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Knit All The Things

There is but one mere day left on my hitting prohibition and I am already chomping at the bit to get back to it. Of course I seem to have developed a serious case of startitist wherein I want to knit all the things. Of course I still have the various WIPs floating around, luckily the desire to finish them is strong as well. Although, in reality, I will be a responsible person and not actually knit until my fingers are wasted (because two has been long enough) that passion to knit it all isn’t going away. So now the biggest thing I have to decide is just what exactly I want to work on first.

Here is a current list of most of my WIP’s

-Socks for the giant 1 (these are actually pretty close to being finished, I need to finish the second sock and then figure out how the heck to work the afterthought heels)

-Socks for the giant 2 (this is kind of stalled, they were abandoned in favor of socks 1 because I seem to be a sucker for stripey yarn…it’s a weakness, I admit it)

-Socks for me (these are a little over halfway done, the sticking point is that I am knitting a princess sole (aka I am purling the bottom to great the soft knitted fabric on the inside. I say this because I had no idea there was a legit name for it, go me for being all hip without knowing it) although the second sock is pretty far along already, and I have smaller feet than the giant)

-Hitchiker 2 (I cast this one on pretty much right after I finished the first one. This one is pretty special because it is out of my handspun.)

-Blanket 1-Nothing much to say it is a boring old blanket that I want to finish at some point in my life.

-Blanket 2- Ditto for this one

-Sweater for me- this one has been on the needles for-ev-a, okay more like June of last year (yikes)

The things I want to cast on at the moment:

-New to me lace shawl- I am not exactly sure what I am going to do in terms of a pattern, but I am feeling a lace kick coming on.

-This adorable little guy- because 1) why not, 2) I love gnomes and 3) he would be adorable for my desk at work

-A pair of Domo mittens for the giant- these were supposed to have been done back in actual winter, but frankly got forgotten about…oops.

-This funky thing (non Ravelry link)- Which is actually a pretty nifty solution for my drab wall clock

-This cowl- In part because I was graciously given it as a prize from the Stitch Addiction Podcast favorite artwork contest. (Side note, you should seriously go check out her podcast, it’s pretty awesome and Dean the cat/co-host  is so adorable)

-Christmas gifts- although with the new job I have no idea how much I will actually be able to get done.

So the big thing, I need your help. If you have any suggestions of what project I should do first as I make my way back into knitting please help me out by leaving a comment. Thanks in advance.

 

Easing Back In

The knitting hiatus is going to be lifted on Wednesday, (wahoo!) In the mean time I decided to try my hand at spinning (because technically I didn’t have to avoid it.) Well, it ended up being a very small amount of spinning, but at least it was something. Wanna see? Of course you do.

I took another Hanks in the Hood batt and remembered to take a before photo. It was later in the day so please excuse the craptastic photo. The colorway is called Timberline.

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This spinning was done on Beatrice, you all remember her? The adorable little Kromski Prelude, well she has yet to find her new home and I decided to give in and attempt to spin on her again. (Side note, I forgot how absolutely wonderful she is.)

Like I said above the progress was minimal, but progress none the less.

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I am thinking I want to try a three-ply of this, the colors seem a bit muddier so I am thinking a chain ply might not be worth it. Unfortunately my hands had a bit of trouble with all of it, so I don’t know when I will get back to it, but for now it was nice to try my hand(s) at easing back in to all the fiber arts goodness.

P.S. I want to say a profound and deep felt thank you for all the well wishes and good vibes for my first day. It went great and here’s hoping for another great day.

Time Limit

I don’t have much time to write, but that works out because I don’t have a lot to say. Today marks a bit of a change for casa de IK, I am starting back to work for the first time in almost 3 years, granted those three years were interspersed with attempts at school. I am feeling a bit nervous because, well 3 years is a long time to be out of the game. Luckily the first day should be pretty easy (just like the first day of school, and lord knows I have done that enough.) The whole job thing also means time limits in other ways, while I am not knitting right now (sob) I do plan on resuming next week (thankfully) although in a reduced capacity both because of the whole hands thing and now because of the whole job thing (which will probably work out for the best anyway.)  An additional time limit is going to be blogging, sadly I may have to slow down a bit at least while I attempt to readjust to a real schedule (oh college how you foster such poor habits.) I do think that it will be fine, I am hoping that because I will be limited I may become more focused (in general) which would be great. The whole working thing seems foreign thanks to the hiatus, but I know that it will be okay (the giant has taken many steps to reassure me) I just have to get through that first step.

I suppose there isn’t much else to say on the matter, beyond this, which works out because I should probably be up and moving soon. Thanks for sticking with me thus far, and let’s see where this new adventure leads.

 

Happy Friday!

