On Finishing Things

wpid-img_20150530_094637.jpgWow, two weeks goes by fast! Hope you’re enjoying a good start to your summer.  It may only be June, but summer has definitely hit the RVA.  We’ve been dealing with 90-95 degree temperatures and that lovely Virginia humidity over the past week… yuck!  But it’s not all bad.  School is out and you can feel the slight change in attitude of everyone that comes with summer vacation.  Things are a little more relaxed, people are dressing slightly more casually at the office, Friday afternoons begin a little earlier, and weekends have plenty of time to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company.

For the first time in a couple of years, I have a blissfully open schedule this summer and I’m really looking forward to making the most of the downtime.  My husband and I have some long overdue house projects in the works.  We have a couple of long weekend vacations planned, but mostly we’ll be sticking close to home and relaxing a little bit.  Which fits in perfectly with my knitting plans of Stash Dash and Camp Loopy!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, I’m sure you’ve heard about Stash Dash on almost every knitting podcast and a few blogs, but here’s the brief recap.  Stash Dash is a KAL organized by The Knit Girllls.  It starts on May 22 and ends August 14.  The goal is to knit either a 3k, 5k or 10k in this time period.  More details are available in The Knit Girllls’ group on Ravelry.  Since I didn’t really start listening to podcasts until last fall, I only heard about Stash Dash once it was over last year.  So this year, I’m taking advantage and participating.

As I’ve mentioned (I think) in previous posts, I’m not the best at finishing my knitting projects unless I have a specific purpose and deadline.  Although with Loopy Academy and the DVD Sock Challenge this year, I’ve been much better about this recently.  Stash Dash will give me another kick in the butt to get things done.  The great thing about Stash Dash is that you don’t have to knit the entire item during the KAL – as long as you do some knitting and finish the item within the time frame, it counts.  So even further incentive to finish those languishing UFOs!

I’m not sure yet whether I’m going to go for the 3k or 5k (the 10k just seems unrealistic for me), I’m just going to see how it goes.  So far I’m at 935 yards or 855 meters, which I think is a pretty good start for not even a month into the KAL.  Here’s what I’ve finished that counts toward Stash Dash so far:

May DVD socks = 279.3 yards (255.4 meters) wpid-img_20150531_095635.jpg

Oatmeal bonnet for my Loopy Academy Semester 2 felting project = 228.9 yards (209.3 meters) wpid-20150531_125839.jpg

Baby vertebrae for my Loopy Academy Semester 2 striping project = 428 yards (391.4 meters) wpid-20150531_223522.jpg

Below are the projects I have on the needles right now or are planned for the rest of Stash Dash and a general idea of the yardage they’ll add:

– DVD socks for each month of June and July.  I could also frontload my knitting on my August socks and maybe finish by the deadline. So this would add around 560 yards (510 meters) at least, or 840 yards (765 meters) if I finish all 3 months in time

Honey Cowl (~275 yards, depending on how big I make it).  I’m making this for an American Cancer Society auction event that one of my friends is helping organize.

Meisi gloves (~ 400 yards).  I’m also making these for the American Cancer Society event that the Honey Cowl is going to.

Not So Itty Bitty Giraffe (~450-500 yards).  I’m making this as my June Camp Loopy project and as a baby gift for a friend.

Sleeves (~1000-1100 yards). I’m planning on this for my July Camp Loopy project.

These projects will add around 2700 yards to my Stash Dash total, which combined with my current 935 yards, puts me at 3620.  There are some other UFOs I have that I could finish up and add to this, so I definitely think I’m good for the 3k and might be able to hit 5k if I put my mind to it.

Now here’s the kicker… if only I had waited one week to finish binding off my Rock the Kasbah shawl for Loopy Academy, I could have included around 900 additional yards.  Gah!! Oh well, that’s what I get for finishing things early 🙂wpid-2015-05-31-14.24.55.jpg.jpeg

I’ll keep you posted throughout the summer on my progress.  Are you doing Stash Dash too?  What goal are you working towards?

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Maryland Sheep and Wool Recap, Part 2

When we last spoke, I was in the process of telling you about my adventures at Maryland Sheep and Wool.  If you missed part 1 of the recap, go here, I’ll wait…  Now on to part 2 …

Hyped up from two days of classes, the Avengers movie, and some delicious sushi, Scott and I rose bright and early Saturday morning.  I had already warned him that I wanted to get to the fairgrounds before the festival started because there was some special Miss Babs yarn I had my heart set on.  So we checked out of our hotel and headed over to the fairgrounds.

