Working hard or hardly working?

So, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have been having quite the time the last couple of weeks.  Between the nice weather (which unfortunately hasn’t included any rain and we are in serious drought/forest fire conditions up here) and helping to put on a huge fundraising event for work last friday (two days ago), I have been knitting like a fiend, but mostly absent from the more social aspects of our fiber world.

So, since posting about my beautiful new red shawl, I have managed to work stupid long hours to make this fundraising event, a cottage tour on Lake Muskoka using the R.M.S. Segwun, happen.  It was an amazing event, everyone had a great time and we had spectacular weather.

As well, we have been helping Carla with her new puppy, Tosh, while she works the obcene hours her job requires during the 3 1/2 week chamber music festival she helps to run.

Also, I managed to finish a few projects, and by a few I mean, a shawl, two scarves and a pair of socks …

So I have a bit of work ahead of me to catch up on my blogging, but we are now into the Ravellenic Games (formerly known as the Ravelympics) and I’m aiming to knit two pairs of patterned socks (Pinus Sicilian and Cone Socks) and my first projects on DPNs, Monte.

Oh and I didn’t spin a yard for the Tour de Fleece, maybe next year …

So what do you think, working hard or hardly working?

FO: Falling Leaves Shawl

It is amazing when a total fluke/whim sets you off on a new, awesome, path.  For me, deciding on May 31st to sign up for the Through the Loops Mystery KAL starting on June 1st made me realize how much I enjoy knitting lace and that semicircular shawls are amazing.

It was also great that I has just the right amount of yarn, in a great color, already in my stash.  So yay for stashbusting!

The Mystery KAL format, basically a clue every week, really helped keep me knitting on the project, I had deadlines (the next clue release) to meet and just as I was getting tired of knitting the shawl, the clue would be done and I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about putting it aside.

I look forward to future mystery KALs from Kristen Kapur, she seems to do a shawl and sock every year, and I think I will try to do both next year.

Well when you put your shawl down on Opehlia’s rock you have to expect that she will sit on your shawl.

– Details –

Project Name: Falling Leaves Shawl

Pattern: TTL Mystery Shawl 2012 by Kristen Kapur

Recipient: Me!

Yarn: KnitPicks Gloss Lace in Fiesta

Modifications:

  • None

New Skills:

  • Semicircuclar Shape – This is my first time knitting a semi-circular shawl, I love it!
  • Proper Gauge – When I used to knit shawls I didn’t understand that I am a stupidly tight knitter so all my shawls turned into shawlettes and my shawlettes in to kerchiefs, so actually work this at (slightly larger than) gauge is totally new.

Feedback:

  • Yarn – It is nice, nothing shocking, but that is what you get with KP, good consistent yarns that don’t surprise (good or bad) at a good price. Kinda like Tim Hortons, good, not fancy but gets the job done on budget.
  • Pattern – Nice pattern, my first Mystery KAL which was fun (and helped me get it done in 4 weeks).  I’m impressed with Kristen’s work and I’m already planning my next shawl from her.

Re-Knit?: Nope, but I’m totally into the Through the Loops patterns so I expect to make more like it in future.

Tour de What?

So, here we are more than a week into the Tour de Fleece and I have spun ….

Pretty much nothing.

This is less than an ounce of fiber … yeah not exactly volume.

While last year’s tour had me totally engaged, this year I have zero interest in spinning.  Maybe it’s my current work schedule that takes two perfectly good hours out of my day, (well more than that because I take a lunch and work a slightly longer day, making my work day an hour longer than my last job), maybe its the really interesting knitting projects I want to get done before the Ravellenics, maybe I just don’t want to spin right now.

I think spinning is a Fall winter endeavor for me, I don’t know but I seem to engage with it better when the weather is colder and the evenings are dark or something.  To me its something to be done fireside, not poolside.

But knitting, I have been having a fantastic run with knitting.  Between the time I write this post (1:30pm) and when I will probably get around to posting it, (after dinner) I will be finished up a pair of socks, my July socks, Don’t Blink.

So I did finish the socks, and they are awesome.

