Fridays are for finishing, Saturday Edition.

But I really did finish stuff on Friday.

Complete with shite lighting!

I managed to be productive this week! I have been plugging away on my Spring, Sprang, Sprung Cowl (and formatting the pattern as I go to save time on the backend). I finished writting/formatting the pattern for the crochet triangular shawl for my class tomorrow; I have a couple of pictures I want to take of the three samples together (which I’ll do when I go in to teach a different class today). Yesterday I also finished seaming and weaving in the ends of my 2019 block-a-month KAL throw. We have the wrap-up class today (Jan 25), no time like the last minute!

Teaching 13 classes (12 blocks plus the stitch up) for a single project was fun. Over the course of the year I had some student rotation, but the same core of people for most of the year. As a teacher, it was particularly rewarding to see my student’s confidence in knitting grow right along with their skills! There were even a couple techniques that I had never bothered to try before: namely fisherman’s rib, bubble stitch, and faux cables. These new techniques were fun and easy. As a moderately experienced cable knitter, I still prefer the use of a cable needle to the faux cables!

My students produced some incredible blankets! Every one was different and beautiful. One student chose to work her’s in a single colorway- it is INCREDIBLE and inspired me to work my 2020 block-a-month KAL and CAL blankets in single colorways. Another student worked her’s in a muted neutral palette. Another worked her’s with mixed tweeds in slightly smaller yarn at a smaller gauge. All of my students work their blankets at a larger size than the 12-square size of 36″ x 48″- which I how I worked mine.

With yard stick for scale.

The patterns weren’t perfect: there were a number of typos and ambiguous instruction, some of the blocks don’t really fit cohesively into the whole of the blanket. I modified one of the KAL blocks to be easier to work AND have a pattern we could actually see with straight edges. These are some of the drawbacks to working patterns distributed by the corporate department of a big box craft store.

Today is our final 2019 wrap-up class. I’m bringing my ladies rosemary butter cookies, chocolates, and sparkling grape juice. Sticking through a 13 part project deserves a party!
I’m looking forward to seeing how the 2020 KAL shakes out, we started last week and I have a great group.

Revolution 39 Complete

39 years and 2 days. No make-up, gross hair selfie.

I have officially completed my 39th revolution around the sun. No I don’t feel any older, but today totally feels like Wednesday, because it is. My birthday wasn’t that big of a deal this year. Mostly because I’ve been sidetracked by designing, and blogging, and laundry. But Monday was a great day. I made a playlist for my Monday Kettlebells class, and the trainer designed an awesome workout around it. Strict Presses, Mixed Carries, Squat Cleans, Swings, V-ups. Some of my favorite things! The whole family went to lunch (federal holiday for the win!), we ran some errands. I made some modified Slutty Brownies from the Oh! Mrs. Tucker Blog.

Modified Slutty Brownies. Chocolate Chip Cookie Base, Pretzel Layer, Brownie Top. SO RICH. SO DECADENT.

Yeah, Slutty Brownies. If you have sensitive sensibilities or little kids, Scandalous Brownies make a good substituent name. We didn’t have Oreos or other cookies around, so I used the rest of a stale bag of pretzels in the middle. Next time, I’m using MORE PRETZELS and CARAMEL in the center.

This is a craft-centric blog, so onto the craftiness!
One of my 2020 goals (specifically January/February) was to get my partial skeins untangled and consolidated. I tackled the largest bin yesterday. It was mostly DK/Worsted/Aran with a couple bits of sock and chunky thrown in.

Before. Not the worst.

I also consolidated yarns into this container so its all together. I am using plastic sandwich bags to keep everything separated and labeled. Not the most environmentally friendly method, BUT I intend of reusing the bags repeatedly. AND when they are full of raggedy holes and busted out, they’ll be CLEAN bags and suitable for bag recycling. After a couple of hours of detangling, bagging, and labeling, I’m well on my way to meeting one of my 2020 organizing goals.

After: An improvement to be sure!

