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.

img_3607

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

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

img_3612

Anywhere I went!

It took me about a month from start to finish.

img_3692

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!

img_4473-1

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…

img_4474

From the details…

img_4477-1

To the shawl set wide open…

img_4476

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?!

Ready, Set, Knit!

Oh, this feels like it’s been a long time coming, this latest handspun sweater project. The idea started somewhere in August when the Three Waters Farm Handspun Sweater-along began and I hemmed and hawed a bit getting started on it because it felt, well, honestly, it felt  d a u n t i n g.

I spun one skein early to get a feel for the right weight…

img_3557

And then I did a little light swatching…

img_3641

To make sure I was on a good track. And then I waited for Spinzilla.

Spinzilla, I knew, would be a good combination of motivation and time to push through a good portion of this spin.

img_3890

And it really did do the trick. I managed to spin through 20 of the 44oz I was planning to spin for this project (hopefully way more than I need) during the week of Spinzilla. Adding in the original test skein, that put me over the halfway mark. As you might guess, that was a mental hurdle that I was happy to clear!

Rather than take a break from the tonal grey, I spun on through the remaining 8oz of grey and then alternated — blue, yellow, blue for the finish. Singles spun first in one long run, gathering full bobbins in a basket and then one nice long final plying extravaganza. And then straight into the bath for a wash and set!

And today, today everything is dry. All my sweater yarn is ready to go. I just have to wind it!

img_4396

Although I kind of just want to stare at it for a while because I just love the color combination.

img_4397-1

I have to admit that I still have worries. I stare at the beautiful pile of yarn and all I can think is… “OMG, what if I don’t have enough after all that?!” and “Are those colors really going to look OK together?!” You know, just a little mild panic.

Thankfully, now that I’m done taking pictures like this…

img_4395-1

In order to record this sweater spinning feat for posterity, I can just get it wound and get knitting. I will know the answers to my questions soon enough!

 

 

O, Transience!

img_4347

I wanted to share this little blast from the past today because last week this little peanut turned 11. Where does the time go?! My parents came into town for the last half of the week to celebrate and we did it up right with some good quality family time and a cake from which we are still recovering…

img_4337

My girl — who in her mind is definitely the female version of Owen Grady, velociraptor wrangler of Jurassic World — created it. In case it’s not clear, she insisted we carve the cake into a hill-like shape and that it must have a “water feature” complete with truffle rocks. The gummy bears, of course, are the victims of this fierce predator and the red frosting and sprinkles, the carnage. It is weird that something so gruesome is also literally so insanely sweet. And I don’t care what anyone says, gummy bears should not be on a frosted cake, but I declined to tell the cake artist that. It was her day and her cake, after all.

Like birthdays, the march of time is relentless in its journey forward toward winter. Most of the leaves are down now and the temps have cooled off considerably. This is the time when most people start to skip their walks and hikes and stay cozy indoors, but not us! As is a family motto, “There is no bad weather, just poor clothing choices!”

img_4349

We are truly spoiled where we are that there is no shortage of trails to explore and most of the time we get them to ourselves. That means, plenty of time and space to examine the world around us.

img_4265

In all it’s weird…

img_4351

And wonderful glory, changing daily before our eyes. Even the greyest of days, even when it’s 40 degrees and spitting cold rain…

img_4350

There’s so much to see and enjoy. Trust me, it may look like a barren field, but there are loads of wonders out there!

At home, I’ve started exploring a new avenue, too…

img_4341

The support spindle! Isn’t this a pretty one?

img_4343-2.jpg

It’s a spalted maple “acorn” from Maine Fiber Tools. I’m still 100% thumbs when trying to use it, but I’ll keep at it. I’ll crack the code someday!

When not fumbling with the support spindle, I’ve been working on a spin for my mom…

img_4384-2

She was looking for something black for a neutral scarf and we found some battlings, procured from an LYS that has since shuttered its doors and a dyer that no longer dyes wool. I don’t know why, but it seems like another quiet reminder of the passing of time, how things change and evolve on all levels of this world.

I’ve also picked up a sock project that’s been on the back burner, simmering since July. I’ve knit on it here and there over the months and then I finished all the way to the last stitches on the toe a couple weeks ago… and couldn’t find my darning needle! The shame and horror!

