If the proverb is true, as they so often are, we should be in for some balmy days once this leonine weather blows through. Until then, I'll be content to spend the end of winter indoors, stitching together little lamb ears and warming up pots of Earl Grey. (Lamb Hat kits available in the shop!)
Knit, knit, knit, coffee, slip and fall on ice, knit, check local news for weather report, coffee, knit, knit, knit, repeat. Here in Nashville, we relish our one, two, or three allotted snow days per year with fabricated annoyance ("Nobody knows how to drive, I swear! This city just shuts down in the snow!") and genuine, pure joy. The schools close for a dusting; for an inch, we're all at home. Last week, there were three days where we couldn't maneuver down our icy driveway at all, so we walked where we could, which wasn't far. I can not imagine...can't even try...what it's like to get the kind of weather they do up north. Of course, those folks are much better prepared for it.
And, of course, it's a knitter's dream to be snowed in. I have mostly been working on the Amanda sweater for the Fringe and Friends Knitalong. You may have seen my sob story already on Instagram, but this sweater has been a true trial of patience. I've started over twice: once by choice, and the second time by necessity (it was destroyed by a very cute puppy who I could not be angry with). I changed yarns, deciding to use the Angora Wool Worsted, because I wanted the silky texture and fuzzy halo of mohair (kid mohair!). And I also decided that I want a longer version to fit my 5' 10" frame, so I'm adding an extra three diamond repeats to the length. Now that I've started all over, I might as well make the shawl collar version, which should keep me nice and snuggly warm once the sweater is finished, which, at this rate, will be right in time for the Fourth of July. Mercy. But sweaters like these are made not for a season, but for life. Right?
Today, I'm off to the studio to shoot the new yarn for March, as well as these scrumptious little hats. We're releasing a pattern kit on Monday with the shop update, the Shelby Baby Hat designed for us by Julia Belsante. Each kit will include a printed copy of the pattern, a ball of our cozy Alpaca Wool Bulky in one of three colors, and some seashell pink, madder root-dyed yarn for the inner ears. Instructions are written for newborn, 6 months, and 12 months sizes, and the 12 month size will typically fit a toddler up to two years. Oh, they are sweet! Simple, too...I'd say they'd be an easy knit for an intermediate knitter, and a doable challenge for a beginner.
And...did you see this? I think my heart might split right down the middle :)
One of the best things...no, the very best thing...about selling yarn is that I'm able to supply other fiber artists and crafters with the materials to do what it is that they do. Every time I package up a box of yarn, I think about what it might become. Not many things make me happier than when one of my customers emails me with a photo of something they knitted or wove. Rarely do I get to see them in person, though, so this collaboration with my friend Allison of Shutters and Shuttles is one of the most exciting (for me!) projects I've ever been a part of. Each month, I will be supplying Allison with a selection of yarns, both undyed and from that month's dye batch. She will create a one-of-a-kind wall hanging on one of her floor looms, and we will showcase and offer them for sale right here.
And this is January. The yarn in this weaving is a collection of domestic, mill-spun merino wool, both undyed and hand-dyed with natural indigo, and hand-spun Tennessee alpaca. It's over four feet long and was created on her Schacht 8 harness floor loom. Allison's work is so truly exquisite and just so truly fun...I love the tiny details and playful patches of texture. It would be really pretty in a living room, or hanging over the headboard of a bed, or goodness...anywhere! Such an honor to work with her on this :)
This piece is available here, and I can't wait to introduce the others as the year unfolds!
I found these photos on a rogue camera card tucked into a crevice of the abyss that is my suitcase. They're from our Melbourne Slow Living workshop in September, taken at Butterland in Newstead. Butterland is a heritage-listed WWII era butter factory, venue rental, and home of florist Katie Marx and furniture designer Greg Hatton. They are expert foragers. One of our favorite moments in the workshop was when Katie demonstrated how to make a colossal bouquet from foraged wattle and eucalyptus (so Australian, hey?!). Here in the Northern Hemisphere we are just now entering the belly of Winter, but looking at these photos reminds me that Spring is just off stage right, crouching, waiting in the wings.
The seventh day of Christmas, the last day of the year. This is pretty much what winter has looked like around here so far: single grapefruits for breakfast, kitties on heater vents, and panettone (so much panettone!). We have been inside mostly, keeping warm by the hum and shimmer of the Christmas tree. Outside, it has been pale and sodden, drizzly, the pearly sky heavy with undescended rain. My sweet, dear friend from Seattle who spent Christmas with us said it was "worse than Seattle". Ha! But oh, the good, good time we had...a very full week with her and my parents and my sister and Manley and me. My mom brought her accordion (which is new...she just learned to play it and she is GOOD!) and everybody else had an instrument (except me, who is utterly helpless when it comes to music). Oh, my word, it was hilarious...song after song after song and all terrible but so, so good.
For Christmas dinner, we cooked entirely from The Nourished Kitchen cookbook, which wins my heart this year for favorite cookbook...two thumbs up. We made the buttermilk spelt drop biscuits, cider-braised kale with apples and sweet cherries, celery root and potato puree, wild salmon baked in cream, and the Portugal Cake which turned out to be the unsuspecting star.
It's made entirely from blanched almond flour, with pound cake-like ratios of butter and eggs, which makes it nutty, dense, and rich. The batter is spiked with sherry and rosewater (but I used orange flower water instead), and dried currants are folded in before baking. It makes two cakes, so we ate one after Christmas dinner and the other I've been eating every day since.
All the guests left on Monday and I have been slowwww moving. Don't you love this week between Christmas and New Year's? The world seems to turn more slowly on its axis. I'm trying to take some time off with the yarn business, but I'm so excited about the shop update (this coming Monday, January 5!) that I can barely stand it. Indigo! Lots and lots of sapphire-blue yarn, with some black-and-white handspun Tennessee alpaca too. As always, I'll send an email out to the newsletter list when it goes on sale, which will probably be Monday afternoon.
Last day of 2014. What a year, right? This year has been hard; this year has been awesome. There has been lots of change: both too much and not enough, and yet somehow...just the right amount. What I want for 2015 is to be more observant, conscientious, frugal. I want to waste less and watch more. To be quieter, kinder. Content. What about you? I would so love to hear your hopes and wishes for this trip around the Sun :)