Knitting: Dealing with WIPs and social media

 

How do you keep WIPs in check?

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Maybe I just need to make more project bags to have more WIPs?

I have been knitting for a couple of years now, and it has definitely become part of who I am, a knitter, and I knit most days. I love that there are so many different techniques and ideas around creating fabrics using 2 sticks and some yarn. The creativity of all the different designers out there inspires me and makes me want to try new patterns, techniques and yarns out all the time.

This of course results in many started but no finished projects. And recently this started to stress me out a bit, especially as more and more lovely autumn patterns were coming out, and I haven’t even started the summery ones I wanted to make. How do you deal with WIPs?

My current method:

I try to limit myself to 3-5 project max. And if I go above 3 then the other two will be something small like a hat or sock. Like a quick palette cleanser.

I have ripped back a few projects to remove them from my WIP queue especially if the thought of the project doesn’t excite me anymore. This more often than not is to do with the pairing of yarn and pattern. I am getting better at this buts watching really does help.

Do you rip back WIPs? I have spoken to other knitters who have had projects in progress for over a year. It has taken me 9 months to complete a project but I did knit it at least once a month. I did not just ignore it for a month.

Currently my WIP include a brioche shawl in countess ablaze DK, my first cardigan in a combo of fingering yarns from Blacker yarns and countess ablaze, as well as a mystery knit along shawl, that no longer is a mystery. haha!

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The snail is a tape measure! The rest is my timely cardigan.
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Halfway there!

I am itching to cast on socks, 2 hats and about 5 jumpers that I have the yarn for but want to at least finish one of the bigger shawls.

Is it bad to have so many things in progress or are you laughing at me because currently my WIPs are just 3 and you have like 10 on the go? The three I have on the go are ones I do want to see finished, but there is no real urgency apart from wanting to cast on new ones.

Maybe I am overthinking this, but it is not making me feel good to not have finished anything in a while. Which is kinda wrong because in Late August/early sept I finished this jumper.

Social media

This is leading me to another point. Social media. I am starting to feel bad that I am favouriting and buying so many patterns but cannot make all of them.

At the same time social media is a great place for inspiration but maybe I just need to have a break to focus on what I have and enjoy that rather than focus on what I do not have. I already uninstalled things like Facebook from my phone but maybe I need to also uninstall instagram and limit my time on revelry.

How do you deal with the constant stream of inspiration? Currently I just feel tired. I feel like I cannot keep up. I do love sharing and seeing what my friends all over the world are creating and join in with their achievements and support them through not so great times.

But I feel like as much as people focus on detoxes of the physical we do not focus on the detox of the mind as much and my mind is overloaded with inspiration and desires to make all the things.

So with that I may distance myself for a while until I get a bit more focused and actually enjoy making again rather than be making for the next project.

Making should be about something you feel good and for me social media has taken that away currently. I kinda of feel relief already saying I will check less and post less. Let’s see how long this lasts. Ha! I will keep the apps on my tablet which I only check once a day and delete them off my phone to focus more. 🙂 This sounds like a good plan. Let’s see how I do. I will do this until Christmas and maybe longer if it is working. 🙂

 

 

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Knitting: Learning a new stitch: Brioche

Why do you knit?

As I have talked about before it is very much a therapeutic past time for me and I sometimes feel a day is not complete unless I have knitted one row. Be that 10 stitches of 200 stitches.

But I also like trying new things. Be that new yarn or notions and tools or techniques. Since the beginning of my knitting journey I have been fascinated with cables and after my most recent two cabled jumpers Ondawa and Caradon Hill jumper I feel like I am a tad cabled out.

So what is there next to try? Well the shawl along at YAK to the rescue.It was the perfect opportunity to try brioche. I have had the book “Fresh Brioche” by Nancy Marchant for half a year (it was a Christmas present) but have been too intimidated to try it.

In the shawl along you have the attention of a teacher and the support of your fellow students so I felt like giving it a go. It was a rocky ride. Not only was there a standard brioche stitch but there was an Italian cast on and off, increases and decreases, remembering not to count yarn overs and some general what seemed like madness. But after 4 rows you start to see that things aren’t getting twisted but they are working out and growing into a squishy brioche fabric.


I can highly recommend Nancy’s book. She has pictures and instructions for all stitches you will encounter in the 13 patterns for english and continental style knitting. How awesome is that!?

Other things I learned were:

  1. Youtube is your friend for italian cast on. It is so simple but hard to tell at first.
  2. Don’t use slippery needles. I opted for bamboo chiaogoo ones. When you cannot read the knitting and stitches yet the yarn overs can be really fast to slide off, and the liklihood os so much higher using metal needles.
  3. Make a swatch using thicker yarn. I used DK and light worsted for my first swatch. I am also knitting my first project in DK but I see how fingering weight will be lovely.
  4. You may need to use a bigger needle size than you think. I found that the needle size I was drawn too made a really dense fabric instead of squishy.
  5. Don’t use something like mohair or other sticky yarn when you start as you will rip back and the sticky fibres may make this difficult.
  6. Do be patient. The patterns take a few rows to appear.
  7. Practice the pattern by making a swatch – I was so thankful for this and even restarted my shawl because I made silly mistakes early on.
  8. Rip back a stitch at a time.
  9. Have fun! Bright colours together, contrasts, one colour brioche. So many exciting options.
Bottom shows my trial swatch and top my new cast on

 

 

 

Knitting: Test Knitting the Caradon Hill Jumper

Having never considered myself a fast or really accomplished knitter I always shied away from opportunities to test knit something.

