2014 Knitting Plans: mid-year update

Knitting

  1. Knit myself 1-2 sweaters.
    Finished knitting one (my first CustomFit sweater). I bought buttons this weekend, so I’ll be sewing those on and blocking the button band soon.
    I have plans to knit Dalriada next using some Rowan Calmer I’ve had in my stash since 2008. I’ve already swatched, so I just need to decide which size to knit and whether I need to make any changes.
  2. Knit socks, at least 6 pairs for me.
    Five pairs total, and four of those were for me.
  3. Knit all 4 M Club patterns.
    The first two are completed. Clue #4 for the third one (Magia) comes out tomorrow, but I only have clue #1 complete. I’m working on something for Knit Picks, so I probably won’t get back to Magia until that’s finished.
  4. Knit at least 2 blankets (1 for me).
    Chrysanthemum is still only 70% done, but I’ve had a lot of things keeping me busy. I’m hoping I’ll want to knit blankets more once Fall rolls around.
  5. Try to not have too many WIPs.
    I only have four WIPs right now, so I’m happy with that.
  6. Knit some Xmas decorations.
    I haven’t thought about this at all since my last check in. Ha.

Yarn

  1. Only buy yarn that is cast on right away.
    I haven’t done as well on this since my last update. I think I’ll be able to make a better go at it after Stitches Midwest next month. I think I’ve only gotten two yarns since the end of March that I don’t have specific projects lines up from.
  2. Stop buying yarn online.
    I had a credit at Jimmy Beans Wool, so I bought a couple of skeins to knit a Monster Face Hat. I also tossed three skeins of (clearance) yarn into a Knit Picks order to get free shipping, but I have that lined up to knit a Rib Warmer.
  3. Get more self-striping sock yarn.
    I will keep my eyes peeled for some at Stitches this year.
  4. Destash some stuff.
    Still no sales.
  5. Work with scraps.
    Still no. Been too busy with larger projects.
  6. Use my handspun.
    No.

Spinning

  1. Spin.
    Still haven’t spun at all.
  2. Reduce fiber stash (by spinning).
    Nope.
  3. Don’t buy fiber.
    I’m still doing well on this!
  4. Use my spindles.
    Nope.

Etc.

  1. Make at least 2 more quilts.
    Meh. I haven’t felt like sewing or planning for a quilt at all.
  2. Sew a small project or two.
    Nope. My crafty room still need to be cleaned, too.
  3. Publish a knitting pattern.
    Nope.

Well, I definitely haven’t done as well with yarn buying since my last update, but I’m kinda OK with that. I’m mostly just happy that I’m still knitting a lot and haven’t gone off the deep end buying yarn. Wish me luck at Stitches!

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WIP Wednesday

After going over my 2014 knitting plans, I finally cast on for a new sweater. I’ve been pretty gun shy about sweaters, since I don’t have any that I’ve knit and wear on a regular basis, so I decided to go ahead and make a CustomFit sweater. I swatched with two different yarns: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted in Chocolate (purchased in August 2007) and Valley Yarns Northampton in Fawn (purchased at Stitches Midwest, also in August 2007). These are definitely deep stash! They both worked up to 5 sts and 7 rows per inch, so I had CustomFit create a relaxed fit, V-neck cardigan for me. I chose the wrong sleeve option, so I had to go and figure out how to have them taper down, but it wasn’t too bad.

So far, I’ve knit both sleeves and the back. Oh, and run out of brown yarn. Ha! I ordered some more from Knit Picks two days ago, so the project is on hold until it gets here. It’ll be interesting to see how much, if any, difference there is between the dye lots. Wish me luck on that one. Here’s a crappy iPhone shot of the back.

Striped V-Neck Sweater back

Since I had to stop working on the sweater (just two fronts, button bands, and finishing to go!), I decided to ride out my sweater excitement by swatching with some of the (few) yarns that I have sweater quantities of in my stash. First up: Rowan Calmer in Garnet. I’m swatching on US 8s and 6s. After this swatch is done, I’ll be swatching some Berroco Ultra Alpaba in Peat Mix. Obviously, the Calmer is a better choice for a summer sweater, not to mention nicer to knit in hot weather, but we’ll see which one I end up wanting to cast on.

