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. 

WHO AM I?  WHAT HAVE I BECOME?!?

::;ahem::

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.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Throat Clearing

Man, I did not mean to abandon my blog for six months.

I have no idea what happened there. I was merrily posting along every week, and then I started posting every three weeks to every month, and then ... nothing.

I've been thinking about blogging.  I've been composing blog posts in my mind while commuting (upside -- plenty of time to think while I'm driving; downside -- hard to type while driving).   But I haven't been translating any of those thoughts or ideas onto the blog.

Part of my issue (and I've touched on this before when I've gone AWOL from the blog and then gone back to posting) is that it's hard to start again.  Hard to say "Hey guys, I'm back!" Hard to explain why I've been gone, and hard to get back into the swing of regular posting.

And the longer I wait, the harder it gets.

So, that's what this post is really all about.  It's about breaking through my "stuckness" around regular blogging.  It's about saying "Hey guys, I'm back!" and just getting THAT over with and out of the way.

It's throat clearing.   Because guys I have a lot I want to talk about.  I want to tell you about how my 2016 crafting goals turned out, I want to show you some of the things I've finished (some of which have been a long time coming), and I want to talk about things like craftivism, and intentional knitting, and more about why I am a maker.  

I've got stuff to say, y'all.


Peace out, and I'll be back soon.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Projects in Progress or What Madness am I Up to This Week?

It's been a while since I've done a general round-up of what I'm working on.

With Stash Dash upon us, the short answer is "everything" -- but barring that not particularly helpful or fulsome response, I thought I'd take you through a bit of a pictorial tour.

First -- remember those socks I cast on June 1?  I knit the better part of the foot of one Whiz Bang sock (pattern by Sarah Shoo) before I decided I didn't like it.   So I'm back to having two toes.


The yellowy ones to the left are going be Marigold by Pamela Wynne, because of reasons.   The yarn is Highland Handmades Sugar Maple Sock in the "Fru's Hairy Balls" colorway.   It was created as a fundraiser in 2014 for Sillyfru -- a podcaster and knitter who has been diagnosed with Hairy Cell Leukemia.   The proceeds went to help pay for her medical costs, and I was happy to be a part of that.

The multi-colored yarn on the right is Knit Picks Stroll Hand-Painted in the "Spectrum" colorway. Those are the ones that tried (and failed) to be Whiz Bang socks.  I think I'm going to try a toe-up version of Hermione's Everyday Socks instead.  I'd hate to waste a perfectly good toe.

In other knitting news, I have a cowl on the go out of some yarn I picked up last winter from a dyer who was going out of business.  This is Rambling Rose Yarns Divine: Merino Sock in the "Midnight Blue" colorway.


This is the Trifle Cowl by the Sorting Hat from the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup. This term the Headmistress' Challenge is to participate in a Cowl Mystery Knit or Crochet-along. I'm doing the knit version, and so far I really like it!   (I did cheat and look at other people's clues before committing ... mystery knitalongs being somewhat of a gamble.)  I like it though!

Next up is my Lionberry Shawl.  The pattern is by Narniel of Endor (er, that's what it says in Ravelry anyway.  I suspect her mother didn't give her that name, but I dig her choice of fandoms, so.)


It's a crescent shaped shawl, with distinct sections of texture.  I am calling the project "For Aslan," and am knitting it with Him in mind.  The yarn is Lost City Knits Pathways sock yarn in "Rumpelstiltskin."  I picked it up specifically with this shawl in mind at Stitches South this April.  So far I'm loving working with the yarn.

I'm also working on Bifrost by Cate Carter-Evans.   The yarn is her Infinite Twist Helix base, and the colors just make me salivate.


The scarf will run through a full rainbow before it's done.  It's happiness in squashy garter stitch.  I might decide to mattress stitch the whole business closed when I'm done and turn it into an infinity scarf.  I'll decide when I get there.

In crochet news, I'm still plugging away at my Cosy Stripes blanket by Lucy of Attic24.  It's amazing how quickly three stripes a week will grow a blanket.  Especially when compared to "no stripes per week" which is how much I was working on it before.


