Saturday Start: A New Venture!

One of my favorite things to do is curate gifts and collections. I once worked as a personal shopper, and walking around with customers and helping them select items was an absolute favorite activity. With this in mind, I have decided I want to combine my love of knitting and fiber arts, handmade items, natural fibers, and curating collections by starting my own yarn mystery box company: Chestnut Hills Farm and Fiber! This will be a part time enterprise. I’m planning to curate a mystery box seasonally, so just four times per year, at least at first.

The first box is called Spring Thaw, and is inspired by my original photo below:

I’m very excited to be including yarn from Cornbread and Honey, along with her fabulous lotion bars. I’ve always loved her color aesthetic, and she will be dyeing on non-superwash merino wool in a special colorway just for this box! There will be stitch markers by MAB Elements, who I recently discovered, and I am in love with her work. (Look for a shawl pin in a future box!) And for those who want a little more mystery, the Cultivate Box will include a special flower pot made by Megs Levesseur, also inspired by the theme! I will be including some seeds from my garden to plant in the pot, along with information about the seeds and season.

In future boxes, I hope to include original patterns, some of my own hand dyed yarn, and other goodies made by regional artisans I admire. I hope you’ll consider supporting me on this new endeavor! There are a limited number of boxes available for purchase, and you can also support by sharing this link on your blog, or resharing on social media. Thank you! This has been a long time coming, and I’m very excited about the possibilities of this enterprise.

Swatch It to Me Monday

I finished my swatches for Auchnaha. The gauge was close on size 6 US needles, with the Tukuwool DK in Rohto coming out just a little bigger, on the left. (I made an oopsy with an accidental row of purls on the knit side.) As you can see, it’s a very woolly yarn that did not soften with washing. On the right is Kate Davies’ Designs Schiehallion in Mooring. It’s a much softer yarn that I think will be better for this design, which I intend to wear over short sleeves. In fact, this design in this color is perfect to wear over my plaid A-line dress. So that’s that. The Tukuwool will make a wonderful, warm, winter cardigan or pullover, so I’ll save it for something in that vein.

Do you swatch? As a rule, I don’t always. But I’m starting to find the fun in swatching for design. I may become a regular swatcher!

All the Knitalongs and Bloganuary

In addition to the Vertices Unite Knitalong (KAL), I’ve joined another shawl KAL! This one is run by Malabrigo, and I’ve signed up through Mass Ave Knit Shop. I was visiting Indianapolis this week for work, and of course I stopped by the yarn store! The yarn on the left is for the KAL: Arroyo in Marte, Cian, and Frank Ochre. The pattern is La Mondiola Wrap. I guess 2022 is going to be The Year of the Shawl for me.

The pink is Chunky in Hollyhock. I’ve been wanting to knit a Getting Warmer Cowl for myself, and this color stopped me in my tracks. I’ve knit one already for a silent auction item from merino I picked up in Kenya that I dyed vermillion red. I loved knitting it and trying it on, and wanted to make one for myself. I think this pink will look fantastic with my royal blue melton coat I’m going to sew!

The necklace in my photo is from Purlsmith. I love their sterling stitch marker jewelry. And right now I am really identifying with the rough freshwater pearl, feeling as though I’ve been through the wash a few times but still have some rough spots to smooth out. Although today I’m wearing a green agate stitch marker on my necklace, which I received in my Yuletide Mystery Box from November Woods Fiber Co. I can’t believe I never blogged about that. It was a lovely gift to myself in December, including indigo dyed green yarn and a handmade mug.

Did you know this month is Bloganuary? I’m getting a late start. Today’s prompt is to write about what year you would travel to — back in time — if you could. My answer is 1536: Tudor England. Henry VIII turns England upside down for Anne Boleyn, she is queen for three years, and then he has her beheaded. What the heck happened?! I have read and watched so many historic and fictional accounts, but none of them satisfy my curiosity. My latest acquisition is The Story of the Death of Anne Boleyn: A Poem by Lancelot de Carle. His poem is an eye witness account of the event in verse form written for the French king. The book is a translation with essays by Joann DellaNeva. The poem is not new, but a full version has been discovered that was suppressed in England because it’s pro-Anne. I guess Henry didn’t like that.

