Archive for category Daily Life

26 Days ’til Christmas

Projects in Progress: 7

Projects Complete: 4

Total Presents to Complete: 26

Despite all of my planning – eventually real life takes over.  Including last night, where M stayed up until 11:30 pm, when I finally gave up trying to put her to sleep and went to bed myself only to have her crawl into my bed and fall asleep in under a minute, I have had little to no knitting time this week.  So I reevaluated my present list and somehow, when I was supposed to be cutting presents, I mean postponing them until people’s birthdays or next Christmas (obviously), I instead ended up only reducing by four presents, but also decided that two completed presents would not actually work as presents.

The items I decided to hold off on are for people who are already getting at least one other Christmas present this year, so they still won’t be presentless.  The two completed projects were removed from the count because they are cowls made out of wool.  Not superwash wool, either.  I just couldn’t think of anyone on my list that would hand wash a cowl that didn’t have a wool sensitivity.  That being said, they might get added back to the list when I decide to give them to M for Christmas just to add to the number of presents she gets to unwrap… clearly every three year old’s favorite part.

So the current project breakdown: 3 sweaters, 2 pairs of slippers, 6 pairs of mitts/mittens, 5 hats, 6 neck-warmers/cowls and 3 wraps/shawls.  Completely more reasonable than before…………..

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My Little Crafter

After struggling to put out a post that captures all of my daughter’s enthusiasm towards crafting, I decided to dedicate the majority of this post to photos and videos.

As a single parent, I try to do my best to balance normal toddler activities with my daughter and crafting time. But let’s face it, she’s growing up in an environment revolved around crafting…. that is the part that isn’t revolved around her. Luckily, she really embraces it.

Giving some love to a swap gift

She even loves modeling finished projects when I forget to have someone take a picture for me:

Beyond creating any form of art with craft supplies, she has found that they are some of her new favorite toys for imaginative play.  Just last night she decided to dump out all of our buttons and sort them into families, having the buttons talk to each other and “find each other”. Little buttons went searching clear across the bed for their moms, dads, brothers and sisters, asking for help from other buttons along the way.

M also partakes in her own knitting during my knitting or spinning time.  She often takes out some of “her” yarn and sits with me, pretending to knit.  She often creates projects that she’s making and let’s me know to whom the finished items will go.

That being said, she definitely has a love for a ladybug in our lives – my spinning wheel.  Back in the days when I would take a spinning break during her naps on weekends, she would wake up and sneak into my lap, slowly sliding her feet down to the treadles to “help” me.  This has now evolved to her going up to my wheel asking to spin.  I set it up so that any project I was working on was entirely on the bobbin so she could treadle by herself and nothing would get in the way.

Recently, she asked if she could spin her own yarn.  After months of treadling by herself, I decided adding the next step wouldn’t hurt.  I predrafted some fiber I had received during my wheel spinning class so that she could spin without needing to draft at the same time.  She sat down and went to it:

I think her first handspun is beautiful and definitely going in the scrapbook…. though I might be biased.

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Jumpstart Into Fall!

Everything.  No, really, everything is inspiring my knitting right now.  Every time I turn around, I see something that even slightly reminds me of a project I am knitting, a project I want to knit, or a design I have started mulling over.  I am not a huge fan of summer, so just the thought that it is ending is sending my head spinning over all of the possibilities.  I keep planning trips in my head to go apple picking with M, wine tasting at my favorite local vineyard, and heading to a pumpkin patch for some extra fall fun.  But even thinking about these wonderful fall activities, reminds me of all of the knitting I want to accomplish.

So I just started casting on everything.  To the point where I am running out of needles.  I asked my father to purchase an interchangeable needle set for me for Christmas (along with some sweaters’ worth of yarn) and nearly broke down when I turned them over to him after the package arrived.  “I NEED THOSE NEEDLES NOW!” I keep screaming in my head.  It doesn’t help that M and I managed to break two sizes of my current interchangeable set, so I’m already down two potential projects!  Not to mention, a lot of these hopeful projects do require the same size needles.  I have been pretty restraint in my needle buying over my ten years of knitting, and there are only a few sizes where I have more than just the one interchangeable size.  Then there’s the problem of how many cables I have for the interchangeables.  

