Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Fiber and Fabric Goals

Happy New Year! Sock #1 finished before midnight 12/31/2013; on to sock #2 in 2014. I'm also joining the Knitmore Girls in reading Outlander on my kindle.

{Join Ginny for more yarn along this week.}

I might be working on socks this week, but my brain is focused on the new year and goals for 2014! I love goals. I know so many people who can't stand them and feel intense pressure under a "deadline", but for me, goals are simply a way to keep my focus in the direction I want my year to go. For me, goals are a guideline, not a "must do", and I really like having a guide when I feel muddled.

For the last few years my goals have been mainly focused on knitting, but with adding spinning to my repertoire this year and renewing my relationship with my sewing machine, I decided to rename my goals to include all things fiber and fabric.

1. Finish 15 knits this year. It's not an upgrade from last year, but I think it's a goal I can reach. At least 2 more babies are expected in the family, and my own kids just keep growing, and then there are the new hats and mittens they want each year... I think I'll be fine with 15. :)

2. Learn to spin with more control. Right now I'm very much a beginner and can only spin my "default" yarn. Control is my spinning word of the year. I ordered some fiber recently specifically to work on spinning different diameters and to work on spinning woolen without feeling like I'm "wasting" the fiber.

3. Participate in the Ravellenic Games and in Tour de Fleece as I am able. As long as my left arm is cooperating I want to participate in these events- I love being part of a community with a larger goal like these events! The Ravellenic Games are in February and Tour de Fleece is in July. Need a team? Join Team Sasquatch, for fans of most all podcasts. I first found them through the Knitmore Girls, but anyone can join in. Now to pick a project for the Rav. Games.

4. Maybe actually write out a pattern or two this year? I'm working more and more out of my own head and it might be nice to put it out there and see if anything comes of it.

5. Make 75% of Ellie's spring/summer and fall/winter wardrobes by hand. Knitwear, sewing, whatever counts, but I want it to be by hand. The Kids Clothes Week community has really helped motivate me in my sewing, and this past KCW challenge I was able to get a little more comfortable with sewing knits. I'm hoping for the same type of progress through this year- the first KCW challenge of the year is in January and I'll be working on spring/summer type things for Elle.

6. Make more for the boys through this year, making at least 3 items for each of them. There are so many adorable girls items out there that it is all too easy for me to focus my kid-centered making on Ellie. Not this year.

What are your fiber-y goals for 2014?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Knitting in Review

YAY for the 2013 Knitting Review! I shared my fiber goals for 2013 WAAAY back in January, and
thought I'd share my 2013 Knitting Goal successes (and failures) today. Before we get started, I wanted to note that having goals in place has really helped me to reach a little farther each year, even though I don't always officially check off each goal. I'm totally okay with missing a goal for pretty much any reason but laziness. A little progress forward is better than no progress in my book!

Below I've listed my original January goals are in black, and my December comments are in blue.

1. Finish 15 Knits this year. I'm trying to be a bit conservative here. I knit a lot of baby and kid things- between my own children and the niece/nephew total expanding from 6 to at least 9 this year that is about half of my knitting. I'm making a serious point of knitting for myself this year too, though. I was pregnant or postpartum all of 2012, so I didn't knit garments considering my wonky body shape(s) for the year.

According to Ravelry, where I mostly get all of my projects entered, I finished 16 knits this year. I totally thought I'd fail this goal when I checked on my goal list in late November, but those 3 last minute Christmas hats brought me right up to the edge. I have a few more things on the needles at the moment that could potentially be cast off by tonight, but I'm going to go ahead and call this year's total at 15. I'll apologize in advance for a stretch of time in March-May that I apparently didn't photograph finished things because there are no photos on Ravelry, but I'll try to remedy that issue soon.

The 2013 Finished Knits are: 

Annis finished 1/3
Newborn Vertebrae finished 2/7

Another Vertebrae (12 mo.) finished 3/12
Little Scapulae finished 3/16
Looped Loop finished 5/15
Yearly Socks finished 6/11
Gradient Gray (Boneyard Shawl) finished 6/27
A Little Hat finished 8/14
2013 Grey/Coral Socks finished 9/8
Little Mitts finished 11/1
Wurm finished 12/4
Grey Hat finished 12/7
Lacy Julian the 4th finished 12/8
Worsted Weight Socks finished 12/20

I'm heading into 2014 with 4 knits on the needles- 1 sweater for my 8yo son, 2 pairs of socks and 1 pair of mittens that just needs thumbs to be finished. 

2. Make at least 2 cardigans for myself. The cardigan queue is ridiculously long, I would wear them constantly... just need to get at it. (I cast on the Rocky Coast Cardigan in my annual post-Christmas bout of start-itis)

I did not finish this goal, but I did make it half way with one knit cardigan for myself- the Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan. It DID take me all year to do it (hance not beginning a second cardigan) because of my stubbornness about sleeves. It truly wasn't the pattern's fault and in fact, if I had just converted to magic loop instead of sticking with the weird relationship I have with DPNs the whole thing would have been over much much sooner. Lesson learned. Maybe.

