Friday, December 21, 2007

Size Does Matter

In knitting anyway. As in, smaller items finish faster than larger items. Who'da thunk it?

Today's gift knitting tip of excessive obviousness brought to you by the following:

Not one, not two but three Knitty nosewarmers for gifts - two went off to my daughter's school (teacher and principal) thus cementing our reputations as the crazy ones - and one for my long suffering SIL who lives far enough away that she won't have to be seen in it ever if she doesn't want to. Unfortunately in a fit of complete flakiness, I forgot to photo the two headed to school and they are long gone. Oddly, they looked very much like this one (for my dear SIL) only done in the nice sober solid red that matches the scarf for the teacher (since they were made from the remainder of the skein). The principal was confuddled. If nothing else, he has a dining out story (as my family terms such things - the blog fodder of an earlier age - earlier than mine even) now.

apparently I'm shedding again - oops
An iPod case for part of a niece's gift. I kinda like how the colors stacked. I think if you're 13 it might look not too un-cool. I hope so anyway. The 20-something I showed it to seemed to like it. I think at worst my neice will like the iTunes card that is going to go inside even if the case itself is not so cool.

whoops, I forgot to tell you you'd need sunglasses

I realize this photo lacks scale but it is the closest color match so you'll have to trust me that a video iPod will (probably - I didn't actually have one to try) fit in here. The button is an almost antique out of my grandmother's button tin. I think it is not older than me but it's darn close to it.

I scratched another thing off my list by deciding to give something to weave with instead of a woven something for this year's guild meeting. It appeared to be a satisfactory offering and I made out like a bandit. More on that another day.

I finished the Remembrall's socks. They still need to be wrapped because they took forever to dry since I had to hide them while they did. But they are done.

Look! Twinsies!

Hers are the small ones. The big ones are mine that I finished a while back. I hope the twinsies thing isn't a problem for her because I kinda like my socks.

The FoUI's socks on the other hand. Not so close.

Look stripes!

No wait, limpid pools! ... "Oh bother", said Pooh.

But then he's got something like 4 times the surface area on his feet so size really does matter and hers should be done first. Of course, his should be down to the heel on the first sock and they ain't yet. Not even close. But I haven't given up hitting my Christmas goal for that one. (I like denial. It's a nice place to live.) The photos are both sides of one sock just in case anyone was thinking I had gotten started on the second already. Sadly, I haven't. But now that I think about it, I should. I've decided I don't care what the colors do. Striping or pooling or little puddles amid the stripes or what, it's all good. (See. Denial solves all sorts of problems.) I kinda like the way they couldn't seem to decide in the ribbing anyway. There's not enough of the stockinette section to see what they are going to do there yet and it might be different.

The knitting conundrum that continues to conund is trying to think of something to knit for my best friend. Well, something I can actually finish in the time available. I really need it done no later than Twelfth Night. Which is getting closer faster than I am figuring anything out. I am otherwise set except for a bit of shopping. Well, and SIL's vest which may be a Twelfth Night thing too or may end up being a Valentine's present. We'll see. But I'm not gonna stress about any of it.

What is surprising to me is that I am actually quite enjoying knitting things for people for Christmas/Holiday gifts. I've got quite a long list I'm considering for next year so I think come the New Year I may start on next year's gifts. Well, some of them. I have this really good idea for my best friend but it will take almost all year I think. Which is why she doesn't have it yet despite my having bought both yarn and pattern in the spring.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Gift Knitting Conundrum

Actually there's a whole lot more than one conundrum isn't there? There's the one where you wonder if the prospective recipient is going to like the item. And the one where you wonder if they are going to appreciate it as "I loved you so much I made it myself" instead of "I was too cheap to pay someone else to make it for me". And then the one where you wonder if you're insane for trying to do so much gift knitting. And then the one where you acknowledge that yep, you were insane but what do you do about it now that you've basically promised hand-knit/woven/sewn items to people. Even if only in your own mind. And then, a new wrinkle for me this year, and the reason for such a long time between posts this time: What do you blog about if you're doing gift knitting and you're worried that the recipients might see your blog? Because there's at least two who might...

Too cowardly to face any of the other conundrums, I've decided to deal with the last one by just going ahead and blogging things. If people see something they realize is for them then they can nag me to do my holiday knitting and I'll get it done faster. Or you know, not if they think it's a crappy idea I guess. Anyway this way I can solicit opinions from any readers (thank you all for reading by the way - it still amazes me that people actually do - I'm very grateful) to help me hurry up and decide about stuff already. So, if you're expecting a gift this year and you want it to be a surprise back away now.

I have a couple of FOs to show. Well, except one of them needs tweaking I think. This is more of that one step forward two steps back thing that happens to me sometimes. And some WIPs to talk about. And some ideas to be talked out of or something.

The first FO is a pair of Maine Morning Mitts (from The Knitter's Book of Yarn link is direct to PDF on Knitter's Review) made for my DSIL for her birthday. She's got them now so I can show them without having to worry about that last conundrum at all in this case.
Maine Morning Mitts in Noro Kureyon color 88

This was my first experience with Noro yarns (other than the Hana silk which I have seen and used before although not to knit with) and I had no idea the color run was so long in Kureyon. I find it rather intriguing actually and I may have to get some more to play with hats or more mitts or vests or something down the road. After the holidays.

