Hitting the Reset Button

Wow.  That was, uhm, quite a year.

I am alive…but it’s been a rough last several months.  Without going into much detail, since this is a crafting blog and not a “here’s my personal life” blog, my marriage ended in October and I have been spending the past few months re-decorating (I kept the house) and trying to find motivation to re-start some of the hobbies I love.

Christmas was lovely.  Shireen and Tito came to see me as did my friend Opal.  My brother and his partner were home from Vancouver and I saw a lot of my parents and some family and family friends.

New Year’s Eve, after struggling for the previous few months, I made the decision to start the year on new footing, and have picked up my crafting again.

I knit a Bandana Cowl for me to go with a new jacket I bought because I lost so much weight over the past year that it was an embarrassment.

cowl

I finished this pair of mitts as a test knit for Kate Atherley.

mitts

I am on the gussets of the second sock for my dad, made from yarn I dyed myself a deep teal-y green last autumn before everything fell to pieces.

sock

I have also signed up for dance classes that start tonight…and am contemplating a second dance class that starts Sunday.  I figure they’ll get me out of the house and back doing one more thing that I used to love, but inexplicably gave up.

And in the midst of all of this, I released two new patterns (they are part of the indigodragonfly SAK/WD club for the month of October) and didn’t even blog about them.  I was thrilled with how they turned out when I submitted them, but at the time they were released I had other things on my mind.  I will try and post those shortly.

Welcome 2016!  May you kick the ass of 2015 in every possible way.

I Knew I Was Having a Slow Year….

I really had no idea how little I had accomplished from a crafting standpoint until, on a whim, I looked at my FOs for the year.

Considering I have, for the past several years, completed in the neighbourhood of 25 knitted projects over the span of the year, I’d say calling this one slow is a massive understatement.

I have, to date in 2015, completed exactly five projects.  This is unheard of.  I should be at a minimum of 14 by now, if I were on track for a “usual” year.  And in fact, two of these five are not even officially in the FO list because they have not been blocked and photographed.

Now, in my defence, there are other things I have been doing from a creative point of view.

I am in the midst of a sooper seekrit project that I cannot talk about for another while yet.

I have taken up hand dyeing and have dyed up about 20 skeins (plus a single braid of fibre) this summer…plus I have more undyed yarn winging its way to me as we speak.

I have done some spinning (although no plying and as such have also added almost no spinning FOs to my list, either!).  This is a lovely indigodragonfly braid I started for Tour de Fleece (don’t even get me started on how badly I did in keeping up with TdF this year!  Downright embarrassing…)

I took a sewing class, although, if I am honest I haven’t done a whole lot of that either.

And I sure as heck haven’t been blogging!

I wonder where my year has gone….?  Looks like I am going to have to get a severe case of finish-itis if I am going to make any progress this year at all.

The other option, I suppose, is to stop forcing it and just craft when I feel like it.  That’s a valid lifestyle choice, right?

Productivity Continues

So, it’s day 3 without Facebook and with decidedly less social media.

There have been stumbling blocks.

Last night, for instance, I was feeling lazy and merely substituted Twitter for Facebook.  It did the two things I was trying desperately to avoid: 1) wasted copious amounts of time and 2) made me aware of the horrible abuse of animals in another country, which upset me.  So, it seems this whole avoiding social media while still keeping up with the people I care about is going to take some tweaking.

On the bright side, I spent some quality time knitting yesterday morning, out in the beautiful sunshine, and the leg of my mom’s black Petty Harbour sock is growing a few 4-row repeats at a time. I promised them to her for autumn and I’ll never hear the end of it if they’re not ready! ;-)

Today, I am very pleased.  I finally got my Lendrum outside on the back deck and did some spinning before I started my workday.

IMG_2970I, then, cleaned the kitchen and hung out a load of laundry on the clothesline.  Mmmm…air dried sheets.

And before starting work for the day, I put a skein of yarn on to dye.

orangeToday’s experiment…orange.  This is following my last attempt at orange that wound up scarlet.  Insufficient yellow was my diagnosis so this is attempt number 2.

