WIP Round-Up

After yesterday’s post, I had a few people interested in just getting re-acquainted with my WIP situation. I can certainly oblige and –let’s be real — it’ll certainly not hurt my own mental organization of the whole thing!  A quick run-down of what’s in-progress — ready, set, here we go!

First, I’m 90% sure I’ve shared this already, but my Three Waters Farm Merry Poppies singles are finished & waiting for plying!img_1392

This is a 40/40/20 Merino/Superwash Merino/Silk blend and it’s destined for a simple 2-ply. I can’t decide if I want to ply on my Jensen, too, or switch it up and ply on my other wheel. It’s making me wonder about a second AkerKate for the upstairs to give me less  excuse to put starting the plying off. I’m still considering. I do have my next spin lined up for this wheel, my June Top of the Month Club installment from Three Waters Farm so I really must just get plying one way or the other!

Oh, and last week I finally got my new Jensen flyer, bobbins, and scotch tension pegs finished. I don’t yet have they new scotch tension peg on, largely because I have it set up in double drive, but…

 

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Isn’t the flyer just lovely?! (The bobbins are, too, of course, you can see them below — they are the lighter ones.) The new pieces are not as red as the originals, but I knew that would be the case because the wheel is so incredibly red for cherry wood. When I spoke with Audrey Jensen on the phone, she said they sourced their cherry wood from many places across the country and sometimes a shipment or a location would just produce a more red hued wood. Add into that equation the 22-years the wheel had to mature in color (as cherry does) and there was just no way they’d be the same. In any case, it’s hard to tell from this photo, but the pieces actually blend better than I expected which is great.

You can also see from the stored bobbins that I bought a couple extra spare bobbin holders. They fit right in pre-drilled holes on the wheel and make for perfect on-board storage. Odds are I won’t spin with all 6 bobbins sitting on the wheel, but since the wheel is in a spot that I like to keep neat, tidy, and compact, this option lets me store everything in one place. I love that.

On my Schacht Reeves I’ve continued to play with variations on long draw. This is a long draw/supported long draw spin of some Bumblebee Acres rolags — you may recognize them as the ones I picked up at Shepherd’s Harvest.

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The rolags were a fun mix of fibers and thus my spinning is pretty uneven as I worked on spinning outside the comforts of the whole world of short forward and short backward draw. I’m interested to see how it comes out!

And then, when I should have started plying, instead I started spinning some Three Waters Farm Maybela’s Promise Shetland fauxlags I rolled a couple weeks ago.

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For these I am working with a supported long draw. I’ve found that however I’m rolling my fauxlags currently long draw is kind of a challenge. I really need to work on that technique. But in the mean time, it’s pretty manageable with a supported long draw, so I’ve been going with that. I’m amazed at how much more confident and comfortable I am with different options for how I draw my fibers since delving into long draw. It’s really made a world of difference. For this spin, I separated and rolled by color and breaking with all my norms, I am aiming to have a few mini skeins that are color specific. The thought is perhaps trying something with colorwork at some point, pairing these mini color specific skeins with a natural Shetland I have in my stash. Oh, such fun plans!

One friend here asked how my weaving is going. Well, this is what I’ve been looking at for a few weeks now…

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I ordered this Sett Checker from Liz Gipson aka Yarnworker as soon as I saw it. As a total weaving neophyte, I find it extremely helpful. When I mentioned that I was only as far as having the yarn wound, said friend replied, “Yarn wound for weaving means you are one step closer to weaving.” I LOVE this attitude! Sometimes it’s all about whatever baby steps you can make toward your goal! If the word “LOVE” above could shoot confetti and do kicks, it would be closer to how I feel than simply bold and italics! It is such a perfect sentiment for all our crafty endeavors!

Based on another suggestion (I read all those comments, I really do!), I have dug out and started on a project that was supposed to be part of our Friends of Knitting Sarah meeting last September, Rainbow Warrior. To be fair, I started it with everyone in September, but tried 2 different color combinations that I wound up not really being that into. But I had a hunch about another… that has sat, wound and ready to knit ever since. Upon reading my in-between-project-ness yesterday, I saw, “Hey Sarah, what about that Rainbow Warrior?” Oh yeah!!!! Perfect!

