Monday, December 10, 2012

Where are my mittens?!

So firstly...there have been quite a few commenters lately- just wanted to say that you guys rock!  I get comments on my blog all the time- but 99% of the time they're in Russian or wanting to give my readers access to Louis Vuitton knock-offs and it's super awesome to get a real comment from a real person!

Secondly, I'm going to New York City and I leave on Friday!  I'm so pumped- Rob called the other day in the middle of the work day which normally isn't a good thing.  So I answered and good news- he has to be in New York next week for work do I want to come?  At first I said no- I can't really afford the airline ticket right now, much less anything else.  But then I thought- how perfect would it be to stay in New York with my hotel paid for and run around to yarn shops and pimp Good For Ewe? This is a really amazing opportunity- a little shore notice though.  There's lots of shops, I'm sure I can meet with a couple of them.  And then when Rob is out of meetings for the day we can hang out in NYC. So yeah- I'm in! It means that I'm definitely done Christmas shopping- which I think I was anyway (sweet!) and I'm going to be eaten Ramen noodles for a while once I get back, but I'm going to NYC the week before Christmas with my dude and it's going to be AWESOME!

Naturally, the first priority was trip knitting.  I scooted over to Ravelry and checked my queue for some fabulous lacy sock pattern and started feeling a little guilty.  I've got mittens that (apart from the magazine and cable needle they require) would be great travel knitting.  I've still got 2 more doilies to make (and 1 to finish) before Christmas, a hat for my web designer girl, and of course- 2 pairs of socks already on the needles. Okay, maybe I won't start a new project.  If I'm going to be running around in NYC, how much time am I going to have to knit anyway? Oh yeah- 2 flights and a layover EACH way, subway getting around to the different shops, long taxi rides?  Long lines at the store?  I don't know.  Traveling without knitting just isn't going to happen. So, doilies on the plane that stay in the room and then traveling socks- perfect!  But those mittens...
Need to be done before I go!  It's freezing there and I'd be a complete idiot to go without mittens! So this week's knitting will be devoted to finishing the second mitten (54 very cabley rows left) and putting in the 2 thumbs.  What a nice little fire under my butt to get them done!
Good thing I finished my super awesome orange sweater this week- I'm sure it would like to go!  (The term "finished" is used loosely- it still needs ends woven in and a blocking wouldn't hurt)  I love it- except for I wish it were a little longer- adding the extra 4 inches I thought my love handles needed clearly wasn't enough.  I'll add another 3 to the next one- but there will definitely be a next one. It's only a matter of when and what color- I'm leaning towards the 4 balls of light green in the stash.  Which is something I won't buy in New York City...okay maybe a little more stash, I have been a very good destasher this year.

Okay...I have a few things to get done before I go, including buying some jeans that fit, nice shoes that don't have a 4 inch heel, make arrangements for the cats, and of course- finish my mittens!

Happy Hannukah to you all, and to all a good night! (Now that I know I'm a little bit Jewish I can totally say that)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Curse you, M!

So I really don't have any finished projects to report with exception of some handspun, but I just wanted to share with you today my frustration and hatred of the letter M.

(to the clever crafter that noticed my S was backwards- fear not!  This is M actually a W, which is an upside down M and the S does in fact go the right direction)

