An Inventory

This year, we spent Christmas with my in-laws.  My mother-in-law is in poor health.  She has cancer and then got pneumonia.  She was in the hospital for 2.5 weeks, moving to rehab on the Tuesday after Christmas.  For a while, we thought she wasn’t going to make it to Christmas, but she did.  For the moment she’s stable, but the cancer is advanced and at this point we count each day as a gift.  During the time I visited with her, we talked a lot about her life and what has been important to her and what is important to her now.  “None of that stuff matters to me anymore,” she said, referring to her physical possessions.  What matters to her is speaking with and spending time with her people — her children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends.

In November, my husband was laid off from his job.  This was something we’ve expected for some time, so we’ve saved money and he got a severance payment, so we are not in an immediate financial crisis.  He spent most of the last six weeks with his mother and is now starting to look for a job.  We don’t know how long it will take for him to find a job, so we need to manage carefully so that the money we have lasts for as long as possible.  As a result, buying yarn and fiber are definitely off the list!  I must craft from stash.

These two factors have me thinking a lot about what really matters and about how I want to spend my time.  I am feeling the need to let go of some things and consolidate others.  I want to spend more time on my fiber pursuits.  Over the last few years, I’ve acquired an astonishing variety of fiber books, tools, and supplies.  I’ve acquired things at a much quicker clip than I’ve crafted them.  Once upon a time, I kept Ravelry up-to-date, but I fell out of the habit.  I feel as though I don’t really know what I have anymore and to make plans, I need to know what I have.  It’s time for an inventory.

Fortunately, inventorying is in my blood.  For most of my growing up years, my father worked in stock rooms.  When I was very small, he worked in the warehouse of a local clothing store.  When I was 11, we moved to a different state where he had a new job as the manager of a hospital stock room.  My sister and I went to a private school in the same town as the hospital, which was a 30-minute drive from where we lived.  We commuted with my father.  Since we got out of school a couple of hours before he got out of work, we spent those hours at the hospital.  We usually stayed in the cafeteria, working on our homework.  Sometimes, especially on days when they were short-staffed, we hung out in the stock room, working on homework and occasionally answering the phone to take orders from the floors while the employees pulled and delivered the needed items. Twice a year, on a Sunday, the stock room closed for inventory.  All the stock room employees came in, along with people in other administrative departments, and my sister and I.  We counted every single item on every single shelf, balancing the inventory against the computer.

I started my personal inventory process before Christmas.  I started by consolidating — putting away all the random yarn and projects scattered around the house.  It’s a lot easier to do inventory when everything is where it belongs.  It’s a little scary to flash my stash, but here’s the pix so you can see where I am now.

These bins are the main stash collection.  Each of these is a 40 quart bin.  One of the bins holds finished projects waiting to be gifted, but the rest are full of yarn and fiber.  I sorted the fiber by type (wool, plant fiber, blends, batts, etc).  There’s so much wool that it takes up 8 bins and I’ve alphabetized the wool by breed.  I separated the yarn by weaving yarn and knitting / crocheting yarn.  Then I sorted each of those categories  size of the yarn.

 

These shelves hold the yarns made from plant fibers.  It’s mostly cotton, but there’s some linen and bamboo in there also.

 

These batts have been living in this suitcase since I bought them last April because I can’t fit them anywhere else.

 

This pile consists mostly of raw fleece, waiting for me to wash and process it.  There’s also a couple of bags of yarn that I haven’t put away.  That’s my four-harness, 28″ weaving width LeClerc Fanny counterbalance loom under all that fleece.

 

This bin holds raw fleece in smaller quantities.  There’s a variety of breeds in this bin, but no more than a pound from any one fleece.

 

These boxes hold fleeces that I bought and had processed by mills.  I believe there’s three fleeces total in here.  They are sitting on top of my four harness, 22″ weaving width Dorset direct tie-up loom.

These bins and the hamper on top of them hold WIPs.  A couple of years ago, I conquered all my WIPs, but now I have a new pile.

 

These are smaller bins, about twice the size of a shoebox.  They hold a couple of WIPs, including two or three that only need blocking, but mostly they are projects waiting for me to cast on.  I matched yarn to patterns and sometimes the needles are with them also.

 

Finally, this is my fabric collection.  Last spring and summer, I took sewing lessons.  I’ve mostly sewed pillowcases, which we send to the pediatric oncology ward where my cousin works, for nurses to distribute to the kids.  I actually have a lot more fabric than this, but everything I bought for pillowcases is stored at my mother’s house.  This is everything I have at my house.

 

I have complicated feelings about all this stash.  I’ll be writing more about it as I continue the inventory process.  My goal for the next week is to get Ravelry back up-to-date.  I’ve downloaded the spreadsheet of my Ravelry stash as a starting point.  I’ll write an update next week, to share my progress and next goal.

Crafting CPH

“Why would you spend $25 on yarn to knit a pair of socks when you can buy a dozen pairs at Walmart for maybe $10?”  Every crafter I know has been asked some variant of this question.  Usually the crafter stumbles through a response, defending the reasons she or he chooses to work with fiber.  Afterwards, the crafter might rant on Facebook or Ravelry about the latest inquiry they’ve gotten along this line and  how non-crafters just don’t get it.

There are many wonderful reasons to craft with fiber; Franklin Habit’s recent blog post on Lion Brand Yarns site provides a far more eloquent explanation than I’m able to write and the comments on that post share many personal perspectives on the question.  I believe it is valuable to share our reasons for crafting with fiber.  Maybe you’ll inspire someone to pick up needles or hooks and yarn!

But perhaps you don’t want to share your personal perspective with the latest random stranger to comment on your work.  Or perhaps you have a relative or co-worker who has commented multiple times and discounts the reasons you have given.  For these circumstances, I propose the kind of practical, emotion-free response the Inquisitor seems to require: the Crafting Cost Per Hour (CCPH).

The Inspiration

I read Your Money or Your Life (Amazon affiliate link, Summary on author’s website) a couple of decades ago, when I was in my early 20s.  The book offers a 9-step method for transforming our relationship to money.  The book starts with the idea that we exchange our time for money.  One step is to calculate exactly how much you are paid per hour.  This amount isn’t the hourly figure your employer uses to calculate your pay.  You add into your weekly hours the time you spent on work-related tasks like commuting and you deduct from your weekly gross salary the costs related to your job, then calculate your actual hourly rate based on these new figures.

For example, let’s say you work 40 hours per week and are paid $10 per hour for a weekly gross salary of $400.  Perhaps your commute is 1/2 hour each way on public transit and you pay $80 per month = $20 per week for a monthly transit pass, which you use only to get to and from work.  These commuting expenses and time mean that your weekly gross salary is reduced to $380 and your work hours increased to 45 hours per week.  Your actual hourly wage is $380 / 45 hours = $8.44.  The summary link above has a list of other work-related time and expenses that you can contemplate if you wish to calculate your own hourly wage.

In the Your Money or Your Life method, once you calculate your hourly wage, you then divide every expense you have by that hourly wage to determine how many hours of your life you traded for that item.  Then you evaluate that item by asking yourself if the number of hours you traded for that item are as valuable as the item itself.

While I have not consistently followed the steps of Your Money or Your Life, some of the ideas have stayed in the back of my mind and, when I saw yet another post about a Cost of Sock Inquisitor, I was inspired to calculate what each hour of craft costs.

Basic Crafting Cost Per Hour

If you’ve purchased finished yarn and then knit, crocheted, or woven it into finished object, calculating the cost per hour is straightforward.  Simply divide the cost of the yarn by the number of hours it took (or will take) you to finish the project(s) you will knit with that yarn.

$25 for sock yarn / 20 hours to knit socks = CCPH of $1.25 / hour

Some people try to convince you that spinning is even more expensive than knitting or crocheting.  However, when looked at from the perspective of CCPH, that isn’t necessarily the case.  If you purchased a 4 ounce braid of spinning fiber for $30, spun and plied it, then knit it into a pair of socks, your CCPH is lower than knitting socks with purchased yarn.

