Sunday, April 18, 2010

Still Alive

Sorry about that. I didn't mean to be all, "OmigodIhaveanewjobwoohoo!" and then take off for weeks at a time. I do appreciate ALL the comments you guys left for me on my last post. I replied to everyone who I could find email addresses for, so THANK YOU to those of you I wasn't able to reach. It's been...busy around here, as you can imagine. I started my job a week and a half ago and it's been a bit crazy since then.

Work has been fine. Not really stressful, because like I said I'm pretty much doing the same things I was doing back in Minnesota, but with different people and different proprietary software programs to learn. I always hate the first few weeks at a new job, when you're spending so much time trying to remember peoples' names and what they do and who to call when you need help figuring out how to order office supplies, or where to drop off time cards. Working only 20 hours a week is not a benefit in this case. My to-do list grows daily--every time I cross something off, I add two or three more things. I still don't have access yet to most of the websites and programs I need, so that limits how much I can do. Why did I have to start at the busiest time of year for academic offices? In addition to the normal day-to-day stuff to deal with, I also have to help plan all the commencement activities this department is putting on, and let's just say that they do A LOT OF STUFF at the end of the year.

Note to anyone out there thinking about working in academia: start in the summer. The campus is a ghost town and you get nearly a year to get up to speed before having to plan for the graduation hoopla. Don't start mid-April when the office is fielding calls from students frantic about whether or not the bookstore is handing out the wrong color tassels for their major, and the faculty is trying to decide on how many cookies vs. bottles of water to order for their commencement reception.

The good news is that everyone I work with has been great so far and I'm confident that as I learn my way around the bureaucracy, my to-do list will shrink. I'm not as confident that this Mac girl can learn her way around Windows Vista as quickly. Seriously! They moved everything around! I feel like I'm learning how to use everything all over again. :-/

As for knitting? knitting time has dropped off dramatically. Even though I am only working 20 hours a week the amount of time I spend preparing my clothes, packing lunch, showering and blow-drying, commuting, and all the millions of other little things you do to prepare for work is the same as for a full-time job. It would almost be easier just to stay at work for the full 8 hours than to leave after 5. But I do get Fridays off, so I can't really complain about that. :)

Sorry for the long, photo-free post. I'll try to have something more interesting for next time, but I just wanted to pop in and give an update.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Omigod! Omigod! Omigod!

OK, first of all, you guys are FABULOUS! Thank you to everyone who left a comment telling me NOT to feel guilty at all about having a bright, shiny new machine and just to ENJOY IT for Pete's sake! And you know what? I think I will. ;-)

The stars must really be aligned for me though because exactly one week after I nervously bought my new sewing machine, I GOT A JOB OFFER! Dudes, I have been applying for every job that crossed my path for nearly two years and this was the first one for which I even got called in for an interview. (Actually, there was an "assessment" with all sorts of office-type tasks, then came the interview.) And finally: the offer!

It's certainly far from ideal: it's not in my field AT ALL. In fact, it's an office manager job at a university...essentially the same job I left in order to go to graduate school! Although with this position, I do get more responsibility. It is only part time (until the state's higher education budget gets more money, but that could take years) and right now this position is subject to the state's furlough "program" so that takes a 10% cut right off the top. is a job. I liked the people I met when I was there for the interviews. I will be able to resume payments on my student loans. My husband and I will be able to stay in the apartment we love instead of moving to a cheaper, smaller, more distant location. And in all honesty, the part-time hours kind of suit me right now. I can ease back into working outside the home after several years of school and forced idleness, and I will still have enough time to devote to keeping the shop humming along as it should.

I can't even begin to express the amount of relief this job has given me. I tried not to talk about my unemployment woes too much on this blog, but those of you who have been there: you know. It's a constant pressure, a constant strain. This is a step in the right direction and hopefully things will only get better from here on out. And who knows? Maybe there will even be a few knitters at the new job. ;-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Feel So Spoiled

This past week has been an embarrassment of riches for me, so much so that I almost don't even want to post about it because I don't want to come across as though I'm showing off or anything, but it's just so fabulous that I really want to share!

