back to work for me

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, projects

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well, it’s not like i wasn’t working, haha, but teaching away from home does excuse me from spending my usual long hours at my desk—i get to move about, knit a bit more, talk to people. once i get home though, i gotta be strict and double my efforts to get back on track.

my trip home was a nail biter—storms sunday night between texas and the midwest and then again on the east coast caused plane delays all over the country. fortunately my connections were delayed in sync with my flight out and i made it home without getting stuck, albeit very late.

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back in the office, we are cranked up to full gear on every front, between receiving some exciting new inventory (more on that later) and getting prepped for rhinebeck.

as you can see from the board, our rhinebeck after party (or “RAP” as sarah and erica like to call it) is our #1 priority this week, with a long list of items to be pulled together.

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the control desk is wo-manned by sarah, who is a genius at multitasking (haha, i just heard her come in the door downstairs with phone ringing).

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the “operations room” is sinking into disarray with little piles of garments and booth fixtures beginning to sprout everywhere.

we couldn’t be more excited about our first organized event! there are still spots left in a few of the classes too; click here and scroll down for more information about how to sign up.

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we’re bringing a huge trunk show with samples knit in all of our yarns—as well as all the yarns in every color; the better to squish and squeeze them, eh?

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if you are going to be staying on during the days following the NYS sheep and wool show, please stop by the kingston courtyard marriott to say hello, knit and party with us, and browse the barenaked wools pop-up shop (we’ll be bringing everything, don’t miss it!). everyone is welcome. it’s going to be a ton of fun; we have knitspot friends coming from all over the country and canada to attend.

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and if you are already signed up, but want to reserve or preorder the yarn you have your heart set on, please email davidATknitspotDOTcom (changing the AT and DOT to symbols) and he will get you set up. we’ll have it waiting for you at the after party.

speaking of the trunk show, i took this scrumptious photo this morning when i opened the suitcase from last weekend to look for my new hat.

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you know, i hate to play favorites and i usually hem and haw when anyone asks me which design or yarn i like best, but can i just say how much i adore our stone soup blend yarns? especially the fingering weight . . . it’s got a great little grip that is so reassuring.

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and look at that gorgeous body, with its soft curves and folds—it’s light as air when you pick it up, but it holds a beautiful tailored shape for lightweight sweaters and accessories. and yet, you can knit lace with it too—it’s completely versatile that way.

stone soup DK feels totally different in the hands as you knit—soft as aged felt, with larger bits of tweedy stuff to contemplate. it knits up speedily into a dense warm fabric for garments and accessories.

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but the real beauty of this blend comes out when you wash it—holy cow, what a fabric surface. buttery soft with a hand like grandpa’s favorite old sweater, totally lovable.

and the colors—wow. as a group—stunning; if you enjoy color work this is a knockout choice for a classic you’ll wear forever. but individually each color holds its own as well for a strong statement.

and hey! i want to thank clara parkes for writing up a very VERY nice article that appeared in knitters review yesterday about our full array of bare naked wools (yes, please go see—i’ll still be here when you return!). wow; we just couldn’t be more grateful and happy that she likes our yarn. i can’t wait to see her in person at rhinebeck where she will be signing and selling copies of her new book, the yarn whisperer. i’ve been holding off buying it online so that i could snag my very own signed copy.

anyway, back at my desk, i have jobs to do for next week too. i’m working on my club chapter and some new patterns, preparing for classes, and knitting up a storm.

before i left last week, i went on a finishing spree because sarah was asking for the status of things i’d been working on (here in the office, i’m just another drone with people to answer to).

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this stunning, cozy highlander sweater jacket that our friend cherie knit from stone soup DK in color granite needed some button love. i found the ones i wanted, but then the holes needed to be spaced a little closer together. so i took out three or four rows of the buttonhole band and reworked the buttonhole size and placement; now it’s perfect.

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the horn buttons are just the right color and tone for this yarn, which has a bluish cast, maybe from the churro fiber?

