Monday, January 28, 2008

Smoke on the Water


I started this hat as a potential Christmas present back in November, but it fell by the wayside without a definite recipient and I just finished it up last night. When I woke up this morning to snow, I thought that I'd be able to get a nice, wintery outdoor photo, but it wasn't light enough at home and there was N-O snow at the office, so indoor mirror photos are going to have to do the trick.

The pattern is, of course the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat (there are 592 finished versions on Ravelry), and the yarn is Blue Moon's Leticia, in Rook-y. I ran out of yarn on the crown, which surprised me, and required some modifications at the top--switch to smaller needles before the last cable cross, eliminate the plain round before the last cable cross, and then decrease faster. I don't think it looks bad, but you can judge for yourself in my extremely lame behind the head photo below:


I have 20 grams left of the skein that I knit my first hat out of, so either the yardage varies a lot (I'm pretty sure that weight is secondary to yardage for BMFA) or this skein was short, or the first skein was long. I tried to deliberately knit this hat looser (once I knew it would be for my giant head), so that could also be the issue, and since I was able to finish the hat without a drastic mod, it doesn't really matter to me. If I'd run out a little earlier, I'd be plenty mad, and I am a little sorry that I don't have any leftovers--this is gorgeous yarn, both in touch and in color.

Mini Mitten Monday

An occasional series featuring miniature mittens knit for the 2008 Holiday Season


Throughout the year, I'd like to knit an average of 2 to 3 tiny mittens so that I have a giant stock-pile to use for tree decorations, package decorations, and possibly Christmas cards next year. I'll report in on my progress, maybe one every 4 to 6 weeks, just to keep myself honest. The mittens above, knit from leftovers from these mittens and these socks, show 2/3 of my progress to date, so I am already a little behind--three mittens in 3.5 weeks. Plus, the third mitten, made with Cherry Tree Hill red yarn, has gone missing, and only time will tell whether I'll ever find it. I guess that this is the risk you run when knitting 1 inch high mittens, but hopefully I will not lose a third of the mittens I knit. I've been using Pink Argyle's mini mitten ornament pattern, but I've seen a few other patterns that I might take for a spin, too. If you have a favorite tiny mitten pattern, please let me know!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ooo-ooooo-oooh, I'm Lookin' for Clues

Clue #1 of the Ravelry Sockdown January Mystery Socks is finally complete! Here's one of the socks, which I had to separate close to the end of Clue #1 due to a small pattern-following problem:


See the subtle, Valentine's Day theme on the front? I think that it looks pretty good so far, and I've started the heel flap on the other sock. Rather than juggle six different strands of yarn and two different charts at once on the intarsia heel, I've opted to keep the socks separate for the time being--three bobbins at once is plenty for me. According to the examples I've seen on Ravelry (such as these and these), the toe is supposed to be in the contrast color, and I'm a little concerned that I might run out of it--I am, after all, using leftovers. I think I have plenty of black yarn, though, so I could always use that for the tippy tip if I run out. I'd like to finish these up in time to wear to Madrona, although I probably won't be there on Valentine's day itself due to a trivia team committment (and my classes are on Sat & Sun).

I was able to finish the skirt in time for the wedding (no staples necessary, fortunately), but I forgot to take my camera so I don't have any photos yet. I also finished my wedding-related craft, making information cards for the chocolate tasting bar. Yes, you read that right--the happy couple had an incredibly delicious chocolate tasting bar, with 7 dark or semi-sweet chocolates, three milk chocolates, one white chocolate, and a Hershey bar. It was a great idea, and I tasted all but the Hershey's. Possibly multiple times. The wedding was lovely (and would have been even without chocolate), and I was so happy to be there. I didn't know many other people, but everyone was soooo welcoming and warm. I'll stop my gushing there, before it sounds like I'm reviewing the wedding instead of just discussing it--what kind of a jerk reviews weddings? Not this one!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

And So It Begins . . . . Needles and Pins


Even though I didn't have time over the long weekend to sew, I'm almost done with the skirt above (can't you tell? I just need to hem it). The pattern is the basic A-line from Amy Butler's Barcelona Skirts pattern. I think that this is my favorite Amy Butler pattern, it's surprisingly straightforward, and there are only two pattern pieces, and I didn't have to really read the instructions. It's a pattern I will definitely use again.

