Farewell, Quietude

It’s been a longer than normal lapse between posts here. Truth be told, there’s just been a lot happening here. We reached our necessary hours for our homeschool and are marching toward wrapping up our main subjects. I joined a local Rotary club in January and I’ve been helping to organize a fundraiser event at the end of this month. We’re planning and organizing an upcoming vacation. We’ve been attending puppy manners classes with the Bear and working hard to drive home good manners in him as he’s topped 70lbs at his ripe old age of 5.5 months (we’re being told he may not reach full-size until 18months). And a bunch of other things are in the works. Suffice to say, we’ve had a lot of things in motion at the same time and it’s left me with little extra energy.

Perhaps as significant has been that we’ve started to see a real shift toward spring. Granted you wouldn’t know it today as we awoke to 6 or 8″ of fresh snow yesterday and then it rained ice all day. Walking the dog and shoveling was sort of like what I would imagine microdermabrasion to be like, but less pleasant. Alas, spring is springing even if there is currently fresh snow on the ground. The birds are coming back and singing their hearts out. And while I love the birds and all the sounds of nature and the life that is present in summer, there is always a part of me that feels wildly overwhelmed this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, it has been a long winter here and I’m ready for the warmth of the sun, the birds singing me awake each morning, and being able to just go out and enjoy the fresh air without my protective layers of wool and down. As an introvert through and through, though, I am always a little sad when the quiet respite of winter and all its solitude is ending for the season and a little overwhelmed by the constant busy-ness of spring. But I digress.

As a family, we have managed to enjoy some fresh air and, of course, the blues and neutrals of this time of year are beautiful.

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Even if the wind off the icy water is still awfully brisk.

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And this guy is pretty happy with the change in the weather. He is not a huge fan of the bitter cold or the deep snow, so we will often let him stay home if it’s not weather he’ll enjoy, but he loves the cool days where he can get a good hike in.img_6606We’ve been taking Bear out whenever we can, too. With his heavy coat he is much more of a lover of winter and we’ve been taking advantage of that and exposing him to new a lot of new experiences while the trails are still relatively people-free. We’ve been working through a fear stage with him — basically if he’s not familiar with something, he is afraid and barks at it. We’re told it’s very normal at his age and thanks to some guidance in our manners class and a whole lot of time and patience, he’s been showing remarkable improvement and is growing in confidence daily.

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All that work is pretty exhausting for li’l Bear though.

On one of our hikes, we spotted this guy….

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Oh, how I do love a good porcupine sighting!

And on another…

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Moose looked particularly stoic and handsome.

And after one very rainy walk…

Bear did a pretty epic impersonation of Puss in Boots. He wound up getting a bath after this that he did not like at all, but upon his release from the bathroom, he then got wildly excited when Moose jumped in the tub and requested a bath for himself. I was soaked and ready for a nap after that.

 I’ve still found time for some knitting and I’ve been wholly addicted to my latest sweater knit, Tanis Lavallee’s French Braid Cardigan.

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Usually I steer clear of variegated yarn with cables, but I had a feeling this one would be all right.

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And I adore it. I mean, just look at that main cable! The yarn is also a Tanis Fiber Arts creation, their Pure Wash Worsted in the Driftwood colorway. I bought it a while back on a whim during one of their Boxing Day sales and I am really overly excited about the fact that it is working so well with this pattern. The construction is unique in that you are working the front panel right along with the rest of the sweater. It’s the first knit in a long time that I will actually cut time out of my spinning for the pure joy of working on it. 57650553472__a8880bf4-358c-4e93-8de4-05fe07760452

I even snuck a glorious 30minutes of this with the sweater and my boys one morning when Mr. Knitting Sarah had to work early this week. It was incredible.

I have been spinning as well. One project is under wraps as it’s a test spin to check out a colorway and I’m nearly done with it. It involves some attempts to take some video while I spin, so it’s been touch and go time-wise as I work with moody lighting situations. My other main project has been spinning singles for the chain plying Skill Builder in the Three Waters Farm group and I just finished them up last night!

