A Christmas Confession

Dear friends, I have such a confession to make.

Remember all those gifts I was knitting away on before the holiday? Well… I’m so sad to report that I pretty much wholly failed to get finished object photos of them. In the end, it was all I could do to get them dried & wrapped on time. Rather than be a pain & ask the recipients to temporarily give their gifts back so I could photograph them or — worse yet — pose with them, I just let them go.

I’m the first to admit that where this could have been a colorful & exciting post, it might be a little anticlimactic, but I wanted to share the details of my holiday knitting anyway. The projects were really lovely to work on and well received, so I want to tell you about them. Even more importantly, at the heart of everything I write about here on the blog is knitting and spinning in my honest to goodness real life. And in real life, some times you run out of time to take pretty pictures. And that’s ok.

I’ll start with the Wanderer Mukluks.

Somehow I have zero color photos of these (I’m so sorry!), so you will have to trust me when I say that they were earthy and gorgeous in color. I knit them in a very light brown-grey and a deep chocolate brown. For those interested in the specifics, I used Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in the Echo & Chocolate colorways that I purchased from Eat. Sleep. Knit. I picked this yarn largely because it is machine washable and thus care is easy as I knew my sister-in-law would appreciate it. I actually machine washed and dried them prior to giving them away  and the wash & dry made them even softer than they were originally. I will definitely keep this pattern & yarn in mind for future projects.

Next was Fractal Danger.

img_1689And for this one, at least I have some color WIP photos…

img_1688As you can see, it’s a rich, rich red — a skein of travelknitter Tanami 4ply Camelsilk to be specific which I received through my subscription to The Golden Skein. Made of a blend of 50% camel and 50% silk, this yarn drapes like no one’s business and is soft and utterly delectable. My mom knits shawls and scarves for herself a lot, so I was on the fence about whether or not to knit this project, but when I recalled this skein in my stash I went for it. It’s a luxury she wouldn’t usually get for herself and the classic red is a color she’s been enjoying lately. I went for it and it wasn’t lost on me that she put it on as soon as she opened it and wore it the whole day.

Of course, I did share the hats I made for my kiddos.

img_1807This is the Hipster by Tin Can Knits in Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label in the Poppy colorway. I had plenty of yarn so I went with the slouchy fit for my son just for something different for him. I can tell he’s a little unsure of the different fit, but then again he’s often resistant to change. I won’t lie, we are always working to expand his comfort zone so as silly as it might sound I thought this would be another nice and easy inroad into relaxing his rigid ways.

Then there was the Everyday Brew by Clare Devine.

img_1808I made the ribbing generous and knitted it to the slouchy specifications so my daughter could wear the brim folded back…

img_1809Like so!

My girl often is the first to get chilly when we’re out in the cold and this toasty hat is her new favorite to stay warm. I knit the gauge a little on the tight side, so this Malabrigo Chunky (leftover from her Little Miss Charming sweater) is extra cozy. Like my mom & her Fractal Danger, my girl put this hat on as soon as she opened it and wore it all day.

I also managed to whip up a quick moebius cowl for my mom.

img_1757This is based loosely off of a pattern I wrote for a moebius cast-on class I used to teach. My mom’s sister passed away a little over two years ago and when she did she had just started knitting this cowl. As her family went through the process of sorting her things, this project landed in my hands. At first it was a little too sad to touch, it was still on her needles with her stitches and inside the bag with it was a little note inside the bag reminding her to talk with me about it when we next met. Shortly before the holiday, I came across this though and I decided that it was time to finish this project for her and it seemed only right to give it to my mom. I finished it Christmas night and gave it to my mom the next morning. It feels good to have finally finished this project and my mom seemed happy to receive it.

