Counting Blessings.

The kids and I decorated for Christmas yesterday. I know, I know, it’s early! I don’t really have any Thanksgiving decor though so putting up Christmas felt like the festive thing to do. As soon as I started bringing up boxes, the kids went bananas for it, so it was a total win.

Having done most of the cleaning yesterday, I took an hour or so this morning to dust and give a little shine to my spinning wheels and spindles. My holiday company will start arriving today so this was my last opportunity to do so before things got busy. The sun slowly came up. Big, fat snow globe flakes of snow started to fall. In that quiet moment, I took a deep breath and counted my blessings. I am thankful. For family. For friends. For my home. For the cold November blue skies. For the sun shining. For the big, fat snow globe flakes of snow. For my beautiful spinning wheels. For the friends I’ve made through craft and all I’ve been able to learn from it. For all the experiences of the past year. I’m just so very thankful.

This Thanksgiving I hope that you each get a quiet moment to take a deep breath and count your blessings, too. Some days they are harder to see, some days they are as blinding as the morning sun, but they are there. And they are many.

img_4505

 

A Simply Wonderful Wednesday

I started yesterday here…

img_1620

On our little balcony with my Jensen Tina 2, my new flyer & hi-speed bobbin, and a basket of Three Waters Farm “Flying Home”, the June Top of the Month Club fiber. If you look really close, you can get just a tiny glimpse of Moose — Mr. Knitting Sarah and coffee and all our wonderful yard birds (including a visit from the resident Cooper’s Hawk) were also present making the morning complete.

img_1665

The fiber is indeed a beauty — it’s 100% Corriedale, so I broke it up into little uneven nests — probably 1-5 grams each and will eventually chain ply them. If it winds up light enough, I will make it into socks when the time comes.

From our little slice of heaven, we took a little hike, as we often do on Mr. Knitting Sarah’s days off.

img_1648

We went to one of my favorite trails. It’s quiet and wide open and it always holds surprises. I didn’t take many photos, but I did find this little bumblebee…

img_1630

With his pockets full of pollen. He was very busy and could not hold still for a good picture. He had too much too do! We also had the joy of witnessing not one, but two American Bitterns fly in opposing circles around us and — after waiting a while to see if they’d take off again from the tall marsh grasses — we learned that like a Great Blue Heron, they do indeed make a noise when the take off. It is quiet and understated, as it should be for sure a quiet and understated bird.

With the sun starting to beat down on us and a flock of 40 or so White Pelicans circling on the thermals overhead, the Common Yellowthroats and Sedge Wrens (or Marsh Wrens, I’m not 100% sure) sung us back toward the car. There was a flock of Cedar Waxwings nibbling berries along the way that I stopped to admire. Mr. Knitting Sarah was hot, though and he forged ahead, about 10 feet in front of me. Just as we were almost to the gate near the parking area there was a sudden explosion almost directly under Mr. Knitting Sarah’s feet. He jumped, a little freaked out as I shouted, “Woodcock!!!!!” and sure enough, it was a pair of American Woodcock. The bouncing and dancing and fist bumps that ensued were to celebrate this experience because I’ve been trying to see a Woodcock for roughly 15 years and I’ve just never been in the right place at the right time. Until yesterday. That’s what we call a “life bird” in the birding world and when you’ve traveled a bit and you’ve been birding for 15 years, seeing something brand new is worthy of a lot of bouncing, dancing, and fist bumps. Trust me. And I won’t lie, the fact that it also made Mr. Knitting Sarah jump was kind of fun, too.

Elated from a wonderful morning on the trail, we headed home and grabbed the kiddos to go see the latest Jurassic World movie and then home again where I did a little spinning. The night before, I’d worked up another set of rolags from Bumblebee Acres

img_1606

And while I wasn’t in the mood to ply this project just yet, I’m still really into this whole “freestyle supported long draw” thing, so I grabbed a couple batts from my stash to experiment with the technique with batts. This is one of them…

img_1662

Which looks like this unrolled…

img_1666

It’s a little lighter than it’s sibling, but close enough to still work together. In any case, I’ve been pulling them apart into more manageable batt-lets according to color…

img_1660

And spinning from them with my fast and loose supported long draw…

img_1659

It’s really vibrant. Originally I had thought I’d spin them both lightly and then chain ply them, but now I’m thinking I may make a 2-ply and play a little more with the colors. We shall see.

For good measure, I also put a couple rows into my Rainbow Warrior…

img_1663

I believe I’m one row away from Section 7, about to start Row 130 out of 158. Not that I’m counting.

I don’t know about you, but being around all this excitement and action has tuckered Moose out.

img_1658

I suppose that’s what a simply wonderful Wednesday, full of all of my favorite things can do!

The North Country

It was quiet here in my little corner of the internet last week, but I had good reason — we were on vacation! Now lots of people here in the North Country go South in winter, but those who know us are probably not surprised to hear that we went about an hour North of our home for our winter vacation. And we didn’t head north just any week, we went North during one of the worst cold snaps in recent memory. That last part wasn’t by design, but when Mr Knitting Sarah takes time off, he can’t really reschedule because the weather isn’t perfect. Many people were concerned we might not survive and were¬†convinced that we were (maybe still are?) crazy fools, but I assure you, we have survived and we had a blast.

