Savoring

My family and I have wrapped up the majority of our scheduled summer activities — vacations have been adventured, family visits have been enjoyed, and we are all tanned & a little tired. This year as we wind down toward the beginning of school it is a little different. For the first time, both my kids will be entering full-time school. After more than 8years as a stay-at-home mum, I can only imagine how quiet my house is going to feel. I am and always have been unreasonably addicted to being around my kids. I’ve been lucky enough to be there almost every morning when they wake up & every night when their precious heads hit their pillows and it is rare indeed when my husband & I choose to have a day or a weekend on our own. We are a tight-knit group & we just would have it no other way.

I have done a pretty great job this summer of putting this milestone out of my head. As the fateful first day approaches though and we start receiving open house notices and teacher assignments, the start of school looms imminent. Now only a handful of days away, my daughter is a little more attached to me than normal & she’s very emotional. My son is reluctant to leave the house unless absolutely necessary. I am hard-pressed to push either of them much because in the back of my head I know how much I am about to miss them.

As my husband says though, it is only a few hours a day. I am making a bigger deal of this than it really is. I will still get to wake them up in the morning & put them to bed at night. I will walk them to & from school and help with homework. Nothing will really change except those few hours a day where I will be free to knit & spin & attack the honey-do list that has been piling up over the last 8years. But it will be quiet and — I’ll admit it — that scares me as much as it excites me. It also compels me to savor every waking moment around my kiddos. I always do, but I am definitely more conscious of it these days.

All a little tuckered from our busy summer & longing for some relaxation, after a quick work event with my husband yesterday we went for a quick family drive through Horicon. It was relatively quiet — we viewed some egrets, a moorhen or two, coots and a handful of other waterfowl. It was also blisteringly hot…

20130822-074303.jpgAnd very, very green.

As we drove along the freshly paved highway that cuts through the northern portion of The Marsh, we spied a turtle hunkered down on the yellow line.  While it is a fantastic place to pull off the road & view wildlife, it is also — sadly — often a prime spot to see the results of cars & big trucks screaming down the highway at 6omph: lots of birds & turtles that don’t survive the gauntlet. We saw our opportunity to help one and we took it. My husband ran out to grab our poor stranded turtle friend and handed him off to me.

20130822-074238.jpgThe poor little scared turtle got — presumably — his first car ride down the road to the first watery spot we could find for him.

20130822-074248.jpgThis looks good for a turtle, no?

aldo turtle releaseAnd my son got to do the honors of releasing him back into the wild. Godspeed little turtle!

20130822-074319.jpgThe wind was blustery through the cattails — at this time of year most of them are taller than me — and yet the heat still beat down on us, so we decided to head home. After all, extreme heat & wind are pretty not great birdwatching conditions. We decided to have a family Jurassic Park movie marathon that included lots of snuggling, the dog hiding under my feet (he does not like dinosaurs — thank goodness he wasn’t born 65million years ago), and some knitting. I posted this photo of my Rusted Root yesterday.

20130821-173227.jpgAnd I am happy to report that I am now within about 15rounds of dividing off the sleeves. This, of course, is the slowest portion of any top-down sweater. As per normal, half of me just wants to push through it as efficiently as possible and half of me wants to throw it aside for a while because those rounds are  s o  l o n g. I got emails this week though that a very special yarn order is in and my first installment of the Cloudlover Fiber Club is on its way. Nothing says ‘incentive’ like new fiber & yarn on the way! The question has been weather to break out my wheel again or keep knitting? I have been wheeling and dealing with myself ever since and I think I’ve settled on getting out my wheel once I divide off those sleeves. I think that’s a good balance of fairness & bribery.

The spinning & the knitting takes a backseat, a supporting role to this though…

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My best buddy locking my arm in a hug 100times stronger than you’d think her little 40lb body could muster. I think she feels the change coming, too. I might care that this is a completely unflattering photo for me if it didn’t so capture this moment in time for us so perfectly. Yep, we are going to savor these last couple weeks, one day – and one snuggle — at a time. And what comes next, well, it’s going to be ok because we’ll both have our best buddy at our side.

Slippery Slopes

I find weeding the garden to be a very slippery slope. It all started earlier in the week when a playdate for my daughter resulted in the acquisition of some sedum plants that my friend wanted to be rid of. I planted them immediately — so excited to speed the landscaping project I’ve been slowly working on as my own plants get big enough to split. This led to added garden ambition yesterday.  I started by removing a diseased apple tree that had to come out. Then I had a big hole in the bed it was at the edge of so I transplanted some native flowers from the back yard to fill the space. Then I started weeding out the grasses that had been overtaking that bed. That made it look empty (there were A LOT of weeds), so I transplanted an echinacea. While walking the weeds back to the compost, I saw that hosta I’ve been meaning to split on the side of the house & the Russian sage I’ve been working on wrapping around the corner. So I split the hosta and spread it out to where I have been intending to move it. And monkeyed with that sage a bit. Then I started thinking about just diving in and doing a bit of a big wildflower transplant I’ve been planning. Thankfully it was dinner time, so I managed to step away from the shovel.

