It's been a while

2012-02-09 03:16:23 +0000

It's been a really long couple of weeks. I suppose that doesn't really excuse my blog neglect, though at this point I suspect it's probably chronic and I really should just learn to embrace it. Work has been kind of stressful, and for some reason my social life has, well, become something that could actually be called a "social life" without severely distorting the definition. As a result, I've been tired, cranky, and have done almost no knitting.

I finally ended up with some amount of downtime this weekend, mostly because I took my vacuum cleaner in for repairs and it hasn't come back to me yet so I wasn't able to do nearly as much cleaning as usual. (on a related note, I'm fairly horrified at the sheer amount of cat hair that's accumulated. I'm certain that I'm going to have a carpet instead of hardwood floors by the time my vacuum finally comes home.) So I wound up taking it pretty easy on Saturday, spending the afternoon watching movies and knitting in between folding loads of laundry. And what have I been up to knit-wise?

Not a whole heck of a lot, truthfully. I worked about five more inches on Katie's bootsocks and am nearly ready to begin the toe decreases. I'll be glad to get these off the needles for good, but now I'm at the point where I'm counting rows to make sure I end up with two socks of the same length, and then I knit for a while and lose track of how many more rounds I've added so I have to stop and count again. The whole tedious mess could, of course, be totally avoided if I would just use a stitch marker. But for some reason getting up to look for a marker seems like "too much work" and so I haven't.

I worked another round or two on Sarah's Belated Birthday Socks, but since those come with a fiddly lace chart I find it difficult to work on it with anything on the tv. And since that's where I get most of my crafting done, I think this might have quite a bit to do with why SBBS are taking so !#@$% long. I thought of casting on for another pair of quick worsted socks, with that pretty blue Cascade 220 Superwash I bought on my latest yarn binge. But frankly the idea of ANOTHER pair of socks made me want to take a set of DPNs to my eyeballs.

So I cast on for a hat.

Yeah, I know, doesn't look like much of a hat. It's got kind of a weird construction that I find both attractive and interesting. The brim is knit in one long strip, then joined and bound off. Next, stitches are picked up along one edge and the crown is knit from there. The pattern is from Classic Elite 100 Quick and Easy Patterns. I was fairly "meh" on most of the patterns in this book, but this Quincy Hat was one of the few patterns that leapt out at me. The unusual construction, the allure of a blessedly mindless swath of garter stitch, the tidy icord edging that's cunningly knit as you go--

What, you don't see the icord edging?

Clever you! Me, it took another ten inches to figure that one out... My complete and utter lack of reading comprehension strikes again. So I frogged down to the cast-on and set about it again. I've now got about three inches. Luckily, it's a bulky yarn knit on accordingly bulky needles so it does go along quickly (as the title of the book would lead one to believe all of the projects contained in a book titled Classic Elite Quick Knits would be. Projects in sock weight yarn, faire isle, complex cabling? I don't know about the editors of this book, but those sorts of projects aren't exactly "quick" for me. I know I'm a slow knitter, but a book advertising quick projects would lead me to believe that the patterns it contains are of the sort I could manage to knock out in a couple of evenings. And to be fair, some of them do fit that description (such as the Quincy Hat I'm working on now) but even at my best, I think the large faire isle bag on the cover, for example, would still take me over a week to complete. All in all, this is one book I'm glad I borrowed from my local library rather than bought and added to my personal collection.

On the topic of knitting books, at the same time that I checked out Classic Elite Quick Knits, I also borrowed Vintage Modern Knits. I like to check out books from the library before commiting to buying them; it's nice to be able to take my time browsing through them and seeing for myself how the patterns are laid out before deciding whether or not to plunk down money for them. Books with only one or two patterns I like get sent back to the library with the mental note made to recheck them out when I finally get around to wanting to make whatever pattern I like. Books with half or more patterns I would like to make get put onto my wishlist and eventually purchased. Vintage Modern Knits is one book that went straight onto my wishlist. I'm in love with so many of the patterns published in there, though it's going to be quite a while before I make any of them. The recommended yarns are all from The Fibre Company, and as I haven't yet won the lottery or found a tree that money really does grow on...

My LYS, Natural Stitches, has a sample sweater knit up in Road to China Light, a beautiful sport weight yarn that is 65% Baby Alpaca/10% Cashmere/10% Camel/15% Silk. It feels like a dream. And at $15.50 for a 50 gram skein, knitting with it is going to remain a dream. There is a beautiful sweater pattern in that book that calls for this very yarn in the worsted weight, which is close to the same price. It's the Rhodes Point Gansey, and I would knit it exactly as is, aside from making it a touch longer -- I like my sweaters to hit about where her purple shirt ends. The smallest size requires 15 50g skeins to complete. There is absolutely no way I'm going to spend $230 on a sweater. I don't own a single item of clothing that cost that much. Even my freaking wedding dress, including alterations, was less expensive.

In the meantime, a girl can dream, can't she?

Busybusybusy

2012-01-31 03:42:53 +0000

Life has continued to be crazy. Last we left off, I was relaxing on my day off by catching up on lots of cooking and housework, and settling in for a big winter storm. Well, the winter storm didn't turn out to be nearly as bad as predicted. We were supposed to get freezing rain and ice through 2 PM the following day, but the morning dawned clear and sunny and the roads were totally cleared by the time we ventured out. I worked this weekend, and spent every night hanging out with friends. The result? Not a lot of knitting.

