Archive for December 2008

Bustin’ makes me feel good

December 29, 2008

I succumbed to two year-end yarn sales in the last few days.  Enamored of two jackets in Custom Knits (a wonderful gift, by the way), I scoured Webs‘ closeouts for bulky yarn and settled on Cascade 109.  And because they were cheap, I also picked up some Bollicine Revolution (my initial choice for the sweater) and one precious skein of Ranco.

Then today, when someone posted that Annie Amelia had Malabrigo for $8.50, I pounced — because I needed it for the other CK coat that I covet.  I managed to escape from there without “tossing in” any extra skeins, but not without pain (I really wanted to try that Nature Cotton, but none of the projects on Rav spoke to me).

The thought of those big boxes of yarn coming my way made me feel very guilty.  What about all the beautiful yarn in my storage cubes, alone and unloved?  Even though I did a good job knitting from stash for Christmas (all 10 of my gifts were from stash), there’s still so much of it.  How can I justify bringing in new yarn — okay, for a project, sure, but not random impulse buys — when I have miles and miles waiting to be knitted?

So I joined Stash Knit Down 2009 and got several good ideas for using what I have on hand and limiting the influx.  I want to do all of these (such is my enthusiasm upon attaching myself to any self-improvement plan), but I’ll be happy if I can do any of these, in some combination.

  1. The yarn diet.  In this case, my beloved (and successful!) No-S Diet, only applied to yarn.  In 2009, I won’t buy yarn except on days that begin with S.  That wouldn’t be helpful for the average knitter, but since I have no LYS and buy mostly online, it means that my usual browsing will yield only ideas for later purchases, not immediate cart-filling.  If I still want it once the S-day rolls around, I’ll buy it.  But I’ll wager a cooling-off period will do wonders for me.  And since my most reliable sources of temptation, the Herrschner Yarn Sale and Knit Picks weekly e-mails, come on non-S days, cooling off rather than buying now will be the norm.  “Special days” (allowed in the No-S diet) would be visits to LYSes on trips.
  2. VouchersIelith describes a plan to exchange stash projects completed for vouchers to buy yarn for new projects.  3 small projects earns 1 Small Project Voucher.  2 large projects earns 1 Large Project Voucher.  That way you can still buy new yarn, but only as a reward for knitting from stash.  If I combined that with the No-S yarn diet, then I’d be buying yarn only for projects, and only after due consideration.
  3. The yarn bankToggleknits shares an idea to deposit a dollar (or your denomination of choice) in the yarn fund every time you use a certain amount of yarn from stash (say, a ball).  The money that you deposit can be withdrawn for yarn purchases.  Others have suggested keeping track by yards and allowing yourself to buy half or a third of the yardage you use.  I like this because it might involve keeping a special spreadsheet, which appeals to my geekiness.

It’s not that my stash is out of control — it’s just that it is making me feel guilty.  I’m looking forward to trying some of the Stash Down 2009 group’s trips and tricks (keeping track of yardage knit, picking a month to concentrate on the Shrine of Precious Yarns).  In combination with the other KALs I’m hoping to join, like Obscuriousity, and the ones I’m already a part of but have let sadly fall by the wayside, like Fingerless Glove Fanatics, I hope that there will be plenty of opportunities to pick out something from stash for nearly everything I might want to knit.

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Good will and good cheer

December 25, 2008

I’ve been so overwhelmed with gift knitting for the past several weeks that the FOs have been flying by without even registering here.  So here’s the 2008 Christmas roundup in order of completion, with recipient photos where available (more will be added as they come in).