56246837569__66f06206-8a2a-46ec-ac48-5af94c2280d0

Alas, I tracked it down (finally), finished the toe, wove in my ends and started sock #2.

As always, the sock knit is an essential road trip must-have, so it rode along with me yesterday when we took the kiddos up to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum for their annual Birds in Art Exhibit.

45066608_10155501865702000_4681760806453379072_o

 

As a former student of art history, I’m always amazed how the lingo rushes back when you stick me in an art museum. This exhibition we find particularly good for our family because just like art helped me to better understand history way back when, the birds are an easy access point into viewing art for our kids.

45064121_10155501865777000_8568686340814667776_o

We are able to discuss the different media and subject matter and how to read the labels on the works of art. The hands-on exhibits provided by the museum are, of course, a favorite for our very hands-on crew. I certainly appreciated that they had a silk screening set-up out for touching since trying to explain to an 11-year-old what “a giant squeegee-like thing” is when describing silk screening is not super effective without a visual. So much for technical art lingo!

In any case, outside the museum, well, autumn was still whispering in some places.

img_4365-2

And this theme of time passing, kept presenting itself; from my girl’s birthday, to the seasons, to using familiar and learning new skills in my craft. It’s so important, the ebb and flow of all things, always on display, always evolving from one iteration to the next and setting us in motion.

O, transience! I am reminded to look for and celebrate the variance within the expected, to let go and welcome in what looks different than that to which I’ve grown accustomed, and to honor each changing moment as a step in this grand journey.

img_4362-1

 

 

 

A Box Full of Memories

As the leaves are past peak here and the temperatures feel mostly down for good, it’s become apparent that I needed to re-organize the cedar chest where I keep most of my handknits. I did not take a “before” picture, but to know what it looked like all you have to do is imagine a heap of handknits wadded together in a ball and smooshed down — that was about it!

As I started pulling stuff out and tossing it into heaps with like articles…

img_4201

I realized that I don’t just have a wealth of handknits, I have a box full of memories at the foot of my bed.

Folding sweaters and pairing socks and separating out big shawls from scarves from lace shawls, I was reminded of the history of each piece. And I thought, what a sweet nostalgia-inducing collection I have here at my fingertips.

There’s a scarf I crocheted for Mr. Knitting Sarah before our kids were born. I bought the yarn back in Madison when I was still working in the area.

img_4221

Somwhere I have a picture of Mr. KS wearing it in a McDonald’s playland one winter day having taken our toddler babes to run some energy off.

There’s the first shawl I ever knit as a shop sample when I took on teaching knitting…

img_4211

Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West made in Malabrigo Silky Merino. This was way back when I had to print a Stephen West pattern from a blog he posted, I think, because he was not yet publishing patterns.

And there is the last item I knitted as a knitting instructor…

img_4214

The Carter Cardigan by Laura Chau knit in Lamb’s Pride Worsted. I never got to teach the class, but it was and still is an amazing sweater!

There’s this Quaker Ridge Shawlette by Susan B. Anderson

img_4206

I knit it in Madelinetosh Pashmina. When I made this one, I remember thinking it was the height of luxury as it is so soft and cozy and the colors were just a beachy dream to me.

There’s this little kerchief I knit in the skein of qiviut that Mr. KS gave me as a gift one holiday…

img_4203

The pattern was kind of a train wreck, but I muddled through and it’s still a favorite piece as it was such a thoughtful gift.

There’s this little sweater I knit as a shop sample and then my daughter later got to wear…

img_4216

I always meant to gift this to another little girl, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

There’s Deco by Kate Davies

img_4213

I knit this as knitalong with a friend shortly after I left teaching. I made it five years ago and it’s probably the best made sweater I’ve knitted. I like to think it was the excellent company during the process!

There’s my most worn sweater — Agnes in Quince & Co Puffin.

img_4204

It looks pretty rough and could use a spin with the Gleener to clean up the lint, but in its almost 3 years of life, it’s been on almost every wintry outdoor adventure I’ve been on. That is a lot of wear and oh, how I am thankful for this sweater!

There’s my second Three Waters Farm knit (the first I gifted away)…

img_4205

Samothrace Wings in Broken Pavement that taught me what a true joy it was to knit with handspun.

