Stashdown 2017 was only partially a success. I managed to contain my beads in one large tote, and I got rid of a big bag of broken or plastic beads, and disassembled or chucked half-finished projects. Most were from several moves ago, and some from when I was still in high school. It was a good feeling, and I was able to organize a bit in my craft room.
My yarn situation is not so tidy. I collected yarn for a few sweater possibilities, and the ones that didn’t end up being used are now stacked precariously atop my yarn dresser. I plowed through a fair amount of yarn, but really had a hard time not replacing it with other yarn throughout the year. Oh well, onward to 2018.
Ravelry’s home page this week informed users of a new feature for the new year. The project tracking section of the website now includes a “Challenge” feature, which lets folks choose a number of projects they’d like to complete by the end of the year. I counted up the number of projects I finished in 2017, adjusted it a little for a challenge, and came up with the plan to make 75 knitted items in 2018. This will include things like washcloths and stuffed animals, but obviously socks will count as one item. So far I’ve made the three above, which is a reasonable start, and I have a few more things on the needles already.
Most of the projects I’m working on or planning right now are for the Florida Earthskills Gathering, and I’m hoping to have more pairs of mitts than hats for this year’s event. I sold out of mitts at the Rendezvous last season, so perhaps that will be the case again in Florida.
I’m still not used to the lack of winter here in Charleston. It gets cold enough for a jacket, and maybe for wool socks, but the number of knitted items I actually need is so much smaller than I want it to be. That never stops me from making toasty warm things, even for myself. Now that the Christmas knitting is done, I’m back to making things and experimenting on a more leisurely schedule. Last week was kind of chilly (it was almost freezing one night!), and I realized that I don’t have a pair of mitts of my own. I’ve certainly made enough pairs for other folks, and I had some for a while, but never liked them much and gave them away.
On a whim the other day, I grabbed some yarn leftovers (some destashing from my friend in Portland, some sock yarn that’s been used for toes for several projects, and some that’s just a complete mystery to me) and went to town. I like to browse color charts on Ravelry, and I save lots of projects with interesting charts whether I plan to use them or not. This fingerless glove pattern, Kites, is a nice blend of minimalism and playfulness, with good overall weight due to the held floats behind the colorwork. I loved the bright colors used by other knitters, and the blue, gray, and celery looked really nice together.
I don’t entirely love the stripes on the thumbs, but I do like the construction of placing a stitch in the middle so that the whole thumb isn’t floated. It’s a little complicated to try to arrange the triangle pattern over the thumb gusset, and having a plain color thumb works well with the cuffs. The pattern calls for the top cuff and thumb cuff to be one color, the background to be another color, and the bottom cuff to be the third color, but I chose to use the celery color for all of the background sections. I like it, but I might do it differently the next time I make mitts like these.
As usually happens, I decided in mid-November that I am knitting Christmas presents for four family members. I had one pair of socks already cast on, so that’s just a matter of finishing up, but everything else is a big ol’ slap-dash rush job.
These socks are for my sister-in-law, who I overheard commenting about how all her boot socks have holes in them. I gave her a pair of handknit socks when we were visiting in September, and this is a perfect opportunity to knit for her again. She likes bright colors, and this mystery rainbow yarn has been lurking in my stash waiting for an assignment for a while. The red main color is Heritage sock yarn, a trusty workhorse that will stand up to lots of washing and wearing, and keep its color.
I bought this yarn at SAFF in October, and I knew right away that it was for my mom. It’s Neighborhood Fibre Co.’s sock yarn in the colorway Banksy, and it’s lovely. I’m thinking some Syncopation Socks are just the thing. They’ll be simple enough to show off the lovely colorway, but the stitch pattern is interesting and they’ll be pretty warm. These still haven’t been started.
This combination has been on my list for a long time, as you probably recognize. They’re Manos del Uruguay’s Alegría in Columbina, and Schmutzerella Yarns’ Superwash Sock in Let’s Make a Teal. I’ve planned sweaters to no success, and dabbled in shawl patterns, but I finally found something that will come together. I’ve been eyeing the Severin fair isle beanie for a little bit, and while looking through my stash I found these yarns and it clicked.
