Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Counting Down

I am looking forward to a nice quiet New Year if I can. Gus has been continuing with his problems off and on again. I wish I could figure out what it is about this time of year... other than old age that is.

Just to make myself feel better I put in a picture of a sheep I saw this summer. Is it just me or do sheep with dreadlocks just look more awesome?

I started and finished up doing my socks to leg warmer conversion for my Mother in Law. I was amazed to find it only took me a day or two. Now I just need to get them washed up, measured and sent off. I don't think they will be a miracle cure, but I bet they will make her legs just a bit warmer.

I am happy to tell you that I achieved some goals this year. I try to knit at least 12 pairs of socks a year, this year my final two pairs were underneath the Christmas tree. D and I both got new socks to wear on Christmas. Mom got a pair delivered to her, D got six pairs and my little tootsies got five pairs. I think that is the first time D got more socks than me. We may have to move him into a bigger sock drawer if this continues. 

My sock count was down because I knit myself three sweaters. I know! And they were all different styles too. Once I figured out how I needed to read the patterns in Ann Budd's Top Down Sweater book, my knitting took off. Well that and that I could really do short row shaping and come out with good sleeve caps, there was nothing to hold me back. 

I knit my Christmas tree four sweaters out of my hand spun yarn. Now I don't have to avoid D's eyes when we talk about hand spun yarn. My mind is mulling over some cowl patterns for some of my other hand spun. Plans for the new year, I am making them.

Over on Goodreads I challenged myself to read 35 books this year. I exceeded that goal with 53 books, I may even finish one more before the night is over. 23 of those I read with my eyes and the rest were audiobooks. No I don't listen to the same song playing on the radio anymore, I get immersed in stories instead. I've even been know to listen at work when no one else is around. 

I took some of my bonus from work and donated it to charity and some I gave myself permission to spend on me. I have such a hard time buying fun stuff for me without suffering guilt and angst. My stash of yarn would say otherwise but I really do have a hard time. I guess yarn is Ok because I turn it into something useable. This year I thought long and hard about what I really wanted and finally place the orders last night. It feels good. 

My feet have suffered through just shy of 560 miles of exercise this year. I know! I am pretty darn proud of myself!

All in all it was a pretty good year. I hope I feel this good next year at this time.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A woman with a plan

And I hope my plan works. Remember how I was going to make leg warmers for my MIL? But there were a few problems, no problems is too strong, let's go with issues.

I've never made leg warmers, I did not know what to ask for to get measurements and other things.

Back when I first started knitting I did what all newbies do. I knit without experience to guide me. I made knee high socks out of worsted weight wool on too small of needles. Working with that combo made my hands hurt so it was a really long time between the first sock and the second sock.

I think I wore them once for ten minutes before I realized how wrong they are. Fast forward a few years and I have half done leg warmers for my MIL. I am going to rip back the foot and reknit some ribbing, then BAM starter leg warmers!

This way she will have something this winter and not next winter, and we have a starting point to find out what works and what needs to change, without all that effort of a test pair. I'm going to take measurements once they're fiddled with and let D's Mom test them out. Actually it works out ok that one is wider than the other we will get a true test of which fits better. 

Now that I do have experience let me pass on something to a new knitter if they happen to read this. If you go into a bona fide yarn store and ask if the yarn in your hand would make good socks, assume no if the owner says "I've never had anyone ask me that about that yarn before."

It means a whole lot of other knitters with way more experience than you passed that project by, so should you. Ask the very helpful owner what yarn does make good socks instead. 

You'll save yourself some heartbreak and hand cramps. On the other hand you will not have half made leg warmers for your MIL, I let you decide which is better and which is just making the best of an inexperienced knitter situation. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Little Sweaters on my tree

Yeah, the sweater ornament knitting bug bit me hard. I used up a skein of hand spun making sweaters. Three and a half sweaters, all different but still nifty. Good thing I have another skein of hand spun to finish one more.

Hand spun yarn has a different feel than commercial yarns. I had places that the yarn was spun so tight that it was like knitting with thread. Other places it was unspun fluff. Luckily these areas seemed to match up most of the time and even things out.

I've taken some time off from little sweaters in order to finish some regular socks. I was hoping to knit at least 12 pairs this year and I just made it. Normally it is not even a contest but sweaters interrupted socks this year. In the most pleasant way possible.

I now have five sweaters to keep me toasty at work. Thanks to some summer and fall time knitting. That is up from a meager two last winter. Once you can knit your own woolies the store bought cotton just don't hold a candle.