I did, however, manage to finish Nani's socks. Love how they turned out, and can't wait to send them off. Still need to weave in the ends, but after that, off they go.

I'm also nearly done with Katie's bootsocks. I'm in the gusset decreases of the second one, and I'm hoping to have it done this week. Have also worked a few more rounds on Sarah's Belated Birthday Socks.

I really need to knit something other than socks. Maybe a nice hat, just to take the edge off...

I've been "relaxing"

2012-01-20 21:21:26 +0000

It's been a while since I've posted, and I apologize for that. I've been pretty busy lately, which is funny because I've actually had quite a bit of time off... I had a three day weekend last weekend, which was nice, and then I'm using my floating holiday for New Year's today for another three day weekend. And what have I been doing with all this time off?

I've been "relaxing."

Even though I've started both of my days off with every intention of being a lazy, lazy girl, that hasn't actually happened. It turns out that I've been very productive instead -- and it's funny because I feel as calm and unwound as if I had spent the day lolling about. I've gotten a ton of laundry done, I've made lots of soup and tomato sauce with meatballs, most of which went into the freezer for easy weekday meals. I've been serving up home cooked meals every night (that's one New Year's Resolution I'm getting ahead of!). I've been organizing all the things -- the yarn room got a big clean-out and reorganization, as did all my knitting patterns.

My mom made me this really great binder to store my patterns in, since I print out/photocopy the pattern for anything I make so I don't have to lug a book around with me. So I had this big pile of charts and instructions all jumbled together in a folder, and on Monday I finally got around to sorting it out and getting it squared away. The binder came to me with tons of dividers, those clear plastic sleeves to put the pages in, and this indescribably awesome bit of cross-stitching slipped into the front. I love it.

So now all of my patterns are organized away which will make my life much less stressful the next time I need to go searching for a chart.

While there hasn't been a whole lot of knitting lately, there has been some, which I might as well write about.

Katie tried on the first of her bootsocks, and announced that it fit well, so I've got the second one started. Not too far along, but I haven't worked on it much except for a little on Saturday night during the last D&D session. The mindlessness of the 3x1 ribbing is great for play.

I've also started on the pair of socks for Nani. I am absolutely loving how the green and white look together. It's so charming that I am tempted (sorely tempted) to finish them up and keep them for myself. But I know how much she will love them, so that's what will get me to package them up and ship them off to their new home.

This was also my first go at a short-row heel. I'm still undecided whether or not I like it more than my usual heel flap/turn. The short row heel is a little roomier, but it did require less counting (though I still managed to botch my first attempt at it since I insisted on wrapping and turning stitches that I'd already wrapped and turned, but only on the purl side so of course it came out wonky and lopsided...) I think it looks nicer for two-colored socks like this, but it doesn't seem as sturdy as a heel flap does. So, I don't know. I'll probably end up only using it for socks with two colors or socks with stripes that I don't want to interrupt the striping for, which is to say not too terribly often.

Still, it was nice to learn something new.

And since no post is complete without the obligatory picture of BastardCat and he didn't indulge me by inserting himself into any shots, here we go.

He spent a good chunk of the afternoon parked there (on top of the paper shredder (which, yes, is safe and unplugged) which confuses me because there's a small stool right next to him.) There are big black birds (crows? ravens?) hanging out in a tree by the neighbor's back yard, and he's glued to them. It's funny because whenever they fly up, he flinches and hunkers down beneath the window sill, and if they stay put for a while he gradually stretches up to get a better view.

It's been a lovely day outside, which I only say because I've spent the day indoors. Though it was in the high teens/low twenties and there is a good coating of snow on everything, the sky was blue for most of the morning and early afternoon so I opened all the blinds and soaked up all of that wonderful sunshine that I could. Tonight another winter storm is supposed to move in that will dump out another 3-5 inches of snow over the next day and a half, and -- the part that worries me most -- a quarter of an inch of ice.

To battle this, I've got no plans to be anywhere except on my sofa with my knitting in hand and all of the ingredients to throw together a pot of potato leek soup. In case we lose power, something that happens on this street more than I'd like, I did a big load of laundry that included lots of warm blankets and we bought new batteries for the flashlights. I don't think that I'll really need it, since the worst of the storm isn't going to be moving in until late tonight when it will be just about bedtime anyhow, but I'd rather be over-prepared and feeling a bit sheepish that be underprepared and very very sad.

But for now it's overcast but nothing's coming down yet, and I've got a cheerful green sock that's in need of an inch more foot and a cute white toe. Jason will be home soon, and then there will be hot soup and probably a movie to watch and lots of knitting to get done. And our house will be cozy and warm with snuggly cats lurking around while the weather outside worsens. I think it's going to be very relaxing.

The real sort of relaxing.

What I've been up to...

2012-01-11 04:05:06 +0000

Even though there has not been that much posting, there has been a decent amount of knitting...

I've finished the first of Katie's Bootsocks:

It's a pretty quick and easy knit -- just basic cuff-down socks with 3x1 ribbing on the leg and instep. I'm knitting with the yarn held double, and it makes a lovely thick fabric that feels like it'll be very sturdy and warm. Still need to kitchener the toe closed and cast on for the second sock, but I want her to try it on first so I can be sure the length is right, so I've set this aside for now.

