Craftvent 2019

I like advent boxes, even though it’s a busy time of year and normally I’m traveling so they’re not really convenient. Jimmy Beans Wool makes one they call Craftvent and I enjoyed it in 2017. In 2018 I bought it to save for later but then I got a lot of great travel opportunities and it’s still unopened (Maybe it’ll be a quarantine project for April?). But I finished the 2019 one only a few months late!

Craftvent 2019, days 1-9

This year’s kit came in little magnetic metal tins, which is brilliant and more reusable than previous ones which came in giant cardboard boxes.

Craftvent 2019, days 10-18

As usual, the tins either contain yarn, a notion, or a small treat. A larger namaste snap project bag and their “smart stix” needles were also included not in a tin. Loved the bag, though you have to be careful not to get the snaps caught on the lace.

Craftvent 2019 days 19-24

They’ve made a big effort to have more yarn than in the last box I did. It’s still not a good value in pure retail cost of the stuff, but you’re paying for the experience and packing here is significant, so I feel that’s reasonable.

Start of shawl, not the original colour.

Since I was busy and opened the first many boxes before starting to knit, I spent time contemplating the colours and decided to sub in some more purples in place of the teals that came with the kit. It makes for a less striking shawl, but one that I was pretty sure would fit better with my wardrobe. I used one of my minis from Yarn Indulgences for the first colour.

Craftvent progress shot

Many people on the associated Facebook group hated the main colour, a fluffy mohair style yarn (Fyberspates Cumulus). I love it in the final piece: it’s light and warm and lovely. But it combined with the metal needles left me with sore hands. Part of why this was months late was the multiple breaks I had to take from knitting at all because it was hurting me. It got better after I switched to my preferred short wooden needles, but it didn’t entirely stop. I’ve got some of the yarn left, but I think I’ll have to try holding it double with something if I want to use it

Mostly finished Craftvent draped on back of chair.

The “wrap” is a weird shape. It uses short rows so that it’s long, thin on one end and wide on the other. Kind of like a scarf with one really flared end? It sounds odd but it’s pretty wearable!

Full shawl stretched out for blocking
So wide!

Overall, despite the literal pain involved, I really like this shawl. It’s so light and yet so warm, it’s interesting, and with my colour alterations it goes with many of the things I wear. It wasn’t quite the experience I was expecting with the breaks in between, but I used the time to work on my embroidery skills and that was pretty fun.

Me wearing the finished Craftvent wrap

Will I do Craftvent again? Maybe. I’ve finally got enough notions to kit out a few bags so it might be better to do a yarn-only option. Or maybe Must Stash Yarn will do another advent sock-along, which is much more manageable for me at that time of year. But I had a good time this year, even if it wasn’t mostly in December!

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL 2020

I decided to take part in the Rose City Yarn Crawl mystery-knit-a-long (MKAL) again this year!

I’ve had mixed results with the patterns, so now I wait until I’ve seen clue 1 and sometimes 2 before I join in, which means I can make more educated yarn choices. This pattern is from Marie Greene of OliveKnits, who I’d heard of from her 4 Day Sweater KAL, but I’d never knit any of her patterns myself so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Clue 1 + hippo friend

The first clue had some mosaic and a lot of people were having contrast issues, so I dug into deep stash for yarn that I’d bought with colourwork in mind.

End of clue 1

Yarn: Knit Picks Chroma in white and “Prism” This is an old ball from before they started mirroring all their colours, which is a decision I don’t really understand because wow these older yarns were stunning.

Clue 2

I really love the colours but am only so-so on the yarn because it’s single ply, a bit variable in thickness, and completely not durable. I wish someone would make a plied short gradient like this that didn’t pill so much! It wouldn’t be easy to do with this yarn, though; the colour is spun right in with the gradient made by adjusting the mix of yarns. It’s really quite neat to see the fiber mix change if you look closely at it.

Clue 3 in progress

In clue 3 I had to go off pattern because I would have ended up with a yellow-white colourwork section and I didn’t like the look. So I added a bunch more rows of moss stitch (not my fave!) and extended out that mosaic chart. I’ve been fiddling with my own mosaic designs which haven’t gotten finished but have taught me a lot about the technique so extending a chart was no big deal.