We lucked out and got a fairly close parking spot when we arrived around 8:15.  There was a slight hiccup when I realized I had left my wallet in the car, but thankfully I became aware of this before we even entered the gate, so my wonderful hubby trekked back to the car to retrieve it for me.

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Since we had the advantage of being on the fairgrounds the two days prior with classes, we already had the lay of the land and were able to maneuver through the early morning crowds directly to the Miss Babs booth in the back of the Main Exhibition Hall.  Now let me just say, I had read reports on Ravelry and other blogs about how crowded her booth is at MDSW and that people flock there first thing – but it still didn’t prepare me for the insanity that was happening when we arrived.  I had a small moment of panic, but then jumped into the fray to snag a skein of the special Maryland colorway and, the real prize, a set of her one of a kind gradient A Play on the Chesapeake Bay.  Scott went to stand in the already long line to hold our spot while I browsed the Yowza and the Sojourn sport.

I thought the outside of the booth was crazy, but when I actually ventured into the booth itself, it was nuts!  You could barely move or breathe, much less see the yarn.  I grabbed the 3 skeins of Sojourn that I wanted for a 3 Color Cashmere Cowl and joined Scott in line, foregoing the Yowza.  There are so many colorways of Yowza that I wanted to be able to take my time and find the perfect ones, so I decided that I’d just wait on that and buy some online.

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Once 9:00 hit and they were able to check people out, we paid up and got out of there pretty quickly.  The Miss Babs team was amazing – so friendly and helpful even in the midst of the chaos.  I enjoyed watching them go back and forth from the booth to their truck to bring out even more stock so that the shelves were never empty.  It was also funny to watch people who were standing in line get out of line to follow someone as they returned with a full bag of new yarn to put out.

After the Miss Babs craziness, we took a few minutes to catch our breath and walk around the main exhibition hall.  I stopped by the Signature Needle Arts booth to try out their needles and then spent the rest of the day (and let’s be honest, have continued even now) daydreaming about and coveting a set of their needles.  Definitely going on my Christmas wishlist!  My next stop was Gale’s Art because I’ve been wanting one of her sock blanks ever since seeing it on Susan B. Anderson’s podcast.  I found a beautiful one in orange and purple tones with leaves stenciled on it.  Can’t wait to cast this on!

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We spent the rest of the morning browsing more vendors, petting adorable sheep, and eating some yummy food.  I picked up some lovely yak yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch, a spindle from Carolina Homespun, and some fiber from Into the Whirled.

wpid-20150527_195545.jpgwpid-20150527_195448.jpgI’m proud to say that other than the Bijou Basin Ranch, everything I bought was on the shopping list I made before the festival.  The spindle and fiber were one thing I particularly wanted to pick up since I want to learn to spin.  I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to really have a spinning demonstration or hands-on practice while I was there.  We spoke with one of the spinners in the fiber arts demonstration area, and she showed us how to spin on a spindle, but I didn’t actually get a lesson per se.  Since I’ve gotten home, I’ve been watching some online videos from Abby Franquemont and even bought the Spindling Craftsy class, so I’m planning to start learning how to spin soon.

After most of my shopping was done, we spent some time in the barn where they were doing fiber arts demonstrations, watching the circular knitting machines, spinners, and a  group spinning Angora bunny fiber directly from the bunny!  Scott was particularly fascinated by the circular knitting machines and spent some time chatting with that group. To end the day, we watched the sheep dog trial demonstration.  As a kid growing up on my grandparents’ cattle farm, I had a lot of experience with Border Collies being used to herd cattle.  It was really interesting to watch them with the sheep and their handlers.  Such beautiful dogs!

Since we were driving home that evening, we decided to call it an early day and head out.  It just so happened that the path we took out of the fairgrounds took us around the back of the main exhibition hall where the Miss Babs booth was.  And miracle of miracles, it wasn’t that crowded!  I was not about to waste this opportunity!  So I checked in with Scott to make sure he was okay with hanging around for a little bit longer and headed over to the shelves of Yowza.  I ended up with these two lovely skeins in Joan of Arc and Funny Papers.  These are destined to become Yowza Weight It Shawls.  It was the perfect end to the festival and we headed home high on yarn fumes and full of exciting plans for future knitting!