I've also done another dozen or so rows on my Boneyard Shawl.

As you can see, I spoke far too soon about the lack of pooling. Pretty much as soon as I made that comment it started doing nothing but pool. Splotchy pooling everywhere. But, as I also commented, I'm pretty live and let live about colors doing their thing, so I'm just leaving it. It's for me, anyhow, so I'm able to be way less neurotic about it.

I've also resurrected my Lichen sweater. I've added another five or six inches to the sleeve, but this is so hard to keep my motivation up on. I've ripped and reknit on this thing so much that I've probably done at least three sweater's worth of knitting on this sucker, and it's still missing sleeves.

But it's sooo close, and I think I've finally got it down. Just needs that last push to the finish line. And hey, the yarn has held up really well to repeated frogging, so there's that...

I really do like this sweater, and I want to have it finished before it gets to be too warm to wear it. It does go pretty fast, assuming that I've finally got the sleeves fitting properly. We'll see about that.

And as if I haven't got quite enough on my plate yet, I'm also about to cast on for Nani's socks. I just have to swatch (read: cast on 10 stitches, knit for a few rows, then spend five minutes hunched over it with a ruler while desperately trying to get the stockinette to uncurl just long enough for me to measure) for it first and then do the maths to figure out how many stitches to cast on, and even then it'll probably still be wrong and I'll have to rip it out and start over because I always have to rip it out and start over even though I checked and double-checked my numbers, and anyhow I'm just not feeling up to it right at this very second.

So instead I'm blogging. Yep. Productive, that's me.

Another New Year

2012-01-01 20:07:59 +0000

And here we are, at the start of a brand new year. So far I slept in until noon and am still in my pajamas, so 2012 is off to a pretty good, albeit lazy, start. I've got a mug of tea sitting beside me, and a stack of knitting that's calling my name. Tomorrow I go back to my regular work schedule and life goes on, but today I'm just going to relax and enjoy my day off.

To me, the best part of January 1st is taking the time to reflect on the year that passed before, and to dream about what's to come in the year we've just stepped into. Not a lot happened to me in 2011 -- I continued at my job, I continued with my house, no new pets joined our family, Jason and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary, and life went on. No big gains, no big losses. And, especially after all the craziness and change that 2010 brought, I find that I'm okay with that. There's a lot to be said for calm.

As always, I took the time to add up my end-of-the-year knitting stats. And the grand total is 21 projects for a sum of 6,550 yards. (for the record, the total projects counts all of the knitted veggies as a single project instead of individually which would put me up to 27) That fell shy of the totals from the previous year; 2010 saw 34 projects for a total of 7,880 yards. My best year for yardage remains 2008, with 9,979 yards.

Not great, but not awful. Pretty much in keeping with the rest of the year.

My favorite project of 2011 was easily Epic Wedding Shawl. While EWS definitely contributed to my lower project count and lower yardage total, because I spent over three months with it, I can honestly say that it's one of the few projects (especially large projects) I've made where I've reached the end of it and looked back to realize that I loved [almost] every stitch of it. It was one of the few projects, ever, that I've come to the end of and not felt a sweeping swell of relief that it's finally over, but rather an odd mingling of pride and loss at its completion.

I'm proud of it, of its thousands and thousands of stitches, of the hours and hours spent working on it, and of the simple beautiful fact that with just some balls of string and two sticks and my own two hands, I was able to create something physical that holds all of the love and affection I feel for my cousin, and that she carried it with her on one of the biggest days of her life.

Though overall 2011 was middling, that one event does stand out to me.

 

As far as my Resolutions went, I didn't do too bad.

This year, my resolutions aren't all that different. Mostly it's a lot of keep on keepin' on. I want to keep reading, keep up with housework, etc etc. I do have some goals that are more specific, though.

  1. I want to cook more at home. Though I feel like overall I've started eating better than I did before, I also feel like we're still getting dinner out more often than I would like.  I need to track down a bunch more "one pot" recipes that freeze well, because I did some of those late in this year and it worked out well, especially on nights where I had a bad day or wasn't feeling well. Where before I would have just grabbed take-out, I just stuck my arm in the freezer and heated up something I'd already made. So, more of that. (Any easy/quick/healthy meal suggestions that make good leftovers would be appreciated!)
  2. More with the exercise. I need to find something I can do for the half of the year that the weather is 20 degrees and crappy. I'm reluctant to join a gym, so I'm still working out the details on this one.
  3. Practice the piano for at least 20 minutes per day. That's a short enough length of time that I can just sit down and bang through with little effort, but for some reason I don't. It's usually 6:30 by the time I get home and then I'm dealing with dinner and unwinding, and then before I know it, it's suddenly too late to play because I have elderly neighbors on that side who go to bed early. I need to come home, play for 20 minutes, and then deal with everything else. Heck, playing would probably help me unwind after my work day, so I'd kill two bird with one stone.
  4. And it just wouldn't be my New Year's Resolutions list if I didn't include something about The Stash. I was actually just talking about this with Jason earlier, and he'd pointed out (in that very practical way of his) that it's kind of silly that every year I put all sorts of restrictions on my yarn buying and then break them and feel guilty for breaking them, when there are two ways to approach the issue of shrinking The Stash; either buy less, or knit more. I don't know why this didn't occur to me earlier. Therefore, this year I resolve to knit more. There, done!
  5. That said, I am also resolving to work from The Stash and only The Stash for January and February. I have enough projects lined up right now that this should be a fairly simple matter.

