4 FOs

Hey look – I have a few more things finished!

This is my Qiviut that I was spinning a few weeks ago. I’m calling this a finished item because it now looks like actual yarn. I’m still thinking about what I’m going to make with it. I have 235 yards of a heavy lace / light fingering weight yarn. Any suggestions?

20161030_144712

Socks. This is my third pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks.

20161030_111156

Love. Them.
Seriously, if you don’t have a pair go cast some on!

I didn’t show this last week with the rest of my work basket tour but it’s been lying around for a while now. I think this is the first thing I’ve ever knit – and finished using my hand spun yarn. I’m pretty impressed with myself for getting something even enough to consider measuring gauge.

20161030_202139

The yarn is a handspun made up of Yak, Merino and Silk. How decadent is that!

20161106_132320

This blend came from Noble Fibre Mill in Almonte and the pattern is Alhambra by Anne Hanson of Knitspot fame. You can purchase this pattern from here. I’ve made this scarf several times; usually to give as a gift but I do have another version of it for me made of cashmere and silk. This is the great joy of knitting (and spinning frankly). I can knit the lux things I can’t afford to buy and in the case of the qiviut, I can’t even afford to buy the yarn – but I can spin it.

And lastly, I have a cowl to show you. The yarn is called Alpaca 60 by Estelle Yarns and it fell into my bag while browsing in the yarn shop last weekend. I have no idea how these things happen.

20161112_205731

Anyway, this is quite a bulky yarn and I don’t often knit with bulky so I’m always so surprised at how quickly things knit up with it. This cowl was a few hours of pretty mindless knitting and then it was done.

20161114_130133

The colours in the second picture are closer to true. My initial thought was that these aren’t my colours and that I was going to give the cowl away as a Christmas gift but the more I look at it (and touch it – oh, this is gloriously soft), I think I might keep it for myself.

Reframing November

For most of my adult life, I’ve really struggled with November. It’s cold, dark, rainy and generally unpleasant. There are no major holidays or festivals and nothing to look forward to. It’s an endurance test on the way to December – which is still cold and dark, but the snow which is usually on the ground helps to brighten things up, there are Christmas lights everywhere and of course, there is Christmas to look forward to.

But to get there you have to get through November.

20161102_073350

I’m not alone in this sentiment – as I was flipping through Instagram this morning, I noticed there are a lot of people with the same opinion. So I’m going to try something different. This year, I’m reframing November.

Reframing is a term I’ve heard a few times recently – typically in business literature to mean looking at a problem from a different point of view; to see how you can turn that problem into an opportunity. If you want more detail on what I’m talking about, Tara Swiger has a great podcast that you can hear here.

Shortly after I heard this podcast, I listened to Truly Myrtle talking about November. Her opinion is totally different than mine for a variety of reasons. She is planning a month of spoiling herself and encouraging listeners to do the same. Frankly, it sounded like a lovely idea.

So I’m going to put these two ideas together. Rather than treat November as an endurance test, I’m going to reframe it and treat it as ‘me’ time. A whole month for me. This is made much easier because my partner is away for the first two weeks and my son is old enough that so long as there is food on the table each night, he doesn’t really care what I do. So the focus is on the little things I can do to help buoy my spirits and stay happy. Self-care of body, mind and spirit.

This isn’t about ‘drink 8 glasses of water a day’ or ‘limit alcohol’ though they are both undeniably good things to do for ourselves. I’m thinking more along the lines of re-establish a journaling practice, getting into a routine with yoga. Permitting time to sit and do nothing – and not feel guilty about it. Planning and doing some prep work for meals on days when I work from home so the days when I’m in the office much of the work for dinner is already done. That kind of stuff. I also have a goal to have all my Christmas shopping done by the end of November to alleviate that pressure in December. Since I do a lot of shopping online or in the little towns outside Ottawa, this is actually a do-able thing.

I’ll be posting shorter updates through November to let you know how this is going. If you have any ideas to share about this, I’d love to hear from you.

WIP Update

I have nothing so dramatic as the newly completed Bear Lake Pullover to share this week, but making and creating continues. There are three projects on the go right now: a pair of socks, a baby cardigan and some spinning.

Lets start with the spinning – gosh, this one is so exciting to me. Looks kinda dull and boring eh?

dsc_0134

Actually, it’s Qiviut. Never heard of Qiviut? It’s the softer-than-cashmere, down from Arctic musk-ox. Yes, it’s also crazy expensive and everything they say about it is absolutely true. This is a bag of soft. Is that a thing? I don’t know but that’s the sensation when I touch the roving. This preparation came from Noble Fibre Mill just down the road in Almonte and I’m really pleased with it. The current plan is to make this into a two ply yarn that will become some fluffy, lacy neck thing. I know – not painting much of a picture with that but honestly, the fibre hasn’t quite told me about what it wants to be.

