it’s a RAP

anne wrote this in the wee hours:


for my final installment about rhinebeck, i saved the best for last—the one about our second annual rhinebeck after party retreat. while we had a few less participants this year, the experience was no less inspirational. maryanne and dana are mother and daughter from california who share a love for our craft and have joined us both years so far—aren’t they lovely?


i mean, how very cool is it that knitters come from all directions to gather under one roof for a few days of focused study, relaxing work time, fun excursions, and the bonding that only knitting can provide? sheryl was SO excited to be here for the first time (though i know her also from sock summit 2009).

this year we took on color knitting and what a terrific choice it was. (BTW, karen did not knit her sweater before taking my classes—i checked, haha. i was really worried when i saw her wearing it; i’m always intimidated by students who’ve already mastered the subject matter i’m teaching!)


we started off on monday morning with a new yarn voyage class, this one geared toward color knitting. we explored the myriad characteristics of fiber and yarn construction that play a part in creating successful color knit fabrics. which, of course involved poring over many swatches from my library as well as knitting new swatches to understand the material through our own hands.

we all just loved this class.
before we start, we all think we know what is going to happen in this class and then every time we all get our minds blown; it’s fantastic.


then we break for lunch. one of the neat things we built into the RAP is a very long break between sessions, so that participants can go off and enjoy some of the terrific food and sightseeing opportunities the hudson valley has to offer while it’s still light out. this gives everyone a chance to spend time getting to know each other better as well or to have some alone time or even a nice nap.

it’s good—very continental, haha.

after the lunch break, we reconvened for an afternoon of exploring color knitting techniques, from slip stitch knitting to stranded knitting. you can’t cover everything about color knitting technique in just three hours, but we got quite a bit done, sampling something from each major color knitting area.


the project (left) and the swatch (right) were part of a discussion about color dominance (prominence of the foreground or background colors) and how to carry yarn strands to create one effect or the other.


monday was an intense (in a good way) day spent in the classroom with me lecturing for most of it, while participants swatched their way through the material. i was nervous because i am by no means an authority on color knitting—i just love it and i don’t get to do enough of it with all my other design work. that said, i have been looking forward all year to this retreat because of the subject we chose to cover and have been thinking about it a lot.


i wish i had taken more photos that day of all the lightbulbs going off to signal “ah-HA!” moments; it was a wonderful incubator for new experiences and connections. cynthia’s face says it all—she’s a doctor who does very serious work all the time and she approaches her knitting similarly, but at the same time, i see that it relaxes her and that she enjoys it immensely, much the same as i do—i love this woman, she adds so much fun to the mix; i’m so glad she makes the time to come to our retreat!!


on tuesday morning we directed all that we talked about the previous day into a project immersion class.  participants could choose between a slip stitch project or a stranded project; the class fee included a full-sized kit with all the yarn needed to knit either piece in undyed yarns. some students provided their own dyed yarns to add to the mix.


this day was more relaxed and casual—giving everyone a chance to digest what they had learned and put it into practice.


we spent the morning in the classroom getting organized, talking a little more about how to arrange colors into compositions, and reviewing technique, as well as familiarizing ourselves with the pattern.


i always encourage students to take on a new challenge in these sessions, so i was excited when almost everyone decided to go with the stranded color work project, the kingston cowl (patterns for both projects to be released very soon).


everyone worked hard, but in a different way from the day before; when i wasn’t talking, i made myself useful by floating around to help out wherever i was needed.

most of the morning was devoted to swatching out ideas for color arrangements that varied from the pattern as well as setting to work on the hem ribbing.


after lunch, most of us were ready to get into the meaty color work portion of the project. we moved the whole show into the lobby, where we could spread out comfortably and chat as we worked. josée passed around photos of her brother eric, who builds suits of armor for a living, to keep everyone’s adrenalin up. lisa was breathless.

i had encouraged everyone to use my pattern as a guide, making any changes to the color sequences they desired to put a personal stamp on their projects; i was really pleased to see that almost everyone was working up a unique variation.

before we knew it, wine o’clock was upon us and time to repair to our rooms to freshen up for the evening events.


