Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Goal Oriented

The larger the pieces of the cabled sweater got, and the less able I was to carry them around, the more eager I became to finish. I'm afraid I may have said a few thoughtlessly cruel things to my poor little sock, on those occasions when I really couldn't have the sweater with me.

I finished weaving in the last end this evening. The sweater was started New Year's day. I think that's a new record for an adult sweater for me. My husband likes it.
modeling the new sweater

And it fits him well- that's because after knitting him three sweaters and having to rip and reknit to loosen them up around the shoulders three times, I finally bought a clue and increased the armscye first time around.
modeling the new sweater

As much as I like making up my own designs, there are some really good things about patterns from professional designers. For one thing, they tend to incorporate elements that are new to me, and so I always learn something. This pattern was the first I'd done in some time with set-in sleeves, which was a nice change. But the real lesson wasn't from the pattern itself, but the finishing. I don't think I've ever seamed pieces in reverse stockinette before, or at least not since I found out there was more than one way to sew seams in knitting.

So, after looking at the mess I made of the first seam, I went poking around on the internet and checked out what experts recommended. My seams suddenly got much better, to the point where I had to pull out the first one and redo it so it would match. I'm glad I did, even if I did finish a day later as a result.

All around it was a very gratifying project. And now I'm off to the next thing!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I finally got around to blocking the scarf and wearing it to work Friday.
Foreign Correspondent Scarf

The Foreign Correspondent Scarf in Valley Yarns Charlemont, colorway Evergreen.

I was introduced to this pattern by Toni, and after knitting I have to say I really envy her lace-knitting speed. This took me forever, and that was before I let it sit for three weeks before blocking it! But it's very pretty and soft and it keeps my neck warm in my often-chilly office, so I'm pleased that I finally got the blocking done.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And Now in Crafting News

1. There is a hat. My cable and seed stitch pattern, plain wool. It didn't make the deadline for the collection, so I'll toss it in the bin to wait for the next one. (Just as well, it can keep the blue mittens from getting lonely while I'm still knitting the sweater. )
Blue seed and cable hat

I tried something different with the decreases this time and am quite pleased with the result.
Hat decreases

2. The sweater is still infinitely charming. I knit most of a sleeve over the weekend. Today, I started the second one.

3. I finally got around to blocking the Charlemont Scarf. I'm looking forward to wearing it this week! (Photos once it's dry.)

4. I was able to strike a planned carpentry project (a wall mount jewelry rack) from my vast to-do list by applying money to the problem. A novel solution for me, but I practice carpentry more out of utility than the passionate love of creating in wood. Given the cost of materials, additional tools needed, and time I'd spend doing it myself; this was a good value. Not to mention that it was pretty much exactly what I wanted.
New jewelry case

With a sister in the business, I have a large amount of gorgeous jewelry that I wear often. Or at least I wear often when I don't have to disentangle it from a pile of other jewelry, and can find two earrings that match. Also, Biscuit thinks that batting things off the dresser in the morning is an excellent way to wake humans up and make them do something more interesting than sleeping. And with my jewelry box so full it won't close completely, I was in severe danger of having jewelry flung around the room in the wee hours of the morning.

5. I am sewing. Weekend before last, I dealt with a large chunk of the huge pile of mending in the sewing room, because cleaning up the piles of cruft was a necessary first step to doing anything else in there. Biscuit is helping me. He was so 'helpful' in cutting out fabric that he almost lost some whiskers. Since then he's adopted more of a supervisory role. (I'll save a project photo for when it's further along.)
Biscuit supervises
Biscuit supervises.

6. I finally got around to installing a wall hook for my yarn swift. (see item 5, re: first steps to doing anything in the sewing room). I have a plentitude of vertical space, which I definitely need to utilize, as the sewing room tends to accumulate vast amounts of project materials of all sorts.
overhead mount for yarn swift

7. I haven't completely kicked the cold, but I think I have it on the run. Hence the greater productivity! (Besides- seven in a list is traditional.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Admit It

The empty FO list was starting to get to me.
Black raspberry colorwork hat
Blue crocheted hat

Fortunately there's a local group asking for donations of knitted and crocheted hats, so I had an excuse. I've got one more on the needles, then I'm back to cabled bliss!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Things I Have Been Reminded Of This Week (Or Could Have Deduced Had I Thought About It)

Warning, this post is not for the squeamish.

1. It is remarkably easy to confuse minor intestinal distress of the type that passes off quickly with the onset of a virulent stomach bug. (Yes, you're getting a clue how my week has gone.)

2. It is vastly better to recognize that you have a misidentified the illness and go home sick before you start throwing up. (Yes, thankfully, I did.)

3. Having a large fluffy cat inquisitively trying to figure out what you are doing while you are busy throwing up is even less help that you think. (Really.)

4. While it is useful to know that you get lightheaded when in the grip of intestinal distress, and to have communicated same to your devoted spouse, it is still mildly alarming to him to witness it. (Compared to the appalling and never-to-be-forgotten food poisoning incident, this was trivial, but he wasn't there for that one.)

5. Passing out and diving face-first onto the floor leaves painful bruises, as well as inflicting grievous wounds on one's dignity. (Fortunately, entirely superficial and not even especially visible- the bruises and the dignity both.)

6. The strategic application of a large bottle of gatorade is exceedingly useful in shortening one's recovery time from a virulent stomach bug. (Really and truly- I felt tired and like bland foods were good idea, but otherwise pretty normal the next day.)

