Knitting

October House minis

As with almost every January, in the process of evaluating last year and conceptualizing the coming year, I come to some painful realizations regarding my knitting.  It must be the New Year but, especially this year, I’m having some new and different thoughts on my knitting.  And not all of them are good. I have too much yarn. Duh.  We all know this.  Almost every January, I vow to not buy any yarn until the DFW Fiber Fest (usually in April).  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t.  But one thing I want to focus on in 2021 is using some of my yarn scraps.  Perhaps I should make some scrappy socks!  Fortunately…. I don’t feel the need to buy yarn. Something must be wrong with me.  Maybe I have COVID.  But right now, I have no wants or needs or desires for more yarn.  I look through Instagram and nothing fazes me.  There’s no stopping to ooh and ahh over a colorway.  Nothing.  Something is seriously wrong.  And even more amazing, I keep dreaming of knitting with the yarn in my stash.  What is wrong with me?! Color inspires me. You wouldn’t know it from the way I dress (neutrals!) but it’s true: color is what inspires me to knit.  I’m working on a non-colorful project right now and, though I always enjoy knitting…it’s not inspiring me.  I keep thinking of the colorful yarn in my stash and how much I want to knit with it, not the blah stuff. It’s overwhelming. There are so many projects I want to knit and I get too easily overwhelmed by them.  How do I choose what to knit next?  Outside of a few birthday gifts, I have free reign to choose what I want to knit, except…. I’m working on my own designs. As I’ve mentioned before, the minute I have to knit something, it becomes un-fun.  Usually, the whole “color inspires me” thing keeps me going but not so all the time.  I did a rough pass on a design and it’s going to take some more work.  And suddenly I’m uninspired. Perhaps I should choose a different yarn – one that is sure to keep me happy and color-fulfilled.   But designing patterns takes time away from other knitting. I guess if you’re a professional designer, you enjoy the process and don’t really think anything of it.  But I love knitting and I love following a pattern.  So this whole writing a pattern thing might not be for me.  Or maybe I’m just unsure of myself.  Either way, I need to snap out of it.  I have ideas that need to get knitted and then written up! Bleh There are my inspiring thoughts.  I’m not in a knitting funk, to be clear, but I’m in an overwhelmed funk.  There’s so much I want to do and not enough time to do it all.   Maybe I should make a list!   How’s your knitting going in the New Year?

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New Year, New Thoughts on Knitting

Owlie Sleep Sack

I love knitting baby gifts…but sometimes I struggle to find something that appeals to me, as a knitter, and that the expectant mom will like.  For my best friend, I had already knit several baby gifts, so I needed something different when I found out she was expecting again.    Searching on Ravelry eventually led me to the Owlie Sleep Sack from Teresa Cole.  And it turned out so cute! The Yarn For this baby project, I had the benefit of knowing the baby’s sex.  A boy!  The only bad part about that is my stash if filled mostly with pinks, purples, and other girlie colors.  So, I had to buy a skein of yarn.  Darn.   I went to the website of my LYS and found a lovely looking colorway from Forest Fiber Arts. It was even more beautiful in person.  And so, so squishy and soft!  It was the perfect choice! The Pattern The Owlie Sack was a breeze to knit.  And not only that, it was fun!  The owls at the top are a bit hard to spot but they were fun to knit.  In retrospect, the owls may be easier to see with a solid colorway but why use a solid when there can be speckles?!   Details Pattern:  Owlie Sleep Sack by Teresa Cole Yarn:  Forest Fiber Arts Merino Worsted Colorways: Winter Birch Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) Made for: baby J Time to Completion: 1 week Thankfully, I knit this during college football season so I was able to get it done quickly.  And once you get going, it’s hard to stop!  Especially with the Forest Fibers Merino – it was a joy to knit with! I knit this just a bit longer than the recommended length, wanting it to fit baby J for longer.  And it still fits, now that he’s two months old!  Time flies!   If you need a soft, squishy baby gift, I highly recommend this sleep sack!!  