Stir-Crazy

Hello Readers, I am Ira McKnitty-Pants reporting. It seems the blogger known as IntrovertedKnitter has gone MIA for the time being. Our sources tell us that the blogger, who was put on a knitting prohibition for a couple of weeks has been feeling the pain of withdrawal. It appears she may have developed a case of going stir-crazy and was last seen heading into her stash stating, that she was going to “organize the thing at last.” We have no solid confirmation as to the status of this organization at the moment, but there has appeared to be some updating going on via her Ravelry Stash page. Although updates appear to have slowed down in the last two days. We are unable to identify her location, although I am told that should you discover the blogger in the wild, to approach with caution and possibly not at all, as she seems to be a bit edgy and may not be able to handle direct contact. If contact is made, I am told plying the blogger with Mike and Ike’s candy can go a long way to ensuring a safe and pleasant meeting, although my sources are unconfirmed at this time.

We are looking into providing you with more information as we get it. Stay tuned for this developing story.

 

I’m, Ira McKnitty-Pants reporting.

 

Without

I have been without my knitting for about a week. Unfortunately there seems to be no real improvement in my hands, although I have another week and a few days left on the prohibition. In the mean time I have attempted to occupy myself through various means.

Most notably attending a movie with the giant yesterday. We decided to be so called “out-door cats” (aka I actually agreed to go out and deal with people) and go see the movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel. If you haven’t heard of it, check out that link and read the synopsis, then go see it. If you have heard of it, then go see it. Now I do have a slight confession to make, I am a big fan of the quirky, slightly odd/absurd and usually “independent” type of films, and although Wes Anderson is pretty famous in his own right, his movies seem to be a good introduction into that style. There is something to be said about an original story line and this movie does not disappoint. It was one of the first times in as many days that I found myself not itching to knit something, which was a tremendous relief.

Because let me tell you, the desire to knit is still pretty damn strong. I have found myself wanting to pick a WIP countless times each day, and I have had to force myself to sit back down when I would get up and go retrieve one. While I knew I enjoyed knitting, I never really picked up on, just how often I knit. If the times of desire are any indication I seem to be picking up the needles quite a bit. There is a tiny part of me that wonders why it seems to take me so long on projects, but then I realized just how many I currently have on the go and well I guess that was cleared up.

I think the biggest issue I have had is the fact that I was pretty close to finishing something when the no knitting rule went into effect. It’s a pair of socks for the giant, these are my first/second attempt at an afterthought heel (I am working on them at the same time as a pair for me, but they are closer to being finished.) I believe I used a knitty.com tutorial for the heel portion, but for some reason I end up with this weird part at the end of the heel, this is (I am assuming) because I Kitchener’d it close, so that line you can get with the toes, where you have that little “lip” type thing is present there. The first sock (both his and mine) seem to have that and while the Giant doesn’t seem to mind, I find it annoying. Anyone else ever have that? Any ideas for a fix?

Thanks in advance.

Cue the Sad Trombone

Because I have a special kind of luck,I am (as of today) on a forced knitter’s rest. I liken it to bed rest, except it applies to all the wonderfulness that is fiber arts. Why you make ask? Well because of the aforementioned luck and all I seem to have developed some possible nerve issues with my hands. (Head desk)

For a while on and off I would sometimes end up with a bit of a numbness or tingly feeling in my pinky and ring finger of my left hand (Continental Knitter, btw) this usually only happened after extended crafting periods, and usually only during car rides.Resting for a little while would alleviate the symptoms. In the more recent past the awkward feeling has happened a little more often and it become not only reserved  for the car. After a little less time the awkwardness seemed to be seeping into my right hand as well. Saturday evening I noticed a pinching feeling in my elbow and the tingly feeling came back to my fingers. I ended up not knitting that evening nor all of the next day, although I did attempt some spinning (with similar painful results) so I put the brakes on that as well and scheduled an appointment with my doctor. It took until today to get in, so that has been about four days without some knitting and (already I am bored.)  there hasn’t been an alleviation of the feeling, as opposed to before. (Side note I feel a little like I am a random occurring character on the show House, because I seem to be going in for the oddest stuff, at least for my age.)

A visit with him provided little in terms of official diagnosis, but I was given the “orders” to try a round of medicine and TWO weeks of no knitting (or other fiber arts/ things that require similar hand movements.) Now I realize in the grand scheme of things two weeks is only mild torture, really nothing and that if it turns out to alleviate some of the issues it is way better than having something serious crop up. Lucky for me the doctor mentioned the possibility of needing nerve testing done (after the two weeks I get to check back) so a tiny part of me is annoyed simply because the whole not knitting/ doing really anything else I find enjoyable for two weeks may not even fix the issue. The rest of me is so much more okay with the idea of trying the simple non-needle poking me in the arms stuff first.

I know that in reality most people on the planet can pass two weeks without knitting and still be sane (although to be fair they most likely don’t knit in the first place, but still.) I also know that you all will understand if the blog becomes a little less interesting (because honestly how many people are just here for the photos? No you don’t have to raise your hands.)  The biggest thing for me is how unproductive/bored I feel after only four days of not getting my fiber fix. I feel a little antsy when watching a show or movie with the giant because I am pretty much always knitting (or spinning) during it. I feel bored because knitting has pretty much always been there (for at least the last four years) to knock out some time. Mainly I just feel a little nervous that I will actually have to stop doing it all together (enter the dramatics) I just have enjoyed exploring and developing this part of myself and there is a nugget of fear that wonders what happens if this time off  doesn’t fix the issues?

