Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year! And 2010 FO# 15

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I can't believe that the next year is actually over.  Between starting a new business and spending much to much time at various medical establishments, the last twelve months have been challenging (to say the least!). Here's hoping 2012 is blissfully uneventful, quiet, and involves lots and lots of knitting.

A full update on the Christmas knitting will be following shortly.  Below is the first completed gifted present - Ben's Birthday socks knitted in Opal Prisma.  The recipient seems to like them!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday 7/8...ish

Just a short post, because I am busy knitting!  Only one week to go, and still much to do! (Yes, there are lots of exclamation points floating around in my brain right now! And I imagine will be until Christmas has passed.  So many things to cook! Presents to wrap! Drinks to drink!

Without further ado, I present to you 2011's 15 finished object which is also a completed Christmas present (yay!).

These are simple socks - standard 64-stitch top-down heel-flap-and-gusset.  The yarn is Cascade Heritage Paints, which is lovely and soft and gorgeous to knit with.

The recipient of this gift always seems very happy whenever I give her handknitted presents, but I never see her wear them, so these socks are a test to see whether or not I should continue to knit her gifts.  Seriously, though, who wouldn't  love these socks? They're gorgeous, even if I do say so myself.

The spreadsheet says I am 77% [62%] through my Christmas knitting. It looks like I'm not going to make it this year. At least the journey has been fun so far :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

WIP Wednesday 6/8

There's something about the particular insanity that messes with my sense of reason and reasonableness at Christmastime.  I think the sight of all the twinkly Christmas lights and the smell of gingerbread cooking that flicks a little switch in my brain, transforming me from eccentric and a little bit interested in wool to full-blown wackadoo crazy must knit to show how much I love! And, come Christmastime, I love everybody (except for the people who work in every post office I've been to.  Do they train you not to smile?)  Some may state that it's a batshit crazy a little bit silly to start a baby jacket for a baby that's due in four days with 4-ply wool and a pithy set of instructions, especially when there is still 40% of Christmas knitting to be completed.

Some may. Clearly not me.

Knitting completed: 60% of original plan, 49% of revised unrealistically optimistic plan.  Knitting time passed: six of the eight scheduled weeks.  I don't see a problem here at all...

PS: I've done a lot of my shopping online this year and I'd like to recommend T2. Their service was wonderful - my package arrived in a beautifully-wrapped gift box and included a free sample and a bonus $10 gift card.  Shipping was free (for orders over $60, which mine was) and I got a courtesy email checking that everything arrived safely and I was happy with my order.  I unreservedly recommend buying online from T2 and I will definitely shop there again.  Probably before Christmas, if I don't get all of my kntting done...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

WIP Wednesday 5/8...ish

Yes, it's Friday, not Wednesday, but the weather has been so cold and miserable for the last two days I haven't been able to stay outside long enough to take the photos.  Plus everything looks pretty much like last week!  The lateness of my blogging is not helped by the fact that I am having a massive slack day. I don't know why, but today I am find it incredibly difficult to motivate myself to do anything. I know I should clean the bathroom, hang out the washing, put away the dry clothes but really, all I can muster is a "meh".

So, here's a progress shot of all of the socks on the go:

According to my trusty Christmas spreadsheet, I have completed 57% of  my original knitting plans and I am 47% of the way through my crazy insane revised plans.  Not great but, really, today I don't actually care.  Meh indeed!

PS: Has anyone read the December issue of Donna Hay? Also very meh - I am kind of regretting asking for a subscription as an anniversary present...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

All Stockinette Socks All The Time: Christmas Wednesday WIPday 4/8

It's time for the weekly Christmas knitting update and really, it looks pretty much like last week.  The mens' socks were going well until Lucy got a bit antsy and pulled out the needle from the almost-finished heel flap:

Look at Herself here, all innocence.  "Who me?", she says.

Yes you, naughty kitty!

