Posted on 28 CommentsPosted in patterns

today i have for you the release of my second design for the wool girl victorian authors club, a pretty, flirty shawlette or shawl that was part of the july shipment for that club.

i was honored to be asked to design the installment focusing on virginia woolf, one of my literary heroes. jen chose mrs. dalloway as the literary inspiration, which i loved, because the story takes place in june at the height of the flower season.

virginia woolf was a gardener too and loved her flowers, so i set about searching for just the right stitch patterns to create a floral, botanical feeling, but in a fresh, modern way.

the final colorway from malabrigo was lovely—a bright pink, but in a good way, with streaks of cantaloupe, lavender, and white throughout; the kind of color that brings roses to one’s cheeks.

and just variegated enough to provide a wonderful quick movement in the fabric.

i remembered an undulating leaf pattern i’d been wanting to use in something and wondered if it would work for a hem—it sure did look like hydrangea leaves to me. this flower is not from a frillibet hydrangea, but you can find it by googling.

or even a lot like the veining in these caladium leaves.

i really liked the idea of linking it with the hydrangeas, since they are mentioned in mrs. dalloway and are wonderful during the month of june, when they are freshly blooming.

i found a nice, small eyelet pattern to use for the pup part of the shawl that has an amazing resemblance to the slightly pointed, overlapping petals of a mophead hydrangea flower, like the pink one above. they worked perfectly together and i got started right away on the knitting.

when i sent photo to jen, she was really happy—that made two of us! i love this piece and karolyn, who test knit it, agreed—she loves pink and this one was very appealing. plus the pattern is a fun knit; what’s not to love?

shown here, the petite size shawlette in malabrigo lace a 100% merino yarn, colorway mrs. dalloway (exclusive for woolgirl club members, but check out the orchid colorwaay for a great alternative).

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the knitspot pattern shop. or purchase pattern in our ravelry shop.

many thanks to jen at wool girl for inviting me to participate in this project; it was truly an honor to design something that celebrated one of my favorite authors.

and to the lovely helena, who brings a fresh young spirit to the day, thank you!
helena got accepted to a very competitive theater program in our area this summer and is now spending six days each week immersed in classes for acting, voice, and dance. we miss seeing her here, but we’re also thrilled for the new opportunities opening up to her.

i thought it was over

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in food and garden, projects

after i posted about the robin, i noticed that the nest was empty a lot more often and i wondered if she’d finally abandoned it.

but no, she was still nearby, going nuts every time someone came in or out.

(this one of the two maples that stand just a few feet away form the porch; so handy for both escaping AND keeping an eye on things.

then on monday evening, through the powder room window, i saw this

she was up on the rim of the nest and not right on top of it. hmmm

and when i looked again, i could see a few little beaks sticking up from the nest. by then it was getting dark and there wasn’t enough light to take pictures. you were right; she was sitting on another clutch of eggs (how many?? i dunno)

 the next day i went out to take some garden photos and she set up a big fuss.

a few feet from the porch step, i saw this in the flower bed. i went over to look again, but saw nothing really new, just mama standing guard. but definitely NOT nesting.

i still hadn’t seen the beaks again, but i was hopeful that some time during the day, i would.  finally, when the mailman knocked on the door, i got a better sighting of some movement.

i ran for the camera and when i got back a little birdie was straining up out of the nest for food. there seemed to be just one baby, but i didn’t stay long so i can’t be sure how many.

i posted a youTube video of this little guy’s movements for a minute or so—i love how he seems to just drop off to sleep in the middle, just like a new human baby. i’m so relieved that mama’s “ailment” was just an imminent brood of chicks. phew!

those variegated lace caps hydrangeas are blooming—they were so green just a day before and now they are showing the prettiest purple color.

i have finally had a chance to get some work done in the vegetable garden too—which was long overdue for thinning, weeding, and mulching.

saturday and sunday i spent a great deal of time out there thinning carrots, greens, beets, and radishes, then got started on the weeding. i wanted to get that done before we put the mulch down.

everything is growing so well—i can’t get over how successfully it all has germinated and taken off, especially considering the dryness (the grass fares much worse, i’m afraid, since we don’t water that).