It all started a few weeks ago when I was told by the sewing shop that the "great machine" I bought last summer at a garage sale for $30 was actually broken and unfixable. (It still works just fine in all respects but for the stitch length--it bounces back to the largest setting no matter what you do.) I really want to learn how to sew, so that was very disappointing but nothing I could do much about at the time.

But then a few things happened. First, the repair guy offered me a refund on the $50 repair fee as store credit. Then I had a birthday and my mother agreed to chip in some money for a new machine. Then I got paid for a few freelance knitting jobs. Then my husband and I finally did our taxes and instead of all the money going towards his new glasses, like we had planned, we had some left over. It all added up at exactly the right time and I was able to get a brand new sewing machine last week!

I rushed out to the store on Tuesday and they had one last one in stock. It's a Janome DC2010--still on the low end as far as sewing machines go, but the woman helping me said she would not hesitate to recommend this machine to her granddaughter if she wanted to sew, and that it would last me for years. It looks complicated and fancy only because they printed the stitch guide on the front of the machine, but that's about it as far as bells and whistles. Still, I'm thrilled. It will do everything I need and I am so excited to start playing with it!

To add to the excitement, I really wanted to find a place to put a machine. Like many households, I really don't have a spare flat surface--even our kitchen table is small and the outlets beneath it are being used by our wireless router anyway. husband and I headed out to IKEA yesterday to find a table. We came across one that was only $20--score! I wanted a slightly wider one though, so I think the end total was still only $36. It fits perfectly next to the window, and now I have a place to leave my machine instead of dragging it out of the closet every time I want to use it.

Lest you think I'm too spoiled, here is a more accurate photo of the sewing corner:
The table just barely fits between the wall heater and the window, which has a heavy curtain over it because it is in the southwest corner of the building and the afternoon sun heats up the place like nobody's business. The area to the left of the table is the small coffee table that holds all my knitting supplies, and immediately behind it is the fireplace. And yes, the fireplace is now filled with all our DVDs, which used to be shelved nicely in the corner where the sewing machine now sits. I've been wanting to get rid of that dorm-room-looking stand for a while now. We don't watch the DVDs we own much anymore anyway. I would much prefer to burn them all to a hard drive and get rid of the physical copies. Someday. But for now, I think my first project will have to be a nice curtain to hang over the fireplace and hide them from view. :)

This is the most extravagant purchase I have made for myself in a loooooong time, and I admit that I'm feeling a little uncomfortable about it. I mean, isn't this just inviting disaster? Is my car going to explode next, or our rent increase dramatically? And now that I have a sewing machine, it means I have to buy more stuff in order to use it (namely, fabric)...that may not happen for a while. LOL But I have the biggest hurdle cleared, right? Oh, and the mailman just dropped the latest issue of Burda magazine through the door. Perfect timing! ;-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wanna Win Some Fibery Goodness?

Hey all,

I know I need to do a regular blog update, and it's coming, but I wanted to let you all in on a chance to score some fiber fun!

Kristen and I have been reading and commenting on each others' blogs, a couple of years now I think. She's super great and does some nice work so it's worth checking out. But now she's giving you even more reason to look--she's participating in a walk for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and is raising money for the cause. Please read her post to see why this is so important to her.

While you're there, you can also get the details about her prizes! She has some pretty nice stuff already, but I hear that even more prizes are being donated so it's worth keeping an eye on what's going on over there. I am sending her a little something from my shop, too, but you'll have to keep up with her blog to find out what it is.

Good luck, everyone!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Question for Sock Knitters

All right all you sock-knitting pros: I have a question for you.

I have not made a lot of pairs of socks, so this may be a stupid question, but bear with me: I have a fit problem with all of my socks that I cannot seem to conquer. My socks are always extremely difficult to get on over the heel, and they are always quite tight across the ankle once I get the socks on. What gives?

