Working down my Queue

I am a very impulsive crafter, I adore the process of making, and nothing thrills me more than learning a new technique or skill.
Noting those key things about me you’d not be surprised to find I don’t often make doubles of anything. Once a skill is mastered, a technique learned, or a unique item created I no longer feel the need to make it again.

But this year I am crafting with purpose, as I mentioned in an older post I am trying to finish all the half forgotten projects and make room for all the ideas in my head.

I’ve done quite well with this plan and now I need to look at that pesky queue I have on Ravelry.

It seems there were things on there that took my fancy ages ago but because I am so mercurial in my patterns (when I don’t plan) my tastes and skills have changed dramatically from the time I put the patterns on the list.

So I had to do a quick clean up of what I knew I’d never work on, and then go through my collection of patterns and choose some things I actually do wish to work on.

I also assigned deadlines to each project so that I can not allow myself to be distracted by the new and shiny patterns or techniques I see. So I will be accountable and that in itself will make sure I stay on track.

Plus it will give me an excuse to use up the project planning stickers I have.


Slowly but surly I will master the appearance of being a capable and accomplished crafter, and as my best friend always used to say ‘Fake it till you make it.”

The Taco and Spinning Party

I had a birthday not too long ago, and because as any good crafter knows, a celebration isn’t a celebration without a healthy dose of crafting involved, I hosted one of my infamous Knitting Parties.

Tacos was the elected food theme for the day, so I fired up my slow cooker and made the very simple and very lovely Stupid Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken , diced some taco veg, heated some taco shells; made my Dill Salsa, and because I can’t have a Knitting Party without my Greek Dip, (though I make my own seasoning as the prepackaged one in this recipe doesn’t exist in the UK.) I made some of that as well.

My youngest son choose the cheeses for the, again required, cheese board, and then prepped the tea pot for guests to arrive.

People arrived with yarn, and projects a plenty, but what had happened organically was everyone who had a spinning wheel brought theirs as well! (People also brought awesome cakes and pavlovas as well! BONUS!)

So we set up in the biggest open space we had (in front of the food) and had a mini spinning party.

The more experienced Spinners held us baby Spinner’s by the hand as we learned to treadle, to draft, and relax our grips.

We got to try different wheels to see which style suited each of us better, (and I am now lusting after a double treadle conversion kit for my wheel), and witnessed how fantastic one of our members is for learning to spin on her warped antique double drive.

The event went down quite well as everyone at lots of food, drank much tea, and had a good gossip.

The day was a great success and I have even plyed our singles into a rather fetching bit of yarn.

Planning my crafting

Everyone is talking about cast on mania, and I am here looking at my current works in progress and wishing I had the needles spare for some casting on.

Wishing I also was able to create as fast as I think. (Making a pullover for a plus sized body in sock weight yarn is NOT a speedy knit.)

So to tide myself over I have made a very strict queue of what I am allowed to cast on and when.

See, I wasn’t kidding about the amount of WIPs I have on the go. I have 4 crocheted blankets on the go, two jumpers (sweaters to you North Americans), two pair of sock, several shawls or scarves, one hat, a quilt, and three embroidery hoops on the go.
This is not including the test knits, and machine knitting projects that are languishing in various corners of the place.

To get through these I have set myself days of the week to work on projects of a similar theme.

Mondays: Crochet Projects (CAL’s that were abandoned being first.)

Tuesdays: Quilting, I have many many hexagons to sew together. Not as many as our Anja and her Insanity Quilt, or our dear friend doing the NIBig Sock, but I have a quilt’s worth.

Wednesday: Well this is easy, we get together on Wednesdays so I bring my favourite project to hang out and chill with my gals.

Thursday: This is usually my admin day, so I don’t have much time off the computer, but during running the children to piano to drama I can do a round or 7 on a sock.

Friday: I fire up the knitting machine and continue on the charity blankets we make for the SOS Bus, of if I am finally low on charity stash, then I will pick up some hand knitting and keep going.

Saturday: Simple and fun, Saturdays are either family days of board games and movies, or I hang out with the ladies for a cheeky Saturday so I want a simple and fun project to keep me going.

Sunday: Embroidery, I’ll break out the hoop and an audiobook and pretend I’m a Regency style heroine doing some work while my paramour reads out loud to me (when in fact he is usually blowing up zombies or aliens or something in the man cave,).

So that is my week of crafting timetable, and seeing as it is Monday now, I should have my hook in hand instead of typing this.

Off I dash!

The Psychological Benefits of Knitting.

The Psychological Benefits of Knitting.

Crafting is a vital personal development tool.

What do I mean by personal development Tool?

Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations.
In this definition knitting is a skill that furthers your own quality of life.
It takes time to accomplish anything with your own hands. You need to learn the skills of creation first.

How many of us remember the struggle it took to create our first item? It was not an instant success, no matter how proud we were of it.

Then, when we had the skill to create an item of beauty and usefulness then we start into the core topic I wish to address here.

