February

I have a naval gazing post about the New Year in my drafts folder that I have been working on here and there. But now that it is February it feels a little silly. I think it is the kind of post that I need to write, but it may be better for the anniversary of my new job rather than a New Years post. I read my posts from the beginning of 2014, and I was in such a different place then. My life changed drastically (for the better) when I changed jobs, and seeing where I have come after a year of change seems more appropriate.
 
 Things around here are in constant motion. Deadlines at work, birthday parties to prepare for, as well as personal goals, and squeezing in some fun as we can. I am so thankful to be at a job where I can leave work on time and get a bit extra done after the kids are in bed or on weekends. But the main problem with working overtime is the toll is takes on my motivation to do chores. I’ve worked 50+ hours the past two weeks. Tonight I don’t have to do anything for work. I really should catch up on dishes, but I don’t want to. I don’t want to straighten up or even put away my clean laundry. I’m so excited to have an hour to myself that I just want to sit and enjoy the quiet.
 
 I’m not really complaining. It is really just an observation that working so many hours is not sustainable for me long term. I am just too tired to do anything beyond the bare minimum. I can’t find balance at home when work is getting so much of my energy.
 
 I know that this overtime spree will only last a few more weeks. I’m doing my best to keep my head above water while it lasts.
 
 Along these lines, I have used spare moments here and there to make progress on one of my 12 Days of Casting On projects. I’m even farther along than this picture shows.
 
 

 In addition to finishing two socks, tonight I bound off the second sock for my daughter and cast on the second sock for me. The bright colors are lovely and a great pick-me-up on grey, winter days. A neighborhood Super Bowl party helped me get here. Two hours of letting my kids play in a neighbor’s playroom while I hung out with the adults eating yummy food I didn’t have to prepare.
 
 In an ideal world I would have been catching up on dishes. But a woman has got to have her priorities straight. ;-)

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Proxima Hat

Have you ever had one of those weekends with few real plans, but a very critical list of items that needed to be done before bedtime on Sunday night, leaving you with little time to complete optional items? Yes, well that’s the kind of weekend I had and it may not be the last. :-)

I mention this because I published a new hat pattern on Friday, and I haven’t had the Proxima_Hat_Looking_Down_medium2opportunity to tell you about it yet! It has been one of those weeks where there is always something just slightly more critical to get done after the kids are in bed, and I have not had the kind of focus needed to write a blog post at 10pm. But as the birthday invitations are sent, upcoming appointments have been made, and I’m a teeny bit less swamped at work, I can use my lunch hour to share the Proxima Hat with you today!

Though I did preview a couple of my samples a few weeks ago during the 12 days of casting on…

Proxima_Infant_Hats_Close_medium2

The Proxima hat is my 13 self-published pattern on ravelry, and like most of my other hat patterns it is graded from 12” to 22” circumference. Unlike my other stranded hat patterns, this one has colorwork from right after the ribbed brim all the way through the crown. The pattern includes three charts to accommodate the different lengths needed for varying hat sizes and crown shaping.

I developed the crown motif while improving another stranded hat several years ago. The hat had a few issues with shape and fiber content (knitting a hat with 100% alpaca needs to be thought out carefully…), so it feels like I have finally won over this design. My old sample is still around and still mocks me a little bit for not working out the first time. Maybe someday I will return to the original idea, but for now I feel a big sense of relief that my favorite thing about that hat has been realized in a completed design.

In Proxima, the stranded design never uses more than two colors in the same row and the background color regularly alternates between two analogous colors. You could easily use more colors in the background or use a variegated yarn with long color repeats. A wool or wool blend yarn is recommended for maximum “forgiveness” and memory. Based on previous experience, I don’t recommend 100% alpaca, unless you like your hats floppy!

Proxima_Hat_Back_medium2

 

 

Required Skills: This pattern requires the knitter to work knit, purl, and decrease stitches in the round for the basic hat shape. The colorwork and crown decreases are represented in the chart, and not written. This pattern does not recommend a particular method for knitting in the round.

 

Gauge:
0-3m, 1-2y & T/S adult sizes: 24 sts/26 rows = 4” (10 cm) square
6-9m, 3-10y & L adult sizes: 21 sts/24 rows = 4” (10 cm) square
Gauge measured in stranded knitting with larger needles

Needles: 0-3m, 1-2y & T/S adult sizes: U.S. Size 4 (3.5 mm) & 6 (4 mm)
6-9m, 3-10y & L adult sizes: U.S. Size 6 (4 mm) & 8 (5 mm)
or size to produce noted gauge.

