Work made me do a training on “Objectives and Key Results” which is just a business-y version of the goal setting techniques I learned in grade school: choose something big you want to do, even if you’re not sure all the steps to get you there or it’s not a thing that ever finishes, then choose some concrete things you can do that you think might move yourself in the right direction. Then learn from what you do and adjust and iterate.
I’m starting to brainstorm about Fiber Goals for the year, and it’s got me thinking that they often fall into a few “objective” style categories:
1. Use what I have.
Like many crafters, I aquire supplies faster than I use them. I don’t necessarily consider this a bad thing: I like having the materials on hand when I get an idea or have to pivot late at night when something doesn’t work out. I also find I need a certain amount of materials on hand or I get too anxious about using things up. But there’s only so much space in my house so I don’t want to collect indefinitely! Plus I have good taste and I like using my stuff.
Example previous fiber goals that fit with this objective: using my self striping and gradient yarns, using kits.
2. Try something new.
I like learning new things, and sometimes making one into a goal for the year helps me set aside time to do it! A lot of these have been things I could take classes in like learning to spin.
3. Do something hard / push my limits
“Hard” here doesn’t always mean that the action has to be hard. Often it means doing projects that are bigger or require more concentration, or can’t be done with my kid in the room. Sometimes it means just doing something I wouldn’t normally do.
The hardest example was finishing my sabbatical quilt, which was a slog for many reasons. A fun one was revisiting brioche.
4. Have fun.
Sometimes the goals are just something I think would be fun to do! Like making more toys for my kid this year.
There’s nothing wrong with fiber goals that fit into multiple categories: Knitting rainbows, for example, used stash and was fun and was pushed my habits to do something I hadn’t been doing naturally.
I don’t know that every fiber goal I set or brainstorm quite fits into these “objectives” but I do find them useful for brainstorming next year’s goals so I can get a mix of types of fiber goals in my draft doc before I choose four.
This will be my ninth year of doing fiber goals rather than new years resolutions and I love this tradition for myself.
Before rows 3, 4, 5 I added a row of double crochet to make the “stem” a bit longer than it was in the original design. It would be a bit more game accurate to make it thinner/taller but then it might need some reinforcement to stand up. As my 5 year old immediately put on the hat and started headbang-smacking his dad with the leaf, I think I made the right choice to avoid any stiffeners or wire in this project.
I own a lot of those books. They’re mostly too long and serious for my kid still. He prefers books about dogs and animals and science and silliness. And that’s ok. The books will wait. So many of the books about people we get from in the library “mystery bags” are also about pain, about history, about overcoming. It’s no wonder he only wants to read things with dogs in them.
But this pull quote got me. I was… Maybe 7 the first time I remember being told about the Japanese interment in Canada? I asked my mom why dad didn’t want to come to a remembrance day ceremony at my school and she gave me some age appropriate answer about how dad didn’t really want to remember being locked up by the Canadian government.
I remember reading Obasan as an older kid on a road trip to Fundy National Park. I think maybe that was the youngest book available at the time, other than the history books. I read Sadako and the Thousand Paper cranes and folded a thousand with a friend in high school.
I’m glad that there’s a lot more stories available now, and gutted that so many of them are being “challenged” in the US because so many people don’t know about the internment camps or really a lot of the less savory parts of history. And it matters to what we do now to understand at least some of it.
Since I’ve got a PhD in computer security, I spend a lot of time talking with colleagues about privacy, and there’s a pervasive “I don’t have anything to hide so privacy isn’t a big deal” attitude in many places. People are appalled when I explain that privacy concerns sound a lot more reasonable when you consider the history the US government has of, for example, using census data to destroy minority communities or incarcerate them. This isn’t just a thought exercise for ethical technical folk to consider when setting up privacy, this is a lived experience for many people — just not always the people in the room. And not teaching that experience is having real word consequences right now.
Anyhow, I don’t really know what I’m saying except that books matter, which you all know. And I don’t know how I’m going to explain internment more deeply to my kid either. But I will have to, one day soon. And I’m glad I have more books, more stories to help us get there.
[Note: I wrote this up last year/summer of 2022, never quite finished it, and never published it as a result. I don’t know if I remember enough here to finish writing this up properly without knitting the socks again. I don’t want it languishing in my drafts and I’m not sure when I’ll feel inclined to write it up as a real pattern. So I’m just gonna publish it anyhow and I hope it helps someone else who wants to play with a fun technique!]
The folk at Knitted Wit had a fun summer bingo this year, and one of the squares was “I tried a new-to-me sock technique” so I decided to try knitting two at a time socks with the socks nested inside each other. One of the people in my old Saturday knitting group used to do this somewhat regularly and I was intrigued. I wasn’t up to knitting full sized socks just to try a technique, so I worked from the knitted mirror socks pattern and scaled it down to 24 stitch mini socks and took out all the colour changes.
Since I couldn’t find anyone else who’d done a tiny version of this, I’m writing up my notes in case you too want to try a new technique but don’t want to commit weeks of your life to doing it!
Tips before you start
Choosing yarns: make sure they look very different. Ideally you want high contrast and not a single speckle that matches. I used one speckle and one solid to help me differentiate and because I was using leftovers from previous projects. You might find it easier to just use two solids for the least stressful experience. It doesn’t matter in the finished project since the socks will be separated, but it’ll make the learning experience easier if you can tell your yarns apart even when you can only see a little stitch sticking out.
Choosing needles: you want sharp needles with long tapers at the tips because p2tog through the back loop is a pain on blunter tipped needles. I used chiaogoo size 1 because it’s what I have on hand that suits the fingering weight yarn I used. I think this pattern would have been frustrating if I’d tried to use my Knit Picks or Addi needles, even though the addis are my usual go-to for socks. I used a long circular and had a “top” and “bottom” needle. Two dpns (with a third working needle) would work just as well.
You’re going to be knitting top-down with the two socks nested, with the outer one inside out. This arrangement keeps the yarns to the correct side of the socks slightly more easily. If you’ve done double knitting before, it’ll feel pretty similar, you just have to be very careful about not crossing your yarns inside the tube.
CO 24 stitches in the round. Do 4 rounds of k1, p1 ribbing. (You could do this two at a time but it’s only 4 rows and this way you get to start on something easier.)
Get a second set of needles, do it again. (Cast on 24 stitches, do 4 rounds of k1 p1 ribbing)
Decide which is going to be sock A, the outside sock that you’re going to purl in reverse stockinette, and which will be sock B, the inside sock that you will knit in regular stockinette. If one of your yarns is a bit thicker than the other, you’ll want it to be sock A because the gauge is going to be slightly bigger and you might as well have the yarn help. This wouldn’t be as important on full sized socks, but it’s noticeable on such tiny ones. (Guess how I know…)
Arrange the two socks on one set of needles so that the stitches alternate. Sock A, sock B, A, B, A, B and so on. I put 24 stitches on one needle (12 of A, 12 of B) to be the top of foot, and the remaining 24 on a second needle to be the bottom of foot.
Move yarn A to the front and B to the back. I hold both yarns in my left hand, so I found it easier to keep A in front with my thumb while working B.
Leg Row: Purl A, Knit B 24 times being careful not to cross your yarns.
Knit for about one thumb width of stockinette/reverse stockinette, checking periodically to make sure your yarns haven’t crossed. My thumb is around 2cm or 3/4 of an inch if you prefer to use a ruler, but since this sock doesn’t have to fit anyone I’m sure your thumb will be good enough too. Or you can just eyeball it.
Go to whichever needle you’ve designated as the bottom and start the heel flap. This will be knit flat over only the bottom needle’s stitches.
Row 1: slip A, slip B, then [Purl A, Knit B] 11 times, turn work.
Row 2: slip B, slip A, then [Purl B, knit A] 11 times, turn work.
Repeat these rows 6 times, so you should have 6 slipped stitches up the side.
You’re going to be doing decreases now, which means you’ll have to rearrange the stitches so two A and two B yarns are next to each other.
Row 1: [purl A, knit B] 7 times, rearrange stitches for decreases, dec A (p2tog), dec B (ssk) turn.
Row 2: [purl B, knit A] 3 times, rearrange stitches dec B dec A turn.
Row 3: [purl A, knit B] …
Continue like this until dec is at end of each row 8? stitches per sock
Pick up 6 stitches along edge of flap, continue as before across sock, pick up 6 on other edge.
You likely will have a little hole at the heel, particularly on the outside socks that are stretched out a bit more. Rather than fussing over it, just plan to sew it closed at the end.
Foot Row (same as leg): Purl A, Knit B 24 times being careful not to cross your yarns.
Knit in stockinette/reverse stockinette until the foot looks long enough to you. I once again used my thumb to measure and made it about the same length as the leg section.
Now here’s the part with the awkward p2togtbl so that you can match the k2tog. If you find it hard, sharper needles will tend to help. Also, since no one’s going to wear these and likely no one will care if the decreases don’t match, you could also just do a p2tog and call it a day if you want. You can graft the last few stitches if you want but these are so tiny that running the end through the last few stitches and pulling tight works fine.
I still have some stuff queued for him and a bunny kit I haven’t started, but I feel like I’ve met the goal regardless. There will always be more fun things to make!
Hand Dyed, Hand Spun
The lighter lavender and peach colours in the gnome above were dyed by my kid, and I also used one of his minis for the egg. I still haven’t gotten around to using my own handspun so that’s still on my list. Maybe doing Tour de Fleece (starting today!) will help get me in the mood for that?
I haven’t even made a dent in this goal, other than finding some yarn for the Lucy Hauge pattern that I bought. I’m going to have to prioritize that shawl for the fall, I think. And I’ve got a half-formed idea to go with a rainbow yarn I got in the spring Gauge Dyeworks club, but I haven’t even swatched that yet so I’m not sure if it’ll fit into the rest of the year.
Right now I’m back to finishing a sweater plus two things I cast on for travel (some Socks on Vacay/Pride socks and a big shawl), plus I’d like to start some socks for my mom’s birthday which should take me to mid August. It’s funny to think that I only have enough time for maybe 3 more shawl-sized projects before the end of the year, but I’m not a fast knitter and I’m planning to do baubles in November then advent/countdown something in December, so that really leaves me Aug/Sept/Oct to do something and each shawl takes me around a month so… not much time left for cables! Maybe I better make sure some of my baubles have cables? Or socks with cables?
Patterns I own
I’m currently working my way through the Golden Poppy Sweater that has been in my queue since it released:
And I started the “Bubbles of Joy” shawl which I bought as a kit intending it for travel in 2019 and then by 2020 I wasn’t doing travel so it’s been sitting in my stash for a while.
