Wednesday, April 11, 2018

April Happenings

Hello, Friends!!

It has been a while, hasn't it? Like, a month! But, you know, life demanded attention and a lot of stuff fell by the wayside. As a result, by the end of most days I was just too exhausted to even knit. For me, that's pretty darn tired because I'm usually never too tired to knit! But alas, I was. Quite honestly though, I'm glad for the mini-break because I was starting to feel a little burnt out when it came to all things knitting (and that included social media). I didn't realize I was feeling burnt out until I read Amy's post about how she was feeling tired of knitting too. I thought I was losing my knitty mojo but I knew in the back of my head there was more to it than that. It sort of relieved me to know that someone else "in the game" was feeling this way too and it sort of gave me permission to go easy on myself for not wanting to be all about knitting all the time.

Anyhoo, without this post getting too wordy (as I know I can sometimes get!!), I'll leave you with a "gist list" of things that have happened or will be happening around here:

 The Kiddo just had his two-week Spring Break. Trust me when I say that two weeks is a long time. Especially when you didn't plan a single thing - no camps, no days away, no adventures. Both mine and the Mister's work schedules just didn't allow it. The Kiddo is old enough to entertain himself and doesn't need me to supervise him 24/7, so I really can't say I was busy, busy, busy for those entire two weeks, so much so that I couldn't get anything done. No, I'll admit that I never got anything done because I decided to be lazy for those two weeks. Also, I never turned down his requests to play a board game. If anything, I was the one hounding him just as much. Anything to get him off the electronic devices, if only for a little bit!

 I thought I would take the chance to use Spring Break as an opportunity and somewhat as a deadline to "Bang Out a Carbeth". Yeah...that didn't happen. I got as far as getting halfway through the body before I decided to give my hands a break and simply because of the aforementioned knitting burn out.

 Now that Spring Break is over, the Kiddo is back in school, and my work schedule seems sort of stable for the rest of the month, I'm feeling eager to get cracking on Carbeth. If I haven't fallen asleep on the couch by 9pm, the Mister and I have been throwing on some Bob's Burgers on Netflix and I've been getting in a few rounds here and there...before we both fall asleep on the couch.

 I've made the final executive decision to STOP accepting custom project bag orders, especially in situations in which the customer purchases and then ships me the fabric. After a span of several months for a handful of customers, it was getting WAY too stressful for me when I had no control over both time and the postal systems. Maybe it's because I live on an island, maybe it's Canada Post, either way, packages took way too long to get to me (even when they were coming from only a few hours away up island!) and it was even more nerve-wracking when packages left my hands and took way too long to arrive (and one time got lost). I learned that just because you PAY for express shipping, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll GET express shipping. Same goes for tracking. Just because you pay for it, it doesn't always mean you'll know where that package is. In the end, the custom project bags with customer fabric was just too time-consuming and costly.

 I've also made the decision to STOP accepting custom project bag orders that involve me trying to find the fabric(s) in a theme a customer is looking for. The fabric store options in my area are extremely limited and again, placing online orders take time. I won't even get into the demands for fabrics that are no longer in print (and the threats of "going to another maker that wants the business")! I guess I'm just too thin-skinned for custom work.

 For those asking, I have not finished my Wanderers Mukluks. After frogging the whole she-bang and successfully finishing one Mukluk, I decided to take a break. Mostly because a part of me is insanely worried that by breaking the yarn to rearrange the colour sequence, I may have shorted myself on yardage needed for the other Mukluk. So now I'm in avoidance mode. Don't judge.  

 I finished The Weekender pullover but have yet to block it. I thought maybe Spring Break would've been the perfect time to do so but then discovered that with the Kiddo home full-time I simply lacked the space. Also, I lost the momentum of getting it done when I discovered just how warm my workplaces were and that such woolly goodness would leave me in a state of all-day sweat-a-thon and I would possibly suffer from heat exhaustion. Yet as my work gets warmer, I'm finding my house AND outside is still just as cold as it was in the winter months. So there's still time to block this bad boy and still get some decent wear out of it before the warm weather gets here (if it ever does!).

