Day 7 – Crafting Balance

Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both? If you are monogamous in your yarn-based crafting, is it because you do not enjoy the other craft or have you simply never given yourself the push to learn it? Is it because the items that you best enjoy crafting are more suited to the needles or the hook? Do you plan on ever trying to take up and fully learn the other craft? If you are equally comfortable knitting as you are crocheting, how do you balance both crafts? Do you always have projects of each on the go, or do you go through periods of favouring one over the other? How did you come to learn and love your craft(s)?

If we are talking about just knitting and crochet I am pretty well committed to knitting.  I enjoyed my crochet projects from last year and I am eager to try more in the future, but the motion of crochet isn’t quite as comfortable as knitting for me and I don’t find myself as inspired by the current selection of crochet patterns as I am by the knitting patterns.

I would like to become more talented at crochet but when times get tough I flee back to knitting, I like the rhythm of knitting, it is like coming home.

Although my neutral position on crochet may be swayed if I started to use higher quality materials in my crochet projects. Cotton/Acrylic from KnitPicks is not exactly MCN or MCS (Merino Cashmere Silk ie. Madelinetosh Pashmina).

Now, if I look beyond just crochet and knitting, I am much more of a balanced crafter.  When you balance knitting and crochet against spinning and weaving, I am still a knitter first and foremost, I’m a brand new but dedicated weaver and an intermittent spinner.  Because I can take my knitting anywhere it is my go-to activity, but spinning calms me in a way that nothing else does and weaving is still quite challenging although it has a nice balance of rhythm and interest that I think could become a popular part of my fiber repertoire.

Maybe it is because my mother always said that there is enough love in one mother for many children, I love each craft fully and differently but each with my whole heart, although as my aunt has been known to say sometimes, I love them but they make it very hard for me to like them.

Day 6 – Improving Your Skillset

How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how’s your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you’d like to have tried them by.

I think this is the most complex project I have done yet, but by not letting it overwhelm me, it is one my most favorite projects to make.

For me, my learning is never done, there is always a new skill or technique to try to master. I often times seek out patterns that force me try something new.  When I don’t learn something new in

That said there are a few techniques I have shied away from, like double pointed needles.  I tried them back in the old days before I discovered that there are meh needles, there are good needles and their are great needles.  It may be time to try again with good needles.

Also I have tried double knitting and the colors were too close so I frogged the projects (I tried, twice, to get the colors right) and I haven’t found a project again I want to do in double knit, although I may need to spend some time checking out, Extreme Double Knitting for inspiration.  Same with intarsia, I have tried it, the project wasn’t working, I frogged and haven’t found a pattern in intarsia I have really wanted to do.

I am not averse to trying most knitting techniques but I need a reason to do so, I am not one to make a sampler to try techniques but rather I would like to have a pattern that incorporates that technique.

I did set myself some goals for the year, but I really need to read my copy of the Knitter’s Life List, which I picked up a month ago.  I think that will set me out some really neat and concrete goals to meet, because I don’t really want my knitting to get stagnant, because that would take the joy out of it for me.

Day 5 – Something a Little Bit Different

It’s back, and this time it has the most amazing of prizes (look for the prize for ‘most creative post’). This was a massive success last year, and for many it was the highlight of the Blog Week, so this year you are challenged, again, to find a new way of blogging.
This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create.There are no rules of a topic to blog about but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog.

For something different I have created a GIF of me knitting.  In an endless loop that never gets me anywhere.

I have been a big fan of GIFs since learning their potential on the decidedly non-fiber website, Jezebel, where the commentors will often use a clip from a TV or of a famous person to denote excitement or displeasure with the content or just have GIF Parties.  Because they are short windows of time (about 4-10 frames long) they loop intefinately so that leaves much potential for accidental GIFs (ie clips from TV shows and cable news) and designed GIFs like the James Van Der Memes site (which if you are a fan of the internet and were a fan or watcher of Dawson’s Creek during adolescence you will love).

Day 4 – A Knitter and Crocheter For All Seasons?

As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

All my projects from January 2011 to today (Top Left to bottom right). I don't see any seasonal trends, although my penchant for cowls is pretty constant year round.

I am terrible about recongizing the change of seasons and my crafting seems to follow the whims of the weather, and my mood, rather than any sort of order.

I never seem to “prepare” for the season, once winter starts I realize I need/want hats and mitts, but sometimes it is a freak snow storm in April that sends me fleeing back to winterwear despite the fact that summer will be in full force in a couple of weeks. But then again I don’t make sweaters, and living in Ontario I never put my hats, mitts, cowls and scarves too far away because cold spells are not unheard of here in the summer.

