Pairings with a Partner: the joys of joining with a friend

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, food and garden, patterns, projects, yarn and dyeing

While the digital age has provided us with an outlet for connecting with other crafters in a social way, we also love the tactile, emotional happiness we get from attending a local knit night or knitting with a close friend. This is very similar to the feeling we get when cooking for family or an intimate group of neighbors. Pairings Club, our latest offering, really gets to the root of what makes group dinners and knitting so wonderful: the community of making and sharing.

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Each Pairings Club subscription features two yarns. One from Bare Naked Wools — a familiar friend. The other, from a surprise dyer — an unexpected, but welcome guest. Pairings also takes this a step further and adds recommended patterns and recipes that partner well with the yarns. While it’s certainly possible to work your way through the club on your own or with interaction in our Ravelry group, we’d love to think that it might connect knitters close at home, too. Here are a few ideas:

Join with your local knitting group. Sign up together for your own subscriptions and meet up each time a new one is delivered to try the recipe together. Who knows — this could result in a future soup swap, supper club, or cookie exchange!

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Join with a local friend. Even if they don’t knit, many of the yarns we’re including are great for learning on, and this is a great reason to get together. Have your packages delivered each to the other’s house to increase the chances that you’ll open them together.

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Join with a family member. If you’re lucky enough to have another knitter in your family, join together and race to finish the project. Open the packages together and think about how you can incorporate the recipe into that week’s family meals. Cook together, knit together, and celebrate the time you’re spending connecting.

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Join across the globe. Many Ravelry users form friendships that span countries and continents away. You may not get to see each other often, but joining a club is a great way to feel connected even when you’re not. Open your packages together online using Facetime or Skype, and form your own far away knit-nights.

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Of course, our Ravelry group is always open to any and all members, and the community aspect there is extraordinary, too. We’re looking forward to celebrating your successes, hearing your recipe reviews, and chatting about when the next shipment has arrived! Find the group here and say hello.

see the sea

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in patterns

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back in january we wrapped up our ENVY 2015 club with this final design—see the sea—an asymmetrical crescent shawl that makes the most of a gradient yarn or one with random striping, the kind of colorations you get when hand spinning with dyed roving.

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the pattern includes two sizes; one is a larger shawl (shown above) worked with two skeins of yarn, while the other works well as a shawlette or scarf (see below) for those single rare gems in your possession.

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on this raw day in january, when we headed for the water to photograph the shawl, emily braved the climate with only this shawl between herself and the icy wind.

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she’s such a great sport; thank you emily . . .

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this piece is terrifically fun to knit in a variety of yarns; if you don’t have something self striping in the stash to work with, it is easily worked in stripes of separate yarns or a handpaint with longer color repeats. a colorway with lots of contrast will show off the exaggerated waves in the pattern to great effect.

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designing for our clubs is one of the many joys of my work—thinking up surprise twists and turns that no one expects, making the most of a particular and specific yarn, highlighting its best qualities with just the right motifs and details, collaborating with a special dye artist to realize a vision, and then creating a photographic world in which to display the results—these are the ways that my work brings me close to our whole community.

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this particular design took our ravelry clubhouse by storm, with many members quickly knitting a first one in the club pick of that month, then moving on to knit another in something else. the yarn choice was a custom blend of  entropy sport made with sea cell fiber (instead of nylon) in a colorway dyed especially for us by lisa westra of feederbrook farms.

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lisa’s colorways supply the perfect palette for creating a gorgeous final masterpiece of undulating patterns that ebb and flow across the fabric surface. if you are spinning a tour de fleece project right now, this design could work really well with your resulting skein(s).

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the patterns are extremely easy to work, but if you are hesitant, there is also plenty of support in our knitspot ravelry group—start a thread with any question and you’ll soon have a group formed to chat your way through it! i’m sure there will be many clubbies anxious to share their FOs and advice on the subject, haha.

