Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas Knitting is Done!

Thanks to good planning and an early start my Christmas knitting is officially done before December even got here. I had only two major projects to do this year but since I had extra yarn and extra time I made a bit more than originally planned.

1. Bath set - 1 knit rug, 4 hand towels and 8 wash cloths using Lily Sugar'n Cream Confectionery Colors Twists in denim.

2. Niece fun & cozy set - 1 Hearts & Flowers blanket to snuggle with and 2 awesome scarves for her dress up box using Patons Melody in magenta, hot pink and mango.

Yesterday I tried working on a GAAA square and it felt so forced I couldn't do it. I made a ton of stupid mistakes and then decided to just shelve it again until after January 1st. My mind just wasn't into cabling even though it was a sensible project to work on.

Instead I worked on my Mystery Stole 4 project. LOVE IT! I knitted non-stop last night for at least 3 hours and it never felt like work. This is how knitting should be! I'm sure I'll want a cabling project in the future but right now it's lace on the needles that feels right. My hopes are to work on this with little breaks for the charity blankets here and there until it's finished.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obsess Much?

While updating my queue in Ravelry and working to get organized I found that I have lots and lots of lace knitting planned. I live in a cold climate and I'm not exactly the type of girl that would wear lace often. Maybe a nice shawl or wrap for a wedding but that's about it. So I guess I need to figure out who in my life is going to get some of these beautiful projects in the future!

I do like knitting just to knit. I have several projects stored away for when the need to give a gift arises. That saves me from all of the deadline crazy knitting that I just don't work well with. I also like to use fun yarn to try out different patterns and those I end up finding good charities for.

Here's my problem: I've been knitting for about 8 years now and never made myself a sweater. I've made baby sweaters and one nice adult sweater so it's not intimidating to make one. I'm getting better at many of the techniques involved. I think I just keep waiting for me to magically lose 50 pounds so I can be fitted properly. Since that's not going to happen anytime soon, I'm going to add making a sweater for myself to my To Do list for 2009. It was probably on my list for 2008 . . .

Now I'm off to Ravelry to find "big girl" patterns and hope the the cost of yarn doesn't bankrupt me in the process.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Finished Object - Hearts & Flowers Blanket

I got so much done this weekend! Not only does my stash have a new, beautiful home but I was also able to finish my big Christmas project last night! The Hearts and Flowers Blanket for my niece is completely done, all the ends are woven in and the border is attached.

It's so girly, so fuzzy and so warm! I hope it's perfect for Saturday morning cartoons in the air conditioning!

This was my first project using lots of color work and I'm happy with the results. My only complaint for this pattern was the yarn amounts were off by for the non-main colors. That really wasn't fun to reorder yarn from 2 different places. There's no way I would have been able to even finish the second strip with the yarn amounts they recommended. I'm very disappointed with that part.

Now with the blanket done I do have a little yarn left over. I need to see exactly how much before I decide to make a cute scarf to match for her dress up box. I've got plenty of time before it needs to be mailed out so I'm off to Ravelry to start searching for the perfect pattern!

Pattern: Hearts & Flowers Blanket (ravelry link)
Yarn: Patons Melody in mango, hot pink and magenta
Needles: US size 15 straight & circular
Time frame: 9/25/08 to 11/17/08

Friday, November 14, 2008

I love my Stash and Ravelry!

This afternoon my parents and my husband moved an older china cabinet up into my office. I'm going to use this as yarn storage. We probably bought if from Wal-Mart about 7 years ago at a bargain price. I was beginning to run out of room in my bins and it was very difficult to see what I had already purchased. I would find myself purchasing new yarn and forgetting about the gorgeous yarn I already owned. Now I can see everything and get to anything I want easily:

This is the coolest thing ever!!!!!

Now it's like I have my very own yarn shop in my office! I tried to organize everything but I have a feeling I'll be updating it again soon. For the time being I just wanted to have my yarn visible and accessible.

This is the best part. My Dad was here and we had some time to waste before picking up my son from school so he helped me photograph each hank and upload it into my stash on Ravelry as we moved the yarn from bins to the cabinet. Cue the singing angels: Hallelujah!!!

Here's my stash.

Not only is this just cool to have, I can easily search within Ravelry to find patterns based on the yarn specifications. I'm in heaven! I have been wanting to do this for so long but just never had the time. I might even be able to help someone out with my leftover yarn that I put in the trade/sell category.

The yarn that I didn't upload to Ravelry is my scraps for teaching people how to knit and my charity yarn. I figured that can be saved for another day if needed. The cabinet isn't full so I have plenty of room to grow my stash if needed. Before I was struggling with bags of yarn stored all over the place. It feels so nice to be organized once again and it should be easy to maintain this with uploading pictures of new purchases.

