Friday, April 01, 2016

First Quarter 2016 Intentions and Goals Update

Today is April 1, the first day of the second quarter of 2016.  Back in early January I posted a list of Crafting Intentions for 2016.  Now that we're an entire quarter of the way through the year (you are welcome, those of you that hadn't realized that yet) I thought I'd pause a moment and reflect on where I am now, and where I thought I wanted to go.

So.  On January 3rd I said:

In 2016, I would like to complete greater than 10,000 yards of knitting and crochet.  For context, in 2014 I hit 10,751.  2015's total hit a nice 10,415.... So essentially my goal is to carry on grooving.

I've completed 2,721 yards during Q1, so I am exactly on target to hit 10K.  In fact, I may well exceed this goal if my plans to complete the two afghans I have in progress pan out.  More on that in a bit.  If you have a Ravelry account, my completed 2016 projects can be found here.
2016 Q1 Projects
In 2016, I intend to complete 16 pairs of socks.... Socks that were on the needles in 2015 count, so long as they are finished in 2016. 

First off, FLAG ON THE PLAY.  That should have said "16 socks" not "16 pairs of socks."  Hahaha, whoops.   That said, I'm pretty much a sock star these days, and am sitting pretty on 8 of 16 socks complete for the year.  At that rate, 16 pairs isn't out of reach ... but my goal is still 16 socks.   Let's not get crazy.

So what? I'm still a sock star, I got my sock moves. 
I've picked my Monkeys back up (remember my Monkeys?  Yeah, I almost didn't either.) I cast them on last year on March 1 as part of my annual "HAHAHA FEBRUARY IS OVER" Festival. (You'll note I've already finished the pair of socks that I cast on March 1, 2016.  These are from 2015).  And then not a lot happened after that.  I'm happy to report though that I'm now well on my way to having sock number 1 finished.

Product Placement:  Erin Lane Bag!
All in all, I am in good shape to hit my 16 sock goal.

In 2016, I will limit my yarn purchases to festivals, shows, and the two yarn clubs I'm currently enrolled in. I've done a great deal of yarn acquisition in the past year and a half.  And I ain't even sorry.  But I'd like to slow down and enjoy some of the really excellent yarns I currently own. 

See, now, about that...

Here's the thing, this kind of arbitrary restriction is really grinding my gears.  I have the urge to go buy stuff I don't really want just because I said I wasn't going to.  This is dumb.  (Apparently I am better at making goals around what I WILL do rather than what I WON'T do.  I should probably make a note of that somewhere).

Anyway, with two notable exceptions, I have stuck with this plan so far.  The two exceptions being the Suburban Prairie kit that the Prairie Girls Podcast and the Suburban Stitcher collaborated on, and yarn for two shawls that I picked up at the Haus of Yarn when I took Rhiannon up there for her birthday.

And I'm not even sorry.

Especially about the kit.  Would you be sorry about this?

Yeah, me neither.

So anyway, here's what we're going to do.  We're going to modify this goal a bit.  What I was really getting after was intentional stash acquisition, instead of willy-nilly, shopping for the sake of shopping, random acquisition.

In that spirit, my modified goal is:   I have free reign to go as amok as I please at fiber festivals and shows, as was originally stated.  Jess, Koren, and I are going to go Yarny Tonkin' in Nashville at some point.   I am still in two clubs.  

All of that is the same as the original goal.   Here's the modified bit:

Outside of the above parameters, I will only buy yarn if it is for a specific project that I will be casting on immediately, and I do not have the right yarn in stash to do the job.

So the point here is that I am not going to be randomly acquiring the odd bits and bobs here and there that I'll stuff into my stash and ignore for two years.  THAT is the behavior that I'd like to change.

I want to buy yarn that I love, and then knit the yarn into projects that I love, that I will then use and wear (and continue to love).  That's the end goal.

And last, but not least (I know, this post is ridiculously long.  If you're still reading, I love you).

In 2016, I will finish my three oldest, biggest, or oldest AND biggest works in progress: Circles to Squares Afghan, Cosy Afghan, and Knitting in Red.

I'm making progress on this -- I've only got one square left on the Circles to Squares afghan and then it's time to seam.  I haven't really done much with the other two yet this year.  I am planning to do a big push on all three during the summer so I can log TONS of meters for Stash Dash.

Pile o' Squares
So that's my update.  On track and going strong on 3 out of 4 goals, and I'm choosing to modify the 4th goal to better suit my needs and whims.