And speaking of decorating the Christmas tree, Gus has claimed his rightful place of honor. For he is the greatest gift of all, at least according to him.

We had a bought of vomiting last weekend that made us all nervous. Luckily he responded well to the medication. D jokes that his name at the vet's office is "Christmas Bonus." He likes to sleep under the tree till the lights go off then he comes to bed and announces loudly that he has arrived. Who knew my boy was such a drama llama?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ugly sweater

Yep, I knit an ugly sweater on purpose. I finally figured out what to knit with some of my hand spun yarn. Yes that little confession at Rhinebeck telling Hubby that I have not knit anything with my hand spun yarn kicked me in the butt. 

I used some of the more outrageous colored yarn to knit up a wee ugly Christmas sweater for the tree. Odd thing is now, I really don't think it is that ugly. I would not want to wear it myself but truly ugly? Nope. It was super fun to knit once I figured out how to wrap my brain around the pattern. Sometimes you just have to think of what the pattern is telling you and change it into the way my brain thinks. It was not hard just not written the way I thought it would be.

I can see knitting more of these out of more hand spun, or I could knit my tree some mini mittens to go along with the sweater. Or better yet, I could finish a couple of second socks for the human feet in the family.

You see the choices us knitters have to make?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I make this look good

I've lost another shawl to Gus.

Well, it is not lost, just on permanent loan to the Big G-man.

What? It looks better on me anyways!

With Gus' illness and age he gets just about anything he wants around here. I even put up a Christmas tree for him today. OK fine I love Christmas trees too. 

Just a reminder to love our furry ones as long as we can. I was reminded of that this weekend. Just know the Yarnkettle household has been sending out sympathy vibes all weekend. Peace and healing. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tea Tour

While we were camping at Rhinebeck we took the opportunity to visit our favorite tea shop. Harney and Sons Fine Tea in Millerton. They are the people that wooed D over to becoming a tea drinker. You know I should probably send them a thank you note.

I came up with the wild idea to visit their tea shop over ten years ago. D went with me for the ride and studied the catalog to find his other true love Lapsong Souchong. I've converted a few people over to the Harney side of tea, although no one loves Lappy like D does. 

This time we had a nice lady refill a couple of tins and we tried a few new ones. We got to chatting and it turned out she was a knitter too. A sock knitter too, although she knits toe up and magic loop. She even laughed knowingly when I told her how I knew a car belonged to a knitter at the grocery store in Rhinebeck. Its license plate was K2 TOG, meaning knit two together in the world of knitting. Poor Hubby and another lady looked like we had started speaking German. We may not have developed a secret hand shake but we know how to read each other's plates.

We talked of Ravelry, sock knitting, knitting in bed and what her proxies were bringing her from Rhinebeck. She had to work the weekend but good knitting friends never leave a knitter yarnless.

D asked her about the big Harney and Sons building we had passed on our way into town. And get this, she asked us if we wanted a tour!? Yes Please! We happily made our purchases and headed back down the road.

Sadly the man who started it all passed away this year.

We were buzzed in and shown by the call center/customer service area. So now if I have to call I can envision what that room looks like. It looked comfortable and had a quite few teapots decorating the area. 

Then it was on to the warehouse where all the orders are packed. Oh the smell! The enchanting smell of so much tea! I am fairly certain Heaven smells like Harney and Sons. OK my heaven would smell slightly of warm kitty fur too, but your's may not.

We walked past the blending tanks. It is true that the cinnamon tea has its own blending pot. I don't remember what they were blending but I know it was not cinnamon.

This is their tea bag packing machine. The big roll on top was the bag material and the lower roll was the tag material. On the bottom you can see the outer wrapping paper in red. We were given a sample of Mint Verbena teabags.

Another view with the tea bags made an wrapped.

A warehouse full of tea!

These machines were making White Christmas tea sachets. Only a few of the machines were in operation because Fridays are off days usually. A kind gentleman chased us down and gave us a sachet samples too. It smells wonderful. My sister will most likely be getting some of this kind this Christmas.

The loose leaf tea is still hand packed. All of these barrels? Loose leaf tea! Barrels and barrels of tea.

I told you it was Heaven.

See isn't quality control at a tea shop just so much classier?

D said I needed to wear the hair net for my picture. See even I-only-brought-camping-clothes Yarnkettle was let into the classiest tea warehouse.

It was the highlight of our weekend. An unexpected tour is so much fun!

