when your knitting stalls out ...

As I move near the finish line on a sweater that has been two years in the making (but could've been finished sooo much sooner) it's got me thinking about my ancient UFOs (knitting speak for "unfinished objects") and why they stalled out. I've pondered this idea before … when I realized that I knit striped projects soooo much faster than non-striped projects. I've come to realize that some projects by design have more natural momentum than others (e.g. striped projects). In those cases, the pattern has enough variety or is broken into sections that clearly show my progress or are otherwise just fun, addictive knits. Other times the project has momentum based on progress towards completion--the project reaches what I call the "tipping point" where you are sooo close to finishing that your motivation surges and you find yourself racing to the finish line. If the project hasn't reached the tipping point or isn't naturally fun/addictive, then the smallest little thing can get the project to stall out and be stuck in hibernation.


Right now I have three different sweater projects stuck in hibernation, two dating back to early 2017. One of the three is my yellow and raspberry striped sweater pictured above.  Luckily, it's back into the "tipping point" stage and should easily be finished this month. Sometimes stalling out on a project is perplexing even to myself. This one has stripes, which I find fun and addicting to knit. It's a pattern I've made before, so I'm not anxious about fit or whether it will "turn out." So why in the world would I stop working on a project like this one?
If I think back to all the times this has happened, some patterns emerge:
  • Something didn't turn out the way I hoped and my frustration sucked the joy from the project.
  • I'm worried I'm going to run out of yarn. 
  • I feel uncertain about my color choices and am questioning myself and whether I like how the project is looking.
  • I'm in a slow section of the project and just got bored. AND something else needed to get done and I got distracted and never returned to the project.
  • No external deadlines/commitments forcing me to push through my resistance.

And in this case, it was my fear of running out of yarn and my uncertainty over my sleeve color choices that completely killed my momentum on this project. Initially I thought a contrasting, yellows-only sleeve would be fun to pair with the stripes. But I was uncertain how I wanted to combine a variegated yellow and a solid yellow yarn. I knew I didn't have enough variegated to knit the sleeves entirely in it like I wanted to. When I picked this project back up this month, I quickly knit one sleeve and realized my fears of running out of yarn were unfounded. But then I just didn't like how it turned out. And this was after knitting two whole sleeves. Oy vey. So I knit my third sleeve this morning, making it striped. And just like the saying--the third time really was the charm. So I'll knit my fourth sleeve for this sweater this weekend and start finishing seams. 


What makes your projects stall out and get stuck in hibernation?

2019 year in review

I don't care if it's February, I'm keeping up with my tradition of reviewing "what I made last year." Oy vey. In my defense, December was filled with travel and hosting family. January was filled with illness. Now I'm feeling back to my normal self and I'm chomping at the bit to get making. Looking at the numbers, 2019 was a big jump back up in individual project numbers. But that included 21 hats and 10 ornaments, so those numbers are a bit inflated--which you can see in the measly 10,453 yards of yarn crafted in those 52 finished projects. Whereas 2018 was the year of the sweater, 2019 was the year of the shawl. I have never made more shawls in my life--seven shawls, four cowls, and four woven scarves. That's a lot of "neck things." 2019 was also the year I returned to making a significant contribution to my knitting guild's annual charity project--hats for homeless children in our local school district. It felt good to contribute 20 hats to that project, and it gave me some good crocheting practice. In 2019 I returned to colorwork knitting, which is something I truly love but somehow quit doing--my records show the last time I did stranded colorwork was in 2017 and before that 2014. Yikes.

A table tabulating the number of projects completed annually. 52 in 2019; 34 in 2018; 53 in 2017

10,453 yards in 2019; 14,215 yards in 2018; 11,252 yards in 2017; 23,548 yards in 2016; 26,425 yards in 2015; 11,282 yards in 2014
*2015 was the year I made three large blankets with yarn held double-stranded.



Collage of projects completed in January through March 2019
January - March 2019: 
one cowl, two woven scarves, one shawl, and one colorwork mitten project


Collage of projects completed in April through June 2019
April - June 2019:
This montage is deceptive--it creates the illusion that spring/early summer was my most productive season, but in fact December was. Simple crochet edgings on four fleece blankets, three more shawls, two cowls, and two more woven scarves.


Collage of projects completed in July through September 2019
July - September 2019:
Three shawls and one cowl. In hindsight I would have expected more output during this time, but the beginning of the school year is hectic and in 2019 was filled with weekend activities.


