Tag Archives: year of projects

Par Avion

Earlier this week, I came home to this.

Air mail from Canada

I hadn’t recently ordered anything from Canada, so I was puzzled.  However, upon turning it over, I discovered the customs form.

customs form

(In case you’re wondering, there’s almost nothing cooler than seeing the phrase “handknit socks” on a customs form when the temperatures are about 20 degrees below freezing.)

One of my favorite bloggers to follow is Lynn from Minding My Own Stitches.  I was first introduced to her blog when we were both regular participants in the original Year of Projects in 2011-2012.  We were two of the only bloggers who actually worked through a book rather than a series of patterns, though our approaches were quite different.  Also, we’re both members of Surmount the Stash, a group for those in dire need of stashbusting support.

Lynn is an avid sock knitter.  As you may recall, I’m not an avid sock knitter.  I do frequently fantasize about wearing hand knit socks, because they are so darned awesome.  (And I know this from experience, because I have also been the grateful recipient of a fabulous pair of hand knit socks from Underbaragarn on Ravelry, which you can see here.)

Once upon a time, after I lavished praise on one of her recently completed socks, Lynn mentioned she would knit me a pair.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance and instantly emailed her my address. (Or, as MC said when I tried to explain the situation: “So, basically you drove this woman crazy until she would send you a pair of socks to get you to leave her alone???”)  As soon as I saw the customs form, I knew the magic day had arrived.

Vorticity socks

Inside was a gorgeous pair of Vorticity Socks that Lynn knit in Twisted Top Cat by Wandering Cat Yarns, a stunning hand painted yarn by a dyer in her area.  Apparently, making these socks was quite an adventure (you can read about it on her blog here, here, here, and here), so I’m extra thrilled to be the recipient.

As if an amazing pair of socks in beautiful yarn wasn’t enough, Lynn also sent me some other goodies: some very pretty soaps, a foot lotion (so I don’t destroy those socks!), and some wool wash.

 

Swap goodies

And here is my picture with the socks on ( they fit fabulously, by the way).  I have renewed appreciation for the sock knitting bloggers of the world – feet are strangely hard to photograph!

Marie wearing Vorticity

Thank you, Lynn!

In other Year of Projects news, I’m still trying to come up with something awesome to make during the Ravellenic Games.  I didn’t want the stress of captaining a team, but I think I will offer up some prizes and a crochet/knit-a-long thread in my Ravelry group for anyone using one of my patterns during the games.

As for myself, it seems that whenever I have a ton of work, I develop a bad case of startitis.  Since I’ve recently had several big deadlines at work, I’ve starting thinking of launching an enormous undertaking by designing a whole lot of patterns for another year long knit-a-long for 2015.  I’m thinking that I should challenge myself to design and make samples for 7 designs during the Games.  I can’t tell if that’s a lot, or too little.  (Designing and making a sample for a small project in 2.5 days seems like a lot to me, but is it “a lot” in Olympic proportions?  Probably not.)

At the same time, I feel that I should be crocheting during the Games.  It’s pretty distressing to hear there won’t be a Team Crochet this year, and I want to do my part to support crochet.  And, of course, I can crochet much faster than I can knit.  So another idea would be to start/finish a bunch of crochet projects, like blankets, that would usually take a long time to complete.  Of course, big projects call for big amounts of yarn, which might lead me out into buying more.

Basically, as you can tell, I haven’t yet decided what to do during the Games.  Hopefully, by next Sunday, I’ll have a clearer idea!

Are you joining in the Ravellenic Games?

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

Vogue Knitting Live 2014: Day 3 and Stash Musings

VKL NYNY

Today was the last day of Vogue Knitting Live, and I felt a bit under the weather (perhaps that cold shower yesterday was to blame).  I did actually take my obligatory pre-event picture, but I looked so grumpy that I decided not to post it.  I was wearing my All Weather Cowl (you know, the one that brought me fame and fortune), which turned out to be just right because I could wear it indoors comfortably.

