2012 Year in Review: (Non-crafty) Books!

One of my goals for 2012 was to read more.  Last year around this time, I was feeling like some sort of statistic – you know, featured in all those doomsday articles you see online about how people don’t read anymore.  Then my colleagues gifted me a Kindle Fire for Christmas and I hoped it would be the inspiration I needed to read (non-crochet and non-knitting) books.

I read 7 books in 2011.  (I’m defining “read” loosely here, since 4 were audiobooks.)  I was hoping to read at least 12 in 2012, and I was able to (slightly) exceed my goal!  So without further ado, here is the list of non-crafty books I read in 2012.

 

  1. The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke
  2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (my review)
  3. Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents, 22E
  4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  5. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  6. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson (my Millenium Trilogy review)
  7. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (my review)
  8. Halfway Human by Carolyn Ives Gilman (my review)
  9. Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg (my review)
  10. The Righteous by Michael Wallace (my review)
  11. The Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood
  12. How To Love Your Job Or Find A New One by Joanna Penn (my review)
  13. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline (my review)
  14. The Last Man by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (my review)
  15. The Brief History of the Dead: A Novel by Kevin Brockmeier (my review)
  16. Here by Denise Grover Swank (my review)

 

I found out about many of these books through Wednesday’s Yarn Along with Small Things.  I’m looking for more books to read in 2013, and I’m always interested in finding more recommendations on Goodreads, so feel free to stop by my profile page and add me to your friends!

 

What was your favorite read of 2012?

Giveaway: Knitting with a crochet hook (KWACH)/knooking hooks

This is the last in my series of giveaways leading up to the New Year.  I’m now selling the specialized crochet hooks for knitting – also known as knooking or knitting with a crochet hook (KWACH) – in my Etsy shop here.

If you’ve been wanting to try knooking, this set will get you started!  It includes 5 hooks (in sizes 4.0 mm, 4.5 mm, 5.0 mm, 6.0 mm, and 6.5 mm) and 5 waxed cords.  Each cord is at least 40 inches (100 cm) long.

These hooks are a delightfully smooth bamboo and are very comfortable to use.

This giveaway is open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, January 6, 2013.  

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your experience with knooking.  Have you tried it?  If so, what did you make?
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
  • One winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

Year of Projects, Year 2: Return

It’s been a while since I shared a Year of Projects post, but as the year comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on my crafty accomplishments in 2012 and planning for 2013.  I’ve definitely missed the camaraderie of participating in YOP so I thought I would ease myself back into posting on a semi-regular, if not weekly, basis.

All this week, I’ve been sharing year in review posts, so it only seemed natural to share an update on my initial YOP Year 2 goals.

Completed

Crochet 52 granny squares for charity. While I didn’t actually crochet that many squares since July, I mailed off 60 squares to Afghan Squares for Pine Ridge on Thursday.  I’ll likely make more for one of the 2013 Crochetlist charity challenges.

Design my own Bruges lace pattern.  This was one of my early YOP finishes.  The pattern, Visit to the Kantcentrum, is available for download here and I’ll be teaching a Sunday afternoon Bruges Lace Basics class at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival in March.

Try domino (modular) knitting.  I did get a chance to play around with mitered squares while working on my review of Modular Mix: 12 Knitted Mitered Squares to Mix & Match by Edie Eckman.  (You can check out my review here for a chance to win a copy.)

My first domino knitting project.

Design a crochet lace shawl pattern or recipe for my DC 37 crochet class students.  This was actually one of my early finishes.  I can’t share pictures… yet.

Abandoned

Knit my first complete pair of socks.  I think this project was my epic fail of 2012.  I’m feeling pretty convinced that knitting socks is not for me, and my first serious attempt at sock knitting became one of my frogged projects of 2012.  If I do revise my YOP goals, I may add a crocheted socks project.

The two little balls were my gauge swatches. The two bigger balls were for my two-at-a-time socks.

Timeline adjusted

Make my mom a special bedspread for her milestone birthday.  Unfortunately, I’ve had to put this project aside.  I have a very large secret project due on February 1st, and I can’t imagine wanting to complete a bedspread right after that in time for my mom’s birthday.  I already talked to my sister about it and decided this bedspread will be a Christmas 2013 gift to my mom.