after years of amending and working it, the dirt is finally feeling lovely out in the vegetable patch. when i dig into it, it’s much softer, darker, and silkier than it used to be and obviously, the plants are loving it.

the carrots and radishes got a thorough thinning, while the smaller greens just got a preliminary one for now; once i see which of the remainders is the strongest, i’ll pull the ones in between.

the tomatoes, which sat there doing nothing for a couple weeks after transplanting have suddenly started growing—and fast. they re visibly taller and bushier each day. i gave them their first pruning on saturday and they’ll get another early next week once i’m home home from TNNA.

we have a nice-sized pepper on the vine and more coming already; the eggplant looks very healthy as well, better than i’ve ever seen it. and dare i say it?? even the squash plants look amazing.  if it all stays like this, we will probably be overrun with produce this summer.

i gathered all the beet and chard thinnings into my basket, which amounted to a very nice pile of baby greens. we ate those in omelets this evening for dinner with leftover roasted rosemary potatoes, mmm.

and many of the radish thinnings were large enough to eat, although they are SO spicy they make my eyes water, very peppery. i’m not sure i like them so hot . . .

last night i got some major weeding done while david started laying down mulch. we worked furiously until dark, so i never got pictures and today i was so involved in working on a pattern that i forgot. but it’s looking really nice out there; it just needs a little more attention when i get home.

my beautiful crimson hydrangea is also in bloom—this guy sat around for years, just barely hanging in there and never bloomed. but now that we re-landscaped that area, it’s a lot happier. while we have just the one bloom for now, it is the biggest i’ve ever seen on this shrub, so i’m hopeful that in the future, we’ll see more (the rest of the shrub seems to have doubled in size).

now this pink flower is a little hint of what you’ll see when you visit tomorrow . . . can you guess what it might be?

and now back to my knitting

Posted on 17 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

when i last left off, i was contemplating this skein of briar rose stella merino/silk, which chris handed off to me at wooster, so i could design and knit a crescent shawl. the idea was to create something like our may club piece, wandering thyme, but of course, different.

i already had a short list compiled of things i would do differently in my next crescent design—mostly the kinds of things that are invisible and only of concern to me as a garment engineer, haha. but i also had to decide on the element that would be very visible and probably of more interest to others—the stitch pattern(s) and textures i’d incorporate.

i have several concerns here—first and foremost, i know i’m looking for something dramatic and gutsy. where wandering thyme is oh-so-delicate, linear, and airy, i wanted this one to be more earthy, curvy, and lusty; something that will match this colorway in scale.

so i’m thinking a larger motif too, because with such a wide, wide hem, this is a good opportunity to use one that won’t fit well into other constructions and won’t get lost. i found several that appealed to me and satisfied both of those goals, however i had a third goal i wanted to meet, which was that i wanted the pattern to be fairly easy to execute and keep count of, with no tricky maneuvers. the reason is, i want my friend chris (who is very new to lace knitting) to actually knit this piece! and i know she won’t do it if she thinks it’s going to be difficult.

this could even be a piece around which i could structure a beginning shawl project class—maybe we’ll even pattern it for both fingering and lace weight, to meet that goal.

anyway, i thought about all those targets while grazing through my stitch pattern books and did a bunch of swatches, most of which turned out nice. but this crazy thing kept happening—my mind’s eye kept coming back to a motif i used in a previous design which i’ve never felt i was done with.

this alternating vine pattern, which i used in my twinings stole design, has always tugged at me for more airtime. while i love how the stole makes use of the pattern’s dramatic vertical drop the contrast of its solid and sheer parts, i’ve always wanted to do something with it that makes better use of its quirky, ginkgo-shaped bottom edge and the sexy side-to-side sashay of it’s leaves.

normally, i try to offer shawl patterns in two formats, rectangle and triangle, so that those who like one or the other will have options. i don’t know why, but i never designed a mate for twinings. and now—all these years later—i think i’ve got the perfect canvas on which to bring all the right factors together for it. with far less depth to pull the eye upward, the shallow hem of a crescent shawl is a great place to feature this pattern in horizontal orientation, as tangle of curves and limbs.

by this time i was completely smitten with the idea, so i did a few quick calculations and cast on the other night. i even got through the setup row despite a couple of mistakes (haha, i’m starting to think that row should really be called the setback row).

