News and Notes

It seems like there has been a lot going on lately so I thought I would just put together a quick update.

First, earlier this week I was contacted by a writer from CountryLiving.com who is doing an article on great yarn bombed decor ideas.  She was asking permission to use a photo from my blog post Anatomy of a Yarn Bomb. She will be crediting me for the photo and providing a link to my blog. I’m so excited and can’t wait to see the article!!!

Second, I won an Instagram contest!  I recently joined a new website called Frekol – you can check out my shop here.  The site was developed by some local folks and is basically a smaller, more local version of Etsy.  They are one of the sponsors of the Midwest Craft Con which is being held in Columbus, Ohio this year.  They ran a contest where you tagged your favorite local maker and they randomly drew one winner for a pass to the conference and I won!!!!

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The Midwest Craft Con is a 3 day retreat for crafters, makers and creative business owners.  There are some amazing people giving talks including Tara Swiger, Abby Glassenberg and Lisa Congdon.  I think I will learn a lot and meet some great people!

A few other happenings right now.  One, I just signed up for a new test knit so stay tuned for details on that!  I’m waiting for my yarn to arrive and then I’m going to dig in!  Two, I saw the other day that ArohaKnits announced she was starting a podcast with KnitFitch and it is called The Fiber Boss.  I gave it a listen and found it very informative and entertaining.  They have also started a Facebook group by the same name.  The idea is for fiber related business owners to unite and provide support and encouragement to one another.  I’ve been blown away by the folks who have joined. There is such a wide range of both types and sizes of businesses that I’m sure everyone can learn something.  It’s a great group – the other day I was having a long chat with a nice woman who has a goat farm in France (field trip :) ).  If you have a fiber business or are looking to head in that direction check it out!

One last thing – my hotel for Rhinebeck has officially been booked!!  I can’t wait to make the journey and if you’re going to be there I would love to meet up!  More details to come but I’m so super excited that I had to share the news now!!!

 

First FO’s of the Year!

Wow, it’s the end of January already!  I might be having a harder time with how fast this month went because we’ve had such a mild winter in the Great Lakes so I’m not quite as worn down by snow and cold as I usually am at this time of year.  It’s a good thing because this is the first time in two years that I have not had a trip planned to a more tropical destination in February so thanks winter for working with me this year!

Either way, I’ve had plenty of knitting time this month but that will not necessarily show in my FO’s for the month.  After all the Christmas mermaid blankets, I took a short break and then started work on a fourth one which was also a special order (yea for Knit Picks after Christmas sale!)  As long as I was ordering, I decided to do a scrap mermaid blanket and donate it to our youth group raffle that is held during our Lenten fish frys. I needed a couple more full skeins and then used leftovers from the Christmas order to make a rainbow mermaid.  Initially I started working on the private order but was told there was no rush and the first fish fry is February 19 (Easter is super early this year!) so I switched and cast on the rainbow mermaid which is why my actual number of finished items it low this month.  Here’s a picture of the rainbow mermaid.  As usual, I used the Mermaid Tail Lap Blanket for Children and Teens by Angie Hartley which you can find on Ravelry or her Etsy store and used Knit Picks Brava Worsted and held two skeins together.

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I also can’t resist sharing this picture of the Christmas order I did for my friend’s little girls – they are too cute :)

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The only other thing I finished is A Girl Thing by Joji Locatelli and it’s from her new Authentic Collection.  I can’t say how much I love the Collection. There’s such a variety of patterns which is great for someone like me who is not much (okay, or at all) of a sweater knitter.  As soon as I saw the hat I knew I had to make it from my leftover 3 Color Cashmere Cowl yarn because it had many of the same design elements and would make a lovely set.  Recently, I saw on Instagram that Joji is now designing a 3 Color Cashmere Shawl so I’ll probably end up down that rabbit hole when it’s released…

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Love my hat/cowl set!

