Thursday, 31 July 2008

Under the wire, baby!

I finished the pair of booties this morning! I will give them to the mum-to-be next week when I see her. They are utterly adorable.

And while at the knitting group over lunch, I was asked to model my sock-in-progress. Imagine my surprise to discover that it's pretty much long enough to start the toe! I was expecting to need at least one more pattern repeat, based on the last pair I made, but apparantly my row gauge has changed. Or I miscounted. I wasn't carrying to first pair around with me to measure! So I'll check everything tonight when I get home and hopefully come to the conclusion that yes, it really is time to start the toe decreases.

I had a nearly-very-bad accident this morning. I'd left some dregs in my teacup this morning, and when the phone rang unexpectedly I jumped a mile and knocked the cup with my elbow. Fortunately it only tipped over, since it's my favourite mug, but the dregs went all over a bag of yarn! Eeeep! I never thought I'd be so grateful to my acrylic, but I am - 95% of the tea landed on the acrylic and just pooled there. A handy towel mopped it up, and what little that went elsewhere was mostly absorbed by yarn labels. The stash is safe, and I'm feeling pressed to knit it all up so that it's safer yet!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Reality Check

A while back I blithely decided that I wanted to finish the year with no knitting or crocheting WIPs. Well, it's nearly August, and I've got 13 of the buggers outstanding. Plus at least 3 more that I absolutely want to get done this year (2 pairs of socks for Mission:Possible and that Fair-Isle vest I bought the yarn for in March). 16 projects to be finished in 5 months. Well, let's think about this for a minute.

  • The booties are a quick win. I cast on the second last night and will probably finish it this week. No Problem.
  • The flag is half-done and is just garter stitch and a tiny amount of embroidery will finish it off. No Problem.
  • The coatigan needs both sleeves and a collar, plus I need to do 10 minutes of work on the lapels, make button loops and sew the buttons on. Time-consuming, but doable.
  • 4 pairs of socks - Monkeys are about a third done (finishing up the foot on sock one), the socks I'm making for Mum are at the heel flap of the first sock, and the other 2 pairs (Anne-trelac and Pomatomus) are not even cast on yet. But Anne-trelac is toe-up stockinette until I get to the foot, and I'm planning to do Pomatomus for the Ravelympics*. Challenging but possible.
  • The mitts I'm making for Weaving Friend are barely started, but it's 2x2 rib on 4mm needles. No Problem.
  • Red Swallowtail is about a quarter done. However, I love it totally and utterly and WILL NOT ABANDON IT! Doable.
  • Chenille scarf is a mindless tv-watching project. It's fun, it's chunky yarn on big needles, and there's only 1 skein of the stuf. Doable.
  • Seed stitch pillow that I'm making for Best Friend is a toughie. I really enjoy working on it (yes, I'm one of those sick people that enjoys seed stitch), but it's barely started. Will really have to crack on in order to finish this. Possible, but challenging.
  • Slippers - doable. I made the last pair in about a week, so there's no earthly reason not to finish these. Other than the boredom factor. Doable.

Then there are the last four projects. There is the lacy grey scarf that I've been working on forever out of Kidsilk Haze. I keep thinking I must be nearly done by now, but I swear the ball of yarn is getting longer as I knit from it. It just doesn't shrink! I think I'm going to need to find a set of scales that measures in grams and figure out how much yarn is actually left to knit up.

There is the rippled bedspread that would go really quickly if it weren't HUGE. I'm working on it every so often in the evening while waiting for the spouse to come to bed, but right now it's just too hot to work on an acrylic blanket.

There is my half-hexagon shawl of loveliness that I am absolutely not going to get finished this year. It's just too big, and the rows are getting too long. I will finish it someday, but not right now.

And then there's the vest. Ideally, I'd like to have this done before I go to meet the Yarn Harlot the first weekend of September. Which would mean that in the next 5.5 weeks I need to knit 2.5 pairs of socks, 1 booties, 0.5 of a flag and an entire steeked Fair-Isle vest. Yeeesh. Wish me luck!

