Friday, February 3, 2017

Yarn Along - Cheating on My Knitting

 Sleeve number one for what will be my new Spring Cardigan.

Now, I'm not a monogamous knitter, but I was really hoping to be with my Branches and Buds sweater.  There is only a sleeve and about 4 inches of body to go, but the dark navy blue is dragging me down after so many cloudy, dark days in a row.  I resisted as best I could, but that meant I wasn't knitting anything at all, which is bad.  So, I succumbed to the CoBaSi plus yarn in my stash in it's beautiful bright shade of indigo blue.  The pattern is for a cardigan called Silver Creek by Andrea Sanchez.  Maybe going from a sweater to a sweater is not the smartest move.  Maybe knitting up a quick accessory would be the thing to do, but I actually need some sweaters so here we are.  For once I am using the yarn called for in the pattern and got gauge bang on nose with the recommended needle sizes US 7/4.5 mm and US 8/5 mm.  The larger needle sizes are lulling me into the belief that this sweater will fly off the needles, as my Branches and Buds sweater is on US 4's. Time will tell.

This pattern is pieced and sewn together at the end of all the knitting.  I think this will play in my favor as finishing each section of the sweater can be an accomplishment in and of itself.  They have you starting with a sleeve knit in the round.  Now, I like DPNs but I get ladders, not between the stitches spanning the gap, but from 2nd to the last stitch on each needle that gets pulled out of shape i.e. I pull too tight.  I just can't seem to get the right tension.  Since I don't want ladders running up my sleeves, instead of DPN's I now use ChiaoGoo's 12 inch circular knitting needles.  I simply love them!  This solution wouldn't have worked it this was a full length sleeve, but being a 3/4 length loose fitting sleeve it was perfect.

This week finds me again without a book of my own so I will write about the book I am reading to my son.  It's called Time of The Dragons by James A. Owen.  It's from the Teen Fiction section of our library, not so much for content I think, but for the writing which can be challenging at times.  The book is quite a hefty tome at 772 pages, but the action is such that my son's interest hasn't waned in the least.  There is a lot of history and historical literary figures, mythology and legends used as well as his own vision of course.  You could spend a year with this book, which is the second in the series, looking up all the references.  In fact, we did spend quite a lot of wikipedia time on the 1st book as well as watching all the Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio movies (my son didn't like watching Disney movies when he was little what with the parents always dying off in the beginning and all.)  My only real complaint is there are no female characters, even in the background (the first book did have 2 female secondary characters.)  Just men, men and more men.  Even the talking animals have all been male.  This doesn't bother my son at all, but I find it incredibly ridiculous seeing as we women make up half the planet.  It's just a book of course, but you can bet I did point this out to my son.

Well, that's that for this week's very belated Yarn Along post.  I wish you all a relaxing weekend. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

It's All About The Planning

 My small stash of Shetland Spindrift for my Fair Isle Knitting class at this year's Yarnover Event.

There's a group I belong to on Ravelry called Pre-process Yarnies.  They are knitters who love the planning of projects possibly more than the actual knitting itself and tend to get themselves into trouble by acquiring too much yarn and more patterns than they could ever knit up.  Loosing themselves down the Ravelry rabbit hole for hours on end.  Does that sound familiar?  The hope of these knitters is to have more yardage go out, in the way of completing projects or selling yarn, than comes in over the course of a year.  It all started with the group leader's blog post which you can read here.
 
The leader has developed a great Spreadsheet to help the group members track their progress oddly called The Spreadsheet of Doom. It helps you track the yardage of the yarn you knit up, bought and sold (as well as fiber and spinning if you are so inclined.) So far mine spreadsheet numbers are abysmal as so much yardage has gone into my stash with my local yarn shop closing.  Also, since I am in the midst of a large knitting project I have only been able to add 2 small projects to my finished knitted items column.

To help get me an accurate picture of what I have on hand I dove into my stash (yes, again) and pulled all the yarn I haven't yet photographed to get them listed on my Ravelry Stash page.  I do love this process, the organizing and cataloging, as well as just tossing the stash to say "hi" to all those beautiful skeins of yarn.  It was a pretty enlightening.  My stashed yarn listings went up quite a bit more than I expected.  Remember this photo?  Well, imagine adding 3 more of those tubs and you have my current stash.  I'm going in the wrong direction folks.

