Veleta

Way back in March, I received some lovely yarn in the mail and an equally pretty pattern.

img_2464Louet’s pattern collections always contain such pretty ideas and their 2016 Spring Collection is no exception. Designed by the fantastic Susanna IC, Veleta is a simple sleeveless top knit in Louet’s wonderful Euroflax Sport.

Both the front & back of this pattern are worked identically and it’s really an excellent ‘autopilot’ knit.

img_2590I did a very large portion of this knitting while supervising my kiddos during our little waterpark adventure in March.

img_2778The non-waterpark portions of this knit were mostly just little breaks here and there throughout my day.

Before I get to the FO, I want to talk just a bit about my experience knitting with linen. One question I heard a number of times from other knitters during the course of knitting this project was concerning their stitches being too uneven when working in linen. It’s totally understandable because wool has that natural spring and energy. Stitches kind of just even themselves out a fair bit while we knit with wool. Linen is different. Linen really doesn’t have that spring and your stitches will sometimes kind of look wonky and you may be compelled to try to even things out ‘manually.’ I’m here to say that barring major, major discrepancies you really don’t need to do so.

Note my somewhat uneven stitches while knitting.

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And my nice even stitches after it’s been through the wash.

stitch detailI did nothing beyond run it through the delicate cycle in my washing machine & lay it flat to dry and my stitches looks nice and neat now.

Another question I got was how to handle the actual knitting with linen. Without the bounce and elasticity of wool, it can be easy to tax your hands when knitting with linen. I’m here to say, just relax. Relax your wrists & your hands and embrace the character of this wonderul yarn. It’ll be a joy when you do!

OK, I digress. On to the FO!

img_2971I really enjoyed the simple lace edge as much (or more) than the stockinette sections. Alas, I have a lot of pictures that look like this — my beautiful top folded and draping beautifully. I’ve had it finished for a couple weeks now, but couldn’t bring myself to model it in the chilly weather we’ve been having. Finally, yesterday I had my chance. I cornered my son and got those proper FO photos.

outtakeJust kidding! In case it isn’t obvious, this is an outtake. I discovered on this ‘photo shoot’ that if I make a lot of funny faces and do a bunch of weird poses that it makes my son laugh. Thank goodness for digital photography.

side view on 2Oh hey! Now I don’t look like I’m in pain. Isn’t the top cute?

front onI love it, I really do!

flatIt’s just such a simple, pretty piece to throw on over a camisole.

edge detailAnd again, I just love this detail.

I’ve machine washed it twice now and it’s nice and soft and drapey and it will only continue to become more soft and drapey with each wash.  I do so love Euroflax Sport — it’s great to work with & seriously washes up so nicely. And now I’ve got this fabulous top in a super comfy yarn to layer with this summer. Veleta is truly a little piece of summery perfection!

Busy as a Bee

As spring slowly starts to wake-up here, we’re treated too all the glorious signs of spring. My spinning wheel overlooks our Nanking cherry bushes which have bloomed and I’m lucky in that as I spin I get to watch bees as they float from flower to flower. I can’t help but relate to the bees. As the days grow in length, the sun climbs higher in the sky, and the temperatures warm up I’m invigorated and am compelled to flit about, making plans, and trying to make the most of each sunny afternoon. In bursts I’ve started cleaning up the yard and making plans for some improvements. The cleaning products have been inventories and lists for a nice thorough spring clean for the house have been drawn up. I’ve put off mowing the lawn, but that will have to be addressed sooner than later, too.

And then there’s the arena that is my craft. True to form, I’m busy as a bee in that department, too. Let’s start with knitting, shall we?

img_2971My beautiful Veleta top just needs to be seamed. From Louet’s wonderful Spring Collection, this is knit in Louet’s Euroflax Sport. Since machine washing drastically softens the linen, I ran this through my washer on the delicate cycle before pinning it out to dry on the blocking matts. It’s well on it’s way to being soft as butter. I’m hoping to steal an hour or so to sew it up this weekend.

img_2964And I’m past the gusset shaping of my second handspun sock. This has been my during school/at the playground/in the car project, so I haven’t been moving too too quickly on it, but I’m getting there. It’s such a fun knit for me as I watch my handspun labors take shape that I’m honestly in no rush to finish this project.

img_2969And then I have this project waiting in the wings. I had hoped to knit up a sweater with my giant 1100 yard fingering weight skein of handspun from last month for the Laura Aylor SAL + KAL in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry Group, but I’ve accepted that time is not on my side at the moment. The pattern was a little more complex than was realistic for the spring and summer for me so as I’m desperate to participate, I started thinking about what else I could make. After my daughter stole my fingerless mitts on one of our last hikes, I found the adorable Spiced Cocoa mitts and this yarn that I spun a couple months ago. If I make the small, they’ll be a little big for her, but since she’s growing like a weed that’s probably for the best. She’s OKed the project (it’s important to get permission with an 8-year-old diva), so all that’s left to do is wind the yarn and get started.

