Recovering from the Happy Merry

I hope you’ve all had a happy holiday season thus far! Perhaps, like me, the hustle and bustle is mostly over for you and you’re able to settle back into a more normal schedule. I came down with a mighty cold right before the holiday — so much so that my darling husband took one look at me and declared, “You look awful!” one morning. He meant well, somehow, I think, and really I did marry him for his honesty, so I’m not sure what else I should have expected. The important thing is that he seemed to take my horrific appearance to mean I really was not feeling well and so make an effort to help me to plan a easier work load for over the holiday. I am super thankful for that!

In any case, I recovered (for the cold and the trauma of looking so hideous) enough to put it out of my mind and enjoy the family time — gifts and hosting and all that good stuff. My body is still working things out with the germ invaders though and we’re all discombobulated from the weird holiday hours, so we are taking everything light this week — school, housework, the works.

It’s been mighty cold out — we haven’t seen temps crawl out of the singles digits in a while. In fact, today’s 6ºF feels downright warm by comparison to the last few subzero days. But that hasn’t stopped us from taking short hikes. It really does feel good to breath that super cold air when you aren’t feeling great. And that quiet, crisp, low winter light is just…

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Restorative. On so many levels.

Plus, when it’s below zero, you tend to have the trail all to yourselves…

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We never go super far in the below zero temps because that kind of cold gets into your bones awfully quickly, but it’s definitely worth every minute.

At home, I’ve been working on plying…

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This plying is not exactly going according to plan, but I kind of can’t stop myself from just letting it take its course. It’s too pretty to fuss with it. The plan is to weave with it, so I’m getting excited to be nearing the point of actually, you know, weaving. Every day I get closer!

And having finished the holiday socks ahead of schedule, I had planned a Christmas Eve (or Christmas Eve Eve as it ended up being because I finished on the 23rd) cast-on, but instead I found myself compelled to pick up an old WIP…

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My Find Your Fade! According to my Ravelry project page, I started this March 14, 2017 so it’s definitely about time I pick it up again. I had knocked a bunch of stitches off in the middle of the lace section, so instead of trying to sort that out, I ripped back a substantial portion of the color I was in, found my place, and started back in. I’m kind of luke warm about the current color, but I have faith that the next color and the final color will bind the whole project together so I am being patient.

At the moment I’m tantalizingly close to adding that next color which will be the second from the last. I feel like I totally have the momentum to wrap this project up now which feels like a tremendous weight lifted and a huge accomplishment all rolled into one. If I can finish my Find Your Fade, I’m one sock and 2/3 of a shawl (remember Brillig?) away from having finished all my current WIPs for 2017. It won’t all happen in the next 3 days, so 2018 won’t begin with a clean slate, but I don’t feel buried by WIPs either. So I am continuing to plot and plan my craft projects for the coming year… I’ll have to share some of those with you soon, right?!

I hope you are all enjoying a little down time to recover from the happy merry season and that your 2018 plotting and planning is coming along very nicely, too!

 

 

 

The Quiet Moments

The title says it all, my friends, I have been a busy little elf.

We’ve finished the bulk of our gift buying and wrapping. It’s been a holiday movie watching, birthday celebrating (happy birthday to Mr Knitting Sarah!), Christmas lights perpetually on kind of couple of weeks. We’ve been saving the baking for this week when we plan to give the kiddos a couple half days of normal studies in school complimented by afternoons full of some intense home economics lessons in holiday preparation. I’ve been tidying the house up though in fits and spurts and we’ve had a couple big snowfalls that have had me busily shoveling our sidewalks.

And there’s been this…

img_5506Shhhhhh…. don’t tell. It might be a gift.

And this…

img_5512Mr Knitting Sarah graciously allowed me to size them to his feet just in case I should find someone with his exact foot size to give these to. I’m on the foot of sock number 2, so I’m very happy and relieved that barring disaster they will be done in time for the big holiday. You know, in case I should find someone to give them to with the exact same size foot as Mr Knitting Sarah.

And to celebrate the knowledge that they’d be done on time and to keep myself from doing too much of one thing, I started a new spinning project.

img_5515I’ve been sneaking in a few minutes in the early morning before the kids wake. Watching the sun come up and spinning is one of my favorite things in life.

img_5521And this colorway, Stone House by Three Waters Farm on BFL, has been the perfect subdued colorway to be spinning. I have 8oz which I plan to spin into a 2-ply fractal and then knit during the Three Waters Farm Susan Ashcroft SAL + KAL in January & February. The plan is to knit it into Light Relief. I think it’ll be lovely. It certainly helps motivate me as this braid is absolutely made up of  some of my favorite colors.