I had a chance to interview Sally Melville today, as well as catch the back end of her lecture on Creativity.  She had some fabulous samples on display, including several sizes of the lovely L’Enveloppe.  Sally was wearing her own version over a stunning coat with a coordinating pair of Fluevogs.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Sally Melville

I walked through the Marketplace one last time before saying goodbye to Vogue Knitting Live for 2014.  Though it was extremely tempting, I managed just to touch the buttons at Dusty’s Vintage Buttons without buying anything.  (I think we all know that I have way too many buttons at home to buy them at random.  I have to at least pretend there’s a plan for using them first!)

blog VKL NYC 2014 vintage buttons3

And then I visited the Feederbrook Farm booth.  Yesterday, in the rare quiet moments at the Michelle’s Assortment booth, I would look across at their yarns, and I ended up developing quite an attachment.  I decided on four skeins of Shepherd Spun, which is quite a bit of yarn for someone allegedly trying to reduce their stash.  In my defense, I fell in love with two of the hand dyed yarns, and rather than have them sit in my stash forever, I paired each with a coordinating solid.

blog Feederbrook Farm Mocha & Ava with shawl pin

These two are a bit out of my comfort zone, but I really was drawn to the skein on the bottom, called Ava, which is surprising because it isn’t in my typical colors.  And then I had to buy a coordinating Matryoshka pin from Michelle – I had been eyeing them, too, but couldn’t decide on a color until I had the yarn.

The other two skeins are much more “me” – purples, blues, and greens.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Feederbrook Farm Wia and Michelles Assortment shawl pin

This skein is called Win and is paired up with the shawl pin I picked up yesterday.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelles Assortment shawl pins

So after 3 days of Marketplace exposure, I ended the show with 3 shawl pins, and 5 skeins of yarn.

blog VKL NYC 2014 yarn haul

It was more than I (consciously) planned to spend, but I did happen to have cash left over, so apparently it was within the budget I had (subconsciously) created for the event.  I actually spent less than the cost of registering for a class, so in the end things seem to have worked out.

The charcoal Studio Donegal yarn in the center is already dedicated to being a cabled hat for my dad, and I have ideas about what I want to do with each of the other pairs.  But (head hanging in shame)…

I have yet to use any of the yarns I bought at last year’s Vogue Knitting Live.  (They’re pretty too, don’t you think?)

Vogue Knitting Live Yarn Haul

Partly it’s because I suffer from the “I must make something extra super fantabulous with yarn bought at a special event” syndrome, and the rest of it is because none of these lovelies are machine washable, which means they are unsuitable for most of my gift crafting.

I’m not going to feel too bad about buying five more skeins of yarn, since I did use over 19,000 yards of yarn (through both knitting and crocheting projects) last year.  I do, however, think it’s time to go through my stash again and see what I might be able to donate or sell.  Not only will that free up room for these five new skeins, but it will probably excite me about what I have on hand to use.

In my mind, I actually have new designs waiting for each of these pairs of yarn, but I think we all know that our initial ideas and our final plans don’t always align…

YOP3 sheep

For more Year of Projects post, visit this thread on Ravelry.

2013 Temperature Scarf: Lessons Learned

YOP3 sheep

I’m excited to say that I did finish crocheting my temperature scarf this week.  The 113 remaining rows just flew by.

blog Temperature scarf folded roll

I ended up using 8 different colorways for this project.

Temperature Scarf Yarn Collage

 

Four of the skeins (Dream in Color Classy in Spring Tickle and Happy Forest and madelinetosh tosh vintage in Fragrant and Cove) were purchased at my favorite local yarn shop, Knitty City; two others (Miss Babs Yowza–Whatta Skein! in Violets in the Grass and madelinetosh tosh vintage in Midnight in Manhattan) were picked up at another local yarn shop, The Yarn Company; and I bought the two remaining skeins (Molly Girl Chart Topper in Anastasia and Aella) from a local dyer at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival.

