Farewell, Quietude

It’s been a longer than normal lapse between posts here. Truth be told, there’s just been a lot happening here. We reached our necessary hours for our homeschool and are marching toward wrapping up our main subjects. I joined a local Rotary club in January and I’ve been helping to organize a fundraiser event at the end of this month. We’re planning and organizing an upcoming vacation. We’ve been attending puppy manners classes with the Bear and working hard to drive home good manners in him as he’s topped 70lbs at his ripe old age of 5.5 months (we’re being told he may not reach full-size until 18months). And a bunch of other things are in the works. Suffice to say, we’ve had a lot of things in motion at the same time and it’s left me with little extra energy.

Perhaps as significant has been that we’ve started to see a real shift toward spring. Granted you wouldn’t know it today as we awoke to 6 or 8″ of fresh snow yesterday and then it rained ice all day. Walking the dog and shoveling was sort of like what I would imagine microdermabrasion to be like, but less pleasant. Alas, spring is springing even if there is currently fresh snow on the ground. The birds are coming back and singing their hearts out. And while I love the birds and all the sounds of nature and the life that is present in summer, there is always a part of me that feels wildly overwhelmed this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, it has been a long winter here and I’m ready for the warmth of the sun, the birds singing me awake each morning, and being able to just go out and enjoy the fresh air without my protective layers of wool and down. As an introvert through and through, though, I am always a little sad when the quiet respite of winter and all its solitude is ending for the season and a little overwhelmed by the constant busy-ness of spring. But I digress.

As a family, we have managed to enjoy some fresh air and, of course, the blues and neutrals of this time of year are beautiful.

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Even if the wind off the icy water is still awfully brisk.

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And this guy is pretty happy with the change in the weather. He is not a huge fan of the bitter cold or the deep snow, so we will often let him stay home if it’s not weather he’ll enjoy, but he loves the cool days where he can get a good hike in.img_6606We’ve been taking Bear out whenever we can, too. With his heavy coat he is much more of a lover of winter and we’ve been taking advantage of that and exposing him to new a lot of new experiences while the trails are still relatively people-free. We’ve been working through a fear stage with him — basically if he’s not familiar with something, he is afraid and barks at it. We’re told it’s very normal at his age and thanks to some guidance in our manners class and a whole lot of time and patience, he’s been showing remarkable improvement and is growing in confidence daily.

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All that work is pretty exhausting for li’l Bear though.

On one of our hikes, we spotted this guy….

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Oh, how I do love a good porcupine sighting!

And on another…

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Moose looked particularly stoic and handsome.

And after one very rainy walk…

Bear did a pretty epic impersonation of Puss in Boots. He wound up getting a bath after this that he did not like at all, but upon his release from the bathroom, he then got wildly excited when Moose jumped in the tub and requested a bath for himself. I was soaked and ready for a nap after that.

 I’ve still found time for some knitting and I’ve been wholly addicted to my latest sweater knit, Tanis Lavallee’s French Braid Cardigan.

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Usually I steer clear of variegated yarn with cables, but I had a feeling this one would be all right.

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And I adore it. I mean, just look at that main cable! The yarn is also a Tanis Fiber Arts creation, their Pure Wash Worsted in the Driftwood colorway. I bought it a while back on a whim during one of their Boxing Day sales and I am really overly excited about the fact that it is working so well with this pattern. The construction is unique in that you are working the front panel right along with the rest of the sweater. It’s the first knit in a long time that I will actually cut time out of my spinning for the pure joy of working on it. 57650553472__a8880bf4-358c-4e93-8de4-05fe07760452

I even snuck a glorious 30minutes of this with the sweater and my boys one morning when Mr. Knitting Sarah had to work early this week. It was incredible.

I have been spinning as well. One project is under wraps as it’s a test spin to check out a colorway and I’m nearly done with it. It involves some attempts to take some video while I spin, so it’s been touch and go time-wise as I work with moody lighting situations. My other main project has been spinning singles for the chain plying Skill Builder in the Three Waters Farm group and I just finished them up last night!

