Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: A Year in Knitting

For the fourth year now since I've been knitting hardcore, I feel the need to do an accounting of and document my year's fibery achievements. Actually, I feel the need to create a spreadsheet about them, but it being nearly midnight and I'm on my second glass of Saki, it's best that I just blog about them.

In 2010, I finished 52 WIPs! I originally thought this was a record, but in doing a quick calculation (because I can't find my calculations for past years anyplace...though I know they're around) based on my Ravelry projects page, I see that in 2007, my first big knitting year, I amassed 53 FOs. (That was the year I did a LOT of the same project, over and over...mitts, hats, felted bowls...that had to bump that number up.)


Still, 52 is nothing to sneeze at. It means I averaged one FO per week. Considering the year that this was (adjectives I might use: stressful, chaotic, unsettled, aggravating, scattered), I think that's pretty good.


Just for the sake of comparison, in 2008, my FO tally dropped to 46 and stayed there in 2009. Those years, though, I also was doing larger projects, and I'd also started spinning, which vied for some of my knitting time. So, still, pretty respectable.

(Just a note here that I realize I'm coming at this as if it is some Olympic-grade competition, which it clearly is not...at least not anywhere but in my head, and I'm only competing against myself.)

Because I know you won't be able to sleep unless I give you the specific break down of my FOs, I've done the math for you (because I care, dontchaknow ;))...

This year, I knit:

8 Shawls
8 Pairs of socks
8 Stuffed things/toys
7 Hats
5 Sweaters
4 Scarves
3 Cowls
2 Cozies
2 Baby sweaters (both test knits)
2 Dishcloths
1 Dog sweater
1 Pair of mittens
1 Mutant blob of a blanket

Numbers aren't everything. I like to think I'm also becoming a better knitter, not just a prolific one. In general, I feel confident that the more I knit, the better I get at the craft in general. I've definitely become a far better continental knitter this year, to the point that I hardly ever throw anymore, unless I'm binding off. As far as techniques, I learned how to do applied i-cord and got far better at cabling without a cable needle. I'm much more confident in my lace knitting abilities, and I am more sure than ever that I hate feather and fan. (I'm not sure that last one counts as an achievement, but it is most certainly a fact.)

I did some test knitting this year, which I enjoy doing. And I continued to spin, though I didn't have the time to spin as much as I'd have liked. (Tour de Fleece was a big fail for me this year.)

One very big achievement this year in my knitting world wasn't even directly related to the craft but instead facilitated it: my new knitting room/office. Right now, it is doubling as my grandson's bedroom while he's visiting, but I'm looking forward to much more creating and inspiration from that room next year.

Looking head to 2011, I want to continue to challenge myself with the projects I choose to make. I want to be more selective in what I knit and what yarn I use, because life is way too short to knit things you don't enjoy, and there's too much good yarn out there to knit with fiber you just aren't loving.

I'm planning to do a stashdown the first four months of 2011, leading up to Spring Fling at the end of April. (Yes, I got in again! Third year! Yeay!) Except for special circumstances, I really want to be good and knit only from my stash. I've joined Stashdown 2011 and Year of Stash Socks on Ravelry to help me with this goal. I'm also going to be more active in putting yarns up on my trade/sell page at Ravelry. I know I'll probably always have a stash of SABLE proportions, but I'd really love to get it down to a little more manageable size.

I also want to make better use of my pattern resources. I have so many books and pattern PDFs that I have never knit from, and I want to change that. My goal (not just for this coming year, but ongoing) is to try and knit at least one pattern from each of the knitting books and magazines I own, and if I can't find even one pattern I like enough to knit, or if the book/magazine doesn't have something else meaningful in it, then I'm going to get rid of it. (That said, I'm not going so far as to say I won't be buying new books and magazines. If I'm not allowed to buy yarn, I have to have SOMEthing to get me by, ya know? ;))

Lastly, I intend to put more energy into designing this year. Check that. I intend to put more time and energy into writing up my designs and publishing them. I actually did design a fair few projects this year, and I managed to get a few of them up on the site. But I have so many more I want to release. I really want to focus more time and attention on that. I said that last year, and it didn't really happen. I hope to change that in 2011.

So, those are my reflections on 2010 and my thoughts toward 2011. I hope you all have some good things you can carry with you from this past year (I know that for a lot of people, 2010 kinda sucked, but still, you have to find value in the small, bright points where you can, you know?) May 2011 be good to you all...health, contentment, and always lots of fibery goodness. :)

Happy New Year, my friends!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's that Time: Finish or Frog?

Every year around this time, I get the urge to purge...my knitting, if nothing else. I like the idea of starting a new year with a clean slate. If I can't do it in every area of life, I can at least do it with my WIPs.

A couple Januaries ago, I dedicated that month to finishing up a whole bunch of WIPs. At the time I had something insane like 17 WIPs, though, so it really was called for. Right now, I technically have four active WIPs, plus eight in "hibernation" mode. (Two of those can barely be considered hibernating, though, as they were either not actually cast on, just planned and never gotten to, or JUST cast on and then never worked.)

So, today I'm considering the fate of these projects. Three of my active WIPs will remain...the Buttoned Up cowl (which I will hopefully finish before the new year rings in), my MIL's white shawl of doom Haruni (which I'd planned to have finished first for Christmas, then for her early January birthday...she's been informed her birthday project will be late) and my Caldavos cardigan, which, for some unknown reason, I cast on right before I went into high gear on gift knitting.

One WIP, a pair of plain stockinette socks I started in some Opal Harry Potter yarn (Harry & Ron colorway)...they're going in the frog pond. I'm just not feeling them. I think the colorway is weird.


I keep trying to figure out what the different pattern sections represent. I mean, I get the blue & white is sky and clouds. OK. But the Orange and yellow and green? Quiddich field? Is the orange supposed to be Ron's red hair? I can't remember at which point in the movie sequence this yarn came out, so I can't figure out if the patterning is significant to a particular movie's plot. See, all these questions would just make these socks incredibly stressful to me if I wore them, so even though I'm through the heel turn on the first sock, I'm frogging. I have way too much beautiful sock yarn to waste my time knitting socks I don't like.

Moving on to the hibernating projects. Let's start with the oldest...


This is a Tube Shawl I started for myself back in May of 2007. The pattern is by Leigh Radford and is out of the book AlterKnits. I made the smaller scarf version that year for my mom out of some beautiful red Douceur et Soie mohair and silk, added beads to the edge and sewed a chiffon insert, as the pattern suggested. It was pretty. My mom had already moved to FL by the time she got it that year, though, so I doubt she's ever used it. This larger version I'm making with Ovation kid mohair and silk, and it it very pretty. The shawl takes three balls to make. I'm not even through the first. Even though I love the yarn and I think it would make a beautiful shawl, I don't love it enough to finish it. So, my compromise to myself is to knit through the remainder of this first ball and bind off, creating a lofty, soft and warm cowl. And! Changing it from a shawl to a cowl means it is actually about 70% finished! Score! :)


Next is a Traveling Woman shawl I started for my mom earlier this year. Again, being in FL, she doesn't need heavy wool things, so I started this out of some Misty Mountain Farms Highlight, a merino/tencel blend. The colorway, though...meh. Really not liking it at all, at least not for a Traveling Woman, which I think looks much better in a solid or semi-solid. I stuffed it in a drawer before I started my Christmas gift knitting, and I think then I knew I'd never finish it. Time to frog.

