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Shearing Day and a Sneak Peek 10

Far and away, one of the best parts of living where we live now in Northeastern Tennessee is the huge fiber community. Yesterday, we got to help our friends Brad and Ruth Ann with shearing day. Their farm is called Two Roots Alpacas.

It was a beautiful day.

Here’s Ruth Ann providing a little moral support before shearing.

And here is Paul doing a little friendly herding afterwards.

These are some of the bags of fleece, set aside for processing later.

I spent the day drawing up injections but had plenty of breaks for knitting in between.

I’ll just note in passing that the “two roots” part of the name has to do with the vineyard that Brad and Ruth Ann run and that we were richly rewarded with amazing wine after all the work was done. You can see part of the vineyard here in the background.

And did I mention there was a baby?! Alpaca babies are called crias, and this one’s name is Storm. He was born last week during one of the recent bouts of crazy weather we’ve been having, and ooooh, my heavens! The CUTE!!!

It’s a busy week. Between work and the normal life things, there hasn’t been a ton of time for knitting, but I’ve always got something with me. This afternoon we’re going to be running errands, and I plan to work on a very special surprise project for my BFF. I don’t want to say too much, but here’s a sneak peek.

What are you up to this week? I’m loving all the shawls I’ve been seeing lately and am thinking there’s got to be a Find Your Fade in my future. I was resisting at first because there are so many other things I want to knit, but I’m pretty sure Marilyn’s slew of gorgeous Fades over at Yarn, Books & Roses has effectively decimated my resolve!

Still Yarning Along . . . 8

Despite the sad demise of the Yarn Along, knitting and reading continue as always here at Casa Knit Potion.

It was cause for celebration when Anne Lamott’s new book arrived on my doorstep the day before yesterday.

Here’s the quote from the back cover:

I’m not sure I even recognize the ever-presence of mercy anymore, the divine and the human; the messy, crippled, transforming, heartbreaking, lovely, devastating presence of mercy. But I have come to believe that I am starving to death for it, and my world is too.

This.

My knitting is the English Mesh Lace Scarf I started at least a year ago. I think it’s going to be a favorite when I finish it in about 2050. I do a pattern repeat once a month or so. It’s the Kidsilk Haze. I don’t love knitting with it.

What I am loving knitting is this Dog Sweater. I started it last night and should finish up this evening while I’m catching up on The Americans. I’m making it for my cousin’s precious, little, one-eyed dog, Bandit. My track record with dog sweaters isn’t the best, but I’m ever hopeful.

I took this picture while we were waiting for dinner at our local Thai restaurant. Paul and I went there after an evening walk. We both needed some fresh air, so we drove over to a very pretty, hilly trail that winds around above town. The National Cemetery sits down below.

And the redbuds are in bloom.

It was nice.

In other news the #yarnlovechallengeapril is underway on Instagram, and the prompts are inspired. Today’s was “hands.” These were a couple of my favorite photos.

 

Spindle Love 9

I haven’t talked about spinning here in awhile, but the scent of spring–which in my brain leads directly to summer and the Tour de Fleece–is in the air, and I’m getting the itch. Plus, I was lucky enough to get several new Jenkins Turkish spindles recently, so that’s probably another reason I’ve got spinning on my mind. These are my absolute favorite spindles, and they can be ridiculously hard to come by.

One of the new spindles is a tiny purpleheart Kuchulu. My idea is that this one is going to make an especially nice travel spindle, so since yesterday was errand day, I decided to take it for a test drive.

By the time we made our usual stop for coffee at Jemima’s on the Laurel River, I’d managed to start the leader and wind on a tiny little cop.

I kept spinning as we drove to Asheville.

As I’d hoped, the Kuchulu is perfect for spinning in a confined space. There was no awkwardness at all as I spun in the car.

It turns out it’s also super convenient for dropping in a bag or purse and pulling out when there’s a bit of down time. I spun for a few minutes after lunch while we figured out the game plan for the rest of the afternoon.

