fretfully cozy

Posted on 10 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, home and family

i know this looks like a pile of clutter i should clean up, but i’m pretending it’s a terrarium. i’ve never been able to keep one alive but somehow, i’m managing this time . . .

thank you for your nice notes to cardigan over the last few days; she is so tickled that you enjoy her posts. she is busy making notes for the next one . . .

her adopt-i-versary is this week—one year since we first brought her home. and every day since, i’ve been  awed, charmed, and reminded of the power in positive reinforcement—even when progress is slow and frustrating, she is a patient, kind teacher who does not give up on me.

so, what has everyone been up to? i’ve been working on some secret stuff for the next installment of our pairings club, but also on some new designs for regular publication. i think i mentioned that we want to produce a small collection of spring and summer knits—a few garments, a couple shawls and some accessories—ideas i’ve been eager to work on for a while.

the red sweater i knit for david a while back is a prototype for a slightly lighter-weight version with a bit of detail he didn’t want.

i cast on for mine immediately after finishing his—i was excited to knit myself a casual pullover and to play with BNWs patchwork natural gradient yarn in fingering weight. we’ve had this yarn since late fall, but i’ve not had time to indulge myself with it.

i must excuse my lack of early project photography by saying that pullover this knit up fast as lightening—i’d knit two sleeves and started the body before i realized i did not have even one photo. the idea was to get the first sleeve on the needles in preparation for a road trip to see my mom for her birthday at the end of february.

(THERE are the sleeves!) but that trip got cancelled due to the first snowmagedden of march along the east coast and since i had finished up all my work on our 2018 ensemble collection in order to travel, i was suddenly in a position to give myself a four-day, all-expenses-paid weekend to stay home with david and cardigan, watch the snow fall, listen to audiobooks, and knit (well, that’s what i did with it anyway).

and by the way, i highly recommend this strategy for dealing with inclement weather. and also this yarn—it is the coziest, softest, most cuddly yarn; it’s the chubby, warm, roly-poly puppy of yarn. plus, it’s got awesomely interesting coloration; completely random, but so soft and gradual that it is easily nudged into a pleasing composition. i had chosen four skeins in a range of light print shades; one skein was lighter and more brown, two skeins had more gray and less white, and the fourth skein was a slightly darker mix of gray and brown (if you want some and need us to put a set together, just add a note to your order at checkout). my idea was that i’d be able to knit from the bottom hem in lighter shades up to the darker shades at the neck and shoulders, but you could also get skeins that “match” more closely for a more tonal, allover effect like the one i knit david.

i don’t like to manipulate these types of yarn a lot because i want to show a completely honest result—what you can expect when using it at home straight from the box, so to speak. but i do organize my skeins before i start and plan out a loose sequence. the one spot where i might wind off a bit to get an exact match is where the sleeves are joined to the body—i don’t want a visible line there to mar the overall effect (and that’s not cheating, just being practical). in this case, i had a naturally exact match at the top of one sleeve but at the other, a bit of a jog. but since i had left my yarn supply attached to each sleeve, i was able to alternate skeins for the first few rounds of the yoke to blend them and it worked out well.

in no time it was off the needles and blocking—i didn’t finish it completely that first weekend, but it was washed and drying by 3/15. with just the neckband and two short underarm seams in the way of finishing work, it really is a speedy knit.


i do like the added narrow cable, detailing the side seams and raglan lines—it’s small but adds a lot of definition. i think even some die-hard anti-cable stalwarts might agree . . .

(sorry for the smudged blocking photos—our third floor is seriously light challenged and well, the snowy skies don’t help).

here are  a few better photos; we will, of course, get some much better modeling shots later on with actual models.

this is a sweater i’ll wear ALL the time—in fact, i am already planning a third one, this time a round-neck cardigan, maybe in stone soup fingering, color slate (but i’m considering ghillie sock as well; it would be so soft and durable in light, springy cheviot wool and i haven’t knit with that yarn in a  while).

in keeping with the theme of my small collection i think i’m going to name it Sea Fret.

but before i get ahead of myself, i have one more finishing detail to complete on this sample—since i’m pretty sure i’m going to wear it a lot and that i’ll want o wear it for many years, i thought elbow patches would be a nice addition.

and with the plain stockinette sleeves, it’ll be such a cute detail if they’re knit in the body pattern. so while we were driving to dayton last weekend, i knit a couple, using leftovers.

yes, i like! i think these are just the thing; what do you think?

