Monday, January 25, 2010

Nupp Time

Nupp, nuppy nupp, nupy nup, nuppy nuppy nuppy nupp

Am I the only one who hears that old Salt 'N Peppa song "Shoop" whenever nupps come up? I am, aren't I. Sigh.

("Nupp, nuppy nupp, nuppy nupp, nuppy nuppy nuppy nupp, Here I go, Here I go, Here I go again, Girls what's my weakness? YARN!")


So this weekend I got to the first row of nupps on the Aeolian shawl and...well. It wasn't pretty. I guess I was overconfident since I had no trouble nupping when I took Nancy Bush's workshop. It did occur to me that doing a 9-stitch nupp in a non-elastic yarn prone to splitting might be a little more difficult than doing 5-stitch nupps in 100% wool, but I didn't take the danger seriously. I thought I made the stitches loosely, I really did. I even went back a couple of times and put my needle back through and tugged just like Nancy said to do. But, I had a terrible time purling back across, and making several attempts at repairs as I knit back across. Some repairs worked out, some didn't. I'm a little frustrated at the sloppyness.

I also cracked open my next tube of beads, and found that the beads I ordered are not exactly the same as the beads I bought at Bead Obsessions. The color is the same (which is what I was really worried about), but these beads are a little bit more of the traditional donut seed bead shape, while the ones I had before were a little bit longer, just enough to look a bit cylindrical. I'm hoping it won't matter, and telling myself that even if it does, it's okay because I'm in a different section of the pattern so it will just add character. Ah, character. Is there a flaw you can't explain away?

I am at the second nupp row, so tonight I will be doing my best to pretend I am a relaxed knitter. I'm not, I'm a very tight knitter, but I will have to try or risk another row of ratty looking nupps.

Spring time is coming and so I picked up Hanami again last night and gathered all my pieces. I'd like to have a new shawl to wear for my Easter performance at church, so I'm hoping I can finish that one in time. The SO bought me some Sundara lace yarn some time ago that I am also thinking would make an absolutely beautiful lace shawl, and because I am stupid, I'm thinking of making the Triangular Summer Shawl from Estonian Lace. Because there is no way that nuups in silk could go wrong, is there? Of course not. I can't help it, though - the colors are just perfect and the shawl is so beautiful. The bit about sewing on the edging gives me pause, however. I am not good with sewing.

Grumpasaurus has been sitting around unloved all weekend. I'll get back to him soon, just...not right now. However, it's become clear to me that I am going to have to make at least two lest he get torn apart in the frenzy. It's good to be appreciated, I guess?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Still Playing Catch-Up

Well, it's all chaos and busyness around the CraftNinja household as usual. I don't know how people with families do it - I'm unmarried with no kids and I can barely keep up with myself and the dog.

I furiously knitted my late Christmas presents this month, finished them, and promptly left them sitting around the house for a week. I really need to get them out to the post office since they are already so severely late!

These are iPhone pics, so I apologize for the quality, but, you know - beats no pictures at all.

Frost Diamonds Shawl

I wanted this to be as wash and wear as possible, so I washed it normally but instead of pinning it out to block, I smoothed it out flat and shaped it. The corners wanted to flop inwards so I did pin those, but did nothing else. The end result looked fine so I'm satisfied. The yarn is Stahl Merino Mix and it's splitty, but it wasn't too much trouble. I got it on sale. It's a merino-microfiber blend, so it's machine washable and I hope it will be a bit durable. I just worry when I knit for non-knitters because I don't want to give them something that either makes a lot of work for them to take care of, or that they won't wear for fear of damaging it.

Anyway, since it was a worsted weight project it went pretty quickly, but I'm just now getting it in the mail today (at least, I hope I am - cross your fingers for me. years of post office lines have given me a natural inclination to avoid the place, even though those little automated machines they have now make mailing packages a LOT simpler.

For one of my other friends, I made a dish towel and some dishrags.

...Yeah, I think I owe her something better after being this late, but what can I do? I put a couple little non-knitted extras in the package for her.
I recently finished the pair of socks I have been working on since the beginning of time, also.

This pattern is the embossed stitch from More Sensational Knitted Socks and the yarn is Sereknity. It's a seacell-wool blend and I have to say...I didn't like knitting it. It felt dry in my hands and it was a little splitty. However, now that the socks have been washed they don't feel nearly so rough or dry, so maybe that's the trick. The colorway is beautiful, though - Black Forest Raspberry, I think.

