Hello From My Desk!

Hello from my desk!

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I added the desk lamp last week because I find it gets awfully dark in this part of the house during the short winter days. Ironically, since the window is facing South, when the sun is actually out I’m pretty much blinded in my chair from about 9am to 2pm. It’s a true feast or famine situation! Thank goodness for that lamp and for blinds that I can easily adjust!

In any case, I’m sitting here, staring out the window (it’s 3:30 and the sun is mostly hidden so I can actually see) and I’m watching the clouds race past in the 30mph winds and I can’t help but think, “I know how you feel — we’re in such a rush these days!”

Despite being quiet here on the blog thanks to the million things I’ve been running around doing, I’ve been spinning and knitting away. And I’m stealing just a few minutes in between a meeting, school, and a volunteer gig to share a very quick glimpse of what’s been happening here.

Spinning!

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Currently on the wheel is the last 4oz of Mercurial Light from Three Waters Farm for my 16oz handspun weaving project. Isn’t it just luscious?!

These are the other 12oz…

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All set for plying! The two bobbins on the right will be plied together to make the weft while the one of the left will be plied with the one on the wheel to make the warp. That’s the dream anyway — I will keep you updated! It’s kind of slow, but definitely steady work.

Knitting!

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I’m cruising along on my daughter’s Christmas socks made with String Theory Colorworks’ Kinetic Energy colorway on their Entaglement base. I’m not going to make St Nick’s, but they will definitely be done by Christmas. I’m really enjoying this knit and I will take the slightly later than hoped for finish date. I will take it happily indeed!

Napping!

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Moose is the only one with time for napping around here! He does it so well though, so he naps for all of us. We’re thankful he takes this full-time job on for the family. He’s an integral part of the team.

I hope your holidays season is keeping you on your toes, too!

 

 

 

Unplugged

Well, friends, I’m back from a week long vacation. One week from being generally out of cell service. And I have to be honest, it was exactly what I needed.

We knew we wanted to do a camping trip because Mr Knitting Sarah loves camping, we’ve got all sorts of new places to explore now that we’re farther north, and because it’s significantly less expensive than hotel-ing it for a week. Because of the move, though, we weren’t able to schedule anything out very far in advance and therefore when we finally had the dates set, we weren’t able to schedule the whole week in one spot. Mr Knitting Sarah — brilliant vacation planner that he is — organized us into a three campground itinerary to not only give us lots to see and do, but also a great taste of some of the parks that are now a lot closer for us.

Our first stop was Copper Falls State Park. It also happened to be the day of the Solar Eclipse, so we got an early start and luckily were able to get our tent set up before venturing out to find a view of the eclipse.

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Mr Knitting Sarah knows a lot about optics and so in preparation for the eclipse he made a filter for our spotting scope. It was impressive. He literally made it out of a plastic jelly jar and some filter sheets he bought. It worked great… until it clouded over on us about 35 minutes into the eclipse. No bother though as we went for a hike…

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An eerily dark hike, but pretty nonetheless, as Copper Falls always is. On the way back, we raced incoming rainstorms…

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Even Moose was egging me on! It’s hard not to hussle when you see that face up ahead!

We took a bit of a drive while it rained and then ended up at Loon Lake in the park where we — you guessed it — watched a Loon.

We only had the one night at Copper Falls and we awoke early to hit the road — we were headed North! And the day before my boy had agreed to take boat cruise around the Apostle Islands with me. As we got in line, the captain came around and told the 20 or so of us there that they were expecting the lake to have 3-5ft waves and that they’d have to amend the tour because it was unsafe to go all the way to the outer island. Anyone wanting a refund they’d honor it. After our story salmon fishing earlier this summer, we were undeterred though. After 3 more reminders that we could claim a refund (no judgement!), we got underway.

In a word, it was indeed lumpy. I tried to take photos to capture it, but really, there’s no way you can. Despite being soaked through my raincoat by spray and having slightly numb fingers (because there was no way I was going down below when I could enjoy the Lake Superior air!), there were brief moments of this…

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And this…

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And this guy, who, after being 80% convinced we might die the first 30 minutes, really started to enjoy himself.

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Until he took a hefty spray/splash directly to the kisser in the final leg home. It was an epic spray/splash that was followed by a collective “Oooooooh!” from our fellow tourists after which everyone looked with nervous smiles, that plainly said, “Oh, that looked really bad!” It was. It was wet. And cold as the water temp was in the high 40s or low 50s. He’s a trooper though and I was glad to have the time with him.

