Of Course. It’s Yours.

Many moons ago, I got this yarn in the mail from Mountain Meadow Wool, the last installment of a 3-month Legacy Yarn Club subscription.

img_6749

It is Mountain Meadow Wool’s Mountain Down, a 25% hand-pulled bison from Durham Ranch and 75% Mountain Merino from Camino Ranch, both in Wyoming. My family and I are definitely unnaturally into the plains and all the flora and fauna that live upon it, so this 25% bison yarn just had to be knit up into something special.

I ended up going with the original pattern I picked for the yarn, Elbert by Ysolda Teague. It was part of my “September of colorwork” and for reason after reason I’ve been super slow getting images up here with it. It’s definitely not for lack of love…

img_8815

Because it was a beautiful knit. The yarn was absolutely dreamy.

img_8816

But mostly I just knit it super quickly. And then it sat in limbo, without its pom for a good long while…

img_8589

You know how that goes. Life keeps happening and those little tasks keep falling between the cracks.

And then one day…

img_8804

You get that pom attached.

 

img_8805

And you’re like, “Hey, this hat is pretty rad.”

It’s not as slouchy as the pattern intends — I could have gone up a needle size, but I wanted a tighter gauge for a more winter-friendly result. It fits like a proper hat or large beanie and I think it’s just perfect. Perfect for such special yarn, perfect for winter, perfect for everyday wear.

And as I was admiring it with the newly affixed pom, my daughter walked up to me and was like, “Hey mom, can I have that hat?”

img_8811

And I said, “Of course. It’s yours.” Perfect for such a special yarn. Perfect for winter. Perfect for everyday wear. Perfect for my girl.

 

Many thanks to Mountain Mountain Wool Mill for providing this yarn to me for review!

Apple Pickings, A Rusty Meat Hook, and The Many Things You Can Do With Yarn

Sometimes I sit down to write here and I just have no idea where the story will lead. Tonight is one of those times.

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write here. It wasn’t because I haven’t wanted to, but just because I haven’t been sitting much lately. Shortly after I published my last post, we jetted over to spend a couple days at my parents’ house while Mr. Knitting Sarah had meetings. The highlight of the trip was the tried and true fall pastime around here: apple picking. My parents have an orchard a short and scenic drive from their house, so each year the kids and I go with my mom.

img_8256

This year the rainy, rainy spring and summer led to an apple crop that was not the best looking. The proprietor explained that many of the apple skins had blemishes because of the weather, but that the actual apples were still good, even if they weren’t necessarily pretty.

img_8261

We managed to find pretty ones. They were also quite tasty.

img_8260

I’m usually a Pink Lady kind of girl and I rarely, if ever, buy Golden Delicious, but these were magnificent. I grabbed as many as I could find. We bought roughly 7 tons of apples and have been eating them nonstop since. My girl really wanted to make a pie, so we tried, but it kind of came out more like chunky apple soup encased in a nice crispy crust. It tasted good, but the presentation left something to be desired. I definitely have to work on my pie skills…

In any case, while there, I finished my Elbert Hat

img_8263

Since this photo, I’ve blocked the hat and made it a pom. I’ll attach it and get some FO photos soon.

I also started my Wildflowers Cap

img_8274-1

I finished it once we got home and then I asked Mr KS and got a hard no on the pom, so there will be no pom. I have it soaking and will get it drying shortly.

Since getting home, it’s been an all out sprint to get things tidied up before Mr KS’s parents arrive tonight. It was equal parts making it nice for when they arrive and a blast of autumnal cleaning. You know, the big push to get things zipped up before things get cold. The kids and I finally conquered The Great Multiplying Rock Pile. I washed all the windows. I got the oven cleaned. You, know, all the things that you don’t want to do during the nice weather and you can’t do during the really cold weather. I’d say 90% of it got done in the last 6 days.

Somehow in there, we managed to go some antique shopping. The mister is addicted to American Pickers and -we’ve agreed that we love the stuff they find, but would rather pay people like them to dig through the junk to find the stuff we like because, yeesh, they have strong stomachs! In any case, we’ve been checking out local antique shops for bits and pieces. So our house is definitively North Woods Cabin meets Yarn Shop which, you know, is pretty specific and weird. And, in case you were wondering, it involves a lot of conversations that go like this:

Mr KS: Hey, check this out! [holding up a rusty meat hook attached to an old piece of wood that may or may not have been a barn once]

Me: Uhh….. [insert reactive grossed out face here]

Mr KS: Seriously?! This is great!

Me: What would you do with it? It’s a rusty meat hook.

Mr KS: [looks at it & shrugs] Hang some yarn on it?

Me: [face instantly brightening] I like that. Nice! Let’s get it!

So in case it wasn’t clear before, you can pretty much show me anything, tell me that it’ll look great if I hang yarn on it, and I’ll instantly love it.

img_8289-1

It’s totally impossible to photograph this spot in our house, but there it is. Yarn hanging on a rusty meat hook in my house. Looking awesome.

