Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cleaning Can Be Dangerous!

So, after spending 2 days last week with the family, I told my dh yesterday that I really needed to spend some time alone up in the yarn room, getting ready for next year's projects. It didn't take long for me to decide that straightening up the yarn room is rather like rearranging deck chairs on the Titannic - completely pointless. I can shift things around, but the bottom line is that there is just too much yarn for the bins I can fit in the room, and the only thing that is going to help is using more of it up. It was just a little discouraging to find that, after a year of stash busting, I am still in this position. It wasn't all bad. I did find one drawer that was almost empty, and some of the bins do have some breathing room in them. But there is still too much yarn in bags on the floor. I seriously am looking at a 10 year plan as far as the stash busting goes.

I did put together patterns and yarn for 4 sweaters for next year, which makes me feel more organized. (I'll talk about which sweaters in another blog post.) However, while I was doing that, I found 2 skeins of Lion Brand Homespun in a plastic bag, with a shawl pattern (Easy Triangle Shawl from Lion Brand) and knitting needles, which I had completely forgotten about. And that's why cleaning is dangerous. Despite my vow to myself to not start any more projects right now and to focus on my WIPs until the new year, I just couldn't stop thinking about that shawl. So of course I started it, around 12:30 this afternoon.
It is about 1/3 of the way done already. I'm not convinced the shawl will take 2 full skeins of the yarn, but if it doesn't, I can always make a chemo cap with the leftover yarn. I think that the attraction of the shawl right now is that most of my other projects are using fingering or lace weight yarn, and so they are growing slowly. A project using bulky yarn will grow so much faster and will just be a nice break from the finer yarns, even if it's no my favorite yarn to work with.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting Ready for Next Year's Challenges

First of all, I want to thank Knitika for being my cheerleading section as I get ready for next year's challenges! I will take all the encouragement I can get.

One of the requirements of the "100 skeins in 2009" challenge is that we can only count full skeins towards the total. Happily, I spent a lot of time this year finishing up my partial skeins, so my stash is in good shape for the challenge. However, I am now trying to stay focused and finish at least some of my WIPs, since I am in the middle of skeins with most of them. Unfortunately, this includes 2 shawls and an afghan, as well as 3 scarves that I am knitting with fingering weight yarn and 2 second socks. Yikes! For some of these projects, I might be able to finish the skein I am currently working on and then put the project down until next year. I haven't accomplished much this week, what with the holiday looming, but I have every intention of getting organized this weekend (and cleaning up the yarn room again). I'll try to post some WIP pictures over the next few days so you can see what I am talking about. And on the upside, if I do get some WIPs finished now, I can start several new projects in January. I'm really looking forward to that!

For everyone who celebrates it, have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Monday, November 24, 2008

100 Skeins in 2009

Well, I'm sure you will all be glad to hear that my stashdown efforts will continue into 2009. They kind of have to, since I haven't really made much of a dent in the stash this year. Hey, when you have over 100 miles of yarn in the stash, using up 7.5 miles of it is barely a drop in the bucket!

But, never fear, over at the Ravelry stashdown group, we are making all kinds of plans for using up stash in the new year. And I have managed to sign up for at least 3 of the challenges. The one that has a lot of us excited is the "100 balls of yarn in 2009". We are going to see if we can use up 100 balls/skeins/hanks of yarn in the year. That translates into approximately 2 skeins a week, which somehow seems doable. So I will be keeping track of my progress here on the blog. It will be fun to count something other than yardage next year (although I will probably continue to count yardage, too).

Then there is the "Personal Sweater Club". This idea grew out of the sock yarn clubs that some yarn companies offer online. You get a surprise skein of sock yarn each month, and if you keep up, you knit a pair of socks a month. Well, this year, some members of the stashdown group made up their own sock club. They packaged up 12 skeins of yarn from stash with patterns, and then opened up a new package every month. It made the stash seem more exciting. So, for next year, we are extending that idea to small items and to sweaters. Now, I'm not crazy. I am not going to try to knit 12 sweaters next year. I am going to try for 4 - one for each season. It will be a miracle if I actually complete 1 sweater, but I am going to try. Hopefully, next weekend, I will finalize the 4 patterns and the yarn for each.

And then, yesterday, someone suggested trying for one small item a week, or 52 in the year. At the risk of overextending myself, I went ahead and signed up. I know that I can crochet a hat or a scarf in a week and still have time for larger projects. So those will be my charity items for the year.

