midwest is best

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events


there’s a new book in town—midwestern knits, a 13 pattern collection, curated and edited by knitwear designers Carina Spencer and Allyson Dykhuizen.


the book—available in both digital-only and print + digital format (use the first link if you want it in your ravelry library), features original designs from Adrienne Larsen, Ann Weaver, Emily Ringelman, Hope Vickman, Jennifer Waterbury Beaumont, Laura Hulslander, Laura Ricketts, Melynda Bernardi, Sara Gresbach, as well as Allyson and Carina.


and was i ever pleased and honored to see that the first design featured—midtown, by carina spencer—is the one knit in three shades of BNWs kent DK  (white sand, driftwood, and coconut husk)—woo-hoo!


worked in both stockinette and a beautiful slip-stitch texture, this easy to wear cardigan, dressed up or dressed down, is emblematic of all the pieces included in the collection.


i can see this sweater knit in several of our yarn selections, including our new ginny DK—we’ve got two more shades—mississippi (top left) and georgia (bottom left) due to arrive in about three weeks.


how comfy does that sound??


in addition to this beautiful cardigan, the book includes six more sweaters and a variety of accessories—hats, mittens, cowls, and such, all with squishy textural interest.


each design is inspired by the designers’ personal connections to the heartland of america, the places where they were born and raised and the places where they live now. essays written by each designer accompany their contributions as a tribute to their inspiration.


besides the designs themselves, these writings are what i love most about this book; they tell a story of how a designer’s life and knitting are intertwined, influenced by a sense of place and a keen eye for interpreting their surroundings—a goal i can relate to as a designer and writer (my blog is a peek into all of my life, whether exceptional or ho-hum on any given day).


i was very touched by seeing the work each designers attached to her story, by seeing the weather and architecture and cultural traditions that sparked a certain idea for them.


for some, texture and pattern were lifted from the natural world—from grand forests and lakes to back yard microclimates.


for others a certain cultural vibe or architectural structure, unique to their town or state was the jumping off place for a design.


even the overly large and violent weather events famous to the midwest were commemorated—and more than once.


in addition to the midwest design inspiration, the yarns featured throughout the book are midwest-sourced and include contributions from Bare Naked Wools, Brown Sheep, Knits in Class, Lorna’s Laces, Mrs. Crosby Plays, Nerd Girl Yarns, The Plucky Knitter, Stonehedge Fiber Mill, and Three Irish Girls.


interested to learn more about the project, purchase a copy, or join in a KAL for one of the projects (hopefully one with our yarns!)? click here to purchase a digital-only copy and click here to purchase a print/digital combination.

look who decided to show up

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden, projects


hey, remember me? do you recognize me? i know i’ve been terribly negligent; we’ve been very short-handed around here lately and i’ve been hard at work on myriad projects all at the same time.

i feel like i talk about the monster that is our garden a LOT, so let’s start with knitting stuff and slowly work over to the back yard situation.


you may have seen his already, but our good friend romi has designed and knit the most striking shawl in our stone soup DK yarn—just two skeins in two shades will make you one swoop shawl (thank you romi!!). rosemary used river rock and pumice, but there are several possibilities for great pairing. we are a bit low on the popular stone soup yarns at the moment, but we will be restocked near the end of september—just in time for serious sweater knitting.


swoop is knit mostly in garter stitch with insertions of mesh wedges. i love how the ends of the short row shaping create those radiating dashes. it reminds me of the neon in times square or parts of the chrysler building.


the mesh wedges along one side are airier and allow light to come through, like a crooked venetian blind, haha. though it’s knit in DK weight yarn, you can see how light and airy it is in these photos; our yarn is cozy and warm but very light for its substance. you can purchase swoop in romi’s ravelry pattern shop either as a single pattern or as part of her 7 small shawls; year 5: asymmetry collection.

by the way, rosemary also has just released a book with interweave press, inspired by her new home in nevada—new lace knitting: designs for wide open spaces. the eBook is available now and the print version will become available in september.


as you can see from the above photo, i’ve been up to some finishing work; that’s my sleeveless hemp top in my lap as i wove in the final ends last night.


i actually completed all the knitting about three weeks ago—i can’t believe it’s taken me all that time to get the finishing work done but there you have it.


a neck finish here, then distracted for a few days; an armhole finish there, then pulled over to something else. and so it goes.


well finally, it’s done and this morning i gave it a nice sudsy bath in hot water. it’s drying now—in fact it’s time to turn and reshape it before a crease sets in.

ok, i’m back; that didn’t take but a few minutes and it’s a really good way to make the fabric look its best.

i did take a photo before i dunked it in the water. it will hang a little differently on me. this is a longer top with a looser, wider hem; the smallest part of the torso is at the high waist area (you can see the silhouette on the far left there). i think it will look great with shorts or skirts or slacks; i love it.


