An Ordinary Extraordinary Week

Sometimes you go into a week a with the best intentions of accomplishing a particular list of tasks. This week my crafty to-do list looked like this:

  1. Finish Fairbanks Pullover
  2. Finish Top of the Month Club singles from Three Waters Farm
  3. Start plying purple handspun weaving project (on Lendrum)
  4. Make fauxlags and start learning long draw
  5. Wash, dry, and photograph handspun Find Your Fade

And, my friends, I completed one and a half of these tasks!

It was the first week back to school for us, so that always makes for being extra busy organizing and convincing at least one of the kids at any moment to focus and stay on target with studies. That in turn changes my energy levels by the end of the day and often results in a little improvisation on the crafty front. It’s knitting and spinning in real life, you know?

After school, the first distraction I had can be summed up in one word: spindles. Upon returning from vacation and checking out all the AMAZING posts in the #wemakeyarn event on Instagram, I found a couple people who had taken up the issue of the “wheel” prompt as being a little exclusive of those who spin only with spindles. Of course, that was not our intent at all. In fact, my partner in this endeavor, Mary Ann at Three Waters Farm, was actually the person who encouraged me to pick up the spindle again after only moderate success and helped me to find the right spindles for me and really, truly find my spindle love. And now, I carry a spindle with me almost everywhere I go!

In any case, I’d only brought my spindles on vacation and was kind of on a roll. Add to that the conversation about spindle spinning on Instagram and I was inspired to just kept going…

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Spindle spinning is perfect for so many situations and school with the kids is one of them. I did go back and review Abby Franquemont’s Respect the Spindle DVD, just to see if there was anything I was forgetting or anything I could glean since I now have a little more experience. It can be a challenge to find really good quality spindle instruction if you don’t have access to a teacher locally, but this video is definitely quite good.

I also became curious about Turkish spindles again. I’ve used them in the past, but I’ve just never found the Turkish spindle for me. I’ve tried 3D printed ones and larger wooden ones and teeny tiny wooden ones and while I could spin with them and they are absolutely fine tools, they just weren’t the right fit for me.

I’ve always wondered about Jenkins Turkish spindles as I have only ever hear raves about them and noticed that The Woolery carries them now. Granted, these don’t have the sweet little individualized designs on them that many Jenkins spindles to, I thought it was worth trying. I hopped on the online chat with The Woolery and picked the brain of one of their resident spindle spinners to see if they could offer any advice on these and help me crack the code and find a “turk” that really fit me.

And these two were headed by way shortly after…

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On the left is a 0.63oz Bigleaf Maple Aegean and on the right a 0.77oz Rambutan Lark. I’m still getting a feel for them, to be sure — the inconsistent yarn is a testament to that fact — but I’m really enjoying getting to know these lovely, well-balanced spindles. I think I can see a future with them — hooray!

The one item I did check off the list was finishing the Top of the Month Club singles.

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I’ll be chain plying them shortly with my Lendrum after they’ve had a nice rest (and I get the wheel set-up).

The other item I sort of half finished was I did wash and dry my Find Your Fade. I’ll admit, I’m seriously taken with this project. I mean, there are not only a lot of hours knitting in it, but also it is wholly handspun and it turned out so much better than I ever hoped it could. I will try not to get too precious about the photography, but it’s going to be very hard not to because I am compelled to do it full justice.

In other distractions, istead of prepping fauxlags so I could start the harrowing journey of teaching myself long draw, I decided I would start first by getting a feel for the Schacht Reeves’ big whorl.

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I have only done light weight plied yarns with this wheel thus far and it’s time to start branching out! Again, this is not the most consistent — it’ll definitely be a thick & thin — and I’m concerned there’s too much twist to leave it a single, but I think I’m going to go for it anyway.  The fiber is 100% Rambouillet from Three Waters Farm in the Spring Lamb colorway. It is positively spring!

I set aside my Fairbanks Pullover for a spell to work on another pair of Snowfling Mittens.