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buttoned up, my dress form fills it out a bit more than i do (because she’s more well-endowed than i) and i like it as much on her as i do on myself. i am totally wearing this to rhinebeck, maybe all weekend, haha—it is completely ME.

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maybe with this scotty cap in pumice stone soup; what do you think?

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or the soon-to-be-released goobalini cap in marble DK?

haha, actually, both of those are a bit big on me; i might have to knit a special size to fit my head . . . a good project to bring along to the party.

and what’s that green sweater i’m wearing for these antics?

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you won’t believe it, but i finally completed the seaming and button bands on this sticks and stones cardigan which karolyn knit up in woolen rabbit sporty.

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it fits like a glove; i love it. and just in time for chilly weather—the nights and mornings are now in the 40s here and the house feels chilly most of the day. i can use this right about now.

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i love the cable and rib details against the simple background fabric of this sweater. i chose some bone buttons for it that have striping of dark and gold tones.

i’m telling you, it felts SO good to have all those projects done and dusted; that was just what i needed to get out from under the overwhelmed feeling i had last week.

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so good that i even finished up the two cowls i cast on for my public knitting projects over the weekend. on the left is a multi-shaded version of the rain on a hot tin roof cowl (remember that is the anniversary project i designed for the shop, soon to be released here), knit up in all five shades of our confection worsted. on the right is another new design, knit up in confection white chocolate—yum.

uh, yes, i have a backlog of new, unreleased patterns to unleash; there just aren’t enough days in a week to get everything up and out, plus continue to write about knitting (and DO knitting). but at least i’m ahead on christmas, right?

speaking of new designs—when one of our dear readers saw the title of my last post—comfort me—she thought it was going to be all about a new design, based on the squish me and squeeze me patterns.
“oh wow” i said, “that would be a great idea for a confection blanket, so squishy and reversible!”
and when i told erica, she just about jumped out of her chair rounding up someone to test knit it.

wow, i thought, i better get swatching

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we don’t waste any time around here when it comes to something yummy. i see this piece as having no edges, the better to appreciate the effect of the corrugated pattern. on big needles, this will be a quick, delicious knit and seriously simple, without sacrificing style. i’m trying to figure out how many yards it will take so i can finish writing up the pattern.

which will, indeed, be named comfort me.

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and now, the last piece of news (and one i hope you’re going to be thrilled about)—our new shipment of breakfast blend yarn has arrived and is being processed in so we can get it up on the site in the next few days.

nicole has been hard at work unpacking and counting it all so we can stay on top of inventory. there are a couple of new scrumptious colors (bakery rye and cream & sugar) and a few return colors (morning smoke and oatmeal). we also have several more colors in testing.

it looks like we will be ready to relaunch this yarn on monday; stay tuned!

 

Wasp and Rose, a BNWs kit

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in lace/shawls, projects, yarn and dyeing

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When Mrs. Lincoln’s Lace was created for the Bare Naked Knitspot 2013 club, Anne knew this yarn would be perfect for other Knitspot patetrns as well.

Even before she finished the June club patterns (Empreinte and Feuillage), she knew this yarn was a must to knit up in Wasp and Rose. One of our dear test knitters Kari was delighted to knit the club yarn, soon to be released in the Knitspot shop.

Once we got her gorgeous piece back and took photos of it in Anne’s studio,

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we thought what better way to debut the shawl than with a kit!? There are two sizes available, using 1 or 2 skeins of Mrs. Lincoln’s Lace,

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a laceweight yarn consisting of 70% black Lincoln wool and

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30% black Rambouillet wool, that create this Victorian triangle shawl.

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Over the summer, when Anne was croppin’ at the farm, we took a craft break for a Wasp and Rose photo shoot with my mom.

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We all couldn’t get over the incredible colors this yarn would transform to.

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Depending on how the light hit this yarn, the fiber would change from brown to purple.

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With Wasp and Rose held up so the light shines through it, you can really see the rosebud stripes and botanical hem of this shawl. I love how complex this design looks, but it’s actually easy to work.

