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

Sorting it Out

While Jacob combining is in full swing in an attempt to finish it before the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, I thought I would pass along the sorting method M and I took with this spotted fleece.  Since it took almost an hour, below are some very quick highlights.  And, yes, M did find it entirely necessary to eat a cheese stick in the middle of the process…. mainly, I think, for some added face time.

 

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Pulling out the Jacob

After spending the holiday season and the beginning of the year cranking out some knitting, I’d been craving some spinning time. In a matter of a couple weeks, I finished spinning four 4-ounce braids of fiber and worked on spinning some punis. The first 4 ounces I had been working on for quite a long time and it took about 3 days worth of spinning time to ply it all. As a quick cleanse and to help relax, I spun another 4 ounces on a Sunday afternoon. I started off with M practicing combining treadling with drafting. When she lost interest, I continued while spinning from the fold (folding the fiber over my index finger) with a long draw technique.

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Two-plying from the inside and outside of a center-pull ball

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I also started tackling a few items that will help me reach my 2014 goals. First, my Jacob and I became reacquainted. I pulled out the entire fleece and my combs to assess the situation. I may not have finished prepping it during the Ravellenics, but at least now it is out where I will see it everyday and it should be done rather quickly as I will want the floor space in my living room back!

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My only problem will be holding myself back from starting to spin it before I’m done combing it all. I do not want to spin any until I know exactly what I want to create. I was thinking of trying to spin it in a way to obtain a tweed look by spinning in the white portions throughout the chocolate brown. However, there is significantly less white to work with. Once I have finished combing it all. I will use some of the chocolate brown to do some sampling to decide how to spin and ply it all.

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Holiday Crafting

Though I usually have M make all of her valentines, I decided to do things a bit differently this year.  She has many of the same kids in her class as last year and I didn’t want to give them the same foam heart with foam letters and heart stickers.  Plus, I’m all about gifting things that are also useful.  Often valentines are store bought cards and/or candy.  Which is fine.  But four year olds only need so much candy.

Instead, I decided to use some of my dish cloth cotton to knit heart “scrubbies”.   These nice little hearts can be used to scrub dishes or as wash cloths.  Plus, with their super convenient crocheted loops, they can be hung in the dishwasher or be thrown in the wash.  I did try making a crocheted heart to see if it would take less time and look nicer… but it took at least twice as long… just to do one side of it.  I asked M on Thursday morning which of the two she preferred.  Luckily, it was the knitted heart.  So M’s teacher was gifted the larger, “fancy” heart and I made ten (I promise, even if only eight made it into the picture!) of the little knitted hearts.  In order to give each valentine M’s special touch, she was in charge of writing out the tags with each child’s name and her own.  Which, for a four year old, is a lot of hard work!

i ♥ tawashi's by Julie Tarsha and HDC Heart in Lily's Sugar'n Cream cotton

i ♥ tawashi’s by Julie Tarsha and HDC Heart in Lily’s Sugar’n Cream cotton

M was so pleased with how they were turning out, she started to list other people I should make the hearts for.  Since I was working on most of them during our snow day the day before Valentine’s Day, I told her the others might have to wait until next year!

Once Valentine’s Day was over, I had the three-day weekend ahead of me to craft on whatever I wanted.  I always find that after (self-imposed) “obligation” knitting is complete, I want to do nothing but spin.  Since I was out of the house most of the weekend, I did work a lot on my mother’s sweater.  But whenever I was home, I worked on spinning up some Highland Handmades’ Polwarth (aka Pitch Pine Top) in the SSKers For the Win colorway.

Highland Handmades Pitch Pine Top - SSKersFTW colorway

Highland Handmades Pitch Pine Top – SSKersFTW colorway

On Presidents’ Day, I took advantage of my day off to not only clean my place, but to sew the rest of the fold-over hems on my father’s sweater as well as sew on the six buttons.  One would maybe think this should have been done back in September when the knitting was finished.  But after finishing the hems at the bottom of the sweater, the collar and both the sleeves were incredibly intimidating.  Not to mention time consuming.  I kept fearing I would get nearly to the end of the collar, only to find that I had sewn it askew.  Luckily, I had an easy way to line up the sleeves as the hem portion was continued directly from the rest of the sleeve and I could line up the stitches exactly.  However, the collar portion had been picked up and knitted from the cast on of the sweater, so there was not the same number of stitches and with the raglan increases, the stitches in the sweater were at an angle while the “hem” was straight.  It took some doing and a lot of straight pins (which are incredibly useless when sewing knitting), but the sweater is now finished.  My father, who was over spending some play time with M, was able to wear it home.