Organizing will perpetually be a work in progress. I’m considering breaking out chunky and fingering into their own separate area, and dividing my medium weight partials into acrylic and wool. I have a little more to consolidate before I start adding all of my full ball stash to Ravelry this year (the task seems SOOO daunting, even if its only about 200 balls of yarn).

How do you organize your stash and your remainders? I would love to see your solutions!

Super Slouch Saturday

Freezing Rain makes me want to stay indoors. Modeled low.

Yesterday afternoon I was lamenting my lack of finished items for the week. Then I got thinking… what is stopping me from creating and finishing something TODAY?? The answer was obviously nothing. I went through the run down of a quick project requirements. Small-ish finished size, available yarn, medium to large hook/needle size. But I also wanted it to be something new AND interesting. This hat checked off so many boxes: Small, had the yarn but no planned project, medium hook, I hadn’t designed a crochet hat yet, I loved this stitch pattern when I used it in a CAL last month.

I set off to create armed with an idea, a hook, some yarn, and my trusty pencil and paper for calculations. After a few false starts, I was off and crocheting like a flash (a frequently interrupted flash). With about 5 hours of stitching, my hat was complete on Friday evening around 11 pm (local time). I have dubbed the hat: Wintery Mix Slouch Hat. The yarn color: Sleet, the snowball looking pom-pom, and today’s forecast: sleet and freezing rain, were all name inspiration.

Fresh off the hook

The V-Puff Stitch is a total YARN PIG. I was pensive that I would need to use a second ball so it would be long enough. After 14 total pattern repeats, the hat has just a touch of slouch, which is EXACTLY what I was going for. Because of the severe gather at the crown, I wouldn’t work this up as a shorter beanie. I also highly recommend the pom-pom; it adds enough weight to the hat that it slouches and doesn’t stick up like a sad-elf toque. This hat is moderately warm I was able to wear it around the house for a while without overheating. Winter Precipitation isn’t a hat I would reach for on a frigid, windy day. Unless, of course, you want to put a fleece liner in it, I won’t stop you and would love to see how that works out. I would say this hat is more for style than functionality.

Its hard to see the giant pom-pom when shot head on.

I had been wanting to try Lion Brand Yarn’s Re-Tweed for some time, and I caught a good sale. I like the yarn. It is firm, doesn’t split, and has amazing stitch definition. I wouldn’t call it soft, but against the skin it is not itchy. I like the slightly rustic feel, the structure, and the eco-conscious bend. This hat was the right application, I wanted slouch without much drape. If you want a finished product with a lot of drape, this may not be the right yarn for you.

As far as pattern release goes: hopefully this week! I have a test-crochet out on it now. When its finished and any errata is taken care of it will be available on Ravelry for download. EDIT: The pattern is released and is available HERE!!

Modeled High

Fridays are for Finishing?

Enjoying the journey.

Except today.

I haven’t finished anything all week. I’ve started a couple projects. I’ve worked on a couple of standing projects. I overdyed some old stash yarn. I THOUGHT about frogging my old WIP, Paulie. I purchased some yarn. I’ve had a bunch of new project ideas that I’m excited to start.

I had some lofty goals for the year, to finish SOMETHING, ANYTHING, once a week. January isn’t even over and I “failed” this week. I create for enjoyment mostly, but there are times I want to see the tangible, usable efforts of my work. I get chronic start-itis and the WIPs pile up.

Progress. And yes, my bamboo needle is BENT

Even though I haven’t finished anything, I’ve been making progress on a new design prototype. Last night, I wanted to see if I could translate the idea into crochet, I CAN.

My idea works! The yarn, not so much. At all.

I would be more excited about the crochet mitered square translation project if I didn’t dislike the yarn SO MUCH. It was a gift. Its ugly. And not in a cute ironic way. I’ve tried making sock out of it but it was just too horriffic.

I couldn’t even finish it.

