Little Flowers

As knitters, we are always in search of good places to purchase materials. Until we all get our own farms and flocks, we depend on shops — both online and brick & mortar — to supply us with good quality yarns and tools to keep us inspired and in good supply. One such shop that I’ve come to really love is Cream City Yarn. I’ve mentioned this shop a number of times before because it’s semi-local to me — it’s not down the street, but it’s not too far away either, so I get to stop in a few times per year. The thing with this shop is, I always walk away happy. I’m always greeted by the very warm staff who will help me as much or as little as I need. Every time I stop in there are new samples & new yarns so that it’s rare that I walk out with only what I stopped in to get. They are the only Quince & Co stockist is my home state of Wisconsin (if you’ve knit with Quince & Co yarns, you know that’s kind of a big deal), so it’s the only place I get to check out this beautiful yarn. And even though I only visit every few months, Kris, one of the owners, knows me and always very kindly takes the time to ask what’s brought me to the area, inquires about my kids, and we usually talk for a bit about — what else? — knitting. I can tell she’s busy, but she takes the time anyway and I appreciate that.

On one such stop about a month ago, I popped in to the same reception to which I’ve grown accustomed. I happily poked around all the shelves and managed to narrow down my selections to a skein of Sheepish Yarn Co’s Merino Sock

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It just so happens that the woman who dyes Sheepish Yarn Co yarns, Jennifer Donze, also happens to teach at the shop. I ran into Jennifer at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival last September and she had mentioned that Cream City Yarn had put together kits for Kate Davies’ Peerie Flooers using the always gorgeous Quince & Co Finch. All these months later, I hadn’t forgotten…

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And luckily I got one of the last few that were currently in stock (they have a bunch more of these kits in stock now).

It is no secret that I’m a fan of colorwork. In fact, I was informed recently that I’m what you could call a ‘colorwork junky’. Once I start this type of project, I really struggle to put it down. I started on one evening…

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And by the following evening…

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I was done.

No, this is not normal. At least I don’t think it is. These types of project probably should take more time and really, I kind of wish I could make them last longer, but it’s one of those personality quirks I’ve just come to accept. When I start a colorwork project, I just clear my calendar and enjoy.

The results?

peerie flooers2Beautiful!

I can’t tell you what my favorite part of this project is.

peerie flooersThe crown decreases — were crazy fun and look fantastic.

peerie flooers3The rainbow-y brim is just so pretty.

pf detailAnd the little flowers, (“Peerie flooers” means “little flowers” in Shetland dialect — just in case you were wondering), of course, are absolutely darling.

pf flatOne more shot of the whole hat? Why not?!

Oh, and before I forget, someone mentioned to me that they like shots of the inside of colorwork, so I snapped a couple of those, too.

A detail…

pf insie out detailAnd the whole hat.pf inside out

All in all, I really could not be happier. I, of course, have to give credit where credit is due. In all honesty, I was able to knit this hat up so quickly and easily because of the kit. I know a lot of knitters really love to pick out their own colors palettes, but I will admit that I’m not really that great at it nor and I very patient in doing it. I love it when I’m able to just grab the kit and knit it up. The very capable ladies at Cream City Yarn picked the colors & measured all the little mini-skeins out. All I had to do was wind the yarn and knit it. This pattern has been on my to-knit list since it came out in August of 2011 and I just finally got to it now. With as busy as I am — as most of us are — the kit was the difference between not quite ever getting to the project and having this beautiful finished hat to wear.

Now I know I started this by singing the praises of Cream City Yarn and some of you are probably sad that it’s not closer to you, but I’m happy to report that they do have an online shop from which you can purchase a lot of beautiful yarn and accessories, including this very kit. In fact, you can find it right here. The kit includes all the yarn you need to make the smaller, beanie sized hat (you must purchase the pattern separately — it’s available on Ravelry here). Like I said, it is created using Quince & Co’s Finch, a fingering weight 100% American wool in a palette I find to be really, really beautiful. Wondering about fit? Here’s mine on my head…

pfheadshotPlease keep in mind that mine is knit slightly tighter than the given gauge, but I can still easily pull it down over my ears and eyebrows should the weather really be nippy. This is just how I prefer to wear it on the average day. I just love the fit & warmth.

