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Melissa’s newest cast-on, a poncho for Sasha, and the straw that broke the camel’s back the project that inspired this post.

“Startitis is great. Finishing ain’t so easy.” -Lynn Gideon

Yeah, Lynn. We HEAR you.

It’s 2020 and the fact is, we’re out of control. Or rather, our projects are. Completely, utterly, embarrassingly, hilariously out. Of. CONTROL.

We’d like to say it’s a job hazard. That it’s industry research. That we’re Creatives Who Cannot Be Bound By Time Nor Space.

But in all reality, we’re just two knitters who like to knit. And to Makers, is there anything better than starting a new project?

A tiny sweater Liz knit that’s completely finished, except for weaving in those pesky ends. We won’t say how long it’s been in this state.
Melissa’s Madewell Cardigan, cast on in May 2019, in anticipation of Joji’s visit to Michigan in July. Obviously missed that deadline.

The only problem with loving to create as much as we do (and we have a hunch you’ve got this problem, too) is that there’s just not enough time to do it all. Every single day, the number of new patterns, new yarns, new notions, new ideas that arrive earthside is astounding. Thrilling. Often overwhelming. This is our job, sure, but we still can’t keep up. We imagine you can’t either.

Makers love to start new projects. But finishing? Ay, there’s the rub.

A gradient honeycomb blanket that Liz started late 2015, as a baby blanket for Cecily, her four-year-old. All that’s left is half its I-Cord border and a good blocking.

We’ve tried all kinds of ways to keep on task and be accountable, to each other and to ourselves. Checklists. Planners. Journals. Weekly check-ins. Blog posts. Ravelry threads. Social pressure from our Saturday morning Stitch Circle (which always has more room, so if you’re reading this, please know you’re welcome to join us!).

It ain’t working.

Liz’s Community Tunic by Joji, also cast on in anticipation of her July arrival. Ahem.

Then we thought back to a conversation we had with our dear friend and customer Lynn about 3 years ago, about rotating a grouping of long-lingering projects in 12-hour stints, and we thought, yes. Yes. This makes perfect sense. This is something we could do.

Here’s how it works:

You corral up to five (5) projects from your pile, preferably WIPs that are sizable, hanging out on the needles for longer than two months and/or those you’re having a hard time talking yourself into finishing. You rotate through these five only, dropping or picking up new projects when and only when you’ve bound one off OR finished a 12-hour cycle, whichever comes first. You absolutely can keep introducing projects to your five–there’s no ‘rule’ about having to alternate between newbies and old WIPs–but once you’ve started the clock, you must maintain project monogamy until those 12 hours are up. When you’re done with your 12-hour block, if it’s not finished, your piece moves to the bottom of the pile; you will now need to work through four 12-hour segments of knitting time before you can go back to this project. Obviously, every knitter is different (we all knit at different speeds and have varying time in our allotted knitting schedules), so your 12 hours might span over a long weekend, a week–even a month. This isn’t a methodology that works only for people who routinely schedule marathon knitting sessions; this method works for commuters, lunchtime stitchers and for those who only have ten minutes with their morning coffee. There are weeks when neither of us knit much at all. That’s life, darn it. But every one of those little moments adds up and before you know it, with a plan in hand, you’re actually chipping away at something. You’re making visible progress. Shock and disbelief, YOU’RE FINISHING SOMETHING.

Melissa’s current WIP, the Copenhagen Cardigan knit with our November 2016 yarn club colorway ‘Bay Lane Bonfire’ + Ritual Dyes colorway ‘Scorpio’ on Fae.

For example: I started my Gideon Method on Tuesday morning, with this red sweater. I’ve knit a lot since then (rather than sleep, which is not by choice) and am currently 5 1/2 hours into this 12-hour block. I’m nearly halfway into my second sleeve, and because the button band is knit at the same time as the body of the sweater, all that’s left to do after the sleeve is done is to tack down the pockets, which makes me extremely confident I’ll finish the sweater before the 12 hours are up. That’s a good thing, because according to this method, if I wasn’t finished, it would move to the end of the line and that would reeeeeeeeally bum me out, as I had planned on wearing this sweater for Christmas 2019–I’m really ready to wear it now. (Insert eye roll emoji.) Next up is the poncho for Sasha (the picture at the top of the post), the project that started my current project anxiety. Once that’s done–and boy, I hope I can do it in 12 hours, because if I don’t, my No. 1 Mom pin might get taken away–I’ll move on to the Madewell Cardigan, then the Mon Manet Light, then the Plaid Friday socks. As these projects fall out of rotation (sweet, sweet success), I have some very specific yet vague plans as to what I’ll add into my Fab Five, including several top-secret samples in a new-to-us dyer (more info on that soooooooon!), a Hawkbit Cardigan in our Dunes yarn, a Mon Manet in Fresh Water Fiber and the first sweater I’ve ever knit for my husband–a plain pullover in mYak Medium in Tibetan Sky (his choice!)

