The Calm After the Storm

Christmas has come and gone for another year here. Presents were all received with much excitement, and cookies, fruitcake, roast, and sweets have all been consumed. I look forward to a few more days of relaxing before having to go back to the daily grind of work, classes, chores, and social obligations.

J and I have joined my parents, grandparents, and one of my uncle’s families up at the lake for a few days. This time is my favorite; we all sit around drinking coffee and talking, take hikes, play board or trivia games, and just enjoy catching up with everyone’s goings on over the past year.  There is chaos and laughter, exchanging of advice, and copious amounts of beverages. 

I never really partake in New Year’s Resolutions. They always seems to be something vague “get in shape,” and setting something more specific always makes me feel like a failure if something happens that prevents success.  I prefer to go with hopes for the new year- things to strive for, to look forward to, but not obligatory successes. I’m still finagling the details, but it gives me something to think about while I drink my morning coffee. 

I also partake in a “New Year’s Cast-on-along”  started a few years ago by a rubbernecker friend. The purpose of this is to cast on a brand new project, something for yourself, as an enticement for good omens in the coming year.  I haven’t even begun thinking about what I should start for myself. Three years ago it was my wedding veil (so far the good omen seems to be working), and last year I did a quick pair of mittens. Maybe this year I’ll do something simple, such as a nice winter scarf, or a quick hat. Something to wear through the rest of the winter to cheer me up. 

 

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Goodness and Light

We are a mere days away from Christmas, and preparations are in full swing! Because of exams and fieldwork, I got a late start on the Holidays this year. Life has been so busy, we didn’t even get a real tree, we just put up my artificial one from college. I don’t mind too much- I’m glad it’s getting used. I just miss having a real one. 

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We got the tree up at the beginning of the month, and decorated soon after. Even though not much else was completed all month, it is nice having it there, decorated and lit up. It helps bring a little bit of the holiday spirit. There is a certain cat here that feels the tree is meant for eating. I think from now on we need to suffer through getting a real tree. At least those are less toxic than processed plastics.

 

 

 

I’ve been working on my Opulent Raglan almost exclusively this month. I hope to have it done in time for my work holiday party in January. This photo is old- I cast off the body this morning, and am getting ready to pick up stitches for the sleeves. This is a perfect tv watching knit.

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Yesterday my mother and I finally found time to get together and knock out some of the baking. We managed to complete two batches of spritz, 1.5 batches of gingerbread and a batch of peanut butter blossoms (peanut butter cookies with a hershey kiss in the center). I still have two batches of sugar cookies and some gingerbread to complete, but that’s not bad for one day!

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In my family we usually do half the gingerbread with red hots, and the other half plain, but this year I had a sudden urge to ice some of the plain ones. I had so much fun giving them little faces and outfits! They will be much more entertaining to eat than the plain ones. 

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been all joy and light around here. On our way to dinner Friday, Skye had an unfortunate incident. Seems the lady behind us at a red light was in a great rush to get somewhere, and nailed us on the right corner. Skye isn’t too bad, but her car 

is totaled. It could be much, much worse, and I will say that considering how hard she hit us, I am so thankful for how well made Honda’s are.  

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Today is going to be full of baking, prepping for perogi’s to eat on Christmas Eve, and sewing some special project bags for Christmas gifts. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!

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This and That

I have been travelling for my full-time job almost non stop lately, home only long enough to attend my graduate classes two evenings a week. This means that little crafting or blogging has been completed recently, so today will be random things I forgot to blog about earlier in the year.

Rhinebeck Haul

This is my haul from Rhinebeck this year, minus the amazing cheese and pesto I bought. Those are already gone.  Starting from the upper left: BFL naturally dyed from Spencer Hill Spinning and Dyeing. She only uses natural dyes for all of her products, and gets amazing colors from them.

Next is 4oz of baby mohair/wool from Steam Valley Fiber. The White skein is also from them; it’s a mohair/wool blend dk weight yarn.

