Jun 30, 2010

Marina (#80)


I won't lie - it's super strange to be standing outside in a woolen hat in 85 degree weather! While I love to knit year-round, the modeling of those hand-knits when it's so hot you want to be soaking in a chilly pool seems a bit backwards. That said, I truly loved knitting Marina. Knit from side to side, the stitch pattern worked itself out beautifully - if a bit difficult to memorize, which is always a bonus in my eyes. This type of pattern has been cropping up everywhere for me lately, so it was no surprise that it would turn up on a hat for the project!

Specs: Marina, by Wooly Wormhead; knit using I Love This Wool! in brick, on size 7 bamboo needles.

Jun 28, 2010

One Little Purple Armband and the Gateway Drugs for a Budding Minimalist

Here in Omaha we have been in the throes of College World Series fever for the past few weeks.

It starts about five days before the games as the teams show up, the vendors set up shop, and our little downtown area goes bonkers – people running everywhere, overcrowded bars, and team flags flying from the apartment windows.

It’s a great time for college baseball fans – the best eight teams in the country head to a seemingly small town {we’re just under a million strong in reality – not so small after all!} and stare in wonder as the entire city embraces the sport, the fans, and the teams. Native Omahans pick teams to cheer for on a game-to-game basis, and the entire city caters to the fans.

Plus, there’s all the stuff you can buy. Which, for a brand new minimalist … let’s just say it can be a challenge.

Take last Friday’s game. TCU had been making a very serious under-dog run for the title, and more and more people were getting behind them. My husband and I were lucky enough to get tickets to the first game of the series, where TCU’s star pitcher threw an incredible game. We had tickets to the Friday afternoon game as well, with hopes of seeing the same young kid pitch his team to a victory**

The morning of the game I realized I had nothing purple to wear! I wear mostly black, grey, teal and lime green, and I wanted to support the underdog in a ridiculous way. Scrambling through my yarn stash I couldn’t even find a decent ball of purple wool to bring with!

Without a thought, I turned to my husband as we were out the door to head to work and said, “I think I’ll just pick up a purple armband at the game, so I can show my TCU support.”

Do you see that? Do you see the rookie mistake? My first thought was not “ah, well – I’ll cheer loud enough they’ll know who I’m supporting” or even “at least I’m not wearing UCLA colors!” but Hey, let’s buy something! How very non-minimalist of me!

I’ll go on record and say I did NOT end up getting the purple arm band. It would have been hot and sweaty on my arm, I would have just tossed it into my bag, and in six months it would have been placed in the donation bin.

The game was wonderful despite my lack of purple, and I didn’t think twice about it afterward. For a budding minimalist, its little moments like that one last Friday morning that make or break you. It’s easy to fall back into old patterns of quick and impulse purchases, but these are exactly the purchases that fill our homes with junk and deplete our wallets of the money that could be helping us fund our dreams!

I’m proud I stopped myself this time, and know it will make me more aware the next time I want to shop without thinking. What are the little impulse purchases you find yourself making that you could cut out of your days – the stuff you don’t really need that is keeping you from taking that one extra minimalist step?

** We cheered TCU on to victory on Friday, but they were unable to continue the wins on Saturday, and left before they could make it to the final games. Bummer.

Diamond Head (#79)


Whew! What a week it's been! I feel like I turned around and a week had gone by without my being able to post a hat update, much less even take a photo! I'm officially four hats ahead of the one you see here - FOUR! - but I hope to get caught up between this week and next.

The Diamond Head Beret was super fun to knit, although not very beret-like in the end I don't think. It slouches quite nice, but maybe I just don't know how to wear it properly? No matter, because I love it and would wear it all winter long if I weren't giving it away soon!

Specs: Diamond Head Beret by Petra Johnson; made using I Love This Wool in brick and size 6 and 7 needles.

Jun 27, 2010

Yarn Stash 2.0

Over the last few weeks I've been doing some stash reduction. I've also not kept very good track of what skeins I have and have not used.

So earlier today I took an hour or so, and took new pictures of each skein of yarn I own. Below is their photos.

I don't have details of the skeins attached to the photos, but I am already heading over to Ravelry to attach many of them to projects I've got planned. Hopefully, having these photos will help me keep better track of what I'm using and when!

And how's your Sunday going?

Jun 24, 2010

Bad Idea Yarn Skeins


This is a chapter from my book The Minimalist Knitter's Handbook. Image from Flagel Knitting Files.
 


You know the yarn – it sits in the far corners of your stash, buried under all the pretty yarn, the squishy yarn, and your favorite yarn. It’s the yarn you picked up because it was on sale, or because your knitting friends promised you’d love it. Maybe it was given to you as a gift or as part of someone’s de-stashing efforts.