Thursday, November 6, 2014


We finally made the decision to camp for Rhinebeck and it could not have worked out better. Which is still a bit of a surprise for us. We're from South Dakota where you never count on outdoor activities unless it is in June, July, August and maybe September. Our snow likes to surprise us. 

Anyways back to beautiful fall in New York state. Our mornings were spent sitting under some beautiful fall foliage. 

Leaves rained down on us from time to time.

And in keeping with Yarnkettle camping tradition we had rain lots of rain our first night out. It was great because it took away the heat. Then it was mostly the temperature D and I like best.

I went to a Ravelry meet up on Friday night but felt a tinge guilty leaving D alone with some of our new RV neighbors. He was perfectly happy talking to someone that hiked NY's high peaks. A nice cold beer and a fire is what he likes best about camping.

On our last night there I pulled out my trusty cast iron dutch oven and put it on a campfire for the first time. I had visions of true campfire cooking since I recieve it so many years ago. We had some lentil stew I'd made a while ago. We fired up an old sauce pan D's Mom had given him and made rice for the first time that way.

I overheard a kid walking by say me food smelled soooooooo good. That is right, my vegetarian cooking is now random kid approved. It tasted as good as it smelled. Lentil stew over rice is mighty fine campfire food. A little Chipotle sauce did not hurt either.

D is now thinking spring and fall camping is our goal. I liked fall camping because I got to toss a few leaves in the fire to light up the evening. Plus there were way less bugs and I put some of my knit items to good cool weather use.

I do so love camping just not as much when the air mattress goes flat on the first night. Good thing our sleeping bag is so squishy and soft. My bones did lodge a "we're not 16 anymore" complaint.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Rhinebeck 2014 The Haul

We did something new this year, we finally went camping for Rhinebeck! It was great and I will tell you more later, today it is about the yarn. But first I have to tell you what a mighty fine man I have. As we were waiting to get in to the festival I was fussing over him and worrying about how he was going to keep himself entertained. He looked at me and said "I need you to be selfish today. Don't worry about me." What a mighty fine man, yes he is.

I know I bought way less than in years past. Don't worry I am feeling alright. I did come back with more than half of the money I took down. I am a thrifty girl, ha ha, thrifty girl buying hand painted sock yarn I think not.

I made a bee line to the farthest back barn to check out Dragonfly Fibers. I was told I have a very determined walk. Apparently I was scanning but on a mission.

To the left is Starry Night in Djinni Sock. Look at me who claims to hate yellow and orange getting in touch with my inner color love. On the right we have Zombie Apocalypse in Damsel. D kept calling us yarn zombies so it seemed appropriate to get the yarn. Plus it is beautiful, no really beautiful.

As always I had to get me some Socks That Rock. Bottom is Muddy Autumn lightweight. Top is Tea and Alchemy in medium weight. I was happy to lend some advice to a lady near me that asked which weight would be better for socks. That is me the crazy sock knitting lady.

At Bittersweet Woolery I found Inverted Zombie Queen, I miss read the label and it has been Introverted Zombie Queen in my head since then. That is me an Introverted yarn Zombie Queen. What I can declare myself Queen of my own realm.

Since I love Star Trek I just could not walk away from the Trek colored yarn on the left. I remember watching those uniform colors all the time.  Into the whirled has some very nice colors. I resisted the one called Bazinga, but now I don't know how I did that.

The bag of odds and ends on the right is what I though would be great to practice some spinning. I can try out some things without feeling as if I am wasting good wool. I bet once I am done it will make a very interesting something or other. I really like the idea of being able to play with my spinning for a time. I learned a couple of different ways to ply that I want to check out.

So six pairs of socks, some replacement cubic needles and a bag of spinning fun, not bad for a days play.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Oh My

As you can tell from my lack of posts my life has been a bit hectic. Only it really has not, it just feels that way.

NY Sheep and Wool (Rhinebeck) was last weekend and it was all I could hope for and more. I have some stories to tell but no pictures to show. We went camping and it could not have been more perfect for us. We even managed to get all the camping gear put back away. Whew that is the one thing I don't love about camping.

Anyways Gus and Jack are doing well even though they are adjusting to each other again. Gus stays at the vet's when we travel so they can keep an educated eye on him. We call it a Jack-cation. It is a little bit of time away from Jack.

Jack has fun with an uncle that feeds him his Greenies and all is right with the world. Then he follows D and me around talking to us at the top of his voice for a few hours when we get home.

I have knit some things and bought some yarn, but have not taken any pictures. I have taken a sock yarn spinning class and talked with knitters. Which I heartily enjoyed.