Next are two skeins of sock yarn from Spencer Hill (can you tell where I spent all of my money?) in indigo/lac and indigo. Then two miniskeins of sock yarn from Miss Babs for some colorwork mittens I am planning. Finally, 8oz of CVM/Silk from Carolina Homespun. It is like touching a cloud. I LOVE it.

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This was my big birthday present from my parents- an antique yarn blocker! It is fully functioning, and makes a popping noise after approximately 80 rotations (I need to count again, it’s hard to keep track). Some of the spokes are chipped, but they will still hold yarn!

 

 

 

 

 

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This Book was a present for my inlaws. I cannot wait to start making some of the projects in it. The Penguin and Alligator specifically look like so much fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 I posted back here about spinning up some pink corriedale in fauxlags. This hat is the result of that yarn. It used about 2/3 of the skein (125yds). It is so warm and squishy, I love it! I didn’t want to take it off once I finished it. This hat only took about 3 days of intermittent knitting.

 

 

 

 

 

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And finally! Yesterday we went to Afternoon Tea at the Jefferson Hotel to celebrate my cousin’s 16th birthday. This was the fanciest tea I have ever been to. Absolutely gorgeous, amazing foods and delicious teas. Such a great experience. And probably the only time I’ll be able to set foot in a hotel that swanky. ;)

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A Quick Stop

To say that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. My full-time job has me out of town during the week, and personal life has me out of town on the weekends. This means that any spare time I have is spent sewing and preparing for the Carlisle Christmas Craft Show this weekend.

project bags

Here is a (blurry) progress photo I had of some bags two weeks ago. I’ve determined 12 bags a day is my limit- I tried to do 20 last night, and while I succeeded, it also took me from 9am to 2am. I do not plan on having a repeat performance of that.

 

 

I have been working out of town for the past month straight, making it very difficult to make enough time to sew the bags and prepare for the show. While I didn’t have as much inventory as I would have liked, I did have enough to keep my booth from looking empty, and it did attract a fair amount of people in.

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One thing I got many compliments on that I wasn’t expecting is my new business shirt. J had two custom made for me for my birthday, and they were a big hit! I do love how professional it makes me look at an event such as this.

Rock Solid Designs polo shirt.

 The show was a lot of fun, and I learned so much about how to build my booth to entice people in. I can’t wait for the next show to put some of what I learned into practice!

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New Pattern!

Hey everyone! It’s been crazy busy around here lately. Between fieldwork at my fulltime job, schoolwork, tutoring, and trying to get bags done for my home business, I have hardly had time to stop and think. I did get a chance to finish knitting the photo model for my new pattern though. Pictures were this weekend, and the pattern is now live on my website!

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Cozy lace legwarmers, just in time for fall! These are perfect for staying warm in the house, or walking around the neighborhood. The lace pattern keeps them interesting, but there is no shaping! Just drop down a needle size to make them smaller.

Because the lace pattern spirals around the leg, all shaping is done by changing needle sizes. I chose an alpaca/wool/silk blend for these, to provide delicacy and warmth. 

By request, I will also be expanding this to a sock pattern. Once the sock pattern has been test knit, I will update the legwarmer pattern to include both options.

The pattern is available for sale through the link above, or on Ravelry  

Now it’s back to sewing bags. Hopefully I’ll have the majority of the drawstring bags done today, leaving me with the box bags and needle rolls for the rest of October.

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Canning Achievement: Unlocked!

Growing up I was always aware that my grandmother did a variety of preserving different items, but it never really piqued my interest. As a kid, who cared if you canned it? Pickles were gross, and fruit was meant to be eaten right away! Canning seemed pointless and something I would never be interested in.

