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.

IMG_1087

 

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.

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.

FO: Stardust Neckwarmer

Soft, squishy, and such a pretty blue.

This yarn has been burning a hole in my stash since I frogged the Stardust Mittens back in January.  It is so soft, and the color so subtle and blue (a color that I frequently over look in favor of green).

The stitch pattern was easy to remember but still engaging.

This spring when I started doing trail pass checks twice a week I knew I needed a pattern that was in the round, easily memorized and not too elaborate to work on at the trailhead, and I found the Twisted Rib Neckwarmer.  The pattern seemed designed for the yarn and so I set off.  After two months of working on it, I felt the need to finish it, mostly because as much as I like to think I can have many, many projects on the go at once, I really am a serial monogamist when it comes to projects.  I finished it a while back, but I didn’t have the time or inclination to block it, and then I kept forgetting to get pictures.

So here it is, finally, the Stardust Neckwarmer, slightly out of season, but just so very, very soft.

The yarn has squish and the pattern has drape, so the two worked well together.

Project Name: Stardust Neckwarmer

Pattern: Twisted Rib Neckwarmer by Michelle Johnston of Lush Yarn

Recipient: Me, me, me

Yarn: Handmaiden Bess in Stardust (80% Superwash Merino, 20% Cashmere)

Modifications:

  • Used a slightly larger needle and didn’t gauge swatch so I presume that it is larger than gauge.

New Skills:

Feedback: Nice pattern, nice yarn, however I hated the bind off.  It was tedious and unattractive.  That said, I do want to figure out a way to match cast on and bind off and retain stretchiness.

Re-Knit?: Not likely, it was a nice pattern, but there are many more types of cowls out there in the world.

WIP Wednesday: July 6th

Where are the socks? They are safe and sound and on my feet, and you will be seeing more of them soon. So, the crochet blanket is at a standstill, but I only have 15g or so left to knit on the cowl, so hopefully soon I will start something fresh.

On Stashing and Busting

So, I have never been one for collecting. There was a bit of a brush with Beanie Baby collecting in the late 90s, but after a quick explanation from my mom about what “value” means (something is only worth what someone will pay for it), I haven’t been into collecting items for the sake of collecting them.  However since, rediscovering knitting, and then spinning, in the past year, I have a new collection, my yarn and fiber collection.

My Stash! And yes, it is still winter here.

Having a full-time, well-paid, job over the summer (for the first time) I found myself stashing yarn like crazy.  I wanted to try out all the yarns I had admired from afar, or rather Ravelry, and I had nothing stopping me.  So I stashed and stashed and stashed.  I haven’t totaled up the amount I spent on yarn in 2010, mostly because it will make me cry.  I am still totally financially solvent, but I have a somewhat absurd yarn collection, in my eyes.  Sure there are plenty of people out there with way more yarn than me, but due to many, many moves as child and young adult, I don’t like having too much stuff, because it is way too difficult to move.

My goal for 2011, was to end the year with less yarn than I started the year with.  So far, I have been successful, I have stashed a bit more yarn, but I have knit up a whole bunch more.

Some Fleece Artist Big Merino that snuck into the stash, ooops.

Accounting for a fair chunk of my stash (which if you have Ravelry you can view here) Knit Picks Palette and Wool of the Andes for felted (or rather fulled) bags. Initially I had planned on making the Grazing Sheep Bag from I Heart Felt, the Billington Bag from the Knit Picks Independent Designers Program  and the Reflecting Pools Bag from the Knitter’s Book of Wool (which as a side note is amazing and a must-read for all knitters).  This added up to quite a few balls of feltable wool, however I started the Grazing Sheep Bag and the intarsia was making me crazy, so I went back to the KP IDP program and found the Alluvia Tote, designed by the fantastic Allison Haas aka. Alaskan Purl.  I after digging through my stash I found I had a bunch of green Wool of the Andes, and decided to use the greens, along with a ball of taupe and white, to do the Alluvia tote.  The remainder of my WotA will go towards the Billington Bag and possibly an electric heating pad cover (which I am hoping to design at sometime before I stop needing the pad.

