Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Did It!

I couldn't wait until tomorrow, so I started tallying my yardage this afternoon. It took counting yardage used in some WIPs, but I got the total up to just over 10 miles for the year. Yeah! Anything I use up this evening will just be gravy. Now, next year, I'm going to try again for a mile a month. Just add that to my list of challenges for 2009.

And speaking of the 2009 challenges, I completely forgot this morning about Winter of Lace. I really don't have a clue how I'm going to keep that many balls in the air, but I intend to have fun trying!

I'm Kind of Stunned!

I just went through all of my 2008 posts and tallied up my FOs for each month. The final numbers have me a bit stunned. So far, I have finished 122 items this year. (If I get off this computer soon, that number might yet increase.) I made 12 items for me or my dh, and I made 2 gifts. That means that I made 108 items that I either donated to charity or to sell to raise money for nonprofit groups. And I wasn't even trying to reach a particular goal. (I should add that these numbers are the best I can come up with. I really kind of lost track this year.) Wow!

2009 Challenges

Ok, so there are a lot of challenges that begin tomorrow, and I need to get them organized in my mind. There's the 100 skeins challenge, which I'm ready for, and the Personal Sweater Club, which I am also ready for. Then there's the 52 small items in 52 weeks challenge, which I had forgotten I had signed up for until I was just going through some of my older posts on Ravelry. That one I'm not so ready for, although I always seem to have smaller items I am working on for charity or the guild, so I should be ok there. Then there's the ongoing challenges: the Bridge Project and Homespun Helper's WUA square drive in January and chemo hats/preemie blankets/items to sell in April for the crochet guild. Whew!

Then there's the new biggie that I haven't even blogged about yet. I noticed a new Ravelry group last week - 52 Books in 52 Weeks. My first thought was that I would join and follow how the group does, but I couldn't possibly read 52 books in a year. Then, as I started reading posts and posting there myself, I decided that even if I didn't make the goal, if the group got me to read more, then it would be a good thing. And now I seem to be plotting strategy to see if I can accomplish the whole goal. The group is extremely enthusiastic and friendly, so I am really excited about reading again, which feels really good.

The strategy I am going to use includes identifying short books in my collection, to fill in when I bog down in a longer book, and audiobooks. With my Christmas money, I bought a new iPod Touch, and I have already downloaded 2 audiobooks onto it. However, I also intend to read from my stash of books, instead of bringing stacks of books home from the library and ignoring them for 3 weeks. There are a lot of books that I really should try to read, because they are popular and the patrons want to talk about them. So those will be a priority.

The first 3 books will be: The Daughter of Time by Jacqueline Tey (I'm thinking about leading a book discussion on this book in April, so I need to read it and see if it will work); The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (the library's January book discussion book, so why not); and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (I want to see if she's as whiney as everyone says she is). I have 2 audiobooks on an mp3 player (that I can no longer download to, hence the new iPod): My Life in France by Julia Child (which I started sometime this year and want to finish); and A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. And yesterday I downloaded The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan and The Rosewood Casket by Sharon McCrumb. That should carry me well into February! And definitely expect more book blogging around here in 2009.

So I am very excited for tomorrow and a little bummed that I am entertaining the family and so won't be able to really get started on my challenges until Friday. (It will be wonderful to see the family tomorrow, but still!)

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. See you all in 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

End of the Year Blitz!

I hope everyone had a happy holiday last week! I guess things got a little crazy in my life, since it's been 2 weeks since I posted. I was actually fairly well organized about Christmas, and we had a very nice day with the family. I was tired last week, though, and I am only now starting to feel rested out. I don't go back to work until Saturday, so I am enjoying some R & R this week. This is a good thing, because my string of good news came to an end the week before Christmas when we found out that my mom is facing 2 surgeries in the new year. So the round of tests and doctor office visits and flexing my hours at work will begin again on January 2nd. I'm happy to say that she is not facing anything life-threatening, but still, surgery is pretty serious, so I am a bit worried.

