Current Projects, Daily Life, De-Stashing yarn, Designing, Knitting, Paid Knitting Patterns, Reviews

The Circle of Yarn

img_8566

From the day we arrive at the yarn store, and blinking, step in through the wool, there’s more to knit than can ever be knit, more to spin than can ever be spun; It’s the cirrrrrrrcle of yarrrrrn, and it moves us allll…

Speaking of the circle of life, I’ve been trying to film a new episode of my video podcast for the longest time. Apparently, however, having three children makes it difficult to find an hour of quiet in which I also look presentable to be on camera. Who knew?

So, I’ve decided to update my podcast via blog. That’s not to say videos are gone forever, but at least you won’t all think i’ve disappeared into my stash, never to be seen again!

Today will just be a general progress update, but be on the lookout for future posts about fun things like trend alerts, tips & tutorials, and maybe (if I get the courage up!) even some interviews with some of my favorite indie designers!

For now, let’s talk about some designs that have been published since the last podcast, as well as what’s in store for Everyday Yarnworks.

Trust Fall

“Trust Fall” is a new sock pattern that features spiraling dropped stitches over the front of the leg, and comfy ribbing on the back of the leg and sole. It’s a fun design in which I ask you to be a little brave and trust me – let the stitches drop!

 

 

In the projects category, I decided to try my first Stephen West design when I saw the Marled Mania Cardigan .

img_8699

The colors are a bit outside of what I would normally use, but I decided on this project because I have quite a few partial or whole skeins of yarn that are either leftovers, or that I purchased from dyers with a design in mind and the design didn’t work out. These are all yarns that have been sitting in my stash for a few years (with the exception of the one all the way to the right in this photo! That was a swap skein), and I want to make sure these pretties actually get used!

My thoughts so far: The pattern lists total estimated yardage, as well as yardage if you use the recommended specialty yarn (Quing Fibres Melted Baby Suri), but because it doesn’t specify the amounts for JUST the yoke, JUST the cuffs etc, I had to re-work the yoke. I wanted it to be the plain royal blue you see below:

IMG_8215
(Yarn is Knit Picks Capretta in the Celestial colorway)

But, obviously I didn’t have enough. So I frogged the entire yoke (let me tell you, frogging a double stranded knit into two single strand balls, which is what’s happening in that photos, was almost enough to make me ditch the project altogether!) and started again with 1 strand of blue and one of a variegated indie dyed skein.

This is definitely going to be a longterm project, but it works well when I need something to knit on in the dark while I watch a movie at night. It’s basically just garter stitch with ribbing under the arms and smidge of basic shaping, so if you can knit by feel and use distinguishing stitch markers it’s a great potato chip knit.

 

More projects will come, but for now I hope you enjoyed catching up a little!

Is there anything from the podcast you miss that you’d like to see here? Drop me a comment and let me know!

 

Current Projects, Daily Life, Knitting, Paid Knitting Patterns, Reviews

When Plans Change

Dolphin for Bear

(Photo credit: Claire Garland)

If you happened to have read Yesterday’s Post, you’d have seen that I was a tad overwhelmed for choice when it came to projects! However, today is a bit different. I’d say that a good night’s sleep fixes everything, but who am I kidding? I have 3 kids under 5, with the youngest being 10 weeks old. What is this “good night’s sleep” you all keep telling me exists?

Anyway, we’ve been clearing out the house lately because we’re moving in June, and in the process of clearing the house out, there was a lot of toy-throwing-out involved (any time I say throwing out, I usually mean donated. We don’t just throw out bags and bags of useful stuff!)… and apparently we threw out one of my oldest’s favorites. Let me tell you, I never knew that kids could have such long memories when it comes to something that has been thrown out or given away! This was at least a month or two ago, and when he gets really tired or hurt, he still cries for that darn dolphin. I’ll grant you, it was massive – the size of his whole body, so it was essentially a dolphin body pillow.

As a compromise/because i’m a sucker, I’m going to knit him a small, toy sized dolphin. I searched through Ravelry, looking for a pattern that looked like I would actually want to knit it, and I found Dolphin, by Claire Garland. As it turns out, she actually has a number of really neat knitted toys. I’ve downloaded and printed the pattern, and man, this is a COOL construction! There’s barely any sewing or assembly involved, and it’s going to be a two color dolphin WITH NO COLORWORK INVOLVED! Amazing!

