Year of Projects, Year 2: New Year, New List

After reviewing my progress in last week’s post, I decided to revise my list for the last half of the Year of Projects.  This may not seem as ambitious as my original list, but for right now it works for me.

I’ve been purposely vague about the exact numbers of projects, etc. because I would like to keep my Year of Projects participation fun and not obligatory!

So without further ado, here’s my new list.

1) Continue to reduce my yarn stash and track my yarn consumption.  I’m an active member of the Surmount the Stash group on Ravelry, but I’m always looking for new ways of tracking my yardage.  I started using KnitMeter yesterday, and I think this will be quite helpful.  I’ve already learned a lot from entering the projects I completed (and didn’t unravel) in 2012!

My goal is to have one less plastic bin of yarn by the end of 2013, so I guess I should be about halfway there by the end of the Year of Projects.  I have no idea what that represents in yardage!

2) Make more projects for myself.  I never seem to focus enough on projects for myself.  I’d like to make myself a pair of crocheted socks and a full winter accessories set (hat, scarf/cowl, and mittens or convertible gloves).  If I could do this by the end of June, I’d be pretty pleased with myself.

3) Learn at least one (hopefully more) new (to me) knitting technique or skill.  Some options I’ve been thinking about are entrelac, efficient use of DPNs (the horror!), circular knitting that starts with a small amount of stitches and increases rather than a large amount of stitches and decreases (like some of the great motifs from Knitting in Circles), and more advanced cast on, bind off, or colorwork methods.

4) Host at least 2 CALs or KALs in my Ravelry group.  I had a lot of fun with the Ripple Mania CAL last year and the Chubby Sheep CAL going on now in the Underground Crafter group.  I’d like to be more organized about how I approach these, though.  Maybe I might even write up a mystery project for a fall CAL…?

5) Donate crocheted (or knitted) projects to charity.  Crochetlist is a Yahoo group that I’ve been involved with on and off for years.  I’ll be hosting the September challenge this year (pet blankets for Bideawee again), and I’d like to donate my own projects to at least one of the other challenges.

Some possible projects are

  • Cotton washcloths and hand towels (a great way to use up some cotton stash) due at the end of April for Mothers and Infants Striving for Success (MISS Inc.), a shelter for women and children.
  • 6″ squares (and I think we all know that I love to make grannies) for Casting Off the Cold  by the beginning of June.  But I’m not sure about the cost of shipping to Canada…

I could also participate in a charity drive through the New York City Crochet Guild or to send some 8″ squares to Sandy for Bridge and Beyond.  And I’m actually hoping to find a charity that accepts crocheted toys.  I know that I can look charities up on Bev’s Charity Links or Lion Brand’s Charity Connection, but if anyone has a suggestion of a US based charity that accepts crocheted toys that don’t need to be made in any particular colors, please let me know!

 

Right now, this list seems incredibly ambitious since I have two samples due next Friday, another one due at the end of the month, and I’ve just volunteered to help out Crochet Happy with her January CAL.  But I’m sure once February arrives, I’ll be amazed at the small size of my list.  I can always add more things to it if need be!

For more Year of Projects posts, visit Come Blog-a-long on Ravelry.

In training!

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My main focus this week has been preparing for the Ravellenic Games, which kick off on Friday during the opening ceremony for the London Olympics.

My personal Herculean effort will be to knit my first pair of socks.  I decided to use a pattern from Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes.  I’m far more comfortable with circular needles than with DPNs.  I think it is generally best to tackle one learning task at a time – this exercise should be about sock structures, shaping, and fit, not about learning to use a different type of needles.  For the same reason, I decided to use a skein of medium weight yarn instead of sock yarn.  When I was attempting to make a gauge swatch with sock yarn, I realized that my dexterity with thin yarn knitting is nearly non-existent.  (Apparently, summer crocheting with thread is not a transferable skill!)