But why now?

Before I started my plan on Tuesday morning, my knitting was stressing me out in a major way. Sashi had asked me back in December (about 10 days before Christmas) if I would knit her a poncho. She doesn’t ask for knitting, really, and she’s pretty picky about what she’ll wear, so of course I said yes. That very night we chose a pattern (Breathe Mélange by Heidi May) and narrowed down the yarn–she ended up choosing Malabrigo Rios in ‘Sand Bank’. When she woke up in morning, the first words out of her mouth were, “Mom? Can we talk about my poncho? I know you knit a lot of things, and I know you’re busy, but I was hoping you could finish so I could wear the poncho this year?”

Insert major Mom Guilt, because this isn’t the first time (nor the 10th, if I’m being honest) that I said I’d knit something for my daughter, and then somehow, it doesn’t get done. I have the very best intentions–we all do, don’t we?–but how do I change? How can I make good on these ‘promises’? Not just to my daughter, but to myself?

Liz’s Cedar Pullover KAL in Kelbourne Woolens Perennial in ‘Gold’, the PERFECT golden yellow for a Queen Bee.

Liz, too, got a hefty dose of Mom Guilt a few weeks ago, when Cecily asked when her baby blanket was fiiiiiiiiiinally going to be finished. Today’s the day, Sweetheart, she said. She stopped everything she was doing to work on it, and then. Well, you know. Life. She sent Cecily to bed that night with the blanket as-is–tails hanging from every direction, yarn still attached–and somehow, it didn’t quite have the same effect.

She’s also experiencing the pressure of too many WIPs and the overall feeling of treading water–and has been for a long time. She knit most of the samples for the 12 Knits this year, but it’s been waaaaay too long since she’s knit something on her List–and without a bona fide plan, she feels like nothing ever gets finished; the personal projects always get pushed to the bottom of the list when your knitting time is limited.

Her clock started yesterday (it took about 15 seconds of convincing to get her on board with the Gideon Method) and she’s currently an hour into her Cedar Pullover KAL–well below the sleeve divide (just a few inches from the hemline lace), which means she’ll most likely finish the pullover before the end of this 12-hour time slot. When she’s done, she’ll move on to the mini mohair sweater (just the ends to weave in!) and the honeycomb I-cord blanket for two quick-and-dirty, ‘attaboy’ finishes (we’re always going to take those little confidence boosters when we can get ’em), and then on to her Wool & Honey KAL, her Community Tunic, her Six and Seven Advent Shawl and samples in the aforementioned top-secret dyer. Maybe a sweater for Cecily in there, too.

“But I’m a Maker,” you say. “Knitting is the one place I let my creativity run wild. With knitting, I don’t have to keep to a schedule, I don’t have to check in with management, I don’t have to treat it like work. It’s my refuge and my sanctuary. I don’t want to mess with that.”

And to that we say, Amen. Yes. We HEAR you.

Liz’s Six and Seven Fiber advent calendar shawl, pictured here with the custom Fringe Hank ‘Indigo’ from AVFKW.

But.

Don’t you sometimes get overwhelmed with your WIP pile? Sometimes, isn’t too much of a good thing, well, too much of a good thing? And finishing. Wouldn’t you like to do it more often? You know, so that you could actually cast on MORE OFTEN?

Melissa’s Mon Manet Light in ‘Schomberg Sugar Maple’ , our yarn club selection from March 2017. I reeeeeeeeally want to wear this sweater this winter. Using the Gideon Method, I actually think this is a realistic goal.

Yeah. We thought you’d say that.

Melissa’s Plaid Friday socks. FYI, Thanksgiving Weekend 2019 has come and gone. This is Sock #1.

To be clear, Lynn didn’t come up with this method herself. It was introduced to her by a needlepoint group outside of Detroit in the 1990s. But to us, this will always be the Gideon Method. Thank you, dear friend. We love you. (We’ll let you know how it goes.)

Many of the enamel pins pictured here can be found in our online shop HERE, as well as several of our project bags, which can be found HERE. Others are gifts from friends.


Read to the end of the post for the big surprise…

Liz wearing the Cloudline Hat in Aurora + Lovat.

The Cloudline Hat

For our last of our 12 Knits this year, we found a pattern that’s so good, we couldn’t have created anything better–perhaps the very best beginner’s hat pattern we’ve ever seen. We’ll be using this as our go-to hat in the shop for the rest of our days–the combinations for yarns, fibers and colors are endless, and it works for every gender. Thank you to Jared Flood from Brooklyn Tweed for this creation.

In the words of the designer….

