Posted in Book stash, Knitting, Project planning, Yarn stash

Knitting My Library: Advance Planning #1

Craft Room 1Have I shown you this?  It’s my library of knitting/crochet books and magazines (with a few extra books spilling over from the “regular” bookshelves).  Unused yarn lives in the woven bins; leftovers from previous projects live in the plastic bin on the table.  This photo was taken a couple of years ago, and the collection of books AND yarn has only grown since then.  As you can see, I have ample selection from which to choose for the Knit Your Library Challenge.

One of the suggested ways to handle this challenge is choose a particular book and knit your way through it.  While I have a couple of books I’d be willing to choose for that method, my other focus this year is to knit from stash as much as possible.  My process will be to choose yarn in stash and find a pattern that works with it.  Here’s what I’ve picked out so far.

Footprints 2Stashed yarn #1: Blue Ridge Yarns Footprints, 300 yards of a main color and 100 yards of a contrast color, perfect for making socks with contrasting toes and heels.  I bought this yarn while in Florida a few years ago for a family event.  I needed to escape the family for a little while so I found a yarn shop.  (Yarn therapy + retail therapy = miracle cure for family stress.)  This project will help me achieve another goal, learning a short row or afterthought heel.  The pattern that appeals to me most right now for this yarn is Dumbledore’s Warm Socks from The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits 2013 magazine.

Baby Camel SilkStashed yarn #2: Wild Orchids Fiber Arts Swiss Mountain Baby Camel and Silk, 437 yards of fingering weight gorgeousness I bought at Stitches South shortly after moving to Atlanta.  This yarn is so special, I’ve had a dickens of a time finding just the right pattern for it.  It’s too delicate for socks; besides, this shimmering sheen deserves to live in the light.  Last summer I bought Interweave’s Warm Days, Cool Knits, and there it was, the Emmylou Shawl. Pretty and feminine and just right to show off this skein of fibery goodness.

Needles 3Stashed yarns #3 & 4:  The marvelous yet discontinued Rowan Plaid in the Lavender Mist (purplish) colorway, 1360 yards; and Moonlight Wave (bluish) colorway, 700 yards of beautiful bulky softness.  The challenge with Rowan Plaid is finding a pattern in which the details don’t get lost in the multi-hued strands.  I’ve found when using this in smaller projects that straight stockinette looks marvelous and big, simple cables work really well.  The Galadriel Cardigan from Verena Knitting Winter 2009 is perfect for the lavender.  For the blue, the yardage is pretty limited because I’ve used it for gifts several times already, including making a cardigan.  Either the Hooded Cardi Vest from Vogue Winter 2009/2010 or the Cabled V-Neck Slipover from Debbie Bliss Fall/Winter 2008 will work best.  I’ll decide between those two patterns when I get closer to actually knitting one of them.

knit-your-library_2016Okay, four stashed yarns, four library patterns.  That’s enough advance planning for one Saturday.  I still have the Wildflower Cardigan to finish, plus a couple of other long-neglected WIPs that, truthfully, may or may not get finished before I start one of these new babies.

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Project planning, Technique, Yarn stash

2016: Plans, not resolutions

I abandoned making New Year’s resolutions ages ago because I always ended up breaking said resolutions and then beating myself up for failure.  Now I make plans or set goals.  Because plans can change if circumstances change and no fault accrues; and if goals aren’t met, any progress made toward those goals is a win.  Baby steps are still steps in the right direction.

Drift
More like this in 2016.

Reading plans and goals:  I mentioned a couple these in Sunday’s Year In Review: Books blog post but they belong in this post as well.  My goal is to read and finish 52 books; then write at least a one-paragraph review and post it here as well as on Goodreads.  I also want to read more non-fiction.  Even though about one third of the books in my house are non-fiction — history, politics, sociology, and religion, mostly — I managed only one non-fiction title in 2015, and that one (Drift by Rachel Maddow) came from the library.  Speaking of the library, that’s part of the goal as well: to continue to make use of the library and of books I already own.  I simply don’t have room to acquire any additional physical books; and spouse and I have set Trigger Warningsome financial goals that limit my discretionary spending. What discretionary spending room I have, I prefer to save for yarn.  Or travel.  More about that later, though.