Since everything keeps getting in the way of me casting on every project that’s ever existed, I am trying to set timelines for me to actually finish the projects I currently have on the needles.  The first project, though technically off the needles, is a button up cowl… that only needs the two buttons.   This would maybe take me five minutes to complete so I could gift it to its recipient, and yet, I just cannot seem to do it.  Then, I have a finished shawl, awaiting to be sent off to another friend, if I could only weave in the ends.  Completing this project would take, max, ten minutes, and that includes printing a shipping label.

As for the projects on the needles, I am proud to say I finally picked up for the button band of a baby sweater I’ve been working on since the beginning of July.  The goal is to finish it by Friday, or everyone in my life can yell at me.  I’ve already told my daughter, “an acceptable time to yell at Mommy, when she doesn’t finish this baby sweater this week.”  She’s totally on it. She’s already started practicing yelling at me.  Just in case.

I already have two very large Christmas presents on the needles, both almost halfway complete.  Luckily, one is my commuting knitting.  It is traveling everywhere with me so that I can get in a few random stitches here and there and work on it during my lunch break.  This is not a project I’m worried about completing.  The other present was coming along, until I realized it was going to be a present… and not for me.  Then it took a back burner to the baby sweater.  But it’s looming over me.  So as soon as the first is off the needles, this will move into it’s place as the commuting knitting.

However, the most important and time sensitive knitting.  The one thing that should have a clear external and internal motivator is proving to be the most difficult to be consistent on.  M’s birthday sweater.  She turns three at the end of October and has been asking for a new sweater.  I have had the yarn for said sweater for almost a year and a half.  It’s time.  After casting on and then tearing out one cardigan, I finally found one worthy.  And it is the most complicated pattern.  Clearly, I want to knit all of the things in the world… and use absolutely NO brain power to do it.  I want this cardigan done.  To the point that I have printed out the pattern multiple times, cutting and pasting charts, writing and rewriting row numbers along the charts, and thinking about completely rewriting the entire pattern to try and make it a more portable project.  It’s just not happening.  But I LOVE this pattern.  I NEED my daughter to wear this cardigan.  So I have planned out a strict schedule for knitting this project that gives me a finish date a month before her birthday, so when I utterly FAIL I’ll still have a month to get it done.  Here’s hoping!

Then of course, I have a couple other projects going for christmas presents, ideas for holiday gifts for all of my coworkers (which is just absurd and likely to not actually happen, but they will be cast on…), and an idea for my Christmas door decorating that will be addressed in a future post.  I’d also like to knit about five sweaters for myself. I don’t think I have ever made so many lists over and over again of what I want to knit.  Trying to prioritize and desperately trying to NOT LET MYSELF CAST IT ALL ON! But Fall gets to me and, for now, I don’t see an end in sight until after the holidays.

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Is It Getting Hot in Here?

The next major event in my summer crafting was Tour de Fleece.  It’s a large event corresponding to the Tour de France where spinners set goals of either how much they want to accomplish or how much time they want to spin per day.  The general idea is to spin every day the cyclists ride and challenge ourselves during the Tour’s challenge day.

I knew well in advance exactly what I wanted to accomplish: the pound and a half of magenta Romney/Bamboo fiber I purchased at the Vienna Fiber Farmer’s market earlier in the year.  As a new spinner, it’s clearly a good idea to spin for a sweater, only three months after purchasing my wheel.  But I had the fiber and I knew I would want to knit a sweater for myself this fall.  However, this being the first year I was participating… and, you know, spinning at all, I was certain this was a very  ambitious goal.  I planned out every single day.  Sunday through Thursday every week, I would spin one ounce and Fridays and Saturdays, I would spin two ounces.  This would give me a few days to ply everything up at the end.

 

Before the Tour began, I started preparing.  I went through every inch of the fiber, picking out veggie matter and separating the fiber into one ounce balls, ready to spin.  I made up ziplock bags with four ounces each so I could be certain each bobbin had four ounces of singles.  I had a lot of traveling back and forth to my parent’s house planned during the Tour, so I wanted everything to be easy to grab and go and be able to pick up without wondering where I left off.

