first course

Hannah Thiessen wrote this mid-afternoon:

Pairings July 2016

We are so excited to finally reveal all of the details around our first shipment of Pairings, the club we’re running through Bare Naked Wools over the next few months. Pairings ships in July, September, November and January, and each shipment is centered around the idea that knitting and eating have a lot in common. These two activities connect us through the process of making to other people around us, and allow us to share skills we’ve developed with those who will best appreciate them.

The first shipment of Pairings is our appetizer course. Shipped out July 17th, this round centered around the perfect summer food – salads. Our partner chef, Katharine Wainwright,  shared the knowledge that a great salad can be built off of a particularly well thought-out dressing. Katharine shared her take on a traditional Green Goddess dressing and gave expert guidance on how to build the salad of your dreams (including a clever chart I will certainly be making use of on a regular basis!)

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A great salad is bright, refreshing, and celebrates the bounty of the season in which it is constructed and devoured. Anne and Erica approached the yarn for this round of club in much the same way. For the Bare Naked Wools selection this round, they used Hempshaugh Fingering, a unique blend of hemp, silk, and just a touch of merino wool. This yarn has a great, lightweight hand, making it perfect for warm weather knitting. In the dappled greys of Buckwheat, this hearty selection paired beautifully with the shine and texture from the featured dyer, Dragonfly Fibers. Endive, a citron shade reminiscent of it’s crisp namesake, is dyed on Dragonfly’s 100% tussah silk base, Rustic Silk.

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Like the best salads, Anne’s pattern cleverly combines seemingly different ingredients — lace, colored stripes, and textured stitches — into a knit that is both captivating and gratifyingly speedy. A slinky pi style shawl with a delicately ruffled edge that mimics the undulating edges of lettuce, this project changes texture every few inches, so you won’t get bored (and before you know it, you’ll be at the bind off edge!) For those of you concerned with finishing projects as they come in, this is a great way to start — several club members have already finished knitting only a few weeks in.

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I am so excited to see what’s in the next round. I think my favorite part about this club is that each shipment is paired with a packet of information — including Anne’s thoughts on design and yarn choice, followed by chef Katharine Wainwright’s delicious recipe and thought process on the cooking portion, a selection of delicious beverage selections and recipes (cocktails, mocktails, wine, beer, or non-alcoholic choices are all included), and then the pattern. Pairings is so much more than a yarn club! To ask questions or see what members are saying about this shipment, be sure to check out our Ravelry group.

SO much to talk about

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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i had intended to just continue from the other day with a photo tour of the next leg of our alaska trip, but we were surprised on thursday by the release of the fall interweave knits anniversary issue—exciting because it includes my new design, edmonia shawl, which is knit in bare naked wools stone soup fingering yarn (shown in color granite).

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this is simple to knit shawl that is a good traveler and will be lovely to wear in fall and winter; light, soft, and warm, the fabric offers solid areas and open mesh, with a different edge for each side of the triangle shape. because it’s asymmetric, you can change up the look by switching the the tails around. wrap the solid part close to your body on cold, windy days and pile the mesh on top to capture warmth; when you need a little ventilation around your middle, switch it around to take advantage of the sheer mesh breezes.

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the pattern is available for download on the interweave site and also in the print version of the magazine, which i believe is out on newsstands now, but if you can’t find it you can also purchase it in the interweave online store, in both digital and print versions. this anniversary issue is chock full of wonderful designs, articles, and reflections by both current and past magazine staff and has a lot more editorial pages than usual to contain them. note that this pattern will not be made available through our own outlets for at least a year, since IK has first publishing rights.

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anne marie has started a KAL in our bare naked wools ravelry group, which should be a lot of fun, since this design rocketed to the top of the hot list at the end of the week and many knitters are purchasing the yarn and pattern to knit it. if chatting and knitting (and earning prizes!) with our fun squad sounds good to you, click here to check it out.

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the shawl is knit from side to side, starting with the far right hand tip (which is out of the photo here, sorry!)

