New Stash, New Projects, and Fun

LYS Yarn Haul: Wooly Mastadon

Since I can’t say that stash enhancement is something I do regularly, I was very happy to swing by my LYS (local yarn shop) and pick up a few goodies to play with. Last time I went I was on a mission to find yarn to knit my Dad some hats (which he loved…in fact, he liked them so much when KnitPicks had a sale in January he sat down with me and honestly, I think he had more fun picking out yarn than I did. What?!). Needless to say, I didn’t get anything for myself then but this time I went mostly for me. I ended up bringing home two skeins of yarn. Some Opal in color #8465 and some Plymouth Yarn Neon Now in color #002. I also picked up a pack of felting needles…finally…but it’s the wool I’m excited about.

Yarn Haul: Wooly Mastadon

I also figured I share some not so amazing but still stash enhancement yarn from a week ago. It’s nothing fancy, some Bernat Softee Chunky  in the Grey Heather colorway and some Red Heart Reflective in the Neon Yellow colorway. I have some plans for this yarn. I am hoping to design a cowl that features the neon as stripes throughout the gray, but that will have to wait. I’ve got way to much on the needles right now.

New stash is a big deal in my mind, especially since college loan repayment is taking almost all of my money. However, all of my crafty outbursts lately have mostly revolved around using what I have. My Splitstone is from yarn that was given to me and I’ve had in the stash for a few years. My socks and shawl are made with yarn from the stash. I’ve been pretty good at using what I have. That only goes so far before you need to do something different. Thus stash enhancement always makes for something interesting.

On the life front, it has been a rollercoaster of goods, bads, and just plain difficult times. Knitting has been my me time. The Lord has been my rock. It is something we all have to work through at times. Perhaps there will be less project posts here and more thought posts for a while until things fall into place, perhaps not. We shall see as life unfolds.

~Stay Inspired

 

New Undertakings: Splitstone

Splitstone by Alicia Plummer: Wooly Mastadon

Ever since I finished modifying my $5 in Paris Sweater, I have been itching to cast on another sweater. The catch was that I only have one sweater’s worth of yarn that is wool (I have three total, and only one of sweater’s worth is yarn I bought, the other two are from my Aunt). The catch to this yarn was that I had a limited amount for my size (I’m not a small person). Thus I went to Ravelry’s advanced search (which I can’t speak enough about, it’s that good) and put in that I wanted to knit a garment with around 1200 yards of yarn. Lo and behold I found Splitstone by Alicia Plummer (my project page here), a knitted shell featuring a cabled panel and a fitted shape. I was excited to find a great pattern and also excited because I hate to admit I have never purchased a pattern through Ravelry. I have always added them to my wish list or used free patterns, so this was new.

I couldn’t wait so that day I swatched using a US size 6 needle and a US size 5 needle. I didn’t get gauge with either (and I was supposed to use US size 7) so I realized I’d have to do some math. Thus I cast on the 2X size and went to work. That was way too large. I ripped it out after a few rows when I realized my problem. Thus I cast on for the 1X size and have been working on the slip rib band. I already love this pattern. Reading through the pattern made my roadmap clear to me and it seems to be a really simple pattern to follow. Almost all of the project pages on Ravelry rave about the pattern and how well it’s written and I sense I’ll be adding my voice into that mix.

Now, I just need to find more time for fiber. I still have my Elder Tree Shawl on the needles (almost through 1 of 2 balls of yarn, yay!), my simple socks, and 4 million potholders to go. I may have even (eep!) been messing around with dyeing yarn and sewing this week. It’s been busy around my job, but seriously fun. Let’s see where this goes, shall we?

~Stay Inspired

Why I Like Knitting Podcasts (in my defense)

The Scoop on Podcasts: Wooly Mastadon

Now for many of you who are knitters/crocheters/crafters perhaps don’t need to read this, but many of the people I know think that watching/listening to podcasts is a waste of time. Well, let’s reframe that: they think that watching knitting podcasts is a wast of time. They think it’s stupid, something you should be ashamed of. I would simply like to speak my peace (rant alert.).