$30 for fiber / (8 hours to spin + 2 hours to ply + 20 hours to knit) = $30 / 30 hours = CCPH of $1.00 / hour

If you mostly just want to respond to Inquisitors, you can use the basic formula and create a rule of thumb for the projects you most commonly knit in public.  Maybe your carry around project is always socks and you know about how long it takes you to knit a pair.  Calculate your CCPH once for each type of project and you’re done.

Beyond the Basics

I know that many of you profess to not like math and for you, the basic crafting cost per hour will be sufficient to respond to the Inquisitor.  Feel free to skip this section.  But I happen to love math, and there are many knitters who love math also.  Perhaps you might decide to calculate the CCPH for every project you do, just for fun.

We all know that our fiber crafting projects cost more than just the yarn or fiber for that project.  We have costs for tools, classes, storage.  We also know that the benefits are more than just the finished project.  We spend time with friends while we craft.  We watch less TV, or TV time is productive because we are crafting, not just sitting.  These costs and benefits are variable, personal, and more difficult in the accounting.  However, these types of variable and personal costs are considered in the Your Money or Your Life method, and I believe we can consider them in our context also.  I’m only going to explore two factors — tools and time — in depth, but use this as inspiration to think carefully and creatively about the costs and benefits associated with your fiber crafting!

Tools

If we choose good quality tools, fit to the task, they will last for a long time.  So how do we account for them in calculating CCPH.  I have two thoughts on this, depending on if they are small tools (needles, hooks, etc) or large tools (looms, spinning wheels, etc).  For small tools, I’m inclined to include them in the cost of the first project I make with them.  If I buy a second US 1 needle so I can knit my socks on two circulars, the cost of that needle can be added to the cost of that sock project.  From then on, the use of that tool is free.

Large tools need to be depreciated in some way.  Pick the time period over which to depreciate the tool — a year, two, three, four, five — whatever you prefer.  Divide the cost of the tool by the number of years to determine your cost per year.  Whenever you use the tool, keep track of how long you use it.  Keep a running total of the number of hours you use it as well as the number of hours used on a specific project.  At the end of the year, divide the cost per year by the number of hours you used the tool that year to determine your hourly cost for use of the tool.  For each project using that tool, multiply the number hours of use by the calculated hourly cost of the tool.  Once you come to the end of your depreciation period, use of the tool is free.

I made a quick little Google spreadsheet to illustrate the depreciation of my spinning wheel, a Kromski Fantasia.  I bought the wheel in 2013 and I’m not going back to look at all the projects I’ve done on it.  I’m just using two projects as an illustration here.  My first thought was to depreciate the wheel over 5 years.  Here’s what that spreadsheet looks like:

 

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Even with the use of a relatively expensive tool, and a modest amount of use of the tool (less than 1.5 hours / week), each project’s cost per hour of crafting is modest.  What happens if we decide to depreciate the spinning wheel over just one year, still with the same modest use of the wheel?

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While the cost per project and CCPH at least triple, the CCPH is still incredibly low.  On a per hour basis, depreciating the spinning wheel over one year with less than 1.5 hours use in a week, costs about the same as going to a movie in the theater. Once I’ve finished depreciating the wheel and the use of it no longer counts in my cost per project, the CCPH of my spinning projects will be pennies.

Obviously, this calculation will vary wildly depending on the price of the tool, the time period you choose for depreciation, and your actual use of the tool after you purchase it.  But that’s to be expected.  I’m just offering a way to capture this cost on a per project basis.  And perhaps a useful analysis to justify the purchase of your next loom or spinning wheel!

Time

I think the total time for a project can and should be increased to account for the other benefits we receive from pursuing our fiber crafts.  This might sound like cheating, because you will be double-counting time, but let me see if I can convince you otherwise.  I can knit or crochet or spin or weave in a variety of circumstances.  I might be at home alone, doing nothing but knitting.  I might be home with my husband, watching TV in the evening.  I might be in public, doing a demo where I am specifically looking to interact with people and explain what I’m doing.  I might be in public, waiting for an appointment to start or flying on a plane.  I might be hanging out with friends, at knit night, at a retreat, or in a cabana by the river (like I was yesterday).

Each of these scenarios offers me benefits that aren’t specifically related to my fiber crafting.  Time that might otherwise be wasted feels productive.  Friendships grow, providing a sense of emotional well-being.  I get some down time and to be outside.  I don’t have to be fiber crafting to get these benefits — I could hang out in a cabana by the river with friends and just chat all day without doing fiber crafts at the same time.  Fiber-crafting while also accruing these other benefits is multi-tasking.  Therefore, the time should count more than once — the first time it counts as time accrued for the finished product and the next time it counts as time accrued for process.

In addition, double (or perhaps triple or quadruple) counting time builds into our equation, and our response to the Inquisitor, all the very personal reasons why we knit.  We can give what sounds like a practical, emotion-free, by-the-numbers response while simultaneously honoring rather than denying the real soul of our work.  We don’t have to share all those details with the Inquisitor — that would defeat an important purpose of the CCPH calculation — but we know we’ve included, rather than denied, what is truly important to us.

The amount of time to count for these extra benefits is up to you.  If I’m waiting for an appointment or knitting while watching TV, I’m unlikely to double-count all that time.  In these instances, I’m turning otherwise unproductive time into productive time by knitting.  This time is tied very closely to the product rather than the process.  It’ll take 20 hours to knit these socks, regardless of circumstances, and I’ve just captured a particular piece of those 20 hours.  In the case of knitting while watching TV, did I turn the TV on as background for my knitting?  Or would I watch TV anyway?  Either way, I’m not getting a huge amount of value out of the TV watching.  Maybe I’ll double-count 25% or 50% of the time.

On the other hand, when I spend a day fiber-crafting in a cabana by the river, I am receiving multiple benefits above and beyond the fiber work.  I’m outside, which is a huge benefit in and of itself.  I’m with friends.  Maybe I should triple-count all the time I’m crafting at the river.  And even when I’m not actively fiber crafting, because I’m grilling burgers or eating, I still count that time towards my project because I wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for the fiber.

The important thing here is to honestly account for the benefits you are receiving from the fiber crafting.  You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone else.  You just need to be honest with yourself.

A New Response

Now you’re ready for the next time someone asks, “Why would you spend $25 on yarn to knit a pair of socks when you can buy a dozen pairs at Walmart for maybe $10?”

Rather than rolling your eyes and explaining all your personal reasons for knitting, try this: “You’re looking at it through the wrong lens.  It’s true that I don’t have to knit.  I do it as a hobby that brings me great joy.  And when viewed that way, it is incredibly inexpensive, especially when compared to other entertainment.  This yarn might cost $25, but it’s going to take me 20 hours to knit these socks, which means I’m paying only $1.25 per hour of entertainment.  What other entertainment is so inexpensive?”

 

Another Day, Another Waiting Room

One of my favorite things about fiber work is how you can always find something to work on that fits your current circumstances.  Have lots of time and mental space?  You can learn a new craft or take on a complicated project like colorwork or complex lace.  Just need something mindless?  You can crank out some stockinette or granny stitch or plain weave scarves.  On the go?  You can bring along a small project that can easily be put down if needed, like socks or dishcloths.

My current purse project is crochet dishcloths.  I like how easy it is to put crochet down.  You don’t have to worry about dropping stitches, so you don’t need to carefully secure anything.  If I’m on the monorail from the parking lot to the Magic Kingdom, waiting for food at a restaurant, waiting in a doctor’s office, I can work a few stitches and when we arrive at our destination, the food comes to the table, or the doctor enters the room, I can toss the project back into my pocket or purse with no fuss.

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time in the waiting room of veterinarians’ offices.  It all started back in December 2014, when my sister, in Florida for Christmas, first noticed that Tiger’s lip was red and slightly swollen on one side.  I brought him to the vet in January 2015.  They didn’t think it was anything terrible.  “Change him from a plastic bowl to aluminum,” they said. “Sometimes cats react to plastic.”

