Monday, December 31, 2012

And So Another Year Passes

It looks like I'll be ringing in the new year curled up on the couch with a box of tissues. If I even make it awake that long. This whole being sick thing is really a drag. At least I waited until after Christmas to fall apart!

Smaug: The everlasting shawl project
For a few days I didn't even have the strength to pick up my knitting. I tried. On Saturday I did exactly 1.5 rows on my shawl, and that took about 10 hours. I was so bored! Life without knitting is the pits. Yesterday I got my knit back on and today will be more of the same. Good thing too because this shawl pattern was supposed to be up the Saturday before Christmas, but last minute gift knitting popped up. The the plan was to have it done this past Saturday, but Thursday to Saturday were the worst, so obviously that didn't happen. Now I think I'm out of excuses. This Saturday it WILL get posted. Or I'm going to bury my head in the sand from shame.

Anyway, enough of that. Over the past few days that I couldn't knit I started thinking about all the things I'd learned and accomplished this year with dyeing and knitting. I started dyeing yarn in November 2011. I think I came pretty far with that venture over the past year. Taught myself a lot about color... made some terrible colorways, dyed my bathtub a horrible shade of muddy pink... Through dyeing yarn I've gotten to "meet" a lot of new people.

Fantasia
My two favorite fiber related things of 2012 were the Fantasia KAL and the Hobbit's Journey KALs. At the end of 2011 I decided that I wanted to do more knit-alongs, specifically mystery knits. My goal was to try and do two a year. Mission accomplished! KALs are a good opportunity to connect with the knitting community. They're fun, motivating, and, well, fun! I don't have much opportunity to hang out with knitters offline. I spend most of my knitting time working at home so I can concentrate on new designs. The KAL groups give me a little community to hang out with. I love seeing the old familiar names/faces along with the new folks I've never met before. The KALs will definitely continue through 2013!

To make sure you never miss the start of a new KAL you can sign up for my newsletter. I always send out a mailing when a new group is being formed.

Another thing I was reflecting on was knitting techniques I've tried in 2012. I think shawls have been the source of most my experimenting. The Rivendell shawl from A Hobbit's Journey and the Graham scarf both used a new technique for me. On these the borders are worked first and then the stitches for the main body are slowly picked up. Easy short rows.

Sweet Tea
I knit through the back loops a lot this year as well. The Knuckle Down, Sweet Tea, and Sitting in Trees mitts are all prime examples. Apparently I like this technique for fingerless mitts. Hmmm.... I hadn't noticed that before just now! Working through the back loops can be annoying. I fully admit it. It's different than the usual rhythm and changing rhythm can be a tricky business. The k1tbl isn't bad, but the p1tbl can grate on some people's nerves. I've gotten used to it and almost don't notice any more. The way the knit stitches pop off the reverse stockinette background is completely worth the little rhythmical adjustment. Don't you think? It makes the stitch look so defined.

In 2012 I became addicted to cowls. I don't like knitting scarves. I find them boring. I also don't like wearing scarves because they get in my way. Of course, I've known about cowls for as long as I've been knitting, and I even made one once, but I never really "discovered" them. This past year I designed 6 cowls. I realized they were satisfying to design, knit, and wear. Cowls are my newest knitting love. They're something I found I enjoy wearing as well. That's a big deal for me because I'm really picky with my accessories. The cowls of 2012 are: Grasshopper (I wear this one a lot!), Hobbiton (gifted this one to Sal, one of the Hobbit's Journey models), Hypnotic, Mandola (this one's a hat too!), Mudslide, and then there's Ori's cowl, which doesn't have a page on my website yet, but you can see some projects on Ravelry.

So what were your favorite knitting moments from 2012? Did you discover or rediscover a favorite technique or project? Or maybe you learned to dye or spin? Was there a knitting event that stood out? A favorite fiber related book that you scored? Share advice and links to help other folks get their 2013 discoveries going!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Knits

Last minute Christmas slippers

It's inevitable that every year I decide at the last minute to knit a few gifts for Christmas. Last minute for me isn't around Thanksgiving or Halloween. It's always within the last 5 or 6 days before the holiday. And it never seems to be just one item I try to knit. No, there's always at least two things. This year one of the last minute gifts are a pair of chunky slippers for Chris's mom. She's really hard for me to shop for, but who can resist a pair of soft, cuddly, chunky hand knit slippers, right? I cast on last night using two of my hand dyed yarns. The foot is done in Heavy Beats, which is a bulky 50/50 merino/nylon blend. The color is Emeralds, a kettle dyed green with some blue undertones. The cuff is Adagio, a 100% superwash merino. The colorway is Sweet Tea and is leftover from making the Sweet Tea mitts.

My other last minute projects shall remain unnamed as a precaution. :-)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Knitting Middle Earth

Rivendell shawl from "A Hobbit's Journey"
Remember when I announced there would be a Hobbit inspired knitting collection in the future? All the designs have nearly been released and the Hobbit KAL group on Ravelry has been knitting away each pattern is published.

My personal favorite design has been Rivendell (shown above). The color and construction both make me happy. Once all the Hobbit designs are wrapped up I think there will be another shawl constructed this way in my future. The lace border is knit first side to side. Stitches for the main body are picked up along the edge of the border, but not all at once. I feel like knitting a shawl this way makes it fly by. To me it seemed even faster than a sideways shawl and I usually feel like those are a breeze.

Lord of the Eagles
There are 2 other shawls in the Hobbit's Journey collection. Smaug is another fingering weight shawl knit using the same yarn as Rivendell (Aria). I don't have photos of this one at the moment. And then there's Lord of the Eagles. The Eagles shawl will be published this weekend. Potentially tonight if I can get any good photos, but most likely tomorrow. This one is a heavier shawl knit using Adagio aran weight yarn. I wrote the pattern in two sizes and knit the smaller one. I thought it was going to be a little smaller than it actually ended up being. I never used Adagio for a shawl before and it turns out that it's a super bouncy yarn that loves to be blocked. So I ended up with a wingspan a touch over 6 feet for the smaller size. This makes me think that if you wanted to knit the pattern on a lighter yarn you could easily follow the larger size and have a nice sized shawl. (Say fingering or sport weight on size 6 needles. Instead of aran weight on size 10.5)

I'm looking forward to seeing projects for this one on Ravelry in different colors and yarns.