I have been faffing about the last few months, having lost my creative wind this year. 2017 has been a weird one — very productive in the beginning, but the middle isn’t really holding up its end like I’d like!
Even so, this has somehow become the year of the yoke for me, sprinkled with other things.
I finished my Deco (Kate Davies)! Might unpick the ribbon because it’s all sitting a bit askew, but otherwise all complete! I used these adorable vintage buttons I got from the Fremont Sunday Flea Market. So cute!
I am going to take on the Damejakka Loppa/Flea Cardigan (Pinneguri)! After creating zillions (zillions!) of colour scheme mock-ups, I’ve settled on this one. It’s risky, and not at all traditional with the yellow and blue, but I’m excited! Having sold off some stash, I had enough money to order from Holst Garn directly. The yellow is undecided — I have some Rauma Finullgarn leftover from my mittens I did awhile ago, but not sure I have enough. If the Sunrise comes and is too orange, I’ll just get more of the Rauma, I guess.
I also was naughty and ordered some deep Venetian red on a spool so I can put together a Cockatoo Brae (Kate Davies) with the scraps from my Monochrome Puffin as the yoke. Not sure if I want this to be a cardigan or not, yet.
Still have plans to actually hop-to on the Sundottir (Dianna Walla) front. Why do I procrastinate so?
I’ve been slowly making progress on a mariner style sweater for Tom. Slow, but steady. I’m designing it myself, with set-in sleeves. So far, so good!
I think I’m going to take a break from knitting for people for Christmas. It isn’t worth the stress!
I will, however, be working on a few hats for people to whom I promised them awhile ago. Piles of things to do!
Still to do this summer: natural/acid dye day with Cory and Sara (???), and learn to spin on my Lendrum.
I’ve been steadily working towards my making goals the last few months, and was so wrapped up that I had quite forgotten to fill you all in! It’s been a successfully productive year, so far. I’ve not been good about switching between new and old projects, though I have been trying, and I have completed the Monochrome Puffin and the Stasis in record time. I’m now working on finishing my Deco, and I think I might pull apart my #fringeandfriendskal2016 sweater and turn it into something else. I’m just not in love with raglan sleeves at the moment!
I’ve been playing with making an Ursula out of some of the scraps leftover from my Puffin, using a golden yellow as the background colour and having a graduated grey colourwork motif. I might, instead, use the significant amount of leftovers to knit a Shetland style lace hap, as they seem rather interesting. Undecided.
I’ve also been toying with overdyeing the grey/pink yarn I originally used for my FAFKAL2016 sweater. I’m not partial to the colour, and think it should fully commit to either grey or pink. I’ve got avocado pits storing up in the freezer, and so I’m going to attempt a pink dye for a rosy hue. I’m sure it’ll turn out fine (no sense in being anything but optimistic!). I’ll need to organize a dye day as soon as the weather turns. Maybe in June?
Pictures to follow tomorrow! It’s much too dark today to take any!
It’s been busy around here. I feel as though I’ve done enough already to fill the entire month, but it’s only halfway through January. Tom and I were in the San Francisco Bay Area last week, for all intents and purposes locked in a tiny cupboard, contending with away work and some admittedly unpleasant colds (or was it the flu?). Week before that was the frenzy of post-holiday, and (for me) birthday shenanigans. Fortunately, I’ve also found time for knitting this month.
I’ve stolen every moment I’ve had free and devoted it to working on my Shine Mittens by Pia Kammeborn. They’re coming along swimmingly — I wove in the ends on the first one sitting in SFO, waiting for the plane to board on Friday night. I cast on the other, but haven’t had time to work on that yet as I was asked last-minute to knit up some fingerless gloves for our neighbour’s little girl’s birthday tomorrow. That was Sunday afternoon knitting, in aran weight acrylic (not my place to be picky regarding others’ choices of yarn, but I am not an acrylic fan in the slightest). Tonight, I get to be selfish again and focus on my own projects: the right mitt.
The Finullgarn is really lovely, and soft even for a new wool. I wasn’t sure about it in the ball, but I could definitely wear this against my skin without too much protest and scratchiness.