In progress

Learn to spin.  My first tentative drop spindling has whet my appetite, and I’m hoping to dive in more deeply in 2013.

My first attempt on the drop spindle.

No progress

Learn overlay crochet.  

Create my own hairpin lace pattern.  

Try double knitting.

Make a small project inspired by Pop Knitting: Bold Motifs Using Color & Stitch.

Learn knit entrelac.

 

 

If I plan to continue with YOP updates on a semi-regular basis, I’ll definitely need to review my list and decide what to keep and what to change.  I’ve been thinking a lot about my general crafty goals for 2013, and I’d like YOP to fit in with my overall goals rather than being another set of goals.

For more YOP updates, visit Come Blog A Long on Ravelry.

Giveaway and Book Review: Modular Mix by Edie Eckman

I recently received a review copy of Modular Mix: 12 Knitted Mitered Squares to Mix & Match by Edie Eckman from Annie’s.  If you’re interested in learning more about mitered squares or modular (or domino) knitting, or if you like to knit sampler projects, this may be the booklet for you.

The booklet opens with a three-page section called Mixed Miters which walks readers through the basics of creating mitered square projects including materials, gauge, and techniques for casting on, decreasing, and joining squares.  Fans of Edie know that she likes to include the knitting math, and in this section you will also learn how to design your own mitered squares and determine the appropriate number of stitches to cast on.  Edie also explains why you might want to use different cast on methods, which is helpful for other projects, too.

The next several pages are devoted to the Modular Mix Afghan, made up of 20 blocks (some of which are formed by 4 to 16 smaller blocks).  Because modular projects are joined as you work, this overview is helpful before diving into the square patterns if you plan to recreate the sampler featured on the cover.

The 12 module patterns are presented in the next section.  Each pattern includes a brief introduction, information on the stitch multiples in case the knitter wants to adjust the size, the color sequence, and the pattern.  The patterns are simple, but Edie doesn’t do as much handholding as some modern knitters may expect.  These patterns are written like recipes, not as line by line instructions.  I found them easy to understand, but a beginner (or beginning pattern reader) might be confused when reaching the last set of decreases, for example.  Each square is also clearly photographed, so it is easy to see the differences in the patterns.  Each square is available in 3 sizes (3 inch, 6 inch, and 12 inch).  The projects all use medium (worsted) weight yarn and size 9 (5.5 mm) knitting needles, but of course could be adapted to other size yarn and needles for a different effect.

The book closes with a list of knitting abbreviations used in the booklet, charts showing recommended needle sizes for different yarn weights and conversions from inches to metric measurements, and an illustrated Knitting Basics section.  There is also a photo index in the back that makes it easy to find patterns in the book.  Like other Annie’s booklets, this lays flat and is easy to read while knitting.

Overall, this is a fun pattern booklet for anyone interested in exploring mitered squares.  While the booklet is brief (only 28 pages), Edie does pack in a lot of information, so it is suitable for knitters with a range of abilities.  An adventurous beginner would have fun learning new stitch patterns, decreases, and increases, and a more advanced knitter could follow Edie’s tips to design their own mitered squares.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Giveaway

I’m giving away my review copy of Modular Mix: 12 Knitted Mitered Squares to Mix & Match by Edie Eckman, courtesy of Annie’s.  This giveaway is open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, January 5, 2013.  

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me about your experience with modular knitting.  Have you made mitered squares or other join as you go knitting projects?
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
  • One winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

2012 Year in Review: Surmount the Stash

It’s been just over a year since I first learned about Revelations of a Delusional Knitter and her Surmount the Stash challenge.

This has been an interesting year for me in terms of stash.  I started using Ravelry’s features more actively, which helped me track my stash more closely.  I also started working with Galler Yarns, and I received more yarn support for upcoming designs in 2012 than in any previous year.  In spite, or because of all of these things, I’ve actually been able to make a noticeable dent in my yarn stash and am definitely ending 2012 with less yarn than I started with!

In December, I didn’t finish many projects since I’m working on a very large secret project.  I did manage to use up 112 yards on little holiday projects.

