shifting focus & getting serious | a look at 2019

Oh hey! It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged. And by “minute” I mean over 2 months! And really, unbelievably, it’s been more like 6 months since I’ve blogged about something I’ve knit. Geez Louise.

In that time, my sister and I have started a hand-dyed yarn business, Mockingbird Fiber Co., and a podcast (Mockingbird Fiber Podcast on YouTube), plus I’ve been knitting a lot, so the blog has fallen by the wayside. But Michelle of My So Called Handmade Life, whose blog I’ve been reading for years, has inspired me to write more in this space.

So here I am, once again looking back at a year of knitting and contemplating what’s to come. One year ago, I resolved to make 8 sweaters in 2018. Umm… yeah. I made 2 of those sweaters and made hardly any progress on the one WIP that was in there. The truth is, my body isn’t exactly where it used to be and I haven’t wanted to make all the sweaters.

So, I didn’t finish my #2018yearofthesweater resolution – not even close! I also didn’t finish my Make Nine 2018 (or 2018 Make Nine or whatever it was called). Five out of nine ain’t bad right?! Honestly, I’m not upset that I failed. Actually I don’t really see it as failure. Goals change and gears shift.

Instead, I am on track to finish my first ever Box o’ Sox, which is possibly an even bigger accomplishment, since (as I’ve lamented more than once) I used to hate knitting socks. I’m officially a sock knitting convert! But my goal for next year isn’t necessarily another box full of socks. What are my goals, then? you might ask.

Well, they’re more lofty than ever. Mainly because I am resolving to not buy yarn (except for the business or as a gift/to make a gift) for the entirety of 2019. That’s a big one for me. But if I’m being honest, my stash is bigger than I ever imagined, and it feels so wasteful to let it all sit there while I covet the new and shiny. So knitting from stash (really this time) is my main goal. To that point, I also have loads of patterns in my library – more than I could ever knit. So no patterns for me either. This one is kind of a big deal too, because I find myself purchasing a pattern at least weekly. But patterns aren’t going anywhere. Sales will come around again. So I’m swearing off buying new patterns, too.

Since that combination will so narrow down what I’m actually able to knit, it will allow me to truly focus on finishing or frogging WIPs (didn’t get much of that done this year either, though I did frog a couple of things). I also want to focus on weaving more of my yarn and if Santa brings me the sewing machine I asked for, I want to learn to quilt!

Basically, I’m kind of sick of “stuff”. Stuff that just sits around without a purpose, taunting me and clouding my brain. Knit the yarn you like; destash what you no longer love. Use the patterns you’ve purchased. Find renewed inspiration in the things you possess. That’s going to be me in 2019.

This appreciation for what I have has also brought about change in how I view my queue. At one time, I had over 50 things in it. Every time I looked at my queue, I saw it as a daunting to-do list. It still has over 30 items, but they’re sorted by socks, sweaters, shawls, etc. and I won’t be adding anything I don’t have yarn for. I may add to and take away from my list, but the goal is to keep patterns in my queue that I actually intend to knit.

And speaking of intention, 2019 is going to be chock-full of it. I recently dug out all my hats and took a photo, only to count them and realize I have over 20 that I have no plans on giving away. Twenty hats. I live in Tennessee and it does get cold in the winter, but even I admit that may be too many hats for one person. I want to focus on knitting things that loved ones or I will get good use out of. I actually love gift knitting for the knit-worthy in my life, so I’ll be doing more of that too.

And I plan on showing up here more. A lot of times I make modifications to a pattern, type in a quick note on Ravelry, and never really explain what I did or why. I want to pick up my camera (for which I just got a new lens) more and explore the world of photography as it relates to my knitting. Exciting stuff (to me at least)! Hah! I hope you’ll keep coming back. Honestly, I hope I keep coming back. The written word is lost so much in the fast-paced world of social media. I want to slow down here, to have a space that is mine in which I don’t have to worry about followers and likes.

