Saturday, December 24, 2011

Calm Before the Storm

I've finished wrapping, which means I've finished Xmas gift buying and knitting, at least for everything to be opened tomorrow.  The menu is planned and food has been purchased.  The house is reasonably neat.

I still need to get a present for a two year old nephew that I won't see until next week (his sister's present is wrapped and ready to be delivered).

I still need to finish a scarf for my nephew (probably will see him in January) and knit a cowl for my son's girlfriend, who will visit for New Year's.  Yarns have been purchased, so I am good to go.

I am busy on a stealth project which may be gifted tomorrow, or might wait a few days.  Joe is busy fixing a dead hard drive, so he is too distracted to notice what I am knitting.

All three kids will sleep here tonight (hooray!). We will have 14 guests for Xmas dinner, 7 sleepover guests, and 10 for breakfast on Monday (plus the 5 of us).

I can hardly wait.

Photos to follow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In which math failed me and all seemed lost

I did some serious shopping at the Labor Day weekend sales this year, including buying two balls of Noro King for a shawlette.  My basic geometry rule for right triangle shawls knit from the center neck outward is each successive ball of yarn will create half as many rows as its predecessor.  This was a basic garter stitch shawl:  cast on 3 stitches provisionally, knit 3 garter ridges, pick up 3 stitches from one side, pick up the 3 cast on stitches, and knit every row (right side rows are increased a few stitches in from the each end and on either side of the center stitch, wrong side rows are knit plain).

The shawlette was progressing quite well.  It became clear after I had started ball number two that blocking could be a challenge due to fiber content (it is only 20% wool and not particularly stretchy), so I decided to instead  bind off with a garter lace edging that was knit sideways.  I calculated the number of stitches needed for the edging and worked backward from my calculated total row count to come up with my new bind off row.

Just to be safe, I stopped two rows early to give myself extra yarn.  I also made the edging a few stitches narrower for the same reason.

I ran out of yarn with less than 6" of edging left to complete.

The only thing I could figure out might have happened is that Noro is sometimes less than precise in its windoffs (I once bought a ball of Silk Garden Sock that weighed 82 grams), and maybe ball #2 had less yarn than #1.

I returned to Yarndogs to buy another ball (they had several more when I left the sale), but they were all sold out.

At this point I contemplated ripping out my entire edging and reknitting it slightly narrower.  I thought about how that might make the yarn look worse.  I thought about how much I liked the way the shawl looked now.

I decided to search the net for other balls of this colorway of King.  Turns out it is fairly uncommon, but Webs had a few balls.

I bought the two balls (thinking the leftover could be a scarf) and was pleasantly surprised when they arrived.  The colors looked very similar to what I had, and I was able to finish the shawlette quickly.

I only noticed after I finished that they were the same dyelot.  Massachusetts and California -- what is the likelihood of that?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Travel knitting revisited

My final packing decision: the Cuvier scarf, the Phinney sweater, the Rockin Sox WIP, 2 balls of Panda Soy, 1 ball of Regia (Fassett) Random Stripe, a baggy with leftover sock yarn, and another Universal scarf that I started Friday night after finishing the rest of my packing.

I never touched the Cuvier scarf, the sweater, or the socks in progress.

That doesn't mean I didn't complete any projects.

First, my non-knit projects:

From top to bottom, a decorated tote bag, a gecko made of seed beads strung on copper wire, an Anthropologie-style necklace from beads and fabric, some modular origami, and duct tape wallets.

I learned how to crochet well enough to make this slouch hat in Bamboo Ewe:
I also finished knitting the Universal Scarf (this one is in Plymouth Encore), a beaded necklace called Butin Collar, and a beaded cuff bracelet called Thrice (2 views). The latter two were designed by Laura Nelkin and were published in her Adorn Collection.

I also started a pair of Lacy Rib Socks (from the Little Box of Socks) in the Stained Glass colorway of Panda Soy. Last night I finished sock #1. The lace doesn't show up that well in the photo but should be obvious when I wear them.

Now that I'm home and I'm almost caught up with non-profit and household work, I plan to get back to my 10 rows per week goal on the Moderne Log Cabin and finish the above socks before starting anything new.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Travel knitting

Our annual trip to Fallen Leaf Lake is coming up, and I have been so busy with other activities that I haven't yet figured out what knitting to pack. Last year I took a partially finished Moderne Log Cabin for my niece Amanda and yarn for the Skeldon cardigan from Berrocco Campus. I finished the blanket and got about 2/3 of the way through the sweater during our week at camp. As added insurance, I also brought yarn for socks for my Mom (cast on at camp, but completed January of this year), and Handwerks yarn for a scarf (knit about 10" at camp, then decided to rip and reknit in a different pattern; stuck at 16" in current pattern and shown below).

I know from past experience that I am happiest with a variety of projects to choose from, both in yarn weight and type of knitting.

