Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Summer of Firsts: First Knitting Retreat

My goodness, I've gotten pretty lazy about posting here and on facebook.  It's a lot more work than I thought it would be, but I've missed it more than I thought I would. I think part of the reason I've been gone so long is that I often forget to take pictures of my adventures to share.  Now that I've got a store, It seems more than worth catching you up on my summer.  I'm going to try to keep it mostly to images so I don't drone on and break it up into separate posts.

First Knitting Retreat:   North Light Fibers - Block Island, RI
May 2017

Thanks to my generous Mom, I went on my first official knitting retreat in May to North Light Fibers on Block Island.  We were in some serious need of some mother/daughter time and I have never felt so pampered in my life.  We got to stay at the luxurious 1661 Inn and words can't express how unbelievable our stay was!  The meals were fantastic, with a buffet spread like I've never seen before and "wine and nibbles" before dinner each night.  The view from my room was unbeatable and the staff really made us feel at home!  I know every one says that, but I really mean it!
Mom and I on the Ferry

When we weren't in classes or stuffing ourselves with the most amazing food possible, Sven and family at NLF kept us entertained with all sorts of activities like a mill tour, the on-site petting zoo, bird banding, and a lighthouse tour.

Did I mention the food?!

I, of course, didn't take any pictures of the classes, but they were really great!  I learned so much and came home so inspired!  It was pretty fantastic to meet new people and spend some face time with designers I've admired.  It was such a treat!
We barely found some time to pick up some ice cream and dip our toes in the sand before catching the ferry home.

I truly hope all knitting retreats are this magical!  I'd love if my next one was a knitting cruise! If you've been on a retreat, what was your experience?  Do you have a favorite?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Another (long) Podcast Episode Published!

Yay!  I managed to get a new episode posted, and that was no small feat.   HOLY BAJEEZES!  I don't know why I didn't realize that the longer an episode is, the longer it takes to edit and to post.  All the more reason to post shorter, more frequent posts.

Working hard on my knitting and ignoring all else, per usual, but I feel like I'm making some real progress.  I've got so many ideas for new projects and techniques to try in the new year.  I can't wait to get started, but I still can't stop signing up for classes.  It's crazy!  I think I'm going to have to try to restrain myself over the summer and finally start writing out some patterns.

Stitches East is making a return in the form of Stitches United and I've signed myself up.  See what I mean?  It's an illness.  I can't stop myself.  I'm thinking about going Saturday to hang out and maybe check out the market place while a friend takes classes, then I'll be back to take classes myself on Sunday. What a whirlwind!  This will be just the first in what I hope to be many knitty mini-getaways I'll be attending over 2017. 

I'll be back soon with a more condensed synopsis of what I'm up to.  Thanks for dropping in!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Little More Than Fashionably Late :-S Stitch Drop Podcast: Ep 4

Greeting, my friends!
First, let me apologize.  I left without a word, no note, no warning, and I'm sorry for that!  It's been SO LONG and so much has happened.  I won't spend all my time today with a blow-by-blow, but in that time I finished my summer knitting classes(more on that in a moment), started a new job and had a minor health crisis.  It's been a busy summer!

I did finally manage to get a new episode of my podcast up where you can see some of the great yarny things I've been up to recently!  I make no reference to it in the video, but I tacked on some video of a sheep herding demo from a trip to Old Sturbridge Village Wool Days on the end, so make sure you stick around to the end (or if my rambling becomes too much, feel free to skip- it starts at about 50:50)!

Omg, the shoutouts to makers and products!  I got a lot of stash into this video considering how short it is, so I'll try to put links to all of the websites below, for your yarny convenience:

Frabjous Fibers = gorgeous purple spinning fiber
The Merlin Tree - maker of my beautiful new spinning wheel
Still River Mill - I do not see the 3D printed drop spindles on their website, but there does seem to be a plan outline for a yarn and wine tour?!  I know what I'll be doing this weekend.
Sonder Yarns -shown in Aspen and Graphite Grey colorways
Kama Suutra Fiber Arts Etsy store- maker of the fabulous stripped blank and "MOM tatoo" shawl yarn
Bewitching Fibers Etsy shop- maker of the beautiful blue and orange fiber braids
Valley Yarns Cardigan pattern - my ice blue monstrosity
ManaKori bags on Etsy - maker of the awesome comic bag.  There's a coupon through the end of the month, so go check it out!
The Rams Horn Studio- beautiful pewter creations like my Kelpie/Crane buttons
Madder Root Etsy shop- home of the awesome pussy-willow buckle bag

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fashionably Late

Sorry it's been so long.  A month?  Really?  It feels like the time just flew by and boy have I been busy!  I don't know if I mentioned (for the sake of those reading this who don't know me in RL) that on top of the massive amount of knitting I get done I also work a full time job.  That plus the 5 knitting classes I've been taking has been keeping me uber busy.  How does she have time for it all you ask?  I don't clean my house.  I'm not kidding.  Knitting is my life, hardcore.

