Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Year in Review

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.
-Abraham Lincoln

2007 was a great year. I did, after all, get married, and that pretty much trumps all the knitting. And my best friend got married. And my other best friend had a baby. And it turns out that all these great events make it a great year for knitting. So great, in fact, I've put off writing this post because it seemed so daunting. But a lazy Sunday on the penultimate day of the year provides just the opportunity to review, and to plan ahead.A review of 2007, with thoughts for 2008.

Sweaters -
Five for adults. Three were complete successes - Rogue and the Shaped Denim Aran are in regular rotation, and Rowena is perfect for my sister. The Ribby Cardi found a new home with Elinor, and the Rice Stitch Sweater is, eh, there. Sweaters will be the new focus for 2008, so expect much more coming.
Lace - There are two shawls in progress, but I'm just not feeling the lace lately. The Chuppah does count as one of my master works, however, and I'm sure I'll return more to it later. After all those sweaters . . .Socks - A total of 21 pairs for this year. This puts my lifetime total somewhere around 122, although I do confess to be losing track. For all that there will also be socks in progress, I'm working on the bigger and special projects this year. I do love the sock swaps, though, and that husband of mine keeps clamoring for more.Winter Fun - The best knit gift of Christmas this year has to be the Hallard Mittens. My sister-in-law (of cold, cold Calgary) loves them and they fit perfectly. As for the rest, I credit the Stained Glass Hat with getting me back into colorwork with a vengence.
Babies - This is a great year for babies, and I think I went a little crazy with it all. No complaints, though - these are fun!Miscellaneous
And, the snuck-in-at-the-end favorite knit for 2007? Our matching Christmas stockings. Sweaters come and go, socks need darning, but these are heirlooms.Coming soon, 2008 has already started with a special yarn of the month and a brand new project.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Breaking Them In

You got them, and they were stiff as a board, and you broke them in.
-Levi Strauss

The buttons are fabulous. The sweater is perfect. I've worn it nearly every day since finishing it, and it's perfect for bopping around town. My town, or the central coast of California, as luck may have it. For all of my plans to knit ski sweaters, mittens, and all the fun things I love to knit, this is a great sweater for the California climate. I like it buttoned up, but it also works unbuttoned, or partly buttoned.

Shaped Denim Aran
Pattern: from Debbie Bliss' The Celtic Collection
Yarn: Den-M-Knit in Dark Indigo, 15 skeins (pattern called for 17 skeins of Rowan Denim)
Needles: US6 for the body, US 4 for the borders
Notes: No real pattern modifications. I was surprised and (pleasantly) amazed that the denim shrinking thing worked so well.
Best Thing About This Project: It was a product knit more than a process thing, and I love the product.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

And the Stockings Were Hung

'Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house . . .
And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
-Clement St. Moore

What can I say? I love these, our new stockings for our first Christmas together. Our First Christmas Stockings
Pattern: Holly Stocking (Theresa) and Moose Stocking (James) from Annie's Woolens (Exceptional service, fast shipping, and a gorgeous product. Go buy some now.)
they came as kits of Barlett's, and I think I have enough leftover to make a whole third stocking - very generous amounts
Needles: US 8 dpns. How is it that I don't have a 16" circular in US8?
Notes: The only real modification I made was to make the hanging loop out of 4 stitch i-cord instead of a crochet chain. I'm expecting them to be full! I also used the short-row heel and toe variation provided, and the yo-short rows worked great.
Best Thing About This Project: The personalization, of course. These are our stockings for many Christmases to come.

Need some new stockings? It's Christmas Eve - you still have time!

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

I'll Be Home For Christmas

I'll be home for Christmas.
-Walter Kent, sung by Bing Crosby

I'm feeling very festive this weekend. A number of events conspired.

