Lace3—oh, the possibilities!

Posted on 4 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, lace/shawls, spinning and fiber

as spring finally commences with sprouting, blooming, and unfurling a fresh array of colors and fascinating forms, i’ve been busy putting together ideas for my lace³ pattern subscription.

there couldn’t be a more exciting or inspiring time of year to be thinking about new lace projects—if you’ve been following my work for even a short time, you know that translating natural forms into stitches is an important aspect of my designer voice. at this time of year, i am literally surrounded by ideas for motifs and line work with which to fill our rectangular shapes.

now to think about the yarns we might use to bring those ideas to life! one aspect of this project that’s very important to me is flexibility. because it can be resized with ease, the rectangular form is universally friendly to a wide range of yarn types and weights—the same design can be worked in finer or heavier yarns to achieve different effects.

fine yarns produce sheer fabrics suffused with light, showing off delicate line work and semi-transparent shapes; heavier yarns amp up the scale, making for bold, deeply embossed lines and voluptuous forms, along with a gutsier overall fabric. some knitters have a love for one or the other and some of us like to mix it up so that we always have a project going that suits our knitting mood.

as my series of “little nothings” scarf patterns has proven over the years, knitters love this flexibility—these simple rectangular designs have been translated into all manner of larger and smaller projects, from scarves to stoles to baby blankets—and in all types of yarns. and so i hope it will be with the lace³ subscription projects, that knitters will use my basic designs as written, or fiddle with them if they please, to create end results that are just right.

i know that some of you have been dreaming on what you will purchase with your discount coupon—thank you for all of the fun comments you’ve been adding to the discussion in our lace³ ravelry thread!

as promised, i’ve prepared a list to share of the yarns i will most likely work with. for this list, i’ve taken choices from our bare naked wools yarn shop, to offer suggestions for those who’d like to use the $10 coupon included with early signups (click here and purchase now if you’d like to get one too!). i may in the future toss my stash to come up with hand-dyed suggestions and i may even knit a few samples with treasures retrieved through stash diving.

full disclosure though—being that this is a design project that extends a year into the future, it’s possible i may change my mind about knitting with one or two of these yarns myself. if that happens, my intention is that someone in our sample circle will knit with the the yarn from the original list, so that we have an example to show off. note that the list contains more than a half dozen yarns for just six design installments—i like to keep my options open and i feel that any combination of these yarns will work. we’d like to show you several sample options for each installment and i hope to knit more than one for at least some of the installments, while other knitters may help with the rest.

the good news is that even if my choices change or vary, these designs will work with many different yarns; they are excellent stashbuster projects! if a yarn you love is not on the list or drops from my list in the future, you can rest assured that it will still be lovely in almost any of the designs and you will enjoy that project even more for personalizing it with an alternate yarn choice.

the colors shown here are not necessarily the ones i will knit with; i chose photos from our archives that best represent each yarn type.

you may decide that a range of soft silver and blue-gray is right up your alley . . .

or that a soft warm palette suits you and your wardrobe better.

maybe a series of darks are your thing or you like to work with toothy, textured  yarns as opposed to kitteny soft ones.

i find enjoyment and inspiration in a mix of everything; i like to follow one yarn with another that is a different shade and has completely different qualities. i do not make rules for myself about colors or fibers i supposed should and should not wear. and anyway, i like to give away a lot of the accessories i knit, so i allow myself the freedom of exploration. one-skein scarf projects are a great way to try out a yarn that is new to me, especially if i’m considering it for a garment design.

several people have asked about yardages and here i’m going to be a bit vague because it really depends on so many factors—we find that knitterly variations (such as personal gauge and knitting style) can alter yardage by a surprising amount, as can substituting yarn or working at a different gauge than stated. and i want everyone to feel they can take advantage of the flexibility offered here!

while each design will have a stated gauge and yardage for the sample shown, your mileage may vary for a variety of reasons. to prevent knitters from getting bogged down on this point, for the most part these will be the type of projects where you can simply knit til your yarn (or your patience) runs out. you may achieve more or less repeats than i do, but if you start with a skein of equal weight to what i’m using, you should end up with a similar size. scarves and cowls can be knit with single, 4-ounce skeins of fingering or lace yarn, while stoles or blankets will take two or more. if you choose to size up, DK yarns require about fifty percent more yardage. at this point, i really can’t commit to more yardage information than that. to arm yourself with helpful knowledge, i recommend reading through some project notes for my established scarf designs to see how far a single skein of any yarn will go. my lace lessons book also includes helpful information about yarn substitutions and fiber in general.

there is one last last thing—i will almost certainly not be using these yarns in the order they appear below; i’ve got to keep some surprises in my pocket!

are you ready? then here we go!

