2014 Year End Review

Wow, what a year 2014 has been! I just can't resist making these montages of everything that was completed this year--and clearly I was productive, because I've never had to make this many before!

  1. Swedish Fish mitts
  2. geek girl mitts
  3. koolhaas hat
  4. stripey socks #1
  5. stripey socks #2
  6. cowgirl cowl
  7. give 'em the slip mitts

My Ravellenic Games finishes!

17. squirrel dish cloth
18. apple dish cloth
21. bitty bot

39. luuk I

44. luuk II

And the grand total is ....

Phew! That was a lot! And looking at the numbers, it really was my most productive knitting year to date! I nearly doubled the yardage I knit, and subsequently had a big jump in number of finished projects as well! Which really isn't all that surprising when you take a look at all the hats, mitts, and accessories I knitted this year.

Now for the moment of truth--how did I do on the resolutions I set for myself back last January? My 2014 knitting resolutions were to: 
  • Goal #1: Knit down my stash. Results? MIXED. I knit more yardage than I ever have before, and I successfully maintained a six-month stretch with ZERO yarn purchases (wahoo!!) ... BUT I made a lot of yarn purchases in the first six months of 2014. I never did the painful calculations, but I would guess that my stash grew this year despite my productivity and yarn dieting.
  • Goal #2: Finish, frog, or otherwise eliminate my current WIPs.  Results? Big fat FAIL on this one! LOL!
  • Goal #3: Continue my Love Your Library project! Results? MIXED. In total, I knit six projects from books currently in my library. I ended up taking advantage of a lot of amazing free patterns this year, but I still struggle in knitting from my vast library of pattern books.
So what am I thinking about for 2015? My biggest goal for 2015 is a net reduction in my stash size. To that end, I'll be starting another super strict yarn diet tomorrow (another six monther!) and am excited to start working on some "big" projects--I have two blanket quantities of yarn sitting in my stash that I'd like to knit up, for example. And possibly some sweaters.  My goal is to consume 100 skeins this year--I'm participating in a challenge that counts partial skeins as a "skein" so this will be easier done that it sounds (and with the added benefit of encouraging me to knit up scraps and pesky remainders!). And despite my failure with Goal #2 in 2014, I'm going to continue in that vein again in 2015. I use a coat rack in my dining room to store works-in-progress in project bags, and frankly the thing is protruding with how many bags are piled on it! So I'm thinking that I will deal with one bag a month, and slowly whittle the coat rack down to a less embarrassing size.  Finally, I plan to continue my Love Your Library challenge, but with a twist. I've been accumulating knitted toy books like no other--and despite my love of knitting toys, I have only knit a handful of patterns. So in 2015 I'm going to work my way through a handful of the toy books in my stash. I think the small size of the toys will make this less intimidating, and the focus of staying within a handful of books will be helpful for me. So in short, my knitting resolutions for 2015 are the same as 2014 just with little revisions of focus:
  • Goal #1: Knit down my stash.
  • Goal #2: Finish, frog, or otherwise eliminate my current WIPs.
  • Goal #3: Continue my Love Your Library project!
If you'd like to join in on the 2015 Love Your Library challenge, come back tomorrow! I'll post more specific details and reveal the books I will knit from throughout the year. Happy New Year!

Christmas finish: minion mayhem!

Have you recovered from all your Christmas gift knitting yet? I have one last minute finish I can now show off--another minion! This little guy was finished at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Christmas day--with the recipient to receive it the next day! If you compare this guy to the first minion I made in 2013, he's much taller and narrower. And in my opinion, more accurate in terms of looking like a minion. What a difference gauge makes! I used some yellow Lion Brand Wool I had in my stash, and despite using the same needles (size 6) this guy turned out more lean than the first. It also probably helps that I was more purposeful with stuffing him to maintain that shape, as well. The other modification I made this time was to pick up stitches and actually knit a bib front and back (instead of using duplicate stitch) and i-cord for the should straps. This approach looks soooo much better than duplicate stitch I think. The other mod I made was accidental--I totally forgot to cast on 10 new stitches after moving the arm stitches to waste yarn while making the body. Sooo.... the arms are about six inches smaller in diameter than the pattern calls for. I like this accidental mod! I wasn't super happy with how chunky my first minion's arms were.

