New Adventures On The Horizon

If you’ve been wondering why I sort of fell off the radar last week, I’ve got some very exciting news to share:

The Knitting Sarah clan is moving!

Last week Mr Knitting Sarah was presented an opportunity to relocate for work and it didn’t take long at all for us to agree that it would be a fantastic move for our family. Since we’re not the kind to hem & haw and knowing the move would need to happen relatively quickly, we jumped right into action and started to make our plans for the move. Sifting through what will go with us and what we’ll donate, helping the kids get excited for the new town and allaying their fears, working on a timeline for how to get our own house sold, and beginning to house hunt all happened as soon as we made the decision to go. Thanks to my parents’ willingness to watch the kiddos & Moose for the weekend, my husband and I were even able to spend the weekend house-hunting and getting to know our soon-to-be new hometown, Marshfield, Wisconsin.

Now it’s worth noting that I actually grew up visiting the area. My mom and dad both graduated from high school just north of Marshfield and while they moved to the eastern part of the state when they married, a lot of their family members remained local (and they both come from large families). Family reunions were almost always held in neighboring towns and regular visits were made. I remember once a year I’d find myself piling into the backseat of my aunt’s Buick so we could drive down to Thorp to a certain butcher shop which my mom’s very Polish family swore had the best Polish sausage around. Sundays spent in Medford, meant my Grandma’s fresh paczkis after church. She always added raisins, but since I wasn’t a fan she’d leave a couple plain just for me. My Grandpa lived in Greenwood and before he passed a few years back, he spent free time touring the area playing his concertina with his polka band. I could go on and on — there are endless memories and lots of places that I’m excited to revisit.

I’ve been back once or twice for family events in my adult life, but the trips were always very quick and family focused so spending time in Marshfield proper this past weekend gave me a chance to really get a feel for the town. Marshfield is a small town in north-central Wisconsin, but as home to a large hospital and medical research facility it’s a really unique & diverse place. On our first evening in town, we visited the Blue Heron Pub where I enjoyed a delicious yellow curry dish with fresh naan. In fact, all the restaurants we visited had delicious food. We even found time to try out Biggby Coffee for a quick morning jolt before house-hunting. As a family that really loves a lot of different kinds of food, we were so impressed with the quality and variety of food available. And coffee, too. Coffee is very important, of course.

It’s a beautiful community,as well, that boasts a beautiful new library, lots of mature trees, bike paths, and green spaces including the Wildwood Zoo which focuses on North American wildlife and includes some wonderful nature trails, right in town. For the times you want something a little more wild, drive in any direction for just a few minutes and you can find yourself out in wide-open country, under some of the brightest stars you can imagine. There’s even a marsh just outside of town! How perfect is that for my little family?! McMillan Marsh has seasonal bike paths, hiking trails — the works. My husband cannot wait to spot his first black bear which are considered “common” in the area and “abundant” just about one county over. Clearly there will be new and exciting adventures in my near future!

The best part, though, by far was the people. Everyone was so kind and incredibly friendly. If all works as planned, we’ll be living in the community where my husband works and cutting his commute time way down, too, a detail for which we are all over-the-moon. I have zero doubts that we’ll love our new hometown and that we’ll find the perfect neighborhood for our family. We really just can’t wait to make this move and introduce our kids to and begin to explore this vibrant, beautiful community.

What does all this means for my blog space here? Simply put, it’ll be quiet for a while. For me, the coming weeks and months will be filled with all that comes with moving a family and household to a new town and making that as smooth for my family as possible is my first priority. I’ve already begun the process of stepping away from the Ravelry groups I moderate for the time being and am leaning on others lead the way for a bit. My knitting and spinning will likely languish. I will share snapshots when I can and I’ve got a few reviews that I’ll clear off the decks when I can make the time, but until we get settled in I most likely won’t be taking much time to write here. I fully intend to be back with bells on as soon as possible though and I do hope you’ll join me on the other side of this move as I’ll have all new (mis)adventures and wooly exploits to share.

For now though, I’ll leave you with the one photo I took on my whirlwind trip to our new hometown…

img_5992The sunrise on our last morning.