Clue 3 complete

I debated chopping out some stripes but I liked them too much.

Clue 4 beginning

Then I extended the lace section too.

Clue 4

It left a bigger “border” in the lace but in practice it doesn’t bother me. However, come clue 5, I decided to chop out a bunch of the stockinette so that I could go back to the mosaic chart as written and end on the correct number of stitches.

Clue 5: the final clue!

This left me with a very close to symmetrical shawl. I read a bunch of people’s posts on the Ravelry forums and debated for a while about adding more on, but in the end I settled on a picot bind off (cast on 2, bind off 8, so you wound up with multiples of 6 to match stitch count).

Wash!

I actually did wash a swatch so I wasn’t worried about colour bleeding! (Though I’d have been surprised if it were a problem with a KnitPicks yarn.)

Finished rcycmkal2020 being worn!

I really loved this one, mostly because I chose such perfect colours. I’m very much looking forwards to wearing it on the crawl — I like to think that I’ve got one of the most recognizable versions of this year’s MKAL!

And if anyone knows of anyone doing shorter repeat gradients like this on other yarns, please let me know! I’d definitely like to try some others.

Symphony Shawl – my 2020 year long project

Symphony Shawl kit yarns

Sweet Georgia Yarns made this lovely set of yarns as a holiday kit, and I loved it so much I bought two: one for me and one for my friend M as a Christmas present. It has 15 yarns, so I figured I’d do it as if it were a monthly yarn subscription, and maybe double up a few months. But as it turns out, the pattern has 12 sections if you count the setup one, so I haven’t even had to divide it up myself!

January set up

January’s up was teensy tiny but since I had advent projects still on the needles and the Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL to start, that wasn’t a problem.

The yarn feels like a standard sock yarn to me. Did you know that there’s only a handful of yarn wholesalers in the US so most of our indie-dyed stuff uses the same bases even if they give them different names? Sweet Georgia is based in Canada so they may have some other options, but I bet not *that* many. It’s a solid base, and after my overdose on single ply I’m very glad to have a more durable sock yarn. And those colours! Saturated jewel tone tonals. Beautiful.

February lace section

I debated doing the colours backwards just to be different but decided I liked it too much to mess with the order. I’m barely started — that’s only one extra-mini down, 14 to go — but it’s already interesting and fitting nicely in as a shorter break between projects.

I had been planning to go subscription-less this year, but at the very end of the year I decided to try one that seemed particularly interesting. I’ll write about it soon!

Mudra Necklace and Loquita Necklace

My mom hates shopping and gives me birthday money, and I’ve tried to make a habit of actually buying myself things in December and January as presents. And lately, most of what I covet is yarn, so…

These two kits are from Laura Nelkin, whose kits I’ve enjoyed in the past.

Mudra

Mudra necklace in colour stone

This was very similar to the Fetish cuff I did this summer, and in a good way! I wasn’t sure if the neutral colour was the right choice, but it’s lovely and very wearable. It’s a very easy kit with a simple beading pattern, yet very satisfying.

Loquita

Loquita Necklace in blue

The Loquita Necklace was harder than the Mudra one, but it’s so carefully explained that it was complicated but not really confusing. The clasp isn’t great at staying closed on me so I have been tucking the hook into the knitting instead of the eye so that there’s a bit more friction there. I love the yarn, but if you look up close it’s a surprising choice: it’s got long alpaca hairs that stick out and make the stitch definition a bit less clear.

Loquita Necklace blocking

It feels so soft and blocks perfectly, though, so I guess that’s worth a few stray hairs.

Both kits come with floss loops for stringing beads, and Loquita also came with floss for placing beads during knitting but I’ll admit that I used my Bead Aid for the Loquita stitches because it was nicer than the floss. I do love the tin that Loquita came in: it’s a bit bigger than the one I use now and I think a bit harder for my toddler to open as a result, so it’s probably going to see a bunch of use in the future!

It was really nice to have some quick projects to fit in now that the Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL has started so I’ve often got a little gap at the end of a clue where I need a bit more to do before the next one is released.

