Knitting Sarah Weaves & Crochets?

Earlier this week, for a school field trip we packed up and set out for the Milwaukee Public Museum. My husband had put together an awesome lesson on Native Americans and we spent the bulk of our time comparing and contrasting the different cultural groups. It’s no surprise that the cultures that relied on sheep and did a lot of weaving stuck with my kiddos (and me) and afterwards I may or may not have spent some time browsing looms. Browsing only. This is totally a whim and I have neither time nor space for a bigger loom (repeat this like a mantra, Sarah… a lot).

Flashback to the past month. I have been relying on Instagram for my crafty news as there just has not been much spare time around here for anything beyond flipping through this lovely little photo feed. The whole month of February I was watching the talented Stefanie of Handmade by Stefanie post up photos of her finished Zoom Loom squares. With every square I was reminded that I am long overdue for tinkering with this awesome little pin loom. If you remember, I got one of these sweet looms last summer just in time to enjoy the Zoom-along The Woolery hosted. The result of this adventure was this guy…

eyesLaurel the Lion who was made from a very nice and convenient kit from The Woolery. My daughter informed me today that he was actually renamed “Laurel the Loom Lion” because it’s more fun with the extra ‘L’. The kids take turns ‘caring’ for him – clearly he is belover!

In any case, Stefanie’s posts reminded me that I really needed to get my loom back out. But what was I going to make? I will admit I was a little lost because it’s one thing to sew together a little toy like this, but a whole other thing to, you know, do a scarf or blanket or whatever with seams that would actually show (and no I will not buy a bigger loom to avoid this sewing).

Stefanie to the rescue!

Her post yesterday mentioned Margaret Stump’s Pin Loom Weaving book — it promised instructions for projects I could see using including scarves and dishcloths and blankets. The book even has directions for joining squares together. See! I really don’t need another loom (this mantra is really working now!) — I can use the one I have! Now I have the loom and desperately need some guidance to be able to branch out from stuffed animals — that is pretty clear to me. My dear hubby, however, has been dropping some not-so-subtle hints lately that my fiber arts library may have gotten a little large over the last couple of years. Don’t get me wrong, if it makes me happy and I use them he supports my book acquisitions and I know that, but the comments make me a little self-conscious. So… I got the eBook version. It doesn’t take up any space, so there’s minimal guilt and I get instant access to it. It’s a win-win.

As you may have read in an earlier post, I’m pretty much chief procrastinator when it comes to knitting dishcloths. I love them, but I hate making them. I keep a decent stash of Peaches n’ Cream cotton lying about and it so happens that that stash still includes some cool hand-dyed cotton from Dyeabolical that I bought a very long time ago. This new book — as I mentioned — had instructions for a dishcloth, so I was thinking that I could totally check two things off the to-do list at once: 1) make a dishcloth and 2) use the Zoom Loom. Score!

I got right to work. OK, not true. I got right to work after downloading the PDF of the instruction manual from the Schacht website. My daughter ‘put the booklet away’ after pulling it out a month or so ago, so I am thankful to the folks at Schacht for having this available online! Loom successfully set up, I went right to trying out the rib pattern the squares for the dishcloth pattern use.

IMG_8194Can I just say I LOVE it! I actually think it’s more fun that standard weaving! I didn’t have enough of the green to make the four squares required for the dishcloth, so I split it up with a plain brown I had in the stash. Two of the square I did the set-up in the green and the weaving in the brown and for the other two I reversed it. I whipped up all four squares during lunch and the kids’ ‘Friday Crafternoon.’ And then the craziest thing happened…

I tried to crochet.

I used to crochet all the time from the time I was little all the way through college, but I really have done very little since I started knitting. In fact, I’ve only crocheted to finish my knitting when a pattern calls for it. First, it was pretty much a miracle that I had an appropriate hook. Then miracle #2 occurred as I, you know, crocheted.

