Friday, December 31, 2010

The Home Stretch

It's been a pretty busy year, trying to keep up with Toni and her crazy hundred projects goal. It's possible I should have remembered that I mostly knit, and knitting is a slow craft...but you're wondering if I made it or not, aren't you? Well, as of my last post, I had completed project 94. Here's project 95, another pair of mammoth woolly house socks:
mammoth woolly house socks

And since I was flying through the bulky weight, I cast on right after that for a pair of heavy men's mittens:
men's mittens

But I was starting to run seriously short of time, and after carefully looking at all my WIPs, I concluded that none of them were close enough to done to finish without giving up on the hundred project goal. Since I've got just a teensy competitive streak, I abandoned them all with scarcely a second thought and started casting on small mittens just as fast as my little fingers would fly. That brings me to 97 and 98, a pair of 4-year-old mittens and a pair of infant mittens. I was particularly pleased when I realized that if I knit the infant mittens in the round, I could do a three-needle bind-off at end and not have any sewing at all!
more mittens

Number 99 needs a bit of explanation. My sister Kate very kindly made new curtains for my husband's office and my sewing room for Christmas. Not knowing how we'd want them to hang, she included a bunch of coordinating ribbon to make curtain ties. I loved the lace curtains in the sewing room just as they were--see:
Kate's awesome lace curtains.

But my husband wanted his tied back- they're a very handsome blue, but thick enough to block a lot of the light. So I trekked over to Jo-ann's today for some rings for the ends, and then sewed ends and rings for the ties:
curtain ties

And then hung them all up. Cookie inspected them closely and has pronounced them good. (Actually he just sniffed them a lot, but it was an approving sniff.)
Cookie inspects the new curtain ties

And last but not least...I couldn't possibly come so close and then miss by just one project! So despite having woven in ends on No. 97 this morning, and completely knit No. 98 and done the sewing for 99...well. What's one more pair of mittens?
yet more mittens
(See, they're waving Happy New Year!)

So. Whew. That's a lot of craft projects. I couldn't resist crunching a few numbers. The breakdown by crafts:
Knitting: 90 (!)
Crochet: 4
Carpentry: 2
Sewing: 4

Types of projects:
Mittens: 40
Fingerless mitts: 7
Gloves: 1
Socks: 19
Sweaters: 6
Hats: 18
Headband: 1
Scarves: 1
Cowls: 1

None of these numbers especially surprise me except for the socks...I hadn't realized there were so many. And five pair were in worsted or bulkie weight yarn...but all the rest were fingering weight. I'm starting to see why the last four pairs I have in the queue didn't make it for the year.

I've had a lot of fun with this, and it's certainly true that having a goal has pushed me to do more. However I don't think I'll be doing it again in 2011. I have some non-craft projects that haven't really moved this year, in part because of the craft focus. And the goal pushes me to do more small projects--which would be fine, except that I have two sweaters in process and six more in queue that I'm anxious to knit. Which is not to say that if I find I'm still in the running at the end of the summer, I might not decide to play again. I do tend to have small portable projects on the needles even if I'm working on a sweater at home. But right now it's not looking very likely.

Happy New Year and happy crafting in 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Decision Time

So Thursday when I realized that my socks-in-progress were an annoying commute away, I had to decide what to cast on next. I'd recently seen a photo of French Press Knit's Breckenridge Cowl, and thought it was a nifty idea for a small project. But I didn't have the recommended size needle and decided I'd just cast on for something vaguely similar, play around with it, and see what happened. So Christmas Day I finished this:
cabled cowl

Even waiting for natural light, this yarn does not photograph well. But I'm rather pleased with the cowl- it's loose enough to tuck your chin into, doesn't bind around the throat, and quite soft. And unlike a scarf, doesn't hang down, get in the way, or fall off.

And so now I'm right back where I was Thursday plus one--94 FOs and I need 6 more before the end of the year to finish the hundred projects challenge. And the tulip scarf isn't going to make the cut, I'm afraid. I've been knitting on it off and on for two days and it's less than half done. I could likely finish it this week...but not along with five other projects. Time to haul out the yarn and cast on something new. Something quick. Something in super-bulky yarn! Excuse me, gotta knit now.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Family gathered, food eaten, gifts opened, and for an extra special gift, our new kitty Biscuit came out from under the bed and let me pat him. And tomorrow we have nowhere we need to be and nothing we need to do--and a weather prediction for 6-10 inches of snow. A perfect Christmas weekend! Hope yours is being just as lovely.

Cookie got lots of presents- we're doling them out over time to avoid toy overload. He has given his new catnip mouse a test drive and pronounced it excellent:
Cookie checks out new toy mouse

And my 'secret' projects have gone to their recipients...both pairs of socks (it's been a big year in socks). Here are socks for my mom, in yet another self-patterning sock yarn. My mom admired them at an early stage of production and so I saved them aside for her:
beige isle socks (They were project #65, so it was a while ago.)