Last week, two weeks ago, I bit the bullet and bought myself two sweater quantities of yarn for the first time in over a year (I was pretty good about the yarn diet, all things told, and have been mostly cured of impulsive yarn purchases at this point). I’m pleased to say that, through much creeping and crawling through the internet and various international postal systems, my Snaeldan haul will be here tomorrow. I can’t wait to pet it, play with it, understand it, and get cracking on swatching for a Puffin in all grey tones (charcoal, mid grey, light grey, white) in Snaeldan Nappað tógv 2tr (2-ply). Yes!
Anyway, that accounts for the one sweater quantity of yarn. The other sweater quantity in the order is also Snaeldan, but their 3-ply, or worsted weight, and also in charcoal. I have found, after much research, that it’s probably my favourite charcoal grey colour, and I cannot wait to knock out another of my basics goals this year by knitting a charcoal grey basic pullover in it. Jury’s out on what pattern I’ll use, but I am looking for something textural, or very simple, or perhaps both.
I would like to say that I recommend Faroeknitting.com as a source for these yarns. Hanne provided excellent service and was quite prompt. I should mention that the tracking code I was given worked for Faroe Islands Post, Danish Post and the USPS, making international tracking less stressful, and quite easy. I knew where my package was, and it moved quickly. If you’re reading this and deciding whether to order from Faroeknitting.com — go for it. It has been very easy and efficient. I had no doubts, as there was no cause for concern, but there is a dirth of information regarding her company and the yarn itself online. I plan on writing up a small review of the Snaeldan yarn when it gets here and I have had time to work with it, to try to fill a little of the gap (hopefully). I hope this will be useful to someone in the future. I know I would’ve found it useful!
Update: Monochrome Puffin is done! Most of the way through Warm Hands — stalled up there a bit.
Today I’m here to talk about my making goals for the coming year, 2017. I’m ambitious, and don’t expect to get to all of it, but I like to have a pool to choose from as I go along so I have some premeditated self-guidance.
I’ve been trying to refine my tastes and style a little. Instead of picking projects that I find novel (a rookie mistake I used to frequently make), I’m trying to pick things I’ll actually enjoy wearing. I’m sure I’m allowed some frivolity in my life, but most of my knitting should be geared toward practicality. I want to love my clothes, and I don’t want to spend time, money and effort making things that don’t make my heart sing. What I think I need to add to my wardrobe, knit-wise, this year:
Shine Mittens, by Pia Kammeborn
A-frb’s amazing, beautiful “Grå puffin”
League, by Veronik Avery for Brooklyn Tweed
Stasis Pullover by Veronik Avery, for Brooklyn Tweed
Marinière pullover; the classic nautical sweater, with blue and white stripes, and a boatneck. Mine will be fitted with 3/4 sleeves, and I’m seriously eyeing Imperial Yarn’s Tracie Too (bottom right) as a candidate.
Black or charcoal pullover; I need a basic dark pullover with long sleeves and a v-neck, I think.
A pair of mittens! I’m leaning toward Pia Kammeborn’s Shine mittens (top left) in the original yellow and white. Usually I don’t go in for matching the sample, but the look of them makes me happy, and isn’t that the point?
I want to try socks. I have sock yarn, and will try in the summer, when small wool projects make more sense than large ones on your lap in the heat. This actually is a surprise for me, because until recently I was open about my feelings re: knitting my own socks. (“I couldn’t bear to wear my knitting on my feet, where it will wear through so quickly!”). I took a course on mending at Knit Fit last month, and I’m more confident that I can make and maintain knits that take a lot of wear.
I also have definite plans to skewer some things I have had on the back-burner, but certainly also have the materials for. Specifically, two Brooklyn Tweed patterns (also pullovers — hi, I’m Aja, and I love pullovers):
Stasis, by Leila Raabe (bottom left), done in Tracie Too (grey, with black contrast, as in the picture, actually).
League, by Veronik Avery (top right), done in Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft, as called for, but in wholly different colours (I’ll get to that another post).
