Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Down To The Wire....Or Past IT

So....I didn't get all my Christmas cards sent before we left for California, so today Theo helped me send out a few more


then watched while I shoveled the 3-4 inches of snow from our sidewalks and driveway.  Then I think he decided I was just completely crazy, because he left me for most of the rest of the day.  Taking advantage of the opportunity, I have kittyless pictures!  First, the finished scarf


the alpaca sweater with buttons,


which is a FABULOUS sweater.  I have already worn it about 10 times.  Love, love LOVE it!!!

Then......

Ta-da!  The December project of the month!!!!!  So far I have two wine bags and one little bag done, which I have managed to make a seriously bizarre shape which I attribute to sewing while under the influence of cold medication.  Same excuse for that last sentence.  The cold is STILL with me and is beginning to make surgery recovery look both pleasant and short.  I rested a lot yesterday that didn't really seem to help and I wanted to get my December bags done.  Largely because NOW I have used up 75.265 yards of material from the stash, which is more than I used up last year!  And as this is going to be the only big news for the 1009 stash-busting year, I just couldn't pass the opportunity up.

Tomorrow I hope to get the 4 remaining bags finished (they are partially done, just don't get to count until they are truly finished), then maybe get one more ball of yarn onto the tally before I begin the BIG challenge....

100 Projects in 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We Have Scarf!!!!

And it's even blocking without kitty assistance!  How did I manage this amazing feat?

It's on top of the ironing board!

Not that Theo can't or hasn't gotten up on the ironing board many, many times.  He is just unaware that there is knitting on top of it. 

Okay, I admit it....I REALLY enjoy it on those rare occasions when I can outsmart Theo.  It doesn't happen very often....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays!

We spent the holidays with family in sunny California, and at the last minute I decided to cast on an easy-to-do scarf to take with me instead of Andy's sweater, so I have this

 to show for my absence.  I'm doing a simple stitch--knit one row, then *K1, P1* across for the next row--which I really like because it makes an interesting reversible scarf.  I added a seed stitch border on the end & each side (3 stitches on each side) but the darn thing still wants to roll. I can't decide whether to be really annoyed with it or admire it's determination, but I'm hoping some severe blocking will help.

I took the lace scarf down as well, but there was one moment on the plane on Tuesday when I had the most horrifying thought:
I could run out of knitting

OK, I think this on every trip--which prompted me to take two entire sweaters along on my honeymoon even--but this time I was traveling and only had two scarves with me.  What would I do if I ran out of yarn?  I couldn't buy more--I'm cold sheeping!  The knitterly horror!!!!!!!

Of course, what I hadn't counted on is three children--ages 6, 4, and 2--who kept Aunt Toni so busy every day that I didn't get either scarf done.  (Those of you with small children may now scoff at my naivete)  So, today I am resting and trying to kick this dratted cold, sucking up to two lonely and angry kitties, and perhaps finishing one of those scarves.....................

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Knitting Rites of Passage

*  Deciding that the sport-weight yarn you found that you just love looks "small enough" for that lace-weight project you want to make.

*  Spending hours making one of your first sweaters for someone who will absolutely never wear it.

*  Presenting a mother-to-be with a precious, hand-knit baby sweater in a gorgeous yarn--only to have it meet it's death in the washing machine because no one with a baby has time to hand-wash anything except the baby

*  Not checking gauge "just this once" because you always get gauge and ending up with a cabled tent

*  Finding yourself with bags of the ugliest yarn ever that you just bought because it was more than 50% off

*  Creating the king of snarls before discovering that yarn in hanks must be wound into balls before knitting

*  Giving a knitted gift to someone (usually a relative) who feels the need to actually tell you that he or she doesn't like it

*  Discovering that you twisted the cable the wrong way at least 10 rows back

*  Working a lace chart only to discover that while you started the row on one chart row, you ended it on another

*  Trying to knit mohair on metal needles

*  Knitting mohair in general

*  Discovering that a cat can chew through your yarn in a surprisingly short time

*  Having a WIP that is so old you can either not remember what the pattern was to begin with or cannot locate the pattern

*  Starting at least one story with, "Back when I learned to knit......"

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Second Mitten Syndrome

So, I have one mitten.  Granted, it's one really LARGE mitten and both hands would actually fit into it, but I think it still only counts as one mitten.  I can't get excited about casting on the second mitten.  I think it's the idea of felting--or perhaps that it is 40 degrees warmer than when I started the mitten, and 40 degrees makes a HUGE difference even to someone as naturally cold as I am.  So, I have one mitten.  It wouldn't even work for a golf-club cover as A) I hate golf and B) it has that little white part for the thumb trick, and even I know that golf clubs rarely have thumbs.  I'm going to give it a week, and if I can't get motivated to make the second mitten, it's off to the frog pond for the poor thing. 

