10 Days of Quiet

I had the best intentions to keep this space up over the last week and a half. “I have a backlog of FOs to share,” I told myself. “I’ll use this time to periodically catch up on all of those,” I said. “I can share bits and pieces of what’s on my needles and my wheel,” I thought. It didn’t work. None of it did. Hence, crickets for 10 days.

You see, I had a private project I needed to work on that was destined to stay behind the scenes and I thought I could balance the secret work with everything else. Truth be told, though, I’m not great with balancing things like this. When I have a deadline, I am nose to the grindstone, a total maniac of tunnel vision. It’s not that I can’t work on multiple projects at a time, it’s just that if it’s time sensitive and there is work to be done I really struggle to step away from a project. It makes for an incredible ability to see projects through, but can really muck up a regular schedule. Add on top of this that my son’s birthday took place over this weekend and we were hosting family for it, so there was planning and cooking and baking involved in that. Hence, those 10 days just slipped past me.  Ah, hence.

Today, on the other side of both the birthday and the behind-the-scenes project, I am sitting here, a little groggy, wondering where exactly to start. After such an unhinged pursuit to finish the other project combined with the clinging chocolate-brownie-chocolate cake sugar coma from yesterday, I have been daydreaming about just turning the computer off and taking a nap. As the blank page stares at me and the cursor blinks unrelentingly, I am tempted. I know that picking up after a break from this space is just like riding a bicycle, but in order to ride the bicycle, you need to — you know — get on the bicycle and start pedaling. I suppose that means I just need to start typing and share a bit of what the last 10 days has involved.

I could tell you about how green it is here now.

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Mr. Knitting Sarah and I stole a quick break for a hike last week. It was serene and beautiful. I watched a juvenile Wood Duck learning to swim with all exaggerated, awkward movements. And I spotted this perfectly imperfect daisy…

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I love how all wildflowers are perfectly imperfect. Sometime after seeing this flower and the Wood Duck swimming, the mosquitoes lifted us up and carried us out of the marsh and back to the car. They are large and they are many this year.

In our own yard, we have at least our one Blue Jay nest and one Robin nest as well as a Robin nest we can clearly see across the way. Whether from one of these nests or some other nearby, Mr. Knitting Sarah caught this photo of a baby Robin who was squawking & hopping about in our backyard…

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Such a proud little one he is!

While the Blue Jay babes appear to be hatched, they remain in the nest, silent and doted on by equally silent parents. Silent until crows or other predators are nearby and then they are relentless in chasing them off. Thankfully, they don’t seem to mind me putzing around a bit in the backyard. I take that as the highest of compliments. In addition to our birds, we also had a fox visit the yard and we caught a glimpse of him a second time the following day.  What a delight, this place where we live is!

In between all the hubbub of baby birds and fox and mosquitoes and birthday prep and celebration, I did finish some socks.

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Nothing outside the norm for me…

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Just a simple pair of Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Socks for my husband. I started them back in March and — honestly — after finishing the private project, I just didn’t have it me to start something new yet, so I went to this project and just worked on it. So familiar this mindless task, it was just what I needed.

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Alas, they are done, and it is time to start moving forward again in a real way. Cast-on something new, get plying my spinning projects that are ready to be plied — you know the drill. The spinning has been easy to ease back into, but I’m having trouble finding the right knitting project. The next couple days will be about knocking those cobwebs out and reacquiring that mojo. I am a little stuck with where to start, but I’m sure it’ll come to me…

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Moose, however, thinks I should reconsider that nap, no matter how ridiculous. I think he’s going to have to just accept napping nearby for the both of us though, while I get to work. For I am sure I have yarn to wind, a cast-on on the horizon, and those FOs are not sharing themselves! It’s time to get back at it!

Hey Ho FO

An Instagram spinning friend coined the hashtag #heyhofo on one of her finished projects a while back and it’s become a thing. Not like a worldwide, viral kind of thing, but a thing that brings at least the two of us great joy. OK, I don’t know that for a fact. It brings me great joy. She may be pulling a “that lady seems like she might be crazy so I will just smile and nod” — I really don’t know. But I do know #heyhofo makes me smile every time, so I’m using it today here to share my latest FO, my sock blank socks!