1. deco lace

deco lace is a tencel/cotton/merino blend with gorgeous sheen that is perfect for summer knitting, as it remains dry to the touch through all weather. never warm or prickly against the neck, its firm twist offers excellent stitch definition and a pearly accent for wool and denim alike, but also drapes into silky, sexy folds. generous yardage allows for a large scarf or stole project.

2. ginny sport (or DK)

ginny is an alpaca/cotton/merino/nylon blend that feels like cashmere. a next-to-the-skin soft yarn with an even softer, fuzzy halo, it makes a remarkably desirable scarf or cowl fabric that drapes into generous, round folds. if you’ve sworn off cotton yarns, this one will make you think again! in the lighter sport weight, it knits up most similarly to our better breakfast fingering yarn; in DK weight it is lush and plump for a warm scarf without the wooliness.

3. better breakfast fingering


better breakfast fingering is an alpaca/merino/nylon blend with all-around appeal. soft, yes—but also sturdy. dehaired alpaca is the magic ingredient, adding ultimate softness without a prickle, for those who may have found other alpaca yarns unwearable. available in eleven natural shades, this signature yarn is a perennial favorite for all types of knits, but is especially lovely for openwork projects with plump stitches—the kind you want for working cable and lace patterns. a smooth profile for easy handling, it blooms with a wonderfully fuzzy halo with a nice bath and some handling.

4. ghillie sock

ghillie sock is spun from 100 percent cheviot wool; if you haven’t heard of it, you can read more about it in this blog post or visit some project pages. this heritage wool fiber has many characteristics that add to its durability, hence its place as the traditional choice for kilt hose, sturdy scottish tweeds, and upholstery. but rarely—and quite unfairly—is a tribute sung to its more delicate characteristics. the lustre and unusual structure of the fiber (helical) makes for a bouncy, airy yarn that simply glows with light when introduced into yarnover patterns. its slightly stiffer hand translates into highly embossed linework and a beautiful blocked finish that keeps its shape for ages. our skeins hold a generous put-up of 600 yards—plenty for a large, lacy piece or one with lots of cables or twist stitches.

5. cabécou lace

cabécou lace, our finest lace offering is the ultimate choice for romantic, heirloom lace pieces. you might think that this kid mohair/silk/coopworth lamb blend, with a whopping 1000 yards per 4-ounce skein will require knitting on toothpicks—but no! in fact, i highly recommend a much larger needle to achieve a gossamer fabric that catches the light on each and every blooming filament. here too, a slightly stiffer fiber blend yields distinct stitch definition and a lasting blocked shape. not to mention a fabric that is virtually weightless and devastatingly sheer.

6. hempshaugh lace

hempshaugh lace, a merino/silk/hemp blend, offers a more rustic, quirky texture than many of our other yarns and is a personal favorite for lots of reasons. it is my summer yarn of choice for tops that i practically live in and for certain kinds of shawls and scarves. its fluid, drape is wonderfully forgiving in garments, but could prove challenging for rectangles that keep their shape. i’m choosing this yarn as a wild card with a special project in mind, with a plan to counter its naturally too-soft tendencies with a clever construction strategy. hoping some of you will play along with me, but if the prospect sounds daunting, be assured that alternate yarns will prove equally compelling.

7. fresh lace

fresh lace is a combination of silk and linen—if you’ve heard that linen is too hard on the hands, then this yarn will rescue its reputation. unimaginably soft to knit with, the fiber also plumps up nicely with lots of body when washed; it makes for gorgeous garter stitch fabric. its brilliant whiteness inspire its name—fresh. while i’m tempted to kick off the subscription in july with this selection, a design that will be absolutely perfect for early spring is whispering to be knit instead and i’ve got it slotted in closer to the end of the lineup.

8. chebris lace

chebris lace is a mohair lover’s dream yarn—soft and glimmering, it knits up quickly on bigger needles and blooms with lush, fluffy softness after a wash and some handling. fabric that flutters in the slightest breeze is the prize for those who choose to knit with this confection of a yarn. spun a bit heavier than our cabécou blend, it’s a great introduction to mohair fiber and laceweight yarn—totally manageable for newbies and a complete pleasure for the more experienced knitter.