Why do I never have this problem with socks?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Do You Think Santa Is A Knitter?

I've been thinking about this--which probably has a lot to do with the amount of cold medicine I'm taking--but I'm thinking Santa probably isn't a knitter.  I could be wrong, of course, but look at the evidence:

*  Santa has reindeer.  If Santa were a knitter, his sleigh would probably be pulled by a team of alpacas.  After all, what yarn does one ever get from reindeer?

*  Santa gives toys, not sweaters.  A true knitter gives sweaters to any small children that she can, because children's sweaters are small and fun to knit, and are about the only time a knitter can try out bobbles

*  Not a single part of Santa's costume is knitted.  Not to say there aren't knitters who maybe don't wear knitted gloves or sweaters or other specific knitted items, but generally a knitter will wear SOMETHING knitted, if for no other reason than having run out of other people to give them to

*  If Santa were a knitter, I think he'd hand out really splitty yarn or badly-written knitting patterns to bad little boys and girls.  I mean, a lump of coal is fine, but what kind of psychological torture can a hunk of carbon really dish out?

*  If Santa were a knitter, he would NEVER have started putting gifts in stockings as they hung by the fire as he would know this would stretch them out dreadfully.

*  If Santa were a knitter, I wouldn't have had to spend my formative knitting years with nothing but Red Heart yarn to work with.

So I'm thinking it might be time to cut back on the cold medication, don't you????

Finishing Friday

You know it's a bad cold when I don't even feel like knitting.

Thursday night I woke up in the middle of the night to find that the cold I thought I had gotten rid of had returned and brought friends.  When I was still working, I admit that I wouldn't have minded so much--maybe a free day to knit and watch movies, but now it's just a big bother.  I have things to do, parties to attend--I even missed Finishing Friday!  Why is it exactly that we can't cure the common cold? 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Yardage Sprint

So my goals for the year were to use up 150 yards of material & 150 skeins of yarn, and while I am nowhere NEAR being close to either one, I realized that I was really close to using up more fabric than I did last year, so yesterday--taking a break from the holiday party marathon--I rounded up and finished this

which looks a bit like a circus tent, to be honest.  I really REALLY thought the material was nice & light and drapey until I tried this on....which incidentally left me with an odd craving for salted peanuts in the shell.....

BUT Andy likes it, so I can wear it around the house, which is fine.  I used up 3 yards of material on it, so one more project finished should put me over the 75 yard mark--leaving me halfway to my goal and at least better than last year.  We've reached the "grasping at straws" part of my goals....

I think I'm going to try felting the mittens--largely because it would involve knitting 1 mitten and not 2, but we're enjoying a sunny day that might reach 40 degrees, so mittens aren't quite as urgent as they were.  And in my normal "never learn one's lesson" approach, rather than viewing it as a chance to get ready for the next arctic wave.....

I have been working on Andy's sweater.  I decided to add 4 rows of the ribbing pattern from the sides on the bottom to stop the rolling (and probably should have used 6 because it really, really, REALLY wants to roll even now), but it's a nice easy knit that I can pick up and put down at a moment's notice, AND........the skeins of yarn have only 109 yards on them!  The first skein is now officially used up, and tonight we're going to dinner at one of my knitting protégé's home, so I'm thinking taking the sweater along would be okay.  YES?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Have I Said Lately That I Am Not-So-Much a Genius?

So, the mitered mitten pattern calls for a gauge of 4.5 stitches/inch, and knowing that I usually get 5 stitches per inch with worsted weights & size 7 needles, I opted to try size 8 needles.  I knit a little swatch, got out my ruler, found that I had just knit 4 stitches per inch, and said to myself, "Oh good, it will be just a little snug."

????????????????????????????????????


What happened???  A week ago I swear I could do basic math & count and everything.  We get arctic temperatures and I start talking about knitting pastries & think that somehow 4 stitches per inch is smaller than 4.5 stitches per inch.

I hadn't realized that when people mention a "cold snap" that it referred to what happens to the brain when it gets cold.  I'm going to take my monster-sized mitten and go relearn the alphabet while hoping for spring......

Monday, December 14, 2009

Have I Said Lately That Elizabeth Zimmermann Was A Genius?

