Everyone keeps supplies around for their knitting, whether it's just having a pair of scissors tucked in a bag's inner pocket or something more substantial. What's in yours?
Mine contains the following:
- measuring tape
- needle gauge
- tin full of stitch markers
- needles (both straight-tipped and curve-tipped)
- spare yarn for emergency stitch holders
- crochet hook for emergency dropped stitches
- row counter (any kind will do; I usually throw in a barrel-style one for space saving considerations)
- 2"x2" post-it notes
And sometimes a double-pointed needle or two… or a full set of sock needles. I'm not sure why those are in there.
I actually have two of these — one in a zippered bag, one in the sheep bag made for me by a friend. :) That way I can take one with me when I go places, but I don't have to move it back and forth between portable knitting and house knitting.
Other things I'd like, but don't necessarily have room for: a pencil and a calculator. (I have a tiny calculator, but only one, darn it. I should have bought several; then I'd have enough for both knitting kits and to keep in the nightstand.)
Elsewhere online I'm doing a "31 Days, 31 Things That Make Me Happy" sort of meme. Though I expect that eventually I'll get more specific about things within yarncrafts that make me happy (such as wool, or 2mm needles, or lace knitting), for now, here's the post about yarncrafts in general and how they make me very happy. (Some of this has been told on this blog before, but this is a make-up post, so I want to get it out there anyway!)
Things That Make Me Happy: Yarncrafts! For me, that's knitting and crocheting. I started crocheting in late 2000/early 2001. I'd always wanted to give it a shot, and I'd even found a kind of cheap yarn that had a cute picture of sheep on it and a little bit of wool (this turned out to be Wool-Ease by Lion Brand, which I used for years and years and am just destashing the last of these days). I made a few blankets and was quite happy with them.
Then in May 2001, we bought our condo, and right around that time I learned to knit. I mainly learned by using The Complete Idiot's Guide To Knitting And Crocheting, and I learned using 14" long straight metal needles on acrylic yarn. In retrospect, it's amazing I learned at all with those materials, and I totally deserve an award. It is not surprising to me that, while learning to purl, I grabbed the needles out of the yarn and threw them against the wall. Also, I was trying to learn from a book that was primarily teaching me English-style throwing instead of Continental-style picking. After several months of crochet, I was used to holding the yarn in my left hand and keeping the tension there. I finally gave up on doing it the way the book said and started trying it the way that felt natural to me, and it worked much, much better.
More than seven years later, I'm still doing yarncrafts all the time. I still know how to crochet (and have been doing a good bit of it lately as I turn out small market bags, which I'm going to try to post the pattern for over at the knitting blog soon), but I do prefer knitting. So far this year, I've completed 50 projects (as well as tossing or frogging 17 others), as part of my goal to wind up with a neater, more organized stash. (It's not working as well as I might have hoped, but at least I have a spreadsheet now.) Meanwhile, I'm also trying to knit from the stash more often than I buy new yarn. This is working somewhat better, as I've knit or started 67 projects from the stash and only 38 from new yarn this year. We'll see how I do by the end of the year. This doesn't really keep me from buying new yarn (and man, it doesn't help that Cascade 220 is the yarn of the month at Ben Franklin — I so want to pick up enough yarn for a sweater, maybe one for me and one for Grant, both, not to mention that I could buy lots and lots of yarn for new sheep), but it's kept the yarn-buying under slightly more control. More or less.
One of my most meaningful projects was a stained glass project using yarn from my late great-grandmother. My grandmother sent me her stash when she passed away, and though there wasn't enough yarn in any one color to make any specific projects with it, there was plenty to make a scrap afghan. And so I turned all that yarn into an afghan that looked a lot like this, and gave it to my grandmother that Christmas. In retrospect, since it came so early in my crocheting career, it may not have been my most skilled, polished project ever, but it made my grandmother happy, and it makes me happy when I see it.
