Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Starting Finishing Again

It's time to get back on track with the project-finishing project. So I'm going to try this again - two projects finished for each new project I cast on.

I'll make it less of a challenge or commitment this time around, and more of a good idea. With Christmas rapidly approaching, I'm sure I'll be starting (and, I hope, finishing) a lot of quick projects as gifts. I'm already planning one that I can't blog about yet - but it's the perfect Christmas present for a certain friend with a certain favorite word.

Here's what Ravelry tells me I currently have in progress:

Red Scarf
Kauni Cardigan
Norwegian Socks
Chain of Hearts Socks
Boo the Bat
Christmas Garland Socks
Bellini Lace Shawl
Wedding Shawl (oops!)
Drop Stitch Socks
Highland Bonnet
Honeymoon Socks
Baby Surprise Jacket
Handspun Scarf

And the Hibernating projects are:

Lana Grossa Cardigan
Belle Epoque Sweater
Granny Square Afghan
Bulgarian Rose Socks
Bavarian Strolling Socks
Pomatomus Socks
Sunrise Circle Jacket
Traveling Socks
Snowdrop Shawl
Coriolis Socks

This list is going to be a bit harder to control than the last one - there aren't many easily-finished projects, and I'm pretty sure I no longer own the yarn to finish some of them, having diverted it to something else during the long hibernation. But if I can get my active WIP list down to two rows - 10 projects - by the end of October, I'll feel pretty good about the upcoming Christmas rush.

Home improvement projects do not get a spot on the list. Two of them pop up for every one we so much as think about, and I don't want to have to think about that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Furnace Wars

When I read the Yarn Harlot's accounts of the Furnace Wars, I kind of laughed it off a some weird Canadian thing. After all, it's so stinkin' cold in Canada that of course they'd have to get silly about the furnace. I just pulled out my fall jacket - and realized that the last time I wore it was in Canada, in June. Then it got put away, because no one in the more temperate regions of the continent needs a jacket in June.

But there's this other thing - I hate cold. Really, really hate cold. 80 degrees would be a reasonable daytime temperature for most of the year, as far as I'm concerned - maybe just a little warmer in the summer. For the past few years, I've been fortunate enough to live someplace where I don't pay for the heat, and sometimes didn't even control the heat. For a couple years, I was doubly fortunate - not only did I control the heat, but I didn't like the people who were paying for the heat very much. So either I had no choice in the heating decision, or I could keep things as warm as I liked, whenever I liked.

This year is different. This year, we're paying for the heat. After paying for a house, a honeymoon, a move, and me being unemployed. So we're going to have to be a bit more responsible about heating - and Illinois was a heck of a lot colder than Indiana last winter.

So I've declared the Furnace Wars to be on! There's no competition against anyone else - this is just my own challenge, a personal jihad against wimpiness and my cold nature. We're having pot roast for dinner tonight, so I've been able to have the oven on for most of the afternoon. I finally, FINALLY found my socks, just today - at the bottom of a closet. (We must have thought something like, "oh, we'll have finished painting the bedroom long before we need wool socks" when we put them there.)

And here I present my first weapon in the local Furnace War. I'm making myself a Calorimetry headband, so I can have something that will help keep the heat in, without resorting to wearing a hat inside.

I don't know what the yarn is - it was a gift from Debbie when she was destashing, and at the time, someone said, "this looks like enough for a Calorimetry." I'm working it on size 4 needles, with 110 stitches, and that seems to be working out right. Once I get this done, the next project is to do more box-shifting so I can find my long pants and long-sleeved shirts. If all goes well, we'll be able to keep the heat off until Halloween.

It may be finished tonight. It's supposed to get down to 37 tonight.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Did I Mention the Bats?

So, we have bats in the attic. $826 worth of bats in the attic.

I don't know which of the twelve types of bats that live in Illinois they are, but I'm told that it's a bachelor colony, so there's somewhere between one and a dozen bats. And they're in my attic, which means they're hanging out right above my craft room.

I have nothing against bats. If they made decent pets, I'd have a pet colony. I once went to a Parks Department class about bats, and was rather surprised to find that I was one of the three people not of elementary school-age in the class. But I am trying to be a responsible adult homeowner, and I know that having animals (other than the VeryBadDogs) in the house is a Very Bad Thing.

So when I heard something squirrel-sized moving around above the attic one night, I called the good folks of Critter Control of Peoria. They sent a very nice guy the same day, and he was able to diagnose bats pretty quickly. I think I'm lucky - squirrels or raccoons could get a lot more expensive, because you pay a per-animal charge for removal. Bats are a package deal.

Jeff, the nice guy from Critter Control, is going to install one-way valves so the bats can leave but not return. Then he's going to seal up the holes that the bats are using to get in. Then he's going to seal up all the other holes he found, so no other critter can start using them to get in. An animal exclusion inspection was something I wanted to do eventually, so the bats have just re-arranged our moving-in agenda a little bit.