This weekend I made four batches of lasagna, fed some hungry football watching people and gave a tray to my neighbor. She was just as happy as I would be if someone showed up at my door with dinner.

So I have stories to tell and may even have some time this coming week to tell them. Just know that I am one happy knitter still.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


You know how protective I am of my knitting time. I hate the thought that I would make something for someone and they would reject it. Or worse yet absolutely they would love it and that is all I would end up making for years and years to come. Hey why did all of you just think of my sock collection?

One of the conundrums of being a selfish knitter is that I fear rejection of my knit lovelies. I love them and D loves them and that is all that matters.

Well it is not. My mother-in-law (Mil) suffers from poor circulation due to MS. She says her legs and feet get very cold. My father-in-law confirmed this with a snort of agreement, there may have been muttered words like ice blocks, we're going to let that go.

After all the socks and wooly things I've knit I finally gathered my nerve and asked my Mil if she would like to try hand knit socks or leg warmers. The answer was yes, we could try leg warmers.

So I've been puzzling over how to make them. Well, not how, I'm pretty darn sure I know how to make a tube that fits over a leg, but what would make a successful leg warmer?

I've come up with a few questions, and since Mil reads my blog I'm gonna throw them out here for us to ponder before I buy some yarn.

  1. Wool is the best fiber ever but will she agree? I'm leaning towards a super wash wool because even I don't care to hand wash things but I have nice hand wash setting on my washer. I've made the decision to take the time to learn how to care for wool, superwash wool takes some of that pressure away, easier to care for with wooly warmth too.
  2. What weight of yarn should I use? My socks are typically fingering weight but they have to fit into shoes, leg warmers do not. There are a lot more stitches in a pair of socks than the sleeve of a sweater. So I am leaning towards a light worsted weight, really I can tell myself I'm making sleeves for legs.
  3. I should make sure the yarn is relatively soft. These will most likely go right next to her skin. While I have trained myself to love rustic wools, most people need something softer, at least as an introductory item. 
  4. What color? I know she likes blue but a nice burnt orange makes me feel warmer. Oh what about red? I know when I'm wearing a bright pair of socks I feel a bit peppier. What about a nice natural brown or cream? The knitter's world is full of color. Please, please don't say black it is too hard to knit in the winter.
  5. Oh what about the fit? I don't want them to be too tight or too loose. I'm thinking some ribbing up the back of the leg gives stretch but not bagginess? I cannot handle the thought of fully ribbed warmers. I don't like ribbing enough to do that. Sorry I just don't.

That is what I've been mulling over. Anyone have any other suggestions or thoughts? I think we both know each other well enough to know the first pair may not be perfect but they should be warm.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival 2014

It is that time of year again when my yarn basket gets replenished. D however is noticing that it is still overflowing from last year's replenishment, but who lets that stop them from buying yarn? Not Yarnkettle, I tell you!

Although first up this year is not yarn but a cat mat instead. Gus' acceptable temperature range has narrowed considerably. I thought his old arthritic bones and joints could use a nice place to snuggle into, so I bought one.

I found out at the fair this summer one of my favorite sock yarns is going by the wayside. Ensign Brook Farm's Cheviot sock yarn may soon be no more. She sold her Cheviots but dyed up some of the last yarn. I had another skein in my hand but then I thought what about a sweater from her other yarn? Maybe I will have a new favorite sweater yarn.

Don't you know I bought all of them without tags. I even put the one with a tag on it back in the basket so she would have the marked one. I think this is a Romney/Merino cross yarn, 2 ply sport weight? Guess I will just have to email for confirmation before I knit my sweater.

This is one of those times when my better senses took over. We were debating how many skeins I would need. She had a sweater that took five so my good judgement made me buy six. I would rather have a sweater and mittens than almost a sweater.

This is Fiber Stash's Tweedy Toes in "Pick Your Own". Last year I regretted not trying this tweedy freckled yarn. This year I did not make the same mistake. It is a nice bright yarn.

Angoraonline had some nice yarn too. This one finally picked me out of the group to come home with.

New stitch markers! I found last year that stitch markers made this way, work really well for me while sweater knitting. I did finish two sweaters this year it must be the markers right?

Mt. Rutsen had the stitch marker and some nice yarn named "Patina". I do so love me some green yarn. Even though last year's yarn is still in the aforementioned over flowing basket.

I've seen String Theory and their Bluestocking yarn mentioned in quite a few places. So I just had to get my own skein in "Dark and Stormy".

