Tag Archives: planning

The year in making: Looking ahead

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I am really happy with what I knit and sewed in 2014, and I’m really excited about this year. I actually have so many plans that I’m trying to rein myself in — it would be really easy to be ambitious now and then feel like I let myself down later, so I’ve been really thinking about what I want to do this year in a way that makes space for change. In no particular order, here are some of the big things I want to do/make this year, though I’ve almost certainly forgotten something.

Our first tree!

Our first tree!

1. This is an easy one since it’s top of mind right now: I want to make more ornaments for our Christmas tree. This was the first year L and I had our own tree, and it was a little sparsely decorated. It was fine, and I think almost all the ornaments we have are hand made, but none of them were made by me, which felt a little strange. Growing up, our tree was always a mish-mash of hand-crafted, homemade, and store-bought ornaments, and the jumble was so cheerful and fun. While there is plenty of time until there will be kid-made ornaments on our tree, I would like to spend some time (well in advance) making some ornaments for us. Right now I’m hoping to make 12. I’m thinking I’ll use leftovers to make a few variations of these stranded balls (I really like these cabled ones too) and I love these wonky owls. In an effort not to only fill the tree with knitting (though it’s tempting), this sewn owl is on my list, as is this little house and this map-petal ornament (which would also be really nice with a robust wrapping paper). Do you have any favourites I should add to the list?

2. More socks! I knit 12 pairs of socks last year, 10 of which were for me, and I really thought I’d be set for a while. But, of course, handknit socks wear out eventually and some of my oldest pairs are decidedly out of the regular rotation (though they’re great for sleeping in). I’d like to knit another 12 pairs this year (I’ve even picked out some of the yarns!) in a mix of super-warm worsted-weight socks, plain fingering-weight, and fun patterned ones (Dawlish is high on my list), plus some gifts of course.

Lovely plain socks, knit up in   Nomadic Yarns Twisty Sock in Sweater Weather.

Lovely plain socks, knit up in Nomadic Yarns Twisty Sock in Sweater Weather.

3. Keep knitting from my stash. I thought was really doing well with this in 2014, but somehow my stash still swelled by more than 5,000 yards, so there’s a way to go (not that I want to get rid of my stash or anything, I just want to use it). I’ve been really enjoying Felicia’s posts about stashing, and while I’m not planning to set limits on purchases or anything (I just rebel against those), I have ben enjoying my stash lately and I’m hoping that continues this year.

4. Speaking of stash, I’ve built up a little fabric stash this year. My big sewing goal this year is to figure out shirts/tops. This was one of the big reasons I wanted to start sewing, so it’s time to focus on it. I’m going to ease in with cotton knit t-shirts, but I do want to work up to more careful, tailored pieces. I see a lot of muslins in my future, and I’m okay with that.

Bedford swatch in Tosh Vintage, in Tart.

Bedford swatch in Tosh Vintage, in Tart.

5. Along with garment sewing, I want to do more garment knitting. I wear my knits all the time, and more sweaters would be a welcome addition to my closet. First up is Bedford, which I’ve swatched for already and will probably cast on for pretty soon. I’ve loved this pattern for ages, and it finally occurred to me that it was a perfect match for the sweater’s worth of Tosh Vintage I have in my stash. I’m also eyeing Epistrophy and Asta Sollilja (my parents bought me YOKES for Christmas, which is very exciting), as well as the Sibella Cardigan, all of which would be great fits for my wardrobe (they’re also all patterns I already own, which is a whole other part of knitting from stash). I’m not sure I’ll actually get to four sweaters this year, but I think two is realistic (based on the last few years), and maybe this year I’ll push it to three. We shall see.

So, there you have it, my big 5. What are your plans for the year? Almost certainly I’ll read other lists and get inspired and want to come back append this list, but oh well. That’s what makes all of this fun, right?

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Thinking ahead

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I am a list person. I write lists on my phone, on bits of paper that end up floating in my coat pockets for months, and in my day planner (because, yes, I still keep a paper day planner). Like most people, I like crossing things off my lists, and I’ve been known to add things I’ve already done just so that I can check them off. But that isn’t the real reason I like lists.

Lists help me organize my thoughts. I’m a visual person, and putting things down on paper, or into my phone, helps me understand what I need to do and evaluate (and re-evaluate) my priorities. I do revisit old lists, but more often, I write new ones, and if some things don’t make it from one list to another, that’s okay. Priorities change, needs change, time changes. Incomplete lists are, to me, more telling than most diary entries because who is trying to be introspective with a list?