We changed the bowls.  The swelling seemed worse.  In July, we brought him for his regular semi-annual appointment and pointed it out to the vet again.  “He’s probably allergic to something,” they said.  We went through a course of steroids, one pill a day.  It didn’t seem to help.  We tried two pills a day and he got very aggressive, so I stopped the pills and brought him to the vet.  We tried every other day.  No change.

So we did allergy testing.  It turned out he’s allergic to corn, an ingredient in almost all cat foods.  We found food that doesn’t contain corn and switched to that.  The swelling was still there.

 

Tiger likes food...
Tiger likes food…

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Yes, Chris did order Tiger a take out burger.

We tried another course of steroids, thinking that perhaps the problem was one of his other allergies (a variety of environmental things like molds and pollen).  No change.  By now it was December 2015.  It had been a year of trying things.  “Is there anything else we can do?” I asked.  The vet recommended a biopsy, which would tell us what was causing his allergic reaction.  So in January, a few days after getting back from Stacy’s wedding in Indiana, we brought him to our vet for the biopsy.

A week later, the results came in: Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor.  Cancer.  The vet was surprised; he’s practiced for many years and never seen this type of tumor present in this fashion.  We’re lucky it is a low grade tumor and hasn’t grown much over the last year.  Our regular vet referred us to the oncology department at the regional specialty vet, which fortunately is not far from our home.

Two years before the tumor appeared.
Two years before the tumor appeared.

We met with the oncologist.  We weren’t sure if surgery would be an option, given the location of the tumor right on the front of his face, but one of the surgeons thought that the tumor was small enough that we did have a surgical option.

Tiger, the first day home after the surgery.
Tiger, the first day home after the surgery.

The oncologist and the surgeon both told us that after the surgery, Tiger would probably have to have radiation therapy.  Radiation therapy would kill any microscopic cancer cells remaining after the surgery.  When they do surgery, they take healthy tissue around the tumor, because the surgeon can’t see microscopic cancer cells.  The theory is that taking tissues that appear to be healthy will make sure all the cancer is gone.  The surgeon likes to get a least 1 cm of healthy tissue around the tumor.  However, because of the location of this particular tumor, taking that much healthy tissue would mean Tiger would be disfigured.  His gum would be exposed, which could cause it to dry out and that would be a problem.  It was unlikely that the surgeon would be able to get a sufficient margin, and she might not be able to get all of the tumor.

A week after surgery, the pathology report came back.  The surgeon got a minimum 5 mm margin, much better than she expected.  With that much margin, waiting to see what would happen — if the tumor would grow back — was an option.  So was radiation therapy.  “If I’d gotten 3 more mm, I would tell you that Tiger does not need radiation therapy,” the surgeon said.  “As it is, waiting is an option and so is radiation.  None of us has a crystal ball; we don’t know what will happen.  The cancer could be gone forever.  It could come back in a month.  Or in 5 years.  It’s up to you what you want to do.”

We met with the oncologist again, so we could learn about the course of treatment.  It’s 18-20 treatments, every weekday for 4 weeks.  He must be under anesthesia for each treatment, but it’s a twilight level, not all the way under.  He’ll lose the hair in the area of the radiation, but not over his whole body.  His face will be shaved in the area of the treatment, even before the hair falls out.  When the hair grows back in, it will grow back white.  We’ll have to be careful every time he has his teeth cleaned for the rest of his life.  He might lose his appetite, and might have to have appetite stimulants or even a feeding tube.  He’ll probably require pain meds.  He will develop the equivalent of a very bad sunburn in the area of the treatment.

We went home and agonized for several hours.  It’s hard to imagine putting the cat through the treatment.  But it’s also hard to swallow doing less than everything we could for him.  You see, we love all of our cats and would do the best for them that we possibly could.  But there’s no question that Tiger is our favorite.  This is a cat just oozing in personality:

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He’s the cuddliest cat I’ve ever met.  If you aren’t paying attention to him, he’ll be sure to let you know when he needs some love.

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He’s such a photogenic cat.  Partially because he’s so pretty:

Once upon a time, he was a tiny kitten!

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But also because he is so patient.  This is why he often models my finished objects!

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But most importantly, Tiger and Chris are bosom buddies.  Tiger picked Chris as his person.  Every day, when Chris comes home from work, Tiger runs to the door to greet him.  Tiger follows Chris everywhere, even when Chris is pacing while talking on the phone.  Chris might complain when the cat wants to cuddle all the time and is constantly underfoot, but there’s no doubt that he loves the cat.  They are inseparable.

 

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We decided to go ahead with Radiation Therapy.  Tiger is 13 now, and in excellent health other than this tumor.  If the tumor did come back at some point in the future, he might not be so healthy and able to endure surgery and radiation.  And so this morning I found myself back in the veterinarian’s waiting room, dropping off Tiger for his first treatment.

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In his carrier, this morning, waiting.

I pulled out my current dishcloth and crocheted a few rows, finding solace in the familiar rhythm.

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P.S.  Just as I finished typing this post, the vet’s office called.  He did very well with his first treatment and he’ll be ready to come home in about an hour!

 

 

 

 

How Many Projects?

I’m taking a time out from packing to write a quick post.  Last November, I registered attend PlyAway, a spinning conference hosted by PLY Magazine.  My friend Lorelle was planning to go too, but by the time registration came around, she knew she wouldn’t be able to attend.  “I’d love to go to fiber events with you,” she lamented, “but work and other financial obligations keep me from going.  Why aren’t there any local retreats?”

“We can make our own retreat,” I responded.  And so we have.  This weekend, six of us our staying in a condo on the beach.  One or two others are driving in for the day on Saturday.  I’m the only one who knows everyone going.  Everyone else knows no more than two others and some (including Lorelle) don’t know anyone other than me. We have no firm schedule.  Everyone’s bringing their projects.  Via e-mail, everyone shared what they are bringing and what they’d like to learn.  Fredi’s bringing unwashed fleece and will show us how to wash it.  She’s bringing her drum carder and hand combs so we can make rolags if we wish.  I’m bringing all my acid dyes and equipment for dyeing, including bare yarn.  Dawn’s bringing bare fiber.  Dawn, Nancy, and I are all bringing our rigid heddle looms.  Shellee and Lorelle have never woven before and want to try it out.  Everyone except Shellee spins; she’s going to try the spindles Nancy and Dawn are bringing.  Everyone else is also bringing their spinning wheels.  Shellee will show us her unique method of knitting.  She speeds along so fast, her hands are a blur.

So now I’m packing, and I must consider the first question — the one a fiber crafter always asks before she packs anything else — which projects shall I bring?  How many is too many.

I’m definitely bringing the current project on my rigid heddle loom.

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I’ll bring yarn to warp the loom again, in case I finish this project.  I have at least 3 spinning projects in progress, but I’m only going to bring the Three Feet of Sheep with me.

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I really run into trouble with the knitting projects.  Shall I bring the Bubble Baby Blanket that I haven’t worked on in months, but is part of my Detention OWL for the Harry Potter Knitting / Crochet House Cup (HPKCHC)?

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Or the Begonia Swirl Shawl that I started months ago to replace the one that was accidentally felted?

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Of course I’m going to bring the Cloisters Shawl I only started working on a week and a half ago!

I need to bring some crochet.  Because I must have all the things, right?  I’ll probably just toss some cotton and a hook into my bag so I can whip up some quick dishcloths.  Maybe 2, no 3, who am I kidding 4, better make it 5, seriously 6 skeins is the limit.

Am I bringing enough? Better toss in just one more thing — I don’t want to run out of projects.

Oh!  Shellee is bringing blocking mats and wires.  I need to bring the 3 shawls I have laying about that just need blocking!

