Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A little bit of crazy

I've made really good progress on all my planned Christmas knitting. I'm at least half way, if not two-thirds of the way, finished with the both projects I blogged about last week. And I am really happy with how they are turning out, which makes me very excited for Christmas. It is the best feeling giving a gift you are proud of and know will be enjoyed by the recipient.

I haven't worked on much besides these two gifty projects, but with the progress I've made, I think I've eased myself into this safety zone. I feel like I will accomplish my goals for holiday knitting, so I've allowed myself to think just a bit about knitting some personal projects. Just a wee bit of selfish knitting, here and there. But I've been in a little bit of a slump when it comes to my personal knitting projects. After knitting the full back of my Yane sweater, I ran into some yarn issues that has put it on the back burner for a bit. I had projects I wanted to work on, but I just wasn't completely in love with them as much as I wanted to be.

After digging through my favorites, I was really feeling a fair isle or stranded knitting project. I haven't worked on a project with stranded knitting since my Endpaper mitts, so I had that on my mind while searching through patterns. And that's also when I think I lost my mind. Because I ran across the beautiful Perianth mitten pattern and remembered the stunning cardigan that was adapted from the chart of the mittens. And I said to myself, "I really love this cardigan. I really want this cardigan. I will make. This. Cardigan." And then I jumped off the deep end. I decided this would be my birthday present to myself and bought (what I hope will be) enough MadTosh Light to make the cardigan. It's all very insane because this cardigan really has no pattern, so I basically have to figure out the shaping of the armhole and neck myself (ack!). But what is really crazy about this plan... steeking. This cardigan is steeked. Have I ever steeked? No way, Jose. So of course, I will try it out the first time with nice, expensive yarn and on a pattern I love. Why not?

I think this might be my quarter life crisis.

Oh, and I finished my book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, by Laini Taylor. It completely lived up to the previous two books in the series. It was lovely, romantic, action packed, suspenseful, and great. The ending got a little muddled to me, trying to tie up all the loose ends (there is a lot going on in this series), but I was happy with how things got wrapped up overall. I loved this series, and I will miss reading these books, until I picked them up again soon.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

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Monday, 27 October 2014

Knitting Confessions #9

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

On Mondays, I'll fess up to some of my own, personal knitting "no-no's". Feel free to join me by blogging some of your own weekly confessions or stories of breaking knitting conventions and join the linkup below.  

Confession #8: I have a track record of abandoning knitting projects.

I think we've probably all had the experience of finding a pattern or yarn, casting on a new project full of excitement and possibility, and then slowly (or maybe not so slowly) losing that "cast-on euphoria." That's when poor, hopeful knitting projects get cast aside for the next new and exciting project. I have one basket where my discarded WIPs usually end up. I dig through this basket often looking for a interchangable cable of a certain size or some needles sadly tossed aside with some project, but which I now need to start something new. Every once in awhile, I stop my feverish digging and actually look at the projects I've abandoned, things sitting unworked for months at a time. More and more lately, I find myself looking at what I started and thinking, "I kind of really hate this now."

Sometimes, it's the yarn I fall out of love with.

I started this cardigan with a bubblegum pink yarn striped with charcoal gray. I bought the yarn on sale from Knit Picks intending to use it for a sweater. And I even got the entire body finished, but then it languished in the basket of doom for a long time waiting for sleeves. Sleeves that never came. I finally came to terms that I probably would never wear a bubblegum pink stripped cardigan. Ever. 

So I frogged the whole thing and ended up overdyeing the yarn to create the pumpkin orange yarn that became my Peabody sweater, which I love and wear lots.

Other times, the pattern I chose just isn't doing it for me anymore.

I loved Darcy as soon as I saw it, so I bought the book, I bought a lovely romantic wine colored merino wool, and I got started. But the continuous moss stitch was just not so fun to work, and after finishing the back and half of one front, it got stuck in the basket of doom. I pulled it out last night thinking it would be the perfect project to work on as a break from all my Christmas knitting. But I just wasn't feeling the love anymore. It just felt chunky with the moss stitch and I didn't like how the peplum was draping in the yarn I selected. So guess what? It's getting frogged.