In my obsessive creative flurry, I over dyed some yarn I previously dyed. About 6 years ago, I dyed a bunch of yarn a lightish green color. I used a handful of skeins in a sweater, but three that were particularly bright didn’t make the cut. They were stashed in a bin in the basement closet, away from all my other stash for years. When I was thinking about ideas to start in the coming months, my mind kept coming back to this yarn. Its soft, plump, has excellent stitch definition, and doesn’t pill too badly with lots of wear. This is the year of the destash. The previous color wasn’t going to work. Part of the design process is to use colors that photograph well and that other people will find attractive. Who wants to spend time and money creating a project from an unattractive template? I had initially planned on on overdying the yarn blue. I love blues. But I had a barely used bottle of Emerald Green.

The green is a little outside my wheelhouse, but I think it will work spectacularly.

Lastly, my Paulie. I’m having second thoughts about frogging it. I like the colors. My concerns about it not fitting may be unfounded. There is enough width in the body, even with out the button bands. My main concern, the underarm length may be scant, but I think the waste yarn holding my stitches is more the issue than the opening itself. I’m pretty sure I have enough yarn to finish with abbreviated sleeves (short? half??). Indecision is the WORST.

My long languishing Paulie.

I hope by next Friday I will have finished something. And will be able to share a victory!

Making Fun Work

Making work fun?

I LOVED writing this pattern!

I often lament there are not enough hours in the day. When my spouse is on travel, the feeling is compounded. He seriously keeps this place from falling into chaos. When I have my regular tasks PLUS his tasks, sometimes I feel burnt out and overwhelmed by the end of the day. It would be easy to blow off the gym, order take out every night, eat off of paper plates, and let the house stay trashed. But instead I power through. Wrangle the tiny humans, cook, keep the house from complete chaos (barely holding on here), find time to shower. Unfortunately, a lot of my time available to work when I’m feeling most creative is eaten up by additional responsibilities.

I’m carving little niches to work on building my design portfolio, plan new design projects, write blog posts (!!!), and try and make fun things! A couple weeks ago I put out my cup sleeve pattern for the Child (you know, the baby Yoda zeitgeist). Its super fun to make, and I had so much leftover material from the creation process, that I’ve been knitting up a couple for friends, and a limited run for sale in my Etsy shop (not yet available).

the Child WIPs

I’m doing them production line style; right now: all the bodies. Next up: allllll the ears, then all the finishing with faces, eyes and ends woven in. Its a nice break from serious minded things. And the body of the sleeve doesn’t require much brain power, just a bit of row counting. At the end of the day, these have been the perfect project to work on while I watch something not safe for children (I’m considering rewatching the Witcher). I love the pattern more every time I make one.

Want to make your own Baby Yoda/the Child cup sleeve? Get the pattern on Ravelry! Click Here!! I can’t wait to see your adorable creations in action.

My new WIP

Getting some work done while the kids run off some energy.

Last week, I mentioned that it feels like my unfinished projects were weighty. The looming uncertainty holding back my creativity to start something new.

Since that post, I’ve finished piecing 2 former unfinished projects together, creating a FRANKENTOP! I need to weave in the ends, but for all intents and purposes, the project is complete. How I feel about the finished project is more complicated.

Besides clearing away the vestiges of creative endeavors, creating from my stash is another sell imposed challenge. Its not as if my stash is huge, not including partial balls, my guess is that I have less than 200 balls of yarn at my disposal. Regardless of actual stash size, it is at a tipping point to overwhelm the space I have allotted. Its easy to be inspired by new material; every skein in my stash once inspired me. The challenge lies in rediscovering the spark and creating something new and beautiful without spending additional money.

Back to my new project. When I design, I don’t usually have a complete idea of what I want my final project to look like. This project, started similarly. I love mitered squares. I love that they are semi-modular, that I can complete a section within a project and feel accomplished. In mid-2019 I taught a mitered square class. There wasn’t really a project to complete. I was thinking about modifying the current progress from my classes into something closely aligned to my vision. But that would require extensive ripping out of perfectly good work, and I will just make something different (likely a blanket). Fortunately, a quick peek into my sock weight bin was all I needed to be inspired!