(after i got home, i found this card in my bag from jane ann holmes-davis; it’s her original design, isn’t it adorable? thank you janie!)

tuesday knit night is the most fun evening of all, where everyone lets their hair down to really get the laughter underway. we provide the food, door prizes, and atmosphere while everyone pitches in a little make some fun.


for many participants, it is their last evening together, so we like to make the most of it.


this year, in addition to a whole bunch of door prizes, we also held a silent auction for a couple of grander prizes to kick off our red scarf fundraiser a little early. and we did alright—thank you everyone! i will be posting the red scarf fundraiser pattern a little earlier this year along with a special kit—keep your eyes peeled for that in a couple of weeks.

the next day we had a small but wonderful group for our final class, sweater fitness. lucky them; in such a small group we can really talk so that everyone benefits from each other’s work. it was a fantastic class.


that afternoon, we were lucky to indulge in a wonderful lunch at the cozy, award-winning matchbox café, a place i had passed back and forth by several times but had never stopped.

the proud owners do it up quite nicely in a tiny kitchen, from home corned beef to burgers to delectable desserts and cookies. SO going back there next year . . .

i picked up a slice of cake to bring to my mom that evening, because when the RAP came to a close, i headed up to albany to visit with her for a few days.


lucky me, i got to go to one of their monthly “cousins” lunches; i try to make as many of these as i can, especially before everyone goes off to florida for the winter.


aren’t they cute?

my mom and i had a really nice visit for a few days, even though the weather wasn’t so great. we did some shopping, went to the movies and had dinner with my sister’s family. i did some really nice runs as well; i always enjoy running in her area.

in fact, when we go back for thanksgiving, i’ve sign up to run the turkey trot along the river in troy, since i’ll miss the one here at home. anyone care to join me for the 10K at 8 am?

and then last sunday it was back home for me and i’m SO glad to be here.


yesterday, while the twins were elsewhere, i mined the shop, so i took a few hours to move furniture around and re-do some of the the displays.


now it’s even cozier; you really should come!

actually, one of the reasons we moved things around is to prepare for the new menu of classes we are beginning to offer. laura lazaritas will be teaching beginning and intermediate knitting as well as offering fine finishing services for anyone with a project that is long overdue for blocking and seaming. you send us your project pieces and she sends you back a completed garment; what’s not to love?


i finally sat down to knit for a bit at 2:30. i’m working on the cashmere lining for my kingston cowl and this time, i made sure to take photos all along the way so i can bring you a tutorial in the next few days about how to add your own cashmere lining to a cowl or hat.

i believe we’re going to have a pattern and/or yarn release tomorrow, but after that, i should be ready to present the lining tutorial.

and now it’s 2 am, so i’m going to close with a weird and wonderful thing i saw today while shopping with beckie


yes, you are seeing right—that’s an iris in full bloom. in november. after a frost last night.

and not only that, but there was a whole clump of them. and they are gigantic—really, like hothouse specimens.


neither of us had ever heard of this before; with all those fall leaves surrounding them, it was a bit of a science fiction moment, you know? hunh.

now if it’s as cold where you are as it has gotten here, you might enjoy the wovember blogs—a cozy tribute to all things wooly and woven.

you know what day this is . . .

anne wrote this in the wee hours:


how we missed our neighbor bret’s house of haunting last year, right?

but he wants everyone to know—he’s BACK.


there’s nothing quite like bret’s yard in october.


(except of course for december)


let’s take a little walk, shall we? and don’t hog the middle of the path, there . . .


you have to take your turn on the edge, too.


i know it’s grisly—but hey, i didn’t put it there!


i’m just an innocent onlooker, like you.