*Ravelympics - a fun(!) thing organized on Ravelry where you choose a knitting or crocheting project, cast on during the opening ceremony and finish it before the torch goes out at the end. And you're supposed to choose something challenging. I've never finished a pair of fingering weight socks in less than a month, much less a pair this tricky! I have strategically taken the last 3.5 working days of the Olympics off, just in case...

Monday, 28 July 2008

bit by bit

I did quite a lot this weekend. Not as much as I'd hoped, but then I do have a very clean and tidy flat and I got to spend a whole afternoon with a baby and her parents. Baby L is just about the sweetest thing I've ever seen! I'm still astonished at how small they are when they are first hatched.

Because I spent so much time bouncing a baby, most of the knitting I did was small bits of things. A few rows of the mitts for Weaving Friend, a few rounds of Monkey Socks, a couple of inches of afghan, a stripe on my flag... Lots of useful progress. I've already met my completion goal for the month, so I'm feeling fine with not pushing to finish anything else. Of course , the last time I said that I ended up with 2 more FOs, so I'm not making any promises!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Inspiring progress

No, I'm not making vast amounts of progress and inspiring people. Rather, I'm doing rather a lot of unexpected cleaning and organizing of crafting things and it is inspiring me.

The great clean and organize on Sunday resulted in my husband's painting corner becoming a lot tidier. We've ordered a new shelf unit to sit next to the wine-rack, which will give him a lot more storage for his miniatures and paints. We also made a shelf for the top of the wine-rack to hold some of the millions of aloe vera plants that are taking the place over. And because we were doing all this rearranging, I also did things like scrub the floor and dust the windowsills, which I somehow always manage to put off doing. It looks so much better now! Another result is that my enormous tapestry frame now has a home behind the couch where the army boxes used to live.

There is an additional shelf for our bookcase on order too, which will give me a home for all my tablecloths and some of the DVDs that don't fit on their shelf. And finding a home for the cloths means that my garb chest now holds nothing but garb and our Scrabble board. Easy access to Scrabble board is very important. :D

Then last night when I got home I was planning to have a general tidy-up of the place. I'd been playing with my stash, which meant that the living room was covered in yarn and fabric and magazines. Well, we tidied. But we also went through the entire contents of the trolley/sideboard thing and cleaned it. No more dust bunnies. No more Warhammer* living in one of our serving dishes. And I went through all of my fabric stash and figured out what I'm going to do with almost all of it! So now I have sorted piles of stuff, all the things I'm currently working on are easy to get to, the stuff I'm not planning to do any time soon is at the bottom, and my living room is much cleaner.

The result of this is that I'm much happier about working on my current WIPs. Mostly it's because I know what I've got waiting for me, and I don't have to worry about whether it's going to be where I can find it when I want to work on it. I'm also getting over my urge to cast on or cut out a dozen new projects, because actually, I'm happy with all the ones I'm working on right now!

I'll put up photos once the shelves arrive and everything is done. We're expecting them next week.

*This particular Warhammer stuff was mine, I can't blame everything on the spouse!

Monday, 21 July 2008

More contests!

I just keep entering contests these days. But hey, it's fun, it makes for good blog fodder, and sometimes I like thinking about things other than rearranging my living room. This one is for KnittyOtters's Getting to Know You questionnaire. So y'all can find out things about me you never knew.

