Camp Loopy 2021: June Challenge

Camp Loopy 2021 June Challenge: We’re celebrating the three rings of the circus with this one. Pick a pattern with 3 different stitches going on, or three different colors in the pattern, or changing the stitch or pattern every three rows, or even the word “three” in the name of the pattern or color! You’ll need to knit/crochet 400 or more yards in this June project (single knit, not held double). As always, we want you to knit something you love. If you can explain to us how your project celebrates “three” and you’re hit the 400 yard mark, we’re good!
Baby sweater with a pink body and a beige strip creating the arms and chest.

June was a rough month for me crafting wise, I took almost two whole weeks off from knitting before coming back refreshed. I’m not blaming the 3×3 rib that exists in Jessie Maed’s Ripple Crop top, I was actually cruising along at breakneck speed until suddenly hitting a wall and needing to put down my needles.

Part of coming back from my knitting break was realizing that there are a handful of projects that “just need to be finished”. The first one is the Macaroon Sweater that I started for my niece back in December. Long story short, I ended up knitting a larger size and running out of yarn. When I went to place a new order, the yarn was backordered until May. After months of sitting around on stitch holders, its officially blocked and the button closure has been attached! I found a cute flower button while in Portland ME on our honeymoon.

The second project that “just needed to be finished” was this one. I spent a lot of hemming and hawing and decided that negative ease tops are not currently articles of clothing that I feel comfortable wearing. Since I was half a foot into the Ripple Crop Top, I ended up using one skein of yarn and binding off the project as a cowl. This leaves me with one project left on my needles (a lace shawl, more on that later!) and one project on my loom (I’m weaving a rainbow scarf!).

Finished photos can be found on the project page when it’s done blocking :]

It feels good to be finishing projects and freeing up my needles, for this knitter having too many projects going at once takes up too much mental space. I have a lot of respect for knitters that have more than 3 projects going at any given time.

Real talk: I won’t be participating in July’s challenge this year. Or rather I will be, but I won’t technically be meeting all of the challenge requirements because I plan on a) stash diving and b) knitting something less than 600 yards. There was a lot of hemming and hawing on my end about this decision, but in the end I think it’s the right one.

Camp Loopy 2020: August Challenge

Let me start by saying, August is always the best month because you typically have the most freedom when it comes to meeting the challenge. As I write this post, my August project is sitting in my bathtub. Admittedly, I was up until late last night working the final rows despite having five more days to finish it. The challenge was as follows:

Yarn for August: Socks that Rock and Dream in Color

1. Your project must use 800 or more yards in one single project, singly knit. (Singly knit means an 800 yard project as opposed to a 400 yard project with the yarn held double to use up 800 yards.)

2. To celebrate our science theme, your project needs to fit into one of the following categories of science: Physical Sciences, Earth Sciences, or Life Sciences. It can fit in there by pattern name, pattern design, pattern designer, yarn name, or yarn color.

3. Yarn for your project (800 yards) needs to be purchased from The Loopy Ewe, July 10, 2020 or later. If you purchase during Camp Store Week (July 10-17), you can request a 15% discount on the yarn for your project. You’ll need to leave us an order note with the name of the yarn that you’re using for your project, so we know where to apply your discount.

4. The project needs to be started August 1, 2020 or later, and finished no later than August 31, 2020, with a photo of the finished project uploaded to our Camp Loopy Photo Gallery on our website by midnight on September 1st. You upload the photo on your Loopy account page.

Usually, I read through the prompt and spend HOURS trying to decide what to make. Hemming and hawing about how I want to spend the last month because the yardage requirement is typically the largest. This year, however, I hoped that the final prompt would have something Geology related because I’ve had my project picked out since May.

Normally, I’m intimidated by Stephen West’s designs. They contain so many different colors and I have a hard enough time selecting colors for stripes. I’m not sure what happened this year, but suddenly I’ve been drawn to his shawls. Striped Esjan, Skystorm, and Mosaic Musings hit my queue one right after the other as they popped up in my instagram feed (West has put together some new kits over the last few months). When Lava Lake was released, I fell in love with it and was itching to cast on.

