Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Year, New Craft

For the last few months, I’ve been admiring woven scarves on Ravelry.  As I flipped through a Webs catalog awhile back, I casually remarked to Mike that maybe in a few years I’d look into weaving.  For the record, I knew absolutely nothing about weaving other than self-striping sock yarns made pretty woven scarves.  Looms?  No knowledge at all other than that’s what you use to get pretty woven scarves.  The actual process of weaving?  Well, weavers talk about needing to warp their looms, whatever that is.   And that would be the extent of my weaving knowledge.

You can imagine that I was a bit surprised when Mike handed me a box Christmas morning, and I unwrapped:

I may know zippo about weaving, but I know Mike deserves some major good husband points for taking an offhand comment I made about something I’d like to try and running with it.  I mean, the guy read loom reviews.  More points for helping me assemble the loom. 

Once assembled, I started pouring through instructions and learned how to warp the loom, which I now understand is basically getting the vertical threads all measured and threaded to weave. 

My small house is not exactly well suited to the task, but I made it work. Then, I poured through more instructions and actually started weaving.  My first attempt was appropriately a total mess.

I only wove about a foot of that blue and green yarn before cutting it off the loom and starting something else. Still uncertain about how things would come out, I chose a handspun skein that was a little lumpy and not quite my colors for the warp and dug out some Lamb's Pride from the stash drawer to use for the weft (horizontal threads).

The fabric was much more even, but not surprisingly, drab-colored yarn created a drab fabric.  Olive green, mustard yellow, and some brownish golds mixed with charcoal grey?  Blech.  The ugly project, however, gave me lots of practice and when I was finished, I finally felt ready to try making one of those pretty self-striping sock yarn scarves.  Still lacking the confidence to break into any of my really prized self-striping skeins, I dug out a club skein I got last year that I was pretty lukewarm on. 

And now I'm halfway to a self-striping woven scarf of my very own.  How cool is that?  And looms?  Freaking brilliant.  How does anyone ever come up with this stuff?  I know there are a zillion weaving techniques, patterns, and textures to learn, but right now I'm just enjoying keeping everything simple.  It's fun to know though that when time and energy allows I have a whole new craft to explore.  Thank you, Mike!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Past, Present, and Future

So let's wrap up the 2011 knitting goals:

1) 12 in 2011:  Objective was to knit 12 projects in 2011 from stash yarn.  Accomplished. 

2) Operation Conquer WIPs:  I started November with 7 WIPs and ended December with 1.  I may not have totally prevailed (cursed Vivian sweater), but both the WIP drawer and my stress level over languishing projects are much more under control.

3) Sock Yarn Stashdown:  Objective was to end 2011 with less sock yarn than I started with.  My calculations put me at five fewer skeins.  Not great but nevertheless, victory.

On the whole, 2011 was the year of low knitting productivity, especially when compared to what I finished in 2010.  In 2010, I knit 7 sweaters, and in 2011, only 3 (2 of which were vests).  But 2011 was the year I really started spinning. In 2010, I spun only a few ounces of fiber.  In 2011, over 5 pounds and somewhere around 26 skeins.


The wheel was an expensive purchase, but at least I know I'm putting it to good use.

And my goals for 2012? I've written this section several times now, and it changes significantly with each revision. Despite my tendency to plan and create to-do lists, I'm determined that in 2012, there will be no goals to knit a certain number of socks, sweaters, or any other projects.  No inventorying amount of stash used or number of skeins that enter the house.  No knitting or spinning quotas.  And no deadlines.  In 2012, knitting will not be work.  I am going to spin and knit what I feel like, when I feel like it.  If I see some pretty sock yarn, I am going to buy it (wow, I'm being really tough on myself with these resolutions).  In short, I'm going to relax about my crafting and use it for the escape a hobby should provide.  At least I'm going to try.

Of course, I still have plans.
1) Knit another 12 projects with stash yarn, a few of which should use handspun.  Hmmm, that sounds rather like a quota.  Correction:  Knit some projects with stash yarn.
2) Finish Vivian by the end of March  Um, that's a deadline. Maybe just finish Vivian at some point this year. Still a deadline, but a little easier to think about.
3) Knit some of the sweaters and socks I've had queued forever and have been waiting to start until the WIPs were under control.  Seems appropriately vague even if I do have 3 specific sweater lots of yarn in mind that I want to use up.
4) Continue spinning and knitting the Epic Handspun Afghan.  Ideally, I'd love to have all the spinning finished and at least 12-15 squares finished by the end of the year.  Uh, that's another quota...I better stop with this list right now.

Clearly, "relax about crafting" is going to be a little tougher for me than I thought.  At least there's no yarn diet listed in there...although I'm really trying to knit down the stash enough to give Mike another drawer.  Oh, I give up.  Maybe I should just resolve to not stress about the goals I will inevitably set?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Catching Up

Before I can delve into my plans for 2012, I have a bit to catch up on.  As Oranje waited for a photo shoot for most of December, I finished my fifth WIP.

Pattern: Angostura from Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in Ravelry Red

The vest came out quite nicely.  It looked teeny when I finished it, but it blocked out to about the right size, albeit a rather fitted one.  I've knit many of Ysolda's patterns, and I'm always impressed with the little details. For this pattern, the armhole and neck i-cord edging is fantastic.  The edges look so clean and neat without needing to pick up stitches or create a crochet edge.  The back cable, however, is still my favorite part of the pattern, which is what drew me to it in the first place.

The only annoying thing?  Those light spots in the yarn.  I alternated skeins to spread out the color variation, but those flecks of pink still bug me a bit.  Not too much though, and Malabrigo Rios?  Overall it's pretty heavenly.

Once Angostura was out of the way, I turned my attention to the Chelsea skirt, which only needed the lace hem and new buttons, and the elaborately cabled Vivian sweater, which needed most of 2 sleeves and the entire top yoke.  Both projects were packed up for the trip to Connecticut for the holidays.  Within a day, I decided I hated the yarn I was using for the lace hem for the skirt, so that project was relegated back to the knitting bag until I could get home and find different yarn.  Then I moved on to Vivian and within a few rows on the first sleeve, I finally admitted to myself that I hated the shape. I started a new sleeve but was frustrated, tucked that project away too, and spent the rest of the trip knitting a cowl (I may have been determined to spend most my time on WIPs, but I'm still smart enough to bring a back up project.  Or two).  

After returning home, I spent the few days before New Year's Eve knitting the Chelsea lace hem with different yarn. After running 18 miles the morning of December 31, instead of heading to my bedroom for a well-deserved nap, I dragged my tired body over to the almost-finished skirt and settled in to sew on the lace hem.  I finished the sewing, weaved in my ends, tried on the finished skirt, and with a satisfied smile crossed the sixth WIP off the list before the end of 2011 deadline.

A few days into the new year, I realized that I had sewn the lace with the wrong side facing out.  And with that, I decided that rushing to finish a project just to accomplish an arbitrary knitting deadline is kind of stupid.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Fresh Start

I have much to share about the final outcome of my WIP challenge and what I have planned for 2012.  I'm not ready to write that up yet though because I started a sock.

This sock is not on any of my to-do lists, and it's a mystery sock pattern, so I don't even know what the finished sock is going to look like.  It's exactly what I need right now.  I'll be back soon with finished projects, skeins of handspun, and details on the new craft I'm delving into.  But for now, I'm going to go knit a sock and enjoy a fresh knitting project.

P.S.  For anyone wondering, the sock is Blathnat, the mystery sock for the Sock Knitters Anonymous January knit-along.  Yarn is Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! in Lubber Grasshopper.