Monday, November 30, 2009

Not Sure Where November Went!

I'm not at all sure what happened to November. It turned into a very busy month, at work and at home. I seemed to spend a lot of it rather tired. And I didn't accomplish nearly as much as I wanted to on my WIPs.

Having said that, however, I did manage to bring the WIP list down to single digits. I frogged 3 scarves which I decided I just didn't like. I finished another scarf, which I will photograph once I block it. Right now, it is a little small, so I am hopeful that blocking will make it wearable.

My biggest triumph this month happened last Saturday morning when I finally felted the Lucy Bag. I finished knitting the bag at the end of January, 2008, and it has sat in the craft room sinced then. Here's what it looked like before felting:

I'll admit that I was a little nervous about the felting process. But I told myself that Saturday was the day, and if I ruined the bag, then all I had wasted was some yarn and some time. After all of 15 minutes in the washing machine, I had a perfectly felted bag:
This turned out so well that I now feel like a procrastinating idiot. But I am very pleased with the bag, and I think it is going to become my every day purse.

So, 21 WIPs down, and 9 more to go!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Starting November Right

So, Saturday was my birthday, and I decided to spend most of the day doing what I wanted to do. And what I wanted to do was finish my 2009 ripple afghan. I didn't quite finish weaving all the ends in until Sunday morning, but I still felt comfortable considering this an October finish.
It used 950.5 yards of Caron Simply Soft from stash. It makes my 5th finished afghan in October, and the 5th afghan made from my SS stash over the past 2 years. And I still have SS stash left, which tells me that I had accumulated way too much Simply Soft along the way! Hopefully, before the end of the year, I will have time to re-inventory the SS stash, so that I have a better handle on what's left. Oh yes, I used the "Soft Waves" pattern from Jan Eaton's 200 Ripple Stitches book again for this afghan. I do love the pattern, but I think that's the last ripple for a while. (Although I probably say that every year!) The afghan is approximately 40" wide by 48" long, so it is a nice lapghan size. And since the temperature is in the 30s this morning here in CT, I will probably be using it very soon!

So I am starting November with 14 WIPs to work on. I need to finish 7 each month to be done by the end of the year. That means that I need to average one FO every 4-5 days to reach this goal. I have no idea if this is doable, but I am willing to try. In fact, my next FO might be very close to being finished. I need to do some measuring when I get home tonight, and then I will have a better idea.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Down to 15!

Well, I have no FOs to show from this weekend. We were very busy around the house instead. I was determined to get some housework done, since next Saturday is my birthday and I am not doing housework on my birthday! We also got the house ready for winter - air conditioners out, storm windows down, patio furniture put away. And on top of that, I got my hands on the new Dan Brown book, The Lost Symbol, last week, so I had reading to do as well.

I have continued to work on whittling down the WIP pile, however. Thanks to the help of one of the ladies in crochet guild, I found a Girl Scout troop willing to take 3 bags of afghan squares off my hands. I'm not entirely sure how many afghans the squares will make, but for the purposes of my WIP list, I was counting them as 3 projects. Then, yesterday, I pulled out a preemie blanket that I was knitting, and I decided that I just didn't like it. The stitch pattern, rows of garter stitch alternating with rows of stockinette, wasn't reversible, and that really bothered me. So I frogged it. I have another idea for a knitted preemie blanket, so maybe next year I will try again. And that brought me down to 15 WIPs! Even though I know I still have work ahead of me, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I also seem to be enjoying working on the remaining WIPs more, knowing that so many old projects have been dealt with.

Finally, it occurred to me that I never posted a picture of this year's ripple afghan, so here it is.
Working on the ripple afghan is like eating comfort food. It is just soul satisfying and perfect for those times when I am a little tired or distracted by TV (like yesterday afternoon, when I got completely caught up in "Stephen King's Rose Red" on the syfy channel, even though I had seen it when it first aired years ago).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Number Eleven!

It seems like all of my projects reach a point where they are so close to being done that I just can't stop working on them until they are finished. This scarf reached that point on Monday evening, and last night I sat down and finished it up.
I used 2 skeins of Cotton Fine from the Brown Sheep Company. The yarn has been in my stash for years because I didn't know what to do with it. I used the bushy stitch (2 dc, ch 2, 1 sc), which made for a nice built-in edging all around the scarf. The scarf measures almost 5" wide by 70" long, and took 377 yards out of the stash.

Unfortunately, most of my other projects are not this close to being done. I'm going to continue to try and focus on one or two projects until they are finished, and work on some of the thornier issues on the weekends. Actually, for all the work I have done this month, I am still so concerned about what I have left to do that I sat down Sunday night and rewrote my list of WIPs again. I sorted the list into 2 columns - hard and easy. I was pleased to find that I only have 6 projects on the "hard" list, and one of those is felting my Lucy bag, which isn't going to be hard so much as a little fussy. So I keep telling myself that I am in good shape, and most of the time I actually believe it!

Monday, October 19, 2009

And Then There Were 10

I had set several goals for myself this weekend. I had to finish reading The Perfect Storm and prep for the book discussion that I am leading this evening and again next Wednesday morning. I was barely 100 pages in when I hunkered down on Saturday to finish the book. It turned out to be a riveting read, so I had no problem finishing the book by dinnertime Saturday.

I also decided that I wanted to finish the afghan I have been working on this weekend. That seemed like an ambitious goal, but I decided to try anyway. And here is the result:
I finished the afghan last evening. I am pleased to say that this afghan took 3 skeins of yarn and 1,177 yards of yarn out of the stash. I used the Rectangular Granny Afghan pattern, and I am very pleased with the result. I like that the edging almost, but not quite, ruffles. So that makes #10 out of 30 WIPs dealt with this month.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This and That

First, it occurred to me after I posted yesterday that 21-5=16, not 15. So I need to finish or get rid of 6 projects by the end of the month to be halfway to my goal. It's still doable, unlike math, which is apparently not my strong suit.