So in short, I love how this turned out! If I ever make a third minion, then I'll probably repeat these "accidental" modifications! For more specific details about yarn and quantities, you can find them on my Ravelry project page. And the final verdict? My nephew, the recipient, went crazy and carried this guy around the entire Christmas party. Success! Now onto some selfish stitching....

fun frosty washcloth

How's your Christmas knitting going? I'm surprisingly ahead of the game for once--but it helps that I was not ambitious at all this year! I always like to send something handmade to my Grandma, as she is 200% knitworthy and one of my crafterly role models. This year I was indecisive, which meant something big was off the table. Earlier this year, I made some cute mosaic stitch (slip-stitch colorwork) wash cloths that she liked. And an idea was born. I found this cute frosty the snowman pattern, and away I went! Being thrifty, I used up some color-changing cotton I already had in my stash. I like the effect, but the face would show up better in a solid. Final verdict? Another fun, fast, good last-minute gift pattern!

Pattern: Frosty's Cloth by Becky Curran (link to my Ravelry project page)
Needles: Size 7 Addi Turbo's
Yarn: Lily Sugar 'n Cream Stripes (colorway: country stripes, used approx. 1/3 skein) and mystery cone of white cotton
Mods: None!

Christmas baking has begun as well ... here's my first batch of yummy candy. Pretzels + rolos, melted for about two minutes in the oven, then squished with an M&M on top. Can become "turtles" if you use a pecan half instead of an M&M ... YUM!


Finally, some finishes! It's been awhile since I posted on a FO Friday! Above you'll find my finished sidewinder hat for my husband. This was a fast, fun knit and has sat for over a week waiting for me to seam the very top of the hat and weave in ends. It was fun to knit something flat for once--this pattern uses short rows to create the "decreases" at the crown. This is a perfect "manly" hat pattern--I will definitely make this one again! 

Needles: size 7 Addi Turbo's
Yarn: Berocco Ultra Alpaca and Knit Picks Bare DK (dyed jet black by moi). Used about 1/2 a skein each!

But wait--there's more! I finished two needlepoint ornaments in the past couple of weeks as well. Now I need to put up the tree ...

Six months strong!

I did it! I did it! I did it! I pledged to not buy yarn until January 1, 2015 so I'm sticking to that pledge ... but after that all bets are off. I think an achievement this big deserves a reward! But don't worry, I haven't worked this hard to undo all my hard work in one fell swoop.  :)

mr. roboto sweater

A finish! We've already been wearing the heck out of this one. It's nice and long and roomy, so with any luck we'll get two years of use out of this sweater! The robot buttons are my favorite detail.

Pattern: Kinsale by Terri Kruse (link to my Ravelry project page)
Needles: Size 8s
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal Worsted in the Thunderhead colorway (used about 2.33 skeins for the 4T size)
Mods: None! Super straightforward and fast knit!

my cheater string quilt

I mentioned awhile back that I had a quilt top in progress that had yet to be documented here on the ol' blog-o .... ta da! Here it is! This is based off a Moda Bake Shop tutorial for using jelly rolls to make a string quilt. String quilts are something I've admired for years now, so I'm super super happy to be working on this project. The jelly rolls I'm using are from the "Spring House" line of yarn from Moda. Love, love, love these colors. Lots of turquoise blues, yellows, pinks, and greens. Super happy colors. Definitely a spring feeling to it all. This quilt is for my bedroom, which means it's king-sized. I know I will regret this fact when I attempt to machine quilt it. It has been nearly six years since I made a king-sized quilt, so there you go. So far I've used three jelly rolls of the prints, and 1.5 of the white (Kona cotton in Snow? I need to double-check that). I haven't measured to see how much additional border I'll need to get the desired overall size. For now, this project is getting packed up and put on hold so I can regain use of the dining room table with holidays + company arriving soon. To be continued!

feeling festive

I'm in complete denial that in about a week we will be feasting for Thanksgiving. Where in the world did November go? Sometimes I swear that we enter a strange time vacuum on Halloween and don't re-emerge until after the new year ... while I may want to deny the passage of time, my crafting is 100% starting to get into the holiday spirit!

I've been in the mood to do some needlepoint for ages now, and when I spotted these adorable needlepoint ornament kits on Etsy I couldn't resist. These are going to go fast! Sooo addictive and fun!

Other signs that the holidays are upon us ....

 My Christmas cactus is starting to show buds!

 Gift knitting in progress. (shh! I'm bound and determined to make a hat for my husband this year...)

 A going-away present for a sister who got a new job ...

And a test-knit sweater for me, me, me. 

