Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sushi for the New Year

Is there any room in the house that can't be improved by knitting?

My own bathroom won't enjoy the presence of my festive knitting for very long, but since I have this great tile, I have to work in as many pictures as possible. This Sushi Toilet Paper Roll Cozy is my most recent finished objects, and one of the last must-complete Christmas presents, just in time for its recipient to come visit. Who wouldn't want a knitted and crocheted toilet paper cozy that looks like sushi?

This is where I used the acrylic yarn. Not even the most natural fiber obsessive knitter would use the good stuff for a toilet paper cozy. At least I wouldn't.

Now I'm trying to decide what will be my New Year's project to start tomorrow. I'll have to look around tonight and see what I have. I'm wearing last year's New Year's Day project, so perhaps I should think ahead to next December when I make my choice.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Catch-up

We've been all over the place this last week, and so has the thermometer. Last Tuesday, we had a scary drive to Kentucky, watching cars spin out behind us, thanks to the beginning of an ice storm which eventually closed roads all over the Midwest. Yesterday, we came back down for a wedding - in 70 degree weather. They had to open windows in the church to keep it cool enough. That's my idea of what winter should be - 70 rather than 80 is cool enough.

I didn't have to handle the icy roads myself, because Aaron has kindly been doing all the driving so I can knit. So far I've finished three holiday projects, and I'm making good progress on some of the others.

This was the first - the Jacques Cousteau hat for Aaron. I didn't work on this one in the car, although I have so much knitting around right now that I don't think it would have ruined the surprise. I left it out a couple times, and Aaron never asked, "hey, is that bit of hat in the giant pile of yarn and half-finished projects for me?" Sometimes clutter makes life easier.

I thought this would be a good pattern for him - it's simple, but has this funky decrease pattern on top to keep it interesting. It's long enough to keep his ears warm, too.

I think he likes it.

This hat hasn't gone to it's new home yet, but I hope its new owner will be pleased. This is Wavy Gravy IV, although it's the third one I've finished. Wavy Gravy II went to Aaron's mother, and I think she likes it. What's not to like about a hat made from a single ball of really nifty yarn? Did I mention that these things are fast to knit, too?

I finished this one on Christmas Eve, just in time to give to my mother the next day. It's Thorpe, made from Patons Shetland Chunky yarn. I think the sizing was a little off - the brim comes down over my ears, so the earflaps aren't really necessary. But they're fashionable, right? And you can't go too far in trying to keep ears warm - especially for my mother.

So for the record, that's four projects finished, and no new ones started. But I'm thinking about doing Sock Madness III, so I'll need all the project slots I can get. And I'd really, really like to have a lighter knitting bag for our next trip.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Knitting Goals

With the Solstice, it's time to review my progress on my summer knitting goals. I'm afraid it's not very pretty.

Of the original 26 things on the list, I finished 7. And one of those is not doing anything:

Amanda's Sockday Socks
Avoid the temptation to cast on "Isabella" until I've finished the Kauni Cardigan
"Hope" socks, in time for November
Preemie caps for any remaining primaries
Deliver the IN preemie caps
My Hogwarts kit, for the swap
Join the SP12 swap

To be fair, I did one of these twice - I've been through two Hogwarts kits since I made the list. I don't know how much of a difference that makes, but I'll take whatever Joy in Finishing I can find.

I also added two projects - the Gunnister Pouch and the Hufflepuff Head Wrap - to the list. So that gives me 9 out of 28. There were also some lovely projects that didn't make the list, but since the whole point of setting the goals is to finish them, I'm not going to count those.

The list of leftovers is starting to look pretty familiar:
  1. Finish the Dog Sweaters
  2. Travelling Socks, if I can figure out how to knit them
  3. Reversai Socks
  4. Lickety Split socks (in time for my birthday, although I probably won't need them then)
  5. The Red Scarf
  6. Finish the Kauni Cardigan in time to wear next fall
  7. Other Obama charity knitting
  8. My Wedding Shawl
  9. Fiber Fish mittens
  10. Bavarian Strolling socks
  11. Sidewinders socks
  12. Bulgarian Rose socks
  13. Cotton socks
  14. Coriolis socks
  15. The "Walkies" pattern
  16. Nordic Socks
  17. March/April Sock Club socks
  18. May/June Sock Club socks
  19. Something fun - preferably with a fish!
I didn't finish any of these. I didn't even start some of them. And some of them have been on the list ever since I started making lists.

