Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Knitting in Review

2008 Finished Knit and Crochet Projects

I finished knitting or crocheting:
-6 scarves
-1 scarflette
-1 cowl
-4 hats
-4 pairs of socks
-1 pair of gloves
-2 pairs of fingerless mitts
-1 vest
-3 sweaters

The most challenging project was the cabled vest. It was also the most rewarding project, despite all those nasty things I said about their honeycomb cables and i-cord edging. Compared to previous years, most of my knitting was very simple this year. I knit and crocheted a lot of scarves this year, which is unusual for me. I typically abandon scarves when they are still in the scarflette stage.

While knitting was a refuge from stress this year, spinning became a source of stress. I spun intensely during July for the Tour de Fleece, but the wheel remained largely dormant the rest of the time. I sold the Babe Fiber Starter and upgraded the Traditional with a multi-speed flyer that made it zoom. Less than a month later I accidentally snapped the plastic piece that holds the flyer. Oy. I'm putting the spinning aside until I can dedicate a corner exclusively to wheels, spindles and wools. That won't happen until we move, hopefully in May.

I started many projects in 2008 that I did not finish or never got beyond a few rows. Many of these projects were never photographed. Here are a few that were:
2008 Frogged, Abandoned, Forgotten and Ignored Projects
-1 blanket which will be finished this week, now that I have gotten over the knitter knerves. I'm still a little knervous about weaving in all those slippery ends. It seems stupid to be knervous about knitting.

-gloves adapted from the Marina Piccola pattern by Kate Gilbert knit in Devil Jonah colorway. Abandoned after I did the fingers incorrectly. I should fix them and finish them.

-1 self designed fingerless mitt designed for very large hands and knitted from my own yarn in the Unity color. I finished one, put it up as a display to sell the color, took it down and forgot about it. I should finish it.
-A half a sock in color Blue Beetle. I couldn't get it over my heel. This was a theme this year with several pairs of socks. Note to self--enlarge slip stitch sock patterns

-A sample scarf work in progress. This is just a long strip of fabric with a few inches of each color of DK weight yarn on it.

-A side-to-side knit cardigan abandoned for lots and lots of reasons.

-A sock. I have at least 3 other socks in 3 other colors in this exact stage of knitting. Ribbing done, a few rows of knitting and abandoned.

-A simple sweater from an acrylic/cotton blend. The yarn is affordable, wears well and is great for a knock around sweater. Unfortunately, it also shows how badly I row out. This yarn might do better knit in the round.

-Double knitting swatches. This was a miserable failure of a project. If I ever want that Wonder Woman scarf I had better get back to charting and swatching.

-Candleflame shawl. I cast on for this the night our friend Jennie got the call that a set of lungs were available to her. I didn't have anything else available to knit, so I grabbed this from the shop and knit on it. Here's a hint, don't start any kind of lace when your friend is getting a transplant of any sort. It I made a LOT of mistakes and ultimately ended up frogging it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

To rip or not to rip

Rainbow Thunder

To rip, or not to rip, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The mismatched seams and poor finishing of outrageous knitwear,
Or to take arms against a sea of clashing colors and poor yarn choices,
And by opposing, end them. To rip, to frog;
No more; and by rip to say we end
The heart-ache of the thousand dropped stitches
That slippery acrylic is heir to — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To rip, to frog;
To frog, to rip! Perchance to cast on again.

So, finish or frog? That is my plan this afternoon
to lay out the blanket and determine the next steps
A red border I need to call it finished.
A Babies-R-Us gift just as well?
All that garter stitch? To die! To die!
A million ends to weave in, a bad choice.
What if it pills? What if it bleeds?
I ran out of yarn. The dye lot doesn't match.
A great idea at the time, the time has come for a new idea.
Again I ask, a cash gift just as well?

[I have clippings of all the yarns soaking right now to make sure they don't bleed together. I probably should have done that before I ever cast on. I recognize this is fully a case of knitter's nerves. You know knitter's nerves, right? It is that sinking sense of dread you get right before finishing a big project that you've poured a lot of time and resources in to. It is similar to that sense of dread right before you put a finished garment in to water the first time. Will it be absolutely fine or will you discover that you devoted a month of your life to making something headed to the dumpster? It's nerves, pure and simple.]

