Jan 28, 2013

Found Time

I began the day hoping for a snow day, then was sure we weren't going to get one, then surprised that we were called off. I like to think I use found time well, but this morning found me napping.

As I continue to work through my UFO pile, I find myself both excited about discarded projects and disgusted at myself for leaving them incomplete. My weekend was spent determining how I increased for sleeves on a Lloie's cardigan I began nearly three years ago, and pleased that the notes I left for myself actually make sense. I'd hoped to join the sleeves with the body today but indecision kept me from commitment. I've been uncertain about sleeve length, and now became worried I wasn't choosing the right length for the body.

After a quick consult with a friend on twitter, where I was told that more grey stockinette stitch would not ACTUALLY kill me, I made the body longer. Not really long ENOUGH, because I needed some color in my life.

I cast on a headband for a colleague. Nearly finished but for the edging, and I hope to do that tomorrow.

Apparently I found time to create a new UFO.

Isn't that what I've been trying to avoid?

My day ended with a productive meeting with friends from my guild. Amidst the conversations, I do think we hammered out all that we needed to as we prep to host a teacher in March.

All in all a good day, but I always feel like I should be so much more productive when I find myself with so much unscheduled free time. Tomorrow it's back to the real world.

And more grey stockinette stitch. Hopefully the headband was a good vaccine for the boredom. After all, I do have the color work yoke ahead, that should keep me focused, right?

Jan 25, 2013

Pinch Me

I can't believe it's at this point.

And with the completion of Cloud Chaser, I'm in the single digits with my UFOs.

Seems like some good photos should be up here soon. I have several things to share. I'm realizing I never got good shots of the Philosopher's Wool sweater I finished, and I was so excited to show off Matlie's Birthmas vest yesterday that I didn't show you mine.

Here's a peek.

Jan 23, 2013


It's a long story...

Jan 22, 2013


When I found out that my Sunday plans were to be thrown out the window because J was sick, I have to admit to feeling a tiny bit of joy to know that I could spend all day doing whatever I wanted.  I was eager to make a dent in my Cloud Chaser.  I stayed far away from the germs and knit on another floor than where the sickness was.  I dutifully checked in every hour to be sure that there was plenty of Gatorade, blankets, bananas and brown rice available.  I thought, under the circumstances, that I was being a pretty good wife.  And I did get some serious knitting done.

Then came Monday.  I was sure that my stomach was making every effort to leave my body by any means necessary.  I can't really fault my friend Matlie for her lack of sympathy and lust for my knitting stash and finished sweaters when I told her I was near death.  After all, it was my secret joy on Sunday that got me into this mess.  Karma can really do a number on you.

Watch out Matlie, it may be coming to you next.

I muddled through school today, and took a four hour nap when I got home.  Truly, I think we've been lucky as this bug seems to be only of the 24 hour sort.  We're on the mend, but not completely ourselves yet.  With a long week ahead, we're both trying to put off all but the necessities. I've sanitized much of the house, and tomorrow plan to wash all blankets and sheets that may have been missed in our cleaning on Monday night.

I did finish much of the collar I was fretting about on Friday, but this vest may forever be tainted in my mind as the one I knit while I was near death.  Hopefully I can make some new memories when I wear it.

Jan 18, 2013

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep

I finished the left front of my vest. I felt like it was a pretty big accomplishment until I realized one thing.

This is one repeat of the collar. I have fifteen, 63 stitch, 24 row repeats to go plus a 14 rows of ribbing. That's 23,562 stitches to go. But who's counting?

Jan 17, 2013

A Milestone

I have finished the body of my Cloud Chaser vest, now it's on to the collar. If I get my act together at school tomorrow, I be able to use my three day weekend to make a pretty big dent in it. My goal is to wear it to Knit Michigan in a few weeks.

Jan 16, 2013

Taking Time to Plan

I'm lucky to have a student teacher in my room this semester. I think I've mentioned that I'm concerned that I may not be the best model for her, but it's been nice for me to think carefully about what I do in my classroom and to see things through different eyes. She's working on creating units to teach after our students take finals. So far, she's been watching us finish the semester and getting to know my students. I've been sort of envious of the time she's able to spend planning out her work. Actually, not sort of. Really envious would be more like it. Everything goes so much smoother when you have a roadmap to guide you along the way. I'm hopeful that my students will respond well to all that she brings to the classroom when she eventually becomes the lead teacher. I suspect they will. I truly have a great group of students this year.

