fun always starts with chocolate

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


it’s as good a place to start as any, isn’t it?

last time i posted, it was to release my vendange coat design (wow—you all sure like that one!) and so much has come to pass since then. let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

as you know, i planned to wear my new chebris coat as my rhinebeck sweater but i wanted to show off the yarn at its very best and for that, it needed a good bath.


so once i’d confirmed that we had a good number of usable photos, i filled the sink and settled it in to soak. normally , was all sweaters in mesh bags in the hand wash cycle of our machine, but being very last minute with this one, i didn’t want to chance anything. hand washing it was. well, it really needed that bath; i actually washed it twice and rinsed it several times until the water ran clear and the fiber sparkled in the light. totally worth the effort (and i will be experimenting with machine washing in the future for several reasons).


because i did not spin out the piece in the machine, the fabric was a little soggier than i’m used to and took extra time to dry in our damp, rainy weather last week. to keep it looking its best i turned it several times, shaking and fluffing the fabric to aerate it; this improved the loft, encouraged the yarn to bloom, and help speed the drying. still, it was slightly damp when i packed it for my trip.

meanwhile, i had to get ready for the arrival of kimkimkim on wednesday; she would be flying in and laying over before continuing to rhinebeck with our knitspot caravan. david had decided to save his birthday celebration for her visit so i had a lot to do on tuesday and wednesday, with requests for a thai dinner and a chocolate fudge cake.


i woke up early on wednesday to get started on the million things i had to do to be ready for the trip. by 11 am my cakes were in the oven and rising nicely—i live in fear of cake not rising, let me tell you. i was especially nervous about this gluten free recipe because it was the first time i’d used it (in fact, i had not attempted any cake yet with gluten free flour), but everything went swimmingly (ok maybe it rose a little too fast for some reason, but that was a minor blip).


when they came out they remained a nice, even height and were springy; beautiful.


next it was time for frosting and i made our favorite from nigella lawson (her fudge cake is our wheat flour favorite). it turned out perfectly glossy and smooth, just the right consistency for making luscious fudge frosting swirls.


when i baked as a kid, my favorite part was frosting the cake; i used to pretend i was filming a betty crocker commercial when i did it, haha. i must have done ok because my mom eventually put me in charge of swirling the frosting on every cake.


while the cakes were cooling, i made a trip to the garden to pick the vegetables for supper—the garden was on its last legs for most items, but i still managed a nice haul (and there were a few pounds of green beans too!).

david took over when it was time for me to go pick up kim from the airport. after a stop at waggoner’s for chocolates (a must), we turned up back at the house to celebrate birthdays with david and beckie.


dinner and cake were a hit and it was just so great to have us all around the table together once again; i LOVE this way of kicking off our annual rhinebeck adventure.

i had hoped to get to bed early because there was a full day of driving ahead of us, but after dinner i still had to knit a little headband sample—yes, really. we have put together sampler kits to introduce knitters to our DK yarns, which include a free pattern for a slip stitch headband to knit in several DK colors of better breakfastkent, and stone soup.


and so it was (with absolute horror, mind you) that i ended up modeling for a photo at 2 am. never again, haha. and we WILL get a better photo ASAP.

the next day at 7:30 sharp, we headed out—kim joined me in the van, loaded with our popup shop and barb drove behind with kiran. we yakked and yakked all the way there; how i’ve missed spending time with kim!


for the short time i sat in the passenger seat, i managed to find something of interest to photograph.


we arrived at our rental home just before dark and were thrilled to find anne marie already there and the house warmed up, with supplies laid in—she’s the best.


not only was in beautiful, clean, and spacious inside but the view all around was of woodsy, natural, quiet—just what the doctor ordered (uh, not that we intended to keep quiet during our stay, haha)


it was quintessential catskills living; we were immediately comfortable and looking forward to the rest of the weekend. we ran out for a quick bite and then back to the house to settle in and knit for the evening.


i had two projects to focus on during my trip (and an emergency third in case i got stuck on both of those; it would be tragic to be out of knitting at any time this weekend). i’ll tell you more about this one in a little bit . . . but i will say now that i’m knitting with kent DK and once again rediscovering how much i love this yarn—so springy, so squishy, so light!