Overall, fun kits that are nicely put together, and beautiful finished pieces. Plus I’ve got a new beading tin now! Happy birthday to me!

First finishes for 2020: winter embroidery and walking into winter socks!

Two finishes to share!

Kiriki winter embroidery kit

First off, surprisingly, isn’t knitting! I started and finished this Kiriki Press embroidery kit in 2020 after I got back from Ottawa. This one was a lot faster than the spring one because there was no time-consuming satin stitch. I’m still having fun learning new stitches and also giving my hands a break. I’ve got one more sampler, but I’m finally feeling confident enough to try some of my more free-form embroidery panels. I’ve been collecting some from the Fireside textiles kickstarter for ages now and I’m so excited to start them!

Walking into Winter socks, in A Very Hobbit Christmas colourway

Second, my advent socks! These clever colours are from Must Stash Yarn which is kind of the worst because they drop new colours every Tuesday and you usually have only a few days to buy them before they sell out. It’s… Much too addictive. They do matching pairs which is nice because I’ve lately been enjoying having half skeins in my little purse, and this way I don’t have to break out the scales. And it’s cute if they match, but I’m weirdly more excited about not having to split the yarn cakes myself!

Yarn cakes

Anyhow, the Hobbit Christmas colours are 24 stripes and if I’d been doing it right I’d have been doing a few per day every day before Christmas to get them done in time. I aimed for only one sock, because who needs deadlines, and finished that one on time!

Sock #1, complete!

The yarn does most of the work for you and the pattern, “Walking into Winter” by Sivia Harding, does the rest with an alternating knit/purl per stripe, and some cute garland-stylings at the top. I love the photography in this one.

Yarn on the go

The one thing I might change if I do this pattern again is the toe. My toes are definitely not that pointy! Socks are stretchy so it’s no big deal when I wear them but hey, what’s the fun in slow fashion if you can’t custom fit stuff?

Up next: I’m still working on my other advent project, the Craftvent project from Jimmy Beans. I had to swap out the needles because the full sized metal ones that came with the kit were giving me wrist twinges, but swapping to my favorite short wood seems to have eased my ergonomic problem and I knit on and off today while taking my turns with a very sick toddler. (Don’t worry, his fever seems to have broken now, but we watched a lot of tv today.)

I’ve also got a necklace as a purse project. But it’s nearly done! I don’t have another small project on the go and I’ve been debating what’s next: cast on a small shawl or top down sock for my 2020 fiber goals, or size up my purse and go to town on a few more works in progress that got too big for the small one? Or start my new year-long project and do the first colour? I’ve been loving going through my queue and making plans.

2020 fiber goals

I never really loved new year’s resolutions until I started making them related to fiber. I think it’s because my fiber goals are more like little yearly bucket lists. So here’s this year’s set!

1. Whittle down the WIPs and Query the Queue.

I’ve got a few works in progress that have been languishing, like the Flickering Light shawl I started in New Zealand. Cleaning up my queue also unearthed some neat things I even have yarn for that haven’t been cast on yet. I don’t plan on avoiding spontaneous “I saw this and have to make it right now!” moments entirely, just making sure I do a more regular look through the things I saw and loved and seeing which ones still grab my fancy.

2. A Bit of Brioche.

I know how to do brioche, but the only project I’ve ever done is the cowl I made while my father was dying. That makes it sound like A Thing but I don’t think I’ve got big emotions tied up in it, I just haven’t made time. So this is the year, I hope. I’ve got a few patterns queued up and we’ll see if it grabs me more this time around.

3. Top to Toes

I usually do socks toe up, one at a time, magic loop. I’ve tried two at a time: it’s fine but it’s so much easier to fit a half skein in my current little purse. I’ve tried dpns: I actually love them but I drop them a lot. I’ve tried flexi-tips: love them but they’re still too easy for a toddler to tug (and I’m not quite committed enough to replace all my dpns yet anyhow). But I’ve never tried top-down. Now that I’m making socks for my mom, my usual “but I like trying them on!” isn’t even a good excuse, so it’s time to try it out. Maybe I’ll love it! I even bought a beautiful top down book to inspire me (though I’ve also got that queue…)

4. Some Smaller Shawls

The shawls that see the most wear in my wardrobe are the smallest ones: my fern shawlette and my little fucshia one. So let’s try to make sure I put a bit of focus on the single-skein size this year. They don’t have to be actually one skein, but around 400 yards of fingering weight seems to be about the right size when I’m searching my queue. I’m always tempted by these beautiful giant wraps but I only wear them a few months a year in Portland.

