That’s OK. That is life.

I had high hopes for keeping up during the Tour de Fleece this year, but as it so often goes, life happens and things don’t always work out according to plan. And that’s OK. That is life. Time spent away from this space and goals unmet in the TDF were time traded for adventures with my family and that is always a trade I am happy to make.

I am glad to have taken this hike…

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Where the woods broke open to reveal a pond with a perfectly reflected sky…

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After which my foursome squeezed onto a bench and ate peanut butter crackers in the sunshine. Mr. Knitting Sarah tried to extol the virtue of trying new things by creating and eating a cheese & peanut butter cracker. It was not a good example, but I applaud his effort and his optimism.

I would not have rather been spinning than take this hike…

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Even though I lost a couple pints of blood to mosquitoes despite being covered in deet. I saw these beauties…

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And then found myself here…

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How could I complain?

We spent a week with family celebrating my dad’s 75th birthday with salmon fishing on the Big Water and loads of fireworks. And I did a bit of spindle spinning…

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And we ended our week in another heavenly spot, just a few miles from home…

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In the tall grasses teeming with monarch butterflies…

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And wildflowers…

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And puddles with more perfect reflections of the billowy clouds delivering rain everywhere by where we stood. We even got to share a few minutes with a Black-billed Cuckoo, a rarity for our area and a true beauty with its mysterious chortling song and bewitching red eye-ring.

Somewhere along the way, I spun…

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At a park while my girl swam…

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In the evening while we watched movies…

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And in my little spinning corner in our room while the coffee held out and Moose grabbed some extra z’s in the mornings.

And I made a bit of yarn this Tour de Fleece, even if I haven’t been the world’s best record keeper of it…

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This pile, plus another 3 skeins that were just washed and set this afternoon. Don’t fret, I’ll introduce you to each skein just as soon as they are all dry and I can take proper glamour shots of them, to let them sing their own individual multi-colored glories.

There are also some singles that I’m plying now that I’d hoped to finish yesterday. But the trail had called and I had listened, twice. And that’s OK. That is life.

And I wouldn’t rather have that skein of yarn a day earlier. I’d have missed this moment captured by Mr. Knitting Sarah…

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While we walked along a breezy trail watching Pied-billed Grebes and talking about how best to prepare our kids for their futures. Sure, the Tour de Fleece ended yesterday and I missed plying that last skein, but I can finish it today. It may not be the TDF any longer, but that’s OK. That is life. And the trade-offs I made, I will always be happy to make.

Unplugged

Well, friends, I’m back from a week long vacation. One week from being generally out of cell service. And I have to be honest, it was exactly what I needed.

We knew we wanted to do a camping trip because Mr Knitting Sarah loves camping, we’ve got all sorts of new places to explore now that we’re farther north, and because it’s significantly less expensive than hotel-ing it for a week. Because of the move, though, we weren’t able to schedule anything out very far in advance and therefore when we finally had the dates set, we weren’t able to schedule the whole week in one spot. Mr Knitting Sarah — brilliant vacation planner that he is — organized us into a three campground itinerary to not only give us lots to see and do, but also a great taste of some of the parks that are now a lot closer for us.

Our first stop was Copper Falls State Park. It also happened to be the day of the Solar Eclipse, so we got an early start and luckily were able to get our tent set up before venturing out to find a view of the eclipse.

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Mr Knitting Sarah knows a lot about optics and so in preparation for the eclipse he made a filter for our spotting scope. It was impressive. He literally made it out of a plastic jelly jar and some filter sheets he bought. It worked great… until it clouded over on us about 35 minutes into the eclipse. No bother though as we went for a hike…

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An eerily dark hike, but pretty nonetheless, as Copper Falls always is. On the way back, we raced incoming rainstorms…

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Even Moose was egging me on! It’s hard not to hussle when you see that face up ahead!

We took a bit of a drive while it rained and then ended up at Loon Lake in the park where we — you guessed it — watched a Loon.