There are, of course, a lot of emotions rattling around me these days — excitement, nervousness, happiness, fear — the list could go on and on for a very long time. At times, it’s all really overwhelming as things are moving so incredibly fast. As I groggily snapped this photo, though, this sunrise reminded me that every day brings with it new, beautiful beginnings both big and small. You just have to be awake enough — in spirit and mind — to make the most of them. Thank goodness I know where I can get a good cup of coffee.

What 6 Mini Skeins Taught Me

I’ve never been the most adventurous spinner. Like so many, I’ve spent the bulk of 5years I’ve been spinning just trying to get consistent yarn in the most traditional ways — 2-plies, chain plies, standard 3-plies — and repeat. I’ve played a bit outside that box and I have dabbled in different weights, but that’s about it.

Enter the 1×6 SAL with Three Waters Farm Ravelry Group. I can always depend on this group to nudge me out of my comfort zone, to take a leap. The idea with this spin-along was to take one braid of fiber and spin it six different ways, for six mini-skeins. The particulars were up to the individual — you could choose to focus mostly on playing with color or you could prioritize trying different techniques or a little of both. I chose to use the opportunity to challenge myself with new techniques. After all, that’s an area I’ve been intrigued, but intimidated by and it seemed like as good a time as any to just do it.

I started with this braid of fiber.

summer bouquetIt’s 100% polwarth from Three Waters Farm called Summer Bouquet.

I picked 2 techniques I am very familiar with — the standard 2-ply and the chain ply. I thought it would be good to have a something I know well to compare to the others. For the others, I selected a slubby single (yikes!), a regular mid-weight single (omg!), a gimp (breathing into a paper bag now…), and a cable ply (staring blankly with mouth hanging open in disbelief). For different reasons, I would consider these all outside of my comfort zone. I’ve gained a lot of confidence in my spinning over the last 6months or so though, so I researched each a little and just went to it.

First, I went with the slubby single. Let me preface this by saying that I’m not confident with singles. At all. I recently got and watched through Spinning Stupendous Singles on Craftsy though and I wanted to give this a try. I sat down to spin and I struggled. I was using my copy of Sarah Andersen’s The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs, but I sometimes have problems learning in-motion things in still photos and words, so I ran over to my phone and opened up the class and re-watched the portion on slubby singles. I really thought I’d just trashed my first mini-skein.

When I went to wind it though…

slubby singleHoly WOW! It turned out great! I am not 100% sure this was possible, but I feel pretty confident I understand the whole process now so I’ll take it as a win and move forward.

My second mini-skein was a plain single. Emboldened by the surprise success of the slubby single, I did not hold back…

singleWho knew I could do this?! I love this little skein!

From here I moved on to the plied yarns. I spun all the singles right away and then plied them all.

First, the standard 2-ply…

2plyAs I said, I do this all the time and it wasn’t stressful at all. Sometimes it’s important to throw yourself a bone when you’re pushing yourself.

Next, I plied the gimp. A gimp is a 2-ply yarn that has one ply that is half the diameter of the other creating a kind of spiral-y effect. I have never, ever tried to spin 2-plies for one yarn with different diameters that are supposed to be someone particular.

gimpTurns out, I really liked it! The singles were a little nerve-wracking, but the plying, was captivating. So. Much. Fun!

The chain plying I did I actually changed the order of the colors in order to have a sort of light to dark situation. Especially when it comes to Three Waters Farm colors, I generally don’t mess with the colors because Mary Ann has such a phenomenal touch, but in the interest of being a little out of my comfort zone I went for it.

chainplyI generally love how chain ply yarns looks — the nice, round 3-ply is unbeatable — but this one did turn out awfully pretty, too.

And finally, the Big Kahuna of this experiment. The Cable Ply. Now I realize I didn’t reinvent the wheel here or anything, but this method is by far the most involved spin I’ve ever undertaken. It goes like this:

  1. Spin 4 sets of singles with an S twist.
  2. Take those 4 sets and make 2 – 2-ply yarns with Z twist, putting in twice the twist you normally would.
  3.  Ply these 2 – 2-ply yarns together with an S twist, just enough, but not too much so that the cable ‘pops.’

I did start step three only to find that I needed substantially more twist in my step 2 yarns (even though I thought I’d added enough), so I followed the tip of just running those 2-plies back through my wheel. That fixed them up just right. And…

cableplyTa-Da! A cable ply yarn!

