in bits and pieces

Posted on Posted in designing, food and garden, projects

with several traveling projects all set to go for my upcoming san diego trip, i took the last few days to do some swatching for future projects to begin when i get back.

(my coffee table always looks a mess when i’m on a swatching tear—piled with yarns and charts, needles all over the place. not that’s it’s SO much neater at other times . . .)

i’ve had several yarns lined up to work with and many ideas zinging around in my head for a while—after a bit, the noise just gets to be too much and i feel the need to create some order, you know? so, away we went.

i’m not one to necessarily play with yarn in the order i receive it. rather, i like to square away the most solid ideas first. when i saw jennifer’s sunna merino/cashmere/silk fingering yarn at MDS&W last week, i knew it was exactly the yarn i’d been hunting for a certain project that’s been marinating in my head for some time. let’s back up just a little . . .

remember the hayrick socks? i love these socks—ever since i knit the first leg of the first one, i’ve wanted to create a vintage sweater shirt in this stitch pattern and rib combination. just the fronts in the pattern and the rest in stockinette, with ribbed edges and collar—something akin to this, but different color, texture, etc. and probably no pocket (at least, not there).

can you see it?

anyway, finding the yarn was a challenge—when i first began the hayrick pattern, i had the same issue; namely, the yarn needed to be lightweight and soft, but have a bouncy twist to provide great stitch definition for this subtle stitch pattern. oh, and not too colorful or contrasty—the motif can’t stand up to that. and something with a bit of luxury would be nice to wear next to the skin (but truly, a bonus).

so for the sweater, i wanted all that, PLUS i wanted a slightly heavier yarn. but not too heavy; i wanted to pump up the scale of the texture just a little.
oh, and forget about forgetting it—this sweater idea kept nagging at me and nagging at me; it wasn’t letting go. i kept my eyes peeled all winter for something suitable and was just about to settle for something else, when jennifer lured me into her booth at the fair and pressed several skeins of sunna into my hands

along with a couple of skeins of birte, its DK equivalent.

i knew the hand of the yarn was what i was looking for; i couldn’t wait to try it out. after clearing my desk of all manner of chores for the first part of the week and getting my travel knitting in order, i set about on thursday night to wind up the yarns and cast on

the first thing i did was swatch the sunna in the most-likely-to work colorway, ancient stones. i love everything about these swatches—the luxurious hand of the fabric, the stitch definition, the color, the weight, the incredibly consistent stockinette (that’s important in this piece)—everything is just what i’ve been looking for.

isn’t it yummy??
then i washed the swatches and was even more impressed.

first of all, even when it was sopping wet, the swatch remained consistent and elastic, with great recovery—i mean real BOING factor, you know? i don’t even know how many time i’ve seen that before.

and the stockinette texture? shut UP.
that fabric is so worthy of being a design feature. i was totally sold—this is the yarn. but . . .

there were four other colorways and you know i wasn’t going to leave those stones unturned . . . so more swatching ensued. seriously, i was going to stop after my three most-likely-to-succeed colors—i was. but then i thought of you and how you’d want to see it all, so i kept going.

i was dying to see the rosewood and green velvet colorways knit up; i had a feeling they’d work really well, too. these i had only in the birte DK weight so that gave me a chance to know for sure whether the heavier yarn was out.

it is equally yummy, but alas, too heavy—the scale of the motif and bulk of this fabric is just wrong for a shirt, but i adore these two rich colors. i am going to have a tough choice in choosing between the three.

