Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where are they now? - 2KCBWDAY4


Whatever happened to your __________? Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

Ooh, this is challenging. I could talk about some of the duds I've made, but I don't have pictures of most of those. For example, I made a Brea Bag for a good friend, B, and it turned out awful. I was going on a trip to visit B (and her sister A) and attend a conference, and I made a clutch for A, but didn't finish B's bag, so I brought it with me and finished it while I was there. Point of that ridiculous sentence is that I couldn't not give it to B when it was finished, because she'd seen it in progress, and her sister got a handknit as well. If it had been a one-off present for someone else that they hadn't seen beforehand, I would have frogged it and made something completely different. It's such a cute pattern, but my yarn choice wasn't great and I couldn't find a perfect handle, so I knit one, which was a bad idea. I have no idea where that bag is now, but hopefully it's not being seen regularly.

Or I could talk about shawls. I love shawls. They're beautiful, and a wonderful chance to use some of my fancy sock yarn. I've made some that turned out wonderful:

Moss & Ferns Shawl
The Good Doctor

Rosalie Multnomah
Rosalie Multnomah

Problem is, I almost never wear them. Oops. It's really only cold enough for wraps for a few months per year, and even then I feel awkward in them. I usually wear 'em bandanna style, with the point in the front and the ends wrapped around back and then tucked under the point. I can't do the "over the shoulders" look at all, not without feeling like a grandmother. But, since they are lovely, I have them on display in the apartment year-round, along with all my scarves.

What gets worn most often? The basics. My charcoal gray alpaca Odessa, black alpaca Multi-Directional Scarf, off-white wool scarf, and most of my blue socks. Both of my Clapotis scarves (purple and navy) get worn all the time. They are my default vacation scarves, because they can double as wraps if I'm cold and don't care about looking like a grandmother. My Sleekit Mitts live in my backpack and get worn in my cold office. As much as I love to buy and knit with bright colors, it's the sedate ones that get worn most often. Interesting!

One thing I love very much is when folks who have received non-dud handknits from me send photos of the items in use. This is especially great for baby knits, because pictures that include handknits and wee humans are the best!

I could go on more, but I am almost finished with my big swap project, and I'd love to finish it up this evening!  It will, I hope, be worn often by its recipient.

What handknit do you use most often?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches - 2KCBWDAY3


How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

For as much of an organization nut as I am, my yarn wrangling is not nearly as organized as it could/should be. Most of my stash is stored in the office closet in bins: wool & wool blends, cotton & cotton blends, nice synthetics, less nice synthetics (I should just give that whole box away 'cause I'm never going to knit it up), and two small bins of fancy sock yarn. The super fancy sock yarn (Fresh From the Cauldron, Sunshine, Knitting Asylum, etc.) lives in a basket on display in the living room, so it can be admired as it waits its turn to be knit up. (I feel like this is a trick to get knitters worldwide to tell where their stash is, so that scores of yarn burglars can make a bunch of efficient hits in the upcoming weeks.) I go through my stash about once per year to see if that organization system still makes sense and remind myself of what I have. I'd love to add another level or two to the system (yarn weight, color, washability, etc.), but I can't quite figure out a good way to implement that without buying some new bins or shelving, and I'd rather spend any extra money I have on yarn.

If I haven't raved about it enough so far this week, another great organizational tool is Ravelry. I am not dedicated enough to have input my entire stash (although I do keep a mostly-up-to-date spreadsheet of my stash for insurance purposes), but I have input most of my hand-dyed yarns and essentially all of my projects. Since projects are linked to their source patterns (if a pattern was used) and component yarns, it is relatively easy to look up details after the fact, especially things like the care instructions for the yarn. I also try to note any modifications that I made or things I would do differently in the project notes section so I have a reference for later. I think that if it weren't for Rav I would have one of those wonderful project journals with a page for each project, a sample of the yarn used, etc., but it's so much more useful to keep everything online. I have whipped out my phone many a time in a yarn store to check on something or other. (And I am very impatiently awaiting the launch of the Rav mobile site.)

The one "analog" organizing tool I have is a binder filled with most of the labels of yarns I have used. Again they are organized by fiber content, and provide a reference for information like care instructions when the Rav database is incomplete (or, Heaven forbid, down!). The plastic sheets that store the labels are actually designed for baseball cards, but are conveniently the perfect size for yarn labels as well. This is a crummy webcam shot from awhile ago, but you can get the idea:
There are a few yarns I have used so often (and which have big labels instead of small tags) that they have their own separate baggies: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride & Cotton Fleece, Bernat Cotton Tots, and Caron Simply Soft.

So that's my organizational scheme. How do you keep your fiber crafting sorted?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skill +1UP - 2KCBWDAY2

First of all, let's get this out of the way:
1UP! Yes!

Now on to the actual post.

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet?

Answering this question would be very difficult without Ravelry's notebook feature. It's so great to have a record of (almost) all of my projects, and the ability to sort them by name, date, happiness level, etc. It's less great to be confronted with the fact that I haven't actually learned any significant new skills in the last year. Oops. I did learn a new way to do long tail cast-on that ensures you won't run out of yarn (video of the technique) which can be adapted into a super easy provisional cast on (video of that). I used the double-ball long tail for one of my current swap projects, which involved casting on 320 way I could have guesstimated the right amount of yarn for that.