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I have to double check, but I’m fairly certain this is the March TWF Top of the Month Club colorway, Spring Loves Caprice. I’m very much looking forward to plying this soon!

We had a bit of a rough night last night as poor Bear had an upset stomach, so he and I were up every couple hours to make a trip outside. Poor guy! We are both pretty tuckered and I’m hoping for a quiet weekend ahead with some relaxing walks, easy on the chores, and with a fair bit of relaxation. I’m not sure, frankly, if it would be better just to get out there and embrace the spring time hubbub in a baptism of fire or if easing my way into it is better. Whatever the case, time and seasons and all the changes that are coming will keep on coming. I will do my best to meet them, to bid a graceful farewell to the quietude of winter and the embrace all that is on the horizon. Thankfully, I’ve got a killer knit and some colorful spins to help ease me through the transition.

 

Dispatch from Early Spring

I may be a couple of days early, but it is definitely the early days of spring here. Our record-breaking snows of the last couple of months have started receding at an alarming pace — those of you downstream, be prepared! — and what was thigh and waist deep snow a week ago now is ankle deep or less. In fact, for the first time in quite a while, I saw a couple patches of actual ground in my backyard last night.  The birds have erupted in song and we’ve had our first Brown-Headed Cowbirds and Grackles of the year visiting our house. I even caught a glimpse of a Robin flying over our yard yesterday. Yes, it seems spring is on the way.

As it goes in these parts, however, winter to spring is not a smooth transition. Worries of too much snow on our roof have morphed into dealing with a sump pump pipe that is still frozen. While we did not have any issues with damage or flooding in our basement, I did spend a fair bit of time last week preventatively hauling water out of our sump well in 10 gallon Shop-Vac loads (thank goodness there were no stairs involved!) until we were able to rig an outdoor waterfall pump to do the heavy lifting for us until we can give the system enough time to fully thaw. It’ll be a while before we know the fate of the actual sump pump or what the blockage is, but we are hopeful it’s just a matter of letting things thaw out. In the grand scheme of things, I’m thankful that this was just an inconvenience and that we were dealing with the issues before there was actually damage to anything and that now I just have to roll the hose out and plug in the pump. You do what you have to do, but I’m happy to not have to take those multiple trips lifting 10 gallons of water (google tells me that’s about 85 lbs) anymore!

While we awake to the flurry of spring and deal with all that entails, I’ve of course caught the spring cleaning bug as well. No, I’ve not been watching Marie Kondo on Netflix (I read the book when it came out) like the rest of the world. I’m not sure if it’s normal or not, but every year I actually enjoy spring cleaning. There is something about the seasonal change that inspires a fresh, clean start in me. We’ve been in our “new” home almost 2 years now and I’ve been making some minor adjustments in functionality — a broom rack in one closet, a couple hooks in another — and trying to formulate better ways to make tidying more accessible and easier to do regularly. I’ve just, I’ve got a hankering to make things around here a bit more efficient, I suppose you could say. I don’t anticipate this lasting long, so I’m going to ride the wave and enjoy the benefits of it while I can!

But it’s not been all work and fighting the elements and tidying up around here. There has been time for play. The footing on the rotten snow is terrible for hiking, but we’ve been going out anyways. Bear likes to protest a little on the front end as he’s still not very happy about riding in the car. When we start to suit up and ask him if he wants to go on an adventure, he bolts for his crate and does this.

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Moose, for those who might not be aware, has always loved going along, no matter what we’re doing. If he could open doors, Moose would be the first one in the car every time. It’s definitely new for us to have to convince a pup to go.  Isn’t that just the case with siblings though? What one loves, the other loathes. C’est la vie!