I'm also adding a new section: Goals! These are things that I don't necessarily feel that I need to change, but things that I would like to accomplish anyhow.

Not all that different from years past, but totally doable. I think I'm finally getting the hang of setting realistic and attainable resolutions for myself, so I'm optimistic

2012, I think this is going to be a good year. I've got a good feeling about you, and my hopes are high for the both of us. Let's see where these upcoming months take us!

Christmas Catch-Up

2011-12-31 16:08:05 +0000

Here we go. First off is my Secret Knitting Project #9, that double-knitting disaster I've been whining about on and off since the start of the month.

A set of Star Trek themed potholders for a friend of mine who seemed to like them just as much as I suspected he would (since he's the one who linked me to the pattern in the first place...)

I'm very pleased with how they turned out, and all of the ripping out of stitches and muttered swear words and failed attempts at learning this #$%$#&%! technique are totally worth it. I especially love how squooshy and thick they turned out, and am very tempted to make another set of them for myself with a different picture. I'm doing my best to let that urge pass quietly, because I strongly suspect that doing it again so soon would be the path to madness.

I also finished all three dishcloths I was trying to get done before leaving Florida. Sadly, I didn't remember to take any pictures of them completed, nor did I remember to take a picture of Mom's Tiger Triangle. So, no photos there.

In need of something blessedly simple and mindless, I cast on for a Boneyard Shawl for the flight home. Here's where I was at the start of the flight:

And here's where I was when we landed:

The yarn is Aisling Yarns sockweight, and it's playing a lot nicer with the pattern than I expected it would. (aside from the two longish splotches near the top...) It came in a hank, and when I untwisted it to wind it up, I saw that it had been dyed in very even quarters, with 1 and 3 being green and 2 and 4 being brown. I thought there would be tons of horrible pooling, but since I'm pretty live-and-let-live when it comes to colors doing odd things, I cast on anyhow, and was pleasantly surprised to see that for the most part the colors seem to be spreading themselves out nicely. We'll see if it continues behaving this well.

Yesterday I spent settling back into everyday life. Got caught up on laundry and housework, reassured my idiot cats that yes we really did come back and no we didn't really abandon them, and enjoyed my last day off from work for the holidays. A big part of that enjoying came from heading over to Natural Stitches, my LYS, and spending Christmas money on yarn.

First up is what I actually went in there to buy. One skein of Madeline Tosh Sock in the colorway Lapis, then two skeins of Cascade Heritage in white and black.

I think that's a pretty good TARDIS blue, yeah?

Next up is sale yarns. The green is Cascade 220 in Palm, and the blue is Cascade 220 Superwash Handpaints in Hawaiian Nights.

And lastly is something I didn't really intend to buy, but once I touched it, well, it was all over. I've been drooling over Paigewoods Farms Alyeska for a while now (about 2 years or so?) and, I don't know what happened, the 20% cashmere content overwhelmed me, and the colors, Duke, the colors. This green just screams "SPRINGTIME!!" at me, and I looked outside at the cloudy skies and thought that this lovely dose of color will be just what I need at the beginning of February when I am starting to go a little mad and half-convinced I will never see the sun again. I will pull out this yarn and knit it up, and the color will remind me that spring is just around the corner. I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet, but it will probably be a scarf or shawlette... something I can wear close to my face because mmmm cashmere....

Then I spent a very enjoyable hour winding little yarncakes.

You'll see two skeins of Knitpicks Stroll in Lullaby on the left, for Katie's bootsocks. The green and white in the center is Cascade 220 for another pair of socks for my grandmother (green with white cuffs and heels and toees -- I think it will be charming.) And on the right is the Cascade 220 Superwash, for another pair of quick socks, and lastly the Dream in Color Knitosophy in Blossom that I bought for myself way back when as bribe yarn for Christmas knitting.

This will be enough to see me through January, and probably part of February as well, depending how many other projects I throw in there as well. I've also got Sarah's Belated Birthday Socks that I'm still working on as well, and the Boneyard Shawl I started too. Plenty to keep me occupied.

It's funny, I always think that once I get through the stress of Christmas Knitting, I'll want nothing more than a break from the needles. It seems that the opposite always happens, and I'm left wanting to knit more.

...and it's over

2011-12-26 20:37:34 +0000

Well, almost. I have a couple of dishcloths that I'm finishing up for Nani and Mom, and Sarah's (Extremely) Belated Birthday Socks are still pretty much where they were before -- I did a few rounds on the plane down here but overall they're untouched.

Sarah's Jayne hat came out very well, though. I had not bothered to read the decrease instructions on the pattern and decreased the way I normally did, alternating decrease rounds with plain knit rounds, and couldn't figure out why the crown of the hat kept coming out too deep. Turns out the pattern instructions say to decrease every round, and once I got that figured out the rest of it came along nicely. She seemed to like it, and since she's off to the cold and frozen North this week, hopefully she'll get some use out of it.

