singularknitter

A single mom trying to balance life and knitting bliss, with some other crafting and hobbies in the mix.

Homepage: https://asingularknitter.wordpress.com

Reintroduction

To say it’s been a while would be both obvious and a huge understatement.  I could, and probably should, make a lot of excuses, such as how many life changes have occurred over the last year, but excuses would make it sound like I’m sorry for the things that have happened.  For the most part, I’m not.  Of course, there are always a few things a year we wish we could change or do differently. But my life has taken some wonderful new turns and instead of using them to explain my absence – I’d rather begin to explore some of them here on the blog.

Along with these new changes, my daughter and I have added a few more hobbies to our already fun juggling act called life.  Does that mean that I have suddenly stopped all knitting and this will turn into completely different content?  Of course not!  But it does mean that in addition to the knitting and spinning, there will be some more crochet, home improvement projects, gardening, weaving and other fun crafting/DIY/parenting experiments mixed in.  My original intent for this blog was to be open and honest about my life as a single parent raising a daughter with the outlook of taking on anything ourselves.  So to only share some of our crafting life and leave everything else out feels insincere.

I hope you join us in this new chapter of our lives and feel free to share some of your life changes and accomplishments this past year!

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Falling in Progress

Apples are currently in the crock pot, the smell of cinnamon is wafting through the air.  I have a new project on the needles and there is a crispness to the air.  It is the perfect first day of Fall.  Of course, the change in seasons brings some unpleasant things as well… such as seasonal allergies and the cold which our house has already been overtaken with.  But I refuse to let that bring me down.  This is my favorite time of year and I won’t let anything get in my way.  We have apple picking and American Football.  Then there’s pumpkin patches and fall vegetables.  To top it all off: we’re attending the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival this weekend to kick off the start of sheep & wool festival season.  There is just too much to look forward to!

With that said, Fall also brings the want… no, the NEED to cast on nearly everything in sight.  All I long to do is sit in a big pile of all of my yarn and decide what to do with it all.  And then do it.  I cast on a cowl last night out of some handspun that would have been a crime to have stored away another Fall and Winter.  I plan to cast on another cardigan in the next few days for my mom (that’s right, I said ANOTHER).  I’ve already planned enough knitting and spinning to last me all the way through to next Spring and I just can’t stop.  The only trouble is, I would need to seriously tap into my mythical free time to actually get it all done.  Clearly, the cinnamon fumes are getting to me.

Coming back to reality, I realize that I need to first finish a lot of projects.  Sure, the knitting is complete.  But I have a sweater for M, a cardigan for me (more to come in another post), two cowls and two wraps that need ends woven in, to be blocked and buttons sewn on so they can all be worn and enjoyed this Fall.  To accomplish this, I have at least gathered them all into a bag and placed it next to my favorite chair in the living room.  I’ve even conveniently left a sewing needle next to said chair to facilitate weaving in all the ends.  Plus, I’m convinced I will block at least one piece each night for the next week.  Because, really, who knows how many knit pieces I will want to wear this weekend!

It’s time to go stir the apples and breathe in some more energizing Fall fumes.  Tell me, what are your lofty Autumn plans and goals?

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Crafting on the Go

Since we actually took a family vacation this year… by car… I had to plan my projects accordingly.  I brought a couple drop spindles, which of course were not touched, as well as a few knitting/crochet projects in the hope of making some serious progress during our drives to New York and Boston.  Fortunately, I did not drive.  In theory that meant I would be able to knit.  Unfortunately, I did not drive… which meant I could do little more than sleep.  I have the horrible misfortune of getting car sick when I am not driving.  This was not made better by the fact that my daughter insisted that I ride in the backseat with her.  Not to mention the ridiculous amount of traffic we were stuck in on the way up to New York.  But since we are bringing it up, that ridiculous traffic did seem to help my knitting progress incredibly as we were stuck – cars off, not moving – in a tunnel for an hour and a half.  Which meant I could pull out the socks I was working on and complete most of the second sock.  Sure, it was darkish and the people around us were starting to cause concern as they randomly would call out or honk their horns, but this was the only real knitting progress I made on the trip up.

While staying at my sister’s place, I finally admitted to myself that the socks I was knitting were never going to comfortably fit my enormous feet.  They were too snug and I wasn’t knitting them at a tight enough gauge to feel like my toes wouldn’t break through the stitches within the first couple wears.  Luckily, my sister lives in a cold climate and is very knit-worthy… and her feet are about a size smaller than mine.  The socks fit her perfectly and project 1 was completed.