Anyway, all of this brings me to this season’s big task: my to-do list for 2014. You can call the items goals or resolutions (be it resolved I’ll knit more socks?), but I’m calling them plans. Right now, at this moment, these are the things I want to do this year (well, not all of them, but a selection), presented in no particular order.

1. Knit more socks. Specifically, knit more whenever/everyday socks. I like fancy socks as much as the next person, but I also like plain ones. I like the rhythm of stockinette (or even basic ribbing – I would include Simple Skyp socks and Jaywalkers in the plain socks category), and the way it lets the colours unfold, and I would, ultimately, like to have enough plain socks to get me through two weeks. That’s 14 pairs. Right now, I have nine pairs, and I’m thinking six or seven more would not go amiss. I’ve gone through my stash and pulled out pretty yarns I want to spend some time with, and I’m looking forward to having these colours on my needles throughout the year.

Future socks. From top to bottom, left to right: Koigu KPPPM P615; Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor Sock in Violet's Wardrobe, Tosh Sock in Spectrum; Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Peasant (already cast on), Manos del Uruguay Alegria in A9537, and Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Autumn, Blackberry, and Earth.

Future socks. From top to bottom, left to right: Koigu KPPPM P615; Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor Sock in Violet’s Wardrobe, Tosh Sock in Spectrum; Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Peasant (already cast on), Manos del Uruguay Alegria in A9537, and Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Autumn, Blackberry, and Earth.

2. Knit from my stash. This is a perennial goal, really. I buy lots of pretty yarns with loose (or nonexistent) plans, and then they sit in my stash and get, if not forgotten about, at least passed over in favour of other pretty yarns that come my way. Stored properly, yarn doesn’t go bad, but I am just about at my limit space-wise. And besides, I have some nice stuff in there.

3. Pullovers. Last year I knit a couple of excellent cardigans, and this year, in addition to finishing Grace, I want to knit a couple of pullovers. I plan to start with Stasis, which I’ll knit in that gorgeous grey Kettle Yarn Co. Falkland I wrote about ages ago and a skein of Plucky Feet I somehow managed to snag during a crazy Etsy sale.

4. Quilt something. I want to do more sewing in general, but I especially want to try quilting. I plan to start small (with a project bag or something) and then we’ll see. Mostly, I’m just curious.

4b. Sew. This is a general resolution to just use my sewing machine more, since the more I use it the less hassle it will seem to get it out. I would like to sew myself some simple clothes this year, but we’ll see how things go.

5. Cook more. Another perennial plan, but working evenings makes it harder. Nonetheless, I want to try planning better so I can cook at least one good meal on the weekend without it feeling like a hassle or a last-minute scramble.

What are your plans/goals/resolutions/ideas for 2014? If you’ve posted about them somewhere, leave a link in the comments so I/we can find them – there’s nothing as inspiring as reading about other people’s plans!

Good mail day

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mail2

I don’t know how, but somehow all the knitting-related things I ordered in the last two months arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Granted, there were not many things, but still. My sister was visiting for the day and both times I went to the door to let her in (when she arrived and after she moved her car) there was another package. Seeing as she was also in town (in part) so I could teach her how to knit a hat, it felt a bit like fate was telling me to spend my day off knitting. Ahem.

mail1

This means I’m pretty much set for the holidays now. I was planning to pick up The Yarn Whisperer anyway, since I own everything else Clara Parkes has written and have found it invaluable to my development as a knitter. I pre-ordered her book way back at the beginning of October, and while on Amazon I saw that I could also pre-order Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, which sounded so entirely excellent that I added it to my cart before really thinking twice (I’m pretty sure I read an excerpt somewhere, too, but I can’t think where now.)

gynx-christmas

The yarn is a real treat. It’s Gynx Self-Striping Strong Sock in the Christmas Bells colourway, and it is for my Christmas socks. Every year, after all my gift knitting is finished, I knit myself a pair of socks over the holidays. Generally, I cast on right after finishing my gifts and try to cast-off before New Year’s Eve gets underway. It’s a general guideline, though, and last year I cast on my holiday socks before my last gift was finished because I needed some social knitting to do around my family. I thought about knitting myself something fancy this year, but since these socks will be mostly knit while in transit or sitting around with family, it’s better to work on something that won’t require constant attention. With such fun stripy action, I’m thinking this year I’ll knit myself another pair of Jaywalkers.

Do you have holiday knitting traditions?

I don’t know why I’m surprised

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Every year – Every. Year. – at the end of October the same thing happens: the temperature falls, Rhinebeck happens (and I don’t go), and then what feels like a million gorgeous sweaters show up on Ravelry, making me want to knit sweaters, which is perfect, because it’s cold. This is also the time of year when I realize it’s almost NaKniSweMo (national knit a sweater month), and I get all excited about taking part.

