Stash dash

Stash dash: Or the quiet revaluation of goals

Windswept sweater in progress. Yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed, colourway Scree

Windswept sweater in progress. Yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed, colourway Scree

As you may remember from the blog last week I have been quietly contemplating my rather rash 10K goal for stash dash, after the somewhat depressing discovery that my crocheted, stripe blanket was rather smaller than I remembered it being.

As a result I took to rootling under the bed for some (very) long-neglected WIPs and came up trumps with this one. It is a Windswept sweater - pattern by Tin Can Knits which I started well over a year ago. All was going swimmingly with it as I recall. I had done the yoke, which is worked flat, separated for the sleeves and even sorted out the tricky overlap section to start working the body in the round.

Then, for reasons best known to my past self I had set the project aside without noting where I was on the lace panel chart (because of course I'm normally so good at doing that - not). When the time came for me to pick it up again, of course I couldn't remember what line was I up to so I did what I normally do and hope for the best. That didn't work, obviously and after another round I realised that I had totally messed it up.

I did what every normal, sane knitter would do with such a project. I stuffed it under the bed and went to cast on a shawl instead.

I'm pleased to report that this has a happy ending anyway. To my shame it really only took about 10 minutes to tink back, fix the lace panel and work out where I was - once I had a strong cup of coffee under my belt.

So, now I'm firmly back on track, steaming my way down the body and contemplating devious means of knitting the sleeves two at a time (to avoid my usual bout of sleeve paralysis). It may not get me to my 10K goal but it might help me to a respectable 7K with a bit of luck and a following wind.

Miracles take a little longer...

There used to be a sign over an office desk where I worked a temporary job. "The impossible we can do right away, miracles take a little longer".

I was reminded of this yesterday as I surveyed my Attic24 Granny Stripe blanket which has been in hibernation (aka under the bed) for an embarrassingly long time. In my head I was merrily thinking that this blanket could be finished this summer and would happily boost my stash dash total and help me on my way to my 10k goal.

The only problem seems to be that my blanket has shrunk while it was in storage. I was quite sure that I had done more than this. But the cold hard reality is that I have maybe done 8 or 9 inches on what is a double bed sized Afghan. Never one to give in without a fight I entertained the thought of doing a stripe per day and getting it done that way. Conveniently ignoring the fact that stash dash ends in mid August and we have a foreign holiday booked between then and now.

Out of interest I timed myself - and found one colour stripe (2 rows) takes an hour. 

At this point it is pretty obvious that this blanket might be fine in time for stash dash - but it will be in 2018!

If anyone wants me I will be drinking coffee and quietly evaluating whether to scale back my 10k goal to something slightly more achievable.

Sock knitting and stash diving

This month, the Everyday Knitter Facebook group is all about stash diving. Even those of us with slightly more modest stashes than my own yarn mountain have a few precious skeins. You know the ones. The ones we keep squirreled away in case of dire knitting emergencies. The ones that we bring out to pet every now and again, to sniff, to ruminate over it's endless possibilities -  and then we tuck it back neatly away out of sight.

So, this month we are celebrating the joy of untapped potential hidden in our stash. Pick a glorious skein of yarn and show it off. Pair it with a beautiful pattern and you're all set. For extra brownie points this should be an item for yourself. I refuse to use the term selfish knitting when discussing knitting for oneself. Instead I prefer to use the word indulgent. Our crafting time is precious and it's only right that we should enjoy it. What could be better than working on something you love, in yarn you love and knowing that you'll get great pleasure in wearing or using the finished object as well.

Sounds like a win, win to me.

Short and sweet

It’s just a short blog post from me today. The bank holiday weekend is upon us here in the UK and the race is on to enjoy the warm sunny weather before the inevitable rain hits us. On the bright side, a rainy bank holiday is the perfect excuse to hole up inside and crack on with the knitting.

As I’m sure you all know by now (obsessed - moi?) Stash Dash has now begun and I can finally get round to liberating some sock needles from a lingering pile of sock WIPs.

