Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How I Prepare for a New Term: MariaSamira

This is a newbie’s way to prepare for the next term!

After loosing a couple of notes with initial skein yardage for some projects I will start using a notebook to have a place to make notes when I’m not at the computer – projects, yardage, points and dates.

I also set up a break month to do list:
  1. Set up new spreadsheet (points+yardage tracking, as well as class ideas) 
  2. Make a list of items I need to make over the next 3 months (note deadlines, yarn, color etc.) 
  3. Make a list of items I want to make over the next 3 months (note deadlines, yarn, color etc.) 
  4. Add items from 2 & 3 to queue (add tags, notes, yarn, etc.) 
  5. Sort items from 2 & 3 for potential classes, OWL, Order Mission, Quidditch 
  6. Look at WIPs and sort them by category: keep, frog, not sure 
  7. Frog WIPs and re-wind yarn (update stash) 
  8. Get at least one WIP ready for WIP the First 
  9. Decide if I want to do an OWL and/or Order Mission 
  10. Add possible OWL projects to my OWL spreadsheet 
  11. Preparation for OWL: go through OWL spreadsheet and browse possible subjects; swatch, set up project pages, weigh yarn (write in notebook and/or project page), have proposal ready before the term starts 
  12. Preparation for Order Mission: set up project pages, put yarn in separate bag/space 
  13. Have a project bag for each OWL or Order Mission item 
  14. Add all dates/deadlines to the wall calendar as they come up (use colors, litte drawings, stickers etc.) 
  15. Add placeholder pictures to project pages to make finding them on the projects overview easier (also: use tags; organize them into sets)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Stairway to the top Part 2

We covered the first couple weeks worth of information from the thread our fearless leader started a few terms ago in part one of the Stairway to the top, and now we are going to look over the last couple weeks of it as we get close to the start of term.

Break Month Week 3


Why should you consider Advanced Studies? Advanced Studies earn a ton of points and we are trying to make it to the TOP! We don’t want to miss out on this opportunity.

If you are a NEWT student, you only have a couple days left to put forth your NEWT proposal. Hopefully you've been planning it out and working through the details. Many NEWTs were planned last month, proposed earlier this month and were approved and are well on their way to greatness. The rest of us will have to wait until next term to consider a NEWT! We’ll need to remember to think about that in March…

For most of us the question becomes OWL or Order Mission or both - which is the right step for you?

OWL - a Three Month Challenge!
You can learn all about how OWL’s work on the Everything OWL page in the main cup group.
Glance through your organized Queue. What do you really want, and really think you can do in 10 to 12 weeks? What did you tag as potential OWL projects?
A large lace shawl? An adult sweater? A large felted bag? That’s what you’re shooting for as far as complexity and size.
Head on over to our Advanced Studies Support thread for advice and help with your planning and for opinions on your patterns.

Order of the Phoenix Mission - a Two Month Challenge!
Check out the Order of the Phoenix guidelines!
If something “adult-sweater-sized” doesn't quite match your needs and plans this term, consider joining the Order! It can be dangerous, it’s always exciting… and it has less stringent, more flexible requirements.
A dozen blanket squares for charity, a short sleeved adult top, your first pair of socks, that mystery kal/cal that starts in October…that’s the sort of thing that fits in the Order.
You will have to do a bit of role playing in the order. For example, “ I am planning an intricately cabled pillow that will allow me to communicate with Order Headquarters in case of emergency.” You can get help with your planning and role-playing in the Advanced Studies Support thread.

Both an OWL and a Mission
only recommended for experienced crafters - you be the judge!
If you are a “Do It All” person - and who isn't, we’re trying to get to the TOP here! - keep in mind that there is no harm in proposing either or both options. You will not be penalized for not completing what you propose. On the other hand, if you fail to propose it - you lose any opportunity to earn those big points.

This is the week to make final decisions about your Advanced Studies!
Find help in the Advance Studies Support thread.

Don’t forget to continue working through your WIP pile, this is not a good time to cast on new! Try to avoid that temptation. Prepare your WIP the First Detention turn ins.