Last I finished a sock and did cast on the second one (which was my only cast on for the month!!!  Go me on finishing those wips!)  This sock is with the Arne & Carlos yarn so I’m doing a vanilla sock and am trying out the Fish Lips Kiss Heel. I enjoyed the heel as it does not require picking up any stitches but I ended up with a weird pucker and I’m not sure if it was a sizing issue or the fact that halfway through the heel the stitches came off the needle and, perhaps, did not get put back on correctly.  (By the way, anyone else notice that there are evil yarn demons that attack your purse knitting???)

The instructions for the heel only include the heel so I broke out my Sock Architecture book to find a new toe to try.  Now, for some reason in all my knitting years no one ever told me that there are toes that do not require kitchner stitch – it was like a whole new world opened up to me!!!  I did the Round Toe and love, love, love it!

So, let’s call this 2 1/2 FO’s for January.  The 1/2 is a languishing WIP so a little bit of progress :)

A Lesson and a Review

One of the things I want to add to the blog this year is reviews – whether it be books, yarns, or tools we’re all using new products all the time and it’s nice to read reviews to help us decide what is worth our precious dollars.

I’m going to start this month with Susan B. Anderson’s new book – Kids Knitting Workshop.  I ordered this book for two reasons.  First, I love everything Susan and readily admit to having a total knitting crush on her.  I was lucky enough to meet her a couple of years ago at a book signing/knitting afternoon.  She was just as delightful as you might imagine.  It was her Itty Bitty Hats book that really inspired me to start knitting and selling hats for babies and kids.  I’ll stop gushing now lest I cross the creepy stalker line!

Second, was for a more practical reason.  One of the things I would like to develop and put into motion this year is a knitting class for kids.  When I saw Susan was publishing a book on the subject I knew it would be the best way to figure out how to teach kids to knit.  I’ve done a lot of crafts with a lot of kids but have always shied away from teaching them to knit.  This is mostly because I wasn’t even sure where to begin and this book provides a blueprint.

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As with all her books, the photography is outstanding!  There are a number of really interesting projects and you can check them out on Ravelry (which by the way is a great feature on Ravelry – if you are thinking about buying a book but have not been able to flip through it you can almost always find all the patterns in the book by looking it up on Ravelry and that can help with the buying decision!).  My favorites are the Snowman and the Stripy Tube Scarf.  But all are fun and would make for interesting first projects.

I started reading at the beginning and found it most interesting that she recommends teaching kids the continental method to knit.  I can’t even figure that out so I was surprised to see this is how she teaches kids.  I learned to throw and have never figured out continental. Over the years I’ve made some half-hearted attempts to learn continental but have always given up in frustration.  I know it’s faster and also seems to be easier on the arm and shoulder without all that throwing so it has remained on my list of things to learn.

I was talking about this two weeks ago at knit night.  L., who works at the store, told me that if I just did it for a month I would get the hang of it.  I’m working on the Derecho by Laura Aylor at knit night right now.  I’m determined to finish it whether or not it kills me.  I’ve also banned myself from taking anything else with me until this is done!  It’s another Kauni yarn project I started and always end up regretting halfway through the balls of Kauni. The Derecho is all garter stitch and will never, ever end! (I realize it’s not the pattern’s fault or the yarn’s fault they’re both lovely but it’s time for it to be over!) But, all that garter stitch also makes it the perfect project to learn continental.  On Thursday I brought my book and my Derecho and went to it.  Sadly, no one took pictures of the faces I made in the early rows, it was not pretty.

Now, I can hear some of you saying “Wait!!!  You can’t change knitting styles halfway through a project!!!!!”  I know, I know, this may throw off my gauge but this is a garter stitch shawl so a few tighter or looser rows is not really going to make that much of a difference in the long run and to be quite honest I don’t think you can tell where I started the continental technique.  By the end of the night I was kind of getting the hang of it and I think L. is right, give it a month and then figure out how to purl!

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I’ve not yet taught a child to knit but I did teach myself to knit continental which is something every other tutorial I’ve seen/watched has failed to do so I’m going to give this book five knitting needles*!

