Sometime in April.

I believe spring has sprung. The weather is warming up, we spring cleaned the bedrooms, and a delightfully spring-y colored pair of socks has fallen off of my needles.

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These are my April rainbow socks, pair #4 in my rainbow box o’sox. The yarn is from Kntitterly Things, from the 2017 Rainbow of the Month Club. This is the April colorway, called “Sometime in April.” I love them. They are so pretty and pastel and wonderful.

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I get a fair number of questions about how I knit my socks, so let’s talk details. For stripey socks, I have a pretty standard recipe. I cast on 64 stitches using a 2.00 mm (US 0) needle, either magic loop or a 9″ circular. I will say that if you are new to knitting socks, it might take a bit of experimentation to find a good fit for your foot and leg. I experimented quite a bit before I settled on this needle and stitch count. I know it works for me with pretty much any standard sock yarn (around 400 yards to 100 grams).

As for the actual construction, I knit top them top down, starting with a German Twisted cast on. I knit a 2×2 ribbed cuff, at least 15 rows, maybe more depending on where the stripes fall. I knit a straight sock tube until it measures between 11″ and 13″ from the cast on edge, again depending on the length of the stripe repeat, how the stripes fall, and how I’m feeling about finishing fast. I decrease for the toe and kitchener, then cut in heels a la the Kirbywirby video–check out that video, this method is my favorite for an afterhtough heel. I decrease for the heel identically to the toe, kitchener, and done!

For this pair, I used one of the alternative decrease methods from Susan B. Anderson’s Smooth Operator Socks. That pattern is a veritable encyclopedia of sock knitting ideas and methods, I’ve referenced it a lot.

You might know that I love knitting socks, I could write about them all day. I’ll just leave you with one more picture of these beauties and we can get on with things.

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Moving right along, I’ve got a new cast on! I just felt like casting on something new, so I did.  I am enjoying everything about it.

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This is the beginning of my Windswept, a pattern by Molly Klatt of A Homespun House. I have had this pattern in my queue, the yarn in my stash, and the shawl on my mind for quite a while. I was finally enabled by Chelsea, of Legacy Fiber Artz, on her latest Naptime Shortie. I am so glad that I cast this shawl on. I’m knitting it out of Quince & Co. Chickadee in the Peacock colorway, which I purchased last fall at the outset of my wardrobe architect project.

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The combination of the color, the yarn, and the texture pattern is giving me life. I just want to knit this all of the time.

Happy making!

Progress.

Over the last week – week and a half, I have done a few things. One was to go to Columbus for work. It’s a great city to visit for a work trip, by the way. I had a great time.

But before that, last weekend after finishing my half moon oracle shawl, I worked on socks. During D&D I finished one, but then did something crazy… I cast on a different for a different pair of socks.

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That April rainbow was just calling to me. I don’t tend to get second sock syndrome though, so I still went forward with the first pair–even if I knit a stripe or two here and there. I kept knitting on them on my trip, though it felt as if they would never end.

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But, as all socks do if you keep knitting them, they did end at some point. As I do at home, I woke up early on the trip for some coffee and knitting time each morning. One morning, I put the toe in the second sock, and voila!

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Now that they’re home, photographed in my traditional manner, the leftover yarn weighed and logged, and tucked away into my light box o’sox–they are truly finished.

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The main yarn is Oh! Loops on the Ascot base in the Nerds colorway. I did a contrast toe in a mini from Nikki Slipp.

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Once I finished that pair, it was full steam ahead on the rainbow socks. I’m absolutely dying over these. This pastel-rainbow, Easter-eggy goodness is just too much.

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By the time we boarded the plane home, I was ready for the decreases. It’s a 49-minute flight and I had just enough time to knit the toe before we landed.

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Last night, I kitchenered that sucker and wove in the ends. I managed to cast on the second, but didn’t even get through the first round before getting too sleepy to do anything else.

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While I was gone, my sauerkraut kept on krauting. It’s getting nicely hot pink now, but I tasted it and it’s still got a ways to go before it’s ready.

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Before I left for the trip, I did cast on one little thing. My Madewell! I’m down past separating for the sleeves so we’re moving along pretty well.

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All in all, I’m getting some good knitting squeezed in these days. And now that I’ve returned to Maryland, it seems spring is finally starting to take hold. I can’t wait for my next outside project!

Happy making!

Half Moon Oracle

Let’s have a wee story. Last year, on the eve of Maryland Sheep & Wool, I went to a pop-up shop at The Knot House. There, I met the lovely Carol, dyer behind Swift Yarns, and promptly fell in love with her yarn.

