Monday, December 09, 2019

A Roller Coaster of Emotions

You may have surmised from the lack of a post yesterday that it was an extremely busy weekend. I figured it was pointless to try to post on Sunday because I had exactly zero new spinning to share and hardly any other crafting, for that matter. This weekend was my brother's wedding, and as all three of us were in the wedding party, that meant a lot of activity in addition to spending time catching up with family and friends who came from out of town for the occasion. I did not carry a purse, nor did I have any pockets in my dress, so the only photos I have are from the Mister (and I don't think he too many, either).

This photo is a little strange in terms of perspective (my head looks enormous and I look much shorter than I am), but at least you can see me and Rainbow in our dresses and with our beautiful flowers.

And here's the junior bridesmaid again with the bride and groom right after the ceremony:

She had a fun time at the wedding, though she left shortly after the ceremony for a slumber party at our house with my cousins' kids. I don't think anyone got much sleep, but these cousins get together so infrequently that it was probably worth it. She seems to have picked up some germs from someone, though, because she woke up with a fever this morning, so we're having a quiet day at home today (I took her in to the pediatrician this morning to get her checked out; the strep test was negative and her ears looked fine, so it's likely just a cold or similar virus).

While the majority of the weekend was happy and celebratory, there was some sadness as well. On Thursday, as I was getting ready for the craziness ahead, I learned that Scott "Scooterpie" Manko of the Ross Farm had been killed in a tragic accident on the farm. The funeral was today, and I knew I wouldn't be able to make it, so I went to the visitation at the funeral home yesterday. It was as sad as you can imagine. If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you know how wonderful Amy and Scooterpie have been to me over the years, taking me to Rhinebeck and Maryland and supporting my designs, so I was devastated by the news. If you'd like to do something to help, a fund has been set up to assist Amy with the expenses from the funeral and of running the farm, and you can donate here.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Pattern Release: The Sky in the Stream

I am not a very outdoorsy person. It's not that I don't like nature; I just never much cared for some of the things in nature, like mud and bugs that bite. I also grew up in a city, where we didn't have much nature other than a patch of grass in front and behind the house and some old oak trees lining the street. Perhaps that's why the memories of one particular nature hike have stayed with me all these years: It was a fall day, cool enough for long sleeves but warm in the sun. I was probably 10 or 11, which would have made my younger brother 4 or 5. My family had driven out to the suburbs for some reason, and my father decided to pull the car over at a place called Salamander Park to take a "nature walk." I wasn't keen on it, but it was a nice day and I didn't put up a fight. My brother, because a very boyish boy, was delighted to pick up sticks and poke at things. I know we took some family photos, and I'm pretty sure we got a bit muddy, but what I remember most was the golden color that seemed to be everywhere.

Why am I telling you this? Well, when I spotted the colors I used in the pattern I'm publishing today, they reminded me so much of the colors of that day: the blue of the clear sky, with only a fluffy cloud here and there, and the warm, rusty red-brown of the dead leaves on the ground and the changing leaves still on the trees. This one is called The Sky in the Stream.

The gorgeous colors in the yarn are from the very talented Rebecca of Dusty Tree DyeWorks. When I bought them, I knew they were destined to be together, though at the time I didn't have a plan. I patiently tucked them away in my stash until the right idea came along, which it eventually did. Today, I'm delighted to share with you my new shawl pattern, The Sky in the Stream.

With this design, I've returned to my beloved top-down triangle and the squish of garter stitch. The knitting is pretty mindless until you join in the contrast color, where there's a little bit of slip-stitch colorwork and some short rows for fun. A row of eyelets near the bottom edge adds some lightness, not to mention a shortcut for blocking. Finally, the ends are finished with optional ornamental leaves, which you can toss over your shoulder, like so:

or, if you prefer to wear your shawls bandana style, tie in a loose overhand knot to secure the shawl around your neck:

Here are all the specs on this pattern:
  • You'll need two 100 g skeins of fingering weight yarn in two colors that go well together. You'll use all or nearly all of the main color and about three-quarters of the contrast color.
  • The gauge isn't critical (because it's a shawl), but keep in mind that if you work to a larger gauge, you'll likely need yarn, so plan accordingly.
  • The shawl starts with a garter tab, so if you hate those, feel free to sub in another way to start.
  • The short rows call for w&t, but you can sub in any other method you like. I find w&t works well with garter, because the wraps just blend in.
  • As with all my patterns, this one has been professionally tech edited for accuracy and clarity.
I really love this one, maybe more than I should (I should love all my designs equally, right?), and I hope you do, too. It's 20% off with the code LEAFY through December 10.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Fulled and Fuzzy

