2015 - What I've FINISHED - and what I didn't.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Looking at my Ravelry projects list, I noticed a few things about my finished projects list.  For one thing, there aren't very many of them. Between January 1, 2015 and today, I've only finished 5 projects. To be fair, one of them, Life Cycle, was a very long project. Plus I lost a good month or two of knitting time to my nerve injury in the Spring.

But the main thing I noticed is that all my projects were knit for someone else, either as a gift or a custom project. That needs to change in 2016. I'll still continue to knit for the people I love, but I need to make sure that at least some of my projects are for me.

(Wait, I lie! I did finish something for me, but I started it in 2014. That's my Custom-Fit scoop neck T. I finished it and I wear it.)

I've decided that I am finished with Mystery Knit-alongs. I did two this year, and the first wasn't a style I ended up liking. The second, I do like the pattern, but I bought the yarn with a specific person in mind and we have had a falling out, so now I have an almost-finished cowl in a color that isn't me that has an unpleasant association. Not sure what to do with it, other than stick it in a bag. Maybe give it away to someone else.

I'm also finished, at least for next year, with joining the official One Little Word project. Not only did I not finish my album, I didn't even start it. But I am going to choose a word to focus on for 2016.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. For those of us who are dealing with any kind of stress this Thanksgiving, I offer this wonderful guided meditation to help you deal with it with humor. Warning, it contains adult language so don't share with the kiddy table, but it's a great mantra for when things are stressful or hard. Namaste.

I'm also setting the blog up on Bloglovin' which means I have to add the following:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, or just a good Thursday if you're not in the US.

Falling Bobbles

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I love the Purl Bee and Purl Soho. On my last trip to New York I went out of my way to make a pilgrimage to the store, and if I didn’t have my son with me I would have stayed for hours. I love their aesthetic of simple, sophisticated patterns that are created out of beautiful materials, and if I ever win the lottery, I will be buying the $780 kit to crochet Bear’s Rainbow Blanket knit from Koigu Yarn, even though I rarely crochet.  Unfortunately, I have not won the lottery, so while I have knit several Purl Soho patterns, I have not often made them with their suggested yarn, much as I would love to.

Their latest pattern, Falling Bobbles, is a perfect example of their aesthetic. Simple, luscious, and pretty easy to knit. I really wanted to make it, but their suggested yarn requires  9 skeins at $24.50 each plus shipping. So, I ordered my go-to home dec bulky yarn, Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick,  and ordered 9 skeins on sale for $40 including shipping. It’s soft and wonderful, plus it’s washable.

I’m debating who to give it to. I have two lovely elderly ladies in my life, my dad’s sister and my mother-in-law.  It depends on how long it takes me to knit, and if I feel I can finish Meta in time.

Pre-Thanksgiving Special!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Just in time for Holiday knitting, I'm running a special at my Ravelry store. Buy any two of my cowl patterns and get the third FREE! Use the coupon code 2FER at checkout. 

Melody's Cowl

Mossy Rib Cowl

Checkered Moebius

Things I need to FINISH

Sunday, October 25, 2015

My One Little Word for 2015 is "FINISH."  This word is appropriate for me because I like to start things. Lots of things. But finishing them is quite another matter. And now that the year is almost finished, and I haven't done much work on the OWL album (read “none”), I want to take stock of what I absolutely need to finish by the end of the year. 
I had so many knitting plans for this year. However, like all best laid plans, mine went awry. It always seems that when I set goals and make plan, something happens to thwart them. In the late spring, I began getting severe pain in my right wrist and arm, making me think I was developing carpal tunnel syndrome. That put me off my knitting for over a month, and I spent the summer playing catch up. Because nothing succeeds like a deadline, I was able to bust out the two projects I had to finish in a certain time frame. 
Probably the longest running WIP I have going right now is my Custom-Fit short-sleeve scoop neck sweater, knit in red Cascade Ultra  Pima cotton.The knitting’s been finished for ages, but the actual finishing was giving me fits. The set-in sleeves look better than most of the other sweaters I've made, but that’s not saying much. It’s wearable, though.  I still need to finish the hem. I chose a folded hem rather than an edging - which I now regret, because I have to hand sew the hem to make the garment wearable. I’ll have more to say about this later, but I think this is my last attempt at a sewn set-in sleeve. Once I get this sewn, I think this sweater will become a staple in my wardrobe.

