Day 7: Looking Forward

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One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

This could be anything from mastering a technique (broomstick lace, entrelac, etc), trying a new yarn or skill, or a long term wish to crochet only from your stash, or knit every stitch in one of the Harmony Guides. Maybe you have no desire or plans for your craft at all, no new element of knitting or crochet that you dream of mastering, in which case write about why that might be. In a year’s time participants will be asked to look back to see if they achieved any goals, no matter how general, and see which house conquered the art of looking forward.

Looking forward has always been a big part of the new year on my blog.  For the past few years I’ve been setting goals, for 2013 my goals are …

Quantities

  • Spin 5lbs of fluff
  • Use up 10 miles of yarn
  • Create 40 items (knit, crocheted or woven)
  • Knit 15 pairs of socks
  • Knit an adult sweater for myself

Techniques

  • Complete a project in Tunisian Crochet
  • Learn and complete a project that uses Broomstick Lace
  • Learn and complete a project in Brioche Stitch
  • Learn and complete a project in double knitting
  • Complete a tatting project
  • Give stranded colorwork another try
  • Complete the sampler in The Weavers Idea Book by Jane Patrick
  • Complete a weaving project using overshot techniques
  • Compete a weaving project for something OTHER than a scarf or cowl
  • Spin a semi-woolen yarn (long draw from a combed top)
  • Spin an “art yarn”
  • Spin a laceweight yarn
  • Give needle felting another try
  • Give DPNs another try

Yarn and Stash

  • Use my handspun yarns in knitting, crochet and weaving projects
  • Use more yarn than I stash — More specifically get my stash ratio to less than 1.0 for 2013 and try to get my lifetime ratio to less than 2.0 by the end of the year (as the end of 2012 it was 2.43)
  • Destash yarns I don’t absolutely love and probably won’t ever use

I’ve already accomplished a few of these goals, well I’ve knit a brioche scarf, woven a pickup stick sampler scarf, and I’ve finished 3 (nearly 4) pairs of socks.

A few others I’ve already tried and discarded, like giving needle felting a try.  I tried again and ended up giving away my needle felting supplies. Also, double knitting, unless I find a project I love I didn’t really like the technique.

So for the purpose of KCBW, my goal for the year is to make sure that I enjoy my crafting and that I didn’t push aside my enjoyment of fiber to meet some artificial goals.  Also, to make the Mascot Projects that I  wrote about on Day 2.

And as another successful Knitting & Crochet Blog Week draws to a close I have to give a big shoutout to Eskimimi for putting together a fantastic blogging event, here’s to year 5!

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Day 6: A Tool to Covet

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Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers.

Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which applications/tasks do you think it is most suited. Conversely, do you have a tool/accessory that you regret buying? Why does it not work for you?

Sorry for the delay in posting this, Friday was just nuts and yesterday I was up at 5:30am to get to Toronto for opening at the Knitter’s Frolic. Back to yesterday’s scheduled program.

Right now the fiber object I covet most is a new spinning wheel.  It’s not that my current wheel isn’t great it just isn’t great for me.  The treadles are too close together for my hip and so spinning for long periods of time makes my knees twinge.  I’m on a hunt for a new wheel and a home for my current one and right now I covet having one that works well for me.

Last summer I had a chance to spend some time spinning on a few different Schacht wheels and all three (the Ladybug, the Sidekick and the Matchless) all felt like a dream.  I found that the Sidekick worked best, however the higher cost and lack of versatility (no double drive) means that it is great as a second or travel wheel.  I think I want to get a Ladybug but instead of making the same mistake as last time, I’m going to try out a few different wheels before investing.

I think I’m going to head to Gemini Fibres one weekend in the next month or two as they have the best selection of wheels around.  The are about an hour and a half drive south of me so it will make for a nice Saturday adventure.

However, I’m using the guild loom for a table weaving class in June so if I’m not careful a table loom might be the next tool to covet or possibly a drum carder as I love spinning from carded batts.  What can I say, I have a problem.

Day 5: Something A Bit The Same

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t’s the annual challenge to blog in a way different to how you normally blog. You may choose to create a podcast, or vlog, create a wordless post or write in verse. You’ve already stretched your wings with an infographic, now it’s time to freestyle. You can post on any topic you like, but be sure to post in a style different from your usual blog presentation. There’s not too much guidance for this one simply because the more varied the posts are on this day, the wider the sources of information for other bloggers will be. Bonus points if you manage to work your house animal in somehow.

