How do you use your Ravelry queue?

The Ravelry queue system seems pretty simple: if you see something you’d like to make, you put it in your queue. Then later, when you’re ready to make a new thing, you look through the queue, choose something, and away you go.

But… how do you decide what goes in? Do you ever take stuff out without making it? How often do you change the order? How do you find things? One of the knitting photo challenges reminded me recently that everyone does it differently.

I joined Ravelry in 2011. When I first joined, I didn’t know how to knit (only crochet) and was doing a lot of amigurumi toys and baby presents, so I used my favourites for stuff I’d made and wanted to make again, and used my queue for everything else. I’d get an idea in my head and queue 15 similar patterns while I decided on one. I’d queue piles of free-this-week patterns in case I saw the perfect yarn. I’d queue stuff for technique ideas. I’d queue stuff because I liked the photography. And I never-hardly-ever triaged the queue.

My crafting has changed a lot since 2011: I learned to knit and I started mostly making stuff for myself to wear and hardly ever repeat a pattern. (It’s not that I have a problem with doing that;’it’s just that there are so many beautiful things and so little time!) My skills have changed, my stash has changed, I’ve changed climates twice… Plus Ravelry has added features and I’ve learned to use more of them, so I have a different toolbox than I started with.

[Picture: climate change. This is what passes for a cold winter here. Hah! 🇨🇦]

I don’t want to say that I’ve been using my queue incorrectly, I can definitely say that the way I’d been using it wasn’t working well for me anymore. It was time to clean up. But there were probably 600 things in there! It was daunting.

Since I’ve been in “finish all the stuff in progress” mode for months, though, I decided it was time. I could redirect my urge to start new things by instead planning out some stuff for the year, and clean things up before the yarn crawl so I had an idea of what I needed to buy. It’s been weirdly but pleasantlty cathartic.

It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve gone from 600ish down to well under 200, and I’m expecting to make it down under 100. That’s still probably 10 years of knitting at my current rate, so I’ll likely never finish even my shortened queue. But that’s never bothered me; what bothered me was not being able to find things quickly (when I was trying to justify my yarn purchases or figure out if I needed more of something).

You made it this far; have a peek at my new queue:

I’ve got a mix of old and new, but heavy on the new. That’s expected with all those changes in tastes and skills, and the pure excitement of new pattern releases. I haven’t bothered with precise ordering, but stuff on the first page is stuff I’ve been finding yarn for and stuff I could cast on any time.

Funniest find: I queued a hat pattern back in 2015 that gave me a jolt when I found it because I recognised the name… A colleague from work who I only met last year! I’ll have to tell her. I might even still knit it!

Most popular designer in my queue: pdxknitterati has the most patterns on my first page but a lot of tincanknits sweaters survived the cull and are hiding in the later pages because I’m still choosing next winter’s toddler sweater. I probably won’t knit them all, although toddler sweaters *are* addictively fast compare to adult ones.

Here’s the yarn that I’m currently planning for pdxknitterati’s Lucky Star design:

But I also have yarn ordered for her Oregon Sky design in Knitted Wit’s Glow Up collection *and* I have yarn (but not yet beads) for her Garland Shawl. That one actually *wasn’t* in my queue — I thought it had been for years, but apparently I’d queued a pile of her other designs but that one was stored only in my head. I hadn’t even bought the pattern though I could have sworn I had. Weird! It’s in the queue now. Her similarly-shaped Fern Lace Shawelette remains the piece I wear the most out of everything I’ve knit. If you met me at a conference in the past however many years since I knit it, there’s a good chance you’ve seen me in it. It’s even in many of the videos of me speaking, beause it’s *perfect* for holding the mic in the right position for me. I think it’s even in the clip of me in the Google Summer of Code video!

Stash diving win: I’ve had this stunner from Fierce Fibers since last year’s yarn crawl. It’s got yak in it, it’s a beautiful subtle shift and I wanted a pattern that would make it sing. I think I’ve finally got one: the Whakairo Cowl. I’m a bit worried about the (super soft, amazing) halo messing with the stitch definition so I might not make it past the first 20 rows, but I’m hopeful!

Most technical? It might be Toph or Dreamcatcher, both of which use some short row stuff i haven’t done before. But I have a feeling that I haven’t found the most technical one yet in my queue triage, because I haven’t found that time I tried to find the most fancy plant-inspired brioche I could.

Most excited about? Seriously, it’s just about everything on that first page. Spilling into the second. This has been a great diversion from casting on All The Things, but it certainly hasn’t lessened the urge at all!

Biggest lie? I keep saying I’m not casting on right now, but two of those things on the first page have knit a longs starting this week, so I’m probably going to cast *something* on by this weekend and wind yarn for a second. Good thing that just like with my queue, I get to change the rules of what I’m doing when I think it suits me better.

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2019

This year’s Rose City Yarn Crawl was something of a disappointment to me. Not because it wasn’t a good weekend, but my husband booked a conference on top of the crawl (after promising not to do that, he looked at the website before it was updated properly and got the wrong dates, so it was as disappointing to him as to me), my friend who usually visits for the crawl couldn’t make it this year, and while I had two most excellent friends visit from Seattle and help with the toddler-wrangling, the Dread Pirate was not really interested in letting me look at more than one or two displays before he wanted my full attention. I didn’t even manage to finish my mystery knit-a-long in time to wear it on the crawl!

In the end, I hit three stores and got some pretties and escaped with a slightly miffed baby and bemused friends, and all in all it went well, it just wasn’t what I wanted. I feel kind of weird feeling dissatisfied about what was frankly a pretty nice weekend with friends visiting, but I guess sometimes you just feel the way you feel. Anyhow, here’s my pretties:

My three stores were Twisted, where I got the Hazel Knits yarn (intended for one of the Elemental hats, probably Toph); Knotty Lamb, where I got the little Sweet Georgia rainbow cube and the Twill & Print progress keeper/stitch marker “yarn bomb”; and For Yarn’s Sake where I picked up a Knitted Wit gradient sixlet to make pdxknitterati’s Lucky Star Shawl pattern (which I’ve wanted to do since I saw it).

I also hit up Black Sheep for my usual knitting group, and they’re having a 30% off store closing sale (I’m so sad, but they’ll stay open online) and picked up skein of Teresa Ruch tencel that… I’m not sure what it’ll be but I need another summer shawl and I wear my other tencel stuff All The Time once it gets warm. I picked up a few skeins of Scrumptious the week before, and I’ll pick up a few more things this weekend I imagine.

However, I did finish the MKAL after the fact, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out! You’ve already seen clue 1, so here’s the rest.

Clue 2 (now we change directions):

Clue 3 (omg, a new colour appears!):

Clue 4 (ooh, lace time):

Clue 5: finished! I added a contrast bind-off because I didn’t feel like playing yarn chicken. I probably would have been fine, but I knew I was tight on yarn so I’d been planning to do it anyhow, and after seeing some finished shawls on the crawl and on social media, I was convinced it was the way to go. And it was! It really kicks the lace up a notch, I think, especially while worn:

And here’s a more full-shawl shot so you can see the glory that is the full design. This was a Romi Hill design and I hear she does some other fun mystery knits, so I might have to see about taking part in another of hers. But not any time soon! I’m still digging out from my half-finished projects.

It would have been nice to have it done to wear on the crawl, but this is definitely going to get plenty of wear anyhow. And it was fun to knit!

So, despite my personal disappointment, I had a good time and … well, at least I didn’t spend too much money on yarn this year?

Work in progress week!