We once spoke about the act of test knitting at my local knit night. Some people who knit samples get paid for doing so, but is this a viable other income? Some designers will provide the yarn as payment. It just depends who and what it is I guess. I don’t have much experience. Also often a sample or test knit needs to be secret and I like taking my projects to knit night or out and about and want to be able to share what I am doing, so in short test knitting wasn’t really something I ever considered I’d be doing.

But then Blacker Yarns came along and showed a line drawing of a cabled jumper, ideally knit in shetland yarn and you got to knit as much as you could in the given time and just had to give feedback on a regular basis and you were encouraged to share pics on instagram! I was in!

We got a discount code for the yarn for 20%. I have been meaning to try shetland yarn so I was more than happy with that and I love cables so knew this would be a nice project for me.

Swatching! In the end a swatch in the round is more accurate.
The yarn parcel arriving!

We were a small group of test knitters regularly posting in the dedicated revelry forum and sharing yarn choices and progress and also problem solving techniques when we found something we stumbled on in the pattern. Katie from Blacker yarns was also always on hand to guide us and answer questions and clarify anything.


The whole process was rather enjoyable and I actually got to the yoke by the deadline. I did not quite finish in the 3-4 weeks but took a week longer which I think for an all over cabled design was pretty impressive.

To be honest this project made me feel more confident in my knitting ability and my ability to understand challenging patterns and make up my own mind how it could be written. I am no tech editor yet though, mind. One day maybe?
Fav bits of the pattern:

My favourite part of the pattern were the sleeves! Look at those cables all the way along. So interesting.


I also liked finished the neck with elisabeth Zimmermann’s elastic bind off method. After attempting it on 3 socks I finally understood how to do it and how it looks nice. 🙂
What I learned:

My favourite new stitch discovery was the broken rib, mostly seen on the underside of the sleeve. Really nice and interesting effect.

I also learned how to fix a cable even if you only notice 6-8 rows later. It was a bit fiddly but do-able.

Another discovery I made was that I can knit in the car! Yay! I was worried I’d feel travel sick but I was fine.

Pre-blocked sweater all done and posing

 

Here my finished details pre blocking:

  • Size made: 38
  • Yoke depth – 23 cms
  • Body length – 30 cms (note I did shorten this by emitting one repeat, so I am happy)
  • Body circumference – 98 cm
  • Arm length – 48 cms
  • Cuff – 22cm
  • Neck circumference – 45cm
Post blocking sweater

Here my finished details post blocking:

  • Size made: 38
  • Yoke depth – 26 cms
  • Body length – 45 cms
  • Body circumference – 105cms
  • Arm length – 51 cms
  • Cuff – 22cm
  • Neck circumference – 46.5cm

Mods I’d make:

If I hadn’t test knitted the project I would have made a couple of changes. The back would be plain for one. I may have also played with attempting to knit the pattern top down instead which I much prefer.

I’d also try knitting the sleeves flat 2 at a time and then seam them.

Also the yoke is a tad deep for my liking but actually great for wearing a jersey jumper underneath.
In summary though I loved knitting this project and the interaction with everyone. My day job is all about usability  and making things better for user of software so this was a nice way to combine my hobby of knitting with some of the skills I have gained from my work. 🙂

 

Review: Yarn Space Cadet – Countess Ablaze

I am not sure if I will regularly post yarn reviews but I fell hard for this one and just wanted to share my infatuation.

Since I started knitting and building a bit of a yarn stash, I have spent a lot at Countess Ablaze. I love her style and yarn bases. Particular favourites are anything using blue faced Leicester. Love it.

Her most recent addition to her yarn bases is this Super Bulky, squishy, soft and above all sparkly Merino yarn named Space Cadet. I kind of knew I was sold on it when it was bulkier weight than DK and named something with Space in it! I have a weird soft spot (or you may call it weakness) for heavy weight yarns. Only recently have I found a love for finer yarns but I still crave a big squishy yarn.

Not only is this one Super bulky but it also comes in a massive 200g skein!! It is massive! See this comparison shot with a Fingering yarn skein. My yarn winder could not fit a whole skein on it. I had to cake the rest myself without tools.

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What is it like to knit? Well I abandoned all of my current projects (4 in total) to give this a go. I used 8mm and 9mm needles with a simple hat design in mind.

Below you can see the swatch and a medium to large pompom I made and I still have yarn left after completing the hat. It isn’t plied so you can get into some yarn splitting moments but I used my lykke wooden needles and it was pleasant to knit.

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Post blocking I got 10 stitches per 4 inches in stockinette knitted flat using 9 mm needles and 10.5 stitches per 4 inches using 8mm needles.

