Only So Many Days

Happy New Year! 

It’s taken me a while to figure out how to start today. The truth is that between the normal hectic holidays stuff and the addition of Bear to our family, New Year’s kind of snuck up on us and I was even more thankful than I usually am to spend a quiet night at home.

Bear, in case you were wondering, is doing very well.

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He is a very happy pup who loves to be outside. In fact, when he figured out that he could ring the bell on the door or cry a little at it to go out and that we’d praise him for it, well, he was pretty sure he had hit the new home jackpot. It really didn’t matter that we put the bell there with a certain purpose in mind. He is definitely a pretty smart dog and has selective hearing/learning skills when he wants! We’ll leave out the parts where he routinely trips over his own feet and somersaults or accidentally face-plants instead of making it up that one small step and just stick with the idea that he is pretty smart. In any case, he has really settled in to rhythm of our family in the two weeks since we brought him home.

We’ve been doing our best to teach him manners, something for which Moose has been a huge help…

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I’ve never had two dogs at the same time before and it’s amazing to watch Moose teach Bear. If Bear gets caught chewing on something he shouldn’t and we redirect him, Moose will run over, toy in mouth, and drop it on Bear as if to say, “Here, chew on this instead. This thing is ok.” If Bear doesn’t take the hint, he picks it up and drops it on him again. And again. Until the pup gets it. He’s been teaching him to play chase nicely as well as where the perimeter of the yard is. I didn’t think I could love Moose more, but I do. I am totally humbled by his kind, thoughtful, patient soul.

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He is also getting lots of one-on-one love, of course, because no one deserves it more.

We’re also learning all the things that make Bear happy…

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Like chewing sticks on our balcony. He LOVES the cold and LOVES chewing sticks, but occasionally I need to do things like laundry or clip Moose’s nails (that was today’s challenge!), so he gets to go in his “puppy playpen.” He thinks it’s just the bee’s knees and doesn’t even realize that he’s letting us get actual things done.

As you can plainly see, most of my thoughts are on random dog training things or what the latest adorable thing the dogs are doing or — you know — how I’m dying because Bear is sleeping sooooo sweetly with his paws in the air, making little “sleep woofs.” Yeah… it’s kind of all dogs all the time right now. As it should be though. As Mr. Knitting Sarah says, there are only so many days in your life you get to spend with puppies and they are all special. Almost all other plans have flown the coop.

I’d hoped to have my bobbins empty and new yarns to share today. Instead, I have a bin of full bobbins…

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There are actually two more full bobbins than this which I set over by my wheel in a moment of wishful thinking where I thought I’d blow through 2 plying projects last night.

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I got through one… almost.

I also made a bit of progress on my Kickapoo Socks

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I am totally in love with this yarn. I wanted to get through the ribbing last night and I managed to do just that.

It’s the new year, though, and I do want to set some goals for myself. I’m a habitual goal-setter, before finishing one project I like to have the next set up, so I’m continually setting new goals, always. I do find the new year, with its clean calendar, is a fun time to set some new ones though, you know?

After years of setting fiber arts goals of all sorts and sizes, I’ve decided not to set any specific project goals for this year. I’m at a place in life where I need flexibility and my hobby needs to respond to whatever else is happening in life. I want my goals to reflect that, to be more general, more organizational, and more about setting priorities than checking boxes on particulars. Maybe it’ll prove too nebulous, or maybe it’ll be just the right fit… we will see!

So here, in no particular order are some of my 2019 fiber arts goals:

  1. Participate in the Three Waters Farm Skill Builder SAL this year
  2. Spin 15 a day with my friends in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Group
  3. Continue to improve how I evaluate and talk about my spinning so I can help others to become better spinners (this folds into #1)
  4. Do a better job of keeping  Ravelry project pages for my knitting & spinning projects
  5. Knit some of my stash’s sweater quantities, preferably into sweaters
  6. Find a way to revive my sock knitting
  7. Tag my handspun yarn as I finish it
  8. Make notes for future blog post ideas to make sitting down to write more efficient
  9. Figure out my loom warping situation and do some weaving
  10. Set-up a yarn winding station somewhere in the house that I can leave up

That all seems reasonable, right?

What are your fiber arts goals this year? 

(Oh, and one more gratuitous Bear photo, because you only get so many days with a puppy!)

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The World Falls Away

It feels like I have barely stopped moving since Tuesday evening when we brought our little Bear home. All the things happening outside of my home have fallen away as I focus on trying to find the right balance and rhythm to everyday life again. The fact that holidays are approaching in mere days is inconceivable.