Also, I’m more than halfway through my Spectra scarf and my Secrets of Change shawl.  If I time this right I will only have my purse socks and the Muir shawl left on my needles on July 27th when it’s time to cast on for the Ravellenics (formerly the Ravelypmics). Then I can just work on these long term projects, and weaving before the mass cast on, because I want to have a clean queue so I can get through some serious knitting during the Ravellenics.

Summer is getting to be pretty nice here in Parry Sound, it is much easier to knit and watch the sunset than spin and watch the sunset.

So don’t weep for me Tour de Fleece, I’m having a very fibery July, and maybe I will dedicate November to spinning, a much better month to be at my wheel.

FO: Lettucefrog Socks

It’s on projects like these that my identity as a process knitter is  solidified, I preferred the look of my original pattern for this yarn, however I disliked knitting those socks, so I frogged, and in one of the quickest turn arounds on a pair of socks for me, I found one that was more fun to knit.

For me knitting is about the act of making the stitches and making the item.  I do really enjoy wearing my knitting, it is warm, beautiful and gives me a deep sense of pride, but the act of making it is far more important than the finished object.  I would not  have ever finished the first pair of socks, they weren’t something my fingers wanted to make, however, I found something that was a blast to knit and turns out look pretty awesome on my feet too.

So with this pair, I have finished five pairs of socks this year, so I’m still on track for my Sock of the Month plans.

– Details –

Project Name: Lettucefrog Socks

Pattern: Leapfrog Socks by Debbie O’Neill in Sockupied, Spring 2012

Recipient: Me

Yarn: Sweet Georgia Yarn, Tough Love Sock in Lettucewrap

Modifications:

  • Shortened Cuff and Leg: I don’t like super tall socks, my calves are too big for most sock patterns without shaping so I shortened up the leg and cuff to make these more wearable.

New Skills:

  • The stitch pattern was new to me, but for the most part I’m getting really comfortable with the base sock patterns so I’m going to have to go out of my way to try different constructions to expand my sock knitting skills.

Feedback:

  • Yarn: What can I say, I’m in Love with Tough Love!  A great yarn to knit the color is fabulous, it is mostly a solid but with some depth without seeming too multi.  And it washes beautifully, I machine wash and dry all my socks, and the socks are even nicer after a trip through the laundry.
  • Pattern: Overall, a good pattern. I enjoyed the Sockupied iPad format, although the patterns are stand alone PDFs that are linked to the app. But the app itself is really quite fun and takes advantage of the interactive nature of the iPad.

Re-Knit?: Nope, nice socks, but the 20 sock patterns in my queue are ahead of a remake on this pair, however I do like the way this pair fits.

FO: Baby Sophisticate Scarf

Buying yarn is a fun thing, you find a pattern you think you are going to love, you invest in the yarn and then it sits in your stash because either the pattern doesn’t work for you or you don’t really use knit bags or like wearing colorwork mittens.

That is how I ended up with a far too large stash of KnitPicks Palette.  It is amazing yarn for colorwork, however I don’t enjoy colorwork, I spend too much emotional energy making sure my gauge isn’t too tight or stressing over the fact that I use needles several millimeters larger than called for to make it work.

I was able to destash quite a bit of it to fellow Guild members back in February, however I still held onto some of it for some odd reason and now find myself drowning in yarn I’m not interested in using and not valuable enough to go to the effort to destash through Ravelry.

However, after washing this scarf, I think the yarn has found its calling, it is soft and drapey and the colors are just amazing.  I think colorwork is far more fun when I don’t have to worry about gauge and floats.

That’s not to say this scarf was without its challenges.  Because of the warp seperator I’ve been using on my loom I managed to shred one of my warp threads, way back at the back apron beam, and so I decided to cut the scarf off the loom early and sacrifice the rest of the warp to either future striped scarf or for the compost bin.  I should have narrowed the scarf and retied it to the front beam, but I was fairly discouraged and started cutting the warp off the back beam before I had really thought it through.  Oh well, live and learn.