A Year of Projects: 2016, Week 1

I have not yet written crafting goals for 2016.  November and December were pretty crazy around here!  First was my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday on Thanksgiving Day.  Then there was the Weavers of Orlando Annual Sale, followed the next weekend by the Holiday Party.  Then we had Christmas festivities with my family.  On December 28, I flew to Indiana to play matron of honor for Stacy’s wedding on January 2.  Chris flew up on December 31 so we got to spend New Year’s Eve together.  We just flew home this afternoon, to a cooler and wetter Florida than I left last Monday.  Stacy’s reception was held in a building at the same fairgrounds that hosts The Fiber Event.  It was so strange to be in that building without seeing rows of lovely fiber, yarn, and tools for sale!

This past week has been busy as the wedding preparations including baking 680 cookies and a 5-tier wedding cake!  Stacy, her mother, her aunt, her sister-in-law, and I baked the cookies last Wednesday.  Fortunately, we had the use of Stacy’s parents’ church kitchen, which had a commercial oven that could fit 150 cookies at once.  We baked all 680 cookies in only 3.5 hours!

Here I am putting the last batch in the oven!
Here I am putting the last batch in the oven!

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After baking cookies, we started on the cakes.  I was the lead decorator and giver of orders, as I have been decorating cakes since I was 12!  I made the cakes and the lemon curd.  Stacy made the chocolate ganache and all the buttercream and mixed lemon buttercream and raspberry buttercream.

I may have used this cookbook once or twice.
I may have used this cookbook once or twice.

Her mother and aunt cut out fondant Christmas trees and painted them with powdered food coloring.  I showed Stacy’s sister-in-law how to pipe miniature Christmas trees and she cranked out 250 of them, while Stacy’s mother went behind her putting the little stars on top of each tree.

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The army of trees.

Stacy’s brother cut the dowel rods that help support each tier (using a pipe cutter borrowed from a cousin) and her father cut and sharpened the dowel rod that goes from the top to bottom through all the tiers.  When it came time to stack all the cakes, Chris helped me line up my edges correctly.  At every step of the way, Stacy and I discussed colors and placement of pieces.  This is the first time I’ve made a cake in such a collaborative fashion.  It was so much fun, and I love the result!

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Now that the wedding is over and I’m home, it’s time to look ahead and lay out my goals for 2016.

Taking Stock

Before I start making ambitious plans for myself, I wanted to look back at 2015, to see what I finished and what remains unfinished.  I’m working on a slide show of all the projects I finished this year, and I will publish that later this week.  Today, I’m making a list of all my WIPs.  It’s a scary list, even though it only includes projects I’ve actually started, not everything in my mental queue!

Knitting WIPs

Projects started in 2015

  • TKGA Master Knitter, Level 1
    • This week I will start working on addressing my gauge issue
  • Splash Socks (started in April 2015)
  • Tier Scarf (started in June 2015)
  • Miranda Shawl (started in July 2015)
  • Bubbles Baby Blanket (started in July 2015)
  • Morrigan Shawl (started in August 2015)
  • Begonia Swirl Shawl Redux (started in August 2015)
  • Finishing
    • I still have all the sweaters I got from S.  They need to be seamed and blocked.  I believe there’s 10 or 11 projects right there!

Projects started prior to 2015

  • Dishcloth Advent Calendar
    • I need to knit or crochet 18 each of 25 different patterns.  This is a list of the knitted dishcloths I’ve finished.
    • 18 leaves
    • 18 tribble scrubbies
    • 18 waffle stitch
    • 4 brick pattern
    • 16 illusion heart
    • 4 random designs (1 each of 4 different patterns)
  • Traveling Scarf
  • Evenstar
  • Baby Blue Monster

Crochet WIPs

  • Granny Square Blanket (started in 2014)
  • Skulls and Roses Scarves (started in October 2015)
  • Dishcloth Advent Calendar
    • I need to knit or crochet 18 each of 25 different patterns.  This is a list of the crochet dishcloths I’ve finished.
    • 18 hyperbolic
    • 9 ladderstitch
    • 4 or 5 diagonal (corner to corner)

Spinning WIPs

  • Camel Down / Silk Blend (started in September 2015)
  • Three Feet of Sheep (started in August 2015)
  • One pound of BFL (started in November 2015)

Weaving WIPs

Since the only loom I’ve been using is my rigid heddle, I only have one weaving project in process!  I started this scarf on December 5, 2015 while at the Weavers of Orlando Annual Sale, so that I could demo weave.  I talked to many people throughout the days of the sale and did a fair bit of weaving.  I haven’t had time to work on it since.

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In addition to this project, I now have the storage unit full of weaving things to sort.  This includes minor repairs to one loom (the 36″ Harrisville) and probably a complete refinish of a second loom (the 48″ Macomber).  I’m hoping to the the storage unit cleaned out by mid-February, though the refinishing job will most likely take longer than that.

Dyeing

Dyeing doesn’t really have WIPs as something is either dyed or it isn’t.  But this is a list of dyeing projects I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t.

  • Dye Maple Leaf Shawls (pending since December 2014)
  • Dye Triangles (pending since August 2014)
  • water source / pH experiment (pending since early 2015)

I’m not sure if this is actually all my WIPs.  It’s everything I could find laying about or listed in my Ravelry project pages, but I’m sure I missed more.

A Year of Projects: Week 51

I haven’t updated my progress since week 29, back in July!  Since we’re coming to the end of the year, it’s time to review my goals and start thinking about goals for next year.  Anything that’s crossed through in the list is something I did not get to at all.  If I did any work on a goal, even if it isn’t finished, I kept it on the list and made notes about its status.  In early January, I will publish a slide show with pictures of every project I finished this year and a list of goals for next year.  While I didn’t finish everything I hoped to finish this year, I am happy with what I accomplished.  I learned a great deal, especially about crochet, and I’m looking forward to learning more in 2016!

Review of 2015 Goals

Knitting

  • Knit myself a sweater  Moved to 2016.  In July, my friend Stacy got engaged and I’ve been working on projects for her wedding instead of knitting a sweater!
  • Improve my finishing techniques
  • Finish MHK Level 1 
    • First 3 swatches finished by June 24, 2015
    • Swatch #14 finished July 11, 2015
    • Swatches 1-12 knit on size 7 needles, finished by July 19, 2015
    • I did actually finish the swatches by the dates listed here.  I went to Masters’ Day at the TKGA Conference and learned that I had guttering issues I need to work out before finishing my swatches.  I haven’t gotten back to my swatches yet.
  • Dishcloth Advent Calendar
    • Tribbles, finished January 18, 2015
    • Leaves, finished March 30, 2015 but never blogged
    • Waffle Stitch, finished November 18, 2015 but never blogged
    • Heart Illusion Dishcloths (in progress; need to knit two more dishcloths and weave in ends on two finished dishcloths)
    • While I made progress on the Dishcloth Advent Calendar project, it is not complete and will be rolled over into 2016
  • Charity Knits
    • Mock Rib Scarf, finished January 18, 2015
    • Emergency Scarf, finished June 1, 2015
    • A Tisket, A Tasket Scarf, finished September 28, 2015
    • Traveling Scarf, finished September 28, 2015
    • On Location Scarf, finished November 25, 2015
  • Do some test knits
  • Finish or frog all UFOs
    • Traveling Scarf
      • This is different than the Traveling Scarf listed above under Charity Knits.  This one is still in progress!
    • Bigger on the Inside Hat, frogged December 2015
    • Evenstar
    • Quinn Bag, finished July 2015
    • Baby Blue Monster
  • Socks
  • Other Projects
  • Design at least one project from scratch
    • Super Secret Shawl, finished June 1, 2015
    • Traveling Scarf, also listed under Charity Knits above, published free pattern on blog and Ravelry, November 2015

Crochet

  • Learn to read crochet patterns
  • Learn all the basic crochet stitches.
  • Make at least one non-granny square crochet project
    • Five crocheted skulls & roses scarves, three finished by October 31, 2015; two still pending assembly
    • Hyperbolic Dishcloths, finished October 3, 2015
  • Dishcloth Advent Calendar
    • Diagonal Crochet Dishcloths (in progress)
    • Hyperbolic Crochet, finished October 3, 2015

Spinning

  • Breed Specific Spinning
    • Cormo, finished September 2015
    • BFL (in progress)
  • Learn to spin on a drop spindle, goal moved to 2016