And that, my friends, has been my week. With the upcoming holiday and my own birthday looming on the horizon along with the new year, I’ve been in my own head quite a bit. Looking back, looking forward, and thinking about changes I’d like to make and things I’d like to prioritize and make happen in the next year. I’ll share more about that next week, but for now, I just wanted to pop in, share some of my holiday progress and let you know I’m hoping that you are all having a wonderful season, that you’re enjoying time with friends and family, and that you’re finding bits of quiet time to watch the sun rise and spin or knit away to some holiday tunes. Even if just for a few moments, those moments to reflect are wonderful for the soul.

Just ask Moose…

img_5518If anyone were to be labeled an expert, it could certainly be him. He definitely understands the importance of quiet moments.

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!

Birthday or No Birthday

On Saturday night, my husband came home from work a cake in hand. It was not really a surprise seeing as though my birthday was Sunday and while he & I could take or leave the whole cake tradition, the birthday cake is a big deal to the kids. When I saw the dedication…

20131230-125746.jpg“Happy Birthday Turtle Dove” a huge smile spread across my face.

Neither of us can remember when he started calling me “Turtle Dove,” but we both know that it was very early on in our relationship and that I have loved the nickname from the very first moment. I don’t know why, but it’s a term of endearment that instantly melts my heart & makes me feel really special. This small act of putting it on my cake — well, it was just the sweetest little act. It started the day off right (even though it was technically the night before…).

The plan for the big day was to head to Milwaukee. First on the agenda was to seek out a snowy owl that had been in the area. This year we have had a larger than average number of snowy owls wintering in our area and as yet our family had been skunked in actually getting our glimpse. We get to see one or two most winters, but this year has been particularly frustrating because there are so many around and everyone has been seeing them and we just haven’t had the luck. I’m not sure when my husband first saw this owl, but instead of pointing it out plainly he innocently asked me to check out a white spot at the end of a pier. Completely oblivious that he indeed knew exactly what it was, I peered through my new binoculars and started carefully explaining what I saw. Finally, I declared with excitement & certainty that it was indeed a snowy owl. My husband was smiling — he had just let me ‘find’ my own owl for my birthday.

snowy owlAnd there it is. Conditions — as you can see — were miserable and we were of course very far away so as not to disturb this guy. The photo was taken by my husband through our spotting scope through the freezing rain & wind. And in my mind & heart — because I feel like I have been waiting so long this year to find one — there has scarcely been a more glorious find.

With this success under our belts, we carried on to Discovery World. Connecting science, technology, and the environment, this is a little slice of heaven for our science & nature-loving family. Jam-packed with hands-on exhibits that teach everything from how a water is treated and gets into your home, to an amazing aquarium that includes touch tanks for rays, sharks, and lake sturgeon, to a huge model of the Great Lakes, to learning about simple machines, to going aboard a replica of a Great Lakes Schooner — this place has so much to learn & do! I’ve assembled just a few photos from the lot that my husband and I took while there to share.

20131230-125945.jpgBecause it was my birthday, I got to walk around with a button all day. I don’t know what was better — how much my daughter loved it or how the staff all wished me a happy birthday as I passed. So fun!

20131230-130001.jpgThe space itself is pretty beautiful….

20131230-130104.jpgRight down to the lovely tiling on the floor (I couldn’t fit ‘Wisconsin’ in my frame, so I settled for ‘Wisco’ — my fave nickname for my home state).

20131230-130041.jpgNot to brag or anything, but my girl & I walked on top of water. It was pretty much awesome.

delia drives a boatMy girl also steered a boat…

cardinalsAnd we all worked together in the Design It! Quick Shop to create handmade cardinals. I walked away with a hot glue gun burn and the kids’ cardinals did not exactly match the beautiful sample…20131230-130137.jpgBut it was still a lot of fun. It made me really want to clean up a studio area for myself & the kiddos at home.

20131230-130126.jpgI also loved this wall of gears — it reminded me how much time I used to spend studying engines & machines when I was a kid. I loved getting to the bottom of how things worked.

20131230-130149.jpgAnd this… well, I just thought it was a cool photo of the staircase.

The icing on the cake… it was well-suited to such a great day. As we were getting ready to go, my husband spotted this guy through the window…

peregrineA peregrine falcon having a little dinner on the ice. Sorry, it’s a little gruesome, but it was pretty special having the chance to see this amazing bird still for so long — we must have watched for about 30minutes. I’ve definitely had great luck viewing these awesome falcons in the past, but not usually sitting still. As we watched, a second falcon landed nearby hoping for some leftovers. While my husband snapped photos through the scope, I snapped this photo…

20131230-125814.jpgBecause it doesn’t matter what time of year it is or that it is almost below zero outside. There is always beauty to be found. On my birthday, I was lucky enough to celebrate the awesomeness of nature in a snowy owl, peregrine falcons, & the mighty Lake Michigan, the joys of learning about my world, the blessings of family, the thoughtfulness of my wonderful husband. And of course, after our busy day…

20131230-144146.jpgEven the joy a little knitting can bring.