I have a pair of socks I was casting on for the girlie, and I think I cast on the first sock and got a couple toe rows done before I set it aside, working instead on other Socktoberfest socks. Since my Riff socks ended up fitting the girlie instead of me, I didn't feel quite the same drive to knit her another pair of socks. I like this yarn well enough, but since I've got a pair of mittens to make for her yet, I think I'll frog that little toe and put the yarn back in the stash.

I also have a Rowan Lima sweater that I queued up to begin knitting, and then I never got around to starting it. I can't even frog it since it wasn't yet on the needles! LOL So, I've deleted the project. To be knit another day!


Yeay!

That leaves three projects in hibernation. My Norwegian Rose socks, of which I still need to knit the second and will indeed do...some day; an afghan I started back in June 2008, that I'm pretty sure I won't have enough yarn to make as big as I would have liked, but I'll finish it at some point...it's a good pick up and work on project when I need something mindless; and lastly, an Olivia stuffed toy, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, I'm not so sure. I have to dig her out and see how far I really am on her. I may just frog her. Knitting tiny stuffed things? Fun. Larger ones? Not so much.

See? That knitterly housekeeping makes me feel so good! If only all other housekeeping could be as easy. ;)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Isn't he cute?


I think he needs some friends... ;)

On Christmas Eve, I decided I needed a break from my two remaining gift knitting projects, so I decided to knit up this little guy. I think he is just adorable. I would love to make an entire army of them. The thought of it reminds me of the Calvin & Hobbes comics where Calvin builds dozens of miniature snowmen in his yard.

This pattern is Mochimochi Snowmen, pattern by Anna Hrachovec, which I did in some leftover Queensland Collection Kathmandu DK and some random sock yarn leftovers for the scarf and embroidery. (The pattern calls for it to be made with sock yarn, but I didn't have any scrap white sock yarn, and I liked the texture of the Kathmandu for him, and since size really wasn't an issue, I went with it!)

The pattern can be purchased through Ravelry, but it is also in the first issue of CraftSanity magazine, which I don't think I've mentioned yet. (Forgive me if I have, but it's worth mentioning again!) It is available in both print or PDF format. I purchased the $3.99 electronic version of the magazine so I could check it out, and I LOVE it so much! Everything is printable, and there are some really fun patterns in there, not just knitting but crochet and sewing, as well as recipes and some paper crafts. There are a couple nice interviews as well. I highly recommend checking it out!

In addition to my little friend here, I am also working on the Buttoned Up cowl, from Cathy Carron, that was also featured in this issue (excerpted, I believe, from the book Cowlgirls). Pictures of that to follow, as soon as I get it finished up!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, my friends...

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Whether or not you're done with your gift knitting (I'm not...one person is going to be getting a hat au needles, I fear), or your cookie baking, or your last-minute shopping, I'd like to wish you all a peaceful, warm, and meaningful Christmas. I hope you will be surrounded by the love of those who mean the most to you, and if that isn't possible, then may you be comforted in its absence.

I am so blessed in my life on any given day, and I often overlook it because I focus on the small, the petty, the unimportant. This Christmas season, however, I'm reminded of what is most important. My house is very full right now -- small house + six people + one dog = kinda crazy! LOL -- and we are bound to get on each others nerves before it's over (eh, it happens), but these are the people who mean the WORLD to me. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Lastly, I've posted some version or another of this in past years, and I do so again now because the song is one of my favorites. Enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Twisting & Turning

That's what life's doing these days! At least it feels like it. I'm getting down to the wire with my Christmas preparations. Though the holiday is still a week away, I'll be gone for three days next week as I go down to North Carolina to pick up our oldest son and our grandson to bring them home for Christmas. So my self-imposed deadline for getting most everything done is Sunday. Two days away. And we're doing Christmas with my in-laws tomorrow, so not even a full two days. Still, I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll be able to meet my goal.

In the mean time, the Christmas knitting continues. Just when I tell myself I've knit enough gifts this year, I think of something that would be perfect for someone, and I can't help but cast it on! My latest project was this cowl...


...it's my own pattern, a twisted cable ribbing made from some Frog Tree 100% alpaca sport weight that I've had in my stash for a while, just waiting for the right project to use it. It is appropriately named Twisting & Turning, and I've got the pattern mostly written up...I just need to proof and format it. I'm hoping to be able to get it published here before the end of the weekend, so if you're looking for a fast, last minute gift, maybe this will work! (Seriously...I knit this in a day. And no cable needles necessary!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hiccup...

I had good intentions of posting a couple more freebie patterns well in time for Christmas knitting. However, I've run into a couple hiccups in them, mainly in sizing, that will require some extra test-knitting time on my part so I can make sure things are accurate. Unfortunately, due to the Christmas knitting that still remains for me, I can't do that just now. So! I do apologize. I will get the patterns out as soon as I can, if not in time for Christmas knitting, then in time for some relaxing, post-holiday, curl-up-with-cocoa-under-an-afghan-and-watch-the-snow-coming-down-outside knitting. I don't know about you, but that's some of my favorite kind of knitting. :)

Here's a little tease, though...a swatch I'm working up in Malabrigo Rios, Sunset colorway...


Have you knit with Rios yet? Oh! My! Goodness! It is sooooo soft and squishy! It is my new favorite superwash worsted weight yarn. Actually, I'm being redundant in saying that, because I already shared one picture of a Christmas gift in progress that I made out of the Playa colorway, and I said the same thing in that post. But honestly? It bears repeating! It's just that good! And in a package from The Loopy Ewe today, I got a third colorway, Lettuce, that I can't wait to knit with. I hope they come out with more colorways for Rios, because I am totally smitten, and at $13.60 per 210 yard skein, I think it's an affordable option for gift knitting when you want to give something that doesn't need to be hand washed but you want it to have a nicer feel than, say, Cascade 220 Superwash (not that I'm bashing C220S...it's often my go-to, non-hand-wash, gift knitting yarn, mainly due to the multitude of colors available).

So, even though I don't have time to polish these last couple patterns right now, they will hopefully be the first of several I plan to publish in 2011. Interestingly, the more I work on writing up these patterns, the more pattern ideas I seem to get. I think that is the way of creativity. I remember that was always the case back when I was working as a freelancer. The more I wrote, the more ideas for writing I'd get, which is a far better problem to have than writer's block or - in this case - designer's block!

In the mean time, I've done a little housekeeping and rearranging here on the blog, including adding icons over there in the right sidebar that link to each of my available patterns. All but the Call Before Digging pattern are free (F), so please enjoy them. Maybe one or two will make the perfect gifts for folks on your list this year!

On another note, remember my nice, neat, new yarn room? Yeah...not so neat right now! Ack!


I put the card table up last weekend, brought all of my Christmas wrapping supplies up from the basement and set up camp for gift wrapping. I must admit, it's really nice to have the option of using this space in here for this task instead of having it spread throughout the whole dining room the entire month of December. Of course, when you supply the universe with a horizontal surface, it will attract matter, as you can see! In addition to my projects that keep landing there, my daughter has been making use of the space as she's worked on some of her own Christmas gift crafts (which I LOVE that she's making gifts, and they're turning out really well, too!). What you can't see is the ironing board she also had up, effectively making it an obstacle course to get to my desk. I tidied up a bit right after I took the picture. ;)

How's your holiday crafting coming along? What all are you making this year?

