Sunday, November 23, 2008

But is it Enough??!!

That's always the dilemma I face as I prepare to go away. How do I know if I have enough knitting with me, because horrors of all horrors, what if I run out???

Now me running out of knitting is about as likely to happen as it is the kids will remain in good spirits the entire car ride and not ask once "are we there yet?" But still I fret about this more than I probably should. Once I get a trip on the calendar, I immediately start to consider what project(s) will be coming along. I also have to balance how much room I have for extras. Oh, heck, who am I kidding? There is always room for my knitting,

right alongside the book or two I always tuck into my packing. Skip the emergency kit as long as I have a good book (or three) and a great project (or five), I'm good. Though here I am with some great knitting and a Georgette Heyer I've never read (Faro's Daughter)--this could present some problems. I'll have to learn to read and knit at the same time.

But back to that "what should I take with me" question. I do give this lots of consideration. I know better than to try and haul a sweater along, but then I get antsy that I will burn through a bunch of small projects and be stranded. As if. I never go anywhere without bringing along a Mapquest printout to the nearest LYS. I suppose that does confirm it, I am completely neurotic.

But there it is. Five days away from my stash. I had to be prepared. Sort of like mapping out the Thanksgiving cooking schedule. Over the last few weeks, I've been tucking the yarn and patterns into my travel bag, and today I went through and double-checked it all, reading over my patterns to make sure I also have all the necessary needles and tools. I went with a theme--Christmas knitting. Sort of my own Christmas knitting boot camp. Such as Jared Flood's Turn A Square Hat

for the oldest hero and the DH. I hope there is also enough of this wonderful Cascade 220 for mittens for Nick. Should be. I swear sometimes it is nearly impossible to get to the end of a skein of 220, but I'll give it my best shot.

I've also got the Clapotis for my mom, more mittens for Matthew (who is gradually learning to wear them), Christmas dishcloths (truly emergency knitting) and my current socks, 'cause it would just be wrong to leave the house without them.

Now I just have to keep my fingers this will be enough. (Of course it is, but I can't help but worry.)

So what would you pack if you had five days to do nothing but sit around, eat, read and knit?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ah, Good Intentions

You see, I had all these good intentions to knit from the Bucket List and stick with it. And for the most part I sort of have been. Wow, is that a terrible oxy moron. But with it being November, I always intended to knit a new sweater this month. I love a new winter sweater--something warm and cozy that I can toss on when my office gets cold.

So I started the Vine Lace Cardigan with yarn from the stash (see all the good intentions there: knit from the stash, knit from the list, keep your eyes on completing things.) In the midst of all these good intentions, I actually made some great progress on it--getting the yoke done, the sleeves knit and making the join up.

Then I went to the Holiday sale at my son's school and discovered that one of the other mothers dyes yarns. Sarah Brown Design. Which is sort of ironic, because I have a character in my books by the same name. I couldn't figure out if it was Fate tempting me or taunting me. Gads, why not just put a plate of fudge in front of my keyboard.

So I fell off the wagon and bought two skeins (one in this colorway and another in a great boyish mix called "Ultra Hulk." Then my cold feet overtook my desire for a new sweater and I immediately cast on a pair with this lovely colorway, Honeysuckle. I knew I wanted a fast pair of simple toe-up socks. Besides, I can't look at this color way and not feel happy.

So taking hints from Tiennie of Tiennie Knits and Big Sister Nicole over at Stash & Burn, I knit the first sock up to the heel, and then cast on the second one and am in the process of getting it up to the heel. Hopefully by knitting them in tandem, I will avoid the dreaded second sock syndrome.

I also used Judi Becker's Magic Cast-on, as demonstrated by Cat Bordhi. I LOVE learning new cast-ons, and this one is a dream and so very easy. And Cat is a hoot to listen to. I took a class from her years ago, and got into her all day class at Madrona this coming February. So I am just whetting my appetite with a little pre-Madrona sock love.

But now the sweater is calling to me again, and I so wanted to get it finished by the end of the month. With only a week to go, plus Thanksgiving in there, I seriously doubt that is going to happen, but I am going to put in a good effort this weekend and see how far down the body I can go.

My feet will still be cold, but they have some very happy socks coming. I promise.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

FO Mitts

Since I've been digging through my stash of late, I've found various FOs in various states of abandonment. One of those, I couldn't resist finishing this week, if only because the weather keeps getting nippier and nippier, and eventually my Fetchings won't be enough to keep my fingers warm as we walk to school in the morning, hence the very essential need to finish my Axel Mitts.

No one could blame me for setting aside my NaNoSweMo Vine Lace Cardigan for a few days to finish them--I knew I couldn't. I'd been digging through my stash like a rag picker, looking for my Malabrigo (kinda hard to find when you only have two skeins of Malabrigo) because I've become obsessed with the Malabrigo Loafters. I love having something warm and woolly on my feet during the day and these just look like heaven if you stalk the Ravelry page like I do. So one morning, I couldn't stand it any longer (okay, my feet were cold) and a stash diving I went.