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I might not be completing my intended goals during this Olympic season, but at least I seem to be staying on track with my overall year goals of completing these sweaters and using up stash!

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Olympic Crafting

With the Olympics starting this week, I am only just now trying to decide what to do.  Since I have not had the proper amount of time to really plan anything and I already have several projects going, I am not going to officially participate in the Ravellenics. Instead, I’m thinking my goal should be to work on combing my Jocob fleece every day and attempt to finish my mother’s sweater (of which I have only knit about 10 rows since casting it on at the end of January).

Though finishing the sweater is a rather lofty goal, I am not going to hold myself to it.  I have not done the math to figure out how many rows I need to knit a day in order to complete the sweater by February 23rd.  I will just focus on knitting on it every day, either while I’m on the go, or each night after M has gone to bed.

During the 2012 Olympics, I pushed hard to pump out numerous projects and I felt like I could not let myself do anything but knit in order to complete everything on my list.  It may have been rewarding to see all those finished objects stacking up, but this year, I want to focus more on enjoying the process.  By keeping my knitting goals relaxed, I will still have time and energy to work on combing the fleece as well as some spinning I’ve been doing since completing the last of my blanket knitting.

Hopefully, the Olympics will keep me motivated to work on these goals and bring me one step closer to accomplishing two of my four major goals for the year!

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New Year, New Goals

Now that the new year is in full swing, I thought I would lay out some of my goals for the coming year, with one major theme running through them: intention.  I touched on it very briefly in the last post, but it is what I am molding my goals around.  I have plenty of yarn, and maybe even plenty of fiber, to last me the year and all of it I would love to be using.  This year, I will put all yarn buying on hold and only purchase very little fiber.  Instead, I will be focusing those funds on finishing paying off my student loans and putting the rest away towards M’s college fund.

That being said, there are a few projects I really want to do!

1.  I have promised a few sweaters that I want to complete, not only because I care about those whom I’ve promised them to, but also because each will challenge me just a bit more.

2. Finish combing and spinning the Jacob fleece I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool last May.

3. Knit the Jacob yarn into a sweater for myself.

4. Complete 12 pairs of socks for M.

Finally, I want to knit down my stash as much as possible without supplementing.  This means a lot of project planning and time spent on Ravelry comparing project ideas and yardage in my stash.  But let’s face it, sometimes, that’s the best way to spend a lazy evening at home.

Unlike last year, I will be attempting to keep to a weekly posting schedule to keep track of my progress and help motivate myself throughout the year.  That will mean complete honesty about any yarn and fiber purchases if I slip up and many posts that will involve “talking” through different potential projects.  This way, I’ll be held accountable for my crafting… and my spending.

I wish you all the best of luck with your goals for the year!

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2013 Wrap-Up

2013 seemed to go by in a blur of ups and downs.  I am hoping to keep a better handle on 2014 and make it a year full of more intentions.  While my professional life is keeping me very busy, I am determined to set aside time for knitting and spinning and continue to find ways to include my daughter in on the fun.

Last year, I purchased my first fleece, and M was there to help sort and wash it with me.  She also helped pick out my only purchases at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival (aka Rhinebeck) and guided (or dragged) me around the barns to visit with every sheep at least three times before we left.  She has a definite interest and still likes to treadle at the wheel, but I think her interests fall much more toward the fiber and spinning side of the spectrum and she has no interest in knitting or crocheting at this point.  I believe her words were: “But Mommy, you can just make it for me”.

However, because of her guidance, I had a wonderful time at Rhinebeck and was able to keep my spending down.

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Saying hi to a newborn

Saying hi to a newborn

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During the Ravelry and Podcaster meet-up she entertained herself, as well as a few unsuspecting passersby, with an enormous leaf pile of fun:

Bringing others in on the fun!

Bringing others in on the fun!

Enjoying a very brief moment

Enjoying a very brief moment

As Fall came to a close, I began seriously buckling down and trying to crank out my Christmas hand knits.  I didn’t attempt to complete nearly as many items as last year.  Instead, I focused on a couple special pieces that were themed according to their recipients.

"Tattered" scarf knit out of GnomeAcres "I Dream of Zombies" colorway.

“Tattered” scarf knit out of GnomeAcres “I Dream of Zombies” colorway.

"Zombie Teeth" shawl knit out of GnomeAcres "I Dream of Zombies" colorway.