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speaking of ravelry, the pattern is available in our ravelry pattern shop as well as the online shop here on our website. to purchase pattern or view complete details, please click the link to check out the listing in the knitspot pattern shop or here to view it on ravelry.

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this entertaining and quick knitting shawl or scarf will make a gorgeous going away gift to a college bound teen or holiday gift for a special friend or relative—cast on for one today to knit through the rest of the tour de france or the upcoming olympics; it makes for great TV knitting if you’ve got a little experience under your belt.

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and i know a few of you could even finish one before our pairings club gets going . . . a great way to pass these last few days of anticipation.

mixing it up

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, designing, food and garden

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did you know that knitspot turned ten years old this year? it’s been so fun, i can hardly believe a decade has passed—wow! i have so enjoyed getting to know and understand our readership—and one thing i’ve learned is that, while knitting might be your first passion, you enjoy your time in a variety of ways. also, that you are endlessly curious about how i spend mine and where i find inspiration.

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how many times have i shown my most recent cooking project and you all responded back to tell me about your favorite version or to ask for my recipe? or, having asked where i can find a way to make gluten free, beet free borscht, you deluge me with possibilities (just kidding about needing that one, ok)?

you are the best, most interesting people i know and it has endeared you to me. and we are about to embark on a new adventure together, one that embraces several of our favorite pastimes, explores the process of inspiration, and celebrates the culmination of, well, knitting our lives to each other.

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i’m talking about our upcoming pairings club, which gathers all of our loves in one package. pairing me, pairing you; pairing fiber, pairing food, pairing naturals and chromatics—we are gonna do it all.

the idea for this club really came from you—i know you like variety! in thinking about ways to introduce something new into our club offerings, i thought it would be fun to mix things up a bit—i hear you when you say you’d like to do a bare naked knitspot club again, but i also see that you love a dash of color in your knitting life. i hear you when you say “just give me a subscription to ALL your yarns” or “i don’t know here to begin!”—it can be daunting with so many tempting choices.

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if you are curious about our bare naked wools yarns, the pairings club is the perfect way to sample them—we’ll be including four of our custom spun yarns, one in each shipment. to up the fun factor, we are pairing each BNW selection with a compatible hand dyed yarn from favorite color fiber artists. each shipment will include TWO yarns—one natural yarn and one hand dyed yarn to work some knitting magic (we’ll be including goodies too!). the contents of each shipment is a surprise, so it’s like getting a present in the mail just because—times four.

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with yarn in hand, you’ll next discover what we’ll be knitting. soon after each package arrives, you’ll receive word that the eBook download is ready, with beautiful photos and pattern (often multiple patterns) for a project that takes advantage of working with two colors.

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projects will vary in technique—could be stripey or worked in blocks of colors, could be slip-stitch, could be stranded color work—each will be different; you won’t get stuck with projects of just one type or ones that are overly fussy.

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in the ebook—which is updated with each installment—i’ll share my inspirational process, talk about the fiber characteristics of the yarns as they relate to the project(s), and the steps that take me from there to a finished design. we take pains to provide tons of beautiful photography to support the project.

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designs and yarns span a range of weights and accessory options in keeping with the time of year that they are introduced. skill level is generally intermediate; if we do tackle something more challenging, you will be supported by our renowned ravelry clubhouse group (more about that in a bit!)

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now here is where we’re throwing in a new curve. to keep up the fun and energy between the bi-monthly shipments, we’re going to cook and eat together! you like food, don’t you??

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think foods inspired by knitting in color—like peach pie with crumble topping, caprese salad, beans and wild greens, pasta with roasted tomatoes—vibrant flavors and colors that bring our fiber combinations to another level. the actual food course will be a surprise too, but be assured that they will be flexible and easily varied to suit your taste.

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our recipes will take advantage of seasonal garden offerings and local specialty foods. in this effort i have enlisted the help of my dear friend, knitter and professional chef, katharine wainwright.