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ah, here’s a photo where you can see it in the correct knitting orientation. it begins at the very bottom with just a few sts and increases on every right side row, but only along the right hand side, which forms the top edge when it’s tipped upright (just like the immersion shawl if you’ve knit that one). the left side has a sawtooth edging which become one “leg” of the triangle and the BO is at the widest edge, which has a pattern of points and mesh; this is the opposite leg of the asymmetric triangle.

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the result is a large wraparound shawl that will be a cozy, go-to piece, once the leaves start to fly. the IK publication unfortunately listed the yarn incorrectly as DK weight but it actually requires fingering weight yarn. in addition to the stone soup fingering yarn shown here, the design will work splendidly in any of our fingering and heavy lace yarns, such as hempshaugh lacechebris laceginny sportghillie sock, or better breakfast fingering yarn. looking for a lighter, smaller shawl instead? try knitting it in a finer, silkier laceweight such as cabécou brillant lace on smaller needles!

many thanks to everyone for their excitement and enthusiasm on the part of this design; we are all super pleased that it’s been embraced so happily.

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so, are you ready to see some more of alaska? after leaving ketchikan, we headed overnight for the tracy arm fjord. i woke at dawn (around 4 am alaska time) as the captain began announcements that we were taking an alternate route due to heavy fog in our intended destination.

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heavy fog not only reduces visibility for sailing and sightseeing, but is a danger to the glaciers as well, since repeated and/or constant use of the fog horn can cause the ice to crack and tumble into the water.

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by 5 am there were lots of people out on deck or leaning over their balcony railings as we passed the first chunks of blue ice and viewed increased whale and porpoise activity. we were lucky on this trip that the level of whale activity remained high throughout and we got to see some wonderful play almost every day. on this morning i saw an orca leap high up out of the water and arc back down, but it was too far in the distance and too quick to get a good photo to share (it is, however, imprinted permanently on my brain so i can see it any time!)

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soon we were treated to beautiful landscape wonders as well, with the foretold fog creeping about and flowing down each gap and crevice in the rock formations. it was like being inside a japanese scroll painting and the colors were phenomenal.

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i really had to restrain myself from taking a million pictures of the same thing, haha.

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the change in the color of the water as we moved inward from open sea was due to the outflow of fresh water from the snow and ice melt. intricate textures created of rock face, streams and waterfalls, trees, lichen and the color changes as they protrude and recede kept me glued to the window and railing of our cabin.

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the fog comes and goes, swirling about the boat to envelop it at times and then moving off to another area at others, leaving us in the clear. even the open decks were so thick with the fog at times that you couldn’t see to the other side of the ship.

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soon the rock face began to show signs of lower vegetation, spread out across the surface in seussian clumps.

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i suppose that wherever little rivulets of water find their way, so does a seed or two and later, a seedling.

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the ship traveled slowly enough that we could really enjoy the show.

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you can practically hear the bulldozing of the glaciers pushing around the matter that forms these vast folds of rock and compressed material.

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the light and atmosphere was so dramatic at each turn; i couldn’t help myself; i hope you enjoy going over this ground again with me!

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now, the other fjord that we were supposed to ravel is apparently much more spectacular (maybe it’s completely lined with ice? i don’t know), but barb and i did not have any standard to go by and we were quite taken with what we saw.

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soon we had a glimpse of the glacier beyond the rocks—that blue in the distance between the sky and the rock is it.

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then around a bend further up the narrows, we passed this ice floe which poured out from between two mountains of rock.

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upon turning around, around, we passed even closer on the return trip. and all of that gorging on scenery before we even had breakfast—how about that?

at nine we met for class while we watched the return passage out of the fjord and the voyage to juneau. since it was a short day, we mostly spent it repairing mistakes and getting the project as much on track as possible. not too much activity to take pictures of.