The fabric is from Pacific Fabrics, and the blue lining is from JoAnn's, and if only I had some hem tape I could wrap it up in a jiffy. Which I need to do, because I'm wearing it to a wedding this afternoon, and it isn't one of those bohemian, wear-raggedy-unfinished-hem weddings. It's a classy wedding, with a chocolate tasting bar and it's going to be beautiful. Time to hunt down the tape.

I Can't Help it if I'm Lucky

Yippee! Sabbath's given me my first blog award! I think that she has overstated my talents by a fair bit, but I really appreciate it, and I appreciate the warm welcome that she and the rest of the Renton Stitchers have given me as I weaseled my way into the group. Going to a knitting group was one of my pseudo resolutions for 2007, but it took me months and months before I actually went, and I'm really glad that I did. Check out Sabbath's new Broadripple socks--the colors are fantastic, and I've heard on a semi-weekly basis that she will never knit socks, so give her some encouragement!
Now to pass along the award, here are some blogs that I really look forward to reading on a regular basis, even if they are probably too popular and cool to actually post about an award (which is one of the reasons I like them, probably):
Knit the Hell Up: There is no better knitting blog title, and the tone of Stef's writing matches the title perfectly. She doesn't baby her knitting, either.
Two Black Sheep: I love the back and forth between Ava and Lola, and we knit a lot of the same projects. I swear, it's probably more Ravelry-driven than me stalking and copying everything they do.
Random Snapshots: Liz is another Renton (and soon Auburn) Stitcher, and I love reading her blog because I can hear her Buffalo accent in my head as I'm reading it. Plus, her post about her new gold sneakers made me want to run out and buy a pair, even though I already have more sneakers than I know what to do with.
Thanks again, Sabbath! Can't wait to see what socks you start next!

Monday, January 21, 2008

1,2,3,4,5,6,7 Day Weekend


More like a three day weekend that feels like a half-day weekend . . . a weekend spent working (and not enough done), waiting for a jump-start, waiting for a new battery, new brakes, and wanting to work on projects that haven't managed to get off the ground. On the plus side, I walked almost four miles while waiting for the car repairs, firmed up some plans for my trip in May, and hit a couple of great fabric sales, as evidenced above. Apparently, I really like grays and blacks right now, excellent colors for winter even though I may not have time to sew again until spring. The knitting progress I've made has also been in this arena--I returned to an old, black stockinette friend, which is about all the skill I have right now. I haven't worked on it since July, and it felt like a good project to pick up again.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sweet Comic Valentine


I just realized yesterday that I haven't posted anything about these socks yet, even though they are moving along. I started these on January 1, a new project for a new year. They're the Ravelry Sockdown Mystery Socks (Rav link) by Fyberduck, and since I'm two clues behind I am not going "spoil screen" them. I'm looking forward to getting to clues 2 & 3, because the results, which I cannot help but seek out before I get to them, are going to look really cute with a pair of backless clogs. I'll give you a hint--it's a Valentine's Day related theme. The black yarn is Louet Gems Fingering weight, and the dark purple is Sundara Sock Yarn in Poppy, leftover from the Poppy Socks that I gave to E___ for Christmas, even though I really, really love them. I chose these colors because Fyberduck let on beforehand that the socks might be related to Valentine's Day, and I wanted low contrast instead of colors that were super themey. As attractive as it is for a single woman in her (very) late 30's to wear hearts, I decided to go with something subtle, and possibly goth-y. 'Cause I'm hardcore goth, you know. (note to self: find out if the phrase "hardcore goth" is something that the kids are saying these days).