Okay on a lighter note the doctor remarked on my way out, “Well I hope you aren’t in the middle of a project or anything..” It was all I could do not to burst out laughing…especially because I had a sock on the needles in my bag. I ended up just shaking my head and saying, “I am always in the middle of something.”

 

 

FFW:Feeble attempts

Earlier this week I dug in the fiber stash hoping for something a little different from my typical options. For the most part my fiber stash sticks to the cooler side of the color spectrum, I personally prefer these colors in other avenues and as such it translates to my fiber choices.

The desire to take a step outside the my color comfort zone can be attributed to some of the lovely ladies I get to hang out with. One spinner in particular always ends up picking gorgeous colors and combos that I wouldn’t be bold enough to try. After staring at hers longingly (again) earlier in the week I decided to be brave and take on the “most outrageous color combos” I had. So after a bit of stash diving I produced one of three batts I had snagged during the KP Cyber Monday sale.

A Hanks in the Hood batt, consisting of 100% colonial wool (approx 4 ounces) in colors ranging from deep burgundy through bright orange, up to a spring green and a deep dark blue before returning once again to the burgundy. Thanks to my phone’s SD card becoming possessed I do not have a photo of the lovely before hand, suffice it to say it was a pretty (wild) center pull batt.

I set to work the other day and spun until I thought my fingers might fall off. Side note, this was some pretty uncomfortable fiber, in that there were lots of nepps and some felting that occurred prior to my attempts at it. Although disappointed with the way it was turning out, I made the conscious choice to try to spin this with some loft, because I have noticed my previous attempts tend to be a bit….let’s say rope-like. This worked great until I started to zone out and defaulted to a thinner spin. Oops.

Plying came next and my feeble first attempt was a chain ply. Well I am barely passable on that with my first wheel (single treadle and all that) and I had yet to try it on the newest wheel. I made it through about five chain loops before I realized that between the newer wheel and the pain in my side (damn you post shingles pain!) it wasn’t going to work no matter how hard I tried. The cats were a bit amused at my mishap with the color scheme, so I suppose there is something to that.After I gave up, I opted instead for a good ole’ two ply. To achieve said two ply I had to wind it off into a ball first (center and outside ply ball, another handy trick I learned from the ladies.) The winding took forever (not really but enough that both cats grew disinterested and walked off around which time I was feeling a bit fatigued) I managed to get almost all of it off, but some how a big kink developed and because I was contemplating my role as Sisyphus with this fiber I didn’t notice it until it had snapped off.  I attempted a few different things to get it to rejoin with the rest, but as my annoyance grew I decided it was better to just say screw it and worry about it later. I had managed to make a mega ball with the majority of the fiber and so I set to work.

The rest went fine with little in terms of complaints, although the thick and thinness of the whole thing makes me remember my earlier days as a wee spinner. After it was all said in done I ended up producing this interesting little gem.

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The colors worked out in such away that I have an almost gradient rainbow effect, which is actually pretty cool considering all the mishaps. It’s pretty soft even prior to a quick bath (the world here is a bit gray making photos tricky to get outside of a specific time frame) but I am waiting for a final count on yardage. Like always I have no specific plan for this hand spun but it might get to live on my desk for a little while for pets, it depends on how it acts after the bath. I am still a little bitter considering all the issues, but it is growing on me.

Do you ever break out of your color comfort zone? Ever have a mishap or two and still been pleased with the changed results?

Under the Radar

Greetings, I am Ira McKnitty-Pants reporting on assignment.

It seems the Introverted Knitter has gone into hiding for a few days. This reporter is on the scene hoping to glean some information for all of you dear readers out there. I can safely say it seems that the sequestering of the Introverted Knitter can be attributed to and I quote here “overwhelming desire of the trees and their stupid pollen to cause havoc in the world.” It appears to this reporter that the Introverted Knitter is suffering from the seasonal evil known as allergies, but when pressed she responded that in addition to the “evil trees” there was the issue of recovery time needed. As I spoke with her more, this reporter has discovered that our very own IK has just finished a weekend of hosting a baby shower and that in combination with the allergies and post shingle pain has forced her into hiding.

It does seem as though the party went well, but there were mutterings of extended periods of small talk and something concerning low batteries. This reporter is willing to conclude that the electronic devices of the Introverted Knitter must be low on battery life. Ahem, I have been just given a statement that appears to signify that I am a bit of ding bat and that the “low battery” talk was pertaining to the previously mentioned “introvert battery.”

There is no word on progress concerning her knitted items, although sources close to her claim that she seems to be making some progress on the variety of WIPS. As this reporter knows the projects of a fatigued knitter are often slow going,  I decided to err on the side of professionalism and not mention this to the Introverted Knitter when we spoke. It appears the she is expected to make a full recovery soon. As always stay tuned for continued monitoring of situation as I, Ira McKnitty-Pants stick around for updates.

