early fall thoughts

It's been too long, my friends! I've given you only sporadic updates all summer long, with promises to show you a small pile of finished objects and instead all you've gotten are a smattering of iPhone selfies of half-sewn garments and a few piles of yarn. Like many others in blog-land, I've turned more of my attention to Instagram, where I can scratch that itch to share instantly all the things I've been doing, whether my few followers there care to see or not. The problem with IG, of course, is that it's hard to be very thoughtful on a mobile device, where you're typing out a caption on a tiny keyboard, especially when one is likely to forget all about it in a few days. 

I find it somewhat ironic, then, that Instagram has been a place of community for people seeking ways to simplify their lives. Live with less, DIY, make all your clothes, slow fashion, can your garden bounty, appreciate latte art, slow down and enjoy the moment, but by all means document it and broadcast your simple living to the world seconds later with your fancy phone and internet connection. Hey, I'm not really judging. I do it and I find a lot of inspiration online. But I still see the irony. If I truly unplugged and didn't go online for a week I bet I'd get a lot more knitting done. (Note to self: try that sometime.)

Last weekend I took a whole afternoon to go to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival at the Jefferson County fair grounds. I brought along a good friend and fellow knitter who just had knee replacement in July, so she didn't want to drive, but she had amazing stamina for walking through the vendor barns and looking and sheep. We were there for hours, and it was great. It was just what I needed, too, to get away from work stress and my messy kitchen and the construction zone that is my house (last week it was so awkward getting out of the front door that Anya climbed out the basement egress window to get to school; concrete work continues this week with waterproofing and the installation of something called a sump pump crock), and no one was along to interrupt my conversation or sigh about how long I was taking to look at yarn or complain about being hungry. Bliss.

I snapped a few pictures of sheep because they are cute and wooly, and posted one video clip to IG of a sock knitting machine in action, but mostly I hung out with my friend. We visited every vendor, (we both bought a few things!) ate soft serve ice cream and admired the sheep. Anya had some specific requests for yarn, which I was able to find after much searching (more on that in another post), and other than that I bought yarn for two projects: one for me and one for a very special gift. That's all I'll say for now.

Behind the scenes I've been working on my sweater out of Hebridean yarn. I knew if I didn't start one soon after getting back from Scotland that I'd consider it too special to knit with and it would sit and fester in the stash. I did spend several weeks swatching and contemplating the perfect pattern, afraid I'd pick the wrong thing and be disappointed. Finally, after a deep breath, I just started. The worst that could happen is that I'll be unhappy with it, pull it all out, and knit the yarn again.  Right? 

But I don't think I'll be disappointed. This is the Caribou Cardigan from Road Trip by Tin Can Knits. Fitting that the whole book is travel themed and I bought the yarn on such a special trip myself. Plus the sweater is so cleverly constructed, with a sideways cabled yoke and then finished in one piece. Right now it's a mess of brown, but soon I'll finish the main body and then block it before doing the sleeves to make sure I picked the right size. I aimed small because I detest a baggy sweater, but the yarn is, well, rustic and certainly not next-to-skin soft, so I'm crossing my fingers it won't be too close-fitting and therefore itchy.

I also recently finished this three-color cowl (pattern here by Joji Locatelli) and I adore it. The thing needs a proper photo shoot with me wearing it, but that means someone else needs to hold the camera and take pictures of me, all of which seems like a big production at the moment. The hassle of photo shoots is precisely why you haven't seen any FO posts all summer, in fact. I'd have to put together an outfit and make sure my hair looks decent and then drag the husband to a park or something, especially since right now my back yard is a 7-foot pile of mud next to a giant pit with some concrete.  It's just all too much trouble. 

I do enjoy this, though. Taking good pictures of the stuff I've made and am making, and trying to write something meaningful about it, to share just what it is I spend all this time doing and why. And despite all my snark up there about the irony of sharing a slow, simple life on Instagram, I'm still totally participating in stuff like the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge and Slow Fashion October and the Crafty Bliss Challenge, to the extent that I can with everything else going on around me.  Something's gotta keep me grounded after all.



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