And somewhere, in the spare and random moments in between everything else, I finished a project for myself.

cafediem2Remember this skein of Three Waters Farm BFL in the Cafe Diem colorway that I’d spun into a skein of 2-ply yarn? Well, I managed to find time to participate in the Three Waters Farm Behm-along and create what may be a new favorite scarf/shawlette…

knit upMeet Easy by Martina Behm. This is quite possibly one of the most enjoyable easy knits I’ve ever worked on. For me it was total cruise-control knitting and I was able to just enjoy watching the colors of this beautiful yarn unfold…

detailBecause my yardage was a little on the short side and my yarn a little on the heavy side, I went up to a US size 8 needle. Because this pattern works off of the knitter finding the halfway point via weight, it’s easily adjustable for such modifications and lets you use every last bit of treasured skeins. I tried a little too hard to squeeze every last bit from this skein actually cutting myself short and subsequently ended up ripping back to the midway point plus a couple rows to be able to finish properly. After this experience, I’d recommend being a little less cavalier and a little more conservative when it comes to locating the mid-way point of your skein, but thankfully I enjoyed this knit enough that I totally didn’t mind re-knitting half of it.

And that, my friends, is the entirety of my holiday knitting (I think). I’ve got a Christmas Eve cast-on, a finished skein of handspun, some birthday shenanigans, a new finished shawl, and some travel knitting to share, but I’ll save that for another day. For now, I’d just like to say that whatever your last week brought your way, I truly hope you were happy and healthy, that your handknits were received with love, and that you found a little time to create something for yourself, too.

Christmas Eve Cast-On

If you’ve followed me for a while here, you’ll know that I always say I don’t knit gifts very often unless a friend or family member expressly asks. I love it when people do ask, but I’m just not a knitter who enjoys surprising others with knitted items very often. What can I say? I’m so weird! In any case, I always into the holiday season blissfully knitting on whatever I want. I do, however, inevitably choose a few small things at the very last moment to knit up for gifts. Why do I do this to myself? I have no idea. You’d think this would be insanely stressful, but after one tense year of trying to finish socks for my hubby on time, now I have a very strict no stress policy. I knit to unwind and while I do indeed put in extra time for a few small holiday gifts, I’m a firm believer that what gets done, gets done, and what doesn’t, doesn’t. End of story.

This year, as you know, I have a few projects that’ll be wrapped up as gifts — two shawls and a pair of slippers were the original goal. Well, I finished those (photos to come post-holiday) and then decided to finish my handspun Easy shawl for the Three Waters Farm Behm-along (photos to come once it dries). And then, with less than a week before the big day, I noticed all these fantastic hat patterns flooding social media and like so many, thought — “Oh yes! That’s a great idea! I can knit a new hat for each of my kids.”

So I did some stash diving and pulled out some sweater yarn leftovers. Yes, a Hipster Hat (taking advantage of one of the 12 Days of Christmas free pattern offerings from Tin Can Knits) in Tanis Fiber Arts’ Green Label in the Poppy colorway for my red-loving son.

img_1713And I finished it today. I have one more skein of this yarnwhich I’ve dog-eared for a  Cabled Canuck for me. I can’t have too many red hats. That’s a fact.

Next up though, I’ll be casting-on Clare Devine’s Everyday Brew for my daughter. Brought to my attention by the lovely ladies at Cream City Yarn who I got to visit last week, this is knit in a bulky weight yarn and is sure to fly off my needles. And then…

I have a plan.

I’ve been seeing the hashtag #christmasevecaston a lot lately and it got me thinking that I should cast-on an extra special project on Christmas Eve. Luckily, I have just the extra special project!

boxIt arrived on my doorstep a couple weeks ago and I’ve been waiting for just the perfect time to share with you and cast-on. My very first Imperial Yarns in a very cute hat kit.

Imperial Stock Ranch all started with one man, Richard Roland Hinton, who was born in 1852 while his family traveled the Oregon Trail. You can read the story of how he built this ranch on its website, but suffice to say with a focus on sustainability Hinton didn’t just establish a ranch in 1871, he created a legacy that would last long beyond his years. Today this ranch thrives on producing acclaimed black angus beef, lamb, and — of course — beautiful wool. They harvest this wool once per year and it is then “custom milled without harsh chemicals or extreme temperatures, leaving it comfortable soft and pure.”

yarnI can attest to that. The single ply yarn ‘Tempest’ included in the Chain Stitch Slouchy Hat Kit is easily the softest American wool I’ve touched. This single is available only in this kit at this time and – wow — is it ever something special!