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Tanis LaVallee’s stranded, lined mittens are hands-down (ha!) my favorites. I love them so much, I’ve made 2 sets and I have yarn for two more pairs not including the ones I’ve started here. They are actually my mittens of choice even in our sub zero winter temps…

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As you can see in this snapshot my hubby grabbed of me out at Necedah Wildlife Refuge last week. They keep my fingers nice and warm always, even when in these extremely cold snaps we’ve been having.

They served me yesterday, as well, when we went down to the Buena Vista Grasslands hoping to catch a glimpse of Short-Eared Owls. The thing about viewing Short-Eared Owls is there is a really short window to see them each day — they come out at dusk and you just have 45minutes to an hour to see them before you lose the light this time of year. But to see them, in my opinion, is one of the beautiful events to witness in nature.

I’ve seen them once before, also in the dead of winter, in a field a half hour or so from our old house. We saw 3-4 birds. At Buena Vista last night, this was the scene as the sun set in the West…

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And night rose in the East…

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And on this quiet dirt road, 3 vehicles quietly pulled to the side of the road, their occupants grabbed their optics or cameras and exited into the 8°F air careful not to slam any doors, and watched the graceful, lilting flight of 8-10 Short-Eared Owls as they hunted, courted, and scanned the fields on either side of that otherwise unassuming dirt road, sometimes flying close enough that I could see them without the help of my optics. My husband tried to snap photos, but he doesn’t have equipment to catch birds in motion…

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So this will have to do for you, my friends.

Maybe it’s because the only time to really see these birds is during the Golden Hour so they positively glow. Maybe it’s because their flight is like a dance — their wings shaped almost like a bat, but they exhibit so much grace and agility in the air that it’s hard to believe they are of this Earth. Whatever the reason, to see this many individual birds so surrounding us, with many more in fields further away was… it was as it always is, breathtaking.

And just like that, another week has passed. Full of distractions and changes in plans, the simple pleasures, the new challenges, the breathtaking beauty these are the thingsthat make up this life I lead. All in all, it’s been just another wonderfully ordinary extraordinary week in the life of Knitting Sarah.

 

 

 

 

While I Was Away

Last week was technically a vacation week for my family. We knew it was going to be a little abnormal for us because of work responsibilities, but we were determined to make the best of it. The first half of the week we relaxed a little and did our first bird watching walk of the spring migration. We stayed close to home and tallied 56 species of birds, saw a mink, and met up with this little guy, too.

img_2844My girls loves to handle snakes. Here she was literally cooing ‘Easy there, little fella’ to this guy. I love it.

For those wondering, this is what the Marsh looks like these days.

img_2835 It’ll green up quickly from here on out, but this wide open landscape really never gets old to me.

Around mid-week, we headed up toward my parents’ house for a visit. They live in the country — or if you ask my son, ‘the wilderness’ — so it’s a nice spot to enjoy some peace and quiet where the kiddos can run and set off fireworks and climb on my dad’s tractors.

img_2905I don’t know that I’ve seen this kid much happier!

We took part of one day and got everyone up to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary for a nice walk before lunch. On the way out from lunch, my hubby almost stepped on a poor little Brown Creeper that had a apparently collided with the door. Being in a pretty urban spot and only a couple miles from Bay Beach, we opted to drive him back to the sanctuary where he could recover properly and have better odds at survival.

This is the little guy in my hubby’s hand during his ride in the car. He only got loose once while I was driving — something I would not recommend, especially if you’re like me and not a big fan of things flapping unpredictably by your head normally, let alone while driving in a city with which you aren’t familiar. Does this kind of thing even happen to other people? I wonder. In any case, the kids ran in with the hubby to drop him at the rescue desk & named him ‘Lucky.’ Lucky we found him, lucky he was perking up so quickly, and — according to my daughter — lucky that he’d probably be the only Brown Creeper that would be able to tell his friends about the time he got to take a car ride.

That night we enjoyed a chilly campfire.

img_2914An event that, of course, involved some knitting. A day or two earlier, I treated myself to casting-on socks with my Light in the Trees handspun.  I knew it would be the perfect travel project, so I just couldn’t resist. Instead of going the Toe-Up route I originally considered, I opted to use a leftover brown I had for the cuff, heel & toe so they’d be a bit sturdier and so I wouldn’t sweat the yardage going Top-Down which I tend to prefer.

