Knit Meter

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Make Project Bags of Course

(Like six of them!)

Someone on Ravelry linked to this tutorial for making drawstring bags which they thought would make a good sock project bag. I looked at the tutorial and it seemed easy enough so I decided to make one.

I don't actually have a fabric stash. When we cleared out my mother-in-law's house I brought back with me quite a bit of her fabric. When we moved 2 1/2 years later I had not touched any of it so I gave it all away. Apart from fabric for two designated projects, the only fabric I have are scraps which I am gradually sewing together.

To make the bag, all that was needed was 3 fat quarters and some ribbon for the drawstrings. Easy enough I thought, just buy a pack of fat quarters and sew. No deciding on matching or contrasting colours or designs. So what did I do when I got to Jo-Ann's? Buy three packs of fat quarters. Because if I am trying to use up my yarn stash, why not start a fabric stash?

I set aside some time to make a bag so as not to be interrupted by pesky things like housework or eating. Chose three fabrics from one of the packs and got going. I completed one bag apart from the drawstrings and decided I had time to make more. I wondered if I could streamline the process - stack fabric for cutting, sew the seams in a continuous flow etc. This worked except when you are making five bags and you make a mistake it is likely to be repeated across all five. You know that old adage "measure twice, cut once"? There's a reason for it and the five bags are narrower than the original. When cutting the first piece I read the numbers on the ruler from the wrong side. Oh well. The bags are still sock project size or can be used for gifts.

Rather than buy more fabric for the drawstrings, I used the fabric left over from the main piece. Instead of 2 pieces cut to the required width, I cut 4 of the required width and 1/2 the required length plus extra for joining. I used a diagonal line to join 2 strips together and then continued as the instructions.

I am pleased with my bags. The instructions say three fat quarters plus fabric or ribbon for the drawstrings. You can make one bag out of three FQs but two bags can be made from four FQs as one FQ is enough for accent and lining fabric. There are more bags in my future. I have 3 FQs that have not been cut plus I have started a patchwork bag out of the scraps of fabric I did keep. And by finishing the bags this weekend I did not add to my pile of unfinished projects. I am very pleased with myself.

And as I had the sewing machine set up I completed a few repair jobs that I had been putting off because I didn't want to set up the sewing machine for one small job. (Even though I had three small jobs.)

Monday, April 29, 2013

What To Do When You Have Too Many Projects On The Go

Before I answer that, I should probably explain how you (read I) can end up with too many unfinished projects. A term which can be reduced to a TLA or two; UFO for unfinished object which is a project that has been languishing for so long the chances of it being finished this decade are slim; and WIP for work in progress which is a project that is currently being worked on although it too may be set aside for other projects.

I have an ideal number of projects in progress: 3 + 1. The plus one does not really count as a work in progress as it is a project that lives in the car. This stems from my days as son's chauffeur and if I was early for pick up or practice ran late then I always had something to work on. Only yesterday I knitted a few rows on the car project as we had stopped to look at the sea on the way back from breakfast. (As a side note I love looking at the sea and you can't really do that when reading a book.)

Before I explain my ideal number of 3 I want to explain how I rate projects as easy or hard. The differentiation is the amount of concentration that is required. An easy pattern requires little concentration, it has minimal shaping and patterning and I can read, watch sub-titles, carry on a conversation while knitting (so that the person I am with doesn't think I am focused on my knitting). A hard pattern requires much concentration, the hardest being where the only other thing I can do at the same time is listen to music. Although I would like most of them to be at the level of being able to listen to an audio book. The first shawl shown in this post I classified as hard because of the beads and nupps and changing lace pattern. The neck warmer shown at the end of this post counts as easy because it is a simple rib pattern.

So how do I arrive at 3+1 for my ideal number of projects in progress? The 3 is broken down as one crochet project, one easy project and one hard project and the plus one is the "stays in the car" project. I know many people are monogamous knitters, working on just one project until it is finished and there are others who work on many projects. And then there are the monogamous knitters who work on one project until the next shiny thing comes along and the project is cast aside into the UFO pile. Whatever your knit number, it needs to be at a level where you can finish something once in a while and not too high that you feel so overwhelmed that you can't work on anything.

