The Wool Wins

This week the weather has been cooperative and so my week has been largely about trying to get my FO photos taken in between all the stuff of life. And then in the free moments I’ve had when I probably should have been writing, I’ve been playing with yarn and fiber. Sometimes I’m just hopeless that way. Sometimes the wool wins.

The big WIP I’ve got going, my serious, serious addiction knit is my handspun Featherweight Cardigan. I’ve been talking about it a lot. And I’m going to be straight with you, you’re going to hear a lot about it until it’s done. It’s just the way it is because I’m so in love with the project and I can’t put it down. Last night after fussing a little about which bind-off to use on the body — I went with Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off –I finished  it off  and I got the sleeves going. Once again I’m going the 2-at-a-time route for the sleeves so the length and decreases all match.

img_4919And finally a photo in natural light! Aren’t the colors awesome?!

Since I’m working the sleeves 2-at-a-time with 2 sets of needles (my preferred method), I’m excited that I’m able to use my Knitter’s Pride Royale and Karbonz tips. I’ve been using the Royales — my new loves — on the rest of the sweater and really like knitting with them. The trick for me with 2-at-a-time sleeves with 2 set of needles is that I like to get tips that are somewhat similar to keep things uniform throughout the knit. Since the Royale and Karbonz tips are very similar, if not identical, they are the perfect pair to get the job done.

Currently I have a 16″ cord on one side and a 32″ on the other because I couldn’t locate a free 24″ — generally I like to have just one cord size different on the “front needle” and “back needle”. The size difference helps me to easily tell the sides apart which is extremely handy, but keeping them somewhat close in length just feels more comfortable to me. I’ll make due for now, but I just placed an order for a 24″ cord from Dyeabolical, who now stocks a number of needles and notions including the 24″ color-coded cord from Knitter’s Pride I need. When it arrives, I’ll switch one of one of the current ones out. I’m not sure which I’ll prefer, I tend to go with short as it’s less ‘stuff’ to handle, but the 16″ is pretty short. By the time the 24″ arrives, I’m sure I’ll have developed a preference.

In any case, the rest of my fibery exploits have been of the spinning variety. I like to spin daily just to keep spinning, but I really do credit the flipping back and forth between knitting and spinning with keeping my hands, arms, neck, and back from having too much discomfort. That said, I’ve currently got three (yikes!) spinning projects on the go.

On the wheel, I’m working on Three Waters Farm Black Pansies.

img_4915It’s a merino/tussah silk blend and I’m spinning it somewhat fine from approximately 1gram nests which I’ll then chain ply. This is kind of an ahhhhhhh spin. It’s 100% in my comfort zone and it’s just a pleasure to sit back and spin it. Plus, I adore that super vibrant yellow.

I’m also working on a spindle project with my 0.85oz Golding ring spindles.

img_4916I haven’t been very nose to the grindstone with this spin, but somewhere in the last couple of weeks I wound my way into spindle #2 of this spin. These are rolags from Classy Squid Fiber Co. that I picked up at the end of last year as part of her Iceland Perspectives series. This colorway is called “Reykjavik”, a place I’ve always wanted to go. You know what they say, if you can’t go to a certain place, you can spin the colorway inspired by said place. OK, I’m guessing no one says that except me. In any case, I’m loving the textures and colors here. I have a total of 6oz of these rolags and I haven’t yet decided if I’ll spindle spin them all or spin some on the wheel. And I have zero clue how I want to ply them. This spin, like many a trip I’ve taken, I’m kind of leaving wide open to possibilities.

And finally, as I’ve been playing with a very, very new prototype from Akerworks (I’ll share details in time), I was curious to try said prototype with my Akerworks mini-spindles. Since I didn’t have a project on them at the moment, it seemed only right that I start a new one.

img_4917In the interest of full disclosure, the kids and I have been reading through The Hunger Games Trilogy and I’ve kind of got Katniss Everdeen on the brain. So now — because it’s just the brand of nerd that I am — I’m spinning her tale with these puni style rolags from Naturally Knitty named “Miss Everdeen.” I think I got the last 2oz of “Miss Everdeen,” the most lovely, earthy blues, green, and browns with just a hint of a spark with a touch of true red. I intend to ply it with 2oz of “Mockingjay” (still available in the shop) which is similar, but with fewer earth tones and more of an overall grey tone with the blues and greens. It’s just such a fun project.

Somewhere around there’s a stripey sock I have around in case I find myself with some windshield time that doesn’t lend itself well to sleeves or spinning. As I’ve either been the driver or not in the car, I haven’t really done much with it the last week. I’ll save that for another day.

As you can see, a lot’s been getting done behind the scenes here even if my posts have been a bit sporadic lately. So the wonderful, wonderful truth is that the fact that I’m hopeless and lose myself in my projects isn’t all bad at all. No, when the wool wins the results are generally awfully pretty. I think that’s a pretty decent trade-off.

Up North

Last year our son really got into fishing so over the winter we decided to plan a fishing vacation during our boy’s birthday week. We found a very old-school looking family-owned resort in Northern Wisconsin that had everything we were looking for — a dog-friendly cabin that would fit our family plus my parents, a dock to fish from & where we could tie-up my dad’s fishing boat, and a lake with fish in it. And last week we packed up our little car and made the 5hour trek north to Lost Land Lake.

Reserving these types of places online sight-unseen is always a bit of a gamble because you really never know what a place is like. A couple photos online and testimonials help, but you never really know until you get there. After a quick stop for groceries in Hayward, the nearest town, we  made the 30minute drive out of all cell service to the very end of a dead-end road on which the Northland Lodge is situated. When I walked into the lodge, I was greeted with a smile and a handshake by an extremely kind lady who let me know that my parents had just arrived and then gave me a run-down of activities and amenities.