I made myself an “art project” on Instagram, so I’m cutting and pasting here because I want a copy of my own data. This was supposed to go out the same week I posted the pictures, but I accidentally locked myself out of the web server with the WordPress app and then we all got the plague. I’m scheduling this for later… In fact, I’ve already finished one of these projects since this was written!

Work in progress week! I’ve got an unusually high number of projects on the go so I’m going to try to document them (as part of my “document better” fiber resolution for this year). This is my unfinished @littleboxofcrochet advent calendar. I knew when I got it that it wouldn’t be finished in 2018 because of travel in December and I’m looking forwards to using these as palette cleansers between bigger projects this year.

Work in progress week: day 2. My current project, the @rosecityyarncrawl #mkal . Clue 4 just came out so I’m very behind: this is clue 1! I’ve done a few rows since then but missed both my usual knit groups this week so progress is slow.

Work in progress week day 3: Cascadial Wrap. I saw this pattern knit up at the yarn show I went to in Quebec and took a picture of the tag (the yarns were lovely but the booth didn’t have colours for me) and then when I went to @oregonflockandfiberfest I saw kits that were totally in colours I’d wear and decided it was meant to be.

This was my Christmas holidays travel piece knit while i was visiting family, though I also made a hat for the Dread Pirate because it was cold and he needed a thicker one. (He hated it, of course, because he hates everything you try to put on his head.) It was a *great* travel pattern; interesting enough to watch it grow, but repetitive enough that i could do it in low light, while chatting, while being a warm napping surface for said toddler, etc. Looking forwards to getting back to it!

Pattern by @remadebyhand
Yarn from @elementalfiberworks

Work in progress week day 4: My Flickering Light shawl visits the Hobbit holes on the movie set in New Zealand!

This is a fun pattern but those elongated stitches proved to be too enticing to my toddler, so my vision of getting this all done on the trip didn’t work out and it’s unfinished. But it was *perfect* for the long drive out to the Shire! Hopefully it’ll get finished in my toddler-free knitting time (mostly at knit group).

Pattern: Flickering Light by @paperdaisycreations
Yarn: kit from @spacecadetyarn (and oh, the squish is lovely)
Bag fabric from @firesidetxtls

Work in progress week day 5: the backup sock. For the past several trips (Ottawa, Scotland, New Zealand) I’ve had a ball of sock yarn and needles handy in case I ran out of knitting. I didn’t run out of knitting, but with my toddler liking the other shawl a bit too much, out came the simpler backup sock and after all that travel, it finally got cast on in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Pattern: Sundae socks by @shannonsq (though I think I subbed in the heel from her Spare Time socks)

Yarn: @knit_picks felici in “time traveller” (inspired by the dr who scarf but with fewer colours) — goes well with my camera strap!

Bag: @tombihn organizer pouch I’m calling my “baby safe” because the clip I added through the zipper pull keeps my toddler out. (Someone in the forum mentioned these locking clips for pickpockets and they’re great for toddlers!)

Work in progress week day 6, my Tosh Shawl Club from @jimmybeanswool. I was so good at staying on top of this until my trip to Scotland, whereupon I never caught up. But it’s a really fun pattern with lots of texture and it was neat getting mystery yarns year round for 2018. I’ll catch up on this one soon; there’s a few months worth left but they’re small balls.

Pattern: Tosh Shawl Club
Yarn: @madelinetosh
Narwhal bag from @twinklentwilight

Work in progress week, day 7: British Invasion kit. This is a neat sampler of British wool with a simple cowl pattern. I honestly don’t remember when this was started: i think maybe one of several trips to the Seattle area this fall, though it’s possible it was the backup kit for my summer Ottawa trip. I clearly didn’t get very far! But it’s not the cowl, it’s just the way my fall went.

Pattern: Mosaic Tiles cowl
Yarn: British Invasion sampler from @jimmybeanswool
Bag: I think this was the first fabric I got from @firesidetxtls’ Patreon

And that’s the last of my #wipweek ! I have a few more works in progress around (my unfinished Poca sweater will be back on the needles soon enough) but I think 7 is enough for now.

Yarn Indulgences mini a month subscription!

I had a great time with last year’s Tosh Shawl Club yarn subscription from Jimmy Beans, but decided to try something new this year rather than renewing.

This is https://www.yarnindulgences.club/. My first shipment finally arrived on February 21. (It shipped on Feb 11, I subscribed January 1st.)

When it arrived, my first thought upon seeing the plain white envelope it came in was “wow, that’s flat!”

Opening it up showed what I expected from the form factor: vacuum sealed yarn. How clever! I figure that’s how they can afford to send me posh yarn from Ontario for only $10. Shipping cost $1.80! I don’t know why January’s came near the end of February — I’m guessing it’s when it was dyed as opposed to when I get it?

It puffs up perfectly once opened and inside is some really soft hand-dyed cashmere/merino/nylon. I can’t wait to try it out! I’m thinking maybe some stained glass style colourwork in a hat? Maybe wait to see if it goes with next month’s mini? I don’t know but I’m going to pare down my active projects a bit first.

I gather they will rotate bases so I’ll get to try out their other options. This is great, since I sat in their booth at the yarn show we went to in Quebec and suffered such decision paralysis that I wound up not buying anything! Well, it wasn’t just decision paralysis; I also had to limit my shopping so it would fit in my luggage and I’d already fallen in love with some other yarn in another booth, but if I’d made a decision I would have been able to fit a mini!

Still, maybe then I would have been satisfied and not looked them up on the Internet and never subscribed to https://www.yarnindulgences.club/

So, uh, win?

One of the reasons I decided not to do the Tosh Shawl Club again is that I was tired of the single ply Tosh Merino Light, though, so I’m excited that my first package isn’t single ply as well as that it’s super extra squishy and wonderful.

Compare with my last package from Jimmy Beans:

Definitely more flat.

Comparing with the other $10/month subscriptions I’ve tried:

Yarn of the month: 2-3 swatch sized samples (maybe 20 yds each for a total around 40-80 yards?), Swatch patterns, one full sized pattern. Huge variety of yarns many of which I’ve not seen elsewhere.

(The company has changed hands so this has changed a lot since I was a subscriber.)

Jimmy Beans beanie bags: 3-4 swatch-sized samples (so around 60-80 yards total?), small project pattern for actual yarn (knit+crochet options, typically coffee cup cozy sized). Reusable zippered pouch. Small notion (eg, ruler, yarn needle). 5% back every quarter, so the $10/month is sort of $9.50. More familiar yarn brands.

(This one’s changed a lot since I was a subscriber too.)

Jimmy Beans Tosh Shawl Club: 80 yards of Tosh Merino Light (single ply, hand dyed, exclusive), year long mystery shawl pattern to go with yarn. Same deal with the cashback. No extras, though their cardboard shipping boxes are solid enough that we’re reusing them for small electronics projects.

(This one’s changed a bit this year, but not as much as the other two)

Yarn Indulgences mini-a-month: 100 yards hand dyed on their different bases, which look pretty nice! No pattern, no regular extras. (They say they might do that occasionally.) $10/month but prepaid subscriptions get a discount, so I got a year’s worth for $110, equivalent to $9.17/box.

Each one has its strengths, but this new one definitely wins for most yarn! This is what i wanted because I’m hoping to spark some creativity with mini skeins and maybe do some pattern creation over the year.

Rose city yarn crawl – Mystery knit a long clue 1

I’m not what one would call a monogamous knitter: that is, I don’t do one project at a time. But things have gotten a little out of hand because I start a new project with every trip, and I’ve had a lot of trips since the fall with not enough time in between to finish things. So my normal “one bigger/more challenging at home, one for in my purse” has ballooned to… I don’t know, maybe 7-9 projects?

