Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happy December

I love my smart phone. Every day, I wonder how I ever not had one.

Loading items onto my Etsy shop is so much easier using the phone than it is to take photos with a regular camera, transferring them to my computer, then uploading them to the site.

When it's typed out, it doesn't look any different, but trust me. It's a lot simpler with the phone.

So, in celebration of all things December, and that I finally got a decent start on filling my etsy store, for the rest of the month, use coupon code DEC2012 to receive 25% off your order.

Right now it's mostly just stitch markers, but keep an eye out- more should be coming.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Season's Greetings...

... or Bah Humbug, whichever you prefer.

Thanksgiving was last week, here in the US, which means the Christmas season is in full swing. Technically, the season starts on Black Friday, which is marked by major sales and insane crowds (use the word "insane" as a modifier or a descriptor, either will work), although the past couple years retailers have been pushing the envelope a bit. The mall nearest where I live started decorating for Christmas and playing Christmas carols starting in October.

Now, that's a bit much. As much as  love Christmas, I shouldn't be pushed to my "bah humbug" limit before Thanksgiving.


In my last post, I complained a bit about deadlines, and how I hated them I regret to say that the orange and yellow balls of Cascade 220 remain untouched. I have a more pressing deadline to make.





This is what is in front of me. A quilt, approximately the size of me. That I am quilting myself. Originally, I had the bright idea of making this quilt reversible, however my quilting instructor inadvertently changed the needle position, so the second quilt top ended up much larger than the first. Rather than try to fiddle with borders to create two quilts of the same size, I decided to simply make two quilts, and give one of them (the more masculine of the two) to my brother as a housewarming gift.

I am probably about 50% done with the quilting. I am ready to throw my machine out the window. Moving day is Sunday.

Guess what's probably not going to get done by deadline?


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Deadline

What is it about deadlines that makes me knit slower? In college, deadlines just made me type faster (and actually, I did better with them looming over me like some monster from a cheesy horror movie) but with knitting, quite the opposite.

I'm sure many of you know what I'm talking about, with Christmas on the horizon, and for those of us who need to ensure that the post office gets our brightly colored packages to their destinations in time, the deadline is far before December 25th.

So what do I do with a ball of yellow and a ball of orange Cascade 220 that has a pre- December 25th deadline that just does not want to be knit? What do I do with the quilt that has a deadline of December 1st, because it is a housewarming present for someone moving in to his first condo on the 2nd, but just wants to sit there. The top is pieced, the backing and batting bought, it's just a matter of putting it all together.

Every January, I say I will not do Christmas knitting this year. I say I can't, it's not worth the stress, the aggrivation, the hurt when the finished object is ultimately tossed aside like yesterday's newspaper.

Then like clockwork, every October, I go into a tizzy looking for the perfect yarn for the perfect pattern for some dear friend. Or I get some crazy, last minute idea of how best to show my love for this person because my words are usually lacking.

Ugh.

I hate deadlines.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Challenge

Like most of us, I have a mound of Christmas knitting in front of me. I just finished the last dishcloth of my list- and I felt my brain go numb from the miles of garter stitch that I had just completed. It's been awhile since I've challenged myself with my knitting. I think the last project I did that really challenged me to push myself further was the Autism Scarf I made for my aunt last year.

So, despite all the Christmas project (which is thankfully coming along nicely), I cast on a project that, not only is it for me, but it challenges me as a knitter.

Pomegranate.



I've only ever knit one doily pattern successfully,  and that was a much smaller, much less complicated one- only a few inches in diameter, using sport weight yarn. Pomegranate allegedly comes to about 6.5 feet, and uses thread weight and size ones.

This might take me awhile, but it'll be worth it. Knitting itself is an act of love, pouring ourselves into every stitch, but one that takes this much concentration and time and effort... I consider myself a process knitter, but the end result, especially one this complicated, makes it worth it.

I'm sure before I'm done- LONG before I'm done, I'll have frogged it several times (I've already frogged it once), consumed a lot of alcohol and chocolate and have sworn very loudly and quite often.

And I'll chronicle every moment of it of it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fall is coming!

I love fall- it's my favorite season. The leaves are starting to turn, the air is a little crisper. Apples and pumpkins are everywhere- including in my coffee.