Sizes and Finished Measurements:
0-3 Months – 12” Brim CircumferenceProxima_Top_Close_medium2
6-9 Months – 13.75” Brim Circumference
1-2 Years – 16” Brim Circumference
3-10 Years – 18.25” Brim Circumference
Teen/Small Adult – 20” Brim Circumference
Large Adult – 22.75” Brim Circumference

Note: Measurements for each size assume 1-2” of negative ease for a snug-fitting and warm hat. Infant and toddler head circumference can vary by as much as 3”. When possible, measure the head of the intended recipient.

Good Yarn Substitutions: Berroco Vintage, Dream in Color Classy, or your favorite worsted weight wool or wool-blend yarn. Handspun yarn in worsted weight would work well also.

Due to the nature of electronic pattern sales, once you have downloaded a pdf file of the pattern, there will be no refunds issued.

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12 Days of Casting On: Part 4

Part one of this series

Part two of this series

Part three of this series

Multiple 2-hour school delays and a ridiculous amount going on at work has made the beginning of 2015 a bit of a whirlwind. I have several other posts in the works to share with you. But first, let’s wrap up the 12 Days of Casting On!

On Day 10, I was beginning to feel averse to casting on something new, eIMG_5372specially with so many new and cool projects around me. We were home all day – playing games, watching movies, and getting a few things done as I had the inclination to do them. I picked the Eidetic Mittens back up and spent all my available time on them. I had gotten so far on day 8 that the end was in sight. And, this eventually turned into an actual cast on. I weighed the remaining yarn when I finished the first pair, and there is plenty left for another pair of mittens. This time with the variegated as the background. I cast on for the Clytia Mittens before I went to sleep. Not much progress, but it counts! And I have since knit most of the first cuff.

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Day 11 was spent a little sad that the holiday “break” was almost over and trying to get enough chores done that I wouldn’t feel like a complete sloth when Monday rolled around. Groceries were purchased, dishes were washed, and lunchboxes were cleaned out in preparation for refilling. We also played some games and relaxed, but in that way that one does in shorter spurts as you get ready to return to long abandoned routine.IMG_5381

By the time the kids were in bed, I had only crocheted a bit on my Day 6 cowl and I wasn’t feeling super inspired to think of something new. But I have a blanket project that has stalled out a bit due to other distractions, and I cast on the next square. I came within a few rows of finishing the square before passing out on the couch. I definitely want to get back to this project as time allows. (Cascade 220 Superwash. How I love thee. Let me count the ways!)

 

Day 12 was similarly tricky, as it was the first day back to work and school for the whole family. I had only had a four day weekend, but the previous week I had been getting ready for work in silence and skipped packing lunches. By the time the kids were in bed that night, I was tired, but not so tired that I felt like I could only do another granny square. So I went through the project IMG_5382bags near my bed and found the leftover from my Crackerjack. There is plenty of yarn left, and I really like the resulting cowl. Though the red doesn’t go with a substantial part of my wardrobe since I have a lot of pink, purple and teal in my closet. So my plan is to use just the grey and white in this one.

What you see in the picture is my third attempt. I want to add a little texture without making it too complicated. I’m not sure that I’ve found the right stitch pattern yet, but it will be easy to grab the next time I am in a swatching mood. The red yarn is just the provisional cast on, the cowl really will be just grey and white.

Conclusions

This was a really enjoyable exercise. It forced me to cast on for some swatches and projects that I’ve had in mind for a while. It helped me finish some awesome mittens. And, selfishly, it allowed me to make sure I made some time for me and my pursuits for two full weeks.

Truthfully, I’m not bad about making time for myself. I have learned that if I don’t regularly do things for me, I get very cranky. I’m good about making time to see friends, to knit, etc. But there was still something about this challenge that really helped me make time in a way that I’m not usually good at over the holiday break. Every year I imagine all of the knitting and crocheting I will do, but most years I spend more time ticking things off my to do list or taking care of others. Worthy endeavors, but not as relaxing as I imagine. Some combination of this challenge, my kids getting older and going into the holiday with my house less crazy messy allowed me more time to craft over the break.

My only goal for next year is to be a little more organized about what I’m going to cast on. I think, ideally, I would like to swatch in advance and actually cast on projects during the 12 days. Or at least have a higher percentage of cast on projects and be doing fewer swatches/designing on the needles. Especially for the days when I have to work.

