2016 PA Farm Show Results

Farm Show Results:
This year I entered 12 items into the Family Living Department at the PA Farm Show. And in total I was awarded two honorable mentions, one 5th place, three third places, and 1 second place.

Honorable mentions are always particularly exciting because for all of the numbered place I watch online for results. But you only find out about honorable mentions when you go to the show and pick your stuff up. Both of these projects were random crafts that I had made during 2016 and randomly was able to submit into various categories.

The quilling for my greeting card was talked about here. I realized that I could squeeze it on a greeting card. Although it had at some point during the months between quilling and card attachment sustained a bit of damage that I couldn’t figure out how to repair.

My small tote bag came about because I always like having project bags around for things and fat quarters went on sale at JoAnns. I loved matching all of the fabric colors and then finding this fairly intense (for me) sewing pattern online. I like sewing but it always seems to take forever.

This 5th place jazzy jar was quite fun. I never would have thought to make a “jazzy jar” except that it was a category in the farm show. The little papercut was so much fun to make. I’m particularly proud of the super tiny lamp post. The snow paint on the other hand was less fun. Most notably when I managed to spray myself accidentally - good times.

Winning third place yarn was also pretty awesome. And a friend won first! She and I were talking and we have no idea what they are judging for when it comes to the yarn. It seems to be super random which is pretty frustrating. Right now our best guesses are that they like if you include a tag describing the yarn/how you spun it. Spindle spinning might be a plus in their minds. And we think they really like soft things. Also they may be judging on color.

This third place knitted bunny doll is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever knit so I was actually a bit disappointed in third. But I probably shouldn’t admit that out-loud.

The bookmarks were supposed to be themed around “Celebrating 100 years at the Farm Show”. It was fun to mock up a bunch of random farm show things and cut them out. The only thing I wonder is with cutting machines becoming increasingly common in the crafting world do they assume that's what I’m doing, or do they acknowledge the awesomeness that is Scherenschnitte.

And my best placing of the year was this crochet sweater. I’m mostly proud of it for the color bands which I dyed myself when I couldn’t find the colors I wanted in the store! Alas the yoke fit is a bit strange when I actually wear it, so I haven’t. I really ought to see if maybe I can block it into submission.

And finally I must talk about the sad story of the most amazing cabled sweater. I knit this for my father. It is huge. It is amazing. I gave it to him for Christmas and then immediately took it back just so I could enter it. So I felt really bad when it didn’t win anything. But I’ve since made a matching hat and a woven scarf with the same yarn. So hopefully the wait is worth it for him.
Father was unavailable so I had to use the model I keep on-hand.

February Goals

With February being a short month and it already being February 3rd I’m rather behind on establishing goals. But I can do whatever I want (and I’ve already been working on some of these):

Find a Wedding Venue and Pick a Date - This must happen and the sooner it happens the better I will feel about everything wedding.
Finish Lemon Blueberry Shawl - This is my top crafting priority. I am determined to wear it on my birthday (the 5th) which means I need to top typing and finish so that I can block overnight tomorrow!
Spin 1 skein of yarn - I have two Hobbledehoy fiber projects already started so I just need to pick one and get it done! It will probably be the project I have on the wheel which is a test to see if I am capable of spinning low-twist singles on the wheel. It seems to be working so far!
Wash 2 lb of Farm Show Fleece - I’ve been slowly starting the washing in batches of around 6 oz each using my newest fiber prep tool: a salad spinner. The new process is pretty awesome and much easier than my old methods so it shouldn’t be difficult to tackle at least 5 batches.
Ruana progress - I made a plan to get [this - link calculation post] accomplished in 2016 and then promptly ignored it in January. So in Feb I would like to finish the planning and sampling process. Then wash least 1.5 lbs of fiber. And finally comb at least 6 oz of fiber.
Sheepy Sweater - Alas this project has gotten pretty tedious. But I must make progress! I’d like to finish through the waist shaping on the body so that I can start the sleeves. The whole thing will be a bit haphazard as I’ll stop the body and leave it on the needles, then tackle the sleeves, before returning to the body due to potential lack of yarn.

Bonus objectives:
Rewash polypay fleece
Comb polypay fleece
Flick and card merino
Find a wedding dress or at least try a bunch on

Plan/Buy Yarn/Swatch Wedding Ring Shawl

Big Plans for 2016

I've never been much of one for new years resolutions but there are a few crafty type big/long term projects that have been churning in my mind for a while now that I would like to accomplish.

1. Plan my wedding. I forgot about this at first but I'm going back now after hitting publish to edit it to the top of my list. So Bran and I are engaged now and I suppose I'll actually have to like plan the wedding at some point. I've already suggested going to the courthouse twice, but realistically thats not the way we'll do things. Maybe I should knit myself a wedding shawl. That sounds much more fun than the rest of the planning.