I am knitting to gauge. I do not have giant ankles. I am tall (5'10") and I do have long feet (size 10), so I'm wondering if I just have a wider heel/ankle space than other people? I recently discovered that tall people generally need longer arm holes than others (Such a DUH moment when I read that in a sewing book! So that's why t-shirts are always tight there, despite my skinny arms!) so it's not outside the realm of possibility.

But if that's the case, then how do I go about compensating for it? My ankles and feet are skinny and long, so adding stitches will just make for a baggy sock. I have tried using more or fewer stitches in the heel flaps, and I have tried making longer heel flaps. I'm not sure what else to try and I was hoping someone might have a suggestion for me.

Is there anyone out there who can offer up some much-appreciated advice? :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Are You A Knitter?

Earlier today, for reasons that are neither relevant or interesting, I found myself waiting around in an office on a local college campus. There was one other woman already waiting when I arrived, and we smiled at each other as I sat down in a chair nearby.

She looked at me quizzically and said, "You look familiar. Do you work here on campus?"

"No," I said, "I don't. But I can't guarantee that we haven't met somewhere. I always have trouble recognizing people out of context."

"Oh, me too!" she replied, "But you look so familiar to me!"

"Huh. Maybe I just have one of those faces," I said, and that was the end of the conversation because we had to move to a different office.

I know I don't know her because I know everyone I know in this city (meaning that it's not as though I have met so many people that I have started to forget some of them), and she's not one of the people I know. But she also looked familiar. And friendly. When we got up to head down the hallway to the other room, she was delighted to find that we are the same height (a rarity in a world dominated by women who are less than 5'10" tall) and we continued chatting as we walked until the office worker with us asked if we knew each other already. Nope. Not at all.

Of course, as soon as she said I looked familiar (and when I knew that she didn't know me from "real life") I desperately wanted to ask her if she was a knitter. Maybe she's on Ravelry and has seen me around. Maybe she even listens to the podcast or reads this blog! (No, I harbor no illusions that I am that well-known, but it could just be one of those flukey things, ya know?) But I didn't ask her for one reason: if she wasn't a knitter, then just think about how random and unrelated such a question would be. It would be akin to breaking into a conversation about financial planning to ask someone if they have ever hunted rhinos.

Or...thinking about it now, maybe it wouldn't have been that weird. *sigh* I'll never know. And now my curiosity is killing me!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Hey folks,

I've never done a destash before, partially because my stash isn't all that big to begin with, and partially because I like all the yarn I have. But the reality is that I do have some stuff that I've been hanging on to for a while with plans for it that never come to fruition. And since I would rather see the yarn go to someone who really will use it (and because The Brain needs new glasses), here goes!

All prices include first class shipping within the U.S. You can contact me at if you're interested in anything. All payments by PayPal only, please.

Year of Lace - September 2009 Kit - $55
Includes Centrino pattern by Laura Nelkin and two skeins of Shaefer Anne in a limited edition color (a blend of reds)
60% superwash merino / 25% mohair / 15% nylon
560 yds/512 m per 113g skein
Fingering weight

10 balls Plymouth Royal Silk Merino - $40
Full bag!
Lavender - Color 0003, Dyelot 18
51% silk / 49% merino
109 yds per skein (1090 yds total)
Worsted weight

J. Knits Super-Sporty! - 1 skein - $10
Maine colorway: a dark, semi-solid green
100% superwash merino
183 yds
Sport weight

J. Knits Superwash Me! - Light Sock - $20
New Jersey colorway: a variegated blend of purples, from light to dark
100% superwash merino
530 yds
Fingering weight

J. Knits Lace-A-Licious! - $25
Mississippi colorway - light purple
100% superfine alpaca
1200 yds
Lace/Cobweb weight

J. Knits Lace-A-Licious! - $25
Vermont colorway - lime green
100% superfine alpaca
1200 yds
Lace/Cobweb weight

1 skein Rowan Kidsilk Haze - $8
Nightly colorway - midnight blue - Shade 585, Dyelot 635
I have a partial skein (about 1/3) that I will include as well
70% super kid mohair / 30% silk
229 yds / 210m
Lace weight

