slow beginnings

Joining Ginny for Yarn Along (Yarn and pattern info below)

* Yes, that is a dung beetle rolling deer poop. My kids think they are hilarious and insisted that I photograph one in action.

I wish I could say a lot of knitting has happened between now and my last post but that would be quite the lie. I haven’t touched my Rose City Rollers in over a month (despite the heat) and instead of tackling the the cowl and (another) pair of socks that I have on the needles, I decided to cast on a new project because, well, that’s just more fun. I decided on the Campside Cardi by Alicia Plummer and I am just SO thrilled with how it’s turning out. The body has so many yarn overs and K2tog’s that it took no time at all for me to knit the body. I’m just finishing up the bottom ribbing and then I’ll have the sleeves (sigh) and collar to finish and that’s it. The yarn is by Olann, a DK weight merino superwash, hand dyed in Ireland. The colorway is called Cognac, but it reminds me more of the burning embers you at the bottom of a fire pit the night after a good bonfire.

As much as I enjoy the color, I’m unsure as to whether or not I will actually knit with this yarn again. It has this awful detergent smell to it. Every single time I pull it out of my project bag, I wrinkle my nose and my husband asks if one of the kids got into the cleaning supplies under the sink. It’s that bad. It also feels..squeaky…like it doesn’t move smoothly onto my needles, if that makes sense. I would say that it feels like I’m knitting with acrylic rather than wool. I suspect that whatever soap was used to clean the yarn after the dying process left this awful smell and stripped it of every molecule of lanolin. The squeaky sensation I can deal with, but the smell…wow, it’s bad. Has anyone ever had this experience before? I hope that rinsing it with a lanolin-based soap during the blocking phase will solve this problem for me, otherwise I’m going to smell like the cleaning supplies aisle of the grocery store every time I wear it.

I was going to take some pictures of a few FOs that I finished in the beginning of summer. I made two linen tops out of Quince and Co Kestrel and one cropped tank out of my own hand dyed fingering weight superwash, but I haven’t had the chance to take photos…so, yeah. I’m hoping I can get a chance to do that this month; maybe when the evenings cool down a little more.

Last Monday we flung ourselves into the school year with great abandon. That was only a week ago, so while I would like to say things are going well, it may be a bit premature to make that assessment. Sam is in first grade (number grades are so much scarier to me for some reason…perhaps greater potential to fail?) and he is adjusting to the longer school hours. Last year we would only do about an hour. This year he will be doing school anywhere from two and a half to three hours a day. Compared to kids who go to pubic school, this is nothing, but for a kid that likes to build legos in his underwear all day, half days are taking some getting used to.

Max is crawling everywhere, and so we are back into the “Get that off the floor before the baby chokes on it!” phase. This is harder to manage this time around, because as anyone with slightly older children can tell you,  toys become smaller as children age, and Sam and Eddie now play with (and leave scattered around the floor) little legos/soldiers/doll accessories that in my mind were specifically designed to fit snugly in the windpipe of a seven month old. Oh, and Caleb is constantly handing objects to “Baby Mac” to play with, and it almost always comes from a kitchen drawer (HOW DOES HE GET PAST THE CHILD LOCKS?!) or the office, which is off-limits to all children, but Caleb doesn’t seem to care.

Gabe went to check on the land yesterday and install security cameras in some trees so we can keep an eye on the place. Construction site theft seems to be a common occurrence here so we thought cameras might be a good idea. The land has been cleared some more and leveled out. There are even more test holes in the ground for the septic and well. We’re not sure if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. I’m just eager to break ground. Living in a rental surrounded by boxes, with my knitting stuff piled in corners and my gardening tools shoved in a box somewhere…it just feels like our lives are in limbo right now. I can’t wait till I have a little knitting studio to call my own, and some dirt to dig in!

Rose City Rollers by Mara Catherine Bryner

Campside Cardi by Alicia Plummer

Olann (DK Merino superwash hand dyed yarn)

Quince and Co Kestrel (organic linen worsted weight yarn)

a slow return

School is done for the summer. Max is nearly five months. I’m getting (almost) a full night’s sleep. The house is staked out and the permits have been submitted to the county for approval. I have designated this summer “Operation Sarah Knits.” I feel as though this is the summer where I slowly begin easing into my new/old life, if that makes sense. More knitting. More garden/orchard planning. Chickens. Bees. Perhaps even a goat or two…All the things I have desperately missed since leaving Washington. Our house is scheduled to be finished by next spring. I’m hoping that we can slowly establish our urban homestead while the building process is going on, as opposed to after we move in. Once the concrete is poured and the brush is cleared, Gabe is considering setting up a few bee hives on the far end of the property. We are hoping he will be able to care for the bees without getting in the way of the builders and vice versa.