  I’ve used the Cream City Yarn online shop a few times for various things over the past couple of years as well as done special orders through them and I find the customer service for both the online shop & over the phone to be equal to my experience in the shop. The customer service is friendly and my orders are always handled efficiently — shipped very promptly and at a rate that is reasonable.

So what do you think? Don’t you want to knit a beautiful Peerie Flooers hat for yourself?

Perhaps instead of getting cut flowers for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, you could opt for some darling little knitted ones…

pf detailI know I’d love that!

A ‘Surprise’ Long Weekend

One day a week I volunteer in my daughter’s class. I go in at lunch time & help open milk cartons, distribute ketchup, and help peel bananas — whatever tasks little hands find troublesome. From there this time of year I zip coats & tuck snowpants around boots and help get all those mittens and hats and scarves in place for recess. The rest of the afternoon I get to read or do math one-on-one or in small groups  and then help when the class is all together for small groups of math. This 2 or 3hours is one of the highlights of my week. I feel pretty fortunate that I get this opportunity to see my girl in her element and to get to know her classmates and teachers.

Yesterday when I walked into the lunch room I was a little early, so one of the teachers and I were chatting and she asked, “So do you have anything planned for your day off tomorrow?” I stared blankly. “Is there no school tomorrow?” I asked. She chuckled. Yes, apparently despite the calendar on our fridge that has NO SCHOOL emblazoned in all caps on February 28th, I had completely spaced on this fact. I have to admit that I’m a little spoiled — my kids, especially my son is pretty on top of his school schedule particularly when it comes to long weekends. I also can see the school parking lot from my house, so even if I completely miss the boat and my boy forgets to remind me if I look out the window at 8am and the parking lot is empty I know to double-check the calendar.

So what are we going to do with our long weekend? Well, we are ‘enjoying’ another round of seriously cold weather. It’s funny how just 2 or 3 months ago a wind chill of -8F might have kept us home, but no longer. My husband and I actually had this exchange this morning:

“Hey, is it cold out there this morning?”

“Nah, it’s only -2F.”

And we both burst out laughing and continued to discuss plans for Sunday as it is supposed to be sort of ‘warm’ at 11F.

So the next couple days with consist of some errands, of course, and trying to keep two active kiddos from going bananas when playing outside is a little tough — even if we brave the cold temps, the snow is basically a sheet of hard ice and not exactly super fun to play in. We’ll do a library run. A trip to the post office. Perhaps some time swimming — we are lucky we have a great pool very close to home and the kids love swimming. A healthy installment of Just Dance is guaranteed — my daughter is in love with it and thus we are all getting down with our favorite Disney songs these days. Legos will surely be involved (they are the ‘it’ toys in our house right now). Cleaning. Putting clean laundry away & ironing (I think if I write it there is a better chance I might actually do it…).

Speaking a laundry and knitting (perhaps my least & most favorite tasks in life), about a week and a half ago I got a note that the samples from my teaching days were boxed upand ready for me to pick up, so I popped down and picked up a box and a shopping bag full of my handknits.20140228-102704.jpgSome — like my O W L S sweater and Classic Raglan Sweater — I was really, really, really excited to have back. This freezing winter really beckons for cozy wool sweaters. The rest have been really fun to look through. Many I had almost forgotten I knit — I was usually was so excited to get them to the shop that I didn’t document anything.  They typically went from my needles to the bath to the shop.  After a year or two on and off display, everything needs a good washing and then I’ll have to decide if I want to take photos and post them up or just wear them. I think they’d be fun to share here as a little walk down memory lane. I suppose we shall see how ambitious I’m feeling when the time comes. For now, I probably should not get ahead of myself and I’d better just focus on the washing. It’s not what I’d call fun, but washing handknits is much better than the normal laundry. That’s something anyway!

Of course, along with errands and playing and exercise and cleaning, I will sneak in some knitting.20140228-102625.jpgI finished up my Snowfling Mitt from Tanis Fiber Arts — including the second thumb which is not present here. From here I’m on to the lining…

20140228-102640.jpgHonestly, the lining is what sold me on this kit — a perfect pale gold accent on this gorgeous mittens. And said gold is a cashmere blend. Yum. I hope the lining knits up quickly, but I’m pretty sure my needles can’t move fast enough for my greedy, freezing hands.