Tonight in my knitting class we did some planning too. One student is knitting a Knit Swirl sweater and the construction is more than a little atypical. When she started, we talked about writing out the plan row by row, or welt by welt. Having a linear, well written guide to follow as you read the designers instructions can sometimes be a big help.

I know knitters who put the directions into a spread sheet, some copy the pattern and highlight and make notes, and I even made multiple copies one time cut it apart and put each line of the directions onto a 3x5 card and flipped through the stack as I knit. Some use sticky notes and others highlighter tape...Knit Companion is an app that you can use for an electronic map through the pattern, and I currently use my iPad and the Good Reader app to make digital notes and move through charts.

For this knitter, we have a plan.

A welt by welt, and for this section of the sleeves, a row by row plan that she can check off as she goes. Someday soon she's going to have a gorgeous sweater made from Madeline Tosh, and she'll be certain she made no mistakes because she'll be following a plan.

It got me wondering. How do you plan your knitting? What tips and tricks help you through the tricky bits?

Jan 15, 2013

Remind Me I Like to Knit

Two and a half hours until I can begin the endless collar.

I do love it, but am so eager to be working on something else. Every pattern on Ravelry looks better to me than this one does right now. I keep reminding myself that when I finish this, it will be my third adult garment that I've finished this year, fourth if you want to count the child sized Tomten.

That's not too shabby, 'eh? If you're wondering what I'm up to for the next few days, I'll be knitting this vest...because I LIKE to knit.

Jan 14, 2013

Is Resistance Futile?

I had a major case of startitis this weekend.  I have been diligently working through my list of UFOs and want to cast on something new.  To be fair, I've knit a couple of small little projects in the past couple of weeks.  I've made two cowls and two hats, but those don't really count, do they?  They were fun little knits that didn't really hold much allure.  They were almost cast off as soon as they were cast on.

My friend Kim came over to knit on Saturday, and having spent Friday in my new Philosopher's Wool sweater, I felt pretty darn good about myself, and thought I'd reward myself with a new sweater. But I don't have my swatch knit for the one I think I can finish quickly.  I do have swatches done for two other sweaters. (Ignore the fact that both sweaters will be knit from the same yarn. . .and that I only have enough to make one sweater from that quantity of yarn. . .those details aren't really important.)  Kim had the perfect social knitting project with her.  A simple 1x1 ribbed scarf made with self striping yarn.  Enough interest in the color changes, but simple enough to talk and watch movies while knitting.  I needed such a project.  Since I STILL can't find my elusive skein of sock yarn, I thought maybe I'd cast on a new pair.  (rejected because in spite of how quickly I knit, they are not quick projects and would be bound to be a new UFO)  I thought I might cast on a Jacobus Monkey (also rejected because I don't know what color to knit, and I'd have to wind sock yarn) I thought I might knit a hat for my uncle (rejected because I need to find a pattern, and I'm not actually sure he'll wear it)  Maybe that sweater out of the Greenfield Village yarn?  (rejected because of the no swatching issue stated above)  I downloaded a couple of new patterns from Ravelry, and began to pick out the yarn to knit some significant garter stitch wraps (rejected because I have the good sense not to start a massive undertaking without support, and Jennie says she can't KAL until much later this year)  I thought about a bog jacket and began to plan colors (rejected because my pattern is at my aunt's house)  With a sigh, I grabbed my basket with the Cloud Chaser Vest I started last year some time.  I'd already knit the back and most of the right front.  This surely wouldn't take long, would it?

Let's just say that I hate UFOs.  They suck the life out of you.  I knit all day Saturday, and a few hours on Sunday.  I've got the right front done, and am only eight repeats and some ribbing from finishing the left.  To be fair, it's a lot of knitting on size 4 needles, and I added a significant amount of length to the fronts to account for how I think it should drape and my very tall frame.  Matlie was getting row by row updates all weekend. . .I think she'll tell you I'm at around 74 rows remaining to the fronts (but seriously, who's counting?)  This all sounds well and good, but take a look at that pattern on Ravelry.  Have you seen the collar?  I'm in knitting Purgatory.