Weaving

  • Continue playing with color and weave drafts
    • Ravenclaw Houndstooth Scarf, finished January 19, 2015
    • Solid Warp, alternating picks, one of which matches warp, finished December 4, 2015
  • Learn pick up stick drafts
  • Learn Inkle Weaving
    • Completed first inkle band as part of the “All the Crafts” Hat, September 30, 2015
  • Learn Kumihimo braiding
  • Explore Twill weaves on the floor loom
  • Make items for the Guild Sale
  • Other

Dyeing

  • Finish dyeing the MAPLE LEAF Shawls
  • pH / water source experiment
  • Return to dye triangles project

TKGA 2015: The Cherries on Top

I went to TKGA primarily for education, but I signed up for every event I possibly could.  Since I was traveling all the way across the country to attend this Conference, I might as well do All The Things!  These extra events were the Market Preview, The Breakfast of Brilliance, and The Yarn Tasting.  I realize that the title of this blog sounds like it is the last post in this series on TKGA.  It is not.  These extra events took place on Thursday and Friday.  I’m publishing this post today since I’m writing in roughly chronological order.  I did attend two classes on Saturday and I will post about them tomorrow.

But before I get to those events, I have to share this license plate, which Heather and I spotted in the hotel parking lot when we were on our way back from lunch on Thursday:

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I particularly love how the setting sun looks like a ball of yarn!

The Market Preview

The market did not open to the public until Friday, but anyone attending the conference got to go into the market from 7 to 9 pm on Thursday.  When we arrived 20 minutes before the doors opened, the line reached all the way across the lobby!

We're waiting for those double doors in the distance to open.
We’re waiting for those double doors in the distance to open.

The line grew quickly, snaking around the lobby.  By the time the doors opened, the back of the line was nearly to the market doors.

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First view of the market.
First view of the market.

I headed straight to RedFish Dyeworks.  I had not heard of these local dyers before, but during the Finishing Course on Thursday, Arenda showed us several Fair Isle sweaters she’d knit with their yarn and raved about their color sense.  I bought a package of twelve 50g / 450 yard skeins of 20/2 silk for weaving:

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I also bought 4 ounces of 50% silk / 50% baby camel roving.  The roving is incredibly soft thanks to the baby camel fiber and has the sheen of silk.  I can’t wait to spin it!

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Newton’s Yarn Country booth was next door to RedFish Dyeworks.  Their booth was standing room only!

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They sell weaving yarns at excellent prices.  I looked through the booth, but didn’t buy anything.  Most of their yarns were cotton or tencel and I already have many cones of those fibers for weaving.

The Yarnover Truck was in the house.  Like literally in the house, on the market floor.

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Four Purls, a LYS in Lakeland, FL, has a yarn truck, which I’ve seen at various events (e.g. Orlando Distaff Day 2015), but it’s always parked outside.  I love the name “Yarnover Truck.”  I want to call them and ask them bring that yarn over.  Too bad I live on the opposite side of the country.  The inside of the truck is lovely, with built-in cubbies full of yarn:

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I didn’t buy anything from them during the market preview, but I came back later to pick up some yarn for a baby blanket that I’m making for a friend.

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Another booth carried Jelly Yarn.

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Remember those jelly shoes every little girl had back in the late 70s and early 80s? This yarn feels just like those shoes.  And some of the colors glow in the dark:

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I resisted the temptation to buy some during the market preview because what would I actually do with it?  While it’s tempting to think that I might knit myself jelly shoes (or slippers, perhaps) I’m certain they’d be too fragile to wear outside during a Florida summer. I was unable to resist its siren call for the entire Conference however.  Three skeins came home with me (in Ravenclaw colors, of course).

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Unique Market Features

The TKGA / CGOA Market had two unique features: The Brilliance Bar and a Yarn Winding Station.

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During posted Office Hours, at least two Master Hand Knitter Committee Members manned the Brilliance Bar.  Attendees could make an appointment to ask knitting-related questions.  Whether you wanted a little info on the Master Hand Knitter program or you needed help trouble-shooting a current project, this was the place to go!  I didn’t personally make an appointment — almost every class I took was taught by a Committee Member, so I had many opportunities to ask questions during the Conference.  I’d love to hear comments from people who did visit the Brilliance Bar or people who worked it.  What kind of help did you get?  What was the craziest problem anyone brought to the Bar?

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OMG.  Every fiber event should have one of these.  I realize it might not be practical for a large event like Maryland Sheep and Wool, but why haven’t I seen this at the smaller events I’ve attended?  I could knit my new yarns NOW.  I don’t have to wait to get home to my swift and ball winder!

CGOA Member Design Competition

Each year, CGOA (Crochet Guild of America) runs a Member Design Competition.  Entrants must submit their work by July 1.  Pieces are on display at the Conference Market and prizes are announced at the Saturday night banquet.  “Entries must be original designs that have not been previously entered in this competition, previously published in any print or electronic media, or otherwise publicly available before the date of competition (our judges need to have never seen this work before).  Entries do not have to be new or recently crocheted, as long as they are your own designs.” (from the Eligibility Guidelines, available on the members-only section of CGOA’s website).  This year, crocheters could enter pieces in 7 categories: Fashion, Accessories, Home Decor and Afghans, Thread Crochet, Young Designer (25 years old or younger), and First-Time Entrant / Non-Professional (no designs previously published in any form).  CGOA judges awarded prizes in each category.  Anyone attending the Market could vote for one piece for the Attendee Favorite.  Here’s a few of my favorites:

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I though this afghan was knitted, but it is Tunisian Crochet.

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I sent my newly engaged friend Stacy a picture of this and suggested she crochet it for her wedding gown. She’s a talented crocheter, but I don’t think she’s convinced that this would be the right thing for her!

My favorite pieces were all by the same person: fiber artist Kayt Ross.  Her website (www.vivaciousart.com) is down, but she does have a Facebook page.

This crocheted cat suit probably looks unwearable:

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But someone has actually worn it and looked amazing in it.  I found this picture on Pinterest; it was pinned from the artist’s website.

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Ross’s entry in the Afghan category was only partially visible under the other afghans.  I love the color combination and the freeform shape.

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Her piece Danikil Depression won Third Place in the Artistic Expression category.  This one was so huge that it was difficult to get good pictures.  Here’s a couple of angles.

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Her piece Cobblestones won Second Place in the Artistic Expression category.

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Finally, the piece that I considered the showstopper: “Emily Rose”.  I voted for this one for People’s Choice.  I don’t know if it won in that category or not, but it did win First Place in the First Time Entrant category and the overall Grand Prize.  Yes, this really is crochet.  I leaned in as close as I could get to the piece without touching it and even that close it was difficult to see the stitches.  It’s beautiful work.

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The list of all the winners, except People’s Choice, is on MarlyBird’s website.  She was at the show and did book signings.  I believe she was also one of the Design Competition Judges.

The Breakfast of Brilliance

The Breakfast of Brilliance started at 7:30 am Friday.

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At this event, anyone who finished Master Knitter Level 3 (the final level) since the last Knit & Crochet Show received a pin from current Committee Chair Suzanne Bryan.  A total of 13 people finished level 3 in the last year, but only 7 were able to come to San Diego.  I asked Arenda if this was the most people to finish level 3 in one year.  She didn’t know off the top of her head, but there’s no doubt that Master Knitters are an elite group.  (While working on this blog post I ran across a page on TKGA’s website with pictures of each pinning ceremony since 2007.  In 2007, 24 people received pins.  In 2008 and 2010, 17 graduates received them.) In the 30 years of TKGA’s existence, only 300 people have completed Level 3.  TKGA has the complete list of graduates on their website.  Congratulations to all the new graduates!

