Archive for the “Blog Week” Category

The third annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week was so much fun! I read a ton of new-to-me blogs, got lots of ideas and inspiration, and learned about stitches and patterns that I might have otherwise missed. Plus I've jumped to nearly a hundred RSS subscribers (through Google Reader; I don't have stats for other RSS readers) and almost 250 followers on the Knitting Pirate's page on Google+! (I think some of them might not be real accounts, but whatever...) Eskimimi is truly marvelous for organizing and arranging the event, and I know I'm not the only grateful blogger out there.

While Blog Week was going on, I was making slow progress on a washcloth. It was slow going because I seem to have sprained my wrist. How, I'm not sure. But it hurts when I move it in certain ways, so I'm being careful to take lots of stretch breaks, and I'm trying not to work too fast, which causes me to have a death grip on the hook and can add to the strain.

crocheted washcloths are fun!

This is the second time I've crocheted the "Bumpy Not Lumpy" pattern, which you can find for free on Chocolate Mints in a Jar. I started off by chaining 37 as per the pattern instructions, but after only a few rows I realized that I was going to have a much bigger cloth than I wanted, so I ripped back and began again with a chain of 29. This gave me a 9.5" square cloth and a pretty nifty pooling pattern. I made sure to note this on the project page so that if I make this pattern again, I'll know how many stitches to start with.

Washcloths need little loops.

I like to hang my washcloths from the shower caddy to dry, rather than draping them over the towel bar - not to mention that I'd rather have water drip into the shower than onto the floor! I think they dry faster that way and are less likely to smell funny. I made the loop by chaining a dozen or so stitches, then single crocheting the length of the chain beginning from its base and working around, then working the last row of the pattern. Since the last row is a single crochet top edge, it worked in quite nicely and doesn't feel as if it's going to pull loose. I didn't do the edging all the way around, but I think on my next fully-edged cloth I'll work the loop before the edging. I like the way it gets incorporated in.

Washcloths are fun and quick, but I have to get my focus back to the Dancing Cranes stole now. Sure, it's only the beginning of May, but I'd like to have it checked off my list well before its October deadline. I'm into the second pattern repeat and there's no reason for me to be frantically knitting at the last minute, other than my own tendency to procrastinate - which I'm trying to overcome. Here goes! Hold me to it!

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3KCBWDAY7 - Crafting Balance
Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both? If you are monogamous in your yarn-based crafting, is it because you do not enjoy the other craft or have you simply never given yourself the push to learn it? Is it because the items that you best enjoy crafting are more suited to the needles or the hook? Do you plan on ever trying to take up and fully learn the other craft? If you are equally comfortable knitting as you are crocheting, how do you balance both crafts? Do you always have projects of each on the go, or do you go through periods of favouring one over the other? How did you come to learn and love your craft(s)?

For six years, I was a knitter only. In January of 2005 I began my love affair with knitting with this basketweave scarf that was a gift to Grandma and in less than two years I'd moved on from scarves and hats to a thorough addiction to sock yarn. Crochet confounded me; I couldn't understand what it was for or why anyone would want to do it. The crochet projects that I saw just looked silly. Who needs a half a sweater that looks like a net or a poncho that looks like an escapee from an early 1970s thrift shop dropoff? Knitting, I thought, should be good enough for anyone. Crochet just isn't necessary. Right? Wrong.

In early 2009 I began work on the Napramach bag (which is embarrassingly unfinished, still, and will look much better after blocking). The instructions called for the sides of the bag to be crocheted together, and for the first time I considered that perhaps I should learn to do this. But then I put that out of my mind and got to knitting the stranded colourwork, figuring that if I ever finished the darned thing I'd just get one of my crocheting friends to help me out with the finishing. Right? Wrong.

It makes me happy to think that if I ever do finish knitting this darned thing, I'll be able to do the finishing myself now!

