Thursday, February 01, 2018

February is for Finishing Project List 2018

It's February, and here at chez woolly February means Finishing.   We've been trotting out our works in progress, cataloging them, and either frogging, flinging, or finishing them during this fine alliterative month since 2006.   You'll pleased to know that nothing on this year's project list first made an appearance on that initial offering

Point of fact, much like last year, this year's list is comprised of almost entirely new projects.  The only exception (the repeat offender, if you will) is my UFO sock blanket, and I'm only listing that out of a sense of completeness.  It doesn't properly count, but it's not done, so there you go.

In any case, here's this year's list, in order from oldest to newest.  (Links go to my Ravelry project page.)

1.  Hogwarts Studies Blanket, cast on May 16, 2016.  This friend has no specific end date in mind.  I'm knitting each square to turn in to the Hogwarts Knit and Crochet House Cup (hence "Hogwarts Studies blanket").  I'm about 20% done, based on a 12x18 square lap blanket, but I reserve the right to keep going when I get there if that doesn't feel big enough.   In terms of my over all projects-on-the-go numbers, I'm thinking of each square as a mini-project.  If there are no live stitches in this sucker, it doesn't count.  (Yes, that is a rationalization. No, I don't care.  My WIP-pile, my rules.)

2. Frisson, cast on June 23, 2017.   This is an assymetrical shawl, similar to the Hitchhiker.  I started it for the Colors of Fall knitalong (a KAL that is honored more in the breach than in the observance in these parts.  I'm better at casting on for this KAL than I am at finishing it in a timely manner).  I'm most of the way done, and plan to finish it this February.

3.  Caramel, cast on August 2, 2017.   I was inspired to make this sweater by my good friend Cris.  It's a top-down raglan, designed by Isabell Kraemer, knit out of Miss Babs Yowz on US 6 needles.  I'm mostly working on it during break months.  Note to self:  If you are active in the House Cup, any sweater not knit for points is likely to be neglected.  It looks a bit like a great lump right now, as I haven't quite split for the sleeves. I think it's going to be lovely, if I'd just get on with it.

4. ROYGBV, cast on August 5, 2017.  I'm winging the pattern on these toe-up socks.  My intention is to knit a full rainbow for each sock, which means I'm moving into high-calf/knee high territory.  Happily, toe-up means "try it on as you go" so I can add stitches here and there as I need to.  Maybe I should write down what I'm doing so the second sock is something like the first... hmm..  The yarn is Wandering Wool North Country Sock in the aptly named "Rainbow" colorway.

5. Charms OWL: Torquata, cast on January 1, 2018.   I've had Torquata in my queue or a couple of years -- in fact I bought the kit for it at SSK in 2016 (it's Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply).  I'm knitting it as my Charms OWL for the House Cup, so it's due by March 31.  I don't anticipate finishing it in February, but it's going to get a chunk of my attention for sure, so that I'm on track to finish in March.

6. Big Magic, cast on January 1, 2018.   This Desert Vista Dyeworks yarn was inspired by the book cover for Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic."  I'm knitting these socks with the intention of fostering and nurturing my creativity.   They are also a test knit for a friend who's invented a very cool new way to knit a heel.  I'm looking forward to finishing these.  (Also check out that Erin Lane bag -- I love a good project to project bag match, and this one is so good it's almost spooky).

7.  Dappled Sunlight, cast on January 21, 2018.  This will be my Order Mission for the House Cup (Order Missions are 6-8 weeks of anticipated work), so like Torquata, I'll be working on this in February, but won't necessarily finish it.  I'm not fussed one way or the other, so long as it's done by mid-March in time to get my points.   I'm knitting it out of Cloudborn Fibers Highland Fingering.  It's a Craftsy exclusive yarn, and I pretty much love it.  It's very smooshy, and lovely.

So there you have it!  Seven things (six if you don't count the one that doesn't count).  One I've targeted to finish for sure (Frisson), and the rest we'll just see.  I anticipate finishing Big Magic too, and who knows, maybe I'll get Dappled Sunlight done early. 

