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Before summer gets too cozy

It’s that time of year, dear knitters! Or at least for those of us in more northern climes – the time when we remember what it feels like to not wear socks all the time, when it’s about to get so hot and humid for a while that we will completely forget what cold feels like and come October we will be whimpering into our cocoa about the crime of dressing for +10 Celsius. Right exactly now is pretty good for southern Ontario, because it’s sunny and green and the really stupid humidity and heat haven’t hit yet, so we’re all filled with dreams about walking and biking and sitting outside.

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It is also the time of year when we get to put away the handknitted things for a few months. We’ve had a few up-down-up-down weeks and finally last week I decided it was time to just wash all the accessory knits that hadn’t been washed, and get them stowed away for good. As much as is humanly possible, try to put all your knits away clean, because then the little fluttery things that are attracted to wooly things are less likely to be interested in them. Your sweaty hat and mitts with the spilled coffee and doughnut sugar on them are delicious to those creatures.

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This year I am also going to take the added step of putting things in zipped plastic bags. I’ve never (yet, knock on wood) had a problem with my wooly knits before, but I’ve started thinking one can’t be too careful.
Last summer I took the step of bagging up the majority of my yarn stash, after water damage in the rest of the house made me want to start taking more precautions. So I’ll start with bagging up the accessories, then the sweaters once I get some more airtight reinforcements.

Nothing is completely foolproof, I don’t think – you could, naturally end up bagging up a little critter along with something knitted, or they could find a little hole somewhere and get in anyway. So any method is better than no method, and above all it’s important to toss things around every so often just to get the fresh air in there and disturb anything that might be getting cozy. (Honestly even just thinking about it is stressing me out a little bit. Actually more than a little bit. Lalalalala be cool, little fluttery creatures! Nothing to see here!)

So, that’s on my to-do list for the next week! Take care of your knitted treasures, friends, and may your house be dry and forever avoided by pests.

Until next week!

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Island time

My lace cardigan, the partner to the pullover I finished a few weeks ago, is taking shape and I’m pleased to report that I’ve reached the sleeves portion of it. As much as I am enjoying the colour and the yarn and really look forward to having the finished thing, both to wear and publish (never fear, the notes are being written up and prepped for the tech editor literally this very second), I always forget how knitting the same pattern twice in a row slows me down a little.

I could or should be better and faster at it by the second time, having long memorized the stitch pattern and knowing exactly what size I’m making and so on and so forth, but some portion of brain checks in after a few inches to say “BORED NOW,” and then promptly checks out again until I do something different.

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This always happens more easily anyway on seamless sweaters (or at least it does to me – perhaps you are a champion at speed knitting while bored), because regardless of whether you are knitting them top-down or bottom-up, you are going to hit the large section of the body that keeps going for many many inches. Knitting island sets in, and you’re never getting off.

But! It turns out eventually you do get off of the island and stop for a jaunt to the sleeves, and then eventually the yoke and the finishing up. It’s going to get done, really for reals. Looking forward to it. Maybe I’ll cast on a new something or other just to celebrate the almost-done-ness of it, I’ve only got 2 projects on the go right now and it occurs to me maybe that is just not enough projects.

Onwards with the knitting! May your project time be speedy and fascinating, or at least one of the above. Happy Wednesday!

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock ‘lucky penny’ colourway

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Speed is relative

Last week a few of you asked me how I managed to fit so much knitting into my life. While I can’t say that I try to speed knit a sweater every week (or every month), I do manage to turn out a couple of finished projects each month, and not just small ones. So I do keep a decent pace, and a lot of that is due to simple experience. I’ve been knitting steadily for ten years now, and overall I’m faster than I started. (I’ve also noticed that my tension is ever so slightly looser than when I started, which I think is neat. It also means I really do have to swatch to make sure of things, darn it.)

There are ways to knit faster on a technical level – in other words to increase the number of stitches you’re knitting each minute – and there are people who simply knit extremely fast. I have known knitters who could turn out a sweater within a week just in their transit knitting time, but I am not quite that brisk. Mostly what I find is that my speed comes from the way I fit knitting into my life, and it boils down to three basic steps.

