Saturday, May 19, 2018

Some Knitting


     Hey there.  I thought I'd pop back in for another entry to tell you how things are going.  Basically, it's better, not great yet, but waaaayyyy better than where I was in early Spring.  I believe we found the right mix of medication and certainly having a wave of beautiful sunny days which had me walking my dog around the neighborhood is helping too.  Getting out and moving my body has been really wonderful after our long snowy winter when people just gave up shoveling their sidewalks as we continued to have snow until the end of April. 

     The question then is - is my creativity coming back along with my better mood?  Well, yes albeit much slower.  I did purchase this lovely skein of naturally dyed yarn to tempt me into knitting, hoping to turn it into a lightweight summer scarf with this pattern, but it is not what's calling me back to knit.  What is speaking to me, oddly enough, is my bag of sock yarn scraps.  The rather clean slate I accomplished by selling off most of my stash was not enough for me.  So, I decided to knit up my sock yarn scraps, leaving only a small bag of bits and bobs for sock darning, to shrink my stash even more.

     Over the years I've started and stopped a lot of scrappy knitting projects.  Do you remember when "hexipuffs" were all the rage as well as the mitered square blanket?  In the past I've started both of those patterns, but lost interest and drive along the way.  They were basically too epic.  Having a penchant for scarves, I decided to try this very simple linen stitch scarf as the way to use up all my sock yarn.  The means with which the slipped stitches blend all the colors really appealed to me.  There was the hurtle though, of the humongous amount, 500 in total, of cast on stitches (this scarf is knit lengthwise instead of the usual widthwise.) It took me a few days to complete casting on all those stitches, as well as a kind husband to check on my counting skills.  Finally, I got to the fun part of trying to blend the yarns in some aesthetically pleasing manner.  In my first attempt, I switched yarn every two rows picking a contrasting colorway each time.  This method turned out a bit muddy looking.  So, I switched over to grouping the yarns in like colors i.e. there might be 10 rows of blue, then 8 rows of yellow etc., this method made the colors stand out and shine much better.

     I'm knitting a bit each day, but only for short stretches.  There is no hurry.  After all, it's now Spring and the weather is warm.  I might not even keep this scarf for myself as I have enough cozy scarves for Winter already.  Luckily, my local knitting guild takes donations for charities each year so it will find a home with someone who needs it.

     This brings up an interesting topic which I think about often:  how do creatives create with out amassing huge amounts of knitting, clothing or whatever your end product my be?  Now, I believe creating is vastly important.  For me, it's an actual need and I feel a hole when I go long stretches without making something.  But, when does it become too much?  Have a bit of a think on this and I'll talk about it more in my next post. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Not Knitting

     Hi lovely people!  I've been vacationing on Instagram, but felt like to coming back to blogging as I miss this space for simply writing.
     There has been a struggle within me these last few months with my depression and my creative life.  I've been sailing along quite well for many years with my regime of medication, counseling, exercising, using a SAD light, seeing friends and trying to eat healthy.   Then I was derailed this past February.  It was a subtle shift.  A slow decline that I did not notice was happening until I was no longer interested in knitting.  Not interested at all.  I was not physically knitting, planning new knitting, reading about knitting or listening to knitting podcasts.  It all seemed so pointless to me and when I felt that, I knew something was truly amiss.

     Now, my depression is pretty severe and not of the situational type, but I'm really, really good at pretending everything is fine, even to myself.  My doctor had no answers as to the "why" this was happening to me, but I am of an age of hormonal changes, and she said frankly it just happens.  So, on to dealing with it.  New meds were ordered, then rejected and yet a different medication tried.  It's like being a rat in a lab, doctors truly cannot predict what is going to happen. You need to try the drug out yourself and wait and see.  As your mother always told you - everyone is different.

     Meanwhile, it felt like the end of who I was as I so heavy defined myself as being a knitter.  If I wasn't a knitter than who was I?  Where was my personal identity?  I had no idea.  I started going though all my knitting accoutrements hoping to jog myself out of this rut.  When I got to my stash, it felt wrong to own so much yarn if I wasn't going to knit with it.  Thus began the great selling off of my stash.  Now, stashes vary quite a bit so to give you a sense of the size of mine it was stored in ten Rubbermaid plastic bins. At first it was hard to take in all that I had, list it on sites such as Ravelry and Craigslist, putting a price to my precious stores but, then I started to feel good about what I was doing.  It was like shedding a old skin, an old life.  Currently, my stash consists of only a one gallon sized Ziploc bag of sock yarn scraps and two smaller bins of full skeins.

     Sitting with what yarn I had left I realized how much more comfortable I felt.  There wasn't the crushing weight of years of knitting waiting in the wings.  It was a fresh start.  I kept those last bits of yarn hoping I'd find my way back to the knitting world and my old life.

     Yet, I knew I could not go completely back to my old life of knitting all the time.  The cycle of acquire and consuming at such a fast rate.  Being now unbalanced emotionally I could see how unbalanced I was in my day to day life.  So, I started to remedy this imbalance by watching movies with no knitting in my hands, reading instead of listening to books that kept my hands free to knit, walking in the garden I started so many years ago before knitting entered my life.  I observed there was more to my life than only knitting and there was more to me than just being a knitter.

     I'm making my way out of my hole both emotionally as well as creatively.  I have high hopes for the future, which for me is big thing.  My future with knitting, but also including the other things I enjoyed and sadly forgot about along the way. 

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.