Like bees.

We have been a wee bit busy around our household. Typically we don’t do much in September, leaving that time to get back in the swing of things with the new school year. Such has not been the case this September, though! We’ve had friends over to stay and have taken the first of two trips to Tennessee for the month.

With all of that, I haven’t had a terrible lot of time for making. Lets have a bit of a recap in pictures, shall we? That always helps me get up to speed and back in the swing of things, blog-wise.

First up, I wore my Hollyburn to work! I was a bit nervous, since this is not my usual style, but I loved it.

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Void progress, about halfway through the border.

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Joshua earned his red belt!

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Two weekends ago, some wonderful friends of ours came to stay over Labor Day weekend. It was also the first weekend of college football, so Kevin and I were up early and decked out:

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Of course, it was also September 1, so I cast on my next pair of rainbow socks:

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We headed over to Savage Mill to do a little walking and lunch before game time. We walked through an antique shop and I stumbled across this amazing quilt. Entirely hand-pieced and hand-quilted, the craftmanship was excellent. I was tempted to take this beauty home with me, but resisted.

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On Sunday, we got up bright and early and headed down to D.C. for a museum day. We had a blast and even managed a picture of the whole group!

Labor day morning, I was up early for some quiet binding off time with my Void.

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It’s all finished now, but I still haven’t blocked it! That might show you just how we’ve been running around, I’m usually pretty quick on the turn around with blocking.

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School started for the kids, who were very excited to take pictures together in the yard at 7 a.m. Just kidding, there was a lot of groaning involved.

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We had several appointments that week, which afforded me some sock knitting time.

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And then, this last weekend, we took a road trip down to Knoxville to take the kids to their very first Vols game. Once again, we were up bright and early to get our orange on and head to campus for gameday festivities.

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We saw all the sights Kevin wanted to see and the kids even had fun at the game, lightning delay and all! A very good day, indeed.

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On Sunday, I finally slept in late. It was glorious. I resolutely parked my rear end on the couch to indulge in an entire day of football and sock knitting. The socks went better than the game did. I had to cast on a new pair, since I evidently can’t knit a heel while watching Roethlisberger throw a million interceptions.

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On the way home, I put heels in both socks before it was my turn to drive.

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Now we’re home, mostly recovered from all the fun, and I have one completed sock. This yarn, by the way, is Autumnal Equinox by Knitterly Things. The other sock, above, is Petal by Baerenwolle–sadly, she doesn’t dye yarn anymore so no link to be had.

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It’s been a fun month so far. We’re going to a concert and a wedding still yet, so the fun hasn’t stopped. In the meantime, I’m hoping to put some stitches down on my WIPs.

Happy making!

 

Knitcation: sweater accomplished.

Well, I did it. I knit a sweater over the weekend. To be fair, it was a long weekend. With Kevin and Astra heading out of town, I took the day off on Friday and crafted myself a wee knitcation. Joshua certainly didn’t mind, he was busy with camp, bike riding, and as many video games as he could con me into allowing.

I cast on Thursday evening and really got moving. I didn’t stay up too late but got the back and one of the front pieces finished.

 

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I woke up Friday morning to take Joshua to camp and came home and settled in to knit the other front piece. Once that was finished, I discovered that I had missed an increase on the right side and so I ripped back and reknit it correctly. I joined to knit the body and had it going pretty well. By the time I went to bed that night, I was just past the waist decreases.

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Since I was lengthening the sweater, I had worked out a lot of math about adjusting the waist shaping. Sometime on Friday night, I decided that it was going to be too tight at my waist and hips, so I re-math-ed on the fly. I decided to do even less waist shaping and no hip increases. At this point, I had mixed feelings about being able to finish by Sunday night. I had thought I would be farther along by this time but Joshua motivated me along. He said that even if I didn’t finish it by Sunday, I’d be really close.  And no matter what, in the end, I’d have a sweater. And that would be awesome. And so on Saturday morning, I pressed on.

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As I kept working up the body and trying it on, I decided that maybe it did need a bit of hip shaping. So once again, I re-math-ed. I added in some hip increases and finally bound off the body in the afternoon.

