December 31, 2014

Another year over ... and new projects just begun!

The Christmas knitting was finished, though I was still knitting dish cloths on Christmas morning, on time for gift-giving festivities this year.  I swear, like I do every year, that I need to start The List in September next year instead of November.  But, hindsight aside, each kid ended up with something that their momma made for them:

hunting beanie for Scout #1
fluorescent Sportswoman gloves for Rocket
extra long Sportsman gloves for Scout #2
And by the time I wove in the ends on the last gift basket dish cloth, my hands were waving the white flag of surrender, so there wasn't actually a new project cast on (and I just about went batty because of it) on Christmas day as planned.  That's okay, though, because it gave me time to look through this little gem that my Honey bought for me for Christmas, the 6-volume set of Weldon's Practical Needlework.


The attribute of this collection that defines its awesomeness is that I can learn how to do any type of needlework according to historically accurate instructions.  I may have to learn tatting in 2015. It's also interesting to note that many of the projects among these pages are cross-disciplinary, meaning that a knitting project may also include crochet and macrame, or an embroidery project may also require a crocheted or tatted lace edge.  This was the best gift of all!

On the 26th, I cast on for a new pair of socks in Rusted from my Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock yarn stash. I thought briefly about working up something complicated and interesting, but decided to just work up a pair of plain socks ... but now I seem to have lost interest a bit so maybe I will rip back and re-think the plan. They aren't knitting up very "rusty"--more like grey and brown stripes with a bit of white pooling.  I can't decide if it's the plainness of the sock or the lackluster colorway that is turning me off.



On the 27th, I cast on for that Eyeblink crescent shawl that I've been wanting to knit up in my stashed Firewood Tosh Merino Light.  You might recall that I knit one for my mom for her birthday in pink in October. I was pretty pleased with the pattern, though I am tossing about the idea of changing the lace pattern that finishes it off.


Since the shawl is a no-brainer and uses larger needles which also are surprisingly easy on my tired hands, it seems to be the go-to project at the moment.  I might even have it done by New Year's Day.

In other hobby news ... I finally finished reading World Without End by Ken Follett.  Although I am a fan of Ken Follett, and I did read the first book of this series, Pillars of the Earth, I have to say that somewhere around the middle of the book (about page 500) I lost interest and put it down for about a year.  With shouts of triumph, however, I finished page 1,111 this past Monday morning.  I tell you this not because it's particularly interesting that I finished reading an unbelievably lengthy text, but because I have discovered that I can knit and read AT THE SAME TIME!  So, that's pretty great because I've mostly spent the last several years choosing between knitting and reading, and now I can just do both simultaneously.  Fun, fun!

I wish you and yours health and happiness in 2015!


December 12, 2014

Making Sense of a Mess

I saw this cute genderless hat pattern on Ravelry and thought, "How great would that be for all of the guys in my house for Christmas?!".  I'm not going to name it right now, as I am currently rather ill about the way the instructions are worded for the hat band, which is to say that I think they are worded rather scantily and badly and required me to start over after about 20 rounds when I finally had an epiphany about what the writer wanted me to intuitively do.  I'm also miffed about the fact that the gauge in the pattern isn't working for the yarn on the needles having done a provisional cast on, though it was perfect on the first go around.  I don't want to give the pattern designer a bad rap at this point because, well, in my current and generally agitated state, the problem could be me.

                                

Although I am already trying to whip out the dishcloths and finish a pair of gloves for Rocket (one of which also had to be frogged and re-knit), I need to get this hat done by, dare I say, TUESDAY, as I intended it as a birthday present.  I thought that, despite my rush, this would be a quick knit, especially since it's really just one of those good stress-knit projects where you knit in circles, decrease a few rows, and bind off.  No frills.  Just one color change and mindless knitting.  But, perhaps, the stress is overcoming my knitting.  You see, we hired a contractor to build a barn 8 weeks ago.  By now, we really should have a 3-story building with a roof and only siding left to go on and a few gazillion gallons of stain.  Instead, we have a hole that, turns out is 2 feet shy of being deep enough and a sizeable portion of a 12 ft., u-shaped, load bearing block wall that doesn't pass inspection (or any building codes) and a contractor who doesn't feel the need to use licensed professionals.  There's more wrong with this situation, but you're probably stressed out just from the little bit I've mentioned.

So again, I knit. TUESDAY. This has to be done by Tuesday.

December 09, 2014

The Perils of Christmas Knitting

I found the perfect colorway for a pair of gloves for Rocket to match her neon winter jacket. This has been a difficult task since she's been around more often than I expected with more than a touch of her first real winter cold and a day out of school.  So there I was, knitting away at a frenzied pace on a pair of secret gloves, sitting by an afternoon fire, thinking about turning on a bit of Christmas music. I was through the cuffs and just working my way around the front of the second glove toward the start of the thumb gusset when I realized (gasp!!) that the second glove was not counting out correctly.  In shock and dismay, I counted again. How could this be?! When I say that it was not counting out correctly, I don't mean not counting out correctly as in I was off by a stitch or two.  I mean, I was off by two glove sizes, meaning that I had one small glove and one large glove on the needles!  How in the name of all things knitterly could that have happened!?!


