Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday Knitting, or How To Tell When A Knitter Has Lost It

First off, I have to say to Lisa- I'm sorry. I totally lied about how far along I was with the holiday knitting. If it's any consolation, I was lying to myself too.

See, this week I've been making Christmas lists, searching out things I've made or found earlier in the year, and noting down the things I plan to shop for. And then I figured that I really should add in all the knitted things on the list, which I totally didn't think I really needed to do, because hey, I've had Christmas knitting on the brain for ages, all except the oh, one or two..ah, eight or ten, ideas I had in September and October and thought would be cool to add to the list. You know, since I was so far ahead and had all this extra time.

And then I started jotting things down and noticed...oops, I have the yarn for that but haven't actually cast it on yet, and wait a minute...surely I was going to knit something for this friend at work? and the next thing you know... well, take a look:
total planned: 18
complete: 8
can be let slip post holiday: 3
must complete by 12/25: 7

In my own defense, there were a few things I *knew* wouldn't be Christmas knitting- the sweater I'm making from all of that blue sport-weight yarn that I dyed being the best example. But still... once again, my ambition appears to be getting the best of me!

It's also perfectly clear that while I will easily be able to make my 100 projects for the year, I really need to abandon all those quick hats and mittens (unless I can somehow sub them in for more time consuming ideas that were on the list...) and work exclusively on holiday projects if I'm going to have a hope of completing (most of) what I have planned.

To that end, I have put nose to knitting needles and completed a sweater, destined for one of my small nephews:
brown and tan colorwork kid sweater

However, my newfound resolution did not stop me from going down to hang out with some of the folks from my local knitting group who were having a charity knit-a-thon.
I finished another hat from the new yarn I got last week, and unloaded on them some of my accumulated charity knitting. Lynne has posted some photos of us knitting away.

After cleverly bringing my camera along so I could take an FO shot of the new beret, I discovered that the camera's memory card was still in my computer. So Cindy kindly loaned me her camera and modeled the hat for me:
Cindy models my beret

Now I'm working on the next thing. Hampered somewhat by having misplaced the notebook where I cleverly wrote down some vital information about people's sizes. On the plus side the search turned up a knitting book I misplaced a couple of months ago, and have been looking for on and off for weeks. Of course now that I've found it, I don't recall exactly why I was looking for it. I did find the sweater pattern I intended to use for the other nephew...after reflecting long and hard about the pattern booklet, and how much I liked it, and how many sweaters I've knit from it, and how it should be a cinch to find because I had just....knit the green Aran out of the same book, and that's why it's not on the shelf, the Aran's still not done. Oh.

So, I'm not completely whacked (yet) because I still realize that the remaining list is still on the ambitious side, and I've earmarked some things that if they're late (which I hate but never mind) won't be a crisis. But still. Wouldn't it be nice if they were all done in time? Just imagine. I'll be over here knitting obsessively....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Do Cats Like Catnip?

This afternoon was the local weekly knitting group, and we had a new attendee. She had emailed our list earlier in the week saying 'I'm moving and need to get rid of some yarn, would anyone be interested?'. Interested? Do bears live in the woods? Do southerners drink sweet tea? Heck, sure!

So today she showed up with a large bin of yarn, and there was something that resembled a very polite shark feeding frenzy. But efficient...we emptied that bin in nothing flat, divvied it up in an entirely amicable fashion, amidst profuse thanks.

It was all bulkie weight and mostly in colors suitable for unisex hats and mittens. (Yay!) Here's my haul.
new yarn!

I was so excited at the though of knitting a hat that was neither pink nor yellow, I had to cast on right away:
blue ribbed hat.

This may have set a new record for 'shortest time between a skein of yarn entering my house and being turned into an FO'. Clearly, this new influx of yarn is going to be a great help in inflating my project count.

And in other news, I finished the second pair of kid socks yesterday:
more teeny socks

Progress is being made!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Small Progress

While it got off to a slow start, my plans to do small fast projects are proceeding apace.

