No Plan Survives Contact with Reality

There is a famous quote that goes, “No plan survives contact with the enemy” (If you’re a nerd like me and like this sort of thing, you can read about the history of this quote here). I think of these words a lot. Oftentimes I remind myself that in my case, “No plan survives contact with reality.” It could be that I’m not a great planner (very true) or that I just exist in a position with a lot of variables that I can, must, and do work around (also true). In any case, it could not have been more true this week.

As I wrote my last post on Tuesday, I was raring to go with a million things on my to-do list before we started school today, Thursday. My blog posted, I let my son know we would be going to a local outdoor pool the kids love in the afternoon as a treat and I hopped right to the task I had to finish before leaving — getting the lawn mowed. As I finished mowing & mentally checked that item off the list — yes! — I came in and within moments my son became violently ill.


I’ve been a mom long enough that when it comes to this type of illness I pretty much have a constitution of iron. I can be there with a washcloth & toothbrush, clean up, and will myself to stay healthy so I can act as nurse. I, however, have not been a mom long enough to lose hope each and every time that it’s a one-off fluke. Sadly, it was not. And thus, we embarked on 48hours of everyone in the family being sick to one degree or another.

Obviously the pool was out until further notice and the to-do list went out the window. We stayed home (of course) and the kids basically slept and barely moved for two days (by contrast our son generally bikes around 20miles per day). I did extra laundry, played nurse to my ‘babies’, and made quick runs out to the store for saltines and Gatorade. I managed to steal a few moments to get outside weed & tidy up my landscaping and spread out the two batches of grass clippings the neighbors had deposited in the compost area since we’d been on vacation.

Of course, a lot of time was spent just being with the kids, too, watching some TV with them. I started my August installment of the Feel Good Yarn Co Summer Sock Club…

img_4193Kate Atherley‘s Diamonds In Your Shoes is the exclusive club pattern for the month and it’s cruising along already. I’m loving her instructions for cabling without a cable needle — so handy during the summer when I’m on the go. If I don’t need to carry along a cable needle, that’s one less thing I can lose in transit.

In my spinning, I finished up my Three Waters Farm July Top of the Month Club singles…

img_4197Eventually this will be a 3-ply — I’m very interested to see it as the spindle spun singles I spun from some roalgs I rolled and will most likely be pretty unique when compared to the wheel spun singles.

In the mean time, though, I thought I’d start a little bonus heavier weight 2-ply.

img_4194This colorway is also from Three Waters Farm and is called Painter’s Backdrop dyed on Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk top, 40/40/20. It’s one of the braids I took with me on vacation, but didn’t get to. This braid has been in my stash since last November so I thought it was time to spin it up.

Oh, and I didn’t share a photo yet, but these are the singles I finished on vacation…

img_4196This is Dyeabolical‘s 66 Sunset colorway dyed on Fawn Shetland. I really love the depth of color on the Fawn Shetland.

After all the less than appealing excitement of this week, I barely even remember what was on my to-do list when I was last typing away here. It feels like a distant memory. My plans definitely did not survive contact with reality. In any way. At all. And yet, the world keeps spinning ’round and ’round and the sun has risen and set each day. As everyone appears to be on the mend now, I’m here thinking about our plans for the weekend and next week. Wisconsin Sheep & Wool is not too far off either. And then there will be a trip up to my parents’ next month. And our next vacation out there on the horizon. Oh, the plans I will make that will not survive reality to fruition and the life I will lead and the things I will get done in spite of it all!

Coming Soon, to Needles Near Me

As I wait for my trio of hats from my Craftsy class to dry so I can tell you all about them and the wonderful class, I’ve found myself winding ALL THE YARN. OK, not all the yarn, but quite a bit. Of the next 9 days, the weather service tells me that 6 of those may include snow. Nothing says knit like the wind to a knitter like 6 days of snow. So how about I share what I’m thinking?

First, my Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber Quick’s Point has started shaping up to be a gorgeous incarnation of Clare Devine‘s Tarsi-Grande.

