Happy New Year!

Rug before felting

I rang out 2017 with a glass of prosecco and the last rows of my Kiko Mariko project.  My boys stayed awake until midnight for first time on a New Year’s Eve – they were a lot more energetic than my husband and I.  At 12:06 we were all in bed.

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My sister made all the non-knit stockings hanging here. Even the dog got one.

I spent some time on the last day and the first day of 2017/18 cutting up scraps from various vacation projects.  My sister had come over to make a lot of new stockings for us all, I finished one of the charity quilts we’ve been slowly working on, and I pieced the backing for the new living room quilt.  So a lot of pieces were piled up, waiting to be sized.  I cut my scraps into 5″ squares when they are big enough, then 4 1/2″ as a second option.  If they are too small for that, they become strips or 2 1/2″ squares.  The littlest pieces go into a small bin for future tiny scrap projects like the still unfinished blob quilt.

The new year is the time to revisit my 2017 crafting goals.  Last year on New Year’s day I’d pulled out all my yarn.  We’ve moved since then, and both my yarn and fiber stash feel more organized now, so I’m not doing that again!

I went back and reviewed my crafting goal list for 2017.  To be honest, I didn’t do that well.  New shiny things distracted me from many of the older WIPs.  I can knock off maybe four of the things on that list, and a few more that I did away with because I knew they’d never get down (J’s crochet monster for example – he’s in middle school now and would be horrified at the damage to his dignity if I gave that to him.)

My spinning really suffered in 2017.  The urge just wasn’t there unless I was with my fiber friends.  I started and finished a few quilts, but the older ones are still languishing.  I didn’t get the king size bed quilt done, I didn’t knit a whole sweater, I didn’t weave a single length of fabric.  Honestly, it was the worst craft goal achievement ever!

And yet I did do a lot.  Many cowlsPatchwork furnishings.  Some quilts, though many of them were small or smaller.

And we moved!  So a lot of my crafting energy went into creating a new home for us.  House hunting, and getting the old house in sellable condition.  Packing and unpacking.  New floors, new windows, new fireplaces, new furniture, and the list goes on and on.  So many weekends and so much energy were taken up with that, so I’m giving myself a break on the less successful goal finishing.

And, wiser now, I’m not making a long specific list of goals for 2018.  Instead, my goals are to use my stash as much as possible, be judicious with the spending for new additions to the stash, and to try to finish more projects than I start, at least until the WIP pile goes down.  I still need to document that list, just as a memory jogger, but not something to beat myself up about if I don’t accomplish it all.  It is supposed to be a fun hobby, after all.  Not a chore!

I hope you got through 2017 healthy and happy – a difficult year by many measurements – and I wish you all a terrific 2018, with as much fiber, fabric, or yarn as you can handle, happy families, and good health.

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Yak and silk and potatoes

Before I start on the fiber talk, Happy Hanukkah to those of you who celebrate it!  Bring on the latkes!

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Our dog Theo turned out to be a big fan of both latkes and suvganiyot (jelly filled donuts).  This is his first Hanukkah.

My finish this week was my Eureka cowl, made from aran weight handspun yarn.

The gray single is a 60/20/20 merino/yak/silk, and the cream is an ultra soft 50/50 yak/silk.  It was such a joy to spin!

The cowl has a unusual shape, more of a bandana than a cylinder, narrow in the back and triangular in the front.  The triangle dipping down means it will block more drafts when worn with a v-neck or a slightly unzipped coat.

I modified the pattern’s ridge rows somewhat, but the shape is just as the pattern dictated.  It still needs blocking, but I’ve tried it out and it is warm and soft.

Fireworks, family, and fingerless mittens

I hope all the Americans out there had a happy, safe Fourth.  No chair cushions were burnt on my deck this year – something I couldn’t say last year – so ours was declared a success.

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Some of the Christensen-Wiessman-Harrold-Krumms

My mom and my sister with her two oldest kids came over for a barbecue.  Inbetween the hot dogs and hamburgers we played a loud and occasional violent game of beanbag bowling.

It started small and calm with grandma and my boys on the deck.  Then grandma started cheating, someone decided that we should throw from the deck to the lawn below, nerf guns got involved, and pretty soon small children were trying to retrieve beanbags from the roof.  It is all fun until someone is kicked in the head.

Luckily, cake and fireworks put an end to the game before anyone was irrevocably injured. It is a sad fact that the fireworks at our house were safer than the beanbag game.

And of course, there was knitting.  I put a few more rows on the blooming shawl, but also managed a long overdue finish.

In 2012 I started knitting a pair of socks during a school testing period where I had to be in the library with the students but had nothing to do all day every day but sit quietly while they worked.  When the testing was done, I put the single almost finished sock away and forgot about it. A long while – years – later, I pulled it out and took it along as my camping trip project.  But with the first sock finally done, I didn’t like the fit and ripped back to turn it into a fingerless mitt.  Then it and its mate languished again, just needing thumbs, until I dug them out yesterday and took the 20 minutes they needed to be finished.

Except I still didn’t like them.  The yarn doesn’t appeal and the pooling on the finger portion really bugged me.  So, while the beanbag/nerf war raged, I left them to soak in a dye pot.  I added more navy dye than I intended, so now they are a mainly solid color, still drying out.  But they are, four+ years later, finally done.

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imageApparently a moth got to them before I did.  So they will be starting out their new life as Mom’s early morning pickleball gloves with a darn in them.  An unloved project from its earliest days.  But at least I can cross them off the WIP list!

Warm stitches

I started a new knitting project this week.

The pattern is called Drachenfels, by Melanie Berg, and it is a simple knit, increasing on one edge while decreasing on the other, creating a sideways triangle.  I just have to remember not to do the decrease every 6th row, and other than that it is pretty mindless knitting, so I can keep reading or talking or watching TV or all of those in various combinations while it grows.

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Three yarns are all really different from each other in texture and content.  The dark cone yarn is a marked two ply wool in two different browns.  The dirty white coned yarn is a raw silk, very nubby and splitty.  The golden brown is Madeline Tosh merino light, a soft luminous yarn – Tosh merino light is one of my all time favorites to knit with.

I’m trying hard to knit from my stash, both as a money saver (though I just spend it all on fabric instead, so it is net neutral in the long run) and to reduce the sheer volume of stuff in my craft storage.  These three yarns wouldn’t normally go into the same project, but it seems to be working so far.

I was a knitter long before I started quilting, and though larger blocks of time are usually given to quilting, the portability of knitting can’t be replaced.  If I sit too long without having needles in my hands my fingers get itchy.

We also got our tree up this week, so I can knit in the glow of the colorful lights, with the Hanukkiah candles also adding in their flickers.

Those are my sons, post decorating the tree, and pre-redecorating it after the cat tried to climb it and pulled the whole thing over.  Sigh for my Swarovski snowflake ornaments.   We also went with two Hanukkiahs this year as it cuts down on the candle lighting arguments.

 

Stars and mittens

I’ve made a little more progress on the nine patch wonky stars, sewing more stars and cutting more squares.

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I really need to clean the threads off my design wall!

I also got up the first holiday decoration.  We celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas, and today I put up the mitten advent calendar (is it still a calendar if it doesn’t have numbers?). About three years ago, I knit 24 little mittens out of handspun and strung them on a braided cord.  Each year I fill them with little candies and my sons pick a different mitten each day to open until Christmas Eve.

Oh, and one other decoration today – we’ve started to put up icicles and snowflakes in the school library for the winter decorations, and included this book tree/mountain that my office mate created.  We’re going to cut out little skiers and snowboarders to put on it.

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