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?

All The Pretty Fiber

The RI Fiber Festival and Craft Fair was this past weekend and it was a lovely time! The weather held out (chilly but no rain) and there were more vendors present than in previous years. Even though we didn’t have time to prep as much as we would’ve liked, Sweet Sheep had a pretty great show, thanks to everyone who stopped by!

There were sheep being shorn and fuzzy bunnies to admire (but not touch, sadly).

I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to squish my face into those baby bunnies… *ahem* Anyhow, I made it out of the festival with only two purchases, which showed some serious restraint on my part.

New to the show this year (I believe, unless I missed her last year) was Amanda from Classy Squid Fiber Co. I had just recently purchased a batt from her Etsy shop but still couldn’t resist the brightly-dyed braid of Polwarth in the Snow Cabbages colorway #noregrets. And I knew as soon as I touched the pretty pale blue gradient of Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon in Chrystee’s booth (Play At Life Fiber Arts) that it was coming home with me. Concrete Sky is going to be the next thing on my wheel, for sure. SO SOFT OMG.

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O-Wool skeins for Hatchling’s Sky Blanket.

This wasn’t a festival purchase, but I recently wrote about Knit The Sky and the sky-themed blanket I’ve been inspired to make over Hatchling’s first year of life. I debated yarn choices for a while until I remembered that O-Wool sells gorgeous superwash fingering weight yarn at a great price, and I already had two grey skeins stashed that would be perfect for cloudy days. Snagging a skein of the white, yellow, pale blue, and dark blue to round out the sky possibilities was a no-brainer. I appreciate all the suggestions on my previous post of how to go about knitting this blanket. I’m feeling anti-mitered squares at the moment since I’ve had a mitered square blanket on the needles for years and I feel weird about starting more than one of those monsters at a time. Audry had a helpful suggestion of coloring in squares on graph paper to remember what days each individual square represented so I could join them appropriately, which was a concern of mine. I think I’ll do a little swatching and measuring soon so I can get a sense of whether I want to go with joined squares or stripey garter stitch.

All told, my stash is very happy about its fluffy new members and I’m feeling inspired to get on with new projects!

Merry & Bright

I hope those of you who celebrate it have had a Merry Christmas and a happy Boxing Day! I am back from my holiday travels and am very happy to be home. My trip involved drinks and debauchery with some very lovely friends in Brooklyn, a visit to a yarn store (of course), copious amounts of cookie decorating with my nephews, and plenty of gift-giving and receiving. It always feels like it goes by in a blink and all you’re left with is an aftermath of boxes to unpack and things to put away, doesn’t it?

I received some lovely knitting and spinning books, skeins of yarn, and piles of fiber so I’m pretty sure my hobbies are all set for a while! I found the Peace Fleece yarn at a yarn store in Brooklyn, it’s a nice sheep-y yarn with gorgeous tweed flecks in the blue. The giant balls of undyed Romney (29 oz combined!) were a gift from the Fiasco’s uncle that he purchased at a local farm. I love that he goes there every year to buy me roving, although I need to find a way to let him know that 29 oz is quite a lot of wool to work through, before my fiber stash takes over! Then Santa brought me the remaining goodies: a braid of Falkland wool from Three Waters Farm, 3 skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Twisted which will be perfect for a sweater, and some very cool Opposites Attract sock yarn that was dyed to make two coordinating-but-not-matching socks.

Adding all of the above to my stash has reminded me how few of the skeins that I received last year have been knit up. (Hint: zero.) I’ve nearly finished spinning the braid of fiber I received, I’m working up the gradients into a shawl, and I’ve wound up the Yaksi… but yeah. I need to get moving. My goal for the weekend is to start some socks with my new sock yarn AND finally begin a shawl with my delightful Yaksi yarn (which they don’t even offer anymore in DK weight, only fingering).

Speaking of socks, check these beauties out:

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Gorgeous socks NOT knit by me!

Megan (a.k.a. wahoo10 on Ravelry) knits so many socks that she just can’t make use of them all, so she sells some of them for a very reasonable price. Even though I have a million pairs of socks in progress, I’ve had a really hard time finishing any lately and all the ones I own have blown holes. So, even though it felt a little like cheating, I purchased the Waffle Creams knit with Eidos yarn (left) and the Marlene socks knit with Sundara sock yarn (right) and I do not regret it one little bit. The socks are gorgeous, fit well, and are made from patterns that I like the look of but would probably never finish knitting (so many twisted stitches!), so cheating be damned–I’m glad to have them!

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Alchemy socks for the Fiasco.

Lest my dear Fiasco think he’s forgotten, I also plan to put some serious work this weekend into the socks show above. They were intended to be a Christmas gift, I even started them way back in October, but, alas, is is difficult to find time for sneaky sock knitting in my busy schedule. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I hope to finish these sooner than later. The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Heavyweight in Tea & Alchemy and the pattern is out of my head. I hope to write it up at some point, also sooner than later.