So in other words, it's chronic cast-on-itis like usual around here! :-D

minion mayem for your ipad

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I'd share a little "trick." Why yes, I knit a minion earlier this month ... or is it?

Ta da! It's an iPad cover. This project is a mashup of the Stana Sorter's free minion tablet cover pattern and the facial features from the previous minion softie pattern I knit. I just liked that duplicate stitch mouth and eye so much better! This was a fun, fast one. My only complaint is that even with the applied i-cord edging, the bottom of the opening still rolls quite a bit (notice my hand holding it down in the picture above). But that's not a problem once the cover is actually closed.

Pattern: Stana Sorter's minion tablet cover, free pattern! (link to my Ravelry project page)
Needles: size 6, magic looped
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool, less than 1/2 skein each in Cadet Blue and Goldenrod

Hope your Halloween is only full of treats, and no tricks!

blocking is magic, part five


I never get tired of blocking. I swear, the minute the water hits the wool the magic begins. I should've taken "before" dimensions, because this baby grew. A ton. This is the prettiest sock yarn shawl I've made so far--the border lace is my favorite by far. Every time I knit with Sweet Georgia yarn I fall even more in love with it!

Yarn: Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock (colorway: Cayenne)
Needles: Size 4s
Mods: None! Will definitely make this pattern again! 

test knit: funky frank loop

A finish to officially end my doldrums! This is the test knit I've been working on this month for designer Ela Torrente--- what a great pattern it turned out to be! Two skeins of Malabrigo worsted (yum!), awesome slipped stitch cables (swoon!), and the pattern teaches you how cross these simple cables without a cable needle (wahoo!). It forced me to officially learn how to purl through the back loop, and a lot of knitting into the second stitch instead of the first stitch on your left hand needle to reverse the stitch order. Easier than it sounds, I promise! 

Pattern: Funky Frank Loop (link to designer's project page)
Needles: size 8s
Yarn: two skeins of Malabrigo Worsted in the Hollyhock colorway
Mods: I knit three more cable repeats than the pattern originally called for to better use the entirety of my two skeins. It also bought me an additional six-ish inches of length to make for a roomier double-wrap.

the tipping point: when your project becomes addictive

So this weekend was the cure my fall doldrums needed. Shortly after my last (whiny) post, I started to focus solely on the cowl pattern I've been test knitting this month. Suddenly, the number of repeats was getting smaller ... and smaller ... and it made me think about that moment in your project when suddenly, before you know it, the end is in sight. And if you're like me, you get a second wind and you feel re-energized. A project that used to bore you to tears is exciting again--no, more than that--it's become addictive. You can't stop working on it. All you want to do is work on it. And you feel amazing, riding this huge wave of project-success-induced momentum. Am I the only one who feels this way at the end of a project? For lack of a better term, it feels like you hit a tipping point of sorts. Up until I reach it, I tend to feel demoralized because the project feels like it. will. never. end. Clearly, I enjoy the excitement of the promise of a new project--otherwise I wouldn't have a current number of abandoned WIPs that reaches the double digits! After the initial excitement fades, I lose some interest until I reach this tipping point and I get excited by the prospect of having the yummy finished object to wear/love/enjoy.

What was amazing about this weekend was that all my projects reached tipping point status. I finished knitting and blocked the pieces of my test knit cowl:

I got past the mid-way point knitting the last border section of my Ardor shawl:

And I finished piecing and cutting the last set of quilt blocks I need to (hopefully!) finish my quilt top:

fall doldrums?

These make me wish I could crochet! Craftsy Pattern Here

The blog has been quiet this month, but that's not for lack of activity here. More like lack of focus, lack of finishing. That frustrating feeling of not being able to get anything done. I'm inching closer to "done" on lots of things, but that's the real problem--I've got too much started right now. 

Case in point:
  1. At least 75% done on my knit night scarf, which I started in September as part of a KAL.
  2. Down to the very last lace border portion of Ardor (really only 1/3 of the entire project left to finish).
  3. Mid-way through a quilt top that has yet to be documented on the blog so far.
  4. Started a cowl test knit earlier in October out of Malabrigo worsted that is super yummy to knit so far. Approximately 8 pattern repeats left to knit before blocking and seaming up can occur.
  5. Knit a minion iPad cover earlier this month as a gift (one finish! yay, deadlines!)
Funnily enough, the (seemingly) millions of simultaneous WIPs is my normal protocol--but I think because a couple of these projects have self-imposed deadlines on them they are hanging more heavily over my head. Add to the mix that we've had more weekend-filling activities than normal this month (Go MSU Bulldogs! Woo, home football games!), and I've had less weekend knitting time. I feel a little silly feeling whiny about this--give me some more time and I'll have this stuff finished before I know it. And then I'll feel happy and productive again. I tallied up my yardage for the year so far, and was shocked to realize that I've knit over 12,000 yards already for the year (way above my normal yardage). So maybe I should cut myself a little slack!

