Monday, January 31, 2011

One Down...(And It's Not Even February Yet)

Yesterday I pulled out the "closest to done" of all of my projects, and blocked my Eala shawl (Ravelry link).

Tonight I unpinned the little darling,and made sure the ends were all tidy.

Pattern: Eala by Goddess Knits
Needles: Knitpicks Options, Size 5
Yarn: Knitpicks Palette, Fawn

We are pleased.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sweet Merciful Bob in Knitpicks

So, I've counted my UFOs, in preparation for February is For Finishing.

People, I need some sort of intervention.

Please excuse the crappy picture, there's no light in my room.

I am starting this process with 25 UFOs to my name. TWENTY. FIVE. Many of these have appeared in previous years' lists, and some of them were on the FIRST list, back in 2005. Which is ridiculous. Something needs to be done.

(I swear I do finish things. Honest.)

So, on to the actual list.
  1. Halloween/Samhain Mystery Shawl
  2. Red Heart Afghan, started in the early 00's
  3. Ab-Fab Afghan
  4. Winter Marigold (current sock club sock)
  5. Dr. Who Scarf
  6. Arabella
  7. Blue Triangle Headscarf
  8. Flamin' Fingerless gloves
  9. Wee Toe of a Sock
  10. Socks that Wanted to Be Mittens Instead
  11. Water Shawl
  12. "Blue" Kerry Shawl/Blanket
  13. Mandala Shawl
  14. Mystery Swan Lake Stole
  15. Soleil
  16. Cheeto Socks (Gentleman's Fancy by Nancy Bush)
  17. Clapotis
  18. Amelia Cardigan
  19. BSJ (Baby Surprise Jacket, not Bloody Stupid Johnson)
  20. Pink and Grey Stripedy Socks
  21. Sooper Sekrit Surprise Projeck
  22. Checkerboard Twist Socks
  23. Eala
  24. Watergarden Cardigan
  25. Awkward Red Thing
Many of these projects are not long for this world. At least two are very nearly done (Eala just needs blocking, and the Blue Headscarf just needs a tie and binding off). I'm past the heel on my second Sock Club sock (go me!)... so it won't be quite as bad as TWENTY. FIVE. by the time February actually starts. I actually frogged two shawls this morning, because I knew that I didn't want to finish them.

So, once things are Frogged and Flung, the list is a little more manageable.
  1. Ab-Fab Afghan
  2. Winter Marigold (current sock club sock)
  3. Dr. Who Scarf
  4. Arabella
  5. Blue Triangle Headscarf
  6. Flamin' Fingerless gloves
  7. Wee Toe of a Sock
  8. Socks that Wanted to Be Mittens Instead
  9. "Blue" Kerry Shawl/Blanket
  10. Cheeto Socks (Gentleman's Fancy by Nancy Bush)
  11. Clapotis
  12. Amelia Cardigan
  13. BSJ (Baby Surprise Jacket, not Bloody Stupid Johnson)
  14. Pink and Grey Stripedy Socks
  15. Sooper Sekrit Surprise Projeck
  16. Checkerboard Twist Socks
  17. Eala
  18. Watergarden Cardigan
The Bloody Stupid Johnson Baby Surprise Jacket may yet get ripped, and so might the "Blue" Kerry Shawl.

Good gravy, that is still a lot of stuff. Now I just need a strategy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A naye yor, a naye leben*

Sunday is International Clean Your Bedroom Day (if by "International" you mean "my house"...and I do), and yesterday the project du jour, once the laundry was taken out and the toilet swishied, was to clean out from under the bed.

No wait. You don't understand.

We have a custom built bed (if by "custom" you mean "your husband built that himself, didn't he?"...and I do)**, and there is right about 18" of clearance under our bed. My husband and I are both quite tall, and therefore so is our bed. This is made of logic. In any case, 18" deep by Queen Size wide and long = a hell of a lot of space to keep a hell of a lot of junk, and a hell of a lot of dust.

Man, was that an adventure.

So anyway, we threw out or made the decision to donate (as appropriate) a bunch of stuff we'd long since forgotten that we own, and we vacuumed out 3 metric effing-tons of dust (approx. by weight). My Harry Potter legos, I am pleased to report, are now put away upstairs, where I could conceivably play with them; AND I went through my "second string" (hahahah) yarn stash.

