Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wading Through my WIPs, or a Moment of Public Honesty

By any sort of rational measure, I have an excessive number of WIPs and UFOs.  I know for a fact that it exceeds the size of the entire stash of some of my knitting friends, many of whom have been knitting even longer than I have.

Don't believe me?

I looked at my Ravelry page AND at my Excel spreadsheet (which I began in January 2010 to catalog my entire stash; it also helps me narrow down the location of projects/yarns to a particular cupboard or drawer).  On January 1, 2013, I had a reported 74 or 75 WIPs and UFOs.  Two of those were not really WIPs (a snoozer project on my Ravelry page that has yet to be cast on, or even have the beads strung for it, and a failure from a few years back that has been frogged and is awaiting repurposing), making the total 72 or 73 valid WIPs and UFOs.

I have whittled down the list a bit this month.  In the first week, I finished off a hat and a pair of socks begun in December.  Yesterday, I finished a scarf begun in October from yarn I had purchased in 2011 (see photo below).  I also knit a beaded bracelet (my "or" project because the beads were strung, but I did not cast on until 1/13/13) from a ball of Blue Moon yarn destined to eventually be socks.
Bobcat Farms Lace Scarf

That brings me down to 69 WIPs and UFOs.  Here's the breakdown:

1 felted purse (only need to sew in the zipper)
1 pair of flip-top mittens
3 pair of socks
4 blankets
11 scarves and shawls
51 sweaters and tops

Of the sweaters, only 5 are child-sized (in most cases, the intended recipient grew faster than I expected).

I know myself well enough to know that if I pledge to knit only from my WIP/UFO list, I will break that pledge in no time.

As I mulled over what to do, I scrolled through the 2KnitLit Chicks Kardigan KAL forum, looking at various ideas for a cardie that I should start in a week that might take me most of the three months allowed for completion.  In addition to adding to my favorites list, I noticed that several Ravelers referred to the 2013 Use It or Lose It Challenge sponsored by the Stash and Burn group.  For this challenge, participants finish 13 projects from stash purchased prior to December 2012, roughly one every 4 weeks.  Since this challenge is primarily intended to move untouched, well-aged yarns from stash to finished project, finishing off well-aged WIPs is limited to three at most of the thirteen project goal.

I have a lot of stash (no, not everything is in WIP form) falling into the untouched category, so I decided to join in.  As of today, I've finished 3 projects started in 2013 from stash purchased before December 2012.  As a spur to continued stash reduction, I've decided to avoid front-end loading my count, so only 1 of those 3 counted toward the goal for period 1.

I figure I can do a similar challenge of finishing 13 WIPs/UFOs that were started before January 1 of this year.  The added goal is to make this a net reduction in WIPs/UFOs, meaning that my total count on January 1 of next year needs to be 59 or fewer.

At this point, these goals seem challenging, yet doable.

I also need to make sure I don't buy quite as much yarn in 2013.  This may be difficult, since I signed up for 2 sock yarn clubs (Blue Moon Rockin' Socks and Cookie A's Sock Club) plus I bought a subscription to Rowan Magazine, so I'm already lined up for stash aquisition.

Note that the goal is "not quite as much yarn purchased", not "no net adds to stash".  I know I have some limitations.

The subscriber-exclusive kit from Rowan arrived in the mail this past week, making it my first stash acquisition of the year.  It consists of a pattern for the Cosby Slouch Hat (not in Ravelry) and three balls of a discontinued color of Amy Butler Belle Organic Aran (saddle brown).  I like the yarn and the pattern, but not together, so I think this will be repurposed (yarn for a scarf or cowl, pattern for another yarn).
Rowan kit for subscribers

Maybe I can finish before any sock club yarn arrives.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sometimes the Knitting Works out Just the Way I Planned

Last post, I showed the beginnings of my Rayures cowl.  Today, I am pleased to report, the cowl is complete, and the things I did to make sure the FO met my standards all worked well!

First, I used my current favorite provisional cast-on:  a long tail cast-on in which the tail is waste yarn.  I like this because it holds the stitches in place in the correct configuration.  This way, I did not need to remove the waste yarn first, thread the stitches onto a spare needle, and try to make sure the grafting all went in the correct direction with no twisted or missed stitches.  Instead, I grafted the live stitches just as I would a sock and the top stitches I just hooked into as they presented themselves.  I snipped and removed the tail after every 6-12 stitches had been grafted to make sure that the grafted stitches would not stand out.

