Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cold sheeping, WIPdowns, and other awfully grown-up concepts.

Last week Bandit and I sat down and made a budget. It was designed to be what I call a Terribly Responsible Budget - we went back through our bank statements and extrapolated how much we would be paying for food, rent, utilities and various kinds of insurance each month. Then we started ruthlessly cutting back on luxuries. Subscriptions to Spotify, Audible and satellite TV got the axe. Eating out was forbidden; we cooked solely at home for two weeks and discovered that we could make healthy, tasty meals for less than $40 a week. (At the end of the two weeks, we caved and got burgers to use up a coupon we had. We quickly discovered that fast food tasted disgusting after so much home cooking!)

I decided to do my part by voluntarily giving myself a monthly yarn budget of $0. That's right - I am cold sheeping. At the beginning of July I resolved to buy no more yarn until my birthday. This turned out to be a rather painless resolution (with the exception of a few moments in yarn stores), so I see no problem in maintaining it until the end of the year.

For one, I've discovered the joys of shopping from stash. This was a concept I'd never really understood before - why not just, you know, not build up your stash with yarn you aren't going to use right away, and then shop from actual shops when you need something? Well, this is why: shopping from stash is shopping from a place that only stocks yarn that you like. It's like a yarn store that's perfectly tailored to you.

I've been looking at all the beautiful yarns I have, and they've been sparking project ideas left and right.

Which brings me to the second, and much more difficult, part of being a Responsible Grown-Up Knitter: I have eleven WIPs, and I really need to finish them. I've decided, after some agonizing, that I need to finish at least five of them before I can cast anything else on. Fortunately, I'm in good company here - there's a monthly WIPdown hosted on RemRants, and the My Sister's Knitter Rav group has just started a WIPdown as their quarterly knit/crochet-along. Both are very lively and encouraging communities, and I look forward to cheering everyone else on towards their WIPdown goals!

Unfortunately, however, my knitting output has drastically decreased lately. This is, unsurprisingly, because of the kitten. She's begun to grow up and calm down a little, but she still loves to play with yarn or any other wiggly thing. I can no longer safely keep my projects by my computer and knit a few stitches here and there, which is what the vast majority of my knitting time consisted of. It looks like I'll have to start scheduling blocks of uninterrupted knitting time for myself in order to get anything done.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Knitting Confessions #2.

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

Confession #2: I'm a process knitter.

I realize many of you will nod along, completely able to relate, and perhaps even wondering why this even counts as a confession. Believe me, it does. I'm not "more of a process knitter", I'm not "mostly a process knitter", or anything else of the sort. I'm a process knitter. I knit things because I need to have things on hand to knit at all times. Looking through yarns and patterns excites me, having yarn and needles in my hands calms me, and having a finished object makes me feel proud and accomplished.

Then the project comes off the blocking board and...

I can't even tell you where most of my FOs are at the moment. They never get worn. They scarcely even get looked at. I knit things because I fall in love with the pattern, not because I need to wear or use them.

This may be why, even though I am in complete sympathy with selfish knitters, I usually end up deciding to knit things for other people instead. I know they'll probably get more practical use out of my knits than I will.

Knitting Confessions

Join this week's link-up here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Knitting Confessions #1.

I'm joining a brand-new link-up hosted by Brandy of Stitched Up In Toronto! She came up with a great concept which I'm sure everyone can relate to and which will inspire many different kinds of posts from different kinds of people.

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

Confession #1: I'm a lace knitter who never uses lifelines.

I don't even know how to put in a lifeline or rip back to one. I've never done it before. I've never needed to.

I often peruse the "how do I start learning lace?" threads on Rav. The advice in such threads often boils down to the same themes: take lots of breaks, knit under really good lighting in a place with few distractions, don't knit dark colors (or if you must, put a white sheet on your knees), make sure there's enough contrast between your yarn and needles, and above all, lifelines lifelines lifelines.

I do none of these things.

I've found that the only things I need in order to knit lace are the yarn, the needles, the ability to read the pattern accurately, the ability to read the knitting to make sure it matches the pattern, and a lack of any particular trepidation about knitting lace.

And time. Sometimes, lots and lots of time. I won't claim that I've never had to go back to fix a mistake in my lace knitting - but I don't rip. I tink back, stitch by stitch, carefully and laboriously. I don't curse while I do it. I keep track of where I am, where the mistake happened and where I should be after I fix it.

It works for me.

Knitting Confessions

Join this week's link-up here.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

State of the knits: Birthday edition!

Yesterday was my birthday! (Man, I'm getting so old.) My parents gave me two wonderful birthday gifts this year. First, they financed my move; last weekend I finished moving in with Bandit. Second, they sent me a box of chocolate-covered strawberries.

