Sunday, December 31, 2006

my 2006 year end totals

2005 turned out to be my year for knitting big flat things that didn't require gauge swatches, so producing some actual sweaters and things that fit was one of my goals for 2006. I'd hoped to finish a sweater for each kid, but Alex wound up with three little summer tops. Leif got a pullover and two cardigans, Quinn got his Green Bamboo Cardi, and Heath got that camouflage raglan that makes everyone's eyes hurt.

I only made four pairs of socks -- two for Heath and two for me. One of my pairs was worsted weight anklets. The other pair was the stockinette Regia Jubilee socks that I finished over the course of two road trips. Socks -- pretty ones with cables and lace -- will be a priority for 2007!

Six scarves, fifteen dishcloths, two pairs of mittens, four pairs of fingerless gloves (and I still need to make something to keep my own hands warm), three hats for my own kids, eighteen premie hats that I need to send to the hospital, two stuffed animals, two bags and a box, a little shrug, a couple of little baby gifts...and I pieced two little quilt tops that need borders and backs and binding so they can do more than sit quietly folded in a drawer.

I finished a lot of little projects this year, none of them spectacular. The big projects that I did tackle are still on my needles, so I guess I've got a head start on some big finishes for 2007.

My favorite new knitting book for the year started out as Mason Dixon Knitting, which had no competition until I got my hands on Victorian Lace Today earlier this month. Now I'm torn. The lace book makes my heart go pitty-pat and my knees go weak as I fantasize about creating things like that with my own yarn and needles, but MD Knitting is such a fun read and has a bunch of projects I actually made. Trying to decide between the two is comparing apples to oranges. I know I bought some other knitting books this year, but they weren't nearly as exciting.

I learned how to make cables wander across my knitting (the Traveller Socks and the Cleo clutch) and, thanks to Bonnie for posting the link to the Knitting Pure and Simple baby cardigan, and Christine for telling me about the Incredible, Custom-Fit Raglan Sweater, I fell in love with the concept of top down raglans. I don't know if one would work for me, but for the kids, they're the best idea ever. I keep looking at sweater patterns that appeal to me and trying to figure out if I can take the details that I like and slap 'em onto a raglan.

Tomorrow I'll post my list of what I think I might knit in 2007.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

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I'm not planning to make more socks on the Knifty Knitter any time soon. It would've been much faster on dpns, and I could've made them a perfect fit. But it was a fun little challenge and now Alex has a pair of ridiculously thick slipper socks and I've used up what I think was the last skein of Wool Ease Thick and Quick from my stash.

I bought it, along with a blue skein, when I first started knitting and had some vague plan to make scarves for the kids. The blue skein did become a scarf with a cable down the middle, and the natural colored leftovers from the Learn to Knit kit that started this whole obsession wound up as a baby sweater that could stand up by itself. I don't expect to buy any more of it -- unless maybe I find two matching skeins dirt cheap. That sock pattern on the ball band intrigues me. I don't think I'd enjoy working on size 13 dpns, or that I'll ever buy a set, but the idea of thick, cushy socks in that shade of blue or burgundy is seductive.

I was up late last night working on the Endpaper Mitts and got an unexpected chance to work on them this afternoon and now I've passed that fine line that separates "this is really fun" from "I can't bear the thought of another round." I think I'm going to pull out that Alterknits Wrap and figure out where I left off.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Andrea called me brave. I'm not. I'd never volunteer to go nine months without buying yarn -- I'm just trying to make the best of an unpleasant situation. If I pretend that I want to knit only with yarn from my stash, maybe I can make myself believe it. At the very least, I can play with my pretty yarn and fabric and by the time this is far enough in the past for us to laugh about it, I'll have an actual need to buy more pretty yarn. I've got yarn for a ton of socks, and lace, at least five or six summer tops, at least two sweaters for each kid and myself...not to mention fabric for several quilts. This could be a lot of fun if I can keep from sulking about it!

Last night I finished the first Knifty Knitter sock. The loom set came with directions for making a hat. The sock pattern wanted me to do short rows, "just like in the KK booklet for flat panels." We don't have a booklet, so I guessed. I'm not sure if I did it right, but what I came up with looks enough like a sock to make me happy.

