New Year, New Plans

No matter what’s going on in life, January always feels like a breath of fresh air. A time to come down from the holiday rush, reflect on what I’ve done/been through the year before, and jot down some Grand Plans that may or may not come to fruition but that at least make me feel motivated to get the year going.

It turns out that 2016 was not a great year for my knitting or my blogging, but hey, I grew a human so I’m ok with that. In years past I liked to tally up my projects and make pretty graphs and generally nerd out over the data. But since I nerd out over data all day long for my job and the opportunity to sit and write is rare, I’m not going to get lost in spreadsheet land right now. This year, we’re just doing a list, because there were only 10 completed projects anyway (about 20-25% of past output (<– data intrusion)):

  • 6 hats (3 for baby, 2 for friends, 1 for me)
  • 2 baby sweaters
  • 1 pair of baby socks
  • 1 shawl (that I still need to blog about, oh my).

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If you’re on Ravelry, you can view all my finished items in one place here. It is clear that I am an instant gratification knitter, yes? And I love me some hats. And apparently the color green, as 80% of the items contained green! (Damn, I can’t resist data analysis.)

Now onto the new plans. My new favorite place on Ravelry, the LSG Parents board, is doing a completely casual “17 anything crafty in 2017” style KAL so I’m going to roll with that. Since my crafty time is limited, I’m going to make the most of it by knitting 17 completely luxurious, indulgent projects. I’m going to be using my best stuff, the stuff I can’t wait to knit, make, or wear. Here are about 20 stash items I’m planning to choose from over the course of the year:

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Laceweight – Fingering – Sport

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Sport – DK – Worsted

I am highly amused by the ubiquitous presence of green/teal/blue hues here. WHATEVER, I LOVE THEM. There will be lots of yak, silk, cashmere, fine merino, and handspun in my knitting future and I’m excited about it. The O-Wool Fingering is already in progress for Hatchling’s Sky Blanket and the aqua Yaksi DK is involved in my hibernating Yaksi Cancan. The Westminster was started but I’m frogging that shawl, so it and the rest will be used in new projects. This theme of ‘indulgence’ will carry over into my spinning, too. Whenever I carve out time for it, I will be spinning my favorite stuff first. (Let’s not talk about how I finished zero skeins of yarn last year… *sob*.)

What’s on your list of crafty goals for the year?

This Year’s Crazy Idea

While preparing for a spinner’s guild meeting over the weekend (that I never even made it to because life has been far too busy lately) I had a flash of brilliance/madness/ambition. I decided that this year, my big goal will be to finish all of the spinning projects that I have in progress — preferably before the Hatchling makes its appearance in June.

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Yes, this is utter madness.

Now, I’m clearly not going to kill myself trying to make this goal, but I think that focusing on spinning over the next few months will be a really good way for me to:

  1. take my mind off of how much I hate pregnancy,
  2. do a little something that makes me happy every day,
  3. get my zen relaxation on, and
  4. work in some gentle movement (treadling, standing while spindling) that could help my DVT-caused leg pain while I’m on a bit of an exercise hiatus.

Plus, I went on a spindle-buying-bender a couple of years ago, and every time I got a new spindle I started a new project, so things have gotten out of hand. I’d really like to turn more of my spinning visions into reality before I have a squalling newborn occupying all of my free time, and I think this will be a nice way to turn spinning into a daily habit. So without further ado, here are all of the projects I have in progress. (All links go to my Ravelry handspun project pages.)

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Turkish Spindles

1 – Jenkins Aegean, 4 oz. Nunoco Batts, Summer Love — Batty Challenge, begun April 2014.

2 – Jenkins Aegean, 6 oz. BMFA Yak/Silk, RWC Tarnished Yak/Silk, begun July 2014.

3 – Subterranean Woodworks Medium, 4 oz. Nest Merino, Magrat MegaSAL,  begun April 2015.

4 – Subterranean Woodworks Small, 4 oz. BeeMiceElf Merino, Merino Mind Bullets, begun July 2015.