The big thing about knitting (and other crafting,) that people forget is that it requires consistency and attention, loyalty and more than a little reliability.

To create something useful and beautiful we need to stay with the project long enough to see it to completion. This requires a steadfast devotion to said project.

If you abandon the project halfway through, it will just take up space and materials and wastes the effort you put into it before.

If you leave a project, dazzled by the latest technique, or the newest supply then again your time and effort and space is wasted.

To be a good knitter/crafter you need to stay focused on the project in hand and complete it fully. Doing this also improves your focus and attention in your non-crafting life.

The psychological benefits of knitting means that your own relationships with other projects will improve, you will find yourself accomplishing more goals and being more patient with the length of time others take to complete a task.

You will garner an appreciation of handmade items and the effort it takes to create unique items. You will be less wasteful of you own resources and those of others.

You may even find you are a better companion because you have a greater empathy for your peers, as you understand the effort it requires to do anything well.

The simple mindfulness of the process in crafting can impact your entire life. By slowing down, learning a process from the simplest steps you can see beauty and revel in the accomplishments you achieve.

Instead of rushing on to the newest greatest thing, you will find yourself sitting, enjoying what you have right in front of you and being proud of what you can do.

You may find, as you keep creating, that your memory and focus improve as well.
Heather Ordover of Craftlit has created a wonderful project on http://cognitiveanchoring.com/ that discusses the psychological benefits of knitting and other crafting on memory retention.

By being loyal to a project, by learning something new, you will find yourself growing as an individual.

Stephanie Pearl-McFee wrote a great book about this topic, you can find it here on Amazon·

So while the newest pattern comes out or the pretty yarn is dyed by your favourite indie-dyer, remember the project you have already committed to.

Your time is worth while and the project you are working on is making you a better person.

  • This article contains affiliate links.

Rainbows to work

Well I am a very lucky duck.

Our very own, Belfast based, indie dyer heard my pleas for the perfect rainbow.
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Two skeins of this lovely have been given to me, (in exchange for a sum of money of course), and now I have a question.

What do I make with this delicious treat?

Livorem is a simple triangular shawl done with two colours to make the variegations POP. I would invert the rainbow for the stripes.

Nautilus is a shawl that knit from the centre outwards using yarn overs to create the unique Fibonacci inspired shape.

Talisman is designed to show off colour changes in the yarn with just enough pattern accents to keep the knitter interested but does not detract from the beauty of the yarn.

Bohemian is a simple fun knit that plays with texture and shows its influence within its name.

Help me out will you?

Planning and Knitting

We all do it,  it is one of the reasons Ravelry exists. We have a list of things we wish to make; be it for ourselves or our loved ones and that list is long.

If you are like me it is also quite complex because I NEVER knit to gauge, for anything. This means I need to adjust almost every single pattern I use.

So I am going to show you the tools I use while knitting that isn’t needles and string.

Firstly I start with what is usually considered a big profanity in our little group a gauge swatch   little square of TEST knitting.
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I cast on 10 more stitches than the gauge pattern suggests should take up 10 cm or 4 inches. I then knit in garter stitch for 5 rows, then switch to a stocking stitch with a 5 stitch garter stitch border.

I will knit as many rows as I cast on stitches, then I will switch back to garter stitch for a further 5 rows, (give or take, depends on where I’m knitting and what’s on the telly.)

Now I take me gauge swatch test knitting and count using the handy little gadget pictured above, it highlights the stitches and rows so I get a fairly accurate count.

Next comes the fun part, the math. Using what I get from the little square I take the pattern and convert it to what I need.

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My chicken scratch for all to see.

I read the pattern, channelling my inner Dumbledore, and figure out where measurements are needed. (It is usually very easy because a typical pattern will give multiple numbers for all the sizes the pattern accommodates.) I then substitute my own numbers in and transcribe them in to my knitting journal.
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My knitting journal is a simple moleskine with a grid inside, and in it I put any changes to patterns that I make, charts I need, what row I am on, and all the information a busy knitter needs to know when they pick up a pattern again after putting it down three months ago.

Grab one at Amazon*

Now, I don’t transcribe the ENTIRE pattern into my book, just my adjustments. So I usually have a printed copy of the pattern washi taped into the book. The pages get a bit beaten up and usually get thrown out when the pattern is complete. but I keep all my important stuff in the book itself.

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Now all of this can be done on Ravelry, but I make changes on the go and I like the feel of paper and pencil so this works best for me.

But this isn’t all I do.
I also use my trusty Filofax* and the inserts from the Make Your Shining Year Planner, *(or for those of you not interested in product placement, my daily diary).
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Inside this fantastic little book is where my life gets sorted, and in it I log when I start a project. I use the sweetest little planner stickers from SymposiPress, an Etsy store that does sweet watercolour stickers for your planner.

