All The Grey Fiber

My daughter gently nudged me awake last night at 2am to inform me she’d just been sick.  As these things go, she did an admirable job of mostly getting to the bathroom “in time” so that the clean-up was minimal. When things settled down and I’d taken her temperature and assessed that there really wasn’t anything more to do for her right then, I tucked her back into bed and she slowly started to dose back to sleep. It took me far too long to settle back down after all the hub-bub, so I watched some reruns of the Great British Baking Show until I dosed off, mentally noted that I definitely needed to attempt to bake a Prinsesstarta and a Povitica (because of course a relatively novice baker should take on these incredibly complex recipes…) and maybe learn to make donuts from scratch, too.

When morning rolled around I awoke startled, sensing instantly that it was late and that I had an odd hankering for fresh baked pastry. 7am?! I’d slept over an hour later than normal! And while my girl had stoically already gotten up and showered, she was clearly still under the weather. At this point, I’m not sure if it’s a stomach bug or a migraine or both, but suffice to say I tucked her back into bed, made sure she had fluids, and she’s stayed there all day dosing and watching a little TV.  She’s got that classic tired-eyes look that kids get when they are under the weather, so it looks like she needs it!

I’ve tried to make the most of this surprise sick day. In between my regular checks on my girl and knocking out a bit of school with my son, I have been tackling the to-do list. Having picked up extra school hours yesterday with the plan that we’d go light on schoolwork Friday to make room for household tasks, I’d planned on getting to it all tomorrow, but sometimes you just have to roll with the hand life deals you. My boy & I agreed to flip-flop the plans for today and tomorrow. My mother & father-in-law will be visiting next week and I’m using their visit as an excuse to do some fall cleaning, to get things nice and tidy and fresh before it’s time to button up the house for winter. Rumor has it we’ll have our first night dipping into the 30s tomorrow night, so it’s high time we got ready for it! So along with a few errands, today belonged to cleaning.

I’m happy to report that at this point I feel comfortably ahead of schedule. There are a few more items I may or may not get to, but I’m well aware and grounded in the knowledge that they are in the “want to” not “need to” category, so we will see how everyone is feeling tomorrow. With family that we don’t get to visit with much headed this way, healthy kids are the most important goal right now!

In any case, I have made what does not look like a lot of progress on the craft side of things, but in reality it’s kind of a big deal, not to mention no small miracle that I got to it. Some weeks you celebrate the small stuff, right?! Prepare to be slightly underwhelmed!

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This is wholly not glamorous, but I prepped all the grey merino + silk fiber. And by all the grey merino + silk fiber, I mean I had 16oz from one dyelot and 12oz from another and rather than try to figure out how to hold some of it back and still get a good blend between the two lots, I just prepped all the grey merino + silk fiber. Blending and floofing and creating about a zillion little nests of ready-to-spin grey fiber. It took me about 3 days worth of free time and I have no good place to store it without squishing it, but that is the main color of my sweater spin and it’s ready to go! And that is something to celebrate! I’m unsure if I’ll start it now or wait for Spinzilla which is coming up the first week of October, but honestly right now I’m just happy it’s ready!

The other main project I’ve been working on is my current addiction…

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I just cannot put this beauty down! It’s my Down The Road and Back Again Shawl and it’s so fun and easy to knit.

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I’m really mesmerized by how the handspun is knitting up with this lovely commercial yarn. I’m about 10grams — you gauge where to turn by weight — from the point where you switch to the center section. I may try to push through that so I’m comfortably into the decrease section when our guests arrive. Since I’m unexpectedly ahead in cleaning tasks at this point, perhaps I’ll get right to that!

