It's been a while since I posted a Snapshots post, and I've been missing them. So, welcome (hopefully) weekly Snapshots posts back to the blog!

Here they are, a few snapshots from the last couple of weeks, brought to you by my iPhone and Instagram.

a shot of my yarn storage set-up. i love them!

a productive snow day means one finished sock!

naturally dyed wool/silk yarn with cutch and baking soda

sundottir coming along!

naturally dyed romanian wool with red onion skins and iron

a 70 degree january day

and just a few weeks later, blanketed in snow

Happy Friday! Hope you all have a wonderful, fiber-filled weekend!


Single No More

My poor, lonely sock. All alone for over 3 years with no mate. Today, that's changed.

I'm so happy to have this sock off my needles and the pair on my feet. It's almost as if some imaginary weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and I can now go about all my knitting guilt-free, knowing this sock now has a mate.

While I don't think I'll be making a habit of taking over 3 years to make a pair of socks, it was actually pretty interesting to see how much I've improved as a knitter over that time. My decreases are much, much cleaner, I'm much better at being able to read my knitting, and I've learned to trust my intuition. There's a mistake in the pattern, and when I knitted the first sock, it appears I just followed the pattern exactly without even thinking about it. When I got to that part of the pattern in the second sock, I saw the instructions and immediately knew there was a mistake. For consistencies sake, I knit the sock according to the pattern, since that's how I knitted the first one, but it was really a confidence booster to see how far I've come.

The pattern was Marilinda from Cookie A.'s book Knit.Sock.Love. I love the finished result, and actually really enjoyed knitting the second sock, but I feel that it's a little ridiculous for there not to be some errata information, especially since the error I picked up on is pretty glaring, and almost everyone who has knitted these socks on Ravelry has noticed it. I'm hoping to make a few more pairs of socks from this book, and am going to make sure I read through the Ravelry notes of other knitters for any pattern mistakes.

This yarn is a skein that I picked up at a fiber festival years ago from an indie dyer in Georgia. While I absolutely love the color, I didn't truly love knitting with the yarn. The twist on my skein was so high, that at times, the yarn became tangled up in a mess. I remember having this problem while knitting the first sock, so I don't think it's because it was sitting for so long in a center pull ball. I even tried rewinding it a couple of times, hoping that would help, but it didn't. I was worried in some places that the yarn was going to break, so I'm a little concerned about longevity, but only time will tell.

Now that my first sock of 2015 is done, I'm itching to do more! This morning I cast on for some cozy socks using some wool I dyed with black walnuts. I love a good pair of thick, cozy socks!


Tree Rings

My mother in law turns 60 this Friday, and since the people you love only turn 60 once (unless you're my mom, who's still celebrating her 30th birthday), I felt that it called for a big knitted gift. I debated back and forth between a sweater or a blanket, and ultimately chose to knit her a blanket. I wanted to gift to be a surprise, and knew that if I made her a sweater, I would need her measurements, which would be hard to do without ruining the surprise. I mean, how do you ask someone their bust measurement "just out of curiosity"?  So, a blanket was the winning choice. Jake and I perused Ravelry, looking for something we thought she'd love, and ended up going with Tree Rings by Andrea Rangle, from Wool People 6.

(You'll have to excuse the lack-of-natural-light photos. It's staying lighter later and later, but it just wasn't enough for these photos!)

Ahhh, that lace edging. (Side note: do not just Google the word "edging" to see if it's spelled right. I was horrified by the results. Kids these days...) It was very time consuming, and kinda a pain in the ass, but so worth it. In total, the lace 24-row chart is repeated 48 times. It took me until somewhere around the 30th repeat to actually have the thing memorized. Once I did have it memorized, though, that helped speed up the process.

For the sake of time, I had to leave out the last repeat of the slipped stitch pattern. I was a little worried at first that it might make the blanket too small, but as soon as I laid it out to block, those fears went away. It's still really big! A great size for one person to snuggle up with.

I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in the Fedora colorway. It's such a great workhorse wool, and I think this blanket will last quite a long time, and will hopefully be well loved! 