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I have to double check, but I’m fairly certain this is the March TWF Top of the Month Club colorway, Spring Loves Caprice. I’m very much looking forward to plying this soon!

We had a bit of a rough night last night as poor Bear had an upset stomach, so he and I were up every couple hours to make a trip outside. Poor guy! We are both pretty tuckered and I’m hoping for a quiet weekend ahead with some relaxing walks, easy on the chores, and with a fair bit of relaxation. I’m not sure, frankly, if it would be better just to get out there and embrace the spring time hubbub in a baptism of fire or if easing my way into it is better. Whatever the case, time and seasons and all the changes that are coming will keep on coming. I will do my best to meet them, to bid a graceful farewell to the quietude of winter and the embrace all that is on the horizon. Thankfully, I’ve got a killer knit and some colorful spins to help ease me through the transition.

 

Three Three-Plies

March’s skill builder skill of choice of the Three Waters Farm Skill Builder SAL was the traditional 3-ply. Like many, I’ve not spun a ton of traditional 3-ply yarns in my day. When it comes to yardage, traditional 3-plies tend to be fiber hogs. You can get a lot more yardage from a 2-ply. Chain plying allows you to keep colors pure a little easier as well as get a yarn that closely emulates that signature round-ness of a traditional 3-ply. But it’s still not a traditional 3-ply and there’s something inherently wonderful about a traditional 3-ply.

Traditional 3-ply yarns are beautifully round.  With hand-dyed yarn you have what seems like infinite options for color play. You also have strength and durability perfectly suited for sock knitting or any hard-wearing item you want to create. For this month’s challenge I wanted to embrace this technique and really explore the possibilities, at least the tip of the iceberg on this type of yarn.

My first spin of the month is the Calendar Colorway for Three Waters Farm, Common ground on Falkland.

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I split into a 1:3:6 fractal.

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I’m not usually quite so deliberate when I break my fiber up, so this spin was awfully fun for me and I love the results. I am very inspired to do some more deliberate experiments with how I break my fiber up.

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I was plying with my big wheel, my 30″ Schacht Reeves, which isn’t usually what I choose for plying just because I prefer to take my time, but I knew I wanted to get this yarn to have a fairly high twist so it was a good choice for this particular project.

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I can’t say enough good things about the Falkland base, too. It spins into such a soft, silky yarn — it’s actually hard to believe it’s 100% wool because in my hands it almost feels like a silk blend.

My second spin was Tranquil Gleam on a BFL/Nylon base 80/20 (it’s not currently available on the BFL/Nylon base, but it is available on the Polwarth/Silk 60/40 base currently). Unfortunately when I spun this I didn’t really spin with a plan because I was distracted by the fact that it was a BEAUTIFUL spin.

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I mean, absolutely gorgeous to the point that I may have to get it to try on the 60/40 Polwarth/Silk because I can’t even imagine how insanely amazing that would be.

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I kind of wish I had enough for socks with this, but unfortunately I think the fiber hog strikes again with this 4oz skein and I’ll have to shoot for a hat. I don’t think I can complain about that though.

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However it gets used, it’ll be stunning.

And last, but certainly not least, a little combination spin! A while back I noticed that I thought the TWF colorways April Showers and Wood & Concrete would be pretty cool used together.

I’d always thought I’d ply them together or spin them separately and then weave them together. Then someone in the TWF Ravelry Group Skill Builder Thread mentioned spinning a 3-ply gradient with 2 colorways. If April Showers is “A” and Wood & Concrete is “C”, she created 4 skeins which in turn created one long gradient that were set like this:

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Instead of spinning 4 different skeins, I opted to attempt to create 2 matching gradient skeins. I’d need 24 pieces total, so I broke each 4oz braid into 12 equal(ish) pieces. First, I divided them into their 3 color repeats and then each repeat into 4 equal(ish) pieces. Doing this for both colorways, I got 24 pieces, 12 from April Showers and 12 from Wood & Concrete. And while I’ve just gotten through one skein so far, this is the plan:

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With the idea that the finished skeins would knit in that same, gradient style as her 4 consecutive skeins, from end to end:

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The resulting skein…

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Oh my goodness!!!