How are your 2016 Goals and Intentions treating you?  Are you correcting your course mid-year? Holding steady? Have you already forgotten whatever it was anyway?  Do you even do yearly intentions?

Friday, March 04, 2016

FO: Post-Apocalyptic Valentine's Day Socks

As previously reported, I finished up a pair of socks in February.  These are my "Post-Apocalyptic Valentine's Day" socks.

I started out calling them "Zombody Loves You" (except with "less than 3" in place of Loves) but the "less than" symbol kept freaking out formatting on the interwebs and the whole "zombody" thing was already taken by the lovely Desert Vista Dyeworks.  I didn't want to confuse the issue, since the yarn is not DVD, but is instead from Knotty and Color.  The colorway is "Ink and Dagger" and was billed, if I remember correctly, as a Halloween sock yarn.  So I'm using them for Valentine's Day.  Obvs.

I still rather regret the decision not to do a "welt" lace pattern and call them "Love Hurts."  Alas.   And speaking of regrets, I also rather wish I'd chosen a different heel treatment.  I love a good heel flap and gusset arrangement -- and even with self-striping yarn sometimes it works out just fine.  But this yarn is more self ... spiraling.  Yes, it spirals, rather than stripes, and the increased stitches for the gusset jacked it all to hell and back.

Mistakes? I've made a few...
It's weird, and only the fact that I was knitting on a deadline and am fundamentally lazy saved them.  It kind of bugs me, but I am just telling myself that hardly any apocalypse is tidy, and of course they're a bit wonky.  What else should I expect?   (Answer:  I should expect to have enough experience to know to do an afterthought heel.)

Anyway, they're done and they'll be a cute addition to my sock drawer.

There's not much else to say about these, save that I can really tell I'm starting to get old lady eyes.  Being able to see when to purl and when to knit on the black bits was harder than it should have been.  While I have all kinds of plans to grow old gracefully (for everything from spiritual to political reasons), I gotta say, not loving the failing eyesight.

Project Notes

Pattern: Vanilla Latte Socks by Virginia Rose-Jeanes
Yarn:  Knotty and Color Hardcore Sock in the "Ink and Dagger" colorway
Total Yardage: 277.8 yards
Needles:  US 1.5 (2.5mm) 5in" Knitter's Pride DPNs
Started:  January 24, 2016
Completed:  February 24, 2016
Ravelry Project Page: here

#socktwatch 16: Holding steady at 5 of 16 socks completed.

Monday, February 29, 2016

February is for Finishing 2016 Report

Good afternoon, finishing fans!   February is winding down, and so is my finishing extravaganza. The extra day we squeezed out of the calendar certainly helped, as I spent the morning finishing a sock and casting on its mate.

I posted a couple of quick wins early in the month, as you'll remember.  My Halloween socks were an easy win, followed by Laurelhurst, that cute and simple little fair-isle number for 25,000 Tuques.  

After I got those knocked out, my strategy changed a little.  If I were playing along the way I have in years past, I probably would have targeted my Hitchhiker next, and knocked it out of the park.

I did work on it some, when everything else was on my nerves, and only garter stitch would do. There's maybe six more teeth than there were on January 31, so we'll call it progress.

But mostly I worked on socks for my Order Mission and on Lilli Pilli for my Potions O.W.L.

On February 1, I had less than five inches of cuff on the first sock in my Post-Apocalyptic Valentine's Day socks.  

I worked on them everywhere from work to pedicure chairs to cozied up on my couch to the Atlanta airport.  I finished them up on February 24, exactly one month after I cast them on.  I have good intentions about doing a proper FO post for them later.  We'll see how that pans out.

Anyway, those socks where my "purse knitting" and the other pair, Crocus vernus by Hunter Hammerstein are my "mild to moderate concentration required knitting."  My strategy was to have one relatively simple pair and one more complicated pair going.  This was a good strategy.  Right up until I finished the simple pair.

The good news is that as of this morning, I have one sock of this pair done as well.   These are pretty enough that I think they warrant a second, closer look.

Isn't that lovely?  I've the second sock cast on, and I'm a repeat into the leg.  