there’s a bit of interesting finishing work involved in getting them attached, so i’ve written up a post that i’ll publish tuesday with the details. don’t worry, it’s not difficult or even very time-consuming but i thought maybe a few of you might avoid trying these—even if you love them—because you don’t know how to get them attached nicely. and i’ve got some tips to share so meet me back here tuesday, okay?

dayton, by the way, was completely lovely—the dayton knitting guild is one of the most active and friendly that i’ve met, with  a large mebership of over 200 knitters. they have stuff going on ALL the time and everyone is welcome—if you live in the area, consider joining; it’s  great social and educational resource. ellen and i had a wonderful stay and enjoyed meeting about half the membership.

for this quick, overnight trip, i decided i would be disciplined and not bring the usual four or five different large-scale projects. i packed my supplies for knitting elbow patches and then a simple stockinette sweater that’s secret knitting (not secret from you, but from someone else).

after knitting my elbow patches (which took almost no time at all), i reached for the stockinette sleeves i packed, only to realize i had grabbed the wrong project bag and instead had the one with my nearly finished till cowl—just a few rounds to go.

oh for heaven’s sake. well, that took no time at all and soon i was without knitting.

seeee!! this is why i always overpack my knitting; mistakes are made in the rush of getting ready and i always end up unprepared for something—unless i’ve come prepared.

so i took the leftover bits and bobs of patchwork yarn from the elbow patch bag (which are really the last leftovers from my pullover) and i started a coordinating hat. i really didn’t have any intention to design a hat, but hey, it’ll be cute, it’ll fit someone, it’ll be a great way to swatch for the sweater, and it’ll use up the leftovers so they don’t become part of my terrarium. what’s not to love? and i think i’ll call it Haar.

ok, with that i’m going to tune out now so i can finish tuesday’s post and maybe even start on thursday’s. also time to take the dog out!

deep dive

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, patterns

if you’re on our mailing list, then you’ve been receiving many emails these last two weeks, each revealing a new pattern release from the Bare Naked Wools 2018 Ensemble collection.

and now it’s finally time to show you my contribution—deep dive, a refined, lightweight pullover in ten sizes to knit in better breakfast fingering or any of our bare naked wools fingering yarns. heck, you could even knit this in one of our heavier lace yarns, like chebris, for an airy, nearly-sheer, super-luxe version.

the oversized cables hugging each side and outlining the dramatic neckline are Sooo sexy—you just want to eat them up. the neckline cables diverge from a center front detail that gives the appearance of a deeply plunging neck, but the actual opening is quite modest and flattering even when worn without another layer underneath.

the cable love doesn’t stop there—those lovely serpentine ropes extend all the way around the shoulders and across the back to form a continuous chain along the back yoke. the texture is simply to die for—deeply sculpted, slinky, and beautifully defined.

the sweater body is constructed in round from hem to underarm, where it divides into front and back yokes. the sleeves are knit flat and have a fitted cap; they are seamed and stitched into the body after the yokes are sewn together.

i’ve knit my sample in the poppy seed shade of better breakfast fingering yarn—just three skeins needed for this small size and four skeins for the next three larger sizes; this yarn goes a loong way.

my friend barb has knit one for herself in the milk and honey shade, a beautifully soft, creamy color—check out her project page if you’re curious about knitting this in a summery shade!

i want to  get another one on the needles very soon in stone soup fingering yarn—i’m eager to see the effect in a tweedy version. i have swatches that are making me drool over it already, mmm.

want to know more about this utterly wearable, all-season pullover? or ready to purchase a pattern or kit?

click here to purchase the pattern in our online shop and click here to purchase the kit with choice of yarn and pattern. if you purchase a kit and prefer the pattern in your ravelry library, please mention that in the comments at checkout and david will make sure you receive it there. click here to view all of the 2018 ensemble yarn kits.

to purchase the deep dive pattern on ravelry, please click here.

and don’t forget to join in the ensemble KAL in our bare naked wools ravelry group—bring yourself and your deep dive project (or any ensemble project) for a fun, relaxing knit and chat.

 

edison for president (please?)

Posted on 4 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls

if you receive our newsletter each week, you may already know that my edison shawl design made it into the mason-dixon march mayhem bracket, neck and shoulders category.