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The next project I brought along would not be what I would consider an awesome travel project.  I could never work on it in the car as I had to count and watch what I was doing the entire time I worked on it.  I also had to bring three gallon-size ziplock bags of fiber fill, which really made my attempt at packing light look like a huge fail.  Plus, it was crochet… which is not my strong suit.  However, I loved this project.  It was my first crochet project that wasn’t flat and it was pretty magically watching it take shape.  With a pattern name like “M. Richard the Whale” and it’s witty pattern description, I was hooked…. literally.  Project 2 was completed and then gifted to a good friend’s baby.

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The final project I brought with me was my Viajante by Martina Behm.  At that point, this project had not been touched in at least 6 months.  I had been worrying that it would never fit properly at the rate I was increasing and so I moved it on to some try-it-on tubing, soaked and blocked it before we left.  I figured I would try it on while we were gone and if I had to rip it all out and start over, at least the relaxing vacation would help ease the frustration.  Luckily, I came to my senses and realized it fit fine considering I was only about a quarter of the way through the 2,000 yards of lace weight yarn I would be using.  I moved it back on the needles and I was delighted to find that I could work on it without looking.  Thus, it was my car knitting for the entire trip to Boston, back to New York and all the way home.  We arrived in Virginia, and I arrived at the end of my first 1,000 yard skein of yarn.  This project was then kicked into high gear and became my serious “travel” project as I never left home without it and literally worked on it every possible second.

 

I may not have brought my typical small and easy projects, except the socks, but I found that the variety and excitement toward the projects is what was best.  None of them were too complicated and all of the knitting was basically stockinette, but there was enough of a difference between the projects to keep me interested and they were simple enough that I could still carry on a conversation or just relax while working on them.  In my mind, they were the perfect items to complete my vacation and set me up for success upon my return home…. And that final success will be shown shortly!

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Summer Crafting, Preschool Style

I have an amazing sister.  I know, this is not a blog where I brag about my family too often.  But no joke, she’s awesome.  When it comes to being the fun aunt, she’s even better.  Our vacation this summer mainly involved staying at my sister’s place where we went on loads of fun adventures to the beach and Coney Island and more.  Back to my sister, though.  She anticipated nearly all of my daughter’s wants and needs… before M even knew she had them.  She even had her willingly eating multiple helpings of salad… my daughter likes her veggies, but baby spinach?  This was new for us…

I brought some toys my daughter hadn’t played with in a while hoping to fill some of the odd hours where we didn’t have something planned and we needed her to be able to play quietly so the adults could rest from all the traveling and excitement.  But it was my sister who brought some real child-entertaining game.

We arrived to find a well-thought-out list of activities she had planned to keep M busy.  There was dress-up, slinky racing (which M and my brother-in-law took off running with), and more drawing than I thought could be humanly possible, especially that done by the adults at the direction of my daughter.

However, the most impressive activity my sister came up with and the one that seems to keep on giving is the one involving thin cut-out wooden bears. Think paper dolls, but made from wood liken to a tongue depressor.  My daughter helped direct how she wanted the faces drawn on… I snuck off for a nap… and when I awoke – all three bears had paper outfits cut out of fancy card stock.  I don’t just mean dresses.. There are shoes, a hat and a purse.

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Plus, these outfits aren’t glued on.  There is the potential for more outfits to be created.  That’s because my sister thought to also get that weird blue wall putty stuff that you can hang pictures on your walls without messing up the paint.  The stuff that will now always be referred to as the amazing putty that allows my child to make her own bear dolls’ clothing that will stay on when we want it to but be so easily changed to a new outfit on a whim.  No silly fold-over paper tabs where the clothing inevitably falls off in less than five seconds like normal paper dolls.

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Since we’ve been home, I’ve been incredibly inspired to come up with more fun crafting/play time for my daughter and me.  Last summer we had dabbled in some art journaling.  This summer, M is going at it full force.  We pulled out the paints, stencils, glitter glue, crafting tape and craft paper and she has been adding to her pages pretty consistently.

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We also pulled out some other projects I had planned on us completing together…. years ago.  We finally painted and decorated the wooden letters for her name and hung them on the wall of her room by stringing them on decorative ribbon (less nail holes).

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I’ve also been struggling to find ways to better display all of the artwork she creates both at school and at home, so we hung a couple more lines of ribbon in her room and are hanging each piece with clothes pins.  Now she has her own little art exhibit that she gets to curate.