“With Cloudline we challenged ourselves to design the perfect ‘first hat’ pattern for a new knitter while also creating an appealing project for seasoned knitters as well. This hat is knit using only basic techniques: the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and the knit-2-together decrease and is the perfect project for practicing circular knitting (or for whipping up last-minute gifts!).

Cloudline’s bi-colored marl fabric is created by holding two strands of fingering-weight Peerie together as you knit. With 45 colors to mix and match, hundreds of striking fabrics can be created, allowing for endless variations and a finished look that’s uniquely your own. We’ve found the colorplay aspect of the pattern to be quite addicting, and we can’t wait to see which unexpected combinations will become new favorites!”

Find the Cloudline Hat Kit HERE.

Peerie: A Sweet Deal on One of Our Favorite Little Yarns

From now through December 31st: buy 5 skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Peerie, get 1 FREE. We love this yarn so much, we used it in three of our 12 Knits this year! And at this price, now is the ideal time to plan a sweater for yourself in the New Year. Enter coupon code freepeerie at checkout.

Find the entire color range of Peerie HERE.

The 12 Knits of Christmas 2019 Prizes

A bowl full of Six and Seven Fiber Alfalfa in Plumage

With every 12 Knits purchase, you are entered to win one of three (3) $100 gift certificates to Wool & Honey, plus one lucky winner will have the opportunity to create their own custom colorway with Rachel Lundstrom of Six and Seven Fiber–and take home a sweater’s quantity on the base yarn of their choosing. 

Find our full collection of the 12 Knits of Christmas 2019 HERE.

The Cedar Pullover KAL

The Cedar Pullover by Joji Locatelli, knit for us by our dearest friend Melissa Hunter in Kelbourne Woolens Perennial in Raspberry

This sweater means more to us than we can possibly say. Ever since we saw the first sneak peak of Joji’s latest design (and knowing the stories behind it!), we’ve been bursting with happiness and love for our dear friends Tracie and Jodi–and so much pride for our little town of Cedar. We had the honor of hosting the Grocery Girls (and their extra special surprise guest Joji!) here in July, and it was pure joy to see these friends enjoy each other’s company in this little part of the world we love so much.

L to R: Tracie Millar, Melissa, Joji Locatelli, Liz and Jodi Brown at Fishtown in July 2019

We’ll be knitting the Cedar Pullover together from January 1st through 31st and we can’t wait to knit it alongside you. The yarn, pattern and needles are all available to you at 15% off and the prizes everyone finishing (a Knitter’s Salve + a Lip and Cheek Tint from Lake and Woods–a $25 value) and one grand prize (a Lake and Woods body oil, first aid salve, marigold glow makeup tint and body butter as pictured above–a $75 value) are an extra bonus–perhaps the push you need to cross the finish line.

Thank you to the one and only Melissa Hunter (melissah33 on IG +  melissah3 on Ravelry) for knitting our gorgeous sample.

Click HERE to read more about the Cedar Pullover and to sign up for the Knit-A-Long between now and December 19th.

A Traveling Yarn Trunk Show

We’re so excited to have a sweet selection of Traveling Yarn (dyed by Sarah Wharton in Phoenix, AZ) here in the shop this weekend for our party–there’s a little something here for everyone.

Back in Stock: Vixen, Bōsa and Dyed in the Wool

L to R: Spincycle Dyed in the Wool in ‘Rusted Rainbow’, Little Fox Vixen in ‘Tomato Tomahto’ and Little Fox Bōsa in ‘Otherwise Engaged’ and ‘Hazelwood’.

Some of our very, VERY favorite yarns of all time, back in stock this weekend. Little Fox?Vixen (fingering weight, 80/20?superwash Merino/silk–400 yds) and?Bosa (DK weight, 65/20/15?superwash Merino/silk/yak–231 yds), and of course Spincycle?Dyed in the Wool (fingering weight, 100% handspun wool, 200 yds), which hardly needs an introduction at all. We don’t expect them to last long!

Find?Little Fox Vixen HERE,?Little Fox Bosa HERE and?Spincycle Dyed in the Wool HERE.

Our Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Perfect Presents

1. Wool & Honey Collection

2. Leelanau Books

3. Tea

4. Knitter’s Backpack

5.?Poza Cowl (Verb’s?Floating)

Stocking Stuffers

Stocking Stuffers

1.?Candles

2. Enamel Pins

3. Wrist Rulers

4. Kristin Hurlin Cards

5.?Specialty Stitch Markers

A $25 Gift Certificate for Everyone

We are so grateful for this wonderful, close-knit community, which extends so much further than we could have ever imagined–it includes customers-turned-friends all over the world. We want EVERYONE to have a magical 2020 filled with Making, and in a small way, we hope we can help.

