Spin me. Spin me.

I had an early wake-up call this morning from a sick little girl who couldn’t stop coughing. I knew there was something coming yesterday so I followed my dad’s advice and we spent a good deal of time outside in the fresh air. He swears by the fact that if you feel under the weather the best medicine includes a healthy dose of fresh air, the colder the better. We had some nice brisk air — really it was a picture perfect autumn day — so while the kids played, I snapped some pictures.

20131006-124849.jpgOur Jerusalem Artichokes. They have struggled the latter part of the growing season — very dry conditions now followed by a very wet week — but they are still managing to bloom. For those who don’t know, these grow about 8-10 feet tall and their roots are edible — kind of like a potato.

20131006-124924.jpgSome of our gooseberry shrubs are turning a radiant red.

20131006-124943.jpgAnd the sedum a friend split for me from her yard are doing wonderfully… even the one the dog dug up for reasons unknown.

20131006-125006.jpg After peeling around the yard — he was so excited to be able to run outside after days of rain — Moose kindly tested the weatherizing of our deck. The water is beading up, so I think that means success.

20131006-124907.jpgAfter his quality control duties were complete, he grabbed his soup bone, found a sunbeam, and delighted in the fresh air.

20131006-124831.jpgI did much the same, just minus the bone and plus some knitting. I finished up the second sleeve cap on my Deco and have started the decreases on the sleeve. I had some further incentive from a couple different sources to wrap up this knit asap. First, I was tempted by a knitting/spinning friend to check out The Plucky Knitter‘s latest update. I have never knit with her yarns, but people are bananas for her stuff & I kind of want to see what all the hype is about.  Her updates notoriously sell out in minutes — I’m not kidding, minutes — so I wanted to see how it all works should I ever actually try to purchase from her. She did an event at Cream City Yarn earlier this year and while I couldn’t attend, I’m kind of hopeful they do it again so I can shop in person. In the meantime, you can bet I will have my eye on those updates!

My other bit of incentive came by way of my September installment of the Cloudlover Fiber Club.

20131007-073652.jpgCan you hear it?

Spin me.

Spin me.

I may be loosing it.

I also caught wind that Natalie is dying more of her Nightmare Before Christmas inspired colorways. They are fantastic, as usual. Ragdoll, Zero, Sandy Claws, This is Halloween. Oh, and don’t forget Harvest Moon… or, you know, all the rest of the Cloudlover fiber & yarns. I swear her shop is dangerous. You should go there immediately.

I, on the other hand, need to go snuggle a sick girl. And knit a sleeve so the fiber stops talking me.

Oh, I Just Can’t Wait!

This week I managed to get a lot done. I finished up an exterior painting job, some deck weatherizing, got some amazing buttons for my Carter Cardigan (hopefully I will be ready to share those with you next week!), wrapped up another month of the Merry KAL and kicked off another, got my kids to the dentist, and a whole laundry list of other odds & ends. It all wrapped up with a post-bedtime scurry to the basement when a tornadic storm blew through town last night. Luckily we only saw some high winds and heavy rain, but it was disruptive nonetheless to an otherwise quiet night. I tell you, never a dull moment here.

In between all the stuff of life, I have managed to get some work done on my Deco by Kate Davies. I kicked off the week tackling the aspect of this sweater I was most intrigued by — the short row sleeve cap. While it took me a good long while to wrap my head around this maneuver, I have to say that now that I’ve got going I’m really impressed. Once I got the gist, it was actually really fun to work. More importantly, the fit is phenomenal. Having spent my early years in & out of wheelchairs, crutches, canes, and pretty much resigning myself to the fact that my arms were going to take me farther than my legs ever would, I have some pretty large upper arms. While swimming has trimmed nearly 2″ off each arm circumference (so long excess arm meat, hello toned upper arms — whew-hoo!), they are still muscle-ier than the average ladies’ arm.  It’s something I always check on sweater schematics and check rigorously during each knit. This sleeve cap has a great shape though & is really very comfortable for me. I think the great fit has more to do with shape than size, so it’s not that someone without my mammoth arms would not be comfortable. On the contrary, I think it simply has a fantastic shape.

Would you like to see a few snapshots?20131004-092332.jpgThe sleeve cap — almost a triangular shape. It’s so innovative!

20131004-092318.jpgThe short rows use Carol Sunday’s method — according to the pattern this is like a Japanese short row. Oh. My. Goodness. This was a first for me with this technique & I LOVE it. Previously I had used the wrap & turn method for short rows usually, but I think Carol Sunday’s method is much cleaner & easier. Having taught wrap & turns many times, I would hands down rather teach this one. True, there is a learning curve involved, but once you get going… it is so simple. That paired with the neatness of the appearance, it’s just a win-win.

20131004-092306.jpgJust look at that lovely seamless pick-up at the sleeve cap! As you can see I’m magic looping the sleeve. I have only three decreases left on this one.

20131004-092345.jpgNot too far to go now!

I have been in the habit of knitting my sweater sleeves two-at-a-time, so it is kind of daunting to know that I have a whole other sleeve to knit up when this one is done. BUT I do have the novelty of the short row sleeve cap to knit again. I am hoping that lessens the blow a bit. And then all that is left are the bands — so only a hop, kip & a jump to wearing this sweater.  I love this moment in knitting a sweater — when you can see that it is going to get done, that it is going to fit well, that all the hours of work are going to grant me a beautiful new garment. The anticipation is the only problem… Oh, I just can’t wait!

That Time of Year

It is that time of year around here that we all feel an urgency. You hear phrases like ‘before the snow flies’ and ‘before the weather turns’ as a lot as people get serious about getting all their outdoor tasks finished before winter. While it’s true that we may not see snow until November or December, anytime after mid-October is fair game so the month from mid-September to mid-October is the time when we all have to put things to bed outside lest we be caught off-guard by an early snowfall.

