for mother’s day or any day

Posted on 14 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, projects

running05_10

something new has been brewing across the street and i’ve been anxiously waiting for its opening day unveiling to share with you. finally last monday a sign went up that said, “pleasantry garden opens friday”.

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and though bret was still adding final touches at 7 am, he was ready for customers at 9 o’clock sharp andi ran right over to make my contribution. by this morning the garden was filling up so when i went out for my run i snapped a few pictures

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abby is just beside herself with all the visitors who stop by. what is a pleasantry garden, you ask?

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it’s so sweet and something we should all remember to do each day—think kind thoughts and share them; so simple.

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leave it to bret to make an event of it and and give it a place where passersby can stop and soak in some goodness.

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can you tell which one is mine?

i hope if you live nearby or are passing through town later this month going to or from the wooster show, you’ll stop and plant a pleasantry flower. and while you’re there, it would be SO COOL if you came to visit the BNWs shop, right around the corner.

i don’t have much new news today; working on all the same projects as last time and swatching for new ones.

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my explorations in argyle textures continued for a few days and i think i have all i need to make a decision now.

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this one is probably the most faithful to the lines of an argyle pattern but sort of points out that in a single tone, there isn’t enough contrast to make the statement i’m going for—the lines form a much too regular pattern for my taste and they overshadow the negative space.

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this one has a little more contrast, using the same shapes as the original with just a few lines added. still, it relies on the angle of the light being just right to see the argyle in the pattern.

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still, i think i do like the original one the best—it’s stronger and has more contrast. with that decided, now i can move on to making a draft pattern for my prototype

i probably won’t begin the knitting right away, since i’ve just started the other sweater and i want to stay on track with that—i’ll hold off for a rainy day, when i need something new to jump start my motivation.

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anyway, i’ve got this shawl project and another one to work on for times when i need variety. this is my triangle version of love me two times—which is worked top down for a change of pace. i think i’m going to name this one double happiness.

i’ve been ok’d to join our ravelry KAL for the LMTT design so i can play along and show progress—you should join us! we also have one going for the triticum cardigan; if you feel you’d like the support of a group around you while you knit either of these projects, please come over and participate.

alright, that’s all i have for now; it’s much too nice outside to be chained to the computer, even for the blog!

the ravell’d sleeve

Posted on 17 CommentsPosted in designing, projects

squareSweaterHOles05_05

whenever i’ve been on a big push to meet a project deadline, it takes me a day or two to climb out of the black hole i got sucked into, adjust my eyes, and refocus on a normal work pace.

my two new sweaters sat on a far corner of our big communal dining table for a couple of days—i knew they were there awaiting a hot sudsy bath, but the fact that i could just do it now didn’t really click til wednesday.

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and when it did, i turned it into an opportunity to begin the big seasonal sweater wash that officially launches summer for me each year. it is REALLY important to clean woolens before tucking away for the winter—insects just love to nest in dark, undisturbed places, preferably with nutrition nearby; unworn woolens with food particles, skin cells, and pet hair on them are ideal.

into the bath the mister’s and triticum went for a soak; this would be their first wet blocking and wash, so i soaked them separately to make sure i got the water hot enough; the hand wash cycle of the machine doesn’t do that.

then i went over to the shop to grab samples—everything we own needs a good bath; we want it all to be sparkling clean for the wooster show in a few weeks.

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after an hour, i squeezed and rinsed the new pieces, loaded them into mesh bags along with several shop samples and put them all into the hand wash cycle of the washing machine.

if you’re washer doesn’t have a hand was cycle, you can do what my mom used to do and what i did before i had one: place garments or blankets into mesh bags. fill the washer with soapy water of the appropriate temperature (cold for most yarns), stop action and allow the knits to soak for twenty to sixty minutes, drain washer, fill with plain water to rinse, drain and spin. don’t use any agitation cycle; that is what felts wool.

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while my sweaters were washing, i hauled out the rest of my garments and sorted them into stacks of similar colors. i can wash six or seven at a time which works out fine for making color batches. there are a few i’ll probably give away this year that i haven’t worn in a while—i need to make room for new pieces. but i’ll decide for sure later.

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soon it was time to retrieve the sweaters from the wash and lay them out to dry.

the machine spin does a nice job of getting all that water out so you don’t end up with aching arms after a big wash day.

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BTW, i know some people were concerned that triticum is on the short side (and it is shorter than some of my designs), but it hadn’t been washed before the photo shoot and it did grow a bit after its bath—probably and inch or two; i think you can tell from this photo that the proportions different now (it was too wet to put on and snap a photo, but maybe tomorrow).

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once i had it laid out flat to dry i had to figure out a way to arrange the collar so it wouldn’t end up wrinkled.  i wanted a super simple solution that anyone could do—a rolled hand towel did the trick, supporting the collar without disturbing the rest of the garment at all.