And I made some progress on my Endpaper Mitts --

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Happy Boy wanted to be up before the sun, so I worked on them early this morning and suddenly the pattern makes sense. I'm not holding the yarn right, but Pat said it was actually okay to drop my yarn and pick it up again with every color change, so that's what I'm doing. Rachel pointed out that knitting continental is lots faster, so I'm definitely going to keep trying until I can make it work, but for now I'll take any method that gives me decent progress.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Knit From Your Stash 2007



I don't want to do this. I have no urge to reduce the size of my stash. I want to knit with most of what I have, but I don't want to have less yarn. But it looks like we need to have a new well drilled and that's going to be expensive and I guess I've got to be a responsible grownup and quit spending money on stash. Yuck! I just hope I can start buying again when the nine months is up.

My rules:

1. Now through September 30, 2007
2. Inexpensive bits and pieces I need to finish projects are okay. That would include buttons, batting, backing, binding....
3. Interweave Knits and For the Love of Quilting are okay. Vogue Knitting might be, if there's really good stuff in it.
4. Knitpicks is sold out of the yarn I wanted to order myself for Christmas, so I'm allowed one Knitpicks order.
5. If the budget allows, I can buy one new knitting/quilting book for each 5 pounds I lose.

I'm still sort of drifting around the house, trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do now that Christmas is over and what I can do with no water.

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I did figure out how to turn a sock heel on Alex's Knifty Knitter. What I should do is pull out the WIPs I set aside to make time for Christmas knitting and get started on them again.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Does putting together a Hot Wheels Shark Park Playset count as a finished object for 2006? I really think it should because that thing had at least twenty little stickers and a bunch of plastic pieces and instructions that didn't include many actual words, just lots of frustrating line drawings and arrows.

That's how my day has gone, putting together a plastic roller coaster (which the two year old has now taken apart) and trying to get estimates for a new well. We're on our fifth straight day with no water and have already spent $300 to find out that there's no water in the well. Apparently the way this works is that you throw money at the problem until you either get water or starve to death and don't need it any more.

We have heat. We have light. My sewing machine is back from its checkup and they tell me it works just like it should. We've got a whole stack of new DVDs. And I've got a bunch of new projects I could/should/want to be working on. But I'm feeling too out of sorts to actually sit down and do anything more productive than playing around with the Nifty Knitter that I bought Alex for Christmas.

She loves the thing and has already made a hat. Apparently you can make scarves and bags and even socks with real heels. I know, just because you can do something with yarn doesn't mean you should -- but this is intriguing! RIght now, I'm using some Wool-Ease Thick and Quick for a baby hat. Alex's hat seemed to grow at an amazing rate, but mine is taking a bit longer.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I was going to go through and re-inventory my yarn, writing out on index cards what the yarn is, how many skeins there are, and what I think I'm going to use it for. I figure I can do it a box at a time, then organize the cards for stuff that doesn't have a purpose by weight or amount or something. I got the contents of one of my knitting bags done, then couldn't find the other knitting bag, the one with most of my favorite "good" yarn in it. I how it hadn't left the house....There's no reason it would have left its spot by the couch....But I looked other places and it wasn't in the sewing room...or in the corner of the dining room that I actually use as my sewing room.... The bag eventually did turn up in the kitchen. Empty.

My partially completed Mystery Stole was in there. The pretty yellow wool for my Rapunzel socks was in there. The Elann yarn for two summer tops was in there. So was a mesh bag with yarn for several pairs of socks -- but that turned up on top of my sewing table. I think I've got a vague memory of emptying the bag to use it for something, but I have no clue what I did with the yarn. And it's not any of the places that it would make sense for me to have put it. sigh

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Alex's hat is finally done! It's been my gas station knitting for a couple of months now, riding around in the pocket of my car door. I knit it top down with one skein of Knitpicks Parade and used some Kroy sock yarn for the ribbing and rolled hem. She likes it and I'm glad to have used the yarn for something cute.

I also made fudge today. Or something that resembles fudge. I've got a suspicion that there's really more to fudge-making than putting butter and chocolate chips and evaporated milk in the microwave, then mixing it all together and pouring it into the cardboard tray that came with the box of fudge mix. Whatever it is, it's yummy and has satisfied the craving that Alex triggered when she bought a piece of fudge home out to the car from karate last night.

