Knitting Sarah Goes Fishing

Someone recently commented that I could rename this space, “The Adventures of Knitting Sarah” and really that’s not a half-bad idea. While I primarily write about knitting and spinning and fiber arts, I also fill this space with my adventures. Adventure for me is usually pretty small scale. I mean, I really do love the macro lens on a camera and there’s a reason — I find the simple things in this world most extraordinary. A salamander in the woods. The call of a northern saw-whet owl on a country road. The toads I find in my backyard. It makes sense. Why else would I be endlessly fascinated by adding twist to fluff to make string which I then knit with two sticks into stuff I can wear?

This week’s adventure was on a slightly grander scale than usual. As many of you know, my son loves to go fishing. He turned 12 last week and for his birthday my parents treated him (and me and Mr Knitting Sarah) to a chartered fishing trip with my dad out onto Lake Michigan. We went with a charter that my dad had used in the past, Big Water Charters out of Algoma and I’d highly recommend them to anyone looking for some Lake Michigan fishing. For us, Algoma is close enough to my parents’ house that we can make the 3:30am departure with only a 2am wake-up call. My husband likes to tease that I’m not really a morning person or a night owl, but more of a middle of the day kind of person so I totally wowed everyone with my speedy and good-natured roll out that morning. I was kind of excited and nervous at the same time. Excited because I like fishing, too, and I love the big water, but nervous because I knew the weather was going to be touch and go. The Captain gave us the option to delay our trip until we had better conditions, but it was the only day we could all be there. So we went and we were at the dock by about 3:15 though and ready to go.

The weather started out decently. It was a little “lumpy” as they say and as we sped out to the fishing spot my son was kind white-knuckling his seat. He’s never really been on this kind of boat and I think especially at 3:30, in the dark it was a little intimidating.

The lines were in the water before the sun was even touching the tops of the clouds.

And we enjoyed a beautiful, very red sunrise over the lake.And you know the old saying,

“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

Red Sky at morning, sailors take warning.”

Well, it’s true and accurate.

This is my husband and son reeling in a salmon in the pounding rain. We fished through three rounds of rain and thunderstorms, in varying degrees on lumpy seas. It wasn’t smooth and easy fishing and the weather definitely dampened the willingness of the fish to bite, but at the end of the morning we rode back to the dock with a half dozen awesome fish in the cooler.

And that’s when the skies cleared and sun came out. What an experience though, what memories we made! My son got to reel in the most fish (of course), and my dad took one, and I took two. My hubby helped my son and I get the tension on the rod correct.  It was especially helpful with the MASSIVE fish on the far left. That was mine and it weighed in at 19.11lbs. For those wondering, no, I never plan to let anyone ever forget this MASSIVE fish.

I mean… this is the fillet that came from it with my hand for scale.

The charter took care of all the cleaning and when we got back to my parents’ house my mom and I got them all vacuum sealed and into the freezer. All in all, we’re thinking we got maybe about 35lbs of hard-won fish to feast upon. Maybe a little more or less — I didn’t bother to weigh it.

I didn’t knit a stitch while fishing and only got in a few rounds of a super secret project after the fish was in the freezer and my parents’ lawn was mowed. What can I say? Some days the adventures of Knitting Sarah just don’t involve knitting or spinning or fiber arts at all.

And sometimes they don’t require a macro lens, but instead are measured in slightly grander scales.

The Accidental Snipe Hunt

One of the first things I did this past weekend was run to the store to buy seat covers for the new car. I had a feeling we’d be headed out on a little adventure with the new Adventuremobile on Sunday and while my husband is good at so many things, not spilling coffee in the car is not one of them. With lighter colored seats in this car, I didn’t want to tempt fate. Seat covers deployed, I felt confident that we were ready for adventure.

And adventure we did.