2. Sheepy Sweater. I've already started this project but there is still a ways to go before it is finished. Plus I'll actually need to be brave enough to steek it when the knitting is finished.

3. Fox Paws. This pattern is amazing and a few months back I used a knitpicks gift card from my Aunt and Uncle to buy enough yarn for two of these scarves using different color palates. But I know it will take some serious knitting fortitude and therefore expect the project to take forever.

4. Sweater with a colorwork yoke using handspun alpaca. I spun this yarn during the TDF with this project in mind. I may actually end up needing a bit more yardage which would be fine. But more importantly I also need to pick a pattern and do all of the knitting.

5. Ruana for Carolyn. She gave me a literal car trunk full of alpaca fiber this summer. Turning some of that fiber into a garment for her is only appropriate.

6. Another sweater from handspun. Exact fiber and sweater pattern tbd. But probably something fairly plain that features the yarn. I had this in mind when I purchased the Polypay X fiber so that would probably be ideal. But really there are many options.

7. Striped featherweight sweater. This summer one of my laceweight TDF yarns was destined for a shawl but a friend tried to convince me it should be a sweater instead. I stuck with my original plan but the handspun striped sweater idea is also awesome and should totally happen. Plus I've already made like 3 featherweight sweaters so they are obviously quite doable (if we ignore the fact that there are already way too many sweaters on this list). And I may have also already knit a swatch back in the summer to test the idea.

8. Linen stitch scarf with handspun singles. This is an idea I've been working on. I've already spun up a few fibers from Hobbledehoy with this project in mind. I don't actually need to finish the whole thing during the year as I'm envisioning it as a project of many different yarns all blended together. But a solid start and some progress would be nice. The swatch has already been knit.

Other less specific but still worth goals:

9. Spin at least 1 skein of yarn each month. In the past my spinning has been rather bunched into big bursts often related to big events. A more regular habit would be nice.

10. Blog more often. Once a week really ought to be more than doable.

11. Weave things. I got a wonderful rigid heddle loom for Christmas from my parents! I've already made one scarf and need to get better at using it.

12. Project 366. Take at least one photo a day. Likely to be all phone camera photos posted to Instagram because its convenient and therefore more likely to happen.

13. Get better at dyeing. Pretty much just by doing more of it. I also really need to figure out a recipe for a nice brown. Or cave and buy a brown dye.

There are probably other ideas that I have forgotten but really I think if I accomplish half of these things I will be quite happy.

PS: Helo helped write this post (this is not posed, he climbed up when I was already typing):

Stocking Ornaments Pattern

I've been making these stocking ornaments for a few years now. Originally I found a wonderful pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits. I loved the look of the stocking but I didn't like having to seam it up (and I'm not a fan of color-work that is knit flat). So I came up with my own stocking ornament in the round. A friend recently asked for the pattern so here you go.

Notes on the pattern:
I like to use fingering weight wool yarn with size 1 needles because they are comfortable for me. Any size yarn or needles will work. Different size yarn will give different size ornaments. Using wool yarn and blocking after finished helps even out the pattern and keep everything neat and tidy. I just typed this up without looking up knitting terminology so most things are spelled out. I've also included some notes on how I distribute the stitches on my needles but feel free to adjust and do what feels comfortable to you so long as you follow the stitch counts.

Using contrast color cast on 24 stitches, distribute evenly on three needles and join to work in the round. Leave tail to use for loop for hanging.
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: Purl
Row 4-21: Join Main Color and knit.
If you would like to include a pattern insert it into this portion of the main color. The pattern should be over 24 stitches and I generally like to have 2 rows of solid main color above and below. Feel free to add a few rows if needed to accommodate your pattern.

Row 1: Change to Contrast Color, knit 7, turn work. (Place remaining MC stitch on needle with other MCs)
Row 2: Slip 1, purl 6, with second needle purl 7, turn work. (Pick up 4 MC stitches from needle with other MCs, this will distribute the MC stitches evenly over 2 needles. You will not be working with these stitches during the heel. Move all of the CC stitches onto one needle to work the heel.)
Row 3: Slip 1, knit 13, turn work
Row 4: Slip 1, purl 13, turn work
Row 5: Slip 1, knit 13, turn work
Row 6: Slip 1, purl 13, turn work
Row 7: Slip 1, knit 13, turn work
Row 8: Slip 1, purl 13, turn work
Row 9: Slip 1, knit 9, k2 together through the back, knit 1, turn leaving 1 stitch on needle
Row 10: Slip 1, purl 7, purl 2 together, purl 1 , turn leaving 1 stitch on needle
Row 11: Slip 1, knit 6, k2 together through the back, turn leaving 2 stitches on needle
Row 12: Slip 1, purl 4, purl 2 together, turn leaving 2 stitches on needle
Row 13: Slip 1, knit 4, knit 2 together through the back, knit 1, turn
Row 14: Slip 1, purl 5, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn
Row 15: Slip 1, knit 3
You should have a total of 8 heel stitches 4 on each needle.

