Friday, July 29, 2011

Celebrating Brown

It's hot as heck around here, and with the lack of rain, all that was green is turning brown :-( Brown is another one of those colors that brings on a number of different feelings for folks.

At times, when I think of brown, I think of everything starts to die off and ready for the hard winter ahead. Come January, brown makes me feel warm and toasty, as it brings on that cozy feeling you get when sitting by the fire and knitting with your favorite wool. Hot chocolate, coffee, chocolate truffles, all among my favorite "browns".

Here's just a sampling of what's to come for August, as we celebrate the color brown.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Becoming One With My Sketch Pad

Recently, we published what was our first sock design, Angelic Lyrics. This sock was designed in 2008, as part of our Toe-tally Ewe sock club. Before publishing, I attempted to add some design elements to this pattern, that in my mind were so clear, yet I wrestled with making them work with this simple lace pattern. I must have ripped this sock out at least a dozen times before I decided that the simplicity of the pattern, as initially written, was probably best left as is.

In the meantime, I took to drawing all of these ideas into a sketch book I purchased. It was a bit difficult to get started, fear I think, that I won't be able to get onto paper what's floating around in my head. I over came that fear! I have found that now that my ideas have been unleashed, I cannot put the design book down. I've been working on what I think will be a very beautiful lace shawl pattern. It's gorgeous on paper, but now I must sit and make it work with my stitches. Now to make time to knit it :-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting Lost In The Green

May was the month for green around, in many more ways than one. Our new green colorways proved to be a big hit, so the dye pots were kept busy. At the same time, we have been diligently working on our garden, and before we knew it, May had come and went.

Like many other families across the nation, we are trying to cut back on our expenses, for fear that the economy has NOT hit rock bottom yet, and the real suffering has yet to begin. Put the economic circumstances together with the recent, and very scary E. Coli outbreak in Germany and threats of biological warfare and it's made for a very scary environment. One in which you don't know who to believe, especially coming from those that grown/package our food.

We've had a garden for a number of years, but this year we are trying to go as organic as possible, and increase the harvest potential. I have tried to plant vegetables that are freezer friendly, like broccoli and green beans, and/or vegetables that I can jar. While the cost of establishing this garden was more than mere pennies (we had to bring in a load of top soil and a load of compost, not to mention the cost of building the raised bed), by and far, it will save us oodles at the grocery store.

With all of this business, we've not had much time to blog. I might also add, that the office is very hot and not conducive to sitting and writing a blog post. However, we have updated our shop, with our June Color Of The Month - Purple. Burgundy Grapes (left) quickly became a favorite for many, and we couldn't be more excited.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I've Joined The Army

If you followed my old Knittin' Diva blog, you know that I have long been an advocate for raising breast cancer awareness. My mother is a 15+ year survivor, and I have calcifications that have been "on watch" for more than 10 years. As a 40 something women, I am in awe at how many women still do not get mammograms or do self exams. So many women survive breast cancer now, because they are getting early screenings, but there are still hundreds of thousands that do not.

While a lot of attention over the last 3 decades has been given to the "cure", there is still still not a lot known about how breast cancer is caused in the first place. Scientists have been able to identify the BRCA1 & BRCA2 genes that may increase the likelihood of getting breast cancer by 80%, but that only pertains to about 5-10% of those who develop breast cancer. So what about the other 95%?

Dr. Susan Love, a long time breast cancer educator and advocate, launched a groundbreaking initiative, called the Army Of Women, that connects breast cancer researchers with real women who are willing to participate in wide variety of research studies. All women are encouraged to join the Army of Women, including breast cancer survivors and those who have never had breast cancer. The goal is recruit 1 million women, and thus far, we are 350,000 strong!