9. stone soup fingering

stone soup fingering c’mon now—you know i wouldn’t leave this selection off of any personal yarn list! after all, a day without SSF is like a day without sunshine. i am totally psyched about showing you yet another desirable lace pattern to knit with this tweedy, rustic, lovable stuff. lest you think i’m talking nonsense just to move this yarn off the shelf, i swear, i’m not—just ask my friend katharine; she sleeps in her fringetree shawl, knit with stone soup fingering, she likes it that much (true story!). and if you feel too shy to ask her, you can peruse a variety of stone soup lace projects by clicking here. who knows, this might be your wildcard yarn!

so that’s my list from the shelves of our bare naked wools yarn shop—please feel free to write us with questions or leave a comment and we’ll do our best to answer. to recap, those who sign up for lace³ before 7/10/2018 will receive a $10 credit toward the purchase of three skeins or more, while supplies last. david has mailed out coupon codes to everyone who signed up already; you should be good to go! for those joining up as we speak, yours will be sent along shortly after your purchase.

we plan to present a couple more posts about project yarn before the patterns begin release in july; stay tuned for ideas and inspiration!

sea fret cardigan

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, patterns

as soon as i finished knitting my sea fret pullover, i knew i wanted a cardigan version—its light airy fit and feel just had to be translated into a garment i could open and close to suit the temperature.

sea fret cardigan has all the same characteristics as its sibling pullover—versatile, unisex, and completely easy to wear, with v-neck and crew neck options—but it also has buttons! knit flat in one piece from the bottom up, it is equally quick to knit and finishes up with just a few inches of underarm seaming and the addition of button bands.

styled with subtle knit/purl texture, raglan shaping, narrow cable details, sleek, one-by-one ribbing, and a relaxed fit, this garment is easily paired and shared with fabrics throughout your wardrobe. and of course the optional elbow patches are included in this version as well; i didn’t add them to my first sample, but i will likely add them to the one i’m knitting now.

the pattern includes nine sizes from young adult to big and tall. and the weight is just right—soft and airy in fingering or light sport yarn, it is the piece you’ll grab for again and again, making it a great choice for a natural yarn shade that will go with everything.

for my design sample, i chose our creamy-soft cooper sport, spun from springy 2-ply coopworth lambswool. this yarn explodes with life when washed, blooming to create a strong network of fibers that keep the garment from sagging—perfect for a seamless design that won’t lose its shape, even with years of wear.

i’ve a second one on the needles now in stone soup fingering (color marble) and i’m enjoying every knitting moment; as i write, i’m wearing the pullover that barb knit in this blend and i’m in love with the fabric (thank you barb!!). it’s incredibly light—about the weight of a long sleeve t-shirt, i swear—but adds just that layer of warmth i’m craving on this overcast, chilly day (i won’t scar you with a photo of my current outfit, but let’s just say it works perfectly with sweatpants and bad hair).

some other good choices for sea fret cardigan could be ghillie sock (our soft cheviot wool), patchwork fingering, festivus 4.0 sport, or elemental affects shetland fingering. it’s a great style for that single breed, heritage wool you’ve been longing to knit. it would also be luscious in chebris sport, for a cozy, retro-luxe version.

the cable detailing along the side seams and raglan lines adds definition, but it can be eliminated, as i did with david’s red pullover version by converting the raglan cable panels to stockinette and working an extra repeat of the body pattern (or garter stitch) at side seams—the stitch count is the same for an easy swap out.

want to know more about sea fret or ready to cast on NOW?

click here to purchase the pattern in our online shop and click here to to purchase the pattern on ravelry.

and don’t forget to share your sea fret progress in our bare naked wools ravelry group—bring yourself and your project for a fun, relaxing knit and chat.

sea fret pullover

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, patterns

who doesn’t love an easy to knit, multiseason, go-anywhere pullover to knit for yourself or that special other?

sea fret is all that and more—versatile, unisex, and completely easy to wear, it is sweater dressing at its most comfy. choose between v-neck and crew neck options to suit your taste or make one of each! it’s certainly a quick enough project—knit in the round from the bottom up, it moves along at a quick pace and finishes up with just a few inches of underarm seaming.

styled with raglan shaping, the fit is a little less formal and more flexible, making this a garment you can pass around and share easily. the pattern includes nine sizes from young adult to big and tall. and the weight is just right—soft and airy in fingering or light sport yarn, it is the one you’ll want to grab again and again.

subtle texture softens the fabric throughout the sweater body, making for nice transitions when using a gradient yarn such as our patchwork fingering yarn (above in light print) or festivus 4.0 sport (below in cranberry crush).

