Saturday, December 17, 2011

Supercute toddler hat and the end of my christmas knitting (almost)

So my husband and I finished a third had for another cousin of mine. It's the Tri-corner Baby Hat by Patricia McGregor. The hat has 120 stitches around, and at the end, sets of 40 stitches are divided and folded and bound off with a three needle bind-off. Then, you make little tassels and attach them to the corners and they flop around like little pigtails.

I showed my mom my creation, and she said it reminded her of Abby Caddabby some sort of fairy character on Sesame Street.

The hat is knit from a pink, dark purple and brown self-striping yarn, sort of the same colors as Abby Caddabby's pigtails.

My family's Christmas gathering starts in about 13 hours and I still have one beer cozy to finish, a whole beer cozy to make, and all of my Christmas presents to wrap. I'm not too stressed about it because I'll just head home after work and finish it up before I go to bed. No biggie!

Edit: So I was reading back through some of my blog posts and I realized I only post about six or seven times a month. I feel like I post so much more often than that, but it looks like I only have time for a little more than a post a week. It's not like anyone reads this blog anyway, which is fine. I just like tracking my knitting progress on here for my own benefit, and won't make a concerted effort to post more often.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Things I'd rather be knitting

So I'm done with my dishcloths.

I'm working on a weird, striped hat for my youngest cousin. Scratch that, my husband is working on it for me while I finish these beer cozies for my aunt and uncle:

There will be six of them. I finished the fourth one today and cast on for the fifth one. It shouldn't be too hard to finish them by Sunday.

Unfortunately there are a ton of things I'd rather be knitting. Some of them are stretching it. If I weren't locked into knitting Christmas gifts at this point, I probably wouldn't knit them at all.

1.) I told my friend Kevin I'd knit a pretentious looking scarf for him. You know, the triangle ones that people wrap around their neck like a bandana and drape over their chest. I've been looking at some Steven West patterns because they're the types of scarves you see people wear to Starbucks and when they go to the mall. I have tons of sock yarn, and while probably none of it goes together, I'm sure I could find a cool color combination that Kevin would like.

2.) Another pair of socks for the Sockdown challenges on Ravelry, via the Sock Knitters Anonymous group. I actually completed the September Sockdown challenge this year, and I'm looking forward to knitting down my massive stash of sock yarn, primarily using these challenges. Plus, it gives me a chance to win more yarn. And yarn that is won or traded doesn't count under yarn diet rules.

3.) Another pair of socks for my husband. A lot of the sock yarn I've purchased would make lovely socks for him. I think I bought masculine colors on purpose.

4.) My mitten kit. I got a mitten kit from Knit Picks with some beautiful stranded mitten patterns. I got it thinking I'd knit mittens for everyone for Christmas. My husband talked some sense into me and encouraged me to work on the mittens for next year.

5.) Oddly, more dishcloths. Only not ones made out of complete balls of yarn. Instead, I want to make them out of the gross ball of yarn ends. For my mom.

6.) Fingerless gloves for all of my coworkers. It's cold in the office! I think all of my coworkers would be knitworthy. Unless some of them are allergic to wool. And I know one is vegan, so I'd have to use ethically produced plant fibers.

7.) Socks for my boss. Because he said he likes socks.

8.) My badass circular lace shawl with the beaded edging. I'm dying to finish it, and I'm soooo close! I'm about 1/3 of the way through the beaded edging. I stopped knitting it around the end of the summer when I started my Christmas knitting, and I'm dying to pick it up again.

9.) ANY unfinished project. That sweater I started for my mom. That afghan I started just for fun. The coat for my husband. Anything but beer cozies!

10.) Anything from my Ravelry queue. My queue is about 300 projects long. It's mostly socks, but there are a couple shawls and sweaters in there too. Most of it would not violate the yarn diet if I picked it up right now.

I'm desperate to knit anything but what I'm knitting now. Thank goodness my holiday knitting will be done by Sunday and I have some vacation time for the two weeks after that. I will knit to my heart's content, and maybe have that beaded lace shawl done by the end of the year. (fingers crossed)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pieces of a wallet and the 21st dishcloth

Today I went to Panera and finished Dishcloth No. 21. I literally had a couple feet of yarn left from that skein.

Shortly after I finished my 21st dishcloth, my mother told me the Christmas gathering for my extended family is on the 18th. I'm going to have to knit my butt off if I'm going to finish 7 dishcloths, 6 beer cozies, and a toddler hat for Christmas. I might axe the beer cozies and save that idea for next year. I DO have the yarn, so I wouldn't be violating the Yarn Diet Terms and Agreements.

These are the pieces of Mike's wallet so far. I have another small pocket (the one on the left) and a medium pocket to make. The yarn is super cool. It really looks (and feels) like suede fabric. I'm excited for it, but I'll probably have to put it down in order to finish knitting for the fam.

Tomorrow I work at some godawful early hour (for me) at the retail establishment. I think 9 a.m. is early now. My shift starts at 7 a.m., which means I'll probably have to wake up at 5:30 to be ready and drive there on time, getting a grand total of 3.5 hours of sleep. After work I WANT to go to the yarn store to get needles for the last hat I have to knit, but I know I'm going to be tired. We'll see how things work out tomorrow, I guess.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The 20th dishcloth

This is the latest dishcloth I've finished. It's dishcloth #20. I only have eight more dishcloths to go until I reach my goal of seven sets of four dishcloths. And the updated pile?

