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In a slump

What do you do when nothing that you have cast on is what you want to knit? What about when you have things that need knit and none seem like what you want? I’m in a knitting slump. I have cast on the Reyna shawl, which I want finished. I don’t want TO finish it. I want it finished. Also I have a few socks that need finished (started.) I still have that blanket for Jim. I should work on the scarf I am making as a Christmas gift, or start the hat I plan on making. I was going to make a toy for my nephew for his first birthday, but that hasn’t happened, either. Maybe that can be done quickly before the party? We’ll see. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

I want to knit a sweater. My mind is all consumed with that want. I keep looking at patterns and yarn. I never knit one before. I should get the needles needed and attempt a baby sweater for technique. I am trying to hold off on buying anything because my birthday is coming up. Although I could just pretend that is my gift to myself (we shouldn’t spend money, though…)

What do you do when you are in a rut like this? Do you force your way through?

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knitting

A Place to Call Home

Lately I’ve been even more focused on wanting to buy a house and get out of this apartment we are in. Unfortunately, though, husband’s car is dead so that will come first when we have the extra money.  The main reason I want one at this point is so I can sit on the porch, sip my coffee, and knit. Especially in the mornings. Right now, if I do that, I am staring at a somewhat busy road and my neighbors on their porch.  I’m also dreaming of what my knitting room will look like. I have a room I could convert now but I feel like doing that is saying “I know we’ll never be leaving this place.” It will turn my apartment into Hotel California. I was thinking, though, that I would like a large stand-up light, a wing-back recliner, and a small table to start. Then, some storage cubes instead of the book shelf everything is tossed onto now, so that I can store by yarn weight.

I’ve been working on the Dudester Scarf again while I try to decide what to make next. I know I’ll be making a hat or two for my husband, J, but those shouldn’t take long at all. (I love hats because I feel like I accomplished something and it’s quick!) I was thinking of maybe a shawl or scarf.  I want to make one with the Hygge Bound – Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn I received last year (!!!!) in a Loopy Ewe subscription box for my grandmother for (hopefully) Christmas if I get my butt moving.  I also can’t decide what pattern to use. I have ~696 yds. of DK weight. The colors are perfect. I just cannot locate the perfect pattern and I hate that.

I also want to make a shawl for myself with the Baah! La Jolla that I have. I have Market Flowers, that was purchased at So Much Yarn during my full day layover in Seattle, and then I have an almost-full skein of Burmese Ruby.  I am torn between two patterns for this one and can’t decide. I am looking at the Tokerau Shawl by Francoise Danoy or the Baikal shawl by Susanna IC. Which do you prefer? They are very similar.

I thought I would love knitting socks, but I haven’t done much at all of that. I think part of that, though, is because I still haven’t bought or made sock blockers, so they look sad when I’m done. I really need to get on that. Maybe I’ll make a wishlist somewhere for J to purchase from. Hmm… Any online suggestions? Since he has no car he can’t really go to the LYS I love.

What does your knitting room/area look like?

Which shawl pattern do you prefer? Do you have a suggestion for the Hygge Bound?

Where do you think the best place is to make an online wishlist for knitting paraphernalia?

Until next time.

 

Patterns Mentioned:

Dudester Scarf

Baikal Shawl

Tokerau Shawl

knitting

Warm Head, Chilly Fingers

I realize I am not blogging consistently. That will change. I hope. Maybe. I thought I would pop on a bit and give an update on what I am working on and what I plan to work on.

I need to make a hat for Jim (my husband.) The last one I made? It didn’t turn out well. I used the wrong yarn and wrong needles and knit too tight. It would fit an infant. Maybe. It might fit one of our cats if it had ear holes. SO I am going to try again. He wants a black hat with some hot pink on it. I have the yarn, Plymouth Worsted Superwash Merino. He plans on wearing them hiking so I thought the superwash merino would be best. The pattern I plan on using is Laurus by Dianna Walla. I haven’t done much colorwork yet. Especially in the round, so we will see. I know I can swatch, which I essentially did on the first hat I made, and found out it was too small/tight, so I am altering. Fingers crossed this one turns out. He has yet to receive anything I’ve made, and I haven’t touched the blanket I am working on.