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Beyond my wildest dreams! I am currently working on skein #2 of this gradient, but I am hoping to have a chance to figure out yardage on this beauty and then cast on some socks with it as soon as possible. Even if I only have enough yarn for shorties, I think this is going to have to be toe-up socks so I can see the full grandness of what this yarn will be.

I’ve certainly learned to appreciate and love the versatility of the traditional 3-ply yarn this month and I’m sure I’ll be inclined to spin more of them now that I’ve spent some time experimenting with them. For now, though I’ve got that second skein to finish and then it’ll be on to chain plying, the skill builder technique for April!

Dispatch from Early Spring

I may be a couple of days early, but it is definitely the early days of spring here. Our record-breaking snows of the last couple of months have started receding at an alarming pace — those of you downstream, be prepared! — and what was thigh and waist deep snow a week ago now is ankle deep or less. In fact, for the first time in quite a while, I saw a couple patches of actual ground in my backyard last night.  The birds have erupted in song and we’ve had our first Brown-Headed Cowbirds and Grackles of the year visiting our house. I even caught a glimpse of a Robin flying over our yard yesterday. Yes, it seems spring is on the way.

As it goes in these parts, however, winter to spring is not a smooth transition. Worries of too much snow on our roof have morphed into dealing with a sump pump pipe that is still frozen. While we did not have any issues with damage or flooding in our basement, I did spend a fair bit of time last week preventatively hauling water out of our sump well in 10 gallon Shop-Vac loads (thank goodness there were no stairs involved!) until we were able to rig an outdoor waterfall pump to do the heavy lifting for us until we can give the system enough time to fully thaw. It’ll be a while before we know the fate of the actual sump pump or what the blockage is, but we are hopeful it’s just a matter of letting things thaw out. In the grand scheme of things, I’m thankful that this was just an inconvenience and that we were dealing with the issues before there was actually damage to anything and that now I just have to roll the hose out and plug in the pump. You do what you have to do, but I’m happy to not have to take those multiple trips lifting 10 gallons of water (google tells me that’s about 85 lbs) anymore!

While we awake to the flurry of spring and deal with all that entails, I’ve of course caught the spring cleaning bug as well. No, I’ve not been watching Marie Kondo on Netflix (I read the book when it came out) like the rest of the world. I’m not sure if it’s normal or not, but every year I actually enjoy spring cleaning. There is something about the seasonal change that inspires a fresh, clean start in me. We’ve been in our “new” home almost 2 years now and I’ve been making some minor adjustments in functionality — a broom rack in one closet, a couple hooks in another — and trying to formulate better ways to make tidying more accessible and easier to do regularly. I’ve just, I’ve got a hankering to make things around here a bit more efficient, I suppose you could say. I don’t anticipate this lasting long, so I’m going to ride the wave and enjoy the benefits of it while I can!

But it’s not been all work and fighting the elements and tidying up around here. There has been time for play. The footing on the rotten snow is terrible for hiking, but we’ve been going out anyways. Bear likes to protest a little on the front end as he’s still not very happy about riding in the car. When we start to suit up and ask him if he wants to go on an adventure, he bolts for his crate and does this.

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Moose, for those who might not be aware, has always loved going along, no matter what we’re doing. If he could open doors, Moose would be the first one in the car every time. It’s definitely new for us to have to convince a pup to go.  Isn’t that just the case with siblings though? What one loves, the other loathes. C’est la vie!

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In any case, once we’re out of the car, Mr. Bear is a happy fellow and is proving almost as good of a trail dog as his big brother. I saw “big” with a grain of salt as this is my hand and Bear’s paw print.

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While it’s true that Bear is much fluffier so size comparisons are deceptive with these two, they are growing ever closer in size.

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They are both very happy good boys though.ee2ab9b8-dae4-492b-aa15-fd3742b8b750

And they are enjoying the last hurrahs of winter, to be sure.