(secretly, this green velvet colorway is my very favorite with its hints of aqua and gold, and the red is to die for, but i think the ancient stones is more “vintage”. oh damn, i love all three and want one of each; what a pig!)

i had two more colors in sunna fingering that i liked a lot in the skein, but suspected they’d have too much contrast for the motif to shine through.

sure enough, connemorra and acadia did not work well with the stitch pattern, which responds better to a very subtle approach; they’ll be better for another accessory or sock design.

and don’t even ask me how many different needle sizes i tried—it’s important to get it just so; i wanted nice stitch definition, but soft drape as well (since it’s a shirt), so i played with needles a lot.

when i get back from vacation, i’ll figure out the garment design and start the sweater sometime in the next month. as long as i know it’s ready to go, i can begin any time. i always pictured this as a shirt which buttons form hem to neck, but after wearing the henley and loving it, i’m considering another placket front. we can vote on that if you want . . .

now, that’s just the swatching i did for one project—wanna see the others?

i LOVE this one—just love it. this is the yarn for the next baby blanket; MCN luxury from fearless fibers, a delicious merino/cashmere/nylon blend in the chastity colorway. is this not the most cheerful color combo? i have to smile every time i look down at it in my hands.

in fact, i was a teensy bit concerned that i’d chosen to go with too much color, but when i see it knit up, i’m ga-ga over it—it has a wonderful, over-the-top, jump-for-joy feeling. how could a baby wrapped in these colors not be happy?

i can’t wait to start knitting this project; it’s going to be my sunshine knitting. i’m playing with rosebud motifs here, tossed across the surface, but i’ve not really discovered anything i love to put with them (that eyelet motif on the bottom of the swatch is definitely out; i don’t like those textures together).

as soon as i hit on the right story, this is going on the needles. karolyn already has the same yarn in the meadow colorway for a test knit in a greeny yellow that’s equally cheerful.

i haven’t washed the swatch yet, because i need to try out some more stitches, but the hand of the fabric is lovely—soft and dense with lots of body (as you can see) which translates to excellent stitch definition. this surprised me a bit because the yarn is so soft, but i’m impressed enough to try it on a bigger needle, even—if successful, this will reduce the weight of the blanket, which is important to me.

quite a while back, i showed some preliminary swatching for a new lace shawl and now that i have the actual yarn in hand—kami from fiber isle—i’m working on swatching that too. this is actually the project i’d like to get on the needles first, but which is a bit more challenging to compose and requires more concentration.

the yarn is gorgeous—a bison/bamboo/merino blend in antique pink, and like all of sylvie’s other yarns, perfectly engineered to make beautiful lace.
i had to rechart part of that other composition, then reknit it all. i knit a little bit and then realized i needed to start over. so this is the only swatch photo i have so far . . . it takes a lot longer to knit these lace swatches than it does to knit the sweater ones, hehe. more on this process coming soon.

late night TV demands something much less exciting and taxing than swatches, so i’ve made some progress on my port ludlow sock. it occurred to me that the beach would be a fantastic place to photograph the finished pair, so i’m putting a move on this project over the next couple of days. i figure that between TV tonight, class tomorrow, and a long plane ride tomorrow night, i might be nearly done with them by the time we get to san diego. and hopefully, kim will be able to get them on for a nice photo shoot at the tide pools.

parts of my studio have appeared on the hall landing; i think this means that they are on their way to the garage for stripping and sanding. i stopped in on my work room the other night for the first time in months and found that david has the skim coat of plaster applied everywhere and is about to start on the finish coat. he was staring transfixed at the ceiling, wondering if he should start (this was at around 10 pm and it takes eight hours to do). i told him, you know, maybe not . . . why don’t you do the all-nighter while i’m away? so he took out the windows and trim for refurbishing instead.

the room is a big white box right now—holy moly it looks twice the original size, with the ceiling raised and the walls fixed. it’s much further along than i thought, but then i haven’t been home much lately. i would have taken photos this morning but he has it sealed off.

it’s turned cold again and mostly drizzly, but i have a few garden photos to share, like these of the painted ferns, freshly spreading out their feathers.

with all the rain we’ve had, the beds have almost completely filled in—so much more vegetation than a month ago

the last of the fiddleheads has yet to uncurl; haha, it’s gotten a little stuck in this position for the last day or two, which i find hilarious

they launched up and out in a crazy race during last week’s warm days, then stopped dead when it turned cold. but soon . . .

kris dropped these tomato plants off a week ago and i think they’ve doubled in size since then. i hate to leave them much longer before planting, but you never know. and the biodynamic calendar says to put them in on the 21st, so that’s my plan.
i may go out there this afternoon to put in some cool-weather plantings, like the chard and leeks and parsley. it looks somewhat sunny, but it feels cold and i’m a wimp about working in the dirt when it’s cold. maybe i’ll just wait.

maybe i’ll just work on getting my suitcase packed and a pan of curry going . . . doesn’t that sound so much more appealing?