Yes, this colorway really is that bright!
After much swearing and desperate re-counting, there was only one thing to do: dive into the frog pond.  Okay, so it was only a measly 35 rows that needed to be re-knit, which normally would not be that great of a hardship, but, even if you forget that Christmas morning is 15 days away and that I still have another pair of gloves to finish, 3 hats, and 8.5 dish cloths to whip out, there is one peril of knitting, particularly occurring during the Christmas knitting insanity  season that one cannot overcome: the striping doesn't match on the second go-around.  Nope, not even a little bit.  It was pretty dang perfect the first time through but, because the knitting gods have a sick sense of humor, especially regarding all holiday knitting, the second time, no matter how carefully planned, will not stripe the same way.  NOT AT ALL!

The other thing that irks me is that I could have had the hands finished to the finger starting point today had I not had to spend my 1.5 hours of knitting time re-knitting the second cuff.  Even Nature is  picking up on my mood, as the sun has disappeared behind some rather threatening clouds and has kept this up through the whole of my knitting and the writing of this post.  I have, however, managed to get back to where I was in the pattern before the delusions of knitting mastery were shattered.

Gotta' go make up for lost time, so ho, ho, ho and happy knitting! 

December 01, 2014

The End of My Etsy Era

And with a click of the button and a few choice last words for the powers that be at Etsy about how they've trashed the artisans who built that company, my Etsy shop is no more.  It's a bit sad to suddenly have no Etsy shop after almost 5 years, but I'm moving on!


My new shop's appearance at Zibbet.com is eerily like my original shop at Etsy.  I like the look of the large photos and listings better than what's been done to the Etsy listings pages.  It's definitely like starting over and being whisked back in time ... except that 5 years later my life is so much more awesome than it was then that starting over doesn't seem as daunting as starting up did in 2010.

You know what has been just fabulous about leaving Etsy?  The response from past customers when I contacted them to let them know that I was closing my shop and moving it elsewhere has been amazing!  Every convo response that arrived in my inbox said 2 things: "I'll be happy to follow you to your new shop!" and "I, too, have noticed all the Chinese junk on Etsy and have stopped shopping here because of it."  Such a response makes me feel like I am making the right choice. I've also gotten supportive messages from other shop owners who used to be on Etsy and have also moved elsewhere.

So here's a little self-promotion in the social media realm.  I'm in a few places--my kids tell me that I'm too old and make fun of me to be active on social media, which is pretty hilarious!--and I would love it if you wanted to get connected. Actually, I have a bet going with my teenage boys about whether or not I can become "Insta-famous" without their help. They seem to think I don't stand a chance at social media popularity. I'd love it if you'd help me to prove them wrong!

FB: Cedar Hill Farm Company
Twitter: @cedarhillfarmco
Instagram: @cedarhillfarmcompany
Tumblr: knittingstash
Rav ID: zibelineknits
Online shop:  http://www.zibbet.com/cedar-hill-farm-company
Farm website:  http://www.cedarhillfarmcompany.com

I hope that you will also follow me to my new shop and continue to visit this blog. I will have a new label of yarn coming out in January, though I have yet to settle on a label name, that I know you will love.  This is some seriously squishy merino fingering weight sock/shawl yarn, folks (think Malabrigo Sock and then think "squishier").  It's so seriously awesome that it's going to be used as part of a crazy-big event on the blog Tangledmania (there's also a Rav group) where Jennifer is going to be knitting every single pattern in the pattern book Botanical Knits.  I'm providing the yarn for the Ivy Trellis Mittens (lovely pattern!), alongside other yarn companies that include Knit Picks, Three Fate Yarns, and Celestial Strings. There will be updates here, on the Rav page, and of course on Tangledmania. So stay tuned for that, too!



