Updates and Completions

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I completed and blocked my Jimmy Beans Cowl, since this photo was taken I have also seamed it together and worn it.  I love how this worked out, I adore that it got me to think outside my box and work on learning new stitches.  The detailed instructions certainly helped me to get over my fear of trying something different with my knitting.  This new found fearlessness with my knitting has helped me along with starting my Sherlock Knit Along Square (well they are rectangles, but pretty close to square).

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I have 5 rows out of 87 completed.  Honestly this is Cascade 220 superwash merino wool in worsted weight on size 8 needles.  Each row is going very quickly.  With my Jimmy Beans Knitting kit I received these highlighter flags that allow me to highlight one row for about 2 inches, this means that for each row I need 3-4 of these for this pattern, but they really do help me keep track of where I am in the pattern.  I probably would have gotten further already however, once I had finished the 4th round reading the pattern from my ipad, I was concerned that my eyes would wander to the wrong line.  I waited until today to print off my pattern so I can highlight each line as I need them.  I hope to do some more on this square tonight, I love seeing how it develops as I read each pattern line and knit them stitch by stitch.  The only other progress on this is that I am considering purchasing a specific mat that will allow me to block all of my squares at one time on the same set of pegs so that they are all perfectly blocked to the correct dimensions.  This was recommended for the Moogly 2019 Crochet Along (CAL) that involves granny squares.   Since I am committed to the Jimmy Beans Projects and the Sherlock KAL I do not think I will take up the Moogly challenge, but I do like the idea of all of my KAL blocks being the precise same size.

For the Lots of Socks Challenge I am going to finish my second sock (of the same colorway so not really in the spirit of things) tonight when I get home from work.  I had finished the toe and tried it on, only to find that when they say 1 inch from the end of the sock, they really mean, when your toes start.  I must have known this for the first sock, but forgot for the second.  So I ripped out the seam, undid the toe section, and added 4 more rows to my sock.  It now matches the previous sock, this will free me up to work on my Baker Street Socks.

I know that I have not written about my crochet project from Jimmy Beans in a little while, It is coming along slowly but surely.  Apparently I managed to put 10 extra stitches into the bottom, which means that all 28 rows of my sides had 10 extra stitches.  No wonder I ran out of yarn.  This has resulted in my needing to order more yarn.  I hope that the 4 balls I ordered are enough to finish this off completely, however, the pattern calls for ending with 45 stitches left so that the pouf can be stuffed, washed, and emptied.  I would rather close it off, but there is leeway if I decide not to buy any more yarn.

The final project I was working on was a simple knit dishcloth.  I finished it a couple of months ago but forgot to post about it.

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I will freely admit that I love the darn thing.  There really is nothing like washing with a cotton dishcloth.  It is so thick that the soap lathers up beautifully and there are absolutely no scratchy parts at all.  If I were a faster knitter (and had a smaller family) I think I would make these for everyone for Christmas.  I might do that, it just might take a few years!

Happy Crafting and Remember to Live a Life A Little More Abstract!

Sherlock’s Great Afghan Adventure V by Susan Woodly

I am an extreme fan of Sherlock, and I mentioned in an earlier post that I had signed up for Sherlock’s Great Afghan Adventure V which was created by Susan Woodly, the pattern cost $11.99 (there was a sale) but there are quarterly prizes for the trivia and word scrambles.  This is going to not only give me a reason to listen to the Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which I purchased but never got to, but to take the year to knit a very large project.  I began purchasing some bits of worsted weight superwash yarn so that I could begin knitting March 16th when the first part of the pattern is released.  I had already ordered Blue Sky Fibers Woolstok Yarn – 1305 October Sky from Jimmy Beans Wool for $8.10.  I also ordered a skein of Malbrigio Worsted yarn from Darn Good Yarn for $11.60.  This means that I was about $31.69 into this project already.  I was hoping to get one brand/type of yarn for the entire project, but since I would need 14-16 skeins of yarn and most of the Worsted Weight Superwash Wool yarns are 8-25/skein this did not seem like a reasonable goal.

