Cold Face, Warm Ears

I live in a place that gets cold. Not Fargo cold or Antarctica cold, but cold nonetheless. And it just so happens that my family and I don’t stop enjoying the outdoors just because it gets cold. On the contrary, my hubby loves the cold and routinely winter camps. The kids will stay out in the cold & snow until the absolute last possible moment. I’m a fan of being out in the cold on the condition that I get to return somewhere warm afterward and there’s not a lot of sitting still out in it. In addition to daily walks the kiddos and I take in all but the fiercest weather, sometimes we hike a little further afield in the snow. Last week included one of those little adventures.

My hubby has recently started organizing a small backpacking trip for himself and the kids later this spring. I’d consider going except the mileage they will cover is a little more than my legs will take me and, honestly, I won’t mind a couple days to myself. In any case, it won’t be winter camping, but we’ve really never required the kids to carry substantial packs so last week we decided to take a little trek out on the Ice Age Trail to see how the kids would do with packs.

We packed them up and picked a short out and back hike to a shelter. We are used to having the trail to ourselves, so it was kind of neat that along the way we met an older gentleman who was doing his routine 10mile hike in preparation for a trip to Everest Base Camp. You just never know who you might meet out on the trail. The hike was deserted otherwise though and we enjoyed the snowglobe-ish snow falling in the empty forest.

img_2312This forest is a favorite of mine. It’s pretty thick with trees and it’s hilly and we always hear the weirdest noises. As big fans of the movie Trollhunter, we like to say the crazy noises are trolls. Sometimes I like to come up with troll species names for the specific sounds we hear, but that’s probably more information than I should share here, but just in the off chance you hadn’t gotten the memo that I have a weird sense of humor and am easily entertained — well, there you go.

But I digress.

We made it out to the shelter where the kiddos went about collecting and sawing wood for a fire.

Moose stood watch and was vigilant about keeping track of us. I’m 100% sure he’s terrified that he might be lost or left behind as he — like me — likes to come home to his nice warm bed.

We cooked up a simple warm lunch and hung out around the fire and in the shelter for a good long while.

img_2309You know, just long enough for my feet start feeling like blocks of ice, as they do out in the cold. The hike back, of course, was a little colder since we’d been outside for a while, but thankfully I’d brought my new Timber Bay hat.

img_2337As you can see, I knit this hat pretty generous in the slouch department. Because I made mine out of Sheepish Yarn Co’s Midwest Merino, it has a bit more body and less drape than the sample. In fact, if I don’t pat it down when I put it on it will stand WAY up…

(That’s me on a different day wearing randomly thrown on snow gear and woollies as well as my husband’s cross-country skis. He knew I’ve been wanting to ski and we discovered my skis need repair, so he found a way to make it happen… even if the boots where 4 or 5sizes too big.)

 The Midwest Merino is a really beautiful yarn that I picked up at a special event at Cream City Yarn last autumn. It knits like a rustic wool, but feels much softer to the touch. I would describe it as a true, authentic merino — warm and yet soft enough to wear next to the skin — and it is truly a wonderful combination with this pattern for my cold winter walks and hikes.

I especially love the folded brim…

brimIt is so incredibly warm! Even when my face is frozen (as it was in the photos above), my ears stay nice and cozy.

The textured components are a lovely touch, too.

stitch detailThey are fun to knit without being difficult and both the Andelusian Stitch and the Fisherman’s Rib add both beauty and warmth to the design.

I started this hat on the way back from Yellowstone last month and finished it the day we got home. Well, I finished it except that a week or so later I decided to add a pom to it.

straight onI still think a slightly larger pom would better, but I ran out of yarn so the decision was kind of made for me and I love it all the same.

We made our way back to the car with almost no complaining. Considering the snow and occasionally icy trail, the necessity of wearing snow instead of hiking boots, and the addition of the packs, we are counting this as a small and amazing miracle. The Snickers bar we had on hand for that last boost of energy didn’t hurt our chances either. We arrived back at the car happy and tired, but invigorated by the cold. It may have taken a a little while for my face to warm back up, but thanks to my lovely new hat…

sidewaysmy ears stayed nice and warm.