Also, let me know how you like these pictures. I have been watching the Craftsy class Shoot It on product photography by Caro Sheridan of Split Yarn so I have been trying out her techniques. Tomorrow’s FO post has my old photos, but the one on Friday has new pictures, and I’m pretty proud of those.

– Details –

Project Name: Baby Sophisticate Scarf

Draft: Grab and Go Bag by Liz Gipson in Weaving Mad Easy

Recipient:Baby Nico (who got the baby knits earlier this year)

Yarn: KnitPicks Palette in Bittersweet Heather and Salsa Heather

Modifications:

  • Altered Sett: Modified from Worsted Weight to Fingering Weight yarn

New Skills:

  • Two color weaving: This was my first time using two shuttles at the same time.  I’m still not sure I understand how to make my two selveges look the same, but I was really getting into the houndstooth flow when my warp snapped/shredded.
  • Alternate warp stripes: To warp the houndstooth pattern I started each of my colors at opposite ends and direct warped alternate slots in both directions.  This worked wonderfully, and I ended up not having to cut too many ends and my warp didn’t get funny from sliding off the apron rod from having too much tension on one side but not the other.

Feedback:

  • Yarn: It’s Palette, so the colors were amazing but because of my warp separator I had my one edge warp thread shred.  I should have been smarter when warping and now that I’m on my second scarf like this I haven’t warped too close to the edge and used paper rather than plastic to separate my warp.
  • Draft: Easy and straight forward, but I LOVE the effect.  I see many, many, many herringbone scarves and yardage in my future.

Re-Weave?: Totally, I already have my next one on the loom and a few inches into weave (although my currently garter mania and the Tour de Fleece are keeping me from really getting much weaving done).

Why craft when you can procrastinate?

So, through the month of May I had some big fun stuff going on of late, like deadlines for volunteer projects and job interviews, and projects I have to finish from my last job (I volunteered to finish because I wanted it done right).  During  that time I have been spending quite a bit of time at my desk, and instead of actually working I have been doing all sorts of useful things, like figuring out how much excess yarn I have, and how much each year since 2009.  Not because I’m embarassed, or think I need to buy less yarn, but because I’m crazy and love a good excel table, and I want to know how close my purchases match my use.

I managed to destash a bunch of yarn I was never going to use back in February and it felt great and it has put me on a stash kick, because by using up stash I can buy more of it, and much my yarn tastes have changed since I started knitting, so I want to use up what I have so I can get more of what I want!

So it seems that I’m doing really well this year, based on a ratio of yarn in to yarn out, in the form of knitting/crocheting/weaving/destashing (including handspun, which I only count once, as in just the handspun and not the fluff, I did my fluff/yarn calculations separately and based on weight not yardage).

Initially, I did these calculations in May, however I have been diligent in updating them as I have stashed yarn and fluff , and spun and finished projects.  As of July 1st, 2012 I have 46,038 yds (26mi) of yarn and 5.248 kg (11.5 lbs) of fluff.

Beyond the simple volume issue, there is the matter of the fact that if I knit a whole bunch I can stash a whole bunch, so the ratio between yarn in and out is more important on the side of things.

Now, it is important to note that a ratio of 1.0 means that I have acquired the exact same amount of yarn that I used.  Greater than 1 means I stashed more than I used and less than 1 means that I used more than I stashed.  Ideally, I’d like to keep my lifetime ratio to about 1.0, however that would require more destash and knitting than is feasible, so I plow on, being mindful of the ratio as I pick yarns to stash and projects to make.

As of July 1st, 2012, my lifetime ratio for yarn is 2.32 but for 2012 it is 1.37.

This is the lowest year yet with the closest being 1.85, from 2007-2009, when I was just in the early days of my knitting life. The hightest by contrast is 3.93, from 2010 when I discovered first KnitPicks and then Eat.Sleep.Knit and handdyed yarns other than Malabrigo like madelinetosh. I think my low 2012 is due to destashing almost as much yarn as I have knit.

For fluff it is lifetime, 2.64 but for 2012, 0.78.