I finally bought the needles I needed yesterday, so I was able to turn the heel on Sock #1 for Friend S. I also completed the miraculous rare occurrence of going into a wool shop and buying only what I needed to get.  Amazing!

After I took the first bunch of photos it was too nice to go inside, so I picked up the live stitches and finished turning the heel on the Boring Brown Sock:

Turning a heel flap-and-gusset style while magic looping is a massive PITA and I wouldn't recommend it, but to get our Christmas knitting finished, sometimes we need to do things we don't want to do.

My handy spreadsheet tells me I am 48% finished if I stick to Plan Original and 39% finished if I aim for Plan CrazyPants with the two additional pairs of socks.  Not too bad, but not great after.  I have a quiet weekend coming up, so I hope for great things next Wednesday.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Luxe Boneyard: 2010 FO#15

Today I present you with a truly beautiful shawl photographed in a truly awful way:

It's another Boneyard, knitted out of yarn left over from my Abyssal and the yet-to-be-blocked-and-blogged Annis and a lone ball of alpaca from the stash.

This shawl is everything that's good about knitting.  The yarn it is made of is incredibly soft and gorgeous, and created a perfectly draping gorgeous scarf that's more a work of art than a practical object to wear.  I would never be able to afford a scarf made from these materials, especially not in a combination of colours that look gorgeous and that I totally adore.  I heart this scarf!

Pity about the crap photography, though.

This scarf is my fifth blocked and blocked this year.  I aimed to finish 11, and I'm not even halfway there yet!  Oh well, even if I don't make it to the the destination I have definitely enjoyed the journey.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

For Sure: Christmas WIP Wednesday 3/8

The Christmas knitting continues.  Last week I needed a travel project and the blue-stripe Opal socks were at the non-portable heel stage, so I started one of the other projects that need to be completed.  They're socks for my friend S out of Cascade Heritage Handpaints.  I think the colour is gorgeous - like the sea, but not like the actual sea (which is often not that interesting), but like how the sea is represented in Disney movies that involve mermaids and girls with really big eyes and itty bitty waists.  It was going swimmingly (see what I did there?) until I stupidly dropped one of the DPNs and lost it.  The sock is stalled until I go to my favourite wool shop and by another set, which doesn't sound hard but I do not want to go to that shop on my own because I know if I do, I'll end up buying more stuff! So I'm waiting until a) my resolve is stronger or b) I have no choice due to the need to give the sock to its recipient. 

I've also been working on the socks.  Why yes, there are two socks there.  That's because last week's splurge made me think I was a superquick master-knitter (consumption = ability), and I decided that for sure I can knock out an extra two pairs of socks before Christmas.  For sure! So I started on one of them.  It's the damn wool fumes - they get to me every time!

My Christmas spreadsheet says:
Percentage complete without two extra pairs: 41%
Percentage complete with two extra pairs: 31%

I can do it.  For sure.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

If this is wrong, I don't want to be right

One of my goals this year was to knit down my stash.  I hate the thought of all the unused yarns I have, sitting there waiting to be knit.  It makes me want to start All The Things right away so then the yarn won't be wasted...yes, I know it's silly. Yarn doesn't go off!

However, when I saw this bag of odds and ends of sock yarn on Ravelry destash, I just couldn't resist:

700g of assorted sock wool for $30! There's Opal, Regia, Tofutsies, random unidentified and unidentifiable skeins - wonderful and really great value for money.

I think I may have a sock-wool buying problem...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WIP Wednesday: 2/8

This week I thought for certain I'd have at least one thing more thing completed than I did last week, even if it was only one sock.  But the weekend was hot and I was feeling a bit alround blah, so I got nothing done knittingwise.  Instead, here is my experience of my first afterthought heel.

Step 1: Take a photo with my useless camera which washes out all colours. Realise that the washing-out of the picture means that the bit of the sock you want to illustrate is invisible.  Use iPhoto to 'enhance' the picture. Wince at how garish the photo is.  Dream of getting a new camera.