This is a pile of 18 dishcloths. I have another purplish one that I finished in addition to the puky green and pee-yellow one I just finished (I have a lot of love for knitting the same pattern over and over /sarcasm). I have a lot of variegated yarn that I'm rotating through so I don't get sick of the color.

And in the midst of the piles and piles of dishcloths:

I haven't knit very many hats in my life, but this one was a lot of fun. It's for my cousin. I knit it out of Malabrigo Chunky in Emerald Blue. The pattern is Thorpe by Kirsten Kapur. It fits my head quite comfortably, but it might be a little big on my cousin. She can just grow into it. I love how fast it was to knit and it was fun to make the little braided tassels on the earflaps. I even got to whip out my crochet hook and teach myself how to do a half double crochet or some nonsense on the edge. I think my friend Kevin might like one, but I've officially begun my yarn diet and can't buy any more yarn until January 2013.

I also finished the biggest part of the wallet I'm knitting for my husband out of the discontinued (in most places) and elusive Berroco Suede. I just have three pockets and some sewing to do and it's finished!

Friday, December 2, 2011

SSSSHHHH! It's a secret.

If you are my husband, don't read this.

A couple days ago, I started knitting a new wallet for my husband using some of the Berroco Suede I got from Yarn Basket in Chambersburg. I'm planning to give it to him as a Christmas present, since it might not be done by his birthday. I have three more skeins of Berroco Suede to use after that. My friend Kevin might get a wallet and Mike might get two more wallets. I love the pattern and the yarn is really unique. And I'm officially on my yarn diet.

Anyway, my husband is one of THOSE people. His birthday is a week before Christmas, so I have to get ALL of his birthday presents and ALL of his Christmas presents at once. I'm a cool wife, though, and don't make him wait until Christmas to get all of his presents. Instead, I'll get him random presents throughout the year. Maybe he likes that better. I'd hate to have my birthday so close to Christmas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dishcloths galore

Here are some statistics about my dishcloths. I've been tweeting about them lately because I'm addicted to Twitter right now:

- I have 15 dishcloths done. 11 are in the picture and four were wrapped up because I was experimenting with my packaging.
- I have 1/3 of a dishcloth on the needles now.
- I have enough yarn left to make about 47 more dishcloths, but I only need 13.
- If I knit one dishcloth every other day until Christmas, I can get them done on time.
- I've been averaging 1 1/2 dishcloths per day since last week.
- With 15 dishcloths, I'm 53% to my goal of 28 dishcloths.
- When I started working on them last week, I was only 32% to my goal.
- Each dishcloth is 77 rows long and takes 1,794 stitches to make.

I’ve been tying the odd ends of my skeins together and winding them into a giant ball. With each 2-ounce skein I usually have 3 to 7 yards of yarn left at the end of every skein. When I start making dishcloths from that, it’ll be pretty horrendous. The picture is all of my yarn ends from every dishcloth I've knitted for the past four years tied together into one ball. It's sitting next to a regular two-ounce ball of yarn. I'll probably make a set of dishcloths for my mom out of the yarn ends from my giant ball. She likes my weird, multi-colored dishcloths. I'm trying to organize my dishcloth making in ROYGBIV color order so the color changes in the giant yarn ball aren't so obvious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Art and Hats

I really liked this post and I posted it on my Facebook, too, saying it articulated exactly why I don't sell my knitted things.

The summary is, a crocheter received some nasty feedback from a craft fair goer about one of her hats. She hand-crochets hats and was charging $150 for that particular hat. The customer didn't think the hat was worth that much, but the creator broke down the costs and explained how much she was getting hourly making that hat.

I like toward the end of the comments on that blog post that people start talking about art vs. hats. Art is art and it shouldn't be undervalued, but I get where some of the commenters say a $150 hat just isn't in their budget. Maybe they don't understand that the creator isn't charging what she THINKS it's worth, she's charging it what it is worth, based on concrete facts, such as cost of materials and paying herself an hourly wage.

It's also interesting to note that there are some commenters who craft because they enjoy it and others who craft to make a living. One lady who commented said she hasn't  beaded in months because she has nowhere to sell her products. What about beading just to enjoy it? What about giving your crafts away as gifts? Are you really valuing your craft if you enjoy doing it but don't do it just because you can't make money off of it?

This is one topic that is usually discussed ad nauseum on Ravelry, along with copyright/fair use issues, crafting ethics, etc. It seems whenever money is involved, there's an issue.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gray hat: finished!

I'm always really excited when I finish a project. I can change the status of the project from "in progress" to "finished" on my Ravelry page, I can write my final notes about it, I can try on the project and show it to my family and post pictures of it on Facebook!

The picture above kind of sucks because I took it using Photobooth on my iMac. I had to have a picture of me wearing the hat, because it looks really awkward when it's not on someone's head.

I really liked the pattern. I wasn't in love with it, and I probably won't make it again. Not that that's a bad thing. The hat has a brim made from plastic canvas, which I've never done before, and the hem on the bottom is doubled so it makes your ears extra warm. The whole thing is wool and squishy and cabled. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I used Knitpicks Swish DK in Cobblestone Heather (which is actually dark  gray, not light blue) and the yarn was kind of splitty and felty when I worked with it. 