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Level 3 requires knitters to design two projects: a hat and a sweater.  One must be Aran (that’s one color, with lots of cables, bobbles, and texture) and the other must be Fair Isle (that’s color work).  The knitter can decide if he or she wants to make an Aran hat and Fair Isle sweater or vice versa.  During breakfast, we had a fashion show of the new graduates’ final pieces.  Some graduates modeled their own pieces.  Master Hand Knitter Committee members modeled the rest.  Each piece was beautiful!  I didn’t get everyone’s names to match with the pieces and I didn’t get good pictures of all the pieces.  These are the best pictures and information that I got during the event!

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I particularly loved the double-helix look of the cables on this sweater and the seed stitch in the center of the cables. Seed stitch with cables is my new obsession.

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Graduate (and new Committee Member) Carla Pera modeling her own hat.
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Committee Member Joyce Jones modeling Carla Pera’s Sweater. I loved the vine detail at the neckline and the way the way the narrow cables emphasize the waist.
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This graduate is modeling her own hat and sweater. She was the only one in the Fashion show to choose a Fair Isle Sweater and Aran Hat.

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At the end of the Breakfast, we had a drawing for door prizes.  Emma won a bag full of yarn.  It was like Mary Poppins magical bag but full of yarn instead of mirrors or hat stands.

I'm not exaggerating -- the bag held a wall of yarn!
I’m not exaggerating — the bag held a wall of yarn!

The Yarn Tasting

The most important thing I have to say about the Yarn Tasting is THANK YOU to Arenda Holladay, Suzanne Bryan, Binka Schwan, and Charles Gandy.  One hundred tickets were available for the Yarn Tasting and the event sold out.  Each attendee left the event with 40 mini center pull balls of yarn.  Arenda, Suzanne, Binka, and Charles hand wound those mini balls.  That’s 4,000 mini balls.  Arenda makes it sound easy; she’s even got a video on YouTube demonstrating how to wind them.  I don’t care how easy they are to wind; it’s got to take a long time to wind 4,000 mini balls.  Thank you all!

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Here’s links to the sponsors’ websites: A Hundred Ravens, Anzula, Baah, Berroco, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Brooklyn Tweed, Classic Elite, Elemental Affects, Green Mountain Spinnery, Holst Garn, Imperial Yarn, LB Collection, Lion Brand, Madelinetosh, Miss Babs, Mrs. Crosby Loves to Play, North Light Fibers, Oink Pigments, Peace Fleece, RedFish Dyeworks, Skacel, Shibui, Stonehenge Fiber Mill, Swans Island, Tenacious Fibers (blog and Etsy), and Universal Yarns.

The Yarn Tasting was spectacular.  There’s just no other word for it.  I’ve never been to an event like this one and had only the vaguest idea what it would be like.  We got to the ballroom 15 minutes before the doors opened, so of course there was a line.

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When the doors opened, we all filed into the room.  Committee members handed each attendee a goodie bag:

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We used the goodie bags to collect our mini yarn balls during the event.  When we got the bag, it only had 8 yarn balls in it.

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The bag itself is part of our gift — it is moth-proof 4 mil plastic!  In addition to the 8 yarn balls, each bag held coupons from several sponsors, a 16″ bamboo Chiao Goo needle in either US size 2 or US size 2.5, and 3 magazines.

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As you may have guessed from the “Fiber Fiesta” on the event sign, the Yarn Tasting had a Mexican theme, which was carried throughout the night.  Seven or eight varieties of yarn were scattered around the table.  There was one mini ball / person of each variety.

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The yarns from the table.
The yarns from the table.
Somebody had to do it.  Photo by Heather Weber.
Somebody had to do it. Photo by Heather Weber.
Heather and I at the Yarn Tasting.  Photo by Emma Anderson.
Heather and I at the Yarn Tasting. Photo by Emma Anderson.

The placemats listed every yarn we got to sample.  Each person got one mini ball of each variety of yarn listed here!

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We got 8 mini balls in our bag and 7 or 8 on the table.  The remaining samples were set up as a buffet.

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Hey — I just realized this is as close as we get to a picture of Emma, Jo, Heather, and I together; we’re reflected in the mirror behind the buffet! Emma in the blue shirt, me to her right snapping the picture, Jo to my right, and Heather to her right.

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We walked through the buffet, collecting one of each variety displayed.

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The buffet sections were labeled by courses, just like they would be if we were getting food.  A swatch of each yarn in that category decorated the tables.  I believe Arenda knit all the swatches.

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The Appetizer Yarns from the Buffet.
The Appetizer Yarns from the Buffet.

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A mix of Comida and Dessert Yarns from the buffet.
A mix of Comida and Dessert Yarns from the buffet.

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Dessert Yarns from the buffet.
Dessert Yarns from the buffet.

After we got our yarn from the buffet, Charles Gandy MCed a fashion show, featuring objects knit from sponsor yarns.

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I did not get pattern names, model names, or knitter names for any of these projects — I was lucky just to get pictures!  I only have pictures of a small fraction of the beautiful knitwear in this fashion show.

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The baby sweater and the model’s cardigan are both part of the fashion show.

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I submitted two items for the fashion show, but failed to take pictures of the models!  The first was the Sand Tracks Scarf, knit with Swans Island yarn.  The second was a Quinn Cabled Bag.  In 2013 I knit 9 of these bags, each in a different color of Peace Fleece.  I finished 8 of them and gave them as Christmas gifts.  The 9th was mine.  The knitting has been finished for more than 18 months, but it’s been sitting in my UFO pile, waiting for me to sew in the lining.  Since I said I would submit it for the fashion show, I had to get that lining sewn in.  I finally finished it during lunch on the day of the Fashion Show!

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After the Fashion Show, anyone who submitted objects went to the ballroom next door to pick up their knitting.  Everything looked beautiful, folded up in a row on tables!

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As if everything we’d gotten already wasn’t enough, we each got a bag with 5 or 6 skeins of yarn as we left the Yarn Tasting, all donated by sponsors.  Each person’s bag was a little different.  Arenda suggested we head out to the lobby for a “Halloween candy swap” if we wanted to find enough skeins for large projects!

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Like I said — a spectacular event!

Bonus: A Visit to Green Mountain Spinnery

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Back in May, I went to Burlington, Vermont to attend my cousin’s college graduation.  I drove from Burlington down to Northampton, MA to go to WEBS and meet up with some Ravelry friends, then on to Hartford, Connecticut to spend a couple of days visiting my sister.  During my trip, I visited a total of 12 yarn shops!  I keep threatening to write blog posts about the trip, but haven’t done it yet.  One of the places I visited was Green Mountain Spinnery.  Since they were one of the Yarn Tasting Sponsors, I thought I’d slip that visit into this post.

Green Mountain Spinnery is a co-op.  Most of the people who work there are part owners of the company, and it is run on democratic principles.  When I planned to visit the shop, I didn’t realize that it was a tiny retail space in the mill!  As soon as I parked, I knew this wasn’t an ordinary yarn shop.  This sorting table is right beside the parking area.  Yes, that’s a pile of discarded wool, full of tags or debris.

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There’s another big pile of discarded wool out back.

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Over there by the pallets. It kinda looks like hay from this distance, but that’s all wool.

The entrance to the retail space:

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Inside the retail space:

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IMG_8546It was late in the day when I got there, and the mill was not operating.  I did get a quick peek inside.

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A Year of Projects 2015, Week 26.5

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For the past week, I’ve been crafting like it’s my job.  I also had an unusually high number of fun activities.  I had lunch in Diagon Alley with Ravelry friends who were in Orlando on vacation from Massachusetts.

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Of all the items listed for sale here, I most want the never-tangle wool.

I went to my first ever professional soccer game.  It was my cousin’s wife’s birthday and that’s what she wanted to do.

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My husband and I bought tickets to view last Sunday’s SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from the NASA causeway.  We didn’t want to get up at the crack of dawn and drive over, so we drove over Saturday night and stayed in a hotel.

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If you look closely, you can see Launch Pad 40 and maybe the rocket on the pad. There’s 4 objects that look like buildings. Pad 40 is between the two right hand buildings. There’s 4 lightning towers surrounding the pad; the rocket is in the middle.  It’s a slightly thicker line than the 4 surrounding towers.

