Looking for some inspiration

I have been in a bit of a creativity slump the past little while, between the stress of work, the stress of my contract ending in May and it being winter I haven’t been feeling the urge to create.  I finally started spinning again over the weekend, after cleaning and polishing my wheel (she is unfinished so I have to moisturise her on semi-annual basis).  I am not loving the yarn I spun.  It is too hard and picky, it is wensleydale combed top so it not surprising, but because my main style of spinning is inchworm, I have yarn that if woven could probably stop a bullet, never mind abrasion resistant, this stuff would abrade me if worn.  I like rustic wools, wool that still feels a bit like the sheep it came off, but because I spun this stuff worsted instead of woolen it doesn’t have any loft, whoops.

This all said I am in a bit of a spinning rut, so when I finally remembered to order Spin Art from Amazon it was a no brainer.  I have Get Spun, another art yarn book from Interweave, but this one looked different and it has a DVD.  While, I was there I picked up the Knitters Life List which I had seen a book store before Christmas.  It seems to filled with inspiration and mountains to climb, with suggestions about techniques and yarns that every knitter should try.

In addition to my spinning slump I am totally stuck on my knitting projects, and I have been trying to use up some of  the yarn that has been weighing on my mind and I the balls of yarn are the left overs from my crocheted blankets that I am thinking I am going to turn into Chubby Chirps, an adorable, free pattern from Rebecca Danger (who has the amazing monster patterns).  However after a week I have yet to cast on, so I need to get kicked into gear as it will fill my need for a quick finishing pattern and also use up some stuffing I have lying around.

I am also looking for inspiration in my non-fiber life.  My contract is up the first week in May and I don’t have anything lined up for afterwards, I am applying for jobs but nothing yet.  I am going to re-read the Sand Country Almanac because it inspires me so much and informs so much of my feelings on environment.  Maybe that will inspire me to finish Understanding Ordinary Landscapes, a book I skim read (a common crime of mine) in school that deserves a closer read.

Hopefully the new books will help kick me into fiber inspiration that will in turn fuel my personal inspiration, because winter isn’t over yet and having the blues during the winter just sucks.

Stash In, Stash Out

My 2012 yarn/fiber stash, I love each and every yarn I have there.

Stash, that glorious wonderful thing, that home to a thousand dreams and the temptress to lead so many knitters astray.

I love yarn, it is warm and squishy, it is the embodiment of possibility, will it be a scarf or socks or a sweater or a baby toy? However, because of all this possiblity I think of yarn as a kitten I have adopted, I need to keep it safe or make something out of and if, unexpectedly, I fall out of love with it, it is a spurned lover haunting my thoughts and my queue.

Part of the fun of knitting is that you get to buy stuff, and you get to enjoy new yarns and tools, however if your stash is weighing on your conscience, every yarn purchase induces more guilt.  For those with a SABLE (Stash Beyond All Life Expectancy) there is a kind of shame that seems to go around with growing the stash even further, despite the fact that you have means to purchase all that yarn without any sacrifices.

This brings it all back to me, I don’t have a SABLE, I have a nice stash, but it has been giving me angst, mostly because I feel like yarn should be FIFOed.  For those of you fortunate not enough not have a parent who uses technical terms at home or haven’t worked in food service, FIFO stands for First In, First Out.  So when you get something new it doesn’t get stocked right away, you sell the oldest stuff first and then stock the new stuff.  So as I have applied this mindset to yarn, when I find something new, gorgeous and scrumptious and I order it, I end up putting it in my stash until I have knitted up some of the stash that has been marinating for longer.

But this has put me in a position where I feel stuck with yarns that I don’t love any more, that weren’t of a quality of fiber I appreciate today. But that since I brought it home I HAVE to knit it.  Heck, I have crocheted two baby blankets from yarn I didn’t love, but felt obligated to use up.

So, while it wasn’t one of my 2012 goals, I think I am going to try to be not as hard on myself about my stash.  I am going to let go of the yarns that make me feel guilt, be that through donation or destash. I started doing this last week at our Georgian Bay Fiber Guild swap, I managed to get quite a few yarns that were weighing heavily on me off to new, happy homes.

Also, I am going to work with some of the new fibers in my stash, letting myself get taken in by a beautiful skein and project without feeling like I am betraying all the yarn that has come before that perfect new skein.