2013 Temperature Scarf outline

My original plan called for the use of just 7 yarns, but since 24% of the year’s dates fell into the same temperature range, I ended up running out of yarn for one of the temperature ranges and adding another yarn.

Since I was crocheting at a significant lag (I recorded the temperatures throughout the year, but ended up crocheting most of the scarf after November), I was able to make a substitution.  If I were to make another temperature scarf, I’d use a shorter range of temperatures, perhaps 8 degrees for each color.

blog Temperature scarf folded detail

Of course, this would mean that some colors wouldn’t be used at all.  As it stands, the Spring Tickle (representing the coldest temperature range) was only used for two rows.

One thing I’m happy I didn’t do was assign colors based on their association to the temperature.  Many of the temperature scarves I’ve seen use blues for lower temperatures and reds for higher temperatures, for example.  I just arranged my colorways in an order that was pleasing to my eye when I first started this project, and then assigned the temperatures in that order.

blog Temperature scarf folded flat

Another thing I would do differently (though I LOVE how the Violets in the Grass colorway looks in this scarf) would be to only use yarns with a very similar thickness.  The Miss Babs yarn is much thinner than the rest, and I used a larger hook for those rows to keep the gauge similar.

Now that the scarf is blocked, I’d really like to add some buttons.

blog Temperature scarf folded top

 

The stitch pattern I’ve used for this scarf sort of naturally forms a row of button holes at the edge.  But with all of these colors, it’s hard to pick a good set of buttons.  Naturally, I dug through my collection first.

blog Temperature scarf button ideas

I’m leaning towards using the blue square buttons at the top left and maybe the black and white polka dots.  I don’t want to seal this up permanently as an infinity cowl/circle scarf, but I think I’m less likely to wear it as a scarf, so buttons seemed the perfect solution.

Or, should I just go out and try to find buttons specifically for this project?  What do you think?

Overall, I really enjoyed my first conceptual crochet project. It was interesting to give away control of the striping and to create a project that I absolutely couldn’t have imagined at the beginning.  I think my next conceptual crochet project will be a blanket of some kind – but that’s not until I work through more of my remaining stash!

And, on that note, I’m pleased to say that I used up 873 yards of yarn with this project.  My scarf measures about 8.5″ (21.5 cm) by 79″ (200.5 cm), which is pretty long for me since I’m only 5’3″ (1.6 m).  It’s gorgeous though, and perfect for the next cold spell.

 

 

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

2013 in Review

YOP3 dates

Last week, I finished my last Year of Projects post of 2013 with a cliffhanger: how many more projects could I complete in 2013?

I ended up finishing just one more project, a baby blanket for my cousin’s newborn.  (My cousin was in labor when I wrote the post, and has since delivered a healthy baby girl.  Yay!)

Ava car seat blanket detail

I originally had a plan for a symmetrical blanket.

Ava blanket planEach square was made holding two skeins of yarn, with the colors blending into each other.  I planned to have an “x shape” of hearts radiating outward from the center.

Unfortunately, my yarn calculations were a bit off, so I had to move on to Plan B – an asymmetric design with an “L shape” around one edge – to work with the colors I had left.

Ava car seat blanket

I like how it turned out.  I should mention that the yarn that looks brown in the picture is actually purple, and the colors look much brighter and more attractive in real life!

And with that project, I came to the end of my yarn usage for 2013.

Overall, I worked up about 1,700 yards less than in 2012 (which is no surprise, since I made many fewer projects in 2013), but I knit a lot more (about 19% of my total yarn usage, compared to about 4% in 2012).  That trend will probably continue this year, since I’m planning to make up a few extra samples of my 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-a-Long blanket.

My plans for the next half of the Year of Projects are to:

  • Finish my 2013 temperature scarf.  I love this thing so far, and I can’t wait to wear it during the impending cold front.  I crocheted through September 6, so I have 116 more rows to go.  I’m not sure if I’ll join it as an infinity scarf, or add buttons so I have the option to wear it as a scarf or cowl.  As you can tell from the photo below, it clearly needs blocking and a massive weaving in of ends before it can be worn.