3. Refuse to feel guilty when I hardly knit for several weeks in the spring and fall. All my time and energy goes into the garden and canning at those times, so I just need to go with it. I'm still producing quite a bit, just not things to wear.

Yep... I totally did this this year, and I'm so happy for the change! Garden season was garden season and when I knit sparingly I felt pretty good about it. In fact, Tour de Fleece happening in July was *awesome* timing for my fiber needs. I spent much of June at baseball with my boys, out in the garden and at the pool, and the Tour pulled me back into fiber things at the perfect time.

4. Make the annual pair of socks. I've come to terms with the fact that I probably won't ever be the knitter that churns out a pair a month. And that's okay. I'll settle for my 1-2 pairs per year.

I made 3 pair this year, and I have 2 more on the needles! So let's talk about this change a bit- I kept looking at socks with a pattern and felt like I really needed to make those socks to be a sock knitter. And then I came to a realization that I just wanted to knit socks. I used Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's sock recipe from one of her books and I went for it, just making plain socks. Liberating! I made 2 with her recipe and a pair of worsted weight socks this past month following Susan B. Anderson's pattern and voila! 3 pairs of socks added to my knitwear.

5. Experiment with some alternate knitting styles. I'm really interested in Irish Cottage Knitting, most especially since it's still a right hand guided style. Left hand just isn't an option for me- I'm a violinist by profession and adding any more repetitive motion in that arm would just lead to injury I can't afford to sustain.

I shared yesterday about some of the pain issues I'm having lately, and how my exploration into "alternative" knitting styles is deepening as I search for a way to continue knitting without causing further damage to my left arm. Some of this will depend on the findings of my doctors I'm sure, but for now knitting is a slow an sometimes no-go project.

6. Keep adding to my cast-on/bind-off repertoire. I mentioned in my last post that I learned a few new things as called for in patterns this year, but I want to continue to learn more in this area.

This is an ever growing area for me- I have a few reference books now that are helping me expand my knowledge base, and I've enjoyed learning some new methods this year!

7. Take a few knitting/fiber classes. I'm planning to take a spinning class at a yarn shop a little ways from here and I'm checking out a few Craftsy classes as possibilities too.

I've actually had the opportunity to take 4 classes this year- they added up more quickly than I thought they might!

I took a beginning spinning class back in February where I learned how to spin with a drop spindle and at a wheel. I went home with a spindle to practice, practice, practice. In November my husband surprised me with a sample spinning class and a wheel of my own!

From Craftsy I also took Sizing Knitwear Patterns and How to Say it: Pattern Writing for Knitters. I enjoyed both classes and learned a lot. I'm mostly interested in pattern sizing for my own information- I find I need to do a lot of math to get a good fit more myself out of a custom pattern since I have a longer torso and longer arms, and because of shaping sometimes it is not as simple as "knit it longer".

I think it has been a pretty successful knit year this year. I'm working on 2014's goals at the moment, and will be able to share those soon!

Monday, December 30, 2013


{It's tradition now to start a "selfish" project on Christmas day after all the Christmas knits are complete. 2013= socks

Christmas time is always a paradox around here- fast paced and crazy just as often as it is slow and quiet. We finished most all of the out-and-about celebrating before the actual holiday, and this year I even had everything wrapped and ready to go before Christmas Eve. Blessings on the online shops who kept me a little more sane this year and helped me in being prepared well before Christmas day. Brian was the only one to go hat-less at Christmas, but I'll remedy that soon.

We took last week off of school, of course, but we are back to business today. We missed some of our hours earlier in the month for doctor and dentist, so we're using this week to catch up a bit. I've already got a bit of a curriculum bug going for next year, so some of my free time lately is going to looking at curriculum possibilities for 2014-2015. It's not even 2014 yet, and there goes my brain, thinking ahead to next year.

I'm hoping to get back to a more regular posting schedule here, but truthfully there has been very little to share. I'm not able to knit much lately due to issues with my left arm and shoulder so there's been nothing to post. After some less than satisfactory test results with my primary doctor I've been referred on to two specialists- January is essentially going to be spent in waiting rooms it seems. I'd love to say it will just be more knitting time, but I will have to wait and see if my body will cooperate on any given day. I was able to do a few inches on a sock over the past few days, but I never know if I'll wake up the next day unable to grip. Even typing is a chore as I mostly type 1 handed these days.

I'm needing to save my left hand mobility for work (since a violinist/pianist is pretty useless without her left hand), so I'm investigating some different knitting styles to see if I can make a change that will help for the long run. I currently knit english style- switching to continental is out of the question as it would rely even more on the left hand. Portuguese knitting looks promising, but there is still a lot of left handed involvement. If anyone wants to suggest a style you know of where the left hand is essentially stationary please let me know. I'm willing to try anything no matter how obscure!

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