Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Love Your Library, vol. 12

I thought this week would be a good time to address this month's prompt:

April: Analyze Your Behavior What is your creative process? How do you go about starting a new project? Do you see a pattern you love first, then find yarn? Or vice versa? Think about the order in which you typically begin a project, and how you can do a better job of including your current library into the process.

When I was seriously yarn dieting, I had an "a-ha" moment that made me realize why my stash was growing and growing and growing, and why I was neglecting the amazing yarn I'd already purchased. And that realization was that my creative process was backward. Well, maybe not backward, but ordered such that my current stash of yarns was acknowledged last (if at all). Here's how my creative process used to work:
  1. Browse the interwebz, read knitting magazines/blogs/websites, look at Ravelry's hot right now pattern page .... see something AMAZING! Decide that I MUST MAKE IT NOW!!
  2. Look at the pattern's yarn requirements. Go directly to one of several of my favorite online knitting stores and daydream about making the project with various different yarn options they have in stock.
  3. Fall in love with a yarn I see online and decide I HAVE TO DO THIS PROJECT with THIS YARN. Yes, MUST.
  4. Purchase said yarn.
  5. Purchase said pattern.
  6. If I'm lucky, cast on right away. If stars are aligned, actually knit until I finish the project. (this almost never happens)
  7. Reality: Realize that I have ____ number of ______ I need to make with an upcoming deadline. Decide my beautiful MUST MAKE project needs to patiently wait until my obligation knitting is done.
  8. Time passes. Repeat process with new shiny patterns. Dig through stash two (or more) years later and remember the beautiful MUST HAVE project I'd planned. Feel guilty. 
  9. Rinse and repeat.
So basically, once I purchased yarn I either cast on right away, or it would enter the black hole of guilt. I was NEVER looking in my stash to see if I already had yarn that would work for the current shiny project I was attracted to, partially because that wasn't my process and also because that yarn was "dibbed" by another pattern already. When I did my strict zero-yarn purchases diet for six months last year, it forced me to turn my process upside down. I was afraid that the thrill would be gone--it is super exciting to browse and daydream and purchase something EXCITING NEW! Luckily, I was wrong. I discovered that it was just as thrilling to find the PERFECT PATTERN for yarn I already have, and I still felt that thrill I got from purchasing new yarn. So here's what I try to do now:
  1. Dig through stash on a more regular basis. Discover a PRECIOUS skein of something AMAZING. Decide that I'm not going to wait a second longer to knit with it.
  2. Hop on Ravelry and look up said yarn. Look at what projects other people make with it.
  3. Fall in love with a project idea. Purchase pattern.
  4. Hopefully cast on ASAP.
So what's missing from this process??? My library. I need to add "search my library first" step in there, and I will have hit the perfect trifecta of using stash yarn, using library patterns, and eliminating any crafting-related guilt forever. Teehee. Right? 

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

mitt mania

My fingerless mitten mania continues. After I weighed my finished Rothko mitts, I was shocked to realize that they only used 48 grams of sock yarn. And then my mind started churning, since I have a tiny stash of sock leftovers that are right around 35-40ish grams ... and with a little creative color combining, that means I have the materials for many great pairs of mitts! So these use the same pattern as the Rothko mitts, but with the exception of me knitting them with a scale on hand to make sure I left an equal amount of yarn leftover for the second mitt. The yarn you may recognize as leftovers from both my rainbow socks and my grapevine crosshatch lace socks from several years ago. These were gifted to one of my knitting circle friends who is getting married and moving away and all kinds of exciting life changes. And yes, I already have another pair of these on the needles. I'm using up the rest of the fibre space club kit, just reversing the color order this time!

The second garter squish blanket is still growing, too. I'm about half-way done at this point. Still loving it, even though it looks soooo different than the first one I made! I'm quickly learning that when I'm tired and crazy busy, I find endless garter stitch and knitting stockinette in the round to be really, really soothing. As in, I totally crave it soothing. I have some socks that are in progress, but I keep finding myself reaching for this in progress garter squish blanket or casting on for yet another pair of fingerless mittens. It just feels soooo good to work on both right now. My unofficial goal is to finish this before the end of May, since I know that once the humidity really hits here my desire to work with a blanket will be zilch!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Love Your Library, vol. 11

Finally, a finish!! Too bad it's a pattern I acquired this year, so technically not a qualifier for this challenge, but then again--a success that I knit it within the same calendar year of acquiring it, correct? Ay yi yi.