I also added 79 yards to my stash in yarn support remnants.  I reorganized my yarn bins so that I could store everything in 5 bins rather than having a box of yarn support on the side.  Overall, not a very significant month in terms of my stash!

During the course of the year, I learned a few things that may be helpful to you if stashbusting is on your list of New Year’s Resolutions.

  • Talking about my stash helped keep me accountable.  I kept track of my stashbusting efforts through my monthly Surmount the Stash updates and I am also active on the Surmount the Stash group on Ravelry.
  • Tracking yardage was more effective for me than tracking skeins.  For my first few updates, I talked about the number of skeins I used up or bought.  Later I learned that I used a lot more yarn in partial skeins (especially for charity projects), so I decided to track by yardage.  I compared the yardage used to skeins of Red Heart Super Saver so I could still have a visual reference.
  • Be thoughtful about purchases.  I approached yarn festivals and yarn crawls with a plan, including a monetary budget or skein limit (or both).
  • Let it go.  While it would be nice to sell every bit of yarn I don’t plan to use, it was often better to take a loss on what was spent on the yarn in exchange for more space and less clutter in my home.  I donated yarn to charity and gave some away.  I sold other skeins at a discount to move them out of my apartment.
  • Don’t forget about trades.  I needed certain colors for a project for a swap over the summer, and I was able to get what I needed by trading and buying partial skeins on Ravelry.  I ended up with just the right amounts and for less money.
  • Remain flexible.  Your priorities may change as your stash shifts.  I wasn’t worried about yarn support when I started my stashbusting efforts but now I plan to track it so I can keep a closer eye on my stash.
For 2013, I’m planning to keep whittling away at my stash to keep it more manageable.

What are your stash plans for 2013?

 

 

Giveaway: Artyarns Shawl for All Seasons Kit

Confession time: Before I started working on surmounting my stash, I pretty much entered every yarn giveaway I came along.  It was by winning one such giveaway from Jimmy Beans Wool that the Artyarns Shawl for All Seasons Kit became part of my collection.

This is actually a pretty cool kit in the Purple Velvet colorway.  Apparently, it usually sells for over $60.  It is even available for both knitting and crocheting.

So why am I giving it away? Well, I’ve discovered that I don’t need quite as much bling in my crochet projects as this kit provides.  And since I don’t plan to use it, I’d rather it ends up with someone else who might get a lot of pleasure from it.

This giveaway is open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, January 4, 2013.  

To enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me how you would use this kit.  Would you knit or crochet?  Would you follow the pattern or design your own?  Would you keep the finished object or gift it?
  • For additional entries, like Underground Crafter on Facebook, follow Underground Crafter on Twitter, join the Underground Crafter group on Ravelry, and/or share a link to this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  (And then, leave a comment here, on Facebook, on Twitter, or in the Ravelry group letting me know what you did!)
  • One winner will be chosen based on awesomeness.  (In other words, I will pick the winner based on the best answer.  If there are too many great answers, I’ll choose the winner randomly from my favorites.)

Good luck!

2012 Year in Review: Frog Fest!

I’m not the type of crocheter (or knitter) who feels the need to complete every project I start.  Sometimes I start a project for stress relief, other times I make a bad yarn choice, and then there are times when the project just isn’t really something I want to work on anymore.

Today, I’m celebrating all those creations that actually made it as far as into my Ravelry projects but were later unraveled.  While I actually unraveled 12 projects in 2012 (freaky, huh?), I’m just going to talk about the three most significant ones today.

If you followed my second Year of Projects posts, you may remember that I was working on my first pair of knit socks.

I started these during the Ravellenic Games, hoping that would be the push I needed to actually get excited about making knitted socks.  I love looking at other people’s knit socks and I love wearing hand-knit socks, but something about actually knitting socks never seemed all that appealing to me.

I think I’ll stick with crochet socks.  I’m not all that comfortable knitting with small needles or with lightweight yarn and I just don’t feel committed to spending the amount of time needed to knit a single pair of socks.

Another learning experience was the slip stitch scarf I started for the Red Scarf Project.  Vashti Braha‘s newsletters got me very excited about using more slip stitches in my projects.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really think this one through.