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I picked out a soft pink to make a single skein, lacy something, and a hot pink and a speckle for a two color shawl. As Carol took the picture above, she told me that she thought those three would look great together. Internally, I scoffed a bit. I knew these were destined for separate projects, that the three together just wouldn’t work for me.

And yet. That though of all three of them together stuck with me. I tried to follow my first instinct but nothing seemed to strike a chord. And then, the Half Moon Oracle was slated to be released. Beautiful and perfect for three colors with a bit of contrast. I had a hard time waiting for it though, and cast on something else in the meantime. But that didn’t stick either.

I kept coming back to these three colors in a Half Moon Oracle. And so I did it. I ripped back the first project, and cast the new one on, knit on it slowly, a section here and there until full on obsession hit about two weeks ago.

 

I finished it Friday and wove in the ends and blocked it on Saturday. It blocked out ginormous. I don’t often talk about blocking but what a magical step. From this:

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To this!

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I used blocking wires along the top and then pinned out the edge as suggested in the pattern. I was pretty aggressive with the lace, too. The shape could be a bit more circular on the edge, but I don’t think you can tell when it’s on. Oh my heavens. I don’t think it can be stood. I think this is the brightest and most fun shawl that I own. I was a little worried that the hot pink would be too much, but who am I kidding? That hot pink is everything.

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Pattern:  Half Moon Oracle by Kristen Lehrer

Yarn: Swift Yarns, Swift Simple – 100% Superwash Merino single ply

  • Color A – Tropical Vintage (speckle)
  • Color B – Marilyn (hot pink)
  • Color C – Princess Bride (soft pink)

I am absolutely smitten. The pattern is very well written and easy to follow. This was also my first foray into knitting with singles and I am looking forward to getting my hands on more! I can’t wait to wear this beauty out, it’s such a happy shawl!

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Spoiler alert, in a few weeks I’ll be visiting the pop-up shop again and plan to make another stop over at the Swift Yarn wall. I can’t wait to see what color combination I definitely won’t knit this year!

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Happy Making!

The waiting is the hardest part.

Since I’ve been home from our spring break trip, I’ve been itching for my favorite parts of spring and summer. Fresh veggies, farmer’s markets, canning… you get the gist. All the way home, I expected it to be time to get planting and time to hit up the farmer’s markets. Maryland is hot, right? Surely the produce stand would be teeming with plants ready to come home with me.

Of course, none of this was the case. It is chilly and early spring-y, the last frost is still a week away, and our county farmer’s markets don’t start till May. After this news, I spent a bit of time planning out my prosective container garden but it would seem that there are only so many ways one can make lists of plants. And so, I finished up the last ten rows and bound off my Half Moon Oracle shawl.

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Ugh, it’s so pretty. The shawl is blocking now, and I can’t wait to wear it.

With that done, I still had some time on my hands this week. To occupy myself, I thought I’d clean up the kitchen to get ready for the canning. I started and had a difficult time stopping. I won’t bore you with all the details but even the freezer got cleaned out. I reorganized my canning accoutremont and have some pretty cabinets and clean jars all ready to go.

With all of that finished, I still felt like preserving something. Anything. And so I turned to sauerkraut. A quick pick up of some cabbage and I was ready to go. My favorite kraut from last year was a recipe from Ferment Your Vegetables, Ava’s Hot Pink Kraut.

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I shredded my cabbage and salted it, and started working it.

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After some elbow grease, time, and more elbow grease, it was ready to start packing.

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To pack the would-be kraut into the jar, you need to really tamp it down. As you’re going along it kind of looks like there is no way it will all fit. To help get the job done, I use a “Pickle Packer” and I love it. It really makes the job easier.

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Once all the cabbage was in, I added the weight:

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And finally, the airlock.

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And now, we wait. That seems to be my destiny around here. Wait for warmer weather, wait for the shawl, wait for the kraut. At least I have a sock to knit.

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Happy making!

Side Quest: Catch the Buzz

If you play video games, a la Legend of Zelda, you may know that sometimes a little side quest becomes one of your favorite things. Not the original intent of your journey, but something amazing you did along the way. I recently recounted Joshua and I’s spring break trip. The goal was simple, spend quality time with family and friends back home.

At Judge and Crystal’s house, part of that time meant a mini-road trip to pick up a very special package. And so our very own side quest was born. We started off with a fortifying breakfast at an amazing local restaurant and headed down the mountain. After about an hour, we arrived at our destination: Brushy Mountain Bee Farm.

That’s right. Bee farm. Crystal (my sister-in-law) ordered bees for her birthday a few months ago and they had finally arrived. We drove down to pick them up and I had a blast poking around the farm store and grounds while Crystal and Judge conducted actual business.

The store was fantastic and had a lot of educational material, too. I purchased a praline scented beeswax candle, mostly because it’s the best smell I’ve ever experienced. Eventually we made it outside to pick up the actual bees.

