Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Spring is Sock Time!

Every year as spring comes around, I get a serious itching to knit socks. I think this partly has to do with the fact that I first learned to knit socks in the spring (3 years ago now!) but it's also the perfect season to start working on those smaller projects. Plus socks are great for knitting with colorful yarn- something that's also fun to do as the weather warms up. 

Today I basically just want to share some of the sock patterns I'm hoping to get to- mostly so I can organize them for myself. For most of these I've already got yarn ideas, which I've added as well. About a month ago I started watching knitting video podcasts on Youtube again (something I haven't done in ages) and I must say that I've been getting a whole slew of both sock yarn and pattern recommendations that have me itching to cast on! 

Mistletoe socks & Mash Potato socks (the Wool Club)
Sweet Fiber sock & Herbstblatt Regina
Have you guys seen Verena's socks? They are all seriously gorgeous. When I heard that she would be having a Knit-along this month, I knew right away that it was exactly the opportunity I had been waiting for to give toe up socks another try. I've cast on the Mistletoe socks already (in Sweet Fiber yarn I got in Canada back in March) and I've been really enjoying learning the magic loop method. I'm also hoping to knit a pair of Mash Potato socks during the KAL and even ordered some lovely speckled, tweedy yarn from Herbstblatt Regina that I think will work just perfectly with the pattern. Can't wait! 

Morning Light socks (Cabin Four)
Ancient Arts or Quince Chickadee
Okay these next socks have been on my list for ages- ever since I knit up the Irish Oats socks several years ago (also by Cabin Four). I adore this pattern and really the only thing stopping me from casting on is the question of which yarn to use. I do have a skein of Ancient Arts in the sagebrush colorway which would knit up nicely but it's so super tempting to just order the Chickadee, which is what the pattern calls for. 

Pixel Rise socks 
Madeline Tosh // Tosh Light
Okay so this is a bit of a stretch for me- I don't normally go for such colorful mix-matched projects. But after I saw Tammy (from the Hey Sister Podcast) knitting these in such a lovely soft color palate, I got a serious urge to give them a try. I've got some Madeline Tosh that I'm planning to use for a shawl (my summer project) and I know I'll have leftovers- which may just be the perfect thing for this pattern! 

Fine & Dandy socks (The Sweater Collective)
Shilasdair Sock
These socks look so much fun to knit! Jess from the Sweater Collective has really great style and I just adore all her patterns. I'm thinking it would be fun to try this pattern with the sock yarn I bought on the Isle of Skye last fall- it's a lovely mustard yellow (died with Marigold & Onion Skins) and I'm thinking I could do a reverse version of the ones in the Ravelry photo, with white/cream as my contrast color. 

Rye socks (Tin Can Knits)

(Marled Mountain yarn- pictured above)
Okay so I made Caleb a pair of Rye socks last Fall, shortly before we went to Scotland and he has gotten so much wear out of them. I used a lovely marled yarn and I just love how it worked up with the pattern. So I am totally thinking that I'd like to make a pair for myself to match! I'm going to have to get up the courage to finally wind up this yarn though, as it's my most precious skein- it's been in my stash the longest of anything I have! 

I'm sure there will be more added soon to this never ending list and of course, I'm sure I'll sneak in a pair or two of Vanilla socks somewhere in there (I've already started one in Patons Kroy just for some simple evening knitting!). But those are the major patterns currently on my radar. If you're a sock knitter I'd love to hear what you're hoping to make! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

recipe: Herby Spring Pasta Salad

Last Spring I was nearing the end of my pregnancy, in full nesting mode with plenty of time for meal planning and experimenting in the kitchen. I made pancake breakfasts on the weekend, baked scones and muffins and cakes for my baby shower (or just because) and experimented with plenty of fun Spring Salad recipes. I read that eating dates can help speed up labour (who knows..?) and so I made stuffed date appetizers and baked oatmeal date bars and chopped them into salads. I heard it was a good idea to stock your kitchen full of meals & snacks before baby arrives and so I made my favorite granola, hamburger patties to freeze and jar after jar of pesto. I convinced my husband to go with me to the grocery store to stock up on essentials for the postpartum period and just for our house in general. Because who wants to go buy toilet paper with a newborn right? 

In general I would say that all these little preparations were my way of dealing with the anxiety I felt over giving birth and how unprepaired I really was. There are only so many birthing classes and breathing exercises and books you can read before you're left admitting to yourself that you don't actually have any idea just how exactly this baby is going to come out.

Waldi planned to take a full week off of work and school and other outside responsibilities when our baby came and he (bless him) assured me that we would be okay. He'd cook and clean and help me take care of our new arrival and we'd be just fine.

And then Caleb was born. And we were of course completely bowled over by the love and responsibility that he brought with him. I remember bringing C back home on the morning after his birth, my body completely wrecked and broken from what it had endured- what it had acomplished. I remember looking at Waldi and realizing that this was it- we were parents now for the rest of our lives, whether we knew what to do with that or not. 