My fluff is a bit better on the issue of scale but not in ratio, my fluff to handspun ratio is more like 3.26. In late 2010 I started spinning so I bought a bunch of fluff that I didn’t really spin much of till I got my wheel at Christmas 2010, so for 2011 I bought a whole bunch and spun a whole bunch, but mostly discovered all the goodies to be had out there, and hit it hard!

So what I am aiming for is for the next year or so, getting that number below 1, because then I am using more than I am buying, but to get the overall number to between 1 and 1.25.  Then I can have a nice sustainable yarn stash, full of things I love.

FO: Sealaria Cowl

Not long before Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto I was contacted by Julie Crawford of Knitted Bliss who is a friend and  collaborator with Tanis of Tanis Fiber Arts to ask if I would be interested in testing a new lace cowl pattern.  Knitted in TFA Purple Label, a MCN fingering weight blend, with all sorts of nupps and lace, it seemed right up my alley.

While at Frolic I was able to see all the TFA colors in person for the very first time, and with some help from Tanis herself, I picked Seabreeze as the color I would test the knit in.

While I had done some test knitting a few years ago with the Free Pattern Testers group on Ravelry, this was my first time in the big leagues. It was great to work with Julie and I hope I was helpful in finding some of the quirks, that exist in all patterns, and get them clarified before others, who didn’t have a one-on-one contact with Julie to get their questions answered right away, go to knit it.

A couple of weeks ago, this pattern finally came out as part of the Stella Collection, which included four shawls knit in four different TFA fingering weight yarns (Blue, Purple, Silver and Red).  It is nice to get to share this beautiful cowl with you finally, and to see the other patterns.  I’m hankering to get my hands on one of Tanis’ OOAK colorways in Red Label to knit up the Suncrest Shawl, such a neat shawl and such a wonderful yarn.

– Details –

Project Name: Sealaria Cowl

Pattern: Solaria by Julie Crawford of Knitted Bliss and TFA

Recipient: Me

Yarn: TFA Purple Label in Seabreeze

Modifications:

  • None, this was a test so I followed the pattern exactly-ish.  Changes happened during the testing process but they are in the final pattern.

New Skills:

  • Nupps: With god as my witness, I will never fear Nupps again!  Seriously there are so many of them in their pattern that I am totally cool with nupps now.
  • Testing: It’s been a while since I tested a pattern, its lots of fun, and I would happily do it again.

Feedback:

  • Yarn: Amazing!  My first time working with Purple Label (although I have some of it in my stash) and I’m totally impressed with it.
  • Pattern: As I helped test it, I think its a pretty good pattern, but having a full set of charts is a real bonus, that is my preferred pattern type, so I was glad Julie chose to put full charts in.

Re-Knit?: Probably not, it is a bit too fussy for a gift and I have one so, probably not, but I will be making other patterns from the Stella Collection.

FO: Flower Cowl

Sometimes a yarn bounces from queue item to to queue item so often, sometimes you just have to turn it into something before it goes back into the deep stash not to be seen for years.  So after never finding the right pattern for the Tosh I decided to just use it and make the Calm Cowl, which has been on and off my queue for months.

I really need to crochet more, I do enjoy the activity and the fabric it makes is really different from knit fabric, which means it has different applications.  Maybe some crocheted toys like those made by Stacey at Fresh Stitches.


– Details –

Project Name: Flower Cowl

Pattern: Calm Cowl by Suzana Davidovic

Recipient: Me

Yarn: madelinetosh Tosh DK in Smokey Orchid

Modifications:

  • None

New Skills:

  • Crochet in the Round: although I don’t think I succeeded at it (there are some weird spots where the rounds join)

Feedback:

  • Yarn:  Tosh DK is always awesome, although the skeins were different and I should shave be alternating rounds but didn’t, whoops, that is the joy/danger of working with hand dyed yarns.
  • Pattern: Clear and fine and the FO matched the pattern, although it could have been written in fewer steps, even for a crochet newb like me

Re-Crochet?:  Probably not, I prefer knit cowls, but I do enjoy crochet and should do more of it.