The story with the pattern is that it’s supposed to help you capture memories of joy, so I started it and took it on my first trip to Ottawa since 2019. I particularly enjoyed how well it matched an afghan made by my grandmother that my mom’s using in her house now. I’ll try to get the picture up later — wordpress is complaining it’s too big and I don’t feel like dealing with manual resizing right this second.
I’m also currently revisiting the Stumptown Socks pattern which I already owned:
Plus I finished some Glitz Mitts from a book I owned back in January and I finished an advent from 2022 in the beginning of 2023 too so it counts. So the current breakdown of knit/crochet/weaving I have listed on Ravelry looks like this:
4 patterns I owned before 2023
2 plain weavings (no pattern to buy exactly although I did take the course)
2 free patterns (amigurumi heart, a sock pattern I haven’t shown yet)
2 patterns I made up (rainbow + socks, feather shawl)
5 new patterns I bought (the gnome, romi mystery shawl, easter egg, good bear, rcyc mcal)
On the embroidery front, it’s all been stuff from stash including the Constellation Sampler and Floral Necklaces, plus I’ve got a summer sampler and a bee sampler on the go now. (I did buy a couple of extra samplers this year but on average I’m using more than I purchase. Which is definitely not something I can say about my yarn habit.)
So even though it’s only a few patterns, the ratio of “cast on new exciting thing” to “actually use what you have” is feeling pretty good. Plus most of the new things I bought were to go with knitalongs, which scratch a bit of a community itch that’s been a bit hard of late so I don’t regret finding a few opportunities for that!
I’d say 2 goals are pretty much done, the 3rd has some progress, and the 4th has a plan. Not bad!
Still catching up on finished projects! These three necklaces were from a kit that had been in my stash for a while, and I wanted something tiny and colourful after finishing up last year’s year-long constellation embroidery project.
I probably won’t wear them as necklaces. They’re small enough but a bit heavy and long, and honestly I mostly just wear shawls around my neck now. But they make lovely Christmas ornaments so I’ll probably put some loops on them and enjoy them that way instead.
I had some trouble getting the focus right because Hatch really wanted to help, including lying down on the blanket I was using as a photo backdrop:
Last year, I decided to do this constellation embroidery sampler from Kiriki press as a year-long project, doing each zodiac constellation as it came up in the year and occasionally doing the other non-zodiac ones. (It took me a bit more than a year because I didn’t see any point in rushing during December when I had a bunch of other projects on the go — I should really start year-long projects in Februrary or something!)
I used gold metallic thread in place of the gold coloured thread that came with the kit. It looks great in person but it’s finicky and doesn’t show up as anything fancy in photos. But it looks great in my office, promise!
I got to use my favourite lazy finishing technique: cut a circle out of cardboard using the inner hoop as a template. Flip the edges of the fabric into the hoop, then squish the cardboard in. Done! Perfect for things that are going to hang and not be touched much (unlike the necklace embroideries, that need both stitching and glue).
Last summer, I had a moment where I put my book reviews on here. The first book post explains why:
I’ve been taking pictures of my library returns pile and doing little reviews in the captions of my Instagram, which is fun for sharing what I’m reading right now with my mom and friends but it’s not searchable or easy to find later, and Instagram is notorious for mystifying and often racist moderation policies so I worry that I should keep stuff I might want later in places I own. I tried cutting/pasting the reviews on Mastadon but the size limit is too short and half my pictures won’t upload without manually editing them. And I tried using LibraryThing but it’s a lot of work to add each book and cut/paste so I haven’t been consistent there yet either.
But then I stopped, so I just wanted to make a note about what happened.
We decided to up the post limit on Mastodon and I’ve gotten used to resizing photos on my phone, so my book reviews are going there (and sometimes still Instagram and Librarything) for now. I didn’t love how copying the reviews here weekly meant most of my posts here seemed to be about book reviews. Most of my crafts take a least a month to complete , but I read around 4-6 new kid books and 1-3 adult/young adult books or graphic novels per week so it doesn’t take much to overwhelm this blog.
I really love it when other people have monthly round up blog posts of what they’re crafting and what they’ve read on their blogs, so maybe I’ll see if I can manage something like that eventually.
Right now, though, blogging is hard to fit into my schedule and honestly more people read my stuff on Mastodon than here anyhow. So if you want to see new book reviews from me, go to https://social.afront.org/@terri — you don’t have to sign up for anything, and you can even add it into your rss feed reader or whatever. My husband owns afront.org so it’s not going anywhere and if you know me and want an account invite, let me know.
This is a Susan B Anderson pattern with a kit from her store (Barrett Wool Co.). I love these kits: they’re well designed and have carefully thought out techniques. I didn’t love this thinner version of the yarn as much as I liked the thick one I used for the giraffe I did — it’s very rustic in a good way, but a bit more finicky and less squishy in the smaller size — but it was still well suited for the task. Kiddo has named him “Green Bear” for now, a name with much honour since it is his favourite colour. He chose the buttons, which are a ladybug and a plane. I’m so glad I have a stash of kid buttons for this sort of thing since he loves digging through them to choose some for each of these animals. I went really lazy and used the plastic cotter pins used on the card to also attach them to the bear.
This one is from a pattern by Stacey Lewis, the designer who makes all the baubles I highly enjoyed in November/December 2022. (They’re just so satisfying and quick!) She knits it with a plastic egg as insert, which looks less lumpy, but my kid *loves* playing catch with soft things so I turned it into a bean bag.
The local yarn crawl always has two mystery-a-longs: one for crocheters and one for knitters. I decided to do the crochet one this year, largely because the designer seemed interesting and had some good designs in her portfolio.
Although you can see from the photo above, I mostly crochet with audiobooks (and Dragon with the Chocolate Heart was lovely), this was simple enough that I was able to read a physical book as well. And boy did I need to: there was a *lot* of single crochet and counting. Boring! But it did make for some striking results.
My gauge loosened up considerably while crocheting this, which was good for my hands but made the shape a little weird. Thankfully, it was a very forgiving design since you sew the two side triangles onto the center panel at the end, and the seams sit over my shoulders in such a way that they’re not particularly noticeable when worn even though that’s where the gauge change would be most visible.
Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to crochet this if it weren’t a mystery since I’m not really into giant moon motifs *or* giant piles of single crochet. As a *mystery* it was decidedly non-mysterious. The first clue and last clue make the same wings, and the design was pretty apparent from clue 2 so 3-4 weren’t much of a mystery either. Despite my worries about the sheer amount of flat crochet, I managed to do it without making my wrists sore, but it took some intentional choices and resting to make that work.
Complaints aside: I enjoyed learning to do crochet intarsia colourwork to make the moons, and it was a striking piece to wear out to the one shop we visited this year. And technically I met a 2023 fiber goal because I bought the pattern before 2023 but since it only came out in December it only barely counts. I think I’ll go back to my policy of waiting until clue 2 spoilers are available before deciding if it’s worth doing the mystery-a-longs next year, but it was neat to do it as intended this year, and I got to use up most of three balls from my stash!
The slides below are just images (no alt text or notes — if you want those see the ODP link above). I’m planning to update them with something closer to the talk content after the conference but it might take a while.
I live in a part of the Pacific Northwest that doesn’t get *that* cold, so I mostly get by with fingerless gloves. But then I got a dog and when I’m doing the last dog walk of the night it can be a bit nippy, so I switch to full mitts, the same ones I wear I go home to Canada in winter.
This should have worked perfectly except…
The warmer mitts don’t fit in my pocket, so I forgot them a lot on night walks.
Even when I remembered them, I wound up taking them off repeatedly so I could use my phone while Hatch checked his pee-mail.
So I made new mitts! The pattern is the Glitz Mitts from Knit Happy with Self Striping Yarn. I liked the fact that they’re knit with two different weights of yarn, and I made one of them alpaca for extra warmth. But then instead of closing the thumbs up I put in a few rounds of ribbing and left them open.
Turns out you only really need your thumb to play Pikmin while walking the dog, so they’re perfect! ❤️
My first finish for 2023 was the Winter Skies Cowl. This was an advent kit combining West Coast Yarn with a modular knitting pattern from PNW Knit Designs. It was pretty neat to get charts on little cards for easier mixing and matching!
The colour palette was listed beforehand so I knew I’d be getting something much more muted than my usual choices, which was fun. I hadn’t thought about it beforehand but it fits pretty well with my silver/charcoal jacket.
I don’t knit cowls much any more because they’ve been consistently my least worn knits, but with Hatch in my life now I do a lot more walking late at night when it’s cold enough to actually use one, so this one gets used nearly daily even though it’s too hot to wear during the day.
This was a joy to knit and even though it was my last advent kit finished, I never felt rushed or sick of it because I could change up the pattern as I went to fit my mood. The whole kit included stitch markers and beautiful scissors and stickers and it was really well thought out and fun. I’m so glad I got this one!
Honestly, this is mostly a test of the Mastodon posting thing which apparently only works if I start a post from the web and not the app. (Unlike the Dreamwidth posting tool, which is clearly superior)
But here’s a picture of my new quilt in progress so that this is kind of a real post too.
This is squares from 5 (or maybe 6?) different “charm packs” of 5 inch squares from Craft Emporium PDX. The packs are relatively cheap so I kind of accumulated a few before I had a plan for them.
Yesterday was my favourite of all US holidays, MLK Day. I won’t pretend to have a deep connection to it (I’m not American after all) but it’s a day off exactly when I need some volunteer time every year and that’s a wonderful gift of a day.
I’m once again spearheading the Google Summer of Code effort for the Python Software Foundation. The website is updated as of yesterday so you can read about it there and I’m not gonna write any more blurbs: https://python-gsoc.org/
I took over coordinating Python in 2013 (though I did Mailman and Systers before that) and now that I’ve noticed last year was my 10th year with Python I’m kind of sad I didn’t throw a party for myself. Oh well! But my fellow coordinators got community awards last year so that’s pretty celebratory!
PS – We’re always open to taking on new projects who want to mentor new contributors. If you’re interested, see the link above for details. We’ll be opening signups later in the week after the admin team meets and makes sure the signup system is ready to go.
For the past many years I’ve done fiber goals in lieu of new year’s resolutions. They’re a kind of fun way to direct my crafting for the year. I usually focus on some skill building, some “use the supplies you already have” type planning, and some things that I wouldn’t naturally do without a goal that I revisit every few months. Links to previous years are at the bottom of the post, but let’s start with this year’s goals!
1. Toys. my kid loves the gnomes and I should binge on making him stuff while he’s still into that. Probably some cute veggies and stuff for pretend play since he’s been loving making fake foods, and also some uber-cute amigurumi stuff because he’s been leaning in to cuteness lately. Maybe another Susan B Anderson pattern since I really enjoyed the giraffe? Or more video game stuff? Plus if you’ve seen any cute dog patterns, let me know!