On a happier note, my quest to reach 10 miles of yarn used in 2008 is continuing. I have made 2 preemie blankets from one skein and 3 baby hats and a pair of baby booties from another skein. The two skeins combined totaled over 900 yards!

However, my quest has also given me a rather bad case of startitis. I wanted an easy project to work on in the evenings, so I started a rectangular granny afghan with another large skein I want out of the stash.
I will finish the afghan off with a couple of solid color skeins, and I will probably donate it to Project Linus. Right now, I am just enjoying the crocheting.

I also seem to want to work with soft, luxurious yarn here at the end of the year, so I pulled out my one skein of Malabrigo, and I'm making a pair of mittens for myself.
They are going to be soft and warm. I am going to try to finish these up this week.

I'm also frogging some scarf WIPs and starting new scarves to replace them, but I'll post more about that later, when I have things a bit more organized. I'm also going to try and finsh my Eva's Shawl. So I am going to be a busy girl this week, while I am at home!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Good News Keeps Coming

We had such a good time yesterday at the crochet guild's December meeting/holiday party. Lots of good food and company, and lots of goodies to bring home. I came home with a new pattern booklet, a new project that our president, Grace, put together for us for a body scrubber soap pouch, a grab bag gift that included cappuchino, chocolate and small crocheted doilies, and 7 skeins of yarn that I won in a raffle. Here's a picture of the yarn, a yummy silk/acrylic blend. I'm hopeful I have enough for a shawl.

Over the weekend, I finished the skein of yarn left over from the shawl by making a couple of hats, and I was finally able to add the 2 skeins of Homespun to my yardage total. That brought me to a point where I only need to use up 127 yards a day to reach my goal of 10 miles for the year. So when I got home yesterday, I started a preemie blanket with some bulky yarn in my stash, on the theory that it would work up quickly. I worked on it all evening while I watched a showing of the original "Poseidon Adventure" (I don't have a clue why I am so taken with that movie, as well as the 2 remakes), and the blanket is more than half done.
I'm using Joann Sensations yarn in Rainbow Classic. It's 100% acrylic, and so soft. I'm going to use the entire skein (615 yards total) for preemie blankets. I didn't really want to start another project, but there is no way I will meet my goal with my existing WIPs, all of which are using fingering or laceweight yarn. And at least preemie blankets are useful and needed. (Of course, the guild really needs chemo hats in January, but I will make a few of those as well, I promise.) I'm really becoming quite fond of bulky yarns in my old age!

Oh, and the good news from this post's title? I found out on Saturday that we are going to my in-laws for both Christmas and New Year's Day. We will help out a lot with the cooking for both days, but it means that I don't have to do a lot of intensive cleaning before the holidays. And less time spent on cleaning means more time spent on stash reduction. So my goal becomes more and more attainable. Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2nd Ripple Afghan Done

I was a good girl last night (especially considering it was Friday), and I sat down and finished weaving in all the ends on dh's ripple afghan. Here it is, in all its glory. He used it this morning and pronounced it perfect. It is smaller than the one I made for myself. It turned out approximately 41" X 48", but that is what he wanted - a lapghan. And do you know, it only used 1,437 yards of Simply Soft. So it didn't make near the dent in my SS stash that I had hoped for. Oh well, I will just have to keep coming up with projects that use SS!

So, as of this morning, I have used up 8.5 miles of yarn this year. Only 1.5 miles to go to reach my informal goal of 10 miles for the year. I have to do some serious thinking today about which projects might help me meet this goal in the next 3 weeks. It's probably not possible, especially with the holidays upon us, but I just can't resist trying. Have a great weekend, everyone!

ETA: I just ran the numbers, and I only need to use up approximately 140 yards a day to reach 1.5 miles by the end of the year. Suddenly, this seem eminently doable!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Good News Post

First good news - Mom got the cast off her foot yesterday! As soon as we fix her dead car battery, she will be a free woman again, and I can stop being her chauffeur. I'm really looking forward to working normal hours and shorter days again. Maybe I can even get back to blogging on a regular basis.