It was really hard to choose 4 goals this year: I want to try my other embroidery sampler I wouldn’t mind getting back into a regular spinning habit and try tour de fleece again. I still want another sweater for me. I want to learn some dyeing skills… But I chose those 4 because I think they’re ones that benefit from me looking back at this list a few times and not forgetting this year.

Happy new year!

2019 fiber goals: how did I do?

My 2019 goals:

  1. Learn steeking.
  2. Document better.
  3. Finish another sweater.
  4. Play with mini skeins.

So how did that go?

1. I did the steeking!

2. I blogged a couple of times every month all year, and I’ve made sure to put photos into Ravelry. So not only is it better than last year, but it’s what I consider a perfectly reasonable amount of documenting for now. I used to aim for weekly, but with a toddler who’s learning new stuff daily, I’m happy to de-prioritize my blog. Once or twice a month plus photos and ravelry is plenty.

3. Sweaters are hard to finish, especially with extra travel this year. They’re too big for the way I pack to travel, and we went to Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Bulgaria. Plus some smaller trips to Seattle and Cleveland. So I cheated with a toddler sweater. To be fair, he needed a new one more than I did. I’ll try to keep working on mine in the new year, and I have plans (and yarn!) for the next.

4. I definitely played with mini skeins, including finishing my Tosh shawl, Oregon sky, an unfinished design project, my Lucky Star, and my unfinished advent shawl. But I only used one from my yarn subscription. Mostly I took photos. I did buy both Knitted Wit collections that make use of minis so I’ve got lots of ways to use them now.

So, I could do better on sweaters, and I should use my yarn subscriptions more. I’ve decided to accept that no matter how much I love these subscriptions, it’s a yarn collection and photo project, not a knitting thing. I have very few photo projects right now, so that’s not even a bad thing for a subscription to be, just a different one.

But I managed to sort of accomplish all the goals even if not in the way I expected when I set them, so I’m going to call it a successful year. Stay tuned for 2020 goals tomorrow!

In threes: finished, wips, upcoming projects

Recently finished:

– Woollywormhead’s 2019 mystery hat. It’s blocking right this moment.

– my Lucky Star shawl (blocked, photographed today, but not worn yet!)

– Mom’s Christmas sock #1

Works in progress:

– Mom’s sock #2 (cast on this afternoon)

– Cascadial Wrap (maybe 3/4 done? More? Abandoned again for travel last month, poor thing)

– crochet advent calendar (still going very slowly, by design. I’m planning to do maybe one or two more, just enough to cover our current tiny tree.)

Coming up soon:

– an advent for 2019 has arrived! I haven’t decided if I’m waiting for the 1st or not, but I’m leaning towards the December start.

– maybe that toddler sweater before we go to Ottawa? I’m thinking Antler by Tin Can Knits but it will depend on what yarn I have.

– maybe pulling out my own sweater that’s been hibernating since last year?

My gift knitting this year is just the one pair of socks, unless I suddenly think of something neat (and small) to do, so I’m nicely on track to be able to start that advent calendar. Finishing a toddler sweater might be too ambitious, though.

Whakairo Shawl

This was a particularly satisfying pattern to knit. It starts out so small and that first chart seemed daunting. It’s well written, but there was just So Much Going On that I needed to concentrate and I despaired of ever finishing with a toddler around.

But once I made it through the first chart, and there wasn’t some new thing appearing at the edge ask the time, I started to find my rhythm.

Rhythm, breast pump… I amuse myself.

And it just felt so natural that it seemed weird that I’d been thinking of this as a terribly technical pattern. Surely it was just obvious?

The pattern is Aroha Knits’ Whakairo Cowl done with the shawl variant. It’s really worth reading the pattern description about how it’s meant to minic Maori wood carving.