(ETA: I've needed to turn comment moderation on. If you comment & don't see it post right away, that's why! Sorry for the inconvenience.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Free Pattern: Slipped Stitch Kindle Cozy


Next up in my free pattern offerings is a lovely little slipped stitch pouch that will be the perfect place to keep your KindleTM safe and clean when you’re not using it. It is also just the right size to store a large MoleskineTM notebook or other similarly-sized journal. This quick knitting project will make a great gift for the reader or journaller in your life.

ETA: I designed this to fit a 3rd generation Kindle, with about an extra inch of space width-wise. The extra room should allow the pattern, as written, to accomodate the slightly larger 2nd generation Kindle as well. 

The pattern is written to be knit flat and then seamed. Knitters will need basic knitting skills as well as slightly more advanced techniques such as casting on stitches over small bound off areas using the Backwards Loop cast on method and Mattress Stitch for seaming.

Yarn: Approximately 150 yards of sport weight. Sample was knit using just over half a skein of Enchanted Knoll Farm Sport, Cleopatra colorway.

Needles: US7 straight or 24” circular needles, or needle size necessary for you to get gauge

Additional Tools: Tapestry needle, three locking stitch markers or safety pins

Notions: Three ¾” buttons (or buttons to properly fit your resulting button holes)

Gauge: 5 stitches per inch in Slipped Stitch pattern.

Finished Size: 6 ¼” x 9”. (Note that this is designed for a roomy fit for a KindleTM. If you would like a snugger fit, cast on six fewer stitches, adjust the length as desired in the first two sections and adjust the placement of the buttonholes in the third section to fit the narrower width.)

Abbreviations:

RS – right side
WS – wrong side
K1 – Knit one stitch
K – Knit
P1 – Purl one stitch
BO – bind off

Slipped Stitch Pattern

(Note: All slipped stitches are slipped as if to purl. All WS rows are purled.)

Row 1 (RS): *K1, bring yarn forward, slip next stitch to right needle, move yarn to back, repeat from * to last stitch; K.

Row 2 (WS): Purl.

Row 3: With yarn forward, slip first stitch to right needle, move yarn to back. *K1, bring yarn forward, slip next stitch to right needle, move yarn to back, repeat from * to last two stitches; K1, bring yarn forward and slip last stitch.

Row 4: Purl.

Directions

Section One (Inner Panel) –

Cast on 37 stitches.

Row 1 (RS): *K1, P1, repeat from * to last stitch; K.

Row 2 (WS): Knit all knit stitches, purl all purl stitches.

Repeat these two rows once more to create four rows of 1x1 ribbing for the edge of the inner panel.

Begin working in Slipped Stitch pattern. Continue until fabric measures 8” from cast on edge, ending on a WS row.

Purl the next RS row. This creates a fold row.

Section Two (Outer Panel) –

Purl this WS row.

Begin working again in Slipped Stitch pattern. Continue until fabric measures 9 ½” from the fold row of Section One. End on a WS row.

Purl the next RS row. This creates a second fold row.


Section Three (Flap) –

Purl this WS row.

Begin working again in Slipped Stitch pattern. Continue until fabric measures 2” from the fold row of Section Two. End on a WS row.

The next two rows will create button holes.

Button Hole Row 1 (RS): Work 6 stitches in pattern,* BO 2 stitches, work next 9 stitches in pattern, repeat from * once; BO 2 stitches, work remaining 4 stitches in pattern. (31 stitches)

Button Hole Row 2 (WS): Purl across row. Using backward loop method, cast on two new stitches at each of the three places were stitches were bound off in the previous row. (37 stitches)

Resume working in pattern until flap is 2 ½” from fold row of Section Two. End on a WS row.

Work four rows of 1x1 ribbing as you did at the beginning of Section One.

Bind off (loosely) in pattern.


Finishing –

Fold the inner and outer panels together at the first fold row, right sides facing outward. Using locking stitch markers or safety pins, secure the inner panel to the outer panel at the corners of the cast on edge, making sure the cast on edge is even with the fold for the flap. (The cast on edge will NOT meet the fold for the flap but should be about an inch shorter. Just use the flap fold as a guide for getting the edge of your inner panel lined up straight.)

Using a tapestry needle, seam the inner and outer panels together using Mattress Stitch. Begin seaming at the bottom fold and work up toward the open edge. After seaming the first edge, recheck to make sure the upper edge of the inner panel is still even with the flap fold. Adjust if necessary.

With pouch lying flat, outer panel downward, fold flap so that it overlaps inner flap. Using stitch markers or safety pins, carefully mark the site where your three buttons will need to be attached. Open flap again and using the rows of the fabric as your guide, make sure you’ve marked all three buttons on the same row so that they are even.

Sew on buttons.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Free Pattern: Fast & Easy Finger Puppets

As promised, here is the first of a few fast and easy patterns I've designed recently for gifts. This one actually came at the request of my daughter, who wanted to make finger puppets for a friend and for her nephew. They're quite beginner friendly!


Fast & Easy Finger Puppets

If you’re in need of a really quick gift for a kid, these finger puppets are just the thing! They take very little yarn and very little time. You’ll likely spend more time embellishing them with the stitched on faces than you will actually knitting the puppets themselves. And they are a great way to use up leftover yarn from other projects.

Materials

Worsted weight yarn scraps. Each puppet uses approximately 3 grams of yarn, which is about 6 – 7 yards of worsted.

Other small bits of decorative yarn for embellishing.

US4 needles. I used two 8” DPNs just because these are small pieces and they easily fit on them, but use whatever US4 needle you prefer, straight or circular.

Tapestry needle.

Directions

Using long-tailed cast on, cast on 12 stitches.

Work in stockinette stitch (Row 1: knit; Row 2: purl) for approximately 2”, ending with a purl row. If you are making the puppets for a small child whose fingers are shorter, adjust length accordingly.

After reaching desired length, k2tog across all stitches (6 stitches remaining).

Next row, p2tog across all stitches (3 stitches remaining).

Break yarn, leaving an 18” tail. Leave the last three stitches on the needle (or place them on a small stitch holder or waste yarn) while you embellish your puppet.

Using contrasting yarns, stitch on eyes, mouth, or whatever features you wish to add. Weave in the ends of your embellishment yarns, or simply tie them off as they will be inside the puppet and not visible. (Hint: when stitching on knitted fabric, try to insert the needle in between strands of yarn of the stitches rather than into the gaps in between the actual stitches. Your embellishment stitches will stay closer to where you want them that way.)

Once your embellishments are complete, thread the tail of your working yarn onto a tapestry needle and run it through the remaining three live stitches, pulling it snug to cinch them up, forming the top of the puppet’s head.
Using the tail yarn, which is still attached to the puppet at the top, use mattress stitch to seam up the two edges of your puppet’s back down to the cast on edge. Weave in ends.

Now add hair! You can create a braid and stitch it to your puppet’s head (such as on my brown one), or you can thread individual strands of yarn through the top of the puppet and tie them off to each other for a spiky hair do (like my red one). Or channel your inner beautician and create your own innovative hair style!

Variations

Use different yarns to make up the body in order to give your puppet a bottom and top ensemble.
Knit the last few rows of your puppet with a fuzzy yarn (such as fun fur) to make the hair an integrated part of the puppet (like I did on my purple one).

