go walking on it, weather permitting. if that goes well, then i’ll try some easy running on wednesday, or a run/walk pattern. i don’t want to take any chances; i have a couple of big races coming up later in august and september that i definitely don’t want to miss.

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late last week i finally got my new pedal pusher cardigan into the wash for a good wet blocking.

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wow did that go nicely! the sweater blocked out perfectly to the exact size it was meant to be, both in width and length.

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and the fabric looks awesome—knit in our 100 percent corriedale confection worsted—i can’t get over how consistent and smooth it is.

and with hardly any encouragement either; i washed it in the machine on the hand wash cycle in a mesh bag, then just shook it out and laid it flat, smoothing here and there.

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this is what a beautifully balanced yarn will do for you.

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i was a little behind on getting the pockets knit up, so once i had them done, i soaked them separately in a bowl of soapy water and pinned them flat to dry on my pressing bench.

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once i figured out where i wanted them placed, i stitched one on during my class this afternoon (i still need to steam it) and will do the other on wednesday night, i think.

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i love how it looks with the pockets applied and they’ll be so useful. they totally turn this cardigan into a jacket i can run around in for a good part of the late fall and winter. with a great scarf or shawlette at the neck and a slouchy cap?? so much more comfortable than a big coat, especially in the car . . .

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doesn’t it look great form the back? the fabric has such nice drape; the consistency really shines in this view.

and i used just a little more that four skeins of yarn. while technically it’s a worsted weight, which sounds heavy, the springiness of the fiber makes an airy yarn that goes a long way and produces a garment that is light and very breathable to wear.

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now i just have to decide on the buttons. i’m down to two options—these cedar ones that i love, but which might be too big and a bit rough for the buttonholes. or some bone ones that are kind of a marbly greenish gray.

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i’m kind of leaning towards these because they’re so smooth and then also, you know how i love the hand-me-down-from-grampa look.

i decided to give it some thought while i worked in the kitchen this weekend.

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there was a lot to do—on the one hand, i had a sink full of vegetables which i wanted to turn into a pot of ratatouille.

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and on the other hand, a tidal wave of green beans to square away (these are all from a four or five foot run of climbing beans that matured in just the last few days).

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when i woke up yesterday morning to the sound of rain steadily drumming on the roof, i knew it was the perfect day to spend in the kitchen, starting with the vegetable stew. i cut up each selection into nice chunks and sautéed each one separately before adding to a pot of simmering tomatoes

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from eggplant to peppers to onions and squash, the dish progressed until it was a full pot of deliciousness that just needed some seasoning and fresh basil added. mmm.

while that simmered, i put a big pot of water on for blanching the beans and got to work taking the tops off. thank goodness for audiobooks when a tedious task is at hand, right?

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before long they were all cleaned and ready to go and once you get to that point, the rest is but a few minutes work getting them blanched and into and ice bath afterward. i ended up with three bags of plain beans and two cartons of green beans in sauce for the freezer, plus one carton of green beans in a vinaigrette for our dinner that night.

which we also ate with our little harvest of green peas. i had planted just a few feet of pea vines to see if they would grow undisturbed by rabbits. squirrels, or birds. lo and behold, they did. we only harvested one meal’s worth, but next time i’ll do more.

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tonight we’ll eat that ratatouille with some cod fish and another night, we’ll eat some with pasta. about half the pot was divided into two containers for the freezer; in january we’ll eat that and pretend it’s july again, hehe.

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i have more blog fodder, including the results of testing the sport weight confection yarn, but i think i’ll save that  for the next post. i don’t want to get boring on you . . .

blissfully clean

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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last summer we had an awful lot of fun putting together the final shipment of the 2013 bare naked club. we’d introduced our membership to super soft color grown organic cotton the previous year and we thought it was time to step things up a notch by designing a shipment with one of the heavier weight cotton yarns and pairing that with a new selection that might not be as familiar—

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gorgeous, natural hemp.

at first i thought that we’d work with the very fine lace weight hemp so as to knit it into some long-lasting, hardwearing lace item, but the more i thought about it, the more i wanted to jump in with both feet and take on the challenge of a heavier hemp yarn.

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so that’s what we did and with it, i came up with a group of projects that not only complemented the yarn choices well, but were wonderfully freeing for hot weather knitting.

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the cotton was assigned for knitting the softest and most supple of wash cloths—in the knitter’s choice of three textures. the ecobutterfly organic color grown cotton sport yarn goes really far, in fact; two skeins was plenty for three generous cloths and most clubbies stretched it even further to knit four.

and now with a full selection of colors available, the project can be new all over again!

