FO: Winter Birch

Occasionally, I will be surfing Ravelry or Twitter and I will come across a photo of a new (or not-so-new) pattern and the strangest thing happens.  I become utterly and completely obsessed with the item in question and I have to knit it right. this. second.

So starts the story of how I ended up knitting a Winter Birch in a weekend.

Someone on my Twitter feed posted that they were having a KAL of the scarf and while I didn’t have the yarn required to participate, I did have a stunning silver-grey skein of Illimani Silky Baby Llama that I had picked up on a recent trip to a yarn shop in Kitchener.  It was the right weight and the right size skein, and I was completely in love with the pattern so I cast on on a Friday evening.

It was ridiculously simple to memorize; I think I had it totally committed to memory by the end of the first repeat.

~Photo by Shireen Nadir

~Photo by Shireen Nadir

I found the repeats to be like potato chips…”just one more”.  Within a couple of days, voila!  A gorgeous and soft creation, just the right length for tucking into the front of a coat.

It was already pretty enough, but then my friend Shireen came over, armed with her camera, and took some lovely pics for me.  Someday I am going to finish my Craftsy “Shoot It!” class, I swear!

~Photo by Shireen Nadir

~Photo by Shireen Nadir

I am extremely happy with how it turned out, and considering how quickly I was able to churn it out, the pattern is definitely going to stay at the top of my list for gifting possibilities.

Pattern:  Winter Birch by Debbie Stone

Yarn: Illimani Silky Baby Llama in the ever-so-descriptive colourway “1804″

Who Was It Made For?  Me?  Not entirely sure if it will get gifted elsewhere.

Were There Changes Made To The Pattern?  Only in the sense that I knit and knit until I was out of yarn and thus ended up with extra repeats.

Did I Learn Anything New?  No

Anything Else?  Not that I recall.

Would I Make Another?:  I already have it queued for a skein of Handmaiden Great Big Sea.

FO: Reunion Cowl

Sometimes, a gal just needs mindless knitting.  There are knit nights, lunch hours with a friend, airports and parent visits.  These things all require knitting where I am not trying to remember where the cable crosses are, or how many knit stitches between the YOs and k2togs.

Enter, the Reunion Cowl.  Utterly brainless knitting that can be done just about anywhere.  And when it’s done with indigodragonfly MCN Lace (now known as MerGoat Lace), it’s pure pleasure to knit.

This is my second of these; the first was knit in a OOAK blue-green colourway in late 2012.  But I was always wishing for a red one and Kim and Ron created this lovely colouway a few years back that just cried out to be my newest cowl.

MCN/MerGoat Lace in "Only The Exact Word Word I Used Was 'Don't'"

MCN/MerGoat Lace in “Only The Exact Word Word I Used Was ‘Don’t’”

It took a while to knit up, mostly because it was my carry around knitting so I wasn’t entirely devoted to it.  I love the way it turned out.  Long enough to double up for extra warmth and wonderfully soft and squishy.

reunion1

I made a couple of alterations, including knitting the first set of garter rounds as flat rows and doubling up the number of eyelet rows to add both visual and knitting interest.

reunion2

I am sure this won’t be my last one of these.  They are a nice change from plain-ish socks when I am looking for easy knitting.

Pattern:  Reunion Cowl by Natalie Selles

Yarn:  indigodragonfly MCN/MerGoat Lace in “Only The Exact Word Word I Used Was ‘Don’t’”

Who Was It Made For?  Me

Were There Changes Made To The Pattern?  Added extra eyelet rows to alleviate boredom, and knit the first garter section and seamed it to help avoid twisting my cast on and to avoid purling.  I have an unnatural aversion to purling, especially when the rounds are some 300+ stitches long.

Did I Learn Anything New?  No

Anything Else?  Not that I recall.

Would I Make Another?:  Likely!

Best Laid Plans

I woke up Saturday morning with goals…several of them, in fact.  DH was working 7-3 both Saturday and Sunday, and this meant I had lots of time to do what I wanted, so I made plans.

I had planned to knit my Dad a pair of Anne Hanson’s Sign of Four socks.  So determined was I to cast them on, that I started the Rav project.  That’s commitment, right there.  If I build it, it will cast on, right?