(cue in slasher theme from psycho)


you have to get past these two ladies to get onto the “safety” of the porch


only to find out then that it’s not at all as safe as it seems.


plan B: scoot down the front walk and outside the fence, where i’m back in full view of our own house


(i’m ignoring those feet rising up from the earth)


and this “work” bench—it looks eerily like a butcher’s block . . .




seriously, where does bret find all this stuff?? i mean, skull finials for the fencing?


no wonder this guy keeled over.


this gruesome crew is not making me feel comfortable at all; maybe i should head home . . .


where i can view the tableau from the safety of my study.


but wait, there’s more. we haven’t seen it at night yet.


it’s a completely different look under the influence of lighting.


so let’s take another turn around the bone yard




lok at them; they’re positively grinning with snide delight.


i inched around these two truly creepy critters



we’re almost there, i promise . . .


but WHERE, my pretties?? he he he.


back on MY side of the street, that’s where!


thank you bret and connie; HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


ba-a-ah-d blogger

anne wrote this around lunchtime:


i know—there is no excuse for telling you i’d be back in a few hours and then disappearing for a week, like a bad boyfriend! hopefully you will accept a peace offering of my favorite rhinebeck photo.

i mean, a nun walking a goat?? i had to bring that one home for you.


the rest of our wool show weekend was very, very fun. i worked in my friend chris’s booth for the part of saturday, but after that, i got to shop for kimkimkim and visit with friends at our annual picnic.

after some knoshing and visiting, josée handed around the swap packages and we all unwrapped our gifts—time to see whether my swap recipient liked her shawl . . .

i didn’t sign my card so at first, she didn’t know who the heck she was paired with. then she noticed that erica and i were furiously snapping photos as she looked into there bag. i love that moment when she finally caught on about what we were up to, haha

well, she was surprised for sure—yvonne had just one a prize at our grand opening celebration a couple of weeks earlier, so this was a double treat for her. in fact, at the GOP, i tried to get her to tell me what her favorite design was, but she said it was the dutch tiles blanket and i wasn’t up for knitting that in time for the swap, haha.


anyway, yvonne likes this one pretty well, i think.


and i got a perfect-for-me little les abeilles triangle scarf from lynn, my swap partner


i love it—the colors in it are really beautiful to look at and it’s knit from bugga! she included a hilariously appropriate card as well


don’t you just love it?


i think everyone was really happy that day; many thanks to josée for organizing the swap which added such a fun and endearing component to our annual picnic. i hope we do it again next year . . .


after lunch i was able to wander around a bit with anne marie, who was at rhinebeck for the first time. she and barb had spent quite a bit of time shopping in the morning, so i had some catching up to do.


i picked up a sweater quantity of sea pearl while working in the briar rose booth that morning—i wear my blümchen so much that i feel a need for a second sweater knit with this superb yarn. it’s so versatile—warm enough for chilly fall weather, but light enough for springy days too. and it’s dressy, too—but not so much that i can’t wear it with jeans and active wear. this is a fresh new colorway for chris, which i snapped up the moment i saw it.


and then i found these two skeins of her polwarth/silk blend which i was going to put in kim’s bag, but then decided i had to keep instead (i’m going to try to squeeze a sweater out of it). at this point, i didn’t know yet that my swap partner was knitting me something in the same colorways, but it’s uncanny, isn’t it?


for kim, i got a sweater quantity of spirit trail sunna like the top skein here—a new colorway called faerie wood. and then i got her some nona lace yarn in that aMAZing turquoise color called corfu (my skeins are all in the birte base)


that faerie wood was popular with our group—we ALL went home with some; sarah in verdande, barb in sunna, and me with the birte. barb got right to work of course and is knitting up the sculling cowl with her sunna—a great choice. i think kim’s batch is a bit more green, which will be nice for a sweater fabric.

i also got her a surprise purchase (hey, she said “no limit” and i’d barely made a dent!) of something a little heavier to knit into a great big winter cowl or cozy accessory for herself—she lives in a snowy climate now, she’s going to need it.

i actually thought about keeping the surprise yarn to knit her something for christmas, but then did a reality check and decided it probably wasn’t going to happen and keeping it would be a waste because it’s something she’s going to love.


after the show we stopped off in town to visit our favorite boot shop, where we all actually found something to love. we won’t divulge how many pair of boots barb managed to buy, but suffice it to say that she earned a “free” gift. i found some awesomely comfy laceup shoes that are perfect for long teaching and travel days or when we are doing a booth (and when i linked just now, i might have bought a second pair online. so barb isn’t the only shoe sucker you know).

