Horti Honey's Blog of Yarn, Plants, and Life

Sarah Humke examines life through fiber tinted glasses….

Slacking* March 29, 2015

Spring is usually busy, but this year is even more so than usual for me.  First up, it was my brand new niece’s baptism last weekend.  I decided to make her a Christening Shawl/blanket for the event.  I then decided that it should really be hand-spun Shetland laceweight.  With wool from Shetland of course!  Well, I’m sure that you all can see exactly where this is going…

I ended-up finishing casting-off at around four o’clock on the Saturday before.  I blocked it on my bed that evening.

slacking 4Luckily it was one of those super easy things to block and all I had to do was kind of pat it into place and let it dry for a bit.  I have a heated bed so that helped to move things along a bit:-)  It was dry and ready for the baptism that morning.

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Thanks to my SIL for taking this photo. I wasn’t able to take many photos with my niece IN the blanket as I was supremely busy that day with the lunch for the family after church.

I was amused by two facts during the baptismal sermon.  First, I’m not in church all that often and that Sunday I was sitting in the front row of a pretty full church.  The second was this:

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Yep, the whole sermon was about sheep and goats:-)

For those interested, the shawl/blanket is a strongly adapted version of a traditional Shetland Christening shawl pattern.  I skipped the edging and added a picot cast-off in its place.  The yarn was spun from about 284 grams of the Jaimeson and Smith Shetland Supreme combed roving.

I just happened to finish it when I was helping out my friends Ellen and Wanda at their booth for their shop Fiber Curio and Sundries at Fiberpalooza in Winterset, Iowa on Saturday.  I took absolutely zero photos as my hands were busy the entire day long either setting up or knitting the shawl.  However, it was a really fun event to both attend and sell at and I had a good, though very long, day.

Thursday and Friday were involved in the final classes for my Annie’s Project course.   I think that now is a good time to share with you what the business I was taking this business planning class for is.  I am getting sheep.  Or to be quite precise, I am getting about 20 or so Shetland ewes.  It’s a bit of long story, and I’m not a hundred percent sure that all the parties would like me to share it, but I can say that it’s kind of one of those things where karma has come full circle.  I have booked my flights out to Montana where the sheep currently reside and will drive back with them.  So there is a lot to do on the ground here to prepare for them.  Fencing for one.  These ladies have not been in fences a lot in their lives, which could be either a good or a bad thing.  Currently I am working on an area that will be somewhat permanently fenced for when they first get here and probably for parts of the winter as well.  I am going to purchase some electric netting so that I can move them around and graze the different areas of the farm and keep the grass and weeds down.

This is honestly, a kind of dream come true for me as I have wanted some ever since I visited the islands in 2010.  I adore their wool, I find the sheep to be appealing in their durability and size and I enjoy the variety of colors that they come in.  I have hesitated to write about it here as I wasn’t sure that it was really going to come to fruition.  But now with plane tickets booked (thank you frequent flier miles!) and making plans for fences and trying to find a livestock guardian animal, it is all starting to feel very, very real.  If anyone knows of someone looking to re-home a donkey in the Iowa area, please let me know.

Dusty got “sheared” one of our warmer days.  It wasn’t a perfect job as he wanted to chase cats and I didn’t want him to chase them but it worked out ok.

Before

Before: “Look at those cats making fun of me!  Must chase them!!!!!”

See what I mean by "shearing"?

See what I mean by “shearing”?

After

After: “The cats are laughing at me.”

I would have saved it to spin had I given Dusty a bath prior to his spring shearing.

I would have saved it to spin had I given Dusty a bath prior to his spring shearing.

I’ve been destashing a lot of mini skeins of sock yarn on Ravelry.  If you are interested (and the link doesn’t work) just go to the group “Mini Mall” and the thread called “Random Sets”.  I still have a lot of sets available and am willing to mail wherever you want in the world (with a few small exceptions:-).

On top of all of this has been seed starting and garden planning (in that order, it doesn’t always go in the order it should have you know!).  This year we are having a fifty foot by seventy-five foot garden.  Should be exciting!

Oh, and I got a full-time job finally.  I start in April and it will involve a lot more commuting than I am used to.

*For the irony impaired, I haven’t been slacking.  Quite honestly I’ve been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger!!!

 

Homework. Yet Again. March 3, 2015

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am taking a class through Annie’s Project.  It is a program that is designed to help women engage in farming in a different way.  In the past, women were there to raise the children and cook the meals and often to help with farm work when needed, but were often left-out of making important decisions about the future of the farm or even what their part in it is.  Since a lot of women inherit farm land, it is important for them to be able to make wise decisions about how it will be used and who will use it.  Also, an increasing number of women are taking-up farming or taking-over family farms.