There really is something to be said for feeling like you’re accomplishing something.

Crafting (or lack thereof) on the East Coast

This blog post started off as “Wow, I have been so busy” post.  Until I realized that, really, I hadn’t really been all that creative from a crafting standpoint lately.

Okay…not entirely true.  I’ve knit a few rows here and there, and I have spun up a batt and started a new braid of fibre earlier this week.  I bought a sewing machine and took up sewing, but I am pretty sure if not for the involvement of my Mom and my friend Karen, that the machine would still be collecting dust in the corner, and I’d have the most expensive pair of pyjama pants on the planet.

Otherwise, I haven’t really felt like I have accomplished much in recent weeks.  When I looked at my internet habits, I located a large part of the answer to the question, “Why the heck not?”.  I realized that I lose hours a day to social media.  And I wish to God I were exaggerating.  The worst (although not nearly only) time sink occurs in the mornings.  I wake up, reach for my iPad or iPhone and lose every bit of 60-90 minutes checking social media, before I even make it out of bed.  Instagram, Twitter, Ravelry, Pinterest, and by far the biggest time suck of all…Facebook.  Facebook, dear readers, is seriously killing my creativity.

First off, it’s the unbelievable amount of time it takes to read everyone’s statuses, and admire C’s artfully crafted café photo, R’s picture of her daughter at her recital and T’s picture of her beach vacation.  Then there’s the clickbait articles that take me down a completely different rabbit hole, from which it takes me ages to return.  And then…there’s the comments.  Internet Rule Number 1: NEVER read the comments.  A cardinal rule I break every. single. time.  A rule that, when I break it, seriously leaves me wondering about the future of humanity.

Then there’s the impact some of the stuff I read on my mood and psyche.  These are mostly sad animal stories, that, as an animal lover, just take all the good right out of me, but there certainly are lots of others that just leave me sad and morose.

I read a quote yesterday: “It’s amazing how long it takes to complete something we’re not working on.”.  So I made a decision.  I am seriously curtailing my Facebook use…in fact, for the next few days, I am avoiding it altogether.  Other media may follow, although I will likely stick with Instagram as it eats up far less time than the others and inspires me with all the pretty pictures.  And you’ll have to pry my Ravelry login out of my cold dead hands (brain?).  But I digress…

This morning was officially Day 1 (even though I signed off Facebook mid-day yesterday) and when I woke up, took 2 minutes to check my email.  Then, wonder of wonders, I actually got up, went downstairs, sat at my wheel and spun.

JulieSpins Braid of Merino Silk in Black Cherry Blossom

JulieSpins Braid of Merino Silk in Black Cherry Blossom

Amazing.

Who knew that actually working on something meant you’d, you know, get more done?

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other….

One of these things just doesn’t belong.

I have spent the last week or so doing experiments in hand dyeing yarn.  Right now, I am just kettle dyeing as I don’t have the set up in my studio for hand painting yet.  (Oh, it’s coming…the day is fast approaching…)

Colour theory is fascinating…sometimes you need a lot less of one colour than another, when you are blending to make a third.  Sometimes, when you don’t read the label and use the “wrong” red, surprising, beautiful things happen.

IMG_2841Sometimes, when you vary the process on Experiment #4, something turns out differently.

IMG_0469See that green in the top right corner?  NOT what I had in mind, and not at all in keeping with the first three skeins.  I got the colour all wrong AND I changed one little step in the process.  As a result (I think) and it came out nearly entirely solid, save for that weird little yellow splotch.  Definitely not a keeper.  Back into the dye bath with ye.

And it overdyed into this wonderful colourway:

FullSizeRender(2)It’s actually my favourite so far, I think.  (Although that red-purple is really gorgeous!)  The question now is, could I ever replicate it?  Unlikely but it might be fun to try.

Wonder what’s on this evening’s experiment docket?

IMG_2866

I know…Orange!!