You’ll remember I shared these couple weeks ago…

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I received the sock blank as a Christmas gift and when I finished a pair of socks earlier this month, I cast these on. They are the first sock blank socks that I’ve knit, although not my first sock blank, of course. I have at least 3 others from other dyers in my stash. This one I had not yet tucked in with the rest of the stash, though, so I pulled it out and went for it.

This is a double knit sock blank from Gale’s Art. For those wondering, there are double knit sock blanks and single knit sock blanks. Double knit blanks are machine knit holding two strands together, so when the dyer dyes, the two strands match allowing you to knit two matching socks at a time. Single knit sock blanks are machine knit with a single strand, so generally speaking you knit one sock at a time and the socks likely will not match. Knitters in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry group and here in the comments have shared ways you could get around — for example — knitting two at a time by winding off the blanks into separate skeins. It would totally work, but I can guarantee that personally I have zero patience for that. If I’m presented with knitting I can either knit from directly or wind-off to knit from a center-pull ball, 9.9 times out of 10 I will knit directly from it. I like to think of it as efficiency, but it may in reality be laziness, plain and simple.

But let’s not get caught up in semantics.

As I said, this one was a double sock blank and I — being me, driven by my me-ness —  knit them two at a time with magic loop straight from the blank…

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And so they match!

They were really a fun knit that I actually struggled to put down. I found knitting from the blank a lot like knitting self-striping yarn. The promise of the next color or design really compelled me forward through the project.

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I didn’t block them perfectly, but I did handwash them with a glug of vinegar (just to be cautious about possible bleeding with  the red on white in there) and then used a low heat dryer to get the natural kink out of the yarn from being in the sock blank. The instructions say handwash & dry flat is recommended for washing, but I felt fairly confidant the 75/25 superwash merino/nylon could take the dryer to speed up the finish time and better relax those stitches so I threw caution to the wind.

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They washed up great! I mean, they could use a little steam, but that’s beside the point — the handled the dryer just fine.

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The colorway is named “Christmas Tree” and I really like that it’s Christmas-y, but not so Christmas-y that I can’t wear them year round and not feel like that lady. You know, the one people think seems like she might be crazy because she’s wearing Christmas socks in May so they just smile and nod a lot at her.

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Nope, I’m not that lady… I don’t think. Let’s pretend I’m not anyway. Just for now.

Anyways…

There’s another #heyhofo in the books and another pair of socks is in my sock drawer! I’m super ahead of the game for the holiday season this year with these not-so-Christmas-y Christmas socks, right?! I might be a little over-excited about that little fact and about getting to use #heyhofo on Instagram later today. It’s ok, just smile & nod. I know I deserve it!

Thawing Winter into Spring

The sun is popping out in fits and spurts today despite constant snow flurries. While it’s true that we are fairing much better than our friends on the east coast as we begin the slow and steady process of edging out of winter and into spring, the Feb-blah-ary feeling I wrote about last month remains to a certain extent. We are enjoying slightly warmer temps and the snow is starting to melt… img_0169

But it is still covering a fair bit of the landscape. It’s wet and slushy when we go out for hikes and while the wind can be cold, the sun definitely feels warmer now. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

My parents visited for the weekend. Between the snowy weather and our busy schedule, we haven’t seen much of them lately, so it was nice to have a visit. Of course the company changes how much time I have to craft, but I do still have some progress photos to share with you!

Remember my sock blank socks?

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They are coming right along. I’m probably about 6″ up the leg at this point. I’m still really enjoying them and having fun knitting from the blank. I pick them up almost every morning and every evening for at least a few rounds. I’m thinking I’ll knit another inch or two and then add on the ribbing and cast-off. I won’t use up the entire blank because 460yards is just more sock than I need, so I’ll have to figure out what I have leftover when the time comes and see what I can do with it. It seems a shame to waste such fun yarn!