I can’t remember how many repeats I did of that 3rd chart, but it was enough that I had it memorized and didn’t even look at it by the end. Kind of amazing.

The yarn is Kupenda in colour “free range” by Fierce Fibers. It’s a super soft alpaca/silk/cashmere blend that is slippery and a little fluffy and oh so soft. I was worried about the stitch definition because of the halo but I really didn’t need to be. Even if it wasn’t a luxury yarn, this is the most luxurious gradient I’ve ever used. The colours are so saturated, the colour change is so perfect, and the yarn has been re-straightened so unlike most gradients it’s not in that “just unknit from the blank” stage.

I already bought more. (And got a personal delivery to my desk at work, but that’s another story!)

It very much needed blocking. It was a toddler-sized shawl when it came off the needles! I liked the tight lace with all those twisted stitches, but you could tell it would open up.

Even blocked, it’s not quite the right shape for the way I like to wear a triangle shawl: it’s really designed as a buttoned cowl. But that was easily solved with a shawl pin.

I’m super happy with the way this one turned out. It’s a very technical shawl but mathematically predictable and just feels satisfying to me. Plus, that yarn! This will see a lot of wear… As soon as I’m not worried about getting hair dye on it if it rains, anyhow! (Not pictured here, but my hair is dark blue/purple/pink now.)

Maybe unicorn dreams pretty darned quick?

My final socks on vacay socks were started on the way back from Ottawa in August and finally finished after my hand recovered!

Yarn: “maybe unicorn dreams?” From Knitted Wit. It didn’t have a colour written on the tag and I thought the guess sounded like a hugo nominated short story so that’s what I’m calling the yarn.

I’ve come up with a few ideas for the title, but the most ridiculous is the sci fi jaunt where little girls are given robot unicorns as educational toys that grow with the kid up to becoming self driving car alternatives that can have software secretly marketed to parents as a virgin-detecting chastity belt for teens. Inevitably, the teens find out about this horrific invasion of privacy because of course the company is machine learning on the girls’ potential sexual behaviours and being generally gross in that way of tech companies. And then, the/ unicorn hacking society is born.

… I have a lot of time to think about parenting ethics and infosec while my kid’s falling asleep, ok?

Pattern: Pee Dee Queue by Shannon Squire. I wanted to do this with the cute pattern on the back, but it proved too tight so I followed the alternate instructions to do the stretchier back instead.

The first photo was with a tiny stuffed dog, so the last one is with a giant one!

Incidentally, my dog obsessed toddler is really benefitting from the fact that Tiny Terri also loved dogs, so every time we visit my family we bring a few more mor home with us. Woof!

Fruit fly socks for my retired biochemist mom

I bought this yarn because the name, “time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana” reminded me of my biochemist parents, and then my mom asked for socks so away we went.

It was also socks on vacay time still! And Mom’s birthday was coming up!

Yarn: Knitted Wit “time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana” in honour of biochemist Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard.

Pattern: Shannon Squire’s Sundae Socks. I sized up one more step than the pattern is written for, since Mom asked for them to be roomy. And apparently I got it right, since she’s requested another pair!

#socksonvacay2019: Mama/baby Dread Pirate socks!

Shannon Squire and Knitted Wit have my favourite summer knit-a-long: Socks on Vacay. My first pair of socks took me around two years to finish, but I liked wearing them, so I foolishly joined in last year and knit 3 socks in time, and I guess I’m a sock knitter now?

So here’s a few photos of my first 4 (!) socks for this year.

Yarn is the Talk Like a Pirate Day themed “Yarrrrn!” (From last year’s sassy holidays collection). I saved this for a whole year!

Pattern is Shannon Squire’s Short Attention Span. It doesn’t actually go down to toddler size, so I improvised those a bit to scale them down.

My baby Dread Pirate (who is also so named thanks to Talk Like A Pirate Day) was utterly pleased with the socks, which was rather a surprise to me since it was hot and I didn’t think he’d want to wear them even for photos. But I think after he watched me knit them, he was pleasantly surprised to find out they were for him!

I’ve got two more socks finished but no pictures yet, so I’m definitely beating last year’s record!