Second, I am happy to report that all this finishing gave me enough space in the craft room that I was able to spend Monday morning up there cleaning and straightening up. I put a lot of yarn away, and it was nice to find that there was room in the storage bins for it. I guess the stash down efforts are paying off, at least a little bit. It is also nice to have floor space and breathing room where the yarn lives.

I gathered all the WIPs in one place, and this chair is now the center of my crafting life for the next 2 and a half months.
This is where I spend most of my time at home, watching TV and working on projects.

I also gathered up all the projects where I have yarn and patterns matched up, but I haven't actually started yet, and here they are, ready and waiting for me upstairs in the craft room.
The black Lion Brand bag is chock full of small projects, mostly scarves and shawls. The other bags are sweaters waiting to be made. You can also see some of the stash yarn behind the bags. (Unfortunately, there's more yarn in other parts of the room.)

So, as you can see, I have my work cut out for me. I have also decided that I would like to work through my stash by the time I retire, which will hopefully happen in about 10 years. To accomplish this, I will need to continue to buy yarn sparingly, and I will need to use up about 10 miles of yarn a year. But I think I will be happier in retirement without the overwhelming stash, just buying yarn for particular projects.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

#6-9 of 30 WIPs

Yes, I am down 9 WIPs on my list of 30! Two more are finished and two more are frogged. First, the FOs.
I finished the Watermelon Afghan last Friday. It took 4 evenings of work last week, but I am very pleased with the final product. It is approximately 40" X 60". It seems like it is a little long for the width, but it is nice and warm and colorful. Actually, I am so pleased with it that I am going to keep it. I can't bear to part with it!

And then on Sunday, I sat down and crocheted more squares together to make this lapghan.
My mom had made the 20 squares years ago. (Even she isn't sure when she had made them.) I had more than enough of the white yarn to put the squares together. So I took it over to her yesterday, and she was thrilled to see it finally finished. It now has a home at the foot of her bed, and she says she will be able to use it on cold winter nights. That definitely makes the time spent finishing these projects worthwhile!

I have frogged the Rocky Road Shrug that I started in September of 2007. I had to frog back anyway to finish the shrug properly, and I decided that I just didn't want to make this shrug right now. I may try again in the future. I also frogged some and got rid of the bulk of an afghan that I had started back in the 1990s. It was not going to work out, and it had gotten dirty over the years, which is why I didn't bother to frog the whole thing. (That, and it was mohair type yarn that was horrible to try to frog anyway.)

So the good news is that it isn't even halfway through October and I am down 9 projects. The bad news is that I have added almost 19 skeins of yarn to my stash that I didn't bother to count originally, since I was sure I would finish the projects. But at least I haven't spent any money on this stash enhancement.

Now, if I can finish another 5 projects (one way or another) by the end of October, I will be halfway to my goal, with another 2 months to finish everything up. I might just have everything finished by New Year's!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Afghan of Many Colors or...

...#5 of 30 WIPs. Let me give some back story here. About 2 years ago, some of you might remember I hosted Summer of Squares. I was also in a group called Fiber Freaks (no longer online except for a group on Ravelry). Some of the members of Fiber Freaks made 12" afghan squares and sent them to me, and I was supposed to sew then into an afghan. Somehow, that never happened until this past weekend.
It took some wrestling, but I finally managed to get all the squares put together. We all used Caron Simply Soft and either knitted or crocheted the squares. However, gauge varied square to square, as did the interpretation of 12". So putting the squares together was a bit of a challenge, so say the least. I ended up edging all of the squares in off white first, so that the seams wouldn't look so noticeable. However, I used up 289 yards of yarn putting it together, so that was a nice surprise.

Our original idea was to donate the blanket to Blankets for the Gulf, but I'm not sure they are still accepting blankets. The blanket ended up 36" by 48", so I think it would be a nice size for a child. So I am going to donate it to Project Linus. I have a few more to give them, so I will try to make a donation later this month.

And I am not resting on my laurels by any means. I am already working on WIP #6 - the Watermelon Afghan. (I didn't realize until I just looked up the URL that this one has been hanging around since 2007, too!)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This Won't Continue...

...but I have another FO for today. I finished up the scarf I was making using 2 skeins of LB Wool Ease and size 15 needles.
I had yarn left, but I decided that 40" was long enough. The scarf is really thick, so it isn't comfortable to wrap around the neck several times. At 40", it covers the chest, so it will keep someone warm. This will be donated eventually, I'm just not sure where right now.

I actually finished it before dinner yesterday. So that left me free to mess with another old project last night. Unfortunately, it didn't go as well as the teddy bear. I pulled out some squares I had made back in the 1990s for 2 baby afghans. (I think the babies these afghans were originally intended for are almost teenagers by now!) After messing around with the squares for a while, I came to a difficult conclusion. I don't have enough yarn to finish the project properly. I was using Red Heart Sport, which I don't think is available any more. And it is some nasty, hard yarn. I just don't have the heart to try to find a way to finish this project, so I am going to trash it. It's not easy for me to say that, but I know that I have other projects from the same era that I will finish, so I don't feel too bad.

And the good news is that I am now starting October with 26 projects instead of 30. That makes me feel much better!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coming Clean, and a Teddy Bear

I might have been a tad disingenuous over the last couple of weeks when I was listing my WIPs. I've been rethinking what I need to finish thanks to a new challenge over on the Stash Knitdown group on Ravelry. During October, November, and December, our challenge is to finish our WIPs, in order to start 2010 with a clean slate. As it turns out, that is going to be quite a challenge for me. I sat down on Saturday and wrote yet another brutally honest list of WIPs/UFOs to be finished. I came up with a list of 30 items. I really don't know how this keeps happening. However, I am game to try to meet the challenge.

