Saturday, January 21, 2012

If you love it so much, why don't you knit it?

Random scarfThis is something I've been wondering lately as the new year has arrived.

It's not really a stash-busting impulse, but I suppose it can be viewed that way.

I've just been thinking of all the lovely yarn in my hoard.

I go to local yarn stores and I go to fiber festivals and I see yarn that I just can't live without.
That yarn comes home with me and then proceeds to languish in the dining room credenza.

Feeling alone and unloved. Well, alone except for the all the other languishing yarn.

Lucy Neatby uses the slogan "make your yarn happy, knit it." And I remember my mom saying about various things as I was growing up that it was "their life's ambition" to be used in the way they meant. (This could apply to anything from a doughnut wanting to be eaten to nice shoes wanting to be worn).

 Love and UFOs

There is supposed to be a coorelation.

You hear knitters and crocheters all the time talking about getting bored with their current WIP and wanting to start something new and they don't know why.

The consensus is that if you really love the yarn and the pattern this won't happen. And when it does happen, people usually say you must have learned what you need to from that pattern and are ready to move on.

This phenomenon is partly behind my impulse to knit small projects this year so I can finish them. But, really, I just want to finish things.

But then I thought if I use some of these yarns in my hoard that I'm so in love with maybe that boredome won't set in.

On the other hand maybe what I need to be doing is sticking with mindless projects I don't have to focus on.

After all, look how quickly I finished the Electric Bunny Sweater.

Drawing the Line
This was all going through my head as I was finishing the Electric Bunny Sweater and beginning to contemplate my next project.

Should I try to finsh on of my WIPs that was approaching UFO status? Or should I use one of my "precious" yarns that I just had to have at the time? If those yarns were so compelling, why was I avoiding them?

And I decided to go for it.

The first weekend in December Hubby and I went to Portland, Maine.

He was taking a wine appreciation class so was locked away all day. I was along for the ride and ran loose in the Old Port area of the city. I was able to track down three yarn stores to visit.

Including Tess' Designer Yarns. Now back in, oh, 2005, Cynthia gave me a hank of Tess' hand painted silk...which I haven't knit up yet. Just terrible. See what I'm talking about? These poor neglected yarns.


She does lovely stuff and I came home with a hank of Kitten, a 65% Cashmere, 35% Silk blend that is just to die for and cost a pretty penny to boot.

I brought it home and tossed it in the dining room credenza to join all the other precious, expensive yarn I don't actually use.

But when the Electric Bunny Sweater was finished I said, "Enough!" and I got out the Kitten. And I told myself I would not complicate things. I would not find a pattern with lace or cables or something else that would slow down my progress.

I would just knit the damn yarn. And then I would wear it. And the ownership of it would be justified.

Random Scarf
So I present to you the Random Scarf. Eleven days from start to finish. It would have been less if I didn't have a couple false starts.

First I cast on 100 sts and decided it didn't look good and was too short. That was fairly annoying because I'd done a knitted cast on, which took forever, because I didn't want to guess for a long tail.

Then I accidentally cast on 50 sts and decided that was too wide and would get annoying.

Finally I cast on 400 sts (I was aiming for 300, but decided to use the entire tail because I wasn't doing another dang knitted cast on).

Then I just knit. I alternated stockinette with reverse stockinette and drop stitches and I didn't sweat it.

It also would have been finished sooner if the cast off hadn't taken two or three days.

The end of the yarn was approaching as I was working a double wrap row. I decided to listen to the frantic little voice that kept saying, "You aren't going to make it!" and picked it out.

I knit a regular row and started casting off. The frantic little voice came back and got all smug when I ran out of yarn half way through.

Do you know how much of a pain picking out a cast off is? Then I had to unpick the last row to have enough yarn.

Finally I cast off using one size larger needles, but it still came out a little tight. All the ladies in Library knitting said to blow it off, so I did. Since I was supposed to be relaxed about it.