A Tale of Two Needles, and More Thoughtful Purchasing

Let me tell you a little story about the needles below. These are both 60 inch circular needles, and it probably doesn't take much more than a glance at the photo to tell that there's a huge difference in the two. The pair on the left was purchased in 2010, when I was making a Girasole for my grandparents. I found someone on Etsy who was selling 60 inch circular needles in sizes US 4-13, and the entire bunch was only a couple more bucks than one pair, so I bought them all. The pair on the right, I just purchased a couple of weeks ago to replace those on the left, because they are such poor quality, that they were hardly usable. Why am I telling you all this?

For a few reasons. I'll start off by saying that I've always prided myself on being "cheap". Getting the most for my money - hey, I'm the kid of teachers. It's how I was raised. However, as I'm getting older, and I'm starting to take a good look at the things I'm purchasing, I'm starting to re-think that mindset. First off, had I just purchased the single pair of needles I needed, I would have spent less, and when it came time for me to use those 60 inch needles again, I would have saved myself a lot of frustration and anger. Instead, I spent my money on things that were poor quality - but, hey, I got like 10 pairs of needles instead of just one! - and ended up wasting money, because I will never use any of those needles because they are so bad. Second, I've really started thinking about quality over quantity. It's so easy to justify purchasing a bunch of yarn (or anything, really. This definitely applies to all aspects of my life!) when it's really cheap. But is it worth it? Do I need it? Usually the answer is no. Lately, I've started thinking more about buying quality things that may be more expensive, yet will last me a lot longer. Now, I completely recognize that my yarn budget will probably never allow me to knit all my sweaters out of Brooklyn Tweed yarn, but I've come to the conclusion that instead of buying cheap yarn (because look how much you can get for the money!), I'd rather buy nicer, more quality wool that may be a little more expensive, and just buy less. It's time for me to start putting my money where my heart is, and start buying more thoughtfully, instead of more spontaneously. 

These thoughts have been floating in my head for a while, but it wasn't until I started listening to Ashley's new podcast, Woolful, that I really started focusing on those thoughts. If you enjoy podcasts, I definitely recommend giving Woolful a listen. And, bonus, I've been participating in several of her "Man on the Street" segments, where I call in and answer a fun fiber related question that she's asked, so in a few episodes you'll be able to hear my voice! (Side note: isn't it fun to hear the voice of someone that you know through the Internet for the first time? You imagine it in your head when you read blogs, but it's always neat to hear it in real life. It may surprise some of you that I do not have a Southern accent, despite being raised in the South!)

Anyway, in last week's episode, she interviewed Karen Templer of Fringe Association, and Felicia Semple of The Craft Sessions, and for some reason that one really motivated me to get my act together. I'd discovered Felicia through Instagram a week or two prior, and loved her idea of "stash-less", so the fact that she was on the podcast almost seemed like the universe's way of telling me to take action. 

I realize that this will be a slow process for me, since I've been in the "get more for your money" mindset for so long, but I'm looking forward to applying this new, more thoughtful way of spending to all aspects of my life. One thing I wanted to do this year was to get more involved in my local fiber community, and I feel like these two goals can really compliment each other.


An Instagram Giveaway

I wanted to pop in quickly this morning to let you know I'm having a little giveaway over on Instagram. I've decided to give away 2 skeins of my naturally dyed wool! Both are 50g, approximately 440 yards of laceweight merino wool dyed with alkanet root.

To enter, all you have to do is find the above photo on my Instagram page, and tag a friend in the comments - that enters you both to win! You can leave up to 3 comments, tagging 3 different friends. I'm going to randomly choose a comment this Friday, January 30, and the person who commented and the friend they tagged will both win a skein! (U.S. & Canadian residents only this time, sorry!)

I've been having so much fun with these natural dyes, and I am excited to share some of it with 2 lucky people!