One day, the right project will come along and make this yarn sing. Purchased pre-2011.

While working this prototype, I’m not sure how much yarn I require. I chose only full balls, regardless of the amount of partial balls I have floating around in this weight. Once I know how much yarn is required, I may play around with new combinations.
I swatched a couple color combinations on different size needles. My first combination of yarn and needles was abysmal. The size 2s had little drape. And the yarn wasn’t right. I don’t know what it is about this yarn. It was so pretty on the hank! But the repeats are so short that everything just makes it look “busy”. My second combination on size 4s blends really great. The yarns are Rabbit Ridge Designs in Limited Edition for FNYC (Far North Yarn Company in Anchorage, AK) and Knit Picks Stroll Bare that I dyed myself 10 years ago (give or take). The working name for the project is the “Spring Sprang Sprung Cowl”.

left: dyed by me on Knit Picks Stroll Base. right: Rabbit Ridge Designs in LTD edition colorway for FNYC

I’ve been working on quite a few bulky weight projects (mainly teaching samples), so the size 4s feel slow and my hands aren’t really used to the smaller needle size. I usually stick to 6-10 for most personal projects; these seem to be most comfortable for me. I’m switching back and forth between english and continental style to see if speed or strain improves. So far, no. I am already feeling inspired to whip up a graphic edition of this design in a chunky weight.

Stay tuned for both projects!

The Lost Knits File Series Part One

Finish or Frog Projects from the WIP pile.
A Lost Project recently found and finished. Start 2013. Finished Jan 2020

Not every project is a winner. There. I’ve said it. I have a number of projects that I’ve started and abandoned in the hopes of SOME DAY. Some of these cast aside projects are over 10 years old. They take up physical space. Some of them emotional space and the nagging that I can’t launch into ALL THE NEW THINGS until I’ve cleared out the old.

I’ve been planning blog posts for the future. Some of the topics are obvious: teaching, patterns, what I’m working on, reviews of new techniques and tools and yarns. Other topics are less obvious: boredom, burn-out, FAILURE. My abandoned projects and designs fall into this second collection of topics.
I decided to take on the topic of my Failures in a blog series. The Lost Knits File. This will include knit, crochet, AND finished items.

Cropped Cardigan that needed the bind-off finished and the button bands.
Circa 2012-ish

This past week I pulled out some of my WIPs, snapped pictures and added some of the projects to Ravelry (to track my progress). Some of these cast-offs will be finished, others repurposed (a tank for a much thinner me reimagined into a summer dress for my daughter), and a few sweaters will be frogged (ripped out).

The first item I’m tackling is some cropped cardigan I started back in 2012 (or maybe earlier). I have no idea why I put this project down. Maybe the realization that I don’t wear white?
Details: It was a pattern written by someone else, but the designer and pattern name remain a mystery. The yarn feels like a cotton or cotton blend. I have no idea where the ball bands are from the yarn. Based on the amount of tails to weave in, the yarn was 50g balls.
Ideas: After trying on the mostly finished item, I decided to make the sweater into a pullover with an elongated “button band” that I’ve picked up on one side and will 3-needle bind-off on the other side. Since the sweater will be reimagined, it is uncertain if the project will be COMPLETE or if it will be mashed with another project.

Body of a tank. Made from yarns purchase on a trip to Myrtle Beach back in 2012(?).

The project I want to mash-up with the cropped sweater: A tank body from yarns purchased on a vacation to Myrtle Beach forever ago. I abandoned the project because I couldn’t decide what I wanted the top to look like. Wrap front, square neckline, I simply could not decide; after many years, I still haven’t made a decision.
Details: The yarns are non-wool blends: linen, cotton, “milk”. The gauge is similar, the colors complementary.
Ideas:I’m thinking of attaching the casing end to the base of the bodice piece. If the body isn’t long enough, I have enough yarn to lengthen it.