2 skeins Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light - $8.00 for both
Dark Chocolate colorway - Color 4205, Dyelot 702
50% superfine alpaca / 50% Peruvian wool
144 yds/133 m per skein
Sport weight

Reynolds Soft Linen - $3.50
Chocolate colorway - Color 0413, Dyelot 1410
53% flax / 47% acrylic
94 yds
Worsted weight

Brown Sheep Nature Spun - $4.00
Storm colorway: a dark brown - Color 114, Dyelot 028
100% wool
245 yds
Worsted weight

Valley Yarns Berkshire - $3.00
Coffee Bean colorway - Color 39, Dyelot 94788
85% wool / 15% alpaca
141 yds
Aran weight

Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky - $3.00
Coffee Bean colorway - Color 39, Dyelot 94773
85% wool / 15% alpaca
108 yds
Super Bulky / Bulky weight

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ravelympics Win?

So...remember my last post? Specifically, the part where I said that I had decided to join the Ravelympics because I thought, "What the hell? I might be able to crank out a pair of socks over the next couple of weeks. You never know."

Well, I cranked out those socks. In two and a half days. And while I'm happy to report that I successfully finished my Ravelympics project, I feel like a cheat because it turned out that I had waaaay more time this weekend than I had anticipated and I grossly underestimated the size of project it would take for me to feel "challenged". Instead, I feel like the Little League team who recruits high school students in order to get the advantage. Can I really feel proud that I completed the Ravelympics? (But let's get real here: it's a made-up set of arbitrary restrictions revolving around an activity that none of us would be doing if we didn't enjoy it in the first place, so completing it or not completing it really wouldn't phase me one way or another. And therein lies the reason why I can't get into trends like NaKniSweMoDo or 10 in 2010 and so on. Either you do it or you don't, but no matter how hard I try, I simply can't get myself to feel the pressure OR to feel much of an accomplishment when it's completed. Meh.)

Wow. OK, to counteract my obvious crankiness (I am dying for a candy bar, and I really wish my office had a vending machine right now), here are some bright and sunny photos of finished socks!

Pattern: Skew, by Lana Holden
Yarn: ShibuiKnits Sock in the Spectrum colorway
Verdict: LOVE!!!!! Even though the pattern is mostly stockinette, the bias-knitting kept my simple brain transfixed, and the heel is super duper fun. Plus, they fit like a dream! Sure, they're an eyesore but they're MY eyesore and I am profoundly pleased with them. :)

(Yes, I did sit on the floor and stick my feet into a light box in order to take these photos. Isn't that how it's done?)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wanna See Something Funny?

I have been itching for a real lace challenge for a while now. I still like knitting shawls and stoles, even though I never wear them, but I've been in the mood for something different and more challenging. I've been thinking about making a Niebling or something from one of Marianne Kinzel's books of modern lace knitting, but have never had the proper materials. Nieblings, if you search on Ravelry, are generally done in either lace weight yarn or very fine crochet cotton and on tiny needles. Lace yarn I have, but I really have no idea how many yards any given project takes, and I really like the pure white used in most of the projects.

Even though I don't have time to start one of these projects at the moment, I want to be prepared for when the time/mood strikes me. You know what this means, right? Shopping trip! Thankfully for my budget, from what I have gathered from others crochet cotton from Michaels is perfectly fine for a project like this.

So I dashed out to Michaels today, on a search for crochet cotton. I'll be honest here--I had no clue what I was looking for. How is "crochet cotton" any different from embroidery thread, or lace weight cotton yarn? Umm...I still don't know. But they had a bunch of it in its own section, and that's the important part of this story, right?

While I was standing there trying to decide what I needed, I was keeping the words of the fabulous Cookie in my head. She had done a Niebling and when I asked her what materials she used, she mentioned getting five skeins of Baroque cotton. Hmm...OK...they had exactly five 400-yd skeins at the shop, all in the same dye lot. But guess what? They also had some different stuff that came in larger balls. And lower down, they had some thicker thread. Hey, I could make an even bigger project with that!

