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.

 

Playing Catch-Up

You may have noticed some general quiet from me over here. Nothing is wrong, that’s just me doing a very poor job of prioritizing my time. Once the polar vortex moved on, we were excited to get outside.

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We found this spot — that little triangle in the lower left is a spot where an otter was entering and exiting the water. You can tell because you can see his little otter slides straight out in front of the point.

And we found some super cool icy prints…

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This one we believe is from a skunk!

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And of course there was ample sign of the mighty beaver!

We also made a quick trek out to my parents’ house where we got to play with grandpa’s “tank.”

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And then we drove back in a snowstorm.

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This photo was probably during the best driving conditions of the trip. We started out in rain, then it turned to freezing rain, and then heavy snow. Suffice to say, the trip took about twice as long as normal and the car was coated in a sheet of ice when we got home.img_5890

This photo was taken after we dug ourselves out from getting stuck trying to get in our driveway. Ah, winter in Wisconsin!

Oh, and yesterday we had another snowstorm.

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No big whoop, just another 14 inches.

Bear is ecstatic with this development.

The snow is probably another 8″ deeper now than when I took this video and, as you can imagine, every trip outside is mostly hilarious with this little dude as he tries to navigate through snow that is basically at eye level with him.

In between shoveling and school and more shoveling and and laughing at the dogs and more shoveling, I’ve been managing to get some knitting, spinning, and setting handspun yarn done. I finished my Weekender Sweater and it is washed and dried and ready for photos. And I started a new knitting project, a Milliken vest in Quince & Co Ibis.

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I missed the announcements provided by Quince & Co and was sad to hear that this yarn is discontinued. I used it for my Fairbanks sweater last year and now the Milliken vest. I’ll be sad to see this base gone, but I’m sure Quince & Co has more goodness coming, they always do!

I finished some spinning, too. I’m foggy on the timing of everything because I’ve just kind of kept on spinning, but I have this pile of handspun to photograph and share with you.

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With the return of my maiden from Schacht, I finished the singles for my 2-ply challenge over in the Three Waters Farm Skill Builder SAL.

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I had so much fun with this and I cannot wait to talk ply twist when I get into it! For those who didn’t know it, I did post up a video on prepping fiber, especially when it relates to this Organic Polwarth/Cultivated Silk blend. I have a set-up now that is pretty easy to do tutorial videos so if you have something that you’d like to see, please just let me know and I’ll see what I can do to create the content.

While I let my singles rest, I spun this bobbin.

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It’s from Nest Fiber Studio and the colorway is called Young Woman at  Half-Open Door. I had a bag of Organic Polwarth and I was gifted a second bag in the Organic Polwarth + Silk blend, so I broke both bags in half and am mixing the two. The blend may turn out to be a disaster, but I’m optimistic it’ll work out just fine. These things usually do.

I’ve got some school tasks, more shoveling, and snow pup play on the agenda for today, as I slowly work on playing catch-up here, but expect a post that is largely a finished handspun yarn dump coming up later this week and hopefully a few snapshots of my newly finished Weekender as well. I just wanted to touch base today and catch y’all up on where I’ve been. While you’re waiting, I’m answering “Ask me my top 3” over in my Instagram (@knittingsarah) stories today — pop over and ask me for a top 3 list!

 

 

 

 

Spring in Wisconsin

Just a couple days ago I was sharing images of sunshine and open water and praising the oh-so-glorious vitamin D rich day. And this morning, we awoke to this…

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That’s a solid 8″ of fresh snow (our neighbor measured!), the first 2″ of which turned into ultra-compacted slush when it hit the warm-ish spring ground. I know because my son and I shoveled it! Fellow snow aficionados out there will know that snow that has a layer of slush next to the ground is the toughest to move because not only is it heavy, but it also likes to stick to your shovel. This means that with every scoop and dump of the shovel, you need to add a “thump” as you need to smack the shovel against the ground to get the sticky bottom layer of snow off.

This could have taken a very long span of back-breaking labor which my son & I were settling in for, but for our wonderful, wonderful neighbor who came over and helped us dig out with his snowblower, a fact for which I will forever be grateful. Coincidentally, I am pretty sure the time has come for a snow blower to reside in my own garage, even if just for the couple times a year we have this kind of snow. That heavy snow is just… heavy and I’m not the youngster I once was!

In any case, if this isn’t exciting enough for mid-April, we are bracing ourselves for the potential of 9-12″ more between now and Monday morning. I’m happy to share that I did manage to run to the grocery store yesterday and grab the couple of essentials we were low on, so beyond clearing the driveway so Mr. Knitting Sarah can get back home after work and possibly filling bird feeders, I will be cozying up at home. Welcome to spring in Wisconsin!

I’m prepared, of course. I’ve got my new Making magazine to peruse…

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And just a few rows left in my special handspun knitting project…

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Isn’t that border looking nice?!

And then I’ll be digging in to a new spinning project. Long draw is on my agenda, but I may spin up a quick worsted weight single first to get reacquainted with that slow treadle on the big whorl speed before getting back into the long draw. I’ve got a new technique I’m going to try with it and I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time, so I’m very excited to get spinning!

While I’m sipping hot coffee out of the wind and snow, I haven’t forgotten the Peregrine Falcons on the nest I shared in my last post. This kind of weather is hard on this little family…

imageAs evidenced by this snapshot of  poor bird around 11pm last night. I usually turn the live feed on in the morning while I wake up and get ready and this morning through the snow I watched this exceptional pair of birds make the quickest tag-off on the eggs I’ve ever witnessed. I heard one of them call from off screen, the bird on the eggs called back, took off, and less than 5 second later the second bird was settled down on the eggs.

