American Wool Series

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Resolutions

 Happy New Year's Eve!

 Like most bloggers this time of year, I've been pondering my knitting goals for 2015.

After a lot of list making and brainstorming I finally came up with three goals that encompass a lot of smaller goals:

Knit local. I want to spend 2015 supporting the North American wool industry and the more local I can get, the better. If I had tried to do this even a few years ago I think I would have had a hard time finding yarn that was sourced entirely in the United States, but times have changed! Off the top of my head I can list half a dozen companies and independent yarn purveyors that use wool from North American flocks and North American mills. This isn't to say that I'll 100% stop purchasing yarn that doesn't meet this criteria but I'd like to start the shift toward a local wool stash. 

Knit more colorwork garments. I have one Fair Isle pullover (which needs some surgery) and I need more in my wardrobe! One of my favorite knitting techniques is stranded colorwork and I'd like to build a sweater wardrobe that will work with my solid colored clothing wardrobe. Which leads me to my final, non-knitting goal.

Participate in Me Made May. MMM is an annual event that, you guessed it, takes place in May in which sewing bloggers and knitting bloggers showcase their handmade wardrobe (hopefully without repeat pieces). I took up sewing garments again in 2014 and I'm starting to think about shifting my entire wardrobe from store-bought to handmade. I need to take a look at my existing wardrobe and start sewing replacement pieces rather than purchasing them. Most of what I sewed last year was dresses so I need to branch out into separates and I've already purchased a couple of patterns to get going on this: Renfrew by Sewaholic and Clover by Colette. 

There you have it! These three goals are fairly broad so I have some wiggle room in executing them throughout 2015. 

Do you have resolutions for 2015? What are they?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Resolution Accounting

 I took a much needed break from the internet over my Holiday vacation but I'm back to settle up my resolution goals for 2014. I posted these goals at the beginning  of 2014:
  • use my pattern library
  • knit more sweaters
  • use my stash, especially sweater stash
  • be mindful when choosing projects
  • learn all about weaving
  • think hard before purchasing (especially yarn)
  • be happy with my knitting, if I’m not it’s a sure sign that something is wrong

I'm pretty sure I purchased fewer knitting patterns and books in 2014 and I searched my already extensive knitting library for patterns before buying anything new. To my recollection I only purchased two pattern books this year:  New American Knits by Amy Christoffers and The Shetland Trader Book 2 by Gudrun Johnston. Goal achieved!

I knit eight sweaters for myself this year (number nine is in the works), a baby cardigan, and two sweaters for Little A. In 2013 I knit nine sweaters: four for me, two for Little A, and three baby sweaters for gifts. Goal achieved!

How did I do using my stash this year? I did alright, I guess. I purchased quite a bit of yarn this year but I also knit a bit of those purchases right away. Five of my sweaters were knit with yarn purchased this year specifically for sweater projects and I purchased yarn here and there (mainly at Stitches West and during my October birthday) for random projects. I did, however, go through a period where I was only knitting projects with yarn leftover from previous projects in an attempt to get my scrap yarn bag under control. My yarn in and yarn out pretty much cancelled each other out so I'm at the same place I started last year; knit more from stash. 

Sigh. Be mindful when choosing projects to knit. This is a pretty difficult goal to pin down. I do feel like I spent more time thinking about and choosing projects before casting on but does that mean I was mindful about it? I dunno.  I feel like I had more successful projects this year than in past years but was it due to mindfulness or just getting things right as I went along? Again, I'm not sure. 

I did not learn all about weaving. I wove several projects with mediocre results but that just means I need more practice with my loom. Also, I spent a lot more time sewing than in previous years so that took up the bulk of my non-knitting craft time. 

Was I happy with my knitting this year? For the most part I was very happy with my knitting. I had a very difficult year at home so I took solace in my knitting and that helped me feel some semblance of calm and serenity that I wasn't getting in my day-to-day life. I tended toward simpler projects that ended up being some of my favorite, wearable items and if I was unhappy with my knitting project I ripped it out and started something new. Goal achieved!

