Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Great Craft Room Reorganization of 2017

My crazy-time at work ended at about 2:00 AM Friday, June 30, at least for a little while.  I've been working a lot of hours since March, but particularly in the last 2-3 weeks I was easily working 60 hours/week.  It's an annual occurrence, so in that sense I'm used to it, but when it's over I'm always exhausted and cranky and have the feeling that while I was working the rest of my life has spun out of control.  That last part is not usually literally true, but so many things get put off those last few weeks I always feel like it is.

I don't know about you, but organizing something always gives me a sense of putting my life back in order, so I've spent a good chunk of the past week rearranging and reorganizing my craft room.

First goal was to get the yarn and fiber out of the closet and into the room where I can see it easily and constantly.  This is in part to make it easier to see and find what I have, but also to remind me of how much I do have and hopefully curb some of the "oh pretty" impulse buying of more.  I bought some more cubes and successfully got all my yarn, including handspun in bins or on display.  There's very little room left for more.
All of my yarn

And most of my fiber is also out on display now.  The only thing left in bins in the closet is a couple of fleece-sized quantities.
Most of my fiber
I moved my cutting table to a longer wall.  This makes it easier to access the fabric and supplies in the cubbies underneath and it's also a better location for rolling it away from the wall if I need to be able to walk around it while I cut.  My ball winder and swift also stay attached to this table most of the time. The cart between the fiber bins and the cutting table holds all my current crossstitch projects (which have seen no love in recent months) and rolls easily out of the way when necessary.
My sewing table is now where my cutting table used to be.
 About the only thing that stayed in the same place is my desk.
The bookshelf that was full of fiction books got moved to the guest room.  I removed the shelf in the closet and moved the other two bookcases in there. These hold photos that need to be sorted, craft books, supplies and things I don't use as often.
The closet is now more for storage so I won't have to move things in there around as often trying to get to my yarn or fiber.  These two tall rolling drawer sets hold partial balls of yarn, buttons, smaller pieces of fabric like fat quarters, and other odds and ends.  My blocking mats are to the right of them, and my drying racks to the left.
Although it still looks like a bit of a jumble, the remaining shelves that hold more supplies and other odds and ends for various crafts are more organized as well.
Overall, given the limited space I have to work with, I'm pretty happy with where everything is and how functional it will be.  We'll see how long it stays that way!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Frolic Eve

 It's that time of year, and I'm working a lot of hours, but there has been some knitting  going on the past couple of weeks even if it hasn't been as much as I would like.

Tomorrow after work, I head west to Sapphire Valley and the Carolina Fiber Frolic.  I've been getting some things I finished a while ago blocked to take for "show and tell".

First I washed and blocked my Find Your Fade shawl, although blocking in this case just meant laying it out to dry without really stretching it, because it was already huge enough!

This picture shows the colors better.

 I also finished and blocked my Snowmelt Shawl MKAL.

And last in the just needed to be blocked category is the Moroccan Days/Arabian Nights shawl I finally finished at the end of 2016.  This is also a giant shawl, but I finally took the time to pin it out.  I couldn't figure out how to get a really good picture of this, and there are beads, but they are very similar in color to the yarn, so they're subtle, which is what I wanted.

As for the projects I was trying to finish in time for Frolic, the Cayambe is finished.

But the Sweet Chilly sweater is not.  I only have one sleeve and the neckline to do, so I'm hoping I can finish it up by Friday in time to give it a steam with the hotel iron Friday night and enter it in the "what I made with my door prize" contest on Saturday.
Pic of the body before I started the sleeves.
One sleeve done, second one started.
As usual, I'm sure I've packed way too many projects to work on at Frolic, but that's nothing new.  I'm looking forward to seeing friends, making new ones, learning a few things, and just hanging out with my people.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

WIP Roundup - The Blankets

If you knit or crochet, you may already realize that "scrap" blankets are a popular project these days.  I appear to have bought tickets on the crazy train when it comes to blankets the past couple of years and have several in progress.  Some of these get worked on regularly, some sporadically.  I consider them all long term projects with no deadline (except for the one that will be obvious in a moment).

