Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year in Review

Today being the last day of 2007, it makes sense to look over what I've been up to this year. My handy sidebar tells me this includes:
  • 30 pairs of socks
  • 39 stash projects
  • 2 spinning/knitting projects
  • 9 mittens
  • 9 hats
  • 8 shawls/wraps
  • 2 frogged, unresurrected projects
Those are nice totals. I *did* knit from my stash, and I even spun from my stash.

The year is ending as next year will begin ... doctor's appointment today, doctor's appointment on January 2nd. Whee. It does get me into town, and provides a nice excuse for grocery shopping. And yarn shopping. No, not for me. For Filia. The hat she made for mom simply JUMPED off mom's head some time in town, and is missing. So, time for a replacement.

And, since I've two blogs to update, and dishes to wash, and a shopping trip to make ... this review shall be declared at an end.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Why I don't do UFOs

My current project is a cardigan. It's got oodles of ribbing, and cables to boot. My left thumb hurts just thinking about knitting on it some more. I could start another project ....

and I will. Because I will eventually need a traveling project. At this point, however, the cardi will serve nicely in that role. It won't fit in a sock bag, true, but I don't have any socks to stash in there either. 2008 is my personal Year of the Mitten, so mittens will be tucked into the sock bag. Two color and/or twisted mittens, to boot. Unless they don't work well for traveling, in which case I may do stash reduction for traveling.

Reading. I really need to set some time aside each day to read to myself. I read to the children (currently working on the Scarlet Pimpernel. Jellyband reminds me of Butterbur. Filia has no idea who Butterbur is. A gap in her education which will be rectified.) There's a proofreading handbook on my desk, as well as Heretics/Orthodoxy, Livy's Early History of Rome, The Search for Delicious, the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and the original Pinocchio. I have such a difficult time prioritizing between two good things.

Harp. I'm not taking lessons any more, but I *will* keep on practicing. Call me on it if I don't mention it. (Hmm, the idea of a Monthly Report is sounding like a good accountability plot. Anyone want to join me? Come up with things to do on a regular basis, and report in a post once a month on what you've been actually doing? Say, perhaps, not buying sock yarn? Or donating it all to good causes?)

But the cardigan. It's not going to become a UFO, because I will work on it daily. It will be my home project (although I do reserve the right to work on another project at home if I do more than one skein of cardigan yarn in a given day.) And if this cardigan pulls the same stunt my last one did, and turns into yarn balls? I will let out a sigh of exasperation, and give myself one week of playing with mittens before starting the hunt for another suitable pattern. Or maybe I'll just delegate the cardigan to Filia. Sure, that's it. She can knit her own cardigan, and I can have her gift certificate!

Why do I think that won't go over well?

Cynics regarded everybody as equally corrupt. Idealists regarded everybody as equally corrupt, except themselves.
~ Robert Anton Wilson

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Milk is easier to get off dark skeins

subtitle: Why I should have been more careful setting my Hot Vanilla down this evening.

(Hot Vanilla: 1 cup hot milk, 1 t vanilla, 1 t (or T) sugar. Mmmm. Sticky.)

I set my mug down in its usual resting spot in the top of my workbox. Except the top of my workbox wasn't squarely settled in the box, and it tipped. 11 ounces (I saved one) of hot milky beverage all over
  • The balled yarns from Fililus's frogged pullover
  • The Leisure Arts raglan sweater booklet which has been in my family for two generations
  • The yarns for the Endpaper Mitts
  • The yarns for my buttonhole article
  • Filia's gauge swatches for her cardigan
  • Several needles and a needle gauge
  • The floor
  • The rug under my chair
  • My dog
  • A ruler
I will have some sticky yarns to work with for a while, I think. It did miss my 'pretty basket of yarns' and the bag I'd taken with me to Knit Night, so I have some breathing space before facing yarns that go crackle in the night. And really, most things got off with just a dollop or so of milk around the edges. The raglan book got the worst of it, and it's clothespinned to the stove hood.

Elmer's glue really is water-soluble. I have another glue drying this very moment, hopefully securing the lip of the box tray to the actual tray. The Elmers washed off quite nicely with the hot beverage.

Filia's swatch tags, written in beautiful fountain pen, are illegible. This is a perfect reason to finish my Pendemonium order off with some bullet-proof inks. I really do need them! Britannia's Blue Waves, or one of the Russian inks, or Iraqi Indigo, or ???

The Refined Aran Cardigan is no more. It, too, requires a sport weight yarn. I have a DK yarn, and this morning Filia and I picked out a Drops design which will work. The gauge swatch was PERFECT until I tossed it in the dryer, at which point it grew width-wise and shrunk lengthwise. And it looks ratty. So, this Swish DK cardi will be machine wash, air dry. It's going to get started (because Filia has finished the Baby Surprise Jacket, thus freeing up my long cable) as soon as I finish NHM #8. I've got the thumb and a bit left, so tomorrow should see the start.