From there, we caught the ferry out to Madeline Island. And thus enjoyed two and half days of this…

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It was perfection. On our final beach day, the kids and I took the long walk from one side of the Big Bay to the other. It wasn’t my hip’s favorite thing, but it was important for my heart. And sometimes the heart has to win.

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Yeah, it does.

Did I mention that all along the way there was knitting?

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There was knitting. All along the way. ❤ And most of the knitting was on these handspun socks.

From here, we spent a day in Duluth. It was sort of on the way to our next destination, Pattison State Park, and we needed to pick up a few groceries. There also happens to be a yarn shop in Duluth that I like to stop at, but that just was a happy coincidence (or a well-planned detour… one or the other…).

I dropped the mister and the kids at the very cool Great Lakes Aquarium and Moose and I headed to Yarn Harbor. It’s definitely one of my favorite destination yarn shops, partly because I love Duluth, but also because it has such a great selection. I always spring for one of the shop’s exclusive colorways dyed by Three Irish Girls Yarns. I think I have 3 other colorways from this collection that I’ve picked up on previous trips. I’ve knit zero so far, but I have zero doubt that I’ll get there. They are beautiful. This time I picked the ‘Yarn Harbor’ colorway.

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Oh, and an Arne & Carlos Regia Pairfect that I thought would be cute for my daughter. As a side note, I’ve always read “Pairfect” as “Parfait” until writing this. “Pairfect” is way cuter and makes much more sense.

One of the benefits of a camping trip that involves morning temps in the 50s is that the dog can wait in the car for short bursts. Moose is an excellent guard/nap dog in the car.

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And he did such an excellent job watching over the car while I was in the yarn shop that he and I went for a nice walk on the Duluth Lakewalk.

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What a beautiful morning in a beautiful place! We picked up our other 3 people and had a wonderful lunch at the dog-friendly Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill before heading out to the next campground.

Pattison State Park features the states highest waterfalls…

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Which also happen to include the fourth highest East of the Rockies. We viewed the taller of the two, Big Manitou Falls, on day one and resolved to check out Twin Little Manitou Falls the following morning.

With rain coming on the horizon, we broke camp a couple days early and decided to head home, but not until we took the quick jaunt down to the little falls…

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It was still dark and cloudy and foggy when we visited, but Mr KS used his magic touch to get this photo. Such a perfect capture!

We headed home with loads of laundry, plenty of good memories, and one tired puppy.

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So tired, in fact, that he couldn’t keep his tongue in his mouth while he slept.

The laundry is almost all washed, the dog is almost recovered, and we’re back in the grind of every day. The memories remain, though, and they are awfully grand.. Oh, and for those who are interested in those handspun socks, they’re done. I’ll be back with more on those soon — they are pretty grand, too.

 

 

Staycationing

Last week we were scheduled to head out on a Colorado mountain adventure. A couple days before our departure, however, we made the choice to cancel those plans in favor of a staycation. There were a lot of reasons for the change of plans and while we were all a little bummed to not partake in some mountain-y shenanigans, it wasn’t bad to be home.

We did some things that needed to be done, like get back on track with menu planning and assessing what’s in our freezer & pantry. We tidied up the basement so my little sewing area will once again be usable so I can work on sewing up my fabric stash this year. And my hubby did an impressive fix on our sadly broken couch. We gallivanted to a zoo and a museum. We relaxed a lot.  nd despite subzero temps, we got in a few nice little hikes. In case you’re wondering, this is what my girl and I look like hiking when it’s below zero…

img_5648It involves a lot of layers…

img_5647And sometimes icicles form on your eyelashes…

img_5649But it’s peaceful and quiet and I actually love being out there (as long as I have a warm house & hot coffee or cocoa upon our return).

A fair bit of our relaxing time I was able to spend crafting. I didn’t have my yarn wound for my next knitting project and until late in the week I was a little lazy about getting that done. Instead, I spun.

img_5637And spun…

img_5651And spun some more…

img_5653There was kind of a lot of spinning…

img_5655One of these days, I’ll get around to plying it all, but I was having fun filling bobbins and most recently working on consistency and winding a nice bobbin with my Very Fast Flyer.