I still don’t feel comfortable telling you all what kind of operation I am planning with this class.  I will share it with you all eventually, I promise.  However, this class has been excellent for me to clarify what still needs to be done, what I’m not going to be doing (which is often as important as what you are going to be doing), and figuring out what my strengths and weaknesses are in this endeavor.  Sometimes, being able to simply look at something in black and white is really motivating.  It has helped me look at nearly everything I do as either forwarding my goals and dreams or not.  Which is important.  Really important.  But it’s easy in the day-to-day to forget the big picture or lose sight of the bigger goal.

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The class comes with two handy things.  One is a workbook that we are working through to develop our business plans.  The sustainable in the title isn’t an environmental statement, rather it is about if a business is able to sustain itself.  The other is a lovely faux-leather notebook that I keep calling my Trapper Keeper.  It was prefilled with handouts and resources that could help us outside of our class and workbooks.  I have been keeping my records in it and since it zips closed they have stayed in it:-)

In other areas, the hat is finished.  Yay!  I’m not totally in love with it as it turned-out smaller than I had intended.  But I will see what the boyfriend thinks before I start in on another (I have enough of the hand-spun to make another:-)).  I am now working on the Christening blanket/shawl that I spun 1200 yards of hand-spun laceweight for.  It’s not going to be exactly like the pattern as I am working it in the round rather than on two needles and sincerely don’t feel like purling every other row for hundreds of stitches.  However, it is turning out nicely so far.  We’ll see if it continues to behave….

 

Easier in the Rearview January 6, 2014

A true-ism that has been forcing it’s way to the front of my mind a lot lately is that things always seem easier after you’ve done them. Especially if you’ve done them a few times.  Often, it is the thought of something more than the actual thing that keeps us from doing it.  It may be the idea of failing or just plain nervousness about doing something unfamiliar, but still, it is the thought of doing it more than the actual doing it.

Take, for example, pressure canning.  The first time that you do it it is a scary, scary thing.  You are sure that you are going to blow up your house or kill everyone with your canned green beans.  Then, after you’ve done it a few times, it quickly becomes easy. Commonplace even.  Still, to the outsider, it looks scary and intimidating and they are amazed that you do it and survive.

Making jams and jellies was kind of fun by comparison.  I mean, nothing is going to blow up.  The worst things that can happen are (in a rough order of worst to least worst) you get burned by bubbling sugar laden jam/jelly/marmalade/fruit butter (hurts like a sonofabitch, but it’s not blowing a hole in your  upstairs neighbor’s floor), scorching the bottom of your pot or pan (total pita to clean and if stainless, possibly ruining a pan if not), over-boiling your pot by having a seemingly volcano-like eruption of sugar and fruit all over your stove top with burners all a blazing making it smell like a orchard burning in August, and what seems like the worst thing at the time, your preserve not setting making what you just made to be pear vanilla sauce rather than the pear vanilla jam it was supposed to be.

Knitting can be like that too.  For a long time I resisted becoming a sock knitter.  I knit lace by the yard like a  less literate Charlotte saving my own personal Wilbur.  This was all fine until you needed to travel with these projects.  Most of the time it was ok, but there were times where needles came out and caused all kinds of havoc to my gossamer webs.  There are few things more disheartening than to pull your knitting out on the plane/train/automobile only to find the needles in one area of the project bag and the knitting in another.

In the past year or so, I’ve started knitting socks with a seriousness.  Since a lot of my time is spent on the bus, small projects are a must.  Since I have the Monkey pattern memorized now, that tends to be my go-to pattern if it isn’t a self-striping yarn.  Then it’s just a type of vanilla pattern similar to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s (You can tell the kind of evolution taking place here as I no longer say that it is, in fact, her pattern as I have changed things as needed to suit my sock making needs. EZ would be proud.).  I now have the Kitchener stitch memorized (who’d have thought that would happen!) and turning heels no longer makes me stuff the poor little sock in the project bag and leave it to be moth bait for a good long time before I garner the fortitude to finish it.  I’m not saying that I am a socky guru or anything, but I do now consider myself a sock knitter.

This hasn’t been limited to my personal life either.  There are a number of things I never thought that I would be able to say or do that now are pretty natural to me.  For example, I got an A in a Statistics class this pass semester.  Never in a million years thought that I would say that, nor that I would admit to feeling reasonably comfortable using a piece of software for it that is, well, not the most user friendly piece of work I’ve encountered.

So tell me, what things have been easier in the rearview for you?

