Saugerties Reprise

In early spring this year, I finished my Saugerties Shrug.

IMG_9599The pattern was love at first sight for me & I did the unthinkable in order to get this project on my needles: I actually set an alarm and entered the crazy & cut-throat race that are Plucky Knitter updates. Don’t get me wrong, The Plucky Knitter has some incredible yarns and colorways — I don’t think anyone can deny that. I’m just not into how competitive and rushed trying to order this yarn is. In any case, it says a lot that I actually made a point to get the kit.

Of course, there was a little drama. If you’ll remember from my post on the shrug I had narrowed the colorways down beforehand, but I misunderstood which was the main color and which was the contrast color so when the kit finally arrived I was kind of bummed. I emailed customer service — knowing full well it was my own fault — and asked if there was any chance I could buy an extra couple skeins of the dark color, Magnet & Steel, so I could flip the colors. They were prompt & friendly and set me right up and I went about the business of making my shrug. As you can see, it turned out great and I wear it all the time around my house now. It’s just perfect for throwing on for an added layer especially in the early morning or when I have to let Moose out. My husband compliments me on it a lot, too, which is kind of cool. When you knit as much as I do, I think those around you kind of become immune to fabulous knitwear so pointing out particular interest in one piece means it must be pretty special.

In any case, I decided last week it was time to make the matching hat. I’ll admit to having multiple motives. I wanted to knit a cool hat, yes, but I also knew it would be a good way to get my hands back in the groove of colorwork for a holiday project which I wanted to start. I got it on the needles the day before Thanksgiving and worked it just until I got past the needle change and got the second color started…

IMG_1485Once our noontime Thanksgiving meal was over and my cleaning duties complete, I settled back in with it while I visited with my mom. And before I knew it…

IMG_1489I was on the crown!

IMG_1493-1I finished just in time to watch the (less than stellar) Packer football game with my dad.

 IMG_1534And, of course, it’s been put through its paces. I honestly did not realize it was as slouchy as it is before I started. And yes, it’s supposed to be — I did check my gauge repeatedly throughout as well as once it was complete and it’s spot-on. I was a little unsure about that slouch when it first came off the needle, but I’m digging it now. It’s a great addition to my cold weather wardrobe.

Along with the successful hat, the project I was using it to prep for was also a great success…

IMG_1513-0I’ll just share one quick in-progress black & white photo for now and then I’ll share a proper FO post after the holiday. The recipient knows they are coming, but doesn’t know which colors I selected and I think it’ll be more fun to keep that a secret. Suffice to say, I purchased this pattern way back at the beginning of summer and was delighted to have an excuse to knit up a pair of these fantastic slippers. They knit up in a flash and turned out just wonderful, no doubt in thanks to the extra practice with my hat. It’s rare that I plan my knitting to work out quite so neatly, but I have to admit I’m pretty pleased with how these two project played out. A new hat for me, a holiday gift complete all by way of knitting with one of my favorite techniques. What a great way to spend a a few days worth of my crafting time!

The First Snowfall

This morning we awoke to our first snowfall.

IMG_1447I might have been tempted to take the kiddos out for a hike, but my leg was a little tender last night so instead we had a slow morning.

IMG_1444Not feeling quite up to using my wheel for spinning, I substituted some stitching. I’m on the border of my Miss Grace Shawl. At 770 stitches, it sure feels like I’m approaching the end at a snail’s pace, but I’m getting there.

And I’m getting excited.

In beginning to plan out the next month of knitting. As usual, with only a handful of weeks to go, I’ve decided to add some holiday knitting & spinning into the mix. And then since I’ve been wearing my Saugerties Shrug constantly lately, I thought, “Hey, I should knit up that matching hat.” Colorowork in worsted weight will just fly off the needles, right? Well, this started what can only described as an epic expedition into my uncharted, recently moved stash to find the skeins of Plucky Trusty in Magnet & Steel and Thank You Note that were leftover from the shrug.

Well, on the first dive into the ‘deep stash’ I found my Thank you Note skeins…

IMG_1439And five other skeins followed me back upstairs to hang out with the yarn that is on display/set out to daydream about in my living room.

But the Magnet & Steel skein was eluding me.

So I dove back in and thankfully found it…

IMG_1440And these 5 skeins wound up back upstairs, too.

I may be hopeless, but I think only in the best of ways. This is what the first snowfall does to us — it makes those of us who knit and spin turn into these wildly, beautifully ambitious creatures. It convinces us that we must knit & spin all the things and that we can knit & spin all the things. If only we can find that one particular skein. And 10 others. After all, what is life without dreams & aspirations and lofty goals?

