Wednesday = Yarn Along

Pink Grapefruit Cowl knit in MadTosh merino light in Oxblood

my “p[u]rrrple” grapefruit cowl

And I’m yarning along again after a break. Not that I’d planned a break but life got busy, as it tends to. I’m figuring out that I a) need to plan out time for blogging in my day b) schedule posts ahead of time and c) set up some kind of posting schedule so you guys know when new content will go up.

MadMay 2013 badgeBut back to knitting. As I’d mentioned during this year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, I’m multiple wip kind of person. I cast-on to keep my knitting mojo going – plus there are always requests, and gifts, and so on. Plus, this is my MadMay – Madeline Tosh May – project.

This is really a fun project. It’s Julie’s Pink Grapefruit cowl and fingerless gloves pattern (her website is Knitted Bliss). Right now I’m only planning to knit the cowl, albeit in a larger size. I love how the star cluster sections look – and the way you create them really isn’t too complicated so it’s easy to memorize the pattern. I’m curious and nervous how the final project will look – you drop the stockingette sections between the star clusters, creating this dropped stitch – pattern effect. I hope it’ll be long enough.

Btw, my nephew asked me why his Mom and Dad can’t knit and that I should teach them so they could teach him so everybody would be able to knit. Lol. Toddler logic.

Now for the blog hop part: I’m linking up with this week’s Yarn Along, this week’s Tami’s Amis WIP Wednesday and Frontier Dreams’ Keep Calm and Craft on (KCCO) blog-a-long. Check out some of the other awesome wip posts.

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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!

Flight of the [Bumble]bee

Today’s post is a mashup of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week assignment and {this moment}. The assignment is to come up with a different kind of post.

Day Five (Friday April 26th): Something A Bit Different
It’s the annual challenge to blog in a way different to how you normally blog. You may choose to create a podcast, or vlog, create a wordless post or write in verse. You’ve already stretched your wings with an infographic, now it’s time to freestyle. You can post on any topic you like, but be sure to post in a style different from your usual blog presentation. There’s not too much guidance for this one simply because the more varied the posts are on this day, the wider the sources of information for other bloggers will be. Bonus points if you manage to work your house animal in somehow.

Last year I stretched my blogging creativity muscles by creating a stop motion animation video. That was a lot of fun but my goodness, it was a lot of work. You take a photograph, then move things a teeny bit, take another photograph, move things again, take another photograph and on and on and on. It takes forever, I mean f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I used an iPhone app to help me out but still, that was a lot of work. And then you add in the editing and music and text and so on and it’s pretty much a day’s work.

This time around I had a few ideas, but my main idea was to make some kind of knitting gif. Or some kind of slo-motion or high-speed knitting video. And then I picked House of Bee and really spent a lot of time and thought on this bee thing and, well, the idea for the flight of a bee was born. Except that this bee likes yarn better than fruit. Especially since the colorway sounds like its some kind of yummy dessert. So – enjoy!

I’ve got some info for you…

Bee Mascot projectHello! It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for a Yarn Along post. So here’s my most current wip made out of the yarn I showed you yesterday – said Berries & Cream socks. I’m hoping to make some more progress by the end of the week and I’ll share any updates with you as I progress.

As to reading – sorry, I’m not reading much these days. Instead I’m spending a lot of time writing – both online and offline. And of course I’m writing &  experimenting with the blog as part of the Knitting & Crochet Blog Week. So, without any further ado here is today’s assignment:

Day Three (Wednesday April 24th): Infographic
There are many ways of conveying information on a blog; text and images being the two most widely used. Many infographics combine both these elements to provide a visual way of presenting text information. […]

The whole point of this topic is to experiment with infographics as a way of sharing facts, information and ideas, and to explore another tool in a blogger’s arsenal of communication options.

Honestly, I’ve never really thought about making my own Infographic. I’ve pinned a whole bunch of the on Pinterest, so much so that I have a separate board for Infographic pins. When I first read the assignment I started looking for the opt-out post – in the past years there’s been a wild card assignment to swap out a day’s assignment. And yes, while I could just draw an infographic I actually need to have an idea as to what to draw. But I was stuck.

Yarn for the Ravelry queue

waiting to be knit up…

And then I decided to go the House of Bee path. Given that I like to have multiple projects on the needles, I decided to look at my ginormous queue.  I use my queue like an inspiration board. Whenever I come across a pattern I like I just queue it. The first few pages of my queue contain the patterns that I plan to make sooner rather than later. But otherwise my queue is pretty much a mess, so nowadays I also tag patterns. That way it’s easy to look through them and search for, say, a fingering weight sweater patterns if I want to knit a sweater out of Wollmeise. I should go back and tag old projects, but given that my queue is  46 (!!!) pages long – that’s 1375 patterns – that’s not going to happen.

So – I’ve decided to share my knitting evolution with you: How my knitting and knitting skills have progressed, what my queue looks like when looked at more closely, and what actually happens to the projects. Nope, I’m not much of a selfish knitter – most of my projects are gifts. I also started taking a look at the colors I like to work with, but more on that tomorrow.

I hope you enjoy the Infographic! I spent a ridiculous amount of time on it. I bow to all the people who come up with all those gorgeous, complicated Infographics. And mad props to Piktographic – I used their free templates to make this Infographic – it really gives you a great starting point. Then you have all kinds of customization option but you really need to spend some time with elements and layers – like in PowerPoint and Photoshop.