I also got to use one of my best ever Christmas/birthday gifts…

img_5654After my spinning friend sent a photo of her fiber in her kitchen scale, I immediately oohed and aahhhed at how awesome the spinning was (of course), but also there was a lot of love for the scale. I mean, a scale with a detachable bowl fitted right to it? Perfect for spinning and knitting! Lo and behold, thoughtful, thoughtful, thoughtful lady that she is, I unwrapped one of my own from her at the holiday. And I love it. I mean I really LOVE it. I keep it right next to my wheel and can easily weigh out my fiber projects quickly and easily. Once they’re weighed, I just keep the in-progress fiber in the bowl and I can quickly check where I am in the project if I get curious. Sure, I could always pull out my old kitchen scale and put a bowl on and tare it and what-not, but this one is just slick and so easy to use. Plus, I never would have splurged, but having the dedicated craft scale is so incredibly handy. Thank you, thank you, ladyfriend (you know who you are!)!

Finally, toward the end of the week, I got my act together and wound my yarn so I could cast on for the Susan Ashcroft SAL+KAL over in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry Groupimg_5656I’ll share more info on the handspun yarn that I finished right at the end of the year soon, but having started this yesterday and then re-started it last night to move up a needle size I can honestly say it’s a really a fun, quick, potato chip knit.

And that was the wild and wonderfully relaxing staycation week. It was actually a pretty great way to start the new year — relaxing, playing, and just plain hanging out together.

img_5641Most importantly, it was Moose approved. And really, that’s what counts, right?

Home Again, Home Again

I swear, the better part of the last 6 weeks has been dominated by getting ready to be away from home, being away from home, recovering from being away from home, and being sick. We spent most of last week up visiting my mom while my dad was away fishing and my hubby had meetings for work. It was a good visit — I spent quality time with their lawn tractor as per my usual and then we did some apple picking and a few other fun things around the area with the kiddos. In our down time, I managed to finish up my Hamlin Peak sweater which I have all washed and dried and just need to get some photos taken along with another long overdue FO that has been patiently waiting photography. Suffice to say though, I was happy to get home Friday afternoon and have the weekend to settle in. I had plans to relax, cook off some of the produce from my parents’ garden we’d brought home, and maybe mow the lawn.

Oh, the best laid plans.

Somewhere in the mess that is my grey matter, once I got the squash baking on Saturday morning I thought it would be a good idea to finally move my cedar chest out to the living room near my spinning wheel. We’d moved the dog’s kennel to the basement (since we don’t really use it much anymore) earlier in the summer and it had opened up the space for the chest which had previously been somewhat inconveniently located in our tiny bedroom. My son helped, so the actual moving was not the problem…

img_4442It was the heaps of disorganized fiber-related stuff that posed the more time consuming issue.

I needed to select my Spinzilla fibers anyways, so I just dug in and…

img_4454Voila! Much better!

Oh, and my Spinzilla spins — they’re all from Three Waters Farm as I’ll be on Team TWF…

img_4452From top to bottom: Blooming Treasures (Polwarth/TussahSilk), Night Light (SWmerino/nylon), and Damselfly (BFL).

And just in case I become a speed spinner over the course of the week, I pulled these two as well…

img_4453String of Hearts (SW Targhee) and Rattlesnake (Merino). I figure if I prep them all, I should be more than ready for the week.

Once I finished, I thought I’d earned a little break so in between finishing cleaning & walking the dog, I spun a little on the September Top of the Month Club installment…

img_4455And then while I waited for dinner to bake off, I spun a little more…

img_4462 What a fabulous reward!

Sunday morning, I got going early because I had a tall order on deck — to get the kiddos’ room in order.  A rather large overhaul was on deck requiring some tough decision and hard work from the kids so with the zucchini in hand from my parents’ garden, I got straight to work on some double chocolate zucchini muffins…

img_4458The muffins were the perfect mid-morning snack, but alas proved too much for my poor hand mixer. As I added the flour, there was a pop, some flames, and then a lot of smoke. After 15 years and a lot of mixing, we were forced to say farewell. It was kind enough to get through the hardest part of this job though, a fact for which I’m very grateful!

The kiddos did awesome with their cleaning and as I set them free to relax after a hard day’s work, I settled into my latest knitting project…

img_4460This is Romi Hill’s Swoop in Dyeabolical‘s Tenacious Sock in the Fuchsia So Bright & Lucy colorways. I love the knit — it is SO fun and yet, we had a little disagreement that ended up requiring me to rip back a full repeat (hence all the messy-looking yarn in this photo). Alas, we are friends again and I’m happily knitting along.