Oodles of Time Outside & A Bit of Time for Craft

IMG_8455This is a photo of my daughter on the trail yesterday (she was goofing around with her new-found love of climbing trees & crossing downed ones), but this is pretty much what I feel like this morning. I’ve been fighting off some sort of low-level cold for the last week, but in true form I’ve been trying to ignore it as much as possible. Especially with the beautiful weather we’ve been having, it’s been hard to want to admit that I’m achy and tired and have stuff in my throat. Today I woke up feeling a little defeated, deflated, and exhausted, so perhaps it’ll be a good idea to grab a little rest when I can.

In any case, I thought I’d share some of what we’ve been up to around here over the past week because despite my not feeling the best it’s been a lot of fun. After a mostly quiet weekend, my husband had his days off early this week. As is our usual approach, one of his days off we went a bit further afield and one we stayed closer to home. Monday became our ‘further afield’ day and we took advantage of the relatively warm temps to visit the Cedarburg Bog. It’s a very beautiful natural area, but as you can imagine as a bog that is relatively sheltered on all sides by forest it tends to be rife with mosquitoes most of the year.

IMG_8389This late in winter/early in spring, though, it’s a beautiful quiet spot for a walk.

IMG_8400We did find a small pool of open bog water and the dog, of course, found a way to jump in it. He smelled delightful for the remainder of the day before I was able to get him a bath, but oh was he ever pleased with himself!

It also proved an excellent spot for climbing trees.

As I mentioned earlier, my daughter recently learned to really climb and — much like a baby who learns to roll over and then rolls all over the house all the time just because he/she can — now my girl climbs everything. Turn your back and she’s be 6feet in the air. It’s awesome and terrifying.

From here we made a quick stop at The Covered Bridge in Cedarburg

IMG_8409It was built in 1876 and it’s really amazing to be able to walk through it.

IMG_8408I especially loved seeing the total lack of nails. From what we could see, wooden dowels and shims hold this bridge together and that just seems utterly amazing and completely awesome to me.

After lunch, we headed out to see a new-to-us spot, the Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve where we were greeted with gorgeous views of a pristine looking Lake Michigan…

IMG_8412and lots and lots of mud.

IMG_8421 There was a particularly hilarious incident with my daughter, a muddy cliff side, and a video I may have taken of her trying to get back up to the trail while my husband spotted her, but because one day she’ll be an adult and probably doesn’t need that one publicly circulated I’ll refrain from sharing.

By the end of the day, my girl was pretty exhausted — it was a lot of walking for those little legs and the complaining started about a half mile from the car. My husband and I were just starting to lose patience with her — there are only so many times you can say, “No, we can’t carry you” and “We’re very close, just a little bit further” — when it got very quiet. I looked back and saw this…

IMG_8435Big brother to the rescue! I think beyond the practical approach of talking with her and taking her mind off of how tired she was, the thing that made me tear up the most was that he had taken her by the hand. Such a simple, yet comforting touch.

When day off #2 rolled around on Wednesday, we decided to go for a walk to another new-to-us spot, Hobbs’ Woods which of course had to involve…

a tiger

(I know the name isn’t spelled the same, but it does sound the same and sometimes that’s close enough).

We had an early picnic lunch here…

IMG_8447and there was a whole lot of this…

I’m constantly impressed by both of my kids. Their balance and common sense and confidence out in the woods is just incredible. Well, the common sense comes and goes a bit, but it’s pretty solid for the most part.

All in all, it was a wonderful spot to spend a few hours rambling. I have to admit that I kept this quote in my mind was we walked the muddy trails…

IMG_8460I just found it really said what’s been ruminating my heart the last couple months. There’s definitely a reason this great man is our son’s namesake.

And even though there’s been oodles of time spent outside, there’s been a bit of time for my craft. I’m continuing to work on my marled batts spinning project…

IMG_8384It continues to be awesome.

And I’ve been plugging along on my Saugerties Shrug.

IMG_8463As you can see, I’ve managed to make it into the second chart and as of this morning I’m about halfway through it. It shouldn’t be too long now before I’m wrapping this project up. In all honesty, I’m not quite sure what’ll come next — perhaps I’ll finish up the Petty Harbour socks I’ve been working or maybe I’ll start a summery sweater or maybe a new shawl. Perhaps my to-knit list will have to be a post here over the next couple of days to help me organize my thoughts. What are your knitting and spinning plans these days? I’d love to hear!

Exactly As It Should Be

I’ve always felt a strong connection to and curiosity for the natural world. That probably does not come as a surprise based on the little adventures with my family that I share here. Perhaps it’s the coming to the end of the long winter or maybe it’s just been the act of getting out everyday to walk the dog, but it’s felt as though my eyes have been opened to the fact that that connection had been weakened. It’s always been a kind of spiritual thing for me. To go out into the world — to have the luxury to just listen, to see the minutia that make up this big beautiful place, to feel the cold wind bite my nose or the rough tree bark under my fingertips or the sun on my shoulders — it builds something important in my soul, something that needs to be there.

