Summer 2014 Bucket List

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day #4: Where are they now?

Today we are looking back on projects from the past to see how they've held up over the years. 

I've been thinking about this topic all day and having a hard time coming up with something to write about. I've knitted a lot of things over the years but couldn't really think of anything in particular I wanted to write about. I looked back to the knitting I did when I first started out, which was late in 2004.

When my sister was pregnant with her first in 2005 I decided to knit her a baby blanket. I went to Wal-Mart (I know right?) and picked out some Bernat Harmony in a sage green colour. I didn't know much about yarn then but figured I needed something washable. Harmony isn't listed on Bernat's website anymore, but there are some pictures of other people's stashes on Flickr. As you can see from those photos it is a somewhat textured yarn. I worked on the baby blanket on the bus and while at work (I worked in a call centre at the time and we could knit between calls). 

When the blanket was finished I thought it was really ugly and felt embarrassed to give it to my sister. So off I went to Lewiscraft, a now defunct craft store, and bought 4 balls of a Bernat worsted weight acrylic in pale yellow. I had probably less than a week at this point to start and finish another blanket before the baby shower on Easter Sunday. I worked, worked, worked on that blanket right up until the last  minute. I thought I was going to run out of yarn but I just made it. I gave it to my sister at the baby shower and she seemed really happy about it. I ended up giving her the other blanket too, even though I thought it was ugly. 

Gracie's Baby Blanket #1
The second baby blanket I knit that year

My sister gave birth to a baby girl in April of that year and over the years I wondered if she had used the blankets. I never saw them around when my niece was just a baby. Well a few years ago I was staying at my sister's house for a few days over the summer and we were sitting outside. My niece was 4 years old and out she comes from the house with the ugly green blanket! I couldn't believe it but apparently that was her favourite "blankie" and she did lug it around the house all the time. In that moment I felt really proud that my niece chose the ugly blanket to be her favourite. My sister tells me both blankets are still around. My niece uses them with her dolls or my sister covers up my nephew when he's cold.

I know now that there are other options for knitting baby blankets aside from just acrylic. I'm not going to knock others for using it, as it is very washable. However there are also lots of good cottons and superwash wools to chose from, as well as some really nice blend yarns.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day #3: Tidy mind, tidy stitches.

Today's topic is on how we keep our yarn and associated items organized.

For Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 3

My yarn, tools, and patterns are organized fairly simply. I long for the day when I have an actual craft room or even a spare bedroom so I can keep everything in a place that is not my own bedroom.

All of my yarn is in 3 plastic storage bins. Two of those are under the bed bins, but they don't actually fit under my bed (they did in my last apartment). See I have carpeting and the bed frame sinks into the carpet, making it a tight squeeze to get the bins under. I can do it but it takes a lot of shoving and pushing, and then they are really hard to get out again. So for now they are just on the floor, up against a wall in my bedroom. The other bin can fit up in my closet but it just sits on top of the other bins for easier access. 

For Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 3
Yarn in my messy bedroom.
The yarn is sort of organized by weight, but I had so many skeins around everywhere that I had to shove the yarn in whatever bin it would fit. One bin has mostly lighter weight yarns, the other has the heavier yarns, and the other bin has the overflow and all the yarn leftovers. The tote bags have some more yarn, spinning fibre, and finished items that need to be blocked. Basically those bags hold stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else.

Anything I'm currently working on sits in a tote bag from the liquor store, and it's beside the couch. There's also a magazine basket bin thing that I put projects in, and that also holds tools that are too big for my "toolbox" (things like sock blockers, ball winder). 

For Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 3
Liquor store tote bag with a broken handle.
My "toolbox" is a sewing box I got for Christmas one year (thanks mom!). I have a sewing machine, but I don't use it, so I started using the box for all my knitting tools. It also sits by the couch in the living room and it's great. I like that it has a magnetic clasp so the cats stay out out if. 

For Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 3
Knitting toolbox.
I don't have a lot of pattern books or magazines, but they are on a tall bookshelf in the living room also. The knitting books don't even take up a whole shelf. Any patterns I print off are in a big zippered 5-Star binder I've had since high school, organized by category. That binder is getting full so one day I will have to expand. 

For Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 3
Small collection of craft books.
Of course like many others I use Ravelry to it's fullest to help me organize everything a little better. It's the best thing ever! As well as Flickr to store my photos and a folder system on my Macbook for each year which contains a folder named Knitting for that year's projects. 

For Knitting and Crochet Blog Week Day 3
My ravelry profile page. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day #2: Skill + 1UP.

Today I'm going to look back on my last year of projects and see how much my skill level has changed. Honestly? I don't think I've improved a whole lot over the past year. I like to knit a variety of projects but I feel like a intermediate knitter still. Sure some day I'd like to knit more sweaters, intricate lace shawls, or some really pretty colourwork, but in the meantime I'm fine with knitting cables and lots of socks ;)

Speaking of socks, I love knitting them! One thing I've noticed is my sock knitting has changed as I learn new techniques and what I like best. You wouldn't think there are so many different ways to knit socks, but there are. I started out knitting socks from the cuff down on DPNs but now I usually knit them now toe-up up with magic loop.

My creation
Two pairs of socks 

The purple socks on the left are knit toe-up on magic loop with Judy's Magic Cast-on and a short-row heel. I used to knit a short-row toe as well, using the crochet cast-on, but I changed that in 2010. The orange socks on the right are my first pair of finished socks in 2011 and I think slightly improved over the ones on the left. I used to really like doing a short row toe and heel but I decided to give Judy's Magic Cast-on a second try. The gusset and slip-stitch heel does take longer but I got find this new way of doing socks fits my feet better. Plus a slip-stitch heel is thicker and more durable.

So I guess my sock knitting has improved slightly. I pride myself in being able to knit a pair of socks that fit my feet and other people's feet as well! I would like to start doing some sock knitting that features colourwork that is more complicated than stripes. I certainly have lots of sock yarn in the stash so maybe that's something I will try soon. By the way, I have knit myself 22 pairs of socks, though one of those pairs have been frogged and half-way reknit (my current wip, Bad Day Socks on Ravelry).

One new thing I tried toward the end of last year was knitting a hat with colourwork. The hat was part of a two part gift for a friend that designed the logo for my Etsy shop and Facebook fan page. Actually the gift wasn't so much of a gift as a trade for her services ;) Her son loves Mario Brothers so I tried to knit a hat featuring the mushroom from the popular video game series. It was somewhat of a fail. Actually a big fail as far as I was concerned. I didn't know how to properly carry the yarn and it was a big tight mess. I decided to put it away and work on it again after Christmas, but didn't pick it up until the new year.

My creation
A hat gone terribly wrong
Power Up!
Much better

The final hat was much nicer and enjoyed by both my friend and her son. I looked at a lot of tutorials on Youtube on how to carry floats until I found one that made sense to me. I also decided to knit with only 2 accent colours instead of 3, and I put the mushrooms closer together so there would be less blue space in between each. My gauge was much better this time too. I would like to make some more fun projects like this, and I think it's a good way to use up all that leftover yarn. 

As far as the rest of 2011 goes, most of what's on my needles right now are fairly basic projects. I'm not really into challenging myself a lot when it comes to knitting. If I like something, I will make it. Sometimes I have to do some research to learn a new technique which is a lot easier to do today with so many tutorials on Youtube. 

One thing I am excited about these days is spinning. I have a drop spindle and have spun 4 items so far. I have a very small fibre stash and plan to work on that skill this year. Even one of my friends has asked me to spin up a batt for her, once I feel more confident about it.

My first handspun
My first handspun
Most recent handspun, nicer than it looks

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day #1: A Tale of Two Yarns.

