As of July 1, I am the new owner of Twisted Yarns in Spring, Texas. I’m thrilled to be working with my friends and spending time with customers I’ve known for years.
Life threw a lot at me the past four months, but I’m learning that I can survive really hard things — and that I can choose what to focus on and celebrate and appreciate the things that give me hope. Over the years, Twisted Yarns has been haven, escape, and inspiration for me. It was the vision of the previous owners, Eve and Shelley, to create a welcoming community of fiber lovers. That will remain my core focus and goal, with the added imperative to have fun!
Did March sneak up on you like it snuck up on me? I hardly feel like I got to enjoy February — or find much time to knit. I didn’t get to choose my March sock of the month until last week, and while I knew the pattern I wanted to use was Embossed Leaves, I wasn’t inspired by the yarn I had initially matched it with. I also didn’t have the right size double pointed needles for the other possibilities. In my search for a substitute, I fell in love with a skein of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 from the Art Walk Series (“Iris“). I can usually resist most of the beguiling yarns that arrive at the shop where I work, but the idea of a yarn being a limited edition edition colorway can be irresistible. Ultimately though, when I cast on with the DPNs I had, I knew the Serenity 20 wasn’t going to work. Because I was committed to using Embossed Leaves, I did some quick rearranging of sock of the month projects and cast on with Colinette Jitterbug (“Vincent’s Apron”) instead:
I am SO pleased with this combination and it’s been a very quick knit (helped along by marathon viewing sessions of Scandal).
There was also another potential sock option in the wings, however, because I wanted to reacquaint myself with Magic Loop. So I cast on for yet another sock — different yarn. More on that soon (and if you keep up with my Instagram, you might already know which yarn I am using).
Alice Yu’s sock designs are wonderful. They’re just challenging enough to keep me enthralled, with familiar elements for a sock knitter like me who prefers to knit her socks one at a time, cuff-down, with a heel flap, on DPNs. (However, all of her sock patterns can be used with the Magic Loop method or knitted in the round on two circular needles). I purchased her book, Socktopus, when I realized that she didn’t offer her patterns as individual Ravelry downloads. Fair enough though, because there are already several of her sock designs in my queue, and the book is a better value than buying several individual patterns. I knit Shur’tugal with Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20, in one of their One-of-a-Kind colorways. While this isn’t going to be my hardiest pair of socks (what with the cashmere and all), they are luxurious and warm. And super soft.
Shur’tugal was my study break sock last semester, and I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to finish the pair. But then it got cold, and I knit the second sock in record time so I could wear them! That’s when I realized that having a finished first sock in the bank (so to speak) gave me instant motivation — finishing just ONE sock is far less daunting to me than starting and finishing TWO. This dovetails perfectly with my sock-of-the-month plan. I’ve designated a second bin as my Sock Bank — where single socks wait patiently for their knitter to decide to knit them a mate. I have loose guidelines about this, but one thing remains inviolate: everything related to the project has to be intact in a labeled (project name and date) plastic zipper bag — yarn, pattern, notes, and needles (if practical).
With my tendency to find starting a sock most appealing when I’m stressed, I have some lovely single socks ready to go in the Sock Bank. I’m not worried about deadlines (well, when am I ever when it comes to knitting?) because handknit socks and having warm feet in the winter are always in fashion.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, and for those who have wondered and sent thoughtful emails, I am not going anywhere — and neither is my blog home! The blog break was unintentional, but I leaned in to it. I recently decided that I’m taking this semester off from school and am not enrolled in any classes. Instead, I’m really looking forward to spending quality time with my yarn!
Last week, I had a fun planning session related to my sock knitting queue. I love knitting socks, and I want to honor that this year, because time and knitting opportunities are precious. Since I already have (and continually seek) more sources of sock knitting inspiration than anything else (books, individual patterns, Pinterest, Ravelry), I am excited about my idea. (Obviously, I also have the stash to support it). I am not ashamed to admit that I focused on a plan that works out in my favor:
Short version of my plan: I get to start a new sock on the first of every month. To make the decision making process easier, I am working ahead to match patterns to stash, printing out hard copies of patterns (or referring to the book or digital source) and placing yarn, pattern, and related notions in a plastic zipper bag. I can choose one bag every month, and leave the bin undisturbed till I get another “turn” the following month. (Hat tip to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who had a similar idea a few years back). Eight months later, she updated that the system was really working out for her. The main difference between her plan and mine is that I don’t have to intend to complete a pair before I start a sock project on the first of the month. (After all, it’s my plan and I can do as I want, right?) Also, my rules are loose enough that I’m not going to blindly choose a bag — I’ll decide when I open the bin which project I want to knit.
