The Next Chapter

It’s been almost a month since I said “to be continued” on part one of my vacation story. There’s good reason and I will get to that here today, but let me start today by finishing that story of our South Dakota vacation.

I left you with a severely dinged windshield that had also cracked and was spreading and Mr. Knitting Sarah promising to just “kick the window out like a Cowboy” if it decided to shatter or get much worse. Instead of this option, we decided to do something crazy: we called our insurance agent and set up an appointment to get the windshield replaced. Thankfully we were headed out of Wall & the Badlands to base out of Rapid City for the remainder of our week and we could get in before the long drive home to get the work done. We set the date for Friday morning.

With the plan in place, we packed up our Adventuremobile, the 2 kids, and the dogs and headed for Rapid City Wednesday morning. It was snowing again or still snowing (it’s hard to know which) and as we left early and wouldn’t be able to check in to our hotel room until 3pm, we grabbed snacks from a gas station with the intention of driving the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park, enjoy a hodge-podge picnic at Sylvan Lake, and head back to our hotel later that afternoon or evening.

It seems weird to see it now, but this was the drive in to Custer State Park on May 1st.

We stopped at the visitor center in the park where they seemed to think the roads would be passable for Wisconsin natives used to winter driving so we carried on with our plan and struck out on the Wildlife Loop.

We saw LOTS of brand new bison. None seemed very phased by the weather. We spotted some antelope and birds as well, but all in all the weather was formidable enough that we didn’t see a ton.

It was a beautiful drive up to Sylvan Lake though.

The picnic options, however, when we arrived were sub-optimal…

Unless you happened to be wearing snow pants (which we weren’t). We opted instead to hold on eating and go for a hike instead first since we had the lake to ourselves and the dogs really deserved a good romp. They both love snow so much and it would have been cruel not to.

Moose was contemplative because this:

Until Bear instigated some serious games of chase…

He had a lot of energy to burn off and got a lot of joy from the bonus snowy day and play with his big brother.

Knee-deep snow can’t stop us from a great time!

When we got back to the car, Bear really wanted to take the snow with him…

This is part of the reason we now bring extra towels with us whenever we take him somewhere. He is always trying to bring the outdoors inside with him one way or another.

We stopped for some delicious pizza at a little place in Hill City and by that point we could get into the hotel so we headed back toward Rapid City. As we descended out of the Black Hills, we were singing P!nk’s “Just Give Me a Reason” in true Carpool Karaoke style and just as Mr. KS hit his big note we heard this mysterious *crunch* from the back of the car. And then we hear our daughter, who was in the third row, say, “Uhhhh…. guys. Uhhh….”

The entire back windshield had shattered.

Now we joke that it was Mr. KS’ singing, but it was likely from previous rattling on dirt roads or pressure changes during the trip — who knows all we know is that it just went. Thanks to safety glass, it stayed in one piece for about a mile before chunks started falling off.

And just like that I was on the phone with our insurance agent again and then with the auto glass repair shop making a second appointment. Suddenly our last day of vacation on Friday was pretty booked.

We were not to be deterred though. Mr. KS got us all into the hotel and then struck out to the nearest store that sold heavy plastic and duct tape. Knowing we would be driving it around for a day before we could get it fixed, he got it as air and water tight as possible. Since we were losing Friday to auto glass repairs, he was not about to let Thursday escape without adventure.

It was loud and not exactly a relaxing drive, but we made it to our final big destination the next day…

It was a first time for the kiddos and it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day for it. The stress of the previous month, the car issues, and what was coming when we got home finally broke me a bit and I will admit there was some sloppy crying on my part at the empty Devil’s Tower Campground. It was cathartic though and I was thankful that Mr. KS was there to talk through it and just give me a hug. I was able to finally let the stress go and enjoy the afternoon and rest of the trip.

We took a brief detour to the Spearfish Canyon on the way back…

A place we’ll definitely be returning to to explore further.

The following morning, Mr. KS kindly offered to go in and handle the glass repairs while I sat with the kids and dogs in the hotel room.

Moose was ok with that.

So was Bear.

The repairs took most of Friday and by the time they were done, we went for a brief walk through a couple parks, grabbed some ice cream as a treat because now it was very warm and sunny (as opposed to freezing and snowy) and then just headed back for an early evening knowing we’d be hitting the road for home early the next day.

I’m happy to report that the drive home was largely uneventful. And we arrived home to this.

Spring on the Marsh.