Collage of projects completed in October through December 2019
October - December 2019:
My most productive part of the year, with 10 ornaments and 21 hats finished. Also when I finished the project I'm most proud of last year--stranded colorwork mittens for my mom.


Now for the fun part … looking back at those crafting resolutions I made back in January 2019. This is going to be a bit painful.
  • Goal #1: Reduce, reduce, reduce my stash. My stash of yarn, my stash of fabric, my stash of crafting kits! RESULTS: Since I completely failed at Goal #2, not much progress here unfortunately. I did make a lot of things, but I also bought additional supplies to make those things.
  • Goal #2: String together at least six months of zero yarn purchases. RESULTS: Big fat nope!
  • Goal #3: Continue to knit sweaters for myself! Shooting for nine adult sweaters this year. I've already picked nine patterns that are at the top of my list! RESULTS: Not a single sweater sadly. Shawls took over!
  • Goal #4: Finish at least two quilts. RESULTS: WIN! I actually did this! I made two cute baby quilts: a very hungry caterpillar quilt and a forest creatures/lumberjack quilt. I made a TON of quilted finch bucket bags in 2019.
  • Goal #5: Expand my weaving skills. Try to make a wearable garment/vest! RESULTS: Nope. Kept on making scarves, lol!
  • Goal #6: Finish another big needlepoint project! RESULTS: Nope.
  • Goal #7: Crochet a sweater. RESULTS: Nope.
  • Goal #8: Crochet a toy. RESULTS: Nope.
  • Goal #9: Practice overdying yarn! (changing a yarn's color by dying it) RESULTS: Nope.
  • Goal #10: Blog more frequently and consistently. RESULTS: Nope.

What are my crafting goals for 2020?
  • Goal #1: Revive my love of knitting from my stash and "stashing down." I've already joined some Ravelry challenges and groups that are already doing this. 
  • Goal #2: The ratio of yarn out of stash to yarn purchases by the end of the year should be 3:1, as in yardage out will be three times more than yardage in. I'm not going to make any grand proclamations of not buying yarn this year, but I am determined to make a big dent in my stash this year. I've never tried using a ratio for this type of goal before, so this is an experiment. I've been "cold sheeping" (aka zero yarn purchases) since December now, which is what really helps.
  • Goal #3: Use more of my old stash. Enough said!
  • Goal #4: Weave more. Make a woven garment.
  • Goal #5: Learn something new. (like brioche or stacked stitches or crocheting toys)
  • Goal #6: Six sweaters this year. Ideally? My original #makenine from 2019, but we'll start small.
  • Goal #7: Learn something new in quilting/sewing. Quilting as you go, paper piecing.
  • Goal #8: Finish lingering things that are 99% done.
Looking forward to another productive and creative year! It's fun to look back at how my skills and design taste has evolved over the years. 

sunday's stitches, vol. 1 (2020 edition)

The trouble with being a multiple-craft-mode type person is that sometimes it's hard to stay present in all your crafts. Even though you love them and they bring you joy. That's been my struggle with my stitching crafts (cross-point, needlepoint, embroidery). They were my original craft. I still remember working on my first projects while riding in my Dad's truck because I was hooked and couldn't stop working on them (I even took them with me while camping and wood-cutting!). I still remember the feeling of entering those projects in the state fair each fall (looking up the categories of events in the catalogue, lining up to submit our entries, the combination of excitement and anxiety and trepidation of actually putting my creations out in the world for outsider judgment). I still remember working on them while working as a lifeguard in high school when I would rotate to the cash register and the joy of talking to our patrons about what I was currently working on (and their joy at seeing a young person cross-stitching).

But at some point, knitting caught my eye and full attention. And stitching crafts took a back seat. I went years without making a cross-stitch or needlepoint project. And then I realized how much I missed it. So I started purchasing kits again. But my "eyes are always bigger than my stomach" as they say when it comes to acquiring crafting project materials (ahem...) and since I have local friends that knit I had more a consistent knitting focus on a regular basis. Then in 2013 I made my first Sunday's stitches post. And suddenly my needlepoint was re-energized again (I still haven't finished the backstitch and embroidery to finish that horse project though … this year!).