IMG_8196I’m the very first in line to say that it is by no means perfect. There were at least two spots where things went very, very awry. But I did my best to recover, fighting the urge to double crochet instead of the suggested half double crochet for the entire edging. Anyone who tells you tactile memory can’t span years is 100% wrong. I am living proof that the double crochet stays with a woman for at least 15years.

I survived though…

IMG_8197And you know, I think it turned out pretty good considering I’m not very experienced with the loom and I’m super rusty with the hook.

IMG_8195This is the finished dishcloth. I apologize that it’s unblocked, but I was racing the sun going down for light. And I’m just going to go ahead and use it rather than taking the time to block it. I think the texture will actually make a great dishcloth. I’m really interested to see how my crochet joins hold up and I’m even more excited to see how my creating them improves over time in future projects.

I think there are two lessons that I’m taking away from today’s story. First, there is a way to make dishcloths that I actually kind of like. And second, I do not need a bigger loom (at least not yet).

Stashtastic

So today I was doing my time with the Wii Fit for strengthening and yoga and it just so happens that I do this in a place where I stare at the bulk of my stash. I live in a small house, so really this isn’t shocking — there’s only so much room, after all. It is, however, a very happy coincidence. My mind wanders a lot which is probably not necessarily great for my workout except for the fact that it certainly keeps it interesting for me.

Anyhoo, as I was doing the Palm Tree this afternoon I happened to notice this…

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Two totally separate projects, added to my stash about a month apart and they are pretty much completely matching. I had no idea until today.

Hilarious, especially since both are next in my to-do list for their respective crafts. Hilarious and maybe a little worrisome since I had them both on my radar, but totally did not put together that they match. Definitely stashtastic, though. Definitely.

Carried Away

I have a confession to make. It is twofold — half is wonderful, the other half… well, it is what it is.

First, the good half. Since I have been working on my friend Jennifer’s Custom Spin, I have been working on trying to find a balance between spinning & knitting. I am the kind of person who often gets a bit obsessive & I tend to go ‘all in’ for one or the other. I spent the 3weeks of the Tour de Fleece spinning and only spinning. Then I knit for 3months straight without touching my wheel. This past week, I found a good compromise between the two — the craft time I have during the day I spin, the time I have at night I knit. Some days there is more time for one than there is for the other, but most of the time it is pretty even. It seems to be good for me — it keeps me fresh & moving forward in both crafts. It also seems to fit my family life well which means a lot to me.

The half of this confession that is what it is? Well, because I have found this balance and I feel so fresh & motivated in both knitting & spinning I find that my ambition is also a little… I don’t want to say unrealistic about how much I will accomplish in the near future, but in all honesty that’s kind of it.

A case in point: When I stopped spinning for the day yesterday, I found that I had only about 1/3 – 1/4 of my 4oz braid of fiber left to spin up into singles.

20131102-094314.jpgThis is all that’s left. Then a rest for the singles & some plying.

I also wrapped up a matching hat & mitten set for my daughter, a pair of socks, & the knitting portion of my Deco sweater this week. It sounds like a lot, but really it was just small projects and finishing nearly done pieces.

In any case, in the haze of my finishing high, I started winding yarn this morning. And I proceeded to… you guessed it, go a wee bit overboard.

20131102-092832.jpgFirst I unwound & rewound the yarn for my Rusted Root sweater. I wasn’t too far & it has been sitting for a couple months. Rather than deal with potential gauge differences and figuring out where I left off, I opted to rip it out & start fresh.

But I have finished 2 or 3 sweaters since the start of this autumn, so I know myself well enough to realize that I need to work a couple smaller projects before I dive back into sweater knitting. I thrive on variety and all sweaters all the time will not have great results for me.