In my spinning life, I’ve been working on this…

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This is Calendula Flowers on 60/40 Polwarth/Silk from Three Waters Farm. Spinning these colors so reminds me of spinning on my porch in the sunshine — such a wonderful vibe right now! I’m working on spinning this as a stand-alone singles yarn. I say “working on” because it’s definitely a steep learning curve because of the fiber blend and the fact that I’ve been spinning it somewhat thin. From what I can tell, it’s looking like it’ll all work out in the finishing, but time will tell! I have 8oz of fiber for this project and I’m about halfway through it. After a slow and unsteady start, I’m really in a groove with it now, so I should be able to wrap it up this week.

Speaking of wrapping things up…

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These skeins are finished and sitting on my desk, waiting for some glamour shots and a few kind words.

Another things that’s done…

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…is Moose.

He’s so tired from running through slush and daylight savings havoc that he could not even be bothered to take up his usual place on the couch. The other day I found his big puppy dog eyes looking up at me from my chair (also known as the one piece of furniture he’s not supposed to be on). Can’t he please just stay and sleep in this nice comfy chair?! Of course, I let him stay there until he felt like moving. Those eyes can thaw even the fiercest determination. If only they could thaw this winter into spring!

 

You’re Knitting… From Your Knitting?

Late last week I finished up some socks for Mr Knitting Sarah. I’d started them for the drive and subsequent waterpark adventure with the kiddos and then finished them off a few days later. I tend to use DK weight for his socks, so despite his size 12 foot they fly off the needles.

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They are the usual socks I knit for him — Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Basic Sock pattern, but I use the fingering weight instructions with the DK weight yarn & US 2.5 needles. Every time I try to convince him to let me try a different heel or yarn I am met with extreme resistance, so I bought almost every color of the Regia Musée 6-ply yarn line (this line contains the elusive consistently Mr KS approved colors) and am slowly working my way through it. When I started these, Mr KS looked at them and just said, “Are those for me? They look like my colors.” He certainly knows the score!

For his standard socks, I work about an inch or so of 1×1 ribbing at the cuff, then switch to 2×2 for the remainder of the sock. The pattern has a very basic heel flap & gusset heel. I’ve been working this pattern for nearly a decade so beyond a couple quick references from the screen shots I have of my pattern on my phone, I generally don’t bother to even carry the pattern with me.

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Oh, and I carry the 2×2 down the top of the foot…

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It makes for a more flexible fit and easier on & off for the socks. And that is that, another  pair of standard Mr Knitting Sarah socks, done!

On a side note, last week I actually wound up showing these socks to some of  Mr KS’s co-workers. Whenever we have new people visit our home, the knitting always comes up as a topic of conversation at some point because our living room is filled with yarn and — as one colleague put it — “pre-yarn”. It is kind of funny to try to explain that the vast majority of Mr KS’s socks are custom made. It’s such a standard in our home that sometimes I forget that it’s not the norm. Mr KS had to explain, “Some people have personal tailors. I have a personal knitter.” I think that may be more rare, or at least a little more weird (in an awesome way, of course)!

With these socks sliding into the FO column, I spent a few days just spinning and working on my handspun Brillig.

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I am really loving this project, but I’m also well aware that I’m quickly running out of blue yarn…

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Normally I would just stop when I run out and be done with it, but I want to complete the color repeats of the African Sunset colorway. To do so, of course, I am more than likely going to need more of the Iron Blue (both colors are from Three Waters Farm, by the way). I have more in my stash, but it needs to be spun and I’m currently in my singles yarn mode, so…

 

I started these socks! I got this Gale’s Art sock blank as a Christmas gift and I thought the greens would be fun to knit (did I mention is snowed about 5″ last night here?). This is actually my first ever sock blank — I have a couple in my stash, but I had yet to crack into one.

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I. Am. Loving. It.  

