Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WIP Wednesday/Stashbusting

As I am coming up for air on The Book sample projects, I've been mulling over what to do about my large personal stash of fiber and yarn.  Realistically, I haven't had much time to knit from stash with all the contract/design work I've been doing the last two years.  (Don't get me wrong, that's great and I'm VERY grateful and happy to have that work!!)  I had been talking with a friend about it, and she had mentioned jettisoning a bunch of things in her stash she had bought that were not to her taste anymore - some bulkier yarns and some less-nice basics that she didn't see ever getting around to using.  That seemed sensible to me, but when I went through the stash, I've not really got much, if anything that fits the bill.  Most of the yarn/fiber I've stockpiled are very nice - hand-dyes, luxury blends, sweater lots - all things I would, in theory, knit up happily.

And for good or for bad, when I started going through the bins to see what I might want to get rid of, I realized my Ravelry stash list is in NO WAY up-to-date.  Not even close.  Not even close to close. Particularly in the spinning fibers department.  (And Ravelry now has a really nice fiber stash feature, so there's no reason not to take advantage of it).

So.... here's what I've decided.  I'm still obviously going to put design things at the front of the knit-this-first list.  But I'm going to:
  1. Document what I've actually got.  This will do a couple of things.  I'll be able to go through all my storage bins and if there IS anything I want to list for sale, I'll do that - or donate it to a good cause to be used.  It will also help me put all of that info into Ravelry so I can use the databases there to link up patterns and yarns/fibers.  Finally, it'll hopefully keep me honest, because instead of thinking I only had 14 skeins or so of fingering weight, the real number is (cough....much... cough) more than that.
  2. Start going through and choosing some (likely smaller) projects to use up some of my single skeins.  I've got some gorgeous handspun that I'd like to get knit up into some fun accessories for the cooler months.  I've also got some nice yarn that I know will be lovely in a project, but maybe isn't something I'd wear myself, so I've decided to commit some of the finished stash projects to the Mittens for Akkol orphanage project.  I've been a member of the group as a lurker for several years, having not had a lot of time to knit for them, but they are a very worthwhile charity group, and it makes me feel good that anything I knit will be well used and well loved by the kids.
To kick that off, I decided to start with a couple of skeins from a sock club from The Unique Sheep from 2009.  The trick here is that the original pattern called for 2 yarns to be held together, yielding a sportweight-type sock.  I don't have a full skein of either of the yarns, so I knew I'd be short to try to knit a pair of socks from just one of them.  I didn't care for the pattern that came with this yarn, so I decided on just a simple 2x2  ribbing, toe-up sock to make the most of the yardage I do have.

Here's sock #1 worked up thru the heel.  I'm going to cast on sock #2, and work to the same point, and then I'll weigh out the remaining yarn, divide it equally, and knit the legs of the socks.  Nothing fancy, nothing crazy - just some nice basic heavier-weight socks.  These can be my travel/waiting room projects for a while until they are done, since they are very portable.  Then I can decide what I want to tackle next!

Full disclaimer:  I have a metric tonnage of fiber.  It is far beyond SABLE.  Beyond vampire and members of the undead population's lifespan SABLE.  Be prepared I will be attempting to whittle that down as well, which will likely involve innumerable pics of partially filled bobbins, since I'm really slow at spinning these days!

Sunday, July 27, 2014


As you might have guessed from last Sunday's post, my birthday was this week - this weekend, actually.

Saturday was a busy day, but still very nice to celebrate.  The a.m. was taken up with a photo shoot for a few new designs that will be released early next year, and then a good friend and her family threw a little cook-out bash for me which was great fun!

Since I have also cast on for the final sample I'm working on personally for The Book, I spent some time working on my quilting projects.

I completely finished the two block 3s for the winter-themed lap quilt.  (and yes, these are on two different background fabrics - they are in two separate places on the quilt top).

I also got the first of 4 blocks pieces and appliqued for a fall themed table runner.