It’s a bit silly of me to start a mystery knit a long, especially when I’m probably not even going to get to do the full yarn crawl this year (J is traveling, my friend who usually comes down to visit can’t make it this year, and I’m not up to toddler wrangling through 11 incredibly busy stores on my own. I’m planning maybe 2-3?). But I was watching from afar (literally: reading the Ravelry threads from New Zealand) and people were saying that this year’s knit was challenging and had unusual construction, and I was curious enough to try.

I managed to get my yarns out of my stash:

The gold colour is what I chose for colour 1. I love this yarn so much. This was an impulse buy at Knotty Lamb maybe during last year’s crawl, and it’s from Farmer’s Daughter yarns.

Colour 2 is Madeline Tosh and I might not have enough of it, but I liked the two together so much that if i have to bind off in colour 1 to make this work, so be it. I picked up that one at I think Knit Purl (now closed) a few years ago in the crawl.

As promised, some interesting construction. Can you see the yarn overs at the edges?

And here’s Clue 1 complete to those last two stitches:

I’d never done a “reverse” icord bind off!

And then on to picking back up for clue 2… Clue 3 is already out, so I’m quite behind! But, life, toddler, and if you look in the back of that photo, I’m learning pcb design too. Sometimes the must amazing thing about being an adult is that I hardly ever have to be bored!

Steeking success!

Cutting your knitting is scary, but I did it and survived!

I tried out two other new things in the process: Studio Donegal “Darnie” fingering” which is an Irish-made yarn that was perfect for this. So many rich colours, really “toothy” for nice colourwork. I honestly wasn’t sure I’d like it, because it’s a bit stiff feeling until it’s washed (and oh does it bloom beautifully) but it feels satisfying to work with in a way I can’t quite articulate. I might have to plan out a fancy colourwork sweater now that I know I love knitting with it.

Second new thing: those flexible double pointed needles. They’ve been available everywhere but since I mostly do magic loop on circular needles, I hadn’t tried them. But this was a needle size where I didn’t have needles I loved, so I gave it a shot. Not bad at all! I don’t mind dpns but with a curious toddler around they’re a hazard. But sometimes magic loop is a pain in small gauge. I’ve found a hat pattern using this size to try next!

Ready to cut. I borrowed those scissors but i covet my own now.

Cutting!

And blocked on the mug:

Success!

I’ve got enough yarn to do it again, and next time I’m going to do a few things differently: I want a sightly wider icord and I need to catch more of the edge into the sewn part. I had to use a felting needle to push in some errant strands, which is no big deal but makes me think I need a bit more rolled into that edge. I’ve got enough yarn to do a second cup cozy, so I’ll definitely do that before attempting a steeked sweater, but I do think I will try a sweater eventually!

2019 Fiber Goals

I think these past few years of setting fiber goals has been fun, so here’s what I’m thinking for this year:

  1. Learn steeking. I’ve already signed up for a class in January so hopefully this one will be easy! It’s been on my to-learn list for a while.
  2. Document better. I haven’t been good about this since February last year, which not coincidentally is when I went back to work. I take pictures but haven’t been blogging or updating Ravelry. And I’ve got two patterns that I could maybe release this year, if I ever write them up.
  3. Finish another sweater. I’ve got one for me started but hibernating since early fall, and I’d like to do another toddler one. Plus I have others planned!
  4. Play with mini skeins. I’ve swapped out my yarn subscription for the year to one that’s monthly mini skeins with no project, and I want to play with designing for them. Maybe I’ll finally make that Christmas in July advent calendar I keep thinking about? (I know someone who might be willing to work on it with me so I’ve got to knit up some designs asap!)

Here’s to a new year!

2018 fiber goals: how did I do?

Last year, I set myself some fiber goals for 2018. So, how did I do?

2018 goals:

  1. Use more of my project kits
  2. More amigurumi!
  3. Spin the neat fiber kit Kathy got me
  4. Organize the stash

2018 Results:

1. Project kit success! I made up a beanie bag, started a cowl kit (but haven’t finished that one), and bought and started a Cascadial Wrap kit. Plus I mostly kept up with my Shawl Club subscription. I guess new kits don’t solve my pileup problem, but they make me happy and it’s nice to see that investing in pretty kits is a good thing to keep doing.

Cascadial Wrap:

Shawl club:

2. Amigurumi success! I made the baby Dread Pirate Potato an elephant that lives in his travel toy bag, a dino that lives at home, a pumpkin, and started an amigurumi advent calendar that will be my decorations next year.

Elephant:

Dinosaur:

Pumpkin:

Advent:

3. Fiber fail? I didn’t touch the kit, but I *did* do some pretty spinning and dyeing so I don’t feel so bad about it. Turns out the Dread Pirate loves my spinning wheel, which is great because I can leave it set up and he’ll touch it and enjoy it, but it’s hard to get time to use it myself. I’m going to have to work on a habit for next year.

Dye and spin experiment:

4. Stash success! I got most of the yarn into organized boxes other than the worsted and sock yarn I peruse regularly for inspiration. I managed to use more older yarn this year because it turns out I select based on squishing and comparing. So the stash has become better inspiration — something I really thought deeply about because I read A Stash of One’s Own this year. Total win!

Partway through organization:

There’s a row on the bottom that’s fabric boxes full of fabric, kits, and some recent purchases.

Appropriate current state:

More baby proof! It needs smaller labels.

Decoration/closeup:

Summary:

3/4 clear wins isn’t bad and I think my dye and spin experiment filled a similar niche to the fiber kit I didn’t touch, so I feel like I kept some spinning up even if I did it a different way. I think the yarn kits were a good fit for me, and the stash re-org got me in shape so that my office in nearly toddler friendly, and it helped me find treasures.

I’m still figuring out what I’ll strive for in 2019. Maybe this year is the year of the fingering weight sweater? Try the spinning set again? I’ve already got plans to take a steeking class so maybe that’s the easy goal #1!

Craftvent 2017

Advent calendars aren’t a big part of my childhood, but I liked the idea of getting little presents all through December, and since I’d intentionally cut back on gift knitting, I had time to do a mystery-a-long, so I bought into Jimmy Beans’ Craftvent.

It’s a nice kit, filled with knitting tools (including needles and everything else in the photo above) and enough yarn for the mystery shawl. Well, MAYBE enough yarn for the shawl; a lot of people ran out of yarn #2.

I didn’t run out, though it was close! Unfortunately, the upset over yarn shortages and the posting of spoilers made the Facebook group they made for the kal super angry and not fun until jbw realized they had a problem and laid out ground rules. I don’t think Facebook is really designed to deal with spoilers, and they should have stuck with Ravelry, which has tools and conventions about spoiler and no spoiler threads that would have really improved the experience.

I liked the pattern ok. There was not much mystery for the middle clues, but since the yarns were also part of the mystery that didn’t bother me as much as it might have. (Picture above in grey to show that there is a subtle difference between yarn 1 and 3)

It’s a lousy time of year for me to have a calendar based thing going, so I started opening boxes early, which made me more chill about spoilers at least.

I didn’t finish before Dec 25th rolled by, but that’s ok.

It was a pretty busy season!

And I did get it done before I left Ottawa and blocked after I got home.

It’s gotten me thinking a lot about designing a similar “Christmas in July” advent out of season, so it hits at a less busy time of year. It’d be a neat way to showcase some yarn from my local yarn store, but i think I’d want a lower price point so it’d have to be a bit lighter on the goodies. Maybe I’ll try to design a simple scarf and see if I could make it work!

