Busy as a Bee

As spring slowly starts to wake-up here, we’re treated too all the glorious signs of spring. My spinning wheel overlooks our Nanking cherry bushes which have bloomed and I’m lucky in that as I spin I get to watch bees as they float from flower to flower. I can’t help but relate to the bees. As the days grow in length, the sun climbs higher in the sky, and the temperatures warm up I’m invigorated and am compelled to flit about, making plans, and trying to make the most of each sunny afternoon. In bursts I’ve started cleaning up the yard and making plans for some improvements. The cleaning products have been inventories and lists for a nice thorough spring clean for the house have been drawn up. I’ve put off mowing the lawn, but that will have to be addressed sooner than later, too.

And then there’s the arena that is my craft. True to form, I’m busy as a bee in that department, too. Let’s start with knitting, shall we?

img_2971My beautiful Veleta top just needs to be seamed. From Louet’s wonderful Spring Collection, this is knit in Louet’s Euroflax Sport. Since machine washing drastically softens the linen, I ran this through my washer on the delicate cycle before pinning it out to dry on the blocking matts. It’s well on it’s way to being soft as butter. I’m hoping to steal an hour or so to sew it up this weekend.

img_2964And I’m past the gusset shaping of my second handspun sock. This has been my during school/at the playground/in the car project, so I haven’t been moving too too quickly on it, but I’m getting there. It’s such a fun knit for me as I watch my handspun labors take shape that I’m honestly in no rush to finish this project.

img_2969And then I have this project waiting in the wings. I had hoped to knit up a sweater with my giant 1100 yard fingering weight skein of handspun from last month for the Laura Aylor SAL + KAL in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry Group, but I’ve accepted that time is not on my side at the moment. The pattern was a little more complex than was realistic for the spring and summer for me so as I’m desperate to participate, I started thinking about what else I could make. After my daughter stole my fingerless mitts on one of our last hikes, I found the adorable Spiced Cocoa mitts and this yarn that I spun a couple months ago. If I make the small, they’ll be a little big for her, but since she’s growing like a weed that’s probably for the best. She’s OKed the project (it’s important to get permission with an 8-year-old diva), so all that’s left to do is wind the yarn and get started.

In my spinning world, I got some very exciting news this week. Akerworks is developing a new Flat Pack Lazy Kate and I was chosen to be one of the testers for it! I invested in some Akerworks Flat Pack Bobbins when my hubby got me the travel bag for my wheel and I’ve been really, really impressed with the quality as well as how much room they save me so when I saw this Kate in the works I jumped on that sign-up sheet & crossed my fingers and toes. They said they are making them to order right now, but that I should see it sometime in the next couple weeks. I’ll be focusing my review and thoughts in the testing thread while I put it through its paces, but rest assured that a full review will be available in due time.

As you can imagine, while I wait for the Kate to arrive I’m on a mission to spin singles for plying!

img_2967I’ve already got this March Top of the Month Club “Spring Spirit” from Three Waters Farm all set for its Navajo plying.

img_2968And yesterday I wrapped up my singles for the January Top of the Month Club (which I put off forever) “Birds in Holly” — it’s destined for a simple 2-ply.

img_2966And I immediately started in on my April Top of the Month Club “Storm Cloud Over Flowers” — this is the first month I had the Silk Club and I’m loving it. I tempted fate a little by pulling out my Very Fast Flyer for this spin. I’ve been what feels like a little slow on the learning curve for this flyer and while this spin definitely has parts that could be more perfect (that aren’t in this photo), the over-twisting issues I had last time and the feeling that I was either a) just holding on for dear life or b) fighting against the wheel — those feelings are all but gone. Not totally, but for the most part I started to feel the right balance and rhythm  with this flyer and that… well, it felt really good. I’ve also been using my little Akerworks Hedgehog Threader as I find it a little easier to use than the Lendrum issued one. Plus, it’s a hedgehog.

img_2965I did a little work on my spindle project today, too. If I hadn’t mentioned it, I picked up these rolag/punis from Naturally Knitty last summer. I love the colors! I’m still pretty slow with my spindles, but I’m certainly practicing!

I’ve also got more than a couple sewing projects that I need to get working on, but let’s not dive down that rabbit hole just now. For now, the sun is shining & warm and this bee’s got some work to do.