Hibisco Necklace

Although I was terribly restrained in buying kits from Laura Nelkin, I did pick up two (plus her perfect little beading tin) so here’s the second!

This is called Hibisco, and it’s another beaded jewelry kit. I’m not normally a fan of pre-strung beads for bigger knits, but they’re not too annoying for a smaller kit and I do love the way they float in the fabric.

I should have gotten a circular, but I didn’t have any in size 2.75mm or whatever this was, so I made do. I may have to expand my small needle collection in the future, though!

Blocking was a challenge. A helpful person on the forum suggested a paper plate to get the curve consistent, which proved hard with the ruffles.

I’m super happy with the way it turned out! And it’s proved toddler-resistant, so unlike my more delicate chains, I can wear this at home! Yay!

I’ve already earmarked the next kits I want, but I’m going to try and hold off until I’m finished a few of my works in progress. They’re getting a bit out of control again!

Fetish cuff/necklace

Ah, the 7th month, where resolutions start to really go off the rails! I’ve been decent at recording my projects on Instagram (though I did miss photographing a gift I made) and have gotten better at updating Ravelry, but this blog hasn’t seen a post yet this month and we’re almost at the end!So here’s a quick project I did on vacation: Fetish cuff by Laura Nelkin.The kit comes with everything you need (and then some), and the ring and clasp hardware is particularly nice.It was a surprisingly easy kit to do, given how complicated it looks! Probably ambitious beginner level, and there are instructional videos that walk you through it. (Though the focus is a bit out of whack, the explanations are good.)It took me probably a couple of hours to do with toddler interference. And it’s resilient enough to handle some toddler exploration once it was put together!It’s designed to be worn two ways. I expected to mostly wear it as a necklace, but I actually like it better as a cuff!I found these kits when I was looking at subscriptions that happen less than monthly, and I’m sorely tempted to subscribe, but I’m still unburrying myself from my unfinished Jimmy Beans kit, so I think I’ll stick to treating myself when there’s one I really like up on etsy.

Oregon Sky Shawl / #glowupknittedwit Kit

Knitted Wit did this neat collab with a pile of awesome designers It started with yarn…

Yarn: Glow Up Knitted Wit kit (with main colour Oregon Sky)

There’s a lot of great patterns in the collection, but I particularly loved this one.

Pattern: Oregon Sky by Michele Bernstein (Pdxknitterati)

I took it to Albuquerque for the mini Maker Faire. (see how it matches the rainy Oregon departure!)

I found the perfect project bag:

I took it to Cleveland for Pycon and it was literally bound off in the sky on the way home:

This is a great pattern for travel: visually stunning and a great conversation starter, yet with short and easily memorized lace sections so I could pick it up and knit while watching the toddler, attending conference talks, or pretty much whenever. I think I told more people the name of this pattern than anything I’ve ever knit!

I had some fun taking finished photos…

I’m not sure why, but my toddler particularly likes this one, so while i was taking photos he gestured that i needed to throw it on a tree then grabbed it and ran away giggling …

And before I’d even processed those photos, I was lucky enough to catch a rainbow and get photos with it!

How amazing is that?

Great shawl, great yarn, and my only regret is that it might be a while before I try the other patterns in the collection!

Romi mystery knit-a-long 2019

After the Rose City Yarn Crawl mystery knit, I decided that I’d had so much fun that I should try out Romi’s annual mystery knit too. I wouldn’t say that the mystery was hard because it’s extremely well written and well tested, but it’s definitely a pattern that requires concentration. I actually like that, but it did mean I made some mistakes.

Clue 1:

Knitting surgery with Dr. Terri/Clue 2:

That's not right...

The fixed clue 2:

Clue 3:

Clue 4:

Clue 5:

Done!

Overall, this was definitely a more technical knit than I’d done in a while, but in a good way: it was nice to do something complicated and succeed at it. I even finished the MKAL in the allotted time!

I’m torn now: this is always going to fall near the Rose City Mystery-a-longs, but they’ve been hit or miss for me because they’re geared to be accessible to beginners and also include cowls which experience tells me I won’t wear. Do I plan to do this mystery instead, or do I do both, or neither? I guess I’ll just play it by ear for next year!

Follow Ups

Finished objects

I finished my second sock!