I’m also slowly moving along a few stitches a day at my latest Socks with Sarah KAL sock…

20140228-103609.jpgOf course these basic sport weight socks are knitting up quickly especially considering how little time I am putting in on them right now.  I am happy to be staying with the little bit of sock knitting every day that is the theme of the knitalong and that continues to feel really good. For as simple as these socks are, I’m actually really excited for them as I actually adore basic sport weight socks for around the house.

I am, however, already looking ahead to my next pair of socks… it’ll most likely be the kit in this bag…20140228-104335.jpgFirst Footing by Kate Davies. Oooh, they will be good!

It might just be me, but the longer the weekend the faster it seems to go. Time to get to it — even the laundry — before it’s over!

Happy weekend to you & yours!

Transcending Time

Last week my husband surprised me with a trip to a semi-local art museum, the Chazen Museum of Art. It holds a special place in my heart as I spent the last two years of school working & studying in this very museum. A lot has changed since that time — the museum went through a pretty major expansion project and was renamed (it was the Elvehjem Museum of Art in my day) — but as with most things in life, even with major changes a lot remains the same. The collection, of course, still houses the same pieces along with numerous additions. It is certainly a trip to walk the halls and remember how I studied so many of these pieces in such detail, writing term paper after term paper on them. I am so thankful my husband thought to take me.

20131126-095826.jpgI love looking down the corridor and seeing art ranging from modern to ancient sacophagi. It gives a person perspective — not only are we but a blip in history, but humans have been creating for a long time.

20131126-095902.jpgI saw this painting and had to share it with you. Sadly I did not jot down the artist’s name, but check out the spindle!

Like many things in our life, my husband and I don’t overlap very much in our tastes for art. He tends to like paintings of tall ships. Realism. Paintings of landscapes & nature. While there is definitely realism I like, I tend to get more excited about things like this…

20131126-095850.jpgBlack Jack by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle

and…

20131126-095842.jpgLuke Jerram’s Large E. coli in glass.

I don’t know why I’m drawn to works like this, but I am. My husband is accepting of my ‘weird’ tastes… I think. Or amused. Or something. In any case, he seems mildly entertained going through the modern sections of museums with me. At the very least, it means a lot to me that he goes even if he isn’t super fond of it.

Did I mention I wore my own little work of art? I finally took my Deco cardigan out on the town.

deco with sculptureIt fits wonderfully & as it is knit at a pretty snug gauge it is quite warm – perfect for our early winter this year. And really, there is no better knitwear designer to wear while perusing a museum than Kate Davies. All her designs are steeped in history and have such a connection to place & time that each is — dare I say it? — as much a work of art as the items on the walls of a museum.

deco frontish

Wearable art, that is. The best kind.

After the museum, we stopped at our favourite sushi restaurant.

deco misoYum. What a perfect way to end our little day trip!

Now a few days before this, I did snap a few more photos of Deco in good light for you to see. I am quite smitten with how it’s turned out.

deco closed flatEverything came together so nicely with this sweater…

deco detail buttonsFrom the very lovely Sweet Georgia Superwash DK in Riptide to the set of beautiful handmade wooden buttons from anthonyswoodshop on Etsy. These are rosewood and really just a perfect fit for this sweater.

deco detail buttons and ribbonI also managed to find a really fun, amazingly well-matching ribbon for the inside detail at my local craft box store. After a few speed bumps at the start, I perfected my blind stitch installing it.

deco flat, openHere’s another photo to show you where that ribbon is placed…

foldedAnd a little pic of the back.

As always with Kate Davies’ designs, this sweater was a bit challenging to knit as it uses some more advanced techniques and requires more from the knitter as far as knitting know-how and understanding the big picture of the sweater. Thanks to her background, like all her designs, Deco is inspired by historical stylings & has a classic, timeless quality.  With an undeniably impeccable fit and beautiful details, this sweater will be used for years to come. In my mind, I look down that corridor in the Chazen and see how this lovely piece could flawlessly transcend time just as the works displayed.

 Now the only question that remains is which of her sweater designs will I knit next? Maybe this one… or this one… or this one?

Thank goodness they do indeed transcend time, for it may be a bit before I get to them. I will, however, continue to look forward to the chance to begin… hopefully soon.

