Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

I generally find myself being somewhat contemplative around the end of the year. Actually, I'm like that most of the time but at the end of the year, I have a better excuse. I like to start by looking back and noting how things went. I certainly learned a lot - like when the directions say to knit 5 inches before starting the decrease and you've knit 6 inches - you really should frog an inch even if you're on a serious knitting deadline for Christmas. You can see there results if you don't - a silly gnome-like top. So instead of frogging an inch, I had to frog the whole top! Silly knitter. The result was worth it - a nice rounded top that delighted the recipient.

Thankfully, I remembered a lesson from years past and didn't put too many things on the "must knit" list. There were just the two hats. The pink one was finished on the ride to the party where it was handed over, but it was handed over complete. (Unlike the year I gave my dad a hat with the needles still in the top - I explained that I wanted to get the fit just right).
I also tried something new this year - taking a quick inventory of my favorite projects for the year. I highly recommend that. I found the retrospective made me appreciate the projects even more. My short list includes:
green lace scarf for a friend
felted pink purse for cousin
ruffly baby hat for friend
little itty bitty hats for charity
My other big lesson for the year is that it is okay to frog a UFO. Not everything that is cast on is meant to be finished. It's like taking a ribbon off a kite and letting it fly higher.
Along with contemplation of the previous year comes contemplation of the coming year. Resolutions! My expert tells me they should be lofty but grounded. They should be defined with actions. So here are my knitting goals:
This is the year of cables. I have dabbled in them but now I want to embrace them. I want to understand them and be able to create with them freely.
Action: make at least three items with cables.
Stash collection: I wouldn't call it stash busting since I believe yarn should be collected as much as it should be knit. But I do want to free the yarns that would be better used by someone else to make room for ones I love. This is challenging for a natural-born collector such as myself. I cling to possessions - even useless ones. On some level I think it makes me feel comforted to have an abundance, but it gets to the point of choking me and holding me back.
Action: Donate unloved yarns to good cause.
Sweaters. I have yarn from Italy that is intended for a sweater. I knit a sweater once. It took forever and came out only okay. I have been unable to motivate myself to make another one since. My excuse with this yarn is that I have been unable to find the right pattern. I think I have it now.
Action: Knit the Sweater!
Organization. I have wonderful supplies scattered about the house. I can usually find what I need or I make do with what I can find. Wouldn't it be wonderful to know exactly where everything is?
Action: Clean up messy knitting drawers (again)
I'd love to hear about your lessons and resolutions!
May the coming year bring you many great knitting discoveries and joys along with enduring happiness in the rest of your life.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

My shopping saga has ended - it was long and drawn out. There were times I was in near tears, but overall, I would have to say I had fun. Not the least bit because I was out of the house while someone else had to deal with the nuttiness that is my family. In the end, there were two crucial presents that won't show up until after the big day. But, the good news is that I was able to find replacements for both for less money!

Now, my fingers must fly - I have one last gift on the needles. Will I be knitting on the ride to the party? Quite likely since tonight will be devoted largely to wrapping all those presents I brought.

I hope your holidays are going well and that your knitting is brining you more peace than angst.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

mail order snail order

I thought I would be clever this year and order most of my Christmas gifts on line. Skip the traffic, skip the congested parking lots, skip the crowded malls. It seemed like a good strategy.

But - you know how they say you have two of days to order to take advantage of the super saver rate and have your stuff arrive before Christmas? Turns out, that's not quite right. Of the 18 items I had planned to order, only 1 was expected to arrive by Christmas. My other option was to pay a gazillion dollars for two day or overnight shipping, which pretty much negated any savings I would have had from going to the store. Even to save time and money, I can't pay more for shipping than I would for the item in question!

So much for trying to be organized and on top of the game - I will be out there this weekend with the desperate procrastinators fighting for parking spaces. I can only hope that retailers' desire to dump stock will trump the consideration that shoppers are now desperate and will likely be willing to fork over more dough just to get what they need in time for Christmas! (You don't have to feel sorry for me - I really like to shop so I'm not horribly upset - just hopeful that I can find what I want at a decent price)

I did order one thing that I don't think I will find in the store. The expected delivery dates are Dec. 24th - 30th. This is for the 6yo. Do I:

A) take a chance that it will arrive but prepare a just-in-case note from Santa explaining that he couldn't fit all the toys on the sleigh and one is coming in the mail? or

B) buy an alternate present that I can return if the original arrives in the mail?