*The scale is, of course, 1-5 knitting needles with 5 needles being the highest!

 

What’s on my Needles This Weekend

The alternate title of this post could be: All the Alongs.  Has anyone else noticed that with the new year there has been a rash of Alongs?  What’s a knitter to do??  So many to join, so little time.  This is especially true when you’ve committed to finishing all the WIPs in your Land of Forgotten Projects.  On the other hand, another goal was to continue to participate in various KAL’s and hashtag projects as I’ve found these to be fun and offer the opportunity to connect with other knitters.  I’ve decided to focus on just a few for right now.

This brings us to what’s on my needles this weekend.  One of the KALs that I’m participating in is the Wooly Wonka Fibers Handspun KAL.  Now, I don’t spin and I think I can pretty safely say that I will never spin.  I like my yarn already made for me. So how did I come into possession of this beautiful ball of handspun?

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If you are active on Instagram you will recall that in December knitters were posting and granting yarn wishes.  I did not post any wishes as I did not know exactly what I wanted to ask for.  And then I saw that Emily from the Knitting Butterflies podcast was offering a skein of her handspun to the first commenter on the post so I took her up on her offer. I decided that Handspun KAL was a great way to make sure I cast it on right away.  I did not want it to languish in my stash because it was such a kind gift.  It took me some time to figure out what to knit with it. I finally decided on the Shiny Penny Cowl by Lisa Ortale.  It’s $5 on Ravelry and is a great pattern. I found it last year when I was gifted random yarn without a label so I had no idea the fiber content or yardage.  This is the perfect pattern for these types of situations.  The pattern gives instructions for weighing the yarn as you go so you know how long to knit for and when you need to cast off.

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I’ve decided to join in on a few other Alongs as well.  Here’s a list and a brief description of each.  I’m sure I will go into more detail on each of them in future posts.

12 Projects in 12 Months: The goal is to complete 12 projects in 12 months and I’ve tagged all my current WIPs and have a few empty spots that will be filled with other projects I will cast on from stash yarn.  I’ve already completed one project so we’re off to a good start. This one was fun because I found out about it from my first Instagram friend.

The Maker’s Year: Over on A Playful Day Kate is hosting The Maker’s Year which is focusing on daily making. You can check out the posts on Instagram that have been tagged #themakersyear.

#366 Project:  On Instagram, I first saw Eskimimi participating in the #366 project. Sounds easy enough – post a a photo a day of creative pursuits.  I’m on it so far but it has been tougher than I thought.

GoalAlong: This is being hosted by Imagined Landscapes.  You can see the start of my goals page in the picture of my cowl.

For more information on all these alongs check out these pages:

Wooly Wonka Handspun KAL Ravelry Group: Handspun KAL

12 Projects in 12 Months: Ravelry Group

The Maker’s Year: A Playful Day

GoalAlong: Imagined Landscapes

Are you participating in a fun KAL that you want to share?  Let me know!

Knitting and Minimalism

Can knitting and minimalism co-exist?  This is a question I’ve been pondering lately and probably a little bit more with the start of a new year when hopes of organization and stash down abound.

Minimalism is a hot topic these days.  Heck, there is a new tiny house show on tv every week now. I think my path to minimalism (although I did not know there was a name for it) started with my work at our church rummage sales (see any of my Annual Rummage Sale posts and you will understand :) )  The amount of stuff that we receive each year never ceases to overwhelm me.  It makes me cut back on what I’m consuming because I’m convinced there is just too much stuff in the world.

A friend started sharing posts written by the Minimalists and they really struck a chord.  This came at the same time that I was reading articles about wearing a “uniform”, capsule wardrobes and Kon Mari.  I’m not an exact rules follower and from what I heard about Kon Mari (I have not actually read the book) it was a bit too extreme for me so I started looking for other ways to declutter and cut back.