I took a few shots of the projects I've been making so far for my classes.  I've learned to make socks and mittens from hand measurements and how to make appropriately matching increases and decreases in a pattern, a beautiful button hole, how to knit with the yarn in both hands for stranded knitting, and a plethora of other yarny skills.  It's been a blast!

Admittedly, I did know how to do a fair number of the skills taught in the classes before hand, just from the number and variety of projects I'd completed on my own, but even those skills I've been able to tighten up.  It's great to have a fresh pair of eyes looking at your work to see things you just look over after so long.   For example, when I saw "ssk" in a pattern previously, I always just slipped the next stitch purl-wise, knit the stitch after, then slipped the first stitch over the second.  This left loose, ugly stitches on my left leaning increases and were super noticeable on a sweater.

Now I have always done this and I probably misread the instructions for this increase when looking it up over the internet or in a book the first time and I'm sure I just never questioned that I wasn't doing it right, but it did frustrate me how ugly it was.  Then I go to class and find out that's not how you do a ssk at all!  What?!  Really?!  Turns out you're meant to slip the next stitch knit-wise, twisting the stitch, then move it back to the left needle where you'll knit the two together through the back loop.  It seems like such a tiny change, but it's made a HUGE difference in my knitting.  I've documented this for your viewing pleasure.

So yes, I'm dropping a pretty penny and quite a bit of time, but it's worth every penny and every minute to me.  On top of all the fantastic instruction, it's been great just to get out there and meet new people who enjoy the same things I do.  Picking up tips and tricks from each other has proved just as educational as the classes themselves and the enthusiasm in that room permeates through the rest of my week.

Click to check out my Ravelry project pages: "7 Things" baby cardigan, Alice Starmore Fair Isle Mittens,  Fittin' Mittens recipe by Nancy Lindberg, Knit to Fit Socks recipe by Nancy Lindberg, and the start of my first official cowl design (!!! :D)

I've still got a little bit of homework before I can have my projects inspected for the program (buttons for the cardigan, a thumb for my fair isle mitten, etc), but completing these have given me the oppertunity to finally start the most recent Supernatural Mystery Knit A Long: Fight the Fairies!  I was seriously chomping at the bit to get onto that one- but being a mystery and all, I can't show you pictures just yet.

I will tell you there's a TON of beads on this thing and it's super frustrating when you find you made a mistake 3 rows back which threw off your count, the whole look of the shawl, and you now have to rip back those three rows (two of which were beaded).  *sigh*  I had a real "I should have listened to my mother" moment along with not a few curses.  She always scolds me and reminds me that I should be counting my stitches every row, but I'm a glutton for punishment.  After staying up all night last night, I'm back on track and ready to start this weeks clue (3 of 5).  It also helps that I've got the next season of Daredevil on Netflix to binge watch while I'm at it!

Also still on the needles is my "Choose Your Muppet!" project.  I'm really disappointed in myself that this has taken the back burner, especially considering it's a cold weather garment and lately it's been too warm so I might not get to wear it till next year.  When all my travel friendly homework has been done, I've been using this as my purse project (yes, I keep emergency knitting in my purse) and generally getting a row or two done on my lunch break or standing in line, etc.  Sadly, I found I had made a big mistake about 75% of the way through, so I had to rip out about a ton of stitches.  In wanting to keep this project a surprise, I'll have to save the details for the reveal, but at least I'm back on my way again and still confident I'll be done for the March 31 deadline.

I'm working on starting up a Ravelry group and I've been thinking about trying to start a podcast.  As much as I like the blog, podcasting is what I've really been wanting to do but editing video seems like a daunting task.  I'm starting to do a little research and learning the ropes, so hopefully I'll have both going soon.  Although, I'm probably biting off a lot doing this at the same time as classes, so I'll be taking my time with it.

What grand adventures have you been on since we last met?  I'd love to hear from you!

Hope to see you soon,

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Progress Report #1

Phew!  The craziness has started and I'm in good spirits so far!  Classes have been fantastic, not just learning new techniques, but meeting new people and sharing hints and tips.  I'm really loving the experience and the hardest part is trying to go in and out of the yarn store without buying something.  I don't think I've been able to do that once yet but I'm holding hope for myself.

