Off the Needles: Houll Hat!

Sometimes, a project hops on and off the needles faster that I can set up a project page for it on Ravelry, or write about it here! That was certainly the case with the Houll Hat, by Ella Gordon, which I knit during the second half of March. I finished it all off almost two weeks ago, but I’ve been so busy wearing it that I’m only just now getting around to posting about it.

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A bit more sock news: Sock Yarn Stash Swap and OMG, I’m teaching a sock knitting class!

Hi friends, and happy Monday! How was your weekend?

I’m popping in with just a quick post today with a bit more sock sock news since last Thursday!

Sock Yarn Stash Swap!

Fellow Once Upon a Sock-er and all around good egg Kat of Felinity Knits is hosting a sock yarn swap!  The idea is simple — most of us have lots of sock yarn, some of which we might, ahem, not be getting to anytime soon … and gifting yarn is lots of fun!  Kat’s going to pair up participants, and you’ll look at what your partner likes and pick a special 100 grams worth of sock yarn to send them!  You can read all about on Kat’s blog, but the most important thing you should know is the deadline to sign up is end of day this Wednesday, April 11.  So if you think you’d like to take part, get yourself over to Kat’s blog and sign up (blergh, I forgot to include this link when the post went out — sorry!) I’ve already joined in — my sock yarn drawer is by far the fullest in my yarn cabinet (in fact, it can’t actually hold all of it … there may or may not be an overflow container!)

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I’m teaching a sock class!

If you’re a frequent reader of the blog, you might notice there’s a new section up top: Teaching! I’m so excited to tell you that I’m teaching Beginning Sock Knitting at my favorite LYS, Northern Yarn starting at the end of this month.  Divided into three sessions, the class will take students through all the fundamentals of a top down, traditional heel flap and gusset sock.  You’ll also learn about different methods for small circumference knitting, from DPNs to magic loop, and leave the class with a finished DK weight boot sock, and plenty of instructions and resources to get your second sock finished! The first series sold out before I could even post about it here, but we’ve just scheduled another set of sessions that will meet for three Sundays, starting April 29, from 4-6 pm at Kate’s lovely shop, and the cost is £30 for all three sessions.  The class sizes are small, and Kate and I will both be on hand, so everyone will get lots of individual attention.  If you happen to live in the Lancaster area and have always wanted to knit socks, I’d love for you to join us!  Full details and sign ups are here.

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DPNs not required … but one option you can choose for learning to knit socks!

Right, I better get back to work, but hope your week is off to a great start!

xo K

 

Once Upon a Sock, April edition

Why hello again!  First Thursday of the month, so time to talk socks! And I …. wait for it … have a finished pair! My first finished pair of 2018 (how is that possible?!)

The pattern is Lumineux by Ysolda Teague.  The main body of the socks is knit in Countess Ablaze’s Sparkly Baron Blue-Faced Leicester in a one-off colorway called Velociraptor.  The heels and toes are knit in Hedgehog Sock yarn — depending on how the heels on these wear, I might use the rest of the skein to knit Vintage Fairy Lights (I’m a little worried that this soft 90% merino and 10% nylon blend might not hold up to the hard wear I give my socks!)

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A Visit to Dodgson Wood

Hi friends, and happy Monday!

Last week I had the chance to go along with Kate from Northern Yarn to Dodgson Wood, a beautiful farm in Cumbria where John and Maria raise rare breed cattle and sheep, practice conservation grazing, run off grid accommodation, and produce gorgeous soaps (from the milk of their Jersey cow) and, of course, wool! Beautiful, single farm, breed specific yarns — what could be better?

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A Teeswater ewe

The farm, which John’s family has been farming on for six (!!) generations, is nestled in Cumbria at the bottom of the Lower Lakes.  We’d actually put our trip off for a week because of the “Beast from the East” and the forecast for last Tuesday looked like it might be a bit gray — so we were pleasantly surprised with sun and blue skies (but you can see the snow-capped fells in the distance!)  When you pull up to the farm, you’re greeted with the happy sound of clucking chickens and ducks, as well as some geese who keep a careful guard of the farm and a watchful eye on the road for new comers!

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Guard geese!

Maria and John keep a variety of sheep, including Cheviots, several of which are rare breed , like fiesty horned Castlemilk Moorits (they have a fascinating history that you can read about here) and the long wooled Teewasters:

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This little one isn’t a pedigree Castlemilk Moorit because of the unusual markings on its face, but I love how still and regal it looks — almost like it new I was taking a picture!

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A Teeswater looks on behind!

When we arrived last week, lambing and calving season was already in full swing (another reason it was extra nice of John and Maria to spend time showing us the farm!) Ewes pregnant with a single lamb, and ewes who have already given birth to just one were out in the fields.  Kate and I got to go out to the field with Maria while she gave the flock some extra food and checked for any new arrivals!