O.M.G.—this was totally unexpected and thrilling; thank you ann and kay!

and voting begins today, so don’t waste a minute—please skedaddle over to the MDK website to cast your votes (and please save one vote for edison, ok?).

this silvery, somewhat slinky (but not too), wedge-shaped shawl is such a great add-on piece for any season—cool and smooth in bare naked wools deco fingering yarn, it is just the thing wonder woman would pull from her belt to toss over those bare shoulders when the breeze kicks up.

it can also be wrapped much closer to the neck as a warming layer in windy weather, then unfurled to drape over evening wear, once inside. this design was the final installment in the 2017 bare naked knitspot club and was a real hit with our members—visit the edison project page to see some of their beautiful results and helpful comments.

while the lace pattern looks terribly complex with criss-crossing lines and knots, it is actually a quite straightforward ribbing arrangement with few moving parts. the secret lies in a couple of cable crosses every so often that squeeze the ribbing together, first in one column, then the next—and wah-LA!—you’ve got yourself a web of intrigue.

the knitting begins with just a few stitches and increases along one side only. then, just when you might be getting a wee bit bored with that ribbing pattern, the openwork melts into a series of large, bell-shaped ribs that form the finishing edge, ruffle-like but not ruffle-y.

using a yarn with a soft sheen and silky hand will highlight the embossed patterning throughout the shawl body. the pattern includes two sizes—petite and tall—but is easily resized to suit a particular yardage (or if you run short, unplanned). it would be lovely in BNWs hempshaugh fingering with it’s silky, airy hand or ginny sport with its flowing, cashmere-y drape. and how about fresh lace? with its linen/silk content, it’s a natural for summer loveliness. or treat yourself to the original deco fingering yarn!

to vote in the march mayhem bracket, please visit mason-dixon knitting and cast your ballots! and while you’re there, please also vote for mary o’shea’s marabou mitts, knit in confection sport yarn and included in the mini skeins bracket. we are so excited and happy for mary and for BNWs representation!

to purchase the edison pattern or read more details, please see the listing in the knitspot pattern shop or in my ravelry pattern shop. we’ll be doing an edison KAL in our rarely group too—click here to join us or to see everyone’s progress and yarn choices so far.

un-hibernating

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, home and family

oh these little breaks that tell us spring is planning to come for a stay! we had the most beautiful skies this past weekend—blue, blue and clear. we don’t get many of these during any season in ohio, so a short string of them feels like a big treat. the temperatures are still low, but it was excellent water for long walks and we took advantage of it.

back lit tips of emerging bulbs are glowing (hyacinth, i think? if not, then tulips).

and thick clumps of daffodils, growing slowly because it’s still very cold, most days.

and then there’s today—nature trying furiously to make a blizzard and throwing one last winter tantrum to do it.

we just have to ignore these kinds of days and think about blue skies. fortunately we have knitting to curl up with and if we’re lucky, a warm cuddly doggie.

for all who have asked, we are so warmed by your kind, thoughtful wishes—cardigan got her fixator out at the end of january with a bit more mending to do, but has progressed remarkably well. i have an update planned for the next blog, maybe even cajoling her to write along with me.

back in december i started a sweater for david, a very simple design tailored to his specifications. i think i had the sleeves nearly complete when i last wrote a post (i know; i’ve been horribly negligent, ugh), but much progress was made after that point.

i’m knitting with festivus 4.0 sport—a soft, springy, 2-ply merino that is spun from several natural shades, light to dark. festivus 4.0 is overdyed in the cranberry crush colorway by julie asselin and knits into a soft, flannely fabric with lots of squish factor. the random arrangement of the underlying shades creates a softly shifting gradient pattern—this is the same yarn that we sell undyed as our patchwork fingering (more on that later).

the day we went in for cardigan’s x-ray and surgery to remove her fixator, i cast on the for sweater body in the waiting room and worked on the hem ribbing. we had quite a wait so i was able to complete all of that by the time the doctor came out with an update.

afterward though, it appears that the knitting on this moved forward at a turtle’s pace, because i had only completed a few repeats of the body pattern by the time the olympics began.

i did take a timeout to complete some terrifically fun colorwork projects for our february pairings club installment. i love knitting colorwork and i kind of fell down a rabbit hole with these, knitting more samples than i really needed. in fact, i still have one till cowl on the needles and another one planned.

i just can’t get enough of this project—the yarn, the pattern (super easy to memorize), and the speed with which it can be knit are all enticing. it made me want to pair the gradient colorway with several different shades of kent DK, some subtle and some more contrast-y. so fun! i do like the tide pool shade best with the feederbrook entropy yarn (custom dyed in the sweet corn colorway for our club), but the rest are close runners up for  me and here i have it paired with mussel shell for maximum contrast.

anyway, by the time i took a bit of a breather, the olympics were about to begin and ellen started a KAL in our rav group. i was ready to switch gears and knit something simple and soothing—binging on colorwork in DK weight yarn was making my hands a little sore.