I'm knitting these socks on size 1 needles, and the lace is really stretchy so I'm concerned that they might end up a little too loose on top. The concern is compounded by this pair (Rav link) that a friend is knitting that look so tidy and neat because she's a tighter knitter. I know that socks should be tighter for better wear, and I'm not sure when I became such a loose knitter--I think I could use some better tensioning skillz when working with smaller needles. In any case, the black part of the leg feels firmer to me, so I will live with the stretchiness of the lace, and add elastic to the cuff if necessary. Unless I make some other kind of mistake, and rip them all out, in which case I will break down and chart the clues before re-knitting.

I like where the sock is going overall, and I'd like to complete them in time to wear them to Madrona on Valentine's Day. There are (at least) three things to blame for the un-speediness of my knitting, none of which should prevent me from finishing them by mid-Feb:

1. Knitting the socks two at once, which doubles the time to complete clue #1:


2. Starting the Hawk Sawk at the same time

3. Working on my "try to exercise a little" plan. Note that progress towards my monthly Nike+ goal will appear in the sidebar, so far it's going pretty well. I'm using the "Couch to 5K" podcasts, because in May I might be in the right place at the right time to run a 4.2K. I'm looking forward to the tiny children of Prague taunting me as they fly by me, and I'm looking forward to the "Free Czech Beer" after the race. 'Cause nothing says "family run" like Free Czech Beer.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Someone's Rattling on My Monkey Cage All Day


First off, let me just say that I do realize that I've included the word "Monkey" in the title of three out of the last four blog posts, using lyrics from three different songs. It's a little weird, but it's just coincidence that I've been working on projects called or for monkeys in the last several weeks.

So the Seahawks lost pretty spectacularly to Green Bay yesterday, it was a very sloppy game played on an even sloppier field. However, I'd like the record to show that my plan was never to have these finished to wear during the game, and I did (as planned) work on them during the game. Today, I kitchenered up the toe, so sock #1 is done. I'd still like to finish sock #2 for the Ravelry January Sockdown, but I may take a break for now--the deadline isn't until the end of February, and it's a pretty quick knit, so there's time.

The Monkey pattern is surprisingly easy to memorize, I understand now why it's so popular. I kind of wish that I'd used smaller needles (tiny stitches always look better), but this sock fits me fine and they aren't really meant to be everyday, hard-wearing socks. I love the yarn, the colors are perfect and it's very nice to work with. Once I saw the stripes on the stockinette foot, I was a little sorry that I'd broken them up with the Monkey pattern.


See? Don't they look nice? Maybe I shouldn't wait to cast on sock #2 . . .

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Christmas Knitting 2007 - Done!

Christmas 2008

Knitted Gifts Given, Christmas 2007

Today I handed off the last Christmas present that I knitted, bringing my total knitted gifts to 12-ish. The -ish is for the tiny mittens, and the heart monkey hat duo, which each only count as one. Of course, I am counting the Sailor Girl socks that I gave to E____ in October, even though they were really a hostess gift--it's hard to make a mosaic with 11 photos.
The last gift to leave my hands hasn't appeared on this blog because the recipient is a regular reader, so here's a little more info. It's a Blush neckwarmer from kpixie, knit from one skein of Blue Sky Alpaca's Alpaca Silk. This yarn is really, really soft, and the pattern is quick, easy, & versatile. It's essentially a tube that's about 7 inches high, and it can be worn as a neckwarmer, or pulled up over the bottom half of the face, or over the ears. Here I am, wearing it like a headband hat, in one of my most attractive self-portraits ever. Don't worry, L___--I took this photo BEFORE I washed it!
Although I told a friend last weekend that I was declaring Christmas over as of Sunday (not counting gift delivery), I am still working on my cards. So now the plan is to get all of the cards in the mail by the end of this weekend. I've made some progress on my other "resolutions," if they can be called that. I walked / ran (mostly walked) about 10 miles between Jan. 1 - 7, and I put away a lot of laundry. Baby steps, baby steps.
ETA: Why didn't anyone tell me I mis-typed "Knitting" in the title???

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Darling, Don't You Monkey With the Monkey


I started the second new project of 2008 today, the Hawk Sawks. The pattern is (obviously, to anyone who has ever read any knitting blog) Monkey by Cookie A. There are about 3,200 Monkey's on Ravelry, and almost 2,300 of those are finished. This is an extremely popular pattern, and I've been thinking about making a pair for a long time. I actually cast on a pair of Monkeys (with a picot edge, ala january one's version) last summer, but my gauge was all off and I didn't go back to them.