#1:

Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks scarf previously blogged here.
Recipient: Niece Sydney.
Begun: October 10
Completed: October 25

#2:

Pattern: Drop-Stitch Scarf by Christine Vogel
Yarn: Argosy Zen 6-Ply (100% Mongolian cashmere), Harvest colorway
Needles: U.S. 10 1/2 wooden custom straights
Recipient: Sister-in-law Sherry
Begun: November 15
Completed: November 18

What a fast and glorious knit for all kinds of variegated yarns, especially luxury or unusual fibers! This is yarn I swapped blogless LindyG for when she needed a skein of Berroco Cotton Twist that I happened to have. I sped along with it, since each four-row repeat added about three inches to the scarf. Made it skinny (co 16 st) and long for wrapping and draping. Highly recommended.

#3:

Pattern: Cabled Mug Cozy by Knit Picks
Yarn: Knit Picks Main Line (75% Pima cotton, 25% merino wool), Adobo colorway
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood circulars (knit flat)
Recipient: Archer’s second-grade teacher, Mrs. Lea
Begun: November 19
Completed: November 21

I hadn’t done cables in months before fishing this yarn and pattern out of the Renaissance cotton sampler that Knit Picks offered a while back. It was a blast getting back into them, and I immediately went for another cable project to keep the love going. Packaged with a Starbucks mug and gift card, it made a sensational teacher gift.

#4:
Details hidden until such time as gift is received …

#5:

Pattern: Fetching by Cheryl Niamath
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy (75% Pima cotton, 25% acrylic), Blackberry colorway
Needles: U.S. 4 Harmony wood circulars (Magic Loop style)
Recipient: Camryn
Begun: November 22
Completed: November 27

Some of the moms with whom I shared a waiting room while Archer was having speech therapy this fall admired by knitting, and one in particular was over the moon for my Endpaper Mitts. One day as I was walking up to the building, she came running out of her van to beg me to knit a pair of fingerless gloves for her daughter Camryn, a precocious youngster of I’d guess 9 or 10, who often liked to converse with me while I knitted. I agreed and refused payment. When I delivered these, the mother was ecstatic. She gifted me with chocolate in return — a very good deal.

I went down two needle sizes from the pattern recommendation and used a lighter-weight yarn to try to get them smaller for her hands. The yarn was also from the Renaissance sampler.

#6:

Nalu Mitts previously blogged here.
Recipient: Cady Gray’s preschool teacher, Ms. Cindy
Begun: November 27
Completed: November 29

#7:

Pattern: Cathedral Purse by Knit Picks
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport (60% Pima cotton, 40% Modal), Leapfrog colorway
Needles: U.S. 5 Harmony wood circular
Recipient: 2 year old girl, Angel Tree charity drive
Begun: November 24
Completed: December 6

I used this little wrist purse as a learning and stashbusting exercise. One of the Angel Tree cards I took from the staff senate charity drive at my university was for a preschooler who wanted bags or purses. I packed up a little toy, a set of clothing, and a stuffed bear sitting in this purse. I hope she had a very merry Christmas.

#8:

Pattern: Irish Hiking Scarf by Adrian Bizilia
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino (100% merino wool), Bright Red colorway
Needles: U.S. 9 wooden straights
Recipient: Father-in-law Alex
Begun: November 30
Completed: December 8

After I went cable-happy with the mug cozy, I wanted to pull out one of my fat skeins of Patons Classic Wool and do some crisp, bright cables. The famous Irish Hiking Scarf certainly fit the bill. I enjoyed every minute of knitting it, and want to make all the matching accessories. Here’s Alex immediately after receipt:

#9:

Pattern: Philly Cowl (Ravelry link) by Caro Sheridan
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Cashmere (55% silk, 45% cashmere), Smoky colorway
Needles: U.S. 9 Harmony wood circular
Recipient: Mom
Begun: December 9
Completed: December 19

I snagged nine skeins of this yarn in two colors at Tuesday Morning near the beginning of December. Happily, this luxury fiber solved the problem of what to knit for Mom. I wanted to make her something she’d use, but something special — not everyday, not utilitarian. A cowl suggested itself. I had never knit one before, so it was a learning experience for me, and I messed it up about every way it was possible to do; but for such a small project, it wasn’t too painful to rip it out and fix it. This is only 2/3 of the height specified by the pattern; Mom’s a fairly conservative dresser, so a lot of scrunch and extra fabric isn’t really what she would want.

