Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The death of blogs

I've been knitting for over a decade, now.  When I first picked up sticks & string there was a budding online community it consisted primarily of the craftsy forums and a few knitting blogs.  I used to visit a ridiculous number of blogs daily checking for updates.  I started this blog in Spring 2007 because I was starting to feel guilty that I wasn't contributing to the community that had helped me so much.

Shortly after I started this blog Ravelry was born and I was an early adopter.  I still updated things here, but I duplicated everything on my Ravelry page.  I was following so many knitting blogs that I was using a subscription manager, Google Reader, to follow them.  Unfortunately, Google Reader was shut down in 2013 and that is when I officially stopped following blogs.  I tried other RSS readers for a while, but I didn't care for any of them.  To be honest, the blogs I followed were in a spiral of attrition.  Daily bloggers were becoming less frequent and many stopped blogging altogether.  Some, particularly a few wordpress blogs, were hacked and the whole thing became a hassle.

I wonder how many of those bloggers still knit with any regularity.

I do.

With the advent of Ravelry blogs ceased to be the main form of online communication for knitters.  I miss blogs sometimes because you got to read about the less glamorous side of knitting - lost DPNs, losing your mojo, or just being too darn busy to knit.  These things get buried in Ravelry amongst talk of other non-knitting subjects.  I wonder how many new knitters pick up this craft and feel like they are the only person with sloppy edges, or random pulls in their garter stitch.

In Ravelry you have to actively seek information about how long it took someone to knit a pattern (if they included that info) but if you're following someone's blog you'll watch their progress over several weeks and get a true sense of the time and work that goes into the piece.

Don't get me wrong - Ravelry is an amazing tool and a wonderful community.  It's just that sometimes, I miss blogs.

The knitting community truly is special online or offline and I am blessed to be a part of it.  I wonder what we'll look like in another 10 years.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Ravellenic Games!

The Olympics.  The very height of human passion and athleticism.  I could go on about how moving and inspiring the Olympic Games are but I don't have cable TV so they're basically inaccessible.  Sure, I can watch interviews & select individual performances.  But that kinda kills the whole competitive side of things.  I'm pretty discouraged by that.  But I've been distracting myself with knitting.

Since 2008 Olympic games the online knitting community at Ravelry has grouped together for a series of personal challenges to embrace the spirit of the games.  Each participant is to choose a project that will be a challenge.  You cast on during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics with the objective of finishing your goal before the closing ceremonies.  It is called the Ravellenic Games (which is a mashup of Ravelry and the Pan-hellenic Games).  There are over 12,000 participants this year.  Personal goals range from knitting entire afghans to finishing up that project you started 7 years ago and never finished.

Since the games are in London this year the logo has tea stains!

This is my first time participating in the Ravellenic Games.  In 2008 I was a graduate student, and in 2010 I was working ~70 hours a week.  This has been the first year when I could actually set a personal goal with any hopes of success.  But I got kinda swept up with the "challenge" part . . . so much so that I committed to knitting an entire sweater.  The Olympics are only 16 days long (plus a little extra for the night of the opening ceremonies).

I carefully selected my pattern to knit in tandem with my knitting friend, Karen.  She is also participating for the first time, but her goal is just to make good progress on her sweater; not necessarily finish it.  It's nice to be knitting the same pattern as a friend.  I always love to see how projects develop in different yarns & different colors with a variety of modifications.  We are knitting the Dark and Stormy Cardigan by Thea Coleman.

I'm using a yarn I purchased in late 2009 or early 2010.  I don't remember the month; only that it was  cold outside!  My friend Cynthia and I  were dismayed to discover that one of our favorite yarns was being discontinued (Moda Dea's Washable Wool).  So, when I found a shop that was selling the remainder of their stock at deep discounts we teamed up to meet the minimum order amount.  It's hard to buy $50 worth of yarn when it's only $1.99 per ball!  It was definitely a phone-a-friend situation.  I bought enough for 2 sweaters.  I promptly tucked it away because it was too precious.  I could never get more.  Surely no pattern would ever be worthy of the Washable Wool.  Then, as I was pondering options for my Ravellenic project I realized I had enough yarn to make 2 fabulous sweaters and I was practically afraid to use it.  So I talked myself into it.