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I got started this morning and I’m hooked! I’m using the Sweet Georgia Yarns Tough Love Sock in Silver I was using for it last fall, but this time for the contrast color I’m using KnitCircus Greatest of Ease gradient in the Lothlorien colorway. I actually got this yarn in the yarn exchange we did at our event in September and from the moment it crossed my mind after failed attempt #2, I just knew this yarn was meant for this project. I think it’s going to be simply spectacular with that gradient!

And last, but not least, two spindle projects!

First, my Reykjavik from Classy Squid Fiber Co

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This has been on-going for an embarrassingly long time. At some point, I really need to buckle down on this one… although probably not until after the Tour de Fleece. Clearly I don’t have much urgency here, but I do have a contrast blue to spin and ply with it whenever that time comes.

And then there’s my Giant Celosia from Three Waters Farm

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The singles of this one are all spun — I just need to wind the last Turkish spindle onto a bobbin and start plying!

And that, my friends, is what is in the works here! What are your current WIPs?!

My Fade, Found

This post has been a good long while in coming. For those who aren’t aware, the Find Your Fade phenomenon revolves around the Find Your Fadeshawl pattern released by Andrea Mowry in December of 2016. It’s taken the knitting world by storm with knitters raiding their stashes and shops doing up kits all to make this one gorgeous, ginormous shawl. Notorious for how its colors melt into one another, it seems as knitters we just can’t resist this shawl. I knew straight away that I wanted to make one, but I think that feeling was pretty universal across the knitting world.

At first, I thought that maybe I’d snap up a kit from a fave shop. I have to admit I’m actually really a sucker for kits. These days, if I buy commercial yarn it’s often a kit for a specific design. It’s a way to try new yarns or to see color through someone else’s eyes. Plus, everything I need is neatly packaged all together and the ease of that fact is just really… it’s relaxing for me. As I browsed kits though, nothing really spoke to me. I decided to turn to my stash to find my fade. As I looked over my stash, I realized that it would be pretty amazing to do a Find Your Fade shawl entirely in my own handspun.  And since that moment, that’s the only fade I’ve been seeking.

The handspun fade definitely did not just leap forward fully arranged and perfect. I pulled things out of my stash and laid them out in order, but nothing. I’d spin new yarns up and add them to the stash and then I’d pull things out (again) and squint really hard to try to see my fade, but to no avail. Two months passed while I searched unsuccessfully. And then, on February 28, 2017, while I stood in my living room doing yoga, staring at my stash displayed in a shelving unit in front of me, there it was. find-your-fade

I’d found my fade with these 7 skeins. They are from Left to Right:

I was so excited! I had just a couple quick projects to finish before I could cast-on. And then less than a week later we found out we’d be moving. I managed to cast-on and work on it a bit in mid-March while the kiddos swam at our annual trip to the waterpark, but I never really hit my groove with the knitting because we were all over the place. I nipped at a couple stitches here and there after the move and then summer rolled around and it was big enough to be impractical to both carry around with me and knit on (it’s large and in summer, that quickly translates to uncomfortably warm).

So my fade hibernated until late last year.

Thankfully, no THANKFULLY(with all sorts of bells and whistles and shouts of joy!), I’d taken good notes for once. Even though I had to rip back a bit where I’d — ahem — pulled the needles out when I was showing it to someone and lost a few stitches, it was easy enough to recover and get back into it. And once I started back in on it, there was no tearing it out my hands. I cast-off the night we got back from our little cabin adventure earlier this month.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a very large shawl. I mean, this thing is like 8 feet long! Taking a photo of the entire thing is kind of a challenge, so I thought I would share snippets of it before I share the entire project. I’m convinced there’s no great way to do this, so I just  snapped a series of photos that will serve as kind of a pieced panorama of detail photos — I hope that makes sense! It was the best I could come up with for photographing such a substantial piece of knitting, especially in winter when my outdoors and lighting options are somewhat limited.

So here we go!

This was the cast-on edge…

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You’ll notice that this yarn (as well as a couple others) were spun a bit heavier than the rest. Since I didn’t spin specifically for this pattern, my yarns aren’t exactly the same weights. Personally, I think it works fine. This one — more than the others – I definitely could have blocked out more aggressively, but my blocking was very crude on this piece — again, due to the size and a utter lack of low traffic areas in the house. So I wasn’t too particular with things like convincing the lace section here to open up.