FFN:Don’t forget your towel

Thanks to the wonderful Kate over at Stitch Addiction podcast I broke down and purchased my first pay for pattern, Hitchhiker by Martina Behm (Fun story, I totally spelled her name right on the first try, yay me.) I cast on last week and knit almost exclusively on it until victory was mine.

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I ended up using some Knit Picks Stroll Multi in the sorbet colorway. I had purchased this back in 2011/2012 and it’s been kicking around the stash since I finished a pair of socks out in Chicago. The yarn is a mix of green, pink and browns, which look rather pretty in the ball, but knit up create horrible pooling issues that just made me frustrated. So the yarn sat hanging out in the stash awaiting its fate. Because one of my goals is to knit from stash and I wasn’t sure how well I would understand the pattern (by the way, it’s not complicated) I picked up the three (ish) balls I had of the stuff and set to work.

The yarn still ended up pooling and I did notice a few slubby parts that seem to be characteristic of some of KP’s yarns. But I did manage to get all 42 teeth/points which I kind felt was necessary, thanks in part to the fact that the giant is a big fan of the Hitchhiker series. My biggest “complaint” is that the thing is huge, to the point that decent photos were difficult to get, and I look a little ridiculous with wearing it.

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I definitely want to knit more of these, although I might try a less vivid color palette, because as it stands I have only a few things I would pair this with.

Lastly as a bonus for sticking around this long I have another FFN item.

20140319_105910Another pair of bootees from the Saartje’s bootee pattern. I whipped these up Tuesday night for my newest niece. I had just enough of the KP Felici Stream Bed to eek these out, which go adorably well with the hat and cardigan that I had previously knit. The main mods I did were to short row one side of the top before working around to the side for the first strap. This created a button-hole that worked out perfectly for the strap which I stuck the button onto instead. The pair was easy, fun and pretty darn near instant gratification, which is helpful considering they had to be wrapped up with the rest of the gifts last night.

 

 

 

FFW: Contrasts and Complements

I managed to finish spinning the remainder of some fiber I had been working on prior to getting Gertie (did I mention I thought of name for the newer wheel? Gertrude, Gertie for short.) The yarn was one of my first attempts at 3 ply which ended up working out great, minus the extra bit of singles. I had put it in my mind to wait until the newer wheel arrived to finish the yarn and after making sure I felt comfortable enough I made a point to spin the remaining dark heathered charcoal I had. I once again set out to make a 3 ply and decided to split the newer singles.

It ended up going pretty well in my opinion, although I know I under plied it a bit. That seems to be the biggest learning curve with the newer wheel, I am thinking it’s because I have to consciously thinking about leading with my left foot.

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Now prior to writing this post I took a photo with the original skein and had the sickening realization that I must have messed up and plied the second skein wrong. It wasn’t just a little darker, no it seemed as if I had messed up and had in fact used the darker (non gradient fiber) as two of the three plies, where as with the first one it appears I did the reversal. Such a rookie mistake.20140319_094016

As you can obviously tell I decided to be okay with and post the photos showing my mistake. I even made a point to link to the first yarn so my secret wouldn’t be kept anyway. Of course having linked to the previous post I gave it a quick read through to make sure I had all the info accurately and then I see it written as plain as anything else.

“The result was better than I hoped. It is right around 180 yards which is quite shy for a pair of socks, but I think I can managed another spin with the remaining Full Circle and hopefully get enough to manage with contrasting cuffs, heels, and toes.”

Guys? I had totally planned this “mistake.” It appears past self and future self were totally in cahoots and present self was just a little tardy to the party.

 

Specs:
62 yards of 3 ply yarn

2 plies of Knitpicks Full Circle roving

1 ply of the gradient fiber

 

Stashed

So I decided to be brave this past weekend and cross a big thing off of my list of New Year’s “Goals”, I aired and organized my stash. I am even going to be brave and show it here on the blog. Note only one of the stash guardians can be seen here, the other was sulking because I wasn’t willing to give up the BFL hand spun.

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Now this picture, while pretty crappy, does show some significant things. One being a large variety of white space available on the bed (I promise it is there under the giant cat.) Considering last year, not everything fit on the bed, I am pretty excited by this progress. A large contributor to the space is the fact that I donated over half of my cotton/acrylic section. Another contributor is the fact that I seem to have broken free of the desire to hold on to yarn for the sake of holding on to it. For a couple of years I had been purchasing things that were limited edition colorways (Knit picks I am looking at you) and because of this I never felt like I could use the yarn because this was all there was, well thankfully I have managed to try out other yarns that (perhaps unsurprisingly) I like better. Which is to say I have come to realize that “one of a kind” yarns doesn’t mean I won’t find something similar, or better. Acknowledging this and accepting it haven’t been the easiest, I am working against a double whammy of hoarding like tendencies from my parents, which makes it hard to part with things, because “you never know when you might need it.”