Just about a 35 minute drive south of us lies the Sandhill State Wildlife Area. We’d visited once before about a month ago, but it was cold and raining and the auto tour was not open yet as it was only mid-March and it opens later in April. The move was not kind to my bad hip and I’m trying to recover slowly and carefully so as not to do any lasting damage, so the auto tour with a few little short hikes was just perfect.

We were greeted almost immediately by one of my favorite birds to see this time of year (truth be told that covers most migratory birds in spring)…

An Eastern Towhee, singing away. His  song of “Drink-your-tea!” never, ever gets old.

The wide open marsh & many flowages were those gorgeous brilliant blues and straw-y yellow-tans that I adore. If you look closely, you can pick out a Great Egret in this photo, too.

Moose liked the view, as well.He really likes the windows in the Adventuremobile because he can see out of them more easily. Our daughter, still on the tiny side, agrees with him on that point.

We did some rambling about in the woods…

And unfortunately collected a few ticks each, but thankfully we got them all removed without incident. We had one child very freaked out by them and after talking it through we discovered our boy was under the impression that a tick bite would be fatal. We’ve since clarified the implications of a tick bite and we’re all much more relaxed now.

We saw some meadow foxtail…And more than a few deer, this one having a little drink…

And a sleeping porcupine.

The wildlife photos are all done by Mr Knitting Sarah — isn’t he awesome at them?!

We climbed a couple towers built to allow for a bigger horizon, allowing you to really take-in the grand vistas of a prairie and marsh…

The steps were very steep, but the views were grand.

We even spotted this very large snapping turtle from one of the towers!

From another tower, we spent at least a half hour viewing and calling out birds as our youngest checked them off our bird list.

She’s a master at the job and it keeps her fantastically engaged.

We also spent way too long trying to identify an unknown creature. We couldn’t see anything, but we could hear it calling back and forth across the prairie. Little did we know we were on our own personal snipe hunt! While a snipe hunt is most widely known as a practical joke, we found out the hard way that trying to figure out where a snipe is calling from in a brush-filled grassland (and what the heck it is if you aren’t familiar with the sound) is no joke at all. We never actually saw these birds, but we heard them making their signature weird and eery noise with their tail-feathers plenty. About an hour after departing, we finally figured out what we’d been hearing. What a fun mystery, though!

After a long morning, we returned home for lunch, a few minor chores, and a trip to a playground for the kids. I spent a little time with my handspun Find Your Fade Shawl again.I’m almost ready to join my 5th color. I’m running a little short on yardage with this skein (again), so there’s been a bit of ripping and re-knitting in order to make sure I use the most of each handspun skein I can while blending it the optimum number of times for a good transition between colors. I think I’ve got it now, but as of this photo I need to rip back a half of a row, join the new color one repeat early and then carry on. I’m so nervous and excited to see it all come together.

I think it’s fair to say our weekend was pretty productive and full of new beauty and excellent family time. I hope each of you had a great weekend, too!

Oh, and for those wondering, yes, Mr Knitting Sarah did spill coffee in the Adventuremobile (although mostly just on himself). He also made a half-hearted attempt to create a crude version of the Bellagio fountains in our front yard while trying out a plumbing fix. But that’s a long story for another day.

To The Glen Again

I must confess something to you.

The unseasonably warm temperatures have been a bit of a downer here at Chez Knitting Sarah. Our entire family loves winter and this longest autumn ever has been wearing on us. As we watch and listen to others celebrate the mild weather, I realize this makes us very odd ducks. There’s a tiny part of me that is a little relieved that the stress on our soon-to-be-replaced 30-year-old furnace has been minimal, but nonetheless we’re longing for snow and cold that bites at our noses & takes our breath away.

It was with this in our hearts that we made the little trek to Parfrey’s Glen. This is a small, incredibly beautiful natural area that I’ve talked about at least 2 or 3 times before here.  Over the years it’s become too crowded for out tastes in the summer, but we can usually manage to find a good day in spring or fall when it’s quiet and not congested. We thought a Wednesday in mid-November might be just right and I’m delighted to say we were right as we only ran into a half dozen other souls on the trail this time around.