Calmer Swatch

Swatches are definitely good bus knitting. The bottom section is on US 8s.

I’m not sure what either of these yarns will end up being, but I’m going to let gauge decide. I don’t think the Calmer is really my color (which is a bit redder/less pink than the picture), so we’ll see what I do about that. Maybe overdye with blue or purple?

I’ll be in the suburbs for most of this weekend, so I should figure out something to bring with me, since the yarn reinforcements won’t be in by then and I think I’ll be done swatching, too. Maybe socks? Probably socks.

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2014 Knitting Plans: update

I decided it was time to see how my plans for this year were going so far.

Knitting

  1. Knit myself 1-2 sweaters.
    Nope. Haven’t even started one. I think swatching and starting on a sweater should be my goal for June.
  2. Knit socks, at least 6 pairs for me.
    Four pairs so far, with three of those being for me!
  3. Knit all 4 M Club patterns.
    On track: 2 down, 2 to go.
  4. Knit at least 2 blankets (1 for me).
    Still plugging away at Chrysanthemum, which I started in November. It’s about 70% done, if I’m planning on using up all of the yarn.
  5. Try to not have too many WIPs.
    Hmm…there a few things from last year (and some earlier than that) that are just sort of hanging out. My real I’m-working-on-this-at-least-once-a-week projects usually number no more than 3, which is good.
  6. Knit some Xmas decorations.
    I need to reassess what I want to do as far as this goes, since I started a couple of things that I think I may frog.

Yarn

  1. Only buy yarn that is cast on right away.
    So far this year, I’ve had 22 new yarns come my way: 10 that I purchased and have already completed the projects, 4 from the M Club (2 used), 3 from the Sunnydale Yarn Club, 2 that I won from the UILI contest on Stash and Burn, 2 superwash yarns I bought for baby knits, and 1 gift.
  2. Stop buying yarn online.
    I made an order for the Monster Mobile and got a couple of balls for a baby sweater,  but haven’t ordered any other yarn online this year.
  3. Get more self-striping sock yarn.
    Came up empty at YarnCon, but that may be my next purchase from Windy Knitty.
  4. Destash some stuff.
    I tossed some stuff on my trade/sell page on Ravelry, but haven’t gotten any nibbles yet.
  5. Work with scraps.
    Nope, but I’m thinking of using my Cascade Heritage leftovers to make Vivid.
  6. Use my handspun.
    Nope.

Spinning

  1. Spin.
    Nope! I think I need a plan some concrete goals.
  2. Reduce fiber stash (by spinning).
    Obviously not. I’m contemplating possible selling some.
  3. Don’t buy fiber.
    At least I’m not buying any fiber!
  4. Use my spindles.
    Nope.

Etc.

  1. Make at least 2 more quilts.
    I have plans for one and probably most of the fabric I need for it, too.
  2. Sew a small project or two.
    I haven’t used my sewing machine in forever. I need to clean my crafty room.
  3. Publish a knitting pattern.
    Nope. I’ve been really busy knitting, but not coming up with ideas of my own, really.

Not too bad. If I could make some specific plans for my UFOs, spinning/fiber, and sewing, I’d probably be able to get on track. Luckily, I’ve been knitting up a storm (and not buying much), so that is going really well. Hurrah!

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Weekly Tea Ritual: Time for Strawberries

Tea 03.17.2014

This week’s tea is Stash Strawberry Pomegranate Herbal Red Tea. It contains rooibos, rosehips, hibiscus flowers, raspberry leaves, citric acid (ha), strawberry flavor, and pomegranate flavor. Rooibos, rosehips, and hibiscus flowers are some of my favorite things to have in a tea. Rooibos is just so smooth. I adore it. This tea tastes mostly of the rooibos, with a bit of fruitiness in the background. Nothing spectacular, but I bet it would make a really nice iced tea.

I also tossed in a bit of Fusion Sweets Strawberry Sugar (sugar, dried strawberries) to keep it a more sugary edge. I really like their sugars (I got a sampler a while back.), especially when added to tea. And yes, I do realize that the owl mug is terrifying. I got it as a gift, but its eyes are pretty creepy. The good thing is that it’s a huge mug, so it’s good for a giant beverage or having soup.