The crazy began back in January 2015 when I decided to start a sock yarn blanket. I use a lot of fingering weight yarn, for socks and other projects, but I always have at least a partial skein left over.  I'm doing 31 stitch squares on US1 needles, so each of my squares only uses about 3g of yarn.  I've been throwing more of the larger squares in lately because I've been using more self-striping yarn and it takes a larger square to really show the stripes.
Not too long after I started the sock yarn blanket, I decided to start a blanket that is truly from scraps of sock yarn.  These are bits that are too little to even make one of the small squares in the sock yarn blanket.  I'm making this one up as I go along.  I cast on 25 stitches and just knit the bits in stripes until that one strip was as long as I thought I wanted the blanket.  Now I'm working on the second strip of only 10 stitches, attaching it to the first one as I go.  Other than trying to make sure I don't do the very similar colors right next to each other, I'm not planning anything, just knitting until I run out of that yarn, then magic knotting the next color on and keep knitting.
Because it only takes a little over 50g to make myself a pair of socks, I still had a lot of sock yarn left after making a square for the sock yarn blanket, but more than I really wanted to use in the true scrap blanket.  So in June 2015 I started making blanket squares similar to those of the Barn Raising Quilt that a lot of people have made and called it my Bandwagon Blanket.  I start off my squares a little differently, but it's the same effect.  So far I've made 14 squares for this.  I'm a little more choosy about which yarns I use for this, sticking to ones I really love the colors of or ones that are colors outside my "norm" so there will be some variation in the end product.
I blame Diane of The Suburban Stitcher podcast for this next one.  She started a granny square blanket out of sock yarn, and after seeing it several times on her podcast, I had to have one too.  This is basically a big granny square that just keeps getting bigger.  I started it in December 2016 and I'm using a 3.00 mm hook and just crocheting around and around in whatever yarn I pick up next out of the bag.
So with all these "scrap" sock yarn blankets I've developed sort of a system for where my leftover sock yarn goes.  I knit my socks two at a time, so when I finish a pair there are 2 balls of yarn left over, usually about 20-23g each.  One goes into the sock yarn blanket bag and if I like the yarn enough, the other ball goes in the bandwagon blanket bag.  Whichever ball is biggest after those squares are made goes into the granny square bag and the other one goes into a bin where I keep leftovers for making mini skeins for swaps, etc.  Yarn only goes into the scrap blanket bag when it has less than 5g left and therefore not enough for making a mini skein.

The final blanket is the only one that's not a scrap blanket.  I did start it out of leftover worsted weight superwash yarn I had on hand, but I've already had to order some more of some colors, and I'm sure I'll probably need more before it's done.  This one is my 2017 Temperature Blanket, which I'm making using the Groovy-ghan pattern. This is also a crochet blanket, and I'm using a 4.5mm hook.  Basically, I do one stripe for each day of the year and the color of the stripe is determined by the high temperature for that day.  I'm about a week behind on this one because of trying to finish things for Frolic, but I'm generally trying to stay on top of it by working on it every 2-3 days.  It's going to be a large throw blanket when it's done, but not wide enough to cover a bed. This picture shows January and February.
So that's the blanket madness.  Sadly, those are not all my projects.  I have another group of projects that are hibernating.  I was going to post about those, but since it could be a while before any of them get any attention, I've decided I'll just wait until I actually work on them at some point and tell you about them then.

Friday, March 10, 2017

WIP Roundup - The Waiting

Today I'm sharing some of my other works in progress (WIPs). These are the projects I haven't worked on in the past week or so, but I plan to start working on again soon.

First up is my Rhapsody in Cables sweater.  I fell in love with this sweater as soon as the pattern was released and had to start it immediately!  I initially started it in the yarn I'm using for my Sweet Chilly sweater I talked about yesterday, but between the darkness and slight variegation of that yarn, the cables just weren't showing up well, so I ripped it out and started the Sweet Chilly with that yarn.  But I still really wanted to cast on this pattern, so I'm doing it now in some Morning Meadows yarn in a natural colorway I bought at SAFF in 2015.  I got started at the end of January, but then I started to realize I didn't have too long to finish all the things I wanted to finish before Frolic, so this one has gotten set aside for the past few weeks and doesn't look like much right now, but as soon as my Sweet Chilly sweater is done, this one is getting some serious attention.
 The next two projects that are getting ready to go back into the regular rotation are a couple of baby blankets.  My daughter is pregnant with her first child and due in June with a boy, so of course I'm making a blanket for him.  I don't think it will be any surprise to her if she sees this that I'm making him a blanket, but I will hold off disclosing the details until I've finished it and gifted it.  I'm hoping to get it finished by the time or shortly after he's born.

I've also got a blanket I started for my grandson (my son's son) when he was a couple of months old that's been hibernating way too long.  That's a Baby Dragon Blanket  that I'm making in Cascade 220 Sport.  I made him one blanket before he was born, but his older sister got two, including one with a castle on it when she was born, so I thought a dragon would be cool for him.  He'll be 2 in July so that's my artificial deadline for finishing it this year, and really 2 years old is the perfect age to appreciate a blanket with a dragon on it right?

I'm also planning to get back to spinning regularly as well.  I've currently got a gradient set from Three Waters Farm in progress, but I haven't spun in a while.  Here's what I've spun so far and the waiting fiber. 