I’m holding the sock yarns double, so the fabric is thick, but it’ll relax when blocked and the design will be a little clearer. I think it’ll look great, and I hope my cousin likes it. She’s 17 and lives in the midwest, so a brightly colored warm hat should be just the thing. Do you think a fur pompom on top would be an improvement, or would it be too much?
I’m also working on a very simple, very plain hat for my brother-in-law. He works outside a fair amount, so a thick, warm, workhorse of a hat (in a relatively manly color, of course) will hopefully get some use. The pattern is improvised (it’ll be tiny, masculine cables once I’m finished with the brim ribbing), the yarn is Heritage sock held with a super soft mystery cotton/wool blend.
Wish me luck with all the knitting. There’s enough time, I just need to focus!
I’ve been making progress on Wes’ sweater, and I think it’ll be done later this week. But of course, the second I get a fabulous new idea, I get distracted. I was digging around in my fabric stash and found a pair of Wes’ jeans, which were frayed around the hems and had a hole in one knee. I hemmed them and repaired the hole a couple years ago but he didn’t wear them, so I tucked them away to use the denim. However, on a whim I tried them on and they’re perfectly slouchy, and I really like the way they fit when I roll them up a little to offset their awkward length. So I got inspired and added an embroidered patch on one leg.
I’ve had this design knocking around for a while, thinking I’d turn it into a knit color chart, but it never quite worked. It’s also kind of a large stencil, so it wasn’t right for my previous projects. This ended up being just the right application. As I started embroidering I realized that some of my tracing (using chalk paper, since denim in pants-leg form is way too thick for my usual lightboard setup) was a little off. Check out what was supposed to be the toes on his left foot… Not quite right.
So I got a little creative rearranging those lines, rather than trying to retrace them and ending up with extra visible “draft” lines. I think the bed of flowers ended up being very sweet, and now I just need to give him a little mouse buddy and a few more flowers by his feet before he’s complete.
I love the image and the colors, and I’ve been familiar with Ganesha for a long time, but I wasn’t absolutely sure what he represents in the Hindu pantheon. How fitting is it that he is the god of beginnings, and that he is often honored and invoked as part of rites and ceremonies? It feels particularly germane to have brought Ganesh into my life during the month that I embarked on such an exciting, important new chapter. Ganesha is also known as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. In most images and statues, he’s shown holding an axe (to cut ties of attachment), a bowl of sweets or a dessert of some kind (an offering, and his trunk is usually heading straight towards the treats), a rope (to pull yourself forward, symbolizing ambitions), and a particular mudra (hand gesture) that symbolizes blessings of wisdom and protection.
I sent a pile of handspun and handknit items with my dad to the Earthskills Rendezvous earlier this month. For earthskills gatherings, I try to offer up accessories and materials made with natural materials, in colors that are darker or more neutral. I was pretty happy with the selection I sent, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a number of skeins of handspun yarn sold, along with a couple pairs of fingerless gloves. I hope the mitts keep their new wearers warm, and that some happy crafters are now making wonderful things with my handspun!
On the yarn collection front, I’m not doing quite as well as I’d like. This year’s FibreShare was really lovely, and I was happy that most of the goodies I sent my partner were from my stash. However, the danger and glory of FibreShare is that a package came for me as well, and while the treats inside were beautiful and fun, they do still have mass and weight. So, into the dresser they go. The neon DyeforKnitting yarn is really fun, and I haven’t worked with colors that bright before. It isn’t usually my style, but I think it’ll be interesting to come up with something for this color palate. It reminds me of tropical bird feathers, particularly when paired with the soft gray. I’m excited about the Zauerball, too; German sock yarn is hearty and tough, and I really like socks with that kind of wear. They may not be soft, but they’re warm and they last forever. The Sea Turtle Fiber Arts yarn has a similar color scheme to some other sock yarn I have, and I’m considering adding it all together to stretch it a bit.