I am planning on bringing a scarf for nephew (Christmas present) in Ultra Alpaca Light, one or two pair of socks, and a sweater for myself. The scarf, Cuvier from Berrocco Men, is kitted up, but not yet begun; it has a lot of texture, but no lace or cables. I have two different pair of socks at the partway through cuff of sock #1 phase, but am not yet convinced if either will make the cut. The first sock is from the May Rockin Sock shipment; this design is heavily textured and includes cables. The other is from Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd; it will be a French Market Sock and is knit in 3 colors of shetland wool.

Similarly, I have two partially completed cardigans (Rafik in green and Mondo in navy), but am leaning toward starting something else (maybe with some colorwork instead of just texture). As you may be able to see, both are cabled, but the Mondo is mostly stockinette.

I am thinking that I may have too much similarity and/or complexity here. Maybe the Phinney top from Berrocco #302 (I have the yarn in dark teal (body) and deep raspberry (yoke)).

Maybe I should finish last year's scarf instead of one pair of socks (it is lace).

And maybe I should stop overthinking this.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Great tip for "endless" knitting

I was reading the current issue of Knit 'n Style, and an article by Jack Lewis caught my eye. He wrote about how some projects can seem impossible to finish because there is so much more knitting to be done (and how that is a likely point of abandonment).

His solution is to break down large projects into smaller pieces and tell himself something like: "Just 4 more rows and I'll be done with the waist shaping.". He says he breaks down a sweater into 20 or more components and ALWAYS takes a break after finishing a "section".

I thought about the Moderne Log Cabin and its seemingly endless rows of garter stitch. I analyzed what was left to knit, and realized that if I knit 10 rows every week, I would be done in early December, plenty of time before Christmas.

I decided to start today. Instead of knitting 2 rows a day for the next 5 days, I knit 10 rows today. The blanket has been put aside for now, and I am that much closer to finishing it.

The best part is I feel a sense of accomplishment, and I look forward to my next 10 row installment (I will finish block #8 at that time).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Nothing Lasts Forever

Certainly not my mindless knitting jag. I was able to finish my lovely cowl (on the needles last post).

I also finished my Pebble Beach top, which was mindless other than minor shaping once I passed the armholes. Thanks to Carol O. for the great picture!

I managed to get partway through block #8 out of 10 on the Moderne Log Cabin blanket I've been making for my brother and his wife when it hit me: this is ENDLESS! The problem with this project is the last few blocks are significantly larger than the rest, so the blanket drags on forever in its final stages. I've decided they will receive it for Christmas, which gives me plenty of time (as long as I budget about 10 rows per week).

I have moved on to fun stuff. The twins turn 23 this week, and I have knit amigurami for each (both from the Mochimochiland site). Kerry gets Flushie and Professor Plunger and Alex gets Error. These were fun, fast knits that took less than a week to complete despite numerous distractions.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mindless Knitting

We knitters, being normal humans, like to classify our world. The yarn and projects we have are classified as stash, UFOs, and WIPs, and become FOs when they go out of the project room and into the closet or into a gift recipient's hands. We also tend to classify the difficulty of our projects.

Currently, I am on a mindless knitting jag. I have a mindless portable project, perfect for bringing along for car rides and endless soccer/hockey/name-your-sport games. This cowl is in Noro Chirimen (a finer gauge version of Taiyo) and is a 2 row lace pattern that is a 3 stitch repeat. You can't get much simpler than that, and since it is a one ball project, it certainly qualifies as portable. My rule for mindlessness in portable projects is that I need to be able to figure out where I am in the pattern within a minute of putting the project in my hands. This guy falls into the 10 second category. The other qualification (which also goes for the nonportable projects) is that I should be able to avoid staring at my knitting. I do look down at this one, but I can knit a fair amount in the dark.

This cowl is living on my bedside table when it isn't in the car.

I am also working away on a mindless project which quickly grew out of the portable phase. This is the Moderne Baby Blanket (Mason-Dixon Knitting) that I am making for my brother and his wife. Since it is pure garter stitch, the mindless factor is high. I only need to look at what I'm doing when I'm picking up for a new color.

I hope the enjoyment of mindlessness lasts long enough to finish this big guy off.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Knitting Progress and Redirection

The good news is I have finished almost everything listed in my last post as "current projects". Here is the Universal Scarf in Classic Elite Princess and another in Trekking Fach (leftover from the February Skacel knitalong project).

I also finished the June Trekking knitalong project (some cuffless socks).
Here are the March Rockin' Socks Club socks. I knit Merry Socksters and each sock is slightly different (I didn't notice until I finished the second sock). They are still cute and comfortable.
The only WIP I mentioned last time that is still unfinished is the Pebble Beach top in Classic Elite Sprout. It is, however, about 80% complete. I got impatient and added the scarf at the neckline even though it weighs down the knitting.

Dad's birthday was July 3rd and he always likes a new hat, so I knitted him one from Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash (denim blue). It is soft and very thick with so much texture.