I've also started on the next quilt block for the winter-themed quilt, which is about 3/4s applique, and doesn't look like much yet, but I'm hoping to finish that up in the next week or so.  That will leave me 3 "commando" applique blocks, which are fairly detailed pieces, and then a pair of pieced blocks to do, plus sashings and borders.  I'm hoping for a bit more time to work on that when October and November arrive!

Friday, July 25, 2014

We Have A Winner!

And that would be you, Kimberlyn!  Lucky #19 on the random number creator.

I've contacted you on Ravelry for an address!

Thank you SO much to everyone who left a comment.  It was great fun for me to see what people thought they'd want to put on their needles.  :)

Thanks also for all the fantastic birthday wishes.  It's always fun to have those as well!

(Back to regular blogging things next week......)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Birthday Giveaway!

My birthday is coming up in the next week, and to celebrate, I've got a present to give away!

I'm gifting one lucky person a skein of my Arianrhod Sock yarn in the colorway "Avalon" (which is a pretty grey-blue) and a signed copy of my Legendary Knits, volume 2 book.

The yarn will work great with either the Arianrhod Socks in the collection, or the Valkyrie Mitts.  (Or of course, use the yarn for any other project of your choice!).

All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment here letting me know which of the patterns in the collection is your favorite.  (It'd also be really helpful if you'd leave a Ravelry ID or an email so I can contact the winner, who will be chosen by random number drawing on Friday, July 25th at 8:00 a.m. Mountain time).

Want another chance to win?  Please see my great friend, Andi's blog, as well for her giveaway this month!  (Andi is one of my totally awesome sample/test knitters who was kind enough to knit The Snow Queen jacket from this collection for me - she did a fantastic job with it!)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

From the Bookshelf: Maggie For Hire

Next up in the books I've read is Maggie for Hire.  Summer mind candy all the way!

If you are looking for Great Literature, this one isn't it, but it IS a very fun summer-type read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Maggie MacKay is an excellent monster tracker.  So good, in fact, that she almost always has a new job lined up before the first one is over:  Vampires, demons, ghouls - you name it, she can track them on Earth or across the divide into "other Earth".  Things seem normal (or as normal as you can get with the above-noted creatures traipsing thru one's life) until Maggie's father (and tracking partner) goes missing, an elf named Killian shows up with a job offer she can't turn down, and things rapidly go from bad to worse with a bunch of out-of-control vampire packs, and magical artifacts that may or may not be the key to fixing these problems.

Fun characters, a zippy plot, and some entertaining vampire and ghoul-slaying make this is a fun read if that sort of thing is up your alley.  Maggie has enough spunkiness to make you cheer for her, and enough human foibles to seem like someone you might know.   I'd vote this a great travel or poolside book for some summer reading!  (This is the first in a series featuring this main character.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

From the Bookshelf: Assassin's Apprentice

I picked up this first book in the Farseer Trilogy, Assassin's Apprentice, by Robin Hobb, mostly on the recommendation of a friend who had enjoyed this author's other books, but not really knowing much about the book itself.

I really enjoyed this one.  If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you'd probably like this one too.

The young hero, who is the illegitimate son of the heir to the throne is dumped at the gates of the castle, shuffled around, and brought up by the master of the hounds and horse.  The boy (who is known as Boy) through most of the book, has no real identity and is sort of adrift within the intrigues and politics of castle life.  He does have a Skill - he can communicate with the animals he works with - but this Skill (known as Wit) is a slippery slope, which most feel will drag the user down to the level of the animals he can speak with, so he learns to hide his power at a young age.

Boy eventually is singled out by the King, and sent to learn the skills of being an assassain, as well as being a reader of men and their plots.  Add to this pirate raiders off the coast, who perform some kind of mind-wipe of the citizens they capture, turning them into a sort of zombie group, plus the early death of the King's heir, and all kinds of infighting amongst the lesser nobles, and this turned into a book I couldn't put down.  I think I read the final half of it in a day!

