Hazy Summer Ramblings

Well, my friends, we did it. We finished up with our school year. While it’s true that at our house we do keep working year-round, finishing our math curriculum generally marks the end to our more regimented schedule and a start to a more relaxed few weeks. I’ll admit that as soon as that last test was finished, there was a collective relief. It’s been a long, busy first half of the year here and we are all just ready for a break, I think.

To celebrate the end of the school year, we decided to plant some trees together as a family. We’ve been contemplating what to do with our yard for the past year and we finally landed on re-foresting for more bird habitat and less grass. I thought this would mean adding maybe 5 trees in various spots becuase our yard is already encircled with big beautiful trees, but in true Mr. Knitting Sarah fashion, we planted not 5, but 25. I know, right?! His rationale being that some would not make it and if too many survived then we could always remove them as neccessary. The majority of these trees are very small spruce saplings, so it’ll be years before crowding is an issue. Still we painstakingly planted and mulched around them and I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time standing in the yard, staring at all our new trees imploring them to explain exactly how much water they need. You see, almost as soon as they were in the ground, the weather shifted into this…

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This isn’t totally unheard of for around here now and then in the summer, but it’s also not exactly normal. Anyways, the waters issue has been an interesting puzzle considering we have very dense clay that holds water very effectively and we mulched, too which will hold the water in, but the trees are new and it’s been hot. So. Many. Variables. In short, there’s a high likelihood I’m quickly gaining a reputation as “that lady who stands in her backyard staring” in my neighborhood. So be it if it means I can keep these trees alive!

In any case, I think you get the picture. When you roll all this together the result has been me, kind of glassy-eyed and tired and largely checked-out of all the online haunts I usually frequent, including here. So today I thought I’d ramble through some WIPs and just get reacquainted while I try to organize my FOs enough to get proper photos because of course that hasn’t happened yet! One step at a time here, right?!

First, I started and finished this project…

 

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It’s a Simple Yet Effective Cowl from Tin Can Knits knit in my own singles handspun. And I just realized I never shared this yarn or took proper photos of it before knitting! Here’s the one image I have…

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It was a low twist single I spun with Three Waters Farm Merino/Superwash Merino/Silk in the Bright & Distant colorway. I’m not going to lie, this was super fun to spin and knit. I am totally smitten with this yarn and the simplicity of the project — I did a slightly narrower-than-called-for longer version of this cowl, just because I ran out of yarn at somewhere between 6-7″ where the pattern called for 9.5″. Doubled up around my neck it’s going to be just perfect, I think. It’s blocked and drying as we speak so we’ll know soon enough!

I also started spinning the rolags I got at Shepherd’s Harvest from Bumblebee Acres Farm. You’ll remember these are the rolags…

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And these are the bobbins. The finished pink/grey brown pack…

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And I’m about halfway through the orange/grey/brown pack (I’ll get their proper names here the next time they appear — I just don’t have them nearby at the moment!).

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Since they’re rolags, I thought I’d try long draw with them. They’re made of multiple types of blended fibers and I’m relatively new to long draw, so this won’t be a consistent spin in both weight and how I’m drafting, but it will definitely be fun. And sometimes fun has to take center stage over consistent, especially when you’re learning! As a side note, Bumblebee Acres has their Themed Mini Skein Advent Calendars up for sale right now, if you’re like me and kind of regretted not getting one last year now’s your chance!

Somewhere during the last week we set up our new-to-us telescope and I played with taking pictures through it.

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This is taken hand-holding my phone to the eyepiece, so it’s not perfect crisp clarity, but it was a fun experiment!

Moose helped me with my upstairs spinning project…

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And thanks to his support I managed to finish up the singles of this Three Waters Farm Merry Poppies spin…

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Don’t you just love the on-board storage of my beautiful Jensen wheel?! Moose approves of the wheel and the spinning.

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And possibly the snack I was eating when I snapped this photo!

 

I also finished another batch of singles, but this time it’s a spinning project I started last year so VERY EXCITING!

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These singles were entirely done on spindles — I have acquired a flock of Bosworth, Golding, and Jenkins spindlesthat are all around .8oz that are just my jam. Most of these singles are already wound onto storage bobbins and I’ll likely ply with the wheel directly from them, but I’m just so excited to have finished. This spin — Three Waters Farm Giant Celosia — was definitely achieved via bits and spurts of spinning over the past 11 months.

And last, but not least, I’ve been working on the socks I started for Mr. Knitting Sarah back at the end of March.

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This is sock #2, so slowly but surely I’m getting there.  I’m within about an inch of turning the heel and once I’m around that bend they’re as good as done.