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I started to get pretty excited about the sweater and picked up the stitches for the first sleeve. Joshua and I watched a movie and I powered on and stayed up a bit too late, but finished the sleeve.

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Come Sunday morning, I felt like a rockstar. I just knew that I’d have the sleeve and the button band done by the time we went to the airport at 5. I knit the second sleeve, no problems, maybe even a bit faster than the first. And then I started picking up stitches for the button band. Of course, I had lengthened the sweater considerably, so there were a good deal more stitches to pick up. I also really hate picking up button band stitches–I have to remember to do a selvedge stitch there and save myself some heartache next time. At any rate, I got them picked up and knit the first row of ribbing.

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At this point, I had 2 hours until time to leave for the airport. I had thought I could power through, but I had not eaten and my hands were just… tired. The sweater got pretty heavy in the end–wrestling it around for ribbing was not exactly quick and easy.  So I took a break. Made myself lunch, scrolled through instagram, relaxed. And as I was relaxing, Kevin texted to say his flight was delayed. Fine, I thought, I’ll knit a row. His flight was delayed a bit more… another row. You see where this is going. When he texted to say they were finally departing, I texted right back to say I had finished the sweater.

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I wove in the ends before we headed out to the airport and gave the sweater a bath while Kevin recapped his weekend. It’s still on the blocking mats now, things take forever to dry in our frigid basement. Once it’s done, I’ll post some proper pictures and all the details of my modifications and whatnot. If you’re curious now, feel free to check out my project page.

This was a fun experience. Very challenging, but fun. I definitely spent every free minute knitting for about 72 hours. Fun to do for a weekend, but a little too much even for me. The focus and motivation to work with such dedication on one project was awesome. It feels great to have finished a sweater so quickly. It’s not something I’d focus on all the time–speed sweaters, as Kevin called it–but definitely a fun diversion. And I got a sweater out of it!

All in all, my own personal 4-day sweater challenge was fun. I can see the interest in doing it periodically–maybe next year I’ll take another knitcation and see what I can accomplish.

Happy making!

Knitcation: sweater edition.

This week, I am creating a long weekend for myself. I’ve got a bit of a personal challenge in mind, so I’m giving myself the time and space for it. By hook or crook, I’ve managed to map out minimal housework, the simplest of meals, and plenty of knitting time.

The challenge you ask? Try to knit a whole sweater. I’ve had the idea of a four-day sweater on my mind since I started swatching for the Beekeeper Cardigan a few weeks ago. I didn’t love that pattern, but the intrigue of challenging myself to channel all of my knitting energy into one big project over a short time has been irresistible.

Now, I know there are limitations to this sort of idea. I don’t know that I can knit a sweater in a long weekend, but I am trying to set myself up for success. So, fingering weight is out, major patterning or colorwork is out, oversized is out. What are we left with? A simple, worsted weight, fitted cardigan. Enter Marion.

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Image copyright Andi Satterlund.

Marion is a top-down, seamless cardigan. Knit in worsted weight yarn with a simple cable down the front, it seems to fit the bill nicely. I purchased my yarn and swatched it right up. I went down two needle sizes to start, and nearly fell over when I was right on gauge on the first swatch. That never happens to me!

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The yarn I’ll be using is KnitPicks Wool of the Andes, the yarn called for in the pattern. I wanted something that would really fit into my wardrobe, and work with lots of my clothes and other knit accessories, so I chose the Dove Heather colorway. I’m really loving this soft grey color.

On the subject of really fitting into my wardrobe, as much as I adore the vintage-y feel of the cropped at the waist look, I don’t think it will work with what I currently own. At some point, I would really love to have a trove of dresses that fit that silhouette, but I’m not there yet. With that in mind, I want a less cropped sweater. But that means altering the shaping since the extreme waist shaping for a cropped sweater doesn’t translate well for a longer shape.

I took out my current favorite cardigan and made some measurements to get an idea of how I want this one to fit. I found I’d need to lengthen the body by about 4 inches to have it fall where I’d like. I followed Andi Satterlund’s instructions for lengthening a cropped sweater and calculated my new decreases and increases.

