Archive for category Daily Life

All of a Sudden

Here we are.  It’s fall again after a whirlwind of a summer.  Though it was an amazing summer, it was full of M (for the first time) having summer activities that our lives revolved around and me straddling two positions at work, just trying to stay afloat.  But now, school is in full swing and we’re starting to get back to a normal rhythm in our lives.

It’s no secret that fall is probably my favorite season.  Between finally breaking out the hand knits to apple picking and Halloween festivities – there’s really nothing that beats it!  Except maybe winter, with my love of layering and snow…

Regardless, M and I have already started our apple adventures and by picking four pecks of delicious, early-season apples.  We even made our first batch of apple sauce a few weeks ago.  Now we’re in prep-mode for M’s birthday and Halloween. But first:  New York Sheep and Wool Festival (aka – the beloved Rhinebeck).

I am glad to say that, though I didn’t manage to knit a new sweater for Rhinebeck this year, I have completed an epically large shawl and a poncho and I’m almost all packed and ready to go!  This is the first year that I’ll be heading up to Rhinebeck without M, staying in a house with friends and attending the festival both Saturday and Sunday.  So it was crucial (really just to me) that I had two major new pieces to wear.

First, I spent most of the summer, including hot Saturday mornings at swim meets, knitting up the Sixpence Shawl by Kristen Rengren.  I couldn’t be happier with this epically large piece!  There are different sizes in the pattern, and I definitely could have stopped sooner, but I basically wanted a blanket to curl up in.  I knit it up in my handspun from Gourmet Stash Tribbles (combining colorways Shrewd Slytherin and Screenager) with a “boarder” (because that’s probably the largest boarder I’ve ever knit…) out of Knit Picks Capretta in the Hunter colorway.  That’s right – this shawl is a Merino, Nylon, Cashmere and more blanket of heavenly cloud warmth.  I even enjoyed how light-weight, yet warm it was to the extent that I wore it multiple times at work – before weaving in the ends and blocking it.  It was the perfect layering piece over summer outfits in my freezing office – how could I resist?!

While blocking, it took up nearly my entire craft-room floor

While blocking, it took up nearly my entire craft-room floor

Once the shawl was done, and I finished the knitting aspect of my mother’s long-overdue sweater, I knew I needed to crank out another substantial piece before Rhinebeck.  Otherwise, I mean really – how could I show my face at the festival for day two? 😉

The problem was, what could I possible knit quickly enough that would make me feel super comfortable and confident?  Of course – the Rodeo Drive Poncho by Stacy Perry!  Even better – I had the perfect yarn already in stash from Aylin’s Woolgatherer’s massive store-closing sale this past summer: Filatura Di Crosa Zara in the beautiful 1962 colorway.  I love creative yarn companies and their love of yarn names 😉

I promise, it's a medium teal color....

I promise, it’s a medium teal color….

Now that all the knitting is done, both pieces have been blocked and most of my packing is done – I’m on to the next crazy struggle – what projects do I bring to work on while at Rhinebeck!? Do I bring my spinning wheel?!  Is that completely insane?! Then of course there’s making the “What to Purchase and Not Purchase” at the festival.  Yes – this year, I am telling myself there are actually things I have too much of (ex: Jacob fleeces, and really all fiber) and giving myself a real shopping list of the yarns I need to knit projects on my To Knit List for 2017.  More information on that list to come! 🙂

Tell me – what are your favorites about/for fall? Knitting/crafting musts?  Items you knew you needed to have done by fall so you could enjoy them? Favorite beverages? Foods?  Whatever it is – let me know – I should probably add it to my fall must-have list as well!

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Falling in Progress

Apples are currently in the crock pot, the smell of cinnamon is wafting through the air.  I have a new project on the needles and there is a crispness to the air.  It is the perfect first day of Fall.  Of course, the change in seasons brings some unpleasant things as well… such as seasonal allergies and the cold which our house has already been overtaken with.  But I refuse to let that bring me down.  This is my favorite time of year and I won’t let anything get in my way.  We have apple picking and American Football.  Then there’s pumpkin patches and fall vegetables.  To top it all off: we’re attending the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival this weekend to kick off the start of sheep & wool festival season.  There is just too much to look forward to!

