Summer Slump

For the past couple of years I’ve found myself slowing down with my fiber habits and this year is no exception.  In the past I’ve associated it with different things, like a new job, always being on the trail, or just starting up with new hobbies, but I think after a third year of this I think I just don’t have mojo in the summer.

Work has been crazy and the last two weeks particularly so and while the heat from last week has broken, I’ve been totally listless in my fiber doings.

The one bright spot, is that I’m making some serious headway on Carla’s shawl.  I was hoping to have it done by August 1st, but that’s unlikely considering the week I have ahead of me, however I do expect it to be done in the next couple of weeks.

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Also, my Dropcloth samplers have arrived, and I’ve been playing around with embroidery, which has been lots of fun.

Four new samplers

Four new samplers

Just starting out

Just starting out

Getting the hang of the stitches

Getting the hang of the stitches

Doodling on my own

Doodling on my own

 

I’ve been sorta spinning.  I got a new coffee table (and a television) two weeks ago and I haven’t figured out the best spot to spin with the new furniture. But I’m making some headway on spinning Angel.  I want to have it done before our first guild meeting in September so I can show it off to Heather (the shepherd).  I don’t think I’m going to make it back to the Rosseau Market this year, so I may have to email her to see if she has fluff for any other of her sheep because they are an AMAZING spin.  Also, there are little bits of VM (vegetable matter, mostly grass) in the fluff which reminds me of where yarn come from and makes me smile.

 

Angel on the wheelI also tried to distract myself with a bit of crochet and for some reason I wanted to make the African Flower hexagons.  They are fun to make but my heart just wasn’t in it, so now I have some motifs with nothing to do, I might make a couple more and sew them together and give them to my friend Kristen’s two-year old daughter Taylor who can use them for a doll/stuffed animal blanket.

Crocheted Hexagons

I’m hoping to get Carla’s shawl/veil done soon because I still need to knit myself a shawl as well as I haven’t made a pair of socks in ages.  I’ve put most of my other knitting on hold to get this shawl done and I have a few things that have been taunting me for ages and stash that is just dying to be knit up.  However, my stash acquisition hasn’t been too bad this year (and I’ve been destashing slowly) so I’m not feeling the relentless push to keep up with my stash this year, which is probably good for my mental health.

Meet Huggy

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Meet Huggy.

He is the new friend of my boss’s son. I know this because my boss texted me a picture of her son holding Huggy (as the monkey was named as soon as the son saw it).  Apparently since getting the monkey the night before he hadn’t let the stuffy go and was planning to bring it to school later that week for sharing circle.

The picture of Huggy at his new home warmed my heart.  This little boy, who is in Grade 1, and his whole family have been having a long spring.  Without sharing details that aren’t mine to share, the family has been having a tough time and there was really nothing I could do to help them, (other than be an awesome employee).  But I wanted to do something more and this is what I came up with.

I love when the things I make are loved.  Whether it is a dishcloth for my Grannie or socks for my mom, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to see the things I make in tatters because they have been used and appreciated. I think that is part of what appeals to me about knitting/crocheting/weaving/spinning is that the art I make is usable and is ultimately consumed by use.  I can’t imagine what amateur painters, sculptors, and others do with all the things they make.

Well Huggy, welcome to the world; I’m so glad you are so well loved.  And if you want I will make you more bowties in other colors.

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Project: Huggy the Monkey and Huggy’s Bowtie

Pattern: Owen by the Monkey by Stacy Trock of FreshStitches

Yarn: KnitPicks Brava Worsted in Umber Heather, Camel Heather and Red

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!

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).

Kniting and crochet blog week house of monkey

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.

FO: Trio of Amigurumi

As you may recall my sister’s puppy, Tosh, got a very special Christmas present, her very first handmade toys. However, due to her breed being part-terrier nature she quickly developed a nasty habit of chewing holes in these toys.  Although I was initially concerned about beaks, legs and arms being pulled off, she prefers to simply chew off the safety eyes, pull out the yarn tails and chew through the bodies.

