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I’ve been knitting baby stuff lately, and here’s today’s important knitting PSA: Knitting Baby Stuff is Seriously Addictive.

  • There’s a tremendous satisfaction in casting on a sweater and finishing it in just a couple of days.
  • Suddenly there’s a proper use for all those single skeins in your stash. You don’t have to make endless hats and mitts with them. Just one robust skein can make a whole munchkin-sized garment.
  • Related to my last point, baby stuff is an excellent way to use up small amounts of handspun yarn. You just have to make sure it’s washable.  I can’t tell you how many 200-400 yard hanks of handspun I have in my stash. Mostly the result of spinning up a 4-oz bump of fiber and then chain-plying it.
  • The knit-worthiness of a child depends primarily on the primary laundry doers in their household. If the parents are knit-worthy, it’s probably safe to give stuff to their kids.
  • If the parents are knit-worthy, then they’re usually really appreciative of knitted gifts. This makes you feel all fuzzy inside and creates a beneficial knitwear feedback loop, which the family will continue to benefit from in the future.
  • The garments are so cute. They’re like big eyes on kittens. They stimulate all your cuddly, protective instincts.

Here are two of the baby things I’ve knitted in the last few weeks. I want to knit more. The solution is to either knit more things for the babies I know, or to acquire more babies somehow.

Here it is blocking. Still really liking how this turned out with the Madelintosh

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

My latest FO. A baby sweater with rainbow stripes. Colorful yarn is some of my ITW handspun. Still have some left. Maybe a matching hat?

A photo posted by All She Wants To Do Is Knit (@caityrosey81) on

I decided recently that I wanted to set myself a goal to learn more about wine. I like drinking wine. I enjoy the picturesque quality of hilly wine country. But I really don’t know much about tasting wine. I can tell you “I like this” or “I don’t like this” or occasionally “yuck.” But not a lot more.

I picked up a book called Great Wine Made Simple from my local library as a place to start. Lots of really useful information in this book for the wine nube. A helpful discussion about common wine body styles and what is meant by terms like “dry”, “oaky,” “crisp” or “tannic. I used to mix up “crisp” and “tannic” so its very useful to have some solid definitions. Following this, the book launches into a survey of common grapes and wine making regions.

Since this subject is so new to me, I made lots of notes and then studied my notes to try to keep it all straight. My brain demands that I write things down if I want to learn them properly.

Not satisfied with this, I converted my handwritten notes into reference charts. Something I can tuck into my purse before my next visit to a winery.

Do you find this helpful? What information do you wish you had had available to you when you first started learning about wine?

Wine Tasting Cheat Sheet

body

flavors

other flavors

climate

My KCL spindle and I have almost made it through an entire bag of Hobbledehoy Battlings this week. 

Don’t those little cones of singles look just like Christmas trees? 

  
Spindle Review: This is my first time spinning with this spindle; even though I’ve had it for a while. It spins well and smoothly and the little notches on the whorl are well placed. It only starts to have trouble when the spindle gets loaded down. It’s hard to keep the single firmly lodged in the little notch. Maybe a taller hook would help?

Battlings Review: The colors are very pretty and the fiber prep is mostly very good. I’m not a fan of the random bits of yarn carded in. At least not for the spindling I’m doing. Maybe for a chunky art yarn. I’ve been pulling them out as I go to offer to the birds for nest making material. Nothing is wasted. 

My husband and I spent the last two weeks in France. I brought a knitting project and a spinning project along to keep me entertained, but it was the spinning that got the most attention. I brought a sturdy little Akerworks spindle in the smallest size they offer. It was easy to tuck into my purse or backpack for a day of sight seeing. Easy to take apart and put together again.

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Spinning in the Minneapolis airport.

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Spinning in the gardens at Petit Trianon

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Spinning leaning against a megalith near Carnac

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Stopping to admire a splendid cop, while at dinner in Tours.

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Spinning in the gorgeous backyard of our B&B in Tours.

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Taking a break from the crowds near Montmartre in Paris.

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Spinning during a classical concert at Sainte Chapelle

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Spinning on the train on the way to Versailles.

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Spinning next to a fountain (and watching the ducks) at the Jardins des Tuileries in Paris

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Spinning from the second floor of the Eiffel tower.

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Spinning at Mont St. Michel

We took a moment on one of our days in Paris to get together with Cathy, a new friend and fellow knitting blogger from Paris. She guided us to a local yarn store, where I spent a happy few minutes browsing. They display their yarn very differently than I am used to. All of the yarn is displayed as samples hanging from the walls. Once you have identified what you want, the shop assistant will wind off the amount you want (by weight) from large cones kept in the back of the shop.

thumb_IMG_3495_1024While touring chateaux and palaces I took time to appreciate the tapestries and other fibery wonders on display.

Tapestries and needlework at Versailles:

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Musee D’Orsay – paintings of women spinning or doing needlework, as well as a work of art in fiber.

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A very, very old spindle and whorls at the Musee de Prehistoire in Carnac.

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Astounding samples of tapestry from various chateaux in the Loire Valley.

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An amazing, fiberrific trip.

Lately, I’ve been blogging a lot about travel knitting and travel spinning for our upcoming trip to France. After viewing a long string of such posts on Instagram, my sister commented:

I would like to see a picture of everything you’re bringing in your suitcase. I have a feeling it’s very different than what I bring when traveling.

