polypore—a knit club favorite

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in projects

leading the parade of accessory projects from our mood swings 2017 club, polypore was a popular shawl right off the bat. with its intriguing hem shapes and deliciously wavy pattern embracing a crescent-shaped garter stitch body, this design was attractive to the color enthusiasts, technique junkies, and shawl lovers among us.

its ability to be knit in a single, luxury shade, a variegated colorway, and two (or more!) contrasting colors gives it that special flexibility a club knit requires—there is something for everyone here.

the original sample was knit in two shades of zen yarn garden serenity silk +, custom dyed for the first club installment, one mood and one lifter. the bright color accents the waviness of the lace pattern used in the deep hem sections, as well as outlining the irregular edges.

we sold out on both colorways almost immediately, so for this general release, we had to come up with a different way to show off the design.

for our reknit we chose a subtle, elegant approach by working with a single shade of bare naked wools chebris lace in frappé. this nearly cream shade is laced with silvery threads of gray, lending it a gorgeous patina. with this option, the openwork is more of a feature, as is the textural depth of the garter stitch stripes—a great way to show off a single skein of luxury yarn.

the hem begins with a very large cast-on number that is quickly reduced after a few simple stockinette rows to form a curling, organic edge.

the design was inspired by groupings of bracken mushrooms (or polypores) that i discovered while walking cardigan in the rain last spring. when i saw their shaped edges, i immediately thought, what a pretty shawl hem that would be!

using two colors or a single variegated colorway enhances the dramatic wave motion within the stitch pattern and the short row shaping of the shawl body. you could also use a contrasting yarn type, rather than a contrasting color—pairing deco lace, for instance, with the chebris lace to create shiny contrasting bands and liquid body in garter stitch. a bit more subtle but still a standout feature.

to purchase the polypore pattern or read more details, please see the listing in the knitspot pattern shop or in my ravelry pattern shop. please share your progress and photos in our ravelry group or tag us on instagram (@knitspot or @barenakedwools) along the way!

let’s un-complicate this

Posted on 23 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, projects

for a variety of reasons i am a big fan of sweaters knit in pieces, with seams to give them structure and durability. among their many attractions, the individual pieces make it easy to put a fine finish on the garment details by pinning and steaming, as a precursor to seaming and a final wet blocking. i demonstrate these techniques whenever i teach a blocking class, because many knitters have never seen them applied. sometimes students ask me, “but then, how would you block a sweater knit in the round?”

and most times, i will recommend to then go straight to wet blocking because it can be awkward or even impossible to steam block the details on garments knit in one piece. often you can get nearly the same results with frequent reshaping and fussing over details as the piece dries.

but once in awhile, there comes along a garment that defies the simple path of soaking and laying flat to dry. it might include some quirky shape or feature that requires extra special attention for that important first blocking. or large, relaxed cables that don’t hold their shape without rigorous “encouragement”.

i recently completed a design that fell squarely into this category. the body is knit in the round from the hem up  with oversized cables along the side seam area. at the underarms, it is divided to knit separately through the front and back yokes. in addition, it has a deeply textured cabled inset all around the neck which extends to form a curved back yoke. and when knit in our deepest charcoal gray shade—better breakfast fingering yarn in poppy seed—well, this is a sweater i will wear ALL the time.

preparation for this design required many large swatches to get that neck shaping just right. the change in gauge from the stockinette fabric to the cabled fabric is drastic; coupled with simultaneous neck shaping, it becomes one big geometric nightmare puzzle.

the first swatch did not increase fast enough and offered a less-than-compelling center front feature. not to mention that pleat forming long the center front line—guaranteed to grow in size and ruin everything.

my second attempt was a great improvement aesthetically, but now pulled the fabric in the other direction and not in a good way. i thought i could solve the issues here on paper and then go straight into knitting, so i decided to forge ahead and experiment on my garment sample.

while i did fix the puckering problem, i ended up with another underwhelming neck detail—i had to rip back about four inches of the sweater in progress, grr. still, every time i looked at the beautiful swatches of this mega cable, my determination returned. finally i got the balance right and was able to finish the garment.

once off the needles tho, the sweater still looks scarily distorted and less than desirable. the cable cross involves so many stitches that it pulls the entire garment out of alignment until blocked. once tempered, however, it is a gorgeous frame for a deep v-neck that screams WANT!

