Thursday, December 27, 2007

It's Not As Bad As I Feared...

...but it is pretty bad. The final numbers* are in from the inventory. I own 743 skeins of yarn, equaling 152,699.5 yards. I got a little nervous when I was figuring out the mileage. I really didn't want to hit 100 miles of yarn. So I was relieved to find that I "only" have 87 miles of yarn in my stash! I still have wiggle room on my shopping spree tomorrow before I hit 100 miles!

What really surprised me is that I have over 130 different kinds or brands of yarn. And what especially dismays me is the list of 32 WIPs/UFOs that I need to deal with. That includes 4 projects that need to be frogged (if I can ever bring myself to do it), 2 scarves that might be frogged (I need second opinions on those), and 6 afghans that I either need to finish squares for or just sew existing squares together. On the other hand, I found 5 projects that really just need minimal finishing and will be done quickly. Sometimes I wonder why I put things down for so long.
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On another note, we had some sad news yesterday in my crochet guild. One of our founding members passed away very unexpectly yesterday. She had struggled with health problems for the last year, but she was young enough that I really thought she would pull through. I don't have any specifics yet, though. Anyway, she was an early reader of this blog, and she always complimented me on it when she saw me. She was a very sweet lady and a beautiful crocheter, and we will all miss her terribly. Dee has a remembrance up on her blog today, too. So, hail and farewell, Ruth, and may you rest in peace.

*I have to qualify these numbers. For some reason, I didn't inventory my baby yarns, figuring I would do it in the spring when I start making preemie blankets and pull all those yarns out again. So it is quite possible that I am much closer to that 100 mile mark than I care to admit at the moment!

Enjoying Christmas Week!

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas on Tuesday! Our Christmas was quiet but lovely. I spent Monday baking chocolate nut loaves and listening to Christmas carols. My dh and I had a good dinner on Christmas Eve and then opened our presents to each other. Tuesday, we made our way up to New Britain with my mom to spend the day with my inlaws. We had a very nice day and another delicious dinner.

My Christmas loot can be summed up in one word - books! My inlaws gave me 3 books on sock knitting, and my dh gave me 4 crochet books and The Knitter's Book of Yarn. With the sock KAL starting up on Ravelry, I can tell already that Ann Budd's Getting Started Knitting Socks is going to be my new bible for some time to come! I also got the Knitting Pattern-a-Day calendar and 2 new CDs (not in the picture). So I have plenty of new patterns to help me knit down my stash in 2008.

Speaking of my stash, I have had one issue this week. After my marathon afghan finishing session last weekend, I felt pretty good on Monday. My right elbow hurt a little, but it wasn't bad. Then I woke up Tuesday morning to a lot of pain in both hands. So I decided that I had better give them a good rest this week, to be ready for that January challenge that's coming up. And since I'm not knitting or crocheting this week, I have decided to go ahead and inventory the stash instead. I really just wanted to get a handle on all my skeins of Simply Soft, but once I started I couldn't stop. So far, I have counted about a third of it, I think, and I am up to 33 miles or 290 skeins. I actually have 72 full skeins of Simply Soft, and lots of partial skeins as well! But I am straightening up as I go, so by the time I am finished (hopefully later today), my yarn room is going to be sparkling. The inventory is actually kind of fun. I feel like I am spending meaningful time with my stash and rediscovering it, which is great. Today, I am also going to make a comprehensive list of my WIPs as well. I may as well know how deep I am in in every way!

Of course, neither this knowledge nor the upcoming stash knitdown is going to stop me from doing one more stash buildup in 2007! Webs and Creative Fibers are both having after Christmas sales this week, so tomorrow Mom and I are going on a little road trip. There will probably be a stop at A C Moore as well. I will try to be somewhat restrained, but I can't resist sales this good. I just have to make sure I have a place to put the new acquisitions when I bring them home and not get into that "bags of yarn all over the floor" situation again, now that I have most of the bags picked up!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Log Cabin Afghan Finished - Check!


It took until 5:30 last night, right before dinner, but I got the log cabin afghan finished. I had finished crocheting the main body of the afghan on Saturday afternoon, but I didn't have the heart to start weaving in ends until Sunday. But it's finished, and I feel terrific about it! It took me just under 6 weeks to finish this one, which is definitely a personal best for me. Usually, an afghan takes me a year to finish! However, I said to my dh last night that I don't think I am going to crochet for a few days. I need a bit of a break.

I finished another scarf on Saturday as well. It was a simple garter stitch scarf made from Plymouth Eros. (I still need to weave ends in, so no picture.) That makes 4 finished scarves this month, along with everything else I have been finishing. So I think I might cast on 1 or 2 new scarves this week. I really enjoy knitting scarves. They are so portable and fun, and I can try out some new to me stitch patterns. Then, by the end of the week, when I am up for crocheting again, I can get back to making some chemo hats.

Wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy holiday season!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Inventory

Along with inspiration and crazy challenges, the Great Stash Knitdown of 2008 has presented me with a deep, philosophical question - to inventory or not to inventory the stash. On the one hand, it would be extremely useful to know just exactly how deep I am in with my stash. Even though some of it is squirreled away, I do have a pretty good idea of what's where and what yarns I own. However, I have no clue how many yards (or miles) of yarn are in the stash, and that knowledge could be very motivating! On the other hand, inventorying the stash would be extremely time consuming, and that's time I could be spending knitting and crocheting. The other problem with doing an inventory is a lack of floor space in the yarn room at the moment. I can drag all of the yarn out of the various hiding places, but then I would have nowhere to put it to actually inventory it.

So my current solution to this dilemma is this. Starting in January, I am going to keep track of skeins & yardage used. As I whittle down the stash and reclaim floor space in the yarn room, I will begin to inventory what's left. Eventually, I will have a better sense of what I have used over the course of 2008 and what's left to be used. I think that will use my time more efficiently, while giving me the knowledge I need to get the stash under control.

Starting tomorrow, posting will be somewhat sporadic until after the holidays. However, I promise you that as soon as I finish the log cabin afghan, you all will be the first to know! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I've Done It Again

Yes, I have agreed to another foolhardy challenge on Ravelry! Actually, the challenge itself isn't foolhardy, but I suspect that my belief that I can accomplish it is. As part of the Great Stash Knitdown of 2008, our first challenge is to knit or crochet a mile of yarn between January 5th and February 19th. (The dates may seem a little odd, but they coincide with the robotics challenge, and one of the moderators is really involved in robotics.) Just so you know, a mile of yarn is 1,760 yards. So we need to use up just over 38 yards a day. Perfectly doable!

We can work on our WIPs/UFOs during the challenge. This would be a very sensible approach. However, once I realized that a mile of yarn is basically a pair of socks and a sweater, I couldn't get that thought out of my head. I mean, I need to knit a pair of socks in January for the sock KAL anyway, so why not tackle a sweater as well. I have been doing pretty well getting some things finished, so I deserve to start a new project, right? The real problem is going to be the fact that I have never finished knitting a sweater. I have started 2, and I did finish a crocheted sweater (after working on it for 2 years). So there's no reason I can't start and finish a sweater in 7 1/2 weeks! See what I mean about foolhardy?

In my defense, one of the sweaters I started was an aran knit that I really wasn't ready for, and now I know that I don't have enough yarn to finish it. I'm still debating what to do with it. And the other sweater was miles of stockinette, which was really boring, so I put it down. The sweater I want to knit in January is the Nantucket Jacket from IK Winter 2006. I'm hoping it will be an interesting knit that isn't too challenging. So I think that it will become my focus project for January.

I am also going to try to be sensible next week when I am off from work and finish a couple of projects that are close to being done before I start the new projects. I started the last round on the log cabin afghan last night, and I intend to have it finished this weekend so that I can take it to my friend next week. I would also like to finish the Lucy bag, 1 or 2 scarves and some chemo hats before the end of the year. Then I will be in good shape for January.

Wish me luck!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Ripple, It is Finished!