I’m woefully behind in all previous planning as I work on savoring these puppy days. On Wednesday Bear became aware of what a leash is and we learned that one of the best ways to teach him is to have Moose lead the way. Now being on a leash is almost entirely about keeping up with his big brother! On Thursday, he discovered pine cones and had his first bath. On Friday, he found out he could play with sticks. Today he learned how much fun a tennis ball can be and went for a walk on his first trail hike and I am still picking the little burs out of his long coat.

As I tried to explain to my mom on the phone, having a 7 week old puppy in the house is kind of like having a toddler and an infant rolled into one. The sweet trust and innocence makes your heart melt over and over again, but there is also that unstoppable curiosity. And it is so much fun to watch him learn about the world, especially how much he looks to Moose for guidance and how Moose tries to teach the little dude. This, you see, is how you help make dinner…

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And this is how you look super pathetic and tiny when Mom is making dinner…

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And this is  how you sleep in Mom & Dad’s bed…

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Yes, since we expect Bear to be over 100lbs and Moose is 90lbs, this will eventually be a space issue, but for now it brings Bear much security and us some much needed rest. We will cross the space issue bridge when the time comes.

Aside from all-things-dog, very little has been happening. We did our best to finish up some pre-holiday school goals. A friend came over and we decorated Christmas cookies. That was chaos one step from mayhem, but so much fun. I finished knitting a hat…

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This is a Rikke Hat (a free Ravelry download) and knit in my handspun yarn from Three Water’s Farm’s August installment of their Top of the Month Club.

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I am very happy with the yarn — it just knit up so nicely!

I was curious about how the brim would be in garter with a smaller needle, but without ribbing and I’m happy to report the fit is great.

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Obviously I made the slouchy version — I just find it’s easier with my longer hair knowing I get a messy bun in there if I need to. I have enough yarn on there to put a pom on, but I don’t think I’m going to bother. I like it as is.

With supervision, I also started another hat…

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I tried Judy Marples’ Knit Night Hat originally, but wasn’t a fan of how it was knitting up in the yarn, so I went searching and found Clare Devine’s Acai hat pattern. It’s a much better fit for the yarn!

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It has a 2 round repeat which is about as good as it gets when you are picking it up and setting it down constantly.

I also started a pair of socks in this Kickapoo Sock Yarn that was a gift from a good friend…

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The colorway is called Blue Heron and it’s one of the prettiest colorways and nicest sock yarns I’ve knit. Obviously I’m not super far, but it’s a start! And sharing the beginning here has reminded me that I finished a pair of socks a couple weeks ago! I’ve worn them a couple times, but I will try to snap some photographs after the holiday.

Speaking of which, if I don’t get a chance to log on and write before next week, I want to wish you all a very heartfelt Happy Holidays! Whatever holidays you celebrate, may they warm your heart, bring a smile to your face. When all is said and done, may you rest as soundly and contentedly as a 7 week old puppy after his first trail hike. And maybe even allow yourself let the rest of the world fall away for a little while to enjoy the simple, fleeting pleasures that make up this life.

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From all of mine, to you and yours — Happy Holidays!!!

 

 

 

All The WIPs and One FO

After finishing my sweater, I’ve found myself shying away from the thought of finishing… anything.  As someone who is usually very methodical in my craft — first you start, then you work through the project, then you finish, and finally start a new project — it’s been a weird mindset in which to find myself. Thankfully, it’s not ledto a wild foray into startitis, but it has resulted into a few new WIPs.

I’m tantalizingly close to finishing this pair of socks…

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Just a little ways to go on the foot and then the toe and this pair will be done. I’ve been plinking away at it since mid-summer, so it’s time to mosey toward the end of this project one of these days.

Shortly after finishing my sweater, I started this shawl project…

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It’s a new-to-me construction (who knew there was such a thing — lol!) as I am knitting in a circle! As so many new techniques are, it was a bumpy start, but I seem to be cruising now. I have no idea how far I’ve left to go before I hit some cool lacework, but I’m kind of slowly working my way into this project. I’m still debating another knitting project as I have yarn wound for hats and really could use some extra hats, especially with holiday company coming in a couple weeks. I think I’ll attempt to finish up the socks and then move on to hats. I don’t want to get too crazy with this multiple projects at once thing!

In spinning news, I’ve been very driven to work on singles. I’m definitely in a “fill the bobbins and worry about plying another day mode.” And so that’s exactly what I’ve been doing with the exception of my latest Top of the Month Club

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Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm and I found ourselves curious how it would look as a traditional 3-ply and really there’s only one way to find out. Spin it!