We are special people. I’m glad we found each other.

But I digress.

This week I also speed finished my second sock from my Three Waters Farm Storm’s End yarn

img_8287

Better photos to come, of course, but you can get the idea from sock #1 that I shared in July. A friend who was using the same yarn was worried she might run short for the shawl she was knitting, so I was inspired to whip through the second sock so she could have my leftovers if it came to that. In the end she didn’t need it, but she finished and I finished. What a happy ending all around!

I’ve been spinning quite a bit, too, in the evenings when the body & mind are tired and, of course, despite all the cleaning and tidying around here, the spinning area is a low-level disaster…

img_8290

That little end table should have a coaster and a bowl on it, but instead it’s strewn with full bobbins, empty bobbins, and random do-dads. I really should be emptying bobbins, not filling them, in anticipation of Spinzilla next week, but it’s my meditation, my release, so I just keep spinning.

Oh, and you’ll notice the dress form in the background of that photo (also why the photo is at such a weird angle…) — this is another of Mr KS’s decorative genius moments. We had that weird corner space next to the shelving and wanted to put something there. Mr KS didn’t even really ask, he just ordered it and now I have a really cool little spot to display things and it fills the weird space and it’ll make taking FO photos a bit easier. She’s currently donning my Hitchhiker, as you can see. I’m a big fan of this addition, too.

And there you have it, an update — disjointed and scatter-brained though it may be — from the North Woods Cabin meets Yarn Shop, where there is always something new and interesting happening with yarn. On my needles, on my wheels, on the walls — I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

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.

Snowfling Mitts, Version 2

Two years ago around this same time of year, I purchased the Snowfling Mitts kit from Tanis Fiber Arts and knit up these fantastic mittens.

snowfling mittsAnd over the last two years they have been some of my most used mittens. Made in stranded colorwork and lined with a cashmere blend, you can surely understand why — they are very warm and very soft! With all the use they are holding up remarkably well, but my darling daughter has taken a liking to them. Our daily walks began to require wheeling and dealing to see which of us would get to wear them. And if you know anything about me when it comes to sharing my knitwear, you’ll know I was often left hunting for a different pair.

As I’ve mentioned, on my little birthday getaway trip to Spin of Door County I picked up some Madelinetosh DK & Pashmina so I could set about making myself another pair. I opted to make them one of my goals for my One Plus One Plus One Project this quarter and thus gave myself both permission and incentive to get them knitted up.

img_1842-1And that’s just what I’ve done!

img_2230Of course, once I start with colorwork I can never put it down. I worked both of the outer mitts first…

img_2257And then quickly moved on to the linings.

And now they’re done!

topsideI absolutely adore the mix of different snowflakes on the top of the hand. Personally, I don’t think the light blue/grey blend of the Cloud colorway could be any more perfect.

palmAnd the simple starry design on the palm is just like a light snow. I was aiming to be just a bit more relaxed with my gauge with these than the first pair in order to make them just a smidge roomier and I’m happy to report that my plan worked out perfectly and this pair is just exactly the size I wanted. I also diverged from the pattern in that this time around I went with the designer’s original impulse and made the picot edge the darker color. I opted for the darker edge partly just to try something a little different and partly because — I’ll be honest — the black/grey won’t show the dirt & wear the way the light blue/grey would. Oh, and instead of sewing the picot edge down I picked it up and knitted it at its turning point just to avoid the sewing. It’s not and neat and tidy as a sewn picot edge, BUT it saved me some time and it really isn’t noticeable when you’re actually wearing them.

As for the lining…

peekI’m not usually one to be very creative or, you know, skilled when it comes to pairing and coordinating colors. I usually seek (a lot) of help for this task, but when I saw the “Byzantine” colorway, I knew it could be no other way for these mitts.

snowfling insideoutI can say nothing more than I whole-heartedly adore how they turned out.

As they were off the needles, I laid them next to my computer so I could admire them while I got some work done. Within moments, my daughter sauntered up to have a look. She tried them on and said,

“Mom, can I have these? I really think they fit me perfectly.”

(For the record, remember they are a little big on me and she is 8).

I replied, “Oh, but I made these for me so you could have my red ones with the white snowflakes. You know, the ones you are always borrowing because you love them so much.”

(She pauses to admire my precious mittens.)

“No, I really think I should have these new ones.”

And with that she took it off and walked away.

