Here’s One Way to Get Rid of Some WIPs:

Just frog ’em all. Froggity frog frog frog. Then, you can cast on for something new with a clear conscience! I made the decision to rip out (ribbit) my Color Dipped Hat (thanks for all the advice). I haven’t actually done it yet, but I will. That one I will restart, but I guess I got the frog bug because I just decided to deep six another project that was giving me headaches. The Lacy Loo just was not going to work in Berroco Linet. Just not happening. So, that one will get ripped out too and I’ll keep my eye out for a better yarn choice for the pattern. I also decided to scrap a dishcloth I cast on a couple months ago as I have no idea where I was in the pattern, and not a ton of interest in dishcloths at the moment. So there! Two WIPs gone and one on the way to recovery!

I’ve been knocking WIPs out another way today, too. I’ve actually been working on finishing some of the damn things! I finished the knitting, and even wove in all the ends, on my Garter Yoke Baby Cardi ages ago but was dragging my feet on sewing in the buttons. Well, I sewed on all five of them today and even gave it a wash. Once it dries, it will be ready to get out of my life and off the WIP list! These aren’t the greatest pics, but they prove there are buttons:

IMG_4224 IMG_4225Of note, I used TECHknitter’s button shanking technique. Black yarn is really tricky to photograph. Once it is done drying, I’ll try to get some shots in natural light that are a little clearer.

Another WIP that’s teed up and ready to go is my Sunlight Shawlette. I finally got around to blocking it today. It’s currently drying on our very tidy guest bed:

IMG_4222I’m really happy with how it turned out. I of course forgot to take pre-blocking measurements, but it grew a lot. I hope the recipient likes it! I should be able to give it to her this week.

Oh yeah, and I straight up finished another WIP. Say hi to my third pair of Passport Mitts! I made them out of the same orange Ella Rae Lace Merino DK. These are the size large but like the other orange pair, I stuck with US2s the whole time instead of switching to 3s. This yarn is just not anything close to DK weight and I like the way the knitted fabric was with the 2s. Also, the intended recipient wants a snug fit. I think they’re just about perfect!

IMG_4221So, I’m down to six WIPs. Two are blocking and will be done within a day or two. One is my Drachenfels which I still just haven’t blocked and taken final photos of. I really just want to wear it all the time so I don’t want it out of commission for a couple of days! Plus, to block it, I’d have to legitimately clean off the guest bed and that hasn’t been high on my priority list. I’m left with the Color Dipped Hat which is back to square one and two old-ish WIPs just waiting around for some finishing. Capucine needs tassels and Twirly Summerskirt needs elastic in the waistband.

You know what the next question is, right? What should I cast on next? Well, I swatched for Hermione’s Everyday Socks the other day and came in closer to 8 sts/inch than 9. I was even using US1s! I thought about casting on anyway because I would need to adjust the pattern for my big feet, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s the best next sock pattern for me. I kind of want something with more explicit instructions for how to make size adjustments, or at least something that offers different sizes so that I can see more clearly how to manipulate things. I stumbled across a link to get a free Craftsy.com class the other day and chose to use it on a sock class. I think I might watch that before I start my next sock project.

So, what else is on my queue? A few things, but nothing I’m ready to start yet. I guess I’ll just commence with the frogging!

The Bitter End

Knitters, how do you find motivation to complete WIPs that have gotten…monotonous? Do you complete them? Or do you have a stash of hibernating, nearly complete projects? I don’t usually have an issue knitting through to the end, but I definitely lag behind when it comes to weaving in ends and doing seaming and finishing bits (case in point: my Capucine, languishing without its tassels). Like many “efficient” knitters, I tend to gravitate toward projects that have minimal finishing needs, and prefer using grafting/Kitchener stitch and the like when possible.

I just measured my Not a Buff and it is, conservatively, 15.5″. That means I have only 3.5″ to go before switching to rib, and only another inch or so after that to be done. But man, does it feel like pulling teeth. I keep browsing patterns and projects on ravelry, pondering what’s going on the needles next, dreaming of the gems in my stash and how they will morph into projects. I just want it to be done already! Any tips for gritting through? Or recommendations for my Netflix queue?

A few days ago, I was looking through boxes of knitting and craft supplies that have remained packed since our move three years ago. One was marked WIPs, and I sort of dreaded opening it. I’m glad I did, as I found the ggh tajmahal I’m using now (in a previously unfinished and abandoned sweet pea), as well as an in-need-of-frogging monica in Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece. However, there were a few other things in there that brought a little sadness and anxiety and I’m trying to determine how to handle them.