I should probably explain that a little better.  I hate making Ms in filet crochet (which is how my little doilies are made).  They take so much longer than other letters- most letters take 5 rows to create, Ms take 8-9, depending on which I do that day.  Plus I seem to have this mental block about the Ms and can't do it without looking up a past M.  The first dozen or so I made of these doilies, I had to carry around my few pages of graph paper with all of my letters carefully charted. Now I'm free to crochet without my papers...until I get to an M. It's not a particularly difficult letter to do, just long, boring, and my brain refuses to remember how to form an M in lace.
The last doily I made had two Ms...right next to each other...and I was kind of over the doilies anyway.  It wasn't really that bad, I just liked to grumble about it as my mother was nearby and I frequently joked, saying how they probably wouldn't notice if their last name was misspelled so that I could eliminate 1 or both Ms.  By the way- this was 2 weeks ago.  I'm now TOTALLY over the doilies and still have 3 I need to make before Christmas and 3 more that I would like to make people eventually.  Considering sucking it up and getting them done and off my to-do list. (If you're keeping a mental tally, I decided not to make a doily for the person who gets my knits all the time, as gifts are never reciprocated nor am I thanked  and continuing to craft for this person is a little like continuing to throw freshly finished projects into a black hole)
So with this latest doily for my potential (dare I say probable?) in-laws, I am facing my arch nemesis, M, but it's disguise nearly fooled me- until I actually started it.  Their name starts with SW... as in Smoothly Sailing along WAIT! W is just an M that's upside down! Curse you again, M, with your longness, trickery, mental block and common appearance in last names!  Then I was like, it's cool W-Dawg, I got this.  I'll just put on a pot of tea and crank this W out- and since I've done 3 Ms in the past month, I totally don't need to go find my letter cheat-sheet.  And I was halfway through row 5 and realized...that I've screwed it up.  So now that my W upside-down M is almost done....I get to rip it out and do it all over again.

It took an extra 45 minutes but I'm now on to the third of 5 letters and the world hasn't ended.  So perhaps I'll finish it today, perhaps I'll finish it tomorrow, but it will certainly be done in time for Christmas.  And the great news?  In the next 4 planned doilies, there is not a single M or W.  Winning! (Did you say that last work in a Charlie Sheen voice?  That's how it's meant to be read.)

And on to the topic of the week- finishing up old spinning projects!
I finished 2 more lurking projects this week!  The first we shall call Gilbert Grape.  It is purple shetland wool with little blobby bits of blue soysilk that has been on the wheel since August.  I absolutely love shetland wool.  I know it's not the softest to wear, but it's one of the more affordable fibers and I think it's also one of the easiest to work with if you want a a consistent yarn, which I do.  Plus I have 2 places where I buy my shetland wool, the Wool Room at the State fair (which is where Gilbert was found) and the Feast of the Hunters Moon- a historical reenactment of when the French Fur traders discovered the Wabash area- right around Purdue.  Buying shetland wool from the Shepherd's wife and talking about her sheep (who are all named after Rock Stars) is one of my personal traditions.  It's a great fiber for newer spinners as well.
The second yarn (pink and green) is a little outside my comfort zone, and probably the oldest project I've ever gone back and actually finished.  This merino and silk blend was one of my very first projects as a new spinner- and I got a single braid of it which was probably all I could afford at the time. So we're looking at a spinning project here that's around 8 years old.  The two hanks that were finished were thick & thin and underspun- a far cry from today's spinning.  So I tried very hard to recreate that beginner spinning artyarn yesterday as I finished the third and final hank.  I think there's around 60 yards total- it will definitely be a cowl because it's so soft I can't *not* wear it around my neck.
If you know what you're looking at here, you can see that the third (outside) hank is a plied a lot more tightly than the other two.  I'm patting myself on the back for getting the thick & thin part down though.  Can't win them all, but I do love this yarn.  I'm thinking it's going to be a quick cowl on size 10.5 or 11 needles in either a seed/moss stitch or a Farrow rib.  But if you have other suggestions- holler/leave a comment!

So I'm you have a knitting/crocheting/fiber arts arch nemesis like my M?  I'd love to know if there are any parts of certain projects that you just really can't stand!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Making my list, checking it twice

I've had a fairly productive weekend/start of this week.  My boyfriend has recently started grad school, which means that I go from seeing him 2 nights a week + weekends to maybe 1 night + weekends.  I fully support his furthering his education, but I'm already a little tired of "not tonight, I'm studying".  I've been done with school for a few years and I'd like to keep it that way.  Anyhoo, him being in grad school means I suddenly have a lot more time to knit.  And this weekend plus yesterday proved to be pretty awesome for that.

