Pausing to Note Progress

Too often, I focus my attention on the finished product – not on what I learned while in the process of creating something. That applies to a lot of areas of life, but in the interest of staying on topic, I’ll take a moment to pause and take note of what I’ve learned so far while working on my current project.

Shawl Progress

Using the right tool for the job.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve already seen that I’m in the process of making the Monica shawl. It’s a gorgeous (free) pattern that’s knit with lace-weight yarn. I went through three different needle sizes when I was starting out, and got way too far into the project before I finally conceded that it wasn’t working.

None of the needles I tried at first (Boye Needlemaster and Knit Picks Caspian) were bad in and of themselves – they just weren’t right for this pattern. Luckily, my new set of interchangeable Addi Click needles (LOVE!!!) arrived while I was in the midst of frogging this for the umpteenth time. I chose a larger needle size, and never looked back. Note that the needles pictured are from my first attempts and are not the ones that I ended up using.

Shawl in Progress

New knitting skills.

I also picked up a few new technical knitting skills with this pattern – a win in my book, even if it was hard-earned because of all the failed attempts.

  • Comfortably (somewhat) reading lace charts
  • Knitted-on borders
  • Estonian knitting nupps – I used the crochet hook method in the video below, and it was so much easier!

Happy knitting!

 

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123 Little Stars

My current project is easily the biggest long-term project I’ve ever done. I feel as though I write that about every project, but that probably just means that I continue to build my skills and my patience. It’s a tablecloth that’s made up of many, many star motifs. One hundred and twenty three of them, in fact – or there will be, once it’s done. I finally worked up the courage to count.

Midnight Star Motif

I’m getting close(ish) to being done, and it’s made me think about how the project has mirrored other aspects of life lately. Lots of frantic activity, but the progress seems so slow. Everyone else seems to be getting through projects and moving on to others, but the comparison is useless – we’re all working toward very different goals.

But overall – I’m pretty happy with my project. 🙂 What are you working on?

P.S. I found this knitting blog challenge at Pixels and Purls and thought it sounded like fun. At the very least, I’ll refer to it from time to time if I need a topic. I’m going out of order, but I’ll still consider this post to be part of it, in response to “What is currently on your needles (hook, in my case)?”

A Study in Contrasts

My most recent projects are on opposite ends of my fiber-crafting ability spectrum. He’s a little bit bulky-weight and knit, she’s a little bit cotton thread and crocheted.

Crochet and Knitting Projects

I ran out of thread while in the middle of one project, and had to wait until my order for more arrived. (Booooo. Hisssss.) In the midst of the waiting, I started the other. This is rare for me – I prefer to work on my projects one at a time. I usually work until completion, even when the project gets mind-numbingly boring and I reach what I like to refer to as my “point of despair.” As in, “Will this project EVER be done? I cannot make one. More. Stitch.” But then I do, and eventually it gets finished.

Crocheting and Knitting Projects

The thread crochet project is the Wild Rose table runner by Elizabeth Hiddleson, which I waxed poetic about in a previous post. I’m making it with Curio thread in Comfrey. I bought the thread without a project in mind – you’ll definitely need two balls of it for this table runner.

Crocheting Project

My “killing time” project is a GAP-tastic cowl made with Brava yarn in bulky. (Noticing a theme? Both this and the thread are from my amazing box of yarn.)

Knitting Project

It seems that many knitters/crocheters work on several projects at the same time, so I’m curious – am I alone in only working on one project at a time (most of the time)? Which do you prefer – working on several projects or just one, and why?

Wintery Weekend Projects

I spent most of this weekend trying to stay warm. If I needed any proof that winter is here, I definitely got it when I left work on Friday. This is the view out the windshield as I waited for my car to warm up enough to scrape. And yet another reason why it’s good to have a portable hobby such as knitting or crochet. 🙂 Do you usually carry a WIP in your purse/bag?

ice and yarn

As you can see, I’m working on a project with my Rowan Angora Haze. It’s so fluffy! I decided to make the Judy Beret, my first knit hat. Wish me luck! I’ve already frogged it at least three times. It seems slouchy, but my gauge is pretty accurate so it must just be the design. Does anybody know how easy it would be to shrink it a little if it comes out too loose for my liking?

