see anne run. run anne, run.

Posted on 21 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls, projects

remembered sentences from my first grade reading primer, which featured a brother/sister duo with the eerily prescient names, ann and david; their dog was zip, also the name of our family dog. little did i dream i’d grow up to run, run, run as the book says.

anyway, back to the present, i ran in my first spring event yesterday, during the only hour of the day when it was actually dry here. we woke up to a cold, drizzly sunday after the most gorgeous of saturdays, but i was determined to do it, rain or shine—gotta get used to it, right? and it was just a 5K—i can stand any weather for three miles.

that said, i was immensely cheered when mister knitspot roused himself to come along and play photographer; having company along turned a chilly, gray afternoon into a chilly, fun one.

thank goodness i wore the long tights, vest, and earband; i almost left the house in just knee pants and a long sleeved shirt. and thank goodness we got started on time; it was getting colder by the minute out there. and yes, that guy in the plaid shirt DID run barefoot the whole way. he won his age class, too.

after i ran by, mister knitspot moved around back to the finish line to wait for me and take more pictures (it’s nice having a photographer along!).

the first male finisher arrives—wow.

the first female finisher arrives—again, wow.

and some minutes later . . .

the first knitspot finisher arrives—WOO-hoo!

i even won another prize—this time i placed third in my age class, but i bet i won’t place as well when i run events in nicer weather, with more competition, haha. still, not too bad at all; i beat my own 5K time by 90 seconds and i’m thrilled with that.

haha, as we walked out i mentioned to david that last year at this time, i was run/walking, just barely able to run a whole mile without stopping and i didn’t run three full miles continuously until the end of july. but since then, i’ve seen steady improvement; it’s pretty cool, once it takes.

one more shirt and some other goodies to send to amad.

this coming saturday i run my first 10K event; i’m hoping to run as well in the race as i do in training. i’ve been feeling really good during my six-mile runs lately; it’s a very comfortable distance for me, long enough to get entirely loosened up (unfortunately, that takes about twenty minutes for me), short enough to take full advantage of every inch of good energy—i actually end up with better average time per mile over this longer run than in the 5K.

i was freezing by the time we got back to the car, so when we got home i stretched out and jumped into a hot shower as fast as i could. then i got right to work on a spicy thai curry for dinner—just the ticket to recover and warm up.

mostly this involves a whole bunch of chopping and then fast, fast, stir frying so that everything cooks to an exact crisp/tender doneness. i was really glad to get off my feet to knit for a bit, while david wahed the dishes.

my sculling cowl/infinity scarf is nearly done—i’m working to the end of my skein just to see how far it will go.

now that i can lay the fabric flat, you can hopefully see why i’m calling it sculling—it looks like a crew race to me.

the pattern for this is all done and dusted; it just needs a nice modeling photo to go with it. hopefully, i’ll finish the knitting tonight and block it tomorrow; maybe get one of our helpers to model it for a friday release.

i have quite a pile of blocking to attend to actually; i would love to make that a priority for this week. i also have a bunch of pattens to write up but a knitter needs some variety to stay fresh, right? and some of these things i could be wearing if only they were done.

like this gorgeous sticks and stone cardigan sample that karolyn knit up in woolen rabbit sporty, colorway olive tweed. she sent all the knitted pieces a couple of weeks back and they were here when i got home from one of my trips. but things have been such a whirlwind lately that i still haven’t blocked and stitched them together. shame on me—i could be cuddled up in this sweater right now (it’s still gray and chilly today)!

i do want to get a couple of things off the needles as well—budgeting a shrinking amount of knitting time is a constant challenge.

and then there is this deliciously cuddly gnarled oakwoods sample knit up for us by phoebe in our romney/merino special DK, which will be our next knitspot yarn offering. i’m almost sure it was blocked already, but it got a bit rumpled in the mailing, so i thought i’d give it a little going over. this was knit from some of our first sample batch, which went on to get some tweaking in a second sample batch.

