Baskets, Bobbins, and Piles Of Things Not Yet Finished

Sitting on my desk is this basket…

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Still full of Tour de Fleece handspun yarns that I haven’t shared with you. What can I say? I just haven’t quite gotten there yet. There’s a shawl the back of my chair that’s in the same boat, too.

Sitting next to my spinning wheel are these bobbins…

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Plied and ready to be skeined and finished, these are my spindle spun singles from the Tour de Fleece.

On my wheel, a true spinning WIP…

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This is the latest Top of the Month Club fiber from Three Waters Farm. I think I’m in love.

Across the room, my yarn and fiber stash…

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Freshly sorted, cataloged, and rearranged. Note my mannequin has been binocularized. I know what ladies do to earn bead necklaces at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so I’m kind of afraid to know what my mannequin in Central Wisconsin did to earn her own binoculars.

And in my knitting bag is this start of a shawl…

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This will be a shawl for my mother in-law. She really liked it and bought all the components, but hit some roadblocks in the pattern-writing, so she asked and I agreed to take it on for her. Now that I’ve got the pattern memorized, I’m cruising an enjoying it

Sitting next to my desk is this humongous pile…

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School books and school supplies, just waiting to be organized and distributed to various shelves throughout the house. I’ve got the preliminary schedule set, books are purchased (obviously), and I am working on getting whatever components exist online set-up. It’s also prime time for me to familiarize myself with where we are starting and how the new programs we’re trying will work. Starting school? That will be a piece of cake, the weeks of preparation are the busiest time for me!

Feeling school and a busy September bearing down on us and all that comes with the fast-approaching end of summer, we took a couple nights this weekend to spend time at the family cabin up in the Northwoods. There is no running water, let alone cell service or wifi, and we’ve come to really appreciate spending time there. We love being in a spot where we get to set down our smart phones & be unreachable for a while. A place where we get to make the kids step away from their screens without the usual resentment toward us for forcing the issue. We play board & card games, read, hike, and — introverts that we all are — generally enjoy the quiet. Inspired to check it out after attending an author event for Michael Perry at our local library, I read 2/3 of one of his latest books, Danger Man Working.

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It’s a collection of essays he’s written over the years and it’s a great way to get a feel for his writing, I think, as he touches on a wide variety of topics.

Before homeschooling, I read a lot. Since homeschooling full time, it’s been very hard to find time to read for my own pleasure because I’m constantly side-tracked and in the middle of any number of other topics and stories. I’m also generally drained at the end of the day sometimes. These essays are just the right length for me to be able to sit and read and actually finish a story line before being derailed. I wish this book wouldn’t end. I laugh out loud, I cringe, I identify with people, I have vicarious low-level panic attacks, I tear-up — it’s good stuff. A great way to spend a quiet weekend. I did a little sock knitting while I read, but that project is still buried, waiting to be unpacked so I’ve got no updated picture for you today.

We did find a new hiking spot. I mean, of course we found a new hiking spot…

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Mr. Knitting Sarah loves trails that are more game trail than human trail. I… well, I am learning to dislike them less. My main beef is that the poor footing wears out my faulty hip a lot faster than the more groomed variety, so I get frustrated when pain starts to seep in sooner than I’m ready for it.  But these thick woods…

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They are beautiful and generally worth the effort. Any frustration melts away when I stop to take in the scenery…

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Because there are so many little wonders all around.

We did not see any bears or wolves or other large carnivores and while Mr. Knitting Sarah is always a little disappointed in that, we did see more than our share of deer and fawns and I was lucky enough to see an ermine lope across the road in front of us. Oh, how I love those guys!

From this beautiful spot we watched at least 15-20 Cedar Waxwings catch flies…38513908_10155339465112000_8363549941024423936_o

And a Red-eyed Vireo darted down from the tree tops to see what we were all about.

As the day marched on toward lunch and our stomachs started to grumble we turned back to the car, to a picturesque picnic spot that Moose loved…

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And ultimately back toward the baskets, bobbins, and piles of things not yet finished. Believe it or not, they are all right where I left them and ready to be picked back up again.

 

Red Hot & Blue

I’m from the school of thought that every month’s braid from Three Waters Farm’s Top of the Month Club is pretty wonderful. This month’s braid, Red Hot & Blue…

img_4038It’s on an 85/15 Polwarth/Silk base and it lasted all of about an hour before I got spinning.

img_4040I couldn’t help myself!