i had originally thought the neckline should be more voluminous but i changed my mind when i saw the way this simpler neckline tips out just a little. because it ended up simpler than i thought, i will probably lower the neckline about an inch in the final pattern.

we’ll try to get some photos over the weekend so you can see how it looks in real life, on a real person.


some time between finishing up the pieces of that top and getting the seams completed, erica and i left home to travel to the michigan fiber festival. it was supposed to be an adventure for david and me, but he got called away in the other direction at the last minute, so erica kindly stepped in.

we had a lot of foot traffic at this show and enjoyed visits from so many of our friends. it felt as if all day long we were chatting and helping people pick out projects (i love when a show is like that). so despite the almost treacherous heat, we had a good show and are looking forward to a few more in the near future.

first up, along with 20 other shops across northeast ohio we are participating in the yarn discovery tour from september 8 through 26. if you’ve been wanting to visit our shop, the 19 days of the tour is a great time because in addition to our regular hours and knit night, we will be open for extended hours: thursday/friday from 11 to 6 and saturday/sunday from 11 to 5. from the number of requests we have already received for passports, this should be a really fun time. every visitor receives a free pattern!

in just three weeks i’m teaching at windy knitty in chicago (sept 18 through 20). on friday evening i’ll present a trunk show and we’ll do a yarn tasting. on saturday we’ll have a lace project class (we’re knitting a sampler version of the bee fields shawl) and on sunday we’re tackling the finishing series—all great stuff; you should join us!

then during the first weekend of october, BNWs will be traveling just a couple of hours away to have a booth at the athens area fiber faire, which looks to be a terrific (and growing) show in a great college town. the organizers describe it like this:

Located in the scenic Hocking Hills region of southeastern Ohio, Athens in October is bustling with autumn activities. From our top-ranked farmers market, through our quaint uptown, to the gorgeous Ohio University campus, Athens offers an astounding variety of shopping, dining, hiking, biking, and sporting events for all ages. Only an hour from Columbus, and within 3 hours of Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh, Athens makes a wonderful day trip or weekend getaway spot. So spread the word and mark your calendars; we’ll look forward to seeing you in October!

after that, we are heading east to NYS for rhineneck weekend. though we did not get accepted to have a booth at the main show (WAAAHH!), we will once again participate in indie untangled on friday october 16 and will also host our annual kingston marriott popup shop on sunday afternoon and evening, october 18.


this year we are making the sunday event more of a salon/reception to treat our friends and customers to refreshments and offer a sneak peek at our next big company project. some of our favorite celebrity knitters will be on hand; so excited!

around here there is lots of knitting, even though it is a little erratic and i’m prone to a bit of project ADD. for one thing, i’ve had some secret knitting to do, which i can’t share for a while. i’ve been organizing some new projects to start—about four of them need to get on the needs ASAP if i’m going to make my next set of deadlines.


i did start one new project with this deliciously squishy vesta, a new yarn offering from spirit trail fiberworks—check out jen’s awesome new website—a chunky worsted merino that is SOoo squeezable and yummy, i look forward each day to my knitting time with it. it’s as good as chocolate, i swear.

with it i am designing a longer jacket type sweater. i don’t want to tell you too much til i have enough knit to show you—i think it makes a better impact that way. but i can tell you it revolves around some really beautiful cabling. and the cool thing is that the pattern will translate to another chunky, smoothy favorite of mine—our chebris worsted. yum.

more on this project in the near future . . .


in our monday class, susie, debby, and debbie S. are all closing in on finished blanket statement projects. susie, in the foreground, is whipstitching her better breakfast strips together into the large version of the blanket. they are so gorgeous; even i’m jealous. debby and debbie are knitting the last strip of their blankets, so they will be joining soon.

so, is anyone out there as distracted as i am by the incredible wealth of produce we are having right now?? as if my own garden wasn’t enough, i’ve succumbed to peaches . . .


i mean. how could i not? i didn’t really need a lot of peaches for freezing, but we’ve been enjoying them for breakfast every day that we can. i’ve baked a couple of pies and plan to pick up more at the farmer’s market this weekend so i can bake one to bring to my mom next week.

and in addition to those there is the most fantastic corn this year.


which is making its way into our freezer as well.


home frozen corn is about a hundred times better than even the best store bought and so easy to do. this is another thing i’d like to get just a little more of—maybe one more dozen.


fruit and corn are the only items that i’ve had to buy elsewhere—we are getting much more than we need from our own back yard (YAY!). squash, greens, and beans still going strong; in fact i’ve been picking about fifteen pounds of beans each week since they started, with no reduction in sight.


as you can see, the tomatoes also started coming in; i’ve been cooking a pot of puree every couple of days. also lots of eggplant and peppers, which are super sweet this year and tasty. BTW, these two hauls were only a day or so apart (and you wonder why i’ve been scarce?).