Use beads or small buttons for eyes. However, if you’re making this for a small child who may choose to gnaw on the puppet as well as play with it, you may wish to forego using anything that could be a choking hazard.

In general, have fun! Mix it up! Be creative!

Pattern and images © Lisa M. Beamer, 2010. Reproduction of pattern is permissible for personal, non-income generating purposes only.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gift Knitting!

I've been busy-busy with a lot of Christmas gift knitting lately, as I'm sure many of you have been too. Much of my knitting has also meant some designing on my part. Since several of the patterns I've designed for gifts lately are pretty fast and easy, I thought I'd share them here. So, stay tuned for some upcoming fast and easy (and free!) patterns that just might fit your own gift knitting needs!

While we're on the subject, let me remind you of my original Fast & Easy pattern, the fingerless mitts. It's available in its original form (knitting flat and then seamed) as well as version two, in which you knit them in the round.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I did it :)

50,156 words. The story isn't done, but I met the 50K goal with more than two days to spare. Win!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Down to the wire...

NaNoWriMo. I have 5,701 words to go. There are four days left in the month, only I'll be in Buffalo all day Sunday for the Steelers-Bills game, so that probably won't be a writing day. (I plan to not write on Sundays anyway.) Keeping with my 2,000 words per day goal, I can easily finish at the 50K mark before the end of Tuesday. Still, I'm hoping to put in some extra words tomorrow, just to be sure.

This has been a good NaNo year. I've written consistently, at least six days a week. The other two years that I "won" NaNo, I finished way early, like by Thanksgiving or before. Then I lost motivation to keep going, even though the stories themselves weren't really finished. This time, I feel like having written daily, 2,000-ish words per day, I've gotten in a good groove. I'd love to see it continue.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

There are so many YouTube clips to choose from in the spirit of wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. My go-to is usually one of the many "Friends" clips from their Thanksgiving episodes, but I've decided to go a different route this year. Not much of a video, but the song makes me laugh.



Happy Turkey Day, everyone! Hope you're thankful wherever you are, whoever you're with. I know I am. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday-ish Hoopla

Here we are, the day before Thanksgiving, and uncharacteristically, I am NOT manically trying to clean my house. That is because we have been abandoned by our family this year. Yep. All of 'em. Out of town. I'm trying to remind myself that there have been Thanksgivings past where I wished we could celebrate small, just the four of us at home together. Now that it's happening, I'm kind of sad about it, but I'm trying to make the most of it just the same. Guess it's one of those "careful what you wish for" things. ;)

Despite knowing it would just be the four of us for dinner tomorrow, I've had some major FAIL at down-sizing the food for our meal. A 20 pound bird and two pies are the main items over over-the-topness. At least turkey freezes well, and can you really have too many pies, ever? I think not.

 Pumpkin in the front, Chocolate Chip Pie in the back.

So, Thanksgiving plans, such as they are, are under control. Amazingly, so are my Christmas ones, at least the Christmas knitting ones. I'm mentally plotting out all other Christmas plans and really should commit them to paper in list form soon before they spin out of control. But one thing at a time.

I now have four gifts completed -- two pairs of socks, which I've posted before, a pair of mittens, and a gift that shall go unnamed until it has been given to it's recipient. The mittens may end up being reserved for a January birthday gift instead, since they are for my mother-in-law, and I'm also knitting the shawl she requested. It is coming along nicely, despite the mind-numbing whiteness of the yarn. Haruni is turning out to be an easy enough pattern to knit while also watching TV, so that's made the vast whiteness far less painful to work on. (As a side note, having finished all the back season episodes of Psych on Netflix, I've moved on to Doctor Who, which I'm finding quirkily delightful, and I have to say I find Christopher Eccleston to be rather hot, and I'm already sad to know that he's only in the first season.)

Here he is, after three of the four Chart A repeats. I'm debating adding a fifth repeat. We'll see how I'm feeling about that when the time comes. I'm using white from the Loopy Solids collection.

I've also finished a lacey beret which took only two evenings to make. Actually, it is finished except for the blocking.

This is the Beret de Printemps, knit in Malabrigo Silky Wool, Archangel colorway. Being modeled here by my swift, it looks less like a beret than the head of some colorful, bulbous mushroom. 

This morning I cast on a helmet liner, which is for my hubby. He does not need a helmet liner, as he doesn't wear a helmet, but he does work outside in the cold during winter, and he wanted something to cover his face (but not a scarf). I tried to design one on my own that came out ridiculously unwearable. This, however, is exactly what he wanted, and so I'm glad to be able to knit one for him this year that should turn out with far better results.


I'm knitting it out of Malabrigo Rios, Playa colorway. And oh-my-gosh! This is the softest, nicest superwash I've used in a long time! Aside from the fact that Malabrigo seems to employ cats to skein their yarn (argh! the tangles!), I love it!

There are other gift knitting ideas in my mental queue, but I'll save them for when (and if) they actually materialize.

My one other recent FO isn't a gift, but it's the hand spun sweater I finished, ripped out, and reknit on needles two sizes smaller. It's finally done and I do love it. I'm so glad I reknit it, because it fits wonderfully now. The designer hasn't released the pattern yet, but when she does, I'll be sure to link it here.


On the writing front, I've done a remarkably good job of keeping up with my word count goals for NaNoWriMo this month. What's even better is that at nearly 40K words in, I like the story I'm writing. That's not always a given. I'm no where near even a quarter of the way done with it though, so here's hoping I can maintain the daily writing groove even once I pass the 50K goal of NaNo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What to do next?

So, I've restarted the hand spun test knit. Getting much more consistent gauge this time using needles 1 1/2 sizes smaller. And tonight, I finished a pair of Christmas gift socks...

Spring Wind pattern by Laura Linneman; yarn by Enchanted Knoll Farm, sport weight, Red Dirt Girl colorway.

(I'd add Rav links, but Rav is crapping out on me right now, so I'll come back and add them later.)

So that leaves me only three active projects now: the test knit sweater, the Caldavos cardi, (which I really want to work on, but I want to finish the test knit one first) and the Christmas gift shawl, which I really should dedicate my time to at this point if I want it to be done for Christmas.

But I feel the need to add another project to my mix, something I can carry around with me. I'm getting tired of socks right now, and my hands would agree. I desperately want to make Cupcake Mittens for a certain somebody for Christmas, but again, those are small needles, and I'd need to work on them only when certain people are in bed at night. Sigh. Maybe a heavier weight shawl? Hm...

Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reclaimation

I started my day off today by frogging the too-big test knit sweater that I shared glimpses of yesterday...

There you have it, all neatly wound into cakes, waiting to be reknit. I may cast on for Take Two later today.

I really don't frog finished garments very often. The test knit I did because it was handspun that I want to be able to wear, and I want to do justice to the designer's pattern. Plus, it's a fast enough project that it doesn't pain me to think of reknitting it as a lot of other projects might.