In Betwixt Yarn Advent

I was very pleased with my yarn advent from Lizzie Bird Yarns. It’s an “in betwixt” set for the days between Christmas and New Year’s. As you can see, it came with each skein lovingly wrapped, plus lots of special goodies, including a sweet set of gingerbread stitch markers.

I chose the Log Cabin set, and I love the subdued colors and gold sparkle. As fate would have it, I have a skein of Campfire Yarn’s Cranberry Forest with gold stellina that is a perfect match for this set. It was a gift, and I’m excited to put these together for a Yuletide shawl later this year.

I have to say, I am really glad I purchased a yarn advent and didn’t just go with my DIY idea — which honestly was kind of a let down. I love the advent chest, though, so I’ll try to come up with a different idea to use it next year.

Did you receive any yarn over the holidays? Are you already planning your holiday knits for 2022, as I am? I would love to hear about it.

DIY Fall Advent: #1

Last year I realized I got so excited about fall and Halloween yarns and knitting patterns, I decided to make my own fall advent with yarns from my stash. The goal was to keep me from going overboard buying yarn this fall. I paired the skeins with patterns (some I had, some I purchased, most were free) and stitch markers from my collection. Then I sewed fabric bags and tagged them with the date I should open them.

This is the contents of the first bag. I love it! I don’t have any socks on the needles, so I may cast these on. This colorway is Fall Sangria from Cornbread and Honey. I have two weeks until the next advent bag!

Hi! Vacation Day 1 – All The SQUIRREL!

Today is the first day of a badly needed week of vacation. And… I have cast on block. I have so many things I want to cast on, I don’t know what to knit first.

Short List:

1. Arrowhead Cardigan – Colorwork and it’s a great week to pay attention. It’s cast on and ready in my basket. (All links are Ravelry links.)

2. Vintersol Sweater – My yummy new yarn is calling to me.

3. Celtic Myths Shawl – Cables and it’s a good week to pay attention. I’m so close to finishing it. I think I will try to knock it out.

4. Hansel Hap – since the start of this will be good TV knitting, I will cast this on later in the week so I have it ready when I go back to work and need evening wind-down knitting. The Ramsay Farm Shetland yarn is calling to me. So squishy and smells so good!

5. New socks for Bob. One should always have a pair of socks on the needles.

6. New socks for me. I have some very springy sock yarn I would like to knit into some shorties.

7. Onipa’a Shawl: “Stand Firm, Resolute. Be true to yourself.” I did and I was. I fell in love with this pattern and bought some gorgeous Finn and Kid Mohair yarn from Mindful Folk Farm during Botanica last weekend, dyed with Logwood, to knit it with. It’s gorgeous. Early birthday gift to myself.

8. Skipwith Cardigan: Number 1 in my queue because I would like to wear this and soon. It’s a fingering weight cardi. Even if I do cast on, is that likely to happen? 🙃

Okay, see now I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what to do.

In other news, it’s taking me forever to finish the body of my Anker’s Summer Shirt. “Just a few more inches,” “Just a… few… more inches!” “Ok, two more inches!” “One and a half more inches!” At least it’s short sleeved.

Things are popping up in the garden! It’s getting a little chilly at night and I’m worried. Hopefully the microclimate is a real thing and not a mass delusion by overeager gardeners in northern climes.

Last week I toodled around town with family that was visiting, and bought this pillow in a little shop. JoJo is not as amused as I am, but she does love our new-to-us couch.

Pete has emerged from hibernation. I planted all kinds of flower seeds here, but so far the only thing to emerge are volunteer sunflowers from the bird feeder. I think there are a few sweet peas, too.

Right! Time to sew a dress! 😂

Oh, yeah, I have art to make. 🤣

Virtuwool Events

There are two virtual yarny events this weekend. One is Maryland Sheep and Wool. MDSW was my first big wool show many years back, and I loved every minute of it! I went with my friend Sara and a tiny baby newborn Freya, who was a super easy baby. I bought what seemed like a lot of yarn at the time, but I look back now and think that I was pretty restrained. Their virtual show takes place on Facebook.

I learned about a new yarn festival this week, Botanica, and it’s all about natural fibers and dyes. I’m definitely going to be “attending” this one, which takes place on Instagram live. I may make a few purchases if I fall in love, but I’m thinking it’s probably pretty competitive to get your hands on some of these precious skeins. I figure it’s okay if someone beats me to it.