But I was still stuck in unfinished project land. I had never finished a pillow-sized project before, and I think it just seemed unreachable. I had a cycle of getting excited, starting, getting distracted, then making the project dormant, then picking it back up out of guilt years later, then getting overwhelmed again. The first time I broke that cycle was when I finished a modern needlepoint pillow in 2018. What was the difference? I made that project the focus of my very-first 100 Day Project on Instagram. I didn't even hit a full 100 days, in fact, I only made it to 60. But that was enough to get me so close that I was able to finish later that year. And in a moment of wisdom, I forced myself to sew the project into a pillow immediately upon finishing instead of letting it wait in limbo-land forever.



So it was not without a little trepidation that I started this Christmas needlepoint project back on December 22. I told myself, "I'll start posting each week again, that worked before." And then I suddenly found myself in-between knitting projects, with no other projects or crafts to distract me. This needlepoint project was the relaxing, soothing balm I found myself pulled to over and over during the holiday break. My first strategy was to start with the edges, since they are nice little "do-able" rectangles and not too Christmas-y. I'd save the Santa for last, as I was assuming this project would take me until next December to finish. But then I found myself wanting to stitch in low-light, and I went ahead and started the light blue background area since it was easy to see and uncomplicated. I remembered how much large sections of one color stall me out, since they are boring. I figured I'd do a little bit in between working on the edges, so I didn't have a huge chunk to finish at the end. Before I knew it, I had caught up to where I was on the edging border. And then I decided I didn't want to wait to make the Santa--in fact, it would be smarter to do the Santa at the beginning when I'm motivated (since it's a harder section). Now I'm thinking I should leave the border for last, since it's small and fun and will be quick to finish right when I need a little push.

But honestly with how fast and fun this one is, I don't think I'll need a little push. I am merrily zipping along! And I'm keeping notes--this may be my magical combination for successful needlepoint finishes. Starting with the "boring" and "hard" things first, leaving the fast and fun things for last.



2018 crafting year in review



2018 was the year of sweaters, weaving, and crocheting borders to make fleece blankets! By the numbers, this was a low project count year. But since the projects were largely sweaters, yardage output increased from 2017.



*2015 was the year I made three large blankets with yarn held double-stranded.


So how did I do on those crafting resolutions I set back in January 2018? Welp, this year it's a little laughable. Pretty much the only goal I would count myself as "successful" on was making sweaters. That's okay. There's always another year! I couldn't anticipate that I would decide to get a loom mid-way through the year and be distracted by learning to weave, along with a punch needle to play with! The charity I had primarily been knitting for in the past also declined new donations, so that pretty much killed my charity crafting mojo for the year. Sewing sadly just fell by the wayside until I started making finch bucket bags at the end of the year (I definitely anticipate making a bunch more in 2019!). 

