Par Avion

Earlier this week, I came home to this.

Air mail from Canada

I hadn’t recently ordered anything from Canada, so I was puzzled.  However, upon turning it over, I discovered the customs form.

customs form

(In case you’re wondering, there’s almost nothing cooler than seeing the phrase “handknit socks” on a customs form when the temperatures are about 20 degrees below freezing.)

One of my favorite bloggers to follow is Lynn from Minding My Own Stitches.  I was first introduced to her blog when we were both regular participants in the original Year of Projects in 2011-2012.  We were two of the only bloggers who actually worked through a book rather than a series of patterns, though our approaches were quite different.  Also, we’re both members of Surmount the Stash, a group for those in dire need of stashbusting support.

Lynn is an avid sock knitter.  As you may recall, I’m not an avid sock knitter.  I do frequently fantasize about wearing hand knit socks, because they are so darned awesome.  (And I know this from experience, because I have also been the grateful recipient of a fabulous pair of hand knit socks from Underbaragarn on Ravelry, which you can see here.)

Once upon a time, after I lavished praise on one of her recently completed socks, Lynn mentioned she would knit me a pair.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance and instantly emailed her my address. (Or, as MC said when I tried to explain the situation: “So, basically you drove this woman crazy until she would send you a pair of socks to get you to leave her alone???”)  As soon as I saw the customs form, I knew the magic day had arrived.

Vorticity socks

Inside was a gorgeous pair of Vorticity Socks that Lynn knit in Twisted Top Cat by Wandering Cat Yarns, a stunning hand painted yarn by a dyer in her area.  Apparently, making these socks was quite an adventure (you can read about it on her blog here, here, here, and here), so I’m extra thrilled to be the recipient.

As if an amazing pair of socks in beautiful yarn wasn’t enough, Lynn also sent me some other goodies: some very pretty soaps, a foot lotion (so I don’t destroy those socks!), and some wool wash.

Swap goodies

And here is my picture with the socks on ( they fit fabulously, by the way).  I have renewed appreciation for the sock knitting bloggers of the world – feet are strangely hard to photograph!

Marie wearing Vorticity

Thank you, Lynn!

In other Year of Projects news, I’m still trying to come up with something awesome to make during the Ravellenic Games.  I didn’t want the stress of captaining a team, but I think I will offer up some prizes and a crochet/knit-a-long thread in my Ravelry group for anyone using one of my patterns during the games.

As for myself, it seems that whenever I have a ton of work, I develop a bad case of startitis.  Since I’ve recently had several big deadlines at work, I’ve starting thinking of launching an enormous undertaking by designing a whole lot of patterns for another year long knit-a-long for 2015.  I’m thinking that I should challenge myself to design and make samples for 7 designs during the Games.  I can’t tell if that’s a lot, or too little.  (Designing and making a sample for a small project in 2.5 days seems like a lot to me, but is it “a lot” in Olympic proportions?  Probably not.)

At the same time, I feel that I should be crocheting during the Games.  It’s pretty distressing to hear there won’t be a Team Crochet this year, and I want to do my part to support crochet.  And, of course, I can crochet much faster than I can knit.  So another idea would be to start/finish a bunch of crochet projects, like blankets, that would usually take a long time to complete.  Of course, big projects call for big amounts of yarn, which might lead me out into buying more.

Basically, as you can tell, I haven’t yet decided what to do during the Games.  Hopefully, by next Sunday, I’ll have a clearer idea!

Are you joining in the Ravellenic Games?

For more Year of Projects posts, visit this thread on Ravelry.

Year of Projects, Year 2: Slow and steady

This post contains affiliate links.

After a few busy weeks with minimal blogging (and minimal blog reading), I’m happy to return and report that I’ve made progress on my new YOP goals.

I’ve started two projects for myself!

First on the list in my 2013 Temperature Scarf, which is a great stashbuster.  I love that it is a slow project, guaranteed to take at least a year to finish.  (If you’d like to make one, too, check out my free crochet version here or the original free knitting pattern by Honey Nutbrown here).  So far, I’ve crocheted a row for each day in January.

Next is a pair of crocheted socks for me.

Here’s my gauge swatch. This picture shows the yarn color more accurately.

Like the Temperature Scarf, this is also a stashbuster.  In fact, both projects are part of -alongs in the Surmount the Stash group on Ravelry.  I just started the socks this morning, and am working on the cuff.

I’m using the Hello Sunshine pattern by Janet Rehfeldt from More Crocheted Socks: 16 All-New Designs, a cool book my two besties gave me for my birthday.

Since both projects are stashbusters, they are helping me with my other goal, of reducing my stash and tracking my yarn consumption.

I’m happy to report that I also crossed off a goal from my original YOP list. The pineapple shawl that I designed to use with my crochet students, Pineapples for Everyone Shawl, has been published in the Spring, 2013 issue of Crochetvolution.

I’ll be starting a CAL with this pattern in my Ravelry group on February 15.

For more Year of Projects updates, visit Come Blog-A-Long on Ravelry.

Conceptual startitis, or Am I Crazy?

It’s usually when I have obligatory projects with looming deadlines that I suddenly have the urge to begin new projects.  My current case of startitis revolves around two projects for me: a pair of socks and a conceptual knitting project, my 2013 Crocheted Temperature Scarf.

The backstory: While procrastinating on Sunday night, I came across the this thread on Ravelry discussing Kristen Cooper‘s My Year in Temperature – Scarf.  (You can find the pattern recipe on Kristen’s blog, Honey Nutbrown’s handcrafted and old fashioned, Northern living).  I first became interested in conceptual knitting when I read about Lea Redmond‘s Sky Scarf last year.  Since we are so close to the beginning of the year, I thought why not jump in?