 On the sock knitting front, well, it's been slow going. My hand just hasn't been loving the combo of tiny yarn on tiny needles lately, so the lack of sock knitting isn't fully by choice. I haven't touched Pixel Rise since forever and had only touched my stripey, plain vanilla socks here and there while out and about. I have yet to even finished the first sock!

I think that's it, for now. What have you been knitting on lately?

Friday, March 9, 2018

All The Ends!

Look at all those ends!!

Last weekend I took advantage of Craftsy's free, All-You-Can-Watch Weekend and decided to check out the class, The Essential Guide to Finishing Handknits with Anne Hanson. Even though I've been knitting for over 10 years and, according to Ravelry, have knit over 250 items, I'm still not that confident in some of my finishing techniques. I'm a firm believer that in knitting there are several ways to do something and that for a lot of things there's really no "right" or "wrong" way, as long as you achieve what you were after and that in the end, it looks nice to you. 

Still, I always felt uncertain about my techniques. Probably because I'm a self-taught knitter. In the past, I've read books and online tutorials and I've watched YouTube videos and even fellow knitters at knit nights on how they accomplish various finishing techniques. I've always been tempted to take finishing classes when they're offered at knitting events like Knit City and Vogue Knitting Live, but usually get lured away with the promises of yarn shopping or meet-ups with friends from out of town. So when I learned about the All-You-Can-Watch Weekend you can bet that I was going to make sure I took one of the finishing classes that they offered! And let me tell you, I'm SO glad I took advantage of the opportunity!!

The second the class ended I had gained this newfound confidence. I wanted to cast on immediately a project that involved seaming. I wanted to cast on a project that involved sewing in a zipper. I wanted to sew grosgrain ribbon to the back of every button band on every cardigan I had ever knitted. I felt like there was nothing I couldn't do knitting-wise!

Buuuut I settled for just weaving in the ends on a pile of projects finished months and years ago. *ahem*  Unfortunately, due to the lack of space in my place, I'll have to block each project one at a time. I figured if these projects have already waited months and years for their time in the spotlight, I'm sure an extra day or two won't matter... But hey, at least I'm weaving in the ends! That's a HUGE step for me. My M.O. seems to be that I get overly excited and obsessive over a pattern/project, knit it up in a frenzy, and then the second that last stitch is bound off I promptly forget all about the knit and move on to the next shiny and new project. Since I don't consider a project a proper FO until I've woven in the ends and blocked it, a lot of the time my projects end up in a heap next to my desk...or I'll wear the knit anyways (especially when it's socks)...

I'm excited to be adding a handful of knits (mostly shawls) to my spring wardrobe rotation. I just hope my family doesn't mind the constant smell of wet wool in the living room for the next week or two!  

♥ Happy Weekend Knitting! ♥

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Knit In Progress: Weekender Pullover

In my last post, I mentioned that I had cast on a new project as a reward for enduring a week of sickness. At the time I didn't want to say what that new project was as I felt like I was going through a weird phase in my knitting where everything I touched turned to crap. The last thing I needed was to get my hopes up (again) about a design I really love and can't wait to wear, just to have the knit fall flat (again!), me feeling utterly defeated, and my knitting mojo go out the window.

I felt desperate and just needed a knit to go right for me, so I picked out a pattern that looked really easy and simple and just so happened to have the yarn called for in the pattern in my stash...AND it just so happened to be a worsted weight yarn. The bigger the yarn, the quicker the knit. Right? I wanted to cast on the new project as fast as I could that I didn't even bother to dig out my swift and ball winder from my closet. Instead, I quickly wound half the yarn into a ball by hand before I got overly impatient and decided to just cast on enough stitches for a swatch.

Yes. I swatched.

That's how determined I am to get my knitting groove back. Usually, my gauge is predictable and if I'm using a yarn that I've knit with several times before, I can generally forego a swatch and dive right into a new knit. But lately, my gauge has been all over the place and its the main reason why I'm having so many issues with my current projects. I managed to get gauge on the first try with the recommended needle size and so before I could lose that momentum I quickly cast on my new project. I quickly cast on The Weekender pullover by Andrea Mowry.