Less concrete feelings on sewing in 2017. I’m thinking of getting a new sewing machine (have been for some time), but I’m hesitant because it’s a lot of money and I’ve been so frustrated with sewing recently. I have some basic feelings:
I want to make my yellow dress, finally.
I want to try to make a few tops for the summer.
I want to attempt a black gauze skirt.
I want to make a bunch of project bags so I can neatly pack away my knitting shenanigans at the end of the day, and not look at its sprawling mass around the house.
I want to attempt quilting at some point. Maybe 2017 will be it?
Finishing Old Projects
In no particular order (and what I think is stymieing me on these):
Dedicated Follower of Fashion (Deco, by Kate Davies): The sleeves scare me a little, because it’s hard to measure the gauge and I’m afraid I’ll have to reknit them a bunch.
Tamarack Jacket, by Grainline Studio: I strained my eyes embroidering this sucker, and have been afraid to go back, but I will when the light gets better in the spring!
Migration Pullover, part of the 2016 Fringe and Friends KAL: Having to restart this was a bit frustrating, but ultimately the right choice.
Faroese Pullover: A product of maker’s ennui; it’s a bit fiddly around the sleeve increases but I know I’ll like the product, so I just need to push through another arm, and the top raglan.
Ballard Bound (Ebba, by Dianna Walla): The blue was coming off on my hands and I know it’s going to bleed everywhere, and… maybe I’ll frog and use different yarn. I thought about buying some Chickadee, as is called for, but I’ve heard terrible things about the pilling and I don’t want to do all that work for pills.
Travel Cardigan, Victoria, BC: Endless sea of stockinette mixed with the zero memory of mohair silk thread. Pretty, but why do I do this to myself?
I plan on being careful with my current unfinished projects in the coming year. I don’t expect the world of myself — that I’ll finish all three large projects that are as yet unfinished in January, or whatever. I do, however, want to interchange new projects and old projects to breathe new life into them all. I hate it when making feels like a chore, and so I will start a new project and finish that, then finish an old one, back and forth, etc. etc. until I’m in a place where I don’t have a ball and chain in yarn or fabric form around my ankle. Making is supposed to be fun, after all!
So I’ve restarted this pullover (I suspect that will garner a few gasps…) I’m making as a part of Fringe Association’s#fringeandfriendskal2016. I looked at it last week and was kind of disappointed in how it was turning out, and then after a brief bout on Instagram (thanks, Karen, for asking about the raglan depth! Hello, stark reality!!), I decided to rip the whole thing and start afresh. I looked at the original and some of the small details I had got wrong were really nagging at the back of my mind, pulling my attention away from my pullover and into a kind of ennui over the whole thing. I knew that this wasn’t working for me, that I would be unimpressed with the final product, and that I wouldn’t wear it. That obviously completely defeats the entire purpose of this KAL and the product of my labour! So, I’m calling re-do. My heritage musings aside, and my desire for a sportswear pullover, I feel this will serve my wardrobe best, even if it doesn’t appeal to my intellectual vanity. (I can appease that later!)
Here’s what I’m set on:
Boatneck, instead of crew.
Reversible, instead of fitted yoke (because I’d like to extend the flying geese pattern to the top of both sides).
Contiguous neckband, to avoid having to sew it up later, because I don’t know that I care that much about the rounded quality of the sewn bind-off for this.
3/4 sleeves, because I love them a lot.
Modified raglan for better fit.
Oversized a bit to make it cozy and so that I can layer it if I want.
I’m also switching yarn. The other yarn started to grow on me, but I think it is better suited to be a pullover I gift to a friend than an actual wardrobe staple for me! (Sophie, if you’re reading this, look out, you’re getting something pretty for your birthday/Christmas). So I give you: Madelinetosh-dyed Composition book grey (more purple in this iteration), Valley Yarns Northumbria DK Special Edition. It’s been in my stash for years, and I have decided it needs to be something delightful. Time to shine, guys!