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1. Make time for knitting

I know it’s a tad obvious to point this out, but the harsh reality is that if you don’t knit, your knitting will not get knitted. Who among us hasn’t gotten to the end of a week completely shocked that the sweater we haven’t touched since last weekend did not miraculously start its own sleeves all by itself? I certainly have had my moments like that. There are days when I don’t get as much knitting in as I’d like, and some days pass without any knitting at all depending on what’s up that day. On the whole I make sure I’m spending at least a few minutes with at least one project every day, and gradually it adds up to finished work.

2. Find your Netflix groove, ditch the smartphone

It’s a habit of mine to knit while watching television, so much so that if I were not able to knit, I would probably watch way less television. Or, if I didn’t knit I would probably switch to something else I could do at the same time. Maybe I’d go back to needlepoint. (Knitting colonized all of my other crafting hobbies, and I regretted nothing.) So, if I’m engaged in what I’m watching then it is very easy to keep sitting and knitting. Honestly I would put Netflix on my list of favourite knitting tools, right up there with stitch markers and tape measures. Remember in olden times of, you know, four years ago, when you were watching tv shows on DVD and you had to physically get up to change the disc in order to keep going? HAH. We don’t even have that standing in the way now, and don’t even have to feel lazy about it since our needles are still keeping busy. The point is that watching TV enables my knitting. Something else might be your enabler – podcasts, radio, patio time with an iced beverage.

The hitch comes if I’m set up with my television/enabling time and I’m watching something I am only half-interested in or that I’ve seen before, because then my eyes are more likely to wander towards my smartphone. It is all too easy to be distracted. I stand a better chance if I just leave my phone in another room, or even flip it face down so I can’t see it blinking at me if I’ve got a new email notification. Earlier in the year I gave myself a talking to and deleted all the game apps off of my phone, because I realized I was playing games first thing when I sat down, not knitting.

You might do just fine for willpower against your smartphone, however. Maybe you don’t even have a smartphone or wireless internet, and your time constraints are entirely different from mine. The moral of the story is that there are about a billion things that can (and do) take up your time during the day, so if you want to make more room for knitting, you have to control the ones you can control.

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3. Divide and conquer

This, in my mind, is the easiest “get knitting done” strategy, but it is also more of a longer term strategy. What you do is, quite simply, have different projects for different kinds of knitting situations. Lengthier stints at home on the sofa are for sweaters or anything complex, but sock projects are portable and can be stuffed in my purse for knitting in transit, or while waiting around, or just in case I have unexpected time and don’t want to sit idle. Plain ribbed socks and Pi Shawls have been my go-to projects for knitting at the movie theatre. (You don’t have to knit at the movie theatre, of course. Sometimes I really do sit back and shove popcorn into my face.)

The Mason Dixon ladies have a list in one of their books for places they don’t knit, including funerals, and there are also places and situations I will put the knitting away. You probably have your own list of these places also. However I would say about 90% of my social circle is composed of knitters, which makes it about 900% easier to knit even if I’m with other people, so I really recommend making friends with as many knitters as possible.

You  can’t knit everywhere, and you can’t knit all the time, but you can knit a lot of places and can choose virtually any project you want if you really want to knit it. Versatility is your friend.

Where have you knitted today, dear knitter friends? Shout out to everyone knitting in cafes and on public transit, because those are my favourite.

Until next time!

 

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘lucky penny’ colourway)

Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock (by me)
Yarn: Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colourway ‘grawk’ and ‘hard rock’

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The three-week sweater and its buddy

Although socks are edging their way back onto the racetrack over here at Knitting to Stay Sane, sweater knitting has certainly not been abandoned, never fear. The ‘two-week sweater’ did indeed turn into a ‘three-week sweater’, which is super awesome in my world.

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While it cuts a less imposing figure on the dress form (try as I might I just can’t make it pretend to have my shoulders), I think it’s going to be a nice light and casual spring/summer pullover, which is exactly what I was going for. I remembered last summer when I was working in an air-conditioned office how few fingering weight sweaters I had, and how nice they are for transitional seasons in any case.

So, I wasted no time in starting a cardigan buddy for this one, and I am prepared to love it even more. I am coveting the idea of having more light sweaters in my wardrobe, so that is fuelling my desire to finish it just as quickly and get it into wearable form before too long.

