Monday, February 28, 2011

February Tally

Well, I didn't get anything done for the 12 in 2012 stash knitting group.  I did get one done for the LSG11ty group, which surprised me, but I also didn't get any done for Christmas knitting.  Instead, I knit nearly a mile on two projects from my stash that I'll probably finish in March, and a bit on my blanket.  However, my abysmal yarn total for this month (tallying the yarn I've used up) is mostly due to the fact that I really, really, really wanted to cross stitch, so I did.

When things get frustrating and crazy, I gravitate to cross stitch.  The methodical nature of it, the fact that it's something you have to pay attention to but isn't technically difficult, and the way the design just kind of appears on the fabric, especially once you add the backstitching, really calls to me when I need a calming distraction.  A lot of knitting just doesn't do that.  I think a fairly simple sock in some amazing variegated colorway might give a good bit of the same soothing relief, but I'd probably autopilot it while reading or watching a movie, rather than being enthralled with the colors.  I very much enjoy watching the yarn colors change, stitch by stitch, but it isn't something that grabs me and makes me sit down and concentrate like counting the stitches on the plain background does.  I usually have to be already relaxed to enjoy it, rather than using it as a relaxation technique.  Any knitting that makes me sit down and pay attention the way cross stitching does is likely to be a somewhat difficult and will add to, rather than subtract from, the blood pressure level.

So I stitched, and finished three ornaments.  Well, mostly - I still need to glue on a pretty paper backing and cut them out.  I was getting worried about catching the edges of the perforated paper and wanted to start cutting out the completed ones so I didn't royally screw them up, but the paper became more friendly the longer I worked with it.  Three (just about) down, 15 to go, three of which will be easily finished next time I pick it up.

For now, I'll be frantically trying to finish my socks so I can wear them and the lace so I can send it off when I'm in the US (and pay less than an arm and a leg for shipping).  Sadly, the probably over 3 miles I'll be subtracting from the stash in March by finishing these and the in-progress Christmas scarf will be lessened if not negated by the Christmas Knit Picks order soon to be added.  If only the embroidery floss was counted in my stash...actually, it's a good thing it's not - I'm sure I'd at least double the mileage, probably more if I counted each strand separately!

Right now, I have barely over 35 miles of yarn.  I went back and figured out what I had at the beginning of August to give me another data point in that long stretch between January and October.  I only finished the Aran Afghan between August and October, so I subtracted the yarn I brought back from the US and added all the skeins of blanket yarn to the October numbers.  I did the same but left in all the yarn I got in the US to get a September number.  I used just under three miles of yarn for that blanket - and my yarn total still went up!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I started knitting Absinthe way back in July of 2009, on a summer trip to Bali.  It was a great trip, and these socks should have been a nice, fast, appropriate vacation knit.  However, I have a fairly high instep. My heel flaps tend to be longer than most patterns call for (except Hedera) and short row heels do not work for me, so toe-up socks are typically not my cup of tea.  This pattern was just so gorgeous, and the yarn I had so perfect for it, that I had to knit it anyway!

After my first attempt, I ripped back, re-figured what should be where (check out Ravelry for knitting details), and then put them down when other projects were new! shiny! and needing the same needles.  After the Rhiannon annoyance and before ordering more yarn, I wanted a different traveling project for a few days so I could decide what to do.  Instead of starting a new project (always a draw) I chose to grab something from the WIP pile to plod towards the goal of using my yarn.

The first sock went pretty quickly, being halfway through the foot chart, and took a bit to figure out what to do with the cuff.  A cabled I-cord looked great, but even going up a full millimeter in needles didn't allow the sock to go over my instep, and larger needles would make it start to look ridiculous.  I suppose I could do some extra I-cord rows that don't knit with a leg stitch to increase the circumference, but I decided to stop playing with I-cord and did 1/2" of 2x2 ribbing as called for in the pattern.  The cabled edge looked great though:

One sock down, I went to check my stash to see how much I'd be using if I were to finish the pair this month.  300 yards, not bad.  300 yards, if I'd put that yarn into my stash instead of putting it into the project page only.  D'oh!  I realized I did the same thing with the other skein of Wild Fire Fibers Cyrus (for Blooming), put it directly into the project it was used for and never entered it when I was putting my stash into Ravelry as it was in the WIP basket, not on the shelves.  I've added it into my stash totals, bringing the total up another nearly half mile to just under 35.5 miles, and with the additional Cascade Heritage, the Rios I purchased along with it, and the Knit Picks Christmas order waiting for me in March, I think my goal may just be to get it below 30 miles before leaving Japan!

