Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime

The clock is ticking down and I'm knitting like a fiend. I finished these to stick in my mom's stockings:

Leafprints mitts in Great Northern Yarns Cashmere/Mink DK. I have to say I wasn't impressed with this yarn in the ball, but the fabric it creates is soft and silky. I'm not sure I'll buy it again, though - even though the minks are supposedly not harmed in the gathering of the fur for the yarn, it just gives me the heeby jeebies a bit. We'll see. On the up side, I may have enough yarn left to make some for myself.

I'm still working on these for my brother:

I've actually gotten quite a bit farther than shown on the second glove - I'm almost ready to put the thumb stitches on holders. I hope I can finish these tomorrow, but it will depend on how many family activities I have to participate in. I know of at least one shopping trip I have to be part of because I need some things.

I made my brother a pair of very simple ribbed mitts a couple of years ago, no fingers, just a hole for the thumb, the really easy ones that take one skein of yarn and an evening to make from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. He was pretty unimpressed, all I got was a mumbled ‘thanks’ and I kind of put the endeavor down as a failure. But, I found one of the mitts on the washer a month or so ago (he lives in my basement) and I thought, well, if he is washing them, maybe he is wearing them, and maybe it would be worth making him a pair of fingerless gloves. I've made these for a couple other people who really like them, so I'm hopeful. if I get the same ‘you are weird and I don’t get why you do this’ face I got last time, I will know I really am a sucker. I got enough yarn to make him a hat, too, but I don't know if it'll be done by Christmas. It might be tight on the gloves as it is.

I brought a ton of WIPs with me on this trip, but because I've been working on the two projects above I haven't gotten very far. I'm past the halfway point on my Bluebird shawl and I've done a fair amount of work on the Esplanade hat I have on the needles. I really want to finish these two and my Phoenix shawl by the time I get home. That might be a bit of a stretch but I'm going to try. I discovered last year that vacation is a great time to power through projects that would otherwise seem to stretch on forever, since I have more time to sit and work on things. I can power through pieces with a million repeats (Bluebird) or really long rows (Phoenix) because I have more long, dedicated blocks of time. But, we've been moving around so much up till now that it really hasn't been feasible anyway. Thanks to plane delays and all the stuff leading up to the trip, I was really exhausted when we got here, and today is the first day I really felt remotely like myself again. I'm hoping things will be looking up now that there's no more traveling to do until it's time to come home.

Merry Christmas and thank you to all my readers. May your holidays be warm, cozy, and drama-free.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Knitting and Not Knitting

Well, the first Christmas hurdle is jumped. This weekend was pretty thoroughly chaotic. There was knitting, and there was...not knitting. I sing in my church choir, and we had rehearsal and then the performance of our Christmas concert. That was Big Item No. 1 on my Christmas worry list, so at least I can cross that one off now.

Also in the not knitting category:

I do not come from a baking family, but I have been adopted into one, and every year the SO's family has a giant Christmas cookie bake. I don't really participate in the baking but I'm sure my assistance in cookie selection and quality control are still very much appreciated.

While supervising said baking I finished the socks I was working on for my coworker and put a little more length on the white snowflake scarf (OF DOOM). It probably could still stand to be a little longer, but I'm tired of it, so I went ahead and knit the second snowflake panel to finish it off last night.

I used a stretchy lace bind off and I'm not sure it was the right choice. I just can't seem to reach a happy medium with bind offs. They're either too loose and messy looking or too tight. This one is a bit loose (you can't tell in the picture because I artistically tucked the corners in so it doesn't show) but the scarf does need to be blocked a little wider than it currently is, so I'm hoping that'll take away some of the loose edging. I really just can't win with scarves, the bind off end and the cast on end just don't ever match for me.

I also finished the last of the gifts I have not disclosed here - or so I thought. Then I realized that I was going to have a ton of yarn leftover and (somewhat reluctantly) started another piece. I don't think I'm going to worry too much about getting this one done by Christmas, though. It's a bonus, so the recipient will get it when the recipient gets it.

This will leave me with only 'optional' Christmas knitting left - little extras I had planned for some of my less knit-appreciative family. Oh, and the weaving in of ends. Looooots of ends to weave in. I didn't do it as I went along, and well. Looooots of ends to weave in. Boo.