Birthday or no birthday, I’m so thankful for another wonderful day and the people & places & things that make my life extraordinary.

Can You Keep a Secret?

So, I haven’t had a chance to post this week. There are a couple reasons. The reasons are top secret.

Can you keep a secret?

Yes? Oh, good.

First, this week we welcomed a new addition to our family.

snakeIt took a year of convincing, but my husband finally talked me into agreeing to get our son a snake. Our boy is crazy for snakes. This little guy is an Apricot Pueblan Milksnake — a mimic of the venomous Coral Snake and thus infinitely cool — and he is currently residing in the basement while he adjusts to our house. He will move upstairs permanently on Christmas morning. He doesn’t really do much except sun himself when we aren’t around and then hide when we show up. He is shockingly fast when he wants to be. Shockingly. I don’t blame him — I would hide lickedy-split, too, if I were a foot long and about as wide as a dime and in a new place with weird noises and giant, unpredictable humans and a giant dog running around. Thank goodness for his hidey-rock.

So, yes, please don’t mention it around my son. He’s going to be SO surprised. It’s going to be amazing.

I have also been knitting and spinning a fair bit. I wrapped up knitting on three hats. Whew-hoo!

The first is for my husband. He came with me to my LYS, Firefly Fibers, and decided he’d like a new hat. It took a long time & a fair bit of help from Alisa to find a pattern that didn’t “look like a doily” and yarn that wasn’t “too sparkly” or ” too shiny.” Alisa was very patient. I was beside myself. This is par for the course. In the end we finally settled on Churchmouse Yarns & Teas’ Ribbed Watch Cap & Beanie in Dream in Color Smooshy in the Black Pearl colorway.

black_pearl_whole_hat_medium2My husband was paranoid it would be too small, so I added an inch to the main body. Of course, now it is too long, but we learned that the brim can be double folded and it still looks great (and is warmer on the ears – perfect!). Now knitting friends, let me just say this pattern takes almost 10″ of 1×1 ribbing in fingering weight yarn. That’s A LOT of ribbing.

black_pearl_close_up_medium2One more photo in honor of the mother of all ribbed projects. I love this hat. Oh my goodness was it a lot of work. I’m so glad I’m done with it.

While I was working on this hat a couple weeks ago, my family & I were at the zoo where is poured rain, had violent thunderstorms, & about an hour’s worth of tornado warnings (I now know what the basement of the primate house is like…). By the end I was soaked and cold, so my husband sent me on an assignment at Cream City Yarn to pick up yarn to make hats for his two assistants at work. I opted for Quince & Co Lark to make a couple of Churchmouse Yarns & Teas’s new Boyfriend Watch Cap.

20131206-120711.jpgOne in Peacoat.

20131206-120733.jpgAnd one in Marsh.

This is seriously my new favorite quick hat. Super easy and the pattern switches about mid-way through from ribbing to stockinette, so just when I start to get a little bored, it changes. Perfection. Speaking of perfection, this was my first time working with Quince & Co’s Lark and it is everything I’ve come to expect from Quince & Co. It is an absolute treat to work with — a true wool and yet soft and bouncy. It is an amazing pairing with the Boyfriend Watch Cap, too. If I had more time on my hands (and the need for 49hats), I would knit one up in every single color of Lark.

Having finished these beauties, I moved right on to a pair of socks for my husband.

20131206-104742.jpgRegia is the workhorse of sock yarns — I love it. In sport weight, these fly by. This photo is already outdated — I’m currently working on the foot.

On the wheel, I finally finished up the plying on two skeins of gradient yarns from Fiber Optics — they, too, are destined to be gifts.

20131206-104706.jpgThis is Bitter Lime to Rose.

20131206-104723.jpgI ‘m pleased. Period.

20131206-121658.jpgAnd this is Chocolate to Aqua.

20131206-121708.jpgThis one spun up just a smidge differently  — a bit springier — as I tried a different ratio than the Bitter Lime to Rose. I am really happy with the results of both.

This was my first time using Fiber Optics fiber and the end results of these merino/silk blends are beautiful. I will say that there were a few more slubs in the spinning than I am used to, but nothing unmanageable. Both skeins are 3-ply fingering weight yarns, the Bitter Lime to Rose coming in around 475yards and the Chocolate to Aqua at about 500yards. Now I just need to get them in the bath and drying so they are ready for Christmas morning!

Aside from the handmaking, I’ve been having a load of fun handpicking gifts for my crafty friends. And… I have been lucky enough to have been treated a few goodies for myself as well. I’ll save those for tomorrow though. For now, there is Christmas music to listen to, knitting to be knit, gifts to wrap, and a snake to try to sneak a peek of.