5 – Jenkins Finch, 4 oz. Wooldancer Merino, Tropical Merino, begun November 2014.

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Supported Spindles

6 – Woodland Woodworking Bead, 4 oz. June Pryce Fiber Arts Merino, WW Merino begun December 2014.

7 – TexasJeans Russian, 4 oz. Inglenook Batts, begun October 2014.

8 – TexasJeans Tibetan,  2 oz. Angora + 4 oz. Shetland, Bunny Fur, begun April 2014.

9 – hipstrings acrylic tahkli, 4 oz. cotton, begun sampling only, no project page yet.

(The two newer spindles that I haven’t even had time to try yet will play supporting roles.)

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Drop Spindles

10 – Kundert drop spindle, 16 oz. Woolgathering’s Spinner’s Study of different breeds, begun May 2012.

11 – Golding Cherry, 6 oz. BMFA camel/merino/silk, begun January 2014.

12 – TexasJeans polka dot drop spindle, 4 oz. BMFA Masham, Indigo Masham, begun June 2014. (This project may have been abandoned…)

13 – Golding Tsunami, 2 oz. quiviut/alpaca + 2 oz. silk, Quiviut/Alpaca, begun October 2013.

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Wheel Projects

14 – Earth & Sky Stacks, 8 oz. Gotland, begun March 2015.

15 – I Shall Spin Midnight, 8 oz. Louet merino/silk, begun October 2015.

16 – 10 oz. Loop! Batts, begun November 2013.

17 – Earthy Bubble Crepe, art yarn using a few different braids, begun June 2013.

18 – Shadyside Fiber merino/silk, begun October 2012. Honestly, I think I gave away the rest of this fiber. Will just ply up what I have here and call it a day.

What do you think, folks, can it be done? Finishing all 18 would mean I’d have to finish 3 projects a month to be done by the end of June… Yikes. How far do you think I’ll get?

Out Like A Lion

I know that title is butchering the ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’ phrase regarding March (which feels quite far away), but I think it’s fair to say that 2015 is going out like a lion. We’re having a whirlwind end of the year over here, featuring a rollercoaster of emotions and events.

The biggest news is that the Fiasco and I are expecting a little one at the end of June. We have named him/her the Hatchling. And while he/she is doing well, he/she has caused nothing but trouble for me thus far. It turns out, I don’t like pregnancy very much, and it doesn’t like me right back. I’ve just discovered that I am now in a high risk category due to a blood clot in my leg (a.k.a. deep vein thrombosis). I have to inject myself with blood thinners twice a day for the next six months, and likely after the birth as well. This, friends, is a very unpleasant side effect of pregnancy that I had no idea was a thing that could happen. Also, fatigue. I have thallasemia minor, which is a genetic trait that makes me bad at producing hemoglobin and thus permanently anemic (for which iron does nothing to help) so I’m extra super tired all the time because pregnancy ALSO makes you anemic and fatigued. And then there was the nausea for a while (thank goodness that’s mostly gone) and the general feeling like I don’t know what the hell is happening in my own body anymore.

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If you have to go to the ER, you might as well be wearing great socks.

Sorry to rant a bit, but all of that has been occupying a lot of my attention lately and has greatly reduced my available time and energy for knitting, spinning, and Sweet Sheep-ing. I also think it’s important to provide some Real Talk about pregnancy. Sometimes, pregnant women are painted as these beautiful, fecund goddesses of patience and serenity, when really… it’s hard and can be dangerous. And I think that’s good to acknowledge. Also, as a PSA for deep vein thrombosis, if you feel a strange persistent pain in your calf or thigh that seems like the worst part of a charlie horse cramp but doesn’t go away or feel better when you stretch, get checked out. My first cramp lasted 5 days but my doctor just said to drink more water. Then two weeks later I had a similar pain in my thigh, as well as swelling around my knee, and TA DA! Blood clots can break into pieces that travel to your heart/lungs and become pulmonary embolisms, so it’s important to get treated ASAP.

All that said, we are very excited, and I’m looking forward to knitting some adorable baby things in the near future. Here’s proof of how cute our Hatchling will be someday:

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Proof of tiny human, waving hello.

