30 May 2012

Exploring the stash

After reading Truly Myrtle's post on "stash grooming", I was inspired to reevaluate my own stash.  I actually have two stashes as many college students do, one at my parent's house and one at college.  Inevitably, I often forget what I have in my home stash.

So, this morning I broke out my stash, organized it, and entered it all onto Ravelry, and it felt great!

Here it all is (not counting a bag I'll mention later):

I've got a healthy mix of handspun, luxury, self dyed, and acrylics (that people always seem to gift me).

I remembered how much I loved to dyed yarn a couple of years ago.  I've had some pretty experiments and some not so pretty experiments.  I'm definitely going to make time to dye some more this summer.  I especially want to try dyeing with tea again (the brown skein below).

Some wonderful family friends gifted me some amazing new yarns that I've never tried knitting with before.  The first two are Cascade Sierra (cotton/wool blend) and the third one is Manos Silk Blend.  Didn't they pick out the best colors?

Lastly I dug through my undyed base yarn bag and I have a lot of yarn to work with.  I have a skein of Knit Picks Bare DK, 6 skeins of Cascade 220, and 5 skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash.  This was excellent news because Lisa and I have been planning a yarn dyeing party this summer, we are going to have a blast!

I've always been proud of being able to maintain my stash at a reasonable size, this summer I'm planning on downsizing it a lot with some great new projects.

Have any exciting stash plans?

28 May 2012

Knitting at the airport

I really dislike flying commercially. I've been flying at least 10 times a year for the last seven years while attending boarding school and then college out-of-state. So I have definitely seen the painful decline of air travel in the US first hand.

Due to the extent that flying stresses me out, I'm not sure how I could do it without knitting to help relax me.  I always knit socks at the airport, it is tradition.  It is also a great type of project because I'm less likely to elbow the person sitting next to me.  Today I brought this pretty project along:

My connecting flight today was at Chicago O'Hare Airport (KORD), one of the cleaner and less stressful of the larger airports.  It has some really fun little things to see while waiting for an inevitably delayed United flight (every time), such as the light tunnel and a hydroponics garden:

On this particular trip I found something that made me really happy, a cafe called Argo Tea.  To me, being able to find properly brewed tea and yummy, healthy salads at an airport is pretty much the best thing ever.  I'll certainly visit them again the next time I fly. 

Things I've learned as a frequent flyer (in the US): 

- Be very nice to the TSA, especially while taking needles in your carry on (contrary to common belief, they are allowed during domestic travel and I've never had them taken away) or when traveling with children.  This is also one of the few situations where standing up for yourself is not a good idea, they will punish you.

- Never ever fly US Airways. Ever.  Among other things, they refuse to gate check your carry-on if the overhead containers fill up, and will likely lose your luggage if they check it later.  Also avoid United if possible, they will cancel your flight up to 30 minutes before boarding due to "mechanical problems" which is usually just their way of saying the flight was not full enough, also they are always late.

- Southwest is my favorite airline by far, even if the seating situation is a little crazy.  Delta is generally acceptable except for in weather situations. 

- Bring your own goodies, the snacks there are never worth the premium and you will have exactly what you want for your trip.  In case of a delayed connecting flight sprint I always bring nuts to help keep up my energy.

-  If possible pick out a carry-on bag that looks like a purse, not a roller-bag.  If you get stuck on a smaller plane or if overhead space runs out, you will be less likely to be forced to check it even if it is the same size as a roller-bag. 

- Frequent flyer point systems are rarely ever worth the effort, I don't even bother anymore because most of them reset every year now. 

- International concourses usually have the best food and minimum noise (KATL --> Concourse E). 

- If a flight is cancelled or rescheduled for the next day due to mechanical failure, the airlines are usually contractually obligated to pay for a hotel room. This is not true for weather cancelations.

- If you find yourself in a terrible situation caused by an airline company and need help, call the people at Flyer's Rights.  They are a non-profit with a 24 hour help line and will help you.

Have any good tips for surviving commercial flights?

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and for those of you traveling tomorrow, good luck!

26 May 2012

Road tripping along

I've been very quiet here for a while because I have been traveling with my family.  I've still been trying to keep up with you all using my phone because I've been at places with no internet until today.  As a tip to those of you Blogger people with Captcha enabled, it is incredibly frustrating to comment by iPhone and you may be losing some comments that way.

Graduation was fantastic!  I ended up graduating with high honors and a few other awards, which was the perfect way to end my undergraduate experience.  Jane Lynch was a great speaker and very funny, although she was nothing like the characters she typically plays.