The second significant thing is that I have a lot of hand spun. I mean I knew there was hand spun. I am a spinner and logic would dictate there would be some hand spun floating around in the stash. I even have a neatly labeled plastic tub for it, but the sheer amount is what surprised me. Luckily one of my goals this year is to knit at least three things with hand spun, so hopefully I can make some progress there.  The big things are figuring out patterns and not falling for the whole “can’t use because it is “one of a kind” thing.”

The last thing is the evolution of the stash. When I first started out as a knitter (again) I thought that I was allergic to wool. I have pretty sensitive skin in general which means I react to a whole mess of things and often find myself armed with some benadryl to knock out the itchiness. When I tried wool I was buying it a big box store, and because I was inexperienced (read cheap) I often would pick up the cheapest and scratchiest wool out there. Attempting to knit with such coarse wool wound up causing me to develop itchiness and I chalked it up to sensitivity/allergies and not to the fact that I was using crappy wool yarn. (Don’t get me wrong I know that it isn’t the worst thing in the world, and I am sure there are far scratchier items out there, those stainless steel scrubby things you can get for dish washing come to mind.) I chanced it when I took off spinning, managing to try out some softer wool and lo and behold the scratchiness wasn’t there. So that was the catalyst for the evolution of the stash. I mainly stuck with acrylic/wool blends, but sock knitting ushered in a new wave of soft wool and a new appreciation for the mystical fiber known as merino.

Now my stash has not only shifted pretty heavily to the wool/wool blend route, it has also changed in terms of weights. Starting out I knit mainly worsted weight. Which was fine, but again thanks to sock knitting, I happened upon fingering weight yarn and suddenly I found my stash yarn weight shrinking. Even now the vast majority seems to be in that lighter stuff range (even most of the remaining cotton/acrylic set is in the fingering to dk weight.)

So there you have it a break down of the yarn that inhabits my stash. How about you? Do you stash, if so do you ever “flash” your stash? Are there yarns you don’t think you can ever knit with? Things you are ever surprised you hold on to? How has your stash changed in the years since you started knitting?

Tempting my Palette with a long term project

I often hear knitters talk about instant gratification projects. Or sometimes they even call them palette cleansers. These are projects that can be completed relatively quickly. Think, fingerless mitts, or a chunky hat, or dish cloths. If you wait until an upcoming holiday these projects are talked about in terms of stash busting and quick and easy. Now there is nothing wrong with this practice, I have in fact been participating the past month or so (baby knits anyone?) The thing with the palette cleansers is that while I like them on occasion I often end up rebounding with something overtly complicated, or excessively long-term. Take for instance my latest project:

I have decided to be stupid, brave and cast on a mind numblingly simple garter stitch blanket, and I have further decided to torture myself, be productive and use up some of my stash by using my random assortment of Knit Picks Palette yarn. The pattern that I am using, sort of, is the one I used last time I decided to go off the deep end, use this yarn, Modern Log Cabin by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne. Some of you may remember when I foolishly lovingly started this blanket last year because I like to push myself to the edge and see if I snap, I thought it would make a good gift for my brother and his soon to be wife for their wedding. Well because I seem to have developed amensia, enjoyed the FO so much, have a random assortment of colors of this yarn and really not much else to do while I deal with the shingles pain I decided to cast on another one. I have no other explanation than the fact that I went through my stash the other night and discovered the random assortment  of colorsand decided on a whim to start one. Beware late night stash tossing…let me be a warning for you.

The blanket is a rather free form based on the idea of the log cabin blanket, but not with any set sizes or rows. I have been working on it since later Thursday night of this past week, and managed to knock out quite a few sections. The entire thing is still pretty small and I don’t expect to be done any time soon, my goal is to use up all the palette in my stash, which is actually more than I thought. I do have some left over from my brother’s blanket and have been incorporating them as needed. The blanket will not be anywhere near as matchy match as the first one, but I do think the colors can go well enough to work.

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So far the progress has been fine, I started with the section in the lower right hand corner and have been building off of that ever since. Ever color, save for that lower right one, can be repeated and I still have quite a few other colors left, so hopefully by changing it up I don’t get too bored with it.

Of course by taking a photo I had to have one of the stash guardians out to inspect it. 20140310_142025

It seems that it has met his approval for now, but I am sure I will have to submit it a few more times for verification.

 

So how about you? Any epic projects you are taking on recently? Ever knit something twice, even though you swore you wouldn’t do it again? Think I might be a wee bit nuts for trying something like this again? Ever experience the rebound effect of instant gratification? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Cotton Anniversary

Today marks two years for this blog. 530 days since I sat back and decided to start this thing. I was on the verge of quitting grad school and struggling to process what it meant to be leaving behind a dream/goal and brave the world outside the ivory tower. Last year at this time I was writing about how the blog has been there, an ever-present component of my life. I wrote about my life as a knitter, spinner and a writer.