42 thoughts on “in bits and pieces

  1. Exciting swatches! I love the Hayrick pattern. I made a pair of Hayricks from Fearless Fibers MCN and they are so lush. I am anxiously awaiting the Port Ludlow pattern as well. I have several yarns (more MCN too) that I think will work well for it. Have a great trip!

  2. I really ought to do swatches, just to see such an art form, and such memories.

    Not swatches, little squares of memory.

  3. Oh “Ancient Stones”……… still my heart!!!!!!!!!!!!! Safe journeys and have fun in San Diego (just a reminder……not that far from Portland!!!)….ok, I’ll stop!

  4. All those pretty yarns! I particularly like the Fearless Fibers Chastity colorway. So very happy!

    Enjoy your vacation.

  5. Wow, it’s so interesting to see how you plan a project, and very intense! The yarn colors are all so yummy too. I also like Ancient Stones a lot. Happy travels and knitting for vacation!

  6. oh my anne, the swatches are just so enticing! and i don’t know which is more gorgeous, the kami swatch or the ferns in your garden!!
    such a mother’s day treat to behold.

  7. I can’t decide which I like more, the Ancient Stones colorway or the ferns in the garden.

    Have a lovely trip to the beach. 🙂

  8. so many exciting things coming down the pike! the kami looks great, and i love those little rosebuds in the baby blanket. that chastity colorway is just stunning!

  9. I love the Hayrick socks and cannot wait to see the sweater! The swatches are really whetting my appetite (ancient stone soup anyone?).

  10. I can’t wait for this sweater…..I love the stitch!! Of course I love all your sweaters:) and socks and etc etc etc Your the best.

  11. Love your pile o’swatches…. we planted our veggies yesterday; much warmer here in No. CA.

  12. Wonderful post! I love this insight into your design process and the yarn reviews – more please! How do I get past the notion that swatches waste my very precious handpainted yarns???
    P.S. Love Ancient Stones – adore Green Velvet but not for your stitch pattern.

  13. So fun to see the swatches–that ancient stones colorway was my favorite when I saw the original photo of the skeins. Have a great trip to San Diego!

  14. The kami yarn is so lovely and delicate. I’m looking forward to seeing where you will take it. So, David is as productive as you! What a powerhouse couple you are where projects are concerned! It will be fun to see what he’s done while you’re in San Diego. Have a wonderful trip!

  15. Oh my WORD I love that yarn too! And the Hayrick pattern on a sweater? I’m going to have to become a quick student of sweater knitting! LOVE!

  16. Looks like another ‘must have’ sweater coming up! Love the ancient stones colourway.

    I just gave my Sprossling to my mother for her birthday, so I still don’t have a completed Anne Hanson sweater for myself. She put the sweater on immediately and didn’t take it off for the rest of the evening – I think it’s a hit!

  17. Anne….all of us who purchase your patterns appreciate all the effort you go through to make them just right. It was amazing to see it all laid out like that. Thanks for all that hard work!!! It’s worth it to us.

  18. Oh, you betcha I’ll be ready to put those socks on!!! : ) Can’t wait to see you and Beckie. The cabana is ready, and the kids are excited. Hermione is anxious to meet you both.

  19. You never cease to amaze me Anne. The baby blanket is going to be so pretty, I love the idea of the sweater shirt, definitely the Ancient Stones colorway and that lace swatch with the Kami… I definitely can’t wait for that one! Hope you have a great trip and everyone has their Sprosslings with them and then there should be a group shot!