More FOs:
There's actually two even though only one is pictured.

Yes I know they are silly. But they do keep one's nose warmer than without. And that isn't a great photo either - I was in a rush. I made one for my daughter (hereafter to be referred to as the Remembrall because she never forgets anything you tell her - like for example that you'll knit her something such as, by way of example, a nose-warmer - and further that you'll make yourself one too so that you both can wear them while walking to school) as well but she declined to find it when she saw the camera was involved. I think I might try modifying the pattern a bit though because I still end up with my glasses getting steamed up when I exhale. Unless I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth but I'm not really coordinated enough to manage that all the time.

Holiday Gift Knitting:

I had this scarf about half done for the Red Scarf Project last year but realized it wasn't going to be wide enough for requirements so stopped working on it. I dragged it out last month and finished it up for the Remembrall's third grade teacher.
Mistake Rib Scarf in Cascade 220 Superwash actual color is more red and less wine
I hope he'll like it. I'm not sure what he's gonna think about the matching nose-warmer that the Remembrall wants me to make for him. I am sure it's gonna need explaining. Since she wants me to make one for the Principal too maybe they will actually both wear them one day. We'll see. That could be amusing.

My husband, hereafter to be referred to as the FoUI (aka Font of Useless Information although actually it really ought to be the FoUIaaP - "Font of Useless Information and also Puns" since the puns come as regularly as the useless information but I decided that was too much typing for regular use) recently actually almost whined (he's really not much of a whiner - another reason he's a total keeper) about when was I going to knit him a pair of socks. So I started some socks out of Blue Moon STR lightweight in "Smokey Blue" and then he said they weren't really thick enough or loud enough (I asked, this wasn't a volunteered complaint) so I ordered this:
Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Heavyweight in "Jailhouse Rock"
to make socks for him out of. I'm not too sure I'm gonna get finished by the 25th though. We'll see. Considering how much thicker it is than the lightweight I have a better chance than if I had stuck with the lightweight socks I think. Still, so far all I have is this:
Seeley Socks for the FoUI

which somehow looks slightly less loud now, especially in the ball than it did in the skein doesn't it?

The Remembrall got her order for hand knit socks in sooner than her daddy did (plus her feet are half the size or a quarter the volume) so they are to this point:
Remembrall's socks

These are just simple toe up socks sort of based on Wendy's generic Sportweight toe up gusset heel pattern but modified for the Remembrall's smaller feet. They are made from the leftover Lorna's Laces from my sportweight socks because the Remembrall is still young enough to be happy about socks that match Mommy's - I hope. And even after making reasonably long socks for her I have a tiny bit of yarn left over from the first skein anyway. I'll probably end up having to make doll socks too at this point.

Mum's socks are at the bottom of the list because she wants thin socks and so they'll take the longest. But I did cast on and get started. Mum is diabetic so if anyone has any good links about socks for diabetics beyond the Knitty article I'd love to have them. Right now I'm trying some Tofutsies socks but they aren't very far along yet:
Do I get credit for starting?

And they'll be slow since they're a fine yarn. I'm using the size needle called for on the yarn label but I think I might need to drop down a needle size. They look a little open really but I can't tell for sure until I get to the stockinette part. But the plus side, is my Mum's birthday is in January so if I miss Christmas I have a built in fall-back.

My DSIL is hard to find gift ideas for but she did confess a desire for a subdued colored vest so I ordered this:
Noro Iro - all 5 are the same color and dyelot even though the front two look quite different

to make a simple vest for her out of. I forgot to get details about what kind of vest exactly she wanted so she's getting a simple side to side garter stitch one for Christmas because there's a vague (practically see through) hope of me actually getting that done in time.

I've also got to come up with a knitted or knitted and felted iPod carry case for my niece. But I think that should be fairly easy. They abound on the net do they not? And after all the point of the iPod is that it is small so that should be totally doable. As long as I can make my mind up of course.

My best friend is a better knitter than I am so it's always intimidating to think about knitting a gift for her. But she gave us each our own knitted stocking last year (stranded color-work ones even!) so I want to give her something just as nice. I have a pattern and yarn I want to do for her but realistically, it will take until next Christmas to get that done even if I had already started. And I haven't yet. So now I'm trying to decide what to do for her this year. She knits and spins and probably also weaves still (she is the one who got me started) and who knows what else she crafts - I can't keep up - so I was thinking maybe I should just try to find some nice fiber or yarn and or a gift certificate to a LYS. So here's the request for suggestions: If you're a knitter/spinner would you rather get raw materials or a gift certificate for a LYS or an actual finished thing?

I'd also appreciate any feedback about my options for making something for this year. My thoughts involving actually marginally realistic options for my knitting her something were the following:

Maybe a simple pair of ruffled cuff mitts from this Koigu KPPPM skein.

Maybe this Falling Water Lace Scarf option.
Or, I thought about noodling up a lacy scarf pattern of my own. I've even charted one I think might look nice in some merino/tencel from a sock yarn club. So I think I will also try that out.