I know I've been quiet on here- not posting in over a month qualifies as quiet, right? But that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. Aside from life being generally ass-kicky lately, I lost my knitting mojo, so I've spent some time reading. I read two of Ken Follet's books- Pillars of the Earth and World on End. Both were fantastic, although World Without End seemed to drag a bit.

I read several books by Philippa Gregory, including The Red Queen, The Lady of the Rivers, The Boleyn Inheritance, The Constant Princess, and The Other Boleyn Girl. I know I've read more books than that, but I can't think of them.

I also spent about a week churning out stitch markers (which are going to be posted to Etsy soon- although I've been saying that for a few weeks now.)

But, my mojo is back, and with fall here, comes the urge to start churning out winter items- hats, mittens, scarves. I cast on the Super Extremely Simple Cabled Scarf using Malabrigo Chunky in Sapphire.



It's absolutely gorgeous, thick and warm (although, if I were to do it again, I'd probably go up a needle size. But I'm not ripping it out now.) At the rate I'm going, I should have enough extra yarn to make a matching hat and mitts.

I've added about four or five fingerless mitt patterns to my queue, and I'm already starting to look towards Christmas with four gifts and an Advent Calender. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Update

We're nearing the end of the Olympic Games, which means we're nearing the end of the Ravellenic Games.

The scarf was finished in what was (for me) record time. My average time for a scarf is a year- this scarf took me a week.

Now I'm working on The Big Honkin' Bag. It is going slower than I expected- it's hard on my hands and wrists- but I'm hopeful that it'll be done on time.  So I took a break this evening, and baked a cookie.

Yes, one cookie.

One peanut butter cookie with chocolate on top.


(In retrospect, I should have waited for the chocolate.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Casting On

Well, I was wrong. I wasn't able to post anything until now. I was going to write a review of a book I recently finished, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, but time got away from me. So instead, I'll save that review for when I finish the sequel.

The 2012 Summer Olympics have begun, and oddly, I have not been able to tear myself away from the TV. I'm not sure I'm able to follow what's happening, but I've been watching.

I was able to finish a project I had under deadline, which is blocking now, so I cast on the first project planned for the Ravellenic Games- the Noro Bias Scarf.

I'm using Studio June Sock Luck- colorway Black Opal. When I first saw the yarn, I was compelled to buy it because they were "my" colors- black, purple and gray.


Now I see how short the color repeats are, which may or may not lend itself to the properties of the scarf. I don't know. We'll see.

I've got another couple posts in the works. They'll be posted when I can get around to it. But in the meantime, enjoy the Olympics, support your team.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Training Begins...

We are ten days from the Mass Cast On that kicks off the Ravellenic Games 2012. I had WANTED to prepare by finishing all my WIPs- not because I need the needles, but because I dislike having projects on the needles that aren't in the rotation. While I have been knitting fairly steadily, I have also been casting on. Which is silly. Oh well.

That being said, much of my prep work or the Games is complete. I have sorted yarn with their appropriate needles, stitch markers (yes, I am one of those weird ones that coordinate stitch markers to project), patterns. All that is left is to wind the yarn- which is only necessary for two projects, both scarves. (Yes, I am aware at how crazy I am to attempt to knit two scarves in 17 days. Even if I am on vacation for 7 of them). 

The projects I am planning:

  • The Big Honkin' Bag. I am using some Bernat Handcraftier cotton, in blue. I am knitting this for Team Knit Alone
  • Temperance. I am going to use some Knit One Crochet Too Ty Dy Socks. I am knitting this or Team Mine!
  • The Noro Bias Lace Scarf, using Studio June Sock Club, also for Team Mine!
  • The Saxony Scarf, using Malabrigo Chunky, for Team Knit Alone. 
In case I wasn't too much of an over achiever, I am also planning on:
  • spinning 8oz of BML I bought two days after I spun my first lumpy bumpy yarn. 
  • handdying some yarn. Not sure what colors I'm going to do- I kind of want to see how breaking black would come out.  But I also have a lot of neons I want to play with. 

I'm planning on making one more, possibly two more blog posts before the start of the Games. So I'll see you then.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

To all my American readers...



Happy Fourth of July!

Even though it's late afternoon here on the East Coast, I hope you have a fun and safe holiday. I have a timely project to show you:




My father gave me bag given to him by a fomer employer- with the company name stamped across the front. He asked me to sew "a flag, or something," over the company name, so that's what I'm doing today, before setting off fireworks with my family.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I need a new hobby...

