Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Heck Yes!

I did not actually knit all of the yarn in the mile of downward slope there. I did however buy .5 miles of yarn, used .8 miles, and I managed to give away/put into the "to charity" pile the other .7 miles of yarn out this month, including some to a Raveler who needed it to finish a project. Will I be packing less than 30 miles of yarn to be shipped to the US? No. It'll get close though!

I'm keeping out 4,000 yards of cobweb weight yarn for my Summer of '12 project (a HUUUGE shawl to be knit while walking the Appalachian Trail), which is about 2.25 miles. I've got some bulky yarn that will either be a couple of cowls for the "random gifts" pile or will be in the "to charity" pile, but either way is not coming as yarn. I've also got two more months of knitting before I go, which may include nearly a mile of yarn that's already knit but not counted because it's in unfinished projects, but even if I knit as much yarn as I did this month, I'll only get it down to 31 miles at the lowest, and that doesn't count the stuff I'm going to finish spinning before I sell my wheel.

My sewing area is nearly all packed up and finished. Some last minute needed thread and zippers has caused a bit of a delay, so that should be done around January 34th. Maybe 36th. Soon! Productive month, I just gotta keep it up!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January Goals

I bought more yarn this month. I bought it to make pairs of thank-you socks for the people who wrote my letters of recommendation (successfully, I might add!). I'm also trying to play along with the Harry Potter House Cup (HPHC), so I have some very specific crafting goals each month until I leave Japan. There are quite a few different categories and ways to earn points for your house. You can earn points for a maximum of six classes out of eight offered, so each month I'm trying to get six classes (projects) done. These aren't necessarily knit or crochet only, they can include spinning, dyeing, and sometimes WIPs or non-Ravelry crafts like sewing. There's also Quidditch, with three Challenges, one project each month that must be knit within a specified amount of time with a minimum amount of yarn to fit a specific prompt, and the ability to turn in any projects that don't fit class prompts or are past the six (hah!) to earn more points.There's also Detention, a place to turn in WIPs for house points, OWLs, projects that will take 2 - 3 months, Order of the Phoenix missions, projects that take 1.5 - 2 months, NEWTs, projects that will take up to 4 months, and a variety of House projects and challenges. Slytherin has won the House Cup the last two terms, so are going for a hat trick (three in a row) and to celebrate, are encouraging Slytherins to knit hats, one per month for a personal hat trick or three per month for a hat trick of hat tricks.

I'm trying for the Slytherin Order of the Serpent First Class, an award within Slytherin (my house) for those who really try to KNIT ALL THE THINGS and EARN ALL THE POINTS. I'm sticking with stash and queue only, aside from the thank-you socks. This particular goal includes the maximum six classes per month, as well as participating in Detention, Quidditch, and the Head of House Challenge at least once, along with an OWL or NEWT and an Order of the Phoenix mission. Lee says that if everyone put as much effort into a Real World Problem as they do for the HPHC we'd cure cancer or world hunger or something. He may be correct.

For my six classes, I've got two pairs of thank-you socks, that vest I've been posting about, the penguin keychain, the quick coffee cozy, and all that sewing to close out my sewing area and sell my machine. The elephant and Totoro keychain were Detention projects that also fit the Head of House Challenge, the Pocket Creature was for Quidditch, and I'll be knitting Gwendolyn (already swatched and ready to go) for my OWL and Evendium for the Order of the Phoenix. It's more important to me to get the two sweaters done so I can wear them this year, so if I have to cut back on the class projects to finish, that's okay by me. Order of the Serpent Third Class is for Slytherins who did ten rather than 18 total classes, one assignment in each of the ten classes offered over the three-month term, so I'll be sure I can earn that as well as the Order of the Serpent Silver Serpent, which is for an OWL and an Order of the Phoenix project, if I can't get the big one.

Thus far, the vest is nearly done (needs about 3" over 19 sts for the colorwork to be done, then a wash/block before knitting on the neck and armhole edgings), one pair of socks is nearly done (past the gusset on the second), sewing is moving along (skirt and pillows done, a few box bags under way), and I need to start the last pair of socks for my last class and Gwendolyn for my OWL so I have a chance of finishing it on time. I had hoped to finish a sleeve this month, but I don't think that will happen! To complete the post with a picture, here is my Gwendolyn swatch and supplies, ready for knitting:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pocket Creature!