the catch is, that cable really needs to be steamed to take some of the wind out of its sails. otherwise, it will constantly collapse into itself, drawing the yoke fabric and the neck edge with it. this situation not only causes unsightly puckering throughout the torso, it undermines the impact and drama of the oversized cable. underwhelming is not what we are going for here.

so . . . what to do? how do we handle the necessary blocking? since i definitely want everyone to want this sweater when the pattern comes out in our upcoming ensemble collection, i figured a tutorial would be a good way to make us all comfortable with the blocking steps needed. it’s not really difficult—it just requires a bit of patience, a ruler, and a good supply of pins, along with a hot iron and a wet towel. let’s get started!

once the body was off the needles, i first steamed the cables along the side seams to open them up—until the cable to blocked to its proper expanded width, the gauge for the body won’t be correct and we will fight the tension in the cable while blocking other areas. since the body is knit in the round, i slip the side seam over my sleeve board to separate it from the garment. you could use a rolled towel or a padded ironing board as a substitute.

look at the difference; the blocked cable shows its wonderful inner texture and is much less bulky. don’t worry about losing the depth of the texture—it’s still plenty sculptural as you’ll see in a minute. i have to apologize for the lighting in some of these photos; i was working during an extremely dark (and short) december afternoon and sometimes had to put the overhead light on to see.

you can use a hand-held steamer for blocking as well if you prefer; these are generally cooler and do not require the use of a towel, but it’s a good idea to test your fabric to see how close to the surface you can hold the tool without causing damage. my hand held steamer feels awkward and needs constant refilling; i always gravitate back to my iron. maybe it’s just that i’ve been using it so long, but i find i can manipulate more easily.

once the side cable is tamed a bit, the garment can be laid flat with relaxed armholes. i placed the back yoke face down on my pressing area to begin, folding the front yoke down and out of the way. i have a large, permanently installed pressing bench with a pinnable surface that is covered with batting, muslin, and a terry towel. you can recreate this surface with blocking squares and a towel spread out on the kitchen table or countertop—any large flat surface that won’t be damaged by steam will do.

using my schematic, i pinned out the curve of the back yoke, taking care to maintain the correct, cross-back shoulder width all the way up the armhole. the skinny shoulder straps can easily take a wayward path, distorting the curve of the yoke. taking care to pin it all securely and squarely will pay off in a yoke that is easily seamed and hangs beautifully without bubbling later on.

after pinning the yoke edge and armholes to the correct width, i check to make sure the armhole is also the right depth on both sides and make any adjustments. i always step back to eyeball the whole thing as a last step; if it looks cockeyed at all, i make slight adjustments as needed.

now it’s time to steam this portion. my iron has been heating as i pinned and i’ve soaked a hand towel with cold water. i lay the towel over the pinned area and use the hot iron to LIGHTLY touch the towel, not putting any real pressure on it; all i’m aiming for is to create steam indirectly. when the iron meets the wet towel steam will be forced through the knitted fabric below and become trapped beneath the towel. there it will fill the fibers in the yarn, making them swell and bloom. in addition, steam helps to weaken the molecular bonds in the fiber so they lose enough of their memory to maintain the steamed shape. this is why you should never steam directly onto the fabric with the iron, or press a crease into wool fabric—once those bonds weaken or break, they cannot be reversed. it works in our favor for blocking, but it pays to be careful and respect the process.

once the back yoke is blocked, i can flip the front yokes up over it and block right on top. this allows me to match the front armholes to shape of the back ones as a starting point. you might be wondering about those locking markers—they are placed at specific points that i want to remember for my written pattern; i left them in throughout the blocking process, but removed them once my notes were complete.

after pinning the armhole shapes, i begin pinning out that neckline. you can see by the number of pins i’m using—and the unevenness of the neck edge—that i’m pulling rather rigorously on the cable width to open it up.

again with the ruler, haha! but in my case, at least, it’s a must; i have to be very precise so that when all the sizes are graded, we don’t end up with large distortions in sizes on the far ends of the spectrum.

once pinned, you really begin to see how beautiful this cable is. the very edge of the neck will look kind of awful at this point, but don’t worry too much—when that yarn relaxes from the steam, it will be easy to nudge it into a straight line and the pin marks will quickly disappear. adding the neck trim will also tighten and draw that edge into shape.

