Thursday, December 15, 2011

Finding the Time

I feel like a broken record, coming here week after week to say "I haven't had time to do much, but here's what I have," but sadly it remains true! I'm cramming knitting time in between other things, and there are times when I'm just too tired to knit. But, I leave for my Christmas vacation next week, and there will be plenty of plane and car time for knitting, so I'm hoping I'll catch up some then!

In the meantime, I'm still managing to make progress in small spurts. Exhibit A - my wedding shawl.

I'm into chart C. This shawl is sort of like a diamond with rectangular panels attached to its top two sides. To achieve this, you start out in the round, and then cast off the bottom half of the diamond, put half the remaining stitches on holders, and knit the wings side to side. (I'm sure there's more to it than that, but I haven't gotten that far yet.) The cast off is done with the same crochet loops that Romi has used on some of her previous designs like Fiori. I've ordered some teardrop-shaped pendant crystals. I hope to put them on the little crochet loops - although examinations of the FOs posted to Ravelry at this point seem to suggest I might want to lengthen the chains slightly to accommodate this. I have two concerns with this plan: 1) Will the crochet chains fit through the holes on the crystals? 2) Will I look like I plundered a chandelier? But, there is no way to know except to knit, so the crystals are ordered. If I'm really lucky they'll get here in the next few days. I haven't decided whether I'm taking the shawl with me on my Christmas trip - I have some concerns about it getting dirty or messed up, or that the crystals won't arrive and I'll be stuck. Maybe I'll take the second skein of yarn with me and knit the lace strips I'm hoping to make to go on the bouquet on the trip. We'll see.

It's finally gotten cold here (mostly. the cold is very indecisive.) so I've been trying to finish out the third part of the matched set CodeNinja requested all that time ago.

Fingerless gloves. This pattern is Urban Necessity, which I have knit many, many times. I had the first glove all the way to the fingers when I decided it was too big and ripped the whole thing out to do the next size down. I'm not exactly sorry, since the fit is much, much better now, but - well. If I hadn't had to do that the gloves would be done. As it is, they are not done.

But I'm almost finished with the thumb gusset on the second one, so the end is in sight. Once I make it up to the fingers, the rest is fiddly, but quick. I did make one modification to the pattern this time around, which was to rib the ends of the fingers so that they don't roll back as they have in gloves past. It's a brilliant idea and I feel dumb for not thinking of it four pairs ago.

My office had a potluck and "dirty santa" exchange today, and though CodeNinja kindly took care of the potluck part for me, I failed to plan ahead on the dirty santa thing. So, last night at 11:30 p.m. I was sitting on my bed, frantically threading beads on metallic yarn to make this:

I would have started half an hour sooner but somehow the metallic yarn didn't end up with the rest of the yarn when we unloaded and sorted the craft room, so I was frantically dismantling the carefully sorted piles of stuff in my basement trying to find it. It was a risky move. I'm already tired and overall short on sleep, and to add to that, I stabbed myself rather brutally with the needle I was using to thread the beads while trying to dislodge one bead with a particularly small hole from the eye of the needle. That could have impacted my knitting capability for weeks, but it seems to be doing all right now, and I was able to solider on and complete the ornament shortly before 2 a.m. I'm somewhat consoled for my loss of sleep by the fact that the ornament hit the maximum three swaps in the dirty santa exchange, and, after a hard-fought battle, the winner was my boss.

I'm also slightly tickled by the fact that, out of sheer, blind coincidence, because the only thing I was thinking last night was "which ornament pattern has the fewest beads" and "anything but red, I'm so tired of red," I managed to do the ornament in our company colors. I was totally floored when someone congratulated my company spirit over it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Best I Can

Readers may find this somewhat difficult to believe, but preparing a wedding, preparing for Christmas, preparing for the merging of two households' worth of stuff, showing up at work everyday, and managing all your normal activities, is rather time consuming. I reviewed The List yesterday and emailed CodeNinja the following:

"How is it that we've done all this work and yet I can't find anything to cross off The List?"