See, this is why I get so little done. I spend so much time pondering. And yet, still never manage to take over the world...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yep, it was the ball winder all right

Well, partly. Really it was my inability to keep from wanting to play with other yarns. Although, I have learned that the big ball winder really doesn't seem to work too well with smaller amounts of yarn. Or else I'm doing something wrong. So I ordered myself a new ball regular plastic Royal ball-winder. It's not here yet or I'd have even more new things on the needles.

I did manage to finish yet another long term project though. I managed to finish my French Market Bag in the week before Thanksgiving. I had to run it through my mum's washer 4 times before it got even close to felted enough though. Next time I'm trying a laundromat machine.

pre-felting it fills the seat of my chair
post-felting it is only about half the width of the chair
It stands up fairly well on its own but it could probably benefit from still more felting to make it stiff enough to stand up better. I still like it as it is for carrying small knitting projects so I may leave it this way. If I make another I will probably adjust how I do the bottom and try to felt it more to make it stiffer.

Since the arrival of the big ball winder I have wound up 7 new skeins of yarn (not counting the Cluaranach I mentioned last time) and knitted a bit on a bunch of things. I've started the planning and knitting for some Holiday gifts so may not blog them until after the holidays. Just in case someone is reading who would then not be surprised.

I hope everyone reading who celebrates it had a lovely Thanksgiving. We had a nice meal and are having a lazy long weekend. Kinda.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I like this Finished Object thingy - how do I keep that up?

Well, my mum talked to my auntie today and she got the shawl (whew! I don't trust the Post Office) and better yet, apparently she really liked the shawl. I tell you, there's nothing like giving a hand-knit to someone who knits. They really know how to make you want to immediately knit them something else. Only if I knit something else for Auntie (I was thinking a pair of sport weight socks for wearing about the house?) next I'm pretty sure I'll get into trouble. Because now my mum has joined the chorus of "when are you knitting me a pair of socks?" Which cracks me up because less than a month ago she still couldn't figure out why you'd knit socks when you could buy them. Only Hubby wants his and DD wants hers and... So I need to figure out my next sock project soon. And also how to keep up with the finishing of stalled projects.

I figured out two more contributing factors to the finishitis I have been enjoying recently. One was that I was upgrading my computer's OS so of course I had to back everything up first. And then do the upgrade. So no way to get online and lots of time sitting around waiting which equaled lots of time sitting around knitting. No wonder you programmers get a lot done while you wait for compiles and so on.

And then too, the dog broke my ball winder. So I couldn't "just swatch this yarn to see". Since I couldn't wind it into a ball/cake. I realized my leaving the ball winder and swift up all the time contributed to the overflow of projects on the needles at one time. I think I need to cut that number down a bit. I'm thinking this means that I can't leave the ball winder set up. Both to keep the dog from killing it again and because it might make it just enough harder to wiffle waffle about what I want to do that I won't end up with 80 bazillion wips.

I still have 5 on the needles (not just swatches, actual WIPS/UFOs) not counting Cluaranach which will undoubtedly get started tomorrow if not today. Plus another 5 that I have yarn and pattern ready to start any moment (again, not counting Cluaranach) and another 3 or 4 that I have queued up mentally but in a more general sense. IE "Socks for DH" not "Socks in this yarn and this pattern for DH". I gotta figure out how to get more knitting time while still managing to keep up with what other folks are blogging and you know, general life stuff like work and feeding the family and personal hygiene and whatnot.

I do have another FO for today's post though. The issues of lack of ball winders and computer upgrades meaning no time online continued long enough for that.

Probably the last FO for a while: The Fetching mitts from Knitty. Started last winter (January, or maybe December) they got stalled when it warmed up and I didn't need them anymore.
Now that it's cooler again I decided to finish them up too. I have a terrible problem that way. I can't even buy ready to wear when they want you to. So I doubt I'll ever manage to knit myself a winter sweater to wear the same winter for example. It'll be started in November and if I'm lucky finished before the following November. But never started in August and finished two months later so I can wear it that year. Well, maybe I can change.

In the meantime, back to the FO. I had a lot of trouble getting a good picture of the mitts. This one shows the pattern best out of the modeled shots:
except the actual color is darker

But this one (taken by an obliging DH) proves I have two:
and shows the color better

Pattern: Fetching from Knitty Summer 2006
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Pure Alpaca in color 795 (Juniper iirc). I was able to get the pair of mitts out of one skein (just barely).
Mods: Knitting the first mitt I goofed and only did 4 rows of ribbing between the two cables. I thought about ripping back but decided that I liked it like that and that I would actually want a longer cuff since I tend to find sleeves run a bit short on me. So I repeated the 4 rib rows plus a cable row one more time and called it an on purpose modification. Then when I had cast off the first one and put it on I discovered the mitt didn't reach to my fingers so I did an additional 4 rib rows and a second cable row at the finger end as well.

This will likely be the last FO for a while because I have almost completed the upgrade path for my laptop's OS (still need to update a printer driver apparently) and so am online again. And then too, I got my brand new ball winder yesterday in the mail. And today I wound up the first skein of yarn for my Cluaranach Wrap which I'm probably going to cave in to the siren call of and cast on for tonight.
My new Strauch Jumbo ballwinder seems to work fine for normal amounts of yarn.