When not tearing up the trails wit us, they are proving worthy spinning and knitting supervisors.

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And I’ve been working on a few things in my spare time as well.

This morning I turned the heel on sock #2 of a new pair of socks for Mr. KS.

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I’m going to try to work on this over morning coffee — I think that’s the best recipe for getting it finished in a timely manner.

I also started a new sweater!

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It is Tanis Lavallee’s French Braid Cardigan. It’s an interesting construction so far — this is actually the collar which you cast-on with a provisional cast-on, work one direction and then go back to the cast-on and work the other direction so you have live stitches on both ends. My center pick-up is a little messy, but I think it’ll block right on for me. In any case, I’m about to pick-up stitches and begin the actual raglan part of the sweater. So far, I’m really enjoying this one.

I’ve also got 2 spinning projects ready to ply!

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This is Tranquil Gleam on a BFL + Nylon base.

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And this is Common Ground on Falkland, both from Three Waters Farm and both destined to be traditional 3-plies for the Skill Builder SAL happening over in the group. I’m hoping to start plying later today as I just pulled fiber out of my stash for my next traditional 3-ply spin! I was totally inspired by a member in the group to spin a gradient and I’ve got just the perfect two colorways with which to experiment!

And with this dispatch, this little update from the wee moments of spring, I’m off! I’ve got things to tidy, dogs to play with, yarn to spin, and socks & sweaters to knit! I hope that spring is springing where you are and you are feeling inspired today, too!

Ply Twist Takes Center Stage

This month’s Skill Builder challenge in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry group was focused on 2-ply yarns. I had the pleasure of spinning with their February Calendar Colorway, East Window on their Organic Polwarth/Mulberry Silk 80/20 base.

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Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

Due to travel and sickness in my house, I’m a bit behind in sharing it, but better late than never, right?!

As I shared earlier, I always take the time to pre-draft this particular base. I just find it spins a little easier that way. If you’ve got a cultivated silk (also called “mulberry silk”) spin on the horizon, you can check out this video I shared for how I prep my fiber.

Since the goal was a two ply, I first split the fiber into its three color repeats. And then each of those 3 repeats I split in 2, creating 6 more or less even pieces. The first 3 pieces I spun as is, end to end.img_5897

For the second 3 pieces, I broke each piece into 2, 3, or 4 pieces (or more!). I like randomness in my barberpoling skeins, so I find purposely breaking the fiber into uneven pieces and in different ways helps with that. I spun both portions each onto their own bobbin.

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You can see how different the color repeats are even in this photo!

 I had hoped to create a video of how I ply my 2-ply yarns because I think there’s no other type of yarn where ply twist quite takes center stage, but with a house full of sick family, including my husband who was diagnosed with pneumonia this week, it just didn’t happen. I do plan to make a video of this though at some time in the near future though and I’ll be sure to share it here when that happens. I find that because the idea of a 2-ply yarn is so basic, it is often overlooked as far as instruction goes and I’d like to share how I find the amount of ply twist that I like to work with.

While we wait for me to get a video together, though, I can share a couple photos.

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This is the amount of ply twist I usually look for while I’m plying a 2-ply yarn when the yarn is under tension, but not yet up on the wheel.

img_6115When it’s wound up onto the bobbin…

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And without tension, but still on the wheel. I used to subscribe to the idea that a “balanced” yarn is one that will lay limp and flat in this same position, but over the years I’ve landed firmly in the camp that would label those limp yarns as underplied. That’s not to say there is not a place for low twist yarns, but generally speaking I want my handspun to have some soft twist in a plyback test while plying. It just makes a better yarn. This spin is probably a smidge more ply twist than I’d call ideal. With a snap or a thwack to even out the twist after a nice bath, all that extra twist relaxes and you get this…

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It’s a finished skein with just enough ply twist to make the yarn plump and full of life & energy, but not so much to be twisting out of control.

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It’s going to make a great knitting yarn to be sure!