The night before the Tour began, we had the epic storm where seemingly everyone in Virginia, DC and Maryland lost power. I had planned to be at a kickoff party Saturday morning to get a head start, just in case my planning wasn’t good enough.  The last thing I wanted to do was spin wool without air conditioning, especially given the summer we’d been having.  Luckily, the event wasn’t cancelled, but instead was held on a balcony that remains sunless for the first half of the day.  I spun nearly eight ounces those first two days of the Tour… without air conditioning.

Luckily, the rest of my Tour de Fleece experience went quite well.  There were several days where I couldn’t spin, but every day I did, I spun so much, it made up for it.  It was this experience that taught me how much faster and thicker (as was my goal since I typically spin a lace weight two-ply) I can spin when I spin in a long-draw, woolen style.

 

I came out with an almost, maybe a little bit, consistent DK/Worsted (with some little chunky spots here and there) weight two-ply of 1288 yards.  Plenty for a simple cardigan, that I may have just cast on! I cannot wait for fall!

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Keeping Production from Overheating

I originally starting writing a post of epic proportions, laying out everything I’ve done and even just thought about doing over the last two months… it got a little ridiculous.  Instead, I will break it up into a little bit of a series so that I can not only tell you what I did, but also why I chose to tackle the project during the summer months.

One hundred degree weather doesn’t normally send people running for wool and hand knits.  Yet, in the past two months I have completed five projects, spun two pounds of wool, and currently have six more works in progress.  So, how is it that I’ve stayed so motivated?  Other knitters and spinners.

It all started with TheKnitGrllls “Stash Dash” running June 3rd to August 12th.  First, everyone participating set individual goals for how many grams of stash we would use over the course of the event, including any WIPs (works-in-progress).  Since this is not the first season of this event, I watched some group members post goals way beyond my comprehension.  After careful thought and consideration, based on the summer events to come, I set a goal of 1,800 grams.  I pulled out the yarn and fiber, photographed it all, and assigned it to projects and dates to start and complete each project, keeping in mind my progress in other projects to make sure I wasn’t being overly ambitious.

Stash Dash 2012 goal – 1,800 grams of knitting and spinning fun!

During the first few weeks, I completed my Shaelyn Shawl, Wingspan and a cotton dress for M.

The first project was obvious, as I had been working away at it for some time, but had simply run out of yarn at the very end.  I was knitting the Shaelyn Shawl out of Sweet Georgia Yarns in a very summery teal color that was heavy enough to keep me warm, while the shawl was at a loose enough gauge that it is still breezy enough to be worn during the summer.  I decided to pick up more Sweet Georgia in a lighter and truer blue colorway to work the final edge pattern repeat and castoff.  Not only was it a quick finish, but I’ve gotten some wear out of it at work, where the temperature constantly fluctuates throughout the day.

Shaelyn by Leila Raabe knit in Sweet Georgia Superwash Sport in the Tourmaline (main) colorway and the Saltwater (edging) colorway.

I chose the Wingspan next because I had been trying to find the perfect pattern to use some of my Mini Mochi yarn from Crystal Palace that I had been obsessing over.  Though it’s a single ply, it’s definitely very fluffy and warm and I only had two balls in the colorway, so I knew I wanted it to be a fairly small project.  Plus, I wanted it to be portable to knit at work and be a simple enough pattern to knit through very quickly.  I haven’t had the chance to wear it out yet, but it was such an enjoyable knit and the summer heat didn’t slow me down one bit.

Wingspan by maylin Tri’Coterie Designs in Crystal Palace Mini Mochi

As for the cotton dress… sigh.  I had been promising M, and my mother, a cotton dress for M for the summer. I had originally intended it to be finished for her to wear to Maryland Sheep and Wool in May.. but never got past the cast on.  I love the end result. I even taught myself to do a double crochet edging around the armholes and neckline.  I didn’t even really mind the feel of the cotton.  But my hands we screaming at my every time I knit on this dress for more than ten minutes a day.  Not a sitting, A DAY.  I had knit cotton before.. but it was Knit Picks Shine in a Pima cotton.  I know that Pima cotton is softer and just better, but I had found so many wonderful, bright and cheerful color combinations in the Sugar and Cream (dishcloth) cotton that I knew would be perfect for M.  The pluses: the pattern is lovely and I felt completely comfortable knitting this poolside as I knew this dress would also get wet and have sunscreen all over it whenever M would wear it.  Cotton a big plus for summer knitting… just maybe real garment cotton for big projects.