Step 2: Try to take a photo that shows the process of removing the knitted-in wool.  Try taking photos with your left hand. Swear at your useless left hand which apparently cannot operate a camera independentally. Try using the timer function while holding the camera in your left hand.  Sigh at the result and dream of a new camera with a little tripod.

Step 3. Take a photo with your right hand.  Realise that it is no better at taking photos.  Blame the terrible camera.

Step 3: Admire the freakish site sight of an 'opened' sock. Review post, go back and correct spelling of sight, noting that one's profession as an editor can be called into question if errors like that are made public.

It looks a bit like it wants to eat me! Attack of the killer sock! (okay, I'll stop now)

Step 4: Pick up the live stitches.  I'm doing the sock heel magic-loop style because all of my 2.25mm needles are being used by the other four socks I have going at the moment.  Is it wrong that tomorrow I am going to buy more? Because I think it's normal to have six socks on the go, especially when four of them are hidden so Sam can't see them and tease me about it.

At this point my erstwhile companion popped up to help me by leaning against my legs...

..but found that my legs weren't enough support after being overcome from the effort of walking the six metres from the back door to the bench, and needed a lie-down. (Yes, I am wearing a nightie. What can I say - I live to be comfortable, and what is more comfortable than sleepwear? Thank god no-one came to the door.)

I then knit the sock as I would a toe.  I'm not sure how may stitches to decrease down to, so I need Sam to try it on before I can graft the heel closed.

There are massive holes at either end of the heel which will need to be sewn shut.  Other than that, it's looking pretty good so far. I'm very happy with how the stripes look (Opal, how I love thee and thee's gorgeous striping sock yarn).  Afterthought heel = success. Progress on Christmas knitting, not so much.

If anyone ever needs proof why I should never have a day off: I entered all of the Christmas present knitting information into an Excel spreadsheet and have discovered that I have approximately 35% of my Christmas knitting done.  Ironically, if I'd, you know, actually knitted on stuff instead of typing about it, that percentage would be higher.  I just can't be trusted with computer, an Internet connection and a whole bunch of office software :(

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Christmas WIP Wednesday 1/8 plus 2011 FOs#12-14

I was returning from my daily (well...almost daily) walk earlier when I noticed this in my garden:

Seriously, how pretty!  My garden is inherited from the previous resident, so these little surprises keep popping up as we head towards summer.  Unfortunately, it is also completely unmaintained by me, so this will probably be the last year this happens, as I imagine next year it will be replaced by a nice easy-to-look-after lawn.

I don't know what this says about me, but my second thought after 'Oh, pretty!' was 'Photograph knitting in garden'.  You see, I made a very public statement about the Christmas knitting I want to get done this year and I just realised that there are less than two months left before Christmas (!!).  In fact, this is the first of only EIGHT WIP WEDNESDAYS LEFT (!!!!).  So, like Stephen Fry with his twitter diet, I thought that if I recorded my progress, then I would have an impetus to, you know, actually make progress.  Therefore, here's my new knitting since last week, the first 30-ish% of my sister's Daybreak.  It's travelling along swimmingly, and I see no reason why I shouldn't have it finished and blocked for next week.  I might even have enough yarn left over from the scarf for a matching pair of fingerless gloves.  Which leads me to my next paragraph... 
My lovely friend Christian gave me a single hank of Koigu KPPM he bought while on a trip to the US.  There's not much you can do with only one skein of KPPM, but I scoured Ravelry and found Mitt Envy by Weezalana.  And voila, in approximately two minutes flat I had a pair of fingerless mitts that fit like a glove (ha ha, I'm so very funny) and used only 35g of the skein:

Not a bad segue, right?  But where is my index finger? Anyhoo, the knitting and wearing occurred while I was in hospital (it was very cold in my ward), and the lovely woman who lived opposite me asked me if I'd make her a pair.  She was a complete sweetheart and also very cold, so I got Sam to bring in some of the stash and I knitted her up a pair out of the useless-for-socks-but-great-for-mitts-and-shawls sock yarn Patonyle that has been in the stash for at least four years.