I had also determined that I was going to re-start my spinning, so again, one Ravelry project coming right up!

And third, I had determined that my Reunion Cowl in a stunning red indigodragonfly MCN Lace that I had been working on steadily since Christmas was coming off the needles, by hook or by crook.  So I queued up Season 4 of Angel, and settled in, feeling pretty good.

Right.

I once heard an expression: “Man Plans.  God Laughs.”  Yep…that was my Saturday.

The Reunion Cowl took a lot longer than I expected to finish and cast off.  There were a few reasons, the largest of which was that my adorable dog decided she wanted all. the. attention. and needed to go outside an unprecedented 5 times in 8 hours.  Now, there are a few things to note here.

1) You can be in the apartment for hours, and never know Kayleigh is there.  She sleeps a lot and is generally like a cat in the amount of attention she wants.  Nope.  All day long she was in my face looking for attention.  If I picked up needles…there she was.  No way I was knitting on her watch.

If she didn't weight 40+ pounds, the rest of her would have been in my lap!

If she didn’t weight 40+ pounds, the rest of her would have been in my lap!

2) We live on the 14th floor of an apartment highrise.  So this means that there is no “letting her out”.  Nope…you have to get dressed, dress her up in her coat, go all the way down stairs etc etc…  This is a very time consuming activity.

So much for my nice quiet Saturday.  I did manage to get the cowl done by the time DH got home but that pretty much covered it.

Saturday evening, I was determined to get my other two goals accomplished so while catching up on some TV, I cast on Dad’s socks…SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in Espresso.

Socks…more brown socks.

I swear there will be a moratorium on brown knitting and 1×1 ribbing the minute these are done.  Then when DH turned on a hockey game at 8:30 or so, I hauled out my wheel for the first time in at least six months.  I only spun for half an hour, and it was not a good start (I appear to be having issues with underspinning and my yarn keeps falling apart) but it was a start.  Hooray for determination!

Sunday, I didn’t anticipate getting a lot done.  I was awake half the night with the aforementioned puppy, and slept in a little.  I did finish the cuff of Dad’s sock but that was about it.  I woke up to an email from Christina over at Lone Maple Studio, with her new pattern attached for test knitting, so I went stash diving for the most cheerful sock yarn I owned.  By the end of the evening, I had decided on a discontinued multi from Tanis Fiber Arts in a colourway called Tulip.

tulipTestKnit

I figured when I need a break from the never ending socks of brown, this colourway will be spring-like, with it’s teal, purple and yellow.

So, I did manage to get my goals accomplished, although I am still not entirely sure how.  It does, though, go to show that the best laid plans of mice and me often go awry.

Knowing When to Say “I Give”

In the summer of 2011, the indigodragonfly group on Ravelry hosted a summer KAL.  It was a lot of fun for me as I was a mostly new knitter and had never done one before.  I didn’t win the prize for “Most Overcommitted” but I did win the prize for “Best Enabler”.  In addition to enabling others, I managed to squeeze in some time to knit a few things for myself, although admittedly far fewer than I had planned.

One of them was a lovely cowl from MCN Sport, a most lovely and squooshy DK weight yarn that I have adored ever since, using a Chrissy Prange pattern called “It’s Only Geometry”.  I had purchased two skeins of a gorgeous burgundy red called “When I Bit Into Him, I Could Hear The Ocean” (fans of the TV show, “Angel”, will recognize that as a Drusilla quote from the Season 2 episode, “Darla”), and used most of one skein for the cowl.

Geometry Bites

Geometry Bites

I kept the remaining skein, promising myself I would make gloves from it to go with the cowl.  I dutifully put the cowl away in a drawer, so that when the gloves were done, the cowl would be pristine and I could wear them as a pretty set.

Fast forward approximately two and a half years…you have three guesses where that second skein of yarn is.  Yep…still right where I left it, in my stash.  This morning, I felt like wearing red in honour of Chinese New Year, so I went into my drawer and hauled out the cowl and wore it.  The yarn has been queued for months now for a pair of fingerless mitts, but maybe I will use it to design my own “matching” pair of mitts.

Or maybe, this time next year…the yarn will still be sitting in stash.  Yep…that seems a lot more likely.

