Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year and great socks to all!

Well, the Misses Lime and Violet have challenged their readers to add up all their sock yarn yardage and figure out how many miles of sock yarn they had. Turns out I had a grand total of 5349 yards which equals 3.03 miles. Of Yarn.

I'm thinking I might make about eight pairs of socks this year - My guess is that I'll use up about 2 miles of sock yarn. Now, this jives in nicely with the idea of a Yarn Diet as described by blogger, Wendy from Wendy Knits!. After long semi-serious discussion, she has come up the idea of "Knit from your Stash 2007" and I am reluctantly thinking this is a good idea.

The Guidelines for L-B and Wendy's Knit-from-your-stash-a-thon:

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through September 30, 2007 -- a period of nine months.

2. We will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions:

2.a. Sock yarn does not count. What? You think we are made of stone?

2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that we really and truly do not have the yarn for, we may buy yarn to knit that gift.

2.c. If we are knitting something and run out of yarn, we may purchase enough to complete the project.

2.d. We each get one "Get Out of Jail Free" card -- we are each allowed to fall off the wagon one time.

3. We are allowed to receive gifts of yarn.

4. Spinning fiber of any sort is exempt.

I think I can live with this! Especially when I walk through yarn stores with friends and say things like, "Yorkshire Tweed, I love that yarn. I have 15 skeins at home." 15 skeins??! This is a problem. I have the yarn for at least three sweaters, two purses, three shawls and many pairs of socks as well as at least two baby sweaters. Honey, if I could only make this many items this year, I would be knitting into 2008.

And for the big giveaway this past week? No photos but I Freecycled a flip top box of large pieces of fabric. Each piece was at least four feet and some as big as six feet. I originally bought the fabric for medieval costumes and this parting was only one box of four that I really should part with. But one box at a time.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, aim high.

Well, I guess I agree. Who wouldn't want to be like JFK? I just wonder what he would knit?

You Are Most Like John F. Kennedy

You live a fairy tale life that most people envy.
And while you may have a few dark secrets, few people know them.

I've mostly spent the day getting organized for a New Year's Eve day party and photographing my stash for L&V's Knit your Sock Stash 2007. I had to do a little research about Sandnes' Smart Superwash yarn - turns out it CAN be considered a sock yarn. Yikes! That adds nine more skeins to the stash!

Once I get out the calculator, I'll let you know the final yardage I am planning to actually knit in 2007.

Pretty colors, aren't they?

Monday, December 25, 2006

A last minute Christmas in the bag!

So, I think I may be forgiven for not posting the last few days. Like many knitters, I was feverishly knitting until the last minute last night. As my DH brought down the presents, I was still sitting on the couch finishing my second pair of Fetching mitts. I probably could have had the evening off if I hadn't have taken an afternoon nap. I see on other blogs that terrible colds are making the rounds of North America and I am still under the weather. Sick. Tired. Drippy. So, I chose to sleep during the day and knit during the evening. It wasn't too bad since all our wrapping was done and VH1 was running all Christmas videos.

At least I can show a picture of the mitts in action.

I also managed to drop off the Saturday Seven a day early at Saint John the Evangelist Church in Saint Paul. Pretty simple leavings this week - I just didn't have the time to really take stock of what we should be pruning. Two books, a bag of toddler clothing, a pile of teenage girl clothing (I don't know where that came from - her closet is still as packed as before) and three Christmas ornaments. Sometimes your tastes just change and I knew we wouldn't be putting these up again. But someone else will want all of this and that's what makes this so much better than taking a trip to the landfill.

We didn't end up having a white Christmas after all. With 40 degrees F. as the high today, anything that arrived on Friday is long gone. Slush is a poor substitute for snow. I heard tonight that this is the first December 25 with no measurable snowfall since snowfall recording begain in Duluth in 1875.


Happy Holidays anyway and a Peaceful New Year!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Anatomy of a Christmas: 2006 (or - Two down, one to go)

Today, the snow finally arrived. Everyone in Minnesota has been complaining about having a brown Christmas but it's actually been quite nice. Low 40's F. and dry for weeks. I even found new leaf and flower buds on the honeysuckle vine on my garage. Well, that's long gone now. It's wet, snowy and 34 degrees F. Snow is the first step towards making things look holiday-ish around here.