 

sea fret may also be knit in stone soup fingering (barb has one on the needles now!), cooper sport (i just finished my cardigan version in it!), ghillie sock, or elemental affects shetland fingering. it’s a great style for that single breed, heritage wool you’ve been longing to knit! i think you could even knit this in chebris sport, for a cozy, retro-luxe version.

the cable detailing along the side seams and raglan lines adds definition, but it can be eliminated easily, as i did with david’s red version—simply convert the raglan cable panels to stockinette and work an extra repeat of the body pattern (or garter stitch) at side seams—the stitch count is the same for an easy swap out.

i added optional patterned elbow patches to the plain sleeves of my v-neck version for a fun detail, also included in the pattern. whether you choose them or not is up to you, but they are a great way to protect a lightweight garment that you’ll want to live in.

want to know more about sea fret or ready to cast on NOW?

click here to purchase the pattern in our online shop and click here to to purchase the pattern on ravelry.

and don’t forget to share your sea fret progress in our bare naked wools ravelry group—bring yourself and your project for a fun, relaxing knit and chat.

as mentioned earlier, i’ve been working on a cardigan version of sea fret too! my sample in soft, luminous cooper sport yarn is complete and the pattern is on the way (click here to preview details). we are headed to the maryland sheep and wool show tomorrow and we plan to release it next week when we return. until then, if you plan to visit the show, please come see us in the main building, booth C28 to fondle the samples and have first choice of our small batch yarns. we’re looking forward to seeing you at the fair!

many thanks to our wonderful models, raina and kevin and to thor for making the photo shoot SO much fun!

the list

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, home and family, projects

every time i complete a new sweater, the last finishing task i take care of is to give it a nice bath. for the natural, undyed yarns that i love, this means a good long soak in hot soapy water—sometimes twice!—to bring back the fiber’s natural shine and springiness, dampened by spinning oil and handling. i like to wash my larger items—sweaters, blankets, large shawls, etc—in our washer’s hand wash cycle. it does a lovely job; light on the fabric yet rinsing and spinning well, so my garments are easy to reshape and dry quickly. usually when i have a new sweater ready to wash, i run around the house, pulling out several more to wash along with it and make a full load (my drying area is large enough to lay out seven or eight sweaters).

and what i’ve noticed these last couple of years is that, while i fully recognize that a good wool sweater does not need to be laundered after just a few wearings, some sweaters end up on the drying field often. because i wear them more than a little—i wear them a lot. in fact, i’m not ashamed to say there are a few that i wear several time per week and a couple that i would wear every day if i could get away with it (if i worked in a locked attic, for instance—which possibly i should). david and cardigan are fortunately quite blind to what i’m wearing so some weeks, i actually do get away with a lot, clothes-wise.

this small group of go-to garments are more than just clothing—they are friends! i don’t open my sweater drawers and ask, “what goes with the jeans/sweatpants/loungewear i’ve got on?”—i ask, “what do i feel like today; which of you will make me feel strong/comfy/happy?”. and then i choose the one i need. some of them never leave the top of the drawer.

in fact, i’ve got a list going of frequently worn sweaters that i need to knit again, if only to have a backup when i’ve worn the first too many times lately or if it’s in the wash.

#1:
my dock and cabin sweater is a good example—it’s been off the needles for about eighteen months, i’ve worn it endlessly, washed it half a dozen times at least, and and it looks as beautiful as the day i finished it. knit in good, soft, tweedy yarn (stone soup fingering, pumice), it is light but cozy, easy to wear, and incredibly durable. here’s a much nicer photo:

i want to knit another one just like it—same yarn and size, in a different shade (you know, to make it clear that i actually do change clothes once in a while).

#2:
while deep dive is a newer design that i haven’t been able to wear as long or as hard, i already know i’m going to need another. for one thing, my original sample has made its way to the shop, never to return (or at least, not for a while). it’s about to go on tour through the summer sheep and wools shows, so i likely won’t be wearing it much.

but that’s ok—i’ve been coveting one knit in stone soup fingering yarn and have gotten it on the needles in the rich, dark river rock shade. i cannot WAIT to get this one done and wear it.

those cables will be like ribbons of glossy chocolate in this black/brown tweed. ok, so i’ve only got one sleeve done, but i’m setting my sights on finishing before we leave for maryland in two weeks.

