On July and Checking In

So, what has the first have of 2011 looked like from a fiber perspective -

Fibery -

  • Don’t buy as much yarn as last year Getting there, although most of my stash acquisition was during the summer and fall, however, I have been more selective on what I buy which I think it the main issue of my stashing, it was somewhat mindless, now I try to get only things for projects and things that are too great to miss out on. I elaborated about my stash back on Day 3 of Knit and Crochet Blog Week and a few weeks earlier.
  • Spin regularly and improve my spinning techniques Since the start of the year I have spun about 1062g (or just about 2.3lb) of fluff.  I have spun from both batts and combed tops, done both woollen and worsted styles of drawing, done singles, two-plys, three plys and chain-plys.  I have even done some art yarn, although most of it has been a result of mistakes and flubs, although I did make a coil yarn, something I won't do again for a while.  My spinning is getting more consistent, but I still have so much to learn and more bobbins to buy at some point.
  • Try out dyeing so that I can cut down the cost of spinning I have all the tools, but haven't had the initiative  or the space to dye, however with it finally being summer I may try some outdoor solar dyeing.
  • Improve the techniques I learned this year, including stranded colorwork, lace and cables I have done some cables without a cable needle using Glenna C's directions which rocks, and she has videos! I had originally learned how to do cabling without a cable needle for the Shifting Silt Scarf I made for my grandpa for Christmas. Also, I did some more advanced stranding (which better results) making my Endpaper Mitts this spring.  I did circular lace in my Christmas Shawl and short rows with my Annis Shawl.
  • Learn new techniques, like intarsia, double knitting, and others I have not thought of yet. I am a process knitter, as opposed to a product knitter, so I am drawn to new techniques. So far I have tried sock making, which has ended with me doing two at a time toe up socks. I made a pair of mittens where I just used the pattern as a guideline.
  • Try out crochet, I love the idea of being as bi (tri?) craftual as possible, or just become the Capt. Jack Harkness of crafting. I am crocheting and loving it, my crocheted hexagon blanket is moving along.
  • And, make a pair of mittens a month, like so many self-imposed sock of the month clubs. - I haven’t picked the patterns yet, but the first two pairs to finish will probably be my current WIPs (which include cabling for one, and colorwork/doubleknit for the other). -I think that half the mittens will come from the Woodlands Mitten Kit from Knit Picks.  Which includes six charts for mittens and enough Palette yarn to make them. This has NOT happened and is unlikely to happen, however I do need to get cracking and making the Woodlands Mittens, because I want to wear the October pair in October.
  • Document my fibery activities (knitting, spinning, felting, dyeing?, crochet?) with better pictures and blog posts. I think this has been happening, with my FO posts,  WIP Wednesdays and hopefully Fiber Friday starting up soon (the spinning version of WIP Wednesday) I have been more diligent about documenting all the fun I have been having.
So where does this leave us?  I am going to make some bold proclomations about the second half of 2011, which we will check in on New Years Eve so I can make my plans for 2012.
I will:
  • Knit something out of my handspun yarn
  • Spin a yarn intentionally for a specific project
  • NOT do any commission knitting
  • Make a fancy pair of socks (either a Glenna C or Cookie A pattern)
  • Make a pair of thrummed mittens
  • Design a Pattern

FO: Oak Ridges Moraine

This project came out of a desire to knit up my stash, and while none of the Wool of the Andes ball is very long, the way it is packaged, it took up quite a bit of space in the bins. I had originally bought most of these colors to make an felted intarsia sheep bag, but I realized I had zero interest in making the bag so I needed a pattern that used up a bunch of single balls of WotA. Turns out the KnitPicks Independent Designers Program had just the pattern for me. So I paid my $1.99 and went digging to find the best color combo. As it turns out I had enough greens and complementary colors to make this work.

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On Stashing and Busting

So, I have never been one for collecting. There was a bit of a brush with Beanie Baby collecting in the late 90s, but after a quick explanation from my mom about what "value" means (something is only worth what someone will pay for it), I haven't been into collecting items for the sake of collecting them.  However since, rediscovering knitting, and then spinning, in the past year, I have a new collection, my yarn and fiber collection.

Having a full-time, well-paid, job over the summer (for the first time) I found myself stashing yarn like crazy.  I wanted to try out all the yarns I had admired from afar, or rather Ravelry, and I had nothing stopping me.  So I stashed and stashed and stashed.  I haven't totaled up the amount I spent on yarn in 2010, mostly because it will make me cry.  I am still totally financially solvent, but I have a somewhat absurd yarn collection, in my eyes.  Sure there are plenty of people out there with way more yarn than me, but due to many, many moves as child and young adult, I don't like having too much stuff, because it is way too difficult to move.