 

Tricraftual February 8, 2012

I realized that I’ve not really written about what is on my needles, wheel or hook lately.  I’ve actually been pretty good about giving all of my current projects some attention each day.  It’s just worked-out that one is good for waiting time, one is good for watching TV, and one is good for when the other two bore me!

First up is my Kaleidoscope by Dutch Knitting Design.  I’m pleased with the fact that I am past the armholes and they are, you know, holey and that I can actually get my arms through them!  It is going to sound silly, but I’ve never cast-off in the middle of a row and then cast back on again, so the holiness of the arms is a bit of a miracle!   However, once I was past the slightly scary armholes, I was on to the super easy-to-remember lace section which has made this a good purse knitting project.  One row of easy-peasy design knitting and then a row of purls back.  The rest of the body is pretty much made like this, so it will be purse knitting until it doesn’t fit easily in my purse anymore.  It’s being knit out of Noro Silk Garden Sock in colorway S321 and should use two balls of it.

It's upside down. Which sort of makes sense since it is knit top down!

Next up is yet another crocheted baby scrapghan.  The baby that this one is for has already finished her gestation and is fast on her way to holding her head up and rolling over on her own, so I’d best get my butt in gear!

Finally I get to the spinning.  I am doing something that is probably a tad on the crazy side (not fully over there, just edging that way!).  I am spinning the lovely merino/cashmere/nylon blend from BugSnugger that I picked-up at Sticks and String.  I got three-four ounce braids.

Without flash

With Flash

I have divided each of the braids into three sections lengthwise, which I rolled into balls (nine balls).

Balls. She made wooly balls.

I plan on spinning each of those balls separately so that I can do as many or as few plies as I need for the specific projects that I have in mind for this wool.  It is spinning super fine and I got about 66wpi when I measured it so I may need all nine plies if I am to make a worsted weight out of it.  I don’t plan on making all worsted, but maybe some as well as some fingering.  We’ll see how much I end-up with when I am done with it all!  So far I have spun one of the balls and have made good headway into a second.

So very fine...

This bobbin is holding one ball's worth of spun singles.

A post about what I’m working on wouldn’t be complete without an update on my “Forever Stole” which is what I have decided to call it since it is taking me FOREVER to make.  This project, oddly enough, is the one that I take when I know I am going to be in a spectacularly mis-lit location.  It is white, which makes it easy to see and it’s small and portable.  And it’s still chugging along.  Forever….

This isn't a fantastic photo of this stole. However, it was windy and fraking freezing and the damn thing kept wanting to sail away so this is what you get! I will get a better one at a later date I am sure...

And of course, no blog post these days is really complete without a Red photo!

 

Finished! January 31, 2012

I have been working on Althea by Dutch Knitting Design otherwise known as my friend Marleen Van der Vorst.  I started this at Woolfest on either the 24th or the 25th of June.  Well, that’s not exactly correct as I started this yarn as a different pattern but quickly decided to use Marleen‘s pattern instead.  I hauled this shawlette to Knit Nation with me where very little got done on it.  However, I felt that I needed to show Marleen the progress that I was making on one of her patterns.  Then I am pretty sure that I didn’t show it to her at all.

This project rode in my checked baggage on the airplane home, only to be ignored for weeks on end in favor of Christmas projects and spinning.  I packed it into the big white van and it rode to Florida with me to deal with the house and not one stitch was added to it.  Finally (finally!) it got packed to go to Sticks and String this past weekend with me which is where we made a connection.

I know everyone always says this, but it’s amazing how fast a project goes when you actually work on it!

At the beginning of the weekend, it still looked more or less like this:

By the end of last night it looked like this:

The finish was exciting on this one.  I had this tiny ball of only 3 grams left over and that was after deciding to not do the last row of patterned knitting!

I gave it a bath in Soak last night and pinned it out early this morning.  My blocking board is packed somewhere in the storage unit along with my pins so I sort of had to improvise.  That’s ok, I’m pretty good at improvising!  This is a cedar chest that is under about 10 layers of blankets with a non-slip rug pad under them all.  This princess and the pea set-up is to keep Malcolm and the rest of the crew from scratching the top as they look out the window.  On top of all these blankets is a massive towel that my mom sewed out of 3 smaller towels way back in the day to put on the seat of a couch (which we no longer have).  I usually use it as a dog towel, but it was pressed into service as a pinning base today.   There was no way I was getting a picture of this shawl today without Sweetie Pie in the picture in all of her adolescent glory.  She’s actually waiting for me to throw her toy so that she can go fetch it.  For real, this cat plays fetch.

