Sky Ladder

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in patterns, yarn and dyeing

ah, Sky Ladder, the pattern that everyone flipped over in Bare Naked Knitspot 2012. Why? Well who couldn’t fall for this little baby wrapped in a natural colored handknit! But truly, I think it’s because the pattern had options for everyone.

It’s a scarf

a wrap

a baby blanket

and yes, a throw. Clubbies that were double dippers like knittingfiona (see her ravelry project page) took advantage of the extra yarn and made something for the home. Once we were all out of yarn, clubbies flocked to Mountain Meadow Wool’s site to buy more Cody.  The yarn’s bounce and spring paired with Anne’s design made everyone fall in love at first stitch. Including my mom, if you remember, who knit the whole suite for Baby Knitspot’s christening (see her ravelry project page here).

In Chinese mythology, the sky ladder connects heaven and earth, enabling gods and humans to travel between the two. The “ladder” may take the form of a high mountain, mythical tree, tower, rainbow, or cobweb. Appropriately, this project is a squooshy piece of heaven to knit in a variety of shapes for lightweight warmth on chilly spring days. Natural yarn colors will enhance the finer details in the cable and lace textures throughout, while richly-dyed colorways will bring their openwork and depth into focus. With all shapes knit in one piece, the repeating motifs are surprisingly easy to work on larger needles, making for a relaxing and satisfying project to snuggle up with on winter evenings.

Since the pattern release in February 2012, everyone kept messaging us wanting the pattern. The wait is over. The pattern is now available in the knitspot pattern shop here and on ravelry here.

And…there’s something even more special this time around. With Sky Ladder‘s release, we announce the next artisan yarn of Bare Naked Wools. I am delighted to introduce you to Stone Soup DK

a subtly heathered 2-ply blend of rambouillet, columbia, lincoln, navajo-churro, alpaca, silk, bamboo, tencel, bison, and lama, with a slightly bumpy tweed look. Isn’t it cool how you can see all the different fibers working together?

With 300 yards in 115 grams, it knits up beautifully on a US 4 – 9 with 18 to 22 sts per 4 inches.

This yarn is the brainchild of Mountain Meadow Wool. It’s a collection of perfect, fine fibers leftover from the last year of spinning at the mill. It was introduced to Anne and me at TNNA last June and we both said in unison, “we’ll take it. All of it.” We bought every pound they had and had them spin it into fingering weight for this month’s BNK 2013 club pattern and the rest in DK, first for club members, and now for all of you.

As soon as Anne saw the pile of hundreds of skeins in the colorway Pumice, a beautiful grey-brown, in the middle of her living room she said, “I think we should call it Stone Soup. You know, like the book.” I couldn’t have agreed more. The name is perfect on so many levels.

When the DK arrived, we knew we had to get some samples knit to show all of you how gorgeous it is. Anne wanted Sky Ladder knit right away and we both laughed about how Sky Ladder Queen should knit it. We called my mom and she was thrilled to knit a new secret yarn in her favorite pattern. And when all of us were at the DIA a couple weeks ago, Anne took some great shots of Sky Ladder in Stone Soup DK.

Doesn’t this yarn look amazingly cuddly? Well, it is. The entire time my mom was knitting it she couldn’t help but text me every day and tell me how much she loved it. Padraig couldn’t help but pet it as soon as we gave it to him.

Of course my mom knit the hat (Sky Cap to be released next week) to match!

This color is so nice against the skin! It would be a gorgeous scarf or wrap. This yarn would also be perfect for Sticks and Stones, Highlander, Leaving, Inky Dinky, Cradle Me, Hourglass Throw, Oktober Zest, Slöfock, Creel, High Peaks, Hot Waffles, Lacunae, Paris-Roubaix

and René

which Cherie so kindly knit for Anne in a flash! Isn’t her stitch work beautiful?

She was so in love with the yarn that she is knitting it again for herself.

Our friend Barb has been knitting up a Sticks and Stones pullover, which Anne is busy sewing up. We’ll get a peek at that during the next week; I hear it’s really soft and comfy.

Stone Soup DK is available in the knitspot shop here and soon we will have Stone Soup Fingering available too. The clubbies ordered all the extra skeins we had, so we ordered more! Fresh supplies are arriving on tuesday; they should be up in the shop by the end of next week.

Not only that, but we’ll have test quantities of a second color on hand.