For those of you still merry-making, enjoy it! There is knitting and a movie with my name on it while the Fiasco geeks it up on a new computer game. #home

 

 

WIPWed #61: Time Warp

It turns out that when you spend your summer getting married and going on a honeymoon, your knitting progress seriously suffers. It appears that my active WIPs are exactly the same as they were in my last WIP Wednesday post a month ago!

(Not So) Secret Swatches:

This project is basically just a couple inches longer than it was in the last post, so nothing to see here.

Simply Royal:

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BMFA BFL Fingering Superwash, colorway Royal. Click for project page.

I began this sock just before my wedding, knit on it during our photo session, and took it with me to Costa Rica. This is a very special sock, indeed, although the knitting is very simple. I’m loving the way the colors are knitting up, the combination of striping and pooling is really interesting!

Tarnished Yak/Silk:

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BMFA Rockin’ Whorl Club Yak/Silk fiber, colorway Metalocalypse. Click for handspun project page.

My little Jenkins Aegean flew with me to Costa Rica, too, but only spent a little bit of time out and about. It was too humid to spin, really. The fine, soft fibers stuck to my fingers too much and it just wasn’t pleasant. But now I’m back, and ready to tackle this fiber as part of the Jenkins Ravelry group’s Fall Mini Spin-A-Long.

Speaking of spindles, a wonderful new addition joined my (quickly) growing collection:

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Enid Ashcroft Mini Turkish spindle.

It is every bit as gorgeous and teeny tiny as it seems! Its whorl diameter is only 3.25″ and it weighs 17 g, my smallest and lightest Turk yet. The arms are Tulipwood and the shaft is African Padauk. I don’t know if it’s the weight, the dimensions, the woods, or the maker (or some combination) but it’s also the most pleasant to use of my Turkish spindles. It has the longest and most stable spin of the three that I own and it feels the most comfortable to wind on. Basically, I adore it and I anticipate much happy spinning in our future.

And speaking of new acquisitions, this is what happens when there is a mystery grab bag mill end sale, a closing down of a favorite yarn company, and a discontinuing of a favorite yarn base all at the same time during a fairly stressful month:

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YARN-SPLOSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I swear, I’m usually much more restrained than this, but it was a trifecta of circumstance (plus so many sales!) and these acquisitions just could not be resisted. They should keep me going for quite a while, I’d say. Want more details?

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight

These were my Mystery Mill End grab bags from BMFA. I told them I liked blues and purples and they totally delivered! I’m not completely in love with the skein all the way to the left (royal blues mixed with oranges that got a little muddy) but STR is superwash and always good for baby knits or toys, and I see this skein as a great baby boy color (which is rare in my stash). The rest of the skeins, I love: a pale icy blue, a moody mix of purples, teals, and maroons, and finally a skein that looks a lot like Lavender Fields in the Mist, which I’ve admired for a while. Very happy with my mysteries!

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Final Cephalopod Yarns purchase.

These three skeins of CY Traveller were the only things I could snag off the website during the feeding-frenzy days of the final CY updates (2x Red Palace and Wolcott). I’m not usually drawn to reds, but I’m surprised by how much I like the Red Palace colorway and the Fiasco basically exclaimed “OMG THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL!!!” with completely non-ironic enthusiasm when he saw it, so it stays. I actually have 2 more skeins of Skinny Bugga headed my way that my dear friend Jeremie picked up from his local yarn store. Before this point I wasn’t really buying yarn very actively so I am grateful he was able to get me a couple of colorways I’ve loved for a long time but hadn’t yet stashed. Yay for yarn-conscious friends!

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CY Bugga in Flamboyant Cuttlefish

This skein also falls under the ‘loved for a long time but hadn’t yet stashed’ category. CY is pretty famous for its amazing rainbows and I just had to grab this from a destash while I still could.

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Verdant Gryphon Mondegreen in Paradise Valley, Black Hole Evaporation, and Athena

One of my other favorite yarnies, Verdant Gryphon, is discontinuing one of my favorite yarn bases, Mondegreen, and selling it for 40% off with the coupon code ‘mondegreen40’ at checkout (I believe the sale is still going). So (I ask you again), how could I resist? Although I haven’t stashed very much Mondegreen (see: not actively buying lots of yarn recently) I still really love it and am sad to see it go. The blend of BFL wool, silk, and camel down is unique and a delight to work with.

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VG Codex, colorway Carousel Horse

I believe at this stage of the game I reached a point of “what the hell, why not” and just grabbed this skein because it was pretty and different from anything else in my stash. Don’t judge me, ok? These things happen.