In the past year I have experienced as much change (or more) than the previous two years combined. Sure for the first time since getting married we didn’t pack everything up and head out to a new city. I experienced my first car accident, and my first experience with shingles. I started a brand new program, switched my major and then had to step down. I braved attending a new knitting/spinning group and discovered that I don’t completely suck at making friends. I attended my first Sheep and Wool festival and even bought a new wheel. I blogged about epic knitting projects and trying my hand at tour de fleece. I have gone on (and on) about how I want to be this, or do that with my life.

But the most important part has been the fact that there has been responses. You have decided to follow my blog, to like a post and taken the time to comment on something I wrote. I am pretty bad at responding directly to comments, but rest assured I read them and reflect on them and am thankful that you all are willing to write them.

I appreciate each and every one of you, thank you for giving me the courage to keep at this. I can never fully express how amazing it is to know that other people are willing to take some time out of their busy schedule and read what I wrote. So thank you, thank you, thank you. Here’s to many more blogging years.

 

FFW:Lupine

It’s another cold day here in my little corner of the world. We received more snow this past weekend, which means the view from my window is pretty much the same it’s been for the last few months. Which is to say, devoid of color.

Luckily as a fiber enthusiast I have color at my disposal and I get to share the latest results with you. The latest fresh from the wheel product is some lovely and oh so wonderful BFL. The fiber was purchased from my lys a while ago, say within the last six months. It is Mountain Colors (inc)  100% BFL Top, in the colorway Lupine. Which really translates to jewel tones of blues, some purples and a forest like green. A lovely and squishy concoction that has left me battling to prevent the cats from taking the fiber and running, or more likely laying directly on the fiber and burying their noses in it.

In terms of spinning I made a point of just throwing caution to the wind and spinning it however it worked out. A new wheel, a new batch of fiber and a new me. Okay well, that worked for about 1/2 the fiber and then I realized with a small bit of panic that I needed to figure out what the heck I was going to do. My first thought was chain plying the thing, but the color repeats were not consistent enough for me to feel like it would be worth it. Secondly I am not the greatest at chain plying on my old wheel (Beatrice) and trying to attempt it on the new wheel would probably result in me losing my mind and weeping quietly in the corner. After accepting my lack of skill in that department I considered a simple 2 ply. Five minutes later that was abandoned when I realized that I apparently wanted to try my hand at another 3 ply.

Idea firmly planted in my mind I set to work spinning the remaining fiber. Because I am me, I had to combine the first 2/3 on one bobbin and ended up doing the last 1/3 on an additional bobbin, after waiting for the singles to rest, this is where it gets good, I decided to take the singles off the bobbins and wind them into balls for plying. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with that, in fact it is probably a pretty smart idea. Well smart if I weren’t trying to cut corners, which I was and I did. So, of course, instead of dividing the bobbin with the 2/3 of fiber into two separate balls, I decided to be oh-so-”smart” and just make the one ball, because as I reasoned, I could just ply from the outside and the inside at the same time. Which, to be fair, I have done before (once) and it worked. To be fair (again?) I was working on a 2 ply NOT a 3 ply that time. I also wasn’t battling a cat who is as obsessed interested in BFL fiber as I am.

Suffice it to say chaos ensued and I ended up breaking down and  dividing the larger plying ball into two equal parts. Suddenly life got a lot simpler, (imagine that) and I was able to finish my spinning with little complication. While I know that cutting corners wasn’t the smartest thing to do (is it ever?) I am still extremely happy with the resulting yarn.

208 (ish) yards of beautiful BFL.

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Of course after the photos were taken this happened.

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Writing and Self Esteem

I don’t often talk about my writing on here, I suppose even less so when I started school. The truth is for almost a year I tried my hand at being a writer. Okay in all honesty that isn’t really the truth, I actually was trying to try to be a writer. By which I mean I would think about what it meant to be a writer, how I would be as a writer and dabbling here and there with writing, without ever fully  committing to it. Oh sure, I was able to complete two NaNoWriMo challenges (one being the camp version) in the “year of writing” they were different stories, and while I made those goals I never did much of anything with them afterwards. I have a few short stories that are pretty much half-finished. I have notebooks full of ideas of where to go with those NaNoWriMo challenges. I bought books on the subject matter, researched blogs, articles and read about other authors experiences. I debated the pros and cons of traditional publishing. I even shared a few of my writings with family and friends.

But at the end of the day I never felt like a writer. Sure I have mastered the love of coffee, I excel in my ability to wear p.j.’s or comfy clothes and I have a pad of paper and a pen near my side of the bed, should inspiration strike. I don’t know what I was expecting when it came to writing, if I thought that I would mysteriously be bitten by this bug to crank out a novel in a few months, or if I thought that my writing would be so brilliant (in the first draft even) that I wouldn’t have to worry about gaining an agent or landing a contract. One thing is for certain at the end of the day I would either have written something or not, but that didn’t seem to matter to me. I could knock out 1650 words and feel like I was an absolute failure. If I didn’t write anything that day (which became the norm) then I confirmed in my mind that I was a failure. I made excuses and felt like I didn’t deserve to be a writer, that I didn’t have what it takes to produce something that people would actually want to read. I was able to justify my lack of progress, because let’s face it I had never been published, I had never been paid, hell for a long while I had never even shared my work with someone.