And I'm making white chicken chili. Because it's the perfect food and every meal should be white chicken chili. The rest of the family does not agree with me. And no, I'm not pregnant. I'm just in the mood for white chicken chilli every single night lately.

I'm not sure if I'll work on the endpaper mitts or the lace tonight. Or wrap presents, which is really what I should be doing because Christmas is coming fast and I haven't wrapped a thing yet!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. This stranded color work thing is hard! I realize that my four little rows of colorwork don't even show up, but trust me, they're there. I think I even got all of the colors in the right places.

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I did a couple of baby hats back before Quinn was born, but I think I must've been dropping the yarn and picking it up again each time the color changed. That won't work for a whole pair of mittens, so I'm trying to learn to do it right.

Maybe it's because I'm left handed and don't hold my needles right or something, but my fingers don't seem to be long enough. It makes my hands hurt. It almost makes me want to give up the whole idea of stranded colorwork, but I want those pirate mittens even more than I want my endpaper mitts. So I'm going to keep trying.

I've also got one of those little feelings about this. At karate last week, one of the mothers sat down in the chair next to me and started knitting with the yarn held in her left hand. It looked so different than any of the knitting I'd seen before that I sat there looking out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure out if she was knitting or purling, telling myself it'd probably be rude to ask. But between what I saw her doing and a picture I found here have given me an idea of what I think I'm supposed to be trying to do.

It's slow. It's not even remotely comfortable. But I think it's working. I'll give it another try tonight.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I did cast on for my Endpaper Mitts and got eleven rounds of k1, p1 ribbing done before real life took over the rest of my day. I'm a bit closer to the fun-looking part, but I'm still not loving the yarn. Especially after looking at the yummy stuff some other knitters are using.

I'm going to try to get some more done this afternoon, before I'm totally overcome by the wonderfulness of what I picked up on the way to karate yesterday...



I almost waited to see if the library got a copy. I almost waited until I'd restarted the yarn diet and lost my next five pounds.

I can't believe I was almost that dumb!

I love this book more than A Gathering of Lace. More than Best of Knitter's Shawls and Scarves. It's the best bit of eye-candy in my whole collection of knitting books.

It was Grumperina's review that gave me the courage to order a copy sight unseen. Go look -- there are lots of pretty pictures that will do nothing to prepare you for the gorgeousness of the actual book. She pointed out how many rectangles there are in here. I can do rectangles! It's the increasing in pattern on those dumb triangles that keeps me from realizing my lace knitting dreams. But rectangles -- and not plain rectangles like my Cathedral Window Shawl or that feather and fan Euroflax thing I spent too much money on the yarn for.

It explains how to design your own borders...how to plan shawls with knitted on borders...because just in case I knit the 30some projects in the book that are screaming to me, I should know how to make up more of my own.

I've been mentally listing all of the laceweight in my stash, trying to figure out how much lace I can make.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I am going to do this!

I am going to start my Endpaper Mitts for the Stranded Colorwork Challenge today, even if I'm not totally in love with the yarn I dug out of my stash. Even if the blue skein had too many ends to it when I tried to wind it into a ball. Four extra ends is not necessarily a sign of moths, is it?

Even if it is, I'll be happier if I use the yarn for something than I will be if I shove it into the bottom of the freezer and let it haunt me for the next ten years. Alison did fabulous things with damaged Angora. I should be able to handle a few silly breaks. I don't even know for sure that it got hurt while it was in my stash. It could've come from the factory with extra breaks for all I know.

I will not panic and abandon my project just because I can't figure out the Italian Tubular Cast On. I Googled, I sat in front of the computer with yarn and needles, and now I'm going to try some other cast on because I can't figure out which hand is taking the yarn where. There are other ways to cast on. Ones that I actually know how to do.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's a good thing my Christmas knitting wasn't tightly scheduled because there's been very little knitting in my house for the past four days. There's also been a similar lack of light, heat, and running water. I'm still feeling cranky about the whole miserable episode, and thoroughly ticked off at certain people who told me to stop being so cranky. That's easy to for someone who isn't wrangling babies by firelight or hauling water up from the stream to flush the toilets with to say.