I hence wen forth and made a hat. I started a few times getting guidance from some free hat designs from purls soho such as: Snowy Day hat.

You can find the details on my Ravelry page. It is written in a really basic way as it is a basic hat with ribbing and then stockinette and a pom pom!

When you block your garment or swatch you will feel just how soft the yarn is. It kinda feels like it would dissolve, but don’t worry it is quite strong. It does however really bloom and become rather drapey for a super bulky yarn making it perfect for accessories against the skin in my opinion.

And how have I not mentioned that it sparkles! It has 10% Manufactured Fibers – Stellina in it which is the sparkle! I love it. It may not be for everyone but it made the yarn for me.

Thanks Countess, this base is genius and I can’t wait to see more colours in it. And below is my finished hat! This yarn takes quite a while to properly dry out after blocking so be patient. 🙂

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Note: This is my personal opinion, I bought the yarn last week and loved it so much I wanted to share its awesomeness. 

Running: Struggling to run

 

I am trying to do a running challenge of running 1000 miles in a year. The most I have ever done was just under 600km, this means I need to run 1000km more in a year! Very daunting.

The first quarter went well. I was on target, smashing personal records and I felt inspired and good. Then June happened. I had 2 weeks holiday, 1 at the beginning and one at the end. This disrupted my flow and routine and I just got down about it. Why is it that running is such a mentality rather than physical thing? It drives me mad. I always knew the summer months would be the hardest as I struggle in the heat when I am not moving. My heart rate is through the rough and I can’t breathe as soon as it hits 12 degrees.

I am now in July and about 2 weeks worth of running behind. This is a bit frustrating but I am trying to think that in autumn and winter I can claw back some miles and do longer runs in the morning to work or even at lunchtime. The worst thing in the meantime though is to try and not give up and also to stay motivated. Running makes me feel so much better and I feel like life is more manageable when I am running but I can’t make myself go out as much as I need to. On top of that I added the pressure of feeling good at the end of the month which is my birthday. Argh. When does it start that we just accept ourselves and focus on our achievements rather than shortcomings?

One thing I have managed though is to not worry about other people while running. I will go out now with moderately hairy legs out, sometimes I tuck my thsirt into my bra and show my flabby pale mid riff while running.

Here is to still making 1000 miles and stopping self sabotaging my running.

Knitting: as therapy 2

I previously wrote about the subject of “Knitting as therapy”. It is a subject close to my heart and I find that I more often see any sort of craft being used as therapy. Something to help focus the mind so you “forget” about your anxiousness or depression for a little while, or can process certain events.

Knitting on the ferry
Knitting on the ferry home on our holiday

 

This past week while on holiday I have noticed how I use knitting like that. A moment to escape the every day life madness, a moment to distress, to reflect. It actually bothers me when I for some reason cannot knit, hence I bring it everywhere just in case I can squeeze in a row or two.

A few weeks ago I was talking about an upsetting and distressing situation to my other half and then in a break in the conversation I picked up my knitting and started knitting. He just stared at me and asked “are you stress knitting?”.

I don’t think others sometimes realise that it is more than just making a pair of socks, a hat, or jumper. I am definitely a process knitter. I love the learning aspect and feeling like I accomplished something, but in the process I gain so much more. A moment of calm.

 

Knitting: Jumper-along – Ondawa

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My lovely little local yarn shop YAK held a jumper-along for the last 10 weeks or so. The idea is that you are in a small group with a teacher and each pick out a jumper pattern. The fact you have a teacher guiding you, means you can choose a challenging pattern and then get advice on yarn choices and swatching.

When I thought of what I wanted to learn it was all about seaming. I have never knitted anything flat before. Well actually I had knitted a sleeve flat before and tried to seam it with mixed results.

Another thing I was fascinated with was a cropped jumper and all over cable patterns. So I decided on Ondawa. This pattern is basically 4 rectangles that get seamed up into a boxy sweater.

The way the jumper along worked was great. It is over 10 weeks and you meet 5 times in this period for 2 hours on a Sunday. I will really miss the get together with the group, although most of us will still see each other at the local knit night I am sure.

I learned so much during this knit along because we each had different patterns. Things I got to experience and learn were:

  1. Seaming
  2. Modding
  3. Three needle bind off
  4. Reading charts and knitting from them
  5. Importance of swatching
  6. Steeking techniques
  7. Cables and colour work!
  8. General inspiration for other patterns in the future

I actually finished my jumper and we have another get together Sunday in a week, so I will continue with another one.

The mods I did were:

Arms:

  • Knit third size in sleeves
  • Knit 2 inches more of pattern repeat of sleeves

Body:

  • Knitted smallest size
  • Knit the front piece about an inch longer than pattern
  • Kept front and back stitches live piece for three needle bind off. ( I did wrong sides together creating a ridge which I kinda like)
  • Back piece will be mostly twisted rib but keeping the cable from the triangle in the bottom ribbing as I’ve seen in another post.
  • Back piece 2 inches longer for hi-low hem

Some pics of my finished jumper below and more on my Ravelry.

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