Well, I did it. I sat down Friday night and wove in all the ends on my ripple afghan, and it is finished! It only took 4 hours to weave in the ends. Or put another way, it took viewing the Newshour and the entirety of "It's A Wonderful Life". But it's finished, and I have really been enjoying sitting under it the past few evenings.

The 'ghan is 42.5" wide and about 60" long. It's a smidge longer than necessary, but I wanted 3 full color repeats. I used 15 colors of Caron Simply Soft, chosen randomly at first. Then, once I had used all the colors, I repeated the same sequence twice more.

However, apparently there is "no end in sight", because now my dh would like one too! He is going to chose 7 of the colors I used, and then I will use those colors the same way I did with mine. The only difference I am going to make is to use a J hook instead of an H hook. Mine is a little denser and heavier than I would like. I am using the J for the log cabin 'ghan, and I am much happier with the weight of that one.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Snow Day Crochet

We had quite a bit of snow here in CT yesterday, thanks to Winter Storm Alexander. (Yes, we name our winter storms here in Connecticut.) I went in to work in the morning, and we were busy for a while. But we closed the library at 12:30, so I had at least half a snow day at home. We didn't go out to clean the driveway until about 8:00 last night, so I had lots of crochet time in the afternoon. I decided to focus on the log cabin afghan, and I am happy to report that I am three quarters of the way through round 7. That leaves one more round, plus 2 rows of sc around the entire afghan, and it will be done. There is an end in sight! Then, last night, as a reward, I finished the crocheting on my ripple afghan. All that's left is to weave in the ends, and it will be done. I'll post a picture once it's ready for its photo shoot.

Speaking of focus, I settled on a name for my 2008 plan of action that I posted about on Wednesday (in what I am pretty sure was the world's most boring blog post). I'm going to call it my "focus project of the month". I am going to try to set weekly goals and post about the project each week to help keep me on track. If I can get the focus project finished more quickly, then I might have 2 in one month. We'll have to see how it goes. I think the focus project for January is going to be the Lucy Bag. I'm getting ready to have that one finished.

I have a busy weekend coming up. Tomorrow, we are going to help my inlaws get their tree set up, although I don't think we are staying to help decorate. And then on Sunday, I intend to spend the day decorating my own house, as well as catching up on housework and laundry. I'm really getting ready to have the house look more Christmas-y. So, as always, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Goals for 2008

Since Thanksgiving, I have been thinking a lot about my goals for 2008. Thanks to all the Ravelry groups I have joined, my goals now include knitting a pair of socks a month, knitting from my stash, and finishing or frogging all of my WIPs/UFOs. Those are all worthy goals, but I think I need a few more specifics about how to accomplish them.

One of the things that has occurred to me is that I don't have a problem finishing items when I have a deadline to work towards. My problem is finishing those items, especially bigger items, that don't come with a deadline attached. Most of those types of items are for me, although I do have some blankets started that I would like to donate to charity "some day" that have also been sitting around for a long while. So that is one problem I need to address.

I also feel like I didn't really stretch and learn many new techniques this past year. Making 100 items for charity was a fun challenge, but it took a lot of time, and I think I need to do things differently next year. It's time to make some garments and learn about the design elements involved in garment construction, for instance.

I am also struggling with the whole "3 WIPs at a time" thing. Even if I choose my 3 WIPs carefully, I still wander off to work on other projects from time to time. I'm trying to finish an afghan, but I need a small travel project to tote with me. Or the spirit just moves me to finish a scarf that isn't on my list of 3. So apparently I need a tad more flexibility in my projects than just 3 allows.

Then, yesterday, I had a brief conversation with one of my knitting buddies at work. She mentioned a couple of projects that just needed some finishing done on them, and we talked about how hard and boring that can be. She also mentioned a Yahoo group that is focused just on finishing projects. Apparently, they choose so many projects a month and the challenge is to finish them up.

So last night, all of these thoughts came together in my head, and I came up with a new plan of attack:

1. Start no more than 1 new project a month that doesn't have a deadline and make every effort to use stash yarns for these projects. I will also try to have some months when I don't start anything new, so that I come out ahead at the end of 2008. But if I don't allow myself to occasionally start something new, I will never stick to this plan.
2. Work on whatever projects I feel like throughout the month.
3. Pick one ongoing project a month to finish. I don't have to work on this project exclusively, but I do have to make a serious effort to finish whichever project I pick. No returning it to UFO status.

I'm hopeful that this will help me to clean out at least some of the old UFOs while leaving me free to work on socks, charity items and other new projects. If I stick to this, I anticipate that it will take time away from my charity projects, which is why I don't want to set a numerical goal next year. I just want to do what I can do, work through some of my stash, and enjoy myself.

Now we'll just have to see how successful I am at sticking to this plan!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Soaring Eagles Donation


I finished the mittens I had started over the weekend, so I have 3 pairs of mittens to send to Rachel tomorrow morning. I wish it were more, but it's the best I can do this year. All 3 pairs were made with Wool Ease, which knits up surprisingly soft.

Now it's on to finishing the log cabin 'ghan and starting on some chemo hats.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Lily Chin Inspiration!

We had such a great guild meeting yesterday! Of course I forgot my camera, as usual, so we might have to rely on Dee for pictures. She hasn't posted yet, but I imagine when she does, she will have pictures from yesterday's meeting.

The centerpiece of our meeting was a visit from Lily Chin, knit and crochet designer and the world's fastest crocheter! She brought samples from her new book, Couture Crochet, which we were able to examine up close, as well as samples from individual patterns that she uses to promote her yarn line. Seaport Yarn from NYC came with her and sold yarns from her line as well. (And I was good and didn't buy anything.) I think the piece that really caught my eye was her convertible coat. One size fits all, and the piece just had such drape when worn! It is definitely going on my "to do" list.

Lilly grew up in New York City and has worked in the Garment District since she was 13 years old. So she comes from a very different perspective than Doris Chan, which made what she had to say even more interesting. I had to chuckle a bit, though, when she was trying to get us to name the 15 designers in the world who are licensed to create couture in France. We really struggled to come up with names, and I found myself thinking that even watching Project Runway hadn't prepared me to answer this question! However, I really appreciated her definition of couture (high quality materials, hand sewing, and fitted to a particular body) and how that relates to the patterns in her new book.

I also managed to get a pair of mittens done to the point that they only need thumbs, which I will try to finish tonight. I think that might be my last pair of mittens for Soaring Eagles, though. I need to shift over to making chemo hats, because the guild would like to put together a donation in January. We need to thank the hospital for allowing us to meet there, and chemo hats are how we do that. And since the hospital now has 1,200 (yes, you read that right) cancer patients, we really need a large donation. However, I am already thinking about ways to incorporate some of Lily's tips and suggestions into my chemo hats, to make them softer yet denser, so I am really excited to start on this project.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Back with FOs!

Well, this week didn't go as planned. It turned into a bad week at work. For some reason, there was just a lot of negative energy around, and that combined with the hormones that were eating my brain to make for one unhappy week. I work with 20 women, and every so often we go through a spell when there is just too much estrogen in the building, and this past week was one of those times. Anyway, it was the kind of week that makes me glad I have my crafting to turn to for stress relief.

I know that I am supposed to be making mittens and working on my log cabin afghan, and I am still working on both those projects. However, I also got possessed this week to finish up some scarves I have been working on for ages. So I have not one, not two, but three scarf FOs to show you all!
I made the scarf to the right with Nashua Handknits Ivy, an alpaca blend, and the Yarn Harlot's One Row Scarf. I crocheted the scarf on the left. I used Ritratto and alternating blo and flo hdcs. And finally, the scarf on the seat of the chair is made from Plymouth Suri Merino, a merino/alpaca blend. I used a triangular scarf pattern from an old Leisure Arts booklet. Even finishing these 3 scarves, I still have 6 scarf WIPs, so I am going to try and continue to finish some of them as I work on my other projects.