My outdoor chore list has been piling up for… oh, about 8years. Having kids will do that to the chore list of a stay-at-home mum — there is always something more important (and let’s face it, more fun) to do than outside chores with little ones around. With both kids in school full-time this fall though, the time has come to pay the piper. Slowly, but surely I am making some progress on my behemoth list. This week I managed to weatherize our deck & spent hours scrubbing mildew off of our front porch. I’m afraid the porch was long overdue for weatherproofing & is in a spot that rarely sees the sun. I’m hopeful that the third scrubbing this morning does the trick & that I can weatherproof Monday or Tuesday. I also scraped the paint off the trim of our shed so that I can repaint it. This involved getting onto the roof & hanging over to scrape 2 sides of the eaves. And I didn’t fall off once. Yay! Most impressive so far (to me anyway) though is that I managed to remove & replace some of the trim that was rotten. I cut wood boards — including two mitered edges — that actually fit back into place. On the first try. I don’t believe it either, so here’s some proof.

20130928-075633.jpgNot perfect, but it fits & is secured & cost me less than $5. Oh, and that really shoddy looking trim is already scraped it didn’t look that bad, I swear.

What this means for my knitting life is that I don’t have much of one. I’ve got a weekly knitting date with a friend and I’ve been attending the Friday morning open knitting event at Firefly Fibers. It helps me to not be consumed and overwhelmed by the Mt Everest of a list of outdoor tasks I’ve accumulated. At home, I steal an hour here, 10minutes there. Whenever I can squeeze in a row or two, I do. I propel myself forward with this:

20130928-081212.jpgI will name it ‘The Taunting Pile.’ It is the stack of things I really want to get at, but have forbidden myself to touch until I finish up my current sweater, Deco. Speaking of….

20130928-081153.jpgIt doesn’t look like much for all the rolling edges & scrap yarn and needles hanging off of it, but it is knitting up wonderfully & looking lovely. You can take my word for it. I finished up the main body & fronts, and just began the upper back. I only have to finish up the back, the sleeves and the button band. Not too bad considering I’ve been busy & I only started 13 day ago. As usual, I think my row here, row there approach seems to be working just fine. Maybe I will get to my pile of goodies sooner than later!

Of course, when not working outside or knitting there is this.

20130928-082445.jpgAnd this.

20130928-081227.jpgAnd this to enjoy.

20130928-082503.jpgSo much to do, so much to enjoy, so much to knit. The only thing missing is my spinning wheel… now how can I squeeze that into the mix?

So Lazy & So Spoiled

For the first time since my son was born 8+ years ago, when school started at the beginning of September I have had the freedom to start to develop a social knitting life. When teaching I occasionally had the opportunity to knit or spin with Alisa from Firefly Fibers, but it usually revolved around ‘work’ items in one way or another. Now though, now I am knitting with friends simply to knit with friends and it is a whole new world.

Of course, some things never change and my knitting buddy numero uno is — and always will be — my fearless pup, Moose.

20130922-103354.jpgThe weather has started to turn cooler, so he is very snuggly lately and makes a top-notch knitting companion. He loves to be bundled in blankets next to me, an exercise jokingly referred to in our house as ‘Operation Hot Dog’.

All kidding aside, I have had the good fortune of setting up a regular knitting date with a very, very sweet friend. It has been fantastic to be able to sit & knit over coffee with a fellow knitter and has meant so much to my sanity maintenance as the kids have started school. In conversation a couple weeks ago, I happened to mention that I very much wanted to knit Kate Davies’ Deco. On a whim, I asked if she would want to knit it with me. She had a vacancy for a big project in her knitting schedule for the next month or so and I had never actually done a little knitalong with a friend. Why not?

I broke out my Sweet Georgia DK in Riptide that I had set aside for the project…

sgdkAnd bought the extra skein I realized I needed (the danger of switching projects on yarn you’ve already purchased — thank goodness the dye lot was still available!).

While at a launch party for Kelbourne Woolens’ The Fibre Company Yarns at Firefly Fibers a little over a week ago, I helped my knitting buddy locate her choice of yarn. She went with Malabrigo Arroyo in a deep green & it is absolutely fabulous, of course. I was at a yarn event, though, so personal KAL business aside I did not go home empty handed either…

20130922-103336.jpgThese 3 skeins of Tundra in Red Fox ended up coming home with me. I guess I am part of the 4th Quarter Knitalong at the shop now, too — another new development for me since as instructor I never really had time to participate. My Red Fox will eventually be knit into a Tallin… preferably sometime before the December 28th deadline.

But that’s a story for another day… like the day when I do more than wind the skeins into center-pull balls and pet it while drooling.

In any case, we boldly started in on Deco this week and set a rough goal for our next meeting.

20130922-103321.jpgMy friend is speedy though and made quick work of the first section. It is great inspiration for me to have a speed demon knitting with me! She fearlessly forged ahead and I followed, a bit behind.

20130922-103309.jpgAs we moved into the next section, she even typed up a handy chart for keeping track of the multiple elements at play. Can I just say that after having been in charge of building & instructing on these types of tools for the past few years how crazy it was when she handed this ‘cheat sheet’ to me? I felt so lazy & so spoiled!

Knit away I will for the remainder of the weekend & until our next meeting. This sweater is coming together so nicely — I just love Kate Davies’ designs. I feel like I always have to work for the results because Kate Davies’ is no knitting slouch, but they are so worth it in style & fit. I already have grand plans for all the wear I will get out of it. And I am so thankful that this wear will likely occur in the nearish future, a fact I owe largely in part to the inspiration of my knitting comrade.

20130922-103258.jpgAnd this time, I’m not talking about the pup.