But oooh...what is that? Waaaay down on the bottom shelf, tucked back from the edge so it's hard to see?

Why YES! It's a barrel-sized cone of size 10 crochet cotton! As the wrapper proudly proclaims, it has over 1.5 miles all tidily shrink-wrapped in plastic! That's a 2730-yard ball of mercerized cotton that is almost as big as my head! SCORE! (Regular-sized ball of sock yarn used for scale.)

In other news, I know I totally said I wasn't going to do the Ravelympics because I really don't see the point. But I got a Ravmail last night from the fabulous Liz of MacKintosh Yarns inviting me to participate in her "unofficial" group (groups had to be formed by January 15 to be official) know what? I'm gonna do it. Just for the fun of it. I have deadline knitting that has to be a priority, but I'm hoping that I can crank out a pair of socks at the same time. I am intrigued by the Skew pattern from the Knitty surprise, so I'm going to make a pair out of ShubuiKnits Sock in the Spectrum colorway. I think they'll make a nice pairing. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blogging? Who, Me?

Man, I have not been the fastidious blogger I hoped to be lately, have I? Does it count if I think in "blog-ese" instead? (You know, when you go about your daily business imagining how you're going to write everything up when you get around to blogging about it?) I think that for me, it's the same thing as imaginarily (sure, it's a word) knitting up my stash. It's no longer stash because I have already knitted it up in my head. Right? Right. (Speaking of stash, I think it's time for me to do a little destashing around these parts. Look for a post about that in a day or two.)

I really and honestly have nothing exciting to show for the past few weeks. Work is keeping me busy (yay!) and I have mostly been working on small projects here and there. I'm waiting on materials/patterns for three different sample sweaters that I was hired to do, so I don't want to start any large projects now. I know that if I do, the sweaters will arrive in the mail and I will have to work on those, therefore losing all steam with my personal project which will be a joyless affair when I finally get back to it. This is one problem with being a monogamous knitter, but it is a burden I shoulder willingly.

In order to keep something on the needles, however, I have kept busy with these:

Pattern: Pfeiffer Falls Hooded Scarf by Anne Kuo Lukito
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers
Mods: None. I loved this pattern!

Pattern: Men's Fingerless Mitts by Kathy North
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers
Mods: Lengthened the wrist ribbing to 6.5", lengthened finger portions slightly.

Pattern: Citron by Hilary Smith Callis
Yarn: Malabrigo Lace in Purple Mystery
Mods: None

Pattern: Sock Recipe by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett in Storm
Mods: None

Pattern: None - donation for Global Knit
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride leftovers

Because all of these projects are little ones and only take a couple of days to complete, I continuously find myself in that annoying in-between projects stage. I am constantly wondering what to knit next and it's driving me crazy! I really want to start a big lace project, but again with the sample sweaters. Plus the Evenstar Mystery Shawl KAL starts on Friday, so I will have that to keep me occupied as well. I just need to be patient for a few more days...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ta Da!

I did it! A pair of slippers in just two days!

I know. It's not that exciting. I'm just trying to raise my own enthusiasm because I don't have much else to offer the blog today. So: you get garter stitch slippers. I get to pat myself on the back for blogging, and we can all live happily ever after.

Pattern: Nola's Slippers
Yarn: O-Wool Classic, color Sumac, 2 skeins
Needle: Size 10

I have also been working on a project for my older sister. She has been trying to find the perfect hooded scarf in stores and can't find one that's just right. Enter the knitter. Over the holidays, we sat down in front of Ravelry and found a pattern (Pfeiffer Falls Hooded Scarf), picked up some yarn (Cascade 220 Heathers) and I started working on it last week. It's going very quickly and to be honest, I was hoping to finish it up this weekend. But...other things took up my time. That's OK though because I'm almost done with the scarf portion and I don't expect the hood to take very long (famous last words).

I am itching to start some new projects for myself. I just have to figure out what. It's been a while since I've done a sweater. Hmmm...

