January 02, 2023

Using My Ravelry Queue

     The following is an excerpt from a couple of emails I sent a friend.  It's mostly about how I use my queue on Ravelry.  Thought you might like to read it. 
     My favourites on Ravelry have patterns or projects that I like, whether or not I'd actually wear them or make them.  If I can get a free pattern for a favourite, usually I download the pdf right after I favourite it and I add it to my library.  Then I decide whether I'm likely to make it in the foreseeable future.  I also think about whether I really want to be reminded that the pattern exists or if it's okay if it's buried in the library.  If I am really interested in it, I add the pattern to the queue.  Then I change the order of the queue if needed.
     I think of my queue as having two parts.  The patterns at the front of the queue have stash yarn assigned to them.  They are patterns that I am probably going to make.  The queue is not a firm commitment or firm plan.  Perhaps I would consider it a placeholder.  I make a firm commitment when I make a project page.  
     The patterns at the end of the queue don't have stash yarns assigned.  They are patterns that I'd like to make, possibly.  I might later reject them if I think they'd turn out to be too difficult technically or too expensive or too difficult for sourcing materials or too ill-suited to the recipient or not terribly functional or too way out there in looks or whatever.  Right now, this section includes a cluster of patterns for selfish crafting.  That is, crafting items for myself, not to give away.  Some patterns in the queue have notes on them about possible directions I could take the finished objects I envision.  I don't expect get to this section of the queue for a year.  I may not get to some of the patterns ever.  For a few of them, I don't even own the pattern yet.
     The order of my queue in the first section is subject to change, frequently.  Right now I am torn between making specific gifts versus using up all I have of one kind of yarn and thereby getting rid of a storage box. 
     The first section of my queue, the stuff assigned to stash yarn, is in an order that has patterns for gifts mixed with some patterns for myself.  I can tell which pattern is meant for a gift and which is meant for me because I have tagged each accordingly.  When I queue a pattern, I often write the intended recipient's name in the notes section as well as the regular field for recipient.  This is because the regular field entry doesn't show in the queue overview but the notes do. 
     One fun analytical thing you can do is go to your favourites or your queue or your library and then click on advanced search.  After that you can select only sweaters or only a certain weight of yarn or some other criteria.  Even if you don't drill down in search, just seeing the patterns in a different format can be helpful. 
     One way to increase your library is to search designers, select knitting, select a popular designer, do an advanced search on their patterns, and select "free."  
     Or search patterns, arrange the order by "hot right now" or "most popular," and select "free."  
     When searching patterns, it is possible to bring up a search field for the pattern notes.  This often turns up more results than a regular search for key words like Christmas or geeky.  This option is on the left at the bottom.  
     To have a pattern in the queue multiple times, I went to the queue page and selected "add to queue."  I filled in the field for the pattern name, clicked the link symbol, then selected the pattern from the search results.  I find it helps to know the designer in case multiple patterns with similar names turn up.  Then it's just a matter of filling in the rest of the form. 
     Sometimes I will type in something generic for the pattern name, like "cardigan," hit the link symbol, but choose "none of the above."  This creates a queue entry for a future project done with a pattern I make up or a project for which I haven't yet determined the exact pattern.
     I believe bundles are available for favourites only.  But you can temporarily bring up something kind of like a bundle in the queue with the search function.  On the queue page, you can search the queue for a particular tag.  This lets you see a subset of all patterns in the queue with that tag.  If you have a certain name for a bundle in favourites, you can carry that over to the queue by tagging patterns in your queue with the same name.  
     You can enter a search word on the queue page and use the pulldown menu beside it to search by pattern instead of tag.  This lets you see all cardigans, for example, or all hats. 
     Alternatively, you can do the advanced search on your queue and then filter it a number of ways.  For example, it is possible to do an advanced search on your queue and see if a friend has one or more of the patterns in her favourites.  You can search for lace by selecting the characteristic of lace or by typing lace into the project notes field.  This would not be as idiosyncratic as a bundle name but it could help you slice and dice.  You can see at a glance whether your queue is mostly accessories or not, for example.  You can also look at the difficulty rating and select only easy patterns. 

December 31, 2022

The Tail End of 2022

     A few weeks ago, which was early December, I came up with three possible fibre resolutions to choose from and do until New Year's Day.  Option 1 was to finish up or toss out old works-in-progress.  Option 2 was to start and finish as many easy projects from stashed yarn as possible.  Option 3 was to start and finish projects for myself.  
      What I wound up doing was some of Option 1 and some of Option 2.  I finally called an end to the two sweater projects that had been stalled for years.  I got rid of their yarn too as it was no longer my taste.  I also knitted a couple of hats for gifts using an old familiar pattern.  One of the hats was actually Option 4 because I bought yarn for it instead of using yarn on hand. 
     I ended the year having used as much yarn as I'd bought over the course of the year. 