And then my friend Cara, who was a truly excellent friend for me in hospital, bringing me lots of food and good coffee and useful things like lip balm and facewash saw the stash yarn that wasn't chosen and the finished mitts and asked for a pair also.  So, wham bam thank you ma'am I knocked her up a pair also in Cleckheaton Merino Bambino that has been in the stash for two and a half years:

Okay, so that's the palm of my mitts, but I stupidly gifted the mitts without photographing them but I still want to count them on my 2011 FO list, so just imagine they look exactly like this but are white, purple and yellow. Very pretty.

I made a few mods - I lengthened the bottom ribbing by 24 rows and the top ribbing by 16 rows.  I omitted the cable because, well, I hate doing cables.  These mitts fit perfectly, they're warm, I got to use up pretty new yarn and pretty stash yarn and these mitts gave me the opportunity to share the love with those who have been lovely to me.  Win win all round.

Seven WIP Wednesday's to go...let the Christmas knitting continue!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's Deja Vu All Over Again & 2011 FO# 11

There is one more thing I should have mentioned in this post that I do every year without fail.  No matter how many times I repeatedly tell myself that this year I won't do it, this year will be different, this year will be all about me, on the 1st of October I start making Christmas presents for my nearest and dearest.

I think it's an illness...

This year I am Keeping It Real or, at least as realistic as I can be once the wool fumes go to my head. From top to bottom clockwise in the picture above, there's a pair of socks for my friend Seona, a Daybreak for my sister, a Baby Surprise Jacket for my friend Jess and another pair of socks for Sam's brother.  That is eminently doable, especially when you consider I just borrowed four Hitchcock movies and Season 1 of Dowton Abbey from the library.  Completely doable. See, I've almost convinced myself!

It's pretty sad that I had almost all of the yarn for all of those presents already neatly bagged up in various bins in my house.  I may not have shared this, because I am a really crap blogger, but this year one of my  major goals was to use up my stash.  I don't want a lot of stash - I want to be the kind of person who buys wool only for immediate use.  My (too extensive for me) stash guilts me every time I think of it.  I don't want to die with unused wool or unrealised yarn dreams!  I have bought yarn this year, but all of it was cast on immediately and not added to the stash. The wool I bought today was the black Patonyle in the back, and it's one of those ironic instances where buying more yarn decreases the overall stash.  The grey Patonyle I've had for about three/four years - it's just a nothing colour that I never got excited about.  However, when paired with the black it has the potential to become a modern, classy, classic scarf.  It was hard to be in a yarn store and only buy one thing, but I knew I was doing the right thing.

The Christmas Knitathon 2011 is also contributing to my Growth As A Knitter (a very useful phrase I saw on a blog a few days ago.  I wish I could remember who's blog it was...).  I love the striping of the Opal and I didn't want the heel to screw it up, so I'm doing an afterthought heel for the first time.  Wish me luck!  Although, if it doesn't look very good, these can be Sam's Christmas socks.

How's for impressive though - one pair of socks are already done!  They're Opal Magic colourway 1043, and they're my friend Lisa's Christmas present.  It's my standard 64-stitch top-down heel-flap-and-gusset sock recipe, and the colours are those of her football team.  It's my first completed Christmas present of the year, and I am so excited to be one present down with just under two months to go! Yay me! (too many exclamation points? I suspect so.)

This is what they'll look like wrapped up in their pretty paper.   I hope she likes them!

