Bad with Blogging..

I know, it’s already almost the END of August, and I didn’t make a single post this month! But I think I have a pretty good reason. See, the Olympics happened, and with it the Ravellenic Games. I wrote about it before, on this blog actually. I had really ambitious hopes of finishing 8 entire projects during the two week period that the games run, but in the second week I completely burned out (a mixture of pregnancy / heat / and real life getting in the way) and instead I only managed to finish 6 of those 8. Still, for my first run that wasn’t too bad. What did I get done?

Mittens2First up was a pair of baby mittens. They match the rest of the pumpkin themed outfit I’ve knit for my Llama Bean due October 20th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

scarfNext up was a knitted scarf that is made with galileo yarn from knitpicks. This yarn has bamboo in it, and it was my first time knitting with the stuff. It’s a BEAUTIFUL yarn to work with. I have 9 more skeins and I’m not sure what I’m going to make yet, but I know it will be lovely. The drape and feel of the yarn is incredibly luxurious.

 

 

 

BarleyI made two baby hats, one in acrylic and one in wool of the andes (also from knitpicks). Very simple hats that I think work well. Since Llama Bean is going to be a fall / winter baby, there should be some good use of them, too.

 

 

 

 

babyhat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

babybooties

 

I added another pair of booties in there too, to match one of the hats. These were actually knit flat and then seamed together. I hate seaming, but these turned out pretty cute. I may add a bit of ribbon to keep them attached to baby’s feet.

 

 

 

It’s more knitting than I’ve done in a long time, and I couldn’t be more pleased even though they were smaller items. I also frogged a handful of things that I knew I was just never going to get finished. I’m trying to be better about my WIP pile – I only want one or two projects on the go at a time. I know me, and if I have any more than that, they just won’t get done. I ended up frogging a blanket and a shawl that I started back in December. The shawl was simply too complicated for me. The blanket was back before I really knew how to knit and there were so many mistakes in it, it was just easier to start all over.

The two items that didn’t make the cut were a pair of mittens that I actually tried to start and was just not in love with at all (frogged), and a celtic cable dish cloth that I just didn’t have time for. I do have a bunch of cotton and may make the dish cloth in the future, but for now I’m incredibly happy with what I did accomplish. Not only that, but I won a set of stitch markers from my Ravelry group – I’ve never won anything before! I’m pretty dang excited all around.

How did you do in the Ravellenic Games? Let me know in comments!

 

Challenge Yourself

13584175_294871507569637_1784062938_nOne of the knitting goals I made for myself in 2016 was to knit a sweater. Not because I think they’re particularly difficult (there are some really great beginner projects out there, I’ll talk about that more in a minute) but because patience has never been a strong point of mine, and in order to knit an entire sweater, you need to have patience. A lot of my completed projects are smaller ones done in a day or two, using very little yarn. The afghan squares I do monthly are a great example. Lately baby clothes have been another great example (though I do have a good reason for making those at least). I’ve been trying to work on my patience and I like to think it’s coming along, but it’s a hard thing to gauge.

As it just so happened the Beginner’s Group I belong to on Ravelry picked a pattern called $5 in Paris as our monthly KAL. I took one look at it and fell in love – and convinced myself that THIS would be the sweater I could actually complete.

Turns out I was right.

I started it July 2nd and by July 9th it was completed. I made a size medium, knowing I wouldn’t be able to try it on due to being 24 weeks pregnant. I decided to bypass the shaping as the initial run of the pattern excluded it and it looked fine. Better than fine, even. I tried it on and the shoulders and arms fit wonderfully, chest was a little tight (no surprise there) and I couldn’t even begin to get it over my pregnant belly, but I was excited knowing that once I have my baby I’ll have a beautiful hand knit sweater that I can wear (maybe not right away, but I’ll get there). I knit it with KnitPicks Brava Worsted in cobblestone and dublin.

The pattern was clear and very simple. I only needed to know a few stitches, and most of them I had already used in the past. These stitches included knitting in the round (I’ve been doing that since I first taught myself to knit), kfb (knit front and back which is a type of stitch increase), k2tog (knit two together, which is a stitch decrease), and ssk (slip slip knit).