In the meantime, I finished my Fetching mitts in RYC's Cashsoft Aran in Forrest green. They were truly the easy products that everyone says. Unfortunately, I am completely unable to produce the picot edging that is part of the design. Instead, I made up a purled bind off that seemed a little ruffly. It's not quite the right thing but, hey, it's three days before Christmas. Finishing gifts is the second step on the path to Christmas.

The Sheep(less) Tote is now finished as well. I tried to pose a photo that showed off the side pockets but I had nothing but batting to put inside it. I think I am going to make a plastic canvas insert for the bottom to give it more shape. The batting is the Monster Mashup that I made from my Halloween-themed Fiber Exchange. I had to put away the spinning wheel, however, to make room for my Monday Night Book Club holiday party. We had a great time, reading our annual Holiday Play aloud. This year, we read "The Miss Firecracker Contest" by Beth Henley.

The third and final step? Getting the remaining gifts in the mail. My parents were going to spend the holidays with us here in Minnesota but some minor medical problems have kept them from flying. So, their presents will have to become New Year's Gifts and only if I get them in the mail tomorrow!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

One for the money (or lack thereof)

Since I am still so far under the weather that I could give you the forecast in Sydney (partly cloudy, 11 degrees C. - Thanks, David Reidy!), I can only account for one single bag of giveaways this week. There were more than seven items in it. I did not take a picture. Some summer skirts, several items of outgrown toddler clothing, a set of sheets and two books. Trust me. It's all gone.

Knitting wise, I'm officially finished with my felted knitting tote and it's upstairs drying right now.

The pictures aren't very attractive because it was still quite damp. I plan on doing a little steaming/shaping tomorrow. My favorite parts are the side pockets for knitting needles.

I did have my yearly "Dog intrudes into Knitting Bag" meltdown this week when Zelda the German Shepherd played a little catch with one of my just-completed "Mrs. Beeton's" ruffly wristlets. As she ate most of the beaded cast on of one cuff, I had a blurry vision of me having to reknit a whole new cuff. Instead, I opted to figure out how to snip out the damaged Kidsilk Haze, bind off the damaged yarn, rebead the missing beads onto new Kidsilk Haze, knit into the existing cuff stitches and then bind the whole thing so that the new blended into the old.

See how she mocks me with this relaxed pose! Zelda is actually the Foul Fiend of Knitting.

The only good thing about this 1/2 days work is - Kidsilk Haze (a 70% Super Kid mohair/30% Silk blend - I actually used Kidsilk Night in the turquoise blue Oberon colorway) Fuzzes. I was able to fluff up all the new stitches to make them match the "mouthed-but-not-eaten" existing stitches. The bottom cuff is actually the one with the redone cast on. The beads aren't in quite the right place but the rest looks fine.

Luckily, the other recipients of cuffs on my Christmas list asked for plainer mitts so I am casting on for some of the ever-popular Fetching mitts from Knitty in Rowan Cashsoft Aran - a great Burnt Sienna kind of colorway. I think I'll make some of the Voodoo wristwarmers if I've got enough time.

For bigger works, I've also started my string bag gift again. The first cast on turned into a puddle of red (as Miss Lime of Lime n' Violet calls it) "catyack." Right now, my only trouble is that my Addi Turbos are too blunt to make this an easy knit. It's definitely a carry-along kind of work. This afternoon, I was working on it while my daughters and Youngest Child were at play practice for our church Christmas pageant. In the knitterly equivalent of listening at the door, I was knitting along in the back of the church when, suddenly, I realized it was my boychild deserting the Shepherd gang and bolting for the back door. Unfortunately, after he was returned, I also realized he was the one leading the "Pizza, pizza" chant. We got out of the following dinner as soon as possible.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Welcome Back, Knitter!

One of the most sublime experiences we can ever have is to wake up feeling healthy after we have been sick.