(Side note: There are so many other patterns in the world. I can never understand the people who knit the same pattern over and over and over again. At least a dozen knitting magazines are released seasonally. There are books being published all the time. Why would you want to spend your precious knitting time knitting the SAME scarf pattern for everyone? Don't you want to learn new skills? What is WRONG with you people???)

So I picked up the next Christmas present on my long list of Christmas presents: A hat pattern called Thorpe. I got some Malabrigo Chunky from Eat Sleep Knit and I'll be working on that project this weekend. I have all of the crown increases done (they were really quick) and I just have to knit 6.5 inches of hat body before I can work on the earflaps. I hope I have enough yarn. I got two skeins and I'm knitting a medium size. According to the instructions, the medium should only use one skein and the crochet edging and tassels should use half a skein. But I know how inaccurate free patterns are sometimes, even when you use the yarn suggested.

After Thorpe, there's a three-cornered hat I want to knit for my smallest cousin out of this self-striping yarn I have. That should be interesting. It uses size 3 needles. In comparison, Thorpe uses size 9 and Struan (the gray hat) uses size 5.

I also finished another dishcloth this past week and started another one. I think I picked up a really really old skein of cotton (I think it's one from my great grandmother's stash) and it had this gritty feel to it. I don't know if it just got dirty from being in storage the wrong way, but I ended up just throwing it away. It was way gross. Now I'm using newer yarn that doesn't feel old or gritty. My ball of yarn ends is the size of a large grapefruit. My plan is to finish my dishcloth knitting for all of my extended family and then knit dishcloths for my mother out of the epic ball of yarn ends.

That's all for now!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Drive-by exhaustion

At 5 a.m., after one glorious hour of sleep, I got a call from the retail establishment. I don't know why I answered it. They were asking me to come in and do shipment with them. They had a ton, and their on-call person called off sick. I don't know why I agreed to go in.

I worked from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. I put my foot down before coming in, saying I HAD to leave at 10. So I left, slept from 11 to 1, put myself together, ate some lunch, and went into work (again) at 4. I work until midnight and I have an employee meeting at the retail establishment at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

People usually say I'm completely crazy for holding down two jobs and working insane days like that. In college, it was usually double-shifts for three or more straight days, and I held four jobs between home and school. But my technique has usually been to pound through those days and live for the weekend, I guess? I count down the hours to a day when I can sleep in or a day that I have entirely to myself (Monday is one of those days, btw. And it'll be that much more enjoyable if I've worked hard all week.)

One big pet peeve I have with work is the people who call in sick. I get it if you're legitimately projectile vomiting all over your bathroom. It's another when you're just tired or you have a bit of a sniffle. There are tissues at work. Use hand sanitizer, take some Tylenol, get over yourself, and go do your job. I've gone to work sick. Yeah, you're probably going to be a biohazard and someone will catch your illness. But it's not like your boss is going to be even remotely compassionate to your plight if you don't have sick days. The most irritating phone calls I've gotten from work are from people who hack all over the phone trying to convince me they're incapacitated and I should work in their place. I'm pretty flexible and will literally work any time I'm not already scheduled to work (evidence: this morning.) I'm tempted to say no when I hear a pity party.

Okay, so after my daily pet peeve, here's some stuff that makes me happy:
1.) I get to hang out with my husband tomorrow. I'm pretty sure I'm going to knit all day.
2.) Bath and Body Works came out with a new fragrance called Strawberry Sparkler that smells oh-so-good.
3.) I'm almost done with the gray hat. Knitting tomorrow and Monday should about finish it up.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stay strong, knit with yarn

This week has been really weird. I think the retail establishment scheduling gods sensed it and only scheduled me for a one-hour meeting and an on-call shift for next week. I'm definitely going to revel in that recovery time.

This morning I took my fabric steamer to the retail establishment with me. I worked at 5 a.m. and was running on 1.5 hours of sleep. The retail establishment has TWO heavy-duty fabric steamers... but both of them are broken. I steamed 25 sets of satin pajamas and a variety of slips and other articles of clothing.

After I got off work, I wanted to make my husband breakfast, so I visited the grocery store and found steak on sale. I made him steak and eggs for breakfast. He appreciated it, as he always does. I've been making his lunches on my day off at the beginning of the week and he's been enjoying chili, stuffed peppers and stir-fry.

This week I picked up Final Fantasy VIII from the Playstation Network. I remember when that game was $50. Now you can get it for $10 on the Playstation Network store. I'm still really close to the beginning of the game (the first SeeD mission, if you're familiar) and it's still as epic as I remember it being when I played it at the tender age of 12.

I've given up on knitting for my coworker. I can't find a pattern that  I like enough or that I have the yarn for to knit. You can't miss gifts you don't know you're getting. So I've been focusing on knitting for my family before the end of the year. Here's some knitted hat action:

I think I'm almost done with the cabled part. I took the picture at Panera today when I went there for lunch and some quiet, focused knitting time. The good thing about top-down hats is I can try it on while I'm knitting it.