In searching for the right yarn for Wes’ sweater, I ended up collecting a lot of yarn from my dear friend Pat. She’s been slowly but surely distributing her friend’s stash, and whenever I’ve needed yarn for a project, she’s had some options for me. This time around, I gave a new home to two sweaters’ worth of yarn that didn’t quite work for Wes, so I’ll be figuring out what to do with it in the coming months.
When I was in Portland, as I mentioned last week, I brought home a bit of yarn. I knew it would happen, and I think I did a good job of not getting too sucked into the magic of the LYS (local yarn shop), even though Charleston doesn’t have one and I really wish it did.
I also accepted Steph’s destashing offerings, including the squishy, comfy leftovers that made up this hat. It took me just a couple hours to whip this up, and it went to Rendezvous with my dad earlier this month.
Lastly, this weekend was the Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival near Asheville, NC. My knitting group rented a cabin and made a weekend of it, enjoying the crisp mountain air and the amazing view from the cabin’s front porch along with a morning of wandering around the festival, touching soft things and admiring creative color combinations and all the neat tools and accessories the vendors had to offer. I only bought one skein of sock yarn and a bit of Finn roving (a breed of sheep I’ve never spun before), but I came away with some major spinning inspiration and a renewed vigor for my destashing efforts. After all, how can I justify buying new toys when I haven’t used the ones I already have?
I loved seeing all the roving and fiber at SAFF, and though I really do have enough materials to make a whole lot of yarn, I had to try something new. I stumbled into a sweet booth with a delightful, grinning baby in the back corner, and once I started touching the different wool being displayed, I realized that I hadn’t heard of any of the breeds before. I gravitated toward a dark brown Finn roving at first, then saw the cream color and thought about the dyeing possibilities with this springy, fluffy, squishy, long-staple wool.
The week we got back from our trip was pretty hectic, catching up at work and adjusting to east coast time. The following week, Columbus Day, we went down to the courthouse and got married. It was a very low-key event, with no one in attendance and no fanfare at all, but it was absolutely perfect in every way. Of course, this is a lovely and happy thing, and I’m thrilled about it on every level, but my fuzzy knitterly heart is particularly aflutter over the fact that I can now make Wes a sweater! I never had any real belief in the sweater curse, but for fun I haven’t chanced it, so this is the first large project I’ve made for him.
In case you’re not familiar, the rough idea of the sweater curse is that making a sweater for a partner you’re seeing (but not married to) will end the relationship. Perhaps it’s a sexist idea about seeming over-eager and scaring a man off, perhaps it’s a lesson in patience, generosity, or time management, and certainly it’s a silly folktale, but it’s still charming and it’s given a sense of extra formality and ceremony to this project.
I presented Wes with a few (visually) simple, classic designs, and he chose Brooklyn Tweed’s Brownstone. It’s a shawl-collared pullover, knit from the bottom up. We looked at a couple yarn options and ended up going with some recycled merino wool yarn that I harvested from a Goodwill sweater a few months back. I started a sweater with it for myself, but it languished for a long time and I knew it was never going to happen, so to Wes’ Brownstone it went. My guy is particular about how bland he wants his clothing to be, so this oatmeal color ended up being far more up his alley than the burnt orange or olive tweed options I suggested.
Wes has an exaggerated triangle shape- he’s a pretty skinny guy, and not exceedingly tall, but his shoulders are quite broad. I cast on a size small and scaled up to a medium by the time I reached the collar placket, and I plan to make the rest of the sweater according to the medium stitch counts. If the scaling is terrible, I’ll pick up stitches somewhere in the middle (before the placket, but after I increased; at about floating-rib-level) and knit back down to my original cast on edge, decreasing a little but not quite to the stitch count of the small size. I did this when I made my Stapi pullover, essentially knitting the piece inside out, and I liked how it combined the pattern elements of a bottom-up pattern but the flexibility of a top-down one.