approx. 365 days later

Hello hello! I bet you were wondering if I would actually get around to putting up a post for the last day of this year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. And I do, I do, I’m just a bit late. Ok, more than a bit, but I’ll delay putting up a new post so you’ll have a whole extra day with this post at the top of the blog. Today’s topic is all about the future, particular the knitting future.

Day Seven (Sunday April 28th): Looking Forward
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.

inspiring quoteSo, let’s imagine it’s April 2014 (sheesh!) and I’m looking back at what’s been going on. Well, one of my big goals for the year is reduce my stash of yarn. It is pretty darn huge, so I really need to start whittling it down. I’m planning to destash later this year, and I have a few projects planned that’ll use a lot of yardage. But really, I need to look at my current yarn first when contemplating a project. Normally I see a project on the pattern page on Ravelry or in my queue and then I think about colors and yarn, and then I look what I have in my stash. Which is still distributed among a few places since I’m still not finished moving (sigh).

I think my process needs to change around – I need to choose a yarn and then find the right pattern to show it off. The thing is though, since so much of my knitting ends up as a gift I’m often limited by the giftee’s request – shape, color, technical elements like cables, lace and other things people stick in their requests. Or in the future I’ll just do the pattern picking and give people only a few options. Especially since no one is as interested in looking at different pattern options as I am. Hmmm. Something to thing about.

According to my infographic, another one of my goals for this year is steeking. I’m actually almost done with the hurricane vest I was working on and which has been hibernating now for a while. I’m really nervous about the securing the steek step. I think I can get in some sewing machine time via a friend (phew!) so I don’t have to secure the steek by hand, crochet hook, or not at all (scary!).

And now that I’ve become more comfortable with knitting various types of projects – lace, socks, toys, garments – I really would like to get more comfortable modifying patterns to the point that I use other design-elements, and maybe even adding my own design motifs. I love seeing how people got started on designing and I’d love to dip my toes into those waters. That’s a big goal though, no idea how likely I’ll be at implementing that. But I guess the motto is to dream big.

caterpillar

What oh what will you be? Let’s meet in the future and see. (Hopefully not a moth!!!!)

And since I’m dreaming big, I’d like to see if I can manage to stay on track with my knitting yardage this year. I’ve knit over 10,000 yards in each of the last two years, so it would be great to manage to keep that up this year. Let’s see if that’ll actually work out. I’ll be taking a look at all of these goals next year, and I’ll be curious to see what I’ll actually have managed to achieve. Most of the time I’m not really good at setting reasonable expectations for myself – perfectionist here – so hmm, I’m not sure if I’ve actually set reasonable goals.

Finally I wanted to share with you the progress I’ve made on my mascot socks, which meant getting in a little photo-op time. This was a post I couldn’t prep ahead of time. So far I’ve managed the leg and heel of the sock and I’m currently working on the foot part of the sock. I’m really happy with the result so far – and you can really see the hexagonal shape of the pattern. Mascot pattern success!

Snicket sock pattern

yay for hexagons! and berries and cream! (apologies for the crappy picture)

And on that note, I conclude. Thank you all for sticking with me throughout this year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! I really appreciate all your comments and visits and feedback. I feel like I’ve stretched my blogging muscles and taken a new look at my knitting and knitting skills,  and that’s the point after all. I’ll hope you’ll still come back and visit – after all, my mascot project isn’t finished, all those wips need to be cast on for and MadTosh Mad May 2013 is around the corner. Plus a whole bunch of food and photography posts, and some major blog changes. Stay tuned for more!

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Bees, beehives and honey

honey with honey dipper

local blackberry honey – and I love that honey dipper

Day Two (Tuesday April 23rd): A Mascot Project. 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.

So, a mascot challenge. Since I’d picked House of Bee, I decided to start out with some free association instead of searching Ravelry for bee patterns. The first things I thought of were honey, sweet and beehive. No, I don’t mean the hairstyle a la Amy Winehouse. I mean the real beehive thing, home of the bees and so on. Still, no big mental leaps here. Then I started thinking of the friend who keeps his own bees – hi Thomas! – and the delicious honey we receive from him ever so often. And how I like finding local honeys (haha) and try to support apiarists (if you can’t easily find anyone near you, try local grocery coops). And I don’t mind crystalized honey – actually I like it better than squeezy tubes. Anyway, back to the bees. Another really cool thing about bees – apart from the fact that they make honey, mmm – is that they structure of the beehive is pretty ingenious. The hexagonal shape of the beehive cells is really efficient – they’re stable, and maximize honey storage with minimal wax required. In that sense bees are excellent mathematicians. There are a lot of cool facts out there about bees and bee colonies and yadayada. And now I will stop boring you with bee and honey geekage.