So, even though it is not yet October, I have started in on the list. Here's what I accomplished last night.
I have been thinking back, and I'm pretty sure I knitted this little guy in 2003. And he has sat around, waiting to be sewn and stuffed, ever since because I couldn't figure out how to embroider the face. After looking at the pattern again (the Bear Pair Teddy Bear), at the finished bears on Ravelry, and at this Morehouse Farm pattern, I decided to not embroider the face at all. That freed me to finally finish this project. He is 9.5" tall, and I used Caron Simply Soft for the body, and some leftover Simply Soft Tweed for the scarf. The scarf is just 20" of I-cord. I probably could have stuffed his bottom half a bit more, but I wasn't sure how it would go sewing the final seam. All in all, though, I am quite pleased with him, and I got to cross one item off my list already. Only 29 more to go!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm Still Trying... get my thoughts together about Elizabeth Zimmermann and the green sweater. Reading the story of the sweater and the designer's efforts to recreate it make me want to get much more serious about my knitting. That's a nice, if vague, long term goal, so I have been trying to decide how I want to go about pursuing it.

And it occurred to me that getting better acquainted with EZ and her patterns might be a good way to start. I was looking through her book Knitting Around, and I became quite taken with the Moebius Vest. So I cast on on Sunday.
This is the back of the vest, and it is going to be a large garter stitch square until I get to the point where I separate the front and back panels. It is hard to explain the exact construction, but I will try to take pictures when I get to the point of seaming the sweater to show how it goes together. I am using 4 skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca, an alpaca/wool blend, that I had originally bought to make a shawl. I think a vest will be a more practical garment, however.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Elizabeth Zimmermann

I don't have time to write the post I wanted to this morning, but I am going to post a couple of links anyway. I will finish my thoughts next week when I have time. I have been thinking about Elizabeth Zimmermann a lot lately, in part because of a post on Brooklyn Tweed about photographing an original EZ sweater. The story of how this sweater came to light is here. It's an inspiring story that has me thinking a lot about how to become the knitter I want to be. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Endless Hit Parade of Scarves...

...isn't as endless I had originally thought! I just looked at my Ravelry project page, and I was surprised to find that I "only" have 14 WIPs on there. (Ok, it's still too many, but not as bad as I would have thought.) 3 haven't really been started yet. I just had matched yarn and pattern, so I listed them so that I wouldn't forget. And I am working on 2 scarves that I haven't listed there yet. So I only have 4 scarves to blog about today.

I started 2 of the scarves in August. The first pattern is called Gabriel's Wings. I'm calling it "Getting Ready for Autumn".
I'm using 2 skeins of Louet Gems, handpainted by Cherry Tree Hill. I bought 8 skeins of this yarn, in various colorways, on a great sale at the Knit and Crochet Show. It's fingering weight, so the scarf is growing slowly, but I love the colors and this pattern. It's hard to see in the picture, but the pattern is alternating sections of garter and stockinette stitch, with eyelet rows in between the sections.

The second scarf I started in August is crocheted. I've had this Cotton Fine yarn, a cotton/wool blend, in my stash for years, and I've never known what to do with it. I want to get it out of the stash, and the last time I looked at it I thought, why not crochet a scarf with it?
I decided to use the bushy stitch, which is 2 dc, 2 ch and 1 sc in the ch2 space of the previous row. I love how it is working up. It is creating its own border around the edge of the scarf. The original chain edge will be the middle of the scarf, so that both ends of the scarf match. It's just taking time to work up over 400 yards of fingering weight yarn.

This month, I have cast on 2 more scarves. One is an easy, garter stitch scarf that is my current mindless knitting.
I am holding 2 strands of LB Wool Ease together and I am using size 15 needles. So it is growing quickly and will hopefully get 4 skeins of yarn out of the stash.

And finally, so small that it doesn't even lay flat yet, is a Feather and Fan Scarf. (Sorry, another Ravelry link.)
I am using 2 more skeins of the Louet Gems from the Knit and Crochet Show. The colors are even more saturated in real life. I really need to spend more time with this scarf. I have been wanting a Feather and Fan scarf for some time now, so I really want to see this one grow.

I think I have enough projects going to keep me busy for a while!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Socks Squared

Before I get to the endless parade of scarf WIPs I am working on, I have to talk about my new favorite project. During my yarn buying binge in August, I managed to buy 6 new skeins of sock yarn. So I told myself that if I was going to continue to stash sock yarn, then it was time to become a more dedicated sock knitter. And at the beginning of September, I found a perfect Ravelry KAL to help me out with that goal.

The group is called "Socks Squared". (I'm not sure why, but there you are.) We are going to be choosing 1 or 2 patterns a month to work on. The September patterns are Primavera socks and Pawprints socks (Ravelry link). It was a tough choice, but I settled on Primavera for my first pair. I pulled out 2 skeins of Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett self-striping yarn that I had bought at Webs a few years ago and cast on before I left for vacation.
Unfortunately, I didn't have as much time as I had hoped while we were traveling to work on the sock, so I am still on the second pattern repeat. But the pattern is fairly easy, so if I settle down and actually work on the sock, it should be finished this month.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Only Summer FO

Before I get to my one summer FO, though, I just want to thank Dee and Taph for their comments yesterday. It feels good to be back here, but I'm sorry to tell Dee that I'm not sure when I will get back to crochet guild events. The truth is that this year, my mom and my in-laws need my dh and me more and more. I'm glad to say that there hasn't been a medical crisis, but they are all getting older and they rely on us more than they used to. At this point, I am lucky if I get 1 entire weekend a month at home. (I always make sure that I get at least 1 day of each weekend at home to get the laundry done, but with 2 days on the weekend, I could get even more done.) So I'm just not as free as I used to be to attend fun events.