Time line to finish: 3-10 days depending on motivation.

Organizing Creativity

Some things I try with varying degrees of success.

Wistfully thinking about the day I have it together.

I try REALLY hard to organize my thoughts. The operative word is try. I haven’t been able to find a usable catchall solution for all the creative ideas I have. Brain dump notebooks from my 20s came close: part diary, part fictional chaos, my homework assignments, and the odd grocery list thrown in. But no discernible rhyme or reason, no table of contents, no index. Usually illegible. Now that I’m older, I use some other techniques to manage my creative ideas. With varying degrees of success

By nature, I’m a list maker. I love MAKING lists. Then I lose them before I can actually cross off all the items. Oops. I have lists tucked everywhere. On my bulletin board, on slips of paper in purses and wallets, in my phone, in apps, in my physical planner, in my project planing notebook. I’ve started (and abandoned) more project notebooks than I can remember in the last 18 years. My latest attempt is 18 months old and 3/4 full. Its my best attempt so far. Its morphed from a catch-all list of current and future projects to a somewhat more categorized list of crafting that needs my attention. At least I haven’t accidentally thrown it out, yet. (My project planning notebook has been effective for managing my pipeline, I haven’t missed a deadline in 18 months)

I’ve also started using Ravelry for my active/new projects again. Here is where I plug Ravelry (I receive no compensation, I just really love the site/service). I love being able to see at a glance what I’m working on. What needles/hooks I used, the yarn and the colorway (because I threw out the ball band), the number of pattern repeats! If I used a pattern written by some one else, the PATTERN! Now that I discovered I can use Google Photos to add pictures of my work, I’m more inclined than ever to use Ravelry to manage my WIPS/FOs! (This method has been most effective, when I put in the time to manage it.)

“The shawl under my desk” AKA Afetos. Started May 2017

For whatever reason, I stopped logging projects between 2013 and 2018. I think I can blame the kids? What I missed out on was 5 years of organized project notes! There are some projects created during this time that I think would make fantastic patterns to share. Instead of using my project notes to draft the patterns, I will need to use the project itself to recreate the pattern which I will then REWORK to make certain that I got it right. Not the end of the world, I have no shortage of ideas for new patterns. The only impact is to my turn-around time, my lost notes make every release like a new idea. Additionally, there are patterns I’ve started by other designers that are unfinished and I have NO idea where I am or even what pattern they are.

My major organization weakness is design notes. Most are on random pieces of paper, with cryptic instructions. I find them everywhere! Some make sense at least. But I don’t have a system for organizing them. Perhaps I need a scrapbook of all the random design/pattern notes I find.

Random Index card with a pattern on it. Its a blanket.

Yarn? That is just barely managed chaos. Organizing my yarn is a 2020 project, so stay tuned!

What systems keep you organized? Do you use Ravelry to manage your current and finished objects? A notebook? Spreadsheets? What about the projects in your personal pipeline? I would love to hear about your project/idea organization systems!

The Evan Scarf: A Year-Long Journey

OK. Really 11 months. But a year sounds more dramatic.

The Finished Evan Scarf

We are active members at our local YMCA, it’s how we know Evan. He runs youth programming for middle and high school students, summer camps, running the community Vegetable Market in partnership with Hungry Harvest, managing the volunteers for said market, and A BUNCH OF OTHER STUFF. He is also my 4 year old son’s favorite person at the Y. Last winter, my son told Evan that I was going to make him a scarf. Instead of laughing it off I said, “What color would you like, Evan”?

That week I found a nice dark green, and it was on sale. I THOUGHT two balls would be adequate (more on this later). I had recently worked a Fishermans’ Rib pattern, and thought it would make a nice scarf. I just couldn’t bring myself to START that scarf. The potential tedium was a bit off putting. So the yarn (and needles) sat together in a ziplock bag with my pending projects and class samples until DECEMBER. Then inspiration struck.

I was looking though one of my my cable pattern/panel books when I found it.

Such an incredible resource!!

