SpringTastic in Summer

As I mentioned last week, I selected Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter‘s SpringTastic Socks pattern my beautiful skein of SilverSpun Sock in Watermelon Crush, the August yarn for the Feel Good Yarn Co‘s Summer Sock Club. Can I show you the skein one more time?

IMG_0396It’s just so pretty!

In any case, trying the SpringTastic Socks pattern was kind of a big deal for me. I like to keep my socks simple and in the ‘no-brainer’ column because they are small and I’m on-the-go a lot, so their portability combined with the simplicity a basic sock provides is perfect for my everyday life. I also have this weird hang-up in my own head that always questions why I would purposely put holes in my socks via lace patterning. I set aside my prejudices and took the plunge though because I knew these would be beautiful. And sometimes, it’s nice to throw caution to the wind and make something just because it’s beautiful.

IMG_0456I worked on these mostly in my down-time, early mornings before the kids were awake and after they went to bed. Once I had the pattern down pretty well, I was able to work on it when I was paying less attention like when I was watching the kiddos at the playground or listening to them read aloud. I found the pattern to be really enjoyable to knit. I definitely never memorized it to the point where I didn’t need the chart (although I don’t think that would be impossible), but I did get a very good feel for it to the point that a quick glance at the charted directions was all it took for me to manage the next round of patterning. Suffice to say, I think it’s easier than it looks. My hat really goes off to the designer, Stefanie, as well as Holla Knits — the publisher of the pattern — for an extremely well-written, nicely edited pattern with an excellent layout that’s so easy to read and follow. I don’t usually talk much about such things, but for this pattern it’s absolutely worth mentioning because it is so well done. It definitely makes me even more anxious to get my hands on a copy of Midwestern Knits, the new book by Holla Knits editor Allyson Dykhuizen.

But back to the socks at hand.

These socks were definitely like rolling a rock down a hill in that I picked up speed as I went and the second sock really felt like it flew. Before I knew it, I was done.

topsI wanted to share this photo because you can see how they look pretty involved, but I assure you they were so manageable and fun to knit. I think I keep mentioning this because as someone who usually knits only very basic socks I’m kind of shocked at how easy these were.

whole socksAnd I’m just so incredibly happy with how they turned out in both how they look…

onAnd how they fit. They are the absolute perfect match for this skein and the perfect end for me to the Summer Sock KAL.

The end? Yes, the end for me! The last two months I’ve managed to get a pair of shortie socks and a pair of Turkish Bed Socks out of one skein, but these socks took up a bit more yarn with the more intricate pattern and the taller cuffs so I’m left with just about 135yards remaining. That’s not quite enough for Turkish Bed Socks for my feet. I thought about a pair of socks for my daughter, but she’s growing like a weed and I’d like to use the rest of the yarn to make something we can use for more than just a short time. I did a little Ravelry searching and I’m thinking I’ll eventually use the leftovers to make a pair of the Twigs and Willow Mitts by Alana Dakos. My daughter is always borrowing my fingerless mitts and these will be just perfect for her. They’ll be a little big at first, but that’s never stopped her before — between the pink yarn and the cozy pattern I think they’ll be a perfect match.

Just because I’m done, the Summer Sock KAL will go on through Wednesday, September 16th as I mentioned last week with winners of the prizes announced on Friday, September 18th. That’s still plenty of time to work up one last pair of shorties! I’ll still be cheering everyone on in the Ravelry thread & ooohing and ahhhing at everyone’s beautiful socks. I can’t wait to see what everyone knits up!

Work & Play

 I spent Saturday morning sewing a new top pattern (more on that later) and we then took the afternoon at the pool. I’m elated to share that we’ve reached a point where the kiddos and I have a system that allows me to actually swim laps again. The pool open hours plus the hours my husband works paired with homeschooling and the swimming skill levels and ages of the kids has made it pretty much impossible for me to swim laps since we made the leap to homeschooling. It’s been almost a year and a half that I’ve given up my own pool time, so it’s a big deal for me to be back at it. It feels amazing to be back in the water. As an added bonus, as I ease back into a routine that is currently only in the 20-30minute time frame, the kids happily swim for upwards of 2hours. That is a little quiet knitting time for me while I watch them play.

IMG_0459What a great addition to our days on so many levels!

With the help of Mr Knitting Sarah, on Sunday I worked on a schedule for school. One of my biggest challenges with homeschool is that I really want it to be a fluid — not a ‘school’s in’/’school’s out’ kind of situation, but more of a ‘learning is always happening’ kind of mindset. Daily goals are ever-present, lessons are scheduled out with definite plans, but I’m trying to avoid the feeling that we’re punching a clock on learning. That being said, I hear “are we still in school?” and “what’s next?”” about a thousand time per day from my darling children and it makes me a little crazy. As chillaxed as I want to approach our days, it seems my children require a proper printed schedule and that’s just fine. I hunted online for some free templates that I could customize and lo and behold by the time the rain passed around midday, I had created something that I think will work.

