Overzealous Crafting

Made this little guy last night. I took those dumb leftovers from these socks separated all the different colors into balls (which admittedly probably took longer than the actual knitting…) and made this little stocking. I got a little carried away this morning with the embellishments but hey, now it’s festive.

Not sure if this one is worth writing a pattern for but I’m tempted to make a new one every night until Christmas until my tree is covered in dumb little stockings. But I also have cookies that need to be baked, actual things I should be knitting, and a sewing project all before christmas so we’ll see..

#WIP WEDNESDAY and NEW PATTERN!

Turning thoughts into things! Turns out it’s pretty cool to re-knit old things you’ve made. It’s crazy what a few years of experience will do. I remade that little santa stocking I talked about here and turned it into a little pattern. The new ones look way better than the old one if I do say so myself. My yarn choice/needle size is more effective and I used a duplicate stitch for the buckle instead of trying to knit it straight into the pattern. The pattern is available in my Ravelry Store if you’re looking for a quick little stash busting project. Also a great last minute gift for those people on your list who aren’t exactly knit-worthy but aren’t quite on your no-knit list this year.

Now my brain is buzzing with other little ornaments I could make which hopefully don’t involve a trip to the yarn store… We’ll see what I can come up with tonight!

Little Morning Rambles

So far the weirdest part about staying up all night and sleeping during the day is drinking. There’s nothing super weird about having a beer or a glass of wine before bed, lots of people do it, I used to do it regularly. It somehow feels very weird and a little taboo to have a glass of wine before bed when bedtime happens to be about 10:30 in the morning. Taboo or not, I’m going to enjoy my glass of wine today while I sit in my sunny spot and watch the snow sparkle outside.

Avoidance Projects

I set up my little christmas tree this weekend, which really doesn’t involve that much work considering it came pre-lit and I safety pinned a few ornaments onto it the first year I got it (partly to keep the cat from getting them off, partly because I had a lot of safety pins and no paper clips to make hooks from). So the thing is basically ready to go out of the box I just needed to straighten out some branches and put the little stand back on and plug it in. Boom done. I decorated. I also found a tiny little stocking ornament I made and had forgotten about. 33474e3a-332d-4d73-b530-69bc62a118d1

It’s pretty wonky and I was very new to sock making when I made it, but I’m thinking about making a few more and maybe putting a pattern together before christmas. Aside from the buckle it would probably only take an hour or two to finish and they would look super cute tied to the top of presents.

I wonder what other little things I could knit for my tiny little tree to avoid all the knitting I’m supposed to be doing. All the best projects come out of avoiding something else!

FOs and WIPS

I got sucked into video games this week. There’s something so inviting about a dumb little digital world where everything makes sense and little creatures tell you what to do with your time.

ab3154b3-c0de-48f1-b857-480c00f4b54cI also managed to finish another pair of socks for the holidays. Halfway through knitting I ran out of yarn which is more annoying when you’re using variegated yarn. Out of three skeins, I now have about 40 grams broken up into 6 stupid little bundles of yarn trying to get both socks to match. They look pretty close now that they’re off the needles – enough that no one would really notice, but the pattern repeat was about two and a half rows off when I was knitting (which drove me up the wall). I spent a good amount of time matching up the yarn and starting the cast on from exactly the same point on each sock. I don’t know why it shifted. They’re identical mathematically, I would assume they have the same gauge – I’m not sure how they wouldn’t because I knit them both at the same time. Besides the shifted colors, these knit up pretty quickly because I was excited to see what the next color section was, which is I guess why people like self striping yarns.

f1616cc5-996f-40b2-bdbb-9d7b3012ff67I also started working on an infinity scarf for my sister. I asked her if she had any requests for a gift this year because I’ve knit her quite a few things over the years and she’s pretty particular (read: picky). She told me a “basic-ass infinity scarf” that she could wear to work – something that would go with most of her outfits – so gray. I found a lightly spun, lustrous gray yarn that’s once again variegated. I’m using needles that are two sizes larger than recommended so the texture stitch is coming out a bit lacy and has a nice drape. This one is very mindless knit so it’s going pretty quickly.

 

Anybody else feeling the gifting deadlines yet? It’s getting to the point where I feel like I have to be knitting, not that I get to be knitting.

A Stitch in Time, Saves Nine

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 29 & 30

What’s your name on Ravelry? If you don’t have a Ravelry account, why?

I’m lumping these two together and then the list is finished! I am mcglarin on Ravelry, where you can creep on all of my projects. This is actually a good spot to see if there’s an upcoming pattern I’m designing because I use the project page to keep track of a lot of info. If you’re interested in the patterns I’ve designed and have available for purchase I am Kristen McLaren Designs on Ravelry as well.

