Finished Friday: Knitting Socks from Leftover Yarn

Between the holidays and my new drawing class, I’ve been rather distracted, so my latest knitting project was understandably simple. I figured my best bet was to make yet another pair of socks from the pattern I know so well. The only problem: I didn’t have enough of any one sock yarn for a whole pair. My solution: combine the tag ends of yarn from socks I’d already made into a single pair.

These socks show the different yarns I used. My campaign to use up my leftovers was so successful that I haven't got any yarn left from the first three pairs.
These socks show the different yarns I used. (My campaign to use up my leftovers was so successful that I haven’t got any yarn left to photograph.)

To make the socks look like they belong together, I did my best to mix the yarns up as I went. I alternated two yarns throughout the body of the socks, knitting stripes two rows wide. I made several mistakes, knitting an extra row occasionally. I also ran out of yarn in the middle of a stripe and would just change it. I think the stray errors help keep the striping on the socks from being too predictable. The color changes in the yarns also helped with that.

If you look closely, you'll see that not all the stripes are the same width.
If you look closely, you’ll see that not all the stripes are the same width.
Socks made using four different self-striping yarns.
Socks made using four different self-striping yarns.

I didn’t bother to change yarns when knitting a toe or heel. I did carry the yarn into the body of the sock to help tie the toe and heel colors to the rest of the sock.

These were fun to knit, more interesting that working with just one yarn, and I like the narrow stripes I got. They look like they were made from leftovers, but I like that about them, too. No one is going to think I got these from a store!

What do you do with leftover yarn from a knitting or crochet project?

Finished Friday: Knitted Spindle Bag

I’ve finally done the construction work on the bag I’m making using the Napramach Bag pattern from Folk Bags: 30 Knitting Patterns & Tales From Around the World by Vicki Square. It still needs a lining, but since it’s not part of the official pattern, I’m declaring it done!

My version of the Napramach Bag. Done!
My version of the Napramach Bag. Done!

Using my handspun yarn for this project really helped give this ethnic pattern a handmade look. Since I underestimated how much yarn it would take, I had to spin some more before I could finish. Because I am still a beginner, the extra yarn I spun was only sort of like the yarn I was using, but it was close enough to do the job.

My lumpy handspun yarn made for lumpy knitting. But I like it!
My lumpy handspun yarn made for lumpy knitting. But I like it!

Making the tassels for this was more enjoyable than I expected, and knitting the strap was fun because it went so fast. To my way of thinking, the whole project was a great success.

The tassles proved to be fun and easy add-ons.
The tassels proved to be fun and easy add-ons.

Now all I have to do is get a lining in it so I can store my hand spindles in it!

In case you missed it, I first posted about this bag here and I included an update here.

Finished Friday: Handmade Kindle Cover

While on vacation, I practiced the basic granny square pattern in The Granny Square Book. I made a bunch of tiny granny squares using a size E (3.5 mm) crochet hook and scraps of self-striping sock yarn. The little blocks were charming and I decided to make them into a cover for my new Kindle.

Open case from the front
Open case from the front
Open case from the back
Open case from the back

To give the case a little more body, I made a pocket out of black felt and whip-stitched it to the crocheted case. For the tie, I reverted to my roots and knit a long I-cord.

Case tied shut.
Case tied shut.

The self-striping yarn gave me blocks of more than one color, but the patterns were haphazard at best. My favorites are these:

I love how many colors I got in this block.
I love how many colors I got in this block.
The heart in this block is a side-effect of the self-striping yarn.
The heart in this block is a side-effect of the self-striping yarn.

What do you do with the pieces you make while learning a new knitting or crocheting technique? Do you like homemade cases for your techno-toys or do you prefer the ones from the store?

Finished Friday: Knit Tomato and Napramach Bag (In Progress)

I continue to knit at random.