As mentioned earlier, I really started knitting ca. 2004-5. And, as many have done before me, I went through an acrylic stage (much like a larval stage, only with more petroleum by-products.) As my taste in yarn, let's say "matured," all the acrylic got shoved under the bed, in three banker's boxes and a big plastic tub, as the "good stuff" (read: natural fibers) took pride of place on my yarn shelf.

People, I was ruthless.

I mean, I found one unfortunate yarn that clearly wanted to be Lion Brand Homespun when it grew up... only it wasn't nearly so classy, if you are picking up what I am putting down. And sweet baby Buddha on a cashmere rug, it looked like a moldy peanut butter and jelly sandwich had been extruded (not spun) into yarn.

It was too terrible to even take a picture of. I care about my readers, and do not want to put them off their collective lunches.

Once the dust settled, and I do mean that quite literally, I am left with just the plastic tub, and that only about two-thirds full. The rest is going to a local thrift store, and may the gods bless whoever ends up with it. Everything I kept I could conceivably imagine myself knitting someday, and really that's all I ask of my stash.

Having gotten rid of so much yarn yesterday (and I don't mind telling you, even though it was all acrylic, and mostly awful, it was a bit wrenching), I received a sort of karmic reward in the mail today.

Aw, yeah.

Okay, I grant you that I actually am the one that ordered that box from Knitpicks, but even so the timing was pretty darned sweet.

What did I buy? I hear you asking. Well, I will tell you. I got a box of joy.

(Or more specifically, the new Chroma, in both weights, and some pretty charcoal grey Andean Treasure to make myself a scarf to match my new red coat. Not all of the Chroma is mine, alas. But I may have squeezed it a bit, you know, just to check and see if it is ripe.)

* A Yiddish phrase meaning "New year, new life."
** I actually adore the bed my husband made for me, both despite and because of it's... unique qualities.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One is the Loneliest Number

I finished up the first of my Winter Marigolds (I keep changing what I'm calling them) two nights ago, and then very cleverly cast on the next one last night.

The toe on the second sock went together better and easier than the first one did, so I'll call that progress. Let it be known, however, that it still looks of ass, and I'm hardly convinced. Further forays into the world of the toe-up sock will utilize different toe conception techniques, cuz this shit's for the birds.

I took the sock outside to get some pictures...

Oh, you didn't just want to see the cat? Here's the sock then...

Monday, January 17, 2011

February is For Finishing, 6th Annual Finish-a-pa-looza

I started really knitting back in 2004-2005. That's also when, the observant amongst you will note, that I began blogging. So anyway, by 2006 I had racked up a gracious plenty of UFOs. I decided that drastic piles of yarn required drastic action and cooked up "February is for Finishing." I've been trying to con others into doing it with me ever since.

As a side note, I did learn after some Googling that others have hoisted the February is for Finishing Flag. I suspect, human nature and alliteration being what they are, that the idea for FISF arose, full-formed like Athena, into the minds, blogs and knitting needles of folks all across the country. Which is to say, I thought it was an original idea when I thought of it, and I bet they did to. S'alright, the point is that more UFOs are getting FO-ed this way.

All of which is merely prologue to this:

6th Annual February is For Finishing-Palooza

The Rules:
  • List, list, oh list. By February 1st, have an accurate and complete list of ALL of your UFOs. Yes, even that one that you stuffed behind the couch in shame and despair last August.
  • Take Inventory. Now that you have your list, decide which of these projects actually bless you. Did you not finish this UFO because you were led astray by that fancy new sock yarn? Or have you not finished it because its uglier than a really ugly thing, and will not fit man nor beast?
  • Make Decisions. Finish, Frog or Fling. In my little world, UFOs can be sorted into 3 categories. Finish — I totally still want to make this. Frog — in the immortal words of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, "I like yarn better than I like bad hats." And, Fling — Wow. This is so bad that not even the yarn is worth saving. I'll say a passing prayer for the Acryls who gave their lives to make this fugly yarn, and move on with my life.
  • Prioritize. At this point, you have to decide what your end goal is. Are you in this to finish as many items as possible? Or is there one specific UFO that you'd like to push through and finish? Some folks like to have a plan "I'll knit the last sleeve of Auntie Mabel's sweater, and then I'll finish up that scarf I've been knitting since the Carter administration." Others prefer a more holistic approach and simply knit what suits their mood and fancy at the time. Do as best pleases you.
  • Be Strong. Do not, and this is very important, DO NOT cast on anything new during February. We're finishing here, people, not starting. The object of the game is to clear the slate so we can cast on a whole slew of new UFOs in March and April.
  • Take a Button.
As an avid, yet inconstant sock knitter, I also have an optional rule.
  • March is For Making Mates. If you have the first of a pair of socks on the needles, finish 'em up in February, and then set them aside. February is for what's already on the needles. Then in March, make the second sock for all of those first socks (or gloves, or mittens, or whatever) that you finished up in February. Clever, eh?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Knit Like You Mean It