this is a good time to talk about the yarn actually—the design relies on a yarn that will relax easily into the shapes i want to achieve. it doesn’t have to flop about helplessly with no spring at all, but a tight twist merino might not be a good choice for this project. the engineering and fiber character will work against my effort to block the cable, especially around the neck where the free edge cannot apply tension and support. the mix of fibers in better breakfast fingering yarn is just right—the yarn has enough spring to hold its shape and give the cable some plumpness, but the silky alpaca fiber helps it relax. a soft twist allows the yarn to bloom, which adds support within the fabric structure.

it’s not really a necessity to match up the center back yoke pieces so precisely at this point, but as the designer, i want to make sure that the width across the back neck (inside of the curve) is what i expected, as i’m seeing this for the first time. and holy cow, that’s a lotta pins! even though i’ve put so much work into pinning, i would take them all out if those yoke straps needed to be resized to make a correct neck measurement.

once i’m happy with the shape i re-wet the hand towel and cover my work. using the iron very carefully, i steam each section well.

after removing the towel, leave the pieces pinned in place to dry. see what i mean about the sculptural quality of the cable? there is no lack of depth here, but wow—the shapes are WAY sexier now!

after the yoke dries and can be unpinned, i give the lower body a quick steaming through both layers at once. this is mainly to open the fiber and get those stitches blooming, so that the main body fabric will match the other parts i’ve blocked.

i prefer my ribbed hem to be blocked flat, so i add a few pins at the side seams to help it along. once the steam enters the fabric, it relaxes quickly.

now you can see the gentle body shaping (optional) and the full impact of the details. i’m getting excited.

here’s a mockup of the back, with the front yoke flipped over the shoulders and cozied into that back yoke curve. looks like a good fit; i can now graft the yoke pieces and stitch the yoke down.

i left the yoke straps on scrap yarn holders, in case i needed to add or subtract a few rows when i fit them into the back yoke curve. my first sight of the fit is at this point in the blocking process—up til now, there’s been no way to know if my calculations were correct. it looks good—now to put it all together.

the next day i came back with the yoke grafted, stitched down, and the neck ribbing complete. everything went together like a charm, but it needed some serious steaming and blocking to look its best. the center back graft is tricky because it has ribbing and garter stitch, but you can achieve a nice join using my free grafting class on craftsy.

i folded a large terry bath towel and slipped this pad inside the garment up to the shoulders. this gave me a cushion between layers so that the back yoke pattern would not imprint through to the front side.

same steaming technique as for the other parts—wet towel plus hot iron to create steam; no pressure applied. while the fabric is still damp and full of steam, i nudge and prod to smooth out the joined area. once the garment is soaked well and washed, the blooming fiber will help to mask the slight jogs that are a common result of grafting. after a wash and a little handling, you won’t see them.

it’s easy to obsess over these quirky bits when working so close to the fabric, but try to step back periodically when assessing your work. no one, not even you, will be looking at these details under a microscope; friends be too busy admiring the overall effect and you’ll be too busy accepting compliments!

at the same time i also steamed the completed neckband front and back, stretching the ribbing very slightly so that it lies flat and the neckline doesn’t pucker anywhere.

ok, time to see what we’ve created. one of the downfalls of working in the round in one big piece is that i can’t pin single pieces on my mannequin to check that they work. it’s just a big open tube until most of the finishing work is complete. but i can’t wait any longer—i have to take a peek . . .

phew, it looks good and i like it! the slight torso shaping accentuates the lines of the neckline and bust, flaring up nicely to frame the shoulders and face. a gentle hourglass silhouette eliminates any bagginess at the waist that would counteract this effect.

my aim here was to create a neckline that appears to plunge deeply through the bustling area, but doesn’t have an oversized neck opening. the inset turned out just the right depth (thanks to all that swatching)—it skims over the top of the breast in a sexy curve but does not bisect it unattractively (thank heavens). it will likely elongate just a little more after a good bath and i think there’s plenty of leeway for that. i like it.

the blocked side seam panels are dramatically carved to carry the eye upward as well. steaming helped them spread out and flatten a bit so as not to add bulk; it also assists the fiber is blooming so the cables hold their shape.

want to see it on? i can’t resist; i have to try it.

a bad selfie on a dark day, but it’s a thumbs up for fit and neck depth, yay!

ok, now on to the sleeve seaming. i pinned and blocked my sleeves as i did all the other parts, using my schematic as a guide, then steaming with the wet towel and hot iron. i stitch the sleeve caps into the armhole openings from the shoulder down (using those long yarn ends i left in the shoulders), ending each seam at the center of the underarm. afterward i steam the completed seams, using a tailor’s ham; click here to read an older post about the process and tools.