True to form for most of our vacations, this one did not start exactly according to plan. My dad was joining us and had brought various ice fishing and other implements for enjoying the winter weather in his truck. The plan had been to caravan up with his truck and our van, but he morning of our departure is was a crisp -15F. Once we’d packed up our van we discovered that his truck had no interest in starting. I don’t blame it! We called to see if we could get the new batteries installed that day, but at 8:30am there was already a line 7 deep at the shop for cars needing new batteries on top of their booked appointment schedule. The truck was not moving anytime soon.

Always ready to adjust to a reality that is not going according to plan, before deciding what we could jettison from the van so we could all fit into it (winter gear is extremely bulky), we attempted to start up our sensitive to the cold 15year old Subaru. Luckily we’d had it in the garage, so it wasn’t quite as cold and after a couple tries, she started up. And we were off.

My parents co-own some land that hour north of our house and our uncle graciously allowed us to use his cabin there. It is rustic, but my uncle and cousin keep it extremely ship-shape. My cousin, who happens to be an incredibly talented artist (check his website here!), lives and works nearby was AMAZING — no, BEYOND AMAZING, and started and then proceeded to tend the wood stove for us a day or two before we arrived so that it would not be subzero inside when we arrived. You see, this is how the cabin is heated…

img_9307

A beautiful wood-stove in the middle of the main floor. For those who don’t heat with wood, it takes time to get the heat going with this kind of stove. He even took notes on the temps inside and outside each time he stopped in to feed the fire and they looked like “4F inside, -25F outside” and “36F inside, -10F outside” — and it was funto see because it really showcased the back and forth of the elements vs his efforts to warm the place, but also just that the cabin’s outdoor temp was a full 10 degrees colder than at our house pretty consistently.

So do you want to cringe a bit or be inspired first? How about we go with inspiration?

img_9268

Winter. Is. Beautiful.

img_9276

It’s a spectacular quiet to experience when only the bare trees and a lone Brown Creeper are about.

img_9275

And the woods are dark and shadows are long.

We had the best time. It was literally subzero most of the week, but the kids played outside almost all day long, sledding and mucking about in the snow & Mr Knitting Sarah and I took some nice walks around the woods. What can I say? Subzero temps really aren’t that uncomfortable when you have the right gear and you’ve got a toasty cabin in the 45-55F range (thanks to my cousin’s efforts and our own continued minding of the fire) to return to. When we weren’t outside, we played games with the kids and my dad and did a puzzle and made yummy meals.

I also did some knitting…

img_9265-1

And some spinning…

img_9280

When I had a little down time.

The cell service is kind of spotty and while they have a TV we never turned it on. There is also gas for the stove and lighting as well as a generator for lights and basic electric. The generator also did not like the cold, but we would bring it in in the morning, let it warm up during the day, and then it worked fine to get us to bedtime. All in all, it is exactly the type of place we love.

The part that might make y’all uncomfortable… it doesn’t have running water. So bathroom breaks require a little sprint to the outhouse a dozen steps from the back door. It’s the most pristine outhouse I’ve ever been in (and trust me when I say I’ve been in quite a few), but there’s no denying that running out there when it’s -25F or even 0F is… exhilarating? But let me tell you, I heard ZERO complaints from anyone in our family. I could not be any more proud of the kids for that. They took it all in stride and loved every minute.

Moose had fun, too…

img_9295

Digging for sticks in the snow is a favorite past-time, after all. And I’ll say that even though his napping required curling up in a tighter than usual ball, he definitely has a serious love of winter, too.

img_9303

Wednesday we spent the day up at Copper Falls State Park where we went on a short hike and saw Crossbills and our first ever Pine Grosbeaks and then did loads of sledding and playing in the snow. The down-side, unfortunately is that the fire died down while we were out (a risk we knew we were taking) and that night was very cold. When the sun came up, I snapped this photo…

img_9308

We considered spending another day, but we opted instead to pack, clean up, and head out to make sure we could get my dad’s truck fixed and so we could have a nice relaxing weekend before Mr KS needed to get back to work.

I managed to finish up my primary project for the week, my Find Your Fade shawl…

img_9322

The needles are still in it in this photo for the bind-off, but it’s squarely in the FO column now. I will get better photos when I wash and block it, but it may be a little while because my woolie washing is a little backed up after last week. Suffice to say, I’m a thousand percent in love with it though.

I also started in on a Fairbanks Pullover. I don’t know, but a bulky weight sweater just seemed like a really good idea — lol! I cast-on on the 1st of the month and brought it to the cabin, but didn’t touch it until we got home as I was in the groove with Find Your Fade. I brought it with me yesterday while we were out and about carnivore tracking (a new super cool thing my husband and son are learning to do as citizen scientists).

img_9337

And by this morning, I’m just starting in on the bottom garter edge…

img_9347

So far, I’m in love with the fit. I should have it done very shortly because, you know, bulky sweaters are kind of the instant gratification of sweater knitting. I’ll hopefully bind-off the bottom edge and get the sleeves going — two at a time, for sure because I can’t be counted on to take notes and make them match otherwise.