When I told a friend this, she imagined yarn strung all over the place with little patches of knitting attached. What I actually mean is that I keep grabbing patterns and making them just to keep my hands busy. My latest keep-busy knit was the tomato from Amigurumi Knits by Hansi Singh.

Tomato_web

I also tried the carrot from the same book, but quickly realized something was wrong. The piece was coming out way too wide and I still had a bunch of rows to go. I did a quick search on Ravelry and found out that the photo in the book, which shows a very elegant carrot, does not match the pattern in the book. Many people just cut the pattern down, stopping at the halfway point, but their carrots still didn’t look like the carrot in the book. I lost all interest in making the carrot, so I have nothing to show you for the time I spent on it.

Napramach Bag in Folk Bags
Napramach Bag in Folk Bags

Fed up with random knitting, I decided it was time to start a project with a purpose. I pulled Folk Bags: 30 Knitting Patterns & Tales From Around the World by Vicki Square off my shelf and flipped through it. I came across the long thin Napramach Bag of Ubekistan and thought it would make a wonderful hand spindle bag. To add to the fun, I decided to use my own hand-spun yarn to make it. What could be better than a bag for hand-spinning tools knit out of hand-spun yarns?

The first side of my version of the Napramach bag.
The first side of my version of the Napramach bag.

As soon as I finished knitting the first side, I blocked it so I could see how things were going. The bag is coming out bigger than the pattern predicts, which is no surprise. I didn’t bother with gauge because 1) my yarns are various sizes and 2) it doesn’t have to fit anything (except my spindles). The good news: it’s actually a good size for carrying my spindles and other yarn-related tools. The bad news: I have to knit the second side and I’m pretty sure I’m going to run out of yarn.

I’ve launched into the second side anyway, switching two of the yarns in the pattern to help with the not-enough-yarn problem. I know I’m going to run out of some of the more distinctive yarns. I don’t know if I will just introduce other colors or if I’ll try to get more roving and spin matching yarn to finish up the bag. I’ll be at my favorite fiber store later next week, so it will probably depend on what they have in stock.

I’m having great fun working on this larger project, despite my anxieties about not having enough yarn. Knitting something out of yarn I made myself is a satisfying and pleasing experience, even though the yarn is far from perfect. The quirky bag that is going to be the result of all my efforts is going to be the perfect home for my spindles. I can’t wait until it’s done!

My Novel Draft is Done and I’m Surprised By How I Feel

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. —Ray Bradbury

I saw the end coming. I knew the scenes that needed to be written, how long they needed to be, and how long it would take me to write that many words. I knew this first draft of my novel about Rapunzel would be done before August, and I was right. I finished yesterday, after three and a half years of writing, research, and interruptions.

My project notebooks, my research cards, and my 436-page first draft. Whew!
My project notebooks, my research cards, and my 436-page first draft. Whew!

Three and a half years. I can’t believe that I’ve worked on a writing project this long. The most amazing thing? It’s not really done. The draft is my road map, to help me discover the story I want to tell. After it rests for a few months, it will be time to revise it, keeping and adding only the things that tell the story I decide is The Story.

In the meantime, I’m terrified. Three and a half years is 42 months. I’ve been working on Rapunzel forever and I don’t know what’s next. I’ve got plenty of projects to choose from, including my more promising NaNoWriMo novels and stories I haven’t written yet.

Finishing this draft, which has been my writing goal for so long, has me full of conflicting ideas and emotions.

Part of me wants to party endlessly. I’ve earned a break. Look at how long I’ve been working on this! I should get a month to goof off, at least. (That it’s summer and I always feel like doing nothing for months doesn’t help any.) I should let myself play with other things, like sewing or drawing or painting. Or sleeping.

Part of me knows I’m not done just yet. Even though I intend to let the draft rest for at least three months before I look at it again, I have lots of little chores to do right now. I need to update my plot summary, make a list of research questions I still need to answer, and write down the ideas I have about where I want to go with this. Taking the time to do these things while I’m still thinking about them will save me time later, when I’m ready to pick this project up again.