This will be the last week for the Soaring Eagles project, and I am going to try to make one more pair of mittens before I send everything off. I have just started round 6 of the log cabin 'ghan, and I am anxious to finish that quickly as well. Once I finish that, I am only 5 1/2 rows away from finishing my ripple, so I am hoping that might be done by Christmas as well. And then, over the holidays, I am contemplating making something from Doris Chan's new book. I think this might become a new Christmas tradition for me - working up a Doris Chan pattern over the holiday week. It worked so well last year that I think it's worth another try!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Happy December!

Just a quick note to say that the contest is officially closed. Now we have to wait and see what I can accomplish over the next month!

This turned into a hectic week, and I wasn't home much. I did finish another pair of mittens, but that was about it. (I will post one picture of all the mittens I send to Soaring Eagles.) Hopefully I will accomplish a bit more this weekend.

As always, have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CGOA Meme

Ok, I was tagged the other day to answer the first ever CGOA meme. So here I go!

1. Begin by including a link to the person who tagged you.
2. Answer the question: Are you crocheting something that you would not be crocheting if you were not a CGOA Member?
Or more broadly this question: "How has your experience of crochet been changed by your CGOA membership?" Give a single one-line answer.
3. For extra credit, end by linking to 3 (or 5, for extra credit) other bloggers among whom you'd like to see squirm publicly with this challenging, yet strangely satisfying essay question.

1. This one is easy - Dee tagged me.

2. This one is also easy - Doris Chan's moebius shawl. I would never have found Doris's patterns if it weren't for the CGOA and my local guild. The second part is a little harder. Not being really active with the CGOA, I have to point again to my experiences with my local guild and say that I have learned so much from the incredibly creative and talented people who attend the meetings. Knowing them and learning from them has improved my crocheting significantly. (OK, that's 2 sentences, but oh well!)

3. This one is almost impossible. The problem is that I know people who belong to CGOA, but I have no idea if they read my blog. So I tag Jen and anyone else who is reading and is a CGOA member!
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Just a quick reminder that the contest is still open until Friday night. Answers are starting to come in, but the more the merrier!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Danger of Ravelry...

...or what I did last week while I wasn't blogging. Not blogging freed up quite a bit of my time last week, and yes, I spent more time on Ravelry. I have to admit that at first, I wasn't sure about the forums and groups over there. It was like coming into the middle of hundreds of ongoing conversations, and it took a while for me to sort it all out. I kept feeling like everyone was talking but no one was listening. But last week, I had time to post more, and I discovered that when I post, people would answer back.

However, posting more on Ravelry has a hidden danger, too. I'm still enjoying the Weight Watchers group and the "So much to knit, so little time" group a lot. However, in addition to committing to 3 WIPs at a time, I have also now committed to exercising 3 times a week and losing 10 lbs. before Christmas. I'm not sure my friends and family could get these kinds of commitments out of me, but I have no problem making these promises to complete strangers!

Then, yesterday, I decided to explore the tag cloud. This is an alphabetical listing of all the tags used to describe all the groups on Ravelry. Clicking on any word will bring up a list of groups tagged with that word. Most of the words didn't interest me that much, but I made the mistake of clicking on the word "socks". That's how I found the "2008 sock knit along", which I rather impetuously joined. So I have now apparently committed to making a pair of socks a month for the whole of next year. We are starting with a basic ribbed sock in January, and then we will work up degrees of difficulty from there. It wasn't until much later in the day that it occurred to me that I might have a problem squaring the 3 WIPs at a time rule with a yearlong sock KAL. It may have to become 4 WIPs at a time. But at least it will use up some of my sock yarn stash.

And speaking of my stash, I have to close with a little anecdote. Over the past few weeks, my dh and I were talking about the fact that we need to reroof the house in about 5 years. Our plan is to take out a home equity loan and remodel the kitchen and the master bedroom and bathroom at the same time. He mentioned that he had planned on moving us and our queen sized bed into the guest room (aka the yarn room) during the remodeling but that at the moment that didn't seem like a possibility. (There's barely room to walk in there, the stash has taken over so.) But I assured him that 5 years was plenty of time to take care of the problem. You may have heard of Stalin's famous 5 year plans? Well, this is Priscilla's 5 year plan. I have 5 years to finish all my WIPs and use up my stash so that we can actually use the yarn room as a bedroom again. Think I can stick to a 5-year yarn diet? Yeah, me neither, but at least all these rash promises to strangers on Ravelry might actually help me move in the right direction!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back to Reality

Well, I'm back from my Thanksgiving blog break. I hope everyone had a great holiday. We had a very nice day with the family on Thursday. Then I had to work on Friday and Saturday, but it was ok - not too busy at the library. I also had a good week on Weight Watchers. I tried to do everything right all week, and I am back to exercising more regularly. It paid off, because I weighed in on Friday morning and I was down 1.2 lbs., even with the holiday! I was very happy with that. Now hopefully I can keep it going until Christmas!

I did not do so well with my crafting, however. I felt rather distracted most of the week by the holiday and the copious amounts of housework I needed to do. However, I had nothing pressing to do yesterday besides laundry, so I sat and worked on my 3 projects all day. (The Torchwood marathon on BBCAmerica kept me company while I crafted!)

I am having a slight problem with my log cabin 'ghan, though. After I have worked on it just a little bit, my hands start to hurt. I've never had this happen before, but I think because I am just doing hdc over and over again, my hands are cramping. So I sat with ice on them for a while last night, and I will see if that helps. Otherwise, I am just going to work on the 'ghan very slowly.

And finally, I had a rather disappointing response to my contest. However, I realize that a lot of people were busy and off line last week, so I have decided to keep the contest open this week as well. I will accept guesses until the end of Friday, November 30th. I will have the link to the info up on my sidebar all week. So what do you have to lose? Send me a guess, and you might win a skein of yarn!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

#100 and The Contest!

Ok, it isn't another pair of mittens. I decided that it would take too long to hit my goal if I tried to knit another pair. And it isn't on my 3 WIPs at a time list (I have so fallen off that bandwagon). However, I give you my 100th item for charity in 2007:
One of my friends at crochet guild is putting together a donation for St. Jude Children's Hospital, and she asked me to make a hat. So I decided to whip one up last night and get to my goal this weekend.

And at last, the contest! It occurred to me that even though I have met my goal for the year, there is still over a month to go and I still have charitable obligations to meet. But how many more charitable items will I be able to make before 2008? I don't know, but I thought I would give you all a chance to guess. Email me your guess at byhookorneedles at yahoo dot com (you know the drill - replace at and dot with the appropriate symbols) by next Sunday evening, Nov. 25th. Please put "contest" in the subject line. I won't read your emails until the end of the year, but I will put all of them in a folder until January 1st. Then I will announce the winner on January 1st or 2nd. If more than one of you guess correctly, I will draw names out of a hat to pick the winner. I will also enter everyone who emails me a guess into a drawing for a second prize.

Ah, yes, the prizes! For the person who makes the correct guess as to how many items I can make for the rest of the year, I will offer to make and donate one item to the charity of your choice in 2008. (Just be aware that if you ask for something big, like a blanket, it will probably take all year to make!) And for the random drawing of all entries, the prize will be this skein of yarn (without the shawl pin - sorry, I don't have time this morning to take another picture):
Hand dyed Icelandic wool. So please spread the word. I would love to have a great response to this contest. And please leave me a comment if you have any questions about the contest.

In order to keep this post at the top of the blog for the week, I am going to take the week off from blogging. I need to get my house ready for Thanksgiving, and I have this crazy idea that I would like to finish my log cabin 'ghan by next weekend. So let me wish everyone a terrific Thanksgiving, and I will be back next week, hopefully with FOs.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

99...


...and counting!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Knit Unto Others 2007

So today is the start of Knit Unto Others. This is a very low key charity along that asks us to knit (or crochet) something for charity during the Thanksgiving holiday. And if you let them know what you've made at the end of the 2 week period, you get put into a drawing for prizes! How great is that?! This year, they are focusing on children's items, and one of their featured charities is the Soaring Eagles Project. I'm pleased they picked that one, because we still need more help to reach our goal of 300 mittens and socks/slippers.