When I was out on Sunday, I almost succumbed to the lure of new sock yarn.  I had two really pretty skeins in my hands and was ready to check out. . .and then I put them back.

I did not cast on anything new.

I kept on knitting on my UFO, but it's still a long way from being finished.  I think maybe I'll reward myself with some swatching and a new sweater when it's done, but then I think about my Lloie's cardigan that is waiting for me.  I'll probably be complaining about that in a few weeks, and skipping the new sweater.   I'm imagining the freedom that must come to those knitters who are monogamous to one project at a time.  The idea I could cast on anything I wanted without guilt and forget about the shame that comes with knowing I have so many projects I love that sit unfinished.  I think I may want to be that knitter.  So for now I'm doing my penance.  I'll keep working on these long forgotten loves.

But today?  I couldn't take it.  I only knit two rows.  Not really enough to call progress, but still a teeny bit of forward momentum.  And then I sat down and my sewing machine and made myself a pair of pants.  Take that.  A new project cut out, sewn and ready to wear to school tomorrow if I want.  A balm for my startitis, and a useful way to work through that fabric stash that I typically pretend I don't have since it fits inside the closet so neatly.  I almost walked away from them when the elastic wasn't the right length, thinking I could fix them later. . .but then I got out my seam ripper and made them perfect.  

I think I may be turning over a new leaf.

Jan 11, 2013

Party like it's 1954

I live in a small community, and enjoy my quiet neighborhood. The people are friendly, and the houses well kept. Tonight, we had a dinner party with neighbors that was long overdue. It felt a little June and Walt Cleaver, but I realize that time spent with friends over a home cooked meal are rare these days. It was a nice end to a long week, and I hope to repeat it again soon.

Hopefully your week ended just a peacefully, and your weekend plans are filled with creative endeavors that will carry you through the week when it seems like time for creating is tough to find.

Jan 10, 2013

All the Things

I was given a skein of interesting yarn for Christmas this year that I've been eager to knit up. It's a bunch of different yarns that coordinate, with a pattern for an infinity scarf made with a mobieus cast on. It's Island Yarn Combo Fibers and is a clever use of the yarn, as you get what appears to be two stripes from each of the unique colors/fibers in the skein. I thought it would be a fast knit, and didn't even bother to wind it into a ball. It's moving a bit slower than I expected (you mean I don't knit at the speed of light? really?) and I'm a bit disappointed it's not done as I head off to bed tonight.

It may be that it's not growing as quickly as I'd like because I'm fondling this yarn--a Christmas present to myself.

My Grandmother worked at Greenfield Village when I was a teen, and I've always wanted to purchase this soft and bouncy merino wool grown at their historic Firestone Farm. In December when I took a trip there to hear some of my students perform, I saw some roving in their gift shop and inquired about the yarn. They brought some from another of their shops just for me, and some finally made it's way to my stash. I have four skeins that I think will be perfect for the Streamside Cardigan. I'm ready to cast on, but haven't knit my gauge swatch yet. Plus, I keep thinking I should finish another of my UFOs before I cast on a larger project like this. Still, it's distracting me.

If the new knitting projects on my horizon weren't enough, guess what arrived today?


I want to cut and sew and draft and revise and sew some more. The colors are fun, and my creative juices are flowing. I want to knit and sew and swatch and. . .I want to do all the things.

It's good that the weekend isn't far off.

Jan 9, 2013

Sleep is Good

I muscled through my day today, somewhat in a fog. Not a stitch knit, nor bit of fabric sewn. I'm hoping that yesterday's craftiness makes up for the lack of it today.

At our guild meeting last night, I thought I'd work on a pair if simple socks. I didn't plan things out properly, though, since I made it to the end of the sock, and didn't have the second ball of yarn in my bag to knit. Poor planning.

I actually like this yarn more than I expected to. It's Paton's Kroy that I bought at a big box store, and figured I needed to get out of my stash. It's not the softest yarn, but I like a yarn with a little tooth for my socks. Now if only I could find the second skein...

I tossed the sock yarn cabinet, thinking it was there.

No luck.

I wasn't terribly worried, and figured it was in my basket downstairs, but it wasn't there either. If you see it, will you send it my way?