FO Friday: Bergen Street Tuque

Lately I've been in a "bright" phase ... well, more like SHOCKING NEON (have you seen MadTosh's new colorway, "fluoro rose"? I want some.so.bad!). I was gifted this gorgeous hand-dyed Malabrigo-look-alike in a swap I participated in this summer, and knew right away it needed to be a hat for me. For me, the best hats are squishy, warm, and generously cover my ears. This pattern hits all three requirements! It is a bit "tall," so next time I would probably knit one less inch of the ribbing. And I have a big noggin, so I dutifully knit the larger size--but I think the smaller size would've been just fine. My favorite part of the pattern? How pretty the crown decreases are:

 I'm definitely knitting this pattern again, with some of my Malabrigo worsted stash!

Pattern: Bergen Street Tuque (link to my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: mystery Malabrigo worsted look-alike
Needles: Size 8s, magic loop
Mods: None!

120 days strong

The next badge I can earn is six months ... I can do it! I never thought I could make it this long--now I really truly believe I can make it to the six month point.

WIP Wednesday: Ardor Shawlette

It's the first day of October, but we have been in full-on Halloween mode for at least two weeks here. We hit the local pumpkin patch on opening weekend, and since then little bits of Halloween have popped up throughout the house. My Halloween knitting project bags are out, I'm knitting with fall colors, pumpkins are stacked decoratively by the front door, my pumpkin shaped candles are out--the only thing that hasn't emerged is our collection of totally tacky skeletons, graveyard, and cobwebs. We'll wait a couple more weekends to set that out. ;-D

I'm working on Ardor right now, and the gorgeous pumpkin-esque yarn? That's Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in the "cayenne" colorway. Yummy and scrummy! This is only my second time knitting with Tough Love Sock, and wow--I love it! I'm excited, because I'm finally done with the garter stitch--now I get to proceed to the lace border. I'll cast off the long top edge, and then pick up and knit to start the lacy border.

stashbusting slippers

Since my last pair of simple slippers using Manos Wool Clasica turned out so well, I decided to use up the rest of my wool clasica stash on a second pair. No more thick and thin yarn for me--phew! It feels good to put such nice yarn to use, as well.  Exact same pattern, needles, and yarn as last time--just new colorway! Super squishy coziness. Now I just need the temperatures to drop so I actually want to wear these!

going hatty

You're not crazy--you have seen this hat before. It's Luuk, which has become my go-to kid and baby hat pattern. It's free, fast, easy and fun. My favorite part is the bobble on top! Adorbs! These were knit earlier this month, when our entire family was afflicted with a gnarly new-school-year cold that was making the rounds across Starkville. I'm amazed I was even able to finish these hats, considering how bad it wiped us out. The top hat is for my daughter (knit from Lion Brand Amazing, a color-changing acrylic) and the bottom for my son (knit from Miss Babs Yummy Worsted in the "forest afternoon" colorway). I feel somewhat "eh" about the hat in Miss Babs. I loved the yarn, but in this pattern it looks funky. I love this hat so much better in yarns with a halo (or fuzz!) to them like the Lion Brand.  I have more Lion Brand Amazing stashed in "boyish" colors, so I may eventually make a new one and donate this one to charity. Or not. We'll see ...

super simple slippers

Ever have a yarn languish in your stash because you're just not sure to what to do with it? That was the plight of four skeins of Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica that I had purchased several years ago at my favorite LYS in Jackson, Mississippi. I was drawn to the gorgeous variegated colors and yummy fiber, but the wooliness of the yarn gave me pause the longer I lived in our humid Mississippi climate. It just wasn't yarn that I wanted next to my neck (makes me sweat thinking about it!) and the thick and thin nature of the yarn put me off most of my go-to patterns. So the poor skeins sat untouched for quite some time ... then for whatever reason I started looking at slipper patterns for potential Christmas knitting this year. And ta-da! Someone had made a gorgeous pair of slippers using this exact yarn in the exact colorway. And then I knew exactly what to do with it! Nothing makes me happier then finally finding a yarn's purpose!

