Project Beginnings

Recently, on one of my Ravelry forums, someone asked whether when selecting a project we are attracted to a finished project or we are attracted to a technique and then we learn to love the project.

While I can never see myself starting an actual full sized project, no matter how intriguing the technique, without loving the project itself, (unless it was for a gift with very specific requirements),  I often find myself exploring interesting techniques, even if I don’t love the finished project. This exploration sometimes takes the form of a small finished project. After the exploration, I either create a plan for something I love or enjoy the exploration and then move on.

As far as actual projects go, I take one of several routes to selecting a project.

Sweet Dreams Shawl for a friend

Sweet Dreams Shawl for a friend

1. The usual route is the traditional love at first sight one, I see a project I adore and I must make it. I happily hunt for a great yarn to go with the project and merrily start. Many of my finished projects are of this category. Almost every time I see a finished project for BooKnits’ Sweet Dreams, I have a desire to knit it. I have already knit two and given them away, but I also want to make one for myself (and I don’t make projects multiple times as a rule).

A sampling of some of the finished scarves.

A sampling of some of the finished scarves.

2. I discover, either through surfing the web or by playing, a new technique, stitch or idea and I explore it in samples and swatches and then I may start a project (though honestly, after doing several large samples/swatches, I may still be in love with the idea, but feel “been there, done that”). These projects are often smaller and very often are gifts in situations where I have to make many gifts for a group. For Christmas 2012, I made almost 40 scarves as gifts and many of those would fall under this category. Except for this type of gift, these projects often do not get further than the sampling/swatching phase.

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Hy Shawl

3. A fabulous yarn sparks a design idea. Then I go the route of samples and swatches (see #2). These projects tend to get finished more often. I am not sure if it is coincidence or if yarn driven projects are more motivating. One example is my Hy Shawl.

 

 

Baby Chef's Hat

Baby Chef’s Hat

4. A design idea strikes and I start the design/swatch process with a vengeance and somewhere in there I hunt for the perfect yarn, sometimes after doing a lot of the swatching in advance. These projects sometimes get finished and sometimes not. This Baby Chef’s Hat was a second reworking of the design when I found that the first hat just didn’t look enough like a chef’s hat.

There are undoubtedly other routes I take to choosing projects, but I think most of them would be subcategories or combinations of these four. Please leave a comment on how you chose your next projects, whether, knitting, or something completely different.

 

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At long last, a 2014 FO!

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January has been kind of bizarre, both in terms of life and in terms of knitting. I started the year off with several problem projects that I wanted to address and several planned projects. I have really made little progress on any of those, but have finally finished a project. This was an only vaguely planned project that somehow made it to the front of my queue.

Late last year, a number of people in my knitting group were planning a KAL (knit along) of the Juneberry shawl by Jared Flood. I ad admired the shawl for a long time, but somehow it had never reached my queue. I decided to join in and then promptly relegated the thought to the back of my head. In January, I saw everyone’s progress on the beautiful shawl and decided to launch in, even though I have a ton of projects already on the go (this is so unlike me, HA!).

I decided to use stash yarn, though I really, really wanted to go out and get beautiful, luxurious, yummy yarn to knit this with.  I pulled out what little worsted weight I had in an appropriate quantity and started knitting. One of the members of my group did a lovely i-cord edge and so I followed suit and it really added a lot to the look of the shawl. She, brilliantly, did a faux i-cord and I did a really i-cord where I slipped the stitches on every second row. This was a mistake as the sides of the shawl are not as stretchy as I prefer. I corrected this on the bottom and did two i-cord rows before starting the next row. This worked much better.

I was making great progress and was well on my way to finishing when I got sick and felt so awful that I did not knit for four days!  I slowly started back on knitting as I worked on the shawl and recovered from a nasty flu.

Now, my beautiful, thick, and warm Currantberry shawl is blocking and I get to sit for a few minutes and smile as I take in my first FO of 2014. On to other projects, including the Husband socks that may never be.  But that is another story.

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The photo at the top left is the shawl just off the needles, the bottom left is after the shawl has been soaked and spun out and the photo on the right is the shawl blocked and drying.