In my picture above the sweater isn’t blocked yet, I had something else on my mat so it would have to wait, but I’m still incredibly pleased with the result. Knowing that I have knit myself an actual garment, that I can wear, that I made with my own two hands.. Well, that’s pretty satisfying, especially as someone who is self taught.

I think when it comes to learning skills and bettering ourselves it’s incredibly important to remember to also challenge ourselves. To keep trying until we reach our goals. Not to get discouraged and of course to allow ourselves to feel that sense of pride when we finally accomplish those goals no matter what they are or how insignificant they may seem to someone else. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back, you deserve it.

Bring on the 2016 Ravellenic Games

Rav-GamesWe’re coming up to August, and that means a pretty significant sporting event is going to be taking place in Rio. Despite all of the turmoil surrounding the event, I can’t help but get a bit excited. Not only am I a fan of sports, but I happen to really love knitting – and Ravelry is hosting the 2016 Ravellenics. What is it?

Well, basically you can join a team or go solo, and the goal is to challenge yourself by starting and finishing one or more projects during the time the games run (16 days). I’ve teamed up with Team BKAL, which is my beginner’s knit along group. For our team anything we knit has to have been a previous KAL and fit into one of the Ravellenic Games categories. There’s prizes, and it’s great motivation to actually get some knitting done. Plus you get to “meet” all sorts of new and interesting people who are also doing this event.

It begins with a mass cast-on happening during the game opening ceremonies. Whatever time zone you’re in, when Rio does their opening at 8pm (their time, not yours) that’s when the Ravellenic Games begin too. For me that’ll be 4pm. I’ve always loved watching the opening ceremonies and knowing that knitters (and crocheters, and spinners) all over the world are also going to be watching “together” while we all cast-on is a pretty neat feeling.

I’ve been preparing lists on what I’d like to knit (as always) and I’ve narrowed it down to a few choices. I don’t think I’ll be able to get all of the way through my list, but I’m hoping to clear at least a few of them. The categories I’d like to participate in are:

  • Mitten Medley
  • Scarf Hockey
  • Frogging Trampoline
  • Household Heptathalon
  • Cowl Jump
  • Hat Dash
  • Sock-Put

The easiest category is the frogging one, you don’t actually have to knit anything, but you have to frog a previous started (or) completed project and take pictures of the frogging. I’ve already got a sock in mind for that, when I knit it I didn’t do a very good job of measuring my feet and I was afraid of starting a second skein of yarn so I played dangerous yarn chicken and now the sock doesn’t fit on my foot. Time to frog that, and re-knit it into another sock (which is where the sock-put category comes into play).

If I time my projects and have nothing else going on I may be able to get them all done. Some are smaller baby items, quicker knits. The only two that will take a larger amount of time to complete are the jeweled cowl I have chosen for the cowl jump, and the knitted neck scarf I’ve chosen for scarf hockey. Still, it’s an ambitious list, and I’m going to be happy if I even complete one item on it. With my pregnancy still having its up and down moments, I can’t guarantee anything these days.

Will you be participating? Have you joined a team? What categories are you looking to partake in? Let me know in comments!

It’s time to Stashdown

June has come and is almost gone – and I’m finally starting to get my knitting mojo back after a few months of it vanishing. This is a good thing! A really good thing. With it comes a desire to downsize a bit of my yarn stash, at least a few of the giant machine cones that were gifted to me late last year. I was given 18 cones of yarn, and while most of them are pretty nice a handful are either yarns that don’t feel very pleasant to touch, or are yarns that I will probably not work with for xyz reason. Most of the yarn is mystery yarn as there’s no labels any more or I couldn’t figure out what type they were from the meager labels that were left on. I destashed 524 grams total, which is about two cones worth.  The two cones in question are the two pinks in the image pictured above. The top one is a type of mohair / alpaca yarn, something with a really heavy halo and it just wasn’t one I’m fond of at all. The second pink down below is a coarse sparkle type of yarn, probably acrylic. It didn’t feel nice against my skin, and both were lace / fingering weight.

I updated my stash page over on Ravelry to indicate the changes that were most noticeable this year. I haven’t finished off very many types of yarn so there are not many X’s over on the stash pictures, but I know there are odds and ends still kicking around (I roll them up and keep them in bags by weight, one of these days I’ll use them to make a blanket). I absolutely love being able to organize everything, maybe a bit too much but at least it keeps it all neat and tidy.

