I do not set crafting resolutions. To me, the word “resolution” implies doing something drastically different than you had been doing before. I’ve been a fiber crafter for a long time and that is not going to change. Instead, I set goals and make plans. Goals differ from resolutions in that goals are smaller, concrete, and incremental. I already have a base of fiber crafting skills and I want to build on those skills. There’s many things I have never done, especially with crochet, spinning, weaving, and dyeing as these are the skills that I have only acquired in the last two years. Although I’ve been knitting for 20+ years, I spent many of those years knitting the kinds of projects where gauge is nearly irrelevant and so the list of things I have never done with knitting is longer than you might expect. I’m starting out the year by picking one or two skills to work on for each of the fiber crafts.
I have never knit an adult-sized garment that required significant shaping, like a sweater. I have only knit accessories, and most of the items that might require specific sizing (like a hat or mittens), I have knit for charity not for a specific person. When I knit these types of items for charity, I don’t worry about sizing. I figure they will find a person that the item will fit. My knitting goals for this year are:
- Knit myself a sweater
- Improve my finishing techniques
I expect that I will not tackle the sweater until late in the year as I am continuing to lose some weight (I was diagnosed with diabetes last August and have been making changes in diet and exercise as a result; this is not a New Year’s resolution to lose weight). I want the sweater to be something that I will be proud to wear. Since excellent finishing techniques can be the difference between something that looks like a craft project and something that looks like a high end product, I want to improve my finishing skills on every project so that when it comes time to do the sweater, I will have the skill to finish it in a professional manner.
I learned to crochet in 2013, but have done little with it other than a few granny squares. I tend to forget about crochet when I am deciding on projects. I guess I don’t really think of myself as a crocheter, even though I have some ability to crochet. I need to explore the possibilities of crochet. Therefore, my crochet goals for this year are:
- Learn to read crochet patterns
- Learn all the basic crochet stitches.
- Make at least one non-granny square crochet project
Crochet patterns are currently a mystery to me. Like knitting patterns, they use a specific shorthand and the crochet shorthand does not mean anything to me. I know how to slip stitch crochet and single crochet. I’ve done other stitches, but have to look them up each time. I would like to learn all the basic stitches (half-double, double, and triple crochets) so that I actually remember what each one is and don’t have to look them up when I want to use them! I plan to accomplish both of these first two goals by working my way through The Big Book of Granny Squares: 365 Crochet Motifs (book review forthcoming later this week). I am not planning to make a granny square a day. I’m just going to work a few squares a week and post a weekly update of progress on this blog. The tag for this project will be crochet365.
So far, my sole goal with spinning has been to make yarn. I have not tried to control the finished product in order to get yarn with certain characteristics. If I got yarn, any yarn at all, I’ve been happy. I want to understand how my choices affect the yarn I get. To that end, I will be undertaking two spinning projects this year:
- Breed Specific Spinning
- Process the $5 Mystery fleece
I decided I wanted to do a breed specific spinning project immediately after buying my wheel. At each of the fiber events I attended last year, I bought breed specific fibers. I have quite a collection right now, but I haven’t taken the time to put them all into Ravelry, and I don’t know exactly what I have. The idea is to try different approaches to spinning each fiber so I can observe how each approach affects the finished yarn. My friend Stacy is going to do the breed specific spinning along with me, so we can compare notes and results. The tag for this project will be BreedSpin2015.
I think it is apparent that I love weaving. I’ve been having so much fun with it! There’s so much that I want to do with weaving that it is hard to narrow it down to a couple goals.
- Continue playing with color and weave drafts
- Learn pick up stick drafts
I got a couple pick up sticks for Christmas. I also got a boat shuttle that I plan to use when making projects that require frequent color changes (including a Dr. Who scarf, as a present for a cousin). I am thinking that I will probably get a small floor loom his year. If I do, I will add goals related to learning 4 and 8 harness weaves.
I did less dyeing in 2014 than I wanted, mostly because I dye in my kitchen and either my kitchen wasn’t clean enough to have space for dyeing or I didn’t have enough time to set up, dye, and clean up before I needed my kitchen for cooking. However, I love dyeing and have a number of experiments I would like to do.
- Finish dyeing the MAPLE LEAF Shawls
- pH / water source experiment
I ended up gifting the MAPLE LEAF shawls undyed so that the recipients could choose their own colors. As I get responses on the colors, I will be dyeing those. So far, I’ve only dyed one of them. When I dye, I measure the pH with a meter. As far as I can tell, most dyers do not do this, and it probably isn’t necessary. However, we already had a pH meter because we use it for our hydroponics system, so I have used it to adjust the pH of the dyeing water bath to a consistent level each time I dye. I want to do an experiment using three sources of water (tap, rain, bottled distilled) and adjusting the pH to specific levels so that I can see the affects on the shade achieved. This has been on my list of experiments for at least a year, and I haven’t gotten around to it. I’m going to get it done this year!