It's the week leading up to my brother's wedding, I'm still working, and the Mister is away, so it's super busy around these parts, but I did manage to find time to whip up a pair of mittens for Rainbow over the long weekend. You've seen the pattern before -- it's the Snow Day Mittens that use superwash for the cuff and non-superwash for the hand. I knew I was going to use a skein of Cascade Alpaca Lana D'Oro, a 50/50 wool/alpaca blend, leftover from one of my sweaters for the hands, but I let Rainbow choose the yarn for the cuffs, and she selected leftovers from one of my favorite sweaters I've ever knit her. Last night I tossed her finished mittens, along with the two pairs I'd previously knit for charity, into the dryer to felt (I soaked them first and tossed in a few dryer balls for friction).

Here are all three pairs before felting:

and here they are after:

There's still a bit of stitch definition in a few spots, so they could probably be felted even more, but I'm pretty happy with them. Rainbow's pair, which fit me perfect before, are now just the right size for her, and as she snagged the pair she's been wearing at school yesterday, the timing couldn't be more perfect. I've left all three pairs sitting on my radiator today to dry out, and with any luck, they'll be ready to be put into the regular rotation tomorrow.

Here's a closer look at Rainbow's mittens -- just look at that fuzzy halo from the alpaca!

I've resumed working on the socks for my almost-sister-in-law during my lunch breaks, but I've decided to dedicate my evening crafting time this week to my granny square blanket. As of this morning (when it was very overcast, hence the dark photo), it was this big:

For reference, that's a queen-size bed.
I started opening my Fibernymph Dye Works holiday mini skein yesterday and plan to start adding them into the blanket, but I want to work through a few more leftover bits first. The plan is then to work the minis in order, as they're intended to flow from one to the next. It'd be great to get this finished up before we leave for our trip, as I really don't want to have to drag this big of a project all the way to Florida -- it'd take up precious room in my luggage, not to mention that sitting with a lap full of wool isn't ideal for the climate!

Sunday, December 01, 2019

It's Going Too Quickly

The title of this post refers both to the long holiday weekend and to this year in general; I am absolutely astounded that today is December 1. Less than a week from day is my brother's wedding. Two weeks from today is Rainbow's 10th birthday. Three weeks from today we'll be in Florida. How is it that the weekdays can crawl by but yet 2019 is almost over?

I suppose one way to (artificially) make time seem to slow down is to do a slow craft, so I did spend a little bit of time at my wheel this weekend, though not as much as I would have hoped. The truth is that there were many things to do to get ready for upcoming events in the next few weeks, and so crafting necessarily had to take a back seat to those things. But I'm almost halfway through the singles for this spin, and it's really such a perfect spin that I'm not in any rush to hurry it along.

Southern Cross Fibre Bond wool in the colorway Two Roads Diverged

These colors are moody and subtle, and I'm finding them very soothing. The fiber is drafting beautifully and is very soft. There's nothing I don't love about this spin (except that I'm not finding enough time for it). It might end up being my last spin of the year, depending on how busy things get before we leave for our trip. I'm toying with the idea of taking a spindle or even my Nano wheel with me to Florida, but I think I'll likely end up just taking knitting -- after all, it'll give me something at home to look forward to rather than dread!

Friday, November 29, 2019

I Blame the Food Coma

I fully intended to put up a post yesterday, as I usually do on Thursdays, but yesterday was no ordinary Thursday. As you probably know, it was Thanksgiving here in the United States, so we were all home and had a somewhat leisurely day. After I took my time drinking my coffee (which never happens on a typical weekday), I got to work on the cooking.

My parents were hosting the big meal, as they always do, but with the size of the crowd increasing over the years, my mother has ceded some of the cooking to the rest of us. Our assignments were the vegetables (roasted Brussels sprouts and green bean casserole) and, as we've done for the past several years, pumpkin muffins (basically pumpkin bread in muffin form that's served alongside the dinner rolls). Last year, we overbaked on the muffins, so while Rainbow and I still made two batches (one with craisins, one plain), we made only two dozen muffins per batch and used the extra batter to make two loaves of pumpkin bread to keep.

I got a little fancy and topped the one with craisins in it with some pepitas leftover from a salad kit. Rainbow, of course, won't touch the topping, but at least I can enjoy it.

