Winter’s Vengeance

Here in the beautiful Cumberland Valley of south-central Pennsylvania, winters tend to be relatively mild. But every few years, Mother Nature decides to remind us that she is still very much in charge. And this has been one of those winters.

Oh, it started off mild enough. We did have a little snow for Christmas, which is unusual for us, but that was just a hint of what was in store for us in the new year. January was a mixed bag. We didn’t get a Farm Show storm; in fact, the weather during Farm Show week was pretty nice for a change. But then the Arctic Blast came and our weather has gone to hell in a hand basket.

First there were temperatures so cold, it couldn’t snow if it wanted to. And now the precipitation has begun. We are currently at the tail end of the second of three winter storms that are hitting in quick succession. First we had 8 inches of snow on Monday, then last night and this morning, we had more snow, then sleet, then freezing rain. There was enough sleet to cover the driveway, and the branches of the lilac bush outside my dining room window are coated in ice.

You can see the coating of ice on the branches through the screen.

The freezing rain was supposed to be followed by just plain rain, but, although the temperature has risen to well above freezing, the precipitation seems to have stopped. The ice is melting, but I don’t think it will melt fast enough to clear the driveway

A slushy mess in our driveway

before the temperatures fall back below freezing and create an icy mess just in time for the third storm that is expected to hit over the weekend. At the moment, the third storm is looking to be a minor threat to us, bringing only a 50% chance of snow showers, but that could change if the storm becomes more organized.

The leaves on the azalea by the front porch are encased in ice.

Fortunately for me, I don’t mind being snowbound. I have my spinning, knitting, and reading, not to mention hockey games to watch, all of which are indoor activities. I currently have only two active projects on the needles, a 22.5 Degrees scarf by Martina Behm, and a Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West.

22.5 Degrees in handspun BFL from Sunset Fibers in Blue Lagoon

22.5 Degrees in handspun Polwarth from Sunset Fibers in Blue Lagoon

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Silky Boneyard Shawl in “So Sari” Loop Bullseye handspun

As you can see, both are being knitted it my handspun yarn. I decided that this year I would start using my handspun in earnest. I love knitting with handspun.

To see what other talented fiber artists are up to, check out Tami’s WIP Wednesdays.

Yarn Cakes

Lately I’ve been knitting nothing but fingerless mitts. I love knitting fingerless mitts and plan to continue knitting them for the foreseeable future. But my handspun is calling to me. So I got my wooden swift out of the closet,

Wooden swift, ready for action!

Wooden swift, ready for action!

 

and pulled the “mashed potato” stool into place.

My ball winder is at home atop the "mashed potato" stool.

My ball winder is at home atop the “mashed potato” stool.

This wooden step stool belonged to my MIL. She kept it in the kitchen behind the door that led to a small hallway to the back door. Her house was old and so was her kitchen. There wasn’t a lot of counter space, so when she made mashed potatoes, she pulled this stool out and sat the hot pan of potatoes on the top of the stool while she mashed them. I never saw her use the stool for anything except mashing potatoes, so I have always called it the mashed potato stool. The stool now sits in my dining room/office next to my computer desk and is the permanent home of my ball winder. My MIL would be pleased to know her mashed potato stool is now an integral part of my yarn-winding “station.” 🙂

After getting the swift set up and the ball winder in place, I wound some of my handspun yarn into yarn cakes.

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

Each yarn now has a designated knitting project assigned to it.

Roses in Her Eyes, a 2-ply spun from a batt from Bohoknitterchic,

Yarn cake on a plate

is designated to become a pair of fingerless mitts. I haven’t decided for certain, but I’ll probably use a simple 2 x 1 or 3 x 1 ribbing and keep it very plain so that the beauty of the yarn will shine through.  The yarn has a lot of shine, sparkle, color, and texture. It’s a bit thick and thin, and a little slubby, so I plan to keep it simple. I hope it’s as much fun to knit as it was to spin.

Vintage Roses from Corgi Hill Farm will become a Downtown Cowl.

A Polwarth and silk blend

And finally, the pièce de résistance is this beautiful monochrome gradient from Spinneretta’s Studio

A lovely monochrome gradient of Polwarth top

that I spun and chain-plied to get a beautiful skein

Just look at the beautiful color transitions

that is now this beautiful yarn cake.

So lovely all wound up

This yarn needs a pattern that is suitable for a gradient yarn, and I think The Age of Steam and Brass is perfect.

I haven’t decided which handspun project to cast on first, but in the meanwhile, I will finish Anne’s Little Twist Mitts

Mitt #2 is well underway.

and probably cast on yet another pair of fingerless mitts. They are so quick and easy, and very satisfying to knit. And even better, they are wonderful to wear. If you’ve never worn a pair, give them a try. I think you will love them as much as I do. And if you have never knitted a pair… Do. It. NOW.

And be sure to visit Tami’s WIP Wednesday to see lots of other hand-crafted goodies.

 

Works In Progress on a WIP Wednesday

Thanks to lots of playoff hockey, I’ve been getting a lot of knitting done. My most recent cast-on, Hitchhiker, is progressing rapidly even as the rows get longer. It’s totally autopilot knitting, but with a potato chip element. I cannot knit just one row. 🙂

We're making progress!

We’re making progress!

This 2-ply handspun is lovely to knit with. I love the effect of the color changes. Dana of Unwind Yarn Company is a brilliant dyer.

On the sweater front, Cassidy now has a back and two fronts,

She's starting to look like a sweater.

She’s starting to look like a sweater.

and the first sleeve is underway. If I were a monogamous knitter, Cassidy would probably be finished already. But I simply cannot bring myself to stick to one project at a time, and there’s no rush to finish Cassidy because she’s definitely a winter sweater, and winter is still a long way off here in the Northern Hemisphere.

On the spinning front, I’m spinning some lovely red Falkland wool on a drop spindle.

Unwind Yarn Company Falkland in O-Neg on one of my Goldings

Unwind Yarn Company Falkland in O-Neg on one of my Goldings

My progress is slow, but I try to spin on it at least a little every day.

I spend a lot more time spinning on my wheel, so my progress there is a lot faster. I’m currently working on some lovely “swirl” BFL, a blend of black and white BFL that is then dyed to create colors that spin up into a beautifully heathered yarn. I love the way this particular colorway spins up.

Sunset Fibers BFL on the Ladybug

Sunset Fibers BFL on the Ladybug

I divided the roving into thirds and plan to spin 3 bobbins of singles, then make a 3-ply yarn. I’m kind of in love with 3-ply handspun. 🙂

Be sure to check out other works in progress on Tami’s WIP Wednesday.