Jason's mitts also came out very well (previously known as Secret Christmas Knitting Project #5. He really seems to enjoy them, and he'll get plenty of use out of them once we get back home to Pittsburgh.

And then he made the happy discovery that he can keep his hands warm and type at the same time! Very useful for when we're at home in our drafty house....

I ended up with plenty of yarn left over. I might be able to squeeze out a second pair. I'll weigh the remains of the skein when I get home to see just how much I have left over.

Secret Knitting Project #9 is completed and photographed, but has not yet been given, so that will be posted sometime later.

Mom's Tiger Triangle has been re-bound off, but now needs another blocking. Will probably take care of that tomorrow. Other than that I'm just knitting away on dishcloths, which is quick and mindless and a good way to unwind from the rush and stress of Christmas knitting. Will easily have those finished before I leave Florida.

And then I'll be free to knit whatever I want! I'm already planning out my next projects... Sarah's Birhtday Socks are definitely up there, as well as Katie's Boot Socks. But I'll also need bigger projects for when I'm at home. For Christmas I received the book Brave New Knits, which has been on my wish list for a while. I added it when I fell in love with the Origami Shrug by Melissa Wehrle.

And there are so many other patterns in here that I love! This is a really great book, with lovely glossy photos and 2-3 page introductions for each of the designers. I've decided that I'm definitely going to make a sweater from this book as one of my next projects, but haven't decided which yet. That's for the best, as most of these patterns are more "springlike" and I should be knitting something a bit warmer since we're just starting into the depths of winter in Pittsburgh and I won't be wearing short sleeves until at least May. So while I get that figured out, I'll definitely be working on my Clara Vest since I've already got the yarn for that. I think it'll be nice to wear over a long-sleeved tee, and since the Knitpicks City Tweed I bought for it is a heavy worsted, it'll be plenty warm.

In the meantime, I'm just glad to be able to knit without stressing over deadlines.

Blaargh

2011-12-22 03:21:25 +0000

Made up a post about how awful my Christmas knitting is going. Blog ate my post. FML.

I'm still working on it. I'm not on the home stretch yet, but the home stretch is in sight. It has been a long and vicious battle every step of the way.

I finished the first half of Secret Knitting Project #9. Started the second half and about a third of the way through the chart stopped working. It took me longer than I care to admit to realize that the problem was happening because I cast on 31 stitches instead of 30. I finished the actual knitting of it at 12:30 this morning, and just sat down to add on the borders. Finished it, cut the yarn, wove in ends, and held it up to admire it before realizing that I used the wrong color of yarn because I was looking at the backside of the thing. Sigh.

I also finished Mom's tiger triangle, bound off, blocked, and then realized that the bind off it too tight. Need to do that over again and reblock.

Got the majority of Sarah's Jayne hat done before realizing I'd messed up the decreases and the crown is too deep. Need to rip back and reknit that and then finish.

Also need to finish Secret Knitting Project #5. I'm over halfway through, and out of everything this is the one I'm looking forward to knitting on. Though that could just be the Malabrigo Twist talking. If I could, I would knit everything out of Malabrigo Twist.

I have some dishcloths I need to finish up, but beyond that I'm calling it done. There's only so much I can do. I could have gotten more done, but it figures that as soon as I decide to quit procrastinating and just get down to it is when I start screwing up everything left and right.

I got as far as charting out a pattern for Secret Project #6, but am going to save that for next year. I will start working on it earlier. I swear I will.

I'm also setting aside projects 1-3. Even though they're relatively short, there's no telling what could go wrong or how long it would end up taking. So I'm saving those ideas for another occasion as well.

Whew. So. Nearly there, nearly there.

Reasons I fail at Christmas

2011-12-11 04:37:21 +0000

The biggest reason, of course, would be procrastination. Here we are, with just 14 days until Christmas, and most of my projects are still not done. That's not even including the other shopping I have to do to get ready. As usual, I've been putting off all the things I need to do, and now it's nearly the last minute and I'm starting to feel the first flutters of panic that I won't get everything done on time, which is totally stupid. It's not like the day Christmas happens is a surprise every year. It's not like I didn't know this was coming. In fact, I started planning for this weeks and weeks ago. And then I proceeded to procrastinate. I've got plenty of time, thought I, Surely it won't matter if I don't work on Christmas things tonight...

And now here we are. Okay, it's time to get serious about this. I haven't yet reached the point where anything is impossible. I've still got plenty of time.

The other reason I fail at Christmas is because when I do actually finish something, I face the unendurable temptation to give it away early. Two gifts have already gone out to their recipients. One, though, I had a very good reason for and had planned to send off early all along. I knit my brother-in-law's girlfriend a set of veggie themed Christmas ornaments. She received them today and seems to really like them. I'm pleased with how they turned out as well. I don't usually like knitting things that are small and fiddly like that, but every time I finished one and stuffed it and then held it up completed, I was so completely and utterly charmed by how cute and little it is, I got almost giddy and then went around exclaiming to everyone around me (read: Jason, who was very patient and supportive throughout my tiny-veggie-induced insanity) and grinning madly about it, and that got me through all seven of them.

Anyhow, I packed them up in a tupperware (best wrapping idea ever!) and mailed them off last week so that she'd have some time to enjoy them this year. It seemed silly to save them for actual-Christmas and then she'd have to pack them right up away to save for next year.