Make sure to join the Bare Naked Wools group on ravelry. It’s a great resource for pattern ideas and the little nudge you need to finish those WIPs. Sometimes we have contests too! I’m off to cast on Fartlek in a skein of Stone Soup DK gifted to me by Anne.

botanical knits

Posted on 287 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events

fellow knitwear designer alana dakos is in the process of publishing her third book, this one a collection of garments and accessories inspired by plant life, entitled botanical knits.

leaves, vines, berries, and branches twine over and travel across the surfaces of  twelve pretty pieces—four sweaters, fingerless mitts, hats, scarves, and socks.

the color palette featured within the book’s pages is autumnal, a composition in rich greens, rust, gold, and taupe—a look that is warm and comforting when the weather drops in the brisk zones it has been lately (right now, it’s much too cold for springtime where i live).

but if i squint my eyes, i can totally see these pieces working equally well in all natural colors, such as the palette in our collection of bare naked wools.

or for springtime, an array of garden colors like celery, apricot, wheat, and sky blue, knit in soft cotton or silk for more temperate weather.

with botanicals, you just need to choose a season and look around to find a set of alternate colors that would work.

everyone who loves leafy motifs will be pleased by the designs featured on these pages—from the simplest application to ones that get more elaborate, there is something for everyone.

deep texture, sheer openwork, eye-catching trims—sometimes a little and sometimes a lot; they are each interpreted in a way that makes you want to reach out and touch (i like that in a book, don’t you?).

alana is one of a whole wave of contemporary designers who is comfortable producing and promoting her own compilations. as with her earlier books, this one is self-published, which means you can purchase it directly from her (a nice win-win) in hardcopy or eBook format.

hardcopy may be preordered now and will begin shipping in mid may. for a limited time, early birds who pre-order the book will immediately receive a free eBook copy with their reservation (this bundle offer ends in may).

purchasing the bundle will also entitle buyers to a free additional garment pattern as a thank-you from the author. the eBook is available for purchase by itself, for those who prefer a green option that does not require expensive shipping.

preorders are a crucial component in the self-publishing equation; with some idea of how many knitters are interested in buying the book and what version, producers can make informed, cost effective decisions about how many copies to print. preorders also help fund the print run and initial promotion work, providing the author with income during these stages, as well as the ability to plan and budget the distribution of the work.

and if all that wasn’t enough, here’s some awesome sauce to go on top:

alana has offered a free eBook version of botanical knits to one lucky knitspot reader. leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm EDST on sunday, march 24th. we’ll draw a winner on monday or tuesday morning and let you know the results.

david and i will be on the road most of today (friday); when you next see us, we’ll be transmitting from upstate NY and have we got a weekend planned for you. not only a look at alana’s beautiful designs, but tomorrow the release of the next installment of bare naked wools—our new stone soup blend, in both fingering and DK weights, which would be lovely in a number of the patterns seen here.

so don’t wander too far—you don’t want to miss the excitement!

so close

Posted on 14 CommentsPosted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

heh, i’m not sure what happened but somehow my camera decided that all the photos today will be square instead of rectangular. we love variety, right?

so, i’m just about finished knitting this DK weight shawl in the morning smoke color (currently on backorder) of our breakfast blend DK, but i just couldn’t keep my eyes open last night to knit those final few rows (don’t you hate that??).

i’ve got slanting raindrops, i’ve got little buds, and now i’ve got hem welting in the works. after the third ridge, i think i’ll bind off. sadly, my second skein ran out just before that last ridge, so i had to break into a third skein.

this happens often to me—because i’m working from scratch and in pattern, i just never know the exact yardage i’m going to end up using. thankfully, i had a partial skein on hand to finish mine, but when i write up the pattern, i’ll cut back the upper portion of the shawl a little bit so that we can bring the project in with two skeins—at least for this size. a taller size would definitely require more.

anyway, it’s on my agenda to finish it up tonight and to work on the pattern later this week. we’ll be knitting one up in the fingering weight as well and the pattern will include instructions for both weights.

i’ve also been working pretty hard on secret club projects because i have a bunch of travel teaching coming up soon and i want to get ahead on the april and may chapters. this last release was a race to the finish that left me  breathless; i hate that it puts such a burden on everyone involved. i don’t want to be the bad, crazed boss.

here and there i put in a row or two on this pretty cowl. the openwork pattern is a little hard to see yet, but will become more evident as the piece gains volume. it’s just an abstract little horseshoe pattern that is worked inside out on alternating repeats. simple, but it makes the whole thing reversible.

i carry this piece along in my purse and add a row here and a row there. right now it’s going slowly, but i never know when one of its trips out is going to turn into a longer session where i add enough to see measurable progress. it will be good car knitting for our trip on friday.

this weekend we’re going to albany for a few days to visit my mom; david wants to set up her new computer and we’ll take a trip back to see mary jeanne at the battenkill fiber mill while we’re there. it’s maple sugar season in new york state and the sap is running well. several farms host pancake breakfasts to celebrate maple weekend and we are heading to mapleland farm, owned by mary jeanne and her husband, on sunday to partake. my mom and my aunt are coming along as well (you’ve met them in previous posts!).

many of you are familiar with mapleland products because they make that incredible maple sugar cotton candy you can buy at rhinebeck. yup, we are so looking forward to those pacakes . . .

so i have that blonde cowl to work on and then i also have this brunette one in a different stitch pattern. progress has been slow, but if i can get the patterns written up, our good friend candy is waiting with needles ready to knit samples we can use for the photos. which means we can put them in your hands faster.

speaking of samples, our pile of beautiful sample knits in bare naked wools yarns is growing with contributions from several generous knitters among us. the other day when i got home from detroit, two packages containing treasure were waiting.