I'm using the recommended yarn, Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter, which also turned out to be a two-fer for me as I had made it a goal this year to knit something out of my Brooklyn Tweed stash. After my disastrous venture with the Loft base a few years ago, where the yarn had snapped a few times while winding it and then snapped a few times more while trying to knit a cable, I had all but given up on knitting with any Brooklyn Tweed yarn. My Brooklyn Tweed stash ended up just languishing in my stash, taunting me every time I had to dig through the bins looking for a yarn for my next project. Since I'm forever in a stage of purging, back in December I decided that I must give Brooklyn Tweed one more try and from there decide if I should keep the rest of my BT yarns or if I need to destash the rest and free up some prime stash real estate.

So how's it been going so far? I'd say, good. It's been a little over a week and already I've knit up the body, the front, and I'm halfway through the back. I don't think the sleeves will be that painful to whip up, seeing that I have short, T-Rex arms! The pattern has been super easy thus far and a really soothing, relaxing knit to boot. I think because the body is a straight up tube of knitting in the round. So mindless, so wonderful for when all you want to do is knit, knit, knit. Perfect for when I binged Bob's Burgers with the Mister when it was his turn to be sick last week and for when I had met up with friends for an afternoon of beer, knitting, and catching up.

Even the tubular cast-on and bind-off at the hem and neck were easy peasy and a nice break from the monotony of knitting stockinette in the round. I've never done a tubular bind-off before and was pleasantly surprised to discover just how easy it was to pull off and not at all as complicated or overwhelming as I had originally thought it would be. Must be all those cuff-down socks I've knit in the past and having to graft the toes! 

The beginnings of a tubular bind-off

As for the yarn, well it hasn't snapped in half on me yet (phew!) and I love the fact that I can spit splice when joining a new skein (YAY for not having a million ends to weave in!!). My only issue is the amount of dust (mainly the super short fibres and dye debris) and vegetable matter (VM) that settle everywhere I knit. And you can tell where I've knit by the faint red layer of dust that I leave behind. A few days ago I even got a splinter on the side of my finger as the working yarn slid across my pointer finger! I'm now really interested in seeing how this yarn will wash and block.

I don't want to overdo it on the knitting and have another flair-up with my hand, but I have such a great knitting momentum going that I don't want to stop. I'm hoping to finish this pullover before the week is over and since I don't have that many ends to weave in I just may actually block this project and get to wear it in a timely manner!! Shocking, I know!! My M.O. seems to be: go crazy for a pattern, knit it up in an obsessive frenzy, get turned off by all the ends and finishing work that has to be done, lose interest and forget, get distracted by shiny new project, come around years later and then block the darn thing.

Not this time. No, not this time.* 

*Ok, fine. You know me well. I'm hoping I'll do the finishings, block, and be able to wear this pullover immediately after binding off the last stitch. Hoping. Cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Returning to Normal


Can you believe that we have less than a week of February left? Where has the time gone? Well, I can tell you where last week went - straight down the toilet while the Kiddo and I were bedridden sick for a full week with the most horrendous flu I have ever experienced or seen. I was so sick that I didn't even want to knit!! Even now, barely a week later, while I'm feeling MUCH better, I'm still not feeling 100% and so I'm slowly getting back into knitting.

Since my brain still feels somewhat a little muddled, here's what's been going on knitting-wise around here in point form:

➳ I've decided to cast on something new, sort of like a prize for enduring that week of sickness. And because we're currently going through quite the cold snap, I want to knit all the super warm woollies...and socks just don't cut it.

➳ I don't want to say what I've cast on just yet, simply because I might rip it out in a day or two. That seems to be the thing that just happens as of late. Ever go through the phase where everything you touch turns to crap? Yeah, that's me right now.

➳ I will tell you though, that I'm knitting with Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in this new project. I had made it a goal this year to knit something using my BT stash. I'm giving this yarn one more chance and if I'm still not a fan that I really need to destash the rest. Before I get hate mail for my lukewarm feelings about Brooklyn Tweed: I'm such a tight knitter that I find any woollen-spun yarn is too delicate for me.

➳ Last month I bought a set of Addi FlexiFlips - the newest DPNs on the North American market from Addi (they're known as "addiCraSyTrio" in Europe). They have the flexibility and bendiness of a circular needle with a combo of a basic tip and a Rocket tip on each needle, all in the form of slightly longer than normal DPNs.