Let’s just say that the combination of not so great quality acrylic yarn, watching a movie while crocheting, and slip stitches is not a good one.  I decided to unravel this, along with a Christmas stocking I made last year (in red wool)…

…and give slip stitch crochet another try in wool in 2013.

 

I think the addition of this hook I found at a shop near my job, which looks like a pjoning hook, will also help to make the stitches more even.

And finally, there’s the Pineapple Doily Shawl I started.

Several students in my crochet class were working on it, and I decided to start one, too.  I don’t usually work on projects with my students (besides a little swatch I make in class), and this experience hasn’t encouraged me to make it a habit.

I inherited this yarn from my grandmother and I eventually want to make it into something special for my mom.  So far, the perfect project for this yarn hasn’t revealed itself.

 

Do you unravel projects, do you always finish what you start, or do you abandon projects that aren’t working out?

Giveaway: 40 Favorite Ripple Afghans

Today’s giveaway is the last in my series of unclaimed prizes.  I’m giving away  40 Favorite Ripple Afghans, courtesy of Leisure Arts.  (Ravelry members can see about half of the patterns here.)

This was another prize from the Ripple Mania CAL, and linda74 from alottastitches already owned a copy.  This book includes contest patterns from Crochet with Heart magazine.

This giveaway is open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, January 3, 2013.  

To enter:

Good luck!

2012 Year in Review: 12 for Myself

Back in January, I joined the Ravelry group 12 for Myself (now called For Myself!) with the hopes of making some crochet projects for me!  I’m that type of crocheter who always makse things for others and rarely for myself.  You know, the one who never has her own scarf finished in time for the winter because she was finishing a baby blanket for a colleague’s wife so she ends up buying one at the last minute.  This tendency has gotten even worse now that I’ve been designing, because I also have design deadlines that take precedence over gift and charity projects.

The original idea was to create 12 projects for me in 2012.  I actually made more than 12 projects, but there are only 5 that I actually use on a regular basis.  Others were repurposed as gifts or charity projects.  Since I probably only made one thing for myself in 2011, I consider this a good start!

My favorite projects were the two infinity scarves I made.

The All Weather Cowl (Ravelry project page/free pattern) is great because I used a neutral color so I can wear it a lot.

 

On the other hand, the Eyelet Ripple Infinity Scarf (Ravelry project page/for sale pattern) is really vibrant and bright, and I love to wear it on grey days.

The most unlikely project for myself that I actually love is this bathroom rug.

The backstory: I wanted to participate in as many competitions as possible in the Ravellenic Games.  This rug started out as the only partially completed project I was willing to unravel that was old enough to compete in the Frogging Trampoline.  At the same time, my current bathroom rug was looking really sad, so this seemed like the best usage of 1″ wide strips of cotton fabric.  I have used it every day since!

I’m also very proud of myself for finally finishing the Craft Yarn Council Certified Instructors Program in Knitting.  I consider the swatches I made for the program one of my favorite gifts to myself this year!

The final project for me success story is this placemat.  In many ways, it is totally impractical – after all, it has an uneven texture and the yarn doesn’t match my dining table in any way.  But I love it and it gives me a happy feeling to put my plate on it at dinner time.

After looking through what worked and what didn’t work for me this year, I learned a few things that will help me make more projects for myself in 2013.

  • I prefer functional projects for myself.
  • I still have a lot of trouble making things for me, so combining a “for me” project with an “obligatory” project (such as a design, testing out a pattern as part of a book review, or trying to use up stash yarn) seems to work best.
  • Although it helps to have some guidelines (“I’d like to make myself some winter accessories!”), I seem to use projects made spontaneously – and not necessarily with me as the intended recipient – more often.

 

Are you the type of crocheter or knitter who makes a lot of projects for yourself?  Do you plan to change that in 2013?

 

Giveaway: Rippling Effects

Continuing my theme of unclaimed prizes, today’s book is Rippling Effects by Carole Prior, courtesy of Leisure Arts.  (Ravelry members can see most of the patterns here.)

This was one of the prizes from the Ripple Mania CAL, but linda74 from alottastitches already owned a copy.  This is a great pattern book for ripple lovers (or crocheters in general) with 16 ripple afghan patterns.

This giveaway is open to all readers.  Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.  

To enter:

Good luck!