2. Hand-dyed, hand-spun. I’ve got a nice stash of yarns dyed by my kid and myself, as well as some handspun yarns I’ve made that are currently just sitting around. Let’s try to make something with at least one of each this year, but hopefully more?
4. Patterns I own. I own a lot of patterns that I’ve never knit. Some I even bought yarn for, but a lot are because I wanted something else in the magazine/collection, they were free for a limited time/with purchase, or sometimes I buy patterns as a tipping mechanism for designers whose work I admire. I recently made mitts for my mom from a pattern I don’t even remember buying and they’re really great, so I want to poke around my collection a bit and see what else I’m missing. Let’s try to do at least 2 from patterns bought before 2023. (I’ll also count the last few years of knitty patterns in here, at least since I joined the Patreon.) Since I knit about 12-20 things per year, that definitely won’t stop me from buying new patterns but hopefully will encourage me to look through my list!
I always start this list around when I do my mid-year checkin and generate a lot of ideas before I settle on 4. Here’s the ones that didn’t make the cut — they’re still good ideas, just maybe I’m not ready to commit to working on them right now.
Stash related goals: Actually calculating in/out to see how things are going. More knitting machine experiments to use yarn faster? More organization (there’s still a few boxes that haven’t been properly integrated into the new box sorting system). Someone was talking about using 2023g of yarn in 2023 and maybe I could try that?
Two-colour projects / Perfect pairings: I have a nice stash of pairs of yarn, but I need to use more of them because I’m acquiring pairs faster than I use them (and the box where I keep them is a bit on the over-full side). I do the big Romi mystery shawl once per year and sometimes also do the rose city yarn crawl one (though this year they upped it to 3 skeins so no help there), but I think i need to plan for some non-mystery uses. Also, I haven’t done double-knitting in a while and maybe I should? Or brioche?
Sweater stash: I currently have a few sweater quantities of yarn: a Golden Poppy kit from Black Squirrel Berkley, a fade set from Space Cadet that I’ve got a few pattern ideas for, and a Knit Picks Barnsdall Cardi kit with blue and white yarns that I honestly don’t even know if it’s worth doing now. Plus I’ve got a few big mini sets that could reasonably become sweaters but don’t have patterns selected yet: a set of summer solstice minis from Teal Torch Knits, and a Kitty Pride Fibers summertime minis set that could be something else but I kind of have my heart set on a stripey sweater, and I’ve got a smaller set from Alwan Sultan Fibers that I really want as the bottom to a sweater. 6 sweaters-in-waiting is a lot if I only knit one per year (though some could and maybe should be switched to non-sweater use), so maybe try for two (or more!) in 2023.
Embroidery. I had fun with the big year-long constellations project, maybe there’s something else I could set up for myself with quarterly kits or something? I have some kiriki press dolls, and a lot of kits left over from my Fireside Textiles patreon subscription that I really do want to do, plus a few tiny necklaces and stuff.
Quilting: Maybe a monthly block project? Plus I’ve got the Adventureland kit to finish and a half baked plan of putting my charm packs into something gradient-ish.
Kits: I still have kits to use. They’re not out of control or anything, but it’s always good to go through them and make sure I actually get to make them or consider gifting them to someone else if I don’t. As well as the knitting ones, I even have a felting kit that I haven’t finished.
Prune the queue: My ravelry queue has over 100 things in it, some of which are just not going to happen: some were added when my kid was little before I knew what he would and wouldn’t like, some of which were added when I actually wore worsted weight sweaters, etc. It’s time to move more things to favourites if I don’t actually have plans to knit them.
Smaller Shawls: Is it time to revisit this much-delayed goal from 2020? I still love wearing smaller shawls, but I’ve been focusing on bigger knits because I don’t need to carry them to work and because honestly I need sweaters more now that I’m walking the dog after dark. So maybe not this year.
Knitty patterns. I’ve sponsored the Knitty magazine for a while now through their Patreon, and not only do they have regular new patterns but they also have a pretty intriguing back catalogue. I’ve knit a few knitty patterns and they tend to be pretty great, but I don’t always think to look there for stuff.
Organize the books/magazines. I’ve got a few books and magazines full of patterns, and some of them don’t much use because it’s not ready to search them. I’d like to spend time getting those books up on a single shelf in our library downstairs so they’re easy to search, maybe list them in my ravelry library so they’ll show up in searches better, and of course actually knit some designs!
Weaving. I’ve really wanted to do a class at Craft Emporium PDX for weaving but it felt not viable as covid numbers surged. But I still want to do it and at this point they’re one of few places still requiring masks.
Tunisian crochet. I thought after my one shawl took a year that I probably was done with this, but now that I have the hook I kind of want to try a sampler scarf or something just to try some stitches. Could even do this as a year long 12 months of stitches to try?
Spinning. Do more spinning year-round, somehow, because blitzing for Tour de Fleece hurts my hands and I need to keep the muscles in shape. I thought the swatch-a-long might work for that but it hasn’t so far, so I may need a new spinning goal. Monthly minis or some sort of year-round rainbow thing? Trying more bulky yarns? Maybe having something like a shawl or blanket that I’m adding to year round? I was pretty happy with how the different weight yarns worked in my Steggie so maybe that would be an idea?
e-spinning: try to really get to know my new eew nano 2. I love the idea of an e-spinner but mostly I actually like treadling so given the choice I turn to the big wheel. But I need to spin more to build the muscles I need so maybe a portable setup is the way to go? (Also one my kid is less interested in sticking papers in…)
This has been my favourite goal. I’ve knit so many things! And they’re great for a dopamine hit because they draw both social media likes and in-person compliments. But even if they didn’t, I just really enjoy buying and knitting rainbows, and I love wearing them, so I think this one is going to be a forever goal now. Some finished-post-July projects:
The Rainbow Sweater (Pattern: Playdate from Tin Can Knits, Yarn from PassionKnits yarns)
The Queer Enough Shawl (design by me! Yarn from Knitted Wit)
The Spring Rainbow Shawl (design by me! Yarn from Chemknits)
The Family Dye Day Shawl (design by me! Not written up yet. Yarn from Knit Picks but dyed by the whole family.)
I also did some rainbowy tie dye with my kid, and started a lightly rainbowy quilt.
And I’m currently working on the Rainbow of Emotions kit which is obviously pretty rainbow-y, a rainbow sock to knit in my “spare” December time (between all the countdown calendars), and i cast on a rainbow pair of mitts (because I could use some longer fingerless mitts for winter dog walks.)
Goal 2: Advents Past
I “finished” the Little Box of Crochet advent from 2018! I say “finished” because I did skip two more religious ornaments (an angel and a baby Jesus) because I just wasn’t feeling it. I’ll probably do them later since I have the yarn, and I’ve got ample supplies to duplicate the ones I like. But I *feel* done so I’m counting it. Saving the book to pull out a few times later vs not having crocheted the ones I wanted feels very different.
I also finished the tree sampler from Dropcloth Samplers that I’d been working on for quite some time. Not an advent but the result was holiday ornaments so it feels like it’s in the same category!
That leaves me with one advent from years past that I haven’t done (mostly because I didn’t love the pattern), and one 10-day countdown that I have a plan for but haven’t cast on. Not bad! Well, plus all the ones I’m doing now, but I’m keeping up with those so far! I’ve also got two that are “yarn collecting” ones and I’ll decide what to do with them after I see the whole countdown.
Goal 3: Where we’re going we don’t need patterns
This has been a huge success in that I’ve played with a lot more of my own designs. The three rainbow ones again:
I’ve found that if I don’t try to focus on designs that I can explain to others or where everything has to fit in a single chart and line up the repeats, I can be differently creative. Amusingly, this goal has resulted in me actually writing more partial patterns as you can see from the links. I feel like the notes are mostly written for my own use and if someone else finds them handy then good but I don’t stress over it. And I always have the option of writing up in detail later if I want to. This one is probably also going to be a goal I take with me forever now.
That said, my friend M really did knit the Queer Enough Shawl so that one at least can be knit (though she did have some fixes I need to add to the post).
Goal 4: Finish the Sabbatical Quilt
I did it!
This felt huge because I had a lot of Feelings around it — I felt shoved into taking the sabbatical and going part time at work, I was completely wiped out for most of the 7 weeks due to the first and second covid vaccines so I didn’t actually have enough time to finish it, and maybe I needed a more structured existing pattern for my first big quilt to take some of the mental load off. But the quilt is lovely, it’s on my kid’s bed and gets used every day, not only to sleep, but also he loves the little houses on the back so sometimes we make up stories about them during bedtime or spread it out and have his toys racing from house to house delivering packages.
I took a decent break after finishing, but I did start a new quilt learning from my experience with the first one: more pre-cut fabric (since I hate cutting), used an actual pattern (so I didn’t have to calculate stuff) and it’s smaller (so hopefully the actual machine quilting will be better). It’s going well, and I’m enjoying taking it slow and learning. It’s nice to have transferred this from the “hobby I have some regrets about” to “hobby I actualy enjoy on occasion.” And I’m *loving* the experience of looking at fabrics in a new way. So this goal was a success beyond where I thought it would be!
The “other” ideas
As in previous years, I fill my fiber goals brainstorming sheet with ideas all year, then just promote the chosen 4 to the top but leave the other ideas hanging around so I can read them and be inspired even if I wasn’t really ready to commit to putting them on the must-do list. So here’s some others that I did progress on:
Squishing the Stash — on top of destashing some acrylic, I’ve also been re-organizing my office. I used to have all my yarns sticking out where I can touch them, but after a few incidents with carpet beetles I had swapped them to smaller plastic boxes to reduce exposure to bugs. Unfortunately, the boxes with lids that fit in my shelves used up a fair amount of space leaving my stash in a bunch of large bins that didn’t fit on the shelf. So this year I picked up some more drawer-style things and a lot more plastic bags and I think I’ve found a reasonable solution. I still have a few bins for the bigger yarns, but I’m slowly getting things organized. I’d guess it’s around 80% there?
I haven’t resorted to vacuum sealing… yet!
More Kits – Both the advents and the rainbows helped me use things that I think of as kits, and in this second half of the year I also made a Tiny Giraffe kit from Barrett Wool Co. and made that, which was a total delight.
I also did a tiny Laura Nelkin cuff kit, which was fun! I’ll have to keep an eye out for new kits from her. They’re tiny and interesting to make.
Spinning – I did tour de fleece and tried to low-key join a spin-along immediately after, but got stalled out because I needed a physical break. But I did get all my handspun into a nice bin where I can see it and I have plans! I feel like I spun as much as I really wanted to and that’s fine, but I also want to plan so I spin a bit more year round so I don’t overdo it all during the Tour. Something to think about!