As it turns out, I should have time this weekend for crafting, despite needing to get the house ready for Thanksgiving. (I'm having the family here this year, although there are only 8 of us, so it's not so bad.) I have a 3 1/2 day weekend coming up. I will work next Tuesday and then be off again until Friday. Unfortunately, I am working the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, but at least I will have some time this weekend. And I intend to spend it working on my new afghan and mittens.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It Started with the Ripple Along...

...and I thought to myself that I must ripple. Then came the Granny Along, and I thought why not, even though I have yet to truly start a granny square afghan. And now, well let's just say that I fell off the 3 projects at a time bandwagon last night in a big way! Yes, last night I succumbed to Log Cabin Fever!
Between last night and this morning, I finished 2 rounds. The top edge is a little tight, but I will fix that in the next round. I have to say that this is the most addictive afghan yet. Adding each color is endlessly fascinating. I'm using a pattern from Crochet Today, Aug/Sept. 06 issue, but I am using hdc instead of seed st, and I replaced all the greens in the original pattern with blues. I didn't want to spend the time figuring out my own color scheme, though, so I am using the one in the pattern. And instead of the Red Heart Super Saver that the pattern called for, I am using Caron Simply Soft. (I pulled out all of my SS to choose colors last night, and it turns out that I have enough SS to just about fill a queen size bed. I didn't have the courage to actually count the skeins! Sadly, this blanket won't even make a dent in my stash.)

I do have a good reason for starting this afghan and shredding my 3 projects at a time rule. I'm just not at liberty to say what it is yet. And as far as my 3 projects at a time, I have decided that I will work on the log cabin in place of the ripple, and I will continue to work on my scarf and my mittens. I really want to finish this afghan in a timely manner. So it's just a small cheat!

Oh, and I haven't forgotten about that contest I promised. I just need to push if off a couple of days. I'll try to announce it over the weekend.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Doris Chan Visit and Salvation Army Donation

Well, Dee was right - I am going to blog about our visit with Doris Chan yesterday! We had one of the most enjoyable guild meetings of the year yesterday. Doris brought her own crocheted garments (made from patterns in the book) to the meeting because the publisher still has the samples used in Everyday Crochet. She spent time talking about each type of garment in the book, including tank tops, pullovers, cardigans, vests and coats. It was fascinating hearing her discuss how to fit each type of garment to our individual bodies and how to alter each garment by making sleeves and bodies longer or shorter. I now officially want to make every pattern in the book!

Doris also generously allowed us to try on some of her garments. Despite the fact that Doris is 5'2" and thin and I am 5'6" and somewhat more heavily set, shall we say, her Mocha Roca cardigan fit both of us. Her use of shells means her garments have quite a bit of give, and this particular cardigan does not button up the front, which is why it would fit both of us. This was really instructive, because I would have made the size to fit my bust and then would have been unhappy when it was too loose. It's also a great thing to try on a garment and have the designer assess how you look in it. Doris looked at me in the cardigan and said that she wasn't sure that a raglan sleeve would look good on me until she saw me in the sweater. (My shoulders tend to be rounded and a little stooped, which I think is where the comment came from.) But the cardigan looked just fine on me, and it is definitely on my WIM list now.

Of course, the other big part of the meeting was the Salvation Army donation. It did my heart good to see the table piled high with hat, mitten and scarf sets, as well as toys for the toy drive. I arrived at the meeting with 7 sets and one hat finished.
Since I needed something to work on during the meeting, I decided to make a scarf to go with the white hat in the lower right hand corner of the picture. So before I left the meeting, I had an eighth set to donate.
That means that I have now donated 98 items to charity this year. I am going to work very hard over the next few days to make 2 pairs of mittens, bringing me to 100 items for the year. Then, to celebrate, I am contemplating a contest! Stay tuned for details later this week.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Focus!

Well, I still don't have much to show for myself this week. I am going to spend today finishing up a few more hat and scarf sets for Sunday. I have 2 sets in progress that I should be able to finish today. Then, if I buy a couple of scarves and whip out a couple of hats, I will have 10 sets for Sunday. Then it will be on to mittens.

I am also trying to focus on fewer projects and get them finished. This morning, over on the Ravelry group "So much to knit, so little time", I committed myself to working on just 3 projects at a time. I figured I would post the list here, too, just to reinforce my commitment!

When I started thinking in terms of 3 projects, I knew that I would have to have one crochet project, one knit project, and one charity project going at all times. So, as soon as I finish up the sets for Sunday, here is what I am going to be working on:

1. The crocheted ripple afghan - not a traveling project, but it is time to get it finished so I can snuggle under it this winter! It is about 2/3rds done, so I should have it done fairly soon.
2. The knitted triangular scarf - a great traveling project and probably about half done at this point. I want to finish it so I can wear it this winter.
3. Mittens for the Soaring Eagles project - also a great traveling project.

I don't mean to be obsessive about traveling projects, but between crochet guild, SnB, and doctors visits with my mom, I really do need to have some smaller projects to tote around with me.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Plea

I'm having one of those weeks. Between the time change, allergies, and hormones, I am tired and not accomplishing much. I still have a few days before my crochet guild meeting on Sunday, however, so hopefully I can squeak out another couple of hats and scarves before then.

In the meantime, since I have no FOs to show off yet, I want to put out another plea for the Soaring Eagles Project. Somehow, there don't seem to be many knitters & crocheters involved this year, and Rachel is really starting to worry that she won't get enough mittens and socks for the children. I won't be able to start mittens in earnest until next week, so realistically, I'm not going to have that many to send her. (And I wanted to send some mittens to Lynne, as well, so I am going to have to knit my fingers to the bone here!) Anyway, if you have any spare time, or spare mittens/socks lying around, please consider contacting Rachel.

I mentioned another charity project in passing last week, but I wanted to give it a proper mention here. The San Diego Wildfire Blanket Project is looking for 8" afghan squares, knitted or crocheted, which will be joined into blankets and given to families who lost their homes in the fire. This is an ongoing project with no deadlines as of yet, which is a good thing because I would like to donate, but I won't have time until the Soaring Eagles project is finished. Having lived in southern California for 16 years, I know how scary wildfires can be out there. My heart goes out to those who lost everything.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mitten Saga Finished!

It took me until Saturday afternoon last week, but I finally have 2 pairs of mittens that I am completely happy with! I finally feel like I am doing a consistently nice job making and finishing the mittens.

And, as it turned out, it was a good thing the mittens worked out, because I am feeling very frustrated this morning. After yesterday, I find myself wondering just exactly why I enjoy knitting and crocheting so much. Let me explain.

I have joined a new group on Ravelry called "So much to knit, so little time". It's a group for those of us with too many UFOs, and it turns out there are a lot of us with this problem! Anyway, I think the group is helping me to focus more, which is how I got the mittens done.

Since the crochet guild meeting is next Sunday, I decided that this week I would focus on that deadline. I would like to make another 3 hat & scarf sets for our charity donation, and I want to finish another Doris Chan project since she is coming to visit. So yesterday morning, I started to diligently work on the Chrysanthemum Tea Shawl. I got to the end of row 9 and realized that something was very wrong. The row did not work out right at all. I was supposed to have created the base of 12 chrysanthemum leaves, but somehow I had 13. And I have to say that the entire shawl just looked awful. There was plenty of drape but no body to it. I now think that the pattern really does need to be made out of a cotton yarn.

Anyway, since I couldn't figure out where I had made a mistake, the Chrysanthemum Tea Shawl has visited the frog pond and is no more. I will have to come up with another, more suitable, project for the yarn, because it really is lovely. I have another Doris Chan pattern I am working on - the moebius shawl - but I am not at all sure that I can finish that one by Sunday. The problem with the moebius is that it is not fun to crochet. I think I am really going to enjoy wearing it, but I am not enjoying making it.

But I keep reminding myself about the successful mittens, and for the moment, that is making me feel better.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Mitten Saga Continues!

While not quite as busy as last week, this week has its own share of things to do. I got my box for Warm Up Winchester in the mail yesterday, I am ready for Halloween tonight, and I have been working on the crochet guild's newsletter in an effort to get it in the mail on Friday. So I am slowly getting caught up, after my weekend away.

