Wednesday, January 18, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Weaving, Fading & Matchmaking

I haven't had much time to weave since getting my Flip warped a couple of weekends ago, but whenever I have a few moments to kill, I sit down to weave a few lines. It's really fun, and I am liking the resulting fabric so far! I look forward to having a lot more free time in February so that I can focus on finishing this project. 
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Find Your Fade (FYF for short?) continues to dominate my knitting time - I can't seem to put it down, and I'm close to finishing the third color:
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I picked my Matchmaker back up after letting it hibernate while I was distracted by the shiny squirrel that is FYF. Then I realized that I am getting pretty close to the finish line, so I should be more diligent about working on it so that I can wear it a few times before spring hits. 
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I'm heading to TNNA in San Jose this weekend, so I hope to log a lot of knitting time on my flight. Maybe I'll even have an FO to show off next week! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Knitting Library: Everyday

Last fall, Jen Geigley put out a new book of patterns called Everyday, the follow up to 2015's Weekend. As the tech editor for both books, I can't even pretend to give an impartial review, so instead I will share a few of my favorites from Jen's latest collection & let you draw your own conclusions:
Moonstone in Manos del Uruguay Maxima

Leo in Briggs & Little Country Roving

Aura in Wool and the Gang Crazy Sexy Wool

Eris in Lux Adorna 100% Cashmere Bulky

Equinox in Bijou Basin Ranch Xanadu 100% Cashmere

What I love about these designs is that they are simple yet interesting to knit - by that I mean, there aren't a lot of complicated stitch patterns or charts or crazy construction elements that require your undivided attention. But there are interesting design elements that keep the knitter engaged, if that makes sense. Also, I feel like nearly all of them would look just as amazing in handspun yarn, of which I have quite a bit these days.

You can see all of the patterns here on Ravelry, or visit Jen's website to purchase print & PDF copies of Everyday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WIP Wednesday: I'm Finding My Fade

I absolutely don't need to be starting a new project until I get a few of my many WIPs off the needles, but I couldn't resist casting on for a Find Your Fade shawl over the New Year's holiday weekend. There were so many inspiring photos of color combinations being shared on Instagram that I found myself digging through my own sock yarn stash, and before I knew it...I'd found my fade:

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There's a KAL happening on Ravelry, and the timeline is fairly doable (end of March) - plus, PRIZES! Who doesn't love the chance to win something awesome??

I am just about ready to add in the third color section:

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I absolutely adore anything that allows me to get a whopping 7 skeins of sock yarn out of my stash and onto my needles....plus, it's kind of an addictive project! I can't wait to get to the next color in the sequence.

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 Resolutions?

It's a little late, but I still wanted to post my resolutions on this blog since I apparently neglected to do so last year (maybe I didn't make any??).

You can probably guess my first resolution - learn how to weave! I took the plunge and bought myself a Schacht Flip loom and am starting to learn how to use it. I plan to share periodic updates on here, you can catch my first Weaving Wednesday post here if you missed it!

And since knitting, crocheting, spinning and weaving clearly aren't enough to keep me occupied in my free time.....I have a gorgeous vintage sewing machine that needs fixing up, and I would like to sharpen my very rudimentary sewing skills this year.
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Isn't this vintage Singer totally gorgeous??
My next resolution is to work out more regularly (or at all - sadly, I don't think playing Pokemon Go counts). I feel better, sleep better, and - let's face it - look better when I exercise regularly. Don't we all?

I'm also determined to crack that whole work/life balance thing, since I've been fighting burnout off and on for the past few years. I made myself a daily schedule to block out hours for working, chore-doing, exercising, and tending to the cats. More importantly, it stipulates that my work day ends at 6:30 pm. It's only been a week, but so far it is working quite well; last week, I worked til 7pm three out of five days, but that is a vast improvement over some of the crazy hours I was logging in 2016. I'll take it!

Lastly, I want to make my crafting time count. If I'm going to spend the time and money to make something, I want it to be pretty darn awesome. Last month, I had a 13 gallon bin of handmade items that I gave away to family and friends because I was no longer using them (or had never used them, period). Going through that bin was an interesting exercise, and it gave me a lot of clarity into the types of projects I like to make and wear vs. the types of projects I like to make and not wear. I also took mental notes with regards to mistakes that I can and can't live with, and what I should look for in a yarn or pattern to create something that I would be able to both like and use for a lifetime.

What resolutions have you made for 2017?

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Weaving Wednesday: I Bought A Loom

For the past year or so, I'd been thinking about taking the plunge into weaving, and such thoughts have become quite serious in the past 6 months especially. When Syne Michell's book Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom came out, I'd heard such good things about it that I decided to put it on my Amazon Wish List with the hope that it would magically show up on my doorstep. It did, and it has turned the small little spark of "Maybe I should learn how to weave" into a roaring "Let's buy a loom and do this thing!"

