Taking Stock

Here it is, August 29th and I am sitting in my bed at 8:20 on a Monday morning and just feeling happy, sad and grateful.  After 8 weeks basically non-stop chaos, craziness, stress, love and light, I'm done camp for the summer.  For the next couple of weeks I will be cleaning up and packing up camp and then it's back to the real world.  Of course that's not to say that what happened at camp isn't real, it's just that there is no way of explaining it to someone who wasn't there.  Trying to explain why Cowboys vs. Baboons made such a great theme day is futile, but know that I had a smile on my face during each one of those skits.

This was very funny at the time, so funny that I took a picture of it, however I have no idea what it means right now.  Which is very much the truth of camp. 

This was very funny at the time, so funny that I took a picture of it, however I have no idea what it means right now.  Which is very much the truth of camp. 

One thing I didn't do much of this summer is knit, or make in any way.  During the quiet weekend between week 6 and 7 (around mid-August, I'm not great with exact dates during camp) I started a fingering weight mitered square blanket and it was the best knitting I had all summer.  It was so wonderfully bite sized and all the colors and textures was really interesting to the kids.


It does mean that Henry (my darling nephew) turned 1 yesterday without a hand knit birthday gift, however I don't think he noticed! 

So I'm taking about 10 days of slow reintroduction, I'm going to be up at camp getting the closing chores done, completing my end of season paperwork and also working on a whole pile of knitting. Hopefully, I will finish up Jim's birthday socks (his birthday was back in January!).

2016 and Looking Forward

Here we are, just a few days into 2016 and it feels like I've been here for ages.  Although that may have more to do with the fact that my brain has been working on the 2016 camp season since mid-October than the calendar itself, however it is actually the new year and it's time to think about what I want out of my making for 2016.

I did a longer blog on my personal page about my personal goals for the year but my crafting goals are going to follow a similar vein, of figuring out how to improve what I'm already doing.

So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2016.

Make More!
Over the summer and into the fall my life took up a tempo I haven't experienced since grad school, with stuff going on all the time. So when I actually had down time I would veg in front of the television, and didn't make very much (although I did make up for that with some manic knitting binges).  When I'm most tired is when I need knitting the most, because it makes me feel better. So this goal is about making sure I make the right choices to managed my stress with making.

Consume Less!
And by that I mean consume less of the knitting/crafting/making social media.  Over the summer I went on an unintentional social media diet, consuming only what I could get quickly and on my phone and Instagram was the clear winner and I was relieved to not have to keep up with Twitter.  So my goal for this year is to spend less time trying to keep up with all the latest and greatest, and just work on enjoying what I enjoy, some blogs, Ply Magazine, Instagram, and forgetting about the rest. 

Keep Blogging!
This summer really threw me for a loop, and while I kept drafting posts, I never sent them.  And I missed sharing with you folks out there and so I'm wanting to make a commitment to do my best to keep on top of blogging.

For 2016, I think less is more in the goals department, and these are them.

Happy new year!

Happy New Year. Love, Jack.

Happy New Year. Love, Jack.

2015 and looking back

Another year has come and gone, and despite my long absence from this blog, I still think about you often.  It's been an exciting and crazy year and after a certain point I was so overwhelmed by all the changes that it was hard to sit down and blog about it.  However, I'm looking forward to get back at it, so I thought I would do my 6th Annual "Looking Back" post. 

While over the years I've given you tables of numbers, but this year was a big year, that caused my traditional productivity to take a big of a dive. 

However, I managed to knit by new nephew (who is now four months old!) sweaters and socks, made my first adult garment (a vest) and designed a bunch of patterns I hope to release at some stage. 

I also destashed a bunch of yarn, and still have more (if anyone wants to check it out - you do need to be a Ravelry member to view), but my official stash gives me joy and makes me want to work with it. 

So in the end I think I've met my 2015 goals, with a few exceptions. 

Knit socks, lots of socks, and any other patterns that inspire me.
Done! Despite my crazy summer of working I knit 9 pairs of adult socks and 3 pairs of baby socks.  Two of those pairs were new design that haven't been released yet!