Oh, and I got the brown romney off the wheel so that tomorrow I could start spinning up the white romney.
Brown romney hand spun 2-ply 150 yards. Skeined and ready to wash.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Here a FO, There a FO...

...but, unfortunately, not "Everywhere a FO FO".

While I've been conspicuously not blogging every day during NaBloPoMo (I haven't been writing every day of NaNoWriMo either but I am doing it and plan/hope/pray to hit at least the 50,000 word goal before the end of the month), I have since last time actually knit rather a lot. For me anyway. Thanks mostly to interminable chauffeuring mum about and then waiting for her. This post will be photo heavy (as almost always - unless I'm trying to hide a mess - click to make bigger) because no way am I not braggin' on the knitting since it took so long to get to the finished object stage. All these finished within the last three days. I need to plan better.

First I finished the Forest Canopy Shawl for my Auntie. It is on its way there as I type.

Pattern: Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl by Susan Pierce Lawrence
Yarn: Handmaiden 2-ply Cashmere in Marine, bought from The Loopy Ewe
Mods: Since the yarn was thinner but the cashmere makes it quite warm even when lacy. I used a size 6 needle and did more body repeats to get the shawl long enough. I did 14 repeats of the body pattern chart before doing the edging. I think one or two more body repeats might be better for a taller person but my Auntie is on the shorter side. And that would have meant both breaking into a second skein and also, taking even longer to finish. And while I wouldn't begrudge Auntie a second skein, I think I was running out of time.

Here it is in the indoor arty photo:

And outdoors - where the canine model wouldn't cooperate so I fired her and hired the neighbor's shrub since it was poking through the fence anyway:

Blocking photos:

The leftovers from the single skein:
Is that cutting it close or what?

I'm pleased with the end result and have already sent it off across the pond. I wouldn't use this yarn again for this pattern I think, since it is kind of thin, as the blocking photos show. But it is still warm. Cashmere's good that way. But I think I'd like to make another in the fingering weight called for some day.

But first I have to finish up some more UFOs and start my Cluaranach wrap. That one is gonna be mine. Mine, all mine! Muahahhah. Think I can finish it in a month if I start soon? It'd be cool to have something I'd made to wear to hubby's office holiday party.

Speaking of "Mine, all Mine!" I received in the mail yesterday the prize I was so incredibly lucky to win from Norma's Red Scarf Fund contest. Carrie very generously donated a custom made sock and gadgets bag set. She made me the most beautiful bag set. See:
My daughter admired it and said she was envious and my first reaction was "Mine!" I'm such an evil mother.

I also did a little spinning recently. Well, actually, plying. I decided I really wanted a two ply instead of a three ply out of my brown romney that I spun two bobbins of ages ago.

The fact that that meant I didn't need to order another bobbin for my wheel was completely irrelevant. No, really. Ok, it might have had a tiny effect on my decision making progress in that the laziness sent me off to look up what I thought I remembered. I think the yarn turned out ok for the use which is a small tapestry project. Now I just have to spin up the white to go with the brown. And figure out how to warp the tapestry loom.

This next photo shows the mostly ok-ness of the plying (and probably spinning) but also much better represents the color. I gotta learn how to make my photos match reality better.
I do need to work on my spinning and my plying more though. I'd like to do a better job. Plus I have all that fiber all over the place that needs to get spun up.

I also, thanks to all the trips all over town, managed to finish a pair of socks. An easy pair but still. It's handknit socks! Again for me. Hmmm, now I'm starting to worry that I am too selfish or something.

Pattern: Wendy's Toe Up Gusset Heel Sportweight Socks (direct link to PDF)
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Icehouse, also bought from The Loopy Ewe
Mods: I added a few purl stitches to contour the sock a bit but actually I think plain stockinette might work better. Next pair I'll try that. I also found them to be a perfect fit for my clogs but a little bit loose in my tennies. So I think I'll also try another pattern, or even my own, using some additional stitches and doing a ribbed foot and leg for a pair to wear with tennies. In the fullness of time of course. I've still got two other sock patterns on the needles and three sock kits from the Rockin' Sock Club that I still haven't started.

I have also managed to resurrect a UFO and have finished one of the pair of Fetching mitts from Knitty. I had set them aside last spring when it got too warm to need them. But now it's cooling off around here so I got them back out and started working. But I won't blog it properly until they are both done because so far I think maybe the one I did finish is too short so I'm going to try adding a cable and ribbing section before the bind off of the second one and see which I like better.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Dog Ate My Homework

Well actually, she broke my ball winder. Frankly I'd have rather she ate my homework. She cracked the handle right off. As it broke right at its base and it's a stressed spot I don't think repairing it is an option. Hubby doesn't either and he's always right when he says unfixable. So, does anyone have any advice to offer on whether or not I can just get one of the big ball ball winders? I've been thinking about getting one for a while now for larger yardages but I don't know whether they work for say a single sock's worth of yarn (for those companies that are still doing 50gr skeins for example) or if they end up making balls/cakes that collapse too soon.