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Weekly Tea Ritual: Week Two

Weekly Tea Ritual March 3, 2014

Tonight, I’m drinking Magnificent ChamoMile by Adagio. Adagio is one of my favorite tea companies because of the variety and all of the information about tea on the site. This particular tea is from the Chicago Series and contains chamomile, white tea, apples, hibiscus flowers, orange peel, grapefruit flavor, cornflowers, and rose petals.

It mostly tastes of chamomile, which is probably my single favorite ingredient in any tea. It’s a sweet chamomile with a hint of white tea. The other ingredients don’t add much, but I’m a fan of a good, solid chamomile anyway, so this is fine with me. Adding a little peppermint it might be nice or maybe even a fruity rooibos.

The kitten tea cup came with a saucer, lid, and infuser. It was another Christmas 2012 gift from my grandmother. Apparently, I got a lot of tea stuff that year. It’s my favorite cup to use when I’m having some tea on my own.

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Weekly Tea Ritual: Week One

I’ve decided I want to take some time to slow down and do something deliberate at least once a week. I’m blatantly stealing Milkyboots’ weekly cheese ritual, but doing a weekly tea ritual instead.

Tea 02.24.2014

For my first week, I’m having some Tazo Rest tea. I have the tea bags and the ingredients are: rose petals, honeybush, orange peel, lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon peel, natural flavors, licorice root, valerian root, ginger, lavender, lemon essence oil, orange essence oil, and Chinese geranium oil. It’s kinda like drinking flowers, but in the best way possible. Normally, I’d add a bit of sugar to this tea, but I decided to keep it simple tonight.

I’m using a fancypants tea cup and saucer covered in violets that my grandmother bought me during Christmas 2012, along with a little teapot that I think my mom got me a while ago. I don’t normally use a teapot, but I wanted to have a couple of cups of this tea. The coasters are from a set of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room coasters Dalice and I got in Disney World in 2013.

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The Year in Review: 2013

This year, I knit up 12,829.3 yds of yarn. Woo hoo! I think that’s the most I’ve been able to accomplish since 2008. I am so glad I’m back on a knitting kick.

I knit 40 projects (and one substantial swatch) and I’m pretty pleased with that. Half for me and half for other people. Here we go!

2013_me
Row 1: Canephora Socks, Victory Hat, Tiny Hot Dog, Tamborim Hat
Row 2: Trillian, Christmassy Jaywalkers, Slip Stitch Dishtowel, Oana Shawl
Row 3: Sunglasses Case, Adventure KAL Aqua Passage Cowl, Tiny Alien, Cowboy Cowl
Row 4: Lintilla, Audrey Mitts, Single Skein Mitts, Simple Rainbow Socks
Row 5: Evening Stockings for a Young Lady, Color Craving, Winnow Socks, 2013 Squirrel Mittens

2013_others
Row 1: Aran Tree Skirt, Orchid Thief, Burger Mitts, Clockwork
Row 2: Avatrix Baby Hat, Square for Audrey, Cassiope, From Dusk Till Dawn Shawlette
Row 3: Sea Leaves, Ginkgo Shalette, Tiny Witch, Jami’s Birthday Hat
Row 4: Huntress Shawl, Rock Island, Hitchhiker, Baby Chalice Blanket
Row 5: Vice Lace Baby Hat, Pig with Wigs, Bunny

It looks like 2014 is off to a pretty good start, with one FO so far, a blanket over half-done, and a pair of socks started. I also have the first Nelkin M Club project (Magpie) on the needles and will be starting Ysolda Teague’s mystery shawl KAL this week. I have a few UFOs, too, but they are all pretty small and I can pick them up between other projects. I can’t wait to see what I knit this year.

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2014 Knitting (and Other) Plans

Inspired by a few knitting friends, I’m going to lay out my plans for 2014.

Since this summer will be my 10th knitting anniversary, I want to make sure I push myself a bit more this year instead of just doing relatively simple projects that don’t require much attention to sizing. Hopefully, my knitting goals sort of bear that out.