  20. The yarn isall so beautiful, wish I had seen it at the festival last weekend but alas I was on a mission for other yarn and never found what I was looking for.

    Your tomatoes are doing great. Did you happen to get any of the old heirloom ones at the festival last weekend? I picked up 6-7 different ones. Can’t wait for them to fruit.

  21. I have some of that Kami, it’s lovely isn’t it? I’ve been saving it for my trip to belgium – I am going to make an icarus shawl with it, it’s going to be my brainless travel knitting. Twinings is going to be plane knitting – I bought the pattern eons ago and never made it – hopefully by the time I get back I”ll have two shawl at least halfway done, but I may be overestimating the amount of time I’ll actually be able to knit. 🙂

    I love the swatch for the shirt, beautiful, and the red is just gorgeous!

    Have a safe & fun trip!

  22. Thanks for sharing your process, Anne. It makes me appreciate your incredible patterns all the more. Looking forward to seeing this sweater develop. (And seeing what you might do with the Green Velvet colorway!)

  23. Look at all those wonderful swatches!!! Wow! The color of the ‘ancient stones’ is almost irridescent! I love it. And the up and coming baby blanket…lovely.

    That painted fern is stunning! I’ve never seen one like that before. There is so much going on in your garden now…how fun is that?!

    I think a photoshoot at the beach of your Port Ludlow socks would be perfect! I can’t wait to see!!

  24. I am constantly amazed by your sense of design, your vision. I learned to knit when I was 5, at my mother’s side. My grandmother crocheted beautiful lace. I’ve corresponded with you before – I’m from Utica, NY, not very far from your home in Albany. I figure we are of an age, and we share similar backgrounds. I look forward to reading your blog every day. I dream of recreating a life surrounded by fiber as you have done so sucessfully. I have been teaching English for 25 years. I’m still enjoying it, but I long for a change. To have a blog, to concoct patterns and teach as you do – it seems like my dream come true. Any advice on starting a blog as a first step? I’ve already done some teaching, and I sell my pieces in some fine art shows in the area.

  25. I bought a skein of Sunna at Rhineck (Mary and I stalked some poor woman who had the one last skein in the colorway I wanted until she put it down). I made a Rivolo out of it and wore it to death this winter. I will definitely be loitering in that booth again this year – so worth the wait in line!

  26. OK, I love that sweater swatch!! The colorway is to die for, and I really love the design idea (placket, yes). And that lace. Mmm…. Wow.

    Can’t wait to see you out here!

  27. Oh! That Sunna is gorgeous! I can see how it would be tricky to decide which of those colors to go with. Fun to see all the swatches! That’s going to be a very cool sweater.

  28. The swatches are lovely. The ancient stones colourway brings to mind Constable’s Stonehenge. This possibly because the colours in the swatch reminds me of the colours of the threads I used to make a cross-stitch picture of the watercolour.

  29. Your idea for the new sweater sounds great – looking to seeing it. Lovely subtle grey colour but I like the red too.

  30. Great read today (though I enjoy all of your posts). And how you manage to make a swatch interesting is amazing! You make every swatch take life and your explanations are great. This new sweater design sounds interesting, too.

    Have fun in San Diego and tell David not to work too hard.

  31. As a beginning designer, I gained so much from this post, not the least of which is to trust my own instincts. What lovely swatches! I have a swatch day planned for this week too, but I want to wait until the sun comes out so I can really see the colors.

  32. Hi Anne,
    I now see why you love swatching so much. Love the ideas running around in your head and look forward to seeing where they lead. I may never become the dedicated swatcher that you are but I may decide I need to do a few more in the future. Hope to see you in Portland next year. Alice R

  33. i love it all! i actually loved the fearless fibers yarn so much, i ordered some right away, and it arrived yesterday.

    swatching is a great thing. i learned that eventually.

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