I was thinking either the Royal jumbo or the Strauch or maybe even this fancy one from Nancy's KnitKnacks which does seem that it will - eventually at least - address the smaller core option, but which is considerably more expensive. Any advice? The one that got broken was the basic blue and white plastic Royal ball winder, do I need to replace it in addition to the larger ball winder or can I just use a larger ball winder all the time?

Thanks for any advice.

The Forest Canopy Shawl continues to grow but I am not sure it will be able to grow fast enough. My Auntie got bad news about the success of her latest treatment so I am now definitely racing against a depressing clock. I'm halfway through the 7th repeat of the body pattern. I have no idea how close to done that makes me. No picture because Blogger hates me. I've been trying to upload the photos for this entry for almost 24 hours. It let me put in the one below just now but not the one for the shawl. Sigh.

So picture it bigger in your mind's eye and help me ponder. I think since I'm using thinner yarn I'll have to do more repeats of the body pattern than the 10 called for with fingering yarn. But I am not too sure how many. Anybody used a heavy-ish laceweight for this shawl and have a suggestion for how many more?

The chair has progressed more as well but it doesn't really look much different. See:
No really, that's more. Those top corners were flapping loose in the last post. Plus now there's webbing and burlap on the outside back and sides. That you have to trust me on though. Because, Blogger hates me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Status Report

I was gonna call this post Progress Report but then I realized there really isn't that much progress to report. So we'll settle for status.

I know, I'll show you the chair. You haven't seen the chair in a while. It does show progress since last time you saw it. Some of it even occurred this month.
If I'm lucky, in another month, I might have a chair I can sit in.

Then there's the simple socks. They are still only a sock and a third.
Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport using Wendy's Toe up Sportweight sock pattern.

Then there's the August RSC socks which have one cuff finished and wet blocked. But that might be where they were last time for all I can remember.
August RSC first sock cuff. I'm doomed. They're mailing another kit soon.

And finally there's the Forest Canopy Shawl for my "Auntie". It ought to be at least a full set of repeats further along but I keep losing track of where I am (because I will insist on trying to watch tv at the same time) and having to tink back.
Forest Canopy Shawl being knit in Handmaiden 2-ply Cashmere in Marine.

It may not be very far along but at least it looks pretty, even after being knit twice.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Time flies

First of all, thank you, everyone, for your concern about my Mum. It's very sweet of you to worry. She's fine. She always was fine. She's been a bit more time consuming lately is all. She has some toe issues that meant she had to have a procedure done before she can get the toe problem fixed. And that necessitated multiple trips to multiple doctors and a couple of days in the hospital. She wasn't really in any danger or even really all that uncomfortable at any time.
But she's not very good at being a patient patient, so in addition to all the ferrying about to doctors and hospitals, she also had to be entertained out of being certain she was going to die due to the hospital staff or someone making a mistake and so on. Mum can be, um, something sometimes. Anyway, she was able to come home yesterday afternoon and doesn't need much attention today so I can finally get this blog post up I hope. But soon she'll get to have the toes fixed and then I'll have to do more Mum care afterward so I'll probably disappear again for a couple of weeks soon. I really am trying to do better about regular blogging though. And of course getting in more knitting to accomodate that.

Confession time: I'm basically a lazy person in some areas. Pretty much all of my relaxation time errs on the lazy side as far as actually making an effort goes. But I'm also dreadfully curious. I love to learn things. So things I can learn incidentally I'll learn and then do. But if I actually have to hunt much for the info - I often won't do it until I need to.

Having been shamed by Sheepish Annie into actually looking poking one of the buttons on the post window (now that's lazy isn't it), I can now insert booming announcer voice here Control Time Itself! So from now on the post dates should reflect reality, not my laziness.

Since the last post with actual knitting content, I have learned again that "Never mock the Knitting Goddess" is a maxim to follow. Friday the 21st, just after I announced that Saturday the 22nd was still summer, I logged off the computer and began my second sock's toe. And to the immediate, sudden, accompaniment of thunder and raindrops I proceeded to knit, tink, knit, tink, knit, rip, give up. And Saturday morning? Rain. Not a lot, but enough to announce quite loudly that Fall was here already.

I know when I'm licked so other than getting that darned sock toe on the needles properly and a bit of the foot started so I could take it for a simple project on Mum ferrying errands during the week, I did not bother with trying to finish the socks before Autumn officially began. Less than a week later, of course, as happens every year around here, after a few days of Fall, Summer came back. And the sock is now 2/3 of the way through the foot section thanks to all those hour waits for doctor visits. No photo. It looks exactly like the other one so far.

I've also finished up the baby hat from DD's hand-dyed. It is a hat for a girl so the yarn being girly is fine and I went with a fairly girly look to the hat too. I was making the pattern up as I went along so it took forever to do. It's a top down hat with only two ends to weave in and no extra holes (only the ones I did as YO increases to echo the lacesque edging) with an unvented edging of my own.
Baby hat, pattern by me, yarn by DD, modeled by "Fluffy".

