Another Instant Classic: Togue Pond

I’ve come to really love handknit linen tops. A couple years ago I knit the Kit Camisole in Quince & Co Sparrow and it’s still one of my favorites. This year I decided to add to my linen wardrobe with Quince & Co’s Kestrel and knit up Pam Allen’s Togue Pond.

Kestrel is a unique yarn. It’s the same Belgian-grown organic linen they use to make Sparrow, but it’s spun in a ribbon structure to create a worsted weight yarn. As a heavier weight yarn it knits up quickly, but it still feels light and cool when you’re wearing the finished garment. It does feel a bit coarse at first, but once this yarn is washed it just comes alive becoming very soft and with drape to spare.

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I started this project on the back porch of our rented cabin in South Dakota. You probably remember that — it was after the tent broke and we ‘camped’ in our 4door hatchback and our stove died. As the magpies flew back and forth across the field and I unwound from all the excitement of the previous days, I cast-on my Togue Pond in the pebble colorway.

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It was excellent car knitting on the drive home, too.

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And even with a few little boo-boos thanks to my misreading the pattern…

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It was finished and in the bath in just 10days.

Then, of course, there was the requisite waiting for the combination of good weather & being with my husband and my Togue Pond in a picturesque enough spot to take some photos.

In the mean time, I snapped a couple detail photos…

toguePonddetailThere really aren’t a lot of distinct details in this project beyond the decreases on the back armhole…

tongueponddetail1And the front armhole. The ribbed edging is basic, but just enough to give it a classic look and keep the edges from rolling. There is a slightly curved hem that I think is best illustrated when worn…

ToguePondIt is shown in the pattern photos with an inch of negative ease whereas mine has about an inch of positive ease. To go down a size would have put me in the two inches of negative ease ballpark and I am a very big fan of loose, drapey summer tops, so I went with the slightly large size. I went just a smidge long in the body and it’s definitely roomy, but as promised the Kestrel delivered wonderful drape making this an effortlessly wearable piece for my wardrobe.

I knit and blocked this top to gauge, but it is a bit see-through for me to wear out and about so I threw on a lightweight cami underneath and was comfortable both in how it looked an how it felt. It’s everything I’ve come to expect from the Quince & Co team in both yarn and design — it’s a quality yarn that will last and wear beautifully and a classic design that I know I’ll wear for years to come.

I stashed a few more skeins of Kestrel in the urchin colorway — a beautiful slate-y green — that I have dog-eared for a Hamlin Peak sweater. I also find myself thinking of the Sparrow I stashed a while ago and knitting that up into a Palmyra top. I may not get to these for a while, but I’m coming to believe that these pieces are seasonless. I’m pretty sure I can’t go wrong with linen!

In the Badlands: The Final Two Hikes

Warm and clean and with a good night’s sleep under our belts, we decided to undertake the Notch Trail after our first night in the cozy cabins of Cedar Pass Lodge. The recent rains had awoken a number of wildflowers…

IMG_8965Which brightened our hikes immensely and kept us from being too disappointed in the near constant threat of rain.

Now the Notch Trail has some somewhat steep drop-offs and requires a trip up and down this fantastic ladder…

IMG_9009… but we were rewarded for our bravery and exertion (it really isn’t as steep as it looks) with a secluded canyon all to ourselves and some more spectacular views…

That’s me, getting a healthy dose of perspective and looking for Townsend’s Solitaires.

My son, he gave this particular hike…

IMG_8994Two thumbs up.

As we wound up this hike, it started to rain again and we headed to the infamous Wall Drug for lunch and I was treated to a famous cup of 5cent coffee and a delicious pecan roll.

IMG_9034Really, these are so incredibly good — De-lish!

The following morning brought more rain, but since it was our last full day and we had the warm cabin to return to, we decided that we’d go for another hike. Little did I know, the clay-y mud would make the hiking roughly like ice skating. On mud. We had fun with it though…

This camper was ecstatic that she had earned her own hiking stick this trip and was having an absolute blast, yelling out things like ‘Mind the chasm!’ when there were big drops to avoid and ‘Happy Birthday, Little River!’ for all the little run-offs streams.