I mentioned a few posts ago that my knitting has changed enough that February is for Finishing is very different for me now than it used to be.  It's been a while since I've frogged an abandoned project, for example.   That said, I still think it's useful to take stock and see where I am once in a while, and February is just as good a time for that as any.

What are your plans for this February?  Have any big finishing in mind?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Accidentally Invoking Adventure

For the past two years I've adopted a "Word of the Year" as a tool to help me focus on my personal growth and development. I've been auditioning new words, and one word popped up that I hesitated over.


I like the action of it, the daring, the take-charge-go-out-and-do-the-thing nature of the word.  But I hesitated because I tend to associate "adventure" with "things that went entirely pear shaped and now we're dealing with it," and THAT my friends, I am not interested in invoking for 2018 - particularly after the two consecutive tire fires that were 2016 and 2017.

I'll talk more about all of this in another post, but I'm bringing it up now because I want to tell you about my week.  I bet you can already see where this is going.

I flew down to our Florida office on Tuesday.  We have a new team member that I've been helping to onboard, and I wanted to spend some in-person time with my team. 

Yes Virginia, You Can Knit on a Plane
The trip down was easy-peasy.  Flights were on time, people were well-behaved, and my book was engrossing.   (Pro-tip: think carefully before picking a novel about a pandemic that kills over 2 billion people in a month if you're going to be reading in an airport.  Suddenly every sniffle and cough takes on new and sinister meaning.)

I spent a lovely couple of days spending time with people I really enjoy.  I went to dinner one night with two women I used to work with back when I was in Operations Training, and they caught me up on all the good gossip over wine and lobster rolls. 

After work one afternoon I went and got some Key Lime pie, and sat and knit for a while.  Because of reasons.

The weather was gorgeous, and my hotel room overlooked the ocean.  All in all it was an awesome three days.

I got to the airport on Friday for my return trip at about 10:30 am, for my 12:00 flight.  The Melbourne airport is small so security is usually pretty painless.   The guy at the return counter for my rental car asked me if I was sure I wanted to return the car - flights were being canceled because of weather.  (Mind you it's 75 F and sunny as we have this conversation).   Delta's app says all is copacetic, so I turn in my keys and head on to get my boarding pass. 

The flight might be a little delayed, the lady says as she hands me my paperwork. 

The nice security man asked if I had any liquids in my bag, laptop in it's own bucket, yadda yadda.  I'm an old pro at this by now, so I assure him it's all in order.   They pull my bag out for inspection, and he asks if there's anything sharp in there.  Just my knitting needles, I tell him.  I left a bottle of water in my bag that I completely forgot was in there.  Rookie mistake.  I chuck the water and gather up my stuff and head off to my gate.

Ten minutes later I'm heading back to security to pick up the laptop I'd left behind because I was embarrassed about the water. 

My noon flight became a 1:00 flight.  And then 2:00.  Maybe 3:00.  Probably 4:30 for sure.  Around 5:00 Delta brought in about 20 pizzas, because the other two flights for Atlanta that were supposed to leave after ours were also delayed, and the tiny airport didn't really have a lot of infrastructure for that many stranded passengers.

My connecting flight out of Atlanta got canceled somewhere in the middle of all this, but they put me on another flight that would leave at 11 pm.  Not ideal, but what are ya gonna do?

Besides knit, I mean.

Melbourne Airport has my favorite wacky airport carpet.

It's a good thing I had three different knitting projects in my carry on luggage, because I worked on all of them.

We finally flew out of Melbourne at about 7:00 or so.   By the time we got into Atlanta, every flight out had been canceled, and there were no hotel rooms to be had.   The Delta app cheerfully informed me that I've been rebooked on a flight home... on Sunday.

I called Carl and had him looking at Expedia, trying to find me a room (there were none).  Really I needed him to be a sounding board so I could figure out what the heck to do.   The way I saw it, I had two options: 1) sleep in the airport.  Twice.  2) Rent a car and drive home. 