The sun is shining and I’m outside with my sock knitting and my coffee. The house is quiet as everyone else has a lie-in so it’s just me and the cats. And the neighbourhood peacock trying his best to wake every living soul - but I’m ignoring him.

This photo was taken yesterday where I was doing much the same thing but obviously much more presentably attired. Trust me - no one needs to see my morning self with crumpled PJs.

In my head I envision a weekend full of a parade of finished socks lining up in front of me. As the house wakes and domestic duties take over I will still cling grimly to that hope and keep my knitting with me at all times to get the odd round in here and there. And if nothing else - I can use an emergency DPN to stab that infernal peacock,

It's all about the knitting - top tips for maximising your knitting time

At the risk of sounding a trifle obsessed my focus today is all about getting ready for Stash Dash - which starts tomorrow! I may have mentioned it once or twice before.

Success in Stash Dash (whatever your goal is) depends upon maximising your knitting time, and at the risk of stating the bleeding obvious you need to spend as much of your free time knitting and avoiding having to tink back or stop to hunt for supplies.

 With this in mind I am putting together a few project bags which have all of my essential supplies needed for socks and shawls - stitch markers, tape measures, waste yarn etc. I don’t know about you but in my house I can easily lose 10 minutes searching for a tapestry needle. And that crucial 10 minutes knitting time can be much better spent putting in an afterthought heel.

I know that not everyone shares my obsession but this year with time tighter than ever I have put together a few top tips to help me reach my 10K goal - I will report back later on how successful they are:

  1. Round up all essential supplies and set up a “sock bag” and a “shawl bag” where my current projects can live while they are being worked on.

  2. Do a quick inventory of larger projects and check what stage they are at. Do they need trying on or a decision made about length/fit/gauge - now is the time to decide so that you don’t waste valuable knitting time later on in a state of chronic indecision (no prizes for guessing how I know this).

  3. Do you need to order more needles? I’m not joking - nothing is worse than getting to the crucial stage of a project and realising that you need a different size or that something is lost or broken.

  4. Plan to curb screen time. This is a big one for me but I need to get my screen time under control if I’m going to make the most of my free time. I’ve downloaded an app called QualityTime to help me monitor how much time I spend online on my phone and I fully expect to be slightly shocked. If I manage to cut my screen time by even a quarter - that’s time that can be more gainfully employed.

  5. Gather up local takeaway menus and put them on the fridge. I’m not planning to feed the kids pizza every night (although the thought did cross my mind) but a few easy meals and minimal kitchen time will mean that I can spend some of the precious early evening hours (before I’m too tired to function) getting some solid knitting time under my belt.

If you have any tips for squeezing more knitting time into the day I’d love to hear them. Every little helps, as they say.

Serious preparation required

Time for some serious list making today as Stash Dash looms large in my knitting calendar. My basket of unfinished objects is starting to make me a little twitchy, I must confess but they have to wait until May 26th until I can gleefully cast them off and count them towards my 10K goal.

Because Stash Dash is all about maximising your knitting time I am taking advantage of my restlessness now to compile a list of all my stash dash projects. I have them listed in Ravelry too but as a committed bullet journaler I like to have all the information to hand in my trusty journal too.

I've tried many knitting trackers and apps over the years but I always come back to the tried and tested paper option. In order to try and minimise the amount of time spent faffing with lists I tend to use Ravelry to track my progress and yarn amounts used. But I can't help being drawn to some beautiful ideas on Pinterest for tracking project progress. This idea in particular really caught my eye - but don't say you weren't warned. The combination of knitting and bullet journalling is a complete Pinterest black hole.

How to keep track of your Stash Dash total

There has been a lot of discussion and questions about the actual process of taking part in Stash Dash and whether it is cumbersome to keep track of exactly how much you have knitted. As ever in so many things knitting related Ravelry comes to the rescue.