Camp got in the way of a speedy cast on. Between Precamp, June and July, my yarn budget, and knitting time, was focused. That and the hope that August would pose a challenge that Lava Lake would fit nicely into. 1647 yards later, it’s done.

As I mentioned before, I have a hard time choosing colors to put together. This isn’t because I’m bad with color, I love color. Blending it, making it pop, etc etc. The problem I run into is I have a hard time making a choice. This problem is worse when I shop online, and since I’m not local to The Loopy Ewe I had to bite the bullet and ask for help.

Halfway mark, all decreases from here

This is the part where I tell you that I love local(ish) yarn shops. Their attention to detail and their enthusiasm for what they do is truly remarkable. Not only did they politely point out why the colors wouldn’t work as well as I thought, to my credit it’s hard when you can’t put them next to each other, they took the time to find colors that did (thank you Sarah!). Sure, maybe that’s their job (after all I worked for a yarn store and it is what we did), but I still think it’s going above and beyond. Finding colors that suit someone else’s vision is a skill and I really appreciate(d) it.

So what’s the vote on Lava Lake now that it’s done? Honestly, I can’t really believe that it’s done. Lava lake provided me with a simple yet interesting project. The repeat was easy to remember, but the color changes and the shaping were engaging. Admittedly, last night I entered the knitter zen of “this is getting finished tonight” and this comes with “how many more rows do I have to do?”, but I was almost sad to finish casting off.

When I started this project, I kept thinking about how it might be fun to knit it all in one color. Now that it’s done, and I’m left trying to figure out what to knit next, I still think that might be a good idea.

Just about to the blending of the last (first) two colors!

We’re in the middle of fixing up our fixer upper, which is a fancy way of saying that my yarn budget and ability to take on complex projects, is small. I’m not sure what I’ll knit next, but at least there’s some beautiful yarn in my stash to help me get started.

Since my shawl is still in my bathtub, I’ll share the final photos via instagram and my project page.

Edit: Because I just laid the shawl out and am in love with how HUGE it is.

Lava lake shawl laid out on a porch rail.

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 Ramp Up to Camp 2020

resized952020050495085018As I’m sure many of us can appreciate, working from home has returned my commuting time to me. This means I have over an hour of time back in my day, something I am enjoying as the days get longer and the weather gets nicer. While my coworkers have spent this extra time catching up on shows that they’ve fallen behind on, my partner and I have spent the extra time driving to remote trails. In other words, overall I have not really lost much car time.

That being said, what I’ve lost in having my car time break-even, I’ve gained in not driving. So as my partner drives us all over the place, I’m able to cheerfully knit in the passenger seat. Yes I am cranking out knitting projects left and right. Yes, it is starting to affect my creativity, and my ability to slowly think about what to knit next.

Enter Camp Loopy, a series of challenges that involves knitting one project in June, July and August. Normally, I’m not into deadlines or being told what to knit, but something about Camp Loopy is always a good time.

Someone, whether or not it was in honor of Covid, had the grand idea to create a pre-camp challenge, a ramp up to camp if you will. This came just in time, as I hadn’t yet decided to make my partner’s mom a Venzia shawl for her birthday and am currently trying to use up as much stash as I can outside of the summer challenge.

There were 9 prompts to choose from, this is the one I selected:

Buried Treasure: make something that has been in your Ravelry queue or on your Ravelry favorites list (or on your internal “must make” list) for more than a year. It has been buried in your list – now it is time to unearth it!

img_20200517_152847What was my “buried treasure”? The Wish and Hope cardigan by Anne B Hanssen, which I would make out of some leftover Wollmeise in Pinie. Hanssen promoted this pattern as free a while a go and I couldn’t help but eye it from a far.

When I first started the pattern, I couldn’t help but marvel in the beauty of working an intrecate pattern for a baby — after all a tiny sweater means you’re done with the lace work relatively quickly!

Don’t get me wrong, overall I’m happy with the way everything turned out, but I won’t be knitting this one again. I stopped the leaf pattern after the edging because I was tired of working it. Then I had to sludge through picking up so. many. stitches. But the icing on the cake was a three needle bind off at the top, which created a visible seam.. I should have used the kitchner stitch to graph it together. I could blame the wordiness of the pattern, but there’s a balance between providing enough information for beginners and overloading your experienced knitters.