... like I need another hole in my head.  But a new hobby, I have.

A few months go, when I went to New Hampshire Sheep and Wool, I bought a Learn To Spin kit from one of the farms that had set up a booth there. It sat in my stash since, waiting for me to pull it out and use it.

Last night, a friend of mine came over (after we had dinner at a local Thai restaurant) and we sat down and learned to spin.

We were armed with our spindles and copies of Respect The Spindle, and fiber in hand, prepared ourselves to muddle through this new skill. 















There was confusion at first, but when we got it...



... we celebrated.


And we spun.




Friends. Thai Food. Fibery Goodness. Mark Harmon.


All is well.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Abatement

The lack of knitting mojo has abated... at least, slightly.

Once a week, I try to make it to quilting class. Sometimes, lack of time or lack of funds take precedence, but there's a quilting class that I try to get to once a week. Well, Nancy, the woman who runs the classes out of her home has just installed hardwood floors and has requested that we not wear our shoes indoors. Reasonable. So I would acquire slippers. But rather than buy something, I would knit them. Use stash, save money.

When I knit something, I like to know what to expect. My first pair of socks drove me crazy. I'm not one for trusting the pattern, even though it's something I tend to preach.

That's why I had to read the pattern to the Pocketbook Slippers many many times before I could bring myself to cast on. The directions just didn't make sense. I knew I knit a square, then I seamed up some side and voila, slippers, but I couldn't for the life of me look at the pattern, and see how it was possible.

After many times of reading the pattern, and stalking ravelers who had (successfully) made this project, I finally cast on last night, and knit while watching movies (Up in the Air and The Conspirator.) And today, cast off.


I used approximately 110 yards of Patons Classic Wool that I handdyed using kool aid. They took approximately 4 hours, and I would definitely knit these again, although probably at a tighter gauge. They seem a bit loose for my liking- but I tend to prefer things with tight gauges. 









(Oh, and if anybody is interested, I enjoyed both movies. Both were well done, I thought, and while I had my reservations about Up in the Air, I was amused at how it ended- particularly because Netflix classifies it as a "romantic comedy." But I shall say no more.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Abandonment

I have been abandoned. Not by a person, no, something else.

I have been abandoned by my knitting mojo.

My grandmother loves to exclaim to anyone who will listen that I am constantly knitting. Constantly. And once, it was true. But I don't think I've knit in almost two weeks. Partially, the reasons are external- I have so little free time lately that when I do,  I can't do more than stare glumly at the television set. But that effect is a double edged sword- because I am so tired at night lately, I have been left uninspired. By my  yarn, by my queue, by my works in progress.

This is an awful feeling, one that I'm sure many knitters are acquainted with. Maybe soon, my mojo will return.

Hopefully, soon, my mojo will return.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Surrender The Wind

I spent a half hour in line at the post office today, mailing out tax returns for the law firm I work for. Since I didn't have my knitting on me, I finished a book I was reading on my kindle- Surrender The Wind by Rita Gerlach. Set after the American War for Independence, it follows Seth Braxton, an American who fought for independence, only to become heir to a wealthy British estate. A sense of obligation and a desire to see his sister again (who returned to England at the beginning of the war) drives him to England, and shockingly, it is the unexpected love of a woman who keeps him there.

This story starts off strong, but in my opinion falters from there. I kept reading only because I wanted to see if they would tie it all together. Each plot twist was too definite for my liking, ending as the next wave began to swell. While everything was brought together at the end, it was done too neatly. I would give this 2.5 stars (out of 5).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Better Late Than Never

In January, I wrote about the sock monkeys I knit for my cousins' daughters. Well, I haven't given Jen's daughter hers, but Michelle's daughter received hers.

And, apparently loved it.




I received a hand drawn thank you note a week or so ago, and it tickled my icy heart. I hung it on my wall, because it's kind of awesome when a 7 year old (admittedly prompted) writes a thank you note. I'm sure many crafters have often experienced the disappointment when a handmade gift is given with nary an acknowledgement, or if there was one, a lackluster one.

I had also made my aunt (Michelle's mother) a tote- the Medallion Travel Bag. I had made one for myself one in the second half of 2010, and my aunt admired it, but said it was too big for her.