Happy Superheroes… I mean Mother’s Day!

There are few experiences in life that radically change you immediately and permanently. Becoming a mother is at the top of that list. The transition isn’t unlike that of a comic book superhero. Getting bitten by a radioactive spider, having a baby — both are pretty instantaneously life-changing. Most days moms across the world go about the business of tending their flocks with heroic patience, unconditional dedication, and a love so strong and so deep that it’s almost inconceivable. And one day a year we pause to celebrate our moms and say thank you.

Usually I am just happy to spend the day with my family. Today, though, I was treated to breakfast in bed. This plan was hatched by my son who was started out upset he doesn’t yet know how to make pancakes. According to him, I always make him the best pancakes and he just really wanted to do the same for me. My husband helped him out and brought home some yogurt, berries, & oatmeal that the kids could easily put together. They woke me up with big eyes and faces so full of excited anticipation that they could have handed me a plateful of worms and I’d have eaten it.

After breakfast, as we waited for the rain to pass, I was able to finish up my SilverSpun Paper Moon socks.

IMG_9232The ends are woven in now and they are all set to be photographed, but suffice to say the fit and feel of these socks is absolutely divine. Inspired in part by these very socks and some very wonderful knitters in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group, I’ll have information sometime in the next few days about a knitalong I’ll be hosting featuring the hand-dyed SilverSpun yarns of the Summer Sock Club from Feel Good Yarn Company. Space is very limited in this club, so pop over, reserve your spot, and knit with us this summer! In the mean time, don’t forget to use the discount code SARAHKNITS to get free shipping on orders over $42 from Feel Good Yarn Company (please note the discount code DOES NOT apply to the Summer Sock Club).

With my socks finished and the rain still falling, I cast on the project I received in my PostStitch box…

IMG_9244Mares’ Tails by Kater Tater Knits in Anzula Breeze, a silk linen blend just made for a summery shawl like this.

With the first repeat complete, we had some lunch and then had just enough time for a quick hike before it started raining again.

IMG_9250We went on one of our favorite short trails that is half boardwalk and half forest. We watched terns, shorebirds, and even saw a few warblers. It was one of those spring days when the green is just so green. As soon as we got back to the car, it started to rain again. We drove over to another trail just to check and see if the bobolinks had returned yet, but they were no where to be seen. Soon, though, soon.

As a sort of Mother’s Day side note, I also wanted to share that I got a special something in the mail a couple days ago…

IMG_9236It turns out I won the Ice Age Trail Wrap kit from the Cream City Yarn birthday raffle last week. Since I wasn’t able to get back to the shop, the ladies very graciously dropped it in the mail for me. A couple days later the pattern & three skeins of the lovely Sheepish Yarn Co Super Merino Sport arrived in my mailbox. Thanks to the timing, it definitely felt like am early Mother’s Day surprise! A simple & elegant design, this will undoubtedly be a delight on my needles in the near future.

I’ll admit that it’s nice to be pampered a little on Mother’s Day — with yarn and knitting time and breakfast and time spent together. Mostly, though, I find myself spending the day thankful to be able to wear the title of Mom. While this is coming late to most of you, I wish all my fellow mothers out there a very heartfelt happy mothers day. I may have never met you, but I assure you I’m in awe of everything that you’ve done and continue to do. I hope you spent the day feeling like the superheroes that you are.

Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday, Lucky Me

Mr Knitting Sarah & I marked our 12th wedding anniversary yesterday. I simply couldn’t ask for a better partner in this life and I’m very thankful for every day we have together, but in all honesty we don’t really celebrate the date. It’s not because we can’t or weirdly don’t want to, it’s that we both agree that we pretty much try to make the most of every day and that in general we do a lot of awesome things with each other and for each other. In other words, the actual date is less significant than the day-to-day living life together.  Additionally, the mister had to work (and then wound up coming home early sick and spending the day resting in bed), so he suggested I take a special day just me and the kids.

