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.

Yarn Indulgences mini a month subscription!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, uh, win?

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

Compare with my last package from Jimmy Beans:

Definitely more flat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rose city yarn crawl – Mystery knit a long clue 1

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

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

I managed to get my yarns out of my stash:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steeking success!

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

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

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

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

Cutting!

And blocked on the mug:

Success!

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

2019 Fiber Goals

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

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

Here’s to a new year!

2018 fiber goals: how did I do?

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

2018 goals:

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

2018 Results:

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

Cascadial Wrap:

Shawl club:

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

Elephant:

Dinosaur:

Pumpkin:

Advent:

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

Dye and spin experiment:

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

Partway through organization:

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

Appropriate current state:

More baby proof! It needs smaller labels.

Decoration/closeup:

Summary:

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

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

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.

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!

Willamette Falls Shawlette

Willamette Falls Shawlette

Pattern

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

Unblocked:
Willamette Falls Shawlette

My project

My project on Ravelry

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

Willamette Falls Shawlette

As it was, I just barely made it work:

Cast off and won at yarn chicken! 🐔 #knitting

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Yarn

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

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

Wollefe Yarn

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

Willamette Falls Shawlette

Summary

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

Lionberry Shawl

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

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

Lionberry Shawl

Yarn

Scrumptious 4-Ply by Fiberspates

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

Lionberry Shawl

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

Lionberry Shawl

Pattern

Lionberry Shawl by Narniel of Endor

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

Blocking! #knitting

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

Unblocked:
Lionberry Shawl

Blocked:
Lionberry Shawl

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

Go Tell the Bees

Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

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

Yarn

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

Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

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

Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

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

Pattern

Go Tell the Bees by PDXKnitterati.

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

Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

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

Go Tell the Bees Knit-a-long

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

Project

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

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

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

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

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

Bounce Blanket

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

Yarn

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

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

Bounce Blanket

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

Pattern

Bounce by TinCanKnits.

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

Bounce Blanket

Photos

In progress:
Bounce Blanket

Bounce Blanket

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

Pre-blocking:
Bounce Blanket

Bounce Blanket

Blocking:
Bounce Blanket

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

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long

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

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017 MKAL

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

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

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

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017 MKAL

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

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

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017 MKAL

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

Glitz Shawl

It’s February, so clearly it’s time to start breaking out the posts about Christmas gifts that I made. I always think I’m going to prep the posts in advance so they run in January, but then life happens. This year it was a trip to India that took prep time in January and then a big chuck out of February!

So here’s the first of my holiday gift items: a Glitz shawl made for my sister!

Pattern: Glitz Shawl by Kelli Slack

Kelli is a designer with exceptional taste who does a lot of patterns for my local yarn store. I am always admiring her designs in store, but I think this might be the first one I’ve knit up! It definitely won’t be my last. This is a really nicely written pattern with clear charts and good written instructions. I might have marked a few more things as repeats because of the algorithmic way I think about patterns (and the way my eyes skip over the written instructions when I’m tired), but a bit of highlighting and the chart kept me on track without much trouble.

I did this one exactly as written, which means it was actually the easiest of the gifts I made this year, since I made the rest of them up (and tried valiantly to keep notes on what I did).

I particularly love the little dangle bead detail on in this design. I may have to use the same idea in other projects I do!

Yarn: Teresa Ruch Tencel 5/2

I am so obsessed with this yarn that the folk at my local yarn store tease me about how I have to oggle the new stock all the time, but the colours are just that great, and the yarn itself blocks like a dream and has this perfect drape and sheen. Especially with crochet, it just ups the elegance of pretty much every project I’ve tried it on, since it’s such a light fingering weight and it practically glows with colour.

I have used it for a few projects now (most recently completed: Cadfael), but this was first time knitting with it. The yarn really helps make the “Glitz” that the shawl’s named for stand out, although I opted to go with a blue rather than the metallic tones it was designed for. The blue makes it a bit more like something you might have in an Elsa from Frozen cosplay, but since my sister and I have spent years cosplaying together, I didn’t think she’d mind. And besides, she looks good in blue. (Okay, she looks good in pretty much anything, even when we intentionally do thrift store finds that we can’t imagine looking good on anyone!)