I am still inordinately proud of myself for figuring out how to pull all that off. I followed some advice from Ruth and did the edging so that it striped opposite the hat itself. So it is a knit on edging rather than a ruffle continued off the ribbing which was my first thought. If it's not obvious that is a flower on the top. I think the yarn looks great. I'm very impressed with how my DD's dyeing came out.
The hat held up by its stuffing of yarn cakes shows the dyeing off a bit better I think. I'm so proud of my little girl.

The room aide has already been given the hat (and says she likes it) even though she is supposedly six weeks away. If that's right, she's gonna be having a big baby if you ask me. But maybe it's just that she's a lovely thin thing normally. Unlike, say, me before I got preggers. My daughter is now working on some baby booties with the remains of the hat yarn. If there really is another 6 weeks and I nag a lot to remind her to work on them she might actually get those done in time too.

But the big thing (and I mean really big thing) that has delayed me from the more regular blogging I had intended to do is that I have been going through my stash. My immense stash. My "much bigger than I thought because the yardage summation cell on the spreadsheet was only summing about a third of my entered yarn" stash. And the entered yarn still isn't all of my yarn unfortunately. So I have been culling. And culling. And culling. But it's hard because I've never bought stuff I don't like. And apparently I like a lot of stuff. I'm trying to be good though since I have a good cause for the yarns I am giving away. I currently have 5 bags ready to go be donated to teachers looking for supplies to start knitting clubs in their schools.

And yet there is still more to go through. Plus I'm a little worried I might have more hiding in other places. I just know it's going to be horribly embarrassing to actually list it all on Ravelry. I think I might have more yarn than some small yarn shops. I'm hoping that I'm just over-reacting though. But this sort of image makes me a bit nervous...
"It turned inside out, then it EXPLODED?!?!?!?!?!"

Good thing I have help right?
The copper matches me best, let's keep that one.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


My apologies for taking so long to post the winner for my little contest. I've been having to spend a bit more time lately taking care of my Mum so didn't manage to organize myself properly. Since I took so long and I only had three entries I decided to award a couple of additional prizes. I used a random number generator (a dice if you're curious) to distribute the prizes.

AlisonH has won the initial prize of the copy of Victorian Lace Today with the skein of Handmaiden SeaSilk in Nova Scotia to make something from the book with:

Elizabeth (who didn't give me a blog link) has won a 400 yard skein of Jade Sapphire 100% Chinese Cashmere in color 01 (mainly purples and greens) which should make a nice shawlette:

BJ has won a 500 yard skein of fingering weight Ruby Sapphire yarn which also should make a nice shawlette (or a pair of socks if you're a sock knitter, BJ):

I'll be e-mailing for snail mail addresses shortly. BJ, if you're reading this, blogger didn't give me your e-mail address so you need to e-mail me at raspberry "you know the drill" gmail etc.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Contest Almost Over!

Just a quick reminder. If you have donated to the Red Scarf Fund, let me know within the next 2 plus hours and I'll add you into the mix from which I will pull a winner for the skein of Handmaiden SeaSilk and copy of the Victorian Lace Today book prize.

Here it is again to refresh your memory and entice you to consider donating if you haven't already.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let's Do The Time Warp Again

Ok, I knew something strange was happening with post dates. Apparently Blogger is using the date a post is initiated rather than published for the date it uses. So much for being clever and working ahead of where the knitting has actually gotten to. I found it motivating a bit too so I will have to find a work around I think.

It's the 21st at 9PM now and I have one completed sock for the Summer of Socks 2007 which ends tonight at midnight. Sorry about the somewhat clashing colored pant leg. But trust me, that's better than the blinding white of my bare leg.

Pattern: Wendy's Sportweight Toe-up Gusset Heel Sock
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Icehouse bought at The Loopy Ewe

In addition to the warping of space-time, there's something else very odd going on with these socks in the first three dimensions. The socks fit very nicely although they do seem to be a bit stretched in that ribbing I added. Still, the resultant fabric feels nice to me, and the socks are comfy on, and not difficult to get on either.

But, the maths don't seem to be in the right ball park. I was supposed to get 6.5 stitches/in and appear to have gotten closer to 8 stitches per inch. Yet the sock, which was supposed to end up at 8" with the 6.5 stitches/inch gauge, fits my 8.5" circumference foot just fine without any change is number of stitches. Also, the knitted sock contains only 36 grams of yarn according to my kitchen scale (which is probably supposed to be accurate to at least 2 grams) and there are 33 grams left in the yarn cake. Implying that at a minimum I could get a pair of anklets out of one skein of the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport. I'm going to see what I get with the second sock, but so far I can't help but think I've done something not quite right. It certainly seems like I should have used more yarn than that. Still, I seem to be able to get socks fairly fast this way as long as I spend my knitting time on them so I might have to try again once I get the second sock of this pair done.

Of course there's no way I'm gonna manage to get a second sock knit in the 3 hours remaining to me in the Summer of Socks. But since, the Summer of Socks rules say "end on September 21st (the autumn equinox)" while this site says that the Naval Observatory says that the Autumnal Equinox is actually on the 23rd at 1:51am my time, I'm gonna count the second sock in my own personal Summer of Socks if I manage to get done by 1:50am on 9/23. Which, now that I have discovered that spending time knitting on your sock makes it get longer, might actually happen. Ok, realistically, no it won't because I think it still took several hours to get half a sock done. And I would have to knit a whole sock in under 27 hours. And I know I have to sleep in there somewhere. But I'm still gonna work on it a bit along with the hat this weekend and see how far I can get.

