Monday, October 30, 2006

Knitting Night

Okay, t'was the night before Halloween and the kids haven't found where I hid the candy. Yet. They are having no problems finding the pumpkin, grown by my brother and weighing in at 150 pounds! It was a kick to carve, though at times we thought we might have to get out the chainsaw. I'm using a three wick PartyLite candle to illuminate it. No wimpie tealights for this beast.

But the best part of tonight is uninterrupted knitting. Decent TV (okay, I admit it, I'm addicted to Heroes) and hopefully I will finish Foot 1 of my Fuzzy Feet.
I've been making small bits of headway over the weekend--but what I need are some really good knitting nights. Tomorrow night is a bust--between getting the kids out for Trick or Treat and answering the door, any hopes for some decent rows is just plain crazy. No, I need a good miniseries from Netflix and some nights of too much TV to indulge myself in. Get this knitting drive that comes every Fall kicked into high gear. Does anyone else just find the Fall is made for knitting?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Another Skein Bites the Dust . . .

And lives on in the form of two baby hats. I didn't think I'd get two hats out of this partial skein, but when I finished the first one and there was too much yarn left to ignore--I cast on a smaller amount of stitches and made a premie version. I had forgotten how much I love knitting hats--the simple joy in knitting in the round, the way the rows add up so quickly and in an evening you have a finished project.

A few Christmases ago, I knit hats for everyone. The nieces and nephews, friends, anyone I needed to find a little gift for. In total, I think I knit about 30-40 hats. Crazy, but fun. In the new issue of knitsimple, there is a pattern for "basic hats." It takes one basic pattern and shows how it can be made in 9 different combinations. Oh, seeing that article made my fiendish hat knitting heart beat wildly. And of course, I have all this extra yarn leftover from my last hat knitting frenzy...

Meredith posted a comment the other day about seeing patterns (in blogs and magazines and books) and being inspired to add to the project list. I've been reading blogs lately, indulging in the voyuerism of seeing what everyone else is knitting. But when I see all these cool projects, I want to make them as well--toe up socks, an Elizabeth Zimmerman inspired sweater, or some lacy concoction that I haven't a clue how to even cast on. I think all knitters probably suffer from this and we collect patterns like we collect yarn.

I gathered all my little bits of inspiration together recently, all the ones I've downloaded from the internet, bought, or plucked from magazines and cleaned through them. It took some moments of real self-examination: Am I really going to knit this? Do I really need to keep ALL these magazines? And if the answer was yes or even a hedged maybe, I put it in a sheet protector and tucked it in a 3 ring binder. In a year, I'll give it another run through. But it came in handy this week when I decided to knit those hats. I just opened it up and plucked out of the hat section the Ann Norling Kid's Fruit Cap pattern I love. Yes, the notebook has dividers . . . I'm a bit anal when it comes to notebooks and dividers--I was a paralegal in my former life and I love nicely organized documents. That reminds me--I need to refile the hat pattern if this system is going to work. Okay, so I'm a little out of practice.

Next up: I want to knit my Fuzzy Feet, and maybe a vest. Then get going on my Christmas knitting. Which is what I really should be concentrating on . . .

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Digging Around

As I blogged the other day, I started another pair of wrist warmers, but for some reason lost interest after about 20 rounds. I hate that when it happens--you find something to knit you think you are going to like, but for whatever reason it just doesn't do it for you. Do you know what I mean?

So last night, instead of avoiding my knitting like I did Tuesday night, I dug out the BIG box. The under the bed box. The one I haven't shown yet. This is one of two boxes of yarn and half finished projects I keep under my bed. (Good thing we have a King!) This box I tend to keep the yarns/projects that are on the forefront of the creative burner--but there are also some odd skeins in there as well.

And it was in the simple act of rummaging around in the stash, that I came across this half skein of Colorado, a nice, very soft tweedy looking red, washable wool and remembered a call for baby hats in the new issue of knitsimple. Apparently, 3 out of 4 newborn deaths in the developing world could be prevented by such low cost tools . . .such as a baby hat. A baby hat? I can do that! Grabbing up my handy notebook of knitting patterns, I got out my very favorite baby hat pattern, Ann Norling's Kid's Fruit Cap Pattern #10 and decided I had a match. Something easy, quick and rewarding.

