Friday, December 29, 2017

Crafting Goals for 2018

Here are my crafting goals for 2018:

  • Publish one pattern - I have a number of them 90% finished and I can't seem to get myself to finalize anything. 
  • Crochet more - my skills are atrophying.  Every time I pick up my ongoing scrap blanket project, I have a harder time getting back into the groove of crochet.
  • Complete at least one charity knitting/crochet project - I've done quite a bit of selfish knitting over the last few years.  Time to give back.
  • Reduce the number of projects on the needles to 5 and keep it there - my average number on the needles has hovered around 8-10, and that's too many.  Nothing gets finished because there are so many distractions.
  • Post to this blog with my progress once a month - I realize that I've had this blog forever and I really haven't given it the attention it deserves.  I like to talk about knitting and crochet, why not do it here?
What are your goals for 2018?

Cool Sheeping in 2018

Folks, my stash (of yarn) is starting to take on a life of its own. A year ago my stash fit in one seven-foot bookcase. Right now it takes up the seven-foot bookcase, half of a six-foot bookcase, a good-sized box, and two of those giant Ziploc bags.  

[pics of stash room coming]

I have sweater quantities in 14 different yarns.  I have blanket quantities of acrylic. I have enough Into the Whirled hand painted yarn to last a lifetime (it takes up its own shelf in the bookcase).  I don't think I've hit SABLE overall, but I've definitely got enough to last several years.

I'm looking to stop or at least slow the growth of my stash. What I really need to do is "cold sheep".  This is term that means to completely stop buying yarn, usually for a predetermined period of time. I don't think I have it in me to adhere to such a strict standard, but I think I can stay within the spirit of the concept with a few exceptions.  I'm going to call it "cool sheeping" because it's not quite "cold."  

So, I hereby pledge to "cool sheep" for 2018.  I will knit and crochet only from stash with the following exceptions:

  1. I can buy yarn that is more than 50% man-made fibers (acrylic, nylon) but only for a specific purpose and only after trying to find something that will work in stash.
  2. I can buy yarn with gift certificates given to me by other people.
  3. If there's a Stephen West or other KAL that I really, REALLY want to join, and after trying really, REALLY hard I can't find anything to work in my stash, I can buy ONE kit.
  4. I can buy up to a total of 6 skeins at fiber festivals (MDSW and Rhinebeck).  That's 6 skeins total, not 6 skeins per festival.

Guidelines I will follow:
  1. I will try to find patterns to fit the stash, rather than stash to fit patterns.
  2. I will get the number of projects on my needles down to 5 and then keep it there - the longer I'm busy with already-started projects, the less I'll be looking to buy yarn for additional projects.
To make things even more interesting, how about a points system?
  • +10 points for each 100g used.
  • +1 bonus point for each year the yarn has been in stash (e.g., yarn that has been in stash for three-and-a-half years would earn +3 bonus points).
  • -10 points for each 100g purchased (even if purchased within the above exceptions).
  • -5 extra points for each 100g purchased if the yarn was outside of the above exceptions.
My goal is to be at or above zero at the end of the year.

I'll try to remember to check in periodically and update my progress.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Remember how I said I was designing Christopher Moore-related patterns?

Remember a couple of years ago when I said I was designing Christopher Moore-related patterns?

And silence.

Well, I had almost finished two designs - one based on You Suck and another based on Fluke - but they both appeared to have fatal flaws that I just couldn't think my way past.  A great idea for a pattern based on the demon Catch (who appears in Practical Demonkeeping and again in Lamb) was sort of stalled while I tried to figure out how to make the yarn into the shape in my head.

Well, this month I have had mini-epiphanies about how to solve the Fluke and Catch problems!  I am hoping to get these ready for test knitters within the next month or two, since real work has slowed down (but the babysitter's hours remain the same - hooray!).

Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, but rather that than doom and gloom!

Like one that on that lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on,
And no more turns his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

--Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Picking Up Beautiful Gusset Stitches

I just made an amazing discovery! I don't know if anyone has thought of this before, or had a similar problem, but when simply picking up gusset stitches on a sock as you would "normally" pick up stitches, I end up with big, open, loose-looking stitches.

For a long time, I solved this problem by picking up the stitch as usual, but then knitting it through the back loop, to make it twist and tighten up that line. It looked great on the side of the sock BEFORE the instep, but not so great on the side AFTER the instep (we'll call this "Side B"). I finally figured out that this is because, on the side after the instep, the stitch is "pinched at the bottom" on the right instead of on the left. 

The solution? Twist the Side B stitches, but in the opposite direction. This means using the left-hand needle to pick up the slipped stitch from the back, and then using the right-hand needle to knit that stitch through the front loop.  Viola! Gorgeous results.

I hope to get some clear photos and a video up soon to illustrate. But for now, I'm just enjoying how beautiful my socks look!

UPDATE April 7, 2015:

Well, here is an example of how knitters continue to learn and grow throughout their crafty life!  I was twisting my picked-up loops as described above largely because my slipped stitches at the ends of the rows of the heel flap were so loose.  As I got better at heel flaps, they were less loose, and twisting the loops became more difficult (and in some cases nearly impossible).