A Grand Delivery

A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to allot some money to “play”.  We each had a specified amount to spend and I thought, “What would I like to buy from this newfound wealth?”  He bought a new iPad Air, but frankly, except for the fact that I’d like it to have a larger capacity, I could not justify a new iPad.

So I started thinking, what crafting supplies have I wanted but have yet to spend the money to purchase?  It hit me…supplies for two of my lesser practiced skills….designing and dyeing.

So I ordered some stitch dictionaries to round out my collection, and I picked up some acid dye powder. I also snagged 20 skeins of undyed merino nylon sport yarn (which if I am to be completely honest, I’ll admit were supposed to be sock yarn) and a few batches of undyed fibre.

Yesterday, the box showed up at the door.

IMG_0986So many exciting things to have fun with, once I got to the end of my workday!

IMG_0992

So after dinner, hubby went off to his night shift and I decided my first attempt was going to be a pine-y green from the six colours that were in my “starter” kit.

IMG_0994

I still have the liquid dyes but I really want to transition over to these so I figured I may as well get started.

So I added the colours and turned on the slow cooker.  Mental note to self…cooker works better when actually plugged in….*sigh*

When I was done with the stirring, I added the yarn and it occurred to me that I was going to be sad with the result.  After all, I had made a point to make sure the dye bath was totally homogeneous so now I was going to have solid green, right?  And I really didn’t want that.

Well, as it turns out, hand-dyeing is part colour mixing, part alchemy.  The yarn…turned out nothing like I thought it would.  Nope…not at all.

IMG_0783

On the line outside this morning, it was clear there were paler parts, and, O happy day, some parts that definitely veered off towards the blue.  I could not have been happier with the non-solid result.

FullSizeRender

Since I have no idea whether I can reproduce this, I may earmark this for sport weight socks for me.  And with the number of skeins I have, this may push me to design a sport weight sock pattern…but I digress.

Now I have another skein soaking…can’t decide whether to try orange, or some version of pinky-purpley-fuschia.  This is entirely too much fun!!

FO: More Hermione’s Socks

I had not realized that it had been so long since I had been here.  I loathe winter.  With the fiery passions of a thousand suns…the ones that never seem to shine from January to March.  I get a serious case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and I just want to curl up in a ball and do nothing until spring.

I think this year, I thought it would be different.  I had this romantic notion of being back in my home province, in my own house, with snow falling gently outside while I knit and spin and accomplished so much through the cold winter.  Yeah…no.  I did some knitting and some spinning, to be sure.  And my brain went on a short design binge (none of which have been actually knit or written up yet), but otherwise my creativity did hit somewhat of a wall.

Last month, my dear friend Val sent me a box filled with yarn goodies, mostly in bright/spring-y colours.  The box included a gorgeous skein of Socks That Rock in a colour called “Hope Springs Eternal”.

When I was going on a two week business trip last month and needed a project to take on about 20 hours of flying and lots of hotel room evenings, I used it to cast on another pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks.  This pattern, along with my own Petty Harbour pattern, are my go-to I-don’t-have-to-think sock patterns.

After kitchenering the first toe at the end of week one, with a 14 hour trip home still in the offing, I was worried.  There was suddenly a real possibility that I’d run out of yarn.

Kitchenering a sock at 37000 feet somewhere over Colorado, as one does…

Now since no one, I thought foolishly, knits a pair of socks in two weeks, I had failed to bring along any other yarn.  My friend, Shireen, to the rescue!  She lovingly brought me a skein of SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock…JUST in case.

What I did not count on was 1) how super busy conferences can be, especially when my company is hosting and 2) that I would get a cold that would pretty much lay me flat every minute that I wasn’t scheduled to be somewhere.

So when I did get home, I was not quite done the second sock…just a few repeats short of the toe.  And I felt so crappy that it took me a couple of more evenings to finish them off.

So now, I have lovely new spring socks.  And if you’ve ever encountered spring in Newfoundland, you know that they are likely to be worn at least a few times before they are put away for the season.