Knitting makes me very happy. :) Yarn makes me very happy. There are certain things I've never tried to do, because I don't need more hobbies at this point (dyeing my own yarn and spinning), but I love the parts of yarncrafts I do participate in, and I'm glad to have finally gotten around to discovering them.
The windowpane shawl's going great — so great I'm eyeballing early August for its ship date instead of late August or early September. If I can get it done before I go on vacation (WHOO VEGAS!), I can ship it out then. Otherwise it's staying home; I'm not gonna take it to Vegas, of all places. Who knows what could happen?
Anyway, in order to keep track of how fast I need to knit to make my target goal, I've made another spreadsheet.
(For those of you curious about formulas and such, it's a Google Doc!)
Since it spirals out from the center, I actually counted the number of stitches, not the number of rows, so as to be able to divide them out equally. There are over 92,000 stitches in the shawl! Will I make it? If so, it's going to be close.
You remember how I had a Sneaky Sheep in my flock? Here, I'll refresh your memory:
Well, it turns out Sneaky Sheep has been going on missions. So far he's managed to infiltrate the study, while I was raiding Tempest Keep:
…the bathroom, as I was brushing my teeth…
…my bedroom window, as I was going to sleep…
…and now the kitchen cabinets!
(For fun and prizes, find the bonus sheep in each of those pictures. There are eight, plus an "extra".)
I do have other things going! I've been working on shopping bags, and two friends have graciously agreed to help me test a pattern. (It's crochet, requires about 300 yards of not-too-stretchy yarn, and roughly an H hook — mileage varies.) I'm also working on a shawl project, but it's a gift for someone; as such, I won't be posting pictures of it until it's complete and in the hands of the recipient. :)
In the beginning there was one white sheep:
Who eventually was joined by one grey sheep:
And life continued as usual. Then I got it in my head to make a rainbow sheep… and I bought some grey variegated yarn… and and and and…
And then I started knitting sheep for charity. Eventually the flock looked like this:
Yarn used for nearly all the sheep: Cascade 220. The camo sheep is made with Patons Classic Merino. Needle size: 6.5mm (US 10 1/2).
The front row have gone to their new homes, raising money for the California Marriage Equality initiatives; the back row… those are mine, and now I need to find places to display them. :)
Surprise, surprise! I finished something that wasn't a sheep.
Not to say that it isn't wrapped around one.
Yarn used: Dark Horse Fantasy. Needle size: 4mm.
I was surprisingly pleased with this scarf. Dark Horse Fantasy is definitely the nicest acrylic I've ever laid hands on, and I'd work with it again, no problem. And the pattern came out lovely! So lovely that I decided to do something I've never done before — I wrote up the pattern.
Yes, it's basketweave k3p3 with a 4-row repeat and 3 stitches of knitted-on I-cord border, and yes, a knowledgeable knitter can simply figure it out by looking, and yes, it felt strange to write such a "simple" pattern up… but I found myself thinking that maybe I should do it anyway. Not everyone in the world can hear the above phrases and turn those into a pattern!
Like everything else on the site, and every pattern I'll ever write, now and in the future, it's Creative Commons licensed. If you're curious what that means, I encourage you to check out this page, where I provide a few links and clarify my personal feelings on Creative Commons licenses as they apply to my patterns. :)
It is entirely possible I'll have another pattern up next week — this one for a crocheted grocery bag — but it might take me a little longer. My charity auction is finished, and it's time for me to cast on for a shawl. Wooooooooo shawl! :D
Thursday, be on the lookout for sheep. Some sneaky… some brightly colored… all very proud, and most of them (though not all of them) members of my personal flock. :)
When making four sheep of the same type, with multiple color changes, I felt it behooved me (ha! Get it? Be"hoove"d me?) to make them all at once, so I could see if I had enough purple for the sheep rumps first, and enough blue, and so on. As it happens, purple may not be the one I'm running most short of by the time this is all said and done — it may be red — but I definitely had enough purple, which was a relief!
Here's the sheep assembly line!
And a close-up of sheeps in progress:
Plus a picture of how they are size-wise as compared to a sheep that's been felted just once. Bear in mind the sheep is not stuffed — he'd look a lot bigger if he were!
