notes from the gray area

Posted on Posted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, designing, food and garden, projects


in case you haven’t seen this yet, thea colman has produced another design with bare naked wools; we love her! for her stranded two-color (+accent) hat, gray rose, thea chose to work with kent DK, then sized up by knitting also in kent worsted on bigger needles.


modeled here by her adorable daughter zoe, the DK version is shown in the tide pool and beach glass shades (but any two contrasting shades will work). a few yards of leftover DK yarn from your scrap pile to use as an accent color is all you need to round out the materials. i don’t see why you couldn’t do the centers in a variety of colors even.


we’ve created a kit with your choice of yarn weight and shades in kent—with it, you’ll be able to knit two hats if you switch the background and foreground use of color. Use code BNW for your purchase of Gray Rose via Ravelry. The offer is good until Sept. 30th with or without the purchase of yarn! Thank You, Thea!


a hat made from snuggly bare naked wools would be a most excellent holiday gift, stocking stuffer, or swap item. and two of them in one package? that’s the best of both worlds; one to keep and one to give away. the kit itself would be a terrific gift for a knitter, too.


in other news, my coat sleeves are complete. now that the september ENVY club chapter has gone out the door for this month (SO glad everyone loves this month’s green yarn and patterns so much, yay!!), i can get down to business on the sweater body, which is knit in one piece to the underarm and then split—thank goodness the yarn knits quickly at a lofty gauge on big needles.

i’m not a huge fan of sweaters worked in one piece, but in this case it makes the most sense because that gigantic twining cable will be running up the side seam area and no way would i add a seam to the middle of that drama.


the cast on last night was a struggle because i was so tired i couldn’t add the numbers right, even with my calculator in hand. but i finally got it and after that i of course knit the first row wrong—three times. well, i did go to the “i never learn” school of knitting after all . . .

i finally packed it in and will tackle it tonight. isn’t the colorway just jammin’ though?? it’s even more awesome when you can feel it. in fact, i keep stopping to admire the yarn and i’ve got to get myself to stop that if i am to knit the sweater body in a timely manner. and i don’t have a lot of time—in fact, i’m afraid if jen sees this post she will have an anxiety attack because this garment and the pattern need to be done for rhinebeck. but they will be.


well now you didn’t think my garden had just disappeared overnight did you? sigh. it is very much alive, thank you. and putting out almost more than we can handle . . . except for tomatoes.


we are getting just a medium number of tomatoes, but i have hopes that we will get as many as we need for the freezer by the time the frost hits. it’s supposed to be warm through september at least, and if it is, we should be fine.


the problem isn’t the number of actual tomatoes produced, it’s the number of edible ones we are getting. unfortunately we have many, many, gorgeous red plum tomatoes with end rot, ugh. the orange, black, and round red tomatoes seem fine, but the plums are bumming me out. the orange oxhearts and the black nguyens are just scrumptious.


we have a veritable eggplant forest with several different types—my refrigerator bin is almost full, just waiting for me to have a few spare hours to cook ratatouille and some curry.


our greens and swiss chard are just phenomenal—i don’t think we’ve ever had such a good year for greens and i hope now we have it down because this is my favorite vegetable. we’ve been eating them almost every day.


and i know you are just dying for a shot of the green beans because there can never be too many of those so here you go! this is another vegetable we’ve been eating nearly every day—and gladly—but i could use some fresh inspiration for cooking them; how about some recipe ideas? (nothing with gluten flours please!)


we have all sorts of peppers coming back now that the weather has cooled a bit (they took a break during that hot, dry period we had in august). these purple island peppers are so yummy—they have a cool, sweet citrusy flavor and are lime green inside; great for salads or eating raw.


i took a chance on this chocolate pepper but so far this is the only fruit it has produced. it’s chocolate alright, but i don’t know yet what it tastes like and i don’t know if i’ll find out—it’s already softening on the one side.


the little salad/power greens patch that i planted while david was away is doing well; i need to make time this weekend to get out and thin the seedlings. we will be clipping baby greens in a few days i think.


and some of the new beet and spinach greens are ready now. time to get out there and do some trimming. plus there are baby leaves to be culled all the time from the bases of the big chard plants. we will have a nice weekly supply for quite a while, if we get enough rain to keep them sweet.


the funny old celeriac is maturing nicely; we have about a half dozen of these fascinating roots this year. i love their flavor in so many dishes; it adds a great dimension to soups made from pureed root vegetables.