To see my notes on this pattern, you can check out my Ravelry project page.

A Little Healing Magic

It was a whirlwind trip 4hours northwest of my house for the services for my aunt — we drove up on Thursday after school & work and headed back Friday afternoon so my husband could be back to work today. I was glad we were able to be there, though, as my kids were a great distraction and comfort. After breakfast Friday morning, my daughter opted for a game in which she ran between every member of the family giving hugs. My son, of course, was a bit more stoic. Watching him shed tears was very hard. He has the biggest heart & so much compassion — I know he was feeling the pain of the sons who just lost their mum. I am so proud of these little souls for what they gave my mom and her family at this sad time.

Contrary to my expectation, despite 8hours in the car I did not knit a stitch over the two days. Normally it is my go-to stress reliever, my constant companion. This, somehow, was different. There was no consolation in the familiar. Instead, I volunteered to drive the whole way up and part of the way back. Early Friday morning, I pulled out the sock on which I’ve been working on & off only to discover this…

20131012-102804.jpgI had forgotten that I used the needles from this project on my Deco sleeve caps & never replaced them. I pulled out my Deco project bag, but couldn’t bring myself to go any further. I don’t really believe in signs of the supernatural variety, but I took the hint anyways and just let the knitting be.  Instead I visited with family, watched my kids swim in the pool, listened a lot, and gave hugs with no distraction, with no comfort from my craft. Some times, some moments are beyond the comforting powers of the needles.

After the long drive home, I went to sleep early & feel mostly refreshed this morning. While the effects of this week’s events will only slowly unfold over time, all the family members have gone back to their own homes & lives. For me, I think it is time to re-open this bag…

20131012-104349.jpgAnd let my needles work a little of their healing magic.

Spin me. Spin me.

I had an early wake-up call this morning from a sick little girl who couldn’t stop coughing. I knew there was something coming yesterday so I followed my dad’s advice and we spent a good deal of time outside in the fresh air. He swears by the fact that if you feel under the weather the best medicine includes a healthy dose of fresh air, the colder the better. We had some nice brisk air — really it was a picture perfect autumn day — so while the kids played, I snapped some pictures.

20131006-124849.jpgOur Jerusalem Artichokes. They have struggled the latter part of the growing season — very dry conditions now followed by a very wet week — but they are still managing to bloom. For those who don’t know, these grow about 8-10 feet tall and their roots are edible — kind of like a potato.

20131006-124924.jpgSome of our gooseberry shrubs are turning a radiant red.

20131006-124943.jpgAnd the sedum a friend split for me from her yard are doing wonderfully… even the one the dog dug up for reasons unknown.

20131006-125006.jpg After peeling around the yard — he was so excited to be able to run outside after days of rain — Moose kindly tested the weatherizing of our deck. The water is beading up, so I think that means success.

20131006-124907.jpgAfter his quality control duties were complete, he grabbed his soup bone, found a sunbeam, and delighted in the fresh air.

20131006-124831.jpgI did much the same, just minus the bone and plus some knitting. I finished up the second sleeve cap on my Deco and have started the decreases on the sleeve. I had some further incentive from a couple different sources to wrap up this knit asap. First, I was tempted by a knitting/spinning friend to check out The Plucky Knitter‘s latest update. I have never knit with her yarns, but people are bananas for her stuff & I kind of want to see what all the hype is about.  Her updates notoriously sell out in minutes — I’m not kidding, minutes — so I wanted to see how it all works should I ever actually try to purchase from her. She did an event at Cream City Yarn earlier this year and while I couldn’t attend, I’m kind of hopeful they do it again so I can shop in person. In the meantime, you can bet I will have my eye on those updates!

My other bit of incentive came by way of my September installment of the Cloudlover Fiber Club.

20131007-073652.jpgCan you hear it?

Spin me.

Spin me.

I may be loosing it.

I also caught wind that Natalie is dying more of her Nightmare Before Christmas inspired colorways. They are fantastic, as usual. Ragdoll, Zero, Sandy Claws, This is Halloween. Oh, and don’t forget Harvest Moon… or, you know, all the rest of the Cloudlover fiber & yarns. I swear her shop is dangerous. You should go there immediately.

I, on the other hand, need to go snuggle a sick girl. And knit a sleeve so the fiber stops talking me.