 No matter how it got into your stash, every knitter has it – the bad idea yarn skein. Not sure which yarns in your stash are Bad Idea Yarn Skeins? I’ve devised a simple test to help you easily figure out the most likely suspects.
  • When you look at, think about, or touch the yarn, do you have to resist the urge to bury it at the back of your stash?
  • Has it languished in your stash for more than a year for reasons other than sentimentality?
  • Have you attempted to pair it up with a project at least three times, and simply given up?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in possession of Bad Idea Yarn Skeins!

In my case, it was sock yarns and novelty yarns. I picked up knitting steam right around the time novelty yarn scarves were becoming immensely popular, and my mom and I began to knit them to donate to a local oncology ward. As the craze wore thin, I still had plenty of skeins of the stuff in my stash. When sock knitting first became the rage, I decided I wanted to jump on board. After purchasing far too much sock yarn, I learned I hated knitting with the tiny needles needed to make socks what they are.

 If you’re honest about your yarn stash, you will admit you’ve got at least one of these types of skeins buried somewhere. Chances are you can pinpoint exactly where they’re hidden, stuffed off to the side so you don’t have to look at them when you search for yarn to pair up with your next project.

These skeins represent the easiest way to jump on board with minimalist knitting. You don’t want them around, and most likely only hold onto them out of knitter’s guilt – the feeling that you really should knit with that skein, even though just the thought of it makes you squeamish.

 Let go of the guilt and then let go of those skeins! Organizations around the world are constantly looking for yarn donations for their charity projects – a simple search on Lion Brand’s Charity Connections page will help you find the perfect charity to send your yarn to! Once you’ve rid yourself of your Bad Idea Yarn Skeins, your stash should feel lighter – and so should you!

Jun 22, 2010

Taos (#78)


What a weekend it was! A brother who turned 21, a ridiculous sunburn after a super-fun CWS baseball game, and tons of knitting time left me exhausted! Before all the ridiculousness of the weekend, I finished knitting Taos.

A fun little knit, this hat is far too big for my head in length but I love the brim and the construction of the whole thing far too much to care. Maybe it looks good slouchy? The tiny cables for the brim are what does it for me. I love knitting cables without needing a cable needle, and hope I can work that little bit of wonderfulness into future hand-knits.

Specs: Taos by Joanne Cole; knit using Cascade 220 heathers in pink on size 8 needles.

Jun 18, 2010

Top Ten Minimalist Knitting Patterns


Part of minimalist knitting for me is finding patterns that fit under the “minimalist” umbrella. Whether they have only a few rows to remember, need only one set of needles to complete, or are able to be made using a variety of yarns and in a variety of sizes, the patterns I head back to repeatedly seem to fall under a minimalist theme.

While there is something to be said for knitting a pattern that teaches you new techniques, forces you to pay attention to every stitch, and provides at the end a gorgeous piece of artwork, I find more satisfaction in the “everyday” patterns. The pieces you will gladly wear or give to a friend or family member, the patterns that work wonderfully for donation – these are the patterns that make my knitting needles sing.

With the thousands of patterns available on the internet, in knitting books, and in magazines, it can be hard to weed through them to find the patterns that work up beautifully every time, and lend themselves to my minimalist tendencies. Over the years I’ve grown to love a few for their timelessness and ease of knitting – my top ten minimalist knitting patterns.  

1. Striped Hat {from Holiday Knits: 25 Great Gifts from Stockings to Sweaters} – The first time I worked up this hat I wondered at its simplicity. Thanks to ribbing from top to bottom this hat will fit just about anyone, and the color detail at the brim means you can personalize this hat for anyone. I’ve taken to making it without the folded brim, and have it on my permanent list of go-to presents for every man in my life!  

2. Kanoko Pants – As any knitter knows, just when you think you know no one else who will be having a baby, a new crop of friends, family members and co-workers appears who are pregnant. I’ve taken to knitting up pairs of these pants in a variety of sizes and holding onto them – you never know when someone is going to announce they’re about to add a little girl or boy to their family! I’ve made these in wool, bamboo, and acrylic now. And with a pattern that sizes from newborn to almost toddler, you can be sure to make a pair that any mom will love putting their child in.  

3. Project Linus Security blanket {from Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time} – perfect for large and small kids, three rows to remember!  

4. Cabled baby hats – I love the idea of sending a baby home in something handmade. Harder to do for summer babies, I still love gifting every mom-to-be with a tiny hat for their new little babe. The cabled baby hat pattern is perfect for any knitter: perfect for learning cables, these whip up in a night or two, and the pattern is easy to remember. I make these by the dozen in the fall and winter – they’re perfect for donating to your local hospital if you don’t know anyone about to give birth!  

5. Walk in The Park Hat – easy pattern to remember, perfect for any style  

6. Cigar mitts – Every man needs a good pair of gloves, and most refuse to own them. And because knitting hat after hat for the men in your life can get old, having a great fingerless mittens pattern around that’s suitable to the men-folk is a treasure to be sure. The Cigar Mitts pattern has become just that for me. My husband wants one in every color – he already has two pair – and every time he wears them every man around him begs for a pair for their hands as well. I’m convinced no man could resist a pair of these well constructed and quick to knit mitts.   