We’ve always taken our kids out with us and that really changes the experience. There are moments like this…

IMG_8275… that are absolutely priceless. This photo of my babies sits on my nightstand because I simply want to remember that moment, everyday, forever. Introducing children to the outdoors, there is so much time spent re-learning… well, so much. And there is little to compare what it’s like to see the wonder in your child’s eye as they catch frogs or see a racoon hidden up in a nest. There are the hilarious moments — usually involving water — when one child cartwheels out of a canoe (in a life vest, going very slowly) or the other falls into a river and gets her shoe stuck in the muddy river bottom. But the outdoors with kids, it’s also at times challenging. Someone is always tired or cold or hot or hungry. Someone is always talking. It can be very hard to nurse your own personal connection to the world and there are times when it taxes one’s patience. Through the years though we persevered though because we knew it was important to foster our children’s own connection with the natural world.

And then the craziest thing happened. The kids grew up and they love being outdoors. They understand good trail etiquette. They stick together and can run ahead, giving us moments of quiet clarity. They understand that sometimes when we shush them it’s to listen in order to find a bird up in the treetops and they are even interested in looking themselves. They investigate and play with us, but also love time to explore independently. They still need our help and guidance, we still watch them carefully, but we also trust them to understand their limits (to an extent at least, our daughter is still a bit of a daredevil). To see my son on the trail is to see him come alive – confident and strong and adventurous. This is the balance we’ve been waiting for all these years.

Yesterday was a day in which this balance changed the very color of the day. We went back to a family favorite, Parfrey’s Glen, a pretty spectacular gorge in the Baraboo Hills. It is a rocky hike in the summer along a creek complete with little rapids and in the winter, it is a rocky hike with a fair bit of ice that can be quite slick. But unlike the summer, in the winter you run into maybe one or two other groups of hikers there. We pretty much had this little gem to ourselves.

fernAnd we had the time to notice the little things.

photo by Mr Knitting Sarah

And the kids were great as they stuck together and worked as a team and they had a blast. The air was crisp and just hearing the rushing water beneath the ice was a much appreciated sign of spring — as well as a good opportunity to talk to the kids about ice safety. There’s always a lesson to be learned, isn’t there? And we enjoyed one of the nicest hikes we’ve had as a family. Moving fluidly, spending time with each other together and each individually and even…

little pink… a little time alone.

I have to say, there just aren’t any people on Earth that warm my heart and make me laugh like these three people. It seems that there is little question that the connection to the natural world is intertwined with my connection to them and I think that’s exactly as it should be.

After our little hike we cruised on down to Prairie du Sac to see if we could see some eagles. They usually congregate in numbers just below the dam on the Wisconsin River there. We had a picnic my husband had packed (picnics are my favorite) and afterward the dog went for a swim.

IMG_8272As you can see, the river is pretty open so there were only a couple eagles to be seen. Still a nice spot to stop and have lunch. And it certainly made the dog happy which is only fair since he had to wait dutifully in the car while we hiked as he is not allowed on the trail at Parfrey’s Glen. We bring him along on these trips even if he can’t hike because he seems to prefer riding in the car with us to staying home alone in his kennel. I can’t blame him one bit.

From here, we had a bit of an impulse stop…

wollersheim… at the always beautiful Wollersheim Winery.

IMG_8263We stop maybe every other year on our eagle watching day. I actually don’t think I’ve ever visited this winery not in the winter, but there’s still plenty to see and enjoy.

Usually we pick up a bottle or two and maybe do a quick complimentary tasting. This time, however, my husband convinced me to taste a flight….

red flightI’m definitely not a wine aficionado — like my music, I just like what I like. And I’m actually not much of a drinker at all, but I do like a nice dry red wine once and a while. I had stopped this time with the Beaujolais in mind. It’s a wine that I really like, but don’t always find readily. And the red list had 2 or 3 I hadn’t tried before, so I couldn’t argue with my husband over the tasting.

IMG_8264And the kids enjoyed studying the intricacies of their sparkling grape juice, too. We may or may not have taken a case home. Really, I had to — if you purchased a case you got a “free” bottle of port and my husband loves port. So really, I did it for him.

We listened to more of The Great Brain on the ride home — all quiet and tuckered from a long day. And I knit some more on my Saugerties Shawl.

IMG_8212-1Pardon me re-sharing the same photo from a couple days ago, but I just love this photo — I think it’s just very peaceful and it does capture my mood on the way home. Plus, I didn’t snap one yesterday on the drive back (whoops). I can share that I’ve got about 20″ left to go before beginning the colorwork on the other sleeve though and I’m already more than a little antsy to get there. If I’ve learned anything in this little life though, it’s that a little patience in the moment can go a long way in finding joy, it can even help to see it in the slow or trying moments. And, you know, that’s exactly as it should be.