It’s hard to be sad about vacation ending when this is a short jaunt from your front door.

It was another one of those trips that teaches you to not give up, to just keep going and deal with whatever comes your way with the best attitude possible. Our family does seem to thrive in the best/worst vacation category. Sure, we spent a small fortune in auto glass and had to radically alter plans for weather and to spend the day getting our windshields fixed, but we made a lot of memories and we spent so much quality time together. In retrospect, I wouldn’t change a thing. These trips are special and I hold them close to my heart even when everything goes wrong and maybe I had a little stressed out sloppy cry in the middle. It’s all part of the journey and even if imperfect a lot of the time, it comes with a breathtaking view.

The Monday after our return home I officially returned to the workforce. For the first time in nearly a decade of being a stay at home mom, I took a part time job. It wasn’t something I was necessarily looking for or even expecting to do, but the schedule and type of work suited the family, my physical limitations, and my abilities so I went for it. The past month I’ve been working a lot of hours as I get my training in which is why getting back to blog here has been so difficult. I’ve been adjusting to a different schedule, trying to get the kids through the end of their school year, and learn my own job, so it’s been a lot.

On top of the job status change, my parents are making a move to our town! We’ve been asking since our son was born almost 14years ago and we are very excited to welcome them to their new home. In just over a month, they will be moving in just a couple streets over from us . I can’t say much more than I simply cannot wait. I think it’s going to be a wonderful change for all of us.

Which brings me to a bittersweet end here, in this post and in this space. I think we’ve all felt it coming for a while, but today I am going to put it in so many words: It is time for me to take a step back from my little corner of the blogosphere. The truth is that life for me is changing in big ways. I need to adapt how I am spending my time to fit my new normal and sadly that means letting some things go. As much as I love to write and share our stories and my craft here, it’s become hard for me to keep up. I have never wanted to be someone who starts every post with “It’s been a long time” or some variation on that, but that’s exactly what has been happening. It is time.

My subscription on my platform runs through November, so my plan is to leave this live until then. If by chance things settle down and I have more time or I find that I truly miss writing here, I will simply come back and pick it back up. If, however, November rolls around and I haven’t touched it and am happy with the new normal I’ve created, then I will simply let it go.

For those who would like to stay in touch, I will continue to pop in when I can on Ravelry and (hopefully) update my projects there. For the time being, I also plan to keep my Instagram account live and update it when I have time and it feels right with knitting or spinning or our nature walks or puppy updates. I am  @knittingsarah on Instagram and TheKnittingSarah on Ravelry, so please feel free to stay in touch.

It is hard to imagine. It is hard to let go. And I don’t know how it’ll all feel as I officially disengage from this space, but it is time for new adventures and new challenges. And I have to be open to all the promise and opportunities in front of me and make the most of them and do what is right for my family. For now, though, I’m going to take some time to contemplate and process the change from a very special spot with some very special people and two very special pups. And probably a cup of coffee, too.

I wish all the best in whatever is next on the horizon for you and I hope that, where ever you are reading from, that you can find a peaceful spot, enjoy a cup of coffee, and look forward to your own next chapter with hope and joy and peace.

Farewell, Quietude

It’s been a longer than normal lapse between posts here. Truth be told, there’s just been a lot happening here. We reached our necessary hours for our homeschool and are marching toward wrapping up our main subjects. I joined a local Rotary club in January and I’ve been helping to organize a fundraiser event at the end of this month. We’re planning and organizing an upcoming vacation. We’ve been attending puppy manners classes with the Bear and working hard to drive home good manners in him as he’s topped 70lbs at his ripe old age of 5.5 months (we’re being told he may not reach full-size until 18months). And a bunch of other things are in the works. Suffice to say, we’ve had a lot of things in motion at the same time and it’s left me with little extra energy.

Perhaps as significant has been that we’ve started to see a real shift toward spring. Granted you wouldn’t know it today as we awoke to 6 or 8″ of fresh snow yesterday and then it rained ice all day. Walking the dog and shoveling was sort of like what I would imagine microdermabrasion to be like, but less pleasant. Alas, spring is springing even if there is currently fresh snow on the ground. The birds are coming back and singing their hearts out. And while I love the birds and all the sounds of nature and the life that is present in summer, there is always a part of me that feels wildly overwhelmed this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, it has been a long winter here and I’m ready for the warmth of the sun, the birds singing me awake each morning, and being able to just go out and enjoy the fresh air without my protective layers of wool and down. As an introvert through and through, though, I am always a little sad when the quiet respite of winter and all its solitude is ending for the season and a little overwhelmed by the constant busy-ness of spring. But I digress.

