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.