Announcing the Scraptastic Shawl(ette) with Crochet Button Spring Cleaning CAL!

blog Scraptastic CAL Button

If you’re like me, you are in a constant battle with your stash. My Scraptastic Shawlette with Crochet Button is the perfect stashbuster, and it can easily be resized from a small shawlette into a jumbo shawl. I made the sample with 500 yards of medium weight yarn, but you can use any type of yarn with an appropriate hook. The pattern is a customizable recipe and the crochet button ensures a fashionable closure, no matter how short or long it is!

CAL Details

The CAL officially kicks off today, on Friday, April 4, 2014, and will run through Sunday, May 11, 2014, which happens to be Mother’s Day in the U.S. You might even want to make a shawl(ette) for your Mom!

The CAL runs for 6 weeks not because the shawl(ette) takes so long to make (actually, I made the sample in one day), but because I want to give everyone a chance to finish and take pictures to enter the giveaway!

Ravelry members can go straight to this thread in the Underground Crafter group for chat during the CAL. Post a picture of your finished shawl(ette) there by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, May 11 for your chance to win some awesome crochet goodies. Each finished shawl(ette) pictured counts as one giveaway entry. If you use entirely stash yarn, I’ll even give you an extra entry to encourage some spring cleaning! If you’re not on Ravelry, you can share your picture on the Underground Crafter Facebook page or Tweet it to me at @ucrafter.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with! I’m making my next version with these two sock yarns that I received in swaps. The colors go great together, and I’m looking forward to having my own lightweight shawl in time for summer.

Stashbuster yarns

Let me know if you’re joining in – I’d love to see what you come up with!

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.

Vogue Knitting Live 2014: Day 3 and Stash Musings

VKL NYNY

Today was the last day of Vogue Knitting Live, and I felt a bit under the weather (perhaps that cold shower yesterday was to blame).  I did actually take my obligatory pre-event picture, but I looked so grumpy that I decided not to post it.  I was wearing my All Weather Cowl (you know, the one that brought me fame and fortune), which turned out to be just right because I could wear it indoors comfortably.

I had a chance to interview Sally Melville today, as well as catch the back end of her lecture on Creativity.  She had some fabulous samples on display, including several sizes of the lovely L’Enveloppe.  Sally was wearing her own version over a stunning coat with a coordinating pair of Fluevogs.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Sally Melville

I walked through the Marketplace one last time before saying goodbye to Vogue Knitting Live for 2014.  Though it was extremely tempting, I managed just to touch the buttons at Dusty’s Vintage Buttons without buying anything.  (I think we all know that I have way too many buttons at home to buy them at random.  I have to at least pretend there’s a plan for using them first!)

blog VKL NYC 2014 vintage buttons3

And then I visited the Feederbrook Farm booth.  Yesterday, in the rare quiet moments at the Michelle’s Assortment booth, I would look across at their yarns, and I ended up developing quite an attachment.  I decided on four skeins of Shepherd Spun, which is quite a bit of yarn for someone allegedly trying to reduce their stash.  In my defense, I fell in love with two of the hand dyed yarns, and rather than have them sit in my stash forever, I paired each with a coordinating solid.

blog Feederbrook Farm Mocha & Ava with shawl pin

These two are a bit out of my comfort zone, but I really was drawn to the skein on the bottom, called Ava, which is surprising because it isn’t in my typical colors.  And then I had to buy a coordinating Matryoshka pin from Michelle – I had been eyeing them, too, but couldn’t decide on a color until I had the yarn.

The other two skeins are much more “me” – purples, blues, and greens.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Feederbrook Farm Wia and Michelles Assortment shawl pin

This skein is called Win and is paired up with the shawl pin I picked up yesterday.

blog VKL NYC 2014 Michelles Assortment shawl pins

So after 3 days of Marketplace exposure, I ended the show with 3 shawl pins, and 5 skeins of yarn.

blog VKL NYC 2014 yarn haul

It was more than I (consciously) planned to spend, but I did happen to have cash left over, so apparently it was within the budget I had (subconsciously) created for the event.  I actually spent less than the cost of registering for a class, so in the end things seem to have worked out.

The charcoal Studio Donegal yarn in the center is already dedicated to being a cabled hat for my dad, and I have ideas about what I want to do with each of the other pairs.  But (head hanging in shame)…

I have yet to use any of the yarns I bought at last year’s Vogue Knitting Live.  (They’re pretty too, don’t you think?)

Vogue Knitting Live Yarn Haul

Partly it’s because I suffer from the “I must make something extra super fantabulous with yarn bought at a special event” syndrome, and the rest of it is because none of these lovelies are machine washable, which means they are unsuitable for most of my gift crafting.

I’m not going to feel too bad about buying five more skeins of yarn, since I did use over 19,000 yards of yarn (through both knitting and crocheting projects) last year.  I do, however, think it’s time to go through my stash again and see what I might be able to donate or sell.  Not only will that free up room for these five new skeins, but it will probably excite me about what I have on hand to use.

In my mind, I actually have new designs waiting for each of these pairs of yarn, but I think we all know that our initial ideas and our final plans don’t always align…

2013 Temperature Scarf: Lessons Learned

I’m excited to say that I did finish crocheting my temperature scarf this week.  The 113 remaining rows just flew by.

blog Temperature scarf folded roll

I ended up using 8 different colorways for this project.