So that's what I did.  I got a car (and thank G-d for National's Emerald Club, because without it I don't think I would have gotten one).  I did a mental calculation of what was in my suitcase and decided that I didn't care, and I drove out of Atlanta at 9:20 p.m.

(For the record, there were three pairs of hand-knit socks in that suitcase.  I hope that helps to impress upon you the gravity of the situation).

I called Carl back and he talked to me for about two and half hours of the four hour drive home.  There had been weather (snow!) so he was letting me know what to expect in terms of driving conditions ahead of me.  More than that, he was making sure I was staying awake for the drive.

Once I hit Monteagle mountain we hung up and I put in a podcast.  Kevin and Ursula of Productivity Alchemy kept me company for the rest of the trip, and I finally got home at about 1:30 a.m.

But that's not the end of the story!  Remember the suitcase I abandoned in Atlanta because I could not even?

Delta put it on a plane to Nashville and I grabbed it off the carousel at BNA right after I returned the  rental car.  I didn't even ask them to do that.  It just happened - and I knew about it because the app told me. I love technology.  And good customer service.

I'm not sure what the moral of this story is exactly.  It's good to know that I can handle things when they go pear shaped.   Good to know that if I'm alone in a big city with no place to stay and no confirmed travel plans that I will navigate that situation successfully.   Maybe I'll check to make sure Mercury isn't retrograde before the next time I decide to fly somewhere.

It still isn't my favorite definition for Adventure, but I'm glad to be reminded that when the time comes that I am a self-rescuing princess.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Advent Knitting

When I was little we had an Advent Wreath with candles that we lit right before supper every Sunday in December.  I have very clear, very warm memories of watching the light grow, and watching CHRISTMAS OH MY GOSH get closer and closer with every passing week.   The symbolism is not dissimilar to lighting the menorah during Hanukkah, or any other ritual that honors the growth and birth of light at the apex of the darkest part of the year. 

While I still have my mom's Advent Wreath, I don't use it.  It would feel (to me) disrespectful to set it out as purely secular decoration, and I no longer observe the rituals and prayers that go along with it. But still there is something really meaningful about marking the time in December leading up to Christmas. 

Advent is a Latin word that at it's simplest definition means "coming."  It is a time of "expectant waiting and of preparation."   As a parent, and as the person in charge of Making Holidays Happen, my experience with Christmas tends to weigh more heavily on the preparation side, and less on the expectant waiting bit.

It's with that in mind that I decided to undertake an Advent knitting project this year.  I want to cultivate a sense of peace and mindfulness each day, even as I'm running around wrapping presents, putting up trees, baking all the things, making lists, ignoring the lists, buying more things, and making sure the stacks of presents are more or less the same size.   Just writing all of that out makes me want to clutch my planner to my bosom and rock back and forth, eyes wide and staring.

Last year I knit Project Peace in December, finishing it up right at the new year.   There is another Peace Project for 2017, but I think I'm going to wait until January to knit that one.

This year, I'm knitting the Land of Sweets Cowl by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade.  She designed it specifically to go along with the yarny Advent calendars that several yarn companies and indie dyers are selling.   The cowl is designed for 24 different colors (less than 8 grams each).  I didn't buy an Advent calendar kit, so I went stash-diving into my bits and bobs and scrap yarn blanket collection.

It's shaking out to about 8 rounds of 150 stitches in each section.  Just enough to take the edge off of the day and to let me focus just on me, just on peace, just on the knit stitch or the purl stitch. 

So far (it is only Day 3) I've spent some of the time knitting this cowl in mindfulness meditation.  It's rather lovely, and just feels good to do it.   I've also spent some of the time reading Tony/Steve Avengers fanfiction, and I'm not gonna lie, that was pretty great too.

The point is that I'm taking a little space in my life every day to mark the passage of time, in a quiet, reflective way.   Making the time for the "expectant waiting" is helping me remember what it was like, as a little girl, to view the entire month of December as a magical time of wonder and build up towards something incredible. 

When you're the adult in charge of making the magic, sometimes it's easy to forget to stop and enjoy the miracles and wonders of the holiday season. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Where Are They Now? A February 2017 Retrospective

I thought it would be fun to do a bit of a mid-year check on my February is For Finishing list from 2017.  Take a look at what I listed, and update the blog on what became of those projects. 