that night we decided to grab a quick dinner, get back to our cottage afterward, and into our jammies for another evening of knitting.

i worked some more on my color work cowl while we all admired each other’s purchases.


on sunday morning, anne marie and i went back to the show for her last morning with us. with fewer crowds, we got to wander in a more relaxed fashion, stop in to say hi to friends, and get a closer look at the wares remaining in the barns.


now, you know and i know that i should never go anywhere near the bedfellows blankets booth, but that’s exactly what i did, first thing we got into the big building. peggy hart always has something special and this year it was this bold gray/cream/red throw in a sturdy weave that made use of an over-twisted gray merino yarn, unsuitable for other purposes.


the high twist creates a texture and density that pushes it to the background, allowing the lighter cream yarn to rise to the surface.


anne marie bought a lighter throw made from the same yarn in peggy’s log cabin pattern, like the one i purchased a few years back


but hers is in that unusual textured gray. while we were in the booth another person popped in because she had seen peggy’s blankets on my blog in other years; hurray!

while everyone was chatting, i spied another piece i instantly fell in love with. a lightweight throw just perfect for summertime napping. i don’t know about you, but i can’t sleep well without some kind of covers, even in summer. this year i was longing for a very light linen blanket, something to cover, but not hot (linen is so great for that).


this sahara cotton/linen throw is exactly the thing; just gazing across its surface makes me feel cool and restful. after swearing i was done, somehow i became distracted and my check writing hand bought it behind my back. what could i do?

after this we left the building and made a trip to the car—blankets are far too heavy to carry around the fair. it was on the way back that we ran into sister mary elizabeth and her goat; what a hoot (or a bleet as it were).


i just wish i could remember the goat’s name.


another booth i really enjoyed was the germond metal works, where jesse and hallie germond were enjoying an exciting first year at the show. they produce beautiful metal sculpture and functional metalwork goods, such as weather vanes, signs, fireplace screens and other household fixtures.


these two are completely charming and their work is really cool. i have been wanting a weather vane for our garage for many years and as soon as we can get a new roof on that building, i’m hoping to add one of these to it.


i LOVE the striped bass. or the pig. or maybe a sheep is more appropriate. but of course, an olive is always a possibility, too. (this is why we don’t have a weather vane yet; you have to choose).


i really wanted to get this rooster for kim and kade, but i wasn’t sure they’d want it and my text didn’t go through. i figured they could buy it online if they see it here and like it that much. i like how it’s made in pieces and joined with studs, so it looks a little mechanical, like frankenrooster.


since all the sheep were gone by then, i settled on a smaller standing hen sculpture which i’ve been enjoying as an addition to our dining area. it’s folk art, but modern; i love it! but it may migrate to the shop in due time, as it would be beautiful next to our yarns.

next year i plan to get there early for a sheep . . .


by now we had to make our way over to kingston to get ready for the opening of our popup shop at the marriott and so anne marie could be on her way home. we hated to see her go; it was SO MUCH fun that she joined us this year.


all the night before, erica had been hard at work in the hotel conference room, setting up our shop. it looks GORGEOUS when we arrived; i was so excited when i saw it. there she is, wearing the danger cowl that she received in our picnic swap, knit for her by barb in our ecobutterfly organic cotton worsted, colors deep green and sage. it’s so soft; erica barely took it off for the whole rest of our trip.


with the popup ready to go we ran around looking at the yarns as if we’d never seen them before, haha. anne marie decided to knit another color work project, bogolan by Elizabeth Davis, a very clever and modern design that met with immediate approval from all of us.

we pulled some of our new confection sport for her to work with and then off she went to home.  we missed her instantly . . .


but she sent photos just  a few days later of her bogoaln progress and wow, it’s even better than we thought it would be. as with many of our yarns, the loft in the confection can cause a fabric to feel a bit stiff if knit on needles smaller than size 6US (4.0 mm) or so, especially in color work. i’ve been using it on size 7 to 8US (4.5 to5.0 mm) needles for my recent projects. anne marie found she had to size up too, but then was able to work one less repeat in height to make up for that.