Break Month Week 4

Favorite this post


1) Get your OWL swatching done, this is an important step to ensure your success. Take pictures of your yarn and swatch.
2) Gather all the needed supplies - yarn, needles, pattern, etc. Put it in your favorite project bag so you are ready to go. Consider treating yourself to a new project bag as a reward for all your hard work during break month.
3) Write your OWL proposal and put it in the Advanced Studies Support thread to get feedback. Get all the formatting set up the way you like it. When the first gets here you can simply copy and paste your proposal with all the formatting (in the edit post screen).
4) Break your OWL down into smaller portions so you can better plan your crafting throughout term. Note how many pattern repeats there are and figure out how many you have to do each week to stay on task. If you’re doing 10 items - promise yourself you’ll get one done each week. If you have 80 motifs, better get at least one done each day and don’t forget you’ll need time for finishing. If you are knitting 1000 yards - make sure you complete 100 yards each week. It is important as we continue our journey to the TOP that you have a weekly goal for your Advanced Studies. It will make all the difference in the world later.
5) Have everything for your OWL finalized by the 30th, so that on the 1st you can post your OWL proposal for approval. Remember, this will give you the full term to work on your OWL.
6) Gather your Mission supplies/stories so that when they start accepting B.R.O.O.M.s later in January, you are ready to post.
7) Continue working on those WIPs so that you can finish one on the 1st and turn it into Detention - 10 points on day one! You are on your way to the top!

So what do you have left to do? Me I need to still take my pictures for my OWL proposal and get my WIP the First ready to go. I have decided to make propose a Mission and an OWL this term even though I have yet (going on 4th term) to complete both of them. I am getting closer and I think I am learning more about what I able to do.

Just a few more days to go. Lets take this all the way to the top.

ROAR for an Awesome term.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How I Prepare for a New Term: Watrpriestess

Hi there!  Welcome to another preping for term post. I have gained a lot of my ideas from others, particularly the Stairway to the Top! thread from the last break month. Personally, I like to block out an hour or two while I'm alone in the house and get as much done as possible at once. It makes it less likely for me to forget anything, but I know that much time is a luxury for many so break things up as they will fit into your schedule.

First, I address my queue. I like to keep it stocked with both long term and short term project goals. There are several important pieces to having a usable queue. I'll illustrate them using the first three projects in my queue.

These are the little green boxes at the bottom of each project entry. I use shortened version of the tab names. For example, the tag "hy" stands for "have yarn" and means that I do not need to purchase anything to make the project. You can see that my first and third project both have that tag, and are ready to go if a class prompt lends itself to these projects. The first project also has the tag "bte" which stands for "before term ends" and means I need to finish this project before the end of July.

You can see that my second entry, the Kureyon Shorty Socks have no tags at all. While getting ready for the coming term, I am going to add tags to indicate that I have the yarn ready and waiting, and that I would like to finish the pattern before the end of this term.

Tabs can be created and maintained by going to the organize tab in the top right of the queue. This will show you the tabs you already have and allow you to create new sets. These sets are organized with tags. Once you've created a set, you control what projects go into the tab by assigning each tab a group of tags. For me, I use one tag per tab for my Cup projects. The three important tabs are "before term ends", "have yarn", and "owl ideas". The tags associated with them are abbreviations "bte", "hy", and "oi" respectively. Once tagged with one of these abbreviations, the project will automatically show up in the tab.

I use the tabs during the term to pick projects once classes have been posted. I read through each class prompt, then go to my queue. I first browse the "before term ends" tab, as those projects are my top priorities. Once I've fitted as many of those projects as possible to the prompts, I move to the "have yarn" tab. Using that tab second means I can work from stash and don't have to go out and purchase anything. This was particularly helpful last term, since I participated in the Destash thread with a cold sheep vow for January-March.

I use the "owl ideas" tab each break month and at the beginning of the term to pick out large projects that fit well with a particular owl prompt. If I find something I want to make during the term that I know will take several months of knitting, I put it in my queue with the "oi". In a break month (or when I have extra free time), I match the project up with an OWL I haven't yet achieved. This makes it way easier to write up an OWL proposal.