Cleaning up the guano and the bat-damaged insulation? That's my job. I'm now really appreciating the hardware store gift cards we got as wedding gifts, because they provided us with a shop vac.

My other job? Celebrating the bats in our home decor! I found a wonderful book of Art Nouveau cross-stitch designs at the Antique Pattern Library. Since we're trying to decorate our Craftsman-inspired house in a roughly-period style, this pattern seemed absolutely perfect. Eventually, the bats will probably go in the guest room. The people staying there won't have to know that we also had guest-bats for awhile.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Works in Progress

With the Equinox approaching, it's a good time to take stock of the works in progress, and figure out how well I did with last year's Winter Knitting Goals. This is where I make lots of excuses for why I haven't finished the knitting I'm trying to finish. For quite awhile, I was feeling pretty good about only having two rows of active WIPs on Ravelry (Hibernating projects don't count, right?) but somehow that's changed lately.

The winter plan was that I'd finish two projects for every one I cast on, through the solstice. I kept going fairly well, right up until my birthday, when I cast on the project that messed up the balance. I decided I really needed to make something for my wedding officiant - a Highland bonnet - and that left me with 12 new projects to 23 finished ones. After that I got shameless, casting on sock club socks, socks for the bachelorette party, and a charity knitting project. And then I got married, and moved, and didn't knit much at all. So now it's time to hunker down and get back to finishing projects - especially since I haven't really unpacked the stash yet.

So, what's in progress, and what needs to get out of here?

The eighth Wavy Gravy Hat should be finished soon.

Maybe, just maybe, I can finish the Red Scarf this year. If you've lost track, since this is the third fall I've been knitting on it, this is a project for the Orphan Foundation of America. I'm more than halfway, and they've extended the deadline, so maybe this is the year I'll really finish the scarf!

Once I find buttons, or give up hoping to find buttons, I'll finish and mail the Baby Surprise Jacket.

This is the project that got me in trouble - the Highland Bonnet. (It's also the reason I had to get a new bank card a week before the wedding, and had to worry about scraped knuckles in the wedding pictures, but that's a different story.) All I need to do is add ribbon trim, and it's ready to mail. So once we can dig out the sewing machine, I'll be able to finish it.

The honeymoon socks are at the point that they're my work-in-the-car project, so I'll save them for long trips. However, I'm not sure they'll last through the three-hour ride to Indianapolis, so I'd better find a backup. The Norwegian Socks would be a good candidate for this, if I can find them.

Boo the Bat is one I'd really like to finish in time for Halloween

And I should get the Christmas Garland socks done in time for Christmas.

Then there's the spinning - did I mention the spinning? We went to an SCA-oriented get-together over Labor Day weekend, so I thought I'd bring spinning.

So now I'm committed to turning this into a lacy scarf. It's a Fuzzarelly Fibers blend that I picked up at last spring's Fiber Event, and there's supposed to be just enough to make a nice scarf. Spinning is less portable and less interruptable than knitting, so work on this one might be saved for SCA events and knit nights - once I've finished some of the real knitting projects at knit nights.

So, a plan of attack: finish the Wavy Gravy hat ASAP. Finish the baby jacket, and the bonnet. Then take my time with the honeymoon socks, and work on Boo and the Christmas socks at home.

Except - friends keep having babies, or expecting babies, so it looks like I have a few more baby projects to cast on.

And, we have the time-suckingest WIP of all.

This is our bedroom. At the end of August, we thought we were launching a weekend painting project.

We found out that the paint on the trim was peeling badly, and we'd have to sand it pretty carefully just to paint it again. So refinishing the wood seemed like a good idea. Now we have woodwork coated in SmartStrip, and will peel it off, clean everything up, refinish, and THEN paint. Now that we've figured out what we're doing, the paint removal is going fairly smoothly - most of the cleanup work will be for the parts we did before we knew what we were doing. The walls will eventually get painted in the lighter green color, and we'll probably just leave the yellow-pine color of the wood as it is.

I'm sure we'll be happy when it's over. I'll be happy, because it means we can put together the new bedroom furniture, unpack our clothes, and find my socks! We never had summer here, and it's getting colder every day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy New Year!

If you're Jewish, you're celebrating the beginning of the year 5770. So happy new year!

If you're Jewish and have some BadDogs hanging around, your New Year celebration might look like this:

I think I'll avoid walking my boys anywhere near a temple for the next two days!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It's here! It's here it's here it's here!

And it's gone already. My Dish Rag Tag box came today, and now it's on its way to Minnesota, with a new dish rag tucked inside.

The mail came just a little early today, so I got the box about 2:30. Fortunately, I'd just walked the dogs, so they were pretty tired and content to sit on the porch with me.

Here's what I found inside the box - a nicely beribboned dishcloth, a pretty little notebook as the surprise, some ice cream-colored yarn, and an encouraging note for the team. So I made myself comfortable and cast on - it's a fairly simple pattern, and easy to remember and keep track of.

