Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Knits That I Can Show You

I've had a bit of a casting on spree the past few weeks (as one does), but given the season there's a fair bit that I can't (or won't) show you.  Many of my knitworthy constituency read the blog, and there you have it.  

Fear me not, there will be pictures and reports after the Yuletide.  In the meantime I'll try to keep the vague mutterings of "I knit some stuff" to a minimum, as that's no more interesting for me to type than it is for you to read.

All of that said, I do have some progress to report on several of my current projects.

My Four Color Cashmere Cowl is moving right along.  I'm about half done the yellow (excuse me, Turmeric) bit, and then there's another stripe or three and it's done.

I took this picture several days ago, but that's about where I still am, as I've been distracted by other knits.

Carl's Big Dude Socks are so close, y'all.  I can smell victory.

Victory smells like feet.
I posted this picture to Instagram the other day (oh hey, I'm on Instagram, username Kadollan, come follow me).  I captioned the pic "I can call this good right?  I'm done?" or words to that effect.  I cannot believe how long these dang things have taken me.  Though in my defense, once you factor in the more than half sock I frogged, I've knit enough to already be done and then some.

Anyway, I've turned the heel and now it will go WHOOSH! down the foot.  May his second pair not also take a year. Amen, So Say We All, etc.

My Halloween socks (which clearly will not be done for Halloween, but whatever, I do what I want) are also moving right along.  I'm using the OMG Heel by Megan Williams on this one.

Oh, and get a load of that project bag.

I made two -- one for me and one for my "date" to the masquerade ball for the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup.  She made me a bag too (not pictured.)  It's silly and fun and it makes me happy.  Oh, and the best part?  I raided ancient fabric stash for those bag boys (er... bad boys, but that typo is too funny not to leave.)

I plan to do some winter and Christmas themed ones next.

And then in the midst of all this industry, I've cast on a hat.  This is Bankhead by Susie Gourlay.  It's a simple, unisex beanie style cap, and a great use for Lion Brand Heartland (which, okay, confession time.  I like Heartland.  It's soft and the colors are all up my alley.  There, I said it.)

I have about another 1.5" to 2" to go before I start the increases, and then it's a hat for the gift basket.

So that's about all that's fit to print.  I do have some other projects on the go, but as I said... you can't see 'em. So nyeah!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Preparing for a Fiber Festival

Happy Friday, dear readers!

It's fall, and everyone knows that fall means fiber festivals.  In point of fact, Rhinebeck is happening RIGHT VERY NOW (without me, alas.  Perhaps one day I will make my pilgrimage).  That said, we have our very own local Fiber in the Boro next weekend, and then SAFF the weekend after that.

Fiber in the Boro is a small, low-key fest, but I enjoy it.  I appreciate the opportunity to support our local fiber economy, and it's nice to see some old friends.  Plus it's like, three miles from my house.  WIN.

SAFF on the other hand, is another thing altogether.  Koren and I went for the first time last year and it was huge, delightful, overwhelming, and generally awesome.  (And speaking of local fiber economy I didn't realize that Erin Lane - not her real name - of Erin Lane Bags is actually from Murfreesboro.  Had to go alla way to South Carolina to find that out.)

Anyway, the point of all of this is that fiber festivals are fantastic opportunities to learn new skills (if you're into that) and to BUY ALL THE THINGS ... I mean ,.. to do some judicious shopping, in person, of fibers and yarns that may not be easily or locally available.    And the sheer abundance of options, choices, and hell, yarn fumes, that are available can make it really easy to get overwhelmed.

So, this is not a "pick out your workshops, find your map, make a hotel reservation" post.  Y'all can figure that part out on your own.  This is a how to shop post.  (Not that I am by any means an expert.  I should qualify this as a "this is how I shop" post, but that has less of a ring to it.)

So, first things first.  Budget.  Know how much you can comfortably spend without having to serve Kraft dinner or ramen to the family for a month.  Be reasonable, be real, and take cash.  It is way harder to overspend cash when it is gone.  Also, not all vendors are going to be set up to take credit or debit cards.  But unless you are carrying knuts and galleons, everybody will take your cash.  (I am actually fairly confident that some of the vendors would take knuts and galleons too, but I'm not at liberty to discuss which ones.)

Next, give a good hard think to what you actually love to knit.  Not what kind of yarn you love to buy, mind you, but what you actually love to knit.   Variegated fingering weight yarn sure is pretty.  But how many Hitchhikers does one girl need?  (Okay, yes, I know there are a lot more options for variegated yarns.  And arguably one girl needs "all of them" in regards to Hitchhikers, but you take my point.)

So, say you really enjoy knitting with tonal colors.  You love to make cabled hats.  Flat colors make you wrinkle your nose.  Variegateds give you heartburn when you try to knit them.   If you know this going in you aren't going to come home with two skeins of a solid lace-weight and half a dozen wild and funky sock yarns.  Instead, you'll come home with a skein of gorgeous, tonal DK or Worsted for that cabled hat you love.  

My point is:  know what you knit. And remember that what you like to buy is not always the same thing as what you like to knit.

Gosh this is already running long, and I'm not even to the pictures yet.   Still with me?

Because next stop is Ravelry.  What's in your queue?  Your favorites? What are you excited about knitting that you don't have yarn for yet?

There is a free program called Trello (it's a productivity software based on a kanban approach for project or production management).  And because I am me, and this is how I do, I use it to gather my knitting inspiration and wish lists.