And here are the mammoth woolly house socks I made for my sister. She was hoping for toasty warm socks and lost no time in putting these on. Super-bulkie yarn, so they're extra thick and cushy.
Mammoth Woolly House Socks

And I did cast on a new project Friday and finished it on the drive home, but I need better light to photograph it, so that's a post for another day.

Merry Christmas, all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Knittus Interruptus

So, we've had a few interruptions to the knitting marathon. In the 'foreseeable' department, there have been Christmas cookies:
cookie baking

Quality control testing is currently underway. I'm confident that the cookies will eventually meet with the panelists' approval. I'm just not sure that there will be any left by then. Fortunately, I've made lots.

In the 'known possibility but not confirmed until this week' department, we have had a another happy event. Well, at the moment it's more like an unhappy event, hiding under the bed. However we have hopes that the newest feline member of our family will eventually be convinced that this strange new place is not filled with horrible cat-eating monsters and come out to be photographed for the reading public.

And in the 'completely unpredicted but all too possible' department, the socks have fallen completely off the knitting schedule due to me leaving them at work. Clearly, they are intended to be post-Christmas socks. C'est la vie.

So my Christmas to-do list has suddenly dwindled to wrapping the last few packages, doing one or two other things in the kitchen and enjoying my day off tomorrow. I think I can handle it. So I've been knitting the tulip scarf and looking at the yarn stash thinking...well, I've got a whole day...I could cast on for something quick....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Seven Ways to Know You Haven't Had Enough Coffee

1. You get to the coffeepot for the third time...and realize you've forgotten to bring your mug for the third time.

2. The fire alarm maintenance guy tests the alarm and your first thought is to say, "Go 'way and lemme sleep."

3. Knit 2, purl 2 seems challenging and complex.

4. You get an email proposing the family get-together be held on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day and immediately start wondering if you should pull an all-nighter to finish holiday knitting. (Then you get a grip, remember that everything on the A-list (stuff it is reasonable to finish) is done and you're working on the B-list (stuff that is ludicrous to think will be done but I'm trying anyway. Note that my family doesn't expect's my very own brand of crazed goal-orientation at work.)

5. You put coffee in the filter to brew a new pot, put the empty pot on the burner and forget to press 'brew'. (Fortunately this was not me, but one of my co-workers. I was the one who came along in time to rescue the empty pot before it broke.)

6. You finally remember to actually pour the coffee, and then set your mug down somewhere and have to ransack the building to find it again.

7. You start thinking this list ought to be called "Seven Reasons to Think You May Be Drinking Too Much Coffee".

8. You find yourself staring into the computer monitor and can't remember what you were about to do.

9. You discover that you have forgotten how to count to seven.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tulips in December

I tried to see if there was anything I could say about the just-finished Top Secret project, but the Christmas Censor (tm) software left me only with words like "knit" and "FO". You can assume that was yarn was involved and come back on the 26th for the medium-sized reveal. (A big reveal would involve something like a 747-cozy, and fortunately I don't know anyone who owns a 747, let alone have this hypothetical person on my Christmas list.)

So. The next project. Back in June when I was in London, I made a point of stopping by iKnit, a charming yarn shop a short walk from Waterloo station. I went in search of souvenir yarn, and specifically wanted a UK yarn, something I didn't necessarily see everywhere at home. After lengthy consideration and fondling of skeins, I settled on a yarn--Rennie Handknits lambswool, made in Scotland, in a nice cheery yellow. Just the thing for a scarf to brighten the depths of winter and remind you that spring is coming, don't you think?
Tulip scarf

Continuing with the spring theme, I'm using a lace pattern called Tulip Time, which I unearthed from an ancient folder of patterns. I'd gone in search of this pattern specifically, but had not recalled that it's a top down pattern..I'd always planned to knit the two halves of the scarf separately (so the tulips will all hang right-side-up), but with the top-down design, it's even easier--I've just done a provisional cast-on in waste yarn, and can knit half the scarf down, and when the first half is done, take out the waste yarn and knit the other half. Much easier than grafting!

It's moving a bit slowly, so it's hard to say when this will be done. It's for someone I won't being seeing before the holidays, so I may bump some faster-moving projects ahead of it. Speaking of which, knitter cannot live by lace alone (there are times when the constant counting to make sure you haven't added or subtracted a stitch aren't practical), so I am also working on more socks:
garter rib socks

A simple garter rib, and I'm nearly to the heel, so these are moving along. I'm done speculating on what will or will not be done when, however. We'll just have to see how far I get.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Things I Know

...and yet feel compelled to relearn anyway.

1. I should never say about a project, 'I'll be done tomorrow' because that's a surefire way to guarantee that I'll spend the evening wrapping and packing things and not knitting.

2. Knitting, if wrapped in paper without boxes, makes dandy packaging for cushioning more fragile gifts in shipment.

3. There's something very satisfying about filling a box right up to the tippy-top with stuff and not having to pay to ship packaging material.