I've changed my relationship with how I craft enough in the past few years that FifF doesn't quite work the same way for me as it used to.  ("FifF" is a ridiculous acronym, but we're going with it.)   At least two things are different since those early days of 25+ projects gathering dust under my bed:

1) I now generally finish what I start ... at least as far as knitting goes, and 
2) I'm playing in the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup.

The upshot of these two factors is that while I did have eight projects on the needles this past February, what I was really working on was the sweater (Vitamin D, if you'll recall) and I wasn't actually aiming to finish that in February at all.  Vitamin D was my OWL (ordinary wizarding levels) project for that term in the House Cup, so it was getting most of my love and attention.  So while I did finish a few of my outstanding WIPs, my primary focus was on my sweater.  And that's okay too... but it does mean that I'll be thinking about how I want to handle February is for Finishing in the future.

So let's look at what was on that list and see "Where Are They Now?!?"

For Aslan (Lionberry by Narniel of Endor), finished  April 6, 2017.

Hogwarts Studies (Sock Yarn Mitered Square Blanket), in progress

EƤrendil, A Light in Dark Places (Light in Shadows by Milja Uimonen), finished April 22, 2017.

Sonder by Helen Stewart (I never did get a good FO shot of this), completed February 27, 2017.

Heliophilia (Vitamin D by Heidi Kirrmaier), finished March 30, 2107

Protest Knitting (Smooth Operator Socks, mostly, by Susan B. Anderson), finished February 11, 2017.

Lace Anklet Socks by Ann Budd, finished April 29, 2017.

What is Love, Baby Don't Hurt Me (Vanilla socks) -- formerly "Geek Love" but I decided nah, finished March 11, 2017.

So there you have it -- all done save the Hogwarts Studies Blanket.  I've knit plenty since then (loads of socks, some shawls - including the ubiquitous Find Your Fade, and I'm a third done a sweater).  I am not planning to go back and list them or show them all, but if you're interested and have a Ravelry account, all of my 2017 FOs to date can be found here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Now Where's She Gone Off To?

Hello, my darlings!  Here it is half done March and I haven't told you how February went yet.  I am remiss.

I managed a metric eff-ton (as opposed to an imperial eff-ton) of knitting, and only finished two things, go figure.

Protest Knitting
My first FO of the month was "Protest Knitting."  I used Susan B. Anderson's instant hit, "Smooth Operator Socks" for the heel, and did my own thing for the rest.  This is White Birch Fiber Arts' "Nothing Says Screw You Like a Rainbow" colorway, in her 80/20 merino/nylon base.  I knit these as a quiet, yet obnoxious form of political protest.  I have grave concerns about the direction our country is heading, and I have the big gay socks to prove it.

My second FO is "Sonder" by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade.  I don't have a really good FO shot of this one (despite having finished it two weeks ago) but here's a look:

It's big, squishy, cozy, and I have no idea how to wear it.  More on that as it develops.  I used Knit Picks Billow in the "Comfrey" colorway.  It's a lovely thick-and-thin bulky cotton that somehow managed not to hurt my hands at all.

The bulk of my actual knitting time in February went into my Vitamin D cardigan.  At the end of February I was finishing up the short row shaping and working on the set of radial increases at the bottom of the body.   As of this morning I'm done the body and the neck band, and I'm into the first sleeve.

It's at a weird and hard to photograph stage.  I am hoping that blocking will cure a number of ills (particularly with the way the hem and neck band are rolling).   I don't know that I'll make the Spring Equinox, but I am definitely on track to have it done by the end of March.

I also added a whack of squares to my Sock Yarn Blanket/Cozy Memories Afghan (I need to settle on a name, seriously).

It's still a long-term project with no particular end date in mind, but it's definitely growing faster than I was expecting.  I am enjoying the little bite-sized mini-project aspect of each individual square, while building towards something bigger that I'll be able to enjoy and use later on.

