Butter, Biscuits, & Yarn

Since this is the first week since the middle of August that I’ve been feeling sort of human again, this week has been about trying to get back on track with our schedule. We finally made it back to our volunteering gig at the Humane Society. We’re having a mostly normal school week. And I’m working on getting all my backlogged blog ideas listed so I can get writing. Unfortunately, I still have no FO photos for you — it’s been pretty non-stop rain here since my last post — aside from a short spurt of sun in which I had to get the lawn mowed, so we just haven’t had the pleasure of good photography light. You can bet I’m watching for a break though! In the mean time, I thought I’d just share a quick glimpse of what’s been happening around here.

First of all, I got a sweet little box of review items at the weekend that among other things included the new Knitter’s Pride Royale interchangeable needles. I’ll have a full review of them shortly because I immediately switched them out onto my current project…

img_4486It’s my Swoop with Dyeabolical Tenacious Sock.

img_4479This is my last Q3 1+1+1 project and you can bet that after my Q2 fail I’m trying to get this off the needles by the end of the month for a better showing this quarter. I’m on repeat 7 out of 9, so I’m thinking I’ve got a good shot at it. This project really has been my focus this week and thankfully it really is a fun knit.

Yesterday, Mr Knitting Sarah had a day off and he thought it would be fun to have a little lesson in making butter. I’m not really sure where his ideas come from, but they are always fun. He picked up some heavy whipping cream, we let it warm up to room temp, put it in a mason jar, and…

Took turns shaking!

img_4473Lo & behold, butter really does happen.

A lot of butter happens, in fact.

From there we took our butter & buttermilk & made some biscuits…

This was a new recipe and I think a combination of some overzealous rolling  & the recipe itself made them turn out rather thin. They still tasted great though!

img_4477This morning I tried out another recipe with the remaining buttermilk & a little more of the butter. It worked much better — I still need to roll them out a little thicker… and remember to put them on a higher rack in the oven, but we taste-tested again this morning and they proved yummy, too. No we just need to eat through 3 dozen biscuits and make another batch of butter/buttermilk so I can try again.

Of course, while waiting for the biscuits to bake, I did a little of what is becoming recognized by me as my ‘kitchen spinning’.

img_4481It’s been very slow-going, but this is a joy to pick up now and again. I’m really excited to get to a certain spot in the yellow where there is some sparkle mixed in, so I may try to get some minutes with it the next few days.

No doubt fueled by biscuits and fresh butter, we’re sure to finish the week strong. Maybe I’ll finish that shawl and get started on the next two projects I have lined up that have a bit of a deadline. Maybe I’ll get my Spinzilla fiber all prepped. Maybe I will wash my kitchen floor & dust my house. Maybe I will use sheer willpower to coax the sun out for 20minutes so I can get some FO photos. Maybe…

Tour de Fleece 2016 Week 2 Recap

I didn’t feel like I did a whole lot in the way of spinning this week, but now that I’m sitting down with photos I’m thinking I did. We have Mr. Knitting Sarah to thank for the progress as he has stoically hung with me in the heat of our main floor where my wheel is even when he’d rather be in the nice cool basement. He also took the kiddos on an overnight camping trip.

They stayed in a teepee, went fishing, played on the beach, and made s’mores and hot dogs on sticks. I stayed home with Moose and spun and enjoyed the quiet.

I had prepped three braids of fiber in anticipation of their being away…

img_3838Convinced this would be more fun than plying the behemoth skein that I knew would come from my 8oz of lightweight singles that were resting. In the end though, I ended up plying because I’m terrible at starting new things when I have an unfinished project.

img_3889And I knew one big push would get me there.

During the Day + Early BloomingI was right.

During the Day + Early Blooming detMeet my mega skein of Early Blooming + During the Day. Early Blooming was the May installment of the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club and During the Day was it’s tonal counterpart. Both are a 80/20 Merino/Tussah blend and while the Tour is in full swing I haven’t taken the time to measure anything exactly, this is somewhere in the 1100yard realm. I’ve got some sweater ideas in mind, that’s for sure.