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For our next project, we will be revisiting the bears by making them homes.  Shoe box homes.  I told her we could paint them to look like rooms and paint furniture and rugs and such.  She turns to me and says “and we can cut out a door and make windows too!”.  I hear we will also be gluing the shoe boxes together to make a little bear mansion…. It will likely take up the rest of our summer!

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Stash Dash & Tour de Fleece Wrap-up

To say my summer goals were lofty would not exactly be crazy… but they were nothing beyond what I’ve pushed myself to do in the past.  This year, though, everything seemed to converge making this summer a huge crafting fail.  Between work, taking an actual vacation, and a sudden (but now seemingly taken care of) health situation, I had less time to do everything I planned on.  Sure, I thought I planned according to my vacation time and my life in general… but clearly I was lying to myself.

Let’s start with the Stash Dash goals:  Knit smaller projects mixed in with three large projects (2 sweaters and my Viajante by Martina Behm) and spin as much as possible to use and/or create 5K of yarn.

The result:

Gobi Cowl by Marlaina "Marly" Bird - 196 yards

Gobi Cowl by Marlaina “Marly” Bird – 196 yards

296 yards spun from Rambouillet batts

296 yards spun from Rambouillet batts

138 yards spun from punis by Unwind Yarn Company

138 yards spun from punis by Unwind Yarn Company

615 yards of Polwarth spun in the Tickled Pink colorway from Into the Whirled

615 yards of Polwarth spun in the Tickled Pink colorway from Into the Whirled

Melvin's Dog Sweater - 236.6 yards

Melvin’s Dog Sweater – 236.6 yards

246 yards of Shetland spun in the Costume Ball colorway from FiberFancy

246 yards of Shetland spun in the Costume Ball colorway from FiberFancy

M. Richard the Whale by Stacey Trock - 438 yards

M. Richard the Whale by Stacey Trock – 438 yards

Sunnyside Cardigan by Tanis Lavallee - 400 yards

Sunnyside Cardigan by Tanis Lavallee – 400 yards

Toe-Up Socks - 294.4 yards

Toe-Up Socks – 294.4 yards

That left me at only 2,860 yards – 2,608 yards short.  It was a pretty epic fail.  No knitting was accomplished on any sweater. Though much of my Viajante was complete, no matter how hard I could have pushed myself at the end, I wouldn’t have made the deadline – and would have still been 608 yards short.

As for Tour de Fleece, even though I only managed to finish one of the many spinning projects I had hoped to complete during the Tour (the FiberFancy Shetland shown above), I felt a bit better about it.  I did spent a lot of the Tour riding in a car to and from New York and Boston – making spinning nearly impossible.  I did bring two drop spindles with me in hopes of working on, and maybe even finishing, the two braids of fiber.  But I was on vacation.  Unlike last year, this vacation was not a knitting retreat and between beach-going and meeting with friends I hadn’t seen in years, I just didn’t find the time.  Which was perfectly alright with me.

Since I find myself at almost the end of summer having failed at my crafting goals, I’ve decided to redirect myself toward fall crafting and creating some goals to carry me through to the end of the year.  That’s right people, Christmas is around the corner!  But first, I’ll let you in on all the fun summer crafting I did with my daughter in the next post!

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Getting Back on Track

Summer seems to have spiraled out of control this year.  Many plans and goals came and went unfulfilled.  Many posts were planned and never written.  This week, I hope to change some of that.  After unexpectedly being laid up on the couch recovering from a (minor-ish) surgery, I think now is the time to catch up on everything and fill in all the blanks.

Some things to look forward to this week:

– Stash Dash and Tour de Fleece Wrap-up

– Summer Crafting with M

– Crafting on the Go

– Getting Reacquainted with the Wheel

– Looking ahead to Fall

Look forward to a busier-than-usual week!

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Summer Project Planning

With hot weather looming outside everyday and the prospect of having any and all wool stick to me upon contact, my summer crafting usually has to be pretty thought out.  Between taking M to the pool and actually letting her play outside in the disgusting heat (I’m clearly not a big fan of being hot), I have found that small portable knitting projects get the most attention.  That being said, two of my favorite events happen every summer – Stash Dash and Tour de Fleece – both of which require serious planning.

