Archive for the “Blog Week” Category

Wildcard – Embellish the story
Embellishments come in all types and forms. Some are more than purely decorative and form a practical function – pretty buttons are as much part of holding a garment together as mere decoration, and some are just there to give a piece an extra ‘something’. Blog about an embellishment, be it a zipper, amigurumi eyes or applique patch which you are either saving to use or have in the past used to decorate a project with. Write about whether you are a very minimalist kind of knitter with classic lines and timeless plain knits or whether you love all the bells and whistles or sticking sewing and otherwise attaching decoration to your pieces.

Although Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011 is technically over, I thought it would be fun to do the wildcard post anyway!

The best embellishment work I've done to date was attaching little snappish magnets to the tops and cuffs of the Fleep-Tops I made for Michael. My own Fleeps flap; he requested that his could button or snap back out of the way. It took several tries to get the snaps just right, as does most of the embellishment work I attempt. For example, it took several tries before I successfully crocheted buttons onto a sweater, not to mention the one where Pirate-Husband had to help me seam a pair of Blu babypants after I'd tried and failed multiple times to get the orange seam-yarn to show up properly.

Once I'd gotten the basic idea, though, it wasn't terribly difficult to sew on the felt and then sew on the little snaps. (Who am I kidding? It was a pain in the butt. I had to do it over and over again to get it right.) They look really, really good subtly embedded into the cuffs... and they work really, really well, because they're incredibly strong little magnets. They work *so* well, in fact, that I'm almost afraid of them pulling out the fabric even with the felt reinforcements. My next pair of Fleeps will have snaps of their own, and then I will no longer have flapping Fleeps.

I'm not really much of one for actually *doing* the embellishing or accessorizing, but I do appreciate the finished look of a project with trim or an edging, and I can really appreciate it when an embellishment is both beautiful and functional, like a crocheted button or a perfectly set snap.

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Day Seven: 3rd April. Your knitting and crochet time.
Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter?

I always carry a sock with me, and so if I have more than a few minutes to wait I can knit wherever I am. But when I'm at home, I shut myself into my cat-free loft room, settle in front of my laptop, and spread the yarn out on the table. Especially if it's a project I'm slogging through, or not particularly enjoying the work on, I'll force myself to knit so many rows or so many inches and then give myself a reward of checking Ravelry or another website. But if it's a project I love, then I can't wait to work on it. As soon as dinner is over, I dash off upstairs, tossing a quick "Going to knit! See you later!" over my shoulder to Pirate-Husband as he's booting up the XBox or his laptop.

Knitting while watching TV (or streaming Netflix on my computer) is frustrating in that I can't really pay attention to the knitting or to the TV show, but I sometimes put on music. More often, I work in quiet. My cup of tea usually goes cold while I work. While I often knit "alone," I'm not truly alone as I almost always have IRC running and am chatting away with friends. Sometimes I go to the #ravelry channel and sometimes to another network.

Soon we will finish up the basement craft room and then I will have another place to sit and knit - but now I won't necessarily be alone, as there will be plenty of room in the new space for Pirate-Husband and I to work together on our hobbies. I will have to get used to working along with his music, and he'll have to get used to my muttering "44.. 45.. not now, counting! 46, 47.."

I do miss going to the weekly Stitch 'n Bitch. Although I didn't always get very much knitting done, and sometimes I had to rip back everything I did do while I was there, it was always a fun time to socialize with other yarn addicts. It's unfortunate that I haven't found another group as good as my old one!

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Day Six: 2nd April. Something to aspire to.
Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make but can admire the result of those that have.

There's very little that scares me about knitting anymore. Even the most complicated lace pattern can be broken down to doing it one stitch at a time. Turning a short-row heel, a process which once left me nervously knitting a scarf while procrastinating on the sock, no longer fazes me. Colourwork with three colours in one row? No big deal. (Slow going, but not intimidating.) Entrelac? Doesn't interest me, but I bet I could do it. Steeking? Sure, why not?

No, for me the aspiration is design. I have so many designs in my head that I want to knit up and write up and publish. I have both well-imagined patterns and vague ideas to work from. But I knit slowly, and often get frustrated with poorly-written patterns. What really intimidates me now is the time it would take to figure out the complex patterns I want to knit, and the idea of knitting them not just from a poorly-written pattern, but from no pattern at all.

So what's on my list to design?

The green lacy sock that I began in Cookie A.'s class several years ago
Several more simple sock designs, one with a little bit of colour and one with texture
A Winterlude-inspired hat and armwarmers or gloves/mittens set
A pattern inspired by the geometric shapes of a bridge I crossed on a road trip
A shawl that uses the same motifs in both a triangular and a rectangular version

It's going to take me *years* to get these things done, and that's what's most intimidating about it!

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Day Five: 1st April. And now for something completely 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 (though some suggestions are given below) but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog. This can take one of many forms...