The mister and I even took a day to ourselves. The kiddos stayed with Grandma & Grandpa — Grandpa kindly helped each kid build a birdfeeder even! — while we hiked and hiked and hiked in the beautiful weather. I took no photos, but our first stop was Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve. I have to share, though, because it had some lovely trails and because we must have been close to the Garter Snake emergence because there were a lot of snakes. Like, in the right spots you’d take a step and you’d stir up a half dozen snakes. It was incredible! I also glimpsed my first Kinglet of the year which was a treat – such cute little birds!

We enjoyed a simple & delicious picnic overlooking Green Bay – the body of water, not the city – & returned to hike some of the deeper trails at Bay Beach. There we saw Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers and even got great looks at a Pileated Woodpecker. One of my favorite birds, I rarely manage to see it when it isn’t flying away from me so it was extra special.

 I also almost stepped on this guy.

img_2918He was easily the size of my palm. Ribbit! Oh, it is definitely springing around these parts!

I went on to finish up my first handspun sock…

img_2920And I started the second on the way home…

img_2922I did take my wheel and got to spend some time with my Birds in Holly spin. We were busy, though, so it didn’t get a ton of attention until we got home yesterday.

img_2927Now I’m a little over halfway through the second half of the fiber. It’s a really beautiful colorway & I do love Rambouillet fiber.

All in all, we had a lovely little break and it was nice to be away even if it was just a few days. As always, though, we’re happy to be home.

img_2925Moose is sticking close-by though, just in case we decide to take off again.

A Soft Spot for Birds

We always had bird feeders growing up, but it was a general interest for me and not something I really explored in great depth. I knew what a cardinal was and a goldfinch, but that was pretty much it. My husband, however, grew up in a family of birdwatchers — his parents talk about going to spots to watch birds on their first dates and my husband always had and used binoculars growing up. They even named him ‘Martin’ for the Purple Martin.

When I met my husband he was actually working for an optics company that specialized in outfitting birdwatchers. On one of our first dates, we went for a hike in a local arboretum and he called out a Barred Owl — the first I’d ever seen. I didn’t know if I should be more impressed by the bird or the fact that this guy I was standing with in the woods just imitated an owl call with some serious skill. I asked him where he learned to do that and he responded, “When you spend enough time alone in the woods you learn to make a lot of weird sounds” or something like that. I was pretty sure in this moment that my life was going to be interesting.

Fast forward a couple years and we’d gotten married and I was a full-fledged bird nerd. We’d taken our honeymoon to southern Texas where I accumulated an obscene amount of ‘life birds’ and just learned a ton about them. At some point in the following years, my husband got his parents a martin house for their yard as they love their bird houses and feeders. A common topic of conversation in spring is always when certain birds return for the summer and at some point we learned that it was no longer ‘the Martins are back’, but ‘the Martins and Sarahs are back’ — of course, referring to the male & female Martins. I realize I’m biased, but I think that’s the cutest, sweetest thing.

You can bet that when Erica Heusser released her Passerine Hat last November this hat simply had to be on my needles. When I saw the purple-y blue Ink colorway in Madelinetosh’s Unicorn Tails, I knew that this hat was destined to be ‘Martins and Sarahs’. There just was no question. I immediately picked up enough Ink & Silver Fox Unicorn Tails to make the hat.

And as things go, it sat for a couple months while I tended to other projects.

Thankfully at the beginning of February I had a little time and I was able to cast on. As if often the case with colorwork I plowed ahead with wild enthusiasm.img_2294I did the brim one night and started crown shaping by the next. But… my colorwork was just a little tight…

img_2295And the next morning I frogged back to the brim. This hat is what I would classify as an intermediate colorwork project as you are required to control some longer floats. It’s not what I’d call hard, but it’s definitely a skill builder for anyone new to colorwork. For those — like me — who are pretty well-versed in colorwork, it doesn’t hurt to take your time either. Obviously!

img_2297By the following day, I’d finished (again) and this time for good.

detIt was worth it as my Martins and Sarahs are now perfect in every way.

hat onAnd now I have the cutest, sweetest hat just in time for Spring migration, just in time for the Martins and Sarahs’ return.

hat flatI’m pretty sure this brings me to a new level of nerdom awesomeness. I guess when you spend a lot of time in the woods with the person you love, you learn to make some weird sounds and adorable hats.