The other gift was a hat for Jason. I'd meant to wait until Christmas, but it's been so cold here and last weekend we were out all day Saturday, and before I knew what I was doing I'd gotten out the hat and plunked it down on his little head. The yarn is baby alpaca so it's super soft and very warm.

He's been wearing it pretty much every day since then and, of course, is very pleased that it covers his ears. I'm happy he's happy.

And now, back to knitting...

River Tam Vest - Finishing Notes

2011-12-05 02:24:42 +0000

Once upon a time, I crocheted a River Tam vest, using this great tutorial. Unfortunately, this only gives explicit step-by-step instructions for the two square side panels, and the second half, which describes joining the two squares and crocheting the rest of the vest, is a little more vague. When I made mine (once upon a time when I was a beginner crocheter...) I spent quite a while squinting at screen shots and muttering swear words to myself, and had intended to type up my notes at some point to hopefully help out anyone else who might benefit from more step-by-step sort of instructions. Well, nearly two and a half years later, here we are...

To join the two square panels, I crocheted an extra three rows on of the panels, then joined in the following manner. After completing the last row of (tr, ch 1) on Square A, line up the two panels. Treble stitch into ch1 space on Square B, slip stitch into next treble stitch on Square B, then treble stitch into ch1 space on Square A and slip stitch into top of next treble stitch on that panel. Repeat (tr in ch1 space, slip stitch onto top of next tr), alternating panels, all the way down. Doing this, I ended up with a nearly invisible seam.

Next, I added the fishnet (ch 7, sc into center of loop below, rep across) across the top of the two newly joined squares. Using ch-7 loops, I worked it for 12 rows before splitting for the shoulder sections. Each shoulder section is 6 loops, and I worked each shoulder for another 12 rows before joining to the front of the vest as follows: Ch 3, sc into corner of front panel, ch 3, sc into center of next loop. Rep across until all six loops have been joined to the front panel. Repeat on other shoulder. (joining, of course, added an extra row)

Then I added the bottom edging. Using the same ch-7 fishnet pattern, work 12 rows across the bottom of the two joined squares. After 12 rows, work bottom edging as follows: work 2 treble crochet stitches into first loop, ch 3. Repeat across. Work 5 rows total in the pattern, working the 2tr into the 2 tr of the previous row.

The front edging on the vest is the same as the bottom edging, and is also worked for 5 rows. To set it up, work 2 tr into the top corner of the panel by the shoulder fishnet section. Ch3, skip next two stitches, 2 tr into next 2 chain spaces, ch3, skip next ch space, 2 tr into same next ch space, ch 3, 2 tr into next two ch spaces. Rep across, alternating like this to get the spacing for the edging right. I'm afraid this isn't too clear; I'm not very good at pattern-writing, so here's a picture to help explain.

You can see how every first 2tr is worked into the same ch1 space, and every second is worked with one treble stitch in its own ch1 space. When you reach the fishnet section along the bottom of the vest, work 2tr into each side loop, and along the bottom edging wherever it naturally falls, fudging a bit to make it fit right. Repeat along other front side, and you're done!

Hope this helps. :)

more-or-less Christmas knitting

2011-12-02 17:31:20 +0000

It's December 2nd. The Christmas Knitting sprint to the finish line has officially begun. As of today there are just 24 days and counting until the end, and I am nowhere near where I need to be knit-wise, even with my revised Christmas Knitting list. (The original list had an afghan on it. A knitted colorwork afghan. I'm crazy and delusional, I tell you...) In the meantime, I'm hoping to get a big chunk of it done this weekend. I plan on lots of movies and lots of knitting. We'll see how that goes.

In the past week, I haven't managed to do a whole lot knit-wise. The list of what I haven't done, however, is much more impressive.

As usual, please ignore BastardCat lurking in the background.

So that's where we're at right now. And that's not even considering all the other Christmas-related things I need to take care of. Wish me luck through this. We'll see if  I get through it with my sanity intact.

Day of Crap Knitting

2011-11-25 01:25:45 +0000

Every so often comes a day where I really truly doubt my capabilities as a knitter, and indeed doubt whether I even deserve to call myself by that title at all. Yesterday was one of those days.

Since I'm working this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I got to take the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off for my "weekend." I honestly don't mind that. I'm in town for it, unlike coworkers who travelled to spend the holiday with their families, and it works out that I have my two days off in a row. I was quite looking forward to Wednesday. I started out with big plans of housecleaning, but said to myself, The hell with that. I always spend my days off cleaning the damn house and doing laundry. I'm going to take just one day and not do ANYTHING but what I want to.

And I decided that what I wanted to do was to spend the day camped out on the sofa, watching Sherlock on Netflix, and taking advantage of Jason's absence to work on some Christmas Knitting. I got Sherlock all queued up and got out the yarn and needles for Secret Christmas Project #5 and cast on. The pattern instructed me to cast on 32 stitches with size 8s. That seemed a little small to me, but I'm using a thicker yarn so I figured it'd be okay. "Trust the pattern, Leandra, just trust the pattern." I told myself as I cast on a dutifully knit away in 2x2 knitting. I got a few rounds in, and it looked very small, so I said "Screw the pattern!" and ripped out, and recast on with 36 stitches. I knit through the ribbing again. "Now it looks kind of big," I said to myself, and pulled out the needles to try it on. And it was very big. However I am significantly smaller than the intended recipient, and I spent a while hemming and hawing about how big on me would be just right on him. In the end, I ripped it out and cast on 32 stitches again, all the while muttering to myself "Trust the frigging pattern, Leandra, just trust the frigging pattern."