i didn’t reach far to pick a project—for me it was getting ahead on the red sweater and with any luck, finishing it (because my original goal was to complete it by valentine’s day but that would be a real stretch). no worries about sore hands here—this yarn couldn’t be cushier; it’s so soft and easy on my hands, yum. and the design is partly mindless; an intuitive knit/purl pattern for the body, egging me on to finish another eight row repeat. it really goes fast!

the olympic KAL (officially known as the ravellenics) must’ve been just the kick in the pants i needed. suddenly i was making grand progress. there were snowy days when i’d make huge leaps in the length of the body, sometime neglecting other duties. but a guy sweater really demands a certain commitment, being at least one-third larger than the size i’m used to knitting for myself, hehe.

another thing that kept me knitting steadily was watching the gradual color changes in the fabric—they are so subtle and ethereal, more like washes than stripes or banding. you almost can’t see them most of the time in the skeins that david chose. of course there ARE skeins with more contrast and activity, but he’s attracted to quieter patterns.

and look what cardigan and i found on valentine’s day, right in the middle of sweater construction—the perfect natural expression of what i was knitting! she wasn’t as excited about our find as i was, but she pretended to be, sniffing deeply when i pointed them out.

i’m kind of kicking myself because i can’t remember exactly where we saw these and now i’m wondering if they would produce a nice dye. i think i know where to look for them again; i’ll let you know i find them.

cardigan was still mending some last fractures that showed up in her jaw x-ray and waiting for the swelling to go down, so between excursions out of doors, she slept a lot and enjoyed having me nearby, knitting and listening to books. within the first week of the olympics, i had the body knit to the underarms and was able to take some photos with the sleeves arranged next to it.

this was my first chance to see how my color shading was working out; i wanted to make sure that when i got to the sleeve/body join, i would be knitting with yarn that was approximately the same shading all around. i’d left the yarn attached to each sleeve so i could decide later which ball would join the sweater pieces.

finally it was long enough to join—but that’s when the real challenge begins because the rounds were SO long—around 400 stitches at the start of the underarm. i remember that i started the yoke during a wednesday knit night at the shop. suddenly progress slowed to a snail’s pace and at the same time, i had to take care of some other work that i’d been procrastinating on. by the next tuesday, i was only a few inches past the underarm with only five days to go til the end of the olympics.

but my deadline had been met, so my knitting time was freed up to finish.

by saturday night, the yoke was complete and i grabbed a quick photo of the finished body on sunday morning, once i had some light. i still had to knit the neckband though and got busy right away.

this is always such a nail biter for me; while i can make pretty good estimates about how many sts to pick up, i never know until the band is complete and off the needles whether it’s just the right fit—and so much depends on it being correct. the band is the final and most visible finishing detail; if it’s loose and crinkly, it won’t just look bad, it won’t maintain a nice tension around the neck either and the sweater could slip around. the added structure of a firm-fitting neckband is especially important on a seamless raglan like this one. but if it’s too tight, it will pinch the fabric unattractively and possibly not fit over the head.

it’s not uncommon at all for me to reknit bands—even a couple of times if i’m not happy. but man bands? the thought of it exhausted me.

fortunately, i got lucky and the band worked out perfectly and i had a finished sweater by early afternoon on sunday. AND david says he likes it (i know that might mean he doesn’t really like it, but i prefer to live under the illusion that it’s true). he tried it on and it fits really well. we washed it and it barely changed size, growing just a little in length; similar to the results with my swatches. he hasn’t worn it yet, but i’m hoping i’ll see it on him soon.

i think he’s afraid i’ll stalk hime with the camera if he puts it on, haha.

david’s red version is really a prototype for a final design that will be slightly different—he wanted his sweater completely free of details, but i like the idea of a narrow cable defining the body and raglan lines.

so i’m in the process of knitting a second sample in the “real” design, this time using the undyed patchwork fingering yarn (i selected the light print option). i’ve got my sample nearly done and i’m SO in love with it. the pattern will be forthcoming as part of a small spring collection i’ve been working on—more on that in upcoming posts.

well, the skies have brightened a bit but the snow is still drifting down and it’s windy and COLD—just 24 degrees, brr. i’m not sure spring is in the air just yet (but just a few days to go before it’s supposed to show up so . . .).

i have to stop writing now, because cardigan and i have an adventure planned. we’ve been working with a trainer a bit and today we are going to his place to meet his dogs and do some socializing. it’s been quite a while since she had an outing with other dogs and i think it’ll be a lot of fun; we’ll be back in a couple of days to share all of her latest news.