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In any case, once we’re out of the car, Mr. Bear is a happy fellow and is proving almost as good of a trail dog as his big brother. I saw “big” with a grain of salt as this is my hand and Bear’s paw print.

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While it’s true that Bear is much fluffier so size comparisons are deceptive with these two, they are growing ever closer in size.

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They are both very happy good boys though.ee2ab9b8-dae4-492b-aa15-fd3742b8b750

And they are enjoying the last hurrahs of winter, to be sure.

When not tearing up the trails wit us, they are proving worthy spinning and knitting supervisors.

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And I’ve been working on a few things in my spare time as well.

This morning I turned the heel on sock #2 of a new pair of socks for Mr. KS.

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I’m going to try to work on this over morning coffee — I think that’s the best recipe for getting it finished in a timely manner.

I also started a new sweater!

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It is Tanis Lavallee’s French Braid Cardigan. It’s an interesting construction so far — this is actually the collar which you cast-on with a provisional cast-on, work one direction and then go back to the cast-on and work the other direction so you have live stitches on both ends. My center pick-up is a little messy, but I think it’ll block right on for me. In any case, I’m about to pick-up stitches and begin the actual raglan part of the sweater. So far, I’m really enjoying this one.

I’ve also got 2 spinning projects ready to ply!

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This is Tranquil Gleam on a BFL + Nylon base.

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And this is Common Ground on Falkland, both from Three Waters Farm and both destined to be traditional 3-plies for the Skill Builder SAL happening over in the group. I’m hoping to start plying later today as I just pulled fiber out of my stash for my next traditional 3-ply spin! I was totally inspired by a member in the group to spin a gradient and I’ve got just the perfect two colorways with which to experiment!

And with this dispatch, this little update from the wee moments of spring, I’m off! I’ve got things to tidy, dogs to play with, yarn to spin, and socks & sweaters to knit! I hope that spring is springing where you are and you are feeling inspired today, too!

Everyone Needs Some Snowflings

I live in north central Wisconsin and winters here are C O L D. We’re talking crazy subzero temps for days on end sprinkled into temps that rarely spike above freezing. We start to cool off in October or November and things kind of bottom out in December through mid-February and then slowly start to warm up into Spring. If you want to spend any time outside for these 6 months, you become an outerwear connoisseur. And that, my friend is what I am. I’m not complaining, to be sure. It definitely jives with my love of spinning and knitting wool!

Over the last few years, I’ve made Tanis Lavallee’s (Tanis of Tanis Fiber Arts for those who weren’t aware) Snowfling Mitts twice. They are stranded mitts that include a lining and they are WARM. I can’t attest to what they’d be like in the far polar reaches, but where I live they are perfect. I have some nice leather and shearling mittens that are super warm, but I actually prefer my wool because it breaths better so my hands don’t overheat like they can in the leather mittens.

I decided a few weeks back to make another pair. Toward the end of last year I picked up a couple of the Tanis Fiber Arts Mitten Kits to make another pair for both myself and my daughter. The TFA yarns are dreamy to work with and I really love how well they wear. In addition to the kits, I picked up a skein of Fig & Sand in Purewash DK — I knew I wanted these to be the outer colors. When I couldn’t decide about a lining that would go well, I emailed Tanis and asked for some help. As always, she was very gracious and shared a few options she thought would work well. I picked Seabreeze from her list and added a skein of Purple Label Cashmere sock for the lining because — yeah — cashmere lining is the best.

After our very cold cabin week, I cast-on for this custom color pair.

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I do make two modifications to this pattern and both have to do with the lining. The first is that when I go to make the picot edge, I pick up my stitches and tack the cast-on row down to make the picot edge at the same time. I’m positive it doesn’t look quite as nice as if I would stitch the edge down and then pick up those stitches, but it saves a boatload of time for me, so it’s a trade-off I will happily make.