When I first discovered podcasts a few years ago, it was exciting. I live in a college town (home to both an engineering university and a private uniersity). With that amount of young people you might think that there was a major yarn shop around the corner, at least for hipsters. Well alas, that is not the case. As of last year we had one small yarn and fabric shop downtown and a small shop that focused on spinning and weaving. This year we have that same small yarn and fabric shop minus the spinning shop. If you drive 20 minutes north, there is a small yarn shop home to an indie dyer. She has branched out her products and has more of a social approach to her business (both online and in person) but this hadn’t existed until late last year. To be fair, all of the shops up here are lovely and the people are helpful. It’s just that the local community caters more to artsy fiber arts rather than knitting/crochet fiber arts. The indie dyer definitely fills a void, but it’s new to the area. Thus, most of my fiber life I have been going it on my own. As I got more into fiber, I realized how a lot of people thought I was crazy. As I continue to grow in my work I am still reminded of that. I don’t know many people close to me who carve out chunks of time to knit lace shawls, cabled swaeters, and sock, socks, socks. These are things that take too much time for a small hobby that includes knitting stockinette scarfs for everyone they know (which is great, it’s just not the experience level I am at…I guess I’m taking it farther than a hobby, it’s a side project). Thus, I am a loner. I went searching for a community.

Cue Ravelry. It is amazing; check it out and make an account. I’d pay a subscription fee if I had to. Ravelry began to open my eyes to people like me, who love the craft enough to get into it, to learn the difficult techniques and knit that sweater or shawl. It was exciting. Yet, through Ravelry and a random search on Youtube, I found podcasts. It was a world I didn’t know exsisted in the fiber community. Sure, I had listened to design podcasts for over a year. I just didn’t think that fiber breached that category. Well, it did and it was amazing.

What is so special about podcasts to me (especially video podcasts, those are my favorite)? Well, in a place where just about every major yarn out there would have to be ordered, where every book you want has to be ordered, where needles have to be ordered…well, you get the picture. Where I live, I live off of reviews on Amazon. I get orders from KnitPicks. I subscribe to magazines and have a book list because I don’t have a major source for books. I don’t have instant access to the tools of the fiber community. With podcasts, especially video, they can show you a book, discuss in detail a yarn’s qualities, and highlight a new pattern or Ravelry that I hadn’t seen. They open up doors to friendly knitters and crocheters who want to share as much as I do, and have kindly recorded it so that I can enjoy it from my living room. I love it.

So, what am I listening/watching you ask? Here’s a breif list of the podcasts I keep up with at this point (there are so many  more I want to get into, but I have this nasty habit of wanting to watch all of the episodes before I watch the latest one, so I get woefully behind, haha).

  • The Knit Girllls: Seriously, these gals are amazing. I love how they clearly know what they are about in the fiber world and are willing to share it complete with the silliness and sadness. (Now, this is one podcast I started at episode one and am only on episode 167. 223 came out this week…eek!)
  • Suburban Stitcher: I found out about her through Penguin Soup (more on that in a moment) and love her projects and style of sharing. She is open, funny, and I always feel like I am sitting in her craft room chatting.
  • Penguin Soup: This podcast was one of the first that I found out about. I loved her style and within a week had binge watched all of the episodes. Her podcast isn’t regular, but I don’t mind. I enjoy it so it’s worth the wait.
  • JennLikesYarn: She has done various versions of podcasts over some time, but I always try to watch them as she puts videos up. Right now she has started the Beer Knits podcast. Although I hate beer, I still enjoy watching what she is up to.

Podcasts on the Docket:

Podcasts bring a group of friends. Allbeit that these people have no idea who I am, and they probably never will (unless one of my dreams of going to a major fiber festival comes true, more on that later), but that doesn’t matter. They bring community to me. They share what they love, something that I love too. Podcasts create a connection, a connection that reaches people all over the world, in metropolises and in small college towns like mine, where little old me just wants to find a knitting buddy. Thanks podcasters, keep it up. It makes a lot of people’s lives brighter.