Although Dad's hat distracted me from my goal of finishing the Pebble Beach top for a few days, the bigger distraction came from my brother. He has been dating Karen for 10 years and introducing her to everyone as his fiancee for the past 8. A few weeks ago they eloped (they are both in their 50s and have been married before, so I guess they decided this time to be a bit more casual). After getting over the shock, I spent at least a week trying to figure out what to get them. I settled on a throw, then spent days going through every book of afghan designs I own. I finally remembered that the Moderne Baby Blanket (from Mason-Dixon Knitting) always looks great and that I had a dozen skeins of Lamb's Pride (5 colors) that I could make it from. I just started block #4 tonight. My goal is to finish it before our family party on July 30th.

Actually, my goal is to finish well before then so I can knit other things this month besides garter stitch!

PS: Spotted some yarnbombing at Menlo School the other day.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Been busy lately?

I have.

Not just knitting, by the way. May has become almost as big a month for nonprofits as October around here, so I've been running around to events, PLUS all the nonprofits I'm involved with seem to have something big going on. For Peninsula Bridge, we're knee deep in the process of hiring a new executive director. I'm on the hiring committee, and I think we're finally close to making a decision. Our board meetings are also more frequent as we manage this transition. I signed up to be a lead partner (used to be called liaison) for SV2's latest education grantee, Partners in School Innovation, and in addition to what I did in May I have at least 2 more lengthy meetings in the next few weeks (wrapping up the contract and analyzing their fundraising program). I also was involved with the international grant round and am on the consulting team for their grantee, Blue Planet Network. DCP just had their 8th graduation; I announced the scholarship winners (our committee spent numerous hours in April and May evaluating the candidates and making our decisions). Kids in Common was the quietest of my nonprofits (mostly emails and phone calls this month). Dana and I are interviewing a prospective board member on Monday and will be planning the next week's Vision Council meeting agenda as well. Friday of Memorial Day weekend was Menlo School's benefit, and as assistant treasurer I spent many hours posting credit card transactions, making bank deposits, and making sure everything tied out. The money is still coming in, but it should soon slow to a trickle. I'm also on an ad hoc committee of nonprofits, schools, government agencies, funders, and community volunteers working to increase the number of first generation students to graduate from college. We've been at this about a year now, mostly doing research and trying to decide how we could be most effective; a great opportunity dropped into our laps (College Day across all of San Jose Unified School district from kindergarten through 12th grade) and we are now scrambling to make the most of it.

To be able to sleep at night after all this excitement, I have been knitting routinely. Here's what I've done:

Finished the April socks from the Trekking KAL:
I also finished the May socks. It may not be visible here, but the back of the leg is eyelet rib and I mirror imaged the lace design on the top of the foot and front of the leg.

I also finished the Almost Saintly socks.
I made another baby surprise jacket. Joe says I can't give this one to charity, but need to save it for someone who'll appreciate the sophisticated colors.
I also made a few scarves. This is a honey cowl (thanks to Carol Glasstone for alerting me to this lovely design) I made for Joan, the woman I volunteer for at Menlo.

I finally finished the first of four "nano" scarves from Morehouse. These designs are all based on microscopically close color photographs of living things and knit in laceweight single ply merino. The one below is based upon diatoms.

Another cowl, this time in my own lacy pattern in Noro Taiyo (cotton silk blend). It's a good weight for a late spring /early fall accessory.

And finally, a Universal Scarf (Vicky Square design from last week's Knitting Daily post). This is in navy (not the bright blue it seems to be) Crystal Palace Iceland.
What am I knitting now? Another Universal Scarf, this time in mint Classic Elite Princess, the June Trekking socks, the March Blue Moon kit (Merry Sockster socks in Electric Koolaid Acid Test), and a top in lime Classic Elite Sprout (Pebble Beach from a new CE booklet).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Finally banished the boggarts!

It took awhile.

First, as my friend Suzi put it, I needed a "palate cleanser". Two baby hats and one baby sweater later, I was finally ready to plunge ahead full speed on the March Trekking socks.

This time, I went with needles just a bit smaller than called for, test fit the first sock every few inches, and IT WORKED! I finished the dreaded design a day before the contest deadline and got confirmation from Skacel that I had submitted in time. Here's a snap of the finished socks:

I like this colorway (a gently striped green Pro Natura) better than the suggested yarn (a bright rainbow), and will definitely get a lot of wear from these socks.

Here is a picture of the sock monkey I knit in March (my only FO for the month -- I told you the boggarts were persistent!). As you can see, it is quite large.

I am making progress on other socks now. Here is the first completed Almost Saintly Sock:

The April Trekking Knitalong sock is coming along nicely. I am up to date with the instructions published so far (and yes, I've tried it on). Here's a pic:
Last night I was able to knit and relax with a few knitting friends. I was the only one working on socks. The sweaters, skirt, and baby blanket were all lovely; I think it will soon be time to get back to larger projects.

Of course, there is that Rockin' Sock club March shipment calling to me...