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?

Competitive stashbusting

This post contains affiliate links.

My focus since Friday has been on busting stash with Ravellenic Games projects.  So far, I’ve made a lot of progress towards finishing another ribbed beanie for my Holiday Stashdown Challenge.

I just started decreasing for the crown.

I’m using two strands of Moda Dea Tweedle Dee, a discontinued, self-striping, bulky yarn, and size 15 circular needles.  This will be sort of a companion to this ribbed beanie I finished a few weeks ago.  I have two male cousins (brothers), and I’m sort of sure who is getting what, but not 100% decided yet.

I’m making very slow progress on my first pair of knitted socks.

I’ve found that the metal needles in the small size are bothering my hands.  I’m going to try and get a wood or bamboo set today after work and see if that helps me move a little faster.

I’m still reading How To Love Your Job Or Find A New One by Joanna Penn.  So far, I’m finding it really helpful.  If I can drag myself away from the Ravellenics for a little more time this week, I will probably be able to finish it and share a review.

For more works in progress, visit Tami’s Amis.  For more Yarn Along posts, visit Small Things.

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!

This post contains affiliate links.

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.

Year of Projects, Year 2: Decisions

 This post contains affiliate links.

This week,  I auditioned six more motifs for my mom’s milestone birthday blanket.  I made each sample with stash yarn, and I’m happy to report that I’m almost to the bottom of one of my plastic yarn tubs!

This is my version of Duckbill Dalliance by Margaret MacInnis.  I like this motif a lot, but I don’t think I will be using it for my mom’s bedspread.

I found this great motif, M-6, in a vintage crochet book I have, Crochet and Creative Design by Annette Feldman.  I bought this book after interviewing Kathryn from Crochet Concupiscence.  I made my version in a self-striping yarn.  I love it, but it is definitely too openwork for a full bedspread.

Then I moved on to Afghan #9 by Valerie Vandergriff from Contest Favorites Afghan Squares. Because I plan to donate this square to charity, I made it 12″ so my version includes a few extra rounds.  This motif is definitely in the running for my mom’s bedspread.

And finally, I had to try out the Monet Pineapple, one of my all-time favorite motifs.  This was designed by Janie Herrin and appears in 100 Afghans to Knit & Crochet.  I also added a few rounds to my version.  This brings my charity square total up to 14 out of my YOP2 goal of 52!

At this point, I was ready to make a decision.  (Ok, I wasn’t actually ready to make the decision, but I was ready to stop making more samples!)  But then, I got an email from my sister.  You see, I had sent her the link to the Pinterest board of patterns I set up a few weeks ago, and she just got around to reading it this week.  Naturally, she thought two patterns that I hadn’t even tried yet were the perfect choices for my mom’s bedspread, so I made samples of those, too!

This is the Lacy Square Motif by Crochet Atelier.  (Side note: This is the first time I followed an entire pattern on my Kindle Fire.  It wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be, and I saved some printer ink and recycled paper!)  If I were to use this motif, I would adjust the center part of the pattern so that the circle and the petals were a bit smaller – I suspect that my chains are much larger than those of the designer.

This is the Super Cable Aran Spiral Bedspread by Flora Yang.  This pattern might also need a little adjustment if I were to use it for the final project.

My plan now is to send pictures of all the possible motifs to my sister for a final decision.  Then I will purchase the yarn and get started.

And that brings me to my next set of decisions.  You may recall that one of my YOP2 goals is to participate in the 2012 Ravellenic Games.  The kick off is the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday at 4 p.m. Eastern time.  There are a few things that I need to do before then:

  • Choose a sock pattern.  My main goal is to complete my first pair of knit socks during the Ravellenic Games.  I think I’ll be using the Austermann Step Sock yarn I received in the July Goodie Box Swap.  These will be entered in the sock put event.

    The yarn, along with DPNs and patterns that were included in the swap.
  • Make (at least one) gauge swatch.  I want to make sure I have the right needles available before casting on Friday.
  • Decide if I’ll be entering the modular relay.  If so, I’ll need to decide whether I’ll be competing with charity squares or motifs for my mom’s bedspread or motifs for a scrap blanket for me.  (That’s right, I want to make even more blankets!)  I will need to declare a number of motifs, which will naturally be based on the project I’m working on for this competition.
  • Choose a team (or teams).  This has been the toughest part for me.  Normally, I would enter a crochet-focused team, like Team Crochet, but that seems strange if my main project is knitting.  (Although, apparently, I can enter more than one team.)  If anyone reading is also participating in the Ravellenic Games, do you have any team suggestions for me?
Suddenly, I’m feeling very tired ;).  I may also try and make another stash yarn hat to cross-compete in the Hat Dash, Holiday Hurdles, and Synchronized Stash Busting events.  I can just decide to do this as I go along, so there is no stress about this possibility.  I should hopefully have some great updates for next week’s post!
For more Year of Projects posts, visit Come Blog-a-Long on Ravelry.