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i used the support to pleat the back neck area a bit so the lapel would form those lovely folds as it falls down the front. it worked a treat—the collar and lapel sit perfectly yet feel weightless on my neck. love.

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the sturdy, dense mister’s design just pops out of the wash and takes the right shape immediately—no fussing at all with this one to shape it, post wash.

nothing to do afterward but leave them to dry (and the BNWs dry so fast, due to their excellent wicking qualities).

oh, speaking of bare naked wools, have you seen lara smoot’s new design in confection sport? the marshwood shawl so pretty and simple; just the kind of thing you’ll want to keep handy through the transition of seasons.

a solid, textured fabric and an unusual shape set it apart—along with the yarn, of course! erica has put together a marshwood shawl kit including yarn and pattern to make it an easy mother’s day gift.

feeling full of new freedom to knit whatever i want, i very quickly succumbed to a round of startitis and swatchapalooza.

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i started this simple little shawl on wednesday—it’s the triangle version of the love me two times crescent. but where that one is worked from the hem up, this one is worked from the top down. and since the lace repeat for the hem is only six rows, you can pretty much knit til your yarn runs out if you like.

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i’m working again with better breakfast fingering yarn in mocha—yum! i love the gold highlights in this colorway—i love all the colors i see when i look up close, sigh.

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the start of a shawl like this is so gratifying because it grows so fast. i pick it up to add a few rows here and there, while i’m waiting for a pot to boil or sipping morning coffee. it could be done very soon or not; it all depends on how my other projects shape up.

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you might have noticed amongst the drying sweaters in the photo above, my dear old bathrobe sweater, a little worse for wear.

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i have been wearing this workhorse garment for over twenty years and the fabric remains quite beautiful—it has yet to develop a single pill that i can see.

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i wore though the edges of the cuffs many years ago and never got around to reknitting them, though each year i swear it’s a project i’ll accomplish.

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and while most of the sweater is in remarkably great shape, it has finally sprung a large leak in one elbow, as well as a couple of other wear points.

it is well past time for a new one. i’ve been saying that for years too, but now i’m serious. and to prove it i have this to show.

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i’ve been meaning to swatch for it with one of our yarns for ages, but i didn’t dare hope for such great results. i got exactly the right stitch and row gauge using our stone soup fingering yarn and size 5 (3.75 mm) needles, just like i used for the original, knit in morehouse merino sport yarn.

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i was so excited, in fact that i started on a sleeve right away using my original handwritten pattern. i figured this was way better than swatching any more squares. i didn’t get further than the cuff before deciding i should make sure the sleeve shaping is right. so i spent last evening putting together a draft pattern for the prototype.

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and while watching a bit of TV afterward, i launched into the patterned portion of the sleeve. so far, so good; everything seems to be on track as far as the gauge . . . i think it’s going to be as faithful a recreation of the original as i could expect.

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i may even knit two of them; i have this batch of denim blue (it’s much more gray-blue IRL) morehouse 2-ply that i purchased for that purpose seven or eight years ago on one of our rhineneck trips.

i’m so excited to be working on this project; i’ve been talking about it for years. i don’t know why i’ve skipped over this one in order to do others, but every project has its time. if i had knit it several years ago, there wouldn’t have been stone soup to work with.

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another swatch, this time for a fingering weight boyfriend sweater—i love my mister’s so much i want a lightweight one for the spring and fall seasons.

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the ivar that cherie knit me us as a sample is so delicious (i wore it for three days straight after it arrived here) that i want a similar type pullover in the same yarn.

this time i’m going argyle with the stitch pattern—i’m still playing around with the exact fabric design, but i think it’s going to be slightly more complex—more on that next time.

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and finally a pair of swatches in airy, bulky weight yarn—big in diameter, but light as a feather due to their considerable loft. the green is briar rose sonoma and the gray is our chebris worsted in the carbon shade—coming soon.

here i’m thinking about something with a cable feature—in this size yarn they will be gigantic and i’m loving the images swirling around in my head for a straight-cut car coat with bold details (can details be bold or are they small by definition?).

i’m trying not to get carried away with too many plans for the immediate future, as i also need to write up patterns for my ENVY club designs—the time is drawing closer when we will cast on in GREEN (do you love green and want to know more? click here to join us for our green immersion club).

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hope you have a wonderful weekend planned; the weather here is as fine as i’ve ever seen it and i hope that’s true where you are, too. for me, some running, some work, some biking, some knitting, some yoga, and oh yeah—six more loads of sweaters to go.

springing

Posted on 20 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

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hard to believe that just a few days ago the garden looked like this—flowers with buds shuttered tight against the chill and warnings of frost at night.