The last significant skill I learned was how to do toe-up socks. Again, thank you Rav for letting me know I learned that in September of 2009, picked those socks back up again in September of 2010, and recently finished the first of the pair. Slow. I haz it.

Anastasia Socks

On the first sock I used DPNs to do Judy's Magic Cast-On. Big mistake! It took me about eight times to get past the first row, because it was so hard to knit into the cast-on row.  In December, I did JMCO with Magic Loop on the Kindle covers I made for Christmas and it was significantly easier!

(Pretend there is a picture of the first finished sock here. This morning when I drafted this post (during my new Writing Time, 8:00AM-8:30AM) I had grand plans to get home around 6:30PM and take advantage of DST to do a mini-photoshoot. It's raining, I haven't left the office yet, and I've had some last-minute evening plans materialize, so we're all going to use our imaginations.)

Now that I've freed up the one circ I have that can be used to Magic Loop socks by finishing my Alice's Charade socks, I can get right on to casting on the second Anastasia. After I finish my swap projects and all the knitting that I've promised to other people. Here's today's betting item: can I finish the second sock, and thus the entire pair, by September 2011?

I'm deciding not to beat myself up over not learning anything new in the past year. My research has done nothing but get more interesting and time-consuming, and is taking almost all of my brain power. So I'm churning out a lot of basic lace, easily-memorizable patterns, simple socks, etc. They may be simple, but they are nice, and the gifts (of which there have been many) are knit with love. That's what matters.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns - 2KCBWDAY1


Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash, or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Yarn #1: Anything from Fresh From the Cauldron
Jen's yarns are stunning. The colors are striking, the yarn bases are wonderful, and the customer service from Jen is excellent. I'm so glad that I bought FFtC yarn in large quantities when I could, because it is pretty near impossible to come by now. That's why stashing is important, friends! Buy it while you can!
FFtC Stash

Yarn #2: Knit Picks Swish Worsted
This is an incredible workhorse yarn. It's soft, superwash, 100% wool, which makes it ideal for babies/kids. It comes in approximately 8 zillion colors, and it's very affordable. I particularly like to use it for blankets:

Pinwheel Blanket

Coco's Blanket

(Please feel free to take bets on whether I can keep this up for a full week. I'm trying to establish a "writing every day" habit for school, and I figured that starting with blogging every day for a week might be easier than starting with the hardcore science. We'll see!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

FO: Alice's Charade

Another FO to share! (Yay for Daylight Savings Time and evening sun!)

Alice's Charade
Pattern: Charade by Sandra Park (Free on Rav)
Yarn: Fresh From the Cauldron's Alice Cullen
Ravelry Project Page

I love these socks, even though they took nearly a year(!) to finish. My first socks on Magic Loop. I like the technique on larger size needles, and it's okay for socks, but I think I still prefer DPNs. It's good to have at least one sock-size needle that's long enough for ML, though. It is much easier to do Judy's Magic Cast-On on ML than DPNs. (Trust me, I've tried both ways!)

Alice's Charade

I added two extra pattern repeats to these socks (for a total of 72 sts cast on) because my last Charade socks, knit exactly to the pattern, were a wee bit too small. They fit, but they are tight. These are much better, although I have the same problem I often have with socks, which is that if they are big enough to fit over my tall heels, they are too wide around my skinny chicken ankles. This pattern isn't stretchy enough to be snug around the ankles, so there is some bunching, but it's not too bad.

Alice's Charade

I knew that Alice (the fashion diva of the Cullen Clan, for those who aren't Twilight fans) required a bit of a fancy pattern, both based on the character and the colorway, but simultaneously one that wouldn't overwhelm the colors of the yarn. I think this was perfect for her!

I tried to pay homage to one of my favorite knit bloggers, Threadpanda, with a few pictures of these socks being modeled with black heels. Panda did it with her Alice socks (same yarn, different pattern), and they look splendid:

(photo by Threadpanda, used with permission)

I own a ridiculous amount of black heels, so I was sure I could make it work with at least one pair. Turns out no. One pair was kind of okay, but I couldn't get a good pic. I have a knitting friend coming to visit in a few weeks though, and maybe between the two of us we can make something work!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FO: Weasley Ribbon

Remember the Lace Ribbon Scarf that I wasn't enjoying knitting? I will say that it got somewhat better after I memorized the pattern, but it was still never a thoroughly enjoyable knit. Now that it is finished, however, it is a thoroughly enjoyable FO!

Weasley Ribbon

I love it so much!

Weasley Ribbon
Rav Project Page

The colors are All Wrong For Spring, but I've been wearing it anyways. It's so nice when something turns out exactly as desired, isn't it?

In other news, I joined my first Odd Ducks Swap on Ravelry, themed around my latest obsession, Doctor Who. Expect some Who Knits in the next month or so, after I finish them and mail 'em off to my spoilee!