As for doing the jbw Craftvent again, I’m not sure. It’s fun and I have no regrets (except maybe for joining the fb group) but I think i might try one that’s all yarn or use the same amount of money to get surprise yarns at a time of year when I can appreciate them more.

Still, it was a fun thing to do this year!

Stitch markers

Here are some stitch markers I made to go with my 5 shawls in 5 days, because sometimes I like to have new pretties for a project. These are simple to make if you have the right tools: snip off a short bit of thin necklace wire, curve in half, place both ends through your chosen beads, then crimp an end bit in to hold them on. Snip any wire that’s sticking out the end. (And be careful not to get it in anyone’s eye!) Done! I probably spent more time playing with the photo processing overlays than I did making the stitch markers themselves!

Laser engraved toy dog collars

Yup, you read that right.

I have a Glowforge laser cutter/engraver that had so many delays in manufacturing that it wound up arriving when I was 9 months pregnant. So it hasn’t gotten quite as much use as I’d planned, but I did use it for some holiday presents! And then I forgot to take pictures of most of them. But I did take pictures of these!

I picked up these puppies at a toy store downtown, and wanted to customize them. I did some quick measurements and used the leather that came with the machine, so it was already prepped.

The idea was that these should be removable so they could also be used as bracelets (or just removed entirely if the kids didn’t like them), so I put in snaps. Or rather, I should say that I put in one snap, then was so frustrated with the second one that I begged J for help and even he had trouble getting it to sit securely in the leather. Next time, I buy heavier duty snaps instead of pretty ones!

Still, I like how they turned out, and the pups themselves are cute. Next time I go by the leather store, I might get some heavier snaps and make myself a ruler bracelet!

Pi shawl: 5 shawls 5 days challenge

Day 5 is the pi shawl, which I’ve always kind of wanted to try because of the name, but I hadn’t gotten around to it until this day!

After the square shawl, I decided to try a circular cast on with a crochet hook. It felt a lot like magic loop for knitting, and I liked it a lot more. I also knit with a circular needle, which is awkward to start but ok once it got big enough. Still, it did look funny when it was in progress:

It did block out, though!

Bind off is Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, for somewhat obvious reasons when you see the stretch in the blocking.

Yarn: Rowan Super Fine Merino DK, also from that Feb 2016 beanie bag. My goodness, this is the roundest of round yarns. The construction of this is what the network engineer in me wants to call twisted pairs, but in yarn it’s a cable construction (network cable, clearly). It is soft and lovely and so nice to knit with. Would definitely use again.

I did run out before the pattern was done, so I subbed in some pink yarn (leftover from the medallion hat, blue sky fibers of some sort, I think?) but then when that was running out I realized there wasn’t much more for me to learn by doing the whole thing so I just didn’t. Kinda like how it went with my math homework when they stopped checking it so I stopped doing it as a teen. (I think it dropped my grades by 2% and I decided I could live with that. Who knows what I’ll do when my kid is old enough to have homework…)

Square Shawl: 5 shawls 5 days challenge

Day 4 was a square shawl. I don’t think I’d done a piece from the center like that, and I didn’t like the giant hole left by casting on 4 and joining, so I tightened it up some after casting off. I did this on double points which was pretty finicky especially with a sleeping baby on my lap. Not sure if I should blame the uneven yarn over sizes on the double points or the baby, but I’m not going to worry about them.

I did an icord bind off again, because I was curious how it would look and it was one of the recommended ones when I did a search for square bind offs. I like it on this little swatch, though I can see why people cast on conditionally and graft. I faked it and it looks ok to me, though!

Yarn is Knit Picks Diadem (if I remember the name correctly). This is leftover from a mystery cowl I did and it’s not my favourite because it doesn’t travel well on my bag. (It felts itself into knots.) However, I only have small double points and this was smaller than the dk sized sampler bag I was using. And more importantly, this stuff is soft, so it was a texture cleanser after day 3’s terrible yarn. Mmm, silk alpaca.

Asymmetrical Triangle shawl: 5 shawls 5 days challenge

Day 3’s shawl is an asymmetric triangle shape. I like this one’s particular slip stitch/yarn over edging.

Yarn: Rowan Colorspun. This is a mohair-wool-polyamide blend, also from the Feb 2016 beanie bag and I hated it so much. To me, it felt like I was getting splinters in the sides of my fingers while I knit. I’m usually ok with mohair, so it might be the wool part of the blend that was the problem. End result: I couldn’t even bring myself to finish knitting up the sample.

Texture aside, it’s an interesting homespun lumpy blend with some subtle colour. But that texture was just too awful for me.

Comparing the remaining yarn on my 3 samples:

Crescent Shawl: 5 shawls 5 days challenge

Day 2 is a crescent shawl, a familiar shape with an increase that’s unusual for me, and I’m not sure I’ve ever used it in an edging like this. The garter tab looks jarring on such a small piece, though I hardly notice those on larger shawls.

Unblocked:

I added an icord bind off because I couldn’t remember trying one before. It’s a nice edge, but feels weird on a shawl where I’d normally go at least a bit lacey or pointy. I can see using it on a sweater or maybe even a scarf, though, so I’m glad to have it in my repertoire.

Blocking:

Yarn is Rowan baby merino silk dk, a pretty heathered merino silk blend from the same Feb 2016 beanie bag. It’s more slippery in the ball than knit up, but it is still lush. I’m a sucker for silk blends so no surprise that I like this one.

I managed to split it a bit in the bind off (likely because I was doing it in dim light with a cranky baby Potato who didn’t want to sleep, no fault of the yarn) but other than that my own poor choices, this was great to knit with. I would definitely use this again.

Blocked:

Triangle shawl: 5 shawls 5 days challenge

I’m trying out the 5 shawls 5 days challenge as a way to practice some shawl construction, since I had to experiment a bunch in a hurry when I was designing the flax shawl for my sister. Also, this is a nice excuse to use some of the yarn samples I never tried from my yarn subscription, so I can tick off an item on this year’s fiber goals.

It started in Monday, but I’ll be posting a day late so I can block my samples and try to get a photo in better light. Here’s a blocking photo in bad light:

Day 1 was a triangle shawl. It’s a pretty familiar shape, though probably not the one I’ve done most often. I put a picot edging on mostly to use up yarn (and as an experiment to see how much the picot edging needed — this was about 3x a regular row’s worth)

Yarn: Rowan Tweed. This is a very solid dk yarn. I like the rustic look, but I’m less excited about the feel, which is itchy. I didn’t mind knitting with it, but it wouldn’t be great for the worn-by-the-face shawls that I make most. It’d be great for a cabled purse or something, though.

This sample came with the February 2016 little beanie bag (I’m not sure there even was a big one then?) and was intended for a cup cozy, which would have been a good fit for this yarn. Alas, as I burn my tongue easily and prefer my drinks lukewarm, I’ve never had much use for cup cozies, so this beanie bag languished in my stash. It had 4 samples, so that will cover most of this week’s mini shawls.

Beeswax hat for Grandma

I didn’t do much gift knitting this year because I didn’t have much time with an infant, but I always try to make something for my Grandma. I know she appreciates that I’m thinking of her, not just in the moment of gifting but in the weeks or months that it takes for me to make something.

This year’s gift was a pattern I’d wanted to try for a while, and then it was on sale as part of the “indie gift a long” event where independent designers put patterns on sale before xmas and they give out prizes for people who post the things they’ve made. It’s pretty fun.

