view from the front window—a flock of startled frost birds taking flight from a snow bank. while the sky is bright and clear, the temps here have fallen to a new low. brrr, deep winter is here.
on one of the last “warm” days before the extreme cold hit and the ground froze solid, i managed to harvest the very last crop from our garden—parsnips! i love the flavor of parsnips when added to soups, mashed potatoes, and roast vegetable dishes, but they are extremely hard to find in our local stores. it’s good to leave them in the ground til after the hard frost, but that means most years they end up buried under snow. supposedly, you can leave them in til spring but when i’ve done that, they succumb to sodden rot. this year we finally have some decent ones—a small crop, but plenty for the dishes i’d like to make with them. and the day after i dug them, it snowed—a LOT.
cold as it is, our hearts are full and warm—all because of YOU. our red scarf scholarship fundraiser has come to a close for this year and we are super excited to report that we have broken all previous records!!
the final tally even made cardigan sit up straight. thank you one and all who participated in our best effort yet; we really appreciate every single purchase that led to our success this year and from the bottom of our hearts, we applaud you.
we will be funding a new student this year because jelissa is graduating—thanks to our last scholarship, she was able to enroll in all the classes she needed to finish her degree.
tina rasheem, our contact at foster care to success, always searches for a student who will major in an area that fits our own mission; whenever possible she matches our scholarship to a fashion, art, or writing student. i can’t wait to break the news to her about this year’s scholarship and hear about the recipient she decides on. we usually find out during the summer and we’ll be sure to keep you updated!
we really enjoyed the new format of our fundraiser this year too and i think you did as well; hopefully we can continue next year with a similar program. of course, we are always open to ideas to keep it fresh and fun, so let me know if you think of something brilliant! one reader has already requested that we include a doggie sweater or jacket and now that i know how much cardigan loves an outer layer, i am tossing ideas around.
speaking of the little vixen, while she certainly loves to curl up with a blanket next to me as i knit, she still likes her outdoor walks, which necessitates a whole new level of layering up for winter, haha. i am used to vigorous exercise in the coldest temperatures, but did not have warm enough things for the “walk a little, then stop to sniff” pace of our four legged princess. nor did i have much in the way of waterproof gear—a must when one needs to get out EVERY day, no matter what’s falling from the sky. and my boots, though very warm, were an absolute danger for walking on icy streets (there is no mandate here for clearing walks and hence, very few people do it).
plus, it’s been the winter of winters here this year—temperatures well below freezing for weeks on end now and lots of snow, the howl of wind constantly playing in the background. this is the time of year when a sunny day (or even hour) is rare anyway, but skies heavy with snow make it worse.
i managed to find some icebug boots with a removable web of cleats on sale that are so light and flexible, i can actually walk pretty fast in them when necessary. also, a knee-length water- and windproof down coat was located at a deep discount which i grabbed. it’s basically a big puffy sleeping bag with arms, but it works very well and now i’m never cold or wet. i use a two layer system for my hands that i learned from bike riding—thin liner gloves under polar fleece mittens—that works like a charm.
and then i still have to dress the dog, haha! puffy down vest and cowl for her, easy to slip on in a hurry even when she’s doing the pee-pee dance. yes, it takes forever to get out the door, but it’s usually well worth it. still, i’m always happy to walk back into the warm house and put my hands on some wool yarn, hehe.
we had an absolutely lovely christmas holiday, how about you? our house was very, very quiet with just ourselves and it was a wonderful respite. we all received gifts, both funny and touching—just enough to make it feel like a holiday but not so much that we don’t know where to put it all. i love everything i received and all of it very useful; many of our gifts have already been pressed into service around here, yay.
cardigan got a jaw reconstruction and a new bed from us and many thoughtful gifts from kimkimkim, my sister, katharine, and barb.
a box of goodies even arrived after christmas from katharine, full of tasty treats and notions.
this cashmere yarn is SO luscious, it quickly moved to the top of my queue; i’ve had my eye on the yarn from this company for a while and with this extreme cold, i know i can use another pair of fingerless mitts to wear for computer work. i’m finally kind of in small project mode (i know; WAY too late for gift knitting, oh well) and i’ve been on a bit of a kick for making fingerless mitts, so i will likely make these next.
as soon as i finish my lacunae hat.
which has been mostly languishing, though i’ve made a little progress since i last shared—i think i’m just about to the point where i can start the top decreases and from there it’s a quick finish. so what’s my problem? i really need this hat, too; i don’t know why it’s taking so long.
well, perhaps spoon feeding the dog is cutting into my knitting time (ya think?), but again, totally worth it. i would have missed a golden opportunity for bonding if it hadn’t fallen in my lap to do it. more on that in the next post—cardigan has lots of news to share. she knows that some of you are anxious to hear from her.
we did do some christmas gift knitting, if after the fact a bit. i had it in my mind for a while that i wanted to make something for our friend ramona (founder of JJs ruff roads), who spends hour upon hour out in the cold, helping lost dogs find their way back home. she doesn’t even know what knitting is really (she thought it was nearly the same as quilting), but i knew she’d enjoy some warm, handmade things. fingerless mitts are a perfect gift for her and a hat to go with them that actually fits (she is tiny and has a small head, like me).