7. Pasha – I’m sort of cheating on this one, because when I say Pasha what I mean to say is anything and everything by Jane Richmond. Pasha is just the latest in my Jane-related pattern obsession. And the obsession is minimalist-based. Every Jane Richmond pattern I’ve used is easy to grasp, full of tons of pattern repeats, and can be worked up using a wide variety of yarns and needles.

8. Circular shrug – {Ravelry download only} Simple to knit, genius construction, this is a shrug I love so much I've given away every single one I've ended up making! I don't even have one for myself, because once someone sees it on me, they want it!  

9. Cobblestone sweater – Top-down sweater construction, perfect for any style guy, and the Ravelry knitters have already added tons of notes for shaping it to a gal’s body as well!  

10. Garter Yoke Cardigan - every knitter knows someone who has knit this sweater. With simple construction, the most brain-needing moments come when short rows are added {or generally not in my case!} to give the sweater a bit of shape. The beauty of this pattern comes in yarn choice for me – it has been made in work-horse wools like Patons and Cascade 220, but can also be found knit in acrylics, cottons, and even fancier bamboos. I’d love to own this sweater in a variety of colors so I would have one to wear with everything!

Top Ten Minimalist Knitting Patterns

Part of minimalist knitting for me is finding patterns that fit under the “minimalist” umbrella. Whether they have only a few rows to remember, need only one set of needles to complete, or are able to be made using a variety of yarns and in a variety of sizes, the patterns I head back to repeatedly seem to fall under a minimalist theme.

While there is something to be said for knitting a pattern that teaches you new techniques, forces you to pay attention to every stitch, and provides at the end a gorgeous piece of artwork, I find more satisfaction in the “everyday” patterns. The pieces you will gladly wear or give to a friend or family member, the patterns that work wonderfully for donation – these are the patterns that make my knitting needles sing.

With the thousands of patterns available on the internet, in knitting books, and in magazines, it can be hard to weed through them to find the patterns that work up beautifully every time, and lend themselves to my minimalist tendencies. Over the years I’ve grown to love a few for their timelessness and ease of knitting – my top ten minimalist knitting patterns.


1. Striped Hat {from Holiday Knits: 25 Great Gifts from Stockings to Sweaters} – The first time I worked up this hat I wondered at its simplicity. Thanks to ribbing from top to bottom this hat will fit just about anyone, and the color detail at the brim means you can personalize this hat for anyone. I’ve taken to making it without the folded brim, and have it on my permanent list of go-to presents for every man in my life!

2. Kanoko Pants – As any knitter knows, just when you think you know no one else who will be having a baby, a new crop of friends, family members and co-workers appears who are pregnant. I’ve taken to knitting up pairs of these pants in a variety of sizes and holding onto them – you never know when someone is going to announce they’re about to add a little girl or boy to their family! I’ve made these in wool, bamboo, and acrylic now. And with a pattern that sizes from newborn to almost toddler, you can be sure to make a pair that any mom will love putting their child in.

3. Project Linus Security blanket {from Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time} – perfect for large and small kids, three rows to remember!


4. Cabled baby hats – I love the idea of sending a baby home in something handmade. Harder to do for summer babies, I still love gifting every mom-to-be with a tiny hat for their new little babe. The cabled baby hat pattern is perfect for any knitter: perfect for learning cables, these whip up in a night or two, and the pattern is easy to remember. I make these by the dozen in the fall and winter – they’re perfect for donating to your local hospital if you don’t know anyone about to give birth!

5. Walk in The Park Hat – easy pattern to remember, perfect for any style

6. Cigar mitts – Every man needs a good pair of gloves, and most refuse to own them. And because knitting hat after hat for the men in your life can get old, having a great fingerless mittens pattern around that’s suitable to the men-folk is a treasure to be sure. The Cigar Mitts pattern has become just that for me. My husband wants one in every color – he already has two pair – and every time he wears them every man around him begs for a pair for their hands as well. I’m convinced no man could resist a pair of these well constructed and quick to knit mitts.


7. Pasha – I’m sort of cheating on this one, because when I say Pasha what I mean to say is anything and everything by Jane Richmond. Pasha is just the latest in my Jane-related pattern obsession. And the obsession is minimalist-based. Every Jane Richmond pattern I’ve used is easy to grasp, full of tons of pattern repeats, and can be worked up using a wide variety of yarns and needles.

8. Circular shrug – {Ravelry download only} Simple to knit, genius construction, this is a shrug I love so much I've given away every single one I've ended up making! I don't even have one for myself, because once someone sees it on me, they want it!


9. Cobblestone sweater – Top-down sweater construction, perfect for any style guy, and the Ravelry knitters have already added tons of notes for shaping it to a gal’s body as well!