I also finished a spin for a swap.

Laundry Pile‘Laundry Pile’ is about a 75/25 BFL/Tussah blend that spun up into a worsted-ish weight and in the neighborhood of 200yards — again I have to measure everything yet.

Laundry Pile detI was worried when I was plying that there was more color pooling than my attempted barberpoles, but it actually looks pretty great now that it’s skeined, washed, and dried.

And then, of course, there was my special Three Waters Farm TdF colorway, Summer Jubilee.

summer jubileeThis I spun into a chain plied 3-ply with the intention of eventually knitting up some stripey socks.

summer jubilee detIt turned out lovely! I love the colors! Unfortunately, it’s a bit heavier than I was aiming for — so probably like a sport weight or heavy fingering — and it shorted my yardage to around 300yards. I’m thinking I’ll knit toe-up and pull out some pretty grey from my stash for toes & heels to stretch this skein a little.

And last, but not least, I whipped through my Classy Squid Fiber Co spin.

barkI spun this skein from 2oz of rolags & a 2oz batt, both from the colorway ‘Bark.’ The rolags were spindle spun and the batt was spun on my wheel. Plying was also done on my wheel as I was in a little bit of a time crunch.

img_3832And I discovered a new and fabulous application for my Akerworks Flat Pack Lazy Kate. I can’t take credit for this idea as a friend saw it in the Akerworks Ravelry Group and then shared it with me. I won’t say my first attempt was flawless, but with a little tweaking of how I wind my cops I will absolutely use the AkerKate for spindle plying in the future. In any case…

bark detFrom lessons learned in my previous art batt spins, I really let the texture sing. The photos really don’t do this skein justice as the color variation is so subtle and it’s just a visually complex yarn.

So all of that was plied this week. Phew.

Oh, and I spun some singles, too, all for Team Three Waters Farm.

lone grasshopper bobbinThis is Lone Grasshopper. It’s 85/15 Polwarth/Tussah. It was one of my first purchases from Three Waters Farm about a year ago. I was a little thrown by that bright green for quite a while, but it’s going to be a fantastic skein.

bobbins sbbAnd this is Stolen By Bandits, also a 85/15 Polwarth/Tussah blend. These cool colors… well, I could have spun them forever.

I also got a chance to stay my last 4oz of Birds in the Holly.

Birds in the HollyThis braid I picked up from another generous Top of the Month Club member who was willing to sell it to me so I could have a little extra cushion for some sweater knitting with this skein I spun up last month. I’m trying very hard to get as close as I can to the original skein, but I’m thinking I should be able to save this skein for the collar & cuffs which means it should be a little forgiving if it doesn’t match perfectly. I’ve never attempted something like this, so my fingers are crossed and I’m hoping for the best!

 I also spent just a little bit of time daily with my Akerworks Mini-Spindle and my July Top of the Month braid, Satisfied with Summer, which I rolled into some less than way too big rolags (it was my first attempt).

img_3904This is fast becoming my favorite travel spindle. I got the mid-sized mini which weighs in at 12grams or about .42oz and is 6.5″ long. It’s so easy to tuck into whatever bag I have, it’s relatively inexpensive (my mid-size is just $21), and it loves to spin. So far for me — and I’m by no means a spindling expert — it spins like perfection with a very lightweight single, but it gets a bit finicky with heavier weights. This is most likely user error on my part — while I know the lighter the spindle the faster it spins and the lighter the yarn you can easily produce, I should probably be able to get a slightly heavier yarn. I also know I could adjust the BBs to lighten the spindle, but in all honesty I’m happy spinning the ultra lightweight. I have small flock of Mini Spindles and extra shafts (you can buy them separately for less than the spindles, should you so desire) and I’m hoping I can get a 4oz spin on them. We shall see!

