Archive for January, 2012

Personal Stash Down

After Christmas, I decided that I needed to keep up the momentum and continue to knit like there’s no tomorrow.  I can honestly say, I think I’ve knit even more than I did during the Christmas panic.  However, I have found that every time I look at my stash, I want each skein matched to a project… like, yesterday.  Now that my stash is no longer hidden in a cabinet, I have become slightly psychotic about it.  I keep bagging up yarn with printed patterns or index cards with notes about how to use each skein, but this doesn’t seem to be enough to put my racing mind at ease.  There seems to be so much I want to accomplish immediately.

Open bookcase=stash always staring me in the face.

On top of that, I find it harder and harder to justify buying more yarn when I have so much just sitting around, being pretty.  Now, I know that compared to many crafters, my stash is not so out of control, but I told myself that I would not buy any yarn for at least the first six months of 2012.  Unfortunately, I fell off the wagon this past week (more to come on that in another post).  So in order to feel better about my very short-lived fiber diet, I’ve decided to do something extreme.  I plan to cast on at least one project every week.

These projects will likely not be quite so epic as the Thin Ice I’m working on for the Knitabulls Podcast knit-along, especially since I only have one skein each for most of the yarn in my stash.  However, if I have all of these skeins truly locked into a pattern, surely I’ll feel better… and I may even have all of this year’s Christmas presents ready by March, or at least cast on…  Now that’s real productivity! 😉


Storage Obsession

I was such a disorganized child and teen, so I have always been drawn to organizational tools, stores, and anything that could vaguely pull myself into an organized state.  I was able to organize in my head, and was very organized when it came to work, but my personal life was a different story.  However, after managing stock rooms in and after college, I have become OBSESSED with organizing and reorganizing… everything.  I moved back to Northern Virginia after I finished school and started getting rid of everything excessive.  Okay, I tried to get rid of everything excessive.  I was a complete pack rat before college and I had accumulated a lot of stuff. Not to mention my clothing collection.

Over the last couple of years, I have started to truly pare down and the only clutter I still struggle with is paper clutter.  That being said, our new apartment is incredibly close to a Container Store. So when I moved the bookcase from our living room into my bedroom knit-nook-in-progress, I decided I needed new bins to store the yarn on the bookcase.  Using the ultra-convenient Click & Pickup, I purchased these new bins for stash storage. Now, I’m thinking it was maybe too convenient.  I ended up purchasing many more bins than I have yarn to store.

The average person without a fiber addiction might think to find another use, let’s face it, I could store sweaters in the nice black, stackable bins.  Not me.  Ever since purchasing them, bringing them home and setting everything up, only to find that the three stacking bins next to the bookcase are still empty, I have a ridiculous urge to buy enough yarn to fill these bins.  Part of me is very happy that I am on a self-imposed yarn diet for the first 6 months of the year, even though this clearly proves that I don’t have a large stash.  The other part of me is slowly going crazy.  I have avoided going to my local yarn shop, which has become a favorite weekend-outing for M, but online shops are a different story.  Daily, I find myself perusing Etsy and looking up local(ish) hand-dyers, thinking to myself, I am supporting the local economy. So far, these virtual trips though aisles of beautifully dyed fiber and handspun have ended with me closing my laptop in a panic and running into another room. But I’m starting to wonder: How long can I resist?

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Stash Display

In my attempts to organize and decorate before hosting a small “housewarming” party, a month and a half after moving in, I found myself continuously coming back to my stash, mainly to procrastinate.  I have these dreams of how to decorate my bedroom with a corner completely devoted to my knitting.  I already have a comfy love seat set up next to a small cabinet that is currently PACKED to over-flowing with yarn, not to mention the stash that is stored in many ottomans scattered throughout the apartment.  But the room is completely white.  White walls, white carpeting, white love seat…. I have managed to hang one very small piece of art on the far wall from this crafting corner, but this rest is so uninspiring:

For weeks, I have been revisiting my stash.  Reorganizing it in the cabinet and desperately trying to decide how to bring the color of the yarns out from their hiding.  My current thoughts include bringing an old, somewhat falling-apart, bookcase in from my living room and trading out the cabinet.  This way, I will have a shelf in the middle where I can store my laptop, router, phone, etc, and the rest of the bookcase can hold my stash, knitting books and tools.  I can use various clear vases and canisters to store the yarn and needles so that everything can be displayed.  I also want to knit swatches to frame and hang on the wall behind the love seat.  No, not just the typical gauge swatches, but large squares featuring different patterns of lace and cables.  Not only will this bring color, but also texture to the plain walls.

Now, my only problem is: How do I keep my two-year old, very curious daughter from unraveling every skein of yarn she can reach?!  I’ll be sure to post pictures throughout the process!