my other favorite way to put up tomatoes is to roast them with garlic in the pan, then process. this makes a puree with a more intense flavor and color—great for pizza or any sauce that requires bolder ingredients.


when we got back from michigan there was a monster of a squash in the garden; i could hardly believe how big after just a few days away (must’ve been all that sun).


my acorn squash plant succumbed to some malady or other, but at lest it had a few nice sized squashes on it before it went. these are stored away now in the basement. my butternut squash continues to expand throughout the garden in the bloom of good health; the winter squashes on the vine are enormous.


besides the pie i plan to bake early next week, i’ve got a box going to bring to my mom—garlic, fresh dug potatoes, a butternut squash, and whatever else i can unload onto her unsuspecting self think of that she might like.


definitely some peppers and tomatoes and definitely a big bag of green beans (hehehe).

last friday i went outside just to peek and see if anything needed immediate attention and when i realized i still hadn’t pulled the onions, i thought i should do that—the tops had been laying down for at least a week and we were having a nice dry sunny day.


well, it didn’t take any time at all to pull them and they started drying right away.  but once i was done i thought, hmm, i’ve been meaning to plant some fall greens to make a salad bed where the garlic was and now i have a second empty spot—maybe i should do that before too many weeds set in.


so i started smoothing the dirt on those two mounds and as soon as my rake went into the soil a bit, i hit potatoes. now, i and been wondering how the potatoes were coming along this year and curiosity got the best of me so before i knew it, i pulled a plant up. attached to the end were two enormous potatoes and several smaller ones. mmm, potatoes.

well as it happened, there were several plants sort of kind of in the way of making a really nice long bed of beets, so i puled those few plants up as well—now i had several nice bakers and a decent basket of little ones to make something with.


i planted my seeds alright—some spinach, some beets (mostly for the tops; they are my favorite greens), and a whole mix of seeds jumbled together in the other bed for hearty salad greens.


i am thinking that if we continually cut the leaves of these plants when they are no more than 4 inches in length, we will have  avery steady supply of “power greens”, our favorite salad mix.

the seeds sprouted within just  a few days and already there are straight rows of red and green seedlings to watch (i’ll post pictures when they get just a little bigger; they don’t photograph well yet.


over the last week i’ve been working on a big pattern project for a deadline, but on saturday night i finally said, enough—i need to get out of this chair and into the kitchen. i pulled all of the last few days produce out of the fridge drawer and got to work on a HUGE pot (my 16-quart one) of ciambotta for  freezing. everything that went into it—tomatoes, eggplant, squash, onions, peppers, garlic, celery, basil, oregano, and potatoes—was from the garden, except for the carrots.

omg, it was SO good. luckily we had company last night for dinner and even more lucky, the meal was already cooked.


recently, someone remarked to me that one of their all-time favorite blog photos was the one i showed several years back of t=my freezer at the end of summer. well, it’s not quite the end of summer and i’m reserving space on the top shelf for more tomatoes, but as you can see, we are filling up steadily. everything is pretty systematic—a little of each item near the front so we can access them all, but by necessity, plenty behind that front layer too. the bottom shelf is mostly for ready made dishes, so that area rotates more frequently as we use up soup, casseroles, curries, and stews, then replenish them. the door (which you can’t see here) has racks of bags containing greens and beans.

still some work to do to get it filled to the brim . . .


and now, i think i hear a big bag of beans calling my name—time to do some topping i think.

pedal pusher

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in patterns, projects


as i sit up in my office on the second floor of our house, i can’t help but notice that in the cooled evening air, there is a scent of dried leaves that adds a definite note of the autumn weather to come.


i’m also laughing my head off every time i think about the photo shoot we did last night out on the street below. . .

barb, in her own personal film, hamming it up for the camera while she shows off her newly completed pedal pusher cardigan, knit in light and lofty bare naked wools kent worsted.


the neighbors nearly split a gut laughing at us—barb, cool as a cucumber in a turtleneck and wool sweater in the 90-degree heat and me running up and down the street with the camera to get shots from every angle.


at least they thought we were “cute” instead of insane (which is probably more accurate, haha.

this time i didn’t allow her to do her “sultry” look again; it was smiles for miles only. oh, we did some shots where she was standing still as well


the catalog shot as she looks into the sunset


the quintessential autumn apple picking shot over at a neighbors house (who doesn’t seem to have apple stealing squirrels like we do).


beautiful side shots to show off the cabled detailing along the raglan seams.


some with the garment unbuttoned and then buttoned up tight so you’ll know it looks good both ways.


and of course a sexy backside shot to show you how beautifully this casual-fitting sweater looks on her figure, even without shaping.


but our favorites by far were the ones on the bike.