I got almost done with it before I finally made it from the thought "I'm doing what the pattern is saying to do, I'm sure it stretches to fit." to "This looks way way too small." So I pulled out the needles again and tried it on, and it fits perfectly. Which would be great news if the item were for me. Which it is not. There was, I admit, a moment of temptation where I strongly considered just finishing it up and keeping it for myself and going to buy more yarn for present-making. But I rose above those awful urges and ripped again, and cast on yet again with 36 stitches. Trust the pattern, my ass.

I was able to get a whopping three rounds done before Jason came home early. Two and a half hours of knitting, and I got three rounds done. Wonderful use of my time when I'm on a deadline. It'd for the best, really, that I was forced to put it away. I was beginning to feel emotions toward it that I hadn't felt since the blue hat fiasco. That ball of yarn, by the way, is still in time out.

After a short break from knitting, I sat down again with Secret Christmas Project #9, which involves my very first attempt at double knitting ever. And, as with most first attempts at anything, I sucked ass at it. Also, I didn't realize that double knitting is more or less like knitting 1x1 ribbing (which I already despise) only even more annoying since you're also trying to juggle two strands of yarn while you do it. So after four rows, which took me over an hour, I ripped it out and decided that I'd knit two panels of intarsia and then seam them together. It'd probably be faster.

It almost certainly WOULD be faster, if I could only learn to read a frigging chart. Attempt number one looked like slightly better ass. Rip, reknit. Attempt number two I realized that my floats were too long, and it would be better to use two balls of yarn. Rip, reknit. Attempt number three ended when the pattern got close enough that I could go back to using one ball of yarn, but I had too many stitches between the sections. Oops, it looks like there's 8 stitches between the edge of the piece and the start of the color section, not 7 like I'd been doing. Rip, reknit. Attempt number four was when I realize that there really ARE 7 stitches between the color and the edge of the piece. There were eight up there because the color section shifts inward. I am an idiot. Ripped it out and couldn't stand to start again. Am seriously considering another go at double knitting, if only because I'd somehow managed to forget just how much I despise intarsia but after last night I remember very, very vividly.

I pulled out Mom's Tiger Triangle because I needed something mindless after that. Knit all that blessedly simple stockinette until I had the right number of stitches to knit up the first row of the 12 stitch lace patter repeat I'm working for the edging. Unfortunately I didn't include the edge stitches for that, and had to tink back that whole row so I could knit another few rows until I had the real right number of stitches.

That's the point where I gave up for the night. About half a day's worth of knitting, and all I have to show for it is three rounds of 2x2 ribbing, and six rows of stockinette. Maybe half an hour's worth of work. I haven't touched any of it today.

I'm also seriously revising my Christmas Knitting list. Secret Projects 1-3 are the same thing. I can probably do them with commercially bought lace instead of knitting my own. I am loathe to take them off because they're among the simpler and quicker projects I have lined up. In any case, I'm saving them for last that way I can still get them done even if I've run out of time. Secret Project #6 involves great swaths of faire isle, which will take me forever. I'm considering doing less intarsia and more stripes which would make it go way faster. I'm also designing my own pattern there, so I've got a bit of flexibility. We'll see how it goes. Sarah's Belated Birthday Socks will probably be even more belated. Was hoping to have them done by Christmas, but I'd also planned on getting at least the first one knit while I was last in Tampa. This double knitting thing I'm considering finding a bridge to throw it off. Katie's socks are not really involved in this Christmas knitting at all, except that I had hoped to start off New Year with a clear slate and was foolishly optimistic.

It'll be a slog, but it's doable to get everything I need to get done finished on time. I can do this, I can totally do this.

Whew, it's been a while.

2011-11-19 22:37:48 +0000

So apparently I still suck at this whole blogging consistently thing. In my defense, it's been kind of crazy around Yarnia lately. I haven't even had much time for knitting, never mind constructing super awesome posts about my knitting. Anyhow, let's get us caught up.

Here is a much better picture of Epic Wedding Shawl, in action, no less! It came in very handy, as the day was a little chilly so warm shoulders were definitely a plus. I'm very pleased with the finished size and am very glad I ended up adding those extra rows.

I've also finished up Jason's Socks. I did quite a bit of knitting on those while in Tampa, and had all but the second sock's toe finished by the time we came back up North. Jason's been wearing them pretty much non-stop and keeps telling me how warm they are. So, yay converting someone to the wonders of handknit wool socks! Unfortunately, though he hasn't explicitly stated so, I know that he wants more pairs now (and will in fact need new pairs if he keeps wearing these like he does!) so that's something else I've got to get on. Luckily, worsted socks work up quickly, and after the mad dash of Christmas Knitting is over, it should be a simple matter to sit down and bang out a couple more pairs. I'm going to go for something a little nicer than Paton's next time, but am entirely unsure as to what... Suggestions for a soft, durable worsted weight wool yarn would be welcome.

But for now, these will do just fine...