Here are some photos to show what I did:

Tail for long tail cast-on in scrap yarn
Grafting to the cast-on edge
Another thing I did was to use some more scrap yarn to run a line up the original seamline.  Because I used a jogless join that requires the color change to move one stitch to the left every stripe, it would have been easy to get the cowl twisted.  When I had finished my knitting, I lined up the seamline (being careful not to twist!) and pinned it in place until I had grafted the first few stitches.

Here's what it looked like:
Seamline marked with scrap yarn

Pinning to get make sure I have no twist
The final result looks great.  With the winter sun, good quality photos from my phone are hard.  The FO picture is a bit fuzzy, but the colors are pretty accurate.

Work in progress on the grafting

Finished Rayures Cowl!
I think I may spend a few hours (or days) on knitting that requires a bit less close attention before getting back to my Transition Point socks.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Knitting Inspirations (Distractions?)

The good news is my plan to get the Opal socks finished worked.  Alternating between the socks and a scarf from MIL's stash yarn resulted in two FOs last week.  I gave Margaret the scarf Wednesday to add to her (beginning) accumulation for next fall's scarf drive for the AAUW teen program, and I am currently wearing my new socks for the second time since finishing them.
Red Heart Scarf for charity

Comfy (but garish) socks
I also finally knit a Laura Nelkin bracelet that I had strung the beads for last August.  It was one of those times when I just couldn't seem to wrap my brain around what was needed; it took me three hours  and countless attempts just to string the beads last summer.  On Sunday, it only took me one try at knitting to spot another stringing mistake and one botched attempt at knitting after that before it all became clear.  A few hours later, I had my finished Medallion Bracelet.
Medallion bracelet
Instead of being a good girl and working on one of my (many) WIPs, I started two new projects (at least they were from stash).  The first project is called Transition Point, a very complex sock design by Star Athena.  It was the May 2011 Rockin' Sock Club project, and I had tossed it aside when I realized 3" into the cuff that a size medium (64 stitches) was not going to stretch over my high arch/pointy heel due to all the twisted stitches, even if it fit my ankle perfectly.  Sunday I ripped and cast on a size large which should work well.  This is slow going due to a different chart for the front and back of the cuff.
Back of sock cuff

Front of sock cuff
The other project is a Rayures Cowl; I bought this as a kit at Interweave Knitting Lab this fall from Nine Rubies.  The yarn is a heavenly Anzula Cloud, and I love the way the stripes are developing.  I am using a jogless jog as I change colors, and it is working well whenever I don't make a mistake.
Rayures Cowl in Anzula Cloud

Close-up of the jogless "seam"
I have been inspired to think about knitting something other than accessories lately.  In Menlo Park, the window of an upscale housewares shop features three handknit toys that I really like.  The website says that they are 22" tall and knit from hand spun wool by artisans in Kenya.  The asking price of almost $300 apiece thus seems appropriate if the craftswomen are paid a reasonable amount, but it is beyond my budget for purely decorative items.



I have also found myself dreaming of sweaters, but wanting to try something new.  Along comes my enabler friend Carol, who mentions that she plans to participate in the 2 Knit Lit Chicks Kardigan KAL .  Since the rules specify that the project must be started and finished between February 1 and May 1, that eliminates any of my WIPs.

A Ravelry ad from designer Carol Sunday caught my eye just after reading my friend's post.  Here's the photo:

Tapestry by Carol Sunday

I've already corresponded with Carol S. to double check body and sleeve length for my preferred size.  She kindly offered to calculate how much yarn I will need.

I think I'm about to spend some money...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year's Resolutions and a Few Observations

I have noticed in the past that my "inner Zelda" (the magpie part of my soul that has ADD and loves the new and shiny) tends to be asleep for the first part of the year.  This means January (and often the first part of February as well) is an excellent time to finish off WIPs that had been dropped due to boredom.  Since 2013 began, I've completed a hat begun and finished less than satisfactorily in December (the Eco-Duo beanie) and finished a pair of socks in Mountain Colors Bearfoot that was my travel project for the Rose Bowl.

Once I got home, I started a pair of Shadow Rib Socks (one of my favorite patterns since it ALWAYS fits and looks good in so many yarns) in some Opal from the same yarn box as the Bearfoot.  At the back of my mind, I was thinking perhaps I would finish off the entire bin (10 pair of socks worth) as a New Year's resolution-worthy activity this year.