Disruptions in “The Schedule”

Most of the knitting I do is for me.  Occasionally, I knit for my husband….hats mostly, but I have knit him some worsted weight socks and most recently, I have on needles for him a pair of fingerless mitts that should have been done months ago, but that for some reason I am just not digging.  Progress on those has been glacier-like.

I have been known to knit for friends, but since most of my friends are knitters, it sometimes feels like bringing coals to Newcastle.

Most recently, I fell into knitting socks for my Mom and my Dad.  It happened by accident when my mom admired a pair I was working on (that I didn’t love) at the exact time when I could still alter the WIP to fit her.  Once she received them and loved them, she asked for another pair.  I have a strange sort of compulsion…I can’t really do something for one parent and not the other.   Since Mom had two, I had to knit two for Dad.  I gave him one at Christmas (which I am told he is going to wear out at this rate – YAY!!) and have another pair in the queue.  He wants brown.  Oy!

When I was at home for Christmas, my dear friend Karen gave me a bunch of Malabrigo that she was never going to knit.  She’s a knitter of heavier Mal Worsted and Mal Mecha, but had somehow obtained several skeins of Mal Lace and a few of Mal Sock.  When I compared one of the Mal Sock skeins in a colourway called Archangel to Mom’s new leather jacket, it cried out to be knit into a light, airy, lace scarf to go with the jacket.

jacket

The picture doesn’t entirely show how well the skein matches with the leather, but they’ll co-ordinate extremely well, I think.  I decided on the Foreign Correspondent’s Scarf as it’s a basic 4 row repeat, it has lots of nice open airy fishnet lace, and it won’t fight with the variegation inherent in that colourway.  In any case…one more thing to knit.

So when I say I have a “knitting” schedule, it’s not entirely accurate.  It’s more of a list of thing to start/make/finish, in the approximate order in which I wish to start/make/finish them.  The occasional gift item falls in there, which means I sometimes have something that resembles a deadline.  Overall, I have to say that I am not much of a deadline knitter.

I got an email from Porter Airlines the other day, advertizing a 50% off sale.  I figured it seemed like  a good time to get my parents to come visit, as they like getting away from Newfoundland in April or May.  It’s warmer here around that time, as spring has sprung in Toronto, but there’s still frequently snow on the Victoria Day long weekend (that’s May 24th, for you Americans!).  Dad mailed back and said they were going to come for a week around Easter, if that suited, which it did just fine, thank you!  Except…that means one thing.  Two planned projects now need to move up the queue.  Mom will want to have the scarf for her spring jacket, and the last time I mailed a pair of socks to Newfoundland, it set me back over $13.  So frankly, if I can have them ready for mid-April, more’s the better for me!  So, tonight…I wind!!

Do you have a knitting schedule?  Do you actually keep to it?  What sorts of things disrupt it?

The Mid January Blahs

So, if any of you run into my knitting/spinning/fibre mojo, can you send it home please?  I believe it has hopped a plane for Cuba where it is sitting on a beach, drinking mojitos.  Because really, if you had that option, wouldn’t you??

I traditionally struggle with January and February.  I get a little blue and kinda lazy and it’s hard to pick myself up and do anything.  My friend Christina, over at Lone Maple Studio, blogged about this very thing this weekend.   In her case, a new hobby has taken her attention; in mine, I am looking into new hobbies in hopes that something grabs my attention because my interest in my current habits is definitely waning.

Last year, I purchased a couple of Craftsy classes, including a class on Lace Shawl Design.  In an attempt to engage my brain in something interesting, I finally hit it the play button on it and started watching.  It’s interesting so far.  Miriam Felton, the instructor, has talked yarn and needles and yarn overs and decreases…and now we are at the part where we are charting stitch patterns from stitch dictionaries.  I may have given in and purchased a recommended one from Abebooks – one of the Barbara Walker treasuries.  I also may have gone to Staples for graph paper, and a new note book because what troubles can’t be solved with yarn can frequently be solved with office supplies.