That was taken a couple of weeks ago, so the little tyke has likely doubled in size by now. And proof that I haven’t totally forgotten how to knit:

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BMFA Tigger Targhee in Gnome for the Holidays.

These are the beginnings of Katniss socks using the brand new Tigger Targhee from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I like it a lot, and will write more about it soon.

Later on I’ll take a hard look about what I made in 2015, but right now, I’d like to look forward. I typically choose a couple of words to represent my goals and intentions for the new year and this year, I think my words will have to be PATIENCE and ACCEPTANCE. In the year that I become a parent, I think they will be really, really important. Being patient with myself, slowing down as needed, patiently awaiting the big events to come. Accepting my limitations, doing just what I can, accepting the challenges thrown in my path with some amount of grace, these are my hopes for 2016. How about you?

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From a recent hike that I took, with a freaking blood clot in my leg. Glad I’m not dead!

Happy new year, folks. See you on the other side.

FOFri #39: Socks, and a Plan!

Praise be to the wooly higher-ups, I’ve finished a pair of socks… FOR ME!

The last time this happened was over a year ago, in March 2014. I hesitate to say that my sock mojo is back, but it is certainly once again on the rise. Knitting these suckers ‘simultaneously’ (by alternating between socks after each section) made the process go much more smoothly for me, and eliminated most of my sock-stagnating hangups.

The yarn is the January shipment of the Rockin’ Sock Club, BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight in the colorway Feelin’ Groovy. The pattern is from the club a few years ago, Intrepid Traveler by Gail Marracci. I borrowed the stitch pattern but used a square heel from Sock Architecture and a toe that I winged. The stitch pattern was lots of fun and makes for a nifty effect with highly variegated yarns. And yes, these are the brightest socks I own!

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Ambition is my middle name!

And now, for my plans. We’re nearly through April already and I have yet to set any Second Quarter goals. In truth, there are just so many things I want to make, it’s ridiculously difficult to narrow things down. Here, I’ll attempt to list one project per somewhat arbitrary ‘type’:

I have finished 6 projects so far this year, so listing 7 above is likely ambitious, but I like having specific goals to work towards. I think the projects above represent enough variety that I shouldn’t get bored and should have a knit for every situation (some simple, some interesting). If I can finish them all, awesome. If I can’t, well, then I’ll just have some more WIPs and I’ll see what’s still inspiring me when the third quarter rolls around.

How do you plan what to knit next? How do you choose? I find it extremely difficult, especially when I keep acquiring pretty yarn in stash. I WANT TO KNIT THEM ALL!

Linking up with Freshly Finished Friday.

2015 First Quarter Plans

Last week we discussed the knits I finished in 2014, and the intention words around which I’ve chosen to focus my year. I also mentioned needing a ‘plan of attack’ for my WIPs and yarn stash. For the stash, I’ve ruthlessly gone through and and either donated or put up for destash all of the skeins that I don’t foresee using anytime soon. (If there’s anything in my regular stash that you’re interested in, feel free to inquire as well, I might be persuaded to let it go.) For the WIPs, I’ve decided to split the year up into quarters (3 month chunks) and have listed a 5 ‘new’ projects (began since Dec 2014), 4 sock WIPs, and 3 other WIPs (projects begun prior to Dec 2014) to work on each quarter.

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Knitting plans for Jan – Mar.

 

Let me tell you, when you only allow yourself a certain number of projects to knit at a time, it really forces you to choose wisely! I’ve given careful thought to the yarns I want to work with, the variety of projects I like on my needles, and the finished objects I’m anxious to wear to sort out my lists. I have not planned out every new project through the entire year, but I did assign all my WIPs to each quarter so I will at least be required to either finish them or frog them at some point soon. The above photo represents my first quarter knitting plans (minus 2 sock WIPs that I forgot to pull out).

New Projects:

Sock WIPs:

Other WIPs:

Phew! I bet you guys are sick of lists by now, but I have one more.

