that’s me—the blockhead

Posted on Posted in designing, lace/shawls, projects, yarn and dyeing

i had the best day today—i ignored the computer almost entirely from the time i got up in order to spend time on one of my favorite activities—blocking. i had a pile of finished and unblocked items sent to us from sample knitters, plus my newly-finished DK shawl, which i’ve decided to name krokos.

the day promised to be brilliantly sunny, if not quite warm—it did get up to 50 degrees, but spring is just beginning to break here and the winds ensures that the air remains pretty cold. still, i did not want to miss getting outside in the afternoon, so i got going on my list of indoor duties as soon as i got up.

the gray shawl in our breakfast blend DK was first into the soaking water. this yarn really blocks out a treat; i just love it—look how smooth and silky that fabric is!

and the stitch definition is so crisp—it really makes for a dramatic display of this simple, linear composition.

the design is a variation on the peu de pluie design, but now that i see it blocked, it also reminds me of a bandanna print, something like the susanna shawl. as with any shawl, it can also be knit in other yarn weights, so i plan to include instructions for using our fingering yarn as well. this would be stunning in the espresso colorway and super snuggly, too.

once i had that shawl blocked, i put a second one on to soak, poured a second cup of coffee, and went upstairs to finish seaming the sticks and stones pullover that barb knit up in stone soup DK. i told barb if she knit the pieces, i’d do the finishing work.

i’d been working on this for the last several evenings, having completed the neck trim and gotten the sleeves sewn in. so there wasn’t much left to do—just the side and underarm seams and i got those squared away in less than an hour.

once they were done, i steamed everything nicely for the finishing touch, then put it on the dress form to see how it looked.

wow, that fabric is lovely. i just had to try it on now . . . i was already wearing a gray v-neck, but that was abandoned in an instant for the new one.

(i do love this sweater; it’s knit from handspun alpaca and i wear it very often)

but there’s nothing like a new one, right?

it’s perfect! and so soft and comfy; i’ve ben worried about this yarn being prickly, but it’s not. it has plenty of merino content to help keep it so.

the cable detailing at the side seams and armholes really pops in this yarn, too. i thought it was very defined in the original yarn, but here, it’s even more so.

barb’s knitting is beautiful, isn’t it? i am so lucky she likes to knit sweaters.

once it was seamed and i knew it fit well, i wanted to wash the whole thing—i like for all finished knits to have a good soak, so as to lose those last remnants of spinning oil and really bring out the shine in the fiber.

and as long as i was going to wash it, i decided i may as well wash all the other neutral sweaters in my drawer—i won’t be needing them much longer and it’s best to put them away clean. so i scoooped up seven sweaters, bagged them in mesh, and put them in the washer to soak while i blocked the second shawl.

this one is a new sample of the sheltie triangle design that shipped with our barenaked 2012 club in may last year. to prepare for the eventual release of that pattern package, we asked our dear friend vanessa to knit a new one in our breakfeast blend fingering yarns, using burnt toast as the main color, with oatmeal and earl grey as the contrasting colors. sigh, i’ll never tire of this very old, very traditional, and very classic  hap shawl. i find them mesmerizing.

O.M.G., this yarn does luscious garter stitch; it just rolls over the contours of the shoulder. LOVE. i can’t wait to show you what it looks like draped on the dress form. next time, i promise. you’ll see all of these in draping mode.

now, not only did vanessa knit this charming shawl, but she knit the stranded apples in clover tam from the same month

the tam took a bath along with the shawl and while it was very wet, i inverted it over a wide pasta bowl to support it until it was dry enough to turn right-side up. alpaca is slow to dry, even with the heat on, so i reshaped this piece often to fluff the fibers, which encourages air circulation through the fabric and improves the loft, which in turn, speeds up the drying process.

once it’s dry enough to hold it’s shape without sagging from wetness, i invert it over the bowl and let the sides hang down so it doesn’t take a crease. that way it will have a nice round shape when it slouches on the head. it will also have the freedom to shrink back to its correct size as it dries.

once i had the hat and shawl blocked, the sweaters were ready to come out of the wash.

i laid half a dozen out in one spot and the other with the shawls. this is such a good thing to have gotten done. washing sweaters is such an easy task; i really should get all of mine done soon, while the heat is still on to dry them quickly and thoroughly.

that’s my new sprossling in the upper right corner, that anne marie knit. i’ve worn it several times to teaching dates and public events; it’s light and cozy and stretchy—perfect for spring.