Right after I snagged my diploma, I jumped into the truck with my dad and all of my moving boxes, and headed off to North Carolina!

Eleven hours later we arrived and shortly after that I found the perfect apartment that even has a little garden (which I'm planning to fill with lavender)!  It is such a wonderful feeling to have everything falling into place and I'm excited to move there in the Fall. 

I'm now in upstate New York for my sister's graduation (12 hour drive back up) and have been knitting away any chance I get on my super womanly strength something-or-another sweater.

As I initially suspected, it is almost impossible to be sad while knitting with Madelinetosh.  Everywhere I go I have people comment on how beautiful this yarn is.

For the pattern, I chose Ambrosia, a very pretty, fitted cardigan, with some nice cabling along the front. The best part about this pattern is that there is no seaming!  I'm thinking that because I am using Merino wool instead of cotton, that I might make the sleeves a little longer. 

The most disappointing thing about this trip is that no matter how hard I try, I have been unable to visit a single yarn store!  Hopefully I'll have better news along that front in a few days. 

16 May 2012

Work-in-progress Wednesday - #7

I've been a busy little knitter over this quiet little week.  Only seniors are on campus right now and it is very strange and quiet.  It is nice to have some time to breathe before graduation, but at the same time I am living for that moment when I finally get to shake hands with Jane Lynch (!) and receive my diploma!

My Tadpole socks are turning out wonderfully.  I've finished one sock and started on the second. The gradient of this yarn makes it a lot of fun to knit with.  I'm not sure if I like how they feel on my feet though, I'm more of a Merino sock kind of girl.

My Gaia is progressing a little bit more slowly, but it is getting there.  I love how soft the cotton/silk/nylon blend is.

Here is the start of my break-up super duper womanly strength sweater (I'll give you more details on this later).  Why do I knit with anything other than Madelinetosh Vintage?

My spinning project has been a little neglected, but I try to give it a few minutes every day.  The Targhee really is a joy to spin with.

I hope that you are all having a great Wednesday and I hope that you also join in with WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis.

I wanted to thank every single one of you who have been wonderful enough to support me through this really hard time.  Your comments and your love has helped me more than I can ever express.
Thank you! 

15 May 2012

The Start of Something New

I know I've been a little quiet lately on the blog and elsewhere.  A few days ago my boyfriend (who I loved dearly) of seven years broke it off.  I subsequently fell off the deep end, very much like that scene in Anchorman ("I'm in a glass case of emotion!"), but not quite as funny.

Fairly quickly I decided that instead of feeling sorry for myself and letting this ruin my hard earned graduation from college that I needed to take this as an opportunity for a new beginning.  In the Fall I will be moving to a new state, new university, new job, new everything.  What a chance I have here, I'm going to take full advantage of this!

I definitely needed a little boost to get me going, so I went to the place that heals all wounds, Webs!  As always, the second I walked into my favorite local yarn store I felt immediately better.

As though Webs knew I was going through a hard time, Ultra Alpaca was on super sale and so I helped myself to enough for a sweater.

Then I made a beeline straight to the Madelinetosh shelf.  I've always coveted this amazing yarn, but have never been able to justify the cost of more than one skein that one time (in a moment of weakness).  But, if this isn't an emergency, I don't know what is, and so I went for it and don't regret it one bit!

Things are difficult right now, but I'm going to stay positive and make the best of this situation.
On to bigger and better things!

11 May 2012

Cuddly Scrap Blanket

I had such a great time reading all the comments from last post.  You all are such wonderfully creative people and I hope that you all get a chance to have your own creative retreats soon!

I've been hard at work finishing my scrap blanket and am I ever happy with it!  There is something so satisfying about knitting something so substantial and using up a large bag of yarn scraps that was taking up space.

I'm aware that it desperately needs a good blocking to be the right shape, but I just don't have the space in my dorm room to do so right now.

Once I finished binding off I was very surprised to see how huge it had turned out considering how compact it had been on the circular needles.  I took this as a chance to practice my very basic crochet skills and try and get more comfortable with working with a hook, it worked out pretty well.

I also really enjoyed working with so many types of yarn, I've definitely rediscovered some favorites.  For example, I'm dying to work with Knit Picks Simply Cotton again, it is heavenly!

Some of you asked about the pattern, I totally improvised this pattern by just starting with 4 stitches and knitting in a round, increasing evenly by four stitches each round.  Super easy and fun!

Also some people have been asking about the quilt that was featured in the background of last post, it was a scrap quilt made by my great-grandmother, I treasure it immensely.