I highly recommend checking out her work; I’m going to throw a couple more photos down below to tempt you, and because they’re stinkin’ adorable and I love to look at them! Her website is Dot Pebbles, and can be found here.

 

Current Projects, Daily Life, Designing, Housekeeping, Knitting, Paid Knitting Patterns, Yarn & Fiber Dyeing

Concept Exhaustion

IMG_0276.jpg

I believe it’s important for small business owners to be transparent about the way running a small business really is. Now, my businesses are VERY small; I believe they’re what are called micro businesses, since i’m the sole proprieter, operator, designer, dyer.. you get the point! The above photo is a pretty good representation of my designer brain today, so buckle up!

I’ve been pushing pretty hard on the design front for a little over a year now, having been designing off and on for about 3-4 years, and let me tell you, sometimes you just hit a roadblock. My current roadblock is having too many ideas to choose from design wise, and pretty much zero time to make them happen.  (Granted, many designers would take all the ideas as a blessing, as dry spells come too; then you’re waiting around for inspiration to hit!)

I have a notebook full of ideas, a spreadsheet of at least 18 designs i’m 100% sure I want to make a reality, and more i’m not sure whether I want to pursue or not. I know designs and projects can only be worked on one at a time, but I want to pursue them all while raising 3 small children (4.5 years, 2 years, and 10 weeks). Oh, and i’m also trying to keep up with an Indie dyeing business. And clean the house and feed the people who live in it.

See what I mean?

Today, for example, I think I knit about half a row of a 100 stitch project. So maybe 50 stitches today. Do you have any idea how long a fingering weight shawl would take at that speed? I’ll grant you, today involved food shopping, a business chat with other designers, and kids who wouldn’t nap, BUT, it’s easy to focus on what isn’t getting done. (Told you guys this was partially about processing!)

So, anyway, where do you go when you’ve got a spaghetti brain, a zillion ideas, and no way to make them a reality? That’s a good question, and i’ll let you know when (if!) I find the answer.

I imagine that design-wise my plan will be to pick the design that sings to me and work on it from start to finish. Just one. I’m the queen of a zillion WIPs (I literally have 30 entered in Ravelry, and i’m sure there’s a few lurkers that I haven’t entered (or that are from my pre-Rav days, which is frightening, since I got on it when it was in beta testing). So, for me, working on one project start to finish is a challenge, but possible.

For now, it’s 11:30 pm and i’m going to go to bed.

Blog, Crochet, Current Projects, Daily Life, De-Stashing yarn, Knitting

Attack of the Stash! (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about stash acquisitions and use over the past year (2017), as well as my theories about why crafters tend to amass huge stashes of their favorite materials (for me, that’s yarn).

Today I want to talk about plans for working with the yarn I have, and will also be sharing my annual stash flash.

Typically “Flash Your Stash” happens at the beginning of April each year, but that makes absolutely no sense to me since the year starts in January. I much prefer to do a stash flash at the end of December/beginning of January, because to me it just makes more sense: new year, new stash flash, and the counter of used stash starts over again.

For those of you who are unaware, stash flashing is the process of dragging out all the yarn/fiber you own, laying it in one place, and taking a visual accounting of it. For some, it requires more than one large photo as their stashes are not able to fit into one large flat area. The location of choice seems to be one’s bed, as it is a large-ish, flat-ish surface that provides a reliable point of reference from year to year (assuming you keep the same size bed).

My stash has evolved over the years, but the largest change has been this year. Here’s a progression for you:

2014: Mostly worsted weight, commercially available yarns. There’s a tad of bulky, sport, and fingering weight thrown in there, but not much. Most of this was gifted to me from an elderly family member who was getting rid of yarn, and I had NO clue what to do with it.

2014 Stash part 1

2015: TONS more worsted weight acrylic from box stores. Most of the gifted yarn I donated, but I apparently felt the need to buy ALL. THE. YARN.

2015 Stash Flash part 12015 Stash flash part 2

2016: The trend continues. I’m only going to show you the worsted/bulky weight, because the rest of it didn’t fit on the bed, and was on shelves and in drawers.

2016 4-6

I’d like to note at this time that I obviously have a very high turnover rate. Most of the yarns in these photos change from year to year.