One more photo, ok?

cable detailI’ll admit that because I spun my singles so thin, I actually had a somewhat hard time seeing the cable ‘pop’ and I had real concerns that when I washed it it would turn out quite right. It did, thankfully!

Beyond the resulting yarns, the most important part of this exercise for me is what I learned form doing it. So what did these 6 mini-skeins teach me?

groupMy skills and abilities with fiber and my wheel have come a long way in the last year.

My spinning horizons are so much wider than I realized.

It’s worth it to step outside of my comfort zone.

Having a spinning group (whether online or in-person) can have a huge impact on not only on improving what you already know, but in showing you that you can do things you didn’t even imagine trying.

It’s true to say that this spin-along has fundamentally changed how I look at spinning. In some ways, it’s been slowly unfolding since the beginning, since I got my wheel, but in other ways this spin-along has reinforced and really hit home for me the fact that I have command of this skill. No, I’m not an expert by any means, but I’m not muddling through any more either. If these 6 little skeins could talk, I have a feeling they’d look me squarely in the eye and say, “You’ve got this.”

Oh, the places we’ll go now!

Where Am I? A Social Media Update

I’m very aware that the Earth is super big (don’t even get me started on trying to comprehend how big the universe is) and the internet — while bringing us closer together in some ways — is also is a thing of hugeness with a never-ending maze of information and ideas. If you’re reading this, somehow, some way you’ve found your way to my teeny tiny little corner of the so-called world-wide-web, my blog. You may have even chosen a to find a way to stay abreast my latest posts — if that’s the case, I extend a very big ‘thank you’. However you found your way here, really, I say thank you. Writing this blog, sharing my family & crafty stories bring me a lot of joy. I love the exchange of inspiration and ideas that goes on here, I really do.

As you may be aware, in addition to my work here on the blog, I also share on a couple different social media platforms. One of my favorites, Instagram, is making some changes behind the scenes that will monkey with whose photos get seen based on popularity and what-not. What a bummer! I don’t need to get into it because I get that everyone’s trying to make their money and I don’t begrudge anyone that nor do I propose that I know the best way for any app to work, but I thought I’d take this moment to just go over how & where I share on the different social media platforms — including a couple new spots. My hope here is that by letting you know what outlets I use and how I use them, that I can help you can find the easiest and best way to stay in touch & up to date with my latest posts.

Instagram@knittingsarah

I post a lot of photos on Instagram — some I later use in stories here on the blog and some I don’t. Please feel free to turn on notifications for my posts should you not want to miss any. To do this, just click on the three dots in the upper right when you’re looking at my profile and select ‘Turn on Post Notifications’.

FacebookKnitting Sarah

Facebook is a platform I use to share new blog posts, so if you’re a Facebook user and want to see when I have a new post right in your Feed you can. I do interact regularly & promptly with comments, so please feel free to say hi!

Twitter@KnittingSarah

Twitter is an outlet I use solely to share new posts. I do not interact with comments here. I don’t have anything against Twitter, but I don’t have endless time and have to pick and choose where I’m active. Just sharing new blog posts here allows me to still let Twitter followers know when I’ve got a new post.

RavelryTheKnittingSarah

I do my best to keep my knitting projects up to date on Ravelry and I’m working toward the same with my spinning although I’m not there yet. I’m very active in both the Friends on Knitting Sarah Group as well as the Three Waters Farm Group. I pop up from time to time in other groups, but these are my main haunts.

Periscope@knittingsarah

I haven’t touched Periscope since before the holidays! This little live interactive app is so much fun, butlife got busy and my lack of a tripod for my phone was posing some technical difficulties. That said, I’m working on getting my equipment issues resolved (finally) and I’m  hoping to start carving a little time out for it again soon.

New! Elloknittingsarah

I’m new here! I noticed a bunch of Instagram friends migrating over and since I wanted to stay in touch I opened an account. For right now it will look a lot like what I post on Instagram, but I will continue to explore this platform.

New! Bloglovin’ Knitting Sarah

I’m not 100% sure the best way to share this one! I’ve been meaning to get a blog reader organized for well over a year and I’ve finally done it.  My reading time comes in little snippets here and there, so I really needed a one-stop spot where I can kind of have my favorite blogs delivered or collected to help me stay up with them. I tested out a few different platforms and in the end I settled for Bloglovin’. I like the format and it really has helped me to keep up with my favorite blogs. If you’re looking for a similar blog roll/reader type platform, I’d recommend this one!