In my spinning world, I got some very exciting news this week. Akerworks is developing a new Flat Pack Lazy Kate and I was chosen to be one of the testers for it! I invested in some Akerworks Flat Pack Bobbins when my hubby got me the travel bag for my wheel and I’ve been really, really impressed with the quality as well as how much room they save me so when I saw this Kate in the works I jumped on that sign-up sheet & crossed my fingers and toes. They said they are making them to order right now, but that I should see it sometime in the next couple weeks. I’ll be focusing my review and thoughts in the testing thread while I put it through its paces, but rest assured that a full review will be available in due time.

As you can imagine, while I wait for the Kate to arrive I’m on a mission to spin singles for plying!

img_2967I’ve already got this March Top of the Month Club “Spring Spirit” from Three Waters Farm all set for its Navajo plying.

img_2968And yesterday I wrapped up my singles for the January Top of the Month Club (which I put off forever) “Birds in Holly” — it’s destined for a simple 2-ply.

img_2966And I immediately started in on my April Top of the Month Club “Storm Cloud Over Flowers” — this is the first month I had the Silk Club and I’m loving it. I tempted fate a little by pulling out my Very Fast Flyer for this spin. I’ve been what feels like a little slow on the learning curve for this flyer and while this spin definitely has parts that could be more perfect (that aren’t in this photo), the over-twisting issues I had last time and the feeling that I was either a) just holding on for dear life or b) fighting against the wheel — those feelings are all but gone. Not totally, but for the most part I started to feel the right balance and rhythm  with this flyer and that… well, it felt really good. I’ve also been using my little Akerworks Hedgehog Threader as I find it a little easier to use than the Lendrum issued one. Plus, it’s a hedgehog.

img_2965I did a little work on my spindle project today, too. If I hadn’t mentioned it, I picked up these rolag/punis from Naturally Knitty last summer. I love the colors! I’m still pretty slow with my spindles, but I’m certainly practicing!

I’ve also got more than a couple sewing projects that I need to get working on, but let’s not dive down that rabbit hole just now. For now, the sun is shining & warm and this bee’s got some work to do.

That Silver Lining

There’s a delicate dance for all of us who rely on natural light for photographs. For small projects like socks or handspun skeins of yarn I can get a decent photo in almost any weather, but sweaters and larger shawls are more complicated. For me, if I want to get a picture of the whole project that requires larger than about a 2’x2′ space, I need decent weather so I can snap the photo outside. This April in Wisconsin has involved a lot of snow and rain and raining ice and sleet, often in quick succession. It usually does, but ideally there’s a bit more sunshine in between so I can sneak outside to snap some quick photos. I bring this up because I’ve got a sweater & a shawl all ready to share with you and I’m waiting, ever so impatiently, for a break in the weather. Soon, my friends, soon.

In the mean time, I thought I’d share a WIP update because I’ve been attempting to lurch forward a bit in what I’m working on.

I’m ecstatic to report that last night I wrapped up my Three Waters Farm March Top of the Month Club braid.

img_2786Named “Spring Spirit” this certainly is made up of many of the colors I see out my window (although it’s missing the white snow — lol!). I see irises and green grass and the tulips leaves and the first crocuses of the year. I did some playing with the length of color repeats on this spin & plan to n-ply it. If I get the yardage I need, I’m thinking this will be earmarked for a Quaker Lines shawl. With just 4oz and making a 3-ply, I’m not confident I’ll have the yardage though, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Because I like to be ready to hop right into my next spin, before finishing it up I managed to prep my January Top of the Month Club braids, also from Three Waters Farm.

img_2776I’ve been aiming to stay up to date with my club subscription and so far this is the only one I haven’t spun. You know me, I’m not big on loose ends, so to ease my own mind I really had to make this spin happen. There’s an extremely talented spinner named Karen in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry group who is famous for her gorgeous barberpoley skeins and a while back she was kind enough to share how she preps her yarn for maximum barberpoles. I was really indecisive about how to handle this gorgeous colorway, named “Birds in Holly”, so to end my own over-thinking I decided to try my hand at her technique. To see why I’m interested in trying Karen’s technique, please check out her handspun in her Etsy shop. In addition to her handspun yarn, she also has some cute stitch markers and select spinning tools for sale.

This morning after my morning yoga I got right to this new project.

img_2787I’d considered spinning it a little heavier and this Rambouillet is definitely going to be a bit more substantial than the Falkland of ‘Spring Spirit’, but this weight feels right to me so I’m just going with it. I adore the colors already.

In my knitting, I’ve forbidden myself from starting any of the FOUR projects I’m itching to cast-on until I finish my Veleta top from the new Louet Spring Collection. Both sides are knitted identically and I’m a little over halfway through the big stockinette block of the second side.

img_2778So motivated, I even made myself an Americano yesterday after lunch for a little extra boost. As I knew I would, I’m really enjoying knitting with Louet’s Euroflax Sport. I chose to knit this top in Heron Grey with the bottom lace accent in Cream. It has a very old world feel to it that I truly adore.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve been plugging away at my spindle spinning project.

img_2788I’m definitely still learning how to use this tool efficiently, but I’m very happy to be making progress on this previously stalled out fiber. I’ve been aiming to spin up between 1/2 of a rolag and one full one each day and that seems to be do-able for me.