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The wrong side rows are almost entirely in purl! Kari said it was an absolute treat to knit.

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After the shoot, Anne put the shawl on the ground to see Baby Knitspot’s impression of her design and Kari’s beautiful stitch work. He tossed his toy aside

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and fondled the texture. He looked up at us with glee.

Then he dug his toes into the stitches, squished up the shawl with his fingers and drew it in closer, eventually surrounding himself in lace.

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Funny, I think we all would have done the same thing if we allowed ourselves. It’s a delicious accessory!

You can purchase the kit here, and individual skeins of Mrs. Lincoln’s Lace here. To be able to block this shawl like a professional, check out Anne’s Blocking Knits DVD from Interweave.

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It’s an in-depth foray into wet and steam blocking for lace, accessories, and garments, using various blocking tools and pattern schematics. And you can reference it over and over, each time you have a piece to block!

For more info about this amazing yarn, check out Anne’s post on Mrs. Lincoln’s Lace here. If you would like to read Anne’s post about the debut of the original Wasp and Rose and learn about her design process, click here.

 

comfort-able me

Posted on 20 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls, projects

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here i am in comfort, texas—one of the cutest and quirkiest towns i’ve had the pleasure to visit. seriously, if you haven’t been here, you gotta visit, especially if you knit—comfort also happens to be the home of the tinsmith’s wife, a true “destination” yarn shop.

even if you’ve been here before, you’ve got to come back; the “wife” moved to a new home in june which you have to see to believe. formerly housed in the original tinsmith’s shop next door, the shop was bursting out of its space. when the building next door—which can only be described as vast—became available, owner wendy solberg leaped at the opportunity to take it on.

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now they are housed in what was originally a furniture factory and most recently an antique store. the ceilings are about twenty feet high, i think and the rooms—six in all—are cavernous.

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now they have display space galore along with several large seating areas filled with comfortable sofas and easy chairs.

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knitters gather at all hours around HUGE communal tables—well, let’s just say the that shop lives by the rule that “we do everything bigger in texas”

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there’s comfortable space for the non-knitters to hang out as well and not the kind where they end up felling like they’re in the way—there’s a quiet back room away from it all where one can settle in to read quietly or rock a baby.

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wendy opened her shop exactly five years ago, which is why i’m here—we are celebrating with an anniversary retreat; the shop has carried knitspot patterns since it opened and wendy thought it was time i got myself out here to meet the gang.

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wendy operates the tinsmith’s wife in partnership with her parents, susan and bill (better known to everyone as mom and dad). i swear i tried to get a better photo of the pair, but they just wouldn’t stop moving!

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dad may look like he just winds yarn all day, but in fact, he is the heart and soul of the shop and quite an accomplished knitter. he is the force behind many of the shop’s gorgeous samples; he especially enjoys lace knitting.

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in fact, he is the person responsible for “whipping up” (his words) the beautiful shop sample of my anniversary scarf design, rain on a hot tin roof, which we unveiled this weekend at the celebration and which is the project we are tackling in today’s lace project class at the retreat.

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when i get home, we’ll also release it in our online  shops. the pattern includes scarf, stole, and cowl versions and is knit in a silky fingering weight yarn. for the anniversary release, the shop commissioned a special “blue tin” colorway of deadly stimulant, a BFL/silk blend from the wool dispensary.

more about the design and pattern tomorrow or tuesday (as soon as i can get settled back at home, ok?)

as you know, i have been on many, many, wonderful teaching trips and while i can’t ever say that one place is my favorite over every other (because the next favorite place could be right around the corner, right?), i have to say that EVERY time i’ve taught in texas, it has been a complete pleasure in every way.

texas shops, events, and knitters are the happiest bunch i’ve encountered anywhere. they are welcoming in ways i can’t pin words on. they make me realize over and over again how much joy there is in our craft.

