Casting On

I cast on another project this week.  I'm knitting a sweater just for me.  I can't believe in all my knitting, that I've never knit a sweater for myself.  Knitting for me, it's my new thing this year.

The main yarn is Cascade 220 in dark charcoal and the color work is a merino base from Knit Picks that I kettle dyed a deep chartreuse.  I love the contrast of the dark and light.

I based the color work off this pattern I designed a couple of years ago, for a pair of custom longies.  It's always been one of my favorites, but I didn't want to do a whole sweater in armenian knitting again, so I reworked the pattern.  Now, I only have to carry colors a reasonable 5 stitches.  Here's a great article on armenian knitting, if you're not familiar with this technique.

I'm also knitting on my squares for the log cabin blanket.  Three squares down, and only twenty one to go.  If it wasn't for all the color changes, it would be an incredibly boring knit.  Fortunately, it makes for perfect car knitting or hand work while visiting with friends.

What are you working on this week?

Joining in with Ginny.
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In the Shop

I'm going to try something new in this space.  Instead of filling up every post with new items for the shop, I'm going to share them all in Monday's post.  It's kind of exciting to see what we've accomplished in the week and I think it will be helpful to keep me on task.  I love to create, but I'm not always good at getting things listed on etsy.

This weekend, we had a snow (sleet) storm that keep us all inside.  While the boys played with water balloons in the tub (It's great fun for cabin fever!), I made some birch branch buttons and a sweet little set of valentine sentiments.  Luke put them in our bowl of rocks, because, he said, he loves rocks.

We're also trying to eliminate the use of paper in as many products as possible, so from now on we'll be packaging most everything in cotton muslin drawstring bags.  They're made of Mill Cloth, which is fabric made here in the United States using virgin cotton.  This means that the cotton is minimally processed and the bags contain no toxic substances.  It's not perfect, but it's a start.  They're reusable, and that's so important to us!

Wishing you all a wonderful start to the week~
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Make Love: A Valentine Knitting Kit

I've been wanting to make more kits for a long time now.  I made some egg kits last spring and they were a huge hit!  I've got so many ideas, but the first to make it's debut in our Etsy Shop is the Valentine Knitting Kit.  It's quick, fun, and handmade with love.

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Knitting Pattern: Chakra Cowl

photo by Juliana

More knitting just for me.  It's therapeutic.  One of my favorite fiber artists, Juliana, spun this yarn last year.  When she posted it on facebook I knew it had to be mine.  I had no earthly idea what I was going to do with one small skein of  hand spun art yarn, but sometimes you just know.  It's 100 yards of thick and thin (mostly thick) hand dyed merino.  The colors are gorgeous.  I love bright colors.  I left it on the table to look at for a really long time and then decided to stash it away.  I was recently digging through said stash and it jumped right out at me.  Chakra Spin.  It's ironic, isn't it.

I made it into a cowl.  What better way to use a small skein of handspun than to make a thick, cozy, and stylish accessory.  To make your own, download the FREE pattern now:

FREE Ravelry Download

I almost forgot to add that Mike made the wood buttons for me for Christmas, and we should have some in the shop in a few days!

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We must have climbed that hill a hundred times yesterday.  Just me and my baby, under the warm winter sun.  This boy makes me laugh like no other.  

Wishing you a very happy weekend~
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Plant Dyed Yarn

Plant dye results from yesterday...

:: Sumac on superwash merino wool.  Alum mordant.  Iron after bath.

: :Sumac on superwash merino wool.  Alum mordant.  No after bath.

The top two photos show their most true color.  Both had a green tone that was hard to capture properly.  In the bottom photo, you can see how different they are when placed side by side.  Here, the light was beginning to wane and cast a delightful warm peachy glow across the fiber.

Today, I found some berries in the woods where Luke and I went sledding.  I think we may go back and pick a basket full to see what color they will create.  It won't be for the blanket, or maybe it will.  I never was very good at following rules.  Even my own.

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Natural Dyes: Staghorn Sumac

I've got another new project in the works.  One morning over coffee, a bag full of newly plant dyed yarn, and log cabin squares my friend said, "Wouldn't it be wonderful to make a blanket for your new house using yarn you've dyed with plants found around your homestead?"  She's a genius, my friend.  So that's what I'm going to do.  Another way to connect myself to the earth, flow with the seasons and mark each new phase of our homesteading life.  It feels so right.

I don't have any specifics on patterns yet.  Whether I'll make up my own or use the log cabin squares again, I think we'll just wait and see what the yarn wants to become.

For the first plant, I'm using what I have on hand.  A box of Staghorn Sumac that Mike picked for me along the river bank last fall; before the tops turned brown and the air turned cold.  I'm amazed how well they held their color.  I wish the yarn would turn this dreamy shade of pink, but I'm no fool.  It will be some shade of warm brown.  Beautiful still in all it's earthy goodness.

Plant Name:  Staghorn Sumac

Location:  Steep sloping river bank behind our land.  Full sun.

Harvest Date:  Mid fall


:: Not surprising, it smells like tea when cooking. (It is an edible plant.  The tops can be made into a refreshing pink lemonade type drink.)

:: Dye pot had mineral build up on bottom from boiling hot bath water.  I didn't bother to clean it off and may have affected color.

:: Lightly boiled plant material for 2 hours

:: Let plant material sit overnight

:: Strained out organic matter

:: Soaked yarn (superwash merino worsted) overnight in alum solution.

:: Added yarn to dye pot and simmered for 2 hours

:: Turned off heat and let soak overnight

::  Hand washed with home made soap

::  Rolled out excess water in towel and left to air dry

::  Next day, I divided the skein into two smaller skeins and soaked one in an iron after bath.

::  Washed and dryed as above.

This is going to be so exciting!  I'll post pictures tomorrow of the results.

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Log Cabin (fever) Blanket

Hello friends.  It's been a while, eh.  (That's my best fake Wisconsin accent.)  Even as I sit down to type this, I'm having trouble finding the right words to express myself.

The truth is I've been out of sorts.  Not quite depression, but more than usual cabin fever or the seasonal blues.  The gray area in between where I just didn't feel like myself.  Tired and sullen all the time.  Too tired even to knit.  For two days, I didn't talk to anyone.  It started a few days before New Years and has lingered much longer than I would've liked.  I couldn't seem to overcome it with the usual remedies of visiting friends, funny movies, or good food.

Then one day last week, it clicked.  I needed to stop fighting it and just give in.  To listen to what my body was trying to tell me.  To follow my instincts and heal.

I went to the woods.

I feel so much better now.  I realized I haven't spent any time outside this winter, and I need it.  Every day.  The fresh air clears my head and lets my thoughts flow freely.  I've finally begun to feel my usual excitement of the new year begin to stir inside me.  Plans for the homestead, new projects, new places to visit.  All the possibilities ahead of us.

I'm knitting again, too.  A friend and I started the Log Cabin Blanket last summer as a kal.  She has 12 squares done, and I have well, one.  I'm not very good at knitting things for myself (non business related), and decided this needs to change too.  With it's small size, bright colors, and square corners, this makes for a very gratifying project.  Maybe by next year, I'll have it finished.  To wrap me in warmth and remind me of how to heal.

(Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along.)

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12 Days of Solstice: Day 12

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