I also kind of impulsively started a new spin…

img_9350

This is the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month for January, Winter Pathways in the silk blend, which is 80/10/10 Targhee/Bamboo/Silk this month. I had grand plans of sampling this like a good spinner, but got a little caught up in it and now I’m just plowing headlong toward a chain plied, worsted-ish weight yarn. I couldn’t help myself, once I started, there was just no stopping to evaluate further. I’m just enjoying it.

I also received a package in the mail. Because what do I do when I spend the week in a subzero winter wonderland and find Malabrigo Lace on sale for 50% off?

img_9348

I buy enough for three sweaters. In the bright colors imaginable. If you’re feeling the need to dream of warmer days, too, you can check out the remaining colors on sale from Firefly Fibers here. These skeins of 470yards and at $4.70 each, that makes for a pretty inexpensive summer garment or accessory. I’m looking at making a May for myself and for my girl (one guess which color is hers!) and then maybe an Estuary in the yellow. It may take a while, but despite loving our cold weather North Country vacation, it never hurts to think ahead and plan for warmer days, does it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unabashedly Nonspecific

A couple weeks ago I had a comment here on the blog asking that I get into more of the specifics of my spins — wpi, tpi, ratios, etc — when sharing my finished handspun yarns. I’ll admit, I’ve always found myself walking a line here between my knitting readers and spinning readers, unconsciously trying to feel my way to where the right amount of detail is for both groups of crafters. I don’t want to get so specific that I lose those who aren’t spinners, but I do want to share enough detail that spinners can understand easily what I’m doing. I’m likely making a mountain out of a mole-hill, but it has been an issue that I feel like I’ve been dancing around for a good long while now.

After quite a bit of consideration and more than a little of my own special brand of soft-shoeing, I’ve come to the realization that I’m in a time and place where I’m as much spinner as knitter and my readers may be likewise more evenly divided. Therefore, it seems right that going forward I’m do my best to dive a bit more into the spinning mechanics and details when I talk about my handspun yarns. It’ll take time for me to develop the right words and vocabulary not to mention a hefty dose of discipline for me to keep better track of how I spin things, but it’s my belief that this new endeavor will not only help spinners reading this blog to learn from my work, but also help me as I continue to learn and grow as a spinner. I think all of us — knitters and spinners alike — will gain more depth of knowledge in the world of yarn if I take this next step. Together we can expand our vocabulary and understanding and I think that’s a pretty exciting prospect.

Today, however, is not day one of this journey. Today I am going to be unabashedly nonspecific. Today I’m going to share some yarns that I spun and finished before Spinzilla (and one from after), before this comment came up, and before I resolved to delve deeper. Today, I’m going to show you some yarns I spun just because, and the details, well, I’m leaving them out for today. The spins, however, I think will still be fun to see.

First up, this is a Polwarth + Silk blend called Red Rocks…

img_8473

I spun it as a simple 2-ply worsted weight yarn.

img_8474

As is true of all the yarns in this post, I haven’t properly measured it yet, but I would guess it’s around 200yards.

Next up, a Merino+Nylon blend called November Skies…

img_8475

Again, this was spun to be a simple 2-ply worsted weight yarn and is likely in the 200yard realm.

img_8476

And my third pre-spinzilla spin today is a Superwash Merino+Bamboo+Nylon blend called St Bartleby’s…

img_8478

This one I spun to be a little lighter, but as a traditional 3-ply yarn and is more like a sport of DK weigh yarn.

img_8477

I had quite a bit of waste with this one as I ran out of time and interest right before Spinzilla to try to squeeze every last yard from the singles. This 3-ply is probably more in the 200-250yard arena. I’ll be interested to know the yardage post-spa day because I usually don’t have as much waste as this one had.

And I did have one post-Spinzilla spin, as well. I won’t lie, it’s my favorite of this lot.

img_8472

I give you Rocks & Sand from Three Waters Farm on a 100% Rambouillet base.

img_8471

Again, this is a simple 2-ply, but this spin is a bit heavier, probably in the heavy aran or chunky classification. As it is heavier, the yardage is a little lower. I think it’s between 120-150 yards. I do think it’ll make an awesome hat which is what I’d originally planned for it. As you likely have noticed, hats really are my favorite thing to do with chunky Rambouillet and Merino. Cozy and smooshy and just all in all a wonderful project.

And there you have it! My latest handspun yarns, just as they are. Fast and furious spins, without a lot of technical talk. Buckle up, though, as I attempt to include the details of my new spins. I’m excited and nervous and ready to start developing a little more depth in the language I use for my handspun. The same yarns, just hopefully a little more informative and easier to fellow spinners to try out. Today, unabashedly nonspecific. Tomorrow, we start discovering how to discuss yarn in a deeper, more explicit way. I hope you’re excited to join me!