Sunday, January 01, 2017

2016 Roundup and 2017 Plans

As of mid-day on 31 December, I have finished six projects this year: 3 pairs of socks for me, 1 baby sweater and 1 scarf. Currently, in my active project queue I have three pairs of socks, two adult sweaters and a shawl. I am halfway through knitting the buttonband on an adult cardigan. Also lurking in the WIP/UFO pile are two half finished baby sweaters (one of which is a patterned nordic sweater for learning/practicing two-handed knitting), three or four pairs of socks, three adult sweaters, and probably a shawl.  All told, I knit up just over 4000 yards of yarn into finished projects and another 500 yards on WsIP.

For the coming year, I've got a hankering to try brioche stitch and have purchased yarn for two-color brioche projects. I also want to finish some of the adult-sized sweaters I have started. This will require finally getting my gauge sorted out and perhaps if I focus on a single project at a time, I won't have so much trouble with gauge consistency and also with making good progress. Splitting my time between a multitude of projects generally results in little progress on any of them and plenty of drive to start something else new. Paradoxical but true.

Over the past day or so, I have re-ordered my Ravelry queue to more accurately reflect my knitting priorities and the parts of my stash that are currently living with me. I'll keep with my practice of traveling with moderately difficult socks to keep my hands occupied but will target my knitting efforts at colors for work socks. At home I'll work on more complex knitting or larger projects like adult sweaters. With less goofing around on the internet and more audiobooks, I think I can make a bigger dent in my local stash and get more projects finished. I think I can largely avoid all yarn purchases, with the possible exception of spending gift certificates.

I haven't figured out yet if I'll set spinning goals. There is certainly some fiber I want to finish spinning this year, even if it means adding to my yarn stash. Once I finish the current batch of plain merino roving and the brown Shetland, I may dive into the luscious Coopworth that I've been saving for a while. A nice light worsted or DK weight would make a lovely sweater and I'm sure I can find a good pattern in my overly large Ravelry queue and library.

At the end of the year, my stash contains 142,048 yards of yarn. It appears that I added approximately 20,000 yards of yarn, though I know some of that was due to missing items in my Rav inventory and I did purchase 7000  yards of cobweb weight yarn with which to knit a Queen Susan Shawl. I also picked up a small stash of crochet cotton for a dollar a ball. My plan is to knit more yardage than I purchase in 2017, resulting in a net reduction in stash size, no matter how small. Adding to my yarn stash via spinning up more fiber won't count. I haven't decided if this means I'll skip MD Sheep and Wool or not. It was a fun day out.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Sock Inventory

Decided to take stock of my sock drawer today, primarily to see if any socks were in need of darning. Fortunately only one pair is currently developing thin spots in the heels. In the process I discovered that I have 37 pair of hand knit socks. There's a pretty even split between the red, blue and green color families as the primary colors. The reds tend to be on the orange side. The greens run the gamut from blue-green to yellow-green.

While I had the socks all laid out, it occurred to me that I could also do an assessment of my sock yarn stash. I knew that I've been slowly adding to my sick yarn stash over the years and definitely faster than I've been knitting it up. It's now up to enough yarn to knit 80 pair of socks. Some of this yarn will end up becoming shawls instead of socks but that will only drop the total to around 70 pair of hand knit socks.

I have figured out that I should focus on knitting the gray and black socks from my stash first. I've now re-sorted my Ravelry queue to reflect this. It won't likely affect my travel knitting much. I've discovered that trying to knit dark yarn while in-flight generally doesn't work. The lighting just isn't good enough--either not bright enough or it's aimed in the wrong place. I'll keep something fairly easy to memorize and in a light color for travel knitting.

Some of my yarn stash is going to also be shifted out of my Rav stash listing and into the for sale/trade listing. Some of the yarn is stuff that I'm not likely going to use, unless it's for charity donations. I'd rather just ship it off to someone else who will use it.

While I was at it, I went ahead and did the same sort of assessment of my lace yarn stash. There are 50 unknit shawls and scarves in the stash. More of that yarn will end up on my for sale list. I have several odd balls that were part of monthly subscriptions that just don't click with me. It may end up getting knit into charity things before it sells but it's definitely not stuff that I'm super excited about for me.

Sewing
There is a sewing shop in town as of this year. It's not just a fabric store. It's actually set up for sewing. You can pay to use their sewing machines which are always set up and ready (plus a serger). I'm going to take their basic primer class in two weekends which is the pre-requisite for all their subsequent sewing classes. It'll introduce me to how their machines work since they're likely fancier than my basic little machine. It'll also help me refresh my sewing skills. There's a class to make a small zipper bag too.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Just a little thing

Friends of mine had their first baby not too long ago. I managed to stay focused on a single project long enough to whip up this adorable striped sweater. The pattern is Elwood. The yarn is Lion Brand Heartland. I was attracted to the yarn by the colors and the fact that it is washable.