My Knitting Evolution Infographic

Leave me a link to your Infographic in the comments and I’ll swing by and check it out. And all of you Yarn Alongers, here’s the blog hop part: I’m linking up with this week’s Yarn Along, this week’s Tami’s Amis WIP Wednesday and Frontier Dreams’ Keep Calm and Craft on (KCCO) blog-a-long. Check out some of the other awesome wip posts.

Yarn Along

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:

Bzzz, bzzz, bzzzz: The House Cup

Bee & Dandelion

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day One (Monday April 22nd): The House Cup.
A bit like Harry Potter, but not quite, this year’s Knitting & Crochet Blog Week is split into 4 houses. Don your favourite knitted or crocheted hat and let it guide you to which house you will be in. […]

So choose your house. You may be a combination of more than one of these noble beasts, but think about which house best embodies your qualities and declare your place. You can use one of the graphics above to display your house crest, if you like (though this is totally optional).

Post about your crafting outlook/style and why you chose this house. The descriptions have been purposefully written to seem quite vague, but that’s really because they are only the merest starting point to prompt bloggers to write about in which ways they identify themselves within their craft(s).

House of BeeThe options are: House of Bee, House of Manatee, House of Monkey and House of Peacock. Or you could come up with a completely different House. I was wavering back and forth between House of Monkey and House of Bee. Here are the descriptions:

The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest.

The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

Well, as I have usually have a case of Wipitis (for all you non-knitting readers a wip is a work in progress), I decided to stick with House of Bee. I do like to challenge myself and learn new techniques – I still need to finish and steek the V-neck vest for my Dad – but not all the time. Sometimes you just want a brainless knit, you know? I tend to move back and forth between projects – I need an instant gratification project here and there if I’m knitting acres of stockingette in lace. I especially like kid or baby knits or worsted or heavier weight projects (cowls are favorites) as a break in-between.

MadMay 2013 badgeThe ironic thing is, I currently only have one wip on the needles. Ooops. Bee fail. I have a few wips listed on my Ravelry page, but all of them are finished, apart from the antique-y scarf I posted about on Wednesday. The hibernating projects are all frogged. And I still have, oh 7 finished project that haven’t yet been added to Ravelry. Which is why my mileage knit is completely off. So I guess I have been busy as a bee.

I am planning to cast on for a few new projects in the next few days – for the mascot project, a May project for the Madeline Tosh MadMay knit-a-long (KAL), for a stripey project KAL and a Viajante KAL. Yup. I am certifiably overcommitted. Stay tuned for lots of pictures of newly cast-on projects, and lots of  Wednesday Yarn Along posts. And on that note, I’m ending today’s post. Tomorrow, it’ll be all about the mascot project. Leave me a link to your Knitting and Crochet Blog Week posts in the comments, I’d love to see what you’ve come up with!

Where’s my Wednesday at?

Smitten Kitchen cookbook plus scarf

Hello fellow Yarn Along-ers! Yes, I’m still around, and yes, it is high time for another Yarn Along post. Especially since I have a new wip to share with you. I managed to finish my Paraphenalia socks – yay! – and decided to cast on for something new instead of finishing up one of my old wips.

But first things first. Were you able to figure out what I’m reading? Yes? Or are you distracted by the image of the luscious lemon square? I can tell you that I have a serious hankering to bake some right now. I may just head out to the store later to buy some lemons… I guess that’s the mark of a good cookbook, that it serves to inspire you.

So – in case you didn’t guess, this is the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. I’d actually planned to attend one of the book signings, but life interfered. In the end, I guess I was better off not going, given how overcrowded and incredibly long the book signing was. And so I ended up borrowing the book from the library… I have to say, I do enjoy it, but it after all they hype, it wasn’t the best thing since sliced bread. A good cookbook but not the best one ever. It didn’t knock me off my socks. I know, heresy. Especially by me, an avowed Smitten Kitchen lover.  I do like it, but I think I’ll be just fine with the website. Unless of course someone wants to gift me with a copy of the book – I won’t say no (hint hint, family).

I guess that’s the problem with hype – it raises your expectations to a level that will almost always cause a let-down when you encounter the real thing. I’ve felt the same way about Argo or Forrest Gump. Really good movies, but the hype was just way too crazy. I was kind of disappointed after watching them – although I actually enjoyed Forrest Gump more the second time around. I’m guessing that’ll be the same case with Argo.

yellow and grey yarn

Back to the knitting. I’ve been on a yellow kick lately – the color just makes me happy. Plus it’s perfect to put you in a spring kind of mood. And even though the original prototype of the pattern sports a shawl knit in red and grey – MadTosh tart! – I decided on yellow. A mellow yellow, matched with a mellow grey so the scarf would be easy to combine with all kinds of clothing. I’m really happy with the final color selection. The yarn is MadelineTosh fingering merino light, in the colorways Whiskers and Winter Wheat. Pretty!

The pattern is Elinya – it’s a scarf/narrow shawl with  alternating stripes, knit in garter stitch. This is definitely a good design for beginners. As to me, I’m already bored out of my mind, and I’m only 30 stripes in. Oy. And this brings me to another point. This is a pattern you have to pay for. $4. I thought there’d be some short rows or some kind of shaping, something worth paying that much for. And yet all it consists of are garter stitch stripes, with increases at the beginning and end of each row. That’s it. I feel ripped off. I could have come up with that on my own, thank you very much. Sigh. But more on the topic of patterns, and pattern pricing another day.

And now for the blog hop part: I’m linking up with this week’s Yarn Along, this week’s Tami’s Amis WIP Wednesday and Frontier Dreams’ Keep Calm and Craft on (KCCO) blog-a-long. Check out some of the other awesome wip posts.

Yarn Along