Thursday, November 3, 2011

Catching Up with Our NEWT-lings

Evening everyone! I sent out questions two weeks ago to all those I've been following for OWLs and NEWTs. I had planned on giving the NEWT update last week and the OWL this week, but my eyes were not cooperating last week (stupid allergies). So instead this week I'll be featuring our NEWT students answers and next week we'll look at the OWL students. Then hopefully finish up the last two weeks of term with turn-ins! So let's get started!
I asked each student the following three questions:
1. What have you learned so far in doing this NEWT?
2. How is your progress coming?
3. Any surprises, good or bad, so far?
And here are the answers I got:
1. I have learned that you can never underestimate the power of quidditch, or the desire to Knit All The Things. I knew my October was going to be crazy busy, and had planned to have more than the required 50% complete by the end of September. However I was distracted by too many shiny things, and this didn’t happen. NEWTs really require you to focus.

2. Progress-wise, I’m behind! And I don’t think I have any hope of meeting my 75% by the 31st. I still think I can finish by the end of term; there’s just too much RL going on this week to fit in much knitting.

3. Surprises. Hm. Well, my first cat sock is too small, so I’m saving that project for last along with the needed maths. I’ll need to reknit the first one in an attempt to have a functional matching pair. That was the only big unexpected thing to come up. I’m trying to do the mitts two-at-a-time (I’ve not tried this before) to make up time…which really doesn’t make sense, but it’s the way I feel about it. If that goes well, I may attempt the sock rematch that way in November.

1. What have I learned so far? Do a m1 even if it say kfb. I’ve got “holes” where I kfb in the body shaping (which I’ve never done before) and they bother me. I’m going to go back when I’m done and see if I can tack them shut.

2. Progress is on track! I should be able to make my 75% this month! woohoo!! I’ve got piece #3 done for the HoM portion, and my sweater is nearing it’s 75% mark, too!

3. Surprises….just the fact that I LOVE this sweater more than I thought I would! I found my KP ends and new 60” cable, so I am actually able to try it on, and it fits!!!

1. Expect that in a 4 month time period real life will come up. Time turners are useful for getting everything accomplished. Misplacing your pattern greatly hinders progress.
As far as techniques go this has been a NEWT of firsts. I knit my 1st fair isle sweater and steeked it. I spun with superwash wool and nylon for the 1st time. I spun my 1st cabled yarn

2. The 1st 2 months were great, I got to 50% about a week early and was very happy with how things were turning out. Then I had some real life things hit: both positive and negative, some expected some surprises. I know fully expect that I can hit the 75% mark on time by finishing all of my spinning. However, I don’t know if the last sweater is going to happen or not.

3. I was really shocked how the yarn I spun for Luna came out. I had dyed the fiber with very bright colors and some white spaces and was very surprised at how much those blended into pailer colors. Holding the first skein of yarn up to the remaining fiber, it was almost hard to believe they were from the same hank. I am now knitting socks from that yarn for my BROOM and am finding that it knits up in a way that looks like Luna to me. So I think that this was happy surprise.

1. I’ve learned a lot! I’m using a new-to-me charting program to chart the socks and fingerless gloves I’m designing for one part of my NEWT (how sad is it that I can’t remember if it’s Ancient Runes or Astronomy. Divination?), so I’m learning that as I go. I’ve also discovered that I love designing patterns! These first 2 are just socks and gloves, but I’ve got lots of ideas for other things swimming around in my head. I’m designing 2 patterns for my Order of the Phoenix mission, too, and hope to have all 4 done by the end of term. Then I plan to stalk the Ravelry pattern pages obsessively to see if anyone wants to knit them, or at least put them in their queue.

2. I’m pretty much right on schedule. Both patterns have been test-knit by my awesome friend Amy and I just need to incorporate her feedback and they’ll be ready to publish. They’ll be free Ravelry downloads, and I really hope people like them :-). I’m also cruising along on the Charms portion of my NEWT, which is a Shetland lace shawl. It’s the only thing on my knitting to-do list today, so I should get a whack of rows done today. My Order of the Phoenix mission is calling to me, though, so I may have to switch between projects. I have a hard time knitting one thing for long stretches of time.