the next day was a big one, so we headed to bed on the early side. first up in the morning was a trip to the fairgrounds to drop off patterns with chris at briar rose fibers, where chris was showing samples of mayan puzzle, the mister’s, and pedal pusher (among others) in her booth over the weekend.


as we walked through the fairgrounds, there was much oohing and aahhing over the foliage, which we had all to ourselves temporarily.


and then bring barb’s vendange jacket sample to jen at spirit trail. this one is knit in her vesta worsted yarn in the signature vendange colorway, soon to be available on her website. isn’t jen stunning in it? i love how happy she looks. this is the same sample modeled by emily in our release photos.


afterward it was time for lunch and we drove down to the CIA to meet up with more friends for a good meal.


it was quite chilly and windy that day, but the sun shone (rare for a rhinebeck friday), so our spirits were high.


because of friday afternoon and evening events, we didn’t have time to dine in one of the restaurants but we enjoyed the apple pie bakery instead. after all, the food is just to take the edge off and prepare our bellies for dessert . . .

of which we each ordered at least two (i won’t say how many kim and barb had, haha). i couldn’t eat mine but i bagged it up and took it home for alter, when it was equally delicious.


in the garden out front, we were photographed by a passer by before heading off to kingston to set up our first shop event of the weekend.


i’m so glad my phone camera was fixed in the nick of time before our trip; i’d been living without for about a month and jouncing to take pictures of everything i saw.


i love this one; i don’t know why.


at the best western, we unloaded the truck and set to work right quick, not sure how long it would take. with so many hands on deck (thank you kiran, kim, anne marie, and barb!), we had ourselves a beautiful booth in no time.


vendange in chebris worsted stood front and center; it was a crowd pleaser all night long. our blanket rack also drew lots of attention—it’s that time of year when everyone’s thoughts turn to warm cuddly items that are quick to knit—and we have plenty of those.


i just love seeing all the shades of our yarns smooshed into our show booths; it’s a good chance for me to see them in combinations that are different than we arrange in our shop at home.


by 4:30, the vendors started circulating to visit each other’s booths and do a little private shopping—after that, our booth was banging all night, packed with people (many of whom came back twice!). it was a heady, vibrant experience to be in the middle of it, i gotta tell you.


i just love meeting and chatting with our customers, helping them pick colors and fibers, discussing whether this design or that will be right. this is the only photo i managed to get after we opened but in my mind, i have many more equally affectionate snapshots.

back at the house afterward, we all gathered around the table to eat and rehash the evening over homemade soup, cheeses, and bread. it was a great event for us and we were thrilled to take part once again—thank you indie untangled!


i relaxed back after eating and cast on for my new project in kent DK. i want to tell you all about it, but this post is going to be really long anyway, so i’ll just tease you for now and tell you more next week, ok?


saturday was fair day and since it wasn’t a work day for me, i was able to cruise the show all day—which i hadn’t done for a few years.


first on my list was to hit up the fleece sale in search of dark mohair for our chebris and cabécou yarn lines. dark goat fiber is hard to get and we are in need (in case any of you knows a good resource). i had hoped to get there when the gate opened but we got waylaid when we ran into friends. after, kiran and i made a beeline for the fleece corral.

thankfully there were several choices left in our price range (many fleeces were completely outside of our budget; mohair has gone up so much in price!). i was doubly thankful to see that the ones i could afford were also bearing show ribbons—a great sign. no first place fleeces left, but i did get reds, yellows, and whites. i’m not an expert at choosing fleece so this is helpful to me.


by the time we got through the line and paid, it was nearly 11 am and with a little time to spare before our knitspot meetup, kiran and i headed over to see the animals.

in typical rhinebeck fashion, there was much affection exhibited, haha.


we were especially interested to visit the pens of pinxterbloom farm, where john frett raises the goats who grow fleece for our mohair yarn blends. these are a couple of new kids; just look at their lustrous locks.