Towards the end of last year I started working on counted cross stitch again.  I pulled out a couple of old projects that had been hibernating for years and started a couple of new ones, that are now hibernating.  But I signed up this year for the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's year long Happily Ever After pattern.  They send a portion of the pattern each month, and I started out doing well in January, but that's fallen by the wayside as well.  I want to get back to working on it again regularly so I don't get so far behind.  I still haven't finished January, so it will take a couple of months, but if I start actually working on it sometime soon it's possible.
So those are the things I plan to try to put some work into in the next few weeks, but sadly, they're not the only things in progress.  Next time I'll talk about the blankets.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

WIP Roundup - The Active

I keep thinking about writing here, and I keep not doing it.  So I've decided it doesn't matter if I have nothing "important" to write about, I'm just going to write about what I'm crafting, and if something more exciting happens, I'll write about that too.

As a starting point I thought I'd start a run through of all the various projects I have in progress.  As I've mentioned previously, I'm not a monogamous crafter, so there are a lot of them. Today I'm talking about the ones I've been actively working on recently.

The Cayambe poncho is the one I'm closest to finishing, and plan to have finished in the next couple of days.  When I went to Carolina Fiber Frolic in November, someone was wearing one and several of us decided to make it, so I want to have it finished before the spring Frolic the weekend of March 24th.  As soon as I finish the knitting I'll need to block the piece before I seam it up into the poncho and since I'll be busy the whole weekend of the 17th, I need to get it blocked this weekend.  I'm making this in Miss Babs Yowza in the Forever colorway.When I started this post yesterday I still had about 3 repeats of the pattern left to do, but I worked on it a good bit last night and finished the big rectangle.  I'm not going to have enough yarn to do the neckline as written (despite having almost 150 yards more than the pattern calls for) so once I get it seamed I'll have to decide whether to do something different at the neck, or nothing, or maybe I'll raid the stash to see if something I have would blend well or be a good accent at the neckline.

The other project I'm trying to get finished in time for the Frolic is my Sweet Chilly sweater that I'm making out of the Neighborhood Fiber Company yarn I won at last year's spring Frolic.  The yarn is their Studio DK base in the Dupont Circle colorway. Neighborhood Fiber Company will be vending at this spring Frolic, so I want to be able to show off what I made with the yarn.  I'm not quite half-way down the body on it, but once the Cayambe is finished this will take priority and I should be able to finish it up in time.

Also seeing some action this week are my March socks for the Desert Vista Dyeworks year long KAL. These are just vanilla socks for me and this month I'm using the Secret Life of a Snowflake colorway.  I chose this color for March hoping it would bring on at least one snowfall this winter despite the 70 degree days we've been having, and it looks like it might have worked, they're calling for snow here Sunday!

And I have a second pair of socks on the needles.  These are for a friend at work who is an ECU fan and I'm using the Hermione's Everyday Sock pattern although I'm doing them toe-up and will use a different heel.  The yarn I'm using for these is sock yarn dyed by the Friends and Fiberworks yarn store near Asheville in the Happy Ripper colorway.
So that's it for what I've been actively working on this week.  Tomorrow I'll show you what's waiting in the wings.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Crafting Goals Recap

I set several crafting goals at the beginning of 2016 and since I just posted my 2017 crafting goals earlier this week, I thought I'd update how I did on the 2016 goals.

The Good

Knit 12 Pairs of Socks
I actually knit 17 pairs of socks in 2016, so I definitely exceeded this goal.  I won't bore you with pictures of all of them, but here are a few of my favorites from the year.

Knit 2 Projects with Laceweight Yarn
Yes, I knit the Newfoundland shawl and the Danse Macabre shawl.  You get crappy pics of both of them because they are still in the bag of things that need to be blocked.

Knit 2 Projects with Handspun Yarn
Also successful.  I knit the Quaker Yarnstretcher Boomerang and Traveling Woman, both out of my handspun yarn.  I've actually gotten around to blocking both of these.

Finish Marigold Moroccan
This is a project I started way back in January 2010.  Because it was heavily beaded and I was knitting both halves at the same time, it was a very time intensive project and I only worked on it sporadically until 2016.  It wasn't unpleasant to work on, just required focus and it was slow going because of the beads.  I sat down at the beginning of 2016 and counted the remaining rows and figured out how many I had to do a month to finish it in 2016.  And I did it.  Breaking it up into monthly chunks kept me on track and I did the final bind off, which joined the two halves on New Year's Eve.  I haven't had the time to block it yet, but here's a picture to prove it is in fact done! I'll post a better picture and some that show the beading detail once I've gotten it blocked.