Row 1: Change to Main Color, knit 4, pick up 5 stitches (4 from slipped heel stitches 1 from the MC at base of heel), knit 10 (put first of 10 on needle 1, 8 on needle 2, and 1 on needle 3), pick up 5 stitches (1 from MC at base of heel 4 from slipped heel stitches), knit 4 (I knit them using the 4th needle then transfer to needle 3).
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: Knit 7, knit 2 together, knit 10, ssk, knit 7
Row 4: Knit 6, knit 2 together, knit 10, ssk, knit 6
Row 5: Knit 5, knit 2 together, knit 10, ssk, knit 5
Row 6-11: Knit
Row 12-13: Change to Contrast Color, knit 2 rows
Row 14:  Knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 4, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 2
Row 15: Knit
Row 16: Knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, knit 3
Draw yarn through remaining 15 stitches and draw tight to close.

Weave in ends on inside and tie a little loop in the top for hanging. Wet block to even out knitting (it really does make it look much neater!).

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions or if I've made any mistakes!

Here are a few of the colorwork patterns that I have used. Click to make them bigger. Please note the patterns are oriented as they appear on the final stocking. When knitting you will need to start in the upper left corner and move from left to right, top to bottom (this is the opposite direction from what you will be knitting).

Many more awesome colorwork patterns can be found here! You'll have to tweak them a bit so let me know if you have any problems.

Raw fiber to sweater

After a conversation with someone about making a Ruana, (it’s kind of like a free-form sweater) from handspun alpaca I was inspired to attempt a calculation of how long would it really take me to make such an item?

In thinking about the project initially I had looked at this pattern: Knit Ruana by Annie Dempsy. It calls for ~1000 yards of Super Bulky Yarn. I was excited about the Super Bulky because it means the actual spinning of the yarn and the knitting will go much faster. However further thinking reveals that I neglected to factor in that this will be offset in part by the volume of fiber that I will need to process. Crafting it seems has its own system of checks and balances.

For the purposes of my calculations I also relied heavily on past/current experience making “Foot-Oven” socks. I’ve knit the pattern multiple times in the past. And I’m currently working on spinning hand processed alpaca into Super Bulky Yarn to make two more pairs (possibly three if I keep going and make a pair for myself).

I just finished two skeins of yarn for the socks. Together they weigh approximately 8 ounces and are 174 yards of yarn. If I need 1000 yards of yarn for the Ruana that means I’ll need approximately 46 ounces or 2.8 pounds of yarn. When working with raw fiber you lose a good bit of weight from the dirt that washes out and from things like shorter bits of fiber that aren’t desirable. So I figure I’ll want to wash about 5 pounds of fiber.

Washing alpaca fiber isn’t a necessary step (especially because it has no lanolin) but I enjoy working with the fiber much more after it is washed. Alpacas are incredibly dusty. So much so that despite the washing when I get to the spinning step I generally have dirty lines on my hands from the fiber passing over a specific place on my hand. Washing takes up quite a bit of time although a lot of it is spent waiting. These days tend to wash batches of ~ ½ a pound or 8 ounces. It involves letting the fiber sit and soak in one or two baths of soapy water then 3 rinses. And it takes me 1.5-2 hours. I’ll usually only wash 1 batch on a given evening. On the weekends I can get 2 possibly even 3 batches done. Except at that point drying space becomes an issue. The fiber then takes 1-2 days to dry. So if I work rather intently I can get everything washed in about 2 weeks. However I don’t think I’ll include this in my calculations just because its more of “passive” time than active.

After I have clean fiber I can start combing it into top. The combs are my newest fiber toy and I’ve only made myself bleed a few times. They work absolutely amazingly well with alpaca so I’m able to process it from the raw locks into the top ready to spin much more quickly. Based on recent history I’d anticipate combing 1.5 ounces in about an hour. So in total that’s about 31 hours of combing.

Up next is the spinning. The fact that I’m going for super bulky yarn finally speeds things up! For the socks I was able to spin 4 ounces of prepared fiber into approximately 87 yards of yarn in around 3 hours. For the full project I’d be looking at 34 hours of spinning.

And lastly would be the knitting. I haven’t actually knit up the socks yet this year so I’m stretching back in my memory and doing some pretty serious guesstimating to say that I think I can probably knit up about 200 yards of yarn in around 6 hours. Using that very rough estimate I would be around 30 hours of knitting time for the full project.

All together I’m looking at around 95 hours or approximately 4 days of solid work to go from raw sweater to finished project. And realistically most of my time estimates are probably best-case-scenario and in the real world things will take longer. But I am not at all intimidated. I look at it as a super amazing project that I can accomplish over the course of a few months and I’m looking forward to tackling it in 2016.