So I wound these two skeins…

20131102-092737.jpgCloudlover Yarn & Fiber merino/silk aran weight yarn in the Blueberry Picking colorway. I bought this yarn roughly a gazillion years ago. As I talked about a couple months ago, I am trying to break myself of the habit of saving my favorite things for the perfect moment. These skeins have been sitting exactly for this reason. They are so soft and so pretty that they have seemingly set up permanent residence in my stash. I have had a cowl pattern picked out for it for roughly two years. It is time to knit it.

That wasn’t enough though (apparently).

20131102-092813.jpgThere was this Quince & Co Owl in Snowy that I have promised to knit into a Rosebud hat for my mother-in-law. She spotted my Rosebud a couple months ago & asked if I could make one for her for Christmas. How could I say no? Christmas is getting closer, so really I had to wind this & get going on it.

Oh wait, do remember this?

20131102-150418.jpg Yes, those are my three skeins of The Fibre Company’s Tundra that have to be knit into the beautiful Tallin. I see this yarn every day as I work on other things. It will knit up so fast & I know it’ll be a joy. So I keep putting it off.

There are also those two braids of Fiber Optic Yarns gradients that I promised to spin for my mom for Christmas. And some socks I have to knit for the holiday.

And now that I have written this & shared pictures, all this winding & scheming seems a little… unrealistic… or overly ambitious… or crazy.

Maybe I just got a little ahead of myself. I suppose the real judge will be how long this pile of projects actually takes me (for the record, all of them seemed like they’d be complete in the blink of an eye this morning) . Now that a few hours have passed and nary a stitch has been worked though, I feel as though maybe I did indeed get a bit… carried away.

Oh boy…

Do you ever wish you could do everything on your to-do at the same time? That’s kind of where I’m at these days. I have a backlog of writing I would like to get up here on the blog. I have a ton of knitting I want to be doing. My spinning wheel is calling my name. Meal & lunch planning for the new school year is on my mind. I’m trying to figure out how I want to build out a new flower bed this fall. I have school supply lists to double check. There’s that bin of sample knits I just got back that need washing & photographing & uploading onto Ravelry. My husband’s pants need mending. Yes, my mind is just all over the place right now. I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favourite moments in one of my favourite TV series’ of all time, Gilmore Girls. Want an idea of what my mind feels like right now? Watch this 30second clip & it’ll be about covered.


Monkey, monkey, underpants.

Aside from all of the crazy within my cranium, life marches along and the to-do lists gets done somehow while my mind races. Luckily I had the good fortune of slowing down this weekend. Sunday was my husband’s day off and we decided to take one last summer trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo. The kids so loved petting the sharks & stingrays earlier in the summer that we decided to give it one last hurrah. It certainly pays for us to have a membership!

20130827-121813.jpgSugared and caffeinated by our favourite local coffee shop, we walked the grounds of this lovely zoo on a toasty August morning in Milwaukee.

20130827-121803.jpgI grew up going to this zoo. It is always such a joy to see how it is changing & modernizing and to share it with my kids. My kiddos are VERY, VERY into animals & animal facts, so we have definitely shifted to a more give-and-take discussion when at the zoo rather than parents teaching children. I must confess, it’s kind of cool how that happens. I always learn a lot and am so impressed by how much the kiddos retain of what they read & see on nature documentaries.

20130827-121743.jpgI love that the bee house has a quote from Emily Dickinson. I ❤ bees.

20130827-121829.jpgAnd of course, time was spent the stingray & shark petting area again. Note that we were smart enough to dress everyone in short sleeves this time.

20130827-121854.jpgWe discovered this strange fellow in the attached gift shop. I had no idea Cthulhu lived in Milwaukee.

Slightly melting in the heat of the day & happily spoiled with a new stingray toy (named Marina) and a stuffed animal squid (named Squoggy), the children led the way to the car and we headed for home.

