Category Archives: knitting talk

2013 Goal Wrap-Up and 2014 Goals!

Although I’ve been knitting for several years now, I really feel that I came into my own as a knitter during 2013. I had several goals that I set for the year, and although I didn’t meet all of them, I more than met several of them and for the first time I worked on projects all year long, not just during the colder months.

Here are a few stats that I pulled off of my Ravelry projects page:

Total number of projects completed in 2013 = 31 (out of 85 total projects)

Types of projects included shawls (5), hats (5), sweaters (3), socks (7 pair), toys (3 types), coffee cozies (3), mitts (1), infinity scarves (2), facecloths (1 type), and one poncho.

And here were my goals for 2013, with the results of how I did on each of them…

1) Knit a minimum of one pair of socks each month. I think this is manageable – and I love knitting socks. I also want to learn new patterns and techniques, including trying toe-up socks and some other types of heel construction (such as an afterthought heel).

Nope, didn’t meet this one – I knit 7 pairs of socks, not 12. But I did learn afterthought heels and tried a few new sock patterns. I learned that plain vanilla socks go pretty quickly but patterned ones do not. I still want to learn new techniques for 2014 and keep knitting plenty of socks.

2) Knit a Fair Isle project. I had a lot of fun with the KnitFreedom video e-book course and the felted bag project, so now I want to go on and try a non-felted project to see how well I can manage the tension and different colors. I’m thinking maybe a hat or mittens would be a good first project.

I did put a few color work projects in my queue, but never got started on any of them. Definitely will keep this as a goal for 2014.

3) Knit a sweater. I successfully knit two shrugs a couple of years ago but have never tried an actual sweater. I’ve got yarn and a pattern for a simple kid-sized one that I’d like to work on this winter – although it realistically might not be finished in time to wear until next fall. We’ll see.

Success! I not only knit one sweater, but I knit three of them in a variety of styles. One cardigan and two pullovers – one short-sleeved, and one with long sleeves and pockets. They were all knit top-down in one piece – I don’t know if I’ll branch out and try a seamed sweater or not. I do want to make more sweaters in general this year though.

4) Knit a shawl. I see so many beautiful projects and patterns on Ravelry on in the podcasts that I watch – I’m a bit daunted by the idea of charts, but love the challenge of lace knitting. Going along with this one is…

Another successful goal – I knit five shawls in 2013, which is crazy! I do really like knitting shawls, but don’t have a ton of use for the finished ones, other than to wear them as scarves in the winter. There are so many beautiful patterns out there though – I’m sure I’ll be knitting more of them. I would love to try a circular shawl at some point and also to try adding beads.

5) Get comfortable knitting from charts.

I think I met this goal too – after knitting several shawls from charts this year, I don’t feel intimidated by charts the way I used to be.

6) Last but not least – my goal is to blog here a lot more regularly than I did in 2012 about my knitting journey, my projects and everything I learn along the way.

Not really sure if I met this one or not – but definitely a goal to keep for this next year. :)

So with all of that in mind, here are my knitting goals for 2014:

  1. Knit at least 10 pairs of socks, at least one of which will be toe-up. Learn different heel methods, including the fish lips kiss and crystal heels.
  2. Knit at least 5 sweaters (including at least 2 for me).
  3. Knit a circular shawl.
  4. Knit a Fair Isle project.
  5. Knit at least 5 hats to donate to pediatric cancer patients. After seeing everything my daughter went through this year, I’ve thought about ways that I can help other kids. I can’t really donate money or time right now, but my knitting skills are something I can donate. Hannah has not needed chemotherapy (thank goodness), but so many other kids do, and knitting cute or stylish hats for them to wear is something I really want to do this year.
  6. Keep knitting teacher gifts for end-of-year and the holidays, and find more good teacher gift patterns to use so as to not knit the same pattern more than once.
  7. Knit a baby blanket and/or sweater for our neighbor’s daughter-in-law.
  8. Get better at blocking finished knitwear. Block my finished Burning Branch shawl and Autumn Fern Mobius scarf.