Well, she was.  I'm doing her mitered mitten pattern

and you know what that little bit of white is?  It's her "thumb trick."  When you get to where you want the thumb, you take a scrap piece of yarn and knit 1/2 the number of thumb stitches with the scrap yarn, then put those stitches back onto your left needle and knit them with the main color.  When you're ready for the thumb, pull out that scrap yarn & you have the live stitches to pick up for the thumb.  NO CUTTING INVOLVED!  I have survived steeks and will eventually steek again, but it's hard to voluntarily cut one's knitting.  It's just wrong and while I know EZ would never tell me to do something that wouldn't work, let's face it--the woman was tougher than I am.  She seems to have faced steeks undaunted.  I, on the other hand, am completely daunted.  I have spent a large part of my life trying to make sure that my knitting and sharp objects never get a chance to meet, and that's a hard habit to shake.  It's like someone telling you that Velcro and lace scarves are a good match.  I mean, it's just a tough idea to accept.

My little sidekick is having sweater blocking withdrawals...

I took the sweaters away from him, but didn't have the heart to take the towel.  Since he missed most of winter last year because of the cast & rehab issues and has never been overly fond of cold anyway, but last week he would go out and sit in the snow for a bit--just long enough for some of the snow under him to melt--then when he would get up, it was so cold that the water on his little "furry breaches" would turn into icicles really quickly, and he'd come tearing into the house convinced that some bizarre ice monster was attacking his rear end.  Okay, yeah, it was seriously funny, but I think one can laugh AND feel sorry for him at the same time.  I think he'll venture outside again after the spring thaw....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Forget The Sweater, I'm Making Mittens

Tonight while Andy and I were shoveling snow in the relatively balmy 23 degree weather and my fingers were tingling with cold, it occurred to me that as a knitter, I could actually make myself some warm items that might make such activities a little more bearable.  

Amazed by my own brilliance--and that it only took me about 30 years for this to occur to me--when we came in I announced to Andy that his sweater was going to be back-burnered for a while because I was going to make myself a baklava.  Andy gave me the sort of quizzical look that one would normally give someone who had just announced that they were going to knit a very rich pastry, and about that time my brain unfroze and I remembered that the word would be balaclava.  Of course, Andy really wants to see me knit pastry, but I haven't yet ventured into the world of knitted food.  Not that there's anything wrong with knitted food--I just don't think it's going to do much to keep me warm. 

So, I'm going to dig through the stash tonight for yarn to make EZ's mitered mittens and perhaps this, and hopefully I can knit really, REALLY fast because there's more snow heading our way on Monday.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Started And......

Frogged.  Twice.

As soon as I posted yesterday, I dug out the yarn for Andy's sweater and cast on.  Knit two rows, checked gauge, WAAAAAAAY off, frogged.  Dug out needles two sizes smaller and cast on.  The gauge is fine but

You know how stockinette rolls if it doesn't have ribbing attached?  Well, the designer doesn't.  I was willing to give the designer and Interweave Knits the benefit of the doubt here since there is ribbing on both sides of the stockinette patch, but NO.  Like ALL stockinette, it rolls.  I have frogged it for a second time, and cursing all designers

I cast on a lace scarf instead.  NO designer to mess things up or not double check.  Just a stitch pattern I like, a nonrolling edging, and I'm a happy woman. And it's NEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So....I didn't have the cast-on frenzy I thought I would, and technically am only at 11 WIPS right now, and I might just finish this scarf before having another go at the sweater.  If I keep having to do all the work to make patterns work as they should, why am I paying for them?  Maybe 2010 will be the Year of the Scarf......:)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Drum Roll Please.........



Two--count 'em, TWO--WIPS done, leaving me with.......

ONLY TEN WIPS LEFT!!!!!!!

(I realize that for some, having 10 WIPS would be a reason to start a WIP marathon, not the conclusion of one, but I've chosen to be realistic)

I have met the Double Dog Dare Challenge!!!!  I'm down to 10!!!!!!  And I'm off to cast on something new........

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Greetings From the Arctic

In the past, I haven't liked mittens because one can't really DO things when wearing mittens, and as a slightly hyperactive child (*cough cough*) the restriction drove me crazy.  However, as we woke up to NEGATIVE 3 degrees this morning, I think I can get over this problem.  The cats won't even go outside this morning. 

Now I grew up about 2 hours north of where I'm at now, and we did get lots of snow and subzero temperatures, which has quite a bit to do with why I don't live there now.  Normally we here in Boise get to whine about it being cold when it's in the 30s.  This week our high temperatures won't even REACH the 30s.  What happened??????