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i recently spent a week at her lovely, vivacious home, where we prepped and cooked and photographed the days away in a flurry of club-centric preparations. we’ve come up with a four-course menu we think you’ll enjoy from start to finish, especially when you prepare it together with us.

we will peel, boil, and whip up some fun and good flavors; in the clubhouse, we’ll chat about how to work the recipes and create variations to suit your taste/diet.

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which brings me back to our wonderfully hilarious, swinging’ knitspot clubhouse, led by the dynamic duo katJ and kim3, along with josée. these three amigas keep the club chatter lively and timely, with the focus on fun, fun, fun. i can’t say enough how many friendships have been forged and advanced knitters made with the love and help of our clubhouse support—it’s the besets; you should join us.

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lest you think that we are all fun times and no foundation, let me introduce the behind the scenes heroes of the club—ericadavid, and lillian—who are working hard here at knitspot HQ to keep those packages coming, provide support as needed, and correct the rare mishaps that occur. we are all about each and every one of you having the best experience we can provide.

still have questions about how it all works?  for more in-depth details, see our club essentials page here or general club FAQs here (must be a rav member to use this link). and be sure to check out our clubhouse chat threads to get the skinny from our veterans if you’d like to ask questions before committing—they will happily fill you in.

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as for me, i hope i’ve talked you into joining us—i sure hope you will! see you in july, yes?

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don’t sweat it!

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, patterns, projects, spinning and fiber, yarn and dyeing

We know that the knitters and crocheters who love Bare Naked Wools love the simplicity of a great selection. Those who try our yarns know they aren’t being deprived of color, but instead are getting to try the truest form of a fiber for themselves. What better time than mid-summer to try a fiber that is one of the oldest in the world, but still new to many crafters? Hempshaugh, one of our favorite yarns from the Bare Naked Wools line, is a blend of 40% Merino, 30% Hemp, and 30% Silk. Since Anne shared her ongoing project in this great yarn, we’re here to help you start dreaming up projects of your own, too.

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Hempshaugh comes in two weights—lace and fingering. Hemp is a strong fiber and is sometimes called bast (this just means it comes from plants). Longer than your typical wool, it blends beautifully with silk, but it can be tricky to blend with wool. Luckily, our mill knows exactly what to do with it, and Anne knows when she comes across the perfect mix. This yarn is lightweight, has great shine, and a beautiful hand that translates into warm weather garments you can actually wear.

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Our Ensemble series is the perfect place to look for inspiration. From this year’s Spring collection, we have to recommend the beautiful Estlin pullover from designer Bristol Ivy (you can find the kit here!). Featuring delicate details like a two-toned yoke, short row shaping, and elbow-length sleeves, it’s easy to wear this piece long past summer ends—just in case you tend to knit at a leisurely pace.

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Kit available here 

Living in deep summer heat? Don’t despair, when working with hemp, you can still wear your knits proudly. Anne was wearing Salt and Pepper from the Spring collection all weekend in Washington, D.C.—and the weather was well into the 90’s! Knit in Hempshaugh lace weight, this is the perfect traveling companion project. Wandering bodies (and minds) are a match made in heaven for stockinette stitch. The clean lines of this garment will assuredly match anything in your wardrobe, too. (Though, might we suggest you think about pairing it with the Amalfi Coast skirt? The look is just too chic!)

White jeans or shorts and the casual classiness of a knit polo (with a bit of feminine flair) are exactly what you find with our Janet Guthrie pattern. Designed by Anne, this top can be sporty or sweet, and in Hempshaugh Fingering, it’s decidedly cool. Even with all the delicate details, this pullover can be a speedy knit—with options to bypass the sleeves if you get impatient.

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Make it in two colors for contrast stripes, or knit in a solid color like Millet if you want to go for a more shell-like sheen.

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In Ensemble, we recommend substitute yarns from the Bare Naked Wools selection on every pattern, should you decide to go your own way. That said, with a great yarn like Hempshaugh in two weights, a few more months of summer stretching out before us, and needles itching to cast on, why would you?