I started poking around Ravelry for bee related patterns. As you can see, I considered quite a few patterns. But in the end, it came down to two: Anne Hanson’s Pompa and these really cool socks named Snicket Socks. They were inspired by the movie Lemony Snicket, but I think they look like hexagons. And now you know why I picked those socks.

So, the next question was color. Yellow and gold are the obvious choices. As are yellow and gold stripes. And believe me, if I had some yellow yarn handy, or black and yellow striped, I may have knit one of those other projects above. I’m planning to use Wollmeise in Salamander to make those Bumblebee socks in that collage, the same yarn the designer used. They look like they’d be so much fun. But – no yellow yarn here. That’s what happens when you move and the rest of your stuff hasn’t yet caught up with you…

Yarn colorway Berries & Cream

But I do have this gorgeous skein of A Verb for Keeping Warm yarn here, colorway Berries and Cream. It’s cream with occasional pink, in various degrees of saturation. Really really pretty. It makes me think of summer desserts – I mean, fresh, sun-warmed berries and a bit of cream, so delicious.

How many of us can remember sitting outside in the spring and summer sun, enjoying the rays and devouring an ice cream cone, or some fruit, or cooling off with a nice cold, possibly sweet drink. And then the zzzzzzs start, and you start having to defend – i.e. hide – your food & drinks from curious bee scouts. Worse if it’s a whole gaggle of bees seeking you out. (Of course, it could also be ants)… There are all these Disney cartoons out there about ant and bee invasions of various picnic parties… I remember Pluto being harassed by this rather, well, prickly bee in Bubble Bee. Ah, the memories..

berries & goat cheese with honeyIt’s funny, I just recently did a food photography project involving berries, cream and honey. And mint. Mint was the unifying element. But more on that after Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. However, I did want to share a photograph of my inspiration and so I changed it up a bit, with strawberries instead of raspberries, goat cheese instead of yoghurt/cream, and of course that cute little honey dipper. Btw, it’s very difficult to do an action shot all on your own, especially if you don’t have a remote for your camera. I will be rectifying that asap. And the timer focus didn’t work well enough for my taste – somehow the shallow depth of focus wasn’t quite right…

Why am I not surprised that I managed to work in some food into the post, even though it’s supposed to be all about knitting? So anyway, I will be casting on for this project in the next few days. In fact, if I manage to cast on for it today, then I might have a wip picture for tomorrow’s Yarn Along-esque post. Which I still need to draft. Sigh.

Thank you all for bearing with me, and for following along with my thought processes. I’d love to see your mascot project ideas, so please, leave me a link to your post! And for your enjoyment, here is Bubble Bee:

Soccer fever

Euro 2012 Logo

Note: I’m not ignoring the political situation in the Ukraine. There has been a lot of discussion about the imprisonment and treatment of Yulia Timoshenko, the former prime minister of the Ukraine. But apart from that, the human rights situation is deplorable as well. There are reports of police brutality and torture. Attention needs to be paid to the situation in the Ukraine not just during spotlight that the Euro 2012 shines on the country, but also beyond. Visit Amnesty International for more information.

Tomorrow is the day! Tomorrow the Euro 2012 starts! The hosts are Poland and Ukraine, and the first game is Poland vs Greece, kicking off at 6pm EST. The Euro Cup ranks just below the FIFA World Cup, at least for me. I foresee lots of soccer watching and neglecting the rest of my life. There’ll be viewing parties, at home or maybe even at work. People will have flags up, people will be wearing team jerseys and face paint, some people even decorate their cars accordingly.

Well, I have to cheer on my favorite team, Germany. It’s been a while since Germany won a Euro championship – the last time was 1996. The last time Germany won the FIFA World Cup was 1990 (Germany still played as West Germany). Which is totally contrary to Gary Lineker‘s quote: “Soccer is a game for 22 people that run around, play the ball, and one referee who makes a slew of mistakes, and in the end Germany always wins.” But Germany and England do have a soccer rivalry – just think of the Wembley goal during the 1966 FIFA World Cup.

They’re toe-up, so the stripes look upside down. Note the soccer appropriate footstool!

I was in Germany during the 2006 world cup, and the atmosphere there was amazing. They had public viewing parties, the weather was awesome, and all in all the mood was great (you’ll always have a few Hooligans and others up for trouble, but all in all it was pretty peaceful). Oh, and in addition to the mood, people were pretty euphoric because Germany was doing really well. Whenever a critical game took place the roads were pretty much deserted during the game. Depending on the results people were driving around, cheering, waving flags and honking like mad. You’ll also get that during games involving Turkey’s team since there are so many Turkish people in Germany. In fact, a lot of Germans cheered for Turkey except for the Euro 2008 semis where Germany played against Turkey. But in 2006, people were so euphoric and so excited by this young team that it ended up being called “ein Sommermärchen” – a summer fairytale. There even was a documentary with that name dealing with that period during that summer.