I thought today I would update my ongoing mitten saga. Last week, I worked diligently away on a pair of wool mittens. When I was finished, this is what I had:
2 identical mittens (ok, except for the thumbs). So identical, in fact, that they are both right hand mittens! I forgot that when you make mittens on 2 needles, which is how I usually make them, there is no right hand or left hand. However, when you make mittens in the round, you do need to pay attention and make the right and left hands slightly different. (I don't know why that is, but there you are.) So I started a third mitten last night. By the time I am done, I will have 2 pairs to donate to charity, so that's a good thing.

I also want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and sane Halloween, and even though it is only Wednesday, a great weekend as well. I'll try to pop in over the weekend with an update. If I don't get a chance, though, I'll be back next week, hopefully on a more regular blogging schedule.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Back from Northampton!

Despite the rain and some fairly chilly temps, we had a terrific weekend up in Northampton, MA. My dh visited about 8 used bookstores, while I did my thing with fiber. The marketplace at the Fibertwist was small, as expected, but I spent an enjoyable hour wandering around, seeing everything, and talking with some of the nicest vendors I have ever met. I restrained myself as far as buying went. I purchased one skein of an Icelandic wool and one shawl pin.
Unfortunately, my lazy brain picked a colorway on the Icelandic wool that is almost identical to one of the skeins I bought at Rhinebeck, so the new skein will probably be used as a prize in some future contest. Oh well, you can't win them all!

I also made it to Webs on Saturday afternoon. I spent about an hour and a half wandering around the warehouse and the store. I had decided before I left for the weekend that I wanted to make the Nantucket Jacket from the Winter 2006 issue of Interweave Knits. Happily, I found the perfect yarn in the Webs warehouse, at an excellent price.
Elsbeth Lavold Classic Al, an alpaca/merino blend, in a beautiful dark blue/grey color. I bought 14 skeins, which should give me a little fiber insurance in case something doesn't go well.

I'm not sure when I am going to start the sweater, however. I also did some thinking this weekend about all of the projects I currently have started, and I just have to get some of them finished before I start a big project like a sweater. I also have some charity obligations left before the end of the year. So I am going to try and be more focused and disciplined about my current WIPs before I go starting any new ones. We'll see how long this bout of self-righteousness lasts!

And before I go, here's a shot of my new scarf, using one of my Rhinebeck yarns. It was a delightful traveling project this weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fiber Twist

This has turned into a very busy week that has left me little time for blogging. And I have so many things I want to talk about that I'm a little frustrated right about now. There's the ongoing mitten saga, and there's the new scarf I started with some of my Rhinebeck yarn (because, you know, I needed another project). And there's another charity project looking for 8" squares. But that will all have to wait until next week, because today I want to talk about the upcoming weekend.

Since my birthday is coming up next Wednesday (yes, I was a Halloween baby), and since I will be stuck at home handing out candy on my birthday, my dh wants to get away this weekend to celebrate properly. Of course, such a weekend has to involve yarn and books to please both of us. So we are heading up to Northampton and Old Deerfield, Massachusetts on Saturday. I am going to spend some time at the Fiber Twist market, while he visits some book stores. I will also fit in a visit to Webs, while he visits a few more book stores. We'll have a nice dinner Saturday night, sleep in on Sunday morning, and then head for home later in the day. I wonder if I can persuade him to stop at AC Moore as well?

So it will be another fiberlicious weekend for me! I am going to take the new scarf along, since it is the perfect travel project, and see how much I can get done. I promise pictures next week. Have a great weekend, and I will be back next week with tales of my adventures!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rhinebeck!

So, of course today I have to blog about Rhinebeck! I thought I would just scatter some of the pictures I took yesterday throughout this post, without much explanation. There isn't much I can add, so I might as well let them speak for themselves.

I had the alarm set for 6:30 yesterday morning, which is my normal wake up time. However, my eyes popped open at 5 A.M., and I knew I wouldn't be getting back to sleep. I guess I really was excited about going! I had to be patient, though, and we finally arrived at the fairgrounds about 11:00.

Our first stop was the authors tent, but Margaret wasn't there yet. I was impressed, though, because Stephanie Pearl McPhee and Ann and Kay from Mason Dixon Knitting were both there. Unfortunately, I own all their books, so I didn't have a reason to speak with them. But it was still exciting to see them in person.

Then we started to shop. We went through one building with vendors in it, and then a second building that had the spinning guilds demonstrating and a lot of vendors selling food and wine. And I thought, this is ok, not too overwhelming. But then we moved on into the heart of the fair. All I can say is WOW! I had no idea there would be so many vendors in so many buildings. Not all of them sold yarn exclusively, but there was plenty of fiber to pet. And there were sheep and alpacas and llamas to look at. And people seemed to be spinning everywhere you looked. I don't think I have ever seen so much roving in one place.


So the rest of the day was spent shopping. I was good, though. I only adopted 3 skeins of yarn. I really concentrated on the hand spun and dyed yarns that I wouldn't be able to find anywhere else. My first skein came from Hamton Hills Alpacas in Somers, CT.
It is 250 yards of a sport weight alpaca in the colorway "Dark Jewel". I'm pretty sure this is destined to become a scarf.

I'm not sure where my second skein comes from. There was no label on it, and I didn't get a receipt. Nor did I pay attention to which stall I was in. But I fell in love with the color.
It is 200 yards of 100% merino fingering weight yarn. Again, it will probably become a scarf.

And finally, I bought a skein of "Duet" from Brooks Farm Yarn.
500 yards of a kid mohair/fine merino blend in a DK weight. It is soft and pretty, and I'm thinking maybe a small shawl/large scarf, possibly a Clapotis.

I can't wait to start some new projects!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mitten Love & Getting Ready for Rhinebeck!

Well, I spent yesterday working on a new mitten, and I am much happier with how this one is turning out. I am using some leftover Cascade 220 from a bag I felted in January, and I am obviously making it in the round. I would have finished yesterday, but I forgot to bring a tape measure with me. So it isn't quite finished. I promise I will make its mate right away, so I won't have to post again about second mitten syndrome! Since this one is 100% wool, I think I will donate it to Afghans for Afghans. Then I will start using acrylic blends for Soaring Eagles.

And speaking of mittens and charity, Lynne over at I was Knit Together in my Mother's Womb announced this morning that she is collecting mittens again this year for her From Hearts to Hands project. She has 3 or 4 groups in the Buffalo, NY area that she would like to collect for. I don't think I was able to send her any mittens last year, but this year I will see what I can do to send her a few pairs.

Finally, I have to admit that I am getting really excited about Sunday. I have charged the camera battery, so hopefully I will have some good pictures next week. I am still pondering what to wear, but I probably won't figure that out until Saturday or Sunday morning. This is silly, but some lines from an old Muppets song keep going through my head. I think the song was called "Cuanto La Gusta," and the lines go "Who will be there? What will we see there? And what will be the big surprise?" But that just sums up how I feel about Sunday. I'm not quite sure what to expect, but "we're going, and we're gonna have a happy time" (as the refrain ends up). So, as always, have a great weekend, and I will be back on Monday with tales from Rhinebeck!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Second Mitten Syndrome=Frustration

So far in my knitting life, I have avoided second sock syndrome. Of course, given the fact that I have only finished one pair of socks, with 2 more first socks on the needles, that's not saying much. With enough time, I'm sure I can develop second sock syndrome!

In the meantime, I seem to have a very bad case of second mitten syndrome. I was digging around in my box of charity projects a while back, and I found 3 single mittens, all needing mates. So this weekend, I declared war on second mitten syndrome. Unfortunately, my efforts to knit mates for mittens that were made years ago have not gone all that well.

Exhibit A - the yellow mittens:
The one on the left was made years ago, the one on the right was knit on Sunday. They are the same size, but not exactly the same shape.

Exhibit B - the pink mittens:
Again, the one on the left was knit some time ago. Obviously, this pair is the same shape but not at all the same size.