"Good heavens, self.  It's just yarn.  If you knit something out of it & don't like you can just rip it out and knit something else!"

Sometimes I have to boss myself around to get anything done.  "Good heavens, self.  Just look at all the un-folded laundry on top of the dryer . . . "  Surely I'm not the only one who does this?

I have knit about 640 yards in 10 days.  I finished the cardigan body last night & started on the first sleeve.  It looks like I may actually finish this thing on time!

This is the back of my cardigan shot from the bottom hem.  I love how defined the cables are!  It's one of the reasons Washable Wool is one of my favorite yarns.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wooly Summer

I know it is currently 96 degrees outside, but I'm still excited about a giant pile of wool.  Particularly, my latest finished sweater.

Every October I go to SAFF in Asheville, NC.  The first few years I would go with friends as a day trip on a Saturday.  These days I make a girl's yarn weekend of it.  My big purchase of SAFF 2011 was two skeins of Yowza! from Miss Babs in the the "coventry" colorway.  I love that the massive yardage allows me to make a whole adult sweater with 1.6 skeins (929 yards) of yarn.  I have enough left over for a hat and some other small accessory.

Miss Bab's Yowza in "Coventry."  This colorway is actually kinda tricky to photograph accurately.

The pattern I chose to work with is the Acer Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.  I seriously love her style.  I keep finding patterns in new collections that catch my eye and it seems like they're always her designs.  A few of my favorite examples include Breckon, Pomme de pin, and Merryall.  Honestly, I have several more of her designs queued but I don't want to bore you with linkspam.

I cast on at SAFF and flew through the cardigan's body.  I had the entire body with button bands and collar finished in a week.  Then, I started the sleeves.  Those took me 8 months.  Why can't I commit to a sleeve?!?  Mostly I just fizzled out halfway through the first sleeve.  Then when I picked it up again I discovered that my sleeve caps were FAR too small to fit into the armscyes.  At this point I started researching what other knitters had done.  As it turns out the vast majority of knitters ignored the pattern and just picked up stitches from the armscye and shaped the sleeve cap with short row shaping.  Oh well, I already had the sleeve knit.  So, I reworked the math & designed a sleeve cap that fit (Go me!).  Next time I'll research what other knitters say about the sleeves before I start them.

I had one other factor that stalled me on this project.  I lost my buttons.  I purchased these lovely light grey ones back around January.  I remember putting them somewhere when I was tidying up my knitting before company visited, but they were never seen again.  So I went button shopping and actually found a perfect color match.  Imagine that?  I couldn't be more pleased.

This is actually the most color-accurate photo of the yarn yet.  Isn't it lovely?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Welcome to Hat City

It seems like I've knit a lot of hats in the last year.  Most of them have been cranked out in only 1 or 2 days.  Because sometimes you have a lot of slow projects on the needles and just need a little instant gratification.

About 2 years ago I knit the wildly popular o w l s sweater by Kate Davies.  I had a few balls of yarn left over, so I decided to make a quick hat for my baby sister.  Since she adores owls, I used the owl cable pattern on the hat.  Since RYC Cashsoft Chunky is a bulky yarn and I am a loose knitter I knit the hat over 60 stitches (6 repeats of the owl pattern), which was just a smidge shy of what I should have.  All the same, my sister has happily worn it for over a year now.

Is anyone else terrible about giving knitted items away and then realizing "D'oh, I forgot to take a picture for the blog/Ravelry?"  Seriously, I'm awful!  Thanks for the photo, Mom & Baby Sis!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Meet the newest stash!