November 13, 2014

A Change of Venue

So, if you are an Etsy seller like me, you've probably noticed that this year's sales are in the toilet, unless, of course, you happen to be one of the Chinese (probably sweatshop, human rights violating, mass-producing) factories that have been allowed to sell "handmade" crap on Etsy since 2013. Etsy used to be an OOAK, hand-crafted, handmade and vintage only, made in America, online market place. That's what made Etsy, well, Etsy.  It was not Amazon.  It was not Ebay.  It was the place to go to get that special toy or yarn or dress or hand-knit scarf or nick-knack or piece of handcrafted jewelry.  Now, it's a market place where cheap made-in-China crap fills the first 50 pages of your search and undercuts the prices of the real artisans.  And the real artisans, the Americans, have watched their sales become non-existent.  Etsy even went so far, when sellers and teams boycotted Etsy en masse, to lie to sellers and say that they weren't doing what they did.  So here's my deal:

I've thought about this and thought about this and been angry and been sad (I've been with Etsy for nearly 5 years) and done some research and now I am starting over with a new shop on a new site, Zibbet.com.  This is a site that is what Etsy was when Etsy first began.  It doesn't have fancy bells and whistles, they aren't beta testing a new page view format or trying to come up with ways to prevent buyers and sellers from contacting the powers that be every month.  They aren't offering you a million ways to pay (or sellers a million ways to get cheated out of the profits from the few sales they are getting). They are just offering a platform for American artisans and indie dyers to connect with the people who used to connect with Etsy but have turned away. It's good to make money, but I'll tell you this:  I can't support anyone who uses "made in America" as a front for lining their pockets with Chinese kickbacks.  Sorry, Etsy, I just can't do it.

So the new shop is open for business.  The shop is Cedar Hill Farm Company. I am still adding listings (it takes about an hour to create 10 listings, and I have over 220 to put in there), but I hope you will visit my shop anyway to check it out and add a bookmark to you tool bar. Just to remind you of why you love my hand dyed yarn ...



Thanks for stopping by and for supporting American small business. 

November 07, 2014

A Week of FOs: Handspun & More Gloves

This little number has been sitting on my Kromski wheel for about 6 weeks, waiting patiently to be concluded.


Originally, this was a batt of fuchsia Corriedale and a batt of teal Corriedale. I blended them together in an even quantity, and voila! The most amazing, iridescent fingering weight handspan ever!  There's something special about this handspun.  I mean, depending on the light, it's pink or teal or lilac or a funky combination of all three at once.  The fiber has a great crimp to it and a sheen that makes this hank just sort of glow in the light.

I usually dry my hand spun yarn with a weight to draw out the crimp in the yarn from too much twist or too much crimp in the fiber, but the weather has been odd, and I have been recovering from my first respiratory virus of the season, and, well, I kinda just let it hang over the towel bar to dry.
I am thinking that this one will not have a shop debut and stay in my own stash.  I am thinking that it wants to be a crescent shawl ... It wants to be some kind of lacey something, that I know for sure!

But wait!  There's one last FO for the week:  my own pair of Sportswoman gloves.  This pair was started about ... 2 years ago maybe?  I actually just happened to find this mostly finished pair in a bag that was stuffed underneath another, much bigger project in flux in a much bigger bag yesterday.  The yarn is Mission Sock in the Blackberry Smoothie color way, which I haven't had since we bought the farm, so I know it's been a good while that these have been hibernating!


And by the time the kids got off the bus yesterday, this pair was finished and out feeding the sheep! (That's Stella in the foreground and Blanche in the background.)



And so ends my week of FOs.  What a fantastically productive week!  Although I do still have 4 sweaters and a wrap that would also like to be FOs, it's a great feeling to have so many projects out of hibernation and finished. It's crazy how many needles I now have available for new projects!

November 06, 2014

A Week of FOs: Cuffs & Gloves

I have two more FOs to report this morning as part of my quest to eliminate the stash of unfinished projects that have been hiding in closets and bags all year.

The boot cuffs, though I haven't yet moved on to the accompanying pair of fingerless gloves, are finished and I have been wearing them with my muck boots, which used to be the color of this yarn but have had a turn or two in the mud (clay) and grass.


I think I sensed a bit of jealousy this morning when we were feeding horses and sheep from my Honey because he doesn't have any boot cuffs for his muck boots.  I didn't know that was a guy thing.

And speaking of feeding the horses this morning, Rusty was kind enough to pose for about 3 milliseconds to get a picture of Honey's new gloves, which began the week, having sat in hibernation since, I think, last December, like this:


And ended the week like this:



And so, with one more day to go on the FOs list, it looks like there might be a new hank of handspan in the stash.  You'll have to check back tomorrow. Happy knitting!

November 05, 2014

Indie Untangled & Cedar Hill Farm Company

Hey, y'all!  I've been featured!

Indie Untangled has me right there, front and center, on the blog post page today.  And, I'm doing a giveaway, so go on over and enter!  It's everything you ever wanted to know about me and our farm and the Cedar Hill Farm Company yarn works.  I'm totally stoked!


And do you know what else is going on right now outside my studio window?  The barn is finally turning a corner and has become more than just a gigantic 14-foot hole in the Georgia clay.  We have footers, folks!



And Chester would like everyone to know that he doesn't like concrete trucks in his pasture.