And my first handspun sweater…

img_4212

A Featherweight Cardigan in Birds in the Holly from Three Waters Farm, which is still a layering favorite.

And there’s this little handspun shawl knit with a friend’s handspun after she said, “Let’s do an exchange.”

img_4209

It’s a Pebble Beach Shawl in the colorway Pebble.

 

There’s my first pair of socks for the Socks with Sarah KAL

img_4219

Still in use almost 5 years later.

And there’s my first 100% handspun socks

img_4220

Oh, the fit on these is divine. My heart still flutters a bit when I put them on.

And then there’s the knit where it all started, my very first handknit…

img_4218

Before Ravelry, before my kids, before we bought our first house, knit in our last apartment in Madison. A simple custom cardigan knit in Lamb’s Pride Bulky so it is basically like wearing a furnace, I’ve never actually worn it anywhere as my first teacher didn’t really teach me about gauge… well, you know how that story ends. Despite the ill-fit, I’ve not yet had the heart to get rid of it.

Along with these memories are a bunch of other socks and sweaters and scarves and shawls, each with their own story. And isn’t that just the best part of handknits — they each hold a place in time and in our hearts. Tidying up my cedar chest quickly turned from chore to a stroll down memory lane. Not a bad way to spend a few minutes this Monday morning, tidying up a chest to make it easier to use my handknits and sifting through a box full of memories.

img_4225

 

 

Not That I’m Getting Ahead Of Myself…

Yesterday, Mr. Knitting Sarah and I had made plans to go out bird-watching with a friend. As we always do, when making the plans we both checked the weather and found it was predicted to cold — in the mid-30s — and cloudy. Chilly, but not bad when you are armed with hot coffee in the car.

We awoke early Sunday to make said coffee and I went to put a little bird food in the feeders for the day before we left and I could swear it felt like maybe it was raining. But it couldn’t be. I had checked the weather. I chalked it up to me being crazy and imagining things, you know, as one does with rain so often — lol! When we’d finally packed up and headed out, we didn’t get more than a couple blocks from the house when it started to rain in earnest. Rain turned to sleet which turned to snow that didn’t stick to the ground which turned to snow that did stick to the ground…

img_3903

We got less than an inch total, but it coated everything in a beautiful white glow this morning…

img_3907

Set off by the truest of blue skies that you get when you have weather like this. The bird watching expedition may have been pretty quiet thanks to this unexpected (at least for us!) weather, but I think it was worth it for the beautiful outcome. And what does snow bring out in the knitter and spinner in all of us, but knitting and spinning, of course!

I’ve been almost singular in my pursuit of the end of my Tecumseh sweater spin. I started with 44oz to spin well beyond plenty yardage for this oversized sweater and I’ve got just about 7oz left of singles to spin and then ply. In the grand scheme of things, I’m so close and oh can I feel it! To keep myself motivated, I’m now spinning both of the contrast colors — one on my Schacht Reeves & one of my Jensen Tina 2.

Sunshiney Day on my Schacht Reeves…

img_3911

And Iron Blue on my Jensen Tina 2…

img_3909

The singles for the remaining Grey I have for the main color are finished and waiting to be plied…

img_3912

This has become my plying basket as I intend to finish all the singles that remain and then ply and finish everything all in one go. All these fibers are spun from Three Waters Farm colorways on the 80/20 Merino + Tussah Silk base. It is safe to say that I am beyond pleased with myself on the progress of this project!

It wouldn’t be me, however, if this was all I had in the works. I’ve also been slowly but surely plugging away at my AndreSue Sock Blank socks…

img_3914

I’ve got about an inch left to go before I hit the toe decreases on sock #1 here.

There you have it, my nearly single minded pursuit of all things handspun sweater. And if you didn’t think I was crazy enough for my handspun sweater obsession, I want you to envision Andrea Mowry’s Nurtured, in this….

img_3913

I may have the fiber sitting here ready to go for it… Not that I’m getting ahead of myself or anything.