I found some insanely glittery chinese takeout boxes at Target to put Christmas gifts in this year. I've already packaged up my grandmother's socks in one of the boxes and they look very nice. I had a hard time finding the kind of gift labels I wanted, so I bought cardstock, stickers and a hole punch so I can make my own. I already have ribbon to thread through the hole, and I'll tie them onto the string of the gift box so the box can be reused. Finished, wrapped gifts will be labeled and placed in one of the massive Aldo bags I have from the other week.

Sometimes I look at knitting patterns and know exactly who I'd knit them for. Or I meet a person and I know right away I want to knit for them someday. I think I might eventually want to knit a pair of socks for my one boss. I think he's really funny and I think he'd like a pair of socks. But I have to finish a shawl for me, more wallets, socks and sweaters for my husband, more things for my knitworthy cousins, and knit up all of my cotton yarn into dishcloths.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

An exhausting day

Today I worked at the retail establishment from 5 a.m. to almost noon. I was supposed to leave at 9, but there was a lot of shipment and the stockroom is an absolute mess. Keep in mind, I had hopped into bed 3 hours before I headed into work. So armed with two hours of sleep and two cups of coffee... I was still pretty tired.

In the stockroom, there are boxes of giftsets piled all over the place in a weird cardboard box labyrinth. We also had a new girl working. For every pair of pants she put on a hanger, I hung three pairs. She just needs to learn how to move quickly and to understand that corporate allots a certain amount of hours for management to give to the employees. (A lot of people who have never worked retail don't understand this. Especially the people who wait in line at the grocery store and wonder why they don't open another register. They're understaffed, morons. Have some compassion.) I'm also convinced the people who make up the times for the boxes of shipment have never worked a shipment shift in their lives.

My husband was a saint today. After I came home, positively dragging, he tucked me into bed. A half an hour before I woke up, he had gone to one of our favorite sandwich places and purchased lunch. I didn't have to worry about making something to eat or worry about oversleeping.

I was still dragging at work, round 2, so I took a visit to the nearby Starbucks and got a triple latte. Thank goodness we turn back the clocks tonight. I could really use the extra hour.

The other day, I was knitting and I watched two new fairy tale TV shows. I watched "Grimm" (which I think is an NBC show) and ABC's "Once Upon a Time." They had been featured on NPR when I was driving to work one day, and I found them on Hulu to watch. I'll definitely continue watching them, even if they're not that great to knit to. They're kind of suspenseful and (especially "Once Upon a Time) colorful.

I'm still working on the gray hat and I found some glitter-covered boxes at Target for Christmas gifts this year. They'll be nice to pack stuff in with some tissue paper, but I had the cashier pack them in a separate bag because they shed glitter EVERYWHERE!

It's been a bit of a bummer at the newspaper for the past couple days, what with the PSU coach scandal. I tried reading the grand jury testimony and it just made me sick. How that can even be dismissed by fans or considered appropriate or acceptable is completely disturbing.

And now a joke that one of my facebook friends posted on her wall:
Q: How did the hipster burn his tongue?
A. He tried to drink his tea before it was cool.

Friday, November 4, 2011


There's a really interesting conversation going on in my Selfish Knitters group on Ravelry right now. A lady posted something from her church bulletin that I'd like to re-post, if only for my own benefit:

How can we plan our Christmas gifts so they will help us to honor the Savior and feel the true spirit of Christmas? Remind your family that our gifts should reflect the same spirit of love and concern as did those of the Wise Men who presented the first gifts to the baby Jesus.
Explain that gifts will contribute to the spirit of Christmas only when they pass these three tests:
  1. Is the gift given in the spirit of love?
  2. Is it a reasonable choice and not too expensive or time consuming for the giver?
  3. Will it be ready before Christmas so that it will not take last minute preparation that should be spent on more important activities?
Your family may think of alternatives to material gifts, such as the following:
  1. Gifts of time and service. For example, one teenager wrapped a card for his sister that read, “I will take your turn doing the dishes three times when you need me.” Suggest that each person give at least one such gift of service to each family member.
  2. Gifts of ideas. For example, personal ideas, recipes, family history information, and personal histories make gifts that will be deeply appreciated.
If gifts are purchased, they should be chosen especially for the one who will receive them.
A good gift need not be expensive, but it must let the person who receives it know that he is loved.
Perhaps you should consider cutting down on your list of those to whom you give gifts. The mere exchanging of gifts does not necessarily reflect the true spirit of Christmas and may contribute to your putting material things at the center of your Christmas season rather than the Savior.

I'm not nearly as religious as I was brought up to be. A lot of what church has been to me has left a bad taste in my mouth, but I won't debate about the value of religion here. However, I think a lot of what this lady posted is completely true. We don't necessarily need to think about Jesus when we give gifts, we just need to be sure any gifts we give are given with purpose and with a person in mind.

Today I worked at the retail establishment. It's in a mall, and since the holiday season is rolling in, people have been rushing in to get something for their loved ones. I imagine this rush will increase as Christmas approaches. I run into so many people there who, I feel, need to step back from their holiday shopping list and re-evaluate for whom they're buying gifts. They're stressed out and frazzled, and I feel purchasing gifts shouldn't make you feel that way.