I ended up with more leftover yarn than I expected since I'd run out before. I couldn't bring myself to clip it off so I worked a crab stitch with it along the cast off end. Only made it about half way, but noone whould be close enough to my scarf to know that but me!

Anyway. It was pretty cool to not only use up some precious yarn so quickly but to actually finish a scarf. (Scarves usually bore me to tears.)

I'm on to my next precious yarn. I was thinking of using the Maple Creek Farm Fredricksburg that I'd bought at Rhinebeck in 2010 and have actually used to cast on a sweater. But the Merino/Silk blend I bought at Ellen's Half Pint Farm during the 2011 New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival has been calling my name since it joined the family.

So I'm going to go for the Spring Pansy. My reasoning is that the NHSW is in May, which is right around the corner, while Rhinebeck is in October.

After all, I'll have to prioritize these lovely yarns somehow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Lack Of Tact

Not all knit and crochet patterns can be free!

If they were all free then designers would get other jobs because they couldn't pay their bills and then where would we all be?!

Phew. Sorry. Third post in my attempt to start blogging again and I go with a rant. But I just had to get that off my mind.

It's a debate that has been held before and will be held again and I probably won't add anything new to the conversation, but I think it's stuff that needs to be said.

I don't know if it's that our society has developed a culture of entitlement that causes people to not want to pay for thing or respect other people's efforts.

Or if the internet is to blame because people expect things on the internet to be free and they aren't.

Or if people are just spoiled brats.

But this expectation that all patterns are going to be free really gets on my nerves sometimes. And the annoyance builds up and eventually boils over.

I could bitch to Hubby about it, and he would listen, but I'm not sure how much he'd truly understand my complaint, so it's not very satisfying.

And I can't always say it to the people pissing me off for a variety of reasons.

Mainly because I'm annoyed enough to say it I won't say it politely.

That would be bad because I don't want to get into a debate with them because chances are they'll be closed minded and not willing to listen to reason (no, that isn't kind and is a sweeping generalization, but it shows you how annoyed I am that I'm being closed minded myself.).

And, of course, when you aren't polite you end up alienating people and that is contrary to all of my goals.

So I keep it bottled up and end up waking up at 3 am because it's just one more thing on my mind then I remember I have a blog, which is my personal opinion and a bully pulpit and I can declare...

Not all knit and crochet patterns can be free and you should stop expecting them to be!

Don't get me wrong.

I like free patterns as much as the next knitter and have quite a collection of them.
But I also purchase patterns. I buy books. I buy magazines. I buy individual patterns.
I appreciate the fact that someone went to the effort of figuring it out, writing it down, and making it available so I don't have to.

I have also not bought patterns.
I have not bought patterns that I know I could figure out for myself.
I have not bought patterns that I think are lovely but know I wouldn't make or wear.
But I haven't not bought a pattern because I think it should be free.

There are two type of "it should be free" people who annoy me. There might be more types of them, but here are the two I want to slap.

The ones who sniff and say "I could design that."
Well, sure, you probably could, but don't go making noise about it. You are A) not helping anyone and B) undercutting the designer.

Someone worked long and hard to design that pattern and get it to a state that another person could use to create the object and it's not polite to loudly announce that you are going to, basically, steal their idea without offering any thanks.

I mean, if you're going to do that, at least do it quietly.
We're talking intellectual property here. And I appreciate that you can't own an idea. And I appreciate that an experienced knitter or crocheter can probably look at pictures of a finished object and replicate it, I've probably done it myself, but for goodness sake don't brag about it.

I think I'm not getting to the heart of my complaint here.....Yes, you can duplicate it by looking at it, but you didn't think of it until you saw the designer's version so shouldn't you show some appreciation?

Isn't that inspiration worth something?

The ones who can't design it for themselves.
 They don't have the ambition, knowledge, or skills to design their own patterns but they want all pattern to be free.