Getting to Know you Contest Questionnaire:
1.) How long have you been knitting?
Since I was 17. My Cantonese roommate at boarding school taught me garter stitch, and our housemistress taught us both to bind off. Everything else that I know is self-taught!
2.) How long have you been knitting socks?
Since March last year, according to my blog entries.
3.) What do you do with a problem like Maria?
Rammstein concerts back-to-back with a Resident Evil marathon. With popcorn and beer.
4.) What is your all time favorite sock yarn?
Posh Yarn's Emily. Too scrummy for words!
5.) Toe Up or Cuff Down?
Cuff down. Nothing is more comfy than a flap heel.
6.) What's your favorite color (this week or for all time)? Do you have a color?
Fo knitting with? Orange, red, anything bright, really. For wearing, black, grey, white, navy, teal. Hence the lack of wear on all my handknits.
7.) Do you have a pet(s)?
Sort of. None that live with me, but I have 3 cats at my mother's!
8.) Babies: Oven Roasted or Barbecued?
Barbeque, definitely. :D
9.) Besides socks what is your favorite type of thing to knit?
I'm completely addicted to hats. Love them to pieces. Want to make millions. Fortunately I actually wear hats, so this is ok.
10.) What's your favorite scent?
Vanilla and cinnamon.
11.) What music are you really loving right now? Like a song or a band?
12.) How many pairs of socks have you hand knit?
7, plus 2 stranded Christmas stocking and a pair of slippers. And I hav 2 pairs on the needles right now.
13.) What's your favorite treat? Salty or Sweet?
L'artisan du Chocolat cinnamon chocolates and salted crunchy pretzels. With root beer.
14.) What was the most interesting thing you smelled yesterday. Not good or bad necessarily, just the thing that stuck out most so that you actually took notice of it.
The smell of leather armour. I was fencing.
15.) Needles - DPN's: Wooden, metal or plastic?
Bamboo or wood. Plastic if I'm flying.
16.) What is your favorite sock pattern that you've knit? What do you recommend?
Monkeys! Best pattern in the world. Love them.
17.) The last Question: If you were stuck on a deserted island who would you want with you, what knitting would you want with you and would you ever want to leave?
I'd like the whole Shire of Thamesreach, since they all have useful skilz and my spouse is one of them. I'd like the entire contents of my stash and all my patterns and needles, since they'd last me several years, and I'd only want to leave when the yarn ran out.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Truly a Knitter-with-a-capital-K

This morning I woke up early, and it being Sunday I decided to let my spouse sleep. So I thought I'd indulge in a little me time and work on my Monkey socks. I got all comfortable and curled up on the couch, me at one end with my socks and the laptop at the other end, and knit a heel flap without looking while scrolling through blogs about knitting with my feet. It was great. I had a really pleasant morning.

And now I'm going to spend the rest of my afternoon cleaning, organizing and rearranging to make room for the tapestry frame that has now made it home and been assembled. (We met up last night with the people who were kind enough to drive it home for us after Coronation.) This is going to involve much discussion, planning, cursing and many cups of tea. Hopefully at the end spouse and I will still be on speaking terms and the living room will look less like a teenager's bedroom. Did I mention that in addition to the tapestry frame my living room holds a regular set of furniture, our dining table, all of my knitting, yarn and fabric stash, my husband's complete collection of wargaming stuff, two laundry racks and all of my little brother's worldly possessions while he's in between college and his first job in September? This could be fun. Or not...

Friday, 18 July 2008

A raffle for a good cause

Earthchick, a fellow knitblogger, is currently holding a raffle. A year ago her son nearly died, and she is working to raise money for the people who supported her and her family afterwards. A situation of giving back to the people who give, and I think it's a really good one. So go donate!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

A quiet evening in

The spouse was at a meeting last night, so I spent the evening at home with my knitting and the Fellowship of the Ring on DVD. (As an aside, this trilogy is amazing. Favourite set of films ever.) Decided that since there was no conversation on the agenda, I'd indulge in some Swallowtail action. I haven't worked on this shawl in a couple of months, but I got back into the swing of it reasonably quickly, and finished an entire repeat of the Budding Lace chart. Only 5 more of those, then the section with the beads, then the edging.

And then I get to experience the joy of blocking my first lace shawl. I suspect there is going to be much bargaining over the use of the bed as a blocking surface, since it's the only flat surface in our flat that's big enough to block a shawl. The spare mattress might work, since this is only a little shawl, but we'll have to see.

Of course, at the rate I'm knitting I may not even need to block the thing until next year. :D

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

I am weak

For last night I cast on another new project. I didn't have anything on the needles for Summer of Socks, so I went through my sock yarn stash, fished out my oldest skein of sock yarn (Jitterbug in Bright Charcoal that I got as payment for the Dr Who Scarf), and cast on a pair of Monkey Socks. This will be the second pair I've made and will certainly not be the last. As I was fondling all my yarn last night, I just kept looking at the different colours and thinking "that could be Monkeys. So could that..." about nearly every skein I've got. There are a couple that are absolutely going to be something else, but there's maybe 4 more skeins that I want to make into Monkeys. It's just such a great pattern!