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knitters also had choices for the hemp DK—it could be knit into a bath mitt in one of two styles or sizes OR into a back scrubber, also with two choices of texture and size.

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we added some beads to the packages for adorning the pieces—clubbies got creative with hanging loops and edges using the beautiful recycled glass beads, also from ecobutterfly.

so many of these sets were destined for christmas gifts last year because they are wonderful gifting projects—reasonably priced, easy to knit, and fun. and something you can take care of right now when it’s too hot to knit anything warm or fuzzy.

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you can even switch the yarns around a bit and knit the mitt in cotton if you like or the cloths in hemp.

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shown above, three cloths from the i’m a soft touch pattern in ecobutterfly organics pakucho cotton sport, color golden café (click here to see a full range of color possibilities, from pale green to dark brown).  don’t be afraid to scale up the pattern to knit a towel or two, as many of our clubbies did.

or hey! super size that by using a worsted weight cotton selection and a larger needle to knit thick scrubby cloths, towels, or bath mats.

the mitts and scrubbers below from the i like it rough pattern were knit in ecobutterfly fluturi fine hemp DK  yarn, color natural white

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click here to view more information about the patterns for i’m a soft touch or i like it rough. you may also view them in my ravelry pattern shop—click here for i’m a soft touch and here for i like it rough.

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perpetual KALs for these projects and other club favorites are running live at all times in our swinging BNK clubhouse on ravelry—don’t be shy; you needn’t be club a member to join in the fun (but we hope you’ll consider it at some point!).

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both these designs are included in the 2013 BNK eBook, which is overflowing with wonderful information about the yarns we produce as well as fourteen patterns custom designed to go with them.

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and now i think it’s time to get our weekend on, don’t you?

 

Things are Clipping Right Along

majordomo wrote this in the early morning:

knitting and napping

I’ve been sneaking in a few rows while Padraig naps, during summer concerts in the park (check out the gorgeous moss dogs and their rooftop garden on the doghouse),

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historical society,

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and at the zoo

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and also during any commutes where I’m in the passenger seat.

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Before I knew it, I was pretty far on my Slouch Potato in Enzo Sport and my Zig Zag Mitts for the summer cotton KAL were half done.

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I am in LOVE with the sport weight cotton for this pattern. The stitch definition is amazing and the fabric hugs my hand perfectly. And the pattern? It’s 16 row repeat is so addictive! It becomes mindless at 4 row chunks at a time. I mentioned to Anne last night that it would make a gorgeous blanket, so I think that’s my next project. Barb has definitely inspired me to cast one on. Bring on the worsted!

Sarah had to give her summer KAL project a little break. It became a tangled mess and completely frustrated her. We’ve all been there, haven’t we!? Susan rescued it out of her knitting bag

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and together they got Billow Cloud back on track.

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Knitting friends…they’re just the best. And it’s always more fun to straighten out someone else’s project. For some reason it’s less painful. Maybe that’s just me.

Last night there was a lot of knitting progress sharing in the Wednesday night group and Anne text me photos so I didn’t miss anything.

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Anne’s reincarnation of Baci into a sport weight cotton cap is just stunning and Barb’s revamped cotton Kiltie cowl

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into a little girl’s skirt is just too much! Isn’t this the cutest ever? All it needs is buttons and this little number is ready for someone’s first day of school. I’m seeing a back to school ravelry KAL brewing now. Go ahead, grab some sport weight cotton. I’ll wait.

Speaking of Barb, she showed up to knitting wearing her finished Ivar

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in Shalimar Breathless. I love the color; such a fresh green. Bravo Barb. Bravo.

In case you’re wondering, Barb is standing in the NEW RETAIL SPACE! I’ve been watching it grow from paint to carpet to stocked shelves of Bare Naked Wools via Face Time and text.

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It’s been thrilling for all of us to watch these four walls become a fresh and inviting space for natural yarn lovers to flock.

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Look how giddy Anne was the other day when she popped in to see the progress! We can’t wait for customers to see it! The wait is finally over…we open TOMORROW just in time for the hoards of people flocking to Canton for Football Hall of Fame festivities. Join us this weekend!

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Directions and more details can be found on the new boutique page David set up here. We will have regular weekly hours starting soon and as always we are available by appointment. Just call or email us ahead of time to set something up. We can’t wait to see you! I think it’s time to start planning summer road trips…

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Anne will pop in soon with a new hat pattern, plus updates on the shop in all its glory. In the meantime, follow us here for the latest:

Facebook (Knitspot and BNWs), Instagram, Twitter (Knitspot, BNWs, KnitspotClubs) and Ravelry (Knitspot, BNWs, Bare Naked Knitspot, Knitspot in Full Color)