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Maryland Sheep and Wool Recap, Part I

wpid-img_20150502_081023.jpgAt the end of last month, my husband and I attended Maryland Sheep and Wool in West Friendship, Maryland.  This is supposedly one of the largest, if not the largest, sheep and wool festivals on the East Coast.  I’ve known about MDSW for many years since becoming a knitter, but schedules never worked out for me to be able to attend, until this year.  And now that I’ve been, I think I may have to include this on my annual calendar as a regular event!  We had so much fun!

Scott and I drove up Wednesday night because in addition to the weekend festival, we were taking some classes.  We stayed at the lovely Country Inn and Suites in Frederick, Maryland.  If you haven’t stayed at one of these hotels before, I highly recommend them.  They are my first choice for any quick weekend travel like this or if you need a place to stay for one night on longer road trips.  Excellent service, comfortable, clean rooms, and a great price!

On Thursday morning, we rose bright and early to make our way to the Howard County Fairgrounds for our first class – Dyeing to Paint with Carol Bodin.  The class started with an overview of how to handpaint yarns and information on acid dyes.  We learned how to prepare the yarn/fiber for dyeing, mix up the dye stock, and then how to prepare small amounts of dye stock with citric acid crystals for each individual dye session.  Then Carol set us loose with the dye and our fiber.

I had experimented a little in the past with food coloring dyeing in my kitchen, but this was my first time dyeing with professional acid dyes.  Let’s just say that I fell in love with it!  It was lots of fun to play and experiment with color without a real plan.  I had some ideas about colors I wanted to combine, but mostly, I picked a color of dye that I loved and then kept adding other colors to the skein as I went.  By the end of the day, I had handpainted six skeins and Scott had handpainted four.  They were all lovely and unique.  Since returning home, I’ve steamed the skeins to set the dye and am slowly making my way through reskeining and knitting up small swatches of each.  I’ll share them on the blog later, but in the meantime, the picture below is one of my favorite skeins that I dyed.

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Friday morning we attended a class with Jaycee Boggs-Faulkner about how to turn your fiber hobby into a business.  It was a great roundtable discussion with lots of excellent tips and ideas for kickstarting a yarn related business.  Definitely got my wheels turning for the future.

Friday afternoon we took a small break from MDSW festivities to explore Downtown Frederick.  I have to say, I was not expecting the adorable little town that we found.  Rather than the one small main street I had pictured, it was actually a bustling little mini-city with gorgeous old houses and churches and fun shops to investigate.  We checked out The Knot House, a sweet little yarn shop in the heart of Frederick.  They were prepping for an indie dyer pop up shop they were hosting that evening and Saturday as a sort of fringe festival to the main MDSW.  Since I was saving my pennies for Saturday’s vendors, I didn’t pick up anything, but they had a wonderful selection of beautiful yarns and very friendly staff, so definitely check them out if you’re in the area.

Since most of the weekend was focused on fiber and my hobby, we also took some time Friday afternoon for Scott’s hobbies and found an adorable comic book/game store just down the street from The Knot House. Similar to the rest of our weekend, Beyond Comics exceeded our expectations.  My husband is much more of a gamer than a comic book reader, so we were planning to just quickly look in and see if they had anything interesting.  They actually had a nice selection of miniatures and games in addition to their comic book offerings.  There was a lovely woman working the store that Friday and we had a great time chatting with her about gaming, comics, Star Wars, and lots of other nerdy things.  Scott has been wanting to start reading the new Star Wars comics that have recently been published, so he was able to pick up some issues of that as well before we left.

We rounded out Friday with a late afternoon viewing of the new Avengers movie Age of Ultron and some yummy sushi for dinner before heading back to the hotel for an early night to prepare for the excitement that was to come on Saturday … (check back soon for Part 2 in which we encounter sheep, goats, border collies, and yarn!)

Welcome back!

Hi there!  Yeah, so I’m back.  Kind of disappeared there for a while. I could come up with excuses for why I stopped blogging last fall, but in all honesty, they’d be boring, and really, what’s the point?  Let’s just start from today and talk about knitting and yarn, shall we?