10. Garter Yoke Cardigan - every knitter knows someone who has knit this sweater. With simple construction, the most brain-needing moments come when short rows are added {or generally not in my case!} to give the sweater a bit of shape. The beauty of this pattern comes in yarn choice for me – it has been made in work-horse wools like Patons and Cascade 220, but can also be found knit in acrylics, cottons, and even fancier bamboos. I’d love to own this sweater in a variety of colors so I would have one to wear with everything!

+  +  +  +  +  +  +

Look for my Three Season Mitts e-book to be re-released this upcoming  Tuesday! Chock full of updates, I'll also be offering up an affiliate program - a great way for you to make a bit of cash from the e-book along with me!

Jun 16, 2010

Beehive (#77)


This past weekend was quite the productive one for me - hats flew off the needles before I had much of a chance to catch up with them it seemed! I got lucky with Beehive - after a few rounds of all these cables, you think you want to give up, and suddenly you're halfway through and the hat is turning out so cute you realize just a few more cables won't be so bad! This tiny little hat comes pattern equiped with a tiny crocheted bee, but I didn't add that to my schedule. With the hat in pink, I thought adding a yellow and black bee would ultimately detract from the pretty little hat!  

Specs: Beehive hat by Stasia Wussow; knit using Cascade 220 heathers in pink and size 8 needles.

Jun 15, 2010

minimalist business and knitting

Over the next few days I'll be reading Everett Bogue's new book Minimalist Business. My goal is to write a review on it once I've read and processed it, but I wanted to hop in here and tell you why I'm reading it, as well as why I'm not reading it.

When Everett first released this book for a limited 24-hour time-frame, I considered purchasing the book and then decided against it. I am, after all, a knitter, not a business person.

As I looked at what I was doing online and where I wanted to be in the next few months and years however, I began to look at things a bit different. And as Everett began to share a bit more about his book leading up to the re-release, I began to waver on my decision.

You may have noticed over the last several days I’ve made some visual changes around of the blog. Specifically, I’ve added a few free patterns to the sidebar on the right. I’ve written almost a dozen patterns now, almost all of them free to the public, and over the next few months I’ll be posting those up to the blog and adding them to the sidebar.

I’ve also got a knitting e-book available for purchase through Ravelry {Ravelry-only link - I'll be sharing a direct link here in the coming weeks}.

Last year around this time I was frantically knitting up fingerless mitts and arm warmers getting ready for the release of my first e-book. It sold moderately well considering the small blog following I have, and then petered out {as these things are known to do without constant marketing}.

As summer hits full swing this year, I’m already planning ahead to the fall and winter months, and even into 2011 a bit. And I’ve got some fun ideas for some new knitting e-books I’m excited to share. As I kept reading about Everett’s new Minimalist Business book, it began to dawn on me: what I’m building is a minimalist business!

Now, I'm not trying to take over the minimalist world - or the knitting world, for that matter. I'm not looking to turn my knitting into a full-time job, and I'm not looking to live location-independant.

However, I am excited to pick up some new tips and tricks for expanding my love of knitting and of writing knitting patterns into a more profitable venture, and Everett's book seems like the perfect fit for that! And with several new e-books in the making, learning a bit more about how to build and maintain a minimalist business makes sense.

As soon as the book became available for purchase again {early this morning, in fact} I snapped up a copy. And for the next 24 hours Everett is offering the book at the original discounted price. After the initial 24-hours the price will go up, but only by a few dollars.

If you’ve ever considered starting a business – online or otherwise – this may be a book you’ll want to snap up. If you’re willing to go in blind, pick one up at the discounted rate over the next day. If you’d rather wait, I’ll be sharing my review of the book {including what I’ve learned and how I plan to apply it to my life} next Tuesday. Hold your money until then and check out what I’ve got to say if that makes you feel more comfortable!

Ditch The Stash: Five Tricks For Getting Rid Of All That Yarn You Don ’t Use

This is a chapter from my book The Minimalist Knitter's Handbook
 


As a minimalist knitter, my goal is to only have enough yarn in my possession to knit projects for a three-month time frame. Projects I know I want to knit, using yarn and needles I know I love to knit with.
For most knitters, this isn’t the case. Surrounded by yarn and needles, most knitters find themselves with enough yarn to knit from their stash for the next ten years! {This is no exaggeration – I’m a member of a stash-busting group on Ravelry, and the average amount of yarn owned adds up to about ten years’ worth of knitting to get through!}

Most knitters are slaves to their yarn stash, carrying around guilt over skeins left un-knit. With the minimalist movement taking hold of the world, people everywhere are paring down their possessions, focusing on what truly matters to them, and loving more and more minutes of their days. It’s time for knitters to join the ranks! The truth of the yarn stash is this – if you haven’t knit through it within six months, you most likely will never get to it. We knitters love the yarn shop, and with new yarns showing up on the market all the time, we’re more likely to find something new to knit with than go diving into our stash.