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January – A Month of Selfishness

After months preparing for Christmas and years of knitting for others, I am dedicating the entire month to myself.  This does not mean knitting items that will not be gifted in the future or go to M, but instead, knitting whatever strikes me at that moment.  So far, I have cast-on three new projects since Christmas and I have many more in mind.

First, and so far, most importantly, is the Thin Ice shawl by Laura Linneman of TheKnitGirllls Podcast.  I was eyeing this shawl when Laura was working on it on their video podcast and have wanted to knit it ever since.  So when Diane of the Knitabulls Podcast clearly read my mind and made it her January Knit-Along, I had to cast on immediately.  Though the pattern calls for a fingering weight yarn, I opted for a beautiful grey semi-solid lace-weight 100% merino wool that was in my stash. Viola’s Merino Lace in Raven is working up wonderfully in this pattern, giving just enough variation to show off but not compete with the pattern.  I have also learned to finally use lifelines in this project, note the bright green, blue and pink yarn going across the work.  I want my January knitting to be fun and intriguing, but laid back, knowing that any mistake can be easily fixed without hours of headache.

Next, I cast on a vest that has been in my Ravelry queue for as long as I’ve had a queue.  The Talia Vest by SweaterBabe is working up to be interesting, but a simple knit as everything except the bottom and front border is in stockinette.  However, this also means that if I have any real time to sit down and knit, this is not my go to project, so not a lot of progress has been made thus far.

After knitting a crib-size blanket for M last year, I have a few small skeins of a couple different colors of KnitPicks Shine Worsted, very soft, machine washable, Pima Cotton blend.  I decided that I would use these remnants to knit a small blanket using the same method as the larger blanket of knitting an original square and picking up stitches to make subsequent blocks around and around, but with few colors and knit until I run out of yarn.  This is my go-to M knitting.  That is to say, it is garter stitch, so I can put it down mid-row and pick it back up at any moment.  M can walk up and swat it to the floor and run all over it, and I won’t be bothered.  Not to mention, she knows it’s for her and her new baby doll that her aunt gave her for Christmas, so she has a bit of a vested interest in it’s completion.

Beyond these three projects, I have many a child, newborn, and soon-to-be-newborn to knit for. Typically, one might see this as a burden and not very selfish knitting.  But none of these projects have deadlines, as none of the parents are aware of my intensions and the babies aren’t due any time soon.  I am just excited to knit small, quick projects that will give me a sense of productivity and will cut through some of my stash!  The best part, if I get bored with ANY of these projects, no one will stand in my way of putting them down and casting on something new.  I love being selfish.

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The Back Story

Since I was a young child, I have never been able to sit still, and now that I am a mother, I am constantly reminded that M is just like I was, running EVERYWHERE.  So when I entered high school, my mother decided to teach me how to crochet, potentially to give me something productive to do to relax while not worrying about sitting still for any length of time.  Unfortunately, I made the most hideous scarf ever known to man and my mother only knew the very basics and couldn’t help me improve.  I was quickly over it…. but something connected.

My sophomore year of high school I decided that a hook might not be my style and opted to pick up my great-grandmother’s beautiful wooden knitting needles instead. I had no family members to help, so I quickly turned to the internet as my guide. I sat at the computer for hours, many in pure frustration, trying to follow pictures and diagrams of how to make a slip knot, cast on, hold the needles and finally make a knit stitch. But when I got it, it stuck.  I knit many a garter stitch scarf for months.  Until I came across something that awed and baffled me, the purl stitch.  An important side note : I’m a thrower, but to this day, I cannot throw a purl stitch.

I struggled to maneuver the yarn to the front of the work and to my other hand.  I do not hold my yarn with tension, so I drop the yarn between each stitch using my left hand.  But, let me tell you, my stockinette scarves were out of this world!  I was completely set for life.  I would just make scarf after scarf, AND GIFT THEM TO EVERYONE.  In college, I threw in a rib here or there, some seed stitch and other fun stitch patterns I found in an needlework book.  I treasured every scarf I made and gifted them with such enthusiasm, thinking all the while, “Wow, my friends must LOVE these.  They are complete works of art made with care!”

After everyone I knew had at least one, or two… or really three of these magnificent works of art, I grew tired and stopped. I was a full time student working almost a full time job. That is, until my last semester when I took on a second job, training with the company that was hiring me full-time after graduation.  I was over-worked and had no time to enjoy my craft… and started to look back 0n how few of my scarves I ever saw again.

Luckily, the joys of pregnancy hit me hard.  As soon as I found out, and my stomach settled, I dug out my needles and started knitting M a sweater… sized for a three year old, just in case.  Though I finished knitting it in about a month, I was far too excited about learning new techniques and left the piecing of the sweater for her second birthday…

I have now been knitting for almost ten years and have resolved to learn at least one new, major, technique a year to make up for the years of boring scarves.  Last year was lace, which I adore.  This year – colorwork.  Now, if only I knew how to hold back and find a simple pattern to learn on, instead of a complicated Fair Isle JACKET for M.