He replied, "Clearly The List is flawed."

I let pass his impugning of The List, sighed, and repeated my mantra of late - "Oh well. We're doing the best that we can."

I lost most of this past weekend to the picking of china patterns and the beginning of the wedding registry lists, so I was bound and determined last night to finish off the reorganization of the yarn stash and to get it loaded back into the craft room. I have mostly succeeded:

The yarn stash and the cross stitch stash have now been reviewed, purged, put neatly in bins, and loaded into the craft room closet in the most accessible manner I could manage. Really, I didn't do much with the cross stitch stash, except consolidate it into a single box. It doesn't take up much space and cross stitch will always have a place in my heart as the first craft I ever attempted, so it stays. I did sort a couple fairly large bags out of the yarn stash to donate, mostly of stuff I got very early in my knitting career before I knew what I liked. One of the small bins in that picture is entirely full of leftovers that I can't bear to get rid of for some reason. It's too much yarn to throw away, not enough to donate, and I occasionally have delusions that I'm going to make one of the many 'leftover' blankets out there (yes, I have seen the beekeeper quilt).

Although, this still remains:

This is my pile of WIPS - smaller than when last posted, to be sure, but I don't want to put these back in the closet where I can forget them, so I need to find them a home that is relatively in sight and accessible. Also in that pile, finished cross stitch projects I've never framed, which I would like to steam and have framed so I can hang them up, in the craft room and/or office.

Determined to do some knitting after all that work, and trying desperately not to think about exactly how much Stuff is left in the basement to be sorted (I have far more stuff for scrapbooking than for any other craft), I worked on what I hope will become my wedding shawl, Madroña in JulieSpins Glimmer lace.

You can't really see it in the picture but there's a thread of stellina that makes it sparkle. It's not much to show, but you know - I'm doing the best I can.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wait, what happened?

Well, no suffering from a lack of content here today! I'm not sure what happened - one minute I had no knitting projects, and now I have suffered a minor project explosion.

I needed some Thanksgiving knitting, so I took my nearly complete Melpomene with me. I knew that wasn't enough knitting to get me through the whole day, but in the midst of everything else that was going on I failed to plan ahead adequately, and couldn't lay my hands on anything that had the right level of mindlessness and portability. I finally stuffed some yarn and pattern pages that I had lying around in a bag, and voila.


I cast on this Urban Necessity glove to complete the matched set for CodeNinja. I've really been pretty negligent about knitting these and they don't take very long, so I really ought to be ashamed of myself. In my defense, though - it hasn't been very cold. Anyway, I got this started in the car and then put it aside, since the 1x1 ribbed cuff was something I could knit in the dark on the way home. I kept knitting on it later in the weekend when we went Christmas tree hunting, and now I'm almost ready to put the thumb stitches on a holder. I need some time to finish it now with CodeNinja nearby so he can try it on and direct me as to the length of the fingers.

For the football viewing portion of Thanksgiving, I cast on this.


Permafrost by Jared Flood in his Loft yarn, colorway Snowbound. I don't know what I was thinking, this is going like lightening now, but as the number of stitches increases and increases - this is not going to be a quick project! I still have Galadriel's mirror hanging around, sad and neglected, if I needed a big project, and of course as soon as I figure out what I'm going to do for a wedding shawl, I'm going to drop everything else like it's on fire. But, oh well, it's started now, and I'm most of the way through Chart 2. I'll try to catch up on the knitting over my Christmas vacation.

And now for something completely different! Every year, the ladies' group at my church does an ornament exchange, and almost every year I've taken some type of handmade ornaments. A few years ago, before I started knitting, I bought a kit from (I think) Bead Sphere for netted ornament covers. There were three covers in the kit. I made one for that year's ornament exchange, and the rest got shoved inside something somewhere. I uncovered the kit while I was working through the stuff from the craft room and, as the ornament exchange is this coming Friday, decided that if I just went ahead and made the ornament covers, I wouldn't have to figure out somewhere to store the kits! (Genius, I tell you.)