When I lost all that weight a couple years ago and found that most of my handknit sweaters no longer fit me, I  ended up giving most of them away. Kevin asked why I didn't just rip them out and reknit them. That was overwhelming to me in a way a non-knitterly guy could not begin to imagine! By and large, I am usually a project knitter. I like to see a finished project. And while I enjoy the process of working a new and/or challenging pattern, after I've done it once, I rarely feel compelled to want to knit it again. I'm ready to move on to something else. Plus, it's my contention that most yarns are really only exciting to work with the first time. Knitting something new with the same old yarn just isn't my cuppa tea. (That could be directly related to the fact that I've got a stash that definitely fits SABLE proportions.)
I did, however, hold on to a couple of items that I'd knit pre-weight loss, one of which was a ponchette made out of the bulky Noro Transitions yarn. I sized mine up when I made it because, well, there was a lot more of me at the time. I decided to keep it because I figured a ponchette really isn't a fitted garment, so maybe I could still wear it. The truth was, though, that even unfitted, it was huge on me. I could have slipped it over my shoulders and down over my entire body. But I loved the colors and textures in the yarn, so I hung onto it.

Today it dawned on me that I should just frog it and use the yarn for something else. Since I was in frogging mode this morning, I did just that, which yielded this...

The colors look more amazing in the ponchette picture linked above, and I love how there are some rather sizable tufts of angora in spots throughout. It is truly a lovely yarn, and that's saying something because I'm really not a fan of bulky weight yarn. But it is also Noro yarn, which means you get knots. And holy knots, Batman. That ball in the middle? There must have been about five sections where I'd spliced ends together! (They came apart in the frogging process, which begs the question of how I spliced them to begin with.)

Anyway, I'll eventually re-skein those balls, give them a soak and then wait for a new project to reveal itself. In the mean time, I've got Christmas gifts and a test (re)knit to work on.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Technology vs. Fibery Goodness

I'm coming to you live(ish), from my new desktop, which I took my good old time setting up this past week. Seriously? It used to be that when I got a new computer, I HAD to set it up RIGHT NOW, and get all of the software loaded onto it RIGHT NOW, and get all of my old files transferred to it RIGHT NOW and it had to do everything I wanted it to do the way I wanted it to do it RIGHT NOW. This time? I just didn't have the energy for it. Technology has beaten me down enough lately that I knew this was going to be a long, tedious process, and that if I tried to hurry it, it was just going to be ugly. So I took my time. I didn't even open the box of the new machine for a day. Then I plugged things in, and set up the basics. I added some extra software the next day. I transferred files a little here and a little there. After a bit of arguing with our wireless router, which had suddenly decided that high speed Internet was optional and would be dispensed according to its whims, we are mostly good to go. I'm still not done transferring files, but at least the computer is functioning and I don't need to do a special dance involving the sacrifice of a small bird or animal in order for the monitor to work.

That concludes the technology oriented section of our blog post. Let's move on to something far more fun, albeit not always less frustrating. First, some spinning...

I finished spinning and plying my mystery fiber. It's so fun and candy colored. I really wish I remembered where I got it, and I wish I knew what it was! (My hunch, based on the feel and how it spun up, is that it is at least partly Shetland.) I ended up with about 300 yards of a worsted weight (seems after all that test knit spinning, I'm having trouble going back down to a lighter gauge...argh...) Not sure what it will become, but I enjoyed the colors while I spun it. It was great therapy, and sometimes that's enough.

Also, I finished the first of my Spring Wind socks in Enchanted Knoll Farm sportweight yarn, Red Dirt Girl colorway...

This is going to be a Christmas gift, so I'm busily working on sock #2.

I also finished up my test knit sweater this week, and while I would love to show you a picture, I haven't taken any yet. Plus, I think I'm going to frog it and knit it over. Gauge and I ended up not being on friendly terms on this project. I think my WPI was off, because I got a different number every time I tried to figure it out. And my stitch count was wonky, thanks to my yarn being less than consistently spun. Anyway, it's way, way too big for me to wear comfortably, but I love the yarn soooo much, that I can't bear to leave it as it is. I mean, look at that yarn...

...I loved it as I was spinning it and knitting it, but then I took it outside into the sunshine, and it was like magic, it just warmed up and got all beautiful on me. It deserves to be knitted better than I knit it. So, we'll check back in with that sweater a little later on.


I've been on a bit of a book buying binge lately. I finally finished reading Brave New Knits, which I bought in Kindle version because I was mainly interested in the designer bios rather than the patterns. It was fun to read about all these designers, many of whom I've followed for a while now. I kind of hope the author does a Volume 2 with some of the many other knit bloggers out there who design who I think are more than worthy to be featured in such a book.

Additionally, I've picked up...

Warm Knits, Cool Gifts by Sally Melville and her daughter Caddy Melville Ledbetter. I haven't had a chance to read through this one completely yet, but on first glance, it's got a lot of great projects.

The Red Collection by ZigZagStitch's Mandy Powers . Ohmygosh! The red/white/black/gray color schemes of the projects in this book just thrill me to no end. Clearly, you could knit them in any colors you wanted, but...why would you WANT to? (OK, maybe that's just me. But still. They're perfect!) The Drifty and Holly Jean hats and mittens? MUST. HAVE. THESE. I love them! I don't even wear hats and I want to make them. I am particularly smitten by Drifty. The design just makes me completely and utterly happy to look at. I bought the digital pattern pack of The Red Collection, which gets you the print book but also the ability to download all of the patterns immediately in digital form as they are stored in your Ravelry library. Awesomeness. You can also just buy the print book, or you can buy single pattern downloads.

New England Knits by Cecily Glowick MacDonald. I've been eyeing this book for a while and finally gave in and bought it. I love New England, and this book has fabulous photography, which will make me buy a book nearly every time, even if the patterns don't excite me. Thankfully, there are a lot of patterns in this book that make me happy, so, bonus!

Gifted: Lovely Little Things to Knit and Crochet by Mags Kandis. I love this kind of book. I've used my copies of Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and Handknit Holidays a ton, for inspiration if not for the actual patterns in them. I think this book will make a nice addition to that little collection.

Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders by Judith Durant. I bought the first two One-Skein Wonders books (the first of which I used a LOT). I skipped the Luxury OSWs book, but this one I couldn't pass up. I have more sock yarn than I will EVER use to knit socks, so I'm always looking for new ideas and projects to make use of my stash. I haven't had time to go through this book completely yet, but I have high hopes for its usefulness to me.

Lastly, magazines. While I'm eagerly awaiting the winter issue of Interweave Knits to make it's way to bookstores, I've picked up these two to keep me occupied...


Neither of these magazines are ones I've ever bought before, but these issues are both chock full of color work. Debbie Bliss in particular leaves me speechless with the collection it's featuring of ridiculously fabulous fair isle designs by Anna Wilkinson. I don't know if I'll ever actually knit any of them, but I will continue to stare at them for weeks to come. In fact, the thought occurred to me to frame the pictures and hang them in my yarn room. And that model with the red hair and porcelain skin? Is she not STUNNING? (I admit to Googling to try and figure out who she is because I was curious to see some of her other modeling work. I know she's been in DB before, but I really want to know who she is. LOL Anyone know? I came up with nothing.)

So, yep...that's it. Been a crazy week in a lot of other ways, technology withstanding, but I won't bore you. Oh! I am doing well with NaNoWriMo though! I crossed the halfway mark of 25K words tonight. The story continues to be choppy and probably makes no sense, but I'm having fun writing it.

I love books. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Little things make me laugh...

...like looking at my the search history in the drop down menu of my Google tool bar. Today's contained such an amusing assortment of searches...