A couple of LibraryThing Early Reviewer titles rest here on my desk, Get In Troublewaiting to be read:  Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman and Get In Trouble by Kelly Link.  Getting those read and reviewed will do two things: alleviate the guilt I have for letting them sit as long as they have and add toward the annual reading goal.

Other than those two specific titles, and a general notion toward adding more non-fiction, I have no restrictions or plans for my reading material.  In the past couple of years, what I read and the order in which I read it has been dictated by the local library system.  I have a wish list, and when a title on the wish list becomes available, that’s what I read next. It’s rare that I don’t have at least one title from the library checked out.  Maybe cutting down on the wish list items will aid toward reading down the physical Mt. TBR in the house.  But that’s not a priority.

Wildflower 6Yarn plans and goals:  2016 will be the Year of Knitting Selfishly. All the knitting I did in 2015 was for other people.  This year it’s all about me and it’s all about the stash.*  First thing will be to finish the Wildflower Cardigan, an Alana Dakos pattern that’s been waiting patiently for more than a year.  The partial sweater is shown at right; the yarn is Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool in Acorn. After that, I want to find the right pattern for a cotton shrug I’ve been wanting to make in a turquoise Cascade Ultra Pima.  And at some point this year, I hope to find some use for the two colorways of Rowan Plaid that’s been in my stash for going on 8 years.

Needles 2*Let me say at the outset that I do NOT pledge to go “cold sheep” — that is, not buy any new yarn — because that’s a sure-fire way to set myself up for failure.  What I can do is shop the stash first and, if I go to a yarn store because I’m traveling or because I’m accompanying someone else, I can limit myself to a single skein or two of exquisite sock yarn.

Speaking of finding patterns, I’ve decided to take part in Snapdragon’s Knit Your Library Challenge (click the link to learn more).  I’m confident that somewhere within all the pattern books and back issues of knitting magazines filed away in this house is any project I could possibly wish to make.  Matching the yarn to the pattern to the mood will knit-your-library_2016comprise a major part of this challenge, I think.  Sometimes I want to knit something new, but can’t make a connection between the stashed yarn in my hand and the library patterns that show up in Ravelry.  And the reverse is sometimes true:  I find a library pattern that I love love love but nothing in the stash works for it. When I have some time to breathe, I will spend several hours matching patterns and yarns and lay them out in an organized fashion. I’ve already got a couple of matches in mind.

Technique goals: This will be the year I finally tackle a Fair Isle project: a little one, like a hat. Three stashed skeins of a fingering weight cashmere blend in complementary colorways are screaming at me, so I want to shut them up. I also want to learn some different sock heels. I’ve always done the “flap and gusset” heel, so a short row heel and an afterthought heel are on my list this year.

Finally, I intended to have this blog entry ready to be published yesterday. Remember what I said at the top of this entry about plans? The universe had plans that trumped mine. I had to take my husband to the emergency room yesterday afternoon: he is currently hospitalized and we expect him to remain in the hospital for several days yet. His condition is not life-threatening — well, not really. I mean, it could be, but mainly it’s a chronic condition that periodically flares up and makes our lives miserable. I’ll be able to catch my breath when he comes home. In the meantime, I’m getting lots of knitting and reading done while sitting by his bed, in between the times I run home to take care of the pets. Thank heavens for an understanding employer.

Posted in Book stash, Books, Life in general, Project planning, Reading

It’s that time of year again: Readers Imbibing Peril 9 AND FrightFall Read-A-Thon!

I’ve been away from this blog for a number of reasons, not the least of which was dealing with an injury from a car accident and its attendant miseries. Nothing major, but enough to warrant hiring an attorney and going to the chiropractor several times weekly for the last several weeks.

My poor baby
My poor baby

Ugh. Luckily, my car wasn’t totaled and the body shop was able to make it just as beautiful as it once was. And the upside, if there can be one, was that the time my doctor took me off work was productive in the reading department. I’ve already met my Goodreads books-read goal for the calendar year (which was 52), and now am trying to see how many books above that goal I can reach.