So far I've got a full-fledged pair of mittens (just in time for negative temps here in Massachusetts) and a bunch of cast ons and bind offs for my personal arsenal. I've just started a new pair of socks, this time based on my foot/leg measurements.  I have two weeks to complete the cuffs and legs of each sock for class and that feels like a lot to me.  So what do I do?  I decide to make knee socks. /facepalm.

My knee highs in Plymouth Neon Now
This is a good thing though!  I SWEAR!  I want to flex the new muscles I've built through the classes I've taken and it feels good so far, like taking a walk around the block after I've been sitting down too long.  I've had to make a few readjustments and rip back a few times, but I'm sticking with it and that's huge progress for me in itself.  Until maybe a year ago, I wouldn't knit back if I saw a mistake in the row below.  This is what I took the classes for.  For the confidence to test myself and push myself like I never have before.  It also helps that, despite all the confidence and bravado I'm peddling here, I have a backup plan.  The Hub has finally asked me to knit him something and he happens to want a pair of  house socks.  With bulky yarn, those suckers won't take too long at all, so I'm feeling free to push myself in the mean time,but try to have a realistic idea of when I would need to bail should the ship start to sink on me.

Harris Tweed Socks
I finished the neon socks for my KALs and they came out okay.  I over compensated a bit and the feet came out just the right diameter, but a little short.  Even if they're not perfect, I feel like every pair of socks I make get a little bit better and one more step towards finally making the perfect pair.  They're safely nestled in my "Box O' Sox" now.  I was gifted a set of hat boxes for my wedding that I (for some reason which I still haven't figured out) decided needed to hang on the wall in my hallway and they've remained there for the last 10 years.  I like to stash little seasonal wooly bits in there to keep them out of the way in summer, but still have them ready to go for winter.  One of said boxes will be my "Box O' Sox" for now and hopefully I'll be able to fill it before Christmas!  Of course, to do that I'll have to stop making socks for myself, won't I?

I wonder what everyone else in the world is doing during this ridiculous cold snap.  It was -15 degrees when I woke up this morning and my furnace just can't stand up very well to negative temperatures, so I've got a couple electric heaters going, blankets and sweaters layered, and a never ending cup of coffee to help me through.  I was super excited to go out tonight with The Hub for a romantic dinner, but the idea of treking out in a frozen tundra is quelling that excitement just a bit.  Hope you have a good Valentine's day, whether you're going out or you're by yourself, huddled at home with a movie and some Ben and Jerry's.  Enjoy the holiday and we'll talk soon!


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Prepping to be Schooled (a.k.a. ALL OF THE THINGS)

WARNING:  Because I haven't written in a while this may be a bit longer than usual.  I also haven't had much time to take proper pictures for you, so I may have been putting it off a little.  I apologize.  I've provided subtitles if you'd prefer to skip around.

Recent News and Finished Objects

Well, the slew of knitting classes I signed up for have just begun.  I've been spending the last week or so winding balls of yarn, checking and rechecking my toolbox for everything I might want or need at hand, and trying to decide when to do my homework.  Too far ahead and the reading might not be so fresh in my mind, but I don't want to wait too long either.  I don't want to be that one person who's not prepared- it's been a while since I've been in school and I forgot how exciting it can be!

Show-off Stranded Socks in Malabrigo Arco Iris
I've finished a couple pairs of socks in the last week or so and started another, but it feels like the socks I've been making myself aren't quite perfect yet.  They start out comfortable, but as the day wears own they start to get a bit baggy and feel too loose.  I actually got the heel turned for sock 1 in the last pair and ripped the whole thing out to start a smaller size, thinking my gauge was to account for it.  When I took the pair off the needles, they fit perfectly, but then it happened again.  Shortly into my day they got a bit baggy, though not as bad as the pair before.  I was ready to rip my hair out.

So I went to my first knitting class, Mittens and Socks from Measurements, and I had a blast!  It was great to be working and mingling with other knitters, sharing tips, and working out the material.  Someone in class asked if they could swatch for the project at home so they'd have a chance to wash the superwash yarn she was using.  I thought that odd, because it's superwash- it's static, right?  Turns out superwash loosens up oh so slightly when it's heated (like in the dryer).  Could this be the answer I'm looking for?  I think I'll need to investigate.