It’s definitely more of a decorative piece than a warm one, so I imagine it’ll be some months before my sister can make good use of it, but hopefully it’ll be a fun wardrobe addition when the weather warms up! It was certainly a fun thing to make.

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

Triangle Hat

I bought some mini skeins from Knitted Wit to make a hat, but then the pattern that I was sure I had didn’t seem to exist in my pattern collection, so I made it up as I went and this is the result. (I suspect in hindsight that I might have been thinking of the triangle mitts from the Knitpicks 2015 spring accessories and not a hat at all.)

Edit: Someone on Ravelry pointed out to me that this is eerily close to a pattern from Twisted, which I almost certainly saw when I bought my yarn. This is a made-from-scratch hat with different triangle sizes and fewer colours and probably wildly different math since it was sized from my swatch and my head, so I’m quite sure that it’s legally fine, but I feel uncomfortable about it looking so much like someone else’s paid pattern, so I’ll be reworking the colourwork before re-releasing it. (It seems a shame to lose all that work I did on figuring out the crown-shaping decreases and all for myself, so the new chart will be around the same size as the old one.) I’ve taken it off ravelry but will leave it up here for my own convenience while I knit a new sample. I’m sorry!

Triangle hat

I’m calling this Triangle Hat, but you have to think of this song when you say it to get the full effect of what’s inside my head. Or perhaps you’d rather not.

If you prefer, there is also a printable Triangle Hat pdf, and it’s on ravelry as well.

Triangle hat

Needle size: 6
Yarn: Knitted Wit Superwash Worsted. I am utterly in love with this yarn and immediately made two more hats after this one and will likely buy more at the next available opportunity.
1 ball main colour, 3 “gobstoppers” in contrasting colours
(This gets you two hats with leftovers)
Gauge: 21 sts per 4 inches
Sizing:
This pattern was designed to fit my head, which measures just under 24 inches. If you need something larger or smaller, the pattern happens in groups of 8, and you can scale up or down to fit your needs. For example, for a 1 year old child with a head circumference of 18 inches, you’d want 6 inches less, and the closest multiple of 8 would be 32, so you should cast on 80 stitches.

Not sure how big your intended recipient’s head might be? Here’s a head size chart. I am amused to discover that I have a “large” head as I know quite a few people with heads much larger than mine!

Brim

For “one size fits most” adult hat: CO 112 in the round.
The brim is around 1 inch of ribbing. I did the k2 through the back loop to make the stitches pop a bit more.

Rows 1-13: {k2 through the back loop, p2} repeat around

Pattern

trianglehat-chart

Apologies for the chart having been done in a spreadsheet program so the numbers don’t match, but start at the bottom (with the two main colour rows) and work your way up (or make your triangles upside-down relative to mine, that’s cool too).

Row 14-15: knit all stitches in main colour
First triangle section:
16: {k7 in colour1, k1 in main colour} repeat around
17: {k1 in main colour, k5 in colour1, k2 in main colour} repeat around
18: {k2 in main colour, k3 in colour1, k3 in main colour} repeat around
19: {k3 in main colour, k1 in colour1, k4 in main colour} repeat around
Second triangle section:
20: {k3 in colour2, k1 in main colour, k4 in colour2} repeat around
21: {k2 in colour2, k3 in main colour, k3 in colour2} repeat around
22: {k1 in colour2, k5 in main colour, k2 in colour2} repeat around
23: {k7 in main colour, k1 in colour2} repeat around
Third triangle section:
24-27: repeat first triangle section but using 3rd colour instead of first

Rows 28-37: Continue to knit all stitches in main colour for another 9 rows (or desired height)

Decreasing

38: {k14, k2tog} repeat around
39: k around
40: {k13, k2tog} repeat around
41: k around
42: {k12, k2tog} repeat around
43: k around
44: {k11, k2tog} repeat around
45: k around
46: {k10, k2tog} repeat around
47: {k9, k2tog} repeat around
48: {k8, k2tog} repeat around
49: {k7, k2tog} repeat around
50: {k6, k2tog} repeat around
51: {k5, k2tog} repeat around
52: {k4, k2tog} repeat around
53: {k3, k2tog} repeat around
54: {k2, k2tog} repeat around
55: {k1, k2tog} repeat around
56: {k2tog} repeat around.
Cut yarn and thread through remaining stitches to close the top of the hat then tie off.