We got our first snow for the year yesterday morning:

Not very impressive, but enough to make me smile. More is supposedly coming this week, but I'm very concerned about it because I have a plane to catch this weekend. Last year we flew out right after the big blizzard and we were delayed in the airport for hours thanks to all the previous flights that had been cancelled. Hope we won't get stuck again this year! Also, I think my two coworkers that have done most of the work for the Christmas party planning may leap off a building if the party gets cancelled due to snow for the second year in a row.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Already Overbooked

Whenever I don't have time to knit, or if I'm stuck knitting something really plain, I do a lot of looking at knitting and daydreaming about knitting, and I've come to the realization that 2011 is going to be kind of packed on the knitting front. I have SO many things I want to knit! This is not unusual, I always have a ton of things I want to knit. I actually don't use my ravelry queue very much because my queue is so fluid - some projects I knit right away, some are on my list for ages before I get to them. I generally use my 'favorites' button to keep track of patterns I'm interested in so I can revisit them later.

But, this year things are a little different. I've become a little more active in the social aspect of Ravelry, and I've now got a list of projects with corresponding knitalongs that give me a little bit more of a timeline. With that in mind...holy cow my time is filling up fast!!

So here's a list of things I'm looking at knitting so far in 2011

1., 2., and 3. - Romi's Seven Small Shawls
Knitting through these ebook patterns with the Romi group on Ravelry has been a ton of fun, and I plan to knit along right through to the end. All three designs should be finished by the new year, but they won't be through test knitting and ready for release until January at least. I don't know Romi's exact plans but I expect (and hope) she will give us some time between releases. We run knitalongs on the Romi group for each Romi project and I think if she released all three of them at once the rest of the mods and I might go a little crazy.

5. and 6. Romi's Pins and Lace Club

Romi's Pins and Lace patterns ship in January and April (perfect for my birthday!!), and I haven't even finished the pattern from October of this year!! I feel behind already. Sevillano is gorgeous, though, and is number one on my to-knit list when I get back from Christmas. If I'm lucky I'll be able to bust a move and get it mostly finished before the new one ships. Totally doable, right? Right?? (really this should probably be 5, 6, 7, and 8, but I can't remember when the other two installments ship, and thinking about it is overwhelming me a we'll just not worry about those other two for the time being, hmm??)

7. The Light and Dark Lace Club by The Yarnarian and Zen Yarn Garden

Y'all, I love mystery knits. Don't ask me why. On the surface, it's completely crazy. Why would I spend good knitting time working on a product that I may not even like in the end?? Yet the surprise is so much fun. I love it. And the trick, I've found, is to pick mystery knitalongs from designers whose work you like in the past.

Now, having said that, I have never actually knit any patterns from this designer and I'm not that familiar with her work. But I AM familiar with Roxanne of Zen Yarn Garden's fabulous yarns, and I couldn't resist this idea. I stay away from clubs in general because there's too much commitment involved, but this bi-monthly club is pay as you go, if you want to - you don't have to purchase every club package and you don't have to pay for multiple months up front. And $26 strikes me as a very reasonable price for a fun surprise showing up in my mailbox in February, one of the dreariest of months. The yarn will be mailed in February and the pattern will come in installments after that. This was a little Christmas present to myself. I picked the pussywillow colorway.

8. Galadriel's Mirror from Sunflower Designs (from the designer of Evenstar)

Remember what I said about finding a designer whose work speaks to you? Susan's work speaks to me, and I LOVE this pattern. But, I have to find the right yarn for it. It uses a fingering weight, and I have plenty of fingering weight yarn, but none in sufficient quantities for this piece and none in a color that I find sufficient. Based on the book's description of the mirror, , I'm thinking I would like a silver yarn with a hint of blueand I'm thinking a silk blend would be great for a little added shimmer. OH. What about Hand Maiden Silk Twist?? Ooooooooh. I must think on this. Maybe in Silver or Stardust. I'll have to come back to this idea. Knitty-Noddy has it in Salt Spray, that would be pretty awesome too...They only have two, though, I would need three. Anyway, no knitalong for this one, so I don't have to worry about keeping up with anybody - meaning this one will probably get knit later in the year, towards the summer or fall.