When I did brave the chance to share my work with someone I quickly excused their compliments or praises. I was nervous to share anything with anyone, (aside from the limited pieces I have shared on the blog) and so I chose my friends and family carefully. The giant was privy to a lot of work and he was/is encouraging with it all. He tells me that he likes the piece, telling me I am a good writer and that I should keep at it. My best friend got to see quite a few pieces as well, as an English Major and one of the absolutely smartest people I know, I value her opinion very highly. She would read it and provide me with great feedback, also telling me that my writing was good. I even shared a bit with my sister-in-law, who has been by far the biggest cheerleader and advocate for my writing ever.

Despite these three people, who I love, respect and admire I always took their praise with skepticism. Call me cynical, but I always feel like they would lie to spare my feelings. Now I will admit that for the most part I have not actually experienced this in my life (hello critical adults of my childhood) but I still feel hesitant to accept their encouragement. I know most of this probably has to do with the tiny amount of self-esteem I seem to have, but at the end of the day it doesn’t seem to make a big difference.

Yesterday I was reading my blog feed (as I usually do) and came across this piece. Now I have read Kristin Lamb’s blog for almost a year and she has some pretty solid advice when it comes to writing and life in general. For some reason this piece in particular caught my attention. As I read I realized that I am guilty of this exact problem. That self-esteem issue from above? Yeah that usually translates to the rest of my life as well. As I made my way through that piece, nodding along at parts and hanging my head in shame at others I realized that a lot of the time I make a point to talk negative.

I was raised with the idea that in order to be seen as mature and adult like, being humble was key. There was no sense in trying to show off, because at the end of the day it just made you look like a show off. I also learned, quickly, that if you don’t “shine” you don’t get called on, you aren’t forced to interact with as many people and really you pretty much get left alone.

Somewhere along the way I started to take that humility and downplaying of my skills to heart. I internalized those negatives and started believing them so much that even now I have a hard time accepting praise on things. Even when it is on something I know that I did well (knitting for instance) I feel all squirmy when I am complimented on my work.

Okay all of this is a long way of saying I have come to realize that this negative self talk has to stop. “They” say admitting it is the first step, so here I am admitting it. I will try to move forward. If nothing else I just wanted to say to anyone else who might be reading this, you are not alone. Everyone, even those seemingly confident people have doubts, the difference is if and how you move forward. And I am going to take those first steps forward.

 

FFN: Among the Stars Socks

It’s that time again, I finally have an FO to share with you. After having the parade of baby items a few weeks ago I started to feel like I was a crazy slow knitter.

The reality is the giant just has large feet. The FO is a pair of socks for him, my first of seven this year as part of New Year resolutions/goals thing. I figured seven would be a week’s worth of socks, and I wouldn’t (theoretically) drive myself mad attempting to hit that goal. So far I took a bit longer than I would have hoped on the very first pair, which seemingly does not bode well for the remaining six, but I am hoping when I am not attempting to “knit all the baby things” that I should be back on track.

Anyway the socks are a simple 3×1 knit, purl ribbing down the leg and across the top of the foot. I first knit this for the giant during the hectic socks for Christmas, and he made mention of them being extra comfy. I decided to try it again, considering he made such a point to say something about it. Of course he tells me last night that he likes them just as much as the plain vanilla pairs I make, so I don’t know.  The only thing about the ribbing is that it takes me slightly longer to knock them out, but that might just be in my head.

20140226_225643The yarn was a first for me, Knit Picks Stroll Hand-painted, the colorway is called Constellation. I really liked the colors when I saw them on sale last Cyber Monday, enough that I picked up two skeins of this color. I usually check Ravelry to see what other’s come up with before I decide on a colorway, and this one was no exception. Unfortunately with this pair there was a lot of pooling in the cuff ribbing and down the leg, it seemed to minimize a bit when I hit the foot, but it still bugs me a bit. Luckily the giant actually likes the effect, which is a relief.  Though I doubt he would complain about much when it comes to hand knit socks. The only real request he has ever made is no hot pink (and I think I might have even gotten him to say that a tiny bit would be fine as long as the rest wasn’t even close.) The man loves hand knit socks.

Anyway back to the yarn, it is a 75% merino with 25% nylon. I had purchased the yarn (two skeins of this and one in Pony Ride colorway) in part because it was on sale, about half (or less) off its regular price, and in part because I was thinking it might be a nice substitute for Malabrigo (which of course I failed to realize doesn’t have nylon in it, until after I bought this stuff.) I will say as far as sock yarn goes it seems to be a nice and very affordable access point to some merino blends. The colors are nice, and I feel like the socks should be able to do their job without falling apart right away (always a bonus.) While I wouldn’t call it a substitute for Malabrigo, it is still something I might consider buying again.