With that said, Fall also brings the want… no, the NEED to cast on nearly everything in sight.  All I long to do is sit in a big pile of all of my yarn and decide what to do with it all.  And then do it.  I cast on a cowl last night out of some handspun that would have been a crime to have stored away another Fall and Winter.  I plan to cast on another cardigan in the next few days for my mom (that’s right, I said ANOTHER).  I’ve already planned enough knitting and spinning to last me all the way through to next Spring and I just can’t stop.  The only trouble is, I would need to seriously tap into my mythical free time to actually get it all done.  Clearly, the cinnamon fumes are getting to me.

Coming back to reality, I realize that I need to first finish a lot of projects.  Sure, the knitting is complete.  But I have a sweater for M, a cardigan for me (more to come in another post), two cowls and two wraps that need ends woven in, to be blocked and buttons sewn on so they can all be worn and enjoyed this Fall.  To accomplish this, I have at least gathered them all into a bag and placed it next to my favorite chair in the living room.  I’ve even conveniently left a sewing needle next to said chair to facilitate weaving in all the ends.  Plus, I’m convinced I will block at least one piece each night for the next week.  Because, really, who knows how many knit pieces I will want to wear this weekend!

It’s time to go stir the apples and breathe in some more energizing Fall fumes.  Tell me, what are your lofty Autumn plans and goals?

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Summer Crafting, Preschool Style

I have an amazing sister.  I know, this is not a blog where I brag about my family too often.  But no joke, she’s awesome.  When it comes to being the fun aunt, she’s even better.  Our vacation this summer mainly involved staying at my sister’s place where we went on loads of fun adventures to the beach and Coney Island and more.  Back to my sister, though.  She anticipated nearly all of my daughter’s wants and needs… before M even knew she had them.  She even had her willingly eating multiple helpings of salad… my daughter likes her veggies, but baby spinach?  This was new for us…

I brought some toys my daughter hadn’t played with in a while hoping to fill some of the odd hours where we didn’t have something planned and we needed her to be able to play quietly so the adults could rest from all the traveling and excitement.  But it was my sister who brought some real child-entertaining game.

We arrived to find a well-thought-out list of activities she had planned to keep M busy.  There was dress-up, slinky racing (which M and my brother-in-law took off running with), and more drawing than I thought could be humanly possible, especially that done by the adults at the direction of my daughter.

However, the most impressive activity my sister came up with and the one that seems to keep on giving is the one involving thin cut-out wooden bears. Think paper dolls, but made from wood liken to a tongue depressor.  My daughter helped direct how she wanted the faces drawn on… I snuck off for a nap… and when I awoke – all three bears had paper outfits cut out of fancy card stock.  I don’t just mean dresses.. There are shoes, a hat and a purse.

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Plus, these outfits aren’t glued on.  There is the potential for more outfits to be created.  That’s because my sister thought to also get that weird blue wall putty stuff that you can hang pictures on your walls without messing up the paint.  The stuff that will now always be referred to as the amazing putty that allows my child to make her own bear dolls’ clothing that will stay on when we want it to but be so easily changed to a new outfit on a whim.  No silly fold-over paper tabs where the clothing inevitably falls off in less than five seconds like normal paper dolls.

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Since we’ve been home, I’ve been incredibly inspired to come up with more fun crafting/play time for my daughter and me.  Last summer we had dabbled in some art journaling.  This summer, M is going at it full force.  We pulled out the paints, stencils, glitter glue, crafting tape and craft paper and she has been adding to her pages pretty consistently.

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We also pulled out some other projects I had planned on us completing together…. years ago.  We finally painted and decorated the wooden letters for her name and hung them on the wall of her room by stringing them on decorative ribbon (less nail holes).

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I’ve also been struggling to find ways to better display all of the artwork she creates both at school and at home, so we hung a couple more lines of ribbon in her room and are hanging each piece with clothes pins.  Now she has her own little art exhibit that she gets to curate.

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For our next project, we will be revisiting the bears by making them homes.  Shoe box homes.  I told her we could paint them to look like rooms and paint furniture and rugs and such.  She turns to me and says “and we can cut out a door and make windows too!”.  I hear we will also be gluing the shoe boxes together to make a little bear mansion…. It will likely take up the rest of our summer!