Now time to get more of it moved out and to work with some of the new yarns I have coming in, including Tanis Fiber Arts 2012 Club and the Indigodragonfly Smart Ass Knitters/World Domination One Skein Club which will start up in June.  Also, that box of SweetGeorgia yarn that showed up at my door last week.

WIP Wednesday: February 22nd

So the baby sweater just needs longer sleeves and the front ribbing/collar and the Red Label cowl is growing. I managed to get the legwarmies off the needles and all they need is some elastic in the cuffs (which I have, but haven't done yet) and a trip through the washer.

FO: Knitting is Recess for Adults

Me + Felici Socks = Love

I guess I am getting the hang of this sock thing, because I have managed to finish my second pair of the year by Feb 12th.  I don’t have much to say on these socks, they are stripe-y and fun and awesome to wear to bed.  I have one more set of Felici sport from 2011 and they will get turned into vanilla socks and I will be checking out the 2012 Felici colors to see what I will be picking up in the spring.

I couldn't resist wearing these the instant they came off the needles so you can see signs of wearing, which only makes me love them more. Also I ran the stripes in opposite directions so that I wouldn't have to worry when the stripes didn't line up perfectly, like in my first pair.

For those who aren’t familiar with Felici, they are the super soft sock yarns that KnitPicks gets in limited edition colorways.  Each spring they release 8ish fingering weight and about 6ish sport weight colorways and when they are gone they are gone.  The yarn is coveted not only for its softness, but also because the colorways are so hard to come by.  This past fall KP released some of the most popular Felici fingering colorways, and I must confess I picked up a few of them, including the Time Traveller colorway, designed to resemble the famous (infamous?) Doctor Who scarf  and the Rainbow colorway, which will most likely get turned into baby knits and some Swedish Fish socks.

I do like how Instagram filters can help the colors pop, which isn't exactly how they look but rather how they look to me because I love them so much.

The next socks on the queue are Staked by Glenna C, made out of TFA Blue Label in Cranberry the November 2011 Year in Color colorway.  I may have to alternate fancy and vanilla socks, because I am loving the speed at which I am finishing socks.

– Details –

Project Name: Knitting is Recess for Adults

Pattern: Kid Stuff by Melissa Morgan-Oakes in Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks

Recipient: Me

Yarn: KnitPicks Felici Sport in Recess (2011)

Modifications: Knit at way tighter than gauge to get some firm socks that don’t sack after the first wearing.

New Skills:  Nothing really, these are getting to be my vanilla, no thought required, socks

Feedback:

  • Yarn: Felici is great! It is soft and wears well and doesn’t do anything funny in the dryer.  I just wish the Sport weight would come in as many colorways as the fingering.
  • Pattern: Clean, tidy and it works, what more can a person ask for, other than a digital copy so that I could keep it on my iPad rather than having to haul out the book when I need to remember how to turn the heel.

Re-Knit?:  Yeppers, I have one more set of Felici sport in my stash and they are probably going to slip into the queue after the cable heavy Staked socks.

What to knit for a baby boom?

Two of the three yarns were in my stash and I spent most of yesterday swatching and trying to cast on.

Here in the town of Parry Sound, pop. 6,191 (according to the 2011 Census figures released last week) we are having a mini-baby boom, well at least amongst the people I know.  Between last October and this October I know 8 couples (most who are friends of my sister) who have had, or are expecting a baby. And they are all boys, well not exactly, one couple adopted a beautiful little girl and for one person the gender isn’t known, yet.

Most of these folks aren’t close enough to rate knitting, but one, who is expecting a boy in May, totally is.  She is a very close friend of my sister and Carla is hosting her baby shower.  So when faced with the imminent arrival of an adorable baby boy what is a person to knit?

Right now I am considering some Legwarmies by Alana Dakos made from some KnitPicks Felici Sport, a super soft, superwash self-striping yarn, actually the same stuff I am making my just finished pair of vanilla socks out of.  I am also thinking I will take a hint from the Yarn Harlot who made a Puerperium Cardigan by Kelly Brooker for one of the littles in her life.  I know it is silly to make such a tiny sweater, but it so freaking cute and I found a great color of SweetGeorgia Superwash DK to make it in.  Also the Baby Vertabrae by Kelly Brooker is also totally adorable, and made out of sock weight, KnitPicks Stroll Tonal in Kindling a really nice brown, in a larger size can serve all through the cool summer evenings and crisp fall mornings.