#3:
and then there is my argyll pullover, sister to the subterraneans cardigan that appeared in the fall 2017 issue of interweave knits (click here to view/purchase pattern in the interweave store), knit in stone soup fingering yarn (granite shade).

due to space restraints, they didn’t publish the pullover version along with the cardigan, but those of us who have knit it (me, barb, and cherie) consider it our current favorite. we’ve knit it in a variety of yarns and we have plans for more.

the pullover sample—which i wear very often—is knit in cozy, better breakfast fingering yarn (muesli shade); it’s the absolute perfect pullover to toss on for everyday wear. The fit is loose and casual enough to look great with sweats and jeans, but the fabric texture lends it a tailored, more formal appearance when paired with skirts and trousers.

i have three skeins of stone soup fingering yarn in slate lined up for another one of these, but would also love one knit in ghillie sock yarn. barb and i agree—when you hit on a perfect sweater, you should make at least three!

she laughs at me and my list though, because current design projects are always nudging things around. but i manage ok and i think that, by the time this design is available for general release, i can get at least one more knit, fresh for fall wearing.

#4:
ivar, short or long is another indispensable favorite (i’m wearing it now!), once again knit in stone soup fingering yarn (shown above in the slate shade, tunic length). i love this longer version to wear with soft knit pants or when it’s extra chilly around the house. this cardigan is five years old now and has nary a pill on it. as much wear as it’s seen, the elbows are not thinning nor has it lost its shape. SSF—as we lovingly call it—is truly a yarn for living in. light and breathable, yet warming; it’s wonderful stuff. and its natural shades blend with everything.

i’ve always wanted to knit another one of these for myself but then i remembered—i do have a second—this hip length ivar sample knit in better breakfast fingering (mocha shade) by my friend cherie. it’s a shop sample, but it reminds me that i like the shorter version as much as the longer one and that i don’t have a pullover, so maybe i need one of those in this length. this is down on the list a little further because i keep thinking i might just steal the store sample for myself.

#5:
but before i can spend any considerable time on any of the above, i really must complete my sea fret cardigan prototype (pullover pattern is through tech editing and almost ready for proofreading and test knitting, yay!).

i started the first sleeve last wednesday and got the cuff completed before knit night began, which left me free to coast along in stockinette stitch while chatting with friends.

based on the response as i passed my swatches around the office and the knitting group crowd, i went with our 2-ply cooper sport, which is spun from 100 percent springy, lustrous coopworth lambswool, produced by carol wagner on her wisconsin farm.

i’m excited to be knitting a garment with this yarn—i’ve knit a number of accessories with it, but never a sweater. and the sea fret cardigan is a great project for it; my aim is a light, summery wool cardigan that will transition from spring (if it ever gets here) to summer and then from summer through the fall.

but hey—it’s still snowing here (as i write this),  so if i’m quick, there will be plenty of opportunity to wear it right away. by friday i was on to sleeve number 2, which i made short work of in the few hours i had to knit over the weekend. in this case, the sleeves are knit first and end at the underarm to be picked up later and worked into the yoke.

yesterday, with my chapter deadline met and delivered, i was getting ready to go for a long walk, but cardigan was feeling lazy and decided she wanted to knit all afternoon instead, so that’s what we did. seriously—when i asked her if she wanted to go for our usual outing, she just looked at me, then at the sofa and hopped up. who could argue with that?

i plugged in my earpiece and called katharine to chat while i knitted and the dog snoozed. by the time we needed to leave for our tuesday night movie date, i was through the hem and had two pattern repeats completed. it goes SO quickly with this stitch pattern to work along with an interesting, single breed yarn.

where a springy merino yarn, with its tight, frizzy crimp, will do well on the needle size stated in the pattern, i found that i need to go down a needle size in the coopworth yarn. it’s crimp is much rounder and the fiber stiffer, so its spring manifests itself by opening the stitches up wider (think big, adult jumping jacks, compared to little kid ones). to get the same gauge and a fabric that felt equally dense, the smaller needles worked better. that’s why we do gauge swatches, right?

well, i’ve set out a pretty busy personal knitting schedule here; do you think i can do it? i’d love to have the sea fret AND the deep dive done before maryland—that’s two weeks away. and one of them is just a lone sleeve at the moment, so i force some mad knitting over the next little while. if i do manage it, maybe i can treat myself by casting on an argyll pullover as a travel project . . .

i think i’ll go knit now and watch the snow fly.