picking out the yarn for bogolan reminded me of a new two-tone design i’d been itching to start knitting on and while anne marie picked out her yarn, barb and i picked out two-tone sets for the new design. i’m using stone soup DK for mine, in travertine and river rock. as you can see i’ve placed a lifeline at the top of the hem so i can go back later and add a cashmere lining. not that the stone soup needs it, but i thought it would be a good chance to do a series of tutorial photos—hopefully for a post early next week, for those that have been waiting.

one of the tasks on my to-do list for today is to write up the pattern so barb can get going on her sample, in kent DK . . . driftwood and white sand, i think. but more on that later . . .


back to the party, however—it was a wonderful night! so many people came to shop and visit with us; i always really enjoy meeting knitters who love our yarns and designs. i just wish i could remember to write down their names; isn’t that what smart phones are for?

now for the next three days we convened our after party retreat, with classes, outings, knitting nights, and more—i’ll be back next time to fill you in on all the details; it was another wonderful event.

eight days a week

anne wrote this just before lunchtime:


oh my, what a week! and one full of smiles, i might add. it was so, SO good to reunite with wonderful friends during our week abroad at the big wool show.

i had totally planned to blog before this, but one disadvantage of being constantly on the go is that anything i might plan has potential to be sabotaged. for instance, while i did have wi-fi at the hotel, i couldn’t connect to the internet from sunday through wednesday. we finally figured that issue out just in time for me to move on to my next destination, haha.

ETA: and see? just when i was getting into the meat of THIS post, we lost internet at my mom’s, thus delaying it once again. sorry!

shall we back up a bit and start from the beginning? i promise there is some fun knitting to be seen all the way back there . . . in fact you might remember me mentioning a couple of secret projects i had going, yes?

well one or two of course were the october projects for our bare naked wools club and you can click here to peek at those (spoiler alert). in the two weeks before i left for rhinebeck i put the finishing touches on those and also worked on my secret rhinebeck swap project


which would be revealed at our annual knitspot meetup picnic on saturday at the fair. this was my very first swap—talk about pressure! i didn’t know much about my giftee until a few weeks before the date, so i procrastinated a bit in getting started, waffling about what to make.



when i finally realized who exactly she was, my plan took shape. originally, i wanted to make this shawl with shades of stone soup fingering yarn, but when i realized i knew more about my person’s taste, i decided to do some of the stripes in purple.

ETA: what a dope! i forgot to say that the pattern i chose is bayleaf and lime in size petite.


i pulled a skein of woolen rabbit pearl sock yarn from my work stash (i think it’s colorway lady slipper, but the tag is back home, so i’m not positive). since it’s a tight twist sock yarn, it has a nice round profile with lots of polish; a nice complement to the flannel soft, tweedy surface that stone soup fabric has. i used about three ounces of stone soup fingering yarn in granite, and about two ounces in slate in slate, plus about two ounces of the purple sock yarn and i knit on size 6US (4.0 mm) and 5US (3.75 mm) needles.


after our grand opening even was concluded, i got down to business and completed a serious amount of knitting during the drive to and from yarn in the barn. this shawl knits up very quickly and because of that, it’s quite a fun project. even though i was concurrently designing and knitting half a dozen color work cowls and two of the october club projects (plus creating the book chapter to go with them), i managed to get my shawl completed and blocked over the weekend before we left for new york. i remembered to snap a photo of the finished UNblocked shawl (above)


so you could see what a difference it makes. i know you already know this, but the transformation still makes me go “wow” every time i stretch and block lace.

because i used bigger needles and a bit more yarn than the original pattern calls for, the finished size was also bigger—about 21 by 58 inches


i’m pretty good at predicting what will work, but i really wasn’t sure i was going to love—or even like—this piece until i saw it all stretched out. maybe it’s because i’ve been working more with neutral combinations (though certainly not exclusively) but i kept wondering if the purple was too much of a contrast.


once it was stretched however, the color impact was considerably balanced when the gray tonal variations and rich brocade textures were brought out in the fabric (i always loved the combined textures in this shawl!).