Too true. Too true. Although I want to assure you, my suitcase is not half full of fiber and yarn. Really, it’s not. I dream of such things, but I know it would be a pretty silly thing to do.

On our trip, my husband and I are each taking one bag that looks something like this. It’s a backpack with a zip-off day pack. It has some pretty serious capacity, but it’s nowhere near the size of some of my roller suitcases.

full packThe day pack is where my knitting and spinning projects live. See that cute little monster bag. That’s it. Well, almost.

I’m taking two projects. One pair of colorwork mittens. And one travel drop spindle with fiber. The bag contains:

  • Approximately 150 yds of two different sock weight yarns, wound into center-pull balls.
  • My new Akerworks drop spindle, plus about 1oz of fiber.
  • Some assorted notions/tools

day packThe remaining yarn and fiber resides in a compression sack in the main compartment of my bag. It’s scary-amazing how much fiber squishes in a compression sack.

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Fiber and yarn are in the little compression sack at bottom left.

As for the rest of my packing, for those who are curious:

small front pocket

Pen and pencil. My treasured yurbud headphones, which let me hear what’s going on around me while listening. Good for urban settings. Other earbuds for the plane that block noise a little better, because it’s super annoying when you can’t hear your audiobook, even with the sound turned all the way up. And earplugs to combat pressure changes.

shoes

Three pars of light shoes or sandals. One may still be jettisoned before we leave. I can’t quite decide which.

day pack

Besides the knitting/spinning I’m bringing: Kindle, folding fan, wallet (duh), journal, neck pouch style money belt, compact, lip balm, sun glasses. This all goes in the day pack to keep me entertained on the plane.

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The top layer of stuff in the main compartment of my bag. A compression bag full of wicking undershirts, undies, bras, pajamas, etc… The aforementioned extra yarn and fiber. A toiletries bag with all the usual. A purse, because I don’t want to always have to carry backpack. Two packable shopping bags. Another waist moneybelt option, because I can’t decide which one to use. I hate them both in different ways.

clothes folder

A packing folder containing the bulk of my clothing: 3 tops, 1 cardigan, 1 sundress, 2 pair capris, 1 skirt, 1 pair dressier black jeans

plane clothes

And a plane outfit. Light weight long-sleeved buttondown, undershirt, scarf, light weight long pants. And a squishable but still stylish sun hat, which I may just stuff into my bag.

how it all fits

All of it fits, with room to spare. Not a lot, but some. Husband is packing a couple of extra compression sacks just in case we need them later.

I still have a day or two to narrow things down and weed. I may yet nix an item or two of clothing. But this is basically it. Can’t wait to hit the road/skies.

Spindle Widow

My poor little Jenkins. I hardly knew ye. 

   
 
This happened last night while I was test driving my Turkish spindle. The single I was spinning broke and the spindle dropped. I caught it reflexively (but not violently) between my calves. Snap went the cross bar. 

Guess I’m not taking you to France after all, little guy. 

I’m sending him (how do I know it’s a him?) off in the mail to the Jenkins spindle hospital today for diagnosis and treatment. Or a possible transplant procedure. 

I’m going on a big trip to Europe in the coming weeks. And I’m seriously contemplating forgoing my usual travel knitting and bringing a drop spindle instead. We’re trying to pack light a la Rick Steves, with all our luggage on our backs, so I can’t bring the bag full of projects I would normally pack as my “personal item” on the plane.

I have two choices, both long neglected. Partly because I’ve been addicted to my spinning wheels, but let’s be honest: I was also a bit intimidated. My spindle spinning has mostly been confined to heavier, beginner-friendly spindles, before I acquired a wheel. I haven’t seriously spun on a spindle in more than two years.

  • One choice is a cute little Jenkins spindle purchased at Black Sheep Gathering two years ago. And the poor little thing has been sitting neglected in my craft room ever since.
KCL Woods maple spindle.  0.84 oz

Jenkins walnut spindle 0.59 oz (17 g)

Pros:It’s very light weight and collapsible. Plus, all the photos on Instagram of Turkish spindle spinning look awesome.

Cons: I have never spun on this type of spindle before. 

  • The other choice is a cunning little KCL Woods spindle purchased for me by Mom when I first took up spinning.
KCL Woods maple drop spindle 0.84 oz.

KCL Woods maple drop spindle 0.84 oz.

Pros: It’s a top-whorl spindle, which is the only type I’ve ever spun on. It’s also light weight and it has a detachable shaft, with two extras. So it’s sort of collapsible too.

Cons: It’s going to take up more room in my luggage. Not much, but a little. And maybe it’s a bit too big for spinning on a plane. Hard to know until I try.

The Inside-Out characters in my head are saying:

Image from Pixarpost.com

  • Joy: You’ll have so much fun with your spindles. It’ll be so relaxing and you’ll meet so many new people while you spin. You know you like the attention. It will be great!
  • Sadness: What if spinning on spindles is not as much fun as you remember? Then you’ll be bored on a plane, wishing you had your knitting.
  • Fear:  What if you suck at spindle spinning? And what if you annoy the people sitting next to you in the plane. You’ve never done this before. What if you get all elbowy? They’ll throw you off the plane before you get to Philadelphia!
  • Disgust (Disdain really): Why bother packing anything project at all? You know you’re not really going to use it. It’ll just take up room in your luggage that you really should be filling with more socks and underwear.
  • Anger: You’d better bring some kind of project on the plane or I’m gonna lose it! You hear me? Lose it!
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