Sure.. I’ll cast on another WIP

The brim of my new Izel har with some fingerless mitts

I am happy and  It is cold in Seattle, extremely cold.

There were snow flurries this past weekend and it has continued on and off through the week. The cold is my major motivation for casting on a new project. I am really trying to maximize my stash, my queue, and patterns. Surprisingly it is not limiting, in fact, it is oddly freeing. I picked projects and yarn and I am finally getting a chance to enjoy them.

I am going to out myself here and admit that I have a couple of bowls of yarn in my living room that just sit there. Most of these house partial skeins. I don’t really photograph them, but I think eventually I will use them. Funny thing about my intention to do this because I just haven’t followed through with it, the yarn just sits there. These partials have too much to be thrown away and too little to be used on a one skein project. This seems to be one of the downfalls of my colorwork knitting. I always seem to think that when I have about 70-100 yards, I should save the yarn for colorwork project I will do later.

The amount I had saved was perfect for casting on Izel. It is a pattern by Veronica who co-owns YOTH with her brother. It has been in my queue for a while and I paired it with some gradient handspun I have along with a skein of Heather Aran I bought last September when I visited Jamieson’s in Shetland. I am going to trash what every remnants (I see this as progress) I have left after this project and then I am contemplating using some Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed (in the bowl filled with yarn) and casting on another hat. I figure that 2 projects out of 4 skeins should make it look like I made the tiniest dent in the bowl currently housed in my living room #winning.

 

 

I am okay with it….

A belated happy New Year to everyone.  It has been a wonderfully comfortable start to the new year on the knitting and crafting front. As mentioned in earlier posts I am going to take it a bit easier than usual. I have never been so “chill” with my knitting time. It is really freeing to just knit a few rows when I have time.  It is a bit of a foreign concept for me to try knitting this way. I usually get sucked down the rabbit hole of seeing how many things I can finish or want to try out a  pattern that I had “favorited” on Ravelry.

Hedd Mitts by Trin- Annelie I only used partial skeins and I still had a bunch leftover.

I am slowly chugging along on the Ilia sweater and finished a recent test knit. I have also been watching the last custom orders of yarn come in from 2017, which while numerous, feels okay since I am “cold sheeping” in 2018.

I have seen this knit up in person and it seems to be different than other cashmere I have seen. I think it looks like it has more body and will be more resistant to excessive pilling. I don’t think pilling is avoidable with cashmere, but I think this looks like a good workhorse cashmere.
Okay, to be honest, I really want to buy more of the new Halo Worsted from the Plucky Knitter, but a deal is a deal and I am “cold sheeping” this year.

Trying not to buy patterns has been harder than not buying yarn, but when I realize I am only focusing on a couple of projects this year, it really feels like I haven’t lost anything. I can always buy the pattern or yarn next year.   This level of moderation seems oddly freeing, and I don’t feel I am deprived of anything. I really wish I could transfer this methodology to my relationship with food.

 

I think this Coldsheep thing might happen.

Finished it just in time to gift to a coworker.

Its been a bit of a yarn buying bonanza lately… I think even that word may be under emphasizing how much yarn has been going into my house. I am thinking that 3-4 bins won’t even cover the amount of yarn. It’s like the prettiest softest storm of cashmere, infact if I lived on the East Coast I would call it a Nor’easter.

So while I may have yarn coming in 2018, I have paid in full for all of the purchases in 2017 and while it will really really hurt I am giving up buying any new yarn until October 2018. Yes, that means even Viola and even fiber… It almost hurts writing this blog post, but it needs to happen. At last count I have 97 skeins headed to a little cottage in Seattle, WA….. I think I may be experiencing some tightness in the chest as a type that number… but who am I kidding this is going to be it for a while right? I am sure that everyone who talks about coldsheeping has some success, right?

I have been strategizing how I am going to blow through  as much yarn as possible in preparation for the big delvieries. I have a couple ideas, mainly quick knits that require me to hold thicker yarns double.  I have a pillow or some slippers planned but I am thinking that a pillow might be the biggest bang for the buck so to speak with removing the largest cubic volume out of the stash. OMG I am know referring to my stash in cubic measurements….. that surly is a sign of someone addicted to yarn right?

But seriously this holiday season has been one that has allowed for little knitting time. I am thankful though because everyone seems healthy and I have managed to get 2 WIPs off the needles, okay hopefully 2 by the time this gets posted. I am so close on my Lowbrow Cowl by Thao Nguyen. I think I might have about 11 more rows and then it is ready to be blocked. I also decided to from a sweater by Veera Valamaki that has just been languishing, so my WIPS will roughly go from 10 to 8… So I think it is time that I cast on Illiya by Michele Want for New Years Eve, I had skipped the Christmas Eve cast on and it will feel good to cast on something new for a change, even if it is a ling term project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Things 2017

Its been an investing year of trying new things. There have been a few things that  were purchased in the name of “science” that quickly became raves.  Here are a list of the items over the last year that have become frequently used and loved items in my home. She may be ideas for gifts to be given but others are pure inspiration for items to enhance one’s own  fiber adventures.