1. My husband came home for Christmas.
2. I just learned that Monday is a federal holiday, and I got off. That means a 4 day weekend from one of my hardest residency months (ER consultant).
3. We're taking advantage of the time and taking a mini road-trip up to Solvang. Tell me that doesn't look fun! (There's even a yarn shop.)
4. Rebecca's Ornament Tag
My mother-in-law sent us a bunch of these quilted squares. I really need to get better on the sewing machine . . .
Mini-mittens I made a while ago. Can you guess the yarn? My first attempt at the circle ornaments from Handknit Holidays. I misread the directions, but I like how this one turned out anyway. And an old favorite, an ornament my mom made before I can remember not having it.

So, play along with the tag:
Do you have a favorite Christmas ornament relevant to our knitting hobby? Would you like to play ornament tag? If you do, here is how you play:
  1. Take a picture of your ornament and put it on your blog telling us about it.
  2. Post a link to the person on whom’s blog you found out about Ornament Tag.
  3. Post the rules.

And, before we know it, there will be knitting ornaments to treat all of our knitting eyes all over knitting blogland!

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Win From Behind

May God grant you always,
A sunbeam to warm you, A moonbeam to charm you,
A sheltering angel so nothing can harm you.
Laughter to cheer you, Faithful friends near you,
And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.
-Irish Blessing

The votes are in, and the tally is a suprising . . .
  • Sunburst: 10
  • Celtic: 9 (includes my husband's vote over the phone)
  • Wood Toggles: 1 (write-in - leather buttons were my other thought, btw)
This was a real come from behind win for the Sunburst, as most of you had the same initial thought I did - cables, celtic, perfect. The pattern is from a Celtic Knits book, after all. But there was just something about the Sunbursts that called to me from deep in the button tin, something that suited this project better. I appreciate all your input, especially the thoughtful comments. Between Rebecca, Pam, and Loribird, you summed up what had been going through my mind all along.
  • Rebecca: I am going to have to vote for the sunburst because the Denim sweater just seems to be a little bit more contemporary.
  • Pam: The celtic ones SHOULD go, but really, I like the sunbursts better. Which, by the way, illustrates why I have a drawer full of buttons I bought the first time -- I have an IDEA of what should work with a sweater I'm making, which ends up being different than the actual right button.
  • Loribird: I vote sunburst - just because the cables and the celtic knotwork right next to each other compete rather than complement.
Because, regardless of your votes, my gut instinct is what I really went with here. These are definitely the right buttons.You will get to see the sweater in all its glory (it's fabulous, the fit is perfect, and it's definitely my new favorite sweater) later this weekend. I think it's accompanying me and my soon-to-return husband on a weekend jaunt around Southern California.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Button Dilemma

Living creatures are nourished by food,
and food is nourished by rain;
Rain itself is the water of life,
which comes from selfless worship and service.
-Bhagavad Gita

The Denim Aran is almost done (and my Clean Slate plans are being thwarted by some new projects, but more on that to come). And with the finishing in sight, an important decision comes onto the horizon. The buttons. At first I was thinking of using my Royal Marine buttons from Three Feathers Pewter (I bought them at Colonial Williamsburg a couple of years ago), but I need seven and only had six. Rooting through my button stash, I have enough of two kinds of silver buttons.
What do you think? The sunburst or the celtic ones?

For some perspective, here's a very poor shot of the almost-finished sweater. Don't talk to me about how long it took to seam down that color. Sheesh!Bad photo, because it's actually raining in San Diego. Yay!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Time Machine Tuesdays

College isn't the place to go for ideas.
-Helen Keller

Welcome to my first installment of Time Machine Tuesday!

Now that it's "winter" in San Diego, I've actually had a chance to wear several of my favorite winter accessories. One does occasionally need a hat, scarf, and even mittens. It was 42 degrees this morning when I went to work. And even if one does not actually need a different hat, scarf, and mittens for every day of the week, well, a girl can enjoy her handknits, right?

This hat, scarf, and mittens set remains one of my favorite things I've ever knit. Not because it's perfect, but because it was a real stretch of my knitting abilities at the time I knit it, and even with the mistakes I can see, I did a darn good job at the time. I remember sitting in the Starbucks in Wayland Square knitting this - I was writing my senior thesis, and I would reward myself with a chapter read or a page written by knitting a few rows. I wore it everywhere that winter, and for several winters after, including our wonderful "Spring Break" trip to Prince Edward Island. Wearing this set takes me back to college, which really was wonderful. In fact, college gets even better as the time goes and the stress I had then over papers and reading seems so trivial to the stress I have now as a doctor. But I digress.