Everything I needed was still in the bag, including all the beads, the needles, and even my little square of Thread Heaven. So I plopped down at my desk and got to work.


It's easy enough - pick up this many beads, thread through this bead on the prior row, etc. etc. Quite simple, though these are size 11 beads, so very tiny. I finished the first one...


And went ahead and started the second.


It takes about 3 hours to do one of these, so I had to quit the second one in the middle and come back to it later, but I finished it on up and it's even prettier than the first one.


I did have a problem with both, however - despite the fact that I was SURE I pulled out enough string as directed, I ran out. This is sort of like running out in the middle of a long-tail cast on - one you've spent the last two hours working on. There's not really a good solution for it and taking all that netting out and starting over would NOT be easy. So...I did a Russion join. It doesn't work quite as well as it does in knitting, but as you can see above - it does work. I'm especially bitter that I ran outof yarn on the second one, though, since I made doubly sure to pull out extra.

I'll pop these over a couple of plain ol' spherical ornaments and they will be gorgeous, perfect for the ornament exchange. This is the best kind of purging.

And now, only one thing remains - my finished Melpomene!







Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Beginnings

Happy Thanksgiving! Knitting content is a little slim (yet again), but I have begun a project that is relevant to this blog - that is, the demolition and reconstitution of my craft room.

This blog rarely sees anything but knitting, but I do actually have a lot of crafts that I like to do. I scrapbook, I make cards and other paper crafts, and I have been a cross stitcher almost as long as I can remember. Knitting has kind of taken over, but at least part of that, I believe, is because my other crafts were so much less accessible. Since I moved into this house, I had grandiose plans for my craft room (which, to my mother's horror, had been in my living room up until then).

Unfortunately, none of those plans really came to pass. I had too much stuff, and not enough space for it. Plus, I am not by nature a neat and organized person, and my crafting process is rather manic. I make a big mess tossing things around until I get the effect that I want. Plus, since I had no office space, my computer stuff and office files and all that stuff were also crammed into the craft room. Essentially, I ended up with a room that was basically a complete junk pile, and my guest room was not much better, being used largely for storage of all the stuff that didn't fit in the craft room and that I didn't otherwise know what to do with.

Times are a-changing, and with my brother moving out, freeing up the basement bedroom to be the new guest room, and with CodeNinja moving in (and bringing all his stuff with him), it was time to do something about this "stuff" situation.

I have never spent any time in the craft room, and have never wanted to, it was so unpleasant in there. When I wanted to work on my paper crafts, I hauled all my stuff down to the kitchen table, made a mess, left it there for a week or so, and then took it up and piled it all back in the craft room. The room just wasn't pleasant to be in, despite being, in my opinion, one of the nicer room in the house. It's quite a good size, but it's long and rectangular. It has a recess with two large windows that face the front of the house, and it probably gets more light than any other room. There's no reason at all why it shouldn't be a perfectly lovely place to spend time in.

But, it wasn't, so I had to put some thought into figuring out why. One answer was obvious - it was too cluttered, cramped, and messy with all the stuff I had in there. Step 1 - we (by which I mostly mean CodeNinja) hauled all the stuff out of the craft room and into the now-empty den in the basement. I asked him to take a 'before' picture but he forgot, so here's all the stuff in the den and basement bedroom:


Looooooots of stuff. The goal is to go through this mess and sort out the craft from the non-craft, and also to purge as I go, getting rid of stuff I don't need, don't want, or don't use. Then, everything will be reorganized and reloaded into the craft room and the former guest room, which will now become an office. The office is really going to be CodeNinja's space; I'll have a desk in there, but I'll try to keep my stuff to a minimum, so we each have a retreat when we need some space.