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I just love the colorway — from the true yellow and grey to the soft blues and oranges. And I’ve really come to love the Organic Polwarth/Mulberry Silk base, too, as it makes such a nice yarn. Today is the last day to pre-order your very own East Window on Organic Polwarth/Mulberry Silk from Three Waters Farm, so if you want to give it a whirl you still have time!

And March’s Skill Builder in the TWF Group will start tomorrow! We’ll be taking a closer look at traditional 3-ply yarns and I can’t wait to get started! Since my spinning time was limited this past month, I’m hoping to make up for some lost time at the wheel in March. The featured Calendar Colorway for March is Common Ground on Falkland and it’s available already for pre-order! It’s time to get spinning some traditional 3-ply yarns!

One, Two, Fourteen

I’m fairly certain that those of us who choose to handspin yarn for fun commonly let the spinning get away from us. No, I don’t mean any sort of comical cartoon-like spinning wheel come unhinged and rolling down the street inexplicably leaving a trail of yarn in its wake while I chase after it (although my kids absolutely wish something that exciting would be associated with my handspinning). I just mean that you get in a spinning groove and you find yourself spinning just to spin. For a long while. And the skeins of handspun yarn pile up. If you’re like me, they may even pile up to the extent that you start to forget the clever name of the colorway let alone the fiber content and dyer. If you’re like me, you’ve acquired a small box that holds the bags from the fibers you spin. If you’re like me, you inevitably find yourself rifling through said box with your fingers crossed hoping you can decipher which skein of yarn goes with what bag.

I definitely need a new system of organization. Please don’t tell Marie Kondo how bad this has gotten or the fact that my 3 clothing drawers are organized and folded neatly may be overshadowed by this shadow of failure. But let’s go there another day.

Suffice to say, I went to photograph and share my recently finished yarns and found not one or two skeins, but fourteen. Oy. Dating back to the end of last year. Oy. And I did the rifling through the plastic bags with the crossed fingers. Oy.

But, on the bright side, through the crossed-finger search I did come up with a new idea for organizing that may just manage to not step on my voracious appetite to keep spinning with minimal interruption. I suppose time will tell on that point.

For today, I’m going to quickly (or as quickly as I can) share those fourteen skeins with you with minimal commentary. I’ll be leaving out yarn weight and yardage, just because I’ve not yet gotten to logging that all in and there’s really a need here to share them and get these skeins tagged and on the shelf before I get any further behind. I’m hopeful that today you’ll forgive me and be OK looking at some pretty yarns and stand with me, fingers crossed, in hopes that the future will be slightly more organized.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some pretty handspun yarns!

Fall Foliage 8 from Three Waters Farm on the 85/15 Polwarth/Tussah base.

Maple Leaf Rag from Three Waters Farm, a simple 2-ply on the 80/20 Merino/Tussah base.

Three Waters Farm’s Firefly Dusk, a chain-ply version on the 40/40/20 Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah base.

A 2-ply Kelp on 85/15 Polwarth/Silk from Three Waters Farm.

From Nest Fiber Studio, this is Damaged Goods on Superfine Merino.

Hazelnut from Inglenook Fibers spun from battlings made of a 40/25/25/10 Corriedale/Superfine Merino/Mulberry Silk/Flax base.

From the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club, a 3-ply version of Dried Rose Petals on the 50/25/25 Merino/Bamboo/Tussah base.

Dungarees and Flannel on a 100% Mixed BFL base from Three Waters Farm.

TWF’s Summer Palette on 80/20 Merino/Tussah base.

Roasted Gold on an 85/15 Polwarth/Tussah base from TWF.

Hayride on 70/30 Mixed BFL/Silk from Nest Fiber Studio.

60/20/20 Merino/Cashmere/Silk from Three Sisters Fiber Co. (now Abacus Dyeworks) — This one either had no name or I misplaced the tag with the name (insert eyeroll here).

Chasing Deer on 100% Falkland from Nest Fiber Studio.

And last, but certainly not least…

Multifarious Ruse on 100% Finn from TWF. This one could have been any color and I’d have bought it for the name, but I’m in love with the colorway, too!

And there you have it, all 14 spins!