This month was pretty active as far as knitting goes. I finally managed to catch up to the beginner’s blanket knit-a-long that I’ve been participating in, and I’m all ready for July. After having not knit anything in all of April and May, I’m glad that June saw some turn around. I completed the newborn vertebra, the bkal blanket square 04, square 05, and square 06. Combine that with the yarn destash, and I’ve used up 898.8 grams of yarn this month, bringing me to a net loss of 3405.49 grams for the year so far. My goal is to get to 6,000 grams used this year as a participant in the KnitPicks (and more) Stashdown group I belong to. We’ll see how that goes.

Beginner Knit A Long – Square 04

BKAL04One of the projects I started back in January was a blanket knit-a-long hosted on Ravelry with a beginners group that I really adore. Each month they post a square of a blanket, you can knit as many or as few of the squares as you’d like, and at the end of the year you attach them all together and see what new techniques you’ve mastered.

I had been slagging behind with this project, not by much but by enough that it was starting to weigh on me a bit. I completed the first three squares without too much issue, adding a garter stitch boarder to each square so I had a boarder to help flatten them and keep them neat and tidy for when I attach everything together. I’m working my blanket up in knitpicks brava bulky, colour is fairy tale. You can find the other three squares in my project page for 2016. This project is fantastic for beginners because it teaches you a lot of different techniques, doesn’t use a lot of yarn month-to-month, and can usually be completed in a day or two, depending on how much you procrastinate.

Now that I’ve caught up to April, I have May and June that I’d like to complete. I am pretty sure that I can get those done before July rolls around, or at least that’s my goal. I’m making one of every square but because I’m using bulky yarn I’m doing it on larger needles, and each square is a good size. I think 12 of them plus the join will be enough to make a nice sized warm blanket (eventually). I’m eager to see what it looks like all put together, and I have no idea (at this point) how I’m going to join them since we  haven’t discussed that yet in the group.

One of the important things I need to remind myself about is that the blanket won’t be perfect. I’m a beginner knitter, learning new techniques. Some of my squares look great, others (like the one posted above) are a bit lacking in perfection. That’s alright, it’s what makes the piece unique and all together mine. It also works as a great method of showing me my progression throughout the year, keeps me learning new terms, and understanding new patterns. I can’t be so hard on myself, some people have been knitting since they were just children, and it takes time to get good at any skill you’re trying to learn – especially if you’re self learning. As long as I keep challenging myself and keep trying to move forward I’ll get there eventually.

First Baby Garment

BabyI started knitting this around the end of April, but it took until June 16th to complete – not because it’s an especially difficult pattern, it’s quite simple, but I just couldn’t find my knitting mojo mixed in with all of the doctor appointments and stress that comes with that.

The pattern is easy to understand and uploaded wonderfully into KnitCompanion. You can go with a solid colour, two colours, or use self striping yarn which is what I did. My yarn choices were knitpicks felici in rainbow, and knitpicks stroll glimmer in black. Since I don’t know the sex of the baby I wanted something that would be fairly gender neutral, but I also don’t believe that there are boy / girl colours per say. I think this rainbow cardigan worked out wonderfully. The only downside is that it’s going to be way too small for my little bean because of those medical issues I spoke of in the previous post. I was hoping this would be a nice warm skin-to-skin shirt that bean could wear when I start breastfeeding, but it will take a bit of time before they can wear it. In the meantime I’ve started looking at some toques (hats) since my due date is around the end of October and that means colder weather, plus if little bean is born tiny, well, they’ll need some extra help keeping warm.

The picture above is before I washed / pinned it into place. It’s not perfect, I see areas that I could have done better with, but I’m still really pleased with the end result. I have to remind myself that I’ve only been knitting since September 2015 – and that most of 2016 has been spent not knitting at all.

I used my Hiyahiya bamboo interchangeable needles for most of this project and swapped over to my knitpicks rainbow double pointed needles for the sleeves (I love my DPN and still haven’t mastered doing the magic loop). The hiyahyia are my favourite set, even though I bought them second hand and they’re pretty worn. I can’t afford a new set any time soon so I hope these ones last. The cords are a joy to work with especially because the entire thing swivels. It’s probably the one thing I wish my other knitting needles all did. I highly recommend them if you’re looking for a new set.