Did you know that this week is the second annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week? I didn't! I only found out about it at around 3am this morning (I'm a night owl). Every day this week knitting and crochet bloggers will be writing blog entries on the same topics. You can see the above link for more info if you want to join along. I missed day 1 but apparently that is ok. The topic for day 1 is A Tale of Two Yarns.

One of my favourite yarns is very near and dear to my heart. Briggs and Little is a yarn company from Harvey, New Brunswick, about 50 minutes east of Fredericton, NB (my home town). This company has been around for over 150 years and has always been in the same spot, even though the mill has burned down 4 times. Both my grandmother and mother knitted with Briggs and Little yarns and now I do too.

Briggs & Little
Briggs & Little Woolen Mills
They make a variety of yarns in different weights and in a lot of colours. You can buy the yarn in many local yarn stores in Canada and the US. I have been lucky enough to go to the outlet store a few times, where all the yarn is sold at a discount. Unfortunately I've never had a tour of the mill as I've only visited in the summer and the mill is closed then.

My creation
Briggs & Little Yarn
I love this yarn because it reminds me of home and my history. It's very durable, rustic and great for so many projects. I've made heavy socks, thrummed mittens, felted bowls, and a laptop bag. I have plans to make many other things with Briggs and Little yarn. It can be a bit rough on the hands and sometimes contains a bit of vegetable matter, but that really doesn't bother me. This yarn softens up a lot after washing as well.

One yarn that I want to love but more just like is Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton. I first bought this yarn when searching for something to make a hat for a vegan friend. I loved the feel and colours of this yarn, but it was a bit of a pain to knit with. It sheds, breaks easily and doesn't stand up to frogging or tinking if you make a mistake or need to rework something.

I did finish the hat for my friend but I don't know how it's held up over the years. I made a baby sweater for my nephew with the yarn leftover from that hat and another skein I picked up on clearance at a LYS.

Sweater for my nephew

I liked the sweater but I don't imagine it fit my nephew for very long as he was a big baby! Anyway, the yarn is nice but not nice enough that it has become a favourite of mine.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I can make you socks

My Etsy shop has been up and running since late last year. I did have some sales in the fall for Christmas presents and since then I've been working on improving the shop overall. Marketing is not easy but I realize this blog is a good way to get the word out about what I'm up to.

The most popular item in my shop has been hand knit socks. These socks are custom orders where the customer gives me the shoe size and I knit a pair of socks to that size. Socks that will fit your feet! Isn't that neat?

These socks were sold in 2010 but you get to see what my finished socks look like. I currently have 11 listings for custom hand knit socks in my Etsy shop. For more details on these socks such as pricing and shipping, surf on over - East Coast Knits Custom Socks

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Oh noes! On Sunday I found the first hole in a pair of my own hand knit socks. I had noticed a lot of pilling on the inside of the socks the last few times I wore them. The heel on one sock is almost totally worn through, and the other is not far behind. I have never darned a sock, though it is a good skill to learn if you are a knitter. 

The yarn used to knit these socks is from Yarnpirate. It's a merino/tencel blend which I'm now thinking was not a good choice for socks. I have read that merino isn't the best choice for socks anyway as it's very soft, and also there was is no nylon in this blend. I have loved the socks on my feet though. The yarn feels great on and was cool to knit with. I have wondered if maybe I should start knitting my socks at a tighter gauge (I normally knit on 2.25mm) because I've read that a tighter gauge prevents wear for longer. 

So, how to proceed? I could teach myself how to darn socks and I can even use the original yarn for that since I have some left. I have noticed some thinning in the toes and other heel too so I will either have to reinforce those too or just darn them eventually. A second option would be to unravel both socks, cut out the weakened yarn and reknit them at a tighter gauge using up the leftover yarn. A third option is to reknit the socks at a tighter gauge but use a different yarn, a wool/nylon blend, for the toes and heels. I think I like that idea best because it might lengthen the overall life of the socks. I'm not really sure since I haven't had this issue pop up yet with any of my other socks. Thoughts?

Now I guess I should look at the other socks in my drawer and maybe learn how to knit after-thought heels too.