One trend I have noticed is a general downswing in knitting in the summer, this may have to do with the fact that for many years I felt quite absurd knitting mittens in July and lace wasn’t the thing for me to be knitting at work. However, this year may be different, in my discovery of sock knitting.  Magical, wonderful, adored, socks that can be knit and worn year round and are fun and engaging knits.

So I am terrible for matching up my knitting to seasons, however this may be as much about being a process (vs. product) knitter, I am more interested in actually making the item, rather than wearing the item I am less tied to seasons and more to ooh, shiny, fun pattern and yarn.

Maybe I will be proactive this year and get some winter knitting done in advance, but that is very unlikely, I will just keep knitting the ooh shiny patterns, weather be damned.

Day 3 – My Knit and Crochet Hero

Blog about someone in the fibre crafts who truly inspires you. There are not too many guidelines for this, it’s really about introducing your readers to someone who they might not know who is an inspiration to you. It might be a family member or friend, a specific designer or writer, indie dyer or another blogger. If you are writing about a knitting designer and you have knitted some of their designs, don’t forget to show them off. Remember to get permission from the owner if you wish to use another person’s pictures.

Blogs and Twitter and Ravelry, oh my! Just a few examples of my heros.

I have a whole bunch of respect for so many crafters out there, but there is no one single hero. One of the thing I enjoy about the fiber community is while there folks who are often considered knitterati, it is quite the egalitarian group.  Any knitter can publish a pattern that could become a runaway success, someone who runs an Etsy shop out of their basement can create for themselves a livelyhood by hitting on a target market.

I think my Heros are all the knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, designer and dyers who are helping to shape the community.  Without them, and places like Etsy, Ravelry, Twitter and blogs I would just be a person who knits with acrylics and Patons yarns using pattern booklets available at my local fabric store.  I wouldn’t know the difference between MCNs and BFLs and when to use alpaca yarns.

I wouldn’t have ever started spinning, (thanks to the Phat Fiber crew), or weaving (thanks to the Yarn Harlot) or desireing a drumcarder (thanks to Interweave’s videos).  I wouldn’t use handdyed yarn, or have interchangeable knitting needles (or do magic loop for that matter), I wouldn’t know how to use handcards or why it is fine to have both a turkish and top-whorl spindle.

Thanks to the community we have created for ourselves, not only can I make a sock pattern designed by a PhD in Hamilton, when I run into a problem I can send her a tweet about that pattern and have an answer within minutes.

Or perhaps my hero is the internet, because it is the glue that holds my fiber world together and provides me with friends, patterns, yarn and a community of likeminded people.

So thank you to all of you who are reading and writing in KCBW, you are my heros by providing the content that make our fibery world go round.

Day 2 – Photography Challenge Day

Today challenges you to be creative with your photography, and get yourself in with the chance to win the photography prize.

For @indigodragonfly the "cowl" that is too short and currently being held in a loop by knots.

While this picture is not particularly special, or well staged, for me it tells a story, a story of connection in the fiber world.

I took this picture with my phone on Saturday night to let someone, whom I have never met in person, see the cloth I had just taken off my loom.  She is a friend, and purveyor of fine yarns, and despite being hours away I was able to instantly respond to her with a photo within minutes.

It’s not the best picture but it captured a moment that was important to me and one that had it not been for my iPhone I wouldn’t have been able to make a connection with another person across the province and the world.

Photographs have power beyond their perceived quality, they can capture a moment, and now that everyone has cameras in their pockets with instant connection to flickr, facebook and twitter there are more of these little moments that everyone can capture in the future.  I am not a picture snob, the more the better!

Day 1 – Colo(u)r Lovers

Note: I am participating in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, so for the next seven days you will be working from prompts (which are given at the top of each post). To learn more, visit Eskimimi who has planned the event.

Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects – do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.

My Rainbow of Yarn

Color is one of the things I suffer a bit of mild anxiety.  Not about enjoying colors, but about picking and pairing colors, I have no idea at time what goes with what and what goes with my skintone.  I just wear colors I like and have family who will sometimes lean over and mention that the top doesn’t really, go, and not to wear it in future.

However, I took this post as a challenge to haul out my stash and put it in a color wheel and see what colors I have in my stash, and these are the results.

I do love my greens

I’m not overly surprised to find out that green is the most prominent wedge of the wheel in my stash.  Green has always been my favorite color, from the mint green color of carpet I picked out at age 3, through to my favorite bags, and even my car, oh and my nickname for the blog.

Stretching from yellow-y grass green through to turquoise/tourmaline blue-greens, it is a great section from the colorwheel, that I LOVE.

I do love my reds and purples.