We’ll see what kind of place I’m in next year and where my designing has taken me! :-)

 

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12 Days of Casting On: Part 3

The first post in this series is here.

The second post in this series is here.

Day 7…I’ll be honest and tell you that I wish I had better planned out my projects for the three days that I needed to work in the midst of this challenge. It was tricky to sit down Photo Jan 02, 8 10 12 PMafter 9pm and figure out what I wanted to cast on for the day. Plus the need to wind yarn and find needles. If I do this again next year I will do more advanced planning and organization of materials.

Though this day was a teeny bit easier. I wanted to cast on a hat for a friend expecting a baby this year and another hat pattern design has only been knit in one size so far. Though by the time I checked the gauge, dug yarn out from my stash (Berroco Vintage), found the needles and cast on, I didn’t make it very far in the process. This will go faster once I make the chart for the pattern instead of working from the completed sample and my notes!

Day 8 afforded me quite a lot of knitting time, so I chose it for one of the not casting on Photo Jan 02, 2 43 11 PMprojects I planned to afford myself. The goal was to knit as much as I could on my second Eidetic Mitten in the yarns from Wren House that I purchased at Indie Knit & Spin. I reknit the portion of the cuff that I had to rip back several days before and knit at least half of the mitten hand. I felt like I surpassed the point where it would be easy to put the mittens down and forget about them until it was too warm to wear them. It was a good day of focus that paid off later in the 12 days…

Day 9 was a home day with the kids. I had plans to go to the movies with the girl and out for dinner afterward, so it wasn’t a day to work out the math for a new project or spend Photo Jan 04, 10 55 07 AMlots of time tracking down yarn and needles or hooks. So I cast on another pair of socks, this time for the boy. He picked another skein from the Vesper Yarn collection – Pure Pumpkin, and I cast on during dinner. I won’t go too far with these until I make notably progress on the girl’s pair, but at least they will be easy to get going when I’m ready.

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12 Days of Casting On: Part 2

The first post in this four part series is here.

Day 4 of casting on. We were at my mother-in-law’s house, so I had a break from chores and was able to focus (a little) on a design I’ve had in mind for quite a while. I swatched Photo Jan 02, 2 45 05 PMwith a skein of SpaceCadet Creations Maia, and I have a gradient kit intended for the design. I still need to figure out what edging I’m going to use and double check the gauge to figure out my cast on number. But I should be able to start the sample in the next week or two. We have a weekend away later in January and I hope this can be my car knitting.

 

Day 5 I cast on another design sample. I have nearly finished a pair of mittens to go with my Coaxial hat pattern…but I just cast them on quickly and didn’t really plan them out. Poor decision because even though they Photo Jan 02, 2 42 11 PMfit my daughter well, the way I knit them will make grading difficult and I think they will be hard to fit adult hands. So I cast on a pair of mittens in black and watermelon to try again. I haven’t gotten far on these. I really need to sit down to do some planning. But I had to work on Day 5 and just wanted to cast on something that wasn’t another pair of vanilla socks.

On Day 6 I got out a skein of yarn that I got for Christmas a number of years ago. It’s a silk and merino blend in a fingering weight yarn. The dyer is no longer dying, but I think it is a yarn that wouldn’t be too hard to substitute. Or maybe it won’t become a design and will just be a cowl for me to wear. Time will tell.Photo Jan 02, 2 41 49 PM

It is a crocheted cowl. I’m playing with cables for the first time, and hoping that they will get quicker once I get the hang of them a little better. I think it will be lovely and warm. Plus a nice little project to pick up when I want to think more than a vanilla sock, but I don’t want to do math!

 

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12 Days of Casting On: Part 1

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been participating in a little activity with others at my LYS, where we are each casting on a new project or doing some focused crafting on each day of the 12 days of Christmas.

If you are a member of ravelry, you can see all of the insanity here – http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/natural-stitches/2794340/1-25 with the discussion of this year’s event starting on post #47.

So let’s take a look at the first few days of the “challenge” for me.

On Christmas I cast on a snitch for my daughter. At Maryland Sheep and Wool the kids spied a small bin of sparkly yarns, and in the process of trying to convince me to buy a skein my daughter argued that it would be perfect for making a snitch. Since the kids were generally well behaved on a trip primarily about making ME happy (my friends, yarn, sheep, etc), I decided to agree. Though I made it clear that I was not promising a specific delivery date for the snitch.

