August works in progress

I started the month planning to do a gnome mystery knit (because I’d never tried one) and The Sharon Show (because the pitch of $7 for cat themed entertainment appealed to me).

Gnicki the gnome sits on this month’s Fantastic Strangelings book pick. The name of the pattern is “Nice to Gnome You”

I did manage to finish the gnome, and it was such a delightful little thing that I’ll probably sign up for the next. The pattern was clever and even in something relatively small, had a few new techniques to try. (The slip-stitch cables in the beard, and the knit-on-purl-bumps applied hoodie/bunnyhug pocket.)

First start to my The Sharon Show wrap, with lighter yarn for colour B.

The Sharon Show did not go as well. I didn’t love my yarn choices, so I wound up casting something else while I was deciding if I even wanted to do it. Enter the Heliotrope hat.

Heliotrope hat with a mistake many rows back

And then I found a mistake many rows back and nearly put that project in timeout too. In the end, with some encouragement, I ripped back the brioche and kept going. Emboldened by that, I also ripped out the shawl and was so much happier with it that I made a token attempt to catch up.

Clue 1 of The Sharon Show with dark yarn in colour B.

But then I went on vacation this week, and it reminded me that I hadn’t really been doing the Socks on Vacay knit a long this year. So I abandoned the shawl again to cast on a sock and even took it to the beach so I could pretend for a few pictures that this was a normal kind of vacation (and not an exhausting week of strong-willed toddler parenting).

Sock at the beach.

I finished the sock last night, and I haven’t even mentioned the spinning I’ve been doing!

Finished Sundae Sock, with increasing/decreasing stripes
Finished skein of green/tealish yarn, a spin during the “intermission” between the two (!) Tour de Fleeces this summer. One for the original dates, one for the new dates for the Tour de France that inspires the event.

I’m still a full clue behind on the shawl and haven’t finished the brioche, and I didn’t finish my second “intermission” spin before the Tour started today, but… It doesn’t matter. I’m loving the shawl pattern now. $7 *was* a good price for cat-based entertainment. The pattern is simple but the drink suggestions and catty section names make it fun. The brioche will keep giving me a break when I need something different. And the spin will just continue through to be my first skein of Tour de Fleece 2.0.

Rainbow spinning in progress.

I think I’m even going to cast on another sock. My vacation may be drawing to a close, but I’ve got enough time to finish the second before labour day for socks on vacay! And then maybe I’ll finally get back to my very long delayed Geek Sock, which has been quietly happening as a tiny purse project on my self-care walks and other times I wanted something small.

Also happening this month was a tiny sewing project because my kid wanted a doggy bone he could carry around in his mouth.

Stuffed Doggy bone, and some duplo toys

And I also finished Half the Knit Sky, which deserves its own post but I’m just going to post a finished object here in case it’s a while before I do that.

Half the Knit Sky shawl, showcasing a lovely Fierce Fibers gradient.

And also Hazelwood, which was mostly done much earlier but I had a big fight with my sewing machine and had to order more yarn. It also deserves a full post, but for now, here’s just a finished photo!

Hazelwood sweater with pockets! The Dread Pirate toddler’s fluffy head is just visible at the bottom of the frame, and the full picture has him hamming it up (but we’re giving him the gift of some internet privacy, so the photo is cropped)

I’ve been feeling unsettled a lot this month, and I think I’m knitting in a slightly unsettled way as a result. But in a world where we’re not going to solve a pandemic or US politics or racism any time soon, I guess I have been finding it reassuring to finish knit/spin/sew stuff even if I’m not doing it the way I normally would and instead flitting from thing to thing. The unsettled knitting, at least, is a thing that I think will pass.

2020 fiber goals mid-year check in

Time for a little reflection on how my 2020 fiber goals are going!

1 Whittle down the WIPs and Query the Queue.

This has been really successful! I finished up my Poca sweater that had been languishing for two years, the Cascadial Wrap that had been in there nearly as long (no blog post yet because it was finished in a tough week), and it’s kept momentum on things like the Craftvent shawl and Geek Socks that ran into snags and could easily have ended up abandoned.

