Resolutions in Yarn

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I really am not fond of New Year’s resolutions. To me, it seems a bit backwards to wait until the dead of winter to start “the game changers”, especially if your goal or resolution has been something that you’ve been mulling over for months. I’m the sort that when I realize I need to make a drastic change, I start immediately, or at least try to. This is how my “New Year’s” resolutions ended up being way back in August. High summer and high energy for introspection.

One of the goals I set for myself was to start stash busting in a meaningful way. Key word being meaningful. I didn’t want to just give away my yarn (or sell it for that matter), nor was I satisfied with the idea of arbitrarily whipping out hats and shawls from my stash just to say I used the yarn. I realized it might be best to start from the bottom up, per se. Instead of grabbing those ten skeins of worsted weight yarn and charging through a sweater, I figured it would be easier to deal with all the bits and scraps of leftover yarns first.

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I’ve never been able to do away with leftover yarn. Need donations to your sock blanket or a West Knits stash busting sweater? Don’t look at me; all my leftovers are locked away and jammed back in my closet with the idea of being “repair yarn”. But after a while, the pile grows and grows (unknit yarn takes up so much space!) and the little balls of yarn are left to cry in the corner, begging to be knit into something, anything. Ok, it may not be that severe, but does it really bring anyone any joy to have plastic bins of half used yarn taking up shoe space in their closet? Nope.

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I decided to start one of those wonderful sock-weight blankets. Most of my stash is fingering weight and lace so this is a great way to manage a huge section all at once. Since stash busting is so hard for me, I wanted this to be a very fun and sentimental project. As much about the recording and preservation of knit memories as it is about making room for new yarns.

The 5* Year Blanket

I’m using Shelly Kang’s Sock Yarn Blanket pattern.  All of the yarn will be leftover, fingering weight yarn. I’ve been keeping notes on all the details about every square!

My goal is not to finish the blanket this year, but it would be nice to make it through all of my pre-2017 fingering weight yarn leftovers  This might end up being the 6 or 7 year blanket before everything is sewn together.I’m excited for a new long-term project though! Yay for stash busting! #5yearblanket

Do you have a blanket cast on? How long have you worked on it?

Check out these amazing Sock Yarn Blankets below!

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Scitchr/sock-yarn-blanket

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/MinervasBliss/sock-yarn-blanket

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/dekleinewolf/sock-yarn-blanket

Winter Stash

Hi, lovies! Jon and I just got back from our one year anniversary trip! I have so much to tell you! But after a 16hour round trip drive, climbing a mountain, and all the laundry, I’m still recovering. Until then, here’s a post about my winter yarn stash!

Since moving to KC, I’ve made a lot of effort to get my yarn stash under control. Post-moving finances aside, I was starting to feel overwhelmed by the amount of yarn I had. It was no longer something to delight in, but a burden to haul through. I mean, seriously.

When one organizes a yarn closet, one must first pull everything onto the floor #realtruth #knittersofinstagram

It would appear that six garbage bags of yarn is the thin wooly line between abundance and overstuffed. I’ve indefinitely tightened the purse strings on my yarn budget. I’ve bought 12 skeins of yarn in 9 months. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but considering I used to spend hundreds of dollars on bags of yarn (I’m talking entire paychecks and half the sale’s rack) this is an amazing feat. I also have to throw in, three of those skeins were a birthday present for myself, so they don’t count. Mhm.

Buying less yarn, though a good start, did little to reduce the absurd amounts of yarn I already had. After a few teeth gritting sessions of self restraint, I’ve become a monogamous knitter. One project at a time, get it done and on to the next. I’ve also relaxed my expectations on what is humanly possible to knit in a single season. When I stopped expecting myself to knit 20 pairs of socks and 1,000 sweaters in a three month period, I was able to better focus on the knitting I actually had going on and could just get it done. I used to spend my “knitting” time browsing Ravelry trying to assign projects to all of my yarn and create a queue. All the while I would have about 8 unfinished projects languishing in the corner. No more of that

I think what’s helped the most, though, is dividing my yarn up by seasons. This spring and summer, my winter yarns were packed away in the back of my closet while my “summer” yarn (lace weights, bright pinks, silks ect ect) lived in a large wicker basket under my desk. This made everything seem more doable. I diligently worked at knitting down this basket, while neither thinking about the winter yarn in the closet, nor expecting that I could knit through all the spring and summer yarns. This week, with the undeniable scent of fall in the air, I unpacked my winter yarns and placed the summer ones in the back of the closet. Until next year, my pretties!

