Since we finally got our Christmas tree put away and my fortieth birthday has come and gone, I thought I’d take a minute (Who am I kidding? It took for-freaking-ever to gather all of these photos and links) to consider the lessons I’ve learned in this last year of crafting and where I would like the next year to take me.
Lesson #1 …Block your swatch… I hear this phrase to the tune of Volga Boatmen as I work the swatch or else later when I’m full of regret that I did not work the swatch. Every…single… time. Go ahead and click that link, if no other. If you’re a knitter you will totally get it. I think I have finally gotten the message. I think. Knickerbocker Tee was a prime of example of re-knitting just because I got lazy with gauge.
#2 Knit superwash to fit as-is if machine drying, or else knit it micro-mini to hand wash and block.
So, yeah, lots of re-knitting happening this year. Sometimes it can’t be helped because getting things right is important. But I also acknowledged the flip side of that:
#3 Sometimes enjoying your craft is more important than getting it right. So if I have to slightly change an element of a design to keep from re-knitting it a million times, I’ll do it to preserve the initial inspiration and creative joy the project holds.
That was the case with both Ravello and Sothern. With Sothern I gave up on a more gathered shoulder and did what I was able to do to enjoy it right away. With Ravello, I ran out of MC yarn and had to do a couple of contrast stripes at the bottom. It doesn’t look bad, but I wouldn’t have done it were it not a necessity. By the way, I haven’t posted FO photos yet because I have since decided to lengthen the sleeves from three quarter and am waiting on yarn.
Tweaking like that is easy and makes me feel extra clever on a day where my only accomplishment might be making polka dots on a hat, which is what I did to the Elora toque and by adding contrast pockets to Inland. It’s just an added shot of color, nothing ingenious; but look how much fun it is.
#4 So I say, if it makes you feel good, tweak away! These little embellishments are the perfect way to use up old scraps and stash.
#5 I’ve been trying to use up my scraps while they’re fresh off the needles. Otherwise, I’ll squirrel them away in some little nook where they get lost and multiply, and I’ll buy more yarn in the same color, unnecessarily. So, when I finished my daughter’s Arbutus, I immediately cast on for the Mine All Mine boot cuffs. I ended up using two different scrap colors for them. In the coming year, I’d like to use project leftovers immediately for an ongoing pompom garland and keep swatches for a swatch blanket.
I also realized that I go through cycles of being very practical and stockinette-ish, then leaning toward projects that pile on the skills. I think it’s because…
#6 Every once in a while you just need to show off. And that’s exactly what I do every time I wear Henri, Sothern, or Nachtfalter. Yep, I wear two and three hand knits at a time. Picture a sweater with a cardigan and three cowls. I saunter through a room more slowly, turning this way and that. I adjust my sleeves, lifting my arms right in people’s faces, “Whew! These hand knits sweaters suuuure get hot…” And that’s in July.
#7 Showing off with fancy knitting skills must then be followed by something bulky or stockinette. Okay, maybe not immediately, but I find I need to unwind after a particularly taxing challenge. Liwen and Agnes provided just the mental break I needed after cables and lace.
Nachtfalter wasn’t just a fancier knit to me, it was also part of my embracing my climate. I know I said I wear three knits at a time, but truthfully, I barely wore any winter knits last year because we had a nonexistent winter. All the wearing was happening in my mind.
#8 I did find I really like knitting for summer. I had only done a couple of warm weather projects before this year. After the Lady Bats, Harnett tank, Just Campy, Downton Cardigan, Belleville Shawl in cotton, and On the Beach headband, I am a complete convert. This is a step in the right direction for a southerner in denial. Next up: Reef Knot, Riverine, a shrunken Meeting Point, and a certain beach cover up I saw a preview of.
#9 Making multiple knits from a collection is pretty gratifying. You can see that this summer I knit several from the Holla Knits Summer collection. If I complete El Matador, Julep Jacket, and Meeting Point , as I plan, for their upcoming knitalong, I will have knit all of them. For some reason this pleases the OCD in me. I knit up two Markham Collars along with Belleville and Elora from Good Night, Day’s knitting books. This year I would like to knit up the Kingston sweater from the same collection. I actually have enough yarn to knit the other Island patterns that go along with Arbutus. In the same obsessive fashion, I am two knits into Journey and have yarn for two more.
#10 Make unexpected stuff. Like a Leia head, or knit shorts, or a Jayne hat. Next up: leggings and, if I go to the Austin comic con, an Ood Snood. Oh, and I finally received Doomsday Knits! Can you imagine Fallout with the gas mask?
#11 Block it like Stretch Armstrong. This has saved me from re-knitting and endless yarn rush orders. It’s simple- I soak the knit then yank on the hem for all it’s worth. It gave me a couple of inches on Inland, an inch on Il Grande Favorito, and an inch and half on Ravello. Magic.
#12 Save the swank for accessories. I cannot knit an entire sweater in Madelinetosh, but I can wear one in Wool of the Andes with Madtosh arm warmers. This year I invested in a little Blue Sky Alpacas for one of my Markham Collars, Madtosh for the Downton Cardi and Downton Cowl, and a skein of Indy Hayden from Red Comb Vintage for a Dreiecke. I also scooped up some of Laura’s discontinued Gynx Organic Merino in several yet-to-be-used color ways. I did, however, have enough of one to actually knit a whole sweater.
Half of my classiest yarns were won in giveaways. People it pays to be obsessive. They are so beautiful, but I’ve waited entirely too long to use them. So, this year: I’m using all of my indie dyer yarn. I want to knit an Elder Tree Shawl with my Duck Duck Wool, an Eastwood Cardigan with a massive skein from Dirty Water Dyeworks, and a yet-to-be decided shawl pattern with Jill Draper‘s Esopus. It will be year of the shawl! I’m also anxious to use the rest of my Gynx haul on Strathcona, Grey Gardens, and Possessed Printer Mitts
Accessories also make good gifts. This reminds me,
#13 I always say I won’t knit gifts, but I always do. I may as well plan a few in advance this year.
The only thing that convinced me to even try the Hermione socks was the Kollabora Sockalong. In participating in all of these “Alongs” I’ve come to realize something:
#15 I like theme knitting. That is, I like watching Downton Abbey when I knit a Downton sweater or back-to-back episodes of Firefly when I knit matching Jayne hats. I re-watched all the David Tennant episodes of Dr. Who when I was knitting Blink. The BBT KAL was the perfect excuse to watch marathons of The Big Bang while knitting up my Bernadette Cardigan and Penny Vest. Some women throw themed parties and wear Christmas sweaters, I do this.
So, you see, unlike my long-winded post, my craft goals for the upcoming year are very modest:
use stash (duh),
keep ongoing projects to use up leftovers,
Year of the Shawl!,
Year of Indie Dyers!
more theme knitting, even if it’s all by myself,
try to finish some entire collections I’ve been loving,
and I’d like to design a few things I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while and no one has released such a pattern so…
My only other crafty goal was to change my blog header, which I sort of did accidentally the other day. And this time it only took me an hour instead of the usual day long search for the snippet of code I used the last time only to find out blogger made it much easier a few years ago, and then I remember that I’d searched all day the year before only to realize it was now very simple. I do that same thing year after year. Sigh.