It’s The End of February

I’m going to start this post on a totally and completely random note. Saturday was Moose’s 3rd birthday.

He mostly slept and ‘helped’ with laundry, but he did manage to get an inordinate amount of snuggle and hang-out-under-the-covers-sleeping time. He’s pretty indoorsy and he loves a good cozy, lazy day, so all in all it was a very Moose-tastic day.

So with that dose of adorableness, on to the main story here today.

It’s the end of February. We are still very much in the throes of winter, but there has been a cardinal singing the last three mornings at dawn. And that same dawn & her faithful compatriot, dusk, are slowly gnawing away at those long winter nights. Yes, the earliest signs of spring are upon us as we pile on the blankets for another string of subzero nights. As creatures intertwined with our place in the world, it is hard sometimes to know which way to lean. It must be the end of February.

As a knitter, this limbo is even more pronounced. I can’t decide if I should knit one more bulky sweater, those worsted weight socks, bunches of mittens, and an extra hat & cowl or if it’s time to start clicking away on the linen tank & sweater and the laceweight cardigan I have lined up. A part of my mind remembers I need to catalog my fiber stash, too, because I have this idyllic vision of setting up my spinning wheel on the back deck and spinning in the warm sun. But I’m reminded that there will be actual months of cold and then cool mornings yet that require those big cozy sweaters and shawls and the deck is covered in snow, so spinning is limited to an indoor activity for a while.

Suffice to say, there’s a whole lot of back and forth & it definitely affects what happens (or fails to happen) on my needles. I find that this big seasonal shift breeds an indecision unlike any other in my life. More than any other time of year, I start knitting up patterns only to rip them out a day later. Projects stall on my needles. I sit staring at yarn & patterns for days, unable to settle on what to start. I wonder if I should sew a top or dress instead. I’m all over the place. It must be the end of February.

So at times like this, I think you just have to do your best. You have to be patient. You have to allow yourself mistakes in the projects you choose. You have to rip out those stalled projects and find the ones that keep you knitting, whatever types of projects they are. Linen, bulky wool, hats, socks, sweaters, reds, blues, yellows, greens, greys — whatever. Just keep knitting. Personally, I know that a key to surviving the doldrums of February is to just knit my way out.

So this weekend, I whipped up a quick cabled worsted weight cowl…

This is the Forest Park Cowl by Liz Abinante (a free pattern on Ravelry). The ladies at Cream City Yarn shared this on their Facebook feed a week or two ago and I instantly knew it would be a great fit for the skein of Sincere Sheep Bannock I had wound. A couple weeks earlier, I had started the uber popular Adama Cowl with this yarn, but despite knowing it was a good match, I just wasn’t feeling it and it stalled out. I’m much happier with this combination and thanks to a little obsessive knitting it only took about a day for me to make and I washed it immediately. I’ll share some photos of this beautiful dusty purple cowl as soon as it’s dry.

Then, I felt like I’d neglected my sock knitting mojo after stalling out with the pattern SupernovaIt’s awesome, just too complex for my current needs and I finally admitted that fact. I hunted down a new pattern to go with the beautiful skein of Pagewood Farm’s St Elias I’d been working with…

What I found was found Petty Harbour by Rayna Curtis Fegan (another free pattern on Ravelry) and it is just perfect. It’s very, very similar to Hermione’s Everyday Socks — super simple, but still interesting. Perfect for both the yarn and my state of mind.

And, of course, I thought maybe one big project to alternate with the socks…

So I wound some yarn to start the Saugerties Shrug. I fell in love with this pattern when it came out last December and managed to order a kit direct from Plucky Knitter. I almost never bother with these crazy update events, but I made the time for this very ‘me’ friendly pattern. I cast-on yesterday over research for an exchange with one of my oldest and dearest friends. I still have to tell you about the exchange we did last December — which was one of the most fun gift exchanges ever — but this year the theme is one of our favorite movies from high school, the classic rom-com French Kiss. We moved the deadline up to Labor Day this year, so I needed to get the ideas roiling.

Saugerties, though, in the beautiful Plucky Knitter Trusty…

It’s just a joy to knit. And it’ll surely be a treat to wear… whether that happens this spring or next fall.

Sure, I have a pile of linen waiting. And yes, and I have fabric for tanks and sundresses to sew up. For now, though, just for a little while I’m going to stop thinking about what I should be knitting. I’m going to stop plotting how to best time it all out. And I’m just going to knit. I’m going to knit what makes me happy. I’m going to make the most of these cold, quiet nights. It’s the end of February and I’m going to knit my way right into spring.