On the way home, I was needing to knit, so I put this little guy away and pulled out my Inlet cardigan. I love it, though, and I can see taking it with me everywhere so I’ve got it when I find myself in the mood to spin.

If you like the idea of traveling spindles and want to see some great pictures, check out this thread in the Jenkins Ravelry group for instant happiness.

Does anyone else have spinning on the brain these days?

Tea with Jam and Bread 12

We finally had a sunny day last week, and I was able to take some pictures of Paul’s Tea with Jam and Bread sweater!

This is a terrific basic pullover pattern. The only thing that’s a little unusual in the design is that Heidi Kirrmaier adds some short-row shaping at the back of the neck to get a more pleasing fit. In the photo below, you can see the nice effect it has. I like this so much that I’ll probably start adding it to other sweater patterns in the future.

At Paul’s request I didn’t didn’t do the color blocking or add the pockets that the pattern calls for. The only other modification I made was to the sleeves. To get a slightly more tailored fit, I started the decreases early and worked them so that the cuffs fit close around the wrist. I also shortened the length of the sleeves a bit to fit Paul’s arms.

The yarn I used for this was Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted in the “Cafe Au Lait” colorway. I got it on sale at Alpaca Direct. It’s something I’d been wanting to try for quite awhile because Brown Sheep seems like such a great company. They’re a family-owned business, located in Mitchell, Nebraska, and they’ve done all kinds of things to make their process environmentally friendly–things like coming up with a way to reuse 70-90% of their daily waste water!

I also really love a wool/mohair blend for warm, hard wearing sweaters. I’ve got a sweater’s worth of this in “Antique Mauve” I’m going to use to make something for myself.

Bottom line, I highly recommend both this sweater pattern and the yarn if you’re looking for a comfy, sturdy, well designed pullover!

 

Yarn Along 1

I’m racing a storm to get this posted before the power goes out, so I’ll just leave this with no additional commentary other than that I highly recommend both the pattern, Inlet, and the book, Michael Pollan’s Second Nature!

 

 

P.S. Doh! I’m a day early!!!! I’ll update tomorrow with a link to the Small Things blog where everyone else will be posting about what they are reading and knitting.

P.P.S. Wow . . . The Yarn Along has come to an end. I’m so sad. Take a look at this post for Ginny Sheller’s perfectly reasonable explanation of why she’s no longer going to be hosting it. I really do understand. But I’m still sad.

Help A Knitter Out 10

A couple of weeks ago I went to a class on small fruit trees hosted by our local Master Gardener group. I brought my knitting, of course, and this attracted the attention of a fellow class member. Turns out, this gentleman (my new friend David) had been looking for a knitter. Go figure!

David’s dad was in the service during WW II and spent a good bit of that time wearing the army issue sweater pictured above. Dad eventually passed the sweater along to David who still wears it. ALL THE TIME. (He also wants to learn to knit. We’re both happily married, or you know I would have been a goner.)

Anyhoo, the sweater is clearly a little worse for wear, and David would like to have it repaired. My question for you, friends and knitters of the blogosphere, is what’s the best way to go about such a thing?

This has clearly been machine knit at a very fine gauge, so while I could mend it well enough to stop the unravelling, I’m doubtful that the results would be cosmetically pleasing. I’ve googled hand darning machine knits and all kinds of WW II sweater things, but so far I haven’t come up with a good solution. I feel sure this wheel must have already been invented. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

On the homefront the rain has been unrelenting.

So I’ve decided to sit by the fire and knit until the sun comes out.

Or until I have to wake up and get back to real life. Ha!

Be well, my knitters. And please let me know if you have any advice about how to help David with his sweater.

Yarn Along: Inlet and The Yellow Birds 10

Reading and knitting are both turning out to be deeply rewarding this week. A good friend told me about The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. My godson was reading it for school, and my friend decided to read along with him. I should mention that she is one of the very few people whose reading recommendations I accept without question. She said the book was a must read and shared the following comment from the author.

