Crafting Palooza!

I have about a week and a half off of my most time-consuming job.  It is a contract job, so I will still get paid the same (some of my colleagues took a vacation in January and I filled in so now they are working over this school-break and I get time off).  I will be filling in some of that time picking up extra hours at my public library job, it works out because my supervisor was having trouble with that schedule, but it will still be fewer hours than I normally work.  What will I do with all of that free time?  Clean the house, I don’t think so.  Do some work outside?  Maybe Wednesday when it is supposed to be over 50 and I have the day off.  Will I craft?  YES! All the Crafts!

I have actually taken advantage of the couple of days I had completely off of work to run the dishwasher a couple of times, cook some curry, run a couple of loads of clothes and finish a couple of my projects.  I also asked my sibling (Transgendered, I use neutral terms, I’m not mad at them the way most people think I am when I use the word ‘sibling’) if they would use a crochet shower pouf  if I made a couple out of cotton so that they were washable, the pattern is linked.  I received an enthusiastic yes, they use the plastic kind that you have to throw away right now, and a request for a colorway I do not own.  Their birthday is six weeks away, and I am fairly certain they do not read my blog, and so I let them think that they would be getting a pouf in the color of my choice from what I already own.  I have crocheted two already so that I knew how the pattern worked (plus it is dead simple) and figured out how I would like to construct them.  It turns out I can get two from one ball of Dishy from Knitpicks, and if I fold them over instead of stacking the layers it creates a very puffy pouf, as you can easily see in this photo.  I have also started a third from a new ball, my sibling has housemates and I think if I crochet through my stash I can have poufs for everyone.

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So, what my sibling doesn’t know, is that I also ordered two balls of dishie in the colorway that they requested from Knitpicks.  Of course, they also had some grab bags of sock yarn (two for the price of one) and a couple of sock yarns in Their preferred colorway as well as an offer of a free ball of knitpicks new yarn line Snuggle Puff, which is a cotton nylon blend intended for baby things and other fluffy patterns.  I am trying to not purchase yarn unless I have a pattern already picked out for it, however I have a new sock pattern and if I can manage a pair of socks (or four, if the pattern is as easy as it looks) then I will be quite happy with my Birthday present to my lovely sibling.

I did finish a couple of projects, namely my first Sherlock Square (love it!) and my first quarter Jimmy Beans project, the crochet pillow/floor pouf.  The pouf is a bit lumpy since I closed it off and overstuffed it.  I did have to purchase 4 extra skeins of the Scheepjes yarn, but I have leftovers of that.  I will have to decide if I am going to find a project for them or if I will keep them for possible repairs to the pouf. At present I plan on using the pouf for somewhere that my Cat can sit on while I am working in the detached garage/studio my handyman is working on fixing up.

I had planned on making a flower motif on the top, but quickly changed my mind when I realized that the motif might mean that the cat would not sit on it.  I have also made some progress on the throw together shawl I started using the Miss Babs Yummy 2 ply yarn I purchased.

IMG_2281The photo really doesn’t show things off too well, but since it is lace I don’t think it will look like much until it is blocked.  I finished the first piece of blue and added in 4 rows of black, it is a simple pattern where I knit the three end stitches and do the yarn overs to create the crescent shape then I did a yarn over knit two together all the way across, purled back (in the appropriate increase pattern for the edge).  I did those two rows twice then I started the green yarn and I have completed 4 rows of knit on one side purl on the other.  It is going to take some time since the yarn is so fine, but this will give me time to decide if I want to try some more patterning in the regular sections or just in the black  and brown bands in between.  Which brings up another point.  I do not have nearly enough black for that to be the only transition color between, however I have a ton of brown.  I believe I will us the black at the top of the shawl until it runs out then switch to brown for the rest. I cannot believe I almost forgot a project!

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This is the Morrigan Shawl by Hedgehog Fibers knit in Madelinetosh Prairie in the Aura colorway.  I obtained the yarn at a considerable discount from Jimmy Beans Wool Wool Watchers.  I am not positive I am doing this correctly, however I am enjoying it considerably.  This is simply the ‘set up’ chart, at the writing of this post I have completed row 10 of the repeating chart.  There are 28 rows to that chart and it is to be repeated 4 times before the edging chart is started so I am just starting this pattern but I love it anyway.

So that is all of the projects I am working on right now.  If I get as much as I hope accomplished then there will be a mid-week update, if not then remember to Live a Life a Little More Abstract until next week!

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!