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I’ll be honest, I’m not 100% sure if there’s a “right” way to knit the linings. I tend to knit them inside out — you know, the way you shouldn’t knit your socks, until I get close to the final decreases…

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I don’t like knitting around the outer part of the mitt and this works fine, so I go with it. The other modification I make is that I use a kitchener stitch to finish the top of the lining. Personally, I just like how the finish feels better.

The stranded outer looked pretty rough before I blocked them and I was a little worried I’d choked on my stitches a bit too much, but after a nice soak with wool wash and a glug of vinegar to be sure no colors got any funny ideas about bleeding… I am pleased to say they are…

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Just lovely.

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I adore the subtle variations in the Fig (the purple color). I think it gives a wonderful depth and motion to the snowflakes.

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The chevron cuff … I always love that, too.

But perhaps my favorite detail is…

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The little snowflake on the thumbs.

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The palm side is not as flashy, but it has a wonderful rhythm that rounds out the mittens so nicely.

And let’s not forget…

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That pop of color!

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All in all, another raving success! These mittens just never disappoint!

The question now remains — do I use the kits I bought as I’d intended… for Ricochet Mitts? Or do I just knit two more pairs of Snowflings?! Decisions, decisions!

The Flurry Before the Storm

We’ve been hearing about a certain storm system for a week as it’s been slowly marching across the country from California, as the air drops down from the Arctic, and more moisture is drawn up from the Gulf. As with all long-term forecasts, there are too many variables to really be able to tell yet exactly what we’re in for and where our little house is located seems to be precisely where the meteorologists are drawing the line between 6″ of snow/sleet and 12″+ of snow. As is always the case, only time will tell.

Regardless of what actually happens, this kind of system puts a buzz in the air. Getting ready for a potentially big storm is just part of living in this region of the world. Once we catch wind that something big may be headed our way, we all flit about, preparing as best we can. Stocking our shelves, running our errands, filling our gas tanks, packing emergency bags for the car, and keeping shovels & snowblowers at the ready — as with anything, the more you prepare on the front end, the easier it will be to deal with once it hits.

Beyond the practicalities, though, everyone is energized with anticipation. In our house, we check the weather reports a couple times per day. My hubby and I (mostly) playfully bicker about which weather sites are more reliable. And the kids speculate as to wheather it’ll be packing snow or fluffy snow, whether we’ll get enough to build a mega snow fort, and if the sledding hill will be faster. I made a giant batch of waffles so the kids would have an easy warm breakfast, stocked up on warm food & drink like chicken noodle soup and hot chocolate, and I baked a big batch of chocolate chip cookies for — I’ll be honest — no better reason than I thought they’d be a nice treat.

And, course, some of my energy was translated into my craft. I progressed into the lining portion of my Snowfling Mitts

img_2257It’s been slow-going though because I’ve been kind of distracted by my spinning.

I finished up my Three Waters Farm ‘Cool Conundrums’ singles…

img_2256It’s my first real run with my Very Fast Flyer and it’s taking some trial and error to get a good feel for it (as shown by the bursts of over-twisting). I think I’m probably going to do an n-ply, but I’m not 100% sure yet. I’m going to let them rest awhile while I consider my options.

And meanwhile I’ll be enveloped in this…

img_2246Three Waters Farm is the guest dyer for the Completely Twisted and Arbitrary Ravelry Group‘s January – March Spin-A-Long and I am excited to be joining in! This group’s SALs are a very neat concept — the dyer introduces a theme and then participants share visual media ideas to give color/illustrate the theme and for which the dyer could base some custom colorways. The dyer then selects a couple images and dyes the custom colorways. And then the group all spins them up!  You can can see the paintings and custom colorways for this installment here — I think what Mary Ann from Three Waters Farm has done is just phenomenal — so much so that I starting spinning almost as soon as the fiber hit my doorstep.

I started with “Color Music” inspired by Georgia O’Keefe’s Music, Pink and Blue No.2 dyed on BFL.