And found the Malabrigo under one finished Axel Mitt and the rest of the skein connected to one half knit mitt. I was all gung ho to frog them both until I slid my hand into the finished one. Ooooh. Way to warm and cozy. No January wind off the Sound is going through those babies. So I decided to finish the second one--and discovered why I stopped--the stitch count was all wonky.

Note to self: when you set aside a knitting project in disgust, pin a little note to it for later. Something like: BooBoo-Head, you messed up the stitch count. Or maybe, Don't even try, for the love of God, just frog this *&(%$ thing.

So I frogged the second one and recast on and in about two nights had a second finished mitt. Now here's the thing--why didn't I do that last February when I originally cast these on? I can't remember why, and I suppose it doesn't matter now.

Oh, BTW, these would make a great, quick Christmas present for just about anyone--well unless they live in, say, Phoenix. Add a purl stitch to either side of the front pattern, and then an extra stitch or two in the palm and they would easily fit a man's hand.

What have you got unfinished that is nagging at you? Or better yet, have you found something recently that you thought you should finish?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Third Times The Charm

This is my 3rd round with knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket, which can be found in her book, The Opinionated Knitter or in a download from Ravelry.

The first time I knit this, I didn't quite believe it would work.
"You knit it flat??" Imagine me turning a skank eye on the pattern in utter disbelief. And sadly, yes, I do talk to myself like this.
"And then do some origami and it turns into a sweater?" Shake head.
"Okey Dokey." Get the yarn and needles out.

You cast in a sort of blind faith that is will all work and just follow the directions exactly as they are written. Until all of a sudden you can start folding it and you get a tantalizing peek as to how it works.

Then you can't knit fast enough and suddenly it is time to do the bind off. This time I did an i-cord finish, which I'd never done before and I'm convinced now is the best way to finish this jacket--leaving the edges smooth and, well, finished.

Then came a trip to the store for buttons. I wanted ones that would pick up the bits of purple in the color and just pop off the jacket and say, "Hey, you might not be able to tell just yet, but I am a boy." And happily I found exactly what I wanted.

And ta-da you have a beautiful, washable, (thanks STR!) made-with-love baby present.

Needles: Knitpicks Options Size 4
Yarn: Socks that Rock, Medium weight
Color: Algea
Buttons: The racks at JoAnne's
Knit For: Jamie's Baby

Have you ever knit one of these? What yarn did you use?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I "Heart" Fall

I had planned on starting a Liesl for NaKniSweMo, or perhaps a Cropped Cabled Sweater that I found in a Classic Elite booklet, but as the weather took a decided dip into the realm of chilly, I reordered the List and decided to use the Rowan RYC Soft Tweed I had in my stash for a Vine Lace Top Down Cardigan by the Sweater Babe.

Why this pattern?

1) Topdown. Need I say more?
2) Doesn't it look like the perfect December-March sweater?
3) This yarn is about as soft as they get.

Soft, quick, warm. Oh, yeah, the perfect NaKniSweMo project.

I started swatching yesterday, couldn't get anywhere near gauge, not and get it to look right, so I downsized to a size 10 needle, did some math and cast on until I found the right mix for this ultra soft, very loosely spun yarn. I have no idea how the lace pattern will look, but I did spot another sweater done in this yarn on Ravelry, and it looked just great.

That's the real blessing of Ravelry--you can do some serious investigation into a project before you find yourself mired into a mess. Use everyone else's missteps and knitting expertise to save you from finding yourself in the same swamp. That, and it's a great way to really blow an hour or so of "research surfing."

BTW, the Baby Surprise is done and I will give a full report in my next post. Just got to find the right buttons. Happy Fall Knitting to all and to all a good stitch!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Rainy Sunday

I woke up this morning to this big dark cloud coming across Puget Sound and the rain pounding down on the roof. There was the drip of the eaves as they overflowed, and all I could think about was that it was a perfect day. For staying inside and knitting.

The husband had already announced his plans to go into work for part of the day and the kids and I bid him goodbye and settled in for a very lazy morning. Emphasis on lazy.

Besides, I had a project sitting on the coffee table just waiting for me. I'm knitting my third Baby Surprise Jacket and each time I make one, I continue to marvel at the sheer, unbelievable brilliance of Elizabeth Zimmerman. The first time I knit a BSJ, it took forever, because I didn't quite trust such simple instructions, but now, with my third one, I just happily knit along, and following the directions in the contented knowledge that my odd collections of garter stitch rows, with their decreases and increases, will all of sudden go from this:

To something (with a little magic origami) that starts to look like a baby sweater:

I think I spend more time fiddling with it and admiring it than I do settling in and knitting it. LOL. What happy knitting and a perfect way to spend a rainy Sunday morning.