after the sleeves were seamed in, it was time for a bath. i like to wash machine my garments in mesh bags, using the hand wash cycle. mine is extremely gentle, but spins out a lot more water than i can squeeze out by hand. and since i hate to run the machine for just one garment, i grabbed all my BNWs sweaters and added them as well, including the aspergillum cable and lace top that i plan to publish later this spring (top photo, front left).

you can also see my subterraneans samples at the center of the photo below. in the rush of fall happenings, i didn’t get to blog about this pattern, which was published in the fall 2017 interweave knits.

while dyed yarns should be washed in cool water, natural yarns like ours can enjoy a full immersion soak in hot soapy water to remove any spinning oils or dust that remains on the yarn from the mill. this will encourage the fibers to lift and separate, causing the stitches and cables to plump and puff into their final shape. you should always wash your swatches to understand what the final fabric will be like, as it may vary considerably from its appearance and gauge during construction.

the steam blocking really helps the cable keep its shape. as it dried, i periodically stopped in to pull it widthwise a little, making sure it stayed open, but only to ensure it looked nice for photography. for everyday wear, i wouldn’t feel a need to fuss over it, as it really did look nice when it came out of the wash.

a couple more bad selfies, haha, just so you can see how washing will smooth everything out. you’ll get to see photos of it on a gorgeous model very soon.

because i have to dry it flat, the cables at the sides developed soft creases which again, i normally wouldn’t mind, trusting them to hang out after wearing for a little while. for photography’s sake however, i resteamed them lightly. doesn’t the fabric look SO much softer and cuddlier after a bath?

i knit the garment with a fairly long side seam length, but it’s easy to adjust if a shorter or cropped version is appealing.

it turned out to be quite graceful, i think. this is a piece you can dress up or down and wear with or without a shirt underneath. the fabric is light enough to serve nearly year round, but provides a cozy layer of warmth in winter, due to its soft halo of premium fiber.

the design can be knit in several of our fingering/heavy laceweight yarns, including, stone soup fingering (my favorite and next on my list!!), chebris lace (i might need a third), ghillie sock, deco fingering, and hempshaugh lace. the details pop no matter what shade you choose; it’s a great option for a dark yarn. i used around 1400 yards for my size.

i need to think up a name for it; i’m currently using the working title “deep dive”, but “plunge” is another name that i like. what do you think?

cardigan thinks “plunge” is perfect as long as it we are talking about her sheepskin and blanket nest.

i am itching to wear this all the time; i’ve been patiently waiting til all of our photography was completed, but then the weather got so cold for weeks and weeks, that i stayed cozy in heavier sweaters. spring is in the air today so who knows, maybe i’ll wear it to our company meeting this afternoon.

red win

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in projects

view from the front window—a flock of startled frost birds taking flight from a snow bank. while the sky is bright and clear, the temps here have fallen to a new low. brrr, deep winter is here.

on one of the last “warm” days before the extreme cold hit and the ground froze solid, i managed to harvest the very last crop from our garden—parsnips! i love the flavor of parsnips when added to soups, mashed potatoes, and roast vegetable dishes, but they are extremely hard to find in our local stores. it’s good to leave them in the ground til after the hard frost, but that means most years they end up buried under snow. supposedly, you can leave them in til spring but when i’ve done that, they succumb to sodden rot. this year we finally have some decent ones—a small crop, but plenty for the dishes i’d like to make with them. and the day after i dug them, it snowed—a LOT.

cold as it is, our hearts are full and warm—all because of YOU. our red scarf scholarship fundraiser has come to a close for this year and we are super excited to report that we have broken all previous records!!

the final tally even made cardigan sit up straight. thank you one and all who participated in our best effort yet; we really appreciate every single purchase that led to our success this year and from the bottom of our hearts, we applaud you.

we will be funding a new student this year because jelissa is graduating—thanks to our last scholarship, she was able to enroll in all the classes she needed to finish her degree.

tina rasheem, our contact at foster care to success, always searches for a student who will major in an area that fits our own mission; whenever possible she matches our scholarship to a fashion, art, or writing student. i can’t wait to break the news to her about this year’s scholarship and hear about the recipient she decides on. we usually find out during the summer and we’ll be sure to keep you updated!

we really enjoyed the new format of our fundraiser this year too and i think you did as well; hopefully we can continue next year with a similar program. of course, we are always open to ideas to keep it fresh and fun, so let me know if you think of something brilliant! one reader has already requested that we include a doggie sweater or jacket and now that i know how much cardigan loves an outer layer, i am tossing ideas around.