As a family, we have managed to enjoy some fresh air and, of course, the blues and neutrals of this time of year are beautiful.

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Even if the wind off the icy water is still awfully brisk.

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And this guy is pretty happy with the change in the weather. He is not a huge fan of the bitter cold or the deep snow, so we will often let him stay home if it’s not weather he’ll enjoy, but he loves the cool days where he can get a good hike in.img_6606We’ve been taking Bear out whenever we can, too. With his heavy coat he is much more of a lover of winter and we’ve been taking advantage of that and exposing him to new a lot of new experiences while the trails are still relatively people-free. We’ve been working through a fear stage with him — basically if he’s not familiar with something, he is afraid and barks at it. We’re told it’s very normal at his age and thanks to some guidance in our manners class and a whole lot of time and patience, he’s been showing remarkable improvement and is growing in confidence daily.

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All that work is pretty exhausting for li’l Bear though.

On one of our hikes, we spotted this guy….

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Oh, how I do love a good porcupine sighting!

And on another…

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Moose looked particularly stoic and handsome.

And after one very rainy walk…

Bear did a pretty epic impersonation of Puss in Boots. He wound up getting a bath after this that he did not like at all, but upon his release from the bathroom, he then got wildly excited when Moose jumped in the tub and requested a bath for himself. I was soaked and ready for a nap after that.

 I’ve still found time for some knitting and I’ve been wholly addicted to my latest sweater knit, Tanis Lavallee’s French Braid Cardigan.

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Usually I steer clear of variegated yarn with cables, but I had a feeling this one would be all right.

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And I adore it. I mean, just look at that main cable! The yarn is also a Tanis Fiber Arts creation, their Pure Wash Worsted in the Driftwood colorway. I bought it a while back on a whim during one of their Boxing Day sales and I am really overly excited about the fact that it is working so well with this pattern. The construction is unique in that you are working the front panel right along with the rest of the sweater. It’s the first knit in a long time that I will actually cut time out of my spinning for the pure joy of working on it. 57650553472__a8880bf4-358c-4e93-8de4-05fe07760452

I even snuck a glorious 30minutes of this with the sweater and my boys one morning when Mr. Knitting Sarah had to work early this week. It was incredible.

I have been spinning as well. One project is under wraps as it’s a test spin to check out a colorway and I’m nearly done with it. It involves some attempts to take some video while I spin, so it’s been touch and go time-wise as I work with moody lighting situations. My other main project has been spinning singles for the chain plying Skill Builder in the Three Waters Farm group and I just finished them up last night!

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I have to double check, but I’m fairly certain this is the March TWF Top of the Month Club colorway, Spring Loves Caprice. I’m very much looking forward to plying this soon!

We had a bit of a rough night last night as poor Bear had an upset stomach, so he and I were up every couple hours to make a trip outside. Poor guy! We are both pretty tuckered and I’m hoping for a quiet weekend ahead with some relaxing walks, easy on the chores, and with a fair bit of relaxation. I’m not sure, frankly, if it would be better just to get out there and embrace the spring time hubbub in a baptism of fire or if easing my way into it is better. Whatever the case, time and seasons and all the changes that are coming will keep on coming. I will do my best to meet them, to bid a graceful farewell to the quietude of winter and the embrace all that is on the horizon. Thankfully, I’ve got a killer knit and some colorful spins to help ease me through the transition.

 

Divide and Conquer

I assumed the responsibility of principle dog walker even before Mr. Knitting Sarah and I were dating, way back beyond recorded history when we were just friends and it was his dog, not mine. I didn’t grow up with animals until I was a teenager and then it was cats. I didn’t know the first thing about dogs and because of this I had little trust for them and was pretty all-around wary of them. This all changed when at 21 years old I moved in as a roommate with two friends, one being the man who we now know as Mr. Knitting Sarah (it’s a long, winding story — I’ll leave it at that for now) who had a beautiful dog named Becket. Becket was an Akita/Shepherd mix who was as sweet as could be with family and friends, but notoriously did not like many people outside his inner circle and, well, let’s just say he was an excellent guard dog.