We only had the one night at Copper Falls and we awoke early to hit the road — we were headed North! And the day before my boy had agreed to take boat cruise around the Apostle Islands with me. As we got in line, the captain came around and told the 20 or so of us there that they were expecting the lake to have 3-5ft waves and that they’d have to amend the tour because it was unsafe to go all the way to the outer island. Anyone wanting a refund they’d honor it. After our story salmon fishing earlier this summer, we were undeterred though. After 3 more reminders that we could claim a refund (no judgement!), we got underway.

In a word, it was indeed lumpy. I tried to take photos to capture it, but really, there’s no way you can. Despite being soaked through my raincoat by spray and having slightly numb fingers (because there was no way I was going down below when I could enjoy the Lake Superior air!), there were brief moments of this…

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And this…

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And this guy, who, after being 80% convinced we might die the first 30 minutes, really started to enjoy himself.

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Until he took a hefty spray/splash directly to the kisser in the final leg home. It was an epic spray/splash that was followed by a collective “Oooooooh!” from our fellow tourists after which everyone looked with nervous smiles, that plainly said, “Oh, that looked really bad!” It was. It was wet. And cold as the water temp was in the high 40s or low 50s. He’s a trooper though and I was glad to have the time with him.

From there, we caught the ferry out to Madeline Island. And thus enjoyed two and half days of this…

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It was perfection. On our final beach day, the kids and I took the long walk from one side of the Big Bay to the other. It wasn’t my hip’s favorite thing, but it was important for my heart. And sometimes the heart has to win.

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Yeah, it does.

Did I mention that all along the way there was knitting?

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There was knitting. All along the way. ❤ And most of the knitting was on these handspun socks.

From here, we spent a day in Duluth. It was sort of on the way to our next destination, Pattison State Park, and we needed to pick up a few groceries. There also happens to be a yarn shop in Duluth that I like to stop at, but that just was a happy coincidence (or a well-planned detour… one or the other…).

I dropped the mister and the kids at the very cool Great Lakes Aquarium and Moose and I headed to Yarn Harbor. It’s definitely one of my favorite destination yarn shops, partly because I love Duluth, but also because it has such a great selection. I always spring for one of the shop’s exclusive colorways dyed by Three Irish Girls Yarns. I think I have 3 other colorways from this collection that I’ve picked up on previous trips. I’ve knit zero so far, but I have zero doubt that I’ll get there. They are beautiful. This time I picked the ‘Yarn Harbor’ colorway.

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Oh, and an Arne & Carlos Regia Pairfect that I thought would be cute for my daughter. As a side note, I’ve always read “Pairfect” as “Parfait” until writing this. “Pairfect” is way cuter and makes much more sense.

One of the benefits of a camping trip that involves morning temps in the 50s is that the dog can wait in the car for short bursts. Moose is an excellent guard/nap dog in the car.

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And he did such an excellent job watching over the car while I was in the yarn shop that he and I went for a nice walk on the Duluth Lakewalk.

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What a beautiful morning in a beautiful place! We picked up our other 3 people and had a wonderful lunch at the dog-friendly Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill before heading out to the next campground.

Pattison State Park features the states highest waterfalls…

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Which also happen to include the fourth highest East of the Rockies. We viewed the taller of the two, Big Manitou Falls, on day one and resolved to check out Twin Little Manitou Falls the following morning.

With rain coming on the horizon, we broke camp a couple days early and decided to head home, but not until we took the quick jaunt down to the little falls…

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It was still dark and cloudy and foggy when we visited, but Mr KS used his magic touch to get this photo. Such a perfect capture!

We headed home with loads of laundry, plenty of good memories, and one tired puppy.

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So tired, in fact, that he couldn’t keep his tongue in his mouth while he slept.

The laundry is almost all washed, the dog is almost recovered, and we’re back in the grind of every day. The memories remain, though, and they are awfully grand.. Oh, and for those who are interested in those handspun socks, they’re done. I’ll be back with more on those soon — they are pretty grand, too.