And yes, I am going to have to be very organized and disciplined if I am going to have any hope of keeping up with all this!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two Hats

In my quest to finish up some WIPs before the end of the year, I pulled out a baby hat I had begun knitting over the summer and finished it up last weekend. I still had about half a skein left over, so I went ahead and crocheted a baby hat as well. That just about finished the skein. One more skein out of the stash, woohoo! Anyway, here are the two hats.
I used Plymouth Dreambaby, a really soft DK weight yarn. The knitted one, on the left, came out a bit small. It's long enough, but it's not really wide enough. Even given that the pattern is ribby, it still doesn't stretch quite enough. But it should fit a newborn. These will be donated eventually, but for now, they are just going into the donation box until I decide where they are going.

Not much else going on. We are in the throes of cleaning the house for Thanksgiving. While it would be sensible to keep up with the cleaning and do a little bit every weekend, we seem to subscribe to the theory that it is a much better idea to leave a room alone for years and then half kill ourselves cleaning it completely in one afternoon. Yesterday we tackled the family room and study in the basement. The study isn't really used as a study, though. It is more of a catchall room for junk, which is why we have left it alone for such a long time. It looks much better now, although I am still coughing from the dust we stirred up. But I am beginning to have hope that the house will be clean and fit for company by Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Long Time No Blog Again

Things have been a tad hectic in my life recently. A couple of weeks ago, my mom woke up with a sore foot. Well, it turned out that she had broken a bone in her foot. No injury, just wear and tear. So she's in a soft cast and a boot, and she can't drive until it's healed. Of course, she still needs to get to all of her medical appointments, and she still needs errands run. So I have been flexing my hours at work like crazy, and going in early to make up the time I am taking off, which has eaten into my blogging time. She sees the podiatrist again next Thursday, but I have a feeling that she will have the cast on for a few more weeks yet.

On the plus side, all this waiting in doctor's offices with her has given me some extra knitting time. I've been working on my vacation scarves, but I haven't managed to finish one yet. I did manage to weave in all the ends on Mocha Roca last week, so I can finally show you a picture of me wearing the sweater.

And here's a close up of the buttons, which I just love.
I wore the sweater to work yesterday and got all kinds of compliments on it. So I am jazzed to both knit and crochet more sweaters for myself in the coming year.

I also finished up another chemo hat, which will probably be donated next year some time to the local hospital.

Other than that, I am working away on some WIPs, trying to finish up some projects to clear the decks for those sweaters next year!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I Know, I Know...

...I only posted 4 times in October, and here it is November 2nd and I'm posting twice in one day. But I am so excited! I just finished the crocheting my Mocha Roca sweater.
I still need to weave in ends and make a button. Hopefully I will get that done later this week. But in the meantime, I am going to relish having one fewer WIP!

Recent Acquisitions

(Sorry about the title - sometimes I am such a librarian!) Last Friday was my birthday, and I just couldn't resist getting myself a couple of birthday gifts. Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush was published last week, and my pre-ordered copy arrived just in time for my birthday. It is a beautiful book with gorgeous patterns that I just can't wait to start knitting. Then, yesterday morning, I decided that I just don't have good lighting in the 2 spots that I do most of my crafting and that it was time to do something about this situation (especially since I can justify the purchase as a birthday gift). So I took myself over to my local Joann's store and purchased the new Ott Light with a rechargeable battery. (I also don't have room for either a table or floor lamp that has to be plugged in near either of my crafting spots.) I tried the new lamp out yesterday and it makes such a difference! I can actually see the stitches when I am using lace weight yarn. I might actually get Eva's Shawl finished now that I can see the stitches. And it is completely portable, so I can take it with me to crochet guild or wherever.

Now, speaking of lace weight yarn, the yarn in the picture is not a new acquisition. I dug it out of my stash yesterday and balled it up just before I took the picture. I have to love lace weight yarn. Those 3 innocent looking balls contain 1,320 yards of yarn in them. I am going to use them for my Fan Stitch Half Circle Shawl. I actually started the shawl yesterday. I got 16 rows in and already I have to frog back a few rows because one of the edge stitches is wonky. However, the shawl is a lot of fun to knit, so I'm happy. I think it's going to be a good project for getting used to working with such thin yarn, which right now seems to be my biggest challenge with lacemaking. I'll post a picture when it is a little bigger and actually looks like something.