Toward that end, I’m hereby pledging participation in two of my favorite reading challenges. They’re my favorite because they take place in my favorite season, Autumn, and they involve one of my favorite genres, the spooky story.

RIP 9 PortraitFirst, R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX (RIP IX), hosted by your friend and mine, Carl, over at Stainless Steel Droppings. (Every time I reference his blog, I promptly remind myself to read those damn Harry Harrison stories, and then just as promptly forget to put them on my list. Maybe this time will be different.) This is an annual challenge to read something in the Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, or Supernatural genres, or (as Carl says) “…anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.” As usual, there are several sub-challenges within the challenges. I plan on tackling Peril The First and Peril on the Screen. If you click the badge over there, you’ll be taken to the sign-up post with lots more information about the challenges.

FrightFall 2014One of the best things about RIP is it coincides with Seasons of Reading‘s annual FrightFall Read-a-thon, which involves reading at least one “scary” novel during a specified week. Two birds with one stone, one might say. This year, the FrightFall Read-a-thon is the first week of October. Click the badge to the left for details and sign-up instructions.

By the way, the Estella Society is coordinating with RIP 9 to host a read-along of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Carl has the details in the RIP 9 sign-up post linked above and, of course, you can get the information directly from the Estella Society’s blog post. I read that book too recently to participate in this read-along, but by all means, if you’ve never read it, or if you haven’t read it in recent memory, I encourage you to visit Ms. Jackson’s legendary haunted house. It’s worth every shiver.

Regardless of which challenge you choose, come join us! We’ll have a spooky good time!

Posted in Knitting, Project planning, Yarn stash

Inspiration Saturday, after a fashion

At the time I write this, it’s shortly before 1PM Eastern Daylight Time.

I’ve been up since 4:30. That’s AM.

My husband snores like a freight train. *sigh*

© Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine
© Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine
But I’ve tried to put the time to good use. A few days ago, I started making a little lace shrug, using a bright turquoise cotton DK I’ve had in my stash forever. The pattern I chose (pictured left) isn’t exactly what I want, but it’s the closest thing to what I want that I found while searching Ravelry. I’m not even two inches into the project yet, and I’m already not liking the pattern. This is now the third time I’ve started something with this yarn and started hating it (the pattern, not the yarn) before getting very far. It’s rather frustrating.

Why am I so determined to make this yarn into a lace cardigan? I have a sleeveless dress that is in desperate need of a cover-up to make it suitable to wear on camera. Ultra pima 1And besides, who couldn’t use a turquoise blue lace cardi? The yarn, by the way, is Cascade Ultra Pima. It knits beautifully, and I will find the right pattern for it, or die trying.

So, while I was awake in the wee hours of the night, I started searching Ravelry again, and expanded my parameters somewhat. Free patterns or in my library; 3/4 sleeve, V-neck, buttons optional, DK or sport-weight, leave off the yardage limit, leave off the lace requirement, but specify plant fibers rather than animal fibers. Maybe I’d find a coat or a tunic-length cardigan that I could shorten and adapt to meet my yardage requirements. And I found something. Still not exactly what I want, but in my bleary-eyed befogged state, I saw past the pattern and into the nebulous realm of …

© Vogue Knitting
© Vogue Knitting
(cue dramatic music)

Design!!

Or at least major modifications.

I looked at this coat and ticked off the things I don’t like: Can’t stand the lace patterns, and it’s waaaaayyyy too long. But it has a V-neck, buttons, and 3/4 sleeves. I pulled the magazine off the shelf and read the pattern. Okay, I see the spot where I can cut off the bottom two-thirds of the coat and turn it into a cropped cardi. What about the lace pattern? Next I pulled a stitch dictionary off the shelf. And I found a lace pattern that will work with the number of stitches needed for the back…but not the front. Wait, what if I…? And here’s where the calculator came out.

A rough sketch has been made. No, you can’t see it because my drawing skills are crap. The rough dimensions and a preliminary stitch count are calculated for a cardigan in my size. The rest of the math is still pending because a swatch has yet to be knitted.

In between all this calculation, I’ve eaten breakfast and weeded the backyard (spouse helped with both).

