I’ve been thinking a lot about the Ravelry challenge (you say you want to make however many things and they track it for you), along with the Make 9 project, as I see all sorts of lists and plans that people have.
I don’t really pre-plan projects, but something about that speaks to me. The most pre-planning I get is making my fleece to sweater project for the year, but even then it’s quite nebulous until I start actually making the project.
I honestly don’t know what I want to make next, let alone by the end of the year, so those lists don’t work for me. The Ravelry challenge I like because you don’t come up with a specific list prior, but their challenge doesn’t include everything – most notably your spinning projects don’t count (for some reason) even though weaving does, and it doesn’t include quilting since that’s out of the focus of the site.
So I think what I’m going to do is transplant the Ravelry idea to this blog so I can actually count all my finished projects this year. It’ll encompass knitting, weaving, quilting, dyeing, and spinning (maybe some other random things?). The goal this year: Make 25.
Twenty-five what? Don’t know! And some things will be multiple makes for the same project: spin the yarn is one make, knitting or weaving with that yarn is another make.
A number though doesn’t mean production – the point isn’t the number. The number is a way for me to stretch myself. Try new things and new techniques, because that learning process is something I’m always striving for. I have lots of things I’d like to try this year. Naturally dyeing cellulose for some quilts is a big one. Finishing 51 Yarns that I started in 2019 but totally languished in 2020 is another.
I do have some specific plans – I desperately want the make The Oa, and I have the yarn (my millspun Cheviot) and the newly acquired knowledge now to tackle the steeks.
I haven’t decided on my 2021 fleece to sweater project, although I’m thinking perhaps a cardigan rather than a pullover. The Farmhouse Cardigan by Amy Christoffers, or Smokey Lake by Jessie McKitrick would both be lovely additions in my ever-rotating hoard of sweaters.
2020 Fleece to Sweater
I talked a lot about this project in a previous post, so I’m not going to chat too much about it here, because if you’re interested you can head right on over to read all the ups and downs this project had in 2020.
What I will say is that I finished it up on January 1st, blocked and wove in the ends on January 3rd, and I’ve been wearing this sucker a lot since then. I really, really love this sweater. It’s incredibly warm (much needed for cold prairie winters), and I know this will become one of my most-worn sweaters over time. I’m so happy that, in the end, I got a sweater I completely love.
I’ve been going slowly on spinning projects lately, focusing instead entirely on working with my drop spindle. I’ve been spinning up what was originally meant to be a small sample of the Cheviot roving I got back from the mill, but I’ve been having such a nice time the sample ended up being a bit larger than I originally had planned for.
I’m so extremely pleased with this roving – it’s so light and airy, which makes it a dream to spin, especially on a drop spindle (no pre-drafting required!).
As is my way, I ended up plying it on the wheel. I’m what some may call anal retentive about my plying – I really do not like it to be uneven, so that’s why I always do it on the wheel. I use a system where I count my treadles and distance from the orifice so I can get a ply that is even. My drop spindling skills are nowhere near up to my standard when it comes to plying, so I just switch to the wheel once the singles are done.
I’m officially counting this little skein, whose yardage is about 85 yds, as my first completed Make 25 project.
I know this image is a bit of a tease, but because I’ll be listing a lot of these in the shop, I’m not quite ready to show the actual colours yet. Especially since that skein on the left hand side isn’t the finished colour yet (a few of the colours I make require at least two separate steps).
The first half of January was all about prep for dyeing. I scoured and mordanted the Cheviot I got from the mill, and I’ve jumped head first into my cellulose – I managed to scour, tannin, and mordant all my cotton that was in my stash as well.
If I have a lot of one type of thing to do, I prefer to do it production-line style. I do all of step one, then all of step two, etc. together. I find it keeps me focused on the end-goal. If I mordanted just a bit of yarn, then dyed it, then I’d have to go back to mordanting to do the next batch, and that’s cumbersome. I like having it all ready to go for dyeing so when it comes time I can just completely immerse myself in that step, which for me is the most fun part.
I also like to let mordanted goods sit for a while before dyeing. I have absolutely no scientific basis for this, but I’ve noticed anecdotally that after I’ve mordanted if I let the fibre sit, the colours do appear to be more even, and deeper – in hue and in tint. So it’s something I just always do now. A week minimum, but I’ve been known to keep mordanted yarn around for months.
I’m really hoping to be able to get all the dyed yarn, washed wool, and roving up by mid-February. That’s what looks reasonable to me right now (fingers crossed). I’ll be sending out a newsletter a few hours earlier to subscribers to announce that everything is up so they get first dibs, so if you’d like to be first in line, there’s a little sign up form right over to your right on the page.
In the post linked above to my 2020 Handspun Sweater project you’ll notice I mention another yarn that was slated to be used for Derwent as well that didn’t have the yardage I needed. After licking my wounds on that one, I decided it would end up making a vest, so I cast that on this month.
I’m going very plain for this knit – straight stockinette with ribbed cuffs. Since I don’t have a ton of this yarn, I want to be sure I have enough to complete the project, and putting in a bunch of cables or texture would end up using more yardage than straight stockinette.
As of typing this, I’m a little bit less than halfway through the body, and I’ve used maybe 2/5 of the yarn. It might be close but I think I’ll be good on yardage.