Oh, there have been lots of fun knitting and yarny pursuits in my life over the past few months.  At the beginning of the year, I made the decision to knit every day in 2015 – even if just a stitch or two.  I’ve become mildly obsessed with Instagram and how awesome it is for sharing knitting pictures and interacting with the knitting community. So it seemed like a perfect fit to use Instagram to catalog my Knit 365 plan.  I’m happy to say that I have held up this resolution so far.  Yesterday was day 133 and I have knit every single day this year and posted a picture of it.  Through this project, I have gained new friends on the interwebs, increased the amount of knitting I’m doing, and likely improved my sanity since we all know that “we knit so that we don’t kill people.” If you’d like to follow along on my Knit 365 journey, I’m bookchick29 on Instagram.  Feel free to join me as well and post your daily knitting.

The other project taking most of my knitting time this year has been The Officially Unofficial DVD Monthly Sock Club hosted by the brilliant Susan from Desert Vista Dyeworks yarn.  The rules are simple: start and finish a pair of socks out of DVD yarn each month and earn prizes every quarter.  Before hearing about this KAL, I was already planning to make 2015 the “year of the sock,” so this fit in nicely with that goal.

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I am proud to say that I’ve finished four pairs so far this year and am currently making good progress on my May socks.  When I first started knitting socks, I had the hardest time finding the right gauge and fit for my feet.  With a few hiccups along the way this year, I think I’m finally reaching the point where I have the best formula for needle, gauge, circumference and foot length.  I’m still experimenting with different heels and switching up from top down and toe up to see what feels best.  Ultimately, I want to come up with the combination for Tiffany’s Perfect Vanilla Sock pattern.  Then I can always have some mindless knitting in my purse.  I’m getting so close to this, I can almost taste it.

That’s it for now.  A short post to get me going again.  Check back this weekend for a recap of my adventures at Maryland Sheep and Wool and some yarn dyeing experiments.

I’m still alive

Sorry for the radio silence for the past week or so.  I’m still here, but things got really busy this week and I just haven’t had a moment to sit down and craft a blog post.  I do have lots of things to tell you about:

– my Lancaster, PA yarn crawl

– a film premiere that I was a part of

– other random knitterly fun

But for now, I’ll just say Hi and that I promise to be back in the next day or so with actual content.   Thanks for understanding!  Share in the comments what you’ve been up to – knitting or otherwise 🙂

Friday Link Party

Here are some blog posts and patterns I’ve loved recently:

— Susan B. Anderson just published a new pattern called the Yowza Weigh It Shawl knit in Miss Babs Yowza – Whatta Skein.  Check out the pattern on Ravelry here and Susan’s blog post about it here.

— Ysolda Teague recently had Felicity Ford write a guest blog post talking about color choice.  Some really great information and tips, along with gorgeous photographs.

— KnittingSarah posted a very thoughtful introspective piece earlier this week using knitting as a metaphor for life.  It really spoke to me and hope you’ll enjoy reading it too!

— Kate Davies’ book Yokes will be available November 17.  She has been highlighting the pattern one at a time on her blog and they are stunning!  Check out the patterns here on Ravelry and the descriptions on Kate’s blog.

— Maria Yarley has published an adorable sweater pattern called Graceful Pullover.  She designed this as a pattern for a friend who’s husband passed away earlier this year.  100% of the proceeds from sales of the pattern are being given to the family and Maria has a goal of selling 1000 patterns by the end of November.  Check it out on Ravelry here.

 

What have you been falling in love with recently?

WIP Round-Up

Hello, my name is Tiffany and I have a problem with starting too many knitting project… “Hi Tiffany!”

Tonight I decided to pull out all of my WIPs and take stock of what’s on the needles.  Warning: Long, picture filled post to follow.  Before we get started on individual projects, a picture of the pile of project bags.  [Disclaimer: Some of these WIPs are really difficult to photograph as they’re scrunched up on the needles, so please forgive the poor quality of some of the images.]

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Now, presented in no particular order, all (ok, most, there may be a few more WIPs/UFOs around the house somewhere, but this is the majority of them) of my current projects.

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(from left to right)

1. Pattern: Vanilla sock

Yarn: Biscotte & Cie Felix in Cupcake B

Notes: This is the first sock of the pair and I’m almost to the toe decreases.  Using this sock as a trial to figure out my sock knitting gauge and formula for betting fitting socks for myself. (This will have a devoted blog post at some point in the near future)

2. Pattern: Favorite Scarf Ever by Lisa Bruce

Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere in colorway Celebrating the Games.  This was the February 2014 Loopy Ewe Celebrations Colorway in honor of the Winter Olympics

Notes: Enjoying the pattern and knitting with this yarn a lot!  The Smooshy with Cashmere feels heavenly, so soft and squishy and is perfect for a scarf like this.  The colors are great in the pattern.  Definitely something I’m looking forward to finishing and wearing.

