Knitting

JULY 17 – Yarn Love

This challenge was originally written for February, and this topic is meant for the 14th. That’s right, Valentine’s Day. Isn’t that clever?

Anyway, how do I properly express my love for yarn? I’ve said before that I’m a bit of a yarn snob, so I can’t say that I love all yarn. There are definitely some yarns that I turn my nose up to. But I think that it’s fair to say that, in general, I most certainly have a deep love for yarn.

One of my favorite parts of the house is my office, and that is almost entirely because of my yarn shelf. I first bought my yarn shelf when I was living back at our apartment, and I was beyond excited about it. I had moved into the apartment with Michael, who had already been living there for a couple years, and the apartment felt very much like his. When we added the yarn shelf, it finally began to feel like it was my apartment, too.

Now, with the office, my yarn shelf most definitely identifies that room as mine.

I went through all the yarn on my shelf recently, reorganizing it and considering what projects I could make with all of it. I’d been having a bad day, and being able to go through all my lovely yarn was incredibly therapeutic. That’s one of the best things about yarn – all the possibility it can present.

Knitting

JULY 16 – Selfie

I’m not doing a selfie for this blog.

This is the problem with doing an Instagram based word prompt. All the prompts I’ve been doing are meant to be accompanied by a picture. That’s easy enough to circumvent for most topics, but not this one.

I shall try to carry on, though.

Lately, I’ve been attempting to start a project on my knitting Instagram in which I take a picture of myself every day with my scrappy blanket. Not a selfie, just a photo of me holding up the blanket. The goal of this would be to have all of those photos and smash them together when the blanket is finished in what is essentially a time lapse.

I started the story highlight in which these photos are posted at the beginning of the year. I was just doing pictures of the blanket itself, not with me holding it. But then we started the process of moving, and the photos were all super inconsistent, and (more significantly) I just generally forgot or didn’t feel like taking photos of the blanket. So it’s not the most consistent project to begin with, but I was hoping this new plan would provide a bit more motivation.

That hasn’t been the case so far. I posted the first picture of me holding the blanket on the 11th. I haven’t done another one since. I know that I just need to get into the habit of doing it every day and then it’ll be easy, but I’m still working on building that habit.

Knitting

JULY 13-15 – Oldest Stash, Travel Projects, Progress

Oldest Stash

I wrote about it earlier this month (or maybe in June? These days really blur together for me), but for the longest time my oldest stash was a bit of purple dyed alpaca that I couldn’t decide on a project for. I’ve finally cast on some mitts in that yarn (still just one more mitt to go), so I’m not sure that counts as stash anymore.

If I’m remembering correctly, then, the oldest stash I have as of now is a bit of corriedale from Bumblebee Acres Farm (the same place I get my advent calendars).

And by “a bit” I mean 6 skeins of fingering weight yarn. That’s at least 2,500 yards, folks. That’s a lot.

I purchased this yarn with the intention of making this super long cardigan as my first sweater. At the time, I was on a kick with leggings and I just wanted something that would come down and cover my butt and my front bits. I was having a hell of a time finding anything reasonably priced that could serve well over my leggings. So, you know, I thought I’d spend $160 to make a sweater. That seemed reasonably priced.

All joking aside, though, I was trying to finally start a sweater, and the cardigan was where my motivation lay.

Fast forward two years, and I’ve been struggling to find a new project for that yarn for ages. Before I knit the sweater, I ended up knitting a shawl out of the same yarn in a different colorway. I didn’t find it pleasant to work with at all, and it was honestly a little scratchy compared to the loveliness of the merino I was used to working with at this point. I knew there was no way in hell I was going to be able to knit a 6-skein sweater out of it.

I’ve since been holding onto the yarn, looking up large projects now and then that might do for this type of yarn. So far, I think I’m set on a lacy stole pattern that I’ll just have to increase the size of slightly in order to use up more of my yarn.

Either that, or maybe I’ll finally just let it go and put it on the “free and for sale” section of Ravelry.

Travel Projects

I actually really need to cast on a travel project, as Michael and I are going to Chicago soon. While technically the mitts could be something that I work on on the train (we always take the train because driving in Chicago is the worst), I find them just a little too fiddly. There’s not really a pattern of any kind, but the yarn is a little bit lacy and it can be difficult to make it do exactly what I want.

I think what I’m going to cast on is a pair of vanilla socks. I’ve got some red, green, and white sparkly yarn that Taylor gave me that I’ve been meaning to cast on. I was going to save it for a Christmas Eve cast on, but I sure as heck wouldn’t have time to wear them before the Christmas season has ended (not that that has stopped me before).

I wanted to knit them into a pattern for a while, but thinking about the yarn, which is micro-striped, I think they’ll make a really cute pair of vanilla socks.

And it really has to be vanilla socks if I’m going to work on them on the train. I get motion sickness so easily, any amount of looking down, trying to read a pattern, or counting stitches can make me very nauseated. And that’s not a fun way to start a trip.

Progress

I’ve made progress on my wedding shawl! Well, on the pattern at least.

I really wanted to have a few iconic wintery/Christmasy images in the shawl, but I couldn’t for the life of me find a lace pattern I liked for snowflakes or eight-point stars (commonly thought of as poinsettias), so I decided to make my own.

I know now why no one has a lace pattern for snowflakes or eight-point stars.

Designing patterns for these sorts of things in colorwork, which I’ve done many times before, is very easy. You just grab a bit of graph paper or open up excel, and it’s as simple as creating a chart. When you knit it up, it’ll pretty much look exactly like the pattern you’ve created in your blocks. Not so with lace knitting. Not so at all.