Adventure Files: The Sax-Zim Bog

On the second full day of our mini-vacation, we headed up to the Sax-Zim Bog area early to scope everything out and see what we could find on our own before our guided trip the following day. On the way up, we worked on my visual identification skills for Crows vs Ravens. To most, I think the differences are obvious. If you can hear them there’s no mistaking them, but visually it took a bit of refining for me. It kept the ride interesting as did our selected audiobook, The Wave by Susan Casey. A somewhat strange juxtaposition with the landscape, this book is fantastic, especially if you have a soft spot for the ocean like I do. I’ve always felt very at home in the brine-y saltwater air and I’m pretty convinced that in another life I would have made an excellent surfer or at least a very happy beachcomber. Ironic since I live no where near the ocean, but that’s life sometimes. And the Great Lakes — with their vastness and their stormy nature — fulfill that need for big water pretty darn well, too. But I’m on a tangent now, so I’ll digress.

Rogue waves & big wave surfer stories aside, like the first day of any birdwatching trip to a new region seeing the area’s specialties was very exciting. Thanks to some really good staging around the bog area with personal feeders that welcome non-local birders to view during the festival, we were able to spend time watching huge flocks of Common Redpolls & Pine Siskins, Blue Jays, Northern Shrikes, loads of Bald Eagles, Evening Grosbeaks (a ‘life bird’ for me — meaning it was a new-to-me bird), and even some Pine Grosbeaks (I’m pretty sure that one was new, too). At one very special feeder on a lone highway, we even got to view the elusive Boreal Chickadee (yet another life bird). It’s said that that this one bird feeder is the best place in the United States to view a Boreal Chickadee. Usually preferring to remain reclusive in the great forests of the North, these little chickadees are quite shy compared to the very bold black-capped chickadee with which most of us are familiar.

And that’s just what makes the Sax-Zim Bog special. It’s so far north, yet it’s still pretty easy to access — even for roadside viewing. A lot of very specialized birds are actually relatively easy to find here — in many cases, the bog is one of just a handful of places to reliably view these birds which is why the Sax-Zim Winter Birding Festival is such a hit and requires 4 or 5 full school buses for field trips each day. One such special resident we would have missed due to the late day sun if not for a small collection of cars parked and photographers quietly snapping photos…

Photo by Mr Knitting Sarah

The Great Gray Owl is definitely the big kahuna of the bog and we were lucky enough to catch sight of him easily from the road once on our own and once the following day with our field trip. A very large owl — between 24 – 33inches — it is absolutely amazing to view. I saw one of these birds about 2 years ago when it randomly showed up an hour and a half from our house, but this view was so much more rewarding. Not stacked with photographers on the roadside, this owl was clearly at home and as he watched us curiously it was plain as day that he did not really care that we were visiting. I wonder what he thought of the whole situation actually. He sat watching us as we watched him and he flew when he was ready. What a beautiful bird.

That evening we checked in with the Festival folks and enjoyed dinner and a presentation by Stan Tekiela — one of the most skilled wildlife photographers out there and a prolific author of nature books. He gave a talk based on his book, Intriguing Owls — it was fun and I learned a couple new tidbits which was cool. We headed back to the hotel and tried to get some sleep before our 4:30am wake-up call. That’s the thing about bird-watching — if you want to see the birds, sunrise is usually about when you have to get started, so pre-dawn wake-up calls are the norm.

We awoke and immediately set about making some coffee in the tiny hotel room coffee maker. We checked the weather. It was -10° and I could hear the wind howling. We knew that was coming, but I think I had remained hopeful that the temps would get a bit closer to zero or at least that the wind would be a little more tame. At the last minute I opted for a second pair of long underwear and with parka, pack boots, multiple hats, face mask, and mittens we headed out. We arrived at the Meadowlands Community Center which served as the nerve center for the festival about a half hour early. After a couple bathroom breaks and another couple sips of hot coffee it was time to board the bus. This is me super bundled, a little groggy…

10887359_10152542209517000_7763437944318948392_o…and realizing that there really was very little heat on the bus. That improved by the afternoon, but it was an older bus and with the extreme cold it was having some troubles in the morning. I know how it felt!