All The Grey Fiber

My daughter gently nudged me awake last night at 2am to inform me she’d just been sick.  As these things go, she did an admirable job of mostly getting to the bathroom “in time” so that the clean-up was minimal. When things settled down and I’d taken her temperature and assessed that there really wasn’t anything more to do for her right then, I tucked her back into bed and she slowly started to dose back to sleep. It took me far too long to settle back down after all the hub-bub, so I watched some reruns of the Great British Baking Show until I dosed off, mentally noted that I definitely needed to attempt to bake a Prinsesstarta and a Povitica (because of course a relatively novice baker should take on these incredibly complex recipes…) and maybe learn to make donuts from scratch, too.

When morning rolled around I awoke startled, sensing instantly that it was late and that I had an odd hankering for fresh baked pastry. 7am?! I’d slept over an hour later than normal! And while my girl had stoically already gotten up and showered, she was clearly still under the weather. At this point, I’m not sure if it’s a stomach bug or a migraine or both, but suffice to say I tucked her back into bed, made sure she had fluids, and she’s stayed there all day dosing and watching a little TV.  She’s got that classic tired-eyes look that kids get when they are under the weather, so it looks like she needs it!

I’ve tried to make the most of this surprise sick day. In between my regular checks on my girl and knocking out a bit of school with my son, I have been tackling the to-do list. Having picked up extra school hours yesterday with the plan that we’d go light on schoolwork Friday to make room for household tasks, I’d planned on getting to it all tomorrow, but sometimes you just have to roll with the hand life deals you. My boy & I agreed to flip-flop the plans for today and tomorrow. My mother & father-in-law will be visiting next week and I’m using their visit as an excuse to do some fall cleaning, to get things nice and tidy and fresh before it’s time to button up the house for winter. Rumor has it we’ll have our first night dipping into the 30s tomorrow night, so it’s high time we got ready for it! So along with a few errands, today belonged to cleaning.

I’m happy to report that at this point I feel comfortably ahead of schedule. There are a few more items I may or may not get to, but I’m well aware and grounded in the knowledge that they are in the “want to” not “need to” category, so we will see how everyone is feeling tomorrow. With family that we don’t get to visit with much headed this way, healthy kids are the most important goal right now!

In any case, I have made what does not look like a lot of progress on the craft side of things, but in reality it’s kind of a big deal, not to mention no small miracle that I got to it. Some weeks you celebrate the small stuff, right?! Prepare to be slightly underwhelmed!

img_3691

This is wholly not glamorous, but I prepped all the grey merino + silk fiber. And by all the grey merino + silk fiber, I mean I had 16oz from one dyelot and 12oz from another and rather than try to figure out how to hold some of it back and still get a good blend between the two lots, I just prepped all the grey merino + silk fiber. Blending and floofing and creating about a zillion little nests of ready-to-spin grey fiber. It took me about 3 days worth of free time and I have no good place to store it without squishing it, but that is the main color of my sweater spin and it’s ready to go! And that is something to celebrate! I’m unsure if I’ll start it now or wait for Spinzilla which is coming up the first week of October, but honestly right now I’m just happy it’s ready!

The other main project I’ve been working on is my current addiction…

img_3692

I just cannot put this beauty down! It’s my Down The Road and Back Again Shawl and it’s so fun and easy to knit.

img_3693

I’m really mesmerized by how the handspun is knitting up with this lovely commercial yarn. I’m about 10grams — you gauge where to turn by weight — from the point where you switch to the center section. I may try to push through that so I’m comfortably into the decrease section when our guests arrive. Since I’m unexpectedly ahead in cleaning tasks at this point, perhaps I’ll get right to that!

Helping to propel me along the way in all tasks both crafty and on the cleaning front, I’ve been attempting to learn to love audiobooks. I’ve always been a hard copy kind of lady when it comes to books, but because of how my life is structured with school, chores, and craft that all seem to require my hands, I thought I would try to learn to love audiobooks. I’ve never been a huge fan because my mind has always tended to wander, but I am giving it the ol’ college try. So far, so good. I don’t think audiobooks will ever overtake my love of a good hard copy, but it’s nice to be able to “read” while I’m cleaning or cooking or baking (ahem… fancy cakes and breads…) or spinning or knitting.

It is time for me to go and check on my girl and flip some laundry and after that, I think I may have earned some time with my latest book and knitting. Hopefully I will cruise toward that turning point on my shawl and maybe get through to the end of my book. After my tumultuous night last night and all the work around the house today, I’m guessing I may hit the hay early tonight!