Rearranging

I’ve been seeing, hearing and reading more and more about the minimalist movement.  I like it (see any of my rummage sale posts and you’ll know I’m not a hoarder).  This weekend I got two new t-shirts as a result of attending Arena Bowl XXVII.  It prompted to institute a strict one in, one out policy so this morning I went to pick out two old ones to get rid of.  I think I did better than that and got rid of 3 or 4.  From there I went into my yarn room closet where I throw everything I will donate one day.  I bagged up everything in there and even threw in a few sweaters that mock me every time I open the armoire because I never wear them.

From there I turned to my yarn wall.  It’s quite a disaster.  I may have had some type of system when I moved in but that is long gone.  It needs some help and as I stood and stared blankly at it, I realized I need a plan before I tackle this job.  I’m just not sure if I want to go color, fiber type, some other system.  I need to think it through and check around for ideas.  When I get to this, I would also like to add my stash to my Ravelry page.  It took me quite awhile to add all my magazines and books but I’ve been so happy that I did that.  It makes it so much easier to search through what I already own (and, sadly, it gives you an exact count of the number of patterns you own – a very scary number, indeed!)  I also like tracking my needles on Ravelry.  That being said, I still have duplicates and triplicates of needles for no good reason.  Best guess – the needles were on a UFO when I did the inventory.  I’ve not used Ravelry for tracking my stash at all but I’m starting to think it’s a good idea.  I just forget about all the wonderful yarn I have.  I’m thinking this might be a good winter’s day project…

As a side note, while I was doing all this purging in the yarn room I was listening to podcasts which I just love.  This week I discovered the lovely Isabelle from Fluffy Fibers.  She is based in the south of France so I could listen all day.  You can find her blog here.  Her podcast is in English but it got me thinking that maybe I will find a blog and/or podcast in French as I’m always attempting to approve my language skills and I think immersion is the way to go.

Tonight I’ve been focusing on making a few changes to my blog appearance.  The main addition is my Bloglovin follow button.  I’ve seen references to Bloglovin on other sites and on Twitter but I was not really sure what it was or what it did.  When I found the Fluffy Fiber podcast today I looked up her blog and it was on Blogspot.  I’ve found a few other blogs on Blogspot that I would like to keep up with but am not interested in creating an account.  Imagine my delight when I found out that Bloglovin lets you follow blogs from any site and keeps them in a nice, easy feed.  The site made if very easy for me to “claim” my blog and gave excellent directions on adding the follow widget to my blog.  So, I’ve added that, changed a few other appearance items and hopefully corrected the double posting to my Twitter account.  I’d say that’s really productive Sunday!!  Now, I have 6 1/2 rows plus the cast off and I might have a finished project to cap off my Sunday night – how exciting!

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, ideas on organizing stash please leave a comment and let me know!

It’s Knitting Season

It has been unseasonably cool in my little part of the world this week (well, actually, all summer…).  This morning I had to break out the space heater to avoid turning on the furnace.  I knew it would happen – I got central air this year and have used it twice, maybe three times.  All that aside, the chill in the air indicates the start of knitting season!

This got me thinking about the difference between summer and winter knitting.  There are those (my mother included) who believe knitting is a winter activity.  Even she broke out the yarn and needles this week when the temperatures dropped.  Me and my knitting group we knit year round.  This summer we did something a little different.  Instead of meeting up at the yarn store we headed to the great outdoors to soak up some sun and enjoy the season.  We took our knitting to the beach, to the park and to the riverside.  We saw music concerts, dance concerts and an awesome light show/art installation and we ate a lot of food!  We had our knitting and we got a few rows in but it was really more about experiencing summer and we did it this year!  That’s one of the many beauties of knitting – it goes wherever you go.

When I do knit in the summer I tend to work on socks and some hats.  This summer I’ve also been working on few Frozen dolls (more on those in another post…)  All of these are smaller projects that don’t lay all over my lap and make me hot.  It’s a great time of year to use some lovely cottons and other lighter fibers and there are plenty of fun projects that are small and summer friendly.

