Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Very Fetching Christmas

Fetching Wrist Warmers, that is. And on a very cold day like today, they seem to be the perfect gift. Of course, the finished the green pair are for me. But I went right to work on the butternet ones--these are for my friend Anne. She is a wonderful person, a talented cook and a dear confidante. Here she is on our trip to London this past spring--this picture was taken at the Roman Baths in, well, Bath.

I was supposed to go with my mom, but she came down sick, couldn't go and Anne stepped in at the last moment and came along. Not an easy feat considering she has three kids, one of which she was in the last stages of nursing. But she managed to come along and we had great fun. She also proofreads the galleys of my manuscripts for me--which is a huge service to me, because by the time the galleys arrive, I'm usually really, really sick of the book. So I think the wrist warmers are a nice thank you. Besides, this butternut sort of color is one of Anne's favorites and when I saw the skein, I knew I had to make her a pair.

I never do great big sweaters or things like that for Christmas, but I try to find a small gift I can make that say Thank You. And this year I seem to have a lot of people on that list. But the warmers are fast, and the scarves don't take more than a day or two. And I'm getting caught up on all the back seasons of BSG.

The only problem is that darn bag of Tahki Tweed is sitting there taunting me, just begging me to go swatch it so I can cast on the Central Park Hoodie. But I'm resisting . . . as best I can.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Jingle Bells, Knitting's Swell . . .

My Christmas knitting spilleth over. I made some progress this weekend. Well, sort of.

I'm still playing around with the Knitty Fetching wrist warmers pattern, and since I've been messing with the pattern, I think this pair of celery colored ones are going to have to be mine. I really consider it my duty to keep this warm, lovely pair, since I really, couldn't, well, shouldn't give away an experimental pair, now should I?

So what have I done to the nearly perfect pattern? I found the top part too loose around my fingers on the first two pairs I made, so here I reduced the K4, P1 rib over the thumb. I K2Tog on each of the four rounds after you put in the waste yarn for the thumb, and then on the next to last round, I K2Tog in the middle two knit stitches of each K4 portion of the rib. This pulls the opening in enough to make it a little tighter around my fingers. But I have really narrow hands--so maybe it's just me. I also added another cable section to the top portion above the thumbs. Since I had to buy the extra yarn, I thought why not give myself a little more warmth?

I have a couple more pairs to make--the next pair will be in this pumpkin color. I just have to make sure that I don't fall in love with them and decide they need to be called experimental as well. Perhaps its a good thing that I can't make them out of the one skein that the pattern called for. Being the smart knitter that I am, instead of just buying another skein and then having the leftovers, I bought two extra skeins so I knew I could get 2 pairs out of the three skeins.

I also finished the white ruffled scarf, and cast on the next one in the black Lion Cashmere Blend. Instead of a K1P1 rib pattern, I'm going to do a K2P2 rib up the length. I know, I know, I shouldn't live so dangerously, but I like it on the wild side. Okay, this is Christmas knitting, so remember fast and quick is the order of the day--with a side a sarcasm. But the sarcasm is necessary, since I've got 4 scarves, 2 sets of fuzzy socks, 4 sets of wrist warmers to get done--and I'd like to have them knit in the next two weeks. Yes, two weeks.

And then? I'm going to knit for me. I've been watching all the people knitting the Central Park Hoodie, and now it's my turn. I got the yarn in the mail (Yes, I know I'm supposed to be knitting from my stash... but I love this green and I'm just calling it an early Christmas present for myself.) Then I had to hunt down a copy of the Fall issue of Knitscene at Weaving Works, and would like to cast it on, but I have a feeling I won't get it on the needles before January. Anyone else dying to knit one of these?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Countdown Begins . . .

Every year I swear I am going to start my Christmas knitting in January. One scarf or shawl a month until December and it will all be done by November. Good thinking, right? You'd think. Does it ever happen? Uh, never. Because in January, all I want to knit is sweaters (and I've already got my sweaters lined up) so Christmas knitting is going to be the last thing I want to do. But thankfully I know myself well enough that in July I start test running patterns to find the quickest, easiest knitting patterns because, well, the calendar is already halfway done and I haven't even started.