I misread the pattern and included the back-of-neck shortrows. I'm hoping this will just make the back a bit longer in length when Ezra is wearing it.  I modified the collar as I thought the original number of shortrows made the collar too wide relative to the button band width. I also knit the collar and button bands on the larger needle size as the smaller needle (what the pattern recommended) caused the button band to draw in too much and distorted the sweater fronts.



I now really want a shawl collared cardigan for myself. I have plans to make myself Nancy Marchant's Book Exchange Cardigan in the near future.

Recent Travel Knitting
I managed to finish two socks (from two different pairs) while on my last trip. It amounted to two half-socks worth of knitting. I now have completed Java Socks in Shibui Sock and have the first of the Leonore socks in Colinette Jitterbug. I have not yet cast on the second sock of that pair.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I went to Jamestown and Williamsburg. I started a simple garter stitch cardigan to keep my hands occupied while riding in the car and walking around seeing the sights. I got about halfway up the body before having to put it aside for a work trip. It is good mindless knitting (as long as I remember the increases and decreases) and therefore good for evenings at home after long days at work. The pattern is Everybody Knows. I'm using Plymouth Yarns Mushishi, which I purchased back at Needleworks in Urbana when I headed off to my first post-PhD job. It's a nice wool-silk blend and it is knitting up beautifully.

Holiday Knitting Plans
I'll be taking several extra days off work in the coming weeks. My intention is to kick my half marathon training up a notch and also to hammer my way through my knitting and NetFlix queues.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Travel Knitting Continues

I did successfully complete the Elementary Watson socks shortly after I returned from my trip. Despite the appearance in the photo, they are the same length in the leg. I knit on these socks in seven different countries.

 On the subsequent trip, I started a new pair of socks. The pattern is Nemesis. The yarn is Malabrigo Sock in the colorway Archangel.  It amuses me that I have Archangel Nemesis socks. Friends have commented that I should make Archangel Apocalypse socks but there is not yet any Apocalypse sock pattern. I may have to fix that. In any event, I knit half a sock on my last business trip. They have already been worked on in three countries.

Good friends of mine recently had their first baby. I wasn't planning to knit a sweater but then found these lovely colors when shopping for drawing pens at Michael's. The pattern is Elwood. I used brown for the collar and will use it for the cuffs too. Right now the body is completed and I just need to add sleeves. I should be able to finish it in the next week. Thankfully it knits up fast.
 

I'm giving serious consideration to knitting up a couple pair of these adorable Baby Duck Booties too. One pair will go to the newborn's family. The others will go into the box of baby gifts for babies yet to be born. I think they're the perfect combination of quick knit and adorable gift.




Sunday, May 22, 2016

I love productive travel

I started with the beginnings of a toe. I returned with half a sock. I might have a completed pair in a week or so.

Pattern is Elementary Watson Socks by Sherry Menton. Yarn is Madelinetosh Sock in Well Water. Size 1.5 needles. I would definitely make this pattern again. I did alter the pattern such that the cables are symmetrical.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

2016 MD Sheep and Wool


I had a bit of a field trip this past weekend. A local yarn shop arranged to have a bus drive a group to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I happened to get an e-mail from them and, on a whim, signed right up. Amy and CJ were great hosts and I think everybody had a lot of fun.

The weather turned out to be fantastic--sunny and warm with light winds. We had no trouble with traffic either on the way there or back.

I found a bunch of yarn I couldn't leave alone. I even picked up the yarn to knit myself a Queen Susan Shawl.  I'll use cobweb weight Leicester Longwool from Wool Out Of Wales. I purchased 7000 meters of yarn. They want me to post progress pictures.

This is the 2016 MDSW colorway from Miss Babs in her sock yarn. I think it will become a scarf.


Colorway: Mayhem

The purchases in my messenger bag.


 Purchases all laid out.
 


I watched the start of the Sheep to Shawl Competition. By the time I remembered to go back to check on their progress, all of the shawls had been cut from the looms. I had no idea they'd be that fast! The Alice In Wonderland themed team won the competition.








Needle felted figures at The Fiber Fairy

Sweater at Spirit Trail Yarns
 Octopus and Candlesmoke mittens at Spirit Trail. I may have to practice my colorwork!

Prize winning fleeces that I managed to avoid buying.


There were quite a few Gotland fleeces, which got me thinking about spinning and weaving a Fellowship Cloak again.

Sheep in the barns

 Bobbin lace demo.

 Woolbuddies booth!


Hand-made brooms!





 Prize-winning fiber art!













  Judith McKenzie talked about the history of sheep and wool

I also met Anne Hanson of KnitSpot and when I purchased a pattern from the KnitSpot booth, the shop girl recognized me from when I purchased my Mayan Puzzle pattern and yarn last August! I was quite surprised. :-)

I missed seeing the Green Mountain Spinnery booth, but that may well be for the best. I mostly avoided buying spinning fiber. I missed seeing the sheep dog/herding demonstration in favor of seeing Judith McKenzie's talk. Next year I may have to try a class or two.