As the kids start heading back to school and the temperatures drop I first start thinking of Christmas knitting.  I know, I know it’s still months away but I always think if I plan ahead I won’t be knitting at midnight on Christmas eve.  I’m almost always wrong but you never know!  I don’t do a lot of Christmas knitting.  It just becomes too stressful and I put too much pressure on myself.  What I like to do it think of a couple of people I would like to knit for and then focus on those projects.  If I get them done and have some extra time I can add something else to the list.  Last year I knit slippers for my cousin and her daughters and it was really fun.  This year I have a project started that was going to be for me but I think will end up being a gift for someone who really admired it when I shared a picture.  I also have one other project in mind and it is also started so I just need to get it in gear and finish them up!  After I get past the Christmas knitting (and the holiday season, in general) I turn back to some of my heavier, woollier projects.  I reached for my wiggle wrap (Kauni wool) when I left for knitting on Thursday morning.  Many of those projects have been hanging in the UFO corner of my yarn room.  They are really looking forward to January. 

Do the seasons affect the type or amount of knitting you do?  It’s something to ponder.  So, while I sit curled up under a blanket, losing daylight at a rapid pace and seeing a few random leaves starting to change colors I declare knitting season open!

 

What’s on my Needles This Weekend

I’ve been trying to post once a month what’s on my needles but I think July flew by without a post.  While I have a plethora of projects on my needles, all over my house, I’ve been on a hat kick lately.  It started last week when a friend asked if I could donate a couple of hats to a fundraiser she was planning.  I put a few pictures on Facebook and from that got another request.  A friend wants a hat for her 3 year old son and her only request was that the hat have ear flaps.  I spent time perusing Ravelry last night.  There are so few patterns for cute boy hats.  I then found a pattern for a sock monkey hat, complete with ear flaps!  This pattern is from the amazing Melody’s Makings – she has some wonderful hat patterns!

I gathered some supplies.  I knew I had just the right yarn and it was part of the rummage sale bag that I got this year which was full of some great yarn.  Cascade 220 is great for just about any project and makes for a nice, warm hat.

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I made up the hat for the size 1-3 years old and it came out like this:

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I think it is probably a little small for a 3 year old so tonight I have another one on my needles, this time the next size up which is for 3-10 years old.  So, this is what lies ahead for me tonight:

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I’m hoping to get it done so I can start on the monkey ears, flaps and face.  My plan is to watch a marathon of Naked & Afraid on the DVR, whip out this hat and check out the super moon later tonight.  Happy knitting all!

Artistic or crafty?

This is a question I pondered this past week.  I have a group of friends and before people started marrying and having kids we used to be quite the indulgent girls with frequent spa days and weekend getaways and the infamous “book club” which brought us together.  Hint – not much reading took place but plenty of eating and drinking did!  We get together way too infrequently now but had all decided to do something this summer and were looking for a fun activity.  I had seen a number of people who went to this new place where you paint an actual painting and drink, ah yes, anything with wine should work for us.

I went ahead and made reservations.  A few things we all have in common – type A personalities (3 lawyers and a banker) and a complete lack of artistic skills.  They all claimed that due to my general craftiness I would have an advantage at painting and this is when the difference between being crafty and being artistic arose.

Merriam-Webster defines “artistic” as:

1
:  of, relating to, or characteristic of art or artists <artisticsubjects> <an artistic success>
2
:  showing imaginative skill in arrangement or execution<artistic photography>
 
while crafty is defined as:
1
2

a :  adept in the use of subtlety and cunning

 

b :  marked by subtlety and guile <a crafty scheme>

 
I kind of see as the difference between cooking and baking.  Any food tv host will tell you there is a huge difference and it involves the precision with which you need to follow the recipe.  Cooking allows you to deviate and improvise with ingredients and amounts.  When baking, measurements and ingredient must be precise or you risk ruining the final product.  In the kitchen, I’m definitely a baker.  I can follow any recipe you give me but throw me some random ingredients and tell me to cook and I’m screwed.
 