IMG_0477I have never been too handy with these types of computer things, but I’m really happy with how it all came out. I have weekly schedules for each kid and a weekly lesson plan (not pictured) for me all which can be edited week-to-week. I worked all three sets up through mid-September and I’m very hopeful that this approach will not only help curb the incessant ‘are we there yets’ from the kids, but also really help me stay on top of the things I need to have prepped for each week so that I will be doing less last minute scrambling. This week was pretty easy because we’re still just running easy half-days to get used to being back in school. Next week will be the big test when we really hit the books with full days. I feel pretty confidant we’re in a good position to really fly this year and what’s more, I feel more like our overall trajectory is pretty easy to handle and the minor additions that change from week to week are pretty manageable, especially with the expert help of my partner. Phew.

That completed, once the rains passed around noon we took our Sunday afternoon outdoors. Between my hubby’s schedule and his slow recovery from his back injury earlier this summer we haven’t done much hiking. It was a lovely late September day… or at least that’s what the windy, cloudy barely 65F day felt like!

IMG_0465

There were some beautiful wildflowers along this road-turned-trail and we got to see some beautiful Egrets, Sandhill Cranes, an American Wigeon, some Coots, and even a couple Black Necked Stilts off in the distance, just to name a few of the birds present. By the end, we were all lightly frozen and ready for the homemade chicken soup that was in the slow cooker at home.

We spent the evening huddled under blankets and I knit away on my Summer Sock KAL socks some more.

IMG_0467More on these soon, too.

We awoke to a pretty chilly morning. I’m wearing full-on wool handknit socks for the first time since early June and I’m thinking a whole lot about starting one of the many sweaters I have on-deck for this fall & winter. It was cold enough that Moose required an emergency implementation of “Operation Hot Dog.”IMG_0476We like to refer to this photo as his “Obi-Wan Moosenobi” portrait.

It was definitely a weekend that had a pretty good balance of work & play — I hope you enjoyed the same and are able to face this week refreshed and ready-to-go!

July Summer Sock KAL Wrap-Up

My July Summer Sock KAL shorties took their sweet time being knit into existence. I was busy with the Tour de Fleece, so I snuck stitches in here and there — like at the pool when I sat out of swimming and on longer car rides when I wasn’t driving. That’s the beauty of shorties, though, they don’t take long to knit up.

 I got my skein of SilverSpun Sock in July’s Nectarine Dream at the end of June.

IMG_9832Laurie from Feel Good Yarn Co has been awesome in getting a skein to me a little bit early each month so I can do some test running with the yarn to settle on a pattern before everyone else in the group starts to get their skeins. I have to admit that I initially wanted to go with the very popular Rose City Rollers pattern. I started them and then had second thoughts about how the colors were falling. So I ripped them out and tried the SpingTastic Socks which to my delight were much easier to knit than I anticipated. The patterning looks kind of complex, but the designer, Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter, is pretty brilliant and has quite the knack for good pattern layout and writing. It was flying off my needles, but… it just wasn’t a match for the yarn. So I ripped them out and re-cast-on the Rose City Rollers and this time the pattern stuck.

I got through the heel of the first sock and I was hooked and from that point on I loved everything about the project. They were nice and simple which was just what I needed for this July.

sskal july1Best of all, these socks are totally unique — they are so… so… so July! Bright yellows and vibrant reds, broken up by slightly more subtle colors, almost like some of the colors are in full sun and some are their cousins that are hanging out in the shade.

sskal julyThey are everything July socks should be — lively and wild and a little crazy — from the colors right down to their random repeats.

sskal jul3In addition to the yarn being absolutely wonderful in both color and the always luxurious SilverSpun Sock blend, I now totally understand why the Rose City Rollers pattern has taken the knitting world by storm this summer. It is well-written, accommodates multiple sizes, and is a truly fun and easy knit. I found the fit to be excellent, too. If you haven’t tried a pair of Rose City Rollers yet this summer, you definitely should!

August will be the final month for the Summer Sock KAL and you are still welcome to join us to chat in the Summer Sock KAL main thread and enter your shorties in the Summer Sock KAL FO thread.  Remember there will be a prize drawing for those who finish a pair of shorties in SilverSpun Sock yarn as well as a prize drawing for those who finish up a pair in other yarn, too. There’s plenty of time to still take part!

I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited to see what’s coming our way for the August installment of the Summer Sock Club.  Until then, I’ll be deciding what to do with the other half of my July skein and maybe casting-on a gift that I need to get done sooner than later. I may be able to keep myself busy, but after the last two beautiful months I’ll surely be dreaming of that August skein!

Fraught with Peril, Filled with Beauty

When I was a little kid in swimming lessons at the YMCA, I would run out of breath constantly because I was convinced orcas were in the pool with me, chasing me. I was absolutely sure they were always just outside my peripheral vision, poised to attack. I kept swimming, but I really never excelled at the front crawl because of it.  These days, I have learned to love swimming laps, but I’m still not great with the front crawl — there is something about that underwater view that always makes me uneasy.

