Rules for Feeding the Stash

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Retrospective

Well, here we are at the end of the year. I got myself into a bit of a funk earlier this year, because I realized that in 2013 I'd knit much less than I had in previous years. But I rallied and made up for it in 2014, and had a lot of fun along the way. I learned a lot, and I'm proud of the things I managed to accomplish.

First up, and probably most significantly, 2014 was the year I started designing. I released six patterns, and I learn more and more about pattern writing with each one I produce. Designing also motivates me to further my technical skills and become a stronger knitter:
Bottom: Peony, Lisbet, Cecily

I put out five pairs of socks this year, and three of them were for other people! I still have a lot of sock patterns in my queue, and I like having a plain pair on the needles to work on in the cinema, so I know socks will always be something I have plenty of:

I also managed to finish several garments this year. I've learned a lot about garment construction since my first sweater a couple years ago, and I look forward to making more and more in the future. Aside from the Epidemic vest, I finished four sweaters and a skirt:
Top: Make it Grey (80% knit in 2013), Yellow Pocket Skirt, Division
Bottom: Ella, Marion KAL

Of course, I can't forget my lacy stuff! I love knitting lace, and I'm glad I made a good show of it this year:

Of my 41 finished projects, 12 of them were for other people. I am a self-proclaimed selfish knitter, but I'm also getting to the point where I find a lot of patterns that I want to knit, but not necessarily wear myself. I'm hoping that next year the ratio of selfish:selfless knitting will even out more.

Overall, I'm very proud of my knitting this year. Here's to another year of fibery goodness in 2015!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Knitting Recap

Aside from the last-minute baby sweater, I only knit two presents this year. First up, we have a Song of the Sea scarf for my mum out of Knit Picks Gloss (thanks to Anemone for modeling!):
I absolutely love how this came out. It was really easy to follow, and it kept a nice rhythm all the way through the project. I loved this yarn, too. It's ridiculously difficult to photograph (picture on the left has the truest to life color), but it was very nice to work with, and the silk adds just enough shine. I did end up adding an extra repeat of the medium size waves, and I switched the ribbed edges for 4 rounds of seed stitch on either side to help prevent rolling. Other than that, I followed the pattern exactly.
Anemone's present was the Red Robin Shawl, in Knit Picks Stroll in Midnight Heather. This yarn is tricky too-it looked deep navy on my computer screen, then almost black in person, and it blocked out to a nice dark, heathered blue in the FO. This knit up very quickly as well, and I added extra repeats to both the textured stitch section and the garter stitch border. I absolutely love how it came out:
I'm really pleased with both of these, and I liked not having to rush knitting presents in the last days before Christmas. However I did end up feeling a little disjointed this Christmas-it never felt quite right, like it was actually Christmas. I wonder how much of that was getting the knitting out of the way so far in advance.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Week After Xmas

I hope every one of you that celebrates Christmas had a very wonderful one! I would apologize for the weeklong silence, but I've been very busy watching movies, eating cookies, and knitting stuff that has absolutely no deadline. In no particular order, I finished my Tubularity (but for buttons and the buttonhole) and knit two hats, finished an adorable baby sweater, started my Purls and Seaweed scarf, and started a plain old boring sock.
One baby sweater, finished and ready to wrap. I already sent apologies to the parents for my tardiness, and the recipient is too young to know any better, so all he'll realize is that he gets to rip paper for another day. I'm hoping the sweater is much too big for him-there's a good four months of winter left, and I want this sweater to last all through it. He's four months old, and I knit the 6-12 month size, so fingers crossed we should be okay (I didn't exactly check my gauge, and I don't have an infant handily available to check sizing on, so I might have my toes crossed too). I love this pattern-it knits up so quick and is such a dream to work on. The only reason it took this long to be ready is because it took three days to dry from blocking.

I also have a new pattern for you all! Meet Cecily:
Cecily is a cabled slouchy hat, made with a slipped stitch body for a dense fabric that won't let any cold in. The no-decrease finishing is one of my favorites, and it leaves a nice loop that you can use to hang the hat from a hook without stretching it out. I'm really please with how this hat came out, and I hope you all enjoy it too.
$5 on Ravelry and Craftsy

Monday, December 22, 2014

And Into the Light

Yesterday was the solstice, and last night the longest night. We haven't seen the sun in a long time-I haven't really even kept track. Our slice of the world has been the damp, still grey of long winters.
I love this time of the year. I love the grey, and the strange light, and the reminder that even the earth needs to sleep. I love the dark, and the cold, and knowing that the only animals I'll see are the ones brave enough to venture from their cozy burrows.
The solstice is one of my favorite days. For me, it's the day that Christmas really starts: we enter the darkness, return to the light, and there's just enough time to finish baking and wrapping and gathering our loved ones together before Christmas day. I love the longest night-the passage of time, the journey of the sun, and the eventual return of green to the world. Everything is still for this one night.
But the sun must come back, and it's good to know that it will come back. With any luck, the sky will break today and we'll get a glimpse of it. Now the days will start getting a little longer, and in a few days Christmas will be here, and we'll be ready. There's blocking and baking and wrapping to do, and only three more days to get it done.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Non-Knitting Xmas

It feels like the past few weeks have been a total whirlwind, and it's only going to get worse until after Xmas, I know. The knitting is still done (!) but I really need a plan for when I'm going to get them blocked and photographed.

