So lets dive right in... grab some snacks cause this is a long one.
Apologies in advance to any grammar sticklers out there for any typos/run-ons/incomplete thoughts... you know, the kind of stuff you expect from my blogs! Hahahaaaa Oh, lighten up, geez!
2010 was not a particularly productive year in terms of sewing. I really wanted it to be, but you know how it goes. As you might remember, I started the beginning stages of my own personal block (pattern), in hopes that eventually I would get around to making myself some clothing this year, but I ran into a few snafus regarding fit (around my bust!). I'm on draft #3, and this feels like it's the one, but this is something I'm never too sure about. Next year, I will finish the 3rd draft and if it works, I will be on my way to a new wardrobe!
Besides my own wardrobe enhancement, I'd also like to work on sewing some organizational items (read that as quick, non-commitment type projects) like storage cases for all my knitting needles and accessories that are all over the place.
This brings me to the latest (holiday) fabric stash enhancement, brought to me, courtesy of my thoughtful husband who finally got the hint after all my yearlong complaining about not having enough cute fabric to make projects from the "I Heart Patchwork" book. Complain enough, and you shall receive!
Hubster also picked me up a copy of "The Practical Guide to Patchwork" Which I LOVE!!! Looks like I can't complain now... must get busy next year on cute projects!
This is one of the projects from the "I Heart Patchwork" book that I was able to complete this year. It was part of a holiday gift swap that my knitting group has every year. I thought it would make a nice little project bag. Because the weather was funky, I was unable to get a picture of what the bag looked like out of the pouch, but just imagine a small cloth grocery bag, with striped handles, that folds up into its own pouch, and I'm sure you wouldn't be far off.
That one thing I was working on... you know, that blanket that I started at the end of '08 because it was so cold in the house? Yeah... it's still there. I got an electric blanket in the meantime. I'll get around to seaming this blanket... eventually :D Damn you seaming!!!
Some finished stacks of crocheted granny squares... ugh!
My knitting definitely took a turn for the best! The old saying is true: Practice makes perfect :)
I completed (2) pairs of fingerless gloves, (1) toy, (3) hats (which included one for myself that FITS which was made from re-purposed yarn from another hat that I didn't like) [see photo below], (1) shawl (that I managed to knit about 3 times!). I learned a new technique with each project (and a lot more patience) which was a goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year.
A successful year of hats (and a cute bunny for good measure)!
This hat was the biggest sigh of relief this year...
The dreaded "Jacques Cousteau Hat" which I knit (no exaggeration) 4x at various times throughout '09 and '10! Third time was a charm, and I proceeded to end the year out by knitting one more as a xmas gift for my dad :) Masochist, much?
Saroyan" shawl for my mom.
And yeah... there is a story here. There is always a story, right? Well... basically I knit this [damn] shawl about 3x. See a pattern here? It takes about 3x before something actually works out properly for me! Whether it's me misreading a pattern, or tripping up on a new technique, or me needing to go down a needle size or 2 because I'm not liking how an item is knitting up/loose knitting, it's always something. I don't even get mad about it anymore, it's just something that I've accepted as coming along with the territory.
Anyway... the original pattern I attempted was called the "Cedar Leaf Shawlette." The pattern I actually completed is called "Saroyan." Both patterns are the "same" in the fact that both finished shawls look almost identical once completed. The only visible difference is the way the stockinette stitch is positioned on the body of the shawl - horizontal (left-to-right) on the CL and vertical on the Saroyan. The construction is also much different on the latter. And by different, I mean easier! Easier for me, at least. ;)
The CL uses short row shaping to create a gentle curve along the body of the shawl (so it fits nice and smooth over the shoulders), and then you pick up stitches around the edge of the body and knit the leaf border onto it; the Saroyan uses increases and decreases for it's shaping and uses a series of increases and decreases to create the leaf border, but it's done in one swoop. No picking up edge stitches! I was so committed to the CL, I really didn't want the pattern to defeat me, but it did. Ugh. Lesson learned. I should have known better when I had to cast-on over 100 sts (twice, might I add) for the CL that it was going to give me heartache! I worked on the CL way too many hours. On the flipside, I finished the Saroyan in about 3 days which was about 9 hrs total (including blocking) without focus. Just picked it up while watching various tv shows (Young & the Restless, anyone?). This is a pattern I will absolutely do again. My only change would be to make the body much larger. Instead of the 10 leaves shown in the pattern, I would probably do almost twice as many (depending on how much yarn I had) so I could really wrap the shawl around like a scarf and have it really drapey. The yarn I used for this project is Malabrigo Silky Merino in the Purple Mystery colorway. Very, very pretty. The pattern ate up a skein and a touch of new skein. Wish I would've made it longer... oh well.