This week is the final week of the Tour de Fleece and we’re expecting some grueling heat here around the homestead in the second half of the week. With no A/C, I fully intend to retreat to cooler climes — the pool, the basement, the library, etc. and I may not get the strongest finish to the Tour. I’ll do what I can though and thankfully I’ve got options. Whatever the case, I’ll find a way to make some yarn and enjoy this favorite time of year.

Tour de Fleece 2016 Week 1 Recap

My first week of the Tour de Fleece has been not quite as dramatic with wooly exploits as other years. The stars finally aligned so that a friend and I were able to schedule some long-awaited time to make an effort to tidy up my yard & gardens, so many hours were spent with a shovel in hand. Some was spent with my friend’s most wonderful company & guidance and some working furiously on my own to carry out the plans we’d laid. I’ll share more on this experience later, but I am happy to report that I completed the last big push for the job yesterday — whew-hoo — and I’m so incredibly happy with the results.

As you might suspect, the hours spent in the garden has been time not spent with my wheel and has been a workout for my hands and back that hasn’t necessarily been spurring me forward in the Tour de Fleece. But I’ve spun daily and made steady progress and really that was the main goal this year.

I finished up the 4oz of the luxuriously lovely blue called During the Day.

img_3804I photographed it here with my bobbin of Early Blooming  with which I plan to ply it.

I also managed to spin up 4oz of the lustrous ‘Laundry Pile’.

img_3805I spun these singles a bit thicker and I’m hoping to have about a worsted weight 2ply with lots of barberpoles in it.

Currently on the wheel I’m working on the Three Waters Farm official Tour de Fleece 2016 colorway, Summer Jubilee in the Superwash Merino/Nylon blend.

img_3803I’m a bit over halfway through the braid and I’m hoping to maybe finish up the singles today. I’m aiming to create a yarn that’ll be appropriate for socks. My mind’s eye sees fun, bright, stripey socks. To me, perhaps the perfect

Also in progress, I have one Classy Squid Fiber Co spindle spin in the works.

img_3806This is my very let-your-hair-down spin — something I’m learning to embrace with batts and rolags from Classy Squid Fiber Co. I’ve really come to love just letting the texture have their way. This is my first experience spinning texture on spindles and it’s been such a treat. I have another ounce of rolags to spin which I’ll do on spindles and then a coordinating 2oz batt that I plan to spin on my wheel and then ply the two together.

And last, but definitely not least, I’ve got the teeniest, tiniest start on a new project…

img_3807This is Three Waters Farm ‘Satisfied with Summer’ just started on my new Akerworks mini spindle. I’ve been spinning just a staple length or so per day, so the progress is very slow but I adore how quick this little .41oz spindle flies and the ultra lightweight yarn it loves to create.

And that’s it! That’s my week 1 for the Tour de Fleece! I hope you’ve had a great week, too, if you’re spinning!

9 Random Things on a Tuesday

Since not all of you are necessarily all that interested in my obsession with the Tour de Fleece, I thought today I share a bit more of an all-inclusive post of random happenings in list form from my little corner of the world. You know, to catch up and what not. Those are always fun, I think.

1. We have a big bed of lilies that my hubby & his parents planted one of the first years we were at our house and they bloomed last week.

IMG_9846They used to be lilies & daisies, but the lilies took over and I’ve since moved the daisies so the entire width of our house lights up with these beautiful flowers. It always makes me thankful that they took the time to plant these flowers and I always think of my in-laws when they bloom.

2. This week Moose finally got a couple of his chew toys back. With his allergies, we had to take them away to rule out their being part of his allergy issues and now that he’s finally in a stable place (knock on wood), I thought it was time to reintroduce a couple toys. He carries them all over, so proud and happy.

IMG_0012I don’t have a photo of him with his toys, so I’m sharing this post-morning belly rub one instead. I might be biased, but he’s such a handsome guy!