Pink Hazel Buckets

Pink Hazel’s Bucket: I cannot say enough about this bag. I like many have been using some of the common or highly favored project bags out there but think this is the best one I have seen so far. I  have two  and I already want more of them. What makes them so great? Well, they are self standing and well renforced so that with a bit of wear they don’t (at least not yet) get floppy. They colored fabric front has a place where you can put the tools on the outside. I found this handy as yarn won’t get caught on the tools if they are on the inside of the bag, it also makes them easier to see on the outside. The bag also has a separator in the middle which while at first I found odd, I now think of awesome. there are countless times that  yarn I have carried with my project gets tangled on the needles. The separation allows for one to keep the yarn you want to use separate and tangle free from one;s project.

Pink Hazel does have online updates and she does stock her product through some LYSs.

 

Making Magazine: I have subscribed to this for the last three years and while the knitting patterns eventually are for sale on Raverly after the issue is published, the articles and other  craft projects are really excellent. There are so many that I want to make.

Subscriptions are available directly through them or  paper copies of the published issues will be stocked in select LYSs.

 

Bookshelf: My bookshelf in the living room runnth over and this year I bit the bullet and bought a vertical shelf  form ” Design Within  Reach  when they were having their semiannual sale. Not only did it free up so much space in the living room but it gave me a easier and new way to organize my knitting, crochet and spinning library.

 

Lumio  and Mini Lumio (Not shown): So I actually had a mini one last year but it broke. Full confession these are not cheap, but I waited for a sale. I have found that both MOMA and Design Within Reach have sales on their websites that can have 20% off in addition to free shipping. What I love about these is that they are so portable and so bright. If you are sitting on the couch you don’t need to have a flat surface or area to plug it in. It is easy to decide how much  want to open the light source, they are USB rechargeable, and they are compact and look like books when they are not in use.

Di Gilpin’s yarn

Di Gilpin’s Lalland: I raved about this yarn when I returned from Scotland. There is not much more I can say. A soft versatile yarn that can do cables, lace, and colorwork. I find the yarn reasonable priced and it comes in balls and not in skeins.

I bought from Di Gilpin directly and she has a website.

 

Viola Yarns:  There have been countless times that I have commented on Emily Foden’s yarn. She is not only a genius with color but also with her bases. I very much appreciate her commitment to keeping her business model to one she feels comfortable with and her hands on approach to her customers. She has gotten more attention in recent years and her yarn can be difficult to obtain but it is worth it and when you can get some you treasure what you get.

Emily’s yarn was previously available on Etsy but has recently moved to her website,

 

Woollenflower pouches (Not shown): These tweed pouches are wonderfully made and if knitting notion bags could be considered an “heirloom” I would put these in that category. Made from tweed that might come from scraps or from older tweed garments these little pouches are strong and sturdy. I have removed most of my enamel pins I have had on my Field bags by Fringe and moved these to my Woollenflower notions pouch.

She sells direct and through some on-line retailers.

 

Rethinking goals

The new year is just around the corner, as a knitter I think of time a little differently, not the concept of time but rather the year. Fall, is the beginning of  what I like to call the “Knitter’s year”. In my mind this runs September to August, because well, it is the start of “sweater weather” season.

I got sidetracked this year and have lapsed on planning for my annual goals so I have decided to fall back to using the calendar year for 2018 ( yeah its not really thinking outside of the box). I have been thinking about goals, and all that keeps going through my head is ” I know what I should do”…. I have a real challenge with this because it’s not very “joyful”, and am procrastinating the planning of my annual projects because I don’t want to make  it the year the year of ” I should”, to me that is a guaranteed way to lose ones ” knitting mojo” I mean I don’t think I have a stockpile of “knitting mojo” but I don’t want to jeopardize what is there.   So here is what I have come up with:

  • Iilya by Michele Wang
  • Lerwick by Marie Wallin
  • A bunch of hats
  • Donner by Blue Bee Studio
  • Make and effort to push through my holiday project
  • A few rows on the granny stripe blanket

To be honest that is a crap load of knitting, I am going to take adopt the approach of a tortoise this year and just “plot along” slow and steady. I mean keeping the “mojo” going should be the number one priority, so I am just going to wait and see how things turn out in September, hopefully I will actually have at least one sweater to wear to a fiber festival.

 

 

Thankful

No joke it has been a really tough year, I cannot overstate that enough. The highs were really high and the lows were really low.  To be honest I am kind of in the middle of a low right now, but I need to hit the “pause” button because even when things have gotten crazy I realize how lucky and thankful I am for the things in my life.   There have been some years where I kind of go through the motions during Thanksgiving but  feel thankful more than ever this year. I see people in similar situations and  while things look bleak and exhasuating, I realize that there are some people who are not dealing with my same situation and would trade places in a heartbeat.