Another win was this fabulous specimen of Malabrigo Worsted with the color name of "VAA" or what I'd like to call "very amazingly awesome" which is a mixture of beautiful, deep teal blues/greens.
The skein went from this...
And then to this - A cute little cloche :)
You may call this determination, and it is. My husband just calls it being Kim (neurotic). I'm not neurotic, I just like to do things right, even if it takes me a few tries. This is how we get better, no? I did have to make a few minor adjustments on this hat, to fit my wild woman hair into it. I picked up a ton more stitches (I think 114 total) and then had to recalculate the decrease rows (which was a pain), but it worked out! Ok, I'm not even going to front, I had my husband figure that mess out cause I just didn't want to be bothered. I showed him the original and broke down what I wanted/didn't want and let him plug it into an Excel spreadsheet, and boom, magic! The hat is still "puffy" but not slouchy. And because I knit on US 5 needles the fabric is a lot stiffer and less drapey then it would have been if I used size 7 needles. So more warm (hopefully) and less pilling (please?). Time will tell. I will say... I have worn this hat at least 5x since I made it... so in my book that is successful!
Oh, and the bunny...
This little guy was just in time to meet it's new recipient who was born in September :) What a fun project.
Mr. Bunny. So cute :D
Next year I will have realistic knitting goals. In 2010, I really wanted to push myself, so I set high goals like "knit 4 sweaters" but the reality here is, if this was a goal I wanted to accomplish, and I actually had experience making sweaters, things would've worked out much better! But I have not made any sweaters and I have an affinity towards finer gauged yarn, retro styles that are typically done in finer gauged yarn, and hard to memorize patterns! So, I probably should've known how this resolution was going to go! You live, you learn, right? Anyway... my sweater is almost there. I was on a roll before I got caught up in holiday knitting, but more than likely, this will be something that gets finished up in the earlier part of the year, rather than the last week of the year. Luckily, I'm still in love with the pattern and the color, so I know that once it's done, I will love it and cherish it (if it fits)!
Speaking of my sweater, here's a little refresher on what it's turning out to be...
From this itty bitty thing earlier in the year...
Talk about progress ;)
It should be done by the early part of next year. This picture was taken towards the end of Summer... so my future sweater is actually a touch larger than it is in the picture above, and the color from the first photo is more true to what the yarn looks like. I'm at repeat 11 on the body out of 12, after round 12 I work on the chest decreases and then the sleeves. Final step is seaming it all up and blocking! Whoo hoo! The end is almost near! Sheesh.
BUT, since I am a planner... I will say that I'd like to do another sweater (or 2) in 2011 as well as a number of hats for myself! Sweater or two, because I already purchased the yarn and patterns months ago for said items. The sweater patterns these times are clean, simple, and on worsted weight yarn ;) Emphasis was put on "myself" because I've been knitting stuff for everyone else since I started knitting at the end of '08, and now that I'm better ;) it's time to reap the benefits of all that practice! Ok, that's my 2011 resolution. Be more selfish with my knitting!
I've spun 3 skeins so far since acquiring my new buddy Renaissance for my birthday. Well... one still needs to be plied, but I'm still counting it as I plan on having it plied this week! With each try, my spinning is looking better (thank God!!!). Talk about a relatively short learning curve. I'm not one to follow technique much, so I'm just doing what feels right, and if what I'm doing looks okay, I keep doing it. I definitely want to condition myself to work more on my technique and learn more about the wheel mechanics. My approach has always been if it looks like yarn then does it really matter what I did to achieve it? But yeah... it kind of does. The more I know, the better and more efficient I will be at producing the yarn I really want for specific projects.
aka... 3's a charm!!!