Triangle hat

Triangle hat

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag – November 2016

This November Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag marks one of the few times I’ve gotten the colourway as shown in the project photo!

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: November 2016

There’s a lot of yarn in this one, although it doesn’t poof up quite as much as October’s mega bag it’s pretty close. Beyond the yarn, there’s a knitting ruler/needle sizer (I think this is my 3rd, but again, this is one of those tools where I don’t mind a few duplicates), some “metallic measuring temporary tattoos” that I find kind of inexplicable but pretty, the typical moisturizer sample (again, I prefer the wool wash samples but I guess it’s a nice way to learn the scents available). This month’s bag is also cute with the turkey and the advice. I’ve had to opt out of thanksgiving with J’s family this year, so I’ll be doing less eating and more knitting, personally!

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: November 2016

The theme for the wool was favourite yarns, but surprisingly, I’m not sure I’ve even heard of Tahki Zara, I’ve only used Noro Kureyon once (in a YOTM sample), and I’d have to check my archives to see when I last used Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted or Berroco Vintage or even if I have (I think I’ve sampled them both, though). So obviously they’re not my staple yarns, which kind of makes this bag more fun for me. Noro is the multicoloured sample, for those of you not familiar with the brand. The pink is the Zara and it feels super soft (merino!). The deep purple is the lamb’s pride and it’s a neat mohair blend that feels dense — I doubt it’ll be my favourite but it should be warm. The brown is the Berocco Vintage which is a soft acrylic/wool/nylon blend.

The pattern is a cute hat and wristlets pattern. I like the lacing, but I don’t think I’d use wristlets, so I’ll either put a thumbhole in there or save the rest of the yarn for something else, I think!

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag – October 2016

Bit of a photo-taking spree today, mostly of things that will be gifts so I can’t share them for a while. But I also photographed two Big Beanie Bags that I haven’t started knitting yet, so here’s one of them! I’ll probably save these for travel projects, so you won’t see them knit up for a while.

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: October 2016

When this bag arrived, I was shocked at how big it was even before I opened the package. It’s got two balls worth of Rowan Pure Wool in there! That is a lot more yarn than I expect in a bag, to be honest. It’s usually $10.95 on JBW’s website, so 2 balls makes up most of the subscription price of $25, not even counting everything else. (Admittedly, that’s on the high end from what the internet tells me this yarn costs, but it’s still nice to see that the value is comparable.)

Also in this package: a “handitool” (which is awesome, since my last one is missing somewhere in the house and I like having something like this in my project bags), a packet of soak handmade (meh, I’d rather the wool wash, as I have many little moisturizers in much more convenient packaging), jeweled stitch markers (a cute, cheap addition), and a legwarmer pattern. This isn’t the 80s, but honestly, since I walk around in damp winter all the time, I’m thinking warm woolen legwarmers might actually be awesome, so I might give the pattern a try.

The total standout this month is the bag itself, though, which might be my new favourite from them. The older ones have tips on the bags, which is handy, but doesn’t make them nearly as fun for knitting in public unless you’re around other knitters. This bag is fun for everyone!

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: October 2016

I have a “mystery” bag which means I don’t put any restrictions on the yarn (the other options are “neutrals” “cool” and “warm”). I got purples this month, which is really lovely. It’s the kind of colours my grandmother loves, and she has great taste.

This Rowan isn’t an ooh ahh so soft yarn, but it feels like it’ll be warm and hardwearing, so I’ll bet it’ll be perfect for the included pattern.

Overall, this subscription continues to live up to my expectations, and my only concern is that I won’t be able to keep up with my bags alongside all the other projects I want to do!

Neapolitan Scarflette – Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

I’ve been really enjoying Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bags, but I haven’t been so good about photographing my projects for both happy and sad reasons I won’t go into right now. But despite my lack of documentation, these are great! These are like the grown-up cousin to their little yarn sample bags: more yarn, projects that are more wearable (think shawls, hats, cowls) and less trinket-like (think coasters, finger puppets). What really seals it for me is that these are a perfect “fits in the purse and keeps me entertained for hours” project when I’m running off in a hurry and need something that doesn’t require planning or fancy swatches and already has yarn measured out so I’m not carrying multiple full-sized balls in my bag. I had no idea I needed grab and go kits until I had a little stash of them!