The KnitPicks Options needles have been a godsend for this project. I just move the needle tips from cord to cord as I go — easy as could be!
I did start another blue/grey variegated sheep, but after working a couple of rows, I realized I'd rather be working on a color I haven't worked before. So I'll be casting on a camouflage sheep tonight. :D
Of all the things in the world to knit, I've found my favorite.
I'm currently working on some Rainbow Sheep for a charity auction, but of course one of the sheep is staying home with me. :)
From left to right, we have the Original Felted Sheep (who I made very early in my knitting career), Boober Sheep (who came a few years later), and finally Grey Polled Sheep, Bi Pride Sheep, and Rainbow Sheep. I'm knitting five Rainbow Sheep to raise money for marriage equality in California — one of them has already gone out to someone who donated money to one of the marriage equality organizations, one of them is earmarked for another person, and three more are still being bid on. :) It looks like, all in all, I will have raised well over $150 in sheep alone (getting close to $200, actually). A custom knit shawl is currently going for $80, and the Jayne Hat Bag is going for $20. :)
I'm not going to be quite done with sheep with the end of the auction sheep, though. I'd like another grey sheep to go with the polled sheep, and I have a teal (!) variegated yarn that I'd like to make into sheep. I have one more "pride" sheep to go, too.
All these sheep are being knit with Cascade 220, which is one of my favorite feltable wools. (The horns on the Grey Polled Sheep are done in Lion Wool, which is also a nice feltable wool.) The pattern is A Felt Flock, by FiberTrends. Having now knit six of these sheep (with four more coming), I can honestly say I'm enjoying it a lot, and the short row shaping is ingenious!
(And this is why I was late on the last two posts. I have been knitting sheep practically nonstop for almost a week now, and I'm not done yet! Tomorrow, I'll get a post up on time, though — I'll be showing off the sheep assembly line. :) )
(This is a quickie makeup post standing in for the post that should have gone up July 3rd. Oops! When I do get caught up, you'll see why I'm behind…)
I think I've mentioned my Pink Prismatic Scarf before! It was an experiment both with the pattern (which gets five stars) and this yarn (which does not). Here's how it's looking right now:
I've tried it on both plastic and bamboo needles, and it's not making me happy at all. I'm going to finish it, because I like the color and the pattern is made of awesome, but I won't be working with this yarn again!
Here's the other scarf on needles at present:
It's an improvised basketweave pattern with built-in I-cord edging, using Dark Horse Fantasy. This yarn, unlike Comfort, is MADE OF WIN. I first heard about it through synecdochic on LiveJournal, who hails it as the best acrylic-based yarn ever, and she's totally correct about that. It's pricey for acrylic, but would be worth it if I absolutely had to have an easy-care fiber right now (it's sold at my LYS, unlike Shine from KnitPicks and such).
Both the sheep in these pictures are from Indiana — I think they may have come from the Wool 'n' Ewe shop one year at the State Fair. They're a cute iridescent color, and are from the Russ Berrie company. :)
Sometimes self-striping yarn gives you a perfect, awesome, amazing pattern.
Yarn used: Essential Multi in Shale print. Needles used: …
Look! Zigzags! Awesome zigzags!
Sometimes, self-striping yarn totally breaks your heart. In this case, I couldn't replicate that pattern, even though I had another ball of yarn in the same dye lot. I tried six different needles in two different materials — no dice. I tried swapping needles as I went — no dice. At least I have a sheep to comfort me.
So this sock stands as a testament to the finicky nature of self-striping sock yarn — which I have pretty much Gotten Over, to be honest — and also a lovely practice sock. As it turns out, I did an afterthought heel for the first time on this sock, and I really like the way it turned out. Now I can refer to this sock when trying to figure out how much leg/foot I need for an afterthought heel, which is a bit more than I might have expected. And I really did like the afterthought heel — it seems to fit me much better than the standard slip-stitch heel does. Yay!