 

Nothing quite like riding an hour and a half home with 10,000 bees in the car. Anytime the car went around a tight curve, the buzzing got more intense! We headed straight home and got started on moving the bees into their new home. I played photojournalist, so I thought you might check out the process.

Please note, this blog post is anecdotal and my recounting of my own observations. For information on beekeeping, do what Judge and Crystal did–contact your local extension office. In their area, they have a bee-meeting on the first Tuesday of the month. Check it out!

Judge walked me through the hive construction:

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The sections with the frames are called supers – this is where the bees live.

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Judge and Crystal built the frames and installed the foundation, made of wax – the bees will build the honeycomb onto these foundations.

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The top section is the feeder – the bees can crawl up under the mesh and eat sugar water poured into the sides. They need to be fed since they have no honey stores and foraging isn’t quite in full swing.

After that, Crystal set to work moving the bees from their box to their new hive. The first  step was to remove a couple of the frames to provide the bees a space to enter en masse. Next, she opened up the box, removed the queen and installed her, and removed the travel feeder.

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After that, Crystal gave the bees a good thunk to loosen the big clump they were in and  quickly dumped them into the hive. This was probably my favorite part to watch.

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Once most of the bees were in the hive, she tilted the box up near the entrance. The bees can find their way to the other bees by pheromones. Before sealing the box back up, Crystal had to very gently reinsert the foundations.

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With that, she used a bee-brush to move any stragglers out of harm’s way before adding the feeder, feeding them, and closing up the hive.

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Once the hive was closed, we cleaned up and left the bees alone. For the past few days, they have been foraging, starting to turn the hive into a home, and working to free the queen.

Bees are so fascinating. Their hive structure and how they function as a group is really interesting, I learned a lot from Crystal. This was such a fun experience, I’m really grateful to them that they let us be a part of it. Over the rest of our time at Judge and Crystal’s, everyone wanted to visit the bees over and over. I think Crystal even had coffee up there with them.

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Bees are makers of the highest order and Crystal’s bees are hard at work. I can’t wait to visit again in a few months and see how they’re doing.

Spring Break

This past weekend, Joshua and I took a road trip back home to visit with our family for his spring break. Very little actual knitting occurred, but that’s ok. We had the loveliest long weekend. Fair warning, lots of gushing and fun pictures ahead.

Kevin and Astra were going to visit some of their family, so the plan was to leave as soon as we dropped them off at the airport. Before heading out, there was coffee and selfies–Joshua had to show that he’s taller than me.

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We got out the door by 4:30 a.m., dropped Kevin and Astra off at the airport and headed straight to my mom’s.

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We picked her up and whisked her away to my brother’s house. The day before, Mom had texted me asking if I could teach her to knit socks and if so, did I have any yarn. Well, we all know that I have some yarn, so I set out to make her a sock knitting kit.

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All the things needed to knit a pair of socks. If you’re curious, she wound up knitting with the HiyaHiya’s–a woman after my own heart. She’s already a knitter, so we were really learning sock construction and knitting magic loop.

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She’s now done with the ribbing, and after much discussion will be proceeding to knit a sock tube. The plan is that when I’m down for Joshua’s birthday in May, we’ll learn about cutting in a heel.

I did a wee bit of sock knitting, by the fire:

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Late at night, with Hendrix the kitty:

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And even on a mini road trip we took, more on that here:

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All in all, I managed to just knit the heel and gusset over the course of the trip:

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I’ll be honest, some mornings, the most fulfilling thing to do was wake up early for a fireside cup of coffee in my pj’s and a little chat with Judge and Crystal:

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Joshua spent a fair bit of his time learning and practicing guitar with Uncle Judge:

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Seeing that just squeezes my little heart. I found a bit of my own inspiration, in the form of seedlings:

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Judge and Crystal’s tomatoes sprouted while we were there. On our first night, this little hexie landscape was bare dirt and a few days later… plants! After a lot of brainstorming with Crystal, looking in their gardening books, and encouragement from Judge, I’ve decided to try a back porch herb garden once again. Maybe with some lettuce. And tomatoes…

We’re back home now, and I’m just teeming with ideas. As spring is springing, I’m thinking about my potential herb garden, canning, fermenting, and general “putting up.” Not to mention itching to get back to my knitting and cast on a new sweater.

All in all it was a wonderful trip. Other things of note included an impromptu Easter party and egg hunt and I even snuck out to Johnson City to see my best friends! Joshua and I had a great time on the drive there and back again, and it filled my heart to get to visit with friends and family. Joshua even brought a (borrowed) souvenir home for a bit more practice.

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Happy making {music}!