You can just catch that cast-on yarn at the far left below…

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And you can see the next four colors as they melt into each other.

And here is where the pattern reaches its widest point. You can — again — tell the blocking is a bit lacking along the edge, but I am going to worry about that another, warmer day. If you look at the more yellow section in the middle here, this was the section that was the nail-biter for me.

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That yellow yarn just freaked me out. It really didn’t look great next to the teal & orange to the left of it, BUT years of working with color has taught me that how a color looks depends a whole lot on all the colors that surround it. I knew my skeins looked good all in a row, so even though I had serious reservations, I kept knitting through the yellow to the next color.

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Once the reds and oranges and greys of the second last color started working their magic, I relaxed. I knew it was going to look good. In fact, I knew it was going to be truly special. The melting and blending were working as I’d planned to incorporate that worrisome yellow.

This is all fine and dandy and the different melting colors are lovely, but this is a project that you simply can’t appreciate fully in pieces. Because the magic is in the putting it all together…

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And this project, more than any before, takes my breath away. I think knowing that I spun all the yarn with my own two hands definitely gives me a feeling of accomplishment with it, especially considering how much knitting this project is as well. Beyond that fact, though, the idea that it is essentially made up of 7 random, misfit skeins that each plays an essential role in bringing the piece together… I don’t know, it just feels like such a wonderful life lesson, too. The idea that the independent elements of a project or a team don’t all have to get along to work effectively together. All you have to do is find the right position for each piece, and the arguments will fade and the complementary aspects will be able to sing. So say the colors, so says life. Am I just waxing philosophical now and projecting onto my knitwear? Perhaps. But what can I say? I do like it when my knitwear philosophizes. That’s just how I roll.

In any case, I am delighted that my fade has been found. Delighted that the months of searching and spinning and rearranging finally led me to this finished project, where the colors that don’t always get along sing in beautiful harmony and I, I am one warm, colorful woman on a cold, cloudy day in the middle of winter thinking about the power of finding ways to convince misfit pieces to fade into their complementary counterparts.

Luxury of Luxuries

As y’all know, I really like to sample different blends and breeds in my spinning. The variety keeps me fresh and inspired and challenged so I try to get my hands on a bit of everything and to switch things up a lot. Last fall, I’d been reading a lot about yak + silk blends and hearing good things from spinning friends, but I wasn’t quite ready to go there. Yak can be pricey and I was really conscious of that fact. Sometimes I can use the novelty of a fiber as an excuse to spend the extra cash to try it out, but with yak I was just holding back because it was a big investment for a fiber I wasn’t 100% sure I’d like spinning.

And then right before Christmas, I found this braid in the Classy Squid Fiber Co shop

Photo courtesy of Classy Squid Fiber Co.

At just 2oz, it was a pretty safe, inexpensive trial run. Or so I thought.

I started spinning this fiber pretty shortly after receiving it…

And it was really a wow. The green was such a vibrant hue, especially at the end of December that I was totally smitten.

The fiber base itself was also a huge wow.

The yak is naturally brown, so when paired with the silk it creates this incredible mix of effervescence and earthiness. It wanted to spin super light in my hands and I wasn’t going to argue. By the time I was halfway through my 2oz, I knew that 1) that it was not going to work plied with the fiber I’d purchased it to ply with and 2) that I was going to need more because 2oz was just not going to cut it.

I contacted Amanda, the talented lady behind Classy Squid Fiber Co, and asked if it would be possible to special order another 2oz. Since this braid had been listed as limited edition, I knew her response could go either way. She got back to me promptly and let me know that she could indeed do a special order, but that she’d be dyeing from memory as this was a one of a kind and would I be OK with that? My intention was to get another 2oz and then ply the two together so I knew they didn’t have to be exact. I went with it.

When the special order was ready to go, Amanda had gone ahead and dyed 2-2oz braids instead of one and I gladly snapped both up.