Temperature scarf thru 2013-09-06

  • Take pictures and finish formatting the five patterns I have that are ready to self-publish.  (What can I say, it’s tough to find models willing to stand outdoors in the New York cold in exchange for baked goods!)
  • Keep working on the projects for the e-book I plan to release in March.  I have one in progress to finish, and 2 more to make.
  • Come up with something exciting to do for the Ravellenic Games.  I would like to come up with some kind of mystery crochet-a-long, but I’m not sure if I have time.

I’m keeping my goals a bit fluid because mainly I want to keep working on using my stash and getting more patterns ready for publication.  My original goals were all about developing patterns and self-publishing, and I plan to keep on moving in the same direction.

What are your plans for the first half of 2014?

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

Frantic Holiday Crafting Update

YOP3 sheep

On December 1, I set a goal of finishing a project every other day in December.  With just a few days to go, I’m happy to say that I did pretty well.

First off, I finished three secret for future publication.  (You can read vague details on my Ravelry project pages here, here, and here.)  I can’t show pictures of the finished projects, but I can share the yummy yarns that I used.

Yarn collage

All of these were new-to-me yarns, and I really enjoyed discovering each one!  On the left is Imperial Yarns Columbia, which is a great workhorse yarn, but with a bit more softness than you would expect for a sturdy, worsted weight, wool.  In the center is Rowan Big Wool, which has a delightful feel as well, and it works up very quickly since it’s a super bulky yarn.  And on the right is Valley Yarns Valley Superwash.  The colors in real life are much richer than what you see on the screen.

And then there are the projects I already shared on the blog, a crescent shawl I made for my sister with Mountain Colors Twizzle, which has stunning colors and a scrumptiously soft feel (thanks to the silk content); the plain, ribbed hat I knit for MC using Studio Donegal Soft Donegal; and the brimmed hat I crocheted for my friend using Patons Shetland Chunky.

I did manage two other finishes in December.  Both were inadequately photographed in the holiday rush.  The first was a lap blanket for my grandpa, crocheted with two strands of what Ravelry calls “vintage” Bernat Softee Chunky that I bought at the famous Smiley’s Manhattan yarn sale.

Grandpa lap blanket

I created an ombre effect by changing the strands I held together for each row.  I also made a little heart motif on some of the squares, since my grandpa just had a pacemaker installed.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make new projects for my other relatives, so I dug through my collection to find some existing projects to gift.

Holiday gift Collage

I gave my grandma the original sample of my Pineapples for Everyone Shawl pattern, my uncle the hat I originally knit for MC (that was deemed “too fussy”), and my aunt a cowl I made as part of a CAL in January.

And then on Christmas Day, I did the last finishing touches (but forgot to photograph them) on the headband for my sister’s boyfriend.  It’s something he could wear to a football game in his current home (New Orleans) or in the new city he’ll be moving to after graduation (Houston).  Each side has a different flavor.

Geaux Saints I am a Texan

At this point, I’m averaging something closer to a finish every 3 days, which isn’t bad for the holiday season.  And, I’m on my way to (hopefully) finishing ten projects by the end of the month.

I have one more secret project to knit.  The yarn, HiKoo Simpliworsted, was a bit delayed in arriving and it looks lovely.

SimpliWorsted

And I received a fabulous gift from Kim Guzman (interviewed here) on Christmas Eve.  She sent me some of her famous apple butter (yum!) and packed the box with yarn (the now discontinued NaturallyCaron.com Country).  So with that, I started a baby blanket for my cousin (who, according to Facebook, may already be in labor).

Heart blanket thru 2013-12-27

This is a refinement of the pattern I made for my grandpa, where the hearts are a bit pointier and the squares are easier to join as you go.  The color that looks brown in the picture is actually a dark purple.

In other yarn related news, my sister gave me some yarn from her recent trip to Montenegro for Christmas.

Ana yarn

It’s now official that my yarn stash is better traveled than I am, since I also have skeins from Italy and Patagonia.