So I'm able to cross 2 cupcakes off my list!  And the woman who ordered them is picking them up tonight so I'll have some cash for the holiday season....or to put in my savings account.  Now that I'm going to be getting a small but regular income, I'm going to try to start putting some back in savings.  I spent about 80% of my savings on Good For Ewe and then just living after my last paycheck stopped and this one started and I know it's going to be a very long time before I can rebuild it.  But it's so worth it! Wow- gone off on 2 tangents already... I wonder where this blog post WON'T go!
I also finished crocheting the animal bed that I showed you in the last post.  These things are super fast and take up that yarn that you're never going to use.  Plus it goes to a great cause, which gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling that's better than any sweater.  If you have strange stashings, I strongly encourage you to make a few of these!
Madeline isn't looking forward to the blanket going to the shelter- she's claimed it as her own. (She's extra fluffy right now- she has her winter coat on)
I also made Rob's christmas stocking the other day!  I'm seriously excited about being able to cross 3 things off my list over 2 days.  Gives me hope for the rest of it.  Anyhoo, Rob is a big boater- he loves everything about them.  In his spare time (which is kaput thanks to grad school) he rebuilds boat engines, which I think is super hot.  So since our 2nd date at the Sailing Club I have thought that if this thing went anywhere, I would love to make him a nautical themed quilt that he could keep in the boat or the man-cave or whatever.  I still haven't given up on that, but I thought I'd do something much smaller- there's no way a new quilt is getting done before Christmas.  Maybe next Christmas.  So as I was thinking what he could use that's handmade that was small (tissue box cozies and decorative pillows aren't really his thing) I thought...Christmas stocking.  I got on etsy, ordered the 2 boat fabrics and then dug in my stash for a solid color to match. 

The thing that perplexes me about sewing is the sheer quantity of the prep work.  With knitting, you check your gauge, you make sure your math is right, wind the yarn in to balls, and that's about all the prep work that needs to happen.  (Perhaps that's why it's so easy to start dozens of new projects in the blink of an eye). Sewing is a different beast.  First you have to iron your fabric.  Then cut out your pattern.  Then make sure it's going the right direction on the fabric.  Then pin it down and cut it out.  So you've got a solid 25 minutes of prep and 9 pieces of fabric.  Sew together the 3 main bits of fabric that form the stocking.  3 minutes for both sides of the stocking.  Turn under the edges of the brim, sew. 30 seconds.  
The pattern didn't call for it, but I added fusible fleece to the inside to bulk it up.  I just felt that a stocking made of just 1 single sheet of quilting cotton wouldn't be around a terribly long time.  So I added an extra step- cutting the fleece and fusing it on.  20 minutes. Then I sewed the brim and hanger to the inside of the stocking so it would flip out on the right side with the sail boat on the brim going in the right direction.  10 minutes of pinning, checking, 30 seconds of sew, 45 minutes of seam ripping and swearing.  I had pinned the wrong side in- and the wrong side of the fabric was showing on the brim.  
The funny part?  I made that same mistake 1 more time before I figured out how it needed to go.  It was a little easier to rip out the second time.  I walked away, had a cup of tea and went for a run before I attempted it the third time.   But the third time was the charm, and I turned it out, ironed it, and called it a day.  Here it is with my stocking.  But for now, it's wrapped and under the tree. During our 8 days of Christmas, this will be gift #1.

And lastly, I spun some yarn!  I actually started this batt out of sheer boredom during the ice storm of LAST FEBRUARY!  That's right.  This spinning project is really old.  So I've been working on it a little bit a few times a week for a couple months now and yesterday morning I called it done.  I really love it.  I've been working hard to get a more balanced handspun yarn, and this is probably one of my better specimens. It's a heavy fingering weight (which sounds so dirty) and there's 261 yards of it, so not really enough to make socks.  What would you make?