That probably doesn’t sound very Earth shattering since I am a stay-at-home homeschooling mum, but because our days off with the mister tend to lead us all over the countryside, we usually spend our days as three at or near home. The plan we settled on originated because I had heard that Cream City Yarn was celebrating their 4th birthday and having a party. I just felt compelled to drop in to say happy birthday in-person. I won’t lie, it didn’t hurt that they have a great selection of yarn and that they’d mentioned they’d have cake. So, we planned a day around getting there: zoo, yarn shop, lunch, bookstore — something for everyone!

After a couple fun hours at the zoo, we headed over to the yarn shop where the children were instructed that they could not ask for cake, but if it was offered they could have some. Much to their relief, as soon as we walked in we were asked if we wanted some of this infamous cake. I let my two delighted kids each pick a piece and as my daughter grabbed the piece with MEGA frosting visions of frosting-slathered fingers touching Quince & Co yarn flashed through my head and I quickly ushered them both to the bistro table out front, far far away from the pretty pretty yarn.

IMG_9136True to the word on the street, the cake was excellent. So excellent, in fact, that these two could not be bothered to pose for a picture. And I’m happy to report that aside from talking one of the owner’s ears off briefly while she was trying to take pictures, they were little angels while I shopped.

I’m very proud of the fact that I walked in with a half dozen project ideas and the yarn requirements for each, so I wasn’t a total slave to impulse shopping. I’m also very proud to say that I did not buy yarn for all of them. What I settled on was…

IMG_9142Quince & Co Osprey in the River colorway for a Lesley pullover from Hannah Fettig’s new book, Home & Away: Knits for Everday Adventures. I don’t think she’s aware of it, but I’m pretty sure she wrote this book for me. Lesley, Boothbay, and the Sycamore Vest are high on my want-to-knit list, so this selection was easy.

IMG_9146I also picked up a bento bag from Ambatalia. These are new to the shop & when I saw a post that they would be available at the birthday party, I knew I had to check them out. They’re made in California and the craftsmanship is gorgeous. Plus my daughter picked out the color for me, so it’s extra special.

The final selection was so tough. There was a promotion for Sheepish Yarn Company’s Super Merino Sport that was soooo tempting. And by tempting I mean I actually physically put the three skeins of yarn for the project in my basket and then my fiscally responsible side reminded me that I had a sweater quantity already in said basket, so the gorgeous new Ice Age Trail would just have to wait. I allowed myself one of the skeins because…

IMG_9147I have a definite weakness for colorways named ‘Horicon Marsh.’

Of course, I threw a third of my raffle tickets (1 earned for every $10 spent!) in for an Ice Age Trail kit. The other two thirds went into a Cane Bay Wrap kit (in blue!) and then a Cream City Yarn logo coffee mug (because who can’t use another coffee mug?). The place was hopping with shoppers, so I certainly don’t expect to win, but it’s fun to play nonetheless. The funniest part is I asked my daughter to look at the 25 raffle items and choose the three she thought I’d like and she nailed it. No hesitation. I love it!

I should also mention free with purchase came this awesome little notions tin filled with some delicious color-coordinated jellybeans.

IMG_9151I skipped the cake, but I totally ate these and didn’t share a single one with my kids.

My kiddos and I left the shop and headed out to lunch, followed by a bookshop stop — the special treat for my daughter — where each child got to pick a new book. As you can tell by the photos, we didn’t get home until the long shadows of the early evening were starting to steal my natural light. I got everyone settled, took the dog for a walk, and made a quick trip to the grocery store for a feel-better-Mr-Knitting-Sarah watermelon (he likes watermelon when he’s sick). And as I reflected on our busy day, I just felt awfully lucky. For my hubby who pushed me to take the kiddos on this little adventure even though he couldn’t be there and for his general awesomeness every single day. For my kiddos who are so good and never complain about the fact that I have to walk really slowly around the zoo and that they have to wait while I take a while picking out yarn. That for my anniversary, I got to visit a store that always makes me smile where I got to pick out some knitting goodies that I really love. And most of all, I feel lucky that tomorrow we get to spend the whole day together as a family. It’ll be a quiet one as the mister convalesces, but it’s another day we get to spend together and that alone will make it pretty great.