I finished the Cable Rouge hat and I love it. It’s blocking right now. This is a photo pre-blocking.

Cable Rouge

The yarn is Pichinku Baby Alpaca DK weight in Sunrise. I loved working with this yarn, and really want a sweater made out of it. I haven’t made a sweater, yet, but am going to attempt it and then make one out of this amazing yarn. This was also my first time at cables, and there is only one ‘major’ error in the entire thing. The ribbing is loose. Overall I am happy, though.

I also decided to attempt at writing my own pattern. I will need test knitters when it is done before I publish it. If this turns out ok, then they will be a gift for my mother-in-law. We’ll see.

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Can you guess what it is? The yarn is Spirit Trail Fiberworks Brigantia in Atlantis. This is also a really great DK yarn. I have so much fingering and DK is becoming a favorite weight; I guess I need to stock up at some point. I used this yarn for my Lannister Shawl a few months back.

I also think I might attempt a Flax Light sweater by TinCan Knits for my nephew. I don’t have the appropriate size 16″ but maybe since it’s small I can use DPNs? We’ll see. I could wait until my birthday and get the needle set that I want, but I don’t know. I am very impatient.

I do a lot of my knitting at work, and it’s nice that I can. The only down side is that people are always asking me to make them things. How do you decide if someone is knit worthy? I haven’t knit for anyone, yet, but we’ll see.

Patterns mentioned in this post:

Laurus – Dianna Walla

Cable Rouge – Marisa Hernandez

Lannister Shawl – Dominique Trad

Flax Light – TinCan Knits

knitting

Now what?

The socks are done. Not finished, not cast off, but I gave up. They were looking a bit weird, (well, the one I was working on,) clearly not going to be finished in time for the 10/7 wedding that is 600 miles away, and it is supposed to be 85°F that day, so who needs wool socks, right? They might be done by the time the happy couple is 90. I gave myself way too much credit to be able to finish two pairs of socks by then. Also I may have chosen the plainest pattern to try to knit in a bigfoot size. It was boring me. I was sleepy working on it. So I gave up. They will join the other UFOs that I have. (I do still like the look of the Hessian Boot Socks by Anne Podlesak, but not for a bigfoot size. That’s a lot of stockinette for a men’s size 13)

So what am I going to cast on next? I was going to start a hat for myself, (Cable Rouge by Marisa Hernandez) but one of my DPNs is snagging and I need to get to the store to get that exchanged. I may pick up the needles needed for H’s hat, too, but I’m not positive yet.

I also want to make a sweater, but don’t have enough yarn for an adult sweater. I’ve also never made one before, so I’d like to start with something smaller. Thankfully, between my baby bro and baby sis, I have 6 nephews and niece ranging from 11 months to 18 years old. I’m sure I can make one for one of them. I should decide on a pattern so I can get the correct size of 16″ needle. Hmm..Any suggestions?

Patterns mentioned:

Cable Rouge – Marisa Hernandez

Hessian Boot Socks – Anne Podlesak

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Don’t ask

Don’t even ask about the wedding socks. Really, please don’t. I am not finished with the first sock yet. I also want to start a shawl. I also am supposed to be test knitting a shawl. Also I am going away this weekend so maybe I can knit then? But we are hiking. So I’ll be hiking. I can’t knit and hike. My brain doesn’t work that way. I kind of just want to take a nap, too.