Since declaring “war on cancer” more than 40 years ago, the scientific community has made great strides in some areas. However, the number of women diagnosed with and dying from breast cancer is virtually the same as it was in 1969. Currently, the vast majority of resources for research are focused on early detection and treatment of breast cancer. More resources need to be spent on determining the cause of breast cancer, which isn’t just going to take more research – it’s going to take a different type of research. Studying mice and rats isn’t enough. Mice and rates do not get breast cancer. More studies must be done with actual women. The Army of Women is jumpstarting this type of research providing quick access to a diverse group of women for various studies.

For the sake of my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren to come, I'M IN! How about you? Learn more by going to

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Going In Reverse

I have a tendency to do things ass backwards….often. While learning a new concept, I have difficulties with being patient, while I read / learn about the concept…I often just want to get my hands in and play. Fiber dyeing is a case in point. Five years ago when I started Beyond Basic Knits, I simply played. I envisioned a color, sometimes changed that vision while the yarn was in the dye pot, and I applied. Most times my colorways would come out just as I had anticipated, but there were times when I got a bit over zealous with the color, and hated the outcome. My husband (who is an engineer) would look into the dye pot, and then look at me like I was crazy. I didn’t measure anything. I simply went by eye shot. I do this in my cooking too, so you next to never get the same exact dish twice. When I started hand dyeing, most people felt the same about their yarn purchases….they liked the fact that they would never get the same exact colorway twice.

Once I started knitting sweaters, this all changed. I can now appreciate the value of getting colors that don’t scream, but that sing a happy melody together. Of blending colors that compliment one another. This all brought me to the study of the color wheel, in which we are doing this year. I’m taking a step back, and playing with semi-solids, to try to learn more about tones, tints, shades, hues, and now, color value.

So what is color value anyway? Simply put, it is how light or a dark a color is. It is a comparison of a given color, to a scale of grays that range from white to black. (see scale below)

The numbers on the scale represent a percentage of black that has been mixed with white to form that particular gray.

We played a bit with this concept last month, when our color of the month was blue. We took our blue, which had a color value of about 10, added a bit of gray, which changed the value to about 30, and then added black, which changed the same color’s value to about 60. If you look at our Storm Surge Colorway, a colorway we introduced about 2 years ago, you can see this same concept in play, where we combined all 3. This is, by far, one of our best sellers. Only now, have we begun to explore these colors by applying each shade to a single skein, and the outcome is gorgeous. (As I said, ass backwards) By knowing what a colors value is, you can better plan how to compliment or contrast them, when planning a design or project. I see another sweater coming with this shade of blue.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Let The Fun Begin

In January, February & March, we explored the 3 primary colors (red, blue and yellow) as part of our Celebration of Color. We also learned about the differences between shade, tint, tone and pure color.

April is when the real fun begins, as we start to play around with combining the 3 primary colors, to create our own secondary colors. With warmer temperatures, the change in season giving us warmer, brighter days, and watching all of our vegetation come to life, we've decided to make April the month of orange.

Be sure to watch the blog, as we explore the color orange over the next 4 weeks, and the bad rap it gets. Maybe our exploration will help you see orange in a new way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Drawn To Blue

Right from childhood, I have had a thing for blue. If you look in my closet, you will see that most of my clothing is some shade of blue. (I'm a blue jeans and t-shirt kind of gal!) Many of my knitting projects are some shade of blue, a majority of my quilting projects have included blue, and if I thought my husband would let me, I'd paint a number of the rooms in our house, some shade of blue. I have boys that have blue eyes (Thank you God!) and a pair of Blue Jays that come and say hello every morning.

If you know me, you know that I can't swim. Yet, my favorite place to be is near the water (that's right - blue!). Blue skies that hold the promise of a new day, a fresh start, growth and a breath of fresh air. Blue waters, that while the waves gently beat along the shore, hold the power of both comfort and destruction. This same water scares me. That one day it will take my life, or that of my kids. Yet, I'm drawn to it, like a fly to fruit. Is it the power of blue?

Blue is the Color of the Month for March at BB Knits. A celebration of spring. The season that promises blue skies, blue birds and blue bells.