We’d like to give each of you a $25.00 gift certificateto use in 2020. There is no purchase necessary, nothing you need to do to apply–it’s completely FREE. It’s our Christmas gift to you.

You can use it to take a bit of pressure off your own gift giving (think of your mother or your neighbor or your best friend…), but of course you can keep it for yourself, too–a reward, perhaps for giving so much of yourself in 2019.

We hope that everyone reading this truly takes us up on this offer–and that you pass the word to everyone you know, especially those who might not already receive our emails. Forward this email to a friend, tag them on Instagram and Facebook, share and re-post our posts on social media; we want as many Makers as possible to have a very Merry Christmas.

Click HEREto pick up your free $25 gift certificate now throughout the weekend.

Please limit to one per person. If you’re attending the party tomorrow evening, please refrain from signing up online.


Saturday, December 14th, 2019
5 to 7 pm

One of our favorite things about the holidays is sharing them with you–and one of our favorite ways to do it is with a party.

We’re counting down the days…and spending every minute in between making the shop as cozy–and full of yarn!–as possible. Every day we’ve been arranging (and rearranging!) the shelves, repositioning and moving and making room for some beautiful yarn that’s sure to make your season bright.

On Saturday evening from 5 to 7 pm, we’re hosting our annual Christmas party with hot cocoa and tea and sweet treats, which is promising to be the most magical we’ve ever had. Our 2019 Gift Guide is shaping up nicely, gifts and notions and chocolates and holiday cards are lining the shelves and the yarn.

Oh. My. Goodness. THE YARN.

-We’ll introduce the last two of our 12 Knits of Christmas kits, where they’ll join the entire 2019 collection. Everything will be available in a full range of colors, for those of you who might need a bit of last-minute inspiration. (And truly, you still have time. Really.) We’ll be drawing the winner for the Grand Prizes the first week of January–three $100 gift certificates and a chance to collaborate with an expert on your own custom colorway? A knitter’s dream!

-A HUGE restock of Spincycle Dyed in the Wool–something we’ve been waiting for since the last week of June!–just in time for our party. (And it’s the biggest order we’ve ever had!)

A HUGE restock of Little Fox Vixen AND Bōsa, two yarns we can never seem to keep in stock.

Our first KAL of 2020! This one has a January 1st cast on and is extremely dear to our hearts.

-We’re featuring?Brooklyn Tweed Peerie?in a major, major way. We’ve used this yarn several of our 12 Knits this year, and we’ll be giving you even more reasons to fall in love with this little darling.

-And of course, everyone’s favorite part: the $25 gift certificate from us to you. No strings attached, no purchase necessary–just a little something to show you how much we appreciate you. You can either give it to someone on your list, or you’re welcome to keep it for yourself to use in the New Year. Those of you who aren’t local? We’ve got a surprise for you that is perhaps the biggest, craziest thing we’ve ever done–and we expect it to go viral. (Stay tuned.)

We’ll be dropping more details throughout the next week and email subscribers are always the first to hear about our big plans. Not yet signed up? Send us an email at thebuzz@m.wjyxpt.icu and we’ll add you to our list.


Can you hear it? That light rap-rap-rap on the door?

That’s our knitting mojo knocking. It’s back–full force!–and we think we know why.

It’s the holidays. It’s always the holidays.

As we creep ever-closer toward the Christmas season and its gift-giving traditions, we find ourselves reflecting on this community and family and friends and teachers and baristas and UPS delivery persons–and we get so filled up with these cascading, golden feelings that all we want to do is clothe everyone in head-to-toe knitwear. What better way to show someone you love them than with something you’ve made with your own two hands? And while the finished project itself plays a part in the magic (and of course, the yarn picked specifically with the recipient in mind), these intensely warm feelings we get about the holiday knitting season mostly come from the desire to sit and create with others. A group of Makers who come together in pairs or trios or gatherings of 20 for the sole purpose of creating something from scratch.

Which is why we are so excited about Thanksgiving weekend. An entire weekend spent with customer (who are also our friends!), knitting and chatting and eating and planning and laughing together–people who might not have become friends if it weren’t for yarn. And yes, there’ll be shopping, but the focus of ‘Plaid Friday’ is the idea of “weaving the individual threads of small businesses together to create a strong fabric that celebrates the diversity and creativity of independent businesses”. What else is there?!?

We’ve got plans for a sweater each for the girls, two (er, make that three!) baby sweaters, four pairs of socks and at least one Christmas sweater between us. But the first thing to be cast on?

A pair of socks for a group photo on Plaid Friday.*

*This skein of Plucky Knitter Feet in ‘Highlander’ was a gift from Christmas 2017 from our dear friend Michele G.–so excited to finally knit it!