Needless to say, the newborn phase was all consuming. We embraced our new routine of feeding, changing and sleeping all wrapped into a three-hour cycle that repeated itself around the clock. I couldn't sit up properly that entire week (or really for many weeks after that...ouch) and moved basically from the bed to the couch and then back to the bed again. Caleb depended on us and I depended on Waldi and we all depended on the generous help of our midwife and on takeout- because there was no cooking happening during those first few days.

It took us awhile to get into a new family rhythm but we eventually got there. And as part of that we of course started cooking again. Now, when I think about last summer I remember sneaking welsh cakes from the freezer in the middle of the night and the fresh fruit and lovely meals my visiting aunts brought us that first week. But I also remember grilling in the evenings on the patio. I remember making fresh salads and walking to the bakery for buns to make sandwiches for lunch everyday with my mom, and even (eventually..) eating all that pesto.

Pasta in general was a great meal for us those early days- simple, quick and delicious. And what's even easier is a pasta salad, made ahead of time and served cold if you'd like. This spring I don't quite have the time to experiment in the kitchen that I did last year but I'm somewhere in the middle of the two extremes that marked my third and fourth trimesters- a happy place to be. Pasta salad is a staple around here (we do live in Germany after all...) and this version is light and fresh and perfect for both early postpartum days and for spring. As always, the amounts are a little loose- feel free to play around with it until you get a mix that suits you!

Herby Spring Pasta Salad

you will need:
one package of noodles (I used Fusili but any short noodle works)
soft goat cheese
green asparagus (we grilled ours but panfried is also fine)
toasted pinenuts
chopped sundried tomatoes
fresh basil, oregano & thyme

olive oil
white wine vinegar
fresh lemon juice
red pepper flakes
1tsp sugar

Cook your noodles as per package instructions and set aside to cool. Toss all your ingredients in a large bowl and combine with the past. Chop up your herbs (I used scissors for this- so easy!) and add them in. Shake up your dressing ingredients until well blended and pour over the salad.


also if you stuck with me and read through that incredibly long and rambling post THANK you! Sometimes it just does a world of good to get things typed out. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

May's Quote

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow'"
- Mary Anne Radmacher

(see more of my thoughts on this here)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Caleb's Blanket

Today I’ve got something very special to share with all of you. During the final few months of my pregnancy, I decided to improvise a simple cotton blanket for C, using textured knit stitches and a few basic crochet techniques (for the border). I got a lot of comments on in and even a few questions as to how I made it.

So I've decided to publish the pattern (as a free Ravelry download) in case any of you are interested in knitting it up.

If it's at all possible for a knitting project to accompany one on the journey into motherhood, then this would be the project. It was with me as a WIP in the final few months of pregnancy, it came to the birthing center with us (to use for bringing C home) and it was a constant through those early postpartum days where everything was slightly foggy and I really was just doing my best to grow into a new role that didn't fit quite right yet.

When I look at this blanket I remember all this. We don't use it much anymore, but every once in awhile I pull it out and think about how far we've come in a year. We've watched our baby grow but we've also seen ourselves grow right along with him.

And yes, this is just a blanket- just stitch upon stitch, row after row. But as is so often the case with knitting, I'm finding that these stitches add up to so much more.

You can find the link to the pattern here, if you're inclined to do so. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Vancouver Yarn Crawl II

I was so blessed to go to Canada not once but TWICE in the past four months. This has never happened, and realistically will probably never happen again and I am so SO grateful to have had this chance. Of course, while there, I got up to plenty of yarn & fibre related activities, including visiting wonderful yarn stores and attending a fibre festival with my mom. It's so much fun to hunt out these special places on my travels and I'm so glad that my mom was willing to trek around with me to each of them. 

So at long last, today I want to share with you all about the yarn-y places I was able to visit on these last two most recent trips to Canada. Obviously, this is just a small number of the amazing places there are to visit in and around my hometown, but I'm very pleased that we managed to make it to so many! I'll start with the yarn stores and then move onto broader, more "fibre arts" related places. 

Of course, I was horrible at getting any photos, so below are some shots of the yarn I walked away with from each of these spots instead...well, some of it at least, haha! I'm planning a post soon on Canadian yarn, which will talk about a bunch of these in more detail, so stay tuned for that! 


Valley Yarn - Surrey
This was such an amazing yarn store- and one I'd never even heard of until my friend Natasha took me there while I was visiting over Christmas. It's tiny but packed (literally) floor to ceiling with delicious yarn. Lots of Madeline Tosh (some of which came home with me!), Hedgehog Fibers, The Fiber Company, Mineville Wool Project, and various other assorted wonders. Worth stopping by if you're anywhere near the area.

88 Stitches - Walnut Grove
I was so happy to return this Spring to 88 Stitches (first wrote about this shop here). My mom and I visited on Customer Appreciation day where there were door prizes and deals galore. They've got a great selection of sock yarn as well as plenty of Canadian hand dyed (hellooo Sweet Fiber!) and even some more rustic woolly wools to choose from. 