The craft & guest rooms were very cold-looking before, so we picked a beige paint color with a bit of a pinky-peach undertone to warm the walls up a little bit, and the result is so much massively better than the color that was there before (a color I generally refer to as 'Old Dried Toothpaste'). I've already started rethinking where I put the crucial pieces of furniture and put some of the stuff back in there.


It's hard to get a good picture - the room is really about twice as big as it looks in most of these photos. The entrance to the room is a little odd, naturally closed off because the closet sticks out into the room in front of the door. I had the long table on the wall where the bookshelf is now, and the bookshelf was at the end of that table nearest the door, making the entrance even more closed. Lesson learned - I've cleared up that wall considerably to make it less overwhelming to walk into the room. There will have to be some more shelves & storage on the near wall, but I will take much better care this time to avoid getting that cramped feeling when you walk in.

I've also decided to use that computer desk as a working surface, and use the long tables only to hold supplies and lay things out that I want to look at. Before, I used the long table to work, but in order to have my tools on the table where I wanted them, I lost a huge amount of workspace and got frustrated very easily. This way, I'll have to do a little bit more moving back and forth, but my work area won't be cluttered with supplies, and I can use the keyboard tray to keep tools I really need to have to hand, like my paper cutter. I had developed a habit of cutting paper in my lap anyway, which was not very effective and, sadly, led to the demise of my paper cutter (leverage issue - snapped a piece off of it).

So, I have a long row to hoe, and a lot of time is going to be devoted to this, but I'm determined to have a working craft room at the end of it. Ideally, I would love to find a place in here for a chair and my spinning wheel, but I'm not sure that's going to happen. My biggest issue here is storage; I have spent a lot of money in the past on storage tools that just weren't really effective, so I'm trying to be very critical about buying new supplies.

This won't, of course, be the only area of the house where I'm purging, and CodeNinja will be responsible for purging on his end as well before we try to pack everything into this house.

I have been knitting, however, and I'm on the downhill slide with my Melpomene.


I had a bit of a set back the night before last when I apparently went temporarily insane and hauled off and knit my twists on the wrong side. It's not like it's easy to mistake, either. The front side looks like this:

Twisted stitches right there. The wrong side looks like this:


No twisted stitches, just something that looks kind of like 2x1 ribbing.

AND YET, not only did I knit a section of twisted stitches on the wrong side - after I fixed that, and knit merrily onward, not more than an hour after I took those pictures, I had to take another picture before I posted, so I could show you that I did this:


This time I started my short rows on the wrong side, and so while every other scallop faces the bottom of the shawl, this one faces the top of the shawl. Argh!!! Feeling rather red-faced over here. It's easy to fix, just one of those things that you can't figure out how you could not notice that. Especially having made a similar mistake so recently!! It boggles the mind.

I've also started my Madroña in my JulieSpins Glimmer Lace.


But, I've had another thought for yarn, so it's on hold until I get my second option and can swatch it.

I actually had several issues starting that shawl, not from any flaw in the directions, but because I have never used DPNs before, and I was dropping them all over the place. These are Chiaogoos, but they don't have the sharp lace tips, which is also a tad frustrating for me, addicted as I am to sharp tips. After a few rounds, I had enough stitches on the needles that I wasn't dropping them (as often), but it's still a bit awkward. I was hoping to avoid the ladder stitches I had on my Evenstar circular start, where I used two circs, and so far I haven't had that issue, but it definitely was more difficult than just doing things the way I was used to. (Speaking of which...I did the Emily Ocker cast on instead of Romi's recommended bellybutton cast on, because I was too impatient to figure out a new method).

That's really it on the knitting front. I owe CodeNinja some fingerless gloves, so that's on the horizon, as soon as I can tear myself away from my lace!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Another week managed to slip by without a blog post. Mea culpa, my dear bloggees!

Sadly despite the lateness, I don't have much to tell. The newest muse is out and, consequently, on my needles.



I've barely started. This is Melpomene by Romi and the yarn is Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Black Pearl. This yarn is a little crisper to work with that the other incarnations of Djinni I've used, but that's not very unusual for yarn that is mostly black, in my experience.