Spin the Bin
At the beginning of 2016 I picked out 12 items in my fiber stash to spin in 2016.  Together, it was just over 3 lbs. of fiber, and I spun all of it.  I really should corral all the finished yarn together for a picture, but I haven't gotten around to it, so I'll just share a couple of my favorites.
This is the yarn that was knit into the Traveling Woman shawl above.

Learn to Sew
I did learn how to use my sewing machine.  I'm not very good at it yet, mainly because I haven't really sewn since early summer. I took a class at my local community college the first half of the year that was very helpful, but then work got busy and I couldn't make the class.  But I did make a few things and I can make a pretty good pillow case!
I've also made a small quilt that's finished except for hand stitching the back of the binding.  It's not exactly square, but I still like it.  However, I think I've decided that at this point in my life I don't have the patience needed to do serious quilting.  Maybe as I get better at sewing straight seams that will change.  But here's the top of the one I've mostly finished.

The Bad
 Knit a Steeked and Zippered Cardigan
This is the only actual knitting goal I didn't achieve this year.  But really, the primary reason I didn't is I still haven't found the pattern I really want to do.  I'm not sure exactly what I want, and I honestly haven't spent a ton of time searching for it.  I think I'll find it at the right time and this will happen.  In the mean time, I don't really feel bad that this goal didn't get achieved.

The Ugly
More Yardage Out Than In
This was a complete and total fail. On the positive side, I completed 64 projects in 2016, which used 25,879.4 yards of yarn.  That's 14.7 MILES of yarn folks.  So I certainly did some knitting.  I added less yarn than I did in 2015, but 2016 still saw a substantial increase in my stash yardage even with all that knit. It's not ugly though, it's beautiful yarn, and I'll use it eventually, so not going to beat myself up about it.

So there you have it.  2016 crafting goals were mostly successful and I'm hoping 2017 will be even better.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Reading List

Books I've Read in 2017

I include audio books I listen to on my daily commute. (A) indicates it was an audio book, (K) indicates it was read on the Kindle app, and no designation means it was a traditional paper book.

I am no longer taking the time to link each book to Amazon.  If you want more information on a book, there is a link to my Goodreads in the sidebar.

January (10)
Steal Me, Cowboy - Kim Boykin (K)
Oklahoma Christmas Blues - Maggie Shayne (K)
Fiona's Flame - Rachael Herron (K)
The Christmas Secret - Jannie Watt (K)
Don't Break My Heart - Laurie Kellogg (K)
The Velvet Hours - Alyson Richman
Winter Street - Elin Hilderbrand
A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
The Concrete Blond - Michael Connelly (A)
The Last Coyote - Michael Connelly (A)
February (6)
Trunk Music - Michael Connelly (A)
The German Girl - Armando Lucas Correa
Rather Be the Devil - Ian Rankin (A)
The Paris Wife - Paula McLain
A Darkness More Than Night - Michael Connelly (A)
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry - Fredrik Backman

March (10)
Winter Stroll - Elin Hilderbrand
City of Bones - Michael Connelly (A)
Winter Storms - Elin Hilderbrand
Britt-Marie Was Here - Fredrik Backman
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer - Fredrik Backman
Lost Light - Michael Connelly (A)
The Substitute - Denise Grover Swank (K)
The Narrows - Michael Connelly (A)
The Closers - Michael Connelly (A)
Echo Park - Michael Connelly (A)

April (3)
The Brass Verdict - Michael Connelly (A)
Nine Dragons - Michael Connelly (A)
The Reversal - Michael Connelly (A)

The Drop - Michael Connelly (A)
Garden of Lamentations - Deborah Crombie
Loving Lauren - Jill Sanders (K)
The Black Box - Michael Connelly (A)

2017 Crafting Goals

I've set some new crafting goals for 2017.  I'll do an update on how I did on 2016's crafting goals later, but here are the new ones for this year.

  • Knit 1 pair of Desert Vista Dyeworks socks/month
  • 2 projects with handspun
  • 2 projects with laceweight
  • 3 projects with yarn added to stash before 2016 (this can cross over with handspun or lace goals)
  • Reduce total number of stash entries (including trade/sale) to 540 or less (currently 554)
  • Spin at least 12 fiber stash entries
  • Reduce fiber stash entries to 65 or less (currently 70)
  • 3 sewing projects of some kind
  • Stay on track with Frosted Pumpkin Happily Ever After monthly pattern
  • Aim for more yardage out than in on a quarterly basis (handspun created does not count as yardage in, but handspun knit counts towards yardage out)
I've got a few other goals that aren't crafting related, but they're still in generalizations at the moment, so maybe I'll talk about them at some point.

As usual, I'm going to try to start posting here more, but we'll see how it goes.