Having spun a couple worsted weight barberpoling skeins a recently, I had it on the brain a bit and decided to spin another with this lovely fiber.

img_4053I used my Spinner’s Control Card again to get the singles in the realm of what would get me a worsted weight 2ply when all was said and done. I’m really learning to like that tool a lot.

img_4064With regards to prep and color handling, I didn’t get too precious about it. I split the braid into thirds according to the color repeat first. Then I split one of those thirds in half and put one half with each of the 2 remaining thirds (this isn’t getting confusing at all, lol!). Then I prepped each half into smaller nests; one that would spin starting from the pink side of the color repeat and the other half to spin starting with the blue. And off I went.

I finished the singles in good time and then got down to plying. As I plied, I worried that I had spun the singles too light as the yarn looked thin compared to what I had aimed for. I knew I hadn’t been perfectly consistent, but this looked like I’d missed my mark. Regardless, I finished plying using an Andean plying bracelet to use up every last bit and then I popped it in the wash.

And, wow did it poof up!

img_4126And sure enough! It measured in at about 8-9 wpi landing it squarely in the worsted category.

Can I show you another close-up?

img_4131I’m happy with the spinning and even happier with the super colorful yarn.

img_4128I have to measure out yardage, but I would guess I’m in the 200yard range and I’m definitely thinking this needs to be a hat. I went through my knitted hats recently and I realized that with my upsurge in spinning this year I really need to upgrade my hat collection. The only question is… will my daughter steal this one as soon as it’s done?

Storm Cloud Over Flowers

I have another long overdue finished spin for you and then — believe it or not — I’ll be moving more into the present, perhaps even churning out a couple finished knits as I’m oh-so-close on a couple! Hooray!

Today I thought I’d share a spin that became another part of the Akerworks Lazy Kate test.

img_2966This beauty was the April Top of the Month from Three Waters Farm (April? Yes, I’m 90% sure it’s April’s. Yes, I just checked. April, for sure). This was the first month that I switched to the wool-silk blend option for the club, the thought being I could go wool-silk for a few months and then switch back to wool probably around the autumn or colder months. We’ll see about that though – these silk blends are awfully nice!

img_2984You can just see the shine! This is 75/25 BFL/Tussah Silk and like all forms of BFL from Three Waters Farm, I simply loved it. As you can see, I used my Very Fast Flyer again on this spin and it went so much better than previous attempts. Dare I say I have the hang of this tool?! In any case, since I’m short on bobbins — I really need to spring for at least 2 more for the Very Fast Flyer to be able to really start to use it — I opted to spin for just a simple 2-ply.

img_3346-1It was the very last plying I did during the test with the AkerKate and it really did turn out just as I wanted it.

img_3372-1I’ve started to learn that minor discrepancies in twist to even out in finishing. I used to fret about those so much. Now, not so much.

wholeWith yarn turning out like this, you learn to relax just a little and not stress about the little inconsistencies.

pileThe BFL silk blend really has beautiful drape. It turned out to be about 520 yards of light fingering weight yarn and I’m pretty certain it’s meant to be a shawl. It would truly would be a delight.

detailThe colors are just so subtle and muted and lush with little *pops* here and there. You can really see where it gets its name — “Storm Cloud Over Flowers” — certainly suits it. What a beautiful way to round out a busy month of spinning… and get inspired for another month of spinning with the Tour de Fleece!

Just the Glorious Stuff of Life

Sometimes you come to the end of a week and you just kind of stare and take a big, deep breath.

Phew.

At our house, the last couple weeks we’ve had a minor switch in our schedule and even though it’s not a big deal, it changes the rhythm of things and it’s an adjustment. During the week we’ve all felt a little discombobulated, kind of like when your sleep patterns are all off when Daylight Savings happens. Everyone still functions, but the timing of everything feels just a tiny bit off.

Beyond the schedule change, we haven’t had any increase in appointments that had to be kept or anything. I certainly am not as on-the-go as many parents out there, but there was a lot of… content (for lack of a better word) crammed into this past week. We started with a day trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum. They have a new traveling exhibit called Ultimate Dinosaurs that arrived earlier this month and we had to check it out as we all dig dinosaurs (see what I did there? sorry, I couldn’t resist), especially our son.

We arrived early and had a little time to burn before our movie & the exhibit, so we hopped up to the butterfly vivarium and the adjacent insect area first. As luck would have it, a young man was cleaning and feeding the insects. The kids LOVE the insects. When the kids walked up to him at the tank filled with white-eyed assassian bugs and inquired as to what he was doing, he very kindly explained his process, a little about the bugs, and then the kids got to watch him feed them.

I was as mesmerized as the kids — it was incredible! And let me just say, the bugs are appropriately named! Wowza!