Celtic Lace Set
Pattern: Amazing Twining Lace from Knitters' Best of Shawls and Scarves
Yarn: Donegal Tweed, more than called for in the pattern, if I recall
Needles: US7, maybe? dpns for the hat and mittens and straights for the scarf. I think these were the first pair of Brittany Birch needles I ever bought
Notes: There's an interesting edging on the scarf to get to lie flat, and in retrospect it may be applied i-cord. My version? Not so much, but it does look interesting.
Best Thing About This Project: The memories. But you guessed that already.

Any one else joining in?


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Thinking Ahead

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors,
and let each new year find you a better man.
-Benjamin Franklin

I've always been a bit of a list-maker. I like to be organized. It's adaptive in my professional life, and helps me get the most out of my (little) off time. So lately I've been planning for some of the knitting coming up in 2008. Aided and abetted by Ravelry, I have lists. Lists of stash. Lists of future projects. Lists of needles. Plans for the upcoming year. Knitting resolutions must be the best kind, right? So there are several in the works.

2008: A Year of Yarn
Looking at my lists I've realized something. I have a number of yarns that I (almost) love too much to knit. Many of them I've had for a while. Many of them were gifts. They are all unique and special in some way.

2008 is the year I'm going to knit them. I picked out the 12 shown here, and each month a yarn will get it's turn. (Yes, there's a list of this. Why do you ask?) Some have projects in mind; others are awaiting something perfect. But it's time to knit these yarns.

I imagine this is a common situation among knitters. Any of you notice the same thing? Feel free to join me in my 2008: A Year of Yarn.

Twelve Projects
In addition to the 12 yarns, I've also picked out 12 projects that I've wanted to make for some time. I need, for example, a cabled pullover. Why do I never get around to it? (The Bed and Breakfast Pullover won the nomination, btw.) And there's that Dale sweater my husband wants.

So this is a year when I'm planning to be a little more intentional about my knitting than before. More sweaters. Fewer, uh, whatevers. And why 12? One for each month, of course. A reasonable pace, given that I usually hit 4-5 FOs a month. This way two of my new projects will be spoken for and the rest can be more whimsically chosen. Discipline is freeing.

Time Machine Tuesdays
In addition to the new projects coming up, I want to revisit some old ones. I've been so enjoying the "Flash Our FOs" over at The Purly Gate this month. And while enjoying, it occurred to me just how much of my knitting was pre-blog. And it also occurred to me that it is incredibly useful to other knitters to check back with a project and see how it did. Did it stand the test of time? Did the yarn hold up? Did the button band ever lie flat after all? So on this here blog, starting, um, this Tuesday (no time like the present), I hereby declare a Time Machine Tuesday.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

A Crazy Ravelry Queue

Don't agonize, organize.
-Florynce Kennedy

I've been organizing and making lists. Stash. Projects. A completely out-of-control Ravelry queue. Seriously. Seven pages? 185 projects? Is there a prize for being the most delusional knitter out there?

In lieu of casting on more projects (the Denim Aran is rapidly nearing completion, and I have 1 1/2 Christmas stockings you've never seen that WILL be done for Christmas), I've been making big plans for the new year. Big, exciting details coming soon. In the meantime, there are 185 dreams to browse on Ravelry.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

That February Sweater

A wisely chosen illustration is almost essential to fasten the truth upon the ordinary mind.
-Howard Crosby

Thanks to the extensive Cotton Ease stash of knitzalot, I was able to finish my February sweater. Er, December sweater. Er, that Elizabeth Zimmerman sweater.