Now, I’m hot, sweaty, and tired, but a little exhilarated. I think a shower is in order, and then I’m going to resume work on the Debbie Bliss cardigan. Because I read that pattern again, too, and realized my frustration and dislike was due to a misreading of a particular line in the written lace instructions. (This is why I prefer charts.) I’ve tinked back to the beginning of the error and will start afresh. And continue the design work a little later on.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress on all fronts.

Posted in Blog Week, Crochet, Knitting, Project planning, Technique, Year in review

5KCBWDay7 — Looking Back, Looking Forward

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Look back on last year’s Day Seven post. Did any of the techniques, ideas and hopes for the last 12 months that you wrote about ever make it onto the hook or needles? Did anyone cast on and complete the project researched in last year’s Day 2 post? One year from now, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?


 
Last year I discussed several things:

  • Making the cardigan worn by the little girl in the movie The Fall.
  • Organizing my craft room
  • Attempting Fair Isle
  • Attempting Tunisian
  • Making sock puppets for my friend based on a photograph

Success rate? 60%. I achieved three out of the five goals. Behold the craft room:

Craft Room 1

And the Tunisian:

Mom's Tunisian 9

And those sock puppets, which got their own dating profile in this year’s Blog Week Extravaganza:

Avatars 1

For next year, I’m putting Fair Isle and The Fall Cardigan back on this list. Also, I want to finally write up and publish the pattern for a pair of fingerless mitts I designed as a gift several years ago.

San Luis Mitts

I’ve gotten multiple requests for this pattern, but have procrastinated writing it up for so long that I may have lost my initial notes on the project. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because I originally designed the mitts in a bulky yarn and have since decided a lesser-weight yarn is a better choice.

Magazine Review: Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2009Blog content-wise, I’m considering a return to magazine reviews. I pared my knit and crochet magazine subscriptions down to two (from a high of seven), Rowan and Vogue Knitting. Back when I had so many subscriptions, I was trying to review each magazine as it came in. That meant upwards of 30 magazine reviews per year, which resulted in a stack of unread issues sitting next to the computer, giving me guilt. I don’t need more guilt, thank you very much, so I stopped the reviews. Vogue and Rowan only may be manageable: Rowan publishes two issues per year, and Vogue publishes five (six if you count the special crochet issue, but that’s not included in the subscription). Rowan CoverWriting timely reviews will require a certain amount of self-discipline. I’m not good with self-discipline, and I need to be, because the next step for this blog — not next year, but within the next five — is to turn it into something that generates a little income. That means content other than me running my mouth about my latest project or the last book I read. It means patterns and tutorials mainly; perhaps little stuffies, if I ever design any. I don’t expect to make excessive bank here, just enough to cover the domain fees.

And that’s quite enough ambition for my little corner of the interwebz.

As Blog Week draws to a close, I just want to say I appreciate each and every one of you who’ve dropped by during this past week. I found a few new bloggers to follow and hope at least one or two of you enjoyed my articles as much as I’ve enjoyed yours. See you around! And y’all come back now, y’hear?

Posted in Book stash, Life in general, Project planning

Once Upon A Time VIII

My reading buddy Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting another reading challenge/read-a-thon/read-along type thing that I was participating in by accident. I say “by accident” because somehow I missed the initial announcement on his blog (sorry, Carl). But I know about it now; and I hereby declare the last three George R. R. Martin books I finished (books 3-5 from The Song of Ice and Fire) qualify for one of the challenges.

Once Upon A Time 8What is this challenge, you ask?

It’s the “Once Upon A Time” Challenge, and you can read all about it by clicking that badge over there to the right. But I’ll give you the quick and dirty version right now.

Four categories of book: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy, Mythology.
Choose a challenge (go read Carl’s post for details on the various challenges), choose a category or four, choose a book or several, and read them!

The challenge began March 21 and will end June 21, so you still have time to get at least one book read. Like I said, I’m counting The Song of Ice and Fire books toward one of the challenges. A blog post will be coming about that in the next few days. Right now I’m trying to justify fitting my current read (The Twelve by Justin Cronin) into one of those categories…I’ll let you know if I can come up with a plausible rationalization. If not, I have plenty of other books to choose from once it’s finished.