These aren’t technique or project related (or even specifically knitting) but they are fiber-ish so am also including:

  1. Attend at least one knitting event or fiber festival in 2014, as budget allows.
  2. Purchase a drop spindle and learn to spin using it.
  3. Find and join a knitting group to get to know other local knitters.
  4. Make some knitting friends, both on and offline.

Happy 2014! What are your knitting goals?

Nifty knitting things

When it comes to supplies, knitting has its fair share of stuff to stock up on. Needles and yarn, of course. A pair or two of scissors of some sort too. But then there are lots of things that you don’t necessarily have to have, but which can make knitting a lot easier – like stitch markers. And stitch holders. And counters. And something to keep your yarn stash and needles. Not to mention your works-in-progress. And then there are patterns – books, leaflets, downloads or however else you buy them. Knitting can be a fairly frugal hobby – you can buy inexpensive yarns and needles that work perfectly well, and there are plenty of free patterns to be had online. But it is nice to be able to splurge a little bit if you can.

I don’t buy a lot – nothing fancy or terribly expensive, although I do have to admit a weakness for Addi Turbo needles, because I love the slick metal needles and smooth joins. But I’ve discovered a few less expensive options that work almost just as well – the last pair I bought was from KnitPicks (the needles I’m currently using on my daughter’s socks), and I’ve heard of some others which I’d like to try someday, like Hiya Hiya or Kollage’s square needles.

I hadn’t originally thought much about stitch markers – I have a cheap package of them that I’d bought way back when I first started knitting but hadn’t really used much, mainly because I hadn’t needed to. Yet. On the smock top that I started recently, there’s a series of decrease rows. You don’t have to have stitch markers for them, but as I’m finding out – it makes it a lot easier if you do. And I also realized that the cheap ones I had don’t work very well because they’re made of thick plastic and it’s hard to knit over or around them.  So I went shopping on Etsy.

Oh my goodness, there are some beautiful things to be had on Etsy.com – and the best part is that they’re all handmade so you’re supporting other crafters and artisans. And prices can be really good too – I found a set of beautiful little stitch markers for only a few dollars. Not only do they work much better, with thin loops to go around the needles, but they make my project look prettier while I’m working on them. :)

StitchMarkers 003StitchMarkers 002

Speaking of Etsy, it’s also where I found my favorite knitting bag a while back – the shop is called KnittingsMyBag, and she makes knitting bags and needle cases that are sturdy, have lots of pockets to hold stuff and I love many of the fabrics she uses. My bag has held up extremely well for 1-1/2 years now and I wish I’d bought a matching one in a larger size when she had it available, because while this one is perfect to take along places and hold small projects, I’d love to have one to keep larger ones in too. I do have matching dpn case and little notions pocket that came with my bag though and love them as well.

KnittingBag

Up until now, I hadn’t had any good way to store circular needles, but this past weekend I visited a new yarn shop (new to me anyway) while in Holland, MI for a conference. It was a really cute shop and I could have spent much more time (and $) in there than I did, but I did find one thing that I splurged a little bit on with a gift card I’d won a few weeks ago. It’s a circular needle case from Offhand Designs and it holds a ton of circulars! Plus it’s got some dpn storage as well as a zippered pocket for notions and such. Perfect!

CircularCase

Don’t even get me started on yarn… And that’s the subject of a whole other post. I don’t have a huge stash – but that’s only due to financial and space restrictions. I love browsing through craft and yarn stores to see the different fibers and shades. And then trying to find the right project to match a specific yarn (or vice versa) – it’s one of the most fun parts of the craft.

I don’t have a stitch counter – and I’ll post more about why not and what I use instead in the future. I do have a small collection of pattern books – but I get most of my patterns from Ravelry or other online sources if I can. Having said that, I spent an hour at the bookstore a few weeks ago browsing through pattern books and looking for inspiration for a project and thoroughly enjoying myself.