[Update: I have been soaking the clippings in hot water and Dawn for hours now. I shook the jar they are in vigorously. No bleeding and no pilling. w00t! This is definitely just knitter knerves. I've started the border and onward we go! Remind me again what I was worried about?]

Speaking of

This post is picture heavy. I apologize to dial up users.

In no particular order:

  • I dyed a few colors of a thick and thin wool base up for two friends. One was a color called Elmo in royal blue and purple, which I failed to get a picture of. The other is called Mardi Gras Mambo. This base yarn is fairly inexpensive as far as base yarns go. It is a soft spun single plied with a thinner wool. The wool is just regular old wool. It seems sturdier and less prone to haloing than other softer wools, such as single spun merinos and BFLs. and I wasn't planning on introducing it as a permanent line, but the final product turned out so nicely that I think I might dye a few more up later in the year and call the line Rufus. Maybe. I gave Mardi Gras Mambo to Deborah for her birthday and in no time flat she had made the bag below. The color of the pictures are a little off. I'm not sure how to fix them. I have always had trouble getting good pictures of these particular colors. Aside from the colors, doesn't this bag look great?

  • Speaking of weird colors in pictures, Cindy mentioned yesterday that the pictures of my yarns on my blog don't do the colors justice. I confess I have had a terrible time getting good pictures since daylight savings. The winter light just has a different quality that makes good pictures difficult. Luckily, I received a new light tent for Christmas. As soon as I have the lighting set up my yarn pictures should start looking much more professional. Woohoo! No more waiting for the sun to be just right, no more setting up every light I own and hopefully less monkeying with Photoshop.
  • Speaking of Deborah, she bought the yarn and I crocheted this Ann scarf. I love the way it looks, but the yarn was a knot-filled pain in the neck. Luckily the yarn spliced easily and the scarf turned out well.
Ravelry picRavelry picRavelry pic

  • Speaking of friends, the shop has been hopping with a steady stream of knit blog friends this week. It has been so nice seeing seeing everyone. I only wish I had more time at work to sit with a cup of coffee and catch up with old friends. Of course, if I were sitting and catching up with old friends then it would hardly be work.
  • Last winter I discovered several soap makers on etsy and promptly developed a handmade soap habit. For the most part the essential oil soaps are gentle, nourishing, smell better and clean better than harsh commercial bars. Artisan soaps are also more winter friendly than my summer standard, Dr. Bronner's All-in-One. Unfortunately, they are also more expensive. So when I received a Whole Foods gift certificate last week I promptly went on a soap bender. Kitty thinks they smell good, too.
I went on a soap bender this morningCurious Cat iz curiousCurious Cat smells sniffiesCurious Cat iz in ur face
  • Speaking of work and being professional, I have well and truly messed up my website. I clearly do not know what I am doing. I can't figure out where it is hosted or what I need to do. I signed up for a quick and dirty web site builder and can barely figure out what I'm doing. This is not my forte. I can bold and italicize with the best of them, but give me an html or drag-n-drop template and I am lost. LOST, I tell you. HTML for Morons won't be of any help because truly I don't even know where my website IS. What I need is someone who can speak fluent godaddydotcom to help me out. Where do you find such a person?
  • We are supposed to be at our in-laws Christmas gathering this afternoon. Unfortunately Scott has an awful cold and has been in bed all day. I'm not feeling that great myself. The weird weather has really wreaked havoc with everyone. Blargh. This calls for a day of hot tea and Buffy watching. Or maybe a nap first.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Knitting

My Christmas knitting is finished. Scott still needs to finish a hat, weave in a few ends and find the perfect buttons, but we're going to make it and with very little stress. What's the secret? I slashed my 'to knit' list and split the remaining list with Scott.

Here was what we planned:
5 scarves
5 pairs of socks
1 sweater
1 possible afghan
1 pair of gloves

Here's what happened:
6 scarves (2 crocheted by me, 2 knitted by me, two cowls knitted by Scott)
2 pair of socks (knit by me)
1 pair of gloves (knit by me)

That's 3 pairs of socks, 1 sweater and 1 afghan short of my preliminary goal. I'm okay with it. It was only a preliminary list anyway. The only project I regret is not starting a sweater for Scott. The sweater could conceivably be finished before the end of the year, but only if I could hold my head up long enough to cast on. Anyone else feeling congested, vaguely achy, fatigued and unfocused the last few weeks?