The second thing I do to prepare for a new term is to go through my WIPs. There are a few projects that have fallen by the wayside over the past few months, and I switch each of them to 'hibernate' once I get tired of looking at them in my notebook. Right now, my hibernating projects look like this:

That's 17 projects! That's too many things to have just laying about waiting to be finished. So, I pick three that I think I can finish during the break month. This time, it's the Holiday Cakewalk Socks, the Arches Sock, and the 5 in 1 Adventure mittens. I work on them until the only thing left is to weave in their ends, then save them for detention on the 1st of each month for the coming term.

Then I assess the rest. The OWL is one I withdrew from and reproposed, so I'm going to put it back into my queue. I know I want to frog the Crocodile Stitch Slippers, Gliders, Saroyan, and Afternoon Tea. So I put them in the froggy pond and remove them from my list. That cuts the hibernating projects down to 9, most of which long term blankets I work on when the mood hits.

I also write my OWL proposal some time during break month, and get feedback from the Advanced Studies thread. This means that my post is written and formatted, so I can just copy and paste it into the OWL proposal thread once it opens up without fear of having anything missing.

Finally, I like to clean up my crafting area. I put all needles into their proper storage place. I put away any stray balls of yarn that need to go back into the stash bins. I tidy up my knitting book and magazine shelf. If I know there's any big problems with my stash entries on Ravelry, I fix their yardages by entering it on the proper project page. I ship out any blanket squares I made for the Gryff baby blanket thread, or that I've made for charity. Starting with a clean and organized crafting area makes the beginning of each term smoother.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How I prepare for a New Term: KMNash

Prepping for term for me starts with trying to get an idea of what projects I might want to do, either for an OWL or Mission or even just small stuff that I might need to do through the months for birthdays or charity work that I can fit into classes.

I start with looking through my queue and seeing what inspires me, any projects I added last term that I am just not absolutely thrilled at the idea of doing I usually remove from the list and reorder things usually adding my OWL or Mission to the top of the queue.

Once I have decided on my OWL I do a rough draft write up and try to get my pictures as soon as I can, usually making a "project" page for all of it so it is in a easy to get to place to be ready to propose my OWL as soon as the thread opens.

I do a lot of squares for charity, most of which are mailed off at the end of each month for one project or another that I do with a group called Charity Crochet Exchange. For my projects like charity squares I usually just keep a list of colors needed for each project and pull the yarn out as it is needed for each charity project deadline, I have a favorite crochet hook (A lighted plastic hook, I don't use the light much but the weight and handle are awesome for my wrist) and a pair scissors in a special bag that even has the group logo on it that I use for all my squares projects for that group. I change out colors as each project changes.

I am working on some squares in sunset colors, so I have yellows and golds and deep reds in the bag right now.

Bags are really my secret weapon for staying organized when I have a ton of project in the works (as I usually do).

I usually start with an idea of some colors I want to use together, or a pattern I like that uses x amount of colors and build a bag with that pattern or colors in mind. If I know I want to make something in colors but don't have a pattern yet I bag the skeins together in a large ziplock bag. Like these are.

That ziplock has 4 skeins in it, and there is another just like it. Four shades of purple that I plan to use for a project for my best friend, I know it will be in purple as that is her favorite color, and I think it will be a blanket, I have just not decided on the pattern yet. Once I decide on a pattern it will go into a tote bag with the pattern and hook or needles needed for it.

Most of the time I use tote bags for my projects, and my favorite tote bags are the reusable grocery bags you can buy at stores, usually they are cheap ($1-$2) and they are big enough for a few skeins of yarn light enough to easily carry plus reusable of course. Once I have a plan or pattern, and colors and hook they all go into a bag together with a pair of scissors so that everything I need to work on whatever project is all in one place and when I have time I grab the bag and go to it. Which is nice if you have to pick something fast to go out the door with or have only 15-20 min to work on something around other life stuff.

That bag there (a reusable tote from Walmart) has the yarn for two different blankets, both of them will be made in the Drop in the Pond pattern. I will more then likely divide the colors up into separate bags for easier travel before I start, but for now they are together because they are going to be the same pattern so I can keep track of the project ideas. Once they go into bags they will get hook and scissors just like the other bags.