It’s so exciting and refreshing to cast eyes over all of this delicious yarn that I haven’t seen for months! And what a delight to see so many piles of sweater yarn! And all in worsted and aran weight. Bliss. I’m itching to cast on and it feels like I have a clean slate for the cold weather season without having all of my yarn mixed in together, haunting me, judging me. Check out my winter stash!

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A Note on Commissions

I think when you make an agreement to do a project for someone, you should prioritize that project. I believe it to be a sign of maturity and professional courtesy to place personal projects on hold and attempt to finish your customer’s project as quickly as possible and with your very best of effort. Especially if you’re being paid.

For the past three months I’ve been working on a commission for a LYS. A customer injured her shoulder and wanted her sweater completed for her, the LYS asked me to do it and I happily agreed. I had ten to twelve weeks to complete the work and I was told I would make a certain amount of money for making it. We had a verbal agreement. The sweater, the grey thing, was two thousand yards of various moss stitches in a size extra large knee length jacket. In grey. The instructions were beyond convoluted (if you have to say “at the same time” 5 times for one part of your sweater, you need a pattern rework ) and I had to start over three times just to get past the yoke. But I finished it. Here it is:

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Yep, I wouldn’t even do a photo shoot for that. Blurry instagram with me looking like I’ve been awake for four days is all you’re getting.

I took the sweater in to the LYS and handed it over. Three months. Almost all of spring and summer that could have been spent knitting cute tops and headbands. She hands me a check. I almost fall over. It is significantly short of our agreed on price, over $100 short. We discuss this and come to find out that they have a ceiling on how much they pay for commission work. I ask why she agreed to pay me more if she wasn’t actually going to, she gives me a rambling half answer. I’m a bit dumbfounded and realize there isn’t much I can do. Hold the customer’s sweater hostage and demand more money? That wouldn’t be fair to the customer who had no part in our financial deal. It would also be unseemly for me to stand there and argue. I wouldn’t win even if I did. I took my check with a smile and walked out, ignoring her offer for me to work a few Saturdays a month if I ever wanted to.

I was angry. I feel cheated and used and like an entire season of knitting was stolen from me. I sulked over this for an entire day. Now that I’ve had time to process this whole affair, and cast on for another project, I have a few notes to share with fellow knitters who might be new to doing commissions.

  1. Communication is a must

To be honest, this was not my first experience with this LYS. I previously did a commission for the shop and was paid the amount I asked for. However, when we first set up the deal, she informed me that she paid on a sliding scale. $.25-$.75 a yard based on the difficulty of the project. When I finished the project, I asked to be paid $.35 for the 1,000 yard project. She informed me that the maximum they pay for commissions was $250. I reminded her about the sliding scale. “Mhm, yeah…we usually only pay $250 though. I’ll pay you what you want this time though.” She never explained to me why she told me I would be paid on a sliding scale if she obviously had no intention of doing that.

Whenever I did work for this shop, it took me weeks to be paid after I’d already dropped off my finished item and we had terrible communication. It took her nearly three weeks to pay me for my first commission job. I called the shop multiple times, had to give her my address three times so she could mail me a check, and I went to the shop twice to pick up payments and she’d forgotten to leave the money for me. I once went to the shop to try and be paid, she stayed on the phone for twenty minutes with me standing there waiting and I finally had to leave, without payment, to make it to an event on time.

All this to say, if you and the customer you’re working for have terrible communication, don’t agree to work for them. It was stupid of me to persists in working for someone who would never answer my calls or have the courtesy to have my check waiting for me in a timely manner. If you can’t even have two minutes of the person’s time to ask questions or be paid, don’t bother.

2. The faintest ink is better than the strongest memory

As I said above, there was a lot of back and forth about what I would be paid for my work and I really had to go out of my way to get my paychecks. In hindsight, I can’t believe I never just had the gall to ask her “So, before I start, how much are you paying me for this?” It is not rude to confirm before hand how much the person thinks your time and energy is worth. If they think it’s rude to ask, don’t work with them. Take a few minutes and type up a simple contract for the both of you to sign. Nothing crazy, something simple will work fine as hard documentation of your agreement.

“I, so and so, agree to pay so and so x amount of monies for the completion of such and such by this date.” See? Simple.

Discuss  the yardage of the project you will be doing, the difficulty of the work and the amount of time it should take before agreeing to anything. Get all of the information about the project you need  while face to face with the person, it wouldn’t hurt to include these things in the contract as well. You’ll seem like a true professional if you do this; it’ll be an accurate reflection of the fact that your time and effort is valuable and you take your job seriously. If the person is turned off by this. Don’t work with them.