Works in Progress and Plans

So I had been working on socks before the classes started so I wouldn't be too invested in anything while classes were on.  I'll be doing homework while working a full time job so a sensible move, right?  I don't know what possessed me, but I've started working on another pet project I've had in mind on top of all of that.  I made myself a Shibuya top a few years ago, a pattern from Berroco #308 Vintage DK & Vintage.  I really loved it and wore it quite a bit but, when I started to gain some weight it didn't fit anymore.  I think I've finally given up on the idea of shrinking significantly enough to ever fit into it again, and I had an extra skein left over from the original project, so I've reclaimed the yarn and I'm starting over.

With my new shape, cap sleeves also aren't the most flattering look for me, so I'm thinking I'll make a few adjustments (and do the math- ugh!) to make it into a cute vest.  More flattering and less yarn- it should be a win-win.  I hope...  While I'll be pretty busy over the next few weeks and months, it's also good to have a familiar pattern to work with- something I can pick up and put down easily.

And then I lost my mind.  I watch a lot of podcasts and nearly everyone is hosting a knit-a-long at the moment, really awesome knit-a-longs.  I feel like I must participate.  I MUST.  <sigh>  I'm going to list them below with links to the Ravelry groups, in case you're interested in checking them out.

Bakery Bears Podcast - Choose Your Muppet KAL

This one's got me really excited.  Viewers have been asked to carefully select a Muppet that they are most inspired by or feel represents themselves and knit a project inspired by the character.  How fantastic!  This KAL runs from February 1st to March 31st.

It took a lot of thought to decide, but I finally picked Gonzo.  He's a little different and really adventurous and it never even occurs to him that his behavior is the least bit odd.  He embraces his uniqueness and I love him.  <3  When I made the decision, I immediately thought of this yarn I was gifted that I've never known what to do with.  It's crazy and odd but I want to make it into something squishy and lovable, just like Gonzo.  It's going to be quite the challenge, but I think I'm up to it.

YarnGasm Podcast - Box O' Sox KAL

You can include any socks started on or after January 1st this year and will end on January 1, 2017.  The idea is to knit a box full of socks (had you figured that bit out yet?), at least one pair per month of the year.  Like I mentioned in my New Year's Resolution post, I wanted to knit a bunch of socks before next Christmas as is, to be better prepared next holiday season, so this is just perfect.  I've already got a couple pairs to add thanks to The Knitting Expat's Sockathon,ending today.   Not only will there be periodic prizes for projects, but there will be a project for the box they're kept in!  This sounds like a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to participating.

The Everlasting Sock Challenge

This group supports several monthly themed sock challenges. For example, the February challenge I'm working towards is "something that reminds you of your childhood."  I just bought this fabulous Regia Fluormania Color because it reminded me of the vibrant neon colors that were so popular in the 90's.  I can't tell you how surprised I was when they came back into style!  These are monthly challenges that are posted a few weeks before the month starts and you can start on them right away.  It will last all year, so it's a good group to duck into as the year goes on.

Shannon Sanchez Designs - Fight the Fairies MKAL

She's at it again! :D  I had so much fun with Shannon's last Supernatural themed KAL, I just couldn't resist!  There's a new shawl design that's got some pretty serious beading going on based on the materials list.  This KAL will span over five weeks and start on March 4.

Phew!  If you made it all the way down here to the bottom, thanks for sticking around!  Clearly I've got a LOT of stuff going on, so I'm going to go get some work done.  I look forward to posting again soon and sharing my progress (here, read "insanity") and hope to see you soon!


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

2015 is over.  Now is a time to reflect, learn from our mistakes, revel in our triumphs, and hopefully use all of that to make 2016 that much better!  I've been thinking about what my resolutions would be this year and really a lot of them are made up of what I didn't get done this year.  So first I'll take stock.

What did I do this year?