Rhiannon WIP

So.  I'm working on the gorgeous Rhiannon socks.  I'm pleased with my progress; getting them done by March 9 (finishing on the plane ride) seems to be perfectly reasonable.  I'm done with the cuff of the first one, have the pattern for the leg all set up and am nearly two inches into it.  Except.  The yarn...there seems to be roughly one average sock (6" leg) left in the first skein.  I am only 2" below my knee for a top-down sock.  Something is not right.

Check Ravelry - yeah, the maximum yarn called for is only about 50 yards more than I have, and I'm knitting the middle calf size, so it should not be a problem!  I have checked this before to make sure my two skeins, originally for German Stockings, would be enough.  I checked some specific projects using Cascade Heritage, the same yarn I'm using.

They all used a third skein.


Here's an idea - check the PATTERN.  Oh crap.  Minimum yarn is about 50 yards more than I have, and I am definitely not knitting the smallest possible sizes!

Thankfully, I've got another skein coming in, and I can start the second and stripe the legs with the new skein for both socks if the dyelot is off.  Still hoping to wear these in March, but we'll see when the yarn gets here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

My husband likes video games, and Portal is one of the more enjoyable ones he's played.  I came across a pattern that seemed correct for the Companion Cube from the game, and with the hearts decorating the box, it seemed to be the perfect Valentine's Day gift.  I've already blogged its beginnings and the major problem, so here's the finished product:

Yarn: Multiple scrap yarns from various projects, mostly acrylic WW.
Hook: USF/3.75mm
Timeframe: February 5 - 13, 2011
Mods: None really, crocheted the pieces together and used a flat cushion cut to fit rather than loose stuffing.
Problems: Ran out of the gray yarn.

I did manage to finish this on the 13th and as I wake up slightly earlier than he does, I put it on his desk so it was waiting for him on Valentine's Day, along with a candy he enjoys that is not readily available here.  The different grays I had to use are not all that noticeable, so while I was originally considering ripping and re-crocheting those squares when I can get more of that yarn, I think I'll just leave it as-is, 100% finished.

One of the other major pluses of this project was that I learned how to make a nice crocheted seam!  I've used a crocheted seam on blankets before, but always using the method of putting the wrong sides together and crocheting through both pieces, which makes a nice crocheted line but also leaves a "wrong side" line of stitching next to the seam.  Not pretty when you're making contrasting seams or want it to be perfectly perfect.  With this project, I learned that if you put the pieces to be seamed next to each other and pass your hook through the right sides of both pieces you're seaming rather than right side of one and wrong side of the other, you get a gorgeous crocheted seam with the "wrong side" line on the actual wrong side!

I love that I've been knitting and crocheting for a number of years and have gotten pretty good at it, but still manage to learn something new on many projects.  I love how my work keeps looking better and better with the little techniques I pick up from the internet crafting community!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lady Scarlet

I've had these gloves on the needles since November of 2009.  That's awhile.  This year, I am trying to get down to no yarn WIPs.  No way I'll finish the cross stitches I've got going on, but reasonable to attempt to finish all WIPs and Christmas presents in 2011.  This one was for LSG11ty as well, as that's how I'm holding myself accountable for my WIPs.  I'm going to rotate between new (12in2011) and old (LSG11ty) projects as a traveling project, and my first finished traveling project was gloves, so my hands can be warm in this very snowy winter:

Pattern: Lady Sunshine (Ravely only)
Yarn: Cascade Heritage in Red, 60% of a skein
Needles: US1.5/2.5mm
Timeframe: November 28, 2009 - January 31, 2011
Mods: None
Problems: My flat knitting gauge is ever-so-slightly tighter than it should be, and I was an idiot and slipped the first stitch on every row for the second glove, so picking up the stitches isn't as nice as it should be.  Finally finished though!