I love these guys! They keep your hands warm and are so adorable! I lost one of my purple ones last year, but finally replaced it due in part to trying to draw down my stash and queue for moving and mostly due to the Quidditch Challenge prompt for the Harry Potter House Cup. New Creature:

Pattern: Toasty Pocket Creatures (Rav)
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool, Royal Purple and Burnt Orange
Needles: US6/4.0 mm
Timeframe: January 16-21, 2012
Mods: None.
Problems: Gauge is a bit tight so the rice packet didn't fit nicely. Works okay though!
Obviously, I didn't have, or at least couldn't find, a matching button. I swear I bought a 3-pack and used two the first time...I wonder if I used the other one in another project sometime. Or something. Either way, I now have Creatures for both of my pockets, some more stash used up, and another long-queued project finished and crossed of my list.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I used keychains as gift tags this year, since the keychains would be particular enough to signify whose present was whose. The four keychains for my sisters came out quite nicely, even if I did get the last two done at the last minute, needle felting the eyes on just before finishing the elephant. Also, I found two more felting needles I didn't know I had in my stash. Would have been much more helpful a couple of weeks ago!

Pattern:  Mini Booties (Ravelry)
Yarn: CraftsMeow Banana Split in Kamikaze, love this yarn!
Needles: US1/2.25mm
Timeframe: October 11, 2011
Mods: None.
Problems: None.

Hook: 2.25mm/USB
Timeframe: September 21, 2011
Mods: None, unless you count the needle felted eyes
Problems: None

Pattern: Mini Totoro Keyring
Yarn: Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock (gray), Louet Gems Fingering (white)
Hook: 2.25mm/USB
Timeframe: September 21, 2011 - January 11, 2012
Mods: None, unless you count the needle felted eyes and nose
Problems: None

Pattern: Amigurumi Penguin Cell Phone Strap (Ravelry)
Yarn: KnitPicks Essentials (now Stroll) (black), Louet Gems Fingering (white), Louet Gems Fingering (Old Gold)
Hook: 2.25mm/USB
Timeframe: January 9 - January 11, 2012
Mods: Needle felted eyes, made it a keychain rather than cell phone strap, didn't use a different color for the body
Problems: None

Thursday, January 19, 2012

First 2012 Project!

First project I took from start to finish in 2012, a coffee cup cozy for my sister, also for the Potions homework in the Harry Potter House Cup, a Ravelry game I'm playing. The assignment was to make something quick out of materials you have on hand, so a quick cup cozy from stash was just the ticket!

Yarn: Patons Classic Wool
Needles: US8/5.0mm
Timeframe:January 7 - 8, 2012
Mods: None, mostly because this pattern is more of a recipe than a pattern. I followed the design, and then knit in pattern until it was just over 9".
Problems: None, except that it didn't say how long to make it, and I wasn't really sure how wide coffee cups are. I researched and couldn't find any reasonable answers, so this should be good enough! We tested it on this to-go mug and then later a Starbucks cup, which I believe are wider in the US, so it should fit around whatever size cup there is; it stretches a good amount and isn't too big either. Hope she gets to use it!

Still screwing it up...

The vest is GORGEOUS, I'm loving it, can't wait for it to be done which should be soon! I'm also working on a pair of socks, today that's the only project I have for reading e-mails, papers, and watching TED Talks at work. Of course, with three unplanned hours left in the day and over 2" into the sock, I realized that I was using a US6, which is the perfect size for most Worsted Weight yarns for this pattern, but this particular yarn is more of an Aran weight. It was going fairly slowly and felt a bit rough, problems that do not happen when using the correct size needle, US7. A needle I do not have with me:

Looks like I'll be getting ahead on my class planning and other paperwork for the rest of the day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I was so, so pleased with this project! I had decided to make a replacement earwarmer headband for my Mother in Law, as that is her preferred winter headgear. After Lee and I found a pattern and purchased yarn, she mentioned that she was interested in a headband or something, and I did a little happy dance - perfect present! So, I got to work on the lovely headband. She wanted it snug, so I knit the small size tightly:

Yarn: Classic Merino DK in Black, Clover Foresta in Pinks
Needles: US1/2.25mm
Timeframe: September 16 - October 31, 2011
Mods: A few, did a row of K2tog with the cast-on to fold up the initial hem, mirrored the pattern rather than making the opposite side different, made a hem on the second side too.
Problems: None, except the final snugness.
And promptly realized it was a bit too snug, unless her head was a bit smaller than mine! I'm quite happy with my colorwork, but wow look at that stretch!

With the remaining pink yarn and a new skein of black, I cast on for the larger size. This one turned out much better, though if it were me I might want a bit more room than that even:

Yarn: Anny Blatt Queen Anny in Black, Clover Foresta in Pinks
Needles: US1/2.25mm
Timeframe: October 23 - December 11, 2011
Mods: A few, did a row of K2tog with the cast-on to fold up the initial hem, mirrored the pattern rather than making the opposite side different, made a hem on the second side too.
Problems: None really.