This time I’ll once again will be in Germany for the Euro tournament. I’m hoping for lots of soccer related parties. And I’ll get the chance to wear my Germany socks (hand-knit of course!). In fact, I still need to knit more Germany socks for friends and family. The munchkins of course need German flag socks. And I know a few other people who’d love German flag colored socks. I may be starting something, though – I think a few people might want socks in the their favorite team’s colors.

Join in, and no matter what time you’re cheering for, I hope you have lots of fun! Yay for 90 minutes (or more) of watching 22 people chasing a black and white ball. Yay for soccer!

A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons?

Day 4: April 26, 2012. A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons?
As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

I’m glad I’m living in an area where you have actual seasons – winter is cold, summer is warm, spring and fall fit in somewhere inbetween. Ok, that’s simplifying things – we might not get snow in winter at all, or we might get a snowpocalypse, spring and fall sometimes are very cold, totally rained out, or unseasonably warm, and summer can be anything from pleasant to stiflingly humid. But still, we have seasons. I can’t quite imagine not living in a place with seasons. Actually, that’s not true. I spent half a year in Tanzania, which has its own weather rhythms. The weather was everything between pleasantly warm to increadibly hot, rainy season with monsoon like rains or short showers, and sometimes the evenings and nights were pretty darn cold. We camped at the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater once and boy, we were wearing plenty layers in our sleeping bags and we were still cold. But the sunrise totally made up for it.

Tanzania0832

All of these seasons make it possible to knit up all kinds of projects in various yarn weights. I’ll get good use out of blankets as well as lacy shawls. I love my Girasole blanket which I knit out of 1500+ yards of worsted weight. And despite its laciness it’s very warm and cuddly – I originally thought that it wouldn’t be that warm due to the lace pattern but I was totally wrong. Normally I like to knit those kinds of projects when it’s colder outside so I don’t have a huge pile of worsted weight yarn on my lap while the weather is in the 90s Fahrenheit (above 30 Celsius). But this was a KAL project so I knit this in July – but thankfully I had airconditioning or this would not have been pleasant.

IMG_3421

But really, I choose my projects depending on who needs what and when – especially when it comes to Christmas gifts! I always have a few projects that I try to knit up last minute, and sometimes I succeed, and sometimes not. Oh, and I’ve learned the hard way that handknit gifts should only go to people who will really appreciate them. Otherwise I feel like an idiot when I put so much hard work into something that they really don’t care for. People who craft themselves seem to be the people who appreciate handmade things most – they really know how much work goes into making something yourself.

I don't think this Ishbel ever made it out of the closet... And I even used Wollmeise for it!

So, my crafting seems to be more of a reflection of my knitting skills rather than seasonal changes. I’ve enjoyed knitting most of my projects – there are a few that I just couldn’t wait to finish them, but mostly, I’ve enjoyed creating them.  I’ve knit a bunch of shawls, scarves and cowls, and bunch of baby items – both toys and garments. I’m pretty new to knitting garments – I’ve knit a sweater and two cardigans, and there are a bunch more in my queue. But I’ll talk about my knitting skills on Saturday, in the “Improving Your Skillset” post. Until then I’ll leave you with (another) collage of seasonal knitting projects. The seasons are (per row): winter, spring, summer, fall. Then you’ll have more unsual ‘seasons’ – the individual pictures are: monsoon season, anytime season, rainy season, Easter, soccer season, and Christmas.

The projects are:

That’s it from my end for today. Check out some of the other awesome posts on today’s topic by googling for today’s code, 3KCBWDAY4. Or even better, join in! It really is a lot of fun. I’ll see you tomorrow – I’m still figuring out what my creative post will be, but I’ll do my very best. Til then!

Lucky socks part II

Germany socks

more Germany socks

I already posted about a pair of socks knit in the German flag colors. This pair of socks was actually knit before that and they’re part II of the great sock experiment – these were knit on toe-up on two circular needles. My favorite sock construction technique, and knitting with two circular needles is way faster than knitting with dps or using magic loop. The pattern is from Wendy Johnson’s book ‘Socks from the Toe-Up.’ The book is very good overview on toe-up sock construction and it has really nice patterns. I did modify the pattern slightly – I used Judy’s Magical Cast-On instead of the short-row toe as the pattern recommends – if I’d used that method then the stripes would have worked properly.

again, lucky socks

note the matching chair

The socks fit perfectly, and they’re for watching soccer. Lucky socks, here I come!