i think goats are the most adorable and vivacious of all the fiber animals—i love to watch them run around and play in their bouncy way. just my opinion . . .


as luck would have it, john was showing a little red just when we arrived at the arena—just look at that bright red hair!


the fleece of the red and brown goats fades quickly as they mature, so it’s a special product. when we can get it, we use the brown and red hair for our champagne shade of cabécou brillant.

now it was time to head over for our knitspot picnic meetup, the annual event at which participants drive decked out in knitspot designs that they’ve knit throughout the year, ready to catch up with one another as we indulge in a pot luck lunch—everyone has to eat at some point, right?


there was cherie of the famous banana cake, wearing her gorgeous eve in eden shawl, the first project of our ENVY club this fall.


and judi in her lake effect sweater (design by amy miller), knit in BNWs better breakfast fingering yarn (warm coals shade). judi showed up at RB this year sporting several extremely flattering sweaters; i think we all agree that she gets the 2015 prize for beautifully fitted garments!


josée found a mister’s cardigan twin; both knit in briar rose joyful. i WISH i could remember the name of the lady on the left, who was incredibly excited about her sweater—how well it fit, how comfortable and stylish she feels when she wears it; it was so nice to bask for a few minutes in her infectious enthusiasm.

she ran up the hill and right toward me to show it off, so excited! if you are reading this, i’m sorry about forgetting your name!!


donna was explaining to me how she would knit the jacket length vendange because the long version would never look good on her. i made her try mine on and took a photo. is it me, or was donna out of her mind to think she can’t wear this?

i think we cleared up that little misunderstanding for her . . . never make assumptions.


we did another swap this year and some really beautiful knits were passed around as gifts. i think everyone really outdid themselves this year, which is so heartwarming.


i received a gorgeous frillibet, one of my favorite shawls. i always meant to knit another in a color that goes with more of my wardrobe, but now my swap partner—hattie—has done it for me in a woolen rabbit lace yarn! the color is amazing; it’s perfect for me. and i didn’t have anything this color in a small shawl.


after the meetup i realized i hadn’t eaten anything yet that day so i split an order of french fries with barb. it is my policy to eat french fries almost every day when i travel; i like to try them out wherever i go. barb agrees this is a good policy (and these i might add, were very well made using tasty fresh potatoes).

i think i’m going to stop here for today—the end of saturday is a great place to break. i have to get ready because we have our friend janelle martin visiting our shop this weekend to present a trunk show and talk about her work. we’ll also be having a yarn tasting tonight and tomorrow in conjunction with that event, as well as casting on for a new KAL of her mountain peaks stole design. if you live in the area, please join us!


13 thoughts on “fun always starts with chocolate

  1. Anne,
    I always love your Rhinebeck posts. Thanks for letting those who can’t attend, be a part of it.

  2. Your cake should be in the Betty Crocker ad–mouth watering! Both you and Donna look smashing in the Vendage coat–it’s definitely my favorite! Your cabin house looked so inviting and filled with all things good–great friends, wonderful goods and KNITTING!

  3. Oh, hooray, I’ve been waiting and hoping for your Rhinebeck post…it all looks like so much fun. Thanks for sharing forthose of us who can’t make it to the event!

  4. Absolutely love this picturefull post! All the different sweaters and shawls from Knitspot are great!

  5. Oh, that’s Sara Bench. She’s one of our lovely customers at Natural Stitches! We are sharing the love of your sweater patterns and how well they fit.

    I don’t know if Yvonne told you I was felled by a migraine on Saturday, but I was so bummed at missing the day and seeing you all. My Leaving sweater turned out terrifically thanks to your help!

  6. Loved this post, Anne. Everything about it made me happy. So great to see the RB pictures and the pop up shop. I’m glad you had so many people stop by and enjoy your yarns. Loved seeing the big smile on your face. You looked like you were having such a great time.

  7. Wow, you’ve been busy! I just adore the length on the sweater coat, and really, short or long, that pattern seems to look amazing on EVERYONE. So glad you like the shawl, the color really does look great on you! I now need to go see if I have ingredients for chocolate cake cuz i’m drooling over here…

Comments are closed.