done and done

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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isn’t that a sight? this was the beautiful view from my window as we took off from newark last tuesday evening on my way home from ottawa. just look at that streak of sky with the last of the sunset—gorgeous.

before i get into the nitty gritty of my week, i just want to give a shoutout on a few upcoming events for the next two weeks:

i will be teaching this weekend (april 30 and may 1) at the miami valley knitting guild in dayton, OH. this is a great opportunity to take sweater fitness or a finishing class (or both!). they are hosting a meet and greet on friday evening that is open to all (a small fee is required at the door); erica betz and i will be taking along a popup shop of yarn and patterns that will be available throughout the weekend.

our spring ensemble collection will be coming next week!

and then NEXT weekend (may 7 and 8) we are heading for the maryland sheep and wool show, where we will have a booth in the center aisle of the main building. if you plan to be there, please stop by to fondle our yarns and say hello; we would love to show you around! all of our spring ensemble pieces will be available for viewing, along with patterns and yarns to knit them.

signups for the pairings club open to all on sunday may 1—just six days left for currently enrolled clubbies to take advantage of their discount on full membership or extra yarn upgrade (you can use your discount twice as long as you do it before may 1).

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back home, the weather has been steadily warming by the day and even the nights are temperate for the most part (except of course on the day of our cleveland photo shoot; more on that later).

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adorable little plants (may apple and fritillaria) are popping out for their once-a-year show; it’s important to notice them now because they won’t be back til next year.

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i just love taking little breaks to look around the yard—plants like the may apple and hosta show visible growth in just a few hours. if you don’t take notice today, they will be all grown up by tomorrow.

of course it’s not at all the case that i have hours upon hours to play in the yard, haha—when i got back from my trip i hit the ground running toward the next goal, which is getting our spring ensemble published and my blue shawl blocked and out in the mail.

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you might remember that just before i left, i decided it was done, but that i hadn’t cast off. i left it home while i was away and got right to work on the bind off the night i returned.

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then blocking. it is a larger shawl—25 to 29 inches along the center back before blocking—and about 34 inches once it’s relaxed and stretched. but super light and airy; it won’t weigh you down at that size.

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the fabric is just lovely—plenty of gloss to highlight those shifting stitches in the large leaves. that’s what a nice measure of silk will do for you! this sample is knit in spirit trail nona, a 2-ply merino/silk/cashmere blend in a heavier laceweight. i’ve used the aquarius colorway for mine.

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i love how it looks against the dark charcoal of our counter top. it would be beautiful with a dark dress as well. because well, my counter top is unlikely to go out dancing any time soon.

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this shawl would be really pretty in silver or white as well as a wedding shawl, maybe in cabécou lace or chebris lace.

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the top of it would look stunning over a bare shouldered dress and the bottom frames the bodice beautifully around the waist and lower back.

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and totally scarfable too for everyday looks!

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while the blue shawl dried, i knit late, late into the night to complete my second sample in better breakfast fingering yarn.

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the knitting goes pretty quickly because while it looks elaborate, it is actually very straightforward and does not involve a lot of fancy stitchwork. AND the WS rows are all in purl (except the edging which is garter). i know you like that.

since i was just starting the hem at the point that i blocked the blue sample, i had time to make a couple of very minor adjustments to the pattern.

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i started this shawl last friday (4/15) on my way to ottawa and i finished it this past friday morning (4/22). there were even a couple of days that i didn’t work on it. the hardest thing about it was picking a name—i went through about a dozen options that were already in use multiple times on ravelry. finally, erica betz suggested pothos and miracle of miracles, there was only one other (sock) pattern using that word. so i jumped on that one.

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this baby went right into a hot bath as soon as it was off the needles and i blocked it that afternoon. we wanted to use it for our photo shoot on saturday. good thing our BNW yarns dry quickly!

this time i blocked the hem scallops a little differently, but you could do it either way; for pointy leaves, use pins only on the hem (no wires) and stretch out the flower ‘petals’ into points (see blue sample above).

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i am always surprised at how light and drapey the fabric of this fingering yarn is—i knit this shawl on needles two sizes bigger because of the change in yarn weight, but it blocked out to about the same size. that’s because the BBF has more body and bounce, while the silky lace yarn does not, so the blue shawl relaxed a lot more.

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the BBF version is a bit warmer but still airy—it doesn’t feel heavy although it looks much more substantial.

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i think this one would be pretty over a dark coat or dress—but it also looks great with some of our hemp skirts and tops—that warm waffle shade is perfect for spring and summer.

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and a great bathrobe shawl for those summer mornings when you want to hit the deck first thing with your coffee.

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done just in the nick of time, this baby got packed into the car early saturday morning for ride to cleveland and some urban exploring. we had a list of sites to visit, starting with lakewood park, which is on lake erie.

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considering the warmth of the previous week, it was laughably windy and cold—literally too gusty to photograph some of our lighter pieces. we did get some excellent shots of our slightly heavier garments and lots of shawl pics, haha, since all we wanted the whole time was to bundle up in warm layers. this feather light stole in chebris lace felt scrumptious when i could get it to stay put.