Then, whatever shall I have for a travelling project?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Knitting Resolutions

The year is drawing to a close, and I - being the personal global planner that I am - like to think about the next year, and what I will do with it.

I like keeping track of my projects in the sidebar. It's a handy place to see what I'm up to, what I've accomplished, and what's lurking in the future. Ravelry can do the same sort of thing, but not so as everyone can see it quite yet ... so I'll keep that part of my blog.

I'm in a very mitteny mood. I've got to do Filia's cardigan next, but after that's done I see many mittens on my needles. Latvian, Selbuvotter, Twisted ... you name it, I think they will be there. In fact, I think 2008 will be A Mitten (pair) A Month. More suited to acronymization is the Year of the Monthly Mittens.

Also, I want to knit a lace stole suitable for the State Fair. Once the initial mitten frenzy dies down, I will cast on for the Sampler Stole - I think from A Gathering of Lace - and get that going. If it develops separation anxiety during blocking ... I'll cross that bridge if I come to it.

And of course, I'd like to keep working my stash down. Mittens should be good for that. 2008 shall also be the Year of the Monthly Stash Project (YOMSP), which may be the same as the Monthly Mitten Project.
Sockies ... another pair is done. The little tail you see on one sock is all that was left of the skein. The other sock had about a yard extra. It was close. Three yards to cast off 96 stitches? It was very close.

If you have used cusenaire rods, you may recognize the colors and sizes of these rods. But perhaps you never thought of building an inverted pyramid? Architecturally minded boys would.

Or how about balancing a new gyroscope on Mimring? Nope. I never would have thought of that either.

Filia is knitting madly on a Baby Surprise Jacket. The book (The Opinionated Knitter) is AWOL, but the working copy I made for myself from the book was found next to the slipper pattern (which was used to replace the inadvertent casualties of the Severe Cleaning she subjected her room to), and the jacket will be done shortly. I think she's 3 ridges from the end. (Two slippers and a BSJ since the 21st ... not bad!)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Nutella Drinks and other Comfort Foods

Nutella Hot Chocolate is a recipe from Hot Chocolate. The recipe is pretty simple .. take one serving of Nutella, add to one serving hot milk, and mix. I highly recommend NOT using an immersion blender in a full mug. There was a sad and drastic loss of Nutella that day.

Nutella is a favorite spread in this family. I wish I could get it in larger jars than what is sold in the supermarket. If it's more popular than peanut butter worldwide, one would think it came in containers larger than 8 servings. Filius took this photo of his favorite snack.

While we were up at the hospital, Filia met some of the wives of the Minnesota Twins players, and the mascot TC. TC was quite impressed with her cookie, and presented her with an autograph. She was more interested in cookie decorating with the Twins' wives than The Yarnery.

And in keeping with the food theme, allow me to show you what was in the oven with the loaf of bread pictured above.

Yes, mittens were drying in the oven. Mittens baked in the oven. Did you know Trekking changes color at 350 degrees? My camera was staging a focusing strike, so you can't see the cripsiness of the mitten, but believe you me ... it was crispy. I was able to salvage the mittens by cutting off the offended top and knitting a new one. That Trekking yarn is getting quite a workout! From padded footlets (frogged) to mittens (toast), to reknitting toasted mittens, and now the rest of the ball is being used by my mom to make some half-mitts.

Filia was bit by a serious cleaning bug earlier this week, much to the detriment of her schoolwork. I thought it a worthy tradeoff, since my plan was to get schoolwork done and then encourage a hearty room cleaning. She spent the better part of two days sorting, tossing, tossing, donating, and putting away things. Her room is lovely ... and Filius was the recipient of some beanies.

The time, it flieth

It's time for a few posts, and I think I'm caught up enough that I can actually write some.

My needles have been busy. My sewing machine has been busy. My crochet hook has, sadly, been employed. At least it was to good purpose.

Icarus is finished. I used two skeins of Misti Alpaca Laceweight, and had a smidge left over. The pattern was knit as writ, although if I make it again I'll just do 3 yos instead of 4 in that particular pattern round. It's sitting near the radiator, snug under a desk, waiting to meet its new owner on Sunday.
The Legwarmers are finished. I think I've taken the off a few times ... but I do like them, and they are a definite plus in our cool house. The pattern came from Melville's The Knit Stitch, and used 3 skeins of Shamrock.

Filius's cardigan is finished. Really finished. A few days into working on it, I realized that he never wears anything but sweatshirt or oversized shirts in the winter, and who wears cardigans over things like that? Anything that goes over something of that size is called a coat. I had a small sinking feeling, but decided to finish. There are more boys than one in the word, after all.

The next day, I finished a sleeve ... the stitch count was off at the bottom a bit, but that wasn't too problematic. I was getting gauge, and the sleeve looked quite proper, and so I picked up stitches for the next sleeve and got ready to start down.