Spin & weave as much as I can without it feeling like a chore.
I actually taught one of my camp counsellors how to spindle this summer, and while I did bring my wheel and looms to camp, I didn't do any of either. I still love both of these, and so I will call this one a half win, because I tried, but the reality of the year got in the way.

Keep the stashing to a minimum, but buy and use the yarns that inspire me.
YES!!!  I took on little yarn and continue to destash and make myself feel better and better about my stash.

Work on other crafts like cross stitch, needlepoint, tatting and crochet, to keep my fingers and my brain working.
Yes!  I'm working on a cross stitch pattern that is coming along slowly, and my main creative outlet for the summer was making friendship bracelets.  Also, I have a crochet blanket on the go that I expect I will work on next summer when I'm back at camp.

Blog more - because I enjoy doing it and I think you folks out there enjoy reading it.
Sort of, I had a good start on this, then I went of to work at camp and my life went a little haywire and I didn't really get things back on track.  So I need to reevaluate this goal when I review my 2016 goal setting.

Up or down?

There are many ways to knit socks, top-down, toe-up, TAAT (two at a time), twinned, single, war & peace (at same time on a single set of DPNS), magic loop, DPN, two circs, 9in circs ... the combinations are endless, and when you add in the variations in toes, heels and cuffs, you have a whole world of socks to explore before you even look at the leg and instep patterns. 

For some, there is only one way to knit socks, and they are devoted to that direction (cuff-down or toe-up) and use a specific needle set up to make that happen.  For me, I decide my direction and needle set up on what I want to accomplish. 

Right now, I'm working three different socks in three different ways, cuff-down on a 9in circ with a heel flap (the colorful one!), cuff-down on a single circ, aka. magic loop (yellow one), and TAAT, toe-up on a single circe with a planned afterthought heel. 

How do you knit your socks?

I have a reason for using each of these techniques and directions for what I want to accomplish with each sock. 

For the yellow sock (Georgian Bay Fibre Co. Bayfield Sock in McKellar Honey) I'm working on a new design, that I'm not certain of yet, so it may change considerably before the sock is done.  For that I like designing cuff-down as it is an extremely popular direction for socks, so if I want it to be accessible to the greatest number of people, and I prefer decreases to increases, so this way I can reduce for the gusset and toe rather than working increases. So that makes cuff-down the right direction, and magic looping is my go-to default when knitting socks.   I'm not doing this pair twinned, as I might do for a patterned sock like this because it is a design.  My technique is to design the sock on paper, knit one sock keeping notes and tweaking the design as I go, then write out the pattern properly, and then try to knit the second sock working from the pattern so that I can check how the pattern is written.  Then all the other stuff, tech editing, layout, review etc., but the two socks let me test my own pattern, because usually I've forgotten how exactly I knit the first one, so I use the pattern. 

For the colorful socks (Spun Right Round Snappy Sock in Graffiti), I'm doing these as purse socks, and I like having my on-the-go socks on 9in circs because it means that I can work them and just drop them when I need to stop.  No need to get to the next needle in magic loop, no worries about dropping a DPN.  Also they are a published pattern, written cuff-down so I'm working that direction, However, I find with 9in circs I need to be doing only knits and purls (no cables, no lace) or my hands really hurt.  So these Hermione's Everyday Socks are perfect for this sort of thing. However, I will be counting the purl bumps to make sure they are the same length!

Finally, the last pair of socks stripey (Turtlepurl Glitter & Stripes in Bah Humbug), I'm doing these toe-up because the person I'm making them for has small-ish calves so I can make the leg nice and long, and because Turtlepurl always come as two perfectly matched 50g skeins, the yarn is pre-divided so I can work them toe up and end when the yarn runs out (leaving enough to do the afterthought heels).  Also, because they are self-striping and toe up, the afterthought heel is perfect, no gusset to be worked as increases and there will be no break in the stripes.  Also, when working TAAT, the toe up method makes casting on super easy, using Judi's Magic Cast On, you can start them both at once on the same long circular needle, which means they will be exactly the same and done at the same time. 

So I need to get back to my sock knitting, winter will be back before we know it and handknit socks are the best part of winter!

So how do you make your socks?  Are you only cuff-down or toe-up?  Do you only use one needle type or to you vary it by the project?