No one does cold-rainy-mud-hike quite like us!

Of course it was not all fun and games when this one decided to try her hand at ‘mud-skiing’…

It was all excitement here…

Then the sliding happened…

And the full on mud-tumble…

IMG_9045Followed by sobs of embarrassment and anger at her failed attempt (and muffled hysterical laughter from the rest of us). The full coat of head-to-toe mud she now sported did not help her mood. Thankfully, the very, very sweet Mr Knitting Sarah picked her up and carried her back the one or two miles we were from the car. I am impressed because mud-skating with a 50lb kid on your shoulders cannot be easy. The rain was actually pretty cold though so giving her a lift got us to car a lot quicker than if we’d have had her trudge it out. We delivered her straight to the warm shower and final fresh pair of pants she had. Clean, dry, and warmed up we went back for another lunch at Wall Drug after which the little lady & I went to the bookstore…

IMG_9039Twice.

My girl is a voracious reader and after a little lobbying she got to pick a chapter book on Sacagawea for the ride home. She’d already read the 3 chapter books we’d brought for her, so it was really only fair.

We drove slowly back to the cabin, enjoying the brilliant colors of the Badlands one last time…

The colors are made more intense by rain and it was kind of the perfect end to our trip, to see this gorgeous place all lit up.

We awoke early the following morning, packed up, and headed East toward the sunrise, toward home. And I clicked away on my Togue Pond

IMG_9044For which I’m very excited to report is knitting up quickly and was a most excellent car knitting project. It turns out the 1700+ yards of yarn I wound and carried on the trip was maybe just a little bit overkill…

IMG_8752-0But at least I didn’t run out while I was on the road.

And now? Now we’re home. We’re tired and a little sore and a little sad that this grand and extremely memorable adventure is over. For as much as I love to laugh at all the mishaps and mayhem we experienced on this trip, I can honestly say it was the time of my life. I’ve never had more fun and I’ve never loved my little band of misfits more.

So strong…

So adventurous…

So beyond their years in leadership & maturity…

And… well, and so fun…

To an extent, we go on these adventures in search of something. Freedom. Peace. Challenges. Perspective. This trip provided all these things and we did our best to meet each of them with good humor. And while perching on the edge of a cliff staring out at miles of rolling plains or sharing space with a 2-ton beast that is giving you the stink eye certainly serves up a healthy dose of perspective in an instant, I don’t think any landscape or hike could make a person more humble or feel more lucky than spending a week with 3 such amazing people and, of course, Moose. To be a part of this group, is to be a part of something truly extraordinary.

We’re busily planning our next two big adventures — one up near the Boundary Waters and one to Glacier National Park (and if you think I am ridiculous about being wary of bison, just wait until you hear my thoughts on vacationing in grizzly bear country). We’re checking out trails and fishing gear and pricing new camp stoves and figuring if we can use a tent we already have. And I am, of course, starting to think about what yarn I’m going to bring. Most of all, though, I cannot wait to be in those moments, making those memories with my favorite people (and dog) on Earth.

In the Badlands: It Was a Rather Blustery Day

Day two in the Badlands started here…

IMG_8793What a peaceful start to the day.

Once the sun was up, we hustled for a short hike up the hills behind camp. The view from the top looked like this…

IMG_8799You can pretty much see forever. And there were gorgeous rocks, like this…IMG_8797… with whose loose bits I built a small cairn…IMG_9041Of course.

I also found evidence of the ever-present bison…

IMG_8804I’m pretty sure they stopped at this overlook to gaze at our campsite and vibe me. Or to look for fresh sprouts to munch on. One or the other. For those who haven’t been in the presence of the great American Bison, they are big. They are generally 6-12ft long, up to 6ft + tall, and weigh anywhere from 700 to 2,000lbs. I tried to take a photo of all four hoof prints of this set of tracks, but there was no way to do so and also get my foot in the photo for scale. And for such large beasts, they are actually quite nimble which in my opinion is equal parts cool and disconcerting.