1. In order to blog this with the above image, I had to Google how to do a screen capture on my Mac because I do them so infrequently that I never remember how.

2. I think I'd like to take a family trip to Philly sometime next year. We live in the same state, but we've never been there. And I know there's at least one good yarn shop to be visited, as well as all that historical stuff.

3. I had a momentary vision of whisking my family up to Cook Forest for a short little getaway over Thanksgiving, since most of the rest of our family is abandoning us this year. But considering current budget issues thanks to the recent floor project, the unexpected new fridge, and -- as of today -- the unexpected new desktop (don't get me started), I think we'll just have a low-key, stay-at-home Thanksgiving as usual.

4. I was recommending a recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits to someone today on Facebook, and I couldn't remember where I'd seen the recipe originally. It was here.

5. and 6. I love doing different things with my hair. Most recently, I went darker and got deep purple highlights. The other night, though, as I was watching a fourth season episode of Psych (love streaming from Netflix!), there was a character named Willow Gimbley who was very, very goth, and she had the most WONDERFUL hair! It was shortish and very dark, with what looked like deep red swaths painted on segments down the one side. I LOVE that hair! I WANT that hair. Or something like it. I was trying to find a picture of the character online, to no avail. Perhaps a screen capture from the streaming video? Hm.

7. I have a bag fetish. My roomie at Spring Fling last year and a Tom Bihn bag that I thought was awesome, but pricey. Still, every so often, I go to the site and lust after it.

8. I wanted to see what day of the week January 1 falls on next year. I was hoping for a Monday. Alas, it's a Saturday.

9. I've often wondered at the purpose of dyers reskeining yarn after they've dyed it, as I've seen several of them mention it in blog entries. Honestly, after reading several of the pages Google returned to me on that search, I'm still not entirely sure. It seems to have something to do with providing a better representation of what the colors will look like, particularly in hand-painted yarns. Anyone know another reason?

10. Emma and I are both doing NaNoWriMo, which we usually refer to as "NaNo," as in, "How many more words do you need to write on your NaNo today?" The kids are doing chemistry this year, so Emma started referring to NaNo as "sodium nitrogen oxide" but she wasn't sure if that was really what "No" stood for. So I Googled it. Turns out that "NO" would be nitric oxide (or nitrogen monoxide), but "No" is actually the chemical symbol for Nobelium (atomic number 102 on the Periodic Table of Elements). So now we can more correctly ask things like, "How's your sodium nobelium going?" Um...yeah. ;)

And as a bonus, I'll share with you that -- had my screen capture search not kicked it off the bottom of the list -- the last item would have said, "Dell enter power save mode," because that is the message my desktop monitor has been giving me regularly lately. The monitor is new, so I knew it wasn't likely the source of the problem. After testing several theories that the Google search offered, I finally came to the conclusion that my video card is on it's way to being toast. I checked that theory with Kevin, and he agreed. My desktop is going on five years old, so it's not completely a surprise that it was going to need replaced sometime, but seriously? Now?

Granted, we could just replace the video card, but since there are other things that don't work well, or at all anymore on the old desktop (i.e. the media slots for the camera cards, the one CD drive, as well as several software compatibility issues), it seemed more prudent to spend the money on a new machine. So that's what I did today. I've got a brand new HP tower sitting in my office. Still in it's box. I'm trying to build up my motivation and stamina for the dreaded task of backing up the old machine before it dies all together, and then setting up the new one. I hate doing this with a bloody passion, but I'll be darned if I'm going to pay the Geek Squad a couple hundred to do it for me.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Color(work)...

We've been having some dreary weather this week. It seems the start of the gray days of a Pittsburgh winter are quickly moving in, and that means I have to find my sunshine from places other than the sky. Enter the joy of colorful yarn and fiber! Yeay!

Having my yarn and fiber stash in plain view has been having the effect I hoped it would when I bought those cubbies a while back: it's encouraging me to use more of what I have since it's now easier to see what is at my disposal. (It is not, I regret to report, discouraging me from buying more to add to the stash. I'm not sure what might have that effect. :})

After spending several weeks spinning over a pound of gold and rust BFL for a test knitting project I'd agreed to do, I really started to crave some color! So this week, I pulled this out of a cubbie and started spinning it up:


I think I bought this at the Homespun Yarn Party in Maryland back in 2009. (ETA: Nope...just looked at the pictures of what I got there, and this fiber wasn't among them. Not in my Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet pictures or Maryland Sheep & Wool pictures either. Mystery! Hm. I'm not really sure where it came from now! LOL) I was pretty new to spinning at that time, and my main criteria for buying fiber was color. If the colors grabbed me, it was good. That said, I have no idea what kind of fiber this is, because the only tag on it was a handwritten job that said "5 oz." and the price. So...it is 5 ounces of some miscellaneous wool (or maybe a random wool blend) in the most yummy candy colors! (The picture isn't doing justice to the colors. I'll get a better one in non-dreary daylight soon.) It's not the nicest fiber I've ever worked with, nor is it the worst. It's not super soft, but it isn't uncomfortably scratchy, either. I'm guessing I'm going to end up with maybe 300 yards of a DK or light worsted weight two ply when I'm done. Stay tuned!

In addition to craving color on my wheel, I've enjoying a tiny fair isle project that I'm designing as a gift. These three sock yarns aren't overly bright -- they actually fall more into the autumnal color scheme I've worked with a lot the past couple months -- but it's the process of colorwork knitting that I'm finding myself enjoying more and more lately. I've gotten better at it, but it still offers a decent challenge to me, so that is good.

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Select, Cabin Fever colorway; Sanguine Gryphon Bugga!, an unnamed brown colorway and Yellow Dung Fly.

I'll post a picture of my finished project after it's in the hands of its recipient.

In a non-fiber related topic, I've been keeping up with my 2,000 words per day NaNoWriMo goal so far! I'm not an advanced plotter, so I often have no idea where my story is going until I'm sitting down and watching it appear on the screen before me. This is a good, freeing way to write, but it also has, historically, caused me to back track and edit and change things as I go, which definitely bogs me down. This year, I've decided to take Anne Lamott's sentiment of a "shitty first draft" to heart and just not worry about it making too much sense. Thus, there is discontinuity galore. There some parts of the story written a couple different ways and I'll figure out later which way works best.

My ultimate goal for NaNoWriMo this time is to just write. This story may never see the light of day after NaNoWriMo is over, and for once, I'm OK with that! I realized this year that I think its been the expectation I've always put on myself to do more with my writing that just writing that has taken much of the joy out of it for me. Having been so immersed in writing communities for so long, where publication is at the forefront of everyone's minds, it's reasonable that that was where my mind was too. Now that I've been away from those communities for several years, I'm actually rediscovering the fun in the process again.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

From socks to novels...

So, you already know that October was Socktoberfest, and I was big into the sock knitting. Not only did I finish a pair I'd started in September as well as started AND finished the Socktoberfest Mystery Sock pair all in the self-same month, but I also started a pair of Halloween Riffs, which I finished just under the wire on Sunday night:

Woolen Mill St. Yarns, Superwash Merino, "Jack the Pumpkin King" colorway.

Sadly, they ended up being a bit too big for me, mostly in the heel (which is not snug like a normal slipped stitch heel, as they zigzag pattern is worked on the heel itself as well). But, as it turns out, they fit Emma perfectly, so she got an "accidental" new pair of socks!