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Owlie Sleep Sack

Allie Shawl

It’s that time of year to take stock of the past year and look to the next year ahead.  2020, despite all the catastrophes, was a good year in many ways.  I got to work from home for 9 months, knitted more than ever, and was far less stressed than other years (mainly due to having no commute for those 9 months).  Though I’m not one to make resolutions, I do try to set goals for my knitting – and sometimes I accomplish them!   Let’s take a look at my knitting in 2020….. Goals I set these goals for 2020, before I knew what the year ahead would be like: Make a Christmas ornament (leftover, unrealized goal from 2019!) Try the Fish Lips Heel! Organize my stash, especially the leftovers. Gift knitting – keep on top of it! Finish my Find Your Fade shawl Read more books about knitting Knit about 10 projects Accomplishments All in all, I did pretty well last year, but let’s break it down. I started a Christmas ornament.  It’s still not done.  In a similar vein, I knit cat toys for the first time – and they were super fun and the cats loved them.  Hopefully I can finish the ornament I started before next Christmas.   The Fish Lips heel did not happen.  But, I can say – spoiler alert! – that I tried my first true afterthought heel this week and it was a success!  So, more on afterthought heels in 2021! My stash got super organized in 2020.  This was my first quarantine project.  I weighed and labeled all my leftover yarn and organized my stash into bins according to weight.  Unfortunately, I’ve added to my stash and it’s gotten a bit disorganized in the past few months.  Hopefully I can work on that soon. My gift knitting was great in 2020, though I must say that I didn’t do as much as in years’ past.  I made the cat toys and three pair of socks for gift-giving.  I finished my Find Your Fade Shawl!  Yay! Reading in general fell by the wayside in 2020 – in favor of knitting.  I have several knitting books I need to read and I cannot wait to get to them. My total FO count for 2020 was 16 projects.  That does include three dishcloths (stocking stuffers) and it counts the cat toys as one project, when I actually made six.  But I’m super proud of that number, especially since it contains my Slipstravaganza, which was a beast of a project.   Conclusion I don’t know if I can surpass 16 projects in 2021, especially since I’ll probably have to go back to the office.  So I’m going to think more about my goals and tell you about them next week.  There may be some carryover from 2020 – like my reading. But more on that later.  I hope your knitting in 2020 was fulfilling, mentally and physically!  It’s not all about project counts, after all.  It’s about finding what brings you joy and fulfillment!

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2020 Goals Revisited

WIPs

The holidays have come and gone so quickly!  Wow!  I took a bit of time off from blogging and social media in order to host family and get some rest.  Now, I’m happy to be able to write about all the FOs I didn’t really intend on having at this point in the year.  December is usually about finishing projects, not starting them, but I feel like I started more than ever before!! Let me tell you more about these WIPs… Habitation Throw This throw, though I love it, didn’t get as much love as it deserved this month.  Work was crazy and then, with the holiday break, I didn’t get to work on the Habitation Throw enough.  I hope to be able to remedy this and finish this project in the next few months. Advent Socks I kept up with all my stripes for Advent, which is the purpose of these socks (from The Cozy Knitter).  But then I got distracted by other projects.  I’m to the point of adding toes on to these tubes and then I can do my first-ever afterthought heel!  And that scares me to death!!! Must Stash Socks These socks didn’t get too much attention this month.  I really want to finish them – and I could, anytime, just by making them shorter socks, which I like.  So I really need to just measure these for the afterthought heel and see how high I want the leg to be.  Details – it’s always the details that doom me in knitting! Antler Mitts This project was an impulsive cast on.  I wanted to get some mittens done in 2020 and I may just be able to pull it out if I can get some quality knitting done tonight and tomorrow.  The yarn for these – Willow Creek, made in Estes Park, CO – was too delicious to pass up the last time I visited The Stitchin’ Den. Except For a Mouse One of my knitting goals for 2020 was to knit an ornament.  I almost succeeded.  I’m about ⅓ of the way done with this charming ornament.  But other projects needed my attention and I still haven’t finished this adorable mouse!   FOs I knit up three dishcloths for stocking stuffers for my mother – just in time for Christmas.  That took a lot of my evening knitting time away during the first half of the month, but they were fun to do. What’s Next I must admit: I’m a bit overwhelmed by all these WIPs.   I want to finish the Advent Socks and the Antler Mitts in the next week or so.  Then, well…. First up will be some socks for a gift.  But I also really want to design some patterns.  That’s my top priority for 2021.  So I need to get to work on that.  My urge to make shawls is very, very strong so we’ll see how long I can resist that particular temptation.    What’s next for you?  Are you setting any 2021 knitting goals? I’ll write more about my goals in a few weeks!  In the meantime, happy knitting!