For my birthday in 2011 I gave myself the present of learning a new skill, and decided it would be crochet. I spent a weekend morning in a sunbeam reading my copy of "The Happy Hooker" and decided that my first crochet project would be a baby blanket for friend Marjie, who was then expecting Baby Sam. After lots of searching around on Ravelry I decided to go big instead of going home, and chose the Hexagon Blanket instead of something simple like a bunch of single crochet with five strands at once, which would have been really quick and easy. And now to go along with my addiction to sock yarn, I find myself drawn to the kitchen cotton in artsycrafts stores, thinking "Hmm, I could use another washcloth..." Right? Right.

To read what other people are writing for today's prompt in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, search Google for 3KCBWDAY7 or click here.

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3KCBWDAY6 - Improving Your Skillset
How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how's your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you'd like to have tried them by.

It's a strange question for me, because while I can definitely get behind the idea of learning as a road, I don't think of it as a journey with a destination. I've been knitting for seven years, spinning for four years, and crocheting for one, and in general I can do the things I set out to do.

There are most certainly new techniques and skills that I'd like to learn. I want to make a sweater that fits properly, I want to design more patterns. But then I'm comfortable with what I do know, and could probably be happy cranking out armwarmers, washcloths, and plain socks like the one here for a really long time. I don't generally try new things just for the sake of trying them; they have to be attached to the desire for a specific project.

Spinning is a little different. My default yarn, the stuff that just comes out of my hands most naturally, is a fine single. I want to be able to spin deliberately, to pull off a beautiful woollen long-draw or to get the rhythm of chain-plying down. When I'm knitting, I can choose the yarn and needle size for the project I'm making. Spinning seems like something different altogether. I don't have any kind of learning plan in place, but I am going to take part in this year's Tour de Fleece and see what I learn from spinning every day for three weeks.

As for deadlines, I try not to bring them into my hobby. Every time I have, I start resenting the project. It's not a matter of bravery for me, but of being relaxed and enjoying working with yarn for its own sake.

To read what other people are writing for today's prompt in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, search Google for 3KCBWDAY6or click here.

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3KCBWDAY5 - Something A Bit Different
This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create.There are no rules of a topic to blog about but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog.

What's this, mama? Yarn! You're playing with yarn! ...what do you mean, I can't play with you? You're a yarn-hog. Look at you sitting there keeping all the lovely yarn to yourself. Come on, let me play too! Let me at it! Won't you drag it around for me to chase? Pleeeease? Not even a little bit? Hey, why are you pushing me away?

You know I love yarn. All strings, really. I can't resist it. How about I play with your shoelace instead? ...Fine. You're no fun. Never let me do anything I want. Hrmph. See if I care. I'm going to sulk right here in front of you so you can feel bad. I don't care if you say you're making the best thing ever, you're not sharing and that's not right. I heard you tell the other cat just the other day that he needed to share with me. You should take your own advice, mama. Sharing is caring.

Totally not looking at you. That's what you get for not sharing the yarn. I don't care if you say that it's bad for me, all I know is that you're not sharing. Do you think I care that loose fibres could give me a stomachache? No. Not at all. It's *yarn*, mama. Why are you being so mean to me? What did I do to deserve this?

You just wait. When you go to bed tonight I'm going to figure out how to get at this 'intar net' you keep talking about, in the warm box with all the buttons I'm not allowed to touch when you can see me. I've been watching you and I think I know how it's done - and you thought I was just sleeping next to you the whole time. I'm going to paw at all the buttons until I get to 'rowvr ree', and then I'll tell everyone just how mean you are.

...Can I have some yarn *now*? Look, it's just the littlest bit of yarn left. Hey, where are you going? Come back here with that yarn! I hate you forever! Or until dinnertime, whichever comes first!

(Happy Feline Friday!)

To read what other people are writing for today's prompt in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, search Google for 3KCBWDAY5 or click here.

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3KCBWDAY4 - A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons?
As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?

Almost everything I make for myself is meant to keep me warm. The last few projects I made (or am currently making) for myself were socks, a lace stole, armwarmers, more socks, two hats, and several washcloths.