Helping to propel me along the way in all tasks both crafty and on the cleaning front, I’ve been attempting to learn to love audiobooks. I’ve always been a hard copy kind of lady when it comes to books, but because of how my life is structured with school, chores, and craft that all seem to require my hands, I thought I would try to learn to love audiobooks. I’ve never been a huge fan because my mind has always tended to wander, but I am giving it the ol’ college try. So far, so good. I don’t think audiobooks will ever overtake my love of a good hard copy, but it’s nice to be able to “read” while I’m cleaning or cooking or baking (ahem… fancy cakes and breads…) or spinning or knitting.

It is time for me to go and check on my girl and flip some laundry and after that, I think I may have earned some time with my latest book and knitting. Hopefully I will cruise toward that turning point on my shawl and maybe get through to the end of my book. After my tumultuous night last night and all the work around the house today, I’m guessing I may hit the hay early tonight!

To The Glen Again

I must confess something to you.

The unseasonably warm temperatures have been a bit of a downer here at Chez Knitting Sarah. Our entire family loves winter and this longest autumn ever has been wearing on us. As we watch and listen to others celebrate the mild weather, I realize this makes us very odd ducks. There’s a tiny part of me that is a little relieved that the stress on our soon-to-be-replaced 30-year-old furnace has been minimal, but nonetheless we’re longing for snow and cold that bites at our noses & takes our breath away.

It was with this in our hearts that we made the little trek to Parfrey’s Glen. This is a small, incredibly beautiful natural area that I’ve talked about at least 2 or 3 times before here.  Over the years it’s become too crowded for out tastes in the summer, but we can usually manage to find a good day in spring or fall when it’s quiet and not congested. We thought a Wednesday in mid-November might be just right and I’m delighted to say we were right as we only ran into a half dozen other souls on the trail this time around.

This place is a great geology lesson for the kids and — at least for me — a great, humbling reminder that Earth is a big, amazing place.

img_5244From the smallest details in the rocks…

img_5249To the remnants of an ancient sea, no matter where you choose to focus your attention it is an awe-inspiring spot.

The kids, well, they love balancing on downed trees…

img_5182And the excitement of the many stream crossings…

img_5245And my husband and I love to see them having so much fun and chuckling at the inevitable exclamation when someone slips and winds up a little in the drink…

img_5246And just the quiet and the stillness of it all.

We had a little picnic at the end of the trail…

img_5239Right here in this magical spot.

And when I’d finished my lunch and was waiting for everyone else…

img_5234I was reminded that the spindle is a very, very special tool.

We hiked out way out…

And at the insistence of our youngest made a stop at the Blue Spoon Cafe for some gelato. Who can refuse ice cream after a hike? We made a quick stop at Wollersheim Winery for a couple special bottles of wine and then headed home.

It was one of those days that is a great reminder of how lucky we are. That we have both the time and money to take these little day trips, to be awed by the world around us, and to play together in the quiet of the glen again — it’s a gift that not everyone in this world enjoys. I look back and I’m humbled and thankful for the beautiful day, for the awesome place, and for our time with each other. It’s this simple perspective that propels me forward and inspires me every day.

On the Line

Most of what I write about my family life is focused on the places we go — the hikes we take, the trips on which we embark, and the events we seek out. Truth be told, so much of my life happens in our teeny, tiny house and in our rather unspectacular yard. Being on the go as much as we are in the summer, we discovered early on in our home ownership that the big garden we’d dreamed of was pretty impractical for our lifestyle. We’ve converted most of our tiny lot to perennial berry bushes, an epic raspberry patch, and a few wildflowers or native cuttings that friends or neighbors needed to unload.

This year the kids and I attempted to start seeds and grow a few things to have a tiny container garden. Things were going rather well until the local chipmunk population decided to dig up every single vegetable plant we planted and replace them with sunflower seeds save for 3 kale plants. I was frustrated, but accepting of the situation until the chipmunks decided to start climbing in our siding. This is where I draw the line and knew we could no longer be neighbors.

They did, however, leave our nasturtiums alone…

IMG_9800Which just started blooming yesterday. With the chipmunk threat no longer an issue I’m tempted to get a few little herb plants for fresh and for drying for winter use. A dear friend often gifts us little jars of her dried herbs in the fall and  I learned to really appreciate that dash of dried parsley in our winter meals. We shall see what I can find.