Merry Christmas to you, friend! Here’s to the coming year! See you soon 🙂

xoxo,
Andrea

tips for anxiety

Let me start by saying that I’m not a medical professional and these tips are not a substitute for medication or professional help. I fully believe that medication and therapy have their place. Anxiety and panic attacks are very serious; please talk with your physician or a medical professional!

I recently posted a story on Instagram asking if anyone had tips for anxiety. The truth is, I was in the middle of a panic attack. I haven’t officially been diagnosed with anxiety, but have had it for a long time – even before I could put a name to it. I specifically asked for tips other than medication and essential oils (both of which I am well versed on, so I was looking for alternatives). I have tried essential oils, but haven’t found them to do much for me personally.

I was overwhelmed (in the best way!) with the response to my little story. People that I don’t even know personally offered to lend an ear anytime I need. It was one of the kindest, most touching things I’ve experienced. The truth is, we don’t always have someone to talk to or maybe we find it hard to fully express ourselves. The following is a list of the tips I received. I had never heard of many of these and found them to be very helpful. My hope is that they help someone else too!

  • If you’re home and have pets (or if there’s a cuddly pup around), it’s always helpful to pet and snuggle your dog or cat!
  • Leave where you are. More specifically, go outside. Take a walk or go for a run. Breathe in the fresh air.
  • Drink a big glass of water.
  • Listen to your favorite music. I find that the wrong music can contribute to my anxiety. If you have Spotify, find a “chill mood” type station.
  • Count to 100 and back to 1.
  • Take a hot bath or shower (if you’re like me and don’t like baths!). One tip was to put some Vick’s vapor rub on the wall of the shower – I’m definitely trying this soon!
  • Practice meditation and breathing techniques. There are some great meditation apps (Headspace is one I know of); I tried one once and it made me anxious… go figure. But it helps a lot of people!
  • Do yoga. This helps with the breathing too. If you aren’t into yoga, do whatever exercise you enjoy.
  • Weighted blanket or a tight hug from a loved one. The blanket is a great idea, one that I want to look into..
  • This one I loved and for sure will be trying next time. It’s a grounding technique: slowly and deliberately acknowledge 5 things you can see, then 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste.
  • Similarly to that one, look around the room and name things you an see (for example, I see a yellow wall, a clean sink, the oven is on).
  • Play a game on your phone like Candy Crush (or Two Dots – it’s pretty entertaining and mindless). Something that distracts you and causes you to focus on something else.
  • Start a gratitude journal. I have one within my bullet journal and need to start it up again. Name 3 things each day you’re thankful for. Say them out loud or write them down.
  • Lie down on the floor on your back and close your eyes. Breathe deep. This helps calm your fight or flight defense by grounding you and making you feel safe.
  • Find a mantra you like. Memorize it, then concentrate on and repeat it.
  • Knit! Duh! Most of these tips were from knitters. But if you have another hobby, do that. Keep your hands busy.
  • Someone suggested organizing and I think that’s a great idea! Organizing or even cleaning always calms me.
  • Obviously, eating well and getting enough sleep is never a bad idea!
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol during stressful times. I find that I have to limit caffeine anyway, as I’m very sensitive to it.

That’s all the ones that were recommended to me! I’m quoting some verbatim, because I liked the way it was said, but I’m not giving credit to protect the privacy of my friends. If you contributed a tip and/or messaged me, thank you from the bottom of my heart! It means so much.

If you have any other things that have helped you with anxiety, please feel free to leave them in a comment! And please, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. There is no shame in helping yourself, ever! And lastly, know that you’re never alone.

xoxo,
Andrea

#anyhatkal2018 | rules, prizes & more!

