Archive for November, 2006

I Hate Christmas!

Oscar so had it right. Christmas stinks.

Seriously.

It makes blogging tough when all you’re
knitting is projects that have to be kept under wraps until after the holidays.
How many times can I post, "I’m working on this thing. It’s going
pretty good. But I can’t show you a picture… or tell you what it is….
or who it’s for…"

Last year, I did a lot of gift knitting-
so much in fact that I wasn’t all the way caught up until some time in
February March… nevermind, I never got all the way caught up. One present
didn’t get done until around May, so I just decided to keep it. It just
seemed a little ridiculous to be giving someone a cabled alpaca hat in
the middle of Derby season… and besides, I really like it.

Around October, as I was starting to
feel the holiday knitting urge coming on, I told myself that this year,
I would be better off to skip the whole messy affair. Just because I knit,
is it my responsibility to make sure every friend and family member is
hatted, scarved, mittened and socked? Of course not! Be reasonable!

But… this hat would be so cute for
so-and-so. And so-and-so already said she was knitting me something, so
I want to knit something for her. I guess I can make one or two things…
that’s not so bad. Maybe even three or four…

And so it starts. Before I know it,
I’m up to my eyeballs in knitting projects destined for gifting. I am such
a masochist. Granted, not as much of a masochist as Miss Backyard Leaves
Scarf
here, but still.

So you may be wondering… who shot
Kennedy? Well, that I can’t help you with, but if you were wondering how
the Rotation Diet is helping me through my seasonal knitting load, I’m
sorry to report that I’ve found a flaw in my plan. It’s not quite so big
a problem that I’m ready to give up the Rotation. Just a little hitch.

The problem is that from time to time,
I don’t buy all the yarn I need for a project. (I know, I know… bad knitter.)
Sometimes this is totally an accident, and sometimes I just can’t afford
to buy it all in one fell swoop. I ran out of yarn on *both* of my Rotation
projects, not including the socks, over Thanksgiving weekend. So now both
of those projects are sitting in my basket of UFO’s, waiting for more yarn,
and a third project has made its way temporarily into the Rotation. (I
know that technically, I could be working on my socks during this crisis,
but there’s only so much sock knitting I can take at one time. Five days
in a row of nothing but socks would have made for a very cranky holiday
weekend at Casa de Golightly.)

I know that this whole running out of
yarn thing pretty much ruins the point of the Rotation, but I am justifying
it because:

1) There was no way for me to continue
my Rotation projects without yarn, and there was no way for me to get said
yarn.

2) I promise that the moment I can get
to the necessary yarn, I will take my temporary project back out of Rotation.
Only when I’m done with the projects I was forced to set aside will I allow
myself to even think about working on the temporary project. And once I
am back to working on the temporary project, it will definitely stay in
Rotation until it’s done.

3) In the future, I will try harder
to not gamble with yardage. I will still probably not be able to buy all
the necessary yarn at one time for some of my larger projects, but I will
at least try to buy enough to last over extended weekends.

Other than that slight setback, I’m
going to have to go all testimonial on y’all and say that Rotating is changing
my kniting and my life in a positive way. In the grand scheme of things,
I feel like learning to see projects through to completion is making me
a better, more disciplined person. I have to put a lot more thought into
what I cast on, which has this wonderful effect of separating the wheat
from the chaff- in other words, I’m not casting on for all kinds of crap
just because. If I’m making a commitment to finish what I start, than I
have to make sure that I’m going to want to finish the thing!

Being the cast on slut that I am, I’m
a little surprised this is working for me. Previous attempts at progress
monogamy have been nothing but miserable failures. I think the key to my
success here is that Rotation isn’t about monogamy. You’re making a commitment,
but it’s more like a menage toi (eh, I can’t spell in French…) than a till-death-do-us-part kind of thing.

Oh, and actually finishing a project
from time to time is a very nice bonus.

Speaking of which…

The first Stripey Sock is finished.
I like the way it fits my foot. I’m going to swatch again and see if I’m
still getting 7 st/in. If not, I’m going to adjust my needles in hopes
of getting around the problem I keep having with one sock being noticably
larger than the other one. I have discovered that my foot isn’t nearly as large as I thought. No complaints there!

Also, my only non-gift project at the
moment happens to be my temporary project- the Irish Hiking Scarf from Hello Yarn. Isn’t it just precious? I’ll
provide some more stats once it’s finished.

(Camera dead. Pictures ASAP.)

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If You’re Happy and You Know It….