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Advent Adventure

For the past several years, I have admired and at the same time, thought just a bit crazy, a group of ladies that knit an advent shawl during the first 24 days of December. Gee, do these knit-wits (pun definitely intended) have nothing better to do with their December? Do they not have baking to do, homes to decorate, presents to make or buy and wrap, cooking to do, parties to go to?

Last year, during 2012, I made the 2010 shawl over several months, during the summer. I loved the result. My friend loved the result, so much so, that I gave it to her.

Advent Scarf completed in 2012

This year, I too consider myself a knit-wit, you know, one of those people. In between the baking, making and buying and wrapping of presents, the house decorating, the cleaning, the preparing of food and the parties, I too am knitting the Advent Calendar Shawl, well more of a scarf (I am making mine half width). So far, I am loving it and have been able to keep up. Stay tuned to see if that continues.

You can see my progress and detail photos of each day on my Ravelry project page. Here is a photo of the first 8 days (very quickly dry blocked). Wow, one third of the way done already!

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Random Lace

Over the last year or so, I have become interested in random lace, that is lace knitted without a planned sequence of stitches.  I have a couple of random lace projects on the go.  One, I started months ago, where I did a yo and accompanying k2tog every time any person’s name was mentioned in my audiobook version of Pride and Prejudice. While it is not actually random, it is close enough. I only got a few rows into that project when I started listening to other audiobooks, and the project got set aside.

Recently, I started a side to side, long triangle where, between the edge stitches, I randomly knit yo with paired decreases (k2tog, ssk, and cdd) with 0 to 3 knit stitches between the yos. The yos and their decreases are not necessarily beside one another.

Well over a year ago, I signed up for and watched Myra Wood’s Craftsy class, The Perfect Fit Seamless Crazy Lace Cardigan. While I learned a lot in the class and did enjoy it, I did not get what I had really wanted from it: Myra’s take on random lace that she introduced in her book Crazy Lace. That book is unfortunately out of print with no plans for a reprint. You can get copies (as you saw if you clicked on the link above), but almost all of them are over $100.00! After hmmming and hawing for all this time, I ordered the book  through Inter-Library Loans and a few days ago it arrived!

crazy lace cover

I enjoyed reading through it and learning some great new stuff. Myra goes gently for those who are new to lace or new to playing with patterns. As I am neither and one of my joys is creating lace patterns rather than just finding ones in books (though I do that too),  I thought that I could just skip most of the first parts of the book. Boy am I glad I did not!

On page 32, Myra says gives a synopsis of the various ways of increasing, focussing on the yarn over, including double and triple yos, dropped on the next row. What was new for me is that she also gives directions for opening up earlier yos by knitting into them on subsequent rows. This is a great technique.

These techniques got me thinking and I started playing with reverse yos. These (when purled through the front loop on the next row) create smaller holes than do regular yos. Alternatively, doing a regular yo on one row and then purling through the back on the next row will give the same effect.

This page is probably the most unique contribution to my lace knitting knowledge, though there are many other, very valuable tips and interesting facts about lace that I have seen elsewhere. However, I always find that these things bear repetition and it is always valuable to have them said in a different way. It is a great book and if it were more readily available at a reasonable price, I would absolutely buy it.

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Yummy things!

I have been very remiss in keeping up with this blog on many levels. One way, is that I am a guest blogger on another blog (5 Dollar Dinners by the amazing Erin Chase — the queen of frugal cooking and living) where I contribute a recipe each month. This month, I have shared a recipe for grilled pizzas, really delicious and easy!

Some of the other recipes I have shared recently are easy and yummy German Pancakes and cool and delicious Colourful Lentil Salad.

Next month, there is a recipe for a refreshing and delicious chicken wrap. Keep and eye on the 5 Dollar Dinners website for the recipe sometime in August.

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Cast-onitis relapse

I was doing so well at the beginning of the year. I cast-on a project or two and worked on it until it was done, most of the time. This is unusual behaviour for me. I am the queen of starting, not so much the queen of finishing. Recently, I have reverted to my old, bad habits. Shakes head in shame and disillusionment.