and in the lower left corner, the new sweaters knit in stone soup DK look like barb and cherie themselves having a chat, haha. i actually think that little moorit brown sweater just above the rene, would look really nice in the stone soup yarn. i never published that pattern, but i may have to write it up now for this yarn.

speaking of which, guess what we got on friday? three big boxes with more stone soup—a reorder of fingering yarn in pumice plus a new test batch of DK and fingering in a second color which we are calling granite

so from left to right, lot #2 of pumice (compare to lot#1 pumice in the background), then the fingering in granite and far right, the DK in granite.

i’m so excited about being able to make different colors with this yarn, now that we have a recipe. i’m hoping we can do a marble, a slate, and maybe a sandstone or travertine (or both, haha). it’s so cool that the shades can be manipulated from mixing colors that we have no control over.

erica and emily should be coming over in the next couple of days to count it, label it, and enter it into inventory; once all that is done, david can put it in the shop.

in the meantime, we will enjoy spring—like i said, i was determined to get outside to day as well, so once i got all the sweaters laid out, i changed, laced up my running shoes, and headed out into the sun.

and wind—wow, it was chilly for such a brilliant day. my legs felt like cement most of the way, but finally loosened up for the last couple of miles.

still, it was really pleasant to see all the flowers that have been hiding under snow until now. and when i got back, we went out on our bikes to do our shopping and errands, something we haven’t done in months, due to the cold, snow, and wet.

and that pretty much brings us to the present moment—it’s time for me to leave the computer now so i can relax a bit with david before i conk out.

i got SO much done today and i felt so productive and happy doing it—i need to get back to spending more time with my hands on wool and less time at the dang computer. i guess it starts here, doesn’t it?

with that, i’m even going to leave it unproofed til tomorrow; it’s after 12:30 am and i want to knit now, please.

happy spring holidays to all; i hope you have a wonderfully chocolatey day!

15 thoughts on “that’s me—the blockhead

  1. My word, you were busy yesterday! The way those cables pop out in the sticks and stones sweater is just fantastic. Krokos is very eye catching too with its eyelets and geometric lines. Hope the Easter bunny has managed to leave you some chocolate today!!

  2. The sight of all those sweaters drying makes me so happy and they’re not even mine! The sticks and stones sweater is gorgeous. Beautiful knitting.

  3. Thank you so much for blogging the last week or so. I’ve really enjoyed and looked forward to seeing all your sweaters and shawl patterns in your new yarn, it’s so exciting!

  4. I hope you’ll be enjoying real spring weather soon! Spring is well established here, so I’ve been bringing out the colorful sweaters, but your grey yarns are definitely calling my name. Good work – yarns and designs and all!

  5. All of the projects in BNW are SO gorgeous! and the granite stone soup is looking absolutely lovely. It’s so funny, I used to be afraid of wearing grey, and now it is one of my favorite colors (shades?) EVER. I just can’t get enough!

  6. My computer submitted before I was ready. When I am ready to make my Leaving, I am going to order this yarn for sure! I would like a warm grey with a yellow undertone. That is a grey that goes well with my complexion and a lot of my clothes. So I’m keeping my eye out for a gray like that and hope Stone Soup will have one. Happy Easter.

  7. Just received my skein of Espresso in fingering. I plan to cast on later today for Ysolda Teague’s Marin shawl. When I saw the picture, it begged to be made in a deep dark brown, but it had to be something very squishy. Bare Naked Espresso is perfect! Thanks so much for making all these wonderful neutrals available.

  8. My gosh, you were a busy beaver yesterday!!! Glad you got everything done that you had hoped for!

  9. You make blocking sound and look like so much fun. The next time I have something to block, I am going to channel your blocking spirit. (ha ha)

  10. Thanks for spending enough time at the computer to write this post. You have inspired me to lose my fear of blocking and finishing, for that matter. I would love to take more classes from you. (I took your designing class at Sock Summit). Clearly, you have spring fever–given the ups and downs of April weather, you will be washing those sweaters again! Glad you enjoy doing it.

  11. Sticks and Stones is one of my all time favorite sweaters. I love the gray one you knit out of Stone Soup. It’s going back in my que so I can make another one!!!

  12. oh my goodness, there were so many beautiful knitted objects in this post it was overwhelming. I love the first shawl pattern – I like the geometric pattern of the lace. Looks like some flowers are coming up out there too! Thanks!

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