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For those who aren’t aware, a sock blank is basically a skein of white yarn that is machine knitted into a rectangle. Dyers can then easily create stripes, use stencils, hand-paint, or use whatever method is theirs for applying color.

They can be single knit or double knit to make matching or fraternal socks and you just knit from the ends of the fabric, like so…

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Some people will wind the yarn into a ball first, but I’m way too impatient for that. I just cast-on my stitches and – zoom! — off I went! I’m finding it super addictive as I’m so excited to get to the next color or to see how each stencil plays with each stripe of color.

As I was knitting away the other night, Mr KS walked past me and cocked his head, confused. True, this happens a lot, but that’s beside the point. Looking at the blank and then my needles and back again, he said, “Are you knitting… from your knitting?”

“Why, yes. Yes, I am,” I responded and proceeded to explain the concept of a sock blank to him.

“Well, this is new,” he replied and kind of chuckled to himself, clearly amused and perplexed by this development. “Way to keep things weird.”

It just goes to show that after 15 years of knitting I can still find new and weird things to bring into the house. You thought custom knitting socks was novel, now I’m knitting… from my knitting. I can’t wait to try to explain that to some poor, unsuspecting non-knitters soon!

 

Forty-Seven Handknit Socks

I have 47 handknit socks currently drying on a rack in my basement.

Just for a moment, let’s overlook the sheer number of handknit socks in my house. In addition to the 47 (socks, not pairs of socks, just to be clear) drying, there are currently 2 freshly dirty ones to wash up, one on each of my feet, and who knows how many currently residing in my cedar chest still clean. So yeah, let’s set the fact of the sock largesse aside for a moment and consider this:

I have forty-seven socks currently drying.

Not 46. Not 48.

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Something is not quite right with this picture.

After counting them last night and then re-counting them, I just kind of tilted my head, confused, and then I started chuckling a bit to myself. The 48th sock is here somewhere, of that I’m sure. I just don’t know exactly where right now. There’s a metaphor for my life in there somewhere — everything is good, the holiday is going to be great, I just happen to be temporarily one sock short.

I especially feel “a sock short” at the moment as I’m coming down with a cold or fighting a low-level one or something and my head is a little foggy. But I’m persevering nonetheless, as we do this time of year.

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I’m forging into sock number two of Mr Knitting Sarah’s Christmas socks. I’m feeling confidant enough in finishing on time, in fact, that I spent the better part of last night plying…

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This is pretty much as full as this bobbin can get. In fact, the wheel did a bit of disagreeing with me as we got toward the end, so the last bits are a little unevenly plied. It’s not perfect, but perfect enough that washing and setting it should even things out well enough. For those curious, this is Granite from Three Waters Farm on a 60/40 Polwarth + Silk base and it’s one of the prettiest neutrals I’ve had the pleasure to spin.

For good measure, I pulled this off the wheel straight away and got the next plying project started…

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This is also from Three Waters Farm, called Moving in Circles and this is a Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk blend — the colorway link will take you to a 60/40 Polwarth + Silk blend. It is pretty breathtaking and it’s definitely going to be hard to step away from.

On a very happy, holiday-y note, I did receive a couple treats in the mail yesterday. I’ve been on the fence about Fringe Supply Co bags for a very long time. I know they’re very nice, but they are pricey and I’ve just never been able to justify the purchase. Over the weekend I noted that Firefly Fibers — my once-upon another lifetime LYS — was offering them at a 10% discount, so I jumped.

Yesterday I received my black Porter Bin…

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I imagine using this to hold prepped fiber for upcoming projects. I have an extra special plan for this, but the second part of it is still en route. Updates to come when part two arrives, of course.

I also got one of the new Waxed Canvas Plaid Field Bags

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I love waxed canvas — it’s so practical for my lifestyle, just like the size and design of the bag, and these colors are just me.

It also just so happens that once I finished Mr. Knitting Sarah’s socks, even though I have other WIPs to attend to, I’m hoping to cast on this…

img_9146A gift from a good friend, this was also the last knitalong from Firefly Fibers. I’m too late to participate, but I’m excited to work on it nonetheless. I have a laundry list of projects that I want to get to in the new year, but this one — because it’s a gift and such a pretty blue tweed — it just feels like pure luxury.