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

There’s the August kit: nice drawstring bag, glossy printed pattern, 4 balls of yarn, a packet of hand lotion (sometimes it’s wool wash, which I prefer), and a little notions box. The notion changes every month, and sometimes the yarn isn’t 4 balls, but it’s similar most months.

I like the little notions box, although I haven’t quite figured out what to put in all its little teensy compartments, and I should have taken a picture with it open for you to see them all!

If you’re curious, here’s the Jimmy Beans (small) beanie bag and the Yarn of the Month bag for August 2016, since this was an overlap month before I decided to drop the smaller subscriptions.

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

August’s yarn came from Koigu, a brand I’d heard of but didn’t realize they were from Ontario. So I learned something new! The yarn very easy to knit with, maybe a bit less fuzzy/haloed than I like for my shawls, but that makes it easier to wear when it’s not really *that* cold in the office.

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

The pattern for August is Neapolitan Scarflette by Rachel Roden. I think she’s RachelUnraveled on Ravelry, but this design doesn’t seem to be up so it might be someone else. This is a pattern that is simple to knit but annoying to count, since there’s a lot of sections that are almost but not quite the same. I assume a lot of this was just in trying to make good use of the 4 same-sized balls of yarn, but it did have me thinking a lot about how to optimize pattern writing to make the changed sections easier to notice. I suspect my next more complicated patterns are going to have a lot of colours or something as a result of this. Or possibly just be more simplified in memory of all the times I’ve cruised past the directions because I’m in a rhythm.

One thing I really liked about this pattern was the fact that it calls out a useful skill to learn: knitting the ends in as you go. Definitely this shawl encourages you to learn that one with all the colour changes! Knitting in ends as I go is not something I did all the time before and I think I’ll find myself doing it automatically now after all that practice, so I’m pretty pleased that they put that in. I’m leveling up in fibercraft in leaps and bounds lately!

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

Here it is all balled up more like I’d wear it as a scarf, and you can see that there’s still some yarn leftover! I love the colours, so hopefully I’ll find a nice time to use these in a spot of colourwork. Doing colourwork remains one of the reasons I was willing to get so many small balls of yarn after all!

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

Overall I was very pleased with this kit. I actually started my subscription up again right after the initial 3 months finished because I heard they had a few of these left and I could get one, and I’m pretty pleased that I did.

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!

Starry Stole

Starry Stole

This was actually my first beaded knitting project, and it’s a miracle it wasn’t my last, as it called for threading hundreds of beads (700 the pattern said!) on beautiful laceweight wool.

It took me 5 years to finish.

Well, okay, I can’t be sure it was 5 years, because I didn’t actually put this project in Ravelry with a start date, but it was pretty early on in my knitting career, and was started when I lived in Albuquerque, so that only really gives me a possible 2 year window. It’s at least 4 years, anyhow. It felt like forever. I’ve probably finished another half dozen beaded projects before I came back to this one and finally finished it off.

Pattern: Starry Stole
Yarn: I believe it was the discontinued Knitpicks Shimmer Hand Dyed Lace
Ravelry Link: My Starry Stole

I can definitely tell you that I wouldn’t try to string beads on that yarn again — it felted little rings as you slid the beads along, the beads wrapped around each other making terrible almost-knots. I’m more experienced now, and I know that fighting with yarn and beads like this is unnecessary now thanks to nice tools like my bead-aid. Stringing them on meant I could slip-stitch them to float on one side, though, and that is actually pretty nice in the final feel of the piece.

Starry Stole

Despite many frustrating moments and the huge number of times I set it down in favour of some less irritating project, the final piece is beautiful. The soft lace yarn floats over my skin with the beads providing sparkle and just enough weight. I wish the yarn wasn’t discontinued! It feels like something out of a fairy tale, and it looks like it too.

Starry Stole

Because this was a very early project for me, it’s pretty easy for me to spot the mistakes: here’s where I had too heavy a stitch marker and it pulled on the yarn, here’s a place where I botched the lace edging and guessed at a fix, here’s a section where the tension isn’t quite even. But blocking smoothed most of that out and the result is beautiful even with some signs of my inexperience knit in to the piece. Maybe that tangible record of how far I’ve come is part of the magic of this shawl.

Starry Stole

I learned a lot from this one, and I’m glad I finally finished it, because it really is lovely.

Starry Stole