We spent a good hour tramping around the surrounding hills, occasionally stopping to call for coyotes…

Our youngest is the most particular about how to properly call coyotes. For such a young kid, she’s pretty darn good at it.

The temps started rising, so it was time to get back to the car for the pup. As I mentioned yesterday, dogs aren’t allowed on trails or in the back country in national parks, so if we all go off hiking our Moose waits in the car. Of course, this can’t happen if temps are warm, so when that’s the case my hubby & I take turns hanging out with him while the other hikes and plays with the kids. Honestly, if he wasn’t such an extremely good car dog (he goes pretty much everywhere with us, weather permitting) and wasn’t so clearly happy just to be with the family, we’d have boarded him for this trip. He is part of the family, though, and with the exception of this first full day in the park it was slated to be cool enough for him to hang in the car with no worries. He’s not a huge fan of camping (he’s kind of indoorsy), but he’s happy & relaxed enough just being with us…

IMG_8836So we took turns babysitting this big lug while the other hiked.

The kids & I spent a fair bit of time running around here…

IMG_8843And I played with the panoramic function on my new phone.

IMG_8842And when my leg tired, my hubby took the kiddos on a slightly longer hike along some game trails…

While the dog & I enjoyed the glory of the sunshade…

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And I cast-on a new project…

IMG_8839Togue Pond by Pam Allen in Quince & Co’s Kestrel. It turned out very appropriate as we probably saw somewhere around 75 kestrels in the park. This bird, however, is a nemesis for us when it comes to photography.IMG_9021This is pretty much what we get when we try to take photos of this beautiful bird. They tend to fly as soon as we get the camera out as evidenced by this photo, so for an actual photo where you can really see there bird, click here.

Now we did know that we had a wind advisory and it was clear that it was very (read: VERY) windy. We headed back to camp somewhat early because we thought there was a fair chance that despite lashing it down very well, the wind might blow the tent away a little. As we drove up, we were relieved to find the tent in place. The relief was short-lived, however, as there was tent flapping where there should be no flapping, so we knew something was wrong. It turns out the high winds had literally snapped one of our metal tent poles and grossly bent 2 others. After brief attempts with the mini-sledge hammer to straighten the bent poles and using our resources to try splint the broken pole, we admitted defeat. The zipper had had issues in the morning, too, so the tent was just beyond repairing. My husband headed into the collapsed tent to recover our things.

IMG_8833Poor sad broken tent!

We had a few options — including making an hour drive to Rapid City to buy a new tent — but at the end of the day, we did some creative reorganization and turned out 4-door hatchback into a mini-camper. This exercise was actually really fun and surprisingly not as uncomfortable as you might think.

The following day had much cooler temps and we enjoyed more hiking & wildlife viewing including…

Bighorn Sheep,

A coyote basking in the sun, numerous birds, mule deer, antelope, and more bison.

IMG_8855Rain loomed, however, and as it started to fall we decided to drive into the town of Wall for some dinner and to hopefully see a badger out and about as darkness started to fall on the drive back to camp. We saw no badgers, but it did rain rather heavily that night and it was chilly. The possibility of snow was not out of the question, but thankfully did not materialize. Making lemonade with our lemons, we agreed that in this second night in our improvised mini-camper that it wasa wonderfully  water-tight shelter.

Unfortunately this cold, wet morning was when our camp stove died.

To be continued…

Catching Up & Looking Ahead

As you may have noticed, this week has been about catching up. I’ve been woefully behind in sharing finished projects since — eek! — the beginning of the year. I’m getting close to caught up though, my dear friends. I am getting close. I have a bit of a traffic jam on the blocking mats at the moment, as usual, with my Saugerties shrug drying and my Artesian shawl patiently waiting for its turn. With any luck, by the time these dry I’ll have another pair of socks finished and a skein of yarn spun.