isn’t she lovely?

i wrapped it up with some additional goodies and crossed my fingers that the recipient would love it  as much as i did. then i proceeded to plan my next project around this idea—i was really taken with the look and how much fun it was to create.


the next one will be knit in that raspberry/chocolate combination of yarns i showed you in my last post. i packed everything i needed to get started, but well, so far i haven’t begun. i had to process my idea a little more; i was overwhelmed at first with possible motifs to go with. i’m just about there and have decided at least what the hem will be so i will most likely start that when i arrive home.


so last thursday, with everything that could fit packed into the truck (thank you david!), sarah, barb, and i bundled ourselves into our vehicles to head eastward.


in twenty minutes we were at starbucks, a necessary pitstop.  after that though, it was all business—we wanted to get there as quickly as possible.

i am very lucky and grateful that sarah drove the whole way, while i knit on a color work cowl sample for my classes the next week. i know that sound incredibly irresponsible to have left it to the last minute, but i have a good excuse!


this is knit in our new confection sport yarn and we actually hadn’t received all the shades i needed until just before we left (in fact, one shade that i wanted to use never came til after we left, so i altered my design to suit). sigh—never a dull moment, i tell ya.

anyway, thanks to sarah taking the wheel for the day, i was able to get really far along on this project, having been all the way down in the bottom ribbing at the start of our trip.


after dropping the truck off with erica in kingston, we piled into barb’s car and headed for our little cottage on the other side of the river.

after settling in and grabbing a quick bite at a cute cafe in red hook, the three of us settled in for an evening of knitting and chatting. sarah was working through a strömming cap knit in bulky yarn (she just knit the smallest size, using fat yarn and 6 mm needles). it took all of a few hours and turned out so cute, but i never got a photo. maybe she’ll post it to her ravelry project page?

the next day was a big one, so we turned in early to get our beauty rest. we started with a visit to the fairgrounds to drop off various items with vendors, from samples to printed patterns.

we had a nice visit with jen and her team at spirit trail as well as the briar rose family (hugs all around!). i’m not saying if by chance we happened to get a preview of the wares that would be available to everyone on saturday—we might have . . .

then it was on to the CIA for our annual lunch date with friends nathalie and mary, to catch up on all the news with them and talk knitting (they are bot incredible knitters). anne marie was joining us for the reminder of the weekend as well, starting with this meet up at CIA.


our dear kimkimkim couldn’t make it rhinebeck this year (WA-AH!), but i channeled her in by ordering multiple desserts. unfortunately i could’ eat either of these (clearly, i’m no match for her skills at dessert or shopping, but i try). i did eat them later in the weekend over several sittings.

we had a lovely and delicious lunch (butternut squash soup = A++++).  the weather was absolutely sparkling for once—it usually rains buckets the day before the wool show. and this was our last bit of relaxation for a while—the rest of the afternoon and evening was jam-packed with activities.

first thing after lunch, barb and sarah had to get back to kingston to join erica O. in setting up our display for the indie untangled event. anne marie and i headed back to the house to drop her things and then snuck in a quiet coffee and a bit of chocolate (see? i can eat dessert! i just have to make it it’s own meal)

back to kingstone to drop anne marie off; i actually had attend the romney growers association meeting for the evening. which was very interesting—i got to met several of the producers who provide romney wool for our kent yarn line.


it was terribly dark so i couldn’t get a great photo, but you might remember devlin here, because i mentioned him in the post i wrote about the creation of our kent yarn. well, he won the romney growers scholarship this year—yay devlin.

by the time this event ended at 9:30 or so, the event across the river was also finished. i checked in with my pals and we decided to meet up back at the cottage for wine, snacks, and knitting. and of course swapping stories and relaxing if possible.


this turned into a late night session of hilarity as we roasted kimkimkim in the ravelry threads for a couple of hours (serves her right for abandoning us). seriously, i’ve never seen anne marie laugh so much or so hard.

ok, this has got to be continued later—i need to go out with my mom; we’re seeing a movie today

back in a few hours with more