Sadly the hat didn't even get a look-in I was too interested in my sock. The weather turned a bit cool this week and for the first couple of days it was "refreshing" but after that it was "why don't I have any nice warm socks!" and "where the heck did I pack away my winter pants?" The socks I'm working on. But the winter pants are still eluding me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Getting down to the wire...

Well, the Summer of Socks - for which I signed up in a fog of optimism as regards the amount of time available for, and speed of, my knitting - ends Friday. I did finish a pair of socks after the Summer of Socks started. But since I started them in March I don't think they count. So far, I've got one of my Wendy's Sportweight Toe-up Gusset Heel socks through the heel turn and a row or two up the leg. Not that it looks like it's up the leg yet of course. But it is, two whole rows at least. I swear.

Maybe, just maybe, if I can get stuck somewhere with my knitting, and not have taken the French Market Bag like I did today, I might be able to finish this sock and maybe, just maybe, (if the planets align just right and the knitting fairy comes to visit at night tonight and tomorrow) I might even get the second one done in time too.* I'm gonna try. It's a real deadline. It might work. I hope so. Otherwise I'll feel such a fraud for signing up in the first place.

In the opposing forces (or possibly just "I'm an idiot") section of the blog: My daughter's classroom aide is pregnant and I foolishly said I would knit a hat for the baby-girl-to-be if my daughter wanted to dye the yarn for it so that it would be both our efforts. Of course she did want to. So we did food color microwave dyeing on Sunday and the skein was finally dry enough to wind today. I think it looks very pretty in an exuberant sort of way. But very girl baby. I hope it will knit up pretty.
I like it even better wound up.

DD did all the dye direction (what colors where) although I did do the actual dripping of food color onto the skein and provided advice about getting it all the way through. I'm not sure what day I thought it was when we planned a schedule, or how long I thought the yarn would take to dry, but when I said I'd knit it I said I thought I could get it done for her to give the aide on Friday (that would be the day after tomorrow at this point).

So tomorrow, I need to knit 1.5 socks and a baby hat while also running a bazillion errands including the weekly grocery store expedition. Oh, yeah, I'll make all my deadlines. No problem.* I'd slap my palm into my face except I hit my forehead on a shelf corner a couple of days ago and it still is a bit tender.

*Why yes, now that you mention it, I have always been delusional.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

the current state of affairs and a theory

The tally since last time is, one finished Red Red Scarf, Serious Stash Enhancement, a foot of a sock, a bit of a cuff of another sock, and lastly, the pattern, yarn, and needle finally decided on for a second shawl for my Auntie in England.

First up, the Red Red Scarf (don't forget to donate to the Red Scarf Fund and tell me you did to get entered in my little contest for the lovely Handmaiden Sea Silk and Victorian Lace Today book) which looks just like the Gray Red Scarf except for actually being Red. And being knit in doubled "Aran" weight (which didn't look like aran weight to me) instead of a real bulky weight yarn. I wouldn't do that again, btw. I spent so much time untwisting the two balls (still not sure how they got twisted either) that I could probably have just knit it single and used more stitches and not had it take too long to finish in time. Live and learn. Anyway, here it is modeled by my super model.
Red Scarf knit in a 3x3 rib alternated every 3 rows to prevent draw in using two strands of Rowan Classic Yarns' Cashsoft Aran in "Poppy" knit on a size 11 circular needle.

Serious stash enhancement has also occurred since last post. Last weekend was the anniversary of my birth so my mum gave me some money I could use for whatever I wanted as my birthday gift. (Here's a question, shouldn't I be paying her, not the other way around?) Naturally I spent it on stash enhancement. I spent it more than once, frankly. The thing is, when she gives me a check for my birthday I often find myself conveniently forgetting that I already thought "Oh I can get that with my birthday money" on an earlier occasion. Something about yarn fumes that transcends even the Internet. So, I probably ended up spending it locally as well as at the Loopy Ewe. But who can blame me really?

After all, one of the localish LYSs around here was having its annual sale. So of course I had to go. And they were having a trunk show of Habu yarns and kits and a talk by Takako Ueki, the owner of Habu Textiles, on how to read Japanese patterns. So naturally I had to attend. It was a very interesting talk. Both scary and inspiring at the same time in a way. Like I imagine standing at the top of a cliff in a hang glider ready to make your first glide might feel. I'm alternating between now thinking I can do a whole lot more and being afraid of the possibilities almost. It could be incredibly freeing if I could just get myself to embrace that freedom. It's a pity I'm not braver. I must work on that.

If you get a chance I highly recommend attending that talk. It was so interesting that naturally, I had to buy some Habu. I fell hard for a jacket kit. So I said "Thank you Mummy" (and hubby and daughter and...) and I bought it.