Those who saw my posts from last year may recognize this gif, but this week has been kicking my ass and so I thought a bit of mindless knitting would make everything go more smoothly. Click on the image to find out more about the image from last year

Day 4: Color Review

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What are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting.

Only after writing this part of your post should you then actually look to see what colours you have used in your projects. Make a quick tally of what colours you have used in your projects over the past year and compare it to the colours you have written about. Compare this, in turn, to the colours that are most dominant in your yarn stash – do they correlate?

Now think back to your house animal – do the colours you have chosen relate to your animal in anyway – if you are in the house of peacock, for example, are your projects often multicoloured and bright?

As part of the Knit and Crochet Blog Week last year I did a post about my own color confusion.

This is what my stash looked like then …

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Today it looks more like this …

Well, I decided to go to the gym instead of getting photos in the daylight (also it’s raining/snowing here again today so it was a Debbie Downer of a day), so I don’t know what my stash colorwheel looks like today, but here is the overall survey of colors from my exported Ravelry data.

 

So it looks like I’ve managed to make projects in a relative proportion to what I seem to buy.  Also, I’m surprised how proportional my stash is, color wise, I was expecting to see more purple and green.  These are two colors I naturally gravitate towards when I’m putting yarn in my shopping cart (even if I don’t buy it). I would like to expand my palette but that may be more a question of tint and tone rather than hue as I gravitate towards mostly dark, fall/winter shades rather than fun, clear tones.

I wish I could find a way to tie it to my monkey-ness but honestly work has been insane (which is great) and I ended up spending way more of my evening than I would like to admit trying to get the excel file open and doing the data crunching.

So the story of color is that I totally buy on instinct and it seems I’m just as haphazard in using those colors in projects.  Also, as someone who knits accessories (rather than sweaters) I think I have a bit more freedom to be random with my colors because I really doesn’t matter if the color “works” for you if you are wearing it as socks, and I do love me some wild colored socks.

Socky socks socks

Day 3: Infographic – Stash Table of Doom

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There are many ways of conveying information on a blog; text and images being the two most widely used. Many infographics combine both these elements to provide a visual way of presenting text information.

Make your own infogaphic (no fancy imaging software needed, you can draw it on paper and photograph it if you want) to convey any element of your craft(s). It can be just for fun or a thoroughly researched presentation of an idea/finding.

In Miles of Yarn

In Miles of Yarn

In yards

In yards

A ratio of 1 means an equal amount of yarn purchased and yarn used

A ratio of 1 means an equal amount of yarn purchased and yarn used

In grams

In grams

1.0 means equal amount of fluff in as yarn made

1.0 means equal amount of fluff in as yarn made

I blogged about the creation of these infographics way back last May, when I created the fiber tracking stash table of doom (or yarn tracking as it is so innocently named in my system).

But basically these are representations of the current state of my stash and is my way of feeling in control of my yarn stash.  These are tools to help me tell myself a story, also for some reason I really like creating tables and working with data.

Day 2: A Mascot Project

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Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house. Alternatively it could be a type or colour of yarn, or a single button. Whatever you choose, decide upon a project and blog about how and why it relates to your house/creature. You do not have to make this project! It is simply an exercise in blogging about how you come to decide upon what projects to make. Try and blog about the journey which inspiration and investigating patterns, yarns, stitches, (etc) can often guide you through. You may wish to make a collage or ‘mood board’ to present several ideas, or even sketch out your own design.

I find myself pulled in two different directions on this topic, one is to embrace the animal of the Monkey and the other is to follow the path of what I see the House of Monkey as representing, challenge.

Mascot Project – Literal

The first path is the monkey itself.  In the fall I got back into Craftsy classes (mostly after they launched an iPad app that makes them much more enjoyable to view in my opinion) and I got hooked on the idea of making Amigurumi.  If you aren’t familiar, amigurumi are crocheted or knitted toys. The style (and term) originated in Japan and are quite popular.  I enjoy crocheting but I don’t love the fabric for garments and a person really doesn’t need that many afghans so amigurumi were a great choice for me.

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A couple of weeks ago I finished up another piece of amigurumi, a really cute whale and gave it to my boss who has been having a pretty rough go of it.  I asked her what her son’s favorite animal is and it turns out that it is a … monkey (I know, you’re shocked).

So my first mascot project is Owen the Monkey by Stacy Trock of FreshStitches.

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I will be making it as my next amigurumi, the little boy it’s intended for could use a a stuffed version of his favorite creature.

Mascot Project – Figurative

Following the spirit of the monkey rather than a literal monkey, my mascot project is one that challenges me and forces me to expand my skills.  To me there are two potential mascot projects, one is a stranded colorwork project and the other is a design project.