The yarn budget now has only one fourth left with less than one month of the year gone, but the stash looks like about 3-4 years of solid knitting.  I have a lot of sweater quantities which got me to thinking of a challenge for myself:  I am going to try to knit and complete four sweaters this year.  Basically a sweater per quarter.  Definitely doable don't you think?.  Probably there will be a little room leftover for sock and accessory knitting too, at least that's my hope.  A girl doesn't want to get too sweater crazy right?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Yarn Along - Around and around and around


Around and around and around and yet not getting anywhere.  Well, at least, that's how I feel about knitting my Branches and Buds sweater at the moment.  So much stockinette knit at a fine gauge on US 4 /  3.5 mm needles is slow going.  I positively flew through the yoke with it's stranded knitting of the branch pattern as it was so fun to see the pattern emerge, but now I'm left with stockinette and a little 2 x 2 ribbing.  Sigh.  I knit up one of the sleeves to break up the monotony of  knitting the body, but it too was stockinette so it wasn't much in the way of variety.  I am dying to block it and sew on the buds in the beautiful golden yarn I have chosen.  Pretty sure the sweater is going to be lovely and having tried it on twice I think it's going to fit well too.  The dark navy blue I believe is part of my problem.  You see the weather here in Central Minnesota has been very dark and gray and it has me craving the color I find lacking in my landscape.  This is the sweater I am wanting to cast on in hopes of getting to wear it this Spring.  It calls for Cobasi Plus yarn which I have in the most beautiful shade of indigo blue.  I'm excited about the pattern and trying out a new to me yarn, but I'm pushing it down until I finish my current sweater.  At least so far...

As for reading again I have no book of my own, but instead will share with you a book I'm reading to my ten year old called The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill.  You may recognize the author from this previous post where I wrote about another of her books called The Girl Who Drank The Moon.  This story is a bit darker, but again has a boy, Ned, and a girl, Aine, as our main characters.  At first their lives are separate, but they soon become intertwined in the effort to save the world from magic.  Ned's mother is the town witch who uses the magic for good and Aine's father is the Bandit King and uses the magic to rob and steal.  What's interesting is the magic has a mind of it's own and has major consequences when used.  It starts with us just being concerned about Aine and Ned's families and then expands to us to hoping they stop a war between their two countries.  My son loved it and highly recommends it.

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.   

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Best Laid Plans

Simply Shetland Lambswool and Cashmere yarn.  I love the rich colorways.

Ah, it's always interesting when your actions counter your intentions.  When I talked about my fiber budget in this post I mentioned my local yarn store that's closing and liquidating it's stock.  Well, I went back to purchase some Jamiesons Shetland DK (my absolute favorite yarn brand as Shetland is so durable) with which to make a sweater for my mother, Miss Rachel's Yoke by Kate Davies to be exact (although I intend to steek it and make the pullover into a cardigan), when I saw some other yarn by Simply Shetland (an off shoot of Jamiesons) that was 50% off.  It was Jamiesons attempt to make a more luxury yarn by mixing Shetland with Cashmere.  But what pulled me in so completely was the beautiful colors - especially the yellow curry shade.  I decided right there and then to make the same sweater as I'm making my mom but as a the intended pullover for me.  It was a heck of a steal for such wonderful yarn, and I'm still within my yearly budget, but I certainly did not plan on this purchase.

I have sold some more items, mainly the leftovers to my knitted toy business as well as some yarn, needles and project bags, to help boost my budget back up, but I'm at the halfway point and only 3 weeks into the year.  Sigh.  I really need to stay away from temptation and focus on what I already have.  I feel there are so many temptations and people enabling others to purchase more, but not many on the other side.  Is it just an aspect of our consumerist culture that acquiring is always good?  I saw this on Instagram the other day and it made me feel so good that someone was taking such time and care to renew something old instead of just tossing it.  I want to be that type of person.  I've always loved the saying "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without." but it really is difficult when the new is so inexpensive and readily accessible.  This really goes into the idea of Slow Fashion, which I think knitting can be a part of, but it can also so easily be about consuming too. If your interested in Slow Fashion there is a great conversation on Instagram started by Karen Templer of Fringe Supply Company.  

It seems to come down to making conscious choices.  So, I will redouble my efforts about really thinking about my purchases and sticking within my fiber budget.  Do you have any techniques for sticking to a budget or goal?    

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Fiber Budget

My now more organized yarn stash.

To buy or not to buy that is the question.  This year I am on a fiber budget to help curb my impulse control and overspending.  It was a joint decision between my husband and I that we need to be more aware of our spending.  Surprisingly, so far I'm finding having a budget is comforting.  What?  Yup, I said comforting.  For instance, my local yarn store is closing (the proprietor wants to retire so good for her, sad for me) thus she is liquidating everything in her store.  I could go crazy shopping, but with the budget that has to last the whole year, multiple fiber events and holiday gift making I simply can't if I'm going to keep my sanity.  So, instead of grabbing anything and everything that suits my fancy I actually mapped out a few projects and took stock of the yarn and needles I already have before purchasing.  And you know what?  I only bought what I planned for and no more.  Wow!  That has never happened to me.  I always come away with something I didn't plan on.  It felt really good to be in control, like really good.

I'm also finding myself figuring out how can I add to my budget.  This has me sorting through my yarn stash, needles, project bags and thinning out what I don't really love.  Basically, I guess I'm simply de-cluttering.  Then, I'm selling those items I've culled with the proceeds going back into my yarn budget.  Thus far I have paid for a class and the teachers dinner for my local fiber fair called Yarnover with these proceeds so my budget hasn't even gone down that much.  Now, this probably won't work for next year, but it is helping ease me into budget life with the added benefit of being more organized.