➳ To fully test out these new needles, I decided that it was a must that I cast on a new pair of plain vanilla socks. So I did. I grabbed some self-striping yarn from the Box of Sock Yarn (the yarn is conveniently know, it being February and all) and currently have half a sock. The needles haven't fixed my laddering problems and I've had to adjust how I knit just a smidge in order to find a comfortable position, but overall I am enjoying knitting with them. But we'll see how I truly feel once I get to the heel...when I finally decide what kind of heel to knit, that is.

➳ I still have Pixel Rise on the needles. There's no update on these as I haven't touched them in a long while simply because I was really into knitting up my other projects. But in the back of my head, I think I stopped working on them so that I could sort out my tension issues of knitting with yarn in both hands.

➳ I still have Wanderers on the needles too. The second slipper was coming along fantastically well but have now hit another snag (grrrrr...!!!). I guess leading up to me getting sick my tension got a whole lot tighter. Half an inch tighter, to be exact! My continental knitting is so much tighter than my usual throwing style that I think I have to go up a few needle sizes to accommodate this. Which means I now have to frog the entire second slipper...and possibly the first. This irks me so much that I haven't done anything to them yet. Even though I know that it's inevitable that I will have to frog them. There's nothing that could make the slippers bigger (not even blocking) or my calves smaller. *sigh*

➳ I was hoping to get an old WIP off the needles (one of my Breathing Space pullovers) but quickly discovered that I was not only running out of yarn (the main colour) but I also didn't have another skein in the stash. I'm totally perplexed as to why I would use a colour that I only had one skein of, knowing that I would most likely need more than that?? What was I thinking?? So now I need to order more...but I'm sort of putting it off cause a part of me wants to order more than just the skein I need in order to make the shipping worth it. You know how it goes...right?

Well, I think that's that. Until next time, Happy knitting!!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Knit In Progress: Wanderers Mukluks

Sometimes I like to cast on a new project when my current project comes to a standstill. Usually, this standstill is a result of me being indecisive as to whether or not to rip back or frog the project, or the project simply requires more brain power than I'm willing to/can give at the moment. Since I just want to do the act of knitting, I'll "solve" this problem by casting on something new. I know, I know...that's not really a solution to my knitting problems and can sometimes add to the problem if I run into an issue with the new project. I'm going to put it out there right now that there's nothing wrong with my Pixel Rise socks. I'm just a fickle knitter with the brain of a magpie.

Nothing amplifies this point more than this new project that I had cast-on just two weeks after starting the Pixel Rise socks. I've been wanting to knit up Andrea Mowry's Wanderers: Modern Mukluks pattern for months and months but had always put it off because I had too many WIPs on the needles or because I had knits with deadlines. Then last month I decided enough was enough. I'm an adult and I can knit whatever I want, when I want. 

No regrets.

Or guilt.

So I dug through the stash and found the balls of yarn that I had saved for the mukluks, and with a glass of wine by my side, I finally cast on Wanderers.

The very last time I made a Knit Picks order I added two balls of Chroma Worsted - one in white and one in a colourway called "Party Hat", specifically to knit up a pair of Wanderers with. I'm absolutely LOVING how these yarns and this pattern are knitting up together. I REALLY wish I had ordered more than just one ball of Party Hat. I simply cannot get enough of this colourway!! The colourway itself and how it's knitting up is way more than I had expected. As for the pattern, I'm only on the first chart and so far it's been a pretty easy knit. The chart makes it really clear as to which stitch is used in which yarn and once I got the first repeat under my belt I found that I only had to refer to the chart only once in a while to make sure I'm on the right track. After two repeats I was able to "read" my knitting and only had to look at the chart if I had taken a break and needed a refresher as to where I was on the chart.

With all that said, I have hit a little bump with the first slipper. The colour repeat in Party Hat has decided to go in reverse from a bright pink to a dusty rose and back to bright pink, from mid-calf to right above the ankle! I kept knitting though, cause I wanted to see how the colours would play out. I had put in the waste yarn for the afterthought heel and kept knitting onto the foot. Out of curiosity as to how it would look on my foot, I put the heel stitches on some extra cables and tried on the slipper. Yeah...I'm not sure if I'm ok with the double stripes of bright pink. And I'm not sure if this will bug me or not.