There has also been a “Virtu-Wool Fiber Festival” on Facebook over the past year. I have attended some of them. That’s where I learned about Ramsay Farms and their delicious Shetland yarn. I don’t know if these will continue.

With COVID cases rising again in some states, I’m hoping the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival doesn’t get canceled. But I bought travel insurance, just in case!

Have you attended any wool or yarn shows virtually, or are you planning to attend any in the near future?

Virtual Travel and a YOP Update

I’ve started signing up for virtual travel events. I guess cabin fever is finally getting to me. Last night I attended a Barn Chat with Wing and a Prayer Farm that featured Gudrun Johnson and MJ Mucklestone sharing information on their knitting trips to Shetland. I missed this at Knit City Virtual, so was glad to get a second chance.

Today I attended a Spring Skye Woolly Meander. This was a warm and welcoming group that gathered for a virtual trip of the Isle of Skye. I was very unsocial, which I felt bad about, but I didn’t expect to be on camera as I was still in my pjs! But it was a beautiful event and Bob and I are looking forward to visiting Scotland in real life someday. I also learned about Shilasdair Yarns, so that’s on my yarn wishlist now.

Speaking of yarn, I purchased new yarn from Wing and a Prayer Farm for my Vintersoll (Rav link). My gauge swatch worked out. This yarn is a treat to knit with. It’s called Thelma and Louise and is naturally dyed and toothy but soft. I can’t wait to cast on. I love this golden color called Dawn achieved with onion skins and madder root,which will be the main color of the sweater.

But first I want to finish my Anker’s Summer Shirt (Rav link) in Blacker Lyonesse, which is also a very nice yarn to work with in wool and linen. The color is Serpentine.

I finished knitting my Water shawl (Rav link). It’s a lovely pattern and an enjoyable knit once you get the rhythm of it. Yarn is Quince and Co Finch in Bird’s Egg.

Gardening news: the peas are up!

Eager Beaver Gets the Job Done

I feel like an entire year of pent up pandemic energy exploded this week!

The Just Craft is now available on Stitcher, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Google Podcasts had already indexed my episodes — which I didn’t know — but I’ve submitted the new feed to them. I‘ve got two exciting interviews lined up. And James is going to interview me for Podcast Tactics! Now I need to come up with a new logo concept.

I am the cow’s tail (as my Mother and Grandparents would say) on the Water shawl KAL. (That means I’m behind everyone else.) But I did finally finish the second lace short row section. It’s been a rough week, and I have to pay attention when I’m knitting this. The good news is that the lace is repetitive, and I think I can read my knitting now. That should make it go more quickly and easily.

I received my yarn for the Beaver KAL. I ordered Bougie Beaver but oops received Saturday Night Beaver. It’s really pretty and is very close to another yarn I have in my stash. Weirdly close. A little more gold, though. I really wanted Bougie Beaver for my Jessica Jones Cowl, so I ordered another skein, this time in Solo Fingering. I left an order note indicating to send me Bougie Beaver, please and thank you. I’m sure they are overwhelmed with eager KAL beavers.

I am making an effort to not order anymore superwash yarn after this. Here’s an article from Woolful that talks about reasons why superwash wool is not environmentally sustainable. This isn’t new information to me, it’s just that I hadn’t really wrapped my brain around just how many dyers are using superwash wool and how, now, if I order yarn online without paying close attention, it’s likely to be superwash. My eyes are agog at the colors, and I don’t stop to think about the environmental cost. I have purged my stash of some, but not all. I don’t even like the hand of superwash for garments for myself, to be honest. I may use what’s left in my stash for knitting for family and friends who will likely throw their garments in the washer and dryer.

Here’s my second Rikke hat I’m knitting in Malabrigo Arroyo. Oops. It’s sport weight instead of DK. I went down a needle size because my last Rikke was a little big and floppy. I hope this one fits! This is the Anniversario colorway, and it is really pretty.

This is my most recent yarn purchase. It’s my favorite wool from my favorite farm. And hopefully I will soon get to meet Clancy, the sheep. This is the same yarn I used to make my Paris Toujours shawl that I wear all the time. It’s my favorite garment. Maybe I’ll even get to meet Hollis, the sheep who provided the wool for my shawl? I need to decide what color to dye it, although it’s very pretty as is.