Elenka by Inna Aleksandrova

The rest of my summer knitting was planned out to the extreme.  List after list was made to ensure that everything could and would be completed on time. Of course I totally stayed on schedule…….

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Crafting Under The Influence… Of Illness

M gets sick… a lot. She’s two years old, so it’s expected. Unfortunately, every time she gets sick, I do too. We are, however, very different when we’re sick. I just want to lie around and do next to nothing, while she wants to be no where near a bed and instead gets rather hyperactive. So when I found that we needed to take a day off for her to go see the doctor, all the while nursing my own illness, I knew it would be rough trying to get some crafting in.

The morning went well, with few tantrums (from either of us) and a lot of snuggling in bed before her appointment. Just how a sick day should be spent. Then we packed up and went to the doctor’s appointment. Of course, I brought both of my drop spindles, more fiber than I could ever spin on a day spent completely by myself, and a simple cable cowl I’m knitting up. Though it was highly unlikely that I would touch any of these at the appointment, I did take the time to carefully choose projects to bring that would require little-to-no brain power. I just didn’t want to risk knitting a challenging project under a cloud of sickness… I needed to just relax and zone out.

It was a beautiful day, so when we arrive an hour early to the appointment, we decided to park, roll down all the windows and talk while I pre-drafted some fiber. After a surprising ten minutes of M sitting still, it was time to go inside. Fortunately, we were seen right away and didn’t have to go through the waiting room torture of M racing out of the room every time I tried to sit down.

After her appointment and lunch, I thought I would get the lazy knitting and/or spinning time I so desired during nap time. I kept waiting and waiting, trying to calm, getting frustrated, leaving the room, sitting in the room, rocking. I did everything. Almost anything to get my daughter to sleep so I could rest and relax. When it was finally clear that this was a giant waste of time for both of us, I gave up. She insisted on watching 101 Dalmatians and let me spin sitting next to her.

It was just what we needed, to revert back to how our morning was spent, lounging and doing very simple crafting. She watched the movie and me spinning and seemed equally fascinated when I relaxed and felt productive at the same time. Now that she’s been on antibiotics for two days, while I continue to get worse, here’s hoping that this weekend is full of relaxing, mindless crafting while lying in bed ignoring the two hour restriction on screen time.

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Um, Can I Knit Now???

As a young single mom, I feel like I am constantly struggling to find time for almost, well, everything.  I have only been at my current job for a few months, so I’m still proving myself there.  Which means getting to work early, working through lunches and bringing home work to do after M goes to bed.  Once proven, the workload is still so high, I’ll keep doing this to reduce stress during the actual workday.  By the time I can no longer physically stare at my computer before potentially spontaneously combusting, I should have been in bed hours earlier.  So when do I get to knit??

Now that M approaches two and a half years, she is more and more aware of what I am actually doing with my sticks and string.  However, with her new found knowledge of what making something is comes a curiosity so intense that she wants to rip the project out of my hands and “make” the lace shawl herself.  I typically only attempt to knit while she’s awake when she’s eating a snack and/or watching a movie so that I don’t draw too much attention to the knitting and don’t miss out on quality playtime that is so rare during the week.  But not much gets past her… so out came the old acrylic.  I found a yarn bowl I made in middle school that had scraps of old acrylic yarn that I could give her to play with and pretend to knit next to me.  This new technique has given me maybe 15 minutes of knitting a week.

So I drag my knitting everywhere.  Even the too-large-for-on-the-go-knitting projects make their way back and forth to work everyday (for my mythical lunch breaks), sit next to me in the car during our incredibly short commute (just in case we get stuck at a red light!), and are never more than a foot away from me throughout the day and night. I am so desperate to get a few stitches in that I have found myself knitting in my sleep! Really, falling completely asleep sitting up while knitting, only to wake up to a surprising amount of progress that I know I didn’t accomplish consciously.

Many knitters find a support group.  A knit night at a their local yarn shop. There are even a few virtual knit nights out there.  But do I join in on any of this fun?  Do I designate a time and a place to get some serious knitting done?  No, I do it the hard way.  I pray for traffic.

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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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