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?

FO Friday: My first ever knitting pattern and an interview with Marsha Cunningham

I’m really excited to unveil my very first finished knitting pattern, the Sandworm’s Journey Beanie, today.  The pattern is part of a collection for charity to support the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar, so I thought it would be fitting to share an interview with Marsha Cunningham, the founder of the Knotty Knitters for Autism.  I’ll start with my interview and then share more details about the pattern.

The Knotty Knitters calendar features women of all ages posing tastefully au naturale with some of their handmade creations.  You can find the Knotty Knitters for Autism online on Facebook and Ravelry.  Marsha can be found on Ravelry as marshaknits or through her Etsy shop.

The Interview

Ms. September (Marsha Cunningham) from the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started knitting?

Marsha: I got started knitting when I took a two week class at Rhodes Department Store in Tacoma,WA.  I was eleven years old.  My girlfriend was taking the class so my sister and I camped on.  I am the only one who continued and took it to the next level.

After that, there was no stopping me.  My next project was a V-neck sweater and then socks for my dad.  I didn’t know much about gauge then. I knit the socks on a #4 needle.  My dad wore them once, but they were too thick for his shoes.  They were really nice with cables.  I took to wearing them as sleep socks from the time I was about 13 to my second year of marriage when my husband asked me to quit wearing them to bed.  LOL.

 

Ms. May (Barbara Weber) and Fluffy from the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar, wearing Quincy by Jared Flood in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick.

UC: You’re an active member of a local knitting group in Tacoma.  What is it like to be involved with a knitting group, and what suggestions do you have for people who are considering joining one?

Marsha: I belong to Tacoma Knitters and we meet every Wednesday from 2:30-4:00pm at Fibers, ETC.  It is an informal group.  We help out where necessary, show our projects, etc. We have lots of fun and lots of laughs.

We have one rule….no religion or politics!  (UC comment: I think this rule explains why you have lots of fun and laughs!)

 

The ladies of March (Liz Tekus, owner of Fine Points Yarn; Becca Smith, owner of bagsmith.com; and Susan Thompson, employee at both companies) from the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar, wrapped in a Big Stitch afghan.

UC: What is the inspiration behind the original Knotty Knitters for Autism calendar?

Marsha: My grandchildren, Mollee May and Josef Andrew, fraternal twins aged 9 were the inspiration for the calendar.  They both have autism. Mollee is mainstreamed in school as of last year at Skyline and Josef goes to a special class at Franklin elementary.  Mollee and Josef both manifest their symptoms differently.  Mollee still has “meltdowns” and a little echolalia (repeating words and sentences).  Josef does not speak although he is trying very hard.  He spins pieces of paper incessantly.  Both children tend to wander off if not watched continuously.

 

Ms. June (Zoe Weber) from the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar, wearing crocheted granny square shorts.

UC: Tell us about the process of finding designers and models to work with you for this year’s calendar.

Marsha: It was a little difficult find models for the calendar.  (UC comment: It takes a brave knitter or crocheter to bare all for charity!)  Some people say they will and then are no shows.  So this year, I planned for some extras and had just right amount.  The one requirement is that they be able to knit.  We met Becca Smith of the Bagsmith.com at STITCHES last year.  She brought 3 models with her.  Three are returning models, 1 is the granddaughter of another model, 1 is from the Puyallup Knitting Guild, and 2 are from Ravelry.

Designers were a whole lot easier to find.  I had met some on various knitting trips I had been on, some responded to the article in Yarn Market News, and some I just asked.  (UC comment: You can download the patterns donated to the Knotty Knitters here.)

 

 

Ms. October (Ola Leonard Kersely) from the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar, modeling an afghan she made to donate for auction.

UC: How can people help support the project?

Marsha: You can help support the project by purchasing a calendar and/or by purchasing raffle tickets for the afghan that Ms. October is wearing and that she knit.  (UC comment: You can purchase the pattern here for $20 + $5 shipping.  To purchase raffle tickets, which are $1 each or $5 for a book of six, email Marsha at marsha AT marshasells DOT com.  The drawing is scheduled for December 15, 2012.)

 

UC: What are your have any favorite crafty website/blogs to visit for knitting inspiration?

Marsha: I visit Ravelry every morning to view the new knit patterns and I get lots of emails from yarn stores.  I also subscribe to Vogue Knitting, Knit Simple, and Rowan magazines.