That's folded in thirds, and there's another three feet or so hanging on the other side of the chair.  I really want to get this done though -- both because I am nearly as tired of it as I love it (which is a lot) but also because this bad boy is going to net me around 4000 meters for Stash Dash.  Big blanket is big.

My Circles to Squares Afghan is so close I can taste it.  All the squares are done and I've started crocheting it together.


It looks a little wobbly now, but an outer border should help tidy it up.   Here's a close up of what the back looks like:


I rather like the ridges it makes.

So that's the majority of what I've been working on lately.  It's rather a lot, but in this case "lately" really means, "I've touched it in the past two weeks."

That doesn't actually make it any saner, does it?

Saturday, June 04, 2016

FO: Rose City Dancers and a Very Berry Anklet

To make up for being a day late getting this written, I offer you a "two-for-the-price-of-one" FO post.

I sat down on May 1 to cast on some socks.  At the time I had no socks on the needles at all, having just wrapped up the Monkeys that I started back when.   Nature abhors a vacuum, and my sock needles were getting cold and lonely.


I ended up waiting on the yellow yarn, but I got the the Knit Picks Dancing in the middle, and the Knit Picks Felici and leftover Knit Picks Stroll over on the right started.

Rose City Dancers


Dancing is a cotton/wool/nylon blend that I am hoping will make great summer socks.  This is kind of a good news/bad news situation -- Dancing has been discontinued for 9 years.   On the other hand I have a ::koff:: well curated stash.  If these work out, there could be more, is what I'm sayin'.

Project Notes

Pattern: Rose City Rollers by Mara Catherine Bryner
Yarn:  Knit Picks Dancing in the "Tap" colorway.  Probably.
Total Yardage: 243 yds.
Needles:  US 1.5 (2.5mm), Magic Loop method
Started:  May 1, 2016
Completed:  May 29, 2016
Ravelry Project Page: here

Very Berry Anklets

And speaking of discontinued yarns, I had one skein of this Knit Picks Felici in my stash.   (Actually, let me be perfectly clear... I have an embarrassment of Felici in my stash, it's just this particular colorway that I only had one ball of...)


When I went looking for yarn for contrasting heels, ankles, and toes, the Stroll from the Monkey socks I'd just finished seemed about perfect.

These socks aren't just pink, they're PANK.

Project Notes

Pattern: I knit these toe-up, without a specific pattern.  I stole the toe off of Carrie Ramirez' "Double Gusset on Bottom Toe-up Sock Pattern" and the OMG heel from Megan Williams.
Yarn:  Knit Picks Felici, "Cochineal" and Knit Picks Stroll, "Rouge"
Total Yardage: 221 yards
Needles:  US 1.5 (2.5 mm), 2 16" circulars
Started:  May 1, 2016
Completed:  May 31, 2016

Ravelry Project Page: here

So, I learned some things this past May.  I learned that I can knit two pairs of ankle socks in one month (providing that month has a full complement of 31 days) and I learned that I may have a bit of a sock... thing.

Okay that last wasn't much of a surprise.  I pretty much already suspected.  Miss "I Am Going to Try to Knit 16 Socks in One Year" is now sitting pretty on 14 out of 16 socks done.   Now, granted, four of those socks have a shorter cuff than average, but even still.

The real hint that I might be a bit sock obsessed came when I immediately cast on for two new pairs on June 1.  Because of course I did.

Sockwatch16:  14/16
StashDash16:    880 m

Friday, May 27, 2016

Happy First Day of Stash Dash

Stash Dash 2016 is upon us, and my spreadsheet and I are prepared.

Stash Dash is a summer finish-along hosted by Laura and Leslie of The Knit Girllls videocast.  (If you don't watch them, you're missing out.  They're a treat.)  Anyway, the idea is to finish as much as you can while Laura is on summer vacation. This year that's May 27 - August 21 (Happy First Day of Stash Dash!).   "Winning" means finishing up 3K, 5K, 7K, or if you're really bold, 10K, or 15K meters of yarn during the allotted timeframe.

Long time friends of the show will remember that I competed last year at the 3K level.  This year my aspirations are more ambitious, as I'm aiming for the 5K - 7K range.  