There was a little time for spindle spinning…

img_4461And a lot of time for Moose to look at me incredulously while I take his picture…

img_4463So… that was my “relaxing” weekend. It seems there’s really no containing the rush of being home again, at least not for me. I hope your weekend was whatever you wished it would be (and did not involve any appliances on fire)!

Random Happenings

There’s been a whole lot of ‘doing’ and not a lot of writing this week and, you know, while it feels really strange as the words pile up in my head it’s been very good on the productivity front. Today, I thought I’d go kind of casual here in sharing what’s been going on behind the scenes and share some photos and random happenings in list form.

1.Our family went on a really lovely hike on one of our favorite local trails.

img_3353We like to go here this time of year because if we time it just right we see loads of Bobolinks which I love. It’s also the last trail Mr. Knitting Sarah & I hiked before the birth of our oldest, who turns 11 next week.

2. While on this hike, we discovered that for the 12 years we’ve been coming to this trail my husband has been pointing out the call of Grasshopper Sparrows to me and I’ve been hearing just “grasshoppers.” It suddenly made a lot sense why I wasn’t as impressed as I probably could have been all these years when my hubby mentioned them.

3. Over the past month we’ve been doing a massive decluttering/deep clean of our house. It’s meant a couple hours almost every day of cleaning, many trips to Goodwill to make donations, and some tough choices, but it’s been a full family effort and that effort is really, really, really paying off. Our tiny house is feeling much bigger and easier to manage. I’d show you before and after photos, but we actually haven’t stopped to document any of it. We’ve all just been in true nose to the grindstone mode and you’ll have to take my word for that.

4. Part of my end of this decluttering effort has been an on-going yarn destash on Ravelry. The yarn is all very lovely and I’m sure I’d eventually get to it, but it’s just time for me to reclaim some space and send some of the yarn to new homes. Please feel free to check out the destash page — as of today it contains a wide range of commercial yarns as well as a few of my select handspun yarns.

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5. I’ve been doing a lot of plying.img_3372-2This photo shows a skein that’s now finished and I’m finally on my last plying job for the Akerworks Flat Pack Lazy Kate Test. The test officially concluded just after I started the last bit of plying, so I timed it pretty well. I’ll tell you more about my experience with this awesome Kate soon, but for now you can check them out on the Akerworks website as they are now officially up for sale.

6. I helped launch the sign-ups for Team Three Waters Farm for the Tour de Fleece.

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As you probably remember, I’m a little bananas for the Tour de Fleece so this is pretty exciting for me. It’ll soon be time to start picking my spins for this year and setting some goals. The shop currently is taking pre-orders for the Official 2016 Tour de Fleece colorway, Summer Jubilee…

Pre-Order Tour de Fleece Colorway, Superwash Merino/ Nylon Roving (Top) - Handpainted Spinning or Felting Fiber, Summer Jubilee

It’s not a requirement to participate on the team, but it is available on 3 different bases and, really, isn’t it fantastic?! If you’re a spinner and have some Three Waters Farm fiber in your stash (or feel like picking some up — the shop is always full of glorious temptation), I hope you’ll join us!

7.  I did some poolside knitting while the kiddos did some serious swimming.img_3312Generally speaking, I swim laps for a certain amount of time and then I earn my knitting/watching the kiddos time. It’s a good deal all around.

8. I’ve been using this Andean Plying Tool I picked up from Karen of Gift of Grace Handspun.

img_3301I love using an Andean Plying Bracelet to use every last bit of my singles yarn, but I always wound it too tight on my hand and, you know, started to cut off circulation to my middle finger (it was not great). I’m still getting the hang of it, but already this tool helps so much!

9. Moose was his usual ridiculous self.img_3370

10. After finishing a couple projects, I started something new on my needles.img_3351-1This is Joji Locatelli’s new Broken Wings shawl using Be Sweet Skinny Wool. The combination, in a word, is divine.

I hope your Friday is full of random beauty & awesomeness!

Sleeping, Spinning, Hiking, Spinning, Sleeping

I have so many great things to share with you this week, but first I kind of want to share a little bit about my weekend. It started here.

IMG_0905With a sleepy Moose. That’s where most of my days start, of course, but this was extra cute as he covered his nose and every breath sounded like a deflating balloon. He’s such a goof.

In any case, last week I had some pretty epic yarn mail that included no fewer than 4 projects that I am dying to get working on (and include some special deals for you!), not to mention the sweater I’ve been knitting for my son. After writing the spinning post on Friday and then doing the little spinning Periscope on Saturday morning, however, I was really inspired to do a little spinning myself. So I did.