~Stay Inspired

 

Tutorial: Simple Crochet Beaded Wrap Bracelet

Crochet Wrap Bracelet; Wooly Mastadon
An exciting day indeed. I have been wanting to share a tutorial with you for a while now, but just wasn’t sure what to share. Then inspiration struck. I devised this pattern on a whim several years ago (in the early years when I first learned to crochet) after seeing an image on Pinterest. I didn’t have an account then and just stalked the boards so I no longer know where the original image was. It was one of those moments when I thought, hey, I could make something like that. I went to work and in no time at all I had a wrist full of wrap bracelets. This pattern is really easy, even for a beginner crocheter. It is easy to pick up because all you need to know how to do is a slip knot and chain stitch. At one of my crochet lessons (I headed up a craft night with lessons for a while) I taught my students how to make these and they were a hit. There were even a few people who never crocheted before who finished one of these that evening. Enough said, lets get started shall we?

bracelet-tutorial-materials

Materials:

  • Crochet Thread (I used size 3 or bedspread weight mercerized cotton thread. The weight doesn’t really matter, just pick a hook to match your thread)
  • Size B (2.25 mm) Crochet Hook
  • 30 size E Beads (choose beads to fit over your thread, I typically go with smaller E-beads you can get at most craft stores or small fake pearl beads)
  • Scissors

 

Let’s get started!

bracelet-tutorial-1

1. Thread your 30 beads onto your crochet thread (still attached to the spool/cone).

Tip: Dip the tip of your crochet thread in some white school glue (like Elmer’s) and let dry to make stringing your beads easier.

bracelet-tutorial-3

2. Chain 10.

bracelet-tutorial-4

3. Bring a bead close to your hook. Chain around that bead to catch it in the cord you are creating.

4. Chain 6.

5. Bring another bead close to your hook and once again catch it in the chain once more by chaining one.

bracelet-tutorial-5

7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you no longer have any beads left on your thread.

bracelet-tutorial-6

8. Chain 10. Finish off by cutting the thread and pulling the tail through the last loop to create a knot.

bracelet-tutorial-7

To finish, simply tie the two tails together as close as you can. bracelet-tutorial-final1 bracelet-tutorial-final2

Wrap the bracelet around your wrist and wear with pride. Now you truthfully can reply “yes, I made this!”

P.S. Share your finished objects using #WoolyMastadon. I love to see what you all are doing!

~Stay Inspired

 

News, Recent Obsessions…and Some Ongoing Ones Too

Washi Tape: Wooly Mastadon

Great news! Wooly Mastadon has a Facebook page (here)! Join the community and share it with your crafty friends. That’s what this is all about!

Now, as of late a few things have been keeping me going. I haven’t really shared a whole lot of my life outside of work and fiber, so I thought I’d share a few new things as well.

