The Autumn Retreat

When I think of autumn — and with the onset of summery weather you had better believe that I am! — I think of the world slowing down. When the air is still & so crisp you find yourself catching your breath. I think of baked apples and afternoon cups of tea. I think of the rich, subtlety of the colors changing day by day. I think of whispers and retreating to the warmth of indoors when the campfire no longer throws off enough heat.

This beautiful braid of 100% merino called Autumn Retreat from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber, which had languished in my stash for far too long, reminded me of all these things. Thankfully, the desire to have some heavier weight, simple 2-ply spins recently brought it out into the limelight. I’m so glad it did!

img_2994-1It was a relatively quick and very enjoyable spin. So much of what I’ve been spinning lately has been fiber with less bounce and more drape — which don’t get me wrong, is wonderful, too — but this was a welcome change. There is always something special about coming back to a nice merino wool.

Much like a real life autumn retreat, this skein proved to be subdued and quiet in its making and the resulting yarn is simply…

detailSoft, understated beauty.

lessdetTotaling 145yards of 2-ply worsted weight yarn, this skein has so much potential and I’m very excited to share that it’s already on its way to some very capable, talented hands.

full skeinThere’s something to be said for skeins like this. It’s not flashy, it’s not a load of yardage, but it is soft and sweet and truly divine. It is those whispers around the campfire, those sips of warm tea, the baked apples in the oven, the colors of the trees overhead.  What a treat to be able to spin into life a skein of yarn that so perfectly embodies those moments in that most lovely time of year. And what a beautiful skein it is!

Unstuck

img_3265-1This.

I’ve been a bit remiss here as I managed to mire myself in this giant bobbin of beautiful yarn this week. True, there are so many worse places to be stuck, but as a spinner the experience was significant to me. This is the first time that my plying flyer was really just not fast enough for me for a plying job. For those who aren’t spinners, lighter yarns require more twist and the plying flyer on my wheel is the biggest, slowest-to-add-twist flyer I have. Traditionally I’ve just used the plying flyer as a default for most plying jobs because the bobbins are bigger and therefore I can keep my spinning in one continuous skein which I’m weirdly into. The slow-nature of the flyer has never really bothered me before. This time, though, I felt like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s European Vacation when he gets stuck in the round-about and is maniacally repeating, “I cannot get left!” Night after night I’d sit for the evening with the wheel and I just could not get through this plying!

And then finally…

img_3297Yesterday I did.

Of course I was exhausted by the time I’d finished and I didn’t have it in me to wind the behemoth off the bobbin in that moment, so I popped my next plying job onto the wheel and got it going…

img_3298This will be 4oz of aran/chunky yarn (we’ll see for sure after it’s washed). Compared to the 8oz of light fingering I’d just wrapped up, I’m FLYING! It’s magnificent.

Yesterday I also got to a long-delayed project…

img_3291I started the long process of remeasuring and labeling all my handspun yarn. Doesn’t it look awesome? I’m so happy with how these turned out. I worked with Rachel from Rachel’s Cozy Knits & Designs on Etsy and while I didn’t diverge far from her standard yarn labels, she did an awesome job of individualizing them based on my requests and creating just what I wanted. She was very patient and made the whole process quick & easy. And I’ll be honest, I’m totally nerding out with this. It’s certainly a time investment, but I’m learning a lot about my handspun as I’m meticulous measuring, checking wraps per inch, and weighing each skein. Additionally, having everything tagged will be utterly fabulous once I’m all caught up as I’ll be able to do this as soon as my new yarns are dry from here on out.

img_3294I managed to get through 10 skeins before it was time to take the kiddos to the pool yesterday and I have…

img_3299What can only be described as a heap left. Eventually some of these will find their way into my destash sale on Ravelry. In efforts to declutter our home, I’ve been destashing a number of fantastic skeins on Ravelry so do check it out.

6c314d7a-a059-4309-9fe4-a4520d43ff8eThese are just a couple examples of what I have up for grabs over there. They’re all reasonably priced and all prices include US shipping. And like I said, if you’re looking to grab some destashed handspun keep your eyes peeled in the Ravelry group & on Instagram where I’ll be sharing when I’ll that up. I have some weighing and measuring to do ahead of that though, so it might be a bit.

My needles have been clicking away, too, as I race to yet another finish line.

img_3296I’m closing in on the end of my Ashbury Mitts. I’m cooking up a little something for Bijou Basin Ranch with these and I’ve got a bit of a deadline, so when I’ve not been tackling the grand beast on the wheel I’ve been cruising on these.

I have some excellent incentive to get ahead though, as I somehow always do.

img_3295This insanely soft and beautiful Skinny Wool from Be Sweet arrived and I’m dying to get knitting on it. I think I have just the pattern for it and it’ll be on my needles just as soon as those mitts are done.

img_3287I also received this fabulous 100% merino trio from Backyard Fiberworks. I love the colors, just love them. I definitely want to use them together, but I’m not quite sure which pattern yet. Each skein is 400yards, so I’ve got so many options. Sweater? Tri-color shawl? What do you think? I’m so loving the process of brainstorming this bunch!