Shifts in Time and Perspective

Today is when we set our clocks ahead an hour, thereby losing an hour of sleep but gaining an hour of daylight.  For me this means that spring is ever closer, and a quarter of the year is almost gone.  I know, that will not be true until closer to the end of March, but time is certainly marching on.  Taxes are soon going to be filed, the cat is going to the vet tomorrow, gardens need to be prepared, and it really needs to stop snowing.  Thinking about all of this is giving me time to remember what the name of this blog is really about.  It is too easy to take life very seriously, and think of things in a very linear way.  Sometimes you need to think in ways that are A Little More Abstract, about life as well as craft.

February is always a bad month for me.  The end of January was my parents wedding anniversary, February 21st was the closing of the 10th year since we lost my father.  This is my first full year without my mother.  March begins a new month, a fresh month, working our way toward spring.  Lent is upon us, if you are Christian, so we begin a march toward Easter.  The word ‘March’ in the phrases, “March toward Easter”, and “Time is Marching on” tend to bring the unfortunate connotation of drudgery.  You think of an army slogging its way toward a battle, instead I think of a steady progression.  When soldiers March they tend to do so with their heads held high, marching proudly toward their destiny, whatever that may be.

This is where my shift in perspective is coming into play.  I need to figure out where my destiny is going to lay.  These past 10 years working several part-time jobs and taking care of mom has been a wonderful learning experience.  I have had the time as well as freedom to learn a lot about myself and what I am capable of in addition to some of my limitations.  Now it is time for me to face what the spring and summer will bring.  I know, this entire entry is a bit maudlin, but that is what this time of year does to me.

Yesterday I managed to wrap all of the warps for the shoelace weaving project I will be teaching tomorrow, put together a shelving unit for my studio when it is completed, and set up pans for the 12 stepping stones I hope to make out of cement.  I intended to begin pouring the stones yesterday, but since the weather is supposed to get up to almost 50 by the middle of the week I decided to hold off on actually mixing and pouring the cement.  I have the sand poured and the glass set, so it is just a matter of adding the cement and leaving them to harden.  Hopefully things will be in good shape by Wednesday, when they are coming to install my new garage door, and Thursday when I hope to mix the cement.  The decorations on these stones are pieces of glass, but I believe I will change that out for mosaic tiles or decorative stone for the actual class.  The glass shards are too much of a liability to consider as a good solution.

I have completed 2/3rds of the Jimmy Beans Knitted Cowl and have begun the final third.  It is actually my goal to have that knitted by the end of this week so that I can block it out and take a final picture for a blog post next week, fingers crossed.  I have not make much progress on the second installment of the Crochet Pouf but that is going to be my second goal, I believe.  This may get sidetracked depending on how complex the first installment of the Sherlock Afghan is on Saturday.  I also have socks and dishcloths I am fiddling with, hopefully things will get past the stage of stitching into nothingness and some progress will be made.

So that is the end of it for now.  Shifting time, shifting perspective, and a shifting list of priorities.  Learning more about myself and what I can do, playing with cement is new, and reminding myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.  So until next installment.

Keep crafting and remember to keep your 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!

Jimmy Beans Subscription Boxes: Quarter 1, Part 1, Post 2.

Due to the horrible weather the Community College I work at was closed Wednesday and Thursday, SNOW DAYS!  This was fortunate since I was feeling under the weather and would not have been able to accomplish much, there was also a staff meeting that was rescheduled.  Because of this I not only finished the first quarter of the shawl pattern I completed as much as I can at this point.  Let me clarify, this shawl is supposed to be knit over a period of three months, with each month’s kit building on the last.  There are two more repeats of the white portion and another type of stitch that are supposed to be a part of this month’s construction.  Many of the (very fast) knitters on Ravelry have commented that they have run out of white before finishing the portion of the shawl that I am on and have been unable to start the final portion (bobble stitches).  Jimmy Beans has apologized and sent out extra yarn to those that have let them know, they are also including extra yarn for everyone in the next installment.  Since I know that I do not have enough yarn to complete this portion, do not want to halt the pattern in the middle of a section, and have plenty to do, I have decided to wait until the next installment arrives before I continue.  That being said, this kit is amazing!  I am having so much fun as well as learning that I am capable of knitting much better than I believed.

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The bottom of my crocheted ottoman.  This is the first installment of the Jimmy Beans Crochet kit, there were four skeins of yarn left over (tiny skeins) but the next portion is supposed to take a lot of yarn so these bits will be used there.  From what I understand the next portion is building up the sides of the ottoman.  The way things look I think I will have plenty of pillows for stuffing this thing, even if it is much taller than anticipated.  Much like the knitting kit, this spinning kit has brought me hours of enjoyment for very little investment.  While I honestly haven’t learned as much I did begin this journey with a wider base of knowledge, and I will have a neat ottoman when I am done.

Since there is going to be an installment of each of these clubs every month I am going to try and keep up with the stitching as well as reporting how they are going.  I have a couple more projects going on this week and will be writing posts about them shortly!