Wish me luck!

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The Holidays – A Recap

In years gone by, I have “planned” on gifting knitted items, but like many, I never got around to casting on until it was too late to complete everything.  Though I still managed to write out a list of Christmas gifts that was way too long to accomplish, I started my Christmas knitting in early October.  Even though my last few items are still being finished, I am proud to say my immediate family was able to unwrap their hand-knits on Christmas day WITH all of the ends woven in!

The original list consisted of one lace cowl, two pairs of slippers, three pairs of convertible mittens (one with convertible thumbs for iPhone use), three adult male hats to match the mittens, a hat, mittens and cowl set for M, a cowl for M’s former daycare provider, and two other children’s hats.  Unfortunately, the lace cowl for my sister took almost two months to complete and I had knitting for M’s second birthday in the mix as well.  Below are the items completed thus far, the rest to come very soon!

I had decided that each year I would rotate immediate family members so that there was only one intricate project per year.  My sister was the lucky recipient this year.  The lace cowl, pictured below, is not the most challenging pattern, but I ran out of yarn and found myself unable to make it back to my LYS in a timely manner, severely slowing my pace.  I did really enjoy the pattern (Seahorses Nachaq by Lisa Akers) and though I used Cascade’s Kid Seta Noir, not providing quite as much stitch-definition as I might like in the future for this pattern, I do like the overall effect and outcome.  Not to mention, the gold with a touch of sparkle is perfect for my sister!

Next up was the set for my daughter.  I had taken her to our LYS months earlier (the same time I bought the first skein for my sister’s cowl) and let her pick out one skein of yarn, knowing I would use it for her Christmas present.  She picked out a stunning skein of Fiberphiles‘ hand-dyed 100% Merino Super Squish Worsted in the Emerald Isle colorway.  I started with the Lacy Julian Hat by Raya Budrevich and knit a pair of simple mittens that I knew wouldn’t compete with the beauty of the hat pattern. Unfortunately, M wasn’t really in the mood to pose for the camera before Christmas mass and I have yet to get her to stand still while wearing the hat and/or mittens.

For my mother, I had planned on knitting two pairs of slippers, one knit and one felted.  However, I only managed to complete the Non-Felted Slippers by Yuko Nakamura, as they were quick and easy to work up.  They did come out a bit large, as my feet are enormous compared to most and I seem to always forget it.  Regardless, my mother seemed to really enjoy them and how cushy and comfy they are.

My brother-in-law was meant to have the Chilly Podsters by Glenna C. for his convertible mittens.  But after numerous problems/concerns that had nothing to do with the pattern (which is wonderfully clear) and everything to do with having NO idea how large his hands are, having the world’s shortest double-pointed needles and my circulars in use elsewhere, and my apparent refusal to do a gauge swatch.  He was able to try on one of which I had completed the entire hand and only had the convertible mitten flap and thumb left to complete. Now I can rest assured that these mittens will not be enormous on him and know just how long his fingers are for the mitten flaps.  After coming to the realization that these would not be complete and that I no longer had time to make my father mittens as well, I quickly tore threw my stash and pulled out the yarn for their hats…. the week of Christmas.  I had so little time, I didn’t even look for a pattern.  Mainly, because, let’s face it, I would have spent more time deciding what was the best hat pattern than it would have taken me to knit both hats. I simply cast-on and knit in 2×2 ribbing for a couple inches, switched to stockinette and started a spiral decrease with four k2togs evenly spaced until the hat was the right size and shape before finishing the decreases and stitching the last four stitches together. I completed my brother-in-laws first, keeping in mind that he is about 6’3” and made his hat proportional…. without any real idea as to how large his head is either…  I finished this hat the day I drove us to my parents’ place for the weekend.  Knowing that I still had my father’s hat to cast on, I had him try on my brother-in-law’s “just to see how off I was in the size and shape.”  AND LUCKY I DID! I cast on 15 stitches less for my father’s hat and they both fit them perfectly!

The only other project I have completed from my list, a week late, is the cowl for M’s former daycare provider. It’s a simple stockinette chunky cowl with ribbed edging, but it’s nice and over-sized and comfy; definitely serves it’s purpose well!  Not to mention, I found the perfect shade of Lion’s Brand Thick & Quick so she can show her Redskins pride, even if I don’t understand it.

Though I have decided to scrap a couple of gift ideas to maybe save for next year and I still plan on knitting just a few more children’s items for some close friends who I plan to see next weekend (uh oh), the overall Christmas knitting was a success, leaving everyone happy and warm.  But this year, I’ll probably throw myself full force into the Christmas in July spirit so I have enough time to actually complete all of my intended knitting.

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