Pattern: Beeswax hat by Amy van de Laar

Yarn: Knit Picks Capra

This is not only a pretty pattern, but a very nicely written one with charts and written instructions and tips on a method of doing small cables without a cable needle in a way I hadn’t tried and it turns out I really prefer it. So it’s no exaggeration to say this pattern has changed the way i knit for the better!

I hope it keeps Grandma toasty and warm!

I liked this pattern so much that I promptly made one for myself. It’s a bit too big after blocking, though, so J may get it for Canadian winter protection next year. It was -12C out this December and we were wishing for better ear coverage!

Flax necklace

I made this necklace for my sister’s birthday. It was a bit of an in-joke present: We play Guild Wars 2 together, and last year she decided to get us all to do a challenge really intended for a much larger group. Long story short: she spent months gathering in-game flax, with the rest of us helping when we could, and we spent many hours chatting while gathering flax.

To commemorate this, I made her two things from real-life flax. This necklace was the first and the easier one, since I didn’t make up the pattern.

Pattern: Mother’s Day 2016 Necklace
Yarn: some round flax-cotton blend. (I’d have to look it up, and blogging time is at a premium.)

I did add some beads, but otherwise it’s as written. A nice pattern!

Posted in Uncategorized.

2018 Fiber Goals: Kits, amigurumi, spinning, and organizing.

Earlier, I posted about how I did on my fiber goals for 2017. Overall, I’d say I was pretty successful!

I’ve been thinking a bit about what I’d like for this year, and here’s my list:

  1. Use more of my project kits.
    • I still have quite a few Beanie Bags I never got around to, plus the big blanket-a-long from last year that I got stalled on. I think a few easy kits might be a good thing this year. I should probably set a number to aim for here, but I’m not sure what it should be. 4, maybe, at least one per quarter, with a month of blanket-a-long counting as 1?
  2. More amigurumi!
    • Baby Potato is getting into soft toys, so I’d like to make him some more before he tires of them. Especially since I’ve made so many for other people’s kids but none for him yet!
  3. Spin the neat fiber kit Kathy got me
    • My friend (and spinning teacher) made me a nice kit of different fibers to spin as a Momma gift, and I’m eager to try all the different breeds and blends out. If you want your own, I believe she’ll be selling them through Black Sheep
  4. Organize the stash
    • I’ve *finally* hit the point where I can’t just remember most of the yarn I have on hand, so it’s time to start cataloging or organizing so that I can find what I’ve got faster. Most of this goal is going to be spent on figuring out what works, I expect, especially as I physically move some stuff in my office to make it more toddler-friendly.

Some photos of the neat spinning supplies: look at all those fibers!

2017 Fiber Goals – how did I do?

One of the ravelry groups I follow had a thread on fiber goals for the year, so I chose a few that I thought would be fun. Here’s how they went!

2017 Fiber Goals

  1. Knit a “seamless” sweater this time (My Acorn Trail/Cardipalooza cardigan was pieced)
  2. Try some new types of needles.
  3. Knit more handspun. (Which is sort of a twofer goal, as it needs to be spun first!)
  4. Create and release more patterns. I did 1.5 in 2016 (The Pokeball pattern and the Triangle Hat one that needs a rework) so it’s not a high bar, but it marks a shift from “sometimes I write up stuff I do” to “I will try to keep good notes and take progress pictures and stuff.”

How did I do?

  1. Seamless Sweater: I made 3 seamless baby sweaters: Heartstrings and NAMEHERE from Heart on my Sleeve, Spotlight from Mad Colour. I was right: this suits me better, but it’s a bit harder to tell when we’re talking such small sized pieces. That said, there wasn’t much point in knitting for me as my body was changing shape regularly with pregnancy this year, but I’ve got plans for another cardigan for me in the future!
  2. New needle types: I tried out:
    • Short Interchangables (Caspian shorts from KnitPicks). Actually, I might have gotten these in late 2016. I’d gotten them just for my hat obsession, but it turns out I pretty much prefer them always. I assume it’s because I have relatively small hands, but they fit across my palms in a more satisfying way than my regular size interchangeables. I even picked up a second set when they were 25% off this summer so that I could have a travel/backup set!
    • Carbon fiber double pointed needles. (I think I got the Karbonz from Knitter’s Pride although since I have since ditched the packaging I’m not completely sure.) These are great and a huge upgrade over my cheap ebay bamboo dpns. I don’t use dpns much, but I expect i’ll buy a few more sizes.
    • Square metal lace circular needle. Hah, that sounds like an oxymoron. But yeah, tried the square metal needles out. They are pleasant but not “omg I need more of these” (which is probably just as well as they were on clearance from my local yarn store and they don’t carry them any more). I suspect they will be more impressive on grippier fiber. I don’t really have many needles in size 3, so these will see some use regardless.
    • Acrylic – got some with a Big Beanie Bag but I haven’t tried them yet
  3. Knit more Handspun: I finally knit myself a hat with my purple handspun! That’s not a lot, but it’s more than I did the year before.

  4. More patterns up: Not really, but I did get one pattern up: Medallion Hat
    20170514-IMG_20170514_103425.jpg

So as far as Resolutions for 2017, I did 3/4 of them, and I’m willing to give myself a pass on the patterns thing because I wasn’t really expecting to start wanting to sleep 12h/day when I set my goals (although in hindsight, maybe I should have realized that pregnancy might hit me like that). Still, one pattern is better than no patterns, and I have notes for a bunch more sitting around!

And just for my own reference (so it’s not just on some ravelry board somewhere), here was 2016’s list and how I did last year:

2016 Fiber Goals

  1. Knit a sweater for myself (Done! That was Cardipalooza, which I still adore.)
  2. Practice colourwork (I made a bunch of hats. I also did my first two colour brioche project!)
  3. Learn some new skills (two colour brioche again, and I learned to spin!)
  4. Improve my stash for the things I make (My fiber tastes have changed and I didn’t have enough neutrals to pull from stash for anything but single skein projects. I filled in some gaps but it’s still a work in progress.)

The amusing part of this list was my “improving my stash” one, as most people resolve to buy less and use more stash, whereas I was really not at that point yet. I’m getting closer now, though — the project I cast on last night was from stash!

2018 Fiber Goals?

With Baby Potato, I think my goals for this year will have to be modest, but I’m not sure what they’ll be yet! Maybe it’s a good year for a very stockinette-y cardigan that I can knit while breastfeeding? I doubt it’ll be a great year for advanced techniques. Maybe I should just focus on a few specific patterns I want to try? Specific yarns? I’m going to think about it a bit and post when I’ve got a few things in mind!

Works in progress: late 2017

Turns out, in a surprise to no one, it’s a lot harder to blog with a baby! I’ve traded my “real” SLR camera for my phone 99% of the time, and my laptop is sitting neglected and whining that it hasn’t had backups for 57 days, which would be scary if it actually had any new data on it…

I can knit and use my phone while breastfeeding, though, so let’s talk about what I can do rather than what I can’t!

.. Like take baby butt selfies. While knitting. Mad skillz, yo.

Here’s the projects I had on the needles before Yanksgiving (thanks to my sister for this terrible portmanteau for American Thanksgiving):

That upper left one is a baby sweater that thankfully was mostly finished before J put it in the wash (but thankfully not the dryer!) . Haven’t taken new pictures, but I will once the ends get woven in better and the buttons get put on. It’s too big, but I tell myself he’ll grow into it. Like the other 3 sweaters I’ve already made for him. This was a “practice your intarsia” plus a “learn to knit while breastfeeding” item. It worked!