I had originally started these as vanilla stockinette socks, but decided a couple inches in that I really wanted more texture — this pattern is proving to be exactly what I was looking for. You’ll remember that Clare of Yarn & Pointy Sticks is a sponsor of Socks with Sarah and authored a fabulous eBook Sock Anatomy which teaches sock techniques on baby socks. Tarsi-Grand is an adult sized version of one of the baby socks and I’m so happy to be knitting it. Oh, and don’t forget that we can take advantage of the 15% off discount with Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber through the end of the year by using the coupon code  SOCKSWITHSARAH  when you checkout. This beautiful yarn & fiber makes excellent gifts for you and your fiber artist friends!

Then, I got my hands on this lovely skein of Merino Twist DK from Sweet Fiber.

I think the olive colorway will go great with my favorite muskox neckerchief & I’m looking to knit it into Shannon Cook’s Schwimmen

schwimmenA pretty lace hat from Shannon Cook & Jane Richmond’s new mini collection, Seasonless, I can barely wait to cast-on. I have to give a shout-out to Shannon for a little assist yesterday. I am not the most computer savvy lady on Earth, unfortunately, and I was having some issues with printing my patterns from the eBook version that came with my print copy (which I’m told is on its way!). I emailed Shannon and she got back to me right away and got those patterns delivered in a manner that I could print — I printed them immediately, of course. Thanks so much, Shannon, for your time and extra effort!

Then, I was also looking at Laylow — the lovely shawl pattern in the same booklet. So I did some stash diving and came up with a couple skeins that might work…

laylowI can’t tell yet if this color combination will work. The blue doesn’t have quite the coppery tones I had remembered, but I think I’m going to knit the main body in blue and then see how I feel about the other skein once I get to the color change. I could go a couple different routes based on my stash, but I think this might be stunning if that copper tone in the blue comes through coppery enough. We’ll see when we get there.

And… since I’ve been wearing shawls and scarves non-stop these days, I wound my super special Bijou Basin Ranch  limited edition Autumn colorway from Miss Babs.

bbrThis is a yak down/nylon blend is gorgeous and I am pretty sure I am going to knit up a shawl with this — the yak is so darn soft I simply must have it around my neck. I’m thinking something simple like Lisa Mutch’s Zilver might fit the bill perfectly — knit up on a US size 8 needle, this will go quickly and the less dense fabric will work great with the yak once it blooms.

And last, but certainly not least, I’m going to be joining in Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky Hats KAL which runs from November 15 – December 15. It’s such a quick & easy KAL that I just couldn’t refuse. All you have to do is knit up one (or as many as you like — these would be quick and easy gifts!) of the hats from the Bulky Hats for Kids & Adults collection in the lovely 50% alpaca/50% wool blend of Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky, a super bulky yarn. Seriously, there aren’t many quicker knits that super bulky hats!

I’m going to be making my little girl a Bear Hat in the Azalea colorway.

bsa kalI’m pretty sure she’s going to see it as a hot pink kitty cat hat, but I’m ok with that. A super warm hat was on my to-do list for my girl, so this fits the bill perfectly and I’ll have a chance to win a fantastic prize, too…

Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Alpacas.

I’ve been ogling the Cane Bay Wrap since I knit up the Fractal Cowl in Blue Sky Alpacas Extra in June and the prize is in blue, so seriously this could not be stronger incentive for me.

This is probably enough to keep me busy for a couple days. Just joking! That’s at least a week or two of knitting for me, but of course I’m also hoping that if we’re going to have some snowy weather that maybe I’ll squeeze in some time with my spinning wheel. I have my Quick’s Point fiber from Cloudlover that I’m working toward finishing and this recent addition to the stash from Spun Right Round

It’s 4oz of Rambouillet in the Wacky colorway. I’m pretty sure it was made for me. And just to veer off-course here, don’t even get me started on this beauty from the same shop…

IMG_6997But that skein will have to wait its turn. Two shawls, two hats, and a pair of socks are in front of this beauty in line. Have no fear though, they’ll all be coming to needles near me soon enough. Well, maybe not soon enough, but as soon as possible.

iMake Magazine Issue 3 is Live!