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Spin the Bin 2015

 

This year’s CTA Spin the Bin Challenge! The idea for this challenge is to pull out 12 ‘types’ of fiber from the depths of your stash, put them in a bin, and commit to spinning the whole shebang this year. This helps a spinner stay focused when the shiny, new, colorful braids are being too tempting. You only need to count 2 oz as one ‘type’ of fiber, so it’s easy enough to spread large bunches of fiber out over several categories, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t spin new fiber, just that you also commit to spinning up some of what you’ve had for a while. Here are my 12 types, many of which have been lingering in stash since 2012.

Spin the Bin 2015:

  1. Loop! Kermit Coordinate Bump – 5 oz
  2. TwoSistersStringworks Gotland in Rime – 4 oz
  3. TwoSistersStringworks Gotland in Canopy – 4oz
  4. BMFA Sheep 2 Shoe Kit in Single Cell Dating Pool – 4 oz
  5. BMFA Sheep 2 Shoe Kit in Single Cell Dating Pool – 4 oz
  6. Woolgatherings Polwarth/Silk – 4 oz
  7. Woolgatherings Polwarth/Silk – 4 oz
  8. Woolgatherings Polwarth/Silk – 4 oz
  9. BFL x Cormo locks – 2 oz
  10. BFL x Cormo locks – 2 oz
  11. BFL x Gotland locks – 2 oz
  12. BFL x Gotland locks – 2 oz

As you can see, I’m taking what are really 7 different fiber stash entries and spreading them out over the 12 ‘types’ for the year. There are plenty of other things I want to spin this year, but these bin spins are on the list because I don’t want to keep putting them off, especially the BFL cross locks. I’ve only committed to the minimum for those fibers, since I’m considering washing and prepping them by hand to be part of the challenge for me. Plus, I have a full pound of each and I’m not yet sure what I want to do with all of it, the goal this year is just to sample them.

And those are all of my lofty plans! If I manage to accomplish all of my first quarter knitting and the first three Spin the Bin goals, I will have used up 20 skeins of yarn and 13 oz of fiber. Not bad, right? Here’s hoping I can make it!

A Nice Round Number

There’s something about the number ‘2015’ that I really like. It’s not technically a round number, not even an even number, but it feels like a nice, round number to me. I’ve been inspired by all the list-making and year-reviewing happening in blogland and I’d like to jump in with my own. In the past, I’ve made some pretty geeky year-end project charts. This year, my knitting production was way way less. I suspect there are a few reasons for this:

  1. a wrist injury that prevented knitting for most of 2 months
  2. the planning and execution of my wedding
  3. the opening of Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe
  4. more time spent spinning (52 oz of finished yarn!)
  5. and very few gifts knit this year (only 2)

All of these events means that my knitting production was so dismal, I’m not even making a graph of it. Compared to last year’s 50 project finished in 2013, during 2014 I completed a grand total of 18 projects–many of them hats. Shockingly, I have 44 WIPs from the last few years floating around my house somewhere… a situation which sorely needs to be remedied.

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Although I couldn’t resist making a table…

Somewhat more disappointing is the complete lack of disregard I showed for the goals I made last January. They were to knit myself a sweater, knit entirely from stash, and finish or frog all of my socks in progress. In fairness, I did knit about 70% of a vest (that I intend to finish by January 24th!), except for one hat I did knit entirely from older stash (but I still stashed over 60 skeins of yarn), and the sock status remains a disaster. I finished a grand total of two pairs of socks in 2014, with 17 pairs (actually, I just cast on a new one, so make that 18 pairs) still in some kind of progress.

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But isn’t the new sock delightful?!

Thus, I’ve concluded that I really needed some more concrete goals, with an associated plan of attack. Constructing such a plan of attack will be my WIP this week, I’m sure…

I believe I first encountered the idea of embracing a particular word for the new year instead of making concrete resolutions on Sarah’s blog (although you can also read about the idea here). I love the concept and think that approaching a year with intention is more doable than aiming for a particular outcome (clearly, based on my lack of goal-stick-to-it-iveness). Circumstances are so unpredictable and the only thing you can really control is the way that you approach it all, so framing your approach with mindfulness makes a lot of sense to me.