Endpaper Mitts

Stranded colorwork is something that I have done but I don’t feel confident in it and it’s not something I do easily or very well.  So I should probably find a stranded project to do to re-build me confidence in the area, maybe a pair of fingerless mitts.  I wear my Endpaper Mitts all the time and they hardly show any wear.  I know that many moons ago I had queued and favorited other charts that looked fantastic on that mitt pattern.  Maybe that is my project, it would require some of my own design work and a part of knitting that I struggle with.

Or maybe its going to be knuckling down and figuring out and writing down the pattern for a cowl I dreamt up a month or so ago.  This isn’t the greatest shot of the pattern, mostly because this was the only yarn in bulky weight I had on hand when inspiration struck.

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It is without a doubt a fashion cowl rather than a warmth cowl, but I’m pretty impressed with myself.   So this is the other option on the other path.  I can see all these being feesible projects for over the next few months, as long as I can stay on top of my sock knitting (I’ve learned I always need to have a pair of “fancy” socks on the needles) and the wedding shawls I need to make for my sister’s wedding in October.

Day 1: The House Cup

A bit like Harry Potter, but not quite, this year’s Knitting & Crochet Blog Week is split into 4 houses. Don your favourite knitted or crocheted hat and let it guide you to which house you will be in.

So choose your house. You may be a combination of more than one of these noble beasts, but think about which house best embodies your qualities and declare your place. You can use one of the graphics above to display your house crest, if you like (though this is totally optional).

Post about your crafting outlook/style and why you chose this house. The descriptions have been purposefully written to seem quite vague, but that’s really because they are only the merest starting point to prompt bloggers to write about in which ways they identify themselves within their craft(s).

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The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

This year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week has a different flavor than in past years.  This year we must first sort ourselves into houses and for me it was a pretty clear choice to be in the House of Monkey.

I’m a process knitter, while I like having finished objects to wear, for me knitting (and crocheting, and spinning and weaving) are an activity in itself.  I like ramping up the skill level, I like learning new techniques and skills and I do go out of my way to select patterns that use new (to me) stitch patterns, or exotic shaping.

This is part of why I have continued to add crafts, in June I’m taking a table weaving workshop with a borrowed loom because I want to learn more things.

The challenge for me these days is that I’m getting quite comfortable and confident in many of the techniques that I’m finding it tough to find “new” skills (at least in knitting).  I think the next big challenge for me is designing.  I have a few ideas and am getting the hang of improving/adapting patterns to suit my needs so I think I’m on track for the next stage.

To see more of the projects I have finished over the past couple of years you can check out Ravelry (sign-up required) or here on the blog.

Inspiration to Spin

Amongst my spinning people

Amongst my spinning people

My wheel and I have had an up/down relationship, but thanks to a Spinning and Colour workshop yesterday held by the Trillium Hanspinners and Weavers I’m feeling much better about my spinning.

The first thing is, my wheel is not the best fit for me.  So I’m going to start looking for a new wheel and a new home for my Ashford Traveller (if you are in Muskoka/Parry Sound and are interested in a really great wheel leave me a comment and I will get back to you).

My Ashford Traveller

My Ashford Traveller

However, I’m still able to make some pretty amazing yarn on it.

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But with respect to the workshop, it was great to actual learn from a spinning teacher, in person.  I’ve been able to find lots of great books, videos and online instruction but they don’t “talk back” or help you correct errors, like criminally under-plyed yarn.

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Properly plyed (or even slightly overplyed) yarn just off the wheel

The theme of the workshop was Spinning and Colour and while the color instruction was helpful, for me it was learning way more about the wheel.  But on the color front I learned a few tricks for combining handdyed and solid rovings to help stretch special yarn.

The original multi on the far right, the two samples are on the left, where it has been plyed with a cerise red or a dark blue.

The original multi on the far right, the two samples are on the left are mine. I plyed my single  has been plyed with a cerise red or a dark blue.

I decided to give it a try with some of the leftovers on random bobbins from past projects, and I’m not totally sold on the high-contrast handspun, I prefer a painterly tonal look, but it is something different.

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The pink from the yarn showed above plyed on the Opuntia braid I spun up a couple of months ago.

So I’m going get back to my wheel and see what other beauties I can whip up before she finds her new home and I find a new wheel to make friends with.

P.S. The 4th year of the Knit and Crochet Blog Week is starting tomorrow and I’m going to be participating, so don’t be surprised that there will be posts here all next week.