But that's not a worry for this week. This week, I'm putting together non-knitting Xmas presents for my old college friends. I tend to get pretty stressed over mass presents like this-I want things that seem more thoughtful than mass-produced, and sustainability and environmentalism are important to me, so I really don't want to give someone a tchotchke that will just need to get thrown out eventually, and I don't want to buy something new when there's plenty of good stuff already out there.

Enter my Great Plan. Everyone likes mason jars, right? And the only thing better than a mason jar is....
A mason jar full of homemade hot cocoa mix!! And the only thing better than that?
Seriously. I went to the thrift store in town, which was (serendipitously) having a 1/2 off sale, and got all seven mugs, plus 2 yards of that red checkered fabric. And after packaging everything up, I still have plenty of fabric left over for at least another two years of mason jar gifts. Then I loaded up on ingredients for cocoa mix and started going to town.

Boom. Everyone gets something to open, a delicious snack, and handy storage jar, and a nice addition to their tacky Xmas mug collection. And I even had some mix over for us to keep here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Small Things

Like most people, I think, I like to use my weekends to catch up on things. But every once in a while you just need a day off. This past weekend I decided to take things slow, and take pleasure in small accomplishments. I made the most perfect sandwich ever:
Sharp white cheddar, hickory smoked turkey, and half a pear, all grilled on gluten-free bread. I also started a sweater for Baby Caspian:
He's the one who got the crown and waves blanket I knit over the summer. I know I said I was done with xmas knitting, but he deserves a little snuggly, and it's so tiny that it will be done in half a sneeze anyway.

Friday, December 12, 2014

FO: Gothic Lace

Oh man, this has been done for almost two months, and I'm only just getting around to taking pictures! This cowl is very different from most that I knit-it's not quite long enough to get two full wraps around my neck. I don't really mind though, because so far I'm having fun trying out new ways to try wearing it.
I did make this one repeat wider, because I didn't think I had enough yarn to do a full double-length cowl anyway. I probably would have if I'd kept to the pattern, but I'm liking how the extra width is draping.
Ravelry Page: Gothic Lace
Pattern: Gothic Lace Cowl, by tincanknits
Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns Mochi Plus, "556"

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Little Bit of Knitting, a Little Bit of Reading

This week is going so fast, I feel like I barely have time to tell you all about anything before it's all done. For example, I planned to show you a lot more of this before it was already more than half done:
Tubularity, by Martina Behm. I absolutely adore this. It's so easy I barely have to pay any attention to it, but the shaping to keep it asymmetrical is just interesting enough to know I'm making progress. And this yarn works so well for this pattern-even better than I expected. I love it when a pattern and a yarn come together so well, like they're meant for each other. I've had a bit of a rough go with this yarn, but I'm so glad to have finally found its destiny. I can't even feel bad for frogging the Mottled Daydream because the yarn looks so much better this way.

I also (finally) finished A Storm of Swords, which I've been working through since May (I can't believe it's been that long), and I've decided to take a break from the series. I love them, I really do. I adore the characters, I adore Westeros, and I love George R. R. Martin's writing, but I got to a point where I was reading these out of duty, and they were feeling more like a chore. I really don't want reading to feel like that, and I needed to fall back in love with reading, stat. I tried telling myself once I got all caught up in the series I could read whatever I wanted, but that wasn't doing anything for me. Entire weeks were going by without me reading anything because I let myself get so bogged down by the book.
So I decided that once I finished A Storm of Swords (I was only 150 pages from the end), I was going to take a break. I finished it after binge reading it on Saturday morning, and I was all ready to start A Feast for Crows, but I stopped myself. The point of taking a break, I reminded myself, was so that I wouldn't get bogged down by it again. So I branched out. I have a collection of Lord Dunsany that I've been meaning to get started on. I have Black Helicopters, that I got as a bonus chapbook with The Ape's Wife and Other Stories in December of 2013, both of which I hadn't started yet. The same goes for The Bread We Eat in Dreams. Then Saturday afternoon at the thrift store I picked up The Lottery and Other Stories, which I finished by Monday evening, and In the Woods, which I've been eying for ages but haven't picked up because of the ASOIAF Books.