Additionally, my friend Shireen dropped by for a bit of a knit night on Friday, and she and her metal-working hubby, Tito had picked me up a little gift while shopping that day:  the cutest teensiest, tiniest jewelery anvil you ever saw.  Looks like this and fits in the palm of my hand:

il_570xN.416512720_schr

This acquisition meant that I needed to stop by Bead FX on Saturday to add a chasing hammer to my collection of tools, so I can get practicing at some simple metal forging.  I grabbed some 16 gauge wire, and am now going to start looking at creating some fibula pins, and maybe eventually learn how to do more complicated things.  I did get a book from my mother in law for Christmas called “Simple Soldering”…that would be next.

So, while I did a very small amount of knitting this weekend and no spinning at all, I did spend an inordinate amount of time designing lace cowls in my head, and hanging out on Pinterest, looking for shawl pin ideas.

Maybe this is one of those “If life hands you lemons” things.

Perpetuating the Delusion

If you are a knitter who uses Ravelry, you are likely aware that you can store all your project records there.  You can attach your stashed yarn, track start dates, end dates, notes about and all sorts of other random information about the project that you want to remember for later.

One feature is the “status” feature and it’s used by different people in different ways.  Thanks to my friend Caryn, I adopted, early on, a practice of marking something 100% once the item was fully knit, but not changing the status to “Finished” until the ends were woven in, the item had had its customary bath and the final photos had been taken.  That  time frame can be as little as 24 hours or as long as a week or so.

There is another status that I have been using somewhat frequently: “Hibernating”.  Traditionally I have used this one for anything I haven’t touched in a few months.  (I have been pretty loosey-goosey with the time frame.)  The problem with this status is that it fools me into thinking I have fewer projects on needles than I really do.  Ravelry’s sorting mechanism buries those projects below all my FOs and as such I don’t see those entries unless I go looking for them.  So my, say, eight projects “In Progress” isn’t too bad, I think, until I realize I have another six in “Hibernating”.  Suddenly, I have fourteen things on needles, which I think may be a bit much.  (Your mileage may vary, of course…it’s all personal preference).  This is usually brought home to me when I am looking for s specific project bag or a certain needle that I cannot find and cannot for the life of me locate in my WIPs.

So, I am going to stop using that status.  Seeing that I currently have sixteen items OTN – more  right now than is reasonable for one person (again, YMMV) – this might keep me a bit focused on finishing at least a few of these before casting on something else.  If I already have five pairs of socks on needles, do I really need a sixth?  And perhaps I might like to finish one of my five shawls/scarves and four cowls, hmm??

Time to get busy knitting or get busy froggin’.

It’s Nice to Have Goals

So on New Year’s Eve, I took a quick look at what I did in 2013, and mentioned there were some things I’d like to do in 2014.  I cannot say I actually set goals, because they were all pretty darned vague, and I would like to have something to work towards.

“I am planning to start spinning again in January and am considering saving up for a Woolee Winder to make my spinning that much easier”.  I will spin 5 times a week for the year; I am never going to get any good at this if I do it in constant fits and starts.  If I do keep to this, and I think it will improve my spinning, I will get a Woolee Winder in the spring.

“I have nine WIPs and four projects in “hibernation”, so I do need to get back at some of those.”  I will cut that number in half by January 1st, 2015 and have no more than 7 WIPS/hibernating projects at that time, whether I finish the ones I have on needles or frog them.

“I am also planning to knit from stash a bit more.  I added quite a bit towards the end of the year, factoring in several yarn-y gifts, and I have some great plans for some of those skeins.”  For every two skeins I move into “All Used Up”, I can add one more to stash.  (This will be by far my most challenging goal, to be certain, as I am completely given to fits of “ooh shiny”!)

“My last goal of the year…to at least start, if not complete, my first sweater.  I have two sweater quantities, a coupon for Custom Fit (kindly given to me by my friend, Jenn) and measurements taken for me by Kim.  All I need to do now is do some new swatches and I’ll be ready to go.”  This goal was nice and specific.

And there was one I forgot.  My dear friend Val has sent me three separate stashes of light fingering weight handspun over the past year…all gorgeous and all deserving of being knit into something awesome.  I have queued two of them and I will knit at least one of these projects this year.

So, goals for 2014…there they are.  I am not going to set goals of how many yards to knit or pounds of fibre to spin, mostly because I don’t want either of those activities to become a chore, and I fear that for me, goals that specific might make them so.

Let’s see how far I get with these :-)