It is probably becoming obvious from this post that I have exceeded my magic number. (And I am not going to admit that number here as a certain marital partner reads this blog but you can always check my page on Ravelry.) There are many innocuous but insidious ways that a new project creeps into my work basket.

  • Firstly the innocent little gift. Usually this will mean all the other projects are put to one side while the gift is worked on. The redeeming feature of gift knitting is a due date so once it is finished, I am back to my ideal number. 
  • Next is the mystery pattern. If I want to keep up with the clues I have to cast on on the start date and start each clue on the release date. Depending on the complexity and size of the pattern I can work on one of the "ideal 3" while waiting for the next clue. (Confession - 2 of my current projects started out as mysteries.)
  •  And then an easy pattern turns into a hard pattern. So I need to cast on another easy pattern because I can never not have an easy pattern on the go. If the easy project just needs casting off or seaming then it can jump ahead of the current hard project and quickly be finished but if more work than that is involved I know have two hard projects to choose from. 
  • Running out of yarn. This doesn't happen very often but when it does, of course, I have to cast on an appropriate project to work on until I get more yarn. 
  • Gift yarn. Although I will mostly wait until I have finished a project before starting a new one with yarn I have received as a gift, there are times when I feel guilty that such yarn is still in my stash so I cast on regardless of how many projects I have on the go!

And that's how an ideal of three can easily turn into eight or more.

Next time I'll have the answer to What To Do When You Have Too Many Projects On The Go.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Baby Blanket

It has been two years since I last made a baby blanket. (Excluding those made for WCOBBS.) So when my nephew announced that his wife was pregnant the opportunity arouse to start creating. I wanted to take the blanket with me to England so I could not wait to know the sex of the child before starting the blanket. Also because of this time frame I decided to crochet a blanket as this is usually quicker than knitting. That narrowed the choice down slightly! I needed a pattern and yarn that was unisex. But my first choice of yarn in an oatmeal colour was returned to the store as it was too thick to work with the pattern I chose. I might have been better off sticking to the yarn and changing the pattern. Returned from store with thinner yarn in a different colour and tried pattern again. The pattern still didn't work, so the pattern was scrapped and a new one started. That didn't work either. I had made a mistake early on but after ripping out, didn't restart as I didn't think it worked in the colour yarn I had chosen. So for pattern number three I chose a simple shell stitch and V stitch combo. Worked in a jewel tone blue it will work for a boy or girl. I finished it while in England and left it with a relative to give to the new parents.

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft
Hook: 5.0 mm
Pattern: Cloud-Soft Shells from Our Best Baby Afghans

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On Being A Tourist

I have recently returned from a trip to Europe. This was for a family wedding in the UK. We spent some time with family but also spent a couple of days in London and some time in Rome which was first for me and our son.

On this trip I was really aware of people taking photos. Not sure why as these places were just as touristy as other places I have visited. What I noticed was the look on the faces of those who were in the photo. They were posing in front of some famous site (or even sight) and the look on their faces was of pride of being in that place. Unlike my husband whose look is usually of can we get this over and done with and a lack of me being in the photo as hubby doesn't think to take any.

The other thing I noticed is the cameras. It seems that more people have fancy digital cameras. When I had a SLR camera many years ago, most people had point and shoots. Now it is a digital SLR or camera phone. You can take loads of pictures and delete the ones that didn't come out right - so much easier than film. I gave up my SLR when the flash broke. Digital SlRs were expensive so I got a digital camera that was better than a point and shoot but now it is coming to the end of its life and the photos are not as good as when I first got the camera. So of course I want to be one of those fancy camera owners.

I wonder if someone can explain to me why if you are in a foreign country where you don't speak the language, when someone speaks to you in that language instead of replying in English, you reply in a foreign language that you do speak. So on this trip when someone spoke to me in Italian why did I find that I would speak French?