Enter 2012. It seems that when one begins to engage in rustic activities such as knitting, it slowly leads to more. From knitting came spinning, and from spinning came the desire to know where my food came from at a better depth than “the grocery store.” Sure, stuff from the store is fine, but I kept hearing stories about how home grown produce has so much more flavor, and was a much richer experience all around. I wanted to check this out. So, in the spring of 2012, we joined a CSA. Everything I heard was absolutely true. I never knew tomatoes actually had flavor! The ones from the store always felt like I was eating cardboard! On top of that, we got a variety of fruits and vegetables I have never heard of or tried, and learned that there are a number of items I really enjoy. $400 for 26 weeks was a great deal- we definitely got more than $15 worth of food in each box, and I think the added value of having items picked within the last 48-72 hours was worth it.

But we quickly had a problem: We couldn’t eat it all fast enough! Last year was upsetting because we did end up wasting so much. It was a lot of food, and while we were attempting to eat healthier, we just couldn’t eat all of it. This year we signed up to split the CSA with my parents, but it was still more food than we could eat in a reasonable amount of time. So then what do you do?

That’s when I remembered my grandmother’s canning, and wondered how much of our produce I could do that for. Turns out, almost all of it! Our CSA does a few days a summer where we can pick as much of a certain item as we want at a low or no cost. This seemed like a great opportunity to start! When J’s parents were visiting this past month, we took everyone out for peach picking. $13 for a half bushel, and that half bushel held a LOT of peaches. I bought some pint size canning jars and decided to dive right in!

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Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the first photo I took of the set-up prior to canning. I would also like to point out that this was the second canning event- I had already done a case of pint jars, and needed to finish up the peaches. So this was just the last of the peaches from the picking. I have already given 2 jars to my parents, and 2 to some friends. There is no way we would eat half a bushel of peaches ourselves, canned or not!

When I wasn’t canning yesterday, I was doing some knitting. Doesn’t this look like the perfect Saturday morning, right here?

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It would have been a lot more relaxing if the purpose hadn’t been to do a final troubleshoot on a pattern I’ve been working on. I plan on releasing it next week, but I need to make sure the pattern works 100% the way it is supposed to before publishing. So far it’s only been tiny mistakes, but in doing this I need to focus solely on my knitting.

So that’s my weekend: knitting, canning, coffee, oh and bonfires. Everything about my weekend shouts “it’s fall!” and I love it. 

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I Am…IRON GIRL

This post is going to be me tooting my own horn, so fair warning. 

I mentioned in some previous posts that my mother got it into her head that we should sign up for a triathlon. Now, I haven’t done sports since I was 14 (aside from the occasional softball or broomball game in college); and my mom has never been super athletic. Getting ready to do a triathlon in 4 months? That is insanity, and I told her so. But she was adamant, so I signed up with her.

After 16 weeks, thousands of yards swam, tens of miles biked and miles run, we did it. We competed in and finished the Sandy Hook, NJ sprint triathlon.

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Getting ready to swim! That’s me and my mom. She was a huge inspiration through all of this.

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Woo bike ride!

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Finish strong! Or at least finish with jazz hands.

 

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family friend, myself, mom, and my goofy husband photobombing.

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It was a crazy experience, but I am so glad we did it. Our goal this year was just to finish. The swim was insane- there were white caps on the waves by the time my group started the swim. That really weeded out a lot of people this year. The bike and run were much tougher than I anticipated, mostly because the swim took a lot more effort because of the conditions. But I finished in less than two hours! I am still on a race high almost a week later.  In fact, we are now planning our races for next year!

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Jack of all Trades…

That’s how I’m feeling these days. I spent the other morning wondering where my time went, that all of a sudden summer was over, there were no new blog posts, and I felt like I had accomplished so little.  

Last week my stepdaughter asked me what I was knitting. I told her it was a sample for a class I am going to teach this fall. She knew I was going to school, so here she goes “OH! You’re the teacher, not a student!” Trying to explain to her that I am both (I am going for my master’s in the evenings) was confusing for both of us. It got me thinking, though. It’s no wonder I feel as if I have no time, and that nothing is accomplished. I’m wearing too many hats!