All through this project I envisioned how wonderful it will be to cuddle under this blanket in my new apartment this winter!

I also wanted to take some time to thank all of my wonderful blogging friends for cheering me on these last few months.  Writing a thesis and working towards a degree has not been easy and your support has been amazing!  Thank you so much!

09 May 2012

My own little island

Finals are finally over and now the only thing between me and graduation is the completion of my final thesis draft.  I've been under a huge amount of pressure and haven't really had time to spend on crafting for the last few weeks.  So, for the next few days I've decided to have a mini craft retreat where I get to spend as much time as I want to on my various projects.

I have so much I want to do!  I feel like there is a whole host of ideas that has been piling up in my head for a long time and now they all want out at once.  I decided that I really need to start a fiber art journal (about time!).

I started by planning for some colorwork pillows I want to knit for my first apartment:

Next I reevaluated my WIPs, one project in particular was bothering me, a sweater in a Vogue Knitting pattern that has so many mistakes and frustrating sections that I was having doubts that it would be worth my time:

So, I frogged the silly thing carefully (this is the second time I have frogged this yarn and the cotton/silk blend is not holding up very well...):

After some clicking around on Ravelry, I found a new pattern that I think will work much better (Gaia by Kristen TenDyke) and cast on feeling much more confident.

Now for the rest of the day I'm going to spin some lovely Targhee wool and relax!

If you could have a craft centered week without distractions, what would you do with it?

07 May 2012

Wholehearted Shawl

I finished my Wholehearted Shawl this weekend, which makes me a little sad.  I really enjoyed working on this project and I guess that part of me wanted for it to go on forever.  Now I understand why so many people cast on another for Evelyn's KAL (she just finished hers too, take a look!), it is such a fun pattern and knits up really quickly.

I could sing my praises for Araucania Itata Multy all day if you let me, the range of amazing colors this yarn comes in is simply fantastic and it makes great socks.  I chose these two colors because they were the one's in my stash and because frankly, I love the contrast between the pinks and oranges and the charcoal gray.

As a proud red-headed individual (technically I'm a daywalker, not a ginger, according to South Park standards), I think it looks great with my hair color.  I also like to wear shawls as scarves, I think they are more functional that way.

Also in the background of this photo note my TV and Xbox hidden under a blanket of dust and scattered papers from my frantic attempts at studying for one of the most difficult final exams I have ever had.  Needless to say, this semester cannot end fast enough.

Anyways, I've really enjoyed this project and I would highly recommend the Wholehearted pattern although there are a few mistakes in there that might confuse someone who has never knitted a shawl before.  The edging was probably the best part, I definitely want to use that style of bind off again in the future.

Many other talented people knitted this pattern alongside me in this KAL and I would recommend you take a look on the pattern page, what a collection of beautiful shawls!

04 May 2012

Pretty Pink Alpaca!

A little while ago I was the lucky winner of a giveaway over at Sara's lovely blog.  Imagine my glee when I found that I had received a beautiful braid of soft, shiny alpaca.  I want to thank her again for being such a fantastic blogging buddy!

As I wrote in a previous post, I enjoyed every moment I spent spinning this fiber and it certainly was worth it in the end:

- Finished: April 26, 2012
- Fiber: 100% alpaca (Gaia's Colours Fibre Arts)
- Spindle: Schacht 3" Hi-Lo drop spindle (2.2 oz.)
- Other Information: 1 skein, 3-ply, ~160 yards, 4 oz., DK weight

Now that I'm finished spinning this lovely fluffiness, I'm not sure what my future plans for it should be. Any ideas?

Also on a more serious note, scrap blanket has declared war on my ability to study for finals.  The current battle is being fought on my desk, and as you can see, the blanket is gaining precious ground...

02 May 2012

Work-in-progress Wednesday - #6

I've been knitting and spinning like a crazy person recently in response to having to present my thesis research today!  It isn't quite as big of a deal as a PhD level thesis presentation will be, but I have kind of a wacky research topic that certain faculty members don't like and so I'm fearful of the kinds of questions I might get.  But this is pretty much the last big thing I have to get through before graduation later this month!

My Beatnik is almost finished!  I've reached the seaming phase of the project which is terrifying me.  My next sweater will be knit in the round with no seaming, no doubt about it.

My Wholehearted Shawl is coming along beautifully (I love this project!).

Lastly, I've started a new spinning project with fiber from Abstract Fiber (100% Targhee wool).  I've never spun Targhee wool before and so far I like it a lot, it has a very similar feel to Merino wool.

I hope that you are all having a great Wednesday and I hope that you also join in with WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis.