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!

Business Casual + Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber

It can be  tricky to find just the right pattern for a special skein of hand-painted yarn. As I recently discovered, Business Casual by Tanis LaVallee is a pattern that can work with almost any such skein — there are close to 800 examples on Ravelry that can attest to that. Mine was the absolutely amazing North by Northwest colorway from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber in a 75/25  SW BFL/Nylon blend and I could not be any happier with the combination in the finished results.

nxnw legI love how this pattern allows for little punches of color to shine — I think this is the secret as to how the pattern looks so good in so many different colorways, from solids to hand-paints.

nxnw footsIt’s true that you do need to measure carefully for both size and gauge as these socks don’t stretch as much as your average stockinette or ribbed socks. If you do so, however, you should have no problems. The pattern is very well written and easy to follow — just be sure you keep close track of which round you are working (as evidenced by my own ridiculous personal problems that I shared in this post).

nxnw heelsThe yarn — like all the yarn & fiber I’ve used from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber is just beyond beautiful. These socks are just a muted bold palette that is as unique as it is classic. They will go with almost everything in my closet. Aren’t these socks just gorgeous?!

In fact, I was so impressed with the last couple skeins I’ve gotten from Cloudlover that when it came time to renew my fiber club membership I decided to give the fiber + sock club or Half & Half Club a try. So each month, April through June I will get 4oz of fiber & a skein of sock yarn. If I haven’t mentioned it in so many words, Cloudlover is how I’ve become hooked on fiber & yarn clubs. I just love the surprise colorways and I have been so pleased with the quality and variety the clubs offer. I also adore that there are five different clubs to choose from, so you can find one that’s right for your own crafting needs (and budget).

For April, I received this shipment…

20140513-110408.jpgI haven’t yet decided what to spin or knit with these goodies, but they are beautiful & I will surely get working on them soon!

There are a number of sock yarns still with sale prices on cloudlover.com if you have a hankering to try this lovely shop out. Cloudlover is also a proud sponsor of Socks with Sarah and has contributed 2 skeins to the May Challenge pool of prizes (if you haven’t entered yet, you should!). And I promise that you there is more on the way from this fave shop throughout the course of Socks with Sarah — so stay tuned!

For now though, just one more photo of the fab socks of the day…

NXNWOh yes, they are pretty perfect! Love the pattern. Love the socks. Love, love, love!

For more info on this project, please visit my Ravelry project page here.