 

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Marsha!

 

The Pattern

I read about the Knotty Knitter’s project in Yarn Market News last year, and I immediately contacted Marsha about contributing a pattern.  At the time, I had no idea what this pattern would be.  Oh, and I had never written a knitting pattern ;).  Marsha was very flexible and allowed the designers complete creative freedom in creating a pattern.  Although this freedom was wonderful, I was overwhelmed by all the ideas I was thinking up in my mind and I didn’t start on the project for months.

But then, March rolled around, and Stacey at FreshStitches announced Knit and Crochet Design Week.  Designing is usually an isolated experience for me, so I decided to try my hand at designing with moral support.  The first version of this design was born.

From the beginning, the stitch pattern reminded me of the trail of a sandworm, the creatures who feature so prominently in the Dune series by Frank Herbert.  The yarn I was using was a rich blue, like the eyes of the Fremen and Paul Muad’Dib, and so I called the project Kwisatz Haderach.  Ultimately, I wasn’t very satisfied with the decrease pattern and I ended up ripping back the project since it didn’t have an intended recipient.

In April, during Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, I uncovered this wonderful orange yarn in my stash.

I was inspired to restart the design, and the orange yarn allowed me to maintain my Dune theme because it’s the same color as the desert planet of Arrakis.  I finished the sample at the end of May, and shared it with the world in early June.  Not only am I able to share the pattern to support a great cause, but I got to use up some stash and finish a gift from my holiday crafting list early.

The finished hat, from the back.

You can download the PDF pattern on Ravelry.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

Year of Projects, Year 2: Ravellenics and Unveiling the Motif

This post contains affiliate links.

This week I made progress towards two of my most challenging YOP goals.

My sister and I were able to decide on a motif for my mom’s milestone birthday blanket.

(Ignore the fold. It got a bit rumpled in my bag.)

We both had a really hard time choosing a motif, so I made a hybrid.  My hybrid pattern uses the center and final row from Afghan #9 by Valerie Vandergriff with the cluster-y inner border from Crown Jewels by Melinda Miller.

You can see how the first Afghan #9 and Crown Jewels motif patterns relate to the final motif.

I picked the yarn, Cascade 220 Superwash, and my sister picked the color, Banana Cream.

Photo from Cascade Yarns website.

I special ordered a whole bunch of it from my LYS, Knitty City.  I know that the top of the bedspread will be in this color and with this pattern, but I’m still deciding on whether the side drops will be in the same color and pattern.  I’m going to wait until the 42 squares I need are finished and joined before even thinking about borders :).

And now we interrupt this blog post with a customer service rant.  You may remember that Knitty City is my favorite NYC yarn shop.  I have five stories from this week to demonstrate why!  My week started out on a high note – I was able to easily put in my special yarn order to Knitty City via email, and I received all responses via email in a timely fashion.  This shows that the folks at Knitty City are not only responsive but also that they understand that if you send an email, you would likely prefer an email (not phone) response.

I spent most of the week in training for the Ravellenic Games, and I wanted to get a set of size 1 40″ circular needles in case I wasn’t able to get gauge with the needles I had at home.  I had four bad customer service experiences at four different Manhattan yarn shops while trying to get a set of needles!

With size 2 needles, I was at 7.5 stitches per inch, and I was hoping for 8.
  1. I stopped at a new-to-me LYS after work on Tuesday.  I arrived in the store to see three women knitting away feverishly in complete, perhaps tension-filled, silence.  One looked up and said to let her know if I needed any help.  The shelves were a mess and only partially full, and with all three women sitting on the same side of the table, it wasn’t easy to get access to the patterns located behind them.  (I wasn’t looking for patterns, but you get my point.)  There were very few notions in stock, but I decided to pick up some needle point protectors anyway.  (Side note: I come from a family of entrepreneurs and run a small business myself, so I really try to support small businesses when possible.)  It was only at this point that I realized that all three women actually worked there.  When I mentioned I was looking for a specific needle size, no one offered to order it for me.
  2. After work on Wednesday, I decided to stop by a different LYS that usually has a broad selection of needle sizes.  I didn’t see any 40″ circulars in the display, so I asked if they had size 1 in stock.  After being asked about what type of needle I wanted (wood, metal, etc.), they realized they didn’t have any size 1 needles anyway.  Again, no one asked if I would like them to order it for me and by now I was getting really down.
  3. I called a third LYS in another neighborhood and they told me they did have size 1 needles in stock.  Unfortunately, due to commuting times, I wasn’t able to get there before closing.  I decided to stop by the next day (Thursday), and went by about 25 minutes before their listed closing time.  The shop was closed with the gate pulled down.  And, of course, there was no sign indicating they had closed early.
  4. On Thursday morning, I had also emailed a fourth shop to see if they had size 1 needles in stock.  After receiving no response by Friday morning, I stopped by this shop after running errands.  The clerk asked, “Didn’t you call yesterday?” to which I responded that I had sent an email.  Even though she knew someone was looking for this particular size, the woman didn’t know if the needles were in stock.  So I waited while she looked through several disorganized piles of needles before determining there weren’t any in stock.  Again, no one asked if I would like to order this size.  And, about two hours after I got home, they left a voice mail in response to my email saying the needles weren’t in stock.