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Sunbeam of mindfulness.

I have two words this year. The first is Bravery. There’s a great line in a Jason Mraz song that goes “But my thoughts are all I got, so I try to make ’em brave” which has become a bit of a mantra for me. Even before I heard the song, I promised in one of my wedding vows to approach our life together with a sense of adventure and joy. I think part of what I meant was that I will try to be brave — to worry less, to enjoy more, to retain a sense of perspective, and to keep our life together fun, because it is a good life and we are lucky to have it. It takes a lot of courage for me to face uncertain futures and make decisions with a light heart, and I intend to do my best to cultivate such an attitude of bravery in 2015.

Woolen Diversions

Irrelevant to this post, just wanted to show off the awesome shirt I gave the Fiasco (my muppet-y man) for xmas.

My second word, partially inspired by this post, is Enough. While this word has negative connotations, I think it can be incredibly freeing, as well. Everything really is ok, in moderation, and learning when I’ve had/done enough and accepting that I am/do enough is key. I tend to throw myself into projects/ideas/plans with 150% of my being, whole-hog, guns-blazing, and all that jazz. And while that can be a productive approach, it can also lead to burn out, a lack of direction, unproductive backslides, and guilt. (Nobody needs that guilt.) So this year I intend to get ok with gradual amounts of progress, with spending moderate amounts of time in a variety of pursuits, and with realistically outlining my goals and priorities so that they aren’t quite so ‘all or nothing’. I am coming to the understanding that everything in my life cannot be top priority at all times, that some things must slide back while others come forward, and as long as the backburner doesn’t turn into a place where dreams go to die, it will all be just fine.

How do you greet the new year? Do you reflect on the past, look forward to the future? Do you make any goals? If so, what are you focusing on for 2015? And since I likely won’t make it back to this space before Friday, have a very Happy New Year!

Betwixt

I’m a tad late for WIP Wednesday and a little early for FO Friday, so I’m going to hit you with both at once! (OooOOoOooo!) This week is barreling by and flattening me in the process. Since my energy level is essentially zero, I’m going to keep this short, sweet, and full of pretty knits. Onwards!

Novelty:

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Feza Yarns Alp Light. Click for project page. (Terrible mirror selfie? Check!)

I finished my mom’s scarf-that-wouldn’t-end, huzzah! I have to say, the funky-factor was pretty cool after the knitting was finished. It’s not even a little bit my style but my mom will totally rock it. I admit my fingers are grateful to put down the novelty yarns and get back to good ol’ wool, though.

Fiasco’s Mitts:

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Feederbrook Farm alpaca/Shetland yarn. Click for project page.

The long-suffering fiance suffers no more! I stayed up working into the wee hours of the morning in a fit of relationship devotion to finish these mitts for him. I am happy I did because 1) they’ were my last holiday gift to finish and 2) nobody appreciates handknit items like my dear Fiasco. He truly loves them, which makes my knitterly heart so happy.

And now for a few WIPs…

Scummy Cedar Grove:

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts De-Vine, colorway Pond Scum. Click for project page.

My completely-selfish, couldn’t-wait-another-minute birthday shawl is well underway. Yes, birthday shawl. I’m hoping to have it finished by the 24th of this month. Do you think I can make it? It’s knit with rather bulky yarn on size 11 needles, so I think there’s a decent shot.

Festooned Joy:

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts STR, colorway Comfort and Joy. Click for project page.

And kicking off the Socks with Sarah KAL as well as the Socks That Rawk! Clean Slate KAL is this lovely old WIP begun in 2012. This poor holiday sock has wistfully watched two Christmases pass by without being finished. Since there’s so much pink and red in the yarn, I feel like it can pass for a Valentine’s Day sock easily enough, so V-day is my goal. I’d say it’s doable!

Clearly, I’m feeling optimistic tonight. Do you set yourself goals for completion or do you just knit whatever, whenever? Check out Tamis Amis for some more WIPs and FOs!