I spoke briefly on my Instagram account about a challenge to myself to finish this pullover in about a week. That doesn’t seem like it will happen, though I was technically capable and have knit that quickly in the past. I hurt my back earlier in the week, and it’s been screaming a bit more loudly over the past two days. (Last night, I had to have Tom wail on my lumbar area so I could sleep.) So, I’m knitting from the couch today, trying to knit as fast as I can from a reclined position, while searching for job postings. Multi-tasking at its finest! It isn’t a race, but I want to get a move on, anyway. Wish me luck!
An imponderable: I have moved to a temperate climate, and I love knitting wool sweaters.
Tomorrow is the last day of summer, and even though the Pacific Northwest cooled down about a week ago, and the rest of the continent seems to be under a haze of heat still, I’m thinking about wearing sweaters and making one, too. I am talking, of course, about my #fringeandfriendskal2016 (FAFKAL) sweater, through Karen Templer and her Fringe Association, as well as Instagram, and all of that good stuff. It got me thinking specifically of the particular quandary I have: I have moved to a temperate climate, and I love knitting wool sweaters. This wouldn’t be a problem but for the fact that I am 1. someone who runs warm on the best of days, 2. a complete fibre snob that doesn’t like cotton or synthetics very much at all, and 3. completely addicted to knitting pullovers.
The weight, materials and overall design of a garment shouldn’t just be based solely on whim or current fashion, but rather the circumstances in which one will wear the garment itself.
The idea that has been bouncing around my head for the last few weeks has finally become coherent. That is: The weight, materials and overall design of a garment shouldn’t be based solely on whim or current fashion (though, to some extent, it will be because of the osmosis of ideas surrounding a person, and the materials available, and one’s dreams about a project), but rather the circumstances in which one will wear the garment itself. Yes, big chunky pullovers done in brioche look fantastic, but do you really need a double-layer of wool in April? Some might, some might not.
…if you will not wear an item, why buy it? To further that, why make it?
I’m hesitant to take this thought to its logical conclusion because it seems a bit deterministic. If you want to make that chunky sweater and wear it for a muggy May in Seattle, then by all means go for it. A person’s imagination shouldn’t be stymied by practicality, but getting to the overall theme of my writing today, and touching on an issue Karen Templer brought up tangentially in preparation of Slow Fashion October: if you will not wear an item, why buy it? To further that, why make it? Even if you love it, and it makes your heart sing, if it’s too warm or too cold for your living situation, should you make it? It’s a bit of an imponderable; I am admittedly guilty of knitting pullovers that I love love (love!) but that I cannot wear more than once or twice a year. Is that frequent enough to justify their existence? Only I can answer that for myself, as others will feel differently about their own projects, but I do know that I’m trying to create clothes that are wearable in my new living circumstances. I’ve gone from blazing hot summers and freezing cold winters, to a kind of moderate climate without too (too) much temperature swing. How do I change my wardrobe to accommodate this? I plan to pay attention to how I’m feeling through the next year, and make a few items I’m sure of, while adjusting the rest of my wardrobe to suit my needs. This KAL, as will be the case with this SFO, is about transitions.
Mindfulness is the most important aspect of this intellectual exercise. It doesn’t matter if you arrive at an opinion on whether to tend towards making for art or practicality, but rather we all need to be aware of the choices we make when we create.
A reason I’m enjoying this KAL so much is that I’m able to experiment with new techniques, and this now includes playing with new sleeve and body lengths, too. While I had done some tweaking on body length before now, with my sweater being entirely of my own creation, I have nobody else’s projects with which to compare my own. I’m working on the first sleeve right now, and I’m not sure I like how it’s coming out; I’ve designed it to be cropped, but I’m afraid I’ve decreased too quickly and directly; I’m going to try it on this afternoon, once I’ve got it a bit longer, and see how I feel about the fit. I’m planning on stopping with adding a good length of ribbing to about the elbow, or just past (thoughts?). I like that I’ll likely be knitting a sweater that I can wear when I’m a bit chilly indoors, without sweating my socks off. Open wrists, for me, mean that I’ll be able to wear a chunkier weight (i.e. worsted weight) sweater without wanting to keel over in a hallway. This project is a creature of whimsy, but is also practical and suited to my daily needs.