One of my coworkers accused another coworker of being a grumpasaurus the other day, which I believe led to a discussion about the validity of 'grumpasaurus' as a word, and a google search resulted, which turned up this. I was immediately petitioned to knit one, and being tickled with the idea and pleased to be asked to knit, I started one.

I call this the 'angry pickle' photo. The picture is a little out of date; he now has a tail and one hand, and so looks considerably less pickle-like. I am considering knitting an army.

And, last but not least, I have started another sock, which is proceeding extremely rapidly, in great contrast to the previous pair. However, that tends to happen with me, socks proceed quickly until I get to the heel of the second sock, and then they sit in a bag for ages. But for now, I'm trucking along! This yarn is Fly Designs BFL superwash in colorway Blacklight.

Now, I must go and write some type of grovelling note to put in my packages so that I can get these things mailed off and gone. Wish me persuasive words so that my friends forgive me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year, I Think

I feel like in all the rush and hustle bustle and worrying, that I missed the whole Christmas/New Year season. Not a good feeling - I will have to try to find a way to get back in control next year instead of letting the prep control me. I have always loved Christmas, but the crush of obligations that come along with it as an adult has become kind of crippling. I have a lot of end-of-year responsibilities at work which, when added on to my church obligations and the way December always feels shortened because I travel to my parents', just makes it really hard to relax into the flow. I'm going to have to find a way to fix it.

Part of my brain went into a bizarre kind of denial at the beginning of the month, and I just plain didn't plan Christmas presents for a number of people. Because I'm gone over Christmas, most of my gift-giving for non-family members happens in early January anyway, so I just kind of put it aside. I got stuff for my immediate family and pretty much no one else. So, now I'm in kind of a scramble of catch-up gift giving. At the time it seemed totally reasonable, and now I'm sitting here thinking, holy crap. I'm totally late with presents. Guilt and panic descended and I have ended up with a slightly delayed version of It.

So now I am knitting some late presents as fast as I possibly can. This is incredibly rediculous to me since I could have had all this stuff nearly done if I had just thought about it before hand and knit while I was at my parents', but I didn't, so now I'm behind. And I can't even really say what I'm working on because the two people in particular I am speed-knitting for (who happen to both be named Rebecca) may or may not be reading this blog. I will only say that one set of gifts involved a lot of knitting cotton, leaving my twist hand too sore to reinstate Tuesdays are for Spinning last night. Instead Tuesday was for frantically knitting as fast as I could to try and get at least partway through the first repeat of Chart B. The good news is, that both projects are worsted weight and therefore appear to me to be flying.

One benefit is that I have been forced to halt work on the Aeolian shawl, which has prevented me from going insane while waiting for my beads to arrive. I needed a project to knit while I was gone, and I wanted something fairly attention-heavy, since I expected to have a lot of down time without much else to do while I was gone. I didn't plan very far ahead, so I had to plan on working with stash yarn. I knew I had two cones of Valley Yarns laceweight, one of Colrain lace in grey-green, and one of their alpaca-silk laceweight in eggplant. I looked for a shawl pattern that had different lace sections (I get very bored doing the same pattern over and over) and settled on the Aeolian shawl. I needed beads, though, so I went upstairs and looked through my beads. I found a set of beads that I picked up at Bead Obsessions because they were pretty, without any special project in mind for them. They went great with the purple alpaca-silk so I was set. Since I had plenty of yarn, I figured, might as well go for broke and make the big version (although, I question the wisdom of this decision a little bit, because the 'shoulderette' version looks plenty big to me, but, you know, why not). While I was gone I completed the 12 repeats of the first chart (so much for not wanting to do the same thing over and over) and started the transition chart. By the time I came home, it was very, very obvious that I was going to run out of beads. I called Bead Obsessions, and was told, very nicely, that they usually carry the beads I wanted, but they were out right now, and she gave me the name of another store I could try. I called them, and got the same response and the name of a third store. I called the third store and struck out there as well. I gave up and ordered them online, but I was worried I would go crazy before they arrived. Happily, since I have been working on Christmas projects, the beads have arrived before I needed them.