 Wish me luck with Christmas Knitathon 2012.  I think I'll need it...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crappy photos and finished socks (2011 FOs #9 & #10)

I mainly read knitting and cooking blogs.  I don't know what it says about me that I'd rather read about what Internet people create and how they do it than what bloggers feel and do...I suspect it just confirms how antisocial and introverted I am! Anyway, with these subject-specific blogs that I read, the good ones improve over time - the photos look better, the writing is more interesting and often the knitting/cooking improves.  This makes sense, because clearly if you do something often you're going to get better at it.

Well, unless you're me.  I've been sharing random thoughts and knitting projects on the Internet for over five years, and look at the best I can do:

I can't even figure out how to make them sit next to each other!  I am the worst blogger ever.

These are two pairs of socks  knitted for my big-footed boyfriend.  The first ones are knitted in Opal Rainforest in Raupe (Caterpillar).  Opal, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways - you're a wonderful hardwearing sock yarn that knits up nicely, tells stories with your colourways and also looks pretty.  You're the bomb. Incidentally, these were his birthday socks that I started knitting while in hospital.  His birthday is in May, I finished them last week...near enough is good enough, right?

The second pair are my annual footy finals pair.  Interestingly, two years ago I struggled to get a pair of short socks finished for Sam in the three weeks between the qualifying and the grand final.  These ones were longer with a deeper heel and I knocked them off in 10 days.  I'm definitely knitting faster, which is good to know.  These socks are knitted with Moda Vera Noir in Laguna that I got from Spotties on sale for $4. Cheapest sock yarn evah!  Not bad but definitely an inferior yarn to the Opal.  It'll be interesting to see how these hold up over time.

As I have mentioned numerous times, Sam has massive feet.  I recently realised that not only are his feet massive, the volume of his heel is huge also.  I don't know how to explain it well - he's got a high instep and his socks always strained around the heel area.  Following the advice of the great Elizabeth Zimmermann, I designed a heel that would accommodate that greater volume.  I knit the heel flap 1.5 times as long as the normal heel flap, which means I pick up more stitches from the side which leads to longer gussets and a better-fitting sock.  However, it uses a crapload more yarn - about 10-15% (maths is not my strong suit). But it's worth the extra sock-knitting for a sock that fits like a dream.

Because even though I suck at photography it doesn't mean I don't care, I broke out the iPhoto special effects:

I try!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again

September in Melbourne signals the same things every year.  The weather gets warmer and, enticed by the clear blue sky and bright crystal sun, people start to turn off the ducted heating and step outside into the daylight.  Football fever takes over the city and perfectly normal people start doing crazy things like wearing football paraphernalia outside of the accepted football arenas and in their everyday life and spending $600 on grand final tickets for two games that their team doesn't even win (well, I don't know how widespread that final instance is, but it was me last year.   Clearly I'm still holding some resentment.) And I cast on Football Finals socks and plant a whole bunch of seeds which I water enthusiastically for about three weeks and then completely neglect until they die.  I'm a sock-knitting plant murderer!

Firstly, the socks.  For the last two years, I cast on for a pair of socks during St Kilda's Qualifying Final and then knit frantically on the pair throughout September, convinced if I didn't finish the socks before the grand final then St Kilda would lose.  Well, in neither year did I finish the socks and in neither year did St Kilda win a grand final.  Draw what conclusions from that information that you will. This year, I broke with tradition and cast on during the Geelong-Hawthorn Qualifying rather than the St Kilda one (I needed to start a new project), and the Saints lost the Qualifying, which is their worst finals results in many years.  Next year, I'm knitting a blanket instead.  Just in case.

Hopefully we'll have lemons...

..coriander and chillies..

..and mint and chillies very soon!

 Melbourne in spring, I heart you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Resurrected & 2011 FO# 8: Hospital Socks

I started these socks in hospital.  I was bored, woozy and desperately in need of bright and cheerful things.

 The pattern is basically your normal sock with a simple lace panel on either side.  However, and this gives you an indication of how totally whacked out on pain killers I was - I could not even cope with a simple four-row lace pattern.  It was completely incomprehensible to me.  So, the pattern, the yarn and the needles got shoved into a bag and promptly forgotten about (the painkillers made it very easy to forget all sorts of things...).