I had just a few minutes after the ‘scope before I had to take the kiddos to a fall festival, so I grabbed these ‘puni style rolags’ from naturallyknitty.

IMG_0920I got them back during the Tour de Fleece when my expectations for how much I would spin were well beyond reality. They are a cormo-cashmere-falkland-firestar-merino-other-silk-corrie cross blend in a colorway called Grumpy Rainbow.

IMG_0896Using the purpleheart sperm whale Turkish spindle I picked up from Snyder Spindles at the WI Sheep & Wool, I instantly became completely hooked on this fiber and the new spindle. The rolags are beautiful and just really, really easy to spin. Wow, do I ever recommend them! In the interest of full disclosure, they caused me to immediately seriously consider getting myself a blending board to make my own rolags for spindling. I think I’ll put that on my Christmas list, for sure.

The spindle is excellent, too. At 1.3oz it was a little heavier than I’m used to, but it spins really nicely and I have to admit I just love the novelty of the sperm whale. The kids and I once watched the coolest documentary on sperm whales in which they dissect a beached whale and a comparative anatomist talks about its coolest features. It was so incredible that even though it’s been more than a year since watching it when my kiddos see me spinning with this spindle they immediately start recalling all these amazing sperm whale facts. It’s pretty awesome. And it makes me want to watch the documentary again. And maybe spin while watching it.

After a morning of fall festivities with bouncy houses,  wagon rides, and apple cider kettle corn (it sounds weird, but it’s delicious), I thought I’d earned a stop at The Woolgatherer’s. A family store that originated in Germany and then relocated to the US, this shop is where I got my very first basic spinning fiber so it seemed appropriate that I stop back in after having just taken that trip down memory lane of my early days of spinning. I was looking for a spindle to replace the one I’ve been letting my daughter use and I found a beauty…

IMG_0900It’s 1.65oz and made by Tracy Eichheim and it was love at first spin. It was recommended by Sara and Hans, the owners, complete with instructions that I be very careful with the hook which is slightly and strategically bent to make it spin longer. They were wonderful to chat with and I learned a ton — from how these spindles are somewhat rare right now since the Eichheim’s relocated to how commercial linen yarns are made vs traditional methods to how Icelandic Lopi is spun (so fascinating!). And of course, I asked about a good starter loom — something I’ve been toying with trying for a while now and will also be on my Christmas list — maybe not for this year, but for a ‘someday’ Christmas.

Alas, I just walked out with my new spindle and got right to spinning with it when I got home.

IMG_0902It’s a pretty simple spindle, but I kind of love it for that. The signature on the bottom is such an endearing touch, too.

The rest of the weekend involved a lot of sleep. I’ve been fighting a pretty sore throat and just generally feeling under the weather, so I’ve been trying to rest a lot. On Sunday, I did take the kiddos and pup out for a hike though to Horion Marsh. It’s a beautiful time of year, after all, and I was raised on the idea that light exercise in the fresh air is an excellent way to fight colds and other non-serious respiratory ailments.

IMG_0908It’s that time of year that all the colors are vibrant and the kids were happily bundled, running and playing despite a stiff wind.

IMG_0910Moose was a little confused by this trail since he had to 1) stay leashed and 2) not go in the water. He is actually an excellent off leash dog, so we tend to take him places where that’s ok, but I needed something a little more low-key so the easy, must-stay-leashed trail was it. As usual, he was pretty happy just to be with us.

I got home and spun a little more in between a bit of knitting.

IMG_0916As you can see I started to get a little braver, flexing my spinning muscles and changing up the yarn weight at will and creating a thick & thin single. This is the original fiber I started learning to use the spindle with this summer, so nothing about it will be uniform anyway. I thought I’d embrace that and use it to my advantage and really see what I could do as far as controlling the yarn I was making.  It’s a blast and I’m loving the range of weights this spindle lets me create with ease.

All in all, it was an awfully nice, mostly low-key weekend that even though it involved an insane amount of sleep it was pretty productive. I could not be any happier with my little acquisition and even though I’m still not feeling 100% yet, I’m glad I was able to do some spinning and that we got a nice hike in, too. Oh, and of course there was some extra fun knitting that happened, as well. I’m totally addicted to my latest project and I even have a new coupon code for you should you want to try it out, too. I’ll be sharing that soon– I promise! — So stay tuned!