I took my long-term garter stitch project with me (the 3-scarf ruana from The Knitting Experience Book 1) to see Avatar this past weekend, and very nearly had a yarn crisis just before the movie started, but I got it sorted out just as the last preview played, right before they dimmed the lights. Phew. So I knit all the way through Avatar and put several inches on that project. I had heard a lot of conflicting opinions on Avatar before I went, and oddly, I agreed with all of them. Just as oddly, I didn't really have much else to say about the movie, except that I thought the bad guy was so over the top it was practically comical. Very unusal for me. Normally I am a font of opinions.

Anyway, that's where I am. Everything kind of on hold while I finish up last year's business. I am giving serious thought to ripping out Eris. I'm just not happy with it. I don't think the yarn is right, I don't think the decreases are right - I just don't like it. And I have finally admitted to myself that I really don't like the color. I bought it because it was on closeout and it was the only color they had and I lost my mind. This is a real problem since I bought I think I need to back up and reconsider. This is a frustrating conclusion to come to after having done all the work on the collar, I admit, but it's not bothering me as much as I thought it would.

I LOVE the Vivian sweater posted on the Rainey Sisters' blog. I love love love the way it fits. I am of course not as skinny as the recipient but I still really like the sweater so...I may put some thought towards that.

I don't have a very good handle for what makes a good sweater yarn. I like soft yarns, but I don't want the sweater to pill and look shabby right away, either. I just have a general impression that the best sweater yarns are 'hearty' yarns, and I don't generally do hearty so I will have to put some more thought into this. I am definitely feeling in a sweater-making mood, though, so I will be giving something a shot sooner rather than later.

You know...after the gift knitting is done.

I'm also feeling like I should do something with some of my handspun. I'm thinking a scarf with a commercial yarn as the base in a fairly basic or neutral color (black?) with stripes of different handspun yarns. The colors of my handspun are all really different, though, so I don't know if I will have enough that coordinate to do that. At least, though, I am thinking of getting some black yarn and knitting it with stripes of some purple and white sparkly handspun that I spun from a Butterfly Girl batt some time ago.

I also received a Slice for Christmas, so I want to sit down and play with making some cards with it. I got so excited thinking about all the different shapes I could do. But, as usual, the mess in my craft room is holding me back a bit. I have to clear enough table space to have room to play, first. I don't want to move all the stuff down to my kitchen table again and end up making a huge mess down there that then migrates back upstairs the next time I have company.

I've also gotten my computer upgraded to Windows 7, which means it's no longer slower than my grandmother on IM (love you mamaw), and I have a copy of lightroom and photoshop installed, so I can get my photogrpahy act together. I have a lot of pictures to process, not only from my vacation but also from several church events that have happened already.

With so many possibilities I should feel inspired and invigorated and excited, but most of the time I just feel frustrated and overwhelmed because I can't do everything at once. The years seem so short to me, that it always feels like I didn't get a fraction done that I wanted to. I think I need to really examine what things I do make me happy (like knitting), and what things I just do because I feel like I should (like eating healthy, haha). In short, I feel like my life is too full to enjoy, and I am trying to cram stuff in to make every minute count. It is especially frightening to think that I feel like this now, while I am single and my time is at my own disposal. If I should ever have a family to manage, I might lose my mind!

I have many friends who are "gung-ho" kind of people, who want to plunge in and seize the day and all this other kind of stuff. The enthusiasm is catching and I appreciate those people in my life for the way they broaden my horizons and thinking. However, sometimes I get so caught up in their definition of what it means to live a full and satisfying life, that I become dissatisfied with my own life. However, living life the way they do would never make me happy (in fact, if I lived like most of them, I'd be downright miserable), and so I really need to work on remembering that it is okay to find happiness in my own way, and that no one is judging me but me. I need to slow down, not speed up. I need to do less, not more. I remember once reading a book when I was young, and I can't remember the title of the book, but it was about two children who ran away from home and lived in a museum and tried to prove a particular statue was carved by Michaelangelo. The girl in the story made it a point to learn one new thing every day. Near the end of the book, they met a lady, who said that it wasn't necessarily a good thing to learn something new every day. Sometimes you need to take a day to just let the things you've learned well up inside you, to think about and appreciate them instead of having a bunch of random facts rattling around in your head. That's a bit how I feel. I don't want to just let the days flow by and suddenly I look up and the year's half over, but I don't want to be cramming every minute, either - nor do I want to feel that time spent resting and recharging is wasted. I want to appreciate the things that are close to home and easy to do, as much as the things that are far away and a big adventure.

In short, I want to feel that the only time really wasted is the time I spend worrying and unhappy. So that is my goal for 2010 - don't worry, be happy.