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Getting Back on Track

Summer seems to have spiraled out of control this year.  Many plans and goals came and went unfulfilled.  Many posts were planned and never written.  This week, I hope to change some of that.  After unexpectedly being laid up on the couch recovering from a (minor-ish) surgery, I think now is the time to catch up on everything and fill in all the blanks.

Some things to look forward to this week:

– Stash Dash and Tour de Fleece Wrap-up

– Summer Crafting with M

– Crafting on the Go

– Getting Reacquainted with the Wheel

– Looking ahead to Fall

Look forward to a busier-than-usual week!

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Summer Project Planning

With hot weather looming outside everyday and the prospect of having any and all wool stick to me upon contact, my summer crafting usually has to be pretty thought out.  Between taking M to the pool and actually letting her play outside in the disgusting heat (I’m clearly not a big fan of being hot), I have found that small portable knitting projects get the most attention.  That being said, two of my favorite events happen every summer – Stash Dash and Tour de Fleece – both of which require serious planning.

Stash Dash, hosted by TheKnitGirllls, is running from May 23rd to August 7th this year and the goal is to knit/spin/use 5K of yarn.  If I only work on small projects all summer, I would not only go out of my mind, but I would likely never reach this goal.  I would waste so much time in between projects deciding what I felt like working on next.  I very easily get analysis paralysis…

In order to minimize the time wasted in this manner, I’ve lined up some of the larger projects I would like to accomplish this year that would seriously help reach the 5K goal.  Since I won’t likely bring these projects on our outdoor “adventures”, I will be certain to have a smaller project on the needles at all time.

  1. Viajante by Martina Behm (this has been on the needles since July 2013 and seriously needs to be finished)
  2. Anna Maria Cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio (the sweater I was knitting for my mother until I realized it was large enough to fit three of her and needs to be re-cast on)
  3. Lush Cardigan by Tin Can Knits (hopefully to be my Rhinebeck Sweater)

It is also unlikely that I will be able to knit quickly enough to accomplish this entire goal.  Luckily, spinning also counts – and that’s where Tour de Fleece comes in.  Running from July 5th to July 27th, Tour de Fleece is the perfect motivation to spend some serious time spinning in the comfort of my air conditioning.  I don’t ask for much, but I do require it to be 80 degrees or cooler in order to spin without feeling like I’m felting the fiber before it even reaches the orifice of my wheel…

This year, however, Tour de Fleece seemed to sneak up on me – as did the month of July in general.  I originally intended on spinning my Jacob fleece batts and having it either all ready to ply or completely finished by the end of the Tour.  Since it began on July 5th and I realized the day of that I had projects going on nearly all of my bobbins and both of my drop spindles, I decided to change things up a bit.

I would like to be able to clean and condition my wheel before spinning my Jacob fleece, so I’ll need all of the bobbins cleared to do that properly.  So…. you guessed it – my goal is now to finish all of the spinning projects I have in the works… or at least the ones not on storage bobbins.  The current hope – and by that I clearly mean plan – is to clear these off my wheel and my spindles:

Loop Bullseye Bump - Merino in the Vineyard colorway.

Loop Bullseye Bump – Merino in the Vineyard colorway.

KnittyAndColor - Merino/Bamboo in the Soren colorway.

KnittyAndColor – Merino/Bamboo in the Soren colorway.

FiberFancy - Shetland in the Costume Ball colorway.

FiberFancy – Shetland in the Costume Ball colorway.

Fiber Optic Yarns - BFL in the Bramble faux Batik colorway.

Fiber Optic Yarns – BFL in the Bramble faux Batik colorway.

Unwind Yarn Co - Polwarth/Silk Blend in the Ghoulish colorway.

Unwind Yarn Co – Polwarth/Silk Blend in the Ghoulish colorway.

This is also a much better goal as I will be doing a bit of traveling and it is much more reasonable to bring along a drop spindle or two than to bring my wheel along for the ride.  Not to mention a lot less annoying for those I’ll be traveling with!

What are your crafting goals for the summer?  Planning any Christmas in July crafting to get a head start on your gifts basket? Please share to keep me… inspired? …paralyzed by all the possibilities?