But, even with the tighter slipped stitches, I still didn't like the look of my picked up stitches.  So I tried a little experiment - instead of slipping the first stitch of each row purlwise, I slipped it knitwise.  This twists the slipped stitch and keeps it from stealing yarn from neighboring stitches during the pick-up process.  I have been very satisfied with the result, and it is SO much easier than twisting the loops.

Of course, like anything in knitting, you should find a method that works for YOU, that gives YOU a finished object that YOU enjoy.  I hope I've been helpful in your knitting journey!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Crafty 2012-2013 Season

Ahhh, finally reemerging from my self-imposed hibernation while I finished my sock pattern.  It has been sent off and submitted, and now the waiting begins!  Time to plan what's next, to avoid the inevitable letdown after finishing a big project.

I kind of consider September 1 to be the start of the "crafting year."  Like Chinese New Year, but for knitting.  And I was thinking, "what do I want to accomplish this season?"

Three notes:
First, I don't imagine I will actually accomplish all of these things.  This is a very ambitious list.

Second, I realize that the list is mostly selfish, and I'm OK with that.  I knit and crochet as my hobby because it makes me happy, and I knit or crochet what makes me happy.  Also, the things on my list for other people are large projects that take a long time.

Third, this list is not in any particular order.

Ok, here we go:

1. Publish the double knit hat pattern I've been working on. (Charts are already done.  I still need to finish up my sample, write up the pattern, and get test knitters.)
Arge Moth

2.  Turn my custom-dyed Skinny Bugga from the Sanguine Gryphon open house into an amazing sweater.

I have three skeins each of a gorgeous purple, Earth-Boring Dung Beetle, and a knock-you-dead teal, Arge Moth.  I'm thinking stripes rather than colorwork, since I don't have enough of either color to make a whole sweater.

Earth-Boring Dung Beetle

3. Knit 12 pairs of socks from stash yarn only.  Stash does include the yarn-of-the-month club shipments I'm currently receiving from Into the Whirled.  Of the 12 pairs:

  • 1 will be the pair I'm finishing up for my FIL (about 55% done currently).
  • 1 should be a new design by me, which I will self-publish on Ravelry.
  • 1 should be a gift pair for a determined recipient whom I will not name so as not to spoil the surprise.
  • 3 should be KALs from Sock Knitters Anonymous, completed according to their requirements.  These KALs should all push me out of my comfort zone in some way.
  • And the rest will be free choice.
4. Finish my Clapotis scarf, knit in Lorna's Laces Honor (alpaca/silk, yum!) in the Zombie BBQ colorway.

5. Finish my Westlake shawl, knit in Into The Whirled Manchester Sock in Vegetable Medley.  Absolutely obnoxious color that I can't wait to wear proudly with my boring gray coat this winter. Finished 9/6/2012!

6. Knit myself a pair of convertible mittens.  I got by with fingerless gloves during last year's warm winter, but I don't think I can do it again.

7.  Finish my nephew X's green blanket.  This is going to take 10 million years, because it's 19 balls of yarn crocheted in a freaking slip stitch pattern, but my goal is to finish it by his birthday in April.

8. Crochet or knit a blanket for my soon-to-be niece, A.  This should really be the only thing on the list I need to buy yarn for.

9. At least come up with a plan for what to do for my husband's sweater.  I already knit a complete one for him, had a problem I thought was unsolvable, and frogged the whole thing.  I later found out I could have easily fixed it, but too late now.

OK, that's what is on my list!  What's on yours?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Puffy Recipe (Updated 7/24/12)

Updated 7/24/12 to include clearer directions for the decreases.

Here's my personal hexipuff recipe.  I consider this to be "the perfect puff."

What's a hexipuff?  It's a motif used in making The Beekeeper's Quilt.  There are a series of posts on my blog about adjusting the pattern to make hexipuffs of the same size from all different types of yarn.  These are modifications - you'll still need to buy a copy of the official pattern to make the quilt.

I use 3.25mm needles (instead of the 3.50mm specified in the pattern) because I like the look better.  This makes a 3" puff with a sock yarn of average fingering weight.

This recipe has been tested and works for:
Skinny Bugga! (formerly from the Sanguine Gryphon and now Cephalopod Yarns)
Gnomespun Yarn Phouka
Knit Picks Palette
The Sanguine Gryphon Little Traveller
Zwerger Garn Opal Regenwald
Update 7/24/12: Into the Whirled Ulundi Sock

M1T: make one towards. Make a right-leaning half hitch, with the yarn tail coming out of the front (just as you would cast on a stitch during a backward loop cast-on).
  This is also known as m1R (make one right) by some knitters.
M1A: make one away. Make a left-leaning half hitch, with the yarn tail coming out of the back.  This is also known as m1L (make one left) by some knitters.
ssk: slip the next stitch knitwise, slip the following stitch knitwise, knit these two stitches together through their back loops.
k2tog: knit the next two stitches together as one.