We are thrilled to announce the September 2019 selection?for the?Sleeping Bear Yarn Club: The Dunes, yarn grown along the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. This is perhaps the most precious selection?we’ve ever offered, a?secret project that’s been in the works for more than a year:?a yarn 100% made in Michigan.?With alpaca and wool grown at four different Northern Michigan farms, it is the most local–and most rare–yarn we’ve ever had. Sourced within 50 miles of the shop and each other, this yarn is 60% Huacaya alpaca, 40% Babydoll Southdown wool….and spun at the 109-year-old?Zeilinger Wool Company?in Frankenmuth, MI. It’s a combination of fleeces in?every natural color–creamy white, fawn, tawny, chocolate brown, rose gray–all combed together in a small-batch, ring-spun yarn that’s soft, heathered and farm fresh.?This is a once-in-a-lifetime edition yarn; there is a finite number of skeins available, and once they’re gone, that’s it.?Forever.

This yarn is brought to you by:

Aral Peak Farm in Honor?(Babydoll Southdown sheep)
Hahn Farm in Beulah?(Babydoll Southdown sheep)
Northern Dreams Alpaca in Empire?(Huacaya alpaca)
Three Little Birds Farm in Northport?(Babydoll Southdown sheep)

Zeilinger Wool Company?is a fourth-generation-run wool mill in Frankenmuth, Michigan. We chose Zeilingers for the project not only because of their proximity to the shop, but because of their experience in ring-spun yarn, a technique essential to spinning the short, bouncy fibers in the Babydoll Southdown wool. We are so grateful to April and Jon for giving this project their undivided attention, from initial inquiry through fleece pickup in July (as pictured here), to their speedy execution of?this special yarn.

We also owe an extra special thank you?to our dear friend Tracie Herkner of?It’s Sew Ewe?in Lake Ann for introducing?us to many of these farmers, as well as helping to shear at Aral Peak this spring, and skirt every single one of our Babydoll fleeces before they went to the mill. Tracie, we couldn’t have managed a?project of this scope without you!

* * * pre-order by August 18th * * *

September’s delightful little package will include a skein of?The Dunes?(60% alpaca, 40% Babydoll Southdown wool–400 yds, 100 g), a Kyanite stitch marker and your choice of the Hayrick Socks, Les Abeilles Shawl or the Little Marieke Baby Sweater, as well as the free gifts for NEW 12-month members, Thank You gifts for Year Two members and Leelanau Lifetime Members.*

As we’ve said before, this yarn is?extremely?unique and?extremely?limited. While we may take on another fiber project in the future, it takes?years?to develop?a batch that?fits our shop’s particular needs. If you like what you see,?please don’t wait.?Even if we were to create a?Northern Michigan yarn again, based on the fiber content and fleeces?involved, another yarn?would?look completely different than the one?we are offering today.?Sign up for a membership now?so that your subscription (even one as short as 3 months)?can begin with September’s package. We are also keeping a waiting list for customers looking to order?additional skeins, both for larger projects and?a souvenir skein?for a friend who has a piece of Leelanau lodged in their heart–until it’s gone, which could be sooner than you think.

Sign up for our Sleeping Bear Yarn Club HERE.


It seems that the cold weather is (finally!) behind us, which makes June a good time to think about caring for your handknits–how to wash, mend and store your precious stitches for the Summer.

We suggest washing all of your knitwear before putting it away for the winter with a gentle wool soap. Even if it appears clean, a warm, soapy bath doesn’t hurt. (We love the Twig & Horn Wool Soap.) The goal is to rinse away the natural oils that cling to wool with normal wear, as well as visible food stains or other soiled bits; these are the things that moths are attracted to, and they’ll chew through wool all winter long if left to their own devices. Ensure your sweaters are completely dry and there are no damp patches–any dampness could eventually lead to the formation of mildew.

Once your knits are clean and fully dry, inspect them for holes and thin spots. Holey toes in your socks? Find your grandmother’s darning egg and learn to darn. Is the hole too big to hide? We love Martha’s embroidery embelishments and of course, visible mending is a visual pledge to the Slow Fashion movement and a sign of solidarity between makers. Check out Katrina Rodabaugh’s book Mending Matters for tutorials and projects, ranging from beginner to advanced. Does your sweater have lots of pills? Brush them off with a Sweater Stone, the Gleener or a hand-held electric de-fuzzer.

Once your pieces are freshened up, it’s time to put them away. Store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. We suggest a plastic storage bin–the airtight nature of the bin will add one more safeguard against moths, beetles, mice and other unsightly critters. Just make sure you don’t pack too many in one container.

Before putting the lid on your bin, tuck a few sachets in among the woolies. Not only do they smell fresh, but herbal blends–like Cedar Roma (100% natural cedar) and the Leelanau Lavender dryer sachets (100% locally-grown lavender buds)–add another layer of moth protection.

