Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Land of Sweets Cowl and Yarn Advent Calendars ~

Whether it's May gray or June gloom Springtime in California is often foggy and downright cold. And yet I don't want to be pulling on winter woollies any longer as emotionally I've moved on to the next season.  Which is why I always knit a few Spring and Summer friendly accessories in lightweight fingering yarn or cotton.  This year I modified Curious Handmade's Land of Sweets cowl to make myself the perfect Spring accessory as it reminds me of a bouquet of spring flowers.

I absolutely love the colors in this cowl.  And I can take absolutely no credit whatsoever in picking them. Because the yarn I used came in a Yarn Advent Calendar dyed by Kelly of Lay Family Yarn who is a genius with pastels.  For those who may not be familiar with yarn advent calendars, it works like this.  You sign up for a yarn advent calendar well in advance of an upcoming holiday (typically Christmas or Easter) and when it gets closer to the holiday you will receive a bundle of individually wrapped mini skeins with a number written on the outside.  Once the advent begins you have the fun of opening a daily surprise of yarn and sometimes a chocolate or other treat as you anticipate the approaching holiday.

This was my first yarn advent calendar and it was an Easter Advent that came with 12 mini skeins and some yummy mini chocolates Easter eggs too!  Upon it's arrival I immediately popped the packages into an Easter Basket and I can't tell you how much fun I had anticipating opening the packages.  I will confess to opening the first package a day or two early but thereafter I used extraordinary restraint by opening them on each appointed day.  And it's much more fun to do it that way.  If you can manage to control yourself.  This cowl incidentally was knit with the skeins in the order that they were opened with a few minor adjustments toward the end.  I did wait until all my skeins were opened to see how they looked together before diving in and beginning my cowl, even though I knew early on what I would be making.

As you can probably tell, I am now a huge fan of yarn advent calendars and I've already signed up for Lay Family Yarn's Christmas advent (inspired by an English Christmas Hamper) which will come with 24 mini 10g skeins, a full sized 100g skein, a personalized biscuit, a tea pouch, Christmas progress keeper, and other treats.  To say that I'm excited about this would be a gross understatement.  It's the closest thing I've had as an adult to a Christmas stocking, only it's enjoyed over the entire month culminating with a full sized skein on Christmas day.  But I do want to make a cautionary statement here as yarn advent calendars are not cheap.  You don't want to sign up for one unless you both a) enjoy surprises and b) really love and are familiar with the yarn dyer.  For example Kelly at Lay Family Yarn has exactly my taste and her soft pastel colors are perfect for my coloring.  I personally would not risk buying one from a dyer that I wasn't very very familiar with.  But if you think this is something you might want to try this Christmas I suggest that you begin looking now as many of the yarn advent calendars are sold well in advance to allow the seller the necessary time to plan, prepare, and deliver in advance of the holiday.

Particulars:  Land of Sweets Cowl designed by Helen Stewart (Curious Handmade); US 4 needles 12 10g mini skeins from Lay Family Yarn; US 4 needles.  I modified the pattern to create a smaller (i.e. shorter) cowl by knitting 10 rows of ribbing and 12 rows for each color stripe thereafter.  I did have enough yarn to have knit a few more rows of each color if I had wanted which would have made the cowl even longer.  I'm considering making another with my Christmas advent yarn and for that one I'll probably make it longer and strand it with kidsilk haze to make it more cozy.  Post blocking dimensions: 11" x 15.5."  To see another project where I used Lay Family Yarns see my Kobuk Hat, which might just be my favorite hat ever.  To see additional projects designed by Curious Handmade see Botan Shawlette, Vintage Fairy Lights socks, and the Winter Rose socks below.

A Pot of Tea ~

Over the years I've noticed that teacups have largely gone out of style.  I will admit that I myself more often than not drink tea from a mug.  And yet.  There is something special that happens when you drink tea from a proper teacup.  It just feels special and makes the experience of having a cup of afternoon tea more the delightful interlude that it should be.  As work has been particularly demanding lately I am trying to consciously take time to enjoy small pleasures such as a special cup of tea.  And while on the topic of tea I have recently discovered (via Little Skein in the Big Wool and her curated boxes) Adagio teas.  Anne included Adagio's Berry Creme Compote in our last box and I was so pleased with it that I ordered a refill and several other blends as well.  My favorites are Berry Creme Compote, Tumeric BlissFoxtrot, and Wild Strawberry (best cold).  These little surprise subscription boxes that Little Skein puts together are filled with special finds and I'm glad that I signed up.

Incidentally the teacake pictured above is a lemon, fennel and anise cake that I adapted from the orange anise bunt cake recipe in Milkstreet magazine.

Winter Rose Socks

Last but not least I wanted to share my Winter Rose Socks which is the first pattern from Curious Handmade's The Handmade Sock Society patterns.  I gave this first pair to my mom for Mother's day and I knit them in a soft yarn (merino, nylon and cashmere) as she likes to wear them for her afternoon naps.  I obviously am a fan of Curious Handmade (she designed the cowl in this post in case you missed that) but I will say that I generally find that I have to make a modification or two to get the pattern to work exactly right for me.  With these socks I found the instructions after the heel turn confusing so I simply followed my basic sock formula (see my free Colorblock Socks pattern) for picking up stitches and shaping for the foot and toe while maintaining the winter rose patterning on the top needles.

Until next time be well and love well and take the time to enjoy simple pleasures whether it is a special cup of tea or knitting socks for someone you love.