I have some very small, and adorable knits up next, but I haven’t forgotten about my Sock of the Month plan, I am knitting away on my stripe-y vanilla socks and then I will jump straight to the legwarmies and then into my next pair of socks, Staked by Glenna C out of a nice red yarn, the TFA 2011 Year in Colour club shipment from November.  Of course when I ordered the SweetGeorgia for the Forest Baby (as we call the baby I’m knitting for) I had to throw in some sock yarns to try out, so I have some BFL Sock, Silk Crush Sock and Tough Love Sock headed this way.  But I won’t be swayed, Buffy socks like Staked need to make from a nice red yarn.

FO: Aquarium Pomatomus Socks

1 Sock, 2 Socks, Red Sock, Blue Sock

When I opened by TFA Year in Colour club parcel at the end of July I was a bit surprised, the yarn was a bit more clown-barfy (I say this with love) than I generally like.  And I wasn’t totally sold on socks yet, I had made my first pair, but the yarn didn’t knock my socks off so I didn’t look very closely at the pattern.

This is a pretty accurate shot for the color of the yarn

So I decided to let the yarn marinate in my stash and in December the TFA KAL, a desire to knit from stash and wanting to do a 12 pairs of sock in 2012, meant that I pulled the TFA Blue Label in Aquarium and paired it with the club pattern, Aquarium, and made a plan.  As I was swatching before the January 1st deadline I realized that there was no stated gauge for the finished sock on the pattern, and as someone who’s gauge is significantly tighter that the average knitter (seriously, I knit fingering colorwork on US7s) I need to know the gauge the designer expects the item at so I can swatch and figure out my own needle size.

The stitch definition of this yarn is just amazing, almost no halo at all.

So I was messing around with my other TFA KAL knits and my sister noticed the Pomatomus pattern in my queue and convinced me that it was a way better use of the Aquarium yarn than the fishie sock pattern it had originally been paired with.  Also, interestingly Pomatomus was named for the genus of blue fish so it seemed fitting.

I had to include this one again, it was just a great shot of both the socks and the cat.

So, I’m grown up enough to admit, Carla was totally right, the Pomatomus sock was perfectly suited to the Aquarium yarn, and may be my most favorite pair of patterned socks, yet, but then again I have some seriously big plans for socks this year.

– Details –

Project Name: Aquarium Pomatomus

Pattern: Pomatomus by Cookie A for Knitty, Winter 2005

Recipient: Me!

Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label (Merino Nylon Fingering) in Aquarium, from July 2011 Year in Colour Club

Modifications:

  • Knit on Magic Loop rather than DPNs
  • Shortened the leg by one repeat.  I don’t like super tall socks (my calves are just too large) but doing only two repeats of the leg chart made for the perfect length leg.

New Skills:

  • Cuff Down Socks – To this point all my socks have been toe up, however Cookie is a big fan of cuff down and her pattern are worth not using up every last yarn of yarn doing things cuff down.
  • Twinned Sock Knitting – I tried doing these two-at-a-time, however it was too much trouble with all the stitches that get get passed around as the pattern spirals. So Carla lent me her short 2.75mm needle and I knit the socks at the same time on two separate needles, doing the cuff on one, then the other. I found this a great way to avoid Second Sock Syndrome and also be able to move stitches as needed.

Feedback:

  • Yarn: The TFA Blue Label was a great yarn to work with, while there was one really nasty join from the mill it is in the remnants so it wasn’t an issue for the socks.  I was impressed with the multi nature of the yarn, it didn’t pool or stripe, it just has a great overall effect, although I imagine the pattern does help prevent the yarn from acting up.  Also the stitch definition was just perfect for this project.
  • Pattern:  Cookie mentions in the pattern that … ” If you are up for a challenge, then the Pomatomus is for you. Blue fish are somewhat vicious with sharp teeth, powerful jaws, and a cannibalistic tendency. Stay alert, and you should wade through these socks just fine.”  I found that they were wonderfully zesty, although making them work on magic loop, rather than DPNs made them a challenge a times, it was well worth the effort.  The pattern was good, and the only drawback was the format, I find I have to reformat all the patterns I get from Knitty, because they don’t print properly or save as PDFs in a usable form.  Other than that general complaint (about a fantastic, free publication) the pattern is great, I really want to try more of Cookie’s patterns, she is a whiz with the socks.

Re-Knit?: Probably not, there are way, way, way too many awesome sock patterns out there to do backwards (aside from having a basic vanilla pattern you like) but I am desperate to make more Cookie A socks, she is an artist who creates for tiny, wearable canvasses.