I not only finished the month with three pair of socks, but the kids threw a wonderful Halloween party Saturday night for a bunch of their friends. It was great. My kids' friends are a really nice bunch, and though it was L-O-U-D here for several hours, they had a terrific time! So did I, because I dressed up, too.


My punk rocker look. ;) (And, yo, the purple highlights in the hair? F'real. I got them the day before because I've always wanted purple highlights and I figured if not now, when? LOL I love them!)


And I made cookies! I think decorating cookies for Halloween may be even more fun than my usual Christmas cookies.

And so now we usher in November, going from manically knitting socks to manically writing words. It is National Novel Writing Month, after all. This is the fifth time I've given NaNoWriMo a try. The goal is to complete a 50,000 word rough draft of a novel in a month. I've succeeded twice before. We'll see how I fare this year. Emma is doing it again this year too, so we're encouraging each along. Happily, I report that as of the end of Day 2, we are both on track with our words per day goals. (I've got my little word count calendar up at the top of the blog there...you can follow along and see how I'm doing. As long as no red days show up, any other color means I'm doing well!)

In addition to writing, though, I'm going to be in full on gift knitting mode this month. I started a new pair of gift socks yesterday...


This is the Spring Wind pattern, by Laura Linneman. It's written for a sport weight yarn, which means it is going to be a fairly quick knit. I'm using Enchanted Knoll Farms sport weight in the "Red Dirt Girl" colorway.

I'm also working away at my hand spun test knit sweater. It's going well, except for the fact that it is being knit on US 10.5 needles, which feel like tree trunks in my hands. But it should go fairly quickly since it is such a large gauge. So far, I'm happy with how my handspun is looking. Still crossing my fingers and hoping I have enough to finish it!

I haven't had time to work on my Caldavos anymore, and the other pair of socks I have on the needles were supposed to be for Emma, but since she just got those Riffs, I told her she was going to wait a bit for the purple ones. I'm going to focus on Christmas knitting for now. I really need to make a list of what all I need to knit for gifts. I know what they all are in my head, but somehow seeing them on paper always works out better.

And just for fun, let me share some recent yarn-y goodness I've gotten...


Some limited edition Briar Rose Fibers 100% cashmere, colorway #101. Oh my...this is so, so soft and yummy. It is going to be something pretty for me as soon as I have time to knit for myself. Probably a cowl, I'm thinking.

And here is something fun...


...some Twisted Limone Spicy self-striping sock yarn in the Sizzle colorway. Laura and Leslie -- The Knitgirllls -- have turned me on to this yarn. It's become one of those hard-to-get yarns that a lot of people are stalking. I'm happy to have snagged this ball at all, and check it out...


...it comes all the way from the UK! How fun is that to get a delivery with a "Royal Mail" postage mark on it??

Friday, October 29, 2010

Finished Mystery Socks

It's as the title states, so you've been warned. If you're knitting them and don't want to see what they look like when they're done, skip this post.

/spoiler alert

Ok, so the last clue came out last night shortly after midnight. I printed it out directly, with plans to take the socks with me to my hair appointment today and finish them there. Inexplicably, the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the living room at 1:30 a.m., kitchenering the toe of the second sock. I couldn't not finish them last night. And so they are done! Before the end of Socktober! I'm way more pleased about that than I should be, I think. :}


2010 Soctoberfest Mystery Sock; pattern by Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops; yarn by Needle Food, merino/nylon, Berry Fruits colorway.


Here's my project page on Rav, though I made no modifications to the pattern, which is rather odd for me.


Photos cropped in such a way as to minimize, as much as possible, the amount of late-fall pastiness visible on my legs. :P And thank you, depth of field, for adequately camouflaging the fact that I really should have shaved my legs before this photo shoot. (Sorry. TMI? LOL)

It's a shame that Needle Food, which was based in New Zealand, is no longer in operation. Their colorways were fabulous. I have one more skein of their sock yarn in my stash in Plumberry Ambrosia (a purple/green/blue colorway). I think I will hold onto it and savor it for a while.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Down to the wire...

Socktoberfest is quickly coming to a close, and as I'm waiting for the last clue for the Mystery Sock to be posted at (or around?) midnight Friday, I thought I'd take these moments to post a catch-up blog entry. I'll start with my mystery sock progress...

This is what it looks like after Clue #4. I've since finished the second sock up to this point as well. This marks a coup for me in this Socktoberfest Mystery Sock knitting challenge. In both of the past two years, I went gung ho on clues 1 - 3, but then when I got to the foot clue -- which always feels like the longest part of the sock to me -- I've petered out completely. I didn't finish my 2008 mystery socks until March 2009, and I didn't finish the 2009 pair until February of 2010. That I am on track to finish the 2010 pair not only IN 2010, but within the month of (S)ocktober, well, it's just a miracle! It's a Socktoberfest miracle! ;)

In other sock knitting, I'm still on the gusset increases on my second Riff sock, but I remain optimistic that I will also finish that sock before midnight on Sunday as well.

All of this tiny sock needle knitting is starting to get to my hands a little (ever since I've learned to knit continental when doing socks, I find my hands stay very tense as I knit, I think due to the tensioning needs of the finer gauge yarn), so I decided to cast on another project using US8s.

This is the start of the Caldavos cardigan, pattern by Thea Colman. Can I say that Thea is quickly becoming one of my favorite designers? I loved working on her Nantucket Red design earlier this year, and this pattern promises to be as enjoyable, as far as I can see. Her patterns are very well written, nicely detailed, and I love how she includes notes on how each person can best customize the garments to her own body. I know that is something a lot of us try to do anyway, but if you're a less adventurous knitter, or just aren't confident enough to make your own modifications to a pattern, having those notes within the pattern is a really nice feature. I'll keep you posted on my love affair with Thea and her Caldavos pattern as I progress through it. Right now, my focus remains on these two pair of socks, so it will still be a few days before I made major headway on this project.

And soon there will be another sweater in the works. I can't say a lot about it right now, as it is a test knit, but I will say it will be made from handspun...

This shot represents approximately 24 oz of BFL from Briar Rose Fibers that I (mostly) woolen spun to a heavy worsted weight. The yarn at the back half of the shot is all for the main body of the sweater. The foreground yarn in the rather mustardy shade is, tentatively, set to be the contrast. I'm conflicted, though. Something about the shade of that contrasting yarn just does not jive with the main colors. My other option is to use some Plymouth Tweed in a dark brown, which, colorwise, works much more to my liking, but the spin of the Plymouth yarn is very different than that of my handspun, so I'm not sure how it will look. I'm still toying with the configuration of colors for this project. I know the answer is there. I just need to wait for it to show itself to me. (The answer will not involve either over-dyeing nor buying and spinning yet more fiber, even though both of those options have popped into my brain.)

I will add that this spinning project has taught me one thing: I do not enjoy spinning heavier weight yarns nearly as much as I do lighter weight. DK, fingering...those I truly enjoy. Worsted, I don't mind. This heavier worsted? Meh. Not so much. And I'm just not sure why. I think part of it is because it seemed to take forEVer to spin enough to get the yardage I needed for this project. Granted, spinning finer yarns take a while too, but at least there is more yardage for the effort.