For those of you playing along at home, we're sitting pretty on 5 of 16 socks done for the year.  And it's not even March yet.  #sockwatch16

When I'd had enough of socks, I switched gears and worked on my Circles to Squares afghan.  The Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup doesn't care that it's February, or that I'm meant to be finishing.  I'm still supposed to turn in a few classes.   But don't fret!  Blanket squares totally count for classes, so I could make a few more blocks for my afghan, honor February is for Finishing by working on an old WIP, and get my classes taken care of.  (Yes, I know this is all mildly ridiculous.  But I'm getting stuff done, so whatever.)

Two more of the tiny squares, and one more big one, and I'll be ready to start seaming.  In the spirit of continued gamification, I'm aiming to finish the blanket during Stash Dash this summer.

The rest of my February was spent in the pleasant company of Lilli Pilli.   I was about half done the lace when February started.

When the picture on the right was taken I had about 75 of 100 garter stripes done.  I'm closer to 85 now.  Once I'm done with the stripes, there's another small lace section and I'll be done.  It's going to be humongous, and completely awesome.  I'm really excited to see it blocked.

So, of the eleven projects I had on the needles at the beginning of February, I've finished three.  I'll have two more done within the next few weeks, and then I'll be down to six.

I'm already making plans (of course) for what to cast on next.  I'll need some more socks for my purse, and probably another shawl or cowl, because I have a sickness and must be stopped.  I'm also planning to haul my Monkeys out of retirement and get them finished up.

How did your February go?  I know some of you out there were able to knock several things off of your lists.

Friday, February 05, 2016

FO: Laurelhurst for 25000 Tuques

My second February is for Finishing success is the Laurelhurst hat that I'm knitting for the 25000 Tuques project (click through for more information).   I'll send this one along with the Barley I knit in January.  

Laurelhurst is quick, cute, and has just enough going on to keep it interesting.  In other words it's practically perfect.

I have an embarrassment of Wool of the Andes in my stash.  Leftover bits and bobs from various projects (the Fourth Doctor Scarf being chief amongst them), and a few odd balls here and there.

This hat is pretty much perfect for that kind of situation.   It took the better part of a full skein of the Grey, and a wee smidge of the pink, and that's yarn well used and out of my stash.  

Project Notes

Yarn:  Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Dove Heather and Pink Posy Heather
Total Yardage: 121 yards
Needles:  US 6 (4.0 mm) and US 7 (4.5 mm)
Started: January 17, 2016
Completed: February 3, 2016 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

FO: That Orange Stripe Tho Socks

My first FO of February was pretty much a cheat, but I wanted to have something ready to go to turn in for Detention in the HP House Cup see, and ... well let's just say leaving this pair of socks all done save kitchenering the second toe made a lot of sense in light of imaginary internet points.

So anyway, I got home from work last night, went for a walk, had some dinner, and basically did half a billion things before I finally got to what I really wanted to be doing -- finishing up these socks.   Eight quick stitches grafted, some ends tucked in, and Bob's yer uncle:  SOCKS!

It was too dark to get any kind of decent picture last night, so I took them to the office to try to get better pictures there today (a frequent problem I have in the winter -- I work in a different city and it's often mostly dark when I leave and mostly dark when I get home again.  Lousy for taking pictures of hand-knits).   Anyway, our VP of Human Resources is visiting one of our other locations, so I snuck into his office and took pictures in there.  Please note that by "snuck" I mean I announced, "I'm gonna go take pictures of my new socks in TJ's office."  Sneaking:  I'm doin' it right.

I still didn't manage to get perfect pictures -- but these are better than the ones I took last night, so.

There is a part of me that felt a little silly working on Halloween socks in January, but frankly I'd feel sillier having a pair of vanilla socks on the needles for over a year because they were "out of season." Besides, this way they'll be ready to wear whenever I decide I want to.

After all, orange never goes out of season.

Project Notes

Pattern: My basic, vanilla socks with an OMG Heel by Megan Williams
Yarn:  Color Wheel Tuff Sock in the "Hoot" colorway
Total Yardage: 280 yards
Needles:  US 1.5 (2.5 mm)
Started: October 2, 2015
Completed: February 1, 2016

A note about the heel -- I decided to try the OMG Heel, as I'm experimenting with different options for self-striping yarns.  I'd used a modified toe-up version in my Mystik Spiral Socks by Josh Ryks, but I hadn't ever done it cuff down.  Overall I liked them, but need to find a tidier way to work the join once you start knitting across the instep again -- a pretty much constant sock knitting woe.

sockwatch16: 2/16

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Annual Airing of the WIP Pile: February is for Finishing 2016

I present to you a listing, by cast on date (oldest to newest), of my current works in progress.  