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Overwhelmed with Yarn

I keep stretching myself thin and don’t even know where to begin. I have two pairs of socks that need finished (and one pair isn’t even started) that are gifts for a family member for their wedding. I think they will turn out very well, but the men’s need to be for a size 13 and I am only on sock #1 still! I feel like it’s never going to end. Also, I have a scarf I’ve been working on since May that is a Christmas gift for a friend. That I at least have time to work on still. Then there is the shawlette that is in time out. I have maybe 11 rows, but there are mistakes throughout. I should frog it but don’t want to. This is why it’s in time out. I can’t decide. OH! Yeah! There is also only 1 Broadripple sock done. That is in time out because I was waiting until I got sock blockers. I didn’t get those yet so I keep telling myself that I have time. Those are just for me, thankfully.

Did I mention the test knit? Yeah. I have a test knit to do of a shawl. That needs at least cast on, too. I’m considering frogging the shawlette to reuse that yarn because I love it so much.

I have been pretending nothing but the wedding socks are here, and have been reading a bit too. Nothing educational, just fluffy stuff, but still.

Let’s just pretend that an “easy” blanket pattern has been on the needles since last year.

Should I frog the shawlette? What are YOU working on? Let me know in the comments! 

 

Patterns mentioned:

Blanket – Cozy Striped Blanket by Lindsay Hunt

Socks for me – Broadripple by Rob Matyska

Wedding socks – Hessian Boot Socks by Anne Podlesak (I’m doing a traditional rib instead of mistake)

Scarf – Dudester Scarf by Janet Pihota

Shawlette – Gail (AKA Nightsongs) by Jane Araújo 

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Quick pics I happened to have. Yarns: various Caron acrylic (blanket,) The Yarn Jar custom dye (Broadripple,) Meadowcroft Dyeworks Four twenty (shawlette,) Quaint Acres Alpaca (scarf,) & Malabrigo sock Arch Angel + Bah La Jolla Burmese Ruby(wedding socks,)

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Pichinku Yarn/Dana Blair interview

I write for one of my local free magazines. Generally, the articles are based around the paranormal (I used to be really involved in that;) but my last article was an interview with Dana Blair from Pichinku Yarn. I thought I would copy that over here so that (hopefully!) more people can read it.  The reason I wrote about Dana and Pichinku in my local magazine, that focuses on local things, is because even though I found her on Instagram and backed her via Kickstarter, she’s from south of Pittsburgh also!

What initially made you decide to go to Peru? /

Was it specifically to start an alpaca yarn company or was it vacation?

I’ve said many times in the past 4 years that at 22 years old, I was offered my dream job on a silver platter. After submitting 50+ job applications and only having 2 interviews in 2013, I accepted the position of director of operations for Threads of Peru in Cusco. My parents were thrilled!

Threads of Peru is a not-for-profit social enterprise that connects the world to handmade treasures of the Andes, helping to strengthen ancient craft techniques and empower artisans.

I had just come back from Peru, finishing up an archaeology internship with Stanford University in the central Andes, and had only studied textiles from an antique perspective. Two weeks after accepting the position, I was launched into working with the living, breathing practitioners of this 5,000-year-old tradition. To say the very least, I fell in love with the Threads artisan family and my adoptive home.  

How did you meet the women that you work with in Cusco?

I’ve had the privilege to work with hundreds of weavers through Threads of Peru but one family in particular has become like my own. Pichinku is beginning production with only two incredibly beautiful and talented sisters – Angela and Santusa – from the Andean community, Totora. In addition to having an awe-inspiring knowledge of traditional dyeing, they are hands down some of the most accomplished artisans in the Cusco region. When asked, they will be the first to share how deeply they appreciate that their mother and grandmothers patiently taught them these skills, that they passionately feel obligated to continue practicing.

How long have you been traveling back and forth?

While pursuing my bachelor’s degree at PSU-University Park, I participated in many international travel opportunities, beginning with 6 months studying abroad in Brazil in 2010. I returned to Brazil the following summer on grant from the Matson Museum of Anthropology, and then to Peru after graduating in 2012 as an archaeology intern with Stanford. My “plan” had always been to go back to Brazil but things went a bit off track after accepting my position with Threads!