So, in my last July post, I mentioned starting 4 scarves as my traveling projects for the summer. Well, out of that group, I ended up frogging 2 of the scarves. One is still OTN, and one actually got finished.
I used 2 skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca Melange, a sport weight alpaca yarn, and the Yarn Harlot's One Row Handspun Scarf pattern. The yarn was just yummy to use, and the pattern is the perfect combination of easy yet interesting. So the scarf knitted up relatively quickly.

The scarf that is still OTN currently looks like this:
I am using 2 skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca Alpaca & Silk blend, a DK weight yarn that I bought up in New Hampshire several years ago. I had considered this to be precious yarn (I guess because of the silk), but I decided it was time to knit it up. I originally intended to make a triangular scarf with the yarn, but now I think that a more textured stitch pattern works better with the solid color. This one will get more love eventually, but right now I seem to have a bad case of startitis. More about that tomorrow!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Summer is Over...

...or at least waning fast, and it's time for me to get back to blogging. I've got lots going on to talk about, so hopefully I won't disappear again for an extended period of time.

But first, let me recap summer. It was busy, busy, busy! Work still hasn't calmed down completely, but it is slowly getting back to normal. I have taken 3 trips in 3 months, so I am ready to stay home for a long while. In July, we took a long weekend in central New York state to attend a family reunion with my dh's family. In August, I went to the Knit and Crochet Show with friends from my crochet guild. We had a blast, sightseeing at Niagara Falls, walking around Buffalo, and attending classes. Others have blogged extensively about the conference, so I won't go into great detail. (If you are interested, check out Nancy, Dee, Jen and Margaret's blogs for day by day accounts.) And last week, the dh and I spent 4 days in Newport, RI on our yearly vacation. That was a lot of fun, too, but it was incredibly windy, so we didn't get to spend as much time on the beach as we would have liked.

And there was some yarn acquisition. Actually, there was a lot of yarn acquisition in August. There was so much yarn acquisition that I don't have the heart to photograph it, even though it is mostly still in a large bag in the craft room. I managed to add just about 8 miles of yarn to my stash, wiping out about 3/4ths of my stash busting efforts of the last year and a half. So there is also now a serious yarn diet going on. For the first time, I have joined the "Going Cold Sheep" thread over on the Stash Knitdown group on Ravelry. Not only have I signed up for Cold Sheep, I have accepted a challenge to use up or give away 100 skeins of yarn before I buy yarn again. There is no time limit on the challenge (thank goodness), and my reward for completing this challenge is going to be enough Fleece Artist yarn to make a Tilted Duster. It was one of the few temptations I was able to say no to in August, so I am making it my long term goal.

Tomorrow, my one FO of the summer.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quick Note

I just wanted to make a quick post to thank everyone for your well wishes. My back and foot are feeling better, although they will feel even better when summer is over and I'm not on my feet constantly. Work has been crazy, as expected, and I am feeling tired this morning, which is not good on a Monday morning. But we are more than half way through the summer reading program at this point, so I think I will survive. It helps that I have 2 vacations coming up to look forward to.

My crafting has been unfocused this month, to say the least. I have finished Eva's Shawl, but I haven't woven in the ends or blocked it yet, so no pictures. I have also been spending a lot of time on Ravelry, finding and printing out scarf patterns. Scarves are always my travel project of choice, and I have managed to start 4 new ones over the past 2 weekends. That gives me six projects total, so that should keep me busy on my travels over the next few months. I will post pictures once the scarves are long enough to be photogenic. Other than that, though, I probably won't be posting much until school goes back in, which in these parts is August 25th.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

July Goals

The news about my July goals is that I have decided not to set any goals for July. My left foot has been bothering me the past month. It has been swollen frequently, and the top of the foot has been tingly off and on. I injured the foot 9 years ago, and I was concerned that I had reinjured it (although I didn't remember doing anything to it.) So I went to the orthopedic doctor yesterday afternoon and got the good news that there is nothing wrong with my foot. (Since I had been having visions of my foot in a cast all summer, this was indeed good news.) However, he feels that my back is a problem. I have possibly slipped a disc. There is definitely inflammation and a pinched nerve, which is making my foot tingle. So I am now taking Alleve twice a day, which is a treatment I can live with. While I am relieved to know that I'm not crazy and that there is something wrong, I am also still tired and not feeling quite like myself. The 3-day weekend coming up should help me to get rested out, however. (Nice of the 4th of July to fall on a Saturday this year!)

So, as far as my projects go, I have decided that I am just going to work on what I feel like day to day. I would like to finish Eva's shawl for the conference in August, but if it doesn't happen, that's ok. I am also contemplating making squares for another afghan. But if I do, then I am telling myself that I have to spend some time in the fall and winter sewing afghan squares together to straighten up the craft room. This does put the 52 Projects in 52 Weeks challenge in jeopardy, but at this point, I'm really not sure I could keep up the pace, so that's ok too. Stash reduction will continue, and that's what's important.

Happy Fourth of July to all of you who celebrate! Have a great and relaxing holiday weekend.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Squares and Contemplation

Well, I am still mulling over what I want to accomplish this summer and how I want to proceed with my projects. I did, however, make 2 squares this weekend. I really like Saturday's:

Sunday's, not so much:

The square is fine, but it doesn't lie nice and flat, which bothers me.