We headed straight to the spot where we had seen the Great Gray Owl and were treated to yet another royal view of the beautiful, awe-inspiring owl. Unlike the majority of us, this bird clearly was completely unaffected by the 25-35mph winds in subzero temps. We stood out in the road watching this marvel until our eyelashes started to freeze and our feet began to feel like blocks of ice (do note that I have very good pack boots in which I have never, ever experienced cold feet… until this day).

We made a bunch of stops and saw most of the birds that we had seen on our own the day before. And I acquired some serious skills with my complimentary ice scraper…

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Part of the goody bag you get with registration, this little tool is absolutely necessary to continually fight back the ice on your bus window. My husband laughed as I would just sit there scraping even when I was looking out the front windows. He laughed, but I could always see out of my window!

At one very lovely privately owned spot, there was a trail to hike in to the woods that was lined on either side by the most creative, enchanting feeders. It was here we got a quick look at a Black-Billed Magpie — such a treat! I’ve only ever seen these birds in the Badlands of South Dakota in summer, so it felt really special and unique to see it here in the boreal forest. I wish I’d have taken photos here — if for nothing else, for the thermometer that read -8°F in the bright mid-morning sun, but by the time I was headed back to the bus I couldn’t feel the toes on my right foot (note to self: knit multiple pairs of worsted weight socks for the next trip here and wear them ALL), so I passed on stopping for the photo op.

We looked in vain for a the woodpecker specialties of the bog, the Black-Backed Woodpecker and the American Three-Toed Woodpecker, but the high winds made it difficult to listen for them and I’m guessing they would prefer to stick to the relative calm of the thick forest. The other highlight of the trip was a detour a few miles down the road to see a ‘reliable’ Northern Hawk Owl

Photo by Mr Knitting Sarah

Like the Great Gray Owl, I’d only seen this bird once before. The last time was the winter before my son was born. He will be 10 in June, so you can bet I was excited to lay eyes on this guy. Owls are so funny in that they tend to not be bothered at all when you watch them. They look at you, clearly they know you are there, but they just appear like they couldn’t care less. That’s all good and fine for those of us who like those nice long looks.

As the field trip wound to a close, our guide let us know that we rounded out the day around 20species which we were told was pretty good for a winter day and exceptionally good for a winter day that was that cold and that windy. Opting to skip our last meal & speaker in favor of a hot shower and ordering in Chinese to the hotel, we headed back to Duluth.

On the way back to my parents’ to collect the kiddos, we made one quick stop at Amnicon Falls State Park located just outside of Superior. My hubby snapped this photo…

Photo by Mr Knitting Sarah

And I had to share — even though I am making a pretty hilarious face — because I am showing off my Snowfling Mittens. I bought this kit direct from Tanis Fiber Arts and knit these mittens up last year. I wore them throughout this crazy cold weekend and they were amazing. Only at the coldest moments did the chill reach my hands — I was pretty impressed! I will definitely be adding another pair — or perhaps one of the Sweet Nectar Mitten kits — to my arsenal for next winter.

On the way back to my parents’, I clicked away on my 3-Color Cashmere Cowl

IMG_8087-0I absolutely adore the light grey/dark grey/hot pink combination and there simply is nothing not to love about this beautiful cashmere/silk yarn (it’s Sojourn from Miss Babs). I’ve got just two bands to go before I finish and that cannot come soon enough. If I was slightly more eccentric, I might wear it with the needles still in it — that’s how awesome this stuff is.

We made it to my parents’ house where my daughter talked my ear off for 20minutes and then started to cry because she didn’t want to leave. My son didn’t say much upon our return — he was too busy ripping up the sledding hill. A little bit brutal for this mama who hoped for a bit warmer of a reception, but logically I get that they had a blast and that’s a good thing. The dog was mostly unmoved.