O sock, O most-loved knit garment
What joy there is in your embrace!
Such happiness I take in knowing
That while I run the daily race
My toes will stay dry and warm-

into the shoes you now must go,
Hide your delicate stitches from sight.
While the winter wind's still blowing
My feet need not fear frostbite,
My mood will never be low.

People laugh, and people tease,
For socks may still be bought with ease.
But store-bought socks cannot be said
To bring pleasure like the socks I made.

(Okay, so I stretched the rhyme a little from the first verse to the second, but it still sort of works. Mostly. And as for that winter wind, even though it's technically Spring, it's freaking cold outside! I am indeed wearing handknit socks today.)

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Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now?
Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

There are a lot of different aspects to look at when looking back at a knitting project and it can make for interesting blogging, as much of the time we blog about items recently completed, new and freshly completed. It is not so often that we look back at what has happened to these items after they have been around for a while.

How has one of your past knits lived up to wear. Maybe an item has become lost. Maybe you spent weeks knitting your giant-footed dad a pair of socks in bright pink and green stripes which he then ‘lost’. If you have knit items to donate to a good cause, you could reflect on the was in which you hope that item is still doing good for its owner or the cause it was made to support.

People often ask me if I wear out my handknit socks. "You must have put so much work into them," they say, a concerned look creeping into their eyes, "and then you walk on them. I wear out my socks so fast. Is it even worth it to knit socks?" The funny thing is that I have not yet worn out a pair of my socks, not even the first pair that I finished in 2006. Admittedly, I don't wear those often as they don't fit perfectly. But still. Even the socks I wear more often are still going strong. One pair has perhaps felted more than the others, but the fabric itself is still solid.

The Fleeps, on the other hand, I finished in January of 2009 and they are the knitted items I wear most often. (ETA: The Fleeps, or Fleep-Tops, are actually flip-top glove/mittens. The tips of my thumbs, forefingers, and middle fingers are exposed for things like tying shoes and signing receipts, and the other two fingers are fully closed. They are the best glove/mittens in the world, probably because I took the time to completely custom-fit them. You can see the Ravelry project page here.) They've seen three winters now (and I do wear them into early spring) and just before going to Winterlude in February I noticed that the tops of some of the half-fingers had started to wear out to the point of unraveling. Fortunately, the thin spots were easy enough to fix with duplicate stitching, but I'm thinking that it might be almost time to knit a new pair of Fleeps for myself. As a side note, wow, my hair was short in that picture! It's now well past my shoulders and back into "long hair" territory.

What would be the use of knitting something like socks or gloves, only to have them sit on a shelf looking pretty? I make my knitwear to be worn, to be used, and I know that eventually it will wear out past the point of repair.

Anyway, the Fleeps are without a doubt my favourite thing I've ever knitted. I like my hats, and scarves, and socks. But I love my Fleeps, and I can't imagine ever not having a pair. This is why knitting is great - a storebought item may be discontinued, but as long as there's yarn, I can always make more Fleeps! I already have the yarn for the next pair in my stash, in a deep dark green tweed colourway. (I also need a new winter coat, so I hope to find one that goes with deep dark green gloves.)

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Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.
How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

Once upon a time, my entire yarn stash fit into this picnic basket. The top tray held all my tools, needles, and the ball bands from yarns I'd used. Underneath, I put all the yarn I owned. These days I laugh at that. The top tray of the basket still holds tools, but the main compartment is now completely reserved for handspun yarn - and it's filling up!

I bought a bunch of large plastic totes at Costco, and sorted my yarn into them. One holds only sock yarn. Two are stuffed with raw alpaca fleece waiting to be carded and spun. A third has my collection of dyed fiber and a fourth has batts that I've carded and haven't yet gotten the chance to spin. Yet another tote is for heavier yarns and leftovers from previous projects. I don't have a picture of the totes, because it's not really that impressive.

Right now all of this resides in my loft room, but the plan is to move them downstairs when Pirate-Husband and I finish building out the craft room in the basement. That should open up a lot of space for me upstairs. Who knows, I might even start letting the cats go in there!

Almost every yarn I own has been photographed, and each one has a listing in my Ravelry stash. That helps me to keep track of what I own, and when I'm having a bad day I can pull up the stash photos and think about the different projects that I'm going to make with all that beautiful yarn. I like making lists, so I've crosslinked my yarns with the projects in my queue. Of course, I don't always work from my queue in order... but at least the organization is there.

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Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP
Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

I had been talking about learning to crochet for some time, but never seemed to get around to picking up the hook. When a friend announced that she was pregnant again, I decided that I'd learn to crochet as a birthday present to myself, and that my first project would be a blanket for her new baby. Not only that, but the blanket was planned to be a riot of colours in hexagon shapes.

First I successfully crocheted an edging onto my Winterlude Hat(tm). With that success buoying me, I crocheted little bobble-buttons onto a sweater. I spent one sunny Sunday morning reading Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. And then, with some of the yarn left over from the sweater, I tackled my very first hexagon. It now holds a place of honour on my desk as... well, as a coaster to keep my tea from dripping. But it's quite good at its job!