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the next stop on our photo safari was the abandoned observatory of the case school of science—a wonderful old building in the center of town that is completely open and accessible.

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adorned with many original features, it is far less creepy than you’d think.

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we all admired this zodiac floor piece, which while completely available has remained in place. i think it’s awesome that no one has selfishly stolen it, despite obvious attempts. it’s nice that it’s still there for all to share and appreciate.

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the observatory tower is somewhat intact as well, though much of it is open to the light

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which makes an interesting photography space.

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i couldn’t resist a selfie.

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just wait til you see how we featured this honey doorway in some of our photos.

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we couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of this urban landscape with the natural one outdoors, just coming into leaf with bright spring greens.

and what’s that i see on the balcony railing?

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clearly, someone else thinks like we do.

Rejoice, Spring is Here, Finally

mister knitspot wrote this late at night:

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Lovely spring bouquet created from flowers picked by Anne from around the garden on Thursday.

Good grief, the doldrums of winter seems to have finally abated, of course I speak of the endless winter, of which seemingly was going on and on. Huge globules of spring snow were falling on April 2, quite beautiful, but out of place. Yes I know this can be considered de rigueur for the region, but it’s spring after all and the plants and flowers are now blooming. Alas I can shed some of my winter cycling kit, so looking forward to going riding without all of those wintry layers. Used to be rather fond of winter’s slumber, the notion that the earth could have a break of sorts, to rest, to sleep and then to awake in spring with renewed bounty, kind of a celebration of life, if you will.

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This last week or so, I have been working on creating promotional graphics for the new Pairings Club. During one of our meetings, Anne mentioned the use of fancy script in promotional materials, those two words unleashed thoughts of a French bistro menu, beckoning a conceptional idea for the Pairings club. We have all seen those sorts of menus, often cramped with words making it difficult to read, but then you have the use of different fonts, which makes deciphering the menu a little easier. In this club we will explore a multi-sensory experience, pairing Bare Naked Wools yarn with a hand dyed yarn, seasonal recipes and beverages, now the concept of a menu should resonate. Anne will team up with Chef Katharine Wainwright to present four courses of fantastic knitting projects, recipes and wine pairings. No doubt it will be a decidedly different kind of knitting club. Initial signups will be open to current Immersion club members on April 17 and to the general public on May 1.

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Compost pile

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Compost to serve as mulch for garden beds around house, note Chinese fringe tree is slowly dying.

I was able to begin to sorting out the compost pile, working in freezing temperatures no less a few weeks ago. Moving some the compost to various beds around the house, Bil helped out, fortunately it had warmed a bit by then. It’s amazing how another set of hands can increase productivity. Now onwards to the most awesome task of combining the remaining compost with the existing garden mounds created to simulate a rise garden bed, will undo all these mounds. Now that everything has been combined, I have begun expansion of the vegetable garden. This includes removing weeds, leveling, making a walking pathway.  Have placed a layer of cardboard, atop this a very thin layer of soil to assure that cardboard remains in place. Will also add a layer of landscape fabric to further inhibit weed growth, you can see that I rather dislike weeding. Next I can finally begin the forming of the new mounds, tomatoes will be planted here.

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New vegetable garden bed location filled with weeds

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Weeds removed, ground leveled.

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Cardboard layer.

ottawa

anne wrote this around lunchtime:

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many thanks to the ottawa knitting guild for hosting me this past weekend; what a treat to visit the capitol of canada.

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our weekend was jam-packed with classes on everything from yarn to technique to sweater fitness—a really well-rounded program.

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everyone worked very hard (i am constantly awestruck with the diligence of knitters who take three full days of classes), but i think we all came away with lots to work on and think about.

i meant to take lots more photos during classes, but i also like to talk a lot, haha, so i did not pick up my phone camera often enough to accomplish that.

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i didn’t have a lot of free time to get scout out a variety of neighborhoods to show you on this trip, but on sunday i took a long walk after class, beginning with the museum of nature which was right outside my hotel. the old building looks like a castle but has a few modern additions, like this glass case attached to the side which houses a giant jellyfish!

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currently they are working on an exploration garden out front to which i did not have access, but around back i met a dinosaur in the small park.

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it was such a gorgeous, mild afternoon that lots of people were out as i followed the road down to the canal and across into old ottawa east.

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the streets near the university just on the other side looked very charming but they are doing so much road work along that way that i soon decided to head back toward the canal for my walk.

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with evening approaching, there were just a few stragglers out running, walking, and biking; i know i should have taken the time to change into running gear and join them, but after standing on my feet all day, i thought a walk would suit me better.

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the sunset was warm, highlighting the wooded paths alongside the water, where i could enjoy some of the old houses and buildings across the street from a hidden angle.

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i didn’t really know where i was going, haha, and because i didn’t recognize the correct bridge, i of course overshot the point where i had planned to turn.

no matter; what’s a couple of extra miles on such a pretty byway?

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at least i managed to get back to a neighborhood on my planned route before it got dark. i was really happy to finally pop out into the glebe, where many possibilities for supper presented themselves.

i had hoped to do a little more sightseeing this morning, but when i saw the tsunami of email i’d been ignoring, i thought better of it and spent today getting on top of that.