Somewhat blurry pictures, but really nice gloves and I'm really happy to finally have a nice pair of handknit gloves in rotation!  I've also got enough yarn left that adding it to the second skein, I should be able to make a pair of German Stockings, sweet!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nearly All My Bases Covered

In taking stock of my current WIPs, I noticed that I had one of nearly everything - one cabled, one colorwork, and one easy knit, along with one crochet project and one cross stitch project.  Just about whatever I could want.  Towards the top of my to-knit queue, there's some simple socks (which I nearly cast on for recently, when I thought the Rhiannon Socks might be too challenging to be my travel project), another work vest I just purchased the pattern for because Vogue is running a pattern sale right now, and a lace square that I'd like to make for my sister as a possible christening wrap for her baby and a shawl she can use at her wedding, a sentimental heirloom of sorts.  It was also the perfect project for some undyed Knit Picks Bare laceweight that's been in my stash since a year or two before Japan.  Time to move it along!

Of course, I immediately realized I had no lace ongoing.  In my natural state of knitting on all the things at once (or at least, all the things I have needles for), did I pull out the second-oldest project from my WIP basket to finish it?  Of course not!  I started a new lace project, Spanish Armada, after realizing I'd have to make a trip out and about if I want the same yarn to finish the Cube. 

It's not too far along yet, just the first chart, but I think it'll be amazing when it's done!  I'm Magic Loop-ing until it's large enough to work all on the needle.  I'll be switching out the Print O'the Wave pattern for probably a solid or nearly solid small design to break up the two patterns, and then go on to the final pattern and find some sort of knitted on edging to finish it off with.  I don't like the wave pattern and I also have a bit less yarn than called for, so I'd rather cut that one out and find a nice edging to knit on instead.  I might just shrink it a lot instead.  And keep the original edging.  Who knows?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oh NO!

In my last post, I showed off my scrap Companion Cube.  I had two possible sets of yarn in the correct colors, one wool, one acrylic, and since I'd rather use up the acrylic and save the wool for projects where wool is required, I chose acrylic.  Getting to the large dark gray body of the Cube, I checked my stash on Ravelry and noticed I had 1.19 skeins, so I figured as long as I was able to get a chunk of the second of eight corners done from the partial skein, I'd be fine.

I didn't realize until much later (when running out of yarn fairly quickly) that I actually had 1 skein and 19 ounces left.  Clerical error.  These skeins are, in fact, only 40 oz skeins, so I actually had nearly 1.5 skeins.  Therefore, the nearly two squares I'd gotten from the partial skein were not even close to what I needed to get out of it for a full eight squares.  I've got just over 6 done.

No problem, I'll just go to the dollar store and grab another skein, I'll only need one more.  Except here, they are highly seasonal and the stock is not ever something you want to bet on at any craft store.  The only color of that brand left in stock is yellow.  Yellow is not dark gray.  I went to the nearby dollar store - no luck.  The craft store near there - no luck.  I think I'll have to hit up one or two more tomorrow or Saturday, and finish everything else up as fully as possible in order to finish on time.  Worst case scenario, I have to use my wool, different fiber and a couple shades darker, but it will work for this Valentine's Day at least, and I can always rip and re-do those last couple squares when the store has the correct yarn in again.  This tends to be a staple yarn and even a different dye lot would almost certainly be closer to the shade of the rest of it than the wool is.

Stupid last-minute projects that are supposed to be cute and quick and easy.  I was so pleased with how everything's coming out, the hearts are all nicely shaped (contrary to what the picture seems to show) and sewn onto their circle backings, my tension didn't change between pieces, I got a nice square of foam to cut into the correct size so that the cube is actually cube-shaped, and then I run out of yarn.  D'oh!

Monday, February 7, 2011

WIPs? Yes.

As can be seen from the sidebar, I have WIPs.  Quite a few, really.  Technically, a bunch of them are really UFOs, Un-Finished Objects, because of how long it's been since I've touched them.  Of the 16 current projects that are in some stage between casting on and finishing, I've worked on five in the past couple of weeks, which is a pretty good number.  Especially since I've also finished two other projects, one started and finished, in the past month.