We made a quick stop at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum where we spelled our names in signal flags…

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Toured the 1940s submarine, the USS Cobia…

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… and then had some lunch and headed home.

I think we’re all a little sad that our adventure is over, but happy to be home, too. As I attack the mountain of laundry and attempt to get all the minutia of running our house back on track, I took a little time yesterday to order new sleeping bags and mats for our next adventure. As my husband always says, the best way to combat the post-vacation let-down is to get right to planning the next adventure. And we are all over that.

A Day As It Should Be

Usually my husband gets one weekday off per week in which we are able to have a ‘date’ day. Both getting over colds, we decided to head out to the Sauk City/Prairie du Sac area for eagle watching. We do it every year — and I wrote about it here earlier this year when we took the kids — but it just sounded good to us. A little bird watching and a leisurely brunch at The Blue Spoon was just what the two of us needed. We love our kids and we love our family days, but as all parents know those stolen hours alone together are pretty special, too.

We started with eagle watching. I apologize for not taking photos — honestly, I was just enjoying watching and even more so listening to the eagles. At one time I had literally 9 eagles in my binoculars’ field of view.eagleMy husband snapped this photo through the spotting scope. They are pretty amazing birds and let me tell you that it is pretty incredible to be staring at 9 of them in one small area. I simply love their ‘chatter call’. You would expect this bird to sound so much more formidable, but you may have noticed that television shows & movies actually commonly use the red-tailed hawk’s call when showing a bald eagle. There’s a reason. While an extremely impressive bird, the bald eagle simply doesn’t sound the part. I love their voices all the more for it and could have listened all day.

Of course, I couldn’t. While we left the kids in school, we did bring the baby of the family along.

moose swimsMoose was over the moon at the presence of ‘soft water’. He really did not care that it was cold enough for ice to remain. He was just wild with enthusiasm for a little swimming.

On the way home, we stopped off in an area where snowy owls have been reported. I saw this….

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And my husband saw this…

snowy owlIt was a long, long, long way off (this is zoomed somewhere between 20x & 30x), but there’s the owl. I have absolutely no idea how he managed to find it. But he did. He is awesome that way.

I will admit I brought my current WIP, I mean, SIP….

20140220-100107.jpgHermione’s Everyday Socks in Dyeabolical Strong Arm Skinny in the Flowershop Inferno colorway.

20140220-100123.jpgThe colors are out of this world. And I am completely addicted to the knitting as foretold by my friends in the Socks with Sarah KAL. Despite this though, I didn’t bring the knitting out until later in the evening…

20140220-100214.jpgWhen Mr Handsome here was so tuckered from swimming that he just snuggled up good & close and snoozed while I knit. And now I am about halfway through the leg repeats on the second sock.

So not as much knitting completed as was humanly possible, but sometimes that’s as it should be. To trade conversation, bird watching, swimming puppies, and leisurely brunches for a few clicks of the sticks. The time always comes for that eventually, after all. And lucky for me, that time tends to materialize in the coziest of ways.

Many thanks to Mr Knitting Sarah for the bird & swimming dog photos!

Of Gallivanting & Knitting

Pretty much right after I wrapped up my judging gig last week, my in-laws came for a visit. Despite the fact that I live in a teeny tiny house, I love having house guests. I love the company & the ease of spending time with those I don’t get to see often when they are staying under my roof. My husband’s parents live about a 10hour drive from our house, so we only get to see them two or three times a year. I am the first to admit that I am a very lucky lady in that my in-laws are really great. They have always gone above and beyond to make me feel like a part of their family and I’m extremely thankful that we get along well and enjoy each others’ company. Needless to say, those two or three times we manage to get together are very exciting for everyone.

20130819-112434.jpgOn this trip, we spent about half the time out and about — at playgrounds, a zoo, our community pool — mostly activities to watch the kids have fun.

We also took one morning for the grown-ups and did a Horicon Marsh Boat Tour. My husband & I have been out on The Marsh in our canoe & kayaks, but never tried this tour. Of course, we went for the 2hour Birding Adventure (my husband’s parents are into birds, too) to see what we would see.