First, an unfinished unbiased that I made out of wool that my mother brought back for me from Scotland. The wool is a beautiful heathery charcoal color but it is very very coarse. I have a high wool tolerance, but this is out of my league. So, I thought that making a bag out of it would be a good idea. I modified the pattern as I didn’t have quite enough yardage to finish. As a result, the V in the middle makes the bag too shallow to really function. I had this thought that I would line it with rectangular patterns that would cover the open V shape, but never got around to it (see above re: finishing; I’m even worse with doing linings/backings). In the meantime, my style has really changed and I can’t see myself ever carrying a handbag anymore, and so it sits. I suppose I should frog it, but it’s hard to sacrifice the work that went into it.

Second, I found my zigzag blanket that was intended for one of my twin nephlets as a baby (they are seven now, I think). I worked so. hard. on that blanket. I got through so much of the finishing: I seamed a million or so squares together, worked in a lot of the ends, picked up and knitted a border…but never put the backing on. And so it sits. I will try to finish it sometime as I really love it and want it to be put to use somehow.

Last, a scarf/stole that I knitted while a close friend’s mother was critically ill. It’s in Araucania Nature Cotton. I think I used a BW pattern called Rosebud? Something to do with roses. In any case, I had intended to give it to her when she recovered, but she passed away. I planned to give it to my friend instead and all this time (it’s been six or seven years) I thought that’s what I had done. So, when I found it in that box, a wave of sadness hit me. I had finished knitting it but never weaved in the ends or blocked it. I think I will finish it and give it to her, but I’m sad that I never did before.

The positive side of all this is that there is so much potential here, in all these nearly-done WIPs. There’s something extremely gratifying about completely finishing a project and then sending it out into the world to begin its new role. Handmade things go from projects that bring me joy to FOs that can potentially bring others joy (or me, when I make something for myself…it does happen sometimes). I love that I can make things that are both beautiful and useful, and also special because they were made for a purpose for someone.

On Finding Yarn and Finishing Techniques

The universe is not helping me on my stashbusting mission. First, the Goodwill windfall. Next, a fellow raveler decided to give away some of her own stash, and I was the lucky recipient of another windfall. Then, I discovered DBNY. Lastly, I was poking through a closet yesterday, opened a project bag I haven’t seen in a while, and found several skeins of different yarns (as well as four out of five of my US 3 dpns). Guys, this was pretty cool. Not only could I really use those dpns, but some of the yarn? Awesome! An untouched skein of Noro Silver Thaw! There was some other stuff in there, too–some kitchen cotton, some higher quality DK cotton, some sock yarn, a couple of other random things. But brand new Noro? Beautiful. I love Noro yarns, both for the long long long color repeats and for the interesting and often luxurious fiber blends. So now I just have to figure out what to do with it…

noro silver thaw

What I actually thought I might find in that project bag was my copy of The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancie M. Wiseman. I bought it many years ago and have used almost every page. I can’t find it currently and it’s driving me nuts. I’ve had to resort to the internet for questions about technique selection, finishing tips and the like, and it can be really hard to track down a good source. I like the book a lot because for each topic, several different options are discussed and the pros and cons are listed for each. The silver lining in this is that a week or two ago while looking for a decent comparison of cast ons for ribbing, i stumbled across this little gem: Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on for single or double rib. I used it for the project I was working on (Capucine), then for the next project (Bel et Bon mitts), then for the next and…you get the picture. If you haven’t used it before, I would highly recommend trying it. It’s good for anything with 1×1 or 2×2 rib, is very stretchy and is very fast and easy. And, it doesn’t require doing a long tail anything! I always misjudge the amount of yarn needed for those and end up either short or wasting some. So yeah, check it out.

I still hope I find my book soon. Maybe if I keep looking for it, I’ll find more stashes of Noro or other fiber bonanzas I’ve stored and forgotten about!

Not a Buff update: about half done, give or take. I may make it a little less than the prescribed 20″. But then again, I may not. I’m concocting a ggh tajmahal review post in my head for once it’s done.

In With the New!

I just got my batch of new yarns from dbny. I am so excited! Highlights include Noro Kirara, Noro Haniwa, Classic Elite Cerro and Cherry Tree Hill Supersock. Everything looks and feels lovely and I’m happily anticipating all the projects I can do with them.

I don’t think I have any official new FOs since my last post, but I did finish everything on the second stashbuster preemie hat except weaving in the ends. Other WIPs include the Capucine (still just needs tassels) and the Old Shale blanket. For the last, I’m still waiting on the yarn. I got an update today saying it will be coming soon, so I should have a flurry of FOs over the next week or so.

I have one new WIP as of last night. I cast on and knit a couple of rows of Not a Buff using GGH Tajmahal. Those first two rows were torture! I’m using a 16″ US 3 Addi Turbo circular needle. That combined with the soft, slippy texture of the yarn meant that I was chasing stitches all over the place. The first several rows are a 2×2 rib so hopefully now it’s established enough that it won’t be too tricky moving forward. This project is intended as a gift for my mom. I’m hoping it will be soft, stretchy and versatile so she can wear it a number of different ways.