Rather than hold onto all that yarn you’re probably never going to use, pare it down to the stuff you love and KNOW you’ll use soon, and let the rest of it go. It can be scary to start weeding through your yarn stash, but if you want to live with less and feel joy from your knitting rather than guilt at owning so much stash you never use, the following five tips can help you weed through half your stash in as little as a weekend!  

1. Figure out what you actually knit. Before you even dive into your stash, do an hour of recon work and figure out what you actually knit. If you’ve got a Ravelry account {my Ravelry handle is “adevinelife”}, look at your finished projects. If you keep a Flickr account, start surfing backwards.
  • Make note of specific types of projects you see a lot of – hats, baby items, sweaters, shawls. 
  • Dig a bit deeper and figure out which needles you use most often – are you a size 8 queen, or do you stick to the smaller needles, working mostly in the 3-4 range? 
  • What yarn fibers do you love most? Do you spend most of your time with wool, or do you love cotton or acrylics more?
Doing the work of figuring out what you love to knit, and love to knit with, will help you decipher what you don’t use. For me, it became clear I don’t use much sport weight yarn, cotton, or any needles that range outside of the 5-10 range.  

2. Flip Your Stash. Now the hard work begins – you need to dump out every container of yarn you have into the middle of the floor. I’m not joking here – don’t let any of it sit in a box. You can do this one box or container at a time, or you can do what I did and make one huge pile of all my yarn on the floor all at once.

Allow yourself to feel overwhelmed. You didn’t acquire this yarn overnight, and each ball and skein of yarn was brought into your home with the intention of being knit up into something amazing. Give yourself a few minutes to freak out at the amount of yarn you have, and then grab some garbage bags or boxes and get to work.  

3. Divide and Conquer. Remember that list you made earlier of what you liked to knit and didn’t like to knit? Now it’s time to use it – and be ruthless with it. Start at the top of your big pile, grabbing one skein at a time {or one batch of skeins, if you’ve got several of the same colorway together}. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Has this yarn been in your stash for more than six months, without a specific project attached to it? If so, get rid of it.
  • Did you buy this yarn with a specific project in mind, but it’s sat in your stash for more than a year? You’re probably not going to knit it – get rid of it.
  • Did you think you’d love knitting with this yarn, but it turns out you HATED it? Get rid of it.
  • Is it a yarn weight or fiber that’s not on your “use it all the time” list? Get rid of it.
  • Does this yarn fall under the “love to knit with it, it’s the right weight and fiber type for me to use again and again” category? Set it aside.
Each time you have a skein of yarn that falls under the “get rid of it” category, put it into a box or bag to be donated. Do this over and over again until you’ve whittled down your pile. You should only have yarn left that falls under the “love to knit with this yarn” category or the “it’s the right weight and fiber type” category.  

4. Get rid of the donate pile. There are hundreds of organizations that will gladly take your yarn off your hands! Check with local organizations first. Not sure where to call? Here’s a few suggestions:
  • Check with your local knitting groups and non-profits.
  • Ask your local nursing homes if they have a crochet/knitting group. They may want any acrylic you have.
  • Lion Brand yarn has a great charity connection space, where you can search for organizations that are looking for yarn donations. Search your state first, the states around you next.
When all else fails, you can bag up that yarn and take it to the Goodwill. There’s always a knitter poking around the bins that will squeal with delight at the treasures you’ll have left for them. Concerned at the cost of shipping the yarn? Instead of thinking of the cost of shipping, which really isn’t all that much, consider the cost of storing all that yarn, coupled with the mental cost – the stress you feel when looking at all that yarn sitting around, unused.  

5. Go back through your “to keep” pile. Once you’ve donated all the yarn in your “get rid of it” pile, you’ll want to take one last pass through your “to keep” pile. Do you have more than three months worth of knitting there? If so, pare down again, or do the following if you can’t bear to let go of any more yarn:
  • Set aside yarn for specific projects.
  • Figure out a few fun and simple projects you can make for the holidays to give away, and bag up yarn for that purpose.
  • Create a “knitting club” for yourself with all the single skeins. Connect specific yarn with specific projects, and draw one project at a time until all the single skeins are used up. It’s a fun way to keep the surprise in your knitting.
    Exhausted? I bet! But I also bet your stash has been significantly depleted.

    Now here comes the hard part:  

    In six months, do it again.

    Chances are you’ll have accumulated new yarn in the interim, you’ll fall less in love with some of those skeins of yarn you had to keep, and you’ll have a better handle on how much you can knit with over a few months’ time. By repeating this process every six months, you’ll keep your stash manageable.