Did you make knitting goals for 2014? If so, how did you fare?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

FO: Tolt Hat

 I'm finally feeling the pressure of Christmas knitting. I thought I was doing alright on my knitting and then I actually looked at the calendar - not as much time left as I thought! I needed a quick pick me up gift so I went to my pattern library.
 I found the perfect pattern in my library and even had the right yarn for it in my stash.
Pattern: Tolt Hat by Andrea Rangel
Yarn: Imperial Stock Ranch Columbia in Quail and Cactus Blossom
Needles: US #8 Addi Turbo
Mods: None. I knit the size medium and it's a tad loose on me so I think it will fit the gift recipient perfectly. The pattern also includes instructions for  a pair of mitts but I don't have enough of the magenta yarn to knit them and I don't want to run out and get another skein. This hat took about one long even to complete and it would work handsomely for men in a different color combination. This would also be an excellent project for trying out colorwork.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Music Monday

I put out a Facebook call asking for non-annoying Christmas music because I didn't believe it existed. I'm not a fan of repetitive bells, songs about Santa, or church music and that seems to encompass a lot of Holiday music you hear at retail stores (and my building's elevator). Ask and you shall receive.

"364 Days" by The Murder City Devils

I'll be sharing more of my Facebook holiday music gems over the next few weeks. Get ready.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gifts for Knitters: The Knitting Library

Au Courant

Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads: A Modern Knitter's Guide to Exploring and Discovering Style by Cirilia Rose. A collection of 26 pieces ranging from sweaters to accessories with advice on creating and discovering your own personal style. Good for knitters who like variety in their knitting and are style savvy (or want to be). $27.50

Curls by Hunter Hammersen. 14 patterns for wraps sized from cowl to scarf based on the yarn you use. This one is all over knitting blogs and podcasts right now and for good reason, the variations on size and the simple shape make these accessories easily customizable. $19.95 to $21.95.

Modern Classics

New American Knits by Amy Christoffers. If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I have a knitting crush on Amy Christoffers and her design aesthetic and I plunked my money down for this book sight unseen. 20 pieces ranging from a tank top to hats to (many) sweaters. These are classic pieces with modern twists and interesting details. From $18.49.

Vintage Modern Knits by Courtney Kelley and Kate Gagnon Osborn. Modern knitwear inspired by traditional knitting techniques from cables to colorwork and all knit in The Fibre Company's lovely line of luxury yarns. $29.94

The Shetland Trader Book 1 and 2  by Gudrun Johnston. With designs inspired by the Shetland Islands and Gudrun's impeccable eye for detail these two books do not disappoint. The collection is a combination of garments and accessories that include interesting techniques and a variety of style options. From $20.00.

Building Blocks

Up, Down, All Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard. 150 stitch patterns both written and charted for knitting top down, bottom up, flat, and in the round. Included are eight patterns for garments and accessories. $29.95.

Knitting from the Top by Barbara Walker. This isn't a very sexy book but the information is great if you want to branch out into knitting your own top down sweaters (and other garments). $20.

The Knitting Workshop by Elizabeth Zimmermann. This is an excellent book for trying your hand at building your own sweater from scratch. Some of the instructions read more like recipes but if you're okay with that then this might be the book for you. $24.95.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

FO: Rolling Thunder Gloves

I finally updated some of my project pictures and now I have an FO to share! Hooray!

Pattern: Rolling Thunder Gloves by Sivia Harding (free on Ravelry)
Yarn: Leading Men Fiber Arts Show Stealer in Anne's Story
Needles: US #1 (2.25 mm) Addi Turbo 
Mods: None! I knit the pattern as written and the mitts are a perfect fit. I used copper lined size 8/0 Japanese beads from Fusion Beads in Seattle that I re-purposed from a knitting project that never came to fruition. The garter rib is quite stretchy so the mitts would fit a variety of hand sizes and the details on these are just lovely: a turned hem, texture stitches, little lines of beads along the purl welts, a garter thumb gusset, and a rolled hem. The only fussy thing about knitting these was pre-stringing the beads.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Music Monday

"After You've Gone" by Bessie Smith (1927).

"After You've Gone" by Nina Simone. I couldn't find this song as a track listing but I believe it's part of the Black Swan Live at Carnegie Hall album which was recorded in 1963.