1.  Knitting in Red - March 17, 2012.  I've started working on this again -- just a row or two here and there.  I have an eye towards finishing this up during Stash Dash this summer.  I'll may work on it a bit during February, but I won't be pushing to finish it this month.

2. Circles to Squares Afghan - July 9, 2013.  One of the great things about the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup is that you can turn in individual blanket squares for classes.  I've just got one more of the big squares and a handful of the little ones left and it'll be ready to assemble.

3. Cosy Stripe Afghan - January 1, 2015.  I'm farther along than this picture would have you believe -- just shy of  50%.  I am also targeting this one to finish during Stash Dash.

4. Monkey - March 2, 2015.  I don't know why I haven't finished these. I don't have a good reason, lest it be that starting each DPN with purl stitches is a righteous pain in my hind-end.  This is the first sock in this pair. 

5. Serra - March 24, 2015.  This is the only sweater I have on the needles right now.  It's a cute, top-down affair with contiguous set-in sleeves.

6.  Life, the Universe, and Everything - August 1, 2015.  I cast this Hitchhiker on during my birthday month last year when I turned 42.  I have two goals for this: that it have exactly 42 teeth, and that I finish it by my 43rd birthday.

7. That Orange Stripe Tho - October 2, 2015.  These are all done save the last kitchener.  I'll wrap these up and turn them in for Detention tomorrow.

8. For the Potions Master - January 1, 2016.  I am really digging the way the colors are playing together in this wrap.  I'm breaking my rule just a little bit about knitting things I know I'll wear (I mean, I think I'll wear it ... ) but this is a bit of a process knit.  It may end up being a little big to wear easily, but I plan to give it the old college try.   This has to be done by March 31, so I'll be spending a fair chunk of my February knitting time on it.

9. Laurelhurst - January 17, 2016.  I'm making this for 25000 Tuques.  I plan to finish this one up pretty quickly so we can get them mailed off.

10. Zombody Loves You - January 24, 2016.  Also for the House Cup, like Lilli Pilli (that's "For the Potions Master" above) it has a March deadline.  I'm planning to finish these in February too.

11. Crocus vernus Socks - January 24, 2016.  I'd love to also finish this pair in February -- but I recognize that is a stretch goal.  I aim to at least finish the first sock.

And there you have it -- eleven projects, nine of which were cast on during 2015.  I feel good about my standings.

My game plan going in is to finish the Halloween Socks, Laurelhurst, and the Zombody Loves You Valentines socks.  I'm also going to get a fair stretch further into Lilli Pilli -- say, 70% or so, and finish at least one Crocus vernus sock.  I'll also make one or two more squares for the Circles to Squares Afghan and turn them in for points in the House Cup.

That sounds a trifle ambitious, doesn't it?  Well, in any case, I'll be ending the month with more finished objects than I started -- and ultimately that's the point.

February is for Finishing 2016: 10th Anniversary Addition

February is nigh, and here at chez woolly that means Finishing.

A quick perusal of the archives reveals that I started observing February is for Finishing in 2006 -- so that's ten years of dedicating at least one month out of any given twelve to wrestling with an unruly WIP-pile.

So unruly
During that time my relationship with knitting has deepened and grown.  At some point, probably in the past two or three years, I became a Knitter-with-a-capital-K.    I've also undergone some philosophical changes in how I choose to respond emotionally to my unfinished projects -- particularly the number thereof.   There's no need to retread old ground, as you've heard me talk about this before.

The point is, I don't really care how many projects I have on the needles, or even particularly how old they are (though a project does reach a certain age where if it continues to stubbornly remain unfinished, one must begin to ask the hard questions.)  

What I do care about is enjoying the process of creating beautiful things, while doing my best work.

So why still do "February is for Finishing"?

I'm not gonna lie, part of it is TRADITION! (Cue rooftop violinist here). But that's not the only reason.  I think that the act of taking stock and giving each of your unfinished projects a good, hard look is useful.  Sometimes you need a reason to decide to finish something.  Sometimes you need a reason to decide that you are NEVER GOING TO, and that's okay.  You can frog it (or in extreme cases just fling it).

So, if you're into gamification, or just like alliteration, I invite you to join me for a rousing month of FINISHING ALL THE THINGS.