I'm going to make dishcloths for my family for Christmas. People like handmade things that they can use. No one has ever told me they don't want them. And as much as I whine and complain about how boring the patterns are, I'm glad to give something to people. I LOVE giving things to my husband (it's probably some sort of deep-seated psychological thing) whether it's a pair of pants or some food I've cooked or a pair of knitting needles for a project he's working on. I just like to make people happy and comfortable. And it's important to do it with a purpose and not feel stressed out about it like some people do around Christmas.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A sweater no mother (of a baby) could love

I'm about to give up on Gavyn. It has to be literally the worst thing I've ever knitted. I missed the deadline for the baby shower today. I sewed one button on and I didn't like it so I took it off. The buttons don't even match where the button band should go. I think I'm done. Time to pick something else. There comes a time when I just need to move on.

I must be a glutton for punishment because part of me wants to keep going. I really really really want to make something for my coworker's baby, but this sweater is positively hideous. Maybe I'll stick with a hat and socks. I was told that babies can always use hats and socks, especially since this baby will be born when it's cold outside.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

50 dishcloths

Today was more proof that I have way too much yarn.

I was working on gathering up some cotton to work on dishcloths this month for Christmas, and I decided to count how many skeins of cotton I have and determine how many dishcloths I could make with it. I have enough to make at least 50 dishcloths (it's a working ballpark sort of number.) That doesn't include the renegade skeins lurking around my house or the giant skein of garish blue cotton my husband purchased years ago to make a blanket or the larger-than-a-grapefruit sized ball of cotton that contains all of the ends of all of the other skeins I've knitted in the past.

I need 28 dishcloths if I want to give my family members four dishcloths each.

I think last year I got around to knitting 14 dishcloths, and that amounted to two each. No one seemed to notice, and I accompanied them with some nice hand soap. If I only knitted two per family again, I wouldn't have to buy cotton for three years. At least.

My husband and I went major shopping this past weekend. He needed shoes and a winter coat and I needed shoes (I injured my ankle running and I didn't want to be tiptoeing around in 4-inch heels.) Plus there was an awesome sale at Banana Republic. We had some pretty big bags. I took the Banana Republic one for my cotton yarn and it wouldn't all fit in there, so I had to switch to one of the giant Aldo bags. It's close to being full with cotton yarn and 3 dishcloths that I've already finished.

I joined a group on Ravelry called "Dishcloth Mania," which will hopefully inspire me and make my dishcloth-knitting process a much better time this year. They post weekly dishcloth patterns for people to make, take pictures, and post. I'm torn as to whether I want to take the time to make fancy, patterned dishcloths, or just make normal dishcloths and have them done in less time.

Updates on other projects: The baby sweater is in pieces, out of frustration. I've been knitting away at my cousin's gray hat. I'll try to finish the baby sweater tomorrow night. I still have a number of projects I want to make for Christmas gifts:
1.) dishcloths, of course
2.) gray hat for my cousin
3.) blue/green hat for my OTHER cousin
4.) tiny hat for my toddler cousin
5.) beer cozies for my aunt/uncle

I guess that doesn't sound like too much. I wanted to knit matching mittens with the hats, but I think I'll stick with hats for now.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Destash goals, refined

I ended up ordering more yarn to knit a hat for my cousin Sydney for Christmas. The hat yarn ended up costing just as much as a hat from Justice. Maybe I should have just bought a hat for her...

Along with the yarn came another $5 store credit to EatSleepKnit. I will probably use this before Dec. 30 of this year, possibly on Black Friday, and hope I don't get another one. This will be my last yarny hurrah before the Great Yarn Fast of 2012.

I've managed to obtain buttons for the baby sweater and I found a closely matching embroidery floss to sew the sweater together. Somehow I keep screwing up the sleeves and sewing them on inside-out. I feel like a confused and demented person. There's a very specific way the sleeves need to be sewn on. If they're sewn on the wrong way, the seam is on the wrong side and the neck placket is the wrong way. It's really a big, convoluted mess. I've hacked sleeves off the sweater about three times now. My confusion might have something to do with working 65 hours a week and being perpetually exhausted.

Here are some rules for Yarn Diet 2012:
1.) I will not buy any yarn for any reason in 2012 because I have more than enough yarn as it is. I'm getting a new car and I need to learn how to be a financially responsible adult.
     a.) The last yarn purchased will use the remaining $5 store credit I have through EatSleepKnit.
2.) I will start the year by trying to finish projects already started.
     a.) I will finish an afghan I started, frog a sweater I started in order to make another sweater, and finish the lace shawl that is sitting and waiting for an edging.
3.) I will continue the year by knitting Christmas dishcloths (around March or April.) I will only knit as many dishcloths for the cotton yarn I have. No new cotton will be purchased.
4.) If I don't have enough yarn to make a pattern, I'll pick a different pattern.
5.) I'll rely on free patterns as much as possible. Purchasing books, magazines or patterns IS allowed.
6.) Purchasing needles and other notions (buttons, canvas, zippers, hooks, etc.) is also allowed.
7.) I will organize my craft area in the spring to make it easier to find yarn and supplies I need.
8.) I will participate in SKA's Sockdown as often as possible to knit down my supply of sock yarn.
9.) I will not make trips to buy yarn (no special stops in Philly, New York, or wherever I might go in 2012.)
10.) I will knit something to submit to the fair
11.) I will knit something I like and keep it for myself.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Destash goals

It's been a while. I've been working at the retail establishment about 20 to 25 hours a week, plus another 40 at my full-time job, so things have been a little hectic. My house is gross, my husband is hungry and lonely and I don't have knitting time.