Knitting

  1. Knit myself some sweaters. I haven’t knit one since 2011 and that is just ridiculous. I think part of the problem may be knitting with worsted weight (or thicker) yarn, so I’m going to use thinner yarns. I would like to knit myself at least two sweaters this year, but more would be great, too.
  2. Knit socks. I’ve been doing a pretty good job having socks on the needles, so I’d like to keep up that momentum. I’m aiming for six pairs for myself this year, but will ideally knit more.
  3. Knit all four patterns from the M Club by Laura Nelkin. I joined this club in a fit of “if I’m knitting so much stuff so often, why can’t I join a yarn/pattern club,” but I need to actuallywork on the projects. I think they might end up being good gift knits, so we’ll see what happens with the FOs. The important thing for me is the use the yarn and knit up the patterns as they come up so that it doesn’t become a burden.
  4. Knit blankets. I’d like to knit at least two blankets this year, with at least one of those being for myself. I have one on the needles right now, so that’s underway.
  5. Keep down the number of WIPs. I’m typically pretty good at this, but did cast on for a couple of things last month that died out pretty much instantly. Tsk, tsk.
  6. Knit some Christmas decorations. I already cast on for a little Advent calendar garland, but didn’t finish it for this Christmas. I can definitely get that done in a few days, maybe next November, and have something cute and handmade to hang up for Christmas. I’d also like to buy (or make) a set of boxes or drawers that I can fill with little handknit items to hang on the tree. This yarn, I added some of the tiny toys I’ve made (including a hot dog, an alien, and a stegosaurus) and they looked super cute, so I’d need to knit up some more of those to fill up the calendar.

Yarn

  1. Only buy yarn that will be cast on immediately, or as close to immediately as possible. I’ve actually been doing pretty well at this, but a Knit Picks order kinda messed that up. Ha. If I’m not going to cast on in the next week, I can hold off on buying the yarn. In fact, I can’t even think of any exceptions to this.
  2. Stop buying yarn online. Related to my first yarn-related goal, I definitely need to abstain from buying yarn, especially yarn for multiple projects, online. First off, it’s hard for me to know if I’ll like a yarn if I haven’t knit with it before, so I sometimes end up with yarn that isn’t really what I’m looking for. The other problem is that I feel like I need to order more yarn online, either to get free shipping or justify the shipping I am paying. That does not result in me making good yarn-purchasing decisions.
  3. Obtain more self-striping yarn. If I feel like I Must Buy Yarn, I should definitely just grab a skein of self-striping sock yarn. I’ve knit two pairs of simple (plain stockinette and Jaywalkers) socks, and they’re really satisfying projects that I can work on when I’m distracted or on the bus. I have a enough to make five pairs of socks right now, so I’ll probably cap this at seven self-striping yarns in my stash total at any given time.
  4. Destash some stuff. I have a few larger quantities of yarn that I can’t see myself knitting into a sweater or blanket. I’d like to sell those and use the money to fund buying yarn I actually want to knit into larger projects, especially sweaters.
  5. Work with scraps. Over one-third of the entries in my stash are less than a skein, mostly of fingering- or worsted-weight, left over from various projects. I can definitely use them for small and large toy-like projects, but may need to find something larger (a blanket?) to toss them into.
  6. Do something with my handspun. I need to either knit it or give it away instead of just holding onto it because I made it. Just because I like spinning certain colors or fibers doesn’t mean I’ll like knitting with them.

Spinning

  1. Spin. I know that sounds silly, but I am a very inconsistent spinner; I can go months without touching my wheel. I don’t know if I need to set aside an evening week or have a goal of so many hours per month, but I definitely need to do something.
  2. Whittle down my fiber stash. I don’t have any fiber that I don’t want to spin, so the only way to do this is to work on spinning more often. I have 32 fiber stash entries in Ravelry, so I’d like to spin up at least seven of those. Part of the drive for this is that I may go to Yarn School in the Spring, which would mean coming home with at least five new fibers. That’s really not allowed, since I have three bins that my fiber stash is in and it simply is not allowed to go beyond that size.
  3. Don’t buy fiber. Because seriously.
  4. Use my spindles. I have a really lovely spindle that I probably haven’t touched in at least a year. I need to have it out in a more obvious place so that I can spin on it a bit from time to time. I know I definitely have fiber on it, not to mention the locks one of my other spindles.