I hope that was enough yarn candy to perk up your Wednesdays! Check out more WIPs with Tamis Amis.

Randomly This Thursday

Between there being only 9 days until the RI Sheep and Fiber Festival (Saturday May 17th!), late nights at the day job, thank-you-note-writing, and wedding-invitation-stuffing, not much knitting has been going on here. I’ve been elbow deep in beeswax and cocoa butter, cardstock and excel spreadsheets, stamps and envelopes — so I’ll just show you a bunch of random pretty things, sound alright?

IMG_64641. While I was gone last weekend, the Fiasco surprised me by cleaning the entire house top-to-bottom, organizing my office, and purchasing/painting/hanging shelves so I can store more of my lotion bars. Sometimes, that fella is just too sweet.

IMG_64742. My banner came in from Vistaprint! We’re edging closer and closer to being ready for the fiber festival.

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3. I added a few new scents to the Sweet Sheep lineup! You can read more about them over at the Indie Untangled marketplace.

IMG_64774. Starting the contrast color on my Kelp-y Kelpie shawl has been the highlight of my knitting life lately, and actually represents the sum total of all of my knitting over the past week.

IMG_64595. I did receive some yarn in the mail, though! This is a lovely MCN sock yarn from June Pryce Fiber Arts, a local dyer/spinnger/knitter who will also be at the festival. I’ll be working with this base in a new design (once this fair is over!) and I’m excited to play around with the contrast colors.

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6. To maintain my sanity, I broke down and started spinning something spring-y and colorful, just for fun. I’m going to try this as an opposing ply sock yarn. The fiber is from the February shipment of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Sock Club. It’s a 40% Merino / 40% Superwash Merino / 20% Tussah Silk blend that I am really enjoying, and I just adore the colors. Look away now if you are in the club and don’t want the April shipment to be spoiled for you!

 

Look away!

 

 

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IMG_64627. The April shipment of the BMFA RWC arrived recently, too. It’s 8 oz of Masham wool dyed in a lovely colorway called Indigo Dreams. Masham is a longwool and is on the coarser side of things. I’m not quite sure how I’ll spin this one but I’m thinking maybe a loosely-spun single? Has anyone worked with Masham before?

IMG_64838. And finally, because I am apparently highly susceptible to Etsy suggestions, I snagged these pretty little batts from Inglenook Fibers when they went on sale. The maker is on vacation until June and I heard around Ravelry that she won’t be making as many batts as she used to so I’m glad I grabbed these when I did. The first batt I ever spun was from Inglenook and I enjoyed it immensely. Figured it was high time to snag another!

Now, if I could only borrow about a million more hours in each day, I’d have time to enjoy all of these lovelies!

Pretty Pastels

Spring brings out my love of pastels and light neutrals. This trend is obvious in both my stash enhancement and my spinning of late. Remember the pretty Ginkgo Shawl I raved about for Inspiration Saturday? Well, last week, BMFA was having a crazy sale on Silkie STR (25% off!) and I saw these colors and how could I resist?

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkie Socks That Rock

The first and second skeins (Single Cell Dating Pool and What’saabi) will become the Ginkgo Shawl. The third skein, Siren Song, is destined to become a summery scarf, perhaps the Montego Bay Scarf (which I’ve had queued for pretty much my entire knitting life). If you haven’t knit with it before, Silkie STR is a blend of 81% superwash merino and 19% silk, which gives the skeins that fun barberpole effect that knits up with a gently heathered look. It’s going to be difficult not to wind these up and cast them on immediately!

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Miss Babs destash dye skeins

And then my dear friend and knitterly-partner-in-crime Katy informed me of a truly astounding sale on the Miss Babs website: undyed Merino/yak/silk DK weight yarn at a crazy destash price. Miss Babs was destashing them because she had decided the yarn base didn’t really fit into her inventory and I just couldn’t resist such a luxury yarn. Amazing. It’s all gone now, which is for the best because actually feeling it made me want to stash even more. It’s a really interesting shade of natural grey with a slight tan undertone. It will become a sweater sometime in August, which is when Katy and I decided we’d force each other to finally knit some sweaters. Yay!

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Miss Babs Merino/Tussah Silk top. Colorway Beachglass.

I didn’t want the yak blend to get lonely so a braid of Merino/Tussah silk fiber came along for the ride, as well. I wanted some fine fiber to mess around with on my supported spindle after I finish the angora I’m spinning. What angora, you say?

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TexasJeans Tibetan spindle with angora fiber.

After I finished a little test skein on my new spindle I began using it to spin up an ounce of prime plucked angora (bunny fur) that I had gotten at the New England Fiber Festival in the fall. Angora is… interesting to spin. It is very light and fluffy and not grippy at all. The ends stick out everywhere. It doesn’t draft particularly easily… yet, I’m still enjoying it. It’s new to me and it’s an excellent candidate for supported spinning. I think it would probably be hellish on a drop spindle or wheel. It definitely requires patience and lots of park-and-draft. Depending on how much yardage I get out of my little ounce, I’d like to ply it with a few plies of pretty purple Shetland fiber dyed by Porpoise Fur. I think it will make a lovely yarn.