That Silver Lining

There’s a delicate dance for all of us who rely on natural light for photographs. For small projects like socks or handspun skeins of yarn I can get a decent photo in almost any weather, but sweaters and larger shawls are more complicated. For me, if I want to get a picture of the whole project that requires larger than about a 2’x2′ space, I need decent weather so I can snap the photo outside. This April in Wisconsin has involved a lot of snow and rain and raining ice and sleet, often in quick succession. It usually does, but ideally there’s a bit more sunshine in between so I can sneak outside to snap some quick photos. I bring this up because I’ve got a sweater & a shawl all ready to share with you and I’m waiting, ever so impatiently, for a break in the weather. Soon, my friends, soon.

In the mean time, I thought I’d share a WIP update because I’ve been attempting to lurch forward a bit in what I’m working on.

I’m ecstatic to report that last night I wrapped up my Three Waters Farm March Top of the Month Club braid.

img_2786Named “Spring Spirit” this certainly is made up of many of the colors I see out my window (although it’s missing the white snow — lol!). I see irises and green grass and the tulips leaves and the first crocuses of the year. I did some playing with the length of color repeats on this spin & plan to n-ply it. If I get the yardage I need, I’m thinking this will be earmarked for a Quaker Lines shawl. With just 4oz and making a 3-ply, I’m not confident I’ll have the yardage though, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Because I like to be ready to hop right into my next spin, before finishing it up I managed to prep my January Top of the Month Club braids, also from Three Waters Farm.

img_2776I’ve been aiming to stay up to date with my club subscription and so far this is the only one I haven’t spun. You know me, I’m not big on loose ends, so to ease my own mind I really had to make this spin happen. There’s an extremely talented spinner named Karen in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry group who is famous for her gorgeous barberpoley skeins and a while back she was kind enough to share how she preps her yarn for maximum barberpoles. I was really indecisive about how to handle this gorgeous colorway, named “Birds in Holly”, so to end my own over-thinking I decided to try my hand at her technique. To see why I’m interested in trying Karen’s technique, please check out her handspun in her Etsy shop. In addition to her handspun yarn, she also has some cute stitch markers and select spinning tools for sale.

This morning after my morning yoga I got right to this new project.

img_2787I’d considered spinning it a little heavier and this Rambouillet is definitely going to be a bit more substantial than the Falkland of ‘Spring Spirit’, but this weight feels right to me so I’m just going with it. I adore the colors already.

In my knitting, I’ve forbidden myself from starting any of the FOUR projects I’m itching to cast-on until I finish my Veleta top from the new Louet Spring Collection. Both sides are knitted identically and I’m a little over halfway through the big stockinette block of the second side.

img_2778So motivated, I even made myself an Americano yesterday after lunch for a little extra boost. As I knew I would, I’m really enjoying knitting with Louet’s Euroflax Sport. I chose to knit this top in Heron Grey with the bottom lace accent in Cream. It has a very old world feel to it that I truly adore.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve been plugging away at my spindle spinning project.

img_2788I’m definitely still learning how to use this tool efficiently, but I’m very happy to be making progress on this previously stalled out fiber. I’ve been aiming to spin up between 1/2 of a rolag and one full one each day and that seems to be do-able for me.

As I continue to wait for the weather to behave so I can share those FOs, I’ll just keep on keepin’ on with my WIPs as I always do. I suppose the silver lining of the uncooperative weather is that we tend to stay a little closer to home, so I have a tiny bit more time with my knitting & spinning. As I watch the fine snow that is falling outside change to rain and then to ice pellets and then back to snow, I’m going to just keep telling myself to think of that silver lining. Yes, I’m just going to knit & spin my way to more agreeable weather.

One of Those Weeks

Hiya, my friends! I feel a little bit like this is the first time I’ve really sat down in a week.

[Insert deep breath here]

You see, once a year my husband attends a conference for work that takes place at an indoor waterpark and it just so happens that his company is very awesome about allowing families to tag along. As you can imagine, there are a lot of happy kids when conference time rolls around. Our kids, who are used to camping, inclement weather, and the occasional basic hotel, view those couple days at the waterpark/resort as amazingly extravagant. They talk about it constantly and plan out the order in which they’ll visit the attractions weeks in advance. I’m not really a waterpark enthusiast, but as a mum I really appreciate that we can go as I’m not sure we would if not for this opportunity and it’s such a fun time for the kids.

 While I love swimming, I pretty much get motion sick just looking at a swing set let alone riding in a raft down a twisty-turny water slide, so I mostly observe and keep an eye on the kids. Both are strong swimmers, but I stay poolside and keep watch. Of course it isn’t lost on me that this is excellent knitting time for someone who sports the moniker ‘Knitting Sarah’. Since the waterpark is warm and I needed something simple that would allow me to keep an eye on the kiddos, just before we left I chose to cast-on and begin work on my Veleta from Louet’s Spring Collection 2016 which happens to be in the best fiber for warm temps — linen!

img_2571Yes! Another chance to work with the fantastic Euroflax Sport — oh, how I love this yarn! And this pattern is fantastic in that it’s largely stockinette with just a little lacey border and both front and back are worked identically. Simple knitting and a lovely addition to my wardrobe — just perfect!