This shows a serious lack of appreciation for the designer's time and effort.

As I mentioned, it takes a lot of time and effort to dream up a design, work it up, write it down in a way that other people can understand, get it tested, and produce and distribute the finished pattern.

And if you're talking about a garment with multiple sizes, well the time involved just escalates.

Part of this might just be ignorance (as in a lack of understanding).
Having never designed a pattern themselves they don't appreciate what goes into it.
Or they might have made up a project but never written the pattern down in a comprehensible fashion so they don't realize how hard that part can be.
It might be possible to show some of these people the light. It might be possible to say, "Hey, it takes a week of 8 hour days (i.e., a full time job) to make that pattern you don't want to buy," and they'll say, "Oh, I didn't realize! Here is my money. Thanks for creating such a lovely pattern for me to make."
Or they might be unimpressed and still expect it for free.

We're partially to blame.
Depending on what you're trying to sell, free patterns are a key component.

Designers might offer a few free patterns to introduce people to their designs.

Book publishers offer free patterns to entice people to buy the book.

Yarn manufacturers offer free patterns because their goal is to sell yarn.

I have a few free patterns of projects that seemed so simple or generic that there didn't seem a point in trying to sell them. Something so basic that I was sure other free versions already existed. But even those patterns took me a few hours to create.

But the internet, the internet is a key to this free pattern expectation.

The internet, as a free publishing platform, allows anyone, with or without design experience or expertise, to post a free pattern.

Some of these patterns will be very good. Some of them will be very bad.

You would think the bad ones would make people more willing to pay for patterns with the expectation that they went through a more rigorous editing process. (And, yes, I've seen the shouting online about errors in magazines and books, but come on, we're only human and humans make mistakes so cut people some slack.)

But, anyway, it seems to me that people are being groomed to expect free patterns at every turn and we must stop that.

There must be a way to get them to understand that some patterns are free and others you have to buy.

And to get them to appreciate that fact.

And to make them understand in a tactful way that won't piss them off.

After all, some restaurants give a free dessert on your birthday, but you don't expect it every day of the year, right?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Done: Electric Bunny Sweater

Electric Bunny Sweater done I suppose this would be the first finished object of 2012, but that just doesn't seem right since most of the knitting was done in 2011.

In fact, the sweater was really basically done on New Year's Eve, I just had to seam the underarms and ran out of time before we went out and about. The knitting was done. The ends were woven it. There were just two inconvenient holes.

We had a nice, quite New Year's Eve with some family. We have a niece about 45 minutes south of us and she had her parents and siblings over as well. Just some finger food and Hubby brought a bottle of sparking wine.

Anyway, when we finally woke up on January 1 I took the time to finish it off.

I was a little concerned about the seaming since the fabric in that area is fairly pastel and the yarn I was using was dark purple and white. Happily, like any good mattress stitch seam, the purple yarn was swallowed up and is mostly invisible. Yippee!

The colors are fairly accurate in this picture. You can't see that the sleeves are slightly different in both color intensity and sequence, but I think that is part of the charm.

Electric Bunny detailThe yarn is hand dyed and spun so there are slight variations. And, actually, it does run through from bright primary to slightly softer.

I knit the right sleeve first, with the orange band at the top. When it came to the left sleeve I considered trying to make them match, but it would have involved a lot of cutting and reconfiguring of yarn and I decided against it. I figured with the yellow start the sleeves would be similar enough.

Besides, how annoying would it have been if I'd gone through all that effort and they still hadn't matched, right?

In addition to being a finished project that is warm and snuggly, this sweater is knit from Rhinebeck yarn.


I'm very proud of myself for having used the yarn in the same year I bought it. haha!

Project Recap
Yarn: that I bought at Rhinebeck.
I used about a skein and a half of her standard rainbow/white yarn for the yoke and cuffs. (The yoke took one entire skein.)