Part of me fears that I will waste time if I don’t start in on a new project at once. At the same time, I’m terrified of picking the next project. What if I make a bad decision? Having so many choices means I have to put one of the projects ahead of the others. Should I pick up the book that I got stuck on now that I have ideas of how to fix it or will I just get stuck again? Which of the three books from my Twelve Kingdoms series should I finish first? I’m paralyzed by the thought I’ll make a big mistake about what’s next and put time and energy into something I can’t finish.

Mostly, I know that I am in trouble here because I have just crossed a finish line. I recently learned that finish line goals can keep us from developing habits. This is why it is imperative that I have a plan that keeps me writing. I haven’t been writing consistently for all this time; I’ve had to take breaks for various reasons, from vacations or illnesses to needing to focus on research for a while. But I need to pick up another project and get to work.

So I’m happy, terrified, paralyzed, annoyed, tired, and wrestling with doubt. I know my fear of making a mistake about what to work on next is going to be overpowered by my fear that I will stop writing altogether, even though that fear isn’t realistic.

I love writing. I don’t need to be afraid that I will quit. I know from experience I can’t. I have to stay drunk on writing, or I will go crazy.

Finished Friday: Avalanche Lily Bag

I’ve been spending so much time on writing and the yard this summer that not much is getting made these days. Fortunately, we had a rainy day on the weekend and I got to sew. I’d been longing to sit quietly and make something with my hands. I picked a project from Omiyage: Handmade Gifts from Fabric in the Japanese Tradition by Kumiko Sudo, got out needle and thread, and stitched the entire thing by hand.

omiyageBook

What a restful way to spend a few hours, making little stitches to put together pieces of fabric. Listening to the gentle patter of rain and feeling the cool, damp air on my face were part of the treat. Summer in Colorado is unusually wet this year, but most of the water has come as violent thunderstorms. The words “gentle” and “rain” rarely go together.

I was able to get this bag together in a single day. The pattern is called “Avalanche Lily”. There was a mistake in the pattern, so I had to re-draft one of the pieces to get it to fit properly, but it was worth the effort.

Avalanche Lily bag, side view.
Avalanche Lily bag, side view.
You can see the lily in the bag's name if you look down from the top.
You can see the lily in the bag’s name if you look down from the top.

The author recommends using this bag to store a string of pearls. I don’t own any pearls, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. But I look at it and feel calm and satisfied, reminded of the gift of a quiet rainy sewing day in the middle of July.

bagOpen_web

Finished Friday: Knitted Octopus and More Yarn

I finished another Hansi Singh pattern this week. I was curious about the shaping of the octopus head, so I made one. Mine isn’t as colorful as the red and yellow example in her book, but I like how it turned out.

IMG_4769_web
My version of Hansi Singh’s Octopus.
I love that the head is so realistic in shape.
I love that the head is so realistic in shape.

The legs have pipe cleaners in them so you can hook those arms around anything. I think this octopus is going to move around a lot more than my other knit toys do.

My octopus is all ready to lend a hand. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)
My octopus is all ready to lend a hand. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

I am also spinning again. I’m stuck with my novel and trying to get the story moving by letting my brain wander. I got out my hand spindles for these yarns, partially because I was away from home and needed to pack light, and partially because my character lives long before spinning wheels were invented.

The blue is Corriedale dyed with Indigo. The red is Cotswold dyed with madder. (I bought both fibers prepped and dyed.)
The blue is Corriedale dyed with indigo. The red is Cotswold dyed with madder. (I bought both fibers already prepped and dyed.)

I have had a glimmer of an insane art project idea. Actually, it’s an idea I’ve toyed with in the past, but this time new things are connecting with it and giving me exciting new ideas about how to approach it. The project is huge, complicated, and enticing. I’m going to let it cook some more before I talk about it with anyone, but I think I know what I’ll be working on in my studio next. Unfortunately, it’ll be a long time before any of it is ready for Finished Friday.