If you’ve got any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Thanks for hanging with me through this post — I feel like considering what’s been happening in the different platforms that it was worth taking a little time to reacquaint you with where you can find me. And now we can all carry on, right?! Hopefully my latest FOs will be ready to share in the very near future — there’s a whole lot of drying, button sewing, and other random finishing happening at my house right now and I’ve got at least one more project on the cusp of being wrapped up. Keep your eyes peeled, I’ll be back shortly!

img_2660

Two Way, TWF (Three Way Fun)

In my last post I mentioned the Three Waters Farm SAL + KAL featuring Susan Ashcroft’s Designs. One thing I didn’t mention is that how involved and engaged and 150% awesome Susan was throughout. She helped guide us toward designs she thought would work well with our yarns, she encouraged & cheered us on, and she was just all around an incredible addition to the group. Furthermore, she actually created a new pattern inspired by the group — how cool is that?!

The TWF (Three Way Fun) is described as such on the pattern page:

TWF = three way fun (three options; one even gives you 3 different looks from a single cowl)

But TWF was also designed as a little tribute to Mary Ann and all the fine spinners over in the Three Waters Farm group (they are running a KAL using TWF fibre and my patterns until the end of Feb. 2016 – link to the KAL).

I picked the stitch thinking it was a good way to represent ripples for “Three Waters Farm” and only spotted their logo after I’d made the first cowl – the similarity is uncanny.

I love everything about it — from the inspiration to the design itself — and simply had to knit it up as soon as I got it!

I grabbed my skein of Lingering Light Targee 3-ply from the December Top of the Month Club

DEC2015TOMCAnd I got to work!

img_2300I knew there would be some striping and normally I would never mix stripes and a lace motif, but because the motif is such a small portion of the cowl I actually think it works really well together.

img_2318And I’m super happy with the results. It’s reversible, which is pretty neat…

det twfThe stockinette side…

det rev stock twfAnd the reverse stockinette side both look great.

twf twf 2I tend to lean toward the reverse stockinette side, personally.

And I loved both the making of this project as well as the resulting cowl enough to think to myself, “Self, what about that skein of Dyeabolical Themyscira handspun that’s been in your stash for two years. You know, the one that you kind of didn’t spin super well, but still think is really pretty — do you think this pattern could work for it?” When I look back at my notes, it looks as though I 2-plied this and then n-plied my two ply. I don’t think that’s really a thing one should do, but I did it and had 160yards of pretty, but kind of wonky yarn.

Themyscira detailThe answer? Would this pattern work?

twf dyeabolical flatYeah, it would.

dyeabolical twf detIt’s a mixed BFL + Tussah Silk blend and it’s a heavier weight, so it’s definitely has different personality than the Lingering Light version, but I like this one, too.

dyeabolical twfA little more drape, a little bigger stripes or colorblocks, but pretty all the same.

I love that this pattern is super versatile. Instructions are included for light fingering through bulky weight yarns in a variety of yardages, as well as a stockinette/reverse stockinette version, a garter version, and a half garter/half stockinette version. I think three way fun is an understatement! This is definitely a new favorite pattern that I’ll be using again & again and I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on Susan Ashcroft’s designs. Yet another fabulous discovery through a fantastic Three Waters Farm event!

All About Socks: Your Ravelry Stash

I hope you had a great weekend! Typically on a Monday I would share my family’s latest adventure — and we did have a grand one, but I will save it for later. Socks with Sarah is a mere two days away & I have found these little informational posts I’ve been writing have been like opening a can of words. Every time I write one, 6 more ideas come to mind. Such is life though, right? Always so many ideas, so little time!