Happy Crafting!

Jimmy Beans Wool Subscription Boxes

In the Fall of 2018 Jimmy Beans Wool had the option to buy a three month set of their knitting subscription for $30 so that you could knit up some little cacti.  I don’t need any more junk in my house, but I wanted to know if I was capable of knitting a cactus.  Now I have a pair of cacti sitting on my shelf in front of my mother’s religious statues, and I have the parts of the third waiting to be stuffed and added to the collection.  It might be a bit of a wait since I purchased a year subscription to the knitting and crochet clubs that Jimmy Beans offers.

TIP: If you want to order more than one of their subscription boxes, make each one into a separate order.  They don’t say that anywhere that I can find on their website but it really does save a bit of hassle.  That being said, though I have contacted their help about 3 times so far this year, they are quite quick to respond to my concerns.

My knitting skills are a bit rudimentary, to be kind, and so I was not sure if I would be able to follow the instructions to create the shawl that is the first project for this quarter.  Fortunately the instructions are very clear allowing me to expand my skills very quickly and obtain beautiful results.  I am only on the first third of the first set of instructions but the pattern is time consuming and fascinating.  It takes me about 90 minutes to complete the 4 rows that go into one repeat of the pattern.  As of the writing of this I have completed 3 repeats and have 2.5 left to go (the piece leading into the next pattern is only 1/2 of the pattern, the hard half.).  I believe that learning the stitches took me longer than the 90 minutes mentioned above, however, even if it did not I have already accumulated 4.5 hours of enjoyment out of this $20 and I have not even finished the first section.  This club also came with a little knit notebook, which I do not know what I am going to do with it, and a beautiful bag with snaps called the Oh Snap bag.  When I get the first third of the shawl completed I will attempt to post a picture.

I decided to try the crochet kit of the month club simply because Mom loved to crochet and I didn’t want my skills in that area to get rusty.  The first project is an ottoman, crocheted and stuffed with whatever blankets etc you would like.    I love the concept and mildly resent having to purchase the extra equipment to stuff the sucker with.  I contemplated getting a storage ottoman and trying to find a way to create a slit of some sort in the cover, however Wal-Mart had fuzzy pillows on sale so hopefully the four I purchased will be enough to stuff this thing.  If not I am certain I will think of something.  Right now the pattern is a simple single crochet starting in the magic loop and gaining stitches every row.  There is a little hitch where you reach down a row for one of the single crochets to form a cute spike.  We are also working with doubled up yarn, two strands at a time, which I have never done before.

Really, if you enjoy crafting and need some external motivation (which I am realizing is my problem) then these are a great way to expand your skill set and get neat projects to boot.

Happy crafting!

Beekeeper’s Quilt

I am working on the Beekeeper’s Quilt, the pattern is by Tiny Owl Knits and can be found on Ravelry.  Each little Hexipuff is knit as an individual project, stuffed, and put in a basket until you have a sufficient amount to piece together for a completed quilt.  I can knit about one hexipuff a day, due to time constraints and my very slow knitting.  It will take about 580 Hexipuffs to make a quilt 5.5 Feet X 6 Feet.  Since I like my quilts to be able to actually cover me this is the size I am aiming for.  A 3 foot by 4 foot quilt would be 384 hexipuffs but I would consider that a very small quilt.

If I were able to knit a hexie every single day it would take me about 2 years to create the hexie’s and probably another year to piece it together.  This would certainly qualify as a big project.  Well, I cannot make a three year project easy on myself now can I?  No!  I decided that I was going to create two different hexipuff quilts.  One will be made up of hexie’s that I knit from my own handspun yarn.

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The second quilt that I plan on working on will consist of scraps of yarn, usually some fancy yarns that I will not purchase an entire skein of.  For example JimmyBeansWool.com allows 20 yard samples of some of their yarns to be purchased.  While I find myself reluctant to purchase a skein of Madeline Tosh (MadTosh) yarn for $25-$35 a skein, I can justify spending about $1.25 for enough yarn to create a hexipuff and a half.  It really is still quite expensive, but it allows me to fool myself into thinking that I am being thrifty.  I have also discovered that the MadTosh yarn is really exquisite to work with and creates a very pretty, silky puff.  If I were really into clothing knitting I would certainly consider some of this.  The yarn to the left is a thin sock yarn, that I might need to use a smaller needle if I want to knit the rest of my sample skein into hexie’s, and the right is the MadTosh yarn in Swimming Pool colorway.

 

I really enjoy knitting up these tiny hexies on my size 8 Dpns out of wood.  I love how the needles work with the yarn, and I really enjoy working with my handspun so I get an idea of what works and what does not with my yarn.

Happy Crafting!