I’ve been flirting with a number of bigger projects to work on, but so far nothing has stuck. Sometimes, especially in the glassy-eyed, hazy ramblings of early summer it just takes a little extra time to find the hook that inspires you to take on a new big project. Who knows? Maybe inspiration will strike me while I’m standing in the backyard, staring at the trees!

 

WIPs on a Wednesday

I just finished racing to mow the lawn and as I quickly filled up the bird feeders, I glanced West and I could see a bank of clouds, my friends. And do you know what those clouds have in store for me and my little family?

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That’s right, SNOW. We’ve had flurries and little mini-squalls that have melted right away for the last few days, but today we should see an inch on the ground. Hence all the running around to get the yard tidied up. With things zipped up outside, I can in good conscience steal a moment to share my current WIPs and goings-on here.

Having finished a quick test knit over weekend after getting out of the whole birthday rush, I opted to go ahead and clean up my notions. I’m usually pretty deliberate in always promptly getting my notions back to their homes when I finish using them. I’m not someone who will just buy another needle or pair of scissors or whatever if I can’t find the one for which I’m looking. (For the record, this is not a diss if you are one of those people — I’m a true believer in ‘to each his/her own’ in this regard and that there are pros and cons either way.) No, I’m the kind of person who will tear apart the house to find the item I’m missing and it will eat away at me if I can’t find it. So yeah… I cleaned up my notions and needles and things that I was too rushed to take care of over the last couple of weeks.

In the process, I found a WIP. To be more specific, I found a WIP that is embarrassing that it is still a WIP. You see, all I need to do is attach the pom.

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Literally. It’s washed and blocked and just needs the pom secured and photos taken. So that is on my desk so I can’t forget to make it happen.

I’ve also been plugging away at my lovely Brillig

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It won’t lay flat to show you the upper edge, but I think right now the colors are the most exciting part. I think it is just so pretty and such a fun potato chip knit once you get rolling. I’m watching a number of friends shawl their FOs of this pattern in the NimbleNim SAL+KAL in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry Group and it’s kind of making me anxious, but I have to remind myself that mine is a lighter weight and higher yardage version so it’s bound to take longer. Regardless, it’s a super fun knit.

I also treated myself to a new spinning project.

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I’m happy to report that as promised I remembered to not only take photos of the prepped fiber, but I weighed and noted how I split up the braid so when it comes time to show you the skein, I’ll actually be able to tell you how I made it. Yay! This is Granite on the Three Waters Farm 60/40 Polwarth+Silk base and is is glorious — color and base alike. If all goes according to plan, it’ll wind up the warp of a new weaving project. I’m long overdue for one of those!

With this spin, I also finally discovered a good way for me to use a little spinning wheel basket I got from a booth at the WI Sheep & Wool Festival.

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It’s billed as being a basket to hang from your wheel and be used to collect vegetable matter. That is why I bought it; to discard slubs and what-not as I went and maybe contain my mess. Well, it turns out that because of my positional limitations, that function did not work at all for me as intended and I tried sitting it next to me instead, but with the handle it was more in the way than anything else.

Then I realized that it would actually be marvelous to tuck my in-progress fiber into. So when I finish up a spinning session, rather than try to stuff my attach fiber somewhere on the wheel where it inevitably gets knocked off, I can tuck the fiber into my little basket.

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Nice and tidy! Now, clearly if I was spinning directly from a braid of a bigger chunk of fiber, I would have to break off a smaller piece because the basket is small, but I usually do that anyway. I really appreciate that this helps to keep my fiber secure and because I have a length of fiber ready to go, it’s really easy to grab and start spinning again any time. And, of course, I’m delighted to put this purchase to good use.

Aside from the sock WIP I still need to positively track down (I think I know where it is, but I haven’t actually gone and checked yet) and a spindle spin that I think it hanging out with said sock WIP, I have one other project currently in the works.

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Or nearly in the works, I should say. This is a skein of Bijou Basin Ranch‘s new base, Himalayan Summit and they were kind enough to send me this skein in the Crab Nebula colorway to try out and review. I’ve got a the general plan for this yarn set in my head, but I’m still deciding between a couple wonderfully classic patterns. I’m sure I’ll be casting on shortly though. Probably as soon as I can that pom attached to my other hat.

It’s the first of November, as well, so I’m starting to think about some holiday knitting and spinning plans, too. I have one lofty, dreamy plan in my head, but I’m not entirely sure it’s feasible or wise. We all know that’s never stopped me though, right?!

What are you working on this Wednesday? And are you starting to think about holiday knitting? Feel free to chime in and share in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group!