Likewise I can craft anything with instructions and materials.  But to come up with something out my head on the spot – not going to happen.  So being presented with a blank canvas and a paper plate with a few paint colors was a little daunting.
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They walk you through step by step with many wine breaks along the way.  My friends and I were very stressed about making the paintings perfect, or at least close to the one on display.  Lucky for us we kept drinking wine so either we became more artistic or our view of our work became a little more lax but by the end of night we thought we weren’t half bad.
 
And this is the final product!
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It was a very fun night but I think I’ll stick to my yarn and needles and stay away from paint.  So, are you artistic or crafty??  Something to think about!

Everyone Loves A Trunk Show

A few weeks ago at knitting we were talking about how our LYS had not had a Destination Yarns trunk show lately.  We all love the yarn but we knew the dyer, Jeanne, had had a few kids and we hoped she would be back soon.  As if the knitting gods were listening to us a couple of days later I saw on Twitter that a trunk show was scheduled for July 26!!  We were all quite excited, at least those of us without prior plans for today.

I should take a step back.  A few years ago (I can’t remember how many) I was first introduced to Destination Yarn.  It was at a trunk show at the shop and I could not believe there was someone else combining a love for travel with a love knitting.  The really cool thing (and what I can’t get enough of) is that most of Jeanne’s yarns are named after places and cities where she has travelled.  Some are quite literal – one of my first purchases was National Cherry Blossom festival, it was all the pink, brown and white I had seen in DC.  And some are more about the feeling of the city, kind of like Paris which I bought today.  It’s all purple and magenta and I think of the magic of the streets of Paris when I see it.

I think my friend Gail said it best today when she said that she feels that these yarns are like baseball cards – she just wants to collect them all.  I agree.  Currently in my stash I have Chartres, most of a skein of Fallen Leaves and almost a whole skein of Olympic Games which I think she had around the 2010 games maybe.  Today I bought Paris because, well, why didn’t I already own that??  I also bought America the Beautiful which is a gorgeous rainbow yarn.  I think that will be Christmas presents for my 11 year old twin goddaughters.  And, I could not pass up one of her new creations, Campfire, she could not have picked a better name for it.  Here are some pictures from today’s show.

You can check Jeanne’s Etsy page here.  And, now, if I could only find more time to knit all of this amazing yarn!

A Baby Shower

Yesterday I finished off the holiday weekend by attending a baby shower for the daughter of one of my knitting friends. They are not finding out the sex of the baby which generally leads one to a more neutral palette when knitting.

As luck would have it, the new Knitty was recently released. As I excitedly went through the patterns I found the Pat Hat.  The Pat Hat is a reversible baby hat and it is knit in one piece, which is a very cool design element.  I was able to find enough yarn in colors that I liked in my stash so I cast on.  I always have a hard time with the provisional cast on and still have not found one that works for me but I managed to get it started.  Both sides involve colorwork which I don’t do a lot of but with the way it is designed the back of your work will never be seen so it’s a great first colorwork project.  The girl side has a heart pattern and uses four colors and the neutral main color.  Once you finish the first hat, you go back and pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on and start knitting the “boy” hat in the other direction.  It uses three colors.  Once both hats are complete you have a large enclosed oval and you tuck one of the hats inside the other, like a lining and then it’s done!  Because of the design it does make for a very thick and warm hat so it will keep baby’s head nice and warm.  Now, you might be asking “where’s the picture?”  I can’t believe this but I forgot to take a picture when I finished it.  That might be a first for me!

The hat was a huge hit at the shower!  But there were a lot of knitters there so the reaction was to be expected.  It’s a great, quick project and you will be the hit of the baby shower (or gender reveal party) if you bring a Pat Hat!