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At this point, I’m all ready to cast on. The yarn is all wound up, I’ve read through the pattern and highlighted my size, and written out my modified shaping instructions. All that’s left to do is cast on, which is happening right after work on Thursday evening. I’m excited to see how much sweater I can knit by the time Sunday evening rolls around.

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}!

 

Year of Making: 2017.

On the first day of this year, I decided to commit to one small thing: “put energy into a making project every day.”

At first, that meant a conscious decision to sit down with a project every day. Sometimes it meant sleepily knitting a few rows before bed so that I would keep my commitment. As I went on, it became easier and easier. As I got more in the habit of doing something everyday, I found myself reaching for my projects more and more.

I’ve kept track of what I’ve worked on in a spreadsheet. I’ve been more than a little curious to see how the numbers would shake out. It’s no surprise that I spent 342 of the last 365 days knitting. I tend to reach for my knitting more than anything else. On 266 of those days, I worked on socks. I love knitting socks so it’s not much of a surprise that three quarters of my knitting days involved socks.

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I finished my box of socks a few months ago, but that didn’t stop me from continuing on. I’ve finished five more pairs of socks for myself since then. I love the look of them all laid out. This last pair was knit on Christmas vacation, so it hasn’t made it home to meet it’s new sock drawer mates.

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When I wasn’t knitting on socks, I knit up shawls, hats, mitts, and even a tiny owl for my mom. I’ve spent a significant bit of time cross stitching, quilting and sewing. There were even a few days of canning, fermenting, and crochet thrown in. Looking back it feels like a productive year:

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There is something about looking at a year’s worth of creating, thinking about how my hands knit every stitch, cut all the fabric, pitted every cherry. More than just the products of my hands though, my makes all feel like teeny time capsules, moments of my life molded into something tangible. Knitting socks at the beach with my family, figuring out how to sew my very first garment, picking cherries with Joshua.

Writing about everything has really crystallized that notion that there is a story in each of my makes. I love thinking about that and having the blog to look back at all of it.

Now that my year of making is coming to a close, I don’t believe I’m finished with it. I’m not sure that I will keep track of things daily like I have been, but that idea of putting “energy into a making project every day” still rings true for me. It’s exciting to think about a future full of years of making.

At any rate, I’ll be right here tomorrow, the first day of the new year, spending a bit of my day creating something.


Happy making!

Handmade Holiday

Happy holidays! I was a busy little bee over the last month or so, and now I can finally talk about what I’ve been up to!

I’ll try not to drone on and on, but you can always find more info about my knits on their respective project pages on Ravelry.

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My first holiday finish this year is a super squishy cowl for my mom. It’s the Fingering Brioche Bandana Cowl by Lavanya Patricella. I knit it out of two skeins of Barenwolle BAERfoot sock in the Pixie and Plum Tart colorways. I really love how it came out.

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Next up on the list is a shawl for my sweet sister-in-law, Crystal. The pattern is the Yowza Weigh It Shawl 3 by Susan B. Anderson. I knit this out of Miss Babs Yowza, in the Don’t Be Crabby colorway–the 2016 Maryland Sheep and Wool festival colorway. I’ve knit two of these for gifts so far and really have got to get around to making one for myself! It’s a great, simple and cozy shawl.

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After knitting a cozy hug for my mom, I really wanted to make something cozy for Kevin’s mom as well. Enter the Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho. I found a great chunky, ultra soft yarn in her colors and I was off. The yarn is Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Grande Hand Dye in color 28. This cowl is so squishy!

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I started this pair of quilts for Noah and Madelyn first, but finished them a little late in the game. There are full details in a blog post all about these two. I love how they came out and now I’m itching to finish the three lap quilts of mine sitting in my craft room.

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The very last make of the season is a pair of socks for my brother, Judge. These are my very first colorwork–they certainly won’t be my last–and I think they came out pretty smashing. No pattern, just my regular sock recipe. The yarn is Patons Kroy in the Flax and Muslin colorways.

I’ve been settled into a lovely and lazy holiday vacation for quite a few days now. There has been great food, exchanging gifts, and best of all, lots of time for spending with family. We still have a few days to go and I’m happy to report that my Christmas vacation socks are humming right on, even in the snow.

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Happy making and happy holidays!