2018 Crafting Resolutions:
  • Goal #1: Going for year three of ZERO yarn purchases. RESULTS: hahahahahahaha. Big fat NOPE. Made it until February 10, when I purchased yarn to make a new school-uniform-compliant sweater for my daughter. Not sad I slid off the wagon for her … but probably should have restrained myself better for the rest of the year! But I'm not regretting a single yarn purchase. It's all awesome stuff and I hadn't bought a single yard for TWO YEARS straight.
  • Goal #2: Knit twelve sweaters. RESULTS: 10!!! Sooo close! And yes, I am counting baby sweaters! Officially I knit one doll-sized sweater, three baby sweaters, one child sweater, and five finished adult-sized sweaters for myself. I have the sleeves left on one more sweater, so allllmost 11 sweaters finished. I made this stretch goal never really thinking I'd get this close, so I'm celebrating this as a win! Normally I would average one baby or kid-sized sweater a year. And NEVER make adult-sized sweaters. I knit ONE sweater for myself in 2017, and before that the last time I'd made an adult-sized sweater was 2011. In fact, I'd knit a grand total of four sweaters for myself prior to 2018. Wowza.
  • Goal #3: Make 18 hats for charity. RESULTS: Nada. Not a single charity project this year. Kind of sad about that, but I'd churned out so many the previous two years I was a bit burned out. And my favorite charity didn't want/need new donations as I mentioned earlier, so … 
  • Goal #4: Sew one project every month. RESULTS: Didn't do a good job tracking this on the blog, but thanks to Instagram I know I sewed in April (adorable baby monogram quilt with tutorial), May (progress on king-sized Christmas quilt), September (sewed my needlepoint project into a finished pillow), October (made my first finch bucket bag), November (made a bajillion more finch bucket bags as gifts), and December (sewed a puppet theatre for the kids). That's six months out of the year--I'll take it! 
  • Goal #5: Devote weekly time to needlepoint/cross-stitch projects. RESULTS: This goal was successful in the first half of the year--I even started a "100dayproject" challenge on Instagram to help spur me along. I was consistent until May, and then summer travels stopped the habit. This really worked to get me to finish my triangles needlepoint project, and I even sewed it into a pillow. But after that big finish I stopped stitching for the rest of the year after that.
  • Goal #6: Learn how to crochet toys! RESULTS: Not this year. Still on my list of things I'd love to try!
  • Goal #7: Dye my own self-striping yarn. RESULTS: Not this year. Still on my list of things I'd love to try!
  • Goal #8: Continue my Love Your Library project! RESULTS: It depends on what I count as a pattern from "my library." Technically I would say six out of the 34 projects I finished were made using patterns in my library that I owned prior to 2018. But the grey area are the crocheted blankets I whipped out in December for gifts: I made 10 of those, and I learned out to make them in 2016 and used the same instructions. But let's face it--this year I just did basic single crochet, not some fancy edging pattern. So I'm sticking with counting six projects toward this goal for 2018, which is 17% of my finished projects. 
What do I want to accomplish in 2019? My theme for this year is ACTION. I'm a dreamer, and I can spend oodles upon oodles of time planning and dreaming all the things I intend to do. I purchase supplies the same way: with all kinds of INTENTIONS. This year I'm focusing on FOLLOWING THROUGH on my INTENTIONS with ACTION. With this in mind, I'm planning on crafting using supplies in my stash as much as possible. Based on this theme, these are my goals for 2019:
  • Goal #1: Reduce, reduce, reduce my stash. My stash of yarn, my stash of fabric, my stash of crafting kits!
  • Goal #2: String together at least six months of zero yarn purchases.
  • Goal #3: Continue to knit sweaters for myself! Shooting for nine adult sweaters this year. I've already picked nine patterns that are at the top of my list!
  • Goal #4: Finish at least two quilts. The first one that won't take much work is the Christmas quilt I almost finished in 2018. The second is a national park themed quilt for our Airstream that I've been planning in my head for the past four months now!
  • Goal #5: Expand my weaving skills. Try to make a wearable garment/vest!
  • Goal #6: Finish another big needlepoint project!
  • Goal #7: Crochet a sweater.
  • Goal #8: Crochet a toy.
  • Goal #9: Practice overdying yarn! (changing a yarn's color by dying it)
  • Goal #10: Blog more frequently and consistently. Frankly, I've missed it!
What are you resolving to do in 2019 with your crafting/making?

summer finishes: 12 sweaters in 2018, sweater #4

Now I'm officially ready for Mississippi State University's women's basketball season! (that's when I'll finally want to wear this one, lol!) This sweater was finished in May, but I only took photos in July! Ooof. It's my second Carbeth Cardigan, and I adore it as much as my first. My favorite detail is the neckline at the back of the sweater (see below).


Yarn: Malabrigo Mecha (colorway: Jupiter) used 7.06 skeins = 918.8 yards
Needles: Size 10.5 for body, size 9 for ribbing. Addi Turbo's.
Mods: Added four inches in length to the body below the underarms (knit for 12" instead of the 8" pattern called for).


on my needles: two sweaters and a sock


I blinked and summer disappeared! But I never stopped making, so prepare yourself: it'll be an onslaught of catch up posts this week. But first things first--what am I working on now? Two sweaters and a pair of socks.

Current Project #1: aki sweater 


This sweater is a test knit for Ambah O'Brien, and it is divine. Two strands of lace weight yarn are held together: one is merino, the other a mohair/silk blend. Feels like a fluffy cloud! I'm using Spirit Trail Fiberworks in Clotho (colorway: pinkie tuscadero) combined with Hedgehog Fibres Kidsilk Lace (colorway: pinky swear). This photo doesn't do the Hedgehog Fibres yarn justice, it is gorgeous! Here's a sneak peek at the finished sweater pattern, which will be released in September.

Current Project #2: school day socks


These are my go-to toe-up socks for my daughter! She requested new socks, and I'd love to make socks for the first day of school a new tradition. This is a new-to-me self-striping indie dyer, Lori Wilson at the Yarn Jar. This is her "Belle" colorway and it just makes me happy! As for the pattern, these are vanilla toe-up socks. I'm using Wendy Johnson's serpentine sock pattern without the stitch pattern since the numbers work for my daughter's foot.