The variegated yarn, that looks almost white in the pictures, is Simply Soft Baby by Caron. I only had 1 skein, and I am glad that I am playing with it in these squares before I bought enough for a big project, because it turns out that I don't like the yarn very much at all. The white yarn is soft, but the color flecks seem to be fabric, and they are hard. This would not be a good yarn for preemies, that's for sure.

Otherwise, this weekend, I did my chores and laundry, and I read. I finished the 2nd crochet mystery, Dead Men Don't Crochet, and then read most of an older Jayne Ann Krentz called Family Man. Once I start a Krentz, I just can't put it down. Even though work did settle down late last week, it was nice to have some time to sit this weekend and rest.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Projects

I was so happy on Sunday when I finished my mittens. Somehow, I had it in my head that I needed to complete 4 projects a month for the 52 Projects in 52 Weeks challenge, and I had finished my 4 projects for June. I thought that I could take a couple of weeks off, work on some of my bigger projects, and decide what my goals would be for July. Then it occurred to me that 4 projects a month times 12 months in a year equals 48 projects, not 52. I really do need to complete a project a week, even if some months that means 5 projects. So that set me a back a bit in my thinking.

Then, over the last 2 days, the summer reading season started with a bang at work. This is my 12th summer at the library, and I'll admit that we get busier every summer. Nothing in my experience has prepared me for this week, however. I have never seen the library so busy. Yesterday was the kick off party, and 300 children showed up. We were so busy helping patrons that we couldn't even keep up with returns, let alone any of our other tasks. Lunchtime is the only chance I have gotten to sit down. Since it is only the first week, I haven't hit the wall of exhaustion yet, but if this pace keeps up, I will hit it soon. So I have to factor that into my plans for July and August as well.

Then, while reading my blog subscriptions this morning, I found a new blog that I had to subscribe to. It's called 365-A Crochet Odyssey. The woman who writes the blog is making 1 crocheted block a day this year, just to be creative. She picks a pattern and yarn each day and makes whatever she feels like. Not every pattern works, but overall her blocks are beautiful. But they aren't made for any other purpose. She doesn't know what she is going to do with them. This idea has intrigued me. I don't want to just copy what she is doing, but I think it would be fun over the summer to do something like this, to be creative first and determine the purpose later.

So I'm still going to take the next couple of weeks off from the 52 Projects challenge and work on my larger projects. I will also be mulling over how I want to proceed over the summer. And I have to think about what project I want to take with me to the Knit and Crochet Show in Buffalo in August. So much to think about, so little time!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

#4 of 52

Despite having a very busy weekend last weekend, I did find the time to make a mitten and finish my 4th project for July.
These are sized for a man and will be donated to charity eventually. I used 146 yards of Plymouth Encore (unfortunately less than 1 skein). I have to admit that the gray got a little boring, so I'm glad these are finished.

And there was yarn waiting for me when I got home from work on Saturday.
3 skeins of sock yarn from Elann. It was a nice treat at the end of a very busy day at work.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Baktus Clarified

Sandy left a comment on Wednesday's post, and I thought a more detailed explanation was in order (since I might have confused others as well). I mentioned that Baktus was knitted end to end rather than bottom to top. Typically, when I knit a triangular scarf, I start at the bottom point of the triangle and increase up to the shoulder. Then I knit both ties one at a time. This gives me a scarf that looks like these:

Baktus starts at the narrow end of one of the ties. You increase to the widest part of the triangle, then you decrease down to the end of the second tie. I think this will give me a shallower triangle than the scarves pictured above, which will be a nice change. I think Baktus will be more flexible in how I can wear it.

I also wanted to thank Taph for her comment. I think that I don't mind using sock yarn for other projects because I'm just not a committed sock knitter. I know how to knit socks, well enough to help others, and I have made several pairs. But I don't find it as addictive as some knitters do. However, I have to try making a pair with a more detailed pattern one of these days. Outside In from the new Knitty might be the candidate. The plain vanilla socks that I have made get a little boring to knit. So making socks a little more challenging might just make them a little more addictive as well. And I have plenty of sock yarn in the stash to play with to try this theory out!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Last week, while searching Ravelry at work, I found a pattern that got me excited. This is actually fairly unusual. I look at a lot of patterns, most of which don't interest me all that much. My Ravelry queue is only about 30 patterns long, so I am rather particular about what I want to make. But Baktus really grabbed my imagination, and I couldn't wait to get started. The pattern originated in Norway, as far as I can tell, and Baktus was originally a character in Norwegian mythology.

Baktus is basically a large triangular scarf that is worked end to end (rather than bottom to top) in garter stitch. I decided to use a self-striping yarn, and I got this far:
Then I hesitated, because the stripes look a little unusual because of the construction of the piece. So I went digging further into the stash, and found another yarn to try.
Then I went back to Ravelry and looked at all 400 projects listed on there. And I finally reassured myself that the FOs all looked fine and mine would too. So I now have 2 versions of this project started, both of which I want to finish. Luckily this is a quick and fun project to knit, even if I am using fingering weight yarn and size 3 needles.

However, I also now have self-striping sock yarn on the brain and wouldn't you know that put some self-striping sock yarn on sale yesterday. I fell in love with 3 of the colorways, so I now have 3 skeins of sock yarn coming my way. I just couldn't resist! Since I don't think I have bought yarn all year, I don't feel too bad. But I will be good now until August, when I go to the Knit and Crochet Show.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

#3 of 52

Just a quick post to show off my FO from last weekend. This is the One Row Lace Scarf. I used 1 skein of Lion Brand Microspun, for another 168 yards out of the stash. I hadn't intended on finishing this one so quickly, but I found another scarf I want to make last week on Ravelry. (More about the new project later.) So I decided to be a good knitter and finish this one first, before I started the new one. It was so close to being finished that I was able to get it done despite a fairly hectic weekend schedule.