speaking of the little vixen, while she certainly loves to curl up with a blanket next to me as i knit, she still likes her outdoor walks, which necessitates a whole new level of layering up for winter, haha. i am used to vigorous exercise in the coldest temperatures, but did not have warm enough things for the “walk a little, then stop to sniff” pace of our four legged princess. nor did i have much in the way of waterproof gear—a must when one needs to get out EVERY day, no matter what’s falling from the sky. and my boots, though very warm, were an absolute danger for walking on icy streets (there is no mandate here for clearing walks and hence, very few people do it).

plus, it’s been the winter of winters here this year—temperatures well below freezing for weeks on end now and lots of snow, the howl of wind constantly playing in the background. this is the time of year when a sunny day (or even hour) is rare anyway, but skies heavy with snow make it worse.

i managed to find some icebug boots with a removable web of cleats on sale that are so light and flexible, i can actually walk pretty fast in them when necessary. also, a knee-length water- and windproof down coat was located at a deep discount which i grabbed. it’s basically a big puffy sleeping bag with arms, but it works very well and now i’m never cold or wet. i use a two layer system for my hands that i learned from bike riding—thin liner gloves under polar fleece mittens—that works like a charm.

and then i still have to dress the dog, haha! puffy down vest and cowl for her, easy to slip on in a hurry even when she’s doing the pee-pee dance. yes, it takes forever to get out the door, but it’s usually well worth it. still, i’m always happy to walk back into the warm house and put my hands on some wool yarn, hehe.

we had an absolutely lovely christmas holiday, how about you? our house was very, very quiet with just ourselves and it was a wonderful respite. we all received gifts, both funny and touching—just enough to make it feel like a holiday but not so much that we don’t know where to put it all. i love everything i received and all of it very useful; many of our gifts have already been pressed into service around here, yay.

cardigan got a jaw reconstruction and a new bed from us and many thoughtful gifts from kimkimkim, my sister, katharine, and barb.

a box of goodies even arrived after christmas from katharine, full of tasty treats and notions.

this cashmere yarn is SO luscious, it quickly moved to the top of my queue; i’ve had my eye on the yarn from this company for a while and with this extreme cold, i know i can use another pair of fingerless mitts to wear for computer work. i’m finally kind of in small project mode (i know; WAY too late for gift knitting, oh well) and i’ve been on a bit of a kick for making fingerless mitts, so i will likely make these next.

as soon as i finish my lacunae hat.
which has been mostly languishing, though i’ve made a little progress since i last shared—i think i’m just about to the point where i can start the top decreases and from there it’s a quick finish. so what’s my problem? i really need this hat, too; i don’t know why it’s taking so long.

well, perhaps spoon feeding the dog is cutting into my knitting time (ya think?), but again, totally worth it. i would have missed a golden opportunity for bonding if it hadn’t fallen in my lap to do it. more on that in the next post—cardigan has lots of news to share. she knows that some of you are anxious to hear from her.

we did do some christmas gift knitting, if after the fact a bit. i had it in my mind for a while that i wanted to make something for our friend ramona (founder of JJs ruff roads), who spends hour upon hour out in the cold, helping lost dogs find their way back home. she doesn’t even know what knitting is really (she thought it was nearly the same as quilting), but i knew she’d enjoy some warm, handmade things. fingerless mitts are a perfect gift for her and a hat to go with them that actually fits (she is tiny and has a small head, like me).

i dug deep into my stash to pull out the last few skeins of black mission falls 1824 wool that i’d been hoarding for the perfect person. this is a lovely, soft yarn that makes lush, bouncy fabric which is also machine washable and even dryer friendly. when it was discontinued some ten years ago or so, i bought a bag to sock away for “guy” knitting. i’ve used most of it but had a few left—just the amount i needed for my project.

i meant to start knitting this months ago, but with everything backing up on me all year, i didn’t do it til, well—last weekend. so i declared new year’s eve and new year’s day as my own personal knitting holiday and spent them mostly on the sofa, snuggling with cardigan til all three pieces were complete. she makes a great yarn holder, doesn’t she?

i was even able to wash, block and dry them all with plenty of time to spare for wrapping. we did have a deadline—our office friends and family party was scheduled for tuesday night and i wanted to have them ready. i did not get a photo of her wearing them, but she loved them enough to pop them on immediately for the trip home. she was excited to have a black hat and mitts she could use for work at FedEx, where she needs her fingers free. i was excited that she liked them so much and also that little bits of cardigan were knit into the fabric.