I realized that I won't be able to get my Meta shawl finished in time for my aunt's birthday in early November, so I made a one-skein scarf with some stash Malabrigo Silky Merino in a hot pink on big needles that I should finish in plenty of time. Meta has now been postponed until Christmas
I put my Circo cowl on hold as well, but only because I need to finish the scarf first. This one isn't due until Christmas.

I started a pair of gloves, knit on size 1.5 needles, thinking they would make a Christmas present for my nephew who specifically asked for gloves. What was I thinking? It took forever just to do the cuff. So those are put aside. I saw some really cool mittens (along with a collection of 1940s knitting patterns) on the Victoria and Albert Museum website, but they also call for a size 13 UK needle which is a US size 1. I just don’t have the time or the patience for that. But I saw a cool adaptation knit in a larger gauge, using Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns for the math. I have taken that book out of the library a lot, so decided to buy my own copy. I thought I had some worsted stash yarn that would make great mittens in a bigger gauge, but it seems that I have single skeins, and no one-handed people to knit for, so back to the store I go.  They shouldn’t take too long to knit up and I think I can make at least 3 or 4 pairs by Christmas. Maybe I’ll throw in a pair for the mitten tree at Church - I can try a kids size first and get a pair out of one of those skeins. 
Finally, I’m going to meet Baby C  at Thanksgiving, and I just have to finish sewing up my little pink cardigan for her. 

Back on track

Friday, October 2, 2015

After a month-long hiatus from knitting last spring due to a horrible pinched nerve in my neck that radiated pain down my right arm to hands, I finally am back on track with my knitting projects. I was terrified that I had carpal tunnel syndrome, but my nephew the physical therapist told me he didn't think that was the problem and my PT here in Pittsburgh got be back on track in a matter of weeks.

The first thing I needed to finish was the Life Cycle blanket I was making for my new baby niece. I have not come to terms yet with the word one uses when one's nephew becomes a father. Great aunts are little old ladies, who knit and drink tea and look like Miss Marple. And uses words like "one's." I only fit three of those criteria, and looking like Miss Marple is not one of them. I managed to finish the blanket in time for the shower in August. It was the only handmade gift. I often worry that people won't understand the effort and, yes, expense, that goes into handknit items, but the blanket was the hit of the shower. If I say so myself.

 Once that was done, I owed my friend Melody her Hybrid Vigour, which I finished just in time for early fall.

I haven’t felt much like coming up with new designs. I'm really enjoying making other people's designs, especially lace. Right now, I'm working on two mystery knit-a-longs, one that I started right before my injury and another that is currently running, and then it's time to do my holiday knitting. Then we'll see.


What's on my needles - March is baby month!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Babies, babies everywhere!

There's a lot going on in my knitting life at the moment, as my family is waiting for the arrival of two little ones this year. My cousin is expecting in May, and I've just found out recently that another family member is expecting in the fall.

Since it's early days yet and the expectant parents haven't made a public announcement yet, I'm not going to get into much detail, but suffice it to say that it's a close enough relative that I've started on the baby blanket version of Laura Nelkin's Life Cycle. I'm really glad I signed up for the class because this is a complicated pattern that is definitely a labor of love. Since getting my yarn in the mail last week, I got through the first section, only to have to rip back and start over at the beginning when I made a mistake in the second section and dropped enough stitches while frogging - even with my lifeline! - that it just wasn't worth it to try to fix on the needles. Some of my nupps were loose anyway, so I decided that the first try was a practice run. Fortunately, the project starts with only 8 stitches on the needle.  After a shaky start, I've made it to the fourth and final section, and it's coming along nicely.

I've finished the Elizabeth Zimmerman  Baby Surprise Jacket (except for the buttons) and am going to make matching booties from The Opinionated Knitter.

(This is an Amazon Affiliate link, which means if you purchase the book through my blog, I receive a small payment. Thank you.)

A Realization

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I am not one for winter. This is not my realization; I've known this for a very long time. I have always had a hard time coping with the winter weather and darkness. You would think, being a knitter, I would love the season for wearing my heaviest woolens, but I don't. Spring I love. Fall, I would love if it were not followed by winter. But winter? I just want to escape.