Last year, I announced a goal to reduce the total yardage in my stash by at least 10%. I failed miserably at this goal, ending the year with more yarn than I had at the beginning of the year (exact number not yet available and there will be a blog post about this when I figure out the specifics).
I know I want to change my stash this year, but the changes I am looking for are more about content than quantity. I would like more yarns that are suited for weaving, for example. If I do get a floor loom, this will be even more necessary. I can get away with using knitting yarns in a rigid heddle loom, but floor looms achieve greater tension than a rigid heddle can and few knitting yarns are likely to hold up under that tension. Weaving yarns tend to come in huge yardage and acquiring even a small select of weaving yarn would blow any yardage-based stash down goals right out of the water. As a result, I’m not sure exactly how to phrase stash down goals for 2015. I will be working on figuring this out! I do want to try to use primarily yarn that I already own rather than purchasing more yarn to sit on the shelf!
My plans for 2015 fall into two main categories: projects and travel. Projects could technically go in the goals section if I wished, and as you’ve seen some of my goals are in fact projects. However, I was trying to focus my goals on the acquisition of skill, rather than on the completion of a specific pattern.
Last year, I phrased all my goals for the year in projects rather than skills — make 12 shawls, 12 pairs of socks, and 12 monsters. I came close to that number of shawls, but only knit 2 pairs of socks and 2 monsters. Although I wanted to learn to spin and weave sometime in the future, I did not envision doing so in 2014. I took advantage of opportunities that happened to arise during the year, and I’m glad I did! But learning those new skills took up my crafting time and are the primary reasons that I did not meet the goals I set in 2014. This is why I phrased my goals primarily in terms of skill acquisition — I can learn the desired skills on any number of projects, and there’s always new projects that catch my eye. This year, even my project plans are mostly not about specific patterns. Rather, I’m looking to craft projects in specific categories.
- Dishcloth Advent Calendars: This is something I started working on in early 2014, before I started blogging regularly. I hurt my wrist doing home improvements in January 2014, and working with inelastic cotton yarns hurt too much so I did not get very far with it. The basic idea is to make 25 dishcloths as a present for someone. I will give the present on Thanksgiving day and the first dishcloth is opened on that day, with an explanation. The remaining 24 dishcloths are opened daily from December 1 to 24. The dishcloths may be wrapped around small gifts, like chocolates or toys. I plan to make some of the granny squares mentioned in the crochet goals above from cotton so they can be used as part of this project.
- Charity Knitting I have a lot of yarn that I acquired with the intention of knitting for charity — monsters for children in the hospital and scarves, hats, mittens for the homeless. I’ve done a bit here and there, but I want to make this more of a priority in my crafting.
- Weavers Guild Sale The local weaver’s guild has a holiday sale every December where members can sell their own handmade items. Since I didn’t start weaving until late in the year, I only found out about the sale a couple weeks before the 2014 date and with the other holiday obligations I had, I did not have time to make anything for this year. In 2015, I will accumulate projects throughout the year so they are ready to go for the sale. Right now my plan is to make scarves in various color and weave patterns, using yarn that is already in my stash. If I do acquire a floor loom, this plan will change!
- Socks I love my handmade socks more than I can adequately express. They are so warm and squooshy and just make me happy. I only have three pairs (two hand knit by me, the other a gift from a knitterly friend). I must have more!
- Layette I previously wrote about wanting to reverse engineer my husband’s layette and knit a duplicate for the great grandson (due in January!) of the aunt who knit the original layette. I have acquired yarn and done some work re: figuring out pattern, but I need to focus on it and get it done!
I have plans for various travels in 2015. Some of these travels are specifically related to yarn and some are not, but I always try to incorporate a little bit of yarny goodness into trips that aren’t yarn centric. I’m also including in this list the local-to-me fiber events that I will be attending. I may not have to go far, but I’m still leaving my house to attend them, so they’re travel in the broadest sense, and I wanted only one list of upcoming events. Anything with a question mark is still to-be-determined, but I would like to go!
- January 10 Distaff Day, Orlando, Florida
- March 5-10 Dominican Republic for my cousin’s wedding?
- April 17 & 18 The Fiber Event, Greencastle, Indiana
- April 24-26 The Florida Sheep, Wool, & Herding Dog Festival, Ocala, Florida
- May Chicago, Illinois for Chris’s business trip
- May Brattleboro, Vermont for my cousin’s college graduation?
- September 19-20 Either the Florida Fiber In, Orlando, Florida or the Constant Reader Annual Convention, Portland, Maine
- September Florida Tropical Weavers Guild Annual Retreat?
- October 29 – November 1 Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, Asheville, North Carolina?