Temperature Scarf Yarn Collage

 

Four of the skeins (Dream in Color Classy in Spring Tickle and Happy Forest and madelinetosh tosh vintage in Fragrant and Cove) were purchased at my favorite local yarn shop, Knitty City; two others (Miss Babs Yowza–Whatta Skein! in Violets in the Grass and madelinetosh tosh vintage in Midnight in Manhattan) were picked up at another local yarn shop, The Yarn Company; and I bought the two remaining skeins (Molly Girl Chart Topper in Anastasia and Aella) from a local dyer at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival.

2013 Temperature Scarf outline

My original plan called for the use of just 7 yarns, but since 24% of the year’s dates fell into the same temperature range, I ended up running out of yarn for one of the temperature ranges and adding another yarn.

Since I was crocheting at a significant lag (I recorded the temperatures throughout the year, but ended up crocheting most of the scarf after November), I was able to make a substitution.  If I were to make another temperature scarf, I’d use a shorter range of temperatures, perhaps 8 degrees for each color.

blog Temperature scarf folded detail

Of course, this would mean that some colors wouldn’t be used at all.  As it stands, the Spring Tickle (representing the coldest temperature range) was only used for two rows.

One thing I’m happy I didn’t do was assign colors based on their association to the temperature.  Many of the temperature scarves I’ve seen use blues for lower temperatures and reds for higher temperatures, for example.  I just arranged my colorways in an order that was pleasing to my eye when I first started this project, and then assigned the temperatures in that order.

blog Temperature scarf folded flat

Another thing I would do differently (though I LOVE how the Violets in the Grass colorway looks in this scarf) would be to only use yarns with a very similar thickness.  The Miss Babs yarn is much thinner than the rest, and I used a larger hook for those rows to keep the gauge similar.

Now that the scarf is blocked, I’d really like to add some buttons.

blog Temperature scarf folded top

 

The stitch pattern I’ve used for this scarf sort of naturally forms a row of button holes at the edge.  But with all of these colors, it’s hard to pick a good set of buttons.  Naturally, I dug through my collection first.

blog Temperature scarf button ideas

I’m leaning towards using the blue square buttons at the top left and maybe the black and white polka dots.  I don’t want to seal this up permanently as an infinity cowl/circle scarf, but I think I’m less likely to wear it as a scarf, so buttons seemed the perfect solution.

Or, should I just go out and try to find buttons specifically for this project?  What do you think?

Overall, I really enjoyed my first conceptual crochet project. It was interesting to give away control of the striping and to create a project that I absolutely couldn’t have imagined at the beginning.  I think my next conceptual crochet project will be a blanket of some kind – but that’s not until I work through more of my remaining stash!

And, on that note, I’m pleased to say that I used up 873 yards of yarn with this project.  My scarf measures about 8.5″ (21.5 cm) by 79″ (200.5 cm), which is pretty long for me since I’m only 5’3″ (1.6 m).  It’s gorgeous though, and perfect for the next cold spell.

2013 in Review

YOP3 dates

Last week, I finished my last Year of Projects post of 2013 with a cliffhanger: how many more projects could I complete in 2013?

I ended up finishing just one more project, a baby blanket for my cousin’s newborn.  (My cousin was in labor when I wrote the post, and has since delivered a healthy baby girl.  Yay!)

Ava car seat blanket detail

I originally had a plan for a symmetrical blanket.

Ava blanket planEach square was made holding two skeins of yarn, with the colors blending into each other.  I planned to have an “x shape” of hearts radiating outward from the center.

Unfortunately, my yarn calculations were a bit off, so I had to move on to Plan B – an asymmetric design with an “L shape” around one edge – to work with the colors I had left.

Ava car seat blanket

I like how it turned out.  I should mention that the yarn that looks brown in the picture is actually purple, and the colors look much brighter and more attractive in real life!

And with that project, I came to the end of my yarn usage for 2013.

Overall, I worked up about 1,700 yards less than in 2012 (which is no surprise, since I made many fewer projects in 2013), but I knit a lot more (about 19% of my total yarn usage, compared to about 4% in 2012).  That trend will probably continue this year, since I’m planning to make up a few extra samples of my 2014 Sampler Mystery Knit-a-Long blanket.

My plans for the next half of the Year of Projects are to:

  • Finish my 2013 temperature scarf.  I love this thing so far, and I can’t wait to wear it during the impending cold front.  I crocheted through September 6, so I have 116 more rows to go.  I’m not sure if I’ll join it as an infinity scarf, or add buttons so I have the option to wear it as a scarf or cowl.  As you can tell from the photo below, it clearly needs blocking and a massive weaving in of ends before it can be worn.

Temperature scarf thru 2013-09-06

  • Take pictures and finish formatting the five patterns I have that are ready to self-publish.  (What can I say, it’s tough to find models willing to stand outdoors in the New York cold in exchange for baked goods!)
  • Keep working on the projects for the e-book I plan to release in March.  I have one in progress to finish, and 2 more to make.
  • Come up with something exciting to do for the Ravellenic Games.  I would like to come up with some kind of mystery crochet-a-long, but I’m not sure if I have time.

I’m keeping my goals a bit fluid because mainly I want to keep working on using my stash and getting more patterns ready for publication.  My original goals were all about developing patterns and self-publishing, and I plan to keep on moving in the same direction.

What are your plans for the first half of 2014?

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