now that holiday shopping, cooking, visiting, and gift knitting are done for the year, i’m back to work on regularly scheduled knitting projects. plenty of secret ones as usual, which i can’t show you yet, but also the red sweater i’ve designed and am knitting for david in festivus 4.0 sport weight. this first sleeve is finished now and i’m on to the second.

the sleeves are plain, but the body will be patterned. these are a nice, quick and mindless knit and they’re moving along quickly. this design is constructed in the round from the bottom up without seams, which is why i’m knitting the sleeves first—they will be all set to go when i hit the yoke and need to add them in. also i can double-check my final gauge in the round to make sure i’ve got that right. i just love this fabric and i know david will, too. i picked skeins that have very gradual and subtle gradient shading—really almost solid—but when i knit my own version in patchwork fingering (light print), i’ll use ones that have more obvious variations. still very subtle, but more gradient.

around the office, everyone is working hard to keep the wheels turning on upcoming projects. first, we are organizing the last components of our upcoming PAIRINGS club, which begins shipping in february.

make no mistake, we’ve been working on this for almost a year—chef katharine and i prepared way ahead for the food and recipe portion of this wonderful knit/taste experience. she was here last summer for over a week so we could cook together and take advantage of fresh garden produce and talk over appropriate yarn pairings with our knitspot team.

we talked and cooked and drove all over the area looking for great ingredients, making cardigan kinda crazy with kitchen upheaval (she survived and was mollified by the wealth of goodies on offer).

we came up with a four-course menu and recipes that sequence well into an entire meal or stand alone nicely for casual dinners. we chose dishes that can be varied easily to accommodate special diets or out of season ingredients.

in addition, we tried to imbue each installment with a sense of place, choosing ingredients that are emblematic of particular regions around our big, big country.

yarns and foods are a secret for now, but it think participants will be as tickled as they were last year with the first pairings club. each project is a pairing as well, making use of two yarns; the designs are aimed toward intermediate knitting skills and will include a range of techniques. if you’re new to all this, check out the final pairings 2016 book to get an idea of what to expect in the way of patterns and yarns.

we had to finalize our first yarn order for this PAIRINGS club, so space is now limited accordingly to the number of spots we have left—if you haven’t signed up yet but want to do so, i hope you’ll join us before they run out!

we are also getting ready to release the next winter ensemble collection, which includes eight designers who have contributed some awesome garments and accessories.

my own contribution is a v-neck pullover with a mega-cabled neck and side seam detail. early next week i’ll be using my sample as an example of how to block sweater pieces with complex or awkward shapes—if you love blocking (even more, if you hate blocking), don’t miss this post!

i’ve also begun work on a capsule collection that we plan to release in march—light, airy knits that will be perfect for spring and summer, to wear or to knit as the days grow warmer. i am SO excited about it; my ideas are aligning into a closely related set of pieces, making use of a variety of yarns which are pleasant to knit at that time.

let’s finish this post with something pretty—my tarta shawl and cortado cowl patterns are now available for general purchase!

these two super soft and light pieces were designed initially for our 2017 BNK club, when we knit them for the june installment using salt river mills suri decadence in a special put-up of half cream and half medium brown.

the fingering weight yarn is blended from natural shades of pure suri alpaca and muga silk, giving it phenomenal drape and softness.

the patterns include two sizes each and the samples pictured here are the smaller size, which can be knit from just one yarn set (two half skeins sold together).

to purchase tarta shawl pattern or view details, click here for our knitspot pattern shop listing and click here for knitspot ravelry shop (please purchase with the ravelry link if you prefer the pattern to be placed in your rav library).

to purchase coronado cowl pattern or view details, click here for our knitspot pattern shop listing and click here for knitspot ravelry shop (please purchase with the ravelry link if you prefer the pattern to be placed in your rav library).

wow, i didn’t think i had anything to write about today that didn’t involve nursing cardigan, haha, but i guess i was wrong. many of you have sent heartfelt notes and good wishes to her as we advance through her recovery and we are so touched by each one, thank you!

cardigan is feeling much more her usual self this week and has a lot to share; for those who have been asking, i’m helping her prepare a separate update post for sunday, which promises to be newsy. for now, she says, “happy weekend” and “be sure to wear a hat when you go out!”