I will donate the yellow pair, on the theory that a toddler probably won't care if the mittens aren't exactly identical. However, even though I don't like waste, I am ready to cut my losses and give up on the pink mittens. I'm not sure I can duplicate the larger one, and I am getting really tired of knitting mittens flat and then seaming them. It's just so much easier to knit mittens in the round, and they come out looking better, too. So I think I am going to start on a fresh pair and make both mittens at the same time (without years of lag time between them).

Oh, and that 3rd mitten I found? It's crocheted using a pattern similar to this one. The problem is that I have to count every stitch on every row, so they take a lot longer than knitting (and I don't say that very often). However, as I have time, I will try to make a mate for that one as well. Hopefully, that one will go better than the last 2!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Middle of October Already!

How did this happen? How did it get to be October 15th already? I realize that the last few weeks have been a bit of a blur for me, between my mom's illness and then my own cold the last few days. But usually October drags a bit. It's a long month, and my birthday is the last day of the month, so usually October seems to take a long time to get through. But not this year.

It has also finally hit me that Rhinebeck is this coming weekend! I am definitely going on Sunday with some of my fellow guild members. However, I have had to admit that I am not going to finish anything new to wear while I am there. Maybe next year I can be more prepared.

And if I don't get busy here, I won't have much to show for the month, either! I worked on some mittens yesterday. I want to try to finish one tonight, and then I will post pictures tomorrow. But I also need to get back to making some scarves, since Dee's challenge only runs until the end of the month. Although, with Rhinebeck this coming weekend and a birthday trip to Deerfield and Northampton, Mass, planned for the following weekend, I'm not really sure how much I ultimately will accomplish this month.

Finally, I want to let everyone know that Rachel has posted final details for this year's Soaring Eagles project. It looks like we are making mittens for the younger children and socks or slippers for the older kids. Maybe I can start a pair of socks this month and celebrate Socktoberfest while I do some charity knitting!

Friday, October 12, 2007

My First Button Attempt

For those of you who read this blog through a subscription service, I want you to know that I have been playing around with Adobe Photoshop (finally!), and I have designed a button for myself. It seems to be a good size. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not Much New to Report

Things have been a little hectic around here the past few days. Mom was discharged last Thursday from the hospital and actually got to go home instead of to rehab. She was very tired the first few days, but she seems to be doing better now, which is a good thing, because she has doctor visits just about every day this week. Since she's not driving yet, my schedule is in shambles trying to get her to all the appointments on time.

After getting Mom settled in at home on Thursday, I arrived home to find my dh in bed, sick with a cold. So between taking care of him and getting the housework done, I just didn't have a lot of energy for crafting over the weekend. (I'm also sitting here this morning wondering if I am now coming down with his cold and trying not to think about it.) I am knitting away on my triangular scarf while waiting to get in to see Mom's doctors, so I might have another FO one of these days. But I have so many projects I want to work on that I am feeling a little frustrated.

I am happy to report that Rachel has decided to revive the Soaring Eagles project this year. She has enough hats left over from last year that she already has a hat for every child in her school. So she is looking for suggestions about what to make for this year. If you have any ideas, leave a comment on the blog by Friday.

I probably won't post much the rest of the week. I have to go to work early Thursday and Saturday to make up some of the time I am spending with Mom this week, and Friday is Weight Watchers. So have a great rest of the week and weekend, and I will be back next week, maybe with something to show for myself!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Chrysanthemum Tea Shawl Progress Report


Since Dee has a picture of me and my Chrysanthemum Tea Shawl up on her blog this morning, I thought I should post a picture here as well and give you all an update. As you can see, I have 6 rows done so far. I only have 2 more rows of the openwork in the middle and then I will be starting to create the flowers. I am using Rowan Yarn Cashsoft Baby Dk, a merino/microfibre/cashmere blend. I do love those luxury fibers! The yarn is extremely soft, and I think the shawl will have a nice drape when it is finished.

And here is the book I bought out from under Dee! It's going to take some time to absorb all of the ideas in this book. The motifs and blocks are adorable. There are instructions for crocheting every letter of the alphabet, as well as a really cute Christmas tree applique and a square with a Scottie dog in the middle of it. And there are pages of patterns that incorporate the various motifs and blocks. So this book should keep me busy for quite a while!

Obviously, I had a great time at Borders yesterday morning. I was a little distracted, waiting to see if my mom was being discharged (she wasn't, so we are hoping for today), but it was so nice to be surrounded by beautiful crochet and pleasant conversation while I waited. It turned out that Kathy and Patty, who had just joined us yesterday morning, both live in my town and know me from the library. So, all in all, it was a lovely way to spend a Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mom Update

I wanted to thank Valerie for her good wishes for my mom's recovery, and I realized that I should probably give you all a quick update. She is doing much better. The fever/infection has run its course, and her speech is really coming back. She has been working with a speech therapist in the hospital, and I hear improvement daily. The problem has been that her blood pressure is still spiking. Over all, it is coming down, but then it spikes up again. So I was sure she was being discharged yesterday, but at the last minute they decided to keep her another day. Hopefully they will discharge her today, because she is really tired of being in the hospital. A rehab facility isn't home, but at least she can wear real clothes and get in the shower while she is there, and she should only be there a week or so.

Yesterday was also my dh's birthday. Luckily, I had gotten his gifts ahead of time (thank goodness for Amazon.com), so I was able to spoil him last night. We went out for a terrific dinner, then visited with Mom briefly, and got home in time to watch "Cavemen" on TV and open his presents. (He wanted to watch the show, and it was his birthday, so what could I say?!)

Of course, this explains why I'm having another week when I'm not getting much stitching done! Hopefully, I will be able to drop in to my guild's "Coffee, Chat and Crochet" this morning for a little while at least. And if Mom is discharged today, that will involve a lot of waiting when I can get some stitches in. As always, I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Rocky Road Shrug Pattern Corrections

Between my mom being in the hospital and my having no internet connection at home last week, I forgot all about posting the corrections to Doris Chan's Rocky Road Shrug pattern. So let me do that this morning. (My corrections are in bold.)

Row 2 (WS)(INC): Ch 5 (counts as dc, ch2), *sc in first ch-sp of shell, ch 3, sk next ch-sp of shell, sc in next ch-sp of shell, ch 3, V-st in next sc, ch 3, sk first dc of next shell*, sc in first ch-sp of shell, ch 3, sk next ch-sp of shell, sc in next ch-sp of shell, ch 3, sk first dc of next shell; rep from * to * once, sc in first ch-sp of shell, ch 3, sk next ch-sp of shell, sc in next ch-sp of shell, ch 2, dc in 3rd ch of tch, turn.

Row 8: Ch 4 (counts as hdc, ch 2) [omit "sk next ch-sp of shell"] *sc in next ch-sp of shell, ch 3, sk first dc of next shell, sc in first ch-sp of shell, ch 3; rep from * 9 times, except omit last ch 3, instead work ch 2, hdc in top of tch, turn.

The more I thought about it, I realized that there isn't a mistake in row 10. You just have to read it very carefully, because there should only be 2 increases or V-stitches, which set up each sleeve. It can just be confusing if you read the row too quickly.

You may be wondering why I haven't posted another picture of the shrug. Well, it's like this - I started the second sleeve and promptly ran out of yarn. I was really surprised, because I have had yarn left over with every other Doris Chan pattern I have made. I have no hope of getting more yarn at this point, so I am going to try making both sleeves 3/4 length. I'm not sure when I will get to that, though. I'll have to see how my time goes. Luckily I have other Doris Chan patterns to work on in the meantime!

Monday, October 01, 2007

I'm In!

After putting my name on the Ravelry invite list in July, I have been waiting patiently and keeping myself busy with other things (as you all well know). But it finally happened this morning - I got my invitation and I'm in! How exciting! I took a few minutes to look around, but I am going to have to find quite a bit more time to really explore the site. In the meantime, my user name is PriscillaM (I know, really original!), so feel free to look me up. And now I have a Flickr account too. I will have to upload some photos and learn how to use that site as well. So much to do, so little time!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Longer Break than I Intended!