the yarn is a little overspun, so not the best for stockinette projects, but performs excellently in a lace pattern like this one, which has aggressive push and pull in both directions (helps to stabilize the fabric so it doesn’t bias). its beautiful sheen accents the directional changes in the fabric creating a shaded patina effect on the leaves—simply luminous.

and my personal favorite part of this design really stands out here; the transition between motifs where the leaves appear to dissolve into vines—it’s so organic and interesting, like something gone wild.

we have a small number of these skeins (maybe forty?) that we are going to offer in kits with a version of the pattern that is modified to suit the gauge of this yarn (mostly to make less repeats). look for those very soon.

and then we have our second test batch, which is the one we’re basing our production on—i showed you some samples from that a while back; anne marie is knitting a bloch ness test sample in it. these both will be up for sale soon in our online shop.

and here’s something we haven’t seen for a little while—yarn with some color in it, haha. this is a batch of sea pearl from briar rose that chris gave me back in october, which i’ve been dreaming on ever since. it is so the perfect blue for me—kind of an iris blue, wouldn’t you say? one of those darker grayish ones?

i was supposed to knit another india print henley with it. india print has turned out to be one of my favorite sweaters—it’s mid-weight fabric and pretty openwork, combined with just-right raglan shaping (not at all baggy) and soft fiber blend make it one that i go to again and again, especially for traveling. my second favorite lately is probably my blümchen, knit in sea pearl. it’s so easy care yet dressy looking; i wear it often (i have it on right now, in fact).

so it was natural that i thought of knitting the henley again in sea pearl. but then i got thinking (and this is why i haven’t started yet); i already have two india print henleys—why knit a third copy of an existing sweater when i could design a new one with the same outlines?

the project has been on my agenda for the better part of the winter, even though i know exactly what i want. i’m not reinventing the wheel—i want the same sweater with different patterns and this time, a full cardigan, not a henley.

i even have the main stitch pattern picked out from a swatch i did about two years ago when i was preparing to knit blümchen that i’ve never gotten out of my mind. i love the subtle texture of this fabric with its linear pattern; i know just what i want to do with it. lovely, right? all i need to get started is to draw up a couple of charts. why haven’t i done it then?

well, i keep telling myself i have to finish what’s on my plate first and right there is the sticking point. i’m just never done. but i think this time i’ll wind up the yarn. i have a little time at home now and if i get the charts done by the end of the week, i can start over the weekend and go at my own pace. this project may even travel well in its early stages.

maybe spring fever is just the catalyst i need to get going on it—a little misappropriation of time in the name of startitis may not be the worst thing i could do with my time this week.

today we have knitting class in just a little while, so this morning i went out into the rain drenched yard to pick a beautiful bouquet form david’s flower beds. we have some really stunning daffodil varieties this year and a range of new tulips. that was my request in the fall—to get some fresh colors (we had a lot of the same dark purple and red tulips with white daffodils). now we have a great range of colors and finally they are all blooming.

our apple tree is budding out and starting to bloom, too—i caught it just at the right moment,when the buds are cracking open. last year it didn’t really bloom, probably due to late-hitting frost; i think we had just a few flowers. so i’m excited that there is a nice number of blooms dispersed over the whole tree.

sigh, it’s going to be pretty this time . . . .

tidal sands

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in patterns

spring is here and with it, that changeability that only she can orchestrate in the weather—one minute we are bathing our faces in fresh breezes and balmy sun and the next thing we know, the breeze has turned to wind that bites with the last of winter’s chill.

we want to stick with her to discover the gifts she is to reveal, but wow, the going can be unpredictable at best.

thankfully we knit and are armed for anything she throws at us.

take this wonderfully versatile infinity scarf—knit entirely in the round in an easy-peasy stitch pattern.

it’s a cinch to memorize, completely reversible, and sized so that you can wind it around once, twice, or thrice—perfect for changeable spring days.

one skein of a special luxury blend—i used our breakfast blend fingering for mine—and a few evenings of TV knitting will get you an accessory you won’t leave home without.

and don’t forget that mother’s day is just around the corner; this gift will melt your mama’s (or MIL’s) heart.

shown here, size medium in bare naked wools breakfast blend fingering, a comfy merino/alpaca/nylon blend, in colorway oatmeal.