Exhibit A:
kid socks

Socks for my nephew, the first pair made from the yarn left from the socks for their dad. They are so darned cute, I can hardly contain myself. However I'm not going overboard with itty bitty socks, at least until I know whether the boys will actually wear them. You never know with kids. But I don't regret doing a couple of pairs, if only for the entertainment value.

Exhibit B:

Mittens for the charity bag. The mittens need to be turned in at the end of the month to be distributed with holiday baskets in December, so I need to finish as many more pairs as I can before then. What makes it awkward is that this will be the same time I need to mail packages to be sure they get there for the holidays. We'll see how that goes.

There was supposed to be an exhibit C, but I'm still looking for that round tuit...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Great and Terrible

The ground trembles with the impact, as the hideous monster leaps into the center of Kingsport. Buildings are pushed off their foundations, cars thrown aside and freight cars overturned.

He stalks the streets of the city, towering above the tallest buildings, looking for prey. His mouth opens, gleaming white fangs sharp and glistening. He lets out a mighty--
Cookie stalks the streets

"Cookie! No!"

--high-pitched squeak as giant hands lift him off the model train set.

"No prowling on the train layout."

Mighty Catzilla slinks off into the shadows, thwarted for now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Caught in a Sock

It's late June. The sun soaks into my shoulders with an almost physical pressure. The air is hot and still, even the sky a little faded with the brightness. An intermittent gentle breeze stirs the leaves. The hum of crickets blends with the hum of high tension power lines, and little puffs of dust come up under my sneakers as I climb out of the car.

We each take a plastic bucket from the pile, at once worrying that we haven't brought enough and laughing at our own ambition. Even from here we can see the clusters of blueberries on the higher bushes. Across the road, a thick tangle of blackberry bramble shows a mixture of ripe and unripe berries, clustered on branches surrounded with wicked thorns.

My mother heads for the nearest bush and starts picking right away. My sister wanders off with her own bucket, and I climb the rough track, looking for the thickest clumps of berries. I pause under a pine tree near the tumbledown stone wall, enjoying the shade and the smell of sun-warmed pine needles. But berries don't grow in the shade, so I pick a wild wintergreen leaf and move on, crumpling it between my fingers to smell the fresh scent, then chewing it a couple of times for the flavor, and spitting it out before the underlying bitterness overwhelms the mint.

Back in the sun, I find a thick clump of blueberries and start picking- setting the bucket between my feet and crouching down to harvest berries from the ground-hugging bushes. Even picking as fast as I can, the two-quart bucket fills agonizingly slowly. I take it back to the car and trade it for an empty, and go after blackberries. Others have tramped paths into the heart of the thicket, and I follow in their steps, carefully moving branches aside. This is why I wore long pants despite the heat. The vicious thorns still draw blood as I pass, but the scratches are minor. Down by the little trickle of water that flows through the heart of the brambles, the berries are biggest, as large as the end of my finger. The bucket fills quickly.

I return to picking blueberries- by now feeling overheated and tired. Before I've quite filled the bucket, my sister is sitting down in the shade looking flushed, and my mother is putting covers on buckets. She's picked more than my sister and I put together. I finally sample a few blueberries and wish I could have picked faster. The sweet fresh taste fills my mouth. Once home, we'll make muffins and cake and pie, and put berries in the freezer, so in the middle of the snowy Maine winter, we can enjoy pancakes filled with summer.

Maybe it's because they also live in Maine, but when I took a close look at this skein of Frolicking Feet Sock Yarn from Done Roving Farm, I knew they'd captured a cherished little piece of my childhood in yarn.
close-up of yarn

The colorway is Wildberries, and it's extremely apt- they've got the dusty blue of low-bush blueberries, the darker navy of the high-bush variety, the deep purply-black of blackberries and the deep red of the not-quite ripe, glowing together in a perfectly luscious sock yarn. (None of the photos really do it justice.) I know I'm pretty easygoing in the yarn department, but this stuff is just beautiful--lovely brilliant colors and incredibly soft to the touch. And it comes in 480 yard skeins, which is marvelous when you consider how many large-footed people I knit for.