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WIPs – December 2020

Thread and Maple

It’s rare to find great knitting tools.  And knitting requires so many tools: scissors, stitch markers, measuring tape, tapestry needles….  Sure, you can get all these things at Hobby Lobby but sometimes you find something truly special from a small business.  Such is the case with Thread and Maple.  This new Canadian family-owned business went online in 2020 – and we all know how this year has gone.  But they offer some fabulous products that I’m sure you’ll love…. I bought a few items when Thread and Maple had a sale recently and I may have to order some more, these are so great.  Let me tell you more! On the Go I knew I had to have this little On the Go case.  And it lives up to my hopes.  It comes with a small pair of scissors, two tapestry needles, and, the little outside zipper pouch, there are stitch markers!  Seriously, this should go in every knitting bag I own! If you want something bigger, there’s a Notions Clutch that has everything you could possibly need to knit on the go.    Both of these are made in beautiful leather, handcrafted in the small Thread and Maple leather studio.   Notions I also bought a tapestry needle holder that is magnetic.  This is awesome because you can throw it in your knitting bag and all your metal stitch markers will cling to it, making them easy to find.  Love it!  I got the leather needle holder but it also comes in cork.   Besides offering ways to package your notions, Thread and Maple offers stitch markers, tape measures, cable needles, journals, and scissors for sale.  I might have to get the seashell stitch markers!  So cool! A really cool store offering: eco-friendly greeting cards for knitters.  They sent one in my package and it’s so cute.  Plus, it’s biodegradable and the paper is laden with wildflower seeds.  So you plant it and have wildflowers!  Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! Conclusion I have not been paid to endorse Thread and Maple.  I just think this is a fabulous small business and I want them to succeed.  Shipping to the U.S. isn’t super cheap, but it was cheaper than I thought.  And the exchange rate is on our side!  If you need any gifts for the knitters in your life, I can’t recommend this company enough.  Or, better yet: gift yourself these finely made notions!

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Thread and Maple

knitting journal

Do you keep track of all your knitted projects?  Do you take notes as you knit and keep them in a journal or stored in Ravelry?  Do you even have a Ravelry page?  Every knitter is different… I know some knitters who never once record what they have knitted.  And I know some who are crazy OCD about writing down every detail of a knitted project.  While I don’t record every detail, I am pretty OCD about cataloging what I’m knitting…in two different places. Hand Written Notes I have a hard time writing on patterns.  And it’s so dumb since 99% of the patterns I follow are printed at home and, therefore, can be printed again.  I’m trying to get better at that so I’m not carrying around scraps of paper along with the paper patterns.   After I’m done with a project, I make notes in a knitting journal that my BFF got for me a long time ago.  It’s now completely filled so I had to buy another one; and I bought the same exact one.  Ha!  There are fancier ones out there but this one has served me well.  I write down the pattern, the needles, and make notes on what I liked/disliked about the project in general.  These are more personal notes than what I record in Ravelry.  On the back of the page, I take the labels from the yarn I used along with a small sample of the yarn.  I love this!  I love looking back and remembering all the glorious yarn I’ve knit with!! Ravelry Expectedly, I’m a compulsive Ravelry user.  My OCD-self goes crazy keeping track of everything – yarn, projects, etc.  (Everything except needles, which I should really keep track of in Ravelry but have never done.)  I love recording the dates I start and finish a project.  And I make notes as to any modifications I make to the pattern – or for how many rows I knit for an edge or cuff….. And I love keeping my stash stored in Ravelry.  This is such a great feature.  I can easily see what yarn I have without going stash diving.  I can digitally dive!  When I’m finished with a project, I can also quickly calculate how much yarn I have leftover.  Amazing!  I love it when other things/people do maths for me! Another great feature about keeping your stash on Ravelry…  You can list it for sale or trade.  Everyone has those skeins they realize they will never use.  This is a great way to re-home them.  I’ve bought and sold quite a bit of yarn this way – and I’ve met new friends in the process! Conclusion However you catalog your knitting, I encourage you to keep track of it.  Your knitting encompasses many memories of the time you spent working on it.  I remember what project I was knitting when I waited for a family member in the hospital, or when we were watching a particular show….   Knitting is a part of our lives and should be chronicled like anything else. Happy knitting!