Here’s the video I took of the launch.  The vehicle failed 139 seconds after launch.  I stopped recording two seconds before that because I was using my phone to record video and could barely see anything at that point.  It looked like a beautiful, perfect launch with nothing more to see.  And then the Liquid Oxygen tank exploded.

 

I still managed to get quite a bit of crafting done!  Let’s review the ridiculously ambitious list of goals I wrote:

Goals for June 21 to 30, 2015

  • Finish Raindrops on Roses Shawl (Headmistress Challenge)
  • Finish Grisou Scarf (homework, but which class?)
  • Finish Solid / 1×1 Scarf (OWL)
  • Three more color and weave scarves to meet OWL 50% (highly unlikely to finish)
  • Finish current Heart Illusion Dishcloth, plus 4 more (COMC?)
  • Tier Scarf (Charms or Potions)
  • Crochet Dishcloths (Transfiguration)
  • MHK1 swatches (Divination and / or Charms)
  • Small stuffed bird (DADA)
  • Cast on Sweet Summer Shawl (Quidditch Round 3; due July 8)
  • Liquid Silver Swatch (OOTP; due July 19)
  • Cast on Begonia Swirl Shawl (Headmistress Challenge; due July 28)

Fully Accomplished Goals

I finished the Raindrops on Roses Shawl.  I absolutely love it.  I test knit this for Assorted Musings (Ravelry, blog); the pattern will be released on July 15.  I plan to publish a detailed blog post for FO Friday on July 3.

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I finished the Grisou Scarf.  I test knit this for Sasoolero (Ravelry, blog) and I’m not sure when she plans to release the pattern.  I will publish a blog post on this project for FO Friday on July 3.

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Partially Accomplished Goals

I started the Solid / 1×1 Scarf.  I’ve woven somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of it.  I have the hardest time taking pictures of weaving in progress.  Since the finished work gets wound onto the cloth beam, it’s difficult to see progress!

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I finished the Heart Illusion Dishcloth that I had in progress, plus two more.

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I started the tier scarf and knit about 1/3 of it.

Knitting while waiting for the rocket launch.
Knitting while waiting for the rocket launch.

I crocheted one dishcloth.  In my goal, I didn’t say how many I wanted to knit.  I need 18 for the Dishcloth Advent Calendar, but didn’t expect to get them all done this month.  I was hoping for 9.  I learned how to single crochet increase, single crochet decrease, and crochet through the back loop.

I knit the first 3 swatches for MHK1.  I still need to weave in the ends and block them.  I also wrote answers to several more questions.

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Unaccomplished Goals

As expected, I did not weave the 3 additional scarves for my OWL.  I did not make the stuffed bird.  I decided to submit the Grisou scarf for DADA instead, and didn’t need the bird for anything else.  I have not cast on the Sweet Summer Shawl.  I will be doing that today.  I have not swatched for Liquid Silver.  I will be doing that today.  I have not cast on Begonia Swirl Shawl.  I think I’m going to wait a couple of weeks and cast on before I go to TKGA in San Diego.  It will make excellent travel knitting.

Other Projects

I made a felted cat bed for Tiger.  I managed to knit 1,047 yards worth of garter stitch in less than 3 days, felt it, and stitch it together!  It wasn’t on my goal list because I hadn’t decided to do it until after I wrote that list.  Tiger’s been sleeping on an alpaca blanket my father bought me when he was in Peru and I didn’t want it ruined.  I needed a quick replacement.

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Goals for July 1 to 5, 2015

  • Knit at least 1/2 of the Sweet Summer Shawl
  • Cast on Miranda Shawl
  • Swatch and Cast on Bubbles Baby Blanket
  • Swatch and Cast on Liquid Silver Shawl
  • Finish spinning and plying the Cormo I’ve been working on since February
  • Start spinning the 3 Feet of Sheep (8 ounces BFL) on July 4 for Tour de Fleece

I’m tempted to write more, but I think this is more than enough.  My husband is off on Friday and Monday for the July 4 holiday.  I will have less crafting time than usual because I’ll be hanging out with him, and we’re going to the beach for at least one day!

Updated List of Goals for 2015

Knitting

  • Knit myself a sweater
  • Improve my finishing techniques
  • Finish MHK Level 1
    • First 3 swatches finished by June 24, 2015
  • Dishcloth Advent Calendar
    • Tribbles, finished January 18, 2015
    • Leaves, finished March 30, 2015 but never blogged
    • Heart Illusion Dishcloths (in progress)
  • Charity Knits
  • Do some test knits
    • Sand Tracks Scarf, finished June 16, 2015
    • Grisou Scarf, finished June 24, 2015
    • Raindrops on Roses Shawlette, finished June 27, 2015
  • Finish or frog all UFOs
    • Traveling Scarf
    • Bigger on the Inside Hat
    • Evenstar
    • Quinn Bag
    • Baby Blue Monster
  • Socks
  • Other Projects
  • Design at least one project from scratch

Crochet

  • Learn to read crochet patterns
  • Learn all the basic crochet stitches.
  • Make at least one non-granny square crochet project
  • Dishcloth Advent Calendar
    • Diagonal Crochet Dishcloths (in progress)

Spinning

  • Breed Specific Spinning
  • Learn to spin on a drop spindle

Weaving

  • Continue playing with color and weave drafts
  • Learn pick up stick drafts
  • Learn Inkle Weaving
  • Learn Kumihimo braiding
  • Explore Twill weaves on the floor loom
  • Make items for the Guild Sale
  • Other

Dyeing

  • Finish dyeing the MAPLE LEAF Shawls
  • pH / water source experiment
  • Return to dye triangles project

A Year of Projects: Introduction and Week 24

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I just stumbled across the Year of Projects group on Ravelry.  This is a blog-along group.  Participants make a list of crafting goals for the year and post weekly updates on their progress.  The Year of Projects runs from July 1 through June 30, so we are almost at the end of the year.  Some participants run on an annual schedule, however.  I decided that I will participate on an annual schedule.  I already made a list for 2015, but I haven’t been reviewing it or updating it.  Now you’ll get an update post every Sunday.  Since I already post a WIP Wednesday post, I think the Sunday post will probably just be a list with completed items crossed off, but that may change!

Previous Posts

Since it’s been awhile since I’ve written about my goals — and I haven’t really reviewed them myself since I wrote them — I thought I’d link to the posts I wrote back in January.

2015 Goals and Plans

UFO Inventory

Breed Specific Fiber Inventory & Breed Specific Fiber Inventory, Updated

Apparently, I never wrote a post about my Stashdown plans.  I thought I had!

Current Status

Stashdown

I set the goal of knitting from stash.  I would not buy new yarn, except for weaving yarn.  Uh, yeah.  turns pink  That hasn’t happened.  There’s been much acquisition of stash, and not all of it is for weaving.

UFOs

Here’s the list again.  If I’ve finished or frogged the project, it’s linked to the relevant blog post.  If it’s not linked, I haven’t finished it.

After I made this list, I found another project.  I need to stuff and assemble a Baby Blue Monster.

2015 Goals and Plans

Knitting

  • Knit myself a sweater
  • Improve my finishing techniques

I haven’t done a sweater yet, but I never intended to make one until the fall, so that’s okay.  In July, I’m attending The Knitting Guild Association meeting in San Diego, and I’m taking a two-day Finishing class with Arenda Holladay!

Crocheting

  • Learn to read crochet patterns
  • Learn all the basic crochet stitches.
  • Make at least one non-granny square crochet project

Yeah, I’ve done none of this.

Spinning

The Cotton Candy Corriedale was a breed-specific fiber, but I haven’t been thinking of it as part of that project and I did not write a separate blog post about it. The Cormo that I’m currently spinning is the first fiber that I’m counting as part of the breed specific spinning project.  The updated Breed Specific Inventory is no longer correct.  I never received the fiber from Little Barn.  I ended up filing a complaint with PayPal to get my money back.  I’ve also bought some fiber from other sources since.  I’m no longer sure that I want to process the Mystery Fleece.  I’ve brought it to demos and it’s nice to have an unprocessed fleece for that purpose.