And thanks to my insight at a Joanne's store closing sale a couple of years ago, I had the absolutely perfect buttons in my stash. The color is true in this second photo, and the buttons are a perfect match.Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitters' Almanac, February
Yarn: Cotton-Ease in Sugarplum. Note - I needed about 1/10th of a second ball in spite of some Ravelers making by with one.
Needles: US . . . 8s?
Notes: No mods. I actually get annoyed knitting all in one piece. I'd rather knit smaller pieces and just take a little time to sew them up. But it was still quick and easy.
Best Thing About This Project: Definitely the buttons. Until the baby is here, that is. Edited to add: Not my baby. Sheesh. You guys. Plenty of other babies coming.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Loving the Frog Pond

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that
but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.

-William Butler Yeats

There are good things about a nice weekend jaunt to the frog pond. To keep up with the UFO Resurrection (I've now completed all 12 months!) and work on that Clean Slate in 2008, a couple of projects got re-evaluated. My Lizard Ridge afghan turned into a pillow, and a pile of Cotton Kureyon. After I saw this amazing Lizard Ridge, I realized that I wanted to make one more like that and less like these bright colors. Prosperous Plum is also no more. And this is more than just a little trip to the frog pond in this case. You may have realized that lately I've been knitting mittens, fair isle hats, and planning Norwegian ski sweaters. Yup, I've pretty much given up on knitting summer things for San Diego. I don't enjoy knitting them, I never wear them. I'm just going to knit what I want to knit and wait to move to a colder climate. Or send them to my sister-in-law in Calgary. (Hi!) She may get more knits than she bargained for. But you can never have too many mittens, can you?

Speaking of knitting what I want to knit, look what I finally got:
The yarn for the Dale of Norway Salt Lake City Sweater. And patterns for many more. After I make Salt Lake City for my husband, I'm going to make Park City for me. Nothing like a little ambition, right?

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Thursday, December 06, 2007


You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.
-Indira Gandhi

In spite of frogging the Baltic Mittens the other day, I do have a finished pair to show. Just in time for that San Diego chill. Or something. They do match my hat, though.
Glorious Stripey Mittens
Pattern: Basic Mittens from the Green Mountain Spinnery book
Yarn: Mountain Mohair, Green Mountain Spinnery, remnants from their remnant bin
Needles: US4 dpns
Notes: I adore the stripey-ness.
Best Thing About This Project: Wool keeps. Someday I'll get to wear them. Because they are all mine.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Decision Point

He had mittens, Minjekawan,
Magic mittens made of deer skin;
When upon his hands he wore them,
He could smite the rocks asunder,
He could grind them into powder.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I started the Baltic Mittens (from Folk Mittens) a while back. It was an impulse project, so I started with yarn I had on hand. It's a beautiful pattern, and fun, but I just wasn't feeling so inspired to work on it. And then I figured out - It's the colors. Too . . . something. So this is getting frogged until I get some blue Heilo. It just really needs a blue. But my husband is still demanding mittens. Any nice manly mitten patterns come to mind?

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Two of the Same

We all live under the same sky,
but we don't all have the same horizon.

After a whole month of blogging, I feel as if I have so much to catch up on after taking only two days off. I also had quite the productive knitting weekend. There was some knitting group, some nice long phone calls, and Harry Potter on TV. Delightful.

Mostly. I did do a bit more knitting than I exactly have to show here. Why is that you may ask? The photo on the right isn't entirely clear, so let me orient you. On the top is half of the right side of the cardigan, with buttonholes, just before the armhole and neck shaping. Underneath is the "finished" er, right, front of the cardigan.

Oops. Two of the same. Momentarily distressed, I pushed forward. With the buttonholes there was no way to make the new right the left, so I frogged the first half back to the armhole shaping and knit them both up together. Lots of denim knitting. My hands might be permanently dyed indigo.

There's another lesson in here - at least for me. In another knitting time and another knitting place, I might have temporarily abandoned this project. Right now, I can't really. I have very few projects on the needles right now, and my Clean Slate by 2008 goals keep me from starting too many more. So I kept at it. The lesson? That I get my projects done way faster if I have fewer of them. Not one, mind you, just fewer.

This is all taking shape into some Grand Plans for 2008. Details to follow. In the meantime, try to make one of each pattern piece. Sheesh.

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