It is also the time of year when I hang clothes out on our line.

FullSizeRenderWe joke that our house looks like some sort of tenement situation when I hang clothes out, but to me it’s tradition — something my mom always did in the spring & summer & fall. And aside from the outward appearance, it’s warm & breezy and hanging clothes out to dry is kind to the environment not to mention saves us some money in electricity as well as keeps the house cooler. It’s a win all around in my opinion.

The kids and I also spend a lot of time at home and — like I said — the yard is far from tidy and perfect, but it is a happy place.

IMG_9789This weekend I broke out a new slip n’slide for the kids and while they played, I spun.

IMG_9791And spun and spun the endless bag of pink merino/silk that my daughter requested I spin so she can knit it.

I also knit a bit, finishing up a shawl that is blocking and then using up the remainder of my SilverSpun Summer Sock Club yarn…

IMG_9780-0I had exactly 200yards remaining, so I thought in addition to the shorties I’ve already finished (and will share soon!), a pair of Churchmouse Yarns & Teas Turkish Bed Socks would be a great way to use up the rest.

I finished up the first sock last night…

IMG_9795And as planned I should have just enough to finish the second sock without it being too much of a nail-biter.

It was such a treat to spend some quiet, relaxing time at home over the weekend after our over-exciting vacation and then all the hospital/doctor/me-as-nurse happenings of last week. It’s such a relief that the only thing on the line here right now is laundry. I’m oh so thankful to have everyone on the road to recovery, to have had some time to play and relax in our unspectacular yard, and for all the million little things that are our everyday life and home.

A Custom Spin

I have never done a custom spin before, but I could not think of anyone I would rather spin for than my friend Jennifer. I met Jennifer when she took a sweater workshop I was teaching (her sweater turned out fabulous in case you were wondering) and we discovered we had a ton in common. Nature, outdoors, amazing kids, our big loveable Labrador retrievers, the love of a family-centric life, and — of course — yarn, fiber, & knitting.

When her birthday came up earlier in this month, I decided to turn her loose in my fiber stash. She has supplied me with fresh produce and canned goods from her amazing garden throughout the summer, so it is the very least I could do for her. Newly enhanced with a shipment (or two) of Cloudlover fiber, I walked her through some basic fiber options I had as well as spinning methods I could use. She selected one of the most beautiful braids I had…

magnolia_medium2A Cloudlover 75% Organic Polwarth/ 25% Silk blend in the Magnolia colorway.

20131029-153053.jpgOne more look at it. Greens, gold, violet. Perfect. She has such great taste!

After discussing the options, we decided I would shoot for a lightweight, Navajo 3-ply. I also promised to document my spinning process for her, so she could see her yarn take shape from beginning to end. Lucky for us, I can do so here so that we can all see the evolution of this lovely braid.

For a nice blending of colors, I opted to create some fauxlags. I did this earlier this year with a similar colorway & loved the result. I really enjoy breaking up the colors and organizing them. I also love how easy the fauxlags are to spin.  In the interest of sharing every step, I took photos this morning of the creation of the fauxlags.

First, I divided the braid in half lengthwise.Next, I separated the fiber into smaller portions. The sections of color are a little larger than I originally expected so I am aiming to break the colors up into less uniform sections.

20131030-134609.jpgThe above portion is about average size.20131030-134626.jpgThen I spread out the portion so that it is light & airy & there are no clumps or dense portions. I want to fauxlags to draft easily when I spin.

20131030-134637.jpgNext I take my handy-dandy pencil and lay it across one end of the fiber…20131030-134702.jpgAnd I roll it up. The important thing here is to NOT roll it up tight — you want it pretty loose & airy or it will be hard to spin.

20131030-134715.jpgVoila! The first few fauxlags!  Time to get spinning!