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Maria feeds the flock — they know where their bread is buttered!

No new lambs in the field (Maria actually told us that the ewes almost seem to prefer lambing on rainy, wet days, rather than when the sun’s out) but we did get to see two little lambs frolicking in the field and playing a game that involved lots of headbutting!

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Look at that little lamb go!
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Lambies playing!

Maria and John also have a small but growing flock of Teeswater sheep, a rare breed long wool sheep.  In fact, their flock is growing as we speak — when we were there, we got to have a peek at two sets of Teeswater twin lambs that had been born that week!  Twins and their moms, as well as ewes expecting twins, had been moved into the ewe “maternity ward” where Maria and John can keep an extra eye on them, making sure they get on all right and that the mothers are taking care of both lambs (sometimes, the ewes prefer one lamb over the other and some intervention is needed to make sure both lambs get enough food!)  I love the distinctive, long curly locks of the Teeswater — and the little lambs’ new coats of tight curls were so sweet!

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Maria even let us give the lambs a little cuddle …. and oh my goodness, holding a days-old lamb certainly does the heart good!

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Kate and a little Teeswater!
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So happy!

Look at that face!

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Spending a few hours up at the farm, I was so struck by the beauty of the place (it really is breathtaking) but also what an awful lot of work it takes!  John and Maria wear so many hats.  It’s very clear how much they care about all their livestock, and what a lot of work they are — Maria had been up every two hours the night before we came checking on the pregnant cows and ewes; they’d both been up in the middle of the night because a Belted Galloway cow had given birth to her calf up against the railing of her pen — the force of her labor had pushed the little calf through the pen’s rails and separated the two, so they’d had to get the calf back in it’s mother’s pen (mother and calf were both doing very well when we arrived).  They get their gorgeous wool spun into yarn, sell meat and some of the livestock, run off grid accommodation, and Maria’s also making the most glorious Jersey milk soaps … she sent us home with some, and I’ve been loving the one I’ve been using on my hands!

It was so inspiring to see two people so passionate about what they do, pursuing so many creative ventures on their farm.  My only regret is that I didn’t take more pictures of the farmhouse, cows, chickens — I was so interested in hearing more about the farm (and, let’s be honest, cooing over the lambs)  that I wasn’t as handy with my camera as I would have liked!  But then again, there’s only so much you can capture in a photo. The overwhelming vitality of the farm — the lambs and ewes happily bleating to each other; the sound of pregnant ewes snuffling up their food; the chickens that boldly darted anywhere and everywhere in the farmyard, scampering through the legs of cows; and all the hard work happening on the farm — I suspect that even had I taken 1,000 pictures, some things just can’t be captured.

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A gorgeous Castlemilk Moorit sheepskin that came home with me!

I came home happy and now have a freezer full of meat that I know I can feel good about eating, a sheepskin that is so soft I move it from room to room to sit with, and a renewed desire to cast on with some of the beautiful Shear Delight yarn that comes from the farm. I’ve had my eye on Dodgson Wood yarn since my very first visit to Northern Yarn and getting to know John and Maria a bit and seeing their happy sheep has made me want to knit with their beautiful yarn all the more.  I’m thinking an Incunabula out of one of their DK blends or maybe trying out a two-color version of Kate Davies’ gorgeous new Myrtle in their Teeswater lace. And I’ve also been contemplating a pair of Otrera Mitts in their Cheviot first shear DK.  So many knits, so little time!

Dodgson Wood have an online shop where you can shop for all their different farm produce, from meats, to their Soap Dairy soaps, and their Shear Delight yarn and sheep-related products!  And if you’re in Lancaster, you can see the yarn and soap in person at Northern Yarn!

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Such a big thanks to Kate from Northern Yarn for inviting me along and for John and Maria for being so generous with their time, especially given the busy-ness of spring on the farm! I love this picture of the two of them with one of their new lambs — I think it really captures the love they have for what they do!

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Alright, I better go get packing for EYF! If all goes according to plan, I’m going try to pop in here with little daily photo updates if you’d like to follow along!

Hope your week is off to a great start!  xo K

 

 

 

Finished Objects!: Edina & Carbeth

Hi friends, and happy Sunday!

How’s your weekend been?  As I find is usually the case, this one has flown by — but all filled with good things!

I’m particularly excited because today, I have not one, but TWO sweaters/jumpers (depending on who you ask!) to share with you, both of which I finished as February came to a close.  So I’m very happy, as two is literally half the number of sweaters I knit last year — having these two off the needles hopefully augurs well for my plans to focus on garment knitting this year!

So first is up is what I’m calling my Edina sweater, as I knit it along with Kate and her friend Sharon for Edinburgh Yarn Festival.  It’s the Stasis Pullover by Leila Raabe.

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