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after lunch we were headed into small transport boats that took us to the dock in juneau, where we had the afternoon and early evening to roam about. after a short roam around town and a visit to a small jewelry artist’s gallery, we visited seaside yarns, to meet up with owner melissa highfill (left, above) and good friend eve for some late afternoon knitting and yarn chatting. haha, looking at these photos now, i have to laugh at us in our warm jackets; it’s so hot and muggy here at home that i can barely stand the shorts and cami i’m wearing at the moment.

well, melissa is not only a yarn shop owner, but the dyer behind a tree hugger’s wife yarns.

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stupid me, i did not take enough photos in melissa’s shop and the few that i have did not turn out well. which is really, really unfortunate because she has the nicest shop that we visited in alaska—lots of great yarn, including her own hand dyed brand and some spectacular hand dyed quiviuk, some of it 100 percent and some in various blends. barb bought some of that and of course as soon as i got home i wished i had gotten some too. but i did bring back this sweet skein of baby targhee (above, in dirty glacier), which will be knit into a sample for the new little nothings book we are putting together.

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i’m already swatching! pattern will be going out soon to a test knitter.

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our ship was scheduled to leave juneau around 11 pm, just as the sun was going to bed, and as we made our way back on board, i caught a beautiful shot of the water, just as it was reflecting the early evening sky—which is about 9 pm in late july—isn’t that something? wait, i have another photo from a different angle . . .

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and i think that’s the perfect place to end for today—i’ll be back in another day or two with the last part of our trip and news about what’s happening with my knitting and other knitspot projects (a LOT!).

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meanwhile, it’s dream time . . .

cool waters

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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are you hot? i am—the temperatures here have been pretty warm this summer, hitting the low 90s most days and compounded by super high humidity. fortunately i had a nice break from the heat when i taught knitting on an alaska cruise during the last week of july. i can’t even express how wonderful it was to be in a cooler climate for eight days! and then there was the landscape and the art and no access to internet all that time—heavenly.

so i got back over the weekend and it’s taken me several days to unearth myself from the depths of my email box and to sort through all the photos and impressions i amassed while traveling in the great white north. i have so much to show you and hopefully it will provide a cooling respite from your day.

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for once i was all packed up with more than a day to spare; there was a lot to organize for this trip because once we were on the boat, that was the end of access to any tools, yarns, or samples we would need. i brought a small trunk show of garments and accessories, plus a tiny pop-up shop of yarns and ephemera.

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i had managed to complete the front of the twill pullover showed you in my last post, but had not gotten as far on the back piece as i’d hoped, so i packed that up as one of my travel knitting projects

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and left my three completed pieces at home, with copious notes on my pattern for matching the front to the back exactly.

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having completed one sleeve of my design-in-progress dock and cabin cardigan, i cast on for one of the fronts and packed that along as well. i wanted to concentrate on getting as far as possible on those two garments, but just in case i also packed a project bag with all manner of sample yarn balls for a long list of swatching that i needed to do. for me, this was quite a conservative amount of knitting to pack and i was pleased with my choices, haha. i had a dark project in a bigger gauge and more mindless stitch pattern for daytime and socializing and a lighter colored project for nighttime knitting that was only slightly more involved, but fun to work, and swatching for those little bits of time when i needed a distraction.

(you might have guessed by now that i give almost no thought at all to the clothes i pack; they are basically the same for every trip, as long as they leave enough room for my knitting stuff).

our plans for my nephew to come along on this trip sadly fell through (we will have an adventure another time), so my good friend barb decided to join me. and it all kind of worked out after all—our trip out to seattle was fraught with issues as we fell victims to the southwest airlines systems debacle which was compounded by the republican convention taking place in cleveland at the same time as our departure.

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our first flight was cancelled just as we pulled into the airport so we scrambled to get another flight, the result being that instead of arriving in seattle at 10 am with almost two full days to explore the city, we finally got there just a few hours before our ship was to sail and had not slept in all that time.

oh, and joy of joys, an eight-hour layover in the denver airport overnight—thank goodness we are knitters. by the way, you would not beLIEVE how many people are willing to lie down on the dirty airport carpet to get some sleep. we kept taking walks to wake up and would find these corpse-like figures at every turn and in the most unlikely places—it was positively creepy.