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Jenkins Aegean with a Nunoco batt.

I’ve been slowly savoring my Nunoco batt spinning for the Jenkins “Just Batty” challenge. The deadline for this is in June but I’m not in a hurry. I like spinning batts and I’m getting the hang of neatly winding on to a Turkish spindle. It takes more time than I’d like to wind on neatly but it sure looks pretty.

So those are all the pastels in my life right now. What about you? Do you go through color phases?

Lucky Lady

The Fiasco and I went up to Maine for a wonderful little weekend getaway and boy, do I wish I was still there. Since things at work are going to be really busy for the next few months and wedding planning is about to become much more time-consuming, this past weekend was kind of our ‘last hurrah’ before we have to settle down and take care of business from now through July… and we made the most of it.

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Wisteria Room at the James Place Inn

Early in our relationship, the Fiasco and I discovered that we really enjoy staying at B&B’s because 1) jacuzzi tubs and 2) delicious breakfast — and really, how much better can it get? This time we stayed at the James Place Inn in Freeport and it was completely lovely. The owners were wonderfully friendly (and also knitters!), the room was beautiful, the breakfasts were great, and I hear the cookies were devine (booo diet but yay! willpower).

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The Fiasco and me, snowshoeing with L.L. Bean. (Check out that knitwear!)

It turns out that Freeport is the home of L.L. Bean and their flagship store has a whole load of outdoor activities you can take part in, which is how the the Fiasco and I found ourselves donning snowshoes Saturday morning (even though the poor guy had a wicked cold). Since snowshoeing is quite the aerobic activity we stayed plenty warm, although lots of layers and knitwear helped, too (his cowl, my cowl, and my hat pictured above). It was actually lots of fun. I miss being outdoors in the winter (I don’t ski) and particularly miss hiking, which a pair of snowshoes would (sort of) allow one to do. Maybe next winter we’ll try it some more.

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The back of the Saco River Dyehouse in Biddeford, ME.

We ended up in Maine particularly so we (ok, I) could check out Saco River Yarns (where lots and lots of Quince & Co. yarns are sold) and the Saco River Dyehouse (where Quince & Co. yarns are dyed, among many others). Unfortunately, the yarn store was closing down, but that also meant that I was able to get some great deals on yarn and an impromptu tour of the dyehouse to boot (I swear, everyone in Maine is super nice). I didn’t take photos but you can find a couple of really great posts about the place over at the Knitting in Beantown blog here and here.

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My Quince & Co indulgence.

Needless to say, I bought some yarn. Three skeins of Owl (a worsted weight 50% wool/ 50% alpaca blend) in Cranberry will likely become a Root & Bud hat by Carina Spencer and perhaps a  coordinating cowl or mitts. The 5 skeins of Osprey (aran weight 100% wool) in Glacier, Belize, and Peacock are destined to become a  Stitch Block Cowl by Purl Soho, which I honestly haven’t been able to get out of my head since I saw it. I also stopped by Casco Bay Fibers while I was in Freeport, another of the great yarn shops that appear to be everywhere in Maine.

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A new addition to my spindle collection.

To top off an already fabulous weekend, the Fiasco gave me an even more fabulous Valentine’s Day gift — an Aegean spindle from Jenkins Yarn Tools. I’ve been wanting to expand my spindle horizons for a while, and I’ve been particularly curious about bottom-whorl Turkish spindles. I love the neat, tidy cops one can wind on a Turkish spindle, they seem so efficient because once you’re done winding, you just slide apart the shaft and the arms and you already have a center-pull ball. I had been checking things out on Ravelry and it seemed that Jenkins spindles were particularly coveted and after perusing photos and enthusiastic posts on the Jenkins Woodworking Lovers board, I started to really want one. You can only obtain a spindle 2 ways: 1) follow the facebook page or blog to be aware of updates and then email for a chance to enter the lottery (then those picked from the lottery can purchase one), or 2) have a loved one request a spindle for a special occasion. I hinted to the Fiasco that I’d like a spindle for Christmas, and then my birthday, and when he was finally able to obtain one for v-day I felt very lucky, indeed. The spindle I have is small (< 6″ shaft) and light (0.67 oz / 19 grams) and made of a very pretty lilac wood. Jenkins is famous for his tiny spindles, especially the Kuchulu spindles which tend to be just 3″ tall and weigh only 8 grams! I’m excited to experiment with my new addition.

So yes, lots of good things this weekend. I hope you all had lovely weekends, as well!