Next up, some pretty lace I started in the summer before I decided to make my sister a birthday shawl as a joke. I’ll write about that later. This is from Kelli Slack’s shawl book, and it fits the niche of “tiny complex project” for when I’m going to be knitting for a while. This… was a more important niche when I was waiting for baby Potato to arrive. I’ll finish it eventually, but it tends to get sidelined by the new hotness a lot.

Speaking of new hotness… This is the unihorn magic KAL. It’s my new easy travel knit, since complexity wasn’t what I wanted while visiting my inlaws or paying attention to baby Potato on the plane.

The little bag is the new travel cube from Tom Bihn, and it fit the niche of “tiny bag that fits knitting, wallet, passport and can be stuffed in the diaper bag when needed” so I am very satisfied.

The Historic Portland MKAL is also from Kelli Slack. I’m behind: clue 4 came out on Saturday and I’m less than halfway through clue 3, but I’ll probably finish this one soon. If I were to knit it again, I’d swap colours for every repeat instead of per section as described in the KAL instructions — one of the gals in my Saturday knitting group is doing hers with more colours and that also looks great. But I love the yarn and it’s so nicely charted that it feels easy and relaxing even though there’s a lot going on in there.

And one more MKAL: this is an advent calendar from Jimmy Beans Wool. It was a splurge, but I like the little gift every day. I don’t like the new facebook group so much because it’s been really intense about spoilers, so I think I’ll just post progress elsewhere and not engage. There have been some super cute notions, and even the needles came on day 2! Love the colourful stitch markers and that border!

I also have one gift to knit, but I changed my plan for it once I saw the indie gift along patterns, so I’m currently waiting for my yarn to arrive. Wish me luck finishing on time with all these other lovelies to work on!

Spinning in Purple

It was mostly too hot to spin this summer (and I was too tired due to pregnancy) but I did get one nice ball spun up.

Purple Spinning

In case you were wondering, there is also a skein that I spun for myself that hasn’t appeared on the blog yet. It’s a white silk-merino blend and beautiful to touch but uninspiring to photograph, so you may see it when it gets turned into something pretty or if I feel like a photographic challenge. But this yarn was more photogenic and matches one of my favourite shirts:

Purple Spinning

This is another hand-dyed piece from Kashmaier Creations. I think this was the BFL, although I seem to have piled my labels together in the bottom of my spinning bag so I’m not 100% sure. Kathy’s also been showing off all kind of neat experiments in dyeing and new fibers for her fall lineup. I’m so excited!

Purple Spinning

I haven’t done the full 4oz that I had, because I think this is going to be a hat. I’m really pleased with myself for not over-twisting this one so much. Should be ready to knit without much fuss when I get that hat started. I’m scheduling posts so long in advance (since I’m on leave right now) that it might even *be* a hat before this gets posted, to be honest!

Purple Spinning

I liked spinning this particular fiber quite a bit, possibly because I’d just come off spinning the much more fussy and messy white merino/silk blend. The BFL has long enough “hairs” to still be easy for me, and soft enough that I’m super excited about wearing the finished product, plus, of course, those colours really make it satisfying as you go. Trying out new spinning fibers has really helped me understand the architecture of yarn in a different way, and I think it’s made me a better knitter and better designer, as well as just someone who has a deeper appreciation for the craft. I know people often hesitate to take on new hobbies, but this one has given me so much more than just the ability to make my own yarn and I’m glad I invested the time and equipment into learning.

Willamette Falls Shawlette

Willamette Falls Shawlette

Pattern

Willamette Falls Shawlette by Shelia January from the 2015 Rose City Yarn Crawl collection. Note that there is errata for this one.

Unblocked:
Willamette Falls Shawlette

My project

My project on Ravelry

I added another section just before the end so that I’d use more of the gradient, because it seemed a shame to finish it early and I wanted the “waterfall” edging in white. I haven’t written up great pattern notes, but you can see the extra section in the photo below. It’s the one with the V shapes just before the waterfalls start.

Willamette Falls Shawlette

As it was, I just barely made it work:

Cast off and won at yarn chicken! 🐔 #knitting

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Yarn

Wollelfe Fingering Merino/Silk, 65% merino 35% silk.

This stuff is glorious, and less kinky than other gradient yarns so your knits look pretty decent even un-blocked. (I hear Fierce Fibers really has the straightest gradients, but I haven’t had a chance to knit one of hers up yet. There is one waiting in my stash, though!)

Wollefe Yarn

I’m a sucker for silk blends because of the softness, and this yarn definitely does not disappoint in the softness department. It was also easy to work with, has a really nice gradual gradient that appealed to me, and as one might expect, it’s a bit lighter than a pure merino which makes it a great weight for wearing in my office as the weather warmed up.

Willamette Falls Shawlette

Summary

This was a great spring knit for me after I got back from India and was very much enjoying Portland-style May weather. (Even February in India was too hot for my Canadian blood!) Beautiful yarn, interesting and varied pattern. I wanted to get some posed pictures with it by the waterfalls, but alas, a busy summer followed by the Eagle Creek fire devastating the Columbia River Gorge means I probably won’t get those for a while. Still, one day! In the meantime here’s an in-progress photo:

Lionberry Shawl

Here’s another project that’s become a new staple in my wardrobe!
Lionberry Shawl

The fuschia looks glorious with black or grey, and since a lot of my free tech shirts come in those colours, it works out to upgrade my look without replacing too many clothes. (Of course, I wear it with other colours too.) Here it is with a grey Carlsbad Caverns souvenir t-shirt:

Lionberry Shawl

Yarn

Scrumptious 4-Ply by Fiberspates

I’d been admiring this yarn in the shop for ages before I finally bought some, because the silk content makes it positively glow with those rich colours, and it’s a delight to sink your fingers into. Luckily for me, it’s also lovely to knit with: soft but it’s only got a minimal halo so textures still pop, and it was a dream on my needles. It’s also glorious to wear — so soft, so light. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen much pilling or problems with my finished object either. Even unblocked, you can see the textures:

Lionberry Shawl

And blocked it’s even better. Technically this is a dk weight, but I used it with a fingering-weight pattern without trouble. I’m imagining the colourwork sweater I could be wearing and my resolve on not buying more until I’ve used my second ball is slipping…

Lionberry Shawl

Pattern

Lionberry Shawl by Narniel of Endor

This is a great free pattern with a whole slew of different textures. I wanted something to show off the yarn that was designed for under 400yards of yarn so I wouldn’t have to play too much yarn chicken. I particularly like the long curly ends on this shawl, which were fun to block and photograph, and look fancy when worn. My only complaint is that the pattern is all written, no charts, and thus it was sometimes kind of hard to figure out how things were supposed to line up. I spent a lot of time looking at included pictures for details. But hey, free pattern!

Blocking! #knitting

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This became my travel knit for my trip to India for PyCon Pune (where I gave the keynote on open source security!). It was challenging enough to make for an interesting knit in transit (that’s a long set of flights!), but during conference talks I had to be super diligent about marking the pattern, using stitch markers and noting the stitch counts so I didn’t get off track.

Unblocked:
Lionberry Shawl

Blocked:
Lionberry Shawl

Overall: this is a great pattern and a great yarn. I rarely do patterns twice, but I might consider trying skysweepings by the same designer. And as for the yarn, well, I may be making a Very Expensive sweater when my resolve crumbles!