So this time around, I'm going to do something different - the Winter WIP Workdown. Starting today, I must finish two projects for every one I cast on. Here are the details:

  • There is only one exception. I will start a new project on New Year's Day, no matter what. Anything else - including gifts or swaps - has to be accounted for in the two-for-one scheme.
  • A project cast on during this time can count toward the finished total.
  • This will continue until Summer, or until I get rid of all of the WIPs.
  • Frogging counts as finishing, provided I really do frog and re-skein the yarn.
  • Here is the list of projects I have on Ravelry right now. I'm using this list as a rough guide, but if I come across any unfinished projects they can go into the pool.
  1. The Unoriginal Hat, for Charity
  2. Walkies I, the dog sweaters
  3. Sushi toilet paper cozy
  4. Calorimetry
  5. Thorpe hat
  6. Wavy Gravy Hat #4
  7. Snowflake ornament
  8. Jacques Cousteau Hat
  9. Wavy Gravy Hat #3
  10. Wavy Gravy Hat #2
  11. Christmas Garland Socks
  12. Versatility
  13. "Flowing" Moebius Scarf
  14. Boo the Bat
  15. Chain of Hearts socks
  16. Year of the Rat socks
  17. Nordic Socks
  18. Fiber Fish mittens
  19. Kauni Cardigan
  20. Wedding Shawl
  21. Red Scarf
  22. Bulgarian Rose socks
  23. Reversai Socks
  24. Herakles Coriolis socks
  25. Snowdrop Shawl
  26. Traveling Socks
  27. Pomatomus
  28. Bavarian Strolling socks
  29. Granny Square afghan
  30. Sunrise Circle Jacket
  31. Sidewinders socks
  32. Lana Grossa cardigan
  33. Belle Epoque sweater
I think I'm going to have to hope for a lot of snowdays!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Great Acrylic Invasion of 2008

I am a fiber snob. After one too many cute little outfits invaded my childhood, polyester will not darken my door. I own no itchy acrylic sweaters. When I can get away with it, I rip the acetate linings out of jackets. And I'm looking for a good source of silk stockings to replace nylons.

It should go without saying that I do most of my knitting with natural fibers. I once made an acrylic hat for a baby, but that was because my LYS didn't have any wool baby yarn in black - and I left the extra yarn in the charity pile as soon as I could get it out of my house. Generally, I stick with as natural as I can, even accepting darning as a small price to pay to avoid the loss of warmth one gets when blending nylon into sock yarn.

Somehow, all that has changed in the last week or so. Four skeins of mostly-acrylic yarn have crossed my threshold, all with my permission. And with my money - I bought them, on purpose.

Everything you see here is destined to be a gift for someone else. I'm making a Sushi Roll Toilet Paper Cozy for a friend, a Thorpe hat for my mother, and Calorimetry for my mail carrier. For all of them, I chose to buy the acrylic yarn because it's easy to care for. Well, I also didn't want to use the good stuff for something that sits on the back of the toilet, but for the most part I'm thinking of the recipient's needs.

I've cast on everything at once for two reasons. First, it's the easiest way to make sure I bring along all the needles and yarn I need - I can't forget them if they're attached to each other. Second, today's my last chance to freely cast on new projects. I'm cutting back starting tomorrow. So this is sort of the knitting equivalent of a bachelor party.

This is the last project I started tonight - a fourth Wavy Gravy hat. This one is going to be a gift for a specific person - as opposed to the other two, which may become gifts if I figure out who needs them. Starting tomorrow, I'll be finishing projects, not starting them. And I hope I'll finish a lot of projects before Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

School's out!

I've finished my projects for the semester, which included the most depressing paper I've ever written, and after tonight I'll only have three more hours of work before Christmas. So I've had a chance to catch up on some knitting.

For the most part, I'm catching up on casting on. I'm going to cut back on starting projects after the Winter Solstice, so I'm trying to build up a reserve of works in progress that will get me through any Christmas needs.

I've even finished one project - Wavy Gravy Hat #2, my emergency knitting from last week's Knit Night. There's a good chance this will wind up being somebody's Christmas present, although I don't know who would get it. They're so much fun to knit that I may be bestowing hats on strangers, just so I have an excuse to make more!