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It just turned out beautiful! Add it to the list pile of yarn I want to knit into hats!

In the great game of “fill the bobbins” though, I’ve got singles for Nest‘s Damaged Goods…

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Three Waters Farm’s Multifarious Ruse…

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These are all set to ply.

On the wheels — because I’ve been splitting time between my Jensen Tina 2 & Schacht Reeves — I’ve got an Inglenook batt in a braid (I think) in the Hazelnut colorway happening. I’m probably 1/3 of the way through the fiber I have…

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And Three Waters Farm’s Maple Leaf Rag is almost finished.

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Seriously, 5 minutes and I’ll be done with this. I’ve not yet decided what spin will come next on this wheel, but you probably won’t be surprised to know I have some ideas.

It’s really quite weird to not be focused in on finishing anything in particular, especially right before the holidays when most are feverishly knitting on holiday gifts. I have to say though, I’m finding it very refreshing! I’m not sure how long it’ll last — it may end when I hit “publish” on this post! — but I’m going to enjoy it while it does!

 

A Handspun Tecumseh Triumph

When Caitlin Hunter released Tecumseh last March, it was — like so many of her patterns are — instantly added to my to-knit list. I toyed with the idea of buying yarn for it a number of times, but always stopped short. It was hard to justify a yarn purchase (no really, it was!) when I have sweater quantities here “in stock.” Toward the end of summer I realized that I had two out of three of the colors I was looking for in my fiber stash. Could I do it? Should I make a handspun Tecumseh?

The answer, it turns out, was yes. I had to get a little extra fiber, but it was still less expensive than buying another sweater quantity of yarn (that’s an important note in my irrational rationalization of this whole thing). If you’ll remember I spun up a test skein in September…

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It was a little on the heavy side for the knitting to gauge, so while I still did all the calculations in case all the yarn came out a little too heavy, I aimed lighter for the rest of the yarn which I spun mostly during Spinzilla. It turns out Spinzilla is a great opportunity to spin a sweater quantity of yarn if you’re in the mood to fly through it and not allow yourself time to get bogged down. It only took a week or so beyond the event to finish up all the yarn…

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And shortly after that, I swatched again and found that I’d indeed hit the nail on the head for gauge. I started knitting.

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, this project just flew. If I were a cat, colorwork knitting would be my catnip. It’s normal for me with any colorwork project that I cannot put down, but this sweater just hit the perfect rhythm for me. Colorwork, short stockinette section, more colorwork, repeat. It was the project that just kind of propelled me forward effortlessly.

Even though I was busy during the month of November, each night my few rounds of Tecumseh were something I looked forward to, like a treat for making it through the tougher days. img_4449

And it just flew.

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Before I knew it, I was on to the sleeves. And then I was trying it on, a finished sweater. I was a little concerned on that first try post-finishing that the sleeves were short. I’d followed the pattern’s recommendations, but I believe they are written to be what comes across to me as a little high-watered. I knew from other people’s photos, the sleeves did run a bit on the short side for many and I was torn between leaving them or giving mine a bit more length. Considering the fiber blend I’d used (80/20 Merino/Tussah), I thought there was a good chance that a warm soak would relax them enough to make them perfect without adjusting them. This is where knowing your fiber blends, how you spin, and the resulting yarn helps a lot!

I drew a warm bath for my sweater with a bit of wool wash and a hefty dose of vinegar, too. I had already washed and set the yarn and did not expect any of the colors to bleed, but with colorwork projects I don’t think you can ever be too careful. After letting it soak for a while, I pulled it out squeezed as much of the water out as I could and set it out to dry, with just a very basic reshaping. And then I waited. It’s a fairly heavy sweater with the colorwork, so even in low humidity it took a few days to dry.

And Voilà! A finished sweater!

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I went with the ultra generous fit. I think my positive ease is 13-14″ which is a lot. And I love it.

I was doing some garage and yard work this morning and I’m not exactly presentable, so I had my girl take this headless portrait so you could see the final fit, including the worrisome sleeve length which thankfully turned out just right.

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Perfetto! It’s big and cozy and just the absolute perfect comfy weekend sweater.

I think the blue + yellow + grey turned out just right, too.

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The yellow is definitely bright, but I love the combination and I think these colors play so nicely together.

Can I show you a little secret, too?

You may or may not know that I’m a huge fan of subtle little imperfections. As I was spinning the grey, I happened to have a few little bits of red fiber from a previous spin sitting next to me. I thought… wouldn’t it be kind of cool to spin them into this grey? Just a little something to make it truly unique, a little yarn design element that’s all mine.