Much better, and the double layer of stranded colorwork should be extra toasty. I don't particularly like my finished hem (dark pink side) on either of these. It tends to roll up. The cast-on hem was fine, but I think I should have used a smaller needle after the turning row to make it behave better. Oh well, should still work nicely!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

WIPs Today


Would be a bit further, but there was some major pattern errata that I didn't find at first, then was confused about and had to rip back. Not far, but still, I was flying through and it caused me to grind to a halt for a bit. The surprising thing was only one Ravelry project mentioned the problem with the chart, so I assumed it was someone who didn't really know what they were doing, especially since they mentioned it was their first Fair Isle. Apparently she was the only knitter (on Ravelry who knit this pattern) to notice the major difference between the model sweater and the chart, as well as how the chart is just...off...when knit. I suppose since it is Vogue the others could have thought that it was just a design quirk, but it does annoy me that my first Vogue pattern had these problems, also annoying that I had to wade through a lot of errata for that particular issue to learn that this one hadn't been found yet. I reported it, and even though I was annoyed by the setback, I think I'll love the finished product!


This month, I am organizing my sewing area for moving. In fact, it's about good to go at this point; all the fabrics I'm taking are in the drawers, and the only less-than-organized part is the notions/etc. drawer that will probably just get tossed into a small box because I'm pretty sure it's all going. I'm selling off my machine here instead of taking it too.

As part of the organization, I'm using up all of the Japanese fabrics that I have lying around. That's enough for two pillows, a billionty box bags (billionty = 13 in this case), two shirts*, a skirt, all the cloth button magnets I have supplies for, and a partridge in a pear tree. At least the sewing machine things I'm planning to finish this month, the magnets I'll probably work on next month.

*The shirts are wonderfully stretchy tank tops, a pattern I had so many problems downloading but that ended up being absolutely perfect. It's my bottom-most layer for hiking gear, functioning as a bra tank while having straps wide enough to not be uncomfortable under the backpack straps. I'm making an extra out of scraps in the next size down and I bought fabric for an even smaller one because I'm likely to lose a bit of weight on the trail and I had enough problems trying to find a good tank in the first place that I decided to make one, so I'd better have a supply on hand!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stuffed Things

I knit two stuffed things for my nephew, and one for me! First off, my Celestine, a finished object I love to death though I probably wouldn't knit it again. A bit more fiddly than it's worth, in my opinion:

Pattern: Celestine (Ravelry)
Yarn: Knit Picks Telemark in Columbine
Needles: US2.5/3.0mm
Timeframe: November 2 - 29, 2011
Mods: None.
Problems: Only that it was a more time-consuming knit than I'd anticipated. I thought I'd roll right through it and have a lovely finished product in a couple of days, maybe make a second one and give the blue one to my nephew. Nope! Took me most of a month!

What I actually made for my nephew for Christmas was a lovely little knitted ball from my Patons Classic Wool scraps, and inside I added a bell I found at the 100 yen shop so it rattles nicely:

Pattern: Braided Ball
Yarn: Various Patons Classic Wool scraps, under 15 grams per color, six colors.
Needles: US6/4.0mm
Timeframe: November 27 - 30
Mods: Did a 3-needle bindoff rather than sewing the strips together.
Problems: None, lovely little pattern, now I'd like to try a felted version!

And for his birthday, I have made the creepiest elephant ever, from a combination of bad yarn choices and running out of said bad yarn while knitting. Also breaking my last needle felting needle while felting in the last eye after midnight the night before it had to be on a 6:20 AM bus out the door so I didn't have to pay to ship it.

Pattern: Elephante (Ravelry)
Yarn: The last of my Navy and Bright Red Patons Classic wool, also some Rich Red
Needles: US4/3.5mm
Timeframe: November 30, 2011 - January 11, 2012
Mods: Braided rather than I-corded tail, used a popular ear modification, did odd things with the colors, used long tails from casting on as the sewing thread.
Problems: Only bad decisions and finishing it at the last-minute with one last needle felting needle, from the 100 yen store no less. Of course it was going to break, I knew it the minute I realized I only had one left!

See what I mean about the odd color scheme?
He is adorable from this angle though!

Found My Mojo!

I had minimal interest in things like knitting for most of November and December. Typically, I have something around all the time so if I'm walking, sitting at the lunch table conversing after I've finished my meal, reading papers, waiting in line, or any number of things that allow for my hands to be moving, I'm knitting. The last two months, not so much. I still got some stuff done, but not nearly as much as I should have, and nothing compared to October.