August 13, 2022

Fashion Types and the Fiber Arts

     I read a book by Carol Tuttle called Dressing Your Truth: Discover Your Type of Beauty.  To get the author's specific recommendations for dressing according to my type, I went to her Living Your Truth website, took the DYT quiz, created an account, and went through the beginner guide.  I went through the beginner guides to all the types, not just mine, and took notes.  I wanted to know what she recommends for the other types so I could avoid those things.  
     I found the content helpful, and considered the ads that came with the content worth enduring.  I like thinking about things in categories.  I've used the Color Me Beautiful system for my clothes since I was a child, when my mother had a colour party.
     I also looked at content online by Molly Bingaman of Ladybird Styling, which is similar to DYT. 
     I understand now why I have barely worn the Lush cardigan I knitted for myself last year.  Its lace design details, unstructured circular yoke, somewhat thick (DK) yarn, negative ease (I did zero ease), and loosely knitted fabric are definitely for a type different than mine. 
     The sweater quantity of yarn that I bought recently was DK.  I returned it.  I have not decided what sweater project I will do this fall, if any, but I know any yarn I get in the future for sweaters should be thinner than DK.
     You can undo a handknit sweater and knit the yarn into something else.  I could do this with my Lush just to be thrifty even though the yarn is too thick.  
     I understand now why I like the look of wool roving dyed multiple colours but I lose interest after I spin it into barber-pole yarn with the colours all mixed together.  No wonder I once spun a repeating multicoloured braid by pulling the sections apart and spinning each colour on its own.  In light of my type, it makes sense that I like solid colours, sequential or symmetrical Fibonacci stripes, plain weave, and stockinette stitch.
     I expect the information will inform my fibre arts choices going forward.  I hope this will mean fewer regrets and more items that work in my wardrobe. 

July 16, 2022

Squirrelled Away Another Sweater Quantity

     I did wind up buying another sweater quantity of yarn, in a beautiful dark blue wool.  I've used the colour before for a hat for a gift.  The yarn was on sale and I'd been eyeing it all through last year's yarn diet.  I plan to knit up this yarn in September.  Buying it means the volume of my yarn stash has gone up and that makes me somewhat uneasy, but the prospect of a sweater is good.  
     Early in the year I bought four balls of Jamieson and Smith Shetland yarn to knit a Bousta beanie.  I got as far as the brim and then quailed at the thought of trying stranded colourwork for the first time.  The project has been hibernating ever since.  
     I bought 200 g of fingering weight wool yarn in tonal teal for myself, to make a set of mitts, ear warmer, and cowl.  I bought 100 g of multi-coloured Malabrigo fingering to make mittens for a relative. 
     The same relative gave me two skeins of Malbrigo worsted from her stash and picked out two skeins at a yarn shop with me.  I've knitted two cowls, which are on their way back to her, and I plan to knit two hats. 
     She and I got to go to the 100 mile fibre fair in Coombs, B.C.  I saw a woman there with some hats and a cowl made with the språng technique.  I was impressed because the woman had used Coptic colourwork, intertwining on a background of interlinking, as well as the Tegle pattern, a solid-colour pattern of triangles in S and Z interlinking. 

December 04, 2021

Twenty Percent Less Yarn

      Just checking in to say that my cold sheep resolution this year has resulted in a reduction in my stash of yarn by twenty percent.  If you don't count the two sweaters in progess that have been stalled for years. Which I don't. 
     I am fairly happy with that amount of progress.  
     I am considering rolling the resolution forward into 2022 and trying not to buy any yarn again, with the exception of a couple of sweater quantities. 

September 18, 2021

Yarn, Organized

      A hat I'd knitted a number of months ago disappeared for a while.  It is a gift for a family member and the person's birthday is approaching, so it was becoming more important to find it.  I even started knitting a contingency hat. 
     I finally found the lost hat, at the bottom of a box of yarn.  Huzzah. 
     While I was rummaging in the yarn box, I pulled all the boxes out and organized all the yarn.  I sorted by weight and then sorted the fingering weight by content, since that's what I have the most of.  Before, the yarn was all just sort of in the order I'd bought stuff.  Organizing it was a task I'd had on my to-do list for a while, so I got the satisfaction of checking it off.
     I mentioned to someone (someone with a fabric stash) that I'd done this task and she asked if I found any yarn I'd forgotten about.  I found just one ball of yarn I'd completely forgotten I had.  Such is the power of having filled out a Ravelry stash inventory.  As a bonus, the yarn was in a colour I'd been thinking of buying.  Electric blue, if you were wondering.  
     I matched up three more patterns with yarn I have and put them in my Ravelry queue.  I think most of the yarn is matched with patterns now.  It's just a matter of getting around to actually knitting it up to reduce the amount on hand. 