My Actual SAFF Trello Board
You could do this any number of ways, but the key factors here are: visual reminders of what you are interested in (before the wool fumes get to you and you completely lose your mind), along with yarn weight, pattern name, yardage requirements (this part is really important) and recommended gauge.

Armed with this information you can come home from your festival with yarn that you are more likely to actually use, and (again this is key) in sufficient quantities.   

If you guys would like more information about how I actually set up the Trello board, just let me know and I can go into more detail around the mechanics of it.

One last thing to consider -- cell reception and data can be really spotty at some festivals.  Which means that you might get out to the Barn of Wonders where all of the vendors are waiting to entice you with their wares, and have no access to your carefully constructed plan.

The solution to this dilemma was stolen wholesale from Aimee Beth of The Fat Squirrel Speaks (who in turn stole it from someone else.)   Save a picture in your phone.  It requires no data to access, so you won't get stuck.

Trello has an app, so I just pulled up my board and took a screen shot.  Bob's yer uncle.

Lastly, but not leastly, check out the vendor list from the Festival's website.  Are there any vendors that you are either dying to check out, or that you know you adore from previous years?  If so, make a note so you can be sure to get over to them.  Ideally you'll get to see all of the vendors, but at the bigger festivals you may run out of time and oomph before you run out of places to shop.  A good problem to have, but let's make sure we hit the Must Sees first.

There's so much more that I could say about this  -- and maybe I should have even approached this as a two or three part series, but I hope that this little taste of my process is helpful.


Carry Cash
Know what you want to knit
Know your vendors

Happy Shopping!  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Focus, Finally. After a Fashion.

I've been as close as I get to project monogamous this past week.  Long-time friends of the show will recall my opinion on the moral implications of the number of projects a person currently has on the go: to whit... there are none.

That said, you can sure get more visible progress when your focus and energies aren't widely dispersed.

This past week has seen a fair bit of progress on my 3 (4) Color Cashmere Cowl.  

If three colors are good, four are better, amirite?  I'm planning to add the Turmeric as the main color block after the skinny teal and grey stripes (er, that's the yellowy-brown for those of you that were raised on the 16 color Crayola box, instead of the mega 120 color set).

Most of my crafting energy (such as it's been) has been spent on the cowl, but I've also finished the heel flap of Carl's second Big Dude sock.  No picture, but y'all know what a grey-brown sock with a heel flap looks like.

I've also done two more squares for the Circles to Squares afghan.  At this rate I could conceivably finish it ever.

I was laying it out according to the little map in the pattern, trying to get a gauge of what size blanket I am going to end up with.  (Pun unintended... but I will admit to leaving it because I thought it was funny.  So there.)  I have around half the squares completed.

That's really it -- I haven't picked up Nurmilintu, my Hitchhiker, my Halloween socks (Christmas socks at this rate).  And we won't speak of the two sweaters I have on the needles at the moment.... Or the shawl.  Or the other blanket...

Look, I'm only flirting with the idea of project focus.  I don't want to get all crazy.  

Friday, October 02, 2015

Everything, All at Once

It's been another week of "pick up one project, knit two rows, put it down, and pick up another," here at chez woolly.

So pretty much business as usual, then.

In no particular order, I've been working on:

Carl's socks.  Remember last week I mentioned that I had the second sock on the needles at Morgan's band concert?   They've gone whoosh and I've just started the heel flap.

And speaking of socks, I decided to hurry up and get my Halloween socks on the needles sometime before the last week of October.  This is me, (almost) planning ahead.   I got this sock yarn at last year's Fiber in the Boro, so I rather wanted to get them cast on before we go again on the 24th.

That orange, tho!
The yarn is The Color Wheel Tuff Sock in the "Hoot" colorway.  If she's there again this year, I might have to snag me some more.

In non-sock related news, I've started another 3 Color Cashmere Cowl (henceforth to be known as the 3CCC, because I'm lazy).   I don't know why I think I need two of these, lest it be that it is both surprisingly fetching on, and fun to knit.  Okay, never mind.  When cast in that light, it's obvious why I need two.

This one is starting out with grays instead of browns.  So far I'm using Knit Picks Capretta in Caviar and Platinum.  I may shake it up a bit when the time comes to add more color.  We'll see.

Nurmilintu (remember Nurmilintu?) has also seen some action in the past couple of weeks.  I've been trying to balance starting new things with finishing up (or in some cases frogging) some older projects.  Nurmilintu is a keeper, so it has been put back into rotation.

I really like how it's turning out.  Morgan is doing one too (we're having the wee-est of alongs.  In fact, I think Koren just cast one on as well).  Anyway, Morgan is doing hers in Hawthorne Fingering, Her gauge is tighter than mine, and the yarn reads as a tonal rather than as a variegated, so the overall affect is quite different. I'll have to try to get a picture of them together for next time.

And speaking of working on old projects (you didn't think I was done did you?) I also hauled out my old Circles to Squares afghan.  The Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup will accept blanket squares as a finished object to turn in for classes.  That is serving as excellent motivation to work on it again.  I started this bad boy back in 2013. which makes it my second oldest WIP.

I'm maybe a third of the way done?
So that's (more or less) everything I've been working on in the last couple of weeks.  I'm trying not to be frustrated by my lack of focus and to just roll with it.  As long as I'm working on something just about every day I'm making progress.  And I surely have enough variety.  (Also, if last week's post is anything to go by, it isn't actually hurting my output any.)