I lost my internet connection last week, and I ended up spending most of the weekend getting it restored. It only took 2 calls to AT&T, a new patch cable, a new surge protector, and a new router, but by late Sunday afternoon, I was finally back in business. Now I just need to finish backing up my files and replace the battery in the laptop, and I will be completely wireless again. However, all this is still cheaper than buying a new computer, so I'm not really complaining. But please be patient with me, because I am still catching up on my Google Reader subscriptions and Ravelry groups, so it may be a few more days before I am completely back up to speed.

Monday, June 08, 2009

#2 of 52

On the one hand, I'm starting to feel like I'm on a roll with the 52 projects challenge by finishing my second project this weekend. On the other hand, the summer solstice is about 2 weeks away and I'm making mittens. My seasonal knitting seems to be a bit off right now. However, I will be great shape when the cold weather rolls around next winter. And I actually decided that mittens aren't a bad choice for summer knitting because they are small projects that don't spread out all over your lap.

So, without further ado, here are my Malabrigo mittens.
Started 12/08 and finished 6/7/09. I stopped working on them because I took it into my head that the first mitten was too big. It then took 6 months to convince myself that it was exactly the right size.

The mittens used up 168.5 yards, leaving me with 47.5 yards to use before I can count the skein finished. I am thinking about some sort of crocheted motif, maybe hearts, that I could put aside for future use as a pin, fridge magnet or applique. (And if I do that, would it count for another project? I think it would!) When I come off my yarn diet, I definitely want to acquire more Malabrigo. It is just so soft and yummy to knit with.

And amazingly, there was other knitting this weekend, too. (Amazing because there was also a major shopping expedition on Saturday morning and a birthday celebration for my mom yesterday.) I managed another 20 rows on my Classic Elite Premier vest, and I am now just 1.5" away from decreasing for the armholes. Once I set up the King Charles Brocade stitch pattern, I think the back of the vest will be finished very quickly. I made the mistake of reading the end of the pattern, and now the finishing has me a little concerned, although I will try not to psych myself out about it. I just need to do some research into the best way to block cotton/tencel. And I have time, since the two fronts won't be finished for a while yet.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

#1 of 52

I finished my striped socks yesterday, for my first project of the 52 Projects in 52 Weeks challenge. These were knitted toe up, with a short row heel, using Janet Rehfeldt's instructions. (I don't have a link, but her book on toe up socks is finally available.) I think I need more practice binding off toe up socks, because the top edge just looks a little wonky to me. (Or maybe the socks just need blocked.) However, the socks look just fine on. (Pardon the white legs above the socks.)

I used Regia Crazy Color yarn for these socks. The socks used a total of 272 yards, which was just over 1 skein of yarn. So I now have 188 yards in the second skein that I still need to use up. I'm thinking about a pair of fingerless mittens in the near future.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Kreative Blogger Award

Last weekend, Sandy very graciously bestowed an award on this blog - the Kreativ Blogger award. The rules with this award are simple:
List 7 things you love
Link back to the person who gave you the award
Pass it along to 7 other bloggers.

I've been mulling over my answers ever since. 7 things I love:

  1. My husband.
  2. My family.
  3. My pussy cat.
  4. Knitting.
  5. Crocheting, and the people in my life who share my passion for the fiber arts.
  6. Books and reading.
  7. My job and my coworkers. (I can't believe I just typed that, when there are so many things I could complain about when it comes to work, but the truth is that I would be lost without it right now.)
And the 7 bloggers I think deserve this award, in no particular order. Please consider visiting them and prepare to be inspired:

  1. Crocheting with Dee - Dee is a good friend both online and in the real world. I can't think of another blogger promoting the art of crochet more fervently than she does.
  2. A Little Yarn on the Side - I found Toni through the Stash Knitdown Group on Ravelry, and her efforts to both stash bust and finish WIPs have been an ongoing source of inspiration for a lot of us.
  3. Unravelled - Another Stash Knitdowner, Taphophile is currently wrestling her WIPs into the ground and is providing me with inspiration to tackle my own.
  4. Yoelknits - Yet another Stash Knitdowner, Yoel actually used up her stash last year during the course of the challenge. She makes beautiful and occasionally whimsical projects that also continue to inspire me.
  5. Creating Lace - Lacey was my first swap partner, and I have followed her from blog to blog ever since. She is currently blogging about her life and her adorable puppy dog, and her blog is still a joy to read.
  6. Knitikas - Valerie was my swap angel during my second swap, when my original partner went completely AWOL. She has since become a friend, and I always enjoy her posts. As it turns out, she is also a librarian, so we have several things in common.
  7. Prairie Gumbo - Criquette has been a blog friend for several years now, and I always enjoy her blog. She is an animal lover extraordinaire, and her posts about her animals make me want to be a better person.
So there you have it. Thank you, Sandy, for giving me this award and the opportunity to share it with the bloggers I look forward to reading each day.

Monday, June 01, 2009

One Last FO...

...before the start of the June challenge today. This is a scarf that I started in March and finished May 13th. I put it down without weaving in the ends, so I finally finished it at the end of last week.
And it represents another 3 skeins out of the stash. (Yes, I am back to counting skeins as well as yardage as of today! I was very excited when I finally finished a skein of sock yarn yesterday as well.)

And in other news, I spent a lovely day yesterday with Jen, Nancy and Grace at Jen's house, teaching another sock heel workshop. Heels were turned, plans for our trip to Buffalo in August were made, and a wonderful time was had by all. It was the perfect end to my vacation week, and I actually feel up to facing work again today.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pictures Today!