Okay, enough complaining. So the other day on my "Selfish Knitters" forum, someone was talking about destashing. The last time I wrote, I talked about knitting for the York Fair, but destashing sounds like a much smarter option. I have a new mitten kit, but I also have an old sock kit that I never touched and a whole bin full of sock yarn. I probably have more than $500 worth of unknit sock yarn in the house, which is bad bad bad. And that's just sock yarn. The worst part of it is, when I went to buy new yarn for a hat I want to knit for my cousin Sydney, I got another $5 store credit from my favorite online yarn store. Really, that's just asking to be used. It's kind of a bummer because it covers shipping and about $2 from my order, but I'm still tempted to shop some more. I really want some yarn from Sanguine Gryphon. I guess my store credit will just sit in my account until I use up some more of my yarn.

GOAL: Do NOT purchase ANY yarn for ANY reason next year. Needles and patterns don't count in the destash goals, as they facilitate appropriate yarn use. The only possible exception would be to purchase cotton for christmas dishcloths, but that's stretching it. I have so much cotton yarn it's not funny. (Side note: we wrote behavior modification contracts when I was in 9th grade. I should write an official one for myself and my yarn habit.)

I'm happy to report, though, that my few projects that I have going now are going really well. I'm almost done with the brown baby sweater. I have both sleeves finished. I messed up on the collar last night, and I still need to buy some buttons, but for the most part it's getting there.

The gray hat has not progressed. I've been focusing every knitting moment on the baby sweater. The sweater's due date is sooner than the hats, so it gets all my attention. I want to make another pair of baby socks as well to go with the sweater. I have one pair done, but it's a little feminine.

I got some Malabrigo Bulky to make a hat with earflaps for my cousin, Sydney. Earflap hats are in style amongst the young'uns. I saw several on the Justice for Girls website (including one with SILVER SEQUINS!!!) I hope I can make one that passes the approval of a tween.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Unofficial York Fair Knitting Checklist

Here are all of the things that can be knit for the York Fair, according to the premium book on the fair website.
Needlework is Department 18 and is judged "with regard to beauty, degree of perfection, amount of work, and suitability for the purpose for which it is intended." This will be the list I'll reference to decide what to knit for the fair next year. I didn't include things like felting (I can't felt in my washing machine) and homespun (I don't know how to spin.)

1.) Bedspread
2.) Carriage Robe
3.) Pillows, no bed pillows
4.) Doll
5.) Doll clothing
6.) Household accessories
7.) Christmas
8.) Christmas stocking
9.) Stockings
10.) Jacket
11.) Purse
12.) Hat
13.) Scarf
14.) Eyelash scarf
15.) Shawl
16.) Cable sweater
17.) Bulky knit sweater
18.) Fair isle sweater
19.) Cotton sweater
20.) Short sleeve pullover
21.) Long sleeve pullover
22.) Vest
23.) Cardigan
24.) Children's coat
25.) Children's dress
26.) Children's mittens
27.) Children's hat
28.) Children's cardigan
29.) Children's pullover
30.) Children's vest
31.) Infant booties
32.) Infant bunting
33.) Infant cap
34.) Infant dress
35.) Infant Christening outfit
36.) Infant sweater
37.) Afghan: solid color
38.) Afghan: ripple
39.) Afghan: children's

For all of these categories, there's an "other" category as well. You know, in case I knit something that isn't covered in the almost-40 categories. Some of these, I think, are a little antiquated. Like a carriage robe? And what's a bunting?

For what it's worth, it'll be fun to see how many I can knit before next August.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

An update on all things knitterly

I started TWO projects since finishing my socks on Oct. 10.

The first is this sweater. The pattern is Gavyn and I'm knitting it on size 9 needles out of a bulky alpaca blend by Bernat. Maybe because it's the wrong weight or maybe I'm doing something wrong, but the squares on the yoke aren't measuring properly. I'm a little confused, but I'll keep chugging along. I'm making it for a coworker's baby.

The second project is this lovely hat. The pattern is Struan by Ysolda Teague and I'm knitting it from Knitpicks Swish DK in Cobblestone Heather. My cousin requested a hat. If I have time, I'll make him matching fingerless gloves to go with it. Maybe I'll make hats and mittens for all of my cousins.
I know I'm in a bit of a time crunch to finish things for the holidays. I have about two months to finish all of the dishcloths I want to knit, plus whatever extra things I want to make for people. The Selfish Knitters & Crocheters are firmly against knitting things you don't want to knit. I want to knit for people, I do, but there are too many things to knit in too short of a time. The key is to start knitting in January, but this has never happened. Ever.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Socks: finished!

So I finished my socks that I started at the beginning of September. Now I'm moving on to a hat with cables for my cousin.

