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.