“Zombie Teeth” shawl knit out of GnomeAcres “I Dream of Zombies” colorway.

I ended the year off by knitting and crocheting blankets in rapid succession.  Unfortunately, this has continued into the new year and I cannot seem to see the light at the end of the enormous-project tunnel.  One more blanket to finish and three sweaters to complete and I will be able to move on to less (self-imposed) “obligation” knitting.

Crocheted lap blanket

Crocheted lap blanket

Knit baby blanket

Knit baby blanket

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Falling Back into Life

After almost 5 months of having plenty to write about and no energy to do it, I’m finally taking back my life.  Some people start to retreat when Fall and Winter come around, while I, apparently, come back to life.  I just find so many more possibilities with the coming cooler weather, not only creatively, but with my daughter as well.  But before jumping into my excitement about Fall, here’s a quick update on how the summer went:

A lot changed this summer, both personally and professionally, but I still managed to find some time to focus on my crafting.  I worked on learning a bit more crochet and made a few baby blankets to solidify these new skills.  Most importantly, I had the amazing opportunity to attend my first knitting retreat.  More to come on this experience in a future post.  For now, here are some highlights of my projects over the summer:

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Hitchhiker by Martina Behm

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Corridale Cross handspun

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Springy Ring Mittens by Cathy Campbell

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Fell in love with corespinning

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First (double) crocheting in the round… not perfect, but it works!

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Tour de Fleece spinning – Team LOOP!

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First granny-square style blanket

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Chloe Grace by Melissa Simpson

What’s up next? We are in the crazy process of moving, planning M’s birthday party and starting on Christmas knitting.  October might be a bit hectic, but it’s still one of the best months of the year!

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MDSW Round 2

Last year, Maryland Sheep & Wool was my first festival. I had heard about how large it was, but I had no real idea of what I was in for. I planned the trip in terms of how to take my then two and a half year old along with my mother, but I didn’t plan for what I would buy. I didn’t even budget. I figured I would be fine…

Though I still love what I came home with last year, this year, I knew better. I knew that at every turn I would see beautiful things. I needed to know what I did and did not need, because I knew I would always want it all. Over the course of this year, I am also attempting to only make yarn and fiber purchases while at festivals and retreats. I may not have what some consider an enormous stash; I can still decide to cast on a new project any given day and have plenty of options. I decided I would go in with a list of vendors who wouldn’t be at the retreat I am attending in July and with a short list of sweaters I would like to knit and DO NOT have the yarn for. This way, I would look at all the lovelies with purpose. I created a definite focus, which I almost stuck to.

We arrived a bit before 8:30 am and though “gates” didn’t open until 9 am… we followed the stream of people right into the fairgrounds. Since I was trying to reign in my purchases this year, we didn’t rush to certain vendors in hopes of beating the crowds. Instead, we strolled through the grounds methodically and leisurely. Until we reached the Jacob Sheep Conservancy booth where I promptly fell in love with a 3 lb 7 oz fleece. That’s right. Before the festival was officially open, I purchased a fleece. Which of course didn’t fit in the stroller we brought to push around M and my purchases for the day. Luckily, my mother is amazing and took the fleece back to the car while M and I watched some sheep judging.

Jacob Fleece from Fire Fly Farm

Jacob Fleece from Fire Fly Farm

Then the journey continued. M had spotted some amazingly adorable (and seemingly well-priced) lambs for sale toward the front gate on our way in, so we back-tracked a bit so that she could bond with some, only to leave us both heart-broken when we had to leave them behind…

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I later found my sweater-quantity of yarn at the Uncommon Threads booth, where I picked up several skeins of my first-ever madelinetosh tosh dk. I’ve been waiting too long. I fell in love with the chocolatey browns mixed with the subtle pops of blue.

madelinetosh tosk dk in the William Morris colorway

madelinetosh tosk dk in the William Morris colorway

Along the way, we, I mean, M fell in love with more wonderfully soft and friendly animals. As a reward for her good behavior, considering the circumstances, I bought her the softest alpaca-panda on earth!

Baby angora!

Baby angora!

We were in Alpaca heaven.

We were in Alpaca heaven.

Of course the only picture I managed to get of M and the panda was on the drive home... worn out!

Of course the only picture I managed to get of M and the panda was on the drive home… worn out!

Eventually, we made our way to the Main Exhibition Hall where M gladly helped pick out a few Loop Bullseye Bumps as well as some Spontaneous Spinning Cloud to use for core spinning. She also managed to impress the wonderful folks at the Into The Whirled booth and scored herself an extra button… which I will eventually give her when she’s not so accident-prone.