In my last post, I mentioned how I had started a bunch of new projects again. I was taking steps to cure my cast-onitis or at least diminish its symptoms. Things improved slightly for a few days and then I had a relapse. In a BIG way.

On the other hand, I have finished three projects: one a large knit fingering weight shawl I designed, one a relatively quick crocheted shawl and a quick and easy crochet scarf.

My Hy Shawl. I designed this large shawl to wrap all the way around me and sit securely on my shoulders. It is based vaguely on hydrangeas. That design was, in turn inspired by the colours of the yarn.

My Isisisis shawl, in a vibrant yarn that just jumped into my cart and followed me home.

And much of the leftover yarn from the Isisisis shawl were used for this fun scarf, ready for giving to the Snowsuit fund next fall.

I also started and finished a swatch for an online class I am taking.

Those are all the finished projects for the last week or two. Great progress, yadda, yadda. Now, the bad news. I have started a few other new projects and rekindled interest and progress on another one. I also bought some yarn. Actually, quite a bit of yarn. Four skeins of Manos Fino. This yarn was supposed to be at my local yarn store in December and I have been waiting very (im)patiently for it ever since. Now, just four months late, it is finally here! I was hoping the colours would be more brilliant, like the Manos Silk Blend colours. However, the single ply yarn is so soft and gushy that it really doesn’t matter. I also bought 2 skeins of Manos Alegria, a sock yarn of merino and polymide (nylon) available in the most gorgeous bright colourways. Some beautiful yarn in what I call “Starry Night” came home with me. It has already begun transforming itself into a shawl.

Of course, I am designing this one on the fly a bit and so am working both in this fabulous yarn and am doing my swatching/planning shawl in a lesser stash yarn. So that is sort of two new projects on the go.

I have also started a project that I have been wanting to do for a long time: random lace. At bedtime, I am listening to an audio book. On right side rows, when the narrator gets to the end of a sentence, I do a yo, k2tog and then I continue knitting until the end of the next sentence. This is a fun relaxing project that may or may not work out. no pressure, just knitting.

My swatch for the online class I am taking has renewed my interest and ability to continue on a project that I had put aside for a while, my Gingham Dreams scarf. With the new way I have learned of holding my yarn, this project is definitely easier to work on than it was and I have been inspired to take it up again.

I am still working on my socks and on my Horai, Horai shawl, though I rarely work on the Horai, Horai at all.

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A flare up of Cast-onitis

In the recent past, I have been pretty good at working steadily on projects. However, this last week my cast-onitits has flared up. In addition to the two shawls I have been working on (my Hy Shawl and my Hip Hip Horai), I cast on a pair of socks and started a crochet project.

 

The socks are for a retreat I am going to next month. The pattern is named after and designed for the Gatineau hills (where the retreat will take place). I chose this stunning colour way because we (and everyone else for miles around) often go to the Gatineau Hills in the fall to look at the changing leaves. The colours in this yarn reflect that beautifully.  

As is oh so typical for me, this is not just any crochet project, but one with stitches which not only am I not familiar with, but which I am sure human hands were not designed. The crossed double post crochets are meant to be done with the second stitch behind the first. That means that once you have done the first stitch, you go behind this stitch, enter the from the front to the back and then to the front again on the post of the previous stitch and then have to slip through to the back of the first stitch to yo, then retrace your path to complete the stitch. Yikes!  The puff stitches make me realize that I probably have never learned to crochet correctly in the first place, because my crocheting method makes it actually impossible to complete this 8 dhc puff.  Well, at least I am learning.

I chose to do a crochet shawl for its speed and because I really enjoy crocheting occasionally. So far, at this learning stage in this shawl, I am neither going quickly nor am I really enjoying it. However, once I have the method figured out, I am sure it will be a fun though challenging and probably not quick project.

Luckily, the few brain cells left in my possession, encouraged me to do a swatch before undertaking this project and so I am getting to learn the stitches on a small scale and on a swatch were mistakes really don’t matter. This swatch has extra rows and stitches so the ridge near the bottom will not be there on the finished shawl.

 

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