Sometime shortly after our move, I managed to finish up the 6oz of super fine singles. I found the plying a little challenging. I could not for the life of me get a feel for how much twist felt right in the plied yarn. I was a little under-twisted I think early on. And then there was a section where I was kind of over-twisted. By the end I think I had it, but it was certainly a roller coaster of not knowing — the fiber was new to me, the spinning chair was still brand new, and the position I was plying in was different, too. I did my best and stayed hopeful that it would all even out in the finishing.

Oh, and it really did.

This photo shows the greens a little better, but the camera just cannot capture exactly how energetic this green is. The skein itself is 6.1oz and about 20wraps per inch landing it squarely in the lace weight category. The best part though? 650yards! I’m slightly shy on official yardage, but based on the other project notes on Ravelry I think I should be just fine making what I think will be fabulous, an Everly Shawl.

So it goes that a harmless little 2oz braid of fiber, purchased out of sheer curiosity & because it happened to be just a taste of the fiber base turned into a 6oz, 650yard luxury of luxuries. And now it’s a pretty little skein destined to be a fantastic shawl. So goes the life of a spinner and the wheel keeps on spinning toward the next inspiration, challenge, and curiosity.

 

Trying New Things, Part 1

I tend to be a creature of habit, but one of my husband’s life goals it seems is to convince me that it’s good to try new things. While I’m sure he’s thinking of things more like ‘hike with grizzlies’ or ‘canoe in alligator infested waters’ or walk through the weird murky water at Pewitt’s Nest without having a panic attack, over the last couple of weeks I have tried a couple new experiments in spinning. I’ll admit it’s totally not what he has in mind, but it’s something new nonetheless.

In any case, I started this year very much wanting to spin up a batt a friend sent to me last fall. Sadly I didn’t take a before picture, but I believe it was a drum carded batt in 3 distinct colors — lime, turquoise and a rich purple. It was small, just between 1 & 1.5oz and thus I’d let it sit for a good long while in my stash while I tried to think of a way to combine it with some stash fiber for a more substantial skein of yarn. I’m not the best when it comes to figuring out how to combine things. At all. For the longest time nothing in my stash really rang any bells declaring, “It’s me! Spin me with that batt!” So on a whim one day I ordered in this…

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Photo courtesy of Classy Squid Fiber Co.

This is a braid of yak + silk from Classy Squid Fiber Co. I thought the green might play nicely with the colors of the batt. Having spun up the batt at the new year, when this new braid arrived I got right to spinning as I really wanted to complete the project as it felt so long overdue.

img_5585Spinning this blend was just bananas. Luxury blend doesn’t even begin to cover how wonderful this fiber was in my hands. It was like spinning butter, but, you know, not gross. In any case, I spun through this 2oz braid in no time and quickly realized that unfortunately it was definitely not going to work for its intended purpose. It was just not the right color or fiber blend.

It was back to the stash for me.

For whatever reason, it was at that point I was reminded of a braid I’d opened up and used a bit on the blending board with my daughter and I was pretty sure I had a winner in it. I pulled it out and got spinning. Since I had the 1-1.5oz batt and about 3oz of the stash braid left, I figured the easiest way to make the spin work would be a 4-ply. I don’t do much in the way of 4-ply yarns, but I have my Akerworks Lazy Kate that makes it easy so I figured, why not?

 img_5636What can I say? I think it just works. The bobbin on the right is the batt and the other three of the stash braid. Not only a better match color-wise, these fibers were also a little closer in texture and in how they spun up.

And the resulting skein…

mystery-batt-detIt’s just fun! Such a fun, fun skein! I haven’t measured exactly yet, but I think it’s a sport-ish weight and is about 225yards. I’ve got no idea yet how I’ll use it, but whatever final form it takes, I know it’ll just be bright & fun. I’m also so pleased that I was able to create such a happy skein of yarn with a gift from a dear friend.

Oh, and I should mention…

img_5585This. I have a request in with the dyer for another 2oz, so I can hopefully make a lovely and luxurious yak + silk skein. So I think it may be true what they say — nothing ventured, nothing gained. In this case,  little “venturing” is going to results in two pretty excellent skeins of yarn. This fiber artist has no complaints about that!