3. Pattern: Dragonstone by Laura Aylor

Yarn: MadTosh Merino Light in colorway Butter and Dragonfly Fibers Pixie in Grey Wind.  I actually won this yarn as a kit to make this pattern from a KAL giveaway from Laura Aylor (the designer)

Notes: Almost at the finish line on this one.  The rows at the end are sooooooo long though so I can only do one or two at a time before wanting to poke my eyes out with the needles.   I need to weigh the remaining yarn to see how much more is left and determine how many more repeats I can do before starting the bind-off.

 

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4. Pattern: My own original pattern.  Based on a traditional hourglass quilt, this will eventually be seamed together to make an afghan.

Yarn: Lorna’s Laces mini-skeins for the colored yarns and The Loopy Ewe Solid Series in colorway Ivory

Notes: I’m really in love with this pattern and feel quite clever for figuring out the seamless construction of each square.  This is a project that I work on here and there, although I really should add some structured time to get it done so that I can finish the larger piece and publish the pattern.

5. Pattern: POP Blanket by TinCanKnits

Yarn: Noro Kureyon for the colored and Cascade Ecological Wool for the cream

Notes: Again another blanket project that I’m loving, but has been neglected for a while.  I’ve only finished these two squares (they’re unblocked, so are curling in on themselves for the time being).  They go pretty quickly, so I just need to focus on this and it shouldn’t take too terribly long to finish if I can devote time each week to a couple of squares.

 

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6. Pattern: Matchmaker by Martina Behm

Yarn: MadTosh Merino Light in Seawash and Oceana.  The blue is actually much brighter and more teal that it appears in the picture.

Notes: I love the way that TML feels when knit up – the singly ply makes a great garter stitch fabric that is very soft.  I don’t, however, love the knitting process as much.  For some reason, I have a more difficult time knitting single ply yarns and it goes slower for me than other yarn.  But this is a great pattern and one where I’ll enjoy the finished product, so I just need to get it done.

7. Pattern: Fingerless Fair Isle mitts – base pattern by Susan B. Anderson; I put together the fair isle motifs

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in colorways Navy and Winter White

Notes: I made the first mitt of this pair during the Fair Isle class I took with Susan at Loopy Fall Fling.  Had a great time putting together the Fair Isle motifs to create my own unique mitt, so I’m looking forward to knitting the second one soon.

8. Pattern: Shawl That Jazz by Samantha Roshak

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Twisted in Puck’s Mischief

Notes: This is my oldest WIP by far.  I probably started knitting this about 4-5 years ago and it just got shoved in the bag and forgotten.  I pulled it out again recently and starting working on it, remembering how much I love the squishiness of the fabric and the gorgeous colors.  Once I finish this, it will be a great everyday shawl to throw on when I need just a little bit of extra warmth.

 

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9. Pattern: Nuvem by Martina Behm

Yarn: Wollmeise Lace in colorway Spice Market

Notes: This is an impossible WIP to photograph while still on the needles because it just looks like a pile of yarn vomit.  But I can’t wait until this is finished so that I can wear it.  The colors aren’t showing up correctly in this photo either, it’s a deeper fall leaves color.

10. Pattern: Celestarium by Audrey Nicklin

Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere in colorway Black Parade

Notes: Another WIP that has been neglected for far too long.  It’s a fairly straightforward knit, mostly stockinette in the round with the occasional yarn over and bead to denote the stars.  When the shawl is finished, it is a replica of the northern hemisphere night sky with all of the constellations.

 

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11. Pattern: Eugenia’s mittens by Mollie Woodworth

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in colorway Purple Heather

Notes: This is my mitten project for Loopy Academy.  The first one knit up really quickly over two evenings, so I’m looking forward to knocking out the second one soon.

 

So that’s it (mostly) – 11 projects on the go.  Actually not as bad as I thought it was.  And some of them are very close to completion, so I’ll knock them out fairly quickly.  Since it’s not as many as I thought, maybe I should find something else new to cast on 😉