August 28, 2021

What to Make Next

     The green cowl worked out fine. 
     After I finished knitting it, I didn't knit for about a month.  Finally I ripped out the two projects I had languishing on the needles.  They were a hat and a pair of gloves in patterns I'd never done before.  I restarted them with patterns that are old favourites.  
     I withstood the temptation of a rather good yarn sale.  When I say withstood, I mean I didn't buy anything.  But I wasted a bunch of time putting yarn in the online cart, thinking about it, and taking it out.  The waste of time counts as a minor cold sheep resolution failure for me.  One of the points of the resolution was to take the time I would normally spend window shopping, and spend it on making things. 
     I ran across a good piece of advice on Ravelry.  Someone said she wanted to knit a garment but didn't know what to pick.  Someone else advised her to think about how long it had taken her to knit the last garment, then count the same amount forward in time, figure out what the weather will be then, and choose a pattern suitable for that weather. 
     Well!  This advice would have me casting on for a wool sweater tomorrow.

July 03, 2021

the green scarf didn't work out but the cowl seems okay so far

      I was telling you about how I was adapting a hat pattern and using the chart to knit a scarf.  It didn't work out.  There was an imbalance between the number of knit stitches and purl stitches, and that caused the scarf to curl.  I got a little more than a foot done and then ripped out the stitches.
     I started again with a cowl, knit in the round, using the same chart.  There's no curl this time because the fabric is a tube.  And of course I put ribbing at the edge to prevent curling there.
     I chose a larger needle than the hat pattern calls for, to create a soft and loose fabric that will drape.  I've seen the recommendation for a larger needle for cowls in a couple places.  
    I based the number of stitches on a lace cowl I'd completed recently in the same weight of yarn.  That number turned out to be inadequate.  This cowl was turning out to be much narrower than the other one.  I ripped out my work and cast on again, adding enough stitches for two additional repeats of the motif.  Now everything seems to be in order and it's just a matter of plugging away at the knitting.  
     I was thinking yesterday about the role fear plays in my fiber arts and that of my friends who are kind enough to talk to me about their own progress.  A small problem like this one with the scarf slash cowl doesn't bother me so much.  But I do get hung up on some things.  I tend to get gripped by fear during bigger projects where I really care about the outcome and I'm unsure about my chances of success. 
     Right now fear is making me reluctant to start a fingering-weight sweater for myself for Fall.  Also, I'm not ripping out and redoing a hibernating WIP, one of the two sweaters that have been stalled for years.  
     I read once that when you have projects looming over you that you're procrastinating on and not about to start, you can use the energy from that nervous pressure to get a lot of little stuff done that you mean to do anyway.  Guess that's what I'm doing with the cowl.  
     Hopefully, whatever projects I do, I will use up some stash.  My cold sheep resolution is going alright on the yarn-buying front, I've bought the bare minimum.  I want to use up more yarn by the end of the year, though.   

May 29, 2021

email subscriptions are ending

      If you have subscribed by email to this blog, The Sojourning Spinner, please know that your subscription is ending.  This is because Google is putting Feedburner on maintenance mode in July. 
     Apologies, but I can't see any way on my end to add this function back.
     You have the option of subscribing through an app that serves up RSS feeds. 
     In other news, I am in the process of adapting a hat pattern that I like.  Not for a modified and improved hat but for a scarf.  A scarf to go with a hat I've already knitted.  
     The adaptation process is a little tricky.  While the hat is knitted in the round, the scarf is knitted flat.  Any knit stitch that is knitted through the back stitch to twist it on the right side (and there are many such stitches) must be turned clockwise and purled on the wrong side.  
     Further adding to the difficulty is the fact that the chart is charted for every row.  In a lot of charts, the even-numbered rows are the same stitch and not even shown on the chart, and are thus rather simple to convert to flat knitting.  Not so with this pattern's chart.  The stitches are worked as they present themselves just as they are in the row below.  Apart from turning the purls.  So, you see a knit stitch below, you knit a stitch.  At first I found it hard to see which was which.  So, I turned to the chart.  You have to read the chart the other way, left to right, on the even rows and do the opposite of the symbol as given.  That was worse and I went back to examining the stitches. 
     Anyway, it is a challenge.  And I consider the effort to be worth it for the end result.  I think that once it is done, the scarf is going to be well received by its recipient. 