Today I want to talk stash. Now as knitters, we pretty much all have a stash. Last year, I finally got mine in order using Ravelry. Now it’s true that if you have already built up a stash as I have, there is a bit of a time investment in getting it all cataloged, but there are some serious advantages to doing so. First, it really helps you to get a handle on exactly what you have — this is an obvious one. If you know what you have, you can effectively knit with it. If it is bagged in a drawer and you don’t see it for months on end, it’s harder to remember to use it.  Also once you have everything updated on Ravelry, you can sort it & filter it a number of ways. When you add a pattern to your queue, you can select and list exactly which yarn you intend to use. This means that if you don’t get to it right away, you won’t forget why you bought the yarn in the first place. When looking at yarn ideas for a pattern, you can even filter the ‘yarn ideas’ to see what stashed yarns you already have that should work for it. It is just so helpful, especially if you are like me & you buy yarn far in advance.

Now the first thing I usually do is snap photos. I am very visual and I like to have a ‘face’ with the name when it comes to my yarn stash. For this, I tend to just use my iPhone because it is quick & easy and I don’t need to use any cords to hook my camera up to my computer. If using a smartphone, just take the photos on a neutral surface in natural light. I might crop the images to make them neat, but that’s about it.  This doesn’t have to be a masterpiece Still Life with Yarn, just a visual so you will recognize it. If you don’t have a smartphone, a camera will be just fine — just snap the photos and upload them to your computer preferably to an easily accessible folder (more than once I’ve uploaded them and then it took me 20 or 30minutes to locate them — I’m awesome that way). Once the photos area taken — whether on camera of smartphone — they can wait until the yarn information synced up onto Ravelry.

About that — there are two ways to get that info into your stash. For fun, let’s use this new beauty as an example:

20140113-162927.jpgString Theory Colorworks Inertia in the Ceres colorway. It is 80% SW Merino / 20% Nylon, 400yds, & fingering weight.

First, you can search for the yarn itself. Be sure you are in the yarn tab & type in the name just as it appears on the tag.Screenshot (32)You can see I typed ‘string theory colorworks inertia’ — you don’t need the colorway just yet.
Screenshot (33)And this screen pops up. Now I don’t have a semi-solid, this is self-striping, you that’s the one I’ll click.

Screenshot (34)And voila — the page. Now in the upper right I have my mouse over add to stash — click that.

Screenshot (35)And you will wind up here. Once again in the upper right, you would then click on edit stash to enter the colorway, number of skeins, etc — all the details.

Now before we get into that, the other way — the method I usually use — to add a yarn to your stash. First I go to my notebook. From here from I select stash from the menu on the left.

Screenshot (36)

Oh hey. Look there’s my stash.Screenshot (37)Now just to the right of the menu on the left side you will see a button that says add to stash. Click on it.

Screenshot (39)And this page will pop up. Fill out out the form — first, where you bought it then its name, the yarn company, and where (exactly) you purchased it — that last one is optional.

Screenshot (40)Like so.

Screenshot (41)And if you typed the name of the yarn exactly, it should pop up like this. If not, try typing it another way. Be careful that you get the correct yarn — check yardage, fiber content, etc if you aren’t sure — or it will kind of defeat the purpose of what you’re doing here. For this yarn the upper one was correct so I clicked on choose this yarn.

Screenshot (42)And then I got this page (if you serached by yarn, this is where you are taken when you click edit stash). From here, fill in any remaining info — ie colorway, number of skeins, dye lot (if applicable), etc. I never enter in how much I paid for my yarn. Maybe I don’t want to be able to add up a total. Maybe it just doesn’t matter anymore. Probably a little of both.

Screenshot (44)You can make notes on the yarn if you like — I don’t usually do much with that unless it is a part of a club, then I denote the club & date. Don’t forget to go to the groups box & share it with Friends of Knitting Sarah, please. This will make a little thumbnail pop up over in our Ravelry group & I for one would love to see your new lovelies — I’m pretty sure I’m not alone!

Screenshot (45)Once you’ve entered all the info you want to enter, click save stash.

Now to add the photo. After you clicked save stash, you will see this page.Screenshot (46)If you are adding photos from your computer, go to the tabs in the upper right and click photos.

If you are adding photos from your smartphone, log in to Ravelry on your phone, go to your stash, and in the drop down menu next to the add to stash button select Sort by date added.

Screenshot (48)That will bring up the last yarn you added to the upper left. Click on the correct yarn —

Screenshot (50)And there it is in the upper left — so sad without a photo! Click on it & you’ll be here:

Screenshot (47)Now you are in the same place as those good folks who are still on their computers adding photos from their cameras. From here you get to choose how you upload — via flickr, photobucket, slurp from web, or upload from your computer. If you are uploading from your computer — well, click on that and then click Browse. Find the folder with your photos (remember I told you to put them somewhere easy to find!) and select the one you want to add. Click upload and….Screenshot (51)Voila! There it is!