And this lady, with 47 handknit socks drying — not 46 or 48 — could use a little something that is just a treat, pure and simple.

Communing with Ents & Other Things

We had a busy weekend in the very best of ways. Saturday, started with two inches of fresh snow so the kids raced outside to build snowmen from the super wet snow before it was doomed to melt later in the day. I got bunches of work and cleaning finished. Most impressively though I got the pom on that hat I mentioned last week. I’m hoping to get a post up about that later this week.

Once I waded through the less fun & exciting tasks, I took some time to wind yarn for a first pair of Christmas socks and got the foot measurements of certain future handknit sock owners so I could do some math and get going. I used a basic custom toe-up formula and plan to utilize the Fish Lips Kiss heel and — get this — I am taking notes as I go so I know how I made them. I know, I know. Pick your jaws up off the floor! I’m really doing it!

Since they’re stockinette, I’ve just been working on them a bit before bed and a bit right when I wake up and here and there in between.

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And I’ve been making great progress. I think I’ve got 2-2.5″ left to go before the heel (and that’s saying something because these are for size 11-11.5 men’s feet). I’m loving this whole yarn wound into separate balls for each socks — it definitely makes me less weird about getting bogged down in toe-up socks land. I may have to wind for individual socks more often! I also need to mention that this is my first time using Turtlepurl Yarns and I am IN LOVE with the base as well as the colors. It’s just a treat to knit.

I also finished up spinning the singles of my Three Waters Farm Polwarth + Silk 60/40 fiber in the Granite colorway.

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This colorway is another thing I’m super IN LOVE with. It’s seriously just like granite — with that silvery grey and subdued bronze-y-ness. Just yum.

I prepped the color I intend to weave with Granite straight away…

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This is Moving in Circles, also from Three Waters Farm, on the Merino/Superwash Merino/Silk 40/40/20 base. I didn’t get to start it right away though as another adventure was in store…

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My family and I had a date with this deep, dark forest. Mr Knitting Sarah tracked down this forest about an hour north of our house. The Gerstberger Pines County Park is home to some very old trees and especially on this dark, foggy morning it had all the feelings of amazing and slightly creepy that comes with forests that have been around since the last ice age.

With some pines and hemlocks that have been standing for as long as 200 years, it was a majestic place and had that feeling of holding a lot of secrets that come with being around for two centuries.

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Moose tried his very best to blend with this place’s majesty and was listening closely to what the forest had to say.

The canopy in places is substantial and much of the ground is damp and moss covered…

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You can see that not even all the snow has melted yet on the forest floor.

It’s a favorite haunt of Pileated Woodpeckers.

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We didn’t see any, just flocks of chickadees at the end of our hike, but they’ve certainly left their mark with the trees.

And with the dampness, of course…

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There is plenty of wild plant and fungi around.

The trees were the real stars of the show though…

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Some of them with over a foot in circumference and over a hundred feet tall. Whether there were quiet predators observing from a safe place or it was just the ancient trees, it was hard to not feel like we were being watched. Like I said, it was slightly creepy and amazing. A new favorite spot for us; to commune with the Ents, to remember that grand scale of time, and to be reminded that we are kind of small in the grand scheme of the world.

We drove up to a small town nearby for lunch and saw Buffleheads on the neighboring lake while Moose snored away in the van. And then, full of good food, humbled by the ancient trees, and ready to be in the comfort of our home and out of the cold misty air, we journeyed back to our little cozy home.

When we got home, everyone went back to their rooms to reflect and relax and I, I dug into that freshly prepped fiber…

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And I kept going until there was just a fraction of an ounce left of the first half, the portion set aside for the first bobbin.

All in all, what a wonderful weekend. Full of just the right amounts of adventure, chores, family time, Ents, and craft. For us, there’s no better way to recharge the ‘ol batteries and be ready to go for another week.