Posted in Crochet, Project planning, Technique

Next project: The Tunisian Terror

Remember how much my mother wanted this afghan?

Mosaic Afghan 12
And I told her no?

I also told her I’d make her an afghan of her choosing, as long as she bought the yarn. So at Christmas, when she was here in Georgia, she looked through my afghan books and picked out a pattern. The pattern that caught her interest is pictured below:

Mom's Tunisian 3

Blue Ribbon AfghansThe book is Blue Ribbon Afghans from America’s State Fairs (click the pic to be taken to the Amazon listing), and the pattern is the Take-Along Sampler Afghan.

“Sure, Mom, no problem!” I said. “Next time I come to your house, we’ll go look at yarn.”

The day after Christmas, when all the family had gone home, I sat down and took a good look at the pattern. “Oh boy,” I thought to myself. “It’s Tunisian crochet. I’ve never done Tunisian crochet. And it’s colorwork Tunisian, no less. Oh boy.” But I said nothing to my mother, because, you know, I can do it, Mom, really I can.

The next time I was at her house (which was sometime in March), I told my mother that Tunisian crochet would be a new technique for me, but I had always intended to learn it, so this was the perfect opportunity. We went to the local yarn store with the book and ordered the yarn. The box of said yarn was delivered to my house about two weeks ago, whereupon it sat, unopened, while I ignored it and my obligation because, um, Stitches was coming up and then our anniversary trip to Savannah, and then it was yesterday morning and my mother asked me, “How’s my afghan coming along?”

Busted.

I confessed I hadn’t even opened the box, but I had read an article on Tunisian crochet the day before and I planned to start the afghan with one of the squares that didn’t involve a lot of color changes. Then I went upstairs and opened the box.

Mom's Tunisian 1

*gulp*

Wish me luck.

Posted in Knitting, Life in general, Miscellaneous, Project planning, Yarn stash

Inspiration Saturday: Savannah has yarn stores, too

This past week was spouse’s and my 12th wedding anniversary. We decided to take a short vacation trip to celebrate. We hadn’t taken a vacation-type trip together in several years. In fact, the last time was Labor Day weekend 2009, and our impromptu jaunt to Carmel, so we were overdue.

So what did we do? We went to Savannah for four days! We stayed at a beautiful old hotel, ate some fabulous food, saw some gorgeous sights, and generally just enjoyed being together with no distractions like work, pets, or chores.

Monday, we took a trolley tour of the historic district.

Trolley Tour
This was a “hop-on, hop-off” tour, which meant we could get off at any of several designated spots if we wanted to take a closer look, and then get back on the next trolley that came around when we were ready to move on. The trolleys came through about every 20 minutes or so, making it really easy to spend just the right amount of time at any given historic spot and not have to wait too long to continue on the tour.

We hopped off a few times and took lots of pictures. These are just a few.

Fountain 1

Public Xylophone

Wrought Iron Wreaths

Church Rotunda

Stained Glass 1

Telfair Hospital

Langston Headstone

Mr. Grumpy
Mr. Grumpy
All that walking around Monday wore us out, so we slept in Tuesday morning, then hit the bricks again, this time completely on foot. I had found the address of a yarn store and I wanted to visit it, because I do my best to shop the LYS wherever I go and buy something local. Spouse grumbled but went along. We shot lots more photographs along the way, including one of him.

Bless his heart.

Book LadyThe yarn store I wanted was out of business (boo), but luckily the custom tailoring shop that shared their space knew of another LYS nearby and gave us directions. And in the basement of the same building as the defunct LYS was a bookstore! Had the LYS been open, this would have been the perfect shopping combo for me! Spouse started counting his lucky stars that this had not been the case.

The book store was wonderful, with books slotted and shelved in all sorts of nooks and crannies and hidey-holes. I found a hardcover edition of George R. R. Martin’s Armageddon Rag that I nearly bought. I talked myself out of buying it because we were headed to the yarn store next, and I didn’t know how much I would end up spending in there. I can get the book from the library; I can’t get yarn there.

I’m regretting that decision. But only a little. Because yarn!