 

Thanks for your interest in the Any Hat KAL, hosted by me on Instagram! I hope you’ll join in the fun! Below is some information you need to know in order to be eligible for prizes! It’s a very relaxed and fun knit-along, so don’t take it too seriously! 😉

RULES

  • Knit a hat (any hat)! WIPs are okay, but please don’t be more than halfway through the hat before September 1.
  • Snap photos of your progress and post them on Instagram using #anyhatkal2018 – please note that sometimes photos get excluded from hashtags for one reason or another. Click the hashtag to make sure yours appears. If it doesn’t, share your post with me via DM by clicking the “paper airplane” below the photo and sending it to me (@theknitpicky). I will make sure you’re included in the prize giveaway for that week! If your account is private, I will not be able to see your photos! If this is the case, please DM me with a screenshot of your post and I will add you to be eligible for prizes!
  • Only one post per week per person will count – this is to keep it fair for everyone!
  • Unfortunately, due to high shipping costs, physical KAL prizes are only available to US and Canada residents. Everyone else is still eligible for digital (pattern) prizes, so please join in!

PRIZES

  • I will be randomly giving away at least one prize each week, based on those who post using the hashtag during that week! There will also be a grand prize at the end and anyone who has participated will be eligible!
  • Prizes include YARN, stitch markers, patterns from some awesome designers, and more!
  • This year, each finished hat will be put into a drawing for a special prize at the end – this is in addition to the grand prize for participating!

OTHER STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Feel free to tag me if you need help or have question; I’ll do my best!
  • Check the hashtag to see what others are making and cheer each other on!
  • KAL runs September 1-30 and is not associated with Instagram in any way.
  • I will be reposting some of my favorite finished objects – if you use the hashtag, you are consenting for me to repost your photos (public accounts only) – with credit, of course!

I can’t wait to knit a hat (or three) with my virutal knitting friends! Keep an eye out for some pre-KAL chat & maybe even a prize! 😉

hat right now

See what I did there? 😉

Today I want to chat about some of my favorite hats that have been released this year! Some of them I’ve knit already, but most I haven’t – and really want to. This post comes at a good time, as the 2nd annual Any Hat KAL starts September 1! I’m hosting it over on Instagram and have lots of great prizes lined up!

First is Ryg by Woolfolk Design Team, which was released just a few days ago. I’ve never tried Woolfolk yarn, but I have pet it at length and desperately want to knit with it! Ryg uses their newest DK base, Flette, which looks like a literal cloud. I love how simple and understated the pattern is so that the yarn can be the star. It looks so insanely cozy!

Next up is Harlow by Andrea Mowry. I have already knit this one and really love the endless color combinations for the simple 2-color brioche design. It just takes 300 or so yards of fingering (about 150 yds of each color), so this pattern would make a great stash-buster!

I’ve had my eye on Lucerne by Jared Flood since I first saw it. I mostly love that there are options for 2, 3, and 4 colors! This could be another great stashbuster! It is written for Brooklyn Tweed’s new (fingering weight) Peerie yarn, which has a phenomenal color palette. I have really had to hold myself back from buying some! I may just have to knit this hat with some stash yarn to satiate my appetite for new yarn!

One of my favorite new knit is Beloved by Tin Can Knits. I scooped up this sweet little bonnet pattern the day it was released and knit one for my niece right away! Who can resist a good baby knit?! Okay, if you can resist or don’t have a baby to knit for, this pattern is written from newborn all the way up to adult! The shaping was so fun and interesting. I knit it up with less than half a skein of DK weight yarn and gave it a quick steam block. Perfection!

Justyna Lorkowska’s Sea Glass Stories is the perfect pattern for those speckled skeins of DK! I love how she created a pattern to showcase both cables and speckles. This pattern seems to have just the right amount of slouch, which is hard to do!

Speaking of slouch, how gorgeous is Mystic Slouchy by Heidi May?! Mohair is having a moment and I am here for it! I love the look of a strand of bouncy merino held with a strand of fluffy mohair. The effect is just so good! The moment I saw this, I wanted to knit it. Unfortunately I’m on a bit of a self-imposed yarn diet and don’t have mohair in stash. But if I fall off the wagon, it will probably be for this hat! It also has 4 size options, which is always a bonus.

Lastly I want to mention this pair of hats: Ogee & Gosh by Kiyomi Burgin. I haven’t talked to my sister about this… but I have designs on making these and doing a photoshoot with her. (Sorry Jamie, hope you’re game!) I love how they’re the same, but different – just like my sister and I! And you can make them both with 2 skeins of yarn (DK again… I’m just loving it right now). I don’t know if I’ll be able to knit them for the KAL, but I’m hoping by the end of the year!