i dug deep into my stash to pull out the last few skeins of black mission falls 1824 wool that i’d been hoarding for the perfect person. this is a lovely, soft yarn that makes lush, bouncy fabric which is also machine washable and even dryer friendly. when it was discontinued some ten years ago or so, i bought a bag to sock away for “guy” knitting. i’ve used most of it but had a few left—just the amount i needed for my project.
i meant to start knitting this months ago, but with everything backing up on me all year, i didn’t do it til, well—last weekend. so i declared new year’s eve and new year’s day as my own personal knitting holiday and spent them mostly on the sofa, snuggling with cardigan til all three pieces were complete. she makes a great yarn holder, doesn’t she?
i was even able to wash, block and dry them all with plenty of time to spare for wrapping. we did have a deadline—our office friends and family party was scheduled for tuesday night and i wanted to have them ready. i did not get a photo of her wearing them, but she loved them enough to pop them on immediately for the trip home. she was excited to have a black hat and mitts she could use for work at FedEx, where she needs her fingers free. i was excited that she liked them so much and also that little bits of cardigan were knit into the fabric.
now that holiday shopping, cooking, visiting, and gift knitting are done for the year, i’m back to work on regularly scheduled knitting projects. plenty of secret ones as usual, which i can’t show you yet, but also the red sweater i’ve designed and am knitting for david in festivus 4.0 sport weight. this first sleeve is finished now and i’m on to the second.
the sleeves are plain, but the body will be patterned. these are a nice, quick and mindless knit and they’re moving along quickly. this design is constructed in the round from the bottom up without seams, which is why i’m knitting the sleeves first—they will be all set to go when i hit the yoke and need to add them in. also i can double-check my final gauge in the round to make sure i’ve got that right. i just love this fabric and i know david will, too. i picked skeins that have very gradual and subtle gradient shading—really almost solid—but when i knit my own version in patchwork fingering (light print), i’ll use ones that have more obvious variations. still very subtle, but more gradient.
around the office, everyone is working hard to keep the wheels turning on upcoming projects. first, we are organizing the last components of our upcoming PAIRINGS club, which begins shipping in february.
make no mistake, we’ve been working on this for almost a year—chef katharine and i prepared way ahead for the food and recipe portion of this wonderful knit/taste experience. she was here last summer for over a week so we could cook together and take advantage of fresh garden produce and talk over appropriate yarn pairings with our knitspot team.
we talked and cooked and drove all over the area looking for great ingredients, making cardigan kinda crazy with kitchen upheaval (she survived and was mollified by the wealth of goodies on offer).
we came up with a four-course menu and recipes that sequence well into an entire meal or stand alone nicely for casual dinners. we chose dishes that can be varied easily to accommodate special diets or out of season ingredients.
in addition, we tried to imbue each installment with a sense of place, choosing ingredients that are emblematic of particular regions around our big, big country.
yarns and foods are a secret for now, but it think participants will be as tickled as they were last year with the first pairings club. each project is a pairing as well, making use of two yarns; the designs are aimed toward intermediate knitting skills and will include a range of techniques. if you’re new to all this, check out the final pairings 2016 book to get an idea of what to expect in the way of patterns and yarns.
we had to finalize our first yarn order for this PAIRINGS club, so space is now limited accordingly to the number of spots we have left—if you haven’t signed up yet but want to do so, i hope you’ll join us before they run out!
we are also getting ready to release the next winter ensemble collection, which includes eight designers who have contributed some awesome garments and accessories.
my own contribution is a v-neck pullover with a mega-cabled neck and side seam detail. early next week i’ll be using my sample as an example of how to block sweater pieces with complex or awkward shapes—if you love blocking (even more, if you hate blocking), don’t miss this post!
i’ve also begun work on a capsule collection that we plan to release in march—light, airy knits that will be perfect for spring and summer, to wear or to knit as the days grow warmer. i am SO excited about it; my ideas are aligning into a closely related set of pieces, making use of a variety of yarns which are pleasant to knit at that time.
these two super soft and light pieces were designed initially for our 2017 BNK club, when we knit them for the june installment using salt river mills suri decadence in a special put-up of half cream and half medium brown.
the fingering weight yarn is blended from natural shades of pure suri alpaca and muga silk, giving it phenomenal drape and softness.
the patterns include two sizes each and the samples pictured here are the smaller size, which can be knit from just one yarn set (two half skeins sold together).
to purchase tarta shawl pattern or view details, click here for our knitspot pattern shop listing and click here for knitspot ravelry shop (please purchase with the ravelry link if you prefer the pattern to be placed in your rav library).
to purchase coronado cowl pattern or view details, click here for our knitspot pattern shop listing and click here for knitspot ravelry shop (please purchase with the ravelry link if you prefer the pattern to be placed in your rav library).
wow, i didn’t think i had anything to write about today that didn’t involve nursing cardigan, haha, but i guess i was wrong. many of you have sent heartfelt notes and good wishes to her as we advance through her recovery and we are so touched by each one, thank you!
cardigan is feeling much more her usual self this week and has a lot to share; for those who have been asking, i’m helping her prepare a separate update post for sunday, which promises to be newsy. for now, she says, “happy weekend” and “be sure to wear a hat when you go out!”