Unfortunately, I ran into the inverse problem that the Yarn Harlot did today (she had too many rows of garter stitch to knit in a very boring tan color).  I should have figured it out from the color name -- Papagei, German for parrot -- but this yarn is amazingly garish, to the point it is hard for me to continue with.  Don't believe me?  Look at this:

The Hopelessly Garish Sock-in -progress
I can't bring myself to dump this WIP, because I know the resulting socks will fit well and last a long time (and be hidden by shoes).  I also need a vision break as I go, so I am knitting a scarf from some of the Red Heart in my MIL's last knitting basket.  This yarn is about as boring as it gets, and plasticky to boot, but the final product will keep someone warm.  Here it is:

Scarf for Charity in Red Heart
I've decided that since the number 13 is a baker's dozen (which stands for variety), one of my New Year's resolutions should be that I make a good assortment of items this year.  In particular, I need to finish more big projects (sweaters, blankets, etc.), even if my total quantity goes down.

2013 Resolutions

•  Complete at least 12 WIPs from prior years (and, yes, I do have more than a dozen to choose from)

•  Complete at least 12 projects from yarn acquired in prior years (above and beyond the WIPs)

•  Complete at least 12 major projects (some can be started in prior years)

I saw a New Year's resolution a few days ago that one should only knit with yarn one loves.

I have already violated that rule.  However, I know from past experience that it feels really good to create an object of beauty and usefulness (such as the above scarf) from inherited stash.  I also know that new handknit socks are much better than machine knit (or almost worn out handknit), so I will trudge onward.

If Zelda has not yet appeared, I plan to finish off one of several shawls and scarves in hibernation after the above two projects are complete.

Maybe even a sweater if I'm feeling ambitious...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pre-Xmas Knitting Flurry, plus a Look Back on 2012

Even though I planned ahead and knit many gifts in advance, somehow I found myself in the position of "needing to" knit a number of last minute gifts.  We decided to splurge and go to the Rose Bowl this year, and since we drove through the Central Valley to see my family, we also decided to meet up with my BFF Sloan and her family.  I always have a gift ready for Sloan, but decided I really should have something for her husband and each of her kids, so one more cowl and 2 beanies were knit.  As long as I was knitting beanies, I decided to knit my boys each one.  I also knit more feminine ones for my niece Amanda and Alex's girlfriend Anna (Anna also got a cowl to match).  Then there were my sister-in-laws Joyce and Karen, who both got cowls.  Somehow, I ended up with a few extra for my futures pile.

Here are the gifts:
Beanie for Sloan's son Charlie
Beanie for Sloan's husband David

Beanie for Justin

Beanie for Alex

Cowl for Anna

Hat for Anna (Fair Isle)
View 1 of hat for Amanda

View 2 of hat for Amanda

Cowl for Sloan's daughter Katie
Cowl for SIL Karen

Cowl for SIL Joyce
Extra hat (Men's Large)

Extra cowl
I got a bit of holiday decorating fever and knit a small grove of trees from leftovers from the extra cowl.

I also made a few things for myself:  socks (the second pair is almost done), mitts, and a hat.
Mitts in Ultra Alpaca

Basic socks in Interlacements Tiny Toes

Ribbed hat in Eco-Duo

Almost finished socks in MC Bearfoot
I started a few scarves in the past month or so that did not get finished.  One is in handspun alpaca and is in its second iteration of a lace pattern.  The other is doubleknit (like the hat for Amanda) and I've gotten about 10" into it (more than the photo).  This will just take a LONG time, but I think it will be worth it.
Lace scarf (stitch pattern from Wendy Johnson)

Doubleknit scarf in Knitpicks Chroma
In total, I finished 78 knitting and crochet projects this year.  That's a bit more than my average, but I also finished fewer sweaters than usual (although a few of the shawls and scarves were almost as time consuming as an adult sweater).  Here's the breakdown:

17 hats
15 scarves
14 cowls
8 shawls and shawlettes
7 pairs of socks
7 pairs of mitts and gloves
3 sweaters
3 toys
3 jewelry items
1 cape

Of those, I gave away 31 to charity or friends and family.  I also gave away over a dozen more items to charity that I had knit in prior years.