Like Wavy Gravy #1, this hat used a single ball of Noro Kureyon. I had a little bit more yarn left over this time, probably because I used Size 7 needles instead of Size 8. Since I had to buy Emergency Needles to go with the Emergency Yarn, I didn't want to buy a set in a size I knew I already had.

I've nearly finished this - a snowflake ornament. It will need some pretty heavy blocking before it looks good. I thought about making several of these as gifts, but I don't know if I'm that happy with them, and I hate to go to a lot of trouble to do handmade things that won't be appreciated. But at least I'll have something handknit on my Christmas tree, which seems appropriate.

I've finished the bookmark, and it's on its way to Angelina Phoenixfire. I even wound up with a long enough band that I have a spare bookmark, so I'll have to hope I get a Gryffindor pal in the next round of the Hogwarts Swap - or else I'll have to cultivate friends who like warm colors.

Hmmm...I wonder if handmade bookmarks would be good Christmas presents? I have a lot of perle cotton!

I've also added to my yarn collection - this is going to become a Calorimetry headband for my mail carrier, if I get a chance to work on it. She's always very friendly to the dogs, even though they fight with each other when she comes, so I want to do something nice for her.

And I have more projects in progress. This Colour 4 Me yarn is in the process of becoming another Wavy Gravy Hat.

And this Cascade 220 is going to be a Jacques Cousteau Hat.

My friend Kerry has spent the past couple of months knitting hats for absolutely everyone on her Christmas list. I don't think I'll manage that, but she's inspired me to try to have a few handmade hats in the Christmas stash. Eight days to go - how much knitting can I do?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I don't have much new knitting, so I'll show off some other projects here - things that are for other people, but I'll just hope they aren't reading this and I'm not spoiling any surprises.

This is my bookmark for the Hogwarts Bookmark Swap. The swap is intended to give us a little something to do now that Term 6 is over. We could do anything we wanted for the bookmarks, so I decided to card weave mine for a change of pace. I wanted to have some little cards in order to avoid waste, so I made these from a cardboard box - they're about 1.5" on a side. The bookmark will be about 1" wide, and is made from perle cotton. My recipient is a Gryffindor, so that's why I picked the colors. The nicer part of the pattern is actually on the other side - somehow things got all twisted around when I put it on the loom.

And this is the project that's been keeping me entertained at work - enclosures for the Knitters for Barack Obama holiday card exchange. I printed out 2" squares with the Obama logo on a color laser printer, and now I'm using directions from Home Decorating with Origami to make the stars. Originally I thought about trying to incorporate the stars into a homemade card, but decided that was way too ambitious - even with commercial cards, I'll be lucky to get any Christmas cards out before New Year's!

I hope that the next few days bring me back to my regularly scheduled knitting. I'm sure Aaron hopes the next few days bring me back to my not-so-regularly-scheduled housecleaning.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Merry Christmas Meme

I stole this Christmas meme from Amanda. Since I'm not finishing knitting or getting much decorating done, this is my best shot at some Christmas spirit for now.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper. I've tried to be good and use newspaper and such, but I've learned that I really like the festive sight of a pile of gaily wrapped packages under the tree.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Artificial. Absolutely. Always. Have you ever read Hans Christian Andersen's "The Fir Tree?" I don't recommend it. I'd cry all month if I brought a real dead tree into the house. Do not, in the name of all that is holy, ever read this story to your children! Ever. I'm surprised I can still celebrate Christmas.

3. When do you put up the tree?
The weekend after Thanksgiving. "When do you decorate the tree?" seems to be another question, one that I can't answer yet.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Twelfth Night - or just after, if I have a Twelfth Night party.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Real eggnog, yes. The stuff from the stores is an ok drink, but I'd be ashamed to say that I liked something so fake.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Hmmm...that's tough. One year my brother and I got a pedal-powered car as a joint present. That was pretty darned cool.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Aaron's parents. I want to get them something nice, but don't want to fill their house up with stuff they don't need.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Karen. There are a couple things she collects, so it's easy to follow the theme.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. It was a gift from Aaron's parents.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. But sometimes they're New Year's cards.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
A "Sorry" game. The givers couldn't have known, but that had become the favorite among some members of my family, and I was positively sick of it.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
White Christmas.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I keep my eyes open all the time. I'm cheap, have a lot of people to buy for, and want to get good stuff.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
No, but I can't say that I wouldn't.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
It's hard to pick. I'll say cranberries, in all sorts of things.