If you weren't up for the scarf challenge of making a scarf for the homeless, how about a baby hat for babies who die from nothing more than a lack of warmth? To find more information on this project, hat patterns for knitters and crocheters, and how to submit a hat, go to

So with a new project in hand, I felt good again, ready to knit, but I knew that this hat wouldn't take me more than a night or two, so I needed to stock the project box with one more thing to
knit before I really get going on my Christmas knitting. Digging around some more, I pulled out these skeins of Brown Sheep and the Knitty pattern for Fuzzy Feet. My always cold toes celebrated.

By the way, I turned in my charity scarves this week. I got three done and knit down about 6 skeins! Here they are:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Outta Yarn

Okay, I was going to talk about the ethics of buying required yarn for a lace knitting class I was planning on taking. But now I realize I can't take the class because of scheduling conflicts, so that isn't an issue any more.

But here is my new problem. No, I haven't run through my stash yet. What happened was that I was finishing these Fetching wrist warmers and ran out of yarn. This is the second pair that I've had that happen to. The pattern calls for one skein of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. I went up to get the link and now I see they've added a warning to the pattern that perhaps two skeins might be necessary. Now you tell me. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson on the first pair which I ended up shorting the last thumb hole and knitting from trimmings in the bottom of my knitting bag--still I thought by being very frugal with my cast-on tails and when I cut the thread at the end of the first one, I might make it through the pair, and still . . . not enough yarn to finish the thumb. Doesn't that little bit of yarn just make you want to weep.

I don't want to discourage anyone from making these wrist warmers
because they are lovely--and fun and quick to make. I learned two new skills making them--a cable cast-on (which has nothing to do with cables)and makes a nice stretchy cast-on, and picking up and knitting from live stitches. You can see the blue yarn in this first pair I made, and then the live stitches after I picked out the blue waste yarn. Then you pick up the stitches and knit the thumb, without using a gusset. There is that trembling moment when you have live stitches floating out there that makes you nervous, but I suppose that is rather like the bungee jumping of knitting.

One other reccommendation I would make: on the next to last round of 4x2 ribbing, I knit tog the middle two stitches of the K4 part of the rib. It helped pulled the top opening in a bit, and they fit better on my hands--though I have narrow hands, so that may be just me.

Still that leaves me a bunch of single skeins, and obviously I'm a 2 skein gal when it comes to this pattern. The plan was to make a bunch of these as Christmas presents, but I only bought one skein of each color to make them . . . well before I made the vow . . . (See me banging my head against my desk.) Really truly, I don't want to go buy more yarn. See me weeping and wailing as I scoop up my keys and go bolting out the door . . .

But I did act with some restraint last night, and instead of tossing the whole works against the wall, I went into the project box and pulled out the three skeins of Helio I had and the Spring 2006 issue of Interweave Knits, and cast on a pair of the Rib and Cable Mitts found on page 68. Here is my first night's knit.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Oh, and did I forget to mention the unfinished projects?

Yes, believe it or not, I've got some unfinished knitting projects. Really. Fine. Laugh all you want, but I want to see how many unfinished projects you have. Off the top of my head there is--in no order of importance:

1) The Barn Jacket Sweater in Cascade 220
2) The Noro Basketweave Sweater which I am knitting in Classic Elite
3) A purse to felt
4) At least three pairs of socks in various stages of knitted-ness
5) A pair of Fetching Knitty wrist warmers
6) The sweater in Manos that is all knit but has a few problems and needs to be blocked
7) Oh, and the last charity scarf, which I made great progress on last night

And there are probably more if I dug around a bit, but those are all I am 'fessing to right now.

So as part of this vow to knit from my stash, I also feel this nagging bit of guilt to finish some these projects as well. I mean if I am not going to finish the project, then rip it out and use the yarn for something else. Or knuckle down and fix whatever is wrong with the project and get it off the needles.

So I tackled two things this week that I knew I could do quickly and easily. The first one was the sweater up top, which you might recognize as the Fairly Easy Fair Isle from Stith-n-Bitch Nation. Okay, so it wasn't so easy for me. I've been knitting on this darn sweater for nearly two years. I tore it out more times than I can count. I had a terrible time getting the gauge right. Now normally I sit down to knit and I'm spot on whatever gauge the project calls for, but if I start to knit a sweater--heaven help me! I can't get the gauge right to save my life. I actually finished knitting it last spring, but was so mad at it, that I never did the final seaming and putting the buttons on until the other night. And happily, it fits and is nice and warm as the weather here as turned chilly and cold.