thank goodness she’s a great sport.

barb chose kent DK for her test knit, which has stellar drape—just the right amount to knit a fabric that skims the body without losing its grip. it won’t sag or slide into an overgrown garment just from being worn a few times. yet, it has an elegant hand with a pearly sheen that screams “sophisticated”, even in a casual garment like pedal pusher.


it was a little over one year ago that i completed my prototype of this sweater, which is modeled here by lauren in our confection worsted yarn.

my idea was to create a wool sweater that would be easy to wear for commuting by bicycle. light and airy enough to wick away moisture from under layers (i like to go fast on my bike, so i need that), but warm too, for battling a brisk fall breeze.


my version has the optional side entry pockets with the same cabled detail as the front edges and seams—super handy for any bike commuter.


and it looks great once you hop off and shed the helmet—no one at work or in the store would know you had your riding gear on.


being a hard wearing 3-ply yarn (as opposed to the kent, which is two-ply and slightly more textured), confection is lush and spongy, with a smooth surface—that translates to a squishy fabric with super-consistent stitches and great definition for those cables.


made from springy, light corriedale wool, it holds its shape well; the shades of this wool are clear and bright.


shown above, size medium in confection worsted, color dark chocolate, with multi-tone bone buttons

shown below, size 1X in kent worsted, color driftwood, with mocha buffalo horn buttons


i just love how the neutral shades of these yarns do so much to highlight lauren and barb’s pretty hair color and skin tones. and they look great with all the colors and fabrics in your wardrobe too.

to purchase pattern 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!)


get ready for fall by setting off on a sweater knitting adventure! meet up with us in the BNWs rav group threads to knit along and post updates on your progress. pedal pusher could be your rhinebeck sweater; its easy to knit design has no seaming, so once it’s off the needles, you are done—you have plenty of time to finish if you start one now. what’s not to love?


looks great both up close and from a distance; this is a terrific piece to fill out your cold weather wardrobe which you will turn to again and again as the colors of fall surround you.


mayan puzzle

Posted on 17 CommentsPosted in patterns


with hints of crisp weather in the evening air and a big yarn sale starting tomorrow on our legacy breakfast blend DK (fingering too!), we all agreed this would be the perfect time to open pattern sales for my mayan puzzle jacket.


this design has been trying to get out of my head and onto paper ever since i published the aztec mazes pullover some years ago, but i had a secret longing to rework it in winter white—i just thought that would be stunning, you know?


well it was some time before the right cream yarn came my way and not until we began spinning our own brand that i finally had it in my hands. almost hilariously, i now have several options that are perfect for this design, among them Ghillie sport/DK (shown above in cream), kent DK (shown below in beach glass), breakfast blend DK (25% off starting tomorrow!), and luscious confection sport.


the choice of using kent DK was made by our friend katharine, who knit the gorgeous sample that brad is wearing in the photo above. i wasn’t sure the kent would have the right amount of body for this design, but wow—i had nothing to fear; it’s just beautiful. and so light and airy with lots of bounce—thank you katharine!


i actually got serious about getting this pattern published when we started carrying the ghillie sport/DK—this was the yarn i dreamed of. close on its heels came the confection sport and it, too, is a perfect choice. both of these yarns are light and springy with a hard-wearing 3-ply construction that offers excellent stitch definition.


when we received our sample in ghillie knit for us by kathy in size small, tears literally sprang to my eyes as i pulled it out of the box, so perfect a match it was to the picture i held in my head for this design (thank you kathy, from the bottom of my heart).

i’ve been having a lot of fun styling it, since it fits my dress form so well.


last night i sewed on the buttons, which i chose from our selection in natural materials—i liked these two-tone buffalo horn ones with this yarn, but we have several that will work.


the ones katharine’s beach glass sample are simple black horn, for instance.


and then there is this knockout version knit by anne marie in briar rose wistful—isn’t that gorgeous? BTW you can see this one and our ghillie sample in person if you visit our booths at this weekend’s michigan fiber festival.


this is size medium and in the draper alpaca/silk/merino blend, it has a looser, more relaxed fit; if you choose a yarn like this and you are between sizes, it’s probably best to stick with the smaller size to allow for that relaxation.


the sweater is knit in one pice to the underarms, then divided to work the yoke and shoulders. it has a looser, less tailored construction known as a modified drop shoulder (or t-shape), but the cable detailing along the side seam area and armscye helps to stabilize the shape.


the entire garment is characterized by its texture—strong and defined, it is fun to work and makes a great statement.


i had thought that it wouldn’t be appealing as a “guy” jacket, but again i was wrong—it is smashing and some guys will totally rock that look.


to purchase pattern 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!)


looks like we’re going to have some terrific weather for the show this weekend—if you are going, please be SURe to stop by to say hi andsnap a photo with us!