The State of the Knitting — December 2015

The State of the Knitting — December 2015

Yeah, that time of the year to take stock of things and that includes my knitting. Like most knitters, I have more unfinished objects than I should lying about the house in various states. To deal with this, the plan (she says with immense overconfidence) is to focus on a few items every month, and try to make efforts at getting those finished or at least seriously moved along the road. I have no pretensions matching Stephanie McPhee or Wendy Johnson’s productivity, but I can definitely do better in 2016. Here’s what mainly on the needles at the moment.

Zorya by Anna Dalvi

Advent ShawlZorya will be a triangle-shaped shawl, being released as an Advent knit-along, with a new clue each day between December 1 and December 24. I’m doing pretty well on this one (only about half a day behind at this point) and the goal is to actually wear it to Christmas Eve services on the 24th. Looking at the schedule for the day job, though, I have a feeling that while I may finish the shawl before services, I won’t have time to block it that day without making myself crazy.

The yarn is fingering weight, with the darker color being a variegated blue-black with silver thread among the strands, Studio June Yarn Star Struck in Moon Dance, which has been aging in my stash since early 2011. The lighter color is also variegated deep rose and purple, Dream In Color Smooshy in Ruby River. I bought the yarn back in 2009 — and somehow forgot about it until after we moved two years ago. I tried using it on another shawl earlier this year, but that didn’t quite work. Pairing it with the Studio June, though, seems to be the match that particular skein was waiting for.

Night Blossoms by Romi Hill

Night BlossomRomi Hill makes amazing lace shawls and Night Blossoms was one that caught my attention because I could easily see it in a gradient yarn. The pattern is designed so there is a patterned yoke over your shoulders and then blossoms and pattern descending from that.

I found the yarn from Apple Tree Knits, a pure alpaca lace called “Ominous.” I’ll admit I like it, but it’s actually less ominous and more pleasant twilight. Definitely pretty and I’m receiving plenty of compliments, but it’s not turning out quite as dramatic as I’d hoped. However, given the intricacy of the pattern, this will make a nice shawl for summer evenings. In the picture, you can see the yoke and how the pattern begins to spread out from there. At the top of the picture, that’s not a shadow, but the yarn shifting from pink to blue.

And for anyone wondering, yes, this was the shawl I was knitting away on at the December LARA meeting.

Katya by Wendy McDonnell

KatyaOkay, if I want drama, this shawl will deliver it in spades. Katya is what’s termed an heirloom shawl, knit on tiny needles (Size US 0) with Cobweb Lace yarn. Yes, I’m essentially knitting a shawl that will be ultimately six to seven feet across with thread. A very nice merino/silk/cashmere thread, but thread all the same. Did I mention that it’s also beaded?

Now, why would I do such a crazy thing like that, you might ask. Because this is a knitting project that’s going to seriously stretch my skills. The pattern was a knit-along for 2015, but I started several months late and never caught up. We’re remedying that in 2016.

If you want evidence of how crazy I am, the picture shows the first 25 rows. That’s my index finger for scale. This is one I have to keep the cats away from because one good bite…

I’m looking at this list and my fingers are itching to go knit instead of handle the day job or any of the other tasks that are to hand. One reason I’m glad it’s almost the weekend; even with the holiday craziness, there’s still going to be plenty of time to curl up with some nice, squishy yarn and let my mind escape from the madness for a while.

So, with the last full weekend before Christmas before us, what do you have planned to give yourself some down time? Or do things seem just too overwhelming?

Bits and Bobs

Bits and Bobs

11-26-06tree6_eyesthatslayI have two longer posts that I need to finish up, but I’m trying to post every few days and since it’s been, oh, five, I thought I’d do a brief list of what’s happening.

I have solved my yarn problem. Out of the few stashes that actually had the skein I need, one was for sale and I’ve sent money via Paypal and it’s supposed to be on its way. Once that arrives, I’ll wind it the same night and get moving on finishing that last repeat.

Our car is still in the shop. It was almost done Tuesday, but our mechanic realized there was still one tiny leak in the valve, so he needs to fix it before that’s done. ::sigh::

Work has been insane, which it always is at this time of the year. I work a day job where we have a huge uptick in activity surrounding year end, so I’m working more than my usual 40. Yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel; unfortunately, it’s quite possibly a hand-car filled with rabid ferrets.

My father-in-law will be staying with us for Christmas. This was not expected and is causing a serious rearrangement of our Christmas plans, such as they were.

In the frustration of work, no car, and relatives, I have cast on five projects. Don’t ask. When I come to my senses, I imagine most of them will be frogged and the yarn quietly tucked away back into the stash.

I should actually have writing-related news to share soon, which is exciting.
That’s it for now. Off to work and our groups annual holiday lunch. Here’s to a good and (relatively) stress-free day for everyone.

It’s  a Mystery

It’s a Mystery

tkg_logo_mediumOne of the fun aspects about Ravelry (aside from finding folks who are just as nuts about yarn as you) is the Knit Along, aka “KAL.” Group of knitters take the same pattern and knit the item, providing encouragement and support — and often, useful advice — to their fellow knitters.

The companion to this is the Mystery Knit Along (MKAL). You are provided with the following: needle size, yarn weight and yardage, and any other items you might need. You don’t know what the pattern is, each bit coming in “clues,” usually on a weekly basis. The fun is in seeing the sock or shawl or whatever develop as you work. Of course, that means there’s always the danger you might not like what you see, but I generally stick to folks whose design sense I trust — or wait until things have started and see pictures. And if you don’t happen to like something, you can always frog it and use the yarn for something else. Plus, there’s the social aspect to all of this, a chance to interact with fellow knitters and drool over their yarn choices.