Yesterday morning when I should have been sleeping, I also worked on a couple of little bags. My friend Joyce had one of these at our guild retreat a few years ago, and I've been thinking of it ever since. When I saw the pattern at a quilt store this summer, I snatched it up. It's called "What's In Your Bag" and I just love it.

That black area on the front may not really show up in the photo, but it's a clear window so you can see the inside.

Two of them went together pretty quickly out of a few scraps I had sitting around. There are some things I'd like to change about it, but love the idea. I ordered a bunch of zippers this weekend and feel a burst of sewing coming on.

Turns out, you can operate an iPhone from the outside of the plastic. That opened up a whole realm of possibilities and really got me thinking. A perfect little purse for your iPhone? It might be right around the corner. I'd also like to see what it's like with a mesh front similar to Namaste's Oh Snap bags.

So I'm curious. Made a bit larger to hold a small project? Smaller for a notions bag? What kinds if things would YOU put in a little zippered pouch? What size is the perfect size? This inquiring mind wants to know.

But today, without a crafty moment of my own, I'm going to catch up on some of that sleep I missed out on earlier in the week. Sleep is good.

Jan 8, 2013

Burning at Both Ends

I was awakened at 1am this morning and couldn't make myself fall back asleep. I tried reading, flipping and flopping in bed, and playing on the iPad. Nothing worked, so I gave in and got out of bed.

I will have to admit, that even though I'm extremely tired, that I've been very productive today. There's something to be said for burning the candle at both ends.

Hopefully I can get some solid sleep tonight and entertain you with photos of my productivity tomorrow.

Jan 7, 2013

In a Flash

I was excited to post that I've finished my first garment of the year tonight, but then I realized it's actually my second adult garment. Last week I knocked off a vest for my friend Matlie. I can't show you pictures yet, because the knitting is still a surprise. She knows she's getting a vest, and even knows the color, since it was her yarn. . . but doesn't know exactly which vest pattern I could have chosen. We're supposed to exchange presents on January 15, but since we've never met a deadline yet, you may have to wait some for the big reveal.
Tonight, I finished a Philosopher's Wool sweater. I'm totally smitten with their colors and kits. Tonight's finish makes my sixth kit that I've finished from them, and I have two more in the stash to knit up. No one needs that many boxy sweaters, so I've knit some in trade, given some as gifts, and this will be the second one for me. I improvised a bit, and am pretty happy with the shape of the sweater. I'm a bit disappointed with the color change in the yoke. . .in my improvisation, I didn't realize there was such a dramatic color change between the two black balls of yarn I was using. I've got a pretty noticeable line where the change happens, but I'll live with it. This was never intended as an heirloom garment, and I plan to snuggy into it when I'm knitting in my chilly basement this winter or running out to the market for dinner supplies.
The directions say to use liquid dish detergent to wash the sweater and clean out the spinning oils from the sweater, and to expect water that is quite black looking. After doing this a few times, I know what to expect, but it's still a surprise. On the first soak, I put my hands in the water to gently move the sweater around, and it was so dark that I couldn't see my own hands! I think I wound up rinsing it at least four or five times until the water was clear enough for my liking. Instead of the baby oil that the recommend for the final rinse to replace the lanolin in the sweater, I use a bit of scented massage oil. I like the scent better, and the one I use is an organic product made by a company who's owners I consider friends. I suppose you could wash with any of the wool wash products on the market, but I always follow the Philosopher's Wool directions when I knit one of their sweaters.
Officially, this makes two adult sweaters done in 2013. If the rest of the year goes by as quickly as my knitting has this week, it'll be gone in a flash.
Here's a tease until I can get some proper photos to add to this post. . .

Jan 4, 2013

And Done.

The cowl, a hat and the week. The hat may get a do over, but the rest went pretty well.

Jan 3, 2013

I Cast On

True, it's from stash (so I'm using up, not consuming more, that's good, right? right?. . .) Also true, it is the one skein knit along that my guild participates in each month (that makes it social, community building knitting. . .) And yes, it will probably be a Christmas gift for my aunt (to add to my ever growing stash of gifts already ready for the holidays of 2013 which is impressing the heck out of me and makes me feel so darn organized. . .)