Lots of fun little details and an engrossing story line.  I would heartily recommend this book.  I'm anxious to pick up the next in the series and read on with the Boy's adventures.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Weekending: July 13, 2014

I am stunned to look up and realize we are almost halfway through July already, which is more than halfway through the year.  Whoosh!  It has gone by so fast!

This was a quiet weekend for me, recuperating from a treatment on Friday, so I took advantage of my slug-like impulses and did a lot of knitting.  (I also read a lot, and I owe you several "bookshelf" posts, but will attempt to get caught up with those this week!).

Last year, D was kind enough to help me with the very long drive from here to the Kid N' Ewe festival in Boerne, Texas (near San Antonio).  He was of great help getting the booth set up and also had some non-knitter feedback which was helpful.  One of his suggestions was a simple, single-skein scarf kit good for beginner knitters, or a quick knit for more experienced folks.  I took that idea and have worked up a single-skein scarf in DK weight BFL, which is really quite fun to knit and zipped along fast enough that I finished up the sample this weekend.  That'll be slotted in to the photo shoot at the end of the month for a few other things, and we'll hope for an August release on that one.

I also plugged away on sample projects for The Book.  Right now, out of the three pieces left on my plate to knit, I have about 3/4s of one sweater done, and I just have the bands to knit up for the armholes on the lone vest.  Once those are done (and of course, patterns graded and written and put to bed satisfactorily), I just have the final women's cardigan to finish up!  My goal is to have 2 of these 3 projects completely done by the end of July, and have started the final cardigan with an eye towards the finish line on these.

And since y'all know I am not still for long, I'm getting started on the designs for the final Legendary Knits volume, which I'm hoping to complete and have released in time for the holidays this year!

I hope your weekend is wonderful in whatever way you are enjoying it!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Weekending: July 6th, 2014

I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July if you are here in the US!

D and I enjoyed our Friday and Saturday off together.  Nothing earth-shattering, but we cooked out on the grill, I made some homemade yogurt, and he went and did a competitive skeet shoot (clay targets) down near ABQ on Saturday.  I got a bunch of things taken care of on Saturday, including getting another pattern draft written, and making good progress on two more Book projects.

Despite the fact that the weather has been sort of teasing us with the promise of rain with lots of clouds most afternoons, it's been sunny and warm in the mornings, so I also got a shawl and a men's sweater blocked, which had been waiting patiently for me to do that.

Are y'all watching the Tour de France this year?  It kicked off yesterday.  I have to admit I'm a wee bit sad that I'm not participating in the Tour de Fleece this year, but spinning definitely has to take a back seat to getting all these sweater knit, so maybe next year.  (I'm really hoping the schedule is clear enough I can do Spinzilla in October tho!!).

If you missed the video about it, Harrogate residents knit up 22,000 little yellow, polka-dotted, green and white mini sweaters to use as bunting throughout the town.  Absolutely genius and completely fun.  Do read about it here.  I think you'll enjoy hearing about it and seeing the photos.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things to Do for Fourth of July

1.  Relax.  First time I've had the holiday off in eons.  We'll be hanging out around the house, sleeping in and enjoying the day!
2.  Cook out.  Perfect day to fire up the grill and make dinner on it!
3.  Make iced tea to sip on all day - nice and cool and great for summertime indoors/outdoors.
4.  Enjoy listening to some music from Boston and/or D.C. from an outdoor concert.
5.  Possibly enjoy the fireworks over Santa Fe and Taos, both of which we can see from our deck.  (Although they are calling for rain and boy we could use it, so I'm actually hoping for rain).
6.  Catch up with family on the phone.
7.  Make a few classics for the grill - like burgers - but I'm thinking also about trying a new dessert recipe since I'm so limited on things I can eat on this new diet and I really miss having something sweet occasionally.
8.  Indulge myself in some uninterrupted reading time on the porch.
9.  Treat ourselves to a few fresh veggies from the garden to spice up dinner one night.
10.  Celebrate being an American!

Tour de Fleece - Week 2

I'm pretty happy with my progress for the Tour so far this year!  I've been trying to have a goal of 15 minutes of spinning a day, o...