I started by charting out snowflake patterns in excel, then transferred it into a program online, putting in a yarn over and decrease anywhere there was a block filled in on my spreadsheet. That plan fell apart very quickly, though, as you can’t have one entire row of yarn overs with “knit 20 together” at the end when you want to do a line straight across for the middle of the snowflake.

After I figured that out, I made a few adjustments and rolled on. The first attempt which I actually started swatching up was too complicated. You need more rows than you think you do between your yarn overs, or they just start blending together. I finally managed to create a basic enough shape that I think it’ll turn out quite well in practice. I messed up the swatch, though, so I still have a lot of knitting to go.

Hopefully I’ll have all the swatching done before the end of the month, because I really need to get going on this shawl. I can only tolerate so many rows of lace a day, and I don’t want to run out of time before the wedding!

Knitting

JULY 10-12 – Stripes, Where I Craft, Tools

Stripes

I have a complicated relationship with stripes. On the one hand, I love the way they look. I love knitting them because it adds a touch of variety every time you change colors, which keeps me engaged in the craft (this is part of what I love so much about my scrappy blanket).

On the other hand, knitting stripes often involves the hated weaving in ends. Now, with my scrappy blanket, I’m using magic knots and it’s a “scrappy” blanket, so it makes perfect sense to have the stripes start in the middle of rows and switch at random places. But on a shawl or a pair of socks or a garment, you usually want it to look a bit nicer. That means switching yarn at the end of a row. That means have extra ends to weave in.

Several years ago I did a particularly impressive stripey project – I knit myself a Doctor Who scarf. For those of you who don’t know, the Doctor Who scarf is a massive ten foot (at least) long project that stripes it’s yarn very randomly. It’s based on a scarf worn by the 4th Doctor (if you don’t know the show this doesn’t make sense to you, and honestly it’s too complicated to explain). It’s super iconic, and it took me a month to make. And like an idiot, I didn’t weave my ends in as I went during that month. Oh no. I ended up spending several hours at the end weaving in ALL of them. I remember it had well over a hundred strands to weave in. You can’t even imagine the horror. You cant even imagine.

I do have to say, the Flora Sol that I’m working on now has stripes, and I love everything about them. The pattern is written so that the yarn for the stripes is carried up the side, so there’s no extra ends to weave in! It’s got the best of both worlds, and I’m in love with it.

Where I Craft

I don’t have any one designated crafting location, I just pick up my needles whenever I have the chance.

I do have an office/craft room where you’d think I’d spend most of my crafting time. It’s where my yarn shelf is, and all my knitting books and supplies, so if I ever need anything it’s usually in this room. But there’s not really any comfy seating in the office, just a computer chair. I’d love to get a cozy love-seat or even just an armchair, but that will have to come at another time.

The couch is a pretty common place for me to craft. At home, Michael and I watch a lot of movies, YouTube, and Netflix in the living room in front of our 90″ projector screen. That’s prime knitting time, let me tell you.

A more unusual location that I’m very much looking forward to knitting in is Disney World. Even though I’ve been planning our trip down to the minute (that’s only a slight exaggeration), it’s inevitable that there will be some kind of waiting involved. Whether that’s waiting for shows to start, waiting for food, or waiting in lines, there’s always waiting at Disney. And that’s the perfect place to break out a sock or other small project, which I will definitely be bringing along with me!

Tools

The tools of my trade are pretty basic at their core. Just some knitting needles or a crochet hook. But it’s really incredible just how many of these items, and others, that you find that you need as a crafter.

In theory, all I should need to knit is a pair of needles and some yarn, right? But the thing is that you need the right size needle, so inevitably you end up with a massive collection of them. Then you also need a pair of scissors, a tapestry needle, maybe a tape measure and some stitch markers.

The notions that you use for all the various projects you commit to can get really out of hand, but I love it. I also love how creative you can get when you realize you don’t have something you need!

Don’t have a tape measure on hand? Well, what’s the length of your phone? Need some stitch markers? I’ve got some scrap yarn that I can tie in a loop. What about a tapestry needle?

Actually there’s not really a replacement for that, which is why I should really keep better track of the ones that I have.

Basically, if anyone ever tries to tell me that knitting doesn’t require many tools, I’ll just laugh and dump out my notions pouch on their lap. They can have fun picking all that up for fifteen minutes.

Knitting

JULY 9 – Mistakes

One of my favorite parts of my craft is how we knitters view mistakes. Unless it’s something vital or something that’s easy to get to and fix, I always view mistakes as a new and interesting “design feature” of my project.

Forgot one increase at the beginning of your 200 stitch row and now it’s affecting the placement of your eyelet? Oh well, that’s just a design feature now!

I always say that if I wanted a project to look perfect, I’d go out and buy a machine-made version of it. I don’t expect perfection in my knitting. I expect to be able to point to places where I did the wrong stitch or had the wrong gauge or made the wrong increase. It’s just part of being human.

What’s shocking to me, as I write this, is that somehow I haven’t incorporated this philosophy into my daily life yet. It seems so obvious, looking at the idea written out, that re-framing mistakes in life can be done just as easily as it’s done in knitting. Sometimes, when you’re able, you go back and fix mistakes. But sometimes you just have to look at the mistake, shrug, and say, “I’ll try to remember not to do that next time.” And I’m sure that there are times I make the same mistakes twice – in knitting and in life! That’s ok, too.

Life, like knitting, isn’t about perfection. It’s about the work you put in every day, and the joy you get from the process and from the end goal.