Guess who’s looking forward to February 1st?
I started this blanket over a year ago and the intended recipient is already one year old. I’m sure I’m not the only knitter to have ever done this, right? My kids all loved blankets well into their grade school years and my daughter still has her favorite blanket, so I think it will still be well received.
It was my first time using Cascade Pacific, a machine-washable blend of merino (40%) and acrylic (60%). As soon as it was off the needles, I washed it on the delicate cycle with a small squirt of Soak (Lacey) and dried it in my dryer — it laundered beautifully. It’s a great choice for baby afghans.
The pattern is a classic and I’ve used it before — Fantastic Eyelet Crib Blanket.
Feather and Fan with Cascade Pacific
What about you? What are your favorite blanket patterns for babies?
Even though I had it on the needles for over a year, it’s actually a quick knit. The pattern is easily memorized and it’s great TV knitting. I don’t knit much while I’m in school, so I’m catching up on my WIPs now that it’s summer. I have a lot to share (and not all of it is knitting — think jewelry!)
Feather & Fan with Cascade Pacific
After working on this today, I can finally show you my 2013 planner. This is picture heavy, but I wanted to show as many components as possible. The planner is a work in progress — I intend to use it as a complement to my iphone calendar and Evernote app.
I purchased the iHeartOrganizing pages on Etsy:
This system requires the use of a special hole punch to insert the pages, but you’re not limited to that format — it just happens to be the one I chose. I used an ARC Notebook (disc-based system) for some of my classes a few semesters ago and I liked it. I definitely prefer it over a 3-ring binder for a notebook in which I’m actively working. In the photo below, there are two postcards that I punched and placed in the front of my binder as a reminder to do specific things. I’ll just take them out and throw them away after I use them:
I happened to get a care package from Japan not too long ago, and it included some really cute page markers/tabs:
Page Tabs: Sheep! Thank you, Chica!
I picked up some removable sticky tabs to color code certain items:
Removable tabs for color coding
Here is one of the areas in which I need to improve — meal planning and grocery shopping. I’ve been inspired to cook more at home (thanks to Mark Bittman’s Kindle single: Cooking Solves Everything) and I’m hoping that this helps with implementation:
Meal Planning (blank for now, of course): the area that most challenges me
And finally, here’s what each monthly calendar looks like:
For additional inspiration:
So KnitPicky’s “Smarc”
Jen of iHeartOrganizing’s own version of the Martha Stewart Discbound system
A fun video featuring K&Company’s SMASH book
I’ve been so anxious to return to blogging and am finally taking the time to catch up here. Thank you all so much for the comments, emails, and expressions of sympathy for my mom. It is not only tough to lose her, but there has been a perfect storm of other personal issues and family issues that I’m dealing with right now. I still try to count my blessings every day and just be grateful for everything that comes into my life — good and bad. Even the unpleasant things that happen provide some rich learning experiences.
Thankful thing #1 – I’m learning to reach out more, ask for help more often, and stay connected to people who care about me.
Thankful thing #2 – I finished my (2) classes earlier this month!
In addition to Texas Government (an online class), I also took Ceramics I for a visual and performing arts credit. It was challenging (not nearly as easy as it looks), but very rewarding. The photo above is from my final — and included several required techniques and projects as well as a critical essay about Ai Weiwei.
Thankful thing #3 – More time working at the shop — it’s instantly calming to walk in and see (and touch!) yarn and fiber, and to spend time with friends.
There are some changes brewing that will involve my engaging more with my blog readers, friends, and like-minded fiber fanatics. I hope to share more soon. (Hint: It might involve occasional videos).
Thank you, as always, for reading my blog and for sticking around!
Golding Drop Spindle with Frabjous Fibers “Iris” BFL
Spinning with a drop spindle has been a long-time goal, but the process eluded me for a while. Every time I picked up and tried to use drop spindle on my own, I was a little bit perplexed. It turns out that when I was thinking I was spinning in one direction, I’d inadvertently spin the opposite way, taking out all the twist. The actual spinning part was okay — but like a lot of things in my life lately, it took somebody watching me to tell me what I was doing wrong. And it was so simple — I was making yarn and then un-making it, and being consistently inconsistent.
The Craftsy course I took a few months ago helped me get started and it will be a great reference when I’m ready to figure out how to “finish” my yarn.
I like it though — and have the potential to LOVE it. It’s a different way to engage with fiber and drop spindles are portable. The fiber I used is Frabjous Fibers hand-dyed Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) and the spindle is a basic solid cherry Golding. The park and draft method is working the best for me right now. And the best advice I got was to NOT use merino roving as a beginner. Using the BFL made all the difference for me.
And most importantly — if you have the tools and some fiber — just try it!