For those using a phone, you’ll do the exact same thing, except where it says Browse, yours says Choose a file. The process is the same though.

As you can see, I am pretty rigorous about being sure to add my yarn to my stash. I track my spinning fibers the same way. I love having this info at my fingertips — I think it helps me to really get the most out of my yarns, selecting the best pattern-yarn matches. Most of all though, I love that at any given moment I know exactly what I have. It’s true I have some partial skein updating to do — you can list when you use yarn, how much you use, and what is left, too (that tutorial is for another day) — but overall I have stayed very up-to-date on my yarn stash. Like I said, it is pretty easy to maintain once you have it all set up.

And that’s that — the adding yarns to the Ravelry yarn stash.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with some last minute tips & housekeeping info before the big Socks with Sarah launch on Wednesday, so be sure to check back!

Worth the Wait

After a bunch of finishing over the weekend, I ended up spending the bulk of this week with this yarn.

cloudloverAs I mentioned a few days ago, I’ve had this in my stash for a long time. Like I think maybe 2years. Or more. Anyways, it was one of those yarns that I ordered one skein from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber and then in a panic tacked on a the second skein so I’d have more yardage. It seems that the second skein which bumped me up to 500yds has been like an Achilles heel. Just enough for what I’d need for a shrug, but barely so that I would stress the whole time out of fear that I would run out. There was too much yarn for some mittens or a hat. Sure I could do a matching set, but this colorway seemed like a bit much for matching sets of anything — very pretty, but bold.  In short, I just could not commit to a pattern so these beautiful skeins sat untouched in my stash.

Finally last week, in a moment of weakness I just wound them. I jumped and basically set the timer on figuring these skeins out (I don’t let yarn sit in center-pull balls unless they are scraps or I am ready to knit them — once they are wound, I knit them. It’s my thing). So I went & cast-on the pattern I’ve been eyeing for almost as long as I’ve had the yarn, Soliton by Laura Chau.

20131109-064050.jpgI started this project over at least a half dozen times. I switched needle sizes. I monkeyed with my technique, but something was just not right. In the end, despite days of starting over & knitting & pure determination yesterday I called it. I declared it a big fat FAIL. I ripped it out. It was beautiful — the yarn guaranteed that — but it wasn’t right. My yarn is an aran single & the Malabrigo Twist the pattern called for is a really springy, plied thick & thin aran. While my Cloudlover yarn played the part decently because the weight translated and the pattern showcased the lovely colors, it lacked that bounce & energy the plies delivered. All the wishful thinking in the world could not deny that that energy makes this pattern work. And my yarn simply didn’t have it.

I rewound my yarn and set about trolling through Ravelry for another pattern idea. Determined to figure this out, I searched for patterns requiring comparable yardage & weight & just started sifting through the million options the filter spat back to me. Feeling a little hopeless,  there was also a fair bit of this.

20131109-064012.jpgI wrapped up one spinning project & began another, with a little help — of course — from my favorite giant brown, fluffy, big-eyed sweetheart who loves spinning almost as much as fetching, swimming, and bed.

Finally, I came across Wayfarer by Jared Flood.  As a general rule, I don’t like when the yarn competes with the pattern for attention. I’m a firm believer that the two should work together and complement each other, so I usually avoid patterns with a lot of stitch patterning when I knit with handpainted yarns. This one though… this I thought might work.

20131109-063955.jpgYes, I think I found a winner.

As I thought it might, the stitching strikes me as more of an architectural backbone that blends into scarf. It lends structure and interest, but with a subtly that allows the handpainted yarn to sing. It showcases the beautiful yarn without overpowering and — best of all — it is creating the squishiest, softest, most luxurious fabric imaginable. It is going to be a fab scarf to be sure. It just goes to show that sometimes it takes a couple years of sitting and a week’s worth of failure to find your way to the right pattern. Sometimes it’s discouraging & frustrating. Sometimes it feels like you’ll never find that for which you’re searching. One thing is for certain though, it’s always worth the wait.