7. Sometimes a week feels short to you because you really did miss a day. (Tuesday, if anyone is counting.)

And on a far happier note:

8. Cabled knitting is still very soothing and hypnotic.
More crew neck Aran sweater

9. But when you really need a project that will fit in your pocket, a sock is your go-anywhere knit of choice.
sock in progress

So, how was your week? Better, I hope!

Friday, January 6, 2012

What I Want to Knit

Craft projects happen for a lot of reasons around here. We want the results (bookcases). I need something in my hands to keep me from twitching- a lot of mittens and hats get made that way. The project suits the yarn, or suits the person I intend to give it to. Some projects get done because they're on a deadline or I get goal-oriented- Finishing things is a big motivator for me. But every now and I again, I start something and find myself simply loving the process. This, I think. This is what I wanted to knit.
Crew neck pullover

And so it is with this sweater. Something about the deep texture, the heft of it in my hands, the neatness of the design (the patterns are all either 4 or 8-row repeats, so it's visually obvious which row you're on at any given time- no peering at the knitting or counting rows needed). Or maybe it's the satisfaction of doing a sweater after all the hats, mittens and scarves of the last year. Whatever. I'll be here, with my sweater, knitting.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Motivating Power of Lists

Okay, just posted the first book of 2012, and reset the FO list. But. The FO list is empty. This makes me want to finish something now. Amazing how motivating just keeping track of things is!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Two Steps Forward, One Look Back

A lovely first couple of days to 2012- even the cats are being unusually friendly.
Biscuit and Cookie start the new year harmoniously
They've shared the castle before, but this is the first time I've seen them cuddled together to sleep, as opposed to being riveted to the sight of birds on the feeder outside the window.

On New Year's Day, we had some friends over for our annual board gaming party. Loads of fun, but I am going to need to do some walking- not only did I make my infamous Maple Baklava...
maple baklava

...but nearly everyone else also brought some kind of sweet- fudge, several varieties of chocolate-dipped pretzels, gingerbread zombies (it's a long story), and our friend John's irresistible macaroons. Delicious, but ooh, the calories!

I gave a friend a knitting lesson- she's a natural, she was zipping along on a garter stitch scarf by the time she left- and a big bundle of surplus knitting needles have been passed on to enable her new hobby. (And seriously- anyone who can concentrate on a knitting lesson while her three-year-old twins use her as a jungle gym? Serious aptitude, there.)

And speaking of paying attention to knitting, heaven knows what those gauge notes were for...judging by the size my sweater back was coming out, it certainly wasn't for this yarn. I got one pattern repeat into the back when I became certain that there were Issues. These were, in addition to the size, the fact that I'm using a pattern of a Certain Age (it has asked to be referred to as Classic, rather than giving out any details of its date of origin, and I'm respecting that). Anyway, some of the details of the styling are a little out of fashion, so I'm making some adjustments. And also a couple of tweaks to the pattern, to better suit my own taste. So we've been making negative progress on that one today, but the ribbing has now been cast on again in a more congenial size, and I'm busy re-knitting.

In looking back over 2011, I am chagrined to note that my final tally was 74 FOs, rather than the 75 on the list (there's a number missing in the 50s). The distribution was interesting. 69 knits, 5 crochet- no carpentry or sewing at all. That will change in 2012, for sure. Possibly the deck rehab project ought to be on the list--it certainly took enough time! But I have historically reserved the project list for new things, not home maintenance. Possibly I should keep a home repair/maintenance project list for 2012--it might motivate me to work on house projects more!

There were two sweaters I had meant to make but didn't get to (the one I just cast on being one of them), and two afghans I hadn't anticipated that that happened anyway. In terms of type of project they were distributed as follows:

23 hats
30 pairs of mitts/mittens
8 pairs of socks
9 scarves (two of which were fine gauge)
2 sweaters (one quite large in sport weight yarn)
2 afghans of fair size

As I suspected back at the beginning of the year, there were more than the usual number of scarves (which I usually don't do that many of). Socks were down to 8 pairs, from more than twice that many last year. I managed to blow through a whole bunch of yarn- all my bulky weight, and a lot of pastels. All those scarves and hats, not to mention the afghans, busted a lot of stash.

Project Goals for the coming year (draft):
-Finish my oldest WIP, the fine gauge bamboo top.
-A sweater for my husband (that's the one I just cast on).
-Teal variegated sweater for myself (the other one I had in mind for last year)
-The third afghan (already started).
-Colorwork wool mittens for myself- those I'll start soon, as have brilliantly managed to misplace all but one pair of mittens I own.
-The second pair of socks from Deep Water Dye Works' yarn, which is too delicious to leave in stash any longer.
-Two more bookcases for the library- (scheduled for next summer).
-At least a start to the next big quilt, and I want to make several more for charity.
-Two other sewing projects I have materials on hand for.

And....more, TBD.

On the books front- well. I haven't had a lot of book related goals, but my reading was up quite a bit this year anyway- I finished with 154 books, which was about 50% more than last year. Possibly I should have some goals- like wading through the rest of the eternal to-be-read pile and getting rid of the things I'm never going to read. Yeah, let's start there. If I manage to nail that one, I'll think about others. I'll call it a home maintenance goal.

Altogether it was a pretty satisfying year- steady progress on several fronts, a couple of big house projects down, a lot of knitting and crafting.

Here's hoping for more to come in 2012.

How about you guys? Goals for the new year?