However, I had a $100 coupon from Paradise Fibers Points system and they were running a 20% off flash sale.  These two things combined were enough to have me order one yarn for the entire project.  Originally these 14 skeins of Cascade 220 would have been $154.  Because of the flash sale, $30.80 was taken off of the top, and then I had a $100 coupon.  This means that for these skeins that would have been $11 each I paid less than $1.70 each shipped.  I am pleased that this will mean that all of these squares will be made out of the same yarn, ensuring a form of continuity throughout the project.  This would not have been the case if I had continued to piece together the project, especially since the Malbrigio is a singles yarn.

This brings the total spent for this project so far up to:

$54.90.  If I only use the Cascade Superwash this will be reduced to $35.20.  Since the true cost does include the $100 coupon that I spent on this project, it is safe to say that this is the reason that crafters cannot get what they deserve for things like this afghan.  Even with the simple 3X your supplies cost this blanket would be $405.60.  That calculation does not include the time spent actually knitting the project.  Oh well, these purchases should be enough to keep me happily crafting for an entire year, if not longer.  If I do not wind up using my initial purchases for this project they will be great for a hat, arm warmers, fingerless mittens, cowls, and more.  I was trying to think of what the moral of this experience is, but unfortunately all I get are conflicting ones.  I guess the best I can come up with is: Keep your eyes peeled for a good sale, but have a backup in mind (or stashed).

Happy Crafting!

Spinning Box February 2019

I have been meaning to purchase a Fair Trade Basket made in Africa for a couple of years now.  Unfortunately, they have always seemed very expensive for something I am concerned I will just push around.  When The Spinning Box had their limited edition baskets filled with fiber, I fell in love with this version.  It is even roomier than I thought, and while my first photo is poorly done, the vivid colors on the inside cannot be mistaken.  All of this is before taking into consideration that it was filled past the brim with fiber and a couple of other goodies.

This basket was in celebration of the holiday originating in India called Holi.  My understanding is that it is a celebration of color and joy, which this basket certainly represents.  Bundled with the basket is also a set of videos intended to demonstrate ways of making the spinning box into a cohesive unit.  I am still working my way through them, I do not know if it is because I am watching them on an Apple device or if my internet is just not very compatible with the server the videos are hosted on but for me they lag quite a bit.

The variety of fibers is quite remarkable, from Targhee, Merino blends, and Lincoln to name a few.

I am hoping that I can spin these two targhee rovings well enough for a pair of socks!  There are enough Merino fibers that I believe I can blend them into a decent sized project, depending on how they want to spin.  If I have the patience to draft them into laceweight I might be able to knit a shawl, if they want to be thicker perhaps some leg/arm warmers, maybe I can weave something with them.  No matter what they become, the colors are guaranteed to shine.

As you can see pictured above there was a wide variety of merino!

There are a few other little batches of fiber that I have to figure out what I want to do with them, if I can manage to get 110 yards of 2 ply out of a breed then I should be able to knit some wrist/ankle warmers which might be fun.  I have the skein for my first attempt at knitting the pattern ready to be balled up so that is also on the agenda.

There was also a wand of some sort, pictured upper left, and a pendant containing an elephant (not pictured) included.  I am very excited, and rejuvinated, by all of this color and opportunity to experiment.  One last interesting feature is that apparently the basket can be wetted and reshaped if it should become deformed.

Was this basket expensive, Yes it really was.  However I could have easily spent that much just for the basket, so I know that the hours of enjoyment that the fibers are going to bring me are certainly a bonus.  I am trying to think of the best use of the basket, right now it is holding all of the merino blends so that I can carry them around into different light and decide how I want to put them together.  Perhaps I can use it to display finished skeins for color inspiration.  Until next time!

Happy Crafting!

 

Still Bargaining

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I subscribed to the Darn Good Yarn box of the month back when it was a new thing, probably 3 years ago in 2016, for $10 I thought it was worth a shot.  I received a skein of Sari Silk yarn, which sounds lovely.  In reality it was a sari from a woman in India that had been torn into strips and hand tied to form a ‘skein’.  Since the photo being shown when advertising the box was a lovely skein of beaded yarn I was understandably disappointed to receive a ‘skein’ of purple fabric that bled everywhere, had tons of strings hanging off, and that tore every time I tried to use it.  I washed it until it stopped bleeding, let it tear where it was going to, and tied skeins of yarn with it.  I also cancelled my subscription.