I just wish my skin wasn’t sensitive to this fiber. It’s not unbearable, but I don’t know that I will be able to keep the project for myself, and I don’t see myself working with angora any time soon. But.. I won the yarn, and it was just too pretty to resist. What can I say, I suffer for my art. 🙂

knitxmidwest Part 1

Last weekend I finally got to attend the event I had been looking forward to foreverknitxmidwest, the first (of hopefully many) knitting retreat hosted by Jen of makexdo and the ladies of Hill Vintage & Knits. The setting was picture-perfect:

knitxmidwest Walnut Woods

I made my way to this picturesque lodge, ready for a weekend of fun and yarn.

knitxmidwest Walnut Woods lodge

The lodge was filled with lovers of all things yarn, and I can’t tell you how great it was to be among them. Some came in groups, some came with a friend, and some came ready to make new friends. Lots of laughter and sharing of tips, patterns, and stories.

knitxmidwest Walnut Woods lodge

Most of the time was unstructured, and I appreciated having most of the weekend set aside to work on projects. There were a few scheduled activities, including a presentation from Robyn of she makes hats. She shared her journey to making 10,000 hats (most given away to charity) in her lifetime. Her project is amazing, and her blog is definitely worth following.

knitxmidwest she makes hats

The food was great, too. Just check out these adorable knitting cupcakes, complete with golf tees as knitting needles. Definitely worthy of the paparazzi that swarmed them. 🙂

knitxmidwest knitting cupcakes

Here’s a closer look at the adorableness.

knitxmidwest knitting cupcake

I spent the entire weekend working on my cable-knit scarf. All. Weekend. I had long since reached what I like to call the “point of despair” in this project, and was just ready to be done and start something new. But… I love how it has turned out, so it was worth it. More to come!

P.S. How cute are those can coolers?!

knitxmidwest project

Block Party: Between-Meal Centerpiece Edition

After seeing an awesome time-lapse video project that my husband made, I demanded requested a video of my own. He put together a quick time-lapse video while I blocked the Between-Meal Centerpiece.

Many thanks to him for making this video for me.

I have to be in the mood to block a piece, but when I am, it’s so much fun. (And it’s important, as the great Doris Chan explains much better than I can.) That’s when a project really starts to show its true potential instead of looking, as the Between-Meal Centerpiece project once did, like a tangled mess.

Between-Meal Centerpiece

I didn’t really block my projects properly until I had a good way to do it – namely, some good blocking board material. I use Step2 24″ Playmats. A lot of fiber crafters use similar playmats for blocking, and I can personally confirm that they are, indeed, awesome.

Between-Meal Centerpiece

I think 24″ is a nice, generous size for blocking a doily, and I love that they can be connected to block a long piece (such as a scarf) or a larger square piece (such as a baby afghan). These, plus regular old ball-head pins, are my go-to blocking tools. (Side note: ball-head pins, in my experience, are ridiculously hard to find in big-box stores. But why?)

Between-Meal Centerpiece

Usually I just block with water and spray starch. I know that many prefer liquid starch, but that seems like a hassle to me. Convince me otherwise? I’ll try it if it’s worth it. 🙂

Between-Meal Crochet Marathon

Starting a new pattern is exciting, but there’s also a certain amount of apprehension involved. There are always challenges, and sometimes the things that are difficult take me by surprise.

My current crochet project, the Between-Meal Centerpiece, has been a test of endurance. By one fellow Raveler’s count, there’s even a round that has more than 1,300 stitches. I haven’t yet reached that round, but I dread it now that I know it’s on the horizon. 🙂

Between-Meal Centerpiece

Something that I find striking about this pattern is that it seems to have multiple personalities. Parts of it are frilly and lacy, parts of it are surprisingly modern – the chevrons could be ripped right from patterns created in the past few years, for example. These different styles are definitely emphasized by the fact that I have chosen to separate the pattern “sections” with different threads.

Between-Meal Centerpiece

The gray sections are Aunt Lydia’s Classic Crochet Thread in Silver, and the white with metallic is J&P Coats Metallic Knit-Cro-Sheen in White/Silver. The silver Aunt Lydia’s seems softer than other colors of the same brand, but it may just be that it seems soft compared to the metallic thread. I’ve never worked with the J&P before. It’s stiffer than I’m used to, and the metallic strand makes the thread twist badly as I work. That being said… it sparkles. Oooo, shiny. So there’s that.

Between-Meal Centerpiece

These photos were taken while I was on round 36… I’m a bit farther now, but not much. I think this thing is going to need some serious blocking, which can’t come soon enough for me!

Between-Meal Centerpiece