3. Be honest

Be honest with yourself and your customer. Tell them how much you think your work is truly worth. Don’t undersell yourself to get more work or overcharge to bleed your customer dry. This is a business transaction, not a blood sport. It should be pleasant and simple. If you really hate the project and think it’ll be a drag to do, let the person know upfront and ask to be paid accordingly. Don’t agree to a price that won’t make up for all the grumbling and complaining you’ll be doing while knitting on the project. If the person isn’t willing to pay you more, request to have a longer amount of time to complete the project or simply decline to do the work. You aren’t a slave, your time and skill are valuable. There is no shame failing to come to an agreement and simply declining to do the project.

4. Work hard

There is shame, however, in taking way too long to do a project and not doing your best. The grey thing was knit for a customer using the LYS to get her work done. In other words, me slacking on the sweater, not making it just right, or deliberately taking way too long to finish would be totally unfair to the customer. She had nothing to do with my failure to do business properly or the LYS underpaying me. If you’ve agreed to do something, do it. Don’t back out half way because you don’t like it anymore, or argue over payment after the work is already done. Have all your ducks in a row before even picking up your needles

Honestly, I know there is a lot of contention over knitting for pay. There is a plethora of knitters who are underpaid for their work and it is often very difficult to find a happy medium. I’m glad I’ve had this experience, though. I truly believe it will help me do business better in the future and have a more discerning eye for the work I’m asked to do and how much my skill is worth. Knitting should always bring joy, even commissioned work, but it’s not the responsibility of the customer to ensure your happiness and satisfaction. You must stand up for yourself and not be afraid to say ‘no’. Will I work for this yarn shop again? Probably not. Will I do more commissions? Totally. Will I get burned again? Maybe, but I’ve learned to take my work more seriously now, and hopefully I’ll be better prepared to deal with a transaction in the future.

I really hope my inexperience helps a few of you out there who are exploring the world of knitting for pay. Please don’t make the same silly mistakes I did, but more importantly, stay happy with your knitting- no matter what you get out of it.

The Flame Burns Strong

It feels good to be on track. Like, really good. Like, you don’t understand how good it feels because you have no idea how unorganized a person I am. I endeavor constantly to have productive days based around comprehensive day planners and to-do lists. On average, at least five tasks that I was supposed to do one day is moved over to the next day because God-only-knows-what-I-was-doing-instead-of-completeing-those-tasks. But I’m getting better. I even read articles about how to be more productive. I wake up at 6:30 every day to get everything done well as opposed to just slapped together. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. These small victories are reflected in my knitting!

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I completed my sock head hat in five days instead of a week.

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I started my scarf commission and knit a pretty good chunk of it

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I finished the body of my sweater!

I think I’m just getting a lot better at using my time wisely and, in terms of knitting, using literally every moment to knit. Waiting at the DMV, taking a walk, reading an e-book. Knit knit knit. Tomorrow I’m going to cast on for the fern lace gloves, which my LYS owner says it only took her a day and a half. I’m not of fan of having three projects on the needle but hopefully it’ll be back down to one by the end of the week. I’m hoping I can keep up this momentum and there will be a pair of gloves and a scarf at the end of the week to show for it.

Endless Stockinette

I’m in an endless black hole of stockinette stitch. Every project I have right now is just miles and miles of it. Heck, the Sockhead hat pattern even gives a “fair warning: there is miles of stockinette stitch, so this makes for great TV, travel or zen knitting.” It’s pretty bad when you’re options are endless stockinette on teeny tiny needles or endless stockinette on slightly larger needles.

Speaking of teeny tiny, I finally finished the four miles inches of ribbing on my Sockhead. I was constantly lamenting how long it was taking and when I finally reached the stockinette section I noticed the stitches seemed a little too small for a size US2 needle…sure enough I knit the entire brim on a US1 and was close to knitting the entire body like that. No wonder it’s taking me so long. The pattern calls for a US2.5. I switching this hat onto a US2 pronto (where the heck am I supposed to get a 2.5?) . For the next two hats, I’ll most likely knit the brim with a US2 and the body on a US3. Make life easier, why don’t I?

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To be fair, this is a picture of a ton of ribbing and not stockinette. But my complaints and whining still stand.