2017: The beginning of the sock stash, and the lessening of the heavy acrylics.

Stash jan 2017 divided

Today’s Flash: Holy cow. This is TOTALLY different from previous years! This time there’s handspun, ALL weights of yarn, and an obvious focus on light weight wools & indie dyed yarn.

Marked Stash 2018

So why the difference?

Well, I’ve only been seriously designing patterns for about 2.5 years, but I think that has a large impact on the choice of materials that i’ve been making. Because i’m designing and publishing patterns (as opposed to just knitting/crocheting as many by others as I can), it forces me to slow down and consider the choices i’m making. I have to choose the perfect yarn for each pattern – to best emphasize the stitches, the shapes, etc. I have to ask myself whether the yarn will photograph well, be desirable/available for others to buy and use, and whether I feel it best represents me as a designer and a person.

Over the course of some personal analysis, I’ve discovered that I value quality over quantity, and community over commercialism. What I mean by that is that I really enjoy supporting the independent community of pattern designers, yarn dyers, and textile artists in general. I would much rather buy from and work with a mom who’s dyeing yarn in her kitchen than from a corporation. I love to interact with other artists and makers, because I feel that a large reason why the indie dyeing/designing community is so wonderful is because of all the inter-connected support that happens within it. I get a lot of support from other makers, dyers, and designers, and this year i’ve been focusing on giving that support back.

Another reason why I have less stash right now is that I’m going to be moving in the Spring to a much smaller home. I’ll go more into that in another blog post, but we’re essentially moving to a tiny house, and I just can’t go on buying yarn all willy nilly – there won’t be space to store it, and probably isn’t space to store what I have now! That leads me to my next train of thought, which is buying and using with a purpose.

Theoretically, I have enough yarn currently in my stash to last me for about 2 years without buying more if I continue to craft at the same rate. Right now my stash is at about 43,000 yds, and for this past year I used approximately 20,000 yds in projects this year (and there were more than a few projects where I didn’t record yardage used). I feel I should also mention that these numbers do not include WIPs and yarn attached to WIPs. I deduct yardage as projects are finished, but the photo is only of full skeins. WIPs are something I will have to tackle again before we move, but right now I find them a tad overwhelming.  I’m working on 1: finishing projects that have already been started, or 2: frogging/chucking projects that (if i’m being honest) will never be completed for one reason or another.

So what’s my plan for this upcoming year? I’m not going to be unrealistic and swear that i’ll never buy yarn this year, because that’s just silly. I love yarn, I love the colors, and I love the inspiration I find from looking at it, touching it, and admiring it. I am, however, going to shoot for a drastic stash reduction. My plan is that for every new skein of yarn want to bring into the house (defined as 100 gms), I must first get rid of (or use up) 3 skeins. My hope is that this rule will help me carefully consider what i’m bringing into the house, and whether or not I REALLY want to buy the yarn.

I have to say, it’s very satisfying to see the stash total go down. Being able to look at the number from month to month and constantly seeing a lower number satisfies something in me along the lines of checking off boxes on a to-do list. It may just be yarn, but it’s still immensely satisfying to make and meet goals.

 

What are your yarn/stash resolutions for this year? Do you have any? I’d love to hear about your plans!

Current Projects, Daily Life, HPKCHC, Yarn & Fiber Dyeing

Dyeing Experiments: Two color dyeing, kettle dyeing, and gradient stovetop dyeing.

I recently have been experimenting with dyeing yarn, and posted some photos of in the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup (HPKCHC) group on Ravelry. I got asked what dyeing methods I used, so I decided to post about them here, and save everyone the gigantic forum essay (and also my posts weren’t posting correctly!)

So:

Here’s all of my finished skeins. I used 3 different methods of dyeing to create them so I’ll explain each method separately.