That brings us to last week.  One of my colleagues let me know that she had decided to subscribe to the Darn Good Yarn box, she made it sound like I had recommended this (I don’t remember doing that, but I might have.)  She loved it, it was a beautiful skein of rainbow silk yarn that she made a cowl from.  Not only did that strike my interest, but there was an advertisement on Facebook that the kit would also include knitting needles and a crochet hook made from wood and painted purple.  I was officially hooked in, even if I hated the yarn, knitting needles and a crochet hook!  I also spent the extra $5 to get a surprise.  For about $20, with shipping, I received 2 skeins of silk yarn 75 yards each, a set of knitting needles, and a crochet hook.  I do like the looks of the yarn and the tools.

Now the question becomes what am I going to do with 75 yards of worsted weight silk yarn in two different colorways?  According to ravelry, fingerless gloves, toys, water bottle covers, drink sleeves, wrist warmers, a pouch, or an accent for color work.  I can also use the included patterns to knit or crochet a little cowl, actually I cast on the knit cowl out of the rainbow yarn to see how it looks.

So, I think I will keep this subscription going for a month or two to see what other goodies will arrive.  If you get a chance, and like small projects, this is well worth the $10.

Happy Crafting!

Bargain Hound

When it comes right down to brass tacks I tend to be a bargain hound, I find it very hard to resist a good deal.  This, of course, gets me into a bit of trouble, but who needs groceries some weeks when I’ve got yarn?  It isn’t quite as bad as that, but I do stock on freezer meals when they are on sale so I don’t have to worry about getting something for dinner some days.  Part of that is the fact that between my 3 jobs I work 6 days a week therefore cooking is a luxury not an every day thing.  Enough of my digressions, the point of this is that I subscribe to a lot of different crafting sites mailing lists so that I can take advantage of bargains when I come across them.  Some are well worth my time, some I can do without.  My weaknesses come in the form of under $10 bargains, especially those touted as half-off.

If something is under $10 and I can use it, I will probably pick it up.  With under $20 I tend to take some time to think about it, will I actually use it, do I have enough of this already, etc. then I buy it or not.  Anything over $20 has to be something that I have been thinking about/craving for at least 2 weeks before I even consider it.  This causes me some problems with the independent knitting patterns for sale on Ravelry.  I know that it took you quite some time to come up with your pattern and you are trying to make a living off of it, but at $7.50 it is a bit expensive for me, especially if it is novelty and not like a sock or a sweater.  This brings me to the new quagmire I have gotten myself into, Happily Hooked, a digital magazine I subscribe to, is having a 26 week course called the Stitch Mastery Program starting tomorrow, and guess what?  It was under $10.

This course, for non members, is $20.  It comes with 26 weeks of learning a new stitch every week complete with videos and 2 projects for each stitch.  So my bargain hound soul is singing with the idea of 52 projects in 26 stitches, and six months of learning for $1O.  Those of you thinking about the hooks, yarn, etc. I have a ton of that from Mom.

While I did not need another project/set of projects, I am very happy to be learning yet another new skill.  I think that 2019 is going to be a year of learning.  When I get working on the projects I will let you know more.

Happy Crafting!

Thoughts of Spring

I know, the year has not even ended and I am thinking about a Spring Dye Garden.  To be fair to me, January is National Seed Catalog Month.  I have just under 2 acres of land around my home, however much of that is either forest or too hilly to be useful for planting.  Fortunately I have 2 raised beds in the back of the house and one large raised bed facing the front of the house.  Throughout these past few years the beds have gone to seed.  I intend to put down some material that is supposed to deter weeds and cut around the few plants that I want to keep.  Then I intend to make some cement blocks, with inlaid glass designs on top, to hold down the material as well as further deterring weeds.  The cement blocks will also be a great base for the pots that I hope to use so that I can plant a dye garden out front.  I also hope that creating cement blocks is truly as easy of a craft as it seems so that I can use that as a craft at the public library I work at next year.

To get an idea of what plants I want to put in my dye garden I am researching using several resources.  From Knitpicks I purchased The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes by Sasha Duerr.  So far I find it to be a fascinating resource that will help me a great deal toward understanding how to create dyes from plant materials.  I also purchased A Garden to Dye For through the Amazon Kindle Store.  These should give me a really good basis for understanding what plants I am going to need.  I am also trying to figure out what plants are native to my area of the USA so that I can avoid planting invasive species in my area.