Embroidery – I continued to embroider (see: the tree sampler and the constellation sampler) but no pushing on big goals here. And that’s ok, that’s why they didn’t make the top 4! Embroidery continues to fill the niche of “I need a break from my knitting” and I think that’s about what I want out of it so we’re good.
The Act of Sewing – I made 1 shirt (it’s not great) and 4 skirts (I love them so much) but no pants yet! Expect at least one more skirt in the spring. I also have fabric and a pattern for a shirt that I think will suit me better; we’ll see.
Other Crafts – I made a tiny weaving!
And I did make the Giraffe toy and some gnomes, including a giant one that has been a source of much delight and a few owies.
I am so delighted with how these goals (and bonus ideas) worked out for me.
I’m pretty happy with how I divided my time between crafts: mostly knitting (since I can multitask) with embroidery and sewing thrown in when I need to use different muscles. Then a little bit of crochet and spinning when I have something I want to do, like (Tour de Fleece or the Little Box of Crochet advent). My only concern is that I need to spread out my spinning time a bit more so I don’t overdo it in the summer.
I bought these lovely yarns from the ChemKnits Spring Mini Series. My kid and I have been enjoying her tutorials for dyeing yarn with food colouring, and so I thought this would be a nice way to support the channel and give me and kiddo a week of videos to watch. Plus he loves rainbows. He didn’t watch all of them with me, but we did a bunch!
I was looking at my 2022 Fiber Goals and decided to try doing two at once: rainbows and skipping the pattern. But in case I decide to make a pattern later, I’m putting some notes here. If you’re an experienced knitter this is probably enough to knit this shawl. If you’re not comfortable doing stuff like using a stitch dictionary to fill in a different pattern into a space, this may not be enough for you. (There’s lots of great other patterns out there though! If you like rainbows and don’t love garter stitch, I recommend Shannon Squire’s Spell Shawl which is great for fading)
Shaping: My spring rainbow shawl is an asymmetric triangle (because it’s one of the shapes I wear most).
Starting: co 7. K3, place edge marker, k5.
Right side row: work edge pattern, slip marker, k2tog, work body pattern, then knit + yarn over + knit in one stitch then k1 for a double increase at the end. (1 dec + 2 inc = 1 inc for the whole row.)
Wrong side row: k4, do body pattern, do edge pattern (no stitch count changes)
Colour changes: I 2-row striped a few times between colours to get a bit of a fade. I sort of eyeballed it to start striping in the last 25% of the ball (so around 5g of the 20g skein) then striped until I ran out of the first colour. I actually ran right to the end of the first colour then cut the second colour and spliced it in rather than worry about whether I’d have enough for the full two rows.
Body: I don’t love garter stitch, but I like some of the properties of it: it lies pretty flat and it doesn’t take much brainpower to knit it. With that in mind, I dug through stitch dictionaries and settled on a pattern that was basically k2, p2 ribbing for 4 rows, 2 rows (1 ridge) of garter stitch, then swap it so the knit sections have purls above and vice versa, then another garter ridge and swap back.
Edge: #249 from the Japanese knitting stitch Bible.
Note that the body pattern is a 12 row repeat and the edge chart is not, which would make this annoying to put into a single chart. So just do them separately and it’s no big deal.
Bind off: I finished my striping to finish the blue and fully switch to purple, then swapped to chart #246 from the Japanese stitch dictionary. I did a bit of math to see how many repeats I could fit, and since it wasn’t exact, i continued doing the k-yo-k increases until I had one more complete repeat.
Years ago, a friend named the local bat who appears in the evenings at our house “Steven.” Since I can’t identify humans in the dark let alone bats, we have henceforth declared that all bats are named Steven. Which is why it’s especially appropriate to have two Stevens on your socks.
This isn’t a complete, perfectly tested pattern, but rather a recipe of components I used that you can adapt to suit you. I’m going with “the perfect is the enemy of the done” and posting what I can manage now rather than trying to be like a professional designer. As a result, this is not a beginner pattern. You’ll need a copy of the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible until I get around to making my own charts for the cables. Have fun!
I used a delightful sock set from Valkyrie Fibers that came with the Kitty With A Cupcake Halloween box. You can use any sock set or yarns with decent contrast between them (for the colourwork) and a tonal or solid main colour (for the cables).
Stitch count / Gauge
I did my socks on 64 stitches and a US 1 needle because that works for me. The cable in these isn’t too big so whatever you use normally for plain stockinette socks will likely work for you. If you need more or fewer stitches, increase or decrease in units of 4 so the colourwork section on the bottom can be extended or reduced to fit.
I did my socks toe up on 64 stitches. I use a rounded toe as follows:
Cast on 24 stitches (12 for top, 12 for bottom) using Judy’s magic cast on.
Increase row: top: k1, m1r, k to 1 before end of top, m1l, k1. Bottom: same.
Increase every row until you reach 26 stitches per side (52 total). K one row, add another increase row, k 2 rows, add another increase row, k3 rows, add a final increase row (32 stitches per side, 64 total)
I knit around .65 inch of plain knit rows after this to get the bat to sit where I wanted.
Do the top chart (starting at the center line row) for Steven. You can repeat the chart twice or do as I did and use the + motif (bottom right) to fill out the bottom. This just means fewer long floats on the bottom of the sock.
If you start at the bottom of the chart like I did, the bats will be head-up to others but head down to you. I kind of like it this way, but if you don’t then just start at the top of the chart instead.
I knit another 8 rows plain before starting the cable. I used 1 repeat of motif 101 from the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, and added a border of two purls and a knit through the back loop on either side. I lined it up directly over Steven’s head; note that this uses an odd number of stitches so you will have one extra on one side.
I used a center-increase heel. Since my toes are wider than my ankles, I don’t quite increase all the way to double my bottom stitch count, so i increased to 60 stitches instead of 64. As a result, after turning the heel i have 60 stitches in total. I used a slip stitch heel and switched to the contrast colour when i started working on the heel stitches only.
Continue the cable pattern in front. If desired you can repeat it on the back too. If you did like I did and decreased your stitch count note again that your numbers for the back will be different than the front. I continued for two repeats of the cable because that lined up nicely, but you can do whatever.
I used motif 200 from the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible. This is a 6 stitch motif, so if you used a different number of stitches than I did you might have to either increase/decrease/add an extra rib. I used the contrast colour.
Well… So far moving book reviews to the blog hasn’t been going great, but part of that has been that I haven’t been as consistent even on Instagram. Still, here’s some cut and paste. I’m still not caught up writing reviews because my in-laws have been here all week (including coming to library day!) But this should catch up to what I’ve written at least.
This week’s books & knitting.
I’ve finished chart B of @romidesigns Fuschia Nouveau Petite for #SpecialSkeinKAL the lighting here doesn’t show off the yarn very well but it’s working up the way I hoped it would!
My last pair for #SocksOnVacay has the heel increases started. I think I’ll get it done before labour day even with the lace to do.
My book: The Twice Scorned Lady of Shadow. Latest in a series. I’m still enjoying the series but I kind of mentally zoned out during the flight scenes to the point where I had to go back because I missed something important. Whoops.
Kid stuff: phonics game might have been more of a hit if my kid weren’t so insistent that numbers are superior to letters.
Kid books were fun but no big winners. I thought the dog in the crow science book might have helped keep his interest but he’s wanted to build stuff at bedtime instead (side effect of hiding inside for the heat is he’s got more energy to burn off at bedtime) so longer comics weren’t too appealing.
Never got around to posting library books last Sunday, so here they are! Cake pop machine was a winner (though a pain to clean and as you can tell from the proximity of dog nose I had to clean it again) l. Best kids book was Roy Digs Dirt. (Not sure kid got both senses of dig.) Kid wouldn’t let me make any mug cakes because he wanted the orange/pumpkin one (3rd picture) and we didn’t have the ingredients. The estate planning books had two differing theses (“you need a living trust” vs “you don’t but lots of people prefer to have one anyhow”). Grumpy cat was adorable and the stories short enough to share with kiddo
I’m behind on book reviews so I think these are the ones that were returned Sept 4.
Kid books: I was rather fond of “Go Sleep In Your Own Bed” for perhaps obvious reasons. I think kiddo requested lemmings and brave the most. Since he doesn’t have much sense of time I sometimes tell him something will take about “three paw patrol episodes long” so he actually watched three while waiting for something. Thankfully the disney one was of the “recap an episode” type; I’ve found a lot of their branded books pretty boring.
My book: Homicide and Halo Halo. Second in my new favourite cozy series and it didn’t disappoint. Really appreciated the way the author dealt with the aftermath of the last book. After I had a home invasion in abq someone was kind enough to tell me that ptsd might hit later and although cozy mysteries are generally pretty light, it was a little validating to see that she wasn’t just shrugging it off either. Also, the dachshund with the beauty queen crown on the cover is adorable.
I also went through an audiobook and a novella but I’ll group them with tomorrow’s returns.
Library day! Hatch doggy wanted in on the book action so much that I had to lift him off the books so I could put them in the bag.
Kid books: “catch the creeper” book was a bit hard for kiddo, but I appreciated the tiny detailed hand drawn art. Minecraft makes me motion sick so at least this was a way we could enjoy it together! Maximilian Villainous and Kamala and Maya’s big idea were both cute but kiddo didn’t want to read them. Fish book was less interesting but kiddo likes counting so it was ok.
Library of Things: tent building kit was unfortunately a bit more of a hit with the dog (who wanted to chew things) than kid. Bit too finicky and not climbable but a good idea if my kid was more patient.
My books: Dim Sum of All Fears – another fun cozy. I didn’t find this as creative a mystery as the first in the series but I cared enough about the characters that it didn’t matter.
By the Book – modern book publishing romance based loosely on Beauty and the Beast with some big nods to the Disney version. Really delightful and went out of its way to avoid the more questionable parts of the tale while making nice use of the bones of it.
After Hours on Milagro Street – a #HappyEndingsBookClub pick. A plan, a mystery, a treasure hunt, a ghost, American history… Honestly I was so into the non-romance parts of this book that I probably could have skipped the steamy stuff and still loved it!
Ballad & Dagger – magic! Pirates! Saints! A rabbi! A mysterious sunken island! Politics! Lies! And so much music. I’m so glad I got the audiobook for this one (thanks to Paula for the recommendation) because omg, the reader is amazing. And he even sings!
The Levin-Gad and The Landlady – novelettes in the Tale of the Five world by Diane Duane. The main series is epic fantasy with the first book older than I am, but these stories are new and a delight of “after the big battle” stuff, like pregnancy and lines of succession in a poly royal marriage and how the kingdoms actually get run and what the big changes mean for others. I’m looking forwards to the next tales!
Quilt as backdrop even if I didn’t end up starting the embroidery yet. Here’s this week’s library returns and reads, a few days late because I didn’t feel like writing reviews.