I searched for a pattern that had buttons so that Mom wouldn’t have to pull it over her head and mess up her hair. When I talked to her this evening, she sounded very happy with it. I hope she’ll send a picture soon.

#10:

Pattern: Nalu Mitts (Ravelry link) by Leila Raabe, my own mods to downsize
Yarn: Knit Picks Telemark (100% Peruvian highland wool), Snow Leopard colorway (discontinued)
Needles: U.S. 3 nickel Options fixed circular
Recipient: Cady Gray
Begun: November 29
Completed: December 21

While I was working on the mitts for Cady Gray’s teacher (and loving every second), CG asked whether I could make her some. As it turned out, I had a smidge less than a ball left after the adult-sized pair. If I’d been able to get an entire pair out of one ball, I would have made a pair for myself out of the remaining ball. But since I’d had to dip into ball #2, I knew that plan wouldn’t work. So why not grant a little girl’s wish? The mods I made to make a child’s size are detailed on the Ravelry project page. They came out fantastic, and she put them on immediately and barely took them off all day. “The greatest gift of all is that I made you something that you really like,” I told her in the afternoon after she exclaimed over them yet again. “Well, Mom, the greatest gift of all is that you’re my friend, actually,” she said with her best approximation of adult charm.

#11:

Pattern: Branching Out by Susan Lawrence
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (45% wool, 35% silk, 20% nylon), colorway 29
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood circular (knit flat)
Recipient: Mother-in-law Libby
Begun: December 4
Finished: December 24

This was my most time-crunched knit of the season. The lace was more complicated than I had knit before, and the first few repeats took me a long time. But when I got in a groove, it started to fly off the needles — I could do several repeats at a sitting. I did make one mistake — the border is in stockingette and not garter as specified. That means it will have a curling problem on the edges. Blocking worked pretty well, though. And Libby loved it. A great way to make the most of a single skein!

And that’s Christmas ’08 — The Knittening! I’ve bound off the bottom of my FLS and am heading for the sleeves. After that, the question is where to go next. Cady Gray’s Drive-Thru? My many sock wips? Or something entirely new, for the new year, and just for me?

It’s beginning to look

December 15, 2008

Nothing went exactly as planned today, and we’re looking forward to the same tomorrow.  Ice began falling from the sky in the morning, and by 1 pm the city schools announced they were closing in 30 minutes.  Snow and sleet made the ground white.  First the roof, then the driveway, then the road turned into a sheet of nubbly ice, like a spun sugar cake decoration.  I messaged Noel not to plan on driving home at midnight tonight from the airport, even if he’s able to fly in.  And the schools have just announced that they’ll be closed tomorrow.  I began to rejuggle my week’s tasks to take account of a twenty-four hour enforced hiatus.

And then the mail came. With a package from the Secret Knitter.

Can you tell what that design is? Here, try this one.

Ring any bells?

Yep, it’s the A.V. Club logo — in dishcloth form. I laughed out loud when I pulled these out. What a tonic for an anxious day.

SK kindly wrote up the pattern so I can make them for all my co-workers:

You see what he did there? It’s The A.V. Club Hipster Dishrag. Because the official phrase of the site is “hipster douchebag.” As memorialized on this bit of swag. This provoked a second outburst of genuine, out-loud laughing.

Oh, but that’s not all. For moi:

Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse. 100% superwash merino, fingering, hand-dyed in Buttercup colors. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

And probably for moi as well (Noel’s not here and I’m grabbing all the gusto I can get):

Chocolates from Pure Imagination.

Could anything else have raised my spirits as high from as low as they had sunk on this icy, dark, lonely day? A smile from a friend can make you feel like a new person, sometimes.