Now that I’m not waking up three times a night to feed the baby or doing lesson plans every week, I find myself with more knitting time in the evenings. I’m currently working on the Opteka sweater by Isabel Kraemer, and I am SO in love with this pattern. The body is done, and the only thing left to tackle are the sleeves. It’s supposed to have a looser fit, but the cables on the bottom half pull the sweater in quite a bit. However, I think this will be easily remedied with wet blocking. I’ve always enjoyed Isabel’s designs and I love it when a pattern calls for a technique that I’ve never tried before. I learned how to do German short rows while shaping the neckline and I have to say German short rows are THE way to go when it comes to short row shaping. I’m using this gorgeous silk-alpaca blend that I dyed with madder. If you follow me on Instagram, you already know the story behind the yarn. I was going for a deep red but ended up with this peachy pink instead. Oh well. It’s knitting up beautifully.

Side note: Does anyone else not realize how filthy their mirrors are until they try taking a selfie? Dear God, can you see all those tiny fingerprints? Ugh.

This month I am taking a Knitting Two Socks At Once class at my LYS. It covers magic loop, two socks at once, and fish lips kiss heels. I’m really enjoying the process so far and if this doesn’t cure my Second Sock Syndrome then I don’t know what will. I currently have four different socks on the needles, which is probably a little ridiculous. I can’t say this process is any faster than knitting one sock at a time, at least for me, but if I can get a pair of socks out of this process as opposed to knitting one sock and then waiting six months to knit the other, than I think it will be worth it.

The short socks are called the Rose City Rollers. My mother has made a few pairs and I thought they were cute. The toe is knit up in a 2-ply fingering merino super wash that I dyed with madder, and the blue spacey looking yarn is a hand painted yarn that I bought at a little shop in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Gabe and I stayed there for a few days for our one year anniversary, SEVEN years ago. I fondly refer to them as my “Anniversary Socks.”

Pattern and Yarn info below:

Sock Pattern: Rose City Rollers by Mara Catherine Bryner 

Yarn: My own 2 ply fingering superwash merino dyed with madder and Whimsical Colors Hand Painted Yarns 2-ply sock yarn in Lavender Ocean

Sweater Pattern: Opteka by Isabell Kraemer

Yarn: My own sport weight alpaca-silk blend dyed with madder

new school year and new hobbies

Hello friends, it’s been while.

September marks the end of our first summer in Texas. I have to admit, I had a hard time with the heat. August was just miserable, and I’m not far enough along to blame it on my pregnancy. I long for the warm summer days and cool nights that August typically brings in Washington. At one point the heat never seemed to end. It cooled down considerably two weeks ago and the days are finally hitting the low 80’s mark instead of the usual low 100’s. At one point I started frantically researching real estate in Idaho to see if it would be possible to own a summer home in less extreme temperatures.

Let’s just say I’m going to need to learn to adjust to the heat.

I’ve been assured by some women at the local yarn shop that the weather does indeed become cold enough for wool sweaters, and for that I am grateful.

We started our first official year of homeschooling last week. Sam is still learning his letters/sounds and I really like the program we chose, All About Reading. We are still using the pre-reading curriculum and supplementing with Bob books. We do basic counting and number recognition for Math, along with some memorization work of a weekly poem or nursery rhyme, which he performs in front of the family every week. Twice a week we will study science. I struggled finding a science curriculum that is both engaging and age appropriate for a 5 year old. I think I found it with Intro to Science by Elemental Science. Each unit is divided into 6 weeks with a weekly experiment. There is also a list of books for supplemental reading for each unit. Sam loves the science portion but doesn’t have much interest in learning his letters. I don’t want him to resent school time, so if I think I can hold his attention for five minutes learning a letter sound, I will, but otherwise we just end up reading for a half hour, which suits both of us just fine. I’m speaking of our homeschooling experience like we’ve been doing it for years but in reality we are only in our second week, but without any major meltdowns from mama or son, I’m declaring this year a success…for now.

Because I need more hobbies, I’ve become obsessed with natural dyeing. The muted colors that come from plants are stunning and I love the idea of using common plants to create a variety of colors and shades.  I found a local sheep farm that sells the most luxurious wool and I’ve been turning my kitchen into a makeshift dye lab. I’ve had one bad session with avocado stones…instead of a light pink, they turned my yarn into a disgusting flesh color that just plain creeped me out. Otherwise, my sessions have gone remarkably well. I adore every shade of purple that logwood creates and I also found a batch of prickly pears and dyed some sock yarn with them. There is little info on dying with prickly pears, other than what I could find on Ginny’s site, but with a bit of help from her I was able to create this lovely dusty rose color with different veins of pink throughout. It’s not a deep magenta like Ginny’s yarn, but I absolutely love it and plan on collecting more prickly pears before the season ends.

I’m using the logwood dyed yarn in worsted weight to knit the Antler cardigan for Eddie. I adore the cable pattern across the yoke and I plan on finishing it with yellow buttons to contrast the purple.

I’ve dyed more yarn than I need so I’ve decided to sell some on Etsy. I’m not looking to become a master yarn producer/dyer but if it helps supplement my yarn addiction hobby, then I will be happy.

It feels good to pop in and say hello. Happy Thursday, friends.

p.s. I forgot to mention that I’ve started experimenting with new scents for my homemade deodorant. I used to use only tea tree oil, but I became bored with that scent and decided to branch out. My newest batch was Lavender and Mandarin Orange. Anyone else experiment with homemade deodorant? What is your favorite recipe/scent combo?