Just a quick note today to let you know — if you haven’t heard already — that iMake Magazine Issue 3 is live & available for purchase!

imake 3 cover

Don’t you just love that gorgeous photo? It’s by the lovely & talented Libby at Truly Myrtle.

I’m proud and honored to be a contributor with my article & accompanying photos, “Leap Into Socks.”  It tells the story of how learned to knit socks and gives my recommendations for how to begin your own sock knitting adventure if you haven’t already. For readers who are wondering, my photos contain goodies from Signature Needle Arts needles, Dyeabolical Yarns, Sheepish Yarn Co, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, and West Yorkshire Spinners — feel free to contact me for specifics.

As usual, however, mine is just one of many — this issue contains very fun and incredibly informative articles inside  to a variety of topics from cookery to craft and much more! I highly recommend giving it a read!

You can purchase iMake Magazine in the iMake shops here on Craftsy or here on Etsy. If you missed out on issues 1 & 2, you can pick those up, too, while you’re there.


Many thanks to Martine at iMake for asking me to contribute as well as for permission to use this photo.

16 Credits Don’t Hang in the Balance

Upon entering college, I had to take a foreign language placement test. I did not expect much as my high school French classes were taught by a very tiny, very old nun and were comprised of multiple readings of The Little Prince, occasionally interrupted by picking up The Count of Monte Christo. Of course we studied grammar & pronunciation and all that, but suffice to say I was not on the road to becoming a native speaker. To my surprise, the results of my placement test landed me into 4th semester college French which had the option of class that was an introduction to literary analysis. Now I knew my abilities and I knew this would be a tough slog, but the system was set up so that if I managed to earn a B or better in this class, I would also earn credit for the 3classes that came before. I was savvy enough to know that not only would I essentially get 16credits for the price of 4, but the extra credits would push me higher up in the lottery for class sign-ups as well as open a lot of doors for upper level classes earlier in my college career. I went for it.

The first half of the semester I did pretty well. Languages have always come pretty naturally to me. Granted I am not the best speaker, but comprehension & reading always came easy. As the semester wore on though, I started to get bogged down. The material got tougher and there were more required presentations which were a challenge for me, not to mention I was taking 3 or 4 other courses at the time. I got behind. When the final paper was on the horizon, I procrastinated. The deadline loomed and I continually put it off. The day before it was due, I had started but was no where near where I needed to be. That night, I did not sleep. I pulled a classic collegiate all-nighter. Through the wee hours, I typed madly. In French.

It. Was. Awful.

This night was so horrific, it is etched in my memory and influences me to this day.  When I work on a deadline now, I actually add in a personal deadline that is usually a week ahead of the actual due date. If I am promising delivery of something — be it writing or knitting or an item from the honey-do list or a project for the kids’ school — I almost always only agree to a date that is a few days beyond when I know I can complete the task. It’s not that I can’t work on a tight deadline, I just don’t like it. And I will go to great ends to be ahead of schedule whenever humanly possible.

Enter holiday crafting.

I don’t normally commit to much in the way of holiday knitting & spinning. It is such a busy time of year — my husband works long hours and has a ton going on and the time we have free can be short notice. The last thing I want is to be worried about an uncomfortable deadline — I just want to be enjoying the season with my family.  We still spend a lot of time outside, but today we woke up to a blanket of snow and are expecting an acrtic blast promising highs below freezing for a week so I will not be knitting outside serenely as the kids frolic like I did this summer. I value my fingers more than I feel compelled to give all my loved ones handknits — sorry everyone.  While I still do knit & spin a lot, I just don’t commit to more than maybe one or two small projects.  Oh, and I buy a skein of sock yarn to give to my husband. I used to try to knit the socks before Christmas, but always came up short so now I just wrap the skein and put it under the tree for him. It’s our thing.

This year, however, I kind of got a little overly ambitious. First I promised to spin two skeins of gradient yarns for my mom. Then I thought it would be awesome to really knit socks for my husband. Like, actually have them finished. Then I thought I could get crazy & knit a bunch of socks for him. I finished one project and a quarter of the spinning & thought, ‘Hey, I should knit sweaters for the kids. They’d feel really special.’ Then my husband asked me to knit a couple hats for him to give as gifts. And then he asked for a hat for himself. What started off innocently optimistic and achievable has quickly gotten a little out of hand.