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one of the happiest moments of this trip was (finally) meeting our friend alvine in person (left, above with wendy), who has been participating in the blog since the very beginning, as well as our ravelry groups and clubs when they came along. she is a faithful purchaser of printed patterns and we mail a packet off to her almost monthly, so she knows both david and myself rather well. when wendy introduced us the other day, we gave each other a BIG hug without hesitation—these are the moments i treasure about travel teaching . . .

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we also went to lunch soon after, haha. like i said, comfort is small, but wonderful—the buildings here are old, with many original ones still standing and in use. for such a small town, there there are several delicious cafés, tasting rooms, and artisan shops; the town is also known for antique and second hand shopping.

it’s a great place ot run as well, just saying; yesterday when class started at 10, i was able to get out for a really nice run in the early hours. i had to skip it today however, because it doesn’t get light enough until 7 am and class starts at 9. so, i got to blog instead, all good.

another good thing about this weekend—i’ve been getting quite a lot of knitting done. i worked on my secret project on the plane and got over forty rows done—even though i took a couple cat naps as well (i was really tired friday). getting this one further along is my biggest priority for the next few days.

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i do need a project i can knit in public though, so before i left home i organized some projects i could knit on while socializing at the retreat. we had a lot of little balls of our confection worsted to deal with after that photo shoot last week, so i packed a bunch of those to knit up a stripey version of the rain on a hot tin cowl.

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i’m alternating all five shades of the yarn in progressions between the lace bands and the reverse ridges that separate them. since we have so many of these yarn balls to play with, and since it knits up so fast, i’ll probably try the same strategy in a different arrangement as well. i think it will be quite striking when it’s blocked.

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i’ve also started another cowl in confection, this time in solid white chocolate. this design was actually something i swatched back in february using our breakfast blend fingering yarn. the response from the blog was that i should absolutely go forward with this design, but then we got so low on BB that i saved it til we had more in stock.

well, thirteen boxes of breakfast blend arrived at knitspot headquarters on thursday, WOO-hoo! and as soon as we can get it all labelled, it will be listed in the shop!! we’ve been sitting on a few patterns to release to go with it and now this one is also in the works. it is designed to be knit form fingering or dk/light worsted and includes a flat scarf as well; both pieces appear in several sizes. coming soon!

ok, now i really gotta end this post—the inn is stirring and i need to get down to breakfast and then start class. happy trails, compadres—see you when i get home.

(sorry, no time to proofread this; please forgive any typos!)

 

 

confection: sweet as can be

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, yarn and dyeing

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are you ready for cold weather? well we’ve got a delectable offering in five irresistible flavors that will set you up nicely for delivering those quick and cozy winter knits we all look forward to when the wind starts to blow.

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this is confection, our delicious new worsted weight wool yarn, spun smooth and buttery from the highest quality corriedale fiber we could find. confection has a springy, light hand and offers beautiful stitch definition, despite being light as air.

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soft and squishy, this 3-ply yarn knits up speedily into bold accessories, warm sweaters, and cozy blankets on needles size 7US through 10US (4.5 mm through 6 mm). erica loves wearing the high peaks hat and mitten set that our friend cherie knit from the nougat shade.

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our five shades—white chocolate, nougat, cookies and cream, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate—combine beautifully in colorwork patterns and stripes; use a few or go for it and use all of them!

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we have it on good authority that you won’t be able to resist. over the coming weeks we’ll be spotlighting patterns from our catalog and those of other designers that will make excellent pairings with this fiber.

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do you have a favorite color yet? i know i can’t stop at just one; i’ve got a project on the needles now that i’m keeping somewhat under wraps until monday, but i promise the results will be worth the wait.

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i can tell you one thing though—it’s awfully fun to be working on size 8 (5.0 mm) needles!

now, the producers are just begging to be introduced, so i’m going to tell you all about them—i bet you’re ready to see a few sheep photos, am i right?

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the corriedale is an in-bred half-breed with merino on the dam’s side and the english lincoln longwool on the sire’s side, which was developed as a true dual purpose sheep, combining the best traits of the wool breeds and the meat breeds.