By 3:32 I was halfway through. This proved to be break time, as the dogs decided they wanted a walk, and then Aaron came home. It's probably good for me.

And I didn't lose much time - I finished the Official Dish Rag at 4:26.

I took it inside, and packaged everything up again - finished dishcloth, new yarn, new goodie. This was my first time using the Post Office's Click-n-Ship, and it was amazingly easy and convenient.

I walked out the door at 4:49, and had it in the mail before 5:00. It hasn't shown up in the tracking system yet - but I'm sure I'll be checking its status a couple of dozen times tomorrow. I'm really hoping it gets to the next knitter on Saturday, so she has the weekend to knit. The Fast Track Knitters have kind of fallen behind, so we could use some lucky breaks.

Here's a better look at my finished dishcloth. The pattern is called "Checkmate." I like the pattern, and I like seeing how the stripes line up on the knitted and purled sections. If I have enough leftover yarn, I may have to knit one of these ice-cream-colored dishcloths for myself.

Something else is capturing my attention today - this flower just turned up in our backyard. Does anyone know what it is?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Still waiting....

Nothing today.

My box was in Champaign at 7:15 this morning. So I'd hoped it would make its way to me, but I guess I'm waiting another day. Which means I was able to do other useful stuff, like stripping paint and baking gingerbread - but a box with a dish rag would be really nice.

I have a feeling this will be my view most of the day tomorrow. See that space on the street? I'm just waiting to see it filled with a mail truck.

Would you like some actual knitting content? I've started a new Wavy Gravy Hat - #8. This one is for the latest KFBO charity project. It should have also been my 9/11 service project, but I couldn't find the yarn. Does looking for yarn count as community service? What if my stash is really, really disorganized?

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm it!

I've been tagged in Dish Rag Tag.

A box is on its way to me - a box which contains a dishcloth, a ball of cotton dishcloth yarn, a super-secret dishcloth pattern (well, it looks like this, but the pattern itself is secret!) and a surprise. When I get it, I'll take the dishcloth and the surprise, use the yarn to knit a new dishcloth from the super-secret pattern, and send it, a new ball of yarn, and a new surprise to the next person in my Dish Rag Tag team. As quickly as possible.

It's a race, you see. There are 20 teams of 10, and we're trying to see which team can complete the relay first.

So there can't be any delay. I'm ready to knit as soon as the package gets here. I have my ball of yarn, my size 6 needles, and my (carefully hidden) surprise. I'm scheduling my days to leave free knitting afternoons. I'm walking the dogs in the back, so I don't scare away the mail carrier. And I've scouted out the post offices, so I know how late I can mail my package. Things didn't go well the last time I tried this, so I'm hoping for better luck this time around.

Now I just need a package. I'm ready!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Want to be surprised?

I'm very nearly finished with a project!

I've been fascinated by the Baby Surprise Jacket for a long time, but never talked myself into making it. I usually have a "nothing that fits for nothing that grows" rule regarding handknit clothes, which means babies get socks or hats. Besides, I'm not very good at finishing projects on a deadline (I have a baby quilt in progress for someone who will be 18 soon), so smaller is definitely better when there's a due date.

But the Baby Surprise Jacket is just so intriguing. Kerry was knitting one at my bachelorette party, so it's been on my mind lately. So it was very nice of my friends Heather & Ed to start their family, and nicer of them to come visit for a few days. I was able to show them pictures and make sure they liked the project, and have Heather pick out the yarn. Heather picked my favorite of the colors I have, so it's been lots of fun to knit.

It's just amazing that with just some folds and two seams, something can go from this... this. It turned out to be a reasonably quick project, too - I started it on August 24. I was able to show off the halfway point at their baby shower, and was happy to see lots of cooing over the other handknit presents they received. Even if this is easy as knitting goes, it's nice to know my work will be enjoyed!

But it's not quite finished yet. I still need buttons - a very specific type of buttons. The father-to-be is a New Orleans Saints fan, so I'm looking for gold fleurs-de-lis. Any leads?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Before, Part 1

So there are serious upsides to moving. One of them is that we'll have a craft room.

Or perhaps I should say that we'll have a craft room, eventually. This is the "before" picture, and I hope it will soon be followed by lots of nice and organized-looking "after" pictures.

Our attic is semi-finished - probably in the 60s or 70s, judging from the paneling and the orange carpet. I had the same carpet, but in red, in my childhood bedroom, and I think my parents picked it out when they moved in.

So it's going to be a craft room. Eventually, I'd like to swap the paneling and orange carpet for drywall and linoleum. But for right now, I'll be happy with some sense of organization. The sooner we get the attic craft room in shape, the sooner we'll be able to work on the basement workshop, or the garage space for crafts with fire. And then, finally, we'll be able to do fun crafty stuff again. Or we'll just take over the dining room table - I'm not ruling that one out.