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There are two spots in my sweater that have just that little hint of red. It’s kind of like a little secret just for me.

And there you have it! My handspun Tecumseh sweater is officially finished. I’m wearing it as I type. I may not take it off until next spring!

 

Down The Road & Back Again

The Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group selected the Down The Road and Back Again Shawl as the second annual knitalong this fall. I need to give a great big shout-out to my two amazing moderators and everyone over there. They keeps things so fun and inspiring and wonderful even when I drop in and out of the conversation and for that I am just so happy and thankful. I’m always humbled that this incredible group meets up under a banner I created and have made it their own. I could sing their praises all day long, but they would probably be happier if I’d just get on with it and share my project today!

Unlike last year, when I had to restart the group KAL no fewer than three times because the first 2 yarn combinations just didn’t fit, this year I got it on the first try. Sure I had a half dozen options pulled out of my stash, but when it came time to cast-on I kind of had a pretty good feeling where it was going to work.

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I mean, how could I not fall instantly in love with this?

And unlike last year, I just couldn’t put it down…

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Anywhere I went!

It took me about a month from start to finish.

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And then about 6 weeks to get it washed and photographed. Seriously?! Am I the only one with this lag time problem? I need to work on that!

In any case, today I have some FO photos (finally) and I’m just so pleased to share them!

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It’s cold where I’m from, so this is likely how I’ll be styling this shawl most days. But I think you need to open it up to really appreciate it…

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From the details…

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To the shawl set wide open…

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I’m just extremely happy with how it turned out.

The tonal was a gift from a dear friend and is String Theory Caper Sock in the Dark and Stormy colorway. And the contrast color is my own handspun, a 40/40/20 Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk fiber in the Merry Poppies colorway from Three Waters Farm.  It was actually the first yarn I spun on my Jensen Tina 2 when I got it earlier this year and it’s just a simple 2-ply fingering weight. The two yarns went together beautifully.

There you have it! Another year of the annual Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group KAL is in the books for me! Who else is already looking forward to next year?!

Box Ticking

I’m definitely someone who is driven by ticking items off of a list. Nothing motivates me more than seeing progress unfold. This means that it I make a list and I keep said list on-hand, I’m generally guaranteed to get things done. The more way points I have to check off, the better I function. First you do this, check. Then you do this, check. And finally you do this, check. It is music to my ears.

It should come as no surprise then that when you add evenly spaced colorwork to a sweater project that it will translate to mild obsession for me. First I will work the neck short rows, check. Then I will work the first yellow colorwork section, check. Next I will complete the first blue colorwork section, check. And so on and so forth. This has turned out to be my Tecumseh handspun sweater knit and I am just all in on it.

This is where I was one week ago…

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And this is where I am today…

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The next complete round will send me into the final repeat of the blue colorwork on the body of this sweater. If I’m estimating correctly that’ll put me somewhere between 2-4″ from the bottom ribbing. Not too shabby for a week of knitting!

Also on the good news front…

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My Stylish Hermit project bag still has plenty of yarn in it for the rest of the sweater, I think. My gauge has been pretty consistent throughout this knit and I’m not yet halfway through my main color skeins, so I am hopeful that my yardage will hold up and it’s all going to work out just fine. I don’t know why, but with handspun projects it’s around this point that I start to freak out a little about running out of yarn. I’m relieved that not only is the main color looking promising, but the contrast colors are right where I expected them to be. I’ve been knitting with slightly more generous than I think I need floats on the back of the colorwork because I decided I’d rather risk have slightly larger gauge on those stitches or too much yarn on the wrong side than have the colorwork choking the fabric at all. So far, not only do I have enough yarn, but it’s looking pretty good. I intend to give it a good solid blocking when it’s all done and I feel fairly confident that it’ll turn out pretty darn close to exactly how I want it.

I had been a little unsure about how I’d use the contrast colors because the yellow was a very high contrast to the grey and the blue, not so much. At this point, I’m really not concerned any more…img_4450

There’s some glare on this image, but suffice to say, I just really adore this whole combination. It’s just like I dreamed it would be.

I’d love to keep writing about it here, but honestly, let’s be real, I have an obsession to get back to… I mean a sweater to get back to knitting. I did, after all, just finish the last yellow colorwork section on the body, check. So I know I now need to get on finishing up the last blue colorwork section on the body. And then the last few inches of the main color. And finally, the ribbing. So many boxes to tick, I’d better get to it!