    I’ll be honest here – I’ve actually gone through this process twice in the last month. I know how hard it can be to let go of yarn you spent good money on and had pure intentions of knitting with. For me, the desire to be a minimalist knitter has won out over my desire to use up every skein in my stash. I know how fast I can knit, what projects I’ll actually complete, and what yarn it takes to do that. This means I have to repeatedly do the hard work of deciding what I can and can’t keep in my yarn stash. It’s a process I’m not done with, but am willi ng to commit to – and these steps are exactly how I commit myself to it.

    Jun 14, 2010

    Birthday Rain

    I am not someone who has tremendous luck. I have entered contests for years and cannot remember a single one I have won. When friends go to the casino to go gambling they purposely don’t invite me – if you even ride in the car with me on the way to a casino you will lose money!

    So it comes as no surprise to me that birthday plans should be held loosely – especially when traveling is involved.

    Saturday we packed up what we needed – wallets and sunscreen, mostly – and drove for three hours south to Kansas City to ride some roller coasters. We had tickets in our car {purchased ahead of time to get a much better deal} and had checked the weather report, which said sunny and mid-80’s for the entire day.
    This is what it looked like when we rolled into town:


    Sideways rain, lightning and thunder means no roller coasters for me! With friends already in Kansas City to meet up with, we made the best of our day – good barbeque, a sports bar for the USA vs. England soccer match, and a nap in the car on the ride home.

    Oh, and some crochet:


    I’m in love with this blanket pattern, incidentally. Works up super fast, should only take two skeins of the yarn, and feels like a dream even before the first washing – always a good sign from acrylic yarn.

    +  +  +  +  +  +  +

    So while my birthday plans didn’t work out as expected, we still have tickets to go ride roller coasters another day. And I was able to spend Sunday {which was my actual birthday} doing everything exactly how I’d wished – a bit of knitting, some Buffy watching, my favorite pizza, and topping it all off with the season premiere of True Blood. Yum.

    I’ve got a busy year ahead, I can feel it! I’m knitting through my yarn stash at a record pace {just wait until I share this month’s completed projects!}, I’ve got tons of great goals I’m excited to accomplish, and the husband and I are dreaming big as a couple as well!

    Yay for 33!

    Meret (#76)


    Thanks for all the fun and love for reaching the 3/4 point for this project! After taking some time to celebrate, I've got tons of hats off the needles and am moving along full-speed towards the finish line! {and yes, I will continue to blog my knitting adventures once this project is done, for those who so kindly asked!} Meet Meret. Although she hasn't been blocked, I love her dearly!

    The pattern was written for a mystery knit-along hosted by Wooly Wormhead on Ravelry, and is offered up freely! A fun knit, you can choose just how slouchy you want the hat to turn out. I opted to make mine somewhere in the middle of slouch - and now that it's knit, I think I'd make it super slouchy next time, as I hate to block things! This pattern quite literally flew off the needles, a welcome event as I feel like I'm getting behind again on my goals.

     Specs: Meret, by Wooly Wormhead; knit using I Love This Wool! and size 8 bamboo needles.

    Jun 10, 2010

    Beginning A Baby Blanket

    Last night I finally found a good crochet pattern for a blanket and cast on. Several months ago, a family friend found out her dear friend is pregnant with twins. Being the family we are, my aunt is hosting a baby shower for the mom-to-be – and being that we she is a crafter like me, she wanted to make baby blankets for the arriving twins. TWINS!

    One boy and one girl, she spent quality time in the yarn section of her local craft store, and then got stymied. Not only would she have to come up with a pattern that would work well for both a boy and a girl, she realized she only had six weeks to make both blankets!

    Lucky for my aunt, we work together – so when she brought the three blue skeins of yarn to me and asked if I could help, I willingly agreed. We were going to knit the blankets, but aunt is a beginner knitter, and it would have taken far too long for her to knit an entire blanket.

    Crochet selected, I spent some time online last night searching for a pattern. I had a few criteria said pattern needed to fill:
    • It needed to be crochet

    • It needed to work for both a boy and a girl

    • It needed to be easy enough either one of us could work it, but not so easy that we’d get bored with it, or it wouldn’t look adorable when done.

    • It needed to be freely available.
    Thank goodness for Ravelry! All I had to do was key in “blanket” and “crochet” into their pattern search feature, and I was presented with hundreds of options! Within minutes I’d found the Shell Stitch Blanket and I was ready to swatch.

    I’m not normally a swatch-maker, but in this case the blanket was made using super thick yarn, and we had super thin sportweight yarn, so I wanted to make sure the pattern would look good, and that I could figure out how to size it up.

    Easy-peasy as it turns out – for those interested, I am using a size H hook and chained 74 rather than 36 to get a baby blanket-sized strip.

    After the set-up row, you only have to remember two rows – and the only difference in those two rows is where you start the stitch pattern. After two repeats of the two rows, I no longer need the pattern in front of me!

    I’m excited to bring this with me in the car when we head out this weekend to ride roller coasters – it’s the perfect car project, and with the short drive we’ll be making I don’t want to have to bring along a pattern.