But I'm left with this deep red, wine colored yarn that I have no idea what to do with now. It's not really a color I would typically choose, but it worked with the romantic, old-fashioned notion of Darcy. I was thinking of embracing the "old-fashioned," traditional vibe of the yarn and go with afull on classic cable sweater. Or maybe embrace the romantic route with lace with modern twist. I just want to chose something that I will be inspired by and won't end up back in that dreaded basket again waiting for me to dig it out and save it. Someday.

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Sunshine and color

For what I'm convinced was weeks and weeks, but likely were only a few days, it had been so gray, overcast, rainy, windy, cold, and otherwise mildly horrible weather wise around here. And then yesterday, I woke up and it didn't look like it was still nighttime outside. Light. Beautiful sunlight, streaming through windows and everything. 

So I finished up work a little early and rushed home to take Rufus out to enjoy the light and the leaves and the warmth and the overall beautiful fall day we were having. It was perfect. It was one of those days I wish I could just store in a mason jar under the sink to be let loose on a frigid, dark winter evening when I'm not sure if the sun or warmth or color will ever be back again. 

Capturing it in photos will just have to do until day canning technology is available on the mass market. Though, Rufus thought I had lost my mind trying to take pictures of him and telling him to hold still because the light was just right. He just looks so regal bathed in light, but maybe that's just the crazy talking again. 

Hope you all are enjoying fall (it'll be gone before I know it).

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Second guessing

I worked on the planned holiday gifts I blogged about before all last week and made a decent amount of progress. But as I kept knitting away on one project, I had this growing seed of insecurity in the back of my mind. Although I was loving knitting the project (might as well admit to it being a shawl) and it was turning out splendidly, as it continued to grow, so did the thought, "Would this item actually be used?" Although I'm the receiver of the shawl would admire it and appreciate the work I had put into it, I just knew it wouldn't get a lot (or probably even a little bit) of use. The longer I thought about it, the more I just couldn't see my intended receiver wearing the finished item. It just wasn't the right gift for the right person. So I set it aside for now. I will go back to it after the gift knitting fever has passed and will probably finish it up for myself (I swear, this was not my plan this whole time).

So in the mean time, I had to start over again, with a week less to work. So I grabbed some yarn in a lovely coopery yarn with a hint of shimmer, choose a pattern I knew would get good use (one many of you probably can recognize, but shh! it's still a secret for now), and started knitting like a mad women. It's been a fun knit and it's turning out beautifully, so I know I made the right decision.

And when I'm tired of lace, I pick up a nice squishy garter stitch project which is also a gift. Look at that yarn - it's like an amazing graffiti of yarn and color. I had this yarn first and had to go on the search for a project that would do it justice. It's turning out so fun and playful - just what I was going for.

This week...

Knitting: Christmas gift fever continues, renewed. And I've managed to stay monogamous to these projects... for now.

Reading: I'm back to finishing A Dream of God and Monsters by Laini Taylor. I've stated how much I love this series (Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy) so much that I don't want it to end. But I can't wait to see what happens. It's one of those conundrums we all face with a good book.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Knitting Confessions #8

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

On Mondays, I'll fess up to some of my own, personal knitting "no-no's". Feel free to join me by blogging some of your own weekly confessions or stories of breaking knitting conventions and join the linkup below.  

Confession #8: I am a weakling for beautiful yarn.

This past weekend I had to go buy a single skein of yarn for one of my planned Christmas gifts. Something nice, but simple and relatively inexpensive. Because it's part of a gift, I had convinced myself it wouldn't be breaking my self-imposed yarn diet. And I had a plan: get in, get a single skein of yarn, don't look around, don't browse, keep your head down, and get out. 

But I was bad. I couldn't help myself from looking just a little bit. My naughty eyes spied a beauty, my traitorous heart immediately fell in love, and my fickle brain immediately began rationalize buying it.

It'll be my birthday soon, so I could say this is just an early gift to myself. Or a nice present from Andy, who loves me and would want me to have beautiful yarn. Everyone knows gifts don't count toward yarn diets. It was just so pretty. I couldn't help it. Sometimes you just deserve a lovely skein of yarn.

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Friday, 17 October 2014

October socks

Monthly sock challenge: 1 out of 12

This month I decided to join Liesl at Buckaloo View in a monthly sock challenge - 12 socks in 12 months. Making socks was one of the main drivers in pushing me to learn how to knit in the first place, so I thought a nice way to mark my first full year of knitting would be to challenge myself to make one pair of socks for every month for the next year. (Secret second agenda disclosed, I can using it as an excuse, citing that I'm doing this to better myself and push myself as a knitter, so I must go buy some more sock yarn, right?)

