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.

A Swap A Month July Goody Box Swap

Just because it isn’t July yet doesn’t mean that I haven’t already sent and received my July Goody Box Swap!  I joined A Swap A Month on Ravelry when the July swap was still taking sign ups.  My partner is carajv, who seems to be my twin in opposite world.  She has been knitting since childhood and just picked up crochet, whereas I’m the opposite.  She also raises sheep, which is one of my life fantasies.  (I say fantasy because I actually know nothing about raising sheep, so I couldn’t possibly even consider it as a dream at this point in time.)  We messaged back and forth on Ravelry and I was so excited about getting her package together, that I basically ran out and bought everything within a few days and mailed my package in mid-June!  I hope this didn’t create too much pressure for carajv, whose package to me arrived on Thursday night.

(Note to self: Wrap your next swap as well as carajv wrapped this one!)

I started by opening the note.

I love the stationery!

Then it was on to the smaller package.

The first package included a skein of Austermann Step in Colorway 003, 4 dpns, and two patterns.  The first, Laura’s Sockies by Laura Grutzeck is from Rosie Knits, the pattern line of Rosie’s Yarn Cellar.  Rosie’s is one of the shops I visited during my whirlwind LYS tour of Philadelphia.  The next pattern is Wristers by Kathleen Taylor.  I just reviewed her latest book here.  It seems like carajv has been very observant!

The second package was very squishy and I knew from reading the card it would have handspun yarn from carajv’s sheep.


This package included two yummy skeins of yarn, each weighing in at over 100 grams.  The color is a beautiful, undyed cream.  The yarn is ultra soft, and I really can’t wait to get it wound into cakes!  As if that wasn’t enough, carajv also included a little bag with some super cute notions – a stitch holder and cupcake stitch markers – as well as a pencil and 5 Hiya Hiya dpns.  There were two great patterns in this package, too!

Perhaps this swap will help me get over my fear? hatred? of double pointed needles.  Or, perhaps not ;).  But either way, I have some amazing yarn, cool notions, and great patterns to play with!

Knitting design books, and week of giveaways, day 5

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I’m sure my readers who primarily knit have been asking themselves, “When is our giveaway coming?”  So today’s post is dedicated to all you knitters out there!

One of the reasons I retaught myself to knit was to take advantage of the many great books available to knitters on clothing and sweater design.  For some reason, there are very few crochet books focused on sweater and clothing design.  Since Lily Chin released Couture Crochet Workshop in 2006, I have seen a few crochet books here and there which talk about fitting and sweater or clothing design, but most of these books still emphasize pattern alteration rather+ than design from scratch.  (I do hear that Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments that Really Fit by Dora Ohrenstein, due out in January, 2012, will be awesome.)  Since I started knitting again, I have slowly been collecting the various books that I’ve been hearing about from knitters about over the years.

I haven’t actually read these books, so I can’t give them a full review.  But I have perused through them and can provide some descriptions.  Eventually, I hope to read them all and apply my learnings to both knitting and crochet.

Aran Sweater Design by Janet Szabo

This book is organized into three sections.  The first, “Aran Background and Fundamentals,” is a primer on Aran sweaters, various types of cables, different layouts, and knitting tips.  The second, “Constructing an Aran,” reviews different construction and sleeve types including bottom up, top down, dropped shoulder, peasant sleeves, set-in s  sleeves, raglan sleeves, vests, t-sleeves, and wide saddle.  The last section, “Aran Sweater Projects,” includes patterns.

The book is mostly in black and white, with color photographs of the projects.  There are knitting charts, many illustrations, and “decision points” in the steps of each of the construction methods.  From the little that I’ve read, Szabo seems to write in a conversational tone, like a mentor explaining something to you.  The retail price is $24.95 and it is available from Szabo’s Blue Sky Knitting as well as the major book retailers.

Designing Knitwear by Deborah Newton

I have the 1992 edition.

This book has eight chapters.  “Learning to See” has some interesting photos of vintage knitwear.  “Designing with Yarn” reviews properties of different yarns and seasonality, and provides tips on swatching, estimating yarn needs, and charting a pattern.  “Fit & Silhouette” focuses on taking measurements, ease, and choosing structure, sleeves, and neckline.  There are small sections on designing for a full figure and for maternity wear.  “Designing with Knit & Purl” explores different patterned stitches, how to arrange repeats, and edgings and trims.  “Color & Graphics” reviews different types of colorwork.  “The Comfortable Classics” includes a gallery of classics (e.g., Chanel suit, Matador, etc.) and gives some sketching tips.  “Themes & Samplers” has tips on slip stitch and twisted stitch patterns, cables, bobbles, eyelets and lace, motifs, and beaded and embroidered embellishments.  “Dressmaker Details & Finishing” explores different silhouettes (e.g., trapeze, princess, etc.), shaping techniques, creating patterns, collars, lapels, pockets, cuffs, and finishing techniques.

This book looks like a textbook – my edition is hard cover and text heavy, with great historic photos and ample illustrations.  Each chapter after “Learning to See” includes a section called “Swatch Project and Designer Notebook” and at least one garment pattern with a “What If…?” exploring different options.  From looking through it, the book seems like a self-study/correspondence course with assignments that would turn you into a solid designer by the time you complete it.  The 1998 edition retails at $24.95.