On My Toes

We’ve all heard the old adage, ‘No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.’ In every day, thankfully non-battlefield scenarios this simply translates to the fact that even the best laid plans take unpredictable turns when they come in contact with our good old friend, reality. As the mom of two, homemaker for our house, caretaker of a Moose and a milk snake named Jack, things rarely go according to plan — there are simply too many variables on any given day. Occasionally it stresses me out, but mostly I look at it as an exercise in adaptability and I take all the twists & turns in stride. I’m the kind of person who can see the bright side of even the worst situations and for whatever fortuitous reasons things just tend to work out well. I think it’s part perspective, part hard work, maybe a dash of good karma, and a fair bit of luck.

The same can be said in my knitting & spinning life. I always have plans and lists and hopes and dreams of where I’m going here. I work hard, try to always give credit where credit is due, do what I can to be a force of positive energy in the knitting universe, and stay open to good opportunities for myself as well as inspiration for you. All this being said, a whole lot of what happens here is not exactly planned. Some days I get to help organize a special discount from a fab shop (see yesterday’s post for an example of that!), sometimes a special skein arrives in the mail, sometimes I hop over to a sponsor to check out some sock yarn for the Socks with Sarah KAL and I wind up buying a gorgeous mitten kit, and sometimes I try out a new yarn solely because it’s a deal. I’m always looking and open to what might be next and for whatever fortuitous reasons things just tend to work out well.

Earlier this week, I got this beautiful skein in the mail from Sheepish Yarn Co.

20140226-105937.jpgA skein of BFL Sock in — you guessed it — the beautiful Nuthatch. What a lovely, unexpected surprise – I can’t wait to knit it up!  Thank you, Sheepish Yarn Co!

After wrapping up my Hermione’s Everyday Socks Monday, I opted to cast-on something that isn’t a sock. Yes, it’s shocking, probably, but it was time to give another type of project a little whirl around my needles. So I pulled out my little indulgence…

20140226-105955.jpgMy Snowfling Mitts kit from Tanis Fiber Arts.

Like so many dyers & yarns this year, Tanis Fiber Arts is new-to-me thanks to the Socks with Sarah KAL. After a lovely exchange with Tanis regarding the KAL, I hopped over to the shop with the intention of picking up a skein or two of her sock yarns. I was about to click ‘checkout’ when I saw the ‘kits’ category. And somehow I wound up with this gorgeous kit in my shopping basket, too. The yarns are to-die-for and for this colorwork junky the pattern is just so much fun. Considering the winter here has no intentions of giving way to spring any time soon, I’m going to knit these with full confidence that I will get some use of them yet this year. If it isn’t going to be warm, I will at least enjoy some new mittens, darn it!

Of course, because I’ve given my word to knit socks everyday, I needed to cast-on a new pair of socks, too, so as not to skip a day. So I went with another Churchmouse Basic Sock in Online Supersocke 6ply.

20140226-111830.jpgI got this from WEBS on a pretty serious discount or closeout. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I grabbed it anyway because at $12 for 400yds of sport weight yarn destined for socks I couldn’t go wrong giving it a try. For a relatively inexpensive yarn, it’s pretty good — I can’t complain and in sport weight they are knitting up super quickly. Usually I use a 3.25mm needle for my sport weight socks, but they are currently in use on my mittens, so I am using a 3.00mm.  I think the ribbing & Old Norwegian cast-on will make them stretchy enough to fit. My back-up plan if they wind up on the small side is to give them to my son whose feet are as long, but not quite as wide as mine. Either way, they will have a home & lots of use in my house.

What will the rest of the week bring? Of course, I have a plan, a map of how I’d like it to go, but, really, who knows! Two things are certain: I’ll be kept on my toes and there will be knitting in my hands. And for whatever fortuitous reasons, things will probably work out well.