Wow! I had no intention of taking a 10-day break from blogging, but sometimes life happens, and you just have to go with it.

I knew I would be taking a few days off after my last post. We were installing new computers at work, and my schedule was a little crazy. The installation went well, although working the bugs out afterward took several days. But last weekend, I discovered that I no longer had an internet connection at home. Unfortunately I didn't have time to sit on the phone for hours, so I put off dealing with the issue for a few days. I finally found the time yesterday morning to fix the problem, so I am happy to be back online.

Then, at lunchtime on Tuesday, I got a call from the place my mom lives. She had made it down to lunch, but while she was eating her speech became slurred and she had trouble using her knife and fork. They wanted to call 911, and I arrived there in time to meet the EMTs. Long story short, she is still in the hospital. She didn't have a stroke, thank goodness. She has a mild case of pneumonia and an infection in the lining of her brain. Her blood pressure was also sky high, but it is finally settling down. When she is discharged tomorrow or the next day, she is going to a rehab facility for a while.

So, as you can guess, I haven't accomplished much lately in terms of FOs. I did get 2 items finished this month:
A scarf and a pair of mittens, both going to Warm Up Winchester. I used a wool yarn from Cleckheaton for the scarf, and Plymouth Encore for the mittens. This brings my charity total to 93 for the year. So I just need 7 more items next month, and I will reach my goal of 100 items for charity. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Because Nobody Can Make Just One!

I think I have discovered an unwritten rule of the universe - I must make 2 of every Doris Chan pattern I attempt. Seriously - I made 2 Shoop Shoop Capelets. I just bought yarn for 2 Rocky Road Shrugs. I have enough yarn to make 2 moebius shawls (although I am really bogged down with the first one). And I have the yarn to make another Blue Curacao Shawl. The Chrysanthemum Tea Shawl is the only pattern so far that I only plan to make one of. I'll have to see how it goes with the new book. So far, I only want to make one of most of the patterns, but that could easily change!

So, as promised, here are pictures of my new WIPS. The first picture doesn't look like much, but it is the Rocky Road Shrug with the left sleeve almost done.
I find this is typically true of Doris' patterns. They look like a bit of a mush until all of a sudden, everything comes together and you can see what you are making and it's beautiful. In real life, this happened when I started the left sleeve. It's just hard to make out in the picture. I'll try to take a better picture when it is finished.

Unfortunately, I do have to report that I did find some errors in the pattern, specifically in rows 2, 8 and 10 of the back. (Karen, you are right to have some questions.) The error in row 2 really took some figuring out, because I didn't understand the stitch pattern yet. So far, the sleeve instructions seem to be spot on. I will try to finish this up over the weekend, and I will post the specific errors and my corrections next week.

And here's a picture of the knitted shrug.
I'm using Simply Soft Shadows, colorway Pearl Frost, and the Simple Shrug pattern from Caron. It is knitting up so soft! It's going to be like wearing a hug when it's finished.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Good News!

Well, I got out on my shopping expedition last Friday. I visited a Joann's superstore (which only had 2 aisles of yarn, so I was a little underwhelmed), AC Moore, Big Lots, and my LYS. I bought yarn everywhere except Big Lots, although I did find a bag of beads there, and I came home with 6 new projects as well as a couple of spare skeins.

Happily, I came home with enough yarn to make 2 versions of the Rocky Road Shrug from Doris Chan's Amazing Crocheted Lace. Happily, indeed, because on Friday, Dee wrote to say that Doris Chan is going to be attending our November crochet guild meeting! We had expressed an interest at the September meeting in having Doris come visit again, and Dee jumped right on it! So now, as I plan my new and upcoming projects, Doris Chan patterns will loom large. I would really like to get a few more of her patterns made up before the 2nd Sunday in November. Of course, her new book should arrive today from Amazon, which should seriously add to my WIMs!

I will have time tomorrow to take pictures of the WIPs I started this weekend, which include one Rocky Road Shrug and another knitted shrug, but today I will leave you with this picture (lest you think I have completely forgotten my charity work).
This makes my 6th hat, mitten & scarf set for the year, and my first entry for Dee's 60 Scarves in 60 Days contest. The hat and scarf are made from Simply Soft Shadows Fuschia Flare colorway.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Knitting for Rhinebeck

As I have been on my quest for a new knitting pattern, it has been in the back of my mind that it might be fun to make something to wear at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in October. I know some of the bloggers I read are already working on projects. Beth is making a hoodie, and Susan has just designed a shawl for the event. Realistically, I'm not going to get a sweater or a shawl made by October 20th. My other concern is that the weather can be somewhat unpredictable in October here in the Northeast. Anything from cool and crisp to rain to really warm tempuratures are possible. So maybe a scarf or a vest might make sense. I'll see what I can find on tomorrow's shopping expedition.

In the meantime, one of the ladies at SnB has proposed a sweater KAL for our Tuesday night meetings. So now I am busy looking at sweater patterns as well. Since I am still losing weight, I think a cardigan makes sense, since it should continue to fit regardless of how much more weight I lose. I have a few ideas, although I'm surprised by how many patterns don't speak to me at all. But I do really like some of Sally Melville's designs, and I want to go through my Elizabeth Zimmerman books as well. So stay tuned - I have to make a decision and settle on one or two new projects one of these days!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

WIP Wednesday

I'm still wrestling with the desire for a shiny new project, and I'm still looking through patterns. This morning it has been crochet patterns for a change. I went back through my issues of Interweave Crochet, so now I have even more ideas in my head for future projects. And there is definitely a shopping expedition planned for my day off on Friday!

But for today, I thought I would show you the 2 knitting WIPs that are getting the most attention this week. The first is the triangular scarf I started over the weekend. It is still a small triangle, but it should start to grow quickly:
I am using Plymouth Yarn Suri Merino, and the picture doesn't do the colorway justice. The yarn is a mix of blue/green and purple, and every time I look at it I think of Scotland. I've only been to Scotland once, when I was 9 years old, but I still remember seeing the land from the plane as we were arriving and thinking how it looked like a patchwork quilt - with large patches of purple and green. So this yarn is filling my heart with joy as I work with it.

The second project is one that I found while rooting around this weekend. I started this shawl quite a while ago, but then I stopped working on it because I wasn't sure I liked it. The lace pattern is so vertical that it's a little boring to look at. I also wasn't sure if I had enough yarn to make it the size I wanted, because it is about 2" wider than I had intended. However, I measured it again this weekend and decided that I do have enough yarn. And it is just so soft! The yarn is an alpaca, wool and cashmere blend from Elann. And quite frankly, the stitch pattern (called trellis lace) is boring because I wanted an easy lace stitch so that I could become familiar with lace knitting before I tackle a more complicated project. So I am very glad I never got around to frogging it, as I am really enjoying working on it again.

Monday, September 10, 2007

R&R, But Not Much Else!

Yes, I actually have nothing to show for myself after this weekend. I know, shocking, or at least unusual for me! I do feel rested and like my batteries are recharged, though. And I had a lot of fun looking through my stash of both yarn and patterns. The problem I kept running into, though, was that I have yarn for projects I'm not ready to start and projects I want to make that I don't have yarn for. So there might just be a shopping expedition in my near future! And then we had a great time at guild yesterday, which helped me recharge, too.

I did finish a hat and work on a scarf yesterday that will be donated to the Salvation Army in November. (Pictures when the scarf is done.) And that reminds me that I haven't yet blogged about Dee's "60 Scarves in 60 Days" challenge. The challenge began on September 1 and will run until October 31 and involves making a scarf or scarves to be donated to the charity of your choice. Since I should be making any number of scarves for charity during this time frame, I'm definitely in on the challenge. Last year, participants actually donated 80 scarves, and I'm sure Dee would like to exceed that number this year. So, if you are able to make a scarf for charity during the next 2 months, won't you join us? There's even a drawing for a prize this year! I ask you - can it get any better than that?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Feeling a Little Burned Out This Week

The week after Labor Day is one of the toughest of the year in my job. Once school goes back in, it always seems like everything should immediately go back to normal and I should be able to catch up on all those work projects I let slide all summer. The reality is that all those books we checked out all summer have to get returned at some point, so we are actually as busy after Labor Day as we were before. Even though I know this is what will happen, it always surprises me too. Go figure. So this week found me feeling rather burned out at work.