These steps do take time, yes, but with all the effort you’ve put into the actual knitting and crocheting process, the care you take will exponentially extend the life of your woolens, keeping you warm and fashionable for years to come. Pour yourself a glass of iced tea, put on an audio book and take major satisfaction knowing you are doing your part to keep traditional handcrafts alive.


It’s the day before the last day of school. The whole long, languid summer is in front of us.

It’s time to make a list.

And a quilt.

I have a good friend who’s a psychologist–a person who’s genuinely fascinated by human social patterns–and loves to tell me, ‘We’re all just animals. You can fight it as much as you want, but you can never distance yourself entirely from your animal Being.’? I don’t know if that’s 100% true, but he’s always, always right about those damn patterns. I can’t seem to break the cycle of the routines I shift through, season after season, and I’m starting to think maybe that’s not the worst news ever? Because the things that I keep coming back to are things that give me profound, primal joy.

Every June–year after year after year–I am deeply inspired to start new projects with my hands. Embroidery, preserving, growing green shoots in the ground, crochet, and of course, quilting. (See? June 2016. Is the quilt finished? No. Have I washed or cut the fabric? WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK ME THAT?)

What is it about quilting that says Summer to me? I don’t have any memories of wrapping up in a hand-pieced heirloom on a sleeping porch during an August downpour (I do not come from a family of quilters), but I’m a Reader, and I must have read thousands of treatises on these fabled wonders; I’ve absorbed my romantic notions through osmosis.

While I still haven’t made Sasha’s Rainbow Quilt (don’t worry–I bought another 8 yds of Heather’s re-released strawberry fabric again in 2017….for the backing for another quilt), Sienna really needs something new for her bed. And soon. This alphabet panel is my ideal mashup of classic and folk and whimsy; it’s ‘Petit Fleur’ by Carolyn Gavin for Windham Fabrics, something I searched high and low for after an insomnia-driven Pinterest sesh waaaaaaaay back in 2014. (And yes, I do have the backing and binding from the same collection. OF COURSE I DO.)

Judy’s going to help me with this project, as she’s guided me through every sewing project I’ve ever schemed up/purchased for/belabored/stalled out on/fully executed (one full quilt to completion, for those looking to keep track). I’m aiming for a version very similar to this one, although I have two full panels, so it’ll fit a twin-size bed by adding more sashing all the way around. I’m not sure how realistic it is to work on it before our big weekend in July?(got a few gagillion things on my plate between now and then), but I’m just so eager to get started.

my Wool & Honey sweater, a constant companion over the past few months. Here on a baby quilt we use for a picnic blanket–Maker unknown.

What else are we doing this summer? Less–and more, I’d say. Trying to strip away the extraneous stuff we can (screen time, over-scheduled activities, always being ‘busy’) and adding more of the stuff that matters (art projects, books, real foods, time outside). I wrote a whole newsletter?(scroll to the bottom) about our staff summer plans last week here.

Art. We’re suuuuuuuper into art around here. Between my girls (newly 6 and firmly 2 1/2) and Liz’s daughter Cecily (3 1/2), we have piles of every type of medium (on every imaginable surface!) in every corner of our homes. Sasha is a total doodler, taking a notebook and pencil with her wherever she goes. She says wants to be a nature artist one day–she was transfixed when we took her to?Gwen Frostic’s studio last summer.

Books. Stacks and stacks of books. I took this picture two weeks ago, and yes, I’m currently reading all of them. I’ve since finished The Little Book of Lykke (super digestible, good takeaway points, thumbs up overall), Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (an excellent, fast read) and added Chef Edward Lee’s book Buttermilk Graffiti, which explores the intersection of food and race and tradition in America. So good.

last summer’s Bardenhagen berries.

Putting food by. Well, we’re going to try. I can’t remember the last time I made jam (it was probably in 2012, pre-kids!), but I’m determined this year. Easing into it by making this rhubarb simple syrup this weekend.

And as often as I can, I’m taking my knitting with me outside. Fifteen minutes after work, an hour with my coffee on my front steps before everyone in the house wakes up, on the beach to catch a sunset with friends.

Tell me, Makers–what are your summer plans?

*Blogging used to be a very regular part of my life and I have every intention of reviving this one. Curious about those pesky behavioral patterns? You can find the old blog HERE. (Spoiler alert: I still can’t quit sugar.)


‘He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.’
-Louis Nizer

Let me start this post out by saying, dayuuuuum, you guys are good. As in, I am consistently blown away by the knitters I meet on a daily basis and the extreme thought and detail and love that goes into every knitting project you meticulously plan. I mean, Liz and I stay up until all hours swatching, scrolling IG, reading comments and reviews on Rav and Knitter’s Review, ordering the PERFECT yarn in the middle of the night on Etsy, so really, it shouldn’t surprise us that you do, too.