  • Washi Tape: Yes, I have jumped on the bandwagon, but it’s so pretty. I always aspire to use my planner more and adding washi tape was supposed to help. That lasted a week and now I’m just collecting, collecting, collecting. The kicker is, I am not a scrapbook person. I like stamping and beautiful things, but I don’t like the somewhat kitschy feel of them (sorry, some people do a really good job, it’s just not me). I love a good full page photo book with graphic design elements though, perhaps I can integrate it into that…
  • Music: This is a constant, but besides adding Christmas musing into my rotation as of last month (Mannheim Steamroller is the best, and yes, Christmas music before Thanksgiving, thank you very much), I have a few artists that keep me going. Ellie Goulding, A Fine Frenzy, and Enya are constants but I have really been listening to Lindsey Stirling (her latest album is amazing), Pentatonix (their new album is out and it’s amazing!!!), Ingrid Michaelson (again, latest album, yes!), and Imogen Heap (new album here too and it is sweet!). This is just the tip of the iceberg but seriously, so much goodness is coming from these artists. I love it and they keep me going on hard days.
  • Books: well, I can’t stop reading. I have been working through (and yes I know they are young adult books) the Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Claire. They are pretty much escapist novels for me and I have been motoring through them due to the lower reading level. I just purchased the fifth book, and yes I know I’m behind but remember, full time job…graphic design…fiber.
  • Google Hangouts: Well, why on earth is this here, you ask? It just so happens that people grow up and move away. This is becoming a life saver for me and my friends now that we don’t live in the same town anymore and is most definitely a sanity boost.
  • Candy Corn: October is the only time of year that I deem it okay to eat and enjoy strange tasting molded sugar, just saying. Well, maybe jelly beans for Easter?
  • OWLS: Yes, I have also been on this bandwagon. It started my first year of college. I don’t know why but I realized I really liked owls (and even did a block print based on them). Luckily for me, the owl trend started shortly after and I have been riding the wave since. I will be sad when the trend leaves, there are so many cute/kitschy things out there right now because they are popular. Even my friends know my taste based on owls (it’s that bad). Hey, could the next trend be giraffes, I really like giraffes too!
  • Doctor Who: New season, and yes I like Peter Capaldi. I honestly think Matt Smith was my favorite and David Tennant was great, but Capaldi is doing a good job. That man is funny and knows how to build on the role as he goes. You’re doing the world of Doctor Who justice, thank you!
  • Once Upon a Time: I mean, not much needs to be added. The season premier was last Sunday and my goodness, I couldn’t even knit or crochet during it (but really, Frozen. That was a bit shameless on ABC’s part). When I like a show the world disappears. My friends and family think it’s funny because it only works for a few shows (Warehouse 13 before it got cancelled…bad ScyFy, bad bad ScyFy…and Doctor Who, of course).
  • Clients From Hell: This website is amazing. The stories, it feels like I have personally encountered all of these people. The content of this site is entirely relatable if you do any form of freelance work or even creative work in general. I don’t know why but I go back and read a few each day, partially because it is almost a form of morbid amusement/schadenfreude, but seriously, I can relate to these. It’s like reading stories I could have written myself, and now that they are in the past I can laugh (and groan) at them.

Current Projects: Get it Done!

Okay, I’ll admit it…I may or may not have purchased a small ceramic pumpkin and a set of spiderweb earrings. I may have splurged and bought a few (does 4 still count) bags of candy too, and not just for trick or treaters later this month. Alas, I may have even indulged in the strange tasting shaped sugar pieces that we all like to refer to as candy corn, but I digress. Needles to say, October is here, Halloween is right around the corner, and fall is in full swing. Earilier this week I shared some of my outdoor adventures with you. Today, I’m sharing my WIPs. Let’s get started, shall we?

This week’s list of working WIPs is pretty short. Once again, and I hate to admit this, but my Elder Tree Shawl is in hibernation. Also, (gasp), but my socks have been set aside as well.

Potholders: Wooly Mastadon

‘How could this be?’ you may ask? Well, it just so happened that I got a reality check last week and realized this is the first year I didn’t knit my Christmas gifts for people in June and July. I hadn’t even chosen what to make yet. Lo and behold at the very end of September I made my choice and started crocheting last week. I decided on (spoiler alert!) hot pads. I’m using the pattern Plenty Thick Hot Pads by Denton Foreman and they are really great (project page here). Granted, they are double thickness so they take twice as long to complete, and when I first started the pattern I thought it was going to turn into a mass of stiches as opposed to a hotpad, but it seems to be going okay. However, my choice of projects is putting me at a disadvantage: I don’t have a lot of time left and I am working a full time job+ (freelance design takes time, read: A LOT OF TIME). We’ll see if I actually get these done. Thus, my socks and shawl are on hold until the frenzy of crocheting is complete.

Pepto Cowl: Wooly Mastadon

Cue second project. The second driving force for my current projects has been to use up some yarn I can’t quite bring myself to give away, but really don’t like/want to see in the stash any longer. Thus, I have been working on a few quick projects to get this yarn OUT. My current venture is using some pretty ‘interesting’ (read, don’t really like but someone will) pink yarn that isn’t the softest into accessories. It’s a bulky yarn and I chose to knit cowls in seed stitch on US size 10 needles (project page here). Thus it worked up quickly and is suprisingly airy. Now, I just need to find some people who really like pink, pepto pink, who would like to buy/take these things off my hands. We’ll see. I had four skeins, I have used up one, am using one, and have two left. Let’s hope for the best.