9. Two Towers Mystery Knitalong - In Dreams from Sunflower Designs

Evenstar was the mystery knitalong for the Fellowship of the Ring, and Susan has just announced Galadriel's Crown, the mystery knitalong for the Two Towers Collection. I'm not sure I'm going to buy the whole collection this time around, but I definitely plan to participate in the mystery knitalong again. This one will be designed for Unique Sheep Gradiance colorways, which I've wanted to try, so that will be exciting. Unique Sheep has several LOtR themed colorways, too, so I might have to try one of those - but we'll see what speaks to me. I have very specific color associations with various locations and characters in LOtR (also they have neither a Lothlorien or a Galadriel colorway at this time, so I figure I have free reign). I'm kind of thinking maybe Lemon Drop - I associate golds much more strongly with Galadriel and Lothlorien than greens. But, I'm not sure I would wear yellow all that much, either. Maybe Moonlight in the Garden? Decisions decisions. I'll have to do some Ravelry searches and see how these colorways knit up, I think.

10. Limestone One Skein Triangle Shawl

I have a skein of fingering weight cashmere just waiting to become this shawl. Again, no scheduled knitalong for this one, so it'll be a floating project. I do kind of like to have one fingering weight shawl on the needles for when I need a break from the really fine lacework, and I think this one will be perfect. Also, cashmere.

11. Bitterroot by Romi

I've loved this design ever since it was released in Knitty, but I haven't made it yet, and I'd really like to.

12. Fiori di Sole by Romi

I was planning to do this over the holidays, but since I've ended up with so many other projects I don't know if I'll have the chance!! I still want to do it, but I'm not sure when it will happen. This is a big shawl and it's perfect vacation knitting but I think it might drive me a little crazy to only work on in small pieces. Clearly, I just need to plan another vacation so I can knit it.

13. Midsummer Night's Dream

This one has been on my to-knit list forever, but I refuse to knit it until I find the perfect yarn, and I haven't yet.

I could add more to this list but I think this is really quite sufficient, don't you?? Designers, I understand you need to make a living and the only way for you to do that is to design as fast as the mills can churn out graph paper, but do you think you could maybe tone it down just a leeeeetle bit so I can keep up???

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Squash and Stretch

Running pretty low on blog fodder this week. All I really have is this:

My snowflake scarf is growing at a snail's pace, or at least that's how it feels lately. When I first started, it seemed like it was growing by leaps and bounds, but no more. I set it down to measure on Saturday before I started working, and I was at 33 inches. I placed a marker on that row so I could see how much progress I'd made. I worked until I had a more then the length of my middle finger (approximately 3 inches) between the marker and the needle and stopped and measured, just to feel good.

33 inches. WHAT.

I fumed, moved my marker, and knit some more, maybe about an inch and a half as measured against my pinky finger (approximately two inches. yes, I have measured my fingers so that I can use them to estimate. don't judge me). Measured again. 38 inches.

It was clear that the scarf was toying with me at that point. I thought about it for a moment, and laid the scarf out on the couch, smoothed lengthwise, and measured it. 38 inches. Then I smoothed it widthwise, and measured it. It shrank considerably in length.

I sighed. The guage on this scarf is very loose (on purpose) and the slightest little puff or tug or even the weight of the scarf as it hangs from the needle changes the length (and, correspondingly, the width). Since I am going to have to block it with some stretch in the width in order to open up the snowflake panels, the scarf simply isn't as long as I think it is. I think I'm going to have to knit it longer than I thought so that it's still an appropriate length when blocked. I could cheat and just let it be short, but the coworker who is to receive this scarf is a 6'2" Amazon, so I can't really skimp too much. I will just have to suck it up and accept that I have to knit more.