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we were pretty bummed; both of us were really looking forward to having a couple of days in seattle. as it was, we got the 5¢ tour from the inside of the transfer bus, which at least offered some fun sights along the waterfront (hello pike place market; wish we could visit longer!). and after that initial problem, the rest of our journey went really, really well.

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i guess we’ll just have to find an excuse to visit seattle to enjoy it on its own!

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by the time we got to our ship we were absolutely giddy with hunger and silly with tiredness. we found our cabin, took a nap and had some lunch and soon enough we were feeling much better.

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that afternoon and evening we settled in to enjoy wearing clean clothes and having some good knitting time. barb had just begun her frisée shawl—the pairings club knit for july—when we left home and had completed the biggest portion of it (the hem sections) during our travel to seattle. (btw, hannah will check in later this week with a bigger post about the first pairings club installment—don’t miss it.)

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i continued work on my dock and cabin cardigan front, which i’d made excellent progress on as well. the stitch patterns really keep me engaged. they are fun to work and easy to remember, so i don’t have to check my chart or pattern at all, except when i know i’m coming up on some shaping. this is a longer, boyfriend-fit sweater in fingering yarn, so there is a lot of knitting involved, but the results are so worth it. i’m working with our stone soup fingering yarn in the pumice shade; it’s almost an exact stand-in for the original yarn which was also a natural color. i am SO excited to finally be replacing my old, beloved “bathrobe” cardigan—this past winter it finally gave out in one of the elbows and, what with the tattered cuffs and several other small holes that have opened up, the old friend is starting to be inappropriate for wearing in public (though at home, all’s fair in love and war!).

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finally around 6 pm, we set sail—off we go!

i had never been on a cruise before or even on a large ship, so there was plenty to explore. after a good night’s sleep, i got up at the crack of dawn and headed out to the upper deck in search of the gym. i couldn’t find it that first morning but instead, took advantage of the running track to join a couple of other runners willing to brave the wind and what was turning into a cold gale.

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the uppermost deck of the ship turned out to have a lawn—holy cow! i discovered it when i started diverting from the track to run up and down all the stairs between levels. by this time we were “at sea” and traveling through international waters.

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our classes began the morning of that first day, and continued throughout the cruise during days when we did not leave the boat. this group chose to do a lace project workshop which incorporates all of the instruction from my advanced lace class as well as knit along supervision for the bee fields shawl project (a group can choose whatever project they’d like to focus on together).

we were not scheduled to dock at a port til the afternoon of the next day, so that gave us a good stretch of time to talk about preliminaries, get some stitches cast on, and then set up for working the first section of the pattern. it was a good day for all, i think . . .

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the next day we arrived at ketchikan, promoted by locals as the salmon capital of the world (mmm, salmon).

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we literally stumbled upon the local yarn shop (i’m serious!) almost as soon as we exited the ship; i guess we knitters really do have a built-in homing device for them. barb found some really nice shell buttons and bought a set for the oculus coat she planned to start during our trip. we also had a nice chat with the shop owner, but held off on buying yarn.

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ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles; specimens range in age from very old and fragile to contemporary and are featured in many locations and parks throughout the city. this totem stands outside the tiny tongass historical museum, right near our port. when planning my trip, i looked for interesting things to do within walking distance of each docking, as i wanted to make the most of my time on shore. to be honest, most of the planned excursions were beyond my budget (though i would have loved to take the train trip into the yukon from skagway). barb was up for looking around on our own too, so we started right here at the historical museum, which came highly recommended in my research.

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this little cultural center has just two or three display rooms, but we were immediately taken in and spent a good hour or so looking at everything; we really enjoyed this visit. through their well-chosen exhibits, they do an excellent job of presenting the history of the city through objects/crafts, documents, and photographs, while incorporating parallel aspects of modern ketchikan life and culture.

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ketchikan has an extremely active community of artists and craftsmen, but also seems to have an avid lay audience eager to embrace their work and its relationship to their own lives. in fact, the museum appears to reach out and invite artists to emerge from the lay community by contributing to exhibits, participating in events, and offering skills for classes. i love that!