I WOULD be making a baby sweater for my coworker Pat's child. But I made the mistake of going to Michael's to look for craft supplies. Michael's is the worst possible place to shop for craft supplies. They dedicate a whole aisle to cake decorating and they have three rows of baskets of baby yarn in a far corner of the store. What is that about? They'll promote Martha Stewart's useless craft nonsense, but they can't carry something simple, such as a 16" size 9 circular needle. So I left without buying anything. I really can't say enough bad things about Michael's. They're the worst! If you're going to shop somewhere, at least support the little guy and go to a local store.

Maybe I'll try AC Moore tomorrow. If I can't find anything there, I'll go to Uncommon Threads. I know AC Moore is a chain, but I want something inexpensive because baby sweaters aren't worn forever. They'll be worn for about six months and then the baby grows out of them. In the meantime, I'll work on the hat.

Today I'm also cooking. I'm making a tilapia dish with chard, prosciutto and gorgonzola and I'm roasting a chicken and making mashed potatoes. Maybe I'll steam some green beans, too. Last week, I cooked meals for my husband for the week. He had purchased shrimp, tilapia and salmon fillets at the grocery store. This morning I made shrimp scampi before he went to work, so he had lunch to eat today.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It didn't feel like a lot of knitting, but it was

I'd have to say my pair of gray socks is about 80 percent done. This morning I had to pay some bills and stuff, but I managed to get several rows done, moving the little cables closer to the center of the foot. I hope I can knit some more later.

I also finished "Lost" today. It was pretty anticlimactic. I ate some of the salmon and potatoes I made on Monday. I didn't have to work at the retail establishment.

I wish I had gone for a run, but I can't seem to shake my head cold. It's more of a nuisance than anything. I should probably vacuum around the house. It's pretty bad when I'm at work, too. I have great plans to go to Target tomorrow to get some Clorox wipes and canned air to spray out my keyboard.

Shortly after I got to work, we got word that Steve Jobs had died. I'm not sobbing over it or anything. I obviously didn't personally know him, but he seemed to be a great innovator and talented business manager. I was pretty disturbed to see people making smug, pretentious, insensitive remarks about his death. I'm no champion of human life, but show a little respect. The guy was known for changing the way Americans use technology. He wasn't a philanthropist.

Those are my thoughts for the day I guess. Happy crafting!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lofty knitting goals

So it's October 4 and my pair of gray socks for my grandmother remains unfinished. In my defense I had a rough weekend. I worked pretty much every day (except yesterday) and I'm coming down with a cold. Tomorrow I have some errands to run before I can spend time knitting.

Yesterday (Monday) was a good day off to do anything but knit, however. Despite coming down with a cold, I was really in the mood to cook. My husband usually makes all of his meals for the week at the beginning of the week. This week he purchased some tilapia, salmon and shrimp that was on sale at the grocery store, and I asked him if I could cook it. He said, "You can if you want to," and so that's what I did for most of yesterday.

I made a cumin and coriander crusted tilapia with simmered lentils and mango salsa, Shrimp Fra Diavolo from my "Cook This Not That" cookbook, and roasted salmon and sweet potatoes with an herb vinaigrette from my New York Times Cookbook.

 The cooking warmed up the house. The temperature dipped to 66 degrees because it was cold and rainy outside for all of this weekend. I want to see how long we can last until we turn on the heat. 66 degrees felt pretty frigid for me, and I was in sweatpants and a sweatshirt all day. Cooking warmed it up to a balmy 72, and it stayed that way until this morning when it dropped back down to 66. I think our apartment doesn't have very good insulation.

I took a lot of pictures of food in Rubbermaid containers and sent them as text messages to my husband. I sampled the food I made and it was pretty good. I only hope it tastes just as good after it's been sitting in the fridge for a while.

Anyway, the pair of socks should be finished by the end of this week. I made some pretty good progress on them this morning. I got past the gusset decreases, and I'm on to moving the cable motifs toward the center of the foot.

All while I'm knitting, I've been watching "Lost" through Netflix. It's a rather stupid and entertaining show. I was talking to a coworker this weekend who said that a lot of guys she knew were all about watching lost. That kind of baffles me because of the very few TV shows I watch, "Lost" reminds me most of a daytime soap opera. So it's unusual to me that it would appeal to men. I have about 5 episodes left in the series.

After I'm done knitting my gray socks and watching "Lost," I'll probably start on some of the things I ordered through Knit Picks this weekend. I got the "Woodland Winter Mittens" kit, which has six different pairs of mittens, each with a design that represents October through March. October has a leaf scene, November has a mountain scene, etc. They're knit with KnitPicks Palette, which I used to make some Christmas ornaments a couple years ago. I also ordered yarn to make my cousin a hat, per his request. I'm going to make Struan by Ysolda Teague. It'll be the first time I've used plastic canvas to make a hat brim. I hope it turns out okay.

In November, I have to finish up the massive pile of dishcloths I usually make every year, even though I really want to make some socks for my husband. He's about due for a new pair of socks. He started an afghan this past weekend after seeing a pattern in my KnitPicks catalogue. I found a similar pattern for free on Ravelry, and he's using some yarn that we already have in the house.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chatter about my Sockdown socks

I'm trying to finish up a pair of socks I started for Sockdown 5 on the Sock Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry. It's going pretty well. The challenge for this month is to knit a pair of socks in a chartreuse color. The challenge also has a second option where you can knit a sock from a particular designer. One of those designers is Cailyn Meyer, and I'm knitting her Glass Slippers pattern for a size 8 foot. The socks are going to be the first pair I'm knitting for my grandmother.