When it comes to “wild water” (i.e. water that is, you know, outdoors and not a pool), I have to admit at this stage of the game that I’m afraid of water. We’re talking good, old-fashioned full-on irrational fear. I’ve always persevered to overcome this fear, or at least not be too limited by it, and I’ve had varying degrees of success. I love boats and being on the water, but there is something about that wild unknown below that still freaks me out pretty thoroughly. When I lived on the ocean during college I managed to work myself up to swimming daily and I really was pretty comfortable. I could bob around in the surf with the best of them and I came to truly love it.

Unfortunately, I’ve never really gotten over my distrust of murky water or river currents though and it shows pretty quickly when I’m in a canoe. It shows really quickly when I’m asked to get into any rivers or streams clouded by sediment. So when my husband told me last Tuesday night that instead of a day of hiking at Devil’s Lake State Parkhe instead wanted to start the day at Pewitt’s Nest there was some instant dread. And he didn’t just want to do what we did last time — where he takes the kids down Skillet Creek and I wait at the end. He wanted me to depart from my comfort zone and join them. I spent the next 16hours trying to not talk about it as much as possible knowing full well the crazy monologue in my head would ruin my hubby’s day. I mostly succeeded. Kind of.

Pewitt’s Nest, you see, is a deep gorge through which Skillet Creek flows. It is undoubtedly beautiful with its steep cliffs.

IMG_0185But to enjoy it you have to wade through this creek. Most of it isn’t too bad, especially if, like us, you don’t plan to go all the way down the creek to the trailhead. The hike is primarily through water that is only shin deep and the bottom has decent footing for most of the way with either sandstone or a sandy bottom. There is one spot, however, that is like this…

Cue the panic.

My hubby delivered the kids down at a safe spot and then came back for me. What ensued was pretty embarrassing. As soon as my feet disappeared into the silty water and then the water came up to my knees I started to hyperventilate. Involuntary tears flowed freely. My husband gave me his walking stick in addition to my regular walking stick to give me more security and he walked right beside me, most likely wondering how it came to be that he married a woman who is a good swimmer, but is terrified of knee-deep water. It was not great. I kept on, though, and as we neared the spot where the kids were I used the brim of my hat to hide my face while I cleaned up a bit, not wanting to add to my son’s already present low-level distrust of the situation. My daughter & Moose had no such qualms, thankfully, only glee.

Securely in a spot where we were far enough from the trail and most of the people, we were able to hang out and enjoy the scenery. We relaxed for a while and I was able to calm down and enjoy where I was.

IMG_0196I examined the ferns, inexplicably growing from the…

IMG_0194Insanely green walls of the gorge.

IMG_0193And the reflection of the creek on the sandstone formations high above was definitely a sight to see.

You would think the trip out would have been easier than heading in and I guess in a way it was. Sort of. I tried to focus on how pretty this place was.

IMG_0195The hyperventilating recurred, but I managed to hold back most of the tears. That’s improvement, I think. Sort of. As if to point out my ridiculousness, while I gasped for breath in the final leg of the hike my daughter doggie paddled happily next to the dog in the thigh-deep water. Of course, after all the fuss, it’s not lost on me that I made it out without tripping and falling in. No rogue orcas attacked. In fact, my shorts barely even got wet.

Having narrowly escaped the monsters of the deep in Skillet Creek, we headed to Devil’s Lake where we enjoyed our picnic. After which the kids and Mr Knitting Sarah swam in the lake, Moose took a load off, and I clicked away on my Rose City Rollers in my July Summer Sock Club Yarn from Feel Good Yarn Co.

IMG_0190A very busy, dog-friendly park, we were having a nice relaxing time when a well-meaning dad tried to let his little girl be in charge of holding the leash of their overly-friendly pitbull. With me in my camp chair and directly at face level with the animal, the dog lunged toward me so I quickly dropped my knitting to grab Moose who was a short tie-out. I was attempting to prevent these two creatures from meeting right in my face — even though the pitbull appeared very friendly, Moose can be very enthusiastic with new doggie friends and there was no way that I was not about to be creamed. At the last moment with the dog about a foot away, the dad grabbed to pitbull and we avoided incident, but in the fast-moving & crazy moment I managed to impale myself in the thigh with one of my US size 1 knitting needles.  I have never stabbed myself (or anyone else for that matter) with a knitting needle before and I can now attest to the fact that it does in fact hurt a fair bit and it’s suprisingly easy to make yourself bleed. Thankfully, I carry bandaids and a small first-aid kit with me at all times, so I was able to bandage myself up so I didn’t bleed all over my skirt on the ride home.

Sipping a much-deserved iced coffee, I was able to knit on my socks all the way home. I finished up the day by casting-off my Rose City Rollers.

IMG_0198(I’ll get some FO photos in proper light soon.)

Fraught with peril, filled with beauty, and complete with  a little blood loss, a few tears, and a lot of smiles and laughs, my little family made it home happy and tired from our very full day. This is what summer days are all about.