Do you have any tips, or things that you’ve learned from knitting?

There’s so much stuff to learn when it comes to knitting. There’s about 10 different ways to accomplish the same thing and what you do mostly depends on who you learned it from. I’m not going to go into technical things right here, I’ll save them for a future blog post maybe, but here’s a few things I’ve learned in my years of knitting:

WRITE IT DOWN 

I can’t even tell you how many times I wish I kept better notes about something. I always assume I’m going to remember exactly what I’ve done. Part of my brain knows I won’t which is precisely why I knit most things two-at-a-time because at least they’ll match even if the next pair won’t. I’m going to work on getting better at this though because it tends to make more work for me when I’m trying to publish a pattern later and I can’t remember which way I started the heel or something.

STAY ORGANIZED

This kind of goes along with writing everything down but it more applies to yarn. I recently re-balled, weighed out, and bagged up most of my knitting stash. Everything is labeled now and protected from any hungry moth creatures. I’ve also tried to be diligent about adding my new yarn to the stash page on Ravelry and also adding yardage and yarn info to projects so that it automatically updates my stash page (SO HELPFUL). This way I know pretty much exactly what I have and if I’m out shopping I can easily pick up more of something or I can remember which yarns I really didn’t like working with and to find something different for next time.

DON’T SKIP THE SWATCH

This is something I begrudgingly started doing after too many projects ended up being a let down due to size. It seems like such a bother when you want to jump right into a project but as they say ” A stitch in time saves nine.” Not only is swatching just good for checking that your gauge is correct, it’s also good to practice the stitch pattern and to check that you like the drape or feel of the fabric it makes. Knitting those four inches seems like such a pain, but it’s a lot less painful than ripping out half a sweater that you already know isn’t going to fit.

EMBRACE THE FROG

I am a notorious ripper-outer. If I don’t like how something is going I will rip that shit out. Part of this is perfectionism but why wouldn’t I want something I made to be perfect? I’ve ripped out entire projects in front of other people and the sheer horror in their eyes brings me a secret joy. Basically my philosophy on the subject is: if I know I’m not going to like it why would I finish it? Spending 40 hours making something you’re not going to wear is way worse, in my opinion, than frogging a project half way through and then spending 60 or 80 hours re-making it knowing you’re going to love it.

Life Long Maker

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 28

Do you do any other crafts besides knitting? What are they, and did learning to knit come before or after learning these other crafts?

These kinds of prompts are fun for me because I get to spend half an hour digging through all the photos on my computer (wishing they were actually organized..) and relive a bunch of memories and shitty hair cuts.

I have been creative from very early on in life. I spent a lot of time playing with Lincoln Logs and Legos and was lucky enough to get piles of art kits as gifts for most of my life. I was also fortunate enough to go to a Montessori school where my creativity was not only encouraged but fed with new skills. We were taught to make crochet chains with our fingers by age three (what an excellent way to build fine motor skills while also keeping a group of preschoolers quiet), we also learned to do basic running stitch embroidery by age 4. From there I hit the ground running. IMG_0061My mom tells this story of me around age 4 that I vaguely remember; she walked into the kitchen to find me sitting at the table where I had traced, cut and was now sewing an entire outfit for my doll by hand without help. I remember not being able to get the shirt over her giant doll head so I cut up the back of the shirt and used yarn to lace it back up for an edgy and decorative and reusable closure. Textile things have always come easy to me, and I’ve always enjoyed them. Lanyard keychains and friendship bracelets were basically my shit in the late 90’s.

10391654_1190185527029_8038564_nI majored in art in high school, mainly paintings and print making but I did crochet myself a full human spine out of plastic bags which was pretty cool. From there I went to art school and fully developed my love (obsession) with all things fibers and textiles. The main philosophy of the school was to teach you from the ground up. So for textiles we learned to dye our own yarn and fabric, we learned to make our own yarn and fabric and from there we basically could do anything we wanted. I really really liked weaving. The meticulous threading process, spending hours hunched over the back of the loom threading hundreds of threads through the reed and heddles. During my weaving course I taught myself how to knit (we didn’t really have a knitting course at that time, and by the time they added one I far surpassed the knowledge range of the teacher on that particular subject). I also learned to quilt at the end of my senior year. This class was only offered once a year and each year I never seemed to have time for it in my schedule. I’m so grateful I was able to fit it in, but I wish I could have learned sooner, if I had my trajectory might have been very different. These are some of my favorite pieces from the end of art school. The top two are from my senior show in which my partner and I studied the duality and dichotomy of silk moths and wool eating moths. One moth is lauded for created fiber and one moth is loathed for consuming it. (Top Image is a silk grid on a silk screen with a projection of silk moths spinning cocoons, middle image is a woven wool screen with handspun wool grid covered in different food stuffs used to encourage different larva to eat the screen – we were NOT ALLOWED to bring wool moths into a fiber department for obvious and disappointing reasons).