I'd been in a cross stitching mood for a bit, so pulled out a barely-started kit of Christmas ornaments on perforated paper.  Out of the four cross stitches in my sidebar, this one requires the least work, so I'm hoping to finish it this year and it will be my go-to project whenever I get the stitching bug.  It's not all that far along, with two almost finished ornaments and another one barely started:

I keep a project in my traveling bag for, well, traveling, as well as reading papers and during lunch at work.  Since my Lady Scarlet gloves are finished, I started some Rhiannon Socks, a gorgeous cabled design by Cookie A.  I'm doing this project as part of 12 in 2011, having both the yarn and pattern in my stash, and for the Loopy Ewe Challenge, so my goal is to finish by March 31.  I'd also like to wear them with a skirt during the Purdue Open House I'm attending in early March, and I'll have the plane ride there to attempt to finish, but with the rate thus far, I'm not sure I'll make it!  These socks are absolutely stunning but quite fiddly.  I'm partway through the cuff of the first one, and because it's a foldover cuff, you're cabling on the wrong side, so it's not all that pretty to look at while knitting thus far.  Also, with 200 stitch rows, it's not growing all that quickly!

In addition to that one, I decided to make Lee a Portal Companion Cube for Valentine's Day.  I started that one during a day of presentations, and of course I'm not working on it at home, so I'm hoping to get it done while reading papers this week.  At least the components.  Lee has to work on Saturday while I don't, so I can always finish it up then.  I would like it to be nearly finished before then so I can bake a cake as well.  It's going fairly quickly, so it is a very reasonable goal.  As long as the seaming doesn't kill me, like it typically does for stuffed things!

I'm trying to get Christmas presents done a little at a time this year, so I've already purchased just about all of the yarn I believe I'll need, and started the first of many presents.  The goal for 2011 was to get two Christmas gifts done per month, one 100% stash project for 12 in 2011, and one WIP for LSG11ty.  In January, I failed on the Christmas gift front, though I did finish three LSG projects and two for 12 in 2011 so I'm ahead of the game overall even if I'm behind in one specific category.  Everyone's getting illusion projects this year, scarves for my sisters, wall hangings for my aunts, and I'm starting with the scarves.  I have the first scarf almost halfway finished and I've perfected my left-handed purling thanks to the Norwegian purl, yay!  It's the Dark Mark Scarf, and coming out very well if I do say so myself:

Finally, my evening project is the huuuuuuuuge blanket I've mentioned quite a few times before, but have not yet photographed in its final design permutation.  The Norwegian purl is helping me to do the back-and-forth stranded knitting required on many rows.  Why back and forth, why did I not just work this in the round and steek?  Well, it's the intarsia I'm using on ever-so-much of it.  Sure, you can in fact do intarsia in the round if you need to, by doing sections back and forth or fiddling with your yarn, but that's only useful if you're making something like a hat that you don't want to seam but want an intarsia motif.  The level of intarsia going on in this project meant that the best method was back-and-forth, like it or not for the stranded areas.  It is turning out great and will be just stunning when blocked:

The back, in all its glory:

And that's my WIP roundup, or at least the ones that have been worked on recently.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

FO: Bramblewood Vest

Wooohooo, after years of having the yarn, knowing which patterns I want to knit, and being cold at work, I finally have the first of a week's worth of work vests done.  I'm not in love with this one - I think the next size up until after the bust would have worked better for me, and maybe a bit longer, but it works well enough for me to wear it and be warmer!

Pattern: Bramblewood Vest (Ravelry)
Yarn: Recycled marled wool of some sort.  Spit splices well!
Needles: US8/5.0mm for the body, US10/6.0mm for the I-cord
Timeframe: October 3 - November 14, 201
Mods: Some.  I started the front cables at the same row in the chart the back cables were at and lowered the hip shaping to 10" from neckline.
Problems: Only that the top is too snug.  I should have knit a bigger size through the bust.  I would recommend binding off the top of the armhole very loosely, mine is a bit tight.

I was hoping to finish off the available yarn, the marled wool I'd recycled from a GoodWill sweater a few years ago, but I still have a bit of that left.  Much less than I did, but more than I want leftover, especially since my major gripe of this sweater is that it's a bit small around the bustline.  Ah well, not a big enough gripe to rip allllll the way back and re-knit, or re-knit and graft for this top-down vest.  I would have liked it a bit longer as well, but not a whole repeat longer, and I didn't want only half a repeat, so left it at the length it's at.

Ignore the rumpled shirt - I checked the front before photographing, didn't think to check the back!

Transforming yarn from stash to wardrobe is always a plus, especially when it's bulkier yarn like this worsted weight wool.  I still have a LOT more stash than I should now, but this is a step in the right direction!  Pay no attention to that Loopy Ewe package over there...or the Knit Picks order I'll be picking up in March...yarnflow is supposed to be in the out-of-stash direction.....of course there's no influx....of course....