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Documenting Your Knitting

Find Your Fade

I talked a lot about my Find Your Fade shawl by Andrea Mowry.  But I forgot to actually show you the finished shawl!!  So today I’m going to fill you in on this project, that consumed so much of my lunchtime knitting for so long!! The Yarn Though I’d seen this pattern for a long time – it was very popular, as you know – I didn’t jump on board until I saw the Suburban Stitcher talk about a fade she’d put together using October House yarns.  I fell in love with that fade and emailed Robin, of October House, to see if I could get it.  She was super sweet and put it together for me. About halfway through the pattern, I decided I wanted another color to go along with the five I’d originally purchased.  I emailed Robin and we discussed options she thought would look best.  We settled on a slightly lighter than usual version of Tropic.  And I love it!! The Pattern This pattern is very straight forward. But leave it to me to get the stitch counts wrong, which I did about halfway through and never bothered to fix this problem.  As a result, the shape of my shawl is a bit different and I don’t care in the least. This was supposed to be a stress-free project and it was! Details Pattern:  Find Your Fade Yarn:  October House Fiber Arts, MCS Fingering Colorways: Rosewater, Broken Rose, Honey Jar, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Par Avion, Tropic Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) Made for: me Time to Completion: 15 months I love this yarn and the fade!  Mowry – along with Stephen West, now – has given me so much courage and inspiration to put together fades and sets of skeins from my own stash.  It’s so much fun and liberating.   That being said, I don’t know how many fades I’ll want to do in the future.  I guess if I do any more, I’d want them to be a bit less strict than this one was.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this yarn and the fade.  But I don’t want every project to be as subdued as this fade is.  Sometimes I want bold!  (Though not very often.) If you’re wanting to try one of Mowry’s patterns, this is a great place to start, especially if you love shawls.  

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Find Your Fade

WIPs

So…..  What happened to November?  The month has flown by and I cannot believe Thanksgiving is now behind us, as well.  Wow!  I’ve been knitting a ton – and have the WIPs to prove it – but I haven’t finished much.  Why?  Slipstravaganza is why!  This shawlanket is taking up all of my knitting time and I’m still not done.  But I’ve managed some work on some other WIPs, just to have a break from that massive project.   Here’s what I’m knitting…. Habitation Throw This project continues to get about 30 minutes of love on weekdays.  And it’s progressing nicely!  I’m now past the midway point so I’m decreasing each row, and shorter rows knit up quicker and quicker.  I’m loving this blanket!! Must Stash Traveling Socks These socks have not gotten any love this month, mainly due to the tiny FOs down below.  But I have had nightmares about doing the cut in heel, so there’s that.  Ha!  To cut into my beloved Must Stash yarn….  So terrifying! Slipstravaganza I got to the point in this shawl where I could stop – for the shorter version.  But I still had plenty of yarn left so I decided to make the larger version.  Why not?!  I’m in this for the long haul, apparently.  I have just two more stripes to go on the chevron stripes…and then I must bind off.  That bind off will take hours.  I’m determined – well, 90% determined – to finish this in the month of November.  Wish me luck. Advent Socks I’ll tell you more about these soon but I’m knitting a striped pair of socks for Advent. And I started early.  Yes, I kind of cheated only because I wanted to get my cuffs knit in the contrasting mini before starting my stripes in Advent.  So I just barely have one cuff started (in white). FOs I’ve been wanting to make some cat toys for years.  So in the midst of Slipstravaganza craziness, I decided to give my fingers a break by knitting little mice (with worsted yarn). And I bought stuffing and stuffed 6 mice with it – and catnip.  I was going to save these for the cats’ Christmas stockings but I couldn’t resist.  And they love them!!  I’ll tell you more about these later but they are a must if you have cats! What’s Next I’m looking forward to my Advent socks and then I must turn around and make a pair of socks for my mother.  After that, I’m not sure yet.  I must work on my 2021 knitting goals!!   What’s next up for you?  Any gift knitting in December?  