My October entry to the sock challenge aren't too very exciting, but I'm really feeling the vibe of selfstriping, plain, vanilla socks right now. It's always nice to keep things easy on one project when you have other, more complicated, time constrained projects going on at the same time. The yarn is some Loops and Thread sock yarn I got on sale at Michael's awhile ago. While digging through my sock yarn stash (which will shrink more than grow, I promise), the nice fall colors caught my eye. I'm not a giant fan of selfstriping socks that try to look like fair isle patterns, though, and this yarn isn't really changing my stance on that right now, but it is a nice soft yarn with some cashmere in it which I got for a bargain, so I'll try not to complain.

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Thursday, 16 October 2014

A year of knitting

This week marks the end of my first year of knitting. Last October, I walked into a corner store, found the biggest knitting needles I could find for $1, went home, looked up some Youtube videos, and started knitting. And a crazy love affair was born.

I had been crocheting for ages before then. If you spend any amount of time around strict crocheters, you begin to discover a seedy underside of crochet. One that seems to hold a strange grudge against knitters because it can be perceived by crocheters that knitters think the craft of knitting is better than crochet. I have to say, I experienced it a bit myself at a LYS. I asked for some help deciding on a crochet needle size to try making socks and I got an uninformed shrug off that sent a "why would you bother crocheting when you could knit" vibe. So I stubbornly had decided I would not knit and give into the snootiness. Crochet for life. 

But I was also reaching a place in my crochet where I wanted to make sweaters and socks. Crochet has its benefits - fast, easily formed into different shapes - but it is not always great for creating comfortable, well fitting garments because it is bulky, sometimes holy, and uses a lot of yarn. If I wanted to achieve these goals and reach a new level in my craft, I resigned myself that I would need to learn how to knit. So I did. So I gave up my grudge and started knitting my very first swatch (after a lot of fiddling about and discovering continental style knitting, which suits my crochet-habits much more than English style. I had a bit of a fight with English style knitting that may have ended my whole knitting career right then and there.)

But, man, do I love it! I have become so swept up and inspired by knitting. This year has been a little frustrating and stressful at work, so I have really thrown myself into my newfound passion. Here's a look back at this crazy, knitting-filled year.

First knitting project: My very first project was a simple hat, knit flat and then sewn into a circle. Definitely nothing special, but it taught me ribbing, how to join in new colors, how to decrease, and how to count rows (which I apparently didn't do a good job of because one of the stripes is the wrong thickness, whoops!).

Last completed project: The last full project I've completed is my Peabody sweater (which hasn't been nicely photographed yet, so forgive me). I think this is an excellent project to end my first year on because it highlights just how far I've come in this year as it includes lace (lace knitting was a big, hair-pull-inducing hurdle for me to jump over at the beginning and I have the discarded lace projects lying around to prove it), seaming, shaping, ribbing, knitting in the round - lots of techniques I've had to learn and master to make polished, finished garments.

Favorite  project: Tie between my Totoro sweater and my Pluie cardigan. These are two pieces of color work that I'm really proud of. My Totoro sweater makes the list because this is basically the third project I ever knit and it involved stranded knitting and modifying a pattern. It was a bit ambitious, but I was just super motivated to complete the project. And it is still one of my favorite garments even if I catch myself noticing mistakes and wishing I'd attempted this with a bit more experience under my belt. Pluie makes the list because I just really am so proud of it. Intarsia is hard! Getting it to work so that it looks smooth and polished is hard! And Pluie represents me tackling this technique, along with seaming, for the very first time and succeeding. Plus, it just puts a smile on people's faces.

This next year of knitting I am looking forward to continue expanding my experiences - learning new techniques and expanding on those I have picked up already. I want to get more lace knitting under my belt because I find knitted lace just spectacular, but my early experience may have scarred me so I have mostly stayed away for heavily lace projects. I also want to transform my sock drawer to one full of hand knit socks through the monthly sock challenge. There's no end to my knitting inspiration for this upcoming year!

What are you inspired by in your knitting right now? Do you have any knitting goals you want to accomplish?

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