Design Your Own Knits in 5 Easy Steps by Debbie Abrahams

This book is organized into steps (as the title suggests).  Step 1, “Inspiration, Stitches and Yarn,” emphasizes the personal nature of inspiration and includes photos of nature, a review of color and colorwork, different types of stitch textures, embellishments, and yarn. Step 2, “Ideas onto Paper,” focuses on using graph paper, gauge, scale, pattern repeats, converting measurements, and planning the design.  Step 3, “Knitting a Swatch,” is all about the importance of swatching, gauge, and making adjustments.  Step 4, “Mapping out the Design,” reviews body measurements, basic construction types, schematics, and measuring for accessories.  Step 5, “Getting Knitting,” discusses the calculating yarn amounts, writing up your patterns, and different shapes (for scarves, blankets, cushions, bags, hats, socks, slipovers, sweaters, jackets/cardigans, and straight skirts), necklines, and collars.  This section has instructions for each shape, neckline, and collar, written out in smaller font than the rest of the book, and sizing charts.  The book also includes 48 pages of knitting graph paper.

This book is relatively light on text and has many vibrant and colorful pictures.  It seems geared towards visual learners.  The retail price is $17.95.

Knitting from the Top by Barbara G. Walker

The book is organized around 12 basic designs: Classic Raglan Pullover, Classic Raglan Cardigan, Seamless Cape, Seamless Skirt, Reversible Pants, Sleeveless Sweater, Seamless Set-In Sleeve, Seamless Saddle Shoulder, Kimono Sleeve, Square-Set or Peasant Sleeve, Dropped-Shoulder Ski Sweater, and Classic Cap.

There are a handful of black and white photographs but illustrations and schematics of each design.  From the little I have read, the tone is very conversational.  It seems like having a great teacher sitting next to you while you are working on a project.  I especially like the “pause” and “continue” prompts at various points within each design.  The book retails at $20 and can be purchased directly from Schoolhouse Press, as well as major book retailers.

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd

The subtitle of this book is “Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges.”  It’s basically a sweater recipe book.  The designs included are Drop-Shoulder Sweaters, Modified Drop-Shoulder Sweaters, Set-In Sleeve Sweaters, Saddle-Shoulder Sweaters, Raglan Sweaters, and Seamless Yoke Sweaters.  Each design includes guidelines for creating that style of sweater in child and adult sizes based on a stockinette gauge of 3-7 stitches/inch, and a cardigan variation.  There are also tips for several variations of ribbing, necklines, edgings, and waist shaping throughout the book.  There are some additional patterns (“copy cats”) in each chapter.

This book seems like the intermediary between following patterns and completely creating your own designs.  It talks you through the number of stitches to cast on, when to shape armholes, sleeves, etc.  But there is also design advice sprinkled throughout.  It also has a great book design.  It is a hardcover, spiral-bound book so it lays flat, and it includes an elastic marker to keep your place.  There’s also a pocket in the back where presumably you would keep notes.  There are many full color photos and each pattern sample is photographed on a model.  The retail price is $26.95 and you can purchase it directly from Interweave Press or through other book retailers.

Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti with Terri Shaw

I have the first edition, from 1990.

This book is organized into two parts.  Part I, “Before You Begin,” covers yarn, body shapes, measurements (with very detailed and frequent illustrations), pattern stitches, color, estimating yarn, and gauge.  There is a fair amount of discussion about the way in which the yarn, the stitches, and the design combine to flatter the wearer.  For you math-phobic people out there, the book has a 14 page chapter called “Understanding the Arithmetic of Knitting.”  Part 2, “Doing It – The Actual Designs,” includes chapters on different designs – The “T” Topper; The “Da Vinci Man” Sweater; The Puff-Sleeved Boatnecked Beauty; A V-Neck Pullover Vest; A Cabled, Classic, Crew-Necked Long-Sleeved Pullover; A Cardigan Jacket; A Child’s Raglan Turtleneck; A Timeless Adult Raglan Cardigan; All-in-One-Piece-from-the-Neck-Down-Pullover; A Coat of Many Colors; The True Batwing Sweater; Icelandic Yoked Pullover; Traditional Aran Fisherman Sweaters; and Diagonal Sweaters.  There are additional chapters on sleeves, necklines and colors, and “interesting effects” like stripes, different colored cables, etc.

This book seems very informal (the sweater design names give a hint of that) and chatty, and there are some personal stories peppered throughout.  It seems to have more information on the math than other books, even going so far as to include “fill in” problems.  There are some black and white photographs and many illustrations.  I’m not sure what is different in the new edition because I haven’t checked it out yet, but it retails at $24.95.

Sweater Workshop: Knit Creative, Seam-Free Sweaters on Your Own with Any Yarn by Jacqueline Fee

I have the 1983 edition.

This book takes a different approach from the rest, by walking the reader through a sampler – basically a sleeve sized project that teaches many skills including different methods for casting on and binding off, stripes, short rows, button holes, increasing and decreasing, stripes, cables, pockets, and hems.  The first section focuses on the sampler with illustrations, photos, and detailed directions.  The next section, “Equip Yourself,” is all about yarn, needles, and other tools.  The third section, “Unravel Your Thinking,” briefly explores construction and gauge.  The fourth section, “The Basic Sweater,” walks through a sweater design adapted from Elizabeth Zimmerman.  This section includes a formula page (“the Gauge Page”), which can be adapted for different gauges and measurements.  The final section, “The Sweater Variations,” covers different necklines, cardigans, sleeves, and accessories.

The edition I have includes a small insert with color photos of completed projects and is spiral bound so it lays flat to allow reading and knitting.  I would describe the writing style as casual instructional (e.g., “You will now be working back and forth on the needle”).  I like the idea of the sampler since taking on a full sweater is a pretty large project if you don’t feel confident in the design and/or your skills.  There are several newer editions, and I’m not sure how similar or different they are from my version.  The second edition retails at $25.95 and can be purchased directly from Down East or through major book retailers.

What’s your favorite sweater/garment design book for knitting or crochet?

The Giveaway

Now that you are all fired up about designing that sweater you’ve always dreamed of…

Today’s giveaway is a knitting supply kit including:

All items in the kit are brand new in their original packages.