My hope of finishing the hat this weekend has peaked. It may be naive, but realizing I can go up a needle size has brightened my world. Being on such a tight knitting schedule is pretty stressful, but I’m doing my best not to let it get to me. Knowing that I can instantly gain an extra 1-2 hours of holiday knitting a day just by putting away my NaKniSweMo is encouraging. But I’m stubborn, so I won’t do that until the last minute.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

The Oranje sweater grows steadily everyday. Being on US6 needles with sport weight yarn is a pretty big help. I actually don’t mind the endless stockinette in this because I’m still totally in love with this yarn. It’s a very daydreamy color and I find it very soothing to just stare at it while I work. Better than TV. I’m halfheartedly hoping to have the next five or six inches of the body done by this weekend so I can cast on the sleeves. I feel like it’s a bit of an unrealistic endeavor, but a gal can dream.

Looks like chocolate mint #nakniswemo2015 #knittersofinstagram #knitting #sweaterweather #sweaterknittingtime

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Is anyone out there doing a NaKniSweMo that’s NOT miles of stockinette? Tell me about it below!

An Unrealistic View of Christmas Knits

The Yarn Harlot, in her first book, describes a terrible habit she has come holidays. Over committing to knitted gifts. She wants to present her family with piles of knitted gifts and this often results in her driving herself insane during the holidays by, oh, you know, attempting to knit twenty-three pairs of socks in four days and feeling guilty that she doesn’t finish. I have the opposite problem. I’m a selfish knitter. I knit for me, myself, and I. If I knit for others, 99.9% of the time its a simple commission so I can get more yarn to knit…for myself. Either that, or I whip out a scarf for my husband and get ‘best wife award’. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made my mom a few things, I once made her a coat!  But in general, I don’t do gift knitting. I don’t have many hobbies, knitting and reading are pretty much it. It may be selfish, but I have very little interest in hobby becoming an obligatory gift supply for every holiday and birthday. I am not a machine!

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But even a scrooge like me can have my heart softened. These upcoming holidays are going to be pretty special. They’re the first with Jon and I as marrieds (only our second as a couple). Jon has been applying to jobs left and right and some promising opportunities seem to be on the horizon. This very well could be the last holiday season where we have the convenience of all living in the same state! The same country even! Not to get ahead of myself, but I think such a heartwarming/wrenching occasion calls for warm and fuzzy hand knits.

Now, all that warm and fuzzy aside, how I came to the conclusion that I could knit 8 gifts in less than two months? On top of NaKniSweMo? And two commissions? *Shrug* Seemed like a good idea at the time. But listen, it’s only accessory knits and a sweater for Jon. Only. Here’s the breakdown:

3 Sockhead hats

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1 pair of Fern Lace gloves

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1 pair of socks that in a pinch will be exchanged for another Superior cowl

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1 Forever Ribbed Scarf for my dad that will almost undoubtedly be exchanged for a nice pen, because, you know, dads.

And 1 big blue sweater for Jon…I have no comment on that one

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My fingers hurt daily now. I choose to believe that they are becoming stronger and I’m not actually doing irreparable damage.
NaBloPoMo November 2015
A hard truth has come to present itself. Such unrealistic standards of holiday knitting call for a sacrifice. A lamb to the slaughter, or rather, a merino fleece. Despite the progress made on my Oranje, I realize that if (when) holiday knitting comes down to the wire, I most likely won’t finish this lovely sweater. Which means I won’t have something to wear and show off at my in-laws (see how selfish I am?) Nevertheless, I try to dedicate at least an hour or two a day to knitting on my sweater. Tonight I finished the waist shaping and now I have about 6 or 7 inches of stockinette to look forward to. The flame of hope still burns strong.

Do you have unrealistic holiday knitting plans? Tell me all about it!

A Brief NaKniSweMo Post

NaBloPoMo November 2015

The finger cramps are setting in already, tsk tsk tsk. Despite my impending tendentious , the Oranje cardigan is coming along pretty well. I’ve completed the waist decreases and am nearly halfway through the increases. After this comes about eight more inches of stockinette stitch. Then I get to put the body aside and work on my sleeves! I’m pretty excited about that. I can’t wait to get to the yoke and watch how the brown and cream pop! But of course, I’m really enjoying the sweater body. I’m totally in love with the periwinkle blue yarn. I can already tell that November is going to be heavy on Christmas knitting and commissions. I’m already looking forward to the New Year when I’ll say no to knitting requests for a couple of months!

A brief #nakniswemo2015 post on my blog! Link in profile! #knitblogger #nablopomo2015 #knittersofinstagram

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How about you? Is Holiday knitting getting in the way of you NaKniSweMo?