The Sequence of Colors for my Alluvia Tote

I must say, as I work on the Alluvia Tote which is a blast, I am really enjoying the fact that I am using up my stash.  For so long I was so afraid to use things up, like a nice lotion or fancy jam.  But really, yarn, like all wonderful luxuries, are best used.  Although that hank of Handmaiden Sea Silk I ordered over the summer hasn’t been used yet, because I am not quite ready to commit it to a pattern, but I will I swear.

The Sacred Sea Silk

Are you a stasher or a buster?  Do you  have a hank of something that you haven’t knit yet, because it is too special?  Or do you only buy yarn with a pattern in mind?

On Frogging and Moving Forward

As a knitter I spend far too much time trying to match up the right yarn with the right pattern.  After investing so much time in picking the yarn, picking the pattern and then knitting it is tough to admit you made the wrong choice.

I had been working on my Stardust Mitts for months, starting way back in November I had picked out the Ailbe Pattern from the Winter 2009 Knitty (which is the same issue my Winter Moustache Cowl had come from).  I love this pattern, the delicate cabling, the use of sock yarn, it seemed just perfect.  I chose to use the absolutely stunning Handmaiden Bess in Stardust for the project.  I swatched, and I counted, and I cast on with size 1 (2.25mm) needles, ready to go.

The Cuff

Then things got challenging.  The tiny needles, combined with the frequent cabling made this project feel more and more like a dead weight around my neck.  I dropped them for a while over Christmas, more enamored by my spinning wheel and a lace project to be bothered by these mittens. Finally, as part of my New Years Plans I decided to take them back up.  After almost two more weeks of fighting and knitting I made it past the thumb gusset only to discover that it was too big!  All that swatching it was too big.

So I spent two or three days deciding what I wanted to do, do I tear back to the cuff (which fit great and rejigger the number of stitches to make a smaller palm, or do I forge on and convince myself that they aren’t too big or do I frog them completely and find a new project for the yarn and remake the mitts in the summer with Mal Sock (as the pattern calls for) in the correct size.

In the end I decided to frog.

The Last Look

For those of you who are not fully intergrated in to the ridiculous lingo of knitting, frogging is to tear back a section of knitting. Or rather to ripit, ribbit, out.  I generally don’t frog, I rarely use lifelines, and I am terrible at finding all my stitches, I am much more likely to tink (knit spelled backwards) which is to un-knit each stitch until I am back where the error was made.  I can correct the error and move forward again.  Tinking is best if you only have a little ways to go, but if you are like me and don’t use lifelines (I never remember to put the damn things in) it is the “easiest” way to fix a mistake. I am so adept at tinking at this point I can tink almost as fast as I can knit (well not really, but I am a great tinker).

So, with the decision made to frog, I decided rather than ending up with my usual tangeled mess, I would use my niddy-noddy and re-skein the ball and then frog directly on to the niddy-noddy. This system managed to get the mitten frogged and the yarn skeined the easiest yet.

So fare the well my stardust mitts, you were beautiful, but with your superwash merino and your 12% cashmere content you were never never truly destined for my hands, you need to be around my neck.  And to that end I have found you a new pattern, a Twisted Rib Neckwarmer (Ravelry Link).

I know things get better after frogging.  I had some gorgeous Malabrigo Lace in Vermillion, I wanted to make it into the fantastic Butternut Scarf by Anne Hanson. I adore Anne’s patterns and I am avid reader of her blog, Knitspot, however the pattern and the yarn never “clicked” for me.  After nearly six months of agony, I decided to fully frog the pattern and start over, it felt great!

RIP Cherrywood Scarf

So I got to change my Cherrywood Scarf into my Grannie-bel Shawl, the Ishbel Shawl designed by Ysolda Teague, who also has a fantastic blog.

Hello Grannie-bel

I gave it to my grandmother for Christmas. It was so nice to see something I had caused me so much angst (ie. the Cherrywood Scarf) could be remade into something so nice.

I can only hope that my Stardust Mittens will be as happy in their second life as the Cherrywood Scarf is in its.