Fast forward two months later, and I'm at home - bored, cranky and with horrible cold toes.  While unpacking all my bags from the hospital I spy a glaring yellow barely started sock (honestly, it's hard to miss - it's pretty freaking bright) and my prayers for occupation and toe-warming are answered.  One week later I have warm toes, have passed my time pleasantly watching old movies and knitting socks, and am generally all-around feeling much better.

I used my usual 64 stitches on this sock, but the combination of 2.5mm needles (I usually use 2.25mm) and the slightly-thicker-than-normal Jitterbug yarn led to these socks being just a tiny bit too big to wear with shoes.  It suits me though - I'm wearing them as bed/house slippers and I know that when I see their brightness, it's bound to make me feel a little bit happier than I was before.

Pattern: Pillars by Lisa Stichweh (Rav link)
Yarn: One of my favourites - Colinette Jitterbug in Vincent's Apron
Notes/Modifications: Used my own stitch count for the sock, a short-row heel and my own standard toe.

But, as they say in the classics - wait, there's more!  One of the benefits of moving (and there aren't many that I can see) is the chance to go through all your long-forgotten belongings that have been shoved into bags, drawers and boxes, and then forgotten about.   A long time ago (in October 2007, according to Ravelry), I started a mitered square blanket (honestly, I am an awful blogger.  This a major project which involves a huge investment of capital and time, and did I mention starting it? Did I discuss the process? Nope, I just made random mention of squares I was knitting.  Bad me!).  Anyhoo, when moving I found the 38 squares that I had finished for the blanket and realised that I only had 10 squares to go before I could start the seaming.  Admittedly, this did not make me pick up the blanket again, but did make it seem more possible that one day it would eventually be finished.  I stored it in the bottom drawer of the dresser.

Two weeks ago, Sam threw a bit of a tanty because, out of the six drawers in our massive chest of drawers, three and a half are occupied by my clothes and one is full of wool.  To appease him (and because even I can see that situation is not exactly fair) I pulled out the Mitered Square Blanket.  Since the wool and all the squares were out already, I thought it wouldn't do any harm to knit a few more squares.  Wham bam thank you ma'am, eight of the ten squares are finished and I should be ready to start the seaming tomorrow.  There is a chance that this blanket may be finished by October, meaning that it would have only taken a mere four years to finish the blanket.  A perfectly reasonable timeframe! My old knits, resurrected :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hospital Blues: 2011 FO #7 Blue Jay Boneyard

On the night I broke my leg, I slipped and immediately know something was very wrong.  We immediately called the ambulance and while we were waiting Sam packed a bag for me.  Bless his lovely soul, in addition to my wallet and mobile phone he packed three knitting projects.  One of them was this:

I knitted this entire shawl in the five days after my operation before I was transferred to rehab.  I can remember precisely nothing of the process at all - zilch.  I must have enjoyed it because I did finish it quickly (for me), but I have no memory of it.

The finished shawl then got lost in the move from hospital from hospital and then apartment to apartment, only to be rediscovered a few weeks ago.  I blocked it, and I now have a brand-new scarf in some of my favourite colours that feels likes a present from me to me!

This yarn was originally going to be socks, but when I was knitting them up I got hardcore pooling of the black part of the yarn which obliterated all the other subtle variations of the yarn. The Boneyard pattern really showcases this particular yarn - it’s a perfect marriage between wool and pattern.

Pattern: Boneyard, by Stephen West
Yarn: My favourite - Colinette Jitterbug, colourway Jay
Notes/Modifications: Because I am short, I modified the pattern so there were six increases every two rows instead of four, meaning I ended up with a shorter, wider shawl. I did this by changing the increases at each side of the shawl to YOs and increasing at the start and end of each row, just like Ishbel.