Stash Dash, hosted by TheKnitGirllls, is running from May 23rd to August 7th this year and the goal is to knit/spin/use 5K of yarn.  If I only work on small projects all summer, I would not only go out of my mind, but I would likely never reach this goal.  I would waste so much time in between projects deciding what I felt like working on next.  I very easily get analysis paralysis…

In order to minimize the time wasted in this manner, I’ve lined up some of the larger projects I would like to accomplish this year that would seriously help reach the 5K goal.  Since I won’t likely bring these projects on our outdoor “adventures”, I will be certain to have a smaller project on the needles at all time.

  1. Viajante by Martina Behm (this has been on the needles since July 2013 and seriously needs to be finished)
  2. Anna Maria Cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio (the sweater I was knitting for my mother until I realized it was large enough to fit three of her and needs to be re-cast on)
  3. Lush Cardigan by Tin Can Knits (hopefully to be my Rhinebeck Sweater)

It is also unlikely that I will be able to knit quickly enough to accomplish this entire goal.  Luckily, spinning also counts – and that’s where Tour de Fleece comes in.  Running from July 5th to July 27th, Tour de Fleece is the perfect motivation to spend some serious time spinning in the comfort of my air conditioning.  I don’t ask for much, but I do require it to be 80 degrees or cooler in order to spin without feeling like I’m felting the fiber before it even reaches the orifice of my wheel…

This year, however, Tour de Fleece seemed to sneak up on me – as did the month of July in general.  I originally intended on spinning my Jacob fleece batts and having it either all ready to ply or completely finished by the end of the Tour.  Since it began on July 5th and I realized the day of that I had projects going on nearly all of my bobbins and both of my drop spindles, I decided to change things up a bit.

I would like to be able to clean and condition my wheel before spinning my Jacob fleece, so I’ll need all of the bobbins cleared to do that properly.  So…. you guessed it – my goal is now to finish all of the spinning projects I have in the works… or at least the ones not on storage bobbins.  The current hope – and by that I clearly mean plan – is to clear these off my wheel and my spindles:

Loop Bullseye Bump - Merino in the Vineyard colorway.

Loop Bullseye Bump – Merino in the Vineyard colorway.

KnittyAndColor - Merino/Bamboo in the Soren colorway.

KnittyAndColor – Merino/Bamboo in the Soren colorway.

FiberFancy - Shetland in the Costume Ball colorway.

FiberFancy – Shetland in the Costume Ball colorway.

Fiber Optic Yarns - BFL in the Bramble faux Batik colorway.

Fiber Optic Yarns – BFL in the Bramble faux Batik colorway.

Unwind Yarn Co - Polwarth/Silk Blend in the Ghoulish colorway.

Unwind Yarn Co – Polwarth/Silk Blend in the Ghoulish colorway.

This is also a much better goal as I will be doing a bit of traveling and it is much more reasonable to bring along a drop spindle or two than to bring my wheel along for the ride.  Not to mention a lot less annoying for those I’ll be traveling with!

What are your crafting goals for the summer?  Planning any Christmas in July crafting to get a head start on your gifts basket? Please share to keep me… inspired? …paralyzed by all the possibilities?

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The New Toy

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Enough said.  Right?  It’s now pretty clear why I referred to it as the best Mother’s Day/Christmas/Birthday present ever.

I suppose I could give some details.  It is the Strauch Petite drum carder and we were able to leave Maryland Sheep and Wool with one in hand from the Stony Mountain Fibers booth.  Though I had to wait several hours before I could open it up and try it out – as soon as I could, I made a few small batts out of some washed, but unprocessed, Rambouillet I had picked up at a Uniquities Fiber Farmer’s Market.  It was amazing and I am hooked.

Since Maryland Sheep and Wool, I have now made those batts and then…..

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I finished processing the Jacob fleece.  That’s it.  The entire fleece, all rolled into little batts of happiness and joy.  I no longer have to wonder if I will ever have the entire fleece combed and ready to be spun for Tour de Fleece 2018… No.  It’s ready for THIS year’s spinning enjoyment.  I could maybe even dream of having the sweater coat knit by the end of this year.  Plus, I would much rather spin this in a true woolen-style (long-draw and carded, not combed) and three-ply it so I can have a nice aran(ish) weight yarn.

So, in about two and a half weeks the jacob fleece turned into this:

IMG_8332 IMG_8333IMG_8339 IMG_8340IMG_8335I chose to card the fleece into batts that would all have a variety of the colors of this spotted fleece.  They are all mostly the dark brown with strips of gray and white.  This way, it will have more of  a tweedy look, instead of running the wool through the carder several times and making it a more consistent color throughout.