Now, since I knit faster than George R.R. Martin writes, but not by much, I do not need another project cast on. But when I saw The Knitting Game MKAL2015 and learned it was going to be released not in four to eight clues as is usually done, but 46 clues, each one relatively small, I decided to dive in. I have no idea what yarn I’m using, except that I’m going to be knitting from the stash, starting with pieces that are left over from other projects. There are apparently going to be goodies along the way; an email was just sent warning us to check our emails on Christmas Eve morning and that we might want some sport weight yarn handy. This is one MKAL I think I can keep up with, even with everything else going on in my life and, at year’s end, I’ll have not just a scarf, but something that will be a certain record of the year. I’ll know which parts were made when stories and books go up on sale on Amazon, the ones that were knit in bad weeks and which ones were knit in good. But I’ll also look at it and be able to remember the fun of launching myself on an adventure having no idea what it would be like, except that it’ll be a scarf at the end, long enough to make the Doctor proud.

After all, what’s life without a little mystery?

Storing the Stash

Storing the Stash

The Yarn Pile

Yeah, I have a few skeins of yarn.

Various tasks accomplished this weekend, along with attending a fascinating workshop by Laurie Schnebly Campbell Saturday. If you get a chance to attend one of Laurie’s workshops online or in person, I definitely recommend it. I came away with a good many notes for my current project, and things on that are beginning to kick into high gear.

Unpacking continues apace as well. I now have most of my cookbooks unpacked and shelved — though there are a few more packed in one box or another, I believe. But I also managed to get my yarn stash put away into its new home. It was also a chance to do a full inventory, make certain none of the yarn had been attacked by moths (the dread of anyone who works with fiber) and take pictures to post on revelry. Besides, because we need to keep expenses down for a while, I’m on a bit of yarn diet. This is why you buy yarn when you can; so it’s there in those times when you can’t. Besides, if yarn has aged in the stash somewhat, it’s almost like shopping when you find hold it in your hands again.

Yarn cubbies!

Where the yarn lives.

One of my plans this year — before the moving insanity started — had been to have a dedicated space to store my yarn in. The move gave me that chance. One of the Expedits purchased at IKEA is dedicated to the stash, all now cataloged and photographed. Yarn occupies six cubbies while knitting books and patterns take up the remaining two. Finished objects and works in progress are stored elsewhere.

My husband looked at all this and asked, “So, exactly how much yarn do you have?”

“A little over one hundred and fifty colorways in various brands.”

“So, just over a hundred and fifty skeins, right?”

“Um, no. Some of the colorways have multiple skeins — but I’m pretty sure I have less than two hundred skeins.”

His eyes crossed at that point and I didn’t think it was a good idea to point out that, according to some of the profiles on Ravelry, I have a fairly small stash.

If you have yarn, do you have a specific place where your stash lives — are does it simply infest any odd corner of the house you have available for storage? If you don’t knit or crochet, what do you collect and where do you keep it?

Refilling the Well

Refilling the Well

Carousel Socks in Progress by Caro Kinkead

The writing’s been going well this week, but Saturday morning found me oddly out of sorts. Got up late and when I settled down to write, the mind wouldn’t focus and I found myself staring at the blinking cursor, my mind a complete bank.

Part of it was the fact the weather was steamy and, as Cole Porter so eloquently put it, too darn hot. But another part of it was the fact that I’d had a rough week at the day job and a couple of family things demanding attention while I’d kept up the writing. The mythical muse hadn’t gone on a quickie vacation to the Bahamas (or the much-cooler climes of Scotland); the plain, simple fact was that the well was dry at that moment.

Yes, a working writer needs to write even when you’re not in the mood and the words for the day haven’t been produced, but seeing as it was a Saturday, I took much of the day off, relaxed on the couch to help fight the headache that had arrived with the heat and knit. Turner Classics was running in the background (yesterday’s star was Freddie Bartholomew), and I allowed myself time to be lost in the pleasure of knitting. I’m currently working on a pair of Carousel Socks that are constructed by knitting a continuous strip, then adding the heel and the toe. The yarn is Picnic Blanket, with was one of the June Sock Yarnista Club choices from Three Irish Girls.

Now, I’ll confess that the June choices for the club didn’t thrill me at first and I picked this skein because the other one was way too pink cotton candy for me. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, figuring it would linger in my stash until I decided to offer it up for sale. Then I saw the Carousel pattern and knew it was perfect. What originally looked like a hot mess I wouldn’t ever want to use is slowly being shaped into something unique and interesting that will be a joy when it’s finished.

I was able to get words done yesterday, enough to fill my daily minimums, though hardly at the level I’d been managing during the week. I didn’t mind, though. Despite the lingering headache, I felt better because I’d taken that time to do something just for myself and just for the fun of it. It doesn’t matter what we’re trying to achieve in our lives, be it writing a novel, starting a new business, moving up the corporate ladder, creating a warm and loving home for our family, or whatever something else completely, there comes the moment when we have to stop, even if it’s just for a little while, and focus completely on ourselves. The better care you take of yourself, the more you make certain the creative/emotional well is filled, the better you’ll do in whatever your goal is.

How are you going to take care of yourself this week? What’s going to help you fill that well?

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