And then Sheri did a sneak up and put up the Perchance to Knit yarns. And I got this:
and this:

Thanks Mummy! Oops. Oh well. With luck I will manage to get something that is on the needles done before I start the Habu jacket. Although, it would be a perfect fall jacket for here I think. Drat... Must resist startitis... And the Perchance to Knit yarns are so nice that I'd really like to start a sock with them too soon. Must resist startitis...

I got more knitting done than just the scarf since I last posted although not as much as I'd have liked. I got the foot done on the first of my Wendy's Sportweight Sock despite the fact that I ended up having to tink back because I had gone further than I should have for the point to start the heel. Actually, I ripped back part of that, taking my courage in both hands and pulling out all the needles and pulling out at least 8 rows of work before picking the stitches back up again. I was amazed but it actually worked.

I also had to drop down some purl stitches and bring them back up as knits. I had popped in a little ribbing on the sides (6 stitches total in 1x1 rib on each side of the instep instead of stockinette like the rest of the sock) to snug it up a bit. But I ended up having to drop some of them down and switch it back to stockinette because my foot gets bigger around toward the heel despite the fact that looking top down it actually narrows quite a lot as it goes back. Live and learn. So in this photo it looks a little funky on the sides there, but I think that the first wash will smooth that all out just fine. Now I just need to write down what I ended up with for the snugging up ribbing that remained so that I can make the other sock match.

Wendy's Sportweight Toe-up Gusset Heel Sock in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in Icehouse knit on size 2 wooden DPNs.

I also managed to get a couple of repeats done on the cuff for the August RSC socks but I don't think it looks like enough to blog about yet. I hope next time to have more done so that a photo would actually be interesting.

My other accomplishment, such as it is, this last week or so is picking the pattern, yarn and needle to use for the next shawl for my Auntie in England. I picked the yarn first, deciding to go with my mum's theory that cashmere would be good. So I chose Handmaiden 2-ply Cashmere in Marine. There were about 3 other patterns I was considering but the one I finally decided on was The Forest Canopy Shawl by Susan Lawrence. Since I wanted this to be a warm shawl for the winter and she's my absolute favorite Auntie and worth two skeins of 2-ply Cashmere if necessary I decided to go with the Forest Canopy Shawl since I think the pattern is slightly more closed than some of the other options so it will be warmer. But the pattern lookd like it is easy enough for me to get it done relatively expeditiously. Much more so than my initial desire to create my own pattern for the shawl. (Over-reach much?) Still, despite finally deciding on everything, I haven't gotten far enough yet for a photo to be worth it, but I think I will be able to post a progress photo within a week that will look like something. It took me an awfully long time to make all those decisions.

Which brings me to my current theory: Cassie of Too Much Wool had a fun post the other day about start-itis that got me thinking about why I don't get much done. Partly, it's just because I don't spend enough time knitting to get things done quickly. I started trying to think of ways to get more knitting time without everything else I'm juggling coming to a screaming halt. But, I couldn't really figure out where I had spare time I wasn't using wisely (except maybe web browsing time - heh). Then I had a mini-epiphany of sorts, it's not just a lack of time, it's also that I spend too much of the knitting time I do have in thinking and planning and futzing about. Trying to get the perfect combination of yarn and pattern. Trying to get gauge perfectly. Trying to choose the perfect next project. It took some thinking about it to realize that it was basically a perfectionism problem. Which is kinda funny considering how awful some aspects of my knitting look.

The proof is in what does get done. My projects that have been completed (well, the ones done in a more timely manner anyway) were all deadline knitting. I needed it done for a particular day for example. Like DD's poncho for Christmas last year. Or the Spring Things Shawl (except I actually missed the deadline for that one but I was far enough along that I kept keeping it active) this spring. Or the Red Scarf knitting. With a deadline I had to give up on "perfect" and go for "good enough".

But artificially imposing deadlines on myself doesn't seem to work very well. Even external ones that are "soft" like "the new RSC kit is coming soon so I have to get to work on the ones that aren't done yet" don't get me going.

I gotta figure out how to fix this problem because my yarn acquisition rate and project finding rate are still far out-pacing my yarn usage and project completion rates. I decided to devote the rest of September to working on the whole perfectionism thing. For example, last weekend, instead of rushing out to the LYS Saturday to pick up a ball of yarn I needed to finish the Red Red Scarf, the store I was going to be in anyway on the Sunday for the Habu trunk show and talk, I picked up my simple sportweight socks and got the foot done on those. Although again with the perfectionism and "correcting" the initial ribbing. I also figured out what I needed to do to get "close enough" to gauge on the August RSC socks (within the difference between my feet anyway) so managed to get those properly started. And I frogged the swatch for DD's tank because the fabric wasn't even close enough, let alone perfect.

Speaking of Perfect:
I'm so proud. That's my little girl. What you can't get from the still is just how fast those needles were flying. She still won't do more than knit. She's not ready for purl and she only did the needle manipulation of the long tail cast on for that headband not the left hand yarn manipulation half. But she's getting there. And for the few minutes a week when she is knitting, the needles are flying. Of course her attention span is shorter than mine so she doesn't knit for long before she gets bored. So it's gonna take a while for her to finish that headband. But she's only 8 so that's ok really. I'll be in trouble when she hits double digits and I end up being the one with the shorter attention span.