So at the beginning of this year, I decided to make one for her, holding the yarn single instead of double like the pattern calls for. The result? Perfect.


I had felted mine in my washing machine, which is a front loaders. Front loaders are not exactly recommended for felting, but I didn't know anyone with a top loader who was local and willing to let me monopolize it for awhile on an experiment. The result was unexpectedly uninspiring- it was wrinkly, like crocodile scales.

With this one, I felted it in the dryer. I soaked it, then put it in the dryer with a couple towels. After 10-15 minutes, I pulled it out and inspected my work, repeating until I was satisfied with the results.

My aunt was also satisfied with the results. She declared it perfect several times, and gave me several hugs. Her face lit up when I held it up, finished.


So I currently have some warm fuzzies over giving my handknits away. I need to hold onto this feeling for a little bit. Some certain people in my life have made me necessarily selfish over my knits- (I was essentially told that handknits don't count as presents) but seeing faces light up sure can change one's perspective.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

You Don't Know Our Women

I knit this chunky cabled hat last July. I found it quite easy to knit, but I wasn't sold on it. It found its way in and out of my gift bucket several times since then, migrating from there, to my winter stuff drawer and back and forth.

However, yesterday, New Hampshire got it's first (and probably only) winter storm this year (not including that storm in October.) As of this morning, You Don't Know Our Women was in my winter gear drawer, so after a momentary debate, I decided to look knitterly and wore it.

I pulled it on my head before I left the office today, and one of the secretaries, who considers herself a bit of a fashionista, saw it and exclaimed,

"Well, you're looking rather chic today."




Me? Chic? Who'd've thunk?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sarah's Key

I am a fan of historical fiction. All time periods, although I find that if it's a time period I know "too much" about, I have a hard time enjoying the book because of the inaccuracies.

However, I greatly enjoyed Sarah's Key, written by Tatiana de Rosnay. It was two stories in one- the story of 10 year old Sarah, a Jew living in 1942 Paris, and the story of an American journalist named Julia, who is determined to bring Sarah's story back to life.

I don't normally enjoy books written in this format. I find it distracting, for both the reader and the author. But this book was superbly done. There are so many things I want to say about this book, but I won't for risk of spoiling the ending.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Better Late Than Never

The Catholics group on Ravelry held a mystery knitalong in January. I decided to participate, but as usual, the finishing took longer than expected.

I used Dream in Color, colorway Into the Mystic that I've had in stash for a few years. (Originally destined to be a February Lady Sweater, it ended up becoming a Saroyan, a Bittersweet Cowl, an experiment in dyeing, and now this. I still have a skein and a half left. Don't know what I'll do with them yet.) I also selected buttons that came in a multipack bag I bought at a Big Box Store.


The actual knitting took a night or two (or, would have had I had all the directions.) The finishing... not so much. It took over two weeks, probably closer to three to finally pin it out, then I left it on the blocking mat another week or so. It came off the blocking mat five days ago, and finally sewed the buttons on today.

(I must confess, the only reason I took it off the mat was to block the shawl I discussed in my last post.)

I don't normally procrastinate and put things off.

crickets chirping

Really, I don't.

Yes I do.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wool Hugs

I'm sorry for being quiet lately- life has gotten a bit crazy. I haven't given up knitting though- that's probably why I'm still mostly sane.

I have gotten a lot done in the past several weeks. But right now, I can't remember much, except for the fact that I have completed my first quilt, and I am currently wearing a shawl. I never thought I would, thought it wasn't me, even though I find them quite gorgeous, especially the lacy ones. But I was in need of a hug one day and my best friend was busy dealing with a family crises (she gives the BEST hugs- the kind you still feel in your ribs three days later) so I cast on a shawl. I decided on the Simple Yet Effective Shawl, using scraps of Patons Classic Wool. My camera is on the fritz right now (maybe when Uncle Sam mails me my tax return I'll buy a new one. Yes, I have my tax return spent six ways to Sunday, how'd you guess?) so this is the best photo I can come up with:


The colored yarn was dyed by me. The darker section is a purple/blue variegated that turned out quite lovely for my first attempt. I thought it might be one of those "potential" yarns- the kind that is always in ball form because the yarn's potential is always greater than anything you could knit with it. But I really like how the colors worked up. The magenta was a kool aid experiment, and are leftovers from the Kindle cozy I knit last year. The two colors don't "match" but they work together. Although I think the bottom border in white helps a lot too.