Oh hi!  I'm going to be a sweater when I grow up!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Accidental Diets

Is anyone out there on a yarn diet?  I wasn't on one intentionally, but the other day as I was working on a second sleeve I realized I haven't bought yarn at all this year.  Seriously!   The last yarn I bought was in November of last year.  And that was for making Christmas presents.  Now, there are plenty of people who are currently going "Cold Sheep" and vowing not to buy yarn, but I'm not that girl.  I've been very methodical about my stash, and I *love* everything in it.  So, I've been happily knitting from my stash and I haven't wanted for anything.  

Last year I knit 5160 yards.  I'm a scientist; I like to keep records.  Don't judge.  I bought 1360 yards.  That's 3800 yards out of my stash.  That's like 4 worsted-weight sweaters (without cables)!  So naturally I've been casually "shopping around" for some new yarn that is worthy of joining my (most-fabulous) stash.  I really like knitting lace and sweaters.  I'm kinda over the whole sock thing because I rarely wear the socks I make.  I want to knit things that I USE!  So I went through my favorites on Ravelry.  I culled the herd and tagged the remaining patterns mercilessly.  (Some Ravelers use their queue to keep track of patterns the like - I use my favorites)  In this process I noticed that I am drawn to sweaters knit in light weight fabrics.  So I started shopping around less-casually for yarns in sport weight or less.  I love shaded solids, but I frequently can't justify the cost of a sweater's worth of yarn.  Nearly all of my sweater stash consists of discontinued yarn I got at deep discounts, or yarn snagged during Web's annual 40% off sale.  In short, I was having trouble finding anything that met my needs.

Until yesterday.

For those of you on a strict "cold sheep" yarn diet you may want to look away now.

I followed a little advertisement on Ravelry to a shop called Crazy 4 Dyeing.  The shop owner, Ellie, has tons of shaded solids and lots of deep jewel tones.  AND - It just so happens that she is running a Fireworks sale in honor of Independence Day and nearly all of her yarns are 50% off.  Sock yarns for $11.00/400yd skeins.  Or perhaps you would prefer 1300 yards of laceweight wool/silk for $16.  The sale lasts until July 15, so you have some time to ponder your colors!  Guys, this is some absolutely gorgeous seriously cheap yarn.  Even at full price her costs are lower than most mass-produced commercial sources.

Sometimes you see a yarn and something just hits you saying "THIS IS WHAT I SHOULD BE!" That's what happened here with  Artemis (teal, and my favorite of the Greek pantheon) and Goldenrod (well . . . the golden one).  They need to be a striped sweater.  Specifically, a raglan cardigan with a scoop neck (or maybe a V-neck).  I shamelessly stole these photos from Ellie's site.  I promise I will photograph them myself once I have them on hand.  I'm really excited to start swatching and designing.  I have a very specific idea of what I want, and so far I don't see any existing patterns that emulate it.  So I'll probably be designing this one on the fly.   

I.  Can't.  Wait.  (Except I will have to wait as I have already committed to knitting a sweater for the 2012 Ravellenic Games.  More on that later.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Images soon to follow . . .

This weekend I finished knitting a sweater.  It's the Acer Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.

I'm in the process of setting in the sleeves (the first one didn't fit in too well so I need to try it again) and stitching the buttons on.  I have Wednesday off for Independence Day, so I'll be able to get some photos of the finished project.

I also have two finished shawls to photograph!

Is anyone else out there participating in Wendy's Summer Solstice Mystery Shawl Knitalong?  I'm enjoying seeing every one else's progress in the ravelry group.  There are some really gorgeous projects coming from this pattern!  I've been working on it in an undyed sport weight alpaca I got at a fiber festival.  The stitch definition isn't fabulous since alpaca is so fluffy, but it feels heavenly!  I'm up-to-date on the clues and am eagerly awaiting the release of clue 3 tomorrow.  I'm really excited that we'll have a day off work the day after the release!