What do you think?

Instead of letting this colour snag stop me from knitting on this project altogether, I decided to do what I think any knitter would do (hopefully!): I went ahead and cast on the second slipper to give myself a chance to "sleep on it". I weighed out both balls of yarn, saw that I had more than enough of the white, and divided the rest of the Party Hat so that I knew how much I had left for the first slipper (which is now a bunch of colourful rings - as you can see in the first photo of this post) and saved the last half of the ball for the second slipper. I got lucky in that the other end of the Party Hat ball is the same colour sequence as the beginning! So I was able to move forward easily by simply using the other end of both balls. Sweet!

While I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I don't hit a similar snag on this second slipper, a huge part of me knows that this is most likely wishful thinking. But I'll make a final decision as to what to do when I get to that point. In the meantime, I'm going to knit, knit, knit!

I don't knit colourwork as often as I would like to and in fact, had made it a goal one year to do more of it (but then never did any). My issues with colourwork: one, I definitely have to work on my tension issues, especially with the contrasting colour (which is the white), as I hold that strand in my left hand and knit it continental-style; and two, I don't really like to take colourwork projects out of the house. 

I don't find colourwork projects easy to whip out and shove back into a bag in between errands and I hate having to untangle strands and/or balls of yarn before I get to start knitting. Although, a few weeks ago I whipped up a small drawstring project bag that had a divider and yarn guides so that I could take my Pixel Rise socks out to knit night (which I ended up not going to) without worrying about the aforementioned issues. I haven't fully tested out this bag to its fullest potential yet (as in, it has yet to leave the house), but when I do, I'll be making some for the Etsy shop! I'm starting to think I should make another one for this project...

Hopefully, I can get these slippers knitted up and off the needles before the weather gets too warm so that I can actually wear them. Wish me luck that I'll make a decision about that double pink stripe before I either finish the second slipper or get to the same spot on the second! 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Knit In Progress: Pixel Rise

I am one of those sock knitters who will openly and unabashedly admit that I usually have more than one sock WIP on the needles at any given time. Generally, I try to have at least one plain vanilla sock on the go (hey, I have a lot of self-striping yarn!!), especially if I'm also working on a project that's a little more involved or complicated. Most of the time, I get too impatient and can't help but cast on a new sock project when I'm a cuff or a toe away from finishing the current sock. 

Well, this time was no different. The second I had bound off the last stitch on my Rainbow Stripes Askewed socks I immediately started Pixel Rise by Kemper Wray. If you follow me on social media this is already old news! I've been wanting to knit this pattern ever since I spotted Kemper's pair on Instagram over a year ago. Then, I was super lucky to win her Instagram giveaway for both the pattern AND a Junk Yarn (which Kemper dyes) mini skein set put together exclusively for the pattern! I tempted to cast on the day the yarn arrived in my mailbox but held off because I didn't have the right colour yarn for the toes and cuffs in my stash. I was hoping to find and use a light grey for the toes and cuffs but after a year I couldn't wait any longer and decided that my skein of Regia Jeans Style Color will have to do. That, and I was really rushing to pack as we were heading to the mainland for Christmas and I basically threw any yarn that was nearby into a project bag before running out the door. I'm happy that I went with the Regia, though, I think the darker grey really makes the lighter colours pop. 

So far I'm loving the pattern and think it's a step up from plain vanilla. I do have to refer to the chart every second round to remind me exactly where I am and which colour to use to start the round, as my mind tends to wander...quite often. I also worry a lot about my tension and whether or not if I'm leaving long enough floats in the back. It's been a long time since I did colourwork last and so I feel quite rusty. From time to time I get paranoid that the socks will turn out wonky and unwearable. There have even been a few times where I was really tempted to rip back and start again because my tension looks tight in certain areas. And there's only so much blocking can do for that!

Since I'm using mini skeins and didn't feel like weighing and dividing each of them out into two little balls, I decided to knit this pair two at a time (TAAT). Well, the way I do two at a time - which is one sock on its own circular needle but is knit up together, one section at a time. Normally, I cast on the toe and knit until the toe increases are done and then cast on the second and do the same. Then I move back to the first sock and knit the foot to the start of the heel. Repeat for the second sock and so on. For Pixel Rise, I've been knitting two colours as a section on one sock before knitting the same on the second. It feels like the socks are knitting up a little faster this way. I probably would be a whole lot faster in knitting these up if I hadn't cast on a pair of slippers and was still working away on a shawl...