Here's how you do it...

Using the long tail cast on, cast on 22 stitches, alternating between front and back needles. 

Start your first round by knitting into the last stitch cast on. Knit the rest of the round.

Increase Round A: Knit 1, M1T, knit to 1 stitch before end of first needle, M1A, knit 1. Repeat on second needle.

Increase Round B: Knit 1, knit 1 through the back loop, knit to end of first needle. Repeat on second needle. 

Repeat Increase Rounds A & B again (30 stitches total).

Knit one round.

Repeat Increase Rounds A & B three more times (42 stitches total).

Decrease as described in the pattern, but add an extra plain knit row after you have decreased 3 times (when you have 30 stitches total), to mirror the bottom of the puff.  Continue to decrease as described in the pattern, but omit the final knit row.  See more specific instructions below.

Decrease Round A: ssk, knit to 2 stitches before end of first needle, k2tog.  Repeat on second needle.

Decrease Round B: knit all stitches.

Repeat Decrease Rounds A & B  twice more (30 stitches total)

Knit one round.

Repeat Decrease Rounds A & B once more. (26 stitches total)

Repeat Decrease Round A only once more.

Stuff your puff.

Bind off in purl using a crochet three-needle bind off as follows: purl first stitch from the front & back needles together using a crochet hook. Repeat for second stitch. Pull loop from second stitch through loop from first stitch using crochet hook.  One stitch from each needle bound off.

Repeat until 2 stitches remain on each needle. Purl these 4 stitches together as one, and pull that loop through the loop from the previous stitch to complete the bind off.  Break yarn, pull tail through remaining loop.  Use the crochet hook to tuck the tail inside the puff.

Ta-da!  Puff perfection!

Hexipuffs: Bugga!

Being a sport weight yarn, Bugga! requires a slight modification to the regular hexipuff formula.  For a 3" diameter puff, I recommend using My Puffy Recipe, with the following modifications:

  • Cast on 20 stitches.
  • Repeat Increase Rounds A & B five times, then add an extra knit row. (Instead of adding a knit row between the second and third increases.)
  • Repeat Decrease Rounds A & B four times, then Decrease Round A once more.  (Do not add any extra plain knit rows during the decreases.)

(Bugga! was formerly sold by Sanguine Gryphon and is currently offered by both Verdant Gryphon and Cephalopod Yarns.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Time Traveler Socks - NOW IN FOUR SIZES!

My Time Traveler Socks are now available in four sizes!  Women's medium (8" foot circumference), men's medium/women's large (9" foot circumference), men's large (10" foot circumference), and men's XXL (11" foot circumference).  Of course, the foot length is still 100% adjustable.  The new PDF even includes a chart for the ribbing!

Download the PDF from Ravelry HERE!

Knitting these socks? Create a project on Ravelry!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hitchhiking on the Bandwagon

Last year, I was able to purchase an amazing skein of Bugga! from the Sanguine Gryphon booth at Maryland Sheep & Wool.  The colorway was called Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, and it's a beautiful blue-green-grey variegated.

Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz (the yarn version)

Top View
My immediate thought was that it needed to be involved in some kind of Douglas Adams-related pattern, of course.  Careful searching revealed that 6,000 people enjoyed a beautiful shawlette pattern called Hitchhiker, which (when knitted with the correct amount of yarn) has 42 points along the edge.  It was fate! Kismet! The perfect match of squishy soft yarn, squishy soft garter stitch, Douglas Adams -themed yarn and Douglas Adams - themed pattern.

I started the shawlette, but tried to get all fancy by adding a stripe of stockinette every now and then, to show off the amazing colors of the yarn.
This resulted in so much frustration I eventually frogged the whole thing.

But I kept obsessing.  The pattern just kept calling to me - calling for THIS YARN.  So today I started again, without getting fancy, but of course with some modifications.  This is me we're talking about, here.

Since the pattern calls for 150g of Wollmeise (575 yards) to get 42 teeth, and Bugga! has only 412, I knew I'd have to get creative to get the magic number.

So, I've gone up a couple of needle sizes (to a US 4, 3.50mm) to create a less dense fabric.  And, more importantly, I've shortened the pattern repeat by two rows.  Given my larger needle size, this is actually resulting in teeth that are about the same length as their height.

This pattern starts so quickly at first!  It's the first day, and already I've knit 20 teeth.  I think that counts as 50% done, don't you?  Yep, definitely.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


OK, maybe it’s not the craziest birthday present ever. That would maybe be, like, an elephant riding a unicycle wearing lederhosen and trumpeting “You Are My Sunshine” while holding out a bouquet of flowers or something.
But still, pretty crazy.
Yesterday, this arrived on my doorstep. That’s right, ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY 50g balls of Palette, each a different color. My mom, who is also a knitter, is trying to inspire my fledgling designer self with every color under the sun. I think it might be working.
What do I do with it?!?!?!?!?!!!11!!? Puff all the hexipuffs? Knit toys? Massive clown barf sweater? Yarn bomb my building’s lobby?
Here are some pictures of the awesomeness: