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Estes Park Wool Market

June 13, 2012

This past weekend my parents treated us to a camping trip in Estes Park, CO. Well, glamor camping, as we were staying in a cabin- but it didn’t have running water or electricity, so we were still kind of roughing it. We’d picked the dates months ago, and then as the weekend approached I realized we’d be up there at the same time the Estes Park Wool Market was happening. I’ve been wanting to go to the Market for years, but I’ve never been in town and able to go, so I was excited to realize that not only would I be in town, but I would be in Estes Park.

The Market was fun, but nothing spectacular. We got to meet all of the animals I’ve been turning into sweaters the past several years (sheep are talkative and seriously loud, by the way), and there was a tent/barn full of vendors. It seemed like there were a lot more vendors selling spinning supplies and roving than selling finished yarn, but there was still plenty to choose from. My husband and I walked the floor three times before we made our final decisions. I suppose I was expecting more of a festival atmosphere and I was kind of bummed to feel more like I was at a 4H show than the biggest knitting party in North America. I think I only saw two other people wearing items they’d obviously knit themselves (I was proudly wearing my most recent linen/cotton project, thankyouverymuch). Maybe I had built it up in my mind too much, since I’d wanted to go for so long, or maybe I should just start saving up for Rhinebeck?

Here are shots of some of the friends we made:

love the beard.

cheeeeeeese!

alpaca: a cross between a camel and a poodle

these goats were itty-bitty and super soft. if only they made great milk too…

and a sneak peek of what I knit to wear (I’ll hopefully post about it later this week).

I left with a huge skein (490 yards) of a beautiful bright pink, DK,  cotton/bamboo blend by Textiles A Mano and three skeins of a light blue cotton/cashmere blend from Bijou Basin Ranch (hopefully to be turned into a tank before summer’s end). My husband also picked up a yak/bamboo blend from Bijou Basin so can make him a hat this winter- an awesome grey/brown/black variegated yarn.

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June 12, 2012

Saturday night two weeks ago there was a wind storm in Denver. The wind tore the canopy off of our back porch and scattered the straw we use as mulch off of the garden beds and all over the yard.

That same Saturday morning my two year old son had a seizure that would not ‘self limit’, meaning it wouldn’t stop on it’s own, and we had to call the ambulance. The seizure lasted for 25 minutes before the EMT’s were able to administer a sedative that made it stop. We spent the rest of the day in the emergency room.

Sunday morning as my little boy napped, my husband and I cleared the straw from the backyard; stooped over, raking it up with our fingers and placing it back on the beds, surveying the damage the wind had done to the newly transplanted seedlings. It somehow fit how my heart was feeling- ransacked, wind-torn, fatigued from the storm of living with a disability and a seizure disorder. We’re still not sure what the clean-up means…what needs to be set upright and put back into place in our hearts and our lives?

Knit: High Line Shawl by Kristen Kapur

May 21, 2012

You might have noticed that I’ve been absent from here for awhile. Life presents it’s challenges and opportunities, and I was wondering if they left me with any time or energy to continue writing, but my then my (wonderful) husband reminded me about all the ways other people’s blogs have helped, taught, guided, encouraged and inspired me, and suggested that maybe I continue posting in the hopes of doing the same for someone else. So, if you ever feel any of those things when reading, please drop me an email or leave a comment to let me know! In the meantime, I’ll keep writing :)

I know that we”re bordering on summer, but I wanted to write about the High Line Shawl which I completed late this winter and haven’t had a chance to post yet. I was wanting a BIG, fluffy scarf that didn’t have too much bulk. I also thought it was time to knit something for myself (since I’ve kept approximately 2 of my completed projects). And while I hate knitting lace, I thought that knitting it at such a large scale would be a different, maybe even enjoyable, experience.

Turns out that the High Line Shawl is indeed big and fluffy, with just the right balance of bulk and wear-ability. It also turns out that I hate knitting lace at any scale.

The pattern was very well written and easy to understand- at no point was I cussing under my breath at it’s creator (Kristen Kapur). And while I have some reservations about treated wool, the Knit Picks Bulky Swish yarn is certainly soft, wearable and easily cared for.

All in all, it was a fast and easy project, that I wore often when it was cold. I’m even contemplating knitting another with a cotton/linen blend for the warmer months- as soon as I once again forget how much I hate knitting lace.

*raveled

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

April 12, 2012

This year my mom planned a little Easter egg decorating party at my house. Easter egg decorating, along with Christmas package wrapping, is something my family takes seriously. Very seriously. We don’t do it without several different types of glue, and there are typically no less than 300 different options of things you can decorate them with. My mom and I had been talking about trying some natural dyes the last several years we’ve decorated eggs, and so I decided to finally give it a try this year. I initially thought I’d only do a few colors, but then I got excited about it, and my dad requested a red dye, and soon I was sending my husband out the door for two dozen more eggs and some paprika.

We were so enamored with the process that we actually left most of the glue, lace and sequins to the kiddos while we messed around with the cabbage and chamomile. We took tips from here and here to produce the dyes. I was tempted to leave some of them overnight, but I could feel the shells getting softer (especially the dyes that had vinegar in them) and chickened out. (Ummm… no pun intended.)

The eggs didn’t seem to be very dark or color-rich (especially compared to the store-bought egg dyes we were also messing around with) but as soon as we took them out and sat them next to each other they began to develop distinct personalities.

drying on the dish rack

I loved how the eggs were so naturally beautiful. The eggs didn’t dye uniformly so each had variations of color, sometimes subtle and sometimes drastic. The little ‘imperfections’ and minute cracks in each egg were highlighted.

blueberries

beets

half beets, half paprika- we couldn’t ever get the paprika to dissolve into the water

coffee

tumeric

grape juice (left=not rinsed off, right=rinsed)

grape juice (not rinsed)

purple cabbage

I think I will probably only dye eggs this way from now on. The dye materials can go straight to my compost pile or be re-used (as in the blueberry oatmeal we had the next morning) and they turn out so beautiful.

For those of you who knit, here’s a creative way to use the rest of your egg dye, and for those of you who eat, I highly recommend turning all of those hard boiled eggs into the most amazing (curried) egg salad ever, as I’m about to do.

Knit: Smokin’ by Jared Flood

March 27, 2012

I’ve been wanting to knit one of Jared Flood’s designs for awhile now, so I felt very lucky when my husband picked out one of his designs as something he wanted me to knit for him.

I’m not sure what happened, but this sweater somehow took me for-ev-er to complete…a late start last winter, followed by the hot days of summer and long days working in the garden, which never leave me in the mood for knitting, then knitting projects for the shop and custom orders got in the way…but finally, I picked it up again and completed it rather quickly. And then it’s take me forever to post about it, of course. But we finally took advantage of some nice weather and headed outside to take some photos.

To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with the pattern (there were some errata I had to correct) or the construction of the sweater itself. I’ve heard that sometimes when designers are published in collections edited by a publisher (as this one was, in Son of Stitch n’ Bitch) that errors could be due to the editor, so I’ll give Flood the benefit of the doubt here. If I were to knit this again (which I won’t) I would also add twice as many button holes; only having four means that the sweater gaps quite a bit between the buttons so I’ll be sewing in hidden snaps to fix this. I also followed the lead of another knitter on ravelry and opted for a 2×2 ribbing at the hem, collar and cuffs instead of the garter stitch.

I searched the world for an affordable tweed to knit this in, but affordable tweeds apparently do not exist (I had no idea how expensive that stuff could be!), so we finally decided on Cascade’s Eco Wool in a marled natural and dark brown.

Switching to the rib stitch meant some guesswork on how to construct the shawl collar- so I jumped in and did my best with some short rows. This was a challenge for me, as I take extreme comfort in simply following the directions (yes, I’m Type A). But I’ve been realizing lately that I need to let go a little bit and practice experimenting and using the knitting knowledge I’ve got stored up in my head. It’s also a practice in process for me, as sometimes this means I have to rip out rows and start over; Type A doesn’t like wasting any time. Perhaps that’s part of the lesson- time isn’t actually wasted in the process of creating, experimenting and learning.

Next time I knit something up for my husband I’ll also try to add some width in the shoulders and length in the torso. I get the feeling that Flood’s patterns are written for all those waif-like hipster boys out there, a group to which my husband and his viking shoulders do not belong. Blocking was able to help a lot, but it still rides up in the back as he wears it. I don’t think my husband notices any of this though, as he hasn’t taken it off since I finished it.

Shop Sale

March 24, 2012

Hello Friends!

I know that this March has been unseasonably warm in Colorado, but I’m just waiting for that one last snowstorm. In the meantime, head over to my hand knits shop and take advantage of the 30% off sale that’s happening right now- then you’ll be ready when those last flurries start to fly and fashionably prepared for next winter!

London

March 23, 2012

On our way to South Africa we were able to stop in London (well, Surrey, actually) for several days to visit some of my husband’s family. They are such wonderful people and we had an exceptional time with them. Their house and property are simply enchanting and we had so much fun exploring. The view from our bedroom window.

There were several beautiful walks on their property. The history major in me swooned at buildings and infrastructure that was built long before America was even colonized…the bridge in the bottom photo, for example.

We got to meet their pigs…

the chickens…

the peacock…

…and the Shetland Ponies.

The visit to their estate (and watching too much Downton Abbey?) has developed a true fondness in me for the English countryside and reminded me of how much I would love to live in a more rural setting someday.

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