Pattern: Slip-zag (link to my Ravelry project page)
Needles: size 10 Addi turbo's (one size larger than the pattern calls for)
Yarn: Malabrigo worsted in Apricot and Fuschia
Mods: I used an entire skein of fuschia, so that required me to stop the pattern earlier than called for on the Apricot-dominant side (used approximately 2/3 of the Apricot skein). Honestly, I love it even better this way. I like a good 1/3-2/3 division, I believe we learned this design principle as "the rule of 3s" in my old photography classes! This yarn is sooo buttery soft, it's just heavenly as a cowl and next to your skin! I was able to triple wrap this if I really needed to protect my neck from the cold, so this is a generous double-wrap.

How's your month going? I've temporarily lost the toy mojo I started this year with. That's okay, I'm sure it will return eventually!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

it's groooowing!

Look at this baby grow! Still obsessed with this project. It is just so addicting to see how fast it takes to move on to a new skein and color combination! I was worried it would be slower, since I went down a needle size this time (decided that the garter loops were a bit too loose on the first one, so went down to size 13 needles). Nope!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Love Your Library, vol. 10

Yikes. March was a big fat Love Your Library FAIL for me. I ended up not touching a single one of those gorgeous cowl patterns I listed at the beginning of the month. Nor have I touched my Palessie, either. That's all right. I will get to them this year. Eventually. I blame spring fever. I've been more focused on moving yardage out this past month with my garter squish stash-eating blankets, and getting distracted by new patterns. (it was bound to happen eventually!) Right now I have an intermediate, getting back-on-track goal of using the patterns I've purchased this year (and not letting them linger and then get lost in the black hole that is my library!). One of those patterns is slip-zag, a simple cowl pattern written for multiple weights of yarn. Think Mason-Dixon Knitting's ball-band dishrag pattern, but in yummy cowl version! It's knitting up SUPER fast so far, and is a dream using two color of Malabrigo Merino Worsted. Yummy!

How was your month?

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Friday, March 27, 2015

new fixation

 Mark Rothko (1903-1970), Untitled, 1953
  Mark Rothko (1903-1970), Untitled, 1953

This spring I joined my first ever yarn club, and while I was in the midst of snow-stomach bug-spring break mania my first shipment arrived!! The club I joined is through Fibre Space, a fantastic local yarn shop in the Washington D.C. area. I was attracted to this club because it is a collaboration between a newly discovered indie dyer I'm loving, Hazel Knits, with one of my favorite indie designers, Ann Weaver. The colors are all inspired by Mark Rothko paintings, so you can see why I was uber excited about this and signed up ASAP! Honestly, they probably would have had me at Hazel Knits and Ann Weaver, but what made this club particularly exciting to me was that they gave a great preview of the colors in advance so I knew it was something I would love. I've never signed up for any of these clubs before, since I hate the idea of paying a lot of money and ending up with yarn that I don't love. So this club was totally a win + win + win for me!

This month's project was fingerless mitts, and you can see that they very closely match the inspiration painting (above). I easily have  enough yarn to make a second pair out of the kit we got! I might just need to reverse the order of colors. Next month the project will be a cowl, so I'm curious to see if all the patterns will be colorblocked like this. The yarn is divine. I'm definitely adding Hazel Knits to my LOVE list, along with Miss Babs and Madtosh! And even better, it's dyed in Washington state, so it's nice to support a business in my home state. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

just as good the second time

Hmmm .... can you guess what this big 'ol pile of yarn is going to become? Two hints: you hold yarn double, and it blows through humongous amounts of stash. LOL, yes this a second garter squish blanket! After coming back from our spring break trip, I bounced around between several projects but didn't really get excited about anything until I organized my yarn/craft supplies that had exploded from their containers in our guest bedroom. I realized that I would be really really happy to empty (or nearly empty) the two huge 16 gallon storage tubs of my oldest stash: the acrylic yarns I started with. It's a lot of odd balls leftover from old projects, plus a lot of baby yarn that makes me question my taste/sanity when I originally purchased it. Based on what I've observed of other knitter's garter squish blankets, my favorite projects are those that have one color that is constant throughout. It really grounds the blanket and makes it look more purposeful and less hodge-podge. The other thing that is key for success is having at least one yarn color you really really love as a base to the project. So I purchased the two shades of blue Caron Simply Soft you see on the right above to serve as the "base" for this blanket. I've started off with the lighter blue held with a really pale green Vanna's Choice yarn. Already in love!