20150913_174001

I started with these yarns: (not super expensive, but you get a lot of yardage to play with!) 20150912_130717

I skeined them (or rolled them in a ball if I wanted to do a gradient – more on that later)
and soaked them in water with white vinegar for at least 30 minutes. I believe the ratio I used was 1/2 cup of white vinegar for every 4 oz of yarn, but I’m not 100% positive: 20150912_143807

Method for creating two color yarn: 20150913_173443 20150913_173613 20150913_173705

  • Squeeze (do not wring!!) vinegar/water soak from skein.
  • Take two quart sized mason jars and fill them about 3/4 of the way with your vinegar/water soak.
  • Add food coloring until you reach your desired colors (I used about 30 drops of McCormick food coloring per jar, but I like REALLY saturated colors, and was using 100-120 gm skeins).
  • Put yarn in water 😉
  • Put the two jars in the microwave. “Cook” on high power until you see the water start bubbling a little. Let it rest for a couple minutes. Repeat “cooking” process until the water in the mason jars is clear (basically the goal is to keep the water hot without agitating the yarn, which would cause felting).

Jars in the microwave:

20150912_162948

Remove jars from microwave, and let sit on the counter to cool down a bit.
Once the water has cooled to room temperature, remove yarn and rinse. The water should run clear. If it does not, rinse until it does. Wash the yarn gently, and rinse again.
Hang to dry!

Kettle Dyeing Method:

20150913_173637 20150913_173551

Do the same vinegar/water prep as above, including squeezing out the water.
Fill a pot part way with your vinegar/water, and add dye.
Place yarn in pot. <– this part is where you can change up how the dye is distributed. For the purply skein above, I made sure the entire skein was dunked in the dye water. 20150912_162935

For the blue one, I only partially submerged it: 20150912_163849 and then once half the dye had been absorbed, I submerged the rest of it. It gave me that lovely variation you see in the blue skein! Anyway, turn the burner on a low heat setting. Your goal is the same as with the mason jars. You want to heat the water without agitation, so a little bit of a steam or simmer is ok, but no boiling.

Once the water in the pot is clear, carefully remove the yarn and place it in a separate bowl to cool off. Once the yarn has cooled to room temperature, follow the rinsing and washing procedure as mentioned in the Two color method.

Gradient Dyeing Method:

20150913_17342420150913_173512

Wind the yarn into a ball instead of a hank before soaking. Soak it as a ball in the same solution, and squeeze out the water once it has soaked.
Fill pot on stove with water (you can use the soak water – I did, but you don’t HAVE to).

Add dye: I used about 40 drops of McCormick dye for a 100 gm ball of yarn

Turn stove burner on low heat (so the water heats up but doesn’t boil – and thus felt – the yarn). Heat water/yarn until the yarn absorbs either all the dye, or almost all the dye (when you’re happy with the outside color, you’re good to go).

Remove ball of yarn CAREFULLY. Place in empty bowl to cool down.

When you go to squeeze out/rinse the ball of yarn, be careful, because the center might still be really hot. I use kitchen tongs to grab and squeeze the first time.

Rinse and wash yarn (I use a little dish soap) and make sure the water runs clear.

Wind into a skein and hang dry (in the sun works the fastest).

Play with pretty yarn 🙂

Please keep in mind that this is just the method that I used. It may not be the “right” way, as I’ve never been trained in dyeing – I basically just do some research and make it up as I go along because I love playing with colors!

Thank you to Wbmommy on Ravelry for asking me, and prompting me to write out this post! I hope it helps someone 🙂

Current Projects, Daily Life, Gardening, Housekeeping, Spinning

I’m still here!!

So, on a completely non-knitting front, I recently got my first spinning wheel!

I took really blurry photos, so just google Ashford Kiwi 2, and you’ll see my wheel 😀

Here’s some of my first wheel spinning, though:

IMG_8601 IMG_8602

In other news, the garden is doing really well! Check out the addition of the raised bed and arch! The arch will act like a trellis for the excessive amount of acorn squash that I planted!

IMG_8605 IMG_8607 IMG_8608

Crochet, Current Projects, De-Stashing yarn, Knitting

Completed Things.

Remember how I said I finished some things??

Now I have pictures to prove it!

This pattern is a test for Tanja Luescher from Knitted in Switzerland designs.

Yarn: Paton’s Lace in the colorway Bonfire (a personal favorite! I just love the color combination!)

Yardage: 672 yds

Weight: a little over 4 ounces

Measurements: 180 cm wide, 72 cm long (that’s about 62×27″)

I couldn’t decide which photo I liked best, so I’m showing you all of them!

DPS1 DPS3 DPS5

Like the finished product? It’s available here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/229887886/luxury-medium-weight-knit-ombre-shawl-or?