the first was from judi, who sent a gorgeous peu bourgeons slouch hat in the burnt toast colorway, to go with the peu de pluie cowl i knit.

isn’t that gorgeous? and so perfect for these windy march days—i don’t know about where you live, but here, it’s really cold and the wind is howling. it’s been spitting snow flurries all day, too.

along with the lovely hat, judi also knit these drop-dead gorgeous wussypillow fingerless mitts in the longer length

which extend halfway to my elbow—again, the perfect foil for wind that wants to push its way up my sleeves.

these will look awesome with a jeans jacket or hoodie with the sleeves pushed up as well. heh; i think we might need the matching tam.

thank you judi for your beautiful knitting—your stitch work is so perfect. i wish everyone could have seen how lovingly each piece was packed and the pretty card that came with them. you are a dear friend to all of us.

i have more beautiful samples to show you, but i want to honor each knitter as a separate artist, so i’ll include the other new ones i have in future posts. it will take time, but like good chocolate, great knitting is better enjoyed in a leisurely fashion.

the fingering yarn is delightful to work with—it has enough heft and bounce to feel like the fabric builds quickly, yet it’s super soft. we are getting great feedback about its wearability for socks, BTW—knitters who received the yarn in last year’s club and knit the sock project offered have been writing and commenting that the fabric is hardwearing, cozy, and ranks among their family’s favorites.

i know that’s true for our house; david has put in a full season of wear now on his waffle creams and they look good.

ok, when i wrote that, i hadn’t checked them in a while and i thought “i better be sure before i go spouting off to everyone on the yarn quality”. so i went upstairs with my camera to root around in david’s top drawer. no need to go far, these socks were right on top, heh.

he’s been wearing and washing these weekly since our anniversary in november. the toe looks practically untouched—shocking to me since this is always where his socks give out first. they are not made from superwash wool, so he does them in the machine’s handwash cycle, then hangs them up to air dry.

there is some minimal pilling on the heels, but no thinning of the fabric—another vulnerable spot for david. the fabric feels substantial knit on size 2.25 mm needles. he says they feel cozy and warm, not at all scratchy—i think these are a real winner against our chilly floors.

speaking of not having enough time to knit—look what time it is, 5 pm already!! sigh, where does it go? i better scoot or i’ll never get a pattern out to candy. i’m sorry to make such a quick exit—how about i leave you with some dessert to ponder til next time?

i took a little time off yesterday morning to make a lemon meringue pie for my dear friend debby; we celebrated her birthday in class yesterday afternoon. i love this system—i bake something on class days and then we don’t end up eating the whole thing ourselves. there is just enough left for david and i to each have  serving tonight. yum.

Wearin’ O’ the Green

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in projects

To continue the year of “firsts,” this week was Baby Knitspot’s 1st St Pat’s. Well, since being out of the womb. If you remember last year’s post, he celebrated quite a bit! This is my favorite holiday and fortunately Matt’s too.

Anne was in town last week and we worked quite a bit together. But while she was teaching a class on Sunday, I snuck off with the fam to the Detroit St Patrick’s Day parade. It’s always the Sunday before the holiday and kicks off a great week of fun. The weather was spectacular and we couldn’t resist going.

We donned our festive gear, including Padraig in his DetroitGT “Irish Spirit Motown Soul” shirt.

I couldn’t resist dressing this kid up in the colors of the flag!

Matt and his excellent parking skills got us to the parade just before it started. We were even able to find our friends through the sea of thousands of spectators!

We fought the crowds for a bit and Padraig loved all the bright colors

and music but once the fire engine sirens started, that was it. Crocodile tears started pouring so we headed home. All that stimulation wore him out!

The rest of the week Matt and I daydreamed about my mom’s traditional feast. We couldn’t wait for the weekend fare of corned beef and cabbage. And, one again, she did not disappoint!

She set out a gorgeous buffet for a small group of family and friends

and we stuffed ourselves silly with these delectable plates.

This morning we rose to the smell of breakfast cooking.

Mom turned last  night’s heavenly dinner into corned beef hash, complete with rolls turned into toast. My favorite!

After breakfast, we spent the rest of the morning at O’Duffy’s visiting with old friends.

It was getting close to nap time, as you can see,

so we bid our farewells and headed back to Detroit to see Matt’s side of the family. On the road, I found our glove compartment was a very clever spot to hold knitting essentials.

As I knit my next Slöfock, in Breathless DK colorway Emerald Isle, Padraig rested for more of the day’s festivities.

Our last stop was Gaelic League

for live music, dancing, and lots of singing along to Irish favorites. Padraig loved watching all the little kids and their parents dance to the music!

It was a perfect weekend and now it’s time to rest up because it is going to be one busy week! I have to finish up my mitts for the BNW mitt KAL and get things in order to announce the next artisan yarn! Yes, you heard me right. Not a new color…but a whole new Bare Naked Wools yarn! I’m beside myself with excitement! Stay tuned, watch our ravelry groups for sneak peeks, and warm up your ordering finger because you will want to click and buy this new yarn. It’s pretty special…