How can I honour a life focused on reducing my personal waste and increasing my love of my clothes and surroundings with this stash?
This line of thinking also has me considering my stash. I am only really allowed to knit from stash at the present (a self-determined state of affairs), and will not have purchased yarn for myself for an entire year as of January (creeping ever closer…). I want to go in for all kinds of new yarns, and old ones, too (I need Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter Marls in Newsprint in my life, like, yesterday…. but I am virtuous, and will wait), but I do not want to be wasteful of the materials I already own.
My tastes have changed, as I discussed in my last (brief! manic!) post on my dreams of becoming stashless. I want to wake up one day to a single tote of yarn on the go, and no other crafting commitments beyond what I have in my imagination. How can I honour a life focused on reducing my personal waste and increasing my love of my clothes and surroundings with this stash? I think the answers are there, but I’m working on deciphering them. Knit more for others, surely, and maybe knit for charity, though I am a bit selfish with my handiwork. Regardless of the answers, I’m confident I’ll find equilibrium in my stash, in my life, and in my future project plans. This pullover is steering me down the right path. It’s aptly named (“Migrating Birds”), as it points me in new directions both in my life and my crafting. Is there a difference between the two, really?
This morning I woke up and things felt a bit off. I suffer from anxiety (who doesn’t, it seems?) and today’s point of worry was the fact that I feel like I have too much stuff. I stare at my yarn stash, and it is throat-lump-inducing. I wish I hadn’t developed it, but now I’m saddled with it, and I can’t imagine anyone wants to buy it off me. I might try selling some of it this winter once I get a bit more settled into a routine, as well as selling some shoes I don’t wear but that are pretty collectible and in perfect or near-perfect condition.
Back to: stash.
My ultimate dream is to go stashless
I haven’t bought yarn in over half a year, and I’m planning on holding onto that plan for at least 12 months, if not longer. I want to knit from my stash, as I’m compelled to knit, but I’ve outgrown it in many ways. The things I want to knit right now don’t match the things I wanted to knit a few years ago. My tastes have changed, and (I’d like to think) refined a little. My ultimate dream is to go stashless, to not have this horde of yarn to lug around every time I move. I am therefore slowly cataloguing my yarn, deciding what I can use, how I can use it, and what I need to sell or donate. It’s a shame because the money I used to buy it was hard-got, but my mental health wants simplification, and damn it, I’m giving it that at least.
Instead of this being primarily a boring venting/complaining post, I would like to offer my present and future self a list of goals and methods to keep the stash down where it belongs. I give you:
Aja’s Stashdown Tenets 2016
No buying yarn until that anxious feeling subsides (better than a tangible number of skeins, or projects, as this point — I trust my gut on this).
If buying books or patterns, they must be able to be used with the present stash as it exists. This having been said…
Try to knit from already-purchased patterns in your library. If you don’t like them anymore, someone else will, so get cracking on those gifts (see item 6). As an extension:
No buying online patterns unless you plan to cast on directly. No exceptions.
Get rid of any and all acrylic or unnatural fibres. No exceptions. (This is quite gratifyingly easy as I have a very limited amount of acrylic).
Knit presents for people, if possible, to get rid of stash. Start as early as possible.
Put unwanted stash up for sale on Ravelry. Don’t think twice about it.
Try to enjoy the freedom of taking hold of a situation that makes you uncomfortable and getting through it! This is great!
I am in the midst of making a dark grey heathered Moneta by Colette Patterns. However, it’s an absolutely beautiful day, so I feel compelled to go outside before the door to summer slams shut and we in the Pacific Northwest have to deal with dark drizzle for a few long months.