Electric Bunny finishedalign="left" hspace="5" vspace="5"The body and sleeves are in a custom color she spun for me that is a more solid rainbow. The color changes are more gradual with just slight overlaps where the color transitions from one to the next.

I had 4 skeins of the custom color. I used about 2.5 or 3 skeins. (Which is to say I have one entire skein leftover and about 1/4 each of the two skeins I used for the sleeves.)

So the fourth skein, which was an insurance skein, wasn't needed. But I'm happy I had it. If I'd been knitting the sleeves, watching the skeins decrease, I would have been sweating.

Needles: US 10 for the body. US 8 for the ribbings.

Pattern: My own design. Based on the principles outlined in Righette’s Sweater Design in Plain English and Bernard’s Custom Knits.

For now the leftover yarn will be put into stash, but I'm thinking I'll make another cropped poncho with it.

I considered a triangular shawl, but when I free-form those I'm not usually happy with the results. And scarves bore me to tears. And I really like my cropped poncho. And I think the yarn should be used for something I can snuggle into.

Well, knitting production is off to a good start. On to the next project!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Backward and Forward

New Year's Day.

A day for resolutions and goal setting.

I do my best not to fall into that. I try to keep the mindset that every day is a day to improve and make changes.

Not that I always follow through on that.

But, as we've already established, I'm susceptible to peer pressure so a few vague resolutions always get made.

To be a better person.

To be more organized.

To practice better time management.

Unfortunately, these seem to be the same resolutions I make each year. But aren't they all?

Knitting resolutions are easier to make, partly because there is usually more hope that they will be fulfilled.

This year I shall resolve to knit more.

Oh, sure, we all say that and we all mean it, but it has new meaning this year. I swear that I have less knitting time since we moved to New Hampshire.

I'm really not sure how that is working out since I'm supposed to have more free time considering I don't have a commute any more. Apparently I'm managing to suck up that time in other activities which don't include knitting.

tsk tsk.


 I am also resolving to blog more. Looking back at the blog archives for 2011 I'm appalled at the low number, which is about half of previous years. 

We can laugh at this goal considering how badly I crashed and burned during that November blogging challenge. Two whole posts. Ha!

Of course this goes right back to that time management goal.

It's not that I haven't had stuff to blog about. It's a matter of taking the time to sit down and do it.

I suppose all these goals speak to being more mindful of how I'm spending my time.

But those two goals also go hand in hand. If I'm going to blog more I'm going to have to knit more.

According to my Ravelry project--although I wasn't blogging I was at least putting information into Ravelry--I completed 24 projects in 2011. Actually I think it's 28 as I made four Christmas ornaments that I didn't enter into Ravelry.

In what turns out was a moment of over ambition, I had declared 2011 the Year of the Sweater.

That was a massive bust as I only ended up finishing two sweaters! The Green Schleppy Sweater and The Electric Bunny Sweater.

To my credit I did work on both the Yellow Lace Top and the Three Lace Cardigan.

Can't tell you what happened with this sweater resolution business last year aside from pointing your to my comments about having less knitting time last year.

Think Small

Having learned my lesson I'm declaring 2012 the Year of Small Projects.

I think focusing on projects that have short term completion dates will be more satisfying. Something to show for my efforts.

Also, I'm concerned that of my 24 projects last year only five of them were socks! One of those pairs was started a few years before.

I need more socks. Aside from all those socks I darned recently two more pairs exploded. My sock production has fallen behind and my wardrobe is feeling the pain.

Additionally, I have a ton of lovely sock yarn to begging to be knit. I know sock yarn doesn't count as stash, but it can still get lonely.

Not to mention finally having found yarn for my Autumn Road Socks, and those two fancy kits I bought a Rhinebeck two years ago.

Yes, socks will be a priority this year.

So, where does that leave us?

Knit more.

Blog more.

Focus on small projects.

Focus on socks.

Sounds doable.

What knitting or crocheting goals are you setting this year?