There it was. The the Large Woven Cable. The cable looks complicated. But out of 12 rows of pattern repeat there are TWO rows with easy-to-work cabling. It is one of the easiest cables I’ve worked! I had my cable, but what to do with the rest of it? I wanted the project to be easy to work, but thick and squishy, so I decided to flank my cable with 10 stitches of garter stitch on either side. No curling, so much squish! And I wanted a neat, polished edge, so slip stitch edge it was! I had seen some scarves with a short section of ribbing (1″ or so) at the bottom recently. I like how neat ribbing makes a finished edge look; but what would it look like if I made the ribbing deep?

I wasn’t really sold on the look after the first set of cables.

After the first 6 rows of the pattern stitch, I wasn’t sold. After multiple pattern repeats, my spouse asked if it was a sleeve when I showed him my progress. I was beginning to second guess my decision to deep rib the bottom. But still, I carried on. What’s the worst that could happen? It would look silly, and I would rip it out and try something different with the ends. But from the onset, I REALLY liked the cable and garter stitch combination I was working. At the 10 repeat mark, I was beginning to wonder if I had enough yarn. Which I THINK may be discontinued. Even if it was still available, there was NO WAY I was going to be able to match the dye lot. I carried on.

Partially finished, it looked a bit like a sleeve.

After finishing, I measured the final length. 68″. My vision had the scarf being 74″inches in length, the approximate height of Evan. I had started the ribbing after 31 pattern repeats. I didn’t want to run out of yarn. Of course I could have weighed my yarn to have a better idea regarding how much yarn I had left. In the end, there might have been enough yarn to finish the final repeat (instead of ending on row 4). I was suspect that the scarf was going to be long enough, but SUCCESS! It is a fine length for my (very tall) friend! Who seems to genuinely like his new scarf.

Evan modeling his new scarf. I’ve seen him wear a lot of hats, now he has a scarf to go with them!

You can make your own “Evan Scarf”! You will need at least 400 yards of a worsted weight yarn, size 6 and 8 needles, a cable needle, and the FREE pattern from Ravelry.

download now

Happy Knitting!

60-Minute Cowl

I am so in LOVE with my newest completed project!

Greetings! It is currently January 3rd. Perhaps you have entered the doldrums of winter, where the only thing you look forward to is spring. Despair not my friends, I have brought you a quick and easy crochet cowl to brighten your day! Depending on your speed, you can literally complete this in about an hour. When I actually timed the construction in Fall 2018, it was 56:40. I did not stop the clock to retrieve snacks and water for the kids or when I had to fetch my finishing materials (yarn needle, scissors).

I have made 5 of these cowls between Early Fall 2018 and Early January 2020 (when I was brave and finally launched the pattern). I’ve used different yarns for each, just to see which one I like the best (spoiler: its Malabrigo).

Left: Small cowl crocheted in Malabrigo Rasta. Right: Large cowl crocheted in Patons Cobbles.

Right now, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Sometimes I REALLY love minimum effort maximum result projects. And this is TOTALLY one of those projects! When I’m working on a huge or very complicated project, being able to finish a project fast helps me feel accomplished. If you’ve never used a massive hook before be aware that you may need to adjust your grip in order to work the stitches. This was particularly true with the S/19mm hook.

I’ve used many different yarns to work this project. The two pictured in the pattern, Malabrigo Rasta and Patons Cobbles, as well as Lion Brand Thick and Quick, Big Twist Natural Blend, and Buttercream Luxe Craft in Thick and Thin.

Left: Large cowl in Buttercream Luxe Craft Thick and Thin. Right: Small cowl in Big Twist (bottom stripe) and Lion Brand Thick and Quick (top two stripes)

My favorite yarn was the Malabrigo Rasta. Because when I wear it, it feels like a warm cloud and the dimensional color is dreamy. The color of the Buttercream Luxe Craft Thick and Thin makes me happy as well. Whichever yarn you decide on, make is something you will love nuzzling into.

Get The Pattern HERE

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