April 10, 2021

A Resolution, In Conflict with A Greater Goal

      In January I resolved to go cold sheep.  That is, I resolved to not buy any yarn or fiber for the year.  The only out would be if I knitted up two-thirds of my stash.  
     This resolution sprang from the realization that I had enough yarn to knit for a year without buying any more.  I felt that if I stopped spending time on yarn selection and pattern selection, then I could apply that time to using the plans and yarn I had already sunk effort into.  Finishing projects, rather than starting.  Doing justice to them. 
     I lasted two weeks.  Then I discovered that the two sweater quantities of yarn I'd bought in December were too itchy.  I exchanged them.  I felt irritated because I hate to go back on a resolution, especially a resolution with cachet like cold sheep.  However, the main goal is to make myself clothing, and new yarn was the path to doing that. 
     I could have frogged two old and stale projects, the partially-knit sweaters, and used that yarn.  I just wasn't ready to do so.  Now I might be ready to tackle one, after I get some gift knitting done.
     It is an odd thing that having unfulfilled plans and unused materials around is unsatisfying yet the process of getting plans and materials is satisfying.  
     The other week I found myself browsing online looking through yarns on sale.  Must have been in need of some retail therapy.  I selected a yarn and a pattern to go with it, both of which would suit a knit-worthy family member.  It made me feel clever, to spot them and make a pairing.  It's the old hunter gatherer instinct, presumably.  Then I asked myself if it would really make me happy to place an order, given that I had enough yarn on hand to make gifts for family this year.  The answer was no.  I emptied my cart and made a note about the pairing in my records to review next year. 

April 03, 2021

It's Very, Very Pink

     I knitted myself a cardigan.  It's a very intense pink, which makes my inner child very happy.  
     The fit is excellent, due to some modifications I made to the pattern.  The idea for one of the mods came from a video on Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Patreon account.  
     The pattern is one that I'd meant to do for a long time ever since I heard podcaster Louise Scollay rave about it.  Am late to the party and all, which is okay.  
     The buttons on the cardigan came from a couple of old linen jackets that I had loved and worn to shreds. 
     It's quite something how for a project you take information from here, inspiration from there, and materials from the past and present. 

November 07, 2020

Potato Chip Knitting

     You might remember an old commercial for potato chips that bet you can't eat just one.  I find that some knitting patterns are like that too.  I knit them, and then knit them again.  It is quite satisfying.
     I am currently coming to the end of a streak of knitting accessories for gifts.  There's half a hat and one pair of mitts to go.  The hat pattern is one I've used before, and the mitts pattern will be new to me.  
     I am growing a little in technical skill.  I feel quite clever because I've applied a technique I learned from Ann Hanson in a Craftsy course of hers, the one row buttonhole.  I used it to make a ponytail opening just above the ribbed brim of a hat.  That hat was the third hat I've made from a particular pattern, in white after doing lime green and dark red.  The pattern has a lot of texture from thin lines of stockinette on reverse stockinette.  It is a pattern with a bold style.  There are family members I would not make it for, because I just don't think it would appeal to them.  I like the look of it, though, and fortunately I also like the knitting process for it.  I found the stitches easy to read and the pattern easy to memorize over the course of a round.  That surprised me, given all the cables.
     Have amassed some more books on knitting sweaters but haven't dug into them yet.  I got one book for a particular pattern that I think is quite pretty because it has a lot of texture.  It is similar to the hat I just mentioned.  However, I have concerns that such a sweater would visually add bulk and not be flattering to wear.  And I think you really have to be sensible and weigh both when picking a project.  So that pattern may stay in the "nice to think about" category.
     I did read one knitting book recently that was written in the 1980s.  The content is very dated in parts and rather amusing.  The author raved about the new looser fit that had just become fashionable.  It's good to know that I have the pattern for a dolman sleeve sweater if I ever need it.  I got the idea to buy that title from watching Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's stash room tour on Patreon, a tour which includes her bookshelves.

July 25, 2020

Raglan Sweater

     So I was working on a sweater.  I am pleased to say that it is finished and it fits. 
     I had started out following the pattern Brick by Clare Lee.  I made quite a few modifications to the fit and the design details.  In the end, I began thinking of it as just a raglan sweater. 
     Anyway, it is nice to be done.  I enjoyed the process of making the sweater as much as I enjoy owning it.  (Not wearing it, not till Fall.)  I just mean to say, the sense of accomplishment is pleasant.  Big project and all.