And, now that my new influx of yarn has arrived, I can think about casting on for Quicksilver. This will be my first shawl, so I’m excited about it. The three colors I’ll be using–Bark, Apricot and Hot Pink–just happened to be the only three in that yarn that dbny had. I think they will work well together, though. The Hot Pink will be a nice pop against the warm brown and camel-y tones of the others. I kind of think I need to pace myself and get a couple of other projects out of the way before starting this one, otherwise I will never finish any of them.

So, lots going on on the knitting front! I will post pics as soon as I have enough of something completed.

Positive Balance of (Yarn) Trade

Like any good knitter, I can’t resist stash building (I have a considerable amount of yarn on the way from DBNY–can’t wait). At the same time, I want to use up/move out yarns that I’m not as excited about. So, I’ve got a few projects in mind to use up some odds and ends, mostly older acrylic yarns. Even if I don’t reduce the overall volume of my stash, I will hopefully increase the overall quality! Here are my current “stashbuster” ideas:

Not a crazy list so far, but it’s a start. I made one of the preemie hats yesterday:
stashbuster preemie hat

It proved quick and easy. My daughter claimed it right away for one of her “babies” so I just started another one to give away.

I also finished weaving in the ends on the Bel et Bon mitts I was working on. I’m fairly happy with how they turned out:

bel et bon mitts

So yesterday was a productive day!

Next up will be either Quicksilver or Not A Buff, depending on what yarn I get first.

NOTE: This post was originally published on Blogher on 7/5/15, but I’m relocating to wordpress.

And So It Begins

I am finding I have more to say about knitting than the people in my life are really interested in hearing, so I am launching this blog. I’m okay if few to no people read it, although it would be cool if it generated a little interest. I don’t have a super clear objective so far. My initial intentions are to discuss the highs and lows of yarn and knitting and to document an intense stashbusting initiative. As with most blogs, it’s likely that a decent dose of life and social commentary will make it in, as well. I will link my blog to my ravelry.com profile. My username there is alexand.

A basic history: I have been knitting off and on since I was about 7 (i.e., nearly three decades). Generally speaking, I despise crochet except for minimal borders and the like. Nothing personal, just doesn’t grab me. I struggle with depression. How that influences me at any given time affects the role that knitting plays in my life. So, times when I have more depression, I tend to have less energy and knitting falls by the wayside. It’s not strictly a barometer, but it’s one indicator out of many. The projects I tend to work on run the gamut: hats, scarves, mitts, baby items, dishcloths, dish towels, tea cozies, potholders, blankets, mason jar cozies, pretty much anything except for an honest-to-goodness adult sized sweater (so far).

On to the knitting! I currently have three active projects on the needles. The main project is my Old Shale kids blanket.
old shale kids blanket
The pattern is named Feather and Fan, but I’ve recently discovered it is actually Old Shale. I am using Colinette Wigwam in colorway Morocco. Funny story…a month or so ago, my mom and I were browsing at the local “Gucci” Goodwill. We were in the right place at the right time when an employee brought out two plastic tubs of yarn. We snapped them up, paid a total of $50 for them, and divvied up the spoils when we got home. Included in my batch were six skeins of the Colinette. I cast on for the blanket, got a skein or so in, and realized I had overestimated my total yardage. I wanted four more skeins. Long story short, they would have cost about $100 total at retail price, so I bought one skein from a fellow raveler and found a site in the UK (cucumberpatch.com) that had a good price for the remaining three. I’m waiting for those to arrive and then will finish the blanket. It will probably be for my two and a half year old daughter.

Projects #2 and #3 are a Capucine hat and Bel et Bon Mitts out of the same super bulky Araucania Calafquen (discontinued). All the knitting is done except for the second thumb. I will need to weave in the ends on the mitts and then do the tassels for the hat and they will both be done.
capucinebel et bon mitts

And I am contemplating a fourth, fifth and sixth project. Can you tell I’m feeling pretty good these days? I will leave projects #5 and #6 for another post. Project #4, though, will be something quick, easy and will use up some of my less awesome stash yarn. I have a lot of yarn from previous Goodwill trips, garage sales, random box lots, and goodness knows where else. I would like to use some of it up. So, last night I pulled out some acrylic baby yarn and I’m thinking of making hats or something that can be donated.

If you’ve made it this far, I am impressed! I am happy to have this outlet. Hopefully I will document an interesting knitting journey here in time.

NOTE: This post was originally published on Blogher on 7/4/15, but I’m relocating to wordpress.