 

 

Works in Progress

This morning I managed to successfully talk myself out of attempting to sew two new dresses before next weekend. It was no small feat as it’s always in the last month or so of winter that I start dreaming pretty hard of spring and summer and I start shopping for a piece or two to add to my warm weather wardrobe. This year my goal is that instead of buying that new dress or two, that I sew them. You know, I want to actually do the thing I keep telling myself year after year that I’m going to do, but never get to. This year I have the patterns and I’ve already started printing and cutting out said patterns. I’ve got a stash of fabric I actually really, really like and most of the thread I’ll need. The sewing area in the basement was tidied during our staycation last week. All I have to do is figure out a chair and set up the ironing board. I’ve never been so ready.

All that said, after I’d printed out two new patterns this morning, I came to the cold, hard realization that I’ve got a number of works in progress and before I take on more projects and make a mess in a new area of the house, I really need to trim that WIP list down. Additionally, the original idea to make the deadline that I finish two dresses by next Saturday was a little outlandish. I’m not a very speedy sewist and the idea of setting a goal that pushes me time-wise seems wholly unwise. I’ve always made sewing projects something I need to rush through and the whole point of the sewing area is to alleviate that urgency in the process so it might be more enjoyable. Apply brakes… now.

So what am I working on? Well, remember this photo…

img_5655Yes, well, I have not yet started plying these. That needs to happen.

And before I can ply, I need to wrap up my last singles spin….

img_5672I’m about one-third of the way through the second 2oz of this project. It shouldn’t take too long on the Very Fast Flyer, but still it needs to happen so that I can start the plying extravaganza.

I’m also working on my second project for the Three Waters Farm Susan Ashcroft SAL+KAL…

img_5675This is a Yarn Optimizer knitted in my own Three Waters Farm handspun yarn. The photo is deceptive as it’ll eventually be blocked out into a rectangular cowl — you’ll see, it’s going to be very cool.

As we’ve been working on getting back on track with our menu planning and cooking from the pantry instead of the processed heat & eat meals we’d been defaulting to with the busy holidays, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen and thus my kitchen spinning has come back into play.

img_5677My friend gave me this awesome little spindle basket that I’ve learned to keep stocked with a spindle project. She got it for me with the idea that I could use it on the trail or when I take the kiddos outside in nice weather to run around. I’m sure I will use it for that also, but it’s perfect for this purpose, too. Kitchen spindling might sound a little weird, but I’ve really come love it since taking up spindling more seriously last year. My hip makes transitioning from sitting to standing painful sometimes, so I often just choose to remain standing if I might have to be up & down a lot. Spindle spinning is the perfect solution for me as I wait for a tray of cookies to bake or the potatoes to boil. It’s quiet & meditative & passes the time and it’s easy to set down and pick up as timers go off and other things need attention. I don’t know if kitchen spindling is a thing out there that normal people do, but if you’re a spindle spinner I highly encourage you to keep a kit in your kitchen. I think you’ll love it!

But I digress.

And last, but not least, I have my re-imagined first pair of sock for the Sock with Sarah KAL going…

img_5673I picked this yarn up over the Thanksgiving holiday at Spin of Door County thinking I’d make some socks for my daughter. Instead, I’m using the yarn pour moi (shhh! don’t tell!). I can sense they will be very addictive. I’ve so been in that potato chip knitting kind of mood lately and these fit that perfectly.

When I write it all out, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. So maybe I can treat myself to one sewn dress? I suppose we should see how the day (and the coming week) shapes up. The good news is I’m poised to make a real go and that summer wardrobe and, as always, there’s not a shortage of works in progress around here.

Wild and Crazy

Those who know me know I’m a pretty monogamous knitter and spinner. Usually at most I have two projects in progress at a time. Even though I’ve finished up a number of big projects this past week (more on those projects later this week…), currently things are a little wild and crazy around here. This weekend, I’ll be working on…

IMG_1017My Miya Shawl in Bijou Basin Ranch’s Xanadu for the Miya Shawl KALThe yarn is amazing, by the way.

IMG_1022And then there’s my Miss Grace Shawl to which I add a few rows every day.

IMG_1023And then there’s this Simple Skyp Sock in Spun Right Round Sport Sock in Holy Crow that I pick up from time to time.

IMG_1019And then there’s this Little Miss Charming sweater I just cast-on for my daughter. I had some disagreements early on with the pattern, but I think we’ve settled into a good rhythm now. I think it’s going to be pretty adorable and I have total confidence that I’ll finish this in time for my daughter’s birthday in about a week and a half. Time will tell, but I’m awfully optimistic.