taking things in stride

Posted on 63 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, home and family, projects

thank you all so very much for your enthusiastic response to my latest design publication—bottoms up booties; i’m so glad you like them. our scholarship fund total was up to $4294.20 last tuesday and i’m pretty sure that with this publication we went over 5K!! i am thrilled beyond measure; we’ve had a tough couple of weeks around here and we needed some good news.

right now, i’m working on the bootie number two with the button top cuff option; i’ve knit this pair all in kent worsted (driftwood shade) and i just love them—this yarn has so much depth and cushiness, mmm. if i don’t end up needing these for a gift, i might keep them for me.

today i looked at various button possibilities from the selection we carry in our online shop—all of these are natural bone and horn, but they vary in color and shading, depending on the source. the only ones i’m not entirely crazy about with this yarn color are the ones on the lower left, above.

while i do like the ones in the upper right, i think they might get lost in the fabric a bit. that leaves the black buffalo horn ones (left) and the red horn ones (right). i’m leaning toward the red ones, just as i did when i knit my herringweave cardigan in the driftwood color last year. the black ones tho are also classy and i might go with those just to change things up a bit for myself. which ones do you like?

i was stitching up the bottom seam of my button top bootie when realized that this option would also be cute without buttons or buttonholes—just the vented cuff which creates a split. it looks so cute, both turned up and folded down. when there’s better light tomorrow i’ll take some photos to show you what i mean . . .

once the second button cuff one is finished, i’m almost done with bootie knitting for the time being. i’d like to make a second slipper to match this prototype, which i knit using a sample skein of patchwork in worsted weight. that was when we thought we were going to get a whole shipment of the heavier weight yarn in. but our mill never sent it, so all we had were the sample skeins, which i’ve nearly used up knitting hats and these booties.

i just love this yarn, but i’m afraid it’s not to be, at least for now. i do have enough to knit a mate for this slipper tho . . . it’s a taller one with an extended leg and SOOooo toasty. it looks like it fits me here, but actually, it’s a bit big, being a large size. if it fits david, i’ll give them to him.

several people have asked me about resizing these slippers to fit even larger feet—i have to hand it to the knitters who regularly knit for men with size 13 feet and up; that’s real love. anyway, if i can, i’ll make some time this week to edit the pattern with two more sizes. i can’t promise because we have a lot going on this week, but i will try!

i love this photo, taken the saturday after thanksgiving when cardigan and i were hanging out and taking things easy.

i was working on my design, getting the fit right, while testing out cable options and she was watching me, haha. so peaceful.

little did we know what the rest of the day had in store for us! this flop for instance—the cable was too large and not pronounced enough; i just wasn’t sold on it, even after investing several tries into slippers that were “almost done”. ah well, re-doing is still knitting, right?

finally in the late afternoon i said, “enough of us sitting around on our patooties, cardigan; let’s get outside!”. it was a lovely late fall day and we headed up to the college nearby to walk in the fields. we watched the sun set and were just heading off the grounds toward the street when a large german shepherd came out of nowhere and attacked cardigan, going right for her throat.

the owner had been letting his dogs run free in the field, not realizing we were there. he threw himself on his dog and after several tries managed to pry its jaws apart, but not after a lot of damage had been done. poor cardigan’s jaw had been snapped in two and was hanging loosely, having sunk into the loose folds of her neck; it was horrific, but even more so because in the near dark, i thought it was torn away completely. i got her to the street and called david and my friend ramona; she told us where to take the dog for emergency care. our ER couldn’t take care of this injury, so we spent the rest of the night in a more distant vet ER.

thankfully, they were able to stabilize and sedate her, concluding that if she rested with them in the ICU, she could wait til monday for surgery. they decided to put her jaw back together with pins and an external fixator, which she will wear for at least eight weeks; it’s a little like the kind of scaffold they build for a smashed hand or wrist.

we picked her up on tuesday; she slept on my lap most of the way home (she had a morphine patch working in her favor).

she also has some nasty abrasions, bite wounds, and deep punctures all over her body; one on her neck is quite bad. when she came into the house, she hid under david’s desk until she figured out what’s what—she was extremely happy to be home, but pretty disoriented and distressed at first.

the hospital staff was quite concerned about her lack of appetite, but we assured them it was normal for her not to eat when fed by others. sure enough, as soon as i offered her some food, she wolfed it down and was hungry again a couple of hours later. she was eating so eagerly in fact, that we worried that it might be bad for her, haha. but we were told that she should return to her regular rations as soon as possible. no problem there; she’s eating quite well, as you can see in this youTube video david made the day after she got home.