My hope is to be able to knit for a while from my stash until the economy improves and this makes it so much easier and attractive to use yarn I already own!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Absent Minded

I finished knitting the third strip for the Hearts & Flowers Blanket last night. I just need to weave in the ends before I can start seaming them together. I'd show a picture but my battery charger for my camera is missing and I'm too lazy to grab my old clunker camera out of storage.

So weave in ends, seam up the three strips and then somehow magically knit on the border. I have no idea how this border is going to work because I don't have a circular needle big enough or long enough for the entire blanket. I may have to learn how to crochet for this one.

The good news is that I should have some yarn left over to make a fun matching scarf for my niece's dress up box. We'll see if time and yarn allows . . .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday Book Night

Yes I know it's Thursday but we tried something new last night and I wasn't sure if it was going to work. After our trip to London I remembered how much I love reading (no knitting needles on the flight back). I used to read for an hour and a half every day on my commute to work when we lived in Chicago. My favorite thing to do on road trips was to shop at old used book stores. My how times have changed!

Living in Central New York and having a 2 year old is simply wonderful. No commute since I work from home and having a very active son means my reading time is limited to stuff he likes to listen too. It's been challenging trying to find time to snuggle on the couch with a good book and still have time to knit as much as I'd like on my never-ending project list. My husband and I decided to try a new schedule to work within our new life together so now Wednesday is Book Night!

On the plane back from London I finished Eragon (Inhertitance) written by Christopher Paolini and I couldn't wait to get started on his next book in the series, Eldest (Inheritance). I don't have another trip scheduled in the near future so this was the driving factor for making a book night. I'd like to get our son on board too but last night was rough so we ended up watching Backyardigans and cuddling.

I had a hard time first reading Eragon because it reminded me so much of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Elves, Dwarfs and evil wizards were common between the two. The interesting new thread was the idea of Dragon Riders and how the legend becomes a reality. Now I've come to like how Paolini writes and I'm engaged with the characters in that I'm concerned enough to keep reading and see how things turn out for everyone. He's an amazing writer and it's crazy to think how good he is at such a young age. I can only imagine what kind of work he'll be doing in 30 years!

My husband and I both read last night and we found the Audio Visions XM channel (I think it was 856) was great for background music. No vocals and the music was relaxing but wouldn't put me to sleep. Overall I felt really good at the end of the night so I think we're going to keep Wednesdays as book night for the future.

Tonight it's back to the grind with my Christmas knitting!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Breathing Room

I am happy to say that I should have all of my Christmas knitting down before the end of this month. YAY for me! This is only because I took a realistic look at how fast I knit and shelved a few projects for birthdays. Plus it didn't hurt to start work on these well before September.

I just recently got back from a quick trip to London visiting friends. Not so much tourist stuff this time but it was very nice. I did a full yarn shop crawl and found three stores that I really liked thanks to Planet Purls' shopping guide for London. In order of shopping (not preference):

1. All the Fun of the Fair - Very tiny shop with limited yarn selection. It was more of a small hobby shop than a yarn shop but my friend did find some nice chunky yarn to make a couple scarves.

Leaving this shop and heading to the next one we were accosted by a random zombie mob with great costumes and make up. I had fun taking their pictures and screaming with horror!

2. Liberty of London - This was a full department store that had a section for sewing and knitting. Loved it except I was all hot and sweaty from the walk over there (silly fat American). I did buy some cashmere/merino yarn for my mother as a thank-you present for watching our son. I really liked the little table and chairs they had set up for just sitting and knitting while you watched the square traffic.

3. John Lewis - Another department store but wow, this must have been the headquarters for distributing Rowan yarn in London. I only wised I had enough room in my bag to buy a sweaters worth of yarn. Next time! BTW - The yarn department is right next to the toy department so it was perfect for entertaining my husband while I shopped. I had to go get him and tell him I was ready to go.

4. I Knit London - This was the main shop I wanted to visit. They have a liquor license so it would be perfect for us! I bought some beautiful Fyberspates silk lace weight there last year and I wanted to see what else they had. It turns out they're negotiating with a different lace vendor and didn't have any Fyberspate yarn. Buggar! I did end up buying some beautiful Malibrigo sock weight yarn - because sometime in the next decade I'd like to knit myself some socks:

Thankfully we had an uneventful flight back home AND when we got home our son's Halloween costume actually fit him! YAY! We took a few minutes and made a couple crowns for him so he could be a King and just hoped they would last the day. This is him all dressed up saying "I'm strong!"

Trick or Treating went so well we had to go back to our house and empty his pumpkin bucket so he could keep going. He had a great time and made us proud with his "THANK YOU!" after getting candy from each house. Not bad for a 2 year old . . .