Oh, and then there’s my spinning.

threewaterscafediemI finished these singles from Three Waters Farm. This 4oz of ‘Café Diem’ on 100% BFL will eventually be a simple 2-ply. It spun like butter though — truly gorgeous in my hands — and I can’t wait to ply it.

bumbleacresBut I also had a long-overdue ‘thank you’ gift that had to be started, so I started spinning my two batts from Bumblebee Acres Farm from the WI Sheep & Wool Festival. A smooth polwarth/silk blend, these are unlike any batts I’ve spun before (which isn’t saying much since I haven’t done a ton with batts, but you know…). I have 8oz of this ‘Avalon’ and split it into 3 even portions to do a traditional 3-ply. I’m shooting for a slightly heavier yarn here than I’ve been spinning lately. I’m hoping for Aran, but I’m a little afraid my radar might be a little off and it’ll be heavier. In any case, it’s a navy/purple/grey mix with a few other pops of colors and I’m really loving spinning it. I will definitely need to get more from this shop next year (or maybe online…).

If I explained what other things I had on my agenda for the week, you would probably laugh until you cried. I know I am! I promise you, though, with so much awesome at my fingertips, I’m having a pretty darn rad, wild and crazy weekend.

WIP Tuesday? Sure, Why Not?

I just put the finishing touches on my ‘must-see list’ post for the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival (it’ll go live here on Thursday) and I have a little extra time while the kiddos finish lunch so I thought I’d take you on a little tour of the projects that I currently have in progress.

First, I finished spinning the singles of my Dyeabolical Fate, PhD.

dyeabolicalThese are resting while I spin another project or two of singles so I can ply all in one go.

This is what I picked up to spin next.

grey woolA couple weeks ago my family and I spent our Saturday down to Madison & took a go-’round of the famed Farmers’ Market. At Mr. Knitting Sarah’s insistence, I got some fiber from the Wisconsin Highlands Farms stand. I totally spaced on asking what kind of wool this is (whoops!) despite the fact that I chatted with Ann, the owner, for quite a while. The wool is hard to describe for me – soft like merino, but still kind of rustic like a Romney. Whatever it is, it’s spinning up wonderfully.

grey wool spunI originally I thought I’d spin up a bulkier weight yarn for a hat, but I did manage to buy 7oz so in the 11th hour I decided instead to spin light singles intended for a light-ish weight 2-ply for a shawl should the yardage be there. I have a pattern in mind, but I don’t want to get my hopes up (or yours either) should the yarn not turn out light enough. I will say I’ve been having epic delusions of me wearing this as a gorgeous, perfect handspun shawl his winter. It’s going to be beautiful, in case you’re not having the same visions I am.

Currently I have two projects on my needles. First, Guston by Ann Budd knit in Valley Yarns Northhampton.

gustonI’m 5 or 6inches into the body of this sweater and it’s going well. I’m kind of in that uninspiring stockinette desert right now, so I threw my fantastic project bag from The Fawn and The Fox into the photo to make it more interesting. Lara, the lady behind this great little shop, sews up project bags, does prints, paints, and makes all sorts of cool stuff. She also hosts the podcast, The Fawn Knits, where she showcases the things she makes and talks in general about her crafting. I’ve come to really love her project bags because she has a great eye for choosing fun and funky fabrics and she sews them just a little bit bigger than what I’m used to using. This bag, for example, is big enough to fit everything I need for this sweater. Seriously, 5skeins of worsted weight yarn plus the pattern on a clipboard fit in this baby with room to spare. When you’re on-the-go as much as I am, this nice big bag is awesome for making even large projects easily portable. And fun. I mean, really, just look at those goofy birds!

 And finally, I finally got rolling with my next pair of socks.IMG_0636I’m making this Narwhal Needlework skein of Squishy Sock in the Chocolate & Raspberries colorway in a pair of Atlantic Current socks. I’ve seen a couple slipped stitch sock patterns recently and I just thought it would fit nicely with this skein. I’m very pleased with how these are looking as well as how easy the pattern is.

 I have one other WIP, apair of socks that I cast-on in March (eep!) for which I need to make some critical decisions. This is an old photo, but you get the idea of what it’s like.

It’s a Cookie A pattern so it’s very beautiful, but kind of intense. I made the grand mistake when I was cleaning in thinking I wasn’t yet to the heel and that I’d just rip and restart something a little less involved to get this gorgeous yarn out of my project bag and onto my feet. I went ahead and recycled the pattern copy I had made from my book. A week or so later, I opened the project bag up to realize I was awfully close to the toe of sock number one.

Now, do I try to figure out where I was in the pattern and just get these done? Or do I wind it back into a center-pull ball and find something a little less intense? Decisions, decisions. I’m just going to knit on the other two projects while I think about it (hopefully not for another 6months).

I’ve very stoically succeeded in not casting anything else on despite a primal urge to cast-on all the projects. The desire will only get worse as the temps plummet over the next few days. I see the potential for a bulky sweater in my near future. And maybe a super bulky one, too.

And…

and….

and…

Oh, a knitter’s work is never done!