20130819-112335.jpgIt was a gorgeous morning to be on The Marsh (but really, every morning is…).

We had more good looks at Belted Kingfishers than I could count, saw Yellow Warblers, a Catbird, loads of Blue Herons & Cormorants, both mature & immature Bald Eagles, but by far the highlight of the trip was finding a Peregrine Falcon. Oh wait, not just one, but TWO. A pair of Peregrine Falcons that proceeded to put on an aerial display that was everything you’d expect for the fastest bird on the planet — for at least 10minutes. For my husband & I, this was the second time seeing this pair — at least we assume it is the same pair based on location & the large ranges these birds tend to have. This time, however, instead of viewing them swooping and cartwheeling a mile up in the sky through a scope, they’d routinely speed past within 20ft of us. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience — our guide said that in 26years of doing these tours he had never seen such a display. It certainly makes you feel lucky!

20130819-112414.jpgOf course, almost equally impressive was that this little lady took the trip in stride. At 5years-old she managed to sit on a boat for two hours with grown-ups twitching at birds without interrupting or protesting. I was almost as proud at the end of this trip as I was the following day when she passed her ‘big pool’ swimming test at our local pool. Along with everything else going on, it was a weekend of big accomplishments for this soon-to-be kindergartener & I could not be any prouder of her (if it isn’t clear, this mama is beaming).

When we weren’t gallivanting though, we were knitting. My super sweet mother-in-law started knitting again a few years back and it is our little tradition that every time we get together I help her learn something new. This trip she tried the Capitol Square Market Bag & when she left she was doing as awesome job. I can’t wait to see it finished! We also made a trip to Firefly Fibers, for some goodies and I was treated to a Namaste Jemma Pouch.

20130819-131855.jpgI think the Hollywood Pink is super cute & coincidentally looks awesome with my Canary Devin Wristlet. I think my MIL & I may now be Namaste buddies, too!

I also picked up some Sugar N’Cream to work on my New Log Cabin Washcloths.

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I am mixing some hand-dyed cotton I got in a close-out from Dyeabolical Yarns last year with regular ol’ Sugar N’Cream.

close-upThe color combos are pretty fun — I am not a big fan of knitting washcloths, so anything I can do to make them interesting helps me to accomplish the task.

three dishclothsI’m pretty happy with the results & found pattern really fun to work with. You can see I wasn’t too precious about having these absolutely perfect — they are just going to be washing my  dishes anyway — so that is kind of fun, too — to relax and not worry too much about perfection. I have 3 or 4 or 5 other colors combos I’ll be working on over the next… well, few months probably. I’ll share as they come up.

My Rusted Root sweater was a bit too much focus for visiting with family, so I also started a sock.

full sock post heelJust the plain jane Basic Sock pattern from Churchmouse Yarn & Teas, I am knitting them in my Cakewalk Yarns Stash in Allegan. I bought this on Etsy this spring & sadly it looks like the shop is closed. The yarn is a merino/cashemere/nylon and the colors are beautiful & rich.

heel detailI kind of just want to dive in….  As you can see, I made it around the heel and am cruising along on the foot. Originally designated for a more ornate pattern, I’m happy to just be motoring through this sock. Sometimes just making something simple is fun, too — especially when the yarn is so nice!

As my MIL knitted along on her Market Bag, she caught the washcloth bug as well enabling her to knit with me until we lost the light and had to break for s’mores.

20130816-202240.jpgThankfully, I found I was able to knit by campfire light once I’d helped the kids finish up their s’mores & put them to bed.

We bid farewell to my in-laws yesterday morning after a big breakfast and are slowly getting back in swing of being home on our own. It is always a little sad, the house feels a little empty & quiet. All the extra room makes my teeny house feel big. The lack of chaos seems a little too easy to navigate. Eventually we all settle back into our routine though. My husband goes to work. I fold the laundry & run the dishwasher & make a grocery list. The kids clean up their room and do some lessons in their school prep. Moose sleeps. While we all exhale back into what is our ‘norm’, there’s a little place in all our hearts that looks forward to the next visit. When you think about it, we’ve already started the slow march toward that next visit. It can’t be too long now!