This hat is part of a new collection designed by Deborah Newton just for Imperial Yarns and I’ll be participating in the Deborah Newton Collection KAL. You can check out the list of eligible patterns here. The designer is an active participant in this KAL and she’s available for questions. Plus there will be a pretty sweet grand prize for those who take part, so if you’re interested I’d love it if you could join us. The KAL runs through January 31, 2016, so there is ample time to hop on board and treat yourself to some of this gorgeous American wool.

Now logically I know I’m just one hat and a few short days away from my super special Christmas Eve Cast On, but as I’m sitting here next to this wool… I won’t lie — it kind of feels like an eternity. My hands have some last minute gift knitting to get done before this treat can reach my needles. I suppose it’s time to keep my eyes on and hands off this prize though, right?

Flurry

No, we haven’t had even one picturesque December snow flurry of which to speak. In fact, instead of a blanket of pristine white we see this scene while out on our hikes.IMG_1533I will say this particular hike was very eerie as the dog was clearly unsettled. Had we not been with Mr. Knitting Sarah, I probably would have gotten right back in the car and found a different spot. As it was though, it was a spooky Halloween-y hike in December. And while it isn’t necessarily unheard of to be snow-less this time of year, it’s definitely not quite as fun to tramp through the woods in mud and fallen leaves instead of snow.

But I digress.

There has, however, been a flurry of activity around our house. Ever since we put the tree up, we’ve been filling all our spare moments with Christmas music and finding those last perfect gifts and preparing for the family we’ll be hosting for the holiday. Since the kids are really into baking and since a couple of the cookie varieties we like to offer handle freezing well, we’ve starting chipping away at the cookie list.

At Thanksgiving my mom handed me some chocolate stars and asked if I could use them. I’m not one to waste chocolate so…

IMG_1557Peanut butter with stars it is!

And of course no holiday would be the same without cut-out cookies…

IMG_1566-0Our selection of cutters is accidentally extensive and the selections the kids make to use is always very eclectic. We made one batch last week and then another over the weekend. It’s way too many, I know, but this way I won’t feel stingy with letting the kiddos sample them leading up to the holiday.

In addition to baking and shopping and all the holiday merry-making, I’ve been clicking away on my final (I think, I hope) knitted Christmas gift.IMG_1552Shown in black and white here, of course, to surprise the recipient, I can share that I’m knitting Martina Behm’s Fractal Danger and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve been very impressed and inspired by the Behm-a-long that’s been taking place over in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry thread and while this one isn’t in TWF yarns or handspun, I found the pattern for this gift through this -along nonetheless. I’ll be sharing more on the Martina Behm project I did start with Three Waters Farm handspun, a new spinning project, and some other fun Three Waters Farm news soon.

In addition to all the holiday-related goodness, remember that double marl I’ve been working on for a while using a couple braids of Cloudlover fiber?

IMG_1559I finally finished plying!

IMG_1560It’s drying now after its bath, but suffice to say after all the doubt and worry as to how this skein would turn out I am very, very pleased. I’ll be sure to share proper photos once it’s dried.

On a less colorful but still exciting (at least to me) note, you might notice that the Knitting Sarah blog has very recently gone ad-free. This is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, but have put it off because of the fee involved. Alas, the perfect storm of wanting to do it and needing a bit more space here for media has finally allowed me to take the leap. You may have not even noticed the change, but I wanted to share just because as dorky as it is it was a big deal to me.

So. You see what I mean — we’ve been busy little bees around here lately. Baking, spinning, knitting, hiking about, making long-awaited blog changes, and all around enjoying the season. I hope you are enjoying a bit of the holiday spirit, too!