As the holidays draw closer and closer, it seems that my blog postings will inevitably become farther and farther apart.  I would really like to be able to carve out a chunk of every day to
record my adventures in knitting, but between working overtime, taking care of the cats, and spending time with Bob, my time is  not always my own. And if I have just an hour in the evening to do something all by myself… well, I can’t blog and knit at the same time!

The good news is that when I do post, it means that there will lots to talk about! Personally, I would rather read blogs where the posts are less frequent, but more relevant, and I hope you feel the same.

So, onto the first exciting bit of news:

Clapfinish

Pattern: Clapotis by Kate Gilbert from the Fall ’04 Knitty

Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Lion and Lamb, a lovely and luxurious silk/wool blend in color #18 Watercolors

Needles: Addi Turbos 24" circular US size 6

Cast On/Cast Off: 10/20/2006 – 11/14/2006

What can I say about the Clap that hasn’t already been said by all the lucky people who knit one a couple years ago, before I was really "hip" to online knitting culture? I’m in love. Love, love, love, love, love, love.

Normally, I’m pretty ambivalent about my projects once they come off the needles. (Could this be why they so rarely do?) With a few notable exceptions, I’m much more into the
process than the product. However, where the Clap is concerned, I really feel like I got the best of both worlds- a pattern that was incredibly fun to knit in a yarn that is just to die for, and a finished object that I almost never take off.

A little technical errata: I chose to forego the use of markers and instead borrowed the technique of using purl stitches to mark the stitches that will eventually be dropped from Needles & Hooks. I think this was a great decision, since it made the knitting more interesting. It also saved me the time and trouble of buying, losing, placing and replacing
dozens of stitch markers.

Also, by the grace of the Gods and Goddesses of Knitting, I only used up three skeins of yarn with a decent amount leftover. (Most people seem to run out and have to buy a fourth, which is kind of a big deal since each skein costs 32.00.) I experienced the same phenomenon recently when I knit the Fetching mitts. So many people were running out of yarn that the pattern was edited to suggest buying a second ball of yarn. I made my thumbs twice as long as the pattern called for and still have several yards left over. Why do my stitches consume fewer yards than those of the average knitter?

I’m not sure, but the only thing I can come up with is that I knit very, very loosely. Whenever I set out to knit something from a pattern, I check the suggested needle size and swatch with a needle two sizes smaller- and I’m usually spot on. I don’t feel like I knit super-extra loose, but suspect that it’s a side effect of having large hands and long fingers. (See below, my hand on a Knitscene magazine, which you can use as a point of reference.)

Knitscenehand

(Oh, and sorry my Clap picture sucks. It made Bob take it the second it was finished, so no natural light and I’m in my PJ’s. I keep meaning to take it out for a proper fashion shoot,  so maybe with the long weekend coming up I’ll get some better ones up.)

Do you remember my top secret birthday sock project? Well, the birthday has come and gone, the socks were delivered on time and were very appreciated by the birthday girl. Since I couldn’t put progress pictures on the blog, I never took any! I wish I would have now, since I had to steal my only picture from Liz’s blog. In the future, I will try to better document gift knitting, whether I’m blogging it as I go or not. My local knitting friends have all seen the socks in person by now, but in case you haven’t… (drumroll please!)

Lizsocks

Pattern: Broadripple Socks by Rob Matyska from the Summer ’03 Knitty

Yarn: Cascade Fixation in color #9398, variegated pink

Needles: 2 24" circular Addi Turbos, US size 1

Movies Watched: The Little Mermaid, The Sound of Music, The Departed, The Grudge, Carnival of Souls, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake)

Cast On/Cast Off: I can’t rember for sure, but it was sometime in mid October. It took me about a month to finish them, all told.

I really enjoyed this sock. The pattern is interesting, but doesn’t require too much concentration. For some reason, I had a terrible trouble getting my eyelets to line up right over the first few rows, and had to rip them out over and over. Fortunately, this yarn holds up beautifully to repeated rippings.

And while we’re on the subject, I definitely liked working with Cascade Fixation. It took me a while to get used to the sproinginess (is that a word?) of the yarn, but once I adjusted to it I was hooked. I will definitely be using it again, hopefully to adorn my own feet.

If you happen to knit this sock, and you make a mistake, I strongly recommend that you rip back to a row of plain knitting, so that the row you’ll be knitting on that round is the pattern row. It’s too much trouble to pick up all those yarn overs.

More on what’s in my rotation now that two major projects are out of it…  tomorrow. (I promise!) 