The practice hexagon went so smoothly that I dove right in to making thirty-nine of them for the baby blanket. So this year I've discovered that I really like to crochet! I don't know why I put off learning for so long. It's lots of fun, and incredibly faster than knitting (although it does use more yarn), and I want to crochet more things!

The next crochet project I have in mind is a set of white dishcloths. I am getting tired of buying box after box of Dobie pads, which are really good for cleaning but which also have a tendency to tear and get disgusting very quickly. My brother suggested that I try using cloth dishrags, saying that they're more economical, they last longer, they clean better, and they're awesomely washable. Well, I don't know how economical it will be to make a set of my own dishcloths, but I can believe the rest of it. I especially like the idea of having enough dishcloths that I can use a new one every day, and toss them in the bleach load (whenever that gets run). I went out and bought a ball of pure white kitchen cotton, but I'm not letting myself begin the dishcloths until I've finished all the baby projects I have going on!

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Day One: A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Let's get the bad out of the way first, shall we? Noro Kureyon Sock. I want to love it. There's so much about it that I could love. The colours, the striping, the rustic thick and thin, the way it softens in the wash. But then... I just can't stand knitting with it. It's hard. It's rough. It feels like knitting with cotton because it has very little bounce and stretch, so it actually makes my hands ache after a few rounds on the sock. But every time I see it in the store, I want more of it. And the Stripey Striped Sock really is gorgeous. Maybe it would be better if I crocheted it? Or maybe I should just never buy it again.

But then there's Cascade Heritage Sock. There is nothing about this yarn I don't like - except maybe that it's difficult to find some of the colourways in stores. The Cascade website shows Heritage in a multitude of colours, but even WEBS doesn't seem to have most of them.

I've already made two pairs of socks out of this yarn, and there are two more skeins in my stash waiting to be knit up. (One of them will even be for myself!) It's smooth and soft, but machine-washable and sturdy. I used it to design the Cakewalk Socks, which gives it even more of a place in my heart. The same yarn is available in solid colours, and also in 150g/492 yard skeins. I think it would be great for colourwork socks, too, although that may be a little on the ambitious side for my current knitting schedule. Maybe I could use it for colourwork armwarmers instead... ah, there I go, dreaming about the future again.

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Are you ready? Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is coming! Run by the inimitable Eskimimi, Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is a "week of blogging for knitters and crocheters, where individual bloggers could all simultaneously post about the same topics over the course of seven days, so that for one week readers might be able to read from blog to blog and enjoy a community of bloggers all talking about elements of their craft in their own unique way.”

I'm really excited for this. Not only is it great to have a week's worth of blog prompts, but it's so much fun to read everyone else's take on the same subjects at the same time. I can't wait to see what the topics are! Last year, they were released a little in advance to give us time to consider and maybe even write some posts ahead of time.

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There’s one love that we all share: yarn. Blog about a particular yarn you have used in the past or own in your stash, or perhaps one that you covet from afar. If it is a yarn you have used you could show the project that you used it for, perhaps writing a mini ‘review’. Perhaps, instead, you pine for the feel of the almost mythical qiviut? You could explore and research the raw material and manufacturing process if you were feeling investigative.

I'm a sucker for sock yarn.

There, I said it. You heard me. I can't resist the stuff. It's the first and last thing I look at in a yarn store, and of all the yarns there, sock yarn is the most likely to come home with me. Why? Why NOT! It's not too expensive, and unlike yarn for a larger project like a sweater or a blanket or a bag, I don't need to have a pattern in mind when I buy it. I just need to get 100g and I know that I'll have enough to make a pair of socks. (Unless they're for Pirate-Husband; then I need 150g. He has wide feet.) Sock yarn is the best souvenir from visiting yarn stores in faraway places, too.

My latest favourite sock yarn has been Cascade Heritage. This is one of their "Paints" colourways, but it is available in solids as well. The feel of this yarn was a pleasant surprise. It's soft and smooth, I had no trouble with it being splitty, and it knit up into a wonderfully squooshy sock with only minimal pooling. The only socks I've knit from this yarn as yet were given away as a gift, so I'm not sure how well it washes and wears yet. Reviews that I've read say "very well" and that it can even go through the dryer without anything terrible happening to it - no felting, no pilling, no nothing but getting softer.

I have another skein for myself, in this reds and blues colourway, but I'm not yet sure what pattern I'm going to use when I knit it up. Something simple? Something a little more complex? Not only that, but I've got my eye on yet another skein in medium blues to knit a pair of socks for Mom, who surprised me with a request for handknit socks. Those will probably be top down and 3x1 ribbing, for the best fit possible. Maybe I'll knit the pair for myself that way, as well.

I have enough sock yarn in my stash for 20 pairs.. and at approximately three months for me to knit a pair (I'm slow!), that's about five years' worth of sock knitting. Is that going to stop me from buying or spinning more? No way! Like I said... I'm a sucker for sock yarn.

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