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It’s been a busy week behind the scenes lately, with lots of to-and-fro-ing of various kinds, so one of those weeks where just keeping in a bit of knitting time is all good. The rows start to stack up gradually as long as you keep knitting them, thank goodness.

I hope you’re knitting something fun this week, blog friends! Until next time.

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘truffle’ colourway for pullover, ‘lucky penny’ colourway for cardigan)

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Right on schedule

Spring is upon us around these parts, so much so that we might be firmly into patio-sitting weather this coming weekend. In fact, I’ve considered that I could probably take the pair of emergency fingerless mitts out of my handbag for good, it’s looking so much like spring. Amazing, the outdoors is warm and the sunshine is taking up the whole sky not just occasional bursts of it.

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Appropriately enough, I’ve remembered about sock knitting, which is a thing I tend to do in the spring and summer. I keep them around for “purse knitting” at other times of the year as well, but somehow once the weather ticks over to the time when I don’t need to wear socks anymore, knitting them seems to make a lot more sense. (In general I think this is not a bad way to go, because knitting things out of season means you have new things to wear ready to go when they are in season. If I can just convince myself about knitting bulky mittens and cowls in July being totally normal I will basically be ready to take over the world.)

The pair above is one I’ve had going since Christmas, actually, I started it for movie theatre knitting and then I didn’t end up seeing many other movies for a couple months. But that’s been rectified lately and these have seen more action (inside the movie theatre and out), and actually in the few days that passed since I took that photo, I’ve finished that pair and am ready to start a new one. Which is a good thing, too, because I’ve got Avengers to see and more sock knitting to do. Ribbed socks are great for all occasions, including dark movie theatres in my book. (Later, I’ll make a date to cast on a new pair of Jaywalkers, because I always need more of those).

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The only problem is choosing a colour. Oh wait, did I say problem? I meant “opportunity.” Stash diving is awesome.

Happy Thursday, knitter friends!

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Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock (by me)
Yarn: Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colourway ‘grawk’

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A three week sweater for sure, though

Well dear knitter friends, after two weeks of knitting I am pleased to report that I have…

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…most of a sweater. The lion’s share of it is done – I have the body and two sleeves, and I’m now joined up and am working on the yoke. Once I split for the front neckline it’ll start to reel in pretty quickly, so maybe it’s still a two-and-a-half or a three-week-sweater, which I can also be pleased with. I am admittedly a bit bummed that I didn’t quite get it done in the imagined two week goal, but I’m also glad that I did things like eat and sleep and get physical exercise and take time out to, well, write down notes for said sweater (rookie mistake not writing it all down first, dangit Glenna do you think athletes go to the Olympic trials without practicing first? Tsk), so all in all I’ll take it.

Can’t slow down too much though, because once this one is done…

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…it’s going to get a buddy in a different colour – because I’ve decided this definitely needs to be a cardigan as well.

No rest for the wicked! I hope you get lots of great knitting in this weekend too. Until next time!

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘truffle’ colourway)

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Arbitrary goals are still goals

My “two week sweater” efforts are continuing, dear knitter friends, as I continue knitting away, and trying to make up for a bit more non-knitting weekend time than I might have liked. Although non-knitting time does assist in, you know, helping one’s arms and wrists not to fall off, so there is that.

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So far I’ve gotten a large portion of the body done – though I will need another couple of inches on that before I join it up to make the final yoke – and have started the second sleeve. All in all this is pretty good progress, I must admit.

Will I make it to a finished sweater by Friday? Well, I’d be lying if I said I was completely confident about that, but having the arbitrary goal is getting me knitting on it pretty briskly, so I am pleased with that.

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I’ve had personal sweater goals like this before, but they were usually attached to things like Rhinebeck or travelling deadlines when I wanted to be able to wear the finished thing. This one is a bit more arbitrary, but still good – I think sometimes it’s easy to get mired in all the things that need to get done that we slow down, and a deadline helps pick up the pace.

Maybe I’ll have a finished sweater by the end of the week – or darned close to one? Fingers crossed either way.

Do you have knitting goals for the current season? I hope that you’ve got something fun to get absorbed in.

Happy Tuesday, knitter friernds!

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘truffle’ colourway)

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