Friday, January 15, 2010

From Foot Failure to Foot Success!

OK, so I took all your kind comments about my charity socks to heart (thank you for them), and decided to finish knitting the pair and see how I felt when I was all finished. Easier said than done. I ran out of yarn halfway down the foot of the second sock. Total. Bummer. I set them aside to rip and re-knit into something more useful. I have several colors of Lamb's Pride lying around, so at the very worst I guess I could stripe them with some other jarring color of which I don't have enough for socks. Bright turquoise and pink, perhaps???

To make myself feel better about having wasted three and a half nights on a failed project, I decided to forge ahead and cast on for some long-awaited slippers for The Brain. Seriously, folks. I've been promising him slippers for about a year now. Oops!

I found a comfy-looking and well-reviewed pattern for men's slippers on Ravelry called Nola's Slipper Pattern (non-Rav link here). It looks like a basic, non-fussy garter stitch slipper with a turtleneck. I had originally been planning on making The Brain some felted clogs, but he decided that his feet would get too hot in something like that and requested something that could breathe. OK. Garter stitch = lots of holes for breathing feet. One thing troubled me about this pattern though: it is knit flat in one piece with a seam running down the center of the sole! Think about that: a seam running the length of your foot. Not too comfy, if you ask me. And yes, I admit that I only glanced through the pattern before casting on so it wasn't until I was nearly done with the darn thing that it occurred to me that the seam is actually grafted from live stitches, which renders the darn thing virtually undetectable in the finished item. Yay!

Oh, and the best part? I finished the first slipper in one evening and it fits!!! It comes off the needles looking a little tiny, but that garter stitch sure knows how to stretch itself out. Perfect slippers: thick, squishy, breathable, warm, fast, and bright red! :D

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Good Sock / Bad Sock

Holy cow!

I just want to give a huge thank you to everyone who commented on my last post with well-wishes and encouraging thoughts. I responded to everyone whose email address I could find, so if I wasn't able to get back to you, I apologize. Please know that I appreciate the support that you all so graciously passed on to me on my new endeavor.

In other finishing news, in the past week I have completed two sample knitting projects and a pair of socks for my brother. Unfortunately, the only project I can show you is the socks, and they're not very exciting.

Pattern: Twin Rib Socks from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy in Black Pearl
Size: OMG gargantuan and sooooo boring!

In keeping with my plan to knit a charity project in between personal projects, I cast on for a pair of child's socks with some leftover Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride I had lying around from ages ago. I followed the Try a Trio pattern by Ruth Garcia as suggested by the Global Knit organizers on Ravelry. I finished the first pink sock last night. Umm...I don't know what to think. I'm not used to knitting socks in worsted weight yarn on size 4 needles, and while the fabric is undoubtedly thick and sturdy, I'm also not sure there is a person alive who would have a foot slim enough to fit inside without cutting off their circulation. I don't think causing Bulgarian children to lose their feet is quite what Global Knit had in mind with this project. It would make a good banana keeper though.

*sigh* My first project for charity and it's a major fail. I don't have enough yarn of this color to make larger socks. Maybe I'll have to do stripes? Maybe, despite all my experience with skinny children of various ages, I really have no idea what will or will not work? I'm just assuming that if the sock is so small and tight that I can hardly get my hand inside without trouble, putting it on a child would be nothing short of torture. Do over!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What I've Been Up To Lately

Check it out:

A five-star week! I kept up with my workout program every (week)day this week, so that deserves a star on my calendar. Go me!

But you know what else makes this a five-star week? I finally get to reveal the giant project that I've been working on for the last nine months!!! This project has been a lot of work and has also been the source of a lot of fun (and a lot of stress!). It is the reason I haven't always had time to blog (not a good excuse, I know, but there you have it). It has also taught me a lot and, more importantly, given me a purpose and something to work towards which has been a huge help these days.

And now I finally get to reveal it!


