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!