Except that I'm going to have to find a nearby shop that carries it and get more before I'll be able to use it to knit socks for anyone else. Because these socks are mine. In the middle of winter, I'll wear my berry-picking socks, feel the sun on my shoulders, smell wintergreen and pine needles, and know that summer is coming.
Berry-picking socks
The sock pattern is Stansfield #10 from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


One of the nice things about the 100-projects challenge is that it's motivating me to tackle some things I've been meaning to do for ages and haven't gotten around to. Take curtains. Way back in the mists of antiquity, I graduated from college, found a job and moved into my first apartment. It was in a converted Victorian house and it had enormous tall windows. This was just as well, since the windows faced north and the yard was very shady. As it was, I didn't see a lot of daylight. Nevertheless, modesty demanded that I either hang curtains, embrace exhibitionism or figure out how to change in the closet. I opted for curtains.

Following longstanding family tradition, I made the curtains from sheets. (Buying sheets on sale is one of the cheapest ways to get large durable pieces of fabric, if you aren't overly fussy. And they often come in a wide range of prints these days. And have many options for recycling...I still own a couple of pairs of pajamas and a robe made from the sheets/curtains that hung in the house I grew up in. (Mom, you didn't read that.)

Why are we visiting the mists of antiquity, you ask? Well. Those self-same curtains I made for my first apartment, I also used in my second. And then shortened them for my third. And then retrimmed some of them with a blue ribbon for my fourth. Along the way, several of them were rendered redundant (by fewer windows in the later apartments) and recycled into petticoats for a long dress, an undershirt for laced costume tunic, and various other odds and ends. The last few of these venerable articles continued hanging in my house until this week, over two decades later, still valiantly protecting passers-by from being flashed by my middle-aged flab. Specifically- in the bathroom and dining room. See:

However, the time has come to retire them. I also targeted for disposal with extreme prejudice, the dingy torn ruffled curtains in the kitchen, that came with the house. They weren't really my style to begin with, and their condition has deteriorated from pathetic to downright embarrassing.

So, whilst meandering through my mother's fabric stash last week, admiring her latest quilts, she pointed out some fabric she had no use for, and asked if I'd like some. I looked. I saw curtains. Free curtains, my favorite sort. Curtains that would not look out of place in the dining room. See:

However the bathroom was a little more problematical, thanks to a long-departed builder who chose country pink fixturing and tile. I don't actually like pink that much, but since I'm stuck with it, I want the curtains to not clash horribly. Do you know how many colors clash horribly with country pink? Lots and lots and lots... but my mom miraculously had some fabric (more sheets) which she'd used for her own bathroom curtains. With enough pink in it to look reasonable, but some other colors to tone down the overwhelming pink-ness of the room. And so:

And for the kitchen which has kind of off-white and beige counter tile and darker floor tile, the same fabric as the dining room was a good match. (The flash washes it out a bit- the color is kind of a warm brown.)

Cookie helped sew, by which I mean he walked on the fabric, attacked it when I moved it, and dove underneath it to ensure there was nothing hiding under there. Then sat down on it to have a good wash.

I don't know how I ever managed to sew without his help!

And, lest you think I've forsaken knitting this week, I assure you that I have not. Of course it's not the numerous mittens I'd planned, largely due to wanting something ultra-portable for various activities and then never quite getting a round tuit when I was home, but they are indisputably an FO- more plain socks in one of the self-patterning Trekking yarns.
blue-gray socks in Trekking

Notice that I have for not the first time-- and completely by accident!--managed to break the yarn in the right place to get a matched pair. I swear I have no idea how I keep doing this. I was four inches into the second sock before I realized.

And that was actually the second pair of socks finished in the last week or so- I'll show you the first pair presently, but they need better light to photograph them.

All in all, a good start for November on the FO front. Now I just need to keep up my momentum!