The one bright side--Andy and I each have lovely alpaca sweaters that are so dang warm that we rarely wear them in normal circumstances.  Today I would be wearing alpaca underwear if I had it (sorry for that visual).  And I'm feeling better about the 3 or 4 sweaters' worth of alpaca I still have in my stash.  I had a bit of a spree when Elann introduced their alpaca yarns and I didn't realize how much warmer it was than wool, so I've been regretting all that alpaca just a bit.  Oh don't get me wrong, I wasn't going to swap or sell it or anything......it just would have been permanent stash.  Later today I will be browsing patterns to perhaps find some good candidates for it.  I think it might be best to keep some sweaters in perspective, because a few more days of this arctic stuff and I might really consider that underwear......

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mittens

If I were not on a WIP marathon, I would be casting on 387 pairs of mittens right now.  Normally, I hate mittens and have never bothered to knit any, but it's currently 8 degrees (Fahrenheit, or NEGATIVE 13 degrees Celsius) and frankly, it's time to rethink my mitten stance. 

Of course, I really shouldn't complain because according to Accuweather, while it is truly 8 degrees, the "real feel" is NINE degrees.  Well, break out the bikini!  Why even bother to say that?  (Wow, Martha, I wasn't going to go for that walk if it was 8 degrees, but since it really feels like 9, I just can't pass it up!)  How can it really feel one degree warmer?  I just shoveled 3 inches of snow off our driveway & sidewalk, and I'm pretty sure it feels like 8 degrees.  Maybe 5.  When I regain feeling in my cheeks I'll let you know.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Big "Hurrah" for Elann

I know I have raved about their yarn & customer service before, but yesterday I received an email from Elann.com saying they had credited my account for the skein of yarn--bought TWO years ago--that I just sent back.  In my letter, I had even told them that I could completely understand if it was outside their time limit for returns and that it really was more about letting them know about a problem, but one of the reasons I am a devoted fan & loyal customer is their commitment to customers, and it's nice to see a company that recognizes that little things can go a long way.  In reality, it was only about $5, but they could have stuck to a "policy" and said it was too late.  Instead, they chose to spend $5 to make a loyal customer happy--how many companies do you know that would make that choice?

Of course, now I get to go through an entire year of Cold Sheeping knowing that I have a credit at my favorite yarn source........uh oh.......

Friday, December 4, 2009

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled "Finishing Friday"

Tonight is our Christmas party.  ORIGINALLY, I had planned to make little mitten ornaments out of felt for all the guests. 

HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

Thankfully, foolish optimism seems to be a character trait most people find rather endearing.  Or they're just waiting to see what crazy thing I'll do next......

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And The Project of the Month Is.....

Gift bags! 

Or, more accurately, gift bags to be!  This is some home decorating fabric I found on sale one day, and I actually did buy it to make gift bags (since I buy so much fabric without ANY idea what I'm going to do with it, I'm always rather amazed when something DOES have a purpose......and downright shocked when I eventually remember what that purpose was), which it should work really well for.  I haven't decided how many bags I'll be making, but considering how many gift bags I give away, the more the better.  Of course, I'll need to fit it in with making more of these

which I just love.  Two have now found new homes, and I think we're going to need the other 3 for Christmas gifts (have to go back to my spreadsheet to check), so thankfully I bought enough material to make 10 more, as it looks like WE won't get one otherwise.  I have decided to alter the pattern slightly--namely to leave a hole in the bottom lining so I can stick the trim ends inside of it, as I really haven't figured out a good way to have the ends be visible.  Yesterday I tried letting the cord unravel (or not screaming when it spontaneously unraveled 2 inches when I cut the silly stuff) then splicing two cords together, but not only was THAT not successful, I'm still not ready to talk about it in a manner that is fit for the public to read.  I finally resorted to the glue gun--burning myself twice in the process just to round out the joyous experience--so I'm thinking a little hand sewing in the future will actually be a comparatively pleasurable experience.  And since the pattern said the trim was "optional" anyway, I'm thinking I'll be opting to send a couple of these babies out without trim.  I always feel bad about swearing when making a gift--like it somehow it won't represent quite the right "gift" spirit when I have cursed it repeatedly.  I guess we'll test that theory as the quilt is now in it's new owner's hands, and I think my cursing might have reached an entirely new level with that one. 

And....the front and back of the baby sweater are finished, and the first sleeve has been cast on! 


I'm this far--now I'm having fleeting fantasies about meeting the Double Dog Dare Challenge--that of getting down to just 10 WIPS--by the end of the year! 

Must. Go. Knit!!!!!!!