Consequently, I am back on the trail of my #fringeandfriendskal2016 Top-Down Pullover, Migrating Birds. It’s a portable thing to do on a beautiful afternoon, and I’m quite pleased to have the privilege and time to get at it. I think it is evolving a little in my mind. I am happy to pay homage to my heritage, but I’ve been thinking about how I actually want to wear it. A few weeks ago, I did a mini wardrobe round-up to figure out what kind of style I was aiming for with this project. I think now that I think about it, I have many workhorse pullovers, but few stylized ones. I got to thinking: what if I go in a slightly different direction? Nobody is in control here, but me. I started doodling (albeit poorly; forgive the furtive pen strokes and smudges! My book nearly blew away this afternoon, it got so windy).
I think that I’m going to make the sleeves to the elbow in a kind of nod to mid-century sportswear, so I can wear this with high-waisted skirts and feel vintage but in a kind of updated way. I’ll finish the bottom with a long swathe of twisted ribbing (as the cuffs will be finished, just as I have done for the neckline). It’s actually a compete coincidence that the above photo looks like what I’d like to do (mostly). I found it after I made my decision to illustrate my thoughts a bit better. Mid-century sportswear is great for my body type, and the best part is that I don’t have to make it kitschy by being too vintage. I can make it modern and my very own.
I’m changing directions, trying something new with this. The point of this creation is to explore a bit. If it doesn’t work, I’ll pull it out and see what happens next!
I have been job-hunting for about a week, and this past weekend was a whirlwind punctuated, this morning, by a bit of an ague (i.e. a tiny, fatiguing, but annoying cold). Please pardon the silence!
What have I been up to? Well! Let me regale you with an increasingly autumnal tale.
Tom has had the idea in his head for a few months that, when the time came, we would drive down to his parents’ house in Enumclaw and pick their apples to make apple cidre.* I thought he meant apple cidre, the delicious if cloudy juice drink. He thought he meant hard cidre. We arrive now at an impasse: while I like hard cidre, I’ve yet to have a homemade variant I’ve really enjoyed, and so much prefer to have the soft stuff. He, on the other hand, is really very curious about creating alcohol from apples. He has experience in brewing, don’t you know.
We went down to Enumclaw last Friday when Tom got off work, and picked about 250 pounds of apples off two trees! This was a serious bumper year for apples in Washington State. We also got about 60 pounds from Tom’s friend Ben, who was planning on helping us when it came time to press (it was his uncle’s press, after all).
For two days, our house smelled almost unbearably of apples, and I was really concerned the acetylene off-gassing into the air was going to turn the rest of our food! Obviously, paranoid.
Sunday rolled around, and while I made an apple Dutch Baby to split with Tom for breakfast, he got busy preparing the Pressing Stage (or, our tiny porch, depending on how romantic you’re feeling).
I kept peeking while cooking to see what he was up to. Sanitizing equipment and apple-prepping, it seems. It seemed to me to be such a tiny press in comparison to the larger mostly homemade one my uncle and I have used every autumn for the past several years. I was skeptical, I’ll admit. I knew it was going to take a long time to get through these apples (and it did).
It was about then that my camera got lost in the absolute chaos of our tiny cottage. I had to roll the rug up because men were in and out with apple-juice covered shoes on, simmering juice, decanting and occasionally spilling it all over the porch. The wasps weren’t too bad, but could’ve been better. We had the hose at the ready to water down the sticky mess every once in a while.
Cidremaking isn’t glamorous, anyway. I got apple juice in my eyes while we ground it in to pommace in the little hopper sort of visible in the press pictures (attached to the back), and spent most of the day cleaning up behind the guys, and making a really delightful stuffed pumpkin for dinner (of course, six people showed up as I pulled it out the oven…). We low-temperature pasteurized the cidre to make sure nobody gets sick, and then threw in some champagne yeast (though you could use any, this is a personal preference).
Ultimately, this resulted in these carboys filled with apple juice and yeast!
I did get lucky and go out with Cory to Pacific Fabrics for a bit, amongst other places. I picked up this cute dressmaking book, too (for about half the price of anywhere else I’d seen it, and it’s filled with useful little dressmaking tricks)! It has great little patterns in it that I’m super excited to get making this fall and winter!
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*Hello, I’m a Canadian and I spell it with an -re!