-Rabbi Harold Kushner

This is absolutely true. A bad cold has been making the rounds at my house. First Middle Daughter, then Youngest Child, then me and now Dear Husband. At first, I didn't mind. All the extra time at home would be good for my Christmas Knitting. Everyone needs a little down time, afterall. But then I got the Bad Cold and it was a doozy. Dizziness, headache, earache, cough, sore throat - everything little germ was having a holiday inside me. By the end of the day, when my cold medicine was working full strength, I barely had the energy to sit in a chair and knit a row or two.

And family life was moving onward and upward so I actually never got to go to bed. Instead, I was driving, running errands and Christmas shopping. I think that was the big mistake - everyone else got to go straight to bed for two days and do nothing but eat a little toast and drink tea, nap a little and then nap some more. Me - I was on the go.

Which explains the lack of posting and my missing Saturday Seven. And the fact that I am still sick with the "Cough that makes my lungs pop out" while everyone else is better. Now, if I can only catch up with the laundry, the present wrapping, the Christmas card sending and the baking. All things I actually like doing (not the laundry!) but just need a little more energy first.

I did actually give away items last week. First, I had to make them, however. My church home, Randolph Heights Presbyterian Church, has a Mitten Tree every holiday season where we collect hats, scarves and mittens for a Women and Families Shelter. The woman who taught me to knit, Mary, now does nothing but knit mittens all year round for the tree. She also developed a simple but warm, double-layer pattern for fleece mittens. I usually sponsor a mitten sewing workshop every year and actually had about 15 pairs of cut-out but not sewn mittens leftover from last year. Since there was no way I was going to be able to knit any mittens this year, I sat down every evening and sewed mittens. Eight pairs went to the tree on Sunday and I have four more pairs cut out and ready to sew. This is what my dining room looks like right now.

I am really looking forward to getting this finished. Knitting wise, I did finish the Mrs. Beeton wristlets and I am down to the I-cord straps on my felted Noro bag. I'll cast on another bag this week and then finish up my other set of wristlets next week. No Christmas stockings or felted door decorations this year - maybe I'll start in July next year!

In other health related news, many of you knitters have been listening to the Lime and Violet podcast. Miss Violet has written about finding a lump in her breast and is now is negotiations with her insurance company over her care. The Lime and Violet podscast homepage is accepting donations to help pay her very large deductible which will re-set again at the start of the new year. Please consider making a donation, even if you don't listen to her, and consider it as giving the gift of good health. Try it - you'll like it! And if you love a knitter, consider buying Lisa Souza's "Violet's Pink Ribbon" colorway in yarn, sock yarn or roving. Her work is excellent and a potion of the proceeds go to Miss Violet's health care fund.

Now, go home and get some rest tonight.

Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos - the trees, the clouds, everything.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, December 02, 2006

So simple.

Today's seven was simple. Probably some people would say too simple but they were seven things that really needed to go. I bagged up seven pairs of curtains today. They used to hang in my parlor and living room. I made them about 13 years ago as a stopgap measure but I never got around to replacing them. Well, that day finely arrived and now, I have curtains to spare. They are still quite usable and would work for (several) young person's rooms as they are made of washable polyester. Off they go to St. John the Evangelist's big sale.

It's kind of sad to let a piece of your history go but I am ready, ready, ready.

Craft-wise, Good Friend Melissa and I ran over to Craft-O-Rama, the No-Coast Craft Show, in Minneapolis. It was a great show - very wide ranging - and we both bought some great gifts. I only wish that there was more fiber. A lot of inspired knitting but no hand spun or hand-dyed yarn.

At home, I was knitting mini-socks and mittens all week for a Girl Scout craft sale. I don't know what I was thinking because I didn't take a picture of any of them. More Christmas present knitting as well - yes, for people who read this blog! I'm looking forward to seeing how these are received.

This year, for the first time, we decided to make a real gingerbread house. We had a shaky time making the dough - thanks, dear Husband, for your pie-dough/cookie rolling expertise! - and icing. Everyone liked that part. Middle Daughter even revealed that she used to eat the ones that they made in school. I hated to tell her that they were usually made with glue mixed into the icing! Notice the pan of hard candy "glass" and extra gingerbread boys behind the house. We give Martha Stewart a run for her money! The gingerbread house is still a little shaky. We had to go heavy on the icing cement because we had definite structural issues. No steel girders here, we use holiday ribbon. Tomorrow, when things are really firm, the decorating begins anew!