4. One thing I didn't know before but should have: My brilliant plan for printing postage online and shipping my package from work? Has been foiled by the post office's failure to include parcel post in their shipping options. So I can ship conveniently but more expensively. Or I can go to an actual post office and reap the benefits of having made a point of having things done early enough to ship parcel post.

5. I'm really cheap, so I'm going to the post office.

6. Being nearly done with shopping over a week before Christmas? Feels really good.

7. Having the gifts already wrapped feels even better.

8. Still having a lot of things to knit...keeps the pressure on!

9. If you go around the house dredging out all the gifts you have so far to get them wrapped, you're bound to miss one. Or three. (Fortunately nothing that needed to go into the completely full box already taped up for shipment, however.)

10. Surprisingly, not all cats are irresistably attracted to wrapping paper. I had a lot less help wrapping than I expected.

11. Curling ribbon, however, is another story.

12. When you're trying to tie curling ribbon around a package before the cat's butt-wiggle and pounce gets beyond the point of no return, it's impossible to also take a picture. Sorry. (It was really cute!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another One Down

There are times when it pays to have a dash of obsessiveness in your nature, and when faced with a ridiculous amount of Christmas knitting is definitely one of those times:
feather and fan socks

Feather and Fan socks, done. Sock number 2 was cast on late on Friday night, turned the heel Saturday night, knit the last row Sunday night, and cast it off and wove in ends Monday morning. (Okay, okay. Maybe it's a little more than a dash of obsessiveness.)

And now I'm on to the next project on my list, which must I fear be wreathed in mists of secrecy for the time being. Not even Cookie is allowed to peek:
No peeking!

But it's okay- it's a quick one. I'm past the halfway point already, and should be able to cast on something I can show you tomorrow!

Friday, December 10, 2010


I made three attempts to get gauge for the Monkey socks. My conclusion is...the designer used No. 1.5 needles and so should I. Unfortunately I don't own any and there were no yarn stores open Sunday evening when I bowed to the inevitable (I've since been to several yarn stores and not found any. So I'm glad I wasn't counting on finding them.) I frogged and cast on for a basic toe up sock, knit a toe, and increased until it was the right size...and found that I had 68 stitches, which, since 68 factors to 2 x 2 x 17, isn't the most useful stitch count. I considered things like ribbing, and various 4-stitch patterns, without finding anything I really liked and finally started the foot with the lacy rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. (It's a 5-stitch pattern, but I figured I could do five repetitions centered across the instep and pick up two more stitches at the top of the heel to get to 70 stitches for the leg.)

Unfortunately, I hated it. I'm sure it's charming in some yarns, but not in this one. This stripes just enough horizontally that vertical patterns just don't look good...something I remembered from an early attempt to do Diamond Lace from the same book in this same yarn, but should have taken more seriously.

I contemplated the yarn. Considered changing yarn...but I really wanted to use this yarn for these's beautifully soft and quite pretty all by itself. Then I ripped out all the ribbing (I really hadn't gotten that far) and just knit the foot plain. When I got to the leg, I added four stitches (getting me to a total of 72, a nicely factorable number) and changed over to an old standby for self-striping yarns, feather and fan. It's looking quite charming.
Feather and Fan socks

The sock and I have now reached a truce, wherein it shall be knit, in a size that fits the recipient and a pattern that suits the yarn and it is giving me no more trouble. And so long as that continues to be true, no one will have to do anything hasty involving...scissors.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Style Points

Well, Toni has definitely beat me to the finish line on the 100 project challenge, thanks to my sudden detour onto the Christmas knitting list, but I figure that I should get some credit for artistic impression.

Everything takes longer than I think it will, and I'd hoped to have this done sooner, but still- eight days for a sweater- even a small one- isn't too bad. (I actually cast this on Thanksgiving day but didn't really do anything more than that until the following Saturday-- a week ago today-- since I was still finishing the other sweater.) So here's the sweater for my older nephew:
Jack's sweater

It's another pattern from the pattern book of Aran sweaters that I inherited from my grandmother (the same one I'm making my own Aran from). The pattern is really a rather elaborate ribbing, so it's not as long and skinny as it looks- it will stretch when worn.

And now I'm on the next item on my list, another pair of Monkey Socks. I am wondering if there's something goofy with the gauge on this. The first time I did this pattern I used 00 needles because I liked the way the fabric looked. This is the first time I've tried to get gauge. According to the pattern, I should be making the large size...and yet I know that this yarn on these needles makes a sock that's on the large size for me with 80 stitches- and this sock is supposed to be three sizes smaller. And the lace pattern for this is stretchy. So I'm dropping back to the medium even though I'm getting 10 stitches to the inch and the pattern says I should have 8 for a medium. I'm going to kick myself if I wind up having to go up a needle size on this...but I'm still going to knit a couple of inches and see what size the sock comes out. Because I'm stubborn like that. (Note to self: Robin, why are you knitting this pattern when you're on a deadline again? Me: Because. Robin: *sigh*)

I'll let you know how it goes....