i even got another row or two done so that now, i’ve got that little bit of fabric on the needle that makes all the difference.

usually when i cast on, i do a little more planning ahead of time, so that i’m pretty sure of what the complete design will be when i set off on knitting. and while i initially thought i’d just go with a similar construction to wandering thyme, i’m now thinking that maybe i’ll do a stockinette-based fabric for the top half. that’s all just conjecture at the moment, though.

i’ll work on this through the week, but i won’t be taking it to columbus this weekend—while there will be ample opportunity to knit in the evenings while visiting with colleagues, hotels are notoriously dark and i doubt this will be a good project for that lighting.

besides, i have plenty else i can take along to work on there.

first, i have my faithful cotton mitt project, which i keep in my purse to knit on whenever i have to wait a bit here and there. and as you can see, by doing this it actually does grow. i’m using ecobutterfly organic pakucho cotton lace yarn in colorway deep green. it’s now far enough along that i’ve separated the thumb form the hand and i can try it on—it feel heavenly. and once they are blocked, they will look as lovely as they feel.

i’m very VERY much looking forward to meeting stephanie and steve, the owners of ecobutterfly organics at TNNA; their booth will be one of our first stops.

i’m definitely taking along my caïssa sweater—which will be a great project to work on while visiting (big needles, relaxed fabric; i barely have to look at it). that is, it will be if i don’t finish it before i leave.

can you believe it, i’m done with that first sleeve already—i couldn’t be more surprised. i honestly don’t think i’ve spent all that much time on it but there you have it. (sorry, i just noticed that i photographed it wrong side out, oops).

i do remember now that the front pieces also went very quickly; it’s just that back piece that was rather large and slow going (and really, not all that bad; i make too much of it). anyhow the sleeve got added to my pile of finished pieces and without even missing a beat, i moved right on to start the second sleeve.

there’s nothing like a taste of the finish line the whet my appetite for an FO.

i’ll be sad to stop knitting with this holda yarn though—i have enjoyed every single stitch of it, from the hand to the color—purple haze—to the finished fabric. BTW, i’m knitting what will most likely be the medium size (which measures 45 inches around—remember, it’s a bathrobe sweater) and have used almost all of six skeins. sorry, i don’t have more exact information that that about the yardage, but hopefully you’ll find it helpful. the way i figured what i’d need was to get twenty percent more than i’d need for a regular sweater. that worked out perfectly for me, but your mileage could vary.

i sure hope i have enough leftovers to make myself a fartlek or slöfock—this really is the best hat color for me, i think.

ok, now, i promised myself i would work on two patterns today and if i’m going to meet that goal, i’d better skedaddle
(haha, am i the only one who can’t say that word any more without thinking of jeanette walls and the glass castle?).

A Little Gush Fest

Posted on 10 CommentsPosted in projects

Not only does Anne have amazing clubs to offer, she has ravelry clubhouses to support them separate from her #1 knitspot fan group. There is one for Bare Naked and Fall In Full Color. Instead of me telling you all how great the clubhouses are, I’m letting the members testimonies speak for themselves. Plus, I thought a little love about the club itself wouldn’t hurt! Maybe it will entice you to join us!

From moderator kimkimkim:

The Fall in Full Color club and the Bare Naked Club have the best people on Ravelry.  I know, a lot of people probably say that about their groups, but seriously!!  I’m telling the truth.  I love being a co-moderator with Kat for these two clubs.  We are “in charge” of the Ravelry Clubhouse where we discuss everything to do with the pattern and yarns that Anne chooses, as well as everything else. Reading the latest posts in the Ravelry FIFC and BNK groups is my ‘morning cuppa’ each day, and my ‘nightcap’ in the evening.  I have made so many friends!  I tell my kids “all my friends live in the computer!”  And it’s true!  I consider the clubbies some of my closest buddies!  I’ve “met” some wonderful people!  That’s the thing about the Clubhouse. . . it’s full of up-beat, positive people.  We’ve got enough snark in the world – we don’t need any in our clubhouse, and everyone ‘gets it.’  The Clubhouse is a safe place.  Everyone is FUN, and supportive and caring.  We’ve had some sad things among our members – deaths of spouses and parents, sickness, accidents, etc.  Everyone gathers around in a supportive circle of love.  That may sound sappy, but it’s true!! When your’e a FIFC club member, or a BNK clubbie, you’ve got a circle of instant friends and support.