In my two back beds I do hope to plant some vegetables.  Cherry tomatoes, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, spaghetti squash, and perhaps some others.  Again, I do plan on deterring the weeds and utilizing planters to create a garden with reasonable maintenance needs.

I firmly believe that this is going to take me several months, both to figure out what plants are good for dyeing and native (or at least not destructive) to my environment.  I would love to plant some cotton or flax but the reality is I am a little too far north for that to be a realistic dream.

So, I will keep dreaming, planning, and crafting.

Happy Crafting to All!

Mice and Me

The handyman that my colleague recommended to me is amazing, he has done so much work over the past week I can hardly believe it.  He is getting the basement cleared out, going to set up traps, seal any holes, and generally make sure that more mice getting in is impossible.  He has also managed to greatly disturb the existing nest and last night I heard what sounded like claws on the linoleum.  So, I didn’t sleep last night at all.  I dragged all of the cardboard out of the house, I had to put it by the external garage since pickup is not this week but next.  I looked for detritus, mouse droppings, and found none.  I called the handyman and he mentioned that since I have drop tiled ceilings in the basement the scratching  could have been coming from below the floor, which means I might be able to sleep tonight.

This is sort of a relief, however I think I need to get a professional organizer in the house anyway.  I had it in my head that I was going to take this one room at a time, blah, blah, blah.  In reality I know what I want to do, but have no idea how to achieve it.  Hopefully hiring a professional to accomplish this will help me to succeed and overcome this overwhelming sense of not enough space, not enough time.

On another note, I have received my Mirrix Little Guy Loom and I am enjoying myself a great deal.  I have begun to understand where this shopping retail is coming from and it actually is not depression.  My sibling’s (transgendered) driving force is travel.  They have always wanted to go to Japan and see the world.  I would like to see the world, but my driving force is Crafting.  Part is the primal driving force to connect with my fore-mothers through the crafts that they used to spend hours, days, weeks, months, and years learning and perfecting.  A portion is to try everything and find out what I am good at.  Another portion is simply a love of creating something tangible, meant to be used, held, and worn out.  If I gift you a bookmark, use it until the threads fall out, I’ll make you another.  If I give you dishtowels, please use them, I would love to hear that you wore a hole in them.  Art is pretty and it functions to decorate walls, Tapestries are prettier, decorate walls, and insulate your house.  So while my sibling is going on a trip to Japan in 8-10  weeks I am stocking up my studio to see what I can create in a year.  Right now I have a pair of tapestry cuffs on my Mirrix loom, I am enjoying testing out the different weights of wool and silk that I have to see what they will do on the loom.

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It really is true, you can get by with inferior tools but working with the right tools makes all the difference.  This loom warps up amazingly quickly, I am using the 8 dents per inch, and the shedding device allows me to add weft to the tapestries at an amazing rate.  I can easily adjust them up and down so that I have more room to work, and the tension system allows me to get a much tighter weave.  Looking at these it would take some imagination to think of what a worse beat is, I have to work hard on my selvedges.  This loom is also good for bead weaving which is an art that I want to become involved in.  I look forward to that exploration.

There are three more weeks before the end of the year.  In the next post I hope to have an update on the mouse issue, the organizer issue, my current tapestries, as well as a review of my Spinolution Firefly wheel.  To clarify, I purchased a 16 shaft Ashford loom which I will be discussing, the pin loom which was in the last blog post (I still love it), the Mirrix Loom which I will be exploring in depth this year, the Spinolution Firefly (electric) wheel package that includes a skein winder, lazy kate, 32oz and 16 oz heads, and more, as well as a variety of Jacquard dyes to color my weft threads.  It turns out that four or five skeins of weft from Treenway Silks costs about the same as a big skein of undyed silk yarn from knitpicks and some Jacquard dyes.  I had a pink dye already and found a good deal on Salmon (which is a brighter pink than I would have thought).  All of these supplies should stand me in good stead for working on my breed spinning experiment this year, making bookmarks, finding the right diameter of yarn for my 7′ triangle loom, and working on my curtains for the kitchen.

For now, Happy Crafting!