Poca sweater
Cascadial Wrap

The queue part hasn’t gone as fast as the WIPs, but I did get the Geek Socks from deep queue and honestly I feel like looking more often has helped me know and plan.

2. A Bit of Brioche.

Success! I took PDX Knitterati’s brioche course and made a lovely headband:

Petite Brioche

But I’d still like to get some next steps patterns in. I’ve got some yarn ready to go, but once it got hot here I didn’t feel like knitting brioche so much. (But sweaters were fine? Brains are weird.). I don’t see any point in fighting it so I’m going to resume briocheing once it cools off. I’m excited about what I’ve got planned next!

3. Top to Toes

Success! I did my first Geek Sock and used the top-down pattern in the Made BySarahS Mystery Sock Knit a Long. And it turns out I like top-down just fine. I did have to learn some new measurements for the afterthought heel, but I know those now so I’m good to go.

Geek Sock

To be honest, learning that afterthought heel has left me dreaming of owning a sock knitting machine and churning out tubes and tubes and tubes. They’re so expensive that it’s hard to justify just for fun, though!

Made BySarahS mkal socks

But back on the top-down topic, I’m probably going to make a few more top down socks this year and going forwards. And I won’t try to steer away from top down patterns due to my lack of experience, which I tried not to do but was probably totally doing. To be honest, most of my sock patterns came from a single designer, so just knitting other people’s patterns was a bit out of my comfort zone! I have learned that her rounder toe is still my favourite for my foot, but I know how to adapt toes and practiced it now so that’s not a barrier any more.

I’m hoping to join the next BySarahS Mystery which I’m guessing will include a top-down pattern! But I’ve got a few other beautiful things in mind… Once I finally finish the second Geek Sock.

4. Some Smaller Shawls

This is the goal that I thought would be easiest, and it’s the one that’s gone by the wayside! It’s a casualty of the pandemic: I’ve been using working from home as an excuse to focus on bigger projects that I would normally have trouble finishing. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, and I may let this goal go by the wayside this year as I adapt.

But small projects still still nice for me to have on backyard toddler adventures (especially when sweaters get too big for my toddler adventure shoulder bags). So I’m thinking maybe I’ll just downgrade it to *one* shawl and pull something out of my queue to make it happen. I’ll definitely wear whatever I make!

Other

I listed a few more things at the end of my 2020 fiber goals post that I wanted to quick mention because although they hadn’t made my top 4, I actually did them!

  • Embroiderymy first finish of 2020 was actually embroidery, and I did some tiny necklaces and started another sampler since.
  • Spinning — I did Tour de Fleece (blog post later)
  • Sweater — I did Poca and am nearly done a Hazelwood sweater
  • Dyeing — I turned food colouring dye into a family art project and we had a lot of fun with it. I’m hoping to do more, but I’ll need more undyed yarn.
Spinning and Hazelwood sweater

So… The year is going really well, from a crafting perspective. Don’t ask me about politics or my sleep patterns, though! Still, it’s nice to see how much I’ve accomplished against this one metric. Hurrah!

Electric Eel Wheel Nano

I got a neat new toy:

This is a teensy little electric spinning wheel! (Crayon for scale.) It’s called the Electric Eel Wheel Nano and I got in on the end of the Kickstarter campaign.

I’m still a relatively inexperienced spinner, so I was worried this might be a ridiculous thing to buy, but it’s tiny, can be powered off usb, and is quiet, so I’m hoping it’ll be the start to me taking my spinning places (mostly, I’m thinking Saturday knit group or my work knitting group). It took a while to get used to it (it’s definitely a lot more awkward to control speed with a knob when I’m used to using my feet) but I was soon managing a reasonable single:

I then promptly played with it so long that I tired out my hand and had to take a few days break before it was back to normal. I usually spin with a timer so I guess I’d better stay in that habit!

It’s very different than my big manual wheel, but with a lot less learning curve than the drop spindle. I’ll have to do some more practice to make sure my hand can handle it (and that I don’t need to change my ergonomic setup) but I’m looking forwards to getting a nice carrying case and taking this spinning show on the road, since knit group is one of my few toddler-free crafting blocks.