So that's what I got up to in February.    I finished another pair of socks yesterday, but they'll get their own post.

How did your February go?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

It's February Eve!

And you all know what that means.   It is time for the annual Airing of the WIPs, in preparation for February is for Finishing.

Discovering project bags sure has made my project "group photo" tidier.

We've been celebrating the fine month of February here at chez woolly since 2006.  I mentioned the other day that I've been doing it for 11 years, but then I pulled out my trusty fingers and actually counted on them... and this is my 12th year observing the sacred ritual of trotting out my WIP pile, cataloging it, and then making some sort of stab at finishing any of it.

Early days also included a fair amount of frogging and flinging along with all that finishing, but somewhere along the way my process changed enough that I'm not doing that so much any more.  I'm chalking it up to a combination of things, such as working with nicer yarns, choosing yarns and patterns that want to be friends, and embracing the concept of bailing like a rat off of a sinking ship when things start going pear-shaped.  

I've also really upped my finishing game.  I know I dedicated my entire last blog post to tooting my proverbial horn, but what I've got to tell you guys is too momentous, too unprecedented to let go unmentioned.    

For the first time in all the history of February is for Finishing -- since 2006, y'all -- nothing on the list I am about to set down was on my list last year.  None of the things.   Like, I finished them all. 



Anyway I digress.

Let's just get on to this year's list, shall we?  

Being a Compleat Liste of All Thyngs Extant Upon Needle or Hooke 

1. For Aslan.    This is a lovely half-circle shawl.  I'm knitting it out of Lost City Knits Pathways Sock Yarn in the "Rumpelstiltskin" colorway.  The pattern is not very well written, and I'd hesitate to recommend it to anyone, really, but I definitely wouldn't recommend it to a newer knitter.   I'm knitting this for Aslan (hence the project name).   Cast on April 21, 2016.

2. Sock Yarn Mitered Square Blanket.   This is one of those long-term projects.  I'm knitting it 3" square at a time, and frankly I am not bothered about when I finish it.  I'm getting a kick out of adding my bits and bobs of leftover sock yarn (and bits and bobs formerly belonging to all of my friends).  My standing rule for this is that it doesn't really "count" as an active project unless it has live stitches on it. Cast on May 16, 2016.

3. A Light in Dark Places.   I'm knitting this two-color shawl out of Dragonfly Fibers Pixie in District 12 and Peach Melba.  I started it last year for the Yarniacs Colors of Fall KAL, but I put it aside to finish other things.  I just need to get myself oriented and I'll be ready to go.  Cast on June 20, 2016.

4. Sonder.  This is one of the shawls from the Shawl Society by Helen Stewart.  I'm knitting it from KnitPicks Billow.  This project stands a pretty good chance of getting finished in February.  I'm actually rather farther along that this picture would have  you believe, but at the time of this writing it is winter, and night, and ... well,, this is the best picture you're gonna get tonight.  Just... imagine more on the one end.  Cast on December 4, 2016.

5. Heliophilia.  Jess and I have organized ourselves a wee #galpalkal and are knitting Vitamin D by Heidi Kirrmaier together.  We swatched on the Winter Solstice, and we'll be knitting along with the intent to finish by the Spring Equinox.  It's a bit of Intentional knitting, focusing on bringing more Light into the world, and staving off SAD.   I am also knitting this as my Harry Potter House Cup OWL, so I'll be putting a lot of work into this over the course of February.   Again, I'm farther along than the picture would have you believe.  I'm using Morning Meadow Sundries sport weight wool in the "Straw Into Gold" colorway from their Fables and Fairy Tales collection.  I picked the yarn up at SAFF last October.  Cast on January 1, 2017.

6. Protest Knitting.   There are times when current events demand that you cast on socks out of a yarn with a colorway name like "Nothing Says Screw You Like Rainbow."   I'm about 5 rows from finishing the first sock.   Cast on either January 14, 2017.

