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.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Monogamy Totally Means "With Three," Right?

This past week I've gotten a lot accomplished, and it's all down to project monogamy.

Or, how I do monogamy, anyway, which apparently means that I'm only spending my time with three projects instead of eleventy-nine.

Close enough.

The three projects I've been monogamous with (hey, they all know that they are special.  Love the one you're with, amirite?) are:

Lilli Pilli -- my spreadsheet tells me I'm at a solid 25% with this one.  As I've mentioned before, I'm doing this for my Potions OWL in the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup.  OWLs (Ordinary Wizarding Levels) in the Harry Potter novels are the exams the students take in their fifth year, to help determine their course of study as upperclassmen.  In the HPKCHC an OWL is a project that you expect to take 2-3 months of solid work.   I'm trying to get as much done before the 24th as I can, as that's when I can cast on my Order Mission.  (I promise it all makes a weird sort of sense if you're in the middle of it.)

Shawl in Progress, with Bonus Dead Grass and Door Mat in Background
Since it is my Potions OWL, I've renamed the project, "For the Potions Master."  RIP Alan Rickman. You will be missed.

That Orange Stripe Tho' - Halloween Socks -- these are my purse knitting, and my "I can't knit lace and talk to you at the same time" knitting.  

These are just like they were last time you saw them.  Only more so.

And then I finished up the Barley hat I mentioned last week for 25000 Tuques. It knit up in under a week, but I figure there's really only two or three days of knitting in there.  Worsted weight hats are fast, yo.  And I used up the other half of that skein of Heartland, so good job all around.

Barley Hat Expertly Modeled by "Sullen Hipster" Best Friend
(Trying Not to Crack Up)
And then, because I can't leave well enough alone, I've started another hat for 25000 Tuques.  This is Laurelhurst out of some Wool of the Andes I had in stash.

What?  That still only counts as three -- I finished one!

Monogamy.  I'm doin' it right.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

FO: Happy Christmas Socks

I have had a Great Sickness (by which I mean lingering and really annoying head cold) so actual creativity has been somewhat hampered by a head full of what feels like congealed oatmeal.   So in lieu of actual content, I present to you:  socks I finished two weeks ago.

I've decided that I'm starting a tradition (doing something two years in a row is totally a tradition, right?) of working on Christmas socks for myself during the month of December.  The object isn't really to have finished sock to wear this Christmas, it's to have lovely seasonal yarn and a project that makes me happy to work on during the holidays.

Just like with my Halloween socks (still on sock #2) the great thing about holiday themed socks is that most holidays come 'round every year.

In 2014 I finished a pair up on Christmas Day, which I couldn't have timed better if I'd done it on purpose.  These were finished on the 27th, which is still pretty darned perfect, if you ask me.

I am becoming a convert to the ways of the toe-up sock.  Now that I have discovered that it is possible to knit them where they actually fit, I'm as likely to go toe-up as top-down.  That's quite a journey from where I was in 2011!

Project Notes

Pattern: Double Gusset on Bottom Toe Up Sock Pattern by Carrie Ramirez
Yarn:  Simply Socks Yarn Company Poste Yarn, Striping in the "Jollyville TX" colorway
Total Yardage: 275 yards
Needles:  US 1.5 (2.5 mm)
Started: November 26, 2015
Completed: December 27, 2015

I posted a picture on Instagram when I finished these (like you do) and as a last second whim I double checked to see if the designer has an Instagram account.  She does, so I tagged her.  Apparently I made her day as no one had ever tagged her on something they were knitting that she'd designed before.  I'm so glad I thought to include her.  It didn't take more than an extra second or two of my time and it really made her happy.

It even warranted a shout out on her blog!

I just love how the little things we do can end up meaning so much to someone else, don't you?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Adventures in Not Podcasting

I am extremely lucky in my friends for many reasons.  Not least of which is that many of my close friends are also makers of one sort or another.  Crochet, knitting, sewing, cooking, tatting, weaving, drawing, painting.... name a craft and I bet someone in my circle does it, has done it, or is already planning to learn how.

Jess, Koren and I have a regular hang-out scheduled for most Friday nights.  We have dinner together, talk about what we're making, watch some TV or a movie, or maybe have a YouTube Dance Party.  Some variation of a weekly gathering has been happening at my place for years.  

About a year, year-and-a-half ago, we discovered knitting podcasts (this is all leading somewhere, I swear).  I was a late adopter -- I sort of peripherally knew that knitting podcasts were a thing.  And now I actually can't remember what prompted me to check them out and start listening.  It might have been something on one of my blogs, or that I saw on Ravelry.  Who knows?   The point is, I started listening and then bullied badgered convinced Koren and Jess to listen too.

And we started thinking about the conversations we have most Friday nights.  What are you working on?  What are you reading? What have you finished? What do you think of this pattern?  Hey, that designer has her patterns on sale... that sort of thing.

And then somebody made a joke about podcasting and how we should do it.  And someone else pointed out that she sounds like a 12 year old girl who's been caught sucking helium again when she's on tape (she actually said "on tape" because she is old).   Then someone else pointed that the second someone was ridiculous.   The conversation sort of devolved at that point.