unfortunately, she can’t feed herself, at least not yet; she has to keep from bumping or putting any pressure on the fixator and it’s right in the way of reaching food on her own. plus she can only have soft foods, which tend to smear all over the device before reaching her mouth—very frustrating.

we’ve been playing with an adapted bowl (my inner designer is just running away with this little bone to play with) and have come up with this jerry-rigged prototype, a little feeding shelf. in the process, we stumbled upon her first game—she just loves getting the food off the paddle and then hearing me cheer for her in my muppet voice! she will do it again and again, as long as the whole thing stays upright. if it tumbles down, she runs away and is hesitant to try again (that doesn’t last long when peanut butter or salmon is on offer).

but now that we know it will work, we can make something much more stable and permanent. while the macaroni boxes are endearing, they aren’t really cutting the mustard, structurally. and the plastic bowl scraper is too stiff; we need to get a silicone one. most of the time it’s easier and cleaner to hand feed her, but since she enjoys this contraption, we’ll use it sometimes; it’s the first toy she’s ever shown any interest in!

even while extremely high on pain meds (or maybe because of them), she was ready to get outside right away. she isn’t allowed a lot of activity but going outside to do her business is fine and gradually, i’ve been letting her walk a few blocks to satisfy her lust for new horizons. i’m hoping that after her two-week followup visit this wednesday, they will say she can go on slightly longer walks. keeping her indoors is killing both of us.

meanwhile, we’ve also had to make concessions for the cold; she is shaved over her whole front and the rest of her body clipped close. of course she developed a cough almost instantly, so she needs to be bundled for going out. our neighbor connie was kind enough to give us this red sweater, but it doesn’t fit right and cardigan won’t walk in it, haha; i think it feels like it’s falling off all the time.

i found something else that works great which we all like—a gray puffy vest.

once cardigan realized how cozy it is, i think she actually enjoys wearing it—she often keeps it on after coming back indoors.

on top of that i add a fleece cowl that i bought for running but rarely need to use; she didn’t like this as much at first, but now that the temps often fall below 25 degrees, she’s sold on it.

it’ll be a while before we see this cute lil nose again in its entirety and it might not look exactly the same afterward, so i’m crushing on this photo right now! i think they may have corrected her jaw alignment a bit, so her front lips don’t drape over as much as they used to, but it’s hard to tell; it could just be hardware and swelling that i’m seeing. but she’s being a real trooper about everything, taking all these changes right in stride. she even runs right up to other dogs still when we’re out on our walks; she’s not at all afraid. if anything, she’s finally become a bit more comfortable with people now, allowing small head pets from many friends.

to be honest, it’s pretty amazing how much she seems to have recovered already, bone mending aside. david and i were just wondering how dogs really experience pain and whether it hurts her as it would us. or as a street dog, did she learn early that pain is just part of life and dismisses it? she is lively and interested in everything that goes on around the house (especially food preparation); she sits very close by to watch everything i do.

sometimes i ask her to count for me, just to give her something to work on when i have to be away from my knitting chair for a while. she says my lacunae hat is right on track and that she loves the yarn, too (briar rose fourth of july). i’ve been working on this during our meetings and not paying much attention, since it’s at that “nothing but straight knitting for a while ” stage. and suddenly i realize i should measure it to see where i’m at (or have the dog do it).

i’m going to have lots of yarn left over; i think i may knit myself a matching headband since i use those a lot when the weather is a bit warmer. there might even be enough for a second pair of mitts . . . as insurance.

i’ve been swatching with festivus 4.0 sport weight and holy cow is this yarn lovely to knit with; it’s so lush. yeah, out of the blue, david said he’d like a sweater knit with it so i jumped right on that. i’ll have more to show you in a few days about this project, but it’s a simple design; just enough knit/purl texture to keep me from falling asleep.

it will be knit in the round in one piece to make the most of the gradient fade; these skeins have very subtle color changes that don’t show up well in this photo, but i will still take care to use them in an order that takes advantage of the color graduation. i’ll be starting with darker and more subtle shade changes near the bottom hems and working toward brighter and more noticeable banding near the top of the yoke.

if you are interested in a set of skeins for sweater making, please do feel free to email us  with your idea (jeevesATknitspotDOTcom). we can put together a mostly matching set or one that is more gradient—just let us know your preference.

well, i think someone needs to go for a quick walk before bed and since it takes a bit of time to get dressed for the cold now, i better shove off—see you soon!