7.  Lace Anklet Socks.   I'm knitting these for Morgan out of my Rain's Obsessive Stitchery Fred Sock Yarn in the "Lake on the Mountain" colorway. They are part of my Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup Order Mission, so they'll be seeing a lot of action in February.  Right now they are at, oh, about 4 rows, so here is a "before" shot.  They've been on the needles for like, ten minutes.  Cast on January 29, 2017.

8. Geek Love.   For the second pair of socks I'm knitting for my Order Mission, I decided to go to Ravelry and filter my stash to only show me fingering weight yarns.  I scrolled allllll the way down to the bottom (it took a while) and picked one of the oldest sock yarns in my stash, some KnitPicks Felici in the "Mixed Berries" colorway.  This was first run Felici, y'all.   This yarn featured in a previous February is for Finishing, but experienced the "frog" option that time.  Better luck this month, kid.  Cast on January 29, 2017.

So that's the list!  My strategy is going to be dictated by what has deadlines, so Vitamin D, the Lace Cuff socks, and the Geek socks are going to see the most love this month.  I'm going to finish my Protest Socks, and I'm also targeting Sonder.

What is on your list for February is for Finishing?  Have any old WIPs that you'd like to kick in the butt this month?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Pat Pat Toot Toot: A Maker's Year in Review

2016 was a rough year for a lot of people in a lot of ways, both personal and political.  I had my fair share of personal upsets, disappointing and concerning things took place in my professional life (none that directly impacted my own role or earning ability, but concerning none-the-less), and of course there is a lot to be said about our current political landscape.

2016 was hard, yo.

This past year I was deeply reminded of why I am a maker.  I have a lot to say about that, and will do -- but this is not that blog post.   This is the blog post where I share what I accomplished last year in my fibery pursuits, and where I check back in on the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

In 2016, I would like to complete greater than 10,000 yards of knitting and crochet.  

Y'all.  I finished 2016 with 16,487 yards completed.  Let me say that one more time for those in the back. 16,487 yards in 37 projects.   Can we say "Exceeds Expectations"?  (Or as Prairie Girl Susie would say, "PAT PAT, TOOT TOOT" as I pat myself on the back and toot my own horn.)  Of course, not every bit of that yardage was worked in 2016, it was all finished in 2016.  That's a reason (if you care about such things) to look at averages over time, as well as projects completed within a year.   In any case, if you have a Ravelry account, and you'd like to take a gander at my 2016 projects, you can see them here.  

In 2016, I intend to complete 16 socks.

In 2016 I completed 18 socks.  As a funny side note, when I originally wrote out my goals I said "16 pairs of socks" ... hahahaha nope.  I meant 8 pair.  I was using #sockwatch16 on Instagram to document my sock progress throughout the year.  It was fun -- and just about the right amount of sock for me to aim for. 

In 2016, I will limit my yarn purchases to festivals, shows, and the two yarn clubs I'm currently enrolled in. 

Yeah, nope.   Okay, what I did accomplish in 2016 was becoming much more intentional about my shopping habits.  I ordered maybe once from Knit Picks all year -- and that was in November.  I bought a few things from Etsy shops, and visited the odd LYS now and again.  So, I totally did NOT accomplish the goal I set for myself... but I did up my Intentional Acquisition game, so I will award myself partial credit on that front.

In 2016, I will finish my three oldest, biggest, or oldest AND biggest works in progress:

My Circles to Squares Afghan.

My Cosy Stripe Afghan.

And my Knitting in Red Shawl.

All three are done.   Completing these three older projects felt wonderful.  I felt like a computer processor that had been chugging along trying desperately to keep too many too large files open and run three programs at the same time.   Closing a few windows and a hard re-boot later and I feel amazing.

I have more to say about the Knitting in Red shawl -- but again it deserves it's own post, so I'll save it for another time.  

I have a lot more to show you that was completed in 2016, but this is about long enough, I think.

All in all, I'm incredibly pleased with my 2016 crafting.  In addition to the knitting and crochet, I did some sewing, dabbled in art a smidge, and generally enjoyed being a creative.   I still haven't 100% decided what my 2017 crafting goals are going to be.  Stay tuned, and I'll report back as soon as I've figured it out.  One thing I know -- I'm gonna keep making.