I could have made a lot more progress this weekend, but I was pretty lazy overall. From now on it's run run run with family events and preparations for my church concert, so I took it pretty easy this weekend. Plus, frankly...everything I have left to knit is boring. This is appropriate, considering how little time I have left to get everything done, but I find myself putting it down frequently to hop on the internet, or try to find something better on TV, or what have you. What I really need is some self-discipline and a few good movies. Oh, and a Starbucks attached to my house.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Planning is always the fun part

I have become quite the unfaithful knitter, lately. Normally I don't have that many projects of the same type (that distinction is very important) going on at once. I have a variety of different knitting projects - complicated lace, TV knitting, mindless knitting, and I usually have only one project in any given type at a time. But somehow in the last few months I haven't done as well at keeping the startitis at bay.

In a little over two weeks I'll be on my annual pilgrimage to my parents' for Christmas, and I hope to get in quite a lot of knitting. So, I started thinking about what I'm going to take with me, and I went over my projects to decide what goes and what stays.

1. Sevillano
My love for this shawl knows no bounds, but alas, I don't think it can accompany me. No beads to worry about, but 100% silk does not travel well and this shawl really, really needs attention and alertness. Sevillano, my beloved, will have to stay at home.

2. Bluebird
This one's going with me. I'm thinking about taking it for the plane, actually. It's not too big and I'm working the center panel with its billions of repeats. I think I've done 10 repeats out of 30 something. It's not too complicated and I have the chart (sort of) memorized, so I won't get totally lost if I have to stop in the middle of something for boarding or what have you. This plus an audiobook should make my plane flight bearable - assuming TSA doesn't take my needles. I hope they won't, they never have before, but I'm going to make sure I have cable caps with me just in case.

3. Phoenix Rising.
I think I'll definitely take this one along too. At its current stage, it's really too large to work with on the plane, and the center panel is beaded, but it should be fine for working in the car or at my parents house. We're driving to my grandparents' this year so in addition to the plane, there will be quite a bit of car time. I should have enough room in the car for everything I need, and with the help of superfloss I should be able to keep the beads under control, since there are so few of them anyway. The rows are huge on this one and it's a long slog to get through it, so some enforced time with it in the form of a long car trip may be what it takes to get this thing done.

4. Simone
I'm wavering on this one. On the one hand, it's been sitting there a while and I'd love to be able to wear it before summer gets here again. On the other hand, it means taking a lot of yarn with me and I don't want to increase the wear on the sweater before I even get to put it on by carting it around in a suitcase. I think Simone will have to stay.

5. Esplanade Hat
Easy, mindless. Not a lot of work left on this one at all. I think I'll take it with me, I think on the last one it took me about the length of a movie to get from where I am now to the crown decreases, so it might be handy to have around. It's small, too, so it won't be a big deal to take it with me.

6. Follow the Leader Faroese Shawl
Eh...I don't know about this one. I'm not in love with this project. I bought the yarn not long after I first started knitting, and it just doesn't really do anything for me. The yarn itself is fine, but the color is just blah. I don't know what I was thinking. I've actually debated frogging this project and giving the yarn a new home, but it makes good mindless knitting, with only the center panel taking any attention, so I thought I might as well slog through it and get it done. I don't know if it's trip-worthy, though - socks and the Esplanade hat are easier to carry around for mindless stuff. This one will still be here when I get back.

7. Socks
I'll definitely be taking socks with me. I have three pair started (not counting the socks I showed in the last post, which I really hope will be finished BEFORE I leave), which is pretty unusual for me. I have categories of socks as well as with the rest of my knitting, and I often have a patterned sock and a plain sock in progress at the same time, but for me to have more than one set of plain socks going at once is very unusual. Well, two of the pairs are only at the cuff of the first sock, so I suppose I could start a pattern on one and then it won't be so bad. We'll see.

That's a lot of knitting, but here's how crazy - er, I mean, optimistic - I am. I have two projects unstarted that I want to take with me. One is Fiori di Sole, a Romi project that I've been dying to do for ages and was specifically saving for this vacation, and the other is the Limestone One Skein Triangle Shawl. I was given a skein of ZYG fingering weight cashmere as a gift some time ago that I think would be perfect for the Limestone shawl.

So much to knit, and so little time! Maybe I'm being way overly optimistic, but while I may not get to the new projects I wanted to start, I do hope I'll be able to clear out that WIP queue a bit. I'm almost certain I can finish Bluebird, I'm pretty sure I can finish Phoenix Rising, and I think I can do all that and still finish the hat.