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.
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


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!