Mar 12

March Socks : Embossed Leaves

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:

Embossed Leaves

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).

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Jan 31

February Socks : Marilinda

It’s time to reveal my February Sock of the Month:

February Sock of the Month

I’ve had Cookie A‘s Marilinda sock pattern in my queue since August, 2011. I love her sock design sensibilities and own both Knit. Sock. Love. and Sock Innovation. Do you have those knitting books that you always keep handy for inspiration? For me, that’s usually sock books. A worthy volume usually has a good combination of patterns that are easy to execute, followed by a majority of patterns that are slightly more challenging and require close attention to charts, and finally, at least one pattern that would represent a huge challenge. Marilinda falls in the middle group.

Because I’ve always pictured this sock in a bright pink or red, I chose the “Raspberry” colorway in Cascade Heritage Silk. The model in the book was knit with regular Cascade Heritage — sans silk — and I really felt like I wanted the slight sheen you get from the addition of a little bit of silk (mulberry silk, in this case).

Cascade Heritage Silk

Stay tuned here and on Ravelry! My loose guideline (notice: not a “rule”) is that I finish just one Marilinda by the end of the month.

Random notes:

Other Sock of the Month blog entries

If you have a minute, read this post written by a knitblogger whose sock knitting thought processes (and rationale for purchasing yarn and needles!) I could identify with. Here are her finished Marilindas.

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Jan 31

January Socks : Shur’tugal

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.

image

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Jan 28

Not going anywhere

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!

Sock planning session

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:

Sock of the Month plan

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?

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Jun 16

Ann Norling #35: Feather and Fan

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.

Purple Feather and Fan

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

Feather & Fan with Cascade Pacific

 

 

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Jun 12

Organizing 2013

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:

Personalized planner PDF pages purchased from iheartorganizing via Etsy.

Personalized planner PDF pages purchased from iheartorganizing via 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!

Page Tabs: Sheep! Thank you, Chica!

I picked up some removable sticky tabs to color code certain items:

Removable tabs for color coding

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

Meal Planning (blank for now, of course): the area that most challenges me

And finally, here’s what each monthly calendar looks like:

Monthly overview.

Monthly overview.

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 

 

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May 26

Where things stand

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!

Ceramics Final

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!

6 comments
Apr 18

Heavy hearted

Akiko_F_H

Goodbye Momma
Akiko “Sandy” H
Dec 4, 1929 – April 12, 2013

Mom bridge crossing

17 comments
Mar 14

Around, all the time

Golding Drop Spindle with Frabjous Fibers "Iris" BFL

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!

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Feb 18

Fretful : A Sock Story

Knitting, as a hobby rather than livelihood, makes no demands. Yarn doesn’t jockey for position or ask to be used, even though guilt (and shame?) sometimes suggests otherwise. It is just . . . there. When I started knitting it was to make something special for somebody, but it was also to engage in something with my hands in order to keep my attention on positive things. Stated in another way, I knit to stay out of trouble. And after almost ten years, I return to knitting over and over again for those same reasons.

Last week, I was feeling fretful and without much forethought, I began rummaging in my sock yarn bin. I have plenty of projects on the needles, but nothing I wanted to knit while I was fretful — gifts for others and baby blankets require (I think) a more positive mindset. I only wear socks a handful of times in any given year since it doesn’t get very cold here, so I don’t feel an urgency to knit them in order to keep my feet warm. I just knit socks because I love it.

And starting a sock turned out to be the right choice.

I’d made a deliberate decision to use the needles my daughter gifted me several years ago:

Sox Stix & Jansdotter Journal

The ebony 2.25 mm DPNs are probably my top choice for knitting socks — not too pointy, just the right length. But I avoid them because I’m afraid to break them (I’ve snapped expensive Lantern Moon DPNs before). I definitely wanted to knit with wood though, so I risked it. My intention was to pick up and knit the sock every time I felt anxious or worried. But I hardly put it down in the three days it took to finish it — I thought it would be on the needles for weeks (the second sock might).

A recent accomplishment . . .

The yarn is Phydeaux Designs fingering weight Soie – a silk and merino blend – in “Sugared Plum.” I took this photo indoors at sunset and you can really see the shiny silk:

Latest project . . . closer

Brenda’s yarns are beautiful. I also have the same yarn in the “Sansa” colorway.

I didn’t decide on a pattern until I knit two inches of plain K2, P2 ribbing. I’d used the cable twist in another project and thought the twisted bundles would be what I would focus on while I was knitting — as a mindfulness exercise. Following this urge even while I had many other projects on the needles was exactly what I needed — not just for relieving some of my worries, but also for daydreaming and planning — something that anxious feelings often keep me from doing.

One thing I decided NOT to fret about so much is how much yarn I have. I’ll release some of it and enjoy the rest and remember that there are worse things I could be doing to excess.

UPDATE: I’ve published the pattern and it’s available for purchase and download on Ravelry. Until March 23, 2013 the end of the day on March 19, 2013, the pattern is FREE.

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