Except. Except by now I’m starting to feel the weight (just a little) of my grand holiday knitting plans, so I can’t actually cast on for any sweaters, but I can probably justify swatching. When I realize this, every year, I vow to start my holiday knitting early next year (like, in-June early) so that I’m far enough ahead that I can take November off to knit myself a sweater. And then I feel a little guilty about wishing I was knitting for myself instead of for my family, who all really appreciate hand-knits and generally make requests months in advance.

You’d think I’d learn, right? But no. So instead of casting on immediately for a new sweater I am dreaming. My dream is that I finish my holiday knitting by the end of November so I can cast on for a sweater in early December. (It’s not a very profound dream, I realize that, but there it is.) I’m having a bit of an Amy Herzog moment, so she (or, her designs) feature rather prominently.

Four skeins of Falkland in Dusty Miller.

Four skeins of Falkland in Dusty Miller.

First, I got home last night to find this gorgeous, gorgeous yarn waiting for me. It’s Falkland (80% British Falkland merino, 20% bamboo) from Kettle Yarn Co. in Dusty Miller (do you read Linda’s blog? It’s great.) I requested a custom order, since she didn’t have enough of what I wanted available in her shop, and she didn’t even blink!

kettle-dustymiller2

I wish there was a way for you to squish this yarn through the screen. There is so much spring to it, and it is so, so soft, with just the most subtle shine from the bamboo. The colour is subtle and warm and it’s exactly the sort of thing I would happily wear everyday. Thus, I want it to become the kind of sweater I can wear everyday. I did a lot of searching for a suitable pattern, but in the end, I think I’m going to use this to try out Amy’s new Custom Fit system to configure a pullover. For the first time in my life, I’m excited to swatch because it will allow me to figure out what fabric I like best, rather than try to fuss around and get a certain gauge. I can’t wait!

After that, I’m thinking I could use another warm and cozy cardigan, and Amy’s new Acorn Trail design is so me I can’t believe it isn’t in my closet already. I love the texture and the play between the cables and the lace, and yeah, I love it. My plan is to knit it up in Madelinetosh Vintage (which just arrived in the shop and, despite my efforts, I was unable to resist) in Tart.

Seven skeins of Tosh Vintage in Tart, more than enough for any sweater I want to knit.

Seven skeins of Tosh Vintage in Tart, more than enough for any sweater I want to knit.

 

I find reds tricky to photograph, but this is a sort of deep, smoky red. I worry a little that it’s too variegated for this pattern, but that’s another reason to spend some time swatching (either it’ll knit up more or less as a solid, or it’ll be more striated, we shall see.)

So, consider this a preview of what’s to come over the next few months. In the meantime, back to those socks. I’m hoping to be half-way through the second Saltburn by the end of the weekend – what are your weekend plans?

Pure planning bliss

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I am in something of a planning sweet spot. Something about a) finishing a big project and b) the approaching holidays has combined to create a space for planning and knitting that is making me both ambitious and realistic and so, so happy. I’m not saying I don’t get stressed about gift knitting (talk to me in the second week of December), but right now, when everything seems doable and fun and it feels like there’s lots of time? Right now, it is fun.

Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Artifact, destined to be this hat.

Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Artifact, destined to be this hat.

One of the things I like best about this time is planning pattern and yarn pairings. I like to think about what colour(s) someone will like best, what pattern will suit their style and their needs, and what will be an engaging knit. All of this necessitates spending some time looking at patterns on Ravelry and also buying yarn (oh darn) and, of course, this inevitably leads to me finding patterns and yarns that get added to my post-holiday, for-me knitting, which is fun to plan and think about too.

Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Almanac and Foothills, which I plan to use for this hat in January.

Brooklyn Tweed Loft in Almanac and Foothills, which I plan to use for this hat (for me) in January.

Last weekend, my friend Wendy and I went to New York for the New Yorker Festival. We went two years ago and loved it, so it was really fun to go back. The festival lineup was great and we had a tough time narrowing down our choices (as much as we’d like to see everything that’s a bit expensive and also, when in New York, it’s fun to have time to do other things too). In the end, we went to the New Yorker MOTH night, a panel on immersion journalism hosted by David Remnick, saw Susan Orlean interview Christophe Waltz, and watched Philomena (staring Judy Dench and Steve Coogan) followed by an on-stage interview with director Stephen Frears. It was great.

Anzula Squishy in Rootbeer – I am have a bit of a shawl moment right now, and I think this would gorgeous as  the Sagano Shawl by Laura Chau. Thoughts?

Anzula Squishy in Rootbeer – I am have a bit of a shawl moment right now, and I think this would gorgeous as the Sagano Shawl by Laura Chau. Thoughts?