3. Although I’ve been spending most of my time spinning, I have been sneaking in moments here and there with my July sock for the Summer Sock KAL.IMG_0010I’m about halfway through the foot or thereabouts. I’m using the super easy Rose City Rollers pattern. It’s just perfect for summer knitting.

4. A week or so ago I tried to teach my daughter how to spin with a spindle. It was literally the day I figured it out myself and I really did not have the language or skills necessary to teach another person, especially a 7-year-old with a limited attention span. Inspired by TdF teammate Jennie, from Kitchen Counter Crafter, teaching her similarly aged daughter, we tried again.

IMG_9997It’s still a little tough for her on her own — the whole when to draft, when to stop drafting and let twist up is not quite clicking all the time, but we’re getting there. For now we’re doing some ‘doubles spinning’, taking turns as a team so she can watch as well as try on her own without feeling like it’s all up to her. Plus, it’s good one-on-one time together. I call that a win-win!

5. We’ve had a bit of heartbreak in the garden this year — just like last year our cherry bushes started showing signs of disease about a month ago. A friend who has some connections managed to get an expert’s opinion who thinks it’s most likely a soil virus for which there really isn’t anything we can do. We let the cherries go while they produced fruit and this week I took the step that I did last year that seemed to help, cutting the diseased branches. It’s a lot of work and really very sad to do, especially since they were bad enough that I literally did not prune in any way for beauty, but just took the diseased branches and left the healthy so they all look like a spastic Edward Scissorhands was set loose to take care of them. Hopefully it helps the plants rally.

6. On the bright side, in a different area of the yard we have a black raspberry patch that has been slowly taking over and the berries started to become ripe about a week ago. The beauty of this patch is that we have ripe berries for a few weeks solid.IMG_9994This is a 3quart contained I picked the other morning — in addition to this, the kids and I probably ate 2pints and we gave a couple cups to our neighbors. Pretty much every meal I just go out and pick a cup or two for dessert. I send a little container in Mr Knitting Sarah’s lunches. My kids run and play outside a lot and I catch them popping over to the berry patch to snag a couple berries in between games. What a treat for us all!

7.  Our air conditioner seems to have met its maker, so we’re going attempt to make it through the summer a/c-less. There will be days that will be uncomfortably hot to be sure, but the vast majority of summer days here are pretty comfortable. We shall see how it goes. A local shop had all their water toys and pools on sale last week so I grabbed a cheap, but effective kiddie pool for about $8 (for which I also went back and got a backup) and a couple slip n’ slides for $3. Oh, and a great blow-up beach ball for $0.59.  The cheap water toys will definitely help!

8. On the topic of weather, I was awakened Monday morning around 2:30 with the first of a serious of alarms from our emergency weather radio including flash flood warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings culminating in tornado sirens going off at 4am. Thankfully we are all safe and unharmed (including the house), but the town just south of us was not as lucky taking a heavy hit from 70+mph straight-line winds. It must be summer in the middle west — wild, unpredictable weather abounds!

9. Of course, a July post wouldn’t be a July post without a little Tour de Fleece spinning. I got my June installment of the Cloudlover Fiber Club in the mail at the end of last week and I started spinning it just as soon as I finished my current spin-in-progress.

IMG_0005It’s called O’ahu and it was love at first sight for me. I split it in 3 equal parts and will do a traditional 3-ply with it.

Yesterday was a rest day, but I spun anyway. I finished up my 8oz of O’ahu and started in on a couple batts from Classy Squid Fiber Co. I heard about this relatively new dyer from the Handmade by Stefanie blog or Instagram account — I can’t remember which.

IMG_0007This is Cloudy with a Chance of BFL. It’s always an adjustment when going from spinning top to spinning batts and after getting going a bit, I’ve gone back and prepped this batt a little differently to really get the most out of it. You can see though, it’s a serious treat to spin. I love the mix of grey, navy, and black with splashes of color.

I hope your week is off to a great start!