I will never forget the first day I got back to my new apartment when no one else was home and Becket greeted me at the front door. We stood for a moment watching each other, trying to decide what move the other would make. I figured it was even odds that he’d let me in or make sure I exited quickly. After a moment, I said, “Do you want to go for a walk?” and I reached for his leash. In that moment, he leaped in the air with joy and from that moment on we were always friends. He and I shared a walk or two daily for the rest of his life.

It’s something I really love, whether it’s on a trail out in a natural area or around the neighborhood, I love taking those walks with my canine friends. The fresh air, the bonding with the inimitable spirit of a dog, and just the sheer joy of that daily walk helps me to appreciate all those subtle changes that happen in the world around us every single day. I’ve carried on the daily walk routine with Moose throughout his entire life and now with Bear as well.

This week was marked a turning point at our house, though. With Bear hurtling toward giant status, I had to finally admit that walking both dogs at once (now weighing close to 150lbs between the two) was no longer good for anyone. Even with a kid along willing to help, it was just too much chaos with a lab who has so much love for everyone and a puppy who is still learning his manners. So this week I started adjusting the boys to a new schedule where each dog gets their own walk with me.

At first it was a little sad to leave one dog behind as the one not leashed up  stares at me heartbroken (I don’t know why, but if you ask them, I am an amazing walking companion), but all it took was one day to see the huge difference it made for all of us. My walks with Moose are dreamy.

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Oh wait, that’s just Moose dreaming!

In any case, he used to be a horrible tow truck of a dog just pulling like his life depended on it on walks, but now because of how much I had to revisit my training skills with Bear and maybe because Moose is happy to bond and get the 1-on-1 time, he is the picture of perfection when he walks. He listens, he rarely pulls, and we just really enjoy our time together outside so much. A couple days ago, we stopped to watch Bald Eagles courting over a nearby field. Yesterday we stopped to listen to the flock of a couple hundred robins a few streets over from our house.

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I wake up excited for my walk with Moose every single day. It is a breath of fresh air, a joy that I feel privileged to experience each day.

Bear’s walks, of course, are more work right now than play.

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This guy hasn’t quite figured out how to appropriately express how excited he is to meet new people and dogs. Unfortunately, it tends to come out in excited growls and barking which can be off-putting to potential new friends when you’re 50+lbs, with shaggy black fur, and puppy levels of energy. He’s figuring it out, but it’s a process and it just takes time and lots of practice. And while it’s a very different experience than walking Moose, I can’t help but feel lucky that I get to help guide this sweet pup as he learns about the world around him. Every time I practice recall on our walk and call him back to me I’m reminded of this as his giant paddles/paws, floppy ears, and toothy grin full of love and joy eventually flollop  back to me.

What I’m think about every day as I walk these boys is to be mindful that every person and every project and every task has a different starting point and different requirements and that it’s important to factor those points into my expectations, to meet each person, project, and task from its own unique starting point. It can be very easy to be frustrated when a spinning project takes a little longer than I expect, just like it can be hard to remember not to hold Bear up to the same standard we are used to with our 7-year-old been-there-done-that-mastered-my-manners Moose.

It can be frustrating, if you leave out the dog training and homeschooling and life living, to know that these two bobbins have been sitting for a few days, waiting to be skeined instead of drying and finished.

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Just like if you don’t take into account his breed and personality, it can be hard to accept that Bear is much more stubborn and is taking his own sweet time learning to really listen.

It can be hard to admit that even though the bobbins for this project are just under 1.5oz each I’m only getting one finished each night.

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Just like it can be hard to admit that I really can’t walk two giant dogs at once.

Sometimes it’s important to divide and conquer, to split things up and carve manageable pieces out of larger scale projects. In a world where multi-tasking is revered as king, there is still something important to be said for taking more time in order to give things the attention they deserve. To do a job well,  sometimes that means you will progress more slowly. If you want to be joyful in what you do, you have to allow your expectations to honestly jive with realty.

Maybe that means that with spring here, you busy tidying the yard and house and are just plugging away with a round of two of that latest sock WIP each day instead of logging inches upon inches each day…

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Maybe that means that instead of spinning, you’re taking this mutt on your second dog walk of the day…

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Maybe that means instead having all these letters circled and thus all these singles done for this project…

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You are just starting bobbin 3 out of 6 tonight.

Whatever the realty of the requirements of your next task, the place from which your next student needs to begin learning from, or how much of an uphill battle your upcoming round of puppy courses may be…

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May you be unafraid to divide and conquer where necessary and may you be inspired to allow your expectations to play nicely with reality.