Now this year, I ran into bumps with even those good intentions. I've already discussed my bump in the road with lace knitting. So the great lace knit scarves are out, and I just found extra skeins of the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino that I need for the Fetching wrist warmers that turned up short. And then my Jo-Anne.com order was black and gray instead of all black. So here it is, almost December and I've got a marathon of knitting to do in the next few weeks.

And even that wouldn't be so daunting if I didn't keep getting side-tracked. First by my lace knitting failure, and then by a skein of Rowan Biggy Print, which I turned into a hat for our babysitter, Jessica. She's going to college in Ellensburg, WA, where the wind, plus the snow and cold, can make a Seattle girl really wish for rain. So I send her new hats to keep her warm. (But of course, I forgot to take a picture of her in it!)

So I am making up my mind right now. It's scarves and wrist warmers this Christmas. I am going to rework the Fetching pattern a little, and instead of cashmere lace scarves, Santa is knitting these neck warmers out of the Lion Cashmere Blend: Ruffled ends and a K1, P1 ribbing up the length of the scarf. I may make the next one with a K2, P1, ribbing just to keep things a little different. The Lion Cashmere is nice to work with and very soft, so I would recommend it.

So what are you favorite quick and easy knit Christmas gifts?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lace . . . NOT!!

Okay. After a week of really, really, trying to like lace, I admit defeat. I hate it. It drives me nuts. And I admit, I can't follow a chart to save my life. I knit along, thinking I'm doing well and get to the end of the row only to find five stitches on the needle instead of the three that are supposed to be there. Arrrgh. I even got yarn to do the white lace scarves that I thought looked so pretty and easy and after knitting the same freakin' 36 stitches and 16 rows, and muttering "I really love knitting lace, I really love knitting" through five rip outs, either the lace goes or I get meds. And as much as I want to love doing it, I'm throwing in the white flag (or the white cashmere, in this case) and just saying "Enough!"

I suppose that is the good part about being older. A few years ago I might have forced myself through the entire shawl or three scarves just to prove to myself that I CAN do it. Okay, you know what, I don't care that I can't knit lace. I wasn't all that sure what I was going to do with it anyway. (Well the scarves were going to be Christmas presents, so there is that hole to plug). No, I know myself well enough to realize that I would knit and curse and knit it through and then set down my needles and not knit for months out of frustration.

But I don't want to do that. No way. So I'm cutting off the lace, taking the cone back to the yarn shop tomorrow and getting something that I will love to knit with.

In the meantime, I've been adding rows to my Leftovers Vest and cast on another pair of Fetching wrist warmers. Hear the big sigh of relief that comes with comfort knitting?

What have you tossed down in disgust and sworn off? Come on, confess.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lace Interruption

Never sign up for a knitting class in November, because here it is, the height of Christmas knitting season and I sign up for a Lace knitting class. Oh, what was I thinking? Because now I am obsessed with getting my homework done. Okay, this isn't exactly a trial, but I've got beaucoup wrist warmers and scarves to get done between now and Christmas.

Here's the lace knitting: I love this green color and it photographed really true, which I can't say for all my photos. The pattern is a leaf repeat and this is a closeup.
If you squint really hard you can see the first leaves emerging. Apparently when you block it out, it isn't so "puffy" and the pattern is more clear. I've just got a lot of fussy knitting to do over the next two weeks because I want to complete this between now and Thanksgiving.

Then there are the wrist warmers that I need to finish. I finally found skeins to go with the single skeins to make the Knitty.com Fetching wrist warmers. (long story, see Outta Yarn post below). When I do the next pairs, I am going to make them longer--so they go up to the knuckles, and maybe add a little length in the wrists as well. Why not, I've got the extra yarn now.

At the lace class, the teacher was saying that she likes to knit "sock." That she never gets around to doing the second one of the pair because something else catches her eye. I had to laugh, because while I finished sock 1 of the Fuzzy Feet, I haven't gotten the other one on the needles. Amazing that this great big sock will turn into a size 9 slipper. I'll feel like Cinderella with one sock. But I can't see that I won't get it done before Christmas. Well, my feet will appreciate it in January. Speaking of January, I have a feeling the vest will also have to be shelved until then as well.