I never expected Christmas to become such a high stakes game!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brioche God Bless You

Is it Green or is it Blue?

My friend Allison mentioned that she was making a brioche scarf and it was like someone had said the secret word that set off a program inside of me: "must knit brioche." I'd looked at the hat in Weekend Knitter any number of times but it always seemed too complicated. Suddenly, it seemed doable. I won't lie - it wasn't easy. I had to start over several times until I finally got the hang of it. But once I got it, it was like the break through when I first got the hang of knitting. It was soothing and exhilarating all at the same time. And then it came time for the crown. I put up an honest fight, but it kicked my but! Once, twice, three times - still not looking right. I was ready to give up and knit in one color but something in me urged one more try. It was like when you look at those magic paintings where you have to cross your eyes to see the 3D image. It just made sense. The big problem, of course, was me and my inability to actually read and follow a pattern.
Now that I'm standing on top of the mountain, I will whole heartily say it was worth it. This is a fun hat to knit and it's warm - which is good since cold weather is headed our way.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The wonders of photo shop

The downside to having five children is that it is nearly impossible to gather them all into one room at the same time to take a Christmas card photo. It's gotten even harder as my older ones turned into teenagers who think it's lame, which is how they feel about most of what I do. I trapped them this year by taking them out to a restaurant to celebrate a birthday. After they'd ordered, but before the food arrived, I popped out the camera. There were a few groans but general cooperation - perhaps they knew the food might never arrive if they didn't comply. Getting them together was difficult, getting them to smile all at the same time proved impossible.

Thankfully, someone invented Photo Shop. And thankfully, I have a wonderful designer friend who knows how to use it way better than I do. And so we have, a nice family photo. Now for the part that I used to think was hard - getting the cards into the mail!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Knitter Spotted

This may be obscure for anyone without children, but others might recognize the show:
Fetch, Ruff Ruffman. It's a bizarre half animated/half real children's show on PBS. A cartoon dog sends real children out on missions during which they learn about the world. My children love it and I don't feel guilty letting them watch it.

So here's the knitting reference - Ruff Ruffman's grandmother was accused of sending her grandson (Ruff's naughty brother Scruffy who is in jail) a cake with a file in it.

Two children were assigned to work with the defense, two with the prosecution and two with the forensics lab.

Meanwhile, grandma knit her way through the show culminating with the miraculous act of knitting a sweater without needles when she was declared innocent.

Now, if they would haver Ruff take up knitting, that would really be something!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Aside from the fact that it might just be too small for the intended recipient, don't you think this hat is awfully cute? The best part is I had enough yarn! Yeah! There was even a little extra for the tassles! Yeah!

I do like the fun fur stripe - especially because it uses up a left over that I didn't have the heart to throw away but couldn't quite figure out what to do with. Here is what I learned from this project: I decided to do the fun fur accent in knit stitch with a garter stitch border on the top and bottom. It looks better with one extra row of knitting in the main color before changing to garter stitch.

I've already had requests for two more, but they're from the 3 and 6yo who pretty much want just about anything I knit.

The yarn is Knit Picks superwash - very soft and scooshy. Just keep in mind there's only around 100 yards on a skein, so you might need more than you realize.

Monday, December 01, 2008

hats off

Little baby hat = quick project, right?

Not so much, it turns out. This one is supposed to be pretty basic -knit two ear flaps, cast on stitches, knit away. Except that I decided I wanted to garter stitch the earflaps and first inch of the hat. It took way too many tries to figure out how to smoothly transition from knitting the ear flaps on straight needles to knitting the entire hat in the round.

And you know that little voice in the back of your head that whispers, this doesn't look right, it looks to small (or large)? Certainly you've heard that before. I ignored that little voice for far too many rows before reading the directions. I had cast on half of the stitchest I needed!

Then I decided it would be fun to add fun fur for a few rows. It was fun the first time, not so much the second or the third as I settled out which rows should be knit and which purled.

Finally, I'm cruising along. The brim looks great, the ear flaps match and...
(I'm sure you can see what's coming) I'm running out of yarn! It was such a little hat and it was a new ball of yarn so I didn't think to actually check the label and figure out how many yards I needed.

Tonight I will decide to a) order more yarn b) keep knitting and see if I make it or c) add in another color.

At the top of my Christmas wish list is a yarn measurer! I sent the link for one to dh so he wouldn't get confused. It worked with the swift and ball winder.