Dyeing Wishes — a knitting plus a bit of magic cozy mystery. Includes a moody ghost, a nameless cat, and muuuurder. I enjoyed it but could have done with less ghost drama so I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the rest of the series.
Knot Again — knitting romance! Waiting for this book is what inspired me to read nearly all of Kwana Jackson’s other books. This one’s the hot Asian knitting firefighter brother + the girl next door who got away. Charity auction action, sexy knitting lessons, friends and family who don’t let them get too much in their heads. Loved it!
The Dead Romantics — a #HappyEndingsBookClub pick. Honestly the cover and title didn’t grab me because I thought it was gonna be more old literary references, but then it was modern romance publishing instead. And there were the crows and the ghosts and the siblings and the town! So good!
Arsenic and Adobo — another one for the diverse cozy list and the best yet! So many interesting suspects/characters, delicious food, expressing love by knowing dietary restrictions, meddling aunties, a hot lawyer *and* a hot dentist, the gay best friend, and the sausage dog! Plus the mystery itself is that perfect blend where you can figure out parts but the reveals still have more story to tell. I think this may be my new favourite cozy series.
Kid reads: violin book cover was too scary so it had to go right into the returns. Stink bug book was a hit what with all the stinking and the “ew stink bug.” Rapunzel was a twist on the tale that definitely appealed to my kid (no prince, she is clever and rescues herself). The rest were good but not re-requested at bedtime like those two.
Library day! Biggest hit was the wooden sandwich making toy, but kiddo cracked the lid of the plastic box it came in so he’ll be saying sorry to the librarian on duty as we go to see if they can charge us for a new one.
Doris the Bookasaurus was adorable as she gets her brothers into books. The Little Library was a cute one about building (and a bit about loving making rather than reading) although kid was scandalized by the idea of a library that closed for summer. (And not even a little phased by the librarian using they/them pronouns.) Change the world was lightly preachy but not awful. Spongebob was, well, Spongebob. Kiddo was obsessed for a few weeks and the library has his back, including dvds and the Spongebob switch game shown. He liked the game but the controls/camera are a bit finicky for a little kid so he didn’t get too far. (Not abnormally so, but after our great experience with Mario Odyssey, this felt very clunky.) Multiplayer was a bust: he wanted us to open world together but it only did a boss battle in 2 player mode.
Death by Dumpling. Another diverse cozy! I really loved that her dog was named Kikkoman ❤️ It didn’t manage to beat out last week’s mystery for new favourite, but it was really enjoyable, and the mystery had a lot of interesting details. I particularly liked the best friend (and the zodiac cocktails). I’m ordering the next in the series.
Not pictured: Below Zero, another Ali Hazelwood short that I read a few weeks ago and forgot to review so it’s going in now. Cute, but I wanted to punch someone over the “not reporting the broken stair until after someone got hurt” even if it was very realistic to the way that type of problem gets shuffled under the rug. (trying to avoid spoilers, but that’s broken stair as a metaphor, not a literal broken stair). While coming to the rescue at the last second made for a better romance, auuuuuugh.
This one’s for all the folk who might not “look” queer: the bi folk in “straight” relationships, the trans and non-binary folk who maybe don’t “look” queer to outsiders, the ace folk, and everyone else who struggles with whether they’re really “queer enough” for a LGBTQA+ space. This free shawl pattern is intended as a gift to the many people who’ve wondered how they fit in as well as those who are gloriously out.
I’m going to warn your right now that the name “Queer Enough” is also a pun on “Clear Enough” — I’m intentionally not writing out all the details because I’m worried if I aim to make it perfect and beginner-friendly it’ll never get out there. As such, I’d say this pattern requires intermediate-level pattern reading skills or the sort of mind that sees patterns easily. You might have to search for your own tutorials if you need ’em. But I know you can do it! You’re resourceful! Go you!
And if you’re the sort of person who *loves* filling in these details and just knows you can make this pattern better, please get in touch because I’m happy to have it improved, I just didn’t want to block myself from releasing it. I do plan to improve it as I go if I can.
This shawl was originally knit as part of the Quiet Queer Craftalong, a June-July knit-a-long intended to encourage folk to make things using patterns from queer designers and materials from queer dyers, kit makers, and more. I consider myself queer enough that this should count, but I always encourage you to also purchase patterns/materials from queer folk who make fiber arts part of their regular income! (I’m a computer security person professionally and get paid more than enough to be able to give away patterns but not everyone can afford to do that.)
Edit Aug 9, 2022: Added little repeat charts for each section. Also, thank you to the many people who told me the message and the title of this pattern resonated with you! <3
“Queer Enough” is a top-down crescent shawl pattern with simple lace and cable “rays” that come out from a center spine.
Gauge/Needle Size/Yarn are all flexible. Use what feels comfortable to you and make it as big or small, thick or thin as you like to wear.
My gauge was 21 sts and 36 rows /4 inches (unblocked in pattern) and I used a US 6 needle and sock/fingering weight yarn.
I used KnittedWit sock-weight yarn in an older version of a temperature rainbow kit available from the ShannaJean Etsy. These use 10g “gem” sock minis, which are smaller than the more commonly available 20g mini size. This particular yarn inspired the pattern because it has dark/light pairs of colour for the garter/lace rows to pop a bit more. These kits come with 14 colours, I only used 12 for my shawl.
You could get a nice effect by using a single main colour for one of the sections and minis for the other, or just using two skeins of yarn.
If you like to wear shawls wrapped around your neck like scarves, please note that the garter section may tend “stick out” and be more visible, particularly if it’s been a while since your shawl was blocked. If you tend to wear your shawls less bunched up, the lace section will block to be larger and potentially more visible. You can choose your colour configuration with those in mind! I used the brighter rainbow for the garter and the pastel rainbow for the lace.
Icord cast on/set up section:
Use Judy’s magic cast on to cast on 6 stitches (3 per side). We’ll be using this as a provisional cast on to make a 3-stitch icord edging, so you’re going to be leaving behind those rightmost three stitches until setup is done, and we’ll be adding one more to the “left behind” section with each row.
Row 1 (first after cast-on): knit all 6 stitches.
Rows 2-10: Slip 3 stitches to left needle and work only those 3 stitches in this row. Knit front and back in first stitch, knit next two. Do not turn work. (increases 1 stitch)
Once this is done you should have 15 stitches on the needle.
(If that all sounds terrible/confusing, you can also make a 9 row long icord and pick up 9 stitches along the side and three stitches at the beginning for a total of 15. I just wanted to try a cast on option that wouldn’t include picking up stitches.)
You can mentally divide your 15 stitches like this:
3 left icord border,
2 left shawl body,
2 for left leaning cable,
1 for center,
2 for right leaning cable,
2 right shawl body,
3 right icord border.
Row 11 (wrong side): slip 3 (place marker if you like to have a border marker), knit front and back, knit 3, place left spine marker, slip 1, place right spine marker, knit three, knit front and back (place border marker if desired), slip 3. (increased by 2, stitch count 17)
I didn’t bother with border markers, but I’ve noted where they go in case you want them. Slip them as you come to them from now on.
Row 12 (right side): knit 3, knit front and back, knit 3, right leaning 1 by 1 cable, slip spine marker, left-leaning 1 by 1 cable, knit 3, knit front and back, knit 3 (increased by 2, stitch count 19)
You’re now set up to start in a garter section.
General Pattern Overview:
Your shawl is going to come in 5 “wedges”: two matched borders on the edges, two “body” sections, and one slipped stitch spine in the center.
Right Border icord + increase:
knit 3, knit front and back (right side, increase 1)
knit front and back, slip 3 (wrong side, increase 1)
Right Body section: this will vary depending on whether you’re doing a garter or lace section.
The garter section features cables and a spine that “float” over the garter stitch, with 9 stitches between garter rays (10 if you include the bottom part of the cable, for a total of 11 stitches per repeat).
Right side row:
Border + increase: Knit 3, kfb
Work right wedge:
If you have enough space before the first ray (12 stitches) to add a full repeat then do so by working a 1:1 right leaning cable, k9. This should take you to 1 stitch before the next ray
Knit to 1 before ray, work 1:1 right leaning cable. There will always be 9 knits between cables (or 10 stitches between rays of you count the bottom of the cable as a stitch)
If you have enough space before the center marker (12 stitches) to add a full repeat then do so. K9, 1:1 right leaning cable.
Slip center marker, knit 1, slip center marker
Work left wedge:
If you added a repeat in the right wedge center, do it again on the left wedge center. (work 1:1 left leaning cable, k9. This should take you to the next ray.)
Knit to the ray, work 1:1 left leaning cable. There should be 9 knits between cables in the middle
If you added a repeat in the right wedge edge, do it again on the left wedge edge.
Increase+ border: kfb, knit 3
Wrong side row:
Slip 3, kfb
Knit to center marker but slip each ray as you come to it (I find it easier to use stitch markers to mark the rays, but you can count)
Slip center marker, slip 1, slip center marker
Knit, slipping rays when you come to them
Kfb, slip 3
If you find out your stitch counts are off so there’s not enough space between rays (it should always be 9 knit stitches or 10 if you’re counting and include the bottom half of the cable) or your left and right sections aren’t set to start a new ray at the same time, you can fudge them by adding an increase or decrease next to where the ray happens; the rays can disguise the adjustment. (Or you could go back and fix the mistake, but who has time for that? I give you permission to fudge if you need it.)
If you miss a slip on a ray, you can correct it on the right side by undoing that stitch and letting the yarn hang behind.
The lace section features “rays” coming out from the center spine with yarnovers on each side and a decrease on the outer edge. The center ray needs to line up with the previous row.
Right side row:
Work border + increase: k3, kfb
Work right wedge:
If you have enough space (12 stitches) before the first ray, start a new ray with ssk, yo, k2tog, yo, knit 7 (which should take you to 3 before the first ray.)
[knit to 3 before next ray, ssk, yo, k2tog, yo] repeat until center marker. There should be 7 knit stitches between inner rays.
If you have enough space before the center (at least 11 stitches), start a new ray with k7, ssk, yo, k2tog, yo.
Slip center marker, k1, slip center marker
Work left wedge:
If you worked a new repeat on the right wedge center do it again on the left. (Start a new ray with yo, ssk, yo, k2tog ssk, yo, k2tog, k7.) This should take you to the stitch before the next ray
[knit to next ray, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog] repeat until last 4 border stitches. There should be 7 knit stitches between inner rays.