Would a trip to New York be complete without a visit to Purl Soho? Probably not. So we went twice: once to look, and once to buy. I’d planned ahead a little and picked up some yarn for L’s annual hat as well as a couple of treats for myself, which is, I think, a perfect balance.

A practical purchase. Last year, I got quite a gash on my finger from all the knitting with sharp little needles. This year, I'm prepared.

A practical purchase. Last year, I got quite a gash on my finger from all the knitting with sharp little needles. This year, I’m prepared.

How was your weekend? Are you already planning or do you prefer to wing it?

October is for socks

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Can you believe it’s October 1? That seems crazy to me, but since I can’t do anything about it, I’m going to go with it. Bring on Socktober, this year, I’m ready. Besides some finishing up, this month is going to be all socks, all the time. I’m not great at monogamous knitting, so I’ll have a few pairs on the go at a time, with the goal of knitting two complete pairs and finishing at least one other. That may be insane, but we’ll see how it goes.

Stepping-Stones, being knit in Indigodragonfly Superwash DK in Fringe Over Troubled Water

Stepping-Stones, being knit in Indigodragonfly Superwash DK in Fringe Over Troubled Water

My first plan is to finish up these Stepping-Stones for my mom. I cast them on in April, knit three inches and then put them down for six months. It’s starting to get cold again, though, so it’s time to finish them up. I picked them up the other day to stash in my bag as after-work knitting and I’m almost done the gusset decreases on the first sock. I’m knitting them in DK-weight yarn, which is coming out looser than the other pair I knit, so maybe they’ll end up being layering socks. Either way, they’ll keep her feet warm.

My other plans are holiday-related, so I have to keep things a little vague. I’m planning to knit Saltburns for my sister, using this delicious bright-blue.

Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor Sock in Cobalt

Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor Sock in Cobalt

And, for L (who has finally come around to hand knit socks) I’m going to knit a simple 3×1 rib in this warm brown. I figure I’ll go basic for the first pair, and if he likes and wears them, I’ll knit something more fun.

Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Mushroom Hunting

Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Mushroom Hunting

If by some miracle I get all of this finished (or, if I finish the first two and then need something interesting to balance out the ribbing) I’ve got my second pair of Daphnes to finish up. I love these socks – the colour is perfect, the pattern is fun, and the only reason I put them down was because I needed something more mindless to balance out Burrard. They’re more of a summer sock, but if I finish them now they’ll be ready and waiting next year, which is okay by me.

Indigodragonfly Bleats, Shoots & Leaves in Baldersquash (everything about this yarn is amazing, including the name.)

Indigodragonfly Bleats, Shoots & Leaves in Baldersquash (everything about this yarn is amazing, including the name.)

Are you knitting socks this month? Please tell me you have crazy Socktober plans so I feel less like a maniac.

Tangerine, melon, squash, terracota – it all adds up to the same thing

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I’m feeling a bit of a colour jag coming on, so I thought it was only fair to warn you that there might be a bit of a theme over the next little while.

Left to right: Indigodragonfly Merino Sock in "Safety Pin or Safety Pint: Discuss" for Willowherb; Quince & Co. Finch in "Nasturtium" for Grace; and Indigodragonfly Bleats, Shoots & Leaves in "Baldersquash" for Daphne.

Left to right: Indigodragonfly Merino Sock in “Safety Pin or Safety Pint: Discuss” for Willowherb; Quince & Co. Finch in “Nasturtium” for Grace; and Indigodragonfly Bleats, Shoots & Leaves in “Baldersquash” for Daphne.

Yeah. I know it’s spring and that colour says fall, but I can’t help it. I’ve been seduced. I have projects planned in other colours too, but at least one of those is secret (this year I am going to be on top of Christmas, dammit) so it’s going to be mostly orange, most of the time for the next little while.

The weird thing, though, is that I didn’t plan this, or even realize it, until I was getting myself organized. I briefly thought about switching the yarn for Willowherb to this one, but then I thought about it and decided that those socks really wanted to be orange. Then I thought about not knitting Daphne right after, but I’ve been wanting a pair of these since I finished the first ones I knit, so that wasn’t an option either. And Grace was always going to be this colour. So, yeah. Orange.

Does this happen to you? I sometimes go on unintentional thematic runs in the books I read, but so I feel like I’ve been okay about mixing up my knitting colours. I suppose, though, that once a stash reaches a certain size, colours just rise to the top of their own accord. That’s probably it, right? I mean, this is basically all the orange yarn I own, so the fact that I’m planning to knit it all in the span of a few months means it decided it was time (my yarn is sentient I guess?).

Sigh. I’ll figure something else out for October.