How did your holiday crafting go? (And, my comments are now restored, so I’ll actually be able to read and respond to what you write!)

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

Frantic Holiday Crafting: Shopping Spree

Smiley’s, a discount yarn shop in Woodhaven, Queens (reviewed here), has an annual Manhattan Yarn Sale.  You can only buy yarn in bulk at this sale (3-10 skeins in each bag), so I have tried to avoid it for the last few years.  While it’s a great place to be if you have a sweater to make, it can also lead to impulsive yarn stashing, which is perhaps not so great if you live in a one bedroom apartment as I do.

Smiley's Manhattan Yarn Sale

Yesterday, I arrived at the hotel where this massive sale is hosted (the picture above shows about 1/6 of the yarn that’s available) right as the doors to the ballroom were opening.  Usually, there are crowds around the room so I thought an early start was the best idea.  You see, I decided in all of my last minute gift making mania to make a blanket for my grandpa.  I needed a bulky yarn and I needed some masculine colors.

Bernat Softee Chunky stash

I was tempted to buy more yarn, but I held firm.  I *only* bought 21 skeins of Bernat Softee Chunky.

Bernat Softee Chunky

Now I just need to finish this blanket by the end of next week :).  I did finish one project this week, but not for the holidays.  This will be sent out to the publisher tomorrow, along with some other secret projects I’m working on.

I’m still having some problems with comments, so if I don’t respond to yours quickly, it’s due to technical difficulties.

Frantic Holiday Crafting: Finish 3

It’s amazing how a little challenge can make your fingers fly.

Nice boring hat blog

This is a nice, boring hat for my special guy that I just finished.  I used the same yarn to make a slightly fancier hat a few weeks ago, but in using my secret knit testing tactic (asking him to “try on a hat” to see if it would fit someone else), I discovered it was too fancy for his tastes.  I knew the yarn, Studio Donegal Soft Donegal in Charcoal, would be perfect for him, though.

Grey days

I’ve been wearing “the fancy hat” though it’s a bit big on me, but I may give it to my uncle for Christmas.  After all, I’m less than 20 days away and with many unfinished gifts.

Since I set a challenge to myself last Sunday of finishing a holiday project every two days, I haven’t exactly met my goal.  But I have finished three projects.  (You can see the others here and here.) I feel like I’m on track, and, like most crocheters/knitters, I have a stash of finished items hanging around that can be gifted if necessary.

Some amazing yarn arrived in the mail on Friday for two upcoming designs that will be published in a magazine next year.

Imperial Yarn

I’m loving the feel of this Imperial Yarn Columbia 2-Ply.  I’ll be knitting up a secret project with it next.  One of the great joys of being a designer is having the opportunity to use all kinds of wonderful yarns that I wouldn’t usually have access to.  I’ve been wanting to try Imperial Yarn for a while and it isn’t disappointing.

Valley Yarns

I’ve also been eager to try Valley Yarns out.  Some of the students in one of my knitting classes took a field trip to WEBS in the summer, and I didn’t go because I’m trying to bust my stash.  Luckily, I get to sample the Valley Superwash now, so I don’t have to be too jealous!

I’m having some problems reading comments on my blog right now, but I’m hoping they are still coming through.  If I don’t respond to your comment, it hasn’t been fixed yet.

You can find links to more Year of Projects posts on Ravelry here.

Frantic Holiday Crafting: Finish 1

declared my intent to finish a project every 2 days during December on Sunday, and here is my first finish.

 

Crescent shawl blog

 

I knit up a simple crescent shaped shawl for my sister using a skein of Twizzle that Mountain Colors sent me for review.  (Review spoiler alert: I love it so far!)  I could have finished the shawl with just one skein, but I was so engrossed in the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead that I didn’t realize how close I was to the end of the skein until I was on the last row.  I didn’t want to rip back, so I just cast off with the other skein.  Lucky for me, the colors coordinate beautifully.