Go Tell the Bees

Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

This was my second rainbow for pride month, because once you’ve accidentally started such a great theme you might as well stick with it! Here’s the two projects together:
Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

Yarn

Bling Bling Sister, a sparkly rainbow gradient from Alexandra’s Crafts. Probably acquired at the Oregon Flock and Fiber festival. You can’t see the “bling” in all my photos, but there is a little thread of silver sparkle in there and it looks great especially as it catches the light.

Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

I’d been saving this yarn for something special and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a bit more kinky than the last gradient I used from Wollelfe (I haven’t written up that project yet, sorry!), so it really really needed blocking when I was done. Here it is looking lumpy in the PDX airport:

Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

However, even a slightly inadequate travel “block on a towel in my mom’s living room” got it looking great:
Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

Pattern

Go Tell the Bees by PDXKnitterati.

PDXKnitterati’s been one of my favourite designers since I first cast on her Fern Leaf Shawlette, which is still the bit of knitwear I wear most. (If you’ve seen me at a conference in the past year, I’ve probably been wearing it!) Her patterns are always beautiful, easy to read, well-tested, and she’s got lots that are in that perfect balance of complicated enough to be fun or to teach you a new skill, but with simple enough bits that I can still get lots done during standards meetings, on commuter rail, or hanging out in the hammock in my backyard. Or in this case, on the couch I gifted to my parents when I left Canada:

Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

Also, if you ever get a chance, she runs really great knit-a-longs on ravelry for some of her new pattern releases. Her fans produce beautiful inspiring work and she encourages us all to post pictures and even awards prizes! (I even won some beautiful bee stitch markers and candles!) It’s really fun to be part of her community there for a few weeks. Here’s a picture to commemorate the excitement of my first bees emerging from the pattern:

Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

I’ve got quite a few more pdxknitterati patterns in my queue, and just going through these photos again has me itching to cast on something else from her catalog!

Project

This one was cast on in Oregon and finished in Ontario, and it gathered comments from people across the continent because of the bright yarn and the great pattern.

From those first few rows:
Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

Through realizing I had a perfect honeycomb bag for my project thanks to my friend M:
Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

To taking finished object pictures in the light rain in Ottawa:
Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

This one was a super satisfying project, and a beautiful finished object that is quickly becoming one of my favourites to wear.

Bounce Blanket

I wound up knitting rainbows through pride month, which was fun. This one was an accident (I just like rainbows) but once I realized I did go out of my way to dig out a rainbow ball for my next project. 🙂

Yarn

Bounce Blanket kit from Knitted Wit (“Little Black Dress” colourway, Stroller size)

This was a splurge purchase to celebrate selling off a bunch of my initial stock grant at work. Despite having been in tech for many years, this marks the first time I’ve actually had stock vest and get sold!

Bounce Blanket

My one complaint with this kit is that it wasn’t a perfect gradient — that stupid green skein on the end didn’t quite fit, so I left it at the end where it wouldn’t bug me too much. But I love the yarn, and with the exception of that irksome green, loved the colours. It also was quite generous in terms of amounts: I could easily have made this blanket wider than the stroller size only I legitimately wanted this to fit in a stroller and there’s not much advantage to having it wide enough to drag. So I’m debating a nice rainbow-y project to do with the leftovers. There might be enough for a stripey baby sweater to match!

Pattern

Bounce by TinCanKnits.

This is not a hard pattern, but interesting enough with the rainbow colours that I didn’t get bored! I’ve now done a number of patterns from this team now and took advantage of one of their sales to pick up a few more to try.

Bounce Blanket

Photos

In progress:
Bounce Blanket

Bounce Blanket

In progress with temporary dog (we were pupsitting and it turns out he’s a great knitting companion):
Bounce Blanket

Pre-blocking:
Bounce Blanket

Bounce Blanket

Blocking:
Bounce Blanket

I’m setting this to publish the day the baby it’s for is due to arrive, but I hear babies rarely adhere to schedule so no pictures with said baby for a while. 🙂

Medallion hat using Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag – April 2017

I’ve actually *just* as of September cancelled my Big Beanie Bag subscription, because I’m anticipating a busy fall and my projects have piled up to the point where I need a break. Still, I have managed to knit some of them up!

April’s Bag looked like this:
20170418-IMG_2010.jpg

And here’s a photo summary of what I made with it:

Last off the needles: My @jimmybeanswool Big Beanie Bag for April! I started casting on for the included pattern but then decided to go a bit more fancy and pulled out a pixel editor to make a pattern on my phone.  #teampixel #knittersofinstagram #knittin

Basically, I started casting on for the included pattern, realized I wanted to do something a bit more fancy with the yarn, and made up a new pattern on the spot with more colourwork and a shorter shaping. I’ve become a huge fan of having little hats that can live in my coat pockets so the pompom also had to go. This one became a present to my grandmother, since my Mom mentioned that she could also use a lighter fall pocket hat, and I thought the colours would suit her the minute I took them out of the bag. Such pretty heathers!

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags - April 2017

Yarn

The yarn is all Blue Sky Fibers Woolstok. I love the lightly heathered colours, and they were soft enough for hat use for my tastes. This was a great yarn to sample: gorgeous colours, nice to work with. I’m not sure if I’d go out of my way to find it again since I’m spoiled for choice in the Portland area, but it was definitely a treat to get it as a sample!

Pattern

This was pretty off-the-cuff and untested, but here’s a rough pattern:

Needle size: 8.
Pattern is in multiples of 8. If you need it bigger or smaller, add or subtract in multiples of 8.
(My head is 24 inches, for reference. Do a gauge swatch, calculate from there.)

Brim:
Cast on 104 (13×8) in the round using main colour.
Knit 1.5 inches of 1×1 twisted ribbing (it doesn’t have to be twisted, but I like the way it looks)
Knit 1.5 inches plus a few rows so the turned brim doesn’t cover the pattern of straight stockinette.

Colourwork:
Follow colour chart as below or written pattern:
20170907-Screenshot_20170907-173525.jpg

MC-G = Main Colour (in this case, light grey)
CC-V = contrast colour one (in this case, dark violet)
CC-F = contrast colour two (in this case, fuchsia)
CC-P = contrast colour three (in this case, pink)

First band of colour is dark violet:
Row 1: {k3 in MC-G, k3 in CC-V, k2 in MC-G} repeat 13 times
Row 2: {k2 in MC-G, k2 in CC-v, k1 in MC-G, k2 in CC-v, k1 in MC-G} repeat
Row 3: {k1 in MC-G, k2 in CC-v, k3 in MC-G, k2 in CC-v} repeat
Second band of colour is fuchsia:
Row 4: {k3 in MC-g, k3 in CC-F, k2 in MC-G}
Row 5: {k1 in MC-G, k1 in CC-F} repeat
Row 6: repeat row 4. That is, {k3 in MC-g, k3 in CC-F, k2 in MC-G}
Third band of colour is pink:
Row 7: repeat row 3 only with pink in place of fuschia
Row 8: repeat row 2 with colour substitution
Row 9: repeat row 1 with colour substitution

Tie off colours and continue in main colour.
knit 1.5 inches of stockinette (or desired height for your head).

Decreases:
If you did more or less than 13×8 = 104 stitches at the beginning, you’ll need to adjust things accordingly. (e.g. if you did 12×8, you’ll start with a k11 instead of a k12)

Row 0: {k12, k2tog} repeat
Row 1: {k11, k2tog} repeat
Row 2: {k10, k2tog} repeat
and so on down until you get to a few stitches left and can tie them all together nicely.