So what do we talk about in the clubhouse?  Everything!  Right now we’re talking about everything from the projects and yarns, to the extra goodies Anne sends with each shipment, even the extra patterns she sometimes sends out as a surprise, as well as cyber cabana boys who we want to serve us drinks while we knit, and chocolate, and buying yarn, weather, vacations, kids, spouses, and a million other things.  It’s a real community.  At the beginning of each month, Kat and I put together a “spoiler thread,” and a “non-spoiler thread.”  So, people who want to be surprised on their shipments can stay surprised (like me!), and people who can’t STAND to not know (like Kat), can have a place to discuss the yarn and look at pictures as soon as the first shipments start arriving. The clubhouse is where you go if you need support finishing your project, or if you have questions about things.  We also organize fun swaps.  We do low-key, easy-going swaps for people who want to swap a skein and a ‘goodie.’  Helen from the UK puts her teacher skills to work and organizes us into partners.  We have such fun getting to know each other!  We also have some fun contests and prizes.

The gorgeous girls in my Knitspot posse have become my first stop in the morning with my latte. I check in to say hi & catch up on the news. I am coming to Rhinebeck this year & will get to meet some of these lovely ladies in real life!!

FIFC 2011 was my very first yarn club. Hazeline was a project of “firsts” – first circular needle project, first project with markers, first project with more than 100 stitches on the needle…

I adored the club so much I gifted my Mummy a FIFC 2012 membership for Mother’s Day this year. We will be doing this together. So lovely to look forward to!

From techmuse:

FIFC 2011 was my first yarn club ever–I was a little intimidated by the entire thing but bit the bullet and haven’t looked back since.

Every month has been fabulous. Anne has introduced me to colors and fibers that I would never have bought on my own (hazeline, for example, is the first shawl I ever completed–in a color I never would have bought–and I LOVE it). I even wore it to Rhinebeck last year and gots lots of compliments on it.

Every month brings a new yarn, something that I would never have bought on my own–and that I discover I need additional skeins of–in a variety of colors, because it’s so perfect. I finished 4 out of the 6 projects and am working on number 6 right now. I’ve never knit with handspun before–and it’s another wonderful FIFC experience.

The projects were just right for busy knitters. The early projects were big projects and, as the holidays got closer, the project included quick knits–for quick giving.

From guapakw:

My journey in BNK led me to knit my first pair of socks. I was so terrified of turning a heel and I did not think I could do it. Thanks to Anne’s awesome pattern and the encouragement from the very special forum on Ravelry, I did it!

From moderator KatJ:

My friends also live in the computer and through Anne’s clubs I have met so many wonderful, caring, and supportive knitters.  The clubhouse is my stress relief each day.  It’s my safe haven.  I don’t get this anywhere else.  I know people will understand and care.  And that’s huge in the kind of world in which we live today.

I’ve belonged to other clubs and have never had the connections that I get through Anne’s clubs.  Kim and I are all about having a good time.  We try to make sure the clubbies are enjoying themselves.  We don’t mind making fun of ourselves or letting our silly side show.  But when a clubbie needs us, or the group, we are there for them.  It’s obvious that this is a special club.  A club where people matter to us.  Not just a here’s your yarn and your pattern and have at it.  We’ll see you next shipment.  No, we’re there every day.  We talk about our projects, our families, recipes, our interests.  We manage to enable each other from time to time with our yarn stashes and acquisitions.  We worry when a clubbie goes MIA.  We will track them down and find out what’s up.

Kim and I read each and every message in the clubhouses.  The clubs are important to us.  The clubbies are really important to us.  We value each and every member.  And we thank Anne for the privilege of letting us moderate and be a part of the KS family.


I hope this gives you a feel about how Anne has “a club like no other.” And the best members on the planet! In the words of kimkimkim, “When you sign up for FIFC, you’re not just getting exclusively dyed yarn and an exclusive Anne Hanson pattern, you’re also getting a few hundred friends who will make your day!”

To become an FIFC member, click here.