I bought this yarn a few months ago (it's Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, in the Hometeam Football colorway) intending to knit some Seahawks socks, but the other million projects I've been working on got in the way. I started them today because I wanted a game-appropriate project to work on during the Seahawks' first round playoff game against the Redskins. I was a little worried when the Seahawks lost their 13-0 lead that these were bad luck socks, and I'd have to rip them out (blog entry title: This Monkey's Gone to Heaven), but the Hawks came back and I kept knitting. At first, I wasn't convinced that I like the heavily patterned lace/cable stitches with the contrasty yarn, but I'm coming around to it. If these were not team-themed socks, I wouldn't combine this yarn and pattern, but it's o.k. for football socks to be a little loud. Go Hawks!

A bonus is that Cookie A. patterns are one of the January challenge themes for the Ravelry Sock Knitters Anonymous group. This is the first challenge I've joined, and both of the new projects I started this week qualify--the other project is the Mystery Sock. I'm about 30% through the first clue, and so far I like them. I'm not sure I'll finish Clue 1 before Clue 2 is released on Monday, but I'll post progress photos once I get a little further.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Monkey Two Toe New Year 2008 - a post in three chapters

Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey


The Heart Monkey hats were delivered today, and they were a big hit. And by "a big hit", I mean that they fit J_____ and Heart Monkey, respectively, and that both seemed happy to pose for photos wearing the hats. J____'s hat looks a little small in this photo, but I think she might be wearing pigtails underneath--it didn't seem like it would pop off of her head or anything. Heart Monkey's hat fits just fine, thanks to his squishy head.

Two Toe Tuesday: New Year's Day edition


In other news, I recently finished the Poppy Socks, but I've been holding off on posting them because I just delivered them to E__ (mother of the monkeys above) today. I love this yarn (it's from the Sundara Petals Collection), and am planning to use the ample leftovers for new socks that will be cast on today. I really like this pattern, although the toe is not one that I've used before and I'm not 100% sure that I love it. E__--keep me posted on whether it's comfortable! This is only the third finished pair logged into Ravelry, which feels like a low number to me. Maybe a lot of other people also fell behind in their sock club knitting??

Happy New Year, 2008!

I've been reading a lot about resolutions that people are making and goals that they are setting for 2008, both on blogs and on Ravelry. There are definitely some things that I'm planning to work on this year, but I hate to spell them out because they're soooooooo subject to change, and they aren't that different from anyone elses' resolutions. I've been trying to think of a way to categorize, prioritize, and plan realisically, and while I feel like I'm making progress I don't have an actionable plan ready today, January 1. Also, much of this type of planning feels like what I am responsible for at work, which makes it a less attractive home activity.

So at the risk of sounding totally unoriginal and unrealistic, here are some 2008 goals / things to work towards:

  • TCB: Stop falling behind on routine, no-big-deal things that could turn into big problems with neglect. Stop turning things that are fun (like Holiday Cards?) into a chore. Stop turning small chores (putting away one load of laundry) into giant chores (putting away months worth of laundry).
  • Cut Back on Spending: I'm starting to plan a big trip in May that will be a lot more fun if I save up plenty of $$ in advance. I'm not talking about deprivation, just not spending on unnecessary things (like one more sock club) or things that add up but that I don't enjoy (like crappy take out lunches).
  • Get into a Healthy Exercise Routine: Three or four years ago, I was exercising regularly and weighed a fair amount less. I fell out of this habit during a period of job (or rather no job) related stress, and never quite got back into the habit. Again, my big trip in May will be a lot more fun if I am in better shape, and looking better than I do now won't hurt, either. Because there will be photographs.

Now the tricky part starts--the real planning and execution phase. I'm not sure how much I'll report on these goals in the general course of blogging, but I did want to put them "on paper" so that I have a checkpoint / reminder for myself going forward.