The Accidental Year of Large Projects

Somehow I’ve started 2019 off with some good progress working my way through sweater quantities in my stash. Honestly, that’s not what I necessarily set out to do, but after the good start with my Weekender sweater I started labeling my handspun and realized I needed to free up some room on my shelves  for this new handspun yarn.

What’s the quickest way to make space on shelves? Knit a lot of yarn. More specifically, knit a lot of heavier weight yarn! And there’s not quicker way to free up space on the shelves that to knit heavier weight sweaters. Enter my Milliken knit!

It was probably a year ago at about this time that I saw the pattern and thought about how nice it would be to have a cozy knitted vest for hiking. There are so many days in the shoulder seasons when just keeping my core warm is enough and in spring especially, it is so freeing after a winter trapped in a parka. I have a knit sweater made from Quince & Co Ibis, their newly discontinued Bulky weight wool/mohair blend, and it’s super warm. I don’t mean to tempt fate as we’ve seen some pretty COLD temps this year, but that sweater is almost too warm for more than the chilliest days. Yes, a vest made out of Ibis would do nicely, I thought. Somewhere during the year I acquired the yarn and then once my Weekender was done, I cast on.img_5702

This is the only in-progress photo that I have I think. That’s probably because it barely took me two weeks to complete it. The pattern is simple and fun and the yarn is as scrummy as I remember it (I’m more than a little bummed it’s disco’ed!). I followed the directions for the body, going a bit generous in the main body for a slightly longer vest, but not a ton. I knew this yarn would block out on the generous side so I didn’t want to overdo it, but I also needed to go beyond the “hits at wearer’s waist” element because that length definitely cuts my body type in an unflattering way. That’s not even considering the cold drafts I’d encounter with a shorter length — I definitely did not want any drafts interrupting my coziness! Minor length adjustment made, I’m very pleased with the results!

img_6333I would definitely recommend this knit for anyone in need of a bulky vest. It’s a quick, easy knit and I think the finished garment has really lovely designs elements. From that garter + slip stitch patterning on the front…

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To the garter side detail and little split hem.

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And the cozy cowl neck.

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There was some disagreement in my house as to whether or not I should add the cowl on to the neck. It’s an add-on after the rest of the vest is completed, so it’s one of those elements you can add or leave off very easily. Mr. Knitting Sarah was solidly anti-cowl neck, but in the end I opted to put it on and see what it looked like knowing it would be easy to rip back out if I didn’t like it.

I picked up my stitches and got to knitting on the cowl. As I knit on it, I realized I really did not want the shaping in the pattern and wondered, what would this look like if I just left the shaping out? I was a little nervous it would be unwieldy or ginormous, but again, what’s the harm in trying? This led to questions about how long to knit on it, if I was not shaping it. Oh, so many questions. I knit on. I ended up using up most of one skein of yarn and a stretchy bind-off. The stretchy bind-off was another roll of the dice because I didn’t want the collar to be crazy, but I didn’t want to be choked by my cowl neck. It worked great! Hooray for improvising as you go and always buying an extra skein of yarn for garments!

I’ve got another sweater on the drying rack already, but I’ve taken a few days off of sweater knitting while I finish up a pair of socks for my hubby and darn a few pairs, too. It seems all his socks are failing at the same time, so I need to get him sorted out before my next large project gets underway. I’m very excited to get going on it though — I’ve got three sweaters picked out already — French Braid Cardigan, Seaboard Sweater, and Cassis — and I’m happy to report they will all be knit from stash yarn! I’m hoping to make headway on them before the weather gets too warm, but I also want to get into my linen sweater quantities this summer so I’ll play it all out by ear depending on how far I get.

Suffice to say though, I’m focused and really enjoying these big projects! It’s really kind of thrilling to take these yarns I’ve been sort of hoarding for the *perfect* moment and just knitting the heck out of them and creating the garments of my dreams. The accidental year of large projects? I’m all in!

 

 

Hat Mania

I don’t know if it’s the weather or the appeal of the simple, easy, quick project, or just necessity born of the fact that I have successfully lost or at least misplaced a number of hats by this time of year, but this time of winter I tend to go into a hat mania.

Just before Christmas, I shared my finished Rikke Hat. I’ve been wearing it a ton, so I was aptly inspired to finish up my Acai Hat. I wound the yarn at the same time as the yarn for the Rikke Hat. It’s handspun Three Waters Farm Superwash Targhee in the Put Off My Blues colorway.

 

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It’s a beautiful colorway that makes me super happy, but the way I spun it really made for a busy fabric. I start with a stockinette stitch hat pattern, but I was not a fan of it so I opted to switch gears and find a pattern that is more textural.

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I’m really happy with how the Acai Hat worked with it and it proved a great project to work on with the puppy in the house. Interesting to occupy my mind that was tired after chasing the pup all day, but easy enough that I could still knit it on auto-pilot to an extent.

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It’s quite different from the hats I usually knit and that’s exactly why I like it!

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I think the texture compliments the busy colors nicely.

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And I have just enough slouch in it for the relaxed look that I love.

It won’t shock you to know that I’ve got 2 more skeins of yarn sitting on my desk, all wound and ready to become hats. Let the hat mania continue! You can’t have too many hats during winter in Wisconsin, can you?!

 

 

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!

 

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?!