I like the instant gratification of crocheted washcloths, and I would crochet toys... but when I knit, I knit for warmth. In this picture I'm skating on the Rideau Canal during Winterlude. It's a few degrees below freezing, but I'm not cold at all because I am covered in handknits. The hat was made of my own handspun yarn from a sampler of Jacob fibre, and lined with fleeze. There's the infamous Stripey Striped Scarf that everyone and their sister has made. I'm wearing my all-time favourite Fleep-Tops to keep my hands warm, and though you can't see them in this picture, I have toasty warm toes in handknit socks. (Later that weekend I went to a yarn store and bought more sock yarn. Of course.)

Socks are absolutely my favourite things to knit. I always have at least one pair in progress, even though I don't wear them during the summer. They aren't too warm to work on even when it's really hot outside. They're small and easily portable, and I usually have a sock-in-progress in my purse. Here is a sock at the car dealership, keeping me company while I wait for an oil change. I knit socks at the allergist's office while I wait for my shots; I knit socks at office lunch gatherings to keep my hands busy; I knit socks while watching cooking shows and while on vacation and while hanging out with my family. I'm even beginning to knit socks while sitting with the cats, and they're starting to get the idea that the dangling yarn and shiny needles are not for them to play with.

Even the Dancing Cranes stole (much farther along now; I just haven't gotten a new picture) is meant to keep me warm, even though it's delicate, light, and lacy. I'm making it to wear to a fall wedding, and I would so much rather wear a beautiful handknit lace stole than have to borrow a too-large suit jacket just to stay warm! Not only will it look better, but it will be a good conversation-opener. I'll need to find the perfect dress that will help show off the stole to its utmost. It is by far the fanciest thing I've ever knit.

To read what other people are writing for today's prompt in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, search Google for 3KCBWDAY4 or click here.

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3KCBWDAY3 - Your Knitting Or Crochet Hero
Blog about someone in the fibre crafts who truly inspires you. There are not too many guidelines for this, it's really about introducing your readers to someone who they might not know who is an inspiration to you. It might be a family member or friend, a specific designer or writer, indie dyer or another blogger.

I'd like to dedicate today's entry to the new knitters, crocheters, spinners and weavers. Learning new skills isn't always easy. While I can't say that I understand the mindset of being scared of trying a new craft or technique, I know that some people do feel that way and to them I say: Go forth! Be brave! You can do it! Intrepid Knitting!

There is a lot of inspiration to be found in the perseverance of someone who's learning to get the yarn to tension around their fingers, moving the needles or the hook in just the right motion, drafting the fibre to flow smoothly. It takes quite a bit of patience and focus, calm and deep breaths, and a willingness to try again and again, to accept temporary failure, to throw away a bit of yarn or fibre that's been tried too many times. I'm an easily distracted sort of person, so to me there's nothing more inspiring than someone with patience and focus!

The nieceling, now almost five years old, tells me that she loves being an artist. I wonder if she will want me to teach her to knit or crochet or spin in the next few years? I hope so, and I hope I have the patience and focus to teach her. I learned when I was about eight, so I have a few more years before I need to figure out the best way to teach. I am confident with teaching spinning, less so with knitting, and not at all with crochet. We shall see what she asks for!

We forget, sometimes, that what's now a fun and relaxing hobby used to be dirty, dangerous work. The girl in this 1908 picture is eleven and had been working at the spinning mill, probably long hard hours, for a year. What was it like for her when she was a beginner? Not as pleasant as when my mom taught me to knit, for certain. Unlike me and possibly the nieceling in a few years, this little girl probably had no choice in it, and yet she did it anyway. That's inspiring in a whole different way.

To read what other people are writing for today's prompt in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, search Google for 3KCBWDAY3 or click here.

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3KCBWDAY2 - Photography Challenge Day!
Today challenges you to be creative with your photography, and get yourself in with the chance to win the photography prize. Taking interesting photographs in this instance isn't about flashy cameras or a great deal of technical know-how, it's about setting up a story or scene in a photograph and capturing something imaginative. Your photograph(s) should feature something related to your craft, so that might be either a knitted or crocheted item, yarn, or one of your craft tools.

Me an' the macro lens had a good time.

To read what other people are writing for today's prompt in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, search Google for 3KCBWDAY2 or click here.

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3KCBWDAY1 - Colour Lovers
Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.