I used the pattern for Igor the Tiny Bat as the basis for the snitch. The last time I looked through ravelry for snitch patterns I couldn’t find one that was quite what I was looking for. I was actually looking through the FreshStitches patterns looking for one that had a nice, round head for the ball of the snitch and assumed that I would improvise the wings. But when I saw Igor, he seemed like the perfect shape, and the wings were similar to what I wanted.

OncePhoto Jan 04, 12 11 01 PM I understood his construction, I was able to modify the wing shape to be more tapered and I had the first wing complete before we left the house to go to a cousin’s for Christmas dinner! I finished the second wing and started the body during present opening  and Mad Libs, and I was halfway done with the body by the time I went to bed. The yarn was not that pleasant to work with, so I decided to press on and finish the snitch as soon as I could. Given that we had no plans on the 26th, it wasn’t hard to wrap up the work while playing board games and watching movies.

Now my only conundrum is what to do with the rest of the gold yarn. As unpleasant as it is to work with, it is very sparkly and fun. I think it needs to be some sort of tree decoration or Christmas garland.

Since I had used up some of my crafting time already for Day 2, I decided to cast on a pair of vanilla socks for my official cast on. The yarn is Vesper Sock Yarn, one of the eight stripe colorways called “Crossroads”. I bought several skeins of her yarn in October, and I let the girl pick her favorite of the three for her next pair of socks. I completed the toe that day, and then took them to the movies (Into the Woods!) later in the week to get quite a bit done.

Photo Jan 02, 7 02 01 PMI’m actually debating what to do. I meant to do the girl’s socks first, but I got so far during the movie that it is long enough for my foot. And if she tries it on, the foot fits, but it is really too big around her ankle and lower calf. So I’m debating who this sock belongs to and how to proceed. It’s in time out until I have a few minutes to consider my options and to be able to deal with the thought of ripping it back.

On Day 3 I cast on a present for a friend’s daughter. She is pregnant with twins, and I had already made newborn versions of my next hat pattern. She’s having a girl and a boy, so I made two different color combinations with grey for the babies. Then I used all four colors with the same DSCN4297grey to make a coordinating hat for her daughter. The larger hat uses the same pattern, but color layout is a bit different than the chart for the 3 color version since it has 5 colors. I had to start a second time because the first version, made like the pattern chart was not a good combination. The pattern is at my editor now, so once it comes back, and there is decent light for pictures, I will make it available on Ravelry and Patternfish.

Stay tuned for more of my holiday knitting and crocheting!

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Prices, Taxes, & Change, Oh my!

First, let me distract you with a knitting photo…so this post doesn’t put you to sleep.
 

 This is not a fun post to write, so let’s get through it quickly, shall we?
 
 Some of you may know that the EU is changing how VAT tax is collected on electronically sold items starting January 1st. Instead of being determined by the residency of the seller, the new requirement bases the VAT on the residency of the *buyer*. Meaning that a U.S. based designer, selling pdf patterns on ravelry, suddenly has to worry about paying international taxes. When I first heard of this I assumed that it wouldn’t affect me, but upon checking I learned that I have sold patterns to knitters and crocheters in a number of EU countries.
 
 Global market, indeed.
 
 There are more difficulties in this legislation than just keeping track of how many patterns I sell in each EU country and remitting tiny payments to those countries each quarter, but I won’t bore you with the details. A quick google search on EU VAT MOSS should satisfy the curious.
 
 Thankfully Ravelry was able to come up with a workable solution for those of us who didn’t want to stop selling to crafters in the EU. Beginning January 1st, Ravelry users in the EU will be directed to my patterns on Loveknitting.com for purchase. LK is set up to deal with the VAT charges so that I won’t have to. I am also in the process of uploading my patterns to Patternfish.com as an additional option for EU buyers. If all goes well, they should all be there by mid-January.
 
 This change means that knitters and crocheters in the EU will be paying more for my patterns beginning January 1st (my prices are VAT exclusive), so if there is a pattern of mine in your queue, I would suggest purchasing it before midnight on Wednesday.
 
 I also wanted to note that a few of my patterns will be seeing price increases on January 1st as well. I went through the exercise a few weeks ago of comparing my prices to those of similar patterns on Ravelry, and discovered that several of them were underpriced for the market. I will be taking the opportunity to make this correction on Thursday. Yet another reason to purchase any patterns in your queue sooner rather than later.
 

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