Now, I've always thought of my stash as fairly small and reasonable. But I have my stash all in one place for the first time in years, and I'm not so sure anymore:

The 18-quart/17-liter tubs on the left are from my place, and the 16-quart/15-liter tubs on the right hold the stash that has been living at Bandit's place. Top left is workhorse yarns, featuring a lot of Cascade 220 and some worsted yarn that I experimented with dyeing many months ago. Bottom left is luxury yarn: anything laceweight or with silk or cashmere in it. Top right is a bit more luxury yarn, and bottom right is sock yarn and more yarn for dyeing.

Then there's an entire fifth tub and a hollow storage ottoman devoted to holding all my WIPs:

Starting from the top and going clockwise:

  • Jacke/cardigan *Opera* in gray Skaska silk/yak laceweight. Currently in the middle of the second sleeve.
  • Lapis in Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk, in the Peacock colorway. Hibernating because of a sizing issue.
  • Y Ddraig in Twisted Fiber Art Duchess Evolution in the Elphaba colorway. I would be knitting on this a lot more if the dark colors weren't bleeding so much onto my hands and onto the needles.
  • Whispers in DyeForYarn merino/baby camel, in the Closing Pandora's Box colorway. Well on my way to being done with the front!
  • Dishcloth I'm making to practice two-color double-knitting, using gray and blue Cascade 220 Superwash.
  • Slide socks for Amy that have been hibernating so long that they don't even have a Ravelry project page.
  • Ink in MadTosh Merino Light, in the Mare colorway. So close to finished. Hibernating for some unknown reason.
  • In the center: Celestarium in Black Sheep Dyeworks silk/merino lace, in the Aegean Multi colorway. According to the progress chart, I'm about 40% through, though it feels like I'm a lot further in.

And if eight WIPs weren't enough already, I gave myself permission to cast on as many new projects as I wanted for my birthday:

  • Blue tonal cakes on the left: The Cursebreaker. I've knitted half of one cuff of Pickle's socks so far, and... these may actually turn out to be too big. I've decided that if these socks turn out too big, Pickle can deal with that. He'll own a nice pair of bed socks, and I'll buy some other yarn and knit some other pattern for him.
  • Gold yarn in the middle: Povetkina's Dyeworks mulberry silk. Still designated for Sheherazade, soon to be cast on.
  • Black and green on the right: Zitron Trekking XL, Bandit's next pair of socks. I've cast on the toe of one already, but in a contrast yarn (left over from my spring-grass Francies). I really hope that this one ball of yarn will be enough for both socks.

What do you think? Enough stash? Too many projects? Have you ever banished several projects to deep hibernation while casting on a slew of new ones?

Friday, August 8, 2014

The saga of Pickle's socks.

You know, the story of the dark curse that hangs over this pair of socks-to-be is nearly as old as this blog itself.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

FO: Bandit's Honeycomb Socks.

Started: July 26, 2013

Finished: August 4, 2014

Yarn/yardage used: Two skeins (175 yards each) of Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM) in the lyrically named colorway P613. I enjoyed having one skein for each foot, avoiding dividing-ball-into-two-equal-portions shenanigans. Contrast toes, heels, and cuff accent in Kraemer Yarns Saucon Sock; I kind of just have a big ball of this kicking around and don't bother to measure yardage.

Needles: DPNs in sizes 1, 2 and 3 (the latter two for the toes only).


Well, these socks have been a long time coming. They were supposed to be a birthday present for Bandit last year, and then when I picked them up again recently, they were supposed to be a birthday present for him this year. Apparently late sock gifts have just become de rigueur around me.

They did not, of course, actually require over a year's worth of actual work. I cast on the toe of one sock, knitted an inch of the foot - and then stopped. Yarn and needles languished in a project bag in my bedroom for month after month. I finally picked them up again in late June, and finished them surprisingly quickly.

I don't remember exactly why I put them into hibernation for so long, but it probably had something to do with mortal dread of the heel fiasco that occurred the last time I tried to knit toe-up socks for Bandit. I had no idea when or how quickly to start heel increases, and my attempts to wing it resulted only in lumpy, uncomfortable sock heels. (Bandit says that pair of socks is in his closet. We never use or even venture into the closet.) I associated toe-up socks with guesswork, frustration, and bitter recriminations. After this pair, though, I shall never fear toe-up socks again. The Fish Lips Kiss Heel is really quite a miracle. It's easy to determine when to start the heel, easy to memorize and knit, and even easy to incorporate a contrast heel. It's worked in the same way both toe-up and cuff-down. Best of all, Bandit says that it's the most comfortable heel I've knit yet.

I think it's safe to say that I'm getting my sock mojo back at long last. Now... do I dare attempt Pickle's cursed socks for the fifth time?