    Jun 9, 2010

    let the festivities officially begin!

    cupcake.jpg


    With just four days to go until my birthday, the festivites have officially kicked off! Today at work was "birthday day" - the one day each month where we all bring in treats to celebrate all the birthdays for the month. This yummy cupcake tastes like Mocha Latte, and hit the spot at approximately 9am!

    I love that I get to celebrate my birthday in little doses - a bit today with a cupcake, a bit on Saturday with roller coasters, and then a bit on Sunday with pizza and True Blood! Mixed in there will be a mini shopping trip as well.

    How do you like to celebrate your birthdays - with one big hurah or with a few small doses of fun?

    Jun 8, 2010

    By The Numbers

    With so much going on last week and this, I’ve felt too busy to blog. So here’s a bit of what’s happened in my world, by the numbers {idea nabbed from Kelli}:

    • 33 – years old on Saturday!

    • 5 – number of people going to ride roller coasters with me to celebrate.

    • 4 – roller coasters ridden in celebration of my birthday!

    • 3 – thunderstorms

    • ½ -The amount of power that was lost to our home in the first thunderstorm. That’s right – HALF.

    • 2 – cavities filled at the dentist

    • 2 – cans of soda drunk in honor of my crappy teeth before cavities were filled

    • 2 -bags of yarn donated

    • 0 – skeins in those bags counted for my totals.

    • 130 – number of stitches cast on for a baby blanket I’m making for my aunt.

    • 1 – number of baby blankets I’m making for her.

    • 2 – number of baby blankets she needs in total.

    • 76 – hat number I am on as I type this.

    • 90 – hat number I’m queued up to in Ravelry.

    • 6 – potential number of 21-year-old boys who will be staying in my house next weekend.

    • 21 – how old my brother turns next weekend.

    • 3 – approximate number of hours I expect to sleep next weekend.

    • 2 – number of sore arms I have after starting the P90X workout with my husband.

    • 0 – number of sit-ups I want to do for said workout.

    • 250 – number of sit-ups I will have to do tomorrow.

    Happy Tuesday! I’ll be back with a new free Minimalist pattern, some finished hats, and so much more.

    my brand of minimalism

    parking+meters.jpg

    I love to read all the blogs by all these people who are living location independent lives – they travel the world, move their homes from place to place every few months, and seem to love every minute of it. I love the seeming simplicity of it all – pack everything you own into a backpack and head out!

    In reality, I would hate that kind of life. I like having my little space to call home, even if it is full of stuff I don’t necessarily want or need. I like thinking about gardening, growing stuff on our front porch and in our back yard. I crave a space to have kids in – hopefully soon – with my husband.

    And despite the fact that I’m not a fan of the 40-hour work week and all that my current job entails, I love the ritual of picking up Zach everyday in the car, chatting about our jobs on the way home. I love how we live our lives together to seamlessly, how things flow in these great rhythms and rituals we wouldn’t have if we were location independent.

    I also like the idea of being invested in people’s lives – in the lives of your neighbors and your friends, in the life of your city. If we were location independent, we wouldn’t be able to have my brother live with us for the summer, and we wouldn’t be able to spend quality time with our friends, living life together.

    So I’ll take my minimalism with a huge caveat – I want to stay where I am, lay down roots and build a family, a home, and a life that is set not just in my backpack, but also in the ground and the neighborhood and the city I call home. I’m paring down mightily, and hope to continue to live a more minimalist life with each passing day. But I also hope to grow plants, to container garden; I hope to have a few kids and all the mess they bring; I love that we are rooted, we have a physical space to call home, and our one little car we can take to visit friends and family whenever we want.

    I will never be a 100-thing or a 50-thing minimalist. My number of possessions, shared and otherwise, will always topple over in comparison. But I sure do like my brand of minimalism!

    Jun 7, 2010

    pdX hat (#75!)


    Say hello to hat #75 – the pdX hat! As part of a contest worked out with Omaha.net, I knit two of this hat – a pattern I worked up myself. The white hat is going in the box of hats to be sent to Nest:Maine, and the turquoise hat will be sent off to Kabira, the wonderful contest winner! As part of the contest, she got to help design the hat. Sharing her desire to have a non-ribbed brim, and her love of textured type hats, I came up with a design full of Xs – which look more like diamonds, really! – in one of her favorite colors! And with this, I am officially entering the home stretch!

    For those of you that are on Ravelry, you may have noticed I’ve gone ahead and planned out all but the last ten hats – I figure it’ll be easier if I can just look up which hat is next and grab the yarn for it, rather than having to spend a bunch of my knitting time figuring out which patterns to use. I’m excited for the next two-three months and all the knitting it will bring! I’m already planning some fun for the end of the project, figuring out my next knitting steps, and have tons to share in the coming months.