“The impulse to write The Yellow Birds came from a desire to look for some truth that I hoped could be found at the core of that most extreme of human experiences [war]. I also thought that by placing the emphasis on the language, using it to demonstrate the main character’s perpetual, unbearable sense of awe and wonder, I’d have at least a chance of connecting to another human being on an emotional level. I wanted to engage with the imagination above all else, because I believe that empathy is an imaginative act.”

I ordered the book right away, and I started reading it today. As always, my friend was right. The first sentence blew me away, and it’s been like that every page since. The writing is absolutely incredible.

My knitting has been on Inlet. Peace Fleece is one of my favorite yarns, and this “Mourning Dove” colorway is gorgeous. It changes depending on the light, so every time I look at it, it’s like I’m seeing something new. I’ve just started the waist shaping on the back. Generally, I don’t do a lot of shaping, but it turns out I’m kind of enjoying it with this.

Be well, my friends! And stop by the Small Things blog to see what other people are knitting and reading this week.

Meet Franklin! 19

Meet Franklin!

A few Saturdays ago, destiny happened. Paul and I came across a local adoption event and met the orange kitty of our dreams. We’d been open to getting a second cat for a couple of years, ever since Augie showed up on our back porch as a baby and taught us that a cat really could be happy in a house full of dogs. When our eyes met Franklin’s, we knew he was the one.

It was meant to be. He rode the hour and a half home from the adoption event on Paul’s lap.

 

 

And it turns out that he’s devoted to knitting.

 

 

Go figure!

I’m sure he’ll be making frequent appearances here, so I wanted to give him a proper introduction.

In knitting news, I’ve finished Paul’s Tea with Jam and Bread sweater. I’ll post about that soon. The plan is to take pictures one day this week.

And I’ve cast on the Inlet cardigan by Amy Herzog.

 

Do you know about Amy Herzog? I’ve been interested in her and her sweater designs for years. She’s all about sweaters that fit, and one of her mantras is that your pattern should match your gauge and yarn, not the other way around.

When you purchase one of her custom fit patterns, you provide your measurements and the gauge at which you want to knit, and her pattern generator comes up with the specific pattern instructions for your personal sweater.

I’ve always figured there must be something to her method because, unlike with a lot of sweater projects you look at on Ravelry where you see the sweater folded or laid flat or draped over a chair, when you look at the projects for her designs, people are actually wearing them! And they look great!

I cast on last night with some Peace Fleece worsted in the Mourning Dove colorway from my stash. Two words: twisted rib.

 

I might not ever knit plain one-by-one rib again!

Yarn Along 8

I really love the Wednesday Yarn Along. Ginny Sheller hosts this weekly what-you’re-knitting and what-you’re-reading photo op on her blog, Small Things. Stop by for links to what are usually close to a hundred blog posts on the topic. It’s guaranteed to give you a lift.

This week I’m reading If Nights Could Talk, a memoir written by my immensely talented friend Marsha Recknagel. The story reads like a thriller. Marsha is a poet, though, so she writes in a way that constantly startles me by offering up real and important things that I knew, but didn’t know I knew, because I didn’t have words to name them. Every time I come away from reading the book, my world is bigger.

 

 

On the knitting front, I’m onto the sleeves of Paul’s Tea with Jam and Bread sweater and am trying a new thing. I’m knitting seamless sleeves two at a time. I’ve done this a lot with sweaters where the sleeves are knit separately, but it occurred to me that it should work equally well when the sleeves are already attached. It was kind of fiddly at first, but as soon as I got a little length on the sleeves, it evened out, and now I’m really liking it. Does anyone else knit sleeves this way?

 

Yarn Along: Sweater and Coates 11

Here I am posting just under the wire for the Wednesday Yarn Along!

This week I’m knitting the Tea with Jam and Bread sweater for Paul and reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Both are substantial and important in a million million ways.

 

Be sure to stop by Ginny Sheller’s Small Things blog for links to what lots of other people are knitting and reading this week.

 

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