This soft, fluffy Polwarth... [above]
Became this lumpy/bumpy skein of thick and thin mess :\ Ugh!!!
This luscious, black BFL... [above]
Became this, pretty good looking skein! :D
And here is the last item that will be completed before the year is out (better hurry!).
It's already off the wheel and very well rested. Just needs to be plied.
This is merino that I purchased earlier in the year. It will be plied and is more than likely DK weight (what, are you surprised?), and will possibly be made into a shawl/neckerchief depending on how much yardage I have. If it's too much teal (is there such a thing?) then I may just mix it with something else... who knows.
Next year I want to spin the fancier (more expensive) stuff from my fiber stash which I was competely intimidated to use because I'm still a newbie at this spinning thing. I didn't want to mess my fiber up, or waste it, especially considering that a lot of the vendors tend to do one-off colorways. I'm continuing to enhance my fiber stash (love Etsy!!!) with lovely colors that I would never dream of wearing in real life... that would mean, anything that is a color. But I've realized, I'm not one for spinning with the "natural" colored stuff. I was much happier the 3rd try when I moved to teal. Spun 4 ounces while watching season 1, disc 5 of "Brothers and Sisters."
Quick side bar regarding black... I'm an all black, all day, everyday kind of person. Not goth at all, I just usually default to black. I occasionally step outside the norm and toss on a colored t-shirt (usually a dark color), but my hope is that through my hobbies, I will branch out and enjoy the rest of the color spectrum. It is working, because I actually can't stand knitting with black at all! I only really enjoy knitting (and spinning) with the vibrant, saturated colors. I will always love black. I won't use the "it's utilitarian" reason, although it is. Honestly, It's easy, always looks sleek and polished, and allows me to get dressed quickly without having to worry about matching! So anyway... what was I talking about?!
Last, least, all that good stuff. Ok... so what have a learned? In short, I've learned a lot.
I learned that there is a color I prefer almost as much as black (is it possible?!)... and that color is teal. If you are on Ravelry and you look at all my stash (fiber and yarn) that I have recently acquired, you will know exactly what I'm talking about. It may be seasonal. Around the holiday season, our palette changes, and suddenly there is an over-infiltration of jewel tones in the market place, so more than likely, I'm just vibing off this. Around this time, I also tend to like anything in rust tones... similar to the changing Fall leaves. I love these colors. During the Spring/Summer... I don't know... nevermind, maybe it's not seasonal for me :D I like jewel tones year-round, and I'm always like, why is there no copper available! Where is all the teal?! Ooh, a black t-shirt! :D
Regarding stash... I'm learning that I prefer not to use singles to knit with. Plied yarn is the way to go for me. Unfortunately, that means after I use up what I have (which is at least 15 skeins), I more than likely won't purchase anymore Malabrigo Worsted or Silky Merino. I know, I know... it gives me the sads too, but the pill factor drives me up the wall. I feel like singles just aren't as durable as I really want them to be, and I like to knit items that I know are going to wear well, considering how much time it takes to make them! BUT thank you Malabrigo for introducing your new Rios line :D Best of both worlds, worsted, plied and superwash! My next sweater will be out of this. More on that later ;)
And, last, regarding stash... I'm finally at the point where I've settled on what type of yarn I prefer to work with (DK) and that helped me significantly when I went through all my yarn bins and de-stashed. I was able to get rid of 1 large bin of yarn, and another large garbage bag of yarn that I donated to a thrift store. I vow to only buy yarn in colors I absolutely love, to knit from my stash as much as possible, but to also allow a splurge every now in then if I have a specific project in mind for it! I think that's totally reasonable.
Oh... last word...
Under each photo, I've linked each project to their respective page on my Ravelry project page. All the handspun is there too if you'd like more info on that. No links, because... yeah, I'm tired!
So... until then, I wish you all a very happy, healthy, productive new year!
The best is yet to come :)