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.

Friday, May 13, 2016

FO: Pink Monkeys

So, it turns out my "April Socks" were actually my March socks of 2015.   I do what I want, Thor.  My party, my rules, etc. etc.

I cast these on last year during my annual early March frenzy of startosis.  (The natural and inevitable consequence of February is for Finishing... March is for Casting on a Whole Whack of Stuff.  Happens every year.)

I worked on them off and on last Spring, but for some reason they never really took hold.  Not even when I decided to horn in on Notre Dame Jen's #operationclearthesockneedles last summer.

Monkeys, bottom center
This was taken in July of 2015. Mind you, all of the other socks in this picture have long since been finished or frogged.  But those dang cheeky monkeys just sat there.

But since I declared #sockwatch16 for this year, I couldn't let the advantage of a half completed sock go, now could I?

Once I decided to work on them with any kind of focus or intent, they flew off the needles.  Funny how that goes, isn't it?

I knit the toe and heel as written -- which in retrospect I regret.  If I do this pattern again (and I might just, or maybe try a pair of Purlless Monkeys), I'll do my standard heel and toe.

But overall, we are pleased.  (Heck, I'm pleased they're off the needles finally....the fact that they're pretty darned cute is just bonus.)

These socks are PANK!

Project Notes

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A
Yarn:  Knit Picks Stroll, "Rouge" colorway
Total Yardage: 319 yards
Needles:  US 1.5 (2.5mm) 5in" Knitter's Pride DPNs
Started:  March 2, 2015
Completed:  April 26, 2016
Ravelry Project Page: here

#sockwatch16: 10/16 socks complete.

Friday, May 06, 2016

No, it is too much. Let me sum up.

April has just flown by.  Do you hear that WHOOSHING noise?  That was April.  Happily, I caught a lot of it on film (er, metaphorical film.  I use my cell phone.  But you know what I mean.)

So settle in and buckle up.  Here's a picture heavy, lightning tour of the month of April here at chez woolly.

Stitches South

Right after we last spoke, we loaded up the car with a swatch of knitters and headed up the road to Stitches South.  Since they moved Stitches to Nashville, it's only a 45 minute drive from my house. Atlanta would have been doable (though I never actually did it...) but Nashville is just right there, you know?

Anyway, we were Stitches bound, stopping mid-way between the Opryland Hotel and my place for breakfast and to collect our Jess.

A Swatch of Knitters

Assembled, fed, and caffeinated, we continued our journey.   While there we spent some money (some of us spent a lot of money...) and met up with some dear friends from out of town.

Some of these knitters live in the internet.

I bought some yarns...

Don't give me that look, my goals specifically mentioned Fiber Events as an exception.

...and the best wine glass.

That says "three sheeps to the wind"

Business Trip to Melbourne, FL

The next week saw us starting the process of cleaning for Seder, and the week after that was for a business trip.   I spent the better part of the week in Melbourne, Florida.  I was there to facilitate two leadership workshops on inclusion and empowerment.   

Among other reasons....
I may or may not have also walked on the beach, eaten excellent food, had some wine, and, oh yes, I did some knitting.

Something about knitting a Hitchhiker as travel knitting appeals to my sense of the absurd.

Passover 2016

And after that?  It was time for Seder.
Seder Prep Selfies

One of the best things about Seder is the day we spend preparing the meal.  This year the kids were more involved than ever and that just makes my heart sing.  Even little Phoebe got in on the act, with a butter knife and some apples.

That's Morgan, Iris, Phoebe, and Jess making the Charoset

Dinner was lovely, and the remodeled living room served to make things more comfortable rather than less (I'd had some concerns, but all was right in the end).  We fit 30 at table comfortably and with room to breathe.  Barely.  

There's another table out of frame to the right.

Since Seder I've been quietly working on finishing up some old projects, and getting some new things cast on.   I'll tell you more about that next week, as surely this has gone on long enough.

But that's April, more or less in a nutshell.

Oh!  And one more thing...

The iris started to bloom.

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.