Last January, I found the 365 Declutter Calendar.  The calendar breaks down decluttering into 365 daily 15 minute sessions and it covers the entire home.  They e-mail you a monthly calendar and I would put it up on my refrigerator.  I have a small house and only one person so many of the missions did not apply to me and my home but I would usually take some time on the weekend and work through that week’s missions.  It really helped clear out a bunch of stuff I was not using.  And, I do love that I don’t spend hours searching through drawers to find something.  I don’t find myself shoving a new item into an already crowded drawer, cabinet, etc.  I trimmed back on my holiday decorations so it takes me much less time to put them up and take them down.  I found this to be very successful for me and so I decided to take another step.

My next step was to work on a capsule wardrobe.  My ultimate goal is to find a uniform but that will require purchasing clothes that I don’t need right now so I will phase that in.  I’m on my second season and I’m loving it.  So, basically a capsule wardrobe involves choosing a limited number of items for each season.  I went through all my clothes and got rid of everything that did not fit correctly, I did like or I just did not wear for whatever reason.  Now, all of my clothes fit in my wardrobe in my spare bedroom so no more trips up and down to the attic to change out wardrobes for the seasons.  That alone is a huge benefit!

The other thing I love about it is not having as many choices each morning.  I think I always thought I needed more choices but there were many a morning I was late to work because I could not decide what to wear.  And, that was because I would stare at what was there and think “I don’t like the way that fits” or “I don’t like the way that feels”.  I’ve shaved many minutes off my morning routine.  And, this makes sense – when I travel I pack light and I have limited choices and I’m fine with it. If you want to read more about capsule wardrobes I’ve found Project 333 very helpful in getting started.  I don’t strictly adhere to the rules but I have around the right number of items in my closet each season.  Being a lawyer, we always work in the gray area so I have 33ish items.

The one thing I exclude from both my decluttering and my minimalism goals is yarn and my hand knit wardrobe items.  My yarn and my hand knit wardrobe items bring me so much joy that they cannot possibly be included.  But, can I apply some of the principles to my knitting?  Yes, probably.

Which leads me to 2016 Goal #3 – Mittens.  I have a lot of cowls and scarves, I love cowls but I only have one neck.  In this case, it is lucky that I live in the Great Lakes and it’s fall/winter for about 9 months of the year. Most of the year requires a cowl (there’s even a day here and there in our 3 months of spring/summer where a cowl is your best friend)  I have a few shawls and I do try and wear them but I have problems with styling and keeping them on but I’m making an effort.  This winter I’ve been knitting hats, but again, only one head.  I’ve also really made progress on my sock drawer and I do find those useful but I’m not always in the mood to knit socks so I definitely need other projects on the needles.

I get to the point where I ask myself “what is the point of knitting another cowl?”  Even if I really, really love it.  The Yarniad just released four new patterns yesterday that I’m drooling over but am really feeling the “too many cowls syndrome”.  Plus, Goal #2 (finish all the things) in which there is a cowl, 2 shawls and a wrap waiting to be finished.

So, what’s a knitter to do?  Well, I looked around to decide what I really need and will try to knit more purposefully. And what I need is mittens. I adorn myself with beautiful hand knit scarves and hats and put on manufactured mittens.  I took advantage of Tin Can Knits very generous offers during the 12 days of Christmas and plan on casting on the Antler Mittens just as soon as I finish one of the UFOs.

I know I’m not the only one that is thinking about this issue.  We were talking about it at knitting on Thursday.  I wore one of my new cowls and when I walked in, it caused quite the stir.  My friend, A, immediately went on a yarn search and my friend, L, was not too far behind.  L eventually talked herself off the ledge and part of her reasoning was she just did not need another thing to wear around her neck.

Gift knitting and commissioned pieces also allow me to continue to knit without adding to my personal collection.  It’s true that you can’t really make money knitting for others.  The way I look at it is someone is paying for the yarn and I’m earning a few extra dollars that I can use for yarn for me.  If I’m going to be spending my time doing it either way, it’s nice to get a little something for it at the end of the day.

