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

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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?

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?

 

 

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?

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?

2012 Year in Review: Charity projects and crafting for a cause

This year, I donated more projects and patterns to charity (and causes) than I have for quite a long time.

I started off 2012 by making 6″ granny squares.  I sent off 40 to Binky Patrol in May as part of the Crochetlist charity challenge.

26 6″ granny squares.

In June, I hosted the charity challenge for Crochetlist on behalf of Bideawee‘s Manhattan Adoption Center.  I created a pattern e-book, 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets, and I donate all of the profits from its sale to animal welfare organizations.  So far, I’ve raised over $180 for Bideawee and the Humane Society of New York!

I also collected about 70 pet blankets for Bideawee.

In August, my very first knitting pattern was published in support of the 2013 Knotty Knitters for Autism calendar.  You can read my interview with Marsha Cunningham, the organizer, here.  (And calendars are still available for sale here.)

In the fall, I made two hats and also donated a scarf to the Hats 4 the Homeless drive hosted by Lion Brand Yarn Studio.

The Studio’s November window was all about crafting for charity.

This year, I made a strong effort to destash.  In addition to using up yarn for new charity projects, this also meant rummaging through my bins for existing projects and yarn to donate.  In September, I donated a bunch of yarn to the Roosevelt Yarnies and Knitters and Crocheters Care.

And in December, I mailed off 6 hats, 5 scarves, and 2 cowls I crocheted in years gone by to the Oyate Teca Project, a charity I found through the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation.  I also included this wool scarf I made in 2012.

I sent out a very big bear I crocheted in 2008 to a drive for the children of Newtown, CT that I read about on FreshStitches.

I’m not sure why I crocheted an enormous bear (other than because I wanted to try out the pattern at the time), but I’m hopeful that he’s found a better home than squished into a plastic bin in my apartment.

I also packed up 60 (!) granny squares to send to Afghan Squares for Pine Ridge.  These included the charity squares I made as part of the second Year of Projects and a bunch of squares I found hiding in a yarn bin during the summer.  I will mail these out by the end of the week.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up this much charity crafting next year (especially since a many of my donations were actually crocheted years ago), but I’m glad I was able to help out this much in 2012.

I also started a Pinterest board of charities that accept handmade donations, in case you are looking for places to donate.

Do you have a favorite crochet or knit charity or charity project?