What else do I have? I have this adorable little cardigan.

img_20160809_123757

The pattern is called Jessica by Linda Whaley (Rowan) and I’m actually using the recommended yarn for the knit! Does anybody else do that? I don’t normally – I have a substantial stash so I often shop there first and fudge the numbers if my gauge isn’t quite right – but I’m just so pleased with how this looks that I just might use recommended yarn a little more often! I’m knitting this for a little miss who is due to make her debut at the end of November. This is a 6 – 9 month size so I was hoping she could wear it next spring or summer. That said, it looks awfully small to me. We’ll see how it goes. It may end up being a layering piece this winter.

This knit was the first time I’ve ever used a picot cast on and I have to say, I’m smitten with it. It’s kinda fussy and I’m not usually one for frills (hazards of being a boy mother) but I really do adore the little bit of flounce on this cardi.

20160807_161151-2

And lastly, there is a pair of socks. The pattern is Hermione’s Everyday Socks and you can download it here for free. These are made using a traditional top down, flap-heel construction and this is the third time I’ve knit these socks. I like how the pattern is simple enough that it’s a relaxing knit but isn’t boring.

img_20161020_221118

But mostly, I like how these socks fit. Do you have a favourite sock pattern? Drop me a note and tell me about it!

Bear Lake Pullover

I’m so pleased with this! Really, I can’t say enough good things about it. This was one of those knits which was started on an impulse, I picked what I thought would be a good yarn out of the stash and after a halfhearted gauge swatch, I cast on. The knitting Gods smiled and the whole thing worked. Don’t ask me what the yarn is, I don’t know. I bought it 10 years ago in a bag with no label, just a lot number from a going-out-of-business shop in Ballarat Australia. I’m pretty sure it is mostly if not all merino.

img_20160903_123719

The whole thing knit up quite quickly and my son is thrilled to have a new sweater.

20160906_173943

I did an initial fitting for this right off the needles and while I knitted exactly to gauge (no really – I did – stitch AND row! I was so excited!),  I found the fit a little off for my son. I’m a big fan of Amy Herzog’s Fit to Flatter and frequently adjust patterns for myself, but it’s been a long time since I’ve knit a sweater for him. Come to think of it, it hasn’t actually been that long but while he was growing the way only a teenage boy can, I wasn’t about to knit him something he would outgrow before I finished the first sleeve.

october-13-2016-015

I don’t know why it never occurred to me to actually measure him and compare with the schematic – I did a chest measurement to select a size but that was it. He’s tall and thin with long slender arms. I’m happy with the fit of the body but I really should have adjusted the arms. I may yet take them off and re-knit them to be longer and narrower.

20161023_150404-2
On the other hand, blocking fixes a lot of problems.

If you want to knit this too, the pattern is in Fall 2016, Interweave Knits or can be downloaded from Ravelry.

Apples

You’ll never believe this but I have to share it with you all. We’ve lived in this house for 5 years and in the past three weeks, we’ve found two apple trees on our property. Not little sticks-with-two-leaves kind of trees, but enormous have-been-there-for-a-hundred-years kind of trees.

In my defense, we have 6 acres and the fence line is somewhat overgrown. One of the trees was found almost in the ditch on the road (OK – this is a relatively small tree) and the other was found on the back fence, crowded by all kinds of scrub. This isn’t a small tree. The trunk is bigger around than I am. We’ve also collected windfall from one of the neighbours who has different apples. We now have a lot of apples.

october-13-2016-020
That’s a lot of apples

I can only make so much apple crisp or pie and I’m not a great fan of applesauce but I love cider! And – it just so happens that we have a cider press we got at auction about a year ago. I’ve never made cider but I have made beer so I have an idea what the process is and I have buckets, carboys, pressure valves, bottles and all the assorted bits and pieces necessary for brewing in the kitchen.

october-13-2016-025
Cider Press – with the barrel upside down!

Now the thing about buying items at auction is you may or may not get all the original parts. Pieces from different machines may end up together in a lot and we discovered – after much cranking, and cursing, that the hopper/grinder we have is for grapes. Not apples. After much trial and error, we’ve discovered a relatively good way of prepping the apples for the press and slowly, we’ve figured out how to do this.

We’re now at the stage where we have one primary fermenter active and a second will be added to it shortly. One batch will be a sweet, still cider and the other will be drier and sparkling. It should all be ready in time for Christmas!

Reboot

I’ve started and stopped blogging a few times. I’m not sure why I stopped the first time – I suspect it was because life just got away from me – but the second time it was because I didn’t have a focus.

I’ve given this some thought, and learned a bit. Actually, I’ve learned a lot. Learned about myself, what matters to me, what I want to share (without oversharing ’cause nobody likes that) and even a little bit about photography. I’m still not great with a camera, but I’m better than I used to be.

So what do I do? I knit, I spin and I weave. I run, am new to yoga and I have a big garden. I live in an old stone house in what had once been a major center of textile production in Ontario and am keenly interested in the return of local fibre production. I’d like to use this space to spread the word on what is happening in my area.

Welcome to the reboot.