We made our way to our neat & tidy little cabin and spent the evening getting settled in. It was quite literally just steps away from the water…

img_3499And although the cabins did not have a ton of space between them, I found the resort to be very quiet and peaceful.  Despite the early morning that would surely be coming from us, that didn’t stop a certain little lady from getting her hook in the water that very night…

img_3507When you have fish at your doorstep, why wait? As the last of the light faded, we all made our way to bed for the night. Falling asleep to loons calling out on the lake, I definitely had a good feeling about the week.

And then I awoke the next morning to this…

img_3400Does it get any more picturesque?

I spent the next day and a good portion of every day doing this… img_3505I learned a lot on the boat during this trip. First, that my re-spooling of our fishing poles was a drastic improvement over the mess we had at the end of last year. Second, I am now a wizard with the palomar knot and I’m working on getting better with the uni knot. And third, the fisherman’s gloves that I have really help me get over the issues I have handling fish. I’m not proud to admit that handling them totally weirds me out, but it totally does. It totally, totally does. And these gloves actually really helped me get over that to the point that I can get in there and take hooks out all by myself. Sure, as I’m doing it I’m usually talking the fish through it — “Hey guy, I’m sorry I hooked you, but if you hold still I’ll get it out quickly and put you right back in the water, OK?” The main thing, though, is that I can actually help the kids as well as myself when we’re out and that makes the whole experience a lot better for everyone. In any case, the fish were biting like gangbusters — we caught loads of small fish, most of which we released except for just enough for a little fish fry for my son’s birthday party on Friday night.

We also brought along one of our kayaks which the kids loved getting acquainted with and Moose…

img_3501Well, he insisted on having a turn, too. He’s such a weird dog.

We also discovered something new about Moose…

img_3435We are well aware that he sometimes doesn’t understand the difference between shouts of joy & shouts of distress, so when my daughter was whew-hooing away with kayaking glee, Moose did what he thought needed to be done.

img_3443He chased her down…

img_3456Grabbed the strap on the front of the boat…

img_3457Towed her into shore…

img_3453Got himself some sure footing on land and held her there.

We’re not sure how he figured this all out since we didn’t show him how to do any of it, but I’ll admit my heart melted a little to know what great lengths my sweet pup will go to keep my kiddos safe. The downside, of course, is that once he put it all together he seemed kind of frustrated that after all his hard work both kids always wanted to instantly turn back around and go back out. He kept trying to grab them and tow them back in before they passed the end of the dock. As you can imagine, this made for a very tired Moose.

img_3490Silly, sweet Moose.

While Mr. Knitting Sarah took charge of the kayaking lessons with both kids, I stole a little time for crafting. I had packed up my spinning wheel and a couple projects when at the last minute we discovered that my spinning wheel would not fit in the car. I won’t lie, I was so sad!  Thinking on my feet because we were literally headed out the door, I grabbed a simple knitting project and my spindle spinning project to take its place. And the weirdest thing happened…

img_3504It was perfect!

I kept catching my husband watching me as I spun and then he would start chuckling to himself. Thinking he was laughing at me, after a couple days I called him out on it to which he responded, “No! I’m not laughing at you! I’m laughing at me. It’s just so hypnotic I can’t stop staring at it!” And it was — very soothing and relaxing and dare I say I actually really increased not only my comfort level with the spindles, but also my speed which was fantastic.

img_3494I managed to get through most of what remained of this 2oz of fiber and officially finished it up last night at home. This is one of my 1+1+1 projects that I thought was hopeless, that I would never finish on time. Now… there’s a chance. I’ve got the contrast color I’ll be plying with it left to go and I’m optimistic that the singles will be done by the end of the month.

I’ve been working on a lace knitting project which I knew would not fly in this type of environment, so instead I started yet another of my 1+1+1 projects…

img_2232My Hamlin Peak Cardi in Quince & Co Kestrel. It’s a very simple knit that I’ve really been enjoying. In the interest of full disclosure, I had to start over a couple times because I wasn’t being very careful about increases, but I’m on the straight-and-narrow now. I really love how simple the design is and I’m finding it a super fun knit. It turned out being a great fit for the fishing trip, too, because my hands were so incredibly dry from being in the water and worm dirt and what-have-you all day that there were times the wool of my spinning project was sticking to my hands like velcro. The linen posed no such problems. Hooray!

The birthday boy, of course, was spoiled appropriately. He picked a double chocolate cake along with some cookies & cream ice cream to follow his fish fry birthday dinner and mac n’ cheese birthday dinner. I added the trick candles because I knew his trickster nature would appreciate it. He was showered with a few new books, including a D&D Monster Manual that he read non-stop in his non-fishing time — he loves to create monsters!

img_3496He also got a couple Tin-Tin books as well as a couple new Wii games to indulge in at home. But mostly, he was happy to have loads of time for this…

img_3506And we were delighted to spend that time with him.

All in all, we had beautiful weather, excellent fishing, and many good times. The only thing missing was catching a glimpse of a black bear out in the wild which was on my husband’s wishlist. We even went for a hike through the woods thick with mosquitoes to try to see one but to no avail. Next time, I guess. Next time.

We’re home now, tanned and tired and only driven slightly mad by our share of mosquito bites. The bags are mostly unpacked. The Laundry (yes, with a capital L) is being tackled slowly, but surely. The kayak is put away in the boathouse. And the kids are sleeping in. And I’m going to sip my coffee and exist in this moment for just a little while longer…

img_3500It doesn’t get a whole lot better than this.

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.