Works in Progress

This morning I managed to successfully talk myself out of attempting to sew two new dresses before next weekend. It was no small feat as it’s always in the last month or so of winter that I start dreaming pretty hard of spring and summer and I start shopping for a piece or two to add to my warm weather wardrobe. This year my goal is that instead of buying that new dress or two, that I sew them. You know, I want to actually do the thing I keep telling myself year after year that I’m going to do, but never get to. This year I have the patterns and I’ve already started printing and cutting out said patterns. I’ve got a stash of fabric I actually really, really like and most of the thread I’ll need. The sewing area in the basement was tidied during our staycation last week. All I have to do is figure out a chair and set up the ironing board. I’ve never been so ready.

All that said, after I’d printed out two new patterns this morning, I came to the cold, hard realization that I’ve got a number of works in progress and before I take on more projects and make a mess in a new area of the house, I really need to trim that WIP list down. Additionally, the original idea to make the deadline that I finish two dresses by next Saturday was a little outlandish. I’m not a very speedy sewist and the idea of setting a goal that pushes me time-wise seems wholly unwise. I’ve always made sewing projects something I need to rush through and the whole point of the sewing area is to alleviate that urgency in the process so it might be more enjoyable. Apply brakes… now.

So what am I working on? Well, remember this photo…

img_5655Yes, well, I have not yet started plying these. That needs to happen.

And before I can ply, I need to wrap up my last singles spin….

img_5672I’m about one-third of the way through the second 2oz of this project. It shouldn’t take too long on the Very Fast Flyer, but still it needs to happen so that I can start the plying extravaganza.

I’m also working on my second project for the Three Waters Farm Susan Ashcroft SAL+KAL…

img_5675This is a Yarn Optimizer knitted in my own Three Waters Farm handspun yarn. The photo is deceptive as it’ll eventually be blocked out into a rectangular cowl — you’ll see, it’s going to be very cool.

As we’ve been working on getting back on track with our menu planning and cooking from the pantry instead of the processed heat & eat meals we’d been defaulting to with the busy holidays, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen and thus my kitchen spinning has come back into play.

img_5677My friend gave me this awesome little spindle basket that I’ve learned to keep stocked with a spindle project. She got it for me with the idea that I could use it on the trail or when I take the kiddos outside in nice weather to run around. I’m sure I will use it for that also, but it’s perfect for this purpose, too. Kitchen spindling might sound a little weird, but I’ve really come love it since taking up spindling more seriously last year. My hip makes transitioning from sitting to standing painful sometimes, so I often just choose to remain standing if I might have to be up & down a lot. Spindle spinning is the perfect solution for me as I wait for a tray of cookies to bake or the potatoes to boil. It’s quiet & meditative & passes the time and it’s easy to set down and pick up as timers go off and other things need attention. I don’t know if kitchen spindling is a thing out there that normal people do, but if you’re a spindle spinner I highly encourage you to keep a kit in your kitchen. I think you’ll love it!

But I digress.

And last, but not least, I have my re-imagined first pair of sock for the Sock with Sarah KAL going…

img_5673I picked this yarn up over the Thanksgiving holiday at Spin of Door County thinking I’d make some socks for my daughter. Instead, I’m using the yarn pour moi (shhh! don’t tell!). I can sense they will be very addictive. I’ve so been in that potato chip knitting kind of mood lately and these fit that perfectly.

When I write it all out, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. So maybe I can treat myself to one sewn dress? I suppose we should see how the day (and the coming week) shapes up. The good news is I’m poised to make a real go and that summer wardrobe and, as always, there’s not a shortage of works in progress around here.

The Wool Wins

This week the weather has been cooperative and so my week has been largely about trying to get my FO photos taken in between all the stuff of life. And then in the free moments I’ve had when I probably should have been writing, I’ve been playing with yarn and fiber. Sometimes I’m just hopeless that way. Sometimes the wool wins.

The big WIP I’ve got going, my serious, serious addiction knit is my handspun Featherweight Cardigan. I’ve been talking about it a lot. And I’m going to be straight with you, you’re going to hear a lot about it until it’s done. It’s just the way it is because I’m so in love with the project and I can’t put it down. Last night after fussing a little about which bind-off to use on the body — I went with Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off –I finished  it off  and I got the sleeves going. Once again I’m going the 2-at-a-time route for the sleeves so the length and decreases all match.

img_4919And finally a photo in natural light! Aren’t the colors awesome?!