Forty Bags of Popcorn & Sweet Surprises

What was I up to last night?  Oh, I was popping popcorn.

20140214-091955.jpgForty bags of popcorn for Valentine’s Day treats for both my kids’ class parties. I usually make up for my lack of cutesy class treats with extra frosting on the cupcakes, but we’ve been trying to eat healthier at our house lately and I thought it important to stay true to the habit. So I popped forty bags worth of popcorn. To try to keep it fun, I hid one Hershey’s Kiss in the middle of each bag. I told the kids to tell their friends that there is a special surprise in each bag. I am delighted to report they are more excited for this party favor than the mounds of frosting that eclipsed the cupcakes I’ve made previously. Talk about a coup!

In addition to colossal heaps of popcorn, this week’s free time has been focused mostly on writing an article that is due shortly. It’s a multi-day process for me — write, revise, revise, revise. It’s such a welcome challenge, a process I actually really enjoy.  In addition to writing and popcorn, it’s been a real hodge-podge of happenings.

I had noticed a friend from the blog posted up her snow dyed yarn on the Today on *your* needles… thread on Ravelry and as I had one bare skein in storage I decided to give it a go with the kids. We called it a ‘yarn experiment’ — I let the kids pick the Kool-Aide, scoop the snow, and apply the ‘dye.’

20140214-104555.jpgI have never dyed anything before and didn’t really expect much beyond the excitement of the kids’ enthusiasm of which there was tons.

I am calling it a semi-success…

20140214-092146.jpgI can only speculate, but I think my snow melted too slowly, so the dye ended up applied very unevenly. Ultimately I ended up giving the yarn a dunk & quick soak in the melted snow just to give it a little… something.

20140214-092132.jpgThere are a couple spots I’m not wild about, but for the most part I kind of like the light grey-blue hues with purple-y undertones. Most importantly though, I love that my kids love it. That’s the yarn they dyed and they think it’s so cool. At the end of the day, I’m happy with that no matter what the yarn looks like.

It even inspired my 6year old to pick her needles back up. Without me knowing, she got her Annie & the Swiss Cheese Scarf book and the bag of knitting I put together for her a while back and she started working on it. There were some serious frustrations followed by…

20140214-092056.jpgReal. Live. Little Girl. Stitches.

Little girl & I are very tickled by this. She wants to set up a knitting date for us. Granted I would be perfectly happy if my kids never wanted to knit a stitch, but that being said I’m not sure it gets much better than this moment.

In smaller news, I finally got some buttons for my Tallin

20140214-092116.jpgNothing fancy, but they match and that’s really all I needed.

I’m also hoping to get back to this gorgeous spinning project…

20140214-092027.jpgThe beautiful Wensleydale.

And in a moment of excitement I pre-washed this amazing yarn from the Snowfling Mitts kit from Tanis Fiber Arts….

20140214-092012.jpgI have such a weak spot for colorwork and apparently an even weaker spot for the lovely yarns of Tanis Fiber Arts. My poor wallet. My fortunate hands.

I also wound this fab skein…

20140214-092208.jpgThis will be my next pair of socks — Dyeabolical Strong Arm Skinny in the Flowershop Inferno colorway. I think they are going to make a beautiful pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks. This has been such a popular pattern in the Socks with Sarah KAL that I just have to give it a try.

First though, I’ll have to finish up these beauties…

20140214-092157.jpgCustom Toe-Up Socks in Sheepish Yarn Co‘s BFL Sock in the Cedarburg Winery colorway. Sheepish Yarn Co is a brand new dye house from the Milwaukee area and can be purchased through the lovely Cream City Yarn’s online shop. I’m just loving working with this beautiful yarn and the vibrant magenta has been perfect for getting me in the spirit of Valentine’s Day this week.

Magenta socks, project planning, yarn experiments, writing, and forty bags of popcorn with a hidden kiss inside. This life, it’s never dull. It’s never what I expect. But it’s always full of sweet surprises.