I made some wicked progress on my Marigold for January socks. And then I hit the heel. (Cue ominous music here.) My first go at the short row heel ended with me ripping back after I'd done the first half of the wraps. I was sent to do the second half (wherein you pick the wraps back up) and I buggered it. So I pulled back and started again. Finished the heel, and then started doing the calf.

Funky afghan added for contrast.

Here is the part that makes me cry. I knew that it was likely to be a bit small for me (I usually need a 72 stitch sock, and these are 64), but I was planning to make them for Number Two Daughter. I got her to "model them" for me (read "try them on") this afternoon, under the premise of helping me get blog pictures. The (@&&!^% things are too shallow through the instep for her. So back I've ripped again, and this time I'm saying Eff the pattern sideways and through the wall, I'm trying a different heel. Yes, I'm here to learn new techniques, and one of those techniques is how to flee like a rat from a sinking ship when a pattern decides to turn on me.

I'm trying Wendy Johnson's reverse-engineered gusset heel next, as it is meant to add more ease through the instep. Wish me luck. The picture above is pre-ripping. There is considerably less sock now... I didn't have the heart to take another picture.

Oh! I did finish a thing though! Socks that I'd finished all save the last wee bit of kitchener stitch, are now officially done, off the needles, and ends woven in. We will not speak of how long they sat in that sad and abandoned state.

A Word To My Commenters:

First, let me say Hello and Welcome! I was thrilled to see comments from someone that I don't know in what passes for my "real" life, so let me say thank you for reading, and I hope you keep commenting!

One thing that LiveJournal does that beats Blogger hands down is how it manages comments. In LJ it is really easy to respond to a comment and to keep a conversation threaded. Here... not so much. But here's my plan — and I imagine that this is what most bloggers do anyway. If you comment in one of my posts, I'll do my best to respond back in the same post. The only way you'll know, of course, is if you go back and check (or clicky the little box when you comment that will prompt Blogger to email you.) So anyway, if you ask me a question in the comments, that's where to look for an answer.

Come on in, pull up a chair, and have some coffee. It's nice to meet you.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Begin as You Mean to Go On

I got my daughter to help me select my sock kit for January-February yesterday afternoon. This was accomplished by me holding out the box and saying "Just grab one!" while she eyed both it and me suspiciously.

Once I'd dashed her hopes and informed her that no, the socks would most likely not be for her, the deed was done, and my course laid.

I'll be making Marigold (Ravelry link) out of a lovely couple of skeins of Jojoland Melody wool, in the descriptive (and intuitively lovely sounding) colorway of "MS08."

Part of what I'm after with this experiment (other than to justify the purchase of more sock yarn, of course) is to broaden my proverbial horizons and to utilize techniques that I'm usually just too darned lazy to bother with. I have a basic, cuff-down, vanilla sock recipe that lives in my head and that I can knit in my sleep. That way lies boredom and sock-driven ennui. Hence the kits and the patterns.

My very first sock out I'm doing a short-row toe-up sock pattern, and I'm suddenly reminded of why I always knit my socks the other direction. I suck at toe-up short-row socks. They look of un-mitigated ass. And they are a pain in my tuchus. And I'm not good at them (this bothers me to no end. The cure, one hopes, is practice.)

I soldiered on and am now a repeat-and-a-half into the lace pattern. All is well.