My conclusion is that knitting and minimalism can co-exist.  And, maybe we each apply it in our own way.  My plan is to knit things I really need in my life and continue knitting for others in a way that brings me joy.  Do you incorporate minimalism into your knitting?  If so, I’d be happy to hear about it!

Hey there 2016!

Wow – 2016, already??!!  I feel like I was just writing my 2014 year in review post just the other day.  I did not set forth any concrete goals for 2015 so instead of looking back I’m going to look ahead today.

Here’s the list for 2016:

  1. Cold Sheep
  2. Finish all of the Projects that Time has Forgotten
  3. Mittens
  4. Online hashtag projects
  5. Knit the Sky project
  6. Test/sample knitting
  7. Refocus on selling finished objects
  8. Work on developing a class to teach kids to knit
  9. Make a few changes to the blog

This is a long list to tackle in one blog post so this week I will focus on Goal #1 – Cold Sheep.  I need to watch my budget a little closer this year and so I decided to cut back on yarn purchases.  I was listening to back episode of A Playful Day’s podcast and she had a similar goal and declared she going Cold Sheep and I love that term!  I think we all grapple with this decision as I do feel like I want to support both my LYS and all the lovely independent dyers that I follow on Instagram.  My hope is that there were plenty of knitters who went Cold Sheep last year who will now make up for my lack of purchases this year.

To be realistic about it, I have some rules for my year of Cold Sheep.

  1. Cold Sheep does not apply while I’m traveling.  I love checking out yarn stores and sharing that here on the blog and I often pick up a memory of the trip.  I do only try to buy yarn that I cannot find at home or is local to the area I’m in.  (note, this does not apply when I “travel” to Ann Arbor, otherwise I would go broke at Spun!)
  2. Cold Sheep does not apply if I go to any wool festivals.  This may be the year I make it to Rhinebeck (more on that later :) ) and I can’t have my hands tied if I finally make it to the holy grail of wool festivals!
  3. I have two gift certificates to my LYS and hope that will get me through any emergency purchases.  You know, when some new yarn comes in and we all HAVE to buy it and make the same thing!
  4. Last exception is a new Christmas yarn.  This was the first year I bought a Christmas yarn and I really enjoyed working with it during the Christmas season.  I cast on a shawl and made some good progress and will plan on finishing over the course of this year so it is ready to wear in December.  I would like to make this a tradition and my plan for this year is to get a self striping Christmas sock yarn and start a pair of socks.

Goal #2 really goes hand in hand with #1.  I really need to complete the projects in the Land of Forgotten Projects – I have moved all the UFOs to my antique chair in my living room so I see them ALL the time – staring at me blankly, saying “why have you left me??”

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Once they were all in one place, I went through and did an inventory and wrote down what needles were the in project (thanks for that awesome suggestion Knitmore Girls!) and where I had left off.  Let’s face it – half the battle with UFOs is figuring out where you left off because we all think we’ll remember but then two years go by and who the heck knows???

 

And, as for non-knitting related goals – well, I try to keep it simple.  I’ve been working on minimalism and capsule wardrobes and am really seeing some benefits so I will continue on that path. I did see an interesting post on Facebook yesterday which I’m going to try and do this year.  The goal is to save 1 penny on 1/1 and 2 cents on 1/2 and 3 cents on 1/3 and so on.  By the end of year, you will be putting in $3.66 and will have saved over $650! (after reading the comments, I double checked the math and it is correct so game on!)  That screams plane ticket to me so I found this pot that I’m not using and put it on the first thing I see when I walk in the house – my kitchen table and hopefully that will set me up for success.  Day 2 and it’s looking good!

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I saw a similar post that had to do with increasing daily steps and I need to print that out and figure it out but it seemed like a good way to up the step count which is always a good thing!

I think that is more than enough for now (and, perhaps a bit ambitious!). Over the next few posts I will expand further on the rest of the knitting goals but until then I wish you all happy crafting in 2016!

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I have to say that I love that WordPress sends this out each year. It’s a great reminder that someone, somewhere is reading this blog! Thanks to all who stopped by and read, liked or commented!