This place is a great geology lesson for the kids and — at least for me — a great, humbling reminder that Earth is a big, amazing place.

img_5244From the smallest details in the rocks…

img_5249To the remnants of an ancient sea, no matter where you choose to focus your attention it is an awe-inspiring spot.

The kids, well, they love balancing on downed trees…

img_5182And the excitement of the many stream crossings…

img_5245And my husband and I love to see them having so much fun and chuckling at the inevitable exclamation when someone slips and winds up a little in the drink…

img_5246And just the quiet and the stillness of it all.

We had a little picnic at the end of the trail…

img_5239Right here in this magical spot.

And when I’d finished my lunch and was waiting for everyone else…

img_5234I was reminded that the spindle is a very, very special tool.

We hiked out way out…

And at the insistence of our youngest made a stop at the Blue Spoon Cafe for some gelato. Who can refuse ice cream after a hike? We made a quick stop at Wollersheim Winery for a couple special bottles of wine and then headed home.

It was one of those days that is a great reminder of how lucky we are. That we have both the time and money to take these little day trips, to be awed by the world around us, and to play together in the quiet of the glen again — it’s a gift that not everyone in this world enjoys. I look back and I’m humbled and thankful for the beautiful day, for the awesome place, and for our time with each other. It’s this simple perspective that propels me forward and inspires me every day.

Random Happenings

There’s been a whole lot of ‘doing’ and not a lot of writing this week and, you know, while it feels really strange as the words pile up in my head it’s been very good on the productivity front. Today, I thought I’d go kind of casual here in sharing what’s been going on behind the scenes and share some photos and random happenings in list form.

1.Our family went on a really lovely hike on one of our favorite local trails.

img_3353We like to go here this time of year because if we time it just right we see loads of Bobolinks which I love. It’s also the last trail Mr. Knitting Sarah & I hiked before the birth of our oldest, who turns 11 next week.

2. While on this hike, we discovered that for the 12 years we’ve been coming to this trail my husband has been pointing out the call of Grasshopper Sparrows to me and I’ve been hearing just “grasshoppers.” It suddenly made a lot sense why I wasn’t as impressed as I probably could have been all these years when my hubby mentioned them.

3. Over the past month we’ve been doing a massive decluttering/deep clean of our house. It’s meant a couple hours almost every day of cleaning, many trips to Goodwill to make donations, and some tough choices, but it’s been a full family effort and that effort is really, really, really paying off. Our tiny house is feeling much bigger and easier to manage. I’d show you before and after photos, but we actually haven’t stopped to document any of it. We’ve all just been in true nose to the grindstone mode and you’ll have to take my word for that.

4. Part of my end of this decluttering effort has been an on-going yarn destash on Ravelry. The yarn is all very lovely and I’m sure I’d eventually get to it, but it’s just time for me to reclaim some space and send some of the yarn to new homes. Please feel free to check out the destash page — as of today it contains a wide range of commercial yarns as well as a few of my select handspun yarns.

img_3377

5. I’ve been doing a lot of plying.img_3372-2This photo shows a skein that’s now finished and I’m finally on my last plying job for the Akerworks Flat Pack Lazy Kate Test. The test officially concluded just after I started the last bit of plying, so I timed it pretty well. I’ll tell you more about my experience with this awesome Kate soon, but for now you can check them out on the Akerworks website as they are now officially up for sale.

6. I helped launch the sign-ups for Team Three Waters Farm for the Tour de Fleece.

img_3352

As you probably remember, I’m a little bananas for the Tour de Fleece so this is pretty exciting for me. It’ll soon be time to start picking my spins for this year and setting some goals. The shop currently is taking pre-orders for the Official 2016 Tour de Fleece colorway, Summer Jubilee…

Pre-Order Tour de Fleece Colorway, Superwash Merino/ Nylon Roving (Top) - Handpainted Spinning or Felting Fiber, Summer Jubilee

It’s not a requirement to participate on the team, but it is available on 3 different bases and, really, isn’t it fantastic?! If you’re a spinner and have some Three Waters Farm fiber in your stash (or feel like picking some up — the shop is always full of glorious temptation), I hope you’ll join us!