WIPs totally count, as well as new cast-ons, so those that have game have been stashing (haha) their nearly finished items in a corner to trot out this summer.

Take this beauty for instance:


My Hitchhiker has  been all done save a bit of tinking and a bind off for a couple of weeks now.   That's 454 meters right there.  Boom.

The rest of my strategy relies heavily on my Cosy Stripes and Circles to Squares afghans.  They'll come in at over 5K meters between the two of them.  The Cosy Stripes afghan is 70% done.  I've done the maths, and so long as I do at least three stripes a week I'm in good shape for this one.

This thing is gonna be humongous.

And the Circles to Squares afghan just needs seamed together and a border added.


Finishing these two bad boys (along with Knitting in Red) is one of my goals for 2016, so Stash Dash is the perfect motivation to get them done.

I also have some ankle socks to finish, an Order Mission to cast on (more on that later) and other bits and bobs to work on over the summer.

The Spreadsheet has all my current and planned projects listed.  If I finish EVERYTHING I'm looking at nearly 10K.  I don't expect to finish everything.  At least not by August.  But we'll see!



Friday, May 20, 2016

On Being a Maker, Part 1: Heritage

Earlier this year, Kate from the A Playful Day podcast asked the question, "What does making mean to YOU? " (Here's a link to the specific episode where she posed the question.  It's worth a listen.)

I've been rock-tumbling my answer ever since, and of course it's complicated.  I realized that being a maker means a lot of things to me.  I make because I grew up in a household of makers. I make because I value beauty, and I make because I feel called to do so.

So, here's the first in what will be a three part series on my making journey.

Making is Heritage.

I grew up in a family of makers.  Both of my parents were artists and creators - my mother sewed and painted, my father was a photographer, a farmer, and a horticulturist.   I grew up in a house with a well stocked pantry, full of delights such as my grandmother's famous bread and butter pickles.  We made things.  We made for practicality, for frugality, for joy, for art, and for beauty.  The best things were made for all of these reasons.

My sisters and I all learned the love of crafting and making at an early age.  Lucy was a seamstress, and loved to try her hands at any other craft that caught her fancy.  Abby sews and takes gorgeous photographs.  When she was in high school she took a pottery class and made incredible things.

We were pretty broke (we were very broke.  We owned a family farm in the seventies.  It was dire.) so we didn't have a lot of the toys and things that the "other kids" had.  When I was about six or seven, Abby and Lucy made this incredibly elaborate Barbie doll house out of cardboard boxes, wallpaper samples, and scrap lumber.  They sewed my dolls intricate and adorable outfits (this was during the period that Abby taught herself how to sew with Mom's Bernina.  That adventure was not without incident).   I ended up with the best, most incredible set up for my dolls,  Being the baby was not without its advantages.

We make, it's what we do.

My parents and grandparents are no longer living -- but when I look around my home, evidence of their making is everywhere.


My mother toll painted the bucket on the right sometime in the 1970s.  My father took both of the photographs in the frame to the left.  Neither are particularly special in and of themselves... except they absolutely are.  That's my mom and my grandma caught in everyday, domestic tasks.  Making a household.  Years and miles apart from each other, but in the exact same pose.


This is the rocking chair I sit in while I'm knitting and back-seat driving Carl's video games.  It was built by my paternal great-grandfather.


I am lucky enough to own several pieces of Abby's pottery.  She made these in the 11th grade, y'all. When she was sixteen.

Are you starting to see what I mean?  I didn't even have to go hunting for any of these things -- they are just a part of my daily life.  (Well, I did have to grab the pitcher and plate out of my china cabinet... but that hardly counts.)

I can look around my living room and count seven or eight things that were made by my family, and several more that were made by me.

Making is heritage - and it's a heritage that I am proud to have passed on to my children.   Rhiannon and Morgan are both knitters, and both artists.  Morgan is also a musician (which is a kind of making that I know naught of, but she gets that from her father.)   Rowan has started baking.  His pretzels are a thing of beauty and wonderment.


Morgan is not amused by my picture taking shenanigans.  She's just trying to cast on here, okay?

So, in summary:  I make because I was taught that's what you do.  I make to honor my family, and to teach my children about making.

At least, that's part of my answer.