Since I do have enough yarn for years of future knitting projects, ahem, I am thinking I will save most of my budget for classes, events and experiences.  In Minnesota we have Yarnover and Shepard's Harvest in the Spring and the Fall Fiber Festival in Autumn.  They all have classes and lots of local fiber vendors.  I'm hoping to learn more about Fair Isle knitting from Mary Jane Mucklestone in her class Fresh Fair Isle at Yarnover as well as how to use a knitting belt used by the people of the Shetland Isles from June Hemmons Hiatt at the Yarnover teacher's dinner.  Both I think will be money well spent as they are based on key interests of mine.  

Well, it's only January so I'm still feeling pretty optimistic about this whole Fiber Budget idea.  I'll check back in with you on this subject in the coming months to let you know how it's going.  Do you have a fiber budget?  What helps keep you on track?  I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Yarn Along - Hats for Women's March


You've probably heard about the Women's March on Washington, but have you heard of the Pussyhat Project?  It's a lamentable name I think, but the idea is to give the marchers a striking presence that cannot be ignored so they can better be heard.  Being a knitter I thought this was a great way for me to contribute.  My friend is flying to Washington DC to be part of the March so I am sending a hat along with her as well as another two for friends participating right here in Minnesota for our own Women's March.  You can find the very simple pattern and more about the project right here.   I used Blue Moon Fiber Arts Mopsy aran weight yarn in the Orchid Queen colorway.  It's a wonderful yarn to knit with very round and squishy and blooms beautifully when blocked.  I made a few changes to the pattern which can be found in my Ravelry project page.

Photobombed by my son when taking a project photo.

So, that's what has occupied my knitting time.  As for reading I currently don't have a book of my own, but I will share with you the book I am reading to my son.  It's called The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill who is a Minnesota author (I have just a wee bit of state pride I guess.)  It is a very lovely almost poetic story of a girl who becomes in-magicked by the moon when she is rescued as a baby by a kind witch.  There is a loving swamp monster, a tiny but enormous dragon, an evil witch as well a a kind one, and a sad village.  There is triumph as well as loss, but the balance is so well done that you never despair.  I first heard of it from Laura of The Knit Girllls podcast.  She is a Middle School Librarian as well as an avid knitter.  Their show is mainly about knitting, but they have a segment where they discuss what they're reading and often Laura is reading kid/teen books for her job which she reviews.  

I'm joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.  Wishing you a wonderful rest of your week!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Frogging, Finishing and Starting Fresh

These are my favorite knitting project bags.  
Star Trek and Hobbit are by Stitched by JessaLu and the British Telephone Box is by Zigzag Stitches.


I started in December re-accessing my knitting WIP's as there were many which left me feeling weighed down.  They took up room, filled every project bag I own, and inhibited my starting anything new.  I had heard a quote that went something along these lines "If I can stand to stop knitting on a project, it is probably not something I really truly want."  Sadly, I don't remember where I heard it or the exact wording, but the sentiment is right.  It got me thinking about how we sometimes really do need to let go to make space for something even better.  I, like many of you I'm sure, get wrapped up in the amount of time I've already given that item and feel it's all for naught if I don't finish it.  Well, if you look at it from a different perspective, that item, while not completed, has already brought me excitement in the planning process and casting on, comfort in the actual knitting and possibly it has even given me practice at some new skills.  So, it wasn't a wasted effort, but maybe more of a pastime until the right project comes my way.  You know the type of project I'm talking of, the one you can't put down, that seems to knit itself, or that is just what you needed to complete your wardrobe.

Thus a frogging I went through all my project bags.  A couple of scarves here, a beautiful yet too small mitten there, a brioche poncho, a gorgeous sleeveless top and others met there end to my ripping back the yarn.  But isn't that the lovely thing about knitting though?  That you can reuse the yarn (well unless it's mohair then you might just be stuck throwing it out.)  I do think it's the reason I've stopped stressing as much over my knitting.  When yarn is recoverable to make anew with, unless it's the aforementioned mohair, the "risk" of wasting money is slight and that eases my mind.  The only thing truly gone is your time and as I mentioned previously that's really all in how you look at it. 

Now, looking at the projects I am carrying over into this new year I find they are ones I really do want.  The double knit mittens to match the hat I already finished and wear all the time, 2 sweaters that will add to my wardrobe, a stole which is such a perfect match for it's yarn, a pair of vanilla socks as I always take some with me as my on the go project, a late Christmas gift scarf (it's a bit of a boring knit, but the recipient can sure use it) and lastly a cowl out of the remainder of my handspun yarn.  So yes, there are still quite a number of projects crossing over into the new year.  I am not a monogamous knitter by any means, yet I do hope to get back down to only 3 projects at a time:  socks, sweater, and a neck or home accessory.  Thus, I am hoping to restrain myself from casting on anything new until a few more WIP's have become FO's. 

So, while I have no fresh cast on with which to begin the new year I feel as if I am starting fresh with my freshly sorted WIP's and future plans.  Now, on to re-accessing the yarn stash which is due for a good tossing.  How do you start the new year with regards to knitting?