16. Lights on the tree?
Yes, and they must be colored. Plain white lights make it look like you're a yuppie trying to "style" for a decorating magazine. (With apologies to white-light lovers, yuppies, and interior decorators!)

17. Favorite Christmas song?
White Christmas!

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Travel - which means going home. And then more travel.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner/Dunder, Blitzen. And Rudolph. And we may have to start adding Bailey to that list.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
I'm still looking for the perfect tree topper. For the last few years, it's been either an American Flag or a Santa hat. But when I find something I like, it will probably be an angel or a star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas day, now. When I was a kid, we'd get to open one present (officially from Mom & Dad) on Christmas Eve, then get "Santa's" presents Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
The complaints about the "War on Christmas." Now that Kathleen Hudson's gone it's much less nasty around her, but it's also a lot less funny.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
I like to buy ornaments as travel souvenirs - that's the closest I come to having a theme.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Turkey for dinner, and Chinese food for supper.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Everyone wants to know that! A sturdy silver chain to hold my engagement ring when I'm not wearing it is at the top of my wish list.

26. Lights, blinking or always on?
Always on. I like the chasing lights and the twinkle lights well enough, but I'm less fond of the ones that just blink. But what's really important is that they're colored!

Merry Christmas and everything else!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I should not have laughed at the Yarn Harlot.

A couple of weeks ago, the Yarn Harlot wrote about running out of knitting, and said she took backup yarn to her LYS for Knit Night. I laughed at the Yarn Harlot - not just in that "gee, she's funny" way, but in that "gee, I'm glad I'm not that crazy" way. I may have even said something to Aaron along the lines of "see, I'm not that crazy! The Yarn Harlot is so obsessed with knitting that she brings spare yarn to the yarn store." (That he knows what I'm talking about when I cite the Yarn Harlot as a source of wisdom is clearly a sign of his love for me.) Prior to this, my best benchmark of not-that-crazy was Sam, who won't knit from stash yarn. But even if I don't quite get around to knitting from stash, and have to point to my good intentions as a sign of sanity, surely I can proclaim that I'm not crazy enough to bring spare yarn to the yarn store.


Last night was the monthly Knit Night at River Knits. I was looking forward to an exciting time - Christmas goodies, a yarn swap, and a chance to work on my Christmas Sock. I brought cookies and a yarn gift, found a seat, and pulled out my knitting - only to discover that I hadn't brought my pattern. Oops.

This is a pretty complicated sock, so there was no winging it. I was on the heel flap, so I knew I could knit for a little while, but then I'd run out of knitting. (To make things worse, I'd given myself a little "you remembered to pack the needle you're using right now! How organized!" pep talk as I was leaving home.) So I sat there with my lonely little heel, getting nervous and twitchy, wondering what I could possibly do once I'd finished.

There was really only one option, wasn't there? I may have said some things about finishing rather than starting projects. I may even have said some things about not buying any more yarn. But this was clearly an emergency.

We learn from our mistakes, right? In this case, I learned how to use the web browser on my cell phone, so I could copy down the Wavy Gravy Hat pattern. I'd already learned that I love this pattern. I may try to give away a couple of hats as Christmas presents, if I can bear to part with them, so it's possible that this won't be wasted effort.

Once I had knitting in hand, I could breathe easy and enjoy the evening. I've never seen such a crowd at Knit Night before! People were spilling out of the back room into the shop, and sitting on the floor - it's just lucky that I got there early enough that I could get to the yarn. We had to pass around all the treats, but that was ok - it meant that no one had to put down her knitting to fix a plate.

And the Yankee Yarn Swap was loads of fun. Enough people brought extra packages (which I will attribute to the natural generosity of my fellow knitters, and not to anyone's opportunistic de-stashing) that everyone there was able to participate.

I wound up with this - another ball of Tofutsies! I love Tofutsies - although if I started knitting right now, I doubt I'd work my way through all the yarn before it's warm enough to wear Tofutsies socks again. And yes, this yarn really came wrapped in this box - proof that good things come in small packages, and that Scotch tape is tough stuff.

Before I left, I picked up just a bit of yarn for a possible future project (I had to pay for the Kureyon, so why not add a bit more). Even so, I left with fewer skeins of yarn than I brought - and I traded yarn that I won't use for yarn that I will. That makes my Christmas merry.

And I won't laugh at the Yarn Harlot any more.