Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A year of needlework

2008 has rocked on the making front. 47 finished projects, some started this year, some started a long time ago. Rather fittingly, the last two projects of the year are my oldest and newest! I had hoped to squeeze in the second Rock and Weave sock, but decided that there were other things I wanted to do more.

So, the breakdown. In 2008 I finished:
  • 2 embroideries
  • 4 baby projects
  • 6 hats
  • 3 shawls
  • 8 scarves
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 4 pairs of fingerless gloves
  • 2 'home' projects
  • 6 pieces of garb
  • 5 'other'
I have 8 WIPs, more yarn than I started with, and many, many plans for the year to come. I'm joining Mission:Possible again, but this time I'm having a much more general list.

1-4: Socks for me. I'd really like to get to a point where I have enough handknit socks that I don't have to wear store socks unless I want to.
5: A sweater. Either for me or the hub, but I want to knit more real clothing.
6: The ripple afghan. Bored now, would like to finish.
7-9: Shawls for me. I have a ton of yarn designated for shawls, I should really knit some.
10-12: Gift knitting from my 2 bags of gift yarn.

These projects can include WIPs, since my other knitting goal for 2009 is to get all of my WIPs finished.

Additionally, I'd like to finish at least one major piece of embroidery and make more garb, since we're going to more events now. Especially summerweight garb and stuff appropriate to my persona.

I find that I'm much more picky about yarn purchases now. I still enjoy shopping, but I tend to only get things that I know I'll knit. I suspect that most of 2009's yarn will be from the sock club membership my grandmother gave me (thanks Grammy!), and for the Christmas stockings I want to make for the hub and myself. I've also been destashing some stuff that I know I'm never going to knit with. The cotton is pretty much all gone, because it hurts my hands. The remaining acrylic is going to become granny squares when I'm between big projects, eventually being turned into a second cushion.

Here's to 2009!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Spitting distance

That's how close I am to finishing my poetry sampler. And the first of my Rock and Weave Socks. The sock I plan to finish over my lunch hour today (and then cast on number 2), and the sampler I will finish tomorrow. Because tomorrow is the first day of my vacation! Woohoo! I'm off until the 5th of January, so I have high hopes of getting lots of needlework and reading done. The plan is to finish this pair of socks, spend the rest of 2008 working on WIPs, and then start crocheting my friend's wedding dress on January 1. And start knitting a pair of socks for the hub.

It's been a pretty busy and productive year. Lots and lots of finished projects, lots of learning, swaps, destashing, stash enhancement, Ravelry, first lace shawl, all sorts! I shall do a complete breakdown on New Year's Eve, since hub has to work that day. (I'm planning to use the days of vacation when he's working to do lots of knitting and blogging so that I can really dive into spending time with him while he's at home. It's all good.)

My lovely brother gave us an early Christmas present which will benefit the blog - a new digital camera! The old one was fine, but this one is amazing. All sorts of bells and whistles, and it takes really good close-up pics. This also means that I can photograph our celebrations so that my family can see what we get up to.

There probably won't be a great deal of blogging from now until the New Year, so have lovely holidays!

Monday, 15 December 2008

The people for whom I knit

There seems to be a general assumption that knitters make things primarily for other people. Perhaps because of the steroetypical mental image of the doting grandmother churning out mittens and sweaters and christening robes for their grandchildren, perhaps not. There is also a fair degree of criticism aimed at knitters who knit for themselves, which is rather unfair in my opinion. After all, most people who have creative hobbies don't do it to make gifts for others, they do it for themselves.

Probably half of what I make is for me, and the rest is gifts, intentionally or otherwise. (Sometimes projects just belong to someone else even if they weren't supposed to!) The biggest difficulty for me is balancing the time I spend on each kind of knitting.