Some projects just do not loan themselves to travel or even really mobility around the house. I am planning to work on a 7 color Never Ending Granny Square blanket, and if you know the pattern you know that means I don't technically need scissors for that one as all 7 strands stay attached all the time.

For a project like that a bag will not work, you need something that will not allow the skeins to flop around, so I have pulled out an old box I use for projects like this. (It is an old coffee pot box that was cut to fit a zipper bag that a twin comforter came in, then covered in cloth to keep my yarn from snagging.)  It is able to be picked up as I need but hopefully will stay pretty much in the same location to prevent any more yarn tangles then are already possible with a pattern like this. All the skeins have been added with the "draw" string up so hopefully we can keep the tangles to a minimum. Shouldn't need scissors but I include a set just in case I have a yarn snag or something unexpected, and another of my lighted hooks since this one will be a heavy projects( I have 3 or 4 lighted hooks now... I love them)

I also have my small couch boxes. I have 3, but my medium size one gets the most use as it is just the right size for a few small scrap balls and a hook and scissors for smaller projects like hexi puffs or my up coming OWL of baby booties.

I can sit it in my lap easily or next to me if the cat has my lap and get to everything I need for a little quick crochet without worrying to much (Cant say I don't worry at all, I do have a cat after all.) about my scrap balls going anywhere.

I have a bag of yarn, with all the hooks and such in it handy in every room of my house (ok not the bathroom but you get my meaning). For me being able to easily get to everything I need for a project, be it hooks or yarn or stitch markers whatever, without having to go look for things means I can just sit and work as my time allows. If I have to go look for something I am cutting into the time I could be crafting and I will usually drop the project in favor of another that has everything I need at hand.

I used to keep each pattern printed out with the bags, but I have lost more then a few paper patterns and as I get older I find myself having trouble reading smaller print, so now my patterns stay on my tablet where I know I will be able to find them as my tablet goes with me everywhere, and I can up the font size when my eyes are bothering me.

I have a pretty good idea of my plans for this coming term. I know my OWL, and what I want to use for a Mission if I can and I am very close to ready right now. I still need to take my OWL pictures and get together another set of colors I want to use for another project idea, but for the most part it is all coming together for me.

I don't know if my ideas on prepping for term, or organizing my projects will help but I hope you at least enjoyed the read.

Here's to an AWESOME term.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How I Prepare for a New Term: mommyofrhyse

Welcome to a new blog mini-series! We're writing about how to prepare for a new term and today we welcome a guest writer. This is how mommyofrhyse gets ready for a new term during the break month.

Well first thing I figure out is what I want/need to make and have a small list. This includes deciding if I want to do an advanced studies project and which one. I only do 1 advanced studies project because for me I find that it makes the term too crazy with a OWL & Order of the Phoenix mission. So for example this term I am planning an OWL and multiple smaller projects that can fit in classes and quidditch. 
One of the things I need to make this term is another strip for my boys blanket (that is 9 blanket squares). I also have an on going blanket for myself with hexipuffs that I want to work on as well. With 9 blanket squares I have at least 3 classes each month, everything else is gravy. So my term plot list looks like this: 
DADA OWL - Dr. Who Scarf
9 blanket squares - fit into classes/quidditch
Hexipuffs - fit into classes 
After I figure out what I am going to be making I find my yarn (either dig it out of the bin or purchase it). I make a project page for my OWL, swatch, & get pictures. I make sure I have my patterns that I need accessible either in paper or on my Kindle. By that time I am half way through break month and just chill and wait and plot for the next term (I’m a long range plotter).

Maybe you can apply some of her methods to your preparations. We'll be be back with more on how to prepare for a new term soon!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sorting Time!

Sorting has started!

Please make your way to the sorting signup thread. The first post is a wonderful song, and the second post has links to the sign up sheets! The third post has FAQ in case you have any questions. If they're not answered there, post your question to the thread.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stairway to the Top

Last couple break months  our awesome Head of House AmyPC has had a thread to help us all get organized and ready to go ROARing into the next term. I was organizing my yarn and tools, from moving and I found that I own 5 SETS of 5 size 3 DPNs. That is 25 size 3 DPNs. I have no idea why I have so many and I don't remember buying that many.
Well all the organization and plans got me thinking back to that awesome thread, and how far it took us a couple terms ago. Our first term with The Stairway to the Top we made it to the Top of Quidditch and the Cup, bringing both cups to the Seventh Floor mantle.