That’s the state of things around here. I get my last-minute-gift-rush prematurely to the rest of the world (as in all of my panic attacks. I was that kid in school who had a panic attack after the first day of school when the teacher had outlined all of the projects we could look forward too. I honestly had this fear that I had to have them done yesterday, even if the project wouldn’t be happening until the end of the year, sheesh). Anyway, keeping busy and listening to A LOT of music and enjoying lots of iced tea despite the cooler weather. Happy October!

~Stay Inspired

 

An Outdoor Reset

Fall Colors: Wooly Mastadon

I love the outdoors. Now granted, I have never gone camping (although it really does sound fun to me), but I love going for walks in the woods, exploring, and just enjoying nature. As a kid growing up, I had four cousins total and three of those four were boys. I saw them the most. What was strange to me was that I was the most willing to go out in the woods and play. I’ve always loved it, and just being outside can boost my mood in no time. This weekend was no exception. I was able to spend some quality time outdoors with my pooch and my camera, messing with settings and taking far too many photos of the fall colors and ummm my dog. It also gave me a little time to enjoy my back porch before the snow flies (because I have complete faith in our Upper Michigan winters starting next week) knitting and crocheting.

A good part of my time spent outside was used for reflection. While I was creating each new stitch and keeping an eye out for my pooch, I was thinking about just how much time I spend on the internet. I don’t need to spend that much time on it, and I really do love the peace I feel when outside without electronics beeping at me telling me I need to ‘stay connected.’ This is some time I really do enjoy and being able to sit in the shade, stitch, and think is a very important part of my life. I don’t do enough of it. Here’s to resetting our schedules before the snow flies to enjoy the fall weather outside without the distractions of the outside world. Everyone needs to see nature sometimes, and what better way than to enjoy it with good company (my pooch), my camera, and my fibery obsessions.

Mazie in Fall: Wooly Mastadon

~Stay Inspired

Printables: ‘I Made This’ Tags

I Made This Tags: Wooly MastadonI Made This Tags: Wooly Mastadon

It’s about time I share something fun for you all to use at home. A while back I decided I needed to design some tags to put on items I made to give away. I actually liked the way these turned out so I thought I’d share a freebie printable with all of you. Print them out on card-stock and attach to gifts, ’tis the season after all. I hate to break it to you but Christmas is just about 3 months away. If you’re like me, you probably haven’t started your gift-knitting/crocheting/crafting yet. Let’s all start early this year in the hopes of finishing by Thanksgiving, right? Well, maybe not, but these tags will help kick-start your progress. Good luck and let me know what you think.

~Stay Inspired

 

 

Facing the Facts: Life Goals

Facing Your Goals

Goals, you set them and aim to reach them. I have never really kept goals, but there has been a tremor in the force. Now to give you some background, I’m not much of a goal person. I live by deadlines, don’t get me wrong, but when it comes to goals I just don’t really follow them. I have some short term tasks I need to take care of but I never consider them goals because I just don’t keep them. It’s just me. I’ve tried writing them down, telling people, anything to keep me accountable but I guess this type of thing just isn’t me. Sure I do things similar to setting goals like to-do lists and intense planning in my planner. Yet, I just don’t view these as goals.

Until now. This past week I have realized I do have one life goal that is really big and would be a huge step in my life. It is a goal so big it scares me, but here it is: I want to become a designer for a major knitting magazine or fiber publication company. There, I said it. Graphic design and fiber are my two passions. I love a lot of things, like music, reading, and animals, but graphic design and fiber play trump. Any way to combine these two passions is a beautiful thing. The more I work on side projects and freelance work, the more I realize that this is something I want to do someday. I understand this won’t happen overnight. I understand that this could never happen. That’s what goals are for isn’t it; aim towards something that you truly care about or want to happen. Here’s to big goals and working towards them. Every step is a step, let’s make it a step in the right direction. I hope you enjoy this journey as much as I do. In the mean time, what are your goals? How do you plan to achieve them. I love to hear about how people move toward their dreams.

~Stay Inspired