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'd rather be dancing

My perfect office would have the desk I have currently (a 100-year old wooden writing desk with 2 pullout leaves and a hidden typing desk) plus a stand-up desk just like Thomas Jefferson's so that, if the mood strike, I can avoid dying of a blood clot from sitting at my desk for hours dance while I write. I like to think that TJ liked to dance while he wrote.

My birthday is in February. You know, just so you know.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Secret Santa

Dear Secret Santa,

I hope you read this. Thank you for your generous gift. Last year's gift was a life saver. I'm sure this year's gift will be even more so.

Love always,

Scott and Rachel

Friday, December 5, 2008

Stress Knitting

My creation
I don't usually jump on the bandwagon quite so quickly, but, well, Noro. Either you hate Noro or your have an undying love for it that compels you to drop Christmas knitting 3 weeks before Christmas and knit a 9 foot scarf for yourself even though you just declared to the world that you were incapable of knitting a long scarf for yourself. Noro is a perfectly valid excuse for all kinds of misbehavior in my universe.

[P.S. This is not the same Noro 1x1 scarf Scott was knitting in the other post. This is a brand new Noro scarf done in a brioche stitch knit by me.]

[P.P.S. Thanks to 7-Letter Deborah for the brioche idea. I started this scarf 4 times in 4 different needles sizes in 1x1 rib and discovered 4 different times that my knit 1, purl 1 rib needs work--lots and lots of work. Which, if you think about it, is really sad considering what I do for a living. Can I fall back on a 'those who can't, teach' excuse? .... What? That's a terrible excuse and absolutely false? I suppose you are right. I'll be casting on for a 1x1 ribbed scarf right after Christmas knitting is completed (or possibly for Lent *ahem*) and keep on knitting until I consistently produce a fabric I like. It is the right thing to do.]

Monday, December 1, 2008

In which I talk a lot will be down for the next few days. When it goes back up it will probably be a 1-page affair until I can build the site in to what I want it to be. The current configuration and shopping cart software just isn't doing it for me. I'm limited in what I can do with the current shopping cart and website host. Hopefully with the new website will be more flexible and professional looking. In the meantime, Dyeabolical Yarns can still be found on Etsy and I've extended the Thanksgiving sale! Mention you are a blog reader in the Notes to Seller and I will refund your shipping costs if you live in the U.S. or issue a partial refund if you have an international address.

Can we talk about Dyeabolical Yarns for a few minutes? The sheer amount of prep work dyeing requires has has always been a challenge. Prep work has become a real obstacle for me since I went back to freelance work. I perform best when my surroundings are clean and organized, at least my version of organized. If it is out of order I get twitchy and dyeing yarn can't happen if I'm Twitchy.

Twitchy Organized Self, who vacuums a lot and is great at dyeing yarn, is losing the battle to Lazy Cranky Frequently Achy Self who spent Monday, Wednesday and Saturday arguing with a questionably literate client who wants me to find her a first hand account of the afterlife. First hand account of the after life. After sending off a fourth email explaining that such a thing would be impossible, I verified that my sock yarn order would be arriving soon, prepped the kitchen, wound the rest of the wool I had on hand and knit a plain old scarf until I could knit no more. I gave it another shot this morning with the questionably literate client and then dyed my ass some yarn. 2 skeins of a bulky Mardi Gras-esque mutant yarn, 3 skeins of a bulky Elmo, a sweaters worth of chunky organic merino in a Blood Roses and the new White Queen colorway and I'm still boggled at the first hand account of the afterlife request. I'll post pictures of the yarn when it is dry. Do you sometimes feel like life is a non sequitor?

The writing is taking up much more time than I thought it would, especially since the service I use has discovered I have a talent for business documents. Tell me you are a successful salesperson who specializes in high-end electronics and I'll tell you that you are a highly qualified and successful luxury electronics sales professional who consistently outperforms national sales goals.

, I'm grateful for the extra work even at the expense of cutting back on dyeing, but spending so much extra time in my dark cave of an apartment is getting to me. Half of the problem would be solved by either moving the dyeing out of the house or moving to a larger place. Renting dye space seems more likely than moving at the moment. Does anyone know of someplace with running water, decent ventilation, at least some sunlight, and electricity than wouldn't mind the place smelling like wet sheep?