On the way, we made a stop at Cream City Yarn to pick up yarn I had special ordered. Yes, it is true. We actually orchestrated this day trip on my behalf. I had good reason though — I had this waiting for me:20130827-121638.jpg65% baby alpaca / 15% silk / 10% camel / 10% cashmere

I am the kind of person who will eye yarn for years before trying it if I don’t have it staring me down locally. I finally had the opportunity to touch it last year at TNNA & instantly I knew I had to knit with it. I had planned to order online this fall, but when I saw that the ladies at Cream City Yarn were bringing this beautiful yarn into their shop I hopped on Ravelry, found a pattern I loved, and contacted them about placing an order. They happily & kindly obliged. I got the email last week that my 6 skeins of Road to China Light in Topaz were in, so my husband and I arranged the Milwaukee day so I could pick it up (and have a look around at the rest of the shop at all their beautiful yarns). As always, the staff was very friendly & helpful and – despite being very busy – they kindly wound the first two skeins so I could start knitting with it as soon as I got home.

But let’s not leave the shop too hastily. I also picked up more Quince & Co Owl.

20130827-121612.jpgMy mother-in-law so loved my Rosebud hat that I am now making one for her in Snowy.

And I grabbed a skein of this…20130827-121619.jpgQuince & Co Osprey in Marsh. Oh, I have a special plan for this, too. Of course.

On the way home, I knit furiously on my MIL’s Capitol Square Market Bag

20130827-121554.jpg… finishing all but the Kitchener stitch as we rolled into town. I quickly wrapped it up as soon as everyone was settled.

And then this happened…

20130827-121646.jpgI can report that this yarn is nothing shy of heaven. Heaven. It’s like knitting with a cloud that is equal parts wispy & puffy & silken. I have never knit with anything like it … it’s just that good. My Lavaliere by Cecily Glowik MacDonald is already incredible and is still only just shy of shedding the sleeve stitches. Everything is set aside while this sweater happens. No rationing joy here!

Oh, except for my August installment of the Merry KAL.20130826-203136.jpgBecause that has to happen this week. And I have to feed the dog. And change the water in the kids’ pool. And mend those pants for my husband. And give my son a haircut.

‘Bicycle, unicycle, unitard. Hockey puck, rattlesnake…’

Oh boy….

Oops! I did it again!

So, today Alisa from Firefly Fibers posted up a photo of  her new shipment of Sweet Georgia yarns. It was like zero to drooling in like 0.02 seconds. I stopped in. I looked (read: ogled). I left. I came back.

And then….

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Oops! I did it again!

In my defense, I did leave behind a gorgeous skein of Tough Love Sock in the Boheme colorway so it could have been worse.

Happy Mother’s Day to me? Yes, let’s go with that!

10 Random Facts.

It’s seems as though this ‘Random Facts’ things has been going around. I first saw it on the iMake blog, Martine at iMake got the idea from Crafted by Carlyyou know how these things go on the interwebs. So I figured, to celebrate the whole 10,000 hits thing (yay!) I would post up a 10 Random Facts about me blog because…. well, why not?

All right, here goes.

1. My favourite nut is the pistachio. I love it in pretty much any of its many possible manifestations.

2. I am a coffee drinker and a good fresh cup always makes me very happy.

3. I was born with congenital hip dysplasia which was not caught early. I have had multiple corrective — more like salvage — operations on it including limb lengthening & reconstruction.

4. In college I studied abroad in Italy, just outside of Florence to be exact.

5. I have worked many odd jobs including, but not limited to: grocery store clerk, manager a Far East & African Art shop, screen printer, image library staffer, optics (binoculars & spotting scopes) salesperson, and  therapist/teacher for autistic children.

6. It was always a dream of mine to hike the Appalachian Trail.

7. I was lucky enough to work on Martha’s Vineyard during summer breaks in college.

8. The smell of saltwater might be my favorite smell in the world.

9. I love being outdoors, but prefer to steer clear of the habitat of large wild animals that can attack or eat me.

10. Dark chocolate makes me sneeze.

That’s me. A weird hodgepodge of what-not — it makes me who I am.

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 And that ‘me’ usually has a smile to share… as long as I’ve been properly caffeinated.