FO FriYAY!

It’s Friday and I’ve decided to share not one, but TWO Finished Objects today. I think that means this Fri-day levels-up to Fri-YAY, don’t you?!

My first finished project I’d like to share is my Lesley Sweater!

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I’m the first to admit that I may have been a little overzealous with the length.

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I was trying to avoid the hits-at-waist-look, but it seems instead of going a smidge longer, I’ve created a tunic — at least that’s how it looks on the mannequin! In reality, on my person, it’s not quite so insanely long, just nearly covering my backside and the fit is actually quite good.  I do reserve the right to rip some back, but I think I’m far more likely to just wear it and enjoy a draft-free sweater. I mean, if I leave the length, than I can probably get away wearing it with stretchy pants out on the trail… that’s something to think about!

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The design is just a super simple raglan.

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And I adore the pretty blue color, Quince & Co’s Osprey in River. While I’m undecided on whether I’ll leave the length as-is or take some off, I’m positive that I love the fit and feel of this sweater and I’m very happy I finally got around to knitting it!

My other FO today is a pair of socks!

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After the whole darning affair of a week or so ago, I dug in and got these done for Mr. Knitting Sarah. As you can see, once again, I got a little overzealous in the length of the cuff — must have been something I was doing in February when I overshot on my Lesley Tunic, I mean Lesley Sweater, as well!

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I mean, yikes! Usually I have quite a bit of yarn leftover from these big Regia skeins I use for him, but NOT THIS TIME. It was yarn chicken all the way and I just escaped by the skin of my teeth! I maybe had 5 yards leftover!

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In any case, I finished them last night and had to share them today as they need to go right into the sock rotation for Mr. KS. I’ll be casting-on another pair asap as well, to help bolster the reserves, but I am glad to have one new pair heading for his sock drawer. Hopefully one more in the rotation will help the longevity of the newly darned socks. Everyone cross your fingers with me!

This weekend I hope to ply up three spins that are waiting to be finished and maybe get working on the next step of my French Braid Cardigan. Oh, and cast-on that pair of socks, too! What’s on your knitting and spinning agenda for this weekend?

Dispatch from Early Spring

I may be a couple of days early, but it is definitely the early days of spring here. Our record-breaking snows of the last couple of months have started receding at an alarming pace — those of you downstream, be prepared! — and what was thigh and waist deep snow a week ago now is ankle deep or less. In fact, for the first time in quite a while, I saw a couple patches of actual ground in my backyard last night.  The birds have erupted in song and we’ve had our first Brown-Headed Cowbirds and Grackles of the year visiting our house. I even caught a glimpse of a Robin flying over our yard yesterday. Yes, it seems spring is on the way.

As it goes in these parts, however, winter to spring is not a smooth transition. Worries of too much snow on our roof have morphed into dealing with a sump pump pipe that is still frozen. While we did not have any issues with damage or flooding in our basement, I did spend a fair bit of time last week preventatively hauling water out of our sump well in 10 gallon Shop-Vac loads (thank goodness there were no stairs involved!) until we were able to rig an outdoor waterfall pump to do the heavy lifting for us until we can give the system enough time to fully thaw. It’ll be a while before we know the fate of the actual sump pump or what the blockage is, but we are hopeful it’s just a matter of letting things thaw out. In the grand scheme of things, I’m thankful that this was just an inconvenience and that we were dealing with the issues before there was actually damage to anything and that now I just have to roll the hose out and plug in the pump. You do what you have to do, but I’m happy to not have to take those multiple trips lifting 10 gallons of water (google tells me that’s about 85 lbs) anymore!

While we awake to the flurry of spring and deal with all that entails, I’ve of course caught the spring cleaning bug as well. No, I’ve not been watching Marie Kondo on Netflix (I read the book when it came out) like the rest of the world. I’m not sure if it’s normal or not, but every year I actually enjoy spring cleaning. There is something about the seasonal change that inspires a fresh, clean start in me. We’ve been in our “new” home almost 2 years now and I’ve been making some minor adjustments in functionality — a broom rack in one closet, a couple hooks in another — and trying to formulate better ways to make tidying more accessible and easier to do regularly. I’ve just, I’ve got a hankering to make things around here a bit more efficient, I suppose you could say. I don’t anticipate this lasting long, so I’m going to ride the wave and enjoy the benefits of it while I can!