I am making progress though.

20131122-100249.jpgI finished these in a few days.

20131122-100220.jpgAnd I have the singles of one of the spinning projects done as well as a little under half of my husband’s hat complete. It is fingering weight & a 1×1 rib, so it is slow going. I am tempted to pick up the projects my husband asked me to make for him to give as gifts as they will be quicker than this hat, but so far I am just staying the course and focusing on one project at a time. It seems to be keeping me a little more grounded and a little less crazed.

While the stage is certainly set for me to become a stressful little ball of nerves and relive that horrible night of French term paper writing over and over for the next 32days, I am not knitting myself into a frenzy day & night. Instead I am thankful to be able to back off my initial projections for my holiday knitting. 16 credits don’t hang in the balance and my son & daughter won’t notice that there are no handknit sweaters under the tree for them. I could give them each one in January and they’d be just as happy about it. My husband probably won’t mind getting his traditional skein of sock yarn instead of actual socks. Most of all though, I am determined to enjoy this season with my family. Whatever expectations I set for myself, whatever knitting hopes & dreams I have, I am at peace with the fact that I am not a last minute person in anything, especially my knitting & spinning. I will do what I always do — I will get done what needs to be done early and the rest will just move at the pace that is appropriate for my life and my family.  And thankfully all of this will happen in a language in which I am fluent.

Too. Many. Great. Choices.

It seems that all my favourite designers have new books coming out these days. With so many amazing options, the hard part isn’t finding fresh new patterns to love. The challenge is figuring out a way to make them fit in my budget. I thought today I’d share with you my favourite new titles as well as my thoughts and plans to incorporate them into my personal library.

I have sung the praises of Jane Richmond many times in the past & I have no doubt I will continue to do so for years to come. Of all the designs I knit up, Jane’s are some of the most used and loved in my wardrobe. Always timeless, always practical, always simple & beautiful, I recommend Jane’s designs for knitters of all skill levels.

What we discovered about Jane from her first book, Island (reviewed by me here), is that she transcends the title of talented knitwear designer. Her book was groundbreaking in that it took a collection of designs and gave them depth and meaning by forever intertwining them with a place, her home of Vancouver Island.  Her new book, Journey, which officially launched at Knit City in Vancouver this past weekend, promises the same layers of inspiration.

Cover journeyThis time collaborating with the talents of her friend and colleague, Shannon Cook, it looks like once again we will be treated to not only beautiful designs, but more breathtaking photography by Nicholas Kupiak. For a sneak peak, you can check out their amazing video preview. Be warned though, it will make you extremely anxious to lay your hands on this book! You can count on the fact that I will be dropping whatever I am doing the moment this is available & placing my order. I have absolutely no doubt it’ll be worth every penny of the $26.95!

Next up is Ysolda Teague’s The Rhinebeck Sweater. This book is a collection spearheaded by Ysolda & offers designs from many big names in the design world, so the hype is thick. Like any collection of sweaters, there are some I love — how do you not love Pumpkin Ale, Jenny at the Fair, and Dutchess? There are also some that aren’t really my style though. One thing to keep in mind is that most of these patterns appear to be pretty involved, so it may not be the most practical purchase for those with a less advanced skill set. I am pretty tempted by my LYS’ offer for 10% off of pre-orders because the cost of the book is a little on the high side, but I still find myself squarely on the fence about this book. Thank goodness I have a couple days left to mull it over before the pre-order offer expires!

Then there is the highly anticipated Botanical Knits 2 due out next year from Alana Dakos. You may remember that I reviewed the original Botanical Knits in May and raved about the beautifully detailed patterns & the superior pattern writing of Dakos. While we await the release of the second book in the series, this wonderful designer has granted us a fabulous gift. She has pre-released the absolutely gorgeous Sprig pattern.Sprig modeled 5Officially part of the Botanical Knits 2 collection, if you purchase this sweater pattern now individually you can apply the “entire cost of the pdf” to the purchase of the new book when it is released. Just save your PayPal receipt & you will have already invested in a lovely new collection for 2014. I think it is an awesome (and effective!) promotion — I picked up my copy of Sprig yesterday. Knit in Quince & Co’s Owl, I think the hardest decision will be in which color to knit it!