We haven’t revisited the topic yet. It’s anyone’s guess how it’ll go down, but I’m guessing that the most likely outcome is that we’ll negotiate into some sort of scenario in which we share the two pairs. I won’t ever complain or deny my kiddos my knitwear, but for certain special projects I think I’ll always reserve the right to make them share with me.

general

To Call a Fig a Fig

Two nights ago while waiting for a swatch to dry so I could start a new project, I thought I’d be responsible and whip up a quick hat for which I’d wound yarn before our Yellowstone vacation. Responsible because the yarn was wound and I knew it’d be a quick knit. I got going on the ribbing and then had some… ahem… issues with putting it down.

img_2292-1Having been on a real colorwork kick lately, knitting up the Passerine Hat would be a great choice. I’d gotten the pattern & yarn right away when the pattern was first published for some very sentimental reasons (which I’ll share when it’s finished) and I knew it would be just a treat of a project. Plus, with the feel of colorwork already in my hands, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, yesterday I was knitting away, completely addicted to seeing the pattern take shape and before I knew it I was through the colorwork and beginning the crown shaping.

img_2294As my bedtime crept closer and I got more tired, I started looking more and more at my little birds. The tension in the colorwork wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It looked fine, really, and I knew it would wear just fine, but the more crown shaping I did the more I knew I was not going to be satisfied. This treat was going to be imperfect unless I took drastic measures.

As knitters, I think we’ve all been in the spot where we have a choice to make about a project. Maybe the sizing of a sweater is a little off, maybe some stitches are twisted way back in the pattern, or maybe your colorwork isn’t quite perfect. The hardest choices are the ones that don’t have an obvious answer. Yes, I could leave this hat with the little imperfect birds. I’m really not a total perfectionist and I could probably live with it. Besides, no one would know except me that they were a little off.

Alas, just before bed I decided I couldn’t ignore the tension issues and I simply had to call this fig a fig. And thus, I awoke this morning to this…

img_2295With fresh eyes and a good night’s sleep under my belt, I’m ready to have another go at this little treat of a hat and to make it the little beauty that I know I can knit it into, the adorable hat that it is meant to be. Sure, it would have been nice to have done a more perfect job the first time. Yes, it’s a little frustrating to go back and re-do basically an entire hat. But if there’s one thing I’m certain in this craft, it’s that knitting in real life is rarely perfect and sometimes it requires a second go. That’s a fact with which, my friends, I am at total peace. And on that note, here I go again!

Snowfling Mitts

It seems so appropriate that I write about my Snowfling Mitts today. Yes, today on March 12, 2014 I awoke once again to snow. Tonight promises record low temps near 0F. It isn’t unprecedented for these parts to be this cold this late in the year, but it has been a l-o-n-g winter. It’s nature though, and there’s nothing we can do about it. So…if you can’t beat ’em, make a new set of pretty mittens!

Snow now seems like an appropriate theme.

detail of snowflakeI’ve been doing a lot of contacting different shops, dyers, and yarn companies about sponsoring a couple giveaways for the Socks with Sarah KAL. Fortunately/unfortunately, there has been no avoiding some personal shopping while attempting to acquire items for this purpose. I’ll talk in more detail about in the next few days, but suffice to say Tanis Fiber Arts is one such shop. I carefully selected a couple skeins of sock yarn and as I was literally about to checkout when on a whim I clicked on the button for kits. And I saw the Snowfling Mitts kit. I had just been talking with a good friend about colorwork mittens and we had been ooohing & ahhhing over these mittens. Somehow one of these kits wound up in my cart and shortly after in my hands.snowfling mittsAnd now they are on my hands. I love that the snowflakes are a classic motif and yet presented in a modern way, just like a real snowfall.

palm side mittThe palm even side has a delicate, simple snowflake pattern.

cuff detailThe cuff has a beautiful arrow pattern and the picot edge is just a perfect touch.

 I followed the pattern exactly except for how I finished the picot edge & attached the gorgeous merino/cashmere/nylon lining…

liningRather than sewing down the picot edge & then attaching the lining, I just did it all at once — tacking down the picot edge while picking up the lining stitches. Isn’t the gold lining beautiful?

This project was two firsts for me. I had never tried a Tanis Fiber Arts pattern before. I found it very well written & easy to follow and the fit of the mitt is perfect. I am already looking ahead at using more patterns from Tanis LaVallee including but not limited to her Smokestack Socks and Business Casual Socks as well as the Fairview Scarf. And please, don’t get me thinking about the Coolbreeze Sweater Kit. I beg you.

The other first was the Tanis Fiber Arts yarn. The kit contained both Yellow Label DK weight yarn for the outer colors and Purple Label Cashmere Sock for the lining. Both were a dream to work with. I could tell from the photos that the Garnet (red) yarn in this kit would be beautiful, but the subtle depth of its rich color really was more than I even imagined. It is truly, truly beautiful.

All in all, these mitts were a joy to knit and are luxurious to wear. Thank goodness the weather has taken another turn toward wintry conditions so I can use them? Yes, that’s my sentiment. It’s March 12th, let it snow a little more. Why not? I have pretty new mittens to wear.

For my Ravelry project page for these mitts, click here.