However, purple seems to be coming in a close second, with coppery/tan/pinky groups coming a distant third.

What is most shocking is the absolute lack of blues in my stash.  I currently have a couple of skeins, most notably and beautifully, Frost from the TFA club last year.  And considering that blue is Tanis’s favorite color to but dye and use, I haven’t picked up any of her gorgeous skeins.

My finished projects seems to be the same with purples and greens making regular appearances amongst a range of other colors.

Orange and yellow and copper, oh my!

As far as tone, I seem to like clear tones, although heathers and “muddier” tones also make regular appearances.

As far as picking colors, I will be inspired by the original item, but more often than not I don’t pick yarn for a specific project, I buy yarn for stash and pick from that stash for projects, so I am pairing a yarn that is fixed in color with a project. So while the original of the item may inspire me to a certain family of colors, rarely do I have the option of matching it exactly.

And one last look at the rainbow.

For me color is exciting and I am desperate to learn more about it, I would like to start dyeing yarn and maybe one day I will own a carder, which excites me very much.

So I am still very much confused about color, however that doesn’t keep me from wanting to enjoy color.

CanCon: Yarn Edition

Hey SweetGeorgia, your yarns are always so wonderfully saturated.

For anyone who has lived in Canada, you are familiar with the concept of CanCon.  For those of you who haven’t spent much time in the True North, might not know that all our radio and television stations must play a designated amout of work by a Canadian each day (the percentages are dependent on location and type of stuff the broadcast).

Based on very cursory internet research (and by that I mean Wikipedia) it seems this number can range from 25% up to 40% of content on radio and 60% on television (although news shows count so most primetime is American shows).  On the radio the CanCon is hardly noticeable we have so much great Canadian music, and we send all the annoying ones to the US (you can thank us later for Celine Dion, Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, and Justin Bieber), on TV it can be a bit more painful although recently CBC really has been bringing up the average with Little Mosque on the Prairie, Being Erica and Republic of Doyle (which just got a 4th season pickup, which is awesome).

What does this have to do with yarn?

Hello Sweetie! Gotta love the indigodragonfly yarn colors and her great names.

We have so many amazing Canadian yarn dyers, both indie and artisnal, that going forward (and this has been in place for most of 2012 already) I want my stash to be CanCon-ed.  I want to make sure that I am supporting the amazingly diverse range of dyers and fiber producers here in Canada. Between Handmaiden/Fleece Artist in Nova Scotia to Sweet Georgia in Vancouver and in between Tanis in Montreal, Kim in Haliburton, Emily in Toronto, Lisa in Barrie, Hasmi in Banff, Kirsten and Melissa in Vancouver  and so many more I haven’t discovered yet.

One of the 2012 Year in Colour yarns from Tanis Fiber Arts

However, I couldn’t go 100% Canadian, there are too many cool indie dyers in the States that I would miss like bohoknitterchic, Gale’s Art, Winemakerssister and Wandering Wool (who I haven’t actually ordered from yet, but her stuff is so tempting) and the rest of the Phat Fiber crew who are working in their corners of the earth on amazing yarns and fibers.

Some of the colors at Northbound Knitting are just so deliciously complex.

And sometime KnitPicks has exactly the yarn you need for a project, and Felici, I do love my Felici.

So I am going to try to buy mostly Canadian yarn, I will tag projects that are either made with Canadian dyed yarn (or a pattern by a Canadian designer) with the tag CanCon. Let’s see if I can do better than the local stations and bring my CanCon up above 60%.

Nothing like a fresh off the bobbin single of a beautiful BFL from Viola in Toronto.

Either way I will have help with this,  I am currently signed up for three different yarn clubs, the Tanis Fiber Arts Year in Colour Club (which is still accepting signups and you will get all the previous months in your next shipment), indigodragonfly’s Smart Ass Knitters/World Domination 1 Skein Club (there may be 6-mo slots in the fall, if not the next round of signups are in Feb 2013) and the latest one is Sweet Fiber’s Super Sweet Summer of Sock, Vancouver Edition (which there are still spots in for the the 3 month club, which ships May, June, July).

And it isn't just yarn, we have amazing fiber dyers too, like Two Sisters Stringworks who made the braid just the right colors for Lake Huron/Georgian Bay.

Also, I am headed to the Downtown (Toronto) Knit Collective big show, Knitter’s Frolic next Saturday (the 28th) so I will get to check out and sample all sorts of new yarns, bases and dyers at the show, and meet some of my other dealers (ie. Kim and Tanis face to face).

Just like the latest CBC shows, CanCon yarn is a great thing and I am excited to keep it a major part of my fiber diet.