We are bit past the beginning of the month, but I figure that it is never to late to ramp it out and get ready to ROAR for another term. So I have posted the advice from our great Head of House for week one and two we will focus on these two together this week, then come back for week 3 and 4.

Here's to an awesome term. Lets get the mantle dusted and bring those cups back home.

What can we do this week to prepare for our journey to the TOP? Let’s take the first step.

Break Month Week 1
Rest your fingers and wrists this week! Take a break from the needles and hooks and consider your plans for next term.
What do you need to make over the next 4 months? Browse the Ravelry pattern database for inspiration. Check out the completed NEWT, OWL, and Order Mission threads for ideas. Go through your pins - are there items there you want to make before Spring?
Do you need to streamline your queue for the upcoming term? Purge out those items that have been sitting there that you know you’ll never make or have already made. The first items in your queue should be those things you want to make between now and April. These should be items that you already have yarn for in your stash. Everything else should be moved to your favorites list or moved to the end of the queue for considering in the spring.
Just like your project pages and favorites you can add tabs to your queue to help prioritize. Tag some of your larger queued items for the potential of becoming your advanced studies. (Remember P.A.P. Propose Achievable Projects!) Patterns you can complete in a month can be used for classes when the prompt fits.
If you keep your queue organized in this fashion, when classes are posted on May 1st you will be able to scan the first page of your queue to easily choose projects that fit the class prompts. This also keeps you from making things just to fit a class. Keep in mind, a partial class will still ensure your sorting priority.
If you’d rather not use your Ravelry queue in this manner, no problem. Grab a notebook and a pencil and make your list!

Break Month Week 2
Most of us are guilty of having a few too many WIPs laying about. Take this week to analyze them, and decide if they need to visit the frog pond or be finished. If you can finish a few smallish items, do it! Get them off your plate. But also get a few WIPs almost done so that you are ready to WIP the First each month of term.
No WIPs? Honestly? Does not compute! But if you really don’t have WIPs you can allow yourself to start 2-3 items that can be finished up during the term for Detention! No sense depriving ourselves of our favorite pasttime!
Also this week try to take care of other projects that may distract you from your crafting later. Use this time, during the break month to think ahead and prepare. What can you do NOW around the house or at work to make things easier over the next few months? Maybe you need to finish up a big decluttering project that you started last break month. Maybe you want to paint your child’s bedroom before their spring birthday. Maybe the pet(s) are due for vet appointments. Of course, we’re all busy with the holidays this month so that may be what we need to focus on first and foremost!
By tackling a few necessary to-do’s this month you can enjoy guilt free crafting once term starts. What will you do this week to make the next 3 months smooth sailing and quick stepping through the castle?

I have been organizing the physical stuff like yarn boxes and such, but now I going to jump into my queue and get things ready to go then maybe finish frogging a few old projects and seeing about a WIP or two... how about you?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

NEWTs Winter 2014

This term, Gryffindor has had 5 students complete the most difficult of House Cup projects, a NEWT. Taking 4 months instead of 3, they completed the equivalent of 2 OWLs. That's one impressive feat!

First up is abitknottie, who proposed knitting an adult sized sweater and 5 pairs of socks for her first NEWT. The sweater is meant to study the muggle Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and was the inspiration for the sock choices. The socks honor Joan of Arc, Amelia Earheart, Anne Bonny, Marie Curie, and Sally Ride. From my own Muggle Studies, I know these women are all strong role models who are well worth honoring.

 Next is our fearless Head of House, AmyPC! She took on an Arithmancy/Transfiguration NEWT, and I think her proposal sounds lovely. Here's a little quote from it:

This NEWT is all about Celebrations. Celebrating Christmas with meaningful decorations and gifts. Celebrating my husband on Father’s Day. And celebrating new life with a teacher that has been a blessing to our family.
A touching sentiment that has been met and maybe even surpassed with her projects, a baby blanket, an afghan, and 12 Christmas ornaments.

f1bercat finished a Transfiguration/DADA NEWT with 4 shawls and 1 lace cowl. The cowl is actually something she designed based on one of the stitch patterns from the white Advent Calendar Scarf also included in this NEWT.