And, I finished my Buttonwillow!


But she's not blocked yet.

Other than that, my time has largely been taken up with wedding planning and stash enhancement. I picked up some lovelies in light of The Sanguine Gryphon's - reorganization? Shut down? I'm not sure what to call it, but I cashed in.

3 skeins of Gaia lace in Memoirs des Arbres, and beautiful rich dark brown.


A skein of Skinny Bugga in a puzzling colorway called Sooty Dancer. It photographs as kind of a dark green with black mixed in, which is what I expected when I bought it, but when you're looking at it in real life, it's pretty thoroughly black.


And one skein of Eidos in a color I can neither remember nor properly pronounce. I think it started with a P, and I did all manner of unnatural things to this photo to try and get the color to turn out correctly. I got close, but it's still not really accurate.


I also snagged one skein of Metamorphosis from A Verb For Keeping Warm, whose yarns I've been meaning to try for ages, in anticipation of the imminent public release of Caliz, a pattern Romi originally designed for AVFKW's shawl club. The color is Transnational Fury.


And last but not least, the Great White Yarn search. I looked all over for white-white yarn to go with my wedding dress, and had trouble finding it anywhere in a blend I was happy with. Finally, on the advice of some dear Rav friends, I contacted Julie at JulieSpins on Etsy, who prepared some of her glimmer lace (mostly wool, some silk, and a tiny bit of angelina) for me in her "Here Comes The Bride" colorway - a beautiful white-white. I'm thrilled. I'm going to take a crack at making the October Pins & Lace pattern, Madrona, in this yarn, and if it works out the way it is in my head I'll be over the moon!

Monday, October 31, 2011


I didn't blog yesterday because I was determined to finish this:

My Umaro blanket is done, and none too soon, for cold weather advances upon us. This project hit the stage where it infuriated me greatly that it wasn't finished, and I spent just about every spare knitting moment on it for the last week and a half to finish it. On the advice of others I added a repeat, so it is not only long enough for me, but for my soon-to-be-DH. Although he is hardly ever cold. In fact, I'm marrying him for his heat-producing capabilities, as I'm chronically cold.

I have exactly one ball of yarn left over, untouched, unopened, unloved. I'll find a use for it. Maybe it will be reincarnated as felted slippers.

I was forced to take a brief hiatus from knitting on the blanket with the single-mindedness and intensity of a marathon runner in her last mile (or a madwoman, however you want to look at it) to go out and socialize with people. I took my naughty, color-shifting buttonwillow with me, only to find once I got where I was going, that I'd made a mistake somewhere and had an extra column of stitches that wasn't supposed to be there. Now, I like to think I'm good at fixing mistakes but mistakes on the edge of a row have always been my downfall, so I gave in to the inevitable, ripped back almost a whole repeat of Chart A (which is only like six rows, but they're getting kind of long at this point) and managed to get it set back up so that when I return home tonight, I can attack it with renewed vigor. I'm in a serious finish-it-up mood at the moment, and I'm riding with it. I'm even starting to think about that cozy sweater from French Girl Knits that's sitting abandoned upstairs.

But, let's not get carried away. The October Pins & Lace shipment is due in my mailbox any day now and we all know I'm going to drop everything as soon as it gets here! (Depending on whether I have to buy needles and yarn.)

Oh, I almost forgot - I also blocked (finally) the Scarf That Would Not Die. I think, despite all my frustration that it was forever short of six feet...I overachieved.

That's a lot closer to seven feet (if not eight) than it is to six. Oh well. He'll wear it, and he'll like it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Catching Up

Sunday may become our new regularly scheduled blog day. I prefer to spend Sunday knitting and take pictures at the end of the day, since I usually make pretty good progress on Sundays, but I'll just have to make do.

I've been working on my Buttonwillow but progress has been slower than it could be, because it's getting cold here, so I keep reaching for my big squishy Umaro blanket.