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img_2255And if that wasn’t enough, I swear the BFL is infused with some sort of magic because it is practically drafting itself. This spin is just pure joy. Pure, gorgeous joy.

Should you be so inclined, you can still pre-order any of the Completely Twisted and Arbitrary colorways in the Three Waters Farm Etsy shop. All three exclusive colorways are available on your choice of BFL or Merino/TussahSilk 80/20. I really can’t say enough great things about them!

So as we all wait for what may or may not be a Snowzilla-type storm to hit, I’ve got my flurry before the storm preparations finished. I suppose all that’s left is it stay calm, spin-away, and wait for the snow to start flying.

This Week in My Dreams

I never quite know what project is going to tickle my fancy from day to day or week to week. In fact, it sometimes happens that projects I can’t live without don’t actually stand the test of time while those I initially shun do. This week’s obsession is one of those.

Joji Locatelli’s Old Romance has been on my mind this week.

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Image from Joji Locatelli’s Ravelry  pattern page – Click for link!

It really didn’t appeal to me when it first came out, but now I’m dreaming of pairing it with Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in one of two color pairings…

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Pink Grapefruit and Natural

or

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Midnight and Stone

(Yarn images from Tanis Fiber Arts website – Click images for links!)

What are you dreaming of knitting this week?

Poppy, Poppy Everywhere!

It all started in December when the pattern launched.  As soon as I saw Alicia Plummer’s In Stillness sweater, I knew I wanted to knit it. Our life these days alternates between studying cozily at home or the library and gallivanting on field trips near and far so comfortable clothes are a must. Since I have a couple cardigans and most of my pullovers are fitted, I’d been really wanting to fill that big comfy pullover spot in my wardrobe for a while. Although I almost always wait a while to let the ideas steep a bit in my mind, this one I just purchased because I knew.

For a few weeks I had trolled for the right yarn. It requires a worsted weight yarn & I definitely wanted to stay in the superwash wool category because I wanted to maintain that drape you get with the superwash yarns. I looked at Madelinetosh Vintage. I looked at Malabrigo Rios. I looked at The Uncommon Thread Everyday Worsted used in the sample. But I kept coming back to Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran Weight. I’ve used TFA yarns in a few previous projects and I just find them to be an incredible value. The quality of the bases combined with the beauty of the colors always seems surprisingly affordable when compared with similar yarns. Usually I order directly from TFA via the website — service is always prompt and friendly, but this time I ordered through Eat. Sleep. Knit. just because they happened to have what I wanted in-stock and that was where I’d been browsing.

I hemmed and hawed a bit regarding color choice, as one does, but in the end I went with a color I’d used before…

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Poppy.

It’s a beautiful, rich true red. With the yarn requirements plus one skein (just in case), I was all set to begin.

And thus, began photo…

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After photo…

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After photo…

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After photo of red knitting.

Sometimes these photos include ninjas thanks to a super fun project bag from Stitched by JessaLu. I had one last coupon code left from a summer promotion/event she held in her Ravelry group and when I saw this fabric in her Facebook feed I decided that this bag would match my red sweater perfectly. I’m usually not into the novelty/cartoony fabrics all that much, but for whatever reason this one I love. And my kids think it’s awesome, so that’s a bonus, too.

So it’s been just a sea of red sweater on my Instagram feed and my #todayonmyneedles posts and just generally in my hands the past week. I was dividing time between a couple other projects up until a few days ago, but I’m at that point in the top-down sweater when I can feel how close I am to finishing up the body so it’s got my undivided attention. I have it in the back of my head that I’d like to have this done and washed and dried in time for Valentine’s Day weekend. I think that’s a long shot and I’m really just not in the mood to be rushing anything these days, but… well, I guess we shall see. At the very least, it guarantees that both you & I will be seeing a fair bit of Poppy for the time being.

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I have to say, I’m enjoying this knit immensely so I’m pretty darn ok with that. Poppy, Poppy everywhere? So be it!