One of the guidelines of the 52 Projects in 52 Weeks group is that we should only work on 4 projects at a time. My goal is to finish something every week, and then add another project to the 4. Hopefully this will give me time to continue working on bigger projects as well. So I have been giving careful thought to what my first 4 projects will be. (Once I clear out some of the UFOs that I have once again found in my yarn room, I will actually get to cast on some new projects, which will be very exciting.)

One thing I know is that I always need a small traveling project ready to go. Right now, that project is a One Row Lace Scarf.
I'm using some Lion Brand Microspun that I found in a drawer. I have 2 skeins, but I may only need to use 1 for the scarf. I'm just going to knit until I think it's long enough. I am very pleased with the pattern, so I might keep this one or put it in the gift pile. But in the meantime, I'm not in any hurry to finish it.

I am also working away on the Classic Elite Premier Vest and enjoying it immensely, so this will definitely be #2 of the 4.
Classic Elite Premier is a cotton/tencel blend that is the softest cotton I have ever used. I love working with it.

I am doing another sock workshop on Sunday for some of my friends, so I have been working away on a sock for teaching purposes.
I should turn the heel on Sunday, so I want to finish the sock next week. Then it will be the first of my 52 finished projects and will be replaced by a mitten probably.

Then I come to #4 of 4, and I am facing a hard decision. I have 2 shawls in progress right now. Eva's shawl, which is crocheted, is getting close to being finished.
It's actually big enough to wear as a shawlette, but I want to finish the skein of yarn and have a bigger shawl to wear. So I really should concentrate on this one and get it finished.

However, it's going to be really hard to stay away from the Estonian Garden Shawl until I finish Eva.
I am about halfway done with the body of the shawl, and then I need to work on the edgings, which will be a bit more challenging. (My first nupps!) This project has also been a delight to work on. I love watching the lace grow. But I will try to be good until Eva's Shawl is finished.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Guess I Needed A Rest!

I can't believe how long it has been since I last posted. I don't know where the time has gone, but I think that I really needed the break. Nothing has really changed, but this year, life has felt increasingly hectic. It's hard to put my finger on what is wrong, but I think the feeling starts at work and continues into my spare time. However, today is my 3rd blogiversary (which blows me away - where did the last 3 years go?), and if I am ever going to get back to blogging, today seems like a good day to do it.

So, I have been doing a bit of knitting on some larger projects, and I have been doing a lot of reading. I can't remember the last time I have enjoyed reading this much. I am currently working on book #35, so I think I am going to surpass 52 books for this year. I am reading The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler (as a break from all the Regency romances I have been reading), and I am enjoying it immensely. I just watched the movie again Sunday night, and although the story in the book is somewhat different, I can see why they made some changes for the movie.

Now, however, it is time to get back on track with my fiber projects and with my stash busting efforts. I have found yet another new group on Ravelry. This one is called 52 Projects in 52 Weeks. We are starting on June 1st and continuing until May 31, 2010. The enthusiasm in the group is infectious, and I am really looking forward to meeting this challenge. In order to make it a bit more challenging for myself, I am going to limit my 52 projects to any knit or larger crochet items. I can make smaller crocheted items, but they won't count towards the 52 project goal. I'm hopeful that this will get me to continue working on my larger projects. I have also rejoined the Stash Knitdown 2009 (although I am still struggling to catch up on reading all the posts). I am going to take up the 100 skein challenge again, but my year for accomplishing that will also run from June '09 until May '10.

I will post some pictures later this week of my current projects and where I am going to start for the 52 project challenge. I am off from work this week, so job one is to get myself organized and ready to go!

Monday, March 23, 2009

More New Projects

Yes, I seem to have developed a slight case of startitis! None of last week's projects are close to being done, but I have started another 3 projects.

One of my patrons who knits and crochets has been making hats this winter in an effort to teach herself Fair Isle knitting. She has brought in at least 3 of her hats to show me lately, and of course this has lit a fire under me to try my own hand again at adding some color to my knitting. I decided that for my first attempt, I would make a plain vanilla solid color hat and just add a band of Fair Isle to the middle to jazz things up. Here's where I am so far:
I am using a basic hat pattern from Ann Budd's book The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns and a motif from Sue Pearce's The Knitting Stitch & Motif Directory. I really have to concentrate on the colorwork, and I haven't done everything correctly (which is why I'm not putting up a picture of the inside of the hat). But I am happy with how it is coming along.

Then, on Saturday, we had a crochet program at my library. Dee has a great post up about the program, complete with pictures. We had a lovely day teaching people about crochet. While we were there, one of my sock students, Nancy, decided to start her sock again. Apparently, I am really open to the power of suggestion, because when I got home after the program I just had to start the second sock of my pair. Here is the start of the second one:

Finally, yesterday, I decided to start another crocheted scarf, which I will hopefully get finished and donate to my crochet guild to sell on April 2nd. The yarn was staring me in the face, so I went on Ravelry and found a suitable pattern on Bernat's website. (The pattern is free, but you need to sign up for a membership to get it.)
Unfortunately, the color doesn't show up very well in the photo. The color is a lovely blend of blue, yellow, and green, which makes me think of the ocean. So far, this is growing very quickly, and it will get another 3 skeins out of the stash. I am going to modify the pattern slightly. I am going to work half the scarf and then go back to the starting edge and work the second half of the scarf down from there, so that both ends of the scarf match. I'll see how that works.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Catch-up Post

Despite the lack of blog entries lately, I have been working away on some projects. I have realized that I truly have become a lace knitter, and that knowledge pleases me no end. I have 3 major knitting projects right now, and all 3 involve lace.