A Look at the Year Ahead

I'm a little late in posting this, seeing as how it's almost February (what??!), but I realized I never spoke about my knitting plans for 2015 here on the blog. At some point in December, when I was thinking ahead to 2015, I found a sock. You'll notice that's not plural. A lone sock, that was completed in November. 

November 2011. (It's ok, you can judge me.)

I know exactly what happened. In 2011, I had just knit my first pair of socks - a bulky, quick knit. Apparently, I thought that would translate over to this pair, so I cast on thinking they'd be done in no time. Obviously I was wrong, since that sock has been a loner for over 3 years. I decided then that in 2015, I would finally give this sock a mate, and that I would make it a goal of mine to knit more socks. As I write this, I have 4 pairs of handknit socks in my wardrobe. Two of those pairs were made with either bulky or worsted weight, so they are more socks for wearing around the house.

I then took a moment to take stock of all my sock yarn, and discovered I have enough to make 12 pairs (not pictured is another skein), and that's not including the lone sock pictured at the beginning of this post. So I decided to make my goal to knit through my stash. I didn't set a goal of a certain number of pairs, because I want to enjoy the process, and not stress out that I'm not doing it fast enough. I also purchased a couple of pairs of 9 inch circular needles (thanks to a tip from Julie), which I'm hoping will aid me in enjoying the process a bit more. I've also got Cookie A.'s book, Knit. Sock. Love, which inspires me every time I look through it, so I imagine I'll be making a few pairs from that book.

Along with socks, I plan on focusing on more sweaters in 2015. I am a total sweater knitter. I love seeing all the pieces come together to create a wearable work of art. I cast on for my first sweater of 2015 last night, another knit along with Jesse. We're knitting Sundottir, from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People 6. I was even a good knitter, and knit, washed, blocked & measured a gauge swatch!

Also on my to-knit list for 2015 are Oshima, Fold & Turn, Honeycomb Aran. Breezy Cardigan, Beatnik, a couple of designs floating in my noggin, and Seamless Hybrid for Jake. I have no idea if I'll get through all of these, or if I'll get distracted by new patterns along the way, but I know for sure that Oshima and Fold & Turn will get knitted this year.

What are your knitting or fiber goals for the new year? Hope your 2015 is off to a great start!


Experiments in Color

Back in October, I signed up for a natural dyeing class at our local homesteading store. Jake wanted to come too, so the two of us walked up to the shop to learn more about the colors we can derive from the natural sources around us. I'm so fortunate to have a husband that is so supportive, and shows interest in things I'm interested in. He was interested for different reasons, but I love that we can both go to things like this class and take something away from it. For me, it was all about learning about the dye process, and what colors I could extract from local plants. For him, it was all about learning about the chemical process, and the history of natural dyes.

I digress.

The class was a blast. I learned so much, and we each got to dye a skein to bring home. He chose madder root, I chose hibiscus flowers. They were completely different, and both so beautiful. Since then, I've been doing some experimenting with natural dyeing, and I thought I'd share some of it with you. 

These are the most recent skeins I've dyed. The one on the left was dyed with ivy leaves, and the one on the right was dyed with alkanet root. I bought the alkanet root, but I harvested all the ivy leaves from our yard - that makes that skein even more special to me. I'm really happy with how these both turned out, even though the alkanet skein is a bit more variegated than I had hoped. I think it was because I put in some baking soda after the yarn was in the dye pot, and it didn't reach all the dye. It's still lovely though.

And here they all are. These are all the skeins I have that have been naturally dyed. From left to right are: madder root, hibiscus flowers (those two are from the workshop), marigolds, black beans overdyed with a tiny bit of hibiscus, black bean overdyed with ivy, ivy, and alkanet root.

I've been chatting back and forth with some local fiber enthusiasts who are also experimenting with natural dyeing, and we're in the process of planning a time to meet up and do some dyeing together. I've been having so much fun with it, and would encourage you to give it a try if it's something you've been thinking about.

I'm always excited about spring and all the flowers that grow in my yard, but this year I'm excited to use some of those flowers to dye with! I've been dreaming of a little dye garden for years, and am more inspired than ever to plant one.