Archive for category Knitting Goals

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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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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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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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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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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