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WIPs – November 2020

Slipstravaganza

I’ve made some progress on my Slipstravaganza since I last talked about it.  But I’m still only on clue 4 – out of 6.  So if you don’t want spoilers, stop reading now!!  Stephen West (aka Westknits) has designed one massively complex shawl and, though it’s not something I’d gravitate towards on my own, it’s really rather pretty and I’m liking how it’s coming together. Let me tell you more…. Design All the different shapes, honeycombs, holes, diamonds, texture….  It’s been fun learning new stitches and techniques in order to make all these shapes possible.  Section 3 (the diamonds) took a long time – you change colors often and slip so many stitches….  And now I’m working with CC3 and the main color for section 4.   There are still shapes to come, triangles and the border, chevron stripes!  When I finally saw the finished shawl, I was happy with it, so I’m assuming I’ll be happy with my shawl.  I love the colors, after all. Size Section 6 has over 900 stitches.  Nine hundred!!  Now, with over 400 stitches, it takes me 15-20 minutes to knit a row.  So it’ll take 45 minutes or so to knit 900 stitches.  Oh my goodness!   I’ve been thinking that I needed a big shawl and this is apparently going to be it.  Stephen refers to such shawls as Shawlankets – shawl blankets.  I’m not going to lie – a lot of the shawls I’ve knit are good scarves but not great shawls.  So I’m actually looking forward to having a huge shawl.   Time I have no idea when I’m going to finish this but I’m hoping to finish it before December.  To distract myself, I’ve started a few other little projects that give almost instant gratification….  Because there’s not going to be satisfaction with the Slipstravaganza for a while now!!   900 stitches will take awhile to knit, for sure! Conclusion Yes, that’s a lot of stitches. Yes, this design is a bit…unconventional.  But you don’t do a Stephen West MKAL unless you want something very unusual.  And I’m completely satisfied with the design of this shawl.  You only live once.  Why not wear something unconventional that you’ve handknit and that brings you joy?!   Happy knitting!

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Slipstravaganza Update II

WIPs

I love October.  It’s the gateway month to my favorite time of the year, the holiday season.  It also includes both my birthday and my dad’s birthday….so there’s always a reason to celebrate this month.  It also means cooler temps – usually – here in Texas.  Those cooler temps lead to more knitting and more WIPs…and hopefully more FOs.   This month was dominated by a last minute, week-long trip to Colorado, which meant we got some much needed rest and time away from the home.  (I love our home but I really miss traveling!) Now, on to the WIPs…. Habitation Throw I haven’t gotten as much done on this throw since I chose not to take it to Colorado…and I’ve been a bit distracted by a very colorful MKAL.  But I’ve gotten some rows done and it’s almost time to wind some more mini skeins!!  I’m also now, officially, halfway done!! Must Stash Traveling Socks I made some good progress on these socks, mainly when I was in between projects before the MKAL started.  I’m still loving the bright stripes – they make me very happy.   And I’m now committed to doing my first-ever afterthought heel.  Oy.  I’ll have to watch a video and take it slow when the time comes for that.  I’m already nervous, just thinking about it!  Learning new skill is scary!!  Slipstravaganza I’ve talked at length about the Westknits MKAL.  As of today, I’m into section 3, so I’m making progress, though I’m still behind.    I’m loving how the colors are coming together and couldn’t be happier with my yarn choices.   But this shawl is out there and I don’t think I’d choose to knit it if given a choice.  However, Stephen West is a knitting adventurer and I’m learning so many new things to do with yarn and needles….it’s incredible!   FOs I have two FOs since we last talked WIPs!  I finished Dawn Barker’s Travelers Loop, which I’ll share with you soon.  It was a blast to knit – so easy and yet so pretty and functional.  I wore it all around Colorado and it was super warm and cozy! Soon I’ll be able to share with you a little something I made for a little someone who’s on the way.  And no, I’m not having a baby.  I knit for other peoples’ babies!! What’s Next After the Sipstravaganza, I want to try my hand at some mittens – real mittens.  I’ve only knit fingerless mitts, so it’s time I conquered a thumb!  I found some scrumptious yarn in Colorado that’s finally pushed me into making these.   But there are so many more projects I’m eager to start!  What about you?  What are you anxious to knit?

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WIPs – October 2020