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Such good parents already! Send warm thoughts their way — they are going to need them tonight!

Stay warm, stay dry, stay safe, my friends!

The Quiet Moments

The title says it all, my friends, I have been a busy little elf.

We’ve finished the bulk of our gift buying and wrapping. It’s been a holiday movie watching, birthday celebrating (happy birthday to Mr Knitting Sarah!), Christmas lights perpetually on kind of couple of weeks. We’ve been saving the baking for this week when we plan to give the kiddos a couple half days of normal studies in school complimented by afternoons full of some intense home economics lessons in holiday preparation. I’ve been tidying the house up though in fits and spurts and we’ve had a couple big snowfalls that have had me busily shoveling our sidewalks.

And there’s been this…

img_5506Shhhhhh…. don’t tell. It might be a gift.

And this…

img_5512Mr Knitting Sarah graciously allowed me to size them to his feet just in case I should find someone with his exact foot size to give these to. I’m on the foot of sock number 2, so I’m very happy and relieved that barring disaster they will be done in time for the big holiday. You know, in case I should find someone to give them to with the exact same size foot as Mr Knitting Sarah.

And to celebrate the knowledge that they’d be done on time and to keep myself from doing too much of one thing, I started a new spinning project.

img_5515I’ve been sneaking in a few minutes in the early morning before the kids wake. Watching the sun come up and spinning is one of my favorite things in life.

img_5521And this colorway, Stone House by Three Waters Farm on BFL, has been the perfect subdued colorway to be spinning. I have 8oz which I plan to spin into a 2-ply fractal and then knit during the Three Waters Farm Susan Ashcroft SAL + KAL in January & February. The plan is to knit it into Light Relief. I think it’ll be lovely. It certainly helps motivate me as this braid is absolutely made up of  some of my favorite colors.

And that, my friends, has been my week. With the upcoming holiday and my own birthday looming on the horizon along with the new year, I’ve been in my own head quite a bit. Looking back, looking forward, and thinking about changes I’d like to make and things I’d like to prioritize and make happen in the next year. I’ll share more about that next week, but for now, I just wanted to pop in, share some of my holiday progress and let you know I’m hoping that you are all having a wonderful season, that you’re enjoying time with friends and family, and that you’re finding bits of quiet time to watch the sun rise and spin or knit away to some holiday tunes. Even if just for a few moments, those moments to reflect are wonderful for the soul.

Just ask Moose…

img_5518If anyone were to be labeled an expert, it could certainly be him. He definitely understands the importance of quiet moments.

2 Hats, 2 Cowls, 1 Pair of Socks, and Some Triple-Thick Mittens

We’re having a snowy day today. I awoke early to send off my hubby who had to work and then started the thing where I find random things to do to mark time until it’s a slightly more respectable hour when the kiddos, pup, and I can go outside without waking up the whole neighborhood. We were out by about 8am, the kids playing and I shoveling (sometimes I make them help, but today I let them play) and found a lovely 5 or so inches on the ground. The snow was heavier than I expected, but really no bother. Ever since I splurged on a slightly nicer shovel a couple years ago, I don’t really mind the chore unless the snow is really, really slushy and, you know, then it weighs 7000lbs and only He-Man can lift it. That can be rough. Thankfully, today’s wasn’t bad at all.

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but February is the time of year when people around here can really start to tire of winter. The cold, short days begin to wear our hearty souls down. I’m no different. It affects me, too. I try very hard, though, to not complain about the weather. If I had to drive like my husband does, I might think differently, but for the most part I am happy to take whatever comes my way. I know I’ll miss the quiet of winter nights, the noble austerity of the bare trees, and the way the North wind howls on days like today when spring finds its way here.

IMG_7994So in a very carpe diem mood, after lunch and some cocoa and a bit of housekeeping the kids and I suited up for some sledding. We all chose our handknits of choice…

IMG_7990My daughter was decked out in her finest — her Spud & Chloe Chill Chaser sweater, her Blue Sky Alpacas Fox Hat & matching cowl, and some mittens I knit a while back in Spud & Chloe Outer paired with an inner mitten knit with Malabrigo Worsted. Completely mismatched and completely toasty warm! I threw on 2 hats, 2 cowls, a pair of sport-weight socks, and some lined colorwork mittens. My son chose his handknit socks and a double-thick worsted hat — the rest of his outerwear is more ‘technical’ — he gets that from his dad.

Unfortunately, the temps had already started to drop a bit and the wind had really picked up by the time we started for the sledding hill. As we made our way, I could tell the winds were easily gusting up in the 30mph range putting the wind chill easily below zero, probably closer to double digits below zero. When you live where I do and you pay even a bit of attention, you become a connoisseur of such things. I knew we wouldn’t last long.

IMG_7993And sure enough, as the wind blew hard across the land and the snow continued to fall the kids took a handful of trips down the sledding hill, but they spent most of their time chasing down their sleds which kept blowing away. My daughter declared that her nose had fallen off (she meant her face mask of fallen off her nose, but we had a good laugh at how she put it) and her pink cheeks and my son’s frost-crusted eyelashes signaled that it was already time to go. We got home and I shoveled again since I was already bundled up.

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It’s hard to tell how heavily it’s snowing as so much of the snow I see out the window is just blowing on that howling North wind. And now, this snowy afternoon which required 2 hats, 2 cowls, a pair of sport-weight socks, and some triple-thick mittens finds us happily tucked snug in our little house. The kids are writing and drawing in the next room. And me? I think I’ll wrap up some chores, brew up a hot cup of tea, and enjoy a bit of knitting. After all, I can’t forget that I’ll miss these wintry evenings when spring finds its way here.