This is a lovely skein of Malabrigo Rios in Primavera, purchased at Knitty City last fall.  This is one of those yarns that looks totally different wound.  I actually love it, though I confess that if I saw it wound in the store, I probably wouldn’t have bought it since the colors are a bit out of my comfort zone.  I chose this yarn for my socks two reasons.  While deciding on my sock pattern, I was skimming through The Knitter’s Book of SocksClara Parkes‘s first “beginner friendly” pattern is made with Malabrigo Rios.  Then I started poking around in Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks and found a few patterns using a heavier weight yarn. Given my clumsiness with thin yarn knitting and the fact that I had a skein in my stash just waiting for a project, it seemed like a wise choice.   I wasn’t sure if one skein would be enough for a pair, though, and I have a good amount of the Glazed Carrot left over from my hat.  Since these are toe up socks, I could always end with orange cuffs if necessary, right?

The famous Glazed Carrot skein.

It’s a bit hard to tell from these pictures, but there is a common orange color in both yarns.

Since this is such a big challenge, I’ve been making those real gauge swatches that are spoken about in books, not the fake ones I generally make :).

Isn’t she pretty?

I’m still fiddling around with needle sizes, but I should have a solid idea of pattern and needle by Friday (I hope).

I also plan to declare a goal for the Modular Relay, but I’m not sure which of the three motif projects I’m currently working on (yikes!) would be the best candidate for this.  I’ll have to decide first before saying how many motifs I plan to make.

As for reading, I’m currently about one-third into How To Love Your Job Or Find A New One by Joanna Penn.  I love her blog, The Creative Penn, and she recently offered her readers the opportunity to get a review copy of the revised edition of this book.  So far, I’m finding it really well written (no surprise, after reading her blog) and filled with actionable advice.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say as I get further into it.   I’ve put down  The Country of the Blind, and Other Stories by H.G. Wells for the moment.

Is anyone else making socks or modular items for the Ravellenic Games?  We can cheer each other on!

For more Works in Progress, visit Tami’s Amis.  For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.

FO Friday: Ribbed Beanie

I got a lot of knitting done during jury duty this week.  (No, I wasn’t on a trial, just sitting in an air conditioned waiting room for a while and then the last juror in the selection room for a longer while so it was obvious I wasn’t ever going to get questioned.)

I finished up this beanie for my cousin for Christmas.  I’m happy to report that I’ve already finished four winter holiday gifts as part of my Holiday Stashdown Challenge.  Yay!

This was a quick knit on size 15 needles.

I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick for the cuff…

… and two strands of Moda Dea Tweedle Dee for the rest of the hat.  This is a great stash buster.  I used a simple 3 by 3 ribbing throughout.  I plan to make something similar for my other cousin (his brother) in a different colorway.  You can see my Ravelry project page here.  I tried it on MC to verify that it would fit a grown man, but I wasn’t able to lure him out into the blazing sun to model for a finished picture.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

Knit & Crochet Design Week, Day 6: Finishing off

(This post is part of my series for Knit and Crochet Design Week 2012.)

Designing a Simple Knit Beanie: Day 6

Today’s Design Week theme is into a pattern.

As you can see, I’m no where near finished with my beanie at this point.

I did decide on a name for this project: the Kwisatz Haderach.

I mentioned before that the stitch pattern, Sandstorm, reminded me of the Dune saga by Frank Herbert.  I read all six of Herbert’s Dune books a few years back and have always been a huge fan of the David Lynch film (although apparently, he hated it).  The Kwisatz Haderach is an important figure in the series, whose eyes are blue from the spice melange and who has the ability to ride sandworms.  I suppose I could have just as easily called this hat “Fremen” but it didn’t seem as cool.

Here’s a close up. You can see that the ribbing moves nicely into the cables.

After I am done with the knitting part, there will be some more finishing to do.  I’ll have to weave in my ends, and if there are any weirdo mistakes (happens a lot when you are knitting on the subway!), I will do what I can to repair them.  Once that is done, I will decide if this is ready to become a pattern.