After an entire day at the waterpark both kids were exhausted in the very best way…

img_2588This one looked like this well into the morning, easily 2 hours beyond her normal waking hour. Knowing they were tuckered, we switched gears on day two to a somewhat low-key indoor amusement park. Despite sleeping in and having a slow morning, both kids kind of walked around like little zombies and, of course, refused to admit they were tired. So I let them move at their pace and I kept knitting.

img_2590When it came time to pick up Mr. Knitting Sarah at the end of his meetings, I’d knocked out a little over 10inches of the front of my Veleta — not too shabby! Thanks to down time during school and a couple movies over the last few evenings, I’m getting tantalizingly close to the lace portion of this side. Knowing I’m close to a change in my knitting is always such good motivation for me.

As for spinning, with my wheel back in good working order I did not waste any time finishing the singles for my combo spin. And then, because I simply couldn’t resist and I had a couple hours into which I could sneak some spinning after school and while I continued to make my way through the laundry, I got a little start on my March Top of the Month from Three Waters Farm.

img_2595This is ‘Spring Spirit’ on a 100% Falkland base. I’m trying out a new-to-me method of dividing up the colors for this spin. A very talented spinner in the TWF Ravelry group made the most incredible boomerang last month and I just had to try her method. First, I divided my braid into its three color repeats. Then, the first repeat I split in half, the second in thirds, and the third in sixths. And then I’ll n-ply it so that you kind of have accelerating stripes. I’m not sure I’ll knit it into a boomerang — I have some other ideas I might light to try, but we’ll see how it turns out.

In between my swimming, zombie indoor amusement parking, knitting, spinning, and Mount Laundry tackling, we also made a day’s detour up to my parents house to recover Moose who’d spent a few days at Club Grandma & Grandpa.

img_2560He’s still sleeping off the excitement.

The kiddos and I also made a trip to a friend’s house who recently acquired a spinning wheel and needed a little help troubleshooting her process. I haven’t done much hands-on spinning with others, but I’m very eager to lend a hand when I can. It was — I think — a very productive day. We were able to take my dear friend through her paces and iron out the places she was having some problems. And — most excitingly — we managed to take two skeins of yarn she’d made that she didn’t think could be saved, add a little twist, and make some honest-to-goodness lovely yarn out of them. I’m absurdly excited to be able to tag along with her on her journey as she learns to spin. I truly enjoy the whole process of seeing a crafter’s evolution. It’s something I really miss about teaching craft and it’s an absolute honor and treat to be able to play even a little part in my friend’s journey.

And today, Sunday, I will boldly attempt to take a few deep breaths and get back on track with our normal routine. Tidying and laundry and exercise and healthy eating are all on my to-do list today. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll squeeze in a little time for some spinning, too…

img_2605

The ATX Linen Tote & Louet’s Euroflax Sport

I have a habit of saving my favorite things and not using them. My husband actually had to have a small intervention with me because he would buy my favorite foods and I would save them until they expired. The same is sometimes true of yarn and although I’ve gotten much better about knitting and spinning my favorites first, old habits die hard.

I’ve long admired Louet’s Euroflax Sport. When I first started knitting I was totally smitten with this yarn, but in my newbie knitter mind it was on a pedestal — very fancy and something to look forward to using when I was more skilled. I would go into shops and touch this gorgeous wet spun linen and I would longingly think, “Someday.” At long last, that day finally came at the end of May when along with the June Spinzilla Pack (if you haven’t yet, you can read my review of the pack here) I received a couple skeins of Euroflax Sport and a new exclusive pattern from the awesome folks at Louet. Finally, this yarn was in my hands and I had to knit it right away. No excuses!

The ATX Linen Tote by Staci Perry of   v e r y p i n k  is as complete as they come when it comes to patterns. Clearly written and with a five-part video tutorial, this pattern is very accessible to knitters of almost any skill level. I found it a fun and easy summer knit and did the bulk of this project in the car to and from our exciting family vacation to Minnesota.

As you can see, car knitting…

IMG_9730And I finished up while relaxing at home…

IMG_9737As I said, the perfect summer knitting. Simple, but fun. Stripes are always fun, aren’t they? Especially when they are as cool as this!