And then what?

How do you go about choosing your next projects? For me, I always have a running, sliding queue in my head. I think about what I want to work on a lot at random times throughout my days and I kind of let the world around me saturate my decision making. I would say that what ends up on my needles and wheel at any given time is two-thirds planned and one-third impulse. This ratio allows me the freedom to be inspired & spontaneous, but the direction and guidelineshelp me to avoid lulls in productivity and because my choices are always fresh it keeps me finishing things. In short, it’s a system that works for me and I’m thankful I can just go with it.

This week, we woke up to fresh snow two days in a row and are in discussions about a Northern Minnesota vacation this summer, so the idea of an extra warm & squishy (not to mention quick to knit) sweater was on my mind. The possibility of Musubi by Mel Ski of the With∞‍Mel blog has been ruminating in my mind since it came out last month. I really like the tone of the With∞‍Mel blog and find it to be a great spot for inspiration. It just so happened that the perfect storm of store credit & a 40% of closeout sale from Eat.Sleep.Knit landed this on my doorstep earlier this week…

IMG_8585Just enough Dream in Color Groovy (100% superwash merino) to knit myself of Musubi. It is in the Mild Tedium colorway that is anything but tedious. It is a subtle, sandy rust mixed with a foamy green and a soft, warm sky blue. It is the beach & ocean in the morning. It will be my Musubi.

I’ve also been thinking and planning for this skein…

IMG_8588A gift sent from one of the kindest knitters in Maine, I’ve had some trouble settling in on what exactly I want to do with it. This String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn from Blue Hill, Maine is a lovely, lovely teal-y blue and part of me just wants to let it stand-alone with a simple pattern, maybe even just vanilla socks. The other part of me is thinking something like Tanis Lavallee’s Smokestack Socks or Cookie A’s Elm. It will definitely be socks though. Definitely.

I also recently acquired this skein from my subscription to The Golden Skein

For which I have no ideas, but I just really, really want to knit with it because it is divine. And when I say divine, I mean I would not be surprised in the least to discover that it indeed have arrived straight from God to Switzerland to the UK to me. This skein of Siidegarte Siide-Quirlig is 70% silk + 30% seacell from Switzerland and quite literally one of the most luxurious things I’ve ever touched.

Then there are a few skeins of Quince & Co Kestrel in the Pebble colorway… IMG_8595that I’m obviously raring to get to as I’ve already wound some of it. I’ve been so happy with my Kit Camisole in Quince & Co Sparrow that I decided this should be the year I knit another linen piece. This Kestrel will be a Togue Pond tank.

These options are probably enough to consider, but after my latest shawl successes I’m thinking about another…

IMG_8603I’m kind of in love with prospect of the marriage of this Northbound Knitting Merino/Silk in the Autumn colorway and the Sparkleduck Nimbus (an absolutely lovely merino/yak/silk blend) in the Plumberry Compote colorway (exclusive for The Golden Skein) into a Laylow by Shannon Cook.

And then there’s this 50/50 silk/merino from Cloudlover in the Sashimi colorway…

IMG_8601for which I have no pattern in mind specifically, I just want to knit it into a shawl for my daughter. I have been toying with the idea of cabinfour’s Rosarium because I’ve been watching David (aka seattleknitterguy)’s progress on Instgram and I like that it’s a smallish shawl and I definitely like the sweet combination of garter and simple lace. I’m just not convinced it’s the right pattern for the yarn… I’m afraid the color variations won’t jive with the lace. I guess I’ll keep thinking on that one.

Now that I type out my latest ideas, I suppose that whole ‘let the world saturate my decision’ thing is pretty obvious. It is nearing the end of March and my ideas range from a bulky sweater to a linen tank. I suppose that’s the fun in looking ahead though and the joy of the last throes of winter/beginning of spring. Anything is possible. The world is my oyster. Every option is a plausible one. All that good stuff. I suppose I’d better get knitting… I don’t want my blocking mats to catch up to my knitting, now do I?!