Incidentally, I always thought I would be a toe-up two-at-a-time person, but in practice it turns out the joy of finishing is such that I haven’t had much trouble with second sock syndrome since I switched to one-at-a-time. I guess next I’d better try a top-down to see if I like that! I also need to work on some afterthought heels for the self-striping I have in my stash.

I’d hoped to finish this for the lotsofsocks downs syndrome awareness kal, but alas it was not to be. Still, I love it, and I think I’ll be not matching my stripes on future socks either. It’s freeing and also out turns out I just like them this way.

My 2018 JBW Tosh Shawl is also finally finished!  I already did the half year post, but here’s a picture again:


So going back to my work in progress week post, here’s where I’m at:

  1. Little Box of Crochet Advent Calendar – untouched, but not hoping to complete until December-ish
  2. Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit a Long – done!
  3. Cascadial Wrap – I actually finished another colour before switching to the JBW shawl, so it’s progressing!
  4. Flickering Light Shawl – planned after the Cascadial wrap, but maybe only not around my toddler this time since he loved the drop stitches a bit too much
  5. Sock – done!
  6. JBW Tosh Shawl – done!
  7. JBW British Invasion Kit – in hibernation. aka, after looking at my queue I’ve decided I’m not excited enough about this one and I’ll save it to be a grab-and-run kit when needed

New Objects

So of course, now that I’ve finished some and have mentally put a few in hibernation, I started my two knit-a-longs!

Romi Mystery KAL 2019 (clue 1):

Oregon Sky Shawl for the Glow Up Knitted Wit CKAL

The Oregon Sky shawl helps me fill in the gaps when I run out of MKAL clue, and it gave me a nice project for Albuquerque Maker Faire on April 6-7 so I wouldn’t fall into the same pattern of starting something new and then abandoning it. I don’t know that I’ll have enough left by May 2nd when I head to PyCon, though!  But for now, I’m enjoying the Glow Up hashtags on Instagram for the knit along. People have such different rainbows!

The Queue Curation

I finished my cull, and the queue is hovering around 90 items. Not bad! Of course, now that it’s only 3 pages long, it’s much easier for me to see what was missing. For example: I have yarn for Shannon Squire’s That 70’s Shawl (I even have several options to choose from) and Composition Book Mitts but somehow never queued either pattern. And I bought a Space Cadet yarn kit for the Bubbles of Joy MKAL but somehow never queued that pattern either. Nor did I start it; I was a bit over-optimistic in my ability to finish the RCYC MKAL and missed the boat entirely on this MKAL. But it’s an absolutely beautiful pattern that I’ll definitely be knitting eventually, so I pushed it up near the top of the queue.

It’s been really fun matching stash yarns to projects. I also think I finally have a pattern for my one unassigned sweater quantity of yarn. We’ll see if it’s still my favourite when I get to casting on, but I bought the pattern so I’m pretty convinced. 

Other fun finds: I had queued a pile of sock patterns, which was kind of weird since I wasn’t really a sock knitter until I got hooked during the Socks on Vacay knit-a-long last year. But now that I actually enjoy knitting socks, there’s some great skill-improvement patterns in there, something I now want as I mentioned right back up at the beginning of this post. Thanks, past me!

Tosh Shawl Club 2018 – July to December

It took 14 months instead of 12, but I finished my Tosh Shawl Club shawl! This was how I spent some birthday money last year. Since I have an end of year birthday, it tends to get subsumed by the holidays, so this was a neat way to celebrate monthly instead.

Despite the “shawl club” name it’s honestly is more of a wrap. But it’s warm and squishy and while it’s not a kit I would have bought if I’d seen it finished in a shop, I loved the process of getting mystery yarns and clues for a full year, so I definitely got the experience I wanted. Plus, part of the fun was going outside of my usual comfort zones.

July

August

September

October

Whoops, wrong year on this one and the next…

November

December

And the full shawl:

Definitely a fun experience! Looking back, I’m sort of sad I didn’t opt to continue my subscription for this year, but they took the mystery out and the planned shawl just wasn’t floating my boat, so I’m trying something new this year to get my monthly mystery fix!

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.

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!

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!

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.