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!



Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in projects

gosh, i love this birches cardigan—can i say that? i loved knitting it (twice now) and i love its coziness when i wear it. plus, it just screams “FALL” and just at the moment when our weather turned seasonally crisp (finally—the temps dropped twenty degrees last).

and its oversized cut allows me to throw it on over anything—perfect for running out to the store or a quick walk with my doggie. uncomplicated, but with a richly proportioned shawl collar that always falls into place and a cable feature that’s a real focal point.

i knit this prototype sample in our stone soup DK yarn (color marble) because i know how soft and light it knits up, especially on a bigger needle. it’s buoyant, but still falls into lovely folds; just the thing to show off the stitch patterns here.

the cables are distinct yet light and soft, never stiff. the knit/purl texture has great stitch definition and that little bit of poof to accent its wavy tendencies.

and yet, not so springy as to lend the overall fabric an unwanted stiffness. the textures remind me of the thick stands of birch trees in upstate new york, where i grew up.

the construction of this cardigan is quite straightforward, making for some speedy knitting. it has a straight body with a loose, casual fit that is far from “unshaped”. the front panel becomes the shawl collar with a few sections of simple short row shaping near the shoulders.

the drop shoulder stops short of the bicep and some shaping at the armhole does away with the bulk that is usual with a full drop shoulder. a slight amount of cap shaping in the sleeve allows it to articulate without pulling on the whole garment—much more flattering and polished.

wear it loose and open or belted; add toggles or buttons if like me, you prefer a secure closure to keep things neat. the pattern includes four sizes from XS/S to 3X/4X; shown here is size M/L with approximately six to eight inches of ease.

this is another design that will work beautifully with all of our other DK options as well as several of our sport yarn options. i wasn’t very far into my prototype when i decided i’d love another— this time in one of our super-light and frothy mohair yarns.  so i knit this second sample in our cabécou sport yarn in color sel gris. it looks so fabulous on ellen that i’m going to corner her on our rhinebeck trip for a mini photo shoot and share that with you when my mission is accomplished.

to view and purchase pattern only, please click here for ravelry purchase and click here for knitspot pattern shop purchase.

david has put together kits in a variety of our DK and sport yarns; click here to shop the kit listing.

time to get this winter cardigan on the needles—if you start now you’ll have it done just in time to laugh at the cold.

speaking of time, i’ve got to get going and wrap up a few last details before i leave for rhinebeck. my dear friend kimkimkim is landing here tomorrow afternoon and i want to have everything crossed off my to-do list by the time she gets here. i can’t wait to see her;  we’re making the drive to NYS together—we have SO MUCH catching up to do!

please stop by our booth at indie untangled or our popup shop on sunday at the courtyard marriott in kingston to take a closer look at birches and all of our wonderful samples and yarns. and don’t forget all the other goodies we’ll have—rhinebeck colors kits, knit naked zipper totes, festivus 4.0 yarn and kits, plus our new patchwork gradient yarn and much more—be there or be square!

rhinebeck colors kit

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in projects

have i mentioned that we’ve put together a special week of surprises in the ramp up to rhinebeck 2017? even if you can’t make it to the festival next weekend, we’re bringing it right to your desktop with wonderful new patterns (like the field and shore blanket i released in yesterday’s post) and new kits.

today we are featuring a special kit to celebrate the vivid colors and crisp sensations of autumn in rhinebeck. the kalio cowl, lacinato cap, and colcannon mittens were real favorites among our pairings 2016 clubbies, then knit in deep, black/green shades of late autumn.

for the general release of the patterns, we’ve reworked the color scheme, this time knitting them in the river rock shade of stone soup DK with a feederbrook farms entropy gradient, custom dyed just for us in this sugar maples colorway that is perfect for leaf peeping in october.

we just love the way it turned out! a perfect riot of color and texture—festive, but modern.

each rhinebeck colors kit includes one 300-yard skein of each yarn (600 yards total) plus a special eBook version of three patterns PLUS a drawstring project bag to hold everything—totally portable, totally giftable.

The kit has enough yarn to knit BOTH a cowl and a cap (with pom pom) and probably a headband as well OR a headband, cowl, and mittens. each pattern includes two sizes which are well-covered by the yardage. you can use either yarn choice as the foreground color; we’ve knit the cowl and cap both ways—one with colorful leaves and one with the leaves in silhouette. we like both!

worked with stranded knitting technique, the fabric offers body and warmth; the high merino content lends just the right amount of slouch and and next to the skin softness. our sample knitters were enthralled, watching the colors advance.

click here to purchase the kit now and have it shipped or pick up in person at our indie untangled booth on friday 10/20 or our popup shop on sunday 10/22 at the courtyard marriott in kingston.
but don’t wait too long; we’ve been getting inquiries all week about our sneak peeks on instagram and i think these will go fast.
see you in RB!

thanks a million to our lightening-speed sample knitters vanessa and barb; we SO appreciate your knitting prowess!