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

doesn’t helena wear it well? she’s such a great sport for modeling so often, thank you helena!





i brake for flowers

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in food and garden, projects

our flowers and trees here at home have been quite slow coming into bloom this year—which is probably good, since the blossoms last a little longer when it’s cool. last year, everything came and went in a big bang, with hardly time to enjoy it.

getting out and about on my bike over the last few weeks, i’ve been monitoring the budding out process of my favorite neighborhood speciman tree—a gorgeous cherry that spreads out wide to create a feature in its corner spot. last thursday, it had a few reluctant flowers open to test the air and as i drove off friday morning to PA, i wondered if i’d miss its peak bloom this year.

then when the weekend turned out so frosty, i feared it would lose all its flowers and buds to the cold, so i was anxious on monday morning to see what shape it was in.

wow—not bad, eh? it was a day of stellar weather as i set out on my bike and i caught the tree in what can only be described as the absolute peak of perfection—every single flower was wide open and yet, not a petal to be seen on the ground.

by the next day when i ran under it, they were coming down in showers.

our own apple tree is finally showing some leaf action; i hope it blooms nicely this year; last year we had just a few flowers, though we did have more apples than ever.

but listen, before i go any further, someone whispered a message in my ear that she wants me to pass on to you

my friend katherine delores would like to thank those of you who visited her blog the other day and hopes that you—and any favorite pets you know—will continue to do so.

darlings, she’s got loads of deLICiousness to share . . . so please stay tuned; you never know when chocolate cake will appear.
(and also, she excuses herself for being caught on camera in such a frightfully undone state, but there you have it—the paparazzi are absolutely relentless when it comes to celebrities)

and now back to nature . . .

yes, we’ve had some beautiful days in the last week, filled with that emollient spring light—the kind you feel you could hold in your hands.

everything is the yard is coming to life—daffodils and jonquils popping up all over

hyacinth spread across the lawn in a carpet—david’s springtime orchestration of bulbs is coming to a crescendo this week.

here’s a new daffodil  that i’m calling “fancy pants”

and the first tulips of the year are making their appearance. hundreds more are due to open one color after another in a rollout that should go on for another week or two.

just the other day i finally found some hosta nubs coming up, about an inch or so high. no may apple yet, but the solomon’s seal is poking out too

so tiny yet it could easily be missed, except i am so desperate to find any signs of life out there, that i end up checking daily.

the very first few lily of the valley sprang as well—the ones nearest the foundation where it’s a little warmer.

and my climbing hydrangea is leafing out—it’s going to be wonderfully bushy this year.

but i think one of my favorite spring sights this week is this

swiss chard coming back from last year. and not just one, either

nearly the whole patch is making a comeback. after the awfully hot and dry summer we had last year—most unfriendly for greens—this cool, rainy spring is just what they love.

i know they won’t last and they may not even get much past the height they are now, but i’m still thrilled to see them. i’ll be happy if we get a few fresh leaves for an omelet out of it.

parsnip tops are greening up too, which kris told me is the sign to get them out of the ground—once they start growing, they turn to wood at the core.

last friday when i was packing to go away, i noticed a robin madly working to refresh the nest that has become a fixture near the ceiling of our front porch—used for three or four years running now.

i first noticed her from the kitchen window, poking around in the garden, selecting choice pieces of straw and longer grasses and guessed what she was up to. when i ran around to peek out the washroom window that looks onto the porch, sure enough she was swooping in to add them to that nest, though she moved too quickly to get a picture.

haha, when i got home on sunday, the nest was another level higher (which totally cracks me up).