Tami designed this spectacular colorwork sweater last year for the?Tin Can Knits’ Strange Brew KAL and it’s everything a colorwork sweater should be. Tami lives in Holland, MI–just a few hours from the shop–and is Dutch to the core. She’s currently making her Dutch dancer costume for this year’s Tulip Time parade—I mean, just look at this embroidery:

(Orange, as perhaps you can tell, is Tami’s favorite color.)

Each of the motifs Tami incorporated into this sweater represent an aspect of the Dutch tradition—its bicycles, windmills, architecture, Amsterdam’s canals and of course, tulips. She used traditional Dutch colors, as well: in Quince & Co. Chickadee, she chose Carrie’s Yellow (yellow), Nasturtium (orange), Delft (blue), Peak’s Ferry (red), Peacock (dark green) and Iceland for the body. I don’t have a drop of Dutch blood in my body, but as a Hope College grad (class of ‘02) my fondness for the Netherlands’ folklore runs disproportionately high. (Yet I only have two pair of decorative clogs….) I absolutely adore this sweater.

Seeing this beautiful sweater last weekend—and Tami’s beaming face in it—gave me such a little zing of vitamin D, exactly when I needed it. I’m inspired to roll up my sleeves and try a Strange Brew of my own, perhaps with Lake Michigan as muse.

What about you, friends? What inspires you creatively? And how do your other passions inform your knitting?

*And just to be clear, ‘if you’re not Dutch, you’re not much’ is a silly catch phrase tossed around West Michigan, which stems primarily from the staggering numbers of fifth and sixth generation Timmers and Vanderkolks attending their great-great grandparents’ (on both sides!) alma mater—and then staying on in Holland or GR to carve out a life long after graduation. I really have no idea if the VanAndels say this to each other around the dinner table, but I do know that?Italian-Americans find this statement exceedingly hilarious at the end of an evening, particularly around the time they’re calling last call. Ahem.

 


Last week I dropped the bomb that I had knit a sweater in six days…and then I totally left you hanging. (To be honest, I was catching up on my sleep.)

I’ve probably knit Hannah Fettig’s patterns 20 times (at least!) over the past 17 years and she is, without a doubt, my favorite designer. Mostly because when I sit down to knit sweaters for myself, I gravitate toward simple, unfussy classics–the basic patterns (pullovers OR cardigans) you reach for over and over. I am also more of a production knitter than anything else; when I finally have the time to knit, I prefer just knitting vs. spending my knitting time learning new or heaven forbid, difficult techniques. I am, in effect, a Lazy Knitter. (This, I have discovered, is my #knittruth.) The climate here (we pretty much wear knitwear in all four seasons) and their overall wearability (the casualness of Northern Michigan’s winter uniform extends slightly beyond jeans + boots + puffer coats on top of layers and layers of wool) makes every sweater in this collection a mandatory wardrobe staple–to me,?Home & Away is like a sacred text. It’s my knitting guidebook.

When we planned out our fourth KAL from this book, we knew we wanted to do something different. Because we hadn’t introduced a new Plucky colorway in awhile, we knew this would be the knockout combo we were after. We asked Sarah and Hayley for an extra special base? for this particular batch–and Snug, the most luxurious blend of Merino, cashmere and royal alpaca–is nothing short of divine.

(Thoreson Farm, a warm golden yellow named after one of the historic farms along the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.)

Lesley is an aran weight pullover that is flattering, comfortable and suuuuuper quick to knit. A great combo for a month-long knit-along, no?

The sweater is quite a bit more relaxed on me than it is on the model from Home & Away, a little by design and a little by accident. The pattern suggests negative ease of 0.5″; being between sizes (my actual measurements are 38″ and the pattern includes sizes of 36″ and 40″–I followed the instructions for the 40″) and due to a bit of a gauge snafu (I got 13.5 sts/4 inches vs. the 14 sts/4 inches the pattern calls for,) my sweater measures 42″ instead of 40″, which is 4″ of positive ease. I actually think it’s better for me than negative ease–I’m not slim and I don’t know that a body-hugging sweater would have been that flattering to my body in its current sugar-loving state. Ahem.