It's all good though, I'm thoroughly enjoying everything that's on my needles right now and don't feel any urgent need to get everything finished immediately. It's such a pleasant break from the usual "gotta get this done NOW!!" feeling that I normally have. Let's just hope this break lasts for a while!!

How do you knit socks? One at a time? Two at a time on oe long circular? Do tell!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

2017: In Review

We're halfway through the first month of the year and I'm finally settling into a routine and making plans (and to-do lists!!) to get down to business. Now, I've already posted about my goals for this year before I even had a chance to look back and reflect on how I did last year. Maybe it's because I didn't make any goals for 2017 and so I have nothing to measure the year against? I know that I didn't finish as many projects as I have in the past but I also know that I didn't end the year with a massive pile of WIPs that were cast on in 2017. The pile of WIPs that were cast on in previous years, though, that are still around...that's another story! 

We won't go there today. Instead, let's take a look at what I've done last year. Like in previous years, I've broken down my 2017 crafting into point form stats:

➳ 8,518.5 metres (9,316 yards) was knit up from stash
➳ 21,065 metres (23,037 yards) was added to the stash
➳ 6,093 metres (6,663 yards) was destashed/sold/gifted
➳ I ended the year with more yarn by 6,454 metres (7,058 yards), hence the need to go cold sheep this year!!
➳ I've knit and/or finished:
      :: 1 blanket
      :: 1 cowl
      :: 2 hats (1 adult, 1 baby)
      :: 2 felted rings
      :: 2 sweaters
      :: 4 shawls
      :: 7 pairs of socks

➳ I've cast-on but did not finish:
      :: 1 blanket
      :: 1 shawl
      :: 1 pair of socks
      :: 1 sweater
➳ I crocheted 2 items (basket trays for the win!!)
➳ 2 fibre events were attended (both were local)
➳ 1 Knit Picks order was made
➳ 10 online yarn orders were made with only 2 of them being from a different country!

Not every finished item was blogged, photographed, or even posted on Instagram. Maybe one day I'll actually get around to blogging about those finished knits. For now, here are the knits that I did share either here on the blog or somewhere on social media:

Clockwise from top left: August Socks, Oracle Space Socks, Skew Across the Universe, Rose City Opal Rollers, Rainbows & Unicorns, Miss.Matched

Clockwise from left: Starry Water Shawl, #pussyhatproject, Heart.Felt rings, Serpentina Pixie hat

Both basket trays were made with Lion Brand Thick & Quick
Left: in Hudson colourway; Right: in Coney Island colourway 

Hmmm...not too bad considering that there were a few months at the beginning of the year where I wasn't able to knit. Regardless of the lack of goals made, one goal that I seem to always have year after year, whether it's spoken out loud or not, is to always try to knit from stash. It's quite obvious from the above statistics that I had failed miserably. In my defense, a lot of these stash additions were acquired during retail therapy.

To be overly honest, and maybe a titch TMI, I spent a huge portion of last year utterly depressed. I hemmed and hawed over whether or not to post this part but decided to anyway. I won't go into the details but will say that the time I was unable to knit really revealed how much of a role knitting plays in my mental health and my self-care. No amount of meditation, yoga, essential oils, reading, running, or hiking helped. My other favourite hobby (sewing) wasn't a possibility either since it too is hand-intensive work. I got so severely depressed that I stopped going to knit nights, I barely logged onto social media (actually, not going onto Facebook did a world of good for me and have since limited my time spent on there), I didn't want to see people, I barely left the house if I didn't have to, and I slept all.the.time. I was so miserable that when I was able to knit again, I didn't want to. And trust me when I say I'm never too anything to not want to knit. Not this time. 

Needless to say, I spent a huge portion of the last half of 2017 putting myself "back together again" and being able to knit and doing so has definitely helped. My depression will forever be work-in-progress but at least for now things are much brighter and I'm hoping 2018 will be a much, MUCH better year than 2017.

How was your 2017?

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