But it’s not been all work and fighting the elements and tidying up around here. There has been time for play. The footing on the rotten snow is terrible for hiking, but we’ve been going out anyways. Bear likes to protest a little on the front end as he’s still not very happy about riding in the car. When we start to suit up and ask him if he wants to go on an adventure, he bolts for his crate and does this.

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Moose, for those who might not be aware, has always loved going along, no matter what we’re doing. If he could open doors, Moose would be the first one in the car every time. It’s definitely new for us to have to convince a pup to go.  Isn’t that just the case with siblings though? What one loves, the other loathes. C’est la vie!

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In any case, once we’re out of the car, Mr. Bear is a happy fellow and is proving almost as good of a trail dog as his big brother. I saw “big” with a grain of salt as this is my hand and Bear’s paw print.

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While it’s true that Bear is much fluffier so size comparisons are deceptive with these two, they are growing ever closer in size.

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They are both very happy good boys though.ee2ab9b8-dae4-492b-aa15-fd3742b8b750

And they are enjoying the last hurrahs of winter, to be sure.

When not tearing up the trails wit us, they are proving worthy spinning and knitting supervisors.

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And I’ve been working on a few things in my spare time as well.

This morning I turned the heel on sock #2 of a new pair of socks for Mr. KS.

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I’m going to try to work on this over morning coffee — I think that’s the best recipe for getting it finished in a timely manner.

I also started a new sweater!

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It is Tanis Lavallee’s French Braid Cardigan. It’s an interesting construction so far — this is actually the collar which you cast-on with a provisional cast-on, work one direction and then go back to the cast-on and work the other direction so you have live stitches on both ends. My center pick-up is a little messy, but I think it’ll block right on for me. In any case, I’m about to pick-up stitches and begin the actual raglan part of the sweater. So far, I’m really enjoying this one.

I’ve also got 2 spinning projects ready to ply!

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This is Tranquil Gleam on a BFL + Nylon base.

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And this is Common Ground on Falkland, both from Three Waters Farm and both destined to be traditional 3-plies for the Skill Builder SAL happening over in the group. I’m hoping to start plying later today as I just pulled fiber out of my stash for my next traditional 3-ply spin! I was totally inspired by a member in the group to spin a gradient and I’ve got just the perfect two colorways with which to experiment!

And with this dispatch, this little update from the wee moments of spring, I’m off! I’ve got things to tidy, dogs to play with, yarn to spin, and socks & sweaters to knit! I hope that spring is springing where you are and you are feeling inspired today, too!

Zen And The Art of Darning Socks

Sometime toward the end of last week it became apparent that almost half of Mr. Knitting Sarah’s handknit socks were starting to go threadbare. When it rains, it pours, right?! I mentioned to Mr. KS that I’d started another pair, but that he might need to supplement with some ready-to-wear socks. He informed me that he’s totally converted to handknits and doesn’t intend to go back. I was kind of shocked because I thought he might be kind of ecstatic at the chance to integrate some RTW socks into his rotation, but as a knitter I knew I needed to jump into action. That one pair of socks I was working on was not going to cut it! I needed a new plan. I knew it was time to get darning!

I spent the first 2 days of the great sock repair extravaganza of 2019 (which included a whopping 4 pairs of socks) working in Swiss darning. “Swiss darning” is the same thing as duplicate stitch, for those who weren’t aware. I just think “Swiss darning” sounds way more elegant so I like to go with that name (because I can!). In any case, one pair had a pretty small hole near the toe which was relatively easy to fix. The next pair we decided we would just let nature take its course because the socks are 6 years old and entirely stockinette where Mr. KS prefers a 2×2 ribbing on the top of the foot and cuff for a better fit. It’s weird to relegate them to just be worn until their eventual demise, but we agreed that it was time better spent to work on a new pair that fit better than to prolong the life of this pair.  And so I was down to the last two pairs.

The first pair, I darned. And I darned. And I darned.

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I was reinforcing the foot in each sock as well as areas along the decreases on the toes, all of which were showing a lot of wear. I didn’t have any yarn that matched, so I just grabbed a skein of similar yarn that I didn’t think Mr. KS would want a full pair of socks from. Since the mending would all be hidden within a shoe, the bolder colors would be hidden, after all. After what felt like Swiss darning forever, Mr. KS was ecstatic with the outcome.

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I wasn’t really going for pretty with these, just functional. A band-aid for the sock shortage of 2019 and I’m fairly confident they’ll do the trick for a while. I was really concerned that the patches would feel weird or uncomfortable, but Mr. KS assured me they were great and he was very happy.