I loved working with the Euroflax Sport. I’d say it was worth the wait, but really the sentiment I wish to convey is that I shouldn’t have waited this long to knit with it. It’s a very high quality linen and knits up like one. There was no splitting, even with the lace tips I used which  is pretty awesome. The most spectacular thing about this yarn, however, is when you wash it. I machine washed the bag on gentle and even ran it through the dryer on low or air fluff which in and of itself is wonderful in its magnificent low-maintence way. When it came out of the wash, though, oh my! How soft! It washes up beautifully — I am so impressed!

My bag was knit using the Burgundy and Sunset colorways, the latter being a new color this year.

ATXtoteReally, could it be any more summery?

atx detaThe stripes were SO fun — I love the progression from dark to light.

atx fullI shortened the strap just a bit because I plan to carry it over the shoulder instead of cross-body as the pattern shows. I also did a single crochet edge as suggested in the pattern notes. It gives the linen a very nice finished edge and I’d highly recommend that finishing touch. You can see my pattern notes on Ravelry here for the details.

All in all, I’m of the opinion that this ATX Tote is pretty much the ultimate in cute, grab a book and some knitting park/beach bag. If you’re dying to cast on, this pattern is currently only available with the purchase of the yarn. The great news is that with the purchase of 2 skeins of Euroflax Sport online from Louet you can just use the coupon code VPEUROFLAX when you checkout and you’ll get the pattern… for free! The pattern is also available from preferred Louet dealers listed on the pattern’s Ravelry page.

If this bag isn’t your cup of tea, I’d still like to suggest that you don’t wait too long to try out this fabulous linen. It would make a fantastic garment or shawl — in fact, Louet came out with a lovely collection this spring which is full of great ways to use this awesome yarn. Whatever you do, don’t put off trying Euroflax Sport too long. Trust me, you’ll regret it!

How Long Do I Have Before It Rains?

A week’s gone by and I feel as though I haven’t had a ton to share. I’ve been remiss on ‘Today on my needles’ and ‘Today on my wheel’ posts and have no excuse for it other than life’s been busy and I just ran out of energy to make them happen. The kiddos are wrapping up the bulk of their big subjects for school and I’ve been dotting i’s and crossing t’s with the record keeping for that. I’ve also starting trying to organize and shelve the homeschool books which are finished for the year. And then there’s the organizing and picking the summer subjects we’re going to do (they are fun, I promise). I spent some time looking at the pile of sewing I want to do (but not actually doing anything with any of that). Then our old car needed new brakes, so there was the delivery of the car, the finger crossing that they would find nothing more major wrong, the paying for the repairs (boo!), and the picking up of the car. Car repairs — like home repairs — just stress me out like no one’s business. I also spent a fair bit of time looking outside wondering, “Is it going to rain?” and “How long do I have before it rains?” and “How heavy is it going to rain?” – yes, it’s been one of those weeks weather-wise and I feel this strange need to at least try to plan my errand running around downpours. The lawn needed mowing. Some plants needed planting. The house needed cleaning. The bird feeders needed filling. You get the picture. Life was happening.

I actually have three finished projects that I’m excited to share with you, but one is still drying on the blocking mats, one is a garment that I’ve waited far too long to ask Mr Knitting Sarah to photograph on me and now the idea of putting on a chunky wool shrug sounds awful, and one is being held until early next week because it’s a review that’s the timeline I’m on. So instead today I’ll just show you what I’ve been working on in between all the staring outside and life happenings…

IMG_9478I’ve been spinning with my best pup never far from my side.

IMG_9476And this is the yarn I’ve been making. It’s Sweet Georgia Polwarth + Silk in the Stormchaser colorway which is definitely fitting since a lot of the staring out the window wondering about the weather has happened while spinning this. I’m still marling away at this fiber. I’m half tempted to set it aside and get going on the goodies I recently got from Louet, but then I look at the small basket of fiber left and think, “Nah! I can just finish.” So I keep spinning away. In the mean time I did prep my first spin from Louet, so that’s all set to go.

 Speaking of Louet, I cast on my ATX Linen Tote in Euroflax Sport

IMG_9480And I’m getting awfully close to finishing the increases. It’s a pretty simple, limited-thought-required knit. It’s going to be a while, but I cannot wait to get to the striping portion of the project. It’s going to look awesome.

It won’t come as a shock to you that this afternoon I have a few more errands to run — movies to return to the library and dog food to purchase just to name a couple things on the to-do list and yet here I find myself, looking at the darkening skies wondering, “Is it going to rain?” and “How long do I have before it rains?” Instead of racing out the door now that my son turned in his last assignment, I think I’ll go spin for a spell. After all, I can contemplate the weather while I work on my Stormchaser fiber. That’s totally appropriate, right?