And — as if I needed further motivation — my Top of the Month Club arrived from Three Waters Farm.

img_327760% Polwarth / 40% silk. Yes, 40% SILK!

img_3278It positively GLOWS.

I think it’s safe to say that I’m officially unstuck and that I definitely have my work cut-out for me. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

Wacky & White Sangria

As promised, I’ve got some fresh handspun to share today! Yay!

As part of the Akerworks Flat Pack Lazy Kate test I’ve been working on trying a lot of different plying scenarios. Varying the number of singles I’m plying, changing up the weights of singles, as well as the methods for plying. Again, I’m not going to go into detail on the Kate at this time, but I did want to share the yarns as they come off the wheel. Today I’m going to share two skeins that I worked up pretty similarly.

First, for a simple 2 ply I started with this braid of fiber.

Having been doing much more with with getting my singles light weight I made a little departure with this braid of Rambouillet from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber in the White Sangria colorway.

img_3017Aiming for a worsted-ish 2-ply, I’m happy to say that’s exactly what I got in the end.

True to the Rambouillet breed, this yarn poofed nicely in the wash.

coilAnd in the end I had a lovely squooshy skein.

skeinAt about 8-9wraps per inch this worsted/aran skein has about 170yards on it, perfect for a soft and smooshy hat or cowl.

Next, how about Wacky from Spun Right Round.

I can always count on my Spun Right Round fibers to be bright and unexpected and a little wild (and wacky).

img_3039Shooting for a worsted-ish 3-ply, I was kind of testing my skills since I’d have to make minor changes to my singles from those I’d just spun for White Sangria.

img_3103-1The colors were bright and fun to spin — it really helped me to forget the demands of the spin.

detAnd it came out SO NICELY.

skeinThis 3-ply indeed came out as a worsted weight yarn (about 4-5wraps per inch) and measured in around 150yards. Because of the 3-ply and the slightly tighter plying job it doesn’t quite have the squoosh factor that the White Sangria skein does, but that’s A-OK with me.

coilI mean this skein is so darn fun!

What a great couple of skeins with which to start my great plying extravaganza!

Double Marl Magic

In spinning, there are not many techniques that seem more full of magic to me than the double marl. In my latest foray into this charmed world of color, I took one braid of Polwarth in Cloudlover‘s Mulled Cider colorway…

mulled_cideAnd one braid of Rambouillet in Cloudlover’s Smoking Jacket colorway…

smoking_jacket RamboAnd I split it all up into roughly 8″ strips…

doublemarl2And taking one of each at a time…

I spun them together.

doublemarlI was pretty uncertain about the singles at first because I wasn’t sure how those darker hues would sit with the almost Easter-like pastels. But that’s the magic of the double marl. Colors that you don’t expect to play nicely together often do.

After a bit of a hiatus, I got to plying and — sure enough — those colors do like each other.

IMG_1559They really do!

And the resulting skein is a fantastic 650yards of heavy fingering weight 2-ply gorgeousness.

straight onI still have a little trouble keeping the singles nice and even when I’m blending on the fly in a double marl, but I can definitely overlook that when the skein comes out like this.

diagonalIt’s a hint of autumn, a tidbit of spring, a whisper of summer, and a dash of a winter sunset. It’s the whole calendar year rolled into one skein. It didn’t quite take that long to make, but it took a good chunk of time to fully realize this magical, magical skein. With results like this though, how can I complain?

Nerds!

One of the things that happens when you become a parent is that you change the exclamations you use. I was never much for cursing, but I still cleaned up my act a lot when my kids come along. These days, the most common expression I use in frustration or when something goes wrong is, “Nerds!” I think I picked it up from the early seasons of 30 Rock as it’s a Liz Lemon-ism. It definitely serves me well in any and all company.

Why am I telling you about this today? Well, it’s because I’ve been saying Nerds! t a lot lately. You know how they say when it rains, it pours? My little life has been full of first-world problems the last few days. First, my dryer transitioned from fully functional yet old appliance that adequately dried clothing to one that still worked but basically sounded like garbage truck driving around in the basement. I took it apart and consulted with both my dad & a local repairman and consensus was that given the age I was better off purchasing a new one. So I did that.

Then the microwave started doing this crazy whirring thing and making like it might explode a little. So that’s unplugged and most likely on the way to being replaced.

And then the cherry on the sundae — my computer’s keyboard began failing this morning. The T, Y, and backspace have completely stopped working. It’s been running slowly and I kind of knew it was showing its age, but I was hoping it would last at least another year. So via a spare keyboard plugged in via usb cord (which has a sticky shift & space bar), I’m researching computers which my hubby mentioned might be a plausible birthday gift for me, allowing us to convert the one with the faulty keyboard to a machine for the kiddos to use for school.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, considering all the things that could be wrong in my life that these little hiccoughs are nothing. I know this and I’m not complaining. I am, however, kind of bummed that everything is breaking at once. I’m kind of holding my breath that the ‘ol 28 or 29 year old furnace isn’t next, but I suppose there’s not much I can do about it. Mr Knitting Sarah rolls with it all — he’s like the teflon of stress when it comes to unexpected home & appliance & car repairs. I’m kind of the opposite. It all just bugs me and stresses me out. A lot.