I've come to the conclusion that if I manage to do the bare minimum in winter - get myself to work reasonably well put together (or at least decently dressed and clean) - anything else I accomplish is a real accomplishment. It's very hard to get out from under the electric blanket when I don't have to, and it's time to stop beating myself up for that. I have 8 more years until my son graduates from college, after which, hopefully, I can leave town for the winters for warmer climes. I cling to that hope every January and February, which are getting harder and harder to slog through as I get older.

All this to say that I've gotten terribly behind on my knitting tests, pattern releases and blogging. I am knitting, working on a new design, and planning more baby knits for the next generation making an appearance this year. I hereby declare that from now on, my New Year's Day is March 1, rather than January 1, the end of winter rather than the beginning, when I begin to feel myself come out of hibernation even if the weather is still cold and there is snow on the ground. Stay tuned.

What's on my needles

Monday, January 19, 2015

I've been working on Laura Nelkin's Skywalker as a preparation for the Life Cycle Shawl, and it's quickly become apparant that if I keep using the yarn I'm working with (Cascade alpaca lace) on size two needles, I'm going to have to add a lot more stitches unless I want a shawl for a Barbie doll. The construction is a semi-circle using a version of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl technique, which doubles the number of stitches as the radius of the shawl gets longer. I have two full skeins of the stuff, so I can keep going until the yarn runs out

Last weekend, I took a trip to the Big Box Craft Store (not the controversial one) and bought some cheap yarn to use for trying out stitch patterns. I am all about luxury yarns, not just because of the beauty of the finished product, but because knitting is such a tactile activity that so much of the enjoyment is in feeling the luscious fibers in the hand as you knit. But because I want to develop a collection of swatches for design projects, I need something cheap. Big Box yarn to the rescue!

Best of all, I have just learned that my cousin is expecting a baby boy in May! This will be the first baby of the new generation, making me a first cousin twice removed, the cousin equivalent of a great aunt. I love making baby things because they finish so quickly even on tiny needles.  I have started Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket in Cascade's North Shore Prints in Beach, which although 100% acrylic (and therefore washable), feels like the softest pima cotton. It's coming along quite nicely since I started in on Saturday.

A fresh New Year

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Much has happened over the past several weeks since I've last posted. I've started a new job, which, which, while not my perfect job, has the advantage of being a true "day" job and not a position that requires overtime or being connected to the office when I'm not there. In today's world, that is truly a gift, and I am grateful for it. But I do stare at a computer screen all day, which makes keeping up with online projects too easy to let slide.

I managed to get a lot of knitting done for the holidays, but also gave past projects as gifts, so not to become overwhelmed with gift knitting at the end of the year. That will be my strategy going forward - to make the projects I want to make and then think about whether to give them away and to whom.

My gift knitting included a warm scarf for my church's Mitten Tree, and I plan to make more things for the tree during the course of the year. I've joined the Mindful Knitters and enjoy knitting and creating in the company of like-minded women.

In the spirit of the new year, I've been thinking about goals for 2015, in my knitting and in my life. I've taken down my previously free patterns and run a test on the Checkered Moebious and will start one for Mossy Rib. Once they've been tech edited, I'm going to offer them for sale. This year, I'd like to release one accessory project a month to build up a collection of patterns. Since I'm a beginning designer, I want my patterns to be projects that adventurous beginners can tackle once they get past the basics of knit and purl; a challenge, but not so difficult that they give up in frustration. I love to create projects that impress nonknitters by looking more complex than they really are. I also love to use up every last yard of luxury yarns that are only affordable in small quantities.

For my own knitting skills, I'd like to master more complex lace. Lace has been my downfall more than once, and I'm determined to get really good at it. I signed up for Laura Nelkin's "Lace from the Inside Out" Craftsy class and will make the Life Cycle Shawl this year.

Last year, I signed up for Allie Edwards' One Little Word class. For various reasons, the word I chose didn't work for me, but I'm giving it another shot this year. I think it will work better with a verb rather than a feeling. So, for 2015, my word is FINISH. Finish or frog all those UFOs and be done with them. Finish MHK 1. Finish the other craft projects I've started, and finish with things I need to let go of in my personal life.

Another thing I'm going to finish is setting up and following a real editorial calendar for this blog in 2015. I hope you come along for the ride. Thanks for reading and knitting with me.