and by tuesday, she was sitting in her tower, keeping something warm, but it’s too high to see how many. usually the first clutch is three or four. so i guess we should look for a hatching then in about two or two and a half weeks time?

while i was out for that long bike ride on monday, i took the route that goes past the swan ponds to see what was up over there; i like to report swan progress to my nephew amad in las vegas when i write him. isn’t that willow tree pretty with its new bright green leaf sprouts?

on one side of the road, the black swans are, as usual, standing at the ready to be as unfriendly as possible to whomever takes an interest in their pond.

while on the other side, the white swans are too busy getting their nest ready to threaten just anyone—yet. when they have babies, that will change.

i went to the water’s edge to get a closer look, disturbing what seemed like dozens of turtles, who went hurtling into the water for a getaway with some pretty entertaining diving and swimming moves.

well then the swans took interest and swam over, to see what the racket was all about.

they don’t have babies quite yet so they are still showing off, hoping to get a bit of bread out of it when visitors come to the pond.

they careened back and forth in front of me, but i had nothing to offer; i got back on my bike and headed home to get ready for class.

it’s still crazy weather here though. that day was a gorgeous nearly seventy degrees and tuesday was even warmer; i wore a sleeveless running top and got some color. but then yesterday temperatures plunged to the low 40s and this morning there is a heavy layer of frost and i don’t think it’s much higher that 32 right now. crazy pants, right?

i have a new pattern to release tomorrow, for the infinity scarf i showed you the other day—the perfect thing for these wild swings in the weather. in our breakfast blend fingering yarn, it’s soft and cozy when doubled; light and airy when loosened.

once it was blocked, i decided to change the name because the texture made it look much more like beach sand than fluff.

so now it is tidal sands. we did a nice photo shoot the other day and it’s all set to go—look for that tomorrow morning.

we are madly working away on replacing our supplies of breakfast blend yarns; artisan yarns take some time to make and we are testing some new colors as well. i promise, it will be worth the wait!

ok then, time for me to start my work day; back tomorrow with that pattern.

highways and byways: lovely ligonier

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls, projects, spinning and fiber

this weekend past, i had the good fortune to teach in ligonier, a charming historic town in the mountains of pennsylvania.

i was hosted at the spring fling retreat by kathy’s kreations, a shop that’s been in business for a very long time, thanks to the work of its brilliant owner, designer kathy zimmerman. i love kathy’s work, especially her sweater designs. they often catch my eye and stop me from turning pages in the many popular magazines featuring her work.

there she is on the left; she actually took my class!

i arrived on friday in the pouring rain and was instantly welcomed to the gathering around the knitting table at the back of the shop.

i got quite a bit done on my sculling cowl while we all chatted around the table. for supper, we had a delicious buffet of soups and finger foods AND sweets before heading over to the hotel where the workshop events were to take place.

we opened the weekend with a trunk show and talk by yours truly; i talked about my career and design work and showed a selection of samples from our archives, including mini collections of club knits and bare naked wools samples.

i was so busy running on and on about myself that i forgot to take pictures, oy.

but the next day, i came armed and dangerous. the classes revolved around chart reading and lace knitting, with a beginning lace class and a shawl project that extended over two days—plenty of time to get a new project started and the harder parts organized before taking it home to complete.

i promise these women are having a lot more fun than it appears in this photo . . .

i worked on my cowl some more and also on a secret project that they got to see and you didn’t.

no worries; it’s not going to be secret much longer and very soon you’ll get to see it, too.

saturday was our long day, and while we did some excellent work, by the end i think everyone was glad to leave the room, walk away from their lace knitting for a nice stretch, and head for dinner in town. we had a yummy meal that evening with no room afterward to visit the ligonier creamery, so we put that on our priority list for the next afternoon.

sunday dawned frosty and cold—boy was i glad i’d run back into my house to grab my gloves before i headed here. it was smart enough to pack some long tights as well and several shirts, so i was in good shape for an early run and looking forward to getting outside.