7.  I did some poolside knitting while the kiddos did some serious swimming.img_3312Generally speaking, I swim laps for a certain amount of time and then I earn my knitting/watching the kiddos time. It’s a good deal all around.

8. I’ve been using this Andean Plying Tool I picked up from Karen of Gift of Grace Handspun.

img_3301I love using an Andean Plying Bracelet to use every last bit of my singles yarn, but I always wound it too tight on my hand and, you know, started to cut off circulation to my middle finger (it was not great). I’m still getting the hang of it, but already this tool helps so much!

9. Moose was his usual ridiculous self.img_3370

10. After finishing a couple projects, I started something new on my needles.img_3351-1This is Joji Locatelli’s new Broken Wings shawl using Be Sweet Skinny Wool. The combination, in a word, is divine.

I hope your Friday is full of random beauty & awesomeness!

While I Was Away

Last week was technically a vacation week for my family. We knew it was going to be a little abnormal for us because of work responsibilities, but we were determined to make the best of it. The first half of the week we relaxed a little and did our first bird watching walk of the spring migration. We stayed close to home and tallied 56 species of birds, saw a mink, and met up with this little guy, too.

img_2844My girls loves to handle snakes. Here she was literally cooing ‘Easy there, little fella’ to this guy. I love it.

For those wondering, this is what the Marsh looks like these days.

img_2835 It’ll green up quickly from here on out, but this wide open landscape really never gets old to me.

Around mid-week, we headed up toward my parents’ house for a visit. They live in the country — or if you ask my son, ‘the wilderness’ — so it’s a nice spot to enjoy some peace and quiet where the kiddos can run and set off fireworks and climb on my dad’s tractors.

img_2905I don’t know that I’ve seen this kid much happier!

We took part of one day and got everyone up to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary for a nice walk before lunch. On the way out from lunch, my hubby almost stepped on a poor little Brown Creeper that had a apparently collided with the door. Being in a pretty urban spot and only a couple miles from Bay Beach, we opted to drive him back to the sanctuary where he could recover properly and have better odds at survival.

This is the little guy in my hubby’s hand during his ride in the car. He only got loose once while I was driving — something I would not recommend, especially if you’re like me and not a big fan of things flapping unpredictably by your head normally, let alone while driving in a city with which you aren’t familiar. Does this kind of thing even happen to other people? I wonder. In any case, the kids ran in with the hubby to drop him at the rescue desk & named him ‘Lucky.’ Lucky we found him, lucky he was perking up so quickly, and — according to my daughter — lucky that he’d probably be the only Brown Creeper that would be able to tell his friends about the time he got to take a car ride.

That night we enjoyed a chilly campfire.

img_2914An event that, of course, involved some knitting. A day or two earlier, I treated myself to casting-on socks with my Light in the Trees handspun.  I knew it would be the perfect travel project, so I just couldn’t resist. Instead of going the Toe-Up route I originally considered, I opted to use a leftover brown I had for the cuff, heel & toe so they’d be a bit sturdier and so I wouldn’t sweat the yardage going Top-Down which I tend to prefer.

The mister and I even took a day to ourselves. The kiddos stayed with Grandma & Grandpa — Grandpa kindly helped each kid build a birdfeeder even! — while we hiked and hiked and hiked in the beautiful weather. I took no photos, but our first stop was Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve. I have to share, though, because it had some lovely trails and because we must have been close to the Garter Snake emergence because there were a lot of snakes. Like, in the right spots you’d take a step and you’d stir up a half dozen snakes. It was incredible! I also glimpsed my first Kinglet of the year which was a treat – such cute little birds!