First up, the Estonian Garden Shawl by Evelyn Clark. I started this shawl several years ago as my first lace project and promptly screwed up the pattern. I put it away for a long time, but I pulled it out again this year. I had to start from scratch, but this time I am not having any problems with it. (Well, except for the YO I missed yesterday afternoon, which I didn't figure out until about 5 rows later. But I ripped back and fixed it, so everything is good again.)

I am also working on the Classic Elite Premier Vest. (This pattern is out of print, so I don't have a link for it.) This one has lace and cables, although I am not quite up to the cables yet. Right now, I am working on the back, and it seems to be a little big. But I am hoping that the cables will help pull it in a bit. If not, I think I can adjust the top part of the vest to fit. I should add that I am getting gauge, which is why I am going ahead with the knitting and will adjust if I have to.

Finally, I am still working on the Japanese Waves scarf. (PDF link) However, I think it is too wide, so I am seriously considering frogging it and trying again with fewer pattern repeats across. Luckily, I really enjoy knitting this pattern!

With these 3 patterns, I have truly become a process knitter. I am taking my time with them and just enjoying the knitting. In other words, they will be done eventually but probably not any time soon.

There's been some crocheting, as well. My crochet guild is having another sale at the local hospital at the beginning of April, so I have been making a few baby items for them.
Hopefully I will get a few more items made before April 2nd.

And I am continuing to read like there's no tomorrow. I have finished 19 books so far this year, and yesterday I started #20. I am finally taking a break from Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick. Since I am leading a book discussion on The Daughter of Time next month, I picked up Nicola Upson's book An Expert in Murder, which features Josephine Tey as the main character. So far, I am really enjoying it, and I feel like I am getting to know Josephine Tey better as a person (bearing in mind that it is a novel). I will have to see how well the novel stands up to reality once I do some research on Tey myself.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tunisian Preemie Blanket

Thanks to Monday being a snow day here in CT, I had time to start a preemie blanket using the Tunisian Simple Stitch. There are other Tunisian stitches, but I decided to start with the most basic stitch and work my way up. I got out Pauline Turner's book How to Crochet, read through her chapter on Tunisian, and got started. Here's what I have so far:
All I can say is that it's a good thing Pauline says that "Tunisian crochet curls while being worked". Otherwise, I would be really freaked out right now, because all I have is a tube. When I spread the tube out, the stitches are nice and even, and the blanket is going to be dense and warm, which is great for a preemie blanket. I am already planning a shell stitch border, which should cure the curling problem. But I don't think the blanket will look good in a picture until it is completely finished.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I'm Not Sure Where February Went To...

...but I have decided to start March off right. I decided yesterday that, after 2 months off, I am ready to do some stash busting this month. So I got busy yesterday and finished the scarf that I had started last May to work on during the MS Walk. I had finished the first skein of yarn before the end of December, intending for this to be one of my first FOs of 2009.

I also finished my 15th book of the year last night. It was Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman's book Neverwhere is one of my all time favorite books. While Stardust was no Neverwhere, it was a very sweet take on a fairy tale. I've been meaning to read Stardust ever since I saw the movie in 2007.

Reading in March is going to revolve around Josephine Tey, since I am leading a book discussion on The Daughter of Time in April, and I think it might be a good idea if I read some of her other mysteries as well. There is also now a mystery series featuring Josephine Tey as the main character, and I would like to read the first book in that series as well.

Crafting in March is going to revolve mostly around crocheting. March is, after all, National Crochet Month, and I can stash bust much more effectively if I crochet. My guild is going to be teaching a class at my library on Tunisian crochet at the end of the month, so I really need to brush up on my Tunisian crochet before then. I think I will try a preemie blanket and see how it goes.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I Got Busy Last Night...

...and I finally finished another 7 WUA squares, bringing my total to an even 20.

These were supposed to be finished in January, so I only missed my deadline by a few days.

I haven't done much other crafting lately because I am still reading Jayne Ann Krentz like there is no tomorrow. I have decided that if January was any indication, 2009 is going to be my "year of reading frivolously". But at least now I have something to talk to my romance readers at work about!

However, I did have an epiphany of sorts last week. It occurred to me that if I am going to continue to do all this reading, I am going to have less time to knit and crochet. I'm ok with accomplishing less with my crafting this year. I actually think that I am feeling burned out after making 100+ projects for each of the past 2 years. However, I realized that I need to choose my projects more carefully if I am going to make fewer items. So this weekend, I am going to try to organize my thoughts and make some decisions about what I want to work on.

Friday, January 23, 2009

One Row Scarf

I'm happy to report that Mom's surgery yesterday morning went very well. The only unfortunate thing about it was that we had to be at the hospital at the ungodly hour of 6:15 in the morning. But we were home by 11:00 A.M., and she only has a small incision. So other than still feeling tired this morning (and very grateful that it is Friday), I am well pleased.

I had taken the entire day off from work, so I had some time at the hospital and at home in the afternoon to finish up one of my scarves. It was so close to being finished that I decided to focus my attention on it yesterday.
I used the Yarn Harlot's One Row Scarf pattern, and the leftover yarn from this project. The yarn was from Blue Sky Alpaca, and it's an alpaca/silk blend. The scarf ended up being 5" X 50", which is a nice size. The yarn color is called "garnet", so it's not quite such a bright red as it looks in the picture.

I also started The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards yesterday. I was prepared to feel lukewarm about it, but I found that it is an extremely enjoyable book to read. I'm hopeful I will have time to finish by next Wednesday so I can attend book discussion. The real trick is going to be keeping my hands off the romance novels for a few days, so it's a good thing that the serious book is a good read!