It should be no surprise that not long after the holiday, I bought myself a loom! It didn't take long for my 20" Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle loom to arrive from Webs, and I've been slowly getting acquainted with it. There's a lot to learn!

I've done a lot of research to determine which loom I should get, and figured I should share my reasoning here for anyone who is interested in giving weaving a try but isn't sure where to start.

Initially, I had my heart set on a Schacht Cricket loom because it's affordable, compact and known for being user-friendly. I liked the idea of something that wouldn't take up too much room AND that wasn't a huge monetary commitment (the 15" Cricket is just under $200) - but then I became worried that I might begin to feel limited by such a small weaving width and that it might not be enough "loom" for me.

When I think back to how I started handspinning, I remember being frustrated by the limitations of the drop spindle fairly quickly - once I got my hands on a wheel, things started to come together and I became more engaged. My first spinning wheel wasn't particularly great, but it was enough to ignite the spark - then I got a really nice spinning wheel that suited me better (and a few years later, a second spinning wheel that I also enjoy spinning on), and that was that.

With that in mind, I wondered if I should just skip the "I'm too cheap to invest in something that might suit me better in the long run" step and just get a nicer loom - something that was still beginner friendly and relatively affordable, yet could also do more, provided I stuck with it to learn the skills to unlock the potential. In Syne Mitchell's book, she describes the Flip as an excellent teaching loom that holds good tension with a sturdy frame - and apparently, it's the only rigid-heddle loom with a second threading slot. I assume this is something that will be really exciting to me once I am able to weave a project that uses multiple heddles!

The Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom (photo from Webs site)

Lastly, I read somewhere that the projects you'd like to weave should help inform your choice in loom width. Seems pretty obvious, right?? I suppose, but for whatever reason, that hadn't quite clicked on in my brain. Honestly, what attracted me to weaving in the first place was that I heard it was a great way to use up your yarn stash quickly. I didn't really think too hard about what I would make, just that I would make it!

Once I thought about it more, I decided that projects such as scarves, tea towels, pillows bags and maybe even a small blanket would be the kinds of projects I would want to weave. While a 15" loom would probably serve my purposes well, it seemed like something that was a bit bigger would have more staying power. I'll let you know how sound this logic turns out to be, but that's more or less how I landed on the 20" width of the Schacht Flip.

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Above is my brand new loom, fresh out of the box....which Robin enjoyed inspecting, of course. I think he approves?

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I plan to share more of my (mis?)adventures with learning how to weave on future blog posts - next week I'll let you know how I fared getting it all set up for my first weaving project!

Friday, December 30, 2016

FO Friday: Muratura Hat KAL

I finished this hat just under the wire, the Muratura KAL ends on New Year's Eve! I found this lovely skein of Harrisville Highland in my stash and thought it would make a lovely hat. The slight tweediness was perfect for the textured stitches!
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This is my first time knitting a hat sideways, and I have to say that I was a bit skeptical - but it turned out rather nicely and it even fits my head! I'll try to get a modeled shot to share on Instagram, but for now, here is a flat lay FO photo to tide you over:
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Wishing everyone a safe, happy & healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My Superpower is Losing Mittens

Of the two mitten projects I've finished most recently, I've already lost mates for both somehow. I know, I know - it's quite the talent.

The first pair of mittens were knit back in October for the Great Northern KAL - click here for a refresher if you missed this one

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The second pair I finished earlier this month and didn't get a chance to share a proper photograph here on the blog... in fact, they didn't even get blocked before I started using them and promptly lost one of the pair. All I have to prove that the knitting is done is this photo from Instagram:

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If those mittens look a little strange, it's because I used this pattern to keep the index finger free from the rest of the fingers, switching to Silverspun yarn for the tips of the thumbs and index fingers. The idea was that I could wear them when playing Pokemon Go in colder temperatures, an idea that wold have been AMAZING if I hadn't already lost its mate!

So, now I have these two orphaned mittens which I guess I'll be wearing together until I can muster the enthusiasm to knit them mates (again). On the plus side, I have enough yarn left over from each projects to do so, it's just a question of putting in the time (again). The key word here is (again) - as anyone with Second Sock Syndrome knows, that can be quite a hump to get over.

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Clearly, I need to make myself a very long i-cord to run through the sleeves of my winter coat, attaching either end to my mittens just as I would for a small child, because I just can't seem to keep track of the darn things. If anyone has a more elegant (and/or less embarrassing) solution, I'm all ears!