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Pulling out the Jacob

After spending the holiday season and the beginning of the year cranking out some knitting, I’d been craving some spinning time. In a matter of a couple weeks, I finished spinning four 4-ounce braids of fiber and worked on spinning some punis. The first 4 ounces I had been working on for quite a long time and it took about 3 days worth of spinning time to ply it all. As a quick cleanse and to help relax, I spun another 4 ounces on a Sunday afternoon. I started off with M practicing combining treadling with drafting. When she lost interest, I continued while spinning from the fold (folding the fiber over my index finger) with a long draw technique.

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Two-plying from the inside and outside of a center-pull ball

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I also started tackling a few items that will help me reach my 2014 goals. First, my Jacob and I became reacquainted. I pulled out the entire fleece and my combs to assess the situation. I may not have finished prepping it during the Ravellenics, but at least now it is out where I will see it everyday and it should be done rather quickly as I will want the floor space in my living room back!

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My only problem will be holding myself back from starting to spin it before I’m done combing it all. I do not want to spin any until I know exactly what I want to create. I was thinking of trying to spin it in a way to obtain a tweed look by spinning in the white portions throughout the chocolate brown. However, there is significantly less white to work with. Once I have finished combing it all. I will use some of the chocolate brown to do some sampling to decide how to spin and ply it all.

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Holiday Crafting

Though I usually have M make all of her valentines, I decided to do things a bit differently this year.  She has many of the same kids in her class as last year and I didn’t want to give them the same foam heart with foam letters and heart stickers.  Plus, I’m all about gifting things that are also useful.  Often valentines are store bought cards and/or candy.  Which is fine.  But four year olds only need so much candy.

Instead, I decided to use some of my dish cloth cotton to knit heart “scrubbies”.   These nice little hearts can be used to scrub dishes or as wash cloths.  Plus, with their super convenient crocheted loops, they can be hung in the dishwasher or be thrown in the wash.  I did try making a crocheted heart to see if it would take less time and look nicer… but it took at least twice as long… just to do one side of it.  I asked M on Thursday morning which of the two she preferred.  Luckily, it was the knitted heart.  So M’s teacher was gifted the larger, “fancy” heart and I made ten (I promise, even if only eight made it into the picture!) of the little knitted hearts.  In order to give each valentine M’s special touch, she was in charge of writing out the tags with each child’s name and her own.  Which, for a four year old, is a lot of hard work!

i ♥ tawashi's by Julie Tarsha and HDC Heart in Lily's Sugar'n Cream cotton

i ♥ tawashi’s by Julie Tarsha and HDC Heart in Lily’s Sugar’n Cream cotton

M was so pleased with how they were turning out, she started to list other people I should make the hearts for.  Since I was working on most of them during our snow day the day before Valentine’s Day, I told her the others might have to wait until next year!

Once Valentine’s Day was over, I had the three-day weekend ahead of me to craft on whatever I wanted.  I always find that after (self-imposed) “obligation” knitting is complete, I want to do nothing but spin.  Since I was out of the house most of the weekend, I did work a lot on my mother’s sweater.  But whenever I was home, I worked on spinning up some Highland Handmades’ Polwarth (aka Pitch Pine Top) in the SSKers For the Win colorway.

Highland Handmades Pitch Pine Top - SSKersFTW colorway

Highland Handmades Pitch Pine Top – SSKersFTW colorway

On Presidents’ Day, I took advantage of my day off to not only clean my place, but to sew the rest of the fold-over hems on my father’s sweater as well as sew on the six buttons.  One would maybe think this should have been done back in September when the knitting was finished.  But after finishing the hems at the bottom of the sweater, the collar and both the sleeves were incredibly intimidating.  Not to mention time consuming.  I kept fearing I would get nearly to the end of the collar, only to find that I had sewn it askew.  Luckily, I had an easy way to line up the sleeves as the hem portion was continued directly from the rest of the sleeve and I could line up the stitches exactly.  However, the collar portion had been picked up and knitted from the cast on of the sweater, so there was not the same number of stitches and with the raglan increases, the stitches in the sweater were at an angle while the “hem” was straight.  It took some doing and a lot of straight pins (which are incredibly useless when sewing knitting), but the sweater is now finished.  My father, who was over spending some play time with M, was able to wear it home.

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I might not be completing my intended goals during this Olympic season, but at least I seem to be staying on track with my overall year goals of completing these sweaters and using up stash!

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