I ended up using a different slipper pattern than the original inspiration, but I love these just as much! This is a free pattern, which is written to be knit flat and seamed. Given my despise of seaming, I instead knit the ribbed cuffs in the round, and switched to flat knitting for the foot (since I equally loathe knitting garter stitch in the round). After knitting the cuffs you knit the top of the foot by itself, and then pick up stitches around its edge to knit the sole. Then I did a three-needle bind-off to close the bottom of the foot, leaving only 1.5 inches of the back of the heel to actually seam. Yippee! They are soft, cushy, and totally dreamy. This pair I'm claiming for myself--they are such a treat to wear--but already have a second pair started in my remaining Manos (a yummy red) to be gifted away.

Pattern: Nola's slipper pattern, a freebie (scroll to the bottom for a link to the pdf)! (link to my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica (used about 1.5 skeins)
Needles: size 8
Mods: Pattern is written with yarn held double to make a man-sized slipper. To fit a size 9 women’s foot, I used aran weight yarn (held single, not doubled) and size 8 needles. Otherwise followed pattern exactly!

feeling ducky

It's been awhile since I've finished a project that utilized my ever-growing and typically ignored pattern library (remember the Love Your Library challenge?), but for once I opened one of my books and knit something! These are some duck feet baby booties for one of my expecting knitting friends--I've been dying to knit them forever so it was fun to finally get to. This is the second pattern I've knit from the book Cute Knits for Baby Feet (the other: my snake socksss). Such a fun book! And now I'm officially caught up on all my August knitting progress.

Pattern: Quack! (link to my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted ("sunshine," used about half a skein)
Needles: Size 6 dpn's
Mods: None!

nalu mitts

Another late August finish!
Pattern: Nalu Mitts, another freebie! (link to my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: String Theory Merino DK (in the Radiant Orchid colorway, less than half a skein)
Needles: Size 3s
Mods: NONE! Super super fast knit. Would be perfect for last minute gift knitting. The traveling twisted stitches keep it interesting, and the rest is easy peasy. Ended up using a locking stitch marker for my "cable needle" and that worked out perfectly!

rainbow brite mitts

I was knitting faster than blogging last month, so I've got a bunch of finished projects to show off! Fingerless mittens have become one of my favorite ways to use a treasured skein of sock yarn. Who wants to hide this awesome rainbow goodness under shoes and pants? At first I wasn't totally in love with the light blue "sky" portions of this self-striper, but now I can see that it really helps set off the rainbow and make the rainbow "pop." Totally in love with these ... so comfy and slouchy! Now I have to wait for cooler temps to put them to use!

Pattern: Graffiti on the Metro, a freebie! (link to my Ravelry project page)
Yarn: White Birch Fiber Arts "Nothing Says Screw You Like a Rainbow"
Needles: Size 2.5s
Mods:  Didn’t switch to smaller needles at the gusset. Instead, followed instructions and then decreased three stitches after putting the thumb stitches on waste yarn.

knit night KAL

 Monday morning

Monday was a flurry of garter stitch ... I signed up for another knit-a-long this month, and made some super speedy progress over the holiday weekend. The pattern is "knit night" by Louise Zass-Bangham.You may recognize this yarn ... if you read this blog three years ago! That's right, this is the Claudia Handpainted that I picked up from a trip to St. Louis back in 2011. (so far I've knit up the Malabrigo, but the Colinette Jitterbug still remains in stash as well ... eep!) I've loved this yarn (colorway: turquoise jeans) since I laid eyes on it. But it lingered in my stash since I routinely fall in and out of love with knitting socks ... and I am not a huge fan of crazy variegated yarns for socks ... and only this year have I really got into making other stuff with my fingering weight stash like cowls, shawlettes, and fingerless mitts. Soo .... long story short, I'm really excited to finally be using this super yummy yarn! Garter stitch is always a favorite of mine, but especially for crazy variegated yarns like this. This pattern truly is perfect for working on during knit nights with your friends, too. You make a picot by casting on some, then casting off some at the beginning of each row, then knit across. No counting! Easy peasy! This is knit on size 5 needles, so it has a nice squishy drapey feel. Sooo in love! This one is already half done, so don't be surprised to see a finished object post soon!

Monday evening!

2021 year in review

  Who would have thought that the second year of a pandemic would be worst than the first, in terms of crafting mojo? Not I. But this chart ...