Second good news - I have finished crocheting dh's ripple afghan, and I am now in the process of tying in all the ends. As soon as I get that finished, I will post a picture. I am so happy to get to the end of this project! It feels like I have been working on it forever, even though it really hasn't been that long.

Third good news - the dh is spending tomorrow with his parents, getting their Christmas tree in and doing some chores for them. So I get the day to myself at home! Besides the usual laundry and a little housework, I intend to spend the day finishing the afghan, fixing a few problems with some of the scarves I have been working on, and finding the next project to be finished.

Fourth good news - Sunday is the crochet guild's December meeting/holiday party. I have not been entirely sure I would be able to go, but now that I know what's happening this weekend, I will be there with bells on! I just have to put together a grab bag gift tomorrow, and I will be all set.

Now I just have to finish getting ready for Christmas next week, and I will be in very good shape indeed!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shawl is Finished!

I actually finished my Easy Triangle Shawl (that I started on 11/30) on Sunday, but I haven't had a chance to take pictures or post until today. The shawl took 1 and 1/2 skeins of Lion Brand Homespun, and it came out nice and big. I have hardly stopped wearing it since I finished it.
It is soft and warm. Even better, it is very lightweight, considering I used a bulky yarn to make it. And I love the way the yarn striped all by itself.

Finishing this project quickly has made me anxious to finish something else soon. So this week I am busily working on my dh's ripple afghan. I'm hoping to finish it this coming weekend. I'll post pictures when I do.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

New Charity

I know that I haven't done much charity work lately, other than a few hats here and there. But I did want to post about a new charity that Sandy, a friend from Homespun Helpers, is starting. It's called The Bridge Project. She is trying to collect handmade hats and scarves to give to a group of (mostly) men living under a bridge near her home in central Ohio. She would also welcome gloves, mittens, vests and sweaters. There is no deadline for the project. She would like to have something to donate every week until the cold weather has ended in April or May. I'll have to check my stash for some good "guy" colors and try to make an item or two to send along.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

2009 Sweaters

As promised, here is the post about my planned 2009 sweater knitting. I have picked out 4 patterns, one for each season. I planned this for seasonal knitting, not necessarily seasonal wearing. So if I finish all 4 projects, I might have to wait a while to wear each one of them.

I'm going to start with the February Lady Sweater. It's top-down and seamless, so what's not to like! It seems like the best place to start, since I am new to sweater knitting. I've chosen Plymouth Encore in a heather colorway. If I get that finished, my Spring Sweater will be the Triple Cable Sweater from the newest issue of Cast On! magazine. (Sorry, no link for that one.) I'll use a grey Colorado Yarns Durango that I bought at Webs last Christmas. It's a nice tweed yarn that is a wool/acrylic blend.

Assuming all goes well, my summer sweater will be the Checkmate Cardigan from Cabin Fever. I have 13 skeins of Berroco Touche, a cotton/rayon blend, that I bought specifically for this project (probably several years ago). And finally, my Fall sweater will be the Nantucket Cardigan from Interweave Knits Winter 2006. I bought Elsbeth Lavold Classic Al, a yummy alpaca yarn in a dark blue, for the project (again, several years ago).

And since we are keeping track of number of skeins for next year, this represents 50 skeins that will be used up. That's half of my 100 skein challenge right there. As a warm-up this week, I have been diligently working on my new shawl. I only have 2 1/2 pattern repeats to go. Boy, those rows are getting long, though! I still haven't finished the first skein, so I know I will have some yarn left over. I would take a WIP shot, but since it really doesn't fit on the circular needle by now, it just looks like a lump of knitting. I can't even tell how big it truly is. I won't know until I cast off. I'm still hopeful I will finish it this week, so watch for an FO shot over the weekend.