But regardless as to how I got the colors, I took it off the blocking board five minutes ago, and immediately put it on.

And I feel like I'm getting a hug from somewhere.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Monkeying Around

I know two little girls who are going to find surprises in the mail at some point soon...



I have two cousins (actually, I have more than two cousins, but for the sake of this post, I have two cousins), Michelle and Jen. Each have one daughter. I knit each daughter a sock monkey in their favorite color. The pink one is going to Texas, while the purple one is staying here in New Hampshire. I just have to get their addresses from my aunt (their grandmother) and these two babies will be on their way!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Hey Hey LBJ"... wait a minute, wrong President

I had hoped to be writing to announce that I had completed my mitred square afghan, or my slipper socks, or any of my pairs of mittens, but alas, I am writing not of knitting, but of a book I'm reading.

A lot of us listen to audiobooks while knitting, and household chores,  and I am no different. (In fact, I fully admit to listening to audiobooks while at work.)

Currently, I am reading Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, which is actually quite good. I bought it using a credit from Audible, and I had thought it would be mostly of President Nixon and his presidency, and Vietnam. However, it's quite the opposite.

The book starts off with Nixon's background, and rise to the White house, and then shifts to focus mostly of the chaos in American society. I am not quite done yet, I still have approximately 12 hours left, and I believe I will enjoy every minute of those 12 hours.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Baby Steps

I'm not much into New Years Resolutions, but I saw a link on facebook which made me laugh out loud. (Which probably wouldn't have been so bad, if I wasn't at work at the time.)

 20 New Years Resolutions for 20 somethings.

Number 19 was particularly resonant with me. "Crap or get off the pot." It's something we say in my family a lot (although our version isn't quite so family friendly.) I finally scored a "grown up" job last September. It's only part time, but between my two jobs I have a full time job.

I decided on March, because it would give me time to save up a bit. Well... March is coming up fast. And I'm a procrastinator.  But I'm not going to become the woman I want to be if I allow fear to take over. I can't grow, and convince myself, never mind anyone else that I'm an adult if I allow the unknown to paralyze me.

Becoming more adult-like is one of my goals for 2012. So is losing 40 pounds... and having chocolate and wine for lunch is probably not the best way to go about that.

But like I said. Baby steps.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I think I love my mailman...

... for he brings me goodies.

I just want to start this off by saying- I had the cash in my hand, I was upset, and I had a little alcohol in me. What's a girl to do in that situation? Why, go yarn shopping, of course.

I placed two orders, one for the Loopy Ewe, and one with Knitpicks. I got several yummies from the Loopy Ewe- most notably my first ever skein of Madelintosh and an absolutely scrumptious skein of Alpaca with a Twist Baby Twist. My Knitpicks order contained more "toys" than yarn- although I did throw in yarn for two shawls and a cowl.

One of those toys was...





A key chain sock blocker sock! I had received the yarn in a mini skein yarn swap, and I cast on only a few hours ago- definitely the quickest sock I've ever knit! Although I have some problems with the way the pattern is written, I am definitely happy with it- and can't wait to make some more.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fresh Starts and New Beginnings

Today is January First. New Years Day.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with a coworker (confession time: she talked, I thought about how to get off the phone as I was busy as heck but didn't want to be rude) and she was waxing nostalgic about the romanticism of fresh starts. (I'm the one applying the fancy words. She just went on and on about how she liked new beginnings.)

But she did have a point... sort of.

I'm not sure if I subscribe to the idea that if the calender changes, then the slate is wiped clean. Your history comes with you. You're still the same person. The mistakes you've made, the triumphs you've accomplished... they don't go away just because you're changing which calendar you're using. If you want to change something, change it. It doesn't matter if it's June 15th, or January 1st. Every day is a new chance to get it right.

That being said...

I am launching this blog today because it is the New Year. I didn't like the direction my old one was going, so I thought I would start fresh. Clean slate, and all that. I thought it was ironic.

This year will bring a lot of changes, to both my crafting and personal lives. I'd like to start designing- I have a couple ideas floating around my head right now. I want to grow and change as a person. As a friend, as a sister, as a daughter. And there is a bit of romanticism and irony to announcing these changes today. So, even though I think it's a bit over the top...

Happy New Year!