The rules are simple:
  1. Take stock of all of your unfinished projects. If you blog, that'd be a swell place to put your list. I also recommend pattern pages on Ravelry, but I have a bias towards keeping accurate project records.  YMMV.
  2. Give each project a good, long stare.  Why isn't it finished?  Because you just cast it on a week ago?  No worries then.   Because you jacked up the cable two months ago and haven't been able to stomach fixing it?  That's harder, but you can work with that.  Because you have come to loathe it with the fiery passion of a thousand dying suns?  You may need to take drastic, final action.
  3. Create a strategy.  What are you going to target to finish this year?  Will you do the easy things first and create a snowball effect, ala Dave Ramsay?  Or will you just pick one really challenging project and focus on it for the month?  What else do you have going on in February that will aid, abet, or interfere with your finishing plans?  
  4. Orient yourself.  Go through each project that you won't be frogging and figure out precisely where you are in the pattern.  Note if there are any mistakes you need to fix before moving on.  I like to leave myself a post-it note directly on the pattern.  The idea is that there should be no impediment to picking the project up and getting going.
  5. Make sure you know where all of your tools are.  If you raided the project and stole it's needles to cast on something else (don't even lie and pretend you've never done that), you'll need to hunt them down and make them available again.
  6. Starting February 1st knit, crochet, weave, spin, or otherwise craft like the wind!
  7. Take a moment to be smug that this February has an entire extra day in it.
Optional Alternate Rules:
  1. March is for Making Mates rule: if you have socks, mittens, or other things that traditionally come in pairs on the needles, you may elect to only finish the one that's already been cast on,  You can then set the project aside until March, which is for Making Mates.
  2. Don't cast anything on during February (this used to be one of the main rules, but between things like Winter Olympics, and other knitting games or challenges, sometimes a body just has to cast something on in February.)  
I'll be back with my list of projects in a separate post, as this has surely gone on long enough.

Who's with me?  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sockwatch '16

As you'll no doubt remember, one of the goals I set for myself is to complete 16 socks in 2016 (not pairs of socks... I'm not a mad-woman, just sixteen socks.  They don't even have to all have mates.)

There are 52 weeks in the year, and divide that by 16 socks you get...

pulls out calculator app on computer, sticks tongue out while poking the buttons

... 3.25.  So figure I knit one sock every three weeks, I'm golden.

And when I put it like that it sounds like crazy talk.  But I'll remind you that I knit 7 pairs of socks in 2015 without particularly trying.  I also once knit 4.5 socks in one memorable February.

It's a stretch goal, is what I'm saying.  But achievable.  My good sense and the need to not attract public humiliation and a good sound smiting from the Knitting Goddess will keep me from declaring it "a piece of cake" or "no problem," but I'm cautiously optimistic.

It helps that I'm all but a kitchener away from having 2 socks done already.

Matchy-matchy Achievement:  Unlocked!
And since I knew that sock knitting was a big part of my 2016 Knitting Goals, I very cleverly (I hope) proposed two pairs of socks as part of my "Order Mission" in the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup.   A Mission should represent 6-8 weeks worth of work, and we got the green light to cast on Sunday, January 24.

I'm knitting Crocus vernus Socks by Hunter Hammerstein.  These are from her Knitter's Curiousity Cabinet, Vol. 1 collection.  It's a series of sock patterns that are based on drawings of various botanical subjects.  Lovely.  I'll be knitting more from this book, I think.

I had trouble getting a color accurate picture of these -- the yarn is slightly less variegated appearing in person.  Overall I'm really pleased with how they're coming along.

I've also started what I'm calling my Zombody Loves You socks.  I'm using the Vanilla Latte Socks pattern by Virginia Rose-Jeanes.  The yarn has a spiraling effect that is presenting as almost self-striping.  They are my post-apocalyptic Valentine's Day socks.

I came really close to knitting these in a traditional "welt" pattern and calling them "Love Hurts" because I think I'm funny.

I went ahead and cast both pairs on at once because the Crocus vernus are too involved for good purse knitting, and sometimes a girl just needs to knit something she doesn't really have to think about.

These two pair both have to be done by March 20, or I won't get my invisible internet points (internet points are remarkably motivating, turns out.)

And of course, I do still have the first sock of a pair of Monkeys on the needles.  They'll get their turn too.  Here's a picture I took last October, which is the last time I actually laid hands on them.  

#sockwatch16 count: 1/16 ... for now.