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while i haven’t had massive amounts of time to knit, i did make some decent progress on my second shawl sample in better breakfast fingering yarn—loving the waffle shade, which i’ve been dying to knit with.

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it’s as warm, squishy, and delicious as its name suggests!

well, there will be some extra knitting time today once i finish up this post—i have a bit of a wait in the lobby until it’s time to leave for the airport and then there will be knitting time on the plane. and with a good night’s sleep behind me, i won’t be tempted to doze off like i did on the trip up here, haha.

i had a lovely time here in ottawa; i highly recommend a stop if you are traveling this way; the architecture is gorgeous and the people are extremely friendly—plus, lots of wonderful knitters to meet.

looking forward to getting home and spending time with david. back to work tomorrow too so i’ll have more to tell you later this week.

ensemble mania

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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it’s crunch time around here as we pull within two weeks of our spring ensemble release and the last few samples are arriving at knitspot HQ. today’s featured design is a variation on the illas cíes pullover i showed you a couple of weeks ago—actually, it’s a marriage of that design and my beloved ivar cardigan, with benefits.

this gorgeous sample in our hempshaugh lace (in millet), was graciously knit for us by the incredible kristi. i am amazed at how substantial it feels, mmm.

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this design—costa figueira—features the same openwork panel as illas cíes with the same placement as ivar. it also has the same dimensions, gauge, and shoulder line of ivar, but i’ve added body shaping next to the panels to feminize it a bit and add some structure to the summery fabric. you could wear this as a vest or by itself as a top; it’s lovely.

the pattern still includes a pullover version and an option to add sleeves, but there is another addition to this one, to fill a request from barb and cynthia (that’s me, the people pleaser).

now we can make it dress length to wear as a fall jumper. the added skirt is flared a bit at the princess lines and side seams. barb knit her sample in stone soup fingering yarn; i took some quick photos in our yard the other night but i promised her i wouldn’t show them on the blog (it was dark and windy, not the most flattering light). but she keeps saying “did i mention that I LOVE THIS??”

i guess she loves it. i promise i’ll post photos as soon as we have some nice ones—probably after the weekend. and then we’ll find out what cynthia thinks . . . gotta have approval from the board, you know . . .

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OH! i almost forgot to tell you about a cool and related thing that happened this week—staci perry of verypink.com published a new free video tutorial for my curling neckwarmer and mitts design and it’s a great production. if you know a newbie knitter who would like to make this design, i recommend telling them about this piece. and if you love the costa figueira vest i just showed you or  the illas cíes pullover design, but are afraid the stitch pattern is beyond you, it’s probably not, but this tutorial will give you a chance to practice and put your mind to rest.

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these delicious socks, knit in our ghillie sock yarn by general hogbuffer are the bavarian cream of the crop. they’ve got embossing to beat the band. the bossiest embossing!

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those ankle medallions are the bomb, haha. we’ve actually had them in house for a while, but today i gave them a hot sudsy bath and now they look positively sculptural.

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i just adore my new llama project bag, a gift from my dear friend kimkimkim. she knows what i like, haha. the funny thing is, i almost got her this exact same thing for her birthday last month, but then paused because i had a feeling she might have one already. and not three days later she sent me one (she bought us each one).

anyway, i’ve got something special inside. do you want to see??

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i think my blue blob may actually be done, hooray. i had planned to add another tier to the hem with more mesh and then a border, but i i took it off the needles the other night to check something and wow, i really think enough is enough with this one—more would just be gaudy, no?

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the profusion of activity and foliage at the bottom is just what i had in mind; the movement in the stitch patterns is really enhanced by the sheen of the spirit trail nona that i’m knitting with (colorway aquarius—see it at maryland sheep and wool in a few weeks!).

and you know, it’s good to hold back a little at this point i think. i can save the rest of what i had planned for another shawl . . .

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actually after checking the thing i wasn’t sure about (whether the fabric was TOO ruffly to be able to block flat), i did put it back on the needles to begin the mesh of the next section. and i knit about eight or ten rows.

but i am totally fine with ripping back and then casting off, especially since i left my lifeline in place just at the right spot. so that’s what i’m going to do.

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after i get back from canada. which is where i’m going this weekend in a few hours, to do some workshops with the ottawa knitting guild. or maybe tonight; we’ll see how long i last after writing this (i have to leave for the airport in a couple of hours and i am nowhere near tired at the moment, haha).

my biggest problem with it right now is not ripping back, but what to name it—i’m at a loss. any ideas? it’s kind of tropical, but also very garden-y, so i don’t know.

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at any rate, i won’t be done yet with this project—i need to get started right away on a sample in our own yarn, so i’ve wound up a couple of skeins of better breakfast fingering yarn in the waffle shade (so warm and soft, so yummy!). this will give me a chance to test the pattern again fully, which will put my mind to rest. it should o pretty quickly, now that i made all the big mistakes with the first one—no reknitting of big sections this time. and much more compact for travel knitting .  . .

ok, i think that’s it for now. i will try to stop back over the weekend with some touristy pictures of ottawa. i’ve never been there, so it will be an adventure.