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Playing Fetch and Catching Up

A Post In Five Acts:

Act I: (Wherin the Knitter makes a pair of Fetching gloves (from the Summer ’06 Knitty) and isn’t really that pleased with them.)
Fetching1

To be fair before I start complaining, I will say that this is a very fun knit and is even more fun because it requires very little yarn or time. I particurally enjoyed them because I got to learn to cable without a cable needle, a technique that I now consider to be charming, delightful, and all around better than using a cable needle. (You too can experience the magic thanks to Grumperina’s fabulous tutorial.)

Now, onto the bitching!

My problems with the gloves are threefold. Number one, Cashmerino might not have been the best choice of yarns for something that is going to go through a lot of wear. Not only does it start pilling rapidly, if you don’t leave a very long tail and spend a lot of time weaving it in… be prepared to  have it pop right out and start unraveling. (Naturally, I left a very short tail because I was worried about running out of yarn.) Dropped

Number two, they are very short, especially on my long fingers. If you’re interested in having them fit your hand correctly, I’d suggest buying two balls, trying the glove on frequently, and adding length before the final cable twist. My final qualm is the picot bind off. This is a matter of opinion, but I don’t find it very attractive.

Act II: (Wherein the Knitter unveils her plan for reduction of WIPs and
increasing the probability of actually finishing something in the next
decade or so.
)
Part of the reason posting has been non-existent infrequent over the last two weeks is that I am in the midst of a knitting experiment that has resulted in, well… not much to talk about. I’ve been trying to come up with a clever name for it, but the best I can come up with is The Rotation Diet.

The Rotation Diet is based on a very simple concept from Knit 2 Together. The book is sprinkled with little "purls" of wisdom from the authors, and one of them essentially says that the reason you never get anything done is because you’re doing to many different things. The author (I don’t know which one) gently suggests that you should have no more than two projects "in rotation" at a time.

My blogless friend Mylea and I have decided that this is a very pragmatic suggestion, and since we would like to have some finished objects, we’re trying to follow the book’s advice, with a couple small alterations. For example, after thorough analysis, we’ve decided that having a sock going in addition to your two main projects doesn’t really count, so the rules are that three total projects can be going at once, as long as one of those projects is a sock. Technically, more than one of your three projects can be a sock- but if there’s no sock on the needle, you only get two projects! (For those of you familiar with Weight Watchers, just think of that third sock project as using your flex points… not wholly neccesary, but perfect for those times that you simply must cast on!)

So what are my three projects?

Act III: (Wherein the Knitter is a few rows away from the completion of the Top Secret Socks, and it’s a good thing to because the Birthday is drawing nigh.)

My optional sock project is still the Top Secret Sock. It is maddeningly close to completion. I work on it a lot at lunch with my non-knitting friends at work, and they’ve all commented that they’ve been looking at the same sock for so long now that they feel like it’s become a part of our lunch routine and they’ll be sad to see it go. I’ve been working on them for a whole month, and I can’t wait to get them off my needles!

Act IV: (Wherein the Knitter is still working fervently on
the Clap, and starting to wonder if it will ever actually end.
)

Closeup2The Clap is my primary project, but it did have to take a backseat for a few days last week while I waited to be able to buy another ball of yarn for it. (I was finally able to get it thanks to my prize winnings from Tara’s Halloween contest. Thanks Tara! If I got paid on a regular basis for taking smutty pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror… well, this blog might have to come with an explicit warning.) Three balls of Lion and Lamb down, one to go…. unless I get incredibly lucky and can finish it in three balls. Even if I do, I’ll probably still get the fourth because I’d like to make this cute matching Clap Cap.

Act V: (Wherein the Knitter pouts about her Aran Pullover issues, and concludes her blog post in a clever and thought provoking manner… maybe.)

Aranrip1
Unfortunately, my second main project isn’t going so well. I picked up my Aran Sweater, which hasn’t been seen since quite a few posts ago. I finished one sleeve and started working on the back again, and it’s been nothing but trouble every since. I can’t figure out exactly what’s gone wrong, but I’m way off the chart and stuck so I’ve ripped out everything I’ve done since I started working on it again.

I haven’t even had the energy to put it back on the needles, and I think I’m probably going to end up cheating and setting it aside in favor of something a little more manageable. There are a several projects I have in mind and they all sound like a hell of a lot more fun than fighting with this complicated chart right now. And there’s nothing in my Rotation Diet rules about not casting on new stuff… stay tuned!

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