I work all day as a geologist. Two days a week, I then go straight to campus to get a swim in before my 3 hour class. One day a week I typically teach a knitting class at my local Joann Fabrics. One day a week I tutor a friend in the evenings in Calculus. And in between all of that? I am training for a triathalon. (Which is THIS SATURDAY! by the way. Not that I am panicking or anything).

And then, amidst ALL of that (because that is enough to wear out anybody); I am working on my side business creating project bags, yoga bags, and knitting patterns. All while also spending most of the summer as a new parent of a 6 year old, and still attempting to cook all of our dinners, shop local, play with my stepdaughter, and teach her awesome things like knitting and sewing and why quiet time is sometimes nice. 

So my goal: Blog once a week. If I do more, great! But I think we can all agree that right now, I have a lot going on, and punishing myself for not blogging enough won’t help anything.

Next time I post, I’ll have some fun photos. For now, I have to get ready for my tutoring session. :)

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And just like that, summer is gone

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been 3 months since the last blog post. Things have been so crazy here, I’ve barely had time to think, let alone work up a blog post. Working out of town, completing classes, having my stepdaughter come to visit, the in-laws showing up…it’s been a very busy summer! So, instead of writing about “what I did on my summer vacation” I decided to do a photo essay instead!

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Finally Making Some Progress

I finally feel as if I am making progress on my spinning, knitting, and sewing projects. Not having classes two nights a week really does give me a lot of free time! The hardest part about wanting to update on all of this is figuring out where to start. Guess I’ll start with the spinning. Last year a dog got into some combed top I was working on, and strew it all around the house. It would be impossible to spin it as prepped top now, but with my fancy new hand cards I could turn the top into rolags pretty easily and spin from that!

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This is my spinning set-up from last week. In the front are the rolags I prepped from the affected fiber. The bobbin on the back left is full of 3oz of merino/mohair singles. The bobbin on the right is another 3 oz of the same fiber, chain plied. In the back you can see my yarn bowl and WIP.

I was hoping to spin a bulky single. Unfortunately learning to spin rolags in a truly woolen manner was a bit difficult, and I ended up with thick and thin singles, about a worsted weight. The colors in this photo are the most accurate for the pink fiber.

 

 

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Here are the singles. About 200yds, 4oz. I spun it up as a gradient, from dark magenta to a pink so light it’s almost white. I really wanted a thicker yarn, but if I ply this I’ll get a really awful barber pole effect, and I’m just not sure I want that yet. We will see. I have time before I need a winter hat from this.

 

 

Here is a swatch knitted up. It’s not bad, but this is on size 8 needles. Definitely worsted. 

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Here is the finished product of the chain-plied mohair. This skein is about 275yds, 3oz. I ended up with about a sport weight yarn. I’m still plying the second bobbin, but it should be around the same. I’m ok with that, I just need to figure out what to do with 500yds of a mohair blend. I’m not so sure it will make great socks. Maybe house socks? It could make a nice small shawl, too. That’s the hardest part about spinning- trying to figure out what to do with the yarn once it’s made! 

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Oh, and here was my super fancy set-up to skein this yarn once I was done spinning it:

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I know, don’t you all wish you had this impressive layout? I can’t wait until I have a craft room, and a table that has enough of a lip to attach my swift. 

 

 

 

 

This weekend we are heading up to the lake to spend the holiday with family. I’m bringing the Border Leicester, as I said earlier. Gertrude, all her supplies, and the hand cards are coming along, too. I plan on getting a good start with the Border Leicester this weekend. I’m hoping I bought enough of it- the original intention was to knit myself a sweater from it. If I am low on fiber though, I’ll have to decide if I want to blend it, or do a colorwork yoke to try and make the yarn last. I may kick myself if I find out I didn’t purchase enough.

The trindle went out in the mail today to get fixed/replaced. I’m hoping he is able to fix it. I really love that little spindle and was very excited to spin on it this past weekend. I’ve learned my lesson though. Never take a trindle out of the house!

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