So what you see above are two of the last amigurumi for Toshie (the Racoon and the Bird).

The slug however has never felt the teeth of Toshie, as when I showed up at my parent’s place with it, my mother immediately scooped it up and put it on a ledge in her kitchen, where it is still sitting, safely.

I had great fun making these toys and I will keep making them (with the safety eyes) and stash them away, my friends are starting to have babies and toys are always an adorable handmade treat for a new baby. Note: I know safety eyes are not safe for infants and small children, but parents deserve fun toys too.

These toys, like my previous one are all made with patterns from Stacey Trock of Fresh Stitches.  I really like Stacey’s patterns and approach to crochet and design, so I’m really happy to support her by purchasing her patterns.  Also, she is really fun and approachable on Twitter and Ravelry, which just really makes me like her more.

I’ve already started my next toy, William the Whale, I like having a toy on the go, it’s nice to have choices in the WIP basket.

Don’t worry about Toshie, she will not want for toys, and while I won’t be providing them any more (watching her dog destroy the toys within 5 minutes of getting them was to much for Carla to handle) I may use my immense Brava stash to make some doggie blankets.  I get the chance to try out new techniques on a smaller scale and I know that the items will be used regardless of how well it turned out.

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Ravelry Project Pages: Raccoon for Toshie, Hannah the Slug and Toshie Birthday Bird

FIFO, FIFO, it’s off to knit we go

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So, if someone were to look at my workspace, kitchen, dresser, car, hard drive you would make an educated (and accurate) guess that I’m not an overly orderly person.  On the whole whole, my life has taken the “long way ’round”, totally without order or plan.  Which is why my obsession with FIFO (First In, First Out) is so deeply odd.  Although, I do eat the frosting (my favorite part) last when I get cake, so maybe not that odd.

For some reason when I get a new awesome yarn, I can’t just ball it and knit it, I feel the need to keep going with the oldest yarns in my stash.  I’ve been working on this issue, I managed to knit some TFA Red Label in Dove within 2 months of getting it, and it didn’t kill me.

So I’m stating it here, I’m not throwing away my goals for the year, but I’m taking them with a grain of salt.  My tendency would be to attack the list in order (and use the oldest yarns in my stash) and then see what I get to do for fun after the “work” is done.

I have finished, or released myself from, all my obligation crafting (knitting/crochet mostly) and I’m going to do what I want, when I want to.  For the rest of tonight, I think I’m going to sit down at my wheel for the first time in months, and maybe do some reading in my new copy of The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Design. Maybe later this week I will re-warp my loom, or not.  I’m going off script, and the adventure awaits.

Sister Stay-cation

This weekend I had a real treat, my sister Carla showed up and we had an awesome sister-staycation at my apartment.  We watched my selection of animated Disney-ish movies (Brother Bear, Anastasia, Lilo and Stitch), worked on our knitting, made my first batch of truffles, went shopping for Martha Stewart Office Supplies at Staples.

We also ate out at the Griffin Gastropub (an amazing 20 seat pub in Bracebridge) where I had an awesome lentil burger and Carla had some really excellent looking beef stew.

Not only was it a fun weekend it was a productive weekend. Carla finished a sweater and a pair of mittens, and I managed to get all my mystery leftover skeins tagged and niddy-noddied some of the yarns I won’t be knitting anytime soon (RIP Color Affection, the yarns are nice but after two months I have to admit I’m not all that interested in knitting it).  I also finished and blocked the two baby sweaters, finished an illusion knit dishcloth that I started at the Huntsville Spinners and Weavers guild last Thursday, and also finished crocheting and stuffing an amigurumi Raccoon for Toshie, started a pair of socks on my new 9in circulars (still figuring out whether I like it or not), and planned out two shawlettes for the moms of the two babies getting sweaters, and made plans to participate in the Slug-A-Long at Fresh Stitches.

So, overall a very fun, productive weekend, hopefully Carla will be able to come back again soon.