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then, a magical weekend with temperatures rising by the hour and voilá!

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suddenly every tulip in the front bed popped open and we have a veritable forest of blooms among the shrubs.

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they are especially tall and healthy this year and david really went to town selecting a variety of bulbs.

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from those with unusually shaped petals to ones with striking color contrast (or both!)

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these two are my favorites, i think—i love the pointy petals and green striping.

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or how about this mostly white, traditional one with the little tourist inside?

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david knows that tulips are my favorite flowers every year in the fall he places his order of bulbs and plots out where they should go.

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then in spring wonderful surprises greet me week by week as the various bulbs pop up, put out leaves, and bloom in places i don’t expect. i’m never sure where they will turn up next.

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we still have loads of daffodils and jonquils as well

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the chilly weather last week made them last and last.

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and now, the apple tree is blooming, so pretty.

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thank you so much for all of your kind comments and delicious excitement over the triticum and the mister’s sweater designs that we released over the weekend! it’s really a nice feeling to see such a positive response to them; your enthusiasm makes me so happy! i hope you enjoy knitting them as much as i did.

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obviously we know now that i got my better breakfast version of triticum done in time for the pattern release on sunday, but on friday afternoon it was still a nail biter, with more than half a sleeve to knit, plus blocking and seaming  to go (i lost that morning to finalizing the release of the mister’s pattern for those who wanted to shop at maryland over the weekend).

when i was binding off my sleeve late friday night, i got a text saying, “you win; my grafting is keeping me from crossing the finish line” it was barb, my partner in the big sweater race. (well ok, she didn’t say it quite that way; she used more explicit knitting terms to describe her graft). i told her to come over saturday morning and we’d have a seaming party.

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myself, i could not sleep past six am for excitement—i was about to block and seam a fine gauge sweater i’d knit in nine days. (yes i know i’m a nerdy geek; that has been well established, thank you.)

you’ve seen this all before and very recently, too; i won’t go into any lengthy descriptions of what i did. but i do think the fabric is super pretty in this yarn and shade (porridge), don’t you?

by seven i was done and had a pot of coffee going on the stove (yeah, i even did my blocking before coffee—before stepping foot downstairs in fact).

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i used the quiet time before barb arrived to sew my own graft and stitch the collar to the back neck. next i began seaming in the sleeve capss, the trickiest part of finishing most fitted sweaters.

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when barb arrived she was feeling much better than the night before and we got right down to work on her graft.

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well she’s a pretty quick study and before i knew it, she was halfway across that collar, happily chanting the song of the knitting graft (hey, don’t knock it—it works).

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at eleven, we moved over to the shop because i had to watch the store for the day. we set ourselves up a little tailoring shop in the classroom area complete with mini pressing bench, sleeve board, tailor’s ham, and press cloths.

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barb blocked her fronts after joining them.

by the way, craftsy is having a big sale starting today, so if you need help with these finishing tasks, this would be a great time to pick up my newest class about sweater knitting techniques or one of my finishing classes.

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i have to say, that’s a beauty of a graft barb. i’m always happy to help my local friends through this tricky finishing maneuver, but even if you live far away, you can learn to do it too, with my FREE craftsy grafting class, a seriously great deal.

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when my sleeve caps were completely sewn in, i lightly steamed pressed the seams so they would drape nicely. normally, i would give this garment a complete wash/wet blocking before doing photos, to help that fiber bloom, close up the gaps between stitches, and even out the fabric surface a bit. but we just didn’t have time for that on saturday; i needed to get photos before sunset, haha.

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meanwhile barb worked on setting in her sleeves; i had showed her a couple of tricks for getting nice seams along the top of the sleeve and she was pretty impressed with her improved seams. we were neck and neck at this point, but soon after lunch, barb got called away for a small emergency. we weren’t going to finish exactly at the same time, drat.

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i went home and finished joining the side and underarm seams of my sweater—by five or so i was done and rushed to put on a bit of makeup while david got the camera ready.

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as the sun got ready to set, we squeezed in a nice photo shoot; the right was perfect and it was a lot of fun for the two of us to be working alone as a team again—we don’t get to do that often any more!

i love the way this sweater feels—so light i keep forgetting it’s there. it’s not at all fussy to wear, either; it stays right in place and looks nice no matter how i move around.

in fact i love both versions—i’m looking forward to wearing my blue tayet version when i get it back from its visit in the spirit trail booth at the fiber show.

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barb was back tonight, with completed sweater in tow and made up for her photo shoot—isn’t her’s gorgeous? this design has many details that make it flattering to a lot of body types—a central feature that pulls the eye away form the sides of the body, lovely fitted shoulders and armholes, another feature at the center back for a beautiful exit, and a shorter sleeve option to lighten up the overall look, should you want to wear it in summer (learn more about choosing a sweater style that will flatter your body in my sweater knitting techniques class).