After darning what felt like a lot of real estate on these, I was curious to try a different technique. Instead of the relative tedium of Swiss darning — as elegant as that name may sound, it is still pretty grueling — what if I would just cut off the worn part of the foot and re-knit the whole thing through the toe? Surely the ability to go into auto-pilot knitting with a basic foot and toe would be faster than trying to neatly Swiss darn 1/3 of the footbed, right? I resolved to try it and compare. I mean, you’ll never know unless you try!

Normally I’d look up loads of tutorials since I’d never tried anything like this. I mean, I’d never cut my knitting for steeking even! But I just kind of visualized what I thought would work and went for it. I’ve probably knit close to 100 pairs of socks at this point, so I am pretty confident in the ins and outs of handknit socks and figured based on the terrible state of this pair, I wasn’t going to make them any worse!

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It was surprisingly easy. I used a set of one size smaller DPNs to pick up the stitches just because it made the process a little easier. The variegated yarn also helped me to stay in the correct round when picking up stitches. Since I could literally pick anywhere to start, I chose a round that both stood out from the one next to it and was one consistent color all the way around just to make picking up that much easier. The ribbing was a bit trickier until I knew what I was looking for, but I figured it out. Before I knew it, I had the sock on the needles, the worn foot & toe cut off, and I was knitting it off the smaller needles and back onto my 3mm (Mr. KS prefers sport/DK weight socks, hence the 3mm needles). Easy peasy!

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For those wondering, this was the old foot & toe.

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You can see it was already darned once and the rest of the knitting was almost threadbare.

I took no scientific measurements because I was just exploring the technique this time around, but I would venture to guess that for this extensive of a mending project it was probably about equal to Swiss darning the whole thing, if not a smidge faster. And the second sock was definitely much faster to get set up and back on the needles. I took a little more time to add some heel reinforcement as well with a little duplicate stitch… er… I mean Swiss darning.

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I was already that far into it with the toes, I might as well take some precautions on those heels as well, right?!

And I’m happy to report that Mr. KS loves his mended socks!

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I just looked them up on Ravelry and these are also 6 years old! Considering Mr. KS spends 10 hours a day, 5 days a week minimum on his feet and has been wearing this pair regularly for the first 4 years of its life and pretty exclusively in rotation with about 5 other handknit pairs the past 2, they have held up remarkably well, I think! Yes, they are still worn, but the fact that re-knitting and reinforcing might buy another year or so out of this yarn is pretty remarkable. And knitting a couple toes and heels is much faster than knitting a whole new pair of men’s size 13 socks!

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And what a great way to use a yarn that’s not exactly Mr. KS’ palette, too!

I’ve been pretty shocked throughout the process at Mr. KS’ enthusiasm for this mending of his handknit socks. Honestly, I always kind of look at him when we’re discussing it, waiting for him to crack a joke about my dedication to such a weird process because there are a lot of things in the knitting and spinning world that he loves that I love, but he himself does not understand. It turns out mending is not on that list. Instead, he explained this morning that he really appreciates the process of not just pitching the socks when they are worn. There’s something special, he said, about giving them a second life. And in that sentiment, there is something that touches my heart.

I’ve come full circle now to see that the mending honors the time commitment of creating the socks in the first place. To give them a little TLC, a gentle refurb, a small time investment in order to let them live a longer life — that’s placing a value on them that I don’t think we consider as much as we probably should when it comes to the ‘things’ in our daily lives. In the throes of the project, it was easy to see it as a tedious task, for me to make comments about how it was a true sign of love to mend because it is so boring. I won’t say mending is my favorite thing in the world to work on, but by the end of this process and by seeing my husband’s enthusiasm for his drawer full of mended socks, I’m looking at it all from a much more zen place. How wonderful that I have the time and skills to be able to take these socks that were essentially a couple weeks away from the trash and breath another life into them. Another season of hiking, another year of toasty toes on the cool floors on spring mornings, another first truly chilly day of fall — another year of handknit socks.

The next time I take on a mending project, I have no doubt that I’ll approach it with more patience, maybe even just a hint of reverence for the time and love this project represents and how mending it is really the way you honor that. I’ll be sure to document it better for all of you, my friends, so you can add the same handy skills to your knitting toolkit. And so that you, too, can discover (if you haven’t already) zen and the art of darning socks.