Camp Loopy 2020: July Challenge

Pattern: Flax, Yarn: Malabrigo

Another month has come and gone, I can’t believe July will be over in two days. For the second month of Camp Loopy 2020, my hands took on the challenge of knitting a large sweater (just under 1200 yards, worsted weight) for my partner’s birthday. Before getting into the details of the challenge, I want to take a moment to discuss how much I love using Tincanknits’s Flax sweater patterns (worsted and fingering weight) without the garter stitch pannels to make classic raglan sweaters. I’ve knit several of each for myself and others and am always happy with the fit and the color pooling, but always have over 200 yards of yarn leftover. Seriously, I was anticipating this sweater needing 1400 yards! Anyways, here was the challenge for July:

The July Challenge:
We are celebrating The Botany Lab, The Zoology Lab and The Entomology Lab in July.Your project needs to reflect plants, or animals, or insects.You can show this representation in the colors you pick, or the color name, or the pattern itself, or the pattern name, or the designer name.You need to use a minimum of 600 yards of yarn, single knit or crocheted (not held double).Examples for Botany Lab (plants): You could pick colors like DragonfruitJoshua TreeRose & IrisMountain WildflowersGarden PartyHolly HockPomegranate BlossomVegetable MedleySeaweedIvy.

OR patterns like: Graceful Leaves PulloverMaple Ridge VestHibiscus CardiganProtea Cable & Lace ScarfTree SeekerSproutedThe Rose That Grew From ConcretePeaslake ShawlFairy Leaves WrapVioleta Tunic.Examples for Zoology Lab (animals): You could pick colors like Flamingo on my LawnGrey TabbySilver FoxRainbow TroutThe Cat’s PyjamasManateeKoi PondDirty PantherTurtle.

OR patterns like: Koi PondLlama DramaGoldfish MemoryWild SwanCrayfish Party SocksSimple Tee (by ChurchMOUSE), Barklines,Examples for Entomology Lab (insects): You could pick colors like The Unicorn BeetleA Butterflies DreamLightning BugFireflyBeeswax.

OR patterns like: Bee FieldsDancing ButterfliesJimi CricketWool and HoneyHoneybee CardiganDragonflies JumperThe Love of SpidersQueen Bee PulloverButterflyArachneMothed.

He’s laughing at me because didn’t trust him not to get food on his sweater during dinner

I know what you’re thinking: With so many choices, why would you choose to do another flax sweater? For starters, I wanted to make something with more yardage than the minimum as I finished last month’s challenge so quickly. Due to the pandemic and working from home, I have a lot of knitting time on my hands during meetings if the project is simple enough. This brings us to my next argument for choosing a simple project: it’s simple and doesn’t require a lot of brainpower. In other words, I can use my hands to see my stitches instead of having to look at or think about what I’m working on. The most important reason, however, is that I knew my partner would love another handknit sweater (re: my feelings on the sweater curse). 

I even made him a matching hat with the leftover yarn :]

Having finished this challenge in about 10 days, I’m realizing I may need to take on something bigger for August if I want the project to last. It’s weird to think that this time last year all my free time was spent hiking and traveling. We’re still hiking, but our ability to travel several hours to make a weekend event of it is temporarily out of our control. In the meantime, my partner has started requesting I knit him another sweater in a different color (for his birthday, since this one was gifted sooner), so I will take comfort in the knowledge that he loves his sweater and we still have a life time of adventure before us. 

On expectations

Viking combat demonstration

I went to my first renaissance fair this past weekend, a small newer fair that just completed its fourth year. It was a lot of fun — there were combat demonstrations, an archery contest, food trucks, handmade items, a mermaid and so much more. We spoke with a variety of vendors and touched finely crafted practice swords. I even had my first Scottish Egg.

Yet as we left the fair, four hours after arriving, I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated. Yes, I had had a great day. The weather was perfect. The people were friendly. The good was tasty and the demonstrations were informative. That being said, I had been expecting more. In my mind, I was going to be out of place by dressing in jean shorts and a sweatshirt. In my mind, I was going to be immersed in a culture that I would not be able to experience elsewhere. I had been expecting a theme park and was underwhelmed by the demonstrations that supplemented a craft fair, something that wasn’t really fair to the event (again it was fun and I had a great time).

Expectations are complicated and it doesn’t help matters that people often compare things to exceeding or failing to meet them. Is it possible to have realistic expectations? Can someone be truly open-minded whilst having expectations?

As I prepare myself to DM for a friendly game of Dungeons and Dragons, I find myself grappling with these questions. What are my expectations for the game? Will my players feel as though I’ve met their expectations as a DM? Will I exceed them? How does one compensate for expectations and how they are often unrealistic.

Completed Alaska Sweater

Over the past view weeks, I’ve been aggressively working towards the completion of The Loopy Ewe’s first camp challenge of the year. The challenge for the month of June (besides requiring that the project uses more than 400 yards): Since 2019 is the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk, pick a pattern that was published in 2019 for your first project — A pretty reasonable feat considering how many new patterns have been published that I’ve been head over heels for. Thinking that my SO was heading to graduate school for the entire month, I opted to attempt to make an entire DK weight sweater in the month of June. In this case, my expectations of myself were reasonable. I finished with several days to spare and didn’t let the process completely consume my life.

Yarn for July’s Challenge

Enter July’s challenge: The challenge is to knit a pattern from one of the designer “stars” on Ravelry. Any designer who has three or more pages of patterns listed on Ravelry gets into the “star” category for this challenge (They are prolific stars!). This challenge failed to meet my expectations, why not challenge us to find a “rising star”? Why push us towards patterns that we’ve probably knit before? Not to mention every time I thought I had a good idea I couldn’t find the right color or amount in the shop, but that’s a different type of frustrating. Despite this, I feel as though I can still meet my expectation of completing a project over 400 yards in July. Especially considering the project is about half of the size of June’s.

So are expectations bad? I don’t think so, especially when you use them to drive yourself towards a goal. Other times, I think you need to check your expectations at the door and be willing to run with the punches, sometimes the things you weren’t expecting are just as good as the ones you were.