As I’ve been working, I’ve been keeping track of what I’m doing so that I will have the bare elements needed if I want to transform this project into a pattern.  As Stacey mentioned in her post for today, there are many steps involved before I would share a pattern with the world.  Besides getting the pattern tested, I also have to do editing and proofreading (sometimes called “tech editing”).  There is also the graphics side of things – I would need take awesome pictures of the hat (ideally on a model), and then format the pictures and pattern into a template that I use for my patterns.

I have actually already written up a handout on basic beanie design for my knitting students, which we used in class today.  Another option would be to expand that handout without writing up the pattern.  I will probably not decide what to do until the hat is completely finished.  (At my rate of knitting, that could be while from now!)

I’ve had a lot of fun during Knit and Crochet Design Week, and I hope Stacey hosts another one next year.  I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and watching the ways that different crocheters and knitters design their own projects!

 

To read other Day 6 posts from Knit and Crochet Design Week, visit FreshStitches.

Knit & Crochet Design Week, Day 1: Choose a stitch pattern and yarn

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(This post is part of my series for Knit and Crochet Design Week 2012.)

Designing a Simple Knit Beanie: Day 1

(Note to my readers who don’t knit: Even though my Design Week project is a knit, the steps I’ll walk through are common to knitting and crochet, and I’ll be offering up “crochet translations” throughout this series.)

Today’s Design Week theme is sketches.  I’m not much of an illustrator, in spite of the fact that my dad is a fine artist who had me drawing quite a bit as a child.  For that reason, I start very few design projects with sketching.  I usually go to my friends, the stitch guides, first.

(I have many more crochet stitch guides than knitting stitch guides.  You can read my reviews of crochet stitch guides here and here.)

The Yarn

For this project, though, I actually started out by choosing the yarn.

  • I am not sure if I will keep this hat or use it for a gift, so I looked for a machine washable yarn.  (I hate hand washing, but I’ll do it.  I’m not sure I could say the same about my unknown gift-recipient-to-be.)
  • I’m teaching my ongoing knitting class students how to design a beanie in the round using circular needles.  This hat-in-progress will be used for the next few weeks as a sample for this class.  I try not to teach too many techniques at once because people sometimes get overwhelmed.  Since this project isn’t about colorwork, I decided to pick one, solid color.
  • One of my goals is to Surmount the Stash in 2012, so I wanted a yarn from my own stash.  It was important for me not to run out of yarn during the project, so I looked for something close to a full skein.
  • Most of my students use medium weight yarns, so I wanted my yarn to be medium weight, too.

With these criteria in mind, I dug into my yarn stash and came up with this great skein of Spud and Chloe Sweater in Moonlight (7507).  (Side note: Yes, Sweater is one of my favorite yarns, and my design in the upcoming Fresh Designs in crochet (kids) book from Cooperative Press uses Sweater, too.)

Sometimes, I have a clear idea of who the finished project is for, and then I make more of an effort to pick yarn from a specific color family while keeping fiber preferences in mind.

 

The Stitch Patterns

I usually try to pick out at least three stitch patterns for a new project.  A stitch might be more fussy than what I’m looking for on a particular project, or might look weird with the yarn, or maybe is just way more attractive in the stitch guide photo than in real life!

For this project, I looked for stitches that were worked in one color and textured.

After a little browsing, I came up with three potential stitch patterns:

If my primary goal was to sell the pattern, I might also check out the pattern library on Ravelry at this point to see if there is a project of the same type (in this case, a hat) using a similar stitch pattern.  If I see something similar, I might choose a different stitch pattern to make my project more unique.

I know I’m a lazy swatcher, so I also made sure that all three stitches could be worked on the same swatch.

If you don’t have any stitch guides, you should get one.  (Ba dum dum.)  But seriously folks, there are two online resources I use like stitch guides.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my swatch.

 

To read other Day 1 posts from Knit and Crochet Design Week, visit FreshStitches.