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The photos are more than a little blurry/crap because I was a fool and waited until bed time to remember to take photos. So please bear with me on that. The blue is a bit brighter in person, and as you can kind of see on the leg of his right foot, the pooling wraps around the cuff and leg, I promise it is more noticeable in person and I am not just some overcritical ranting person (well at least about that.)

 

 

Practice Fiber

When I first got my new wheel (last week) I was able to bring it to a local knitting/spinning group and have the lovely ladies check it over. They helped me feel confident enough to try spinning on it, which may or may not have happened as quickly (or ever) if it wasn’t for them. Even more fortunate was the fact that one of the woman in particular offered to give me some fiber to practice with. I am new enough to spinning that the concept of giving fiber freely makes me feel a little awkward, I was like that as a knitter, I felt like I had so little that the concept of giving it away was almost painful.

Now of course (at least with yarn) I am completely okay with handing stuff over, take for instance my mother in law, she scored basically all of my acrylic (she makes scarves for charity) and a fair amount of bamboo/cotton blends that I was never going to work with. So I am hopeful that at some point I will be as free with my fiber as I want to be with my yarn.

Anyway, she gave me a fistful of this wonderfully fluffy fiber, I believe it is a Jacob’s wool, which I had never had a chance to try before. From what I can gather with my limited spinning experience it was a long-staple, and provided a bit of tackiness that made me think a bit of my beloved BFL. I began spinning after a little bit of prodding, and was told to not expect it to be super smooth (there was still some VM, and a few nepps here and there) but free fiber is free fiber and it was still really fun to work with. I managed to spin about half of the handful within a day or two and the second one before Saturday. I did a very basic two ply and because I decided to try something slightly different (I wound them into balls  instead of just using my bobbins) and as such was able to use every last bit up (which normally never happens when I two ply.) I gave the wool a bath, and as expected the water was a little dirty (it was a very sheepy wool, although the cats seemed to ignore it for the most part, until it was hanging to dry, then they started to meow incessantly at the smell coming from the bathroom) and waited to see what would happen. I had been afraid that I had under plied the singles and was told to give it a good thwack to help fluff it up, I did and it did. I have no real idea on the yardage, but before the bath it was around 75 yards.

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It is still pretty scratchy (or rustic) but it’s quite fluffy and I think not too shabby for a first attempt on the wheel.

 

Random Notes from a Snowy Monday

There is little by way of coherent and logical processing going on here and so I decided to just try to go with it in terms of posting. So today’s blog shall be random notes from a snowy Monday.

1. I am enjoying my new wheel immensely, I have spun all the “crap” fiber I was given and have started on a beautiful jewel-toned four ounces of, be still my heart, BFL that seems like it might last forever.  This might have something to do with the fact that I seem to be defaulting to a rather thin single.

2. I spent the majority of my weekend spinning, which has left me a bit sore this morning, a fun fact I realized when…

3. I was awoken by a knock on the door by the apartment maintenance guy. He was there to fix our oven, which  blew a “fuse” this past weekend.

4. I am actually surprised at the sheer amount of baking the giant usually does on the weekend. He’s been improving his mad skills for last few months and I am willing to admit that it has become somewhat routine to have the smell of baking bread wafting around the apartment. Luckily the oven is now fixed.

5. I am having a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich for lunch. I am not usually a fan of peanut butter, but when I have a PB&J I have to have the peanut butter on both pieces of bread. Which always makes me shake my head.

6. I am still working on a pair of socks for the giant that I cast on back in January, I think the spree of baby knitting interfered with my ability to knock out socks.

7. My absolute dream job would to be a (paid) writer, preferably fiction, to that end I finally submitted some writing (creative non-fiction) to two journals. I won’t hear back from them for at least three months (if ever.) This has felt like a real step to becoming a published (and paid) writer.

8. I was more nervous about submitting my work than I was on my wedding day.

 

 

FFN: Woodsy Baby Hat

So as promised I am here to show the latest FO. This hat was made to go with the adorable little cardigan I showed off previously, same yarn, (KP Felici Sport, Streambed) with the Woodsy Baby Hat pattern. The pattern is a straight forward baby hat, with a fun little tie closure at the top, perfect for a quick gift.

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I made no mods to the hat, but if I were to do it again I might knit a bit more on the top, and try a different method for making the tie. The tie was a simple i-cord, I made a point of making it as long as one color section of the yarn and while I think it looks good, it is a bit bulky for my tastes.

Overall I am pleased with the hat and how well it plays with the little sweater, it should be a fine gift to welcome my newest niece into the world.

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In other news the new wheel and I are still getting acquainted. I was fortunate that I could bring it to a local meet up last night and the lovely ladies there, helped me not only test it to make sure I didn’t completely fail in putting it together, but also encouraged me to actually use it. I am doing better in terms of treadling, as long as I don’t start to think about it (which was how I was with Beatrice in the beginning) I do find myself putting more weight on my right foot which makes sense, considering it’s what I use for the Prelude. Hopefully the learning curve stays this easy, although plying should be an interesting go.

Happy Thursday.

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