2019 Make Nine: Crafty planning for the year ahead

A friend recently said to me that after all of the hustle and bustle of the end of the year that January was meant to be a month-long recovery! I’m choosing instead to make this time a month-long opportunity for planning the coming year instead of my absurd start over the holidays of trying to cram everything into a few days or weeks.

My Make Nine 2019 Plans. Clockwise from top left: Glasshouse Shawl, Volt Jumper, Throwback Cardigan, Pipit Dress, Pom Pidou Shawl, Brave at Heart Mittens, Times Square Poncho, Birds of a Feather Shawl, and the Ixchel Sweater.

My Make Nine 2019 Plans. Clockwise from top left: Glasshouse Shawl, Volt Jumper, Throwback Cardigan, Pipit Dress, Pom Pidou Shawl, Brave at Heart Mittens, Times Square Poncho, Birds of a Feather Shawl, and the Ixchel Sweater.

While of course there’s “life-planning” and figuring out what books I want to read and what new skills I want to learn, the most fun part is figuring out what I want to MAKE this year! Happily, I stumbled upon a new IG account this year for the Make Nine Challenge, hosted by the lovely Rochelle of Lucky Lucille. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock the last couple of years because the challenge has been going on at least that long already. No matter, I’m always up for a challenge and I love how easy-breezy and low-key the idea of this one is.

I set to work at the end of 2018 trying to figure out my “priorities” for the coming year. As i hemmed and hawed and tweaked things I realised I was trying to find the perfect balance between larger and smaller projects. I want to be ambitious, but I don’t want to completely overwhelm myself either. I’m happy with where I netted out (and even happier that I have yarn for all of these projects in my stash) and really eager to stay on top of this throughout the year.

Ready for my January 1st casting on of the Pom Pidou shawl - a lovely gold stellina from Norah George Yarns and some Viola mohair silk from DEEP stash

Ready for my January 1st casting on of the Pom Pidou shawl - a lovely gold stellina from Norah George Yarns and some Viola mohair silk from DEEP stash

Last year Ravelry introduced a Challenge tab in their Projects pages too and I’d completely forgotten about it until someone mentioned it again on one of the boards. I’d completely forgotten I’d entered a goal for the year, which was to complete 10 projects. I’m happy to report that I completed 16 (nobody more gobsmacked than me over that result) and there were even a handful of WIPs in the mix that were finished too, which pleased me to no end.

This year I’ve decided to note 12 projects as a goal on Ravelry, knowing that I have 9 brand new ones for the Make Nine Challenge, I figure I’ll probably concentrate on trying to whittle down my WIPs pile too. I think I would be really discouraged to finish the year with 9 brand new WIPs and nothing to show for it I’ve already made a start on my projects though, casting on the Pom Pidou shawl whilst snuggled into my PJs on New Year’s Day. It’s coming out fairly stripe-y so far but I’ve decided I like it. The mohair is more fiddly than I anticipated though so it’s a bit of a slow go, but perhaps it will make for some good travel knitting.

Brave at Heart wip.JPG

I also cast on for the Brave at Heart mittens and I couldn’t be more delighted with how they’re turning out! We’re going to the WB Studios Tour for a family day out this weekend though so it’s a race to get them finished. These are for ME and I can’t wait. It’s brutally cold here in London at the moment so I’m looking forward to have these to tuck my hands into and keep them toasty warm!

Have you made plans for your 2019 makes? I’d love to hear about them!

Overwhelmed by WIPs

It had to happen some time but I think I've finally reached that point where I've got a few too many WIPs on the needles. I know my stitchy friend Lara would agree as she helped me discover quite of few of them when we did a tidy up of my stash when she was visiting last autumn.

Lara helped me sort my WIPs and "next projects" into a specific bin for me to work from.

Lara helped me sort my WIPs and "next projects" into a specific bin for me to work from.

While I've been working away on a number of projects, as you can expect there wasn't too much forward momentum happening on any of them. I've had to adjust tacks and streamline my rotation of projects and now I'm pleased with how things are progressing (minor mistakes discovered notwithstanding).

Way to stash-bust! Hold two strands together and knit an afghan on big needles... This is  Garter Squish  by Stephen West - although in my excitement to get going on it I forgot to do the rolled edge noted in the pattern. Oops...

Way to stash-bust! Hold two strands together and knit an afghan on big needles... This is Garter Squish by Stephen West - although in my excitement to get going on it I forgot to do the rolled edge noted in the pattern. Oops...

It probably helps that a fair number of them are garter stitch, which right now seems to make me unbelievably happy. There's a comfort to garter stitch - it's familiar and squishy and dependable. Perfect for mindless knitting, you can just keep knitting without having to pay too much attention to the pattern (or any at all if you want to inadvertently omit part of it as I've just discovered I've done).

More cotton and another blanket - hmm... a theme with me right now, in addition to the garter stitch. This is the  Munchkin Blanket  by Amy Swenson and has been lovely to knit.