While I Was Away…

I was cleaning up my inbox this morning and came across this photograph…

https://igcdn-photos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfa1/t51.2885-15/11273354_366240280234162_598369436_n.jpg

This is Moose on the trail somewhere in the 3-6month-old range. Really, how could I not share this with you? What with those enormous ears and feet that he somehow managed to grow into.

And this was him yesterday…

https://knittingsarah.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/5467d-11373938_1663715647182262_1475039642_n.jpg

Just holding my hand for a snuggle, as he does. I thought I’d start with some adorable Moose photos because I’m very relieved and happy to report that he’s been off his food trial and eating actual dog food for going on 3weeks now. It’s kind of fancy limited ingredient dog food, but still it’s actual dog food with complete vitamins and minerals. And just before this photo was taken I’d checked him skin over for any signs of allergic reaction and he was clear. Hooray! This was especially exciting because the kids, Moose, and I spent the long weekend up at my parents house where he laid around in the grass (a luxury for this pup who seems to break out just looking outside sometimes) and I’d forgotten his special anti-bacterial/anti-fungal spray and improvised by using a little apple cider vinegar on him before bed. Yep, he is doing great and no creature on Earth deserves it more than this guy.

In any case, we did spend the long weekend up at my parents’ house. We went up early Friday and the kids got some one-on-one grandma & grandpa time while I attended a funeral for a friend’s grandfather. When I got back the kids were racing bikes up and down the driveway and my son called out, “Grandma let us each have TWO ice cream cones!” What happens at Grandma & Grandpa’s stays at Grandma & Grandpa’s — that’s as it should be, right?

(OK, I’m kind of teasing my mom here — they were those prepackaged little drumstick cones, so it’s not as bad as it sounds)

In any case, we all visited. The kids raced around. Having just finished my Mares’ Tails project, I cast-on a new WIP…

https://igcdn-photos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xaf1/t51.2885-15/11379694_371715433037651_1287486701_n.jpg

This is Bandwagon by Jen Lucas in Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber‘s 75/25 merino/nylon in the Mr Bates colorway. It’s such a fun, easy knit & it’s going to make a fantastic little summer shawl. And I’ll have something special for you with this project in a few weeks.

I finished out Friday night by opening up lawn tractor season at my parents’ house. Whenever we visit in summer, it’s a little tradition that they save at least some of their large lawn for me to mow with their riding lawnmower. There’s a running joke about losing the keys to the mower (because once we did and then had to go buy a spare) and also the constant reminder that one time I ran into a tree with it. In case you were wondering, the tree won and the mower needed some repairs. Whoops. It’s a wonder they still let me do the mowing, but I’m guessing it’s at least partly for comedic value.

Saturday the kids and I were treated to a trip on my dad’s boat.

https://knittingsarah.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/333a0-11313717_1127072530643457_324506331_n.jpg

We just went to a little local lake where we did some bluegill catch and release. My daughter got a little tired and ornery toward the end, but all in all it was an excellent time. We love Grandpa’s boat!

While we were away, it just so happened that multiple packages arrived for me. My Cloudlover Fiber Club shipment arrived…

IMG_9466Complete with a special treat — a braid of Targhee!

And a package from Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe was in the mailbox…

IMG_9465Complete with some summer-friendly scents like Lemon Lime lip balm & a Spring Meadow lotion bar and a couple scents that prove I’ve been keeping my eating habits in check lately, a Chocolate Cupcake lip balm & Lemon Cake lotion bar. All are, of course, amazing.

A big box also showed up from the supremely awesome folks at Louet including their June Spinzilla Pack…

IMG_9470I am so wowed by this — there is SO MUCH here to spin and so many different fibers. I cannot wait to dig in!

Also in the box was this little kit, the super stylish ATX Linen Tote

IMG_9469This pattern is currently only available with purchase of the yarn, Euroflax Sport. Since I love working with linen, I absolutely can’t wait to try out the much lauded Louet Euroflax Sport.

Oh, a super fun knit from The BagSmith was waiting on the doorstep. I got going on it right away…

IMG_9443It’s so unique & fun and I finished it yesterday!

IMG_9445 I’ll have some FO photos & a special coupon just for you for this awesome project later this week.

As you can imagine, Mr Knitting Sarah was kind of… um… surprised by the small mountain of packages that arrived on our doorstep. Since I’m usually the one who gets the mail before he gets home from work, I think he’s a little worried this happens — you know — everyday. Rest assured, dear, it does not. But I am thinking that maybe I should visit my parents more often. Apparently all the best things show up while I’m away!