My goal for 2011, was to end the year with less yarn than I started the year with.  So far, I have been successful, I have stashed a bit more yarn, but I have knit up a whole bunch more.

Accounting for a fair chunk of my stash (which if you have Ravelry you can view here) Knit Picks Palette and Wool of the Andes for felted (or rather fulled) bags. Initially I had planned on making the Grazing Sheep Bag from I Heart Felt, the Billington Bag from the Knit Picks Independent Designers Program  and the Reflecting Pools Bag from the Knitter's Book of Wool (which as a side note is amazing and a must-read for all knitters).  This added up to quite a few balls of feltable wool, however I started the Grazing Sheep Bag and the intarsia was making me crazy, so I went back to the KP IDP program and found the Alluvia Tote, designed by the fantastic Allison Haas aka. Alaskan Purl.  I after digging through my stash I found I had a bunch of green Wool of the Andes, and decided to use the greens, along with a ball of taupe and white, to do the Alluvia tote.  The remainder of my WotA will go towards the Billington Bag and possibly an electric heating pad cover (which I am hoping to design at sometime before I stop needing the pad.

I must say, as I work on the Alluvia Tote which is a blast, I am really enjoying the fact that I am using up my stash.  For so long I was so afraid to use things up, like a nice lotion or fancy jam.  But really, yarn, like all wonderful luxuries, are best used.  Although that hank of Handmaiden Sea Silk I ordered over the summer hasn't been used yet, because I am not quite ready to commit it to a pattern, but I will I swear.

Are you a stasher or a buster?  Do you  have a hank of something that you haven't knit yet, because it is too special?  Or do you only buy yarn with a pattern in mind?

On Felting and Finished Objects

It has taken me a few days to get these up, but I had another great course at the Gateway Fibreworks back on Saturday. This time we were focusing on a single type of felting, wet felting. I present, without comment, by Steampunk Felted Dragon Mittens

I wish I had a picture of the merino braid beforehand, but needless to say it had strong varegation.  Although they are not my usual colors, I love the way they turned out.  We used fuffy white alpaca for the inside, milled on-site.

As with the previous week, the instruction from Gail and Vikki was amazing, and materials beautiful.  I wish they were closer to Parry Sound, the hour long drive to Gravenhurst is a bit tough to swing, especially because the Starbucks doesn't open in time to get caffeinated before the drive.

Since finishing those mitts on Saturday, I have finished two other projects.

On Tuesday, I finished Clapotis.  While this pattern seemed to have spread with the virulence of an infectious disease through the knitting community, I remained immune to its charm until I discovered Dream in Color Starry.  The plain, but attractive. pattern, plus an amazing material worked out to a beautiful product.  I will be debuting it in a post sometime in the next few days.

Okay, maybe just a sneak-peek.

After finishing such a repetitive and lengthy pattern I was inspired to make something quick.  Some Knit Picks Swish Bulky and a hat pattern were just the thing I needed. My Winter Leaves hat, using the Foliage Pattern out of Knitty, was finished less than 24 hours after starting.  I quite love this hat already, and I am sad that the Squirrel Heather I used has been discontinued.

Either way, I have had a productive week, and it is only Thursday!

Felting 101 and Project Pictures

This morning I had the great fortune to take Felting 101 with Gail and the good folks at the Gateway Fibreworks in Gravenhurst, Ontario. For those of you not familiar with the Gateway Fiberworks, it is a small scale mill and retail outlet.  They primarily focus on alpaca and works with lots of small farmers across the province.  They are a great outfit who operate out of a green building in a Muskoka.

While I think I will be quitting my day job, or even knitting and spinning to be a felter, but it was great to learn about an interesting technique to make embellishments and another way to use up my increasingly large fiber stash.

Here were a few of the things I made during the course:

Since I got my camera out to take pictures of my felting, I decided to get pictures of a few other projects. I didn't manage to nab one of my Carla's Mittens because she always has them on her hands or stashed away in her purse.  However I did get a few beauty shots of my Norway Spruce, using the Hawthorne pattern by Susanna IC in the Fall 2010 Twist Collective.

Also, I am sending them off tomorrow so here are the cousin hats!

I am hoping to get a picture of all four of them wearing their hats.  It was tough making a hat that would fit anyone of them (well the red one is for a four-year-old so it is sized differently) but the other three are for guys of very different head sizes and I wasn't sure which one each of them was getting.

So, there is your photo overload for the weekend, I hope you enjoyed them.