As I continue to wait for the weather to behave so I can share those FOs, I’ll just keep on keepin’ on with my WIPs as I always do. I suppose the silver lining of the uncooperative weather is that we tend to stay a little closer to home, so I have a tiny bit more time with my knitting & spinning. As I watch the fine snow that is falling outside change to rain and then to ice pellets and then back to snow, I’m going to just keep telling myself to think of that silver lining. Yes, I’m just going to knit & spin my way to more agreeable weather.

One of Those Weeks

Hiya, my friends! I feel a little bit like this is the first time I’ve really sat down in a week.

[Insert deep breath here]

You see, once a year my husband attends a conference for work that takes place at an indoor waterpark and it just so happens that his company is very awesome about allowing families to tag along. As you can imagine, there are a lot of happy kids when conference time rolls around. Our kids, who are used to camping, inclement weather, and the occasional basic hotel, view those couple days at the waterpark/resort as amazingly extravagant. They talk about it constantly and plan out the order in which they’ll visit the attractions weeks in advance. I’m not really a waterpark enthusiast, but as a mum I really appreciate that we can go as I’m not sure we would if not for this opportunity and it’s such a fun time for the kids.

 While I love swimming, I pretty much get motion sick just looking at a swing set let alone riding in a raft down a twisty-turny water slide, so I mostly observe and keep an eye on the kids. Both are strong swimmers, but I stay poolside and keep watch. Of course it isn’t lost on me that this is excellent knitting time for someone who sports the moniker ‘Knitting Sarah’. Since the waterpark is warm and I needed something simple that would allow me to keep an eye on the kiddos, just before we left I chose to cast-on and begin work on my Veleta from Louet’s Spring Collection 2016 which happens to be in the best fiber for warm temps — linen!

img_2571Yes! Another chance to work with the fantastic Euroflax Sport — oh, how I love this yarn! And this pattern is fantastic in that it’s largely stockinette with just a little lacey border and both front and back are worked identically. Simple knitting and a lovely addition to my wardrobe — just perfect!

After an entire day at the waterpark both kids were exhausted in the very best way…

img_2588This one looked like this well into the morning, easily 2 hours beyond her normal waking hour. Knowing they were tuckered, we switched gears on day two to a somewhat low-key indoor amusement park. Despite sleeping in and having a slow morning, both kids kind of walked around like little zombies and, of course, refused to admit they were tired. So I let them move at their pace and I kept knitting.

img_2590When it came time to pick up Mr. Knitting Sarah at the end of his meetings, I’d knocked out a little over 10inches of the front of my Veleta — not too shabby! Thanks to down time during school and a couple movies over the last few evenings, I’m getting tantalizingly close to the lace portion of this side. Knowing I’m close to a change in my knitting is always such good motivation for me.

As for spinning, with my wheel back in good working order I did not waste any time finishing the singles for my combo spin. And then, because I simply couldn’t resist and I had a couple hours into which I could sneak some spinning after school and while I continued to make my way through the laundry, I got a little start on my March Top of the Month from Three Waters Farm.

img_2595This is ‘Spring Spirit’ on a 100% Falkland base. I’m trying out a new-to-me method of dividing up the colors for this spin. A very talented spinner in the TWF Ravelry group made the most incredible boomerang last month and I just had to try her method. First, I divided my braid into its three color repeats. Then, the first repeat I split in half, the second in thirds, and the third in sixths. And then I’ll n-ply it so that you kind of have accelerating stripes. I’m not sure I’ll knit it into a boomerang — I have some other ideas I might light to try, but we’ll see how it turns out.

In between my swimming, zombie indoor amusement parking, knitting, spinning, and Mount Laundry tackling, we also made a day’s detour up to my parents house to recover Moose who’d spent a few days at Club Grandma & Grandpa.

img_2560He’s still sleeping off the excitement.

The kiddos and I also made a trip to a friend’s house who recently acquired a spinning wheel and needed a little help troubleshooting her process. I haven’t done much hands-on spinning with others, but I’m very eager to lend a hand when I can. It was — I think — a very productive day. We were able to take my dear friend through her paces and iron out the places she was having some problems. And — most excitingly — we managed to take two skeins of yarn she’d made that she didn’t think could be saved, add a little twist, and make some honest-to-goodness lovely yarn out of them. I’m absurdly excited to be able to tag along with her on her journey as she learns to spin. I truly enjoy the whole process of seeing a crafter’s evolution. It’s something I really miss about teaching craft and it’s an absolute honor and treat to be able to play even a little part in my friend’s journey.

And today, Sunday, I will boldly attempt to take a few deep breaths and get back on track with our normal routine. Tidying and laundry and exercise and healthy eating are all on my to-do list today. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll squeeze in a little time for some spinning, too…

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