Since I’m working the sleeves 2-at-a-time with 2 sets of needles (my preferred method), I’m excited that I’m able to use my Knitter’s Pride Royale and Karbonz tips. I’ve been using the Royales — my new loves — on the rest of the sweater and really like knitting with them. The trick for me with 2-at-a-time sleeves with 2 set of needles is that I like to get tips that are somewhat similar to keep things uniform throughout the knit. Since the Royale and Karbonz tips are very similar, if not identical, they are the perfect pair to get the job done.

Currently I have a 16″ cord on one side and a 32″ on the other because I couldn’t locate a free 24″ — generally I like to have just one cord size different on the “front needle” and “back needle”. The size difference helps me to easily tell the sides apart which is extremely handy, but keeping them somewhat close in length just feels more comfortable to me. I’ll make due for now, but I just placed an order for a 24″ cord from Dyeabolical, who now stocks a number of needles and notions including the 24″ color-coded cord from Knitter’s Pride I need. When it arrives, I’ll switch one of one of the current ones out. I’m not sure which I’ll prefer, I tend to go with short as it’s less ‘stuff’ to handle, but the 16″ is pretty short. By the time the 24″ arrives, I’m sure I’ll have developed a preference.

In any case, the rest of my fibery exploits have been of the spinning variety. I like to spin daily just to keep spinning, but I really do credit the flipping back and forth between knitting and spinning with keeping my hands, arms, neck, and back from having too much discomfort. That said, I’ve currently got three (yikes!) spinning projects on the go.

On the wheel, I’m working on Three Waters Farm Black Pansies.

img_4915It’s a merino/tussah silk blend and I’m spinning it somewhat fine from approximately 1gram nests which I’ll then chain ply. This is kind of an ahhhhhhh spin. It’s 100% in my comfort zone and it’s just a pleasure to sit back and spin it. Plus, I adore that super vibrant yellow.

I’m also working on a spindle project with my 0.85oz Golding ring spindles.

img_4916I haven’t been very nose to the grindstone with this spin, but somewhere in the last couple of weeks I wound my way into spindle #2 of this spin. These are rolags from Classy Squid Fiber Co. that I picked up at the end of last year as part of her Iceland Perspectives series. This colorway is called “Reykjavik”, a place I’ve always wanted to go. You know what they say, if you can’t go to a certain place, you can spin the colorway inspired by said place. OK, I’m guessing no one says that except me. In any case, I’m loving the textures and colors here. I have a total of 6oz of these rolags and I haven’t yet decided if I’ll spindle spin them all or spin some on the wheel. And I have zero clue how I want to ply them. This spin, like many a trip I’ve taken, I’m kind of leaving wide open to possibilities.

And finally, as I’ve been playing with a very, very new prototype from Akerworks (I’ll share details in time), I was curious to try said prototype with my Akerworks mini-spindles. Since I didn’t have a project on them at the moment, it seemed only right that I start a new one.

img_4917In the interest of full disclosure, the kids and I have been reading through The Hunger Games Trilogy and I’ve kind of got Katniss Everdeen on the brain. So now — because it’s just the brand of nerd that I am — I’m spinning her tale with these puni style rolags from Naturally Knitty named “Miss Everdeen.” I think I got the last 2oz of “Miss Everdeen,” the most lovely, earthy blues, green, and browns with just a hint of a spark with a touch of true red. I intend to ply it with 2oz of “Mockingjay” (still available in the shop) which is similar, but with fewer earth tones and more of an overall grey tone with the blues and greens. It’s just such a fun project.

Somewhere around there’s a stripey sock I have around in case I find myself with some windshield time that doesn’t lend itself well to sleeves or spinning. As I’ve either been the driver or not in the car, I haven’t really done much with it the last week. I’ll save that for another day.

As you can see, a lot’s been getting done behind the scenes here even if my posts have been a bit sporadic lately. So the wonderful, wonderful truth is that the fact that I’m hopeless and lose myself in my projects isn’t all bad at all. No, when the wool wins the results are generally awfully pretty. I think that’s a pretty decent trade-off.