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The lasting damage isn't too bad, I guess. We lost a bunch of shingles and one thirty foot oak. If we absolutely had to lose one of the big trees, at least it was one that didn't land on the house or van or barn. But it still makes me sad that something so massive and beautiful can be pushed over by the wind. Between the wind and the idiots who look at big trees and see free firewood (I've got the ugly evidence of that on the far end of our property), it seems like a miracle that there are any trees left.

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This is the project I was all excited about on Thursday night. I was going to write an entry about how easy it was to modify a baby sock pattern into the Christmas ormant I've had in my head since last year but never got to make. And how it's my project for the December Whodunknit? book.

My enthusiasm got lost in the dark and cold somewhere. But the copy of Victorian Lace Today I ordered is in and I should be able to pick it up tomorrow. That'll bring it back!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

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I've started a more subdued pair of Target Wave Mittens for my sister's Christmas present. The colors are her and it seemed like a great idea until I finished the first one. They don't look that impressive just lying there without hands in them.

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Guess I'll have to hope that she gets the full effect by putting them on right away.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Quinn's Bamboo Cardigan is done! Finishing that last sleeve took less than an hour and would've been faster if I'd written down what I was doing with the decreases before setting the project aside for a couple of weeks. I've got to start taking more notes, especially when I'm making up the pattern as I go along.

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I had three skeins of Wool-Ease that was left over from a cabled sweater I made for Heath a couple of years ago, and this used up almost all of it. There's enough left to add stripes to a baby hat or pair of socks, but not enough that I have to worry about making productive use of. Feels good, since I didn't know what I was going to do with the stuff.

The pattern is my own creation, using two stitch patterns from the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary, Volume One -- Garter Ridge Rib on page 8 and Big Bamboo on page 28. Where the pattern changes, I had to increase a bunch of stitches because Big Bamboo pulls in so much more than the Garter Ridge Rib. The whole thing came out thickly textured and is very stretchy, perfect for a toddler sweater.

It does tend to pull open and I don't want buttons, so I'm trying to think up an alternative....toggles or something...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I got those seams sewn and the ends woven in and it feels really good to have those projects completely done. I've got one more pair of mittens that have to be done before Christmas, and then I can forget all about the calendar, at least as far as my knitting is concerned.

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The fluffy scarves and fingerless mittens are for my new nieces. It's my own pattern, which I came up with after realizing that since I had something so specific in mind I could make it up myself faster than waiting for a bunch of online patterns to download while I searched for the right one.

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The ballband warshrags are for Dad, who I hear has been buying dishcloths at the craft co-op down in Arizona.

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And these are for my Grandmother, who spends a lot of time in her drafty antique mall or searching auctions and estate sales for furniture. I'll be knitting a pair for myself soon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I was going to post about the Alterknits wrap and how even though I'm still totally in love with it, I'm intimidated by its size. Then I noticed the date and realized that it was past time to start my Christmas knitting...so I've been meaning to post about the fuzzy novelty yarn scarves and little fingerless gloves and ballband warshrags I've finished over the past few days, but I can't quite work up the enthusiasm to weave in the ends and lay them out to take pictures.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

16 cute little hats

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I was sure my total was eighteen until I laid them out for the picture. Either I lost a couple or I can't count. But none of the little hats seem to be missing, so I guess it's my math skills. I did knit one before the KAL started, which doesn't count towards the total, but that only makes seventeen.

Knitting these was a lot of fun -- and I'm surprised at how many vivid memories flashed into my mind while I sat curled up in the corner of my couch making tiny little hats. One skein of yarn, which I didn't wind up using because it wasn't the right fiber or gauge, smells exactly how it did when I was knitting those grey gull socks in my hospital room last Christmas. I can't figure out exactly what the smell is. Not a hospital room smell, because that can still send me into a sick panic. I think it's a combination of the stuff that was in my knitting bag and bedside drawer.

I used up some stash yarn and tried out some new stitch patterns and played with different color combinations. I'm so pleased with some of the results that I plan to make larger versions for my own grown-up premies. I'll be doing this again next year, hopefully without all the emotional baggage.
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