So what is everyone else knitting that is keeping them from their appointed holiday projects??

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bouncing Around

I've been dancing between projects this week, unable to settle down and get something done or at least well established. I cast on the Leftovers Vest, but then promptly ran out of the yarn that I thought I had enough of to do all the ribbing. Apparently not. Found some more of that color at my LYS, but when I got there on this miserable, rainy, blustery day, I had forgotten my wallet, and had only my checkbook. Which of course, they wouldn't take my check. Now they have quite freely taken my money for the last 14 years, but they have a new policy of not taking checks--not even from a loyal and desperate customer. I was a little dismayed. But as I was driving home--yarn less--I remembered that inside my wallet was a punch card from said yarn shop worth $15, so I took a deep breath, drove back there and got my yarn. For free. Which took some of the sting out the earlier shabby treatment. And better yet, I didn't feel like I was really buying more yarn, since it was free. I suppose that is dancing around the "don't buy more yarn issue" but I was 1 skein short to get rid of about 7 other skeins, so there it is.

And since the card was worth $15, and Cascade 220 runs seven bucks a skein, I got a second one because I had seen the cutest kid's penguin hat I wanted to knit. So I grabbed up the gold to make the penguin--really it would have been a waste not to spend the other seven bucks and besides the "no checks" issue was still griping me.

So onto the needles went the penguin hat. Except not for the kids, but for me. Do you ever have days where you need a penguin hat? This week was one of them. And last night, with the beginning discs to the Battlestar Gallactica series, I got my knitting jones into a full groove. Nothing like a 3 hour miniseries to get a lot of rows done. Now I can say I finished something, worked through some more yarn, and best of all, I can plop it on my head as I take the kid's to school, mortify them badly enough so they'll write a memoir about me, and then walk my mile or so around the local track, displaying my whimsical hat with pride.

Yesterday the yarn finally arrived for my Christmas knitting. I am trying to knit as many things as I can from the stash, but I wanted to do the Lace Scarves I saw in the new issue of knitsimple, so I ordered some Lion Cashmere Blend from Joanne.com. Yes, I know--that also violates the "no buy" rule, but this is for Christmas. See me really dancing now.

Here are the four skeins of "Black" they sent me. Ahem. Yes, I know, three of things aren't like the other. Three of these skeins are Charcoal not Black.
I had two questions: Who packs these boxes that they didn't notice the difference? And two: Did they think I wouldn't notice? However, I have to say, the woman on the 800 line at Joanne's was enourmously helpful and completely sympathetic. She sent me a pre-paid return label via email and reordered the black skeins so I wouldn't have to wait too long for them. I was impressed. And going from the snotty treatment at the yarn shop to getting such pleasant service from a big corporate giant, I know I won't hesitate to order from Joanne.com again.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Leftovers for the Leftover Vest

Last night wasn't the big knitting bust that I thought it would be--actually I got another project lined up. I had said before I wanted to knit a vest and yesterday I went in search of the perfect vest pattern, which no surprise here, I found on Knitty.com.

This Leftovers vest is exactly what I wanted--a fun vest to wear over my usual long-sleeve t-shirt (think typical mom uniform) that would hip it up a bit. And be warm. Okay, mostly warm. So last night, with pattern in hand,
I went stash busting, diving straight for my big bag o'wool. Cascade 220 to be exact. Lots of leftovers from hats and felting projects and here is what I threw together between tossing candy at little goblins.

Once I had the yarn, I took snips and arranged and rearranged them until I found a combo I liked, and then I swatched it. I don't think I'll use as much of the white--actually, I'm leaning toward eliminating the white altogether. The other thing I discovered while swatching is that my gauge is off by 2 stitches per 4 inches. I hate swatching because then my gauge is always off. Then I'll start knitting and it will come out differently. Of course this is going to be knit both in the round and back and forth, so the gauge will be a little different between the bottom half and the top half, so there it is. I'll bump the pattern up to the next size and should come in just fine.