My mother is certainly my favourite person to knit for. She likes lots of different kinds of knitwear, and is knowledgeable enough about textiles to be able to tell me exactly what she does and desn't like. She also has similar taste to mine in many things, which means that knitting things for her is fun and not a form of purgatory. (Dr Who Scarf, anyone???) Consequently mum gets most of my knitted gifts. In fact, I have an entire carrier bag full of yarn that is all destined to become mum projects!
My grandmother is a fun person to knit for as well. I haven't knitted much for her yet, but she's loved it all. The trouble with knitting for grammy is that she lives in the South, where it never really gets cold enough for proper knitting...

Various friends get odd things, when I feel like it mostly. I've got a couple lined up for the next few months, including the Holy Grail of yarnery - a crocheted wedding dress. That needs to be finished ASAP, so I'll be spending a lot of my Christmas holiday working on it. I'd like to have it completely done by the end of February at the latest so that the Mother-of-the-Bride has plenty of time to assemble and sew in the lining fabric. (My dressmaking skills are not up to improvising a dress lining, sadly.) And quite a few friends will barter with me. That's rather more satisfying, because I like it when people realize exactly how many hours of my life have gone into making garment x.

My little brother, dearly though I love him, will not be getting my knits. His taste in sweaters is even more boring than mine, he doesn't wear hats, scarves, gloves or mittens, doesn't use anything that requires a cozy, and would destroy a pair of socks faster than I could knit them. Perhaps someday if he decides he needs an ironic teacozy, I'll make him one. Although he was talking about a felted slipcover for his flatscreen TV...

And then there is my husband. Bless him, he loves my needlework. Wears all the garb that I sew for him, thinks my granny square cushion is the best and wants another one, is convinced that socks are too clever for words and doesn't mind the yarn stash. He'd love lots of my knits to wear all the time. Which is great, don't get me wrong. Socks? Fine - we have the same sized feet, so it's no worse than knitting for myself. And he likes hiking socks, so I can make them with worsted instead of fingering. Scarves? He wears the one I crocheted back when we were dating every winter and loves it. He doesn't really need another one. He doesn't wear hats, which is good because his head is enormous. He doesn't do gloves or mittens, although I keep finding patterns for colourwork mittens that he squees over.
No, the problem with my husband is the sweaters. He loves sweaters. He generates a lot of body heat, so will often be running around in winter with just a pullover while I'm shivering in a coat, hat and scarf, so he needs lots. Trouble is, he's a natural fibers man. I made the mistake of picking up some dress shirts once that were a poly/cotton blend and he wore them exactly once before ditching them in favour of some horrifically expensive 100% cotton ones. This would be fine if he didn't wear a L/E-L in sweaters - that much wool is expensive! Plus, it's really hard to find superwash wool in a worsted weight, and I refuse to handwash his sweaters, since they need washing so often.
There's just one other issue. I've married someone who seems to be the only spouse in the entire world of knitting who LOVES really complex Aran sweaters. This would be wonderful, if only I liked knitting cables! They are gorgeous to look at, but so tedious to knit. I showed him a very stylish sweater with a sigle panel of thin cables up the centre - "It's too plain, couldn't you make me one with lots of plaited cables?" Kudos to him for knowing what a plaited cable is, but yeesh!

Ah well. I love him dearly and wouldn't swap him for anything. I will knit him a sweater one of these days, but for now - he's getting a stockinette stitch iPod cozy for Christmas.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas! Other half and I had a lovely and productive weekend of cleaning and organizing, resulting in a much emptier office and a new arrangement of furniture. My dining table is no longer a home to armies, my teapot collection is out and useable, and my Christmas tree has a home.

The pile on the floor is books that I found in the office that I need to read and return to the library at some point. I'm hoping that having them out will make me take breaks from knitting to read. Maybe. :D

The ornaments on the tree are a rather special collection. It's our first tree, in honour of our first Christmas at our own home rather than either set of parents. Some of the ornaments are from my childhood, bargained away from my mother. Like the gold harp from a family holiday in Scotland, or the Pisces disc that I made in pottery class and which matches the ones I made for the rest of my family. Some are from friends. The angel topping the tree, for instance, was a gift from my best friend. She gave it to me when I went on my year abroad, to remind me of home and keep me safe while travelling. And there are the newest ones, the Hallmark ornaments that are from my mother and grandmother in honour of our marriage. It's a very special tree, and I think that it's good to start our own holiday traditions while keeping the old ones.