I think my neighbors were happy with it, I left it outside their door with a note and haven’t heard anything. Nothing like being busy with a new baby!

On the sweater curse

String Theory Colorworks; Exotoxin

Well, it finally happened, a skein of yarn sitting in my stash informed me that it wants to be a pair of socks for a guy I’ve been seeing and, because I listened to it, I measured his feet. When we started dating I jokingly told him that I wouldn’t be knitting him anything until we were married because I liked him and I was worried about the sweater curse. He laughed and asked me if I seriously believed in “all that”, I awkwardly pointed out that any boyfriend I had ever knit for previously was not in my life anymore. Yet here I am, listening to a skein of yarn and dutifully measuring his feet so that I can cast on a pair of socks.

So what exactly is the sweater curse? To put it simply, it’s the idea that if you knit something (a lot of debate has gone into whether or not the item has to be a sweater in order to activate the curse) for your significant other it will doom the relationship because of one of the following:

  1. You will realize the relationship is the right one.
  2. Your partner will leave you because it’s too big of a gesture
  3. Your partner will not react “correctly” to the knitted garment (see On handmade items should be used for my response to people’s reactions to hand-knits)
  4. Your partner will meet the person they are meant to be with while wearing the handmade object

Do I really believe in the sweater curse? Yes and no. Yes, I believe that spending a lot of time making something for someone is going to give you a lot of time to think about how you feel about them. In some cases, as with one of my exes, you decide that they’re just not worth the fuss of the project and then you have to start thinking about why they aren’t worth it. In that case, it was an eye-opening this relationship is not meant to be. Other times I’ve knit for someone I’ve been seeing casually, and thought, you just need something to keep you warm. In this case, it was not the garment that lead to the downfall of the relationship.

So perhaps, I will make something for him, without worrying about the sweater curse. I will knit for him because I care about him and I want him to be warm. To me, knitting is an expression of friendship and love. It’s a way to give someone a physical memento of your time together or to give someone support when you can’t be there. So if all he does is look at those socks while working on his graduate degree, at least he knows someone in another state is rooting for him and cares for him. That, for me, would be enough. This, of course, is assuming that I have deemed him knit worthy, which is a discussion for another day.

My Alaska Sweater

I’m not ready to cast on just yet, my crafting time is currently being taken up by The Loopy Ewe’s Space Camp. June’s challenge? A pattern published in 2019 that uses over 400 yards of yarn. Which means I’m finally knitting the Alaska Sweater for myself. With a longer body and sleeves because I’m not a cropped sweater type of gal, so naturally that means I underestimated how much woolstok I needed (should have ordered an extra skein of each color, but optimistically ordered the last of both colors). 12 days left to go and I’m well over halfway done with the sweater, just the neckline and a sleeve left. Nothing like knitting a project that’s over 1000 yards in a month, I’m still waiting for the deadline stress to hit me.

This is the second summer in a row that I’ve taken on Camp Loopy, which means it’s the second summer in a row that I’m not starting my Holiday knitting in June. While this goes against a pledge I made to myself after going cross-eyed with Holiday knitting, it’s forced me to cut back on the number of people I knit for during the Holidays and the size of the projects that they receive. Or rather, it means I’m not trying to make my mom a pair of socks for Mother’s day, her birthday and Christmas (which maybe isn’t completely fair to her because she has small feet).

I have mixed feelings about these knitting challenges, they put a lot of constraints on the knitter. That being said, what you loose with constraints you gain in a virtual community. Unlike holiday knitting, these are deadlines you chose to take on and so did everyone doing the challenge with you. You get to agonize over projects together, grumble about the store not having enough yarn in what you thought was the perfect color, and then race to finish the project on time. Sure you get points and discounts along the way, but after the amount of time you put into picking a project it all comes down to community and a desire to create. In other words, I have time to decide whether or not this guy is truly knit worthy (which is not as terrible as it sounds).