I didn’t have my fancy quilting pins (in storage as well) so I used a random pack of safety pins.  They worked ok!  The little gold ones were the best for pinning out the points.  When I have all of my blocking supplies together I will give this puppy a much stricter blocking, but this works for now!

And here is what it looks like now, blocked and fully finished!  It turned out much larger than I expected.  I knit and knit and knit on this and it took 97 grams out of 100 in the skein and I, for some crazy reason, thought that it was going to be a lot smaller than it turned out to be.  You would think that by now I would have a goodly grasp on the idea that more yarn (usually)=More knitted item.  I’m actually quite pleased with how large it is.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one aspect of Marleen’s patterns that I just love!  She makes them in these little booklets that fit perfectly inside the plastic bags that they come in.  This means that you can just turn to the proper page in the pattern and pop it back into the bag.  My patterns usually end-up looking (quite frankly) like a hot mess by the time that I am done knitting the project.  They’ve been folded and refolded and stuffed into a bag so the ends are all curly, you get the idea!  This particular pattern has more than a few miles on it.  It’s been stuffed into my purse for weeks on end (never a good thing!), packed into suitcases and carry-on bags, the works.  It still looks wonderful all protected by the plastic bag even after a LOT of abuse.  The pattern contains both charted and fully written-out directions as well as multiple color pictures of various aspects of the garment.  How many times have you knit something and wished that you could see how it was put together, not just on a super skinny model?  Well, Marleen’s patterns have them!  I know I sound all gushy about a pattern, but really, when you see something like this done the way it should be done it’s hard not to get a little verklempt!

So here, with no more ado, are the glamor shots of the finished and blocked shawl!

Obviously no pictures of me wearing it as it is difficult (to say the least) to take a flattering shot of yourself by yourself from behind.  However, it goes all the way down my back to the top of my jeans.

Pattern: Althea by Dutch Knitting Design

Yarn: Supreme Sock by Yarn Addict in Earth.  50% Merino, 50% Silk. 97 grams used.

 

Off My Needles May 27, 2011

Holy crap, that knitting just FLEW by!  I love it when a pattern (in this case Simple Things by Mary-Heather Cogar) and a yarn (Skein Queen‘s Entwist in A Christmas Carol from the Knit magazine sock club) come together so very perfectly.  At least in my opinion.  The shawlete is a tad on the colorful side, but it will match pretty much everything that way!

This is the shawlete hot off the needles, not even blocked yet.

I had to run outside to take pictures of it because A.) no one would believe me that I finished something so fast otherwise and B.) the sun is going down and it is difficult to take pictures in the dark.

The amount of yarn worked out perfectly after I did 2 more repeats of the garter eyelet ridge than called for in the pattern.  I had exactly 10 grams left over, perfect for my sock yarn blanket!

I plan on making this pattern again as it is lovely for watching TV or traveling.  Really it’s almost stupid-proof.  And it makes variegated sock yarns look great.  Since there’s not a lot of lace to get lost, it could handle the deeply colorful nature of this yarn.

I will try to post blocking photos tomorrow (because y’all are just on edge for some hot blocking shots!).

 

On My Needles May 25, 2011

I’ve had the strongest urge to start a new project for the past few days and I’ve kept stuffing it back down saying, “When I get done with this project…”.  Well, that project had to go take an emergency bath and I allowed myself to cast-on a new project.  I’ve really wanted to do something with the skein of yarn that I got from the Knit Sock Club first shipment which was dyed by Skein Queen if you don’t remember.  However, I really didn’t want to do socks with it.  I have come to this realization that I A.) Love sock yarn, B.) Don’t really like making socks that much and C.) Really enjoy looking at sock construction.  Funny huh, at least 2 of the 3 needed ingredients are there but that middle one is sort-of a doozie to get over.  I mean, I love (and I mean passionately love) making tubes.  If I could reasonably make tube socks, I’d be a happy camper.  But it’s the turning the heel and toe shaping that make me put down the socks.  It’s not that I can’t do them.  I can!  I’ve completed 2 pairs of socks at this time with little or no help from others.  It’s just that at that point I always put them down.  I think that I’m not that big on thinking about what I am knitting, much preferring to just knit.  To say that I am a process knitter is a great big DUH!!!

Anyway, put all this together and you have me trolling Ravelry for a pattern that I like for a little shawl or scarf that only uses one precious skein of sock yarn.  And I found it.  Even the name appealed to me for the mood I was in: Simple Things by Mary-Heather Cogar.  I needed a really simple design for the amount of color in this skein of yarn and looking at the pictures of FO’s, I thought that this pattern could handle it.

Here is 2 evenings worth of work on it:

I am enjoying this pattern so much, don’t be surprised if everybody gets one of these for Christmas!