Unfortunately, that feeling extended to my crafting this week as well. After enjoying myself immensely at both SnB and Borders, I hardly picked up hook or needles the rest of the week. I just felt bored by all my existing projects. I know I'll finish most of them eventually, but I'm just not feeling it right now.

I have a pretty good idea what will cheer me up, though. First, I need to get some R&R this weekend, which is not going to be a problem. Since it is 94 degrees in CT today, I am certainly not exerting myself to do much housework, so that is taking care of the "rest" part, and I have crochet guild tomorrow, which will take care of the "relaxation" part very nicely. And second, well I need to start a new project or two, of course!

I've spent most of the day dithering about what to start. I keep thinking about a shawl, but most of the knitting patterns I want to try will just take too much concentration right now. (And that 94 degree weather isn't really motivating me to start a shawl, either.) I finally settled on another triangular scarf. I've made the pattern several times already, so I know it works well. And it is mindless knitting that will travel well. I'll post a picture when I get more done. Right now it is just a tiny triangle.

Before I sign off, I just have to share my good news from Weight Watchers yesterday. I was very good last week, and wrote down everything I ate. Boy did that work! I lost 2.2 lbs., bringing my weight loss total to 30.2 lbs. I feel very good about losing that much weight.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Process vs. Product

Criquette had an interesting post this week about process vs. product knitting, inspired by this post by Grumperina. Both posts have got me thinking about the whole "process vs. product" idea myself. The terms refer to which you enjoy more, the process of knitting or completing a finished product.

Reading and thinking about both posts, my mind immediately started to compare knitting and crocheting. It occured to me that, to a certain extent, I am a process knitter but a product crocheter. No matter what I do, I always know that I will crochet faster than I knit. And that simple fact makes a world of difference. I really enjoy the process of knitting, which is a good thing, because I don't get FOs as often. That's also why I tend to knit items for myself or as gifts.

With crocheting, of course I enjoy the process or I wouldn't do it as much as I do. However, I also get the added satisfaction of finishing items fairly quickly. That's why I tend to crochet the items I donate to charity. I get a lot more "bang for my buck". I can complete more items in less time, so I have more items to donate, and that makes me feel good as well. That's especially true for smaller items like hats, scarves, and afghan squares. When I crochet larger items, like sweaters or shawls, again those tend to be for me or for people I am giving a gift to, because they take longer to make.

Anyway, the difference between process and product is an interesting point, and I am going to continue to ponder it as I continue to work on my WIPs.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Little of This, A Little of That!

Did I say something last week about doing serious crafting this past weekend? I should really learn to stop saying such rash things! As it turned out, there was serious yard work to be done last weekend, which really put a crimp in my crafting. That was probably a good thing, because if I had had the time and energy, I would have turned the weekend into a "starting" weekend, and that would have been silly. I have plenty of projects already started. But I have so many ideas rattling around in my head right now that it's frustrating, too.

So instead, with the time I did have for crafting, I worked on several different projects. There were moments when it was very cool here in CT, so I actually pulled out my ripple ghan and put in a couple of rows. I started a hat, and worked on an ongoing scarf. I put a couple of rows on my doily. And I worked enough on my vacation sock that it is worthy of a picture:
It's called the Traveler sock. I am really enjoying the cabling. I should need just one or two more pattern repeats before I start the heel. And the best part is that I am getting gauge and it fits! I'm using Cascade 220, so between that and the cables, this is definitely a pair of socks for wearing around the house. There is no way they will fit into shoes! (Sorry about no link. The pattern is only availabe in pdf, and pdfs don't work the same with a Mac, so I can't get a direct link. But you can go here and hunt, if you are really curious.)

Between SnB last night and Coffee, Chat & Crochet this morning, I have actually had more time for crafting this week than I did over the weekend. So surely I will have some FOs for you all soon!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

2 FOs for the Week

I had time yesterday morning, so I finished up the hat and scarf I have been working on.
These will go to Warm Up Winchester. Both are made out of 100% wool, and both patterns came out of Stitch and Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. (I seem to be using that phrase a lot this week - I'm not sure why!)

I think that I am going to take the weekend off from blogging, so this will be it until next Tuesday. I have Weight Watchers tomorrow morning, I need to get the crochet guild's newsletter in the mail in the next 2 days, and I want to get some serious crafting done this weekend. At the moment, I have no plans for the weekend, amazingly enough, although I do have to go into work Monday morning to empty the book drops, so I should be able to accomplish something!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Free to Stitch...

I had such a good time last night at Stitch & Bitch! There were only 3 of us there, but I knew both of the other ladies from knitting guild. We talked nonstop for almost 2 hours, and I got all caught up on guild gossip, among other things. Even though none of us were working on anything special, I really feel like my knitting creative juices are flowing again. We talked briefly about maybe working on one of Sally Melville's sweater patterns, which would be terrific. I had already decided that if I continue to attend, that is going to be my time to work on projects for me. A sweater would certainly fit the bill!

Last night, I brought my Lucy bag, and I added a good 8 rows to the body. I'm half tempted to try to finish the body and start the handles before next Tuesday so that I can keep this project moving along. Then, when I got home, I wasn't ready to stop yet, so I finished a hat I had been crocheting and worked more on one of the scarves that I am also crocheting. I'll post pictures when I get a few more things finished up, probably this weekend.

So all in all, I had a really great evening last night!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Doilies Revisited

Thank you all for your kind comments on my reminiscences last week. I was especially grateful to Jim for writing in about the Tall Mouse. The store I remember was in Brea, and I wonder if that store relocated to Yorba Linda? Nevertheless, I am very pleased to hear that it is celebrating 41 years in business. Since I now live in an area that has lost several craft and yarn stores in the last couple of years, it's nice to know that longevity is possible in that business.

All my reminiscences led me back to where I started with crochet. I honestly don't remember learning to knit and crochet. It was just something we did at home. But I do remember spending a lot of time in my teens and twenties crocheting doilies for some reason. I'm not entirely sure why I spent so much time on doilies. I never finished one, and I remember having serious gauge issues at the time. Blocking was also a foreign concept to me back then. However, working on doilies was good experience for me. I got to practice basic stitches, and I learned to read crochet symbols fluently, since all the designs were charted rather than written at the time. As a matter of fact, I still have 2 "Magic Crochet" magazines from the 1980s, which is what I used as my source of doily patterns. I have to say that their patterns still feel fairly fresh to me. Each magazine has a lace collar that I would love to try my hand at.

Anyway, this past weekend, as I was looking around for a cooler project to work on in the heat, I decided to start a doily. The first few rounds felt odd because it has been so long since I worked with thread and steel hooks, but then it came back to me and started to feel more comfortable. Taking my time, I got 7 rows done.
I think my tension has improved over the years. The pattern is called "Glorious Gray Pineapple Doily," and I am using Grandma's Best Crochet Thread from Caron. It feels a bit stiffer than the threads of my youth, but I like the way it is working up.

So today is that most wonderful day of the year, at least for anyone working in a public library. Today is the first day of school here in my little town! We will continue to get slammed with book returns for the next week or two, but today my work life begins to approach something like normalcy after the chaos of the last 2 1/2 months. You better believe we are all doing the happy dance at work! I am also excited this morning because I decided over the weekend that I need to get out of the house more in the evening. Ever since I was promoted almost 2 years ago and began working on Wednesday evenings, I have really given up on all my evening activities. But it is time to change that, so I am planning to attend my local Stitch & Bitch this evening. Now that I have decided to go, I am really looking forward to it. Hopefully we will have a good turnout, and I will be able to see some old friends from knitting guild as well as meet some new people.