Thankfully, I have my stress relief…

IMG_1457My Miss Grace shawl is getting awfully close to complete. I would guess I’m about halfway or halfway plus through the border. I am very excited to see this as an FO.

And yesterday I finished my double marl’s singles…

IMG_1454I have to admit, I had some help…

IMG_1450And this morning after yoga…

IMG_1455I started plying.

It looks a bit uneven to me, but I think it’s just because I was adjusting tension quite a bit in the beginning. If need be, I can always send the yarn back through the wheel to perfect the plying, but I don’t think that will be necessary. I’ll admit I’m working on getting through this project ASAP because I have two spinning projects I really want to complete before the Christmas holiday along with some holiday knitting.

Apparently, I won’t be spending much time on my computer aside from what’s absolutely necessary thanks to the keyboard issues so I suppose that might be a blessing in disguise. Whatever the case, I’m seriously hopeful that we’ve had our fill of things breaking for a while. None of what we’re facing is significant in the grand scheme of things, of course, but it would be nice to have a brief respite from malfunctioning appliances and to be able to expand my vocabulary beyond a single word, ‘NERDS!” Whatever reality unfolds, I know we’ll handle it. I’m just happy to have my darling teflon for stress at my side and my knitting & spinning close at hand.

A Rather Long Haul

Usually I’m pretty good at staggering my WIPs and SIPs so that I’ve got a good mix of both quick and longer term projects in the works. It’s a great way to not get bogged down, to keep the forward momentum that is so important to keeping the spinning & knitting mojo in a good place as well as giving me plenty to write about here. Currently, however, I find myself in the middle of both a somewhat large spinning project and a rather large knitting project and I feel like my posts here are kind of stuck in an unending loop of “still working on these same projects.” It is what it is, though, and I’m not one to walk away from a project just because it takes time. So today, I proudly bring you more of the same from what is proving to be a rather long haul.

In my knitting world, I’m still clicking away at my Miss Grace Shawl which continues to be a really fun knit. Now that I’m deep into it, I have all the ‘forms’ and ‘half-forms’ memorized and I am quickly knitting away. I’m roughly 25 rows from finishing the main body of work (let’s not discuss that the rows keep getting longer, ok?) and then it’ll be on to the edge. I’m getting a little anxious to finish and I’m hoping I can wrap this up before the holiday next week, but I’m not totally sure that will happen.

IMG_1423I did receive an order from Dyeabolical this week that included this very handy row counter (along with some gorgeous fiber, but I’ll share that another time). Dyeabolical has had these counters available for quite a while now and I have resisted picking one up reasoning that mostly I just use pen & paper. Years ago when I was teaching and working a lot of different projects at a time I always used row counters and swore by them for students. Then I kind of got away from using them just because the projects were just for me and I disliked having to set my needles down and break that rhythm to click a counter. I tried apps on my phone, but hated how they drained the battery or the screen saver would take over and it, well, it just wasn’t worth it to me when I knew I could get away with just reading my knitting to double-check any counts I had concerns about. The Miss Grace Shawl, however, has these short row forms that I recognized quickly would be easier to knit if I have a quick way to keep track of the repeats. This counter is perfect. It’s ergonomic and doesn’t interfere with my knitting or the rhythm I get into. It doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles that many counters do, but for simple applications I’m convinced this one can’t be beat. It’s definitely a must-have for me on this project now that I know how much time it’s saving me!

In my spinning world, I’m still plugging away at my Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber double-marl. I finished the first bobbin yesterday…

IMG_1426And I started the second this morning before the sun rose.

IMG_1431‘Before the sun rose” makes me sound wildly productive, doesn’t it? Let’s just not pay too much attention to the time of year when we say it, ok? In any case, I’ve been a little bogged down in this project, but I recently found a spinning project I want to whip up for a friend so I’m attempting to get the lead out on this one. So far, the motivation seems to be sufficient to press me into action.

And, for those moments when Miss Grace is too large or involved or my wheel isn’t an option, I’ve put just a smidge of time in with my current socks…

IMG_1432I’m working the basic Vanilla Latte with this lovely skein of String Theory Hand-Dyed Caper Sock yarn that was given to me by a dear knitting friend. These will fly once I can devote some time to them, but I’m fully expecting that to be around the Christmas holiday. And that’s ok, it will be a wonderful luxurious treat… whenever I get there.

As you might be able to guess, I’m dreaming (a lot) about quick projects in the near future. A couple gifts, maybe some more bluebirds of happiness, a bulky sweater, a quick single yarn made from targhee so I can knit another fast hat, so things will pick up before long. In the mean time, I will keep spinning and knitting away. I’m in it for the long haul and I’m glad you’re along for the ride, too!