Then I decided to count my sleeve stitches. And there weren't enough. So I backtracked. What could have gone wrong? True, I didn't count to make sure there were 309 stitches on the needle when I set the sleeve stitches aside, but who would do that? There were directions to take care of the stitch number, and I'd followed them, hadn't I?

Well, yes. But not quite all of them. One line told me to increase X times, another told me to work increases at the front edges (V-neck, you know) Y times every Q rows, then Z times every R rows, then N times every S rows. I'd done fine with my YZN, but had missed the X part. Wouldn't X = Q+R+S? No, it did not. It was off by 8. Which means 4 increase rows. Which makes for 32 stitches. Which, at 5 stitches per inch, makes for 6" shrinkage in the sweater yoke above the sleeve division. It was suddenly seeming less likely that the finished project would be wearable.

So I cast on some socks. (Sorry, no photos. They're wrapped, too.) And thought, pondered, and otherwise contemplated my options. The next day, I brought a ball winder to craft day, stuck it on the table, and about 10 minutes later ... pfssst ... I have a row of lovely balls of yarn, occupation unknown.

After the socks, the Balaclava was cast on. The pattern (um, springboard?) comes from Homespun, Handknit. I made a few tweaks, took lots of photos of the making of the eye opening, and finished it off today. It's in the Basket of Things To Be Wrapped, and will not be a surprise to the recipient, but wrapping it is still fun. Especially if one's mom does the wrapping.

Now, for the End of Year Contemplation. To be fair, I've been thinking about posting this since early December, but I got otherwise occupied and the idea has been on the back burner. Towards the end of 2006, I had thoughts about working my stash down. There was the Stash of Whole Skeins, and the stash of miscellaneous acquired objects. I'd like to report that, based on my sidebar, I worked 39 projects from stashed yarns.
  • The Tesselated Socks used 2 skeins I had bought 'for some pair of socks'
  • The Latvian mittens used two colors of Palette from my Palette sampler
  • The Anatolian MIttens used two colors of Merino Style from ... where else? ... my Merino Style Sampler
  • The Quilt was finished
  • The Rambling Rose afghan has been taken over by my daughter, who will probably finish it in 2008.

Admittedly, nothing was done with the Shadow sampler. I have noticed that the Swallowtail shawl takes only one skein, so I may be making one of those this coming year. After my doodle with Angel laceweight, perhaps?

And lastly, it's amazing what a boy can do with K'Nex.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The time, it goes quickly.

The time, it goes quickly.

But for dogs, it doesn't seem to be quite as hectic. "If blanket, then dog" seems to be the motto. Filius has been bringing his sleeping bag downstairs lately, in the hopes of curling up in front of the space heater with a book in the wee hours before school time. The dog, however, has designs on the sleeping blanket. One morning, Filius stopped in front of the bookshelf to pick a book, and found his bag occupied.

Filia and I have finished our hats and mittens for a holiday present. She did the purple, I did the pink, and they're ready to be mailed off. Diligent knitter that she is, she reworked one of the mitten tops when it was discoverd that it was a full inch shorter than the other mitten. I'd give her a hard time about that, but within a day or so I killed one of Filius's mittens by neglecting to remove it from the oven -- it had been put in a warmish oven, along with some rising bread -- when I turned the oven on. I've got a top of my own to reknit!

Icarus is next on the agenda for finishing. I've 15 rows or so to go.

A free toy came my way today courtesy of ClassEd. has free software to turn your computer into a recorder. I can record myself playing the harp, and send it to people as mp3 files! Well, actually once I find MORE free software to do the conversion. But I can convert to .wav files already. I can also record my childrenwhotalkquickly, and they can listen to themselves. Oddly enough, Filius wanted to listen to Filia read quickly, but he couldn't stand listening to himself. Hmmm.

Tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day, and the day that we take a break from school and delight in the Christmas season. Which, being translated, is that I will sit back and watch the children put up the tree, occasionally putting on some different holiday music which they will also unearth. I think I like the idea of putting up a tree on Christmas Day, and leaving it up for 2-3 weeks. Too often it seems the pre-celebration wears out the actual celebration of Christmas, so that on December 26th, one is glad it's all over. Or one is shopping. I've got a pretty good idea what will be going on here on the 26th, and it doesn't involve shopping. Or computers.

After the holidays, I hope to get back to more reading and commonplacing. At the moment, I'm keeping my head above the water and wondering if I'm out of touch with reality to consider having a standard school week next week, with 8 doctor's appointments and 2 haircuts. Or, if that's out of touch with reality, could we start Christmas break this early? That doesn't seem right either.

For now, I shall do the Next Thing. Which, being a peaceful Wednesday evening, is knit. With some hot Nutella drink. Mmmmmm.