Before the Kickstarter launched, how long were you working and planning for Pichinku?

It seems like a totally romanticized version of the story, but I remember waking up in April 2016 with an almost complete vision for Pichinku, even our logo!

My passion is to preserve world heritage by investing in the artisans that carry on traditional practices today. In making them economically viable, we better ensure that they will survive, and support the well-being of artisans and their families.

It’s disheartening for those of us that work with traditional pieces, and natural fibers, that the market doesn’t seem to know the difference between those high quality products and cheap synthetics.

After working hand-in-hand with the Threads artisans, I started to imagine things differently because heavy textiles are difficult. Yarn on the other hand is “simple” and globally marketable. Pichinku aspires to help fill the lack of naturally dyed fiber on the market. And just by purchasing yarn, consumers positively impact the environment and generate long-term opportunities for artisans in Peru. 

 

Were you surprised at how much funding you had received for the company?

I could never have imagined or dreamed or hoped etc. etc. for such an overwhelmingly supportive and generous response to our campaign. Especially considering that I didn’t have a Plan B. Plan A (Kickstarter) really needed to work! I also can’t imagine there being better assurance for the future success of Pichinku e.g. close to 400 people, from college professors to complete strangers, believed in the business enough to invest money in it!

What types of dyes do you use for the yarn?

Pichinku works according to ancient Andean tradition, sourcing plant and mineral materials by hand in the valleys surrounding Cusco. No chemicals, no nonsense, just beautiful yarn!

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photo courtesy of Dana Blair

Are the alpacas owned by the women that you work with?

 We source all our yarn (highland wool, alpaca and baby alpaca) from Michell and Cia, the highest quality producer of Peruvian fibers. And although some have questioned, even criticized my decision to source commercial yarn (e.g. not sourcing from the local farmers myself) I believe it’s better left to the experts!

I have worked with Michell for close to 5 years and not only are they family-run and trustworthy, their work has provided employment opportunities and genetic research advancements that will keep the alpaca industry alive in Peru. Their production is 100% ethical, down to their fiber being hand-sorted (no machines) by micron quality and sourced from traditional alpaca herding families in the Andes, like those that Pichinku works with.

Are you going to continue to travel back and forth or are you going to settle in Peru?

I attribute much of my success to the small-town, family values that I grew up with in the Mon Valley. I’ll always come home. Peru is another part of my heart, life and career path that I’m very grateful for. With years of growth and adventures with Pichinku ahead, I plan to always have a base there but whether there, here or anywhere, I’m not really the “settling” kind!

How does your family feel about your traveling and your company?

They are hands down the biggest supporters of both me and Pichinku, and have been since the very beginning! Can you imagine your parents buying you a plane ticket to move to Peru, when you’re only 22 years old, two weeks after accepting an NGO position? My mom and dad not only support me, but know and love me for who I am.

When did Pichinku yarn become available for sale? 

We opened online sales via Etsy (PichinkuYarn) in July, and full scale sales from our website when it launches [will be available] in October-November. Wholesale orders will be taken in August for a limited number of stockists!

Pichinku Yarn on Etsy

 

This interview originally appeared in PABridges magazine and website.

knitting

My first post

I’m not sure what the point in this blog really is, I doubt I’ll even have many followers at all. I’ve started and stopped numerous blogs over the years. Really, what I’m hoping, is that this will keep me knitting and not ending up with a million UFOs like I have now. I’d also like a place to post photos of my work along the way, as well as if I ever figure out how to write patterns, somewhere to post them.

I entered my first project in the county fair. Three were only a total of 5 shawl entries. I didn’t place, but now I know what to expect and also possibly somewhere better to enter. I’ve also had a few people ask about buying items I’ve knit, but then I tell them the cost and they nearly choke.

I have been thinking of using scrap sock yarn, though, and trying to sell cup coozies. My local coffee shop may be willing to display them. What do you all think?