Speaking of Quince & Co’s Owl, just in the last hour Knitbot Yoked by Hannah Fettig has been added to the Quince & Co website. The entire collection is knit in Owl & just could not be more beautiful. I have been a pretty huge fan of Hannah Fettig for years and that has only grown with her partnering with the amazing folks at Quince & Co. I have to say this collection may just be my favourite yet! From what I have seen & read, these designs are billed as an excellent first foray into colorwork & will include tips for choosing yarn & colors as well as basic construction information within the book. Video tutorials will also be available online. For under $20, you can’t go wrong!

Finally, the one book in this post I actually have in my possession, the wonderful Clara Parkes’ The Yarn Whisperer.

yw_cover_smallI am savoring this read, so I can’t provide a full review yet. I will tell you that there is very good reason to let the words soak in, to linger on these pages. There is also a reason Parkes is my favourite & most admired figure in the knitting world and this book is a testament to why that is. I can’t wait to tell you more, but for now I’m just going to enjoy.

This is only cracking the surface of some wonderful new titles in the knitting world. Check them out, enjoy, and be inspired!

Many thanks to Jane Richmond, Alana Dakos, and Clara Parkes for permission to use their images.

In Review: iMake Magazine

Martine Ellis is a rare breed. A creative dynamo with an endless stream of interests & inspiration, if you are a creative or DIY-type you really ought to be paying attention to her. I first “met” her through the MerryKAL which she generously offered to co-host with me back in January. Then I started listening to her podcast, a really top-notch program that touches on craft, cookery, the island of Guernsey where she lives, her travels, sewing, music — it is a really lovely mix of topics conveyed in such a friendly, welcoming tone that it’s hard not to love it. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was following her blog, her facebook page, her twitter, her instagram — I just couldn’t help myself. I love that Martine tries everything – you really never know what is coming next, but you can count on the fact that her energy & enthusiasm will be absolutely infectious.

A few weeks ago, she launched her latest endeavor, iMake Magazine.

imake mag coverI, of course, picked up a copy straight away. This pilot issue — like everything Martine lays her hands on — is organized neatly & professionally with a layout that matches her tone perfectly. The e-zine contains articles on cookery, local interests, craft, tech, personal stories, and finding inspiration — a really nice mix if you ask me!

The tone of each article is very distinct and it’s clear that each contributor is well-versed in his/her field & cares deeply about the subject matter on which they write. I found the articles on rare sheep breeds & foraging to be quite fascinating – both articles made me wonder about such themes in my own location on the other side of the Atlantic. ‘The Golden Toilet‘ is both amusing & informative, offering some useful suggestions for finding & nourishing an ethic of inspiration in daily life. Especially effective though was Kate Ellis’ ‘Doing My Bit‘ in which Ms. Ellis discusses her work with Doctors without Borders in such a candid, warm tone that I felt like I was sitting down to coffee with her.

What iMake Magazine does best, however, is its instruction. Its ‘how-to’ and ‘why do’ articles are second to none. From whipping up a batch of pesto to trying out Audioboo to starting a podcast to upcycling vinyl records — Martine & her crew make these segments so clear, concise, and easy to follow that readers would be fools to not take advantage of them. To enhance the excellent information provided in the magazine, in purchasing it you will also gain access to loads of helpful, useful, and neatly cataloged links, or ‘Bonus Material.’ It’s the cherry on the sundae of this wonderful publication!

The quality of this little magazine in both content & layout make it a little hard to believe that this is only Issue 1 for iMake Magazine. Issue 1 of many — at least I certainly hope so. The sheer avalanche of ideas, information, and energy in this e-zine is well with the $5 price tag. Available for download from both the iMake Etsy store & the iMake Craftsy store, the iMake Magazine is well worth your time & money. Check it out today!

imake mag