the sunrise was breathtaking in the park at the lower end of town, with frost lying everywhere. in addition to the cherry trees i showed earlier today, the pears and magnolias were also in full bloom and many other trees beginning to bud out.

of course, after the freezing temps of saturday night, many of them had browned by midday.

sugar-frosted tulips with bowed heads could also be seen, but i’m thinking these hardy flowers survived ok, along with the daffodils.

up and down every street i ran, sometimes more than once. i checked out fort ligonier from the outside and even though i couldn’t get not the grounds, i managed to get a few pictures through the chain link fence.

it took a good long while to warm up, but once i did, the running was excellent—my best times per mile this spring. i could have stayed out another hour, but i needed to head back and get ready for class.

as i ran back through the town square, the sun was just popping up over the courthouse roof. i love that the square has a big birdhouse, haha.

sunday class was a continuation of saturday’s project class—everyone is knitting les abeilles together, which is a terrific choice for a first-time triangle shawl. since it’s worked from bottom to top, it’s a little easier to see its architecture right away. the caston and hem rows are long, but before you know it, the rows get noticeably shorter and the rest whizzes by in a flash. i’ve knit half a dozen of these little gems; it’s my favorite go-to gift project.

anyway, we finished the morning off with a short blocking demonstration so that once their shawls were done, students could give them that final polish that transforms the piece into a true beauty.

after lunch we headed to kathy’s shop for a last bit of shopping, which was when i discovered that she carries lo lo bars. i am in perpetual need of hand lotion and cuticle moisturizer, so i stocked up.

kathy’s shop is large and full—she’s been in this location for a number of years, building a loyal clientele and a wonderful stock of knitterly goodies.

samples abound of shop favorites as well as kathy’s own designs

it was nice to see a full book section as well; so many shops don’t stock books any more . . .

every nook and cranny held a discovery; it would take days for me to see everything in the store, i think!

soon it was time for me to go—i was missing david and looking forward to getting home. after spending eight of the last eleven days away, i was ready. i’ll be home now for about four weeks straight and it sounds like heaven.

the night before i left, i ran out of yarn while binding off my bit o fluff cowl sample, so the first thing i did last night was to wind some yarn and finish that. this morning i put it on to soak while i went through my email boxes.

it’s been laid out to dry since mid-morning, but it’s going kind of slow—alpaca does not dry very quickly. people often ask how i would block something like this and here you see—i don’t really do much to it except lay it flat and straight the edges well.

then i turn and reshape very frequently, to prevent creasing and encourage the fiber to  bloom and regain its loft. i stretch and reshape several times at each turning; this works incredibly well for bringing that sparkling life back to the fiber and evening out the stitches. when seen in person, it produces a magnificent transformation in the appearance of the fabric surface.

seeing as it was a gorgeous spring day here, i stopped work at noon to take my bike out for a spin to shake off the cobwebs and get some exercise. more on that adventure tomorrow.

when i got back it was time for class. anne c arrived with the stonewall wrap sample she is knitting for us from our sample batch of chèvre mohair/merino blend.

boy oh boy, is she ever enjoying knitting with this yarn. and it’s a great pairing with this project, moving along very rapidly on a size 8 or 9 needle.

the texture is deLISH, isn’t it? and the fiber really glows. that’s the prize-winning NYS mohair at work; it fairly sparkles in the light, i swear.

must try to get david to list this yarn in the store so we can begin selling it.

i also have a brand new gnarled oakwoods sample in from our friend phoebe using our romney/merino DK and some new breakfast blend samples that i’m swatching as well.

many of you have asked why the breakfast blend is taking so long to restock; we’re having to change mills with that yarn so we are working very carefully to replicate it as closely as possible. so far, so good—i promise it will be worth the wait.

more on all of that next time—i must go now and get me some knitting done!

but if you are still looking for some reading entertainment, you’ll love looking at a new blog, tea and biscuits with k.d., written by my dear friend (and yours), katherine delores mcbride. it’s a must-see, highly recommended by helena.