There’s a lot more that can be said about the things that you use to knit and crochet with – and I’m sure I’ll get more into that in the future. It’s fun to be able to splurge a little every now and then – but also nice to not have to if you can’t. And to know that you’re making something useful as well in the end.  :)

Watch for my review of the new Sheep(ish) yarn from Caron coming up on May 28th!

My knitting and crochet time – 2KCBWDAY7

SundayAfternoonMy typical crafting time… I’m not sure I really have one, actually. I try to carry my knitting bag with me when I’m out and about, just in case I have a few minutes here or there to pull out my current project. In fact I have a difficult time leaving home without it – which is the same way that I used to be with books, back when I read during every spare minute (before kids). Whether sitting at the McDonalds play area while the kids run off some energy, or waiting for my daughter during her weekly cheerleading practice, I manage to squeeze in some knitting time whenever I can.

But when I’m at home, I usually end up knitting during the hour or so that the girls are getting ready for bed. They don’t need our help for any of that anymore, so I can take the hour to sit and relax – and knit. Sometimes I’ll go several days without any knitting time, or sometimes I’ll find more time than I’d planned – it really depends on the day. Back during football season, I’d discovered that Sunday afternoons were a great time to knit – listening to my favorite podcasts with my earbuds in, while my husband was glued to the game and the kids played on their own. Somehow those lazy Sunday afternoons haven’t been happening like that lately.

I think the most structured knitting time that I usually get is on Wednesday nights. The girls and I head to church for the weekly dinner and classes. The girls have children’s choir and then head to their classes. I help out in the kitchen after dinner – and then head to my ‘class’, which is called ‘Purls of Wisdom’ and is a knitting group, where we discuss everything from what everyone’s working on to what’s going on in our lives. At the end we take prayer requests and do a group prayer. I really enjoy the chance to ask questions, help others, share thoughts and projects and have at least one hour a week where I know I don’t have to scrape together time to knit.

Last Wednesday was my last knitting group for a while though – my middle daughter starts soccer practices tonight – Wednesdays, for the next 7 weeks. But, as long as the weather permits, I’ll be sitting on the sidelines with knitting needles in hand. Knitting along with the group in spirit, if not in person. :)

Knitting in Public

I really don’t think twice about taking my knitting with me just about anywhere that I go. And sometimes I do even actually have the time to pull it out and work for a little while. Usually while the kids are busy playing somewhere, like the mall or the library…

It is interesting though to see how people react when they see me knitting. Some just make eye contact and smile, some completely ignore me altogether, and others probably don’t even notice or think twice. But oftentimes there’s someone who will come up and (sometimes shyly) ask me what I’m making. I always like that – talking about knitting is almost as much fun as actually working with the needles. And I’m always interested to hear if they’re fellow knitters (or crocheters) or not.

On the flip side, I love seeing other people knitting when I’m out in public too. And it makes things so much easier to get started when you’re looking for a good way to approach somebody too. It’s simpler to say “oh, what’s that you’re making?” than come up with a whole topic of conversation out of nowhere.

I just wish I were better at taking the conversation beyond knitting on these occasions… I’m a huge introvert and once you get past the “oh what are you making?” small talk, I’m usually at a loss for where to go next. :(

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken my knitting along to my middle daughter’s soccer practices. It’s a 1-1/2 hour, very long time to sit without anything to do otherwise, and was probably one big reason why I was able to finish the second Snookie last week. Tonight, I took the sock and worked away for a good while. And got into a really good conversation with another mom who also knits a little bit here and there. She’d never seen anyone knitting on dpns before so was very curious what that was all about.

For someone who’s shy, knitting in public (KIP) can be a good ice breaker – or a way to avoid awkward conversations if you want to be left alone for a while. For an extrovert, I would imagine that KIP is a good way to start conversations when you want to as well.

If you’re a knitter (or crocheter), do you take your work along when you’re out in public? Do you have good conversations or meet interesting people when you knit?