This took 4 days to make, but I hadn’t started my challenge yet so I’m feeling super accomplished right now.  Oh, and I never said that finishing a project would include the blocking – hence my sneaky picture of the center.  (The edges are not ready for prime time currently.)

Now which project should I take up today?

A Challenge Accepted

YOP3 yarn

After posting my initial list and one brief update, life became rather too complex for me to do much work towards my Year of Projects goals.  And, then, suddenly it was December.

Last year, I did a lot of advanced holiday crafting, and I even finished all of my gifts by mid-November.  This year, not so much.  When Thanksgiving rolled around last week, I realized I was in for some trouble and sat down to look at my handmade holiday list.

Amigurumi Nativity heads

I started this nativity set for my Mom at the end of May, using Carolyn Christmas‘s Amigurumi Nativity pattern.  Currently, I have six heads and I just bought fiber fill, pellets for the bases, and some safety eyes.

My mom also liked this hat I designed, and asked for one in black.  Luckily, I have just the yarn in my stash.

Mountain Colors Twizzle

A few weeks ago, I received this beautiful skein of Mountain Colors Twizzle in Swift Current from Mountain Colors to review.  I figured you can’t review a yarn without trying it out, and something about it said shawl to me.  On Friday, I picked up the delightful Shaping Shawls by Anna Dalvi (an awesome book, by the way) and decided to try my and at designing a simple knit crescent shawl for my younger sister.  It’s about two-thirds finished now.

Geaux SaintsAnd speaking of my sister, I started an earwarmer for her boyfriend.  They currently are in law school in New Orleans but he’s accepted a job in Houston after graduation in May.  This will be reversible: one side will be for the New Orleans Saints and the other for the Houston Texans.  I’ve finished the first side in Tunisian crochet and it will need some serious blocking before it is gift.

Bill hat notes

I have little more than these notes I took earlier this year about my Uncle Bill’s hat.  He has one of those factory made cashmere hats, and I was planning to make a handmade version with some scrumptious Galler Yarns Pashmina I have on hand.  So far, other than the finding the note (which took some time!), identifying the yarn, and picking out needles, I’ve done nothing.

Diagonal blanket both sides

Luckily, I have finished one project - from my original YOP list, no less - a baby blanket for my dear friend’s newborn.

And then there are the 7 or so more handmade gifts that I haven’t even started yet. Oh, and 4 design samples due in mid-December for a magazine (but I haven’t received the yarn support yet).

So here’s my challenge to myself: finish a project every 2 days between now and the end of December.  What do you think?  Can it be accomplished?

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

Year of Projects, Year 3: Small beginnings

YOP3 sheep

My goals for A Year of Projects.

The August body zone for the Head to Toe Challenge is feet.

I’ve never been that excited about feet as a crochet zone – I’ve finished only a handful of foot related projects in all my years crocheting, and we all know how my attempt to knit socks ended up.

These yoga socks were one of the few enjoyable feet related projects I've crocheted.
Yoga socks for my mom: one of the few enjoyable feet-related projects I’ve crocheted.

I do have several ideas for cute baby booties, though, and the small size means I’m more likely to stay focused.  I did a bit of research this week, looking for different newborn and infant sizing charts.  The favorites I’ve found so far (for feet) are these three from Wendy Knits, Bev’s Country Cottage, and the Craft Yarn Council.

I didn’t have the colors in my stash needed to execute my creative vision, so I also took a trip to Michaels.  It’s strange, but since I’ve started stash busting, my experience of shopping for yarn is totally different.  I spend much more time in the internal debate over each purchase, trying to decide if I really need it.  This now happens even when I’m going there to buy something.  I suppose it’s good, that I’m more thoughtful about bringing yarn into the house, but it can take a lot more time than yarn shopping in the good old stash accumulation days.

Besides researching sizing and buying yarn, I haven’t made much progress on this foot/design challenge.  Instead, I’ve mostly been focused on my next design in the My Mountain contest.  (You can find my first finished design here.)

Here’s the gauge swatch for my second My Mountain design.

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.