We enjoyed a simple & delicious picnic overlooking Green Bay – the body of water, not the city – & returned to hike some of the deeper trails at Bay Beach. There we saw Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers and even got great looks at a Pileated Woodpecker. One of my favorite birds, I rarely manage to see it when it isn’t flying away from me so it was extra special.

 I also almost stepped on this guy.

img_2918He was easily the size of my palm. Ribbit! Oh, it is definitely springing around these parts!

I went on to finish up my first handspun sock…

img_2920And I started the second on the way home…

img_2922I did take my wheel and got to spend some time with my Birds in Holly spin. We were busy, though, so it didn’t get a ton of attention until we got home yesterday.

img_2927Now I’m a little over halfway through the second half of the fiber. It’s a really beautiful colorway & I do love Rambouillet fiber.

All in all, we had a lovely little break and it was nice to be away even if it was just a few days. As always, though, we’re happy to be home.

img_2925Moose is sticking close-by though, just in case we decide to take off again.

X Marks the Spot

My family is very seasonally driven. Not unlike the Canada Geese who migrate in their long undulating Vs, we have certain places where we head certain times of year. Sometimes it’s to get a glimpse of a newly arrived migrant, sometimes it’s to take advantage of a breezy spot on a hot day, and sometimes it’s to see eagles fishing in between ice flows below a dam. And then there are times when it’s to see a stream cutting through its gorge during spring runoff. It’s for this very reason that Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is becoming an annual event for us — I even wrote about it here almost exactly a year ago.

This year, it was a little less snow and a little more mud.

img_2512We captured video last year of our girl struggling on a trail and it’s become the quintessential video of her. In it, with boots so heavy with mud that they kept falling off, she digs in and makes her way up a steep hill equal parts frustrated with us for not helping her more and determined to make it herself. We play it back for her sometimes when she’s telling us ‘she can’t’ to remind her that ‘she can’ — she’s awfully strong and tenacious.

This year, she bee-lined for the same spot and even though it was muddier, she tamed that trail like no one’s business. On the way up it was slick, but she found a small, sturdy stick to use kind of like one would use an ice ax when ice climbing, but for mud.

img_2509As a mum, my first thought was that she’d fall on it and poke out her eye, but she handled it — and herself — with strength and confidence and agility. She trekked up and down that same trail not once, but three times.

img_2500And she was Darn Proud.

While I waited at the head of the trail, I snapped the requisite Big Blue photo…

img_2498I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my soul is made of Big Water.

We made our way down to the beach and had a picnic. The weather was perfect for it. Warm, but not hot. Breezy, but not a gale. Perfect. Then we played for a good long while.

img_2526I combed the beach for good skipping stones…

img_2517And found one that reminded me an awful lot of friends on Martha’s Vineyard.

I built a cairn.

img_2521Because when there are rocks, it’s what I do.

img_2530And I skipped stones & we played ‘Battleship’ (where you toss driftwood into the water and then try to hit it with a rock) until my arms were sore.

As we walked back to the car, I noticed something in the sky…

img_2502And I thought to myself that sometimes X does mark the spot.

With sore arms, muddy boots, and smiles, we made our way home.

The next day, inspired & feeling like I should follow the lead of my brave daughter, I decided to finally change the footman connectors on my spinning wheel.

img_2488They were original to the wheel and — like the drive bands for Lendrums — the plastic dries out and gets stiff. I’d been worried I’d mess it up the repair, but I’m happy to report the wheel is spinning like new again and it feels incredible. Sometimes you do just have to trust yourself, be brave, and go for it.

Elated with the excellent feel of my wheel, I’ve been spinning like a madwoman.

img_2533And last night I finished up the second braid of my current spin. One more to go and then I’ll be plying. The combination of my tuned up wheel & my impatience to see this finished project has really had me spinning away. I’ve definitely been stealing all the spare moments I have for it. After finishing up braid #2, I even stayed up late last night to prep the last braid of fiber so I’d be ready to start spinning asap.

img_2534Yes, indeed. I think sometimes X does mark the spot.