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barb also chose to knit with better breakfast fingering, but in the sugarfrost shade. barb is tall, so she chose to lengthen the body of her sweater by about an inch and a half . she lengthened the sleeves about an inch (as did i; we both have extra long arms).

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sigh; another person who doesn’t like to smile for the camera—and barb has SUCH a great smile too. what are we going to do with her?

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well, we love her anyway, don’t we?

what a rush, huh? later on, all i had every for was fiddling around a bit with some lace yarn and an idea i have for a new shawl; i’m ready for a bit of lace.

blueStellaShawl05_06

i’ve had this briar rose stella for a while, intending it for a specific idea i’ve been working out in my head. i think i’m almost ready to start, but need a little swatching to work out the details.

redStellaWBkit05_06

speaking of stella, while i was in the shop on saturday, i saw that anastasia had unearthed a few remaining skeins of the cranberry stella lace that i designed the winterwood crescent shawl with. we sold out this kit VERY quickly at the time of its release and i know a few people were disappointed not to get one.

these are skeins we held in reserve for the last eighteen months in case of a yarn emergency or lost package. there are just five left and we are ready to let them go now. david has opened up the winterwood kit listing so they may be purchased.

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now that the rush is over to get those sweaters finished and published for maryland, i’m reorganizing my task list to start some new ones. but before i even do that, i need to give both my new BNWs sweaters a nice hot bath so we can really appreciate their soft beauty.

i’ll be back with more about all that in a couple of days—for now, happy knitting.

triticum

Posted on 22 CommentsPosted in patterns

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like i said the other day, i will always gravitate to clothing with more of “guy” look, but occasionally something dressier is required and when that is the case, i like to have even more control over my comfort.

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nothing cheats the requirement to dress up like a garment knit with soft, elegant luxury yarn, whether dyed in a rich hue like this sprint trail tayet or worn in the pearly natural tones of our better breakfast fingering yarn

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sexy detailing on the sleeve and at the small of the back

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a spill of rich openwork down the center

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deceive the eye into thinking this piece is much more structured than it really is. lucky for us, it’s not—it is exceedingly light, stretchy, and comfortable to wear, the perfect finish to a simple dress or loose silk trousers.

or jeans—it has the power to elevate.

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the other nice thing about this design? it works with a wide variety of yarns.

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the prototype was knit in 100% BFL tayet, a new 3-ply fingering yarn from spirit trail fiberworks. this silky, strong yarn offers both crisp stitch definition and elegant drape with a soft sheen, for gorgeous brocade texture.

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not to mention how beautifully it takes dye—just look at this deep cobalt blue color.

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softer and a bit fuzzier, the better breakfast fingering yarn translates differently, but with equally beautiful results—this fabric follows the curves of the garment shaping but skims over the body forgivingly.

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here the fabric has a lush surface that catches the light and rolls it along each squishy curve in the stitch pattern, pulling the eye front and center.

this design could also be knit in our stone soup fingering yarn—in fact, i have a secret desire to knit a third sample in the river rock shade (don’t tell anyone; i’m supposed to be working on something new).

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the design has a tailored shoulder line with set in sleeves—options for long or elbow length included—for the ultimate in elegant fit. subtle waist shaping gives the illusion of a close fit while nipping out just an inch or so.

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the lapel/collar is knitted right in and grafted at the center back neck, with a minimum of finishing work (don’t be afraid of the grafting—i will hold your hand all the way through with my free craftsy grafting class).

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shown above, long sleeved cardigan in size small, knit in sprit trail tayet, color midnight rendezvous. if you are visiting the maryland sheep and wool show today, stop off at jen’s booth to see the sample and fondle the yarns—you won’t be disappointed! if you purchase the tayet yarn to knit this sweater, she will gift you a copy of the pattern.

shown below, cardigan ins size small with elbow length sleeve, knit in bare naked wools better breakfast fingering yarn, color porridge.

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erica has put together a kit for the triticum design which includes the pattern and enough better breakfast fingering yarn to knit either long- or elbow-length sleeves; knitter’s choice of shades (currently there are eight shades in stock).

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barb was going to knit hers in stone soup fingering yarn because it’s her favorite, but then decided on BBF in sugarfrost at her husband’s request instead. (barb did finish her sweater too, but not in time for photos yesterday; we’ll show you hers later this week).

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to purchase pattern only or view complete pattern information, please click here to purchase in our knitspot online shop and here to purchase in my ravelry pattern shop.
(if you wish the pattern to appear in your ravelry library, please use this ravelry store link, thanks!)

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have a wonderful week; the weather here is fine. i’ll be back in a few days with photos of barb’s finished cardigan and some behind the scenes shots from our all-day seaming party.

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