I knit this sweater in six days–cast on on January 30th (which was a Tuesday evening) and bound off on Monday morning, February 5th, and while yes, I do knit quite fast, I had, as everyone else in this whole world does, a whack of other things to do at the same time. I did not take any time off from work, nor did I knit at the shop any more than I normally do (while waiting on browsing customers, if I’m not pricing or cleaning or restocking) and I didn’t leave my daughters in extended child care to do it. (In fact, just like always, I had Sienna with me all day, every day. Sasha goes to full-time preschool M-Th.) This sweater was knit in the (very!) early mornings and late nights, and it was a tight but very doable goal for me. The secret? Putting in the time. I’m sure this will come as no surprise to you, but I spend an exorbitant amount of time fooling around on my phone. Much of it is knitting related, yes, but oh man, I waste so. Much. TIME. I knew if there was any chance on earth of finishing this sweater, I’d have to curtail my scrolling habit. So really, this sweater is the tangible proof of what a knitter can get done if she, you know, KNITS.

We’ll be kicking off our Lesley KAL on March 1st, but we’re taking pre-orders for the Leelanau Palette through this week only–click here to see all the colors in the range. As with all Plucky Knitter yarns, these colorways are available for a limited time and are exclusive to Wool & Honey. I’m currently racing against the clock to finish my Azimuth before the Olympic flame is doused, but I’m also considering knitting another Lesley–this time in Good Harbor Bay. There’s really no such thing as too many basics.


Imagine a morning spent sipping coffee with friends, the warm summer sun on your shoulders, chatting and gathering flowers, berries and roots from a dyer’s garden at your local CSA farm. Natural ecru skeins of Michigan-grown and spun yarn are prepped in tubs scattered around the farm, waiting to soak up dyes in the afternoon. An indigo vat is bubbling and there are willow branches and coreopsis and madder and goldenrod, splayed out in a natural rainbow. The dinner bell rings and you slide into your spot on a bench at the farmhouse table laden with still-warm veggies and fruits, harvested from the ground just hours before. With a full belly, you head off for some tutelage from the local dye experts, getting focused, hands-on instruction for dyeing yarn with Nature’s best pigments. Heading home in the evening, you’re buzzing with excitement–about meeting new friends, trying new foods and about the new projects you’ve got planned with yarn that was touched by so many creative hands right here in Michigan.

Goldenrod, freshly harvested and beginning its dye bath

We spent the first weekend of August doing that very thing. We co-hosted a natural dye workshop with Why Knot Fibers at Birch Point Farms, where two groups of happy students spent their days foraging, preparing and dyeing yarns, surrounded by friends and fresh food in storybook perfect summer weather.

Christina Barkel, Birch Point farm manager, harvesting indigo

Birch Point is a CSA vegetable farm in Leelanau County, just outside of Traverse City, overlooking South Lake Leelanau. Michelle Farese is the head of the operation, bringing local foods to markets, schools and the greater Northern Michigan community for more than a decade.

Michelle’s husband, Jess Piskor, owner of Bare Knuckle Farm in Northport, served an amazing farm luncheon on both days–build-your-own-tacos filled with local grass-fed beef and veggies, local cherries and apricots and a sweet, crunchy corn salad that we’re all still talking about.

from left: Erin, Vanessa, Mary, Anne, Liz and Josie listen to Michelle and Jess talk about their CSA

And then of course, there was yarn. Glorious yarn!

Kat and Claire, while primarily dyeing their yarn line with commercial-grade acid-fast dyes, are well-versed in the ways of natural dyeing. We were thrilled that they wanted to teach, an idea we’d been incubating since Deep Winter.

Most of the students had a bit of experience dyeing with commercial dyestuffs, but for many, this was the first experience they’d had with natural dyeing. And we think most of them were thrilled with the results, even the unexpected ones.

“‘Frederick why don’t you work?’ they asked.
‘I do work,’ said Frederick. ‘I gather sun rays for the cold, dark winter days.’
And when they saw Frederick sitting there staring at the meadow, they said, ‘And now Frederick?’
‘I gather colors,’ answered Frederick simply, ‘for winter is grey.’
And once, Frederick seemed half asleep. ‘Are you dreaming Frederick?’ they asked reproachfully.
But Frederick said, ‘Oh no, I’m gathering words, for the winter days are long and many.'”

-Leo Lionni, Frederick (one of my favorite children’s books of all time)

We’re tucking the memories of this blissful summer weekend away, where color and passion (and wool, blessed wool!) will certainly keep us warm, even as the days are short and cold and gray.

all photos courtesy of our good friend Courtney Michalik Kent of The Compass Points Here Photography


Interested in trying your hand at natural dyeing? We are thrilled to offer a few tools to the adventurous DIYer: an indigo dye kit,?a dye kit containing madder, cochineal, weld and logwood and the most exquisite compendium of natural dyeing to date: The Modern Natural Dyer. Kristine Vejar from A Verb For Keeping Warm has devoted her life’s work to creating and cataloging pigments from all over the world–we’re honored to carry this stunning resource in our shop. Not interested in dyeing yourself? We’ve got a beautiful kit–100% grown, spun and dyed in Michigan–for you to knit right here.