November 04, 2014

A Week of FOs: Eyeblink

A week ago, it was my mother's birthday.  She has been wanting something in pink for a while now, and although we differ on what is a good shade of pink for a shawl, she did like this one that Rocket and I picked out. This is a cherry blossom pink, pale pink, and lilac hand paint called Mermaid's Glory that I picked up from a dyer in Kentucky: Mary Lamb Nehring of Colors to Dye For.  The yarn is a lace weight 70% sea cell (sea weed) / 30% silk.  It was a dream to knit with, and it worked up into this Eyeblink shawl (I WILL be making one of these crescent shawls for myself, though I might change up the lace edging).






I totally recommend this pattern!  The shawl knit up very quickly, and the lace, of course took a bit longer to do, but I knit the whole thing, blocked it, and photographed it in about 9 days.  And by the by, this fiber combination blocks amazingly well.  I expected it to be a pain because of the silk content, but not at all--totally holds its shape.

November 03, 2014

A Week of FOs: More Jekyll & Hyde Socks

This week's blog posts are going to be focused on finished objects.  I have so many light-weight projects partly finished and a few middle-weight projects, as well, and darn it if I am not going to just hunker down and get some done this week!

So first up are the socks.  Sometime early in the summer, I dyed the Pop Star color way for my Rocket Sock line.  This colorway originated with and was supervised by my, then, 10 year-old daughter.  It is a medley of fuchsia, pale pink, grape, and ultra-violet (Blogger is making these socks a little brighter than they actually are in person).  It took her a bit to settle on a pattern, and we finally went with Jekyll & Hyde, which I liked the first time through but found tedious on the second go-around.  Needless to say, instead of my usual 8-day turn-around for a pair of socks, these have taken me at least 3 months to get done. And here they are, ready on the morning of the hardest frost so far this Autumn (26 deg. F. this morning).  The frost was such a hard one that when I first looked out the window this morning, I thought it had snowed!



SOOOOO happy to be done with these and able to start a pair for myself ... right after I finish something else. 

October 21, 2014

The Everdene Wrap

It's been a year since Knit Picks published my Everdene Wrap in their bulky collection, and the rights just reverted back to me (yeah!).  So, let's take a minute to re-introduce this quick-knit, easy cabled and ruffled wrap.


The wrap is knit flat in a single piece on US 13 needles with bulky weight WOTA. The center is herringbone stitch, so this is one very cozy wrap!  Both edges of the central fabric are flanked by giant, closely connected trophy cables that are worked the entire length of the wrap.


The ends of the wrap naturally ruffle, and then there are also buttons to hold the wrap around your torso.


Unfortunately, the pictures don't include the wrap being worn correctly--there is an additional "invisible" button that secures the end hanging down in the pictures to the underside of the wrap to give the wrap a poncho feature.  That's how I'd wear it, anyway.

If you are new to cabling or even to knitting in general, this is a great first cabling project.  I could even see this being worked up in tonal or kettle-dyed yarn, as well as the solid color.  If you were just that kind of determined, you could also work the cabled edges in an intarsia fashion and do the edging in a different color than the body.

Anyway, if you are so inclined, the pattern can be purchased here:  Everdene on Knit Picks.


October 20, 2014

Start-itis

It's that crazy time of year when I want to drop everything that I am working on and start a new project.  I have a few old projects that seem to have just been dragging their feet and not getting finished, mostly because of pattern designing and the making of gifts which have kept me from being able to knit on the old projects. Call me selfish, but I am desperately wanting to make or finish something for myself for a change.  I don't think I've knit for me since maybe June?  (Sigh.)

I started this boot cuff in Swish Worsted (Lava Heather), then ripped it totally back because, well,  a honeycomb cable wasn't what I wanted after all, and have knit back to about half-way through the project.


I am, however, wondering why in the world I didn't cast on to knit these 2-at-a-time because now I am going to have to make another one and we all know about THAT syndrome!  I had planned to knit these in June and to make a pair of fingerless Urbanista gloves to round out the set.  Sadly, this is not what I want to be knitting, as it turns out.

But, ahem.  There's another call for pattern submissions for fall/winter sweaters that just hit my inbox. So, Friday I sent the kids off to school and sat down at the computer with an idea, did a little swatch, and by 10:30 am I had written a complete cable-y drop-shoulder sweater pattern in 5 sizes.  I picked out the yarn and ordered it. This will be one of those can't-show-you projects.  I've too many of those going on around here already, and that's probably what is causing my start-itis.  I know what I want to knit for myself: a shawl, 4 pair of socks, and some new Sportswoman gloves.  I also happen to have all the yarn I need for these projects.  Something tells me, though, that I will be starting another test-knit just as I am wrapping up another gift project and my just-for-me agenda will get set aside.  Plus, my children have begun giving me their Christmas "orders", which include Sportsman gloves, socks, and several beanies.

Christmas is in 9 weeks.  Yep.  Definitely not getting to my own personal knitting agenda until January. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

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