But when I add this beauty to the UFO list that went from thirteen to eleven yesterday along with the crochet project I had forgotten to add initially, I'm suddenly back to thirteen again. Boo.

Jan 2, 2013

Even Toshi is Tired

Why is it that the last day of vacation seems to be the busiest? I know I lost a couple of days due to a stomach bug, but come on!

As I head back to work tomorrow, I'll be missing the lazy days on the couch and my list of personal to do items. I've got a huge list waiting for me at school that I'd like to complete before I leave on Friday. We'll see if I can make it disappear.

Today didn't seem all that hectic, since I was at home for most of the day. But my day was filled with heaps of laundry, cleaning up loose ends, finishing a few more UFOs, and some pampering. I left the house for the pampering, and a one hour turned into an hour and a half. . .and I was later than expected on my way home for my knitting class. From the looks of Toshi tonight, you'd think she spent the day running circles around me, or had a rough time guarding the house. Alas, she was napping most of the day. I'll be thinking of her tomorrow when my students and I will be wishing for her list:
sleep on the bed
bark out the front window
sleep by the front door
sleep by the back door
bark and run upstairs

I think I could take a few more days of a life like that, you?

I shared what I think is an interesting tip with one of my knitting students tonight. She's working on her first shaped garment, and it has a lace panel right where she's binding off and decreasing for the front. When I'm working a particularly challenging pattern that has me stumped, I graph it. Using knitters graph paper (honestly any graph paper will do) I graph the section that I'll be working and binding off. Then as I read through the directions line by line, I highlight the stitches I'm binding off. A quick check across the row to ensure I have matching increases and decreases helps me keep my stitch counts on target and lets me adjust on paper before I begin knitting. If you try this, remember, when you highlight a stitch you've bound off, don't forget to highlight it in the remaining rows, and work from the stitches that are left when you continue your bindoffs for your neck, for instance.

Off to sleep, the alarm rings early tomorrow, and I wouldn't want to disturb poor Toshi, she's whipped.

Jan 1, 2013

Health, Education, Plan

It's the end of New Year's Day, and I can't seem to not be surprised at how the time seems to slip through my fingers. Can it really be that the passing of hours from one year to the next really doesn't mean anything?

The year 2012 brought me less Joy, Self, and Completion than I'd hoped. It brought loss and service to others and a bit of scattered startitis. Not that I'm complaining. Overall, I'm pleased with much of what I experienced last year. I do miss a good friend who passed away this fall, and wish I'd completed more of what I'd hoped to.

Regardless of your thoughts on resolutions and change in the new year, I hope that 2013 brings you and yours all that you hope for and more.

In keeping with last year's post, I'm picking three new words for my year.

Health. Education. Plan.

My mental health, physical health and spiritual health have all been a bit neglected recently. Not that I'm in ruins, but it hasn't been a priority for me. Putting health forward in my thoughts may help me to plan more healthy meals like I made for dinner tonight--Hoppin' John Bowl with Red Hot Tahini from theppk.com

It may also help me to better prepare for the half marathon I intend to complete again this October.

As a teacher, education is always present. . .but often for others. I have a student teacher beginning her work with me soon, and I'd like to be sure that I take advantage of her time in my classroom to learn too. Also, there is much I'd like to learn about in many areas of my life. Maybe even share some of that here in my much neglected space on the web.

I'm contemplating a Julie and Julia-esque look at one of my favorite knitting books about mittens. That could come to play in this too, but will take some dedicated time and planning.

Oh yeah. . .that one.

My time seems to be running through my fingers lately. I want to make the most of the time I've got free from responsibilities and do the things I really want to devote my time to. I've been finishing up UFOs, and have already packaged and wrapped some things for next Christmas. It feels good. I'm enjoying this small burst of productivity. I desperately want to cast on for a new project, but I'm holding firm for awhile yet. My thirteen UFOs still hold some appeal for me, and I'd like to have a thoughtful progression into my next project. A plan. A plan for my knitting. Honestly, my finances too. . .and my exercise and eating and instruction and . . .well, I think you get the idea.

Here's a shot of my first finished item from 2013--the one that brought my UFOs closer to being single digits. A Tomten sweater knitted with scraps of icelandic wool from a friend.

So. How about you? Resolutions? Plans? What are your hopes for 2013? I'd love to compare notes.