I'd like to make a tradition of holiday swaps on Ravelry for certain! I received a parcel in the post the other day from my Posh Secret Santa, and it was lovely! Beautifully wrapped in coloured tissue and brown twine, and smelling gorgeous. A set of pattern tamers, long strips of magnet with ribbon attached to keep my paper patterns from escaping in the breeze. A bottle of perfume and a bottle of gorgeous bodywash for pampering myself. And some badges and bubble solution, just for fun! My swappee has her parcel, but is saving it for Christmas. I hope she enjoys hers as much as I do mine.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Another state of the WIPs

I really, really dislike having so many projects on the go. I just ripped one the other day, but cast on something else. Finished 2 projects for Christmas, but one gave me leftovers and the other was tiny and never got photographed. ARGH!

So, as a note to myself, here are ALL of my WIPs. Oldest first.
  • The Coatigan. Needs 1.5 sleeves and a collar, plus some seaming. I could almost certainly finish this in a weekend if I sat down to work on it properly.
  • Ripple Bedspread. About 1/3 done. It goes quickly when I work on it, but I rarely do more than a few stitches in the evenings. I may bring this out as my tv-watching project.
  • Pomatomus Socks. I am actually working on these on and off. I finished the gusset of the first sock a few days ago, but haven't worked up the energy to do the foot.I'll finish them someday!
  • Silky Mittens. These are on hold. I only cast them on out of frustration, and I don't really need them urgently. And they are a bit boring, if quick.
  • Leafy Manos Hat. I packed this away while tidying, which was a mistake. I could probably finish it in an evening. In fact, I might work on it tomorrow morning before work and see if I can get it done this weekend.
  • Mum's Wool Peddler Shawl. I'm working on it. It's a whole bunch of garter stitch for a good long while yet, so not hugely interesting.
  • Rock and Weave Socks. I love these tremendously. They are in my bag waiting for a dinner break, in fact. I'm slightly putting off really working on them because I will need tofind buttons at some point.
  • Test Mittens. These have thoroughly been tested now, so there's no rush to finish. I had to rip out most of the first mitten because it was too small, so they are hibernating until I can face reknitting all that colourwork.
  • Replacement Noro Triangle. I had a cast-on itch, so succumbed. I'll work on it when I'm finished with some of the other stuff.
  • Gifts for people who read my blog. Yeah, so not giving away what those are!

Actually only 2 really old projects. Everything else is from this summer or later. But there are many, and they are annoying me. And most of them require 2 items to be knit, for such is the nature of the mitten and the sock.

Perhaps I shall restrain myself by not allowing myself to cast on the beautiful tangerine-coloured laceweight I got in the post this morning until all of these WIPs are done...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Getting back to normal

I've finished all of my obligatory holiday knitting and posted it. I'm posting the second of my holiday swap parcels later today. And all the bits of the mittens that needed testing have been knit. I can now work on anything I like! Yay!

The cool thing about Christmas swaps is that once you've had all the fun of assembling, wrapping and posting one to an unsuspecting fellow crafter, you get one back for yourself! I've had a parcel from the first swap, and it's now sitting under my Christmas tree looking all smug and mysterious. The plan is to open it on the 6th for St Nicholas' Day. It is a European swap, after all. Haven't had the second parcel yet, but then the posting deadline isn't until the 15th. It's so exciting!

I'm currently working on getting as much off the needles as possible. We're having a Solstice party with lots of people coming over, and I'd like as much stuff done and out of the way as possible. No mulled wine on my spinning wheel, thank you very much.

I've started a new project, one that's just for me. My mum fell in love with my green Noro Triangle, so I gave it to her. She got me some replacement yarn to make a new one - more Noro - so I thought it was high time I got to work. I finished the last one in a week, but I'll be happy to have this one done by the end of the month so I can wear it over the holidays.