I am incredibly anxious to start spinning it up.  But I am going to be patient and finish all other spinning projects first and clean my ladybug to prepare her for the Tour de Fleece.  When I will attack.

 

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MDSW 2014 in Review

After only having attended the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival on Saturday, it was quite a shock to attend on Sunday this year.  I expected it to be a bit slower, but to still run into a sea of people.  We arrived about an hour early, so I was able to do a full walk through in record time.  In all, we were only there for two and a half hours… which I still cannot wrap my head around.

It was wonderful, though.  We brought the stroller, as usual, in case M didn’t want to walk the entire time and instead of feeling like we were always in the way, we strolled with ease through the barns and the exhibition hall.  The only “difficulty” we had was that M distinctly remembered getting ice cream there in the past and as soon as we entered the gates was asking when she could have her ice cream.  This pretty much persisted the entire time we were there.  Even seeing the all the sheep didn’t distract her for more then ten minutes.  So it was nice to feel like we accomplished everything in such a relatively short period of time so that she could have her strawberry milkshake and we could go home.  Yep, that’s me admitting to letting my daughter have ice cream at 10:30 in the morning.  But it’s not like it’s a daily thing…

On to the goodies:  I did stay strong and I only purchased fiber this year.  There were a few moments were I thought about breaking down, one being at the Miss Babs booth.  However, I kept it a what is a minimum for me thus far.  My first fiber purchase was at the end of our first walk through at the Into the Whirled booth in the Exhibition hall.  I wanted to pick up one of the last of their batts and oh so surprisingly ran into a braid of fiber that I couldn’t leave behind.

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I managed to stay strong as I passed many of my other favorite indie dyers, knowing that I still have some of their fiber in my stash and opted to find some dyers I have been meaning to try out for a while.  I knew I had to stop by the Gourmet Stash and Hobbledehoy booths where I fell in love with so many things and seriously had a difficult time resisting buying everything they had.

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There is one final goodie that was purchased earlier in the day.  This particular item I have been longing to get for almost a year now and is so spectacular it deserves a post of it’s own.  All I have to say for now is it is one of the best Mother’s Day, Christmas and Birthday presents I have ever received and I see great things in our future together.

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Festival Prep

It’s that time again.  We’re kicking off this year’s festival season (aka – most of the year) with the spectacular Maryland Sheep and Wool.  After M’s fantastic experience at Rhinebeck in October, we are bringing both of my parents to MDSW to ensure that she has all the fun she wants while I still have the time to hit up all of my favorites.  So, what’s the game plan?  Simple: stick to my goals for the year.  No yarn, just fiber.  Oh, and no going crazy and blaming it on the wool fumes.

So easily said.  But let’s face it, with a vendor list full of some of my favorite Indie dyers and local or local-ish farms, it can be incredibly difficult to not get overwhelmed by all the pretty and not feel like I need to buy something from all of them.  This year, however, I will stick to the game plan.  I will be reserved.  I will enjoy all of the beautiful things and not feel the obligation to literally bring them all home with me.  I will hold to the rule of taking a full lap through before buying anything.  Since I will not always have to walk at M’s pace of running and stopping every five seconds and getting side-tracked, I will be able to do said lap much more quickly so that I can then wander peacefully to pick up whatever I could not forget about on my second lap.  I will then relax and take in the rest.  There will be some serious face time with some sheep.  M and I will likely do a follow-up from Rhinebeck and stare at them for at least an hour.

I may sound incredibly crazy and foolish making all of these bold statements and promises to myself.  But I want this to not feel like some crazy, overwhelming race to spend all of my money, to then come home thoroughly exhausted and feel like I didn’t get to truly enjoy anything.  I don’t want to impulse buy and then find that I have no where left to store anything because my yarn and fiber no longer fits in it’s designated place.  No.  I want to come home knowing that I do still have some willpower while being able to get out there and enjoy myself.

The only thing that may make me slip-up: M bringing me a skein of yarn and saying in her sweetest, yarn-loving way: “Mommy, would you knit me something out of this?” or the new favorite “Will you save this yarn for me so I can use it when I’m a grown-up and learn to knit?”.  Gets me every time.

I look forward to sharing my hopeful success next week.  Even if I don’t hold as strong as I’d like to all of the above, I am certain I’ll come home feeling like it was a win.  If you plan on attending fiber festivals this year, what’s your game plan? Also, if you’ll be at MDSW on Sunday, I will be certain to wear my Ravelry button – come say hi!

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