I added these to my bundle on Ravelry, along with many other favorite hats! Check it out for more inspiration! I hope you’ll join in the Any Hat KAL! It was so much fun last year! If you’re planning to knit along, leave a comment letting me know what you’re going to knit! I’m always looking for great new hat patterns! 🙂

feet flirtin’ | sock journal no. 2

It’s hard to believe that it’s June. It’s also hard to believe that I’m still knitting socks!

At the time that I published sock journal no. 1, I had only knit two socks. Not two pairs, just two, not matching, socks. I have since knit five (!!!) pairs and am halfway through my sixth, keeping me on track for the Box O Sox 2018 KAL! I’ve tried new techniques and explored different yarns and I’m still excited to delve deeper into sock knitting!

You might remember my January Shot Room Socks knit with a yummy hank of Candy Skein I got in San Diego. I’m so pleased that I ditched the textured pattern and went with plain ol’ vanilla for this gorgeous yarn!

I’ve also discovered that a Fish Lips Kiss Heel is just my favorite. It is my preference to knit but it also fits really well on my feet. I ended up getting three socks out of one skein and still have quite a bit left! I’ll probably frog the textured sock and incorporate it into something scrappy.

I’ve already shared my Hippity Hop Socks, but here’s another link and photo. I did an afterthought heel on these and am not a fan of the fit, so I probably won’t be doing that regularly.

March’s socks were the Old Fashioned Sugar Frost Socks. This dreamy skein was a gift from my friend Christine and I absolutely love these socks!

Pattern: Sugar Frost Socks by Marianne Heikkinen; Mods: C/O 60 sts, 2×2 rib for 15 rounds. 7″ leg.
Yarn: The Fox and The Fawn’s Doe in Old Fashioned
Heel: Fish Lips Kiss
Toe: Rounded toe, decrease to 24 sts, k2tog around, (k1, k2tog) around, then kitchener the 8 remaining stitches.
Special Techniques: N/A
Thoughts: I did a 60-stitch sock on size 1 needles, but have since learned that 64 stitches fit me better on that size needle, so these are a little snug. This yarn is so luxurious! These are my favorites so far.

April socks: Peach Waffle Socks

Pattern:  Bluberry Waffle Socks by Sandy Turner; Mods: C/O 60 sts, 2×2 rib for 20 rounds. 5″ leg
Yarn: Fiber for the People Gilded in Peach Pit
Heel: Fish Lips Kiss
Toe: Same as above
Special Techniques: N/A
Thoughts: 60 stitches wasn’t as snug because the leg is shorter. I enjoy this length, but like 7″ a bit better. I’ve definitely found the way I like to knit socks – cuff down, 2×2 rib, FLK heel, rounded toe – so I’m not branching out as much as I’d hoped. On the other hand, I’m glad to have found my vanilla sock 😉 This was my first yarn with gold stellina and I really enjoy it!

Finally, my May socks… the fun and interesting IfThen socks! I was intrigued by this pattern the first time I saw it. The idea is to use a self-striping yarn and if the color changes, then you do a certain stitch pattern; thus, IfThen! I think it’s a super interesting concept and I really, really love how these turned out!

Pattern:  IfThen by Shanel Wu
Yarn: KnitPicks Felici in Spaceman; madelinetosh 80/10/10 in Shadowplay for contrast heel/toe/cuff
Heel: Fish Lips Kiss
Toe: Same as above
Special Techniques: Toe-up!! Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off
Thoughts: I finally tried toe-up socks and I must say, I really enjoyed it! Between that and the stripes, these flew off the needles (well, at least the first one did… hah). The bind-off turned out a little wavy, but I don’t mind 1×1 rib as much with toe-up because the bind off is stretchier than most cast-ons. I love the fit of the toe-up and think I’ll definitely knit more in the future! Also, Felici is sooo soft!

Don’t you think taking pictures of your own feet is so awkward?! I always feel like I’m “feet fliriting” with the camera! 😉