While the muffins and bread were in the oven, I sat down and finished the giant handspun cowl. It's now drying from its bath, so it's not as fluffy as I expect it will be when it's dry, and it's a gloomy day here, so apologies for the less-than-stellar photo.

I'm happy with how this turned out, especially that I used pretty much every last inch of the yarn (I even played a little yarn chicken on the bind-off round), and I can't wait to deliver it to the recipient.

Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful and I ate way too much, though I'd decided ahead of time that I wasn't going to worry about it for the one day. Just as good as the food was the company. In addition to our family (the three of us, my parents and brother, and my in-laws), we were joined by my brother's fiancee and her family -- her parents, her brother and sister-in-law, and her two nieces. My brother- and sister-in-law and my nephew joined us for dessert after they had dinner with her family. I kept my phone in my purse for most of the night, but I did pull it out toward the end to capture a few family photos. This one might be my favorite:

What you can't see under his bib is that he's wearing suspenders to go with his plaid shirt and khakis. Too cute!

Today we're enjoying another quiet family day at home. No Black Friday shopping for us -- Rainbow and the Mister are busy building the giant Lego set that they've decided counts as Rainbow's birthday present and a present for him, and I'm planning on doing some knitting and spinning. We're all looking forward to having a relaxing weekend together before the wedding craziness of next weekend!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Pattern Release: Hakova Sheli

I think I've said before that one of the hardest parts about pattern designing for me is coming up with a good name. In this case of this hat, I had no problems whatsoever because the crown of the hat immediately reminded me of a fond memory from childhood.

For the Jewish holiday of Purim, it's a tradition to make and eat a special type of cookie, called hamantaschen. These cookies are triangular and said by some to represent the three-cornered hat favored by Haman, the villain of the Purim story. While that story may be apocryphal, what's undeniable is that the cookies are delicious, and it's a fun tradition in many families to make the cookies and share them with friends and families. I have some very clear memories of helping my mother fill hamentaschen as a child, and I also remember her singing a Purim song in Hebrew that goes "Hakova sheli shalosh pinot," which translates to "My hat has three corners." Could there be a more perfect name for this crown? I think not!

Hakova Sheli is worked in basic brioche stitch using a fingering weight yarn. It's super simple until you get to the crown decreases, which are really more fiddly than difficult and go very quickly once you've got the hang of them. I've graded the pattern to four sizes, approximately toddler to adult large, but the stretchiness of the brioche stitch makes for a very flexible fit.

I used a self-striping yarn from Fibernymph Dye Works for my sample (the colorway is called Cold Snap), and I just love what brioche stitch does to stripes. As with all of my patterns, it's been professionally tech edited, and I also had a bunch of volunteers preview knit it, so you can be sure the pattern is easy to follow. Through the end of the month, I'm offering it for sale for 20% using the code MYHAT.

But wait, that's not all!

In addition to offering you this new hat, I also want to mention that the seventh annual Indie Designer Giftalong starts tonight at 8 p.m. EST! I have participated every year as a designer and for the past few years as a group moderator, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's my favorite time of year! I've selected 20 of my most popular patterns for the pattern sale portion of the event, which runs from the start of the event until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, December 2. All my paid patterns are eligible for prizes in the KALs, including Hakova Sheli. I hope you see you in the group!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

A New Start

I'm feeling very relaxed about my spinning these days, so I didn't feel like I needed to start a new spinning project, but today I had the house to myself for a bit and it felt like the right thing to do to relax (and, somewhat predictably, it did lull me to sleep for a bit!). I only just started, but it's looking good already -- but I guess that's to be expected when you start with beautiful fiber.

This is the fiber I'm spinning, Bond from Southern Cross Fibre in a colorway called Two Roads Diverged (I always love David's dyeing, but he gets extra bonus points from me for the Robert Frost reference):

I'm trying to tackle the fiber club shipments in a more timely fashion these days, because quite frankly I have quite a backlog. This fiber was August's shipment (which means I received it in September). I thought I would start spinning this because October's shipment arrived last week:

This one is on Corriedale and is called A New Day. Pretty, right?

For the current spin, I'm spinning my default three-ply fingering (well, in a manner of speaking -- I'm going to chain-ply the singles). I split the fiber in half lengthwise and I'm spinning it from end to end so I'll have long color runs. It's extremely soft and the color shifts are subtle. It's truly a delight. I'm going to savor this spin for sure!