 Current Project #3: octopus garden stripey sweater


Now this one is embarrassing--I really should have finished this sweater before we commenced with an epic road trip in July. I stalled out once I realized I needed to rip this sleeve out and start over. Pattern is Veera's square and stripe pullover, and so far the fit is perfect. This will become a go-to base pattern I'm sure. Yarn is Long Dog Yarn Merino DK in the octopus garden colorway, along with Mary Maxim Mellowspun DK for the stripes. This I'll be able to finish quickly once I'm done with the first day of school socks!

addicted to stripes


What is it about knitting stripes that is so addicting? Socks that I knit with self-striping yarn fly off my needles, while non-striping socks will linger in unfinished limbo for years. This is my first sweater that has a regular striping pattern, and I'm finding myself feeling that self-striping sock deja vu all over again. Internally I'm chanting "one more stripe, one more stripe" as I knit. And I'm drawn to this project like a moth to flame--when I see it sitting on the table the project sings to me like a siren. I want to work on it in a way I haven't felt toward my knitting in quite some time. "Just one stripe, just one stripe" I tell myself when really I should be working on something else. 

Why? 

Yes, I love this yarn. This yarn is indie-dyed and much coveted by me. It's deliciously speckled Merino DK by Long Dog Yarns in the colorway Octopus Garden. This picture does not do it justice--imagine oceanic turquoise, with spots of periwinkle and deep ocean blues mixed with lavenders and lilacs. Oh, and a sprinkle of neon green here and there to mix things up. I have coveted this yarn for two whole years while I was on a strict no-yarn-purchases diet. It was one of the first things I bought when I fell off the wagon this year. 

And yes, I love the interplay of the colors I chose for my stripes. I found the perfect periwinkle blue and lilac yarn in my stash for the stripe section. Not only are the colors perfect, but they were from my late grandmother's stash and that adds a level of sentimentality to incorporating them into the project.

But the real reason I find striping projects so dang addicting? I suspect that it is the internal progress marker of achieving another micro-goal every time I finish a stripe. Like getting a sticker for good behavior, I see that stripe and think, "look what I did!" And I can count the stripes and visually see that I'm making progress. And I feel myself knitting faster as I see that stripe count grow … 

We'll see how fast this sweater finishes. This may be a new personal record for me. Are you as addicted to knitting projects with stripes as I am?




#100dayproject stitching


It never ceases to amaze me how quickly slow, daily progress adds up. Last Wednesday I posted an update on my #100dayproject stitching. And here's where I stand as of Sunday morning this week--all that empty space you see below? That's all that remains! Seriously! Which I am floored by, because I started this project a year ago last May. And in less than two months of stitching a teeny tiny bit everyday I am almost finished. Which is good, because I have an even older needlepoint I stalled out on that I need to finish next! I'm racing to finish this by the end of May, but hopefully by the end of this week!


catch up

With the semester over and one week until public schools let out, summer is rapidly approaching here in Mississippi (it even feels like it with 90+ degree temps lately!). The prospect of summer means time to try new things, to dive head first into new crafts, and to set outrageously lofty goals for crafting. Basically, I want to make.all.the.things! Those who know me well will not be shocked by this at all. I've been so busy jumping right into my normal summer crafting mania that I've done a bad job of documenting my creations!


I'm still plugging away on my crazy stretch goal of knitting 12 sweaters this year. I'm about half-way finished with sweater #4. Does it look familiar? It should, since I'm making a second Carbeth Cardigan in a dark maroon color.

I've been faithfully stitching a little bit everyday, continuing my #100dayproject goal of stitching for 100 days consecutively. I've been making good progress on a large needlepoint project I started in May 2017 and I also finished an adorable bee embroidery (below) for an end-of-the-year teacher present.


Last Wednesday I took a weaving class, and dove head first into a new hobby. We wove hand towels in the class. I still need to finish knotting the ends and then complete the finishing process. I can definitely feel myself falling hard for this new craft!



And the other new craft I'm diving into is using a punch needle! I have the Amy Oxford punch needle, which I first learned about on Instagram. It looked like a fun way to use up stash yarn--so far it has been a delight!


Anyone else have craaaazy goals they hope to achieve this summer? I know I'm not the only one!

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when your knitting stalls out ...

As I move near the finish line on a sweater that has been two years in the making (but could've been finished sooo much sooner ) it'...