I’m really glad that the pattern is finally out of my queue and I mustered the energy to complete it. I may even make a second one. They’re fantastic gifts, don’t use a lot of yarn, and look absolutely adorable. You can browse through the completed projects to get a better sense of just how cute these little cardigans are.

Still Here, Still Knitting

KidSetaI know, it’s been a while since I’ve updated the site, but I’ve got some pretty good reasons! I’m now 21 weeks pregnant, and with that I’ve had some health complications crop up along the way that have really taken a lot out of me. As such, I haven’t been knitting nearly as much as I had hoped. Stress, lots of doctor appointments, even a sudden flight to Vancouver were all in the works these past few months. I never realized just how stressful it can be when you’ve got a complicated pregnancy on your hands. Since I have no family around it has been a pretty trying time, but lately I’ve started to get some of that craft mojo back, and that’s why you should see me start to post again here and there. I’ve never been the fastest knitter, so the updates may not come as often as we’d all like – but they’ll be there.

My latest project is this shawl / scarf called Evelyne. It’s a very simple pattern so I don’t have to concentrate too hard while I work on it, perfect for laying around in front of the TV (or outside on the balcony, one of my favourite places to be these days). It’s also my first time working with kid seta – wow, is this yarn SLIPPERY. I don’t own wooden needles in size 10 / 11 so I’ve resorted to using my KnitPick Nickel Plated needles, and the yarn has slid off a time or two so far and I’m only done the first repeat of lace! I’m getting a hold on things though and so long as I keep my fingers holding the yarn down as I knit it’s not too bad. Hopefully I won’t drop too many stitches. This will probably end up being a Christmas gift when that time rolls around, the more I can get done now, the better (baby is due the end of October).

I’ve completed a few smaller projects in the meantime, and I’ll be posting about them later on in the week so be sure to check back!

March Projects

20160316_165043_resizedMarch was a very slow month as far as knitting projects go. As of the time of this post, I’m 8 weeks pregnant with my first, I’m a lot more tired than normal, and that has taken its toll on my knitting. I had big hopes of some WIP being completed but it looks like I’ll actually finish none of those. There’s always next month! That doesn’t mean I haven’t been knitting at all, it just means that I haven’t been knitting as much as I had hoped (like January, January was a fantastic month). So what have I been working on?

I completed the third panel of the afghan my beginner knitter’s group has been working on. This was a twist zig zag panel, and I really didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the previous panels. The square is quite a bit smaller than the previous months, so it will require some heavy blocking to stretch it into shape. I did learn two new techniques, the left twist and the right twist, so it wasn’t all bad.

ProgressI had begun March with my sights set on Sock Madness, but then I got really sick with the flu for two weeks RIGHT when the first sock was taking off. I was unable to read patterns and have them make any sense in my mind, so I got as far as the heel on the first sock before throwing in the towel. Maybe next year I’ll be able to participate and give it my all. It was a lot of stress, a lot of posts being made on the forums, and I just couldn’t handle it along with the flu. I don’t regret trying, and I do wish I could have completed the first sock, but I think I did what was right by giving my body time to heal.

Wardrobe freshenersI did also manage to complete this cute little wardrobe freshener bag that I’m using to hold my notions. It was a very easy pattern that I completed on DPN, with a little lace work diamond. I added a chained cord in black, and ta-da. This was knit up in a single day, and I really enjoy projects like this because they allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment without having to spend the entire month on just one project. It’s important that we have these smaller objectives.

StarWarsBlueMy final project this month (so far, there’s still a bit over a week left and who knows what I’ll manage to finish in that time) was another Star Wars hat, this time in blue. I really like how this turned out. The previous one in black was alright but it was my first time completing the pattern, and I think the colours and the stitches really show up well. I completed this for an Etsy order, and I hope the buyer enjoys her new hat. I like doing colourwork a fair amount, even if it can be tricky to keep your tension even while you’re stranding colours behind one another.