But the idea of the "Not-a-Podcast" was born.  We occasionally sit down to a bit of semi-structured talk about what we're making, what we're watching and reading, and what's got us excited.  It's a great way to keep excited about our crafting lives, and it's really fun.

This past Friday there was a plague in two of our houses, so we decided to cancel Friday night. But Koren very cleverly pointed out that there was no reason we couldn't still Not-a-Podcast if we got on Google Hangouts.

So we very seriously set up a Google doc for our show notes, and proceeded to have a delightful time.  There were a few initial technical hiccups, but all in all it was a great success.  I may or may not have started out by saying, "Welcome to Episode 1 of Yarny Tonkin'.  I'm Bekah, also known as ... Bekah."  A bit of an homage to the KnitGirllls there.

No.  We aren't really going to do a podcast.   But if we did, we'd totally call it "Yarny Tonkin'".

A quick update on what's on my needles this week -- I'm 14% done with Lilli Pilli (why yes, I do have a spreadsheet, why do you ask?)  That's about 32 garter stripes into the first section.

I have a bit more to do, and then it's on to the first lace section.  I can't wait to add in the orange.

And then I started a hat for 25000 Toques -- a group that is organizing hand knit hats to give to Syrian refugees in Canada.  I think it's a lovely thing. Check it out, if you've a mind to.

I'm making Barley out of the yarn leftover from Rowan's Bankhead hat (good news on that front -- it fit and he likes it.  Much better than last year's hat attempt).  For some reason I cannot for the life of me get a color-accurate picture of this yarn.  It's actually a very pretty olive green.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Setting Intentions, 2016 Edition

Every New Year I think about what I want from and for the coming year.  Health, productivity, a clean house, specific projects I'd like to accomplish, that sort of thing.  I've got a lot of ambition for 2016, and I'm ready to start making it happen.  

On New Year's Day as I sat with three of the best people I know, I closed the books on one or two things.

Where Dwell the Brave at Heart
I knit Wee Weasley sweaters for the family for Christmas this year.  And predictably enough I finished all of them but the one intended for me (I figured I could always make mine later, right?  It's not like I was surprising myself.)   Koren and Rhiannon both very wisely pointed out that if I didn't cast the thing on and finish it though, and if I didn't do it right now while I still have the pattern memorized, well... I never would.  

Dang, That's a Lot of Ravenclaws
I also finished the toe on my Halloween sock (yeah, I know.  But I'd already finished my Christmas pair, and Halloween comes every year.)

I finished projects that were lingering, and projects that were intended for no purpose but my happiness.   

In 2016, may I finish what I start, even when it isn't new and exciting anymore, and may I remember to pursue my own joy.

So, a few projects cast off and completed, I moved on to beginning new things.

I cast on the second Halloween sock, because while I could wear one Halloween sock and one Christmas sock and call it good... I'm not going to.

I still love that orange stripe.
I also cast on an entirely brand new project.  An ambitious project, one that calls for around twelve hundred yards of fingering weight yarn in some of my very favorite colors.   I'll be knitting the Lilli Pilli shawl by Ambah O'Brien as my Potions OWL in the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup.

I'm only just begun, and I'm looking forward to working on it over the next few months.  Since I'm doing it as part of an online game with other knitters, I have an externally imposed deadline that will help me keep this from languishing.

In 2016, may I continue to work towards completing what's already begun, while still looking forward to the next wonderful opportunity.  May I know myself well enough to find solutions, games, and motivations that will help me succeed in everything I attempt.

So Say We All.

Crafting Goals for 2016

I don't do resolutions.  While there is certainly societal pressure to be resolute in January, there is surely just as much pressure to categorically fail in February.  I'd just as soon skip all that.  So while I don't have any resolutions to share with you, I do have some goals.

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 (if you have a Ravelry account, you can see my 2015 finished projects here).  So essentially my goal is to carry on grooving.

In 2016, I intend to complete 16 pairs of socks.  (This idea was totally ripped off of inspired by Mediapuruana. I'm not actually playing along other than in spirit.)  Socks that were on the needles in 2015 count, so long as they are finished in 2016.  So my current standing is 1/16.  Woot!

In 2016, I will limit my yarn purchases to festivals, shows, and the two yarn clubs I'm currently enrolled in ('s sock box, and the Erin Lane Indie Yarn Carnival, in case you were wondering.)   Jess, Koren, and I are making plans to go Yarny Tonkin' in Nashville at some point this year.  For my purposes that counts as a festival (I bet there will be sushi involved), but I only get to do this once.   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. Also, I'm about out of room.

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

My Circles to Squares Afghan, which is about 50% complete.

My Cosy Stripe Afghan, also at 50%.

And my Knitting in Red Shawl.  I estimate I'm around 65 - 70% on this one.

This one has a lot of Intention in it, and I've left it to linger for far too long.  I've already begun working on it again, and it feels good to put some new and fresh energy into it.

What are your Intentions and Goals for 2016?