If you increased on the right edge, do the same on the left edge. You need at least 15 stitches including the 4 stitch border+increase), start a new ray with k7, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog
Increase + border: kfb, k3
Wrong side row:
Slip 3, kfb
Purl to center marker
Slip center marker, slip 1, slip center marker
Purl to last 4 stitches
Kfb, slip 3
The new rays should be paired: the two center ones happening at the same time, and the two edge ones happening at the same time (but not all 4 at once). If your stitch counts don’t match in these places, you’ve probably made a mistake. You can go back and correct it or just fudge it
In the lace section, the easiest place to adjust without it being noticeable is the decrease beside the ray: make it a double decrease (to remove an extraneous stitch) or make it a k (to add one).
Continue this section until you want to switch back to garter. I stopped after a wrong side row when I no longer had enough in my mini skein to complete two rows. You can use a scale to figure this out and maximize your use of yarn or just eyeball it. I won’t tell. I actually switched yarns near the end of a row because I got in a groove and didn’t realize I was running out of yarn a few times and I don’t find it very noticeable.
If you’re feeling fancy you can start the lace repeat a bit early and fit only one yarn over and decrease in. I’ll leave this as an exercise to the reader. Please note that although the shawl increases are all on the outside, because of the way the rays tilt you will have +1 space to count towards your repeat in both the center and edge sections. So if you start your half-lace the instant you can, you’re going to need to keep it going twice before you get to a full repeat. If none of this makes sense just do the repeats when you’ve got the full 11 stitches and save yourself the headache.
Lace to Garter Transition Row:
I found one extra yarn over helps make the cabled rays and the lace rays line up better. They won’t line up perfectly unless you block it very carefully (and as you’ll see below, that’s not an option in my life) but I like the transitions better this way.
Right side row:
Knit 3, kfb
Right side: knit to 3 before each ray, ssk, yo, 1:1 right leaning cable, knit to center marker
Slip center marker, k1, slip center marker
Left side: knit to ray, 1:1 left leaning cable, yo, k2tog, knit to last 4 stitches
kfb, knit 3
For the wrong side row and onwards follow the garter pattern.
Continue swapping between garter and lace sections until you run out of yarn or you decide you’re done.
These charts are intended to help you see visually how to line up the sections so that the rays continue in unbroken lines. (The lines will, however, still be a little wobbly at the transition unless you’re very careful about blocking them. It’s ok.)
Here’s a very-wide chart to show how everything fits together:
And here’s it split into two hopefully more readable segments:
If I try to make a printable version of the pattern I guess I’ll have to make these prettier.
For my shawl, I ended on a lace section. I like the way the lace can be blocked to points so I used a strechy bind off added a picot at the end of each ray. If you don’t like frilly edges, you could also try ending on a garter section and using an icord bind off.
Start the last two rows on a wrong side row: slip 3, kfb, knit to 4 before end, kfb, slip 3. Turn work.
We’re going to do a stretchy picot bindoff where the picots go over the end of each ray.
Bind off part: knit 2, take two on right hand needle and knit 2 together through back loop (bound off 1 stitch). After that first pair, you can just k1, knit 2 on right hand needle together through back loop. (Every time you add a picot you’ll be back to the knit 2 beginning again, though.)
Picot part: cable cast on 2 then continuing binding off as before.
Bind off with picot row: bind off 1, picot, bind off until stitch before ray, picot. Continue in this manner until you reach the center spine. On the left side of the shawl, switch to adding picots after binding off the ray stitch. Add one more picot when you reach 2 stitches left at the end.
Finishing the Shawl
Like most lace projects, this shawl should be wet-blocked and stretched well for best effect.
People always seem to have questions about blocking. Unfortunately, my process is ridiculous because I have a child who wants to help. So here it is for posterity, but what you should do is search for someone else’s blocking instructions if you need them.
Blocking this shawl was a lengthy process:
1. Soak shawl 2. Squeeze shawl and put in salad spinner 3. Child hears salad spinner and nearly has meltdown because he wanted to do it. I manage to negotiate not re-wetting the shawl so we can “start over” 4. Dog hears child with salad spinner and comes to investigate 5. Child determines that face licks are detrimental to his process and banishes dog from kitchen. 6. Dog waits a few minutes then goes around to the other door and gets banished again. 7. Child decides this moment must be recorded (see reel), gets mad at mom for not hitting the video button and instead getting the second picture. 8. Shawl is finally released from its torment and taken downstairs. Gate is locked so dog can’t follow. 9. Dad opens gate to follow and brief altercation with child ensues. Dad insists he is not a dog who has learned to open gates, and not trying to horn in on special shawl blocking activity. 10. Blocking mats have previously been used for pom pom snowball fight and some cleaning must occur. 11. Shawl is blocked while child adds “traps” with extra pins and wires and a “timer” made from a stitch counter. 12. Child explains his creative process in great detail. Possibly as an attempt to postpone bedtime.
And there you have it, 12 “easy” steps. As I said, search for someone else’s blocking tutorial if you need one that doesn’t include child management.
I hope this is enough that at least a few people can make a Queer Enough shawl of their own. Thanks for reading!
Playdate sweater has 1.5 sleeves and I sewed the pocket linings in, but then my hands decided sleeve knitting was uncomfortable so it’s taking a break and I’m working on the rainbow shawl which has made it all the way to purple! I actually have most of a blog post ready to go with the pattern just waiting for me to finish and get pictures and stuff. (Note: I’m posting the book reviews to the blog late this week; the shawl is now finished and the sweater nearly so!)
Playdate pattern by @tincanknits yarn from @passionknits_yarn Shawl pattern by me, yarn from @knittedwit
I really liked The Bone Spindle! It’s a fairy tale mashup with sleeping beauty as a prince who needs saving, lots of magic, tragic backstories, and queer romance for one of the main characters. Gonna have a long wait for the next one and that was kind of a cliffhanger ending.
And a knitting pattern book in this batch of library returns: I picked up Curls to see if I wanted to buy it before the author took all her patterns down. I liked the concept but wound up buying Curls 3 since I couldn’t just borrow that one from the library. Haven’t knit anything from it yet but probably one of these days!
These 4 are easy readers so simple sentences and ugh, I do not enjoy this type of book. But kid liked them. I’m glad I don’t have to read the inane one about the princesses and pets again. The Hello Ninja one at least didn’t make me feel like my brain was dribbling out my ears, and I could see why elephant and piggy are so popular with kids.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for tiny daily packages of yarn, but my enthusiasm for opening them is a bit beyond my ability to actually use them. (Oh, let’s be honest, my enthusiasm for all things yarn is beyond my knitting and crocheting speed.) I’m glad to see a few more countdown/advent style yarn things coming at non-December times of the year so I can spread them out! But that doesn’t stop me from wanting all the December goodies, especially since I have an end of year birthday to celebrate. It feels weird to be thinking about these so early, but since the folk who make them need to order supplies and dye early a lot of the ordering forms went up months ago.
Ones I’ve done in previous years that I probably won’t do again:
Jimmy Beans Wool Craftvent. My first advent style yarn box! I’ve had 3 of these now and they’re delightful, but I’m not excited about this year’s ornament box given that I still have crochet ornaments from 2017 to finish.
Indie Untangled Countdown. The previews and theme for this year looks great but I’m planning to sit this one out. The last one I did was was definitely a “wait and see all the yarn before deciding what to make” case and I don’t want the yarn to sit around for years again.
Must Stash Yarn sock advent: less of a kit, just a cute holiday colour and a nice pattern to go with it. I really liked the hobbit one I did, and I liked last year’s pattern but did it on different yarn later in the year on previously stashed yarn. We’ll see!
Wildstar Fibers new year’s countdown: 10 mini skeins counting down to new years. Loved this last year but I don’t think she’s doing it again and to be completely honest I haven’t knit up last year’s yet anyhow.
The Katrinkles advent. I loved the tools one but I have most of the little tools I want from them so it probably makes more sense not to get a mystery set. Although at least it doesn’t add to my knitting workload! I was pretty tempted by the quilt one last year though so I’m not going to make a final decision until the email goes out.
This year’s (expected) repeats:
By Sarahs mystery sock. If Sarah does one, I’ll definitely get it. These have been such a joy and the small amount of knitting makes it easy to handle alongside other kits.
Imagined Landscapes advent gnome. I keep telling myself I’ll just get the pattern and enjoy the story then do the gnome at some less busy time, but realistically I’m probably going to wind up knitting it once I see it.
Knitted Wit countdown. These have been very thoughtful and I like the community, plus I really like having one that goes right to the end of the year, but I’m worried about taking on too much! So I haven’t ordered yet but it’s reasonably likely that it’ll be a birthday gift to self, I’m just waiting for a more local yarn store to list it.
New to me this year:
ChemKnits Chanukah countdown. Kiddo and I have been making good use of Rebecca’s videos for food-dye yarn experiments and we had fun getting the spring yarns and watching along, so I’m probably going to sign up for this when it opens. The spring set is a rainbow that I intend to use together, but I suspect these may be more random stash enhancement that can be split up into separate projects. We’ll see!
Winter Skies advent from pnw_knitdesign and westcoastyarnco. I love her colourwork “doodle” patterns with all the charts and subbed them in to the Halloween Advent I did last year, so I’m really looking forwards to this one. I expect it’ll be a lot more subdued than my yarn choices have been lately (what with 2022’s “knit more rainbows” goal) and I’m thinking that might be nice. This is the one calendar that I’ve actually already ordered for December!
This year I got the Teal Torch Knits summer solstice box and it’s currently hung up to decorate my office while I try to decide on a good sweater pattern for this perfect fade. I’ve got to say, though, fades are kind of boring as mystery packs because so many of the colours are reasonably predictable and look similar. So even though I love the yarn, I don’t know if it fully scratches the mystery itch as it were?
Last year I tried Jimmy Beans Wool’s 13 day Halloween countdown and it was fun. I swapped in some charts from the autumn doodle pattern and they really made it cooler.
This year, I signed up for a package from Kitty With A Cupcake & Valkyrie Fibers for a countdown of spooky-cuteness and a skein of sock yarn to knit as a countdown project. I’m so excited!
So… I had a summer solstice countdown and I’m looking forwards to a Halloween one, but December is still looking busy with 1 ordered and 4 more earmarked for me to order if I don’t miss the signup window. Ridiculous? Eh, probably. And I haven’t even listed the ones I looked at and didn’t even make the “short” list!
But here comes the really tricky part: my kid shares my love of tiny packages, so I’m going to have to get him set up with some countdowns too! In previous years, I filled up an old craftvent calendar with chocolates and socks and bath bombs and random tiny toys, but it can be hard to find things that fit in those tiny boxes. I did a birthday one for him last year and it’s about time to start thinking about getting that started!
Update: I forgot one I already ordered! Channy’s “I ❤️ indie dyers” yarnament advent. It’s got so many cool dyers involved.