I finished the ribbing last night, and I'm starting the first pattern repeat over lunch. I'm only doing 2 on the cuffs since the yardage in this yarn is atrocious, rather than the 4 I did on the last pair. It should still be ample, though, since I like ankle socks. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 14 July 2008

Doomed. No question about it.

There were a couple of other purchases back at Coronation that I didn't mention yet. First, this lovely forked stick. Is is a slingshot? A dowsing rod? No, it is in fact a distaff.

I also got another stick. This one, with its handmolded lump of metal on the end, is a bottom-whorl drop spindle.

This is 50g of silk roving.

Yes, I plan to start spinning. I am doomed.

Pictures! At Last!

I found some camera batteries this morning, so here is a quick rundown of recent activity.

I had a hugely productive weekend, somewhat unexpectedly. I finished up a project that's a gift for a friend who reads the blog, so no photos until I've given it to her! But it's done, and I'm happy. Then I thought I'd do a little bit on the red garters I was making for my mother, and realized that actually there wasn't much left to be done on them. So I just finished them.

And then I discovered that a project I wanted to work on required US 7 straight needles, and my favourite pair was embedded in a Calorimetry. So I finished that too. Didn't make it nearly as big as the pattern suggests, because it would have eaten my head if I had. I even had a coordinating button to finish it off, so it's really truly done.

I managed to take a photo of the finished Odessa hat, too, although I finished that a while ago.

And I only started one new project, even though I finished 3! It's another one-skein scarf, although not garter stitch this time. It's a pattern I found on Ravelry, and I'm loving it.

I even spent some time working on a couple of UFOs! The grey scarf got another few inches done, and I worked on the coatigan. I've sewed the second lapel and started the first sleeve, so that's good. I'd really love to get both of these done soon...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Sometimes you win

While at Coronation, another thing happened that I forgot to mention. One of the merchants was holding a silent auction for a very elderly (possibly antique) tapestry frame. One of the wooden jobbies that stands on the floor. Hub put in a very low bid, and against the odds, won it for me! He didn't even tell me that he'd entered, so I was floored when he sauntered into the bunk with it in hand.

And just before I went on holiday, I won some sock yarn from Another Purl! She was giving away a skein of bright, bright green Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn, and I was lucky enough to win! It came in the post yesterday, and I already know what I'm going to make with it...

Monday, 7 July 2008

Socks, at last!

Now that all the sewing is out of the way and I've finished the hat, I'm finally knitting some socks! Big pink worsted weight socks that are going incredibly fast. Love it. I finished the first sock in less than a week, and am now a good ways into sock number two. More Monkeys next, I think.

I was planning to spend the weekend taking pictures of things for the blog, but woke up on Saturday morning with a raging headcold. No photos for me! I also missed out on the most recent beer and museum trip. Still, better to get healthy as quickly as possible, and the enforced sleeping and vitamins did me a lot of good. Plus there was time for much sock knitting.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Back in the saddle

The sewing marathon is finally over. We all had garb to wear to Coronation, where much fun was had. People even admired the stuff we made! Pretty much everything got done, too, which surprised me greatly. The spouse's red tunic is not finished, but it is going to require a great deal of ripping, redesigning and resewing. Frankly, I'm just not into it right now! Also didn't get the garters done, but mum ended up managing just fine without them.

I'm devoting my last day of vacation to doing things that I want to do, rather than things I have to do. I just finished my Odessa hat, for starters! It came out as more of a beanie than I was expecting, but that's alright. I didn't have any beanies. I still think it's pretty. I'd like to make one without the beads, since they were a bit of a pain, but this pattern is definitely going into the "make again" pile. Not many patterns there, truth be told!

Later today I'm planning to cast on for some socks, possibly wind some yarn, and perhaps cut out a new skirt. There is much more garb being planned, now that I actually have time to enjoy doing it.