(Just disregard BastardCat the Magnificently Annoying. Bitter about being woken up at 7AM on a Saturday? Me? Of course not!)

I've also gotten a good start on Sarah's Belated Birthday socks. I'm really not used to knitting a sock in a pattern, and it's pretty slow going. I'm about 2/3 down the leg of the first one. Heel should go quickly, and I expect the foot will be easier since half of each round is plain stockinette. I'm using ToshSock in Tart, and it's such a lovely color. It's dark now, so I'll wait until I've got natural sunlight tomorrow to take a picture of it that even comes close to showing just how pretty it is. Also did a little more work on Mom's Tiger Triangle scarf. I've been using that to help me get through the very fiddly Secret Christmas Project I'm currently plowing through. It's knit at a tight gauge and is pretty finicky, so I set it aside every so often to relax a bit with some mindless easy stockinette.

In other news, we've finally replaced our windows. I could not possibly be more thrilled about this. The previous windows were original to our little 1920s house. They were more than ready to be replaced... some didn't open, some didn't stay open, and none of them sealed properly and so let in lots of cold air in the winter and insects in the summer. I'm still pleasantly surprised every time I walk by a window and don't shiver in the sudden draft. Already the house feels so much warmer, and I do believe that this will be the most comfortable winter yet in this house.

The Big Day

2011-11-05 16:56:00 +0000

I'm currently back home in Tampa for Rina's wedding. It's so scary to me to think of my little cousin all grown up and getting married. (I say this as if she's much more than half a year younger than me, and as if I am not married myself. Kindly disregard that...) All the while I was knitting on Epic Wedding Shawl, this day felt like it was so far off. And now that it's here it doesn't feel real at all. The wedding isn't until this evening, so we'll see how I feel by then.

Still, no matter what, the idea that Epic Wedding Shawl will be with her on this oh-so-important day fills me with pride and a warm cozy feeling. That something I spent so much time creating out of nothing but some sticks, some string, and my own two hands will be keeping her warm and cozy (in the brutal Florida air conditioning!) makes me so happy I just can't put it into words.

I love you, Rina, and I hope that this day will be everything you dreamed it would be.

Epic Wedding Shawl - The Final Chapter

2011-10-27 00:56:40 +0000

Sorry it's taken me a while to get around to posting this. I was all set to blog, and indeed was actually in the middle of writing up the final post about Epic Wedding Shawl when disaster struck, in the form of this:

Don't be fooled by that sweet, sleepy face. She's a terrible horrible no-good very bad cat.

I'm sure you can guess where this is going...

On Friday, as planned, I blocked Epic Wedding Shawl. I gave it a nice long bath in wool soak, rolled it up in a towel and blotted it to get most of the water out, then spread it out on my bed. Then for the better part of an hour, I painstakingly measured  each lace section and pinned it in place, then gently tugged each little swoopy point along the edging into position and pinned it down as well. Taking a step back, I admired my handiwork...

...and felt a surge of pride so strong I thought my ribs might crack from it. It was beautiful. It was the perfect size. It was delicate and definitely heirloom-worthy. And aside from one random hole (that looks like the result of a dropped stitch I somehow managed to completely ignore, but felt that I could easily fix post-blocking) it. was. perfect.

Since my bedroom door doesn't latch properly, I threw a towel over the top of the door so it jammed in the frame. I figured this would be sufficient to keep the two girls out, and our male cat, while smart enough and strong enough to barrel through that obstacle, spends his days napping on a chair in the living room. Still, I kept an eye on things and no one seemed terribly interested in breaking in. Every so often, thoughout the day, I would go into the bedroom and (under the pretense of making sure everything was okay) gaze admiringly at Epic Wedding Shawl, spread out in all its glory.

I seem to have a qoute bouncing around in my head. Something about pride and a fall...

Jason got home later that evening and the first thing I did was drag him into the bedroom to admire my work. Then I went downstairs to start my post so the rest of the world can admire my work too. I only left it unguarded for fifteen or twenty minutes at most, and since the cats had left it alone all day I really wasn't worried about doing so. But when I went upstairs again, I noticed that the previously-jammed-shut door was now cracked open. Pulse pounding, heart in my throat, I pushed open the door and found my beautiful Epic Wedding Shawl dragged half off the bed, long ramen-noodle loops of thread hanging off it where it had been picked by awful demon cat claws, and pins scattered EVERYWHERE.

Now, Ozzy is not the smartest cat in the world. She's a total sweetheart, but she's really really dumb. Her way of determining whether or not she should eat something is by whether or not it will fit in her mouth. She'd made several attempted-pin-eating efforts earlier in her life, and here she'd been in a room, alone and unguarded, with about a hundred and thirty of them. I'll admit it, I panicked.

Three hours and some very expensive X-rays later, we found out that apparently she'd been so focused on trying to make off with Epic Wedding Shawl that she completely ignored the pins. And after several hours with a teensy little crochet hook, I managed to tug all the loops back into stitches. Amazingly, she also didn't break the yarn anywhere, so while tedious, all the damage done was easily fixed. Last night I reblocked the border to even it out, and Epic Wedding Shawl is now sitting, safe and sound, locked away in the spare bedroom.

And so concludes my Epic Wedding Shawl Adventure.

Now I'm going to focus on knitting some nice boring uneventful socks.