More cotton and another blanket - hmm... a theme with me right now, in addition to the garter stitch. This is the Munchkin Blanket by Amy Swenson and has been lovely to knit.

I'm still at the garter stitch portion of Rachel's new shawl design too. The rhythm of the garter stitch is keeping me calm while I "just keep knitting, just keep knitting" - and slowly chip away at projects, and my stash! 

All wound up and ready to go. Maybe my next theme will be colourwork?

All wound up and ready to go. Maybe my next theme will be colourwork?

But I think it will be time for something new soon. How about you?

Wicked WIP Wednesday

I often joke 'there's no rest for the wicked!' when things are busy but oh my gosh it's just been full on since the holidays ended!

When things are this crazy, it can be difficult not to be distracted from all the 'ooh shiny' of new projects or patterns. It's a huge occupational hazard to be keeping up with knitting sites and chat boards on Ravelry when there are all kinds of tempting goodies are on offer!

Case in point - Rachel's new shawl design that I blogged about last week. It's brilliant, and straight-forward, and I think I'm in love with the simplicity of it. Of course, I'm on the miles of garter stitch body at the moment but even the lace bit looks to be not very complicated either (and we all know how I feel about lace!).

Still, I've been managing to sneak in a row here and there while on buses, or at a morning coffee with the mums after the school run, or one last row before I fall into bed after working late, so the shawl is growing slowly but surely.

While I'm still at that point in a newly cast-on project where it's all I want to knit, I'm wondering if there isn't some truth to Rachel's theory that knitting handspun projects just progress faster. Like knitting stranded colourwork or stripes, there's that urgency and motivation to get to the next bit to see how it's going to turn out - and that's more or less how I'm feeling about discovering how this handspun is going to look when it's knitted up.

Only time will tell! What lovely distractions are keeping you from your own work, or knitting?

Lush-cious WIP Wednesday

My boys are back - hooray!

Now it's all about getting back into the swing of things and our routine was already disrupted this week due to the bank holiday so once again I feel like I'm playing catch up!

Top left: you can see the original half panel that I'd knit then completely buggered. When I started again I made it rather more complicated by slipping the provisional stitches only another needle almost immediate, then knitting from both sides for a bit before removing the waste yarn to confirm that everything was "as it should be".

Top left: you can see the original half panel that I'd knit then completely buggered. When I started again I made it rather more complicated by slipping the provisional stitches only another needle almost immediate, then knitting from both sides for a bit before removing the waste yarn to confirm that everything was "as it should be".

There's a few things happening on the needles but what I'm most excited about is the progress I made on the Lush knit-a-long (or KAL for short) while the boys were away. I had started the lace panel before they left but ended up making a mess of the provisional cast on and picking up stitches so had to start over two days before I left for Paris!

You can see here how the lace works outward from the centre in two directions. I love this gorgeous leaf motif. The lace panel needs to be blocked to the right width before you can pick up the stitches for the collar or the body. Which is why I was in a rush to get this done so that I could take it with me as my train knitting to Paris!

You can see here how the lace works outward from the centre in two directions. I love this gorgeous leaf motif. The lace panel needs to be blocked to the right width before you can pick up the stitches for the collar or the body. Which is why I was in a rush to get this done so that I could take it with me as my train knitting to Paris!

The construction of this sweater is one of the things that attracted me to this KAL. I love that designer Emily Wessel has taken what is really a very simple, top-down cardigan and made it fresh and interesting with the way that it starts. The "challenging" bit, the lace panel yoke, is done right off the bat, and then the collar and body are picked up from the edges and knit up and down to complete the rest of the sweater.

Nothing like knitting in a Paris cafe! The collar well under way.

Nothing like knitting in a Paris cafe! The collar well under way.

Being a top-down sweater the really great advantage is being able to try the sweater on as you go, to make sure that it is fitting how you like and allowing you to make adjustments along the way. I'm a little longer in the torso so I knit about an inch longer before starting the waist shaping. I also wanted a slightly longer sweater, so opted to knit the body and inch or two longer before starting the ribbing at the bottom.

A couple of days later in Paris and the collar was done and I was onto the body of the sweater.

A couple of days later in Paris and the collar was done and I was onto the body of the sweater.

Once into the body of the sweater, the knitting is pretty straight forward and makes for good social knitting. Or train, car, tv and pub knitting. Once I was back from Paris the following weekend it was off to Wonderwool so there were plenty of long stretches on the road where I could watch a movie on the train with my knitting!

Close up of the lace yoke - isn't it fabulous?

Close up of the lace yoke - isn't it fabulous?

Just the sleeves and the button band to go!

Just the sleeves and the button band to go!

Knowing that I consider myself to be a pretty slow knitter, I have to say how incredibly pleased I am with what a relatively quick knit this cardigan has turned out to be! It's now just on to the sleeves and button band, although I confess that now I'm close to the end I've allowed myself to be distracted by other things, like a wee design project with Rachel.

With any luck I may be able to finish this in the next few weeks!