By entering the amount of yarn you have used for a project Ravelry will automatically calculate the exact amount of yarn used (in meters and in yards). For example, for a shawl where you have used 1.5 skeins of a sock weight yarn - you can just enter 1.5 skeins (or you can do it by weight - 150g) and Ravelry will work out the rest.

To make life even simpler you can set up Ravelry to keep a running total of your total. Just assign each completed project a tag (eg StashDash2017) and then you can set up a filter to just show you all of those projects - and at the bottom it proudly displays your running total. With zero effort on your part.

If you've never done this before go to your notebook page and click on the ‘organise’ tab.

Then click on the button to ‘create a new set’. You just need to make sure that you enter your stash dash tag exactly as you've used it on your project.

Then when you go back to your main notebook page you will see a new tab across the top for StashDash2017. You can then click on this to see all of your Stash Dash projects neatly in one place.

In these screen shots I have shown you the one I set up for last year - I do hope it helps. After all Stash Dash is meant to be about maximising your knitting time so it makes sense to let Ravelry take care of the maths.

Project overload

Too much choice?

Too much choice?

It was inevitable. Yesterday in a fit of pre Stash Dash planning I pulled out all my WIPs and neglected projects and piled them up in a heap on my bed. And then I sat back and looked at them. 

I'm not going to outline them all because to be perfectly honest with you I felt a sense of shame and overwhelm that I find quite hard to put into words.

In my house I have, let's be frank a lot of money tied up in projects that have lain untouched for months and years. And in an age where austerity and very real hardship is a problem for so many people I have to say it made me feel incredibly sad that my WIPs had got to this level. I am lucky enough to be able to buy beautiful yarn and yet some of it is yet to see the light of day and again.

I have no wise words or cunning plan today I'm afraid. My tried and tested list making skills failed to help as itemising it won't make the problem better. Equally, shoving it all back under the bed won't help either but that was the solution I opted for.

One day, when I have steeled myself I will go back and pick out a few projects at random and make a decision on them. Frog it or finish it. I'm not going to number them or set goals for myself right now but by the end of Stash Dash I'm hoping to have considerably fewer bags under the bed and hopefully a lighter heart too.

Lists of lists

So, today I'm all about the lists and a bit of organisation. I have decided to get all my ducks in a row before the start of Stash Dash 2017 in an effort to beat my total from last year when I completed 14 projects with a total of 7826m.

Poor planning on my part meant that a few larger projects were finished up in April and May when in actual fact I could have saved them up and counted them against my finished Stash Dash tally.

This year I would like to pass the 10K mark - I know - why do we do it to ourselves. But, show me a challenge and I can never resist.

Phase 1 of my cunning plan involves assessing all my sock WIPs and seeing how much work is needed on them. Short answer - a lot. I'm aiming to get each one to around the 75% complete mark and then in the first week of stash dash I can have a burst of finishing and give myself a bit of a motivational boost into the bargain.

I does mean of course though that I'll need to cast on a few more things - so that I have something to work on as May 26th (the official start date) appraoches.

If you'd like to find out all the rules and requirements for Stash Dash please follow the thread on the Knit Girlls Ravelry group. Their next podcast episode is promised to be all about the event - so you are far better off getting all the information direct from them.

Right, now I think I might just go and set up a spreadsheet or two.

To finish or not to finish...

It's a dilemma that most knitters will empathise with. I have at a conservative estimate 5 pairs of vanilla self stripe socks in various stages of completeness. Most of them are toe-up with an afterthought heel and at least 2 pairs could be finished in an evening if I put my mind to it.

My problem of course is that Stash Dash starts in just 3 weeks - on May 26th - I think (but don't quote me on it). Under the rules of this annual event all yardage from a completed project counts towards your Stash Dash total - no matter when it was started. So I could wait until May 26th and then whip a load of afterthought heels in and easily get the first 1000m or so under my metaphorical belt.

But then, I'm feeling the urge to finish a few things and free up some project bags. Oh.. and I've run out of sock needles too. Decisions...