The other project that had been nagging me was this hat. Our beloved babysitter, Jessica, has gone off to college in Eastern Washington, so I knit her this hat to keep her warm on those breezy and cold Ellensburg days. But the rise on was too long and the hat came down to her nose. So the other night, I tore it out and redid it, reducing the rise portion by two segements and redoing the earflaps. Now it will fit her perfectly, and it is off in the mail to her.

Really sometimes, it is just a simple fix to get a project moving, but why on earth is it so hard to get past that frustration and just do it? Does anyone else have this problem?

Next blog: Does buying the required yarn for a knitting class count?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Where to Start? How About Some Charity Knitting!

One of the kicks in the pants to start knitting from the stash was a notice I saw in my church bulletin. I saw it about five months ago and it was a call for knitters to make scarves for the homeless for this Fall/Winter season. The organizer sought to collect 1000 scarves before November 19th. A thousand scarves? Yikes, that's a lot, I thought, and promptly put it on the "To Knit" list, which I then ignored.

Then I saw the notice in another bulletin, then in my knitting guild newsletter and again on the web, and could feel this finger tapping me on the shoulder. And finally I realized that I certainly wasn't going to knit 1000 scarves, but I could knit 1. And how long would it take 3-4 days out of my regularly scheduled knitting project.

And it wasn't like I didn't have the yarn.

So I pulled out a skein of boring gray acrylic that I probably got from one of my mother's garage sale bargain bag o'yarn that she brings me from time to time, and pulled out one of my favorite scarf patterns: Seaman's Scarf, from the Christmas at Sea program. The scarf knit up quick and I looked at my one lonely scarf and realized I could do a little more. Nothing like a little Catholic guilt to keep the needles clicking. Besides, now I had a mission: Knit the Stash.

So I dug out these leftovers of Lion's Brand Wool-Ease Chunky from what the family calls "My Christmas of Hats" (that's another story altogether) and realized I had enough to make a scarf, maybe even two. Well, two it is. I played mix and match with the scraps I had and am nearly done with the last scarf. How easy is that . . . plus the bonus is, I'm down an entire box of extra yarn. And best of all, three homeless men will have scarves for the winter. No, it isn't much, and there are still 997 necks left to warm, but I figure there are enough of us out there, like me, with a few extra skeins lying around and willing to take a couple days out of their knitting to make a scarf or two.

How about it? Anyone else willing to knit a scarf for the homeless? I'll get the address where to mail them to and post it the next time I blog. And now that I've knit these, what are your favorite things to knit for charity?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Enough is Enough

There is a point where you just can't stuff any more yarn under the bed. Really, truly. It is probably one of those mass to ratio or some sort of engineering notions that my husband could explain, but face it, I make it a rule never to ask an engineer to explain something. Because they will. In agonizing detail. But I digress.

No, the ugly truth comes sneaking up on you when you least expect it. Suddenly one day, after you've made another necessary run to the yarn store, (and don't tell me that yarn therapy isn't necessary, because it is) and you come home to hide, er, I mean, put away the evidence and you won't be able to find another place to stash it. The under-the-bed storage containers are overflowing, the downstairs closet (as seen here) has runneth over, even that neat space under the stairs will no longer bear the burden. And there you will find yourself, clutching your new yarn to your chest and promising it softly and assuredly that it doesn't have to go back to that mean and cold yarn store and have that icy cold feeling down your spine.

You have too much yarn.

Too much yarn? Say it isn't so.

But it can happen. Even to nice people. Now I came to this realization about a year ago. And I vowed come January 2006, I would not buy any new yarn for a year. That I would "knit my stash." After stocking up frantically the last week of 2005, I stuck to my vow for about . . . well, a week. Oh, stop smiling to yourself. I made it a week, and that in itself should count for something. I blame eBay. And a complete lack of will power.

But that didn't eliminate the problem of too much yarn. And it is amazing how resourceful you can become when you have to find new places to store the stash. Now I am not one to encourage people in their bad habits, but I found that if I cleaned out the file cabinets in my home office, all that free space just called out for something to fill it up. And did I.

They ought to do a Survivior season on this--because no one is more resourceful than a woman with too much yarn--think of the challenges: getting all your 100% wool under the bed, who can sneak in into the house the most skeins, how many projects can you have on needles at once. Wow! I'd watch, if only to learn a few more tricks.

But really, I need to stop. At least until this closet looks a little less, well, full. So I am, from here on out, at least for the time being, knitting from stash. At least I am this week. Want to see how long I last? Stay in touch.

Want to join in? Got some closet confessions of your own? Do share. Where is the most incredible place you've stashed yarn?