Like I said, I love ASOIAF. I really do. But at the point when reading starts feeling like a chore, I knew I needed a break. And given that I finished The Lottery in just two days tells me I was right to take one. I'm not going to guess how long of a break it's going to be-probably at least until after Xmas, but who knows how I'll be feeling in a couple of weeks. But as you can tell from my current reading list, I have a thing for short fiction, and those books are anything but. So no wonder I needed a bit of a break, I've been trying to run back to back to back literary marathons for the past year and a half. According to my Goodreads account, I've been sneaking in other books while reading ASOIF already, so I might as well take the hint and make it official.

Monday, December 8, 2014

FO: Fingercuffs

I've kind of always had a thing for fingerless mitts. I can trace it back to a pretty solid punk phase I went through when I was younger, and I've always had at least one pair of cut-up gloves ever since. So when I started knitting, I got really excited to be able to knit my own. As I've grown since then, I've continued to appreciate the aesthetic of fingerless gloves, but I've also developed a real appreciation for their functionality as well.

When I started planning these, I had a couple of things in mind that would, to me, constitute the perfect pair of fingerless gloves. I like them to not go to far up my arm, so they don't interfere with the sleeves of my cardigans. I prefer them to be fingering weight-I overheat easily, so I don't like something too thick over my warm palms. I also like them to reach up to my second knuckle, whenever possible. I have a touch of arthritis in my fingers, and keeping the second knuckles warm helps a lot. Since my office HVAC is so wonky, I wanted to be sure my fingers would stay nice and toasty while still being free to work, but I also didn't want the rest of my hands to get too warm. I also plan to wear these often, and while I don't usually care too much about how my accessories match the rest of my outfit, I wanted these to be neutral enough to always looks like I'm put together.

Overall, I'm really pleased with how these came out, and I think they're my favorite pair of mitts that I've ever made.

Friday, December 5, 2014

FO: Dårlig Ulv Stranden

These were such a fun knit, and I'm so pleased with the result. I modified these up the wazoo, so here we go:

1. 9 rounds of ribbing at the cuff instead of 8 because I lost track
2. Added 9 rounds of ribbing at the top of the hand because I think it makes it look more finished and balances out the ribbing at the cuff.
3. Thumb ended with four rounds of ribbing, again, to match the hand and cuff.
4. Mirrored the small twists framing the larger diamond motif because I have this thing about symmetry.
5. Flipped the diamond motif on the second glove so the pair would be mirrored, again, because of symmetry.

Again, I am so pleased with how these came out. I'm super impressed with how well the cables pop in this yarn, and the gloves fit, well, like a glove. They've been my go-to pair in my purse for whenever I need a little something extra on my hands.

Ravelry Page: Dårlig Ulv Stranden
Yarn: Reynolds Soft Sea Wool, "orange"

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Not Quite an FO Post

At precisely 9:57 last night, I finished my Xmas knitting. I still have a couple of ends to weave in, and a couple of tiny little seams, but the knitting is done. I'm leaving everything alone for a couple weeks, and then I'll finish the finishing and block them closer to Xmas, so they're still fresh and crisp for their recipients.
That's the last photo you'll get of either of those things for now. I'll take real FO pictures before I wrap them, but nothing will be posted here until the recipients have gotten them. 

This is the first time I've ever been done this early. To be fair, I cut way back this year, but it still feels surreal. It hasn't quite sunken in yet. I still have a few things to buy, but the majority of that should be done this weekend, and I need to mix up some stuff in the kitchen, so I'm not quite ready for Xmas yet. But the knitting is done. That is so huge.

So, true to form, I turned to cashmere.
Yup, definitely worth finishing Xmas knitting early.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Giving Thanks

Well. I didn't expect to have so many days without a post, but it was a busy Thanksgiving week. Wednesday afternoon we picked up Anemone from college and went to a tree farm. We haven't had a real tree in a long time, so it was really exciting to go pick one out and cut it ourselves.
(The tree farm had goats. Best tree farm ever.)
It was good to have a bit of a break. We all took the whole weekend pretty slow, just chilling out and eating food. I also had a lot of time to think about the things I'm most thankful for-for the obvious things like my family and friends and financial stability, but also for everything I've gotten from this blog over the past year.

I've known for years that the online knitting community was vast and welcoming, but it's completely different experiencing it from the inside than as an outside observer. You all have welcomed me, encouraged me, taught me, and made me a better knitter-and in some ways, a better person. This community is full of people with different skills, experiences, desires, and beliefs, which seems incredibly obvious, but it all comes to life much more when you're inside, taking part.

So I just wanted to thank all of you for being so amazing. I hope you all had a good weekend, and got to see or speak with people you love.