As I laid Buttonwillow out to take its picture, I realized something disturbing.


There is a very distinct color line where I changed skeins. Now, I've been very fortunate with this kind of thing in the past, so I guess it was inevitable that I would have this issue eventually. But I'm feeling a little grumpy about it. I didn't alternate rows, obviously, but I didn't really think it would be an issue. I'm not ripping it out. my buttonwillow will just have to be striped.


I also finally got some long overdue blocking done. This prayer shawl has been laying around my house for ages waiting for me to get around to blocking it, and at last, I have done so.




This yarn is a wool/microfiber blend. I'm not even sure what it is now - I know I got it from LittleKnits but--time for a rav check. Please hold.


Okay, it's Rowan Cashsoft Aran, and the pattern is "Prayers of Love" by Carla Willingham.

Anyway, so instead of soaking and pinning, I put it in the washer on my 'hand wash' cycle, and then took it, still damp, and ran wires through the edges and pinned it out. Then I took a towel and my iron and, keeping the towel between the shawl and the iron, and without putting my iron down even on the towel, I puffed steam all over it and steamed it really well, until it was damp(er). Then I left it until it was dry, at which time I unpinned it and took it to my prayer shawl group to turn in, immensely pleased with myself for having finally gotten off my butt to do it.

I also blocked my Kleio, since the person for whom it was a gift was in town this weekend. I gave it to her on the condition that she modelled it for me, so here she is!


With a Romi pin:


I adore the edging on this piece, it really just makes the look.




Love, love, love. Again, this is Kleio from Romi in Sunshine Yarns Classic Sock, and the whiter colorway is "Luna," and the more colorful one is "Dobby." Appropriate, as my friend is a big Harry Potter fan!

We've been best friends since middle school and Kleio, the muse of history, is just so perfect for her, and the colors are so exactly her colors, that I really couldn't be happier with this project. She loved it, too, which really made my day.

Now, if you'll excuse me, dear readers, it's very chilly today, and I feel the need to knit a large squishy wool blanket!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gasp! A real blog entry! With real pictures!

Again, desperately sorry for the hiatus, folks. I'm going to have to work out a new blog schedule with my new job. The hours are a little different from what I'm used to and I have plenty to fill my time, so no down time to blog in.

On with the WIP report! Here's what I've been up to:

1. Umaro
It got cold outside and I went running for this blanket. It's so squishy and it will be so warm, I'm looking forward to wrapping up in it. I've got almost three repeats done out of seven, so I still have a long way to go, but it's coming along nicely.




2. Galadriel's Mirror
I picked this one up for a little while, but it kind of got sidelined when my life became a swirling vortex of chaos. I just didn't (and really still don't) have the mental energy for it just at the moment, but I did make some progress.



3. Buttonwillow
Of course I have to have a Romi on my needles, and this is her newest design, Buttonwillow, released today for Ravelry purchase. This design debuted at Vogue Knitting Live and then was available as a kit only. I got the kit so I've been working on this one for a few days already. Road to China light is gorgeous and oh so soft, very nice to have in your hands. Mine is in the Grey Pearl colorway. This is really a good knit for me right now, it's pretty simple and it just feels nice.



So that's it for the works in progress, other than a sock I've been working on in Neighborhood Fiber Company Capital Luxury Sock. When I did my stash organization I found that I had bought a whole bunch of this yarn in different colors, but had never actually knit with it! I decided it was time to fix that, picked out one, wound it up, and it's my mindless, carry-around knitting.

Many of my finished objects are languishing waiting to be blocked. Kleio is in that pile, sadly.



Lovely, finished, and unblocked. I've got some new blocking wires on the way, though, so I'm waiting for those to come in before I worry too much about this one. I do have a lot of ends to weave in on this one before it can be blocked anyway.

I did, however, finally block my Katanya (also by Romi):





So there you have it, and hopefully I will return in a more timely fashion next week!