After all of this, I figured size 1 needles must be extremely rare.  With only the slightest of hope, I dropped by Knitty City on the way home.  Not only was I treated warmly, but there were FOUR different brands of size 1 40″ needles for me to choose from.  I guess the moral of the story is just go to Knitty City every time and don’t even bother with the other places!

And now back to my YOP post :).  I did end up needing the size 1 needles to get gauge.  I finally chose the Graphic pattern from Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes.  My thought process went this way: according to The Knitter’s Book of Socks, I should have at least 10% negative ease for the circumference of my sock.  After convincing MC to measure our feet based on the chart in The Sock Knitter’s Handbook, this pattern seemed to be the right size.  And, with my brand new needles, I was able to get the right gauge!

Unfortunately, my first several attempts at making this sock were disastrous.  Let’s just say the combination of poor lighting in my apartment, the small needle size, and my lack of familiarity with knitting socks led to a few issues.  Yesterday I restarted and things seem to be going much better now (perhaps because I have knit this very same section four times already?).

Not much to show for several hours of knitting…
…but at least it looks like a toe!

I’m not too confident that I’ll finish this pair before the end of the Ravellenic Games, but I really hope I do.  Because I have the feeling that if I don’t, these will sit as a WIP until the 2014 Ravellenic Games.

I also forgot to declare how many motifs I wanted to make for the Games, so I couldn’t participate in the Modular Relay :(.  Instead, I dug out stash wool that is over 1 year old, and decided to make more squares for the felted wool blanket I’m making for myself as part of the stashbusting event.  I finished these three yesterday.

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: We now return to our regularly scheduled blog post

Last week, I had a technical problem on my blog and I didn’t get to share two finished projects that I’m pretty excited about.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m the sponsor for Crochetlist‘s June charity challenge.  I’m organizing a collection of pet blankets that will be donated to Bideawee for Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat month.  I’ve sponsored charity challenges on Crochetlist in the past, but this time I wanted to do something extra.  So back in April, I started swatching.  A lot.  My idea was to release an e-book including 30 crochet stitch patterns that work especially well for pet blankets.  (Just in case someone was moved to make one blanket each day during the month.)

Twenty-one wonderful Ravelers tested these patterns during April and May, and I was able to self-publish 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets on time.  I’m donating all of the profits (excluding the fees from Craftsy, Etsy, PayPal, and/or Ravelry) to Bideawee, and I’m happy to report that I’ve already raised more than I expected in the first week.  The e-book includes 20 crochet and 10 Tunisian crochet stitch patterns, which can, of course, be used for other types of projects.  If you like crochet stitch guides or are passionate about treating animals humanely, please check it out!

A selection of stitches included in 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets.

My other finished project was actually a restart of the cabled knit hat I started designing in March during Knit and Crochet Design Week.

The original.

I wasn’t satisfied with the decreases on this version, so I decided to restart the design by making another version as an eventual holiday gift for my friend, JP, as part of my Holiday Stashdown Challenge.

I really like how this version came out.

My friend is really an “orange person,” so I think she will love it.

It was unseasonably warm (over 90 degrees) on the day I modeled this hat..

The pattern is just finishing up testing, and it will be included in a charity calendar.  It’s the first knitting pattern I’ve written, and I’m excited that my debut is supporting a great cause.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.