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the place was infused with a sense of humor too—what’s not to love? the guy at the welcome desk offered to snap a photo of barb and me posing in one of the lobby vignettes. no matter how many times i’ve looked at it, i crack up when i see it again.

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after the museum, we took a walk along the tongass creek to the totem heritage center. i had been looking forward to this all week—i was determined to visit and thankfully barb was game.

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the totem heritage center is a museum and gallery of the living artistic traditions of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples and serves as a sort of nursing home for antique totems that have fallen or become to frail to survive in the outdoors.

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as soon as we crossed the threshold we were greeted by a cluster of immense poles that reached all the way to the thirty (or more) foot ceiling—and those were shortened by breakage, too.

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i think this photo gives you a pretty good idea of the weight and dignity of such a piece.

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my favorite view.

that’s another thing—visitors own both venues were encouraged to take photos and to share them; isn’t that cool?

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this dimly lit area was lined with cases featuring examples of needlework and beading—all of which give completely new definition to the word “seed” beads—as in poppy seeds . . .

one adjoining gallery holds huge floor to ceiling horizontal vitrines in which lay the remains of preserved 19th-century poles rescued from abandoned village sites near Ketchikan. i took some photos but it was difficult to get a good angle in such close quarters and they don’t really impart the proper sense of magnitude i felt while viewing them.

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the other adjoining wing includes displays of photographs, art, and objects from the 1800s through the present day. i love this pair of photos depicting people in native dress; i can’t help but be struck at the resemblance between the style of dress here and traditional mongolian dress.

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i fell in love with native alaskan art during this trip. first, it is strikingly bold and graphic yet also lyrical and sensual—all curves and frank power.

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and then, the striking consistency in imagery between all the art forms adds to its drama and impact

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whether paintings, carvings, weaving, or needlework—more IS more. and when you experience it in the context of the landscape there, it’s just mind-blowing.

as we left the totem center, we asked for a recommendation to a gallery that showed authentic work by local artists and were directed to crazy wolf studio, owned by ken decker, a member of the totem center board. we were lucky to find ken and his wife monica in the shop and they were very generous is talking us through some of the techniques in traditional alaskan art and showing us work by some of their favorite artists. i saw a hand-carved alderwood “canoe” bowl that i could not afford, but am still dreaming about—it’s so vivid in my mind’s eye and in the memory of my hands that it feels like i did bring it home!

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we ended our afternoon with a bowl of chowder and headed back to the ship, our heads swimming with beautiful pictures. we put our feet up and had some more knitting to contemplate the day.

oops, i’ve run on way too long once again and speaking of knitting, i really should go and do some now. i’ll continue our travels next time; hope you enjoy the tour so far!

double dipping

Hannah Thiessen wrote this around lunchtime:

Getting yarn in the mail is great, isn’t it? The rush of having a special package delivered to your door, opening it and discovering squishy, fantastic yarn inside — it’s why we love ordering that little treat for ourselves. A yarn club adds a whole new dimension to the process, with a surprise element included that makes that daily mail arrival extra special! Our Pairings Club, which is winging its way to members all over the globe right now, is just the ticket to experiencing that joy for yourself.

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The only downside to ordering something extra-special, exclusive and limited edition is that it might not be available again. We have a solution for this in all of our clubs — we fondly call it “double dipping.” You can double-dip any existing club to get double the yarn. This means you can keep it, knit up two of the same pattern, and give one garment as a gift to a friend or family member. Or, you can use all of the yarn to make something bigger, should the mood strike. Love the neutral from Bare Naked Wools but not the colorway from our indie dyer? Keep the neutral and save the color for someone it suits for a gift knit later — you’ll still have enough for a project. Double dipping is great for those of us who like to knit something a bit larger and have a few more options.

You can upgrade any club to a double or even triple dip when you sign up by adding extra yarn. If you’ve already signed up and want to upgrade your shipments, you can login to your account and use the add/renew membership tab here!