I still have three WIP on the go. There is my entrelac scarf which is coming along but does take a bit of time to get any length on, and there is my mystery shawl KAL that I’ve had on hold for some time. I’m at the lace portion now, and I just haven’t been able to focus on it.  Finally there is a simple garter and stockinette stitch blanket that I’ve had on the go for some months. This blanket was the first knit item I had started back in September, but I quickly moved on to more complex things, and the blanket was forgotten about. I’d like to get this completed just to use up the yarn. I’m knitting it with Bernat Blanket Ombres & Multis. It’s very thick, and makes for a very soft blanket. It would free up a lot of room if I could get it completed.

Of course with a new baby on the way there is bound to be a knit project or two in that direction. I haven’t really decided on anything yet, but I’m sure as things go further along I’ll wind up with a project or two. There’s also a really nice celtic fingering shawl I’d like to work on next month using some of my knitpick palette in Clover, but we’ll see what I end up with. Maybe April will be the month of finishing my WIP.

 

February Knitting Progress

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tom Thumb Spinning Wheel

February has been a pretty nice month as far as fiber crafts go. I have spun about 1/2 of my corriedale on a top whorl drop spindle, dyed the other half, and added more fiber to my slowly growing collection. I also managed to pick up an amazing deal on a Tom Thump spinning wheel. Very little is actually known about these wheels it turns out – but that’s the joy of spinning, wheels may look different, but they all have the same basic parts, that change depending on the type of spinning / wheel they are created for.

In the case of the Tom Thumb, it can be set up for scotch or double drive tension. It’s a single treadle, with a built in lazy kate. Mine came with three bobbins, the flyer and the flyer whorl, and is intact with the maidens, but it is missing a few smaller pieces that I can hopefully replicate. It’s missing the threading hook, and the knob for scotch tension. It’s also missing a pin out of the footman to keep the arm attached to the drive wheel, but that’s an easy fix with a split pin and some washers. The bottom of the wheel is signed “Tom Thumb – Handmade from New Zealand Kauri” and it’s an exceptionally sturdy wheel. I wish I could learn more about it, but as I said I’ve only found one single article that mentions the wheel here. A nice lady was selling it on Kijiji in my area, and I’m glad I picked it up. Once I get it fixed and in working order (basically attaching the footman properly) I’ll be learning to spin the rest of my corriedale, and I’m pretty excited about that.

This month has been a bit slow in terms of finished projects. I did complete my knit-a-long afghan square, it was double seed stitch and a pleasure to knit. I also finally completed the rainbow socks that I had begun in January. I really need to learn to knit two-at-a-time so that I don’t procrastinate quite so much. I’ve been working away on my entrelac scarf, which I may turn into a cowl, I finished my antler hat, and I’ve also been working on the lace shawl mystery kal that I’ve had on-going for some time. I hope to finish that up before too long, I’m just getting to the lace portions. I know I haven’t been as ‘active’ with my knitting as I was in January, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve been learning a lot, spinning a lot (which I really enjoy), learning to dye yarn and all of the rest. I call that some great progress!

Challenge Yourself

Entrelac2I tried for years (unsuccessfully) to teach myself to knit. I could do the basic stitch, but I couldn’t purl and I had no idea how increases or decreases worked. I kept at it off and on over the years, never progressing past flat scarf / blanket like objects, until September 2015 when it just all suddenly clicked. In that short amount of time I moved from knitting flat blankets to doing socks, lace, hats, and other items. One thing I try to do as I progress through my knitting is teach myself new techniques, and to challenge myself.

Learning these techniques is always much easier if you have someone else trying to learn it with you, someone you can ping ideas off of. When a friend suggested we start up a KAL together, I was ecstatic. I found some great videos on YouTube about this particular entrelac scarf, and before the day was out, we had learned this new technique. It’s not the most professional looking piece, but I really love the way the colours shift.

We then discovered a downside. Knitting entrelac, especially on a scarf, is very boring. The pattern is not complicated enough to be interesting but not easy enough to be mindless (so that you can do other things, like watching TV). I’ve got the squares down but still need to pay attention and look at the instructions for the left and right triangles. Plus I’m doing mine in fingering weight yarn, with two extra repeats. Lovely? Sure, but I am having a difficult time keeping myself interested in the piece, and that doesn’t bode well.

Still, we learned something new, and that’s awesome. Not every new stitch or project has to be something you love to the moon and back. On occasion you’re going to try a technique only to find that it just isn’t the one for you.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.