(click on image for link to site)

After completing grad school and finding myself in the middle of a horrible job market, I took stock of what I know and what my strengths are and decided to open up an online shop. I polled friends and family members for names, and the winning selection was Flocks of Yarn. I got finances in order and started planning: I took great care to select a good web designer who could do both the artwork and build the website (and train me how to use it!), and even though it took quite a bit longer to complete than I had originally planned for, I think the end result was worth it.

The next step was the fun part: researching and choosing yarn lines and other products! I wanted to go with yarns that I like to work with, and companies that I knew to offer high-quality products. It is my intention to grow from here, but I am happy with the base lines of yarn that I offer.

I am very excited about this next step in my life, and I would love it if you check out the shop. Feel free to tell me what you think, if you're so inclined. Don't worry--I don't intend to turn this blog into one big advertisement. I might mention "the shop" once in a while here, but this is still my personal knitting blog and I want to keep it that way. I have a shop blog to talk about shop things, so feel free to subscribe to that one too, if you like. But at least you'll know what I mean when I talk about "work" or "my job" from now on. :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

More New Year Thoughts

Before I left town for the holidays, I went through a sort of "spring cleaning" in my apartment. I hate coming back to an untidy house after taking trips so The Brain and I cleaned every room from top to bottom, cleared out the fridge and cupboards of any food that might spoil (don't worry--we ate it), and made sure the floors were scrubbed and the bed made with fresh sheets. I also decided to go through the entire storage closet and clean out anything we had that wasn't necessary. It turns out that my many moves over the past decade have whittled down my belongings quite a bit, and the only things I found that I could get rid of were a couple of very fragrant vanilla candles (I don't like vanilla-scented things) and some falling-apart picture frames.

Since we knew that the electricians would be coming to repair the three outlets in our apartment that had randomly decided not to work any more (this was the final blow in a long series of unrelated catastrophes that all but pushed us out of town in fear for our lives during the first three weeks of December...don't ask), we also had to rearrange some things in the living room so they would have access to the outlets. I decided this was a good opportunity to move my ugly knitting shelves into the spare bedroom, therefore making our living room more open and nice-looking.

The bookcase ended up fitting perfectly in a strange angled corner of the spare room, between the door and the head of my treadmill. (The other half of the room is taken up by The Brain's bicycles. It's sort of our unofficial workout room.) It's not as convenient to have the bookcase all the way down the hall, but I have to admit that our living room does look nicer now and it's not as though our apartment is so big that I can't make it back there! The bookcase holds the entirety of my yarn stash, and all my leftovers go into the plastic set of drawers. As you can see, I really don't have an over-abundance of yarn to work through. It really is quite reassuring. :)

All this cleanliness and rearranging had me thinking more about clearing the knitting slate in the new year. I really don't have any long-forgotten UFOs like my brother does, but it is nice to take stock of everything I accomplished in the past year and consider what I want to accomplish in the coming year. While doing my yearly stash roundup, I discovered that while I had gotten my "older" stash yarn down to 7113 yards in 2009, I also added to the stash and am starting 2010 with 16842 yards of yarn. Considering the fact that I knitted up (or gave away/sold) 17602 yards in 2009, not counting any sample or test knitting I did, I feel reasonably confident that I can become stashless by the end of the year. I just have to keep to my goal of not making unnecessary or impulse yarn purchases!

I also did a final project count of all FOs for 2009, and I'm posting them here only for documentation.

4 - Pairs of socks
19 - Accessories (hats, gloves, legwarmers, baby blankets, etc.)
9 - Sweaters (not counting two that are 95% finished)
11 - Lace shawls

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year, New Habits

I'm not normally one for New Year's resolutions--I think any time of year is a good time to make good choices and adopt healthy changes. But there is something to be said for having a definite starting point, an easily-memorable date from which to track your progress. And let's face it, after being diligent about my workouts for the final four months of 2009 but seeing that I had made no progress towards fitting into my dressier clothes when I was trying them on before leaving town for the holidays (which didn't matter in the end since my family did not dress up this year), the new year seems like a great time to start working out smarter.