3. I’m surprised at how easy it is to make mistakes when designing. What seems obvious and straightforward in my head doesn’t always turn out that way once I try to get it written up. And I’ve been happily surprised at how interactive the design process can be. Getting feedback from friends, having people I like test knit my ideas, etc. is so much fun!

1. I’m learning that although I love knitting lace charting it so it comes out exactly how my brain sees it is not as easy. The lace panel in my knee sock gave me fits and will need adjustments before publication. The lace for my first hat was much simpler and will not need modification for publication.

2. I am not as far along as I want to be right now. I’d say I’m at the 60% mark. I need to be at 75% by the end of the month. I’ve been very distracted knitting socks this month. They are great socks, just not part of my NEWT. I’d say they are a field trip into the wilds of knitting instead of staying in my dorm to study.

3. My biggest surprise is I’m needing far less yarn than I imagined I would to complete my projects. This is both good and bad. Good because it is always GREAT to have more yarn. Bad because that means I’ve over estimated my yardage for my benchmarks and I’m needing to knit more…knit faster…knit more…knit faster…

1. That I’m still not fond of colorwork, no matter how much I like the result.
Also, that over enough repetitions of the geometric patterns of traditional Fair Isle, I can memorize it and not have to stare at the pattern the whole time.

2. Thank goodness I have weekly goals. I may be behind on them, but not too far. I made my September 50% goal, and I’m pushing very hard to reach that October 75%. Also, I’m very pleased that I named my benchmarks in terms of “grams of yarn” instead of locking myself in to a particular sequence. Things have happened that I couldn’t have predicted, and the flexibility is what’s kept me on track.

3. I hadn’t worked with sport weight yarn much at all before - I hadn’t realized how close it is to fingering. I wish that I had been brave enough to re-calculate and get this as worsted yarn and simply have larger, fewer motifs. A nearly-fingering weight sweater? This is… difficult.

Not a surprise, so much, but… I get very excited about making progress because of the support and cheers from House Cuppers. I know that I can post a progress picture and get words of encouragement, and that helps me a lot.

I suggest to all the NEWT students that they check out the NEWT thread of the OWL-a-long group - it’s nice having our own hangout!

1. Technique-wise, I’ve learned how to apply i-cord to a non-edge portion of a knitted item, along with making sure there are no terrible holes between my glove fingers. I’ve also learned that a good designer can make a difficult pattern a joy to knit…and vice versa. I’ve learned to live with a mistake in my knitting, because 1) nobody else can see it and 2) I’ll cry if I have to rip those frakking socks back again.
Also, planning is great, but it’s hard to know what you’ll want to knit two months in the future.

2. I think I’m progressing well. I’m on track for 75% by the end of October at least, though I want to get a little ahead because November is looking to be busy. Luckily, the socks I’m working on now are going faster than expected, so maybe I’ll have a chance to pull ahead. So far I’ve completed two pairs of socks, a pair of gloves, a cowl, a cowl, and some slippers. Except for the slippers, they’re all from fingering weight. Not doing that again, I’m craving bulky yarn.

3. Designers will sometimes give you a free pattern if you find a mistake in their design? Finding those mistakes was a surprise - I thought I was losing my mind and had to go through the direction with a handful of raisins (a raisin per stitch) several times before I convinced myself that there was a mistake.

1. That I am a worse procrastinator than I first thought! I had a lot of other projects going on in August, so I wasn’t able to focus on my NEWT as much as I wanted to and it really set me behind. I’ve also learned that when you are doing a lot of crocheting with black yarn you need a really really good source of light. I just invested in an OTT Lite for our living room, and I think it might just save my NEWT. This NEWT (plus the past few failed OWLs) have also reinforced that sometimes I’m way too ambitious for my own good.

2. Slowly. I’m probably right at about 40% now, so I have a long way to go to catch up. Two dragons (out of 7) are completely done, with 3 others in progress. If I’m lucky I’ll still make my 75% and 100% marks, but it’s not a sure thing just yet.

3. Not really - but I still have a long way to go so there still might be surprises down the road.

Thanks everyone for your quick and thoughtful answers. I know you all have been doing great work and I'm looking forward to the final results from each of you! Check back in next week to see the answers from our OWL students!

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