  • I started keeping a knitting journal.  I'm always struck by inspiration at the craziest times and I try to make a mental note to myself to remember or document something, but I have the short-term memory of a goldfish. This has not worked well for me thus far, so I've started keeping a tiny note book of grid paper on me at all times so I can document when something strikes me- a color, the line of a building, an idea for a crazy material, etc.  I keep track of the podcasts I'm watching, yarns suggested by other knitters, or patterns to check out when I can next log into Ravelry.  Much better.
  • I decided what kind of knitter I am.  I've come to understand I'm not the fastest knitter and I never will be.  I like to savor the process, like fine wine or delicious steak.  I tried to classify myself as a process vs. product knitter, but that just didn't work.  I'm both.  I enjoy making a project, but every time I wear a garment I remember what I was watching or listening to when I was making it, the trials and triumphs along the way.  It's all rewarding as far as I'm concerned.  I also figured out what I like and don't like- how to tell what I want to knit because it's a challenge but won't be flattering, and what would be flattering but really boring to make.  All of this makes me a better knitter.
What am I going to do this year?
  • Learn all that I can!  This should be a forever goal, right?  The capstone project for the WEBS Expert Knitting Program needs to be completed by June for presentation.  This is the last project/class in the program, working with an adviser to design, plan, and knit an original sweater from measurements.  All other classes must be finished before this project can be started.  I hear the average time to complete the program is three years.  I want to complete the program by June 2017- that means completing all of the classes in 2016.  That's a lot, but I'm pretty dedicated.
  • Design a Project for Release on Ravelry.  This is also a big one.  I think if I can complete the first goal, I'll more than have the skills to do such a thing, I probably could now if I really put my mind to it, but this is more a matter of confidence for me.   Can I create something that I feel is good enough to share with the world?
Are you the kind of person who sets annual goals?  If no, why not and if yes, what kinds of goals do you set?  What kinds of strategies do you use to reach those goals?  One thing I could really stand to collect is strategies!

All patterns by Sockmatician Nathan Taylor, from L to R: Drakar, Castor, and Guilt Socks.
Because I've been posting so sporadically I'm going to write a bit more this time and include some of the activities I've been holding out on.  I did finish the holiday socks I mentioned, though one giftee got his second sock two days later.  At least he had one to unwrap!  All recipients were very gracious and in most cases modeled for me so I could take pictures.  Let's add one more resolution for this year.  I want to knit one gift every month this year- probably socks and maybe the occasional hat, so I don't get stuck with last minute gift knitting in 2016.  Say what?!  Planning ahead?  That's ludicrous!
Ryan's Mystic Spiral Socks

I wrote last time that I was hoping to start the Chainlink sweater, but I've held off a bit longer despite the weather finally turning frigid.  As I mentioned above, I signed up for classes, the first of which will begin at the end of January, not enough time for me to complete a project of that magnitude, and I'll have homework to complete before some of these classes start.  I decided instead to cast-on another project I've been sitting on for a while, the Mystic Spiral Socks in the Ewe Who Knits: Irish Fairy Tree (the Rainbow Dash colorway) I got from The Knitting Expat's rainbow KAL.  I had the sock pattern in my favorites for a while and when I received the yarn, I immediately knew what I was going to use it for.

I'm sure many of you have thought of this, but this is one of my favorite uses for Ravelry: taking a yarn you've never seen before and have no experience with and seeing what others have done with it.  This offers a chance to be inspired and to see how the yarn will behave in different projects before you even cast on.  This is what I did when I first found out I had won a prize and so by the time it came in the mail I already had a plan.  So I finished one sock last night and cast-on the second this evening.  I can't wait to get them on my feet!

A recent FO that's been languishing (Ravelry tells me since Feb 2015, can that be right?!) is my Midsummer Aran sweater.  I only  had the collar to go, which several knitters seem to have had trouble with.  I got really lost in the pattern as the instructions get a little fuzzy at the end, but after I took a long break they just fell together and seemed clear as day.  I don't know how that happened, but after sitting for months I had it finished in an afternoon.  There's a small victory, but wait, disaster soon struck!

Upon blocking the sweater, it seems that two skeins were not like the others (though I'm sure I checked to confirm the dye lots before using them) and for some crazy reason only those two bled like crazy when I blocked the sweater.  As a result, there appear to be two faded stripes at the bottom of the chest. From this picture, you'd think it was just a trick of the light or a problem with the picture, but that's what it really looks like.  It hasn't quite finished drying yet, so we'll see how obvious it is when it's dry and in the full light of day.  Let me say, I've worked with several Valley Yarns, though never Goshen before now, and I've never had a problem with colorfastness or fading- never.  Needless to say, I was a little crushed when I realized what had happened and I'm really considering just wearing the darn thing as-is anyway.  I suppose I could dye over it, but whatever, I'm still proud of it!  I also would not hesitate to work in Goshen again.  It's super soft and smooth and I really do love the intensity of the color (the parts that didn't fade).

Last and not least, one of my oldest friends asked me to make a hat for her youngest. This is her first winter and Baby needed a hat.  She asked for something with ears.  It didn't have to be a fox, but she seemed to be taken with the idea and I found Fox Hat.  I'm kind of toying with the idea of making one for myself, and I'd love to modify the pattern to make a racoon for her son.  I had this finished easily in an afternoon.  Realistically, it only took a couple of hours in one sitting.

I'd love to see what others are working on and hope to touch in more frequently in the future.  Until next time, stay warm and may the wool hold out!