Fraught with Peril, Filled with Beauty

When I was a little kid in swimming lessons at the YMCA, I would run out of breath constantly because I was convinced orcas were in the pool with me, chasing me. I was absolutely sure they were always just outside my peripheral vision, poised to attack. I kept swimming, but I really never excelled at the front crawl because of it.  These days, I have learned to love swimming laps, but I’m still not great with the front crawl — there is something about that underwater view that always makes me uneasy.

When it comes to “wild water” (i.e. water that is, you know, outdoors and not a pool), I have to admit at this stage of the game that I’m afraid of water. We’re talking good, old-fashioned full-on irrational fear. I’ve always persevered to overcome this fear, or at least not be too limited by it, and I’ve had varying degrees of success. I love boats and being on the water, but there is something about that wild unknown below that still freaks me out pretty thoroughly. When I lived on the ocean during college I managed to work myself up to swimming daily and I really was pretty comfortable. I could bob around in the surf with the best of them and I came to truly love it.

Unfortunately, I’ve never really gotten over my distrust of murky water or river currents though and it shows pretty quickly when I’m in a canoe. It shows really quickly when I’m asked to get into any rivers or streams clouded by sediment. So when my husband told me last Tuesday night that instead of a day of hiking at Devil’s Lake State Parkhe instead wanted to start the day at Pewitt’s Nest there was some instant dread. And he didn’t just want to do what we did last time — where he takes the kids down Skillet Creek and I wait at the end. He wanted me to depart from my comfort zone and join them. I spent the next 16hours trying to not talk about it as much as possible knowing full well the crazy monologue in my head would ruin my hubby’s day. I mostly succeeded. Kind of.

Pewitt’s Nest, you see, is a deep gorge through which Skillet Creek flows. It is undoubtedly beautiful with its steep cliffs.

IMG_0185But to enjoy it you have to wade through this creek. Most of it isn’t too bad, especially if, like us, you don’t plan to go all the way down the creek to the trailhead. The hike is primarily through water that is only shin deep and the bottom has decent footing for most of the way with either sandstone or a sandy bottom. There is one spot, however, that is like this…

Cue the panic.

My hubby delivered the kids down at a safe spot and then came back for me. What ensued was pretty embarrassing. As soon as my feet disappeared into the silty water and then the water came up to my knees I started to hyperventilate. Involuntary tears flowed freely. My husband gave me his walking stick in addition to my regular walking stick to give me more security and he walked right beside me, most likely wondering how it came to be that he married a woman who is a good swimmer, but is terrified of knee-deep water. It was not great. I kept on, though, and as we neared the spot where the kids were I used the brim of my hat to hide my face while I cleaned up a bit, not wanting to add to my son’s already present low-level distrust of the situation. My daughter & Moose had no such qualms, thankfully, only glee.

Securely in a spot where we were far enough from the trail and most of the people, we were able to hang out and enjoy the scenery. We relaxed for a while and I was able to calm down and enjoy where I was.

IMG_0196I examined the ferns, inexplicably growing from the…

IMG_0194Insanely green walls of the gorge.

IMG_0193And the reflection of the creek on the sandstone formations high above was definitely a sight to see.

You would think the trip out would have been easier than heading in and I guess in a way it was. Sort of. I tried to focus on how pretty this place was.

IMG_0195The hyperventilating recurred, but I managed to hold back most of the tears. That’s improvement, I think. Sort of. As if to point out my ridiculousness, while I gasped for breath in the final leg of the hike my daughter doggie paddled happily next to the dog in the thigh-deep water. Of course, after all the fuss, it’s not lost on me that I made it out without tripping and falling in. No rogue orcas attacked. In fact, my shorts barely even got wet.

Having narrowly escaped the monsters of the deep in Skillet Creek, we headed to Devil’s Lake where we enjoyed our picnic. After which the kids and Mr Knitting Sarah swam in the lake, Moose took a load off, and I clicked away on my Rose City Rollers in my July Summer Sock Club Yarn from Feel Good Yarn Co.