Jensta79 worked on an Arithmancy/DADA NEWT this term, knitting two sweaters (to blend in with muggles), fingerless mittens(to keep her wand arm warm and ready to go), and a pair of socks(to creep past enemies). Everything turned out so well, I can't imagine the projects won't do exactly what they were intended to!

The final celebrated NEWT student is kmroberton, who spun a total of 26 oz of fiber into yarns representing the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Since she'd already studied the great Harry Potter in an OWL, she covered the rest of the team. Oliver Wood was represented by a single ply tussah silk yarn. Katie Bell is represented by a 2 ply, and Alicia Spinnet a 3 ply. Angelina Johnson's skein was Navajo plied from a lovely Polwarth/Silk blend. Finally, Fred and George are represented by a 4 ply skein and a 2x2 cable yarn from the same colors. You can really see the difference plying made!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Completed OWLs part 6

This is another batch of OWLs that do not fit into one category but were turned in after the early posts here were drafted.

Aliceindilbrtlnd finished off two lovely blankets as part of her successful detention owl. 

Scrapgirltc also did a detention owl, managing to use up over 3400 yards of yarn while finishing off this lovely hat, scarf and blanket.  

Somethingwithtail achieved her Divination OWL and her personal dream of making something spectacular for her niece and nephew.  

MaryB1983 showed her skill in Care of Magical Creatures by crafting a fabulous zoo. 

Idoicaniam successfully hatched a beautiful Phoenix egg, gaining her a COMC OWL as well. 

Pinkleo vanished 2895 yards of yarn to achieve this lovely blanket and her Transfiguration OWL. 

Fuzziekit showed brilliant skill with cables en route to this Herbology OWL. 

Womblingstar demonstrated her superior Charms wandwork by not only knitting this lovely top but designing it as well. 

Lsgarner also achieved her Herbology OWL, with this cabled sweater. 

DorothyJean made a phenomenal number of fingerless mitts this year:  25 pairs for her DADA OWL,  14 pairs for her Mission and 1 for Quidditch! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Completed OWLs Part 5

This batch of OWLs aren't in one category, they were just all turned in on the last day after I wrote the other posts. There's nothing wrong with this, in fact I turned my own OWL in on the last day, but it meant I needed a wee bit more time before I could highlight them. So, without further ado, the last group of Gryffindor's great Winter 2014 OWLs!

First up is dobarah, who worked on a DADA OWL. She turned in quite a few things for this, including a vest, circular shawl, hat, scarf, and a pair of socks! Plus, I think this cool collage for the turn in should be counted too.

Next is guenevol who knit a Dr. Who themed shawl for an Ancient Runes OWL. It turned out excellent, I wouldn't know it was the first fingering weight shawl if I hadn't read the proposal!

knightsknitting worked in Detention this term, finishing a pair of thigh high socks originally started in December of 2012! That is quite the dedication to a pair of socks that are a gift.

LateClematis worked on an Arithmancy OWL, knitting 13 colorwork Christmas ornaments. Impressively, two of them were even designed for the OWL!

LindseyLuz finished a DADA OWL with a Color Affection shawl. I love the colors, light grey, dark grey, and purple. It will definitely keep someone warm while also looking stylish.

lupingirl defeated a Potions OWL with this gorgeous colorful crocheted blanket. She loved it so much, she even made it bigger than her proposal called for. That's what I call dedication and love for a project.

Mamaloftin conquered a History of Magic OWL, though there was a little difficulty at first. Her first sock, intended to represent Molly Weasley, turned out way too big even after swatching, so she switched to a different pattern and made a pair of socks for her sister. She also made a pair of fingerless mitts and another pair of socks, representing Professor McGonagall and Hermione Granger.

Finally, ValkyrieLHWB finished an Arithmancy OWL by spinning 1.5 pounds of fiber into some lovely yarns via fractal spinning. I don't know much about spinning, but I can say the way the colors combine in these is fantastic.