This month, however, I'm going strong. Whether it's the fact that I'm participating in the Harry Potter House Cup on Ravelry, the fact that we're in the final stretch of Japan and PhD applications are in, the fact that we're moving soon so the stash must be smaller, or the fact that I'm knitting selfishly until a few projects are done, I'm not sure. Probably a combination. Either way, I've finished a few things already this month, have plans for more, and have a very good start on a vest for me for work:

That's about 7" of the 12" of ribbing for the Rib and Fair Isle Vest I'm working on. It has ribbing up to the under bust and then colorwork on top, a nice cute little vest that works with stash yarn and seems to be working up quickly - maybe I can even wear it while there's snow on the ground!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Win Some, Lose Some

I'm on the way out of Japan, less than three months, so it's time to really crack down on all the crafts I've got lying around. I used up some glass jars making mint hot fudge for relatives for Christmas:

If you're looking for a good basic hot fudge, one that thickens when it hits the cold ice cream, I highly recommend this one. You can add the mint or change it to any other flavor you want to make delicious orange, raspberry, or just plain vanilla flavoring. Delicious! This one was a win.

Next up, I wanted to use a candle making kit I had in the closet. The instructions clearly show you drilling a hole in the bottom of an egg shell, sticking up the wick through the hole, and I suppose praying. I was a bit skeptical, but figured it'd work.

Instead of the wick and metal bit creating a seal in the bottom of the egg, the wick fell out of the metal bit, creating a hole for all the wax to spill out. I re-melted the wax and made paper cup candles instead of egg candles, but was a bit annoyed by the instructions. Next time, metal bit goes inside the egg, with no holes!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2011 Sock Roundup

Socks I finished in 2011 but never blogged:

Pattern: Thuja from Knitty (Ravelry)
Yarn: Random Scraps of Pierrot Drifting Colors
Needles: US6/4.0mm
Timeframe: June 25 - 30, 2011
Mods: None.
Problems: None. Love this pattern so, so, so much!
Pattern: Thuja from Knitty (Ravelry)
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in Black
Needles: US6/4.0mm
Timeframe: June 9 - 30, 2011
Mods: None.
Problems: None. Love this pattern so, so, so much!

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish DK in Hollyberry
Needles: US4/3.5mm
Timeframe: September 1 - 17, 2011
Mods: None.
Problems: Nice pattern, but the yarn may not have been the best choice. Seems as though it will fuzz and pill and obscure the lovely cables fairly quickly, since it was starting to do so while I was knitting it. Oh well, they will be nice and comfy, even if they won't be gorgeous for too long!
Pattern: Wedge (Ravelry)
Yarn: Fleece Artist BFL, Loopy Ewe Sock Club May 2010
Needles: US1.5/2.5mm
Timeframe: September 13 - October 31, 2011
Mods: None.
Problems: Kind of a lot, mostly just because this pattern is deceptively complex - it looks and is very simple, but if you don't keep a careful count of stitches and short rows, you will have to rip back. Multiple times. Like me. I didn't love either this pattern or the yarn in the skein, but wow, is it wonderful knit up! I loved it so much I considered keeping the socks! I must get myself some Fleece Artist BFL, as soon as I have less yarn. So, like, in a decade?
I finished another pair and a single sock that I am counting as done, but those are test knits so I can't show them off yet. Lovely socks though! I also knit one Rhiannon, two Treetop Socks (though I need to re-knit one), one other test knit sock that needs its mate, and that black sock. Methinks I have enough carry-around projects to last me until I leave Japan!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 Goals?

Should I even make any this year? I'll be packing up and moving in a couple of months. What should I be working on until then?

I'll be selling my spinning wheel here instead of bringing it and possibly getting it damaged, so spinning the white Corriedale, dyeing it, and plying it is one goal. I have a sweater picked out for the bulky yarn I'm spinning up, so maybe I'll get to that, or maybe that will be my plane ride project.

I still have a bunch of Worsted Weight yarn that has lovely patterns chosen, I just need to knit them up and wear them. Since there's still some cold months ahead, I'll probably be focusing on that to slim down the yarn I'll pack.

I won't have my stash with me from April through August, just some cobweb weight yarn, so I need to choose the pattern for that project and whittle down my WIPs so I can start fresh with my stash when we meet again next fall.

I have three months and roughly two years' worth of knitting I want to do. This probably won't work. I'm just going to take it as it comes and see where I get!