    Jun 3, 2010

    Promethean (#74)


    ** dollars not included**

    I think I'm still a bit behind with the hat knitting and posting, but with this wonderful hat, I'm on the cusp of 75! Promethean is made with a pocket on the side, and while the original pattern is knit with stripes, I wanted a simpler hat anyone could toss on with just about anything. And despite the fact that it's a tad bit too big for my noggin', I got exactly what I wanted! While the pocket isn't big enough to stash much, you can definitely toss a few extra bucks in there if you're headed out and don't want to have to bring too much.  

    Specs: Promethean, by Corrvin Smith; knit using Cascade 220 heathers in pink and size 8 bamboo needles.

    Jun 2, 2010

    Knitting Needle Organization Step One: Paring Down

    Not that long ago I woke up feeling super sick, unable to go to work. After taking a few naps and trying to make it to work in the afternoon {no luck there}, I set about finally tackling all the knitting needles I've amassed over the years.

    001.JPG

    This pile of needles, far too many for one knitter to use in her lifetime, needed not only organization but also paring down. Part of my year-long challenge is to pare down my knitting supplies to what I'll use regularly, and most of these needles just aren't fitting that bill.

    I've got everything from size 0 to size 15 in that pile, but truth be told I knit using sizes 5-10 and not much else. The few times I knit with smaller or larger needles, I hate the process and tend to abandon the project before it's even 1/4 done.

    With that knowledge in hand, I set about paring down. After bagging up all needles I couldn't identify, all metal DPNs, all straight needles, and any circs/wooden DPNs that weren't sizes 5-10, this is what I had taken out of my needle queue:
    One giant zippered bag, unable to close, full of needles! These, along with the holders pictured, are being stored for the next six months just in case, and then I'll donate whatever I don't dip into the bag to use.

    What I was left with was much less, and divided up much better.
    I divided my knitting needles into zippered bags by size so that I could easily locate what I wanted to use. After looking at how many needles I've got left, I'm pretty sure there's still some paring down that can happen as I work through my yarn and figure out better which of these needles aren't necessary, but this was a huge start!

    How do you organize your knitting needles? Do you find yourself using one or two sets repeatedly?

    Knitting Needle Organization Step One: Paring Down


    image from Coimbatore

    Not that long ago I woke up feeling super sick, unable to go to work. After taking a few naps and trying to make it to work in the afternoon {no luck there}, I set about finally tackling all the knitting needles I've amassed over the years. This pile of needles, far too many for one knitter to use in her lifetime, needed not only organization but also paring down.

    Part of my year-long challenge is to pare down my knitting supplies to what I'll use regularly, and most of these needles just aren't fitting that bill. I've got everything from size 0 to size 15 in that pile, but truth be told I knit using sizes 5-10 and not much else. The few times I knit with smaller or larger needles, I hate the process and tend to abandon the project before it's even 1/4 done.

    With that knowledge in hand, I set about paring down. After bagging up all needles I couldn't identify, all metal DPNs, all straight needles, and any circs/wooden DPNs that weren't sizes 5-10, I had taken one giant zippered bag, unable to close, out of my stash! These, along with the various needle holders I had amassed, are being stored for the next six months just in case, and then I'll donate whatever I don't dip into the bag to use.

    What I was left with was much less, and divided up much better. I divided my knitting needles into zippered bags by size so that I could easily locate what I wanted to use. After looking at how many needles I've got left, I'm pretty sure there's still some paring down that can happen as I work through my yarn and figure out better which of these needles aren't necessary, but this was a huge start! How do you organize your knitting needles? Do you find yourself using one or two sets repeatedly?

    Jun 1, 2010

    Made In: May 2010

    As part of my commitment to knit through my stash, I'm documenting what I'm knitting both here and over at One Hundred Hats. At the end of each month, I'm sharing this round-up, a collection of everything I've finished in the last month. This is May 2010.
    may+2010+mosaic.jpg
    This month I finished 11 projects:
    Totals: beginning of May: 181 skeins owned end of May: 171 skeins owned

    el hato (#73)


    As I eek closer and closer to my goal, I'm finding myself less and less motivated to knit brand new hats - I've fallen so in love with so many of the hat patterns I've already used, I've contemplated changing the rules of this thing in the home stretch to be able to knit a few of them a few more times! Which is probably why this wonderful hat pattern - both easy to follow and easy to knit - ended up taking me almost a week to complete!

    Now that its done, I'm in love with El Hato - simple design coupled with extraordinary warmth means this hat will be a wonderful addition to someone's wardrobe. I've got my list of hats to knit queued up to #81 - hopefully this planning ahead will help keep me from getting sick of what I'm knitting and keep me on track! It's definitely not for lack of amazing hat patterns that I find myself struggling to put yarn to needles!  

    Specs: El Hato, by Julia Trice {free Ravelry download}; knit using Reynold's Lite Lopi on size 6 and 8 bamboo needles.