Sunday, November 22, 2015

Knovember Knitting

This is the second time I skipped a week.  I really didn't mean to, but the weeks have been getting away from me.  I can't believe Thanksgiving is on our door already!  I would like to be busy knitting Christmas gifts, but I'm still working diligently on my November "alongs."

I posted earlier on Facebook, I'm finished with clue 7 of 8 for my Supernatural MKAL.  I simultaneously am really excited and really sad that I'm so close to the end, but at least I'll be able to show it off soon!

The NoKniSweMo sweater is not doing so well.  In order to catch up on the MKAL, I sacrificed the sweater figuring it will go really quickly now that I'm down to stockinette stitch.  It is going quickly, but I'm going to have to do something desperate between now and the end of the month in order to finish on time.  It's possible, but it's getting pretty intense.

I have so many pairs of socks planned and I'm not the fastest knitter so I'm sure I won't get as many as I'd like done for the holidays.  I've been thinking about maybe making up some Hug Me Mug Cozies as gifts instead.  They always bring a smile to my face and I've got plenty of scrap yarn I could use!

I'll also soon be making progress on the WEBS Expert Knitter Program. I'm scheduled to complete the opt-out tests for Knitting II and Crochet I the first week of December.  While I'm really exciting to be making the progress, I do feel like I need to bone-up a little.  The course catalog outlines the skills covered by each class and I've realized I almost never use a long tail cast-on or half double crochet stitch.  Clearly I've got some practicing to do over the next week on top of all the other things I'm doing!  I heard the catalog for winter classes would be coming out around Thanksgiving, so I've been waiting impatiently by the mailbox for it to arrive!

I also need to give a shout out to Target for selling these fabulous two person sweaters!  Tell me this isn't amazing!  I'm seriously considering picking one up before our company "festive sweater" contest.  And what's up with the pepperoni pizza on there?  Is that meant to be something else and I'm just not seeing it?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fiber Festival of New England 2015

Clockwise from Top: Mad Color Fiber Arts (look at those colors),
hats from Bethany Homecrafts, goldfish soap.
This weekend is the 6th annual Fiber Festival of New England.  I come to this festival every year and always have a great time!  This year I was especially pleased to see an increase in upcycled products, like the beautiful hats pcitured here by Bethany Homecrafts.  They had some beautiful clothing made of up-cycled materials- the "twirly skirts" especially caught my attention.  I didn't have a very large budget this year and I've got the next several months worth of projects queued with yarn bought, so I didn't make a lot of purchases (yes, I realize this is very un-knitter-like)- just a new drop spindle and batt of roving.  Both were very reasonably priced and from Winterberry Farm in Colrain, MA.  That's my favorite part of these festivals, having the opportunity to buy from local farms and companies, goods being produced right in my back yard.  I did manage to collect a monsterous number of business cards and there are definitely some vendors that I will be following a bit more closely in the next year as I knock some more projects off of my list.  One that stuck in my head in particular was Holiday Yarns Dye Studio with their superhero inspired sock kits and some drool-worthy colorways.  I also have to give a shout out to June Pryce Fiber Arts.  I spent so much time "ooh"ing and "ahh"-ing in their booth!  They had beautiful colorways, amazing kits, and their "shawl pin without a pin" is genius!  

Let's talk about that WIP list!  I've dropped my Christmas knitting for now in an attempt to keep up with my NaKniSweMo KAL and Supernatural MKAL.  I suspect I had too much fun with my last KAL and in a moment of FO ecstacy I went a little insane and joined a handful more, now I'm stretching myself a little too thin.  I'm rightly worried I won't be able to knit all the socks I planned to gift for Christmas.  I suppose there's birthdays or next Christmas but that just feels like a defeatist attitude.  :-(  I've got a week of "stay-cation" lined up the first week of December, so maybe I can crank a few pairs out then.  I've also been trying to consciously knit a bit faster.  I've never been too impressed by speed because I'm a process knitter, I like to savor every last stitch as opposed to cranking out projects in record time, but desperate times call for desperate measures!

I've been working on Tin Can Knits' "Snowflake" for NaKniSweMo 2015.  The challenge requires an entire sweater composed of 50,000 stitches or more be completed in the month of November, that's about 2k per day.  My estimated stitch count for the finished project was over 58k stitches at a size Large with 3/4 sleeves (OMG what have I gotten myself into?!) so I'm confident it will qualify even if I was a bit off in my estimates.  I'm doing this with a friend who is participating in the original writing challenge that the knit challenge is based on, NaNoWriMo and I think we've both already fallen behind by a couple days.  I've had a seriously hectic work week requiring more overtime than I've needed to work for some time, so I really didn't have much time for anything else but eating and sleeping.  I managed to pick up about 1/2 of my missed progress after the festival yesterday and hope to catch up completely by tonight- only a couple thousand more stitches to go!

My NaKniSweMo and Supernatural MKAL projects, nestled together in my project bag.

As for the Supernatural MKAL, I'm falling way behind.  In order to catch up with NaKniSweMo, I sacrificed the shawl for a while and now I'm about a full clue behind when I should be past the half way mark.  I have been keeping up with the progress of others through the forum on Ravelry.  I'm still really jazzed about the project- still in love with the color and I'm enjoying the pattern immensely.  I tend to pick really difficult patterns to keep my mind fully engaged which might also be why I tend to knit so monogamously, so it's been a nice change to do something a little simpler for a change.

I wanted to take the time this week to share a technique I finally had the opportunity to use!  I'm sure I read about it somewhere- and I'll be damned if I can't find where.  I promise that if I find my original source, I'll come back and link it here.  Basically, it's a tip for making stripe/color changes that are clean and smooth when working in the round.  The problem is that if you just pick up and knit the next color, you have a very obvious spot where you stop using one color and pick up the other.  When you're working in rows this really isn't a problem, but when you're working in the round it's more obvious because your round never really stops- it's one giant spiral.  If you were to just drop one color and pick up another, it might not be so noticeable in a project where you were striping similar colors, but with the colors I've selected and making a change on the shoulder/bust area- that would be a pretty obvious change!

I've found the best and simplest way to deal with the color change is as follows:

  1. Knit normal/in pattern until you reach the point where you need to change colors.
  2. As your first stitch made with the new color (below, that's black)- make one extra stitch using the bar between your last stitch and the next stitch (known as a "M1" in most patterns).
  3. Slip your last stitch in the previous color (in my example, the magenta) over the new stitch (black).  This way, you maintain your stitch count and the slipped stitch looks to be on the same level as your previous color.  
I've included two shots below of my end result- the first au naturale so you can see what a clean line is made using this technique, and in the second image I circled the slipped stitch just so it's clear where I made the change.  It really disappears- especially on this pattern where the end of the round is in the middle of a raglan.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again next week!