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early in new zealand’s history, income from sheep was primarily derived from the sale of wool, but with the advent of refrigerated shipping, a thriving trade in exported meat developed and the production of meat became a priority. because a large area of new zealand falls midway between the sparser grazing that suits the merino and the richer pastures on which the longwool types do best, it was logical to consider crosses between these two types that would take advantage of the plentiful mid-ground.

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james little, who went to new zealand in 1863 from scotland, is given credit for establishing the corriedale breed. an experienced sheep man, he brought some romney sheep in the 1860s to two large ranches he was managing—balruddy and the corriedale estate at otaga on the south island of new zealand. he crossed the romneys on merino ewes to begin evolving a sheep of the dual-purpose type required. due to a lack of consistent results, he later dropped that cross, but having proved an efficient breed could be evolved by the right methods, he next experimented with lincoln/merino crosses, which provided the genetic stability needed to fix the breed’s consistent characteristics (see this blog post for more information about the role of the lincoln sheep in breed development).

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the result is a sheep that produces a heavy, valuable fleece and a high quality carcass, yielding excellent total commercial return. corriedales are docile, easy care animals and excellent mothers with high fertility that exceeds 100 percent.

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their wool is bright, dense, bulky and soft-handling, ranging form soft cream to darkest brown/black; fiber diameter ranges from 25 to 30 microns in adult sheep to the low 20’s in lambs and hoggets. wool cut is 7kg or more per year with a yield of 75 percent (which varies according to environment). and corriedale lambs are leaner because their wool producing ability limits obesity.

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the name corriedale was chosen to be the official breed name in 1902 and the new zealand sheep breeders association began publishing corriedale pedigrees in 1911; the first flock book was published by the corriedale sheep society of new zealand in 1924.

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the wool for our yarn was produced on just two farms in upstate new york and vermont. we purchased 600 pounds (virtually the entire spring clip) of white and natural colored fleece from mark and carole harth, owners of Bear Farm near seneca lake in central new york state.

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their flock is relatively large for an east-coast operation, running up to 325 animals from lambing through midsummer, but the Harths are hands-on farmers, handling their animals with affection, attention and care.

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the result speaks for itself—fleece that is lustrous and resilient, lovely to knit with and wear, which keeps its beautiful hand for many years.

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erica and i were lucky enough this summer to visit bear farm while i was teaching at the finger lakes fiber retreat, so we got to thank the animals who made our yarn in person! david has edited a little film i shot with my iPhone that day so you can visit with them too—click here to view it on our youTube channel (i’ll wait).

these shots were taking during the february shearing, which is the clip our yarn came from.

while 600 pounds sounds like a lot, we lose nearly half of that in the processing, so it actually wasn’t enough for the run we had planned. we needed to augment our supply of dark wool and for that, our miller sought out wool from farmer claire in vermont, whose dark corriedales have nearly black fleece that is simply elegant and spins up like a dream.

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while i haven’t visited this farm myself, claire sent us a few photos from her barnyard, pastures, and shearing day which i’ve put into a little gallery here.

from sheep to farmer to miller to knitspot—it’s quite a journey! our yarns are made with tender loving care taken at each step to ensure that you get to work with the highest quality product.

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with nothing but the best ingredients and workmanship, knitting with confection is easy—it’s choosing a flavor that’s the real challenge; what’s your favorite?

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and this time we learned our lesson—we think we’ve ordered plenty (but then, you never know!).

what we are sure of is that we’re awfully fond of confection!

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i’d like to thank the owners of milk and honey, our local ice cream and soda shop, for allowing us to invade their place for a photo shoot before opening last thursday.

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owner dwayne cornell and his staff were such wonderful sports, allowing us full run of the counter, displays, and dishes. they even started coming up with ideas for more ways we could pose the yarn. haha, they are probably still finding little balls of confection amongst the candies!

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it’s just the coolest place, completely retro in the best way possible. if you’re coming through the area, maybe to visit the football hall of fame, take a break to stop at milk and honey for lunch or a treat!

and if you are too far away, please take a minute to stop by their facebook page and let them know you appreciate being great neighbors to us.