When I think about that and the fact that there are being slow improvements it makes me hopeful.  Through it all there has been knitting, spinning, photography and getting to express myself on this blog. Somedays it is enough and others its not but getting to have them in my life is a blessing. Life is a journey and if your reading this thanks for letting me share a little bit of my journey with you.

Tis the Season.. of ENABLING

Di Gilpin’s yarn

The holidays are nearly here. It has been windy of late and perfect for mulled cider, fiber crafts, scented candles, and having a fire in the fireplace.  We are also entering “guilty pleasure” season. I am going to out myself because one of my guilty pleasures are the holiday movies on the Hallmark channel. I am a little embarrassed about sharing this but maybe it is because I just celebrated another birthday I am feeling more comfortable in my own skin.

I grew up in the age of after school specials when everything could be solved quickly and with some cheesy jokes. This channel checks all of the boxes for me. It has bee a tough year for many and it is very comforting to just enjoy something where everything turns out okay.

So in the spirit of the getting ready for the holidays I thought I would share a couple of my latest finds ( I’m not sure how you can beat the holiday movies on the Hallmark channel but here it goes):

Yarn by Di Gilpin. I found this during my trip to Scotland and it was not at all what I was expecting but not only is it nice, its pre balled and I think reasonable priced for international yarn (I think a ball cost about 8 Pounds) Initially I questioned 100% Scottish lambswool becasue I know that the softness and feel can vary, but this stuff is amazingly soft and it is spun in a mill that spins cashmere. I really think this yarn can do anything and everything.

Wool Punch Rugs. I bought a kit  from  Rose Pearlman who has taught at Purl Soho and well it is so much fun. It is a good way to “zen” out. I don’t know when I will have time to actually go full throttle on, or if I am doing it correctly  but I found it to be a lot of fun  and very creative.

Embroidery and Crewel kits from Alicia Paulson. I have admired her stuff for a long time and when I saw that she was stocking the materials for her Crewel Sampler I jumped on it.

ALJ, Jubilee Collection by Isager. I got to see this at a recent retreat and this has to be one of the most beautiful and informative knitting magaizine/books I have seen in awhile. It details the patterns of Ase Lund Jensen the woman who previously owned Isager.  I have already enabled one of my friends in the midwest to buy a copy and she loves it too.

Okay… last and not least handspun yarn, whether I am spinning with it or knitting with it I just love it. A friend told me a couple years ago that there was nothing like knitting with handspun yarn and she was right. It just feels so good.

Recently finished handspun

 

 

 

 

 

I should have had this thought awhile ago…

 

My daughter holding the stash that would be used to make her sweater

Maybe it is all of the fingering weight projects I knit for my trip to Shetland but I have been neglecting the heavier weight yarns in my stash. It was kind of kismet when I had some vacation time and had to pull some project together.

As I was rummaged through the stash I came across some heavier weight yarns and just like that I am one sleeve short of completing a kids sweater. I picked out some Aran weight yarn from Orangeflower that I have been wanting to try out and I love it.  I also cast on a cowl and just like that 5 skeins of stash will make its way out of the stash bins.  It feels so good ( I mean soooo good!!!).  I am not knitting faster but the cubic space these larger weight yarns had taken up have freed up a teensy tiny bit of one of my stash bins, but I am really enjoying the instant gratification that comes with something that is Aran weight or heavier. I think I might need a month  just to focus on knitting  heavier weight handknits (This doesn’t;t really have any chance of becoming a reality because the Holidays are just around the corner).

I also managed to do some destashing at a weekend getaway recently and that felt really good as well.  While I did pick up a few random special skeins of new yarns  and I won 8 skeins of Woolfolk’s Luft, overall I think it was a reduction to my stash…

Oh wait I forgot about the box of yarn that cam for Marie Wallin’s club. Oppps!

 

 

 

Shop Update: October 22, 2017 10AM PST

A collage of the yarns that will be offered

Well… Here goes nothing. I am having a shop update this weekend at my Etsy shop. There will be a smattering of different weighted yarns such as:

  • Sport
  • DK
  • Worsted
  • Bulky

I have been making a greater effort to spin up more fiber of the same colorway. I though that this would help people be able to have more options when knitting with handspun.  I am appreciative of any interest in the shop, even if it is to just window shop.

All the best,

 

Steph

Yarn Making 101

One of the amazing things I did on my trip was visit Jaimeson in Sandness. I have never seen yarn being made…. I mean aside from hand spinning, I have bought a lot in indie dyed yarns in the past and while I have a great appreciation for their dying talents I have never considered thinking about how the wool from a sheep makes to the skein in a stash.

Family owned and operated, Jamieson  is in its 5th generation of operating. It does everything well there is one outsourced operation but you get the general idea.  It was pretty amazing to see the processes from Fleece, processing of the fleece, dying, blending, and spinning the yarn, I have new appreciation on how lengthy the process is. Here are a couple of pictures that document a few steps of the process:

Local wool arrived to be processed at Jaimesons
Dyed wool that needs to be prepped for blending
Wool getting put on cones
Yards and Yards of wool on the cone
Machine knit jumpers aka sweaters waiting to get finished