Lastly, a whim...
...crocheted spiral hexagons from leftover sock yarn. As evidenced in my yarn room pictures recently, I have a lot of little leftover balls of sock yarn. I've been hoarding them not only as decorative items, but ultimately to be used for this sock yarn blanket. Now, I love making mitred squares. Honestly, I do. That's often my go-to pattern if I have to make an afghan square or a dishcloth. However, the thought of knitting several hundred of those puppies out of sock yarn just really hasn't excited me, thus I never bothered to start the project. (Well, that and the fact that I already have an afghan WIP that I swore I'd finish before I started any more blankets, however I have this sneaking suspicion that I'm going to run out of yarn before the afghan reaches it's target size, so I've been ignoring it. Plus it's being knit on US11s, which pretty much feel like tree trunks in my hands. I'm not a big needle kinda girl.)

However, I started watching the Round the Twist videocast several months ago, and Carin often shows her little crocheted hexagons that she's making, presumably for a blanket (I'm honestly not sure, but that's my guess). I thought that was a fantastic idea! I'm not a very experienced crocheter, but I do enjoy crocheting on occasion. It's a nice change from knitting. So after the last RtT videocast, I pulled out my Crochet Stitch Bible, found a pattern for a hexagon that looked like I could handle and gave it a go. The next day, I made another one and seamed it to the first. Oh my goodness! These are too much fun to make! I can do them while I'm sitting here at the computer reading or watching something. Easy peasy.

After making the second one, I went and measured my bed, then I came back and did the math. I would need to crochet 1190 of these hexagons to make a coverlet for my queen-sized bed. If I make four hexagons a day, seaming as I go, I could have a coverlet completed in under a year. For whatever reason, that strikes me as incredibly doable. I know, logistically speaking, I won't make four a day, but it's still a goal to work with.

The biggest catch to this theory is that I know I do not have enough sock yarn leftovers to accommodate an entire coverlet. Each of my hexagons have used about 2 grams of yarn, which means I'd need the equivalent of nearly 24 100-gram skeins of sock yarn to finish the project. I'm quite sure my leftovers don't come to anywhere near that. Will need to consider how to beg, borrow, or trade for more, I suppose. But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The irony of it...

The other day, the Yarn Harlot wrote a post about how her sock yarn was pooling on a second sock instead of striping like it did on the first. She narrowed the possible reasons for this phenomenon down to: change in stitch pattern, gauge or stitch number. It turned out that she'd cast on a different number of stitches for the second sock than she had the first, thus the difference in how the yarn colors were behaving. She ripped it and started over.

When I read her post, at first I kind of chuckled because I thought, yep, I could see how that might happen, and then I felt her pain at having to rip back a half-finished sock. I mean, that's a lot of time spent and a lot of tiny stitches that are being undone.

Now, it is Socktoberfest, and I've been doing a lot of sock knitting. Finished one pair, working on three others. I finished the first Riff sock earlier this week, and it turned out really cute...


Note how nicely the yarn striped. (If this was a movie, the creepy foreshadowing music would kick in about here.)

I cast on for the second Riff two days ago and got about two inches into the toe. It looked different to me, but it was just the toe, and I figured it was plausible that the colors could play differently through the toe increase section. Tonight I continued on another couple inches and it was clear that the striping of the first sock was not happening. In fact, what I was getting was pooling.

Pooling instead of striping. This seemed so strangely...familiar.

Then I remembered...the Yarn Harlot's sock. So I thought about her reasons...pattern, gauge...nope not issues for me. Stitch count? I stopped and counted. I was successfully knitting 32 stitches per needle, for a total of 64. OK. I usually knit 60 or 64 stitch socks, so that seemed right. I knit a few more rounds. And then it hit me. I rifled back through the pattern to where it specified total stitch count after the toe increases for my size: 68.

Damn.

With a sigh, I ripped back to the toe, did one more round of increases and set off again. Voila! I've got striping as I did in the first sock. All I can say is thank God this is an easy pattern that I'm enjoying.

I can't help but marvel at how four little stitches can cause such a huge difference in the behavior of the yarn!

It struck me that perhaps I'd been subconsciously influenced by YH's post and that was why I made the same mistake she'd made. But then I realized, no. I made the mistake the day before I read her post. The mistake was mine alone. Still, it's so freaky that I made the same mistake to the same end that she did. Just so weird!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cubbies make all the difference!

Not baby bears. Not a baseball team from Chicago. These...


I've been in my new office/yarn room for a couple of months now, but I still didn't have it completely organized to my liking. Also, I hadn't yet decided if I wanted to try and put a bed in here, or a futon, or nothing, so that wall where the cubbies are remained empty and the room looked pretty funny.

Over the weeks, though, I've decided that I really liked having the open floor space. I could set up my ironing board in here, out of the way, or I could put mats down and block things in here. It was nice to not be squished because, frankly, we live in a small house, and we pretty much live in every square foot of it! To have some extra space and open floor, well...it felt like a luxury. So I decided to skip the bed and instead put in cubbies for more storage. That was what I really needed anyway.

So, now that the room is offiically DONE, let me give you the official TOUR! =)

(By the way, the rest of these room photos are linked through Flickr, so if you click on them, you'll go to the Flickr images where you can see the notes I've imbedded in the photos. The trade off is I can't get Blogger and Flickr to play nice, thus the photos will not center. Ok, now they're centering, but I've got line spacing issues. Sigh.)

Here we are, entering the room...

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...and the if you look to the left, you'll see the cubbies as they are in the picture above. Want a closer look at the cubbies? Sure you do! Remember, click through the Flickr images because I've got notes galore on what you're seeing. (I enjoy learning the details of people's living spaces...maybe it satisfies some deep, voyeuristic tendencies I have?)

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I love having all of this color and texture right out in the open! Today, after I finished arranging it all, I just sat on the floor, entranced. Chris walked in and asked, "Um, having fun staring at your yarn?" Why yes, I really was!

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My Loopy collection. :)
Turning again to the left, we come to the original book cases that were in the room...

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I originally thought I would have plenty of space for yarn in just those top three shelves in the left case. Ha! Didn't hold nearly as much as I needed them to. Now with the cubbies, I've opened up nearly an entire shelf (which I'm sure will be filled with something soon) and now I also have room to put my scrapbooking papers out where I can actually get to them and possibly even use them again (novel idea...I really would like to scrap occasionally again...it's been so long!). (BTW, tons of notes on the Flickr picture of this one! LOL)

As you turn to the left again, you will pass the room's door, which, when open, hides the closet. I didn't take a picture of that because, frankly, it's still kind of a disaster in there, but not quite as much as it was. Right now, it houses all of my batts and bumps of spinning fiber (the braids are all out in the cubbies! Yeay!), as well as fiber to be dyed and also all of the yarn I have up on my sell/trade page on Rav, or plan to put there soon. It also has my shipping supplies, boxes of pictures, a huge box of old journals, kali sticks, machetes and some sewing supplies. Yeah, quite a motley assortment of goods.

So! Turn to the left again, and we come to the dresser...

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Only the top drawer has any yarn in it now, though the top two used to have sock yarn in it. More than anything, I just love this piece of furniture. It was from Kevin's grandma's house and it is old and just has such charm and character!

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I love buttons!
If you turn to the left again, you've done a complete circle around the room, returning to my desk.

And then if you look down, you will likely find this at your feet...

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She really is not happy about this. She is probably plotting where
she will do something nasty that I will then need to clean up.