Library day + the sweater has one complete sleeve and I like the rainbow cuff as much as I hoped I would. 🌈
Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds was a big hit with all the details in the drawings plus my kid’s enthusiasm for getting mail. (We even play a game where I deliver packages to his cardboard box house!)
Rudolph is old enough to be a little dated in a “dolls for girls trains for boys” way but he was mostly into it for the winter animals.
Cat ladies was surprisingly delightful in that the ladies seem to be living in some sort of cool old lesbian commune which I’m pretty sure is not what my kid got out of it. But yeah, the ladies are very cool.
Brownie Groundhog and February Fox was sweet and the pictures so cute, though I feel like all these “predator and prey become friends” stories are probably not teaching my kid very useful lessons about animals.
A Darkness at the Door — book 3 in the world that started with the Goose Girl, but books 2-3 are a different protagonist and I love Rae so much. When she starts to learn to pick locks! The moment with the cane! (Great read for disability pride month.) All the thoughts on justice hit especially hard right now too. And of course, finally getting closure on her story was so good. It’s a darker fairy tale but if you like TJ Kingfisher you should definitely read these books.
Be warned: the US publisher didn’t pick up this last book so I got my copy from Kickstarter but I think you can get it online from the UK publisher. And you *definitely* are not going to want to stop after book 2!
Under one Roof — cute short romance with a recently graduated environmental PhD inheriting half a house with the other half owned by a grumpy lawyer. Ridiculous and adorable.
I’ve been taking pictures of my library returns pile and doing little reviews in the captions of my Instagram, which is fun for sharing what I’m reading right now with my mom and friends but it’s not searchable or easy to find later, and Instagram is notorious for mystifying and often racist moderation policies so I worry that I should keep stuff I might want later in places I own. I tried cutting/pasting the reviews on Mastadon but the size limit is too short and half my pictures won’t upload without manually editing them. And I tried using LibraryThing but it’s a lot of work to add each book and cut/paste so I haven’t been consistent there yet either.
In the meantime, book reviews are going to get duplicated here to archive them where I can search them and I’ll see if that works better. We usually go to the library on Sunday (there’s a joke about my version of church waiting to happen there…) so these are yesterday’s returns and caption below.
The most memorable kid read was the Fauci book, which kind of raised my mental critical thinking/propaganda alarms (it’s very clearly “help make your kids feel better about vaccines”) but the message wasn’t bad just… You know that vibe? It’s very common in kids non-fiction, a side effect of the necessary simplification I guess. J and I spend a lot of time saying stuff like “that’s only partially true…” when we read. I did like their little pull quote (second picture).
Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic probably would have been a hit with my kid but again, he only sat through part of it and I read the rest myself.
The preserves books we got for making strawberry jam last weekend, and that was a success!
Mango, Mambo and Murder — I decided I should try searching for diverse cozy mysteries, and the library had this one on the shelf. I really enjoyed it, and while her MIL is *much* worse than mine I could definitely relate to some of the culture clashes. Also, I loved that the main character has a kid and manages to juggle childcare and sleuthing realistically.
In Deeper Waters — queer fairy tale romance. So adorable, and it’s a delight that in this society the boys-liking-boys was not the point of tension, it was all about the magic and bargains with the sea witch and…
Flip the Script — k-drama queer kids changing the world. Very sweet YA romance.
As in previous years, I chose four Fiber Goals for 2022. That small number always leaves me with a bunch of ideas that I toss out there on the post that I wasn’t committing to finish but also wanted to record as ideas. A year is a long time so some of those always manage to happen even if they didn’t make the top four.
De-stashing: I was lucky enough to find a local friend to take a big box of acrylic at the beginning of the year. She’d gotten into making crocheted baskets, so this box of sturdy yarn I’d “inherited” from someone else’s mother in law was actually useful! And just recently, my sister uncovered 7 giant tubs of yarn in my grandmother’s basement, and I was able to find a different crocheting friend who could take those. Cleaning out my grandmother’s house is a huge job and I was glad to have been able to help with one tiny thing from far away even though it was kind of a drop in the bucket. This was not the first cache of yarn my sister has found, but hopefully it’ll be the last big one!
Finishing some languishing WIPs: I jumped on a challenge from Sox Therapist and finished my Tunisian shawl finally as well as a Flickering Light Shawl that I’d started in New Zealand and never finished after we got back. I thought I probably wouldn’t be doing more Tunisian for a while but I keep thinking about it so maybe there’ll be some smaller swatch/dishcloths in my future?
Year-long project: I did the Get Together Advent wrap as a 24-week project (so half-year), but I also have an embroidery constellations kit and I’m doing zodiac signs around the year. (well, ok, I’m behind by a few weeks right now, but I’ll get caught up.)
Fingering Weight Sweater: As mentioned in the previous post: it’s started! I’m using the “I love me more than you” box of minis from Passionknits yarn to do big chunky stripes on the Playdate sweater from Tin Can Knits. It’ll be a rainbow when it’s done!
The Act of Sewing: I made the top, which was not a great fit and needs re-thinking, and the skirt with added pockets, which has become a wardrobe staple this summer. I might make a few more skirts.
Glowforge: I made an embroidery floss holder as part of a care package for Marlene, and a no soliciting sign for our front door.
Knitting machine: We made a tube with some of the yarn my kid dyed and he uses it a lot for play. Most often it’s attached to a toy so he can play a fishing game involving throwing all his stuffed animals on the floor then tossing his “fishing rod” out to touch the one he wants to catch. But I haven’t done much since then!
That’s a pretty large number of non-goals achieved or in progress! Not all of them, but the destashing ones were especially a relief.
For the past 7 years I’ve done fiber goals instead of new years resolutions. It’s been a fun way to guide my crafting plans. Here’s a link to my 2022 fiber goals. We’re nearly halfway through the year, so let’s talk about how it’s going.
Goal 1: Rainbows 🌈
Started strong with using half of my 2020 countdown calendar (see goal 2) to make a beautiful Steggy shawl.
I also did some rainbow-adjacent Spell Shawls with one that’s pink-purple-yellow-brown and one that’s blue-green. Between the two of them they kind of make a rainbow?
I’ve started a fingering weight Playdate sweater that’s going to have a full rainbow when it’s done but it’s not too visible yet. I’m not in a hurry to finish this one now that we’re very clearly out of sweater season, but hopefully it’ll be done in the fall.
I made a fairly rainbow Diponaea hat as part of Quiet Queer Craftalong. The idea of the craftalong is to support queer creators and participate in a pride event that’s accessible to people who aren’t going to be doing pride parades and more traditional celebrations. (Like me and my sore leg!) So both the yarn dyer and pattern designer are non-binary for that project.
And I’m starting work on my own design (tentatively named “Queer Enough Shawl”) that will use this lovely rainbow set I have:
This goal is about doing rainbows year round, so I expect to keep on rainbowing through 2022.🌈🌈🌈
Goal 2: Advents past 🎄
My first project was to use my 2020 Indie Untangled Countdown calendar to make that Steggie Shawl. I actually only used about half of it but that’s ok, I’m happy to save the rest for later. Maybe another shawl, though I’ll need some more yellow to make another rainbow so I’m waiting for my scraps pile to build up again.
I also used the 2018 Craftvent calendar as a weekly project, to be done during work meetings. Each box took about an hour or two, so very feasible to do during my regular meetings (one of which is my social knit group). It made a beautiful wrap. The All Together Now pattern was known and the calendar didn’t have a lot of extras so honestly I might have been more disappointed by that if I’d done it when I got it, but all these years later I was happy to have the curated prepared yarns and a weekly project.
My Little Box of Crochet advent from 2018 has a number of ornaments left to go, so I might try doing that one next. The patterns may need too much reading and counting to be good meeting fidgeting, but if they’re not a good fit for meeting times I’ll fit them into my plans another way. Goodness knows, I’ve got a whole rainbow sweater to work on that’s super easy knitting.
I’ve also got a countdown calendar that hasn’t got a pattern with it, and I’ve got a vaguely formed plan but no timeline on that one.
Goal 3: Where we’re going, we don’t need patterns 🕸️
Not as much progress on this one, but I did start that soon-to-be rainbow shawl (shown above) and my quilt (shown below) both of which are designed by me. It’s incredibly hard not to try to turn the rainbow one into a pattern but I’m compromising on a partially-formed recipe. I’ve also got a bunch of notes for a couple of mosaic knitted projects, so those might happen too.
Goal 4: Finish the sabbatical quilt 🪡
It’s actually getting close to done!
I still have plans to do some embroidery on it after the binding is done, but it’s now reached the stage where I don’t need to have kid-free time for this so it’s less stressful to work on. I know, other quilters do stuff with their kids around, but my kid is way too interested in the sewing machine and … well, last time he was around I wound up having to give up and help him make a pillowcase instead.
I won’t say I’ll never do another quilt again because I have second quilt top kit in my fabric stash (bought as a souvenir with a very Albuquerque-Mexican design). And I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed some of the process! Some thoughts on improving the experience:
I didn’t love cutting fabric but the jelly roll was fun so maybe more of those.
While I didn’t have much trouble with machine quilting on my heavy-duty signer, I’ll consider hiring someone with a longarm to do that part to save the many hours of rolling and unrolling that took.
Smaller might be better: I could try quilted bags or smaller throws in future.
I could also really use a more study desk for the sewing machine — I’m figuring out what that should be now.
Once this is done I’ll be taking a long break from quilts, but not from sewing! I’ve been enjoying making clothes, and would like to get back into bags and toys too. Maybe even make my kid some ponies if I can find that pattern.
Other non-goals: coming later
Everything is well on the way for these goals! I also had a bunch of things that didn’t quite make it to my top 4 goals but *did* make it into my life. I’ll put those in a separate post!
I lost my grandmother last week. When she was starting to get dementia, one of her persistent fears was about being forgotten. I don’t know if that’s just the way her brain reacted to the things she was forgetting herself, or if it was from her own experiences working as a nurse in a seniors home, but I feel like I should honour her memory by writing something even though I’m honestly not ready to do this yet. But I’m starting now anyhow.
She grew up in southern Ontario, and her dad was the lighthouse keeper in Long Point, Lake Erie. This left her with a lifelong fondness for lighthouses, so when I started traveling on my own as a young adult I would often find postcards of lighthouses or other nature photography to send her. I used to budget some time in every trip to find and write a postcard to her.
She made lifelong friends in nursing school, lived in France and the US as a military wife before coming back to Canada, and raised my mom and uncle in all those places.