The traveling exhibit was pretty awesome, too.

img_2396This was my favorite dino from the exhibit — a Rahonavis which was a bird-like theropod from Madagascar. I just love how he’s posed. He looks kind of like he’s boing-ing along like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, doesn’t he?

The kids especially loved the big kahuna of the exhibit, the Giganotosaurus…

Partly because he was so huge, but also because they had these cool screens you could aim at the fossils and ‘flesh it out.’ There were tons of great interactives, but this was by far the most impressive.

That was the flashy part of the week.

The rest of the week’s ‘content’ has involved some old parenting stand-bys like how to have patience & kindness with each other, especially in the classes I run with both kids working alongside each other. There’s also been a lot of talk regarding cleaning & responsibility and teaching the kids how to do more chores independently. This is everyone’s favorite, right? Part of a bigger educational arc that includes personal finance, budgeting, and taking care of one’s things, the kids’ room was in a desperate state so each day we’ve been tackling a new area. I opted to start this ‘life lesson’ with the kiddos by being an example. Shifting the majority of my knitting & spinning library downstairs isn’t really what I’d prefer, but in the larger sense it made sense to free up more space for their school books.

img_2404And in exchange I adopted their old, smallish bookcase for my spinning tools. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier as now I’ve got all my spinning tools within arm’s reach of my wheel. It’s excellent for me and a much better fit for the kids, so it’s definitely a win-win.

In between teaching my daughter how to do laundry (which she loves) and my son how to keep his desk clean (for which he has zero patience)…

img_2406I’ve been working on a pair of socks for my mother-in-law. A bit too long ago I promised her some socks and I’m finally getting around to making good on that promise. These are a prototype — she lives in a warmer climate, so I’m experimenting with a much shorter leg & cuff. I’m hoping to finish them up within the next few days and then send them off to her to see how she likes them. Once I know if the fit works for her, I’ll break out the other skeins I have set aside for her.

I’ve also been squeezing in some time for spinning…

img_2414I finished spinning the singles of my Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club fiber “Light in the Trees’ on Polwarth last night. I had meant to leave my wheel untouched this week as I prep for the March 1st launch of the ‘Unexpected Combos SAL’ in the TWF Ravelry group (for which I’ll be spinning my 1+1+1 spinning project for this quarter), but on a whim I just jumped on this lone braid of fiber. I saw a fellow spinner’s version of this colorway and I just couldn’t wait. Thankfully, I should be able to get it plied before the 1st and as a bonus, I seem to have gotten my lightweight spinning skills back on this spin. That bodes exceptionally well for my plans for my upcoming spin, so I’m very happy I took this little leap.

I also noticed yesterday that poor Moose had a couple raw spots on one of his paws. I’m guessing it was brought on by homeowners having to salt sidewalks more with the fluctuating temps melting and refreezing snow & water. I cleaned and wrapped his foot yesterday just to get it on the road to healing and to keep poor Moose from licking it. And I was reminded that bandages instantly turn Moose into big baby. He follows me around and sits on top of me whenever possible when he has to wear one.

img_2412Yesterday that included smooshing himself in between my spinning seat & my wheel. As you can see, his girth kind of overflows on to my treadles. That doesn’t phase him. My fiber sometimes falls on his head. That doesn’t phase him. So long as he’s right there with me, that’s all that matters. Thankfully, he hasn’t touched him foot today and it’s looking much better so I’ve been able to leave the bandage off so far.

On a completely different and somewhat random note, I’ve been in touch with a really lovely woman at Craftsy regarding some future reviewing and even though it’ll be a little bit before I get there, she let me know that they’re having a HUGE Winter Clearance Sale this weekend — Friday thru Monday to be exact — on select yarn & knitting project kits. And she extended this link that will give you an extra 20% off existing clearance yarn prices. Oh, and then there are the requisite oooh & ahhh photos.

Ooooohhh…

indexAhhhh…

index1I’ve really enjoyed the Craftsy classes I’ve taken. With my busy schedule, they have been a godsend for learning new techniques. Their kits are pretty sweet, too, so definitely check it out!

So that’s been my random, busy, full week. Today we’ll be tackling some Lego overflow and maybe start to figure out how to clean the kiddos’ closet. I’ve also got some bathroom cleaning training scheduled for my son. I’ll no doubt be cleaning and dressing Moose’s paw just to be on the safe side. And I need to cast-on a new yarn for which I’ve finally settled on a pattern as well as ply that single I just finished spinning. These weeks, they aren’t always often glamorous, but they are always full. And that, well, that’s just the glorious stuff of life, isn’t it?