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The stickers are so fully of whimsy and so gentle I can’t help but love them. They also come with a CAST ON sticker, then an image of the object and a blank space so you can track how far you are on your project. Then an adorable little FINISHED! sticker.

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I don’t know if it something for those of us who got stickers at school to signify a job well done but the level of satisfaction when placing a FINISHED sticker in my planner is close to the satisfaction of finding that perfect rainbow. (Which I am still hunting for.)

So how do you track your knitting progress? What about changes you make to the patterns?

Do you know a great planner sticker store? Let me know.

*these links are affiliate links.

Haiku July

This may be immense
writing this entry today,
I write in Haiku.

haiku-in-japanese

July is a time
where I expand cleverness
with limited frame.

opissasnailhistory

A challenge I set
several years ago, on
social media.

Now each July I
write only in Haiku form
even in our blog.

This has created
whimsy and joy throughout my
internet contact.

New words are looked up,
sometimes my message is changed
But everyone laughs.

Five, Seven, Five, beats
are the core of a Haiku,
Try it for a day.
five-seven-five-haiku

 

Your handy guide to free patterns

If you know me long enough and love me properly I will more than likely add something for you to my Ravelry Queue.

I love Ravelry for connecting with fellow knitters and crocheters, for keeping track of how much yarn I have and even how many needles and hooks I have.

The groups are great, and if you have a keen wit and a healthy sense of the perverse come find me in the other group I use most often on Ravelry; LSG.

But enough of where I hang out, you came here for the Free stuff right?

Well, it so happens that Ravelry is also a great way of finding new indie designers, and even some commercial ones, and you have a pick of patterns you have to purchase as well as free ones.

Ravelry is so good at this that if you just went in blindly and searched for a shawl pattern you would be overwhelmed with thousands of patterns to choose from.

So, how do you narrow down your options?

I’ll tell you how I do it.

After logging in I go to the Patterns Page, by pressing the Patterns Tab.
I then look on the left sidebar to the “HOT RIGHT NOW” box, (yes I look for both knitting and crochet, I am bi-craftual), and I see the first 5 on this list.

Well that isn’t enough for my pattern loving self, I need more! So what I do is I click on the “BROWSE PATTERNS IN THIS ORDER” option which opens up a full page of patterns, with options to click on more pages!
Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 19.41.18

This is great, but wait the two of the top three are patterns you have to pay for! This isn’t the free pattern bonanza you promised me Sharon, what the ever lovin alpaca?

This is where my next secret comes in handy, look again to that handy left side bar and find the “AVAILABILITY” box. there you just check the FREE option and the page refreshes itself and you can see page after page of free popular pattern treasure trove.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 19.41.48

 

Good luck pattern hunting.

May Flowers

So, in my little corner of the crafty world it is the season of the Mystery Crochet Along or MCAL for short.

I signed up for two separate MCALS, and bought two colour packs for one. So I made the commitment to work on 3 MCALS this season.

I’m am a bit of a trier, I will admit.

But the kicker was, just as I was getting in the swing of Colour Pack A on Monday, Colour Pack B on Tuesday, and Colour Pack C on Thursday my wrists started to protest!

I am so woefully behind on my MCALs that it is more of an Mystery Crochet When You Can, or MCWYC, which isn’t fun to say.

But my new wrist braces have arrived in the post, and I am going to try to take the weekend to catch up. I’m only  3 clues behind, not very much at all.

Or so I keep telling myself.

April Colours

It’s April already! Where has the time gone?

Anyway, Spring is in the air here and after the Easter Break, having all the children underfoot, and with all the baking I’ve been doing, I decided today that I was suffering from a bit of spring fever and needed to get out of the house.

One of the joys of living on this island is that you are never more than a  40 minute drive to a coastal area.

I see the sea.

 

So I packed myself a small picnic, grabbed my current WIP, headphones, and audiobook and drove to a little spot I know of.

I then walked for a good while listening to Age of Innocence -Craftlit and noticing the fantastic pops of colour in the sand.

I, as you know, love my bright and bold colours. But today listening to a wonderful narration of a book about the subtleties of New York Society, and the constraints of said society,  with myself full of the restless nature that usually happens in Spring, I found myself drawn to this subdued colour pallet of sand, shells, and glass.

 

Look at the pretty!

 

Really, isnt this stunning?

 

A seat, but look at those dark tones!

 

The blue just steals my imagination.

 

It is almost purple it is so rich!

 

I took more than a few photos to capture the colours, and I may have lifted one or two pieces of sea glass as well.

While on my journey I did stop and  add my own pop of colour to the landscape, and I knit a few rows on the Russian slipper pattern I am trying to translate. (If my attempt is successful I will post the details on the blog.)

My knitting bag is such a good model, no divas here.

All in all I had a lovely time knitting in the spring sunshine and sea breeze.
I’m now inspired to crochet Last Dance in the Rain, a crochet along hosted by Scheepjes in the memory of one of their designers.


Aren’t the colours perfect?

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