Another slippery slope – of course — is knitting. While I didn’t knit a ton this weekend, I did check off some big items from my to-do list that have been on said list for much too long.

First, I finally  worked up a small test swatch for my Sixareen Cape to be sure the bright pink would not bleed when I wash & block. I have had this project finished for well over a week, but it has sat. I have been dragging my feet on blocking not wanting to know if the pink would bleed, terrified that it would. This project definitely needs blocking and I have been kicking myself for the last month knowing I should have done a test swatch early on — you know, like back when pre-washing yarn would have been an option — to know if bleeding would be an issue.  Hindsight is 20/20 though, isn’t it? Especially when I have the ‘new project’ goggles on. This weekend though I finally worked up a small test swatch made from the pink (rosa rugosa) and white (egret) figuring this would offer the clearest indication as to whether or not I would have a problem. To my delight, there was absolutely no bleeding. I am officially set to wash & block this big project. I will probably throw in a good glug of vinegar just to be on the safe side, but I should block it within the next day or so, so it’ll be ready to share soon.

Next, I rewound & weighed my odds & ends leftovers from the Sixareen Cape. I was happy to discover I should have enough leftovers to knit up Kate Davies Peerie Flooers with them. Yay!

Then, of course, I finished up my Shalom Cardigan.shalom close-upWhile I certainly have the yarn left to do it & I have been considering adding sleeves since I began, I decided it would be much nicer as a vest. Perfect to just throw over a long-sleeved shirt to run the kids to school this fall. It is just a smidge more snug than I would have ideally liked, but I am fairly certain I will gain what I am looking for in washing & blocking. If for some reason I don’t, for a vest, it is just fine.

shalom-1I will share more photos once I get it washed & dried.

Having finished this sweater, I started another. Partly because that was the plan & partly because I couldn’t find my US1 to start a pair of socks (I found the needles this morning while cleaning my desk).

beginningThis is Rusted Root by Sarah Johnson (or Sarah Moore — the pattern says ‘Johnson’, Ravelry says ‘Moore’). This is a new designer for me & so far the pattern is just fine. I am a little bummed at the lack of a chart with the lace portion. I find charts make lace work much easier for me. Written instructions take me at least 3times as long to work from because — as silly as it sounds — I very easily lose my place with written instructions. I definitely prefer having a visual. I realize I could write my own chart from the written instructions to use, but I am apparently not that desperate to use a chart. But I digress.

This project is also my first time using yarn from Green Mountain Spinnery. Not normally available to me locally, I acquired this yarn in the find of the century at a thrift shop a few years back. Normally sold for almost $15/skein, I bought this yarn for $0.60/skein — the thrift shop’s designated price for a skein of yarn.  Yes, this sweater should cost me about $3 to make whereas if I bought the yarn today it would cost $72 + tax & shipping. Having spent some time with it now, I would gladly pay the $72! This is Mountain Mohair in the Raspberry colorway. This yarn is very comparable to Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride worsted  as it is a single wool/mohair blend.  The difference is how the color is blended. The best way I can describe it is to explain via pixels — if we were comparing pixel sizes, the Mountain Mohair would use larger pixels than the Brown Sheep. Instead of relying on the dye to create the raspberry color, I can see the blending of purples, mauves, pinks, white, and bright red. The resultant color is just lovely — rich with variation to add personality, but masterfully blended. I am not sure if this is blending is characteristic of the yarn or just the colorway, but I will definitely be looking closely when I can see it in person at the WI Sheep & Wool festival where Green Mountain Spinnery is slated to be a vendor.

Finally, I popped in at my local yarn shop, FIrefly Fibers to pick up supplies for two upcoming projects.

henrie's yarnFirst, some Cascade Pima Cotton. My in-laws will be visiting later this week & I have promised my mother-in-law that I’d help her get started on a Capitol Square Market Bag. The plan is that I will work on the bottom before she arrives so she can dive right into the openwork section.

riptideSecond, I picked up an extra 2 skeins of Sweet Georgia Superwash DK. I’ve had 2skeins sitting in my stash since earlier this year & have started two different projects with it. The reason I failed? Really, I just want to make a particular sweater, so nothing else is measuring up. So, I finally just succumbed to the reality of the situation, bought the pattern & extra yarn necessary (while the same dye lot is still available) and am ready to go with it. I’ll tell you more about this project another day though.

For now, I must go as there are many preparations which need attending. Cleaning, washing, scrubbing, and — most of all — trying to avoid starting a monster gardening project 3 days before house guests arrive. It’s all a slippery slope though and the temptation to just keep tidying EVERYTHING is strong…  Wish me luck!