IMG_0190A very busy, dog-friendly park, we were having a nice relaxing time when a well-meaning dad tried to let his little girl be in charge of holding the leash of their overly-friendly pitbull. With me in my camp chair and directly at face level with the animal, the dog lunged toward me so I quickly dropped my knitting to grab Moose who was a short tie-out. I was attempting to prevent these two creatures from meeting right in my face — even though the pitbull appeared very friendly, Moose can be very enthusiastic with new doggie friends and there was no way that I was not about to be creamed. At the last moment with the dog about a foot away, the dad grabbed to pitbull and we avoided incident, but in the fast-moving & crazy moment I managed to impale myself in the thigh with one of my US size 1 knitting needles.  I have never stabbed myself (or anyone else for that matter) with a knitting needle before and I can now attest to the fact that it does in fact hurt a fair bit and it’s suprisingly easy to make yourself bleed. Thankfully, I carry bandaids and a small first-aid kit with me at all times, so I was able to bandage myself up so I didn’t bleed all over my skirt on the ride home.

Sipping a much-deserved iced coffee, I was able to knit on my socks all the way home. I finished up the day by casting-off my Rose City Rollers.

IMG_0198(I’ll get some FO photos in proper light soon.)

Fraught with peril, filled with beauty, and complete with  a little blood loss, a few tears, and a lot of smiles and laughs, my little family made it home happy and tired from our very full day. This is what summer days are all about.

A Forest, A Lake, A Spindle

We headed out of town on Tuesday as Mr Knitting Sarah had some meetings located conveniently close to where my parents live. It’s always nice to save a little on hotel costs and I think he likes coming home to family instead of an empty hotel room on long days of meetings like that. I had decided to leave my wheel at home and just take my Turkish spindle so it was a mad dash to wrap up the super bright singles I was spinning up on my wheel, but I managed to get them done so they could rest while we were away.

IMG_0073

They are going to make one bright/intense/vibrant skein of yarn one day soon!

On the way up, we stopped at a neat little campground/park just a short distance from where I grew up. Hard to believe I’d never visited before as it’s such a pretty little spot.

IMG_0079Complete with a little river and falls in which you can play.

I’m not sure who was happier, my girl…

IMG_0083or my Moose…

IMG_0104I lingered a bit in the woods hoping to see a snake, but was treated instead to a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. I love that flash of yellow on their tails and their distinct whistle-like call. It’s always amazing how restorative a walk through nature can be, calming the soul and quieting all the ‘noise’ that exists in the world.

My dad’s birthday just happens to be Saturday so we were able to celebrate with him, too, which was nice. I upheld the tradition of mowing the lawn for my parents which I like to do — it’s nice to give back and lighten their load when I can. My son and I were also spoiled with two days fishing with my dad on his boat. On day 1 we caught just a couple fish — we got a later start and it got hot in the sun pretty fast and not a whole lot was biting. The second day was beautiful though. We got an early start and enjoyed cooler temps, a light breeze, and a pretty little lake all to ourselves.

IMG_0116We had the pleasure of hearing loads of Sandhill Cranes greet the morning in the distance, watching what I think were a pair of Caspian terns fishing — so impressive!, and a close fly-by by a very beautiful Kingfisher.

Of course there were also fish. I’ve mentioned here before that our son is really inspired by Jeremy Wade & his show River Monsters. We like to tease that we would be the perfect hosts for a show the complete opposite of Jeremy Wade’s River Monsters. We refer to our little fishing trips as episodes of River Midgets and joke — often in horrible British accents — about how we “try” to catch the smallest fish possible.

IMG_0114While it’s true that we’ve caught some decent sized bass from time to time, the Pumpkinseed in this photo is pretty average for us if not a little big. You can’t tell from the photo, but these guys are actually really beautiful with this crazy light teal coloring on them. My son doesn’t care as long as he’s catching something and my dad & I are pretty happy as long as the boy is happy. It’s fun to catch, but mostly we’re happy to be together, on the boat, and with a hook in the water. Catching fish is just a bonus.

In the moments I wasn’t fishing or mowing or visiting, I finished up the mohair singles on my Turkish spindle.