My stash, especially the handspun and fibre collection, has a lot of blues, greens, browns and neutrals in it. I can't really wear the warmer colours well, but every so often I'm drawn to a bright orange or crazy colourway. In fact, when I picked the six balls of Kureyon that I used for the Stripey Striped Scarf, I deliberately chose colourways that I thought would clash. (I know, Kureyon can clash with itself, but I really went for the parrot-on-crack and clown-puke colourways.) They turned out to go together fairly well, which was a pleasant surprise that I try to remember when looking at braids of combed top at Sheep and Wool festivals: colours that look wrong in the braid or skein often look perfect in the finished yarn or project.

Sometimes I try to pick similar colours to the original pattern. In the case of the Pomatomus socks I thought the sea-greens and blues of the original were perfect for the scaly pattern, and couldn't imagine the sock any other way. I didn't use the exact yarn called for, but found some Plymouth Yarn Sockotta in just the right colour. The yarn was awful to knit with, but I persevered and after two years of procrastination I had perfect bluesy-green scaly socks. (I wish I could say that that was the longest I've ever procrastinated on a pair of socks, but the Stripey Striped Socks were begun over three years ago and i still haven't finished them yet. Le sigh.)

Another pattern that I knit with the recommended colour was Blu - how could I have made blue jeans not blue with orange stitching? (I'm hoping to see Blu on one of the niecelets soon. They should be almost big enough to wear it soon!)

Other than that, I've done lots of socks, scarves and hats, and I rarely stick to the colour specified in the pattern. I try to pick patterns that will go well with the colour of the yarn, like using self-striping yarn for Jaywalkers or adjusting the number of stitches in a washcloth to get an argyle pattern. I don't wear warm colours well, so I try not to use them in projects that will go near my face - but reds and yellows and oranges look great on socks, so I'd use them there. My favourite colours are green and purple, and I love them together, but I don't love wearing them together. The latest washcloth, though, is a perfect dusty greens and purples blend.

Speaking of blue jeans, as anyone who's ever been yarn shopping with me knows, when I look for sock yarn I almost always try to pick colours that will go well with them. This is a skein of Periwinkle Sheep, my only purchase (besides lunch) at Rhinebeck last year. I think it will go especially nicely with dark jeans. Goodness knows when I'll get around to knitting it up, or what pattern I'll eventually choose for this yarn. The green will spiral up and around the foot and leg, so I don't think a complicated pattern would work well. Maybe I'll use coordinating solid green yarn for the heels, toes and cuffs, and try an afterthought heel for the first time, so as not to interrupt the spiraling pattern.

To read what other people are writing for today's prompt in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, search Google for 3KCBWDAY1 or simply click here.

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The topics for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012 have been released! You can see them all at Eskimimi Makes.

Some of this year's topics are going to be tough! Day Two is a challenge to be as unique and imaginative with photography as possible. Day Five is called "Something a Bit Different" and it's a day for being experimental and super-creative. The grand prize for Blog Week is going to be awarded to the Day Five post nominated and voted as most creative, so we all have lots of incentive to push the boundaries!

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The Third Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is only a month away! From April 23rd through 29th, lots and lots of knitters and crocheters from all over the world will post using set daily topics provided by the wonderful Eskimimi. I've taken part in the first two Blog Weeks, and not only was it a ton of fun, but I got to read bunches of new blogs that I might never have otherwise found!

The daily topics for this year's Blog Week will be released on April 2nd, which gives participants time to write their entries in advance and queue them for publication on the proper day. We'll use specific unique tags for each day's post (and never type them out anywhere else), which will make it easy to find other people's daily posts. If you're curious what the topics are like, you can check out my previous posts at the Blog Week category

This year, there is something new about Blog Week: prizes! Some will be awarded for things like "most creative post" or "most imaginative photography", but there are lots of prizes that will be randomly awarded simply for taking part in Blog Week. As if the fun of blogging wasn't enough incentive on its own!

As you can tell, I'm quite excited about Blog Week. I had such a great time doing the first two, and I'm so pleased that the tradition is continuing on. More details, an image of the tags we'll be using to mark our posts during blog week, and pictures of some of the magnificent prizes that readers have donated can be found here.

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