Etc.

  1. Make two more quilts. At least. I bought some fabric that I like and think would be great for someone in particular, so that would be one quilt. I’d also like to buy some small-scale floral prints to make myself a simple, pretty quilt for my bed.
  2. Sew a small project or two. Maybe just pillowcases. We’ll see.
  3. Publish a knitting pattern. I have a couple of ideas rattling around that I’d like to work on this year. One, in particular, could be done for spring or summer.

Ah! So many things I want to do! Luckily, they’re mostly continuing good habits or trying to establish new ones. I have an entire year ahead of me, so I can get a ton accomplished.

I’m hoping to have up a recap of 2013 in the next few days!

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Christmas 2013: Yellow and Gray

Xmas yellow and gray pile

For some reason, all of the gifts I knit for my family for Christmas this year ended up being yellow and/or gray.

Xmas yellow and gray lineup

I’ve written about some of these already, but they are (from left to right), From Dusk Till Dawn Shawlette, Cassiope, Clockwork, Sea Leaves, and Orchid Thief.

Xmas yellow and gray stack closeup

And here are just a few more random pictures…

Xmas yellow and gray fan 2

Xmas yellow and gray stack

Xmas yellow and gray stack

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Aran Tree Skirt

Aran tree skirt detail

Pattern: Aran Tree Skirt by Teva Durham (ravlink) from Handknit Holidays: Knitting Year-Round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice
Yarn: 1944 yds Knit Picks Bare – Peruvian Highland Wool Bulky Weight; 325 yds Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky in Silver
Needles: US 15
Size: 55″ diameter
Started: 08.25.2013
Finished: 11.24.2013

Aran tree skirt: buttoned

What can I say about this one? I got Handknit Holidays for Christmas pretty soon after I started knitting and wanted to make it for my mom, who seriously decorates for Christmas every year. I finally decided to go ahead and do it this year. It took about three months of me working pretty consistently on it to finish it up. Knitting on US 15s with bulky yarn held double while also doing intarsia for the braided trim wasn’t the absolute most enjoyable thing in the world, but I did enjoy the ridiculous number of different cables that are part of the pattern. I made a few changes to the version I had and I love how it came out.

Aran tree skirt: big cable

As far as changes, I followed the lead of a few of the projects on Ravelry and knit the full 3/2 cable at the end of row 27 instead of doing a short row in the middle of it. Also, as other folks have mentioned, I did a back cable instead of a front cable on sts 14-19 on row 1.

Aran tree skirt

To get as much of a complete circle as possible, I knit 11 full repeats and 38 rows of a 12th. I bound off purlwise, and blocked the skirt lightly just to open it up a little bit. I pinned the center and then worked my way out, spraying the tree skirt with water as I went.

Aran tree skirt: Santa button

I did not do the braided cable up the sides of the tree skirt. Instead, I did a plain crochet chain to clean it up a bit and make buttonholes. I used six cream-colored buttons on the main part of the skirt and a Santa Claus button to close off the trim. (I had a pretty classy, shiny, medium gray button that I was also considering for the final button, but decided to go with something more cutesy.)

Aran tree skirt: cable and trim

Check out that intarsia!

My Ravelry entry is littered with a ton more pictures, including progress shots that I took after each wedge I completed. I was pretty obsessed about this as I knit it, which was probably a good thing, since I wanted to have it finished (including blocking it, having it actually dry, and buttons sewn on) in time to give it to my mom when I saw her on Thanksgiving so that it could be out for as much of the season as possible. I’m happy to say that I made that deadline and my mom loved it.

Aran tree skirt - no buttons

This tree skirt is by far the most impressive thing I’ve knit so far. After spending three months with it, it feels a bit odd not to have it to work on anymore. I’m trying to substitute some blanket knitting, but it isn’t the same. This may be the first thing I actually miss working on.

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