So, that's my resolution for this year: re-commit to working out regularly (which I already do), but work harder at finding a fitness plan that will actually give me results. I bought the book Daniel's Running Formula last year at the suggestion of my sister's boyfriend, who is an avid long-distance runner, but I never read it. I think that will be my first step towards developing a better and longer-lasting running routine and I will probably start the Couch to 5K program as well. I can run for a decent amount of time, but I am someone who likes to start from the beginning and develop good habits and techniques, so I think I'll start from the beginning with this, too. I also heard that there is a C25K podcast so I'll have to check that out. I am also quite intrigued by the 100 Pushups/Situp/Squats program and I'm thinking of adding that in as well. Anything that starts small and builds is more likely to stick, right?

As far as knitting goes, I was not successful in using up all my old stash. I started 2009 with the goal of knitting up any yarn from my stash that was already there on Jan. 1. But midway through the year I started taking on more and more sample/test knitting jobs and while they were great for helping to pay the bills, they completely derailed my stash knitting plans. I'm not complaining though! I started the year with 24,716 yards of yarn (I know! Where did it come from?!?) and I ended 2009 with only 7113 yards remaining. Of course, I also managed to add to my stash during 2009 so my new 2010 count will go up. I plan on continuing with this goal in 2010 as well--I would really like to be a no-stash knitter, and using up older yarn makes me feel better about spending money on new yarn.

I would also like to knit more items for charity. How often do we end up with single skeins or partial balls at the end of a project with nothing to use them for? I don't tend to knit for charity as often as I would like simply because like everyone else, I have limited amounts of time to knit and you have to make the conscious decision to forgo personal knitting in favor of knitting for someone you don't even know. But I have decided to try knitting up my leftovers as soon as I finish a larger project. That way I'm not adding random small bits of yarn to my stash, and I can do something worthwhile at the same time. Plus, small projects are always a nice palate-cleanser in between larger, more time-consuming projects.

How about you? Did you make any resolutions for your new year, knitting or otherwise?

End of 2009 Recap

Man, I cannot believe that it's been a month since my last post! A month?!? Seriously??? Probably the busiest month since I was in grad school though, so at least I have an excuse. I wasn't being lazy, I was being very productive...just not in the blogging arena. I'm really going to try to do better this year though, if only so that I can stop composing blog posts in my head all day and just get them onto the computer.

If you're anything like me, you will not have had time to read all the blog posts that have been stacking up over the past couple of weeks, leaving you with literally hundreds of unread posts to wade through. I do still like to read everything, but I have been skimming details on FOs and not commenting much...sorry!

Not much knitting has been happening lately. I did end up doing some last-minute gift knitting, however, since I drew my sister Sheila in the family KK swap and she always appreciates a good hand-knitted gift. I finally got a reason to try Twinkle Soft Chunky and made her a Marian cowl by Jane Richmond with it. It knitted up quickly on size 19 needles, but holy cow! Those things are like broomsticks and rather awkward to work with. Nevertheless, I persevered and managed to crank out a seed-stitch cowl in a couple of hours.

I also whipped up a pair of the ubiquitous Bella's Mittens in Berroco Peruvia Quick. Let me tell you: doing cables with chunky yarn on size 8 needles is not pleasant at all. But it was worth it in the end, because they produced an airtight mitten (that took days and days to dry after blocking). Sorry for the crappy pics--they were snapped in a hurry before the cousins came over for a family fun night.

The Brain and I were lucky enough to get to go back to St. Paul and spend two weeks at my parents' house hanging out with the family. We spent lots of quality time with my brothers and my youngest sister (9 years old), and played around with my little nephews (both 2 years old) who are also both super cute. I was pretty much away from my computer the entire time and it was great! (Not so great: trading San Diego weather for the single-digit degrees in St. Paul, and a house whose furnace kept going out for the first week of our visit...yikes!)

But it was all worth it, the travel to and from was uneventful, and now I'm back in San Diego where it is currently 75 and sunny. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year, and that 2010 will bring better things for everyone.