The store is called The Frayed Knot. And it’s lovely. Just look! They have their yarn arranged by color!

Frayed Knot 1Frayed Knot 2

What’s not to love about that, right? This made me very happy, and I told them so. They carry some lovely stuff: Madeline Tosh, Rowan, Blue Sky Alpaca, and a local yarn called Copper Corgi, which is what I bought.

Copper Corgi 2

460 yds of fingering weight 100% superwash merino, in colorway “Devil’s Kiss”. It’s simply gorgeous and needs to become a shawl, a fiery swirl of lace to wear in the dead of winter, perhaps with tiny beads to add sparkle. I will scour the Ravelry pattern database for something suitable. Or — and this thought just occurred to me — maybe even design my own? I’ve never designed a shawl. Just fingerless mitts (which reminds me, I really need to write that pattern up, have it tested, and publish it), and the occasional improvised baby blanket. Hmm. It’s a thought. Dare I say…an inspiration?

So this is Inspiration Saturday, after all. Who knew?

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Project planning, Yarn stash

This year’s Stitches bounty

Pictures speak for themselves. 🙂

Tyche 1
A Hundred Ravens “Tyche” in colorway London. 400 yds fingering weight, 100% superwash merino. Most likely destined for a crescent shawl. But could possibly become socks.

Tarte 2
Miss Babs “Tarte” in colorway Perfectly Wreckless. 500 yds fingering weight, 75% superwash merino/15% nylon/10% tencel. Such a bright colorway should probably become some highly visible accessory.

Kilimanjaro 1
Miss Babs “Kilimanjaro” in colorway Zombie Prom. 875 yds fingering weight, 85% superwash Blue Face Leicester/15% nylon. With so much yardage, I’m thinking maybe a vest or shrug, or possibly a lacy cardigan.

Eidos 2
The Verdant Gryphon “Eidos” in colorway Rivalin and Blanchefleur. 420 yds fingering weight, 100% superwash merino. This subtle colorway is perfect for a delicate evening-type lace shawl.

Nuna 1
A bag (10 skeins) of Mirasol “Nuna” in colorway 1034 Camel. Each skein 191 yds sport weight, 40% merino/40% silk/20% bamboo. A sweater quantity of yarn, definitely destined for a cardigan or pullover. Just look how the silk shimmers!

Stitches Booty 1
All the yarn booty. Except, of course, the yarn that I won, which is below.

Cowgirl Bandana 1
The Buffalo Wool Co “Tracks”, 1 400-yd skein in colorway Deep Turquoise, 2 200-yd skeins in colorway Natural. Fingering weight, 90% superwash merino/10% bison down.

And then there are the buttons:

Vintage Mother of Pearl Buttons
Vintage mother-of-pearl, approx 1″ in diameter. And when I say “vintage”, I mean each of these buttons is over 100 years old. Yes, I paid through the nose for them. But they were worth every penny. Even though I haven’t the faintest idea what pattern will be worthy of them.

Red Marble Buttons
Fun resin buttons, each about 9/16″ in diameter. I have a gorgeous red silk yarn that will work with these beauties.

Orange Blossom Buttons
More resin buttons, each about 3/4″ in diameter. They seem somewhat Asian in theme, so maybe they can go on a kimono-style jacket. I’ll have to shop the stash carefully, because I’m not sure I have the right yarn for them.

I took $240 with me to market. Out of that, I spent maybe $15 on lunch, and the rest went to yarn and buttons. I exceeded my self-imposed budget by less than $50, and only because I had to have those mother-of-pearl buttons. All in all, a very good year!

By the way, I told spouse he should consider himself very lucky, because the woman sitting next to me at the student banquet said she spent over $3,000 in the market, and she still wasn’t done shopping. Oy.

Posted in Blog Week, Knitting, Life in general, Project planning

Egad!

How did two months go by without a single blog entry?  Well, tomorrow I’ll be at Stitches South.  I’ll have stuff to show you when I get back, so expect an update (with pics) sometime in the next few days.

In the meantime, I’m quite pleased to know I did NOT miss Knit & Crochet Blog Week. It’s next month. You can read all about it over at Eskimimi Makes. Join us!