I scanned the web to find out the temperature range in New York City last year.  It seemed like there was a 90 degree range, from about 10 degrees to about 100 degrees.

Then I looked through my stash for colors that *may* work together.  And here’s where you come in :).  I found 7 possible yarns.  These are all medium weight superwash wools that I like.  The colors are different, but, I think, harmonious.

The potential yarns, arranged in temperature order. The colors are pretty accurate on my screen, except for the final yarn. It is more blue.

You see, as much as I want to be more confident about color, I’m still a bit of a color wimp.  I think that since most of these colors are somewhat muted, they will come together.  But I might just be crazy.  What do you think?

Whether or not I end up using these actual yarns, I’ve done the rest of the legwork.

I've divided up the temperature ranges for each of 7 colors.

I also recorded the temperatures for the first few days of the month.  I’m now searching out a crochet stitch pattern (you didn’t think I was actually going to knit a 365 row scarf, did you?).  In a perfect world, I’ll use a stitch pattern that allows me to start with the same number of stitches as my age this year.  I think that would make an even cooler conceptual project.

Once I knew I was going to crochet, I identified a hook that I was willing to take out of commission for an entire year – my trusty Boye size J hook.  I picked the yellow one because it is an outlier – it has a matte finish while all my other Boye hooks are shiny.

My final decision will be whether or not to include the rows of white that Kristen recommends.  I don’t have an appropriate skein in my stash and I don’t feel compelled to buy yarn for this scarf.  More importantly, I think that white will be pretty harsh against these mostly subdued colors.  Do you think the white is necessary?

The other project I’ve been thinking about instead of the deadline projects I’m supposed to be working on is a pair of crocheted socks for me.  These socks came into being through a combination of trying to get over my failed attempt to knit a pair of socks last year, and looking for a good stashbusting project for me.  Also, I wanted to join in the first sockalong in the Surmount the Stash group on Ravelry.

The yarn I plan to use: a skein of Regia Design Line Hand-dye Effect by Kaffe Fassett I received in a swap. It's more purple in real life.

I have a few potential patterns in mind, but I plan to swatch for each and then pick the one that seems like it will fit me the best.

As for reading, I’m almost through The Sentinel by Arthur C. Clarke.  I’m really enjoying it thus far.  It’s a collection of short stories, mostly from early in Clarke’s career, and each story starts with an introduction from him. The one downside is that some of the Kindle formatting seems a bit off.

I suppose it is my first book in the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge.

I set a goal of reading 65 books this year.  According to Goodreads, I read 61 books last year.  The problem (to me) is that only 16 were “real books” and the rest were needlecrafts books.  This year, I’d like to read 20 regular books and 45 crafty books.  Let’s see how I do!

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

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?

Year of Projects, Year 2: Spinning, Take 1

This post contains affiliate links.

I had a bit of a cliffhanger in my last Year of Projects update (you might have missed it since it was hidden between pictures of yarn): would I be able to take the Basic Dropspindling class at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival? It turns out that there was room for me.  But, um…  well, you can be the judge.

Is that what you call handspun?

Clearly, I have a long way to go before I can actually spin some yarn that anyone (myself included) would ever use.  While I did resist the urge to buy a stunningly beautiful hand made drop spindle from Hearthwise, I couldn’t stop myself from getting some super cool roving.  You know, for that day when I’m an accomplished spinner and stuff.

Yum.

So from here on out, I’ll be relying on these spinning teachers: Abby Franquemont (via Respect the Spindle) and Maggie Casey (via Start Spinning).

If these don’t help, there’s always Drucilla Pettibone‘s Craftsy class.  I think spinning is something I’ll need to set aside a fair amount of time for (since a 90 minute class was definitely not enough!).  That probably means that my next self-guided spinning lesson will take place over Thanksgiving weekend or the break from work between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This seems as good a time as any to share an update on my general YOP progress so far.

1) Crochet 52 granny squares for charity. I’m furthest along here.  I have 25 blocks finished (I made 26 but one was frogged).

2) Knit my first complete pair of socks.  It appears I’m not a sock person.  My socks have stalled since the end of the Ravellenic Games.

3) Make my mom a special bedspread for her milestone birthday.  I might need a little help here.  I already started working on these squares … and then I realized there’s a Tree of Life crochet pattern.  I started thinking maybe I should switch to a Tree of Life project?  What do you think?  (If it helps you decide, the yarn is a little more cream and less yellow than it appears in the picture.)

4) Learn to spin.  See above for update.

5) Design my own Bruges lace pattern. Done!  I released Visit to the Kantcentrum this week.  If you’ve never done Bruges lace crochet before, there is a photo tutorial inside.  As a thank you to all my YOP friends for your support, you can download it for free on Ravelry with coupon code BrugesYOP (or by following this link) through October 31.

Visit to the Kantcentrum, a Bruges lace crochet pattern with a photo tutorial for newbies.

6) Learn overlay crochet. No progress yet.

7) Create my own hairpin lace pattern.  No progress yet.

8 ) Try double knitting. No progress yet.

9) Try domino (modular) knitting. I’ve looked over the book, and even had a false start.  Perhaps I should make a charity domino square?

10) Make a small project inspired by Pop Knitting: Bold Motifs Using Color & Stitch.  No progress yet.

11) Learn knit entrelac. No progress yet.

12) Design a crochet lace shawl pattern or recipe for my DC 37 crochet class students.  As I’ve mentioned before, this is actually finished.  The design has even been tested and edited.  You’ll just have to wait until it is ready for release…

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

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.