Obviously, I mostly remember her as a grandma. She was a talented crocheter and used to make new hats and scarves and mitts for us grandkids every year to match our snowsuits. I should get you all a picture of the crocheted blanket she made for me, an impressive rainbow unicorn blanket that honestly still fits my aesthetic although my bed’s gotten bigger! The picture above is of a rainbow one she made for herself. She also made me So Many Crocheted Toys. She had a gift for designing things herself and did things like make me a Muffy the Mouse stuffy from Today’s Special when I was obsessed and they didn’t merchandise every single Canadian kids show. She collected dolls, from mint-in-box Barbies to random garage sale finds that sometimes she had to clean up and make clothes for.
When I was close to finishing high school I joined a concert band that met not too far from where my grandparents lived, and thus started a tradition of visiting every week for hot chocolate and cookies and playing with the dog. My grandparents came to nearly every concert, which was a *lot* of them because the band played free concerts in the park every other week all summer and I was part of the band for more than a decade (up until I moved to the US in my 30s). Thankfully park concerts aren’t formal affairs (see photo above) so you can talk and listen. As I got older, our chats after band practice included more adult topics like investments or politics (a favourite of many folk in Ottawa), or what it’s like to have a miscarriage, or the challenges of living in other countries, or the cold war or what it was like to organize a dinner party in the 50s and 60s. (It sounded SO much more stressful than the regular D&D + dinner nights I hosted with my friends!)
She loved kids and was thrilled to meet her two great-grandchildren (my cousin’s kid and my own), and even though we both live far away, I was able to send my mom pictures and videos to take over to show her so she got to see my part of the family grow in between visits.
I’m lucky to have gotten so many years with her, and there’s probably more stories to tell about her rescue dog that only decided I was ok after we shook hands, and her dolls, and that time she called my mom to tell her she’d been lying about her wedding anniversary date for 50 years. But I don’t think I have it in me to tell those or dig through photos today, so we’ll leave those for another time. She’d had declining health for some years so her passing isn’t exactly a surprise, but it’s still fresh and sad and she’ll be very missed.
One of the hardest parts of early stage parenting is the sleep deprivation. When you add in a pandemic where “safe” childcare suddenly wasn’t easy to come by, then all time and especially sleep becomes a zero sum game between me and my co-parent. And the whole world is having sleep problems.
Work provided me with subscriptions to several programs to help with sleep as part of our healthcare program, so I thought I’d try them out. I tried out Sleep.io and Headspace. Both were marketed to me as having help specific for parents. Both helped me, but I think *I* got a lot more out of Headspace, and Sleep.io’s advice triggered headaches. Here’s some of my notes on them both in case it’s helpful for other parents or people looking for sleep help:
Headspace vs Sleep.io
Headspace is primarily a meditation app, which includes a number of meditations to help you prepare for sleep, including a course on sleep to help you learn and practice techniques. I initially tried it for a 30 day meditation challenge at work, doing both regular meditation and sleep-oriented content in that time.
Sleep.io is a 10 week sleep course. It’s absolutely filled with known research on sleep and focuses on a few techniques plus asks you to keep a sleep diary so it can help make specific recommendations. It’s also got a big encyclopedia of articles and some discussion forums, but I only read one article and didn’t try the forums at all. I also did my 10 weeks not entirely consecutively because I missed the reminders and forgot. (I probably should have another whole blog post about how badly I am served by most reminders as a parent, but that’s another story for another time.)
I started using both in 2020. I’ve kept up with Headspace because I continue to find it useful but haven’t gone back to Sleep.io since I completed the course.
Parental Sleep vs Kid Sleep
A lot of times when people say “sleep help for parents” they really mean “helping your kid sleep better” but… honestly, I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves for kids to sleep well but their bodies are gonna do what they do. I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop my kid from waking up in the middle of the night sometimes (it’s normal for his age!) so focusing on that wasn’t going to improve my sleep. What I wanted out of these apps was to improve my own sleep so I could deal with nightmares and try to minimize insomnia.
Sleep.io had an article about helping kids to sleep that repeated stuff I knew, and most of it was more relevant for older kids. It didn’t really have anything for parental sleep.
Headspace has kid sleep meditations in conjunction with Sesame Street monsters. They’re pretty cute but my kid was so excited about having a video at bedtime that I think they were mostly counter-productive but still kind of fun sometimes. They have some pretty good content for parents, though honestly I found the regular sleep content was more of what I needed for my parental sleep needs.
What worked for me
My biggest sleep challenge was about getting back to sleep after being woken by my child (or by pandemic nightmares), as well as some busy-brain/having to do tasks late at night before-bed insomnia.
Sleep.io contained a lot of information I already knew about preparing for sleep and having a good sleep environment. But it was good to review, and it primed me for noticing when we needed a new mattress so that was helpful long after I finished the course.
Doing the course encouraged me to try changing my pre-bed routines, which is why I seldom write in this blog any more: the screen/brain active time right before bed was noticeably causing me to stay up later than I intended. I’m going to have to find a different solution for writing if I want to prioritize it. (do I? probably. do I want to right now? It’s probably ok if I don’t. I’ve volunteered to do more writing for work so I don’t get out of practice but also don’t have to fit it into my personal time.)
The most mystifying thing I found in the course was their assertion that reading before bed was bad but watching tv would be fine as part of a wind down. I can’t tell if I’m more active about my video watching or just more sensitive to blue light but TV was not a viable wind down for me when I experimented.
Headspace was the real winner here, though: it took very close to the full 30 days of practice, but Headspace trained me to recognize when I was drowsy enough to sleep and help me put my brain into “sleep mode.”
Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to work and for the first few weeks it kind of felt pointless. But with repeated practice I got to the point where the repeated sleep meditation could help me let go, and some of the other exercises like the “noting” one actually did help me stop fixating on stuff right before bed. (It took longer than the 30 days before I could just run through the ideas in my head and get similar results.) I can fall asleep faster after wake-ups pretty consistently now (my biggest issue) and it’s helped with my occasional bouts of insomnia. Not every time, but most of the time I can snap myself out of it and sleep now.
What didn’t work for me
The biggest fail for me was the “sleep efficiency” stuff in Sleep.io. The idea is to improve your quality of sleep by giving up naps and making sure you’re tired when you go to sleep so you’ll stay asleep better. This completely doesn’t work when you have an external force in the form of a young child waking you up every night. Mostly it gave me headaches, so I gave up without giving it the full go because I didn’t want to trigger a migraine.
The other fails were more minor. Headspace leans heavily on a “picture the blue sky” visualization in their early training program. I’m incredibly photosensitive when I have a headache, so “picturing the blue sky” was viscerally painful to do at times. I switched to visualizing a night sky with stars and it was fine. There were a few other visualizations that didn’t work for me unmodified, but aside from me thinking a few unkind thoughts about ableism I was able to adjust them to work for me.
Also, it’s worth noting that while I mostly do the sleep meditations as expected, I typically knit during the daytime meditations. This isn’t my first foray into meditation, and when I last did it in college I found it significantly more effective for me if I was moving (at that time it was mostly walking). It needs to be something simple that I can do with my eyes closed and without looking at a pattern, but knitting helps immensely when I can do it without it becoming a distraction. You may notice I’ve knit more plain socks with self striping yarn in the past year: these are perfect for meditation time.
I also really hated the logging system for Sleep.io. If I hadn’t had the data mostly from my fitness watch thingy, I likely would have given up on logging entirely because the data entry form was such a minor but consistent annoyance to me. I already knew what a minimal amount of sleep looked like thanks to my fitness band’s tracking, though I think Sleep.io might have been helpful there if I hadn’t already analyzed that data myself. I’d tracked this for headaches, so I knew when I was dangerously tired. I also knew that sometimes naps would be required in lieu of painkillers, which didn’t fit into the Sleep.io worldview at all. I would not be surprised to find others find the program a little problematic when combined with other sleep-impacting health issues.
Headspace actually improved my sleep. I felt foolish, but forcing myself to keep up a regular practice actual had an impact and I’m very happy to continue. I’ve also found it very helpful in switching from “parent mode” to “work mode” which is a big thing for me thanks to my pandemic-instigated lack of childcare. I no longer do it every day, but a few times a week I still find it helpful.
Sleep.io improved my sleep minorly at the cost of giving me intense headaches when I tried to follow their recommendations. If you’re not headache prone or simply haven’t spent as much time reading sleep research this program may be good for you to go through all of that, but for me it was only a partial win and I wouldn’t recommend it for parental sleep in particular because of the focus on uninterrupted sleep.
2016 Fiber goals are in bottom of 2017 post above.
Rainbows 🌈 — I’ve taken to trying to find a rainbow project for pride month every year, but what if I just knit rainbows year round? Maybe not *every* project but more than two in the summer.
Advents past 🎄– I have an Indie Untangled countdown from 2020 and a few older things that haven’t been used. It’s past time! I might try one as a 24 week project instead of a 24 day one, or just take over February which isn’t my favourite month anyhow.
Where we’re going, we don’t need patterns 🕸️ — I like designing things for myself but I keep trying to notes and make it reproducible and write up a pattern. What if I just let go of that restriction and just did more freeform knitting and going off script? I like writing patterns but maybe this is not the phase of my life for that. I think this might also help me use my handspun because I can let the materials tell me what they want to be, the way my dad used to describe soapstone carving to me.
Finsh the sabbatical quilt 🪡 — I started a quilt during my 8 week work sabbatical, then spent 5 of those weeks sleeping off my vaccine reactions, among other more mundane things. It was nice to have the break but it was definitely not the experience I’d imagined and waited 7 years to have. Disappointment aside, the quilt exists because I felt like I’d rather have a physical accomplishment as part of the whole less than satisfying experience, and I’d like to get it on my kid’s bed in 2022.
Here’s my brainstorming list of ideas that didn’t make this year’s top 4 cut, but might be fun to try or save for another year.
Squishing the stash — organizing it (and thus literally squishing it all) and also paring it down a bit for space and giving away the stuff I inherited from someone else’s mother in law that I really don’t need. I actually did a toss recently so it’s still a good goal but maybe not needed this year unless an opportunity comes up to give away that inherited yarn. Also, I bought some vacuum seal bags so I might literally squish up a bunch of that extra yarn so it can take up less space.
– other knitting ideas: more beads. More kits. Do a year long project again (maybe with the advents?). Colourwork (though I think that will happen with rainbows) Try unpopular patterns and new designers. Finsh more stuff I started (including my Tunisian crochet shawl!). Finally do that fingering weight sweater. (Maybe as the year long project?)
– Spinning ideas: finally doing my sampler kits, more fluff-to-stuff (aka, actually making more with my handspun)
– embroidery ideas: do that cute necklace kit that seems intimidating, do more of my fireside textiles patreon kits, try embroidery on clothes, finally learn to use the embroidery machine.
– sewing: Start on the first few patterns from The Act of Sewing, make pants.
-other crafts: actually make a go of weaving. Use the glowforge to make more buttons and tools. Do more with the hand cranked knitting machines. Crochet more toys.