Three Bags Full- Vancouver
Stopped by this shop quickly while on Main Street with my sister over Christmas. I'd been to this shop before (and got the yarn for my Tamborine cardigan), and while they do have quite a nice selection, it seemed to me that they've started carrying a lot of the more expensive yarns and I couldn't find anything that was in my price point that really caught my eye. (The Woolfolk yarns are simply stunning though!)

Beehive Wool Shop- Victoria
So SO happy to have made it to this lovely gem of a yarn shop on Vancouver Island. I took Caleb on the ferry with my mom and siblings for a mini road trip to Victoria. We had such fun wandering and of course one of the highlights was stopping in here (pictured above). I just spent ages pondering what of the many MANY lovely yarns was going to come home with me. They've got plenty of rustic, sheepy wool (a weakness of mine...), including all the Brooklyn Tweed. We definitely picked up some of that, as well as some Hinterland Watershed and Ancient Arts sock yarn (yay Canadian yarn!)

Fibre Arts: 

Birkeland Bros. Wool - Abbotsford 
This was such a fun little shop to wander around. It's mostly a spinning store and they had wheels & tools and, of course fibre galore. But the coolest part was the giant carding machine they had in the front of the shop (and I mean GIANT). Although we didn't see it in action, it was so cool to get a peek at it up close and to read about it's history- how it made it to the West Coast and where it all was before that. Also if you DO stop in here, make sure you go to Old Hand coffee right around the corner! 

Maiwa Textiles- Vancouver
One of my favorite spots ever and an absolute gem right in the middle of Granville Island. This is a little fibre arts shop full of natural dyes, fabric, yarn, tools and books. I stop in here every time I'm in the area and always enjoy browsing. Over Christmas I picked up some undyed yarn to maybe try my hand at natural dying- we'll see how that goes!

Fibres West Festival- Cloverdale
My mom and I were so excited to learn that there was a fibre festival while I was in town. We took Caleb for the afternoon and it was a perfect early Spring sunny day. We so enjoyed wandering through the stalls, looking at all the local Canadian wool and fibre and making our thoughtful purchases. Such a highlight of my most recent trip for sure! 

So there you have it- if you're interested, here's a post I did about my first Vancouver Yarn Crawl. And you can also read about the yarn shops I visited in Scotland here and my trip to Tolt Yarn & Wool here

Sunday, April 2, 2017

April's Quote

"What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are."
- CS Lewis (from The Magician's Nephew)

Thinking about this in relation to my own, quiet, everyday life and beyond into the greater context that we find ourselves in. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Springtime Reading List

This year I decided to mix thing up a little and get more intentional about the books that I'm reading. In my pre-baby days I used to average about a book a week, depending on what was going on and what season we were in. Last year I read less than half of that, and honestly, I'm completely okay with it. However I was looking for a way of picking better books- going for quality over quantity I suppose. My hope is, like many a reader I'm sure, to read not only widely & deeply but also interestingly- to choose a variety of things that will help me learn and grow and broaden my horizons. 

So. All that being said, I decided this year to read one fiction and one non-fiction book a month. These past few months, I've found that my picks have been complimenting each other nicely and I'm really enjoying what I've been reading. Here's a little list of what I'm hoping to get to over the next few months: 

Anne of Green Gables // Lucy Maude Montgomery 
I'm a little embarassed to admit that I've never actually read this one. I've seen the movies and even read an abridged young readers edition when I was learning to read BUT I've never actually read the actual novel. When I saw it on my mom's bookshelf while in Canada last month I decided it was time to pick it up. I'm so enjoying it- such a good Canadian classic.

As Always Julia // Julia Child & Avis DeVoto
This book is the collected letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto. I'm enjoying this and would recommend it to anyone who likes Julia Child or who enjoyed My Life in France. It's pretty long though- and I find myself skipping over a few of the sections when they're referring to mutual acquaintances of their's. 

Lab Girl // Hope Jahren
A little out of my wheelhouse but I'm excited to give this a try.

Flight Behavior // Barbara Kingsolver
The newest novel from Kingsolver (though already several years old) that I found in a second hand bookstore on Commercial Drive in Vancouver last month. I've not read anything by her in ages and I'm excited to start this one.

The Magic of Motherhood // Ashlee Gadd (Coffee & Crumbs)
So SO excited for this. Seriously.

Wonder // AJ Palacio
Heard about this on a podcast recently. It's a middle grade novel (of which I read few to none) so I thought I'd give it a try.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven // Chris Cleave
Been hearing lots about this one. I've read a few of Cleave's earlier books and found them well written, entertaining and sensitive in dealing with not all too easy subject matter. So I'm exited to give this a go.

Four Seasons in Rome // Anthony Doer 
Have been wanting to read this one ever since I finished All the Light last spring. It's a memoir of the year Doer spent living in Rome, working on that book, with his wife and newborn twins. Fascinating! 

To see all the books I've been reading this year, you can check out the hashtag I've created on my Instagram: #whatruthisreading2017