Here’s a somewhat lousy picture of it on my head (before I blocked it, in case you’re wondering why it looks a bit wonky):
20170504-IMG_20170504_191433.jpg

And post-blocking:
20170514-IMG_20170514_103425.jpg

I gave this to my grandmother when I was out visiting in July, but I imagine she hasn’t had much chance to use it, so who knows if she’ll really like it! It was fun to knit, though, and I hope it’ll be useful to her as the weather cools.

Incidentally, I’m going to miss my yarn subscription: Jimmy Beans really did a nice job of giving me something new to try every month. But I was having trouble finding a few days to a week or so out of every month to actually do a new project. I imagine you’ll be seeing me write up random projects for quite some time before I run out of beanie bags, though, so taking some time off is the right choice even if I’m going to miss the new-yarn-every-month aspect. I did notice that Yarn Of the Month has a new owner and I’m tempted to try it out again, since 2 tiny balls of yarn for swatching is much easier to fit into my schedule, but I’m holding fast to taking a break for now. 🙂

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long

My current projects are gifts, which means this is a great time to catch up on some backlog projects!

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017 MKAL

This was the Mystery Crochet-a-long from the Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017. They do their mystery-a-longs as 4 clues, spread out over the time before the crawl starts, and I loved the 2016 Crochet mystery-a-long so I thought I’d do the crochet version again this year. Not as many people do the crochet version, but I enjoy the fun of wearing mine out and it’s a bit of a secret handshake for meeting fellow adventuresome crocheters on the crawl.

Unfortunately, while I actually like the finished piece just fine, I found the 2017 crochet-a-long to be largely a disappointment. Part of the mystery-a-long fun, for me, is learning new stitches and watching the design unfold. But in this case, clues 1-3 were pretty much the same, and even clue 4 was pretty much “now do the same thing only along the edges” instead of something interesting. It was boring and the mesh crochet required just enough attention that it wasn’t even a pleasant no-brain knit to do while watching tv. As each clue revealed, I found myself resenting the piece more and more.

I used my favourite crochet yarn for this, Teresa Ruch Tencel, which is really the only thing that redeemed the pattern for me. Also, I started a little late (on account of being in India before the crawl and wanting to make something actually fun on the plane instead of being irritated) so I got to see a friend’s piece at knit group (before she gave up and disgust and frogged it) and I used some of last year’s leftovers to put some stripes into the pattern to highlight the two rows that actually were slightly interesting. As a result, I got something with pretty waves of colour highlighting the scarf’s only design feature.

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017 MKAL

I wasn’t too happy with it on the crawl, but was trying to not say anything too harsh on social media right then, because the poor designer put a lot of work into this, and I know from previous years that people tell the RCYC team that they want easier crochet patterns. I assume that’s because there aren’t that many experienced crocheters out there, so a lot of people who attempt the MCAL are relatively new to crochet. Still, now that some time has passed, I’m willing to say that as a more experienced crocheter, this was a very disappointing MCAL experience. I was expecting a pattern below my skill level, but a mystery-a-long without any mystery was a huge disappointment to me. This is an acceptable beginner-compatible pattern, but a lousy MCAL.

Still, disappointment or no, the yarn is lovely, my colour mod made it pop, and the lightweight tencel has made it a great summer piece for the office that didn’t leave me dying when I walked home during our heat waves. I’m never going to make another one of these, nor would I recommend this pattern to anyone else, but at least I can enjoy it as a 2017 yarn crawl souvenir that I’ll be wearing for years to come!

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017 MKAL

Jury’s still out on whether I’ll bother doing the mystery crochet-a-long or not next year, though. I guess I’ll see how I’m feeling when it gets released!

Choosing secure open source packages

I wrote a pair of blog posts for work that came out last month!

Many developers don’t feel qualified to make security decisions. In many ways, that’s a perfectly healthy attitude to have: Security decisions are hard, and even folk with training make mistakes. But a healthy respect for a hard problem shouldn’t result in decisions that make a hard problem even harder to solve. Sometimes, we need to recognize that a lot of architectural decisions in a project are security decisions, whether we like it or not. We need to figure out how to make better choices.

The posts are about how to do very simple security risk assessments on open source packages, so you can make more informed choices about what you include in your code and get a sense of what makes a library look scary to security folk. They’ve got lots of real life examples of things we’ve seen, good, bad and embarrassing, and there’s a nice scorecard at the end that you can use to help you do quick assessments of your own. There are even some cat memes included!

I’m pretty proud to be able to share some of the things we’ve learned about open source security risk with the greater world and these posts fall in the category of “things I’ve made” so I thought I’d link them here. Hope you like them!

Is Open Source Software Really More Secure? (Pycon Pune 2017 Keynote)

Back in February, I keynoted at Pycon Pune in India. I decided to start with one of the questions that comes up frequently when I tell people that my day job is in open source security: “Is open source software really more secure?” Here’s the video!

Hopefully one of these days I’ll get the slides and a written transcript up, but for today, please just enjoy the video. Note that there’s some silence at the start of the video while we’re setting up. I start talking at the 1m50s mark, and the embedded video should start there.

Pycon Pune Group Photo

Open source security is something I’m very passionate about, and I was really glad that the fine folk at PyCon Pune gave me the chance to tell their attendees more about what it means to be secure and what it will take to make open source security even better. I believe there were over 500 people in the room for my talk, even though I was the the final keynote for the conference, and it was one of the greatest audiences I’ve ever had the privilege to talk to — very responsive, lots of great questions, and lots of great follow-ups after the talk was done. If you ever get a chance to speak at Pycon Pune, I highly recommend it. Keep an eye out for next year’s call for speakers!

This also ticked off a few bucket list items for me:

  1. Visting India! I work with a number of people from India and meet new students from there nearly ever year, so I’ve always been curious, but it’s a long an expensive trip. Thankfully it turns out it was also on J’s bucket list so we found a way to make it happen. It’s a super beautiful country and very different from my own. We were fortunate enough to spend some time being tourists before the conference, as well as lots of time socializing with the conference attendees and volunteers.
  2. Keynoting a conference! I’ve wanted to do this for years but opportunities don’t come up very often and I wasn’t able to accept the last offer I got.

PS – Interested in inviting me to keynote? I’d love to do another one! Send an email to terri (at) toybox.ca to let me know. I have a list of my speaking experience on my website. I talk a lot about security, but I’m happy to talk about open source mentorship, community, artificial intelligence, and quite a few other things, just ask!

April the Amigurumi Giraffe

I made this one for a co-worker and very awesome lady who’s expecting to give birth Real Soon Now. With the whole internet waiting for April the Giraffe to give birth, a giraffe seemed like an extra-appropriate baby gift. Since the gift has been gifted and the giraffe has given birth, now’s the time for a blog post!

April the Amigurumi Giraffe

Pattern: Gigi Giraf. You might recognize this one, as I’ve made it before, and used it as a base for a moose I made for another colleague some time ago. It’s a great pattern!

April the Amigurumi Giraffe

Yarn: Be Sweet Bamboo for the base colour. I love using this yarn. It’s so very soft, shiny, and it’s got a neat and very subtle tonal going that really works for giving some depth to the amigurumi. I immediately bought most of the colours for my next few amigurumi projects. If you’re local to me, Black Sheep at Orenco has it, and it’s worth trying!

April the Amigurumi Giraffe

The brown is Nova Plus Four Seasons Cotton. This is a nice soft cotton made of many tiny strands. I love how it feels when crocheted up, but it was a bit easy to split while I was working with it unless I wound it up a bit as it went.

April the Amigurumi Giraffe

I love the little tail. 🙂

April the Amigurumi Giraffe

I should have taken some more in-progress photos, but here’s one more before it got its spots!

April the Amigurumi Giraffe