i don’t have a photo of my gigantic butternut squashes, but i’m so bummed—they were so gorgeous and blemish free until today, when i see they each have little bites taken out by some nasty critter (probably a skunk). don’t be skeeved out, but i’m thinking i might just take them in and cut off the parts that are nipped (with a very big margin, i promise). i hate to see such big beautiful winter squash go to waste. does anyone else do this and is it ok??

the squirrels have been stealing tomatoes i know, but i don’t think the are the culprits behind this; i think it’s something bigger—a “squash buckling” skunk or possum, possibly a raccoon. ugh, disgusting.


thank heavens for flowers. this is my alkanet plant that i bought at wooster in may as a little sprite of a thing. david had to move it to a pot because it was taking over his poppy bed.


it doesn’t seem to have cramped its style any, hehe.


ok, now we have a couple of exciting things coming up for you in the next couple of days. on friday we will release my new atlantique pattern—a cool top with a pretty buttoned neck finish to knit in hempshaugh lace. wear alone or with layers; with sleeves or without.

and with the way the weather is heading, we’re going to want one of these for a while yet.


erica has put together a kit with yarn and pattern; quantities are limited, so don’t dilly dally if you’ve got your heart set on this one (i don’t mean to sound pushy; we really don’t have all that much of this yarn—it’s popular!). i believe we are restocking as fast as we can, but the laceweight is spun in very small batches; we can only get a certain amount each month.


and THEN on monday, our friend carol feller will be contributing a guest blog to tell you about her new book—short row knits. she’s going to discuss some strategies for dealing with fear of short rows and techniques for making your short rows look their best.

and you never know, there just might be a book giveaway . . . actually i have it on good authority that there definitely will be one—spread the word!

alright now, off to get that atlantique pattern up and write a post about it. see you soon.


13 thoughts on “notes from the gray area

  1. Love the sleeves of your new sweater design and can’t (hardly tho I must) wait to see the rest of it! Love your tomatoes, but that’s a drag about the end rot on the plum toms. I have one skein of the lace. Maybe I’d better skip over and wee if there is one more..

  2. Yes, absolutely, keep those squash. They will be fine. If you leave them out, the skins will probably even heal over. Something used to taste my winter squash–probably a deer–and they always had to taste each one, in case they were different!

    I have a great recipe for green beans and large limas, fried until crusty, with lemon and caramelized onions. I think it’s by Heidi Swanson, or maybe Martha Rose Schulman–I’ll go look.

  3. The hat looks like a great way to use the remains of my Blanket Statement, but I’m most excited about the new Vesta pattern…I think I’ve rounded up enough extra skeins from last year’s STF club to be ready to cast on as soon as the pattern is available!

  4. Eat those squash! Just cut out the bad parts – I just did this with some celery I bought that hadn’t gone bad but had strange gray dings in it. It was fine. I don’t have a garden myself, but the only thing no animal ever eats was, back in my childhood, Jerusalem artichokes, and they wouldn’t make a good steady diet. I live in upper Manhattan (193rd Street, near the Cloisters) and we have a lot of skunks here. A lot. of skunks. I thought it might interest you. Love the new blouses with their short row shaping. Gorgeous, and nice to see them on different bodies, too.

  5. Definitely eat the squash! I have done the same thing with squash and other produce nibbled by animals.

    Great T-shirt sweater! That collar with the buttons is an amazing detail.

  6. I like green beans sauteed in a pan with a handful of walnuts – then, at the end, turn off the heat, toss in a handful of blue cheese crumbles, and stir until melty.

    Do you have a food dehydrator? I’ve also had dried green beans (and snap peas) as a crunchy snack, though I’ve never made them myself.

    Eat the squash! (We’re all thrifty and adventurous around here *grin*)

  7. If you have a Dollar store near you, go there and buy a big bottle of those Italian red pepper flakes you see in the pizza shops. Sprinkle them lightly around the base of your plants or in your flower pots. The critters don’t like a hot snout! I’ve had good luck with this keeping the chipmunks out of my pots. You can also make a spray of hot peppers by chopping some in your food processor, steeping in hot water, strain and bottle then spray onto things like tomatoes or peppers. It does have to be reapplied after heavy rain although there is an element of aversion therapy here ‘cuz some of them seem to remember the hots and avoid the plant.

  8. One of my favorite green bean recipes is a salad “Green Bean Salad with Feta” to be found at It combines green beans. lettuce, feta cheese, fennel seeds, and dried cranberries (optional) with a dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and orange juice

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