02_Lepidopteric_Dichotomy_Production01_Lepidopteric_Dichotomy_Decay

This image is of a very large quilt I made and cherish. It’s a lone star quilt with a hand dyed gradient and hand quilting with hand dyed matching thread. My sister still has the actual  images she took for me but I’ve never seen them.

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Since then space has been a little limited, so its hard to produce large works and life gets in the way of spending 200 hours laboring over one project. IMG_1275I’ve made some smaller wall quilts and other little things, but mostly focused on knitting. My new house has a tiny extra bedroom that I’m using as a sewing/craft room but my loom is definitely not going to get in there. We have a mud room with great light that I might end up using once we get the giant couch out of there. I would love to be able to weave again. I do have some quilting and sewing projects lined up in the mean-time.

Yarn, Yarn, and more Yarn

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 27

How do you acquire most of yarn? Online retailers, local yarn shops, swaps, or large chain craft stores? What’s your favorite?

IMG_0446I spent a solid twenty minutes digging up this photo. This is my weaving stash in the summer of 2014.. I started collecting yarn out of the yarn closet at school. There was a lot of junky yarn in that closet, most of it was donated by old ladies or mill companies sending us mill ends or discontinued items. I spent quite a bit of time in that closet going through all the yarn and picking out the good stuff. I sort of had a knack for it.

Since then I’ve mostly gotten my yarn from box stores. It’s what’s available, it’s what’s affordable, and I’ve been able to make a lot of it work. I like supporting LYS or indie dyers but its just not financially sustainable considering how much I knit. If I’m in a good rhythm I can usually finish most projects in a weeks time. I’ve ordered some yarn from online retailers but I really do like to be able to touch everything and match up the colors in person before I buy it. For more of my thoughts on yarn check out this post from a few weeks ago.

I do miss dying my own yarn. I’ve been toying with the idea of finding a sock yarn I can purchase in bulk and dying my own skeins. I don’t have any wool dyes left (besides the stash of vegetable matter clogging up my mother’s freezer) and I would need to buy a big kettle designated as a dye pot, but otherwise it’s sounding like a better and better idea. The ability to make any color I want is a skill I sorely miss taking advantage of.

 

Anti-social Knitters Club

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 26

Have you ever been a part, or wanted to be a part of a knit-a-long? What was it? If not, why?

I have never done a knit-a-long. I’ve seen them around but they never really interested me, especially the mystery knit-a-longs. I like to know what I’m making before I start making it. I can see where the group deadline dynamic would be helpful for some people, but I don’t often need motivation to knit. I also don’t see myself enjoying ‘knit nights’ or stitch and bitches. I just have too much social anxiety to enjoy that kind of a situation, especially going into it cold. I don’t really hang out with any other knitters. I use knitting as a way to check out most of the time – putting myself in those situations would basically have the opposite effect I’m going for.

Are Anti-Social Knitting Clubs a thing? Can we make it a thing? Like we all just binge watch the same season of something at the same time from the comfort and safety of our beds and couches?

Short one today, but I’m almost through all of the prompts. I can’t believe that tomorrow is already December (and also my birthday…). I’m really not a birthday kind of person, in fact I rather dread them.

Lacking Motivation

de80c55b-4e01-411b-88c8-473fcaf1977fMy sleep schedule has bee absolute garbage for like two weeks now. I’ve been getting like four hours at a time and I’ve just been falling asleep at random times and not being able to wake up. It’s making motivation to do anything rather difficult, but here’s a little WIP for Wednesday (it is Wednesday, right?) I spent all of Monday trying to stay awake and managed to knit all the way to the heels on a set of socks. My needle is just a smidge to small for two at a time mens socks, so it’s taking a little extra hand power and after about 20 hours of pretty much straight knitting my hands are not pleased.

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 25

Do you have a knitting book or a place where you keep patterns, ideas, size measurements? Post a picture of it!

I really should have a knitting book. I have a book for just about everything else. I have a quilting book, I’ve been keeping a bullet journal, and I have one for notes for my tech knitting course, but not one single place to keep knitting things. It would probably make my life a lot easier. I mostly just have hundreds of random sticky notes all over the place. Nothing is labeled, they’s usually only half of the information I could want on them and I lose them constantly. It’s a pretty dumb system for someone who writes knitting patterns but so far it seems to work. I’m pretty good at reading my own knitting and have a weird sensory memory when it comes to patterns. I can pretty much see in my brain what I’ve done which helps when writing things out later. It would however make things much simpler to write everything down as I’m actually doing it. Maybe I’ll get a new book in January and start keeping everything in the same place…

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