Weaving

  • Continue playing with color and weave drafts
  • Learn pick up stick drafts

I finished the Ravenclaw and Slytherin Houndstooth Scarves this year, which goes to the color and weave goal.  My OWL proposal for the current term of HPKCHC was to weave 8 scarves using 8 different color and weave patterns.  I haven’t started that yet, but plan to start this week.  If I complete the 8 scarves, that will pretty much fulfill the color and weave goal.  I have not started on pick up stick drafts.

Dyeing

  • Finish dyeing the MAPLE LEAF Shawls
  • pH / water source experiment

None of this has happened.

Projects

I only had a few project goals for this year.

Other Finished Projects

This is a list of all the projects I’ve finished so far this year.  I’m omitting anything already listed above.  These projects don’t necessarily fit into any of the goals I wrote in January.  I was surprised that there’s so few!  I guess I’ve been more on target than I realized 🙂

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Updated List of Goals

I’m collating the above list into one so that I can more easily post on Sundays.  I’m also adding some goals.  I’ve taken on additional projects and I’ve acquired a floor loom!  I’m not including a stash-related goal.  I don’t plan to acquire more yarn this year, but who do I think I’m kidding?

Knitting

  • Knit myself a sweater
  • Improve my finishing techniques
  • Finish MHK Level 1
  • Dishcloth Advent Calendar
    • Tribbles
    • Leaves
  • Charity Knits
  • Do some test knits
    • Sand Tracks Scarf (in progress)
    • Raindrops on Roses Shawlette (in progress)
  • Finish or frog all UFOs
    • Traveling Scarf
    • Bigger on the Inside Hat
    • Evenstar
    • Quinn Bag
    • Baby Blue Monster
  • Socks
  • Other Projects
    • Liquid Silver (remaking from scratch, since I frogged it!)
    • Fountain Pen Shawl
  • Design at least one project from scratch

Crochet

  • Learn to read crochet patterns
  • Learn all the basic crochet stitches.
  • Make at least one non-granny square crochet project
  • Dishcloth Advent Calendar

Spinning

  • Breed Specific Spinning
  • Learn to spin on a drop spindle

Weaving

  • Continue playing with color and weave drafts
  • Learn pick up stick drafts
  • Learn Inkle Weaving
  • Learn Kumihimo braiding
  • Explore Twill weaves on the floor loom
  • Make items for the Guild Sale
    • Slytherin Houndstooth Scarf

Dyeing

  • Finish dyeing the MAPLE LEAF Shawls
  • pH / water source experiment
  • Return to dye triangles project

Goals for the Week of June 14 – 20, 2015

  • Finish the Sand Tracks Scarf.
  • Finish the Raindrops on Roses Shawlette.
  • Finish half of the questions and swatches for MHK1.
  • Finish at least one color and weave scarf on the rigid heddle loom.
  • Cast on the Liquid Silver Shawl.
  • Knit the Grisou Scarf (another test knit).

KCBW6, Day 7: Your Time, Your Place

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Today’s prompt is to write about my crafting time and space.  I realized that every time I attend a special fiber-related event, I write an entire post on this blog.  Sometimes I mention going to my regular spinning or knitting group, but I’ve never written posts about the various groups I attend or my day-to-day crafting experience!

Crafting at Home

When I craft at home, it is almost always in my living room, while watching tv.  If I’m knitting or crocheting, I sit on the couch, and there’s almost always a cat in my lap.

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If I am spinning or weaving, I can’t sit on the couch because it is too low and I can’t sit all the way back.  Instead, I grab a “kitchen” chair and sit in that while I spin or weave.  “Kitchen” is in quotes because these chairs are part of a table & chairs set that I bought for maybe $60 many years ago (at least 20), but they are no longer used in the kitchen.  The table is an extension of my desk and the chairs are totally beat up because of the cats.  The chairs float around the house, pressed into service as cat beds, cat stair steps (so poor arthritic Pepper can get to her favorite sleep spots), step stools for me, etc.

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Travel Knitting

Since I’ve traveled so much the last few years, travel knitting is a regular part of my crafting time.  If I’m on a plane, I am almost always knitting.  If I’m a passenger in a car, and we are traveling a distance, I’m knitting.

I took this picture on my recent flight to Hartford, CT.  I often put my ball of yarn in the cup holder on the tray to keep it from getting away from me.
I took this picture on my recent flight to Hartford, CT. I often put my ball of yarn in the cup holder on the tray to keep it from getting away from me.

Crafting Groups

I regularly attend 3 groups that meet monthly as well as one weekly group.  I’m thinking of adding a fourth monthly group; they used to meet on Wednesdays, conflicting with my regular weekly group, but they moved their meetings to the second Saturday of the month.  I haven’t been home on the second Saturday since they changed the meeting.  I’m planning to attend that group in June and see if I can make it a regular part of my schedule.

Wednesday Knit Nights

The weekly group meets from whenever people arrive until 8 pm at my local yarn store (LYS), Knit!, located 3 miles from my house.  I’ve lived close to Knit! for 12 years, and ever since I picked up my knitting in 2006 after a hiatus of several years, it’s been my LYS.  Marney’s had knitting nights before, usually during the fall and winter, but I’ve never attended because of my schedule.  Last fall, she started up knit nights again and I plan to go every week, though of course I don’t always make it.  Most Wednesdays, there’s at least 6 or 8 people there.  On busy evenings, there’s been as many as 20 and no room to walk in the shop.  On the occasional slow night, there’s 3 people there.  I am excited that Marney decided to continue the knit nights through the summer this year!

l to r: Susan, me, Dawn, and Lisa.  We're all regulars on Wednesday night.
l to r: Susan, me, Dawn, and Lisa. We’re all regulars on Wednesday night.

Drunken Monkey Spinners

Drunken Monkey is a coffee shop in Orlando.  The spinning group meets on the first Saturday of the month from 8 am to 11ish am.  Most months, we have at least 8 people in attendance.  The most we’ve had is about 12, counting the 5-year old son of the group’s finder and the non-fiber-crafting husband of one member.  I joined this group in June last year, a few weeks after I got my spinning wheel.  I always bring my wheel because I can’t spindle spin!  Other members bring wheels or spindles or knitting or crocheting and we spend a lovely morning chatting over fiber.  Other coffee-house guests often stop and ask what we are doing, and we explain to them a little about how spinning works.  If you are ever in Orlando on the first Saturday of the month, you are welcome to join us!

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Weavers of Orlando

The Weavers of Orlando guild meets on the 3rd Saturday of the month in Winter Park, Florida from 10 am until noonish.  Sometimes there’s also presentations in the early afternoon.  The Weavers of Orlando has about 100 members and most meetings have 40 to 50 people in attendance.  Visitors are always welcome at these meetings, if you find yourself in the Orlando area on the 3rd Saturday of the month.

We have a number of members who live in Florida for the winter and elsewhere for the summer.  This is the lowest attendance I've seen since I started attending the Guild last fall, probably because some of the snow birds have flown off to their winter homes.
We have a number of members who live in Florida for the winter and elsewhere for the summer. This is the lowest attendance I’ve seen since I started attending the Guild last fall, probably because some of the snow birds have flown off to their winter homes.

Wekiva Knitters

The area I live in is called Wekiva, after the nearby river.  One of the librarians at the local branch organizes Wekiva Knitters; the group meets at that branch on the 3rd Saturday of the month, 1 pm to 3 pm.  Since the library is a polling station, including for early voting, during elections the group is cancelled or rescheduled.  The attendance varies dramatically from one month to the next.  Sometimes there’s only one or two people there.  The largest group I’ve ever personally seen is about 10.  My own attendance at this group is erratic.  I first went in August of 2012, then didn’t make it there again until June 2013 due to travel and other obligations.  I really enjoy this group, though, and try to get there as often as I can.  It’s only a mile from my house (shorter, as the crow flies), so if I’m home there’s no excuse for missing it! image