IMG_0100-0I knew I wanted to go with a simple 2-ply for these 2oz, but I wasn’t sure how exactly to actually do the plying. I read a few horror stories online about the ‘turtle’ (the little ball of yarn you make when you use a Turkish spindle) turning into a giant disastrous knot when you try to ply from the inside & outside of it, so I had planned to wind it into a enter-pull ball. But… at the last minute I decided to just give it a try.

IMG_0121And it’s working fine! There have been a few snarls and less than perfect moments, but all in all it’s not too bad and definitely not a horror story. My plying may leave a little something to be desired, but for my first time I think it’s going pretty darn well.

Only a couple days remain in the Tour de Fleece, so I think I’ll be squeezing in one last quick spin before plying my brights and then it’ll be a quick dash to finish up my July shorties for the Summer Sock KAL. What a good mix of taking things slowly and getting things done July has been — here’s hoping August brings more of the same!

Loads of Great Things

Well, we spent a very harmonious morning back at the water’s edge yesterday with much better results. I managed to reel in this monster catch…

IMG_9171As a special treat, I even broke out my very best Jeremy Wade impression for my family as I narrated the unhooking, photographing, and release of this true 4 or 5inch lake monster. I’m pretty sure said impression comes out more like a cross between Jeremy Wade and Arnold Schwarzenegger, so it’s probably less of a treat and more an embarrassment for my family and additional evidence that I’m pretty easily entertained.

In any case, my son was more successful.

IMG_9178He managed to reel in this 15″ smallmouth bass. None of us could really believe it because this is the biggest fish any of us have ever caught, but we were so excited for my boy who could not have been more proud. For Mr Knitting Sarah and I, it was a huge relief as we were a little worried that the kids would lose interest before we could get any results on the fishing front. So far, 2 fishing expeditions, 0 humans hooked despite two children casting, and 1 perfectly respectable fish successfully landed. I’m going to call this an early season win.

On the spinning front I also have a win to share. Two months ago I started spinning 3 batts from Spun Right Round

https://igcdn-photos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/t51.2885-15/10995077_1405636306409858_1720656856_n.jpg

And this morning, I finally finished the singles.

IMG_9216I ended up sort of kind of marling (is that a word?) these fibers together to try to get the colors really blended. There were parts of these batts that looked a little crazy together and the marling seemed to help even it all out. The finished singles almost max out a jumbo/plying bobbin on my Lendrum DT and the plan is to n-ply this bobbin in a nice round slightly crazy colorful 3-ply. I’m definitely hoping to get this skein finished in the next week as I think I’ll be getting in some new fiber to review soon. I have some summer spinning plans, too, that will include an invitation for you, but I’ll share details once I figure them out soonish.

After the troubled beginning to the leg portion of my Paper Moon socks, I’m happy to report it’s been smooth & happy sailing.

IMG_9218I’m not quite sure how tall these socks will wind up being as I went a little long in the foot to accommodate the bit of shrink that comes with knitting a cotton, but I’ll likely keep on keeping on until I start to stress about running out of yarn for the cuff. As you can see, this yarn is absolutely amazing with this pattern. I’m terribly tempted at the prospect of the hand-dyed sock yarn club for the coming summer. Remember to sign-up for the newsletter to get the news on this club, other Feel Good Yarn Company news, as well as free pattern delivered right to your inbox. Don’t forget that the FREE SHIPPING offer on orders $42 and up for SilverSpun yarn from Feel Good Yarn Company is still available, too — just enter the discount code SARAHKNITS at checkout to claim this special offer!

If just wearing these beauties isn’t motivation enough to finish, I got a little extra incentive in the mail a couple days ago…

IMG_9220-0 A stronger person would have waited and taken a picture of the seal pristine & unbroken, but you had better believe I tore right into this baby. I’ll have more on this fun club & this month’s beautiful project in the next couple of weeks as well as another fantastic giveaway for you, so keep your eyes peeled!

In addition to the short-term goodies, I’m happy to share that plans are in the works for a little bit of spinning fun this summer as well as a 2016 knitalong that I could not be more excited about if I tried. Loads of great things on my wheel, on my needles, and on the horizon, so stay tuned!