My goal was to have one whole sock done by the 15th of the month so I could start the next sock and finish it by the end of the month. I'm on the heel flap of the second sock now, and if I work pretty hard on the second sock, it should be done by Oct. 3, three days later than I was hoping.

I'm really enjoying the pattern. Usually I dread knitting a second sock, but the construction is diverse enough that I forgot about the pain of the endless twists and seed stitch in the leg by the time I got to the mind-numbing stockinette in the foot and toe. I messed up a stitch count by the time I got to the foot chart on the first sock, so hopefully the blunder will correct itself in the second sock.

My ultimate goal is to finish a challenge. Usually I start a pair of socks for Sockdown and then get sick of them halfway through the second sock, put them down for months, and then pick them up again when the challenge has already expired. If I finish within the next week or so, it'll be my very first finished Sockdown!

Between working at nights now and not really getting that many hours at my other job, I've had plenty of time during the day to knit. I usually try to wake up with my husband around 9 or 10 a.m., eat something small for breakfast or have a cup of tea, go for a run, and knit until it's time to go to work. I like watching movies and old-ish TV shows on Netflix (my husband and I don't have cable... not worth paying for it.) All six seasons of Lost are on Netflix streaming, so that's my latest semi-obsession. It reminds me of a daytime soap opera. I typically have time to knit after work as well.

I'm a slow knitter, so a pair of socks in a month is quite an accomplishment. I don't know how some knitters do a "52-pair plunge" and knit a pair of socks a week. That's pure insanity.

Next, I'll outline my knitting goals for the end of the year, and some things I want to accomplish next year.

Mesh Dishcloth

You'll need:
- 1 pair of size US 8 needles
- Two ounces of 100 percent cotton yarn.
-Yarn needle for weaving in ends

CO 36 stitches
Knit 7 rows
Row 8 (RS): K6, *yo, k4; rep from * to last 6 sts, yo, k6
Row 9: K4, p2tog, *(k1, p1) into the yo of the previous row, [p2tog] twice; rep from * to last 7 sts, (k1, p1) into the yo, p2tog, k4
Row 10: K8, *yo, k4; rep from * to end, YO, k8.
Row 11: k4, p2, p2tog, *(k1, p1) into the yo of previous row, [p2tog] twice; rep from * to last 9 sts, (k1, p1) into the yo, p2tog, p2, k4
Rep rows 8 to 11 until the dishcloth measures 7 inches from cast-on edge.
Knit 7 rows. Bind off. Weave in ends.

Cabled Dishcloth

Here's a dishcloth pattern I made up a few months ago that was on my blog. I've worked out the bugs and now you can enjoy its chunky cabled goodness for free, free, free.

You'll need:
- 1 pair of size US 8 needles
- Two ounces of 100 percent cotton yarn.
-Yarn needle for weaving in ends

Cast on 44 stitches.
Rows 1 to 7: Knit
Row 8: K4, P13, K10, P13, K4
Row 9: K17, P10, K17
Row 10: K4, P13, C10L, P13, K4.
Repeat row 9
Repeat rows 8 and 9 four times.
Repeat row 10.
Repeat row 9
Repeat rows 8 and 9 four times.
Repeat row 10.
Repeat row 9
Repeat rows 8 and 9 four times.
Repeat row 10.
Repeat row 9
Repeat rows 8 and 9 four times.
Repeat row 10.
Repeat row 9
Repeat rows 8 and 9 once.
Knit 7 rows.
Bind off. Weave in ends.

C10L: Slip 5 sts onto cable needle and hold in the front of the work. Knit next 5 sts, knit 5 sts from cable needle.

Farewell to an old blog, hello to a new one

My old blog is in the process of shutting down. 

I used to blog on Off the Beaten Craft for my job, but now my posts are being sucked into a new website called "Smart," which is kind of a lifestyle-themed sort of place on the Internet. 

Last night my boss asked me if I would be blogging outside of work, and I said I probably wouldn't. Well I changed my mind and I think I will, mostly because I'd like to save some of my knitting patterns and videos from my old blog so people on Ravelry can still access them. It would be kind of lame to want to knit one of my patterns (however elementary they are) and then go to click on the link and it leads you nowhere.

I'm not the most profound writer, so you'll have to bear with me, I guess. If I stick with it, this blog will be tremendously different from my old one. Outside of work I'm interested in many more things besides crafting. I enjoy cooking and running and spending time with my awesome husband and my cat. I'm ultimately really passionate about my knitting and have rather strong opinions about other crafts --- mainly why they're just not as awesome as knitting.

A fair warning: I have strong opinions about politics and about life in general. I'm not afraid to speak my mind and be borderline abrasive about other aspects of life, so if you don't like something I've said, stop reading. This is my playground. I'm not going to force myself to be pleasant about everything.

I like listening to NPR, and I love my job at my hometown's newspaper. I especially love having a career and I have no aspirations to have children. I have a second job at a retail establishment, so when the holidays come around, I'll probably have a lot to say about that.

I think that's all you really need to know about me. Since I've left college, I've become a rather boring grownup. Enjoy my knitting patterns from time to time and feel free to share yours. :-)