Project #2: a little corner to corner blanket

Yardage: 492 yds

Yarn: I think it’s Red Heart Boutique Treasure – I LOVE the squishiness of this yarn – you don’t usually find that in an acrylic yarn. I don’t know what it is for sure, though, since it was in a mill end bag at Jo-Ann’s.

Size: 27″ Square – just a little snuggly blanket!

rainbow1 Rainbow2

Like the finished product? It’s available here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/229887607/ooak-bright-rainbow-snuggle-blanket?

Blog, Crochet, Current Projects, Daily Life, De-Stashing yarn, Housekeeping, Knitting

Progress!!

No Photos yet, but I just wanted to share my progress with you!!

This morning I frogged 8 WIPS!!! I also re-arranged my WIPs so I can see what I really have left.

So, that’s a big deal.

Also, last night I finished and blocked my first shawl ever, wove in the ends on a second shawl, a sweater, and a blanket, and i’m really excited! I’m on a roll here – I’m really enjoying finishing up projects, because I have such a super huge list of things I want to make.

It’s actually really freeing to look at a project, realize you’re really not interested, not going to make it, and to just frog it!

My de-stash is going well too. I’ve given away over 8lbs of yarn, which means I’ve probably gotten rid of over 5,000 yds.

Destash totals (I only tally yardage once a project is 100% finished, including blocking and weaving in ends):

April 2015 (so far): -1,165 yds

YTD Yards Used: -9,371

YTD Yards bought: +4,000

Net Yds: -5,371 (woo hoo!!)

Current Projects, Daily Life, Housekeeping

Flash Your Stash 2015

A few years ago a tradition of “flashing your stash” was created, and if you weren’t aware of it before, it can be a really fun way to keep track of the yarn & projects you have. It’s kind of like spring cleaning for knitting and crocheting people, especially since we seem to be prone to amassing large quantities of yarn without realizing it, because it’s just so darn pretty!

Here’s my stash flash for this year:

Sport-super bulky

WIP&Fabric

SF1

SF2

So. Obviously something needs to change. I’ve already come to that realization (see the post below about changes being made over this summer), but doing this stash flash confirmed it for me. I’ve obviously gotten into the habit of just buying yarn because it’s pretty, starting projects, and not finishing very many of them. These aren’t really character traits I want to be known for; I would rather be someone who exercises self control, and finishes what she starts. Therefore, I will be working SOLELY from what is in these pictures for the foreseeable future. There’s absolutely no rational reason why I shouldn’t use what I have and finish the projects I’ve already started. I’m really excited to show you all progress photos as these goals are achieved!!

Have you done a stash flash yet this year? What does it look like, and what did you learn from it?

Current Projects, Daily Life, Designing, Knitting, Paid Crochet Pattern, Paid Knitting Patterns, Promotions, Reviews

Indie Design Gift Along 2014

I know i’ve been bad about posting regularly on here, but there’s a good reason! I’ve been preparing for the Indie Design Gift Along on Ravelry!! <– that’s a link to the Ravelry group. You should go check it out now. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

waiting….

Ok, you’re back now, and you realize how fantastically awesome this is going to be?!

(for those of you silly people who didn’t go check it out, here’s a brief rundown)

Do you know what that means?! That means almost 300 designers are having a massive sale together! That’s 3,822 patterns that are on sale. And then, as if that weren’t enough, we get to all have a massive knit along/crochet along to make christmas gifts together!

So. Much. Happy.

Must knit All. The. Things.

*sigh* I know I won’t be able to make all the things, but guess what? I get to include my designs in the sale!! You know how I said i’ve had a good reason for being AWOL? Check out the new patterns I was getting tested and published:

BWIS KPSIS Whalecowledited_small2

These are (from left to right): Black Walnut Infinity Scarf, Karen: A Puff Stitch Infinity Scarf, and A Whale of A Cowl

(aka examples of how my photography skills have improved *facepalm*) These patterns and more will be part of the sale (that starts in just 2.5 hours, at 8 pm EST – I’m so excited!! There’s a countdown clock here, I keep looking at it!)

So, what can you expect from me through the end of the year? Interviews with designers, project photos, me squealing with joy when someone has interviewed me and I feel like the most legit designer ever, and just generally a lot of yarn-y goodness!

 

p.s – like my new logo?!