Said toddler, of course, was very upset that this toy wasn’t for him! He loves my big wheel too (i have to flip the band off when it’s not in use so he can treadle without messing with my work in progress!) but I think it’ll be a while before he has the coordination to try spinning out for real, even if this means he won’t be limited by tiny toddler legs!

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!

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!

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.

Spinning #4

Still spinning! Skein number 4 is blue. It’s the same blend as the orange one, only I divided it up so that I could match the plied colours more:

My handspun attempt #4

And here’s a comparison between it and the orange one:

My handspun attempt #3-4

And finally, here’s all four in a few configurations:

My handspun attempt #1-4

Still enjoying the spinning and I’m working on #5 now, although I’m using a very different fiber so it’s been a bit of trial and error!

My handspun attempt #1-4

Spinning continued

My class has been done for a couple of weeks, but I’m still spinning! It’s actually kind of killing me to leave my wheel behind for my upcoming trip, but I haven’t even tried a spindle yet so there will be no spinning for a little while. So to tide me over, I’m posting some pictures of my almost-finished skeins today. Hopefully I’ll have some comparison photos with them after washing and finishing later when I have time for more photos.

First plied yarn

Before washing:
First skein of handspun yarn

This is two different PCC fleeces. At least I’m pretty sure it was: the label on the bag of the white is definitely PCC but I didn’t check the bag of the brown since that was what we were using in class. That brown skein is my very first thing off the wheel, from the very first class! (It was also done on a wheel that we decided didn’t quite suit me, so I switched out for the rest of my class rental.) Both colours are natural and undyed.

Second plied yarn

Second handspun yarn

This is the same white from the two-toned first skein, out of the same bag. I found the white way easier to spin than the brown since it wasn’t as “sticky” and all of a sudden I could keep it consistent and smaller. Of course, it could have just been that I’d had more practice!

My second handspun yarn!

I was focused on spinning so I didn’t stop quite often enough for bits of grass and stuff stuck in there, making this a little extra-rustic. Can you spot any in the photos?

Third plied yarn

In progress:
My third handspun yarn, during plying

This is a super beautiful hand-dyed fiber braid from Kashmaier Creations. I decided after the success of my second yarn, I wanted to treat myself by trying out some of her beautiful fiber, and I’m really pleased by how it came out!

Looking dramatic:
My third handspun yarn

The fiber is a corrie cross that was recommended to me as suitable for beginners, and I think I agree. I was intentionally making it thicker than the 2nd yarn because I wanted it squooshy, and the plied yarn turned out almost exactly how I envisioned.

Yarn having a bath:
Yarn having a bath

Look at those colours! I’m not sure what this yarn will be yet, but I definitely want to make it into something I can show off.

Next up, one more hand-dyed extravagance with a different sheep breed as base, then I might try to do something a little more slippery to see how that works out.

I’m really enjoying the process: running the double treadle wheel I’m using is like a little moving meditation, and since I had a hard week of sore leg and sore head, I was sorely in need of that. I didn’t think I needed a new hobby, but I definitely don’t mind having one. If you want a little spin-spiration, check out enfiber‘s great spinning series and fascinating guide to understanding different fiber types. They’re part of why I was willing to stretch my horizons with a new fiber craft, so I was ready to sign up when the right class came along!

Learning to spin!

I really don’t need new hobbies, especially not ones that require a bunch of equipment. But sometimes you get an opportunity and you just have to go for it: in this case, it was a class taught by an instructor who I was sure would be great for the way I learn. So I’m learning to spin yarn this week and next.

I’ve got to say, I’m not exactly a natural at this, but it’s still kind of a relaxing set of motions, and I’m quite enjoying it. Here’s my first attempt (the fluff on the right is just some unspun stuff at the end):

My first attempt at spinning!

And my second, which is still on my borrowed wheel waiting for me to continue practice. (The class sensibly includes a wheel rental for practice, although I need to switch wheels tomorrow when the new rental wheel comes in).

My second attempt at spinning

Both of these are, I believe, from fleece from the flock at the Portland Community College. Undyed, just different sheep.