 

 

Finding North

This weekend was the Grand Depart for the Tour de Fleece and I admittedly got off to a bit of a slow start, but for the very best of reasons. Sometimes friends visit (YAY!) and family adventures take place (YAY!) and the spinning just has to wait or at least proceed at a more modest pace. As much as I love spinning, while I will definitely work on making it fit into my life more easily I won’t ever let it entirely dictate what I’m going to do day-in and day-out. Life will always go on!

In any case, I woke up when the mister was getting ready for work on Saturday and took a little time with my coffee and spindle before the house was up and about…

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We gave our good friend the option to gallivant on Saturday or to stick close to home. We’d shown her our new home & town on Friday and on Saturday she opted to stay home and knit & spin — did I mention she knits and spins, too?! I have the feeling the relaxing involved was as much on her mind as was wanting to let me spin for the Tour. She is, after all, the most thoughtful person I know. I worked on plying my hawser while she worked on spinning her first batt. It was a pretty much as relaxing as it gets.

Sunday was the mister’s day off and I could tell he was feeling a bit restless and needing to go some place special. I packed up my spindle-to-go set and we piled into the adventure mobile. And we wound up here…

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The trails of Copper Falls State Park. It is quite a drive from our house, but extraordinary and worth the trek.

There are the obvious picturesque scenes…

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And the more subtle…

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All around I noticed places where life shouldn’t be able to exist, but it finds a way.

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The vertical fractures in the rock and intense curvature of the roots of this tree were breathtaking. Indeed, this is a place where rigid strength clashes with an very organic desire to find a way to thrive.

As we marveled at the cedar trees around us, thinking about the little red cedar spindle in my pack, my husband pointed to this tree.

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“Look,” he said. “Even the trees spin here.” ❤

As we trekked back from this stand of spinning trees in awe of the natural world, I lingered just long enough to hear a little girl ask her mom, “Mom, which was is North?”

And her mom responded, “I don’t know, honey. I don’t have a compass on my phone.”

I think it struck me because since our move it’s taken me a long time to get my bearings regarding the orientation of the roads around town. There have been many a time I find myself leaning back in my seat to see the little “W” or “E” on the dash when my husband is driving to try to get a better feel for where I am and where I’m going. I definitely have a long way to go.

On the trail, though, I always feel like given a little time, especially on a sunny day, I can figure out the cardinal directions and the general time based on the sun. In college when I would be cross country skiing new trails that’s always how I would navigate.  For me, my place on Earth is something I consider a lot — for location, for weather, even for the different angle of light in the evening. Because I’m such a visual person and science nerd, I am just always considering how my place on Earth affects what the world looks like and how it changes my perspective. Knowing my place in the physical world helps to bind me to the person that I am, as well, and the way I spend my time. Wife, mom, daughter, friend, spinner, knitter, hiker — all these things are impacted by — if you really think about it — my location, my relationship to where North is.  And yet I have never considered my phone as a compass that helps me find North.

After a picnic lunch, we fittingly turned the car North again, this time toward Potato River Falls.

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It was a new-to-us place and it turned out to be the ultimate in happy places for my girl…

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And Moose, who only tried to check in one innocent bystander wading out into the falls. He’s so happy in the water and always so alert to people who might be rescuing.

I had a little company while I spun…

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The best kind of company, actually.

We made our way home, refreshed and exhausted. And after getting the house in order and plants watered, I settled down to prep some fiber and spin.

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I finished plying my hawser and got a respectable amount onto my spindle.

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And I started to dig in to what will be a 2-ply worsted-ish yarn with Superfine Merino from Three Waters Farm. This is one of my absolute favorite colorways — Cafe Diem. After spinning a few fine yarns it’s taking a bit to get back in the worsted frame of mind, but it’s a welcome change.

I’m very hopeful that someone in that little girl’s hiking party was able to help her find North and that she was able to better understand her relationship with her place on Earth. I’m still working on my bearings, to be sure, here in our new home and on all the new trails. I’m still learning the light and how my place in this world has changed, ever so slightly over the past months. Odds are I still won’t ever remember that there’s a compass on my phone, but you can bet that I’m still thinking about finding North.