Don't worry you'll be seeing all these yarns here again, once I figure out what projects they want to be. And I finish up all the projects already on the needles and the ones that are waiting in the wings too.

I am one happy knitter!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A sock and some camping mitts

D's poor sock has lost some of its novelty. It is my purse knitting but it has been usurped quite a few times now. My needles and yarn are not currently getting along so it is easy to let it drift to the bottom of the bag. How sad is that?

Still it is such a lovely blue that it will not stay neglected for long (I hope).

In the mean time my fascination was caught by Camp Out Mitts by tante ehm. I made them a bit deeper to cover more of my finger than the pattern is written. And I don't have delicate dainty hands either so I made them wider too, just like I have to adjust all my socks.

I knit them with Noro Kureyon which I had originally bought to knit a tea cozy. I was worried that the yarn would be too scratchy and rustic for my liking but it turns out I have trained my hands to appreciate a good rustic wool.

I even had fun picking out the bits of hay and straw this yarn is notorious for. No really it makes me feel a bit closer to the farm. But then again I am a weird old farmer's daughter. I don't mind the smell of animals being near.

Speaking of the old farmer, aka my Dad, I was thinking of printing off some of my blog posts and mailing them to him. Anybody know if that is possible? Guess I should just go ahead and just try it first.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Working hard

Oooo I've been busy. I got some of my spinning mojo back. My trip to the fair where I got to see the spinning competitions may have something to do with it. 

I took this and...

turned it into the one on the left.

A nice two ply pretty yarn. The nice blue on the right is the single ply start to another yarn. Now really I have to start knitting with my hand spun. What is a good first project for learning how to knit with your own hand spun yarn? I am thinking some cup cozies or wrist warmers are in order. I'll keep you posted.

I also signed up for a spinning class at Rhinebeck. I'll get to learn how to spin specifically for sock yarn. Hmm wonder why that one sounded good to me?

That sock that jumped on the needle while I was trying to finish up some things before I cast on some new is looking pretty good. It was a bit deeper in the stash than I remembered. So it is not just new not-yet-stash that gets cast on around here. This is some Shelridge Yarns Soft Touch Heather yarn from not-last-year. I tried a bit of a pattern with it but ripped back because it was yelling at me full volume that it just wanted to be a plain sock. I don't have any nice deep green socks so this one is for me.

I paged through my sock knitting books and remembered that I really wanted to make Nancy Bush's Stockings with Clocks. I decided that I don't know how to adjust for stockings to fit my legs yet so I am making socks with clocks instead. I have a bit of practice under my belt making socks.

I did make good use of my holiday weekend and finished my saddle shouldered sweater and a pair of socks.

I know the picture is not great but hey the sweater is! I am almost begging for the cold weather to come early.

I had a wee bit of a laugh with my not pictured socks. I started them on Memorial Day and finished them on Labor Day. I should have called them summer socks but who knew the timing would work out that way? 

Finishing a sweater lead me to winding up all this woolliness. I wrote up the pattern on cue cards again but I did not know my gauge on the last Peruvia sweater so I have some blank spots to fill in before I cast on. I could not resist getting the yarn ready to knit though. It is sort of like the first date of the knitting process. 

That is how the wool is stacking up at my house. I am still gearing up for festival time. Of course you could say I am always geared up for festival time.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


I have a few more things to show you from our South Dakota trip.

First we were able to take in a play at the Black Hills Playhouse. It just happened to be my very most favorite play, Spamalot! The playhouse is small and intimate. Even with my short legs I could stretch out and touch the stage with my feet. 

We were loaned a bunny to throw at our favorite or least favorite actor at the end of act one. I took aim and can report that I nailed my favorite, who was conveniently performing on my end of the stage.

I have the soundtrack so I was mouthing along to the singing. I know I am not a good singer so there was no danger of actually singing along.

On the other side of the state my father-in-law was growing kohlrabi. Our CSA introduced us to this vegetable but I've never seen one in the soil. It looks just as funky there as when I get it out of the box. They are so tasty though.

D was disappointed that the tomatoes were not ripe yet. We all know how he loves tomatoes.

My father-in-law also finished his Model A restoration. Why yes that is a trophy standing on the running board there. He does excellent work, doesn't he?

I could have driven it but WOW that is just a tinge too much responsibility for this girl. At least on this trip it was. We'll see if the offer still stands next year.

I love how the traveling box on the back completes the look. 

So that pretty much wraps up our summer vacation. Anyone want to visit South Dakota now?