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Between the mindful purchases, the awesome experiences and the amazing people I met, I feel that I was able to enjoy this year’s festival so much more!  Plus, I got to pretend I was driving a fire truck… what could be better? 😉

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Buttons!

Before Christmas, I started to practically crave wooden buttons.  I knew there were a few Christmas presents that would require buttons and after watching various video podcasters showing off their new beautiful wooden buttons, I had to have some! I perused Etsy for about an hour, uncertain which to choose when I decided to trust the word of one of my favorite podcasters, Amy Beth of The Fat Squirrel Speaks.  I quickly went through her show notes until I found the name of the Etsy seller, Pymatuning Crafts.

The Etsy store alone had me convinced.  There were so many wonderful options.  Plus, she had variety packs! Knowing I would have several different projects that would require buttons of varied size and color, I chose a 3-wood, 18-button variety pack (6 buttons roughly the same size in each wood type) and a 6-wood, 50-button variety pack (buttons of many sizes in each wood type).  To my surprise, the shop owner, Leigh, messaged me seemingly moments after placing my order and my order shipped the very next day.  In just days of ordering, my wood button craving was satisfied!  Not only are her products stunning, but her customer service puts her a notch above the rest!

The wood types I received were sumac, magnolia, arborvitae, hickory, cherry, oak, pear and elm.  Each wood type was in its own little ziplock bag with a label so that non-wood-aficionados such as myself can forever keep them straight.  Each button has character.  You can tell time was spent making each individual button something special.  Both sides are sanded smooth and though, the edges maintain their natural textures, they are beveled to provide smooth functionality and provide a well-finished appearance.

All but sumac

Top left to bottom right: Arborvitae, Magnolia, Hickory, Oak, Elm, Cherry, Pear.  Sumac pictured below.

So far, I have used three different types on three Christmas presents and the recipients and I have all been very pleased with the effect they give to the finished product.

Pear Wood

Pear

Arborvitae wood

Arborvitae

Sumac

Sumac

Though I have several left, I’m already eyeing some new buttons listed in her shop! That aged apple wood is calling to me….

 

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Flashing the Stash

With the beginning of a new year, I decided to truly let it all out.  The fiber, the yarn, the UFOs. Everything.  Just in case my not-so-fibery friends happen across this post and start to worry that I’ve added unidentified flying objects to my hobbies, UFO= unfinished objects… but they can be just as scary.

So let’s get that frightening picture out of the way:

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2 shawls, 2 sweaters, 1 tee, 1 baby sweater, 1 color work mitten, 1 hat

The oldest project in the bunch is the color work mittens that I started last March.  So it could be worse, but I’d like to not take an entire year to knit a pair of mittens. The good news is the have been started much more recently and consistently worked on.

Next up, my remaining handspun from 2012.  Though there isn’t too much of it, I would like to knit up my handspun yarn a bit sooner.  I’m always to excited once it’s off the wheel or spindle, but then find that it sits there waiting for me to find the right project.  Some of these already have patterns ready and printed, but for some reason I can’t commit to starting the project.  So I’m holding myself accountable for what’s left of last year’s handspun and I hope to knit it all up by the end of this year.  That being said, I hope to spin much more this year, so I probably won’t be able to keep up going forward.

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Now, for the real deal.  The rest of the stash.  Keep in mind, this is pictured on a queen-sized bed… just to give some perspective.

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To give some further perspective:

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And for even more clarification, this spans the entire length, covers more than half the bed and is three skeins high through most of the pile, with most of the fiber hidden in the back.

So where from here? I’m not declaring a “yarn diet”.. I’m not so good at the dieting.  I am going to try not to purchase any yarn or fiber outside of that purchased at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in May, the SSK retreat I’ll be attending in July and Rhinebeck (NY Sheep & Wool Festival) in October.  These major events will have all the yarn and fiber I could possibly want with all the vendors I adore.  I plan to save up for these events so that I can buy only the things I will truly love and I don’t already have in my stash.

I also have planned out 13 projects for the year using my oldest yarn to correspond with Stash & Burn’s Use It or Lose It knitalong.  The hat on the needles now is project number one.

As long as I know I use the additions to my stash, I won’t feel so guilty having it.  Also, it maybe cannot grow… when I put it all away (some was still out and not properly put away from last year) it barely fit in the six bins I have in my ENORMOUS bookcase. I don’t have anymore bins……

 

 

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